Auro-Ratna Awards 2011

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

Since its inception in March 2010 Overman Foundation aims to recognize the invaluable contribution of the scholars, writers, researchers and workers of the Aurobindonian movement in various fields. For this purpose, the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ was initiated to felicitate the ‘true children’ of the Divine, who, as defined by the Mother, are those few who have consecrated all of themselves and all they have—soul, life, work and wealth. In 2010, the recipients of the first ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ were K. D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran, Prof. Arabinda Basu and the late Jugal Kishore Mukherjee.

Today, on behalf of Overman Foundation, I take the opportunity to announce the names of the recipients of the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ for the year 2011. This year the award will be given to Shri Robi Gupta, Dr. Kireet Joshi and Dr. Prithwindranath Mukherjee for their outstanding contribution in the field of literature, education, philosophy and research.

Shri Robi Gupta (b. 1926) is the youngest son of the late Nolini Kanta Gupta. He became an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1944. He is one of the foremost poets of Sri Aurobindo Ashram whose works were appreciated by Sri Aurobindo himself who gave him the title of ‘Tagore of the Ashram’. A linguist and the recipient of the prestigious ‘Sri Aurobindo Puraskar’, Shri Robi Gupta’s published works in Bengali include ‘Swapani’, ‘Sarani’, ‘Mandakini’, ‘Mormomoral’, ‘Geeti-arghya’ and ‘Shiulijhora Bhorer Bela’ to name a few.

Dr. Kireet Joshi (b. 1931) studied philosophy and law at the Bombay University. He was selected for I. A. S. in 1955 but in 1956 he resigned to devote himself at Sri Aurobindo Ashram to the study and practice the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He taught Philosophy and Psychology at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education at Pondicherry and participated in numerous educational experiments under the guidance of the Mother. In 1976 the Government of India invited him to be the Educational Adviser in the Ministry of Education. In 1983 he was appointed Special Secretary to the Government of India and held this post till 1988. From 1987 to 1993 he was the Member-Secretary of Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan. From 1987 to 1990 he served as the Vice-Chairman of the UNESCO Institute of Education, Hamburg. In the Ministry of Education, he was in-charge of Higher Education, National Commission on Teachers, Languages, Youth Affairs and UNESCO affairs. He was also the Chairman of Auroville Foundation and Indian Council of Philosophical Research. His published works include ‘Sri Aurobindo and Integral Yoga’, ‘Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’, ‘Education for Character Development’, ‘Education for Tomorrow’, ‘Education at Crossroads’, ‘Glimpses of Vedic Literature and Veda and Indian Culture’ and ‘Philosophy and Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and Other Essays’.  

Dr. Prithwindra Nath Mukherjee (b. 1936) is the grandson of the famous revolutionary Jatindranath Mukherjee alias Bagha Jatin. He came to Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1948, studied and taught at Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. He was mentioned by the Sahitya Akademi manuals and anthologies as a poet before he attained the age of twenty. He has translated the works of French authors like Albert Camus, Saint-John Perse and René Char for Bengali readers, and eminent Bengali authors into French. He shifted to Paris with a French Government Scholarship in 1966. He defended a thesis on Sri Aurobindo at Sorbonne. He served as a lecturer in two Paris faculties, a producer on Indian culture and music for Radio France and was also a freelance journalist for the Indian and French press. His thesis for PhD which studied the pre-Gandhian phase of India’s struggle for freedom was supervised by Raymond Aron in Paris University. In 1977 he was invited by the National Archives of India as a guest of the Historical Records Commission. He presented a paper on ‘Jatindranath Mukherjee and the Indo-German Conspiracy’ and his contribution on this area has been recognized by eminent educationists. A number of his papers on this subject have been translated into major Indian languages. He went to the United States of America as a Fullbright scholar and discovered scores of files covering the Indian revolutionaries in the Wilson Papers. In 1981 he joined the French National Centre of Scientific Research. He was also a founder-member of the French Literary Translators’ Association. In 2003 he retired as a researcher in Human and Social Sciences Department of French National Centre of Scientific Research in Paris. A recipient of ‘Sri Aurobindo Puraskar’, in the same year he was invited by Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for the world premiere of Correspondances, opus for voice and orchestra where the veteran composer Henri Dutilleux had set to music Prithwindra’s French poem on Shiva Nataraja, followed by texts by Solzhenitsyn, Rilke and Van Gogh. In 2009 he was appointed to the rank of chevalier (Knight) of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Minister of Culture of France. He has penned books in English, Bengali and French and some of his published works include ‘Samasamayiker Chokhe Sri Aurobindo,’ ‘Pondicherryer Dinguli’, ‘Bagha Jatin’, ‘Sadhak-Biplobi Jatindranath’, ‘Undying Courage’, ‘Vishwer Chokhe Rabindranath’, ‘Thât/Mélakartâ : The Fundamental Scales in Indian Music of the North and the South’ (foreworded by Pandit Ravi Shankar), ‘Poèmes du Bangladesh’, ‘Serpent de flammes’, ‘Le sâmkhya’, ‘Les écrits bengalis de Sri Aurobindo’, ‘Chants bâuls, les Fous de l’Absolu’, ‘Anthologie de la poésie bengalie’ and ‘Les racines intellectuelles du movement d’independence de l’Inde (1893-1918)’ ending up with Sri Aurobindo, “the last of the Prophets”.  

It will be our privilege to hand over the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’, named after Sri Aurobindo, to three of his most faithful followers.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee

Chairman and Chief Executive,

Overman Foundation.

Nishikanto’s English poems

Dear Friends,

The late Nishikanto Raichowdhury (1909-1973) was one of the greatest mystic poets not only of Sri Aurobindo Ashram but of Bengal as well. In his early years, he was a student of Kala Bhawan (Santiniketan) where he was one of the blue-eyed boys of Rabindranath Tagore and Abanindranath Tagore. He joined the Ashram in 1934. Sri Aurobindo was an ardent admirer of his poetry and had called him the ‘Brahmaputra of Inspiration’. He is also known as the lyricist of some of Dilip Kumar Roy’s best-known songs in Bengali.

Nishikanto mostly wrote in Bengali but for a very short period he had attempted to compose verses in English. These poems, along with translations of his other Bengali poems into English by Dilip Kumar Roy, were published under the title of ‘Dream Cadences’ in 1946. In his foreword to ‘Dream Cadences’, Kishor Gandhi has written: ‘These poems have a value to those who are interested in the process of poetic creation in as much as whatever poetic merit they have is solely due to the poet’s innate sense of rhythm and word-music…It would seem that the poet, in his inner being, is in direct contact with some far-away Land of Felicity where the Muse of Poetic Beauty reigns supreme and the unearthly strains of music and the magical hues of that land flow through him unhindered in large streams of haunting melody and captivating vision…Nishikanto’s success in the field of English poetry would appear to suggest that it is not impossible for an exceptionally gifted and powerful poet to surmount altogether the need of knowing the metrical technique by sheer force of his inborn and intimate sense of the spirit of rhythm and subtle word-music; the invisible Spirit of Word-Beauty with which he is in direct contact would itself provide him with its intrinsic body-forms, its shapes and structures of visible embodiment.’

 Today, on the occasion of Nishikanto’s 102nd birth anniversary, we take the opportunity of sharing with you some of his original compositions in English.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee


Overman Foundation.




I am the clay-petal of a mortal flower-birth,

     I am the barren brownness of desert-desire,

Through my dim pores is fluted the music of earth,

     My breast bears the candle of a glow-worm fire.


I am a pilgrim-poet on the ways of the world,

    My poems are surging upon Time’s ocean,

Around my life’s stone-torpor ages have swirled,

    Far-calling fountain voices of deep emotion.


When the divine death-victor Will comes near,

    My sleeping soul remembers an ancient duty:

My dark dungeons, light-festivalled, disappear,

    And heavenly jewels jingle in my earth-beauty.

Crowned with pure joy, each clamouring atom stills:

At the feet of the timeless Beloved my body thrills.



              O MY HEART


Like a star in the sky, like a flower in May

    You bloom, O my heart, in the deep,

Like a shell which bears the pure pearl play

     In an ocean of vigilant sleep.


You have your colours, you have your brush

    And a canvas eternally wide;

In a trance you dance with the luminous hush

    Bearing Time’s silent tide.


You are moulding the clay to an angel’s eye,

     And moving the thorn as a pen

You change the black veil with a golden dye

    And break the blind dark den.


Consciousness grows in the Mother divine,

    You laugh on her lap in your dream;

Your thoughts are bright with her red sun-wine

    And your words in her silver moonbeam.


Sleep, sleep, O my bird, in your glorious nest

    Like a pearl in the deep’s delight,

Like a star of the sky in its radiant rest,

    Like a flower on a timeless height.





From where come the shimmering dots of emerald green

    On the dead-red canvas of a stone-stricken soil?

Such honey-sweet plenty flowers from what source unseen—

    Here, where earth’s form is a crude poisonous coil?


Here I have seen a straight brush-stroke, iron-ash-grey,

    A long winding of palm groves horizon-stretched,

Branches of star-triangular rhythm with heaven-sapphire play,

    Steel-strong sinews by deathless spirals caged.


O thou, the Almighty Artist of royal reality,

    Teach me thy technique of miraculous transformation,

By which I can lose my flesh-born dull triviality

    And gain release for my life, gain realisation.


Give Thy colour-fountained luminous brush of power,

Let bloom through my hard granite a heavenly flower.



                    THE YAWNING WEST


A darkness masked as light its angry motion hurls,

    The lost dark sun shines like a hungry vulture’s eye,

A serpent way from horizon to horizon swirls

    Its flow of aimless, dreamless travellers. Destiny


In a soul-paralysed wakefulness sets world-life to swim

    On a sweet-coloured poison-deep. Demon shades

Recast into dire splendours through human faces gleam

    In a flesh-festivalled glory: shimmering flame pervades


From the hard black-fire mouth of mortality and men’s gaze

    Is blind with burning undelight; Hideously nude,

The body moves, a myriad-mooded carnal blaze

    In a death-desiring day, the devil’s prostitute.


On the western shore the breaking old world roars,

    The vampire witch her all-devouring dragon face

Opens where the evening scene of evil floods and pours

    The blood of an old sun.


                                           Here a pure crystal grace

Crowns the horizoned east far from that tossing sea;

     New evolution here unrolls its tranquil white—

Mooned consciousness.


                                                     O embodied fair Infinity,

     Mother of a divine creation, touch with heavenly Light,

Release the earth from cruelty of the demon-day.

    Thou hast taken up my fate, queen of the radiant throne,

In thy high cradle of star-truth; I laugh and play

    And nestle in thy heart’s sapphire hyaline. An unknown

Joy hushes now my soul: it carries still sublime

Words, thy celestial necklace jewelling endless Time.





My consciousness flows like a wide and glowing river;

    The gloomy tide is now a splendour-gleam,

Thou hast come and thriven in me, O rhythm-giver,

    I brim with thy full-mooned creative dream.


            In my bosom’s secret core

            Thou hast opened a radiant door

            And through it vast melodies pour:

A gold descent with heavenly murmur, an angel-stream.


The world of clay bears a gorgeous change

    While round her neck I wreathe a sun-garland

Of amaranth glory. Far enchanting fiery and strange

     Starry notes flame through each earthly strand.


             O trivial creatures of flesh

             In pleasure’s dim painful mesh,

             I shall make you bright and fresh

And free, with the marvel touch of a mighty lustrous hand.


The pale gray and black dry thorns upon the way

Under my tread blossom to beaming rays,

The universe is a lyre that tunes a play,

Fragrant with my heart’s rosary of godly grace.

              I have shattered the hard rocky prison

              Like a spring my spirit has risen

              And flooded the desert horizon;

My life illumines the death-dark night of time and space.



                       TRIPLE TREMOLO


A mystic land, a world of magic wonder;

    A picture painted with subtle light and shade;

A white moon lotus of deep and delicate splendour;

    A rainbow romance—a rose of passion-red.


A land of light with a delightful play;

    A festival manifested with heavenly claim;

Descending showers that make to blossom the clay

    An eveless and a sleepless sunfire flame.


A land of earth with many laughters and tears

    Churned and cherished in the bosom of a yearning source,

Through the mortal game immortal experience bears

    And pulls at the sky with giant cords of force.


O painter and poet-musician of my human birth,

I am tuned in thy tremolo of dreamland, heaven and earth.



                       MERMAID ANGEL


The dull gold of departing day dissolves in the west,—

    A barren evening’s nut-brown atmosphere

Fading to shadow slowly on the horizon-crest;

    With a wan dream of dead sun I am walking here;


Before me moves an ocean of vastitude sapphire

    With wavy curves cream-soft and Chinese-white,

And from the Unfathomed rises a vision of silver-fire—

    Shimmering with grace of a crystal God-light


A mermaid angel of beauty and movement came,

    Revealed the pearl-purity of your divine deep

With star-rising bright eyes and a moment-whim

   Of jewelling play and rhythmic delightful sweep.


It changed time, transformed the day’s departing tear.

Turned to crystal my dull nut-brown atmosphere.



                 THE NIGHT OF SILENCE


Hark, the voice of silence, call of the midnight bird:

    The tune shakes the root of the dumb sleep earth,

It climbs above spreading its echoes through the stirred

     Ways of heaven and jingles with stars of marvel-mirth.


The veil of mystery slowly lifts with the ethereal sounds;

    The unknown beauty of night opens to the solemn vast

Infinitude: the dream-rose garland of love surrounds

    The maiden on her velvet couch—an expectancy cast

Like lightning among the blind foldings of cloudy time;

    The delivered consciousness of the imprisoned thirst for light

Brims now with song of celestial streams, the joyous chime

    Glows with an inner moon-rise melody, gold and white,

Drenching the desert-dark of the world; O Immortal lore

Of mortal birth, like the bright-winged bird with you I soar.



               ETERNITY’S PLAYMATE


My consciousness is caught by a giant power,    

     And I am drinking heavenly vats of wine;

My moments now are starring Time’s black tower,

     My thought ripples on the infinite crystalline.


An unhorizoned moon of peacefulness

    Beams her white widening calm in my soul-centre:

A new sun thrills, creating golden days,

    Moved by the magic brush of my heart’s painter.


O force beyond all speech, joined is my fate

    To your everlasting ecstasy of fire;

For I have grown eternity’s playmate,

     Tossing my diamond-music of desire.


World after world melts to a spirit-shower:

My consciousness is caught by a giant power.





A red sea swings

      On the crystal deep,

The rainbow sings

      On a white wide sleep;

   The greenwood bowl

   To horizon-goal

       Flows with a wine of golden streams


The flame-lives dance

       On a still life-fire,

And soul-songs glance

        On a mute sapphire;

      Births are all dews

     Of human hues—

         Bubbles of wine with desire-dreams.


But who is the deep

And white wide sleep?

       The giant hushed with intoxication

       Is drinking the dreams of his bubbling creation.



                     SEALED TO SILENCE


The night is sealed to silence: on lonely seat

     I feel One motionless mute in my heart; deep

In inexpressible thoughts, the white moon-lit

     Omniscient dreams in his wide illumined sleep.


Songs curve like slow billows on a soundless sea,

     The profound and solemn call of a face unseen

Opens veils of unfathomable mystery,

      And the fire-bosomed visions of eternity lean


To the nude and flaming beauty of a new world;

     Time’s charioteer wheels on with wordless force.

A myriad virgin fancies have flowered and pearled

     In the poet, — the moment-moulder; the crystal source


Of the Creator flows through the stillness of burning stars

And my soul drowned in their silence his numberless creations bears.



                       VIOLET DRINK


A blind background of nothingness; a bare

       Horizonless desert covered up by a vast

       Skyless mist: with a sudden violent blast

It cracked; and the leap of a red, fiery glare


Revealed from the dense mist a blazing mountain

       Of crimsoned snow and ranges of purple light

       Kissed by a cobalt firmament; leaving the height

A violet river streamed from its luminous fountain.


Through the valleys’ labyrinth of emerald green

       There rose a form of beauty and immaculate grace—

       A silver halo round the moon-white face—

And towards me slowly came. With her hands of sheen


She held the violet drink in a golden cup before

My yearning lips. I drank; the vision was no more!



Sri Aurobindo’s letters to his father-in-law

Dear Friends,

Today we are sharing with you two letters written by Sri Aurobindo to his father-in-law Bhupal Chandra Bose (1861—1937). The first letter, dated 8 June 1906, was written during the early days of Sri Aurobindo’s political career and the second letter, dated 19 February 1919, was penned shortly after the death of Sri Aurobindo’s wife Mrinalini Devi in December 1918. These letters are indeed very special for they reveal the unknown aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s personality.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee


Overman Foundation.



                                                                                             June 8th 1906.

My dear father-in-law,

    I could not come over to Shillong in May, because my stay in Eastern Bengal was unexpectedly long. It was nearly the end of May before I could return to Calcutta, so that my programme was necessarily changed. I return to Baroda today. I have asked for leave from the 12th, but I do not know whether it will be sanctioned so soon. In any case I shall be back by the end of the month. If you are anxious to send Mrinalini down, I have no objection whatever. I have no doubt my aunt will gladly put her up until I can return from Baroda and make my arrangements.

    I am afraid I shall never be good for much in the way of domestic virtues. I have tried, very ineffectively, to do some part of my duty as a son, a brother and a husband, but there is something too strong in me which forces me to subordinate everything else to it. Of course that is no excuse for my culpability in not writing letters,— a fault I am afraid I shall always be quicker to admit than to reform. I can easily understand that to others it may seem to spring from a lack of the most ordinary affection. It was not so in the case of my father from whom I seem to inherit the defect. In all my fourteen years in England I hardly got a dozen letters from him, and yet I cannot doubt his affection for me, since it was the false report of my death which killed him. I fear you must take me as I am with all my imperfections on my head.

    Barin* has again fallen ill, and I have asked him to go out to some healthier place for a short visit. I was thinking he might go to Waltair, but he has set his heart on going to Shillong—I don’t quite know why, unless it is to see a quite new place and at the same time make acquaintance with his sister-in-law’s family. If he goes, I am sure you will take good care of him for the short time he may be there. You will find him, I am afraid, rather wilful and erratic,— the family failing. He is especially fond of knocking about by himself in a spasmodic and irregular fashion when he ought to be sitting at home and nursing his delicate health, but I have learnt not to interfere with him in this respect; if checked, he is likely to go off at a tangent & makes things worse. He has, however, an immense amount of vitality which allows him to play these tricks with impunity in a good climate, and I think a short stay at Shillong ought to give him another lease of health.

                                                                                   Your affectionate


                                                                                   Aurobindo Ghose 



                                                                                        19 February 1919

 My dear father-in-law,

    I have not written to you with regard to this fatal event in both our lives; words are useless in face of the feelings it has caused, if even they can ever express our deepest emotions. God has seen good to lay upon me the one sorrow that could still touch me to the centre. He knows better than ourselves what is best for each of us, and now that the first sense of the irreparable has passed, I can bow with submission to His divine purpose. The physical tie between us is, as you say, severed; but the tie of affection subsists for me. Where I have once loved, I do not cease from loving. Besides she who was the cause of it, still is near though not visible to our physical vision.

    It is needless to say much about the matters of which you write in your letter. I approve of everything that you propose. Whatever Mrinalini would have desired, should be done, and I have no doubt this is what she would have approved of. I consent to the chudis [gold bangles] being kept by her mother; but I should be glad if you would send me two or three of her books, especially if there are any in which her name is written. I have only of her her letters and a photograph.




* Barindra Kumar Ghose, Sri Aurobindo’s youngest brother and a noted revolutionary.

Sri Aurobindo’s letter to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Dear Friends,

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who later became the second President of India had approached Sri Aurobindo in August 1934 through Dilip Kumar Roy asking him to contribute an article for a proposed volume on contemporary Indian philosophy. When Dilip Roy conveyed his request to Sri Aurobindo, the latter asked Dilip to excuse him. But when Dr. Radhakrishnan persisted Sri Aurobindo wrote to him directly on 2 October 1934.

Today, we take the opportunity of sharing with you Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s second letter to Dilip Kumar Roy dated 27 September 1934 and Sri Aurobindo’s reply to him.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee


Overman Foundation.


               Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s letter to Dilip Kumar Roy

 My dear Mr. Dilip Kumar Roy,

   Your letter of the 9th instant. I realise that Sri Aurobindo will be very much pre-occupied with other things. But, may I impose on you the real importance of a specific contribution from him for the purposes of this volume. You are possibly aware that for the volume on Contemporary British Philosophy, men like Bossanquet, Bertrand Russell, Haldane and McTaggart, among others, made their contributions. The volume on Contemporary Indian Philosophy will not be worth the name without a statement from Sri Aurobindo. I feel that he will realise the enormous importance of a special contribution for this volume, not for my sake or for his sake, but for the sake of our country. If you do not have a copy of the Contemporary British Philosophy there, on hearing from you, I will send you a volume from which you will get a general idea.

   Interesting as this letter to Mr. Chadwick is, I am afraid it will not do as a statement of Sri Aurobindo’s convictions on the central problems of God, Man and his Destiny. If he sets down his thoughts on these problems, we will be able to put it in. You may put a series of questions asking him to state in a summary form his views on God, the nature of the Human Soul, its Destiny, and if you get rounded answers to them, we may possibly use that as his contribution.

   I hope you at least realise my anxiety in this whole matter.

   I am returning the paper and shall be delighted to see the other thing on the Avatarhood of Rama.

                                                                                         Yours sincerely,

                                                                                          S. Radhakrishnan’


          Sri Aurobindo’s letter to Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

My dear Professor Radhakrishnan,

    I regret that you should have had to wait for the publication of your book on account of the contribution I could not write. I had intimated to Dilip that it would be practically impossible for me and I could not make a promise I would most likely be unable to fulfil. I think he hoped I would still find time somehow to write.

    I am entirely taken up by my present work which is exceedingly heavy and pressing and from which I cannot take my hands for a moment or spare the necessary energy or time for anything else. I have been obliged to put aside all mental or literary work and even to suspend sine die the revision for publication of the unpublished works in the “Arya” which I had undertaken. There is no chance of any alteration in this state of affairs in any near future. It is not a matter of choice but of necessity for me. I hope therefore you will excuse me for not being able to comply with your request. I regret very much that I have to disappoint you, but it is not possible for me to avoid it.

                                                                                                   Sri Aurobindo


Sri Aurobindo’s letter to Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Friends,

Not many people are aware of the fact Mahatma Gandhi had visited Pondicherry on 17 February 1934. Ever since his return to India from South Africa in 1915, he was desirous to meet Sri Aurobindo. For the purpose of arranging a meeting with Sri Aurobindo, the Mahatma had written to Govindbhai Patel, a follower of Sri Aurobindo who was initially associated with him. But when the permission for an interview was refused by Sri Aurobindo, the Mahatma wrote directly to Sri Aurobindo on 2 January 1934.

Today we take the opportunity of sharing with you a portion of the letter Mahatma Gandhi had written to Sri Aurobindo and Sri Aurobindo’s reply to him dated 7 January 1934.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee


Overman Foundation.


                     Mahatma Gandhi’s letter to Sri Aurobindo


…Perhaps you know that ever since my return to India I have been anxious to meet you face to face. Not being able to do that, I sent my son to you. Now that it is almost certain that I am to be in Pondicherry, will you spare me a few minutes & see me! I know how reluctant you are to see anybody. But if you are under no positive vow of abstinence, I hope you will give me a few minutes of your time…

                           Sri Aurobindo’s reply to Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Mahatmaji,

   It is true that I have made no vow, for I never make one, but my retirement is not less binding on me so long as it—and the reason for it—lasts. I think you will understand that it is not a personal or mental choice but something impersonal from a deeper source for the inner necessity of work and sadhana. It prevents me from receiving you but I cannot do otherwise than keep to the rule I have adhered to for some years past.

                                                                              Sri Aurobindo