Tracing the Path towards Sri Aurobindo’s Heightened Consciousness
Dr Pariksith Singh’s Sri Aurobindo and The Literary Renaissance of India is a book that commands one’s attention. Attention that is very well deserved. As someone who has been an avid reader invested in works of literature that emerge from the colonies and the non-canon, this piece of writing is a literary wonder that tells us as much about Sri Aurobindo’s genius as it does about the author. Often quoted simultaneously in the book as a national treasure, a great litterateur, and yet an unrecognized figure, Sri Aurobindo’s life surpasses that of the conventional. An ardent follower of the Sanatana Dharma and believer in the art and act of engaging with the higher self to occupy space in the literary, spiritual as well as the physical realms of being, this book is the doorway to reaching a heightened consciousness.
Various questions may arise for the reader while moving from one chapter to the other. In a similar vein, many questions may find their answers in the reading experience. What is oftentimes wrongfully noted as the “handicap” of not knowing or being able to comprehend many Western critics and canonised theorists is subverted and finds space in this book through simplified and well traced coexistences between the aforesaid and Aurobindonian worldviews. Philosophies of Nietzsche, Sartre, Derrida among others, are given a credible and detailed sparknotes-ish twist, made to accommodate (and even postdate) Aurobindo’s philosophies and teachings. Playwrights that have gained our favour over the years are seen as mirror images of Aurobindo, with their form and content finding links with Aurobindo’s own, though the latter’s stylistics and experimental virtuoso saw no bounds.
It is intriguing, to say the least, how a Renaissance man like Sri Aurobindo finds little to no mention in our own canon. A gifted writer, Sri Aurobindo’s skill set in a modern-day resume would list his mastery in poetry, prose writing, plays, translations, as well as literary criticism. This book then is an homage to the greatness of an Aurobindonian way of thinking where one is constantly and consistently devoted to their art, indebted to the intellectual depths of where the human mind can go. This is a call to action and national awakening, a call to commit to learning and uncovering more of the Guru himself.
“It is my opinion that India will return to a greater literary output with increased puissance, self-confidence, impact on world culture and literature, and wideness of scale and reach. That the veins of its golden riches are yet overflowing and opulent. Sri Aurobindo in a unique way created new lines of development and thought on a broad scale and initiated a movement of adherence to the genius of India among our writers, poets and thinkers while being forward-looking and modern… He is not the cause of our renaissance – no one person can ever be, nor is that my thesis – but he is a representative man, embodying the dawn of a new age of kavya and sahitya for India”
(excerpt from Sri Aurobindo and the Literary Renaissance of India)