Author: Dr. Beloo Mehra
Release date: April 25, 2022
On April 25, 2022, during the National Seminar on Sri Aurobindo’s Nationalism organised by Sri Aurobindo Society, a book titled “Understanding Contemporary India in the Light of Sri Aurobindo” authored by Dr. Beloo Mehra, Senior Academic Mentor at AuroBharati was released. The book is published by Auropublications, the publication wing of Sri Aurobindo Society.
Ms. Gayatri Majumdar from Auropublications, who also edited the book, introduced the book and gave a brief background of the author, Dr. Mehra. The book was released by Prof. Makarand Paranjape, Professor of English at Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Shri Pradeep Narang, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society.
Prof. Makarand Paranjape then gave a brief overview of some of the key and unique aspects of the book. The author Dr. Beloo Mehra thanked all the guests of honour and the audience present at the book launch event.
What is the book about?
Sri Aurobindo once said that one of the most important reasons for the decline of Indian civilisation and culture was the loss of free intellectual activity. Today we surely see some signs of an intellectual awakening. We hear several voices that challenge the hitherto accepted ways of thinking about India and everything Indian. These voices try to present a culturally rooted, indigenous and a forward-looking view of understanding India’s past, present and future.
Such voices are resonating with many open-minded and curious learners and citizens, thus broadening the circle of influence. But a lot more work is needed for an all-encompassing, a wide-ranging renewal and renaissance of Indian society. All who are concerned about India’s future as a nation, as a civilisation, can play their part in this intellectual awakening.
This book presents one such attempt in this direction. The author tries to remind her fellow Indians and all those interested in India – let us start thinking, and think deeply and widely. We must not become passive consumers of information, mindlessly accepting or rejecting what others have said just because they have been given the label of ‘thinkers’ or ‘experts’ or ‘intellectuals.’ We must continue to critically examine, evaluate and think through all the observations, opinions, analyses, reflections that come from various sources – academics, journalists, opinion-makers, think tanks, policy experts, celebrities, everyone.
This book reminds the readers to carefully investigate what is said about India in the social-cultural-political discourse and come to our own conclusions. The author asserts that for India to rise to her full potential Indians must start thinking, freely and independently of all ideological preferences and fashionable academic theories of the day, without the façade of political correctness. We must examine all the data points in the light of the truth of the Indian spirit. We must, in all honesty and sincerity, start a personal journey of re-discovering the Indian spirit, in the Indian way, if a new India is to be reborn.
A Glance at the Book Contents
The essays explore selected social-cultural phenomena and topics concerning India in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s sociological-cultural vision and thought. The main themes include:
- fundamental question of who qualifies to be called an intellectual, a true thinker
- nation and nationalism in the light of deeper Indian spirit
- role and limits of reason in the context of religion and social reform
- inter-religious harmony in India, particularly between Hinduism and Islam
- commercialism in in the light of ancient Indian wisdom and Sri Aurobindo’s insights
- contemplation on Dharma and ‘spiritual practicality’ in the light of Sri Aurobindo
- re-envisioning Indian education in the light of Indian spirit
- equality and freedom for women, especially with regard to education and marriage, in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s integral vision of life, human development and individual and societal evolution of consciousness
- deeper significance of Ramayana in the Indian collective psyche