Book Review on Jitendra Sharma’s Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry

Nishi Sharma Reviews Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry by Jitendra Sharma

Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry is a distinctive work of art by Jitendra Sharma, based on Sri Aurobindo’s phenomenal poetic endeavor. It is a brilliant attempt to discover the concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s poetry. This book brings out Sri Aurobindo Ghose’s integral philosophy of Man and his existence in this universe—and beyond it. Man is everywhere in his poetry with minute projections, innumerable possibilities and natural tendencies towards self-exceeding. He sees Man through the quintessential prism and finds him as: ‘the increasing God’, ‘self-liberating person’, ‘the eternal portion of the Divine’, ‘a God in the making’, ‘a portion of the Divine Consciousness and Essence’ and ‘intermediate creature between animal and the Divine’.

The author, Jitendra Sharma, focuses light on the concepts of evolution, consciousness and transformation of Man and his mind which are intertwined in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. He traces the footprints of Sri Aurobindo’s life and his growth and excellence as a poet in initial chapters. The third chapter emphasizes on his perception of Man, and in the subsequent chapters the author discovers the concept of Man in his early poems, long poems, sonnets and his magnum opus Savitri in details.

Sri Aurobindo (15 August 1872–5 December 1950) was a well-known politician, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru and poet. But the poet in him is at the forefront of his personality which expresses his true and deepest spiritual experiences. He is widely quoted as the most outstanding Indo-Anglian writer for volume as well as variety. The canon of his writings includes philosophy, poetry, plays, criticism on social, political and historical topics, devotional works, spiritual journals, thousands of letters on yoga, and translations of the epics such as the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Gita. His prominent philosophical writings are The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga, while his prominent poetic work is Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol.

In his early days, Sri Aurobindo’s poems were largely influenced by the serene beauty of nature, Irish patriotic movement and Greek heritage. After coming to India from England, his poetry took mystic philosophic turn. He composed poems that set tune with those of Bankim Chanda Chatterjee and Madhusudan Dutt.  His poems like The Vedantin’s PrayersRebirth and Parabrahman are grounded on philosophy. In his early poetry, Sri Aurobindo perceived Man as an image of God which is intrinsically divine. He depicted Man as a constantly-evolving creature in a divine image and accepting the ingenuity of Science. In his longer poems, death and immortality of man are largely discussed with a spiritual insight on Man, Nature and God. Sri Aurobindo wrote 87 sonnets in which he described Man and great spiritual truths.

Magnum opus Savitri – a Legend and a Symbol, a cosmic poetic epic of nearly 24,000 lines arranged in 12 Books and 49 Cantos, is considered as “probably the greatest epic in English language” by Raymond Frank Piper, a famous western philosopher-critique. Savitri is a well-known story of Savitri in Indian Mythology who brought back the life of her husband from the Lord of Death, Yama, that illustrates the power of a woman’s devotion. In this epic, Aswapathy, a childless king, symbolizes a man who grows from an individual to the impersonality of the Self by getting Savitri as his child—an answer to his tapasya, which proves aspiring man’s possibilities. Aswapathy is depicted as a man raising mankind to a higher level by drawing energies and higher consciousness from the Divine. Savitri symbolizes a man who challenges the Lord of Death for the sake of entire humanity. Man is shown as full of imperfections, limitations, ignorance and futilities, confused by doubt and contradictions and turned away from divinity. But the same man begins to make continuous efforts to reach out to the Light after becoming aware of the Self.

Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry is a tribute to the greatest soul and an insightful gift to Sri Aurobindo’s followers.

Author’s Bio: Dr. Jitendra Sharma obtained the Master’s Degree in French from Karnatak University Dharwar and had M.Phil. in French from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. He has also studied in the Stendhal University of Grenoble in France. His literary articles have appeared in various journals and he has participated in more than 80 national/international seminars, workshops and conferences. He heads the Department of French at St. Joseph’s College, Devagiri, Calicut (Kerala) where he tries to implement Sri Aurobindo’s education methodology in his teaching profession.

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