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Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo (Aurobindo Ghosh) in 1916.
Date of Birth August 15, 1872(1872-08-15)
Place of birth Kolkata (Calcutta), India
Birth Aurobindo Akroyd Ghosh
Date of death December 5, 1950 (aged 78)
Place of death Puducherry (Pondicherry), French India
Quote The spirit shall look out through Matter's gaze. And matter shall reveal the spirit's face.

Sri Aurobindo (Aurobindo Ghose) (Bengali: শ্রী অরবিন্দ (অরবিন্দ ঘোষ) Sri Ôrobindo) (August 15, 1872 – December 5, 1950) was an Indian nationalist and freedom fighter, major Indian English poet, philosopher, and yogi.[1][2] He joined the movement for India's freedom from British rule and for a duration (1905–10), became one of its most important leaders,[3] before turning to developing his own vision and philosophy of human progress and spiritual evolution.

The central theme of Sri Aurobindo's vision[4] is the evolution of life into a "life divine". In his own words: "Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of Nature's process".

The principal writings of Sri Aurobindo include, in prose, The Life Divine, considered his single great work of metaphysics,The Synthesis of Yoga, Secrets of the Vedas, Essays on the Gita, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, Renaissance in India and other essays, Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, The Future Poetry, Thoughts and Aphorisms and several volumes of letters. In poetry, his principal work is "Savitri - a Legend and a Symbol" in blank verse.[5]

Contents

Biography

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Early life

Sri Aurobindo was born Aravinda Akroyd Ghose in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, on 15 August, 1872 to Dr. Krishna Dhan Ghose, District Surgeon of Rangapur, Bengal and Swarnalata Devi, the daughter of Brahmo religious and social reformer, Rajnarayan Basu.[6] Dr. Ghose chose the middle name Akroyd to honour his friend Annette Akroyd.[7]

Aurobindo spent his first five years at Rangapur, where his father had been posted since October 1871. Dr. Ghose, who had previously lived in Britain and studied medicine at King's College, Aberdeen, was determined that his children should have an English education and upbringing free of any Indian influences. In 1877, he therefore sent the young Aurobindo and two elder siblings - Manmohan and Benoybhusan - to the Loreto Convent school in Darjeeling.

England

Aurobindo spent two years at Loreto convent. In 1879, Aurobindo and his two elder brothers were taken to Manchester, England for a European education. The brothers were placed in the care of a Rev. and Mrs. Drewett. Rev. Drewett was an Anglican clergyman, who Dr. Ghose knew through his British friends at Rangapur. The Drewetts tutored the Ghose brothers privately. The Drewitts had been asked to keep the tuitions completely secular and to make no mention of India or its culture.

In 1884, Aurobindo joined St Paul's School. Here he learned Greek and Latin, spending the last three years reading literature, especially English Poetry. Dr. K. D. Ghose had aspired that his sons should pass the prestigious ICS, but in 1889 it appeared that of the three brothers, only young Aurobindo had the chance of fulfilling his father's aspirations, his brothers having already decided their future careers. To become an ICS official, students were required to pass the difficult competitive examination, as well as study at an English university for two years under probation. With his limited financial resources, the only option Aurobindo had was to secure a scholarship at an English university, which he did by passing the scholarship examinations of King's College, Cambridge University. He stood first at the examination.[8]. He also passed the written examination of ICS after a few months, where he was ranked 11th out of 250 competitors[9]. He spent the next two years at the King's College.[10]


By the end of two years of probation, Aurobindo became convinced that he did not want to serve the British, he therefore failed to present himself at the horse riding examination for ICS, and was disqualified for the Service. At this time, the Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaekwad III was travelling England. James Cotton, brother of Sir Henry Cotton, for some time Lt. Governor of Bengal and Secretary of the South Kensington Liberal Club, who knew Sri Aurobindo and his father secured for him a service in Baroda State Service and arranged a meeting between him and the prince. He left England for India, arriving there in February, 1893.[2]. In India Aurobindo's father who was waiting to receive his son was misinformed by his agents from Mumbai (Bombay) that the ship on which Aurobindo had been travelling had sunk off the coast of Portugal. Dr. Ghose who was by this time frail due to ill-health could not bear this shock and died.[11]

Baroda

In Baroda, Aurobindo joined the state service, working first in the Survey and Settlements department, later moving to the Department of Revenue and then to the Secretariat, writing speeches for the Gaekwad.[12] At Baroda, Aurobindo engaged in a deep study of Indian culture, teaching himself Sanskrit, Hindi and Bengali, all things that his education in England had withheld from him. Because of the lack of punctuality at work resulting from his preoccupation with these other pursuits, Aurobindo was transferred to the Baroda College as a teacher of French, where he became popular because of his unconventional teaching style. He was later promoted to the post of Vice-Principal.[12] He published the first of his collections of poetry, The Rishi from Baroda.[13] He also started taking active interest in the politics of India's freedom struggle against British rule, working behind the scenes as his position at the state of Baroda 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. He was invited by K.G. Deshpande who was in charge of the weekly Induprakash and a friend from his days in Cambridge to write about the political situation. Aurobindo started writing a series of impassioned articles under the title New Lamps for the Old pouring vitriol on the Congress for its moderate policy[14]. He wrote:

"Our actual enemy is not any force exterior to ourselves, but our own crying weaknesses, our cowardice, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our purblind sentimentalism"

further adding:

"I say, of the Congress, then, this, - that its aims are mistaken, that the spirit in which it proceeds towards their accomplishment is not a spirit of sincerity and whole-heartedness, and that the methods it has chosen are not the right methods, and the leaders in whom it trusts, not the right sort of men to be leaders; - in brief, that we are at present the blind led, if not by the blind, at any rate by the one-eyed."

The Congress which practised more mild and moderate criticism itself, reacted in a way which frightened the editors of the paper who asked Aurobindo to write about cultural themes instead of Politics. Aurobindo lost interest in these writings and the series was discontinued.[12] Aurobindo's activities in Baroda also included a regimen of yogic exercises and meditation, but these were minor in comparison to the work he would take up in his later life. By 1904 he was doing yogic practices for five-six hours everyday [11]

Kolkata

Aurobindo used to take many excursions to Bengal, at first in a bid to re-establish links with his parents' families and his other Bengali relatives, including his cousin Sarojini and brother Barin, and later increasingly in a bid to establish resistance groups across Bengal. But he formally shifted to Kolkata (Calcutta) only in 1906 after the announcement of Partition of Bengal. During his visit to Calcutta in 1901 he married Mrinalini, daughter of Bhupal Chandra Bose, a senior official in Government service. Sri Aurobindo was then 28; the bride Mrinalini, 14. Marrying off daughters at a very young age was very common in 19th century Bengali families.[15]

In Bengal with Barin's help he established contacts with revolutionaries, inspiring radicals like Bagha Jatin, Jatin Banerjee, Surendranath Tagore. He helped establish a series of youth clubs with the aim of imparting a martial and spiritual training to the youth of Bengal. He helped found the Anushilan Samiti of Calcutta in 1902. When the Partition of Bengal was announced, there was a public outpouring against the British rule in India. Aurobindo attended the Benares session of Congress in December, 1905 as an observer, and witnessing the intensity of people's feelings decided to throw himself into the thick of politics.[11] He joined the National Council of Education and met Subodh Chandra Mullick who quickly became a supporter of Aurobindo's views. Mullick donated a large sum to found a National College and stipulated that Aurobindo should become its first principal. Aurobindo also started writing for Bande Mataram, as a consequence of which, his popularity as a leading voice of the hardline group soared. His arrest and acquittal for printing seditious material in Bande Mataram consolidated his position as the leader of aggressive nationalists. His call for complete political independence was considered extremely radical at the time and frequently caused friction in Congress. In 1907 at Surat session of Congress where moderates and hardliners had a major showdown, he led the hardliners along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Congress split after this session.[16] In 1907-1908 Aurobindo travelled extensively to Pune, Mumbai 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 s: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 signalling his retirement from politics, moved to Puducherry (Pondicherry).

Conversion from politics to spirituality

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother

Books
Collected Works · Life Divine · Synthesis of Yoga · Savitri · Agenda ·
Teachings
Involution/Involution · Evolution · Integral education · Integral psychology · Integral yoga · Intermediate zone · Supermind
Places
Matrimandir · Pondicherry
Communities
Sri Aurobindo Ashram · Auroville
Disciples
Champaklal · N.K.Gupta · Amal Kiran · Nirodbaran · Pavitra · M.P.Pandit · Pranab · A.B.Purani · D.K.Roy · Satprem · Indra Sen · Kapali Shastri
Journals and Forums
Arya · Mother India · Collaboration

Aurobindo's conversion from political action to spirituality occurred gradually. Aurobindo had been influenced by Bankim's Anandamath. In this novel, the story follows a monk who fights the soldiers of the British East India Company. When in Baroda, Aurobindo and Barin had considered the plan of a national uprising of nationalist sannyasis against the empire [17]. Later when Aurobindo got involved with Congress and Bande Mataram, Barin had continued to meet spiritualists for recruitment for such a plan. In 1907, Barin introduced Aurobindo to Vishnu Bhaskar Lele, a Maharashtrian yogi.
Aurobindo had been engaged in yogic discipline for years, but disturbances to his progress following the recent events surrounding the Congress had put him in the need of consulting a yogi. After attending the Surat session of the Congress in 1907, Aurobindo met Lele in Baroda. This meeting led him to retire for three days in seclusion where, following Lele's instruction, Aurobindo had his first major experience, called nirvana - a state of complete mental silence free of any thought or mental activity.[18] Later, while awaiting trial as a prisoner in Alipore Central Jail in Kolkata Aurobindo had a number of mystical experiences. In his letters, Sri Aurobindo mentions that while in jail as under-trial, spirit of Swami Vivekananda visited him for two weeks and spoke about the higher planes of consciousness leading to supermind. Sri Aurobindo later said that while imprisoned he saw the convicts, jailers, policemen, the prison bars, the trees, the judge, the lawyers as different forms of one godhead, Krishna.

The trial ("Alipore Bomb Case, 1908") lasted for one full year, but eventually Sri Aurobindo was acquitted. After his acquittal, he made the famous Uttarpara Speech s:Uttarpara Speech. Afterwards Aurobindo started two new weekly papers: the Karmayogin in English and the Dharma in Bengali. However, it appeared that the British government would not tolerate his nationalist program as Lord Minto wrote about him: "I can only repeat that he is the most dangerous man we have to reckon with." The British considered the possibilities of a retrial or deportation, but objections from Lord Minto, or the Bengal government at different instances prevented immediate execution of such plans.

When informed that he was sought again by the Indian police, he was guided to the french territory Chandernagore where he halted for a few days. On April 4, 1910 he finally landed in the French colony of Pondicherry. At Pondicherry he dedicated himself completely to his spiritual endeavors.

Puducherry

In Puducherry (Pondicherry), Sri Aurobindo completely dedicated himself to his spiritual and philosophical pursuits. In 1914, after four years of concentrated yoga, Sri Aurobindo launched Arya, a 64 page monthly review. For the next six and a half years this became the vehicle for most of his most important writings, which appeared in serialised form. These included 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. Many years later, Sri Aurobindo revised some of these works before they were published in book form.

For some time afterwards, Sri Aurobindo's 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 practice—others 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, Sri Aurobindo resumed work on a poem he had started earlier—he 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. During the World War II, he supported the allies, even donating money to the British Government, describing Hitler as a dark and oppressive force.

On August 15, 1947, on his 75th birthday, when India achieved political independence, a message was asked from Sri Aurobindo. In his message, which was read out on the All India Radio, Sri Aurobindo dwelt briefly on the 5 dreams he has cherished all his life and which, he noted, were on the way to being fulfilled. Sri Aurobindo died on December 5, 1950 after a short illness.

Freedom Struggle and Politics

Aurobindo’s observable political career lasted only four years, from 1906 to 1910. Though he had been active behind the scene surveying, organizing and supporting the nationalist cause, ever since his return to India, especially during his excursions to Bengal. This period of his activity from 1906-1910 saw a complete transformation of India's political scene. Before Aurobindo began publishing his views, the Congress was an annual debating society whose rare victories had been instances of the empire taking a favourable view to its petitions. By the time Aurobindo left the field, the ideal of political independence had been firmly ingrained into the minds of people, and nineteen years later, it became the official raison d'etre of the Congress.[19]

This change was affected by the advent of the aggressive nationalist thought of Lokmanya Tilak who declared that swaraj was his birthright and Bipin Chandra Pal who demanded "complete autonomy" from Britain. However none went as far as Aurobindo in articulating the legitimacy and necessity of complete independence. He "based his claim for freedom for India on the inherent right to freedom, not on any charge of misgovernment or oppression". He wrote :

"Political freedom is the life-breath of a nation. To attempt social reform, educational reform, industrial expansion, the moral improvement of the race without aiming first and foremost at political freedom, is the very height of ignorance and futility. The primary requisite for national progress, national reform, is the habit of free and healthy national thought and action which is impossible in a state of servitude."[19]

Beginnings

Aurobindo had become contemptuous of the British rule in India since his days as a student in England. While at the beginning of Aurobindo's educational career, his father had been a believer in the superiority of the British People, by the time Aurobindo was nearing the end of his education in England, Dr. Ghose started mailing Aurobindo newspaper clips of atrocities unleashed by the British on the Indian people. While at King's college, Aurobindo was drawn to Irish nationalists such as Charles Stewart Parnell. He wrote, in praise of Parnell :

"Patriots, behold your guerdon! This man found

Erin, his Mother, beaten, chastised, bound,
Naked to imputation poor, denied,
While alien masters held her house of pride"

This personification of the subjugated nation as the Mother in chains, was a recurring theme in Aurobindo's writings and would later come to galvanize a generation of Indian revolutionaries. From his observations of the British Politics, Aurobindo became convinced that India had little hope from the British Parliament. While in London he joined up with a society of revolutionaries called "Lotus and Dagger" who were committed to overthrowing the British. His activities in England though, were inconsequential. After his return to India, he started working to bring about a revolutionary change in the political situation in India.

He came to believe that the only way to free India from the British yoke was that the common people and not just the elite that composed the erstwhile Congress, should embark upon a total revolution. Aurobindo espoused a threefold approach to this end :

  1. To conduct secret revolutionary propaganda and develop organizations to prepare for an armed revolution.
  2. To spread the idea of revolution and prepare the entire nation for independence.
  3. To organise the people for non-cooperation and passive resistance against foreign rule.[20]

Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar Party

At the beginning of 20th century Bengal had become the central hub for voices against the British Rule and during his vactions to meet his family in Bengal, Aurobindo came in contact with many who shared his views. Aurobindo became inspired by the story of Bankim's novel Anandamath. Aurobindo frequently shared with his younger brother Barin his ideas of imparting martial and intellectual training to the youth of Bengal for the coming revolution; loosely like the sannyais of Anandamath who stir a rebellion agains the British. This concept is rooted in Shakta philosophy.

Anushilan Samiti was founded as an attempt to organize Bengali youth through a program of physical fitness and spiritual training for a nationalist program. By 1902, Calcutta had three societies working under the umbrella of Anushilan Samity, a society earlier founded by a Calcutta barrister by the name of Pramatha Mitra. These included Mitra's own group, another led by a Bengali lady by the name of Sarala Devi, and a third one led by Aurobindo Ghosh. The Anushilan Samiti had Aurobindo and Deshabandhu Chittaranjan Das as the vice-presidents, Suren Tagore the treasurer. Jatindra Nath Banerjee (Niralamba Swami), Bagha Jatin, Bhupendra Nath Datta (Swami Vivekananda's brother), Barindra Ghosh were among other initial leaders. By 1905, the work of Aurobindo and his brother Barin Ghosh allowed Anushilan Samity to spread through Bengal.[21]
When the first Partition of Bengal was announced in 1905, Aurobindo took an extended leave from the college in Baroda and dedicated himself to participate in anti-British activities in Bengal.

Barin who was an aggressive revolutionary in his own right prodded Aurobindo to write about a plan for a Monks' rebellion. In August 1905 Aurobindo published a blueprint for such a training facility called "Bhawani Mandir" (or Bhawani's temple) [3]. This plan and its logistics were later taken over by Barin when Aurobindo devoted himself to the mainstream of Politics.

Aurobindo provided the ideological foundation to the ultra-radical Jugantar party, as an offshoot of the Anushilan Samiti. The party was founded by Barin and Bhupendra Nath Dutta. Among the operational aims of this society was to sensitize and stimulate the disaffected youth of Bengal to the nationalist cause.[22]

Bande Mataram


The views of Tilak, Aurobindo and other aggressive nationalists, being radically different from those of the moderates, created fissures in the Congress and the debate for its future direction and control spilled into the public domain. To take the extremists' view to the public, Bipin Chandra Pal had founded the nationalist Bengali newspaper Bande Mataram (spelt and pronounced as Bônde Matôrom in the Bengali language). Pal invited Aurobindo to become its editor along with Pal. Pal after a few issues discontinued contributing to the paper. The paper rapidly became a major success.[23] and the radical views finally found a popular voice. But as a result of its popularity and open espousal of aggressive methods, the paper came into frequent confrontation with the Raj.
In 1907 the British Government decided to prosecute the group behind Bande Mataram, for its constant propaganda against British rule. Notices were served for using language which was a "direct incentive to violence and lawlessness." [24]
On August 16, Aurobindo was sought for arrested by the Police. Aurobindo courted arrest and was released on monetary sureties. The sensational act and the events surrounding the arrest were seen as an episode of defiance against the empire and turned him into a national celebrity. Provincial and National press showered lavish praise on Aurobindo.Tagore wrote: "Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee! O friend, my country's friend, O Voice incarnate, free, Of India's soul....The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God hath come...Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee".[25]

The prosecution was unable to establish that Sri Aurobindo was the editor of the paper and he was acquitted. Pal was sentenced to six months in prison for declining to depose. After the Bande Mataram Case, Sri Aurobindo became the recognised leader of aggressive nationalism in Bengal. [26]

National Education

Aurobindo was a strong proponent of an indigenous system of National Education. His experiences at Baroda university had convinced him about the shortcomings of the education system of the time. His views on national education frequently brought him in conflict with the moderates of Congress. When the Risley Circular banned the study or mention of politics from government aided educational institutes, Aurobindo along with others saw this as a direct challenge to his program of youth nationalism. He campaigned extensively to gain self-reliance on the front of education, writing articles about the circular and its implications. He, along with Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Subodh Chandra Mullick and Brajendra Kishore Roychowdhury decided that they would protest the partition of Bengal by setting up an institution that would challenge British rule by offering education to the masses 'on national lines and under national control'. The Bengal National College was set up with Aurobindo as its first principal.

Later, when he founded the newspaper Karmayogin he expounded in detail, his philosophy on education in the series titled A System of National Education.

Alipore Bomb Case

The British had been keeping tabs on activities of Barin and Aurobindo since the Bande Mataram episode. On 30 April 1908, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki, members of Barin's group, attempted to bomb Magistrate Kingsford's carriage in Alipore. They failed to discern between the identical carriages of the party and the bombs instead landed in the wrong carriage, killing two British women, the wife and daughter of another barrister. The British reaction was swift, with 33 suspects being rounded up within the next two days. Barin and Aurobindo were also arrested and put into prison. The ensuing trial lasted for a year. Aurobindo was acquitted. Khudiram Bose was found guilty and later hanged. Barin was sentenced to death, but this sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment (He was released in 1920).[citation needed] Aurobindo came out of prison and delivered the famous Uttarpara Speech. A few months after the end of his incarceration, and few other anti-British activities, Aurobindo retired from active politics and sailed to Pondicherry, where he would spend the rest of his life.

The Mother

Sri Aurobindo's close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Richard (b. Alfassa), came to be known as The Mother simply because Sri Aurobindo started to call her by this name. On being inquired by why he called her the Mother, Sri Aurobindo wrote an essay "The Mother" by way of shedding light on the person of Mirra.

Mirra was born in Paris on February 21, 1878, to Turkish and Egyptian parents. Involved in the cultural and spiritual life of Paris, she counted among her friends Alexandra David-Neel. She went to Pondicherry on March 29, 1914, finally settling there in 1920. Sri Aurobindo considered her his spiritual equal and collaborator. After November 24, 1926, when Sri Aurobindo retired into seclusion, he left it to her to plan, run and build the growing Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the community of disciples that 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 (which, with its pilot experiments in the field of education, impressed observers like Jawaharlal Nehru). When Sri Aurobindo died in 1950, the Mother continued their spiritual work and directed the Ashram and guided their disciples. In the mid 1960s she personally guided the founding of Auroville, an international township endorsed by UNESCO to further human unity near the town of Pondicherry, which was to be a place "where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities." It was inaugurated in 1968 in a ceremony in which representatives of 121 nations and all the states of India placed a handful of their soil in an urn near the center of the city. Auroville continues to develop and currently has approximately 2100 members from 43 countries, though the majority consists of Indians, French, and Germans. The Mother also played an active role in the merger of the French pockets in India and, according to Sri Aurobindo's wish, helped to make Pondicherry a seat of cultural exchange between India and France. The Mother stayed in Pondicherry until her death on November 17, 1973. Her later years, including her myriad of metaphysical and occult experiences, and her attempt at the transformation at the cellular level of her body, are captured in her 13 volume personal log known as Mother's Agenda.

Philosophy and Spiritualism

One of Sri Aurobindo's main philosophical achievements was to introduce the concept of evolution into Vedantic thought. Samkhya philosophy had already proposed such a notion centuries earlier, but Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and proposed an evolution of spirit along with that of matter, and that the evolution of matter was a result of the former.

He describes the limitation of the Mayavada of Advaita Vedanta, and solves the problem of the linkage between the ineffable Brahman or Absolute and the world of multiplicity by positing a hitherto unknown and unexplored level of consciousness, which he called The Supermind. The supermind is the active principle present in the transcendent Satchidananda as well in the roots of evolution: a unitary level of which our individual minds and bodies are minuscule subdivisions.

Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is a Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light.

Evolutionary philosophy

Sri Aurobindo argues that humankind is not the last rung in the evolutionary scale, but can evolve spiritually beyond its current limitations to a state of spiritual and supramental existence. This evolutionary existence he called a "Divine life on Earth," characterized by a spiritualized, supramental, truth-consciousness-oriented humanity. [27]

Process of Creation and Evolution

He speaks of two central movements in the process of creation: an involution of consciousness from an original omnipresent Reality, manifesting a universe of forms, including matter; and an evolution of those material forms in creation upward toward life, mind, and spirit, reconnecting to their spiritual source. it is also a process of evolution.

Involution

The process by which the Energy of creation emerged from a timeless, spaceless, ineffable, immutable Reality, Sri Aurobindo refers to as the Involution. In that process the Reality extended itself to Being/Existence (Sat), Consciousness, that generated a Force - (Chit); and Bliss (Ananda)-- self enjoyment in existing and being conscious. Through the action of a fourth dimension, Supermind (i.e. Truth Consciousness), the Force (Chit) of Sat-Chit-Ananda was divided into Knowledge and Will, eventually formulating as an invisible Energy that would become the source of creation. Through its own willful self-absorption of consciousness, the universe would begin as Inconscient material existence from out of that Energy.

Evolution

The process of existence emerging out of the Inconscient is referred as evolution. Initially, it emerges gradually in the stages of matter, life, and mind. First matter evolves from simple to complex forms, then life emerges in matter and evolves from simple to complex forms, finally mind emerges in life and evolves from rudimentary to higher forms of thought and reason. As each new principle emerges, the previous stages remain but are integrated into the higher principle. Humanity represents the stage of development of mind in complex material forms of life.
The higher development of mind in the mass of humanity is not yet a secure possession. Reason and intellect still do not dominate the life of most human beings; rather, mind tends to be turned to the purposes of the life principle, which is focused on self-preservation, self-assertion, and satisfaction of personal need and desire. But evolution does not cease with the establishment of reason and intellect; beyond mind are higher levels of a spiritual and supramental consciousness which in the nature of things must also emerge. This higher evolution is described as a dual movement; inward, away from the surface consciousness and into the depths, culminating in the realization of the Psychic Being (the personal evolving soul); and then upward to higher levels of spiritual mind (Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, and Overmind), culminating in the final stage of supramentalisation. Whereas these higher levels of consciousness have been attained in particular individuals, they must eventually emerge more universally as general stages in the evolution. When they do emerge, there will come the embodiment of a new species on earth that will be once again united in consciousness with Sachchidananda.

The Omnipresent Reality (Brahman)

A central tenet of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy is that the Truth of existence is an omnipresent Reality that both transcends the manifested universe and is inherent in it. This Reality, referred to as Brahman, is an Absolute: it is not limited by any mental conception or duality, whether personal or impersonal, existent or nonexistent, formless or manifested in form, timeless or extended in time, spaceless or extended in space. It is simultaneously all of these but is bound by none of them. It is at once the universe, each individual being and thing in the universe, and the Transcendent beyond the universe. In its highest manifested poise, its nature may be described as Sachchidananda—infinite existence, infinite consciousness, and infinite delight or bliss; a triune principle in which the three are united in a single Reality. In other words, it is a fully conscious and blissful infinite existence. The importance of this concept for humanity lies in its implication that Brahman is the deepest and secret Reality of humans, it is their true Self, and it is possible to recover this Reality of their being by removing the veil of ignorance that hides it from them and imprisons them in a false identification with an apparently divided and limited egoistic movement on the surface of the being. This is the metaphysical basis for Sri Aurobindo's yoga, the discipline given to consciously unite humans' life with their essential Reality.

The Triple Transformation of the Individual

Sri Aurobindo's argues that Man is born an ignorant, divided, conflicted being; a product of the original inconscience (i.e. unconsciousness,) inherent in Matter that he evolved out of. As a result, he does not know the nature of Reality, including its source and purpose; his own nature, including the parts and integration of his being; what purpose he serves, and what his individual and spiritual potential is, amongst others. In addition, man experiences life through division and conflict, including his relationship with others, and his divided view of spirit and life.

To overcome these limitations, Man must embark on a process of self-discovery in which he uncovers his Divine nature. To that end, he undertakes a three-step process, which he calls the Triple Transformation. [28].

(1) Psychic Transformation -- The first of the three stages is a movement within, away from the surface of life, to the depths, culminating in the discovery of his Psychic Being (the evolving soul). From that experience, he sees the oneness and unity of creation, and the harmony of all opposites experienced in life.

(2) Spiritual Transformation -- As a result of making the psychic change, his mind expands and he experiences knowledge not through the hard churning of thought, but through light, intuition, and revelation of knowledge, culminating in supramental perception. Light enters from the heights and begins to transmute various parts of his being.

(3) Supramental transformation -- After making the psychic and spiritual change, he makes the supramental and most radical change. It is basically a complete transformation of the mind, the heart, the emotions, and the physical body.

The Evolving Soul (Psychic Being)

Sri Aurobindo laid utmost stress on finding and living in the Psychic Being (i.e. an Evolving Soul) within which is the essence of our individual being. If we forge our way into the deepest parts of our being, we will come upon a Personal Evolving Soul. From this Psychic Being we can overcome the limits of consciousness of the individual human. From there we perceive our true nature and essence; we become more aware of our surroundings; we become one with others and life; we experience an inner Guide that influences us to move in the right direction and catches our negative propensities as they arise on the surface; we come in touch with our universal nature; we come in touch with the transcendent reality and spiritual Force; we overcome the limits of time, bringing timelessness into time; and evoke the powers of the Infinite into this finite existence, to name several. Also when we plunge within and touch the evolving soul, it becomes easy to move up in consciousness above mind to spiritual mind of illumination, intuition, revelation, and (supramental) truth consciousness. It should also be noted that this psychic entity is itself evolving, as it enters the person’s whose experience it believes it can benefit from, extracts the essence of that person’s experience, and then moves on to the next birth until it is fulfilled in its journey through space and time. The connection to the evolving soul is thus the key to the evolution from this the human side, as from there we overcome the inherent Ignorance, division, dualities, and suffering of Man, enabling him to fulfill his human aspiration of God, freedom, joy, and immortality. (From the spiritual side, it is the descending Supramental Force that enables the progress of life to its ultimate capacity. The two together, the connection to the Psychic Being and the surrender to the descending (supramental) Force are the keys to the evolution and transformation of the individual, humanity, and life in the universe.)

Supramental Existence

Sri Aurobindo's vision of the future includes the appearance of what may be called a new species, the supramental being, a divine being which would be as different and superior to present humanity as humanity is to the animal. It would have a consciousness different in kind than the mind of the human, a different status and quality and functioning. Even the physical form of this being would be different, more luminous and flexible and adaptable, entirely conscious and harmonious. Between this supramental being and humanity, there would be transitional beings, who would be human in birth and form, but whose consciousness would approach that of the supramental being. These transitional beings would appear prior to that of the full supramental being, and would constitute an intermediate stage in the Earth's evolution, through which the soul would pass in its growth towards its divine manifestation as the supramental being in the earth nature.

Philosophy of social evolution

Sri Aurobindo's spiritual vision extended beyond the perfection and transformation of the individual; it included within its scope the evolution and transformation of human society. In both the individual and in society, the soul and spirit is at first hidden and occult. This, he argues, influences the direction and course of development from behind, but allowing nature to follow its gradual, zigzagging, and conflict-ridden course. Afterwards, as mind develops and becomes more dominant over obscure impulses, the ego-centered drives of vital nature. This results in a more objective, enlightened perception and approach towards human existence and the potential developments that become possible. At the highest stage of mental development he argues that a greater possibility and principle becomes apparent, which is spiritual and supramental in nature. At this point a true solution to humanity's problems becomes visible in the context of a radical transformation of human life, into a form of divine existence.

Integral Yoga

In The Synthesis of Yoga, and in his voluminous correspondence with his disciples collected under the title Letters on Yoga, Sri Aurobindo laid out the psychological principles and practices of the Integral Yoga or Poorna Yoga. The aim of Integral yoga is to enable the individual who undertakes it the attainment of a conscious identity with the Divine, the true Self, and to transform the mind, life, and body so they would become fit instruments for a divine life on earth[29].

Analysis of Indian culture

In Renaissance in India (earlier called The Foundations of Indian Culture),[citation needed] Sri Aurobindo examines the nature of Indian civilization and culture. He looked at its central motivating tendencies and how these are expressed in its religion, spirituality, art, literature, and politics. The first section of the book provides a general defense of Indian culture from disparaging criticism due to the misunderstanding of a foreign perspective, and its possible destruction due to the aggressive expansion and infiltration of Western culture. This section is interesting in the light it sheds on the nature of both Eastern and Western civilizations, how they have developed over the centuries, how they have influenced each other throughout the ages, and the nature and significance of these exchanges in the recent period. The principle tenet of the exposition is that India has been and is one of the greatest civilizations of the world, one that stands apart from all others in its central emphasis, or rather its whole foundation, based on spirituality, and that on its survival depends the future of the human race—whether it shall be a spiritual outflowering of the divine in man, or a rational, economically-driven, and mechanized association of peoples.

Interpretation of the Vedas

One of the most significant contributions of Sri Aurobindo was his setting forth an esoteric meaning of the Vedas. The Vedas were considered by some to be composed by a barbaric culture worshiping violent Gods. Sri Aurobindo felt that this was due to non-grasping of vedic symbolism, both by Occidental and Oriental scholars.

Sri Aurobindo believed there was a hidden spiritual meaning in the Vedas. He viewed the Rig Veda as a spiritual text written in a symbolic language in which the outer meaning was concerned with ritualistic sacrifices to the gods, and the inner meaning, which was revealed only to initiates, was concerned with an inner spiritual knowledge and practice, the aim of which was to unite in consciousness with the Divine.

In this conception, Indra is the God of Mind lording over the Indriyas, that is, the senses (sight, touch, hearing, taste etc). Vayu represents air, but in its esoteric sense means Prana, or the life force. So when the Rig Veda says “Call Indra and Vayu to drink Soma Rasa” the inner meaning is to use mind through the senses and life force to receive divine bliss (Soma means wine of Gods, but in several texts also means divine bliss, as in Right-handed Tantra). Agni, the God of the sacrificial fire in the outer sense, is the flame of the spiritual will to overcome the obstacles to unite with the Divine. So the sacrifice of the Vedas could mean sacrificing ones ego to the internal Agni, the spiritual fire.

Sri Aurobindo's theory of the inner spiritual significance of the Vedas originally appeared serially in the journal Arya between 1914 and 1920, but was later published in book form as “The Secret of the Veda." Another book, "Hymns to the Mystic Fire," is Sri Aurobindo's translation of the spiritual sense of many of the verses of the Rig Veda.

Poetry

Sri Aurobindo, not only expressed his spiritual thought and vision in intricate metaphysical reasoning and in phenomenological terms, but also in poetry. He started writing poetry as a young student, and continued until late in his life. The theme of his poetry changed with the projects that he undertook. It ranged from revolutionary homages to mystic philosophy. Sri Aurobindo wrote in classical style.

Savitri

'Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol' is Sri Aurobindo's epic poem of 12 books, 24000 lines about an individual who overcomes the Ignorance, suffering, and death in the world through Her spiritual quest, setting the stage for the emergence of a new, Divine life on earth. It is loosely based on the ancient Indian tale of 'Savitri and Satyavan' from the Mahabharata.

The Mother said of Savitri:

... everything is there: mysticism, occultism, philosophy, the history of evolution, the history of man, of the gods, of creation, of Nature. How the universe was created, why, for what purpose, what destiny - all is there. You can find all the answers to all your questions there. Everything is explained, even the future of man and of the evolution, all that nobody yet knows. He has described it all in beautiful and clear words so that spiritual adventurers who wish to solve the mysteries of the world may understand it more easily.

The Future Poetry

In Sri Aurobindo's theory of poetry, written under the title The Future Poetry, he writes about the significance that art and culture have for the spiritual evolution of mankind. He believed that a new, deep, and intuitive poetry could be a powerful aid to the change of consciousness and the life required to achieve the spiritual destiny of mankind which he envisioned. Unlike philosophy or psychology, poetry could make the reality of the Spirit living to the imagination and reveal its beauty and delight and captivate the deeper soul of humanity to its acceptance. It is perhaps in Sri Aurobindo's own poetry, particularly in his epic poem Savitri, that we find the fullest and most powerful statement of his spiritual thought and vision.

Followers of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother

The following authors/ organizations (listed in chronological order?) trace their intellectual heritage back to, or have in some measure been influenced by, The Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

  • Sisir Kumar Maitra (1887-1963) was an academic philosopher who wrote widely on Sri Aurobindo and Western philosophy. Wrote an essay, "Sri Aurobindo and Spengler: Comparison between the Integral and the Pluralistic philosophy of History" in the 1958 symposium compendium, 'The Integral Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo.'
  • Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) was an Indian spiritual teacher and philosopher who emigrated to the U.S. in 1964. An author, composer, artist and athlete, he was perhaps best known for holding public events on the theme of inner peace and world harmony (such as concerts, meditations, and races). In 1944, he joined his brothers and sisters in Sri Aurobindo's ashram. He has written many books about Sri Aurobindo.
  • Nolini Kanta Gupta (1889 - 1983) was one of Sri Aurobindo's senior disciples, and wrote extensively on philosophy, mysticism, and spiritual evolution in the light of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's teachings.
  • Indra Sen (1903-1994), another disciple of Sri Aurobindo who, although little-known in the West, was the first to articulate integral psychology and integral philosophy, in the 1940s and 1950s. A compilation of his papers came out under the title, Integral Psychology in 1986.
  • Ram Shankar Misra (dates?) was a scholar of Indian religious and philosophical thought and author of The Integral Advaitism of Sri Aurobindo (publ. 1957), a philosophical commentary on Sri Aurobindo's work.
  • Sri Anirvan (1896-1978), the famous erudite scholar saint, translated "The Life Divine" in Bengali and "Savitri" into incomparably beautiful poetic Bengali in "Divya Jeevan Prasanga," published by Sri Aurobindo Pathamandir, in 1948-51, now in 2000 (fourth edition). .
  • Satprem (1923 - 2007) was a French author and an important disciple of The Mother. Mother's Agenda (ed.1982), Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness (2000), On the Way to Supermanhood (2002) and more.
  • Pavitra (1894 - 1969) was one of the very early disciples of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Born as Philippe Barbier Saint-Hilaire in Paris. Pavitra left some very interesting memoirs of his conversations with Sri Aurobindo and Mother in 1925 and 1926 published as Conversations avec Pavitra.

Organisations and institutes

  • Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research, located in Pondicherry, India, provides online advanced degree programmes (e.g., MA, M.Phil., and Ph.D.) in Sri Aurobindo Studies. It works in collaboration with Indira Gandhi National Open University which grants the degrees. It also publishes books related to the thought and vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, holds conferences, and sells CDs of talks by Ananda Reddy, its Director, on Sri Aurobindo's various major works.
  • World Union - A non-profit, non-political organisation founded on the 26th November 1958 in Pondicherry, fired by the Third Dream of Sri Aurobindo; also publishes a quarterly journal with the same title. A.B. Patel was the driving force and for many years, M.P. Pandit was the leading light.
  • The Integral Life Foundation P.O.Box 239 Waterford CT. 06385 USA has published several books by Amal Kiran.

Journals

  • Mother India is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram's originally fortnightly, now monthly, cultural review. It was started in 1949, the founding editor being K. D. Sethna (Amal Kiran), who continues as editor for over fifty years.
  • Collaboration is a journal dedicated to the spiritual and evolutionary vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Content includes articles, essays, poetry, and art. Topics range across the theory and practice of Integral Yoga, Sri Aurobindo's philosophy and metaphysics, developments in the international township of Auroville, activities of various centers and announcements and reports about various conferences related to the Integral Yoga.

Sri Aurobindo's influence

Sri Aurobindo's influence has been wide-ranging.

In India, S. K. Maitra, Anilbaran Roy, and D. P. Chattopadhyaya commented on Sri 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[30].

Haridas Chaudhuri and Frederic Spiegelberg[31] were among those who were inspired by Sri 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.

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) became heavily inspired by the writings of Satprem about Sri Aurobindo during a week in May 1968, a time of which the composer was undergoing a personal crisis and had found Aurobindos philosophies were relevant to his feelings at the time. After this experience, Stockhausen's music took a completely different turn, focusing on mysticism, that was to continue right up until the end of his career.

Sri Aurobindo's ideas about the further evolution of human capabilities influenced the thinking of Michael Murphy [32] – and indirectly, the human potential movement, through Murphy's writings. The American philosopher Ken Wilber, has been strongly influenced by Sri Aurobindo's thought, but has integrated some of its key ideas with other spiritual traditions and modern intellectual trends[33] (Wilber's interpretation has been criticised by Rod Hemsell[34] and others). New Age writer Andrew Harvey also looks to Sri Aurobindo as a major inspiration. Cultural historian William Irwin Thompson is also heavily influenced by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the spiritual community that grew up around him and was organized and directed by the Mother, continues to operate with slightly more than 2000 members and a similar number of nonmembers who live nearby and are associated with the Ashram's activities. The experimental international city of Auroville, founded by the Mother and based on Sri Aurobindo's ideals, is located about 10 km from the Ashram; it has approximately 2000 members from around the world, and an international base of support groups called Auroville International.

Based on the teaching of Sri Aurobindo and his Divine Mother, the school based in Bangalore called Sri Aurobindo Memorial School was set up. The student life begins with prayer, medidation and yoga. The children are also served Ladoo on their birthday and poems of Sri Aurobindo are recited in class everyday.

Quotes

The one aim of [my] yoga is an inner self-development by which each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self in all and evolve a higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform and divinize human nature

—Sri Aurobindo On Himself

Partial bibliography

  • Bases of Yoga, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-77-9
  • Bhagavad Gita and Its Message, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-78-7
  • Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga, (compiled by M.P. Pandit), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-74-4
  • Essays on the Gita, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-18-7
  • The Future Evolution of Man, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-55-1
  • The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-44-6
  • Hymns to the Mystic Fire, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-22-5
  • The Ideal of Human Unity, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-43-8
  • The Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo's Teaching and Method of Practice, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-76-0
  • The Life Divine, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-61-2
  • The Mind of Light, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-70-5
  • The Mother, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-79-5
  • Rebirth and Karma, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-63-9
  • Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-80-9
  • Secret of the Veda, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-19-5
  • Sri Aurobindo Primary Works Set 12 vol. US Edition, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-93-0
  • Sri Aurobindo Selected Writings Software CD ROM, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-88-8
  • The Synthesis of Yoga, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-65-5
  • The Upanishads, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-23-3
  • Vedic Symbolism, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-30-2
  • The Essential Aurobindo - Writings of Sri Aurobindo ISBN 978-0-9701097-2-9
  • The Powers Within, Lotus Press. ISBN 978-0-941524-96-4
  • Human Cycle, Ideal of Human Unity, War and Self Determination by Aurobindo, Lotus Press. ISBN 81-7058-014-5
  • Hour of God by Sri Aurobindo, Lotus Press. ISBN 81-7058-217-2

See also

References

  1. ^ Ghose A., McDermott, R.A. - Essential Aurobindo, SteinerBooks (1994) ISBN 0-940262-22-3.
  2. ^ Heehs, P., The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, 2008, New York: Columbia University Press ISBN 978-0-231-14098-0
  3. ^ The lives of Sri Aurobindo, Peter Heehs, ISBN 0-231-14098-3, Introduction
  4. ^ See www.sriaurobindosociety.org.in
  5. ^ See www.sriaurobindoashram.org
  6. ^ Aravinda means "lotus" in Sanskrit. Aurobindo spelled his name Aravinda while in England, as Aravind or Arvind while in Baroda, and as Aurobindo when he moved to Bengal. Ghose is pronounced and often written as "Ghosh", and Aurobindo's name often appears as "Arabindo Ghosh" in British records).
  7. ^ The lives of Sri Aurobindo, Peter Heehs, Page 3
  8. ^ The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, Peter Heehs. Page 19
  9. ^ The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, Peter Heehs. Page 20
  10. ^ Ghose, Aravinda Acroyd in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  11. ^ a b c Sri Aurobindo for all ages. Nirodbaran
  12. ^ a b c http://www.sriaurobindosociety.org.in/sriauro/aurolife.htm#1893
  13. ^ http://intyoga.online.fr/rishi.htm
  14. ^ http://www.aurobindo.ru/workings/sa/01/0002_e.htm
  15. ^ The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Peter Heehs. Page 53
  16. ^ "The great ideological split" The Hindu]
  17. ^ Bhawani Mandir, Sri Aurobindo
  18. ^ Peter Heehs. The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Pg 143
  19. ^ a b Peter Heehs. Idea of India
  20. ^ Banglapedia http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/G_0119.htm
  21. ^ http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/A_0270.htm
  22. ^ http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/J_0130.htm
  23. ^ http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/research/show.php?set=doclife&id=9
  24. ^ http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/research/show.php?set=doclife&id=10
  25. ^ Peter Heehs. The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Pg127
  26. ^ Orrissa Review.[1], 2005
  27. ^ The Life Divine bk II, ch 27-8
  28. ^ Book II, Chapter 25, The Life Divine
  29. ^ Letters on Yoga, p. 505
  30. ^ Peter Heehs, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo p.381
  31. ^ Haridas Chaudhuri and Frederic Spiegelberg, The integral philosophy of Sri Aurobindo: a commemorative symposium, Allen & Unwin, 1960
  32. ^ Jeffrey John Kripal, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, University of Chicago Press, 2007 ISBN 0-226-45369-3, ISBN 978-0-226-45369-9 575 pages pp.61ff.
  33. ^ References to Sri Aurobindo are widely scattered throughout Wilber's works, beginning with The Atman Project, but there is no systematic coverage. The tables at the back of The Atman Project and Integral Psychology, and in Integral Spirituality correlate stages of consciousness according to many different psychologies and spiritual teachings, including Sri Aurobindo's (image)
  34. ^ Rod Hemsell, "Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Perspective" Jan. 2002. This essay has been reproduced a number of times.

Further reading

  • Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Sri Aurobindo: Meri Drishti Mein, Lokbharti Prakashan, New Delhi, 2008.
  • Heehs, Peter, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo p. 381, Columbia University Press, 2008
  • Kumari, Shyam, How they came to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (4 volumes), Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Stories and experiences of Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's disciples.[Full citation needed]
  • ____________ Vignettes of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (3 volumes), Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Hundreds of brief stories of the Masters' interactions with their disciples in each volume.[Full citation needed]
  • ____________ Musings on the Mother's Prayers and Meditations (3 volumes), Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. The author's reflections on each of the Mother's published "Prayers and Meditations."[Full citation needed]
  • Nahar, Sujata (Ed.) India's rebirth - A selection from Sri Aurobindo’s writings, talks and speeches, 3rd edition, 2000, Hermanville, France: Institut de Recherches Évolutives. (http://www.voi.org/books).
  • Satprem, Sri Aurobindo, or the Adventure of Consciousness 1968, Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press. Exposition of the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the techniques of Integral Yoga.
  • van Vrekhem, Georges: Beyond Man - The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, HarperCollins Publishers India, New Delhi 1999, ISBN 81-7223-327-2.
  • _________ Hitler and his God - The Background to the Hitler phenomenon, Rupa & Co, New Delhi 2006.
  • _________The Mother - The Story of Her Life, HarperCollins Publishers India, New Delhi 2000, ISBN 81-7223-416-3
  • _________ Overman  –  The intermediary between the human and the supramental being, Rupa & Co, New Delhi 2001, ISBN 81-7167-594-8.
  • _________ Patterns of the Present  –  From The perspective of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Rupa & Co, New Delhi 2001, ISBN 81-7167-768-1.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Indian religion has always felt that since the minds, the temperaments and the intellectual affinities of men are unlimited in their variety, a perfect liberty of thought and of worship must be allowed to the individual in his approach to the Infinite.

Sri Aurobindo (15 August 18725 December 1950) was an Indian nationalist, scholar, poet, mystic, evolutionary philosopher, yogi and guru; born Aravinda Akroyd Ghose

Contents

Sourced

This Sanatana Dharma has many scriptures: The Veda, the Vedanta, the Gita, the Upanishads, the Darshanas, the Puranas, the Tantras, nor could it reject the Bible or the Koran, but its real, the most authoritative scripture is in the heart in which the Eternal has his dwelling.
  • Evolution is not finished; reason is not the last word nor the reasoning animal the supreme figure of Nature. As man emerged out of the animal, so out of man the superman emerges.
    • Thoughts and Aphorisms (1913)
  • What I cannot do now is the sign of what I shall do hereafter. The sense of impossibility is the beginning of all possibilities. Because this temporal universe was a paradox and an impossibility, therefore the Eternal created it out of His being.
    • Thoughts and Glimpses (1916-17)
  • The meeting of man and God must always mean a penetration and entry of the divine into the human and a self-immergence of man in the Divinity.
    • Thoughts and Glimpses (1916-17)
  • Hinduism, which is the most skeptical and the most believing of all, the most skeptical because it has questioned and experimented the most, the most believing because it has the deepest experience and the most varied and positive spiritual knowledge, that wider Hinduism which is not a dogma or combination of dogmas but a law of life, which is not a social framework but the spirit of a past and future social evolution, which rejects nothing but insists on testing and experiencing everything and when tested and experienced, turning in to the soul's uses, in this Hinduism, we find the basis of future world religion. This Sanatana Dharma has many scriptures: The Veda, the Vedanta, the Gita, the Upanishads, the Darshanas, the Puranas, the Tantras, nor could it reject the Bible or the Koran, but its real, the most authoritative scripture is in the heart in which the Eternal has his dwelling.
    • The Ideal of the Karmayogin (1921), p. 9
The aggressive and quite illogical idea of a single religion for all mankind, a religion universal by the very force of its narrowness, one set of dogmas, one cult, one system of ceremonies, one ecclesiastical ordinance, one array of prohibitions and injunctions which all minds must accept on peril of persecution by men and spiritual rejection or eternal punishment by God, that grotesque creation of human unreason which has been the parent of so much intolerance, cruelty and obscurantism and aggressive fanaticism, has never been able to take firm hold of the Indian mentality.
  • The Hindu religion appears ... as a cathedral temple, half in ruins, noble in the mass, often fantastic in detail but always fantastic with a significance — crumbling or badly outworn in places, but a cathedral temple in which service is still done to the Unseen and its real presence can be felt by those who enter with the right spirit.
    • Letters, Vol. II (1949) p. 53; also in The Soul of India (1974) by Satyavrata R Patel
  • Spirituality is the master key of the Indian mind. It is this dominant inclination of India which gives character to all the expressions of her culture. In fact, they have grown out of her inborn spiritual tendency of which her religion is a natural out flowering. The Indian mind has always realized that the Supreme is the Infinite and perceived that to the soul in Nature the Infinite must always present itself in an infinite variety of aspects. The aggressive and quite illogical idea of a single religion for all mankind, a religion universal by the very force of its narrowness, one set of dogmas, one cult, one system of ceremonies, one ecclesiastical ordinance, one array of prohibitions and injunctions which all minds must accept on peril of persecution by men and spiritual rejection or eternal punishment by God, that grotesque creation of human unreason which has been the parent of so much intolerance, cruelty and obscurantism and aggressive fanaticism, has never been able to take firm hold of the Indian mentality.
    • From an essay in A Defense of Indian Culture, as quoted in The Vision of India (1949) by Sisirkumar Mitra
  • More high-reaching, subtle, many-sided, curious and profound than the Greek, more noble and humane than the Roman, more large and spiritual than the old Egyptian, more vast and original than any other Asiatic civilization, more intellectual than the European prior to the 18th century, possessing all that these had and more, it was the most powerful, self-possessed, stimulating and wide in influence of all past human cultures.
    • The Foundations of Indian Culture (1953), p. 31
  • Indian religion has always felt that since the minds, the temperaments and the intellectual affinities of men are unlimited in their variety, a perfect liberty of thought and of worship must be allowed to the individual in his approach to the Infinite.
    • The Foundations of Indian Culture (1953), p. 147
  • There are four great events in history, the siege of Troy, the life and crucifixion of Christ, the exile of Krishna in Brindaban and the colloquy on the field of Kurukshetra. The siege of Troy created Hellas, the exile in Brindaban created devotional religion, (for before there was only meditation and worship), Christ from his cross humanized Europe, the colloquy at Kurukshetra will yet liberate humanity.
  • Even soul-force, when it is effective, destroys. Only those who have used it with eyes open, know how much more destructive it can be than the sword and the cannon; and only those who do not limit their view to the act and its immediate results, can see how tremendous are its after-effects, how much is eventually destroyed and with that much all the life that depended upon it and fed upon it. Evil cannot perish withou the destruction of much that lives by the evil, and it is no less destruction even if we personally are saved the pain of a sensational act of violence.
    • "Kurukshetra" in Essays on the Gita (1995), p. 39
  • The seers of ancient India had, in their experiments and efforts at spiritual training and the conquest of the body, perfected a discovery which in its importance to the future of human knowledge dwarfs the divinations of Newton and Galileo, even the discovery of the inductive and experimental method in Science was not more momentous...
    • The Upanishads–II : Kena and Other Upanishads (2001), p. 355

New Lamps for Old (1893)

Originally published as nine articles in the Indu Prakash a Bombay daily newspaper.
We cannot afford to raise any institution to the rank of a fetish. To do so would be simply to become the slaves of our own machinery.
  • We cannot afford to raise any institution to the rank of a fetish. To do so would be simply to become the slaves of our own machinery.
    • 7 August 1893
  • Our actual enemy is not any force exterior to ourselves, but our own crying weaknesses, our cowardice, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our purblind sentimentalism.
    • 21 August 1893
  • I say, of the Congress, then, this — that its aims are mistaken, that the spirit in which it proceeds towards their accomplishment is not a spirit of sincerity and whole-heartedness, and that the methods it has chosen are not the right methods, and the leaders in whom it trusts, not the right sort of men to be leaders; — in brief, that we are at present the blind led, if not by the blind, at any rate by the one-eyed.
    • 28 August 1893
  • To play with baubles is our ambition, not to deal with grave questions in a spirit of serious energy. But while we are playing with baubles, with our Legislative Councils, our Simultaneous Examinations, our ingenious schemes for separating the judicial from the executive functions, — while we, I say, are finessing about trifles, the waters of the great deep are being stirred and that surging chaos of the primitive man over which our civilised societies are superimposed on a thin crust of convention, is being strangely and ominously agitated.
    • 4 December 1893
  • Theorist, and trifler though I may be called, I again assert as our first and holiest duty, the elevation and enlightenment of the proletariate: I again call on those nobler spirits among us who are working erroneously, it may be, but with incipient or growing sincerity and nobleness of mind, to divert their strenuous effort from the promotion of narrow class interests, from silly squabbles about offices and salaried positions, from a philanthropy laudable in itself and worthy of rational pursuit, but meagre in the range of its benevolence and ineffectual towards promoting the nearest interests of the nation, into that vaster channel through which alone the healing waters may be conducted to the lips of their ailing and tortured country.
    • 4 December 1893

The Uttarpara Address (1909)

Uttarpara, India (30 May 1909)
We speak often of the Hindu religion, of the Sanatan Dharma, but few of us really know what that religion is. Other religions are preponderatingly religions of faith and profession, but the Sanatan Dharma is life itself; it is a thing that has not so much to be believed as lived.
About many things in Hinduism I had once been inclined to believe that they were imaginations, that there was much of dream in it, much that was delusion and Maya. But now day after day I realised in the mind, I realised in the heart, I realised in the body the truths of the Hindu religion. They became living experiences to me, and things were opened to me which no material science could explain.
  • The year of detention was meant only for a year of seclusion and of training. How could anyone hold me in jail longer than was necessary for God's purpose? He had given me a word to speak and a work to do, and until that word was spoken I knew that no human power could hush me, until that work was done no human power could stop God's instrument, however weak that instrument might be or however small. Now that I have come out, even in these few minutes, a word has been suggested to me which I had no wish to speak. The thing I had in my mind He has thrown from it and what I speak is under an impulse and a compulsion.
  • I waited day and night for the voice of God within me, to know what He had to say to me, to learn what I had to do. In this seclusion the earliest realisation, the first lesson came to me. I remembered then that a month or more before my arrest, a call had come to me to put aside all activity, to go in seclusion and to look into myself, so that I might enter into closer communion with Him. I was weak and could not accept the call. My work was very dear to me and in the pride of my heart I thought that unless I was there, it would suffer or even fail and cease; therefore I would not leave it. It seemed to me that He spoke to me again and said, "The bonds you had not the strength to break, I have broken for you, because it is not my will nor was it ever my intention that that should continue. I have had another thing for you to do and it is for that I have brought you here, to teach you what you could not learn for yourself and to train you for my work." Then He placed the Gita in my hands. His strength entered into me and I was able to do the sadhana of the Gita. I was not only to understand intellectually but to realise what Sri Krishna demanded of Arjuna and what He demands of those who aspire to do His work, to be free from repulsion and desire, to do work for Him without the demand for fruit, to renounce self-will and become a passive and faithful instrument in His hands, to have an equal heart for high and low, friend and opponent, success and failure, yet not to do His work negligently. I realised what the Hindu religion meant. We speak often of the Hindu religion, of the Sanatan Dharma, but few of us really know what that religion is. Other religions are preponderatingly religions of faith and profession, but the Sanatan Dharma is life itself; it is a thing that has not so much to be believed as lived. This is the Dharma that for the salvation of humanity was cherished in the seclusion of this peninsula from of old. It is to give this religion that India is rising. She does not rise as other countries do, for self or when she is strong, to trample on the weak. She is rising to shed the eternal light entrusted to her over the world. India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great.
  • 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 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 Sri Krishna 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. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover. This was the first use of the deeper vision He gave me. I looked at the prisoners in the jail, the thieves, the murderers, the swindlers, and as I looked at them I saw Vasudeva, it was Narayana whom I found in these darkened souls and misused bodies.
  • I looked and it was not the Magistrate whom I saw, it was Vasudeva, it was Narayana who was sitting there on the bench. I looked at the Prosecuting Counsel and it was not the Counsel for the prosecution that I saw; it was Sri Krishna who sat there, it was my Lover and Friend who sat there and smiled. "Now do you fear?" He said, "I am in all men and I overrule their actions and their words. My protection is still with you and you shall not fear. This case which is brought against you, leave it in my hand. It is not for you. It was not for the trial that I brought you here but for something else. The case itself is only a means for my work and nothing more."
It is Shakti that has gone forth and entered into the people. Since long ago I have been preparing this uprising and now the time has come and it is I who will lead it to its fulfilment.
  • I knew all along what He meant for me, for I heard it again and again, always I listened to the voice within; "I am guiding, therefore fear not. Turn to your own work for which I have brought you to jail and when you come out, remember never to fear, never to hesitate. Remember that it is I who am doing this, not you nor any other. Therefore whatever clouds may come, whatever dangers and sufferings, whatever difficulties, whatever impossibilities, there is nothing impossible, nothing difficult. I am in the nation and its uprising and I am Vasudeva, I am Narayana, and what I will, shall be, not what others will. What I choose to bring about, no human power can stay."
  • You have spoken much today of my self-sacrifice and devotion to my country. I have heard that kind of speech ever since I came out of jail, but I hear it with embarrassment, with something of pain. For I know my weakness, I am a prey to my own faults and backslidings. I was not blind to them before and when they all rose up against me in seclusion, I felt them utterly. I knew them that I the man was a man of weakness, a faulty and imperfect instrument, strong only when a higher strength entered into me. Then I found myself among these young men and in many of them I discovered a mighty courage, a power of self-effacement in comparison with which I was simply nothing. I saw one or two who were not only superior to me in force and character, - very many were that, — but in the promise of that intellectual ability on which I prided myself.
  • I had many doubts before. I was brought up in England amongst foreign ideas and an atmosphere entirely foreign. About many things in Hinduism I had once been inclined to believe that they were imaginations, that there was much of dream in it, much that was delusion and Maya. But now day after day I realised in the mind, I realised in the heart, I realised in the body the truths of the Hindu religion. They became living experiences to me, and things were opened to me which no material science could explain.
  • When I approached God at that time, I hardly had a living faith in Him. The agnostic was in me, the atheist was in me, the sceptic was in me and I was not absolutely sure that there was a God at all. I did not feel His presence. Yet something drew me to the truth of the Vedas, the truth of the Gita, the truth of the Hindu religion. I felt there must be a mighty truth somewhere in this Yoga, a mighty truth in this religion based on the Vedanta.
That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose.
  • The second message came and it said, "Something has been shown to you in this year of seclusion, something about which you had your doubts and it is the truth of the Hindu religion. It is this religion that I am raising up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the Rishis, saints and Avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising up this nation to send forth my word. This is the Sanatan Dharma, this is the eternal religion which you did not really know before, but which I have now revealed to you. The agnostic and the sceptic in you have been answered, for I have given you proofs within and without you, physical and subjective, which have satisfied you. When you go forth, speak to your nation always this word, that it is for the Sanatan Dharma that they arise, it is for the world and not for themselves that they arise. I am giving them freedom for the service of the world. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists. To magnify the religion means to magnify the country. I have shown you that I am everywhere and in all men and in all things, that I am in this movement and I am not only working in those who are striving for the country but I am working also in those who oppose them and stand in their path. I am working in everybody and whatever men may think or do, they can do nothing but help in my purpose. They also are doing my work, they are not my enemies but my instruments. In all your actions you are moving forward without knowing which way you move. You mean to do one thing and you do another. You aim at a result and your efforts subserve one that is different or contrary. It is Shakti that has gone forth and entered into the people. Since long ago I have been preparing this uprising and now the time has come and it is I who will lead it to its fulfilment."
This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish.
  • That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose. This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy. It is the one religion which impresses on mankind the closeness of God to us and embraces in its compass all the possible means by which man can approach God. It is the one religion which insists every moment on the truth which all religions acknowledge that He is in all men and all things and that in Him we move and have our being. It is the one religion which enables us not only to understand and believe this truth but to realise it with every part of our being. It is the one religion which shows the world what the world is, that it is the Lila of Vasudeva. It is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our part in that Lila, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail from religion, which knows what immortality is and has utterly removed from us the reality of death.
  • This is the word that has been put into my mouth to speak to you today. What I intended to speak has been put away from me, and beyond what is given to me I have nothing to say. It is only the word that is put into me that I can speak to you. That word is now finished. I spoke once before with this force in me and I said then that this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish.

Thoughts and Aphorisms (1913)

Jnana
  • There are two allied powers in man; knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is so much of the truth seen in a distorted medium as the mind arrives at by groping, wisdom what the eye of divine vision sees in the spirit.
  • Inspiration is a slender river of brightness leaping from a vast and eternal knowledge, it exceeds reason more perfectly than reason exceeds the knowledge of the senses.
  • Late, I learned that when reason died, then Wisdom was born; before that liberation, I had only knowledge.
  • What men call knowledge, is the reasoned acceptance of false appearances. Wisdom looks behind the veil and sees.
  • When I had the dividing reason, I shrank from many things; after I had lost it in sight, I hunted through the world for the ugly and the repellent, but I could no longer find them.
  • Forgiveness is praised by the Christian and the Vaishnava, but for me, I ask, "What have I to forgive and whom?"
  • The Atheist is God playing at hide and seek with Himself; but is the Theist any other? Well, perhaps; for he has seen the shadow of God and clutched at it.
  • O Thou that lovest, strike! If Thou strike me not now, I shall know that Thou lov'st me not.
  • There is no mortality. It is only the Immortal who can die; the mortal could neither be born nor perish. There is nothing finite. It is only the Infinite who can make for Himself limits; the finite can have no beginning nor end, for the very act of conceiving its beginning and end declares its infinity.
  • Sin and virtue are a game of resistance we play with God in His efforts to draw us towards perfection. The sense of virtue helps us to cherish our sins in secret.
  • A thought is an arrow shot at the truth; it can hit a point, but not cover the whole target. But the archer is too well satisfied with his success to ask anything farther.
  • Genius discovers a system; average talent stereotypes it till it is shattered by fresh genius. It is dangerous for an army to be led by veterans; for on the other side God may place Napoleon.
  • Open thy eyes and see what the world really is and what God; have done with vain and pleasant imaginations.
  • Hard is it to be in the world, free, yet living the life of ordinary men; but because it is hard, therefore it must be attempted and accomplished.
  • Hatred is the sign of a secret attraction that is eager to flee from itself and furious to deny its own existence. That too is God's play in His creature.
  • Live according to Nature, runs the maxim of the West; but according to what nature, the nature of the body or the nature which exceeds the body ? This first we ought to determine.
  • Evolution is not finished; reason is not the last word nor the reasoning animal the supreme figure of Nature. As man emerged out of the animal, so out of man the superman emerges.
  • When thou callest another a fool, as thou must, sometimes, yet do not forget that thou thyself hast been the supreme fool in humanity.
  • In God's providence there is no evil, but only good or its preparation.
  • Live within; be not shaken by outward happenings.
Karma
  • Hate not the oppressor, for, if he is strong, thy hate increases his force of resistance; if he is weak, thy hate was needless.
  • Very usually, altruism is only the sublimest form of selfishness.
  • Revolutions hew the past to pieces and cast it into a cauldron, but what has emerged is the old Aeson with a new visage.
  • Suffer yourself to be tempted within so that you may exhaust in the struggle your downward propensities.
  • If thou think defeat is the end of thee, then go not forth to fight, even though thou be the stronger. For Fate is not purchased by any man nor is Power bound over to her possessors. But defeat is not the end, it is only a gate or a beginning.
  • I have failed, thou sayest. Say rather that God is circling about towards His object.
  • If thy aim be great and thy means small, still act; for by action alone these can increase to thee.
  • Care not for time and success. Act out thy part, whether it be to fail or to prosper.
  • He who would win high spiritual degrees, must pass endless tests and examinations. But most are anxious only to bribe the examiner.
  • O soldier and hero of God, where for thee is sorrow or shame or suffering? For thy life is a glory, thy deeds a consecration, victory thy apotheosis, defeat thy triumph.
  • O Death, our masked friend and maker of opportunities, when thou wouldst open the gate, hesitate not to tell us beforehand; for we are not of those who are shaken by its iron jarring.
  • Watch the too indignantly righteous. Before long you will find them committing or condoning the very offence which they have so fiercely censured.
  • When thou findest thyself scorning another, look then at thy own heart and laugh at thy folly.
  • Turn all things to honey; this is the law of divine living.
  • There are two ways of avoiding the snare of woman; one is to shun all women and the other to love all beings.
  • There is nothing small in God's eyes; let there be nothing small in thine.
  • Not result is the purpose of action, but God's eternal delight in becoming, seeing and doing.
  • Rather hang thyself than belong to the horde of successful imitators.
  • What is vice but an enslaving habit and virtue but a human opinion? See God and do His will; walk in whatever path He shall trace for thy goings.
  • Only the soul that is naked and unashamed, can be pure and innocent, even as Adam was in the primal garden of humanity.
  • It is easy to distinguish the evil worked by sin and vice, but the trained eye sees also the evil done by self-righteous or self-regarding virtue.
  • What is the use of only knowing? I say to thee, Act and be, for therefore God sent thee into this human body.
  • What is the use of only being? I say to thee, Become, for therefore wast thou established as a man in this world of matter.
  • Mankind has used two powerful weapons to destroy its own powers and enjoyment, wrong indulgence and wrong abstinence.
Bhakti
  • Others boast of their love for God. My boast is that I did not love God; it was He who loved me and sought me out and forced me to belong to Him.
  • To commit adultery with God is the perfect experience for which the world was created.
  • Even when one has climbed up into those levels of bliss where pain vanishes, it still survives disguised as intolerable ecstasy.
  • When I was mounting upon ever higher crests of His joy, I asked myself whether there was no limit to the increase of bliss and almost I grew afraid of God's embraces.
  • The whole world is my seraglio and every living being and inanimate existence in it is the instrument of my rapture.
  • To thy lover, O Lord, the railing of the world is wild honey and the pelting of stones by the mob is summer rain on the body. For is it not Thou that railest and peltest, and is it not Thou in the stones that strikest and hurtest me?
  • They say, O my God, that I am mad because I see no fault in Thee; but if I am indeed mad with Thy love, I do not wish to recover my sanity.
  • I was much plagued by Satan, until I found that it was God who was tempting me; then the anguish of him passed out of my soul for ever.
  • I hated the devil and was sick with his temptations and tortures; and I could not tell why the voice in his departing words was so sweet that when he returned often and offered himself to me, it was with sorrow I refused him. Then I discovered it was Krishna at His tricks and my hate was changed into laughter.
  • A God who cannot smile, could not have created this humorous universe.
  • God took a child to fondle him in His bosom of delight; but the mother wept and would not be consoled because her child no longer existed.
  • My lover took away my robe of sin and I let it fall, rejoicing; then he plucked at my robe of virtue, but I was ashamed and alarmed and prevented him. It was not till he wrested it from me by force that I saw how my soul had been hidden from me.
  • Canst thou see God as the bodiless Infinite and yet love Him as a man loves his mistress? Then has the highest truth of the Infinite been revealed to thee. Canst thou also clothe the Infinite in one secret embraceable body and see Him seated in each and all of these bodies that are visible and sensible? Then has its widest and profoundest truth come also into thy possession.
  • Suffering makes us capable of the full force of the Master of Delight; it makes us capable also to bear the utter play of the Master of Power. Pain is the key that opens the gates of strength; it is the high-road that leads to the city of beatitude.
  • The strangest of the soul's experiences is this, that it finds, when it ceases to care for the image and threat of troubles, then the troubles themselves are nowhere to be found in one's neighbourhood. It is then that we hear from behind those unreal clouds God laughing at us.
  • God's servant is something; God's slave is greater.
  • If Hell were possible, it would be the shortest cut to the highest heaven. For verily God loveth.

Thoughts and Glimpses (1916-17)

Full text online
The Goal
  • When we have passed beyond knowings, then we shall have Knowledge. Reason was the helper; Reason is the bar.
  • When we have passed beyond willings, then we shall have Power. Effort was the helper; Effort is the bar.
  • When we have passed beyond enjoyings, then we shall have Bliss. Desire was the helper; Desire is the bar.
  • When we have passed beyond individualising, then we shall be real Persons. Ego was the helper; Ego is the bar.
  • When we have passed beyond humanity, then we shall be the Man. The Animal was the helper; the Animal is the bar.
  • Transform reason into ordered intuition; let all thyself be light. This is thy goal.
  • Transform effort into an easy and sovereign overflowing of the soul-strength; let all thyself be conscious force. This is thy goal.
  • Transform enjoying into an even and objectless ecstasy; let all thyself be bliss. This is thy goal.
  • Transform the divided individual into the world-personality; let all thyself be the divine. This is thy goal.
  • Transform the Animal into the Driver of the herds; let all thyself be Krishna. This is thy goal.
  • What I cannot do now is the sign of what I shall do hereafter. The sense of impossibility is the beginning of all possibilities. Because this temporal universe was a paradox and an impossibility, therefore the Eternal created it out of His being.
  • Impossibility is only a sum of greater unrealised possibles. It veils an advanced stage and a yet unaccomplished journey.
  • If thou wouldst have humanity advance, buffet all preconceived ideas. Thought thus smitten awakes and becomes creative. Otherwise it rests in a mechanical repetition and mistakes that for its right activity.
  • To rotate on its own axis is not the one movement for the human soul. There is also its wheeling round the Sun of an inexhaustible illumination.
  • Be conscious first of thyself within, then think and act. All living thought is a world in preparation; all real act is a thought manifested. The material world exists because an Idea began to play in divine self-consciousness.
  • Thought is not essential to existence nor its cause, but it is an instrument for becoming; I become what I see in myself. All that thought suggests to me, I can do; all that thought reveals in me, I can become. This should be man's unshakable faith in himself, because God dwells in him.
  • Not to go on for ever repeating what man has already done is our work, but to arrive at new realisations and undreamed-of masteries. Time and soul and world are given us for our field, vision and hope and creative imagination stand for our prompters, will and thought and labour are our all-effective instruments.
  • What is there new that we have yet to accomplish? Love, for as yet we have only accomplished hatred and self-pleasing; Knowledge, for as yet we have only accomplished error and perception and conceiving; Bliss, for as yet we have only accomplished pleasure and pain and indifference; Power, for as yet we have only accomplished weakness and effort and a defeated victory; Life, for as yet we have only accomplished birth and growth and dying; Unity, for as yet we have only accomplished war and association.
  • In a word, godhead; to remake ourselves in the divine image.
The Delight of Being
  • What is God after all ? An eternal child playing an eternal game in an eternal garden.
The End
  • The meeting of man and God must always mean a penetration and entry of the divine into the human and a self-immergence of man in the Divinity.
  • But that immergence is not in the nature of an annihilation. Extinction is not the fulfilment of all this search and passion, suffering and rapture. The game would never have been begun if that were to be its ending.
  • Delight is the secret. Learn of pure delight and thou shalt learn of God.
  • What then was the commencement of the whole matter ? Existence that multiplied itself for sheer delight of being and plunged into numberless trillions of forms so that it might find itself innumerably.
  • And what is the middle ? Division that strives towards a multiple unity, ignorance that labours towards a flood of varied light, pain that travails towards the touch of an unimaginable ecstasy. For all these things are dark figures and perverse vibrations.
  • And what is the end of the whole matter ? As if honey could taste itself and all its drops together and all its drops could taste each other and each the whole honeycomb as itself, so should the end be with God and the soul of man and the universe.
The Chain
  • The whole world yearns after freedom, yet each creature is in love with his chains; this is the first paradox and inextricable knot of our nature.

The Renaissance in India (1918)

First published in Arya (August 1918 - November 1918) Full text online
The physical does not get its full sense until it stands in right relation to the supra-physical...
To attempt to penetrate through the indeterminate confusion of present tendencies and first efforts in order to foresee the exact forms the new creation will take, would be an effort of very doubtful utility.
Part 1
  • On the whole what we see is a giant Shakti who awakening into a new world, a new and alien environment, finds herself shackled in all her limbs by a multitude of gross or minute bonds, bonds self-woven by her past, bonds recently imposed from outside, and is struggling to be free from them, to arise and proclaim herself, to cast abroad her spirit and set her seal on the world. We hear on every side a sound of the slow fraying of bonds, here and there a sharp tearing and snapping; but freedom of movement has not yet been attained. The eyes are not yet clear, the bud of the soul has only partly opened. The Titaness has not yet arisen.
  • Spirituality is indeed the master key of the Indian mind; the sense of the infinitive is native to it. India saw from the beginning, — and, even in her ages of reason and her age of increasing ignorance, she never lost hold of the insight, — that life cannot be rightly seen in the sole light, cannot be perfectly lived in the sole power of its externalities. She was alive to the greatness of material laws and forces; she had a keen eye for the importance of the physical sciences; she knew how to organize the arts of ordinary life. But she saw that the physical does not get its full sense until it stands in right relation to the supra-physical; she saw that the complexity of the universe could not be explained in the present terms of man or seen by his superficial sight, that there were other powers behind, other powers within man himself of which he is normally unaware, that he is conscious only of a small part of himself, that the invisible always surrounds the visible, the supra-sensible the sensible, even as infinity always surrounds the finite. She saw too that man has the power of exceeding himself, of becoming himself more entirely and profoundly than he is, — truths which have only recently begun to be seen in Europe and seem even now too great for its common intelligence.
    She saw the myriad gods, and beyond God his own ineffable eternity; she saw that there were ranges of life beyond our present life, ranges of mind beyond our present mind and above these she saw the splendors of the spirit. Then with that calm audacity of her intuition which knew no fear or littleness and shrank from no act whether of spiritual or intellectual, ethical or vital courage, she declared that there was none of these things which man could not attain if he trained his will and knowledge; he could conquer these ranges of mind, become the spirit, become a god, become one with God, become the ineffable Brahman.
  • The Spirit is a higher infinite of verities; life is a lower infinite of possibilities which seek to grow and find their own truth and fulfilment in the light of these verities. Our intellect, our will, our ethical and our aesthetic being are the reflectors and the mediators. The method of the West is to exaggerate life and to call down as much — or as little — as may be of the higher powers to stimulate and embellish life.
    But the method of India is on the contrary to discover the spirit within and the higher hidden intensities of the superior powers and to dominate life in one way or another so as to make it responsive to and expressive of the spirit and in that way increase the power of life. Its tendency with the intellect, will, ethical, aesthetic and emotional being is to sound indeed their normal mental possibilities, but also to upraise them towards the greater light and power of their own highest intuitions.
Part 2
  • Nothing in the many processes of Nature, whether she deals with men or with things, comes by chance or accident or is really at the mercy of external causes.
Part 3
Religions, creeds and forms are only a characteristic outward sign of the spiritual impulsion and religion itself is the intensive action by which it tries to find its inward force. Its expansive movement comes in the thought which it throws out on life, the ideals which open up new horizons and which the intellect accepts and life labours to assimilate.
  • To attempt to penetrate through the indeterminate confusion of present tendencies and first efforts in order to foresee the exact forms the new creation will take, would be an effort of very doubtful utility. One might as well try to forecast a harmony from the sounds made by the tuning of the instrument. In one direction or another we may just detect certain decisive indications, but even these are only first indications and we may be quite sure that much lies behind them that will go far beyond anything that they yet suggest. This is true whether in religion and spirituality or thought and science, poetry and art or society and politics. Everywhere there is, at most, only a beginning of beginnings.
  • One thing seems at any rate certain, that the spiritual motive will be in the future of India, as in her past, the real originative and dominating strain. By spirituality we do not mean a remote metaphysical mind or the tendency to dream rather than to act. That was not the great India of old in her splendid days of vigour, — whatever certain European critics or interpreters of her culture may say, — and it will not be the India of the future. Metaphysical thinking will always no doubt be a strong element in her mentality, and it is to be hoped that she will never lose her great, her sovereign powers in that direction...
  • Religions, creeds and forms are only a characteristic outward sign of the spiritual impulsion and religion itself is the intensive action by which it tries to find its inward force. Its expansive movement comes in the thought which it throws out on life, the ideals which open up new horizons and which the intellect accepts and life labours to assimilate.
  • India is the meeting-place of the religions and among these Hinduism alone is by itself a vast and complex thing, not so much a religion as a great diversified and yet subtly unified mass of spiritual thought, realisation and aspiration. What will finally come out of all this stir and ferment, lies yet in the future.
Part 4
  • Nor does spirituality mean the moulding of the whole type of the national being to suit the limited dogmas, forms, tenets of a particular religion, as was often enough attempted by the old societies, an idea which still persists in many minds by the power of old mental habit and association; clearly such an attempt would be impossible, even if it were desirable, in a country full of the most diverse religious opinions and harbouring too three such distinct general forms as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, to say nothing of the numerous special forms to which each of these has given birth.
  • Spirituality is much wider than any particular religion, and in the larger ideas of it that are now coming on us even the greatest religion becomes no more than a broad sect or branch of the one universal religion, by which we shall understand in the future man's seeking for the eternal, the divine, the greater self, the source of unity and his attempt to arrive at some equation, some increasing approximation of the values of human life with the eternal and the divine values.
  • Spirit without mind, spirit without body is not the type of man, therefore a human spirituality must not belittle the mind, life or body or hold them of small account: it will rather hold them of high account, of immense importance, precisely because they are the conditions and instruments of the life of the spirit in man.
True spirituality rejects no new light, no added means or materials of our human self-development.
  • Spirituality is not necessarily exclusive; it can be and in its fullness must be all-inclusive.
    But still there is a great difference between the spiritual and the purely material and mental view of existence. The spiritual view holds that the mind, life, body are man's means and not his aims and even that they are not his last and highest means; it sees them as his outer instrumental self and not his whole being. It sees the infinite behind all things finite and it adjudges the value of the finite by higher infinite values of which they are the imperfect translation and towards which, to a truer expression of them, they are always trying to arrive. It sees a greater reality than the apparent not only behind man and the world, but within man and the world, and this soul, self, divine thing in man it holds to be that in him which is of the highest importance, that which everything else in him must try in whatever way to bring out and express, and this soul, self, divine presence in the world it holds to be that which man has ever to try to see and recognise through all appearances, to unite his thought and life with it and in it to find his unity with his fellows. This alters necessarily our whole normal view of things; even in preserving all the aims of human life, it will give them a different sense and direction.
  • India can best develop herself and serve humanity by being herself and following the law of her own nature. This does not mean, as some narrowly and blindly suppose, the rejection of everything new that comes to us in the stream of Time or happens to have been first developed or powerfully expressed by the West. Such an attitude would be intellectually absurd, physically impossible, and above all unspiritual; true spirituality rejects no new light, no added means or materials of our human self-development. It means simply to keep our centre, our essential way of being, our inborn nature and assimilate to it all we receive, and evolve out of it all we do and create.
  • Perhaps there was too much of religion in one sense; the word is English, smacks too much of things external such as creeds, rites, an external piety; there is no one Indian equivalent. But if we give rather to religion the sense of the following of the spiritual impulse in its fullness and define spirituality as the attempt to know and live in the highest self, the divine, the all-embracing unity and to raise life in all its parts to the divinest possible values, then it is evident that there was not too much of religion, but rather too little of it — and in what there was, a too one-sided and therefore an insufficiently ample tendency. The right remedy is, not to belittle still farther the agelong ideal of India, but to return to its old amplitude and give it a still wider scope, to make in very truth all the life of the nation a religion in this high spiritual sense. This is the direction in which the philosophy, poetry, art of the West is, still more or less obscurely, but with an increasing light, beginning to turn, and even some faint glints of the truth are beginning now to fall across political and sociological ideals.

Indian Spirituality and Life (1919)

Originally published in Arya (August - December 1919)Full text online
The highest spirituality indeed moves in a free and wide air far above that lower stage of seeking which is governed by religious form and dogma; it does not easily bear their limitations and, even when it admits, it transcends them; it lives in an experience which to the formal religious mind is unintelligible.
Chapter 1 (August 1919)
  • The highest spirituality indeed moves in a free and wide air far above that lower stage of seeking which is governed by religious form and dogma; it does not easily bear their limitations and, even when it admits, it transcends them; it lives in an experience which to the formal religious mind is unintelligible. But man does not arrive immediately at that highest inner elevation and, if it were demanded from him at once, he would never arrive there. At first he needs lower supports and stages of ascent; he asks for some scaffolding of dogma, worship, image, sign, form, symbol, some indulgence and permission of mixed half-natural motive on which he can stand while he builds up in him the temple of the spirit. Only when the temple is completed, can the supports be removed, the scaffolding disappear. The religious culture which now goes by the name of Hinduism not only fulfilled this purpose, but, unlike certain credal religions, it knew its purpose. It gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the Godward endeavour of the human spirit. An immense many-sided many-staged provision for a spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal religion, Sanâtana Dharma. It is only if we have a just and right appreciation of this sense and spirit of Indian religion that we can come to an understanding of the true sense and spirit of Indian culture.
  • How can there be a religion which has no rigid dogmas demanding belief on pain of eternal damnation, no theological postulates, even no fixed theology, no credo distinguishing it from antagonistic or rival religions? How can there be a religion which has no papal head, no governing ecclesiastic body, no church, chapel or congregational system, no binding religious form of any kind obligatory on all its adherents, no one administration and discipline? For the Hindu priests are mere ceremonial officiants without any ecclesiastical authority or disciplinary powers and the Pundits are mere interpreters of the Shastra, not the lawgivers of the religion or its rulers. How again can Hinduism be called a religion when it admits all beliefs, allowing even a kind of high-reaching atheism and agnosticism and permits all possible spiritual experiences, all kinds of religious adventures? The only thing fixed, rigid, positive, clear is the social law, and even that varies in different castes, regions, communities. The caste rules and not the Church; but even the caste cannot punish a man for his beliefs, ban heterodoxy or prevent his following a new revolutionary doctrine or a new spiritual leader.
The supreme truths are neither the rigid conclusions of logical reasoning nor the affirmations of credal statement, but fruits of the soul's inner experience.
  • To the Indian mind the least important part of religion is its dogma; the religious spirit matters, not the theological credo. On the contrary to the Western mind a fixed intellectual belief is the most important part of a cult; it is its core of meaning, it is the thing that distinguishes it from others. For it is its formulated beliefs that make it either a true or a false religion, according as it agrees or does not agree with the credo of its critic. This notion, however foolish and shallow, is a necessary consequence of the Western idea which falsely supposes that intellectual truth is the highest verity and, even, that there is no other. The Indian religious thinker knows that all the highest eternal verities are truths of the spirit. The supreme truths are neither the rigid conclusions of logical reasoning nor the affirmations of credal statement, but fruits of the soul's inner experience. Intellectual truth is only one of the doors to the outer precincts of the temple. And since intellectual truth turned towards the Infinite must be in its very nature many-sided and not narrowly one, the most varying intellectual beliefs can be equally true because they mirror different facets of the Infinite. However separated by intellectual distance, they still form so many side-entrances which admit the mind to some faint ray from a supreme Light. There are no true and false religions, but rather all religions are true in their own way and degree. Each is one of the thousand paths to the One Eternal.
  • The fundamental idea of all Indian religion is one common to the highest human thinking everywhere. The supreme truth of all that is is a Being or an existence beyond the mental and physical appearances we contact here. Beyond mind, life and body there is a Spirit and Self containing all that is finite and infinite, surpassing all that is relative, a supreme Absolute, originating and supporting all that is transient, a one Eternal. A one transcendent, universal, original and sempiternal Divinity or divine Essence, Consciousness, Force and Bliss is the fount and continent and inhabitant of things.
    Soul, nature, life are only a manifestation or partial phenomenon of this self-aware Eternity and this conscious Eternal.
  • The Infinite alone justifies the existence of the finite and the finite by itself has no entirely separate value or independent existence. Life, if it is not an illusion, is a divine Play, a manifestation of the glory of the Infinite. Or it is a means by which the soul growing in Nature through countless forms and many lives can approach, touch, feel and unite itself through love and knowledge and faith and adoration and a Godward will in works with this transcendent Being and this infinite Existence.
    This Self or this self-existent Being is the one supreme reality, and all things else are either only appearances or only true by dependence upon it. It follows that self-realisation and God-realisation are the great business of the living and thinking human being. All life and thought are in the end a means of progress towards self-realisation and God-realisation.
  • Indian religion never considered intellectual or theological conceptions about the supreme Truth to be the one thing of central importance. To pursue that Truth under whatever conception or whatever form, to attain to it by inner experience, to live in it in consciousness, this it held to be the sole thing needful. One school or sect might consider the real self of man to be indivisibly one with the universal Self or the supreme Spirit. Another might regard man as one with the Divine in essence but different from him in Nature. A third might hold God, Nature and the individual soul in man to be three eternally different powers of being. But for all the truth of Self held with equal force; for even to the Indian dualist God is the supreme self and reality in whom and by whom Nature and man live, move and have their being and, if you eliminate God from his view of things, Nature and man would lose for him all their meaning and importance. The Spirit, universal Nature (whether called Maya, Prakriti or Shakti) and the soul in living beings, Jiva, are the three truths which are universally admitted by all the many religious sects and conflicting religious philosophies of India. Universal also is the admission that the discovery of the inner spiritual self in man, the divine soul in him, and some kind of living and uniting contact or absolute unity of the soul in man with God or supreme Self or eternal Brahman is the condition of spiritual perfection. It is open to us to conceive and have experience of the Divine as an impersonal Absolute and Infinite or to approach and know and feel Him as a transcendent and universal sempiternal Person: but whatever be our way of reaching him, the one important truth of spiritual experience is that he is in the heart and centre of all existence and all existence is in him and to find him is the great self-finding.
  • Differences of credal belief are to the Indian mind nothing more than various ways of seeing the one Self and Godhead in all. Self-realisation is the one thing needful; to open to the inner Spirit, to live in the Infinite, to seek after and discover the Eternal, to be in union with God, that is the common idea and aim of religion, that is the sense of spiritual salvation, that is the living Truth that fulfils and releases. This dynamic following after the highest spiritual truth and the highest spiritual aim are the uniting bond of Indian religion and, behind all its thousand forms, its one common essence.
  • Nothing can be more untrue than to pretend that the general religious mind of India has not at all grasped the higher spiritual or metaphysical truths of Indian religion. It is a sheer falsehood or a wilful misunderstanding to say that it has lived always in the externals only of rite and creed and shibboleth. On the contrary, the main metaphysical truths of Indian religious philosophy in their broad idea-aspects or in an intensely poetic and dynamic representation have been stamped on the general mind of the people. The ideas of Maya, Lila, divine Immanence are as familiar to the man in the street and the worshipper in the temple as to the philosopher in his seclusion, the monk in his monastery and the saint in his hermitage. The spiritual reality which they reflect, the profound experience to which they point, has permeated the religion, the literature, the art, even the popular religious songs of a whole people.

Savitri (1918 - 1950)

Full text online

Book One : The Book Of Beginnings

It was the hour before the Gods awake.
Across the path of the divine Event
The huge foreboding mind of Night, alone
In her unlit temple of eternity,
Lay stretched immobile upon Silence' marge.
Canto One: The Symbol Dawn
  • It was the hour before the Gods awake.
    Across the path of the divine Event
    The huge foreboding mind of Night, alone
    In her unlit temple of eternity,
    Lay stretched immobile upon Silence' marge.

    Almost one felt, opaque, impenetrable,
    In the sombre symbol of her eyeless muse
    The abysm of the unbodied Infinite;
    A fathomless zero occupied the world.
The impassive skies were neutral, empty, still.
Then something in the inscrutable darkness stirred
  • The impassive skies were neutral, empty, still.
    Then something in the inscrutable darkness stirred;
    A nameless movement, an unthought Idea
    Insistent, dissatisfied, without an aim,
    Something that wished but knew not how to be,
    Teased the Inconscient to wake Ignorance.
  • It was as though even in this Nought's profound,
    Even in this ultimate dissolution's core,
    There lurked an unremembering entity,
    Survivor of a slain and buried past
    Condemned to resume the effort and the pang,
    Reviving in another frustrate world.
One lucent corner windowing hidden things
Forced the world's blind immensity to sight.
The darkness failed and slipped like a falling cloak
From the reclining body of a god.
  • Insensibly somewhere a breach began:
    A long lone line of hesitating hue
    Like a vague smile tempting a desert heart
    Troubled the far rim of life's obscure sleep.
    Arrived from the other side of boundlessness
    An eye of deity peered through the dumb deeps;
    A scout in a reconnaissance from the sun,
    It seemed amid a heavy cosmic rest,
    The torpor of a sick and weary world,
    To seek for a spirit sole and desolate
    Too fallen to recollect forgotten bliss.
  • All can be done if the god-touch is there.
  • One lucent corner windowing hidden things
    Forced the world's blind immensity to sight.
    The darkness failed and slipped like a falling cloak
    From the reclining body of a god.
  • Then through the pallid rift that seemed at first
    Hardly enough for a trickle from the suns,
    Outpoured the revelation and the flame.
    The brief perpetual sign recurred above.
    A glamour from unreached transcendences
    Iridescent with the glory of the Unseen,
    A message from the unknown immortal Light
    Ablaze upon creation's quivering edge,
    Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
    And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.
In colour's hieroglyphs of mystic sense,
It wrote the lines of a significant myth
Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns,
A brilliant code penned with the sky for page.
  • An instant's visitor the godhead shone.
    On life's thin border awhile the Vision stood
    And bent over earth's pondering forehead curve.
    Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss
    In colour's hieroglyphs of mystic sense,
    It wrote the lines of a significant myth
    Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns,
    A brilliant code penned with the sky for page.

Book Two : The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds

Canto 8 : The World of Falsehood, the Mother of Evil and the Sons of Darkness
  • As in a studio of creative Death
    The giant sons of Darkness sit and plan
    The drama of the earth, their tragic stage.
    All who would raise the fallen world must come
    Under the dangerous arches of their power;
    For even the radiant children of the gods
    To darken their privilege is and dreadful right.
    None can reach heaven who has not passed through hell.

    This too the traveller of the worlds must dare.

Canto 11 : The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Mind
A memory steals in from lost heavens of Truth,
A wide release comes near, a Glory calls,
A might looks out, an estranged felicity.
  • An errant ray from the immortal Mind
    Accepted the earth's blindness and became
    Our human thought, servant of Ignorance.
    An exile, labourer on this unsure globe
    Captured and driven in Life's nescient grasp,
    Hampered by obscure cell and treacherous nerve,
    It dreams of happier states and nobler powers,
    The natural privilege of unfallen gods,
    Recalling still its old lost sovereignty.
    Amidst earth's mist and fog and mud and stone
    It still remembers its exalted sphere
    And the high city of its splendid birth.
  • A memory steals in from lost heavens of Truth,
    A wide release comes near, a Glory calls,
    A might looks out, an estranged felicity.

    In glamorous passages of half-veiled light
    Wandering, a brilliant shadow of itself,
    This quick uncertain leader of blind gods,
    This tender of small lamps, this minister serf
    Hired by a mind and body for earth-use
    Forgets its work mid crude realities;
    It recovers its renounced imperial right,
    It wears once more a purple robe of thought
    And knows itself the Ideal's seer and king,
    Communicant and prophet of the Unborn,
    Heir to delight and immortality.
    All things are real that here are only dreams,
    In our unknown depths sleeps their reserve of truth,
    On our unreached heights they reign and come to us
    In thought and muse trailing their robes of light.

Lights on Yoga (1935)

  • The way of yoga followed here has a different purpose from others, — for its aim is not only to rise out of the ordinary ignorant world-consciousness into the divine consciousness, but to bring the supramental power of that divine consciousness down into the ignorance of mind, life and body, to transform them, to manifest the Divine here and create a divine life in Matter.

India's Rebirth

India's Rebirth : A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writings, talks and speeches 3rd Edition (2000) Full text online
India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples.
  • India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples. And that which must seek now to awake is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma.
    • Dedication page.
  • The deeper we look, the more we shall be convinced that the one thing wanting, which we must strive to acquire before all others, is strength — strength physical, strength mental, strength moral, but above all strength spiritual which is the one inexhaustible and imperishable source of all the others. If we have strength everything else will be added to us easily and naturally.
    • 1905
  • If India is to survive, she must be made young again. Rushing and billowing streams of energy must be poured into her; her soul must become, as it was in the old times, like the surges, vast, puissant, calm or turbulent at will, an ocean of action or of force.
    • 1905
We need a nucleus of men in whom the Shakti is developed to its uttermost extent, in whom it fills every corner of the personality and overflows to fertilise the earth. These, having the fire of Bhawani in their hearts and brains, will go forth and carry the flame to every nook and cranny of our land.
  • Many of us, utterly overcome by Tamas, the dark and heavy demon of inertia, are saying nowadays that it is impossible, that India is decayed, bloodless and lifeless, too weak ever to recover; that our race is doomed to extinction. It is a foolish and idle saying. No man or nation need be weak unless he chooses, no man or nation need perish unless he deliberately chooses extinction.
    • 1905
  • We have to create strength where it did not exist before; we have to change our natures, and become new men with new hearts, to be born again ... We need a nucleus of men in whom the Shakti is developed to its uttermost extent, in whom it fills every corner of the personality and overflows to fertilise the earth. These, having the fire of Bhawani in their hearts and brains, will go forth and carry the flame to every nook and cranny of our land.
    • 1905
  • There are periods in the history of the world when the unseen Power that guides its destinies seems to be filled with a consuming passion for change and a strong impatience of the old. The Great Mother, the Adya Shakti, has resolved to take the nations into Her hand and shape them anew. These are periods of rapid destruction and energetic creation, filled with the sound of cannon and the trampling of armies, the crash of great downfalls, and the turmoil of swift and violent revolutions; the world is thrown into the smelting pot and comes out in a new shape and with new features. They are periods when the wisdom of the wise is confounded and the prudence of the prudent turned into a laughing-stock....
    • 16 April 1907
  • It is the nature of human institutions to degenerate, to lose their vitality, and decay, and the first sign of decay is the loss of flexibility and oblivion of the essential spirit in which they were conceived. The spirit is permanent, the body changes; and a body which refuses to change must die. The spirit expresses itself in many ways while itself remaining essentially the same but the body must change to suit its changing environments if it wishes to live. There is no doubt that the institution of caste degenerated. It ceased to be determined by spiritual qualifications which, once essential, have now come to be subordinate and even immaterial and is determined by the purely material tests of occupation and birth. By this change it has set itself against the fundamental tendency of Hinduism which is to insist on the spiritual and subordinate the material and thus lost most of its meaning. The spirit of caste arrogance, exclusiveness and superiority came to dominate it instead of the spirit of duty, and the change weakened the nation and helped to reduce us to our present conditions.
    • 22 September 1907
  • Whatever plans we may make, we shall find quite useless when the time for action comes. Revolutions are always full of surprises, and whoever thinks he can play chess with a revolution will soon find how terrible is the grasp of God and how insignificant the human reason before the whirlwind of His breath. That man only is likely to dominate the chances of a Revolution, who makes no plans but preserves his heart pure for the will of God to declare itself. The great rule of life is to have no schemes but one unalterable purpose. If the will is fixed on the purpose it sets itself to accomplish, then circumstances will suggest the right course; but the schemer finds himself always tripped up by the unexpected.
    • 22 February 1908
You say that you ask only for the Truth and yet you speak like a narrow and ignorant fanatic who refuses to believe in anything but the religion in which he was born. All fanaticism is false, because it is a contradiction of the very nature of God and of Truth. Truth cannot be shut up in a single book, Bible or Veda or Koran, or in a single religion.
  • There are times of great change, times when old landmarks are being upset, when submerged forces are rising, and just as we deal promptly or linger over the solution of these problems, our progress will be rapid or slow, sound or broken... The problem is put to us one by one, to each nation one by one... He has shown us the possibility of strength within us, and then He has shown us where the danger, the weakness lies. He is pointing out to us how is it that we may become strong. On us it lies ... to answer the question which God has put to us, and according as we answer on it depends how this movement will progress, what route it will take, and whether it will lead to a swift and sudden salvation, or whether, after so many centuries of tribulation and sufferings there is still a long period of tribulation and suffering before us. God has put the question to us and with us entirely it lies to answer.
    • 23 June 1909
  • There are particular movements in particular epochs in which the Divine Force manifests itself with supreme power shattering all human calculations, making a mock of the prudence of the careful statesman and the scheming politician, falsifying the prognostications of the scientific analyser and advancing with a vehemence and velocity which is obviously the manifestation of a higher than human force. The intellectual man afterwards tries to trace the reasons for the movement and lay bare the forces that made it possible, but at the time he is utterly at fault, his wisdom is falsified at every step and his science serves him not. These are the times when we say God is in the movement, He is its leader and it must fulfil itself however impossible it may be for man to see the means by which it will succeed.
    • 17 July 1909
You cannot shut up God in the limitations of your own narrow brain or dictate to the Divine Power and Consciousness how or where or through whom it shall manifest; you cannot put up your puny barriers against the divine Omnipotence.
  • Terrorism thrives on administrative violence and injustice; that is the only atmosphere in which it can thrive and grow. It sometimes follows the example of indiscriminate violence from above; it sometimes, though very rarely, sets it from below. But the power above which follows the example from below is on the way to committing suicide.
    • 24 July 1909
  • You say that you ask only for the Truth and yet you speak like a narrow and ignorant fanatic who refuses to believe in anything but the religion in which he was born. All fanaticism is false, because it is a contradiction of the very nature of God and of Truth. Truth cannot be shut up in a single book, Bible or Veda or Koran, or in a single religion. The Divine Being is eternal and universal and infinite and cannot be the sole property of the Mussulmans or of the Semitic religions only, — those that happened to be in a line from the Bible and to have Jewish or Arabian prophets for their founders. Hindus and Confucians and Taoists and all others have as much right to enter into relation with God and find the Truth in their own way. All religions have some truth in them, but none has the whole truth; all are created in time and finally decline and perish. Mahomed himself never pretended that the Koran was the last message of God and there would be no other. God and Truth outlast these religions and manifest themselves anew in whatever way or form the Divine Wisdom chooses. You cannot shut up God in the limitations of your own narrow brain or dictate to the Divine Power and Consciousness how or where or through whom it shall manifest; you cannot put up your puny barriers against the divine Omnipotence. These again are simple truths which are now being recognised all over the world; only the childish in mind or those who vegetate in some formula of the past deny them.
    • 23 October 1929

Quotes about Aurobindo

  • I attribute the spread of seditious doctrines to him personally in a greater degree than to any other single individual in Bengal, or possibly in India.
    • Sir Edward Baker, Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal
  • In my undergraduate days Aurobindo Ghose was easily the most popular leader in Bengal, despite his voluntary exile and absence since 1910. His was a name to conjure with. He had sacrificed a lucrative career in order to devote himself to politics. On the Congress platform he had stood up as a champion of left-wing thought and fearless advocate of independence at a time when most of the leaders, would talk... only of colonial self-government. He had undergone incarceration with perfect equanimity ... When I came to Calcutta, in 1913, Aurobindo was already a legendary figure. Rarely have I seen people speak of a leader with such rapturous enthusiasm and many were the anecdotes of this great man, some of them probably true, which travelled from mouth to mouth ... his letters would pass rapidly from hand to hand, specially in circles interested in spirituality-cum-politics. In our circle usually somebody would read the letter aloud and the rest of us would enthuse over it ... We felt convinced that spiritual enlightenment was necessary for effective national service.
    • Subhas Chandra Bose, a leader of the struggle for India's independence, President of the Indian National Congress, and founder of the Indian National Army.
  • Long after this controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, this agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India, but across distant seas and lands.
  • The most dangerous man we have to deal with at present.
  • While Tagore awakened the latent music in me, another Indian Sri Aurobindo, brought me to religion. He opened the way to my religious consecration. Indeed my debt to India is very great and is due in part to Tagore and in part to Sri Aurobindo.
    • Gabriela Mistral, Chilean educator, diplomat and writer, awarded Nobel Prize for literature in 1945.
  • Sri Aurobindo, the Master, the highest of mystics, happily presents the rare phenomenon an exposition clear as a beautiful diamond, without the danger of confounding the layman. This is possible because Sri Aurobindo is a unique synthesis of a scholar, theologian and one who is enlightened...
  • Sri Aurobindo's epic Savitri has already inaugurated the New Age of Illumination and is probably the greatest epic in the English language... The most comprehensive, integrated, beautiful and perfect cosmic poem ever composed. It is perhaps the most powerful artistic work in the world for expanding man's mind towards the Absolute.
    • Dr. Raymond Piper, Profesor of Philosophy at Syracuse University
  • Sri Aurobindo is one of the greatest thinkers of Modern India ... the most complete synthesis achieved upto the present between the genius of the West and the East... The last of the great Rishis holds in his outstretched hands, the bow of Creative Inspiration.
    • Romain Rolland French writer, awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1915
  • From a scientific and philosophical standpoint the works of Sri Aurobindo are a sound antidote to the pseudo-scientific psychology and psychiatry and educational art of the West. Sri Aurobindo's `The Life Divine' and Yoga treatises are among the most important works of our times in philosophy, ethics and humanities. Sri Aurobindo himself is one of the greatest living sages of our time, the most eminent moral leader.
    • Pithrim Sorokin, Russian sociologist, Professor of Sociology at the University of Leningrad, and later at Minnesota and Harvard.
  • At the very first sight I could realise he had been seeking for the Soul and had gained it, and through this long process of realisation had accumulated within him a silent power of inspiration. His face was radiant with an inner light...
  • I felt the utterance of the ancient Hindu Rishis spoke from him of that equanimity which gives the human Soul its freedom of entrance into the All. I said to him, "You have the word and we are waiting to accept it from you. India will speak through your voice to the world, Hearken to me ... O Aurobindo, accept the salutations from Rabindranath."
  • As in the past China was spiritually conquered by a great Indian, so in the future too she would be conquered by another great Indian, Sri Aurobindo, the Maha-Yogi who, "is the bringer of that light which will chase away the darkness that envelops the world to-day."
    • Tan Yun-Shan, Director of Chinese studies at Visva-Bharati University, China's cultural Ambassador to India in 1939.
  • Of all modern Indian writers Aurobindo — successively poet, critic, scholar, thinker, nationalist, humanist — is the most significant and perhaps the most interesting ... In fact, he is a new type of thinker, one who combines in his vision the alacrity of the West with the illumination of the East. To study his writings is to enlarge the boundaries of one's knowledge ... He is blessed with a keen intuition. He knows that a man may be right and not wise. He treats each word of his as though it were a drop of elixir. In all this he is unique — at least in modern India. ... a yogi who writes as though he were standing among the stars, with the constellations for his companions.
    • Review of Collected Poems and Plays in the Times Literary Supplement [London] (8 July 1944)
  • Sri Aurobindo is no visionary. He has always acted his dreams ... So from individual self-discipline he has gone to the life of humanity. The Psychology of Social Development, Ideals and Progress and The Ideal of Human Unity should be carefully considered by all those who are busy preparing blue-prints for the future.
    • Times Literary Supplement [London]

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