Steps To Learning
first book of his poetry published in 1898 was
Songs To Myrtilla. His literary interests made him shift his
focus to the study of Ramayana and Mahabharata. He took painstaking efforts
to prove the authorship of Mahabharata and took out passages that pointed
to Vyasa. He translated Vikramorvashi and Meghaduta
into English verse.
reading the Gita he saw that most of the interpretations missed the point
Aurobindo who had hardly shown interest in religion became an advocate of Hinduism shunning western culture and materialism. Vedanta according to him was the fount of our philosophies, the bedrock of our religions, the kernel of our thought, the explanation of our ethics and society, the summary of our civilization, the rivet of our nationality.
He easily dealt with the likes of Max-Muller who implied that only those passages that could be grasped by the western mind in the Upanishads could be considered valid. It was the orthodox schools in India that were a bigger challenge to him who reduced the Upanishads to one set or the other, each with their own interpretation.
The Advaita philosophy was largely accepted by Aurobindo, but he noticed
that even that had departed from plain sense of texts. This led him to
say that a student must refuse to follow even Shankara.. when his
interpretation involves ... so wide a departure from the recognized meaning
of words. As his understanding of the Vedas grew he realized that
Shankaras interpretation was not in perfect accord with the Upanishads
or the Gita which did not insist on the unreality of the world, nor did
the demand inaction.
philosophy does not merely speak of intellectual understanding but speaks
of spiritual experiences for those who seek it. Experience leads to realization
of the truths. In 1908 he started an English newspaper called Karmayogin
in which were printed articles on Vedanta, poetry,translations of the
Upanishads, studies of hypnosis, painting. He also started a Bengali weekly,
Dharma whose articles he wrote himself. He managed to all
this from a Yogic state as he stated creative energy
used to run down my hand while writing.
Aurobindo believed in Sanatana Dharma ( eternal religion)and Karmayoga (Yoga of Action). The task we set before ourselves ismoral and spiritual. We aim not at the alteration of a form of Government but at the building up of a nation.. We shall devote ourselves not to politics alone, or theology or literature, or science but to all these in one entity the dharma, which is universal, and to make yoga the ideal.. by which she will get the strength to realize her freedom, unity and greatness.
Right through his political career, Aurobindo was practicing yoga and pranayama. As he himself observes, his was a side-door entry into the spiritual life. Inspite of having had a number of spiritual experiences between 1893 and 1903, he did not immediately embrace such a life. He realized though that he might be able to use the spiritual power which was one of the results of Yoga to help carry out his political program. He began his days with pranayama. The results were great fluency in writing, improved health, and a general feeling of lightness.
It was towards the end of 1907 that he met Sri Vishnu Bhaskar Lele a Yogin through his brother. He asked for help saying that he would like to practice Yoga to obtain spiritual strength to work better. These were the instructions given to him by Sri Lele. "Sit in meditation, but do not think, look only at your mind; you will see thoughts coming in it; before they can enter throw these away from your mind till your mind is capable of entire silence."