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    • May 2008
    • 9780231140980
  • 528 Pages
  • 18 illus.

  • Hardcover
  • $65.00
  • / £45.00

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    • May 2008
    • 9780231511841
  • 528 Pages
  • 18 illus.

  • E-book
  • $64.99
  • / £45.00

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo

Peter Heehs

Since his death in 1950, Sri Aurobindo Ghose has been known primarily as a yogi and a philosopher of spiritual evolution who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in peace and literature. But the years Aurobindo spent in yogic retirement were preceded by nearly four decades of rich public and intellectual work. Biographers usually focus solely on Aurobindo's life as a politician or sage, but he was also a scholar, a revolutionary, a poet, a philosopher, a social and cultural theorist, and the inspiration for an experiment in communal living.

Peter Heehs, one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, is the first to relate all the aspects of Aurobindo's life in its entirety. Consulting rare primary sources, Heehs describes the leader's role in the freedom movement and in the framing of modern Indian spirituality. He examines the thinker's literary, cultural, and sociological writings and the Sanskrit, Bengali, English, and French literature that influenced them, and he finds the foundations of Aurobindo's yoga practice in his diaries and unpublished letters. Heehs's biography is a sensitive, honest portrait of a life that also provides surprising insights into twentieth-century Indian history.

About the Author

Peter Heehs was born and educated in the United States but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles.

"All students and scholars of Sri Aurobindo will find this extraordinary book most rewarding... Essential." — CHOICE

"A great biography... a doorway into [Sri Aurobindo's] extraordinary spiritual philosophy and vision." — EnlightenNext

"It is engagingly written and supported by a bounty of historical materials. Students of India with little familiarity of Aurobindo will discover that Heehs offers a multisided portrait of a brilliant and enigmatic man whose lifetime spanned a momentous period in modern Indian history..." — Hanna H. Kim, H-Asia

"The book's strength is Heehs' deep understanding of modern India, which gives him an edge in perceptively situating Aurobindo within the context of Indian national movement." — Vijendra Singh, Contemporary South Asia

"...meticulously reported and scrupulously footnoted..." — Yoga Journal

"Heehs has succeeded magnificently; The Lives of Sri Aurobindo is quickly becoming the biography for academics." — AntiMatter

"Heehs' work is an epic effort to encompass the outer and inner life of a personality, who seems to defy all definitions and boundaries, written with the intention of making him comprehensible to the scholarly mind of our times. I believe this book to be eminently successful" — Debashish Banerji, Sophia

"A formidable piece of scholarship." — Antony Copley, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

"The Lives of Sri Aurobindo easily constitutes the most comprehensive, thorough, and balanced study of Sri Aurobindo Ghose's life and thought to date. Peter Heehs's remarkable access to archival sources both at the ashram and in numerous other archives around the world establishes this text as the definitive study of Aurobindo's immense output in all of its genres and modes. His text humanizes and problematizes a historical figure whose complexity has been more or less lost to us via hagiography, piety, and now Hindutva apologetics. In some very real sense, Heehs gives us back Aurobindo as a political figure, a prolific writer, and as a religious teacher-all in all, a remarkable accomplishment. His writing is clear, uncluttered, precise, and in places quite beautiful. There are few scholarly texts I genuinely enjoyed reading, but this is one of them." — Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor and chair of religious studies, Rice University

"Sri Aurobindo, the first Indian leader to call for independence from Great Britain and India's greatest philosopher of the twentieth century, deserves far greater recognition in the West for his pioneering vision and spiritual practice. This, his first major biography, is written with meticulous care, without the fawning worship of previous hagiographies that have obscured his extraordinary life and work." — Michael Murphy, founder, Esalen Institute

"Sri Aurobindo has at last received the scholarly biography he deserves& mdash;and we need." — Robert McDermott, author of The Essential Aurobindo

"Here are details that are not only reliable but transparent in letting their sources speak. Throughout we hear the voices of Sri Aurobindo and his contemporaries. Peter Heehs has written the definitive biography and a superb introduction to the life and thought of Sri Aurobindo." — Stephen Phillips, professor of philosophy and Asian studies, University of Texas at Austin

About the Author

Peter Heehs was born and educated in the United States but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles.

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Note on Proper Names
Part One: Son
1. Early Years in India: Bengal, 1872-1879
Part Two: Scholar
2. Growing up English: England, 1879-1893
3. Encountering India: Baroda, 1893-1910
Part Three: Revolutionary
4. Into the Fray: Calcutta, 1906-1908
5. In Jail and After: Bengal, 1908-1910
Part Four: Yogi and Philosopher
6. A Laboratory Experiment: Pondicherry, 1910-1915
7. The Major Works: Pondicherry, 1914-1920
Part Five: Guide
8. The Ascent to Supermind: Pondicherry, 1915-1926
9. An Active Retirement: Pondicherry, 1927-1950
Epilogue
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Peter Heehs was born and educated in the United States but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles.

About the Author

Peter Heehs was born and educated in the United States but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles.

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About the Author

Peter Heehs was born and educated in the United States but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles.

About the Author

Peter Heehs was born and educated in the United States but has lived in India since 1971. One of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, he is currently a member of the editorial board of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, and has published many books and articles.