Sri Aurobindo on Ethics, The Alipore Bomb Trial Judgment and Sri Aurobindo: His Political Life and Activities: A Review by Surendra Singh Chouhan

Sri Aurobindo on Ethics: Compiled and edited by Anurag Banerjee. Published by Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Price— E-copy: Rs. 20. (Hard-copy: Rs. 60).

The Alipore Bomb Trial Judgment: Compiled and edited by Anurag Banerjee. Published by Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Price—E-copy: Rs. 50. (Hard-copy: Rs. 150).

Sri Aurobindo: His Political Life and Activities: Compiled and edited by Anurag Banerjee with a preface by Prof. Kittu Reddy. Published by Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Price—E-copy: Rs. 200. (Hard-copy: Rs. 450).

                                           (I)

                   An unexamined life is not worth living—Socrates.

 When   first  man’s  heart  dared death and suffered life, the seed of   luminous conscience—the savior Grace—was sown  for  ever in heart of the struggling  humanity at this defining moment.  It   was  rightly so—as it was—primarily instrumental in pushing  up the humanity from  the primordial  struggle of  barbarism  to  the present  refining  poise  of   decent instincts.  Our unstinted  bouquet of  appreciation are due to  the compiler  and editor Anurag  Banerjee for offering  us  the rare treasure  about Sri Aurobindo’s  views on  Ethics. Unearthing the vast  trove from  the  works  of Sri  Aurobindo’s  writings  on Ethics was no easy  task. But, a judicious  and thoughtful   selection  by the  compiler  has made this work  under review an  eminently readable  one.

Ethics is the mother of all holistic sciences as it lays the foundation of the culture and character. Only we, the homo sapiens, are given the privilege to be able to distinguish between Right and Wrong. Western views on Ethics are undoubtedly an admirable mix of moral rectitude fortified by rational cover but not adequate and strong enough  to bring about  much needed qualitative  transformation of human Nature. The spiritual ambience is still missing there in the ethical thoughts and mooring of the western thinkers. It needed the Seer Vision of Sri Aurobindo to express and resolve the complex issues of Ethics in the proper perspectives. We see in this wonderful series of compilation the sublime touch and  the power  of the Master which  place  Ethics on a deserving high pedestal.  Innumerable  episodes in the Mahabharata, the Ramayan  and the  teachings of the Gita along with  the Upanishads  bear testimony  to  the  inestimable  value of  the ethical  principles—the art and craft of shaping  human Nature  to become the fit vehicle for  spiritual change. 

The dimensions of aphoristic ethical thoughts of Sri Aurobindo are path breaking and alters radically our narrow vision/views and understanding of the ethical principles as we have known and read so far.

Words are inadequate to compliment the compiler and the astute editor Anurag Banerjee for  stringing  together with meticulous precision  the invaluable  perceptions of Sri Aurobindo  in  a  format  and with judicious  division of the contents  which  make for the readers  an easy access.

Our editor—so it seems—is gifted with Seeing Intelligence—which reaches with felicity  to the core of  wisdom and offers us the privilege to  savor the rich treasure.

This admirable and  significant effort has  fulfilled  a long  felt  lacunae.  Thankfully, now , we may not   have to   cry and aspire  at the same time  like St. Augustine  “ O Lord  make me pure, but not yet , not yet…”  the acme of  the  ethical dilemma.    

                                                   (II)

              The Alipore Bomb Case—A symbol  for the struggle for Freedom

The trial of the Century has at last seen the light of the day. What an achievement on the part of its  editor Anurag Banerjee as it  required a very  high  sense of  critical  perceptive  editorial skills  invested with  an ability to present endless web of historical investigations and  conclusions in acceptable format. It is a unique compilation as it unfolds step by step the secret mystique and the mystery of the day to day activities  of  the freedom fighters and the firebrand revolutionaries.

Anurag Banerjee  blessed with  incredible patience and  research  skills/strategies has come up  successfully with  another  gem  of work which would  prove an invaluable source of  research for the posterity.  The entire drama and the trial of the case presided over by the Judge is a  glowing page  of the Indian struggle for Freedom revolving and evolving around the fiery Sun /son  of Mother  India, Sri Aurobindo. The rays emanating from Him echoed and reechoed from the white radiance of the Himvant to all the corners of Mother India the chant ‘Bande  Mataram,   Bande Mataram’. The Alipore Bomb Case is a saga of the heroic struggle of the children of Mother India who were prepared to lay their lives at the altar of Freedom cheerfully. The trial was a symbol and it awakened the sleeping masses to a new vision  and a call  and an invitation   to join the freedom  struggle .

The editor has accomplished  an astonishing  task by unraveling the  plethora  of  historical  documents and arranging/ordering  them  in  proper  structure. The  final result  is an excellently  well structured record of  the  memorable  Trial  where  the Sage—so to speak—was  born and baptized with fire and  the Zeal for GOD where inside the jail Sri Aurobindo was granted  the universal  vision  of the  all -pervading Divinity.

The Alipore Bomb case  is  not  a story  of the  trials  of  a few  freedom fighters but stories with in  story like a galaxy where  million stars twinkle as the reverberations of the trial crossed beyond the  boundaries of Bengal and impacted  million lives by its Message—Arise, Awake and stop not till the Goal is achieved.

Each page of the book—so painstakingly  produced and collated—shines  by its authenticity  and  immense  historical significance and relevance. The characters become vibrantly alive by the gripping narrative and the responses of the involved personages keep the readers attention completely focused.

Sri Aurobindo  like  a luminous star  remains aloof  and  watches  the entire drama unfolding. He is a guide, friend and philosopher to all the imprisoned hero-warriors. He is also an advocate fighting for the Divine cause where none other than the great C. R. Das   does  not hesitate to take His  counsel  at the critical moments of the Trial.

The  Alipore Bomb  Case  is  at once  a  glowing chronicle and a faithful  record  just  not  of a legal wrangling  but of the  of tale of the supreme sacrifice of the countless martyrs. This work should be read in the light of the earliest dawn of freedom struggle  and its crucial historicity in inspiring the ongoing freedom struggle in the first decade of the  last century.

The editor Anurag  Banerjee  deserves our   generous  appreciations  for  producing this  work of  sublime  excellence  infused with  the touch   of immaculate research and eye  for  perfection in all the minutest  details.

                                                 (III)

                Sri Aurobindo—His Political Life and Activities

               ‘He drew energies which transmute an Age’—Savitri

 This work of pristine beauty and perfection describing Sri Aurobindo’s  political life and activities  is filled with  incomparable  series  of  hitherto unknown  facts  and  figures  which  are wondrous  by the range  of   vast sweep and grandeur. The  editor has not left anything to chance and  by the  dint  of  unsparing efforts  has been able  to choreograph  the astonishing story  of  Sri  Aurobindo’s life and activities in a masterly fashion.  Life  of  a  Grand  figure is not to be measured by the  number of breaths that he takes but by the  intensity of breath which takes  our  breath  away. This is precisely what happened  in the crucial years , however  small span of time , during the period of  Sri Aurobindo’s  political life during those fateful years.  It was breathtaking in its sweep and the revolutionary changes it wrought in the national psyche. Like a mighty passive Brahman, Sri Aurobindo  guided  the destiny of the  Nation  and moulded the sleeping multitude into an inspirational and aspirational entity. But He was a Leader with a difference. He did not believe in short measures but kept the Vision of the Vast behind and every stroke coming from Him was a stroke of a Divine Genius and  had the maximum impact  on the masses  in galvanizing them into a new Force.

Prof. Kittu Reddy, in his brilliantly carved preface, has neatly summed up the many splendoured political activities of Sri Aurobindo which were in every sense—so to speak—apolitical. For Him the art of politics was a means to an end which would usher in the spirit of true  Nationalism and free Mother India from an alien rule. There are interesting similarities between the efforts of Lord Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo when we draw parallel between their political activities.  Both engaged themselves in bringing the rule of justice among the national groups based on the principles of Dharma and discharging Kartavya Karma in the highest sense without attachment and personal motives. Sri Aurobindo’s political life and activities were entirely in consonance with   the highest ideals as enshrined in the highest gospel of Dharma – the Gita.

The sense and essence of this marvellous compilation is bound to touch the hearts and minds of the countless fortunate readers in a luminous manner and we are sure it will work as a transforming force in their lives.

Anurag  Banerjee  has once again proved  that  what  a wonderful  editor he is  and does full justice  to the greatness of the theme—for  he himself—is  for ever in search  of Greatness  and  ready always to share its fragrance  with us all. It has whetted our appetite million fold, indeed.  

                                                                         Surendra Singh Chouhan

About the author: Shri Surendra Singh Chouhan is an ex-student of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE); after finishing his Higher Course he taught for a year in SAICE. He is an international educator and presently teaching Philosophy to the Chinese students in Shanghai under the auspices of Shanghai Normal University. This review was originally published in the August 2011 issue of the well-known magazine ‘Srinvantu’ (English).

 

 

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