The Mother has said that the Age of Religions is over. She and Sri Aurobindo repeatedly proclaimed that Their Teaching is not a Religion, that Their intention was never to form or propagate any religion. With reference to Auroville, She has specifically declared that “Auroville is for those who want to live a life essentially divine but who renounce all religions whether they be ancient, modern, new or future.”
I am quoting below the oft-quoted declaration of the Mother relating to Auroville:
Auroville and the ReligionsWe want the Truth.For most men, it is what they want that they label as truth.The Aurovillians must want the Truth whatever it may be.Auroville is for those who want to live a life essentially divine but who renounce all religions whether they be ancient, modern, new or future.It is only in experience that there can be knowledge of the Truth.No one ought to speak of the Divine unless he has had experience of the Divine.Get experience of the Divine, then alone will you have the right to speak of it.The objective study of religions will be a part of the historical study of the development of human consciousness.Religions make up part of the history of mankind and it is in this guise that they will be studied at Auroville - not as beliefs to which one ought or ought not to adhere, but as part of a process in the development of human consciousness which should lead man towards his superior realization.PROGRAMMEResearch through experience of theSupreme TruthA life divinebutNO RELIGIONSOur research will not be a search effected by mystic means. It is in life itself that we wish to find the Divine. And it is through this discovery that life can really be transformed.
I have recently read the posting dated October 6, 2006, in Savitri Era, a Blog published by my friend Tusar Mahapatra, which is placed below for reference :
No confusion over the identity as a religion
That Savitri Era constitutes a religion was adjudicated by Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy in his famous dissenting judgemnet of 8th November, 1982 in the Auroville Case
[We do not desire to enter into any polemics over Sri Aurobindo's teachings as it is not within the judicial province to do so except to the limited extent of finding out whether his teachings have the necessary spiritual content to qualify as religious doctrine and how his followers understood these teachings...
Sri Aurobindo, of course, disclaimed that he was founding a religion. No great religious teacher ever claimed that he was, founding a new religion or a new school of religious thought. The question is not whether Sri Aurobindo refused to claim or denied that he was founding a new religion or a new school of religious thought but whether his disciples and the community thought so. …
If the followers of Sri Aurobindo constitute a religious nomination as, to my mind, they undoubtedly do, the members of Sri Aurobindo Society are certainly a distinct and identifiable section of the ‘religious denomination’] EXTRACTS FROM THE JUDGEMENT BY JUSTICE O. CHINNAPPA REDDY IN AUROVILLE CASE New Delhi, 8th November, 1982. ¶ 9:44 AM
After reading the posting, I felt I am back to square one.
Even if JUSTICE O. CHINNAPPA REDDY has opined so, by giving such a dissenting note, it raised several questions in my mind. Should we accept finally the adjudications given by the Honorable Justice Reddy ? Should we then declare that we have formed another religion, like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, even Hinduism etc? And many other questions came to my mind, especially about the Future of the Teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
I wanted further details about the Auroville case to answer my questions.
And luckily I found more details in Marketime, another blog published by Tusar.
The completer note given by the Honorable Justice Reddy is given below:
I have the good fortune of having before me the scholarly Judgement of my brother Misra L. I agree with my brother Misra J. t the Writ Petitions must fail. With much that he has said, also, I agree. But with a little, to my own lasting regret, I do not agree. It therefore, proper for me to explain the points of my disagreement. …We do not desire to 'enter into any polemics over Sri Aurobindo's teachings as it is not within the judicial province to do so except to the limited extent of finding out whether his teachings have the necessary spiritual content to qualify as religious doctrine and how his followers understood these teachings... …Sri Aurobindo, of course, disclaimed that he was founding a religion. No great religious teacher ever claimed that he was, founding a new religion or a new school of religious thought. The question is not whether Sri Aurobindo refused to claim or denied that he was founding a new religion or a new school of religious thought but whether his disciples and the community thought so. …
If the followers of Sri Aurobindo constitute a 'religious nomination as, to my mind, they undoubtedly do, the members of Sri Aurobindo Society are certainly a distinct and identifiable section of the ‘religious denomination’… ... But, the question is has the Fundamental Right guaranteed by Art.26 been infringed by the Auroville (Emergency Provisions) Act 1980. We have to notice straightaway that the Act did not take away the management of Sri Aurobindo Society. What it did or purposed to do was "to provide for the taking over, in the public interest, of the management of Auroville for a limited period and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto" . . . ... the question arises whether Auroville is an institution established and maintained for religious and charitable purposes and whether its management of Auroville is 'a matter of religion '.
Auroville is a township and not a place of worship. It is a township dedicated not to the practice and propagation of any religious doctrine but to promote international understanding and world peace, surely, a secular and not a religious activity.... The management of the International, cultural township of Auroville is not, in our opinion, a matter of religion. . . . On the several other questions argued before us I accept the conclusion of Misra J. . The Writ Petitions are accordingly dismissed but in the circumstances there will be no order regarding costs. . J.(0. CHINNAPPA REDDY) New Delhi, 8th November, 1982.
I will try to understand and analyze the dissenting note given by the Honorable Justice Reddy, with due respects to him.
But his adjudications were not the whole truth. As we know, it was a dissenting note.
The Government of India had set up a probe to enquire into the reports of mismanagement and diversion of govt. funds by Sri Aurobindo Society. Consequently, the society sought minority status from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition, mainly on the ground that The Teaching of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother do not form a religion and the Ashram, the Society and Auroville were not religious institutions. The final order and judgment passed by the Honorable Supreme Court were mainly based on the quotations from of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
I am quoting below the conclusive portions from the judgment passed by the Honorable Supreme Court :
“On the basis of the materials placed before us viz., Memorandum of Association of the Society, the several applications made by the Society claiming exemption under s.35 and s.80 of Income-tax Act, the repeated utterings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that the Society and Auroville were not religious institutions and host of other documents there is no room for doubt that neither the Society nor Auroville constitute a religious denomination and the teachings of Sri Aurobindo only represented his philosophy and not a religion... ...”
In the body of the judgment, there are some quotations from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. I am placing the relevant portions below:
“In Sri Aurobindo's own words (The Teaching and the Ashram of Sri Aurobindo 1934, p . 6): "The Ashram is not a religious association. Those who are here come from all religions and some are of no religion. There is no creed or set of dogmas, no governing religious body; there are only the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and certain psychological practices of concentration and meditation, etc. for the enlarging of the consciousness, receptivity to the Truth, mastery over the desires, the discovery of the divine self and consciousness concealed within each human being, a higher evolution of the nature."
Sri Aurobindo himself said: "I may say that it is far from my purpose to propagate any religion, new or old."
Sri Aurobindo says again : "We are not a party or a church or religion." Sri Aurobindo exposes: "Churches and creeds have, for example, stood violently in the way of philosophy and science, burned a Giordano Bruno, imprisoned a Galileo, and so generally misconducted themselves in this matter that philosophy and science had in self-defense to turn upon Religion and rend her to pieces in order to get a free field for their legitimate development.”
The Mother said on 19.3.1973: " Here we do not have religion.”
Sri Aurobindo says again: “Yogic methods have something of the same relation to the customary psychological workings of man as has to scientific handling of the natural force of electricity or of steam to the normal operations of steam and of electricity. And the two, are formed upon a knowledge developed and confirmed by regular experiments, a practical analysis and constant results. All methods grouped under the common name of Yoga are special psychological processes grounded on a fixed truth of nature and developing, out of normal functions, powers and results which were always latent but which her ordinary movements do not easily or do not often manifest."
It is pertinent to quote Mother's answer to a question:
"Q. Sweet Mother, what is the difference between Yoga and religion?
Mother's Answer: Ah! My child. It is as though you were asking me the difference between a dog and cat."
There can be no better proof than what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother themselves thought of their teachings and their institutions to find out whether the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and his Integral Yoga constitute a religion or a philosophy. The above utterings from time to time by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother hardly leave any doubt about the nature of the institution.
[Interested readers may some more relevant portions of the Judgment of the Honorable Supreme Court here.]
It may be seen that Justice Reddy begins his dissenting note with the following words:
“We do not desire to 'enter into any polemics over Sri Aurobindo's teachings as it is not within the judicial province to do so except to the limited extent of finding out whether his teachings have the necessary spiritual content to qualify as religious doctrine and how his followers understood these teachings.”
Though Justice Reddy had given the Note otherwise, the Judgment of the Honorable Supreme Court was that the Teaching of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother do not form any religion. From a perusal of the quotations from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother made in the Judgment, it becomes crystal clear that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did never mean to propagate or found any religion. Rather, they were fully opposed to the idea. Let me repeat what Sri Aurobindo is quoted to have said: “… philosophy and science had in self-defence to turn upon Religion and rend her to pieces in order to get a free field for their legitimate development.”
Thus, we find that the Honorable Supreme Court has declared the Teaching of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother do not form any religion, or any religious denomination.
And I am thankful also to Justice Reddy who says that he does not “… desire to 'enter into any polemics over Sri Aurobindo's teachings as it is not within the judicial province to do so …”
So, the Truth is that the Teaching of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother is not a Religion. We, Their followers, need not rejoice and follow the Religion of Sri Aurobindo and Mother very religiously, very devoutly, and begin conflicts with other religions, and remain devoutly stationed and fixed with the new ‘creed’ for another millennium, forgetting the Aim of the Progressive Realisation of the Supramental Transformation, forgetting any real progress as visioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
The Mother said on April 29, 1953:
Otherwise [if people sought for the truth], there would be no religion : there would be masters and disciples, people with a higher teaching and an exceptional experience. That would be fine. But as soon as the master is gone, what happens is that the knowledge he gave is turned into a religion. Rigid dogmas are established, religious rules are born, and all you can do is bow before the Table of the Law…. Luckily for all of you [children here], you have no religion. And I hope you will never have any, because that is closing the door on progress.”
Let me quote another note from the Mother on religion :
( A note to a visiting Western woman who wanted to teach in a “religious school.”)
One must not confuse a religious teaching with a spiritual teaching. Religious teaching belongs to the past and arrests progress, while spiritual teaching is the teaching of the future. It enlightens the consciousness and prepares it for the future realization.
Spiritual teaching is above religions and strives towards a total truth. It teaches us to come into direct contact with the Divine.
On April 29, 1961, the Mother replied to a disciple who asked whether a religion could be founded on Sri Aurobindo’s teachings. She wrote :
“…. Men are such fools that they can change anything at all into a religion, so great is their need for a fixed framework for their narrow thought and limited action. They do not feel secure unless they can affirm, ‘this is true and that is not’. But such an affirmation becomes impossible for anyone who has read and understood what Sri Aurobindo wrote. Religion and yoga are not situated on the same plane of the being, and spiritual life can exist in its purity only if it is free from all mental dogma.”
On April 3, 1957, the Mother stated as follows:
“A new religion would be something not only useless, but harmful. It’s a new life that has to be created ; it’s a new consciousness that has to be expressed. It is something that is beyond intellectual limits and mental formulas. It’s a living truth that must manifest.”
Again, the Mother stated on June 9, 1929 :
“It is often said that, if Jesus came back, he would not be able to recognize what he taught in the forms that have been imposed on it, and if Buddha were to come back and see what has been made of his teaching, he would immediately run back discouraged to Nirvana ! All religions have each the same story to tell. The occasion for its birth is the coming of a great Teacher of the world. He comes and reveals and is the incarnation of a Divine Truth. But men seize upon it, trade upon it, make an almost political organization out of it. The religion is equipped by them with a government and policy and laws, with its creeds and dogmas, its rules and regulations, its rites and ceremonies, all binding upon its adherents, all absolute and inviolable. Like the State, it too administers reward to the loyal and assigns punishments for those that revolt or go astray, for the heretic and the renegade….
This attitude is natural to the religious mind ; but it is just that which makes religion stand in the way of the spiritual life…. When you stop at a religious creed and tie yourself in it, taking it for the only truth in the world, you stop the advance and widening of your inner soul.”
Let us see what Sri Aurobindo tells us :
“How much stupidity and hatred men succeed in packing up decorously and labeling ‘Religion’ !
The quarrels or religious sects are like the disputing of pots, which shall be alone allowed to hold the immortalizing nectar. Let them dispute, but the thing for us is to get at the nectar in whatever pot and attain immortality.”
Sri Aurobindo further tells us in another occasion :
“… Then again, I don’t believe in advertisement except for books etc., and in propaganda except for politics and patent medicines. But for serious works it is a poison. It means either a stunt or a boom ― and stunts and booms exhaust the thing they carry on their crest and leave it lifeless and broken high and dry on the shores of nowhere ― or it means a movement. A movement in the case of a work like mine means the founding of a school or a sect or some other damned nonsense. It means that hundreds and thousands of useless people join in and corrupt the work or reduce to a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy and silence. It is what has happened to ‘religions’ and is the reason of their failure…”
Founding a new religion means repeating the same mistake that has happened in connection with all religions on earth ― the Truth that was coming down receded into secrecy and silence, leaving the ‘religions’ nowhere.
He says on August 18, 1935 :
“I may say that it is far from my purpose to propagate any religion, new or old, for humanity in the future. A way to be opened that is still blocked, not a religion to be founded, is my conception of the matter.”
To found a religion basing on the Teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, or to declare Their Teachings and thought and philosophy as a religion is an act of gross disobedience and deception to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It is a fall, a failure and a frustration of Their Teaching. It is act of rebellion.
Founding a religion will be creating an obstruction between the seeker and the Truth that is descending.
Let us understand it and stop from disobeying and deceiving Them, from stopping the Truth that is still descending for us.
Let us not stop the Progress.
Let us not forget the Aim, the Purpose : the Supramental Manifestation on Earth. Let us not pull back and stop the March towards the New World, towards the New Horizon.