"No one can write about my life because it has not been on the surface for man to see," Wrote Sri Aurobindo. On another occasion, when requested to give his consent to a disciple for helping a writer of his biography, he wrote in his inimitable way, "I do not want to be murdered by my own disciples in cold print."
How could one probe into such an inner life-infinitely rich not only in its human content of intellectual, emotional and volitional movements, but filled with many varied spiritual experiences which transcend the human consciousness? The movement of ascent of consciousness from Mind to Super mind, from the human to the Divine, is accompanied in his case by a descent with that light and power into the human instrumentation-mind, life and body. A Yogi's real life is his inner life,-in fact, that is his only real life.
Even from the external point of view the writing of Sri Aurobindo's life presents a very great difficulty due to his versatility. He was a professor, a scholar, a poet, a political leader, a journalist, a philosopher, a dramatist, an indologist, a psychologist, a literary critic, a translator, and an original interpreter of the Veda, the Upanishads and the Gita.
But there was a pressing reason, which urged me to take up this task. In spite of his aversion to the writing of his biography, people who knew very little about him began to publish unauthorized books on his life and work. Some of them contained altogether fanciful accounts even of the incidents in his life. Among them may be mentioned, Mr. Kulkarni's biography in Marathi, Yogi Aurobindo Ghose, Girija Shankar Roy Chowdhury's so called life of Sri Aurobindo which appeared serially in the Bengali monthly, Udbodhan, and Hemchandra Das's story of the revolutionary movement in Bengal.
I had occasion to refer to Sri Aurobindo all the doubtful points of these books for correction or corroboration. This gave me the correct ground for his biography. I had been collecting materials myself since 1923.
The Baroda State service records of Sri Aurobindo were secured by me in 1944 through Shri D.B.Shukla's help and submitted to Sri Aurobindo. He corrected these in his own handwriting.
Subsequently, my visit to England in 1955 enabled me to gather materials about his early life there, which I have incorporated in this book.(A fuller account is published in the small book Sri Aurobindo in England.)
There is a lot of authentic biographical material in his own letters and other writings, which I have tried to put in chronological order. Where his own writing was not available, I have depended on contemporary evidence-mostly of those who were participants in the events or movements of his life.
Certain portions selected from sri Aurobindo on Himself and arranged in part four will give the reader some idea, in Sri Aurobindo's won words, of the work which he did for others and for the world by using his spitritual power under divine guidance. In this age of the atom bomn, which seems to drive humanity to peace through fear, the possibility and assurance of a dynamic use of spiritual power can open out a new and a more lasting way to peace and harmony.
And even with all these materials one can only indicate the landmarks of his iner life:
1.His meeting with Vishnu Bhasker Lele and the experience of the Silent Brahaman consciousness that never afterwards left him.
2. His vivid experience of thew omnipresent Narayana during his confinement in a solitary cell in alipore jail.
3.His seclusion at Pondicherry and the crucial and significant fact of his meeting with the Mother.
4. The descent of the Higher poer on 24 November 1926.
As to the outer aspect of his life, the output of his literary work alone is staggering in its volume, variety and originality. His contribution to the political freedom of Indiaaa can be properly felt by those who have lived through the stormy days of the partition of Bengal when the national spirit burst out like aa volcano in the placid, flat ground of Indian politics. The voice of awakened India was first heard week by week and day by day in the fiery columns of the Bande Mataram and the Karmayogin. These papers breathed the lofty air of freedom charged with an ideatlism that raised politics to the hights of religious fervour and spirituality. It converted hundreds to a life of dedication to the cause of freedom of Mother India.
But over and above his solid contribution to literature and the struggle for freedom, he has given a loftier vision to the mdern world-the vision of man's destiny of divine life on earth. Thsi vision, accompanied by an active effort in collaboration with the Mother, has created, out of almost nothing, two institutions of international importance-the Ashram and the sri Aurobindo International Center of Education, where the pattern of the new life envisaged in his conception of man's destiny on earth is being worked out. These activities, fostered and helped the deepest spiritual aspiration of thousands of men and women of all races and creeds.
It is hoped that this book may inspire the reader to realise the great ideal in his own life.
The form of the book may seem to some rather matter of fact. I believe that the narrative of Sri Aurobindo's life in his own words will be found inspiring.The only claim that the book can make is that it is authentic as far as events, dates, views and opinions are concerned. There are some repetitions in the book, which have been intentionally retained.
The help rendered by my friends Shri Krishnalal Bhatt and Sri Vishnuprasad in preparing the manuscript is greatfully acknowledged.
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