7 Jun 2014

SRI AUROBINDO ON HEGEL

SRI AUROBINDO: Somebody has said that I have a great similarity to Hegel because I used the word "synthesis" and he speaks of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. But I must confess I have no idea of what Hegel says.
Western philosophies are so mental and dry. They seem to lead to nothing, only mental gymnastics trying to find out things like, "What is judgment?" and "What is not judgment?" They appear to be written for the purpose of using the mind, not for finding or arriving at the Truth.

(Nirodbaran, Talks with Sri Aurobindo (2001), 18 January 1939, pp 172-73)


SRI AUROBINDO: Life compromises between elements but mind acting on its own doesn't. Mind takes up one thing and makes it absolute, considers it as apart from and opposed to all other things and sets it above all. Hegel boasted that in Europe they had succeeded in separating reason from life—and you see what their philosophy has become. It has nothing to do with life; it is all intellectual gymnastics without forming a part of living reality. On the contrary, in India philosophy has always been a part of life; it had an aim to realise everything. So in the political philosophy of the West you find that if they accept democracy, it is democracy alone; all the rest is set against it. If they take to monarchy, then monarchy is all in all. The same thing happened in ancient Greece. They fought for democracy, aristocracy, monarchy — and in the end they were conquered by the Romans.

(Nirodbaran, Talks with Sri Aurobindo (2001), 26 January 1939, p 209)


SRI AUROBINDO:  In my own case so long as I was in the mind I couldn't understand philosophy at all. I tried to read Kant but couldn't read more than one page. Plato, of course, I read. But it was only when I went above the mind that I could understand philosophy and write philosophy. Ideas and thoughts began to flow in, visions and spiritual experience. Insight and spiritual perception, a sort of revelation built my philosophy. It was not by any process of mental reasoning or argument that I wrote the Arya.

NIRODBARAN: Then you didn't try by the mind to understand?

SRI AUROBINDO: As I said, I read only one page of Kant and then gave it up, because it wouldn't go in: that is, it didn't become real to me. I was like Manilal grappling with The Life Divine. Plato I could read, as he was not merely metaphysical. Nietzsche also because of his powerful ideas. In Indian philosophy I read the Upanishads and the Gita, etc. They are, of course, mainly results of spiritual experience. People think I must be immensely learned and know all about Hegel, Kant and the others. The fact is that I haven't even read them; and people don't know I have written everything from experience and spiritual perception. Modern philosophers wrap their ideas up in extraordinary phraseology and there is too much gymnastics of the mind—even then they don't seem to have gone deeper than the Greeks in their ideas and theories.

(Nirodbaran, Talks with Sri Aurobindo (2001), 5 March 1940, p 530)


Charu Chandra Dutt wrote a review of the "Life Divine" in the Vishva Bharati. When it was read out to Sri Aurobindo he said:

He may continue it, it may be for some people an introduction to "Life Divine".

But you may draw his attention to the following points.

i. He states: "There can be no escape for the Spirit embodied in matter except through an integral yoga".

If we accept that position then the goal set forth by the Adwaitwadins becomes impossible of realisation. What I say is not that it is impossible but that such an escape could not have been the object for which the world was created.

ii. He says that I derived my technique from Shanker.

That is not true. I have not read much of philosophy. It is like those who say that I am influenced by Hegel. Some even say that I am influenced by Neitzsche because I quoted his sentence: "You can become yourself by exceeding yourself".

The only books that have influenced me are the Gita and the Upanishads. What I wrote was the work of intuition and inspiration working on the basis of my spiri­tual experience. I have no other technique like the modern philosopher whose philosophy I consider only intellectual and therefore of secondary value. Experience and formula­tion of experience I consider as the true aim of philosophy. The rest is merely intellectual work and may be interesting but nothing more.

(A.B. Purani, Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo (2007), 26 August 1940, pp 105-06)

1 comment:

  1. Comment by Alok Pandey:

    Very beautiful. I hope this silences the critics who keep comparing Sri Aurobindo with western 'thinkers' and have the stupidity to believe that Sri Aurobindo was only repeating what Hegel said etc etc. In fact these people do not even know the basic difference between thought straining towards the Spirit to have some indirect glimpse and the Spirit pouring itself through thought.

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