June 13, 2008

Although Sri Aurobindo was inspired by Vedantic scriptures, he never considered himself an exoteric “Hindu” per se

Sri Aurobindo on Islam from The Stumbling Mystic by ned

Mahomed’s mission was necessary, else we might have ended by thinking, in the exaggeration of our efforts at self-purification, that earth was meant only for the monk and the city created as a vestibule for the desert. — Sri Aurobindo

The following quotes, sent to me by Aryadeep on Auroconf, should put to rest the notion that Sri Aurobindo had something against the religion of Islam per se or that he was a follower of traditional Hinduism, as some people think. Sri Aurobindo was a servant of Truth, and was very clear that he had nothing to do with any traditional religion. He criticized all religious fundamentalism in general, and could be quite scathing in his critiques of orthodox Hinduism as well. One caveat: I must admit it is regrettable that Sri Aurobindo used the terms “Mohamedan” and “Mohamedanism” rather than “Muslim” and “Islam” — he did after all study at Cambridge University and must have picked up these somewhat Orientalist terms which I’m sure would be offensive or at the very least alienating to some Muslims. In any event, I hope that this doesn’t detract from the main thrust of his message.

The Ashram has nothing to do with the Hindu religion or culture or any religion or nationality. The Truth of the Divine which is the spiritual reality behind all religions and the descent of the Supramental which is not known to any religion are the sole things which will be foundation of the work of the future.
Sri Aurobindo Circle 1976, p. 1


There is a very interesting set of correspondences between Sri Aurobindo and a Muslim disciple of his named Dara, written in the early thirties, which shows the possibilities and potentials in India for an authentic spiritual synthesis of the world’s religions.


Aryadeep used these quotes in a talk given in Bangalore, at the Sri Aurobindo Complex in 2004. The talk was inspired by Nolini Kanta Gupta’s article, ‘The Basis of Unity’, Collected Works, Vol. 1, and by the correspondence between Sri Aurobindo and one of his Muslim disciples, Dara.

Another article that’s worth reading is ‘Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism’ by Peter Heehs, published in the last issue of Anti-Matters, which also demonstrates that although Sri Aurobindo was inspired by the Vedantic scriptures, he never considered himself an exoteric “Hindu” per se (he grew up an atheist).

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