Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, has attracted the attention of innumerable minds - saints', philosophers', thinkers', leaders', pilgrims', visitors', tourists', commoners' - in varied ways. Quite a good deal has also been written on it and about it in meaningful perspectives.
And yet there arises now and then the necessity of turning to an intrinsic study of this Ashram which has a world-wide reputation for its uniqueness, particularly since it is clearly pronounced to be not simply a peace resort, though of course peace dwells here natively, but a place of concentrated endea-vour for spiritual perfection in life, aiming not at liberation from phenomenal existence but at constant progression towards realization and manifestation of the Spirit in the world, a New Vision, a New Future.
This necessity is not so much for projecting an image of the Ashram as for a proper reorientation of those who belong to the Ashram and those others who are closely associated with its multiple activities in pursuit of its objectives. It is the need of consciously reiterating to ourselves what is always important and yet what by easy familiarity we somehow miss to recognize the value of.
Here comes in response to this need and necessity a long sustained essay from Prof. Jugal Kishore Mukherjee, a sizeable monograph bearing the caption Sri Aurobindo Ashram: Its Role, Responsibility and Future Destiny, having in its development as many as twenty-one sections with sub-headings, commencing from "The Pioneers" and culminating in "The Ashram Marches towards Its Glorious Destiny". There are details in it of the initial stages of the Ashram which has grown steadily and also phenomenally. But it is not meant to be only a narrative. It is much more a thematic presentation of the development of the Ashram, with its sustained purpose of preparing the human stuff for a new, a spiritual future. With every thought in the developing sections there are appropriate quotations from the writings of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo which enlighten and guide and inspire. Thus, the monograph has a double character: it is a document and an agenda, both in one.
Prof. Mukherjee speaks of the Ashram not only in terms of its great aim and the extraordinary privilege we have of the guidance received from the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, he also refers to the problems of human frailties due to man's ordinary nature, particularly the problems of the corporate life of the sadhaks in freedom from customary codes, venturing to enter into self-vigilance and inner discipline, the problems of transition from the socio-moral standards of conduct to spiritual self-rule. Consistently the author views such problems in the light of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and offers certain meaningful suggestions including the possible criteria for admission of individuals to the Ashram in the future. In all this one reads his firm commitment to the ideals set by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, his sober assessment of the present position of the Ashram, and his unshaking faith in the spiritual destiny of the Ashram.
While considering all things that present themselves in the proposed study of the Ashram, its raison d'être, its Yogic grounding, its past phases and present status and future prospects, its problems and its promises etc., etc., Prof Mukherjee draws frequently and abundantly from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. These excerpts, - often from The Life Divine, - carry their great value, variedly as enunciation, exhortation, guidance, instruction, help, caution, promise, and assurance. Sometimes a single quotation presents a whole thesis.
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