The next few days , rains are expected to batter Pudducherry . But the devout, seekers,faithful and those in search of the eternal truth would be meditating at the Ashram and the Samadhis of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo , irrespective of the hostile and inclement weather conditions. Last year, I spent considerable time at the Samadhi , keeping my eyes closed and contemplating , while my family was cycling in the French settlement area. My mind too was cycling, wrestling with innumerable thoughts and gradually settled down. Once we start accepting thoughts, they dissolve and the mind calms down and we can feel the inhalation and exhalation of breath. That is meditation, a state where we do nothing but are in a state of deep rest according to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Aurobindo was born on 15th August 1872 and left his mortal self on 5th December 1950. This piece is a tribute to the remarkable personality and tries to capture the life of this modern day master. Is it not ironical and significant that, the Master was born on 15th of August (though 75 years earlier), the date India achieved freedom from foreign yoke ?He played a significant part in our freedom struggle, but later in life pursued the search for eternal truth. He was occidental in upbringing, schooled at St Paul’s, England from 1879 to 1884 and also admitted to King’s College . As his academic record was without blemish, he secured a scholarship. Sri Aurobindo qualified for the Indian Civil Service in 1890 but as he did not attempt the rider’s test, was disqualified from the prestigious service. Around that time he met the Gaekwad from Baroda and joined the princely state where he served for 13 long years (1893 to 1906). The seeds of freedom were obviously strongly embedded in his personality that he chose to work for an Indian principality rather than the oppressive British. At Baroda apart from discharging a variety of responsibilities, ranging from the revenue department , working in the Secretariat of the Maharaja and being the Vice Principal of the Baroda College , Sri Aurobindo mastered Sanskrit , other Indian languages , much to the delight of his father. From being a Burra Saheb, Sri Aurobindo established his connection with the orient world. In 1905, Lord Curzon divided Bengal. This unjust action was nothing but the policy of Divide-et -empera policy practiced by the British. This prompted Sri Aurobindo to leave the establishment of Baroda Principality and plunge into the freedom struggle of his native Bengal. The period from 1902 to 1910, saw Sri Aurobindo take part in the Swadeshi movement. He along with Tilak, attacked the moderate leadership of Congress and were branded as extremists. The movement was called the Indian Sinn Fein or Swadeshi and espoused the cause of Swaraj. much later Congress had taken up this doctrine . So in a way these leaders were pioneers in nourishing the dream of a free India. The struggle included boycott of British and foreign merchandise ( which Gandhiji espoused subsequently), complete non- cooperation and foundation of a system of Arbitration courts , boycott of universities , colleges and creation of a network of national schools and colleges. Meanwhile he founded a daily called Bande- Mataram. Sri Aurobindo was tried for sedition , arrested and later acquitted. He presided over the National Conference of Indian National Congress at Surat in 1907 and was also implicated in the Alipore Conspiracy case along with his brother, Barindra. He was jailed for a year but was released unscathed. Sri Aurobindo also established two weeklies namely, Dharma in Bengali and the Karmayogin in English. He was again to be interned in 1910 for sedition, but the charges were quashed by the Calcutta High Court . There began the inner quest for emancipation -the spiritual search . And he sailed to Pudducherry heeding the call of his inner voice to devote to spiritual work and Sadhana . Around this period the Mahatma became the beacon of our freedom struggle. Almost a case of one fighting from within and the other from without. This is the magic of the Divine. Perhaps nature conspired and conjured this drama, The man with those piercing , magnetic yet compassionate eyes yearned for the eternal quest and the slightly built man with broad ears and an enigmatic smile launched India’s freedom struggle. Four years of practice of deep, silent Yoga saw works like, The Divine Life, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Isha Upanishad , Essays on Gita appear in the philosophical monthly called Arya ,in 1914. As he was evolving spiritually and examining the contours of the eternal truth during his retreat, works like The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Secret Of Veda , The Future Of Poetry and The Ideal Of Human Unity were revealed to humanity. Sri Aurobindo started practising Yoga in 1904 and worked to realise the essential elements of spirit and matter. He postulated that mind is in a state of yet ignorance in search of truth . However there is a super mind and a much higher consciousness and this consciousness is what needs to be discovered. I gather it is the difference between the small and the big mind. It is possible for a Sadhak to reach that state of super-mind or that elevated state of super consciousness through practice of yoga, sadhana, observation and contemplation. This is the essence of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga and teachings, in which we become aware of the self. Mirra Alfassa is the Mother who had several psychic and spiritual experiences and came in contact with Sri Aurobindo. It was during her second coming in 1920 that began her real tryst with Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and the search for the eternal truth. Sri Aurobindo cast his mortal self on 5th December and the baton was passed on to the Mother. She left her mortal self on November 17th 1973. However their work continues at Puddicherry, in the wonderful Auroville Complex. This is a wonderful place to meditate and realise ones true self. Mother , in the documentary at Auroville Complex states that to establish another religion would be a big disaster. The attempt should be to continue with the existing tenets of yoga, rather than establish a dogma. ” Escape , however high, redeems not life, Life that is left behind on a fallen earth. Escape cannot uplift the abandoned race Or bring to it victory and the reign of God. A greater power must come , a larger light”- Sri Aurobindo
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