There are two ways of approaching the life of a great and luminous being. One that is more common is through his works. It is believed that after all works speak for themselves. They are a natural extension of who we are and what we are. The nature of works also gives us a glimpse of the different aspects of the person, his or her personality so to say. By taking a look at what the person did we try to fathom his nature and his being, the personality and the person. Perhaps most would not even consider it important to discover the personality or fathom the heart of the person so long as the works are there to see, scrutinise and analyse. According to this approach the person is really of no or little importance. His own importance if any is secondary. Besides it is presumed that any true assessment of the person is impossible as it will be subject to inherent biases and inbuilt preferences in outlook. But the works can be scrutinised objectively. Hence any mention or talk about the person, especially by those who love him or are close to him is often regarded as hagiography. But the fact also remains that those who are close to a person, those who are close to him are in the best position to speak about him. They know him intimately and their accounts are likely to be far more authentic and revealing than of those who have observed him from a distance. It is a paradox which cannot be resolved easily.
Whatever it be, – and here we come to the second approach, it is the life of a person, his consciousness that gives the true value to his work. A thousand pundits of the Gita, well versed with the scripture and the language cannot equal Krishna or inspire a single Arjuna. On the other hand, mere reading of Sri Krishna or Sri Aurobindo’s life can suddenly bring us closer to them and help us understand even their works better. According to this approach the value of a person is not derived from his work, rather the value of the work is derived from the person. Hence the focus shifts from an objective study of the works of a human being to a study of the person himself. But since any human being who has risen even a little above the ordinary has a fairly deep and vast, an inherently complex inner life and hence he cannot be understood by merely observing some outer events and circumstances through which his life moved. It is only by diving deep into his heart either by a constant dwelling with him or upon him as the mystic would say, by loving and if possible, serving him, that one can get some glimpse of the true person. Then we can get some hint of what inner motives, what hidden idea-forces inspired his works. It is then that we are much better equipped to even understand a little better of his life and works.