Spirit of India revisited
Julio Ozan Lavoisier is a well-known thinker and philosopher hailing from Latin America. He gushingly refers to the thought of Vivekananda and Aurobindo, as well as quotes approvingly from the Kena Upanishad (The life of life, the mind of the mind), owing the same as the core of the book under review. Otherwise, he entirely depends upon the writings of Western philosophers and thinkers in support of his argument. There are only a few direct references to the Indian thought to be found in his book. It is, however, the spirit of India that talks through his words of wisdom. He undoubtedly communicates with us in the language of the yogi.
Bhagvad Gita defines yogi as the person ‘whose happiness is inside, whose pleasure is inside and whose light is inside’. The author is indeed aiming very high, which also explains the title of the book, Origin and Destiny of Man. In other words, he aims at the Utopian ideal of Plato and thereby he turns the same into reality. He considers spiritual odyssey or search so essential for ‘growing inwards’. He talks of human ego, as well as of the process of alienation and of the innate duality of human existence as the negativities. All of that is attributed to the contradiction has been between ‘conscious vs unconscious’ and ‘outer vs inner planes’. The answer in his view lies in the discipline of psychology, and thereby to achieve the ‘harmonious integration’ of all of human faculties. He also bemoans the fact of the advances in science and technology not enabling human beings to rise to the occasions that ‘they themselves have created’.
In fact, such advances in overcoming the nature have been accompanied ‘by an appalling lack of wisdom and introspection’. The scientific progress is indeed accelerating human kind in to reach its doomsday much too soon. Here even God must have failed to perform in the context, for instance, of Hiroshima. He had ‘not let the good [souls] to on an ark leave in order to save them’ from disaster. L’avoisier’s shikwah or protest was on par with Droupadi’s onslaught in the Mahabharata. It is worth quoting in entenso: ‘The illustrious one plays with all beings like a child with his toys… The creator does not act towards beings like a father or a mother. Like an inferior person, he seems to be driven by rage’. It was, however, not a last cause. The author’s odyssey in his spiritual search for growing inwards continues throughout the pages of the book.
All of it is aimed at the fulfillment of ‘collective liberation’ of mankind. He still aims higher towards achieving ‘the spirit of the universal consciousness’ for all of the humanities. It was, thus, time to return to the God who was no other than pure love. Here it must have been the God of Bhakti in his dual incarnation in order to nourish and express the ‘highest feelings’ inwards and outwards. Hence, the happiness ought to experienced both inwardly and outwardly by individual human beings.
In the ultimate analysis, the author’s universal spirit is said to be the one and only and absolute One and being not subject ‘either to time or space’ in ‘an unconditional way’. Instaneously, our thoughts must turn to the Mahabharata again to delineate the Eternal Brahman, or the universal spirit as ‘the subtle in-manifested cause’. It was that which existed and that which did not?
Lavoisier ought not be complaining about the duality inherent in our human existence. The Eternal Brahman himself is a dual being. One must thus feel grateful to the author to remind us of our own proud heritage. That it is largely disowned by us is an another cup of tea.
The reviewer of the book is the author of Brahmacharya, Gandhi & his Women (2006). His four-volume study of the Mahabharata entitled The Mahabharatans is scheduled for publication very soon.