Aurobindo Ghose

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Aurobindo Ghose (around 1900)
Signature of Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo ( Bengali অরবিন্দ ঘোষ , Arabinda Ghos , Arabinda Ghosh * 15 August 1872 in Kolkata , † 5. December 1950 in Pondicherry ) was an Indian politician , philosopher , Hindu - mystic , yogi and guru . His letters, poems and philosophical writings are signed with Sri Aurobindo and published under this name. In his person he combines the humanistic education and knowledge of the West with the wisdom teachings and spiritual traditions of India.


Childhood in Khulna, Darjiling and Manchester (1872–1884)

Aurobindo with his father KD Ghose, his mother Swarnalotta Devi and four siblings: from left to right: Barin Ghose, Sarojini, Aurobindo and Manmohan Ghose. Made in England, circa 1879.

Aurobindo Ghose was born in Kolkata on August 15, 1872 . He spent his early childhood in Khulna in Bengal. His father Dr. Krishna Dhan Ghose was married to Swarnalata Bose, then twelve, at the age of nineteen in 1864. His parents were married according to the rites of Brahmo Samaj , a reform movement of Hinduism . According to Aurobindo, his father was an atheist . He was alienated from the Bengali and Indian cultures due to his anglicised mentality, supported by a two-year stay in England (1869–1871) for further training in medicine . Consequently, he tried to keep his children away from Indian influences and to give them an exclusively European education. Aurobindo and his siblings first attended the Loreto monastery school in Darjiling in the years 1877–1879 . Aurobindo had four siblings: two older brothers, Benoy Bhushan and Mono Mohan, and a younger sister named Sarojini; a third brother, Barindra, was born in Croydon, England, in 1879.

According to Aurobindo, his father, who wished that all his sons should become great personalities, had given him the name Aurobindo in a sudden inspiration, which until then no one in India or around the world had received, so that he would later become one of the greats of the World would be unique with his name. But the irony of the world would have it that the father died before Aurobindo returned to India and the popularity of his name in the environment of the Indian freedom efforts led to a frequent use of this first name.

At the age of seven, Aurobindo was sent to England with his brothers in 1879. They lived in Manchester with the clergyman William H. Drewett. While his brothers were in school he was tutored in English, Latin and Greek by the Reverend Drewett and in history, geography, arithmetic and French by his mother, Mrs. Drewett.

Youth in London (1884–1890)

Aurobindo's apartment on St Stephen's Avenue, London 1884–1887, with a blue English Heritage sign

In 1884 the brothers moved to London under the care of Mrs. Drewett . Aurobindo attended St. Paul's School in West Kensington for five years . Old Mrs. Drewett was an ardent missionary and tried to convert the three boys to the Christian faith. When this failed, they had to leave their home. A period of bitter poverty followed. The father's money shipments, which were not high and only arrived irregularly, were often barely enough to sustain life. Although they lived frugally, they often had nothing to eat, their clothes were not warm enough for the winter, and the apartments in which they lived were damp and cold. Despite these external conditions, Aurobindo developed into a good student. When he finished his homework, he read English and French literature, works on the history of Europe, and learned Italian, a little German and a little Spanish. He spent a lot of time on his own poetry. He won prizes in history and literature.

Studied at Cambridge (1890-1892)

Aurobindo received a grant of £ 80 a year from St. Paul's School which enabled him to attend King's College, Cambridge . Because of the lack of donations from his father, this period was also characterized by extreme poverty. As his certificates confirmed, Aurobindo nevertheless pursued his academic studies with great interest and great success. He received numerous prizes and one of his professors described him as "a brilliant young classical philologist ".

After completing his studies, at the request of his father, he was to pursue a career as a civil servant. Through contacts with the governor of Bengal's family , the father had already found a good job for his son in the Arrah district.

For the sake of the father, the son passed the entrance exam for civil service. Later, however, he loathed such activity. So it happened that, despite good grades in the written exams, he repeatedly evaded the test in riding until Lord Kimberley finally disqualified him as a candidate for the Indian civil service.

The fact that Aurobindo was by no means enthusiastic about England like his father also contributed to this decision. He had been deeply touched by English and Western literature, by philosophy and historiography, but not by the people he met. As a member and temporarily as secretary of the "Indian Majlis", a national student association, he gave revolutionary speeches which helped to exclude him from civil service.

In 1893 he returned to India. Young Aurobindo had spent fourteen of his twenty-one years in England. His father died of heart failure shortly before the ship arrived.

Professional and political activities (1893–1908)

Aurobindo Ghose presides over a meeting of nationalists in 1907; Tilak speaks.

Since Aurobindo was not admitted to the English civil service in India, a well-meaning relative of the governor of Bengal found him a post in the administration of the princely state of Baroda . Here he was initially responsible in the department for postage stamps, taxes and post before he was appointed professor of English and English literature at Baroda College at his own request in 1900. He eventually became Vice-Principal (Deputy Rector) of this institution. Aurobindo was also the Maharaja's secretary and speechwriter . In Baroda he learned Sanskrit and various other Indian languages, especially Marathi , Gujarati and his native Bengali . During the Baroda period, in April 1901, Aurobindo Ghose married Mrinalini Bose, who died an early death in 1918.

In 1906 Aurobindo left Baroda and went to Kolkata as chairman of the newly founded "National Bengali College" . Also in 1906 Aurobindo began to publish the journal "Bande Mataram", which became the mouthpiece of the "Nationalist Party". He wanted to consolidate the idea of ​​independence in the thinking of his compatriots and at the same time induce a party and ultimately the whole nation to engage in intense and organized political activity that would lead to the realization of this ideal. Aurobindo's first concern in the journal was to openly and sustainably promote the full independence of India as a political goal; he was the first politician in India to have the courage to do so publicly. This activity as editor of Bande Mataram brought him into the public spotlight. From then on he was what he had in fact been for a while, the most prominent leader of the party.

During this period of political activity, Aurobindo increasingly turned to the practice and study of Indian yoga teachings and yoga practices. These efforts took a decisive development when he met Guru Vishnu Bhaskar Lele from Maharashtra in December 1907. With his help, his knowledge and experience of yoga content deepened so much that from then on he followed his own idea of ​​yoga development.

After Aurobindo was imprisoned in 1908 on sedition charges, Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem extolling Aurobindo as a heavenly liberator:

Before you, O Aurobindo, Rabindranath bows low!
O friend, friend of my homeland, from which India's soul called,
Embodied and liberated in you. Your lot is not crowned
Of indolent fame. You frowned on comfort and wages,
The courageous heart, ascending on thorny paths;
In front of whose flame negligence, inclining ashamed,
The head bowed down to the radiance, and where death
Fear forgets ...

Conversion to yogi in Alipur (1908–1909)

His final conversion from active nationalist to Hindu sage and seer happened during the one year he was incarcerated in prison in Alipur near Calcutta . He had started his yoga in 1904 without a guru ; In 1908 he had received significant help from a Mahratta yogi and discovered the basics of his own sadhana . In the prison, he meditated in the midst of the noise and screams, apart and in silence, without any of the other prisoners participating. He had the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads with him; he practiced the yoga of the Gita and meditated with the help of the Upanishads. These were the only books in which he found guidance and guidance. This led him to the following statement about the nature of the Hindu religion: “This is the religion that has been held in value for the benefit of mankind in the seclusion of this land since ancient times. To convey this religion, India rises to it. India does not rise, as other countries do, for its own sake or for the sake of the weak when it becomes strong. India rises to spread the eternal light that has been entrusted to it over the world. "

The trial following his pre-trial detention in a solitary cell was one of the most significant trials for the Indian national movement. 49 people were charged and 206 witnesses summoned, 400 documents were filed and 5,000 pieces of evidence were presented, including bombs and revolvers. The English judge CB Beechcroft, like Aurobindo, had been a student at Cambridge. The criminal defense Aurobindo was of the Chittaranjan accepted. The process took a full year. Aurobindo was the only accused to be acquitted on May 6, 1909.

Ashram in Pondicherry (1910-1945)

As the editor of Karmayogin , he was a " thorn in the side " of the authorities . To avoid the threat of arrest, he left British India on a ship and first came to Chandannagar in French India; then to Pondicherry in South India, which he reached on April 4, 1910 on board the Dupleix . Here he developed "integral yoga" (integral = comprehensive; yoga = development of consciousness) in the sense of a modern, future-oriented, comprehensive development of consciousness.

In 1914 Mirra Alfassa and her husband Paul Richard came to Pondicherry. On his idea he brought out the philosophical journal Arya , in which he published most of his major works for the first time until 1920. The last edition of the Arya appeared on January 15, 1921. During this time he began to sign his letters and articles with "Sri Aurobindo". In 1920 - after several years in Japan - Mirra Alfassa returned to Aurobindo in Pondicherry and stayed there for the rest of her life. She headed the household that had formed around Sri Aurobindo and was called Sri Aurobindo Ashram from November 24, 1926 . On this day for Sri Aurobindo - according to his own statement - the level of consciousness of the Overmind (overmind) (see section: Teaching, method, levels of consciousness) was realized. The day was henceforth called "Siddhi Day". The Ashram had no more than 24 students at that time. Aurobindo decided in December of the same year to withdraw completely from the public. He transferred full responsibility for the Ashram to Mirra Alfassa, whom he identified with the Divine Mother. In 1927 Sri Aurobindo and “The Mother” moved to Rue Francois Martin, where they stayed for the rest of their lives. In 1928 the ashram had around 80 members, only a few of them children. Since 1926, Sri Aurobindo has been answering his students' questions in a detailed correspondence. In 1928 the book The Mother (The Mother) was published; 1933 publication of The Riddle of the World , a selection from the letters. In 1938, Aurobindo injured his right leg in a fall. The regular correspondence with many yoga students came to an end. It was not until 1940 that the number of residents rose again noticeably and more and more parents with children were taken in. On December 2, 1943, the ashram school was founded.

Commitment to the Allies (1939–1945)

During the period of National Socialism and World War II , Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa turned decisively against Hitler and National Socialism , behind which they saw deeply inhuman forces and the forces of evil, “whose victory would have meant the enslavement of humanity to the tyranny of evil and a step backwards on the path of evolution , and especially the spiritual evolution of mankind, which would not only lead to the enslavement of Europe, but also of Asia and thus of India ... ”Sri Aurobindo publicly declared that he was on the side of the Allies. Unlike many others, he was not deceived by the person of Adolf Hitler. In a conversation he said to his students: “People like Hitler cannot change, they have to be transported to the afterlife. There is no chance they will change in this life ... ”This statement was recorded on January 8, 1939, in Purani's evening conversations . He called World War II the “Mother's War,” and despite the tight financial situation in their ashram, they generously contributed to various war funds (10,000 French francs was an extremely generous gesture at the time) - all in the face of militant anti-British sentiments all over India and even in the ashram. He encouraged those seeking advice to join the army or otherwise engage in the war. To one of his students who had been his campaigner for the independence of India, he wrote: " I reiterate with all emphasis that this is the war of the mother. You should not regard it as a struggle of individual nations against one another ... it is a struggle for an ideal that has to establish itself on earth in the life of humanity, for a truth that has yet to be fully realized, and against a darkness and falsehood that try to close the earth and people in the immediate future You have to see the forces behind the battle and not this or that superficial circumstance ... There cannot be the slightest doubt that if one side wins, all such freedom and hope in light and Truth will come to an end, and the work to be done would be subjected to conditions that would make it humanly impossible; falsehood and darkness will reign, a cruel undertaking oppression and humiliation of the greater part of the human race, just as the people in this country do not dream of and how they cannot even imagine. From the time of the Battle of Dunkirk , when everyone expected the immediate fall of England, he quietly put his spiritual power at the disposal of the Allies. He stated, “Certainly my strength is not limited to the Ashram and its circumstances. As you know, much of it is used to help the proper development of war and change in the human world. It is also used for individual purposes outside of the realm of the ashram and yoga practice; but of course this is done tacitly and mainly through a spiritual work. "

Independence of India (August 15, 1947)

Excerpts from a radio message that Sri Aurobindo gave on the eve of the liberation of India and his 75th birthday via the All India station Trichinopoly:

“August 15, 1947 is the birthday of free India. … August 15th is also my own birthday. Of course I am delighted that this day has become so important. I do not take this coincidence. ... I can perceive today how almost all efforts in the world that I had hoped would be successful in my lifetime are nearing their completion or are on the way there, even if they looked like unrealizable dreams back then. ...

In all of these developments, free India can truly play a major role and take a leading position. In my first dream I saw a revolutionary development that should create a free and united India. Today India is free, but it has not achieved its unity. ... the separation must disappear, the unity must and will come about! ...

My other dream was for the revival and liberation of the peoples of Asia ... Little needs to be done here; and that will happen today or tomorrow. ...

My third dream showed me a world unification, which should form the external basis for a more just, happier and nobler life for all of humanity. This union of humanity is on the way. ...

Another dream has already begun to take shape in practice. India's spirituality is increasingly prevalent in Europe and America. This movement will continue to grow. ...

My last vision includes a stage in evolution that raises man to a higher and more comprehensive consciousness and thus initiates the solution of the problems that have plagued and tormented man since he began to think ... "

The time after 1945

Sri Aurobindo saw it as his task to bring the “supramental” down into the earth consciousness or at least to make this descent possible. After 1945 Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa developed plans for an international Sri Aurobindo University and conceived the model of a future-oriented city of intellectual freedom that should be a home for people from all over the world who want to lead a life of peace and conscious self-development. On Sri Aurobindo's 75th birthday, August 15, 1947, India gained independence. Aurobindo died on December 5, 1950 after a brief illness. His body was buried in the courtyard of the Ashram on December 9th. At that time there were about 800 people in the ashram. On February 29, 1956, the “Golden Day”, Mirra Alfassa reportedly had an inner experience during a meditation on the ashram sports field, which for her symbolized the event of the “Supramental Manifestation on Earth”. In this vision she saw herself face a massive golden gate that separated the world from the divine. Then she smashed the gate with a single blow, whereupon the supramental light and the supramental force poured down in a steady flow upon the earth. Mirra Alfassa made it clear, however, that there is still great resistance in the world and that therefore no sudden miracles are to be expected in the future, but an accelerated and stabilized evolutionary process is possible.

Philosophical and spiritual works

Central plants

At the suggestion of Paul Richard, Sri Aurobindo began to publish the philosophical journal Arya in 1914 . In this 64-page monthly magazine he published most of his important works in series for the next six years. These works are: The Life Divine (The Divine Life), The Synthesis of Yoga (Synthesis of Yoga), Essays on the Gita (Essays on the Gita), The Secret of The Veda (The Secret of the Veda), Hymns to the Mystic Fire , The Upanishads , The Foundations of Indian Culture , War and Self-determination (Heraklit; War and Self-determination ), The Human Cycle , The Ideal of Human Unity (The ideal of a united humanity) and The Future Poetry (The poetry of the future). Before being published in book form, some of these titles were revised by Sri Aurobindo.

Epic Savitri

After this intensive phase of work, apart from a few poems and essays, there was only one literary work, his epic poem Savitri , comprising around 24,000 lines or lines , on which he worked until the end of his life and which is considered the most extensive epic work in the English language worldwide. Many utterances by Sri Aurobindo make it clear that he considered "Savitri" to be his most important work. In his book "Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo", Nirodbaran described in detail the genesis of the epic and explained how Sri Aurobindo spent a lot of time editing and improving the text.

His mother also saw "Savitri" as his most important literary creation. She said: “Read a few lines and that is enough to establish contact with your innermost being ... Sri Aurobindo has packed the whole universe into a single book. Everything is in it, mysticism, occultism, philosophy, the history of evolution, that of man, the gods, creation, nature, how the world was created, why, for what purpose. All the secrets that man possesses and all those who await him in the future can be found in the depths of Savitri .... "

The underlying motif of the epic is a legend of the same name from the Mahabharata : Princess Savitri marries Prince Satyavan, although Narada , the messenger of the gods, tells her that her husband will die in exactly one year. When the time comes and the death god Yama appears, Savitri challenges him in a courageous dialogue and finally succeeds in having Yama release Satyavan's soul again.

Sri Aurobindo takes up this legend and underpins it as the basic motif of his epic, which in large parts represents a description of his own spiritual experiences and deals with his concern for a transformation of life in poetic form. In the course of this transformation, according to his vision, the forces of ignorance and death are to be overcome and transformed into forces of light and life. But Sri Aurobindo also addresses many other topics in the area of ​​religion, mythology, history, philosophy and traditional yoga paths in the epic.

"Savitri" was written in blank verse; H. without rhyme, but with a certain “mantric” rhythm, as Sri Aurobindo called it. There are two complete German translations (by Peter Steiger and Heinz Kappes) of the sometimes very difficult English original text.

Correspondence: Letters on Yoga

The limited correspondence that Sri Aurobindo had entered into with his disciples after 1926 assumed a very large volume during the period from 1930 to 38. Most of these more than a thousand letters were later published in three volumes, called Letters on Yoga (German: Briefe über Yoga, four volumes). The correspondence with his student Nirodbaran from 1930 to 1938 was published by him in a separate book. Numerous excerpts from Aurobindo's letters can also be found in the works of Dilip Kumar Roy .

Glossary for understanding the technical terms

Sri Aurobindo wrote almost all of his works in English. During the time of his political activity he also wrote a number of articles in Bengali, plus a few texts in Sanskrit. His English works contain numerous Sanskrit terms and Sanskrit quotations (especially from the Bhagavad Gita), for the explanation of which the Sri Aurobindo Ashram published a glossary (“Glossary of Terms in Sri Aurobindo's Writings”) in 1978.

Translations of major works

His main works were later translated into many languages, into Indian languages ​​such as Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, but also into French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Slovenian and Russian. Much of his work is also available online in Russian translation. For the German-speaking area, the main English writings of Sri Aurobindo have been gradually (beginning with "The Synthesis of Yoga") since 1972 by the former head of the German-speaking branch of the International Sri Aurobindo Society, Pastor i. R. Heinz Kappes , Karlsruhe, translated into German and published in book form in collaboration with the publishing house Hinder + Deelmann, Bellnhausen via Gladenbach (Hessen).


Preliminary remarks

“All life is yoga” is one of Sri Aurobindo's central sentences. As a result, his statements, which can be found in the letters to his students, touch all areas of life. His literary works cover the four major areas:
Yoga and Philosophy,
Indian Literature,
Literature, Art, Culture, Education, etc.
Social and Political Issues.
He saw it as his personal task to "open a previously closed door" and to make it possible to experience a consciousness in the nature of the earth, which he called the Supramental Consciousness .

Exceeding previous limits

Aurobindo's teaching goes - according to his own statement - beyond the knowledge of the past. In its beginnings, Aurobindo was mainly influenced by the Bhagavad Gita. At a later date he analyzed and commented on the Bhagavadgita, the Upanishads and the Veda. As much as he cherished India's spiritual past, he realized that spiritual knowledge can never be fixed for all time. He saw the spiritual development of mankind as an ongoing process. He justified this statement with the remark that the discovery of the truth is an infinite process, which makes it necessary that people have different knowledge at all times. Sri Aurobindo saw it as his task to show mankind a new way. The goal of his own development was to make the Supramental Consciousness accessible to humans (see: Levels of Consciousness). He himself said that he had taken up the essentials of the old yoga paths in his teaching, but that his point of view, his goals and the entirety of his method were new. Christian ideas of God only have a small place in Aurobindo's teaching.

What is the Supramental Consciousness?

In his main work The Life Divine , which was published in book form in 1939 and 1940 and first appeared in the magazine Arya between 1914 and 1919, he writes that the highest spirit, the satccidananda Brahman, represents a timeless and spaceless bliss.
The cosmos, however, is an expansion in time and space and a movement, elaboration and development of relationships and possibilities through causality. The real name for this causality is Divine Law. The essence of this law is an unswerving self-development of the truth of the thing, which as an idea is contained in the true essence of what is being developed.
This conscious power could not be the mind, because it does not control or determine this law.
In addition, this will to know, which brings everything to development, must be in possession of the unity of things and from it manifest their diversity. The mind, however, is not in possession of that unity.He goes on to explain
that this link must exist between the immovable Supreme Being and the cosmos:
we call it the supramental or the consciousness of truth because it is a principle that is superior to the mentality and in the fundamental truth and in the unity of things ... exists, acts, and moves forward. The existence of the supramental is a logical necessity.

A radical monistic doctrine

Sri Aurobindo's teaching is monistic . He agrees with the ancient teachings of Hinduism that there is a being that is spaceless and timeless (which is called being-consciousness-bliss or Brahman ). He then explains - and this is new - that there must be a supramental consciousness that originates from this and works in space and time. This consciousness has three basic forms in itself:
The first establishes the unchangeable unity of things. The second modifies this unity in order to promote and maintain the manifestation of the many in one and the one in many. The third modifies it still further to support the evolution of a different individuality which, through the work of ignorance, becomes in us on a lower level the illusion of the separate ego.

The one and the development of the world

According to Sri Aurobindo, the cosmos arose from the One and is ruled by Him in an all-encompassing and pervasive manner.
So this is the nature of Divine Consciousness, which creates all things in itself through a movement of its conscious power and governs their development through self-evolution by means of an innate knowledge-will of the truth of being or the real idea that formed it . The being that knows about itself in this way is called God. Obviously, He must be omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent.
Outside of this consciousness nothing else can exist:
no other will, no other force and no other consciousness from outside or inside can contradict them, because there is no consciousness and no force outside would be of the One, and all energies and forms of knowledge in him are nothing but the One.

The reality of the phenomenal world

The phenomenal world that man experiences daily is a self-manifestation of the eternal; it is not so much Maya , an illusory world or an illusion faced with a higher nirvana , but rather it is real, although it does not include all of reality .
In a letter to a student he wrote: “But when we see the world as it really is, a partial and evolving manifestation of Brahman , then it can no longer be described as an illusion, but rather as the game that purple ( Hinduism) . But he is more than his game; He is in him and it is in him; it is not an illusion. "


→   Main article with related, further reading :   Integral Yoga

Integral yoga is the practical application of Aurobindo's philosophy. However, it is not a form of yoga with clearly defined exercises such as B. in Hatha Yoga . According to Aurobindo, more essential than asanas is complete surrender, in which the practitioner or sadhak devotes all his actions, words and thoughts to the divine. This yoga is called integral because the traditional disciplines Jnana Yoga , Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga are linked with one another. But it is also integral because it does not reject or want to overcome the world, but rather seeks to penetrate it with the divine. For this, all parts of the human being must be transformed and filled by the divine Shakti .

  • For the following parts of the being, a distinction is made between an outer and an inner, actual area, which is behind the outer and this is the basis:
  • Physique,
  • Vital level,
  • Mental level.

According to Aurobindo, the “central being”, the Antaratman, stands above and behind these levels . In his aspect as an eternal self, standing above the three levels, he is called Jivatman . Standing behind the mind, life and body and promoting their evolution, he is called a psychic being.

  • The threefold effort to transform human beings is expressed in:
  • Striving for the divine without preconditions,
  • Rejection of ideas, preferences, etc.,
  • Devotion to the divine.

Ultimately, only the divine itself can bring about this transformation, which requires the individual to step back.

  • The threefold transformation is:
  • the psychological transformation,
  • the spiritual transformation,
  • the supramental transformation.

Only with the latter can the complete transformation of body, life and mind begin.

The levels of consciousness : in Aurobindo's step model there are different spiritual levels:

  • the normal mind, the higher mind, the enlightened mind, the intuitive mind
  • the Übermental (Overmind)
  • the supramental that sees everything in a single vision and at the same time the point of view of every single thing; in this way it is supposed to connect the divine with its creation in a new way.

Chakras or centers : the central terms in Aurobindo's yogic psychology can be related to the traditional chakra system of Tantra . However, Aurobindo's yoga differs in that its path - somewhat generalized - slowly develops the chakras from top to bottom , and not from bottom to top as in classic Kundalini Yoga .

The psychic transformation : according to Aurobindo, the soul (the psychic being) stands behind the personality of the person. It is the carrier of body, life and mind. It is therefore the task of the Sadhaks , the forces of the body, vital and mental to bring under the spiritual influence and to entrust more and more the psychic beings by little.

The meaning of the deed : Sri Aurobindo demands in his yoga an activity for the Isvara , the Lord of creation, in the world. The deed should take place without clinging to success and in complete serenity. In a final stage, the actions of the sadhak are intended to fully express the divine will.

Evolution of consciousness

According to Aurobindo, the current mental consciousness of humanity should not be the last stage of evolution. Similar to how in the past, beyond the vital consciousness of the animal, the mental consciousness emerged through the human being in evolution, in the future a new consciousness that now transcends the mental consciousness of the human being should be possible, which he called truth consciousness or supramental consciousness. He saw it as his real life task to bring this supramental consciousness down to earth or at least to make it possible for the future.

The Supermind is loud Aurobindo an area between the higher triad, Sat - Chit - Ananda ( 'being' - awareness' - 'bliss'), the characteristics of the Brahman are, and the lower triad, Mental - Vital - physique (mind, '-' Life, Emotions' - 'Body').
The supramental should unite all opposites and possess an inner knowledge of all things. Aurobindo postulates a supramentalization of all life on earth, which represents the next stage of evolution. The supramental would create its own instruments in man and in the world, but for this man striving towards the divine is necessary. Aurobindo described the conception of a suitable instrument on the human level as superman .

The superman at Aurobindo

According to Aurobindo, the future bearer and instrument of a consciousness opened to the supramental is supposed to be the “superman” who, by means of the supermind , gives expression to the supramental sphere of consciousness lying above the mental as an individualized supramental consciousness. In his magazine Arya , Aurobindo published an article in 1920 with the title Der Übermensch : There he contrasted Nietzsche's Übermensch with his representation and conception of a superman of "integral self-transcendence" who "lives in unity with the world and all things accepted in order to transform them. «It is important to overcome your own selfish instincts. If this succeeds, the transcendent human being would not acquire knowledge through laborious, error-related research exclusively through the mind, but through identity; He would thus directly experience the laws in the actions of other living beings and understand them from within. Compassion grows out of this understanding because he also recognizes a part of himself in them.

But one must not confuse this with past or present ideas of superhumanity. For in the mental imagination superhumanity consists in the fact that a person goes beyond the normal human level, and not through a higher kind, but only through a higher degree of the same kind: through an expanded personality, an enlarged and exaggerated self, increased power of Mental, increased vitality and refined or condensed and massive exaggeration of the forces of human ignorance ... That would be a superhumanity of the Nietzsche type. It would not be evolution, but a relapse into the old doggedly violent barbarism ... What must now emerge is something much more difficult and at the same time something much simpler. It is a being that realizes its self; it builds on the spiritual self; the soul grows stronger and its urge grows; their light, their power and their beauty are released and gain in sovereignty. This is not an ego-like superhumanity that asserts itself through mental and vital domination over humanity, but the sovereignty of the mind over its own tools .... This is the only true possibility for a step forward in evolutionary nature. Sri Aurobindo in The Divine Life ( The Life Divine 1951), translation by Heinz Kappes, final chapter, p. 498 f.

Aurobindo clearly condemns the notion propagated in Nazi Germany of a 'master humanity' over 'sub-humans'. However, he does not answer the question of how the coexistence between “supermen” and other people should work and be shaped.

Statements about other teachings

  • His tolerance of other opinions shows the following statement:

“The spiritual life is not something that can be represented by a narrow definition or that is bound by a rigid mental rule; it is a wide area of ​​development, an immense kingdom .... Only through this way of understanding can one really grasp spirituality, be it in its past or future, or put in its place the spiritual people of the past and present or compare the various ideals, levels, etc. that have arisen in the course of human spiritual evolution. "

- DK Roy : Sri Aurobindo came to me, p. 193
  • About the doctrine of the pseudo-character of the world he said:

“I do not raise any contradiction if someone accepts the doctrine of the pseudo-character of being as the truth of his spirit and soul, or as the way out of the difficulty of the cosmic problem. I only raise a contradiction when someone tries to stifle that doctrine as the only possible, satisfactory, and all-embracing explanation of things for me or the world. Because it is not at all. "

- Otto Wolf : The integral yoga, p. 11, 12
  • Regarding asceticism, mortification (tapas or tapasya), he said in a personal conversation to DK Roy on February 4, 1943:

“... there are essentially two ways. One is that of the Buddha who, as you know, believed that although you can get some help or guidance from others, whether they are a guru or not, you must go your own way; that is, to cut through the underbrush with your own effort; In other words, this is the Ancient Path of Tapasya (intense spiritual practice). The other way is to see the Guru as the representative of the Divine, who knows the way and is therefore clearly able to help others find it. This is the path that local aspirants follow in the Ashram - the path of the Guruvad. "

  • He wrote about psychoanalysis:

“Modern psychology is a science in its infancy, rash, clumsy, and crude at the same time. Like any science that is still in its infancy, the widespread habit of the human mind to inadmissibly generalize a limited or in individual cases true truth and thus to explain an entire area of ​​nature runs completely amok. Psychoanalysis (especially that of Freud ) takes a certain part, namely the darkest, most dangerous, most unhealthy part of nature, ... and assigns it effects that are no longer in proportion to its real position within human nature ... "


The following authors and students trace their intellectual legacies back to, or have been greatly influenced by, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

  • Nolini Kanta Gupta (1889–1984) was one of Aurobindo's first students. He wrote numerous works in English on philosophy, mysticism and spiritual evolution.
  • Pavitra (1894-1969), (Philippe Barbier Saint-Hilaire; * 1894 in Paris, † May 16, 1969 in Puducherry) was one of Aurobindo's and his mother's first pupils. He was an engineer, had become acquainted with the atrocities of war as an artillery officer in the First World War and after these experiences went on a search for the spiritual truths of Asia. In 1925 he came to Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo accepted him as a disciple and gave him the name Pavitra, (i.e. "pious, holy, clear"). In 1951 he became director of the newly founded Sri Aurobindo International University and secretary of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram . Some of his notes of conversations with his mother and Sri Aurobindo from 1925 to 1926 were published in 1972 under the title Conversation avec Pavitra .
  • Nirodbaran (1903-2006), who had a doctorate in medicine, published his extensive correspondence with Sri Aurobindo on the many aspects of Integral Yoga.
  • MP Pandit (1918–1993), Secretary of the Mother and the Ashram, dealt in his extensive writings and lectures with topics such as yoga, the Vedas, tantra yoga and Sri Aurobindo's poetry Savitri .
  • Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) joined the Ashram in 1944. He later wrote about the life of 'Sri Aurobindo: Descent of the Blue' and the book 'Infinite: Sri Aurobindo. He was a writer, composer, artist and athlete also he was known for his public events like Peace Run , concerts, meditations and sporting events.

Developments after Sri Aurobindo's death

The “Matrimandir” in Auroville

In 1952 Mirra Alfassa founded the Sri Aurobinhdo International University Center in Puducherry , which was renamed the Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education in 1959 .

In 1956 Mirra Alfassa founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi together with the Indian Surendranath Jauhar .

In 1968 Mirra Alfassa founded the Auroville urban project as an extension of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry. The renowned Parisian architect Roger Anger was in charge of urban planning.

1972 "His rank is now recognized worldwide, which was just reflected in the decision of UNESCO to declare 1972 the 'Sri Aurobindo Year'." (Die WELT, August 4th, 1972)

2008 Completion of work on the Matrimandir , Auroville's spiritual center.

The Sri Aurobindo Movement in Europe

In some countries there are branches of the Puducherry-based Sri Aurobindo Society. The practice of integral yoga is also the topic of the global Auroville International network. In Europe there are currently AVI centers in Spain, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Russia.

The musician and artist Michel Montecrossa (formerly Michel Klostermann) founded Mirapuri on August 15, 1978 as a “European city of peace” in northern Italy and a few years later Miravillage in Gauting near Munich as the first branch of Mirapuri. Both places are legally represented by the registered association of Mirapuri Friends. Mirapuri is based on the work of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa and is a community and city project in northern Italy.

In addition to groups that relate to Sri Aurobindo in the narrower sense, Aurobindo's impulses and insights are increasingly being adopted by other thinkers and schools and also integrated into academic areas. Among other things, they played an inspiring role in the development of integrated social ecology by Rudolf Bahro and Maik Hosang .

Aurobindo and nationalism

Aurobindo was an (initially revolutionary) fighter for Indian independence and as such an Indian nationalist. In his publications he advocated the boycott of foreign goods, passive resistance and non-cooperation, among other things. As a philosopher and guru, too, he was a nationalist: he called for a "national education", saw nations as natural forms of organization of people, and gave each nation a soul. He found that conflicts in people manifest as wars between nations is inherent in human nature and indispensable - as long as not all people have attained enlightenment.

Even then he had great admiration for Germany as a cultural nation and read some of the German classics in the German original. This interest led him in his during the First World War began and after the Second World War revised book The Human Cycle (dt. 1952 as The Human Cycle ) is now very closely and critically with German Nazism deal, the development of which he is very closely monitored and whose danger potential he had just as precisely described. Although this had also aimed at subjectification - a central term in Aurobindo's philosophy - but striving for it deviated from the right path and turned it into its opposite. With appeals to the Indian population and politicians for financial support of the British in their defense and war costs, he made every effort in his power to support the Allies in their fight against Hitler's fascism.

Reception of Aurobindo's work

The Nobel Prize winners Gabriela Mistral and Pearl S. Buck proposed Sri Aurobindo for the 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature and declared that Sri Aurobindo was "one who belongs to the family of the seers and wise men of the world".

Rabindranath Tagore wrote after an encounter that Aurobindo had “sought and found the soul”. He also called him a "Hindu seer" and one waits to receive the "word" from him.

The French poet Romain Rolland declared that Sri Aurobindo was "the greatest interpreter of India" who had realized the most perfect synthesis that the genius of the West and the East could possibly achieve.

The philosophers Jean Gebser and Ken Wilber were inspired by Aurobindo.

In an interview with Auroville Today magazine in December 1994, the Dalai Lama said that when he met Mirra Alfassa in 1973 there was a meaningful atmosphere and that he had spoken to her about the future of his country. About Auroville , he said that the extensive experience that had been gained there with reforestation could perhaps one day also be used for a high mountain region such as Ladakh or Tibet. He praised the sense of community and vision of the Aurovillans as well as their "clear acceptance of the value of spiritual things". A good synthesis of practical progress and spirituality has been found there. The school system in Auroville is a "wonderful experiment".

The Danish writer and artist Johannes Hohlenberg published one of the first yoga book titles in Europe in 1916 after meeting Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry. a. two essays by Sri Aurobindo and an excerpt from The Life Divine in Danish translation.

Works (selection)

Complete works

On the occasion of Sri Aurobindo's centenary, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust published a collected edition of his works in English in 1972 under the title Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library , which comprises 30 volumes with approx. 16,000 pages including an index. A new complete edition in 37 volumes with index and glossary has been published since 1997, the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo (CWSA). 36 volumes are e.g. Currently before.

Major works


  • Sri Aurobindo: Harbinger of a New Age , An Introduction and Selection of Works by Robert McDermott, Aquamarin Verlag, Grafing 1991, ISBN 3-89427-004-7


  • Thoughts and aphorisms with explanations by the mother , Copyright: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Publication Department, Puducherry 1979, o.ISBN


  • from Sanskrit into English: Bhagavadgita , (translation from English into German), Verlag Hinder + Deelmann, Gladenbach 1981, ISBN 3-87348-110-3

Autobiographical records

Biographical presentations

  • The mother - with letters about the mother , trans. v. Th. Karnasch u. A. Bitzos, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry (sic!) 2014, ISBN 979-81-7058-042-2

Title German-Sanskrit


Biographical presentations

  • Wolfgang Gantke: Aurobindo's philosophy read interculturally , Bautz, Traugott 2007, ISBN 978-3-88309-232-4 Religious studies, biographical representation of Aurobindo's philosophy with reference to Aurobindo's potential for overcoming current crises.
  • Wilfried Huchzermeyer : Sri Aurobindo - Life and Work , edition sawitri, Karlsruhe 2010, ISBN 978-3-931172-29-9 Current biography including the evaluations of his yoga diary, which was first published as a book in 2001. The biography explicitly sets out Aurobindo's works and places them in the context of the phases of his life; Supplemented by 20 pages of b / w and color photos, statements from Aurobindo about Germany, testimonies to his work with regard to India and Europe, explanation of symbols, timetable, glossary, literature (mainly German publ.), Internet addresses and registers.
  • Georges van Vrekhem : Beyond Man - Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and Mother , Dt. Trans. V. Ellen Tessloff, Aquamarin Vlg., Grafing 2014, ISBN 978-3-89427-678-2 (Eng.OA: Beyond Man - The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother , HarperCollins Publishers India, New Delhi 1999, ISBN 81- 7223-327-2 ). Double biography based on the newly added and released sources up to 1999. Life and work are seen in a biographical, political, philosophical and yogic context.
  • Otto Wolff: Sri Aurobindo , monograph, Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1988 (first edition 1967), ISBN 3-499-50121-X Basic presentation within the publisher's series of monographs with quotations from the works, references, time table, testimonials / Assessments of contemporaries, bibliography (status: 1967) as well as name index; the volume contains approx. 70 b / w photos and is only available as an antiquarian (as of February 2008).

Development of man

  • Wilfried Huchzermeyer: The superman with Friedrich Nietzsche and Sri Aurobindo. (Verlag Hinder and Deelmann) ISBN 3-87348-123-5 'Der Übermensch' at Aurobindo plays a central role in his work. The term is here set against Nietzsche's ideas.
  • Maggi Lidchi-Grassi: The light that shone into the abyss , Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, 1994, ISBN 81-7058-517-1 . Presentation of the goals of Aurobindo of the spiritual and spiritual higher development of the human being in the confrontation with and against the background of the Nazi ideas of a "master humanity".
  • Jürgen Axer: Integral Education - An educational concept based on the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo; Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1983 (dissertation) University of Cologne, ISBN 3-8046-8621-4
  • Dilip Kumar Roy , Indira Devi The way of the great yogis - an autobiographical report Munich 1987 Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, ISBN 3-453-02450-8
  • Hugo M. Enomiya-Lassalle . In the morning of a better world. The human being in the breakthrough to a new consciousness. Freiburg - Basel - Vienna (Herder) 1984, ISBN 3-451-08164-4 (with reference to Sri Aurobindo and Auroville, in particular pp. 96 to 115)


  • Andries Gustav Barnard: The Religious Philosophy of Consciousness of Sri Aurobindo , dissertation , University of South Africa 2005. ( Reflects the theory of consciousness based on the philosophers Alfred North Whitehead and William James )
  • Wilfried Huchzermeyer: Sri Aurobindo and the European Philosophy , edition sawitri, Karlsruhe 2015, ISBN 978-3-931172-31-2 (Compare with Plato, Schelling, Hegel, Bergson, Teilhard de Chardin and Gebser, among others)
  • Eric M. Weiss: The Doctrine of the Subtle Worlds. Sri Aurobindo's Cosmology, Modern Science and the Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead , Dissertation (PDF; 1.3 MB), California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco 2003 ( Sri Aurobindo's cosmology and Whitehead's theory of space and time are combined with modern world views of the sciences faced. )


  • Glossary of Terms in Sri Aurobindo's Writings , Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Ed.), Puducherry 1978, 1st edition, without ISBN All important terms in Aurobindo's work are explained here alphabetically and z. Partly clarified by quotations from sections in their references and contexts.

Web links

Commons : Sri Aurobindo  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Dilip Kumar Roy, Sri Aurobindo came to me, p. 207
  2. Otto Wolf, Sri Aurobindo, Rowohlt's Monographs p. 66
  3. Maggi Lidchi-Grassi: The light that shone into the abyss p. 54
  4. Maggi Lidchi-Grassi: The light that shone into the abyss p. 54
  5. Maggi Lidchi-Grassi: The light that shone into the abyss, p. 79
  6. Engl. Supermind. The term is z. Sometimes also reproduced with "Übergeist".
  7. Wilfried, Die Mutter - Eine Kurzbiographie (Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Society 1986), pp. 86–87.
  8. ^ Dilip Kumar Roy, Sri Aurobindo came to me, p. 289
  9. Otto Wolf, Sri Aurobindo, p. 55
  10. ^ Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, p. 168
  11. ^ Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, p. 169
  12. ^ Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, p. 168
  13. Sri Aurobindo: The Divine Life, Vol. 1, s. 171
  14. Sri Aurobindo: The Divine Life, Vol. 1, p. 170
  15. Sri Aurobindo: The Divine Life, Vol. 1, p. 170
  16. Sri Aurobindo: Letters on Yoga, Vol. 1, p. 48
  17. as it Aurobindo in his major work Synthesis of Yoga describes
  18. Light on Yoga pp. 20-25
  19. ^ Dilip Kumar Roy, Sri Aurobindo came to me, p. 241
  20. Sri Chinmoy's writings on Sri Aurobindo , accessed February 2014
  21. Shyam Dua: The luminous life of Sri Chinmoy , pp. 18 - 34, The Golden Shore GmbH 2006, ISBN 978-3-89532-121-4 .
  22. cf. Georges van Vrekhem: Hitler and his God - The Background to the Hitler phenomenon , 2006
  23. ^ Sources: Otto Wolff, Sri Aurobindo, pp. 148–9; Yoga Adventure Meditation - the best articles from international magazines ( ISBN 3-931172-09-0 ), pp. 94-103
  24. Klaus J. Bracker: Veda and lively logos. Anthroposophy and integral yoga in dialogue. Frankfurt 2014, p. 227