Monday, September 5, 2022

The Conception of India as a Titaness

18th-century painting of Durga

slaying demon Mahishasura

In 1918, Sri Aurobindo published his four part essay, “The Renaissance in India.” In this essay he examines the possibility of a Hindu renaissance happening in India. Here’s an excerpt from part one of his essay: 

“On the whole what we see is a giant Shakti who awakening into a new world, a new and alien environment, finds herself shackled in all her limbs by a multitude of gross or minute bonds, bonds self-woven by her past, bonds recently imposed from outside, and is struggling to be free from them, to arise and proclaim herself, to cast abroad her spirit and set her seal on the world. We hear on every side a sound of the slow fraying of bonds, here and there a sharp tearing and snapping; but freedom of movement has not yet been attained. The eyes are not yet clear, the bud of the soul has only partly opened. The Titaness has not yet arisen.”

It is noteworthy that Aurobindo has used the word “Titaness,” not “Titan,” for India. Like most Bengali nationalist thinkers of his time, he conceived India as a motherland. The notion that Hindu India was a matrbhumi (motherland), not pitrbhumi (fatherland), was first popularized by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in his 1882 book Anandamath, which depicts the Indian landmass as an entity inseparable from Goddess Kali and Goddess Durga.

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