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Title: From Aurobindo to Auroville : marrying the mystical and the empirical
Author: Kilburn, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 5269
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines a proposed narrative between text and practice, in the work of the modern Indian thinker Aurobindo Ghose and Auroville; an experimental township created under his influence. Aurobindo's spiritual philosophy poses non-distinction between transcendent, infinite Spirit and the immanent, finite Matter of terrestrial existence, claiming that the realisation of the one need not entail the dismissal of the other. With a deep focus on Aurobindo's philosophical magnum opus, The Life Divine, and a wide-ranging consideration of his vast disciplinary oeuvre, this thesis argues for a commonality of "method" in text, which might find translation and application outside the strictly textual. This "universal realism" is not only elucidated in the variant foci of his broad textual oeuvre: comprising politics, psychology and poetics, but is also foreshadowed by the key experiences and spiritual realisations in his own life. My thesis attempts to understand the mileage of these ideals and resultant methodology, to argue for their usefulness both for an integral understanding of Aurobindo's diverse corpus, and for an integral re-imagining of individual and communal development. The thesis highlights the way in which the ideas of Aurobindo and his Parisian spiritual companion, Mirra Alfassa (or the "Mother"), find dialogue with modern, global ideas within Auroville. I argue that we might see their ideas at play; within the creation of new forms of institutional and architectural development; reconceived notions of global spirituality, as well as within the discourse that makes these intentions explicit. This dialogue utilises and redefines the problematic dichotomies highlighted in Aurobindo's work: (nature/divine, individual/society, tradition/innovation, mind/body), to examine "futorologisms": linguistic and cultural forms posed by the community such as "divine anarchy" and "embodied spirituality", that inspire conceptual frameworks beyond a dualistic paradigm. I consider the mileage of these literary and social texts as contemporary Utopian projects that might be reconceived in light of a wider zeitgeist, beyond themselves and potentially beyond the discipline of Religious Studies.
Supervisor: Flood, Gavin ; Hausner, Sondra Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available