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An Introduction to the Integral Yoga
Sri Aurobindo's Vision and Practical Guidance
About An Introduction to the Integral Yoga
This compact introduction to the Integral Yoga has four main sections. Each section consists of extracts from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother interspersed with explanatory notes or comments by the author. The first section introduces some basic concepts of Yoga. The second deals with specific aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s vision, the third with some features of the practice of the Integral Yoga, and the fourth with guidance on the path. This last section also contains short biographies of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, brief summaries of their major writings, and a few pages on the Ashram, Sri Aurobindo Society, Auroville, and Auroville International.
An Introduction to the Integral Yoga is divided into four parts. The first section introduces some basic concepts of yoga. The second highlights aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga, such as the transformation of human nature, the psychic being, the triple transformation, and the supermind. The third covers some features of the practice of the Integral Yoga, such as the triple attitude of aspiration, rejection, and surrender, as well as discussing some difficulties on the path. The fourth section consists of short biographies of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, a brief listing of their main works, and some information on the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Sri Aurobindo Society, and Auroville. It is a short work comprising extracts from Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s writings interspersed with explanatory passages by the author. After spending twenty years in the Ashram, the author moved to Auroville. He has created his own area of work by holding workshops in Auroville on the Integral Yoga and Sri Aurobindo’s vision.
Sri Aurobindo’s works being voluminous and the content often being dense, many people tend to read them based on a subject they are interested in. Not many take up his major writings from the first page and go through till the end. Those who are curious to study his works in greater depth often take the help of people who are conducting classes on his writings or have practised his Yoga. It is only over a considerable period of study that one can understand the full range of his vision.
There is another aspect to his works which is important to note: a single short passage is often enough to answer a specific question and keep one engaged over a period of time in practising the solution found. This allows a person to read him in small excerpts and be satisfied with it. But these short readings are dependent on one’s personal need.
This introductory book serves both points discussed above. The author holds workshops in Auroville on Sri Aurobindo’s vision of life. That has allowed him to work on his subject matter with constant feedback from people. Therefore, the arrangement of the chapters in the book is simple, logical, and intelligible. And being an introduction the form is concise, in fact so concise that he has done well to quote more from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and not tried to explain too much in his own words.
I conducted a small informal survey, where people in a book shop were randomly chosen and asked a few questions. First, if they came across an introductory book on a new philosophy, what were their expectations of its content. The outcome was that most of those questioned would certainly want to know something about Sri Aurobindo’s early spiritual life or some anecdotes enabling them to connect to his early spiritual experiences leading to his vision. Secondly, most felt that in an introductory book they were not interested in details extraneous to understanding his basic vision. This general feedback led me to believe that the author could have excluded some portions of this book and given each topic a longer treatment, allowing the reader to settle in his reading and have the time to picture the reasoning line of connectivity.
Nonetheless, I am sure that not only people attending the author’s workshop but also readers attracted to Sri Aurobindo’s vision will profit from the material presented in this book.
After completing her studies at SAICE Shyama joined the Ashram, where she currently looks after a guest house and serves as a captain in the Physical Education Department. She enjoys theatre, dance, music, drawing, and writing, and has written articles for the SAICE alumni journal, The Golden Chain.