Sri Aurobindo

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by lucius, Jan 13, 2006.

  1. lucius

    lucius New Member

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    I'm just wondering if anyone else on these boards is interested in the work of Sri Aurobindo, the Indian Yogi, Philosopher and poet?
    In my opinion, Rishi Aurobindo is perhaps the greatest and most important of Hindu seers and philosophers of recent times.

    You can find out about Sri Aurobindo, Mother Mira Alfassa, and the Integral yoga at these sites:

    http://www.searchforlight.org/

    http://www.miraura.org/

    Wishing you peace and love,

    Lucius.
     
  2. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Lucius,

    I have definitely heard about Sri Aurobindo, but I've read very little of his work. His philosophy is quite complex, perhaps the most complex ever written. He was indeed probably the greatest of Yogis and was a Maharishi, no doubt. In fact, he is responsible for bringing out many esoteric meanings of the Vedic verses previously forgotten. His philosophical epic poem, Savitri, as you know, happens to be the longest poem in the English language.

    There is one event, I remember from the biography of Mother Mira Alfassa, his foremost disciple, that has always stuck in my mind. Long before she had ever met or heard of Sri Aurobindo, she had become interested in spirituality while still living in Paris. In her meditation, she says she had seen many figures, one of whom was a young man of dark complexion. Initially, she thought that the young man was Krishna. Years later when she met her master, she realized that the young man whom she saw was indeed Sri Aurobindo! I think this is a very inspiring story because in Hinduism it is said that one does not go looking for a master, but rather the master finds you.

    Please do post anything about his life and teachings so we may all learn.

    Regards,
    A.
     
  3. lucius

    lucius New Member

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    Yes - you are quite right to say that Sri Aurobindo's philosophy is quite complex - also, his writings are quite voluminous. They are intended only for the serious seeker. The system is complex on the face of it, but once grasped, or seen, has a beautiful simplicity about it too. It does not contradict any form of true spiritual endeavour or yoga.

    As well as works by Sri Aurobindo, there are also a number of books by Sweet Mother, which consist mainly of records of talks, inteviews etc, as well as some of her own writings.

    There are several books about Sri Aurobindo that seek to introduce his work. About the best I've read is 'Sri Aurobindo and The Mother' by Kireet Joshi, and more controversially, 'Sir Aurobindo - the Adeventure of Consciousness' by Satprem.
    However, the only way to get a true impression of the value of the man or his works is to read the originals.
    We English speaking people are fortunate in that English was Sri Aurobindo's first language. (later he became an authority on Indian languages) He was born to heavily Anglicized Brahmin parents at the hight of the British Raj,(august 15th 1872) and sent at an early age to England to recieve a western education. He proved to be an outsatnding scholar at St.Paul's School, and later at Cambridge.
    Returning to India, he became a professor of languages at Baroda University, and became a prominent and leading figure in the movemant for Indian Independence. He was briefly imprisoned and tried for suspected involvement in the Alipore bomb plot, but was fully cleared of all charges against him.
    It was at this time that Sri Aurobindo was introduced to Yoga, something for which he turned out to have an absolutely extraordinary capacity. He tells how in only three days practice, he has attained to full mental silence, and he continued to have many revelatory spiritual expeiences.
    Partly to escape British persecution, and also on the insistence of an 'inner voice', he then moved to the then French controlled Pondicherry, where he remaianed for thr rest of his life. He retired from involvement in politics, and devoted himself to working out the details of his 'Integral Yoga', and doing intense Sadhana. From this time, date many interesting works, which were originally published in 'Arya' a magazine started for this purpose.
    With the arrival of Mira Alfasa (known to devotees as 'Sweet Mother' or just 'Mother')at Pondicherry in the late 20's, a proper organized ashram was instituted. Shortly after, Sri Aurobundo retired to his suite of rooms to pursue his sadhana, leaving Mother to organize the Ashram, which she continued to do until her death at age 95.
    Only twice yearly, Sri Aurobindo would appear publicly at the Ashram to give Darshan.
    Sri Aurobindo left the body in 1950.

    As said earlier, Sri Aurobindo's philosophy is complex, and it wouldn't be possible to give any kind of adequate overview of it here. A few remarks though might show something of the general direction of the work.
    Sri Aurobindo really sought to make a new 'synthesis' of knowledge. He draws from manny of the traditonal paths of yoga, on which he was an expert, but brings them together in a new way, and also incorporated as a fundamental principle the idea of terrestrial evolution. He sees spiritual evolution and the evolution of the universe as being linked. He differs from Darwinists though and insists upon a Divine origin for all existences - evolution is seen as a progressive manifestation beginning with, and culminating in, God.

    Whilst most paths of Yoga speak of the goal as liberation, Sri Aurobindo does not disagree, but says that there is also a possible further step of Yoga - transformation of earthly life. Human life into Divine Life.

    If someone asked which of his major works is most essential, I'd have to say 'The Life Divine'. But even though this is some 3,000 pages long, there are still many aspects of his work which aren't covered.

    A great deal of insight into Sri Aurobindo's person can be had in Dilip Kumar Roy's 'Pilgrims of the Stars', where he describes his meetings with the great Seer who was to become his guru.

    [​IMG]
    Sri Aurobindo
     
  4. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Lucius,

    Thanks for that post. I've not read much on this great master, but his works are something I hope to start reading in the near future.

    This is what I find most interesting about Sri Aurobindo's thought. He believed in the ongoing spiritual evolution. The mind evolving from instinctive to intellectual and growing into the intuitive God-nature. If I'm not mistaken, he has predicted that a greater class of humans shall inhabit the earth in the future.

    Regards,
    A.
     
  5. lucius

    lucius New Member

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    Thank you Agnideva-

    I'm only too happy to say anything I can about Sri Aurobindo, or indeed, Yoga in general.
    You are right that He believed in an ongoing spiritual evolution, both in the individual human being, and in the human race as a whole. He sees the cosmos as a progressive manifestation of higher and higher conscious forms - from insensible matter through, plants, animals and up to mankind. But Man, he says, is a transitional being - he forsees the advent of a new type of consciousness and being, which he refers to as Supramental, on the earth.
    Whilst in past times, Yogis have achieved inner liberation, in the future the Divine energy will descend in a hitherto unprecedented way, and transform life here from it's base up. Thus our human life will become a truly Divine Life.
    Each person who is doing Yoga in order to transform their own consciouness is contributing to the collective evolution also.
    The matter is complex and obviously this is only a very brief and inadequate summary.

    If your interest is in what Sri Aurobindo says about the Veda, his 'Secret of the Veda' is the book to read.
     
  6. PrachandaChandikA

    PrachandaChandikA New Member

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    Man may be a transitional being on earth and a higher being may come who are born with higher faculties. Sceintifically it sounds ok.

    But can such a thing be an object of yoga??
    Is it not fully a nature's work to ensure higher beings can walk on earth.
    (I think they already have and still do, for a hindu, not all those who walk on 2 legs are same)

    As a soul (not body or a specie) isin't my task is to try to know god??~thus may be automatically born as a higher being here or somewhere else??

    why should a spiritual man think he is a human??~Isin't he/she just a soul in human body.

    Just a few points why turned me from Sri Aurobindo's philosohy (as much I could get it) ... I still ponder and seem to find a inconsistency.
     
  7. lucius

    lucius New Member

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    I agree there are problems with Sri Aurobindo's ideas.
    In my view, he fails to answer the question of purpose - ie purpose in the universe. Why is is created thus, why is it created at all. Sri A's answer is 'lila' - a play of the Divine. I find this wholly inadequate on many levels.

    To take up your point that as a soul one may be born into a higher form elsewhere - yes, Sri A accepts that. But he is concerned with the development or evolution of the human spieces as a whole, as a collective.
    He seems to see the advent of the supramental being as a natural step in evolution, just as the advent of man, the mental being, was such a step beyond animal life.

    All this assumes the theory of evolution to be true - and in fact although there is a mass of evidence, it is not proven fully.
    It also seems that there is a contradiction in dismissing science and scientific knowledge as limited and partial, and at the same time making evolution the central theme of his philosophy.

    Also, I think that in effect, this yoga is not really practicable for most people.
    It is too remote, and makes too many demands.

    There's also the fact that I consider his 'synthesis' too narrow, in that it is purpotedly applicable to the entire human race, and yet takes account only of Indian Yoga, and leaves aside all other systems of self-development.


    It is hard to concieve that any kind of forward step in earthly evolution on a mass scale is iminent. Perhaps in Sri Aurobindo's day it might have looked more likely.

    That said, I still think he was an impressive philosopher, and worth a look for any serious seeker.
    This is something into which I delved quite deeply. I don't consider my time was wasted, but I have had to move on.
     
  8. PrachandaChandikA

    PrachandaChandikA New Member

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    Sri Aurobindo had and still has a freshness among sanatana dharma yogis in a sence that he couldn't consider yoga as divorced from life. This was the reason why I was so much attracted to his philosophy. What's the use of living with higher knowledge if it can't be used in betterment of the society as a whole?? Since sometime before the moslem conquest development of hinduism on the social front took on a reverse gear and all spiritual developments were narrow and individualistic. It put India in what seems as a perpetual state of decay. Sri Aurobindo is justly called a rishi as opposed to a yogic master because his vison like the vedic seers and our avatars was societal and not just individual "spirituality". This makes Aurobindo unique in the line of sages since the medevial ages.

    Personally I don't regard individual spirituality highly~the developed soul will find it's way without any system~after all rishis started with nothing. If spirituality doesn't result in a happy and properous society both materially and spiritually, things are not OK. Things are not OK with medivial and mordern hinduism. Sri Aurobindo was different.
     
  9. lucius

    lucius New Member

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    Yes - I agree that if it doesn't benefit the world at large, spirituality is very limited, even selfish.
    Also, you are right to say that Sri Aurobindo diverges from the Vedantic traditions. However, I think Swami Vivekanada was also concerned with reform of Indian society, judging from the limited amount of his work I've read.
     

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