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Book review: ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Grand Synthesis’ – A talk by Beloo Mehra

Date: November 1, 2022

Venue: Unity Pavilion, Auroville

On November 1, Dr. Beloo Mehra, Senior Academic Mentor of AuroBharati was invited to participate in the Book Release function organised by Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA), Puducherry Regional Center. The occasion was the official launch of Dr. Ananda Reddy’s new book titled ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Grand Synthesis’ — published by IGNCA as a homage to Sri Aurobindo during his 150th birth anniversary year.

The event was organised at Unity Pavilion in Auroville with Dr. Gopal Jayaraman, Director, IGNCA, Puducherry as the official host in collaboration with Sri Aurobindo Center of Advanced Research (SACAR).

The author of this book, Dr. Ananda Reddy is the founder-director of SACAR and is an internationally acclaimed foremost scholar in Sri Aurobindo Studies, especially Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, yoga and poetry. ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Grand Synthesis’ is his most recent book which presents a brief account of ten major works of Sri Aurobindo in a comprehensive yet simple manner to make the profound works of Sri Aurobindo more approachable to university and college students.

Dr Jayanti Ravi, Secretary, Auroville Foundation and Prof. Gurmeet Singh, Vice-chancellor of Pondicherry University were the chief guests at the occasion.

After the book release, address by Prof. Gurmeet Singh, and author’s comments about his inspiration and his journey of writing this book, Dr. Beloo Mehra was invited to present some thoughts on the book based on her reading.

In her comments, Dr. Mehra pointed out that the book is written with an important objective – to be the first entry point for those who have an aspiration to start reading Sri Aurobindo’s massive works carefully and patiently but may get intimidated by the sheer volume and size of some of these books. The book ‘Sri Aurobindo: The Grand Synthesis’ can give the right light and guidance to such an aspirant to begin the journey.

Dr. Mehra briefly, and in a structured manner, gave an overview of the book and focused on a few salient points from some of its key chapters. She highlighted the point that right in its first few chapters the book reminds the reader that even when the author speaks of the history of the evolutionary march of spirit in humanity, his main concern remains the future march of humanity, because that is what Sri Aurobindo is – a messenger of the future.

She highlighted that even when dealing with profound and complex thought, the author’s voice in the book when integrated with his carefully selected appropriate passages from various works of Sri Aurobindo gives the reader a calming sense of assurance and hope that despite all the turmoil and the chaos in the world today, there is a Divine Will and Plan at work which is leading us all to a glorious supramental future.

Dr. Mehra also highlighted a few points from the chapter titled ‘Stages of Sri Aurobindo’s Literary Output’ and said that it can serve as a great aid to any new reader of Sri Aurobindo’s works. She emphasised the value of the integrative approach of the author which has been used throughout the ten chapters which present ten major works of Sri Aurobindo.

Dr. Ananda Reddy, she said has presented not a mere summary of these ten books of Sri Aurobindo, or given a quick peek at the wonders that await the reader when he or she picks them up. Rather, reading each of these chapters gives a sense that the reader has now understood the essential core of a particular work and has the necessary preparation to approach it on his or her own. This, Dr. Mehra said is the key strength of this book. She also highlighted how the Epilogue of the book brilliantly synthesises and brings new light to understand the significance and value of each of the chapters in this book.

Dr. Mehra concluded her remarks by expressing her sincere congratulations and gratitude to the author, Dr. Ananda Reddy for writing this very important book. She also thanked IGNCA for publishing this book and endorsing it so that it may become part of the curricula in higher educational institutions across the country and the world.  

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