Integral yoga

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Integral yoga
Founder Sri Aurobindo, The Mother
Established 1921

Integral yoga sometimes also called supramental yoga is yoga stipulated by Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa (commonly referred to as The Mother). Many of its philosophical concepts and practices are found in the books & conversations by Aurobindo and the mother.

Integral yoga finds Evolution to be one of the prime factors in Physical cosmology. proposing that there is a continuous evolution of being with consciousness and life as two primary factors, with an inevitable tendency to achieve a fullness of being, consciousness & life. It observes that the self, spirit & reality have been revealing themselves from the inconscient matter and would eventually evolve itself either completely or again merge back to the absolute.[1]

The mother terms absolute is an all inclusive unity which has divided itself resulting in creation. this has resulted in an Unity consciousnes arriving at consciounes of multiplicity in unity, and the fragments is expressed as space and time. At each point of this division or expansion, each point has the possibility to be conscious of itself and conscious of the original state of Consciousness, the mother terms that this state of consciousness as supramental state.[2]

Aurobindo terms our current status of evolution is still an intermediatery stage, & human beings not more than a complex mass of nervous, mental & physical habits held together by few ruling ideas, desires & associations,[1]but he would eventually lead to self finding and unfolding of the spirit and finally leading to self reveleation of divinity in all things with true power of itself in nature.[3]

He terms Yoga to be a rapid and concentrated evolution of being, which would take effect in ones life as compared to unassisted natural evolution which would take many centuries or many births.[4] unlike other Yoga practices Integral yoga does not propose any kind of physical asanas, breathing techniques or external movements and is more psychological in nature. In his book records on yoga (a collection of his personal diary notes) Aurobindo suggests a grand program which came to him called sapta chatushtaya (seven quadrates) describing the flowering of potentialities into a divine being.

Nature of Reality[edit]

Integral yoga finds evolution as the basic principal movement of life on Earth, with this conceptual outlook, finds that intelligence, mind and human consciousness being preexisting in the matter, has manifested it's potentialities enlarging itself to the current world of forms.[5] Aurobindo rejects the notion of life being a dream, illusion or an impossible evil that has become a fact[6] but finds the world to be a differentiated unity, a manifold oneness generating infinite variety of its foundation and beginning.He postulates all substances are stretched out between physical matter and a pure form of substance, presenting itself as a pure spiritual perceptive knowledge where the subject becomes its own object which he calls as a spirit, and finds the substance is conscious existence presenting itself to the sense as object, and this relation between substance and sense exists so that work of world formation could proceed and also suggests that this relationship is not being a static one but a dynamic one where there is an ascending and developing series of relationship created between sense and substance.[7]

Experiencing Reality[edit]

Aurobindo finds that the manifold movement of the one or a dividing action in nature is wrongly misrepersented as a reality of irreconcilable opposites, dualities & clashing of opposing truths leading to problems and mysteries, but is actually a single unity pressing for the solution of its own hidden manifestaton in the world.[8]

On tracing the movement of life with time he finds that life has taken three appearances:

  • Material- a submerged consciousness concealed in its action and losing itself in the form.
  • Vital- an emerging consciousness, a consciousness half delivered out of its original imprisonment which has become of vital craving and satisfaction or repulsion.
  • Mental- an emerged consciousness reflecting fact of life in a mental sense, perceptive & ideative. It modifies the internal and attempts to modify conformably the external existence of the being .[9]


Falsehood, Error & Evil[edit]

Aurbindo finds that as humans are accustomed to respond to certain vibrations more than other, this develops into one's desire, pain, feelings (all being a set of habits). This set of habits being crystalised would become one's personality. This is actually the Universal nature depositing certain habits of movement, personality, character, faculties, dispositions, tendencies in humans which is normally believed to be "self". The appearance of stable personality is given by constant repetition and recurrence of the same vibrations and formations. Thus this being would be hung in between a hierarchy of matter and spirit a gradation of consciousness.[10]

Difficulty of the life & concept of Ignorance[edit]

Aurobindo takes the view that the fundamental cause of phenomenon of Falsehood, error and evil is due to Ignorance, Ignorance being a self-limiting knowledge arose due to exclusive concentration in a single field, he finds humans notion of good, bad & evil are uncertain and relative, what would be held truth in one place or time is held as error at a different place and time, what was held good at one place would be regarded evil at another place & sometimes the notion of good producing evil (vis-a-vie) are all due to mixing up of knowledge and ignorance.[11]

Man being a mental being, Aurobindo finds the crux of the current human life problem is due to mainly three difficulites faced by him

  • Partial Self-awareness- Aurobindo finds that man is only aware of a small part about himself, he is aware of surface mentality, surface physical being, his surface life and is not aware of the larger and more potent his subconscious mind and hidden life impulses. He refers this phenomenon to be of same analogy of many ancient texts where the texts proclaims that the man does not have a free will but is governed by his own nature and since this governing nature is itself an inverse movement leading to apparent denial of himself, which is termed as Maya (illusion) of the world.[12] Aurobindo also informs that total awareness cannot be achieved by the plunging deeper into the subconscious but by finding the ONE who is seated inside and also rising to higher conscious knowledge which would know the truth behind the Maya (illusion) appearances and keeps ready for us the affirmation towards which the appearances are working.[13]
  • Partial awareness of other beings - He finds that man through his inferences, theories, observations creates a rough mental construction of his fellow beings and has an understanding created by a mental knowledge, a knowledge of surface existence therefore imperfect in itself and is usually subjected to denial & frustration. He suggests a conscious unity is the key & is only possible by entering into that in which all are one with them. But this unity he finds would not be possible to achieve at current poise of mind, life and body but from a superior mind which he terms as a Supermind could be able to command unity in diversity.[14]
  • A division between Force and consciousness in evolution - Aurobindo finds that the process of evolution itself successively created three different formations of Matter, life & mind, each with its own law of working, often criss-crossing each other. Life which usually is in war with the body and always tries to satisfy its impulses and desires which currently the body may not have capacity to do. The mind is at war with both, sometimes helping life against the body and sometimes restrains the vital urge and seeks to protect the corporeal frame(body) form life's desires, passions and overdriving energies. life is also found enslaved by activities of mind where it tries to utilize it for its emotional and aesthetic aims. Aurobindo finds that this war between factors has been tried to be resolved by materialist by submitting onself to the mortality of our being and in the opposite way the ascetics or the religionists (buddhists) have tried to reject earthly life to find an easier and happier field of existence.

But he suggests that neither of both ways are the right solution but a true solution may lie in finding the principle beyond mind of which immortality would be the law and in conquering by it the moratality of our existence.[15]

Existing concepts and solutions[edit]

Types of being ("concentric" divisions)[edit]

The Outer Being[edit]

The Outer Being refers to the superficial and limited physical, vital and mental surface existence which characterises our everyday consciousness and experience. Integral Yoga involves going beyond this surface consciousness to the larger life of the Inner Being, which is more open to spiritual realisation.

The Inner Being[edit]

The Inner Being includes the inner realms or aspects of the physical, vital and mental being, which here have a larger, subtler, freer consciousness than that of the everyday consciousness, and its realisation is essential for any higher spiritual realisation.

Psychic Being[edit]

In Integral Yoga the goal is to move inward and discover the Psychic Being, which then can bring about a transformation of the outer nature. This transformation of the outer being or ego by the Psychic is called Psychicisation; it is one of the three necessary stages, called the Triple transformation, in the realisation of the Supramental consciousness. This Psychic transformation is the decisive movement that enables a never-ending progress in life through the power of connecting to one's inner spirit or Divine Essence.

Triple Transformation[edit]


The other major topic in Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga is the Triple transformation. This refers to the process through which reality is transformed into the divine. This is described in The Life Divine part 2, ch.25, and Letters on Yoga part 4, section 1.

The Triple Transformation refers to the two-fold movement of spiritual transformation - the inward pychicisation by which the sadhak gets in contact with the inner divine principle or Psychic Being, and the spiritual transformation or spiritualisation.

The former represents the Inner Guide which is realised through the Heart, the latter can be compared to the traditional concept of Vedantic, Buddhist and popular guru Enlightenment and the descriptions of the Causal and Ultimate stages of spiritual development in the evolutionary philosophy of the integral thinker Ken Wilber.

For Sri Aurobindo, both these stages are equally necessary and important, as both serve as necessary prerequisites for the third and by far the most difficult element of change in the triple transformation, the Supramentalisation of the entire being.

...One must first acquire an inner Yogic consciousness and replace by it our ordinary view of things, natural movements, motives of life; one must revolutionise the whole present build of our being. Next, we have to go still deeper, discover our veiled psychic entity and in its light and under its government psychicise our inner and outer parts, turn mind-nature, life-nature, body-nature and all our mental, vital, physical action and states and movements into a conscious instrumentation of the soul. Afterwards or concurrently we have to spiritualise the being in its entirety by a descent of a divine Light, Force, Purity, Knowledge, freedom and wideness. It is necessary to break down the limits of the personal mind, life and physicality, dissolve the ego, enter into the cosmic consciousness, realise the self, acquire a spiritualised and universalised mind and heart, life-force, physical consciousness. Then only the passage into the supramental consciousness begins to become possible, and even then there is a difficult ascent to make each stage of which is a separate arduous achievement.

— Sri Aurobindo[16]


Psychicisation is one of the most essential stages of the integral yoga. As described in The Life Divine (book II - chapter 25) it refers to a spiritual movement inward, so that one realises the psychic being - the psychic personality or Divine Soul - in the core of one's being, and enable this to transform the outer being, as well as serve as a spiritual Guide in the yoga.

It is thanks to this Psychic transformation that the sadhak can avoid the pitfalls of the spiritual path, such as the intermediate zone.

The three central spiritual methods here are Consecration, Moving to the Depths (Concentration), and Surrender. Consecration is to open to the Force before engaging in an activity. Moving to the Depths (or Concentration) is a movement away from the surface existence to a deeper existence within. Surrender means offering all one's work, one's life to the Divine Force and Intent.[17][18] In connecting with the evolving divine soul within, the sadhak moves away from ego, ignorance, finiteness, and the limitations of the outer being

Psychicisation can serve as a prequel to spiritualisation (equivalent to "Enlightenment"), although they do not have to follow any sort of order. However, both the psychic and the spiritual transformation are equally necessary for the final stage of Supramental transformation.


As a result of the Psychic transformation, light, peace, power is drawn into and descends into the body, transforming all of its parts — physical, vital, and mental. This is the Spiritual transformation, or Spiritualisation, which refers to the bringing down of the larger spiritual consciousness or spiritual transformation.

The spiritual transformation in itself however is not sufficient to avoid pitfalls of the spiritual path, or bring about Supramentalisation. For that, the psychic transformation is needed as well.


Supramentalisation is the ultimate stage in the integral yoga. It refers to the bringing down of the Supramental consciousness, and the resulting transformation of the entire being.

The supramental transformation is the final stage in the integral yoga, enabling the birth of a new individual fully formed by the supramental power. Such individuals would be the forerunners of a new truth-consciousness based supra-humanity. All aspects of division and ignorance of consciousness at the vital and mental levels would be overcome, replaced with a unity of consciousness at every plane, and even the physical body transformed and divinised. A new supramental species would then emerge, living a supramental, gnostic, divine life on earth.[19]

The goal of integral yoga[edit]

In integral yoga, the goal is not only a transcendent liberation, nirvana, or moksha as in other spiritual paths, but also, in addition to that, the realisation of the Divine in the physical world as well. All of which is part of the same process of integral realisation.

An integral method and an integral result. First, an integral realisation of Divine Being; not only a realisation of the One in its indistinguishable unity, but also in its multitude of aspects which are also necessary to the complete knowledge of it by the relative consciousness; not only realisation of unity in the Self, but of unity in the infinite diversity of activities, worlds and creatures.

Therefore, also, an integral liberation. Not only the freedom born of unbroken contact of the individual being in all its parts with the Divine, sayujyamukti, by which it becomes free even in its separation, even in the duality; not only the salokyalmukti by which the whole conscious existence dwells in the same status of being as the Divine, in the state of Sachchidananda; but also the acquisition of the divine nature by the transformation of this lower being into the human image of the divine, sadharmyamukti, and the complete and final release of all, the liberation of the consciousness from the transitory mould of the ego and its unification with the One Being, universal both in the world and the individual and transcendentally one both in the world and beyond all universe.

— Sri Aurobindo[20]


"The movement of nature is twofold: divine and undivine. The distinction is only for practical purposes since there is nothing that is not divine. The undivine nature, that which we are and must remain so long as the faith in us is not changed, acts through limitation and ignorance and culminates in the life of the ego; but the divine nature acts by unification and knowledge, and culminates in life divine. The passage from the lower to the higher may effect itself by the transformation of the lower and its elevation to the higher nature. It is this that must be the aim of an integral yoga."
-- The Synthesis of Yoga
What is the integral yoga?
It is a way of complete God-realisation, a complete Self-realisation, a complete fulfillment of our being and consciousness, a complete transformation of our nature - and this implies a complete perfection of life here and not only a return to an eternal perfection elsewhere
-- Sri Aurobindo Archives and Research, Dec 1982, p.197
"The method we have to pursue, then, is to put our whole conscious being into contact with the divine and to call him in to transform our entire being into his, so that in a sense god himself, the real person in us, becomes the sadhaka of the sadhana as well as the master of the yoga by whom the lower personality is used. "
-- The Synthesis of Yoga
All life is a Yoga of Nature seeking to manifest God within itself. Yoga marks the stage at which this effort becomes capable of self-awareness and therefore of right completion in the individual. It is a gathering up and concentration of the movements dispersed and loosely combined in the lower evolution."
-- The Synthesis of Yoga p.47
The first word of the supramental Yoga is surrender; its last word also is surrender. It is by a will to give oneself to the eternal Divine, for lifting into the divine consciousness, for perfection, for transformation, that the Yoga begins; it is in the entire giving that it culminates; for it is only when the self-giving is complete that there comes the finality of the Yoga, the entire taking up into the supramental Divine, the perfection of the being, the transformation of the nature."
- Sri Aurobindo 'Seven drafts on Supramental Yoga [for "The Path"] from 1928-1929 to late 1930s as found on 'Bernard's Site for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother'
... to do the integral yoga one must first resolve to surrender entirely to the Divine, there is no other way, this is the way. But after that one must have the five psychological virtues, five psychological perfections and we say that the perfections are
1.Sincerity or Transparency
2.Faith or Trust (Trust in the Divine)
3.Devotion or Gratitude
4.Courage or Inspiration
5.Endurance or Perseverance
The Mother, Collected Works of the Mother Vol.8 p.42

References of Literary works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Aurobindo (1996), p. 65
  2. ^ satprem (1998), p. 65
  3. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 1107
  4. ^ Aurobindo (1996), p. 282
  5. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 97
  6. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 245
  7. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 254-255
  8. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 220
  9. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 221
  10. ^ Aurobindo (1996), p. 210
  11. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 622
  12. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 225
  13. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 226
  14. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 227
  15. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 228
  16. ^ Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, pp.281-2
  17. ^ Synthesis of Yoga Part I ch. II-III
  18. ^ Letters on Yoga vol. II pp.585ff (3rd ed.)
  19. ^ The Life Divine book II ch.27-28
  20. ^ The Synthesis of Yoga, pp.47-48


  • Aurobindo, Sri (1939), The life Divine, Sri Aurobindo Ashram press, ISBN 978-81-7058-844-3 
  • Aurobindo, Sri (1996), The synthesis of Yoga, Lotus light publication, ISBN 0-941524-65-5 
  • Satprem (1998), Mothers Agenda 1969 10, Institut de Recherches Evolutives, ISBN 8185137366 
  • Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, fifth edition, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1999
  • ----- Letters on Yoga, Volumes 22, 23, and 24, 1972, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
  • Anon. The integral yoga; Sri Aurobindo's Teaching and Method of Practice, 1993 Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
  • Anon. Glossary to the Record of Yoga
  • Tulsidas Chatterjee, Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga, Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 1970
  • Morwenna Donnelly, Founding the Life Divine: An Introduction to the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo - Hawthorn Books, 1956
  • Madhav Pundalik Pandit, Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga, Lotus Press 1987 ISBN 0-941524-25-6
  • ----- Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga Lotus Press 1992 ISBN 0-941524-74-4