Skip to Content

325. The Aristocracy of India

Nobility, high-mindedness, largeness of Spirit, and magnanimity are the qualities that go to adorn the aristocrat. In Europe there was the landed aristocracy. The base of character is a capacity for accomplishment. Social accomplishment is mostly wealth and status. In the earlier centuries, wealth was in the form of land. In India life was permeated and saturated by Spirit. Aristocracy in India was of the Spirit. We may as well call it Spiritual Aristocracy. In an article written in 1907, Sri Aurobindo describes at length the various facets of that Personality. The heart exults to know what the cream of India was in the period that was prior to 1857. One can write what Sri Aurobindo had described but to capture the spirit of His writing is not given to us mortals.

His English prose rose in height higher than the masters of English Prose, as the thought that he expressed was spiritual. Maybe one whose spiritual attainments are of that level can do justice in such reporting if his mastery of the English language is also of those Masters. He calls the spirit of ancient India aristocratic. Thought of a high and proud nobility shaped life. To attain this very best in life man was willing to sacrifice the very best in thought, action and character. Pursuit of knowledge demanded wiping out every impulse of desire. To do so, the Jnani had to devote himself to poverty. That was the role the Brahmin chose for himself. Chivalrous battle was the field of the Kshatriya. All the charms of life were to him mere dust in comparison with his honour. His honour lay in the protection of the weak. It was the noble fulfillment of his princely duty. His was an epic inspiration, a world-defying enthusiasm.

To give up what was held precious and dear, to remain calm and true to one's faith when tortured, to tear one's own body with a smile for the joy of making a gift, and a leonine stature are some of the cardinal aspects of that noble breed of aristocracy. Today, even under the blanket of poverty and humiliation that Spirit is evolving to greater magnificence. When Invoking the Spirit in life succeeds in the maximum, it will let that Indian walk over the globe as a colossus, a colossus of Spirit. It is not the Indian Spirit, but the Spirit of the earth.

story | by Dr. Radut