Category Archives: Books

Bhagavad-Gita online

The Sri Aurobindo Society in collaboration with the Vande Mataram library has created a website on the Bhagavad Gita.  It features audio rendition of each verse, transliteration, grammatical analysis of each Sanskrit word, a dictionary coupled with extensive cross-referencing.  To top it all, they have also included Sri Aurobindo’s commentary on the text.

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A book on Sri Aurobindo in Arabic

Zackaria Moursi, whose spiritual journey was covered in a an earlier blog post “How an Egyptian discovered Sri Aurobindo” has just published a bilingual book featuring quotes from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.   The book is listed on Amazon and can also be viewed on his website.

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How does the Self-realized person speak? (Gita 2:54)

While reading the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, have you ever wondered from what level of consciousness they spoke?  Was their brain constantly tingling with luminous revelations as they answered questions?  Were subtle images of the past or future dancing before their eyes when they looked at people?  There are recorded conversations where Sri Aurobindo admits to not knowing certain worldly matters, implying that either omniscience is not what it is projected to be or that he didn’t care to use his occult powers to investigate mundane matters (see Notes below)

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Sravana Manana and Nidhidhyasana

Those who practice the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have developed the habit of reading their books either alone or during study circles.  They claim that this activity is a meditation in itself which naturally awakens the wisdom needed to respond to the multifarious challenges of life.  The Mother herself recommended that disciples read Sri Aurobindo’s books with a blank mind without discussing or explaining the writings to each other.  Does this work?

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The Milinda-Panha

These are some excerpts from the Milinda Panha, a Pali work dating to about the 100 B.C. The Milinda Panha is a dialogue between a Buddhist monk named Nàgasena and the Greek King Milinda(Melander), who ruled over Bactria(modern-day Afghanistan).  The king raised a number of questions on the philosophy, psychology, and ethics of Buddhism, as well contradictions present in the life of the Buddha.

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Parallels between Buddha and Jesus

Dec 30, 1896.  Swami Vivekananda was fast asleep on the ship which was taking him back to India after a whirlwind tour of Europe and America when he had a vivid dream.  An old and bearded man appeared before him, saying, “Observe well this place that I show to you. You are now in the island of Crete. This is the land in which Christianity began.”  In support of this origin of Christianity, the speaker gave two words, one of which was Therapeutae, and showed both to be derived direct from Sanskrit roots.  “The proofs are all here,” added the old man, pointing to the ground, “Dig and you will find!”.  The Swami woke, feeling that he had had no common dream, and tumbled out on deck, to take the air. As he did so, he met a ship’s officer, turning in from his watch.

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Sri Aurobindo’s prose style – by Goutam Ghosal

Goutam Ghosal is the Head of the Department of English and Other Modern European Languages at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan (for those who may not know, this was the experimental school founded by Rabindranath Tagore).  His research areas include Sri Aurobindo’s Prose, Poetry and Drama, Tagore’s Poetry and Songs, Shakespeare’s Characters and Poetry from the point of view of Consciousness, Indian Poetry in English (Old and New School), 19th Century British and American Literature.  The following article appeared as chapter nine “Style in the Major Works: Fusion of Myths and Seven Kinds of Style” of Ghosal‘s book Sri Aurobindo’s Prose Style published in 1990.


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History of Yoga – part 2

This article is a continuation of the previous post and covers a few more interesting tidbits from the book “History of Yoga” edited by Satya Prakash Singh.

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The History of Yoga

The fundamental aim of all Yogic methods is the diversion of the Prana (breath) which normally circulates in the Ida and Pingala channels into the central Sushumna channel, as was elucidated in a previous post.  Numerous yogis across the Indian sub-continent over several centuries perfected a multitude of methods to achieve this common goal.  If you ever wanted to read all about it in one place, the “History of Yoga” (editor: Satya Prakash Singh) is for you.  This is a massive work comprising 40 chapters spanning about 900 pages written by 19 subject experts which traces the origins and development of Yoga starting from the Vedas to the modern times.  It is not possible to do justice to such a large comprehensive volume in a short article.  Instead, I will present some interesting tidbits that I gained from the book.

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Introduction to the Upanishads

This is a decent 15-minute video overview of the Upanishads produced by the Dr Sumit Kesarkar. The video below does not cover Sri Aurobindo’s commentary.  To read that, see the page on Upanishads

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The Nachiketa fire sacrifice

It doesn’t matter how great your religion is or how ancient your scriptures are if you will not attempt to independently rediscover the Truths which were discovered by your forerunners.  Much too often, people forget this cardinal dictum and fall into the egoistic trap of boasting of the greatness of their religion without actually living it.  The practice of Yoga provides a pathway for rediscovering the verities recorded in the scriptures such as the Upanishads and Vedas.  This article examines the Nachiketa fire sacrifice as experienced by a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

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The message of the Gita

The Bhagavad Gita is an inspiring scripture which people frequently turn to for guidance and also quote in support of their arguments.  Unfortunately, its aphoristic quality and the backdrop of the war through which its message has been expounded makes it amenable to divergent interpretations. Pacifists tend to be distressed by the justification of war while the warhawks delight in it.  The Gita’s enunciation of multiple spiritual paths provides leeway for commentators to selectively highlight the sections they prefer and ignore the rest of the book.  Ethicists, for instance, may assume that the Gita preaches the performance of duty above everything.  In this article, we examine Sri Aurobindo’s perspective on the Gita.

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Allusions in Savitri – part 2

This article continues a previous article “Allusions in Savitri” in which we discussed some allusions employed by Sri Aurobindo in his epic poem Savitri.   Sri Aurobindo had to evolve a new diction in English to describe his supernatural experiences and towards this end, he occasionally employed images, symbols and phrases from English Romantic poetry.  All allusions discussed herein were discovered by Dr V.K. Gokak(1909-1992), a professor of English and Kannada literature, and have been extracted from his book “Sri Aurobindo – Seer and Poet”[1].

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Allusions in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri

In his epic poem Savitri, Sri Aurobindo sought to convey many of the superconscient experiences that he and the Mother Mirra Alfassa underwent. In order to bring home the touch of the Ineffable to the reader, he employed a number of literary devices as part of the diction, including what are known as “allusions“.  An allusion is a distinct phrase, assumed to be relatively familiar to the discerning reader, which is used in poetry to kindle specific images and symbols in the reader’s mind.  V.K.Gokak, a professor of English and Kannada literature, was able to uncover about 130 allusions to Romantic era poetry in Savitri (not unusual considering that Sri Aurobindo was a Cambridge-educated classics scholar). Gokak has discussed these allusions in his book Sri Aurobindo – Poet and Seer[1].   In this article, we cover a few of allusions that he discovered.

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Similarities between Sumerian Anki and Vedic Agni by Jean-Yves Lung

A previous article examined whether the notion of Kundalini may have existed in ancient Greek and other cultures.  In consonance with that theme, this article by Jean-Yves Lung probes the similarities between the Vedic god Agni and the Sumerian god Enki.   Jean-Yves Lung is a teacher-researcher living in Auroville since 1993.  He teaches French, History and Sanskrit.  This article originally appeared in June 2009 issue of Ritam, a bi-annual journal published by Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educaitional Research (SAIIER)

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Summary of Savitri by Jyotipriya (Dr Judith Tyberg)

This is Jyotipriya’s summary of Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri. Jyotipriya aka Dr Judith Tyberg (1902-1980) was the founder and director of the Sri Aurobindo Center of Los Angeles. Savitri is an epic poem in blank verse of about 24000 lines, which narrates the spiritual journey undertaken by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as part of their Integral Yoga. It details the varied occult worlds they witnessed, the states of consciousness they experienced, and the work of Supramental Transformation that they undertook in their life. Sri Aurobindo has rendered in accessible English verse many of the concepts found scattered across the numerous Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas.

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Developing one’s own spiritual atmosphere (Gita 3:17)

We desire security in life and the manner in which we satisfy this desire alters considerably as we evolve in consciousness.   At the lowest level stands the social individual, who prudently nurtures an extensive network of family and friends to whom he/she can turn to in times of desperation.  In the middle stands the neophyte on the spiritual path, who seeks shelter in a place of meditation – a room where the vibrations have been made serene through devotional music and incense – where he or she can withdraw to contemplate and gain strength during trials and tribulations.

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Hermeneutics: how to read holy scriptures

The interpretation of centuries-old holy scriptures is always a challenge.  Rote learning of scriptures which was undertaken in past centuries due to lack of durable recording material is no longer required; it may improve memory but doesn’t lead us much further.  On the other hand, the academic pursuit of hermeneutics through critical thinking produces dry interpretations (as well as misinterpretations) because it is undertaken by those who without spiritual background.   What then is the method by which one unlocks the true meaning of a holy book?  It is necessarily a maieutic process, to use a Socratic term, that grows through spiritual practice and experience.  When we begin to awaken to the influence of the soul within, it gradually discloses to us the secret of the scripture.   The blossoming intuition which brings us closer to the Divine can also unlock the original intent of the  scripture.   In this post, we collect some observations by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa on how to read and interpret holy scriptures.

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Vidyas in the Upanishads – part 2

The Upanishads feature  koans for contemplation called Vidyas(literally means knowledge).  They are meant to trigger the mind into perceiving yet another facet of the Divine Reality thereby guiding the aspirant into deeper grades of meditation.   In a previous post Vidyas in the Upanishads, five such Vidyas were covered: Bhuma, Prana, Shandilya, Madhu and Vaishvanara.  The book Supreme Knowledge by Swami Brahmananda [3] lists an astounding 101 Vidyas drawn from the Upanishads.  This post discusses a few Vidyas drawn from this book.

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PanchaTattva Dharana : contemplation on the five elements

This post supplements a previous post  Videha Dharana : fixing the mind outside the body, which discussed a method called Videha Dharana as per  Sri Anirvan.   The method is drawn from the Upanishads and can also be called PanchaTattva Dharana or contemplation on the five (pancha) elements (tattva) – namely earth, water, air, fire, ether.   There is a similar technique in the Tantra texts called Bhuta-Shuddhi which is also outlined  here.

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