A Conversation with A.S. Dalal: On Yoga, Free Will, and Consciousness

During my last trip to India, I had the great honor of interviewing Dr. A.S. Dalal, who at 98 years old, is the oldest resident in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, in Pondicherry. This is the first interview Dr. Dalal has ever given in which he discusses some of the main ideas of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy.

Dr. Dalal has worked more than any other person to promote the work of Sri Aurobindo to the general public, through his many books, over the last half a century. Dr. Dalal studied Psychology in the US, and subsequently lived, worked, and created a family there, before returning to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. For this reason, his books are the perfect introduction for a Western audience to the different aspects of the great philosopher’s work.

It is worth noting that Dr. Dalal is now 98 years old, and has the same age as Brother David Steindl-Rast, whom I interviewed last year at about the same time … on another continent!

I am thankful to Dr. Dalal’s son, my friend Khalil, who happened to be visiting India at the same time as me and who was instrumental in helping organize this small production. I am also thankful to the YouTube channel “The Spiritual Bee” that publishes content related to Indian philosophy, and its Director Pulkit Mathur, who has graciously accepted to host the video on this popular philosophical channel, thereby assuring a wider audience.

A few words for those of you who don’t know about Sri Aurobindo:

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) is considered by most academics and readers of Eastern Philosophy to be the greatest Indian philosopher since Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century AD. His three main works are considered The Life Divine in which he expounds his philosophy of Realistic Vedanta, The Synthesis of Yoga, which proposes a synthesis of the three main paths of Yoga (karma, bhakti, and jnana), and his epic philosophical poem, Savitri. I suggest reading Dr. Dalal’s The Newness of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga for a great introduction to his philosophy. I have listed below a few books by Dr. Dalal that I also recommend, as well as the three Ramacharaka books we have published two years ago through our small publishing house, Bamboo Leaf Press – they are an excellent introduction to Indian philosophy.

© 2024 Nicos Hadjicostis