March 14, 2012
Evolutionary Enlightenment in India: Days 10-12
The last two legs of Andrew’s trip to India were a short stop in Delhi and a longer stint in Calcutta. With a series of interviews and talks sponsored by the Times Foundation and some close friends, Andrew continued to speak about the main themes of the trip: the emerging modern Indian spiritual predicament and the growing need for a new, more culturally relevant kind of spirituality to meet the rapid pace of change in 21st century India.
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In just one day in Delhi, Andrew visited the World Book Fair (the second largest such event in the world) to sign copies of the Indian edition of his new book, currently #1 in the Religion & Spirituality category on Flipkart, India’s Amazon.com. Then after an interview with one of the major TV channels in India, he gave a talk and a long Q&A session to 100 people at a spiritual center in Noida, a wealthy township close to Delhi, run by a young spiritual teacher named Prabhat Agarwal, who had attended Andrew’s annual summer retreat in Colorado in 2010. He focused on the rapidly changing life conditions of modern Indians, where the increasing wealth and opportunity available to so many younger people are starting to shake the foundations of tradition and creating the need for new forms of meaning and purpose.
The next morning, Andrew flew east to Calcutta for the final leg of his India trip. First was a teaching at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. This was a classic setting presided over by a gracious scientist, scholar, and monk named Swami Atmapriyananda, who is the Vice Chancellor of Ramakrishna Mission University. Andrew delved deep into the distinction between traditional Enlightenment teachings, which emphasize transcending the world of time and form, and the new Evolutionary Enlightenment, which embraces a deep and heroic responsibility for the evolution of the world. Andrew received enthusiastic scriptural support from the Swamiji, who effortlessly quoted various Upanishads in order to explain Andrew’s distinctions and Dharma points to the audience.
On the final day of the trip Andrew gave two more teachings. The first was at the Bengal Institute of Management Studies, organized by the Economic Times as part of its campus leadership lecture series. Andrew spoke to an audience of young MBA students where he encouraged them to be bold, to transcend the status quo by thinking for themselves and not merely conforming to the powerful societal expectations of modern India.
The second and the final event of the day (and the trip) was to Sourabh Sarkar’s Karma Yog Ashram in a suburb of Calcutta. Sourabh is an integrally informed and inspired spiritual practitioner and entrepreneur who is using technology-enabled education as a vehicle to bring about social transformation. There Andrew engaged in a teaching and dialogue with friends, guests, and members of this ashram/educational institute late into the night.