“The Ashram itself has been created with another object than that ordinarily common to such institutions, not for the renunciation of the world but as a centre and a field of practice for the evolution of another kind and form of life which would in the final end be moved by a higher spiritual consciousness and embody a greater life of the spirit.”
When Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry in 1910, a few associates of his political activities accompanied him. Some spiritual seekers later joined to practise the Integral Yoga under his guidance. Their number of such people was 24 when, in November 1926, the Mother took charge of the Ashram. She gave an absolute importance to work. Typical to the Integral Yoga, the practitioners were to combine the yoga of knowledge and the yoga of love with the yoga of work and the yoga of self-perfection.
With the Mother as its head and centre, the Ashram grew to around 1200 inmates. Their residences are distributed all over the city, though the majority of them are around the main building of Ashram which is near the sea. Generally, each Ashramite lives in a single room with an attached small kitchen. Simplicity and order, harmony and beauty, service and study, contemplation and creativity are some of the features we can find in their lives.
“The object of the Yoga is to bring down the supramental consciousness on earth, to fix it there, to create a new race with the principle of the supramental consciousness governing the inner and outer individual and collective life. Therefore the existence of the Asram, whatever difficulties it created for ourselves or for the individual, was inevitable. The method was the preparation of the earth consciousness in the human being as represented by the members of the Asram and others (with also a certain working in the general earth consciousness) so as to make the descent of the supramental Force possible. That Force accepted by individual after individual according to their preparation would establish the supramental consciousness in the physical world and so create a nucleus for its own expansion.”
The ideal of Sri Aurobindo Ashram is not to withdraw from life but to embrace life by serving the Divine through offering all of life movements and to discover the Divine as the secret of life. Thus, the Ashram is thriving with all kinds of activities.
The various departments of Ashram consist of several maintenance units, commercial units, education and creativity related units. There are exhibition galleries, a theatre and an open air cinema hall.
Much importance is given to physical education and Ashram’s sports facilities are most up to date. Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE) introduces integral education as outlined by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to help students lead life with a living soul and not just with a brilliant mind as is the common aim of general education.
“[It] is to teach all those who want to listen that there is another and truer way of living, that Sri Aurobindo has taught us how to live and become a true being – and that the aim of the education here is to prepare the children and make them fit for that life.”
The centre of Ashram is the house of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In the centre courtyard is the tomb of the masters, called by its Sanskrit name, Samadhi. This is surrounded by beautiful flowers of various colours and flowering plants. The living presence of the masters is a great help for the Ashram practitioners and visitors.
To be near the Samadhi is a remembrance for the mind and at the same time for the soul it is a moment of intimate contact. The Mother’s prayer, written after the passing of Sri Aurobindo, is engraved on it.
“To Thee who hast been the material envelope of our Master, to Thee our infinite gratitude. Before Thee who hast done so much for us, who hast worked, struggled, suffered, hoped, endured so much, before Thee who hast willed all, attempted all, prepared, achieved all for us, before Thee we bow down and implore that we may never forget, even for a moment, all we owe to Thee.”
As such, even a little opening in any part of the being is enough there to receive help from the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. There is also an arrangement for seekers to be able to visit Sri Aurobindo’s room for meditation on their birthdays.
Apart from this, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s rooms open for all on particular days called Darshan (Sanskrit for ‘sight’, ‘seeing’, ‘to be in the presence of the Divine’) days which become for aspiring souls an opportunity to have an intimate contact with the subtle Presence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, of receiving their blessings and the Grace of the Divine. Below is the list of Darshan days at the Ashram.
|21 FEBRUARY||THE MOTHER’S BIRTHDAYAY|
|29 FEBRUARY||THE SUPRAMENTAL MANIFESTATION DAY|
|24 APRIL||THE MOTHER’S FINAL ARRIVAL IN PONDICHERRY|
|15 AUGUST||SRI AUROBINDO’S BIRTHDAY|
|17 NOVEMBER||THE MOTHER’S MAHASAMADHI DAY|
|24 NOVEMBER||SIDDHI DAY|
|05 DECEMBER||SRI AUROBINDO’S MAHASAMADHI DAY|
Ashram on the Web: www.sriaurobindoashram.org
(Extact from ‘An Introduction to the Integral Yoga‘)