The Problem of Rebirth
(Note on the texts:) These sixteen essays were first published in the Arya between 1915 and 1921. Those comprising Section I appeared without a general title in two groups: November and December 1915, and March to December 1919. Those comprising Section II came out under the headings “The Lines of Karma” and “The Higher Lines of Karma” between August 1920 and January 1921.
Sometime during the 1920s, Sri Aurobindo collected and revised the sixteen essays with the intention of publishing them as a book to be entitled The Problem of Rebirth. The revision included the addition of three long passages: the last paragraph of “The Significance of Rebirth”, the last three paragraphs of “Involution and Evolution”, and the last three paragraphs of “Karma, Will and Consequence”. Most of the pages of the proposed book were set in type and a few copies — possibly proof copies — were printed, but the book was never published. The letter reprinted in Appendix II explains why. It may be noted that in this letter Sri Aurobindo referred to the collection of essays as “Rebirth and Karma”. The editors, who are responsible for the division into sections, use this phrase as the subtitle of Section I. (The same phrase was used as the title of the entire book in an edition published in the United States in 1991.)
The Problem of Rebirth was first published posthumously in 1952. The third edition of the book, published in 1978, incorporated some revisions made by Sri Aurobindo that had not been discovered when the earlier editions were printed.