Sri Aurobindo was an Indian rebel born in the late 1800’s. He was wanted by the authorities of the time for acting out against British rule. He was eventually captured and while imprisoned for several years he had a spiritual experience which led to him reaching heightened states of awareness. On his release he formed an ashram in the city of Pondicherry. His home became a refuge to those who needed it. He wrote hundreds of books and gave discourse daily until his passing in the 1950s.
It was this home we visited yesterday in the very quaint city of Pondicherry. Hundreds of visitors every day come from the curious tourist like us to the devoted believers. It's a silent ashram which I so respect as it forces the enquiring Mind to switch off, allowing the senses of smell, sight and sound to become more heightened. I sat still in the serene garden observing the winds effect on the trees. Watched the native squirrels dance around the sunflowers looking for seeds. Difficult to do if engaged in conversation.
This made me appreciate the code of silence that is to be respected within the yoga schools. They too are ashrams for like-minded souls to gather. A place to curb the desire to feed the chattering mind and observe other senses. Just by doing this much alone we begin the practice of meditation, an inward journey.
Aurobindo was placed in prison for his wrong acts against the British rule. Prison is not unlike an ashram. A silent refuge. A disciplined life in waking, sleeping and eating. A chance to observe the mind and its fluctuations. Under this environment he reached a state of nirvana.
Prisons and ashrams very similar, the only difference is, with one you have the key.