Sri Aurobindo, born as Aurobindo Acroyd Ghose, was an eminent nationalist, philosopher, yogi, guru and a poet. He is best remembered for being a spiritual reformer apart from taking active participation in Indian National Movement albeit for a brief period. His vision on human progress and spiritual evolution brought much accolade to him. However, his contribution to the national movement with his own idea of freedom ranks him the pioneer of the Indian history and the struggle of its liberation from British.
Despite being trained in England since his early years (at the age of seven he want to sent to England to insulate him from Indian affairs and sentiments about the freedom of struggle), he always dreamed of India as a free country. His knowledge to English proved much beneficial in suitably portraying the indigenous sentiments and writing many poems, plays and many literary works. Sri Aurobindo joined the state service of Baroda (a princely state that time) after his arrival to India. Before that he qualified for the Indian Civil Service (ICS) exam but was failed in the riding test. His tenure in India enabled him to see the English Raj and the devastation it is causing to the Indians.
A better understanding of the idea of Sri Aurobindo can’t be obtained before we appreciate the prevailing situation which was dominating the scene of nationalist movement at the start with his tenure with active politics. Sri Aurobindo when he came to India in 1893, it were the days of moderate politics where the nationalist leaders of that time believed in petitioning the government and making appeal to them to initiate constitutional reforms to give them more autonomy. The concept of ‘Swaraj’ was dominating the scene and Indians were ready to work under the overall British Empire.
However, Sri Aurobindo came to the active politics with an evolutionary idea of ‘Independence’ instead of ‘Swaraj’. He was a believer that the nation had the right to obtain its freedom from foreign rule by any means possible. In 1905, with the partition of Bengal, Aurobindo pleaded for leaving moderate politics and join the extreme politics of prominent contemporary leaders such as Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Bipin Chandra Pal. He was among the first Indian leaders to openly declare for complete and absolute Independence. In his famous writing, he wrote “there are some who fear to use the word freedom’ but I have always used the word because it has been the Mantra of my life to aspire towards the freedom of my nation”.
In the movement arising out of Bengal partition, the application of moral force took the shape of full scale non-violent and non-cooperation and passive resistance movement in the hands of Aurobindo. In his inspiration the partition movement soon developed into a fully fledged ‘Swadeshi’ and ‘Swaraj’ movement. Due to his bold outlook and even bolder speeches to articulate his outlook, it prompted the British to take stern action against him. The then viceroy Lord Minto was quick to term him as the ‘Most dangerous man in India’. Sri Aurobindo was tried twice for sedation but acquitted both the times. However, in May 1908 he was arrested in Alipore Bomb case and imprisoned for one year. In 1910 he left active politics to become a yogi.
A quick to remember point about Sri Aurobindo is that he came to the political scene much earlier than Gandhi Ji, M N Roy, Jawaharlal and Subhash Chandra Bose. But, he had that vision of revolutionary politics that was later followed by all eminent nationalist involved in winning the independence for the country. His was the mastermind wherefrom originated most of the governing ideas of freedom movement. He always believed that India is not just a piece of land with the mere collection of people. India with its thousands of years old civilization and convergent point of multi-cultural society is a conscious divine power which must be free from foreign control. Only then could she develop and manifest the greatest of her soul.