Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry in 1910, he lived at first with a few associates from the political field. Afterwards a few more joined him and there slowly developed spiritual relations between these young men and Sri Aurobindo. When the Mother returned to Pondicherry on 24 April 1920, the number of disciples began to increase rapidly, and as the Ashram thus began to take shape, it fell to the Mother to organize it. When in 1926, Sri Aurobindo retired into seclusion to pursue his yogic sadhana, the whole material and spiritual charge of the Ashram was assumed by the Mother. Under her guidance, the Ashram grew into a large diversified community with almost 1200 members. Including the 400 students of the Centre of Education and the hundreds of devotees who live nearby, the community as a whole consists of more than 2000 people.
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, and Ashramites do some useful work every day in the various departments.
In the sadhana or spiritual discipline at the Ashram, there are no obligatory practices, no rituals, no compulsory meditations or systematic instructions in Yoga. Each sadhak is left free to determine the course and pace of his sadhana in accordance with his nature. 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 one's being.
The Ashram provides its members with all they need for a decent and healthy life. Various departments have been organised to look after the basic requirements of food, clothing and shelter, as well as medical care. The Ashram has farms and gardens, a printing press and a number of small-scale industries. There are also libraries for study and facilities for a variety of cultural pursuits. The Ashram is administered by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.