Sri Aurobindo wrote a series of articles on the Gita for Dharma, the weekly Bengali review he edited from Calcutta. The articles appeared between August 1909 and February 1910 and their English translations are presented in the book Introduction to the Gita in the same order in which they appeared in Dharma. “Part One: Aspects of the Gita” features three essays on the dharma of the Gita, asceticism and renunciation, and the vision of the World Spirit by Arjuna described in the eleventh chapter. “Part Two: Commentaries on the Gita” is the beginning of Sri Aurobindo’s detailed commentary on the scripture, which he had to abandon after covering only the first two chapters. In February 1910 he left Calcutta and never returned.
The essays provide an introduction to understanding the Gita: its epic setting, the nature of its protagonists, the political objectives that compelled the Kauravas and the Pandavas to engage in fratricidal warfare on the field of Kurukshetra, and the true attitude of a karmayogin who follows the way of works. The following passage is from the Introduction to the section “Commentaries on the Gita”:
There are many who say that the Mahabharata is only a symbol: Sri Krishna is God, Arjuna is the human soul, the sons of Dhritarashtra are the inner enemies of the soul’s progress, and the Pandava army represents the forces that help bring about liberation. But this is to relegate the Mahabharata to a low position in the world of letters and at the same time to minimise and bring to nought the deep seriousness of the Gita, its utility for the life of the man of action and its high teaching which hastens the progress of mankind. The war of Kurukshetra is not simply a frame for the Gita’s picture; it is the prime motive and best occasion for carrying out the law given in the Gita. To accept a symbolic meaning for the great war of Kurukshetra is to reduce the law of the Gita to the law of ascetic quietism inapplicable to life in this world, not the law of the heroic man, a law to be followed in life.
Other new books introduced in this issue include Deliberations on The Life Divine: Volume Five, transcripts of talks on the last five chapters of Book One: Omnipresent Reality and the Universe. The Philosophy of Evolution, consisting of two series of lectures, offers a coherent introduction to the subject of evolution from both the scientific and philosophic points of view and a study on the mind and supermind, based primarily on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, but including the views of other philosophical thinkers, both modern and classical. About Savitri (Part One) is a new edition of a book of paintings by Huta, done under the Mother’s guidance, which illustrates thirty-two passages from Book One, Canto One of Savitri. Each passage is accompanied by the Mother’s comments and Huta’s painting, as in the following selection.
Passage from Savitri—
The impassive skies were neutral, empty, still.
Then something in the inscrutable darkness stirred;
A nameless movement, an unthought Idea
Insistent, dissatisfied, without an aim,
Something that wished but knew not how to be,
Teased the Inconscient to wake Ignorance.
The Mother’s comment—
This is the description – a very wonderful description – of the beginning of Aspiration: how in the Nothingness, in the Inconscient, stirred the first movement of Aspiration.
There was no mind, so it did not think. Even the vital was not organised, so it did not know how to be.
But, It stirred slowly to wake up the Inconscient towards something—without knowing what it was.
This is the first vibration which preceded even form, the first beginning of Aspiration towards the possibility of knowing.
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Introduction to the Gita
— Sri Aurobindo
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Price: Rs 70
The essays in this volume were originally written by Sri Aurobindo in Bengali and published serially in the journal Dharma in 1909–10. They discuss the elements pivotal to understanding the Gita: the breadth and significance of its setting, the nature of its chief protagonists, and the circumstances and political objectives that brought the Kauravas and the Pandavas to the battlefield. The essays point to the central teaching of the Gita, which answers man’s most searching questions about God and the world, the purpose of life, and the way to right living.
Deliberations on The Life Divine: Volume V (Book I: Chapters XXIV-XXVIII)
Chapterwise Summary Talks
— Ananda Reddy
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Price: Rs 300
This fifth volume of Dr Reddy’s transcribed and edited talks on Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine addresses the final five chapters of Book One: Omnipresent Reality and the Universe. In an effort to reach out to those less familiar with philosophic complexities, Dr Reddy uses simple language and examples to introduce the main philosophical arguments presented in these chapters. Subjects considered include the exact nature and origin of Matter, the unity of Spirit and Matter, the principles that govern the destiny of this creation, and the higher ranges of consciousness and their relation to each other. Each chapter studies the main arguments in brief and is followed by lecture notes that encapsulate the contents in outline form.
The Philosophy of Evolution
— Rod Hemsell
Publisher: University of Human Unity, Auroville
Binding: Soft Cover
Price: Rs 350
Comprising the transcriptions of two lecture series given at the University of Human Unity in Auroville, this book aims at discovering a philosophy of evolution that can help to show the way towards a more unified and enlightened civilisation. Part One, titled “Darwin and Sri Aurobindo”, uses Sri Aurobindo’s perspectives to provide a general context and background for an introduction to the subject of evolution from both the scientific and philosophical points of view. Part Two, titled “Mind and Supermind”, attempts to define mind, the limitations of mind, and the rationale for a theory of evolution beyond mind, based primarily on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, but including the views of important philosophical thinkers, classical and modern.
About Savitri: With some paintings (Part One)
— Paintings by Huta with passages from Savitri and explanations by the Mother
Publisher: The Havyavahana Trust, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Price: Rs 350
In 1968 the Mother began her work on Savitri with Huta. The Mother read out passages from the poem and then, after a deep contemplation, gave her comments, which were tape-recorded and later transcribed by Huta. The Mother named the work About Savitri, and later gave a message for the book: “Savitri—The supreme revelation of Sri Aurobindo’s vision”. Each passage from the poem is followed by the Mother’s explanation and Huta’s painting, inspired and approved by the Mother. Part One covers Book One, Canto One and includes thirty-two paintings. This is a new edition of the book which was first published in 1972.
Savitri: The Book of Beginnings
— Compiled by Itzhak Bar Yona
Publisher: Itzhak Bar Yona, Israel
Binding: Hard Cover
Price: Rs 580