Editor's preface

On November 12th, 1997, Sri Chinmoy will offer a Peace Concert at King's College Chapel, Cambridge University, at the gracious request of the Rev. George Pattison, Dean of the Chapel. This Peace Concert will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of India's independence and the 125th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo, Mother India's beloved Poet-Seer- Revolutionary-Patriot-Avatar-Son. The introduction is to be given by His Excellency Dr. L. M. Singhvi, the High Commissioner for India to the United Kingdom.

Sri Aurobindo spent almost fourteen years in England from the age of seven to twenty. He was a student at King's College, Cambridge, from October 1890 to October 1892 and was considered to be one of the most brilliant emerging classical scholars of the day. Returning to India in 1893, he plunged into the cause of nationalism and was later arrested. After being detained for twelve months in Alipore Jail, Sri Aurobindo was released. Eventually, he retired into seclusion in Pondicherry, South India, in order to devote himself entirely to his inner, spiritual work.

Sri Chinmoy spent his early years from 1944 to 1964 as a permanent resident of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. He received Sri Aurobindo's darshan four times a year while Sri Aurobindo was in the physical.

On August 15th, 1947 — the day of Sri Aurobindo's 75th birthday — India's independence was finally won and Sri Aurobindo issued his historic message to the nation. In this message, Sri Aurobindo spoke of the deep, personal significance for him of August 15th:

"August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it, by our life and acts as a free nation, an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity.
  August 15th is my own birthday, and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition...."

Sri Chinmoy's poems in this volume offer us a poetic biography of the life of Sri Aurobindo, from his earliest days as a boy in London, through to his self-realisation and his transformation into the "Avatar of the Era," which was presaged by his Birth. As the great scholar M. P. Pandit wrote when he first read these poems almost half a century ago, "Each poem celebrates a landmark and is elevating."

The poet was blessed to receive direct encouragement from Sri Aurobindo himself in his poetic journey. In 1946, at age fourteen, the young Chinmoy rendered Sri Aurobindo's story "Kshamar Adarsha" ("The Ideal of Forgiveness") into two hundred lines of Bengali verses. This poem was read to Sri Aurobindo by his literary assistant, Nirodbaran. Sri Aurobindo remarked, "It is a fine piece of poetry. He has capacity. Tell him to continue."

The budding poet of those years has now written more than 52,000 poems in English and is presently working on a special series of 27,000 poems which he has named Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants. It may be said that the poems in this volume. The Infinite: Sri Aurobindo, which are inspired by Chinmoy's deepest love, admiration and devotion for Sri Aurobindo, represent a pure stream of expression and feeling flowing through his lyric morn.