Six Pillars

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Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was one of the great twentieth-century figures of India. Over the course of his lifetime, he helped India’s struggle for freedom and became a leading yogi, philosopher, and poet of his time and culture. In his teaching, Sri Aurobindo went well beyond Eastern philosophy and religion, synthesizing it with Western traditions, even spending two years of his youth at Loreto Convent in Darjeeling, West Bengal.

In 1879, Aurobindo and his two elder brothers were taken to Manchester, England for a European education and placed in the care of Rev. Drewett, an Anglican clergy, and his wife. In 1884, Aurobindo joined St. Paul’s School, where he learned Greek and Latin and spent three years studying literature, especially English poetry.

By 1910, Sri Aurobindo’s focus was directed entirely toward spirituality, and he settled in Pondicherry, India, where he taught, wrote, and published his greatest works. His spiritual vision extended beyond the perfection and transformation of the individual to include the evolution and transformation of human society. According to his teaching, a true solution to humanity’s problems arises from a radical transformation of human life into a form of divine existence.

“The one aim of [my] yoga is an inner self-development by which each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self in all and evolve a higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform and divinize human nature.” —Sri Aurobindo

For everyone interested in the philosophical and spiritual vision of the great Indian thinker Sri Aurobindo, the revolutionary turned yogi, this outstanding collection of masterly introductions, first published in 1974, offers original reflections and interpretations of Sri Aurobindo’s six major works, all written by distinguished scholars of religion and philosophy rather than devotees. Long out of print and difficult to find, Six Pillars is again available for contemporary readers.


Foreword by Ursula King

John Collins: “Savitri: Poetic Expression of Spiritual Experience”

Thomas Berry: “The Foundations of Indian Culture: its Contemporary Significance”

Thomas J. Hopkins: “The Vision of the Purushottama in Essays on the Gita”

J. Bruce Long: “A New Yoga for a New Age: A Critical Introduction to The Synthesis of Yoga”

Eugene Fontinell: “A Pragmatic Approach to the Human Cycle”

Robert McDermott: “The Life Divine: Sri Aurobindo’s Philosophy of Evolution and Transformation”

Introductions to the Major Works of Sri Aurobindo provides readers with a portal into the thinking of one of India’s greatest figures of past century.

“Aurobindo, the revolutionary turned yogi, was a puzzle to his contemporaries and remained one to later generations. This is probably still true today. But puzzles are there to be solved. These essays can help to do that. They dissolve some of the enigmas that surround Sri Aurobindo, even though not answering all our questions. They provide much substance for thought and further discussion, and invite us to gain a deeper familiarity with one of the great minds of modern India, whose inspiring spiritual message can transform one’s life and help to change the world.” —Ursula King (from the foreword)

About the Author

Robert McDermott, Ph.D., is president emeritus and chair of the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). His publications include Radhakrishnan (1970); The Essential Aurobindo (1974, 1987); The Essential Steiner (1984); (with Rudolf Steiner) The Bhagavad Gita and the West (2009); and The New Essential Steiner (2009). He has also published on William James, Josiah Royce, M. K. Gandhi, the evolution of consciousness, and American thought. His administrative service includes president of the New York Center for Anthroposophy; president of the Rudolf Steiner [summer] Institute; chair of the board of Sunbridge College (New York) and of Rudolf Steiner College (California). He was a member of the council of the Anthroposophical Society in America (1996–2004). He is the founding chair of the board of the Sophia Project, an anthroposophic home in Oakland, California, for mothers and children at risk of homelessness. He is a Lindisfarne fellow, a Fetzer mentor, and a member of the Esalen Corportion.

Additional information

Weight 11 oz
Dimensions 5.5 × .5 × 8.5 in


Ursula King




May 2012






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