Sri Aurobind Ashram in Pondicherry
When a tourist visits Pondicherry he would surely never miss the opportunity of visiting the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. This world renowned ashram was founded in the year 1926, by Sri Aurobindo, a revolutionary turned Yogi from Bengal along with The Mother (Mira Alfassa) a French painter as well as a sculptor. It is indeed the best known landmark of Pondicherry and the ashram attracts people from all over the world. Here one experiences the serenity, the great peace and all the wisdom practiced by ancient saints and sages of India.
The main ashram building is situated at the marine street just behind the Raj Nivas which is surrounded by several buildings involved with educational and cultural activities of the Aurobindo Society. The central courtyard of the main ashram building has the flower festooned memorials of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo under the frangipani tree.
One can find peace prevailing in this memorial place. People come and meditate in this ashram. The Mother’s love for flowers is very well exhibited as the lush gardens expose this situation so as to fulfill her liking. The building on the eastern sea front of the city served as the residence of the Master and the Mother. Sri Aurobindo elaborated a system of Internal Yoga in order to practice Yoga and Modern Science. This unusual exercise of spirituality is intended to make life more beautiful, not by neglecting the world but by living as a part of it. The dwellers in this Ashram have formed a spiritual community that gives them an aura of sublime peace and calmness prevailing through Pondicherry. Now the ashram consists of 2000dwellers including 400 students of the centre of education. They work towards attaining the life-affirming aim of the Master. The Ashram in the present is like a mini township. It is an awesome estate of 120 buildings. These buildings serve as educational institutes and as industries. It takes care of the needs of the inmates of the ashram and various departments look after the basic requirements of food, clothing, and shelter, as well as medical care.
One can find farms, gardens, a printing press, some small scale industries, libraries and facilities for recreation as well as cultural activities. An important part of the ashram is the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. The system practiced here is entirely different. The belief is that every child is unique in its thinking and the centre of education tries to help them grow and nurture them in their individual way and leave the choice to the children. They don’t mingle them together into the frame of one particular syllabus.
According to Sri Aurobindo – the first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is not an instructor or a task master rather he is a guide or a helper to him. The teacher need not teach what knowledge is to the child but shows him the way to go about developing knowledge with their talent. The children have the free will to choose the subjects of their liking and the guides as well. They can concentrate on the subject they have chosen and neglect the other subjects. This is an entirely different setup that is practiced successfully in this centre for education. The system is integral in its approach and it provides a scope for simultaneous developments of the child physically, vitally, mentally and in psychic aspects as well.
Some other attractions for the visitors include Sri Aurobindo Handmade Paper Factory which is run by the Ashram. This is an internationally renowned factory which produces quality handmade paper. Apart from paper there are a wide range of exquisite products produced here. The collections of the works written by Sri Aurobindo are sold at the Ashram Book Shop located in the premises of the Ashram. Visitors to the Ashram have the facility to stay in the guest houses which are cheap and excellent. This Ashram has influenced several other yoga learning centres. The most important among these yoga learning centres is the famous International Centre for Yoga Education and Research which is also known as the Ananda Ashram.
Sri Aurobindo Ghose
This great person has made an impact both for himself as well as those who follow his preaching. Born in Kolkata in the year 15th August, 1872, Aurobindo spent his early life for a while in England and was given qualitative higher studies and got his graduation from the King’s College, Cambridge. The field in which he got specialized with was Classical Tripos. He also cleared the prestigious Civil Service Exam and returned to India in 1893. He worked for the Princely State of Baroda and was also a professor in Baroda College during this time for nearly 13 years. He fought for the independence of the country and then in 1910, moved to the French Pondicherry and led a spiritual life. He practiced Yoga and Modern Science. He founded and established Sri Aurobindo Ashram with the help of the Mother, who is his disciple and spiritual collaborator. He was a prolific writer. He wrote The Life Divine, and The Synthesis of Yoga and Savitri.