70 years before PM Narendra Modi, when Sri Aurobindo talked about ‘New India’ to mark Independence Day

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New Delhi | Updated: August 15, 2017 3:43:39 PM

India is celebrating Independence Day and also the birthday of sage-philosopher Sri Aurobindo today.

independence day 2017, sri aurobindo, new india, sri aurobindo on new india, narendra modi new india, independence day speechSri Aurobindo. (Image: aurobindoashram.org)

India is celebrating Independence Day and also the birthday of sage-philosopher Sri Aurobindo today. It is just a coincidence that India got independence from the British on his birthday. In a special message aired on All India Radio on the eve of India’s independence in 1947, Aurobindo noted this coincidence, saying, “August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition.”

About the Independence Day, Aurobindo said August 15, 1947 was the “birthday of free India”, meaning an “end of an old era, the beginning of a new age.” Aurobindo even said people can make August 15 by their lives and acts “an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity.”

In India’s independence, Aurobindo saw the “fruition” of all the world-movements he had hoped to see fulfilled in his lifetime, even as they looked like “impracticable dreams” earlier. And he had hoped that India would play a big part in all those movements. Aurobindo said, “Such is the content which I put into this date of India’s liberation; whether or how far this hope will be justified depends upon the new and free India.

The first of Aurobindo’s many dreams was “a revolutionary movement which would create a free and united India.” The sage cautioned, India was free in 1947 but without “unity.” Aurobindo rued that despite independence, a complete union will not be established after independence. “At one moment it almost seemed as if in the very act of liberation she would fall back into the chaos of separate States which preceded the British conquest. But fortunately, it now seems probable that this danger will be averted and a large and powerful, though not yet a complete union will be established.”

Aurobindo was of the opinion that partition of India and Pakistan should end one day. He warned, “the old communal division into Hindus and Muslims seems now to have hardened into a permanent political division of the country. It is to be hoped that this settled fact will not be accepted as settled for ever or as anything more than a temporary expedient. For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go.”

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The sage hoped the end of partition would come “naturally by an increasing recognition of the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action…But by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go; unity must and will be achieved, for it is necessary for the greatness of India’s future.”

Aurobindo’s another dream was for the resurgence and liberation of Asian people. He said “Asia has arisen” and India had her “part to play” in the council of the nations. His third dream was to see the formation of a world union which would be the outer basis of a fairer, brighter and nobler life for all mankind. To some extent, this was eventually achieved by the UN.

“The unification is therefore to the interests of all… But an outward basis is not enough; there must grow up an international spirit and outlook, international forms and institutions must appear, perhaps such developments as dual or multilateral citizenship, willed interchange or voluntary fusion of cultures. Nationalism will have fulfilled itself and lost its militancy and would no longer find these things incompatible with self-preservation and the integrality of its outlook,” he cautioned.

His fourth dream was to see the spiritual gift of India to the world. He was happy that India’s spirituality was entering Europe and America. He hoped “that movement will grow.”

His “final” dream was a step in the direction of “evolution which would raise man to a higher and larger consciousness and begin the solution of the problems” which perplexed and vexed him since he started to think and dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.  Aurobindo noted this was “still a personal hope and an idea, an ideal which has begun to take hold both in India and in the West on forward-looking minds.” (Inputs from www.aurosociety.org)

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