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- The Life Divine - Book Two - The Knowledge and the Ignorance - The Spiritual Evolution - Chapter 29
He was released when no evidence could be provided, following the murder of a prosecution witness, Narendranath Goswami during the trial. During his stay in the jail, he had mystical and spiritual experiences, after which he moved to Pondicherry , leaving politics for spiritual work.
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During his stay in Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo developed a method of spiritual practice he called Integral Yoga. The central theme of his vision was the evolution of human life into a life divine. He believed in a spiritual realisation that not only liberated man but transformed his nature, enabling a divine life on earth. His father, Krishna Dhun Ghose, was then Assistant Surgeon of Rangpur in Bengal, and a former member of the Brahmo Samaj religious reform movement who had become enamoured with the then-new idea of evolution while pursuing medical studies in Edinburgh.
She had been sent to the more salubrious surroundings of Calcutta for Aurobindo's birth. Aurobindo had two elder siblings, Benoybhusan and Manmohan , a younger sister, Sarojini, and a younger brother, Barindrakumar also referred to as Barin. Young Aurobindo was brought up speaking English but used Hindustani to communicate with servants. Although his family were Bengali , his father believed British culture to be superior.
He and his two elder siblings were sent to the English-speaking Loreto House boarding school in Darjeeling , in part to improve their language skills and in part to distance them from their mother, who had developed a mental illness soon after the birth of her first child. Darjeeling was a centre of British life in India and the school was run by Irish nuns, through which the boys would have been exposed to Christian religious teachings and symbolism.
To achieve this it was necessary that they study in England and so it was there that the entire family moved in Drewett in Manchester. The boys were taught Latin by Drewett and his wife. This was a prerequisite for admission to good English schools and, after two years, in , the elder two siblings were enrolled at Manchester Grammar School. Aurobindo was considered too young for enrolment and he continued his studies with the Drewetts, learning history, Latin, French , geography and arithmetic.
Although the Drewetts were told not to teach religion, the boys inevitably were exposed to Christian teachings and events, which generally bored Aurobindo and sometimes repulsed him. There was little contact with his father, who wrote only a few letters to his sons while they were in England, but what communication there was indicated that he was becoming less endeared to the British in India than he had been, on one occasion describing the British Raj as a "heartless government". Drewett emigrated to Australia in , causing the boys to be uprooted as they went to live with Drewett's mother in London.
He also acquired some familiarity with the German and Italian languages and, exposed to the evangelical strictures of Drewett's mother, a distaste for religion. He considered himself at one point to be an atheist but later determined that he was agnostic. By , Manmohan had determined to pursue a literary career and Benoybhusan had proved himself unequal to the standards necessary for ICS entrance. This meant that only Aurobindo might fulfil his father's aspirations but to do so when his father lacked money required that he studied hard for a scholarship. Aurobindo secured a scholarship at King's College, Cambridge, under recommendation of Oscar Browning.
He spent the next two years at King's College. Cotton secured for him a place in Baroda State Service and arranged for him to meet the prince. His father died upon hearing this news. In Baroda, Aurobindo joined the state service in , working first in the Survey and Settlements department, later moving to the Department of Revenue and then to the Secretariat, and much miscellaneous work like teaching grammar and assisting in writing speeches for the Maharaja of Gaekwad until He was later promoted to the post of vice-principal.
During his stay at Baroda, he had contributed to many articles to Indu Prakash and had spoken as a chairman of the Baroda college board. He linked up with resistance groups in Bengal and Madhya Pradesh , while travelling to these states. He established contact with Lokmanya Tilak and Sister Nivedita. Aurobindo often travelled between Baroda and Bengal, at first in a bid to re-establish links with his parent's families and other Bengali relatives, including his sister Sarojini and brother Barin, and later increased to establish resistance groups across the Presidency.
He formally moved to Calcutta in after the announcement of the Partition of Bengal. In , on a visit to Calcutta, he married year-old Mrinalini, the daughter of Bhupal Chandra Bose, a senior official in government service. Aurobindo was 28 at that time. Mrinalini died seventeen years later in December during the influenza pandemic. Aurobindo was influenced by studies on rebellion and revolutions against England in medieval France and the revolts in America and Italy.
In his public activities he favoured non-co-operation and passive resistance; in private he took up secret revolutionary activity as a preparation for open revolt, in case that the passive revolt failed. In Bengal, with Barin's help, he established contacts with revolutionaries, inspiring radicals such as Bagha Jatin or Jatin Mukherjee and Surendranath Tagore.
He helped establish a series of youth clubs, including the Anushilan Samiti of Calcutta in Aurobindo attended the Congress meeting headed by Dadabhai Naoroji and participated as a councillor in forming the fourfold objectives of "Swaraj, Swadesh, Boycott and national education". In at the Surat session of Congress where moderates and extremists had a major showdown, he led along with extremists along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
The Congress split after this session. He was arrested again in May in connection with the Alipore Bomb Case. He was acquitted in the ensuing trial, following the murder of chief prosecution witness Naren Gosain within jail premises which subsequently led to the case against him collapsing. Aurobindo was subsequently released after a year of isolated incarceration. Once out of the prison he started two new publications, Karmayogin in English and Dharma in Bengali.
He also delivered the Uttarpara Speech hinting at the transformation of his focus to spiritual matters. The British persecution continued because of his writings in his new journals and in April Aurobindo moved to Pondicherry, where Britain's secret police monitored his activities. This sparked an outburst of public anger against the British, leading to civil unrest and a nationalist campaign by groups of revolutionaries, who included Aurobindo.
In , Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki attempted to kill Magistrate Kingsford, a judge known for handing down particularly severe sentences against nationalists.
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However, the bomb thrown at his horse carriage missed its target and instead landed in another carriage and killed two British women, the wife and daughter of barrister Pringle Kennedy. Aurobindo was also arrested on charges of planning and overseeing the attack and imprisoned in solitary confinement in Alipore Jail. The trial of the Alipore Bomb Case lasted for a year, but eventually, he was acquitted on 6 May His defence counsel was Chittaranjan Das.
During this period in the Jail, his view of life was radically changed due to spiritual experiences and realizations. Consequently, his aim went far beyond the service and liberation of the country. Aurobindo said he was "visited" by Vivekananda in the Alipore Jail: "It is a fact that I was hearing constantly the voice of Vivekananda speaking to me for a fortnight in the jail in my solitary meditation and felt his presence. In his autobiographical notes, Aurobindo said he felt a vast sense of calmness when he first came back to India. He could not explain this and continued to have various such experiences from time to time.
He knew nothing of yoga at that time and started his practice of it without a teacher, except for some rules that he learned from Ganganath, a friend who was a disciple of Brahmananda. Aurobindo was influenced by the guidance he got from the yogi, who had instructed Aurobindo to depend on an inner guide and any kind of external guru or guidance would not be required. In Aurobindo withdrew himself from all political activities and went into hiding at Chandannagar in the house of Motilal Roy , while the British were trying to prosecute him for sedition on the basis of a signed article titled 'To My Countrymen', published in Karmayogin.
As Aurobindo disappeared from view, the warrant was held back and the prosecution postponed. Aurobindo manoeuvred the police into open action and a warrant was issued on 4 April , but the warrant could not be executed because on that date he had reached Pondicherry, then a French colony. In Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo dedicated himself to his spiritual and philosophical pursuits. In , after four years of secluded yoga, he started a monthly philosophical magazine called Arya.
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This ceased publication in Many years later, he revised some of these works before they were published in book form. At the beginning of his stay at Pondicherry, there were few followers, but with time their numbers grew, resulting in the formation of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in For some time afterwards, his main literary output was his voluminous correspondence with his disciples. His letters, most of which were written in the s, numbered in the several thousand. Many were brief comments made in the margins of his disciple's notebooks in answer to their questions and reports of their spiritual practice—others extended to several pages of carefully composed explanations of practical aspects of his teachings.
These were later collected and published in book form in three volumes of Letters on Yoga.
In the late s, he resumed work on a poem he had started earlier—he continued to expand and revise this poem for the rest of his life. Sri Aurobindo died on 5 December Around 60, people attended to see his body resting peacefully. Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru , and the President Rajendra Prasad praised him for his contribution to Yogic philosophy and the independence movement. National and international newspapers commemorated his death.
The Life Divine - Book Two - The Knowledge and the Ignorance - The Spiritual Evolution - Chapter 29
Sri Aurobindo's close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Alfassa b. Alfassa , came to be known as The Mother. In her 20s she studied occultism with Max Theon.
Along with her husband, Paul Richard, she went to Pondicherry on 29 March ,  and finally settled there in Sri Aurobindo considered her his spiritual equal and collaborator. After 24 November , when Sri Aurobindo retired into seclusion, he left it to her to plan, build and run the ashram, the community of disciples which had gathered around them. Sometime later, when families with children joined the ashram, she established and supervised the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education with its experiments in the field of education.
When he died in , she continued their spiritual work, directed the ashram, and guided their disciples. As such he argued that the end goal of spiritual practice could not merely be a liberation from the world into Samadhi but would also be that of a descent of the Divine into the world in order to transform it into a Divine existence. Thus, this constituted the purpose of Integral Yoga.
Sri Aurobindo believed that Darwinism merely describes a phenomenon of the evolution of matter into life, but does not explain the reason behind it, while he finds life to be already present in matter, because all of existence is a manifestation of Brahman. He argues that nature which he interpreted as divine has evolved life out of matter and the mind out of life.
All of existence, he argues, is attempting to manifest to the level of the supermind — that evolution had a purpose. At the centre of Aurobindo's metaphysical system is the supermind, an intermediary power between the unmanifested Brahman and the manifested world.
In his writings, talks and letters Sri Aurobindo has referred to several European philosophers with whose basic concepts he was familiar, commenting on their ideas and discussing the question of affinity to his own line of thought. Thus he wrote a long essay on the Greek philosopher Heraclitus  and mentioned especially Plato , Plotinus , Nietzsche and Bergson as thinkers in whom he was interested because of their more intuitive approach.
After reading some chapters of The Life Divine , he is reported to have said that Sri Aurobindo's vision of evolution was basically the same as his own, though stated for Asian readers. Several scholars have discovered significant similarities in the thought of Sri Aurobindo and Hegel.