Prof. Kireet Joshi: You have made three points. If you allow me I will first touch upon these three points, is that alright in order. Well, I would summarise your points by saying first that we are all trying to become very precise about what I call the nerve of the impasse today. You know there are so many ideas which have now come up before us and it is quite possible that we may lose the nerve of the impasse while speaking of many ideas. So let me first of all before returning to these three points that you have mentioned let me preface the reaction to your three comments by recapturing three important points, which need to be kept in view while examining in the present impasse.
The first premiss of the whole argument is that human nature is complex. We will not be able to get the nerve of the impasse unless we start with a statement that human nature is complex. And as Sri Aurobindo has explained and which I had quoted in full where Sri Aurobindo speaks of the mental, vital, physical, spiritual conglomeration in every individual and in the social fabric, these four points and the way in which they are all interwoven and that is what makes our nature and its movement very complex, that’s the first point. The second point is that there has been in the history of mankind a constant struggle to bring about some kind of a relation between the individual and the collectivity into some kind of a harmony or perfection. And the whole history of mankind as I had said can be read in the light of the constant conflict between the individual and the collectivity and the efforts made by the human race to bring these two terms into some kind of accommodation. The third point is, I have not reffered to it uptil now but I would like to present to you one paragraph once again from Sri Aurobindo and this is from The Human Cycle, which also I would like to read out because that also is a necessary part of the premise on which we are working, where Sri Aurobindo speaks of the three ages of The Human Cycle, this is on page no.173, of The Human Cycle, vol. no. XV of the centenary edition. And I will read that one paragraph in which once again Sri Aurobindo has summarised the whole history of human kind and emphasised three stages of this Human Cycle, corresponding to three basic elements in the human being,– the infrarational, the rational and the suprational, or physical-vital on the one hand and the mental in the middle and then the higher spiritual, which Sri Aurobindo has spoken in his description of the complexity of the human nature. Now in this paragraph Sri Aurobindo speaks of the social development going through these following three stages. And let me read out to you that particular paragraph where Sri Aurobindo says:
“We have seen that there are necessarily three stages of the social evolution or, generally, of the human evolution in both individual and society. Our evolution starts with an infrarational stage in which men have not yet learned to refer their life and action in its principles and its forms to the judgment of the clarified intelligence; for they still act principally out of their instincts, impulses, spontaneous ideas, vital intuitions or obey a customary response to desire, need and circumstance, – it is these things that are canalised or crystallised in their social institutions. Man proceeds by various stages out of these beginnings towards a rational age in which his intelligent will more or less developed becomes the judge, arbiter and presiding motive of his thought, feeling and action, the moulder, destroyer and recreator of his leading ideas, aims and intuitions. Finally, if our analysis and forecast are correct, the human evolution must move through a subjective towards a suprarational or spiritual age in which he will develop progressively a greater spiritual, supra-intellectual and intuitive, perhaps in the end a more than intuitive, a gnostic consciousness. He will be able to perceive a higher divine end, a divine sanction, a divine light of guidance for all he seeks to be, think, feel and do, and able, too, more and more to obey and live in this larger light and power. That will not be done by any rule of infrarational religious impulse and ecstasy, such as characterised or rather darkly illumined the obscure confusion and brute violence of the Middle Ages, but by a higher spiritual living for which the clarities of the reason are a necessary preparation and into which they too will be taken up, transformed, brought to their invisible source.”
This is the paragraph in which Sri Aurobindo describes three stages through which human cycle will proceed, two of the stages of which first of course has been completed, second is about to be ended, third is about to begin. This is Sri Aurobindo’s statement. Now if you read these three premises which are put before, we shall be able to get the real nerve of the impasse and the three points that you have raised in your comment can be better dealt with in the light of this precision that we may arrive at. The important point is, if human nature was not complex, if the human nature had not to pass through stages of development in a complex manner and if there was not a great difficulty in relating individual and the collectivity probably our historical development of the humankind or even of evolution would have been much smoother and much more rapid. Btu these three premises which have been laid down here indicate their process is rather difficult. Why it should be so difficult apart from the complexity of human nature and so on has another premise and that is Sri Aurobindo’s entire theory of evolution, to which we shall have time to refer later on but that also is a fact that there is today an evolutionary process and it is because of the evolutionary process that there is a groping movement and this groping movement is the characteristic of the entire history of mankind. In this groping movement it is not easy to forecast what exactly will happen. You might say certain stages can be more or less pre-staged. But the movement is a groping movement and there is a lot of possibilities. Now in that context because there is groping movement there are many possibilities, what has actually happened is that the rationalistic age which began particularly with the renaissance through reformation and so on , that movement had a kind of a chequered movement. And it is that chequered movement of which post-modernism today is a culminating point, and we shall come to this chequered movement presently. In that chequered movement there has been enormous development of human consciousness on certain lines. And this enormous development has not been matched by development of other parts of our consciousness. and because of the mismatch the impasse has been created and this is one point that I would like to make precise that the root cause of the impasse is this that there has been particularly with the development of science which has produced huge structures of organisation, this has not been matched by the development of those elements of reason and inner consciousness of morality and aesthetics and other aspects of consciousness and spiritual element, these have not matched with the movement of science and huge structures it has constructed. This mismatch is the reason for the impasse.
Now even this impasse, even this difficulty would not have mattered very much if certain thing had not to happen. But it has happened, certain thing could have happened, it could have been avoided but it has happened. and that is the humanity’s preponderance for organisation of economic life. Now I would say that this was not an inevitable development, it could have been avoided, if reason had to develop in a different way, not the way in which it has developed so far, as I said a chequered movement of the rational development. The vital man, the materialistic man was always a possibility. The emergence of barbarism has always been affected in the human civilisation. And at this stage of human development perhaps this could have avoided but it had resurged and in a tremendously powerful manner. As Sri Aurobindo says in the civilised form of human society, in which rational development of man has led us to, has been crossed by very powerful assertion of the economic, vitalistic man and by the powers of science and the hugeness of structure which can be put at the service of the economic man and the economic perfection, social development. This barbarism which has arisen now, it is that which has caused the precise point of the impasse.