Guiding Light of The Month

O LORD, Thou art my refuge and my blessing, my strength, my health, my hope, and my courage. Thou art supreme Peace, unalloyed Joy, perfect Serenity. My whole being prostrates before Thee in a gratitude beyond measure and a ceaseless worship; and that worship goes up from my heart and my mind towards Thee like the pure smoke of incense of the perfumes of India. - The Mother

The Human Race in Light of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga


In this 100th year of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival at Pondichery (4th April 1910), we shall attempt a new series on ‘The Human Race’ in our monthly Newsletter with readings from Sri Aurobindo’s writings between 1893 to 1910 and further continue with the books ‘Ideal of Human Unity’, ‘Human Cycle’, ‘War and Self Determination’, ‘Foundations of Indian Culture’ (initially called ‘Defence of Indian Culture’).


‘It is spiritual revolution we foresee and the material is only its shadow and reflex” wrote Sri Aurobindo in Karmayogin 100 years ago. Today, when the world is passing through its greatest turmoil, may his immortal words guide us on the arduous path towards the Life Divine.

Master returns to Mother India

It was the ‘hour of God’ in the evolution of mankind on 6th February 1893 at 10.55am when Sri Aurobindo stepped again on the Indian soil at the Apollo Bunder of Bombay. This event is reminiscent of the great line from Savitri : ‘There are moments when the Spirit moves among men and the breath of the Lord is abroad upon the waters of our being’. This was one such moment.
India was in a pathetic condition due to economic impoverishment, high rate of illiteracy and demoralized national spirit. Sanatana Dharma was shrouded under superstitions and ignorance. She ardently welcomed the great Rishi with garlands of spiritual experiences as expressed in his own words ‘I began to have spiritual experiences, but these were not divorced from this world but had an inner and infinite bearing on it, such as a feeling of the Infinite pervading material space and the Immanent inhabiting material objects and bodies. At the same time I found myself entering supraphysical worlds and planes’.

It was not merely a coincidence that in September 1893 Sri Vivekananda departed to United States to show the Light of India and Asia to the West in the Parliament of Religions, reconfirming the advent of New Age in the history of mankind.

Sri Aurobindo has said: ‘It would be only myself who could speak of things in my past giving them their true form and significance. Neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life; it has not been on the surface for men to see.’ - (Letters with Sri AB Purani)

Like the poets of the Bhakti age, who walked from place to place in India singing ballads glorifying the anecdotes from Sri Krishna’s life, we too shall start recollecting and narrating the external episodes surrounding the life of our Master. This would enable glimpses into the ways of Divine Grace.

At the age of 21, after accumulating the profoundest knowledge of the West and attaining scholarly mastery of Greek and Latin along with other classical European languages, Sri Aurobindo returned to Mother India bringing a charming smile on her gloomy face and ushered in the hour of her renaissance. He expressed in his poem ‘Envoi’:
Me from her lotus heaven Saraswati
Has called to regions of eternal snow
And Ganges pacing to the southern sea,
Ganges upon whose shores the flowers of Eden blow.
Whenever the Divine descends upon earth in human form, it too passes through the same agony and pain in real life in order to show us the path of Sadhana.

He who would save the race must share its Pain.
The great who came to save this suffering world
Must pass beneath the yoke of grief and pain;
( Savitri book VI canto II)
‘The recovery of the perfect truth of the Veda is therefore not merely a desideratum for our modern intellectual curiosity, but a practical necessity for the future of the human race’ (‘On Veda’, Journal Dharma); ‘The Discipline (Dharma) spoken of in the Gita can be followed by everyone; it is open to all.’ (‘Asceticism and Renunciation’, Journal Dharma)

Sri Aurobindo took up a job with the Maharaja of Baroda (1893–1906) and the king was extremely overjoyed to have a person of ICS caliber and high intellect for very little remuneration. Sri Aurobindo soon took an additional assignment as Vice Principal of Baroda National College. In1906 he joined as Principal of the newly opened National College, Kolkata, after the partition of Bengal in 1905. The period from 1893 to 1910 was that of reconstruction, revival and self awakening for India owing to Sri Aurobindo’s work. She began to regain her vitality to play her future role in the evolutionary cycle of mankind.

Such was the Midas touch of his writings in transforming the Indian mind that Lord Minto(Viceroy of India) called him ‘The most dangerous man in India’. Indeed the Divine Force always appears as most dangerous to the Asuric elements that try to obstruct the ascent of humanity towards a higher Consciousness.

Like goddess Saraswathi unveiling her own Light , Sri Aurobindo mastered Bengali, Sanskrit and a few other Indian languages within a short span of one or two years and penetrated the core of Indian scriptures.

Several translations, interpretations, explanations, new ideas in the form of articles were published as periodicals in the journals listed below from 1803 to 1910. They laid the foundations for the independence of India, human unity and a new world order.

Yugantar (Bengali journal started by Barindra, Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother)
Induprakash (Marathi–English journal by KG Deshmukh, Sri Aurobindo’s Cambridge friend)
Bandemataram (English Newspaper started by Bipin Chandra Pal)
Karmayogin (English Weekly started by Sri Aurobindo)
Dharma (Bengali Weekly by Sri Aurobindo)
‘God in the nation becomes the realization of the first moment to us because the nation is the chosen means or condition through which we rise to the higher synthesis, God in humanity, God in all creatures, God in Himself and ourself’ (‘Highest synthesis’ from Karmayogin’). He further says in the article ‘Man slave or Free….The time has almost come when India can no longer keep her light to herself but must pour it out upon the world. Yoga must be revealed to mankind because without it mankind cannot take the next step in the human evolution.’

He wrote "there are some who fear to use the word 'freedom' but I have always used the word because it has been the Mantra of my life to aspire towards the freedom of my nation’ (Yugantar). The period from 1893 to 1910 was of intensive tapasya and preparation for the bringing down of Higher Consciousness on this earth. We may recollect the sweet words of his cousin Basanthi Devi, ‘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?’ – (Bengali writings/letters Translated by – Sri Nolini Kanta Gupta).

He contributed periodicals to Induprakash under the title ‘New Lamps for the Old’ throwing light on the current situations prevailing in India and the world. Sri Aurobindo was the Chief editor of the Bande Mataram even though his name was not revealed publicly and in the words of Sri Bipin Chandra Pal : ‘Morning after morning, not only Calcutta but the educated community almost in every part of the country eagerly awaited its vigorous pronouncements on the stirring questions of the day.... It was a force in the country which none dared to ignore, however much they might fear or hate it; and Aravinda was the leading spirit the central figure in the new journal’.

On meeting a Maharastrian Yogi, Lele, Sri Aurobindo wrote, ‘I did not think either of questioning the truth or the possibility, I simply sat down and did it. In a moment my mind became silent as a windless air on a high mountain summit and then I saw one thought and then another coming in a concrete way from outside; I flung them away before they could enter and take hold of the brain and in three days I was free." He further adds "When I was in Bombay, from the balcony of a friend's house I saw the whole busy movement of Bombay as a picture in a cinema show, all unreal and shadowy."
After one year of Tapasya in the Alipore Jail, Sri Aurobindo says in his Uttarapara Speech ‘I saw Vasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover.’ Unconditional surrender of our Master to the Divine, the Divine force itself demonstrating practically to humanity the supreme totality of surrender and total identification. ‘I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was Vasudeva who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me His shade..’’

In the words of Chittaranjan Das (the lawyer who defended his case): ‘My appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, the agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India but across distant seas and lands. Therefore, I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this Court, but before the bar of the High Court of History’


References:

‘Sri Aurobindo’s Works - Sri Aurobindo in the First Decade of the Century’ by Manoj Das
‘Life of Sri Aurobindo’ by AB Purani
‘Letters with Sri Aurobindo’ by AB Purani
‘Evening Talks’ compiled by Nirod Beran - Bengali writings (Translated by Sri Nolini Kanta Gupta)


- Sundari KBT( kbt.sundari@gmail.com)

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