The Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press (also known simply as Ashram Press) is a unit of the Sri Aurobindo Udyog Trust which has for it’s object to contribute to Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. It has been primarily responsible for the printing of books of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo and has also printed books by Sadhaks of the Ashram and commercial publications.
Before its inception in 1945, the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother were printed in Hyderabad and in Calcutta. In an old interview, a Sadhak recollects that both The Mother and Sri Aurobindo felt that the Ashram required a printing press. This Press is a manifestation of The Mother’s wish to have an in-house department for publishing the works of Sri Aurobindo and Herself at an international standard.
The Mother wrote to a Sadhak: ‘…I want, through this book, to show to the European public that the Ashram Press can produce something truly nice, as perfect in execution as anywhere else in the West. But for that we must work hard and spare neither time nor labour.’
Numerous Ashramites have contributed industriously to its daily operations and systematic growth and development over seven decades. Apart from printing Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s writings the Ashram Press also prints newsletters, greeting cards etc., for its clients. The Institut Français de Pondichéry and the École Française d’Extrême Orient have their books printed in the Ashram Press. The Press has also printed books for Oxford University Press and Kailash Editions.
A Brief History
The Press started its operations with a small number of machines and subsequently welcomed new additions. In the early days, type setting was meticulously carried out for letter press printing. One of the first prints was the Prayers and Meditations of the Mother.
In 1961 the modernization of the Ashram Press began with the buying of the Heidelberg Letterpress Printing Machine which Mother inaugurated on 23 August 1961. In the late 70s the Offset printing machine was introduced. Slowly Letterpress printing was phased out.
For Sri Aurobindo’s birth centenary, a laborious task was taken up by the Press. The Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library (SABCL) consisting of 30 volumes of approximately 500 pages each were printed. A total of 2,500 copies of the entire set were prepared by 1972.
In the early 80s Press pioneered phototypesetting and DTP (Desktop Publishing) in India. Presses around India came to visit Pondicherry to learn about these new printing and publishing techniques.
The Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo(CWSA) was another challenging task that was started for Sri Aurobindo’s 125th Birth Centenary. This was a complete compilation of 37 volumes that included all of Sri Aurobindo’s writings. A similar exercise was undertaken for The Mother’s Collected Works (MCW) which consists of 17 volumes.
With the age of digitization, the Press is transforming to better serve its clients. Its Digital Services section is the newest addition to its numerous other services. Apart from regular Printing services, the digital section will explore work on Web designing, e-books development, IT Servers management and similar fields.