After we became free from the foreign rule in 1947 and as soon as we got in a position to take hold of our own national destiny we chose to fall under the sway of the material civilisation of the West by initially adopting its tamasic ideal of a state engineered Socialism and later on (after 1990) gradually abandoning it in favour of its rajasic twin – the hedonistic ideal of Capitalism. If we take 25 years for the length of a generation and start from the year 1950 – the year of the founding of the Secular Democratic Republic of India – we are neither very far from the completion of the period allotted to us by Swami Vivekananda nor – if we take a deeper view of things – from the result predicted by him.
The root of all our present problems lies in the acute human selfishness that has emerged or come out in the open due to our blind pursuit of the materialistic ideal and pervades all our individual and collective thinking, feeling and living. During the past few years, things have come to such a state that the snowball of selfishness and corruption have become visible to all who at all care to look behind the surface appearances of things. Even among those who are rigorously pursuing their selfish pecuniary aims, there are likely to be very few who would not, in their reflective moments, feel that their life has become really very sinful and they are not wrong because, truly, selfishness is the only sin and selflessness is the only real virtue. The names of some of the most common fruits of this poisonous root which have assumed a much greater prominence ever since the beginning of this century are Commercialism, Corruption, Adulteration, Pollution, Exploitation, Terrorism, etc. All these are interrelated and spring from one common root – acute selfishness. After the terrorist attack of September 2001 (in the USA), terrorism came to be universally acknowledged as the most serious problem faced by humanity but recently corruption has taken the front-rank in India, especially after a spontaneous demonstration of strong public disapproval and disgust at the conduct of politicians and big business who have been in league plundering public resources and money. What makes this problem still more disturbing for the common man is that all know that these shocking exposures of graft are only the tip of the iceberg.
Now, what is the solution? Charity begins at home and one must begin with oneself, not by having a censorious look at others and their conduct but by looking into the depths of one’s own being – the only place where the roots of all problems lie. Only by doing so can one discover how when one passionately pursues a materialistic – or for that matter any egoistic – ideal one exposes oneself to the danger of adverse vital forces taking effective possession of one’s surface being and nature. When this happens, the result is that “…man intellectually developed, mighty in scientific knowledge and the mastery of gross and subtle nature, using the elements as his servants and the world as his footstool, but undeveloped in heart and spirit, becomes only an inferior kind of Asura using the powers of a demigod to satisfy the nature of an animal. According to dim traditions and memories of the old world, of such a nature was the civilisation of old Atlantis, submerged beneath the Ocean when its greatness and its wickedness became too heavy a load for the earth to bear, and our own legends of the Asuras represent a similar consciousness of a great but abortive development in humanity.” (CWSA 1, 439) To a deeper glance, the above seems to be the exact description of the present condition of humanity in general which, with the threat of moral and ecological disaster looming large on the horizon, faces the prospect of extinction in not too distant a future.
The counter movement against this state of things must begin at an individual level and initially with persons who have become conscious in their depths of the root cause of all the problems faced by humanity. For a successful culmination, an increasing number of people must be made conscious of the real nature of the issues involved and the play of the powerful occult forces – both favourable and unfavourable – behind the surface appearances. It is with this object in view that an attempt is made here to present before the people at large an in-depth analysis of the nature and the extent of the problem with the help of such selections from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which provide a wide perspective and a deep and penetrating insight into the real issues involved and the problems faced by humanity at this critical juncture in its evolutionary journey.