February 07, 2007

Sri Aurobindo himself was magnanimous enough to go through my first and second drafts

Sri Aurobindo - A Biography and a history by K R Srinivasa Iyengar
Paperback - 843 Pages (Year: 2006) Sri Aurobindo Ashram ~ ISBN: 8170588138
The first edition of this book was published on 21 February 1945. When I started work on it late in 1942, I was not slow to realize that the biographer of Sri Aurobindo had himself to be a poet and a prophet, a philosopher and a Yogi; and being fully conscious of my limitations, I knew that the task I had undertaken greatly exceeded my abilities.
Neverthless I persevered, benefiting by encouragement, counsel and criticism from several friends in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, and it was my unique good fortune that Sri Aurobindo himself was magnanimous enough to go through my first and second drafts of February 1943 and November 1943 respectively, rectifying many errors whether of fact or interpretation. In the result, the book was received warmly as a reliable first introduction to Sri Aurobindo’s life and work.
The second edition appeared on 21 February 1950. In preparing it for the press, I had retained the main text of the first edition, but I had also tried to make it up-to-date by introducing additional matter here and there, and supplying a few more footnotes. Although the second edition sold out not long afterwards, and although there were calls for a new edition, for about twenty years I found myself unable to return to this task. During this period a great deal of valuable material came to light and a large mass of Sri Aurobindo’s own writings-prose as well as poetry-was posthumously published.
While I no doubt tried desperately to keep in touch with this growing literature- both writing by Sri Aurobindo and writing on Sri Aurobindo-the idea of a third edition of my biography nevertheless filled me with grave misgivings. It was clear that a casual or piecemeal revision wouldn’t serve the purpose. With each succeeding year, the task only became more and more difficult, and I felt correspondingly inadequate and was afraid even to make a beginning. I realized too that I could look for no respite so long as I consented to be shackled to the arduous tasks of university teaching or administration.

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