On 24 April 1951, a two-day long convention named “Sri Aurobindo Memorial Convention” was organized at the Tennis Ground of Sri Aurobindo Ashram where it was resolved to establish an International University Centre in the memory of Sri Aurobindo. Stalwarts like Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, Surendra Mohan Ghose, Dr. Kalidas Nag, Hemendra Prasad Ghose and Surendranath Jauhar had participated in the said convention.
The speeches, resolutions and minutes of Sri Aurobindo Memorial Convention have been uploaded in the online forum of Overman Foundation along with some photos of the said convention.
With warm regards,
Inaugural Message of the Mother
24 April, 1951
Sri Aurobindo is present in our midst, and with all the power of his creative genius he presides over the formation of the university centre which for years he considered as one of the best means of preparing the future humanity to receive the supramental light that will transform the elite of to-day into a new race manifesting upon earth the new light and force and life.
In his name I open to-day this Convention meeting here with the purpose of realising one of his most cherished ideals.
Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee’s Presidential Speech
It is difficult for an ordinary individual to realise in full the significance of the message of Sri Aurobindo’s life and teaching. His philosophy forms an integrated system of thought created out of the highest and most sustained efforts of the human spirit. It is given to very few of us to attain that level of spiritual effort, for it demands a thorough discipline of the body and the mind, and what is still more difficult, the sacrifice of the immediate for the ultimate. Once upon a time, the Rishis of ancient India rose above the calls of the present, the clash of arms, the rise and fall of Empires, to contemplate the eternal verities of existence.
Coming much nearer to our own times, when the favourite disciples of Guru Govind wanted him to lead them in the affairs of the world, he declined and warned them not to tempt him with ephemeral offerings. Similarly, when in 1922 Mr. C. R. Das asked for Sri Aurobindo’s help in the political struggle, the sage declined on the ground that he had not attained the fullest realisation of the spiritual reality, without which efforts to seek the salvation of mankind would only create an illusion.
These spiritual efforts of the great masters often defy common understanding. Yet the call of the times was never so imperious as it is now. What India is suffering from today is not so much the poverty of material existence. She is suffering much more from the bankruptcy of her spiritual resources. The Government moves in the same vicious circle. Moral standards are at a discount. High purpose is reserved exclusively as an adornment of pontifical pronouncements from high offices. The scene is virtually littered with the debris of the spiritual achievements of a people that was once great.
The fact is that we have lost track of our real culture. The culture of a people, as Sri Aurobindo tells us, may be roughly described as the expression of a consciousness of life which formulates itself in three aspects. “There is”, he explains, “a side of thought, ideal, upward will and the soul’s aspiration; a side of creative self-expression and appreciative aesthesis, intelligence and imagination; and a side of practical and outward formulation”. Philosophy and religion belong to the first of these three aspects of culture; art, poetry, literature to the second; and society and politics to the third. In India, however, the master idea that has governed the life, culture and social ideals of her people has been the seeking of man for his true spiritual self and the use of life. We have lost track of this noble idea. A base hedonistic view of life seems to inform all our activities today, even where they belong to the realm of the first two aspects of culture.
It is thus that the establishment of a University, where the eternal verities of life will be taught and re-taught to a stricken people, becomes supremely relevant. This is the task of an International University and it is in the fitness of things that the University should be dedicated to the sacred memory of Sri Aurobindo. It is in the fitness of things that along with its sister University at Santiniketan, named after another great Indian, this University should also be located in India where so many peoples and so many cultures have met and found their home. The Upanishads have expressed this synthesis and harmony by the three words, Shantam, Shivam, Adwaitam. Sri Aurobindo has also taught us the same truth. He even goes further and says that this synthetic turn of India’s spiritual vision “is not peculiar to the mystics or the literate or the thinkers, nourished on the high sublimities of the Veda and the Vedanta, but permeates even the popular mind”. It is here, on the sacred soil of India, where the call for synthesis first went out to the world and it is here that at the proposed University, scholars from the different parts of the world would assemble and inaugurate a new era of cultural renascence for India and the world.
I have so far dwelt on the spiritual call of Indian culture, even though the call may be going unheeded today. As Sri Aurobindo says, it is a spiritual, an inner freedom, that can alone create a perfect human order. But his freedom does not ignore, cannot ignore, the evolution of man’s lower, physical, vital and mental nature. Progress to the age of the spirit must pass through the three conceptions, each regarded as a reality, the third leading to the subjective age of mankind. We cannot skip over any of the intermediate stages without peril to mankind, though such an adventure may succeed in the case of particular individuals. Body, life and mind, all these must assume significance in man’s adventure of the spirit. The highest achievements may yet elude all except a few. But the disciplines they indicate are meant for the upliftment of mankind as a whole, their ascent from the ignorant nature to the spiritual existence. This great adventure is characteristically typified in the life of Sri Aurobindo. It began in an urge for the political liberation of India. It paved the path for a miracle, the great revelation that came to him in 1909 in his prison. The window that had been closed flew open and the Divine stood revealed before him. With the same abandon with which he had struggled for India’s political freedom, he began his long patient quest for the freedom of the spirit. The two Aurobindos merged with each other, the political fighter and the yogi. Even then his earlier patriotism was tinged with a spiritual penumbra. He was thus a true Indian. When we read from his books, he seems to appear out of the pages of our ancient sacred lore, the representative of all their wisdom made dynamic by an awareness of the present spiritual crisis. I am sure the proposed University will symbolise the world’s urge for a new spiritual rebirth; it will stand out as an oasis amidst the barren tracts that breed jealousies, suspicions and petty conflicts.
Extracts from the Concluding Speech of Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee.
The work that is about to be undertaken is a mighty one. No doubt, there will be support throughout the world. Let us not minimise the difficulties and complexities of the task. We propose to work this University for imparting training to men and women in accordance with the highest standards for the purpose of participating in the great task of reconstruction of humanity. Institutions of this type are bound to fail unless we can gather men and women who will not only feel on the lines that Sri Aurobindo lived, but also act upon them. This place has already within its resources such men and women who will be able to undertake this gigantic responsibility. It is our hope that men and women from all parts of the world will be attracted by the ideology for which this institution will stand.
Men and women selected for training must be carefully chosen because they must be able to absorb cent percent the ideology for which this institution will stand. We need not pay attention to the quantitative aspect of the problem, because we have many Universities where thousands of students pass out and we do not want to see any replica of such institutions.
The policy of our Government should be to encourage experiments of the type being made here so that the work may be carried on without hindrance or difficulty.
Any institution, if it is to function, must be under proper discipline and be conducted in a manner which will lead to smooth and efficient work. At the Ashram, we see abundant evidence of the great organizing ability of the Mother, who is the presiding deity over this place. Everywhere there is regularity, smoothness and efficiency. There is no hue and cry. This is a remarkable feature which, obviously, is an asset to any institution of the type we propose to develop. And with the Mother here, we have not the least doubt that this institution will grow from strength to strength and will be the pride of not only India, but of the entire civilised world.
India has a mission and a destiny to fulfil. Some voice will rise from this land to which the world has to listen. It will not be the voice of conflict or chaos but the voice of peace where self-respect and honour will be kept. That voice was discovered by Aurobindo and the people all over the world will come to tread Aurobindo’s path.
Sri Hemendra Prasad Ghose
I have given the proposal to establish an International University Centre at Pondicherry as a memorial to Sri Aurobindo my most anxious consideration, and give it my whole-hearted support. Sri Aurobindo was a great teacher—one of the greatest of the age in which he was born and which he adorned. It was as a teacher that Sri Aurobindo began his work in Baroda and it was to shoulder the responsibilities of a teacher that he left Baroda for Calcutta where, he thought, he would get ample opportunities to prepare his students for the struggle ahead. That struggle was not only economical and political but psychological as well.
In the words of Tennyson Sri Aurobindo could say when he became a teacher—
“I dipped into future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.”
And his sight penetrated into the future when the vision of a new world rose before his mind’s eye as rose the vision of New Jerusalem before the rapt eyes of the author of the Apocalypse. He was convinced that Spirituality alone could supply the passport to the new World. This realisation had come to him when he had studied the history of the world. He found that Rome under the heels of whose cohorts the earth shook, so to say, to its centre had faded away and only reminded one of the lines of the poet:—
“Where Empires towered that were not just:
Lo! the shulking wild fox scratches in a little heap of dust.”
He found that Greece, the mother of Western civilisation, was sleeping the sleep that knows no waking and was almost forgotten. He found that Egypt hoary with age lay buried under the sphinxes and the pyramids of her desert. And lo and behold! India lived. She lived in her spirituality. And he said:—
“What was the secret of that gigantic intellectuality, spirituality and superhuman moral force which we see pulsating in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, in the ancient philosophy, in the supreme poetry, art, sculpture and architecture of India? What was at the basis of the incomparable public works and the engineering achievements, the opulent and exquisite industries, the great triumph of science, scholarship, jurisprudence, logic, metaphysics, the unique social structure? What supported the heroism, the self-abandonment of the Kshatriya, the Sikh and the Rajpoot, the unconquerable national vitality and endurance? What was it that stood behind the civilisation second to none in the massiveness of its outlines or the perfection of its details? Without a great and unique discipline involving a perfect education of soul and mind, a result so immense and persistent would not have been possible.”
The realisation became clear with the revelation which awaited him in incarceration; and Sri Aurobindo began to teach a new Gospel which gave the world the eternal message in the shape which suited the needs of the age—the requirements of the people immersed in materialism.
He sought political freedom, because “to attempt social reform, educational reform, industrial expansion, the moral improvement of the race without aiming first and foremost at political freedom is the very height of ignorance and folly.”
He placed before the people the ideal presented in the Gita—the “living message” of the teacher who is “the God in man who moves our whole world of action, by and for whom all our humanity exists and struggles and labours, towards whom all human life travels and progresses.”
Political freedom was not an end itself, but means to an end in view. And the end in view was the completion of what Sri Aurobindo has called the human cycle.
The system of education which is prevailing now is not conductive to the end in view. For though we talk of diffusing the fertilizing waters of intellectual knowledge from their great and copious fountain-heads at the Universities by a thousand irrigating channels, we overlook the significant fact that mere scholarship and learning and the knowledge of books do not by any means arrest and dissolve all the travelling acids of the human system. And as Sri Aurobindo has said—we are only beginning to understand the new aim of education—“to help the child to develop his intellectual, aesthetic, emotional, moral, spiritual being and his communal life and impulses out of his own temperament and capacities,”— a very different object from the prevailing education which is “simply to pack so much stereotyped knowledge into his resisting brain and impose a stereotyped rule of conduct on his struggling and dominated impulses.”
To achieve the end in view a new education has to be imparted. That education will be based primarily on Sri Aurobindo’s teaching. The proposed University, therefore, will give not merely instruction and education but a way of life to lead the students on to a greater, ampler and divine existence.
Far from ignoring—Sri Aurobindo recognised and accorded full importance to the idiosyncrasies of individuals and nations. In his article on the Doctrine of Passive Resistance he wrote:—
“Hinduism recognises human nature… It sets one ideal for the saint, another for the man of action, a third for the trader, a fourth for the serf. To prescribe the same ideal for all is to bring about Varnasankara, the confusion of duties, and destroy society and race.”
In his Ideal of the Karmayogin he wrote:—
“In all life there are three elements, the fixed and permanent spirit, the developing yet constant soul and the brittle changeable body. The spirit we cannot change, we can only obscure or lose; the soul must not be rashly meddled with, must neither be tortured into a shape alien to it, nor obstructed in its free expansion; and the body must be used as a means not over-cherished as a thing valuable for its own sake.”
The idiosyncrasies of the students, therefore, must be studied and every one of them given full scope to develop towards the ideal along the path it finds ready and on the line of least resistance.
A University which will proceed on these lines will prove a boon to those who will be its alumni. They will not only learn to earn and serve society but, what is even more important, will help to create a new society for the new world of Sri Aurobindo’s dream.
Every department of knowledge—theoretical and practical will be taught the institution to students who may come from any part of the globe irrespective of nationality and religion. It will be a bold experiment but worthy of the man who conceived the idea of establishing an international university centre which will include within its ample sweep all departments of knowledge and students of every nationality.
There may be objections, hesitations, difficulties postulated. But all must be swept by the fervour of sincerity and the realisation of the nobility of the work. There will be criticism. It should be welcomed. For, criticism is something you can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.
In 1897 Swami Vivekananda, of whom Sri Aurobindo wrote that we perceive his “influence still working gigantically,” wrote:—
“We Hindus, have now been placed under God’s providence, in a very critical and responsible position. The nations of the West are coming to us for spiritual help. A great moral obligation rests on the sons of India to fully equip themselves for the work of enlightening the world on the problems of human existence.”
For years Sri Aurobindo had been doing that work. Fully equipped for the work he gave the seekers after truth the secret of Life Divine, for as he said:—
“It would be a tragic irony of fate if India were to throw away her spiritual heritage at the very moment when in the world there is more and more a turning towards her for spiritual help and saving light.”
The equipment necessary for the teacher who will give the world spiritual life and saving light will be supplied by the University Centre which is to be established at Pondicherry. On its success will depend continuance of that stream of Truth which is to resuscitate the world desponding, distressed and drooping—to quicken the atrophied veins of the East and chasten the materialism of the West with the spirituality of the East so that a new world may come out and the struggles of humanity may become the cruel sweet pangs of parturition.
I have exceeded the allotted span of human life, the sands in the glass are fast running out.
“I feel like one who treads alone
Some banquet hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled, whose garlands dead
And all but he departed.”
It may not be left to me to see the accomplishment of the work which is being undertaken. But I am confident that it will “orb into the perfect star” which we do not and cannot see today. I wish the undertaking the success it richly deserves.
Before I conclude I cannot help referring to an objection to the University Centre proposal which has been recently made. I would not have taken any notice of it if it had not emanated from one who had been one of Sri Aurobindo’s trusted lieutenants in his campaign for political freedom. Sri Barindra Kumar Ghose has opposed having an international university at Pondicherry for two reasons:—
(1) He thinks that the memorial should take the form of an intensive Yogic Centre—“carried on under the guidance of great Indian Yogis”.
(2) He objects to Pondicherry being the seat of that centre till it ceases to be a French pocket in the Indian Union, as, otherwise, it may “easily degenerate into a means of further foreign grip on India and Asia.”
The first suggestion would take us back to the Mediaeval times—if not into the dim recesses of a more distant past. This would be contrary to the teachings of Sri Aurobindo who stood for progress.
The second would only mean the postponement of the work for an indefinite period. One fails to understand how the proposed University may degenerate into a means of further foreign grip on India and Asia though the author of the “Wounded Deer” had supported the retention of British supremacy in India. On the other hand the University may help to remove the grip of one people on another through the teaching of Sri Aurobindo.
The Ashram cannot be removed from Pondicherry redolent of the aroma of Sri Aurobindo’s teaching and the last resting place of his physical remains. The University ideal has not been vamped up in a hurry but had been the ideal of Sri Aurobindo himself, as we have been given to understand. And we are here today to give shape to that ideal of which we have the clay model.
Let us hope that the University will only help to spread Sri Aurobindo’s teachings so that the future may be flushed with the radiance of a new dawn beckoning us into a greater light than has ever yet shone on mankind.
May the Divine Mother whose creed stands today above the contending creeds of India, at whose temple Sri Aurobindo acted as a worshipper and a priest bless the organisation. May he speak to the world, trumpet tongued from the silence of his samadhi—
“When all the temple is prepared within,
Why nods the drowsy worshipper outside?”
Prof. Somnath Maitra
I consider it a singular privilege to be allowed to address this distinguished gathering where disciples and admirers of Sri Aurobindo have assembled to discuss, under the guidance of the Mother, ways and means of founding an international university in Pondicherry to serve as a fitting memorial to our Master.
It is difficult for me, after the profoundly inspiring message of the Mother and the brilliant address of the President who is widely known as one of the foremost living authorities on matters educational in India, and after the thoughtful papers read by the speakers before me, to say anything of value about the details of the project for an international university. I shall, therefore, content myself with putting before you my idea of the distinctive character which a university established in Pondicherry, under the auspices of the Mother, is likely to develop.
There are universities galore in most countries of what we call the civilised world, and we have quite a few in India also. They have more or less the same objective everywhere: the imparting of instruction and the encouragement of research in the various branches of human knowledge, with an increasing emphasis on the study of Science and Technology. These institutions—some great, some small—are all attempting, according to their own lights, to equip their alumni with knowledge of the world and of themselves, knowledge that will give them control over the forces of nature and help them to remove the ills of humanity—ignorance and disease and poverty—and make them better and happier men and women.
Are we then, it may be asked, endeavouring to add one more to the number of such useful—and one may say, more or less international—centres of learning and culture? If the answer were to be in the affirmative, if we were to say, “Yes, we desire to have another seat of learning in this part of the land as each such institution is an asset to the country,” there would be nothing to be ashamed of in such a reply. But that would not be the whole truth about the matter.
The establishment of a University in Pondicherry sponsored by the Mother, besides being a welcome addition to the existing seats of learning has a special significance. The new university will be informed by the spirit of our great Master, the spirit of the Life Divine. It will not only arrange for the study and propagation of his teachings and take steps to bring humanity nearer to the realisation of his supreme ideal of the perfectly integrated life, but it will also be invisibly fashioned and moulded at every turn by a sense of his deathless Presence. And for this no better site could be chosen than the neighbourhood of the Ashram where the Master spent his best years labouring in silence to change man’s nature that he may be reborn in the Spirit, providing by the very example of his life a refuge to the spirit of man in a dark and distracted world and holding out, to a blundering and suffering humanity, the hope of the ultimate glory and bliss to which it is destined.
A university here, therefore, under the Mother’s control and guidance will be something more than a mere centre for study and research in a wide variety of subjects, or a congenial meeting-ground for men and women of different races and cultures. The Mother’s Shakti working behind the contemplated organisation will make all the difference in the world. Those who have any knowledge of her ways and of her power, those who have watched the marvellous working out of her will in the multifarious activities of the Ashram, will understand that whatever work she inspires becomes at once a service for the Divine, whose performance is regarded not as an irksome duty but as a joyful privilege. It is only natural to expect, therefore, that in any new undertaking launched by her, there will be this consciousness of a Divine purpose and goal directing all activity. To the architects and masons of the great edifice to be built she will give strength and courage and skill, and their myriad separate endeavours will be held together in a supreme unity of inspiration.
It is said that Divine Grace can put words of fire into the mouths of the dumb, and enable the halt and the maimed to scale and cross the proudest mountains. The Mother’s Grace will transmute the common work of day-to-day into something rich and beautiful and the common worker into a master craftsman. For it is perfectly true to say of her, in the words of one of Rabindranath Tagore’s famous songs:
Jara taba shakti labhila nija antara-majhey
Barjila bhaya, arjila joy, sarthak hala kaje
Those who receive your power in their hearts fulfil themselves
in work, casting out fear and marching on to Victory.
Prof. Tan Yun-Shan
(Director of the Cheena Bhavana of Visvabharati, Santiniketan)
I can hardly express in words the joy I have been feeling since my arrival here after twelve years. This joy deepens with the hours of my stay here and as I stand before you now. In the midst of this joy there is a poignancy because our Master is physically not here, though his presence is there pervading the whole Ashram and I began to feel it as soon as I arrived.
Universities in ancient India were famous all over the world for their catholic outlook and particularly for the knowledge of the highest kind they imparted to all, irrespective of caste, creed or race. They were also alive to the need for disseminating the fruits of India’s manysided cultural endeavours through these selfless ambassadors whom they sent to various parts of the world. It is due to the work of these devoted sons of Mother India that the priceless gems of her eternal wisdom shine even to this day in the world’s treasures of knowledge as the foundation of the future empire of the spirit.
A rediscovery of the truth of India’s past as also the truth of all the ancient countries and a correct appraisement of the values of modern culture in the light of the revelatory vision with which we have been blessed by the Maha-Yogi-Sri Aurobindo, are of vital importance to the building up of the new world of God in which alone lies the hope of a happier future of mankind.
The Master has therefore given us the sublime idea of an International University, the culture-centre where, as in those of old, men and women from the whole world would receive training in the various arts and sciences whose essential verities will be reinterpreted as dynamic factors in the cultural evolution of man preparing him for his divine destiny.
Many of the well-known universities in the world have developed out of the medieval monasteries. In ancient India also her seats of learning traced their origin to the ashramas, hermitages and monasteries. We recall today a hoary tradition as we think of the future of this World-University growing out of this Ashram at Pondicherry whose aim is pursuit of knowledge for the attainment of a perfect life in which lies its unique character.
I am exceedingly happy to be able to associate myself and my country with this great venture whose success is certain because it is the Mother who is planning and guiding it, the Mother who has come to give shape to the Master’s vision.
Summary of Dr. Kalidas Nag’s Speech
I consider it a privilege to be invited to participate in the inauguration of the Sri Aurobindo University and to address the assembly after Sri Hemendra Prasad Ghose, who had the honour of collaborating with Sri Aurobindo in the epoch-making journal Bande Mataram. The fiery lines penned by Sri Aurobindo in that journal used to be quoted on the cover of the exercise-books and those lines used to inflame the soul of mere school boys like us. 1905-1910 was a quinquennium which opened with the expulsion of Sri Aurobindo as Principal of our first National Council of Education, and with the inauguration of the University of Freedom, where thousands of youths flocked in the highways, parks and bye-lanes of Calcutta, to get initiated into the cult of Swadeshi and total sacrifice for our country’s liberation. Jails and gallows lost their terror and youths sacrificed their lives freely and cheerfully with the Bhagavad Gita and the words of Sri Aurobindo on their lips.
I remember today that Sri Aurobindo was born to celebrate in Asia, as it were, the centenary of the Rights of Man of the French Revolution; and naturally, the first phase of his public career was devoted to the Political liberation of Man in Asia. After the Alipore Bomb case and his retirement to Pondicherry we witness the second phase in the evolution when Sri Aurobindo laid the foundations of our intellectual liberation through his creative and synthetic writings of the Arya epoch and the First World War. A synoptic vision of World literature and of future Poetry emerged from the profound utterances in prose and poetry by Sri Aurobindo the World Poet, expressing himself in a world language which he enriched more than any writer of his age. Then, when Rabindranath—who greeted him with a magnificent poem in 1908—came to see him in Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo was already retiring completely within himself to work out the third and final phase: the spiritual liberation of Mankind through “integral yoga”—the half-forgotten but eternal heritage of Mother India to humanity. Thus, Sri Aurobindo is the University pointing to a radically new conception of the term. It should not be a mere copy of any of the universities of India and abroad. Sri Aurobindo University should aspire to provide the training ground for youths who would build up a new personality in a new universe.
The syllabus as well as the system of studies in this university should attempt a synthesis of the East and the West; for, Mother—came to collaborate with Rishi Aurobindo of the Orient. The magnificent sea-front of the Pondicherry Ashram reminds me of the fact that our Indian Ocean is the receptacle of the Atlantic and Pacific cultures, and into that confluence have flowed in the spiritual rivers of diverse countries and continents. It is a striking coincidence that in the very year 1893 when Sri Aurobindo was returning after 14 years to Mother India from Europe, Swami Vivekananda was going by the eastern route to attend the Parliament of Religions at Chicago and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was going by the western route to South Africa to tackle, as ‘Coolie Barrister’, the ominous race problem of modern history. We must remember these fundamental facts while framing the basic regulations of the Sri Aurobindo University, and if we prove ourselves worthy of the great tradition of culture and spirituality that was Sri Aurobindo, we need not worry about the human or material aids and equipments. Let us work in that faith, and Sri Aurobindo will bless us in our endeavour to vindicate the Life Divine in this Atomic age threatening to annihilate Life and perpetrate the greatest sacrilege in history.
Sri Surendra Mohan Ghose (M.P.)
I am very grateful to you all for giving me this opportunity to associate myself with the main resolution of this noble and sublime conference. I also consider this opportunity to be a very great privilege in my life.
Friends, let me tell you frankly at the very outset that after hearing the learned speeches of eminent scholars those who are expecting to hear another speech from me will be very much disappointed.
At the very early age of fifteen I accepted Sri Aurobindo as my leader and have been all through my life a humble worker with his light as my constant guide and as such I have with all humility tried to execute his ideas avoiding speeches as far as possible.
Of all Indian leaders Sri Aurobindo was the first to rightly proclaim to the world that complete independence outside British control was the aim of the people of India in their hard struggle for liberation. We bow down our heads with great reverence at his feet, taking a solemn vow with all seriousness pledging every thing to translate into action the great ideals preached by him as a great Yogi. Those who have ears to hear will certainly hear, and are as a matter of fact hearing, the sacred voice of Sri Aurobindo out of silence. The voice of Sri Aurobindo is the true Voice of India with her hoary civilisation and culture and has universal application.
The first point in the main resolution is the establishment of an International University at Pondicherry, as was originally conceived by Sri Aurobindo himself, the entire control of which, in all its aspects, shall remain in the divine hands of the Mother. In this connection let me state that the use of the word “University” to express the idea of Sri Aurobindo is liable or likely to create some confusion in the minds of some people.
We have to use the word ‘University’ because we have not got at present a better and more comprehensive word to convey correctly the concept of Sri Aurobindo. But I am sure in due course of time with the development of this University either the word ‘University’ will have fuller meaning or we shall have to coin some new word to fit in with the activities of Pondicherry Ashram under the benign control and guidance of the Mother.
In the Memorandum it has been rightly pointed out that Sri Aurobindo teaches us that “there are two kinds of knowledge, that which seeks to understand the apparent phenomenon of existence externally, by an approach from outside, through the intellect,— this is the lower knowledge, the knowledge of the apparent world; secondly, the knowledge which seeks to know the truth of existence from within, in its source and reality, by spiritual realisation”.
One of our previous distinguished speakers, Dr. Kalidas Nag repeatedly and very rightly too emphasised the fact that Sri Aurobindo himself was the “University” and that University was already there at Pondicherry from the date when he came there and it has been functioning there vigorously till now and that our object is not to establish a new University there but we are to simply accept the University which already exists there i.e. Sri Aurobindo.
Friends, I submit that truly speaking the University is the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. They are not two different personalities. We should not make the mistake in thinking that the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are two different personalities. Both represent two aspects of one and the same Personality. I would very much like to say that we should not think that Sri Aurobindo is the University but we should firmly accept and proclaim that the Mother and Sri Aurobindo is the University.
Another point and I have finished. The idea of having an International University at Pondicherry must not be confused with the idea of the present day Universities all over the world, because we are to always remember that the fundamental and essential conception of Sri Aurobindo is to build up a society of immortals on this mortal earth—that makes all the difference. We must not forget what Sri Aurobindo has said: the supramental descent is an absolute certainty.
Mr. President and Friends, I whole-heartedly support the resolution in its entirety which, as it has been pointed out, is in reality one integral proposal although apparently divided into three—the different portions of the resolution are self-explanatory and do not require much elucidation.
With these few words I bow down my head most reverentially to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and pray with all humility for their Blessings for the success of our efforts.
Nolini Kanta Gupta
24th April, 1951
I just rise to call upon our friends and comrades to help us in our endeavour in whatever way each can and is willing—in deed, in thought or even in word. Our ideal is, as you know, the formation of a University Centre, an international university, as it has been called, which in fact is nothing less than the founding of a new mankind upon earth—with a new life and a new consciousness. The promise has been given that the thing can be done and will be done. And She is in our midst who will make good the promise.
25th April, 1951
Friends and comrades, we are now at the end of our deliberations—a happy and successful end, you will agree, which, however, is only the beginning of a still happier and greater end. It remains for me to thank you all for the sympathy and goodwill you have shown and the promise of help and cooperation meant thereby. I have to thank especially our President, Srijut Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, who has been so extremely affable and helpful to us.
I thank again all of you who have come from far and near, and we hope to see many of you in future coming here and spending a few days now and then in our midst.
The Sri Aurobindo Memorial Convention
held in Pondicherry at the Tennis Ground of Sri Aurobindo Ashram,
on April 24 & 25, 1951
The proceedings commenced at 4.15 P.M. after Tea.
Sri K. C. Dutt proposed Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee to the chair and Sri S. N. Jauhar seconded the proposal. Dr. Mukherjee then occupied the chair.
The Mother inaugurated the Convention with a brief Message in which she announced that Sri Aurobindo considered the formation of an International University Centre here as one of the best means of propagating his Ideal of a new supramental race.
This was followed by the singing of Bande Mataram and other songs by Sri Dilip Kumar Roy and party.
Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee then delivered his presidential address. He emphasised the need, at the present juncture, of such a university centre which would be not only the fittest Memorial to Sri Aurobindo but would, under the guidance and inspiration of the Mother, develop into a rejuvenating Force for the entire human civilisation.
Sri Nolini Kanta Gupta, following, made an appeal to all to contribute to the establishment and success of the projected Centre, each in the way he best could.
Messages received from all over India and abroad, wishing success to the Function and godspeed to the proposal were read out.
Mr. Soli Albless then spoke on the character and significance of the proposed International University and presented an outline of the Blueprints for the immediate beginnings.
Professors Somnath Maitra and Tan Yun Shan, Mr. Pollack and Sri Keshavdev Poddar made brief speeches welcoming the formation of the University Centre on the lines envisaged by Sri Aurobindo.
After a closing song by Sri Dilip Kumar Roy, the President adjourned the session for the day, at 6 P.M., to meet again the next day at 9 A.M.
25th April, 1951
When the Convention reassembled at 9 A.M., the President Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee moved Resolutions, three in number (vide enclosure I), for the consideration of those assembled.
Dr. Bernard Phillips, Justice Bhagavati, Sri Hemendra Prasad Ghose, Dr. Kalidas Nag, Justice B. N. Rai, Sri Chapalakanta Bhattacharya, Sri Surendra Mohan Ghose and Dr. R. Vaidyanathaswamy spoke supporting the Resolutions and pledging their support to the proposals contained therein.
The President then put the Resolutions to vote and they were, all three of them, passed unanimously, all raising their hands for aye and none for no. Dr. Mukherjee proceeded to make a few concluding remarks in the course of which he paid feeling tributes to the personality of the presiding genius of the Mother around whom, he confidently predicted, an eventual blossoming of a Centre which will be a credit not only to India but to the whole of civilised mankind and conveyed to her the gratitude of all those present and all those who could not be present but desired to associate themselves with the Great Cause in hand for what she has done and was going to do in this regard.
Sri Nolini Kanta Gupta, Secretary of the Ashram, spoke a few words thanking all for the warm interest and goodwill they had shown in assembling here for the deliberations of the Convention and specially thanked the President Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee for all that he did in guiding the proceedings to a successful close.
After a formal announcement by the President that the proceedings of the Convention were now terminated, the delegates and visitors dispersed with the prophetic utterance of a distinguished speaker, made earlier in the day, still ringing in their ears:
“One day it will be said that a Daughter of the West
fulfilled the Promise given by a Son of the East.”
Sd. S. P. Mukherjee
This Convention resolves that with the purpose of realising one of the most cherished ideals of Sri Aurobindo and of giving concrete shape to what he regarded as one of the best means of preparing humanity to receive the Supramental Light, an International University on the lines approved by the Mother, and under her guidance and control, be established in Pondicherry as a fitting memorial to the Master.
This Convention notes with satisfaction that encouraging response has already been received from various quarters within and outside the country. This Convention appeals with confidence to all people in and outside India to contribute liberally to the fund which has already been started by the Mother for the purpose and to send their contributions directly to the Mother at Pondicherry.
This Convention resolves that a suitable appeal for support be issued to be signed by representative men and women in India and abroad and the President be authorised to take the necessary steps on this behalf.
This Convention welcomes the move to establish as Memorials to Sri Aurobindo, Centres at Calcutta and Baroda—places long associated with significant and sacred chapters of Sri Aurobindo’s life and activities—for the study and propagation of his teachings. This Convention expresses the hope that similar institutions will be opened at different centres of Culture in India and abroad.
The initiative for such Memorials should come from the localities in which these are intended to be established. It is desirable that such institutions should work in close association with the central organisation at Pondicherry specially to maintain co-ordination and a uniform standard in work.
This Convention requests the Mother to nominate a committee whose purpose would be to be in touch with the Mother and assist in the collection of Funds and materials.
EXTRACTS FROM MESSAGES
Senor Salvador De Madariaga, Professor of Spanish studies at Oxford:
“I send you my best wishes. The analytical age is coming to its close. It fulfilled its purpose. But now something else is needed. The age of synthesis is about to begin. And how could it begin if no high centre of perspective were provided for all the parts to fall into harmony?”
The American Academy of Asian Studies, San Francisco:
“Glorious success assured to your venture towards integral transformation. The cooperation of all spiritual forces throughout the world certain.”
Dr. Frederic Spiegelberg, Director of Indian and Tibetan Studies, The American Academy of Asian Studies:
“Glory to the International University Centre, which is certain to become the best school in the world. The Master will live in it, just as he has been the life-giving flame of our new school here.”
M. Brodethky, President Hebrew University, Jerusalem:
“Our wishes (for) successful establishment International University which we hope will contribute the increase of knowledge and better understanding among nations.”
M. Bergman, Hebrew University:
“May this be milestone on way fulfilment Ideal unity Mankind.”
Dr. R. K. Yajnik, Director of Education, Saurashtra:
“This movement will gather momentum as it deals with the progress of human civilisation and perfection of man as man from within and without. Sri Aurobindo’s spoken and written words and the fountain-source of his magnetic personality will be an important bearing on the evolution of this International University. On my side I can assure you of my whole-hearted support in this great mission.”
S. G. Amin, Kenya:
“We find great reverence in wide unexpected circles and enthusiasm for international university.”
Dr. P. S. Naidu, University of Allahabad:
“I wish it were possible for me to go to the sacred Ashram and participate in the noble Function.
I am deeply moved by the sentiments which have prompted the calling of the Convention. You are aiming at bringing together men and women whose thought and action are ‘based on a knowledge higher than the intellect, and on capacities deriving their support from oneness with the Divine.’ We do need, and need most urgently, a dynamic Centre for spreading the consciousness of our oneness with the Divine. The ‘Sickle and Hammer’ cult is furiously spreading the doctrine of our oneness with the animal. And it is succeeding as it is easy to rouse up the animal in man. This doctrine has to be fought on all fronts. And the hollowness and tendentious pomposity of dialectical materialism has to be ruthlessly exposed. The University you are contemplating will, since it will be inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s ideals, give the death-blow to Communism and all that it stands for.”
Dr. K. C. Varadachari, Head of the Dept. of Philosophy, Sri Venkateshwara College, Tirupati:
“I deem it a great honour and call to service to participate in the important Convention at Pondicherry the results of which may be considered to be most important and epoch-making in the history of not only India but the world. The founding of an International University on the lines envisaged by Sri Aurobindo who is more and more clearly being recognised as the most magnificent thinker of the present Age and the Prophet of the future may rightly be the turning point of human history.”
[Photographs courtesy: Tara Jauhar and Anurag Banerjee]
2 Replies to “Speeches, Resolutions and Minutes of Sri Aurobindo Memorial Convention (April 1951)”
what is most unfortunate is that Dr Shyamaprasad Mukherji personally asked the Mother not to involve him in matters of School as he was on a mission which would involve him in opposition to the govt. of India . After he departed Mother sent him a personal message to be delivered in Calcutta by a devotee who assured Here he would do it. But unfortunately this was not done as the devotee claimed he had gone to his residence twice and he wasn’t there , so didn’t try later .this resulted in the catastrophic arrest in Kashmir , which Nehru had ordered and left the country, for switzerland not to shoulder the blame.And so the terrible incarceration that followed in the jail in Kashmir which ultimately led to his death.In the agenda Satprem comments when the news of his death reached the Mother , she told him ”they killed him”. This whole episode was told by Mother to Debu Bhattacharya who had noted it down from memory , but unfortunately by the time I asked him a few years ago after hearing the whole thing from Dada , he told me someone had taken the papers and did not return them for a very long time, and when asked said had misplaced them and could not find them .Then he went on to recount whatever he remembered ..message was for Dr Shyamaprasad ”do not go to Kashmir” , and the gentleman who took the responsibility did not ..could not deliver it in time…so the mishap.
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