1872 - 1950
By Anodea Judith
Sri Aurobindo was a political activist, Indian Yogi, and spiritual master,
who first came to prominence in India's struggle for independence from the
British, in an extremist nationalist movement in 1908. He was convinced
that any political freedom must be imbued with spiritual elements and thus
created a new vision of India, in which her independence was grounded in
the necessity of preserving the great teachings of Indian religion, which
he predicted would be essential to saving our global humanity at some future
point in history. This revolution would occur collectively through a critical
mass of enlightened individuals.
His spiritual practice was grounded in yoga and meditation. However, he
did not advocate a withdrawal from the affairs of life, but a full political
engagement that was based in spiritual understanding and practice. In fact
his discovery of yoga as a young adult, after returning from his English
education at King's college in Cambridge, was what reconnected him to his
Indian roots, and convinced him of India's ultimate value. He was immediately
transformed and enthralled by the practice, experiencing electric power
around his head, the presence of the Divine within, and the silent Brahmin
consciousness, or union with the absolute.
Aurobindo's ultimate belief was in the spiritual nature of all reality,
which he described as being, consciousness, and bliss (sat-chit-ananda).
To him, the underlying thrust of the entire phenomenal world is a spiritual
evolution in consciousness toward a situation in which all material forms
will reveal the indwelling spirit. He postulated several states of consciousness,
such as the Overmind, Intuitive mind, Higher mind, and Illumined mind.
These states he saw as interconnected and revealing different levels of
reality and unity. Normal waking consciousness is steeped in individualism,
while the higher states reveal an ultimate unity. Psyche or soul was the
manifestation of the divine as it occurs within individuals, for the purpose
of reuniting with the universal.
Sri Aurobindo was a mystic who achieved his ascending levels of consciousness
through yoga and meditation. Yet, in 1926 he had a profound experience
of the Overmind descending into him, and stressed that it is not
merely transcendence that we are seeking, but an integration of that higher
mind with our involvement in the daily world. In this way, he described
his spiritual practice as Integral Yoga, for it integrated the many
systems of India, with daily practice and political and worldly activity.
Sri Aurobindo, or the Adventure of Consciousness by Satprem
The Essential Aurobindo, by Robert McDermott
Sri Aurobindo: A Biography and History, by K.R. Srinivasa
and a collection of Aurobindo's writings:
Birth Centenary Library, Pondicherry, India (a 30 volume set).
Written by Anodea Judith, Dec. 96;