A Rare Interview of Sri Aurobindo

Dear Friends,

Today we are publishing a rare interview of Sri Aurobindo which he gave to a correspondent of the Empire, a Calcutta-based daily journal, on 15 August 1908. The interview took place in the Alipore Magistrate’s Court on the date of Sri Aurobindo’s thirty-sixth birthday. The spellings have been kept intact. This interview has been quoted from our publication, ‘Sri Aurobindo: His Political Life and Activities’.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee

Founder,

Overman Foundation.

                                                  *

Ever since the commencement of the trial until Saturday Arabindo [Sri Aurobindo] has preserved a stolid lethargic demeanour.

From the first day’s hearing to the thirty-sixth, he has occupied one bench, his eyes immovably fixed on the floor, totally indifferent to the unfolding issues of the case.

The Arabindo of Saturday was, however, quite another being. His personality, hitherto grave and prepossessed, had been metamorphosised into one of sprightliness and sunniness. The cause of all this jollification, as Arabindo explained, was to a certain extent remarkable. “In the first place,” he explained, “today is my birthday; and we are celebrating it as best we can under the circumstances. I was born on the 15th August 1872, and on that anniversary in 1906 the National College opened its doors to teach among other things, the principles of Swadeshism. It was either the day before or the day after my birthday, 1907,” he continued waxing warm with the subject “that I was arrested in connection with the first ‘Bande Mataram’ sedition case. And more remarkable still my birthday is round again today and the Magistrate has given a definite assurance that he will commit on the evidence given in this, a case not of sedition but revolution.

“Besides all this my brother Birendro [Barindra Kumar Ghose] is threatened on my birthday to be charged with abetment of murder in the Mozufferpore affair, besides having to stand his trial for conspiracy. These are what I call a remarkable string of coincidences,” he added with a smile.

“Are we getting tired of this protracted trial you ask? Well, to be candid we are, although we don’t mind it in the least. As a matter of fact it is useless pumping witnesses about my supposed editorship of the ‘Bande Mataram.’ I certainly have edited the ‘Bande Mataram,’ but this only I did on different occasions when Bepin Babu [Bepin Chandra Pal] first edited it, and I will state now once and for all I never, never did occupy its editorial chair. I must also deny that I fathered the many brilliant leaders that have appeared in that paper. I certainly did write some of them, but I cannot claim the authorship of the best of them. I wish I could,” he added with a twinkle.

Arabindo’s facetious parting shot to the “frequenter” was: “You can add to those coincidences the fact that I shall be very probably coming back from the Andamans on my birthday next year.”

                                                        *

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11 Comments

  1. Prithwindra Mukherjee said,

    April 24, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Thanks for this precious piece of humour.
    Prithwindra Mukherjee

  2. Sandeep said,

    April 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    As a matter of fact it is useless pumping witnesses about my supposed editorship of the ‘Bande Mataram.

    It seems that there was a legal loophole which Sri Aurobindo had exploited by never naming the editor of the Bande Mataram.

    The Press and Registrations of Books Act (XXV of 1867) required that the newspaper should name the printer and publisher but not the editor. As a result, the Bande Mataram could get away with not naming the editor. This loophole was closed by the Newspapers (Incitement to Offenses) Act (VII of 1908) which enabled confiscation of the presses.

    See Sumit Sarkar’s Swadeshi Movement in Bengal page 264.

  3. Prema Nandakumar said,

    April 24, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Each new passage I read about Sri Aurobindo reveals to me the smile of Krishna in the Gita, prahasanniva (CHapter II). Thank you for publishing the interview. Prema Nandakumar

  4. Biranchi Karan said,

    April 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for publishing such a precious interview of the Master.
    Biranchi Karan

  5. April 25, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Reblogged this on Skylight.

  6. April 25, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Thanks for the publication. Each time I read these interviews the Masters reveals himself in a new light.

  7. Dr.P.R.Reddy said,

    April 25, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Dear Sri.Anurag,
    Thank you for letting us know about this special interview.For some one like Aurobindo sedition , revolution and independance have no meaning.His was a free soul that enlightened all those who believed in freedom of speech and expression.Humour is part of free expression and he enjoyed every part of the judgement, knowing fully well that one day or the other he has to go to jail for doing some thing that is close to his heart.Incidentally I am happy to learn he was born on 15th August.I was born on 15th August 1942.It is just a coincidence.
    Regards
    P.R.Reddy

  8. April 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    ” I wish I could,” says Sri Aurobindo with a twinkle.
    What humor and what simplicity ! None can in fact surpass his authorship in height, depth, precision and absolute divine excellence ! Every word dazzles with the luminosity of Truth. Thank you dear Anurag for this vivid and picturesque interview.
    Aditi Vasishtha

  9. Madhu Namdini said,

    April 26, 2012 at 4:56 am

    dear anurag, thank you for this little interview. looking forward to more such personal details.

    • Vd said,

      May 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      This and other delightful facts can be found in Peter Heeh’s Lives of Sri Aurobindo.

  10. Aleisha said,

    April 16, 2013 at 7:04 am

    It’s fantastic that you are getting thoughts from this article as well as from our argument made here.


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