Sometime back a prestigious magazine featured an article in which India was likened to a film in which there were many sub-plots but no main storyline. A cultural diversity that is unparalleled in the world; more than a dozen main languages and hundreds of dialects; a powerful military; the largest democracy of the world; a history of several millennia; an intellectual heritage which boasts of outstanding contributions in the march of human progressyet no main story. The critics are hoarse with their descriptions of the seamier side of Indian life. India continues to be a land of `a million mutinies'. The population continues to rise and it will not be too long before it overtakes China. Even with our present growth rates we will achieve the level of development of the U.S.A. in some 104 years. The cities are overflowing with people; corruption is thriving; civic amenities are hopeless; the proletariat is sunk in inertia; the water table is falling; terrorism is rampant in parts; the parliamentary system of government is gasping for breath under the weight of coalition politics; the decrepit caste system still flourishes; communal riots are a commonplace of life; there is no link language for the country; cricket has become part of national culture but science still hasn't and remains as a kind of genie to serve our wants: this list can be greatly prolonged.
"Shall India die?" Swami Vivekananda had asked more than a hundred years ago and proceeded to answer his own question, "Then from the world all spirituality will be extinct; all moral perfection will be extinct; all sweet-souled sympathy for religion will be extinct; all ideality will be extinct; and in its place will reign the duality of lust and luxury as the male and female deities, with money as its priest, fraud, force and competition its ceremonies and the human soul its sacrifice. Such a thing can never be." Such a thing can never bewhat a force of conviction! Such a thing can never be because India preserves that which preserves the world. In a word, "God". All the other ancient nations have lost their link with their past, India alone retains a living continuity with her ancient past in the form of its spiritual Masters. It cannot be gainsaid that we are a nation beset with contradictions. Yet in the resolution of India's conflicts lies the evolutionary future of the world for the Spirit of India does not admit any half-hearted compromise as a solution to its problems.The Indian Spirit and the World's Future
is a compilation of articles by K. D. Sethna (Amal Kiran). These articles first appeared as editorials in the journal Mother India
during the period 1949 to 1952 and were issued in book form in 1953. India has changed in many ways since then. Yet we may say of it, plus ça change plus c'est la même chose,
the more it changes the more it remains the same. This is the rationale for a second impression of the book after a gap of so many years. With great sensitivity and consummate insight, Sethna disengages the Indian Spirit (the main story) from its many manifestations (the sub-plots). In Sri Aurobindo, his Master, he has a being who epitomizes best all that Indian spirituality has to offer and who represents the acme of evolutionary possibility. Revolving around the Aurobindonian weltanschauung,
these essays are an exploration of several contemporary public issues and some others which are of interest to admirers of Sri Aurobindo. Espousing a spiritual approach to Nationalism, Sethna points out that this approach is free from the defects of all other approaches. The higher value this lends to the concept and purpose of Nationalism, "not only answers most truly to the Indian genius and thereby promises to advance it the best but also makes a power that can carry India to a future greater than any possible to other countries on the strength of their own Nationalism: it promises to place India in the van of the world as a leader in the evolution of consciousness from the human to the divine." These words of Sethna at the culmination of the first essay set the tone for the rest of the book, which delights as it reveals a nuanced approach to life mundane and spiritual. Among its many essays is one titled, "The Passing of Sri Aurobindo: Its Inner Significance and Consequence". This piece was occasioned by the Master's mahasamadhi.
This essay elicited the following response from the Mother. "It is quite the best thing Amal has written. I would like to print 15,000 copies." (29.12.1950)
Hemant is an M.Sc. in Chemistry from I.I.T., Kanpur. He is on the editorial team of the Mother India journal. His interests include poetry and philosophy.