Dialogue  April-June 2009 , Volume 10 No. 4

Transcendental Drifts in Migration

Tapan Banerjee



With a minor range of exceptions, the majority of animals move. We, the humans, are social animals and, we move as well. This movement is voluntary and undertaken in search of better survival. It fundamentally depicts what is known as migration. It is thus a response to the conscious work forces interacting within the beings and, hence is a behavioural option. It appears basically as a shift from an existing system. This is why the story of migration writes the human history to a great extent.

The present discourse is intended as a study of migration. The phenomenon of migration could be studied at the empirical level, as also in terms of the transcendental drifts. It is open to a number of interpretations, but in the present context, I propose to take ‘migration’ as a human phenomenon in the sense of voluntarily moving away from a habitat to searching for improved or even better atmosphere for humans to survive and flourish. I shall not be concerned with empirical data, primarily, rather engage myself in looking for transcendental drifts that humans are exposed to or encounter in order to come out of settled grooves of thought, world-view or even ideology. It may be mentioned, in passing, that ideology, since Marx, Gramsci and Lucacs, matters with a group, while world-view pertains to an individual. There is, hence a dialectics of individual and society or social groups.

Studies of migration at macro and micro levels hardly ever coincide because of the variation of domains. At the macro level, migration occurs, as has been mentioned, out of necessity; while that at the micro level, conscious choice of individuals, born out of dissatisfaction with the prevailing states of affair, remains decisive. In fact, the whole anthropological view of mankind gets diverged with the micro level study being taken up for analysis.

Philosophical Anthropology

In the many faceted diversities of this world, every worldview appears unique. Yet, amidst this diversity “every worldview reveals a certain unity in the sense that it embraces a certain range of questions”.1 These include the relationship between spirit and matter or space and time, about the nature of man etc. To relate the quoted unity if we look back to the revolutionary researches and discoveries of Darwin, Marx or Einstein, we find that each of them had evoked universal interest, although the disciplines were different. Each of these discoveries awakened man in such a way that, he has found himself vis-à-vis some essential philosophical investigations like the origin of man, the position of man in respect of economy or, the relationship of space, time and matter. The unity might then suggest a reflection of overlapping and intersecting similarities latent in the worldviews.

The worldview, therefore, becomes the principle of life itself that influences a person’s behavior, his attitude to society and acts as a “spiritual prism through which everything around us is perceived, felt and transformed”2. So social or trans-social events reflect the conviction hidden in the world views, and, help one to understand that philosophy-by no means-does set itself apart from everyday worldly matters involving human beings, i.e. the broad spectrum anthropology. This is where the subject of philosophical anthropology earns its validity.

The Concept of Man

Man has remained the focal point in the development process of the world. He appears in the world of utility, yet he feels thirsty to realize his larger self by eliminating the limitations that strangle the manifestations of truth. Great thinkers around the world have tried to conceive man in their own ways. Some selected views, that might appear apparently different, are all humane and comprehensive in so far as man’s desired freedom is concerned.

Marx does not admit the existence of any other mode of being than the empirical one. He distinguishes between sub structure and super-structure. When the former changes, the latter lingers for a while, and then changes for good. The super-structure consists of values, and Marx calls them ‘spiritual’ taking the hint from Hegel’s use of the word geistes (=mind).

In Christianity St.Paul uses the word ‘spiritual’ as opposed to ‘carnal’. For Marx there is no such being. He is uncompromisingly a materialist. For Marx, man is an economic being.

Tagore builds his philosophical anthropology on the basis of a distinction between fact and truth. ‘Truth’ is the ideal, ethical ought, as distinguished from is. The is-ought distinction is valid for Tagore. His concept of man is non-utilitarian, teleological. The main point is creativity, which presupposes freedom. Creativity is born from dissatisfaction from the given order of things, an urge to reorder facts in the light of an idea. This sense of dissatisfaction is at the root of his concept of religion. Creativity is an adventure of consciousness to Tagore. For him man is an open-ended concept. No set of factual assertions ever exhaust the possibilities that man could creatively fashion himself.

So is Sri Aurobindo’s concept of man as a “transitional being”, ever beyonding to higher and higher stages of evolutionary consciousness and transforms the lower transcended grades of matter, life and mind.

Vivekananda put his view of man as an evolutionary movement ‘from the animal man to the Buddha man’. A translation of potentialities into actualities. “Religion is realisation”, he said, and, ‘real-isation’ is a process, not a looking back what has been done or thought in the past.

 The subject, therefore, reverberates with the everlasting question: what is man? There cannot be one single and only answer to this apparently simple question. In reality, every man represents an embodiment of the social relations for, a human society is essentially natural. From different angle man can be said to be an organism that has the potentiality to become an adaptive, self-directing subject of ceaseless changes in the track of maximizing evolutionary perfection, i.e. in the path of refinement (here evolution hints at mental elevation). The subject of philosophical anthropology studies humanity in the round and seeks what unites human kind as well as what helps him break the fetters of empirical existence. This is where the macro level migration differs markedly from the micro level transcendence though, in essence, a shift comes as the major moving force in both the cases. So, man appears to belong to two different worlds, “the world of natural necessity and moral freedom” 3. It follows that an understanding of the subject helps read man from the world of biology through psychology to one of social history that is essentially philosophical. This remains an enigmatic story in the history of mankind and, it is obviously the story of man’s advancement towards freedom.

The story essentially lies in finding newer obstacles on its path and, removing them serially in order to keep his explorations on. He enjoys denying the inherent animal in him by the rejection of instinctive norms that otherwise accept Nature as provided from time to time. The truth finds an echo in one of the letters of Vivekananda –”Everywhere it is better to have a whirlwind come over the work. That clears the atmosphere and gives us a true insight into the nature of things”.4 This ‘true insight’ is what man needs to explore for unveiling his self. In achieving this, man has to incessantly fight against his in-built limitations. Slowly, standing on the strength of the surplus, he crosses his thresholds and, tests the hidden strength in him. Tagore says, “Man in his detachment has realized himself in a wider and deeper relationship with the universe”5, and, the ‘detachment’ has offered him an unbound dimension of thought and activity.


In the evolutionary leap of the organic beings, man, therefore, stands as a rebel against Nature’s subordination. Gifted with that man has earned such a confidence that, at times, he elicits something unthought and uncalculated from his apparently altogether biological enclosure. He then comes out of this enclosure that grows widening with a purposively utilitarian objective since his birth. The growth is an obvious outcome throwing a direct proportionality with the material demands of age, but coming out of the serrated crust of that girdle is not a frequent occurrence, for it stands as a subject of metamorphosis in the run of human race. This rarity of his pays him an added ‘value’, which is distinguished by the appearance of the indomitable human spirit and, the simultaneous absence of commercial reckonings. Anatomically this is a shift from the realm of known biological existence that uses purposiveness as its hub. This essentially qualitative human expanse sets in what could be called freedom, a state of union of the routine man with the vast, unroofed Nature. At this state, no conventional social price could be tagged for the man, who “is true in his freedom”6, and, who enjoys living in such infinite through meeting the unknown and unbound. Functionally, he now transcends.

Transcendental Drifts

 BÛrhad "araÛnyaka UpaniÛsad Most likely the recorded utterance about the transcending spirit appears in the BÛrhad âraÛnyaka UpaniÛsad where the scholarly Maitréyð asks her husband Y"agÛnavalkya-“Yé n"ahaÛn n"amÛrt"a syaÛn kimahaÛn téna kury"aÛn” (IV. 5.4). What follows? Any concrete demand? No. In whichever ways the implication of the word ‘amÛrta’ be brought forth, it would be a vain attempt, I suppose. What it does not mean could at best be guessed. It cannot signify any life-saving potion (nectar), or anything that could be used as a talisman in order to lead a secured life or, bring good fortune. The word means something else. The ‘something’ cannot be packaged in the world of our direct experience, i.e. one of words, nor can it be mechanically fashioned utilizing our conceptual grammar. It lies beyond the habitual paradigms, primarily as a revealing insistence. Maitréyð’s question reflects man’s mostly unasked wish to live in an ‘endless future’, to embrace the ‘limitless unattained’ and, caring for nobody’s sanction, she firmly sticks to her quiry, which comprehending the known world through establishing human relationship in an everchanging spirit, to ultimately reach oneness with the ideal. The ‘amÛrta’ appears as the light that lets one identify the ‘divinity within’ by gradual tearing of servitude bonds of this passional world and makes one absolutely free, when one enjoys standing at nobody’s dictation i.e., when one no longer remains circumstantially conditioned.

The Buddha The ideal of unity and the recognition of divinity in man is a conjoint revelation following the establishment and recognition of wider interrelationship among human beings and, go beyond it. Here lies the story of man’s philosophic evolution. The revelation obviously demands movement and intermixing and, rejects isolation The Buddha-of whom Vivekananda often used to highly speak as, ‘The only man in the world who was quite sane’- greatly emphasizes the truth in the Vinaya Pitaka namely: BhikÛsave c"arikaÛn bahujana sukh"aya ca bahujana hit"aya ca (‘c"arikaÛn’= to be all the time on the move), i.e. goodness and welfare for the greater number of people could be achieve through such continuous selfless movements or shifts from the ego, which being non-utilitarian by nature, energize a man to continuously break and recreate his grater real self by helping him to outgrow beyond habitual limitations and, strengthen him to transcend the given ordeal. The truth-aspiring Gautama became an institution, rather a realization, by himself by dissociating him from his father’s kingdom at Kapil"avastu and migrating to Uruvel"a (the present Buddha Gaya), where he emerged as the Buddha and attained the cherished freedom. This corresponds to his Brahmavih"ara or ‘living in the Infinite’. He had wandered alone fearing nothing and caring for nothing. He kept himself absolutely detached from the causal world and his migratory spirit led him to the state of transcendence.

Aitaréya Br"ahmaÛna A similar echo is heard in the contemporary Aitaréya Br"ahmaÛna (VII.15.1-5) where the disguised Indra utters the enthusing mantra ‘Caraivéti Caraivéti’. This age-old ‘onward and forward’ call has remained in India as one of the most spirited and moving self-starters till today. The call ignites the human spirit to move, work, migrate, communicate and, unveil the hidden human nature one day such that a migratory man of this phenomenal world, discovering and pivoting on his ‘strength of the surplus’, could taste the limitless transcendence, and appear as a refined self. The ‘Caraivéti’ mantra, therefore, has the power to goad a man on initially for physical activity and, shift him gradually to cross the worldly bondages through establishing, breaking and recreating ever new human inter-relationships. It, therefore, lets him feel that he is not merely a metabolic integration; he is rather an embodiment of energy transformation to such degrees of subtly that are yet beyond our comprehension.

Tagore The root of this transcendental humanity could be traced in one of Tagore’s early poems where he says: “Jagat dékhité hoibo b"ahir "ajiké karéci mané” (NIRJHARER SWAPNABHANGA or THE AWAKENING OF THE WATERFALL). It seems that sudden unveiling of his eyes speaks for a wanderlust Tagore, who passionately nurtures an idea of giving beyond the planned movements. The transcending Tagore excels in establishing ever new relationships in his creative renditions, without indulging in mere repetitive feature of the habituated world. This declares a categorical denial of redundancy and subsequent monotony, that otherwise limit a human system, and, expresses an impulse of unchained potency latent in Man the Eternal. This temporary shift from the usual course of life brings freedom to a man and, the pre-requisite for the shift being displacement; one should have a passion to move from one locus to another in order to tear the confines of the everyday experience.

Tagore unveils a truth about man by saying that “He misses himself when isolated; he finds his own larger and truer self in his wide human relationship”7 and, to find this self, man must come closer to man, whereby the pervasive truth becomes comprehensible. In so doing, he requires to move and communicate passionately. This essentially establishes migratory adaptation. But, for ‘Man the Eternal’, Tagore unequivocally voices about the existence of a realm beyond this truth where consciousness of a higher plane “gradually deepens and widens the realization of his immortal being, the perfect, the eternal”8. This might be the turning point towards the transcendental shift, that is dually marked by the reduced utilitarianism and appearance of an altruistic view and, which could primarily arise out of a dissatisfaction about the given order of things. This is when the biological being slowly shifts to turn into a truly ‘thinking’, subject, and, the human being manifests as a ‘man’, who owns his value of mind.

Man as an individual, “dwells in a limited range of space and time and the immediate needs of life”9 but, ‘Man the Eternal’ “very often contradicts the trivialities of our daily life, and upsets the arrangements made for securing our personal exclusiveness behind the walls of individual habits and superficial conventions”29. In reality, an individual, in its finitudes, being guided by social love of development often becomes the focus of stress and tension. The limited man, showing a tendency to draw profit in every movement he traces, often sinks into a bewildered state following every failure and becomes victim to such stresses. It is one of the negative aspects of the migratory shifts while, for the man who transcends, there is no such causality that could bring stress to him for, he develops antipathy towards the causalities and, always discovers himself anew. It indicates that man, as an individual; although lives on social ideas, never dissolves into the society he shapes and, retains the potency to flow within the banks of the laws of life towards realizing the concept of man. This is where he sings: 'Ami caÛncala hé,/ 'Ami sud×uréra piy"asð, i.e. ‘I am a-flutter, ho, with my thirst for the Remote’. Here the word ‘Remote’ hints at a world beyond our ordinary, habitual experiences.

The demands that society makes on an individual and the individual’s dependence on the world are in constant contradiction with the idea free will. A significant question often haunts one at this point: Is a human being absolutely free in his choice of action or, are his actions preordained by forces beyond his control? To find a specific answer tot his question, let us first know that free will is no arbitrariness and freedom is no abstraction. Free will is the most active part of the human consciousness and freedom is a historically developing event. To sum up, the idea of free will and freedom is wholly human and social.

Now, an individual as a man, being predominantly thirsty of that will by nature, never remains satisfied with his limited facts of existence and habitual world of necessities, though every necessity is the elementary stimulus to arouse a shifting response. It is primarily the dissatisfaction that urges him to search for a non-utilitarian world, where he remains no longer definable by some apparently significant attributes and, crosses the enclosures that otherwise could have put him as an object. In the factual explanation, he disintegrates and alienates himself, but the underlying truth is that, by such exercise, he is found integrated with the larger life and, de-alienated so far his rhythmic relationships with the universe is concerned. He grows thereby towards the cherished unity without divorcing the reality. This is where he comes out as creative with the creativity potent enough o keep a society active and even to shape it in the long run. This movement of man is inherently inspired by his thirst for freedom, which is surely an essential feature of the revolutionary character of an individual. The freedom in question is not an abstract symbol for, a withdrawal from life or society is itself a self-opposing act, but it is socially immeasurable and comes very close to recognize one’s inexhaustive possibilities, when one becomes able to initiate events independently (i.e. without compulsion), as was the belief of Kant. Although man’s freedom is very much relative, yet one can, at this state, relying on one’s free will, easily dissociate from the known trumpery world and reaches an elevated state of realization that is beyond all sorts of adjective limitations. This is how he transcends.

Vivekananda During his peripatetic ministry across the Indian subcontinent as a monk, Vivekananda’s selfless, ardent love for the poor and miserable Indians grew so intense that made Sister Nivedita comment that his “historic consciousness was extraordinarily developed”11, which means the three stages of time (past, present and future) and space, in respect of the Indian people became vivid before him. Such development is possible when one rejects undue attachment for causalities of any particular time and space out of a tremendous dissatisfaction with the existing state of things and, firmly denies various forms of defining elements for a human being, i.e. he abhors the self-imposed limitations and feels urged to act on free will. Vivekananda’s deeply absorptive social intercourse with the poor and fallen mass had made him unhesitatingly state that, “Liberty is the first condition of growth”12. This was his great self-realization. To him ‘liberty’ was the positive realization of the supreme truth (in forms of the knowledge supreme, the bliss supreme), without which ‘growth’, and subsequent merging with the universality remains most unlikely. By saying ‘growth’ he meant a leap that is, in essence, a resolving contradiction, a spontaneous process of radical change of quality. For this to attain, he never speaks of negation of everyday world of finitudes that appears as an impulse of man’s life but suggests practices to overcome such confines amidst their hurdles. He reiterates: “Liberty does not certainly mean the absence of obstacles…..but it is our natural right…”13 that could be exercised for bringing one’s will under control when one can easily discharge mounting tensions and, emergence of a new quality puts an end to the former patterns both in the macro and the micro levels. So, while he honours man’s thirst for the primary requirements, he indirectly urges non-attachment for the grossness to transcend over the external formalities at the same time. One of his statements appears mention worthy here: “A man should be free to think”14, i.e. free to determine. This premises intends to drive away man from becoming a machine even though primarily he has to follow a routinely repetitive life. It thus entertains an assertion of independence. In his suggestion, therefore, our existence ultimately unveils its fundamental truth that helps one to evolve into a greater being and, to equate an involved Buddha in the amoeba with the evolved amoeba in the Buddha. Such all pervasive manifestations result from the endless motion in the transformation of energy of the human race.

Bibhuti bhusan, the Bengali literatteur A similar thought of mingling home to an ever beyonding horizon is painted in Pathér P"aÛnc"ali (Ballad of the Road), a classic creation of Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyaya. The novel ends with a ‘let’s go’ utterance of the Deity of the road for Apu, the hero of the novel. The Deity hints at infinite joy out of moving along the unending Road of life and, in this respect, it echoes the remarkable ‘Caraivati’ mantra. The novel paints an innocent Apu, a migrated Apu from his ancestral village Niscindipur and, a restlessly nostalgic Apu in its three chief parts and, subtly ends with a spirit of transcendence, when the Deity is found to smilingly tell him- ‘path "am"ar calé gélo s"amné, s"amné, «sudhui s"amné…’ (my road goes ahead, ahead, only ahead…). Apu stands as a symbol of every man who grows innocently in the midst of paucity yet strong domestic bonds, who has to migrate dependently to his parents in search of a better fortune, who feels restless for a retreat out of intense nostalgia, and, to whom Transcendence appears in the moving spirit of transformation of energy, that moves every man from everyday world of experience towards a greater enriched world of the unknown, of the free determinism, of the solitude, from some fixed and limited plane of consciousness to one where he can control his responses to earthly contacts, he can restrain the effects of the finite world without becoming hostile to it and, be a ‘free’ being.

Eastern and Western Views on Freedom

‘Freedom’ is a problematic concept in so far as it is employed in the expositions of the Indian weltanschauung. To what Sanskrit term does freedom correspond? The answer is not easy to find. Speaking historically all the systems of Indian thought are hermeneutical attempts at understanding the UpaniÛsadic binary of sams"ara and nirv"aÛna. Are they one, or contraries, or contradictories? In the West the debate over freedom and determinism has been endless, since the Greeks to the present times. In modern times Hume reopened the issue in terms of liberty and necessity, and he dismissed it as merely verbal. Kant inaugurated the issue in terms of moral autonomy and freedom versus causality. In course of time, freedom came to be understood in terms of political states of affair, as in the case of Mill.

However, the Indian binary sams"ara and nirv"aÛna is defined unanimously as "atyantika dukkha nivÛrtti, cessation of sorrow or pain consequent upon existential embodiment without remainder. But as to the actual nature of nirv"aÛna (=mokÛsa/ kaivalya/ mukti etc) there is unanimity of opinion. Opinions differ according to the ontological presuppositions of the philosophical systems. Nirv"aÛna, of course is the highest good or summum bonum, termed nih«sréyas, and distinguished from abhiyudaya. But, it has ever been an affair of a solitary individual. The accent on the social amelioration has been seldom heard of in traditional accounts.

 The employment of the concept of ‘freedom’ is complicated by the prepositions that follow it, namely, from, for and to. They may overlap at times, but typologically their nuances are diverse and different. In the Indian context, except for mukti, nirv"aÛna or mokÛsa has no such tags attached. The disjunction, sams"ara or nirv"aÛna appears to be exclusive.

Indian writers and thinkers have employed the concept of ‘freedom’ to denote or designate mukti, mokÛsa or nirv"aÛna. This does some violence to the conceptual niceties of the ideas. As colonial thinkers, they appear to have socio-political connotations of the concept at the back of their minds while they engage in adumbrating the Indian weltanschauung. It appears that they are inclined to reinterpret the tradition into socio-political terms.

Even with this ramified idea of ‘freedom’ at hand, a further addition to this would help open the nexus, I suppose. The word ‘freedom’ holds a wide conceptual dimension. Everyone cherishes to have it or be it, yet not everyone becomes so fortunate as to taste it. The historical development of freedom primarily opens two apparently antagonistic traditions: the Indian and the Western. Obviously we face a problem in choosing the better and desirable end between the two. The answers might ever remain confusing, but we could rest on our understanding to resolve such confusions.

The idea of freedom in the Indian tradition is rooted in the orthodox Indian philosophical system that views it as completely a-social. It implies that Indians had never supported and action-based freedom. To them, freedom appeared as a state of everlastingly beyond suffering when bondages disappear ("atyantika dukkha nivÛrtti). Some call it mokÛsa (absolute liberation from worldly bondages) which is virtually the regaining one’s original splendour. And it was totally an individualistic affair. The only departure in the ancient Indian perspective of freedom comes from the heterodox ®Sramanic philosophy, when the Buddha unequivocally emphasizes 'Atmano mokÛs"arthaÛn jagat hit"aya ca*, liberating oneself in order to do good to the others in the world.

*It means realizing the summum bonum for oneself in order to help others. This is a radical statement in view of the fact that mokÛsa, which, for Advaita Ved"anta, is intrinsically valuable or the value in itself, is rendered extrinsically valuable, i.e. a means for altruism.

Source: Mah"ay"ana-Sutr"alamk"ara

 The Western concept of freedom has ever remained a social and empirical value, where one’s freedom appears to be essentially limited by someone else’s for, the multiple social interactions can neither be forecast nor be controlled to overpower such limitations. Every man’s freedom thus gets limited by the social fetters (not to be confused with the passional fetters of the Indian system). The essence of freedom lies in the removal of such limitations and, the removal is possible through love and service to the society (service in terms of health, education, food, friendship etc.) i.e. the attaining of freedom in this view, does not support an alienated life of abstention with no one else’s concern in its attempt, rather it is categorically a social process.

In our discourse, Maitréyð stands as an example of traditionally Indian (old Br"ahmanical) aspiration, while Tagore, Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo (and other modern Indian thinkers like Mahatma Gandhi) etc. celebrated an action-based freedom and, in their path, every one of them had to face limitations and constraints from the society itself. They did not escape from such societies and, gradually went on empirically towards a freedom, a state of supremacy over the inner and outer struggles. Struggles were there in the transcendental freedom too, but did they carry any expressed message for the society? Perhaps not, for; that freedom nurtured no concern of other people at all. In their attempts a colonial impact cannot be denied, if the disenchanted view about the orthodox Indian idea of freedom (totally a-social but transcendental) be kept alive. Each one of them possessed the generalized objective of institutionalizing their social involvements, concretizing their social commitments and, this is why none of them gave up the society, which was, to them, the pivot of human cycle, the centre of self refinement. Such concept of growing philanthropic institutions (and their ramifications, if possible) was never there in our orthodox system, rather it was virtually loaned from the pre-colonial (first century A.D) Christian idea of service. This loan got a sanction chiefly because of the in-&-out-migration (temporary and permanent both) of the Indians and the British colonizers as well. It brought a large scale socio-cultural impact onto the Indian fabric, through the accomplishments of numerous ought-to social services. An honest confession of this hard truth might seem to be hesitating for the common folk, but one cannot deny the history and, there is nothing disgraceful in acknowledging it. The modern Indian thinkers thus actualized the so-called ideal of freedom, to real-ize it in the social perspective, and, this may now be sankritized as mukti (pl. refer-Vair"agya s"adhané mukti, sé "am"ar noi./asaÃnkhya bandhan m"ajhé mah"anandamoy/ lovibo muktir sw"ad : ‘NAIVEDYA’, poem no. 30- Rabindranath Tagore). A self translation may be read as: ‘Renunciation by severing bonds is not my way to salvation/ I’ll taste blissful liberation tangled by countless ties’.

Special Note on Freedom

Whereas the word ‘freedom’ has diversely been discussed in philosophical anthropology, a note is intended to clarify the subtle distinctions in the typology of freedom.

The freedom of Maitréyð (amÛrta under quote, p.4) has an objective in coming out of the empirical bondages, i.e. it looks at self-refinement or, elevation by keeping herself abstained from the worldly affairs. Her content of freedom has, therefore, no one else’s concern. This could be called a ‘freedom’ from.

The Buddha’s idea of freedom in his saying: bahujana sukh"aya ca bahujana hit"aya ca (p.4), which implies that his was very much categorically concerned about the welfare of man. When Ramakrishna chides Narendranath (later Vivekananda) at his eagerness for absorption into nirvikalpa sam"adhi and straightway asks him to be engaged in providing succor to people around, the former hints at a social freedom. This type might be termed a ‘freedom’ for.

In Sri Aurobndo’s concept of man as a ‘transitional being’, an evolution into greater and richer possibilities is significant. Its essence lies in expressing the “truth of being in himself and help the community and humanity in its seeking for its own truth”.15, i.e. it does not hold freedom something apart from world of existence. To make the concept operative, the evolving man may require recoiling to any of the lower rungs to work with and for the less evolved humanity and, take it up along the graduated path of sublime society. Such world-affirming freedom could be viewed as ‘freedom’ to.


We could, perhaps apply mokÛsa for transcendental freedom and mukti for social freedom amidst various ongoing value-conflicts on the subject. While the former idea tends to follow a linear elevation, the latter has to observe and tread on an intricately controversial path. Can anyone specify/ grade the two types according to their demand or value? Perhaps none in particular. It is rather a challenging task before the society to enter into the realms of both the empirical and the transcendental freedom to find out the better of the two to declare the same as the desirable one in the present period of crises.

References of citations

   1.  Dialectical Materialism(translated by Robert Daglish)/ Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1983/ p.21

   2.  Ibid. p.23

   3.  Ibid. p.249

   4.  Letters of Swami Vivekananda/ Advaita Ashram, Calcutta, 1981 (henceforth Letters) /p.183

   5.  The Religion of Man/ Rabindranath Tagore/ Harper Collins Publishers (imprint), 1993/ p.27

   6.  Ibid. p.122

   7.  Ibid. p.10

   8.  Ibid. p.11

   9.  Ibid. p.15

10.  Ibid. pp.11-12

11.  The Master As I Saw Him/ Sister Nivedita/ Udbodhan Office, Calcutta, 1994/ p.74

12.  Lectures from Colombo to America/ Swami Vivekananda/ Advaita Ashram, Calcutta, 1990/ p.166

13.  Letters/ p.179

14.  Ibid. p.30

15.  The Life Divine/ Sri Aurobindo/ Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 2001/ p.1089



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