Heartfulness proposes meditation on the heart with an aim of attaining subtler levels of consciousness. The heart is not merely a pump for blood circulation – its role goes far beyond that. References in ancient Indian literature on Yoga, especially that from Sages like Patanjali,…
Sri Aurobindo Society was establishment is September 24, 1960. However, the Society celebrates its anniversary on September 19 as the Mother had signed the registration document on that date in 1960.
Sri Aurobido (1872–1950) Founder Guru
Founder Guru and Other Yoga Masters
SRI AUROBINDO (1872–1950)
Sri Aurobindo was born in Calcutta, on August 15, 1872, at 5:00 am, the hour of dawn. The date is doubly important. Seventy-five years later, on August 15, 1947, India attained her freedom. In a message, Sri Aurobindo, who had played a leading role in the freedom struggle, said:
“I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition.”
The year was 1907. The freedom movement in India was gathering momentum. Its leader was detained by the police. The poet Rabindranath Tagore paid him a visit after his acquittal, and wrote the now famous lines:
“Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee! O friend, my country’s friend, O Voice incarnate, free, Of India’s soul! . . . The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God. Hath come . . .
Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee.”
In the year 1928, the leader had now left politics and had gone to Pondicherry, where he plunged himself into the practice of Yoga.
The poet Tagore once again paid him a visit and declared: “You have the Word and we are waiting to accept it from you. India will speak through your voice to the world, ‘Hearken to me!’ . . .
Years ago I saw Aurobindo in the atmosphere of his earlier heroic youth and I sang to him: ‘Aurobindo, accept the salutations from Rabindranath’. Today I saw him in a deeper atmosphere of a reticent richness of wisdom and again sang to him in silence: ‘Aurobindo, accept the salutations from Rabindranath!’”
The Mother (1878–1973)
The Mother was born in Paris on February 21, 1878. Her parents were immigrants to France. Her father, Maurice Alfassa, was a wealthy Turkish banker from Adrianopolis and her mother, Mathilda Ismalun, came from Cairo. Turkey and Egypt are, in a way, a physical link between the East and the West. Later in her life, Mirra Alfassa, known as the Mother, was to become a ‘golden bridge’ in the domain of the spirit between the East and the West. A year before her birth her parents settled in France, which in the late 19th century was the fountainhead of Western culture.
In 1914, the Mother came from France and joined Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry. Together they laid the foundation and took up the task of building a new world, a new society that strives to express and embody the new consciousness, which Sri Aurobindo called the ‘Supramental’. It is a collective ideal that calls for a collective effort for its realization, in every field of human activity.
Today, Sri Aurobindo Ashram is known as a great centre of spiritual endeavour. People from all over the world come to Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry), in South India, to bathe in an atmosphere full of peace, light and joy, to live a life of sadhana and yoga, to imbibe a new spiritual force that can embrace and perfect life.
And the word they hear the most in the Ashram is ‘Mother’. From the beginning, Sri Aurobindo entrusted the Mother with full material and spiritual charge of the Ashram. Everything in the Ashram is her creation; every initiative draws inspiration from her and moves towards her vision.
The Mother beautifully summarizes her mission thus: “. . . my only aim in life is to give a concrete form to Sri Aurobindo’s great teaching and in his teaching he reveals that all the nations are essentially one and meant to express the Divine Unity upon earth through an organised and harmonious diversity”. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother strove together to embody and manifest upon earth this Divine Consciousness, with the Ashram as the starting point.
It was the Mother who, along with Sri Aurobindo, planted the seeds of a new way of life founded on this higher consciousness. It was her drive, her force, her guidance that made things happen. From the smallest insignificant detail to the overseeing of every aspect of maintaining the Ashram, from interacting with the children of the Centre of Education to the supervising of the athletic competitions in the sports ground—she was there, fully present, to see that everything is raised to its utmost perfection.
History and Development
SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother believe that evolution is primarily a process of the manifestation of higher and higher levels of consciousness upon earth. As life descended into inert matter, and mind into unconscious life, so too higher levels are waiting to descend. The highest of these is the Supermind and it was the constant endevour of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to bring it down for a radical and permanent transformation of the earth.
But before the Supermind could descend, other planes had to manifest to build the proper base. On November 24, 1926, a decisive step was taken when the Overmind, the highest of the inner planes before the Supermind, descended into the earth consciousness.
It was a momentous day. It also brought about many outward changes. Sri Aurobindo now installed Mirra as the Mother of his spiritual endevour, his collaborator and equal, and handed over to her the responsibility of the inner and outer life of the small group of sadhaks. He then withdrew into seclusion, to concentrate on the next step of his Yoga.
This was the beginning of what had now grown into a spiritual community of about 1,200 people, known as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The Ashram grew and expanded under the Mother’s guidance.
In 1950, Sri Aurobindo left his body in a supreme sacrifice to hasten the Supramental descent upon earth. The descent of the Supermind took place on February 29, 1956.
In the meantime the Ashram continued to grow and expand under the Mother’s guidance. In 1952, the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education was started. And in 1954 Pondicherry merged politically with India.
The Ashram now had nearly 1,500 members. With the number of devotees increasing all over the world, the Mother started Sri Aurobindo Society in 1960. Its primary aim is “to make known to the members and people in general the aims and ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, their system of Integral Yoga and to work for its fulfilment in all possible ways and for the attainment of a spiritualized society as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo.”
SRI AUROBINDO SOCIETY
The Mother is the Founder President of Sri Aurobindo Society.
The Society is a not-for-profit NGO, working throughout the world for individual perfection, social transformation and human unity in diversity. It invites participation from all who want to work together for a better tomorrow, with no distinction of nationality, religion, caste or gender.
Sri Aurobindo Society (SAS) seeks to bring a dynamic spirituality into material life and all its activities, so that the global problems can find a true solution, and the dreams of humanity, through the ages, can be realized.
SAS has been recognized by the Government of India as a charitable organization, a research institute and an institution of importance throughout India.
With its head office in Puducherry and nearly 350 centres and branches, SAS invites participation from all those who want to work together for a better tomorrow, with no distinction of nationality, religion, caste or gender.
SAS organizes programmes and initiatives that seek to bring dynamic spirituality into material life and all its activities, so that global problems can find a true solution, and the dreams of humanity, through the ages, of a better and happier world, can be realized.
Mantra yoga and other yogic practices are an integral part of all of our workshops and camps; besides, regular yoga sessions are held in the Society premises for all those who would like to attend them.
With multidimensional focus on action research, SAS is setting up models, centres of excellence and training institutes that are sustainable, scalable and replicable. SAS brings deeper values and excellence in Indian Culture, Yoga, Sanskrit, Education, Health, Leadership, Women and Youth etc.
Contribution of the institute for the Knowledge, Promotion and Development of Yoga
Sri Aurobindo and The Mother: Yoga of Integral Transformation
Sri Aurobindo’s integral Yoga accepts almost all the principles of the synthesis arrived by Gita and Tantra and keep them as its foundation and starting point. Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo accepts and adopts fully the triune path of the Gita with an emphasis on Karma Yoga or Yoga of action; it accepts the total life-affirming emphasis of the Tantra and the tantric view of life as the progressive manifestation of the Divine power; it accepts and incorporates in its discipline all the methods of practice evolved by ancient systems of Yoga. But the unique feature of Sri Aurobindo’s integral Yoga is the concept of the descent of the Divine Consciousness and the concept of integral transformation.
The main emphasis of traditional Yoga is on the ascent of the ordinary human consciousness into the higher divine consciousness and union of the individual soul with the universal divine self. And the recurring theme of the spiritual ideal in ancient Yogas was liberation of the individual soul from the bondage of ego and desire.
Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo accepts the indispensable necessity of this ascent, union and liberation for the ultimate spiritual fulfillment. But integral yoga places an equal emphasis on the descent of the light and power of the divine consciousness into the mind, life and body of the individual, thereby transforming the whole being of man and all his life in the image of divine perfection.
The spiritual liberation of the individual soul is not sufficient for this higher transformation. Not only the soul, but the mind, life and body, the instruments of the soul, have to be liberated, universalized and perfected. This higher transformation makes the whole being of man or woman a perfect and flawless instrument of the divine power for the progressive manifestation of the divine will in the world. This channelization of the divine consciousness into human life through the instrumentation of the spiritually perfected individual is the higher aim of integral Yoga.
To realize this integral spiritual transformation, integral Yoga relies mainly on self-surrender, a progressive and integral surrender of the whole being of the individual self to the divine power of the universal and transcendent self.
This progressive surrender brings an increasingly conscious guidance and transforming action of the divine power in the individual. As Sri Aurobindo explains,
“The principle in view is a self-surrender, a giving up of the human being into the being, consciousness, power, delight of the Divine — by which the Divine himself directly and without veil master and possessor of the instrument, shall by the light of his presence and guidance perfect the human being.”
But we must note here that self-surrender in Yoga is not religious resignation which says, “not mine but Thy Will be done” and slumps into inertia or “tamas” as it is called in Indian thought. The process of self-surrender is a psychological discipline by which every part of our inner and outer being, from the highest and the most conscious and enlightened parts to the lowest, obscure, half-conscious or unconscious and instinctive elements in us are made more and more conscious and persuaded to renounce their ego, self-will and desires and give themselves willingly and consciously to the divine power. As Sri Aurobindo explains,
“The surrender must be total and seize all the parts of the being. It is not enough that the psychic should respond and the higher mental accept or even the inner vital submit and the inner physical consciousness feels the influence. There must be no part of the being, even the most external, anything that hides behind doubts, confusions and subterfuges anything that revolts of refuses”.
This is the inner condition under which the divine power will descend and bring about the transformation. And Sri Aurobindo adds emphatically, “note that a tamasic surrender refusing to fulfill the condition and calling on God to do everything and save one all the trouble and struggle is a deception and does not lead to freedom and perfection”. But obviously such a total and perfect surrender may not be possible to achieve in the beginning of the Path; it is realized progressively in stages. But as the seeker progresses in his self-giving and surrender, he begins to feel more and more concretely, the living presence of the divine power guiding, helping and supporting him, doing the Yoga for him and in him and gradually effecting a transformation of his inner and outer being and also his external life.
This brings us to the other unique feature of integral Yoga. Unlike most of the traditional Yogic systems, integral Yoga doesn’t have a systematic, formal or standardized methods of practice but a free, flexible and natural process determined by the nature, temperament, capacities and the evolving psychological and spiritual needs of the individual seekers. As Sri Aurobindo points out, “In the first place, it does not act according to a fixed system and succession as in the specialized method of Yoga, but with a sort of free, scattered and yet gradually intensive and purposeful working determined by the temperament of the individual in whom it operates, the helpful material which his nature offers and the obstacle it presents to purification and perfection”. The second distinct element of integral Yoga is that Life itself, and all the activities and experiences of life, is used as a means for spiritual growth of the individual. As Sri Aurobindo explains and sums up the essence of the method and process of integral Yoga:
“the divine Power in us uses all life as the means of this integral Yoga. Every experience and outer contact with the world environment, however trifling or however disastrous, is used for the work and every inner experience, even to the most repellent suffering or the most humiliating fall, becomes a step on the path of perfection. And we recognize in ourselves with open eyes the method of God in the world, His purpose of light in the obscure, of might in the weak and the fallen, of delight in what is grievous and miserable. We see the divine method to be the same in the lower and in the higher working; only in the one it is pursued tardily and obscurely through the subconscious in Nature, in the other it becomes swift and self-conscious and the instrument confesses the hand of the Master.”
But the highest aim of integral Yoga is the spiritual transformation of the human body. This is the great work which the Mother was doing up to Her last days. In the traditional spirituality of the past, spiritual illumination or transformation happens either in the consciousness of the mind or heart or in will but never extended to the physical consciousness of the body. But in the Yoga of physical transformation which the Mother was doing, body is awakened to the divine consciousness which is within each of its cells. According to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, this divinization of the body and the world of matter is the ultimate destiny of terrestrial evolution.
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