1926 – 1950 Sri Aurobindo Ashram

1926 – 1950 Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother believe that evolution is primarily a process of the manifestation of higher and higher levels of consciousness upon earth. As life descended into inert matter, and mind into unconscious life, so too higher levels are waiting to descend. The highest of these is the Supermind, and it was the constant endeavour of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to bring it down for a radical and permanent transformation of the earth.

But before the Supermind could descend, other planes had to manifest to build the proper base. On November 24, 1926, a decisive step was taken when the Overmind, the highest of the inner planes before the Supermind, descended into the earth consciousness.

It was a momentous day. It also brought about many outward changes. Sri Aurobindo now installed Mirra as the Mother of his spiritual endeavour, his collaborator and equal, and handed over to her the responsibility of the inner and outer life of the small group of sadhaks (practitioners of Yoga) who had gathered around him. He then withdrew into seclusion, to concentrate on the next step of his Yoga.

This was also the beginning of what has now grown into a spiritual community of nearly 1200 people, known as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The Ashram grew and expanded under the Mother's guidance. Though Sri Aurobindo had withdrawn physically, he continued to guide disciples inwardly and through letters. Day after day, he sat late into the night answering their smallest queries, apparently even the most trivial, the replies pouring out his love and light.

At the same time, he remained in touch with the world events and movements, shaping and moulding them with a purely inner spiritual force and action. When the Second World War broke out, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother came out openly on the side of the Allies because Hitler represented the forces of darkness. He who had fought the British earlier now put his full support and spiritual help behind them for their victory. Though Sri Aurobindo had retired from the political scene, when the Cripps Mission was sent by the British Government, he broke his silence and sent an emissary to ask the Indian leaden to accept their proposals, regarding the freedom and future political structure of India. But the country was not yet ready. Sri Aurobindo knew his efforts would not succeed and yet made the attempt. As he said in his usual impersonal manner:

“Well, I have done a bit of nishkama karma (selfless work).

The passage of time revealed the great truth of what Sri Aurobindo had proposed. The late K. M. Munshi, then a senior cabinet minister in the Indian Government remarked about Sri Aurobindo:

“He saw into the heart of things. ... His perception of the political situation in India was always unerring. When the world war came in 1939 ... it was he of the unerring eye who said that the triumph of England and France was the triumph of the divine forces over the demonic forces. ... He spoke again when Sir Stafford Cripps came with his first proposal. He said, 'India should accept it.' We rejected the advice ... but today we realise that if the first proposal had been accepted, there would have been no partition, no refugees, and no Kashmir problem.”

At the stroke of midnight, on August 15, 1947, the world saw the dawn of India's freedom. On that day Sri Aurobindo spoke of his five dreams:

“Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. ... The first of these dreams was a revolutionary movement which would create a free and united India. India today is free but she has not achieved unity. ... But by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go; unity must and will be achieved, for it is necessary for the greatness of India's future.

Another dream was for the resurgence and liberation of the peoples of Asia and her return to her great role in the progress of human civilisation. Asia has arisen; large parts are now quite free or are at this moment being liberated: its other still subject or partly subject parts are moving through whatever struggles towards freedom....
The third dream was a world-union forming the outer basis of a fairer, brighter and nobler life for all mankind. ... A new spirit of oneness will take hold of the human race.

Another dream, the spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India's spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure....

The final dream was a step in evolution which would raise man to a higher and larger consciousness and begin the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed him since he first began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.”

On December 5, 1950, at the age of 78, Sri Aurobindo left his physical body. His body was kept for darshan for four days and given Samadhi (entombment) on December 9, 1950. Dr P. K. Sanyal, who had attended on Sri Aurobindo during his last illness, was surprised to find that the body had not decomposed. He asked the Mother about this phenomenon. He described what happened:

“Mother and I had a look at Him; how wonderful, how beautiful He looked, with a golden hue. There were no signs of death as science had taught me, no evidence of the slightest discoloration, or decomposition. The Mother whispered, 'As long as the supramental light does not pass away, the body will not show any signs of decomposition, and it may be a day or it may take many more days'. I whispered to Her, 'Where is the light you speak of—can I not see it?' I was then kneeling by Sri Aurobindo's bed, by the Mother's feet. She smiled at me and with infinite compassion put her hand on my head. There He was—with a luminous mantle of bluish golden hue around him.”

But the dreams of Sri Aurobindo continue to become a reality. The world moves forward on the destined path. Sri Aurobindo’s greatest literary work, on which he spent his maximum love and care, was the epic Savitri, and what he wrote there is very well applicable to himself:

“One yet may come armoured, invincible;
His will immobile meets the mobile hour;
The world's blows cannot bend that victor head;
Calm and sure are his steps in the growing Night;
The goal recedes, he hurries not his pace,
He turns not to high voices in the Night.
He asks no aid from the inferior gods;
His eyes are fixed on the immutable aim.”

There is perhaps no better way to end this narration of Sri Aurobindo's life than to quote the message given by the Mother, which is engraved on his Samadhi:

“To Thee who hast been the material envelope of our Master, to Thee our infinite gratitude. Before Thee who hast done so much for us, who hast worked, struggled, suffered, hoped, endured so much, before Thee who hast willed all, attempted all, prepared, achieved all for us, before Thee we bow down and implore that we may never forget, even for a moment, all we owe to Thee.”