Sri Aurobindo and Sanskrit

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Item Code: IDI904
Author: Dr. Sampadananda Mishra
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 8170601592
Pages: 118
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 7.0" X 4.7"
Weight 130 gm
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Book Description


Yogi, philosopher, revolutionary, writer, poet, critic-Sri Aurobindo is a multifaceted personality. A large number of books have been written on the various dimensions of Sri Aurobindo's genius. But very little is known about Sri Aurobindo's knowledge of Sanskrit language and literature, the new insight he has given into its origins, and about his original contributions to it. Though these may not be very large, in comparison to his other writings, they are sufficiently extensive and reveal his great mastery of the Sanskrit language.

This book is an attempt to provide a first introduction to this significant but not sufficiently explored topic. We hope it will bring out another hidden aspect of Sri aurobindo's rich personality and encourage some readers to delve deeper into this subject. This work assumes a special significance if we realize the importance of Sanskrit for the resurgence of India.

For Dr. Sampadananda Mishra it was a special joy to be engaged in the research and preparation of this book, because of his devotion to Sri Aurobindo and to Sanskrit. We are grateful to Ganapti Pattegar, Bryce Gringlington, Richard Hartz, Dr. H. Maheshwari and Dr. R.Y. Deshpande for their helpful suggestions and constant encouragement. We acknowledge with thanks the help received from Dr. A.K Ganguly, Dr. Vandana Gupta, M.S.Srinivasan and Indu Rai in preparing the manuscript.


Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta on 15th August, 1872. His father, Dr. Krishnadhana Ghosh "was determined that his children should receive an entirely European upbring- ing."! Therefore he first sent the young Aurobindo to a con- vent school in Darjeeling at the age of four. Then at the age of seven, in the year 1879, Aurobindo was sent to Eng- land along with his brothers Manmohan and Benoy Bhushan so that they could be brought up in an English environment. Their caretaker Rev. Drewett was strictly instructed "that they should not be allowed to make the acquaintance of any Indian or undergo any Indian influence. These instruc- tions were carried out to the letter and Aurobindo grew up in entire ignorance of India, her people, her religion and her culture.'? During his stay of 14 years in England Aurobindo mastered not only English, French, Greek and Latin but also became familiar with but would not speak his mother-tongue, Bengali.

It is surprising that such an English-educated person should have, on his return to India, turned to the study of Sanskrit, the Vedas and the Puranas and later become known as Sri Aurobindo, the great yogi, poet, philosopher and critic. Even at an early age Sri Aurobindo "had already received strongly the impression that a period of great upheaval and great revolutionary changes were coming in the world and he himself was destined to playa part in it.") When on the 8th of February, 1893, he stepped again on Indian soil, "a vast calm descended upon him."

Sri Aurobindo began an intensive study of the languages and literatures of India during his stay at Baroda (1893- 1906). He concentrated on Sanskrit and Bengali, but also learnt some Gujarati and Marathi. He learnt San- skrit "direct in Sanskrit itself or through English.:" He learnt it by reading the Nala and Damayanti episode in the Mahabharata several times over and with minute care.' In this manner he mastered Sanskrit in a few years and discovered the real spirit of the Sanskrit language. The door of its vast literature stood open before him. He entered the realm of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Puranas, the works of Kalidasa, Bhartrihari, Bharavi, Magha, Bhavabhuti, Banabhatta, Vishnusharma and many others. Thus was revealed to him the secret great- ness of India and its culture.

Sri Aurobindo's knowledge of Sanskrit was not confined to mere reading and understanding of some texts in San- skrit; he translated many Vedic and Upanishadic Mantras into English and commented upon them. He did the same for the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and for the works of Kalidasa and Bhartrihari. Apart from these he wrote valuable and extensive research articles on many important Sanskrit texts. Through these articles he revealed the inner significance of these texts from a spiritual and socio-cultural viewpoint. The purpose of this book is to present a brief account of Sri Aurobindo's as- sociation with Sanskrit language and literature.

Introduction 1
Sanskrit Language and Sri Aurobindo  
Introduction 4
The Origins of Aryan Speech 7
Sanskrit Literature and Sri Aurobindo  
Introduction 17
Vedic Literature 18
The Vedas 19
The Upanishads 23
The Epic Literature 27
The Ramayana 28
The Mahabharata 32
The Puranas 37
Classical Sanskrit Literature 38
Kalidasa 39
Bhartrihari 43
Other Poets of Classical Sanskrit 46
Sri Aurobindo on Translating Sanskrit Texts 48
Sri Aurobindo's Original Sanskrit Writings  
Bhavani Bharati: A Sanskrit poem by Sri Aurobindo 57
Sri Aravindopanisad: A Philosophical work of Sri Aurobindo 61
Saptacatustaya: A Book on the Basic principles of Yoga 62
Tantrikasiddhiprakaranam: An Incomplete work on Tantra 63
Conclusion 65
References 67
Appendix I Excerpt from a talk of the Mother on Sanskrit 77
Appendix II Root-meaning of vowel an dconsonant sound in Sanskrit 79
Appendix III Sri Aurobindo's proposed work on Kalidasa 81
Appendix IV Selections from Sri Aurobindo's translation of Sanskrit texts 84
Appendix V Selections from Sri Aurobindo's original Sanskrit writings 111

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