Sri Aurobindo: A Legend is an attempt to present the life and personality of the great modern sage and seer Sri Aurobindo, as seen mainly through his own writings. With considerable autobiographical material woven into the text, this book is yet another interesting and new discourse on Sri Aurobindo's prophetic thoughts as poet, politician, philosopher, yogi. Covering a wide range of analyses of almost all aspects of Sri Aurobindo's life, it is an invaluable resource especially to students of Aurobindonian studies, and hopes to serve the interests of a varied readership.
Dr. Madhumita Dutta is serving as Assistant Professor of English in Vidyasagar College for Women in Kolkata. She obtained her Ph.D. degree from Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, for her thesis on Sri Aurobindo's Savitri. Her publications include two books and several articles in books and journals. She has attended and presented papers at International conferences abroad. She is engaged in research on Sri Aurobindo's works, spiritualism and feminism.
"Religion and its thought and ethics and occult mysticism in ancient times produced the priest and the mage, the man of piety, the just man, the man of wisdom, many high points of mental manhood; but it is only after spiritual experience through the heart and mind began that we see arise the saint, the prophet, the Rishi, the Yogi, the seer; the spiritual sage and the mystic, and it is the religions in which these types of spiritual manhood came into being that have endured, covered the globe and given mankind all its spiritual aspiration and culture." Every age, race, nation in the world has had its spiritual leader, poet, sage, seer and Prophet. They have been born in times of crisis, or was it the crisis that made them choose their roles, is difficult to analyze. But the fact remains that great leaders have emerged from time to time who have re-directed the journey of mankind in the right path whenever it has gone astray. These Messiahs, who transcended the barriers of race, caste, nationality, religion, came with their eternal message of Deliverance. Sri Aurobindo was one such Deliverer, whose message the world shall disregard at its own peril. Sri Aurobindo had said that any attempt at his biography was bound to be a failure. Yet time and again men have attempted to write the story of his life. I do not wish to add my name to any list of renowned biographers; this labour of mine is virtually to satisfy a long-held desire to write about and present to the world Sri Aurobindo as I have understood him. We need something to live by, a belief in something, a belief so strong that it becomes a passion, a source of sustenance. For me it is the grace of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and their thoughts as expressed in human language. The more I came into contact with this Force, the more I felt the need of a keener analysis, a deeper association, to know more from him and about him whom I have called my Master. Also, as Sri Aurobindo is not a very popular or famous name outside a small (but now
widening) circle of readers and scholars, I have been asked many times about the kind of 'work' that he has done. To this mostly my answer has been an uncomfortable silence. How can I judge, measure and explain the immensity of his task, the arduous labour he undertook for mankind? "How can the mind judge what is beyond all its measures? "2 To understand, one must go to Sri Aurobindo himself: "Sri Aurobindo has come on earth not to bring a teaching or a creed in competition with previous creeds or teachings, but to show the way to overpass the past and to open concretely the route towards an imminent and inevitable future."' Since a small explanation is not possible to any questions on the issue, the brave idea crossed my mind of answering with a book on Sri Aurobindo's life and works. This adventure of a `biography' thus rose out of many considerations. Many a time, before I seriously began the work I was troubled by this thought: In tasks so bold can little men engage? But then I dared to venture ahead with the project, well aware of my littleness against his greatness, my limitations against his universality, my ignorance against his Knowledge. Sri Aurobindo had dissuaded Sadhaks from writing about his life as he did not want to be 'murdered by his own disciples in cold print'. I have nobody's permission to seek; I am only guided by intuition and devotion in this adventure -for me a difficult one indeed! And I hope to keep alive his words on the pages of the book.
Sri Aurobindo's life presents many pictures. We may see him as the Cambridge scholar, or the journalist, the revolutionary or under- trial prisoner, the poet, the politician or the mystic, the apostle, or the philosopher, the world-redeemer, and shall we crown him with the honour of Mahayogi, the seer and the Rishi? He himself never cared for fame: "I do not care a button about having my name in any blessed place. I was never ardent about fame even in my political days; I preferred to remain behind the curtain ... I don't believe in...propaganda except for politics and patent medicines. But for serious work it is a poison. It means either a stunt or a boom-and stunts and booms exhaust the thing they carry on their crest and leave it lifeless and broken high and dry on the shores of nowhere-or it means a movement. ... If [my] work gets done, then it will propagate itself so far as propagation is necessary-if it were not to get done, propagation would be useless."
"Period-divisions ofa human life -especially a life so rich, so many-sided, so incommensurable as Sri Aurobindo's - can only be props of convenience." 6 A Mahayogi's life is not just a recordation of events in some order; it hardly affords a logical or set pattern or formula for interpretation. Minor incidents, forgotten narratives and 'life's little ironies' go to add the extra dimension of mystery to a life already richly loaded with the 'Incomprehensible.' Record of Sri Aurobindo's life's activities, as visible to the human world has been the subject of standard histories. Still, about certain years of his life, very little or no information is available except what we extract from his notes, letters and other creative writings in prose, poetry, plays, essays, political journalism. It is on these that I have based my biography, one of the objects of which is to remove some misunderstandings regarding Sri Aurobindo, and also to comprehend a little more of his philosophy, which, I feel will be a great help in confronting the problems of modern life. I have specially focused on one or two debatable events which were major turning points in Sri Aurobindo's life. One concerns the ICS episode of his student days in England over which many questions are raised and many speculations made. Another event over which there is disagreement between historians centres around Sri Aurobindo's `sudden' giving up of politics and 'flight' to Pondicherry. I have attempted to clear some misconceptions regarding these and other like issues, for instance, Sri Aurobindo's support of the British in the 2nd World War, with supportive arguments. These have been major areas of debates, arguments and assumptions, and unfortunately, sometimes of wrong assessment and biased judgments. Men find it hard to believe in the political philosophy of a Yogi, and that has been the result of focusing too much attention on his yogic persona at the cost of neglecting all others. As a yogi, Sri Aurobindo still sustained, if with more zeal, his love for the motherland, love for man and love for God. And he was guided and moved by the intuitive power which seeks no selfish ends but cares for the good of all. His life had that unmistakable Divine aspect to it, which we associate with the Avatar, the Rishi. It was not difficult for him to carry on his arduous labour of world-redeeming Yoga while keeping abreast of all happenings in the outer world.
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