Sri Aurobindo

Life Of Aurobindo

Aurobind is the Bengali form of original Sanskrit word Arvind, which means Lotus. Aurobindo was born on August 15, 1872 in Calcutta's Hoogly district of West Bengal in East India. The Ghosh family, in which he was born, belonged to Konnagar village. He was the third son of his father. His two elder brothers were Benoy Bhushan and Manmohan. Sarojini, his younger sister was extremely devoted to him. Birendra was the youngest brother, born in England, but returned to India with his mother and sister. His grandfather was closely associated with the Brahmo Samaj.

Aurobindo's mother, Swarnalata Devi was an educated lady, who could write stories and dramas, yet was also orthodox in her religious learning. She was popularly known as Rose of Rangpur due to her personal charm and cultured bearing. His father, Dr. Krishnadhan Ghosh was considered one of the most successful civil surgeons of those days. He was the first Indian from Bengal to go to Britain for education.

Aurobindo, when five, was sent to Loretto Convent School run by an Irish nun, at Darjeeling, where the three brothers had only European boys as friends and companion for the school was only meant for Europeans. Dr. Krishnadhan Ghosh was highly impressed and influenced by the western education that he had had. He wanted his children to have the same.


Sri Aurobindo's teachings begin with the reality of being and consciousness. A self of all things one and eternal are behind the appearances of the Universe. All things are united in that One Self and Spirit. These are divided by an ignorance of their true Self, Reality in the mind, life and body. A certain psychological discipline can remove this thin layer that distinguishes consciousness and become aware of the true self, the Divinity within all of us.

According to Sri Aurobindo's teaching, One Being and Consciousness are involved here in Matter. Evolution method liberates itself, consciousness seen in what appears to be inconscient and once it is appeared it self - implies to grow higher and higher and also to enlarge and develop towards higher perfection. Life is considered to be the first step and mind the second step of this release of consciousness. But the evolution does not accomplish with the mind; rather it awaits release into something greater than is a consciousness, which is spiritual and superamental. The next step should be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the authoritative power in the conscious being.

Nature had taken the former steps in evolution without a conscious will that prevail in the plant and animal life. Whereas in man 'Nature becomes evolved' by conscious will in the instrument. However this cannot be done totally by the mental will in man, because the mind goes only to a certain point, after that it can only move in a circle. A conversion - the turning of consciousness by which mind has to change into higher principles. This method can be found through the ancient psychological discipline and practice of Yoga.

Sri Aurobindo teaches that "a descent of the higher principle is possible, which will not merely release the spiritual self out of the world, but release it in the world, replace the mind's ignorance or its very limited knowledge by a superamental Truth - consciousness, which will be a sufficient instrument of the inner self and make it possible for the human being to find himself dynamically as well as inwardly and grow out of his still humanity into a divine race."

Therefore the process of the Self-discipline or Sadhana is long and difficult but still a little of it is of much help because this makes the ultimate release and perfection more possible.

Sri Aurobindo's teaching and his method of practice was not to develop any one religion or to combine the older religions or to form any new religion. One of the aims of his Yoga was the development of inner-self and also evolve a higher consciousness than the mental that is a spiritual and superamental consciousness that will transform and divinise human nature.


From 1910 to 1920 Sri Aurobindo lived with his five young disciples in Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo had mentioned that he had met those young disciples on the political front, hence there did not exist any spiritual relations in the beginning. But the practice of Yoga developed and gradually the Guru (master) - Sadhaks (disciples) spiritual relations began.

In 1914, Sri Aurobindo continued with Arya and started editing it. In the same year Mother arrived at Pondicherry with Paul Richard. She stayed here for one month and went back. As the years passed, number of people increased and when Mother returned in 1920 and finally settled in Pondicherry, the Ashram was established. Mother began organizing it.

This Ashram was not pre-planned or creative. It was more of a spontaneous growth. The number of disciples increased so rapidly that they had no option but to arrange for their lodging & boarding. They had to rent houses according to the need. They were also required to make arrangements for maintenance, repairs and rebuilding of houses. The establishment of the Ashram led the disciples to let their spiritual lives to unfold and develop in the light of Sri Aurobindo and under the constant care of Mother. Ashram had spawned from an informal group of about two dozen Sadhaks into a spiritual community with thousands of members. The members were not confined only to India, but were also from other countries of Asia, Europe and America. Both male and female were included as members irrespective of their caste or creed.

There was no special building built for the Ashram. A few buildings in a corner comprised the Ashram. Later the number of Ashrams went up to more than 400 buildings spread throughout the town. A group of houses including those in which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for most part of their lives in Pondicherry is the central focus of the Ashram. This interconnected block of houses is known as the Ashram main building. It is surrounded with trees in a courtyard. In the center, lies a flower-covered Samadhi (memorial). A white marble shrine that holds in two separate chambers, mortal remains of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.


Sri Aurobindo had started Yoga in Baroda. This became his mission in life. In 1904, he began to practice Pranayama. His experience is described as; "The results were remarkable. Many visions of scenes and figures I used to see. I felt an electric power around my head. My powers of writing were nearly dried up - they revived with a great vigor. I could write prose and poetry with flow. That flow has never ceased since then. If I have not written afterwards it is because I had something else to do. But the moment I want to write it is there. Thirdly, great health. I grew stout and strong, the skin became smooth and fair and there was a flow of sweetness in the saliva. I used to feel a certain aura around the head. There were plenty of mosquitoes but these did not come to me."

He has also described some other experiences : "Then there came a Sanyasi - Naga (Naked) - who gave me the stotra (hymn) of Kali. It was very violent stotra with jahi (kill) in it. I used to repeat it. It did not give me any results."

Sri Aurobindo at Ganganth (a place on the bank of the river Narmada) met Brahmananda, a contemporary yogi adept in Pranayam, just before his death when Keshavananda was there. He further described as "it was at this time that I gave up meat, diet and found a great feeling of lightness and purification in the system. With the European mind I had at that time no faith in the Gods. I had gone to Karnali (near Chandod, South Gujarat) and there are several temples there. There is one Kali temple and when I looked at the image I saw the living presence there. For the first time I believed in 'presence' of God."

Sri Aurobindo went on a tour of Kashmir in 1903. There he visited the hill of Shankaracharya, who is also known as Takhal - I - Suleman (Seat of Solomon). And experienced the vacant Infinite in a very tangible way. He has described this experience in his poem Adwaita. Few lines of that are described as under :

"I walked on the high - wayed seat of Solomon,

where Shankaracharya's tiny temple stands,

facing infinity from Time's edge, alone,

on the bare ridge ending earth's vain romance

around me was a formless solitude,

all had become one strange Unnameable."

Another interesting experience in Baroda was of an accident that was narrowly averted. Sri Aurobindo was travelling in his carriage from Camp Road towards the city. Just by the sight of public gardens, he saw the possibility of an accident. He found that with the will to prevent it, there appeared a Being of Light in him who was there, as it were, to master the situation and to control the details."