In 1920, Sri Aurobindo wrote to his brother, Barin, about his concept of a sangh, a community of individuals spread throughout the country, dedicated to the high ideals he had envisaged as necessary for transforming the nation so that it could fulfil its destiny. In those days the primary goal of all was to become free from British rule. But Sri Aurobindo went beyond that and under-stood that a radical change had to come about in the Indian character and consciousness for anything lasting and significant to occur.
Sri Aurobindo wrote this letter to his brother from Pondicherry, where he had settled after a year spent in the Alipur jail. It is interesting to note that a few years after writing this letter and expressing his ideas the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh came into being, with structure and goals similar to those Sri Aurobindo wrote of in this letter. He was almost brutal in his description of the failings of the Indian character and the reasons why the nation was not able to free itself from British rule. In particular he emphasised the need to worship power and that having lost that capacity, India could not fulfil her destiny, much less liberate herself from foreign subjugation. He was equally very clear that a community of individuals was the call of the hour and not simply an individual working in isolation from the rest. He further emphasised the necessity to search for an Indian way or solution, as for example, a new form of politics to replace what he considered simply an aping of Europe:
We do not want to exclude any of the world’s activities. Politics, trade, social organisation, poetry, art, literature – all will remain. But all will be given a new life, a new form.
Why did I leave politics? Because our politics is not the genuine Indian thing; it is a European import, an imitation of European ways. But it too was needed. You and I also engaged in politics of the European style. If we had not done so, the country would not have risen, and we would not have had the experience or obtained a full development. Even now there is a need for it, not so much in Bengal as in the other provinces of India. But now the time has come to take hold of the substance instead of extending the shadow. We have to awaken the true soul of India and to do everything in accordance with it. For the last ten years I have been silently pouring my influence into this foreign political vessel, and there has been some result. I can continue to do this whenever necessary. But if I took up that work again openly, associating with the political leaders and working with them, it would be supporting an alien law of being and a false political life.
Sri Aurobindo was therefore very clear that there was an Indian way and certain laws of the nation’s being had to be respected for the country’s unique destiny to manifest. Failing to do this, he warns of the consequences:
I can associate with everyone, but only in order to draw them onto the true path, while keeping the spirit and form of our ideal intact. If that is not done we will lose our way and the true work will not be accomplished. If we spread out everywhere as individuals, something will no doubt be done; if we spread ourselves out everywhere in the form of a sangha, a hundred times more will be accomplished. But the time has not yet come for this. If we try to give it form hastily, it will not be the exact thing I want. The sangha will at first be in a diffused form. Those who have accepted the ideal, although bound together, will work in different places. Afterwards, bound into a sangha with a form like a spiritual commune, they will shape all their activities according to the Self and according to the needs of the age. Not a fixed and rigid form like that of the old Aryan society, not a stagnant back-water, but a free form that can spread itself out like the sea with its multitudinous waves – engulfing this, inundating that, absorbing all – and as this continues a spiritual community will be established. This is my present idea; it is not yet fully developed. What is being developed is what came to me in my meditations at Alipur. I shall see what shape it finally takes later. The result is in God’s hands – let his will be done.
The necessity for a sangha was therefore foremost in his consciousness. It was clearly the need of the hour. ‘This is the infancy, the embryonic state, of the new age, just a hint, not yet the be-ginning,’ he wrote. And indeed, five years later a sangha was formed when the dawn of that anticipated new age had arrived.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, it has to be noted, began its formal existence precisely at the start of the new Aquarian Age, 1926. It was a year of immense importance for the whole Earth. Hints of this importance were in evidence across the globe. But in India the formation of the RSS was certainly an indication that the time had come for a major change in the life of the nation. For Sri Aurobindo himself, 1926 marked the formal beginning of his work based on a spiritual attainment that was the harbinger of the Supramental Age he had foreseen as the culmination of a long line of development originating in the distant Vedic Age.
The point to be made is that the need for an organisation such as the RSS was in tune with the demands of a more cosmic order, shall we say. As such it is necessary to view its history in a wider context and the role it must play in contemporary Indian society. In this overview we will also assess what the immediate future may hold for such an enterprise.
The imperative of ‘contingency plans’
Eighty years have elapsed since Sri Aurobindo wrote of the need to evolve a new politics that would be more in tune with the soul of India. We know that this did not happen. India and most of the former colonies of Great Britain continue to govern their people by way of a parliamentary democracy. What are the consequences of this failing?
The RSS’ 75th year is an appropriate time to review its own role in the context of the above. We will discover that the organisation came into being as a balancing factor, or better, a contingency plan, to counter this failing. There were other such ‘contingency plans’ which I have described elsewhere in my writings. But we are concerned in this essay with the role of this special sangh over the years, and what its future contribution might be in light of Sri Aurobindo’s call.
I have written elsewhere of the formula devised by the divine Shakti by which, from the time of the first war of Independence in 1875, the nation would be granted a stabilising factor and a method for holding it together during its tumultuous formative years. This too was a ‘contingency plan’ in view of the fact that not only was the nation under foreign domination, but when finally free of that rule it had opted for a system that was not ‘the Indian way’, as Sri Aurobindo had desired.
This labourious ‘plan’ was completed in 1989 to a large extent. At that time single-party rule, under the leadership of what has come to be known as the Dynasty, came to an end. The nation then appeared to enter a period of confusion, turmoil and uncertainty once that axial formation was completed in which the Dynasty played a central role. But the chaos is only a question of externals and does not correspond to the deeper levels of destiny; it exists because during the intervening years from Independence to the present, that ‘Indian Way’ did not take shape. At least to all appearances.
The interesting point to bear in mind is that a new way did indeed arise and come into evidence since 1875, utilising the Dynasty and other factors as tools for this new mechanism. In other words, with those existing tools the true Indian way did evolve, unknown to all. The discovery of this mechanism and its purpose and future role could only be unveiled after1971, when certain essential ingredients in the formula had been incorporated.
I have written extensively on thishidden aspect of India’s destiny – i.e., the precise formula whereby a new mechanism is seen to have been operating, albeit in camouflaged form, since 1875. But it has to be borne in mind that when a process is hidden, or is really one thing while pretending in this external, material dimension to be another, there is attendant damage, destruction, and at certain points chaos to be expected. Given the fact that the divine Shakti has to work through inappropriate forms, there must inevitably be an accompanying loss of power. The concentration of energy required to carry the movement forward is significantly reduced. This introduces gaps, as it were, where energy is siphoned off; the result is a diminishing, or destruction of some sort because the true form, consisting of a certain shape to contain a determined energy balance, is not en-countered on the material plane where destiny is played out. An example would be the form of the nation itself. In its higher destiny it has a certain shape, but on the ground that shape has been carved into and sections of the body of Bharat Mata have been cut out. The result is that in its spatial dimensions there is an inappropriate vessel and energy seeps out through these ‘gaps’.
The pulse of destiny
In spite of this insufficiency the initial work has been done and in a certain sense successfully completed. Various aforementioned ‘contingency plans’ have been set in motion at appropriate times to counterbalance the loss due to this inadequate political, social and even physical form.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is one such ‘plan’. Therefore, it is quite reasonable to observe that the organisation often appears to be at odds with the political establishment, and even its own offspring, the present government, since its role has been to serve as a means of keeping the nation on a certain track that is in harmony with its pulse of destiny. This pulse is only one, not many. And in this we note another difficulty.
When we repeat the refrain, Unity in Diversity, we must understand what unity means for this ancient land. We know what its diversity is, but few are aware of the true nature of unity for this ancient civilisation. It has to do with the fact that of all the nations on Earth only India can lay claim to an unbroken civilisational line from the very distant past to the present. This is part and parcel of the role India is to play in the contemporary global context. I shall elaborate this point more fully further on.
This being the case, the original pulse of destiny is still sounding in the civilisation’s inner dimensions of being and it can still be ‘heard’. All Indians, and I repeat all, can hear that pulse and learn that they are in tune with it and that it resonates in the hearts of all inhabitants of this land. It is the upholding foundation of the contemporary nation, just as it was in ancient times. This is the energy field that permeates the consciousness of Bharat Mata. To deny its existence, or to claim that this underlying, upholding field of a given pulsation is non-existent, or else that it has been altered or modified over the ages, is to demonstrate ignorance of the workings of the Time-Spirit. For had that ‘thread’ from the ancient past been broken somewhere along the line of Time, we could then agree that ‘something else’ had taken the place of the original Pulse. This not having been the case, wisdom demands that we must accept this true position and work with it and not against it, for to do so is simply to prolong the present confusion and to foster a society that is at odds with its truth of being. When such is the case, all citizens abiding within the consciousness of Bharat Mata, of whatever creed, caste and class must necessarily suffer.
Thus, when the present Sarsangchalak encourages all Indians to ‘join the mainstream’, he is in fact putting forth the same call: To find a harmony with this underlying and inalterable Pulse of Destiny that still today constitutes the nation’s upholding energy base.
The new unifying Language
I have demonstrated this cosmologically in all my written works. The point to be stressed is that cosmology is non-denominational, non-sectarian, and certainly not communal. The problem is that a new way is required, a new formulation that, while not denying the old, draws this discourse beyond the confines of these delimiting factors. When a new Age dawns, as Sri Aurobindo announced and cosmology confirms, it means that we have entered a transitional period and a new language must evolve to express more adequately the contemporary condition and demands. We know that the Vedic and Puranic Gods and Goddesses are expressions of cosmic energies. We must also realise that the cosmos is impersonal. Everything we know, every crystallisation of form is that same Energy, however we wish to label it. Indeed, ‘Truth (that Energy) is one, the wise know it by many names.’ Therefore, the new cosmology is simply a tool for drawing aside the veils covering that truth and rediscovering the original Pulse of the civilisation as the unifying factor of a common destiny.
It is perfectly proper for the Sarsangchalak to exhort all his fellow countrymen and women to accept this common heritage, not necessarily as Ram or Krishna and all the other cosmic Energies, but as an inherited Pulse of Destiny which, in an unbroken line of Time, unlike in any other civilisation, continues to uphold and to influence from its field of unity the contemporary diversity that forms this 21st century nation. We may ignore this fact; we may deny it; we may even make war against it. But none of this changes the reality that is Bharat and will ever remain Bharat for all its inhabitants.
Until 1989, the present Indian political structure was the channel for a meticulous and mathematical expression of that sacred Pulsation. Since then however, since the axis of the new India was forged and securely set in place, a period of turmoil seems to have ensued. It has continued until today and is likely to continue into the future. Unless, of course, other ‘forms’ come into being and the Time-Spirit is provided an adequate vessel for expressing that true Pulsation. The ostensible reason for this turmoil has been the collapse of single party rule. Coalition politics, after an initial upheaval attendant upon that collapse, seems now relatively stable. But this is simply a transitional period. Underlying the present calm is a power working to create new vessels, a new form of democratic process that will better express the nation’s unity in diversity. This is one of the sacred duties of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and kindred organisations.
The universal harmonies
There are certain rhythms in the universe that the ancients called the music of the spheres. These can be ‘heard’, listened to as one would listen to music. Carnatic music still bears a direct relation to those harmonies as perceived in ancient times. It is, in a sense, the celestial harmonies formu-lated in a manner that can permit a listener, from whatever social class or creed, to appreciate that same divine Melody. Music of this order is thus a means to extend a Sage’s vision or perception to the populace. Along with other cultural expressions, it is a binding element in the civilisation. For a civilisation to endure, and the Vedic is one of the very few to survive the passage of time, there has to be this cosmic connection, because in this way Time is an ally in the evolutionary progression as creator rather than destroyer.
Thus the need is to find a harmonisation with the Power that acts through channels inherent in the cosmic manifestation. It has various names but perhaps the best to describe its fullest properties is the Divine Shakti; or else, as in ancient times, the Divine Maya. This is the key to permanency and the ancients founded this civilisation on just such a principle.
By means of the same ancient science, renewed for the present, we can also locate a particular area on the globe that is especially receptive to the workings of this Power. These spatial configurations, if they are to embody a certain sacred quality, must also be harmonised with the power of Time. In so doing, that area acquires a special purpose in evolution, and because of its singular properties we can refer to it as the embodiment of the Mother, Bharat Mata. Further, due to this special harmonisation and integration of space as well as time, the land so described can be termed a centre, in the truest cosmological sense.
As with any circle there is one centre at the midpoint of its diameter; the circumscribing periphery is held together by the central Point. If we take the whole of the Earth with all its continents and the nations located on these continents, as the periphery, we observe that Bharat occupies the perfect centre for the circumscribing periphery due to these unique harmonising and integrating properties which make of it a centre. This places a special burden on a civilisation that happens to find itself in this position, particularly during this 9th Manifestation which began in 234 BC. Such a civilisation may be said to be ‘chosen’, but far from being a privileged circumstance, a very great responsibility lays upon the nation: the future of the entire evolutionary process hinges on that civilisation’s enduring wisdom.
Similar to a musical composition, the cosmic harmonies that connect the civilisation to the greater Harmony are based on a particular scale. In this 9th Manifestation the scale consists of nine notes; thus, 0 to 9. Each of these nine are tones, as it were. With certain keys at our disposal we can apply this scale to many areas of life and to many different activities, as well as the beginning of certain enterprises, or even the birth of an individual. Thus we apply the scale to the birth of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, for example, and read its destiny, or rather ‘hear’ its destiny, just as one would listen to a raga.
It is pertinent in this 75th anniversary of the Sangh to ‘listen’ to the harmony of its particular destiny and ‘hear’ what it might foretell. More important, it will be of interest to those who celebrate the occasion to learn in what way this 75th year might have more meaning than others, if indeed that is the case, and what that special meaning might be.
It needs to be stated at this point that in this assessment we are not employing a predictive science such as astrology. It is not a question of ‘seeing the future’, in the ordinary sense. Rather, through this Music of the Spheres one seeks to find a means of entry into the vast movement of the cosmos by finding the correct note we are meant to sound within the Harmony, be this individually or collectively, so that a true harmony emerges by our contribution. In other words, we wish to know the sacred formula that will enable us to contribute to an emerging cosmos, or divine Order, in a manner that least distorts that cosmic Theme.