Prof. Kireet Joshi: Can you repeat your third point which you had mentioned.
Debashish: Yes, Kireet ji, basically with these points you have actually addressed the third point in addressing the second. The point I was making over there is that exactly as you said, it is a social organisation through machinery that capitalism also represents. But in a way it is more insidious, more invisible and it appears to release the individual to a certain kind of freedom, but it’s a illusionistic freedom because it really controls the individual through the conscience, through the creation of the subject. It makes us or manufactures us into certain kind of desiring beings, who have a certain type of prospect in front of us of a life-style and also a kind of a adherence to the progress of reason. But we do this in a sort of an invisible way that through education, through socialisation, we are made to feel as if we had chosen this path but it is actually been chosen for us. So it is the individual freedom of choice, which at a deeper level in some sense controlled rather than being coerced from outside by machinery, it is like a virus the machinery has gone inside us and has created us into a rational and egoistic desiring beings of the neo-liberalist global world order, that was what I was saying.
Prof. Kireet Joshi: I think you have covered the point quite well and I would like to sum up this our discussion by pointing out that the nerve of the impasse is the development of rationality, reaching up to a certain point and getting arrested as in post-modernism today and getting arrested on another line in the experiments which have been made on three ideals which reason has put forward namely, – Freedom and Equality and Fraternity. And last several centuries have proved that these three ideals which reason demands should be perfectly synthesised and harmonised, cannot be harmonised. When liberty is allowed, equality is murdered, when equality is attempted, liberty is strangulated. And as far as brotherhood is concerned that is hardly at all in the picture except in ideas on a kind of a lip service. This is another line on which our reason stands arrested and we do not really know how we can create a social structure, which can fulfil all the three ideals together and both these actually, the present post-modernism and secondly the arrestation of the experimentation in regard to liberty, equality and fraternity, the arrestation of these two movements, or the arrestation of the movement of reason on two lines combined together, is the nerve of the impasse. If you can move forward after this and today we are exactly at this point, we are now circling round and round and round, and it’s a perilous movement round and round because of the fact that the economic man, the barbarian has come forward as the most important element in the situation. So you might say that this is the impasse to which we have reached and I would like to now move forward to the fourth point that Sri Aurobindo had suggested would be likely namely solution of the religion, which is already now being advocated and which has already now come into the forefront and it is that point which I would like to consider before moving forward because even this solution which is being put forward by many, which would declare that reason has failed, let us leave aside reason and let us try to build a society on some other grounds, namely the grounds of religion.
Now this solution that is being put forward requires to be formulated more clearly and I would like to refer to a few lines in The Life Divine, on page no. 1058; where Sri Aurobindo has very precisely stated what exactly is the solution that is being put forward on the side of religion.
Sri Aurobindo says “There is the possibility that in the swing back from a mechanistic idea of life and society the human mind may seek refuge in a return to the religious idea and a society governed or sanctioned by religion.” I think this is a very powerful statement and although this proposition has not absolutely been put forward in this precise form but there is a very big movement today in the world, where there is formula ‘return to the basic’, ‘return to the values’ and there is a tremendous urge among human beings today to find certainty and to escape this kind of uncertainty which has arisen all over, not only in the mental field but also uncertainty on account of factors like warming of the earth and so on.
Religion seems to be giving to mankind, a kind of a message. This message has three aspects, one that reason is not the provider of knowledge that human being requires for his journey. Secondly that there is another source of knowledge, namely revelation and this revelation cannot be questioned and if mankind wants to be guided it has to accept the truth revealed by revelation. And thirdly, that there is a rule of conduct which is implied in the revelation, which if followed by human beings would give to the individuals a kind of a fulfilment and even a possibility of a perfected social living. These three propositions are involved in the call of religion.
Now on this subject Sri Aurobindo has written at length and in The Human Cycle particularly, Sri Aurobindo has spoken of the reason and religion, one full chapter has been given by Sri Aurobindo entitled Reason and Religion, this is chapter no. XIII of The Human Cycle, it is part of the volume XV of the centenary edition and he has also given another chapter and that is the chapter entitled Religion as the Law of Life, and that is chapter number XVII, in The Human Cycle. It is not my intention to go into these two chapters, I will simply state one sentence from The Life Divine, where Sri Aurobindo says that “…. organised religion, though it can provide a means of inner uplift for the individual and preserve in it or behind it a way for his opening to spiritual experience, has not changed human life and society; it could not do so because, in governing society, it had to compromise with the lower parts of life and could not insist on the inner change of the whole being; it could insist only on a credal adherence, a formal acceptance of its ethical standards and a conformity to institution, ceremony and ritual.”
There is today however a more difficult situation that we are facing and that is the claim of certain religions to spread over the whole humanity and to convert the whole humanity into the fold of one religion or the other. That is to say to seek the unity of mankind by unifying all the people under the umbrella of one particular religion. And since several religions are doing the same thing or trying to do the same thing there is a tremendous rivalry among these religions and you might say that there is at present a possibility or partially even speaking actuality of the conflict of religions in full swing. And this is one stage through which I think through which humanity has to pass, unless something else happens and we can minimise the perils that this conflict of religions would pose to mankind. It is better therefore that humanity comes to study the problem of religion in its fullness, realise what religion can do, what religion cannot do and how one can transcend the necessity of returning to religions.
According to Sri Aurobindo this can be done first of all by pointing out that reliance upon dogma which is the kernel of many religions and which are sharply in conflict with each other, cannot give the solution that humanity is seeking. That is to say that first of all we have to understand role of dogma in religion, secondly we have to realise that no religion can uplift a social life. A given religion can uplift a few individuals or even many individuals but human nature being very varied has tremendous variety of human consciousness, it is impossible that any one particular religion will be able to unify humanity and can uplift humanity.
The third point is that whatever religio-ethical practise that can be proposed cannot transform, cannot really uplift, it can purify to some extent, it can control to some extent and very often religions are obliged to turn into some kind of asceticism, a world negating affirmation in which the world is condemned to be meaningless ultimately, or a compromise in which a religious life and ordinary life both are allowed to some extent to live side by side. As a result there is no solution; that is why Sri Aurobindo says, this is on page 1059. “A total spiritual direction given to the whole life and the whole nature can alone lift humanity beyond itself…..” “It is only the full emergence of the soul, the full descent of the native light and power of the Spirit and the consequent replacement or transformation and uplifting of our insufficient mental and vital nature by a spiritual and supramental supernature that can effect this evolutionary miracle.” Well this is the conclusion to which our study could lead of the exact point of impasse and the manner by which impasse can be crossed.