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Sri Aurobindo – Kheper

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Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was born in Calcutta on 15 August, and educated at a christian convent in Darjeeling. At the age of seven, along with his two brothers, he was sent by his Anglophile father to England in order to receive a "British Education". Returning to his homeland at age 21, he worked for some years in the public service, while learning from scratch the languages and traditions of his own culture. He was prominent in the struggle for independence against the British, and spent a year in prison. Whilst in prison he had a vision of the Divine, which assured him that India would attain its independence and that he could leave the movement to devote himself to the spiritual task. He retreated to the French colony of Pondicherry, where he would be safe against the British, and set up an ashram. There he became an important philosopher, yogi, and teacher and developed he called Integral Yoga, the yoga of the whole being. He was joined by his co-worker and fellow Adept Mirra Alfassa, who later became known as The Mother. For the remainder of his life Sri Aurobindo worked tirelessly for the transformation of the world, the yoga of the earth. A prolific writer, he produced a total of twenty-nine volumes, including such classics of spirituality as Savitri, The Life Divine, and the Synthesis of Yoga. He spent many hours each day writing replies to letters from disciples, some of which were later collated and published.

Sri Aurobindo's teachings are interesting, indeed unique for a major Indian philosopher, in that he presents a very theosophical-anthroposophical cosmology, involving specific planes of existence, subtle psychic faculties, spiritual entities, and long processes of evolution. In a real sense he represents more the theosophical-gnostic stream in Indian guise, rather than a specifically Indian (Advaitan or Tantric) approach; the very real contributions of the latter notwithstanding. So if Western spiritual philosophy aquires an Indian-Tibetan flavour with Blavatskian Theosophy, India conversely aquires a Western (esoteric and exoteric) flavour with Aurobindo.

Of course, Theosophy itself had a strong influence on Indian politics. Madam Blavatsky's successor Annie Besant was outspoken in her struggle on behalf of Indian independence (swaraj or "self-rule") from the British; and Gandhi was chosen, educated, and primed by Theosophical people in London. And the Vegetarian Society he founded there was strongly Theosophcal.

Sri Aurobindo was not just a Realizer, he was a Divinizer. And, like all Realizers and Divinizers, his life - as he put it - was not on the surface for men to see. That is, his real work was conducted on an occult and esoteric level, of which secular modernity, and even progressive forms of modernity like postmaterialism, know nothing.

This is why academic biographies, such as Peter Heehs' study, which has caused such consternation among religious followers, can only convey the surface, empirical, historical, facts, but not the metaphysical subtle, causal, and transcendent Divine Reality of his life and life and mission.

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Sri Aurobindo - Kheper

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Sri Aurobindo – Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

Posted: November 2, 2015 at 4:44 pm


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Sri Aurobindo (Calcuta 1872 Pondicherry 1950), nombre de nacimiento Aurobindo Ghose, fue un maestro de yoga y poeta indio que defendi la independencia de la India y del que algunos afirman que fue un descubridor de nuevos caminos de acercamiento a la divinidad y conocimientos sobre La Tierra y el universo.

Sri Aurobindo naci en Calcuta el 15 de agosto de 1872. A la edad de 7 aos fue enviado a Inglaterra, donde pas los siguientes aos de su vida. En 1889 ingres en Cambridge, con una bolsa de estudios concedida por la St. Paul's School de Londres. Despus de haber adquirido los ttulos necesarios para entrar en el servicio civil de la India, en el que no entr por haber rehusado presentarse al examen de equitacin, regres a su pas y entr, en 1893, en el servicio administrativo del principado de Baroda (actual distrito del estado indio de Gujarat). Aparte de su trabajo administrativo, fue nombrado profesor de francs del colegio de Baroda, y, posteriormente, de ingls.

En este periodo aprendi el snscrito y otras lenguas indias. Segua al mismo tiempo con inters los acontecimientos polticos de la India.

Volvi de Inglaterra convertido en un duro crtico de los britnicos a quienes acusaba, por ejemplo, de haber conquistado Irlanda utilizando los viejos mtodos de la traicin cnica y la masacre implacable y de gobernarla con el principio de la fuerza es la ley y de los bengales partidarios de la occidentalizacin de la India. Seal que stos se engaaban a s mismos porque los propios britnicos consideraban a la democracia y al liberalismo como poco apropiados para una nacin sometida, donde es imprescindible mantener la supremaca desptica del hombre blanco aun a costa de todos los principios y de toda moral, y que adems ponan en peligro el alma de la India por culpa de una ciega rendicin a las aberraciones del materialismo europeo. As consideraba que todos los movimientos del siglo XIX en la India haban sido en realidad movimientos europeos que[1]

adoptaban la maquinaria y los mviles de Europa, el llamamiento a los derechos de la humanidad o a la igualdad de estatus social, y una imposible uniformidad que la Naturaleza siempre se ha negado a conceder. Entremezclada con esos falsos evangelios haba una veta de odio y amargura, que se manifestaba en la condena del sacerdocio de los brahmanes, en la hostilidad hacia el hinduismo y en el ignorante distanciamiento de las consagradas tradiciones.

Tambin denunci los pretextos con los que los britnicos justificaban su dominio sobre la India y el imperialismo en general:[1]

El imperialismo tena que justificarse a s mismo frente a esa moderna forma de sentir [que la esclavizacin de una nacin por otra, de una clase por otra, de un hombre por otro resultaba repugnante para la moral], y la nica forma de lograrlo era fingir que se actuaba en calidad de fideicomisario de la libertad, encargado desde las ms altas esferas de civilizar a los incivilizados e instruir a los incultos, hasta que llegara el momento en que el benevolente conquistador hubiera cumplido su tarea y pudiera retirarse de forma altruista. Estos fueron los pretextos con los que Inglaterra justific la usurpacin del legado de los mongoles y nos deslumbr para que diramos nuestra aquiescencia como tributo al esplendor de su rectitud y generosidad.

Con motivo de la divisin de Bengala, en 1905, abandon Baroda y empez a participar abiertamente en poltica, en concreto en el movimiento nacionalista de Bengala, durante el trgico periodo de 1906 a 1910. Trat de influir en la transformacin del pensamiento y opinin de la India, especialmente a travs del peridico Bande Mataram, vehculo de sus teoras. Detenido en 1908, fue encarcelado durante un ao en la prisin de Alipore (Calcuta).

En 1909 afirm sardnicamente que los principales triunfos de la Ilustracin europea ante la que agachamos la cabeza haban sido la chaqueta y los pantalones, el aristcrata britnico, el capitalista estadounidense y el apache parisino.[1]

Tras la tragedia de la Primera Guerra Mundial afirm que la jactanciosa, agresiva y dominante Europa estaba condenada a muerte, a la espera de su aniquilacin y que la civilizacin cientfica, racionalista, industrial y pseudodemocrtica de Occidente estaba en vas de disolucin.[1]

Su estancia en prisin signific un cambio decisivo en su vida. Al salir de la crcel fund dos semanarios, uno en ingls, Karmayogin, y otro en bengal, Dharma. Continu durante algn tiempo sus actividades polticas, pero una noche recibi el aviso de que la polica proyectaba realizar un registro en su despacho de Karmayogin y, para no ser detenido o deportado, fue a esconderse a Chandemagore, a pocos kilmetros de Calcuta. Aqu recibi "una orden de lo Alto" de ir a Pondicherry a donde lleg el 4 de abril de 1910.

Despus de cuatro aos de yoga en el silencio fund, el 15 de agosto de 1914, una revista filosfica mensual, Arya, en la que expresaba, en lenguaje intelectual, su visin del hombre y de la Historia, del destino divino del hombre y del camino a seguir para alcanzarlo, de la marcha de la sociedad humana hacia la unidad y la armona, de la naturaleza y de la evolucin de la poesa, del sentido profundo de los Vedas, de los Upanishad y de la Bhagavad-gt y del espritu y de la significacin de la cultura india.

Durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial se pronunci abiertamente en apoyo de la causa aliada, al percibir con claridad el peligro que las fuerzas del nazismo representaban para la evolucin futura de la humanidad.

Tras la independencia declin el ofrecimiento de presidir el Congreso Nacional Indio.

Sri Aurobindo muri el 5 de diciembre de 1950.

Su ntima colaboradora, Mirra Alfassa, ms conocida como La Madre, nacida en Pars de padre turco y madre egipcia, lleg a Pondicherry el 29 de marzo de 1914, asentndose all definitivamente en 1920.

Sri Aurobindo la consideraba su igual, y a causa de su capacidad para la organizacin, se hizo cargo de la vida diaria del shram a partir del 24 de noviembre de 1926, cuando Sri Aurobindo se recluy retirndose de la vida pblica. Desde esta fecha queda a cargo de La Madre la supervisin de los asuntos del shram, incluidos sus Institutos y Auroville, la ciudad internacional cercana a Pondicherry, fundada en 1968.

Tras la desaparicin de Sri Aurobindo, La Madre continu el trabajo yguico emprendido por ste. Las enseanzas de La Madre fueron impartidas principalmente en forma oral, habiendo sido recopiladas en diversos volmenes bajo los ttulos de Conversaciones y de La Agenda. De su obra escrita cabe destacar Plegarias y meditaciones.

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Sri Aurobindo - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

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Poet Seers Sri Aurobindo

Posted: October 10, 2015 at 6:46 pm


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Sri Aurobindo falls into the exclusive category of Poet-Seers who have achieved the highest realisations and have endeavoured to share that experience with the rest of humankind. The teachings and very utterances that spiritual masters of this calibre offer to the world come from the most sublime realms of consciousness that human beings can attain to. Their poetry transcends the page to become mantra, an invocation to the transcendental consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo, Indian nationalist, poet, philosopher and Spiritual Guru was born in Calcutta on 15th August 1872.

Sri Aurobindo spent his formative years in England studying at St Pauls and Trinity College where he excelled in the study of Literature and the Classics. In 1892 he returned to India where he became heavily involved in the Indian independence movement, he was a natural leader and one of the most radical nationalist politicians. Because of his radicalism, in 1908 Sri Aurobindo was arrested on suspicion of being involved in a bomb plot and was remanded in Alipore jail. It was here in jail that Sri Aurobindo had significant spiritual experiences, he became aware of a divine inner guidance and also realised the omnipresence of God even in a darkened prison cell.

Due to the commitment of Sri Aurobindos lawyer C.R.Das, Sri Aurobindo was released without charge. However this experience had changed Sri Aurobindos outlook. Henceforth he retired from politics and focused his energies on spirituality.

Sri Aurobindo travelled to Pondicherry, South India where he could practise yoga undisturbed. In 1914 he was later joined by a French women, Mira Richards who would later became known as the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Together they founded the Sri Aurobindo ashram, which began to attract disciples attracted to their dynamic reinterpretation of yoga.

As well as being a spiritual Guru to many disciples Sri Aurobindo was a noted poet, philosopher and writer. His main works were The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita and Savitri. Savitri was an epic work of poetry that he worked on for over 20 years.

Sri Aurobindo did notnegate the world like Indian yogis of the past. Instead Sri Aurobindo affirmed that all life is Yoga; through a conscious aspiration it is possible for man to evolve into a higher consciousness a consciousness of truth and inner harmony. Sri Aurobindo called this new consciousness the Supramental.

For over 40 years, Sri Aurobindo worked tirelessly for his vision of a divine life on earth. Through his writings and poetry he left a legacy which reflected his hopes of a golden future for humanity. Sri Aurobindo entered mahasamadhi on Dec 5th, 1950.

Selected Poems of Sri Aurobindo

Savitri

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Poet Seers Sri Aurobindo

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Lakshmi’s House – Sri Aurobindo Institute

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The Motherexplains the process

Everybody can do it. It is done in this way: you concentrate. Now, it depends on what you want. If you have an inner problem and want the solution, you concentrate on this problem; if you want to know the condition you are in, which you are not aware of - if you want to get some light on the state you are in, you just come forward with simplicity and ask for the light. Or else, quite simply, if you are curious to know what the invisible knowledge has to tell you, you remain silent and still for a moment and then open the book. I always used to recommend taking a paper-knife, because it is thinner; while you are concentrated you insert it in the book and with the tip indicate something. Then, if you know how to concentrate, that is to say, if you really do it with an aspiration to have an answer, it always comes.

For, in books of this kind (Mother shows The Synthesis of Yoga), books of revelation, there is always an accumulation of forces - at least of higher mental forces, and most often of spiritual forces of the highest knowledge. Every book, on account of the words it contains, is like a small accumulator of these forces. People don't know this, for they don't know how to make use of it, but it is so. In the same way, in every picture, photograph, there is an accumulation, a small accumulation representative of the force of the person whose picture it is, of his nature and, if he has powers, of his powers. Now, you, when you are sincere and have an aspiration, you emanate a certain vibration, the vibration of your aspiration which goes and meets the corresponding force in the book, and it is a higher consciousness which gives you the answer.

Everything is contained potentially. Each element of a whole potentially contains what is in the whole. It is a little difficult to explain, but you will understand with an example: when people want to practise magic, if they have a bit of nail or hair, it is enough for them, because within this, potentially, there is all that is in the being itself. And in a book there is potentially - not expressed, not manifest - the knowledge which is in the person who wrote the book. Thus, Sri Aurobindo represented a totality of comprehension and knowledge and power; and every one of his books is at once a symbol and a representation. Every one of his books contains symbolically, potentially, what is in him. Therefore, if you concentrate on the book, you can, through the book, go back to the source. And even, by passing through the book, you will be able to receive much more than what is just in the book.

There is always a way of reading and understanding what one reads, which gives an answer to what you want. It is not just a chance or an amusement, nor is it a kind of diversion. You may do it just "like that", and then nothing at all happens to you, you have no reply and it is not interesting. But if you do it seriously, if seriously your aspiration tries to concentrate on this instrument - it is like a battery, isn't it, which contains energies - if it tries to come into contact with the energy which is there and insists on having the answer to what it wants to know, well, naturally, the energy which is there - the union of the two forces, the force given out by you and that accumulated in the book - will guide your hand and your paper-knife or whatever you have; it will guide you exactly to the thing that expresses what you ought to know. Obviously, if one does it without sincerity or conviction, nothing at all happens. If it is done sincerely, one gets an answer.

Certain books are like this, more powerfully charged than others; there are others where the result is less clear. But generally, books containing aphorisms and short sentences - not very long philosophical explanations, but rather things in a condensed and precise form - it is with these that one succeeds best.

Naturally, the value of the answer depends on the value of the spiritual force contained in the book. If you take a novel, it will tell you nothing at all but stupidities. But if you take a book containing a condensation of forces - of knowledge or spiritual force or teaching power - you will receive your answer.

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Sri Aurobindo – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sri Aurobindo Born Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-08-15)15 August 1872 Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India (now Kolkata, West Bengal, India) Died 5 December 1950(1950-12-05) (aged78) Pondicherry, French India (now in Puducherry) Nationality Indian Founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Auroville Philosophy Integral Yoga, Involution (Sri Aurobindo), Evolution, Integral psychology, Intermediate zone, Supermind Literary works Life Divine, Synthesis of Yoga, Savitri, Agenda Notable disciple(s) Champaklal, N.K. Gupta, Amal Kiran, Nirodbaran, Pavitra, M.P. Pandit, A.B. Purani, D.K. Roy, Satprem, Indra Sen Quotation The Spirit shall look out through Matter's gaze. And Matter shall reveal the Spirit's face.[1] Signature

Sri Aurobindo (Sri robindo), (15 August 1872 5 December 1950), born Aurobindo Ghose, was an Indian nationalist, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for independence from British rule, for a while became one of its influential leaders and then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution.

Aurobindo studied for the Indian Civil Service at King's College, Cambridge, England. After returning to India he took up various civil service works under the maharaja of the princely state of Baroda and began to involve himself in politics. He was imprisoned by the British for writing articles against British rule in India. He was released when no evidence was provided. During his stay in the jail he had mystical and spiritual experiences, after which he moved to Pondicherry, leaving politics for spiritual work.

During his stay in Pondicherry, Aurobindo developed a method of spiritual practice he called Integral Yoga. The central theme of his vision was the evolution of human life into a life divine. He believed in a spiritual realisation that not only liberated man but transformed his nature, enabling a divine life on earth. In 1926, with the help of his spiritual collaborator, Mirra Alfassa ("The Mother"), he founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. He died on 5 December 1950 in Pondicherry.

His main literary works are The Life Divine, which deals with theoretical aspects of Integral Yoga; Synthesis of Yoga, which deals with practical guidance to Integral Yoga; and Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, an epic poem which refers to a passage in the Mahabharata, where its characters actualise Integral Yoga in their lives. His works also include philosophy, poetry, translations and commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1943 and for the Nobel Prize in Peace in 1950.[3]

Aurobindo Acroyd Ghose was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bengal Presidency, India on 15 August 1872. His father, Krishna Dhun Ghose, was then Assistant Surgeon of Rangapur in Bengal, and a former member of the Brahmo Samaj religious reform movement who had become enamoured with the then-new idea of evolution while pursuing medical studies in Britain.[a] His mother was Swarnalotta Devi, whose father was Rajnarain Bose, a leading figure in the Samaj. She had been sent to the more salubrious surroundings of Calcutta for Aurobindo's birth. Aurobindo had two elder siblings, Benoybhusan and Manmohan, and both a younger sister, Sarojini, and a younger brother, Barindrakumar (also referred to as Barin, born Emmanuel Matthew).

Young Aurobindo was brought up speaking English but used Hindustani to communicate with servants. Although his family were Bengali, his father believed British culture to be superior to that of his countrymen. He and his two elder siblings were sent to the English-speaking Loreto House boarding school in Darjeeling, in part to improve their language skills and in part to distance them from their mother, who had developed a mental illness soon after the birth of her first child. Darjeeling was a centre of British life in India and the school was run by Irish nuns, through which the boys would have been exposed to Christian religious teachings and symbolism.

Krishna Dhun Ghose wanted his sons to enter the Indian Civil Service (ICS), an elite organisation comprising around 1000 people. To achieve this it was necessary that they study in England and so it was there that the entire family moved in 1879.[b] The three brothers were placed in the care of the Reverend W. H. Drewett in Manchester. Drewett was a minister of the Congregational Church whom Krishna Dhun Ghose knew through his British friends at Rangapur.[c]

The boys were taught Latin by Drewett and his wife. This was a prerequisite for admission to good English schools and, after two years, in 1881, the elder two siblings were enrolled at Manchester Grammar School. Aurobindo was considered too young for enrolment and he continued his studies with the Drewetts, learning history, Latin, French, geography and arithmetic. Although the Drewetts were told not to teach religion, the boys inevitably were exposed to Christian teachings and events, which generally bored Aurobindo and sometimes repulsed him. There was little contact with his father, who wrote only a few letters to his sons while they were in England, but what communication there was indicated that he was becoming less endeared to the British in India than he had been, on one occasion describing the British Raj as a "heartless government".

Drewett emigrated to Australia in 1884, causing the boys to be uprooted as they went to live with Drewett's mother in London. In September of that year, Aurobindo and Manmohan joined St Paul's School there.[d] He learned Greek and spent the last three years reading literature and English poetry. He also acquired some familiarity with the German and Italian languages and, exposed to the evangelical strictures of Drewett's mother, a distaste for religion. He considered himself at one point to be an atheist but later determined that he was agnostic. A blue plaque unveiled in 2007 commemorates Aurobindo's residence at 49 St Stephen's Avenue in Shepherd's Bush, London, from 1884 to 1887. The three brothers began living in spartan circumstances at the Liberal Club in South Kensington during 1887, their father having experienced some financial difficulties. The Club's secretary was James Cotton, brother of their father's friend in the Bengal ICS, Henry Cotton.

By 1889, Manmohan had determined to pursue a literary career and Benoybhusan had proved himself unequal to the standards necessary for ICS entrance. This meant that only Aurobindo might fulfil his father's aspirations but to do so when his father lacked money required that he studied hard for a scholarship. To become an ICS official, students were required to pass the competitive examination, as well as to study at an English university for two years under probation. Aurobindo secured a scholarship at King's College, Cambridge, under recommendation of Oscar Browning. He passed the written ICS examination after a few months, being ranked 11th out of 250 competitors. He spent the next two years at King's College. Sri Aurobindo had no interest in the ICS and came late to the horse-riding practical exam purposefully to get himself disqualified for the service.

At this time, the Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaekwad III, was travelling in England. Cotton secured for him a place in Baroda State Service and arranged for him to meet the prince. He left England for India, arriving there in February 1893. In India, Krishna Dhun Ghose, who was waiting to receive his son, was misinformed by his agents from Bombay (now Mumbai) that the ship on which Aurobindo had been travelling had sunk off the coast of Portugal. His father died upon hearing this news.

In Baroda, Aurobindo joined the state service in 1893, working first in the Survey and Settlements department, later moving to the Department of Revenue and then to the Secretariat, and many miscellaneous work like teaching grammar and assisted in writing speeches for the Maharaja of Gaekwad until 1897. In 1897 during his work in Baroda he started working as a part-time French teacher at Baroda College (now Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda), he was later promoted to the post of Vice-Principal. At Baroda, Sri Aurobindo self-studied Sanskrit and Bengali.

During his stay at Baroda he contributed to many articles to Indu Prakash and spoke as a chairman of the Baroda college board. He also started taking active interest in the politics of India's independence struggle against British rule, working behind the scenes as his position in the Baroda state administration barred him from overt political activity. He linked up with resistance groups in Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, while travelling to these states. He established contact with Lokmanya Tilak and Sister Nivedita. He also arranged for the military training of Jatindra Nath Banerjee (Niralamba Swami) in the Baroda army and then dispatched him to organise the resistance groups in Bengal.

Aurobindo often travelled between Baroda and Bengal, at first in a bid to re-establish links with his parent's families and other Bengali relatives, including his cousin Sarojini and brother Barin, and later increasingly to establish resistance groups across the Presidency. He formally moved to Calcutta only in 1906 after the announcement of the Partition of Bengal. Aged 28, he had married 14-year-old Mrinalini, daughter of Bhupal Chandra Bose, a senior official in government service, when he visited Calcutta in 1901. Mrinalini died in December 1918 during the influenza pandemic.

Aurobindo was influenced by studies on rebellion and revolutions against England in medieval France and the revolts in America and Italy. In his public activities he favoured non-co-operation and passive resistance but in private he took up secret revolutionary activity as a preparation for open revolt, in case that the passive revolt failed.

In Bengal, with Barin's help, he established contacts with revolutionaries, inspiring radicals such as Bagha Jatin, Jatin Banerjee and Surendranath Tagore. He helped establish a series of youth clubs, including the Anushilan Samiti of Calcutta in 1902.

Aurobindo attended the 1906 Congress meeting headed by Dadabhai Naoroji and participated as a councillor in forming the fourfold objectives of "Swaraj, Swadesh, Boycott and national education". In 1907 at the Surat session of Congress where moderates and extremists had a major showdown, he led with extremists along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Congress split after this session.In 19071908 Aurobindo travelled extensively to Pune, Bombay and Baroda to firm-up support for the nationalist cause, giving speeches and meeting various groups. He was arrested again in May 1908 in connection with the Alipore Bomb Case. He was acquitted in the ensuing trial and released after a year of isolated incarceration. Once out of the prison he started two new publications, Karmayogin in English and Dharma in Bengali. He also delivered the Uttarpara Speech hinting at the transformation of his focus to spiritual matters. The British persecution continued because of his writings in his new journals and in April 1910 Aurobindo moved to Pondicherry, where Britain's secret police monitored his activities.

In July 1905 then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, partitioned Bengal. This sparked an outburst of public anger against the British, leading to civil unrest and a nationalist campaign by groups of revolutionaries, who included Aurobindo. In 1908, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki attempted to kill Magistrate Kingsford, a judge known for handing down particularly severe sentences against nationalists. However, the bomb thrown at his horse carriage missed its target and instead landed in another carriage and killed two British women, the wife and daughter of barrister Pringle Kennedy. Aurobindo was also arrested on charges of planning and overseeing the attack and imprisoned in solitary confinement in Alipore Jail. The trial of the Alipore Bomb Case lasted for a year, but eventually he was acquitted on 6.May.1909. His defence counsel was Chittaranjan Das.

During this period in the Jail, his view of life was radically changed due to spiritual experiences and realizations. Consequently, his aim went far beyond the service and liberation of the country.

Aurobindo said he was "visited" by Vivekananda in the Alipore Jail: "It is a fact that I was hearing constantly the voice of Vivekananda speaking to me for a fortnight in the jail in my solitary meditation and felt his presence."

In his autobiographical notes, Aurobindo said he felt a vast sense of calmness when he first came back to India. He could not explain this and continued to have various such experiences from time to time. He knew nothing of yoga at that time and started his practise of it without a teacher, except for some rules that he learned from Ganganath, a friend who was a disciple of Brahmananda. In 1907, Barin introduced Aurobindo to Vishnu Bhaskar Lele, a Maharashtrian yogi. Aurobindo was influenced by the guidance he got from the yogi, who had instructed Aurobindo to depend on an inner guide and any kind of external guru or guidance would not be required.

In 1910 Aurobindo withdrew himself from all political activities and went into hiding at Chandannagar while the British were trying to prosecute him for sedition on the basis of a signed article titled 'To My Countrymen', published in Karmayogin. As Aurobindo disappeared from view, the warrant was held back and the prosecution postponed. Aurobindo manoeuvred the police into open action and a warrant was issued on 4 April 1910, but the warrant could not be executed because on that date he had reached Pondicherry, then a French colony. The warrant against Aurobindo was withdrawn.

In Pondicherry, Aurobindo dedicated himself to his spiritual and philosophical pursuits. In 1914, after four years of secluded yoga, he started a monthly philosophical magazine called Arya. This ceased publication in 1921. Many years later, he revised some of these works before they were published in book form. Some of the book series derived out of this publication were The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on The Gita, The Secret of The Veda, Hymns to the Mystic Fire, The Upanishads, The Renaissance in India, War and Self-determination, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity and The Future Poetry were published in this magazine.

At the beginning of his stay at Pondicherry, there were few followers, but with time their numbers grew, resulting in the formation of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1926.[41] From 1926 he started to sign himself as Sri Aurobindo, Sri (meaning holy in Sanskrit) being commonly used as an honorific.

For some time afterwards, his main literary output was his voluminous correspondence with his disciples. His letters, most of which were written in the 1930s, numbered in the several thousands. Many were brief comments made in the margins of his disciple's notebooks in answer to their questions and reports of their spiritual practiceothers extended to several pages of carefully composed explanations of practical aspects of his teachings. These were later collected and published in book form in three volumes of Letters on Yoga. In the late 1930s, he resumed work on a poem he had started earlierhe continued to expand and revise this poem for the rest of his life. It became perhaps his greatest literary achievement, Savitri, an epic spiritual poem in blank verse of approximately 24,000 lines.

Aurobindo died on 5 December 1950. Around 60,000 people attended his funeral. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and President Rajendra Prasad praised him for his contribution to Yogic philosophy and the independence struggle. National and international newspapers commemorated his death.[41]

Aurobindo's close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Richard (b. Alfassa), came to be known as The Mother.[46] She was a French national, born in Paris on 21 February 1878. In her 20s she studied occultism with Max Theon. Along with her husband, Paul Richard, she went to Pondicherry on 29 March 1914, and finally settled there in 1920. Aurobindo considered her his spiritual equal and collaborator. After 24 November 1926, when Aurobindo retired into seclusion, he left it to her to plan, build and run the ashram, the community of disciples which had gathered around them. Some time later, when families with children joined the ashram, she established and supervised the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education with its experiments in the field of education. When he died in 1950, she continued their spiritual work, directed the ashram and guided their disciples.

Aurobindo's concept of the Integral Yoga system is described in his books, The Synthesis of Yoga and The Life Divine.

Aurobindo believed that the current concept of evolution merely describes a phenomenon and does not explain the reason behind it, while he finds life to be already present in matter. He argued that nature (which he interpreted as divine) has evolved life out of matter and then mind out of life, in other words that evolution had a purpose. He believed that matter has an impulse to become life, and that life has a similar impulse to become mind. He stated that he found the task of understanding the nature of reality arduous and difficult to justify by immediate tangible results.

Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist but is best known for his philosophy on human evolution and Integral Yoga.

His influence has been wide-ranging. In India, S. K. Maitra, Anilbaran Roy and D. P. Chattopadhyaya commented on Aurobindo's work. Writers on esotericism and traditional wisdom, such as Mircea Eliade, Paul Brunton, and Rene Guenon, all saw him as an authentic representative of the Indian spiritual tradition.

Haridas Chaudhuri and Frederic Spiegelberg[54] were among those who were inspired by Aurobindo, who worked on the newly formed American Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. Soon after, Chaudhuri and his wife Bina established the Cultural Integration Fellowship, from which later emerged the California Institute of Integral Studies.[55]

Karlheinz Stockhausen was heavily inspired by Satprem's writings about Aurobindo during a week in May 1968, a time at which the composer was undergoing a personal crisis and had found Aurobindo's philosophies were relevant to his feelings. After this experience, Stockhausen's music took a completely different turn, focusing on mysticism, that was to continue until the end of his career.

William Irwin Thompson traveled to Auroville in 1972, where he met "The Mother". Thompson has called Aurobindo's teaching on spirituality a "radical anarchism" and a "post-religious approach" and regards their work as having "...reached back into the Goddess culture of prehistory, and, in Marshall McLuhans terms, 'culturally retrieved' the archetypes of the shaman and la sage femme..." Thompson also writes that he experienced Shakti, or psychic power coming from The Mother on the night of her death in 1973.[57]

Aurobindo's ideas about the further evolution of human capabilities influenced the thinking of Michael Murphy and indirectly, the human potential movement, through Murphy's writings.

The American philosopher Ken Wilber has called Aurobindo "India's greatest modern philosopher sage"[59] and has integrated some of his ideas into his philosophical vision. Wilber's interpretation of Aurobindo has been criticised by Rod Hemsell.[60]New Age writer Andrew Harvey also looks to Aurobindo as a major inspiration.[61]

The following authors, disciples and organisations trace their intellectual heritage back to, or have in some measure been influenced by, Aurobindo and The Mother.

Notes

Citations

Bibliography

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Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta on 15 August 1872. At the age of seven he was taken to England for education. There he studied at St. Paul's School, London, and at King's College, Cambridge. Returning to India in 1893, he worked for the next thirteen years in the Princely State of Baroda in the service of the Maharaja and as a professor in Baroda College. During this period he also joined a revolutionary society and took a leading role in secret preparations for an uprising against the British Government in India.

In 1906, soon after the Partition of Bengal, Sri Aurobindo quit his post in Baroda and went to Calcutta, where he soon became one of the leaders of the Nationalist movement. He was the first political leader in India to openly put forward, in his newspaper Bande Mataram, the idea of complete independence for the country. Prosecuted twice for sedition and once for conspiracy, he was released each time for lack of evidence.

Sri Aurobindo had begun the practice of Yoga in 1905 in Baroda. In 1908 he had the first of several fundamental spiritual realisations. In 1910 he withdrew from politics and went to Pondicherry in order to devote himself entirely to his inner spiritual life and work. During his forty years in Pondicherry he evolved a new method of spiritual practice, which he called the Integral Yoga. Its aim is a spiritual realisation that not only liberates man's consciousness but also transforms his nature. In 1926, with the help of his spiritual collaborator, the Mother, he founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Among his many writings are The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga and Savitri. Sri Aurobindo left his body on 5 December 1950.

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The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual community (ashram) located in Pondicherry, in the Indian territory of Puducherry. The ashram grew out of a small community of disciples who had gathered around Sri Aurobindo after he retired from politics and settled in Pondicherry in 1910. On 24 November 1926, after a major spiritual realization, Sri Aurobindo withdrew from public view in order to continue his spiritual work. At this time he handed over the full responsibility for the inner and outer lives of the sadhaks (spiritual aspirants) and the ashram to his spiritual collaborator, "the Mother", earlier known as Mirra Alfassa. This date is therefore generally known as the founding-day of the ashram, though, as Sri Aurobindo himself wrote, it had less been created than grown around him as its centre.[1]

Sri Aurobindo Ashram has only one location. It does not have any branches. (Sri Aurobindo Ashram Delhi Branch is a separate organization, with its own administration.) Many other organisations in Pondicherry and elsewhere include Sri Aurobindo in their name, but they are not part of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The most important organisation also inspired by the vision of Sri Aurobindo is Auroville, an international township founded by the Mother and dedicated to human unity.

Life in the community that preceded the ashram was informal. Sri Aurobindo spent most of his time in writing and meditation. The three or four young men who had followed him to Pondicherry in 1910 lived with him and looked after the household. Otherwise they were free to do as they wished. The Mother and French writer Paul Richard met Sri Aurobindo in 1914 and proposed that they bring out a monthly review; but after the outbreak of World War I, they were obliged to leave India, and Sri Aurobindo had to do almost all of the work on the review himself, helped a little by the young men who were living with him. In April 1920 the Mother returned to Pondicherry, and soon the community began to take the form of an ashram, more because the sadhaks desired to entrust their whole inner and outer life to the Mother than from any intention or plan of hers or of Sri Aurobindo.[2] After the ashram was given formal shape in 1926, it experienced a period of rapid growth, increasing from around 24 in the beginning of 1927 to more than 150 in 1934.[3] The membership leveled off in 1934 owing to a lack of suitable housing.

During these years there was a regular routine. At 6:00 every morning the Mother appeared on the ashram balcony to initiate the day with her blessings. Sadhaks would have woken very early and completed a good portion of the days work including meditation and then assembled under the balcony to receive her blessings.[4]

As the ashram grew, many departments came up and were looked after by the sadhaks as part of their sadhana: the offices, library, dining room, book/photograph printing, workshops, sports/playground, art gallery, dispensary/nursing home, farms, dairies, flower gardens, guest houses, laundry, bakery, etc. The heads of the departments met the Mother in the morning and took her blessings and orders. She would meet the sadhaks individually again at 10 am and, in the evening at 5:30 pm, she would conduct meditation and meet the sadhaks.

In addition, four times a year Sri Aurobindo and the Mother used to give public Darshans (spiritual gatherings where the guru bestows blessings) to thousands of devotees gathered to receive grace.

Once confined to a few buildings in one corner of Pondicherry, the Ashrams growth has caused it to expand physically in all directions. Today Ashramites live and work in more than 400 buildings spread throughout the town. The central focus of the community is one group of houses including those in which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother dwelt for most of their lives in Pondicherry. This interconnected block of houses called the Ashram main-building, or more usually just the Ashram surrounds a tree-shaded courtyard, at the centre of which lies the flower-covered Samadhi. This white marble shrine holds, in two separate chambers, the physical remains of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Today, Pondicherry has become an important destination for spiritual seekers as well as tourists. Thousands of visitors from all over the world come to the ashram.

The visiting hours for the visitors are from 8 am to 12 noon and then again from 2 pm to 6 pm.

The Ashram, according to Sri Aurobindo, has been created with another object than that ordinarily common to such institutions, not for the renunciation of the world but as a centre and a field of practice for the evolution of another kind and form of life which would in the final end be moved by a higher spiritual consciousness and embody a greater life of the spirit.[5]

The practice of Integral Yoga, Sri Aurobindo explained, does not proceed through any set mental teaching or prescribed forms of meditation, mantras or others, but by aspiration, by a self-concentration inwards or upwards, by self-opening to an Influence, to the Divine Power above us and its workings, to the Divine Presence in the heart, and by the rejection of all that is foreign to these things.[6]

The complete method of Integral Yoga aims to transform human life into a divine life. In Sri Aurobindo's yoga, the highest aim is the state of being one with the Divine, without the renunciation of life in the world. For such a fulfillment of the consciousness, the urge for perfection must not be confined to a few individuals. There must be "a general spiritual awakening and aspiration in mankind" as well as "a dynamic re-creating of individual manhood in the spiritual type."[8] This would lead eventually to the emergence of a new type of being, the gnostic being, which would be the hope of a more harmonious evolutionary order in terrestrial Nature.[9]

Sri Aurobindo Ashram is the primary publisher of the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. As of January 2015 it keeps some 200 publications in English in print, of which 78 are books by Sri Aurobindo, 44 books by the Mother, 27 compilations from their works, and 47 books by other authors. These books are printed at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, which has been in operation since the 1940s. They are distributed by SABDA, the Ashrams book distribution service, which has been in operation since the 1950s. SABDA also carries books relating to Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and their yoga brought out by other publishers, making the number of English books on their list more than 600. The Ashram also publishes books in 17 other European and Indian languages, for a total of more than 550 publications. SABDA carries these and other non-English titles: in all there are 1678 titles in 23 languages.

The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo are being issued in 37 volumes, of which 34 have been published. The Collected Works of the Mother have been issued in 17 volumes.

The Ashram publishes a number of journals relating to the philosophy and yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. These are currently printed at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, though several were earlier brought out in other cities. Some of Sri Aurobindos works first appeared in these and other journals, among them The Advent, a quarterly, which has recently ceased publication. The most important journals in English are:

The Ashram press also prints several journals published by other organizations. These include:

During the early years of the community Sri Aurobindo and the Mother imposed very few rules on the sadhaks, because they wished them to learn to direct their lives by looking for the divine guidance within. According to author Peter Heehs, during the 1920s Aurobindo's policy was laissez faire with only one rule: strict brahmacharya (celibacy).[10] After 1926, written rules were circulated. The main rules were an absolute prohibition of alcohol, drugs, sex and politics.[11][12] There were also a number of guidelines for the smooth functioning of the collective life of the community. These rules were collected in Rules and Regulations of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, copies of which are given to all members.

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust was established in 1955 to administer the community and its assets. The trust board consists of five Trustees, the first of whom were chosen by the Mother herself. After her passing in 1973, the trustees have chosen replacements by consensus.

The main ashram departments are overseen by department heads who report to the Trustees.

The Ashram, a public charitable trust, is open to all. No distinctions of nationality, religion, caste, gender, or age are observed. Members come from every part of India and many foreign countries. A large number of devotees from Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu visit the Ashram every day, and support the activities of the Ashram in various ways. Many say that they have benefited from the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.[13] However, some feel that there is little mingling of ashramites and local people. According to a senior Ashram official, the practice of silence observed by the ashramites may have been misunderstood as rude behaviour.[14]

In 2001, a female member was expelled from the ashram for violating a "mandatory rule".[15] Thereafter she filed charges of sexual harassment against various members. These charges were dismissed by committees and government agencies, all of which found the charges false.[16][17][18][19] The National Human Rights Commission of India added that there "appeared to be malicious planning behind the complaints".[18][20] Cases relating to the dismissal of the former member and her four sisters were lodged in various courts, and were pursued up to the Supreme court of India, which in 2014 ruled against the sisters and ordered them to be evicted from their rooms in an ashram residence by the police.[21] The sisters then presented the ashram with an ultimatum demanding full reinstatement, failing which they would all commit suicide.[22] The day after their eviction, the sisters and their parents entered the sea in order to commit suicide by drowning. Three died in the attempt. The four others were saved. Violence and protests erupted against the ashram in the wake of this incident. The trustees of the Ashram expressed shock at the suicides and offered to help the sisters in finding accommodation. On 23 December a joint memorandum was presented by delegates of various political parties seeking the intervention of chief minister N. Rangaswamy for a takeover of the Ashram by the Puducherry government.[23] (The territorial government has however no jurisdiction over the Ashram's internal activities, since the public affairs of the Trust, as of all public charitable trusts, are governed by the appropriate sections of the Indian Trusts Act, Government of India.[24]) The pressure for a government takeover is alleged to come from elements within the ashram,[25] who have pushed for the rewriting of the ashram's Trust Deed, which was signed by the Mother.[26]

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Last updated: Dec 23, 2014

Western education

Aravind Ghose, born in Calcutta on 15th August 1872, lived 78 years. He passed from this life in Pondicherry on 5th December,1950.

Wholly educated in England along with his two brothers, he was given an entirely Western education by their Anglophile father. After infant schooling at a convent in Darjeeling, they were taken to England to live with a clergyman's family in Manchester. From there they joined St. Paul's public school in West London, and later went on to Cambridge Unversity. There Sri Aurobindo was a brilliant scholar, winning record marks in the Classical Tripos examination. But he had already been touched by a will for the Independence of India, and did not wish to become an official of the colonial administration - the position his father and his education had marked him out for. He managed to disqualify himself by failing to take the mandatory riding test, and instead returned to India in 1893 in the service of the Indian princely State of Baroda, where he remained up to 1906.

In that year he returned to his birthplace, Calcutta, as the first Principal of the new Bengal National College. He resigned that post because of his increasingly active involvement in the Nationalist Movement. Sri Aurobindo was the first of the Nationalist leaders to insist on full independence for India as the goal of the movement, and for several years he lent all his considerable abilities and energies to this struggle. This led to him being arrested on a charge of treason and being kept in solitary confinement for almost a year as an 'under trial' prisoner in Alipore jail. During this time he had a number of fundamental spiritual experiences which convinced him of the truth of the "Sanatana Dharma" - the ancient spiritual knowledge and practice of India.

After he was acquitted and released, this spiritual awareness led him to take refuge from continuing pursuit by the British authorities in Pondicherry, then part of French India, where he devoted himself intensively to the exploration of the new possibilities it opened up to him. Supported by his spiritual collaborator, The Mother, and using his new-found spiritual capacities, he continued to work tirelessly for the upliftment of India and the world. When India gained its Independence on 15.8.1947, he responded to the request for a message to his countrymen by speaking of five dreams that he had worked for, and which he now saw on the way to fulfilment.

These five Dreams were:

The great originality of Sri Aurobindo is to have fused the modern scientific concept of evolution with the perennial gnostic experience of an all-pervading divine consciousness supporting all phenomenal existence. His synthesis was not a philosophic construct, but a realisation stemming from direct spiritual experience. The unfolding of more and more complex forms and higher levels of consciousness out of an original total material inconscience is seen as the gradual return to self-awareness and the diverse self-expression of involved Spirit. This process is evidently not complete, and the evolution of higher levels of consciousness and less unconscious forms of expression are to be expected. But with the development of Mind, individual human beings can, if they choose, use their will and intelligence to begin to participate consciously in this process of self-discovery and self-exploration. This knowledge founds an optimistic and dynamic world-view, which gives each individual a meaningful place in a progressive cosmic unfolding, and casts our understanding of human endeavour, whether individual or collective, in a new and purposeful perspective. Many facets of this world-view are elaborated in the 35 volumes of Sri Aurobindo's Collected Works.

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Matthijs Cornelissen Indian Psychology Institute Pondicherry

Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta, on 15th August 1872. His father, a thoroughly Anglicised Indian doctor in British Government service, wanted his sons to have a solid, British education, and when Aurobindo was seven, he sent him, together with his two brothers, to England with the specific instruction that the three brothers should be kept free from Indian influence. The young Aurobindo was a brilliant student who was consistently amongst the top of his class in English, and for much of this time, he and his two brothers were supported by his scholarships. He attended what was at the time one of the best public schools in London (St. Pauls) and later studied in Cambridge where he obtained the highest score ever awarded in Greek. When he returned to India in 1893, he had an excellent command of English, Greek, Latin and French, and knew enough German and Italian to enjoy Goethe and Dante in the original, but he knew rather little about India. While still in England, he obtained a job with one of the Indian princes, the Gaekwor of Baroda, and after his return, he worked in Baroda for twelve years, as teacher, as private secretary to the Gaekwor, and finally as Vice-principal of the Baroda College. During this period he immersed himself deeply in Indian culture and learned Sanskrit as well as several modern Indian languages. Though he became fairly fluent in what should have been his mother tongue, Bengali, he remained more at home in English, and it is in this language that he wrote all his major works.

As he became more familiar with the Indian tradition, his admiration for the Indian tradition grew, and it became increasingly clear to him that the Indian civilization could not regain its full stature as long as India was under foreign occupation. Interestingly, at that time, this was not at all a common view: the Indian elite of those days had widely accepted the superiority of the English culture, and Aurobindo would become the first Indian intellectual who dared proclaim publicly that complete independence from Britain should be the primary aim of Indian political life. As his increasing political involvement embarrassed his employer, whose position was entirely dependent on British approval, he left Baroda service in 1906 and moved to Calcutta where he soon became one of the most outspoken leaders of the political movement for Indian independence. His writings brought him in frequent conflict with the British authorities but he carefully chose his language and repeatedly managed to escape conviction.

During a visit to Baroda in 1907, Aurobindo took some private lessons from a Maharashtrian yogi, Bhaskar Lele. Aurobindo had no interest in personal liberation, but he knew from experience that pryma could increase ones mental energy and clarity, and he hoped that yoga could develop other psychological powers, which he intended to use for his political work. Within three days he managed under Leles guidance to completely, and permanently, silence his mind. Soon after, he had the realisation of the silent, impersonal Brahman in which the whole world assumed the appearance of empty forms, materialised shadows without true substance

There was no ego, no real worldonly when one looked through the immobile senses, something perceived or bore upon its sheer silence a world of empty forms, materialised shadows without true substance. There was no One or many even, only just absolutely That, featureless, relationless, sheer, indescribable, unthinkable, absolute, yet supremely real and solely real. This was no mental realisation nor something glimpsed somewhere above,no abstraction,it was positive, the only positive reality,although not a spatial physical world, pervading, occupying or rather flooding and drowning this semblance of a physical world, leaving no room or space for any reality but itself, allowing nothing else to seem at all actual, positive or substantial. I cannot say there was anything exhilarating or rapturous in the experience . . . but what it brought was an inexpressible Peace, a stupendous silence, an infinity of release and freedom. (Aurobindo, 1972b, p. 101)

There are two things noteworthy about this experience. The first is that it was not a fleeting experience but a true realisation in the sense that the peace and inner silence never diminished. The other is that the experience of the silent Brahman and the myvdin sense of the unreality of the world were not at all what Aurobindo had expected or wanted from yoga, and they did not fit either within the mental framework of his instructor, Lele, whose own experiences were with the personal Divine. During the following weeks Lele still taught Aurobindo how to rely both for his outer work and for the rest of his inner development on an inner guidance, but after that, they parted ways. The presence of the silent Brahman never left Aurobindo, though it subsequently merged with other realisations of the Divine. Interestingly, all this happened during one of the busiest periods of his life while he was at the peak of his political influence, and he managed, in his own words, to organise political work, deliver speeches, edit his newspaper and write articles, all from an entirely silent mind.

In the mean time, his younger brother Barin got involved in daring but largely ineffective exploits of violent revolt. After a bomb-blast in May 1908 in which two British ladies died who happened to occupy the coach in which Barin expected some hated official to travel, Aurobindo was arrested by the police under suspicion that he was the brain behind the increasing violence. He was put on trial for waging war against the King, a charge that could have sent him to the gallows if convicted. Lack of evidence of direct, active involvement in violent action lead, however, to his acquittal, much to the discomfort of the British Viceroy, who by that time had come to the conclusion that Aurobindo was the most dangerous man in the British Empire. His incarceration had one major effect, which the British police could not have foreseen, or, for that matter, understood. Aurobindo took his arrest and yearlong incarceration as a God-imposed opportunity to concentrate fully on his inner, spiritual development, or sdhan. While in jail, he showed remarkably little concern about the court-case, but made an in depth study of the Bhagavad Gt and realised the presence of the personal Divine in everything and everybody around him. In his own words:

[I]t was while I was walking that His strength again entered into me. I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was Vasudeva(2) who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell, but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Srikrishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me His shade. I looked at the bars of my cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw Vasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me.

... [and later, in court:]

I looked at the Prosecuting Counsel and it was not the Counsel for the prosecution that I saw; it was Srikrishna who sat there, it was my Lover and Friend who sat there and smiled. (Aurobindo, 1997, p. 6-7)

After his release from jail, he remained for another two years in Calcutta, where he started another journal that focused more on culture and yoga, less on politics.(3) He was by now convinced that the political independence of India was only a matter of time, and that he had to concentrate on another, inner work. In 1910, he decided to relocate to Pondicherry, which was at the time a French enclave in India, where he would be more safe from harassment by the British police. Though he expected initially to stay in Pondicherry only for a few years of intense inner work after which he intended to re-enter the active, political life he had been used to, he was to stay in Pondicherry till the end of his life in 1950.

Shortly after his birthday on August 15, 1912 he described in a letter to an old friend another major turning point in his yoga:

My subjective Sadhana may be said to have received its final seal and something like its consummation by a prolonged realisation and dwelling in Parabrahman(4) for many hours. Since then, egoism is dead for all in me except the Annamaya Atma,the physical self which awaits one farther realisation before it is entirely liberated from occasional visitings or external touches of the old separated existence. (Aurobindo, 1972, 43335)

In spite of his political involvement, Sri Aurobindo had a rather private disposition and rarely spoke or wrote directly about his own experiences, so most of what we know about them is derived somewhat indirectly from his other writings. A notable exception is, however, the detailed record he maintained during some of the early years of his stay in Pondicherry. This Record of Yoga came to light more than 25 years after his death, and its 1500 pages shed a fascinating light on his inner development and on the way his personal experiences related to his public writings of the same period. Though the Record is written in the manner of laboratory notes -- in telegram style and with extensive use of technical terms and abbreviations which are often difficult to follow -- they leave one with the definite impression that he hardly ever, if at all, made any general statement about the possibilities of yoga which he had not first extensively verified in his own experience.

In 1914, a French couple, Paul Richard and his wife, Mirra Alfassa, visited Pondicherry and soon became acquainted with Aurobindo. Paul Richard invited Aurobindo to join him in bringing out a new journal. The intention of the journal was, in Aurobindos words, to feel out for the thought of the future, to help in shaping its foundations and to link it to the best and most vital thought of the past (1915/1998, p.103). By the time its first issue came out, the first World War had started and soon after, the Richards had to return to France. This left the task of filling the 64 pages of the monthly journal to Aurobindo, and he faithfully fulfilled this task for the next 6 years, by serialising, in parallel, several books. By the time he closed down the journal, he had completed almost all his major works, The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Secret of the Veda, Hymns to the Mystic Fire, Essays on the Gita, Foundations of Indian Culture, translations and commentaries on several major Upaniads, a trilogy on social psychology and politics, etc. Only a few of these texts, Essays on the Gita, The Life Divine and the first part of The Synthesis of Yoga, he revised and brought out in book form during his lifetime. Others were published as books only posthumously.

Paul Richard and Mirra Alfassa returned to Pondicherry in 1920. Paul Richard found it difficult to accept the by now obvious spiritual and intellectual superiority of Aurobindo and left soon after, but Mirra Alfassa stayed, and gradually took up an increasingly important role in the small community that began to form around Aurobindo. Initially she was simply the most gifted of Aurobindos disciples, but over time, Sri Aurobindo, as he now came to be known, began to address her as the Mother, in honour of her complete identification with the akti, the Power which mediates between the Divine and the manifestation. In letters to his disciples, he often stressed that their consciousness and realisation were essentially one, and that they differed only in their most outer roles and forms of manifestation.

In 1926 Sri Aurobindo had another major breakthrough in his own sdhan, which he later described as the embodiment of Krishnas Overmental consciousness. One should take this event in the context of what future generations may well consider Sri Aurobindos greatest contribution to our human understanding of the world and our role in it: the distinction he made between what he called the Overmental and the Supramental planes of consciousness.

After 1926 Sri Aurobindo retired entirely to a small, first floor apartment in order to concentrate fully on his inner work. From this time onwards, he left the daily care for the small community that had begun to develop around him, to the Mother, and this became the formal beginning of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. We know relatively little about what Sri Aurobindo did during the 24 years after his retirement to his rooms. He spoke hardly to anybody, except for a short period just before the Second World War when he needed physical assistance after breaking his leg, and he saw his disciples only 3-4 times a year in a silent darshan. What we know of his inner life during this period is largely from his letters, from his poetry, and from the changes he introduced in some of his earlier writings. During the 1930s Sri Aurobindo answered a staggering number of letters to his disciples, of which over 5000 have been published. Most of them deal with sdhan, quite a few with literature, and a smaller number with other issues. Roughly during the same time he also took up the revision of a few of his major works like his Essays on the Gita, the first two parts of The Synthesis of Yoga, and The Life Divine. His poetic writings include besides sonnets, other short poems and metrical experiments, also his most important written work, the epic poem Savitri. With its over 24000 lines and 724 pages Savitri is in a class of its own. Its richness of imagery, beauty of expression, and sheer number of memorable lines could remind one of Shakespeare, but in terms of depth and width of spiritual experience it simply has no equal in the English language. It would not be surprising if posterity would count Savitri amongst the most valuable texts ever composed.

It may be noted that in spite of his official retirement from politics, Sri Aurobindo was one of the very few major public figures in India who recognised how serious the consequences of a victory of Nazi Germany and Japan would have been for the future development of human civilization, and during the Second World War he gave his full support to the Allied war-effort.

After the war, in a radio message, which he gave on the occasion of Indias Independence (15-8-1947), which coincided with his 75th birthday, Sri Aurobindo described the main areas of his lifes work as five world-movements which he wished for as a young man, and which he worked for during the different phases of his life. They all looked, in his own words, like impractical dreams when he was young, but he saw all of them fully or partially fulfilled during his lifetime:

All these world-movements have begun, though none of them has been perfectly accomplished in the direction Sri Aurobindo envisaged. In the long run, it seems likely that Sri Aurobindo will be remembered mainly for his role in the fifth movement, on which he worked incessantly during the last 40 years of his life. Just before his death in 1950, he still wrote a few essays for a newly started Ashram Journal on the transitional period between our present state and the supramental stage he envisaged for the future. He also completed the revision of the first part of The Synthesis of Yoga and the whole of Savitri. The Mother continued his work till her own passing in 1973 at the age of 95. The Ashram and the international township, Auroville, which she started in 1968 (at the age of 90), still exist and continue to develop as creative spiritual communities.

All Sri Aurobindos writings are available from http://www.sabda.in

His Collected works are also available for download as PDF files, at: http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/ashram/sriauro/writings.php

To get the basic flavour of Sri Aurobindos writing, one could have a look at a few representative short texts, collected at http://www.saccs.org.in/texts/integralyoga-sa.php

For original (auto)biographical material, one can consult volume 35 and 36 of The Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo: Letters on Himself and the Ashram (still to be published) and Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical Interest (2009). Both published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry, INDIA.

Three entirely different biographies are:

A.B. Purani. (1978). The Life of Sri Aurobindo. Puducherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

Satprem (1970). Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness. (Translated from the French. Original title: Sri Aurobindo ou l'Aventure de la conscience.) The English edition, successively brought out by several publishers, is presently out of print.

Peter Heehs (2008) The lives of Sri Aurobindo. New York: Columbia University Press.

(1) For many details in this biographical note, I have made use of Peter Heehs (2008).

(2) Vasudeva and Narayana are different names for Krishna.

(3) His previous Journal, the Bande Mataram, had been closed down by the British Government.

(4) The parabrahman is, in Aurobindos words, the supreme Reality with the static and dynamic Brahman as its two aspects.

Read the original here:
A short biography of Sri Aurobindo

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September 16th, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Posted in Sri Aurobindo


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