Skip to content

The need to translate Sri Aurobindo and the Mother into Arabic by Zackaria Moursi

by on September 4, 2012

Early in the 20th Century, in India, Sri Aurobindo had major experiences that crystallized in a new vision for humanity; at about the same time, the Mother, then living in Paris, had the same vision. They both foresaw, unknown to each other, the dawn of a new consciousness of Oneness unifying man with the entire existence, and changing him into a nobler and higher being, endowed with more knowledge and self-mastery, and thus gradually transforming earthly life to a “Life Divine”. [1] Sri Aurobindo and the Mother met in 1911, and, over more than thirty years, worked together to realize this consciousness and to bring it down to the earth.

Today, early in the 01st Century, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are considered by thousands all over the world to be among the greatest spiritual figures in the history of mankind by; the numbers of those deriving guidance from their teachings steadily on the rise, their works translated into most of the major world languages; and witness books, dissertations, radio stations, songs and videos dedicated to them; and many communities around the globe, most notably among them, the budding international city of Auroville0 in South India, being modeled on their philosophy and teachings. [2] For all these reasons and many more, the translator finds it is time Sri Aurobindo and the Mother should enter the sphere of awareness of the Arabic reader.

We witness today this consciousness of Oneness penetrating, at an ever accelerating pace, the entire globe. The signs of unification are unmistakable, we experience them daily in politics and trade, in technology and science, on the web and other media, in culture and sports, and even in fashion and entertainment. Unexpected ways of living and modes of interaction are dramatically improving the quality of life in the privileged countries of the world. The spreading of this consciousness and positive developments to encompass the entire globe, has become the only hope for saving our world, still besieged by war, environmental degradation, social inequality, famine, fundamentalism and radicalism.

A most efficient antidote for fundamentalism, oppression and violence can be found in Indian thought which has given humanity over millennia the most sublime notions of All-unity and the most vivid examples of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Seeing the Divine everywhere and in all beings, Indian thought has always called for reverence, compassion and gentleness, not only toward other human beings, but toward all forms of animate and inanimate life. The Divine is worshipped in India, not only as the omnipotent Creator, but also as the Mother of the Universe, who not only cares for the smallest of her creations, but also feels them as part of her own being. In this worldview, violence against man, animal or nature would be violence against the Divine Mother herself. The main attitude of Indian thought towards the Divine is not just an attitude of veneration and awe, but also, and foremost, that of love and adoration. Though Sri Aurobindo and the Mother based themselves on Indian thought, they did not stop there: they were equally at home in Western thought, and in a perfect synthesis of both, they fashioned their own sublime vision that aims at realizing heaven on earth.

The teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, referred to as the Integral Yoga, are about a new consciousness and a practical psychology [3] and have nothing to do with religious ideologies, [4] nor with the renunciation of the world nor with occultism. They hold that man is a transitional being evolving to the “beyond man” or “superman”, [5] and that humans are capable of consciously taking part in, and even hastening, their own evolution. These teachings are about transforming the human being into a higher and nobler being, and they maintain that this transformation can be done methodically and without recourse to any occult powers or “miracles”. In the same way science discovers the laws governing the outer working of Nature and uses these laws to change the world, yoga discovers the laws that govern the inner workings of Nature and utilizes them to effect the spiritual transformation of man. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did not conceal the difficulty of their yoga. They maintained that although the transformation of human nature, considered in the past to be impossible, is indeed extremely difficult, it can still be done, with some concrete results, within one human life-span.

The Integral Yoga is a yoga of self-giving to the Divine and requires not only a long preparation and an integral education of the being, but also sincerity, fortitude and one-pointed determination. It is evident that these are matters that cannot be achieved overnight. Fortunately though, their difficulty applies only to the early stages of practice. Many of those who have practiced the Integral Yoga with dedication and long enough, have testified that, in the measure that their nature was transformed, a power, greater than their own, took up the charge of their progress, so that, in advanced stages, the practice became a happy and spontaneous progression from “light to light”, and from “joy to joy”.

The aim of the Integral Yoga, is not an escape from this world to a world of peace and bliss beyond, but rather the transformation of life itself from a life beset with misery, violence, sorrow and pain, to a “Life Divine”. Nor does the Integral Yoga lay down a uniform path for everyone to follow, but teaches each to develop and walk his/her own path guided by his/her own inner Light. It does not promise rewards in this life or in a life hereafter, though rewards, unexpected and undreamt of, are sure to come.

The readers who will appreciate and benefit the most from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are those able to see that Truth has many facets, and who are thus able to accept the validity of views other than their own. This requires from the reader a mind supple and flexible enough to recognize that the same words can carry different shades of meaning depending on their context, and on whether they are meant in a literal, metaphorical or poetical sense.

The works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother do not disclose themselves fully on a first or a hasty reading. One has often to reread some passages and to allow oneself enough time for understanding and assimilating. Reading these works is more like studying a subject by which the learner has first to acquire the fundamentals and the terminology. [6]

The readers that follow this path will experience a noticeable change in their own consciousness, and consequently positive changes in their lives. They will find themselves pursuing their inner quest and journey free from fear and doubt. By slowly discovering the real value of things, they will be able to look with a smile upon many of life problems that had hitherto seemed to them intractable. They will learn to work with greater energy and to derive happiness from whatever they may be doing and great joy from things they did not even notice before. They will discover that they need less material things, and will yet be able to surround themselves with abundance and beauty, and to infuse their lives with serenity and meaning. They will discover that the joy of self giving far outweighs the comforts and joys they used demand from life and others. They will experience how the growing peace and silence within reflects positively on their health, and how they have become capable of avoiding and even healing many of the minor ailments that formerly troubled and upset them. All they will need to do this will be quietude, concentration and trust. And finally, they will be in a far better position to overcome their own weaknesses and resistances, and to understand the meaning of things that happens to them, and to perceive the Grace that is guiding every step of their lives.

When we follow sincerely our own calling and our own path; we arrive one day at the Supreme Truth, though we may have called it by different names and sought after it on different paths. We understand at last that we are all but different facets and manifestations of that One and Multiple Truth, and that we are, therefore, entitled to and capable of realizing it in ourselves and manifesting it in our lives.

Special Issues in translating Sri Aurobindo into Arabic
It is important that the reader acquaints him/herself with a few terms that acquire special meanings in the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother such as: the Divine, Transformation, Mental Formation, Aspiration, the Vital, the Psychic, and the Subconscient. It is equally important for the readers to familiarize themselves with those terms that Sri Aurobindo has coined to express totally new concepts such as: Supermind and Overmind (which the translator has transliterated as دنياىوووس, and أوفيند وو ). These terms are briefly explained in the Glossary (posted somewhere else on this web page).

Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother recommend flexibility in the intuition of the meanings of terms:

“The meaning [of a term] has to be taken with reference to the context. A definition ties down the meaning. One [i.e. the author] can give only an indication. In spiritual subjects, one can’t give anything more.” Sri Aurobindo, Talks with Sri Aurobindo, Volume II, March 11, 1912

“…. words (are) just a more or less clumsy transcription not only of the idea, but of what is above the idea – the principle; it doesn’t matter much whether these or those words were used (each one uses the words that suit him best)…”

The Mother, Mother’s Agenda, February 08, 1968

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother use the term “The Divine” to express the Divine Being, but also the divine attributes.

1) The Divine Being, as can be read from the following definition:

“The Divine is transcendent Being and Spirit, all Bliss and Light and divine Knowledge and Power…” Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library [035529]

In another definition:

“The Divine is the Supreme Truth because it is the Supreme Being from whom all have come and in whom all are”.

Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library [0351281]

2) The Divine Attributes as in the definition, as in the definition:
“This is what we mean by “Divine”5 all the knowledge we have to acquire, all the power we have to obtain, all the love we have to become, all the perfection we have to achieve, all the harmonious and progressive poise we have to manifest in light and joy, all the new and unknown splendours that have to be realised.”

Words of the Mother, Complete Works, Volume 11, 7 September 1950

Based on these quotes, the translator translates the “The Divine” either as “الألىهية “, or ” الذات الإلهية ” depending on the context.

And finally, Many dictionaries translate “The Subconscient” as ” العقووا الطوود “, and since Sri Aurobindo and the Mother speak of several kinds of inner consciousness, the translator had to translate “The Subconscient” as “الووىال الي يوول “, for lack of a better word.

May the words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother bring the Arabic reader as much peace, strength and happiness as they have brought me, and much more…

[1] The title of one of Sri Aurobindo’s major works
[2] See:
[3] “Yoga is nothing but practical psychology”, Sri Aurobindo, Centenary Library, 22:32
[4] “I may say that it is far from my purpose to propagate any religion, new or old, for humanity in the future. A way to be opened that is still blocked, not a religion to be founded, is my conception of the matter.” Sri Aurobindo, “on Himself”, 1335, p. 125
[5] The being that will replace man in natural evolution whose mind will attain to the Supermind* which is the Truth Consciousness and that perceives the One in infinite multiplicity everywhere.
[6] A glossary of the terms is posted elsewhere on this website .

Zackaria Moursi, PhD February 2010

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: