Notes on the works of Sri Aurobindo

Life Divine
One of the greatest works of Sri Aurobindo it is in two
volumes: the first volume entitled “Omnipresent Reality and
the Universe” deals with the problem of the nature of the
Ultimate Reality and whether and in what way it is related to
our universe of the triple existence of Matter, Life and Mind.
In considering this problem, Sri Aurobindo gives a critical
exposition of the main theories of Reality and shows how
partial truths can be reconciled in an integral view of Reality.
While expounding and analysing the nature of Matter, Life
and Mind, he utilises all the data available to mankind from
the most ancient time to our time and of the most modern
discoveries in various sciences and other disciplines of
knowledge. He takes each major element of our universal
existence and shows how its Ultimate is in the Omnipresent
Reality; and in discovering this relation he shows how
inevitably and logically we are forced to look for and find a
link between the Ultimate Reality and the Universe. This link
he calls the Supermind; he gives a detailed exposition of the
concept of the Supermind in its essential nature and principle.
The second volume is in two parts; the first part entitled
“The Infinite Consciousness and the Ignorance” takes
us to a more detailed consideration of the nature of the
Ultimate Reality as the Infinite Consciousness with all
its epistemological implications. A new Logic which he
calls the Logic of the Infinite is formulated along with its
detailed application. Theories of dream, hallucination and
illusion are given a thorough examination leading up to
the more important examination of the human mind whose
chief characteristic is Ignorance. The nature of Ignorance is
analysed, its boundaries fixed and its relation to Knowledge
determined. It raises the most baffling and so far pronounced
to be unanswerable question of the origin of the Ignorance,
and its relation with and place in Infinite Consciousness, and
answers it with the help of the psychological concept of Tapas
or the Exclusive Concentration of Consciousness. Finally, the
nature of Evil, Error and Falsehood is analysed and shown how
it is a resultant of the Ignorance which not being the primal
principle could be remedied and although real at present could
be finally destroyed.
The final part of the work entitled “The Knowledge and
The Spiritual Evolution” takes us to the climax of the entire
line of reasoning pursued so far by showing how the Integral
Truth which is obscured can be made manifest, through what
processes and through what necessities of the workings of
Nature itself can the Spirit be made fully manifest in our
thinking and living body. In doing so, Sri Aurobindo analyses
the working of Nature and finds therein a process of evolution
as a profound and meaningful self-unfolding of the supramental
Divine which after gradually and through stages veiling itself
into its opposite, the Inconscient, rises again gradually and
through stages towards its fullest manifestation in the most
gross form of existence, the Matter. He develops his theory
of Spiritual Evolution and illustrates it by an examination of
humanity’s development through the ages upto its present
stage of achievement. The Theory of Rebirth also gets here
a complete examination and together with the theory of
supraphysical worlds, rebirth is shown to be acceptable as a
machinery that Nature had adopted for its spiritual evolutionary
purposes. Finally, Sri Aurobindo shows how Nature developed
so far should make a further ascent from Mind to the
Supermind, through what intermediary stages and, when that
is accomplished, what will be the nature of the supramental
or the Gnostic Being in psychological and existential aspects.
The final chapter considers and visualises what will be the
nature of the Divine life on earth and by an examination of
the various current theories of social reconstruction and of
the present critical stage through which humanity is passing
shows of what rational lines humanity could safely plan for the
building up of a future ideal humanity or superhumanity.

The Synthesis Of Yoga
This is in 4 parts with Introduction. The introduction
which runs through 5 chapters considers the problem of the
conditions of the Synthesis of Yoga; it considers the nature
of Life and Nature and comes to the conclusion that Yoga is
commensurate with Life and Nature: it shows that Yoga is the
full and right utilisation of the energies of Life and Yoga, and
that in fact, each Yoga is a special utilisation of a selected
energy of Life and Nature. It considers briefly the systems
of Yoga and seizes upon a central common principle and a
central dynamic force capable of organising and combining
the varied energies and different utilities of these systems,
giving us in consequence a Synthesis of Yoga.
The rest of the book carries out this synthesis: it defines
the Integral Yoga and lays down what are the aids for the
requirements of the Sadhak of the Integral Yoga. It takes up
each of the three paths of Yoga, those of Work, Knowledge
and Love, and considers how each of them can be taken up
in the comprehensive sweep of the Integral Yoga. Thus the
first part “The Yoga of the Divine Works” begins with the
statement of the principle of self-consecration and Surrender
in Works and then takes us to show the successive stages by
which the sadhak ascends through the sacrifice of his works
of Knowledge, Love and Life, and how during this process
the psychic being and later on the superbeing and later on
the supermind come into play to effectuate the supreme
transformation of the sadhak into the Divine Worker.
The second part “The Yoga of the Integral Knowledge”
deals first with the problems of knowledge, understanding
and its purification, concentration and renunciation. Then it
attempts a synthesis of the Disciplines of Knowledge whose
primary preoccupation is with the liberation of the Self
from subjection to the Mind, Heart and Body and Ego. But
this liberation in the Integral Yoga is shown to lead to the
realisation of not merely the Transcendent Satchidananda, the
Inactive Brahman, but also to the Cosmic Self, the Cosmic
Consciousness and the Active Brahman. In this context, Sri
Aurobindo gives an account of the nature of the realisation
of these various aspects of the Brahman, and chalks out the
ladder of the Self-Transcendence from the lower planes of our
ordinary existence. At the top of the ladder opens the planes of
the Gnosis of the Supermind and Ananda. The nature of these
principles is described and the conditions of their attainment
laid down. Finally brief accounts of Samadhi, Hatha Yoga
and Raja Yoga, which are allied to the Path of Knowledge
are given along with their valuation and place in the Integral
The third part “The Yoga of Divine Love” opens with
the discussion of the place of Love in the triple path. Then
follows the statement of the Motives of Devotion and how in
the Way of Devotion these motives and Godward emotions
are utilised. The way of Devotion is stated and then comes
the statement of the nature of the realisation of the Divine
Delight and the Ananda Brahman. The question of the Divine
Personality receives a detailed treatment. This part ends with
the most profound statement of the Mystery of Love.
In the fourth part “The Yoga of Self-Perfection” the ideal
of the Divine Life and integral perfection receives a detailed
psychological treatment; the method of perfection each part of
the being and instrument of the Spirit is laid down; the summit
points of the various paths are further integrated and perfected;
and finally, there is an elaboration of the supramental faculties,
the gradations of the Supermind, the Supramental Thought
and Knowledge, the Supramental Sense and the Way to the
Supramental Time Vision.

Essays On The Gita
This work is in two series written to state the living truths the
Gita contains in form and expression suitable to the mentality
and helpful to the spiritual needs of our present-day humanity.
In doing so, Sri Aurobindo brings forth the most fundamental
concepts of the Gita and discusses them in order to bring out
their true significance; in this sense, he reveals the original
intentions of the Divine Teacher of the Gita, the Lord Krishna.
Although it is a running commentary on the Gita and follows
its course verse by verse, it discusses all issues at their proper
places in the context of the whole burden of the Gita’s teaching.
The most outstanding stresses of this work are that 1)
the Gita is a dynamic and universal teaching revealed to the
representative soul of humanity by the Divine Teacher who
reveals himself as an Avatar, that 2) it is a book of a synthetic
Yoga which synthesises the paths of Work, Knowledge and
Love, that 3) it gives an integral knowledge of the Reality
and reveals the supreme and secretmost nature of the Divine
Reality, and that 4) the Gita has a message which still needs to
be heard by the present humanity.
The first series deals with Karma Yoga and discusses the
problems of the Man in the battle-field of life, the meaning
and significance of Sacrifice, the purpose, significance and
process of Avatarhood, the Divine Work and shows how by
renunciation and sacrifice of desire in works one can attain
to Equality, Knowledge, even Nirvana and Transcendence
and then only can one be the instrument of the Divine for
its work in the world. It ends with a chapter on the “Gist of
The second series which is in two parts, states the Gita’s
integral theory of Reality and shows how it becomes the basis
of the Synthetic Yoga. It discusses most intricate concepts
such as the Two Natures of the Divine, Vibhuti, Swabhava
and Swadharma. Finally, it shows what exactly is the supreme
secret of this synthetic teaching and what its core. It ends with
a most powerful and inspiring essay entitled “The Message of
the Gita”

The Human Cycle
A work on the Psychology of Social development. It gives a
cyclical view of Social Progress by tracing the history right
from the barbaric Age to the present Age of Reason and
envisages the coming of the Spiritual Age. It discusses the
concepts of Individualism, Objectivism and Subjectivism in
Social Thought, Nationalism and enunciates the Ideal Law of
Social Development. It defines Civilisation and contrasts it
with Barbarism and Culture. It also contrasts the Aesthetic and
Ethical cultures and shows how their conflict can be overcome
neither by Reason nor by Religion but by the suprarational
spirituality. Finally, it analyses the psychology of our own
times and shows how we find there an end of the Curve of
Reason and the necessity of Spiritual Transformation. It lays
down the conditions for the coming of a Spiritual Age and
outlines how humanity will turn to that Age.

The Ideal Of Human Unity
A work devoted to the study of communal and collective
life, the power that moves it and the sense of aim towards
which it moves. It undertakes to establish a thesis that Nature
drives towards larger agglomerations to arrive at a largest and
ultimate union of the world’s peoples. It examines the past
aggregates and notes their imperfections; it discusses the
relation of the individual and the group, and considers the
real significance behind the urge for empire-building. The
possibility of a World-empire is suggested and considered in
the context of the recent growing tendencies of Nationalism
and Internationalism. And after stating the Nature’s Law of
Unity in Diversity it proceeds to suggest an ideal solution of
a free grouping of mankind. The conditions, possibilities and
forms which this new creation may take are indicated. Finally
it arrives at the conclusion that there must result a World-State
which would be a federation of free nationalities.
A Post-script chapter dealing with the world conditions
today is added so as to bring the book up-to-date.

The Riddle Of This World
The writings collected in this small volume are replies given
by Sri Aurobindo to questions dealing with certain occult
truths of our world-existence which come to be dealt with in
Yoga, and they throw much light on such topics as Supernals,
Graded Worlds, Rebirth, False Lights, etc. Some letters
deal with the questions about Yoga, Western Metaphysics,
Agnosticism, Doubt and Faith.

On The Veda
A work in four parts: the first part “The Secret of the Veda”
raises the problem of the secret meaning of the Veda, discusses
Sayana’s theory and theories of the European Scholars and
comes to the conclusion that the Vedic Mantras have esoteric
meaning and they embody spiritual knowledge. It takes up
illustrative hymns to Agni and other gods, makes a comparative
study of their various interpretations and shows how when
interpreted in their true and esoteric sense they reveal a natural
flow and smooth lines of thought and knowledge. Finally, it
reveals to us the inner meanings of the Vedic symbols such as
those of Seven Rivers, the Herds of Dawn, the Cow and the
Sun, the Seven-headed Thought and the Hound of Heaven.
The last chapter states the summary and conclusions.
In the second part “Selected Hymns” Sri Aurobindo
gives the translation of certain selected hymns and gives
interpretative commentaries on them, while in the third part
he gives further elucidation of the doctrine of the Mystics and
also gives translations of 28 hymns to Agni and other hymns
to Guardians and Lords of Light, to Varuna, and Savitri. These
translations are further explained by several brief footnotes.
The fourth part takes up still further hymns to the God of
the Mystic Fire, Thought, Gods and the Vedic Fire. And finally,
there is an appendix of an essay dealing with the problem of
the Origins of the Aryan speech.

The Problem Of Rebirth
This thin volume consists of three sections: the first deals with
the problem of Rebirth and discusses it with reference to the
theories of Evolution, Heredity, Karma, Free Will and shows
the significance of Rebirth.
The second section deals with the complex lines of Karma
with reference to the Terrestrial Law and Mind Nature while
the third deals with the higher lines of Karma and of Truth.

Kireet Joshi
(Reproduced from an earlier issue 1972 of Sri Aurobindo’s Action)

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