The Sri Aurobindo Ashram: a nursery of the spirit59

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is an attempt at the embodiment of a universal divine brotherhood — an invitation to all, irrespective of nationality, caste, creed, age or sex to consecrate themselves to the spiritual life along the lines of the Master's Integral Yoga.

The ashramites endeavour to cultivate a comprehensive scale of divine values broad enough to harmonise opposites like work and meditation, mysticism and rationalism, austerity and aesthetic expression and to unite the twin goals of our individual and collective evolution.

The Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, with its two inseparable limbs of action and meditation, makes the Ashram quite unlike most others, for it has a different story to unfold for the future. It carries within itself the seeds of a new and greater cosmos to come. It is a powerful influence towards the reconciliation of the highest past in Indian spiritual attainment and the most glorious future. All over the world we observe new tentative ideologies and impulses arising, a new attempt to develop and progress. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is one expression of this new dynamic drive. And in years to come this spirit is bound to assert itself and result in the greater and higher development of mankind.

The Ashram represents humanity through its individual types and society through its different vocations.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother observed that the enforcement of regulations tends to encourage their violation in secret. Hence discipline here is learned through the efforts towards self-rule, attempted and expressed in freedom. This freedom helps to promote in the individual an unflinching honesty and integrity. Nevertheless, this lack of ordinary discipline in the Ashram does not mean that the question of test does not arise.

"There is in the Ashram," says the Mother, "no exterior discipline and visible test. But the inner test is very severe and constant; one must be very sincere in the aspiration to surmount all egoism and to conquer all vanity in order to be able to stay. A complete surrender is not outwardly exacted but it is indispensable for those who wish to stick on, and many things come to test the sincerity of this surrender. However, the grace and the help are always there for those who aspire for them."

The Mother is the Ashram. All the ashramites are bound to her by their inner faith in her divine Realisation and her spiritual Insight. Her divine guidance solves all individual and collective problems, physical, vital, mental and spiritual. The final authority in the carrying out of any decision is the Mother.

People living here are from many countries, speaking different languages, belonging to different religions and cultures. They find themselves thrown into an atmosphere which is not always easy to adjust to, where souls alone can breathe. Yet the remarks of a newcomer from America on the Ashram are significant:

"The atmosphere of the Ashram is discouraging to all pretence and vanity. Ego-antics, common in the average small group, are rarely noted here, even among a thousand" — blessed relief! Surely there is here a powerful force at work to subdue the ego and bring forward the soul....Yet we were warned on arrival not to assume that we were in the company of angels, but rather a grand cross-section of humanity, who form the Mother's laboratory for the great transformation.

The Mother is the sole exponent of Sri Aurobindo's yoga. "Surrender to the Mother" has ever been the refrain of the Master's supremely inspired voice.
"She [the Mother] alone can say what is the right way to deal with people. If she were to deal with people only according to their defects, there would be hardly a dozen people left in the Ashram.
  Always behave as if the Mother is looking at you because she is indeed always present."

This message of Sri Aurobindo is deeply engraved in the hearts of the aspiring souls who want to launch into the field of His Integral Yoga. Indeed his ideal and the Mother's creation are a mirror for the world to come.

Written in Pondicherry. First published August 27th, 1966