THE new sunday express Voices Anand Neelakantan Satya Mohanty Ravi Shankar Shampa Dhar-Kamath ganesh saili Mata Amritanandamayi MAGAZINE Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment august 14 2022 SUNDAY PAGES 12 150 years of Sri Aurobindo Sage for the Age Given the breadths, depths and heights Sri Aurobindo touched with experiential and realised knowledge, his teachings continue to be relevant in the 21st century, guiding individuals, collectives, nations and humanity alike By Gautam Chikermane and Devdip Ganguli A s we celebrate 75 years of India’s independence, another exceptional event calls our attention—the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, the revolutionary turned mystic, the supramental sage. Addressing this coincidence, in a message to All India Radio broadcast on August 15, 1947, he wrote, “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.” This unshakeable faith in his destiny and in his life’s mission was a hallmark of Sri Aurobindo, whether in his striving towards India’s independence, or in his development of the Integral Yoga, which aims at a total transformation of individual and collective life. Born in 1872 in Calcutta, he was sent off at a young age to England by his father, who wanted a British upbringing for his children. Reaching the summits of the British education system at Cambridge University, his path to the British Indian Civil Service was all but certain. But the young Sri Aurobindo chose instead to join the service of the Maharaja of Baroda, preferring to serve under an Indian ruler (at a much lower pay) rather than the British government. Over the next 13 years, even as he rose rapidly through the ranks of the local administration, he would plunge into a deep study of Sanskrit and Bengali, study and translate ancient texts such as the Upanishads, make contact with secret revolutionary societies, and take up the practice of yoga, initially as a means to give him greater inner strength in his fight against the British. The partition of Bengal in 1905 created the right conditions for a more dynamic and direct revolutionary action and, within a few months, Sri Aurobindo shifted to Calcutta and plunged into open political work— writing articles, giving speeches, driving the split in the Congress between the moderates and nationalists, and guiding the actions of a group of radical revolutionaries who did not shy away from the use of violence to demand purna swaraj (complete independence) from the British rule. In 1908, Sri Aurobindo was arrested in the Alipore Bomb case, which would be a decisive moment. Spending a year in the Turn to page 2
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