Sri Aurobindo



Average: 3.8 (150 votes)
Fast Facts
aurobindo.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Aurobindo Ghose
Function: 
Mystic
Traditions: 
Integral Yoga
Main Countries of Activity: 
India
Date of Birth: 
August 15, 1872
Place of Birth: 
Calcutta, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
December 5, 1950

Biography

Sri Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist, scholar, poet, mystic, evolutionary philosopher, yogi and guru.

Early Life

Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta on 15 August 1872. At the age of seven he was taken to England for his education. There he studied at St. Paul's School, London, and at King's College, Cambridge.

Returning to India in 1893, he worked for the next thirteen years in the Princely State of Baroda in the service of the Maharaja and as a professor in the state's college.

Political Career

In 1906 Sri Aurobindo quit his post in Baroda and went to Calcutta, where he became one of the leaders of the Indian nationalist movement. As editor of the newspaper Bande Mataram, he boldly put forward the idea of complete independence from Britain. Arrested three times for sedition or treason, he was released each time for lack of evidence.

During this short political career, he became one of the leaders of the early movement for the freedom of India from British rule.

Turning to Spirituality

At some point, in 1905, Sri Aurobindo began the practice of Yoga . Within a few years he achieved several fundamental spiritual realizations.

In 1910 he withdrew from politics completely and went to Pondicherry in French India in order to concentrate on his inner life and spiritual work. During his forty years there, he developed a new spiritual path, the Integral Yoga, whose ultimate aim is the transformation of life by the power of a supramental consciousness.

The Mother

Sri Aurobindo's close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Richard (born Mirra Alfassa), was known as The Mother. She was born in Paris on February 21, 1878, to Turkish and Egyptian Jewish 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.

Death and Aftermath

Sri Aurobindo passed away on 5 December 1950.

After Aurobindo's death, The Mother continued their spiritual work and directed the Ashram and guided their disciples. In the mid 1960s she started Auroville, an international township sponsored 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 1700 members from 35 countries.

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.

Aurobindo's vision of life is presented in numerous works of prose and poetry, among which the best known are The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga and Savitri.

Teachings

Integral Yoga

The main teachings of Sri Aurobindo are consolidated under the name Integral Yoga (or Purna Yoga, Sanskrit for full or complete yoga, sometimes also called Supramental Yoga). Integral Yoga refers to the process of the union of all parts of one's being with the Divine, and the transmutation of all of their jarring elements into a harmonious state of higher divine consciousness and existence.

Sri Aurobindo initiated and defined Integral Yoga in the early 1900s as:

A path of integral seeking of the Divine by which all that we are is in the end liberated out of the Ignorance and its undivine formations into a truth beyond the Mind, a truth not only of highest spiritual status but of a dynamic spiritual self-manifestation in the universe.

Whereas Sri Aurobindo and the Mother taught that surrendering to the ‘higher' consciousness was one of the most important processes of the Integral Yoga, they did not establish a universal definitive method for every practitioner of the yoga, due to the individual differences. Both left the open-ended question as to how the supramental consciousness would act and establish itself in Earthly life.

Most yogas only develop a single aspect of the being, and have as their aim a state of liberation or transcendence. The aim of Integral Yoga is the transformation of the entire being. Because of this, the various elements of one's make-up - Physical, Vital, Mental, Psychic, and Spiritual, and the means of their transformation, are described in great detail by Sri Aurobindo, who in this way formulates an entire integral psychology. The goal is then the transformation of the entire nature of one's being. Nothing is left behind.

Supermind

Sri Aurobindo considered man's present mental consciousness to be a transitional stage in terrestrial evolution, and that our civilization is at the brink of an evolutionary leap or shift towards a greater or ‘supramental' experience and capacity.

With regard to supermind and mind Sri Aurobindo wrote,

There is an eternal dynamic Truth-consciousness beyond mind; this is what we call supermind or gnosis. For mind is or can be a truth seeker, but not truth-conscious in its inherent nature; its original stuff is made not of knowledge, but of ignorance.

Sri Aurobindo considered the supermind to be an all-organizing and all-coordinating principle of truth-consciousness secretly involved in the material creation and he saw its emergence as the next logical and inevitable step in terrestrial evolution.

Dangers on the path - The Intermediate Zone

Intermediate zone refers to what is described as a spiritually dangerous and misleading transitional spiritual and pseudo-spiritual region between the ordinary consciousness of the outer being and true spiritual realization.

This is in fact an intermediary state, a zone of transition between the ordinary consciousness in mind and the true yoga knowledge. One may cross without hurt through it, perceiving at once or at an early stage its real nature and refusing to be detained by its half-lights and tempting but imperfect and often mixed and misleading experiences; one may go astray in it, follow false voices and mendacious guidance, and that ends in a spiritual disaster; or one may take up one’s abode in this intermediate zone, care to go no farther and build there some half-truth which one takes for the whole truth or become the instrument of the powers of these transitional planes, - that is what happens to many sadhaks and yogis.

– Sri Aurobindo, The Riddle of the World, 36-7

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo's Teaching & Method of Practice

by Sri Aurobindo

(Paperback)

One of the foremost Indian philosophers of the twentieth century, Sri Aurobindo was also a political activist, a mystic and a spiritual leader. Between 1927 and 1950, Sri Aurobindo remained in seclusion while perfecting a new kind of spiritual practice he called the Integral Yoga. During this period he gave detailed guidance to disciples and seekers, responding to thousands of inquiries. This correspondence constitutes a major body of work on the practice of yoga-sadhana. The present volume brings together a comprehensive selection of Sri Aurobindos letters, organized by area of interest. An ideal introduction to his work and vision, it will also serve as an invaluable daily handbook for seekers of all paths - beginners and experienced practitioners alike.

Pro Opinions

Helped many

dabka's picture

Aurobindo and the mother helped many seekers including from the west. His integral yoga is interesting.

great job

vaibhav's picture

The best ever philosophy I have read. It answered with utmost excellency the unanswered questions. It perfectly describe the purpose of creation.

Annie's picture

difficult

I myself must admit that I found it a bit hard to understand Sri Aurobindo. I tried the "many selves" and some other book about integral yoga I bought at the ashram book store in Pondicheri. Maybe I need to give it another try and try better (a nice sentence :-)

On the other hand I loved Savitri (you can add it by yourself by editing the guru profile and adding the code number of the book in the book list)

Annie | Sat, 01/10/2009 - 22:52

Symbol of Knowledge, Humanity and Kindness

archana.anchal's picture

From Every act of Shri Aurobindo, he has alway made one or another gesture of Service to Humanity, Kindness and True Knowledge.......

respected revolutionary

NIDHI PARKASH's picture

Aurobindo was very, very excellent at academic studies and he was nationalist and also was well known for his under-ground revolutionary programme for the the freedom of India but his mind was cert

nalabonga's picture

These are just facts

So what is your experience? what is your opinion? What you write are mere facts about him.

You are supposed to put here opinion based on your direct experience.

nalabonga | Fri, 09/11/2009 - 10:10
NIDHI PARKASH's picture

direct experience

First we must know what is direct experience and non-direct experience.In yoga darshana there is a sutra regarding prataksha gyaanam (direct Knowledge) which may be happened in samaadhi and that is the knowledge of eternity. all other kinds of experience, knowledge and identification are only on the logical bases, social-activities etc. which may directly give benefits to society and such kinds of benefits have already been got from our revered Sri Aurobindo Yogi in India.

NIDHI PARKASH | Fri, 09/11/2009 - 10:43

Con Opinions

Convertion

akbanik's picture

He fought against British, later , he turned himself to Spirituality.

Who Is His Guru?

Nathyogi's picture

Nothing about his Guru was written by him in his books or known through his ashram that I visited in Vadodara when I started my search for truth.

The wise say,
"Dubious is all one's knowledge

hugo's picture

You completely misunderstand the meaning and function of a guru

So he didn't have a guru, so what?

You completely misunderstand the meaning and function of a guru, the live guru is just a representation of the satguru inside, for some the external one is needed, for others he is not needed.

Writing an opinion solely based on whether one had a guru or not is ignorance. Check the essence of people, not circumstances.

hugo | Mon, 08/04/2014 - 07:21
Nathyogi's picture

Re: You completely misunderstand the meaning and function of a g

Who completely misunderstood is quite clear here.
There are no self appointed teachers in schools and colleges.
How do you think one can self appoint or claim oneself a Guru in spiritual realm which is full of truth in thought, word and deed.
The wise never do or think or even say so.
Truth is bitter to swallow.

Nathyogi | Mon, 08/04/2014 - 08:13

Couldn't relate to them

enlight's picture

Visited Pondicheri, read a few books but failed to connect to them.

I felt that the Integral yoga is somehow not that integral, consistent and coherent at all.

santthosh kumaar's picture

Re; could not relate to them

Santthosh
yes, you are right.

santthosh kumaar | Tue, 07/29/2008 - 13:48

CONFUSION

santthosh kumaar's picture

His ashram is grate place of solitude but his teachings are more confusing.