Role of Art and Beauty in Vital Education

On August 31, 2021, Dr. Beloo Mehra from AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society was invited by Auro University and Sri Aurobindo Integral Life Center, Surat, to speak on the topic – “Role of Art and Beauty in Vital Education.” This webinar was organised as part of the University’s Lecture and Workshop Series, Part II of the 2022 Sesquicentennial celebrations of Sri Aurobindo.

This was the first webinar of the series titled ‘Art That Transforms’ which aims to explore the possibility of consciously aligning ourselves with the deep truth behind the ancient wisdom of ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ as a way to connect our creative potential with the infinite creative consciousness behind all manifestation.

Dr. Mehra opened her presentation with a brief introduction to the significance of vital education in the five-fold Integral Education as given by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. She also pointed out the Mother’s emphasis on the role of development of aesthetic sensibility and arts appreciation as a means to purify one’s vital movements.

Dr. Mehra spent some time discussing the emphasis given in Indian cultural tradition on developing a deeper appreciation for Beauty and Arts. Examples were given from Natyashastra to bring out the point that Indian aesthetic tradition has given much thought to the role of art as a transformative process – both for the artist as well as the rasik, the connoisseur.

Sri Aurobindo’s discussion of the threefold function of Art – aesthetic, educative and spiritual – was also highlighted during the session. The role of aesthetic value of art in cittashuddhi, purification of the heart’s movements, was discussed with the help of a few examples. A mention was also made of how the Mother emphasised spending time with flowers as a means to develop a deeper appreciation of beauty and also purify one’s vital movements.

Watch the recording of the lecture:

About the speaker:

Dr. Beloo Mehra is currently Senior Academic Mentor at AuroBharati, Sri Aurobindo Society. An educator, researcher and writer, she edits AuroBharati’s monthly e-journal, Renaissance. Her long academic career in the USA and India includes teaching, research, scholarly writing and guiding research scholars. At Pondicherry, she has worked for several years at Sri Aurobindo Center for Advanced Research, Sri Aurobindo’s Action and Sri Aurobindo Society, in areas of curriculum development, educator, researcher, writer and editor.

A recipient of several research grants and teaching excellence awards, Dr. Mehra has written numerous articles on education, society and culture in scholarly and popular publications. Her writings appear regularly in journals focused on Sri Aurobindo Studies. Her academic background includes a doctorate in Education from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, and M.A. and B.A. degrees in Economics from Delhi University.

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Renaissance with its focus on Indian Culture and Integral Yoga features inspiring content in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s vision for India and her role in the future of humanity. It aims to highlight that the eternal spirit and creative genius of India must express itself in new forms in various domains – spiritual, artistic, literary, philosophic, scientific, aesthetic.

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