Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo
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The Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo (Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library) were published by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1972, on occasion of Sri Aurobindo's centenary. The compilation fills 30 volumes, or close to 16,000 pages.
In addition to his philosophical magnum opus, The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo also wrote Savitri, a 24,000-line spiritual poem; The Synthesis of Yoga, an exposition of spiritual progress; books on ancient Indian spirituality (e.g. Essays on the Gita); various volumes on historical evolution of humanity (The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity); critiques on literature (e.g. The Future Poetry), as well as thousands of letters on yoga and personal development to his disciples (Letters on Yoga). The thoughts of his partner, The Mother, are captured in dozens of other volumes, including her conversations on her own personal transformation, The Agenda.
Volumes in the Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo include:
- Bande Mataram: Early Political Writings I (1893-1908)
- Karmayogin: Early Political Writings II (1909-1910)
- The Harmony of Virtue: Early Cultural Writings The Harmony of Virtue
- Writings in Bengali
- Collected Poems
- Collected Plays and Short Stories, Part One
- Collected Plays and Short Stories, Part Two
- Translations: From Sanskrit and Other Languages
- The Future Poetry and Letters on Poetry, Literature and Art.
- The Secret of the Veda
- Hymns to the Mystic Fire
- The Upanishads
- Essays on the Gita
- The Foundations of Indian Culture and the Renaissance in India
- Social and Political Thought
- The Supramental Manifestation and Other Writings
- The Hour of God and Other Writings
- The Life Divine Part One
- The Life Divine Part Two.
- The Synthesis of Yoga Parts One and Two
- The Synthesis of Yoga Parts Three and Four.
- Letters on Yoga Part One
- Letters on Yoga Parts Two and Three
- Letters on Yoga
- The Mother
- On Himself
- Savitri Part One
- Savitri Parts Two and Three.
- Index and Glossary
The Life Divine
The Life Divine is Sri Aurobindo's major philosophical opus. It combines a synthesis of western thought and eastern spirituality with Sri Aurobindo's own original insights. The Life Divine covers topics such as the human aspiration, the emergence of life in the cosmos from out of a Divine Source, the evolution of matter to spirit in the universe, the division and dualities inherent in human consciousness, the way out of man's ignorance through an evolution of consciousness, and the spiritual destiny of life on earth.
The Life Divine was translated into poetic Bengali in "Divya Jeevan Prasanga" by the scholar saint Sri Anirvan.
Summary of the book
Sri Aurobindo has designed The Life Divine in two books. The first book contains 28 chapters, and the second book consists of two parts, each containing 14 chapters, for a total of 56 chapters.
Book I is entitled The Omnipresent Reality and The Universe. Here Sri Aurobindo describes how the Infinite Consciousness, the omnipresent Reality (Brahman, the Absolute) extended Itself through the power of Truth Consciousness (Supermind) to become this universe of forms. He also explains the origin and underlying nature of the planes of creation, from matter to vital life to mind, and on back to Spirit.
Sri Aurobindo tells us that Man has emerged as a divided being, unable to fulfill his deepest human aspiration for God, Light, Peace, Joy, Love, and Immortality. And yet if we move to a deeper consciousness within, and open to the descending Supramental power above, we will overcome our divided nature, develop a new consciousness that will be the basis of a divine existence on earth.
Book II is entitled The Knowledge and The Ignorance: The Spiritual Evolution. Here, Sri Aurobindo delves deeper into the nature of our essential Ignorance, born of creation. He tells what in the involution, cosmos, life, and our being creates and perpetuates this Ignorance, and the way out of it, which is to arrive at true, Integral Knowledge. He goes further and indicates that as we overcome our Ignorance, we can also embark on the yogic effort to that will bring about our psychic, spiritual, and supramental transformation, leading to a spirit-based humanity, culminating in a Divine life on Earth.
Outline of the book
In 58 chapters and 2 books, Sri Aurobindo covers a vast array of subjects. In general, though, the book can be summarized as follows:
- Man aspires for God, immortality, truth, delight, and perfection.
- That aspiration remains unfulfilled because Man's nature is divided.
- He can come to fulfill his aspiration when he discovers his higher nature, i.e. his higher consciousness.
- The division and dualities in Man's nature -- i.e. his essential Ignorance -- has its origins in the creation of material life in the cosmos.
- The most predominant form of that Ignorance is that Spirit and Matter seem at opposite poles.
- However, when we develop the higher consciousness we see that they, like all other divisions and contradictions are not so, but are complementary and One.
- The reality, Brahman is in fact that Oneness, and includes all planes from spirit to Matter. In fact, all planes are simply different forms of the One Reality, Brahman, the Absolute.
- To see everything, and all planes as One is essence is to have the Vision of Brahman.
- To show how Brahman gave birth to, includes both Spirit and the Universe, he explains the emergence of Sat-Chit-Ananda. It will also serve to explain why Man is born a divided, Ignorant Being.
- Out of the Conscious Force of the Infinite Divine emerged a universe of forms. He explains how:
- The process of the cosmos emerging from a Divine Source to cosmic mind to energy to matter is the Involution. The emergence of matter to life to mind and to spirit is the Evolution.
- The first step that the Absolute takes out of Itself towards creation is Existence (Sat), Consciousness-Force (Chit), and Delight (Ananda).
- Supermind, i.e. Truth Consciousness is a fourth stage.
- Acting to fulfill Real Ideas of the Infinite, Conscious Being, Supermind enables a universe in space and time.
- Supermind created out of the Conscious Force of Being, the cosmic Mind and Energy that would be the basis of forms of life in creation.
- Supermind using the dividing power of cosmic Mind divides the Energy of the Force down to the atomic level, enabling Matter and a universe of unique, individualized forms to emerge.
- The Spirit (as Existence, Consciousness-force, and Delight) that was the source of creation is involved in, embedded and hidden in matter.
- The forms in creation emerge in contradiction and Ignorance, which was the Divine intent.
- The Conscious Being intended the forms to be ignorant to allow for the greatest multiplicity and diversity of possibility in creation.
- Because the forms in the cosmos originate in nescience and unconsciousness, man shares that quality. It reflects in his divided and Ignorant nature. It is the reason for suffering, pain, and death.
- Through Man's evolution of consciousness, he overcomes his limited nature, bringing the spirit to the surface of life. As a result, the involved Being, Consciousness, and Delight come out.
- As he experiences his higher nature, he has the wonder of Discovery, which brings infinitely variable delight, which is beyond the status Delight of Ananda.
- Man can follow a process to raise his consciousness.
- When Man moves his attention away from the sense inputs of the surface, and discovers his inner being – down to the depths of Soul within – he begins a vast ascent in consciousness.
- In the depths, he begins to move out of his ego and become more connected with, sensitive to, and unified with the world around him, including others. He loses that sense of division and duality in life.
- As Man perceives the world from this deeper perspective, he perceives a vast array of truth, which enables him to come out of his fundamental Ignorance. He begins to develop an Integral Knowledge that is in identity with all aspects of the object under consideration or that he pursues.
- As he moves within, his minds opens to light and intuitions and revelations of knowledge. He also begins to perceive all parts of a subject or object of knowledge, including its whole and essence, instead of the part he sees through ordinary sense and rational mind. He develops a super-rationality, which he experiences as Integral Knowledge, the opposite of his original Ignorance.
- He then sees beyond duality and contradiction in life, such as pleasure and pain, good and evil, positive and negative, two sides of a dispute, etc., perceiving them as necessary, complementary, and One.
- He also comes to see the Oneness of Spirit and Matter. That matter is a form of spirit, and that spirit expresses itself in creation through matter (and all other planes).
- As a result, he perceives the dual pairs of the Unmanifest and the Manifest, the Creator and Creation, the original Being and the Becomings of life as integrally One. It is the Vision of the Reality, Brahman.
- As man discovers his true self and highest consciousness, he experiences ultimate Delight of being, which is far beyond the transient happiness of the normal human.
- Delight of being is in fact the very reason that the Infinite set in motion the process that enabled a universe to emerge from a Divine Source.
- When man discovers his higher nature, he feels the delight for which a universe of forms was created. The static Delight of the conscious Being is then extended to the dynamic delight experienced by individual humans in creation.
- Through man's evolution and transformation of consciousness, the Divine Intent is fulfilled. When Man becomes fully spiritual in nature, he completes the circle from whose Source he and the cosmos originally emerged.
- As he develops his consciousness to the full, he becomes the fully transformed Gnostic being; the supramentalized Individual.
- As a certain number of gnostic individuals raise to the fore, a collective Divine Life becomes a real possibility, fulfilling the Divine Intent in enabling a universe of forms, while also fulfilling man's deepest aspirations for Truth, Light, Love, God, and Immortality.
Other subjects addressed
In presenting his arguments above Sri Aurobindo delves into a number of related subjects in great detail. They include: the nature of space and time, good and evil, determinism and free-will; the process of creation in the cosmos and in our own lives; how Supermind through the intention of an ultimate reality created the universe; the limitations of both the materialistic and scientific approach to life; the limits of approaching spirit apart from life; the nature of the ultimate Reality (the Absolute, Brahman); how we can come to realize it; the parts of our being (mental, vital, physical, spiritual); the parts of our inner being (the subconscient, subliminal, and evolving Soul (Psychic being); the gross, subtle, and causal planes through which life operates; a new future view of time experience (simultaneous time vision); the nature of the supramental Force descending into life; the evolutionary process of the involved spirit moving in matter to the surface; the limits of religion; the limits of the mind of the West; the nature of the human mind and its many planes; the nature of intellectuality vs higher thought processes; how we can know truths and knowledge directly (i.e. identity) through spiritualized mind; the planes of spiritual mind (silent, illumined, intuitive, overmental, and supramental); how energy emerged from the original Spirit; how invisible energy is the source of all forms; how that energy emerged from an Original Conscious Force; how the Conscious Force is part of the original Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence, conscious-force, delight), how Satchitananda moved to render the universe through Supermind, the cause of the Ignorance in Man; the 7 essential forms of his Ignorance; how moving to the depths overcomes the Ignorance; the many details of how the future Gnostic, supramental being will operate in life; the nature of the Divine social existence; and many others.
Development of the book
The Life Divine first appeared serially in the Arya, in fifty-two original chapters published from August 1914 to January 1919.
In 1939 Sri Aurobindo revised and enlarged these chapters for publication in book form. Volume I was published in November 1939. It included the first twenty seven chapters from the Arya, with an entirely new twenty-eighth chapter. Chapters 19 and 23 also had major revisions. The other chapters were only revised in a minor way.
Volume II, recast and enlarged, followed in July 1940, in two separately bound parts. Of the twenty eight chapters there were twelve that were entirely new: chapters 1,2, 5,6, 10, 14, and 23 through to 28. All the remaining chapters were revised (chapters 18 and 21 thoroughly) and several had been given new titles.
The Arya Publishing House brought out a second edition of Book One (now called "Volume I") in 1943, and of Book Two ("Volume II") in 1947. These incorporate only a few minor corrections and changes. A third edition of Book One was published in 1947.
The first American edition was issued by the Sri Aurobindo Library, New York, as a single volume in 1949 and a comprehensive index provided; this edition was reprinted in 1951.
The Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Pondicherry published the fourth Indian edition in 1955, reprinted in 1960; these also were of a single volume.
The India Library Society Edition (New York) came out in 1965, while the sixth Indian edition is part of the deluxe Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, and appeared in 1970 in two volumes, Book One and Book Two Part I comprising volume 18, and Book Two Part II volume 19 of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo.
Three following editions were reproduced by photo-offset from the Birth Centenary Library; the ninth edition included a glossary of Sanskrit terms and two appendixes, and the tenth (1977) was once again a single volume.
The Bengali translation in incomparable poetic Bengali was written by the scholar saint Sri Anirvan at Sri Aurobindo's request. This was published as "Divya Jeevan Prasanga" (Bengali: দিব্য জীবন প্রসঙ্গ). Kolkata: Sri Aurobindo Pathamandir, 2000 (fourth edition). (Originally published 1948-51).
Synthesis of Yoga
The Synthesis of Yoga is Aurobindo's principle work on Yoga, comparing the methods of the various schools of traditional yoga, and providing the comprehensive way for following the true path to Divine consciousness. It is the primary work on Integral Yoga, the system of yoga that Sri Aurobindo developed.
The book originally appeared in serial form in Arya, published between 1914 and 1921.
Synthesis of Yoga is divided into four parts: the Yoga of Divine Works, of Integral Knowledge, of Divine Love, and of Self Perfection. The first three correspond to the threefold yoga of the Bhagavad Gita (i.e. karma-, jnana-, and bhakti-yoga), while the last (incomplete) section gives Sri Aurobindo's own development and synthesis of these three paths.
Sri Aurobindo revised the text of the book during three distinct periods. These are: In the 1920s, mostly minor corrections to certain chapters; a full-scale revision during or around 1932, with a view to publishing The Synthesis as a book; and during the early 1940s, further work on the later chapters of Part I, as well as beginning two new chapters, which he apparently intended to add to this part, but which he abandoned before completion. During the later part of the 1940s, Sri Aurobindo lightly revised the entire first part of the Synthesis while preparing it for publication.
In all, some chapters were extensively revised, others had only minor revision, and some have not been revised at all.
In 1972 The Synthesis of Yoga was published as Volumes 20 and 21 of the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library (SABCL); a popular edition that was reprinted many times.
The fifth, 1999 edition, includes some material and revisions not previously published.
Letters on Yoga
Letters on Yoga is a compilation of Sri Aurobindo's letters on all areas of spiritual instruction.
Although he withdrew from public life and from meeting the sadhaks in person, Sri Aurobindo continued to instruct his students by letter, maintaining a voluminous correspondence, especially in the 1930s. Many of these letters were edited and then published. Some of the letters were revised by Sri Aurobindo before publication. Later these became three volumes of the 30 volume Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library edition of Sri Aurobindo's collected works.
The Mother is a brief but important devotional and metaphysical essay written in 1927 on the divine mother, whom he identified with his spiritual equal spiritual collaborator Mirra Alfassa, later known as The Mother. Later a number of his letters to sadhaks on the subject of the Mother were added, and translations of some of the Mother's Prayers and Meditations.
Savitri is an epic poem based on the story of Savitri and Satyavan in the Mahabharata. Its central theme involves the transcendence of current humanity and emergence of an immortal supramental gnostic race upon earth.
Arya was a 64-page monthly review written by Sri Aurobindo (originally with the help and encouragement of Mirra's husband Paul Richard).
It ran for six and a half years and constituted the appearance in serialised form almost all of his major works except his epic poem Savitri. These included The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, 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.
The first issue of the Arya appeared on Sri Aurobindo's 42nd birthday (15 August 1914), the last came out in January 1921.
- Bases of Yoga, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-77-9
- Bhagavad Gita and Its Message, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-78-7
- Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga, (compiled by M.P. Pandit), Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-74-4
- Essays on the Gita, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-18-7
- The Future Evolution of Man, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-55-1
- The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-44-6
- Hymns to the Mystic Fire, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-22-5
- The Ideal of Human Unity, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-43-8
- The Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo's Teaching and Method of Practice, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-76-0
- The Life Divine, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-61-2
- The Mind of Light, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-70-5
- The Mother, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-79-5
- Rebirth and Karma, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-63-9
- Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-80-9
- Secret of the Veda, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-19-5
- Sri Aurobindo Primary Works Set 12 vol. US Edition, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-93-0
- Sri Aurobindo Selected Writings Software CD ROM, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-88-8
- The Synthesis of Yoga, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-65-5
- The Upanishads, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-23-3
- Vedic Symbolism, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-941524-30-2
- The Essential Aurobindo - Writings of Sri Aurobindo ISBN 978-0-9701097-2-9
- The Powers Within, Lotus Press. ISBN 978-0-941524-96-4