Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are the founders of Integral Yoga.
“What is known as Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga is the joint creation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother”, Sri Aurobindo had said. Below the biographies of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are given.
Sri Aurobindo was a revolutionary leader, poet, writer, philosopher, visionary, a great Yogi and a spiritual Master to many disciples.
He was born in 1872, August 15 at Calcutta. His father, in order that young Aurobindo receives a modern education, sent Sri Aurobindo to England at the age of six. There he spent his formative years, six to twenty, studying history, culture and over half a dozen languages, including Greek and Latin with excellence. Here he also developed his love for poetry. In 1893, at age of 21 he returned to India.
As he set his foot on the soil of India he had his first spiritual experience. Later, as he involved in revolutionary activities, he turned towards Yoga to get Power to liberate his country. With the help of a yogi, he was able to completely and permanently silence his mind.
His inner experiences continued growing as he fiercely opposed British rule through journalism and secretly through an armed revolution. “I can only repeat that he is the most dangerous man we have to reckon with”, Viceroy Lord Minto said. In 1908, he was arrested and imprisoned by the British for one full year. In prison he continued spiritual practices and realised the Divine Presence in all things and beings. He experienced the Vedantic realisation of one Truth, one single reality everywhere, in this world and beyond and soon his Yogic experiences led him to a unique revelation of life. Life, creation was not an accident or illusion or impermanence to him. His vision recognised the inherent drive of Nature as moving towards manifesting a divine life upon earth. Following an inner calling to concentrate on the development of Yoga, 1910, he permanently shifted to Pondicherry (current name Puducherry) which was a French territory and a political asylum.
While he continued his Yogic researches, living an intense inner life and developing the practical lines to manifest the vision he had received, in 1914 he met his spiritual counterpart and collaborator Mirra Alfassa, a born spiritualist from Paris, later popularly known as ‘The Mother’. She was having similar inner experiences and had a similar vision of life. Now onwards it was always Their vision which with her insistence, he began writing down in a monthly philosophical journal, Arya. At the beginning of the next year, the First World War broke out and she had to leave India.
From 1914 to 1920, Sri Aurobindo wrote extensively on various subjects, explaining the main vision in the ‘Life Divine’, giving practical guidelines through a study of existing lines of inner development in the ‘Synthesis of Yoga’. Most of his collected works, 37 volumes in all were written during this period. He wrote extensively on several lines simultaneously; from Yoga to social sciences, from commentaries on the ancient spiritual texts Veda, Upanishads and Gita to future poetry, from culture and civilisation to the unification of the nations. His method of inner discipline to progressively bridge the distance between man and the future race, he termed “Integral Yoga”. Assimilating essence of both Eastern and Western spiritual gains and the lines of development, unlike the practices of medieval ages, Sri Aurobindo gave a vision of spirituality that whole heartedly turned towards life in order to embrace, transform and divinise it in all its aspects. He spoke about growing in divinity not by shooting up in the absolute and escaping from our earthly existence but by growing in consciousness of the infinite while being on the earth, opening gradually this earthly life to the touch of the infinite so that it can mould and make the earth fit for its dwelling here.
Above the highest spiritual mind known to the mankind, mistakenly tagged as the hight of consciousness, he discovered a new level of consciousness, a hitherto unknown priciple of life which he described as the first plane of creation, an original world of whose basic nature is unity. Man, to Sri Aurobindo is the Nature’s laboratory in which, by his conscious collaboration she wants to work out the Superman.
Thanks to his rich inner life and vast knowledge, his all-inclusive approach and owing also to his western education and training of analytical observation, he was able to describe and give structure to various spiritual terms and experiences, which were for a long time in confused order and only vaguely known for the most part. While his vision is in conformity with the ancient vision of the Vedic Seers and long lasting spiritual life of India, he took spirituality to greater heights. Like in the ancient times, he made the Yogic practice all-inclusive, accepting and embracing all life and gave a new meaning to evolutionary drive of life and Nature. He also wrote thousands of letters to practicing disciples to provide practical guidance in Yoga.
Sri Aurobindo re-emphasised the importance of concentration on the Supreme Consciousness, who is the mother of all things including our souls. Concentration is the method used in all yogas. The purpose of concentration is identification. and since the Integral Yoga proceeds through an all round growth in concsioucness, the main method for this is to make relation with the Divine Mother.
Since his life was mainly in the inner dimensions, it is difficult, if not impossible to get an account of his multi-faceted life except from his writings. The best and the intuitive way to know him comes from the Mother, “What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world’s history is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme.”2 And “Sri Aurobindo came upon earth to teach this truth to men. He told them that man is only a transitional being living in a mental consciousness, but with the possibility of acquiring a new consciousness, the Truth-consciousness, and capable of living a life perfectly harmonious, good and beautiful, happy and fully conscious. During the whole of his life upon earth, Sri Aurobindo gave all his time to establish in himself this consciousness he called supramental, and to help those gathered around him to realise it.”3
His vision is at once revolutionary and appealing to our deepest perception, “The earth is a material field of evolution. Mind and life, supermind, Sachchidananda [the pure state of existence, consciousness and bliss] are in principle involved there in the earth-consciousness; but only Matter is at first organized; then life descends from the life plane and gives shape and organization and activity to the life principle in Matter, creates the plant and animal; then mind descends from the mind plane, creating man. Now supermind is to descend so as to create a supramental race.”4
On 5 December, 1950 Sri Aurobindo consciously left his body. As the Mother explained later, in order to hasten the work of the Supramental transformation upon earth and to make a decisive victory for the forces of Truth, he had to make this sacrifice.
Four days later, on the 9th December his body was laid in Samadhi (Sanskrit for ‘shrine’) in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
The Mother beautifully summarizes her mission thus: “…my only aim in life is to give a concrete form to Sri Aurobindo’s great teaching and in his teaching he reveals that all the nations are essentially one and meant to express the Divine Unity upon earth through an organised and harmonious diversity”.
– Ashesh Joshi