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

Chairman,

Overman Foundation.

                                                    [1]

                                                                                             Calcutta

                                                                                             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

                                                                                              son-in-law

                                                                                   Aurobindo Ghose 

                                                    [2]  

                                                                                       Pondicherry

                                                                                        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.

                                                                                          Aurobindo  

 

 


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

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12 Comments

  1. RY Deshpande said,

    March 20, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Did he receive any of the books in which her name was written?

  2. Anurag Banerjee said,

    March 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Revered Deshpande-ji,
    We have no idea about it. May be the Archives of the Ashram would be able to give this information.

    With warm regards,
    Anurag

    • RY Deshpande said,

      March 24, 2011 at 5:22 am

      It will be more appropriate if you can check with them. Thanks.

  3. Anie Nunnally said,

    March 21, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Dear Anurag,

    These letters are so extremely touching and show the depth and capacity of his heart’s feelings.
    Bless you for making them available to us and putting us closer to Him.
    In Their Light,
    Anie Nunnally

  4. T.ch.Venkateswara Rao said,

    March 21, 2011 at 10:06 am

    These letters are symbolic of his value of his values.

  5. nirmalya said,

    March 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Dear Mr Banerjee,

    Like thousands, I am already aware of these two letters.

    As far as I know Mr.Bhupal Bose visited the Ashram with his wife in the early 30s and left his pranam for his son in law, who was already in recluse by then for a bigger cause towards humanity.

    He must have also given the books, if there were any as Mrinalini’s last wish was to destroy all documents and letters that she received from her ‘god like husband’. Mrinalini had 4 pictures in her small and domestic temple for regular worship. A.G. was one of them the other 3 being Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Sarada.

    Records say, Mr. Bose put all documents inside a trunk and threw it into the ganges.

    To me the second letter is an epic in the genre of English literature. It couldn’t have been better. Only A.G. could have written this, given his emotions as a greater human than us.

    I have one small request. When we write about A.G.it is better not to say, even in general terms, that , ‘ it reveals the unknown aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s personality’. This is something really impossible now and even as he is within us in a different way and not materially. There is no scope for a psycho analysis and in his case that would also have failed, given his understanding and viewing of the material as a corollary to the refusal of an ascetic. Moreover, there is no need also. He is above all – a superman with a super vision and a super mind. He is beyond known human specie and upturns all conventional modes of thought that ‘man is not the controller of his mind’ as he has his childhood behind him. A.G.’s childhood is not like yours or mine being mainly instinctual. Right from the beginning it was rational and sure balancing of the ego and the super ego in material terms over the id phenomenon. I also found there was no defense mechanism.

    If his life was not on the surface for men to see, he should obviously be given the liberty to have his way within us in a different form…as he might have chosen euthanasia for a different cause and refused modern medicine and operation and treatment of prostrate and kidney in his last times between Dec.3 and Dec.5 1950 till 11p.m.

    Without him I have no meaning and without me his not manifest in me….

    In him..,

    Best Regards
    Nirmalya Mukherjee

  6. Ajay kumar Barik said,

    March 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    What happen to Aurobindo’s wife.when she died and also about her last time…please reply i want to know….thanks

    • Anurag Banerjee said,

      March 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Dear Sir,

      The following translated excerpts from the reminiscences of Shaibalini Mitra, Mrinalini Devi’s younger sister, would answer your query:

      “At last arrived the year 1918, December. She [Mrinalini Devi] received the call from Sri Aurobindo, saying, ‘My sadhana is over. I have achieved my object, siddhi. I have a lot of work to do for the world. You can come now and be my companion in this work.’ This naturally made Mrinalini and all others extremely happy.

      “Now our father thought of taking my sister to Pondicherry. The Government gave permission. So they arrived in Calcutta via Ranchi. But Mrinalini fell a victim to the scourge of influenza which was raging everywhere. After a week’s illness she passed away on 17 December at the age of 32. The mental agony that she had kept suppressed for years exploded during the illness in her delirium, particularly the frightful nightmarish scene of Sri Aurobindo’s arrest.

      “There was a mention in her horoscope that her 32nd year would be critical. Sri Aurobindo knew it and wanted us to remind him about it when she would be 32. But all of us forgot except my mother. She was at that time in Ranchi. Hearing about the illness she hastened to Calcutta but Mrinalini Devi passed away within half an hour of her arrival. When she learnt that we had not informed Sri Aurobindo, a telegram was sent to him. On reading it, Sri Aurobindo said, ‘Too late!’ My cousin who was there at the time wrote to my mother: ‘Today I saw tears in the eyes of your stone-hearted son-in-law. With the telegram in one hand, he sat still and tears were in his eyes.’ Sri Aurobindo told him too that Mrinalini’s soul had come to him soon after her death. Also a photo of Mrinalini Devi that was on the mantel-piece is said to have fallen.

      “In the evening after Mrinalini’s expiry Sudhira took my mother to Sri Sarada Devi. She was at that time in deep meditation. When she opened her eyes and saw them, she said, ‘You have come? I was seeing in my vision my daughter-in-law, Mrinalini. She was a goddess born as your daughter in consequence of a curse. Now that her karma is exhausted her soul has departed.’”

      With warm regards,

      Anurag Banerjee

      • Ajay kumar Barik said,

        March 4, 2012 at 9:59 am

        Dear sir,
        thank you for your reply.I want to know more about Sri Aurobindo,i will be grateful to you if u can suggest me any Biography book on him..
        Thanks & regards
        Ajay Kumar Barik

  7. Anurag Banerjee said,

    March 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Dear Ajay-ji,

    Please visit the website: http://www.sriaurobindoashram.info. Here you will find the online biographies of Sri Aurobindo written by A.B. Purani, Rishabhchand, K.R. Srinivasa Iyenger and others.

    With warm regards,
    Anurag Banerjee

    • Ajay kumar Barik said,

      March 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      Revered Anurag-ji,

      Thank you for your guidance.Right now i am going through the web site you have suggested.
      A lot more to read ,a lot more to know , to comeback to you with a lot more questions.

      Let the Divine spirit guide all of us for the unity and integrity of all mankind.

      Thanks and Regards,
      Ajay Kumar Barik

  8. July 30, 2014 at 4:56 am

    Please, see eBook Sri Aurobindo’s letters to his wife Mrinalini Devi with letters to his father-in-law published on Auro e-Books. Ebook download: pdf, epub, Kindle.Web linlk: http://www.auro-ebooks.com/sri-aurobindos-letters-to-his-wife/


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