This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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The adventure of conscioussness: India’s spiritual evolution

Devdip Ganguli — Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

This paper discusses the evolution of spirituality in India. It begins with the Vedas, which according to Sri Aurobindo, is the fount of all spirituality. The paper looks at esoteric Vedic truths, as well as exoteric symbolism and the use of the latter in opening physical man towards the Beyond. It then proceeds to the Upanishads where the esoteric truths expressed in the Vedas are demystified to some extent and made available to a larger audience. This is followed by a further simplification and broadening of base by the Darshanas, which make use of the mind rather than intuition as the medium of knowledge — spirituality is greatly intellectualised and spiritual truths once restricted to the domain of experience are now discussed and analysed by the mind — and the Puranas which appeal to the heart and vital being of man. While the Upanishadic line develops prominently the Purusha aspect, the Tantra evolves parallely in the background with its emphasis on Prakriti as Shakti. Then come the ascetic and otherworldly philosophies of Buddha and Shankara. Shankara, even while denying Buddhism and reviving Hinduism, continues the Buddhist movement; his philosophy leads to a total division between spirit and matter. Post-Shankara sees a gradual decline of India, except for a few spiritual flashes, like the Bhakti and Tantra movements which keep the inner fire burning. But even they are completely degraded by the 19th century. Finally, the paper discusses Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga — its tremendous importance, and why it is the next inevitable step in Indian spirituality