Sri Aurobindo in Calcutta and Chandernagore

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It is in this house where Sri Aurobindo usually resided.jpg

(Extract paragraph 4 from the Weekly Report, dated 17th April 1910, from the Inspector-General of Police, Bengal, to the Director, Criminal Intelligence:)

4. Arabindo Ghose's disappearance —
         In regard to the reported arrival of Arabindo Ghose at Pondicherry, mentioned in my last week's report, further enquiries made in Calcutta indicate that he probably left by the S.S. Dupleix of the Messageries Maritimes Company, on the 1st of April. The Dupleix is the only passenger boat from Calcutta which calls regularly at Pondicherry. On the 31st of March the Special Branch Officer of the Calcutta Police who supervises arrivals and departures of Indians by sea reported that two native passengers who gave their names as J.N. Mitter of Uluberia, and Bankim Chandra Bhowmik of Nilphamari, Rungpore, had reserved berths on this steamer for Pondicherry. The Health Officer's inspection for this ship was held on the evening of the 31st. The Calcutta Police officer who was present at the Health Officer's inspection reported that neither of these two passengers had turned up for inspection. On the 4th instant a letter was received from the Messageries Maritimes Company to the effect that these two persons had actually sailed on the Dupleix for Pondicherry, but that as they had boarded the steamer at the last moment, they had not been seen by the Calcutta Police officer. On enquiry it was ascertained from the Health Officer that at about 9-30 p.m. on the night of the 31st ultimo, 2 Bengalis giving their names as J.N. Mitter and Bankim Chandra Bhowmik came to his private residence and requested to be furnished with health certificates to enable them to sail on the Dupleix. The Health Officer granted them the necessary certificates. On a photograph of Arabindo Ghose being shown to the Health Officer, he stated that this was probably the individual who gave his name as Jotindra Nath Mitter. The Health Officer further stated that he was struck by the fluent English which this gentleman spoke.
         Enquiries at Uluberia show that there is such a person as J.N. Mitter residing there, but he is at present at home and has never left by sea. There seems little doubt that the J.N. Mitter who embarked on the S.S. Dupleix was Arabindo Ghose.
         It is believed that the second person Bankim Chandra Bhowmik, may be Nolini Kanto Sen Gupta, of Nilphamari, an acquitted accused in the Alipore Bomb case who was known to be an intimate friend and admirer of Arabindo Ghose, and who disappeared about the same time as Arabindo. Unfortunately no photograph of this young man is on record, but the description furnished by the Health Officer of the man calling himself Bankim Chandra Bhowmik in many respects agrees with that of Nolini.
         An officer of the Special Department received information that Arabindo Ghose had decided to proceed to Berlin to throw in his lot with the Indian Revolutionary party there — the party which publishes and sends out the Talvar. He intended to start from Bombay in the Austrian Lloyds steamer leaving on the 1st of April, but finding he could not catch that steamer he decided to leave Calcutta for Pondicherry in the Messageries Maritimes boat.”[1]

(Sri Aurobindo letter to Motilal Roy, May 1920:) “The sangha at Chandernagore is a thing that has grown up with my power behind and yours at the centre and it has assumed a body and temperament which is the result of this origination. But there are others, people of strong personality and full of shakti, who receive the spiritual force direct from me and are made themselves to be central spirits and direct radiators of the shakti, and for these to subordinate themselves to the existing body and temperament would not be easy for any and inmost cases impossible, — such a subordination would not have grown out of themselves and would only be imposed by nigraha, a thing contrary to the prakriti, — and it would besides clog up the natural action of the power in them. And on the other hand to bring them in as coordinated central figures into the existing form would not be feasible, for it would mean a disturbing change and new fermentation of forces in the work that is already being well done on established lines. It would mean, even if at all successful, a sort of conducting by spiritual committee and that is not the line on which the Shakti has proceeded at Chandernagore. The more perfect coordination of all who are at work can only come, as far as I can see, after I myself go to Bengal and can act by my direct presence.”[2]

  1. “Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo: From Chandernagore to Pondicherry”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research (page taken offline)
  2. Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical Interest, p.239

See also

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