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Science, Culture and Integral Yoga – Human Unity and the Illusion of Human Progress: 100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution (Introduction)  

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Human Unity and the Illusion of Human Progress: 100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution (Introduction)


As the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origins of Species take place this year, it is easy to overlook the fact that 2009 also marks the 100th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s first major text on evolution and consciousness. In Process and Evolution and Yoga and Human Evolution (1909) Sri Aurobindo begins to comprehensively articulate his vision of human evolution. Just as Darwin’s book became the foundation for a science of evolution, what has been called evolutionary spirituality can be traced back to Sri Aurobindo’s work. Many are acknowleding this bi-centennial year of Darwin’s birth with a reassessment of his work in light of what we now know about evolution it therefore, also seems to be a good time to reassess Sri Aurobindo’s vision of human evolution in terms of our contemporary understanding of the phenomena……

Even though his view of history is essentially cyclic he starts his consideration of evolution by writing in Yoga and Human Evolution (1909) the following:

“Whether we take the modern scientific or the ancient Hindu standpoint the progress of humanity is a fact” (Aurobindo)

However, by the early1940s when he is revising the last chapters of The Life Divine he writes:

“the idea of human progress itself is very probably an illusion, for there is no sign that man, once emerged from the animal stage, has radically progressed during his race-history; at most he has advanced in knowledge of the physical world, in Science, in the handling of his surroundings, in his purely external and utilitarian use of the secret laws of Nature “ (Aurobindo 1949 p832)….

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Towards the Intermediate Race—the Supramental Change is a Thing Decreed


Narad’s Arrival at Madra by RY Deshpande is a book based on the opening passage of 81 lines of the Book of Fate of Savitri. It has, inter alia, aspects of this evolutionary creation of ours advancing towards what Sri Aurobindo envisaged as the supramental manifestation in plenitudes of the transcendental reality…


Chakras is a great beginning but in the veritable Yoga of Transformation what is necessary is that the two Chakras below the body and the three above have to materialise and become operative. This is what the Mother was told long ago by her occultist teacher Théon, and it was her experience also. For these Chakras to come into operation it is necessary to do another type of occult-spiritual yoga-tapasya. It is only then that the physical can respond to the working of the higher consciousness-force. A new body is necessary for this, a body that must emerge out of the Yajna of the Shakti. In it must be kindled the golden flame invoking the rush of the divine existence-substance as the basis of life in truth-conscient delight of the manifesting Spirit.


But how exactly the new body will be made, that cannot be said or disclosed in the beginning. This however became the main thrust of the Mother’s yoga-tapasya during the last fifteen years or so of her work. The Mantra-japa she discovered was one possible method to achieve this. That was an unexplored technique. The Mother was concerned with the almighty powers that are shut in the body’s cells. She awoke them. Not only that. The cells started joyously vibrating and opening out more and more in the aspiration for the Divine. This was something new.

Personal Yoga – Sri Aurobindo’s Description of the Yoga
Being new to this yoga, I notice my mind is still looking for a particular “methodology” for it, rather than simply surrendering to the process of it’s force in action. I came across this description of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga which is one of the more succinct I’ve read.

from The Integral Yoga
Sri Aurbindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice

Selected Letters of Sri Aurobindo

Pg. 28 – The Yoga of the Gita

“. . .It is not a fact that the Gita gives the whole base of Sri Aurobindo’s message; for the Gita seems to admit the cessation of birth in the world as the ultimate aim or at least the ultimate culmination of yoga; it does not bring forward the idea of spiritual evolution or the idea of the higher planes and the supramental Truth-Consciousness and the bringing down of that consciousness as the means of the complete transformation of earthly life.

    The idea of the supermind, the Truth-Consciousness is there in the Rig Veda according to Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation and in one or two passages of the Upanishads, but in the Upanishads it is there only in seed in the conception of the being of knowledge, vijnanamaja purusa, exceeding the mental, vital and physical being; in the Rig Veda the idea is there but in principle only, it is not developed and even the principle of it has disappeared from the Hindu tradition.

    It is these things among others that constitute the novelty of Sri Aurobindo’s message as compared with the Hindu tradition – the idea that the world is not either a creation of Maya or only a play, lila, of the Divine, or a cycle of births in the ignorance from which we have to escape, but a field of manifestation in which there is a progressive evolution of the soul and the nature in Matter and from Matter through Life and Mind to what is beyond Mind till it reaches the complete revelation of Sachchidananda in life. It is this that is the basis of the yoga and gives a new sense to life.


Our yoga is not identical with the yoga of the Gita although it contains all that is essential in the Gita’s yoga. In our yoga we begin with the idea, the will, the aspiration of the complete surrender; but at the same time we have to reject the lower nature, deliver our consciousness from it, deliver the self involved in the lower nature by the self rising to freedom in the higher nature. If we do not do this double movement, we are in danger of making a tamasic and therefore unreal surrender, making no effort, no tapas and therefore no progress; or else we may make a rajasic surrender not to the Divine but to some self-made false idea or image of the Divine which masks our rajasic ego or something still worse.

    The Gita does not speak expressly of the Divine Mother; it speaks always of surrender to the Purushottama – it mentions her only as the Para Prakriti who become the Jiva, that is, who manifests the Divine in the multiplicity and through whom all these worlds are created by the Supreme and he himself descends as the Avatar. The Gita follows the Vedantic tradition which leans entirely on the Ishwara aspect of the Divine and speaks little of the Divine Mother because its object is to draw back from wrold-nature and arrive at the supreme realisation beyond it; the Tantric tradition leans on the Shakti or Ishwari aspect and makes all depend on the Divine Mother because its object is to possess and dominate the world-nature and arrive at the supreme realisation through it. This yoga insists on both the aspects; the surrender to the Divine Mother is essential, for without it there is no fulfillment of the object of the yoga.”



Keywords:  SriAurobindo, Letters

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    Sri Aurobindo

    A Contemporary Reader

    Edited by Sachidananda Mohanty

    List Price: $115.00

    Add to Cart

    • ISBN: 978-0-415-46093-4
    • Binding: Hardback
    • Published by: Routledge India
    • Publication Date: 28/03/2008
    • Pages: 180


    About the Book

    This book compiles some of the finest writings of Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950) — the nationalist, visionary, poet-philosopher. It reflects the range, depth and outreach of the moral, intellectual and spiritual vision of this versatile and multifaceted genius. It aims at providing, at one place, access to the key concepts, tenets, and the spirit of the extraordinary range of texts authored by him.

    Although concretely grounded in contemporary times — with its location in a specific socio-cultural matrix — this work projects a body of writings that is certain to have lasting value. In particular, the compilation brings forth Sri Aurobindo’s social vision and his role as a cultural critic: his views on ethnicity, his exposition of the key role language plays in the formation of communitarian identities, his crucial understanding of self-determination which has incidentally become an important aspect of human rights discourse today.

    Situating the writings in a specific intellectual, spiritual and historical context, this collection will enable readers to appreciate the overall vision of Sri Aurobindo, in what can be conceived as a caravan of history of ideas in terms of a common heritage of humankind, and recent developments in theory and disciplinary practice, especially those pertaining to consciousness and future studies.

    Other StatesOrissa     Correspondent   

    Centre, State to ban biography on Aurobindo  

    CUTTACK: The State Government and Central government on Wednesday told the High Court that they would take immediate steps to ban the publication and circulation of the controversial book titled ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ written by US writer Peter Heehs.

    In their respective counter affidavits filed in HC, the State and the Union governments admitted that the biography contains defamatory and perverse comments on Sri Aurobindo’s character, life, writings and thoughts, which are bound to affect the sentiments of lakhs of the spiritual leader’s followers.

    The affidavits came in the wake of a PIL filed in HC by a Balasore-based woman Gitanjali Bhattacharya seeking ban on the publication and circulation of the book in India. The HC after admitting the petition had asked the governments to file counters.

    The Orissa Government in its affidavit has mentioned that a crime branch enquiry was ordered to go through the contents of the book and find whether the book had defamatory comments about the popular spiritual leader.

    “The police found the book blasphemous”, the State Government affidavit said. The book however, has not been published in India although; the Penguin Books had decided to publish the same in November 2008.

    Online edition of India’s National Newspaper Thursday, Mar 05, 2009 ePaper | Mobile/PDA Version | The Hindu : Other States / Orissa News : Centre, State to ban

    Tusar N. Mohapatra

    Director, Savitri Era Learning Forum
    SRA-102-C, Shipra Riviera, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad - 201014 (UP) India + 91 96500-65636
    Aadhaar No. 3628 2075 7337
    SELF posits a model of counselling and communicative action as an instrument in order to stimulate the public sphere. The model aims at supplementing the individual’s struggle for a successful social adjustment with more aspirational inputs so as to help one take an informed and balanced attitude towards life as well as society.
    Savitri Era of those who adore,
    Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

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