Sri Aurobindo’s writings occupy more than thirty volumes in the still unfinished Complete Works edition. Essential Writings of Sri Aurobindo is the best one-volume anthology of these works, providing a comprehensive overview of the writings of one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. The selections are arranged in six parts, the first five of which cover nationalist politics, the Indian tradition, history and society, metaphysical philosophy, and yoga. The last part comprises a generous selection of Aurobindo’s poetry. Each part is introduced by a brief note, and a twenty-page essay introduces the book as a whole.
Scholar, poet, political and revolutionary leader, philosopher and social theorist, yogi and spiritual leader, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) is one of the most important figures of twentieth-century India. This is a selection from his major works as well as letters and some lesser-known pieces. It includes writings covering more than fifty years (1893–1950) of his life. There is also a general introduction giving an overview of Sri Aurobindo’s life and works, as well as an extensive critical apparatus. As the only collection of Sri Aurobindo’s writings that gives a balanced coverage of the different phases and aspects of his concerns, this volume will interest students of Indian history, philosophy and literature, as well as spiritual seekers.
These selections taken together form a kind of story of the evolution of Aurobindo’s life and philosophical mission, of the growth of a powerfully articulated system of thought. His range was astonishingly wide and his power of absorption, criticism and exposition truly superhuman, especially in the last decisive and creative phase. . . . This collection of writings is not merely representative and comprehensive but reveals to its readers the truths of existence as they unfold from the mind of a true seer of our times.
The Hindu (Chennai)
In this compilation by Peter Heehs we are treated, at long last, to a manageable collection covering all subjects or aspects of Aurobindo’s work, including his poetry. . . . Peter Heehs is the author of Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography . . . where he shows himself the consummate summarizer of Sri Aurobindo for a general audience. In this volume, one of course hears better Aurobindo’s own voice. But it is much easier to understand the mystic findings and reasonings within the format that Heehs provides than to wade in undirected and on one’s own. . . . It is convenient to be able to approach the important thinker without toiling through hundreds of pages and a dozen books. Again it is fortunate that now we have easily accessible other areas of Aurobindo’s oeuvre, supplementing the anthologized philosophical tracts.
Stephen H. Phillips, in The Journal of Asian Studies