King’s College, Cambridge, on Sri Aurobindo

Dear Friends,

Sri Aurobindo was a student of King’s College, Cambridge, from 1890 to 1892. After his physical withdrawal in December 1950, a spontaneous appreciative tribute was paid to him by King’s College in their Annual Report of 1951. In spite of its few inaccuracies, this complimentary document is valuable because of its independent British source.

The said tribute has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Aurobindo (then Aravind Acroyd) Ghose came up from St Paul’s in 1890. His father, Dr. Krishnadhan Ghose of Khulna in East Bengal, and an M.D. of Edinburgh, wishing him to be brought up in the best English tradition, had sent him to this country at the early age of seven, and put him in the care of a family at Manchester. At King’s he was a Scholar, and Prizeman, and in 1892 was placed in the 1st Class of the Classical Tripos. While at Cambridge he also published some poems, Songs of [1] Myrtilla, and passed the examination into the Indian Civil Service with record marks in classics. Apparently disliking horses, however, he omitted to take the riding test that was necessary, and this debarred him from joining. He then entered the service of the Maharajah Sayaji Rao III of Baroda, a very enlightened and progressive Prince, and at the Baroda College he became Lecturer in French, Professor of English, and Vice-Principal. In September 1903 he wrote to us in King’s, giving his address—this reads curiously now—as Racecourse Road, Baroda, or the Baroda Officers’ Club, Baroda Gymkhana. That so quick and sensitive a young Indian mind should have felt drawn at that time to politics, however, was natural, for Bengal was in a ferment over the controversies with which Curzon’s Viceroyalty had ended; and in 1906 Aurobindo moved to Calcutta. There, as Principal of the Bengal National College and as Editor of Bande Arataram [2], he advanced rapidly to the spearhead of the nationalist agitation, and was widely believed—though this was not proved—to be implicated in the cult of Terrorism. Twice arrested for sedition, the second time in connection with the Alipore Bomb Conspiracy, he was twice acquitted; and, while for many months in prison during trial on the latter occasion, he underwent the extraordinary change which converted India’s foremost young political ‘activist’, the patriot-hero of those days, into the famous sage and recluse. Soon after leaving jail, to avert fresh attentions from the police, he disappeared quietly during 1910 into French Territory at Pondicherry, where he remained until his death on December 5, 1950, the centre of a cult totally, startlingly, removed from that of the bomb and the revolver with which, as late as 1935, the Government of India’s Intelligence officials still half-believed him to be associated. Of the eminence that he attained during those decades, not only as contemplative or mystic, but as academic philosopher, critic and literary craftsman there can be no question. Books and articles flowed steadily from his pen—most of them insufficiently known to Western readers because they were published in India—and his Essays on the Gita (1916-1918) and his monumental The Life Divine, in particular, are works of very high distinction. His ashram at Pondicherry became a place of pilgrimage; yet during his later period he lived there almost completely withdrawn, permitting himself to be seen even by his own followers only twice a year in formal darshan, and on very rare occasions making oracular pronouncements on politics which must somewhat have perplexed or displeased his conventional nationalist admirers. Early in World War II, for example, he declared himself wholly in sympathy with Britain, and he commended the Cripps Mission in 1942. At his death on December 5, 1950, aged 78, the Press throughout India was filled with columns in his praise, to the exclusion of much ordinary news; President Prasad, Prime Minister Nehru, the Governors of States, and many leading public men wrote copiously in eulogy and reminiscence; and within a few hours, at Pondicherry, 60,000 people had filed past his bier. His gifts of spirit and of intellect had plainly been of the loftiest quality, and to this was added the romance of a unique career. Some would say that his position, among the great men produced by the new India of this century, is equaled only by that of Gandhi and Tagore.

*

[1] to
[2] Mataram

*

Dyuman’s Talk on the Service Tree

Dear Friends,

Chunibhai Patel (19.6.1903—19.8.1992) was a Gujarati sadhak who was renamed ‘Dyuman’ (“the luminous one”) by Sri Aurobindo on 24 November 1928. He visited Pondicherry for the first time on 11 July 1924 and surrendered himself to Sri Aurobindo. He became an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in May 1927. He was in charge of the Dining Room and looked after the Granary. A dedicated worker to the core, the Mother made him one of the Founder-Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust on 1 May 1955. He became the Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust in 1991.

On 2 February 1988 Dyuman had given a talk on the Service Tree to some of the youngsters of Sri Aurobindo Ashram outside his room in the Ashram main building. The slightly abridged version of the said talk—which was originally published in the January 1989 issue of Mother India (the monthly magazine published from Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)—has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Dyuman 1

Uptil now we know that Hanuman was the greatest servant, dāsa. Today I will tell you how Sri Aurobindo used to serve the Mother, how he waited for the Mother when she was late.

We usually had the night-meditation at 12 o’clock, 1 o’clock or 1.40 a.m. One night after 11, seeing the people waiting, the Mother said, “I am coming.” Then she rested. She went into a trance. Now it was 1.40 a.m. People were waiting downstairs. Sri Aurobindo was waiting in his room. The Mother was not to be found. Where is the Mother? I went to Sri Aurobindo. I found him sitting on his bed waiting for the Mother from 11 o’clock… I said, “She is in a trance.” He replied, “Wait 3 minutes, wait 5 minutes. If she doesn’t get up, tell the people to go home.” I waited, no response from the Mother. I went again to Sri Aurobindo and told him, “She is still in a trance.” “Tell the people to go home.” At 1.45 a.m. I went to the small window half-way down the Meditation Hall staircase and announced, “Sri Aurobindo says, ‘Go home’.” Then the Mother woke up and actually started running. “Ah! they are all waiting!” “No, Mother, Sri Aurobindo asked them to go home.” “But food for Sri Aurobindo?” Sri Aurobindo, like a dāsa, had been waiting for her all the time.

She gave him food after 1.45 a.m. He had waited for nearly three hours, just sitting and waiting. That is why Sri Aurobindo is the greatest dāsa, servitor of the Mother. Equally, the Mother was a servitor to Sri Aurobindo. Till now nobody has been born greater than the Mother as a servitor to Sri Aurobindo, to the Lord, nor greater than Sri Aurobindo to the Mother Divine, Adishakti. He worshipped Her. He served Her. It’s in this context that the name “Service” was given to the tree. None of us had any idea.

The Ashram consisted of four different houses. One by one they were hired or purchased and joined together. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo were staying in the Library House—what is now the entrance to the Ashram. They came to this house on 8 February 1927. Subsequently new building-work started. To wash the bricks for this work and for the cement, three tanks were built in 1930. From Prosperity Hall to Ravindra’s fruit-room all was newly built.

There was a mango tree where the Service Tree now stands. The mango tree was to be cut down, the Mother asked us to get a Service Tree (plant) from the Botanical garden. As Parichand is now the Ashram gardener, Manubhai was then the gardener—his helpers were Ambu and Dyuman. Manubhai is gone, Ambu is here still, Dyuman also is here. The tree was planted on a Tuesday. Why this was done we couldn’t make out. In 1930 it was planted.

Did the Mother plant it herself?

No, the Mother asked us to plant it. The place those days was full of cats—would go on the roof, drop the tiles, because they would always fight; and there was always a lot of noise. They were everywhere. So we asked the Mother, “Why not remove this? why not remove that?” “No, no! If you want, you may fill up these three tanks with sand or something and put ferns on top.” We did that when Sri Aurobindo left his body. She said (now listen carefully), “I want to keep him in the centre of the Ashram. There are three tanks—keep the western side tank as it is, the other two you can make one. Go deep down 10 feet. Put Sri Aurobindo at the bottom. At 5 feet put a slab.” Then she uttered a prophecy for herself—“If something happens to me, put me there.” So, accordingly, He is below, then comes the Mother, and at the top you go and surrender yourselves to Her and to Sri Aurobindo. And this Sri Aurobindo and this Mother we are all serving. That is the gist of the beginning of the Service Tree.

Whom does it serve? I told you, “The Mother and Sri Aurobindo.” How each of them served each other I have told you. Why the place was kept there from 1930, that she knew, though she was telling us, though Sri Aurobindo was telling us from 1920 that he would remain for ever and 24th November 1926 was declared the Day of Victory, and two days later was the Immortality Day. The Mother brought down the Force of Immortality. But the Divine Grace has other ways. He left his body and the Mother decided to keep him in this Ashram at the centre, not outside, so that this becomes the centre of the universe and the universe comes to the Lord for the new life and She merges into Him. This is called Sri Aurobindo’s Samadhi. She merged into him. No separation between the two.

The tanks were here, and we have heard that there was a kitchen somewhere.

That was on the southern side. When the Ashram started, the Ashram meant formerly Sri Aurobindo and around him some of his people—not relatives but those who followed him. They were here. Then when the Overmind’s descent took place on the 24th November the Mother and Sri Aurobindo thought, “What we have received is a surety for the next thing—the Supramental Descent, why not give facilities to aspiring souls?” Remember these words: “Let’s give them facilities so that they may aspire more and something more may come down upon earth.” For this reason they called this establishment the Ashram. There was no other suitable name. So we had the kitchen and the dining room here, not there, from 1927—1934. On January 4, 1934 we shifted from here to the present dining room building.

Where was the mango tree?

When we purchased this house the mango tree was in the centre of the courtyard, where there is the coconut tree now.

Was it cut down?

The tree died and we had to remove it…

Were there any mangoes?

No, we never received any mangoes, never. But under that tree were all our departments: lime, bricks, tin-making, workshops, were here in this small place. Nowadays we have so many departments separately.

When did you come here?

I came in 1924. I met Sri Aurobindo. In those days there was no staying arrangement. He asked me to go back. I told him, “As you are asking me to go, I am going but I shall come back, for this is the home for me.” Home, I made a difference between a home and the Ashram, because I belong to a home. And I came back in 1927 when the Ashram began and I am still here.

Did you water the Service Tree every day?

Yes, Ambu and I. You know Ambu? He stays at Nanteuil. He came in 1928 as a young boy. We were a gang of workers. These are the stories of 60 years ago.

Were there tanks where the Samadhi is now?

There were three tanks. Here the wall was removed. Where you take tulsi leaves from the Samadhi, that was the third tank. The wall in between was removed. On the morning of December 5, Sri Aurobindo left his body at 1.26 a.m., and the work began. On the morning of the 6th when the Mother went to his room, she found that his body was changing its colour and becoming golden. Usually bodies become black after death. On the morning of the 7th, it became more luminous and on the 8th even more so. But according to the law we couldn’t keep the body for long. So the doctor of the General Hospital had to be called to certify that the body was intact, in perfect condition. On the morning of the 9th, it showed some signs of discoloration and it was decided to bring it down. By the middle staircase it was brought down from his room.

At one time, the Mother had the idea: “Here there are too many people, too much noise. I wish I could give Sri Aurobindo solitude.” She thought of purchasing the Trésor House where Dr. Satyavrata has his Nursing Home now. Then Sri Aurobindo said, “No, if I move, the whole world will tumble down. I won’t move at all.” And he remained here, so much so that no rain, no cyclone could disturb him. He was engrossed deeply in his work.

Once there was a big cyclone. The Mother rushed to his room to close the windows. He had no idea that there was a cyclone raging outside. He was writing, that’s all. So that was Sri Aurobindo.

When you planted the Service Tree, didn’t the cats disturb it?

No, the cats did not disturb it and everything—the cats, etc.—remained unchanged till 1945. When the Second World War was going on, there was the threat that the Japanese might come and drop bombs here, then we built a new house where two old houses had stood.

When was the concrete structure built to hold the branches of the Service Tree?

The Service tree began to grown, the branches began to go on the roof of the old house. We had to remove the old house. What to do with the branches? So this scaffolding was built—what we call the Sanchi railings were created. They were done by Sammer the architect from Czechoslovakia who had come here with Raymond and Nakashima and together the three of them built Golconde. So this whole creation in the Ashram courtyard was by Sammer and at the foot of each pillar you’ll find a square place. You see, the Mother used to come in the evening on the terrace and give meditation. Her idea was to have grass in each square but that could not be done, so pebbles were put.

When was this built?

The whole thing started from 1930-32. When the first-floor room was ready, then the Mother came there on 24th April 1932. She used to be in the small corner room where Champaklal now stays.

Did the Service Tree grow very fast?

Yes, because of all-round protection and then water, and thirdly because the Mother was always looking at it. The Mother is responsible for its growth. So often in cyclonic weather the branches were broken. If you look carefully, you’ll see that many have been cut. As they were broken we had to cut them off.

Didn’t the roots disturb the place where Sri Aurobindo’s body has been kept?

Well, I haven’t gone down where the body has been kept, so I can’t say.

But when the pit was being prepared?

No, at that time nothing. Then the tree was very young. Now it’s very big—a giant tree. But 38 years back, it was only 20 years old. Now the roots are moving everywhere. They have even crossed the wall and gone on the other side.

Is the tree still young?

I’ll give you the picture of the Service Tree filled with flowers. When it was 50 years old, the picture was distributed to everybody…

What was your age when you came here?

I was 21. I wandered about everywhere. I wanted to be an Himalayan monk, I went to the Belur Math of Ramakrishna, I went to Shantiniketan. I wandered. I was destined to be here…

*

Sri Aurobindo’s Rare Interview published in “The Hindu” in 1915

Dear Friends,

Not many are aware of the fact that Sri Aurobindo had granted an interview to a correspondent of The Hindu in early 1915. This interview was quoted in full by Lala Lajpat Rai in his book Young India along with an introduction titled Arabinda Ghosh—Vedantist and Swarajist.

The text of the interview has been uploaded in the online forum of Overman Foundation along with Lala Lajpat Rai’s introduction.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

photo

Arabinda Ghosh—Vedantist and Swarajist

It is difficult to say to which of these classes, if to either at all, Arabinda Ghosh belonged to or still belongs. At one time it was believed that he belonged to the first class, to which most of the other Bengalee extremists belonged, but whether that belief was right and whether he still thinks on the same lines, it is difficult to say. One thing is certain, that he was and is quite unlike Har Dayal in his line of thought. In intellectual acumen and in scholastic accomplishments he is perhaps superior to Har Dayal, but above all he is deeply religious and spiritual. He is a worshipper of Krishna and is a high-souled Vedantist. Even simpler and more ascetic in his life and habits than Har Dayal, he is for an all-round development of Indian Nationalism. His notions of life and morality are pre-eminently Hindu and he believes in the spiritual mission of his people. His views may better be gathered from an interview, which he recently gave to a correspondent of The Hindu, of Madras. We quote the interview almost bodily and in the words of the interviewer.

“But what do you think of the 1914 Congress and Conferences?” I insisted.

He spoke almost with reluctance but in clear and firm accents. “I do not find the proceedings of the Christmas Conferences very interesting and inspiring. They seem to me to be mere repetitions of the petty and lifeless formulas of the past and hardly show any sense of the great breath of the future that is blowing upon us. I make an exception of the speech of the Congress President which struck me as far above the ordinary level. Some people, apparently, found it visionary and unpractical. It seems to me to be the one practical and vital thing that has been said in India for some time past.

“The old, petty forms and little narrow, make-believe activities are getting out of date. The world is changing rapidly around us and preparing for more colossal changes in the future. We must rise to the greatness of thought and action which it will demand upon the nations who hope to live. No, it is not in any of the old formal activities, but deeper down that I find signs of progress and hope. The last few years have been a period of silence and compression in which the awakened Virya [1] and Tejas of the nation have been concentrating for a great outburst of a better direct energy in the future.

“We are a nation of three hundred millions inhabiting a great country in which many civilisations have met, full of rich material and unused capacities. We must cease to think and act like the inhabitants of an obscure and petty village.”

“If you don’t like our political methods, what would you advise us to do for the realisation of our destiny?” was the next question.

He quickly replied: “Only by a general intellectual and spiritual awakening can this nation fulfil its destiny. Our limited information, our second-hand intellectual activities, our bounded interests, our narrow life of little family aims and small money-getting have prevented us from entering into the broad life of the world. Fortunately, there are ever-increasing signs of a widened outlook, a richer intellectual output and numerous sparks of liberal genius which show that the necessary change is coming. No nation in modern times can grow great by politics alone. A rich and varied life, energetic in all its parts, is the condition of a sound, vigorous national existence. From this point of view, also the last five years have been a great benefit to the country.”

I then asked what he thought of the vastly improved relations that now exist between the Briton and the Indian in our own country and elsewhere.

“It is a very good thing”, he said and he explained himself in the following manner: “The realisation of our nationhood separate from the rest of humanity was the governing idea of our activities from 1905 to 1910. That movement has served its purpose. It has laid a good foundation for the future. Whatever excesses and errors of speech and action were then disclosed came because our energy, though admirably inspired, lacked practical experience and knowledge.

“The idea of Indian nationhood is now not only rooted in the public mind, as all recent utterances go to show, but accepted in Europe and acknowledged by the Government and the governing race. The new idea that should now lead us is the realisation of our nationhood not separate from, but in the future scheme of humanity. When it has realised its own national life and unity, India will still have a part to play in helping to bring about the unity of the nations.”

I naturally put in a remark about the Under-Secretary’s ‘Angle of Vision.’

“It is well indeed,” observed Ghosh, “that British statesmen should be thinking of India’s proper place in the Councils of the Empire, and it is obviously a thought which, if put into effect must automatically alter the attitude of even the greatest extremists towards the Government and change for the better all existing political reasons.

“But it is equally necessary that we Indians should begin to think seriously what part Indian thought, Indian intellect, Indian nationhood, Indian spirituality, Indian culture have to fulfil in the general life of humanity. The humanity is bound to grow increasingly on. We must necessarily be in it and of it. Not a spirit of aloofness or of jealous self-defence, but of generous emulation and brotherhood with all men and all nations, justified by a sense of conscious strength, a great destiny, a large place in the human future—this should be the Indian spirit.”

The oneness of humanity is a topic dear to the heart of Babu Arabinda Ghosh and when I (i.e., the interviewer) suggested to him that Vedantic ideas would be a good basis for unity, his reply was full of enthusiasm:

“Oh, yes”, he said, “I am convinced and have long been convinced that a spiritual awakening, a re-awakening of the true self of the nation is the most important condition of our national greatness. The supreme Indian idea of the oneness of all men in God and its realisation inwardly and outwardly, increasingly even in social relations and the structure of society is destined, I believe, to govern the progress of the human race. India, if it chooses, can guide the world.”

And here I said something about our “four thousand” castes, our differences in dress and in “caste marks”, our vulgar sectarian antipathies and so on.

“Not so hard, if you please,” said Mr. Ghosh with a smile. “I quite agree with you that our social fabric will have to be considerably altered before long. We shall have, of course, to enlarge our family and social life, not in the petty spirit of present-day Social Reform, hammering at small details and belittling our immediate past, but with a large idea and more generous impulses. Our past with all its faults and defects should be sacred to us. But the claims of our future with its immediate possibilities should be still more sacred.”

His concluding words were spoken in a very solemn mood:

“It is more important that the thought of India should come out of the philosophical school and renew its contact with life, and the spiritual life of India issue out of the cave and the temple and, adapting itself to new forms, lay its hand upon the world. I believe also that humanity is about to enlarge its scope by new knowledge, new powers and capacities, which will create as great a revolution in human life as the physical science of the nineteenth century. Here, too, India holds in her past, a little rusted and put out of use, the key of humanity’s future.

“It is in these directions that I have been for some time impelled to turn my energies rather than to the petty political activities which are alone open to us at the present moment. This is the reason of my continued retirement and detachment from action. I believe in the necessity at such times and for such great objects, of Tapasya [2], in silence for self-training, for self-knowledge and storage of spiritual force. Our forefathers used that means, though in different forms. And it is the best means for becoming an efficient worker in the great days of the world.”

[1] Force, energy and vitality.
[2] Life of meditation and self-denial.

*

Tejendranath Mukherjee, Ambalal Patel and Biren Chunder: A Pictorial Homage

Dear Friends,

Time makes us forget many things of the past. But when we look at the photographs of the bygone eras, a flood of old but sweet memories come back to us. There were several interesting and popular personalities in Sri Aurobindo Ashram about whom the present generation knows very little. Some photographs of three Ashram Legends—Tejendranath Mukherjee, Ambalal Patel alias Ambu and Biren Chunder—who were loved and respected by one and all have been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation along with their brief biographies.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Tejendranath Mukherjee (24.6.1909—May 1989) was the eldest son of the revolutionary leader Bagha Jatin or Jatindranath Mukherjee (1879—1915) whom Sri Aurobindo considered his right-hand man. He was closely associated with the Anushilam Samiti of Kolkata and established active revolutionary centres in Nadia, Jessore and other districts of undivided Bengal. Influenced by Bhupendra Kumar Dutta, he joined the Jugantar party quite early in life. A staunch supporter of Dr. Syamaprasad Mookerji, he founded the Sanatana Dharma Parishad, served it as the Secretary and also re-launched the journal titled “Sarathi” (which was originally established by Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das with Anilbaran Roy as the Editor). On 15 August 1947 Tejendranath and his wife Usha Rani had their first darshan of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo had sent Rajani Palit, a senior inmate of the Ashram, to the Railway Station to receive Tejendranath. A year later, Tejendranath revisited Pondicherry with his wife and three sons Rathindranath, Prithwindranath and Dhritindranath (alias Togo). Usha Rani and her children were accepted by the Mother as inmates in October 1948. A year later, Tejendranath resigned from his job in Calcutta Corporation and joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram as an inmate where he spent the rest of his life. The Mother entrusted him with the task of blossoming the creative and artistic sides of the Ashram children who, and others, lovingly addressed him as “Borda” (meaning eldest brother in Bengali).

1 TejenTejendranath (with his arm raised up) with Mahatma Gandhi

Tejen with familyTejendranath with his wife Usha Rani and three sons Rathindranath, Prithwindranath and Dhritindranath (Togo)

TejenTejendranath with the Mother, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, Udar Pinto and others.

Tejen 1

Tejen 2

Tejen 3

Tejen 4

group photo

Photograph taken on 24 June 1949 at Dilip Kumar Roy’s residence in Pondicherry on the occasion of Tejendranath Mukherjee’s birthday. Seated in the first row (from left to right): Noren Singh, Nishikanto Roychowdhury, Tejendranath Mukherjee and Nirmal Singh. Second row: Panu Sarkar, Madan Bose, Dhir Singh, Ashok Patel, Unknown and Manju Gupta. Third row: Sisir Kumar Mitra, Nirodbaran Talukdar, Venkatraman and Yogananda. Standing: Satya Bose, Kashikanta, Jyotin Das, Sitaraman, Bir Singh, Chinu Mukherjee, Bhaskar Mitra and Rajen Ganguly.

Tejen 5

Tejen 6Tejendranath with Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, Nirmal Banerjee and Tara Jauhar.

Tejen 7Tejendranath with Sunil Bhattacharya and Dr. Nirodbaran Talukdar.

Tejen 8Tejendranath with the youngsters of the Ashram in the Playground.

With Udar, Arun, Chandrakant, Tejen and NoliniTejendranath with the Mother, Udar Pinto, Arun, Chandrakant and Nolini Kanta Gupta.

Tejen 9

Ambalal Patel (14.6.1909—18.4.1993), better known as Ambu, was born at Sojitra in Gujarat. He studied up to Class III and was compelled to discontinue his studies because of his poor eyesight. He joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram on 29 May 1928 at the age of seventeen. He worked in the Ashram Granary, Box-making Department, Dining Room, Garden Service and the Mother’s Kitchen. He also looked after the sick or invalid members of the Ashram and attended to the foreign disciples who visited the Ashram. He is best known as the master-instructor of asanas, especially hatha-yoga. The Mother addressed his as ‘My Baby’.

Ambu

Ambu 1

Ambu with MotherAmbu with the Mother, Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya and Udar Pinto.

02185_b

02186_b

02188_b

02190_b

02191_b

02192_b

02193_b

02194_b

02196_b

02197_b

02198_b

02199_b

Biren Chunder (10.4.1915—17.3.1997) was a well-known boxer of Bengal who became an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram on 11 August 1945. He was in charge of the Body Building Gym and later of the New Bindery. The messages that the Mother wrote in his diary from 1 April to 31 December 1954 were later published as Mantras of the Mother. He is best remembered for his physiotherapies which cured many people.

Biren Chunder with MotherBiren Chunder with the Mother, Noren Singh Nahar, Pavitra, Soli Albless and Gangaram Malwade.

Biren-Chunder1

Biren-Chunder2

Biren-Chunder3

Biren-Chunder5

Photographs courtesy: Gauri Pinto, Anshuman Bose, Benimadhav Mohanty, Anurag Banerjee and the late Dhritindranath Mukherjee alias Togo.

*

R.Y. Deshpande’s “Savitri’s SwapnaYoga” and Kittu Reddy’s “The Role of South India in the Freedom Movement” and “A Vision of United India: Problems and Solutions”.

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

I am happy to announce that the latest books of R. Y. Deshpande and Kittu Reddy are now available at Overman Foundation.

Swapna+Yoga+Front+F

R. Y. Deshpande’s Savitri’s Swapna Yoga is based on the Book of Yoga, Book Seven, Canto Two of Savitri.

“Immediately Savitri enters into the Dream or Swapna Yoga, when to her is revealed the entire cosmic Past, Past since the beginning of things out of the extraordinary all-potent Void of the manifesting Spirit. She has re-lived the psychic memory of the evolutionary unfoldment in the long process of time. She sees how the Past has arrived at the Present and also begins to perceive the Future’s prospects. In this stream of consciousness she recognises that Man is not the culmination of these epochal happenings, and that a greater superior being, a being first governed by the Mind of Light, Surhomme, Overman, must emerge and take the lead of the evolutionary march. A portion of the divine Savitri enters into her and puts a diamond seal of this materialisation on a bright course of the coming events. A high note is already struck in the gains of her Yoga.”

Consisting of 260 pages, Savitri’s Swapna Yoga is available at a price of Rs. 300 (Three Hundred) only.

Role of south india in the freedom movement

Kittu Reddy’s The Role of South India in the Freedom Movement presents the story of the freedom struggle that developed in South India and the ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom in South India. The presentation has two aspects; one, dealing with the events and incidents in which the freedom fighters were involved and two, the ideals and values that inspired the freedom fighters. The first represents the external side of the movement and the second the inner and deeper part. It is evident that the inner part is more important as it portrays the lasting and abiding values and ideals that led and inspired this movement, hence, the source of the inspiring ideals which existed at the root of the Indian nation are traced and identified.

Consisting of 254 pages, The Role of South India in the Freedom Movement is available at a price of Rs. 450 (Four Hundred and Fifty) only.

a vision of united india

A Vision of United India: Problems and Solutions attempts to trace the political history of India from the ancient times to the modern day. The book is divided into two sections. The first section has two parts, one dealing with the history of India before Independence and the second dealing with the history after Independence. In the first part, the political history of ancient India is traced and the success and failure to bring about political unity is analyzed. Next, the political situation after the advent of the Muslims is discussed in some detail. Later, the political situation after the British conquest of India and its policy of divide and rule has been discussed. Ultimately, India got its freedom but was partitioned and divided into two. In the second part, there is a detailed discussion and analysis of the political situation after the partition of India till the modern times. In the second section of this book, the author—based on his study of Political Science in the light of Sri Aurobindo—has tried to show that Pakistan as a nation will inevitably disintegrate. He has also tried to analyze the repeated attempts in the past to bring about a political unity, the partial success and the failure that has attended the attempts and also evaluated the reasons for the failure and made certain suggestions which may lead to the final solution of the problem of political unity of the subcontinent of India.

Consisting of 382 pages, A Vision of United India: Problems and Solutions is available at a price of Rs. 450 (Four Hundred and Fifty) only.

To place an order for the aforesaid books, kindly contact us as overmanfoundation@gmail.com and (0) 9830244192. Payment can be made through cheques, demand-drafts, money-order and online remittance. Please note that these books are not available at SABDA.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation

*

Photographs of Houses where Sri Aurobindo had stayed in Pondicherry

Dear Friends,

On 4 April 1910, around four in the afternoon Sri Aurobindo arrived at Pondicherry, the land which was destined to be his ‘cave of tapasya’. For the next one and a half decades he stayed at various houses with his companions till he shifted to the ‘Meditation House’ in February 1927.

4 April 2015 marks the 105th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Pondicherry. As our humble homage to him, the photographs of the houses where Sri Aurobindo had stayed in Pondicherry have been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

1

The house of Shankar Chettiar at 39 Camoutty Street (now 63 Vysial Street) where Sri Aurobindo stayed from 4 April 1910 to September 1910.

2The house of Sundar Chettiar at 42 Rue de Pavillon (now Rue Suffren Street) where Sri Aurobindo stayed from October 1910 to March 1911. The monthly rent was Rs. 20.

3

The house of Raghava Chettiar—better known as ‘Raghavan House’ at 13 Rue St. Louis Street where Sri Aurobindo stayed from April 1911 to April 1913.

4

In this house at 59 Rue des Missions Etrangèrs (now known as Mission Street) Sri Aurobindo stayed from April 1913 to September 1913. The rent of the house was Rs. 15 per month.

5

6

In this house at 41 François Martin Sri Aurobindo stayed from October 1913 to October 1922. This house later came to be known as the ‘Guest House’. It was here that on 29 March 1914 the Mother met Sri Aurobindo for the first time.

7

The ‘Library House’ at 9 Rue de la Marine where the Mother and Sri Aurobindo shifted to in October 1922. The monthly rent was Rs. 100. It was purchased on 6 April 1929 for Rs. 21000.

library-house-view-from-south-east‘Library House’—view from south-east.

meditation-house

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother shifted to the ‘Meditation House’ at 28 Rue François Martin on 8 February 1927. This house was rented from 1 January 1927 for a sum of Rs. 75 and purchased on 13 July 1927 for Rs. 14000.

(Photographs: courtesy Ms. Tara Jauhar)

*

Unused Passages for Savitri

Dear Friends,

As the continuation of our special series on Savitri, we have published the unused passages of the epic-poem which have been transcribed from the manuscripts which were ‘not directly used in the formation of the final version of Savitri.’ These passages were originally published in the December 1986 issue of Sri Aurobindo Archives and Research journal (Volume 10, Number 2) with the following note:

“In each case, there is at least some reason to suspect that these manuscripts, found among the thousands of pages of drafts and typescripts for the poem, may have been accidentally overlooked at the point where they should have been presented to Sri Aurobindo by his scribe for revision. However that may be, the fact that Sri Aurobindo used another manuscript as he proceeded to the final stages of revision, would make it problematic for an editor to try to incorporate lines from any of these unused versions into the body of the epic. Therefore these passages are presented here, separately from the new edition of Savitri, for their intrinsic interest and as illustrations of the complexity of the process by which the poem took shape.”

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Book II, Canto 6 [1]

Immortal secrecies, seer-wisdoms lost
In the descent towards our mortal fate
Spoke from the figures of her masquerade
In a familiar and forgotten tongue,
Or peered from the recondite magnificence
And subtle splendour of her draperies.
In sudden scintillations of the Unknown,
Glints from the opaque and strange translucencies,
Appearances and objects changed their powers;
Things without value heavenly values took,
Inexpressive sounds became veridical,
Ideas without meaning flashed apocalypse :
Wise tokens spelled out gibberish to the untaught;
And phrases which meant nothing and meant all
Wrapped in defensive armoured visored sight,
And oracles and sibylline prophecies
Offered themselves by the roadside for a price
Increased at each rejection by the mind;
Voices that seemed to come from unseen worlds
Uttered the syllables of the Unmanifest
And clothed the body of the mystic Word;
The wizard diagrams of an occult Force
Fixed for the world’s magic processes the law
Of their precise unaccountable miracle,
And hue and figure brought their unsounded deeps
Of mindless context to reconstitute
In the brooding hush of intuitive stillnesses
The herald blazon of Time’s secret things[.]
Amid her symbols of reality
(For such they seemed to a vision too remote
As we to a greater being symbols are,)
His life-walk was and new spiritual home :
He moved and lived with them as real forms,
Their lives were as concrete as the lives of men[,]
Their touch as vivid as our fellows touch ;
Their divine bodies make our fancies true
And bring to us breathing and animate
What in ourselves we only think and feel.
A grace of scenes quivered around him there
That were almost embodied [sympathies] (2);
Their breath of dreams and language without speech
Answered to the thought and passion of the soul.
There form and feeling were identical,
And shape and thought a single harmony;
Nothing was there brute and inanimate.
These scenes were signs in life’s long miracle-play.
In her green wildernesses and lurking depths,
In her thickets of joy where danger clasps delight,
He glimpsed the hidden wings of her songster hopes[,]
A glimmer of blue and gold and scarlet fire.
Along her wandering lanes and chance by-paths
And by her galloping rivulets and calm lakes
He plucked the glossy fruits of her self-ease
Or shared her rich content in browsing herds,
The light wayward flitting of her butterfly hours
And her love-callings in the voice of birds,
And felt her embodied sweetness in her vales,
Her wide hill-breasts glowing in the greatness of morn
And the lounging hips of her grasslands’ large sun-sleep
And her covert raptures in her forest haunts
And the beauty of her flowers of dream and muse.
Often in the radiant slumber of her noons
He saw incarnate in a swarm of gleams
On a glamour and gladness of bright surfaces,
A smile of depths, a cry of secrecies,
Thought’s dance of dragonflies on mystery’s stream
That skim but dare not dip in the murmur and race;

Or the levity of her immortal mind
He heard in [3] the laughter of her rose desires,
Running to lure the bliss of the heart’s surprise
Into a world of bloom and song and light
And through the scented ways to guide pursuit
Jangling sweet anklet-bells of fantasy.
A comrade of the silence of her heights
Accepted by her mighty loneliness,
He sat with her on meditation’s peaks
Where life and being are a sacrament
Offered to a Reality beyond
And stood with her upon the edge of Time
Looking into ineffable formlessness,
Or climbed a perilous stair in silent Mind
And from a watch-tower in self’s solitudes
He saw her loose into infinity
Her hooded eagles of significance,
Messengers of Thought to the Unknowable.
Thus close to her in body and in spirit[,]
Identified by soul-vision and soul-sense
And made one with all she was and longed to be,
He thought with her thoughts, suited to her steps his steps,
Lived by her breath and saw things with her eyes,
Fainted with her weakness, was powerful with her strength,
That so he might learn the secret of her soul.
He admired her splendid front of pomp and play
And the marvels of her rich and delicate craft
And her magic of order and her swift caprice,
And her indomitable will to be,
And thrilled with the insistence of her cry
And bore like a Mother’s ardent despot clutch
Her force that admits no other way than its own,
Her hands that knead Fate in their violent grasp,
Her touch that moves, her powers that seize and drive[.]
A will was in her to exceed her forms
Impatient to transfigure the finite world,
A huge desire to marry the Infinite ;
He felt in her her hope and her despair,
The trouble and rapture of her heaving breasts,
The passion that possessed her yearning limbs[,]
Her mind that toiled dissatisfied with its fruits,
Her heart that captured not the one Beloved.
But all that he could see or she disclose
Left still the ultimate secret unrevealed;
Something she was unknown to him or her.
Always he met a veiled and seeking Force,
An exiled Goddess building mimic heavens,
A Sphinx whose eyes looked up to an unseen Sun.

Book II, Canto 7 [4]

There Life displayed to the spectator soul
The shadow depths of her strange miracle.
As might a harlot empress in a bouge,
Nude, unashamed, exulting she upraised
Her evil face of perilous beauty and charm
And drawing panic to a shuddering kiss
Twixt the magnificence of her fatal breasts,
Allured to their abyss the spirit’s fall.
Once it had plunged, it asked not for release,
It took fierce joy in the ecstasy of its pains[,]
It found freedom’s taste in a choice of delicate bonds
And reigned, sovereign of its own decadence.
A plethora of scenes besieged the gaze,
Thought-webs that reproduced themselves in life
And taught the nature to be what it saw;
For it is mind that makes the form of the days
With the colours it absorbs from the world’s hues
And thought decides the destiny of the soul.
Across the field of sight she multiplied,
As on a scenic film or moving plate,
The implacable splendour of its nightmare pomps
And her rapture vision of infernal joys :
A glory of abominable things.
On the dark background of a soulless world
She staged between a lurid light and shade
Her dramas of the sorrow of the depths
Written on the anguished nerves of living things :
Her epics of horror and grim ruthless deeds
Paralysed pity in the hardened breast,
And the spectacle of the degraded soul
Dried up the founts of natural sympathy.
In her booths of sin and night-repairs of vice
Her sordid imaginations etched in flesh,
Signed photogravures of her infamy,
Published the covered dirt of Natures guilt,
And foul scenarios hideous and macabre
And gargoyle masques obscene and terrible
Came televisioned from the gulfs of Night:
And twisted caricatures of reality
And art chef-d’oeuvres of weird distorted lines
Trampled the torn sense into tormented shapes[.]
A craft of ingenious monstrosities
Made vileness great and sublimated filth

Book IV, Canto 2 [5]
The Growth of the Flame

A land of mountains and wide sun-beat plains
And giant rivers pacing to vast seas,
A marvellous land of reverie and trance,
Silence swallowing life’s act into its sea
And action springing from spiritual hush,
Of thought’s transcendent climb or heavenward leap,
Home of the mightiest works of God and man
Where Nature seemed a dream of the Divine
And beauty and grace and grandeur flowered from its dream,
Harboured the childhood of the incarnate Flame.
Over her watched millennial influences
And the deep godheads of a grandiose past
Looked out and saw the future’s godheads come.
Earth’s brooding wisdom spoke to her still breast;
Mounting from mind’s last peaks to mate with gods,
Making earth’s brilliant thoughts a springing board
To dive into the cosmic vastnesses
The knowledge of the thinker and the seer
Saw the unseen and thought the unthinkable,
Opened large doors upon infinity
And gave a shoreless sweep to mortal acts.
Art and the vision of beauty called to the eyes
Figure and hues native to higher worlds
Till this world’s images took that greater stamp.
Nature and soul vied in nobility.
Ethics keyed earthly lives to imitate heaven’s;
The harmony of a rich culture’s tones
Exhausted and exceeded earth’s full store,
Refined the sense and magnified its reach
To hear the unheard and glimpse the invisible
In subtle fields that escape our narrow ken
And taught the soul to soar beyond the known
And steal entry into the Immortals’ worlds.
Inspiring life to greaten beyond its bounds
Leaving earth’s safety daring wings of Mind
Bore her above the trodden roads of thought
To live on eagle heights nearer the Sun
Where wisdom sits on her eternal throne.
All her life’s turns led her to symbol doors
Admitting to secret Powers who were her kin;
Initiate of bliss and child of Light,
A mystic acolyte trained in Nature’s school
Aware of the marvel of created things
Her soul’s gifts she gave, earth-magic’s miracles
Laid on the altar of the Wonderful;
Her hours were a ritual in a timeless fane;
Her acts she made gestures of sacrifice.
Invested with the rhythm of higher spheres
The word became a hieratic means
For the release of the imprisoned spirit
Into communion with its comrade gods :
Helping to new expression and new form
Some immemorial Soul in men and things,
Seeker of the Unknown and the Unborn,
It drew the veil from Nature’s secrecies.

Book V, Canto 3 [6]

Now she travelled through many changing lands,
Earth round her was illumined by her joy;
Its hours were long supports for rapture’s face;
Life was an outbreak of the All-Wonderful.
All hope and chance took on a brighter shape:
This ordinary life of man could change;
The seal was there of the Ineffable.

This meeting cut across old Nature-lines
To pen upon its bold decisive page
The foreword of her soul’s biography.
Two powers had come down from the unknown Beyond
To play their part upon the cosmic ground.
These spirits linked two lines of eternity,
These bodies joined two points of the infinite.
These lives must serve the Timeless and Unseen
For writing out in symbol human acts
The meaning of God’s mystery play in Time.

Book VI, Canto 2 [7]

But hard it is for human mind to feel
Heaven’s good in life’s crash and the iron grasp of Doom
Or tolerate the dreadful mystery
Of pain and grief and evil masking God.
How can it seize the thousand-sided drive,
The single act pointing a million acts,
The mystic total of the magical sum
Or swept by the world-ocean’s rushing waves
Sense mid the wash and spume and loud multitude
The one all-discerning Will, the [touch, the] (8) tread
Of God’s indivisible reality?
Man’s thought is like a diamond cutting gems[,]
Man’s will is like a labourer hewing stones:
He cuts into sky-strips the boundless Truth
And takes each strip as if it were all the heavens.
His knowledge chained to thought and led by words
Is gaoled in the divisions it has made.
He looks at infinite possibility
And gives to its plastic Vast the name of Chance;
He sees the long result of the all-wise Force
And feels the cold rigid limbs of lifeless Law.
The will of the Timeless working out in Time
In the free absolute steps of cosmic Truth
He thinks a dead machine, an unconscious fate.
It is decreed and Satyavan must die;
Her hour is known, foreseen the fatal stroke.
What else shall be is written in her soul,
But till the hour reveals the fateful script,
The writing waits illegible and mute.
Her mortal breast hides her immortal Fate.
O King, thy fate is a transaction fixed
In long advance but altered and renewed
At every hour between Nature and thy soul[.]
Its items ever grow and ever change ;
It is a balance drawn in Destiny’s book.
Thou canst open with thy fate a new account
Begun upon a stainless virgin page.
Thou canst dispute her formidable claim
With God as the foreseeing arbiter,
Thou canst accept thy fate, thou canst refuse[.]
Even if the Judge maintains the unseen decree
Yet thy refusal is in thy credit written :
Death is no end, Fate moves, it stands not still.
Its will unshaken by the bronze blare of Doom,
The spirit soars up stronger by defeat,
Its godlike wings grow wider with each fall.
Its growth within is watered by its wounds[,]
Its splendid failures’ sum is victory.
Thy fate touches the abyss to leap at heaven.
Thy fate is like an army’s marching ranks;
It has many fronts and stands on many lines.
Thy future’s map is kept in planes unseen,
Thy soul has planned its strategy with God.
Thy body’s fate comes first, a column pushed
Through the forts of the present to a city unknown;
Its march is marshalled by the wheeling stars
That carry its cosmic consigns in their light.
It sees not where it goes but walks by faith ;
It smites its way through the world’s opponent powers,
Or, frustrate, longs and waits a happier birth.
A second front is in a greater plane;
Thence thy life-forces drive like rolling waves
Its small or large formations towards earth’s days
And swell the might of thy terrestrial fate
Or as the wind-gods’ squadrons jostle in heaven,
Trumpeting with breath of storm and thunder’s call
And their arrows like gold lightnings fill the sky[,]
Such is their coming, such their clamour and charge[.]
In armour bright the shining riders come[,]
Leaders hurrying Destiny’s tardy pace,
Victors preparing grander shocks to come.
If the soul could rise into that greater plane
And with its motions quicken man’s petty life,
Erasing the firm consigns of the stars
Thy will could then give orders to thy fate[.]
On the radiant skyline of a greater Mind
The Ideas that Fate fulfils not yet are seen[.]
The secret Will has its headquarters there
That planned the tactics of the things that are
And behind them plans for greater things to be[.]
Thence gleam the reconnaissances divine[,]
Thence come the prophet scouts, the [observer] (9) seers,
The godlike dreams, the vast and wide-winged thoughts
That cannot yet take shape in earthly life,
But here and there small part-fulfilments dawned
And of their fragments is our present made.
But if the soul could live upon those heights,
Then would his life be the plaything of his thoughts,
His mind could be the shaper of his fate.
Above all glows a supramental range.
There is God’s staff; there is his High Command[.]
The Truth lives there which oversees the world[,]
Of which all things are the disfiguring robe[.]
O mortal, even now couldst thou receive
Only some influence from that marvellous plane,
All then would change, divinity be thy fate.

*

[1] Cf. Centenary edition, pp. 189-91. This is Sri Aurobindo’s last handwritten version of the passage following the line “And wordless mouths unrecognisable.” An earlier manuscript was used for the final dictated revision of the end of this canto and the beginning of the next.

[2] MS scenes; the previous draft has “sympathies”.

[3] Or and

[4] Cf. Centenary edition, pp. 212-13. This is Sri Aurobindo’s last handwritten version of this passage.

[5] Cf. Centenary edition, pp. 359-60. The top and carbon copies of a typescript of this canto were differently revised on separate occasions. This is the most significantly revised portion of the top copy, which was not directly used for the final text.

[6] These lines are found, written in the scribe’s hand, at the end of a typed copy of this canto.

[7] Cf. Centenary edition, pp. 457-59. This is another version, written by Sri Aurobindo in a chit-pad, of the passage following the line “It keeps for her her privilege of pain.”

(8) Two words doubtful.

(9) Doubtful reading.

*

ABC’s of Indian National Education: A Review

cover

Title: ABC’s of Indian National Education. Author: Dr. Beloo Mehra. Price: Rs. 495 (Hardcover). Number of pages: 155. Publisher: Standard Publishers (India), New Delhi. ISBN: 978-81-87471-94-3.

During the British rule in India, the education policy of the land was formulated with the view of building a “nation of clerks” to suit the requirements of the British Government. Such was the impact of this system of education that it lasted for more than four decades after India gained her independence on 15 August 1947. One can argue about the effectiveness of this system but it is interesting to observe that the former rulers of the land knew quite well how flawed it was. The greatest flaw of this system was that it lacked an integrally Indian approach. Yet, this flawed system was overlooked by the very Indian ministers who came to power post-independence. Some time in 1984, the Government of India formulated a new national policy of education which has been revised and modified more than thrice in the following years.

However, one cannot ignore the fact that there has certainly been a radical progress in the education sector in the past two decades. But unfortunately, the educational institutions of India aim primarily at producing brilliant students instead of living souls. All the students are compelled to participate in the rat-race, study for the sake of obtaining degrees in order to get high-salaried jobs and that’s all. The so-called process of learning includes only memorizing the contents of the textbooks and reproducing them almost verbatim on the answer-sheets. As a result, the students comfortably forget most of what they have learnt soon after the examinations are over. One can also not fail to notice how a student is pressurized by his parents, teachers and private tutors to excel. When he fails to live up to their expectations, he is rebuked so harshly that he tends to lose all confidence within him. How can one possibly ignore the ever-increasing number of suicides by young promising lads due to the aforementioned pressure?

Whom should we then blame? The parents? No. The teachers? No.

Then who?

It is the education system which needs to be blamed. Acquisition of knowledge and information should be a part of the education system while its heart should be the development of the potentialities of the student, thus, helping him to analyze and synthesize the knowledge he is acquiring.

But how can it be done? Are there any clear-cut practical methods?

Fortunately Dr. Beloo Mehra has gifted her readers an extraordinary book titled ABC’s of Indian National Education where she has discussed distinctly how true knowledge can be successfully rendered to the students. There are twenty-six chapters in this book—each deals with a theme which begins with a letter of the English alphabet. For instance, “A”—“Aim of Education”, “B”—“Beauty—A Beautiful Education”, “D”—“Diversity”, “H”—“History and Heritage”, “J”—“Joy of Discovery”, “K”—“Knowing Oneself” and so on.

Though the author has referred to the works of Rabindranath Tagore, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Shashi Tharoor, Pavan K. Varma, Makarand Paranjpe and others, the inspiration behind ABC’s of Indian National Education is certainly the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The author has delved into the ocean of their writings and presented before the reader a number of invaluable pearls of wisdom related to the theme of education.

The academic scenario of the country would have been quite different had Sri Aurobindo’s concept of education was put to practice. The path to progress has been showed by Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, the Mother, but the author has shown—in ABC’s of Indian National Education—how to tread on it successfully. It would be an error to assume that this book is only for the members of the academic world. Nay, on the contrary, it is for the general reader as well. One cannot help but appreciate the author’s lucid style of writing and her thought-provoking insights and observations on how the academic model should be. She has hinted how we can have a modern outlook on education as well as a modern method of educating without ignoring the rich cultural heritage of the land. The author has also successfully explained how the system of education in India could be appropriately Indianized.

For the benefit of the reader, certain excerpts from the book are quoted beneath:

• ‘Education… becomes the means to help prepare learners for a deeper transformation and inner evolution, which requires that all parts of their being—mental, emotional and physical—are properly prepared and developed to their fullest potential in order to manifest a harmonious and integral personality. In this light, education begins with the birth of the individual and continues throughout the life. At the same time education can never ignore its collective or social purpose which is closely inter-related to the individual existence. But the collective purpose is not only limited to the immediate society or nation, it extends to the whole humanity. This has great implications for curriculum planning, pedagogy and actual day-to-day teaching practice in classroom.’ (p. 23)

• ‘If teachers truly become mentors and guides for their students, surely they can’t be “experts”—they have to be humble learners alongside their students’ learning journeys. Experts speak from a position of their expertise; mentors offer suggestions for students to explore and come to their own decision. Experts know the right formula, mentors are willing to say that they don’t have the answer but they are willing to explore with the student. If nothing can be taught, it only means that all can be learned. So teachers and students can learn together as they work together—they just may have different roles but they are both seekers in their own unique ways.’ (p. 43)

• ‘Hiring policies for teachers must also be rethought in the light of greater individualization that must be necessary to allow learners with varied temperaments and natures to feel their way through their self-discovery processes. For younger learners, parents may be given more opportunities to become part of their children’s learning processes in classrooms because they are the ones who are most closely familiar with their children’s temperament and nature. Pedagogical innovations must be encouraged to allow greater individualized learning, even in classrooms with a large group of students. Greater flexibility in assessment of student learning must be allowed. Schools must gradually figure out the much needed balance between imposing an outer discipline and facilitating learners to gradually find their sense of inner guidance and self-discipline. While allowing the learners to grow in a multifaceted way by giving them opportunities to develop all their parts—physical, intellectual, emotional, aesthetic, ethical—education must never forget that ultimately all these parts are instruments of that inner being which gradually grows through them, and it is that which alone can be the source of the true inner guide which learners and adults need to walk through their lives. Even an intellectual acceptance of this idea can help guide those in the decision-making roles in educational institutions and other apex bodies in their work. The tendency to erect a system of strictest possible rules and regulations may gradually wither away and in its place we may find a more humane and individual-centred flexible system of broad guidelines and directions.’ (p. 49)

• ‘It is of utmost necessity that teachers must first unlearn what they presently know or think they know about the function of a teacher. And they should then re-learn the true role that a teacher must play in the child’s life—that of a gentle facilitator who tries to create an ideal atmosphere where the children can discover the knowledge that lies hidden within them through proper impetus and gradual unfolding and development of various faculties.’ (p. 113)

The author does not merely deal with the theoretical aspect of national education in this book but shows how it can be successfully implemented. If read with an open mind without any possible prejudices, this book is bound to bring about a change in one’s way of thinking. The author deserves to be congratulated for leading us to that Light of Knowledge and Wisdom which is capable of illuminating our lives. For, after all, education is the only light which can disperse the darkness of ignorance for ever.

There are books which we read and keep in the book-shelf. And there are books which become a part of our daily life. Dr. Beloo Mehra’s ABC’s of Indian National Education belongs to this second category.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Facsimiles of Sri Aurobindo’s “Savitri” (1916-1946)

Dear Friends,

Sri Aurobindo had started working on his epic poem Savitri in August 1916 and continued to revise and enlarge it till November 1950. In its earliest form, the poem was a narrative of about two thousand lines and by the time the ‘seal of incomplete completion’ (to quote the words of Nirodbaran, Sri Aurobindo’s scribe to whom he had dictated his revisions of Savitri) was put to it, it consisted of nearly twenty-four thousand lines of marvellous poetry.

For the benefit of interested researchers, some facsimiles of the various drafts of Savitri (obtained courtesy Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry and Dr. R. Y. Deshpande) covering a period of three decades have been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

1

2

3

4

56

7Earliest draft of Savitri, circa: 1916. Please note that in the first draft, the poem was simply titled Savithri.

8. Book II---Love (1918-1920)Book II, “Love”, (1918-1920)

Canto II (c. 1918) with dictated revision (c. 1945)Canto II (circa: 1918) with dictated revision (c. 1945)

Canto III, Death (c. 1918) with dictated revision (c. 1946)Canto III, “Death”, (circa: 1918) with dictated revision (c. 1945)

Canto V, Twilight (c. 1918) with dictated revision (1946-47)Canto V, “Twilight”, (circa: 1918) with dictated revision (c. 1945)

*

The second version of the poem was titled Savithri, A Tale and a Vision. ‘Apparently it was meant to be in more than one part, because before Book I, we have the general title: Earth. Book I is called Quest.’ (Nirodbaran, Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo, p. 174, 1995 edition)

mid 1920s Savithri A Tale and a Vision

mid 1920s-Savithri A Tale and a Vision.jpg (1)Nirodbaran continues: ‘The third version is also called by the same general name and its first part is Earth, and Book I is Quest… In the fourth version we get for the first time the spelling Savitri though Uswapathy persists. There is no indication of a division into Part I and Part II. Book I is there, called Quest. In the fifth version we have a mention of Part I, but it is not called by any name. We also have Book I, unnamed…The spelling Uswapathy persists, Book II is entitled Love. In the sixth version there are no parts again, but the Book I is called Quest. The seventh version has: I Quest… In the eighth version we have everything as in the seventh except that the spelling Aswapathy comes in. Book II is there entitled Love.’ (Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo, pp. 174-176, 1995 edition)

Book I, Quest (late 1920s)Book I, Quest (1927)

Facsimiles of Book I, Quest (late 1920s)

Nirodbaran continues: ‘The ninth version has the same opening arrangement. The tenth version stands: Savitri Part I, Earth. Book I, The Book of Birth. Aswapathy continues, but there is now Sathyavan.’ (Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo, p. 176, 1995 edition)

A

B

C

*

DFacsimile of Book II: The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds

Page of Book of Birth (early 1930s)

The Book of Birth (early 1930s)Facsimiles of The Book of Birth (early 1930s)

The Book of Love (early 1930s)Facsimile of The Book of Love (early 1930s)

Nirodbaran further continues: ‘In each succeeding version after the first, there is a growing expansion in which old lines are taken up into a new framework. The development into separate Books from what was originally all contained within Book I and Book II takes place after the second or third version of the opening matter. This matter now becomes The Book of Quest, followed by The Book of Love, The Book of Fate, The Book of Death. Thus Part I, Earth, is completed. Then starts Part II, Beyond, with The Books of Night, Twilight, Day and The Epilogue.’ (Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo, p. 176, 1995 edition)

opening canto of Night (1940s)Facsimile of the opening of “Night” (circa: 1940s)

*

opening passage of savitri 1942Facsimile of the opening passage of Savitri (1942 version)

The Book of Beginnings (1942 version)Facsimile of the Book of Beginnings contd. (1942 version)

*

Book Two, Canto 4 (1943)Book Two, Canto 4 (1943) Book Two, Canto 4 (1943).jpg (2)Facsimiles of Book II, Canto IV (1943 version)

1st page of 1944 manuscriptFacsimile of the first page of Savitri (1944 version)

A column of the 1944 manuscript of Part 1

penultimate draft of 1944 manuscript

penultimate draft of 1944 manuscript.jpg (2)penultimate draft of 1944 manuscript.jpg (3)Facsimiles of the 1944 version of Savitri

last manuscript of the opening of Savitri (c. 1945)Facsimile of the first page of Savitri (1945 version)

chit pad pages 1945-46

later manuscripts

large_z16Facsimile of Sri Aurobindo’s last manuscripts of Savitri (1945-46)

*

“Eternity looked out from Her on Time”: A Pictorial Album of the Mother

file-page1

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

We are happy to announce that a pictorial album of the Mother titled Eternity looked out from Her on Time is available at Overman Foundation.

Issued on the occasion of the centenary of the Mother’s arrival in Pondicherry in 1914, this album presents 120 selected photographs from the Mother’s life, many accompanied by texts from Sri Aurobindo or the Mother. Photos from her childhood and early years in Paris as well as a number from her stay in Japan precede the more numerable ones from her life in the Ashram. The Preface provides a brief introduction and creates an ambience for experiencing the Mother’s presence through these photographs.

Consisting of 91 pages, this profoundly appreciated album is available at a price of Rs. 300 (Three Hundred) only.

To place an order please contact at: overmanfoundation@gmail.com or (0) 98302 44192 and (0) 98042 05059.

Payment can be made online as well as through money-orders, cheques and demand-drafts.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 109 other followers