Philosophical Review was a 64-page monthly periodical written by Sri
Aurobindo and published in India between 1914 and 1921. The majority of
the material which initially appeared in the Arya was later edited and
published in book-form as The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The
Secret of the Veda, The Foundations of Indian Culture and The Ideal of
Human Unity as well as a number of translations of Vedic literature.
The Arya was
conceived as a joint venture of Sri Aurobindo and Paul Richard, a French
national residing at Pondicherry, in the spring of 1914. Sri Aurobindo
remarked on more than one occasion that, though he was not adverse to
the idea, it was Richard who initially proposed the project of
publishing a journal. In a letter to Dilip Kumar Roy dated September 4,
1934, he wrote:
precious little about philosophy before I did the Yoga and came to
Pondicherry — I was a poet and a politician, not a philosopher! How
I managed to do it? First, because Richard proposed to me to
co-operate in a philosophical review — and as my theory was that a
Yogi ought to be able to turn his hand to anything, I could not very
It was clear to
Sri Aurobindo that the proposed journal would represent a medium through
which he could give voice to his still-emerging philosophy – both in
India and abroad. In a letter to Motilal Roy from June 1914, he wrote:
takes the form of a new philosophical review with Richard and myself
as Editors — the Arya, which is to be brought out in French and
English, two separate editions, — one for France, one for India,
England and America. In this Review my new theory of the Veda will
appear as also translation and explanation of the Upanishads, a
series of essays giving my system of Yoga and a book of Vedantic
philosophy (not Shankara's but Vedic Vedanta) giving the Upanishadic
foundations of my theory of the ideal life towards which humanity
must move. You will see so far as my share is concerned, it will be
the intellectual side of my work for the world.
Although it is
unknown who was responsible for the choice of Arya as the title of the
journal, Sri Aurobindo explained what he understood the term to
represent. In the second issue (September, 1914), he composed an article
entitled Arya: Its Significance in which he set forth the meaning of the
term as he intended it. He wrote:
in its most fundamental sense, arya means an effort or an uprising
and overcoming. The Aryan is he who strives and overcomes all
outside him and within him that stands opposed to the human advance.
Self-conquest is the first law of his nature. He overcomes earth and
the body and does not consent like ordinary men to their dullness,
inertia, dead routine and tamasic limitations. He overcomes life and
its energies and refuses to be dominated by their hungers and
cravings or enslaved by their rajasic passions. He overcomes the
mind and its habits, he does not live in a shell of ignorance,
inherited prejudices, customary ideas, pleasant opinions, but knows
how to seek and choose, to be large and flexible in intelligence
even as he is firm and strong in his will. For in everything he
seeks truth, in everything right, in everything height and
The Arya was
advertised as "a review of pure philosophy" with a twofold object:
study of the highest problems of existence.
of a synthesis of knowledge, harmonizing the diverse religious
traditions of humanity, occidental as well as oriental.
The method of the
review was described as one of "realism, at once rational and
transcendental; a realism consisting in the unification of intellectual
and scientific discipline with those of intuitive experimentation."
The material appearing in the Arya was organized under four main
studies in speculative philosophy.
and commentaries of ancient texts.
methods of inner culture and self development.
Aurobindo and Richard had planned to share the work of writing and
editing the material which was to appear in the journal, Richard was
ordered by the French Government to leave Pondicherry and return to
France in the middle of 1915. As a result, the French edition of the
journal (Revue de Grande Synthèse) was discontinued after only seven
issues. Subscriptions for Arya had been sold prior to publication,
and Sri Aurobindo was left with the task of completing the outstanding
issues. As he remarked in 1934:
[...] And then
he [Richard] had to go to the war and left me in the lurch with 64
pages a month of philosophy all to write by my lonely self...
three contributions made by Richard to the journal (The Wherefore of the
Worlds, The Eternal Wisdom and the short Sons of Heaven; see below), the
bulk of the remainder was composed by Sri Aurobindo himself.
In 1921, after six
and a half years of uninterrupted publication, Sri Aurobindo
discontinued the Arya. In a private discussion in 1926, he gave his
reasons for this decision:
I stopped the
Arya when I found that I had to put myself out to much — so to say,
externalized too much. The second reason was that I required to be
drawn within myself in order to develop certain experiences, so that
the energy might be used for inward work.
reprinting and distribution
Aurobindo had discontinued its publication, there was an increasing
demand for back issues of the Arya after 1921. This led him to have the
Arya reprinted in seven volumes, preserving the order in which the
articles had originally appeared. The contents of these seven volumes
are as follows:
(August 1914 - July 1915): The Life Divine, Chapter I - XII · The
Wherefore of the Worlds, Chapter I - XI (Paul Richard) · The Secret
of the Veda, Chapter I - XI · Isha Upanishad · Kena Upanishad ·
Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction, Chapter I - VIII · The Eternal
Wisdom (Paul Richard) · Soul of a Plant (author unknown) ·
Question of the Month · The News of the Month · All-Will and
Free-Will · Aphorisms · The Type of the Superman · Review:
Hymns to the Goddess (translated from the Sankrit by Arthur and
Ellen Avalon) · The Doctrine of Taoism (author unknown) · Nammalwar
(with Subramanya Bharathi).
(August 1915 - July 1916): Our Ideal · The Life Divine, Chapter XIII
- XXIV · The Secret of the Veda, Chapter XII - XX · Kena Upanishad ·
The Synthesis of Yoga, Chapter IX - XX · The Eternal Wisdom (Paul
Richard) · The Hymns of the Atris · The Delight of Works ·
Evolution · A Vedic Hymn · The Inconscient · Translations: Love-Mad;
Refuge (both with Subramanya Bharathi) · The Ideal of Human Unity ·
Reviews: South Indian Bronzes; Sanskrit Research · Rebirth · A Hymn
of the Thought-Gods · Passing of War? · Conservation and Progress ·
Thoughts and Glimpses · On Ideals · The Conservative Mind and
Eastern Progress · Yoga and Skill in Works.
(August 1916 - July 1917): The Life Divine, Chapter XXV- XXXV · The
Synthesis of Yoga, Chapter XXI - XXXII · The Psychology of Social
Development · The Eternal Wisdom (Paul Richard) · Essays on the Gita
· The Hymns of the Atris · The Ideal of Human Unity · The God of
the Mystic Wine · Heraclitus · Review: God, the Invisible King.
(August 1917 - July 1918): The Life Divine, Chapter XXXVI - XLVI ·
Essays on the Gita · The Synthesis of Yoga, Chapter XXXIII- XLIV ·
The Eternal Wisdom (Paul Richard) · The Psychology of Social
Development · The Hymns of the Atris · The Ideal of Human Unity ·
Thoughts and Glimpses · The Vedic Fire · Review: About Astrology ·
The Future Poetry · Translation: Sentences from Bhartrihari · The
Arya's Fourth Year.
(August 1918 - July 1919): The Life Divine, Chapter XLVII - LIII ·
Essays on the Gita · The Synthesis of Yoga, Chapter XLV- LVI · The
Renaissance in India · The Future Poetry · The Self-Determination ·
Materialism · Review: The Feast of Youth · The Knowledge of Brahman
· Translation: Sentences from Bhartrihari · Unseen Power · Is India
Civilised? · A Rationalistic Critic on Indian Culture · Indian
Culture and External Influence · Rebirth, Evolution, Heredity ·
Rebirth and Soul Evolution · The Significance of Rebirth · The
Ascending Unity · Involution and Evolution · 1919.
(August 1919 - July 1920): Essays on the Gita · The Synthesis of
Yoga, Chapter LVII LXVIII · A Defence of Indian Culture · The Future
Poetry · The Eternal Wisdom (Paul Richard) · Karma · Karma and
Freedom · Karma, Will and Consequence · Rebirth and Karma · Karma
and Justice · A Vedic Hymn to the Fire · Parasara's Hymns
to the Lord of the Flame · Review: Rupam.
(August 1920 - Jan. 1921): The Synthesis of Yoga, Chapter LXIX -
LXXIII · The Eternal Wisdom (Paul Richard) · Parasara's Hymns to the
Lord of the Flame · After the War · A Defence of Indian Culture ·
The Lines of Karma · Review: Shama'a · Sons of Heaven (Paul Richard)
· Mundaka Upanishad · A Preface on National Education · The Higher
Lines of Karma · Supplement.
^ Documents in
the Life of Sri Aurobindo. Retrieved from: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
^ From an
English translation of the original French prospectus with the title
Our Programme; in Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo. Retrieved
from: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
^ Documents in
the Life of Sri Aurobindo. Retrieved from: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
(1945:234). See also Heehs (2008:261).
titles, unless otherwise noted, were written by Sri Aurobindo.
(1989). The Supramental Manifestation & Other Writings. Twin Lakes:
Lotus Press. ISBN 8-1705-8109-5.
(2008). The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. New York: Columbia University
Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14098-0.
Iyengar, K. R.
Srinivasa (1945). Sri Aurobindo. Calcutta: Arya Publishing House.
Purani, A. B.
(1970). Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo (First Series).
Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
Roy, Dilip Kumar (1952). Sri Aurobindo Came to Me. Pondicherry: Sri
Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
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