"Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth's evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of Nature's process."
— Sri Aurobindo

South India's Modern Mystics

During our pilgrimage we will be visiting the centers of South India's modern mystics and tapping into their enlightened teachings.


The core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said, “Truth is a pathless land”. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, born into a Telugu Brahmin family in what was then colonial India, had a chance encounter in his early adolescence with prominent occultist and high-ranking theosophist C.W. Leadbeater in the grounds of the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar in Madras (now Chennai). He was subsequently raised under the tutelage of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, leaders of the Society at the time, who believed him to be a "vehicle" for an expected World Teacher.

In the early 1960s, he made the acquaintance of respected physicist David Bohm, whose philosophical and scientific concerns regarding the essence of the physical world, and the psychological and sociological state of mankind, found parallels in Krishnamurti's philosophy. The two men soon became close friends and started a common inquiry, in the form of personal dialogues - and occasionally in group discussions with other participants - that periodically continued over nearly two decades.

Krishnamurti was acquainted with, and (by their admission) influenced the works of, the mythologist Joseph Campbell, artist Beatrice Wood, and counter-culture author Alan Watts. Spiritual authors/lecturers Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra both claimed Krishnamurti as one of their influences. Writer/philosopher Iris Murdoch also met with Krishnamurti, while Live's album Mental Jewelry is influenced by Krishnamurti's ideas.

To quote author Henry Miller, Krishnamurti's language is naked, revelatory and inspiring. . . Instead of an obstacle race or a rat trap, it makes of daily life a joyous pursuit.

In India, with its long tradition of wandering "holy" men, hermits, and independent religious teachers, Krishnamurti attracted the attention and admiration of large numbers of people in public lectures and personal interviews. He was, and is presently, considered a "great teacher" by such diverse religious figures as the respected mystic Ramana Maharshi, the spiritual teacher Anandamayi Ma, as well as figures more well-known to the West such as Osho.


Among the many sayings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, which are posted throughout the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, South India, the following is typical: "The world is preparing for a big change. Will you help?" According to Sri Aurobindo’s vision, this change refers to the advance of human and cosmic evolution. Sri Aurobindo’s personal life and philosophy of Integral Yoga attest to the fact that this transformation can only come about by man’s cooperation with the Supermind.

Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is a Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive the truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light.

Aurobindo's ideas about the further evolution of human capabilities significantly influenced the thinking of many, including Michael Murphy, co-founder of the Esalen Institute and a key figure in the Human Potential Movement; American philosopher Ken Wilber, Haridas Chaudhuri, Bengali integral philosopher and the founder of the California Institute of Integral Studies; author and cultural historian Richard Tarnas; and Prophets Conference faculty members... author and scholar Andrew Harvey; systems theorist and pioneer of the Akashic Field Theory Dr. Ervin Laszlo, and Stanislav Grof, M.D., one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into altered states of consciousness.

"Sri Aurobindo's yoga points the way toward the kind of transformative practice we need to realize our greatest potentials. No philosopher or contemplative of modern times has done more to reveal our possibilities for extraordinary life."
— Michael Murphy, Founder, Esalen Institute, author of The Future of the Body

The principal writings of Sri Aurobindo include: The Mind of Light, The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Secrets of the Vedas, Essays on the Gita, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, Renaissance in India and other essays, Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, The Future Poetry, Thoughts and Aphorisms, Savitri, and several volumes of letters and collected poems.

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, founded in 1926, has grown under the Mother's guidance from a small group of two dozen disciples into a large diversified community. The dynamic character of the community reflects the life-affirming aim of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga. Work as an offering to the Divine is an essential aspect of the Yoga. In the sadhana or spiritual discipline at the Ashram, there are no obligatory practices, no rituals, no compulsory meditations or systematic instructions in Yoga. Sadhaks are left free to determine the course and pace of their sadhana in accordance with their own natures. But the general principle of the sadhana is the same for all: there must be a surrender to the Divine and an opening to the Divine Force so that it may work to transform ones being.


"The wisdom and mysticism of the East have a very great deal to tell us. They should remind us of what we possess in our culture of similar things and have already forgotten, and direct our attention to that which we put aside as unimportant, namely the destiny of our inner man. The life and teachings of Sri Ramana are not only important for the Indian but also for the Westerner. Not only do they form a record of great human interest, but also a warning message to a humanity which threatens to lose itself in the chaos of its unconsciousness and lack of self-control."
— C. G. Jung

It was in 1911 that the first westerner, Frank Humphreys, then a policeman stationed in India, discovered Sri Ramana and wrote articles about him which were first published in The International Psychic Gazette in 1913. However, Sri Ramana only became relatively well known in and out of India after 1934 when Paul Brunton, having first visited Sri Ramana in January 1931, published the book A Search in Secret India, which became very popular. Resulting visitors included Paramahansa Yogananda, Somerset Maugham (whose 1944 novel The Razor's Edge models its spiritual guru after Sri Ramana), Mercedes de Acosta, Julian P. Johnson, and Arthur Osborne. Sri Ramana's relative fame spread throughout the 1940s. However, even as his fame spread, Sri Ramana was noted for his belief in the power of silence and his relatively sparse use of speech, as well as his lack of concern for fame or criticism. His lifestyle remained that of a renunciate.

Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi remains one of the most important saints of the modern era and his realisation (“I am that”) inspires many followers. Although Sri Maharshi’s physical presence no longer graces the Ashram, his spiritual presence is as alive as ever; thus, devotees and aspirants who attune themselves to the silent teaching can derive considerable spiritual benefit from a visit to the Ashram www.sriramanamaharshi.org.

For more information:
Call (1) 505 559 4632 or (44) 020 8133 4994
email: annie.tm@greatmystery.org