His Life and Work
(A Brief Outline)
SRI AUROBINDO was born on the 15th August 1872 at Calcutta. At an early age of seven, he was taken along with his elder brothers to England for education, since his father wanted him to have no Indian influence in the shaping of his outlook and personality. And yet, even though Sri Aurobindo assimilated in himself richly the best of the European culture, he returned to India in 1893 with a burning aspiration to work for the liberation of India from foreign rule. While in England, Sri Aurobindo passed the I.C.S. Examination, and yet he felt no call for it; so he got himself disqualified by remaining absent from the riding test. The Gaekwar of Baroda happened to be there at that time, and Sri Aurobindo accepted the proposal to be his Personal Secretary, and returned to India.
Soon thereafter, however, Sri Aurobindo switched over to the Baroda College as Professor of French and then of English, and when in 1906, he left for Bengal, he was the acting Principal of the College. It was during the Baroda period that Sri Aurobindo assimilated in himself the spirit and culture of India and prepared himself for his future political and spiritual work. Indeed, his political work had already begun in Baroda, but it was behind the scenes, largely of the nature of a preparation for an armed revolution for the liberation of India.
Sri Aurobindo was the first among the Indian leaders to declare and work for the aim of complete Independence of India. In 1905, Bengal was divided, and Sri Aurobindo left Baroda and, invited by the nationalistic leaders, he joined at Calcutta the newly started National College as its first Principal. It was here that Sri Aurobindo, while working secretly for the revolution,
chalked out also a plan of outer action. This plan consisted of the programme of passive Resistance, Boycott and Swadeshi, which was later adopted as the policy of the struggle for freedom. It was here again that Sri Aurobindo wrote powerfully and boldly for Bande Mataram, and later for Karma Yogin; through his writings, he electrified the nation and surcharged the people with a new energy which ultimately led the nation to her freedom. It was, therefore, significant that when India attained her liberation in 1947, it was on the 15th August, the birthday of Sri Aurobindo.
The pioneering work that Sri Aurobindo did for the liberation of India was evidently a part of his larger work for the entire humanity and for the whole earth. For him, the liberation of India was an indispensable part of the new world-order. Moreover, the practice of Yoga, which he had started in 1902, led him, even while in the thick of intense political and literary activity, to major realisations of the Brahmic Silence, Nirvana, and also of the universal dynamic Presence of the Divine. And, in 1908, when he was in Alipore jail during his trial under the charge of sedition, he received through numerous experiences and realisations the assurance of the liberation of the country and also the knowledge of the initial lines on which his own future work was to proceed. For he saw that even in the field of Yoga something was still lacking, something radical that alone would help resolve the problems of the world and would lead mankind to its next evolutionary stage. And so, in 1910, soon after his acquittal from the jail, he withdrew to Pondicherry to concentrate upon this new research work, to hew a new path. It has been a most dynamic work with the entire earth as its central field. It was in the course of this work that Sri Aurobindo declared that the Suprpamental is the Truth and that its advent on the earth is inevitable. To bring down the supramental consciousness and power on the earth has been the central work of Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo has explained the nature of this work, the nature of the Supermind, the necessity of its descent, the process of this descent and the dynamic consequences of this descent
for the solutions of the problems of mankind, in his voluminous writings most of which were written serially in the philosophical monthly, Arya, which was started in 1914, immediately after the first arrival of The Mother from France to Pondicherry. Some of the most important of these and other writings are: The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, The Foundations of Indian Culture, Essays on the Gita, On the Veda, The Upanishads, The Future Poetry, The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, and the epic Savitri.
When Sri Aurobindo withdrew in 1926 into his room for concentrating in the required way on the ‘Supramental Yoga’, Mother organised and developed his Ashram. In 1943, a school for the education of children was founded, and after the passing of Sri Aurobindo in 1950, Mother developed that school into an International University Centre, where numerous original and bold experiments of education were carried out under her guidance. This educational work was a part of Supramental Yoga, and we have rare insights into education and yoga in the volumes entitled Questions and Answers, which contain conversations of the Mother that took place in her classes. In 1958, Mother withdrew to her room in order to come to terms with the research in the problems related to the supramental transformation of the physical consciousness at the cellular level. In 1968, Mother founded Auroville, an International city as a collective field for the material and spiritual researches required for realising human unity as a part of the supramental action on the earth.
Mother’s exploration into the body-consciousness and her discovery of a ‘cellular mind’ capable of restructuring the nature of the body is contained in a document of more than 6000 pages, published in 13 volumes. This is L’Agenda de Mère (Mother’s Agenda), an account of her extraordinary exploration narrated by the Mother to Satprem1 covering a period of more than twenty years, during which Mother slowly uncovered the ‘Great Passage’ to the next species by the supramental transformation of the physical consciousness and fulfilled the work that Sri Aurobindo had given to her.
1. Satprem was born in Paris in 1923. After intense experiences in concentration camps and adventures in Guyana, Brazil and Africa, he came to India in 1953, became a Sanyasi and practised Tantrism. Then he left these paths to serve Mother and embarked upon the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo. For 19 years, he lived near the Mother and became her confidant and her witness. He recorded innumerable personal conversations that form Mother’s Agenda. He has written a biography of Sri Aurobindo under the title, Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness. He has also written a biography of the Mother in three volumes, under the titles: Mother or the Divine Materialism; Mother or the New Species; and, Mother or the Mutation of Death.