Sri Aurobindo, the Revolutionary Nationalist

Lecture by Beloo Mehra, delivered at Sri Aurobindo Center for Advanced Research (SACAR)

August 15, 2021

This talk highlights a few salient aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s political and nationalist work during the period 1893 to 1910 to present a picture of his yogi-revolutionary aspect – an Integral Yogi who declared that “All Life is Yoga”, and a fiery revolutionary who declared that “the return of India on her eternal self, the restoration of her splendour, greatness,…is the ideal of Nationalism.”

The period of 1893-1906, or the Baroda years, marks the key revolutionary work of Sri Aurobindo, primarily done through the might of his pen; his fiery words stirred up deep emotions of patriotic fervour and zeal among his contemporaries. Much of his political activity during this period also happened behind the scenes, which included his being the force in bringing together different revolutionaries working for India’s independence.

The years from 1906 to 1910 include the time Sri Aurobindo spent in Bengal, where he actively participated in political activities, including speaking at several public events and rallies. As is well known, his arrest in 1908 in connection with the Alipore bombing case and his acquittal a year later marked an important turning point; the yogi revolutionary would now embark on the path of a revolutionary yoga.

It was the absolute purity of his intention and work and the deepest truth of his yogic vision which saw India as a Mother, as a Shakti, a power and a godhead, which made Sri Aurobindo “the most dangerous man” the British ever had to contend with. Because deep down perhaps even the British knew that the soul of India exists in her spirituality and yoga, and whenever India needed to wake up and rise from her slumber it was the yogis and rishis who had shown her the true, right and good path. Sri Aurobindo, the yogi-revolutionary with a flame of spiritual nationalism burning ardently in his heart, was a danger because he had the potential to wake up a sleeping India! In fact, to this day his revolutionary writings and speeches continue to stir the hearts of all Indians who love their motherland.

Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary work must be understood in the context of his deeper, spiritual vision of nation, nationalism and India’s true role in the future destiny of humanity. It is important to explore the continued relevance of this vision and this truth of India’s soul as we, the citizens of a politically independent India, reflect upon our responsibility toward a regeneration of India in the light of her true spirit, and further contemplate on the importance of the view of spiritual nationalism, given to us by Sri Aurobindo, for opening a path toward a deeper inner unity as the basis for a true globalism.

~ Beloo Mehra


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