Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2006


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Sri Aurobindo—Indian Sage, Mystic, Poet, Philosopher

August 15, 1872, 5:17 AM, (or 5:00 AM) LMT, near Calcutta, India. (Source: Notable Horoscopes by B.V. Raman; also, according to LMR, Marion March quotes “Auroville:City of the Future”) Died, December 5, 1950, Pondicherry, India.            

(Ascendant, Leo; Sun, Jupiter, Uranus, Leo; Moon Sagittarius; Mercury and Venus in Virgo; Mars, Cancer; Saturn, Capricorn; Neptune, Aries; Pluto, Taurus).   

Sri Aurobindo possessed a vast abstract mentality, equally at home with Eastern or Western philosophical thought. The nature of his thought and writings reveal both the second and third rays potently present.      

Well educated with a successful mundane life before he became a religious leader and philosopher; founded a City of Light ashram in Pondicherri, India. As a Guru worked with a Frenchwoman, "Mother Mira" Richards. Wrote voluminously to present the highest of Indian thought.


The Mother's consciousness is the divine Consciousness and the Light that comes from it is the light of the divine Truth, the Force that she brings down is the force of the divine Truth. One who receives and accepts and lives in the Mother's light, will begin to see the truth on all the planes, the mental, the vital, the physical. He will reject all that is undivine, -- the undivine is the falsehood, the ignorance, the error of the dark forces; the undivine is all that is obscure and unwilling to accept the divine Truth and its light and force. The undivine, therefore, is all that is unwilling to accept the light and force of the Mother. That is why I am always telling you to keep yourself in contact with the Mother and with her light and Force, because it is only so that you can come out of this confusion and obscurity and receive the Truth that comes from above.

When we speak of the Mother's Light or my Light in a special sense, we are speaking of a special occult action -- we are speaking of certain lights that come from the Supermind. In this action the Mother's is the White Light that purifies, illumines, brings down the whole essence and power of the Truth and makes the transformation possible. But in fact all light that comes from above, from the highest divine Truth is the Mother's.

There is no difference between the Mother's path and mine; we have and have always had the same path, the path that leads to the supramental change and the divine realisation; not only at the end, but from the beginning they have been the same.

The attempt to set up a division and opposition, putting the Mother on one side and myself on another and opposite or quite different side, has always been a trick of the forces of the Falsehood when they want to prevent a Sadhak from reaching the Truth. Dismiss all such falsehoods from your mind.

Know that the Mother's light and force are the light and force of the Truth; remain always in contact with the Mother's light and force, then only can you grow into the divine Truth.

I started the Yoga in 1904 and all my work except some poetry was done afterwards. Moreover, my intelligence was inborn and so far as it grew before the Yoga, it was not by training but by a wide haphazard activity developing ideas from all things read, seen or experienced. That is not training, it is natural growth.

I had no urge toward spirituality in me, I developed spirituality. I was incapable of understanding metaphysics, I developed into a philosopher. I had no eye for painting -- I developed it by Yoga. I transformed my nature from what it was to what it was not. I did it by a special manner, not by a miracle and I did it to show what could be done and how it could be done. I did not do it out of any personal necessity of my own or by a miracle without any process. I say that if it is not so, then my Yoga is useless and my life was a mistake -- a mere absurd freak of Nature without meaning or consequence. You all seem to think it a great compliment to me to say that what I have done has no meaning for anybody except myself -- it is the most damaging criticism on my work that could be made. I also did not do it by myself, if you mean by myself the Aurobindo that was. He did it by the help of Krishna and the Divine Shakti. I had help from human sources also.

But what strange ideas again! -- that I was born with a supramental temperament and that I know nothing of hard realities! Good God! My whole life has been a struggle with hard realities, from hardships, starvation in England and constant and fierce difficulties to the far greater difficulties continually cropping up here in Pondicherry, external and internal. My life has been a battle from its early years and is still a battle: the fact that I wage it now from a room upstairs and by spiritual means as well as others that are external makes no difference to its character. But, of course, as we have not been shouting about these things, it is natural, I suppose, for others to think that I am living in an august, glamorous, lotus-eating dreamland where no hard facts of life or Nature present themselves. But what an illusion all the same!


Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta on 15 August, 1872. In 1879, at the age of seven, he was taken with his two elder brothers to England for education and lived there for fourteen years. Brought up at first in an English family at Manchester, he joined St. Paul's School in London in 1884 and in 1890 went from it with a senior classical scholarship to King's College, Cambridge, where he studied for two years. In 1890 he passed also the open competition for the Indian Civil Service, but at the end of two years of probation failed to present himself at the riding examination and was disqualified for the Service. At this time the Gaekwar of Baroda was in London. Sri Aurobindo saw him, obtained an appointment in the Baroda Service and left England for India, arriving there in February, 1893.

Sri Aurobindo passed thirteen years, from 1893 to 1906, in the Baroda Service, first in the Revenue Department and in secretariate work for the Maharaja, afterwards as Professor of English and, finally, Vice-Principal in the Baroda College. These were years of self-culture, of literary activity -- for much of the poetry afterwards published from Pondicherry was written at this time -- and of preparation for his future work. In England he had received, according to his father's express instructions, an entirely occidental education without any contact with the culture of India and the East.

At Baroda he made up the deficiency, learned Sanskrit and several modern Indian languages, assimilated the spirit of Indian civilisation and its forms past and present. A great part of the last years of this period was spent on leave in silent political activity, for he was debarred from public action by his position at Baroda. The outbreak of the agitation against the partition of Bengal in 1905 gave him the opportunity to give up the Baroda Service and join openly in the political movement. He left Baroda in 1906 and went to Calcutta as Principal of the newly-founded Bengal National College.

The political action of Sri Aurobindo covered eight years, from 1902 to 1910. During the first half of this period he worked behind the scenes, preparing with other co-workers the beginnings of the Swadeshi (Indian Sinn Fein) movement, till the agitation in Bengal furnished an opening for the public initiation of a more forward and direct political action than the moderate reformism which had till then been the creed of the Indian National Congress. In 1906 Sri Aurobindo came to Bengal with this purpose and joined the New Party, an advanced section small in numbers and not yet strong in influence, which had been recently formed in the Congress.

The political theory of this party was a rather vague gospel of Non-cooperation; in action it had not yet gone farther than some ineffective clashes with the Moderate leaders at the annual Congress assembly behind the veil of secrecy of the "Subjects Committee". Sri Aurobindo persuaded its chiefs in Bengal to come forward publicly as an All-India party with a definite and challenging programme, putting forward Tilak, the popular Maratha leader at its head, and to attack the then dominant Moderate (Reformist or Liberal) oligarchy of veteran politicians and capture from them the Congress and the country. This was the origin of the historic struggle between the Moderates and the Nationalists (called by their opponents Extremists) which in two years changed altogether the face of Indian politics.

The new-born Nationalist party put forward Swaraj (independence) as its goal as against the far-off Moderate hope of colonial self-government to be realised at a distant date of a century or two by a slow progress of reform; it proposed as its means of execution a programme which resembled in spirit, though not in its details, the policy of Sinn Fein developed some years later and carried to a successful issue in Ireland.

The principle of this new policy was self-help; it aimed on one side at an effective organisation of the forces of the nation and on the other professed a complete non-cooperation with the Government. Boycott of British and foreign goods and the fostering of Swadeshi industries to replace them, boycott of British law courts, and the foundation of a system of Arbitration courts in their stead, boycott of Government universities and colleges and the creation of a network of National colleges and schools, the formation of societies of young men which would do the work of police and defence and, wherever necessary, a policy of passive resistance were among the immediate items of the programme.

Sri Aurobindo hoped to capture the Congress and make it the directing centre of an organised national action, an informal State within the State, which would carry on the struggle for freedom till it was won. He persuaded the party to take up and finance as its recognised organ the newly-founded daily paper, Bande Mataram, of which he was at the time acting editor. The Bande Mataram, whose policy from the beginning of 1907 till its abrupt winding up in 1908 when Sri Aurobindo was in prison was wholly directed by him, circulated almost immediately all over India. During its brief but momentous existence it changed the political thought of India which has ever since preserved fundamentally, even amidst its later developments, the stamp then imparted to it. But the struggle initiated on these lines, though vehement and eventful and full of importance for the future, did not last long at the time; for the country was still unripe for so bold a programme.

Sri Aurobindo was prosecuted for sedition in 1907 and acquitted. Up till now an organiser and writer, he was obliged by this event and by the imprisonment or disappearance of other leaders to come forward as the acknowledged head of the party in Bengal and to appear on the platform for the first time as a speaker. He presided over the Nationalist Conference at Surat in 1907 where in the forceful clash of two equal parties the Congress was broken to pieces.

In May, 1908, he was arrested in the Alipore Conspiracy Case as implicated in the doings of the revolutionary group led by his brother Barindra; but no evidence of any value could be established against him and in this case too he was acquitted. After a detention of one year as undertrial prisoner in the Alipore Jail, he came out in May, 1909, to find the party organisation broken, its leaders scattered by imprisonment, deportation or self-imposed exile and the party itself still existent but dumb and dispirited and incapable of any strenuous action. For almost a year he strove single-handed as the sole remaining leader of the Nationalists in India to revive the movement.

He published at this time to aid his effort a weekly English paper, the Karmayogin, and a Bengali weekly, the Dharma. But at last he was compelled to recognise that the nation was not yet sufficiently trained to carry out his policy and programme. For a time he thought that the necessary training must first be given through a less advanced Home Rule movement or an agitation of passive resistance of the kind created by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa. But he saw that the hour of these movements had not come and that he himself was not their destined leader. Moreover, since his twelve months' detention in the Alipore Jail, which had been spent entirely in practice of Yoga, his inner spiritual life was pressing upon him for an exclusve concentration. He resolved therefore to withdraw from the political field, at least for a time. (see note 2)

In February, 1910, he withdrew to a secret retirement at Chandernagore and in the beginning of April sailed for Pondicherry in French lndia. A third prosecution was launched against him at this moment for a signed article in the Karmayogin; in his absence it was pressed against the printer of the paper who was convicted, but the conviction was quashed on appeal in the High Court of Calcutta. For the third time a prosecution against him had failed.

Sri Aurobindo had left Bengal with some intention of returning to the political field under more favourable circumstances; but very soon the magnitude of the spiritual work he had taken up appeared to him and he saw that it would need the exclusive concentration of all his energies. Eventually he cut off connection with politics, refused repeatedly to accept the Presidentship of the National Congress and went into a complete retirement. During all his stay at Pondicherry from 1910 onward he remained more and more exclusively devoted to his spiritual work and his sadhana.

In 1914 after four years of silent Yoga he began the publication of a philosophical monthly, the Arya. Most of his more important works, The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita, The Isha Upanishad, appeared serially in the Arya. These works embodied much of the inner knowledge that had come to him in his practice of Yoga. Others were concerned with the spirit and significance of Indian civilisation and culture (The Foundations of Indian Culture), the true meaning of the Vedas (The Secret of the Veda), the progress of human society (The Human Cycle), the nature and evolution of poetry (The Future Poetry), the possibility of the unification of the human race (The Ideal of Human Unity).

At this time also he began to publish his poems, both those written in England and at Baroda and those, fewer in number, added during his period of political activity and in the first years of his residence at Pondicherry. The Arya ceased publication in 1921 after six years and a half of uninterrupted appearance. Sri Aurobindo lived at first in retirement at Pondicherry with four or five disciples. Afterwards more and yet more began to come to him to follow his spiritual path and the number became so large that a community of sadhaks had to be formed for the maintenance and collective guidance of those who had left everything behind for the sake of a higher life. This was the foundation of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram which has less been created than grown around him as its centre.

Sri Aurobindo began his practice of Yoga in 1904. At first gathering into it the essential elements of spiritual experience that are gained by the paths of divine communion and spiritual realisation followed till now in India, he passed on in search of a more complete experience uniting and harmonising the two ends of existence, Spirit and Matter. Most ways of Yoga are paths to the Beyond leading to the Spirit and, in the end, away from life; Sri Aurobindo's rises to the Spirit to redescend with its gains bringing the light and power and bliss of the Spirit into life to transform it. Man's present existence in the material world is in this view or vision of things a life in the Ignorance with the Inconscient at its base, but even in its darkness and nescience there are involved the presence and possibilities of the Divine.

Sri Aurobindo left his body on December 5, 1950. The Mother carried on his work until November 17, 1973. Their work continues.

1. It may be observed that Sri Aurobindo's education in England gave him a wide introduction to the culture of ancient, of mediaeval and of modern Europe. He was a brilliant scholar in Greek and Latin. He had learned French from his childhood in Manchester and studied for himself German and Italian sufficiently to study Goethe and Dante in the original tongues. (He passed the Tripos in Cambridge in the first class and obtained record marks in Greek and Latin in the examination for the Indian Civil Service.)

The year was 1907. The freedom movement in India was gathering momentum. Its leader was detained by the police. The poet Rabindranath Tagore paid him a visit and wrote the now famous lines:

"Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee! O friend, my country's friend, O Voice incarnate, free, Of India's soul....The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God Hath come...Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee."

The year was 1928. The leader had now left politics and had gone to Pondicherry where he had plunged himself into the practice of yoga. The poet Tagore once again paid him a visit and declared: "You have the Word and we are waiting to accept it from you. India will speak through your voice to the world, `Hearken to me!'...Years ago I saw Aurobindo in the atmosphere of his earlier heroic youth and I sang to him: `Aurobindo, accept the salutations from Rabindranath.' Today I saw him in a deeper atmosphere of a reticent richness of wisdom and again sang to him in silence: `Aurobindo, accept the salutations from Rabindranath!'

How does one describe or speak about such a personality? Sri Aurobindo has been called a scholar, a literary critic, a philosopher, a revolutionary, a poet, a Yogi and a 'Rishi'. He was all these and much more. To have even a glimpse of the true Sri Aurobindo we have to turn to the Mother: "What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world's history is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme."

Therefore Sri Aurobindo declared, in no uncertain terms that nobody could write his biography: "Neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life; it has not been on the surface for men to see."

But he was not altogether averse to this effort and even made corrections when some biographers made the attempt. In the process the veil that hid the divine mystery was lifted a little.

Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta. The day was August 15, 1872, the time - 5.00 a.m., the hour of dawn. The date is doubly important. Seventy-five years later, exactly on that date - August 15 - India attained her freedom. In a message given on that day Sri Aurobindo, who had played a leading role in the freedom struggle, said:

"I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition."

The date has an even greater and deeper significance. Sri Aurobindo has explained it thus:

"The 15th August is the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary; it implies that the physical nature is raised to the divine Nature..."
And this was in a way the goal of Sri Aurobindo's life. To divinise the earth, to make matter the Spirit's willing bride.

The name given to Sri Aurobindo at birth was quaintly Aurobindo Ackroyd Ghose! His father Dr. K. D. Ghose had returned from England with a completely Western outlook. He was enamoured of everything Western and, because a British lady Miss Annette Ackroyd happened to be present, her name was also added to Aurobindo's name. Later Sri Aurobindo was to say in a humorous tone about his father:

"Everyone makes the forefathers of a great man very religious- minded, pious etc. It is not true in my case at any rate. My father was a tremendous atheist."

But Dr. Ghose was also `generous to a fault'. Nobody went empty- handed from his door. And the mother of Sri Aurobindo, Swarnalata Devi, was so beautiful and gracious that she was known as the "Rose of Rangpur". Sri Aurobindo was the third among five children. The two elder brothers were Benoy Bhushan and Monomohan and the younger sister was Sarojini followed by the youngest brother, Barindranath

When Sri Aurobindo was five years old, he was sent to Loretto Convent School at Darjeeling. Two years later, in 1879, Dr. Ghose sent his sons, including Aurobindo who was then only seven, to England, with strict instructions that the young Aurobindo should have a completely Western education and should not even come into the slightest contact with anything Indian. A new chapter in his life had begun.

Sri Aurobindo lived at Manchester with the Rev. and Mrs. Drewett. While his brothers studied at school, he was taught at home by the Rev. Drewett. He developed, very early, a love for poetry, which was to last him throughout his life. Even at that young age of eleven he contributed a few poems to the local "Fox" Magazine.

In 1884 Sri Aurobindo shifted to London and was admitted to St. Paul's. The headmaster was so pleased with his mastery of Latin that he took it upon himself to teach him Greek. It is here that Sri Aurobindo plunged into the literature of the Western world and studied several languages - French, Italian, Spanish, Greek and Latin, and absorbed the best that Western culture had to offer him.

But these were also difficult times. The generosity of his father Dr. Ghose, had brought succour to many an unknown person in need in Khulna, where he was posted. But it had also made the stipend he sent to his own sons very irregular. Sri Aurobindo was then in his early teens. He describes how he spent several years in the bitter cold of London:

"During a whole year a slice or two of bread and butter and a cup of tea in the morning and in the evening only a penny saveloy (a kind of sausage) formed the only food." For nearly two years he had to go practically without dinner at that young age. He had no overcoat to protect him from the rigours of the London winter and there was no heating arrangement in the office where he slept, nor had he a proper bedroom.

But Sri Aurobindo was immersed in his books and was feasting on the thoughts of the great. He got the Butterworth Prize for literature, the Bedford Prize for history and a scholarship to Cambridge.

In 1890, at the age of eighteen, Sri Aurobindo got admission into Cambridge. He studied the classics doing brilliantly and passed high in the First part of the Tripos. The famous Oscar Browning happened to correct his papers and told Sri Aurobindo:

"I suppose you know you passed an extraordinarily high examination. I have examined papers at thirteen examinations and I have never during that time seen such excellent papers as yours (meaning my Classical papers at the scholarship examination). As for your essay, it was wonderful."

It was thus that Sri Aurobindo grew, away from his family, away from his motherland, away from his roots and his culture. He knew seven foreign languages but could not speak his own tongue, Bengali. He would not have been able to speak fluently with his own mother.

To comply with the wish of his father, Sri Aurobindo also applied for the ICS while at Cambridge. Here too he did brilliantly. But Sri Aurobindo was not meant to be an ICS officer, serving Her Majesty's Government as one more cog in a giant bureaucratic machine.

Dr. K.D. Ghose had by now become aware of the atrocities being committed by the British on Indians and began to send paper clippings of these to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo also felt that a period of great upheaval for his motherland was coming in which he was destined to play a leading role. He began to learn Bengali and joined a secret society, with the romantic name of `Lotus and Dagger', where the members took an oath to work for India's freedom.

Sri Aurobindo now looked for a way to disqualify himself from the ICS and did not appear for the horse-riding test. In normal circumstances this would have been a very minor lapse but the British Government, too, was aware of his political views and activities, and found this a good opportunity to reject him. Wrote Lord Kimberly, the Secretary of State for India, on his file: "I should much doubt whether Mr.Ghose would be a desirable addition to the Service."

Although he had done brilliantly in the ICS - a most sought-after vocation - Sri Aurobindo now, because of his own choice, found himself in London without a job. But destiny intervened. The Gaekwad of Baroda happened to be in London and offered him a place in his service. For long after, the Gaekwad boasted to his friends that he had got an ICS man for

Thus Sri Aurobindo sailed back to his country in 1893, at the age of twenty-one, having spent the most important and formative fourteen years of his life, in a foreign land. He had grown up in England but did not feel any attachment to it. Now India beckoned him.

And how did Mother India receive her son after fourteen years of exile? With her unique and price-less gift - a spiritual experience. The moment Sri Aurobindo put his foot down on Indian soil, at Apollo Bunder in (Mumbai)Bombay, a vast peace and calm descended upon him, never to leave him. Unknowingly and unasked the spiritual life had also begun, which was later to become his sole preoccupation.

But for the moment what occupied him was service in the Baroda State. He started by working in the survey and settlement dept., then in the department of revenue and finally in the Secretariat. He also drafted the speeches of the Gaekwad, who once remarked to Sri Aurobindo that nobody would believe that the Gaekwad could have written such speeches. But his interests lay elsewhere. The Gaekwad, in a report, praised his ability and intelligence but also commented on his lack of punctuality and regularity. After some time Sri Aurobindo was, therefore, transferred to the Baroda College, first as a teacher of French, and then as Vice- Principal, where he was very popular with the students for his unconventional way of teaching.

In 1894 Sri Aurobindo was 22 years old. He wrote humorously in a letter to his sister Sarojini in Bengal: "I am quite well. I have brought a fund of health with me from Bengal, which, I hope it will take me some time to exhaust; but I have just passed my twenty-second milestone, August 15 last, since my birthday and am beginning to get dreadfully old.

And this is how Sarojini describes him: "a very delicate face, long hair cut in English fashion; Sejda (older brother) was a very shy person."

In Baroda Sri Aurobindo plunged himself into a study of Indian culture, as if to make up for all the years he had lost. He learnt Hindustani, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, and Sanskrit. He was a voracious reader, and two bookshops in Bombay kept him regularly supplied with books sent in crates. Sitting by a kerosene lamp he would read late into the night, unmindful of the swarming mosquitoes and often quite unaware of the waiting food.

His cousin Basanti Devi wrote about him in a letter: "Auro Dada used to arrive with two or three trunks and we always thought it would contain costly suits and other luxury items like scents etc. When he opened them I used to look at them and wonder. What is this? A few ordinary clothes and all the rest books and nothing but books! Does Auro Dada like to read all these? We all want to chat and enjoy ourselves in vacations. Does he want to spend even this time in reading these books?

But because he liked this reading it did not mean that he did not join us in our talks and chats and our merry-making. His talk used to be full of wit and humour. " Sri Aurobindo read the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, Bankim as well as Homer, Dante, Horace and many others. He also wrote a lot of poetry and his first collection of poems was published from Baroda.

But another future was preparing itself for Sri Aurobindo at the same time. It began in a most unobtrusive way soon after he came to Baroda. K.G. Deshpande, a friend from his Cambridge days, was in charge of a weekly, "Induprakash", published from Bombay. He requested Sri Aurobindo to write upon the current political situation. Sri Aurobindo began writing a series of fiery articles under the title "New Lamps for Old", strongly criticising the Congress for its moderate policy. Wrote Sri Aurobindo:

"Our actual enemy is not any force exterior to ourselves, but our own crying weaknesses, our cowardice, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our purblind sentimentalism."
And he added,

"I say, of the Congress, then, this, - that its aims are mistaken, that the spirit in which it proceeds towards their accomplishment is not a spirit of sincerity and whole-heartedness, and that the methods it has chosen are not the right methods, and the leaders in whom it trusts, not the right sort of men to be leaders; - in brief, that we are at present theblind led, if not by the blind, at any rate by the one-eyed."

It would be interesting to remember that, when Sri Aurobindo wrote these scathing words with such insight he was merely 21 years old. The editors were frightened and requested Sri Aurobindo to write on cultural rather than political themes. Sri Aurobindo lost interest and the series stopped.

In 1901 Sri Aurobindo married Mrinalini Devi. Mrinalini had to go through all the joys and sorrows which are the lot of one who marries a genius and someone so much out of the ordinary as Sri Aurobindo.

Revolutionary Activity The period of stay in Baroda, from 1894 to 1906, was significant in several ways for Sri Aurobindo. It was here that he started working for India's freedom, behind the scenes. He perceived the need for broadening the base of the movement and for creating a mass awakening. He went to Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, contacted the secret groups working in this direction, and became a link between many of them. He established close contact with Lokmanya Tilak and Sister Nivedita. He arranged for the military training of Jatin Banerjee in the Baroda army and then sent him to organise the revolutionary work in Bengal.

Spiritual Experiences
At the same time the Divine too, continued to work unseen, within, revealing himself only on certain occasions. In his very first year at Baroda, Sri Aurobindo was going in a horse carriage and there was the possibility of a major accident. Suddenly he felt a Being of Light emerge from him and avert the accident. He described it in a sonnet written later on:

"Above my head a mighty head was seen, A face with the calm of immortality And an omnipotent gaze that held the scene In the vast circle of its sovereignty. His hair was mingled with the sun and breeze; The world was in His heart and He was I: I housed in me the Everlasting's peace, The strength of One whose substance cannot die."

In 1903 Sri Aurobindo went to Kashmir with the Maharaja. There on the Hills of Shankaracharya he had a beautiful spiritual experience. In another context, he described a similar experience thus:

"One stands upon a mountain ridge and glimpses or mentally feels a wideness, a pervasiveness, a nameless Vast in Nature; then suddenly there comes the touch, a revelation, a flooding, the mental loses itself in the spiritual, one bears the first invasion of the Infinite."

Once Sri Aurobindo visited a Kali Temple on the bank of the Narmada. He said:

"With my Europeanised mind I had no faith in image-worship and I hardly believed in the presence of God."

But he was compelled to do so when he looked at the image and saw a living Divine Presence. As he wrote afterwards:

"You stand before a temple of Kali beside a sacred river and see what? - a sculpture, a gracious piece of architecture, but in a moment mysteriously, unexpectedly there is instead a Presence, a Power, a Face that looks into yours, an inner sight in you has regarded the World-Mother."

The fourth experience has an interesting background. His younger brother Barin fell seriously ill with mountain fever. When the doctors were helpless, a Naga Sannyasi happened to come there. He took a cup of water, cut it into four by making a cross with a knife while chanting a mantra and asked Barin to drink it. The next day Barin was completely cured. Sri Aurobindo was greatly impressed and this also proved to be his conscious entry into the field of Yoga.

"I thought that a yoga which requires me to give up the world was not for me. I had to liberate my country. I took it up seriously when I learnt that the same tapasya which one does to get away from the world can be turned to action. I learnt that yoga gives power and thought: why should I not get the power and use it to liberate my country?"

Sri Aurobindo said humorously that he had a backdoor entry into yoga. But the immediate result was that he took up the practice of pranayama. Soon there were some startling physical and psychological results. His mind and memory worked with a greater illumination and power. His skin also became smooth and fair. But it ended with that and when Sri Aurobindo fell seriously ill he stopped, and began to look for another way. This new way opened up much later on but for the moment, the important outer event was that the scene shifted from Baroda to Calcutta.



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