Synthesis of Yoga

Introduction The Synthesis of Yoga (Copyright 1973, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust) is a work by Sri Aurobindo which grew out of a journal he wrote between 1914 and 1921, titled "Arya." The writing that went into the Arya resulted in a number of his major works, including Essays on the Gita, The Life Divine, and The Synthesis of Yoga.

Synthesis is divided into four parts (plus an introduction): the Yoga of Works, of Knowledge, of Love, and of Perfection. The first three correspond to the divisions of yoga familiar to many from the Bhagavad Gita; the last section gives Sri Aurobindo's extension of these paths. This book is, in my estimation, the most important work on yoga ever written. It is also long and difficult (79 chapters, 872 pages.)

In 1994 two friends and I began to meet regularly to discuss Synthesis. To help our discussions, I began writing logical outlines of the ideas in each chapter or group of chapters.

Actually, the project was an extension of work I did in 1981, at the California Institute of Asian Studies in San Francisco. I approached Richard Stein, who was teaching at the Institute, with the proposal that the two of us spend a semester on Synthesis, reading several chapters each week. Each week I would write an outline. He agreed, and that winter I studied the book with Richard, reading and writing almost every day.

At the end of that period I wrote an essay,A View of the Heights. in which I tried to sum up my current understanding of Synthesis.

The outlines are intended to be succinct, logical, and aphoristic, not extended or explanatory. Much of their content may be obscure unless one is familiar with Sri Aurobindo's vocabulary or thought. The number before each paragraph signifies the logical place of that paragraph. The main sections are numbered 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and development of the ideas are numbered 1.1, 2.1, etc.

For more information on Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and the communities around the world where people attempt to further this yoga, see the online archive Miraura.