Sei sulla pagina 1di 16

Vol. 44 No.


January 2013

... all that is bright is but the shadow of His brightness and by His shining all this shines.
Sri Aurobindo

From the Editors Desk Golconda Diamonds The Mother answers Shyamsunder Foothills to equality (Second Part) II A very special National Youth Day Swami Vivekananda's 1893 Chicago speech Sandy Beaches The Edge of The Sea Indian Youth In Search of IconsI The Challenged Coast of India A summary - Part I James Anderson Sunaina Mandeen Swami Vivekananda Sri Aurobindo Ahana Lakshmi Prema Nandakumar PondyCAN The Editorial team Visakh C. R. The Internet Manju Bonke 2 3 4 6 7 8 10 11 12 14 15 16

Sri Aurobindo's Action Ikea, burritos and some trash

A Cup of Coffee on the Wall

2 Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013

From the Editors Desk

Golconda Diamonds
The Hindu newspaper announced in its International News section: Golconda diamond fetches world record price The rare 76carat diamond, named Archduke Joseph, mined from the erstwhile Golconda kingdom, was sold for a record price of 16.9 million Euro (about Rs.118 crores). It is a world record for a Golconda diamond and a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond Such happenings in the world revive within us the glorious era of India. The Archduke Joseph diamond shares the same lineage as two other world famous diamonds: Koh-i-noor and Hope. The three diamonds were mined from Golconda or Kollur mines and left Indian shores many years ago. Diamonds and India have a special connection. Golconda diamonds are the best diamonds excavated in the world and therefore the most prized. During the 14th through 18th centuries, many young explorers were drawn to India by tales of riches beyond ones wildest dreams and the legend of Sindbad the sailors Valley of Diamonds is unforgettable. India, once upon a time, was so advanced in scientific and socioeconomic development that it was referred to as a Diamond Bird. But it is the inextinguishable divine spark, the most precious diamond, the Soul of India, which radiated its brilliance to the rest of the world. Civilization began here and all branches of knowledge are said to have originated from Indian Philosophy and Culture which were disseminated across the globe through the dedicated endeavour of the Rishis. Once upon a time India was described as a land of heavenly life; the 33 crores manifestations of Gods mentioned in the Indian scriptures referred to the inhabitants of this ancient India. Today, India is not even a shadow of its glorious past. Oblivious of its vast civilization and culture, dumbly imitating the west, after 65 years of independence, it still remains unable to unshackle itself from its colonial past and steer itself towards its spiritual destiny. Once upon a time India had bestowed its knowledge, guidance and creative help upon the rest of the world. The precious diamonds left Indian shores, the vast treasures of Indian civilization lie buried and forgotten, and India now blindly gropes for guidance abroad when the guidance is embedded within its ancient soil. The world at present is facing a big crisis. The very survival of the human race appears to be facing the unprecedented risk of extinction. Refinement of the value system and purification of the external and internal environment of life have therefore become necessaryThe Indian system has all the elements required for the sustenance of progressive life and the rise and culmination of human values to divine heights. There is a need to recover this accumulated treasure of the old spiritual knowledge and experiences. It is the most essential task for us Indians. We have to learn to look at the old truths with a new light and give to these old TRUTHS fresh aspects and novel potentialities to help steer our lives in these modern times. Not that foreign influences have to be neglected, in any case that is impossible in this interconnected world of today. But they have to be rightly assimilated for our own renewal and recovery. Wake up Indians. We are a Special Race. We have forgotten the gift God has bestowed on us. The Indian culture taught to the rest of the world the basis of life, the way to live with the three-fold path of spirituality Knowledge, Works and Devotion. Walk and live like the Rishis and awaken an inner light in the world. Decipher the enigmatic words of the Rishis to adapt them to present times and illumine the world with Indian WISDOM. We can do it and we MUST. Sri Aurobindo writes: We are no ordinary race. We are a people ancient as our hills and rivers and we have behind us a history of manifold greatness, not surpassed by any other race, we are the descendants of those who performed Tapasya and underwent unheard of austerities for the sake of spiritual gain and of their own will submitted to all the sufferings of which humanity is capable. We are people in whom God has chosen to manifest himself more than any other at many great moments of our history. As we step into this New Year - let the resurgence of that golden era of India be the theme of our life. Manju Bonke

Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013 3

The Mother answers Shyamsunder

Cypress trees

Shyamsunder: To be what the Mother wants, isn't this to be transformed? Mother: For all, to prepare themselves for this transformation For some, to begin the work of transformation For a very small number, to hasten the process of transformation 25.6.69

4 Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013

Foothills to equality (Second Part)II

(Continued from December 2012)

The first mountain we have to climb is through endurance. Sri Aurobindo writes: Ordinarily we have to begin with a period of endurance; for we must learn to confront, to suffer and to assimilate all contacts. Each fibre in us must be taught not to wince away from that which pains and repels and not to run eagerly towards that which pleases and attracts, but rather to accept, to face, to bear and to conquer. This is the stoical period of the preparation of equality, its most elementary and yet its heroic age. But this steadfast endurance of the flesh and heart and mind must be reinforced by a sustained sense of spiritual submission to a divine Will: this living clay must yield not only with a stern or courageous acquiescence, but with knowledge or with resignation, even in suffering, to the touch of the divine Hand that is preparing its perfection (2). Before this, we usually have to move forward through our blood, sweat and tears. We have to grit our teeth, try to keep open and wait for something new to take over. That is why a simple faith and surrender is such an asset; they save a lot of wasted labour. Otherwise, we have to try to make the best use of the tools that nature has given us. The outer mind copes as best it can but we can endure more easily when the strength of the spirit starts to come forward. So true endurance surely appears when the soul at last finds some resilience and strength: The gain of this period of resignation and endurance is the souls strength equal to all shocks and contacts (3). The will is central to endurance; for that, the process of individualisation must be complete. Ordinarily, we find ourselves divided in our will, pulled around in very different directions. The only solution is to learn to unify our being. The Mother says: To learn how to will is a very important thing. And to will truly, you must unify your being. In fact, to be a being, one must first unify oneself. If one is pulled by absolutely opposite tendencies, if one spends three-fourths of ones life without being conscious of himself and the reasons why he does things, is one a real being? One does not exist. One is a mass of influences, movements, forces, actions, reactions, but one is not a being. One begins to become a being when one begins to have a will. And one cant have a will unless one is unified (4). Sri Aurobindo calls this period the most heroic stage of growth because it relies upon personal effort and, as long as

the lower nature is active, our effort is necessary. It may even take a considerable effort to accept that something new is taking charge. I look around me and I see quite a few unsung heroes, people whose backbone amounts to no more than a simple faith in the divine Grace. After the devastation caused by the recent cyclone* here, they just seemed to get on with their lives and good-naturedly went about their work to clear up the mess. That, for me, was true heroism.

Two sides
Interestingly, the Mother distinguishes between equality of the soul and equality of the body. Indeed, both are needed: The equality of the soul is a psychological thing. It is the power to bear all happenings, good or bad, without being sad, discouraged, desperate, upset. Whatever happens, you remain serene, peaceful. The other is the equality in the body. It is not psychological, it is something material, to have a physical poise, to receive forces without being troubled. The two are equally necessary if one wants to progress on this path. And other things still. For example, a mental poise; such that all possible ideas, even the most contradictory, may come from all sides without ones being troubled. One can see them and put each in its place. That is mental poise (5). Establishing equanimity in the body gives us the necessary platform to expand and grow. The material base also needs to be sufficiently sturdy for the whole process of change to become total and complete: It is good health, a solid body, well poised; when one does not have the nerves of a little girl that are shaken by the least thing; when one sleeps well, eats well. When one is quite calm, well balanced, very quiet, one has a solid basis and can receive a large number of forces (6). It is very evident to me that this equanimity can only be based on a solid foundation inside. I guess that the situation becomes a little more problematic when there is an inherent weakness within the body itself. Because of this, it has become ever more imperative for me to align it around the only thing that can cement it into a truer shape, and that is the soul. The physical must also be taught to endure before it can conquer. The body needs to be robust in order to surmount the shocks it daily faces. In addition to becoming dynamic and supple, it also needs a quality of immobility. With the impacts that beset it on this path of growth, it sometimes needs to be like a rock. Building a hardy physique through exercise is necessary, but I believe that the ultimate prerequisite must be keeping it open to the divine Force. It is only this Force which
* On 30th December, 2011, Cyclone Thane struck the Tamil Nadu coastline between Chennai and Karaikal

Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013 5 can instil a peace that truly sustains. To let the Force saturate every pore of the body is now this bodys only panacea: it has come down to that. Even the nerves themselves have to become equal to every impact. I find that the state of equality, at least in my brief glimpses, can only be founded on this peace. And peace doesnt have to be static. As the Mother has observed, there can be a dynamic aspect to it too. I believe that when the Peace is allowed to totally reside in the body, physical equanimity is established. The Mother tells us that even our cells can radiate this peace.1 I believe that is a continuous process and that calls for persistence with heaps of patience. The body must grow so accustomed to the Force it can even become indivisible from it. I am sure I am no exception but, as time passes, my life work becomes ever clearer: simply to open the body to the influence of the spirit. Then at last, in one eternal second, the body might find itself moved by it. Later, Sri Aurobindo writes, our equality becomes more active and positive. We expand and widen ourselves. Our equality starts to project outwards from the narrower frame of our individuality. As the individual finds wholeness, he starts to expand into the universe. As he starts to become one, he begins to realise the oneness that lies in all things. His will becomes unified and aligned to the Divine. His knowledge expands beyond every boundary and reaches up to the frontiers of the Supermind. His love becomes vast and transforms into waves of universal Ananda. He can even see the key to evolution. The enigma of existence becomes bare. Active equality surely beholds the soul in everything: One will liberate us from the action of the lower nature and admit us to the calm peace of the divine being; the other will liberate us into the full being and power of the higher nature and admit us to the equal poise and universality of a divine and infinite knowledge, will of action, Ananda (8). The state of equality, for me, represents a pinnacle of supreme balance and it only manifests harmony in all it perceives. It is clearly the highest rung of Integral Health. In truth, it is what we all are in essence. Each of us is whole and intact and indivisible from the essential oneness. In that oneness, the innate delight steps forward to saturate our being. It is our love which does this and it surely comes in adoration at the feet of the Divine Mother. (Concluded) James Anderson

The threshold
Rising higher, further preparatory periods of growth are identified by Sri Aurobindo in The Synthesis of Yoga. It is very evident that much work has already been done to get there. Clearly the lessons learned in the lower climbs are very necessary for the more exacting requirements that lie ahead. Clearly, narrow demarcations cannot be superimposed onto anything as complex and far-reaching as the Integral Yoga. We must also allow variation for the complexities of our nature. Sri Aurobindos intentions were clearly to lay out the broad lines of progress in this work. Ive often heard it termed the roadmap of His long and sometimes tortuous path. But it is clear that the work we put in at the early stages instils in us capacities that will later make our equality concrete and true. Sri Aurobindo tells us that three great summits need to be conquered before one can enter the brilliance of a perfect equality. These are endurance, indifference and submission: will, knowledge and love. We also find ourselves drawn into a two-fold path over this transition. Two poises are necessary. We start by opening to a passive equality, where we gradually unravel from the bonds of our lower nature. This process might begin very early and is, initially at least, largely a matter of self-protection. I found myself examining the ignorance almost from day one of life here and I dont believe Im an exception. There is a Force which simply impels it. We need to hold our heads high amid the madness of the everyday world. Not least of all, we need to protect ourselves from disturbance inside.

2. Op. cit. SABCL, Volume 20. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1970, p.214. 3. Ibid. 4. Op. cit. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 6. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1979, p.348. 5. Op. cit. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 5. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1976, pp.23-4. 6. Ibid. p. 23. 7. Op. cit. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 14. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1980, p.384. 8. Op. cit. SABCL, Volume 21. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1970, p.681.

The Mothers words: Peace in the cells: the indispensable condition for the bodys progress (7).

6 Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013

A very special National Youth Day

In 1984, the Government of India declared the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, the 12th of January, as National Youth Day with a communication saying: it was felt that the philosophy of Swamiji and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration for the Indian Youth. How appropriate that the birthday of this great young hero of modern India be celebrated as the national youth day! On the 12th of January, 2013, the world will celebrate his 150th birth anniversary. To commemorate it, the Ramakrishna Mission is organizing various projects for integrated child development, for the improvement of childrens health by eliminating malnutrition, for empowerment of women, and for alleviating poverty. In the middle of 1890, Swami Vivekananda embarked upon his famous journey of exploration and discovery of India, and he criss-crossed the whole country to try to find out what was holding India back. He discovered that the real cause of Indias downfall was the neglect of the masses, who first needed food and the bare necessities of life. He realised that the downtrodden masses, due to centuries of oppression, had lost faith in their capacity to improve. He wanted them to be taught improved methods of agriculture, as well as the creation of local industries to enable them to grow their own food and be self-supporting. It was during this journey that he also came to Pondicherry in 1893, just a few months before he went to the now legendary Parliament of Religions in Chicago and took the message of Indias wisdom to the world. Of him, Rabindranath Tagore said: If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative. In 1907, Sri Aurobindo wrote in the Bande Mataram: But why should not India then be the first power in the world? Who else has the undisputed right to extend spiritual sway over the world? This was Swami Vivekanandas plan of campaign. India can once more be made conscious of her greatness by an overmastering sense of the greatness of her spirituality. This sense of greatness is the main feeder of all patriotism. This only can put an end to all self-depreciation and generate a burning desire to recover the lost ground. Swami Vivekananda said: My ideal indeed can be put into a few words and that is: to preach unto mankind their divinity, and how to make it manifest in every movement of life. That you may catch my fire, that you may be intensely sincere, that you may die the heroes death on the field of battle -- is the constant prayer of Vivekananda. What better tribute can we give to this Icon of Modern India but to try with intense sincerity to manifest our divinity in every movement of our own lives? Sunaina Mandeen

Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013 7

Swami Vivekananda's 1893 Chicago speech

11th September, 1893 Sisters and Brothers of America It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. l thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to thee. The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me. Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal. Swami Vivekananda

8 Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013


The Ramanathapuram Beach

The blue sea dances like a girl With sapphire and with pearl Crowning her locks. Sunshine and dew Each morn delicious life renew. Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013 9


The beach at Mamallapuram

There is no disturbance in the depths of the Ocean, but above there is the joyous thunder of its shouting and its racing shoreward; so is it with the liberated soul in the midst of violent action. The soul does not act; it only breathes out from itself overwhelming action. Thoughts and Aphorisms Sri Aurobindo

10 Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013

The Edge of The Sea

Rejuvenating ourselves in this unquiet world is essential. The simplest and the best way is to spend a while communing with nature to infuse in us a sense of tranquillity. Mountains are attractive and so are forests. Did not our ancient rishis meditate atop mountains? Think of the Jain or Buddhist monasteries. Most of them were built away from bustling crowds, nestling in caves in hills. But mountains and forests are not every day getaways. Sandy beaches, on the other hand, are equally attractive but easier to access. It is no wonder that the coast is the preferred place to live in and there is nothing like a trip to the beach to recharge oneself. Why is it that amongst nature wondrous splendours, it is beaches that are so attractive? The reasons are not too far off to find. I was lucky to have been born not too far from a beach and my childhood is replete with visits to the beach. The first attraction is of course the sand. As a child, you promptly sit down and start building castles. You grab a handful of sand and let it trickle through your fingers and watch the grains pour out. You repeat that action again and again, the tactile pleasure that is not easily described. It just does not feel the same when you do it in the garden. Years later, you visit the beach again and sit down on the sands. Subconsciously your fingers reach out to the sand and repeat that action of allowing sand to trickle through. That simple action re-establishes the direct, organic connection to the earth, bhoodevi. The sand varies in colour and texture. Sometimes it is fine sand, smooth of texture, almost muddy. You see patterns drawn by the waves as they lap the shore and recede keeping time with a celestial conductor that only they know about. A curve of black grains builds up in a background of pale yellow, almost white sand. Some of the grains glitter as they catch the sun for they are charged with minerals. In places where the mineral concentration is high, the sand is black, like in Kovalam near Trivandrum. In other places, the sand is coarse, the grains are golden like brown sugar. Tiny shells of various shapes, sizes and colours, delicately patterned, are interspersed in the sand. Occasionally one finds a large shell, a spiny murex or a smooth cowrie. As your fingers play with the sand, you stare at the sea. If it is a surf beaten coast, you hear a sound that is like a drum roll. The waters swell, they appear to do a somersault and then form a series of waves as they foam their way towards land, faster and faster, till their energy is spent and they roll back into the sea. No two waves are identical and so, watching the waves swell and fall does not pall at all. It is a continuous action that calms you down, lulls you into tranquillity without being soporific. Perhaps it is the fine salty spray on your face and the ozone tinged air that you breathe that makes you feel refreshed. The foaming waves mesmerize you, calling out to you till you stand at the edge of the sea, your feet sinking into the wet sand. As Sri Aurobindo wrote in To the Sea:

O grey wild sea, Thou hast a message, thunderer, for me. Their huge wide backs Thy monstrous billows raise, abysmal cracks Dug deep between. One pale boat flutters over them, hardly seen. I hear thy roar Call me, Why dost thou linger on the shore With fearful eyes Watching my tops visit their foam-washed skies? .. You watch the waves bearing down at you, make as if to move away but the waves gently swirl around your feet, and leave a curved signature behind you. No two waves make the same patterns, this small feature gives you an inclination of what they mean when they say that shorelines are dynamic, constantly changing, for as the waves arrive and depart, they bring and take away with them grains of sand. Beaches are formed when waves keep bringing more and more sand grains, depositing them and allowing the shoreline to extend into the sea. Sometimes they take more than they bring that is when erosion takes place and beaches disappear. Byrons lines come to mind: Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean-roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; Man marks the earth with ruin - his control Stops with the shore. It is this music of the sea that fills your ears that makes you able to connect with nature even in the middle of a crowd. You now walk along the shoreline and begin to observe the crabs swiftly moving out of their burrows as the waves recede, quickly grabbing tasty morsels that only they can see that have been brought in by the wave and then scuttling back to their burrows as they feel the next wave begin to arrive. Here is a rock, an island jutting out. The sides look patchy white as if carelessly sprayed with whitewash. A closer look shows you lines of barnacles in their homes shaped like miniature volcanoes, waiting to be sprayed as the waves break on the rock. There are patches of green tenacious seaweed that are able to survive in this hostile environment and limpets, oval and round, grazing on the green patches. Is that the only green in this expanse of golden brown on one side and the bluish-green waters on the other? You move away from the sea and walk towards land. It is a bit of a climb, naturally, for it is this mild elevation that keeps the sea from flooding the land. Here and there are sandy hillocks covered with clumps of spiny growth, a grass called Spinifex, aptly known in the vernacular as Ravanas moustache. It is known for its tenacious capacity as a sand binder. There is a wild beauty associated with it, merging with the background, yet proudly visible. And then there are stretches of green Ipomea with purple flowers peeping out. You are now back on land, completely refreshed. Ahana Lakshmi

Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013 11

Indian Youth In Search of IconsI

Often I hear complaints from the younger generation that our culture has become outmoded. We are in the 21st century is a sentence repeatedly flung at me. This is the age of electronic mastery of communications. Science and technology are fast subduing the unknown. So they say and turn away to what they consider new horizons, holding in hand the new icons of inspiration: the cellphone at the ears, the laptop in one hand and the glossy inflight magazine in the other. I do not blame them. In an attempt to show that Indian culture has had the strength to survive twenty to thirty centuries with ease, we have unconsciously made it appear as a Methusaleh out of touch with the modern world. Our scholars repeatedly try to push back the dates of our scriptures as if age alone is holiness. If our Vedas, Upanishads, epics and Puranas have survived all these centuries, it is because they have carried Sauragni in them, the powers of Savita whom we continue to evoke for gathering inspiration: Om tat savitur varenyam bhargo dhevasya dheemahi Dheyo yo na prachodayat Consider this one verse of 24 syllables and watch how it has been the mainstay of innumerable paramparas, from the most orthodox Vedic religions to the Sufi paramparas of dervishes. How can we put an age to it? Another problem that has unconsciously affected the psyche of the younger generation in keeping away from our culture has been the visual representation of our sages in sculpture, painting, films. They seem to be always old people, having matted hair and long beards. Once again, the unconscious comes to the fore. What can this old fogey advice me about my problem today? The contrast is made sharper because of the association of wisdom today with a well groomed look as a Master of Business Administration or the Director of a Multinational. The very richness of Indian culture so wide, so deep has also been a deterrent. What is Indian culture? Is there no single point on which I can remain focused? Hence Indian youth stands today somewhat perplexed about the phenomenon of our culture. The youth generation would like to know what constitutes the core of this tradition which could help them advance in life, material as well as spiritual. But battered by the visual media the answer seems to be elusive. Fortunately for us, a little over a hundred years ago, an event occurred which replicated the Upanishadic times. A guru was seen surrounded by his disciples in a temple at Kolkata. Not much went on except conversation. A conversation that was interspersed with devotional hymns. The guru himself was not very old and many of the disciples were just teenagers.

That was a time when English education and the Western way of living had taken Indian youth in its vice-like grip. That was the time when precious palm leaf manuscripts were being thrown away in the Ganges or Cauvery as worthless scribblings of incomprehensible religious paramparas. That was the time when British rule over India seemed destined to last for ever and ever. Sri Aurobindo, a young man of twenty-two, educated at Cambridge returns home in 1893 and hears of this guru. By then Sri Ramakrishna has withdrawn from the physical and Swami Vivekananda, another young man of thirty is mesmerizing America. Sri Aurobindo, fired by an intense love of his motherland and eager to get his countrymen out of the swoon of Videshi Mahaamoha is thrilled and he flings his challenge at the British Empire. Remember, he announces: Macaulays victims have become devotees of Sri Ramakrishna! Speaking to a large audience at Mahajan Wadi, Bombay on 19th January, 1908, Sri Aurobindo said quietly that if one had faith in God, God will find a way to speak to our heart: It is to the heart that God speaks, it is in the heart that God resides. Some of the highly educated men of Bengal had not ceased to believe in God and when the time came, it was easy for them to recognize the voice of God. If they had not had this faith, they would not have recognized any merit in Indians who had not had their English education. One of them, the man who had the greatest influence and has done the most to regenerate Bengal, could not read and write a single word. He was a man who had been what they call absolutely useless to the world. But he had this one divine faculty in him, that he had more than faith and had realized God. There were the scoffers who did say such men were useless to society. What is the use of a temple priest who can only intone some ritualistic mantras? Even in our own times we have such myopic men who dismiss him as no more than a frenzied priest of a Kali temple. Did he know Kant? Did he invent any technological instrument? Would he have been able to handle the keys of a Remington typewriter that was on the market in his time? But in his own time, Sri Ramakrishna was recognized as a man of God by eminent intellectuals as well. Sri Aurobindo writes of those times: But God knew what he was doing. He sent that man to Bengal and set him in the temple of Dakshineshwar in Calcutta, and from North and South and East and West, the educated men, men who were the pride of the university, who had studied all that the Europe can teach, came to fall at the feet of this young ascetic. The work of salvation, the work of raising India was begun. (To be continued) Prema Nandakumar

12 Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013

The Challenged Coast of India A summary - Part I

This is the first part of a very short summary of the report The Challenged Coast of India which is over 230 pages.

The Study
Indias Coastal Regulation Zone Notification issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. designates a distance of 500 metres landward from the high tide line as the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), where activities are restricted (those that do not require waterfront are largely prohibited). Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMP) are to be prepared by each state. Non-availability of these maps makes it difficult for civil society as well as the primary stakeholders to take informed decisions about large-scale activities being planned in coastal areas.

The coast is the interface between the sea and the land, a place that is constantly changing in time and space. Coastal areas also harbour a variety of ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds, mudflats and sandy shores which are regions of high biodiversity. The coast is also very vulnerable to a variety of natural hazards such as cyclones and tsunamis. People have always lived on or near the coast for the relatively equitable climate, apart from important coastal livelihoods such as fisheries and coastal agriculture. Todays globalization requires movement of large quantities of raw materials and finished goods, and consequently there is strong emphasis on the development of ports and harbours. Concomitantly, the areas around the port are also under development pressure for industries, tourism and settlements. Coastal land use and land cover is changing rapidly with urbanization and industrialization. Natural ecosystems are stressed and there is a breakdown or deterioration in ecosystem services. Destruction of habitats has been reported as one of the top causes for loss of biodiversity according to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Overall, the Indian coast is under tremendous pressure from population and development. However, there are no assessments available at the national level to provide estimates of the extent of the coast that is actually occupied by various human activities, and their possible impacts on coastal biodiversity.

Coastal Biodiversity
Coastal wetlands, among the most productive of ecosystems, have been mapped by the Space Application Centre as covering 40,230 km2. Major ecosystems here include mangroves, mudflats, salt marshes, coral reefs, seagrass beds, estuaries and lagoons, all of which are highly productive and support extensive fisheries and associated livelihoods. Probably only about a third of Indias coastal habitats have been surveyed for biodiversity, with mostly commercially important fin fish and shellfish, corals, larger reptiles and mammals inventoried. Mangroves of the Sunderbans of West Bengal, Coringa in Andhra Pradesh and Bhitarkanika in Odisha are well known. The coastal lagoons of Chilika, Pulicat and Vembanad as well as the Rann of Kachchh are important stop-over points for migratory birds. While some areas and specific species have been given various forms/levels of protection under Indian laws, physical alteration and destruction of habitats, especially of mangroves and mudflats, is a major threat to biodiversity. In this study, 17 protected areas were mapped along the coast, covering a length of 647.46 km, about 10% of the coastline.

COP 11 of the CBD in India

As part of the activities of the National Coastal Protection Campaign (NCPC) for the eleventh Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD COP 11, PondyCAN (Pondy Citizens Action Network) along with TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences) with funding support from BNHS took up the responsibility of preparing the position paper for Coastal Area Management in India to provide concrete information about the distribution of human activities at a national level using Google Earth maps and other geospatial navigation tools as well as from available literature and supported by secondary information.

Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013 13

Coastal Settlements
India has a large number of coastal cities, including the two megacities of Mumbai and Kolkata, Chennai, Tuticorin, Cuddalore, Visakhapatnam, Puducherry, Kochi, Mangalore and Surat. Many of the port cities are also becoming industrial hubs and transforming into urban agglomerations. There are a number of smaller towns and villages located along the coast with populations largely dependent on agriculture and fishing. This study found 1,262 settlements along the coast occupying 1,411.17 km, or more than 21% of the coastline.

Old Lamp for New Oil

Some thoughts haunt in the cold morning fog, When the limbs curl up clinging To familiar warmth, under the bog Of accumulated days of living. Need to shake the slumber, Awake and put on the shoes. Pound the pavement asunder Chase away the blues. New and true, true and new The riddle of perpetual youth That elusive elixir fed to the few Need to steal, rob, reveal the truth. One more day on the horizon, One more chance to take life on. Chandresh

Marine fishing communities live close to the shoreline and form a sizeable population. While most states have permanent settlements of marine fishers, there are places where seasonal migration takes place when the fishing communities camp in temporary shelters. The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institutes Census of 2010 estimates that the marine fishing community consists of 42,53,451 people in 9,18,340 families living in 3,288 villages across the 9 states and 2 union territories of the mainland. Of these, 90% belong to traditional fisher families. Odisha has the maximum number of settlements (813) followed by Tamil Nadu (573). Tamil Nadu has the largest population of marine fishers (8.02 lakhs), followed by West Bengal (6.34 lakhs) and Kerala (6.10 lakhs). (To be continued) PondyCAN We deeply regret an inadvertent error on page 10 of our November 2012 issue where, in the box on the top of the page entitled On Indian Architecture XI, instead of the following quotation from Sri Aurobindo, the text on the previous pages 8 and 9 was repeated. The Eds team apologises for this error. The box should have read as below On Indian Architecture - XI Indian sacred architecture of whatever date, style or dedication goes back to something timelessly ancient and now outside India almost wholly lost, something which belongs to the past, and yet it goes forward too, though this the rationalistic mind will not easily admit, to something which will return upon us and is already beginning to return, something which belongs to the future. An Indian temple, to whatever godhead it may be built, is in its inmost reality an altar raised to the divine Self, a house of the Cosmic Spirit, an appeal and aspiration to the Infinite. Sri Aurobindo

14 Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013

Sri Aurobindo's Action

In the Mothers words: The only and unique aim of Sri Aurobindos Action is the country India India has to guard her independence. India has to defend herself. India has to reorganise herself
The only solution of the countrys problems is what Sri Aurobindo has given in His writings. He has replied to all questions, including capitalism, communism, political organisation. These are to be put together. And He wrote in English but as many Indians do not know English it is necessary to translate in the languages which they understand. His message has to be spread all over the country, His solutions are to be shown to all who wish to know.
This is what the Sri Aurobindos Action journal has aspired for since its very first issue, which came out in October 1970 with Manoj Das as its editor followed by Shyam Sunder, who remained its editor from April 1973 till his passing away on July 28th 2011. Manju Bonke and Sunaina Mandeen who have been assisting Shyam Sunder with this publication since the last several years, now form the editorial team and strive to work towards Indias Resurgence, through the journal. But, this needs your active participation. It is only a collective action that can bring about this long awaited and much needed resurgence that we all wish for. So please start by giving feed back, by sending your contributions, photos, pieces of writing, poems, sketches, and letters. Please also send your phone numbers and email IDs to us at and visit our website The Mothers message in April 1972 said:

India shall take her true place in the world only when she will become integrally the messenger of the Divine Life.
Let us welcome the New Year 2013, with a promise to ourselves to fulfill the Mothers message actively and sincerely.

The Editorial team (Manju Bonke & Sunaina Mandeen)

Sri Aurobindos Action January 2013 15

Ikea, burritos and some trash

Sell your garbage for Rs.10 a kilogram. Swap your old newspaper, bottles and garbage for groceries. These are some statements which any city dweller will dream about. But its true and is happening in this world. Sweden, a Scandinavian country, with around nine million residents, generates 4.8 million tonnes of trash a year but only 4 per cent of it ends up in landfill. Thanks to Swedens highly successful and efficient waste management system, they have now run out of trash! Sweden has developed an enviable system in which much of the household waste is recovered or recycled. The waste-toenergy programme converts waste into energy to power one-fifth of the district heating systems, and also provides electricity to around 2,50,000 houses. The problem is that Sweden is faced with a situation where it has to look for more garbage to burn. So, it has turned to its neighbours for help. It is planning to import 800,000 tonnes of trash to cope with the shortage. Norway has already started sending loads of trash and the Swedish authorities are looking forward to signing new trade agreements with Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and other Baltic countries to satiate their garbage power plants. The cautious might point out that burning waste will produce harmful chemicals. Its true, and as per the agreement with Norway, Sweden will return the ashes (which contain harmful chemicals such as dioxins). Its up to the Norwegian authorities to clean it up. And Norwegians are happy, since its cheaper than recycling the trash themselves. In another corner of the world, a country, which is known mostly for its guns, drugs and cuisine, is making progress with innovative ways of handling trash. In Mexico City, capital of Mexico, the 21 million residents have found a new way to buy groceries and vegetables. Its a giant step forward, but Mexican authorities have taken a leaf out of our ancestors book. Since March 2012, they have been running a market which works based on the barter system. Its as simple as it can get. Bring your trash, especially paper, plastic and bottles, and get locally-grown food items in return. Its estimated that the market collects around 20 tonnes of scrap every month. The government subsidises the prices. As The Economist points out, the scrap is sold to recyclers for 40,000 pesos ($ 3066), and the food items are bought from local farmers for 90,000 pesos ($6,900). The government chips in with the difference. But this is a very little amount to pay for a trash management system which not only reduces the headache for the local authorities but also encourages local farmers at the same time. Swedens process is technologically highly advanced, whereas Mexicos is a back-to-the-basics approach. Both are working well, and the city-dwellers as well as the authorities are heaving a sigh of relief. Instead of waking up to the foul smell of rotting garbage and driving through streets filled with trash, the Scandinavians can relax with the heating system fully on during cold and chilly winter nights. As for the Mexicans, well, they can enjoy a burrito with some guacamole made from the locallygrown avocados. If only we could implement one of these initiatives our cities, which teem with garbage! But how many of us will bother to segregate our trash? And how many more scams will they create? VISAKH C. R. Courtesy, The Hindu, Nov 25, 2012

We are reminded of the times when in our neighborhoods too people would come to collect old clothes, broken plastic and glass against which we could get new pots and pans. There was also a time when we could barter recyclable material for locally grown vegetables. Solutions are all around us, we just need to make up our minds to find them and implement them. And the first step to any solution for the issue of garbage that looms huge in our daily lives in all our towns and cities is segregation at source, a habit that needs to be developed by each and every Indian. Eds team

16 Sri Aurobindos Action January

Reg. with the Registrar of Newspapers for India No. R.N. 18134:70 Dates of posting: 29th & 30th of every month 2013

REGISTERED: TN/PMG(CCR)/113/1214 Sanction to post without pre-payment: WPP No. 44

A Cup of Coffee on the Wall

I sat with my friend in a well-known coffee shop in a neighboring town of Venice, the city of lights and water. As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat at an empty table beside us. He called the waiter and placed his order saying, Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall. We heard this order with interest and observed that he was served with one cup of coffee but he paid for two. As soon as he left, the waiter pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying A Cup of Coffee. While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, two on the table and one on the wall. They had two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. This time also, the waiter did the same; he pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying, A Cup of Coffee. It seemed that this gesture was a norm at this place. However, it was something unique and perplexing for us. Since we had nothing to do with the matter, we finished our coffee, paid the bill and left. After a few days, we again had a chance to go to this coffee shop. While we were enjoying our coffee, a man entered. The way this man was dressed did not match the standard nor the atmosphere of this coffee shop. Poverty was evident from the looks on his face. As he seated himself, he looked at the wall and said, one cup of coffee from the wall. The waiter served coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity. The man had his coffee and left without paying. We were amazed to watch all this when the waiter took off a piece of paper from the wall and threw it in the dust bin. Now it was no surprise for us the matter was very clear. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town welled up our eyes in tears. Coffee is not a need of our society neither a necessity of life for us. The point to note is that when we take pleasure in many blessings, maybe we also need to think about those people who appreciate that specific blessing as much as we do but they cannot afford to have it. Note the character of this waiter, who is playing a consistent and generous role to get this profound communication going between the affording and the needy with a smile on his face. Ponder upon the need of what this man wantsHe enters the coffee shop without having to lower his self-esteem He has no need to ask for a free cup of coffeeWithout asking or knowing about the one who is giving this cup of coffee to himHe only looked at the wall, placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left. When we analyze this story, along with the other characters, we need to remember the role played by the wall that reflects the generosity and care of the dwellers of this town. Probably the most beautiful mural you may ever see anywhere!!!
Courtesy: the Internet Quotations from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother are printed with the kind permission of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. Printed at All India Press. Puducherry, by Nishant Jhunjhunwala and published by him on belhalf of Sri Aurobindos Action, Puducherry605002, India. Founder Editor: Shyam Sunder, Editorial Team: Manju Bonke and Sunaina Mandeen, e-mail: Subscription: Inland Rs. 80 (Annual for individuals), Rs. 100 (Annual for libraries/institutions) Rs. 1600 (25 years for individuals) Overseas (sea) $10 (annual) $200 (25 years), (air) $20 (annual) $400 (25 years) Single Copy: Rs. 10.00