• Math. and Spirituality
  • Freewill and Karma
  • All about Reincarnation
  • The Pinnacle of Religion
  • Buddhism and the Gita
  • Shri Aurobindo
  • Spiritual Techniques
  • We're all Crack Pots
  • The Day of the Lord
  • 13 Beautiful Stories
  • Essay and Short Stories

    Shri Aurobindo


    Abstract: “Essays on the Gita” by Sri Aurobindo has been revisited with the purpose of gaining a sound understanding of the real nature of the human personality and its development.  Desirelessness, egolessness and equality lead one to impersonality, the concept signifying liberation and perfection.  More the personality is transcended, the more one moves towards impersonality and consequently to liberation.  Self experience, intuition, and self revelation gained through Yoga  lead one to this state.    The role of yoga in attaining impersonality has been highlighted by Aurobindo in his book.


    Key Words: Personality, impersonality, self experience, self revelation.


    Sri Aurobindo on Personality in the light of the Gita

    Prepared by

    S. R. Jayaswal




                 “Essays on the Gita” by Sri Aurobindo was first published in 1921-22.  According to the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo considers the message of the Gita to be the basis of the great spiritual movement which has lead and will lead humanity more and more towards its liberation, the is to say, to its escape from falsehood and ignorance, towards the Truth.



                   From the time of its first appearance, the Gita has had an immense spiritual action; but with the new interpretation (Essays on the Gita) that Sri Aurobindo has given to it, its influence has increased considerably and has become much more decisive.  It is my view that this book is a perennial source of inspiration for those who are deeply engaged in the practice of yoga and wish to understand the real nature of human personality and its development in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s publication.


                   The yogic personality is developed by getting rid of desire, and it is possible to get rid of desire when we put an  end to the source and cause of desire.  Our senses rush towards objects of enjoyment.  It is, therefore, necessary to withdraw our senses from those objects which give them enjoyment.  Just as a tortoise draws in its limb, we should draw our senses from the objects of enjoyment. Just as a tortoise draws in its limb, we should draw our senses from the objects of enjoyment.  In other words, self-control and self-discipline help in the development of harmonious personality.


                In another context, Sri Aurobindo refers to expulsion of all desires so that they do not disturb the mind.  When the mind remains quiet and is not affected by storm and stress of outer life, it becomes possible to experience the delight within and also develop a notion of equality.  In the words of Sri Aurobindo, “Equality is the great stamp of the liberated soul. Once we are possessed of the Self, we are in possession of all things.” (p. 95)


    But our ego creates difficulties “Egoism is the knot of the bondage.  By acting Godwards, without any thought of ego, we loosen this knot and finally arrive at freedom.” (p.104).  To become egoless is necessary for freedom from all desires.  In this context, Sri Aurobindo uses the term “impersonality”.


    Development of Impersonality


    Awareness of self within and self in others, leads us towards “something higher than the ego, an infinite, an impersonal, an universal existence….. In other words, man’s way to liberation and perfection lies through an increasing impersonality…The liberation given by this perfect impersonality is real, is complete, is indispensable….” (p.121,123).


             Actually ego and personality are one and the same.  To become egoless by desirelessness helps in the development of impersonality.  For Sri Aurobindo, the development of impersonality is more important than the development of personality which is full of lower and egoistic cravings.  To discover the true Self is essential for the development of impersonality.


            There are certain signs which are indicative of the development of impersonality.  These are:


    • Absence of the personal egoism; 
    • Freedom from desire;
    • Being conscious of an impersonal force of Love or will;
    • Perfect equality in the soul and nature (p.171-172);
    • Fullness of inner joy and peace.


    The role of Yoga


           According to Sri Aurobindo, “Yoga and knowledge are the two wings of the soul’s ascent.”(p.191). He states, “By yoga is meant union through divine works done without desire, with equality of soul to all things and all men, as a sacrifice to the Supreme while knowledge is that on which this desirelessness, this equality, this power of sacrifices is founded.” (p.191).


          Thus desirelesness and equality are essential aspects of Yoga and they have their foundation in knowledge, which is not mental or intellectual, but “a luminous growth into the highest state of being….” (P.192).  In other words, this knowledge is acquired by self-experience, intuition, and self-revelation and not by the senses and the intellectual reasoning.  Further it has been emphasized that with faith or Shraddhaa, Yoga, and knowledge, one may develop a spiritual personality, and master the lower self by the higher, the natural self by the spiritual. 


          In the context of the Kshara and Akshara it has been stated in the Gita and explained by Sri Aurobindo that when the soul of man takes the poise of Kshara, it identifies itself with the play of personality, and clouds its Self-knowledge with ego-sense and thinks himself as doer of works.


          Under the poise of Akshara, the identification is with the impersonal and witness-consciousness comes into play.  “The mind of man has to tend to one of these poises, it takes them as alternatives, it is bound by Nature to action in the mutations of quality and personality, or it is free from her working in immutable impersonality.”(P219).


          The role of Yoga in the development of human personality is to enable us to gain spiritual experience by passing beyond the mental level.  We have to be liberated from the imperfections of our present nature, and live the life of a divine being by means of Yoga. In other words, development from ordinary personality into a spiritual impersonality is made possible through Yoga only.


    The Concept of Swabhaava      


         It is true that in Indian psychological thought the term personality has not been used.  Instead the concept of Swabhaava covers all aspects of personality.  Swabhaava is the essential quality.  It is that speed of spirit which manifests itself as the essential quality in all becoming.  “Dharma, says the Gita, is action governed by Swabhaava, the essential law of one’s nature.  And this Swabhaava is at its core the pure quality of the spirit in its inherent power of conscious Will, and in its characteristic force of action.” (p.263).


        In his “Essays on the Gita” Sri Aurobindo used the term “spiritual personality” too.  According to him “We have before us three powers, the Purushottama as the Supreme truth into which we have to grow, the Self and the Jiva.  Or as we may put it, there is the Supreme, there is the impersonal spirit, and there is the multiple soul, timeless foundation of our spiritual personality, the true and eternal individual….All these three are divine, all three are the Divine.  The supreme spiritual nature of being, the Para Prakriti, free from any limitation by the conditioning ignorance, is the nature of Purushottama.  In the impersonal self there is the same divine nature, but there it is in its state of eternal rest, equilibrium, inactivity, Nivriti.  Finally for activity, for Pravriti, the Para Prakriti becomes spiritual personality, the Jiva.” (p. 265).  Due to this, the spiritual quality in the Jiva may find expression.  The spiritual power behind this spiritual quality in the Jiva is essentially the basis for the Swabhaava of Jiva.  Whatever is done, all types of action proceed from this spiritual power or force.  Whatever is done, all types of action proceed from this spiritual power or force.  When an individual realizes this truth by Yogic Sadhana, he is inevitably led to the development of his true spiritual personality whose all actions are the expression of the supernal power.  In other words, an individual who has developed impersonality or attained spiritual personality becomes an instrument of the Divine and loses all sense of doership.  With this spiritual consciousness, all life becomes Yoga.  With the help of Yoga, an individual may achieve egolessness and desirelessness, without which the development of impersonality is not possible.  So long as the liberation from the bondage of mind and ego is there, development of spiritual personality is held up.


                Thus, the role of yoga in the development of impersonality or spiritual personality has been well explained by Sri Aurobindo in his classic work, the “Essays on the Gita.”




    Sri Aurobindo (1942). Essays on the Gita (Vol. 13), Calcutta, Arya Publishing House, College Street.