This souvenir is being brought out by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research on the occasion of a Roundtable on “The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo” being held on the 15th of August 2003 (131st Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo) during the XXIst World Congress of Philosophy at Istanbul, Turkey.
Sri Aurobindo’s magnum opus, The Life Divine, is considered to be one of the greatest philosophical works of the twentieth century. The philosophy contained in this book is not speculative, although its exposition is strictly philosophical in character. This philosophy is founded on Sri Aurobindo’s direct spiritual experiences and realisations of the Ultimate Reality and its creative power, which Sri Aurobindo has termed as supermind. Sri Aurobindo has expounded in great detail the psychological processes by means of which ascent to the supermind can be effected. He has also expounded the process by which the supermind can be brought down on the earth. These expositions are to be found in Sri Aurobindo’s great work entitled The Synthesis of Yoga.
According to Sri Aurobindo, the world of Matter, as we see and experience it, is evolutionary in character, and the evolution of life in Matter and of Mind in life, can only be explained on the ground that mind and life are already involved in Matter. Sri Aurobindo raises the question whether mind is the final term of the evolution, and in the light of the spiritual theory of evolution which he has developed and presented in great detail in The Life
Divine, he concludes that higher levels of consciousness, which are involved in Mind, and in Matter, are striving to evolve, and they will eventually evolve. Sri Aurobindo’s life was devoted entirely as a field of laboratory in which this evolution could be worked out. In this task, Madame Mirra Alfassa (1878-1973), who is known in India and the world as The Mother, came from France to India and collaborated in developing the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo. Mother’s own experiences and realisations leading up to the supramental transformation and manifestation on the earth are to be found in 13 volumes of L’Agenda de Mere.
According to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, the world is undergoing at present an evolutionary crisis, and the problems that the world is facing today can be resolved successfully by the aid of the supramental manifestation. In a sense, therefore, Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy is centrally directed to the understanding of the contemporary problems of the world and to the formulation of their solutions. Sri Aurobindo wrote two books, The Human Cycle and The Ideal of Human Unity, which deal with the problems of human civilisation, historical processes through which humankind has arrived at the present critical juncture of its civilisational journey, and the possible lines on which it can survive and arrive at the realisation of its age-long aspiration for the world unity and lasting peace.
Since the World Congress of Philosophy at Istanbul has chosen for its theme Philosophy Facing World Problems, it appears most appropriate that the Indian Council of Philosophical Research should have organised a Roundtable on the Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, since that philosophy has a direct message for the solution of the contemporary world problems.
Sri Aurobindo was a supreme poet, and his most famous poetical work, Savitri, presents a new kind of poetry, which has been termed as overhead poetry. This is an epic, the longest in English literature (about 24000 lines), a prophetic vision of the future. Sri Aurobindo has written a number of other short and
long poems, among which Ilion (extending over 100 pages) is an innovative experimentation in an epic in quantitative hexameters in the history of English literature. Sri Aurobindo has also written five dramas, The Perseus the Deliverer, Rodogune, Viziers of Bassora, Vasavdutta and Eric. He has also translated two plays of Kalidasa from the original Sanskrit into English.
Sri Aurobindo was also in the early part of his life a prominent nationalist leader, and he has rightly been called the Prophet of Indian Nationalism. Sri Aurobind had deeply studied and loved India. He had made original research in the Veda, Upanishads and the Gita, three greatest records of knowledge which have served as the foundations of Indian culture. Apart from his profound knowledge of Sanskrit, he had mastery over Greek and Latin, and he had made a thorough study of Western history. He has, therefore, been rightly regarded as a great synthesiser of the East and the West, and his message for human unity is of direct relevance to the contemporary effort that is now sweeping all over the world to bridge the past, present and the future and to bridge the minds and hearts of the people of the entire globe.
In this Souvenir, it is not possible, nor is it relevant, to introduce the totality of the works of Sri Aurobindo. What has been attempted here is to present from the writings of Sri Aurobindo those important passages, which are relevant to the central aspects of the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and his Yoga as also to his studies in human civilisation, its contemporary crisis and its solution.
We are grateful to Professor Kireet Joshi, Chairman, Indian Council of Philosophical Research, for editing this Volume and providing a meaningful Introduction, which presents a bird’s eye view of the subjects covered in this compilation. We are also grateful to Mr. Ashoke Sen Gupta for his editorial assistance.
It is hoped that this Souvenir will serve the purpose of elucidating in some detail the topics which are proposed to be covered at the Roundtable on “The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo”.
Indian Council of Philosophical Research