A letter written by Dr. Krishnadhan Ghose (Sri Aurobindo’s father) to his brother-in-law Jogendranath Bose (Rajnarain Bose’s eldest son) has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation. In this letter written on 2 December 1890, Dr. Ghose made important predictions about the sons he had fathered, that is, Benoy Bhushan, Manmohan, Sri Aurobindo and Barindra Kumar.
The last portion of the letter is particularly important for it shows how Dr. K.D. Ghose had planned to get back the custody of his youngest son Barindra Kumar from his wife Swarnalata Devi who had lost her mental balance.
With warm regards,
Khulna, Dec. 2, 1890
My Dear Jogen,
I got two letters from you last month and one from father[i] enclosing three scraps from Swarna[ii]. But did not reply to any of them for reasons which require a long explanation. I didn’t write in reply to father as I could not forgive myself if anything that slipped from my pen or tongue offended him. I lost my father when I was first 12 years old and I went to the length of offending a dear mother by marrying, as I did, to get such a father as Rajnarain Bose. It is true, circumstances, over which neither he nor I had a control, made me lose even him. But I would sooner cut my tongue off than offend him by any word. Yet you know I am not a child. I understand the responsibility of my own actions. If I ever knew what it is to procreate children, I am sure, I could not have mustered courage enough to marry. You are no doubt aware that it is said in the old Testament that God said: “Go and Multiply.” Of course, those words are put into the mouth of God by Moses. But that ‘great mind’ intended simply to explain a Natural Law in that manner. As far as my reading goes, I think that Darwin was an addendum to Moses. Moses said that: Go and multiply. Darwin said: “Mind, only the fittest of those you multiply will survive.” Now turn and twist the principles of ethics as you like. Even your devotion to an Almighty God will not justify your procreating beasts or idiots. Look how far-reaching the consequences will be. You will not only be the progenitor of one beast as one idiot, but, by their natural passions, you will multiply their kind to infinity. If brutes by ‘instinctive’ selection improve the breed, should man, who has reached the age of reason so far, forget himself as to procreate a species behind his own? The two maxims I have followed in my life, and they have been my ethics and religions, are: to improve my species by giving to the world children of a better breed of my own, and to improve the children of those who have not the power of doing it themselves. That is what I call devotion, not attained by empty prayers which means inaction and worship of a god of your own creation. A real god is God’s creation, and when I worship that by action I worship Him. It is easy to propound a plausible theory, but it is difficult to act in a world where you are hampered by a stupid public opinion and stereotyped notions of religion and mortality. My life’s mission has been to fight against all these stereotyped notions. God Almighty has strewn thorns in my way, and I am ready to fight against His will. The three sons I have produced I have made giants of them. I may not, but you will, live to be proud of three nephews who will adorn your country and shed lustre to your name. Who knows what the next generation will achieve, and if I can make three products of mine to take the lead in that achievement, what more can I expect in the action of a lifetime. Beno[iii] will be his ‘father’ in every line of action—self-sacrificing but limited in his sphere of action. Mano[iv] will combine the feelings of his father, the grand ambitions of a cosmopolitan spirit that hate and abhor angle and corner feelings with the poetry of his (great) grandfather Rajnarain Bose. Ara[v], I hope, will yet glorify his country by a brilliant administration. I shall not live to see it, but remember this letter, if you do. I tell you what Oscar Browning, the great son of the father, said to him when he was at tea with one of the dons of his college (he is at King’s College, Cambridge now, borne there by his own ability): “I have been examiner for scholarships for 13 years and during that time there was not presented papers like yours, and your essay was excellent.”
This essay was a reckless product—a comparison of Shakespeare and Milton. Here I will give you Arabindo’s own words; it may be tiresome to you, but it may break the monotony of your rural life there:
“Last night I was invited to coffee with one of the dons and in his rooms I met the great O.B. otherwise Oscar Browning who is the feature par excellence of King’s. He was extremely flattering (and) passing from the subject of cotillions to that of scholarship; he said to me, “I suppose you know you passed an extraordinarily high examination. I have examined papers at thirteen examinations and I have never during that time examined such excellent papers as yours (meaning my classical papers at that examination). As for your essay, it was wonderful! (In this essay, a comparison between Shakespeare and Milton) I indulged in my Oriental tastes to the top of their bent; it overflowed with rich and tropical imagery; it abounded in antithesis and epigrams and it expressed my real feelings without restraint or reservation. I thought myself that it was the best thing I had ever done, but at school it would have been condemned as extraordinarily Asiatic and bombastic. The great O.B. afterwards asked me where my rooms were and when I had answered he said, ‘That wretched hole’; (and) then turning to Mahaffy, ‘How rude we are to our scholars! We get great minds to come down here and then shut them up in that box. I suppose it is to keep their pride down.’”
My dear brother, do tell me, shall you not be proud of such a nephew? I have sacrificed my all to produce him and no less ones, and do you not think that you should feel it your duty to produce another ornament to your country? If the future is to be judged by the past, you can depend upon it that you shall have no reason to rue the day that you separated a product of my brain from your sister for your country’s sake. Poor Swarna, decrepit in health as she is, I have recovered from at least an untimely grave. Do, do, do if you can save a boy (Barin[vi]—the youngest) who may yet be the greatest nephew that you could boast of. Why sacrifice the living for the dead? Your sister is dead to the world, to all who have sacrificed anything for her sake. Now shall you sacrifice a boy, who, in your opinion, is brilliant and may be the means of doing good to the world, for the sake of a brother’s feeling towards a sister? I have sisters, and can sympathise with you; but your sister’s son is your own flesh and blood, and what feeling it is that will enable you to sacrifice one whose claim to posterity is greater than that of those who have lost their usefulness?
Since writing… I got a severe attack of fever. I also got your letter. I have sent my friend Baboo Chintamoney Bhanja. He will hand over a C. note of Rs. 500/- to you to quiet down urgent creditors. This will be my last remittance if Barin is not sent, and I will wash my hands of the matter for you after this. You know very well that I cannot bring Swarna to me, having to work for the livelihood of a horde of people and the education of my sons and daughter. Those whims and mad fits I have satisfied for years and spent no less than Rs. 2600/-, quite a fortune in doing so. I am no longer young and able to undergo all trouble and privations for anything in this world.
Do all you can. I have sent my friend depending on your promise of serving me. He will go well-armed to steal the boy away if that were possible, and in that you must not resist. The father has absolute right over his children, so the police cannot interfere when they are commissioned by me.
(Sd/-) K.D. Ghose
[i] Rajnarain Bose, Krishnadhan Ghose’s father-in-law.
[ii] Swarnalata Devi, Sri Aurobindo’s mother.
[iii] Benoy Bhushan Ghose (1867-1947), Krishnadhan’s eldest son.
[iv] Manmohan Ghose (1869-1924), Krishnadhan’s second son.
[v] Sri Aurobindo.
[vi] Barindra Kumar Ghose, Krishnadhan’s youngest son.