SRI AUROBINDO

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SRI AUROBINDO

Sri. Aurobindo (1871) was sent to England when he was 7 years old with the intention that he forgets the native touch and learn to adopt the western forms.   But his love for the motherland inspired him to take to revolution to free India.    The famous Alipore Bomb case was the turning point.     He was an under trial prisoner in solitary confinement.

This transformed him into a spiritual visionary for India.     He realized that to free the Indian psyche is more important in order for the fellow Indians to get the inner freedom.

Retiring to Pondicherry, a French settlement, he chose the path of Yoga and taught the world the art of silencing the mind and freeing it from the constant pressure of thought.

AUROBINDO AND HIS PHILOSOPHY:-
A person who got purely occidental education and upbringing showing a profound understanding of the soul of India with his insight and knowledge was unique and that was shri Aurobindo Ghosh.      He was a saint born to uplift the Indian masses from their deep slumber.
It is a coincidence that he was born on August 15th of 1872.    His father was Dr. Krishnadhana Ghosh and mother Swarnalathadevi.     Being educated in England, his father had a fascination for western ways.     However, his mother was deeply religious because of her father shri. Rajnarayan Bose’s influence.
After the primary education in Morotto Convent at Darjeeling where the majority of students were from European families he was sent to England for higher studies.    He studied Greek and Latin and was awarded a special scholarship.    Sayajirao Gaikwad, the maharaja of Baroda who came to England in 1893 was impressed by the glowing personality of the young man and offered him a suitable job.      Due to a misunderstanding about an accident to the ship which was carrying Aurobindo, his father collapsed and died.
First in the revenue department and as a professor of English and French, he served the Baroda state for 13 years till 1906.        He used this period to master Sanskrit, Gujarati, Bengali and Marati in addition to assimilating the ancient Indian culture.      Translation of Kalidasa’s “Rutusamhara” and Bhartrhari’s “Neetishataka” into English was indicative of his mastery in Sanskrit and English.
Political Activity:-
When Lord Curzon effected the infamous partition of Bengal the spirit of Nationalism was being aroused by leaders like Bipinchandra Pal, C R Das, B G Tilak, R N  Tagore, Lala lajpat Roy and others.   Aurobindo resigned for his job and jumped into the fray.     His writings to such revolutionary magazines like “Bande Mataram”, “Karmayogin” and “Dharma” brought on him the displeasure of the British Government.       He identified himself with the extremists group of the congress lead by Lal, Bal and Pal.      When the movement resulted in violence he was also arrested along with his brother Barindra.      Being implicated in the famous Alipur Conspiracy case, he was arrested again but was got released through the arguments of Deshbhandu Chittaranjan Das.
While in Alipur jail for a year he got visions and spiritual experiences and these changed the course of his life.    Being commanded by Lord Krishna, he left politics once for all and the British India and escaped to the French territory of Pondicherry in 1910.      The first thing he did there was to start a philosophical magazine “Arya” wherein he wrote on Vedas, Upanishads, The Gita, Yoga, and on Uplifting India etc.     His Magnum opus, ” Life Divine” was published through this magazine only.
By 1926, he retired from active life and and started practicing Yoga.     From then onwards till he passed away in 1950 he did not participate in any public undertakings but for writing several letters of advice and occasional darshans to his devotees.    A very well regulated Ashram gradually grew up around him and dedicated men and women of all nationalities started practicing yoga and trying to realise his ideals.    The French couple Meera and Paul Richard were the backbone of this ashram.
HIS PHILOSOPHY:-
It is difficult to say whether Aurobindo was a dualist or a monist, a bhaktiyogi, karma yogi or a jnanayogi, a philosopher or a patriot.     Independence of this country was only a stage in his view in achieving the great destiny which awaited this country.    His gospel was integral yoga.    He had a new vision and  a new light  since he knew the pulse of the evolution of humanity to the future cycle of life.
The central part of his teaching has been summarised as :-
“……Man can grow out of his present imperfections into a perfect individual.      The perfect man can become a nucleus and a force for the evolution of a perfect society.     The true unity of the human race can result from a union on the soul level.    The key to this change is essentially spiritual and it lies in the evolution of the latent faculties of his innermost being.     Man has to cease to live on the surface, learn to live from within outward.      He must find his soul.”
Man is not destined to suffer endlessly in ignorance.     When he tries deep inside himself, he discovers his own real being – infinite and immortal.    This Atman uses his outer personality for its evolution and self expression.    Within this, man can find his own divinity which leads him from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light and from death to immortality.     This realisation is the principle mission of one’s life.
The immortal Ananda should be achieved here, in this working, busy world where we live in.    Conquering ego, man can enter into divine life.   At this stage, man can see no difference between spirit, matter, life, light, darkness, inner and outer etc.    Man can see God in every thing.   (sarvam khalvidam brahma becomes practical).    The union of the self with the divine would not any longer be an illusion.
In his own words (“Life divine”) …”Brahman is in this world to represent itself in the values of life.    Life exists in Brahman in order to discover Brahman in itself.   Therefore man’s importance in the world is that he gives to it that development of consciousness in which its transfiguration by a perfect self-discovery becomes possible.     To fulfill God in life is man’s manhood.   He starts from the animal vitality and its activities but a divine existence is his objective.”
So, Aurobindo’s teachings mainly aim at the transformation of the human nature into that of divinity.      These teachings can be traced back to Bhagavadgita, Ishaavasya upanishat and the Rgveda.
He concluded that the Vedas glorified one God with many names, that there should be a healthy integration of the divine and the human qualities such as renunciation and enjoyment, God and the world, one and the many etc.    He believed that the Gita taught only the fellowship with God and not just duty for duty’s sake as some others interpret.    Disinterested action, self forgetting devotion, constant meditation and mystic insight are the prerequisites for attaining this fellowship with God.    Not only the fruit of action but even the action itself has to be surrendered to God.    It should be realised that the concept of agency itself is an illusion and that it is only the nature that acts.     He urges, “offer first, all your actions as  a sacrifice to the Highest and the one in you.    Deliver last all you are into His hands for the Universal spirit to do through you His own free will.    This is the solution that I present to you and there is no other.”
According to Aurobindo, the Supreme spirit is neither the one nor the many .     It is one in, through and beyond the many.    It is both personal and impersonal.      He did not approve the overstressing of renunciation of the world by which man could escape from the wheel of the samsaara.     He took saadhana above the limitations and symbolism of any particular theology and made it available for all without discrimination of caste, creed or nationality.

The concept of super mind finds an important place in his teachings.   Truth-consciousness, spiritual consciousness, creative energy, immortality etc., are all different names attributed to this super mind.    He translated sat chit Ananda as a self expressive force capable of infinite variation in phenomenon and form.     The pure being undergoes cosmic manifestation and becomes life, matter, psyche or soul and mind.

Aurobindo’s most important achievement was his evolution of the method of yogic saadhana wherein all difficult feats of aasana and praanaayama are eliminated.      Mechanical exercises in concentration are also avoided.    The first step is self surrender to the divine power and open up one’s mind for divine grace to enter.      To feel the presence of God every where is the last step.

The integral system of yoga and the philosophy that was preached by Aurobindo meet the needs of the modern times.    He tried to lead the modern man to the heart of the Absolute.     He taught the way to unite with God and through God with the whole world – all this without withdrawing from the world and in full flood of life’s ups and downs.

A yogi of unparallelled brilliance, poet, revolutionary politician, scholar with erudition, philosopher of the highest class, great linguist, a philologist, literary genius……his life was great.     His synthesis of whatever is the best in the east and in the west is the greatest achievement and the most valued treasure of mankind.      Humanity can hope to rejuvenate and resuscitate its lost ideal and objectives if his teachings are practiced.

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