Sri Aurobindo Ghose was born on the 15th of August 1872 in Calcutta. After the year 1879 however he has been living in England. When he was 21 years old he returned to India and devoted himself to the national resistance against the British colonial rule and became a key figure of the „Nationalist Party“. The British Crown considered him a threat, which eventually led to his arrest.
Alongside his political activities he pursued another passion, which was his interest in yoga. This was triggered by an unusual event, which he witnessed. It is a custom in India to offer food to Sadhus (ascetics, yogis). So, he witnessed how a Sadhu was offered some food, but instead of taking it, the Sadhu asked to be let into the house and his wish was granted. He walked straight through the house into a room, in which an old man was about to die. Without speaking a word, he went to the deathbed of the old man, touched him with his hand and said afterwards, to the amazement of the attending family members, that the man was healed. Then he returned to the front door of the house, took his food without saying a word, and left. The health of the old man improved immediately. A short time after this incident he was fully recovered.
Since then Sri Aurobindo had never let go of the idea to use the power of yoga for the liberation of India from its occupiers. He began practicing yoga intensively and studying the scriptures.
In late 1907 Sri Aurobindo met the yogi Lele (Vishnu Lele Bhaska), who started teaching Sri Aurobindo. This quickly led to his first and very important enlightenment experience. Lele continued to support him in his praxis and his studies, although it became more and more apparent, that their understanding and their objectives concerning the use of yoga were different.
Sri Aurobindo wanted to use yoga as a tool in order to work within the world, whereas Lele wanted Nirvana. Sri Aurobino realized that it does not suffice to free India from the British colonial rule, but that the problems lay in human nature itself. His vision of the liberation of India was transformed into a vision of the liberation of humanity itself.
He used the time of his imprisonment to intensify his yoga practice. Finally he entirely turned away from nationalism. During his detention, he had another experience of enlightenment, whose influence on his life and work became increasingly apparent. What made Sri Aurobindo extraordinary was not that he ingeniously combined Eastern mysticism with occidental knowledge, but that he himself was the living proof of the validity of his philosophies, which, roughly summarized, sound something like this: When a person begins to uncover his divine potential (through integral yoga), there is nothing that cannot be accomplished by his will.
After meeting Aurobindo the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore said that Sri Aurobindo had “searched for the soul and found it”. He described him as a “Hindu seer” and one waits to receive “the word” from him.
For his achievements as a poet the Nobel Prize winners Gabriela Mistral and Pearl S. Buck submitted Sri Aurobindo 1950 for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and called Sri Aurobindo “one of the visionaries and sages of the world”. The French writer Romain described the works of Sri Aurobindo as the most perfect synthesis, that can be reached by western and eastern genius.
From 1910 on Sri Aurobindo lived in Pondicherry and stayed there until his death on the 5th of December 1950. Here he created his life's work, the Integral Yoga. In 1914 he met the "Mother" Mirra Alfassa, who later headed the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry and continued his work.
His most important pieces of work are: The Life Divine , The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on the Gita, The Secret of The Veda, Hymns to the Mystic Fire, The Upanishads, The Foundations of Indian Culture, War and Self-determination, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity and The Future Poetry.
In this text excerpts passages from the Wikipedia entry on Sri Aurobindo were used.