Justifying Warfare: Saint Augustine and Sri Aurobindo
International, History, Leadership, Theology
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) was one of the most influential Western Christian theologians. Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872–1950) was a political revolutionary and later a spiritual master with a worldwide reputation. Augustine and Aurobindo were very different religiously and politically, but on the issue of justifying warfare, there are remarkable parallels between them. To begin, pragmatic considerations formed the core of most of their arguments. Furthermore, they buttressed their core points with considerations from the religious domain. These included discussing the inward disposition of the warrior, countering ethical reservations about fighting, and mentioning possible, spiritual benefits from warfare. Yet, in spite of the parallels, the two men would have found little to agree on, as their approaches to both governance and religion were very different. Augustine’s approach was statist whereas Aurobindo’s was revolutionary.