Amrita-da by Krishna Chakravarti

Amrita

Dear Friends,

Amrita was the name given by Sri Aurobindo to Karlapakam Aravamudachari Iyengar (19 September 1895—31 January 1969), a Tamil Brahmin who became a close disciple of Sri Aurobindo whom he met in 1912. He was the Manager of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and later became one of the first Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. He is remembered for his delightful sense of humour.

19 September 2015 marks Amrita’s 120th Birth Anniversary. As our humble homage to him, an article on him authored by Krishna Chakravarti has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation along with some of his photographs.

Born in December 1943 to Justice Santosh Kumar Chakravarti and Bokul Rani, Krishna Chakravarti joined the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education as a student in 1956. After completing her education in 1966, she joined the Central Office of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. A dedicated worker and prolific writer, her published works include Sri Aurobindo Laho Pronam (2006), A Garland of Adoration (2007) and Judge Saheb O Maharanir One-Third Dozen er Kahini (2009).

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

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Amrita-da

Krishna Chakravarti

Charana dhorita deo go amare neo na neona saraye

‘All on a sudden the door opened and was left ajar. Sri Aurobindo had come quietly and turned back immediately as the door opened—it looked as if he did not want us to let us have a glimpse of his face. In that fading twilight only his long hair hanging gracefully upon his back and his indescribably beautiful small feet caught my eye sight.’

That was the first glimpse of Sri Aurobindo that Amrita-da had—those feet, like two red lotuses captured his heart strings as if in a net and never could he shatter that tie. He was barely in his teens then, later in1919 he joined Sri Aurobindo’s house hold and served at those feet for fifty years before leaving his body.

Amrita was born on 19th September 1895 at Kazhipervembakkam, a village near Pondicherry and was named Aravumuda Iyenger. Amrita was the name given by Sri Aurobindo. Born in an orthodox Brahmin family, performing all the rituals, keeping a shikha covering nearly three fourths of his head, he was a village boy pampered by his mother. In that village the cry of independence had also reached and Lal-Bal-Pal and Arabindo were familiar names and respected. Of the four names the name Sri Aurobindo caught his heart and soul. In 1905 he came to Pondicherry to study. Sri Aurobindo landed in Pondicherry on 4th April 1910. Very few were aware of his arrival, among them was Amrita-da’s uncle who was in politics. Within three days Amrita-da knew about the arrival and his joy had no bound and a desire to see Sri Aurobindo grew in him. He became friendly with those who frequented Sri Aurobindo’s house and would take long walk after school, on beach with them and would learn from them what they discussed. Thus two years passed and there was no glimpse of Sri Aurobindo. One day in 1912 while proceeding towards beach with Krishnaswami Chettiar, who wanted to keep his cycle in Sri Aurobindo’s house which was on Mission street, that he had the glimpse of those two delicate soft red lotus like feet and was caught.

By his association with Bharathi, Srinivaschari, Krishnaswami Chettiar and others who frequented Sri Aurobindo’s house and had discussions, his mind too was shaping in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s view. ‘There was hardly any subject which they did not talk about in their meetings at night. They discussed literature, society, politics, the various arts; they exchanged stories,even cracked jokes, and had a lot of fun.’ Amrita-da’s teenage mind tried to grasp everything, the narrowness of orthodox mind started widening. Though he performed all the rituals and rites at home, but slowly the realization dawned that a pariah or a shudra was as much of a man as his neighbours, and started treating them as such, which in that era was blasphemous. The untouchability has almost disappeared at present, but in that era what havoc it created can make one shiver. He ‘realised that the disappearance of the sense of division from within me had been the effect of a continuous shedding of light upon my heart imperceptibly by Sri Aurobindo.’

Though he became familiar with other inmates of Sri Aurobindo’s household, he still had no darshan of him face to face. Three years have passed and his eagerness to get introduced to Sri Aurobindo fell as if in deaf ears. Sri Aurobindo’s Birthday was approaching, his appeal to Iyenger for the Darshan was granted. He felt an immense joy.

On 15th August some twenty people gathered in Sri Aurobindo’s house in the evening. Sri Aurobindo came someone garlanded him with a rose garland, then he spoke something in English. Thereafter they sat down in front of banana leaves. Sri Aurobindo stood in front of each banana leaf and looked at the person and one person then served the sweets. Later at night, he approached Sri Aurobindo’s table with folded hands and did pradikshina. ‘Sri Aurobindo’s eyes, it seemed, burnt brighter than the lamp light for me, as he looked at me, in a trice all gloom vanished from within me, and his image was as it were installed in the sanctum sanctorum of my being… I felt within that he had accepted me though I did not quite know it.’

At the first sight of Sri Aurobindo, his beautiful feet ensnared him, then the face to face meeting, his eyes brighter than light captured him. After this meeting he became a familiar face in Sri Aurobindo’s house hold, and became friendly with the other members of the house. Thus Bejoy Kumar gave him the work of posting letters. That was his first work and in 1969 when he left his body, he was the Trustee and Manager of the Ashram.

In December 1913 Sri Aurobindo shifted to another two storied house situate on François Martin Street, with a spacious courtyard in front. Here too Amrita-da paid a daily visit but as Sri Aurobindo lived on the first floor and no one was allowed to go up without permission, he had the misfortune of not seeing Sri Aurobindo at all. In the previous house though not meeting him, he at least could get a glimpse of Sri Aurobindo whenever he took a walk around.His heart thirst for a meeting with him. It was through Bijoy Kanto that he had the darshan of Sri Aurobindo on the corridor of the first floor.

‘Bejoykanto got up first, I followed him, reached the head of the long corridor and, as I stood there, Sri Aurobindo who was about twenty feet away, turned his eyes upon me… What I remember is that a lamp was lit every where in me and I saw in a spontaneous and automatic movement in front of me an intense celestial beauty. My being unknowingly swam as it were in a sea of silence, it fell prostrate at the lotus feet of the master…body life and mind all together in a single block. Sri Aurobindo touched me with his flower like-like hands and made me stand up. I drank the drink he gave me.’ The unquenchable thirst to see Sri Aurobindo again made him to request Bijoykanto and after fifteen days or so he saw Sri Aurobindo alone, Amrita-da did not quite know English, but somehow managed to utter “I want come daily see you”. Sri Aurobindo granted his request .Everyday he would stand in front of Sri Aurobindo who would be sitting on a chair on the terrace, and talk in English, from five thirty to six thirty in the evenings He would pour out to him everything without exception. Sri Aurobindo wanted him to pass the matriculation and in 1915 he went to Madras and as he was short of Rs.9, Sri Aurobindo gave the money. After he cleared the exam Sri Aurobindo wanted him to study further. With a heavy heart he went to Madras for a long stay but his heart was at the feet of Sri Aurobindo. He would visit Pondicherry from time to time and renew his intimacy with Sri Aurobindo’s house hold. Thus years passed and one day in 1917 when he was staying in Sri Aurobindo’s house for a few days that he lost the last sign of orthodoxy at his feet. Nolini-da as per Sri Aurobindo’s instruction cut off his already shrinking shikha at night when he was fast asleep. Amrita-da shivered at the consequence and went back to Madras found a new place to stay, so that he would not meet any familiar person. But his father soon came looking for him found out the new residence and was shocked at his shikhaless head. He had brought the news of his marriage to a rich girl, and went back disappointed. Did the lord play this trick to save his disciple from alienating him! The Guru asked for Guru Dakshina which was given unknowingly by Amrita-da and the Guru saved him from a mundane life. The shishya whom the Guru was shaping from behind veil when he was a mere teenager, settled at the feet of the guru from1919 never to leave the Master and The Mother, where as other disciple went to their native place from time to time. And how did he spend all these years up to 1969, that is another story.

Sri Aurobindo shifted from the house on Mission St. to the house on François Martin St. called Les Hotes end of 1913. Though the rent was high but rumours spread that because he wanted to pay due respect to the guests from foreign. Amrita-da used to visit daily there too. It so happened that one day when he went there he found the courtyard very clean and not a single person was visible, then someone came out of the room told him to go away as Sri Aurobindo was expecting the two foreign dignitaries and only the inmates were allowed to stay inside. With a heavy heart Amrita-da returned, he was not an inmate! He considered himself to be one of them. But one incident made him very happy. The foreigners came to pay their respect to Sri Aurobindo, in those days to pay any homage to an Indian by any foreigner was unthinkable. India was under foreigner rule England France etc. to pay respect to an Indian!

He saw the Mother in Dupleix house, diagonally opposite to Sri Aurobindo’s house, and was introduced as a student of Calve College, poor Amrita-da not an inmate! His first impression of the Mother was that she was one of the others, but his heart felt the magic power of the Mother. He approached the Mother in the spirit of a seeker of knowledge. She was an image of immeasurable power. “She however, held that power in herself without allowing the least display of it. On some occasions the great power would shine forth irresistibly. Our inner sense would perceive this radiation if it was awake.”

Amrita-da was a witness to the launching of Arya, a monthly review both in English and French, by Sri Aurobindo, Paul Richard and the Mother on 15th August 1914. One day Amrita-da started reading the first issue of Arya sitting in the verandah upstairs of Sri Aurobindo’s house, loud enough for himself to hear. He did not understand anything but found it sweet to read and re-read. Unknown to him, Sri Aurobindo stood in front of his table listening. When Amrita-da looked up and saw him, he told that he did not grasp anything but the reading was delightful. Sri Aurobindo replied, “It is not necessary to understand it all at once. Go on reading. If you find joy in reading you need not stop it.” When Amrita-da saw Sri Aurobindo every day in the afternoons, he wanted to know about Yoga. Sri Aurobindo would explain and he would write them down later. Much later Sri Aurobindo asked for that notebook, and it was never returned. Perhaps that was his wish. He studied the book Yogic Sadhan with the Mother, sitting on chairs facing each other, almost as equals. That’s how the Mother was looked upon as one of them.

Soon the World War started, the Mother left for France with Paul Richard. Amrita-da too left for Madras for further studies and Sri Aurobindo wrote the monthly review all by himself. In Madras Amrita-da visited the theosophical society, met Gandhiji and other prominent leaders of the time but none could capture his heart. Solely the Mother enveloped it with her captivating looks. On and off he visited Pondicherry, when with family members, he performed all the rituals but in Sri Aurobindo’s house all was forgotten—no taboos, no cast barriers, no untouchability. Finally in 1919 he settled permanently at Sri Aurobindo’s feet not only saw the formation of Ashram and its growth but was a whole hearted participant in its formation and growth. In 1920 on 24th April the Mother came to Pondicherry and settled permanently and Amrita-da was fortunate to be with her all along—a submissive energetic helper in her work.

The household shifted in 1922 to a new premises on Marine St. a rented house, though the previous one was also kept on rent as Sri Aurobindo’s house hold was growing bigger. Here he acted as the Mother’s messenger, carrying letters attending to visitors etc. On the afternoon of 24th November 1926 he was sent by the Mother to fetch all the inmates of the house and all witnessed the glorious scene of Sri Aurobindo keeping his left hand over the Mother’s head and with the right blessed the inmates. It was the descent of Krishna consciousness. Sri Aurobindo completely withdrew from all outward activities on 26th November leaving the responsibility of the Ashramites in the Mother’s hands and instructed all to address her as the Mother. Amrita-da was one of the first ones to address her thus. The evening meditations with the inmates continued only with the Mother. She rearranged their sitting arrangements, some sat left of her represented her Shakti and those on right hand side represented her Jyoti. Amrita-da sat on left of the Mother and Nolini-da on right.

Early next year the Mother with some inmates shifted to their newly purchased house named Meditation. Amrita-da room cum office was just below the room of Sri Aurobindo. Here from early morning to late night one would see a frail figure, little bent signing the money orders replying to letters, writing a chit for somebody who needed two pillows, though she had grown up sons who should have written that chit, looking after the houses, the inmates, the servants, the quarrels to settle, go to the bank to open an account for Huta-ben as Mother so desired always relaxed, his soft voice never betraying any anxiety, disturbance. He would take the work up to the Mother and to Sri Aurobindo too occasionally, when some important document required his signature, Amrita-da would ask for permission to enter, Sri Aurobindo would sit up on his bed Amrita-da squatted on the floor and then the role reversed, the Guru obeying the shisya in all submission. Amrita-da pointed his finger on the spot where His signature had to be put, full signature or initials, the Guru obeyed without hesitation and then would ask “Is there anything else”, the shisya would reply in negative and leave. The lad who was a mere teenager in 1913, had now grown to be a responsible, relentless instrument of the Mother. He would come down and give the Mother’s reply, and if the reply was not according to the wish of the inmates then gulp down their bitterness with a sad smile. He was Amrita but could have been Neelakantha too. Yes sometimes he was hurt and sad too. Some took advantage of his soft nature but his noble nature would not allow him to be strict or use any harsh words. Only once did I see him annoyed when an ex-student who settled outside came and talked to him about his work outside. Amrita would look up to him with a sad smile, put his head down to look at his papers. When after half an hour the ex-student left he mumbled, “These people think we have no work to do.” It was the delay in the Mother’s work which he could not tolerate. He joined the Physical Education group, was clumsy and trailed behind during marching. He would accompany Nolini-da for film shows but come back with him in the middle of the show because Nolini-da left, though he liked the film.

His relationship with the Mother was very close, affectionate and dependent as a child. His humorous nature would not spare the Mother also from fun. Once she chided him and gave a slap his immediate reply was ‘Good that I had a shave today otherwise my stub would have hurt you”. He started a magazine in Tamil, Vaikarai, and laboured for its circulation, he wanted the Tamilians to grow in the light of Sri Aurobindo. But alas the response was poor. Now that magazine has the highest circulation among all the magazines published by Ashram. He knew Tamil, English, French, Sanskrit and Bengali too, even wrote a poem in Bengali. His love for his mother tongue was so deep that once when somebody asked why is the Sanskrit called Devnagari, his reply was that Sanskrit was not invented by men but by gods. It was They who worked out the letters which are supposed to be among the most perfect in the world. When asked what about Tamil? He replied with a twinkle in his eyes, “Oh, the gods invented Sanskrit for the world to use but amongst Themselves They spoke in Tamil.” That is Amrita-da—short fair with Grecian features refined with soft voice pouring out love and affection for one and all. He was a bridge between us and the Mother, a child to her but elder brother to us looking after our needs, settling our quarrels working from early morning till late at night, the door always open for one and all and his soft voice calling, “Come”. He often used to go for hair cut. With hardly any hair on his head what was the need? When asked his reply was I go for after hair cut. That was the massage given by Manodhar-da to his neck and back-his only recreation. How much he worked hard after Sri Aurobindo’s passing for the formation of the trust can slightly be guessed by the volume of correspondence and legalities. The Mother formed Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust on 1st May 1955 and made Amrita-da one of the Trustees and Manager. Once when a visitor asked him what was his work his reply was, “I look after the needs of the people.” Much later the gentleman came to know that he was the Trustee and Manager of the Ashram. And this is where many were deceived by his unassuming friendly humorous nature.

With heavy load of work he still found the time to write his thoughts “visions and voices”. But he could not devote any more of his precious time to literary vagaries. He too heard voices music when sitting all alone on the sea shore. Like Dwijendra Lal Roy who heard Maha sindhur opar theke, ki sangeet bhese ashe, “Besides hearing voices, he got the eyes to see visions of things and happenings as if on a celluloid screen”. Thus he wrote on Beauty:
“Beauty standing motionless in meditation is beauty of forms,
Beauty moving and shining in meditation is beauty of life,
Beauty thinking in meditation is beauty of thought—
The spirit of beauty is thus standing, moving and thinking from the far off beyonds.”

That he had such deep realizations early in his years make one bend ones head in reverence and also remorse for thinking of him as one of us.

One of the experiences he had when still a teenager, “One day it was noon. I proceeded as usual to Sri Aurobindo’s house. No human voice was heard as I walked down the street. The sun was at meridian; it was all luster So extraordinary was its light that nothing could keep hiding in the places lit up wide by it; all must come to light. Not a speck of dust in that broad day light; it was as though the presence of Lord Krishna behind the sun, pervading the whole sky was there to enhance a hundred fold with its dark blue the light of the sun shining therein.”

Another of his vision was futuristic when he was about nine year old. Along with some Brahmins he was doing night rituals near a pond. “In that dim darkness of the evening, just two or three stars twinkled in the western sky. And then in front of me at a short distance and gradually drawing nearer and rising above as it came close to my head, there appeared a shining ball, a big ball of the size of a palm fruit. Its luster was dark blue. My eyes fixed on it, I kept looking at it. That ball soothing my eyes, comforting my body, seizing my heart and, as it slowly swam up, proceeded far to the south; my sight followed its course till it disappeared.”

Ten miles away from this village was Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo had not yet arrived. When in the house at François Martin St. Amrita-da had the first Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and lay prostate at His feet that he saw that glowing ball, seen years back, appearing in the dark blue sky within him which slowly brought him to his destination at Sri Aurobindo’s feet. Thus the visionary accomplished his life’s mission on earth, the life prolonged by the Mother’s grace to achieve his destined goal, as the Mother wrote on his birth anniversary:

“After 44 years of faithful service I greet you at the threshold of Realisation, with love and confidence.”

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1_43Sri Aurobindo with Amrita (right)

K. Amrita

Mother with Amrita on 25.10.54The Mother with Amrita on 25 October 1954

2The Mother with Nolini Kanta Gupta, Robi Ganguli, Amrita and Udar Pinto

113_2The Mother with Amrita

113_19The Mother with Amrita and Pavitra

113_26The Mother with Amrita, Pavitra and Udar Pinto

113_34The Mother with Nolini Kanta Gupta, Amrita, Pavitra and Udar Pinto

115_19The Mother with Amrita and Pavitra

115_26The Mother with Amrita, Pavitra, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Pradyot Bhattacharya, Abhay Singh Nahar and Udar Pinto

563744_616221928436972_1028312843_nThe Mother with Amrita and Nolini Kanta Gupta

1512715_631467790245719_1098237907_nThe Mother with Amrita, Nolini Kanta Gupta, André Morisset and others at the Playground

1522102_651348274903888_1548227525_nThe Mother with Amrita and Nolini Kanta Gupta

Chinmoy with Nolini Kanta Gupta, Amrita and KalipadaAmrita and Nolini Kanta Gupta with Chinmoy and Kalipada

full - 0058-1The Mother with Amrita

Mother with Andre, Pavitra and Amrita on 21.2.66The Mother with André Morisset, Pavitra and Amrita

Mother with Nolini, Amrita and Champaklal on 21.2.66The Mother with Nolini Kanta Gupta, Champaklal and Amrita

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Photographs courtesy: Ms. Tara Jauhar, Ms. Gauri Pinto and Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

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Satyakarma—The Yogi from Deccan Land by Krishna Chakravarti

Dear Friends,

There were (and are) many inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram who worked tirelessly throughout their entire lifetime to serve Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. They never busied themselves with artistic activities but worked round the clock for work was their medium of practising the Integral Yoga. Such individuals were never very popular in the Ashram community, yet, their sincerity and dedication made them radiate like jewels.

One of such individuals was Venkatarama Reddy, renamed Satyakarma by Sri Aurobindo.

Venkatarama Reddy (26 November 1904—31 December 1970) was a zamindar of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh. He visited Pondicherry in 1926 and had his first Darshan of Sri Aurobindo. He re-visited Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1930 and three years later joined it as a permanent inmate. Sri Aurobindo renamed him “Satyakarma” and he was made the Cashier of the Ashram. When the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust was formed in 1955, the Mother selected him as one of the Trustees.

An informative article on Satyakarma authored by Ms. Krishna Chakravarti has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

Born in December 1943 to Justice Santosh Kumar Chakravarti and Bokul Rani, Krishna Chakravarti joined the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education as a student in 1956. After completing her education in 1966, she joined the Central Office of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. A dedicated worker and prolific writer, her published books include Sri Aurobindo Laho Pronam (2006), A Garland of Adoration (2007) and Judge Saheb O Maharanir One-Third Dozen er Kahini (2009).

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation

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Satyakarma—The Yogi from Deccan Land

Krishna Chakravarti

Venkatarama Reddy was born on 26-11-1904 in a village near Nellore, in Andhra Pradesh where the two holy rivers, Krishna and Godavari flow and fertilise the basin. The richness of the land also gives richness to its people. And Venkatarama Reddy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth in a family where richness and affluence flowed as the waters of Godavari. His father died at the age of thirty-six and the property and the mango groves were taken care of by an uncle. But before dying, his father wanted to see the new-born daughter of his sister and requested that she be his daughter-in-law—the wife of his only son. Thus Venkatarama Reddy grew up in affluence, studied at Nellore, married his first cousin, Krishnamma and settled down to look after the property left by his father. The freedom of India was a vision for most young men of that time and he joined the freedom movement inspired by Gandhi.

And vaguely through the forms of earth there looked
Something that life is not and yet must be.

For Venkatarama there was an urge, an inner need that yearned to be satisfied. He became a frequent visitor to Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Ashram. Often he had to go to Madras to consult the famous barrister, Duraiswamy, in connection with problems regarding his vast property. There, for the first time, he heard the name of Sri Aurobindo. Duraiswamy, who was aware of the young man’s urge asked him to visit Pondicherry. So Venkatarama Reddy, at the age of twenty-two, visited the Ashram and had the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo for the first time in 1926. He asked Sri Aurobindo many questions and Sri Aurobindo replied. During the conversation the Mother also came and sat down. After a while, she left and Sri Aurobindo told him “She is the Mother.”

He visited Pondicherry in 1930 with his wife, leaving behind his son—Dayakar—then two and a half years old, as children were not allowed in the Ashram at that time. They went back, but that was to sell the property before settling down in the Ashram. In 1933, the family settled down in Pondicherry. His mother was unhappy as Venkatarama was the only son and her only daughter was already married. She pleaded with Krishnamma to stay back, “Let him go if he wants to, but you can stay back here.” But the typically Hindu wife replied, “My place is by his side, I will go wherever my husband goes.” Dayakar, their only son, happened to be the first child to be admitted in the Ashram. It opened the door for other families from Andhra—Narayan Reddy, Subramanian Pantulu also settled down with their families. The Ashram was vibrant with boisterous children.

Venkatarama Reddy and his family stayed in a house near the Ashram. He was given work with Chandulal. In 1936 Venkatarama Reddy was given a room in the Ashram main building, a new name “Satyakarma” and a new work—the Cashier of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. From then onwards he was known only as Satyakarma. What immense treasure he must have gained at Their feet—the richness he was born to, the family bond and love were all negligible compared to the tiny room he spent his life in; half of it was used for his office work too. For he was the Cashier of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Their treasurer, not only of money but also of Their trust and faith in him. His life was an example of the name give to him. He passed away on 31st December 1970.

He strictly followed the routine of the Ashram. He had all the three meals in the Dining Room and would not touch any other item. Much later, he started taking food in his own room. Once his mother had come and wanted him to partake of some dishes cooked by her. He refused. Krishnamma reported the incident to the Mother as his mother was greatly perturbed. The Mother asked Krishnamma to learn from Rukmini-di, sister of Duraiswamy, the preparation of a sweet which Sri Aurobindo liked very much. She asked them to prepare that sweet every Monday and bring it for Sri Aurobindo. After Sri Aurobindo had tasted it, the sweets were given to Satyakarma as Prasad and he could not refuse. His mother was satisfied and Krishnamma got the opportunity to cook for Sri Aurobindo, every Monday, a sweet that he liked.

The Mother appointed him a trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust when it was formed in 1955. Till the end he remained a Trustee and the Cashier of the Ashram.

I had the opportunity of working under him just for a few months when his assistant, Manibhai, was unwell. But those few months tied a bond so strong and deep that though he is gone some thirty-four years back, it continues through his wife Krishnamma—the loving and affectionate Amma.

The first impression I had was that of a Rishi of a bygone era. The austerity and intensity of the Sadhana was reflected in his entire body. He was of medium height, of medium complexion, his body was thin but strong as he was in the habit of doing exercises early in the morning in front of his room in the courtyard. He would always be clad in a white dhoti, the upper body mostly bare, or occasionally he had a shirt on. His entire body shone with a light, his face had a serious look but his smile (which was rare) expressed an inner bliss. His tiny room was supposed to have been a room for keeping the rickshaw. There was a cot, a wall-cupboard where he kept his clothes and a big table which served him as his cashier’s table. He sat on one side on a chair, on the opposite side there was a chair for his assistant; a big safe behind him, another safe at the entrance—a movable counter, from where Ashramites took their money. The assistant and he himself had to crouch down below the counter to go out or come inside for work. The counter would be removed after working hours and there would then be space for moving freely. The only luxury he had was a small basin near the only window. He would have his meals sitting on the cot. That was Satyakarma-ji’s world—he who was the Jagirdar from Nellore. I had no idea of his antecedents when I worked with him until one day he gave me some cash to count. I was fumbling while counting. So he asked if I had not counted cash before. I replied frankly that there was no question of counting, as I had never seen so much cash before. He looked all surprised and said, “Oh, from my very young age I used to count much more cash than this.” Now was the time for me to look at him in surprise! This man with a cot, an almirah and a table was so rich before coming here! How wonderfully he had adjusted to the situation the new life offered. No sign of regret, let alone any kind of discomfort in the life he led. Like the Buddha he shunned the riches but gained the inner treasure which would remain ever in his soul.

The hardest challenge was his work. Born in a family where money flowed in abundance,—to face scarcity was daunting indeed. He would go to the Mother everyday. She would simply replace the money he had spent that day in the morning. But when She had no money to give or gave less than required, how did he face the challenge? He did face it and carried on his thin shoulders the burden of running the Ashram on nil balance.

In the difficult periods of the Ashram’s finance his faith and trust in the Master and the Mother helped us sail through the turbulent waters—the Ashramites knowing nothing, feeling no crunch. He and others like him were the torchbearers of the Ashram and no amount of remembrance or homage would suffice to acknowledge the burden they carried on to build this Ashram with their sacrifice, love, devotion and commitment to the Gurus. His daily notations in his diary which used to be sent to the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s replies, and the Mother’s letters to him are still unpublished. What best way to describe Satyakarma—the yogi from Deccan land—than what the Mother wrote in a bold hand after his passing:

I TRUSTED HIM VERY MUCH.

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Source: Krishna Chakravarti’s A Garland of Adoration.

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9Photo taken on a Darshan day in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. From left to right: Saraswatiben, Dayakar, Satyakarma, Unknown, Sailen, Ambalal Balakrishna Purani, Dilip Kumar Roy and Tajdar Begum

Mother giving blessings to Satyakarma (also seen Chimanbhai, Champaklal and Kamala)The Mother with Satyakarma (second from left) Chimanbhai, Champaklal and Kamalaben

Mother with Satyakarma on 11.10.54 also AmbabhikshuThe Mother with Satyakarma and Ambabhikshu on 11 October 1954

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Photographs courtesy: Ms. Tara Jauhar and Mr. Anurag Banerjee

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Counouma: A Personal Memoir by Samyukta Reddy

Dear Friends,

There were (and are) many inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram who worked tirelessly throughout their entire lifetime to serve Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. They never busied themselves with artistic activities but worked round the clock for work was their medium of practising the Integral Yoga. Such individuals were never very popular in the Ashram community, yet, their sincerity and dedication made them radiate like jewels.

One of such individuals was Padmanabhan Counouma.

Padmanabhan Counouma (17 November 1908—10 February 1991) was appointed a member of the Board of Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram by the Mother on 21 September 1968. On 13 March 1969 she empowered him to act as Attorney and Legal Adviser of the Board and to sign, on behalf of it, all correspondence as well as execute its general business.

Amal Kiran alias K. D. Sethna wrote about P. Counouma in an obituary: “A man of wide culture, partly trained in France, a prominent figure for a time in Pondicherry’s administrative set-up, Counouma played his part excellently in all the spheres of his activity. He was no stickler after red tape and mostly let his sharp intelligence and humane sympathy cut through difficult situations but always took care to carry his fellow Trustees harmoniously and respectfully with him. Though no believer in conventions and ceremonies, he was deeply devoted to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He offered all his means and properties to them and lived a simple life in service of them and their Ashram…[He was] a worthy worker in the cause of the New World of Spirituality which [the] Gurus have sought to build.”

Noted member of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Department, Raman Reddy further adds about P. Counouma: “Counouma was not so well known in the Ashram circle but locally in Pondicherry he was very well-known, so well-known that he handled all the local affairs without anybody from the Ashram knowing about it. Judges, lawyers, politicians, all visited him with great respect and honour. He almost seemed an atheist when you tried to make him speak on spirituality but he had great devotion for the Mother which he expressed in rare moments with a unique sense of humour. Incidentally, he knew better French than Frenchmen. Those days the Pondicherry elite received French education. He was a Keralite from Mahe and educated in Pondicherry and France, where he did his law. He was Conservataire des Hyotheques (equivalent to the Registrar of the Registration Department with very different functions — the French system was much better than the English one) and was paid the next highest salary to the Governor of Pondicherry. He along with Lambert Saravane and Dr. Andre (previous owner of Gloria Farm) went into politics at the behest of the Mother in 1946-48 and withdrew from it when the local politics got very messy.”

An informative article on P. Counouma authored by Samyukta Reddy, who worked in Counouma’s office for around 20 years and took care of him until he passed away in 1991, has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

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Counouma: A Personal Memoir

Samyukta Reddy

Counouma was a Malayali and came from Kerala. His father taught French to his mother so that they could speak French at home. When he was eleven his father sent him to stay with his friends in Pondicherry for schooling. He stayed back there for the rest of his life. That’s why many mistook him to be a Pondicherian. He always stood first in the class. His father died when he was 18 years old and financial constraints made him a school teacher for three months in Aryankuppam. Later he became a lecturer in Colway College and went to France to get his degree in law. He was still young when he held high positions in the Government. He was a collector and a judge in Karaikal. In Pondicherry he was acting mayor, revenue minister and held the lucrative post of the “Conservateur des Hypothèques” (Registration Officer) which made him the next highest paid officer in the government after the Governor. He held office in his own house. But he was not attached to money. He refused the French pension and took the Indian pension instead and even that he offered to the Mother. He used to take part in politics and the Mother even encouraged him to do so. He would joke, “Maybe Mother wanted a big local man in her pockets!”

His relations with the Ashram developed from 1935 onwards. The Mother saw him somewhere and told Amrita who was then manager of the Ashram, “I want to see that boy in white coat and black tie. Ask him what time is convenient for him.” Amrita used to go to him to take legal advice in Ashram matters. So when he went this time and told him that the Mother wanted to meet him, Counouma said, “How can I give a time to Mother? I’ll come immediately!” It was about 10.30 a.m. This time would be set aside by the Mother to meet him every day. When they met first the Mother shook hands with him and made him sit on a chair. When he went to Her the second time he pushed aside the chair and sat at Her feet and She blessed him. That was the beginning of his Ashram life. The Mother would give him a bouquet of double coloured roses every day.

One day when the Mother and Sri Aurobindo were giving Darshan, Counouma was fast asleep in his room. The Darshan was over and yet they seemed to wait for someone. The Mother remarked to a person near Her, “Hasn’t Counouma come?” The latter went and woke him up in his house. Counouma came running and panting for breath. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo laughed at him and everybody else there joined in the fun. He was very close to the Mother. Whenever he went out for Ashram work the Mother would wait for him until he came back.

He had to go once as a deputy to the French Parliament. The Mother permitted him and went to Sri Aurobindo to ask for His darshan. Sri Aurobindo said, “Has he not enough of name and position here that he has to go now abroad for it?” When the Mother told this to Counouma, he cancelled his trip and gave away even his newly made suit to the Ashram.

When Sri Aurobindo passed away, the Mother called him and told him that She wanted the Master’s Samadhi in the Ashram courtyard. He said that the permission had to come from France and that would take some time. The Mother repeated firmly, as if She had not heard what he had said, “I want the samadhi here!” Counouma immediately arranged for it with Governor Baron and got the permission later from France.

The Mother told him, “You were once Janaka and I was your daughter. I also was your mother once. Whenever I came to earth you were with me.”

In 1968 he was appointed a Trustee and in 1969 the Managing Trustee. Much of the Ashram property was bought through him. The Mother called him one day and told him that She wanted the Marrée Garden. By evening he had arranged for the purchase and went to the Tennis Ground to inform Her. On seeing him She stopped playing tennis and was very happy to hear the news. That was the way he worked, always saying “Yes” to whatever the Mother told him to do.

He was never in good health. Dr. Nripen once tested him and found high sugar in his blood. When the Mother knew about it, She said, “You cannot have high sugar. How can they say that? Go and test yourself outside.” When he had himself tested again there was no sugar at all. The Mother was very pleased with the report.

I joined Counouma’s office as a typist in 1970. After seeing me the Mother told him, “She will be very very useful to you.” He was then my boss. I was afraid of even speaking to him. Typing errors were not tolerated. I had to be always on time in the office. All the other offices closed on Sunday except ours. He would sit from 7 a.m. and attend to the problems of all who came there. He would listen patiently to each one and then speak. Even if somebody shouted at him in anger he would remain unperturbed and calmly give them an appropriate answer.

About two months before the Mother passed away, She called him and tied two or three garlands of Patience flowers on his wrist. She told him, “You know why I am tying this on you? This is not ordinary patience. It is My Patience! I am giving you My Patience!”

The Mother gave him more and more work from 1971 and his responsibilities increased day by day. He was consulted for even matters in Auroville.

One day something interesting happened. It was about four o’clock and he had some urgent work in a government office. I gave him tea and was just handing over his bunch of keys when it slipped and fell down. It simply disappeared! It was closing time so he told me to look for it and went away. He finished his work and came back and I hadn’t still found it. He told the servant to sweep the floor of the adjoining room. The keys were below the almirah of that room! “How could that be?” I thought with surprise mingled with fear. When he went the next day and reported it to the Mother, She said, “It is the mischief of small beings who want to disturb your work. Sri Aurobindo intervened and saw that you got back your keys. You have to be always alert in my work.”

Another incident. This happened after the Mother’s passing away. I used to go to him at five o’clock in the morning and give him breakfast. I tidied up his bed and folded the mosquito net and found his shawl very dirty. I thought of washing it but as I was afraid to ask him about it, I only prayed to the Mother and kept quiet. The next day I found another shawl there! I went and asked whether he had bought another shawl. A little displeased he said, “Why do you ask me that question? Somebody else also asked me the same question yesterday evening.” The next day I found the same old shawl again, this time nicely washed and folded! The new one was no more there! On asking him he said coolly, “The Supreme has washed my shawl!” Many such extraordinary things happened in his house.

After he bought his house, the Mother came and said, “It is really like a minister’s house!” He never hid anything from the Mother. When he was a minister he would always inform Her whenever he had any guests and She would personally select the food and the wine which had to be served to them.

The Mother gave a photograph of Hers to his office. She said to him, “Keep this in your office. Whenever you are in difficulties, turn this photo towards the person sitting in front of you so that he can see it. I will do the rest!”

On the 22nd of February 1982 Counouma fell down in the Ashram courtyard and fractured his leg. He had to be operated on and a doctor was specially called from Calcutta. Everybody said that an operation was necessary. Only Nolinida didn’t approve of it. When the doctor came Counouma had high fever and the operation was postponed. Instead the doctor made him take fruit juices and meat soup. His diet had been very meagre before. It was as if he had been living on the Mother’s Grace. His health deteriorated. Sri Aurobindo appeared to him in a vision and granted him further life. The fracture joined without an operation and his leg became all right. From then my typing work decreased and I was busy all day giving him medicines and fruit juices. When I gave him food he would say, “Matru hastena bhojanam!”

In 1988 he was in a critical condition. Doctor Datta said always, “Only a miracle can save him! We cannot do anything!” At that time I saw a dream. Counouma was standing near the Samadhi. I and few others were also there. From inside the Samadhi the Mother spoke firmly, “Counouma, you have to live a little longer!” Counouma responded immediately, “Yes, Mother!” When I went and told him about this, he said, “It’s not just a dream; it’s a vision. Whenever Mother would ask me something, I said, ‘Yes, Mother’!” He got then a new lease of life for two years.

The last three months of that period he was not keeping well. He would always call me, “Amma! Amma!” like a small child. I could hardly go anywhere else. In spite of his extreme weakness, he worked to the last. Finally like Bhishma waiting for the equinox on his bed of arrows, he died after three days of intense suffering on the “ekadashi” of 10.2.91. He gave me the love of a son to his mother.

Somebody saw in a vision the Mother taking him up with both Her arms. Two days later I similarly saw him well dressed and sitting at the Mother’s feet. He had lived calmly without any binding attachments or relationships.

It is significant that Counouma’s birthday was on the same day as that of the Mother’s passing away, the 17th of November, and the twelfth day after his death coincided with the Mother’s birthday, the 21st of February.

Whatever I have recounted here is true, i.e., as witnessed by me or related to me by Counouma himself. There is nothing imaginary. I finish here with my pranams to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

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Mother with Dyuman, Rasendran, Counouma on 25.10.1954The Mother with Dyuman, Rasendran and Counouma on 25 October 1954

1451458_616215325104299_1225467585_nThe Mother (putting her signature on the first day cover on Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Centenary) with P. Counouma and Noren Singh Nahar

00 p-97b.jpg(From left to right) Vishwanath, Udar Pinto, Counouma, Ranganath Raghavan, Himanshu Niyogi, Dyuman and Chinu at the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony for the extension of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press in 1980

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Photographs courtesy: Ms. Gauri Pinto and Ms. Tara Jauhar.

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Swami Vivekananda and Bagha Jatin by Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee

Dear Friends,

10 September 2015 marks the Centenary of the martyrdom of Jatindra Nath Mukherjee alias Bagha Jatin, the pride of every Bengali. To commemorate the said occasion, an event was held last week in his birthplace of Koyagram at Kushtia in Bangladesh, which several Bangladeshi ministers and the Indian high commissioner were set to attend before running into bad weather. Jatindra Nath—nicknamed ‘Bagha Jatin’ after killing a tiger in close combat—died at Balasore in Orissa on 10 September 1915 of wounds suffered in a gallant battle with the British troops. According to The Telegraph (Monday, 7 September 2015) on 10 September 2015, Thursday, exactly a hundred years later, a team from Bangladesh will pay homage to him in Balasore. “The entire programme is being organized jointly by a Calcutta based think tank, the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, and a panel formed last year by prominent Bangladeshi citizens, including writer and rights activist Shahriar Kabir”, reports the newspaper which further adds: “The centenary panel’s demands include renaming the main road and the Koya College after Bagha Jatin and establishing a cultural complex on land that apparently belonged to his family.”

As our humble homage to Bagha Jatin — one of India’s most fearless sons — an article on him authored by his grandson and noted researcher Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

Born on 20 October 1936 Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee 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) and In Quest of the Cosmic Soul (published by Overman Foundation).

In addition to the two Bengali biographies of Bagha Jatin (published by West Bengal Book Board and Dey’s Publishing) and a collection of tributes titled Samasamyiker Chokhe Bagha Jatin (published by Sahitya Samsad), Dr. Mukherjee has authored three more books in English on his illustrious grandfather: (i) Bagha Jatin: Life and Times (published by National Book Trust, New Delhi and launched by His Excellency the President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee). (ii) Bagha Jatin: The Revolutionary Legacy (published by Indus Source Books, Mumbai) and (iii) Bagha Jatin: Life in Bengal and Death in Orissa (published by Manohar Books, New Delhi with a blurb by Professor Tapan Raychaudhuri).
With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

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Swami_Vivekananda_in_Belur_Math_19_June_1899200px-BaghaJatin14

Devendranath Tagore owned the vast estate of Birhampore in the district of Nadia, with Shilaidah as its headquarters. Ramsundar Chatterjee and Naimuddin Mian, respectively land-lords of adjacent Koya and Kaloa, managed with much humanity the Hindu and the Muslim subjects of the Tagores. Ramsundar was most popular for his physical and moral courage, and esteemed for his skill and experience. At the age of seventy-five, in 1870, he gave his grand-daughter Sharat-Shashi to marriage to Umesh Chandra Mukherjee, living in the village Sadhuhati Rishkhali, in Jhenaidah, the neighbouring subdivision belonging to Jessore. Umesh owned some lands and spent his time studying the scriptures and looking after his horses. When on horse-back he visited the country-side, even the arrogant indigo-planters hailed him courteously. Umesh received regularly books and periodicals from Calcutta. His wife was fond of their library where elegantly bound copies of Banga-darshan edited by Bankim Chandra, Arya-darshan by Yogendra Vidyabhushan and Bharati by the Tagores found their place by the side of essays, novels and poems by contemporary Bengali authors. Vinodebala, the first child of this happy couple, was born in 1874, with the publication of the Arya-darshan; two years earlier, the issuing of the Banga-darshan had seemed to be as important in the people’s life as that of the Encyclopedia preceding the revolution in France. [1] The year 1879—when Jatindra Nath Mukherjee (“Bagha Jatin”) was born, a century after the French Revolution—roused a new enthusiasm with the coming out of the collected essays of Bankim Chandra. A few months later, advised by Surendranath Banerjee, Yogendra took to inspiring readers with his best-seller biographies of Mazzini, Garibaldi and other revolutionaries to incite the people to sacrifice themselves for the Motherland : “I shall be fulfilled if even a single reader takes the decision of sacrificing his own interest in the interest of the Nation.” [2]

A Mother’s Ambition

Daughter of Nadia—a district hallowed with the cult of Love taught by Shri Chaitanya—Sharat Shashi acquired an inner plenitude in her life in Jessore, particularly known for its heroic tradition. A born poet, spirited, generous, skilful in her household chores and artistic activities, she conducted workshops with ladies of the vicinity and was awarded distinctions by cultural associations for her social initiatives. As soon as she heard of anyone suffering in the neighbourhood, she rushed to nurse the sick. When Jatindra was hardly five, he lost his father. Invited by her grandfather and her elder brothers, Sharat Shashi returned to her parents’ home in Koya, with Vinodebala, Jatindra and his little brother Surendra. This child was named after Surendra Tagore, nephew of the Poet Rabindranath and a close friend of the family. Following Surendra’s sudden death, Vinodebala became widow and returned to Koya, too. Drawing an incandescent inspiration from all this tragedy, Sharat Shashi was determined to bring up her children conform to her deceased husband’s god-loving ideals. An all-rounder in studies, in sports and in innocent pranks, Jatindra excelled also in playing roles of Hanuman, King Harish Chandra, Dhruva, Prahlad, Pratapaditya in dramatic performances. Jatindra’s passion for the urban stage and the village operas was to help him choose them as adequate means for patriotic propaganda. Like a dexterous stage-manager, between 1908-1910 and, again, in 1915, he was to enact a dazzling pageant of firework all over the country, in form of an armed riposte to the colonial repressive measures. He with a group of friends founded a club where, in addition to theatre and football—Jatindra’s second passion—, they sat discussing on patriotic literature and the Gita; very soon Uncle Basanta Kumar, a pleader, and Surendra Tagore conducted classes for them on several subjects. In 1893, as a student of the famous A.V. School at Krishnagar, Jatindra saved the life of a boy by snatching him away from the trajectory of a mad horse and, by taming the animal, seated on its back.

On contracting the contagion while looking after a cholera patient, Sharat Shashi was to die at the age of forty-one. [3] That was to be the crowning lesson of devoted service she taught, instilling in her children the love for their society, their country, and their Creator.

Calcutta Central College

After passing the Entrance in 1895, Jatindra joined the Calcutta College for his higher studies; it was situated the midway between Swami Vivekananda’s house, on one side, and that of Yogendra Vidyabhushan on the other : two of his mentors, two makers of the new generation. Welcomed by Vivekananda, young Jatindra learnt that it is possible to lead a saintly life even for a family man dedicated to the service of the Motherland. Vivekananda advised him to concentrate on self-improvement (anushilan, as preconised by Bankimchandra) and sent him to the gymnasium of Ambu Guha where the Swami himself practised the traditional Indian wrestling. At this gymnasium—a cross-road of great minds—Jatindra came across persons like Shashibhushan Raychaudhuri (the educationist popular as “Shashi-da”) and Shachin Banerjee, son of Yogendra who at once singled out Jatindra as a significant guest : on a wall inside his drawing room, Yogendra showed Vivekananda’s inscription that India was to win her freedom in 1925! [4] In 1903, when Sri Aurobindo went to stay with Yogendra, the latter introduced him to Jatindra who was to be recognized by Sri Aurobindo as his “right-hand man”. Nivedita is said to have been happy with this meeting.

Shortly before the final examination at the Calcutta Central College, fed up with the system of Education of an imperialist State, Jatindra had given up his studies. The Dawn Society under Satish Mukherjee was created in 1905 as a nursery of patriotism to provide a training ground for youths. It had become one of the most active centres for the propagation of Boycott-Swadeshi ideologies. In tune with the programme of a new pedagogy introduced by Sri Aurobindo, the Society’s object was to awaken students to the needs of the country, to love Mother India, to cultivate their moral character, to think for themselves. It had a weekly session for “general training course”. In addition to Satish’s ardent message of philanthropy rousing the youth to dedicated service, they would also follow Pandit Nilakantha Goswami’s talks on the Gita, impressing on the listeners’ mind the futility of life and death; teaching them that the only thing that counted was Duty and right Action. Celebrities like Sister Nivedita, Jatin Mukherjee (Bagha Jatin), Dr Rajendra Prasad, Radhakumud Mukherjee, Benoykumar Sarkar attended classes at the ‘Dawn’. [5]

Lessons from the Swami

First and foremost, Vivekananda had taught Jatindra the secret of containing and controlling the seminal energy (brahmacharya), leading to a purity and an altitude in action and thought, source of an immense physical and mental strength : a married man can also attain this state by remaining steadfast to his wife, procreate without lust, and desire no other women. Jatindra’s exemplary integrity drew even the admiration of observers like the English Superintendent of Police, J.E. Armstrong who wrote in his report that Jatindra “owed his prominent position in revolutionary circles, not only to his quality of leadership, but in great measure to his reputation of being a Brahmachari with no thought beyond the revolutionary cause.” [6] On the foil of reports concerning various deviations from other leaders, this was a timely tribute. His followers saw in him almost a perfect man, having forged his innate qualities according to the stern principles of self-making (anushilan) : “His very life was in tune with the Gita. Happiness and suffering, living and dying, gain and loss, censure and praise were all equal for him. [7] Others have identified in him the unconditional surrender—as described by Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo—, compatible only with a mighty personality of Jatindra’s stature; he was looked up on as the divinised pioneer of the integral yoga. [8]

Brought up by a mother particularly dedicated to social service, Jatindra had more than a predisposition for charitable gestures. Step by step the Swami revealed to him the utility of serving the suffering fellow creatures, before undertaking an armed insurrection for the political freedom (mukti) of India. For both these missions, he was to make men who, instead of yearning for personal release and deliverance (moksha) would be prepared for the cause of the Motherland. Vivekananda’s “Die in the name of an ideal” assumed in Jatindra’s motto : “We shall die to arouse the Nation.”

The Swami was to advocate a heroic attitude in front of the enemy. In the Bharati, in 1880, Rabindranath had recognised that since our childhood the cult of fear has impressed on our mind fear as our lord, fear as our ruler, we fail to obey anything other than fear : “Is this the method of acquiring independence ?” [9] In course of this article, he had suggested without hesitation : “Many think that there is no better remedy to tyranny than the clenched fist; indeed those who, having diagnosed the state of the sick, pretend nevertheless, to behave as civilized Christians, while worshipping brutal power; those who do not shrink from blandly applying physical force against the helpless and do not count it as an act of cowardice; playfully, those who can kill the coloured people; will they accept any other antidote than the vigorous clenched fist ?… We must assist the natives as best as possible in quenching the English tyranny. We must veritably learn to sacrifice our selfish ends for the good of our compatriots, instead of merely wagging our tongues. We must realize that the danger which threatens our compatriots under foreign hands is for us a humiliation.” [10] Four years later, he had raised the question, after having analyzed the Rulers’ mentality : “Do they recognize any other lesson than that of the clenched fist?” In reply to Bipinchandra’s article [11] in 1903 discussing the problem of the English tyranny in India, Rabindranath asked in his article, “Boxing Bout” (ghushoghushi), whether it was indispensable for innocent Indians—victims of the conceited Englishmen’s behaviour—to return tit for tat. Absolutely sanguine about the utility of a well served slap in return of a blow with the fist, he did not fail to warn that in case an individual Englishman is personally thrashed by a native citizen, the entire English community flares up as a collective insult and turns it into a matter of sedition. Henceforth, to fight against them, Indians require a collective preparation. This reminds us that since meeting Sri Aurobindo in 1903, Jatindra had set to transform his gymnastic clubs into secret branches of the revolutionary Anushilan in various districts.

The secret preparations had also an overt counterpart. Already well-known for distributing adequate lessons to arrogant English army officers, Jatindra was informed about the plans of the Government to invite the Prince of Wales to an Indian tour with a view to appease the agitations against the Partition of Bengal in 1905. Jatindra decided to enact before the future Emperor a first-hand show of the way the His Majesty’s officers humiliated the natives. With the procession approaching, Jatindra singled out a cabriolet on a side-lane, very near the Royal coach : a batch of English military men seated on its roof, had been dangling their booted legs against the windows where there were some Bengali ladies, their faces livid. Requesting the fellows to leave the ladies alone, in reply to their vulgar provocation, Jatindra rushed up to the roof and felled the officers with pure Bengali slaps till they dropped off on the ground. The Prince, on his return from the Indian tour, had several discussions with Morley about “the ungracious bearing of Europeans to Indians.” [12]

Certainly on gathering from Vivekananda the anecdote about the handloom, while looking after the Poragacha unit (Nadia), in 1905 Jatindra inspired his friend Amarendra Chatterjee (1880-1957) to take it up as an immediate preoccupation. Sponsored by Raja Pyarimohan Mukherjee, Amarendra bought six handlooms and set to hawking homespun textile. He, Jatindra and other associates got the Chhatra Bhandar (“Students’ Emporium”) registered during the anti-Partition agitations, it was going to be a prosperous enterprise leading to the creation of Amarendra’s Shramajivi Samavaya (“Working Men’s Cooperative”) : behind the apparent commercial activities, these stores served as meeting places of the leaders and shelters for militants coming from the districts. In 1908-09, when the colonial repressive measures tried to throttle increasingly all seditious activities, following the example of Jyotirindra Tagore, Jatindra got registered the Bengal Youngmen’s Cooperative Credit and Zemindari Society with the help of Surendra Tagore and others, leased from Sir Daniel Hamilton a few acres of land at Gosaba : in addition to boarding and lodging militants who had escaped the police persecution, he helped them to open night classes for adults and polytechnique schools as experimented by Shashida thanks to a direct guidance from Vivekananda, set up Ayurvedic and homoeopathic dispensaries and small-scale cottage industries, clubs for physical training. By picking up competent associates, he taught them shooting in the marshes. Together with Amarendra, Jatindra was seen organising volunteers with a military discipline during large religious congregations. In his confidential Report 1907-1917, James Campbell Ker (Indian Civil Service)—retracing the evolution of Extremism—admitted that in 1907 the militants of Bengal, in addition to setting fire on foreign goods and attending political gatherings, went to the great fairs and the religious communities to facilitate the life of the participants and pilgrims. “It is interesting to note that on several occasions their interventions were very useful, notably—as the Bengali press goes on hammering—at the time of the Ardhodaya Yoga in Calcutta in February 1908. It was a religious festival that attracted thousands of pilgrims from all corners of Bengal and, about one thousand simple volunteers and two hundred doctors were on the spot. Since the organisers had for goal to prove that that the militants were not only innocuous but, moreover, useful : they and their exemplary behaviour have been congratulated even by Commissioner of Police. Their presence in these places served three purposes : to offer to the youth a training in organisation; to revive the popular militant movement; to insinuate before the public that the performance of the militants was superior to that of the Police. This English administrator cites an excerpt of the Bande Mataram of 7 March, 1908, concerning a pilgrimage in Chittagong: “The organisation was a perfect success, and for some days it was as if the Government of the Sitakunda had come into the hands of the Volunteers, composed of pleaders, doctors and traders (…) Pilgrims were heard saying that when Bande Mataram has come there is no fear (…) The Police acted in cooperation, and helped the work of the Volunteers.” [13]

During Sri Aurobindo’s trial at the Alipore Bomb Case, in 1909, having met at New York Bhupendranath Datta—Swamiji’s brother—, Nivedita had commented : “Even though the capital punishments dogs Aurobindo, he cares a two pence for it.” Returning from her Western tour to India in July 1909, “Nivedita was delighted that Sri Aurobindo was free again and she promptly organised celebrations in her school. And she wondered at the marvellous change—the transformation—that had come over Sri Aurobindo. His face seemed to be all eyes and little else, eyes burning with the intensity and power that had become his during his sadhana in prison.” [14] Later Sri Aurobindo confessed that while in prison, plunged in Nirvana—“with that peace one does not ask for anything”—it was the spirit of Vivekananda that first gave him “a clue in the direction of the Supermind”. [15] When Sri Aurobindo was again to be prosecuted, Nivedita mentioned : “The leader at a distance can work as much as at home.” [16] Before leaving for Pondicherry via Chandernagore, in 1910, regretting that Jatindra was still in prison, Sri Aurobindo left his instruction : “Follow Jatin.” [17] In a conversation, Gourkishore Ghose informed the present writer that, temporarily upset by Sri Aurobindo’s withdrawal from politics, in 1910, Nivedita had told Saralabala Sarkar that Jatindra Mukherjee was indeed the most trustworthy and consistent among the active revolutionary leaders.

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In July 1913, Jatin with his old friend Amarendra and two associates (Atul Krishna Ghose and Karunamoy Sarkar)—all very close to the Shri Ramakrishna Mission—, left for organising relief for the victims of the Damodar flooding the districts of Burdwan, Hughli and Midnapore. Sealy did not fail to detect that “Cloaked under the guise of philanthropy, these bands of young men were as a matter of fact sent with the main object to spreading discontent, embarrassing Government officials by minimising their work and poisoning the minds of the peasantry by spreading known of the malicious stories as to the real cause of the floods.” [18] Other revolutionary leaders – such as Satish Basu and Kiran Mukherjee of the Calcutta Anushilan, Makhanlal Sen of the Dhaka Anushilan, Ramchandra Majumdar, Jnanendra Banerjee, Rasiklal Datta, Sushil Mitra—came to join them very soon. According to the Nixon Report, impressed by the sincerity of these first-aid workers, Motilal Ray, coming to observe on the spot, in September, proposed to send some emissaries to Professor Charu Chandra Ray in Chandernagor to collect funds.

In another confidential Note (dated 22 April, 1914) on Shri Ramakrishna Mission, having described the Extremist leaders’ care to shelter this organisation from political controversy, Charles Tegart provided the list of revolutionaries of a dangerous character who frequented Belur, near Calcutta, or its different branches all over India: right from Sri Aurobindo, Jatin Mukherjee, Amarendra Chatterji, Makhan Sen, Upendra Banerje, Rishikesh Kanjilal, Kunjalal Saha, Bhababhushan Mitra, Debabrata Basu, Sachin Sen, and so many others were blacklisted here. Amarendra and Makhan seemed to found branches of this establishment wherever the police saw them busy with their nationalist activity. Saradananda, the Mission’s Secretary, recognised having advanced important subsidies to Amarendra for the Damodar relief fund. To celebrate Shri Ramakrishna’s birthday at Belur, on 1st March [1914], in presence of a very big assembly, in addition to Amarendra and Makhan (already mentioned), Jatindra Nath Mukherjee and other eminent members of the revolutionary party, were seen serving food to the poor and helping the monastery authorities by taking care of the guests. Amarendra had come with a great number of volunteers on this occasion. While underlining that the brother of Sarat Chandra Chakravarti (1865-1927) alias Swami Saradananda was an active and dangerous revolutionary, Tegart affirmed how easy it was to demonstrate that many passages of Swami Vivekananda’s writings are pregnant with insurrection, that their potentialities of damages had reached their climax, the revolutionary party making full use of it. [19]

The thirst with which young Jatindra had approached Vivekananda for guidance in life was as eager as the impatience for realizing God which led Narendra Datta to Shri Ramakrishna and was fulfilled by becoming Vivekananda. Neither in his service for relieving the miserable fellow creatures, nor in his hectic engagement to prepare the compatriots for a decisive struggle to free India did Jatindra forget the spiritual mission he had received from Vivekananda. Questioned by a disciple whether liberation (mukti) of the Motherland was compatible with ultimate Deliverance (moksha), Vivekananda had assured that mukti was the immediate and only path leading to moksha. For the time being, forgetting about all other divinities, Jatindra instructed his followers to worship only Mother India, as advised by Vivekananda. Approached by young Chittapriya Raychaudhuri whether revolutionary activities were truly compatible with spiritual quest, Jatindra was to reply that he at least would not have been there, had it not been so.

During the months preceding his self-sacrifice, in his hide-out in the forest of Kaptipoda, every day before the sunset, a handful of revolutionary followers surrounding their Dada, Jatindra held a class on the Gita : “The Gita was the ideal of his life… When Dada recited the Gita with his sonorous voice, his trance-lost face beamed with a rare glow. We felt ecstatic by contemplating that face. We felt as if Gautam Muni in person was chanting Vedic hymns. A peaceful meditation seemed to engulf the tranquil forest resort. Even though we did not fully understand the message of the Gita, we would get lost, however, in an ineffable joy at the sight of that serene silhouette. Tears pervaded our eyes.” [20]

Another eye witness, Manindra Chakravarti, was sitting near him at sunset. Manindra kept quiet when suddenly Jatindra became silent. On watching Jatindra’s contemplative face and mysterious look, Manindra found him wrapped in ecstasy… His gaze was fixed on the top of a tall sal tree. An immobility of a statue. All of a sudden, catching hold of Manindra’s hand, Jatindra exlaimed : “Look there, look at my Krishna !” Unable to perceive anything, Manindra felt an electrifying current of joy transmitted all over his body by that very touch. “Blessed you are, Jatin, blessed your life,” were the final words jotted down by Manindra. [21]

“Die for an ideal, since die we must,” was Vivekananda’s advice to Jatindra. Most probably Vivekananda himself had never imagined the glorious death Jatindra was to choose on 9 September 1915, with four brave young followers—Chittapriya, Niren Dasgupta, Manoranjan Sengupta and Jyotish Pal—in a pitched battle against an armed detachment. Even observers on the imperial side admired the blazing picture of this first guerilla fought in modern times, on the very soil of India : the Phoenix of revolution emerged out of that pyre to lead a generation of desperate volunteers for freeing the Motherland to its cherished phase of the mass movement.

A Reason-proof God

Two of Jatindra’s followers—Harikumar Chakravarti and Naren Bhattacharya (future M.N. Roy)—had grasped, thanks to Jatindra, how profound was Vivekananda’s conviction that it was possible to lead a saintly life without donning necessarily the garb of a monk; it was a heroic challenge, indeed. Accepting the Swami’s Advaita Vedanta teaching, Harikumar stopped worshipping images and believing in God, whereas Naren stuck to both. According to Harikumar, the Swami held that there was no God; Naren was sanguine that the Swami believed in God’s existence. Requested to settle this theological dilemma, Jatindra preferred taking them to his Guru, Bholanand Giri of Haridwar, who was on visit to Calcutta. After listening to the object of their debate, Giriji told Harikumar : “You are right, my Son. There is no God.” Then, turning to Naren he assured : “God does exist.” Then he added : “Let everybody live according to his own opinion.” Later, dissatisfied with this enigmatic reply, the two opponents turned to Jatindra, seeking for a solution. Jatindra consoled them by telling how great Vivekananda’s thoughts were and how futile it was to dispute over his words : “If India chose to listen to Vivekananda, there will be no end to her glory.” [22]

Like Taraknath Das, Adhar Laskar, Satyen Sen, Guran Ditt Kumar, Darisi Chenchiah and a few others, Jiten Lahiri—one of Jugantar emissaries—was enrolled at Berkeley, studying Organic Chemistry and make explosives; all of them were eager to get military training, as wished by Jatindra. In January 1913, while attending with Chenchia one of Har Dayal’s lectures on Indian philosophy, he was startled by the lecturer’s sudden vehemence in treating Vivekananda as an escapist. Lahiri taxed Dayal mercilessly of sheer escapism, turning his back, unawares, to the determination of millions of Indian emigrants in the USA, who had been waiting for a proper leadership to fight for India’s freedom. Taken aback, Dayal resigned from his post at the University, discovered the formidable Federation of Patriots, with branches active all over North America and Canada : the prototype of the future Gadhar movement. He sent a telegram to his mentor Taraknath Das to come over from New York. [23]

Conclusion

Having met men who mattered in the twentieth century—men like Lenin, Stalin, Ho Chi Min –M.N. Roy described them as great men and Jatindra to be a good man; Roy further specified : “Good men are seldom given a place in the galaxy of the great. It will continue to be so until goodness is recognised as the measure of genuine greatness. Jatinda was not the embodiment of the mediaeval values of warlikeness and heroism. He did not belong to any age; his values were human and as such transcended space and time. He was kind and truthful as well as bold and uncompromising. His boldness stopped short of cruelty, and his uncompromisingness did not preclude toleration. Like all modern educated young men of his time, he tended to accept the reformed religion preached by Swami Vivekananda—a God who would stand the test of reason, and a religion which served progressive social and human purpose. He believed himself to be a Karmayogi, trying to be at any rate, and recommended the ideal to all of us. Detached from the unnecessary mystic preoccupation, Karmayogi means a humanist. He who believes that self-realisation can be attained through human action, must logically also believe in man’s creativeness—that man is the maker of his destiny. That is also the essence of Humanism. Jatinda was a Humanist—perhaps the first in modern India. To recognise him as such will be the most befitting homage to his memory.” [24]

Struck by the degree of Jatindra’s assimilation of Vivekananda’s teachings, some historians have observed a strange resemblance—physical and psychical—between them ; both appeared to have been moulded by the same divine artisan: “if Vivekananda chose to be Jatindra, he could as well do it, and the reverse”. [25]

Endnotes:

[1] Navayug’er Bangala, Bipinchandra Pal, 1964, p. 133.
[2] Yogendranath Vidyabhushan, by Niren Banerjee, Atama Prakashan, 1977, p. 24.
[3] Parivarik katha, by Lalitkumar Chatterjee, Sarasvati Press, Krishnagar, 1947, p.77.
[4] Swamiji—Nivedita—Jatin Mukherjee by Prithwindra Mukherjee, in Bhagini Nivedita janma-shatavarshiki smarak grantha, Part II, 1968, p. 6.
[5] Swaraj’er tirtha-path’e nihsanga pathik bipinchandra pal by Pabitrakumar Gupta, serialised in monthly Jayashri, Volume 72, Number 3, July 2007.
[6] Terrorism in Bengal, compiled by Amiya K. Samanta, Government of West Bengal, 1995, Vol. II, p. 393.
[7] Biplabi jiban’er smriti, Jadugopal Mukhopadhyay, 1956, Calcutta, p. 411.
[8] Biplab’er padachinha, by Bhupendrakumar Datta, 1973, Calcutta (2nd edition), p. 222.
[9] Rabindra-rachanabali, Visvabharati, 2000, [RNT], Vol. 17, p. 378.
[10] RNT, op. cit., p. 422-3.
[11] New India, 12 May 1903.
[12] Letters of Morley to Minto, Vol. I (d/ 11May 1906), Vol. II (d/ 28 August 1907; 5 December 1907) in M.N. Das, India under Morley & Minto, Allen & Unwin, London, 1964.
[13] Political Trouble in India. A Confidential Report, by James Campbell Ker, Superintendent Government Printing, Calcutta, 1917; Oriental Publication, New Delhi, 1973, pp. 9-10.
[14] K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Sri Aurobindo: a Biography and a History, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry, Vol.1, March 1972 (3rd revised and enlarged edition), p. 594.
[15] Ibid., Vol. II, p. 684.
[16] Swami Vivekananda, Bhupendranath Datta, Navabharat Publishers, Calcutta, 1986 (2nd Edition), p. 88.
[17] Reminiscences by Motilal Roy in Anandabazar Patrika, special Jatindra Mukherjee supplement, 9 September, 1947.
[18] Sealy’s Report in Terrorism In Bengal, Vol. V, p. 64.
[19] Tegart’s Report on the Ramakrishna Mission, in Terrorism In Bengal, Vol. IV, p. 1366.
[20] Notes by Nalinikanta Kar, preserved at the Nehru Museum, New Delhi; published in Bagha Jatin, by Prithwindra Mukherjee, Dey’s Publishing, 1990 (1st Edition), p.100.
[21] Notes by Manindra Chakravarti, ibid, published in Sadhak biplabi Jatindranath, by Prithwindra Mukherjee, West Bengal State Book Board, 1990, pp. 372-373.
[22] [Vvv], pp.2 48-9.
[23] The Role of the Gadhar Party in the National Movement, by Gurdev Singh Deol, Sterling Publishers, Delhi, 1969, pp.54-55. Consult Sadhak biplabi Jatindranath, by Prithwindra Mukherjee, West Bengal State Book Board, 1990, p.452 : Chenchia’s statement.
[24] Jatindra Nath Mukherjee by M.N. Roy, Independent India, February 27, 1949; reprinted in Men I Met, Bombay, 1968.
[25] Amalendu Dasgupta in Anandabazar Patrika, Special Jatin Mukherjee supplement, 9 September, 1947.

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Workshop on “Relationship: Its Complications and Solutions in the Light of Sri Aurobindo, The Mother and Shrimat Anirvan”

workshop

Dear Friends and Well-wishers,

This is to inform you that Overman Foundation in collaboration with Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre Trust is organizing a workshop on “Relationship: Its Complications and Solutions in the Light of Sri Aurobindo, The Mother and Shrimat Anirvan” at 532 Block “M”, New Alipore, Kolkata 700053, on Saturday, 10th October 2015.

The said workshop would be conducted by Shri Subrata Sen, Secretary, Sri Aurobindo’s Action West Bengal Trust, Shri Partha Sarathi Bose (Executive Trustee, Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre Trust), Shri Gautam Banerjee (noted speaker and Aurobindonian scholar) and Shrimati Shrabasti Mazumdar. The workshop is meant for registered participants only and it shall commence at 11 a.m. and end at around 4 p.m.

Interested individuals may please register by contacting Shri Partha Sarathi Bose (Executive Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre Trust) at (0) 98310 40853 and admin@sriaurobindocentre.org or Shri Anurag Banerjee at (0) 98302 44192 and overmanfoundation@gmail.com. Please note that seats are limited and the last date of registration is 6 October 2015.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

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Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s Address Delivered at 125th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of the Mother at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata.

APJ Abdul Kalam

Dear Friends,

The late Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (15 October 1931—27 July 2015) requires no formal introduction. After graduating from St. Joseph’s College (Tiruchirappalli), he joined the Madras Institute of Technology to study aerospace engineering. Eventually he joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organization as a scientist. In 1969 he was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organization where he worked as the Project Director of India’s first Satellite Launch Vehicle. He was closely associated with India’s civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. His contribution towards the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology earned him the title of ‘Missile Man of India’. He had received honorary doctorates from forty universities. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan in 1981 and 1990 respectively and also bestowed upon him the highest civilian honour—the Bharat Ratna—in 1997. In 2002 he was elected the eleventh President of India and his term lasted from 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007. A prolific writer, his published works include India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium (1998), Wings of Fire: An Autobiography (1999), Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power Within India (2002), The Luminous Sparks (2004), Indomitable Spirit (2006), Inspiring Thoughts (2007) and Forge your Future: Candid, Forthright, Inspiring (2014) to name a few.

As our humble tribute to the great soul, we have published the text of an address Dr. Kalam had delivered on 27 February 2004 at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata, on the occasion of the Mother’s Birth Anniversary Celebrations, along with some of his photographs taken shortly before he collapsed while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management (Shillong) on 27 July 2015.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation

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I am indeed delighted to participate in the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of the Mother. My greetings to the organisers, distinguished guests and devotees. When I am in the midst of this gathering, I am reminded of certain events which took place in the life of the Mother. When she was between the age of 11 and 13 through a series of psychic and spiritual experiences she became aware of the existence of God and her possibility of uniting with Him. This thought, along with the practical methods of fulfilling this mission, was given to her during her body’s sleep by several teachers, some of whom she met afterwards on the physical plane. At that time she had no knowledge of the Indian philosophies and religions. But she would call the unknown force Krishna. She was aware that it was with him that her divine work was to continue. As soon as she saw Sri Aurobindo she recognised in him the well-known being whom she used to call Krishna and that was enough to explain why she was fully convinced that her place and work were near him in India. I am reminded of the famous words of the Mother. I quote:

“I belong to no nation, no civilisation, no society, no race, but to the Divine.”

“I obey no master, no ruler, no law, no social convention, but the Divine.”

Her spirit continues to be here and her words provide us the direction for religion graduating into spiritual force.

Now I would like to share with you some of my experiences after my visit to various religious institutions.

During the last 20 months, I have travelled to almost all the parts of the country. The message I have received from my extensive travels in the country is that most Indians, energetic and middle-aged, young and innocent,— they all look to religion for solace and safety. The religions are like exquisite gardens, places full of surpassing beauty and tranquility, like sacred groves filled with beautiful birds and their melodious song. I truly think that religions are beautiful gardens. But they are islands. They are enchanting islets, veritable oases for the soul and the spirit. But they are islands nevertheless. However, if we can connect all these islands with love and compassion, in a ‘garland project’ for the new millennium, we will have a prosperous India ahead of us, a billion people, through India millennium mission and even for our planet.

God has created the human being with a brain and a thinking faculty. He has commanded His creation that the faculty must be used with reasoning to reach His image. This is the mission of human life. Science is the best boon God has bestowed upon mankind. Science with reasoning becomes the capital of the society. In whatever field we work, be it science, technology, medicine, politics, policing, theology, religion or judiciary, we have to remain in the service of the common man whose well-being is central to all human knowledge and endeavour.

Every religion has a central component — spirituality that is driven by compassion and love. Rationality and logic are intrinsic to science and spirituality. A spiritual experience is the goal of a deeply religious person whereas a major discovery or an invention is the goal of a scientific mind. If both the aspects are unified, amalgamated in our own patterns, we can transcend to that level of thinking in which unity is a cohesive aspect. For this environment the two major components—Science and Spirituality,— have to interact. A Peace prayer can be the foundation for both.

“O Almighty, create thoughts and actions
in the minds of the people of the nation
So that they live united.

O Almighty, bless the people
To take a path of life with righteousness
as righteousness gives the strength of character.

Help all religious leaders of the country to
give strength to the people to combat the divisive forces.

Guide the people to develop an attitude to appreciate different
ideologies and transform enmity among individuals,
organisations and nations, into friendliness and harmony.

Embed the thought ‘Nation is bigger than the Individual’
in the minds of the leaders and people.

O God, bless the people to work with perseverance to
transform the country into a peaceful and prosperous nation
and promote world peace.”

I wish the 125th Birth Centenary celebrations of the Mother all success.

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