The Lives of Sri Aurobindo

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo

by Peter Heehs

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The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs

Since his death in 1950, Sri Aurobindo Ghose has been known primarily as a yogi and a philosopher of spiritual evolution who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in peace and literature. But the years Aurobindo spent in yogic retirement were preceded by nearly four decades of rich public and intellectual work. Biographers usually focus solely on Aurobindo's life as a politician or sage, but he was also a scholar, a revolutionary, a poet, a philosopher, a social and cultural theorist, and the inspiration for an experiment in communal living.

Peter Heehs, one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, is the first to relate all the aspects of Aurobindo's life in its entirety. Consulting rare primary sources, Heehs describes the leader's role in the freedom movement and in the framing of modern Indian spirituality. He examines the thinker's literary, cultural, and sociological writings and the Sanskrit, Bengali, English, and French literature that influenced them, and he finds the foundations of Aurobindo's yoga practice in his diaries and unpublished letters. Heehs's biography is a sensitive, honest portrait of a life that also provides surprising insights into twentieth-century Indian history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231511841
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 05/19/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 528
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Peter Heehs was born and educated in the United States but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Note on Proper Names
Part One: Son
1. Early Years in India: Bengal, 1872-1879
Part Two: Scholar
2. Growing up English: England, 1879-1893
3. Encountering India: Baroda, 1893-1910
Part Three: Revolutionary
4. Into the Fray: Calcutta, 1906-1908
5. In Jail and After: Bengal, 1908-1910
Part Four: Yogi and Philosopher
6. A Laboratory Experiment: Pondicherry, 1910-1915
7. The Major Works: Pondicherry, 1914-1920
Part Five: Guide
8. The Ascent to Supermind: Pondicherry, 1915-1926
9. An Active Retirement: Pondicherry, 1927-1950

What People are Saying About This


Heehs has succeeded magnificently; The Lives of Sri Aurobindo is quickly becoming the biography for academics.

Robert McDermott

Sri Aurobindo has at last received the scholarly biography he deserves—and we need.

Stephen Phillips

Here are details that are not only reliable but transparent in letting their sources speak. Throughout we hear the voices of Sri Aurobindo and his contemporaries. Peter Heehs has written the definitive biography and a superb introduction to the life and thought of Sri Aurobindo.

Michael Murphy

Sri Aurobindo, the first Indian leader to call for independence from Great Britain and India's greatest philosopher of the twentieth century, deserves far greater recognition in the West for his pioneering vision and spiritual practice. This, his first major biography, is written with meticulous care, without the fawning worship of previous hagiographies that have obscured his extraordinary life and work.

Jeffrey J. Kripal

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo easily constitutes the most comprehensive, thorough, and balanced study of Sri Aurobindo Ghose's life and thought to date. Peter Heehs's remarkable access to archival sources both at the ashram and in numerous other archives around the world establishes this text as the definitive study of Aurobindo's immense output in all of its genres and modes. His text humanizes and problematizes a historical figure whose complexity has been more or less lost to us via hagiography, piety, and now Hindutva apologetics. In some very real sense, Heehs gives us back Aurobindo as a political figure, a prolific writer, and as a religious teacher-all in all, a remarkable accomplishment. His writing is clear, uncluttered, precise, and in places quite beautiful. There are few scholarly texts I genuinely enjoyed reading, but this is one of them.

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