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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1 Comment

  1. Anurag Banerjee said,

    September 14, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had tweeted his tribute to Bagha Jatin on 10 September 2015. He wrote: “I salute Bagha Jatin on the centenary of his martyrdom. His courage & sacrifice for our Motherland will always be remembered.”


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