There are people who write books of interpretation, but they read books for 30, 40, 50 years before they attempt to make an interpretation. Here it is a historical fact that Sri Aurobindo had not read the Veda before 1910. And it is a fact that he began to write on the Veda in 1914. It’s a historical fact. Anybody can verify these facts. And how could one write that kind of a book? It’s an amazing phenomenon – the same thing about The Future Poetry. Of course, about The Future Poetry, we can say that Sri Aurobindo himself was a poet from an early stage of his life. But what he has written the wealth of information that is needed to expound what Sri Aurobindo has written, you can write volumes on it, because the entire English literature and poetry, particularly, has been expounded in detail.
And The Human Cycle and The Ideal of Human Unity: how can anybody appreciate The Human Cycle without having a detailed knowledge of social organisations, the main theme of social organisations, the main theme of the history of social organisations? Namely, the theme of unity is the basic theme. Even to bring out that the whole human society, the whole theme of the development history of society is the theme of unity; and by what means human societies have tried to achieve unity; and Sri Aurobindo’s grasp of all the levels of social development. In fact, Sri Aurobindo has said that it is a psychology of social development. At a psychological level, if you want to explain to students, how much work is needed!
So it is in that sense that I feel that a lot of research work requires to be done, by us and by those who will come after us, because it’s a huge work and will require a tremendous programme.
So that was my second reason for preparing the material for The Aim of Life.
My third reason was that a lot of the material that is given to students is usually given in a very highly technical manner, which is very uninteresting, very dry, very scholastic. And to all those who participated in the research work at that time, I had told them that our compilation should not be scholastic. Our emphasis should be on stories. Stories are easier means, or vehicles, of approach to students.
So we should try to find out stories that are relevant to the material that we want to present. We should have good introductions, where scholastic material can come; there can be good notes where scholastic expertise can be manifested. But the body of the story itself should be a very interesting story. This is a very difficult task. But that also was a point of view that was kept in view.
So these are three things that were in my mind and I’m happy to say that all who participated, participated in a tremendous spirit. And we had very, very good, very fruitful workshops, several times. In fact, in the CIRHU paper that I have written, I have given one full faculty of the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. And there I have written that the main task will be to collect and develop background material relevant to the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. That would be one full faculty.
I would like people in Auroville to reflect upon any work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and ask themselves this question, ‘How can this material be presented, can be made accessible to students of various levels, but particularly to the teachers?’ Because if teachers have understood the material very well, then they will be able to transmit to the students in due course. But we should also have materials which can be given directly to the students.
Now these two works which we have produced, The Aim of Life and The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil — at the beginning, we had no idea of the target group at all; we just allowed the things to come up sporadically and spontaneously. And now, when people read them, they all feel that these works are good for teachers: that is, if you want a target group, it is to teachers that you should present and, that too, to teachers who have already quite a good deal of background. This material itself is quite difficult. You might need another research work based upon this to prepare materials which will be easier for students to grasp, for teachers at different levels to grasp. That also is necessary. In any case, people do appreciate that these two books are very good for teachers of a certain level.
So I would like to continue this, at least one target. We can continue with this series of research work. So let me complete this statement of this research work that we have started, that one line: I said the question was: what is essential for every human being, every student to learn about? And the answer that we are trying to arrive at – we cannot say definitively; it is still a question to be explored. And I would like a very collective exploration of this question.
But more and more it becomes clear to me that when Mother wrote her book, On Education, that book is actually an exposition of what every human being and every student needs to learn. I mean, there was already an answer given by the Mother, although Mother said, “We are here to answer that question”. But when I read again what Mother has written in that book On Education I find she’d already answered that question. Everybody needs to know what is education because everybody is, in one way or another, a teacher and a pupil.
Whether we like it or not, our whole human life is nothing but a process of education. Both psychologically and biologically, we are educationists. Everyone either becomes a teacher or becomes a parent and parents have to develop the children and they have to understand what is education. You cannot be a good parent unless you know what is education and how you can bring up the children properly.