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Sri Aurobindo

Letters of Sri Aurobindo


Fragment ID: 7664

(this fragment is largest or earliest found passage)

Sri Aurobindo — Unknown addressee

February 8, 1935

In an article on Shankara’s philosophy in “Prabuddha Bharata”, the writer mentions, “not as understood by Sri Aurobindo”. They think that Shankara’s philosophy is so much misunderstood. Perhaps it is some Brahmavada or Bhaktivada that Shankara brings in at places in his writings that he thinks have been missed. But I don’t think Vivekananda or Ramakrishna were so much for Shankara’s philosophy in toto.

They want to show that Shankara was not so savagely illusionist as he is represented – that he gave a certain temporary reality to the world, admitted Shakti, etc. But these (supposing he made them) are concessions inconsistent with the logic of his own philosophy which is that only the Brahman exists and the rest is ignorance and illusion. The rest has only a temporary and therefore an illusory reality in Maya. He further maintained that Brahman could not be reached by works. If that was not his philosophy, I should like to know what was his philosophy. At any rate that was how his philosophy has been understood by people. Now that the general turn is away from the rigorous Illusionism, many of the Adwaitins seem to want to hedge and make Shankara hedge with them.

Vivekananda accepted Shankara’s philosophy with modifications, the chief of them being Daridra-Narayan-Seva which is a mixture of Buddhist compassion and modern philanthropy.


Current publication:

[Largest or earliest found passage: ] Sri Aurobindo. On Himself // SABCL.- Volume 26. (≈ 35 vol. of CWSA)

Other publications:

Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga // SABCL.- Volume 22. (≈ 28 vol. of CWSA).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1971.- 502 p.

Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga. II // CWSA.- Volume 29. (≈ 22-24 vol. of SABCL).- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 2013.- 522 p.