Fraternity (HH 171)

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Equality and Liberty remain incomplete unless they are based on fraternity. But true fraternity cannot be established on a political basis unless it has as its background and support the enduring spiritual idea that all creation has emerged from the One Source and is an extension of That. Even limited religious thought that sees only its faithful followers as brothers while regards others as someone else; even an exalted secular thought that sees mankind as one while cutting itself off from the rest of creation cannot become the true and lasting basis of fraternity. It will only give birth to a collective ego which is quite another thing. We discuss this aspect of the triangle that is dreamed off as an ideal human society, a society where freedom, equality and fraternity are respected and acknowledged in principle and practice.

Words of Sri Aurobindo

The Socialist errs in trying to establish fraternity on equality, instead of establishing equality on fraternity. It is possible to have fraternity without having equality; but equality without fraternity cannot last and it will be destroyed by dissension, quarrels and inordinate greed for power. First we must have complete fraternity and then only complete equality. The brotherly feeling is an outward condition: if we all remain full of brotherly feeling, have one common property, one common good and one common effort, that is fraternity. The external condition is based on the inner state. Love for the brother infuses life into fraternity and makes it real. There must be a basis even for that brotherly love. We are children of one Mother, compatriots; this feeling can provide the basis for a kind of brotherly love; though this feeling becomes a basis of political unity, social unity cannot be achieved in this way. We have to go still deeper: just as we all have to overpass our own mothers in order to worship the Mother of our compatriots, in the same way we have to transcend and realise the Universal Mother. We have to transcend the partial Shakti in order to reach the Shakti in her completeness. But, just as in our adoration of Mother India, though we overpass our physical mother yet we do not forget her, in the same way, in our adoration of the Universal Mother we shall transcend Mother India and not forget her. She too is Kali, she too is the Mother. Only religion provides a basis for fraternity. All the religions say, “We are one, division is born of ignorance and jealousy.” Love is the central teaching of all religions. Our religion also says, “We are all one, the dividing intellect is a sign of ignorance, the sage should look on all with an equal eye and perceive the one soul, one Narayan equally established in everyone.” Universal love comes from this equality full of devotion. But this knowledge which is the highest goal of humanity will spread everywhere only at the final stage of our journey; meanwhile we have to realise it partially within, and without, in the family, society, country, in every being. Man is always endeavouring to give an enduring form to fraternity by creating family, clan, society, country, and binding them firmly by laws and scriptures. Up till now that effort has failed. The basis exists and so does the form. But what is needed is some inexhaustible force which will preserve the life of fraternity, so that the basis remains unimpaired and the form becomes everlasting or is continually renewed. God has not yet manifested that Force. He has come down as Rama, Krishna, Chaitanya, Ramakrishna and is preparing to transform the selfish heart of man into a fit receptacle of love. How far is that day when He shall descend again and make this earth a paradise by spreading eternal love and bliss and implanting it in the heart of man!

236 Bengali Writings

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The equal Divine Presence in all of us makes no other preliminary condition, if once this integral self-giving has been made in faith and in sincerity and with a fundamental completeness. All have access to this gate, all can enter into this temple: our mundane distinctions disappear in the mansion of the All-lover. There the virtuous man is not preferred, nor the sinner shut out from the Presence; together by this road the Brahmin pure of life and exact in observance of the law and the outcaste born from a womb of sin and sorrow and rejected of men can travel and find an equal and open access to the supreme liberation and the highest dwelling in the Eternal. Man and woman find their equal right before God; for the divine Spirit is no respecter of persons or of social distinctions and restrictions: all can go straight to him without intermediary or shackling condition. “If” says the divine Teacher “even a man of very evil conduct turns to me with a sole and entire love, he must be regarded as a saint, for the settled will of endeavour in him is a right and complete will. Swiftly he becomes a soul of righteousness and obtains eternal peace.” In other words a will of entire self-giving opens wide all the gates of the spirit and brings in response an entire descent and self-giving of the Godhead to the human being, and that at once reshapes and assimilates everything in us to the law of the divine existence by a rapid transformation of the lower into the spiritual nature. The will of self-giving forces away by its power the veil between God and man; it annuls every error and annihilates every obstacle. Those who aspire in their human strength by effort of knowledge or effort of virtue or effort of laborious self-discipline, grow with much anxious difficulty towards the Eternal; but when the soul gives up its ego and its works to the Divine, God himself comes to us and takes up our burden. To the ignorant he brings the light of the divine knowledge, to the feeble the power of the divine will, to the sinner the liberation of the divine purity, to the suffering the infinite spiritual joy and Ananda. Their weakness and the stumblings of their human strength make no difference. “This is my word of promise,” cries the voice of the Godhead to Arjuna, “that he who loves me shall not perish.” Previous effort and preparation, the purity and the holiness of the Brahmin, the enlightened strength of the king-sage great in works and knowledge have their value, because they make it easier for the imperfect human creature to arrive at this wide vision and self-surrender; but even without this preparation all who take refuge in the divine Lover of man, the Vaishya once preoccupied with the narrowness of wealth getting and the labour of production, the Shudra hampered by a thousand hard restrictions, woman shut in and stunted in her growth by the narrow circle society has drawn around her self-expansion, those too, pāpa-yonayah. , on whom their past Karma has imposed even the very worst of births, the outcaste, the Pariah, the Chandala, find at once the gates of God opening before them. In the spiritual life all the external distinctions of which men make so much because they appeal with an oppressive force to the outward mind, cease before the equality of the divine Light and the wide omnipotence of an impartial Power.

Essays on the Gita: page 334 – 335; The Gita verses: IX: 30 – 32

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