Aurobindo Ghosh was the architect behind the rise of the Nationalists and radicals among Congress in the first decade of the twentieth century. An accomplished scholar, Aurobindo left ICS to join a service in Baroda under the then Maharaja. He was greatly inspired by Swami Vivekananda and decided to dedicate his life in the worship of the Divine Mother in the form of the Country. He had a desire to develop a temple of Ma Bhabani and to build the character of the youth in the Nationalistic spirit. The Partition of Bengal movement greatly inspired Aurobindo to take up active politics and he also met Sister Nivedita, the Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda, who was already active in promoting the militant Nationalism among youth of India. Aurobindo came to Bengal in 1906 and took part in Barisal Conference. Thereafter he decided to make Bengal as the center of his activities and took up a position as the Principal of the Bengal National College and School that was newly established as part of the Swadeshi Movement. He accepted great penury from the comfortable position that he had in Baroda but he took it up in a spirit of self sacrifice and with his wife Mrinalini, lived like an ascetic. He edited the fiery journal called Bande Mataram which gained immense popularity. Bande Mataram patrika was fearless, advocated the highest ideal of sacrifice for a higher cause and roused the Nationslistic fervour and spirit with an intensity and zeal hitherto unknown. Aurobindo believed that the basis of National Movement should be spiritual and he considered patriotism as a form of devotion to the Mother Goddess in the form of the Nation. He led the Extremist movement from the front and advocated Passive Resistance as the means of taking up the fight with the Government, as opposed to the politics of prayers and petitions by the Moderates. In 1907 he represented the Extremists in the Surat Congress where the Congress was split along its ideals as the difference between Moderates and extremists became irreconcilable. Aurobindo became the centerstage of Indian politics together with Tilak and Bipin Pal and after Pal's arrest became the key leader of Nationalism who could inspire and rally the youth. Rabindranath Tagore payed his glowing tribute in his poem, "Aurobindo Rabindrer Laho Namaskar."
In April 1908 Aurobindo, along with a host of Jugantar revolutionaries including his younger brother Barindra, was arrested in the Alipore bomb case after the failed attempt to assassinate magistrate Kingsford by Khudiram. After a prolonged trial Aurobindo was finally released 1 year later when a young barrister Chittaranjan Das pleaded his case brilliantly. In the solitude of prison Aurobindo had transformed into a mystic, a Yogi who had realized the Supreme being as Vasudeva and his goal had changed. After his release Aurobindo edited Karma Yogin but did not quite leave politics as he appealed to his countrymen not to be lured by the Morley Minto reforms. Alarmed by the prospect that the British Government was trying to arrest Aurobindo again, his followers decided to send him to Chandannagar, the French province. This was also approved by Sister Nivedita who helped. From Chandannagar, Aurobindo escaped to Pondicherry, another French colony. After that he devoted his life to spiritual pursuit but according to him he continued the fight in a spiritual plane to raise the consiciousness of India to a new height, so that she could gain emancipation from the fetters of the foreign tyranny. Noted disciples of Sri Aurobindo included Dilip Kumar Roy, the son of Dwijendralal Roy and a friend of Subhas Chandra Bose. Even after his realization, Aurobindo kept a tab on Indian politics. He never supported Gandhi and his policies wholeheartedly. Also Aurobindo was not happy with Subhas's leftist leanings. He believed that the destiny of India was spiritual. She would be the beacon of hope for the rest of the world and would rise to great spiritual glory. When Cripp's Mission visited India in 1942 and offered Dominion Status, Aurobindo had pleaded on the behalf of Sir Stafford Cripps to all the Indian leaders to accept the proposals. He also wrote a letter to Stafford Cripps thanking him for his endeavour. Gandhiji however rejected Aurobindo's proposal. Possibly Aurobindo foresaw the bloodbath in the wake of the Partition and wanted to prevent the same. He also supported the allied efforts during the war as he believed that on a spiritual force the Axis power was a greater evil for the world.
The great Yogi and mystic passed away on August 15, 1950, which was his birthday and also the day of Indian independence. He left his legacy in the form of Aurobindo Ashrama, a great cultural and spiritual retreat in Pondicherry, which was managed after his demise by the Mother who had come from France to serve her spiritual master.