September 16, 2012

Sri Aurobindo has been gently set aside when country’s history is discussed

[The other jarring point in the book is the short shrift that Mishra gives to ‘radical’ freedom-fighter Aurobindo Ghose, who later metamorphosed into a spiritual leader and came to be known as Sri Aurobindo. He does acknowledge Aurobindo’s eminence, but only just, picking some of his sundry quotes like, “Bengalis were drunk with the wine of European civilisation”. It is not a remark that must have made him popular in his home State, and perhaps explains why he has been gently set aside when the country’s history is discussed. Apparently, for the author — like for the British — Sri Aurobindo was a mere footnote in the pages of history, while the likes of Rabindranath Tagore were the central figures.
It is true that Tagore influenced the country’s political philosophy immensely, but he had one ‘advantage’ which Sri Aurobindo lacked: A greater acceptability in the West following the Nobel Prize for literature that he won. Suddenly, he was an international figure and had a global platform to propagate his views. Still, it cannot be forgotten — and Mishra ought to have taken it into account — that Aurobindo’s contribution was not merely restricted to political awakening; he showed the path to ‘intellectual spiritualism’. That legacy still lives on in the Auroville Ashram in Puducherry. RAJESH SINGH  The alternative truth PIONEER Sunday Edition  Agenda  BOOKS  SATURDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2012]

[Autobiographical Notes_Vol-36 VOLUME 36: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SRI AUROBINDO NOTE ON THE TEXTS PART TWO: LETTERS OF HISTORICAL INTEREST […] Most of the letters included in Part Two of the present volume were written before 1927. Those that were written after that date are parts of sequences that began earlier, or deal with special subjects, such as Indian politics. […]
Letters and Telegrams to Political and Professional Associates, 1906 ­ 1926. In August 1906 Sri Aurobindo began work as principal of the Bengal National College and as an editorial writer for the daily newspaper Bande Mataram. In May 1908 he was arrested in connection with the Alipore Bomb Case. A year later he was released. In 1910 he settled in Pondicherry and cut off all direct connection with the freedom movement, though he continued to be regarded by the British government as a dangerous revolutionary. For a while he remained in indirect contact with the movement through Motilal Roy of Chandernagore.
To Bipin Chandra Pal. 1906. Bipin (also spelled "Bepin") Chandra Pal (1858 ­ 1932) was a nationalist speaker and writer. Sri Aurobindo apparently wrote this note to him in September or October 1906. At this time, Pal was editor-in-chief of the nationalist newspaper Bande Mataram and Sri Aurobindo was its chief writer. This note was put in as evidence in the Alipore Bomb Trial (1908 ­ 9). The original has been lost. The text is reproduced here from a "paperbook" or printed transcript of the documentary evidence. […]Page – 574
To K. R. Appadurai. 13 April 1916. Appadurai was the brother-in-law of the poet Subramania Bharati. Bharati was living as a refugee in French Pondicherry at the time this letter was written. The "Mr. K. V. R" to whom Sri Aurobindo refers was K. V. Rangaswami Iyengar, who sometimes helped him out financially. […] Page – 580
To Joseph Baptista. 5 January 1920. Joseph Baptista (1864 ­ 1930) was a barrister and nationalist politician who was associated with Bal Gangadhar Tilak. In 1919 a group of nationalists of Bombay who took their inspiration from Tilak decided to form a party and to bring out an English daily newspaper. They deputed Baptista to write to Sri Aurobindo and offer him the editorship of the paper. Sri Aurobindo wrote this letter in reply.
To Balkrishna Shivaram Moonje. B. S. Moonje (1872 ­ 1948) was a medical practitioner and political activist of Nagpur. When Sri Aurobindo knew him in 1907 ­ 8, Moonje was one of the leaders of the Nationalist or Extremist Party. (Later he helped to found the Hindu Mahasabha; see Sri Aurobindo's telegram to Moonje in Part Three, under "On the Cripps Proposal".) Sri Aurobindo stayed with Moonje when he visited Nagpur in January 1908. Twelve years later, Moonje and others invited Sri Aurobindo to preside over the forthcoming Nagpur session of the Indian National Congress. In letter [1] , dated 30 August 1920, Sri Aurobindo set forth his reasons for declining this honour. [2] In this telegram, date-stamped on arrival 19 September 1920, he reiterated his decision.
To Chittaranjan Das. 18 November 1922. A barrister of Calcutta who became famous for successfully defending Sri Aurobindo in the Alipore Bomb Case (1908 ­ 9), Chittaranjan Das (1870 ­ 1925) later entered politics and became the leader of the Swarajya Party, which advocated entering the government's legislative assemblies in order to "wreck them from within". Sri Aurobindo wrote this letter to Das on the same day that he wrote another to his brother Barin (see the first letter under "To Barindra Kumar Ghose and Others" in Section Two below).
To Shyamsundar Chakravarty. 12 March 1926. Shyamsundar Chakravarty (sometimes spelled Chakrabarti or Chakraborty) (1869 ­ 1932) was a nationalist writer and orator. When Sri Aurobindo was editor-in-chief of the nationalist newspaper Bande Mataram, Chakravarty was one of its main writers. Eighteen years later he became editor of the Bengalee, a moderate nationalist newspaper of Calcutta. At that time he wrote to Sri Aurobindo inviting him to send contributions. This letter is Sri Aurobindo's reply. The original manuscript is not available. The text is reproduced from an old typed copy.]

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