Sri Aurobindo Ghose was an Indian philosopher, yogi, guru, poet, and nationalist.
He joined the Indian movement for independence from British rule, for a while was one of its influential leaders and then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution.
During his stay in Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo developed a method of spiritual practice he called the Integral Yoga.
Aurobindo Ghose Early life
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was born on August 15, 1872. His father, Krishna Dhun Ghose, was Assistant Surgeon of Rangpur in Bengal.
Young Aurobindo was brought up speaking English but used Hindustani to communicate with servants.
Although his family were Bengali, his father believed British culture to be superior.
Krishna Dhun Ghose wanted his sons to enter the Indian Civil Service (ICS), an elite organisation comprising around 1000 people.
He spent his formative years in England studying at St Paul’s and Trinity College where he excelled in the study of literature and the classics.
Aurobindo had no interest in the ICS and came late to the horse-riding practical exam purposefully to get himself disqualified for the service.
Aurobindo Ghose return to India & Politics
At this time, the Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaekwad III, was travelling in England. Cotton secured for him a place in Baroda State Service and arranged for him to meet the prince. He left England for India, arriving there in February 1893.
Aurobindo Ghose started taking an active interest in the politics of India’s independence struggle against British rule, working behind the scenes as his position in the Baroda state administration barred him from overt political activity.
He linked up with resistance groups in Bengal and Madhya Pradesh , while travelling to these states. He established contact with Lokmanya Tilak and Sister Nivedita.
Because of his radicalism, in 1908, police suspected Sri Aurobindo being involved in a bomb plot. Court remanded him in Alipore jail.
It was in jail that Sri Aurobindo had significant spiritual experiences, and became aware of a divine inner guidance.
He also realised the omnipresence of God even in a darkened prison cell. Due to the commitment of Sri Aurobindo’s lawyer, C. R. Das, he was released without charge.
However, this experience had changed Sri Aurobindo’s outlook. Henceforth, he retired from politics and focused his energies on spirituality.
Aurobindo Ghose As Spiritual Leader
Sri Aurobindo travelled to Pondicherry, South India where he could practise yoga undisturbed.
In 1914, he was later joined by a French woman, Mira Richards, who later became known as the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
Together, they founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which began to attract disciples with their dynamic reinterpretation of yoga.
In addition to being a spiritual Guru to many of his disciples, Sri Aurobindo was a noted poet, philosopher and writer.
His main works were The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita and Savitri. Savitri was an epic work of poetry that he worked on for over 20 years.
Sri Aurobindo did not negate the world like Indian yogis of the past.
Instead, Sri Aurobindo affirmed that our entire life is Yoga; through a conscious aspiration, and it is possible for man to evolve into a higher consciousness – a consciousness of truth and inner harmony.
Sri Aurobindo called this new consciousness as super mental. A significant event occurred in 1947, when India attained full independence.
Sri Aurobindo continued to aspire for india’s independence, despite his retreat from politics. India achieved its Independence on his birthday, i.e., August 15 in the year, 1947.
Aurobindo Ghose Death & Legacy
For over 40 years, Sri Aurobindo worked tirelessly for his vision of a divine life on earth.
Through his writings and poetry, he left a legacy which reflected his hopes of a golden future for humanity. Sri Aurobindo entered into mahasamadhi on December 5, 1950.
Although Sri Aurobindo wrote most of his works in English, publisher translated his major works into a number of languages, including several Indian languages such as, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.
Publisher also translated him in French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Slovene and Russian. A large amount of his work in Russian translation is also available.