Born: August 15, 1872
Died: December 5, 1950
Achievements: He was a freedom fighter, poet, scholar, yogi and philosopher. Worked towards the cause of India’s freedom, and for further evolution of life on earth.
Aurobindo Ghose was a multifaceted person. He was a freedom fighter, poet, scholar, yogi and philosopher. He spent his life working towards the cause of India’s freedom, and for further evolution of life on earth.
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was born on August 15, 1872 at Calcutta. His father was Krishnadhan and his mother was Swamalata. Aurobindo Ghose had an impressive lineage. Raj Narayan Bose, an acknowledged leader in Bengali literature, and the grandfather of Indian nationalism was Sri Aurobindo’s maternal grandfather. Aurobindo Ghosh owes not only his rich spiritual nature, but even his very superior literary capacity, to his mother’s line. His father was an M.D. from England.
When Sri Aurobindo was five years old, he was sent to Loretto Convent School at Darjeeling. Two years later in 1879, Aurobindo Ghose, was sent to England along with his brothers for higher studies. Aurobindo completed his schooling from St. Paul’s in London. In 1890, at the age of eighteen, Sri Aurobindo got admission into Cambridge. Here, he distinguished himself as a student of European classics. To comply with the wish of his father, Sri Aurobindo Ghose also applied for the ICS while at Cambridge. He passed the Indian Civil Service Examination with great credit in 1890. He, however, failed to stand the required test in horsemanship and hence was not allowed to enter the Covenantal Service of the Indian Government.
In 1893, Aurobindo Ghose, returned to India, and became the Vice-principal of the State college in Baroda. He drew a salary of Rs.750/-. He was held in great respect by the Maharaja of Baroda. Aurobindo was an accomplished scholar in Greek and Latin. From 1893 to 1906 he extensively studied Sanskrit, Bengali literature, Philosophy and Political Science.
In 1906, in the wake of partition of Bengal, resigned his job and joined the Bengal National College on a salary of Rs.150/-. He plunged headlong into the revolutionary movement. Aurobindo Ghose played a leading role in India’s freedom struggle from 1908. Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was one of the pioneers of political awakening in India. He edited the English daily Bande Mataram and wrote fearless and pointed editorials. He openly advocated the boycott of British goods, British courts and everything British. He asked the people to prepare themselves for passive resistance.
The famous Alipore Bomb Case proved to be a turning point in Sri Aurobindo Ghosh’s life. For a year Aurobindo was an undertrial prisoner in solitary confinement in the Alipore Central Jail. It was in a dingy cell of the Alipore Jail that he dreamt the dream of his future life, the divine mission ordained for him by God. He utilized this period of incarceration for an intense study and practice of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Chittaranjan Das defended Sri Aurobindo, who was acquitted after a memorable trial.
During his time in prison, Aurobindo Ghosh, had developed interest in yoga and meditation. After his release he started practicing pranayama and meditation. Sri Aurobindo Ghose migrated from Calcutta to Pondicherry in 1910. At Pondicherry, he stayed at a friend’s place. At first, he lived there with four or five companions. Gradually the number of members increased and an Ashram was founded.
In 1914 after four years of concentrated yoga at Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo launched Arya, a 64 page monthly review. For the next six and a half years this became the vehicle for most of his most important writings, which appeared in serialised form. These included Essays on The Gita, The Secret of The Veda, Hymns to the Mystic Fire, The Upanishads, The Foundations of Indian Culture, War and Self-determination, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, and The Future Poetry. In 1926, Sri Aurobindo Ghose retired from public life.
Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy is based on facts, experience and personal realisations and on having the vision of a seer or Rishi. Aurobindo’s spirituality was inseparably united with reason. The goal of Sri Aurobindo was not merely the liberation of the individual from the chain that fetters him and realization of the self, but to work out the will of the Divine in the world, to effect a spiritual transformation and to bring down the divine nature and a divine life into the mental, vital and physical nature and life of humanity.
Sri Aurobindo passed away on December 5, 1950 at Pondicherry at the age of 78.