BOOKS serve to stimulate our intellectual capacities and often to touch our deeper feelings. While reading we can experience a widening of the mind, a new opening in the heart, or a moment of psychic recognition. Not all books achieve these possibilities, but such an aspiration is often present and can make the reading experience a vehicle for progress and growth of consciousness.

The new books introduced in this issue have a broad appeal. The first is a reverent look at the Service tree that spreads its branches over the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The recollections of sadhaks who have worked in some connection to the Service tree, the poems written in homage to its inspirational presence, the paintings and photographs that capture its varied beauty through the day and the changing seasons—all these come together in the book Homage to the Service Tree. On page 31 there is a short entry by Richard Pearson titled “Why the Tree was Planted” that captures the tone of the book:

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The Service tree with branches spread over the Samadhi
The “Salon” is the name given to that green-carpeted room we pass through after coming down from the Mother’s room, before proceeding to Sri Aurobindo’s room on the 21st February.

It is in that room that Sri Aurobindo worked during the thirties.

During those early days the Mother decided to plant a tree to give shade to the Lord as he wrote on hot afternoons with the sun coming in from the west. And it is to the flowers of this tree that she gave the doubly significant name: Service.

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The Service tree in full bloom

The next book is Savitri: The Golden Bridge, the Wonderful Fire, an introduction to Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem by the noted scholar and lecturer Mangesh V. Nadkarni. This series of articles was written for the e-journal Next Future and the author’s approach here is very similar to that of his well-attended study camps on Savitri. The aim is to give the reader a rounded experience of the poem: a basic understanding of its meaning and structure, a note on its context in relation to the legend from the Mahabharata, an exploration of themes consonant with Sri Aurobindo’s other major works, and a shared wonder at its poetic power and beauty. The series ended with the passing of Dr Nadkarni in 2007. The last installment published describes the first part of Book XI, Savitri’s plea that the divine boons offered to her be granted instead for earth and all the men and women living on it. Here is a passage from that article:
Unlike Yama in Vyasa’s Mahabharata story, the God of Death in Sri Aurobindo’s legend is the quintessential Adversary. His aim is to thwart Savitri’s enterprise. So, as we have seen, he keeps opposing Savitri with all his power and with all the intellectual resources he can muster. But he is finally vanquished by Savitri, and he disappears and his place is taken by the enchanting figure of the Supreme God. When arguments and persuasion fail to have any effect on Savitri, he tries to win her over to his side by offering these four boons we have discussed in this chapter.…In the Mahabharata story, it is Yama’s feeling that Savitri might go back satisfied with what he has to offer her as his boons. Besides, he genuinely likes her and admires her for her learning and her virtuousness and for her understanding of Dharma. He wouldn’t like to send her back empty-handed. But in Sri Aurobindo’s legend, these boons represent one last attempt to persuade Savitri to give up her commitment to earth and to bringing Divine perfection to it.

Chapters 48 and 49 are transcripts of talks given in 2002 and 2003 that summarise Books XI and XII and give a succinct overview of the entire poem, thus rounding off the introduction that Dr Nadkarni could not finish for the Next Future series.

The third book, Integral Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo by Aparna Banerjee, is a collection of essays that bring into focus some of the important themes in the socio-political thought and philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. The author shows that Sri Aurobindo’s commitment to human freedom and his conviction of an inevitable human unity are consistently reflected in his writings on subjects such as the evolution of the human mind and the social and political structures that develop as part of that evolution, the emergence of the latent faculties in students as the primary focus of education, and the necessity of a radical transformation of man’s nature as the only way to solve his ethical conflicts and achieve progress towards a genuine human unity.



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ENGLISH

coverHomage to the Service Tree

Recollections, Poems, Paintings and Photographs in Homage to the Service Tree beside the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
— Essays by various authors
ISBN: 978-81-7058-987-7
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry
Binding: Hard Cover
Pages: 73
Price: Rs 525

A reverent tribute to the Service tree that stands beside the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, this book chronicles the history of how the tree was planted in 1930, its luxuriant growth under the care of the Mother and various Ashram gardeners, and how it weathered several severe storms. Photographs, paintings, personal reminiscences, and poems create for the reader an atmosphere of devotion and service, for which the tree stands as a constant symbol and remembrance.

coverSavitri: The Golden Bridge, the Wonderful Fire

An Introduction to Sri Aurobindo's epic
— Mangesh V. Nadkarni
ISBN: 978-81-903346-8-6
Publisher: Savitri Bhavan, Auroville
Binding: Hard Cover
Pages: 601
Price: Rs 350

Almost all of these essays on Savitri were first published as monthly instalments in the e-journal Next Future. Dr Nadkarni’s approach has been to acclimatise the reader to the experience of reading Savitri by introducing, canto by canto through each book, selected passages that mark important milestones in the poem. His presentation combines an appreciation of the beauty and mantric power of Sri Aurobindo’s poetry, a discourse that highlights the departures made by Sri Aurobindo from the tale recounted by Vyasa in the Mahabharata in order to emphasise the story’s deeper symbolic meaning, and an exploration of some of the themes running through the poem that are central to Sri Aurobindo’s vision and teachings. The last two essays are transcripts of talks that summarise Books XI and XII and give a succinct overview of the entire poem.

coverIntegral Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo

— Aparna Banerjee
ISBN: 978-81-86921-57-9
Publisher: Decent Books, New Delhi, in association with Centre for Sri Aurobindo Studies, Kolkata
Binding: Hard Cover
Pages: 152
Price: Rs 300

This collection of scholarly essays seeks to interpret and elucidate several aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s socio-political philosophy, particularly in regard to nationalism, the ideal of human relations, the concept of a stateless society, and an achievable human unity. Other subjects include the relationship between yoga and knowledge – scientific knowledge versus the inner knowledge by identity of consciousness – and Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy of education, specifically within the context of some debates about the aim of education. The unifying thread in these studies is the integral nature of Sri Aurobindo’s thought and his emphasis on the evolution of consciousness as central to understanding man’s quest for freedom and unity.

coverWhat is True Hinduism

Indian Culture and Religion
— Compilation from the Works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
ISBN: 978-81-7060-327-6
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages: 42
Price: Rs 30

FRENCH

coverLe Yoga de la Bhagavad Gita

Traduction commentée
— Sri Aurobindo
ISBN: 978-81-7058-846-7
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages: 386
Price: Rs 375

Le Yoga de la Bhagavad Gîtâ, présenté par Philipe B. Saint-Hilaire (Pavitra), avec, en introduction, des extraits des premiers chapitres des Essais sur la Gîtâ de Sri Aurobindo, est un livre important pour tous ceux qui veulent découvrir ou redécouvrir, non seulement l’un des textes les plus riches et les plus beaux de la littérature spirituelle de l’Inde, mais aussi ce qui constitue les fondements du Yoga intégral de Sri Aurobindo.

La Gîtâ met en scène le dialogue entre Arjuna, l’homme le plus héroïque et le plus représentatif de l’idéal de son temps, et Shri Krishna, son aurige et le Divin incarné sur le « champ de bataille de la vie ». C’est là, au cœur d’une guerre fratricide, qu’Arjuna se trouve confronté à une épreuve qui va bouleverser les fondements mêmes de sa foi, de son action et de sa vie. Et c’est là aussi que Shrî Krishna lui révélera le « Suprême Secret ».

Ce dialogue répond à nos propres interrogations en ce début de siècle où émergent, une fois de plus, une nouvelle vision du monde et une nouvelle étape dans l’« évolution spirituelle de l’humanité ».

HINDI

coverIshopanishad

— Sri Aravind
ISBN: 978-81-7058-873-3
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages: 136
Price: Rs 75

Hindi translation of Isha Upanishad

This book contains Sri Aurobindo's final translation and analysis of the Isha Upanishad. In his definitive commentary on this important Vedantic scripture, he presents its central idea, which is a reconciliation and harmony of fundamental opposites, and shows how in its verses one can discover the resolution of such "pairs of opposites" such as God and Nature, renunciation and enjoyment, action and freedom, the active and inactive Brahman, and works and knowledge.

coverPahale ki Baten

— Sri Mataji
ISBN: 978-81-7058-969-3
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages: 422
Price: Rs 195

Hindi translation of Words of Long Ago (volume 2 of the Collected Works of the Mother)

BENGALI

coverMriter Kathopakathan

— Nolini Kanta Gupta
Publisher: Srinvantu Spiritual Trust, Kolkata
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages: 114
Price: Rs 25

These imagined conversations between famous historical figures, such as Akbar and Aurangzab, Chandragupta and Asoka, and Buddha, Lao-Tze and Kung-fu-tze, are in the nature of debates on the ideals espoused by each during their lifetimes. Sri Aurobindo wrote the first five in English, Sister Nivedita the second three in English, and these have been translated into Bengali by Nolini Kanta Gupta. The remaining thirteen conversations were written by Nolini Kanta Gupta.

coverSri Mayer Dibya Sannidhye

— Shobha Mitra
ISBN: 978-81-86413-56-2
Publisher: Sri Mira Trust, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages: 197
Price: Rs 100

coverSri Aurobinder Sadhanaye Samata

— Debabrata Majumdar
ISBN: 978-81-7060-323-8
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages: 80
Price: Rs 15

TELUGU

coverPantulugari Smrityanjali

— Prachurithamina Sri Aravindula konni rachanalu
Publisher: Suniti Pantulu, Pondicherry
Binding: Soft Cover
Pages: 156
Price: Rs 75



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