Guru English and the Future Poetry

Guru English and the Future Poetry

Cogito in the Matrix by Erik Davis

As a postscript to the study on The Future Poetry since 1920, I’d like to post an article on Sri Aurobindo’s the Future Poetry as seen through the curious Indian English hybrid language that Srinivas Aravamudan (asst. professor at Duke University) calls Guru English. As instanced by Sri Aurobindo Guru English has not only metaphysical intention but, serves as a resistance medium. Aravamundan writes: “The precision of his Guru English enabled a spiritual counter-thrust against his Western colonial masters”., while also recognizing the democratic and cosmopolitan influences in his text. “Aurobindo deems…..Whitman as the true successor to Shelly, because of Whitman’s foresight that can include the cosmic, universal and the democratic within its vision”

Aravamudan uses the Future Poetry an an example of Sri Aurobindo’s theorizing of “Guru English” as it applies to English Language Poetry. This post begins with some passages from the book Guru English on The Future Poetry and following this is the introductory chapter to the book Guru English that further explains Aravamudan’s concept. All in all Aravamundan’s exploration of Sri Aurobindo favorable by in large allowing Sri Aurobindo’s truth claims to speak for themselves, not simply appropriating them to various types of academic theorizing. For example he does not feel the need to interrogate the claim of “Overhead Poetry” in Sri Aurobindo’s usage. However, what he does interrogate is the application of the English language form that dovetails with concepts of Vedantic spirituality that for the purposes of his study begins with Rammohun Roy in the early 19th century and stretches through Sri Aurobindo and others to its usage today in such notables as Deepak Chopra. His study has resulted in how he constructs Guru English while demonstrating the interesting line of flight that the globalization of spirituality has taken following its Indian diaspora.

“Inspired by Cousins essay Aurobindo wrote a long justification of the spiritual and literary aims of his poetic endeavors entitled Future Poetry. The powers of English poetry and ancient Vedic incantation can be combined by “discovery of a closer approximation to what might call the mantra in poetry, that rhythmatic speech which, as the Veda puts it, rises at once from the heart of the seer and from the distant home of Truth. In rhythmic movement verbal form and visionary insight, English poetry can match the mantric achievements of Vedic seers. Furthermore : The Indian spirit could seize powerfully the spiritual motive in an age which lived a strenuous objective life and was strongly objective in its outward mentality.

Aurobindo had celebrated Bankim’s “Banda Mataram” as a powerful nationalist mantra, but as one that had eventually lost its efficacy. The greater mantra now had to come from a more rarified transcendental plane. This goes a step beyond Bankim’s dictum regarding the objective instrumentality of English, as the spiritual initiative will be seized in the language of the objective, English, which will itself be subjectively deepened……

The Future Poetry Aurobindo claims will focus on Truth, Life, Beauty, Delight and Spirit in equal measure

The new poetry of the Future is ushered in as a concrete reality even when it is claimed that it will be more intuitive, less recondite, and better connected to the material life of man. While Aurobindo shies away from direct identification with this lineage (Rishis) self reference hovers in the background. “The idea of the poet who is also a Rishi has made its appearance again” Guru English does not mean only literature about the spirit , it means also a bonus, that of English poetry written by gurus, the foremost exponent being Aurobindo himself. Why would this not be true, especially when the voice of poetry is deemed to appear “from regions above us (from) a Supermind which sees things in their innermost and largest truth”?

The adequate and dynamic degrees of poetic speech will correspondingly be raised to “intuitive and illuminative” powers and this revitalized Guru English will be the distinctive feature of “nations of the coming dawn” The guru armed with the mantra of overhead poetry will sing of the imminent arrival of the superman…….

If Guru English expressed the efficiencies of a Cosmopolotinism. ceaselessly mopping up the various remaindered fractions that earlier Romantic particularisms and universalism could not reach. Romanticisms afterlife is ensured in the prosthetic and derivative discourses, such as Guru English.” (Aravamuda p101-104)


Leave a Reply