An international university centre
The conditions in which men live on earth are the result of their state of consciousness. To seek to change these conditions without changing the consciousness is a vain chimera. Those who have been able to perceive what could and ought to be done to improve the situation in the various domains of human life -- economic, political, social, financial, educational and sanitary -- are individuals who have, to a greater or lesser extent, developed their consciousness in an exceptional way and put themselves in contact with higher planes of consciousness. But their ideas have remained more or less theoretical or, if an attempt has been made to realise them practically, it has always failed lamentably after a certain period of time; for no human organisation can change radically unless human consciousness itself changes. Prophets of a new humanity have followed one another; religions, spiritual or social, have been created; their beginnings have sometimes been promising, but as humanity has not been fundamentally transformed, the old errors arising from human nature itself have gradually reappeared and after some time we find ourselves almost back at the point we had started from with so much hope and enthusiasm. Also, in this effort to improve human conditions, there have always been two tendencies, which seem to be contrary but which ought to complement each other so that progress may be achieved. The first advocates a collective reorganisation, something which could lead to the effective unity of mankind. The other declares that all progress is made first by the individual and insists that the individual should be given the conditions in which he can progress freely. Both are equally true and necessary, and our effort should be directed along both these lines at once. For collective progress and individual progress are interdependent. Before the individual can take a leap forward, at least a little of the preceding progress must have been realised in the collectivity. A way must therefore be found so that these two types of progress may proceed side by side.
It is in answer to this urgent need that Sri Aurobindo conceived the scheme of his international University, in order to prepare the human elite who will be able to work for the progressive unification of mankind and be ready at the same time to embody the new force which is descending to transform the earth. A few broad ideas will serve as a basis for the organisation of this university centre and will govern its programme of studies.
The most important idea is that the unity of the human race can be achieved neither by uniformity nor by domination and subjection. Only a synthetic organisation of all nations, each one occupying its true place according to its own genius and the part it has to play in the whole, can bring about a comprehensive and progressive unification which has any chance of enduring. And if this synthesis is to be a living one, the grouping should be effectuated around a central idea that is as wide and as high as possible, in which all tendencies, even the most contradictory, may find their respective places. This higher idea is to give men the conditions of life they need in order to be able to prepare themselves to manifest the new force that will create the race of tomorrow.
All impulsions of rivalry, all struggle for precedence and domination must disappear and give way to a will for harmonious organisation, for clear-sighted and effective collaboration.
To make this possible, the children should be
accustomed from a very early age not merely to the idea itself, but to
its practice. That is why the international university centre will be
international; not because students from all countries will be admitted
here, nor even because they will be taught in their own language, but
above all because the cultures of the various parts of the world will
be represented here so as to be accessible to all, not merely intellectually
in ideas, theories, principles and language, but also vitally in habits
and customs, art in all its forms -- painting, sculpture, music, architecture,
decoration -- and physically through natural scenery, dress, games, sports,
industries and food. A kind of permanent world-exhibition should be organised
in which all countries will be represented in a concrete and living way.
The ideal would be for every nation with a well-defined culture to have
a pavilion representing that culture, built in a style that is most expressive
of the customs of the country; it will exhibit the nation's most representative
products, natural as well as manufactured, and also the best expressions
of its intellectual and artistic genius and its spiritual tendencies.
Each nation would thus have a very practical and concrete interest in
this cultural synthesis and could collaborate in the work by taking responsibility
for the pavilion that represents it. Living accommodation, large or small
according to the need, could be attached, where students of the same nationality
could stay and thus enjoy the true culture of their native country and
at the same time receive at the university centre the education which
will introduce them to all the other cultures that exist on earth. In
this way, international education will not be merely theoretical, in the
classroom, but practical in all the details of life.
Concerning the principles which will govern the education given at the Sri Aurobindo International University Centre, it has been mentioned that each nation must occupy its own place and play its part in the world concert.
This should not be taken to mean that each nation
can choose its place arbitrarily, according to its own ambitions and cravings.
A country's mission is not something which can be decided mentally with
all the egoistic and ignorant preferences of the external consciousness,
for in that case the field of conflict between nations might be shifted,
but the conflict would continue, probably with even greater force.
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