In This Article Aurobindo

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Collective Works
  • Biographies
  • Aurobindo Ashram and the Aurobindo Movement
  • On Aurobindo’s Philosophy of Religion
  • Health, Integral Yoga, and the Body
  • On Aurobindo’s Philosophy of Education

Hinduism Aurobindo
by
Olga Real-Najarro
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 March 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0150

Introduction

Sri Aurobindo, Aurobindo Ghose, Aurobindo Ackroyd Ghosh, Aurobindo, (b. 1872–d. 1950) was a spiritual leader and exponent of yoga, politician and sage, scholar, mystic and prolific writer, a revolutionary poet, philosopher, and social and cultural theorist. With a firm grounding in Western and Eastern traditions, he is one of the foremost interpreters of the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita. His vision of human progress and spiritual evolution defends the integration of cultural and religious paradigms and the transcendence of the opposition between spirituality and action as the base to world transformation. He is a metaphysician whose ontological system is based on Integral Yoga, which is a kind of yoga that is not a retreat from the world. His approach to education and society is spiritually based and inspired the creation of an experimental communal living in the international city of Auroville. Sri Aurobindo worked toward a greater spiritual realization for humanity, highlighting that man is a transitional being in the evolutionary process, and human destiny is to grow to a higher state of consciousness. His multifaceted, staggeringly broad body of work ranges from essays on the struggle for Indian independence to poetry, philosophical, and religious thought. There is an online edition of The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo provided by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram that may be freely accessed. There, the thirty volumes of the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library are being extended to contain new texts. A summary of the contents is attached to every file. Sri Aurobindo’s style varies from the wit and humor of his letters to the austere tone and architectonic structure of his philosophical texts. Whereas spiritual experience and enlightenment are transcribed in classical prose, his experimental poetry is expressed through the mantra, which is a kind of language that aims to capture different states of consciousness (or what he defines as the “overmental” verse of the future poetry). Nominated for the Nobel Prize in peace and literature, his yogic retirement was preceded by nearly four decades of substantive public and intellectual work. The relevance and complexity of his literary, cultural, and sociological writings favors a wide range of scholarship, as well as the challenge of overcoming hagiographic tendencies, personality cults, and contemporary Hindutva apologetics. Though his work is still relatively unknown to the general and even the scholarly reader, it displays a wide-ranging influence in India and in writers on traditional wisdom such as Mircea Eliade, Paul Brunton, and Rene Guenon. Scholarship on Sri Aurobindo is often associated with his collaborator, Mirra Alfassa (also known as “the Mother”).

General Overviews

There have been several individual attempts to provide a comprehensive view of Sri Aurobindo´s works. Gupta 1972 presents biographical data and essays assessing Sri Aurobindo’s significance in the historical development of India and his work as a philosopher and poet. His mystical approach takes a philosophical stance in McDermott 2001, which contains introductory biographical information, selections from Sri Aurobindo’s writings, and brief explanatory essays. Reddy 1989, an exposition of Sri Aurobindo’s seven major works, is a valuable contribution to philosophical literature and Sri Aurobindo scholarship. This work anticipates Mohanty 2012, which is a comprehensive compilation of major works and in-depth editorial introduction and guide to other specific works. Paranjape 1999 is a representative sampling that includes the often-ignored essays on the struggle for independence, the development of philosophical and religious thought, an explanation of the system of Integral Yoga, and poems, letters, and aphorisms. Heehs 1998 is an arrangement of the diversity of Sri Aurobindo’s thought that covers politics, Indian traditions, social and political theory, philosophy, yoga, poetry, and poetics. This study correlates with Merlo 2012, one of the few samples of scholarly work written in Spanish, an outline of Sri Aurobindo’s major works and their relevance, and a comprehensive account of the philosopher´s production. Bakshi and Mittra 2002 is an analysis of Sri Aurobindo’s biography, work, and key concepts and is convenient for general readers.

  • Bakshi, Shiri Ram, and Sangh Mittra, eds. Saints of India. Sri Aurobindo Ghose. Vol. 11. Metuchen, NJ: Criterion, 2002.

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    Analysis of his biography and work, emphasis on the ashram and key concepts such as consciousness, ego and self, sadhana through work, death, desire, and incapacity. Useful for teachers, scholars, students, and those interested in the philosophy and ideology of Sri Aurobindo.

  • Gupta, Nolini Kanta. A Century’s Salutation to Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1972.

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    Assessment of Sri Aurobindo as a politician and his role as a prophet of renascent India. It includes biographical data and essays on his significance in the historical development of India, as well as his work as a philosopher and poet. Reflections on Indo-Anglian literature.

  • Heehs, Peter. The Essential Writings of Sri Aurobindo. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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    Compilation that covers politics, the Indian traditions, social and political theory, philosophy, yoga, poetry, and poetics. Includes a general introduction as well as brief introductions to each section, textual notes explaining references to persons and events, a glossary of Sanskrit terms, a chronology, and suggestions for further reading.

  • McDermott, Robert, ed. The Essential Aurobindo. Great Barrington, UK: Lindisfarne, 2001.

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    First published in 1973, this revised edition includes an introduction and a new afterword by the author. Selections from Sri Aurobindo’s writings are preceded by brief explanatory essays that provide glimpses on biographical data and highlight his emphasis on the underlying connections between Eastern and Western teachings and traditions. Useful for the beginner and the knowledgeable reader.

  • Merlo, Vicente. Las enseñanzas de Sri Aurobindo. Barcelona: Kairós, 2012.

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    One of the few samples of scholarship written in Spanish. Account of the Integral Yoga, human nature, mind and “supramental” consciousness, and an outline of Sri Aurobindo’s relevance in history, society, politics, and literature. Useful for the beginner and the reader interested in a comprehensive outline of the philosopher’s work.

  • Mohanty, Sachidananda. Sri Aurobindo, A Contemporary Reader. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2012.

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    First published in 2008. A selection of texts from Sri Aurobindo’s major works, including an editorial introduction. Comprehensive and scholarly approach with an emphasis on his social vision and cultural criticism, his influence on the history of ideas, developments in theory, disciplinary practice, consciousness, and future studies.

  • Paranjape, Makarand, ed. The Penguin Sri Aurobindo Reader. New Delhi: Penguin, 1999.

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    A representative sampling of selections from most of his major works. The volume begins with the early, often-ignored essays written during the struggle for independence and traces the development of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophical and religious thought, culminating in the system of Integral Yoga. Also included are some of his poems, letters, and aphorisms. Good introduction to Sri Aurobindo’s life and thought.

  • Reddy, V. Madhusudan. Seven Studies in Sri Aurobindo. Hyderabad, India: Institute of Human Study, 1989.

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    Exposition of Sri Aurobindo’s thought distilled from seven of his major works such as The Life Divine, The Future Poetry, and The Human Cycle. The author is a leading exponent and interpreter of mystical philosophy. A valuable contribution to philosophical literature, as well as to Sri Aurobindo scholarship.

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