Sri Aurobindo’s letter to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Dear Friends,

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who later became the second President of India had approached Sri Aurobindo in August 1934 through Dilip Kumar Roy asking him to contribute an article for a proposed volume on contemporary Indian philosophy. When Dilip Roy conveyed his request to Sri Aurobindo, the latter asked Dilip to excuse him. But when Dr. Radhakrishnan persisted Sri Aurobindo wrote to him directly on 2 October 1934.

Today, we take the opportunity of sharing with you Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s second letter to Dilip Kumar Roy dated 27 September 1934 and Sri Aurobindo’s reply to him.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee


Overman Foundation.


               Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s letter to Dilip Kumar Roy

 My dear Mr. Dilip Kumar Roy,

   Your letter of the 9th instant. I realise that Sri Aurobindo will be very much pre-occupied with other things. But, may I impose on you the real importance of a specific contribution from him for the purposes of this volume. You are possibly aware that for the volume on Contemporary British Philosophy, men like Bossanquet, Bertrand Russell, Haldane and McTaggart, among others, made their contributions. The volume on Contemporary Indian Philosophy will not be worth the name without a statement from Sri Aurobindo. I feel that he will realise the enormous importance of a special contribution for this volume, not for my sake or for his sake, but for the sake of our country. If you do not have a copy of the Contemporary British Philosophy there, on hearing from you, I will send you a volume from which you will get a general idea.

   Interesting as this letter to Mr. Chadwick is, I am afraid it will not do as a statement of Sri Aurobindo’s convictions on the central problems of God, Man and his Destiny. If he sets down his thoughts on these problems, we will be able to put it in. You may put a series of questions asking him to state in a summary form his views on God, the nature of the Human Soul, its Destiny, and if you get rounded answers to them, we may possibly use that as his contribution.

   I hope you at least realise my anxiety in this whole matter.

   I am returning the paper and shall be delighted to see the other thing on the Avatarhood of Rama.

                                                                                         Yours sincerely,

                                                                                          S. Radhakrishnan’


          Sri Aurobindo’s letter to Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

My dear Professor Radhakrishnan,

    I regret that you should have had to wait for the publication of your book on account of the contribution I could not write. I had intimated to Dilip that it would be practically impossible for me and I could not make a promise I would most likely be unable to fulfil. I think he hoped I would still find time somehow to write.

    I am entirely taken up by my present work which is exceedingly heavy and pressing and from which I cannot take my hands for a moment or spare the necessary energy or time for anything else. I have been obliged to put aside all mental or literary work and even to suspend sine die the revision for publication of the unpublished works in the “Arya” which I had undertaken. There is no chance of any alteration in this state of affairs in any near future. It is not a matter of choice but of necessity for me. I hope therefore you will excuse me for not being able to comply with your request. I regret very much that I have to disappoint you, but it is not possible for me to avoid it.

                                                                                                   Sri Aurobindo


9 Replies to “Sri Aurobindo’s letter to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

  1. When one becomes a true Instrument of the Divine, here Sri Aurobindo, no one, nothing and/or no situation can change it from it’s destined use.

  2. The letter by Aurobindo Ghosh only shows how indifferent was he when he could have found place with other world philosophers. Here is a man true to his cause and he wrote back to Dilip, ” I never, never was a philosopher…. I can never write philosophy to order”. This was only his humility which Mira Richard only understood and left all for the Ashram. This attitude of his reminds me of this great son of India also saying, ” I do not care a fig in having my name in some blessed place.” Such publicity to him was only ‘pompous farce’ and ‘damned nonsense’. His was the walking god on earth – Sri Aurobindo, a person so concerned when his name was put up twice in 1943 and 1950 for Nobel Prize in Literature and Peace. It could not be given posthumously as he left this earth the same year. Russell won the prize for Literature in 1950.

  3. It would be pertinent to mention here that many outside Pondicherry had urged Sri Aurobindo to return to “active life outside” to which He replied that even to step outside His room could create catastrophe for the world! Even Mother’s stay before final arrival to Pondi. was able to cause revolution in the world while she was apparently inactive and resting. Bodily injury to His leg-“an accident” – resulted into II WW!!! Dr. R”Krishnan was fortunate even to receive reply–Sri Aurobindo was pulling Supermind by its tail as per his letter to Nirodbaran in a humorous reply..

  4. Ashish,

    Could you provide citations for your remarks.

    > to which He replied that even to step outside His room could
    > create catastrophe for the world

    Where did he say so?

    > Even Mother’s stay before final arrival to Pondi. was able to
    > cause revolution in the world while she was apparently inactive
    > and resting”

    I don’t think this is true. Where is it written that her stay caused a revolution?

    > Bodily injury to His leg-”an accident” – resulted into II WW!!!

    Again, I don’t think this is true. Where did Sri Aurobindo or the Mother say that the accident itself caused World War II. AFAIK, the accident was attributed to hostile forces but nothing more than that.

  5. Sri Aurobindo’s convictions on the central problems of God, Man and his Destiny had already found articulation in his works by the time of Dr. Radhakrishnan’s request for a contribution to a volume on contemporary Indian philosophy in 1934. If what was required was a fresh summing up, it could have been done by a compilation from Sri Aurobindo’s works by someone, read/heard and approved by Sri Aurobindo. But that was not to be. For Sri Aurobindo was too busy with very important tasks about which we are not well informed, and also he was probably against mixing up Darsana with philosophy.

  6. While your question is much valid as an intellectual inquiry and I admit that we should not accept anything per se even in the realm of infra-rational,most of the books I have read, are in India and at this time I am unable to quote volume, page number etc. However, all I can say I have read these words. Even if I could, you have already declared your own interpretation and you have all freedom in the world to do so. It would be welcome to read their letters and even “Agenda” by Satprem which is full of many clarifications. I keep away from discussions as these things are not for satisfying intelactual curiosity and I have nothing to prove or disprove. I assure you I do not mean to be rude to whatever you have asked but if you aspire sincerely you will get answers-I really do not have those books where in I have read these.

    Ashish Dave

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