Zackaria Moursi, whose spiritual journey was covered in a an earlier blog post “How an Egyptian discovered Sri Aurobindo” has just published a bilingual book featuring quotes from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The book is listed on Amazon and can also be viewed on his website.
Benjamin Franklin famously said that there are two things we cannot escape: death and taxes (he didn’t know about tax shelters). In this article, we cover observations made by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa on some taxing questions related to death – suicide, euthanasia and capital punishment.
The Bhagavad Gita is an inspiring scripture which people frequently turn to for guidance and also quote in support of their arguments. Unfortunately, its aphoristic quality and the backdrop of the war through which its message has been expounded makes it amenable to divergent interpretations. Pacifists tend to be distressed by the justification of war while the warhawks delight in it. The Gita’s enunciation of multiple spiritual paths provides leeway for commentators to selectively highlight the sections they prefer and ignore the rest of the book. Ethicists, for instance, may assume that the Gita preaches the performance of duty above everything. In this article, we examine Sri Aurobindo’s perspective on the Gita.
In the centuries-old Indian city of Varanasi, there is a hotel with a weird check-out policy: if you don’t die within two weeks, the manager will politely ask you to leave. The hotel caters to a clientele of faithful Hindus who travel to Varanasi specifically to die (more on that hotel later). They are solemnly adhering to the norms laid down in the hoary scriptures that state that death in Varanasi (aka Kashi, Banaras) and some other holy cities can guarantee liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. Is this fast-track to liberation a parochial and outdated belief, or does it imply that anyone living anywhere in the world can attain liberation from rebirth by dying in an Indian holy city? In this article, we examine the continuing validity of such affirmations.
“How would the lives of Western women have been different if they had been raised to believe that God was a Mother, all loving and all powerful?” It is with this thought-provoking question that Lisa “Prajna” Hallstrom opens her book Mother of Bliss on the life of the Bengali woman saint, Anandmayi Ma(1896-1982). Hallstrom, through this book, sought to understand the phenomenon of female spiritual Gurus in India. (See her website)
An Indian spiritual Guru, who shall remain unnamed, was recently asked the question by someone in an American audience: “When does the soul choose a body? After conception, is it ok to abort a foetus if we already have children and do not want an accidental pregnancy?“. The question assumes significance because unlike Christianity, which declares that life begins at conception, Hinduism avers that the souls reincarnate into newer bodies through reincarnation. Since abortion is a politically charged issue, a hushed murmur rippled through the crowd before the Guru gently defused the tension by leaving the question unanswered. (see also Religion_and_abortion)
The short answer to the question “Are Indians more spiritual” is “no, certainly not“. If you look at the hoi polloi, they can be as materialistic as people in other countries – spending their leisure hours shopping in malls and merrily wining and dining their way through life. But the long answer is a little more complicated since it requires some occult perception of the cultural and subconscious atmosphere which pervades in every country. In this article, we present some observations by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa on the East-West differences as regards the spiritual pursuit. Do bear in mind that these observations are not eternal truths. These remarks were uttered at a certain point in time and come with an expiration date, because conditions in various countries can change over time.
When Truths realized by enlightened sages and prophets are relayed down the ages without proper understanding, they tend to get frozen into customs observed by the masses out of habit or due to fear of God. Such archaic customs tend to accumulate until they are shattered by the next enlightened sage who appears on the scene. In this context, these are some striking observations of Mother Mirra Alfassa on some encrustations of Hinduism.