The Fundamental Concepts of Sri Aurobindo
K.Srinivas Department of Philosophy, School of Humanities, Pondicherry University,Puducherry-605 014,India
Sri Aurobindo ( 1872-1950) is one of the most influential contemporary Indian philosophers and mystics. According to G.H. Langley: “ Sri Aurobindo is both a poet and speculative thinker . The same is true of Rabindranath Tagore, but the thought of Sri Aurobindo appears to me more comprehensive and systematic than that of Tagore.”
Sri Aurobindo: Indian Poet, Philosopher, Mystic ( Royal India, Pakisthan, Ceylone
Society, David Marlowe Ltd). His original name was Arabinda Akryod Ghose The philosophy of Sri Aurobindo is known as integral philosophy for it combines physical, vital and mental elements into one single whole.
. Two Volumes of Collected Poems: and Savitri. Synthesis of Yoga. The Ideal of Human Unity. These writings of Sri Aurobindo were published later in the form of books with some revisions. They are: The Essays on
the Gita. The Human Cycle. The Life Divine.
Most of his important writings appeared in his journal The Arya between 1914-20.
and of man. A harmonious and integral culture of physical.
It consists of twenty seven thousand lines. vital. points to the divine destiny of man. His writings express a steady vision with regard to the evolution of the world. and mental potentialities of
. through different stages.
Aurobindo‟s Views on Evolution The problem of evolution has attracted the attention of philosophers and scientists alike.
man lead him to super-human level to realize the sublime truth (sat-cit-ananda) . Several theories of evolution have been advanced by them. Even before the scientists have advanced
Itself created itself. For instance it is mentioned in the Taittiriya Upanishad: „In the beginning all this Universe was Non-existent and unmanifest from which manifest existence was born. non other created it. they say of it the
their theories of evolution the philosophers in the East and the West have advanced their theories. Therefore.
” Similarly. the consciousness.
Well and beautifully made. one of the orthodox systems of Indian philosophy.
.rajas. the primordial substance. The proximity of Prakriti. and tamas) which results in evolution. disturbs the equilibrium of the gunas (sattva. Samkhya talks about evolution. to Purusha.
. made a significant contribution to the theory of evolution. As a biologist he attributed evolutionary changes to natural causes. He held that evolution of life started from the primordial soft mass of living matter. and to man.
Aristotle. the ancient Greek philosopher. and it is a gradual process beginning with plants to animals with sensitivity.
and De Vries made significant contributions to the theory of evolution.
The mechanistic theorists of evolution held that life has arisen from inorganic matter controlled by natural laws. Darwin. Bergson in the West advanced creative evolution. The modern evolutionists like Lamark. and Sri Aurobindo spiritual evolution.
unless we accept the Vedantic solution that life is already involved in matter and mind in life….” Most of the modern evolutionists ignored
. According to him: “ There seems to be no reason why Life should not evolve out of material elements or Mind out of living forms.
In his The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo discusses at length his spiritual theory of evolution.
evolution necessarily involves involution. In other words. This is what is known as ascent by descent.
this point. darkness and ignorance. Light and Knowledge loses all its significance unless it is assumed that the Spirit itself has involved in matter. Sri Aurobindo attacks both materialist and idealist theories. The principle of evolution towards Spirit.
but human individual cannot accept his environment as fixed and determined forever. Both Darwin and Spenser spoke of adaptation between an individual and his environment. Similarly.
There is self contradiction in materialism for it cannot explain how unconscious principle evolves into life and consciousness from it. idealist theories held
that reason is the highest stage of evolution. then there is no evolution beyond reason. It is the source of creation and evolution. The Spirit evolves out of
. If it were so. and also the end of realization. The spirit is the Supreme Reality. Contrary to these views Sri Auroindo advocates evolution in terms of spiritualistic and humanistic principles.
matter since it is already implicit in it. It is an integration of Being and becoming. The higher involves itself in the lower in order to evolve out of it. Sri Aurobindo‟s evolution centres around his concept of Consciousness-Force which is
. The Supreme Reality is both stable and dynamic. The reality of the world is due to the manifestation of the Divine Unity into the world.
It is both immanent and transcendent. According to Sri Aurobindo:‟ The ascent to the divine Life is the human journey. the work of works. He calls it Life-Force or Divine Sakti. Both Spirit and matter are real as there is Brahman in them. the acceptable sacrifice.”
. It is the power behind all the creation. The Supreme Reality is the one without the second.active.
There are successive levels of desceding journey of Reality. The revelation of the unveiling of
. there is a progressive development in the ascending journey. There are several stages through which Reality gradually veils itself.
The descent or the involution is selfconcealing while the ascent or the evolution is the self-unvealing of the Reality. Similarly.
There are in fact. and from life to matter. and of mind. three important stages of evolution. At present we are in the mental plane. namely. of matter.the Reality has to cross many steps leading to total realization.
. It follows the same patter of descent from mind to life. Without the downward march of involution there is no evolution. of life.
I other words.
The salient feature of Sri Aurobind‟s evolution is that it solves the puzzle. matter is nothing but Spirit in a different form. The inert matter is potentially endowed with Conscious-Force.
. The puzzle is that: how does life arise out of lifeless matter? The Conscious-Force is there in matter in a dormant from.
higher mind to illumined mind. psyche to mind. mind to higher mind. mind. super-mind. The order of the ascent would be just reverse. psyche.
The descent starts from Truth and reaches matter through Conscious-Force. bliss. life to psyche. The order is as follows: matter to life. and life. illumined mind to intuitive mind. intuitive mind to over mind ad over mind to Truth
the Super-mind. But a game has a
. each veil that hides the unknown god becomes for the God-lover and God-seeker an instrument for His unveiling.” Why is that there is a process of involution and evolution? He calls it “ a game or Lila of God”. To quote Sri Aurobindo here: “ For each successive level of descent to the Divine is to man a stage in the ascent.
” This is the most original contribution of Sri Aurobindo. The process of widening a new quality is acquired. What is achieved in the process of evolution is a triple process of “ heightening. widening and integration. The process of heightening takes us from lower levels of existence to higher levels and to the highest level.has an object to be achieved. Thus something
In the process of integration the lower forms of existence get integrated with the higher forms. nor they lessened and impaired by being spiritualized. vital existence need not be destroyed by our self-exceeding . greater. they can and do become much richer.new emerges. more powerful and
. To quote Sri Aurobindo here: “ Our mental. physical.
This is the essence of spiritual
.more perfect.” The triple process of evolution leads to cosmic salvation. The transformation can be hastened by spiritul awakening. But what is the role of individual in the process of evolution? The role of individual cannot be ignored. The evolution can be hastened by individual effort.
Thus he subscribes to satkaryavada. Sri Aurobindo‟s evolution can be called purposive for it goes back to the level of matter.evolution. Also the effect is already there in the cause. At the same time it is treated as emergent for the supra-mental consciousness is a sudden and uncertain occurence. This is unavoidable.
The Bhagavadgita advocates the philosophy of action.
. As humans we cannot remain idle for all the births human birth is more precious. Therefore one should not shirk one‟s responsibilities as a citizen of the society. To act is to act in accordance with dharma.
Social Philosophy Sri Aurobindo advocated karmayoga.
We need to segregate religion and spirituality first of all.
It is mistake to think that the spiritual philosophy has no relevance to society. The former is only a doctrinaire and denomination interested in spreading
. metaphysicians and mystics have no role to play in social reconstruction. Often we think that spiritualists. To be spiritual does not mean to be religious.
. Sri Aurobindo tries to analyze the basic human nature. Like any other social philosopher. and the latter is a kind of disposition.a belief system of its own . and role of man in society. In this sense to be spiritual is to be symbol of purity. ad the place. status. a disciplined way of life through which one can attain spiritual awakening.
The inner being is represented by the spiritual element and the outer the materialistic. Both these components have to be given equal importance for a total development of human personality. The control over inner being is to prepare oneself for the new ss
. They are integrated into one single being.Man‟s being has inner and outer dimensions.
He observes: „ The erring race of human beings dream always of perfecting their environment by the machinery of government and society.society or social order. but it is only by the perfection of the soul within that the outer environment can be perfected.
.” Sri Aurobindo says that there is no historical evidence to show that there is man without society.
There should be perfect equilibrium among these three aspects
. They are the self-expressions of the Supreme Reality. and society are all manifestations that single Reality. Every individual is born in a society and needs the support of society for developing his/her physical. humankind. and vital being.Man and society are interdependent. mental. The entire universe.
Te polarity between these concepts need not be over emphasized for they are not antithetical to each other.that are responsible for healthy human development. The question of unity arises only when there is diversity. The concept of „unity‟ is very important in showing the relationship between man and society. The rich diversity that we see in society certainly
Of course men are often driven by intellectual urges and impulses that make them act selfishly. Do they really work? Thus the government machinery is used as an external force.
allows unity. This is the starting point of all social evils. The genuine unity lies in
. To contain these social evils governments and states use their discretion in framing laws and rules.
The primary objective of all social. and other human organizations is to help each other to evolve suramental consciousness. It becomes permanent only when it is achieved through spiritual means. The social cohesion achieved through external means is only temporary.
. political.the very nature of Spirit.