While the Bhagavad Gita provides a strong foundation for the spiritual practice of the Integral Yoga, it was developed within a context of time, place and circumstance that brought it to a certain stage of human evolution and potential. Today, the teachings of the Gita remain relevant, but do not provide the ultimate answers as to the evolutionary process and the role of the human individual within that process. Sri Aurobindo shows that the ancient sages had glimpses and indications of the further steps in the process, but did not focus on them or develop them in their fullness at the time. The Integral Yoga therefore provides new lines of development beyond those set forth in the Gita, and explores the human potential within the broader evolution of consciousness that Sri Aurobindo has outlined.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is not a fact that the Gita gives the whole base of Sri Aurobindo’s message; for the Gita seems to admit the cessation of birth in the world as the ultimate aim or at least the ultimate culmination of yoga; it does not bring forward the idea of spiritual evolution or the idea of the higher planes and the supramental Truth-Consciousness and the bringing down of that consciousness as the means of the complete transformation of earthly life.”

“The idea of the supermind, the Truth-Consciousness is there in the Rig Veda according to Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation and in one or two passages of the Upanishads, but in the Upanishads it is there only in seed in the conception of the being of knowledge, vijnanamaya purusha, exceeding the mental, vital and physical being; in the Rig Veda the idea is there but in principle only, it is not developed and even the principle of it has disappeared from the Hindu tradition.”

“It is these things among others that constitute the novelty of Sri Aurobindo’s message as compared with the Hindu tradition — the idea that the world is not either a creation of Maya or only a play, lila, of the Divine, or a cycle of births in the ignorance from which we have to escape, but a field of manifestation in which there is a progressive evolution of the soul and the nature in Matter and from Matter through Life and Mind to what is beyond Mind till it reaches the complete revelation of Sachchidananda in life. It is this that is the basis of the yoga and gives a new sense to life.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Integral Yoga and Other Systems of Yoga and Philosophy, pp.28-29

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying the writings of Sri Aurobindo since 1971 and is the author of a daily blog focused on this study at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com He is author of 16 books on the subject, as well as being editor-in-chief at Lotus Press and President of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.