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November 03, 2005

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Tusar N. Mohapatra

Wisest man, Worst poet, any takers?

The swadeshi movement was, from a Moderate point of view, a negation of the entire Congress project. As a partisan of the Moderates it gives me great satisfaction that Bengal’s greatest poet, Tagore, got it exactly right and her worst, Aurobindo Ghose, got it perfectly wrong.
Mukul Kesavan The Telegraph Sunday, May 29, 2005

We move on to Aurobindo, who, again, at times propagated ideas uncannily similar to Islam, as in the wish to return to a Golden Age where all was truth and righteousness. Then we come to Vivekananda, to this writer the most ambivalent, and hence most appealing, of the four.
Ramachandra Guha The Telegraph Saturday, April 17, 2004

These are unreasonable remarks from fairly reasonable people. And, similar impressions have gained wide currency over the years through such supposed expert comments. By ticking off the versatile legacy of Sri Aurobindo in just one sentence is certainly cruel to his memory. It appears that he is still standing before the bar of the High Court of History.

Everybody is eminently entitled to her views but what is questionable is the methodology. It has become a fashion, or almost a compulsion of sorts, to mention the name of Sri Aurobindo as an appendage to others. But, why bring in his name at all, if only to show him in bad light?

For the fact is that, the very project of comparision in this manner, is arbitrary. Sri Aurobindo’s work in the political sphere begins when Swami Vivekananda is no longer there. Tagore is almost a spectator in the sidelines and Gandhi is yet to enter into the picture. And again, the tenor of their work, so dissimilar.

Each of the great men like these has contributed to areas of specific significance which come to form our national mosaic. But in manufacturing the synthetic metaphysics of The Life Divine and composing the epic, Savitri, Sri Aurobindo’s genius is unparalleled, not only in India but also in the whole world.

All writers may not be competent to perceive the nuances of poetry or philosophy. But then, they are expected to be honest enough not to beat someone with the wrong stick. It is only rarely that we read any independent assessment of Sri Aurobindo in the media. But his role is indispensable for the national regeneration everyone is hoping for.

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