This work is Sri Aurobindo's diary of his yogic practice between 1909 and 1927. Presented in two volumes, the record of sadhana has fairly regular entries between 1912 and 1920 and a few entries in 1909, 1911, and 1927. It also contains related materials Sri Aurobindo wrote about his practice of yoga during this period, including descriptions of the seven chatusthayas (groups of four elements), which are the basis of the yoga of the Record.
NOTE: The complete text of Record of Yoga was brought out serially in the "Sri Aurobindo Archives and Research" journal. This is the first time that it has been brought out in book form (in both soft and hard cover). This material did not appear in the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library (SABCL) set. Those who already have the SABCL set of 30 volumes may prefer procuring the hard cover editions as they are bound in cloth, light cream in colour, with PVC jacket and match the colour and binding of the SABCL set. However the size (14cm x 22cm) is smaller than the SABCL volumes.
In writing his diary Sri Aurobindo used a special terminology which included words from Sanskrit and other languages, as well as abbreviations, symbols and markings.
UNKNOWN ASPECTS OF A SAGA OF ADVENTURE
Sri Aurobindo's Record of Yoga, Volumes 1 & 2
Once Sri Aurobindo told an admirer who proposed to write his biography that there was nothing on the surface of his life for one to write about him. This despite the fact that volumes could be written even on the purely external events marking his tumultuous life till the first decade of the twentieth century — his brilliant academic career in England, his return to India and secretly but steadily working for a radical orientation of the freedom movement resulting in the historic split of the Indian National Congress at its Surat session (1907), his stewardship of the National College at Calcutta, his editing the Bande Mataram, the herald of freedom, his activities that made the historian of the Congress, Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya write, "Aurobindo's genius shot up like a meteor. He was on the high sky only for a time. He flooded the land from Cape to Mount with effulgence of his light", his incarceration in connection with the Alipore Conspiracy Case and the famous statement of Deshbandhu C. R. Das describing him as the Poet of patriotism, Prophet of Nationalism and the Lover of Humanity, his disappearance from British India despite continuous surveillance on him, the consequent debate on the issue in the House of Commons, so on and so forth.
Till recently we understood — and we were not mistaken in doing so — that for Sri Aurobindo his real life was the inner life, his Yoga and his struggles and achievements in the occult world. From his works like The Life Divine or Savitri a sensitive reader could feel and be overwhelmed with the feeling of the unfathomable askesis he had gone through. Some glimpses of his experience could be had from his numerous letters to his disciples as well. But we realize how insufficient our idea of his inner life was when we read the two volumes under notice, Record of Yoga. If he had not been inspired to publish in the Arya, in which so many of his major works were serialized, the incredible experiments he had been making in the laboratory of his consciousness of which we now come to know from these hitherto unpublished records, the tremendous strides in the occult realm he had taken which, to the best of our knowledge, had never been taken in the history of mystic adventures, the reasons, as this author feels, could be two. First, his innate humility and second, probably he sensed that it was futile to describe matters that were simply beyond anybody's comprehension.
Nevertheless, he had scribbled on papers, obviously for his own personal need to refer to them at some point of time, his Yogic experiences between 1909 (months before coming to Pondicherry) and 1927. Published at last, these writings reveal to us an unknown dimension of Sri Aurobindo's Yogic life. As the Publisher's Note informs us, "Sri Aurobindo wrote the diary and the related materials by hand in various notebooks and on loose sheets of paper. He used a special terminology which included words from Sanskrit and other languages, as well as abbreviations, symbols and markings, some of which are difficult to represent in a printed book."
A glossary under preparation explaining the special terminology used by Sri Aurobindo should be of much help, yet much of the text will defy our understanding. Nevertheless, the mind-boggling images he puts down cannot but inspire in us a sense of awe; it would reveal how even way back in 1909, amid his political routine activities of the time, he could be in a state of consciousness that was as distant from his external actions as the nub of the earth was from its surface. Here are a few words from the diary of 18 June 1909 recording what he was experiencing on a steamer to Barisal: "Tratak of sun. Blue sukshma image of sun elliptical in shape. Pattern of bloodred curves of yellowish background. Violet sword. Bloodred sword. Voices rise from chitta to brain..." (Mark the free use of Sanskrit terms — probably partly because the English equivalents were difficult to find and partly because the records were for himself.)
Even though the significance of most of his experiments and experiences would elude us, we can form an idea as to how a Mahayogi can live at different planes simultaneously. But the diary is surely not without factual information. It tells us what Sri Aurobindo himself considered to be the starting point of his Yoga. He writes on the 1st of July 1912, "August, 1912, will complete the seventh year of my practice of Yoga."
Those who wonder about his uncanny mastery of the English prose (poetry apart), may find some clue to the mystery in this entry of 1st February 1912: "The sahitya begins to extend itself to all types of prose, with freedom of flow and perfection of type but not yet rapidity of flow or perfection in every detail. The silence of the divine element in vani & script was broken & the siddhi moves swiftly. Saundarya bodha has been made finally the natural view of the mind & indriyas, only faint relics of the asundaram remaining in the physical consciousness."
Besides the numerous hints of his voyage across the seas of consciousness, there are two items which are recorded at some length. One is Sapta chatusthaya or seven retrads of Sadhana — a programme he "was given". The other one is Yogic Sadhan, a work that resulted from the automatic writing Sri Aurobindo used to practise during his early phase of Yoga, originally published as a small book in 1911, under the pseudonym Uttara Yogi.
Going through even some of these pages — 1515 in all in two volumes — one remembers the experience of the Vedic Rishis when they speak of their fight with the Dasyus, and of numerous Siddhis and stages of Tapasya one reads about in the Yogic lores. Several of the enigmatic phrases of the mystic vocabulary get explained spontaneously and the horizon of our knowledge of the world of consciousness goes on expanding. One can appreciate better the words of the Mother inscribed on the Samadhi of the Master; indeed, one can have some idea of how much he had worked on his body, how much he had struggled, suffered, hoped, endured, willed, attempted, prepared and achieved for us. — Manoj Das