India recognized authority of spiritual experience and knowledge, but she recognized still more the need of variety of spiritual experience and knowledge….Indian civilization did not develop to a last logical conclusion its earlier political and social liberties, -- that greatness of freedom and boldness of experiment belongs to the West; but liberty of religious practice and a complete freedom of thought in religion as in every other matter have always counted among its constant traditions. The atheist and the agnostic were free from persecution in India. Buddhism and Jainism might be disparaged as unorthodox religions, but they were allowed to live freely side by side with the orthodox creeds and philosophies; in her eager thirst of truth she gave them their full chance , tested all their values, and as much of their truth as was assimilable ….That ageless continuity was carefully conserved, but it admitted light from all quarters. In latter times the saints who reached some fusion of the Hindu and the Islamic teaching were freely and immediately recognized as leaders of Hindu religion, -- even, in some cases, when they started with a Mussulman birth and from the Mussulman standpoint. The Yogin who developed a new path of Yoga, the religious teacher who founded a new order, the thinker who built up a noble statement of the many-sided truth of spiritual existence, found no serious obstacle to their practice or their propaganda. At most they had to meet the opposition of the priest and pundit instinctively adverse to any change...
Sri Aurobindo: Excerpted from ‘A Defence of Indian Culture’, Arya,1918-1921
Date of Update: 12-Aug-17