Evolution is not finished. As man emerged out of the animal, so out of the man superman emerges
— Sri Aurobindo
Born to an affluent parents in Calcutta on August 15, 1872, Aurobindo Ghosh, at the tender age of seven, left for England to pursue western education that had no touch with Indian thought and culture.
Throughout his stay of 14 years in England, he attained first hand knowledge with western culture and thought. But from bottom of his heart, he nurtured a great love for his motherland. He experienced the beginning of spiritual life even during his stay in England, and started to write poetry.
The future course of his life was becoming gradually clear for him. After his failure to enroll in the ICS, there was no further need for him to stay on in England. He visited the Maharaja of Baroda in London in December 1892 and secured employment at the Baroda State Service. He experienced a great premonition that some great revolution was going to take place and had his own part to play in it. On February 6, 1893, he arrived at Apollo Bunder in Bombay. He recalled that as soon as he set foot on Indian soil he felt a great spiritual calm and it continued to stay within for the rest of his life. It was if Mother India had given loving shelter to her dear son to protect him from the chaos of our enter consciousness.
He went to England at the age of seven and returned when he was 21 years of age without any knowledge of any Indian language. He learnt Bengali, Sanskrit, Gujarati and Marathi here and the texts of the Indian philosophy and culture opened out his mind to the unfathomable depths as of Indian spiritual wisdom. It was here that he started his first systematic Yoga practices after coming in touch with Yogis like Lele and Swami Brahmanand.
In 1909, Aurobindo married Mrinalini Devi who passed away in 1918, having succumbed to a bout of influenza. At that juncture in his life, everyone noticed the integration of the best of the East and the West in him. If the fusion of the East and West is the criteria for the future development of man, Aurobindo is surely an example of the future man.
In 1905, he became the Vice-President of Indian National Congress Session in Benaras. By that time, he became known to leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He returned to Bengal to be in the thick of revolutionary activities in 1906 and started a publication called Bande Mataram to propagate his ideas. In 1908, he was arrested for conspiracy in the celebrated Alipore Bomb case and was acquitted and released in May 1909.
At the time of his confinement in prison, he attained the fulfillment of his sadhana and was blessed with the vision of Lord Krishna and heard the voice of Swami Vivekananda in Jail, directing him in his Yoga practice.
After coming out of jail in his famous Uttar Para speech, he gave expression of the changes in his thinking and the resolve to take up a far higher path of spiritual emancipation of the human kind.
In 1910, he left Calcutta secretly for Chandannagore, a French enclave, north of Calcutta. Mirra Blanch Rachel Alfassa, an extraordinarily spiritually gifted French lady, later to be known as the Mother, joined Aurobindo in 1920 to start the Pondicherry Ashram. From then onwards till his leaving the body for heavenly abode in 1950, he remained in seclusion, engaged in his sadhana. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, many religions organisations came forward to perform public service in times of famine, floods, epidemics or any other natural calamities. The Ramakrishna Mission may very well be called the pioneers in this respect. Swami Vivekananda was quite as quite categorical when he said that he did not see any point in worshipping stone Gods in a temple. He taught people that to offer service to humankind was really offering service to God. In his teaching he advocated working for people in distress as the best form of worship. Karma yoga, selfless service, is the central thought of the teachings of Swami Vivekananda.
The central theme of Aurobindo's philosophy is the evolution of human consciousness. In his own words, “Evolution is not finished, reason is neither the last word nor the reasoning animal the supreme figure of nature. As man emerged out of the animal, so out of the man superman emerges.” n