Amarendranath Chatterji

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(A. B. Purani, The Life of Sri Aurobindo:) “After returning to Calcutta from western India [in 1908], Sri Aurobindo took a room at 23, Scotts Lane. It was here that he met Amarendranath (Amar) Chatterji, afterwards a well-known revolutionary leader. The interview for giving Amar the initiation was arranged by Upendranath Banerjee. Amar wrote in 1950 about this first meeting in the following terms:

“I was not merely enchanted by my first meeting with him, – I became powerful. I was given personal proof that Diksha [initiation] can be given merely by Darshan and does not require either touch or Mantra.”[1]

The two sat alone together. Sri Aurobindo began:

“I suppose Upen has talked to you about the work that is to be done for the country. Have you heard everything? I hope there is no doubt or vacillation or fear in your mind about it.
(Amar:) Will you not say something yourself? Is what Upen has said the last word?
(smiling) The last word is fearlessly taking the oath to serve the Motherland. If we want to free the country we have to conquer the fear of death.
My fear comes from another quarter. I feel at present that I am not worthy of such a great mission. Is there any means of attaining fitness?
Surrender yourself to God and in the name of the Mother go ahead with the service of India. That is my Diksha to you.”[2]

According to Amar, Sri Aurobindo's Diksha moulded his life. He was given the work of collecting money for the maintenance of the young men of the party.”[3]

(A. B. Purani:) “On 30 May 1909 Sri Aurobindo delivered the historic Uttarpara speech. It was Amar who went to Calcutta from Uttarpara to fetch Sri Aurobindo to speak to the Dharma Rakshini Sabha. … Amar went to the Sanjivani office to fetch Sri Aurobindo. He found him absolutely quiet, as if in meditation, so he did not speak long with him. They went by train to Uttarpara. Many of the audience also went by the same train. ”[4]

(A. B. Purani:) “There were a number of notable visitors [to the Ashram] during 1920 and thereabouts. … Amar came in the summer of 1920 or 1921.
         Amar was now a wanted man. For some time he had been travelling incognito all over India as the leader of a group of sannyasis. His assumed name was Swami Kevalananda. When he came to 41, Rue Francois Martin, Hrishikesh (later known as Vishuddhananda Giri), Motilal Roy, Rameshwar De, Natwardas, Amrita, Barin, Datta (Miss Hodgson) and the Mother, whom Amar did not meet, were staying in the house. Amar had long matted hair and carried iron tongs and a staff. He was unrecognisable. After some time he took Natwardas aside and revealed his identity to him in a low tone. When Motilal learned that it was Amar he rushed up to him, embraced him and took him upstairs where Sri Aurobindo was staying. Precautions had to be taken so that the other sadhus would not find out what was going on.
         In the revolutionary days Sri Aurobindo had given Amar the name ‘Gabriel’. Motilal told Sri Aurobindo that Gabriel had come. “Good Heavens!” was Sri Aurobindo's response. All of them sat down to talk. For some time Sri Aurobindo had been receiving reports from Tanjore, Tiruchirapalli and other places that some Panjabi sadhus had been preaching his ideas and philosophy. He had been at a loss to know who these Panjabi sadhus could be. Now the question was solved. The sadhus were put up in a Dharamsala and that night Amar dined in Sri Aurobindo's house. Sri Aurobindo told Amar not to resume his revolutionary activities. He and his companions departed the next morning.”[5]

  1. Amarendranath Chatterji, “Sri Aurobinder Sange Sakshatkar”, Galpa Bharati, Vol. VI, No. 7, p.816
  2. Amarendranath Chatterji, “Sri Aurobindo Mahaprayane”, Prabartak, Vol. XXXV, No. 9, p.363
  3. A. B. Purani, The Life of Sri Aurobindo, p.104
  4. Ibid., p.116
  5. Ibid., p.175

See also