Who is Sri Aurobindo?

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was a modern Indian yogi who founded the form of yoga known as Integral Yoga, a theory and practice of consciousness (yoga darshana) aiming at the evolution of humans into a race of cosmic and transcendental beings, who he termed “supramental beings.” Apart from his own practice, he (writing in English) is today recognized as one of the early contributors to the modern academic fields of consciousness studies and transpersonal psychology. In these fields, he is known for introducing neologisms such as psychic being, overmind, and supermind. 

Sri Aurobindo’s life can be seen in terms of four phases, which succeeded each other with overlaps – the student-scholar-academic, the nationalist leader, the yogi, and the guru. The first phase can be periodized from 1880 to 1904. It spanned a schooling at St. Paul’s School, London and  King’s College, Cambridge, studying the Classics while versing himself in modern European literatures and languages. This education prepared him as a modern subject, who had internalized the post-Enlightenment values of social critique and creative freedom. This phase continued in Baroda (1893-1906) where he delved into Sanskrit literature and began learning Indian vernaculars, including his mother tongue, Bengali. Here he also served as a professor of French and the Vice Principal of Baroda College. Though this was the principal period during which Sri Aurobindo pursued scholarship, he kept himself informed of world developments in creative culture throughout his life. He also wrote scholarly treatises on philosophy, psychology, social and political studies, and literature; he was also a poet. 

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