At the age of 12, Ramchandra Das embarked on an adventure into the unknown. Having grown up in a small village in Gulmi, the oldest of 6, he didn't want to take up unnecessary resources, so he set out to India with a friend. Upon entering India, the friend promptly abandoned him. At 17 he joined the army, seeking belonging and purpose, he met fellow spirit seekers and a few years later left the army to wander Northern India as a sadhu (Hindu ascetic). He happened upon a book of Sri Aurobindo at the age of 20 and went south to discover himself.
There he stayed for 12 years, engaging in the karmayoga (work as spiritual practice) of Sri Aurobindo in Sri Aurobindo's Auroville. Entranced by the by then deceased Indian revolutionaries philosophy of finding the divine on Earth in one's work to broaden the human consciousness, he washed dishes and cared for on of Sri Aurobindo's closest disciples.
After 12 years he felt an inner calling and returned on foot, from memory to home country whose country he couldn't speak and a family that couldn't recognize his face. Touched by the poverty of the village deep in his soul, he returned to Pondi for work. Again, he was called to Nepal, to a small plot of land on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley. There he purchased a small plot of land and a c0ow. In the infertile soil, he sowed seeds with manure, selling the milk and rolling incense to pay for his next meal, tending everything himself with the first child, of the Ashram, Laxmi. From there it's been a long tumultuous, beautiful 25 years guided by the hand the Divine, working towards the spiritual evolution of humankind through the Harmonious practice of karmayoga.
In 2006 Swamiji was drawn to a beautiful 25-acre plot of land in Terai, the tropical southern region of Nepal, and there established the agricultural center of the ashram on Terai's all-encompassing fields. A once barren plain, as The Mother, Sri Aurobindo's spiritual companion, revitalized the land on which Auroville, the City of Dawn, the Home of the World now sits.
He returned again in 2012 to his home in Gulmi and with funds from the Ashram, started a school to spread the light of knowledge to his home. Something drew him to a lonely hilltop overlooking the expanse of untouched villages and forest and there he decided to begin the construction of the third holy place of Sri Aurobindo, the Gulmi Ashram.
Now, 25 years later, over 1,000 children have passed through the Ashram, some studying in Europe to come back in teach, other touring the world dancing, leading trips around Nepal, and more, living the Dharma (way of life) of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
Swami Ramchandra Das in his youth
The first kids and cows at
the Kathmandu Ashram
The kids standing outside of the first
building at the Kathmandu Ashram
Excavating the site of the
The Mother's Symbol
The center represents the divine
The four center petals represent the mother's four quaities
The 12 outer petals represent the ideal qualities
The Mother, originally named Mirra Alfassa, was born in Paris in 1878. A pupil at the Academie Julian, she became an accomplished artist and excelled as a pianist and writer. Later in her career, she became interested in spiritual development, After studying with Max Theon and his wife, she founded a group of spiritual seekers in Paris and gave talks to various others. in 1914 she went with her husband to Pondicherry with her husband for work and met Sri Aurobindo, one who she'd realized had guided her spiritual development for years. She was obliged to return home due to the outbreak of the first World War. After a brief stint in Japan, she rejoined Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry in 1920 and in four years reaches his level of spirituality. When the Sri Aurobindo Ashram was formed in 1926, she was entrusted with the full material and spiritual charge. Under her guidance, for nearly 50 years, the Ashram flourished, including Auroville, her envisioned township of the world, a roof for all and owned by none. In 1973, the Mother left her body.
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Sri Aurobindo, born Aurobindo Ghose, was born in Calcutta in 1872 to a wealthy doctor. At the age of 7, he was sent to England and studied at St Paul's School, London and King's College, Cambridge, at the top of his class and a voracious student of German, Greek, French, Latin and more. In 1893 he returned to India a man of science and a self-declared skeptic and agnostic, working for the Maharaja. He joined the revolutionary society and became a leader for preparations against the British Raj and later the Nationalist movement. The first to posit the idea of complete independence for India, he was prosecuted twice for sedition, but never convicted. During his brief stint in prison, he had a spiritual awakening and left political activity for pure yoga (spiritual practice) in Pondicherry in the south. There he stayed for 40 years, writing and developing his Integral Yoga, striving towards liberating one's consciousness on this earthly plane, through karmayoga (work). Among his many works were Savitri, the Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga. He left his body in 1950.
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Sri Aurobindo's Symbol
The descending arrow satcitananda (the joy of truth) grounding, descending force
The ascending represents the force of light and love that lifts us from delusion
The lotus is the union of both of those in this Earth
The Integral Yoga
The teaching of Sri Aurobindo starts from that of the ancient sages of India that behind the appearances of the universe there is the Reality of a Being and Consciousness, a Self of all things, one and eternal. All beings are united in that One Self and Spirit but divided by a certain separativity of consciousness, an ignorance of their true Self and Reality in the mind, life and body. It is possible by a certain psychological discipline to remove this veil of separative consciousness and become aware of the true Self, the Divinity within us and all.
Sri Aurobindo's teaching states that this One Being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection.
But while the former steps in evolution were taken by Nature without a conscious will in the plant and animal life, in man Nature becomes able to evolve by a conscious will in the instrument. It is not, however, by the mental will in man that this can be wholly done, for the mind goes only to a certain point and after that can only move in a circle. A conversion has to be made, a turning of the consciousness by which mind has to change into the higher principle. This method is to be found through the ancient psychological discipline and practice of Yoga. In the past, it has been attempted by a drawing away from the world and a disappearance into the height of the Self or Spirit. Sri Aurobindo teaches that a descent of the higher principle is possible which will not merely release the spiritual Self out of the world, but release it in the world, replace the mind's ignorance or its very limited knowledge by a supramental Truth-Consciousness which will be a sufficient instrument of the inner Self and make it possible for the human being to find himself dynamically as well as inwardly and grow out of his still animal humanity into a diviner race. The psychological discipline of Yoga can be used to that end by opening all the parts of the being to a conversion or transformation through the descent and working of the higher still concealed supramental principle.
Introductions to Integral Yoga
Sri Aurobindo or Adventure of Concsiousness by Satprem
The Sunlit Path by The Mother
Savitri by Sri Aurobindo
The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo
The Integral Yoga by Sri Aurobindo
Essays on the Gita by Sri Aurobindo