I realized I have not yet given a ‘Sri Aurobindo for Dummies” overview, so let’s do it.
“Sri Aurobindo came upon the earth to teach his truth to men. He told them that man is only a transitional being living in a mental consciousness but with the possibility of acquiring a new consciousnesss…Sri Aurobindo gave all his time to establish himself this consciousness…and to help those around him.”
Sri Aurobindo lived from 1872 to 1950, and was born in Kolkata (Calcutta). His father wanted him to get a ‘proper’ English education, and so he was sent to Cambridge for college. He was one of the top students at the university, especially in literature and Greek. Hungry to learn more about his heritage and country, he moved back to India, radicalized about how the British Empire had turned Indians into dependent and disempowered citizens.
Aurobindo was the first political leader to demand complete independence from British rule. He began writing about India throwing off the chains of the British by winning their independence. He became the editor of the newspaper Bande Mataram, one of the only Indian nationalist publications. Aurobindo radicalized the Indian National Congress, turning it into a more relevant body. The British police tried to convict Aurobindo twice on charges of sedition for his powerful words in the Bande Mataram. He was imprisoned for a year, but used the time to do strengthen his spiritual being through yoga and meditation. He eventually moved to the French protectorate of Pondicherry in 1910 to escape the possibility of being arrested again. He thought that he would come back to India at some point, but that was not to be. The Mother, a french woman named Mirrha Alfassa, came to Pondicherry in 1920 and became one of Aurobindo’s students, eventually becoming his closest collaborator. He was the philosophy, she was the action of how to put it into practice.
The ashram has a photo of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in almost every room, even our bedroom in the guesthouse.
In Pondicherry, he left his political life behind and devoted himself to his yoga practice for the next 40 years. He left behind hundreds of poems and stories, journals of his spiritual journey, and thousands of letters to spiritual followers.
“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.”
-Deshbandhu C.R. Das
Here are the links for the Sri Aurobindo society: