by Peter Heehs
“Many people think of Sri Aurobindo as a Hindu, but he looked upon himself as a member of the Hindu religion for only around twelve of his seventy-eight years. His attitude towards religion in general and Hinduism in particular changed dramatically over the course of his life. At first an agnostic, he became interested in what we would now call Hindu culture (notably the Upanishads, the epics, and the Bhagavad Gita) towards the close of the nineteenth century. For a while this interest was so strong that he spoke of himself as a Hindu, but he never took part in conventional Hindu worship or observed Hindu social practices. During his political career, he made use of Hindu terminology and symbols, but rejected Hindu nationalism. After taking up yoga, he continued to draw inspiration from Hindu scriptural sources, but ceased to identify himself as a Hindu. He insisted that his path of yoga was not a religion, and wrote critically about conventional Hinduism. Yet he remained open to the spiritual possibilities offered by sincere religious practices, and did not prevent his followers from incorporating such practices in their lives.”
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