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35 Lesser-known Facts About Sri Aurobindo, A Freedom Fighter Turned Yogi

Published on 14 December, 2015 at 12:00 pm By

Sri Aurobindo is one of the greatest scholars, spiritual gurus and national leaders of our country. We today enlighten you about this great man, the legend called Sri Aurobindo.


People all over the world are following the mystical path shown by him and are living fulfilling lives. Here’s more about his life and ideals:


1. Shri Aurobindo was born on 15 August, 1872 in Kolkata. His father was a surgeon, and a big fan of the British way of living.

His date of birth coincides with the date given in the Feast of Assumption of the Catholics, who believe that the last avatar of the Virgin Mary will be born on 15 August.

And in fact, Aurobindo has been claimed by many as the last avatar of Virgin Mary.


2. He was sent to boarding school in Loreto House, Darjeeling along with his other siblings in order to learn the ways of the British.


3. Sri Aurobindo gets his inclination towards evolution and social reforms from his great grandfather, who had participated in the Brahmo Samaj Bhakti movement.


Young Aurobindo grew up listening to stories of Bengal Renaissance and the reform movement which considered all men and women equal. He learnt the valuable lesson of standing up against discrimination based on caste from his family.


4. At the tender age of seven, he was sent to England and did not return for another fourteen years.

He did his schooling from St. Paul’s School.


5. And if you thought he was having a good time in London, you will be shocked at what you read next.

In his own words, he had described that in a whole year he had only had two slices of bread with butter, and a cup of tea in the morning; and in the evening a sausage for dinner. That’s how he spent the bitter cold in London.


6. But despite the hardships, he made books his best friends and went on to get a degree from the King’s College in Cambridge.

He was also awarded the Butterworth Prize for literature and the Bedford Prize for history.


7. At his father’s insistence, he had also cleared the Indian Civil Service exam.


8. Sri Aurobindo returned to India in 1893 to work for the royal family of Baroda.

He then realized that he might have mastered seven foreign languages, but he knew very little of his own Indian culture.


Aurobindo with Baroda College students, 1906 aurobindo


9. Only when he spent twelve years as a teacher and secretary to the Maharaja of Gaekwad did he realize the damage which the British had caused to the country.


10. Soon, he started writing for the ‘Indu Prakash’, a weekly magazine which was published from Bombay; he also got in touch with other groups active in Bengal.

It is interesting to note that when he was writing these pieces he was merely twenty-one years old.

And the editors got so scared that they urged him to switch writing to cultural topics rather than politics. This insistence made him lose interest and he stopped writing.


11. After moving to Kolkata in 1906, he jumped into the Non-Cooperation Movement and resistance against the British rule.

He was more involved in the revolutionary activities that were happening secretly. He had secretly joined a society called ‘Lotus and Dagger’ where the members took an oath of secrecy. He also learnt Bengali for it.


12. It was under the leadership and inspiration of Sri Aurobindo that the youth club Anushilan Samiti was formed besides many others.

Anushilan Samiti was one of the first youth clubs of India, formed to protest against imperial atrocities of the British.


13. He even participated in the annual session of the Indian National Congress held in 1906.

He was an integral part of the team which had four objectives for the national movement – Swadesh, Swaraj, national education and boycott.


14. But he was not one to bow down under pressure, so when the Congress split in 1907, he chose to stick with the extremists headed by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.


Nationalist conference in Surat, December 1907. Aurobindo, the conference president, sitting at the table; Bal Gangadhar Tilak addressing the gathering. aurosociety


15. He had also put his writing skills and experience to good use by starting a newspaper called ‘Bande Mataram’ in 1907.


16. He had come into the eyes of British by now and was arrested in connection with the Alipore bomb case.

But no charges could be proven; he was released after a year of solitary confinement.


An image as captured while he was taken prisoner in Alipore aurosociety


17. Once out of jail in 1909, he started two new publications – ‘Karmayogin’ in English and ‘Dharma’ in Bengali.

But the British were still wary of him, and his writing. To the extent that Lord Minto said –

“I can only repeat … that he is the most dangerous man we now have to reckon with.”


18. They say that when news of his arrest warrants reached him, people around him panicked and asked him to flee.

But he said that a divine voice inside him asked him to leave for Chandernagore immediately.


19. Shri Aurobindo went straight to the banks of the Ganga, and sailed off in a boat to Pondicherry.

Later he recalled –

“I could not question. It was Sri Krishna’s adesh. I had to obey. Later I found it was for the Ashram, for the Yogic work.”


Aurobindo in Pondicherry, circa 1915 aurobindo


20. In another incident, he was once traveling with the Maharaja Hari Singh in Kashmir. On the hills of Shankaracharya he had a divine revelation – that the spiritual world is infinite.

He said –

“One stands upon a mountain ridge and glimpses or mentally feels a wideness, a pervasiveness, a nameless Vast in Nature; then suddenly there comes the touch, a revelation, a flooding, the mental loses itself in the spiritual, one bears the first invasion of the Infinite.”


21. A life-saving experience of his brother Barin made him comprehend the power of yoga.

Once when his brother fell very ill, a Naga sanyasi came from nowhere and gave him a cup of water cut into four with a knife. Next day his brother was fully cured.

That was his first encounter with Yoga and he said-

“I thought that a yoga which requires me to give up the world was not for me. I had to liberate my country. I took it up seriously when I learnt that the same Tapasya which one does to get away from the world can be turned to action. I learnt that Yoga gives power and I thought why should I not get the power and use it to liberate my country?”


22. Besides these instances, his solitary confinement in Alipore Jail did wonders for him; he had the realization that the freedom movement was not his destiny.

He realized that he had a bigger purpose in life, which was closely connected to the philosophical and mystical side of life.


Alipore jail, where he spent time in solitary confinement themotherindia


23. Sri Aurobindo said he had actually felt the voice of Swami Vivekananda speaking to him in the jail in Kolkata urging him to find his true purpose in life.


Swami Vivekananda through Shri Aurobindo vamanan81


24. When Sri Aurobindo reached Pondicherry, he was thirty-eight years old. The revolutionaries there greeted him as if they knew all along that he was coming.

They had in fact heard of a prophecy that a yogi from the north will come and teach them Poorna Yoga.


25. Sri Aurobindo practiced yoga for four years continuously, in seclusion. He practiced the form which we popularly known as ‘Internal Yoga’.

He then proposed the great importance of spiritualism for the transformation of humans into divine entities.


26. He took the decision to settle in Pondicherry and spend the rest of his life pursuing philosophical and spiritual pursuits.

He started spreading his message through a monthly magazine called ‘Arya’.


27. Aurobindo established the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1926.

Once the ashram was established, he started using Sri in front of his name, which means ‘sacred’ in Sanskrit. The ashram is in Pondicherry, and is today a major center for spiritualism and meditation in India.

Like any other divine light, he attracted followers and the numbers kept growing.


During the time of darshan on important days such as birth anniversary of Aurobindo sriaurobindoashram


28. As is obvious, Sri Aurobindo was an established writer and besides spirituality, he also wrote on the Vedas, the secret of the Vedas and also about the human cycle.



29. Sri Aurobindo was also an accomplished poet, and in 1930 his poetry saw a new realm when he wrote ‘Savitri’.

This poem has 24,000 lines in total!


30. Not many of us know that he was also nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1950 and Nobel Prize for Literature in 1943.

We are forever indebted to him for his contributions in the field of philosophical literature, poetry and spiritualism.


31. Shri Aurobindo was married once to Mrinalini in 1901.

She passed way in 1918 when the influenza epidemic was at its height. She could not join him in Pondicherry.


32. Mirraw Richard was a French national who helped him in establishing the ashram in 1914.

She had arrived with her husband and met Sri Aurobindo. All her life she had felt a connection with a person inside her; she called this person Krishna.

When she met Sri Aurobindo, she instantly recognized him as the Krishna inside her.


33. She was his spiritual collaborator; overall management of the ashram was directly her responsibility.


In 1926, Mirraw Richard became popular by the name ‘Mother‘, and was considered no less to Sri Aurobindo in term of knowledge and wisdom.

So intense was her skill for meditation and yoga that once she mastered it, they say that instead of her age of 42 she started looking like an 18-year-old girl.


34. Mother Mirraw Richard describes Sri Aurobindo the best:

“What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world’s history is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme.”


35. Sri Aurobindo moved on to the immortal world on 5 December, 1950.

His body was kept on display for four days and later given a samadhi on 9 December, 1950. People, who had the opportunity to see him during those days observed that the body had not decomposed.


There is no better way to close this article than with the message which Mother had engraved on his samadhi.


Sri Aurobindo left behind a huge legacy, for anybody who wants to find a real purpose in life and become a true divine entity.




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