Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta on 15th of August 1872. In 1879, at the tender age of seven, he was taken to England for education and lived there for the next fourteen years. In 1890 he went to King's College, Cambridge, where he studied for two years and won all scholarships and prizes in the Classics. He also passed in the same year the Indian Civil Service but later deliberately got himself disqualified from Service. At that very time Sri Aurobindo happened to meet the Maharaja of Baroda in London and got an appointment in the Baroda Service and returned to India in January 1893.
Sri Aurobindo spent the next thirteen years (1893-1906) in the Baroda State Service. These were years of self-culture, literary activity and preparation for his future work. At Baroda he learnt Sanskrit and a few Indian languages and assimilated the spirit of Indian culture in all its aspects.
But, by 1906 Sri Aurobindo's involvement in India's freedom struggle became so deep that he left the Baroda service and openly joined the political movement.
Sri Aurobindo persuaded the then moderate Congress leaders to come forward publicly as an All-India party with a definite and challenging programme for complete independence - Purna Swaraj.
But even while involved in so much political activity, Sri Aurobindo had also been practicing' Yoga since 1904 and by February 1910, he realised that the focus of his work had widened and he wanted to get the power through Yoga which alone could transform the ills of the world as a whole. He, therefore, withdrew to a secret retreat at Chandernagore and in the beginning of April 1910 sailed for Pondicherry in French India and cut off all connections with active politics.
During his stay at Pondicherry, he remained exclusively devoted to his spirtual work and his sadhana. After four years of silent Yoga, in 1914 he began the publication of a philosophical monthly, the Arya. Most of his more important works, The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita, the Isha Upanishad, appeared serially in the Arya. These works embodied much of the inner knowledge that had come to him through the practice of Yoga.
Ever since he had gone to Pondicherry in 1910, Sri Aurobindo had lived with just a few disciples bur by 1926, a small community of disciples had grown around him and in November 1926, he founded the Ashram in collaboration with the Mother, a French lady who had earlier been one of his main devotees.
In the first eight years of his Sadhana, Sri Aurobindo had got two major realisations. The first one was of the silent, spaceless and timeless Brahman, sometimes also referred to as Nirvana and the second one was of the 'cosmic consciousness' i.e. of God as Creator and Inhabitor of all beings and all that is. In 1912 he was able to achieve the reconciliation of these two aspects and then he set out to unite and harmonise the two ends of existence- Spirit and the World.
Most paths of Yoga lead to the Spirit but also, in the end, away from life: Sri Aurobindo's rises to the Spirit to descend with its gains and bring down its light, power and bliss into the world in order to transform it. It is possible by opening to a greater divine consciousness to rise to this power of light and bliss, discover one's true self, remain in constant union with the Divine and bring down the Higher Force for the transformation of mind, life and body. To realise this possibility has been the aim of Sri Aurobindo's life, work and teachings.
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