Monday, January 15, 2007

An Artist of Transformation

The Concept of the Poet in the Aesthetics of Sri Aurobindo
By Dr. Ranjan Ghosh Darjeeling Government College, University of North Bengal (India)
Sri Aurobindo is, like all true poets, an artist of transformation that extends the experiential self to embrace the reality of the world and obeying the higher law that has the body's cells holding the immortal flame. Like the vedic rishi, he climbs beyond himself where the Ineffable has a secret voice and the Imperishable burns through "Matter's Screen." His awareness knows the harmonious and the luminous totality of man's Being, the genuine voyant possessed with Samyakdrishti or Totalitatdenken (Joshi 52). So "all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony" (Aurobindo, Life Divine 4). However, this harmony cannot be monochromatic in the sense that intellectual knowledge and the will of action are not the ultimate instruments of our consciousness and energy.
The cognate of supra-rationality is vital for it creates the spaces of creation. Tagore believed that our realisation should not end with the reasoning mind, for it must acknowledge the creative imagination in the same breath. "The rational or intellectual man is not the last and the highest ideal of manhood. The spirit that manifests itself in man and dominates secretly the phases of his development is greater and profounder than his intellect" (Aurobindo, Human Cycle 124).
For Aurobindo, the rational is surpassed and left behind by the genius, for the rational only constructs, but does not create. In this light one must better understand Kant’s celebrated view that creations of the mind which do not owe their origin in any way to the spiritual faculty in man (freedom and autonomy) are only a product of mechanical operations, of association of ideas, or even of mere lucky accidents. "Rule and precept are incapable of serving as the requisite subjective standard for . . . the aesthetic and unconditioned finality in fine art" (Meredith 212). Kant finds the explanation of genius in "the supersensible substrate of all the subjects (unattainable by any concept of understanding), and consequently in that which forms the point of reference for the harmonious accord of all our faculties of cognition . . . ." (Meredith 212).
Despite obvious differences between Kant’s and Sri Aurobindo’s respective philosophical positions, the points of accord also are striking. It may be noted in this context that Sri Aurobindo is not an advocate of reductionism. Though art or the aesthetic impulse, properly speaking, springs from the infra-rational parts of our being, it does seek the help of the rational. Reason lays down the laws of aesthetics, purifies our appreciation and improves our taste. Within restricted bounds, reason corrects and sets aright our aesthetic instinct and impulse, by making it self-conscious and rationally discriminative. The rational as such may not also be the artistic but it is the creator of our aesthetic conscience, judge and guide.
So the super-existentialist Sri Aurobindo, manifests a supra-normal familiarity with the intensities of our subliminal and supraliminal being. Spirituality for him is a much wider thing than formal religion. Art reaches its highest self expression when it is pressed into the service of spirituality. And spirituality denotes a threefold line of human aspiration – divine knowledge, strength, love and joy. Art needs to reach beyond what the best European Art satisfies – "the physical requirements of the aesthetic sense, the laws of formal beauty, the emotional demand of humanity, the portrayal of life and outward reality" – to manifest the inner spiritual truth, the "deeper not obvious reality of things, the joy of God in the world and its beauty and desirableness and the manifestation of divine face and energy in phenomenal creation" (Aurbindo, National Value 46).
So Sri Aurobindo’s integralism delimits the content of art that clearly emphasizes the supreme intellectual value of art and his weltanchauung smoothes all the rough zones of our stratified existence. His theory of art is impregnated with the poignant belief that "what nature is, what God is, what man is, can be triumphantly revealed in stone or on canvas" (Aurbindo, National Value 48). So it is for the poet to realize the three tier use of art - aesthetic, intellectual or educative, and the spiritual which is the highest.
In the dead wall closing us from wider self,
Into a secrecy of apparent sleep,
The mystic tract beyond our waking thoughts,
A door parted, built in by Matter’s force,
Releasing things unseized by earthly sense:
A world unseen, unknown by outward mind
Appeared in the silent spaces of the soul. (Savitri, 27)
Sri Aurobindo. Collected Poems. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1994.
---. Future Poetry, The. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1994.
---. Human Cycle, The. New York, New York: Sri Aurobindo Library, 1949.
---. Hymns to the Mystic Fire. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1991.
---. Letters of Sri Aurobindo. Bombay: Sri Aurobindo Circle, 1949.
---. Life Divine, The. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin: Lotus Press, 1949/2000.
---. National Value of Art. Calcutta: Arya Publishing, 1936.
---. Savitri. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1996.
---. Synthesis of Yoga, The. New York: Sri Aurobindo Library, 1950.
---. Talks on Poetry. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, 1989.
Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram 1972 vol 15.
Heidegger, Martin. On the Way to Language. (trans.) Stambaugh, New York: Harper & Row, 1971.
Joshi, V.C. Ed. Sri Aurobindo, An Interpretation. Delhi: Vikas Publishing, 1973.
Nandi, S.K. Studies in Modern Indian Aesthetics. Simla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 1975.
Purani, A.B. Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1970.
Sethna, K.D. The Poetic Genius of Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1974.

No comments:

Post a Comment