The Role of Sports and Physical Culture in Education and Personal and National Development, Part 2

The value of sports and games for individual development of both their physical capabilities and their vital, emotional and mental skills is the first aspect that we focus on; yet, the principles of cooperation and good will in the process are valuable in bringing about cohesion, mutuality and harmony in the society as well.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “These qualities have their value for life in general and not only for sport, but the help that sport can give to their development is direct and invaluable. If they could be made more common not only in the life of the individual but in the national life and in the international where at the present day the opposite tendencies have become too rampant, existence in this troubled world of ours would be smoother and might open to a greater chance of concord and amity of which it stands very much in need.”

Leadership skills, and the ability to have people work together, are another important aspect of team sports. “Innumerable are the activities in life, especially in national life, in which leadership and obedience to leadership in combined action are necessary for success, victory in combat or fulfillment of a purpose. The role of the leader, the captain, the power and skill of his leadership, his ability to command the confidence and ready obedience of his followers is of the utmost importance in all kinds of combined action or enterprise; but few can develop these things without having learned themselves to obey and to act as one mind or as one body with others. This strictness of training, this habit of discipline and obedience is not inconsistent with individual freedom; it is often the necessary condition for its right use, just as order is not inconsistent with liberty but rather the condition for the right use of liberty and even for its preservation and survival. … In spiritual things also the same rule holds; a sadhak who disregarded the guidance of the Guru and preferred the untrained inspirations of the novice could hardly escape the stumbles or even the disasters which so often lie thick around the path to spiritual realisation.”

“…even the highest and completest education of the mind is not enough without the education of the body.”

Sri Aurobindo concludes that the value of the qualities developed through sports are essential for the national life: “The nation which possesses them in the highest degree is likely to be the strongest for victory, success and greatness, but also for the contribution it can make towards the bringing about of unity and a more harmonious world order towards which we look as our hope for humanity’s future.”

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram itself acts as an example of the balance needed to develop an integral approach to human existence, with physical education and sports an essential part of the programme for all age groups from young children through adulthood.

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Message, pp.. 25-28

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