"I entered into political action and continued it from 1903-1910 with one aim and one alone, to get into the mind of the people a settled will for freedom and the necessity of a struggle to achieve it, in place of the futile ambling congress methods till then in vogue.".
(From Sri Aurobindo's Letter to Barrister Joseph Baptista on January 5, 1920)
Sri Aurobindo- His life and work
Sri Aurobindo was born on August 15, 1872 in Kolkata, India. At the age of seven he was sent to England for education. He began writing poetry at an early age, and during a brilliant academic carrier at St. Paul's in London & then at king's college, Cambridge, he mastered not only English but also Greek, Latin, French and became familiar with German, Italian and Spanish. He stayed and studied in England for fourteen years and gained a deep insight into the culture of ancient, mediaeval and modern Europe.
In 1893, at the age of twentyone, Sri Aurobindo returned to India with a completely occidental education. The moment he set his foot on the Indian soil, Mother India welcomed him with a unique spiritual experience : a vast calm descended upon him and remained for long afterwards. Sri Aurobindo now turned his attention towards the wisdom and truth of the orient. He learned Sanskrit and several modern Indian Languages, and assimilated the spirit of Indian Civilisation in all its aspects. He spent thirteen years in Baroda in the administrative and educational services of the state. These were of self-culture and of literary activity, but a great part of the last years of this period was also spent, on leave in Silent political activities.
In 1906, at the age of thirty four, Sri Aurobindo came to Kolkata, as the principal of the Bengal National College. He registered soon after to participate openly in India's struggle for freedom. He became a leader of the Nationalist party, and his editorials in the daily Bande Mataram at once made him an all -India figure. In less than four years he revolutionised the moderate and ineffectual stand of the congress, fixed in the national consciousness the goal of complete Independence and gave a new direction to the freedom movement. Although "he was on the high skies only for a time", observes Dr Pattavi Sitaramayya, the celebrated historian of the Indian National Congress "he flooded the land from cape to Mount with the effulgence of his light."
From 1908 to 1909 Sri Aurobindo was kept in detention by the British government. This proved to be of immense significance because, during this period, Sri Aurobindo underwent a series of decisive spiritual experiences which established the course of his future work. In 1910, assured of the ultimate success of the freedom movement and in answer to an inner command, Sri Aurobindo withdrew from the political field and sailed for pondicherry, to devote himself entirely to his evolving spiritual mission.
In 1914, after four years of silent Yoga, he started the Philosophical monthly, Arya, through which he revealed his new message for humanity : man's divine destiny (The Life Divine), the path to its realisation (The Synthesis of Yoga), The progress of human society towards a divine future (The Human Cycle), The realisation of the oneness of mankind (The Ideal of Human Unity), The inner meaning and significance of Indian spirituality and civilisation (The Foundation of Indian culture, On the Vedas, The Upanishads, Essays on the Gita), the nature and evolution of poetry (The Future poetry). His supreme work in Poetry is Savitri- A legend and a symbol, an epic of nearly 24,000 lines in blank verse in which a tale of the Mahabharata is made a symbol of the human soul's spiritual quest and destiny.
Sri Aurobindo envisioned and strove for a divine life upon earth' and, for forty years in Pondicherry he remained absorbed in this spiritual work. At the same time he kept a close watch on all that was happening in India and the world and, whenever necessary, actively intervened but solely with a spiritual force and silent spiritual action, Sri Aurobindo left his body in 1950, but his vision and ideals continue to draw more and more people all over the world.
Four Realisations of Sri Aurobindo and His Mission
Sri Aurobindo's yoga and spiritual philosophy are founded on four great realisations. Two of these he had realised in full before his coming to pondicherry in 1910. The first the realisation of the Silent, spaceless and timeless Brahman, he had gained while meditating with Lele in 1908. The feeling and perception of the total unreality of the world which at first attended his realisation disappeared after the second realisation, which has gained in the Alipore Jail in 1908-1909, the realisation of the cosmic consciousness and the vision of the Divine as all beings and as all that is. In his meditations in the Jail Sri Aurobindo was already on his way to the other two realisations- that of the Supreme Reality with the static and dynamic Brahman as its two aspects and that of the higher planes of consciousness leading to the Supermind.
By 1912 the third realisation was attained when Sri Aurobindo experienced an "abiding realisation and dwelling in Parbrahman" (The Supreme Reality). The process of ascent into the higher planes of consciousness and of bringing down the power of those planes into the physical consciousness continued. On 24 November, 1926 this effort was crowned by the descent of the "Godhead of the Overmind," the highest of the planes between mind and Supermind, into the physical. This descent was preparatory to the descend of the supermind itself, by which "the perfection dreamed of by all that is highest in humanity can come."
From 1926 Sri Aurobindo worked spiritually to bring about the Supramental descend, and in 1950 left his physical body to hasten its advent.
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