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Sri Aurobindo



Karmayogin: A Weekly Review

Saturday 12th February 1910 — No.32

Passing Thoughts

Vedantic Art

The progress a new tendency or a new movement is making can be measured by the amount of opposition it meets, and it is encouraging to note that the revival of Indian Art is exciting1 intellectual opponents to adverse criticism. Mr. Vincent Smith, a solid and well-equipped scholar and historian but not hitherto noted as an art-critic, recently lectured on Indian Art, ancient and modern. It is not surprising that he should find little to praise in the characteristic Vedantic Art of our country and seek to limit its excellence to a few masterpieces. Neither is it surprising that he should object to the revival of the national traditions as restoring Brahminic separateness from the traditions of the rest of the world. These are arguments that are as obvious as they are superficial. But it is strange to find him basing his opinion of the inferiority of the Vedantic style on its appeal not being universal. This merely means that the Vedantic motive and conventions are new to the European mind, and the average eye, enslaved to old associations, cannot immediately welcome what is new and ill-understood. Every new step forward in artistic tradition within Europe itself has been met by the same limited comprehension and has had to get the assent first of the trained and sensitive taste and then of the average mind before it could be said to be universally recognised. The real question is whether the Vedantic style has anything in it that is true, deep and universal, whether it has a motive, a power of interpretation, a success in making Truth reveal itself in form, such as will ensure its conquest of prejudices based purely on inability to receive or welcome new impressions. The answer to that crucial question cannot be doubtful. Vedantic Art reveals spirit, essential truth, the soul in the body, the lasting type or idea in the mutable form with a power and masterly revelation of which European art is incapable. It is therefore sure to conquer Europe as steadily as Indian thought and knowledge are conquering the hard and narrow materialism of the nineteenth century.


Earlier edition of this work: Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Library: Set in  30  volumes.- Volume 2.- Karmayogin: Political Writings and Speeches (1909 1910).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1972.- 441 p.

1 1972 ed. SABCL, vol.2: Art exciting