Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo (August 15, 1872–December 5, 1950) was an Indian nationalist, scholar, poet, mystic, evolutionary philosopher, yogi and guru. His followers further believe that he was an avatar, an incarnation of the Absolute.
Sri Aurobindo spent his life — through his vast writings and through his own development — working for the freedom of India, the path to the further evolution of life on earth, and to bring down what he called the Supermind to enable such progress.

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Sri Aurobindo Quotes

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

We are Sons of God and must be even as He.

Religion in fact is not knowledge, but a faith and aspiration; it is justified indeed both by an imprecise intuitive knowledge of large spiritual truths and by the subjective experience of souls that have risen beyond the ordinary life, but in itself it only gives us the hope and faith by which we may be induced to aspire to the intimate possession of the hidden tracts and larger realities of the Spirit. That we turn always the few distinct truths and the symbols or the particular discipline of a religion into a hard and fast dogmas, is a sign that as yet we are only infants in the spiritual knowledge and are yet far from the science of the Infinite.

The sadhana of this Yoga does not proceed through any set mental teaching or prescribed forms of meditation, mantras or others, but by aspiration, by a self-concentration inwards or upwards, by self-opening to an Influence, to the Divine Power above us and its workings, to the Divine Presence in the heart and by the rejection of all that is foreign to these things. It is only by faith, aspiration and surrender that this self-opening can come.

Asceticism for its own sake is not the ideal of this Yoga, but self-control in the vital and right order in the material are a very important part of it -- and even an ascetic discipline is better for our purpose than a loose absence of true control. Mastery of the material implies in it the right and careful utilization of things and also a self-control in their use. Forceful suppression (fasting also comes under the head) stands on the same level as free indulgence; in both cases, the desire remains: in the one it is fed by indulgence, in the other it lies latent and exasperated by suppression.

Man is shut up at present in his surface individual consciousness and knows the world only through his outward mind and senses and by interpreting their contacts with the world. By Yoga there can open in him a consciousness which becomes one with that of the world; he becomes directly aware of a universal Being, universal states, universal Force and Power, universal Mind, Life, Matter and lives in conscious relations with these things. He is then said to have cosmic consciousness

A soul shall wake in the Inconscient's house;
The mind shall be God-vision's tabernacle,
The body intuition's instrument,
And life a channel for God's visible power

The Spirit shall look out through Matter's gaze
And Matter shall reveal the Spirit's face.
Then man and superman shall be at one
And all the earth become a single life.

The gnostic individual would be the consummation of the spiritual man; his whole way of being, thinking, living, acting would be governed by the power of a vast universal spirituality. All the trinities of the Spirit would be real to his self-awareness and realized in his inner life. All his existence would be fused in oneness with the transcendent and universal Self and Spirit; all his action would originate from and obey the supreme Self and Spirit's divine governance of Nature. All life would have to him the sense of the Conscious Being, the Purusha within, finding its self-expression in Nature; his life and all its thoughts, feelings, acts would be filled for him with that significance and built upon that foundation of its reality. He would feel the presence of the Divine in every center of his consciousness, in every vibration of his life-force, in every cell of his body. In all the workings of his force of Nature he would be aware of the workings of the supreme World-Mother, the Super-nature; he would see his natural being as the becoming and manifestation of the power of the World-Mother. In this consciousness he would live and act in an entire transcendent freedom, a complete joy of the Spirit, an entire identity with the cosmic Self and a spontaneous sympathy with all in the universe.

The gnostic being, using Matter but using it without material or vital attachment or desire, will feel that he is using the Spirit in this form of itself with its consent and sanction for its own purpose. There will be in him a certain respect for physical things, an awareness of the occult consciousness in them, a worship of the Divine, the Brahman, in what he uses, a care for a perfect and faultless use of his divine material, for a true rhythm, ordered harmony, beauty in the life of Matter, in the utilization of Matter.
As a result of this new relation between the Spirit and the body, the gnostic evolution will effectuate the spiritualization, perfection and fulfillment of the physical being.

To cease to be identified with the body, to separate oneself from the body-consciousness, is a recognized and necessary step whether toward spiritual liberation or toward spiritual perfection and mastery over Nature.

The spiritual man is the sign of this new evolution, this new and higher endeavor of Nature. But this evolution differs from the past process of the evolutionary Energy in two respects: it is conducted by a conscious effort of the human mind, and it is not confined to a conscious progression of the surface nature, but is accompanied by an attempt to break the walls of the Ignorance and extend ourselves inward into the secret principle of our present being and outward into cosmic being as well as upward toward a higher principle. Up till now what Nature had achieved was an enlarging of the bounds of our surface Knowledge Ignorance; what it attempted in the spiritual endeavor is to abolish the Ignorance, to go inward and discover the soul and to become united in consciousness with God and with all existence. This is the final aim of the mental stage of evolutionary Nature in man; it is the initial step toward a radical transmutation of the Ignorance into the Knowledge. The spiritual change begins by an influence of the inner being and the higher spiritual mind, an action felt and accepted on the surface; but this by itself can lead only to an illumined mental idealism or to the growth of a religious mind, a religious temperament or some devotion in the heart and piety in the conduct; … much has to be done, we have to live deeper within, we have to exceed our present consciousness and surpass our present status of Nature.
It is evident that if we can live thus deeper within and put out steadily the inner forces into the outer instrumentation or raise ourselves to dwell on higher and wider levels and bring their powers to bear on physical existence, not merely receive influences descending from them, which is all we can now do, there could begin a heightening of our force of conscious being so as to create a new principle of consciousness, a new range of activities, new values for all things, a widening of our consciousness and life, a taking up and transformation of the lower grades of our existence-in brief, the whole evolutionary process by which the Spirit in Nature creates a higher type of being.

The last stage of this perfection will come when you are completely identified with the Divine Mother and feel yourself to be no longer another and separate being, instrument, servant, or worker but truly a child and eternal portion of her consciousness and force. Always she will be in you and you in her; it will be your constant, simple and natural experience that all your thought and seeing and action, your very breathing or moving come from her and are hers. You will know and see and feel that you are a person and power formed by her out of herself, put out from her for the play and yet always safe in her, being of her being, consciousness of her consciousness, force of her force, Ananda of her Ananda. When this condition is entire and her supramental energies can freely move you, then you will be perfect in divine works; knowledge, will, action will become sure, simple, luminous, spontaneous, flawless, an outflow from the Supreme, a divine movement of the Eternal.

It is more than ever necessary to keep yourself free from all taint of the perversions of the ego.

But a time will come when you will feel more and more that you are the instrument and not the worker. For first by the force of your devotion your contact with the Divine Mother will become so intimate that at all times you will have only to concentrate and to put everything into her hands to have her present guidance, her direct command or impulse, the sure indication of the thing to be done, and the way to do it and the result. And afterward you will realize that the divine Shakti not only inspires and guides, but initiates and carries out your works; all your movements are originated by her, all your powers are hers, mind, life, and body are conscious and joyful instruments of her action, means for her play, molds for her manifestation in the physical universe. There can be no more happy condition than this union and dependence; for this step carries you back beyond the borderline from the life of stress and suffering in the ignorance into the truth of your spiritual being, into its deep peace and its intense Ananda.

All stress of egoistic choice, all hankering after personal profit, all stipulation of self-regarding desire must be extirpated from the nature. There must be no demand for fruit and no seeking for reward; the only fruit for you is the pleasure of the Divine Mother and the fulfillment of her work, your only reward a constant progression in divine consciousness and calm and strength and bliss. The joy of service and the joy of inner growth through works is the sufficient recompense of the selfless worker.

All your life must be an offering and a sacrifice to the Supreme; your only object in action shall be to serve, to receive, to fulfill, to become a manifesting instrument of the Divine Shakti in her works. You must grow in the divine consciousness till there is no difference between your will and hers, no motive except her impulsion in you, no action that is not her conscious action in you and through you.

If you want to be a true doer of divine works, your first aim must be to be totally free from all desire and self regarding ego.

THERE ARE three ways of being of the Mother of which you can become aware when you enter into touch of oneness with the Conscious Force that upholds us and the universe. Transcendent, the original supreme Shakti, she stands above the worlds and links the creation to the ever unmanifest mystery of the Supreme. Universal, the cosmic Mahashakti, she creates all these beings and contains and enters, supports and conducts all these million processes and forces. Individual, she embodies the power of these two vaster ways of her existence, makes them living and near to us, and mediates between the human personality and the divine Nature.
The one original transcendent Shakti, the Mother stands above all the worlds and bears in her eternal consciousness the Supreme Divine. Alone, she harbors the absolute Power and the ineffable Presence; containing or calling the Truths that have to be manifested, she brings them down from the Mystery in which they were hidden into the light of her infinite consciousness and gives them a form of force in her omnipotent power and her boundless life and a body in the universe….
All is her play with the Supreme; all is her manifestation of the mysteries of the Eternal, the miracles of the Infinite. All is she, for all are parcel and portion of the divine Conscious-Force. Nothing can be, here or elsewhere, but what she decides and the Supreme sanctions; nothing can take shape except what she, moved by the Supreme, perceives and forms after casting it into seed in her creating Ananda.
The Mahashakti, the universal Mother, works out whatever is transmitted by her transcendent consciousness from the Supreme and enters into the worlds that she has made; her presence fills and supports them with the divine spirit and the divine all-sustaining force and delight without which they could not exist. That which we call Nature or Prakriti is only her most outward executive aspect; she marshals and arranges the harmony of her forces and processes, impels the operations of Nature, and moves among them secret or manifest in all that can be seen or experienced or put into motion of life. Each of the worlds is nothing but one play of the Mahashaki of that system of worlds or universe, who is there as the cosmic Soul and Personality of the transcendent Mother. Each is something that she has seen in her vision, gathered into her heart of beauty and power and created in her Ananda.

Quotes originally compiled by

Sri Aurobindo Chronological Biography

15 August, birth of Sri Aurobindo, in Calcutta.

21 February, birth of The Mother, in Paris, 62 boulevard Haussmann.

Departure of Sri Aurobindo for England.

Mother lives at 3 square du Roule.

Sri Aurobindo at King's College, Cambridge.
Mother's first experience: the "Revolution of Atoms."

Sri Aurobindo returns to India.
First revolutionary article.

13 October, Mother's marriage to Henri Morisset. Atelier, 15 rue Lemercier.

23 August, birth of André Morisset.

Beginning of Sri Aurobindo's revolutionary activities.

Sri Aurobindo has the experience of the Infinite.

Mother has her first vision of Sri Aurobindo.
Beginning of Sri Aurobindo's yoga.
Mother's first meeting with Max Theon.

Voyages to Tlemcen.

Mother founds her first group: Idea.

First arrest of Sri Aurobindo.

Divorce from H. Morisset.
Mother moves to 49 rue de Lévis.
January: Sri Aurobindo meets the tantric yogi V. Lele.
Realization of mental silence and Nirvana.
2 May, the "Alipore Bomb Case": imprisonment of Sri Aurobindo, for one year.

February, Sri Aurobindo escapes to Chandernagor, in French India.
4 April, Sri Aurobindo takes refuge in Pondicherry.
April, Paul Richard's first visit to Pondicherry.
Marriage of Mirra to Paul Richard, 7-9 rue du Val de Grâce.

Beginning of Prayers and Meditations.

7 March, Mother embarks for India aboard the Kaga Maru.
29 March, meeting of Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
1 August, declaration of war.
15 August, first issue of the Arya.

22 February, Mother leaves Pondicherry for France aboard the Kamo Maru.

13 March, Mother embarks at London aboard the Kamo Maru for Japan.

April, Mother leaves Japan.
24 April, arrival in Pondicherry
24 November, Mother comes to live near Sri Aurobindo in the Guest House. 1921
January, end of the Arya.

October, Sri Aurobindo and Mother take up residence at 9 rue de la Marine, the present Ashram building.

Period of the "Evening Talks."

24 November, Sri Aurobindo withdraws.
Official founding of the Ashram. 1927
8 February, Sri Aurobindo moves to a room in the East Wing that he will never again leave.

August, Sri Aurobindo's "Mathematical Formula."
October, the Supramental "will explain itself."

24 November, Sri Aurobindo fractures his right leg.

Sri Aurobindo revises The Life Divine.
1 September, declaration of war.

2 December, beginning of the Ashram School.

15 August, Independence of India.

21 February, beginning of the Bulletin of Physical Education.

10 November, end of the revision of Savitri.
5 December, Sri Aurobindo leaves his body.
9 December, Sri Aurobindo's body is placed in the Samadhi.

Original chronology compiled by Our World

Sri Aurobindo Biography

Early Life - Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was born on 15th August 1872, to an anglicised father Dr Krishnan Ghosh. He wanted his children to be schooled in English, therefore at the age of 7 Aurobindo was sent to study in England. Aurobindo studied first at St Paul’s, London and then at Kings College Cambridge. Life in England was often tough for Aurobindo; resources were meagre and for many years he had to often survive on a frugal diet. However he proved to be a scholar of great intellect and capacity. He mastered the classics and English poetry (later he wrote extensively on the English poets). The famous don Oscar Browning declared Aurobindo one of the greatest scholars he had seen.

It was at Cambridge university that Aurobindo first became aware of the plight of his country, at the time under the rule of the British Empire. Aurobindo became inspired to join a society committed to overthrowing British rule. This period was an important landmark in Aurobindo’s life. With his new political perspective he turned down an opportunity to join the British civil service. He had passed all his exams but failed to turn up for the obligatory horse riding test. Therefore at the age of 21 he returned to India increasingly committed to working for Indian independence.

Sri Aurobindo the Revolutionary
On his return to Indian soil Sri Aurobindo was overwhelmed with a feeling of intense inner peace. This experience came unsought and was an indication of his future spiritual capacity. However at the time Sri Aurobindo’s main concern and main passion was political independence of his beloved motherland. Sri Aurobindo threw himself into revolutionary politics, associating with the great figures of Bengal such as Bipin Pal, B.C Chatterji. He was dismayed with the weakness of Congress and argued for direct action aiming for complete independence. Through his journal Bande Mataram, Sri Aurobindo was the first leader to call for the full independence for India.

For several years Sri Aurobindo was a pivotal figure in the movement for independence. He had the qualities of a natural leader but was always happy to work in the background as much as possible. It was during this period that Sri Aurobindo also became increasingly interested in Yoga and meditation. Whilst engaged in spiritual disciplines Sri Aurobindo came across a teacher of meditation, Lele Maharaj. He taught Sri Aurobindo how to control thoughts and not let them enter into his mind. Sri Aurobindo followed his instructions to the letter and within 3 days he succeeded in completely emptying the mind and entered into a state of nirvana. This same experience had taken Lele Maharaj over 6 years to attain. Lele Maharaj was amazed at the progress of the young Aurobindo.

However it was the political struggle which held the greatest sway on Aurobindo, the freedom of India was his primary concern.

After a fatal incident involving revolutionaries, Aurobindo became a marked man. In 1908 he was arrested for the possession of weapons and was held in jail for a year before his case came to court. His trial became a major event with much attention placed on the incident. The evidence against Aurobindo was quite weighty and he feared he would be convicted. However Aurobindo was fortunate to have C.R.Das as his defence lawyer. C.R.Das threw himself heart and soul in to Aurobindo’s defence. His commitment and capacity meant Sri Aurobindo felt completely assured and did not have to even concern himself with his own defence.

The Spiritual Mission of Sri Aurobindo
By a curious stroke of fate it was in a British jail that Sri Aurobindo began to be seriously awakened to the inner life. Confined to his own prison cell Sri Aurobindo was able to practice meditation and read about the ancient principles of yoga, undisturbed by outer commitments. Sri Aurobindo began to have profound meditations. Entering into higher realms of consciousness he became aware of the omnipresence of God.

As Sri Aurobindo himself said.
“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. Amongst these thieves and dacoits there were many who put me to shame by their sympathy, their kindness, the humanity triumphant over such adverse circumstances." - from The Uttarpada Speech 30 May 1909

It was also in prison that Sri Aurobindo was visited by the soul of Swami Vivekananda, who instructed Sri Aurobindo about the workings of the superconsciousness which was above the mind. Sri Aurobindo also became aware of a divine inner guidance, that was never to leave him. From this divine source he was given an Adesh “inner command” that henceforth he should not worry about politics. India would gain her independence in due course but this would be achieved by others. The task for Sri Aurobindo was the renewal of “sanatana dharma, the eternal religion.” To pursue this spiritual task it was necessary for Sri Aurobindo to leave the political arena. In his own words Sri Aurobindo said of his mission.

”We must return and seek the sources of life and strength within ourselves… It is the spiritual revolution we forsee and the material is only its shadow and reflex.”

After gaining a dramatic acquittal Sri Aurobindo was released, but was still pursued by the British, who considered him “the most dangerous man we have to reckon with…” It was around this time that he again came into contact with Sister Nivedita, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda and fellow revolutionary. She warned Sri Aurobindo of the dangers he was in. After a while Sri Aurobindo followed another “Adesh” to move to the French province of Pondicherry. At Pondicherry Sri Aurobindo was able to dedicate himself fully to his spiritual disciplines. Despite frequent requests to return to politics, Sri Aurobindo spent much of his time in meditation becoming more aware of the supramental consciousness. Through his practise of Yoga Sri Aurobindo also gained the capacity to be a prolific writer producing many articles, writings and poetry.

Gradually spiritual seekers began to be attracted to Pondicherry and so an informal ashram began to be set up. A significant moment in the life of Sri Aurobindo and the fledgling ashram was the arrival of a French women, Mira Richards, who would later be affectionately known as the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo ashram. The Mother instantly recognised Sri Aurobindo as the one who had been guiding her sadhana (spiritual practices). In turn Sri Aurobindo entrusted the organisation of the ashram to the Mother and under her guidance, which continued for nearly fifty years, the Ashram grew into a dynamic spiritual community. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram still flourishes today and has a unique character in the sense that it does not involve retreating from the world. In Sri Aurobindo’s words:

"The way of Yoga followed here has a purpose different 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.”

Sri Aurobindo was a rare combination of poet, philosopher, writer and spiritual Master. During his time in Pondicherry he wrote several books explaining his view on Yoga and spirituality. His most notable exposition was perhaps in “The Life Divine” which is a comprehensive explanation of his integral yoga. Sri Aurobindo was also a noted poet. Many of his poems are vivid and soulful portrayals of his supramental experiences. For example.

Only the illimitable Permanent Is here. A Peace stupendous, featureless, still. Replaces all, - what once was I, in It A silent unnamed emptiness content Either to fade in the Unknowable Or thrill with the luminous seas of the Infinite.
(last verse of Nirvana by Sri Aurobindo)

In November 1926 Sri Aurobindo would retreat from Ashram life, (he felt this withdrawal was necessary to be able to complete his work) however he spent many hours every day carefully replying to the letters of his disciples. These letters were an opportunity to explain his yoga and how it applied in particular situations. With good humour and great compassion he was able to relieve the fears and anxieties common to many seekers. Sri Aurobindo's letters show great wisdom and he often displayed a good sense of humour as he said himself: “A God who could not smile could not have created this humorous universe.”
- Sri Aurobindo.

It is rewarding to read these letters and also stories by disciples such as Dilip Kumar Roy who maintained a long and fruitful written communication with his Guru. In these letters and other writings Sri Aurobindo gives an insightful look into the play of cosmic forces that work unseen behind external circumstances.

Although distanced from any direct involvement in politics Sri Aurobindo still took a keen interest in political events from around the world. In particular he saw in Hitler and Nazi Germany a great threat to the whole of civilisation. Therefore at the outbreak of the Second World War, Sri Aurobindo, the former revolutionary against the British Empire, came out with his full public support for the Allies and their cause. Some Indians who still saw Britain as the main enemy did not always appreciate this decision.

However although Sri Aurobindo was a prolific writer he felt his main task was to bring down a new consciousness, which would usher in a new era where spirituality and truth were given a higher profile. But Sri Aurobindo went to great pains to say he did not wish to bring about a new religion or creed. As he wrote in his article “Sri Aurobindo On Himself.

"This is Sri Aurobindo's teaching and method of practice. It is not his object to develop any one religion or to amalgamate the older religions or to found any new religion - for any of these things would lead away from his central purpose. The one aim of his 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 divinise human nature.”
August, 1934 From SABCL, Vol. 26, "Sri Aurobindo on Himself "

He offered a new vision of yoga and a spiritual path that could be followed by sincere seekers. However Sri Aurobindo never desired to have a large numbers of disciples or followers. He admitted his path was not always easy and could be quite arduous. But to attain a real transformation of one's nature was not possible without maintaining certain spiritual standards and spiritual discipline.

Sri Aurobindo taught that the different world religions were right in their own way. However Sri Aurobindo also stated that there was no need to repeat what had happened in the past. The world is in continuous evolution and there is a need to bring down a higher truth with each age. Continuing the vision of Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo sought to combine the best from Eastern spirituality and Western materialism.

"I saw them cross the twilight of an age The sun-eyed children of a marvelous dawn... The massive barrier-breakers of the world.. The architects of immortality... Bodies made beautiful by the Spirit's light, Carrying the magic word, the mystic fire, Carrying the Dionysian cup of joy.. "
From: Savitri - Sri Aurobindo

After a short illness Sri Aurobindo entered his mahasamadhi on 5th December 1950. During his last illness Sri Aurobindo refused any major surgery or even to heal himself. He said by leaving his body he would most effective in continuing his spiritual mission.

Sri Aurobindo's life was of constant service to bringing down a higher ideal and vision.

"The vast universal suffering feel as thine: Thou must bear the sorrow that thou claimst to heal; The day-bringer must walk in darkest night. He who would save the world must share its pain. If he knows not grief, how shall he find grief's cure? If far he walks above mortality's head, How shall the mortal reach that too high path? If one of theirs they see scale heaven's peaks, Men then can hope to learn that titan climb. God must be born on earth and be as man That man being human may grow even as God."
- From Savitri by Sri Aurobindo

Original biography compiled by Poet Seers

(For more information see Wikipedia)


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