Dr Bodh Bral
It is a well known fact that Sri Aurobindo contributed a lot in the independence of India but his infinite efforts for the upliftment of humanity are still unknown to masses. Here, an endeavour has been made to provide some highlights about Sri Aurobindo beyond an Indian Nationalist as a great Revolutionary Thinker, Poet, Profound Philosopher, Mystic, Seer, Sage, Yogi and Maharishi. The Mother his spiritual collaborator whispers, “Sri Aurobindo belongs to the future; he is the messenger of the future. He still shows us the way to follow in order to hasten the realisation of a glorious future fashioned by the Divine Will. All those who want to collaborate for the progress of humanity and for India’s luminous destiny must unite in a clairvoyant aspiration and in an illumined work.” Swami Sivananda, founder of the Life Divine Society, Rishikesh; author of about 200 books writes “And it needed the supreme cultural genius of a Sri Aurobindo, the like of whom the spirit and the creative vision of India alone can create, to give a yet bolder or rather the boldest manifestation to a synthesisation of insights in philosophic, cultural and religious or spiritual wisdom and experience and to an invaluable integral conception of the triple Reality”.
As far as Sri Aurobindo’s early life is concerned, he was born in Calcutta on 15 August 1872 and went to England for education at the age of seven years where he studied at St. Paul’s School, London, and at King’s College, Cambridge. After returning to India in 1893, he worked for the next thirteen years in the Princely state of Baroda in the service of the Maharaja and as a professor in Baroda College. During this period he also joined a revolutionary society and took a leading role in secret preparations for an uprising against the British Government in India. In 1906, soon after the partition of Bengal, Sri Aurobindo quit his post in Baroda and went to Calcutta, where he soon became one of the leaders of the Nationalist movement. He was the first political leader in India to openly put forward, in his newspaper Bande Mataram, the idea of complete independence for the country. Prosecuted twice for sedition and once for conspiracy, he was released each time for lack of evidence. Rabindranath Tagore then wrote his famous poem on Sri Aurobindo, ‘Rabindranath, O Aurobindo Bows to Thee’.
In May, 1908, he was arrested in the Alipore Conspiracy after a detention of one year as undertrial prisoner in the Alipore Jail, he came out in May, 1909, to find the party organisation broken, its leaders scattered by imprisonment, deportation or self-imposed exile and the party itself still existent but dumb and dispirited and incapable of any strenuous action. For almost a year he strove single-handed as the sole remaining leader of the Nationalists in India to revive the movement. In Alipore Jail he had the vision of ‘Vasudeva’ everywhere and in everything. He received Sri Krishna’s direct assurance of his acquittal and of India’s independence, along with the knowledge that the rest of the work towards that end would be carried out by others, while he himself would have to work for a higher cause. After his acquittal, he started two weeklies viz., Dharma (Bengali) and The Karmayogin (English).
After receiving the adesh (command) from Above he went to Chandernagore and then, at Pondicherry to work for the greater cause of the world’s spiritual transformation and Divinisation. He reached Pondicherry on April 4, 1910. Initially, Sri Aurobindo lived at Pondicherry with four to five disciples but afterwards more and more people began to come to him to follow his spiritual path and the number became so large that a community of sadhaks became basis for the foundation of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. During his stay at Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo wholeheartedly dedicated himself to his spiritual and philosophical pursuits. In 1914, after four years of concentrated yoga, Sri Aurobindo was proposed to express his vision in intellectual terms that resulted in the launch of Arya, a 64 page monthly review. In 1926, with the help ‘The Mother’ he founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and in the same year with the Sidhi of overmind he devoted to more concentrated Sadhana giving the whole responsibility of the Ashram to The Mother.
Sri Aurobindo evolved a new method of spiritual practice, which he called the Integral Yoga. In synthesis of Yoga he describes the practice of Integral Yoga and how it is distinct from others as complete, modern or Sampurna. He opines that in the traditional yoga when Moksha is accepted, the yogi leaves the Earth, which ultimately, remains in misery and the yogi who attains Moksha for himself renouncing the world rather he must endeavour to bring the high heavens into the daily life of humanity and all life on Earth. To accomplish that mission the yoga cannot be partial rather it has to be integral. The yogi cannot exclude life or even the body from his yogic purification. It is not the Divine intention that the embodied soul should seek release from the cycle of birth and death rather the embodied soul should seek total release from falsehood and ego in all parts of its being and, rising into the higher worlds of Spirit, bring down the spiritual force and truth to life on Earth, so that death, suffering and disease can be abolished forever. Regarding this The Mother says, “Sri Aurobindo has come on earth not to bring a teaching or a creed in competition with previous creeds or teachings, but to show the way to overpass the past and to open concretely the route towards an imminent and inevitable future.”
The central theme of the vision of Sri Aurobindo is the evolution of human life into a life divine. He believes in a spiritual realisation that not only liberates man but transforms his nature, enabling a Divine life on Earth. Sri Aurobindo’s yoga takes the double route of an ascent into the spiritual heavens and descent into the human Earth of peace, bliss and eternal truth and light. In his yoga the parts of the human being, viz., mind and body are to be purified so that the higher spiritual force would descend into man to saturation, making him a fit instrument of the Divine to create the first member of the next species, the Supramental Man. In one of his own sonnets he says,
Thy golden Light came down into my brain
And the grey rooms of mind sun-touched became
A bright reply to Wisdom’s occult plane,
A calm illumination and a flame
In Integral Sadhana as the sadhak rises to each level above his ordinary mind, forces of the higher regions to which he has ascended would descend to integrate his whole being with the new height he has scaled. The Gods and the descent of the Overmind began in him down to his very physical.
According to Sri Aurobindo, “the created world is not a mistake or a vanity and illusion to be cast aside by the soul returning to heaven or Nirvana, but the scene of a spiritual evolution by which out of this material inconscience is to be manifested progressively the Divine Consciousness in things.” Indeed, mind is the highest term yet reached in the evolution, but it is not the highest of which it is capable. There is above it a Supermind or eternal Truth-Consciousness which is in its nature the self-aware and self-determining light and power of a Divine Knowledge. Mind is an ignorance seeking after Truth, but this is a self-existent Knowledge harmoniously manifesting the play of its forms and forces. It is only by the descent of this Supermind that the perfection dreamed of by all that is highest in humanity can come. It is possible by opening to a greater Divine consciousness to rise to this power of light and bliss, discover one’s true self, remain in constant union with the Divine and bring down the Supramental Force for the transformation of mind and life and body.
To realise this possibility has been the dynamic aim of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. Further, man must embark on a process of self-discovery in which he uncovers his Divine nature and to that end, he undertakes a three-step process, which he calls the Triple Transformation viz., psychic, spiritual and supramental. In 1914, The Mother wrote in her diary when she first time met Sri Aurobindo, “It matters not if there are hundreds of beings plunged in densest ignorance. He whom we saw yesterday is on Earth; his presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, when Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.”
Courtesy: Sh. G. S. Manhas, Yoga Eye Care Centre, Jammu.