[The first edition of The Descent of the Blue presented no dramatis personae.]
Act I, Scene 1
(The Abode of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. Mind has not been born there. The One without a second and the Mother of the Trinity are rapt in trance in the holy Fire. The teeming Gods go round the Infinite and the Mother of the Golden All, singing anthems to them.)
FIRST BAND OF THE GODS: The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant lid; that do thou remove, O Fosterer, for the law of the Truth, for sight.1
From the non-being to true being,
From the darkness to the Light,
From death to Immortality.
OM. Peace! Peace! Peace!
So be it.2
(Their creation has compelled the primaeval parents to descend upon earth for the Divine Play and thus to terminate the earth’s ceaseless pangs.)
BRAHMA: It is I who create. None save I is the Infinite’s creative Power. Therefore, no equal have I.
VISHNU: It is I who uphold. I am His preserving Power. Hence, matchless am I.
SIVA: I am Rudra. I am His force of Destruction. Boundless also is my Compassion for the doleful earth. It is I who lead the earth and her children towards a new creation. Therefore, unique am I.
BRAHMA: Earth sows, Heaven reaps. Our supremacy amongst each other can be proved only on the earth, and there alone shall we be able to find which of our devotees are truly superior.
VISHNU: I am one with you in that.
SIVA: Needless to say, I shall accompany you. We are but the triune limbs of the Supreme. We exist simply because we must needs help Him in his Divine Play.
BRAHMA: Has the earth invoked our presence there? Without their mounting cry how can we descend?
VISHNU: I shall sow the seed of yearning in the heart of the mortals. With a heart full of devotion they will pray to us.
SIVA: Remember, the Asura with his hosts will not remain asleep. How can the earth hail our advent, she who has been under the octopus tentacles of the brooding Giant of Evil?
BRAHMA: We are fully aware. Mahadeva, you will be our Captain! It is you who will ruthlessly destroy the Adversary and found our victory on the aspiring soil.
(Behind the curtain a tremendous call and yearning.)
O, save the earth! O, save the creation! Do flood the earth with the sanctified waters of the Truth and cast the Falsehood down into the Chasm of Nothingness. Set the earth-life free from the roaring den of Death. Brahma, Vishnu, Siva! Deign to alight on this orphan earth where Ignorance reigns supreme. We yearn to see your divine Play on the sorrowful dust.
OM anandamayi chaitanyamayi satyamayi parame
OM anandamayi chaitanyamayi satyamayi parame
OM anandamayi chaitanyamayi satyamayi parame
THE MOTHER: Alas, the earth is inundated with ceaseless sorrows and pangs. Her throbbing heart compels my descent. I am the Mother. Who but I can save my children?
THE INFINITE: I, too, on earth shall descend. My advent the East shall acclaim, thine the West.
THE MOTHER: My Grace shall give Immortality to earth. With me will I carry the flame of fire-pure Transformation.
THE INFINITE: I will found thy supernal Kingdom on the neglected earth.
Act I, Scene 2
(The residence of Dr. K.D. Ghosh. A smiling garden in front. Swarnalata, his wife, plucks flowers and sings.)
What shall we mortals do? O, ours to meet
With worshipping brow the flowers of His feet!
(Enter K.D. Ghosh.)
KRISHNA DHAN: I cannot believe my ears! You sing surprisingly sweetly. They say you are “the Rose of Rangpur” and I know you to be a matchless woman. But I have never heard you sing.
SWARNALATA: Truth to tell, I am not inclined to music; at least, music is not my forte.
K.D.: Who was it singing then like an angel?
SWARNA: Ah! Don’t you know that alone anybody can sing?
K.D.: Not always. The singer in me, if any, wouldn’t sing, even if alone.
SWARNA: I believe you, too, would sing if you dreamt my dream.
K.D.: Dream! Do open your heart. Am I not your husband?
SWARNA: True, you are my confidant. But it’s not the proper moment to give away the secret. Let me see if my dream comes true.
K.D.: Swarna, you too! — You appear to be my eighth wonder.
SWARNA: That is a long story. It would be a Mahabharata if I told it. To be brief, I had a toy Krishna when I was a child. As I grew up, I was wont to pray to Sri Krishna in the evening when the earth sank into silence. My sole desire was to be the mother of the embodied Divine.
K.D.: We are too human for a divine dream. Kausalya, Devaki, Sachi — was there anyone on earth who suffered more than they? What a fanciful desire, indeed! What a lofty dream!
SWARNA: But you have not yet heard me out.
K.D.: Do say your say. I will keep it to myself. I give you my word of honour.
SWARNA: But do you know yourself? You are an atheist.
K.D.: Atheist! My father was a Hindu, so am I. I am a worshipper of Kali. My father’s mother is at Varanashi. A devotee of Lord Siva is she. Am I an atheist because I move in European society?
SWARNA: Let it be. My dream demands your heart’s encouraging, your true sympathy!
K.D.: Swarna, I empty my heart to you.
SWARNA: My prayer shall bear fruit before long. He, the Light of the world, is within me. (A bashful smile.)
K.D.: Is He? (A broad smile.)
(Enter a poor Muslim in hot haste.)
ABDUL: Babu, Babu! Cholera has broken out in our village. I am very, very poor. Two of my sons were snatched away to the other world last week. My youngest, my dearest, my last son threatens to go. I pray, do call at my hut. Your very presence shall cure my dying son.
K.D.: I shall try my best. My life on earth has no other aim but to protect the weak and help the needy. Those who wallow in wealth can call in eminent doctors. But my hand and bottle are for those whose friend is poverty itself. My work is to have money from the haves and contribute to the funds of the have-nots.
ABDUL: Babu, Babu! I can pay the flood of your sympathy only with my tears of delight.
(Exeunt K.D. Ghosh and Abdul.)
SWARNA (with tears streaming): Alas! Him to call an atheist whose heart is a surge of sympathy — the living image of philanthropy? O Merciful! O Light of the blind! Your pardon, your high pardon my sharp tongue desires.
Act I, Scene 3
(The Himalayas. A galaxy of Kuthumis. The ingress and egress of the aspirant souls.)
FIRST KUTHUMI: The largesse of the mind is almost come to an end. Mind is the fount of problems. A permanent solution is not to be had there.
SECOND KUTHUMI: True, mind is unable to solve all problems. Dangers weave their meshes around the human souls. But who or what can make the impossible possible?
THIRD KUTHUMI: I know, I know. It is the pinnacled light of the Supermind which is utterly empty of all problems. It is a fount of harmony, of unity-in-multiplicity.
FOURTH KUTHUMI: The endless urge of the Supermind is to descend upon the earth and change her consciousness.
FIRST KUTHUMI: To serve the purpose God’s human birth is the supreme need.
SECOND KUTHUMI: Many a time He has descended on the earth across the centuries. But earth seems to have made no satisfactory progress. He comes and goes at His chosen times. Each and every time His Mission appears to be thwarted by the wilful ignorance of the earth. The wide hunger of Time devours all the spiritual wealth that He brings down. A ruthless oblivion lords it over the mortals.
THIRD KUTHUMI: It is victory and not defeat that is the first and last word of God. Soon the Infinite shall alight on the throbbing heart of the soil.
FOURTH KUTHUMI: When, why, how, where?
THIRD KUTHUMI: It is in India, it is in the land of the sages and the spiritual giants that He will see the light of day.
SECOND KUTHUMI: And what is expected from us?
FIRST KUTHUMI: Ours is to be a flower-offering to Him, to His Mission.
Act I, Scene 4
(The residence of Rishi Rajnarayan Bose. He adores the formless Aspect of the Brahman.)
RISHI: Swarna, Swarna! Take your seat right beside me. Swarna, I had a dream last night. To me that dream seems more vivid than reality itself.
SWARNA: Father, may I have a share?
RISHI: Certainly, my dream concerns you much. You all know that I have been a votary of the Nirakara Brahman for a couple of decades. But now no more. I saw Him… It is beyond my power of expression. My eyes swam in light and delight.
SWARNA: Who was it, Father?
RISHI: The Light of the world, Sri Krishna.
RISHI: My daughter, in you, in you and nowhere else. Since the small hours of the morning I have been a torrent of ecstasy. I have also seen the Gods bow down on their knees before Him, your coming son. Swarna, you are my matchless jewel.
SWARNA: Father, you are my greatest pride. You stand very high in the estimation of all. You are the polestar of the Nation. Your voice has rung out the inmost voice of India. Now it is my hope that God will make me worthy of your prophetic vision.
Act I, Scene 5
(The abode of Manomohan Ghosh, a Barrister and close friend of Dr. K.D. Ghosh. Behind the screen.)
The Birth of the Infinite
(5 a.m., 15 August 1872)
The golden dawn of the cosmos rapt in trance,
Awaits the birth of the All.
The seven worlds’ bliss converges in her heart
With august and sun-vast call.
Slowly the Peak unmeasured of rapture-fire
Climbs down to our human cry.
His diamond vision’s deathless Will leans low
Our mortal yearnings nigh.
Suddenly life’s giant somnolence is stirred.
His all-embracing Wing
Declares, “I come to end your eyeless fear:
To me alone now cling!
“No fleeting dreams your teeming births do trace:
Now own my infinite bloom.
In me the flood of Immortality!
Nowhere shall be your doom.”
MANOMOHAN: My joy knows no bounds that your son takes birth in my house.
K.D.: No doubt, it will be a matter of great rejoicing if the dream of my wife comes true.
MANOMOHAN: How does her dream run?
K.D.: Friend, to me it is just a dream, a chimera’s mist, but to her it is a blazing truth.
MANOMOHAN: Krishnadhan, I wish to hear her dream and not your comment on it.
K.D.: Well, during her confinement she dreamt that it was Sri Krishna who would take human birth through her.
MANOMOHAN: I see nothing wrong in her dream. You are a pessimist from head to foot. Come, let us hurry to the child. Who knows, we may find the Marvellous One?
Act I, Scene 6
(The child is in the lap of his mother. She is fondling him.)
SWARNA: My child, are you the Lord of my dream? I have seen you time and again. Today my dream has donned the cloak of reality.
(Enter her father, Rishi Rajnarayan)
RISHI: Swarna, I have come to see my Beloved, the Lord of the Gods.
SWARNA: There you are, Father. (Swarnalata places the child on her father’s lap.)
RISHI (with a broad smile he lifts the child onto his head.): Ah! It is Aurobindo, it is a lotus, still in the bud.
SWARNA: Father, I see no wonder in his face. In my dream he was the Wonder of Wonders.
RISHI: My daughter, do not look at him with your earthly eyes. To me he remains the same as in my vision when I saw him as the Light of the world. Never forget that God is the Thaumaturge of thaumaturges. Therefore, his appearance has put a mask on his real nature. Swarna, what a pride now tingles through my blood! My heart is swayed by a riot of joy. Krishna, Krishna is come. Dark clouds of doubt must not blight your vision. He is our Aurobindo. He is the Divine Lotus. Petal by petal He will bloom to a perfect perfection.
Act I, Scene 7
(The parlour of Dr. K.D. Ghosh. Evening sets in.)
K.D.: I have a fine proposal, Swarna. I would like to call in an Englishman.
SWARNA: What for?
K.D.: To tutor Benoy and Mano in English.
SWARNA: And then…
K.D.: For Auro an English governess.
SWARNA: If my approval has any value then you have it hundred per cent.
K.D.: Something more…
SWARNA: What is it?
K.D.: Starting from to-day, indeed from to-day on, Bengali is not to be spoken in our house. English, only English. How I wish my children could speak in English, write in English, think in English and even dream in English! They must be Englishmen to the core. I shall soon send them to Darjeeling and place them in a convent school. A few years later, I shall take them to London. My sons must be among the brightest jewels in India’s crown.
SWARNA: An exquisite plan, indeed. But before that why not say that you want to send me to the land of Death? How dare you think that I can endure the absence of my sweet children? I will go mad.
K.D.: I knew it well that the mother in your heart is too strong. You are a typical Bengali woman. You want your sons to be helpless, mere babes in arms. Your pale, pathetic look pierces my heart. Swarna, your skin must not lose its colour because of worry. Do not be upset.
SWARNA: I am sorry. It is not in me to cross you. But you have given me a great shock.
Act I, Scene 8
(Darjeeling. Benoy, Mano and Auro are returning from school. On the way they happen to meet a sannyasin. Many people have gathered about him. He smokes profusely.)
A VILLAGER: Sadhuji, please give me some religious knowledge.
SANNYASIN: All I can give you is a bit of advice. I am afraid, although my advice will reach your sceptic ears, you will never apply it in the practical field. (Some of the villagers burst into a peal of laughter.) My advice, you know? The world is an illusion. Have no link with it!
A MERCHANT: Be pleased to read my palm.
SANNYASIN: You, you wallow in the pleasure of wealth. Am I right?
MERCHANT: Absolutely perfect. But, Sadhuji, I have not seen the face of peace even for a fleeting second.
SANNYASIN: Ah, peace! Peace is not to take birth here in this world. It is the offspring of another world. This world is made of din, dust and dizzying demonstrations.
MANOMOHAN: Please run your eyes over my palm, and drop a few hints about my years to come.
SANNYASIN: Ah, a poet, a fine poet. This is what your future says.
MANOMOHAN (pointing at Auro): And how does the fate of my younger brother run?
SANNYASIN (looking ahead he meets Aurobindo’s curious eyes; but in the twinkling of an eye Auro, frightened, sprints off.): His future is at his command.
Now you are afraid of me, but a day will come when you will become a great Yogi.1
MANOMOHAN: Only a few days back Auro composed a beautiful poem on Kanchanjunga. The teachers have appreciated it greatly.
SANNYASIN: No wonder, he is not a common boy. He will be a great Yogi who has to play a great part on the world scene! Brahman! Brahman! O Lord of my breath, Thou art verily Thy unfathomable mystery.
- DB 9,12. Sri Aurobindo’s translation.↩
Act II, Scene 1
(London. K.D. Ghosh, with his wife, sons and daughter, arrives at the residence of Mr. Drewett. Benoy, Mano and Auro will live there.)
- DREWETT: Good morning, Mr. Ghosh. Come, come, my young friends! (Looking at Mrs. Drewett)You were praying for a child. Now God brings you three in a row.
MRS. DREWETT: Thank God. Mr. Ghosh, I shall love them as if they were my own children. (Caressing Auro) I shall teach you English myself. I will not let you go to school at this tender age.
- DREWETT: I shall teach you Latin. I shall help you in every way. My young friend, I can brook no delay. Come, let us start our Latin lesson. Just repeat what I say.
Father – Pater
Mother – Mater
Brother – Frater
Sister – Soror
Son – Filius
Daughter – Filia
And now please repeat all the words by yourself.
(Auro’s answers are perfect.)
Wonderful, your memory is wonderful.
AURO: Sir, what is the Latin for “God” and “Goddess”?
- DREWETT: Well, Deusand Dea.What made you ask this, my boy?
Act II, Scene 2
(St. Paul’s School)
HEADMASTER: A brilliant lad, this Indian! He is by far and away the best student in almost every subject. He is at home in English, French, Latin and Greek.
THE ENGLISH TEACHER: Our boys are hopelessly beaten by Aurobindo, an Indian. I have never come across such a student.
HEADMASTER: I am proud of him, for he belongs to our school. And he is so loving, so polite.
Act II, Scene 3
(Benoy, Mano and Auro in straitened circumstances.)
BENOY: At last I have secured a job in a club. Our starvation may end here.
MANO: Fortune dawns on us at last. But what is wrong with father? Why has he stopped sending money?
BENOY: My feeling is that father is not keeping in sound health. Alas, the moment I think of Auro my heart aches. He is only just out of his childhood.
MANO: Poor Auro, he has to learn the meaning of poverty at the very start of his life.
BENOY: For the last three months we have been unable to have a full meal. God knows how many days more we are to go on thus.
MANO: My poems bring in cheers, praises, appreciations but not a single penny. Such is my fate!
AURO: Here, a hundred shillings!
(Benoy and Mano jump up with astonishment.)
BENOY AND MANO: Where on earth did you get it?
AURO: An article of mine has been published, and they have given me this. Now, I would like to tell you something. You two always think of my suffering and poverty. But why do you forget the truth that there are millions on the earth whose condition is infinitely worse than ours? Our present condition makes us better able to fathom their sorrow. With a cheerful face let us brave the future.
Act II, Scene 4
(Home. Mano reads out to Benoy, his eldest brother, a poem composed by himself.)
Augustest! Dearest! whom no thought can trace,
Name murmuring out of birth’s infinity,
Mother! Like Heaven’s great face is thy sweet face,
Stupendous with the mystery of me.
AURO: There is a letter from father. He gives a brief account of the atrocities of British rule in India. He has also sent a few cuttings from the Bengalee.
(Mano snatches away the letter and begins to read it aloud.)
AURO: We must pay the British back in their own coin.
MANO: Yes, by all means.
BENOY: What are you up to?
AURO: Freedom, freedom of India by hook or by crook. We must dedicate ourselves to set India at large. Almost all the civilised nations on the earth are free. Utterly meaningless will be our lives if we fail to make our Motherland free.
Act II, Scene 5
(At Cambridge. The Principal had sent for Aurobindo. Aurobindo was very bashful. It was not in his nature to come to the fore. Enter Aurobindo.)
AUROBINDO: Good morning, Sir.
PRINCIPAL: Ah, at last you have come. Better late than never. I have sent for you three times.
AUROBINDO: Sorry, Sir, please excuse me.
PRINCIPAL: My dear boy, nothing wrong with you, I suppose? Now, I come to the point: your essay on Milton. I have never seen such a wonderful piece by an undergrad since I came over here. You have headed the list.
AUROBINDO (bashfully smiling): Thank you, Sir, it is so kind of you. If there was any inspiration, it must have been from the great subject of the essay himself.
Act II, Scene 6
(Indian Majlis. Aurobindo and a dozen Indian students.)
AUROBINDO: The British must no longer lord it over India. Come, let us mobilise ourselves to uproot their rule from the soil of our Motherland.
FIRST MEMBER: I have crossed seven seas and thirteen rivers just to appear in the I.C.S. If I listen to you I shall soon run into difficulties with the authorities, and, worse still, my life may be ruined.
AUROBINDO: I, too, shall sit for the I.C.S. But I shan’t serve the British Government.
SECOND MEMBER: To be sure, the freedom of India can never be won by us, for we are unimaginably weak. And if not, show us the way.
AUROBINDO: At the very outset we must make the people of India feel the unavoidable necessity of being a free country.
THIRD MEMBER: You mean revolution? Be sure, I affiliate myself with no such thing! You may call me a poltroon, if you like. I am not at all prepared to risk my life. (Places his hands on his chest.) It is the only one I have.
FOURTH MEMBER: I am absolutely at one with you. Who does not know the supreme truth that Non-violence is the greatest of all virtues? Circumstances will lead our dear Mother India to freedom if so is the Will of God. We are not to sacrifice our valuable lives, and again we are not to commit the ghastly sin of putting an end to English lives.
AUROBINDO (after heaving a sigh): Mine is a road absolutely different from yours. God guides my life to another goal.
FIFTH MEMBER: Where do you get so much inspiration from?
AUROBINDO: I do not really know. Just last night I had a terrible dream. I saw a demon drinking the blood from the very breast of an old woman. We all went in hot haste to her rescue. To our joy we saved her life. But some of us were removed to the other world by that demon. I was just pondering who that woman was. Soon I heard a voice, so vivid, so pathetic! “I am your Bharatmata.” And there ends my dream. From to-day the sole aim of my life is to make India as free as a bird in the sky.
SIXTH MEMBER: There is a secret society here at Cambridge named “Lotus and Dagger.” Would you like to be a member of it?
AUROBINDO: Certainly, most gladly. With all my heart I shall serve the society.
SIXTH MEMBER: Then one day I shall take you there.
AUROBINDO: Thanks in advance, dear friend. Let that day come soon!
Act II, Scene 7
(The momentous year 1893. Swami Vivekananda goes to America with the message of India. Aurobindo returns to India to make her free. The residence of the Gaekwar of Baroda at London. Enter James Cotton and Aurobindo.)
JAMES COTTON: Good morning, Sir. Here is my young friend Mr. Ghosh. A brilliant student from Cambridge.
AUROBINDO: Good morning, Sir.
GAEKWAR: Good morning. I have heard much about you from Mr. Cotton. I would be highly pleased if you accompanied me to India. I am sure you will stand very high in the estimation of our countrymen.
AUROBINDO: Thank you, Sir. I was just waiting for an opportunity to go to India, my Motherland.
Act II, Scene 8
(Aurobindo is asleep. It is far into the night. It is the eve of his departure. Enter Bharatmata. Hair dishevelled, face overwhelmed with sorrow, old sari with many holes.)
BHARATMATA: My son, I am come at last. India demands your express arrival. For you will awake the slumbering nation. Darkness has begun to thicken in front of me. It will serve no use to lengthen my story by fruitless emotional gestures. Make me free, make me free, my son.
AUROBINDO: Mother, I offer my heart and soul to abide by your high command. No more shall you utter the wail of misery. I shall turn the wind of Swadesh into a gigantic tornado.
BHARATMATA: I am so happy, I am so happy, my son, for your face shows a thunder-willed determination.
(Enter the presiding deity of Britain.)
DEITY: My son, I have brought you up for the last fourteen years with kindly love and affection. Have I no claim?
AUROBINDO: Certainly, you do have. But our India must have freedom to save all humanity from peril. In the years to come, India and Britain will cherish a unique amity. No futile wrangling — the flood of peace shall inundate both countries.
DEITY: My sole request to you is that you will not do away with my language and literature. Nothing more, nothing less I ask of you.
AUROBINDO: To you I am immensely indebted. My pen shall ever serve your language and thus I shall as well serve you.
(Enter the World-Mother on tip-toe. She looks intently into his face.)
MOTHER: Do you recognise me?
AUROBINDO: I have seen you time and again in the world of dream. But shall we ever meet in the physical world?
MOTHER: Why not, why not? At the divine hour I shall go and stand beside you in India. Down to earth we shall carry our highest Truth. You and I shall be the harbingers of a new humanity. I know, but you do not yet know that you are the new Sri Krishna of India. You are my Lord.
Act III, Scene 1
(Khulna. A religious mendicant sings while passing by the residence of Dr. K.D. Ghosh.)
Mother, Mother, Mother Kali!
Knowledge of earth is strange to me.
I know not how to sing of Thee.
My feeble mind is a fruitless tree.
Thine Eyes are fire, Thy Heart is love.
My bosom pines to be thy dove.
K.D.: Ah, what moving and melting music! Mother Kali to my rescue! Who else can cool my racking pain? Worried thoughts about my son Auro are eating into my heart.
(Enter a messenger with a telegram)
MESSENGER: Sir, a wire for you.
K.D.: At last! Maybe it’s from Auro.
(On opening the message he falls to the ground. His soul turns the keen vibration of its pain to an inner music.)
My Auro! Auro! All world-pain in flood
Within my finite breast.
My pride, my country’s pride, O earth’s hope-noon,
The all-transforming Crest!
Alas! To feed my longings high, no more
Shall I see my Auro, my son.
The sombre night envelops my mortal sheath.
To-day my heart is undone.
Now cruel fate has torn my vision’s Rose.
Auro, I shut my eyes
To see your golden face, to be with you
In the blue-white climbing skies.
(K.D.Ghosh had almost intuitive high hopes that his Auro was to brighten the face of the mother country. The ship which was to carry Auro sank on the way. But Auro boarded a second ship. On the assumption that his son must have perished with the lost ship his father died of a broken heart.)
Act III, Scene 2
(Deoghar. The abode of Rishi Rajnarayan Bose. The Rishi is chanting a Vedic hymn.)
THE RISHI: I set in front Fire, the messenger, and speak to the carrier of the offerings; may he bring to their session here the gods.1
(Enter Auro and his maternal uncle Jogendra.)
JOGENDRA: Father, look, here is Auro.
(The Rishi springs to his feet and hugs Auro warmly to his breast before the grandson can bend his head down. The Rishi knew well that his Auro was no ordinary human being but Sri Krishna in human form. A deep silence seems to vibrate with their hearts’ exchanges.)
THE RISHI: Jogen, call Swarna quick. Where is she? Swarna, Swarna! (Half-choked in joy he calls out to his daughter at the top of his voice.) Auro, my child, do you find your country, your Motherland, familiar?
AURO: Dadu, I’m afraid I can recall nothing that I had seen and heard before I left India. Things now appear to be refreshing, inspiring, enlightening. As I stepped on India’s soil, at Apollo Bunder, Bombay, I felt drowned as if in a sea of peace.
THE RISHI: Oh, it’s significant, deeply significant. It is a signal. Mother India wants you to be her own, for her work, for her soul’s work. It was her soul’s embrace to her chosen child.
(Enter Swarnalata with two of her women friends.)
SWARNA (after scanning Auro’s face for a few seconds): No, Father, not at all. This youth doesn’t take after my child Auro. In England I left him quite young on earth. How could he grow such a big moustache! My son can never grow so big. No, you can never be my son. He had more grace in his face. Impossible, impossible. Father, I’m not such a fool as you take me to be. Oh, now, now!
(Exit Swarnalata in utter delusion. A chorus of laughter by Jogendra and the two women. Silent, amazed, Auro looks on.)
THE RISHI: Auro, your mother is off her head and so am I. Like father like daughter.
AURO: If my mother is queer in her brain then I, too… There’s no other possibility.
SWARNA: I remember well that my Auro had a cut on one of his fingers. Let me see if you have the mark.
AURO (shooting a glance half-afraid at his mother’s face and showing his finger): Here it is, mother, here’s the mark.
SWARNA: My Auro, my Auro! You are my son Auro. Father, he is my son Auro. Truly, he is the Krishna of my dream. (Overwhelmed with joy she places her right palm on her son’s devoted head.) Now I am more than right that you are my son Auro.
AURO: Dadu, goodness gracious! At last my mother has to say, “Eureka, Eureka!”
- DB 19,2. Sri Aurobindo’s translation.↩
Act III, Scene 3
(Baroda. Aurobindo’s own chamber. He is rapt in his studies. His room is a treasure-house of the Goddess of Learning. Suddenly he closes his book.)
AURO: I simply don’t know how man can go on doing anything against his inner preference for long. My nature revolts at the Administrative Service. The work I am doing is not at all congenial to me. I shall ask the Gaekwar to shift me to his College.
(Enter a peon and hands Aurobindo a letter.)
PEON: Sir, His Highness the Gaekwar requests the favour of your company at lunch and he seeks for your advice to settle a serious matter.
AURO: I see. Thank you.
(Enter Dinendra Kumar Roy.)
AURO: Dinen Babu, His Highness has asked me to lunch. So I have to miss your company to-day.
DINENDRA: It is so kind of the Gaekwar. But isn’t it time for you to be there?
AURO (looking at his watch): Yes, it is. I’m off.
Act III, Scene 4
(Baroda. Aurobindo’s room. Absorbed in studies. Enter Dinendra Kumar.)
DINENDRA: A telegram for you.
AUROBINDO (after reading it): Ramesh Babu — Ramesh Chandra Dutta — arrives to-morrow from Bengal. We must make all necessary arrangements for him.
DINENDRA: Keshta! Keshta!
KESHTA: Babu, Babu.
DINENDRA: To-morrow a very, very great man comes from Bengal. So your cooking must be especially fine.
KESHTA: Easily done, Sir. But one thing. We have run short of spices and ghee.
DINENDRA (handing the servant a five-rupee note): Buy spices and ghee from the market, and don’t forget to get potatoes, cauliflowers and green mangoes.
Act III, Scene 5
(Baroda College. Aurobindo is now Professor of English. He declares a prize…)
AUROBINDO: I declare a prize in an Essay-cum-Debate Competition on “Japan and the Japanese.”
(K.M. Munshi, a student, stands up.)
MUNSHI: Sir, how can nationalism be developed?1
AUROBINDO (pointing to a wall-map of India): Look at that map. Learn to find in it the portrait of Bharatmata. The cities, mountains, rivers and forests are the materials which go to make up Her body. The people inhabiting the country are the cells which go to make up Her living tissues. Our literature is Her memory and speech. The spirit of Her culture is Her soul. The happiness and freedom of Her children is Her salvation. Behold Bharat as a living Mother, meditate upon Her and worship Her in the nine-fold way of bhakti.
MUNSHI: Sir, how can I meditate upon the Mother?
AUROBINDO: Just go through the works of Swami Vivekananda, and you will be able to meditate upon the Mother.
- DB 22,4. From here to the end of the scene the speeches are quotations from K.M. Munshi’s memoirs.↩
Act III, Scene 6
(Lunch. Aurobindo, Ramesh Dutta and Dinendra Kumar. Keshta serves them.)
RAMESH: Mr. Ghosh, does your cook serve you with such dishes daily?
AUROBINDO: No, no. These are special dishes for you.
DINENDRA: Good Heavens! Special dishes, indeed! (Looks daggers at Keshta.) Keshta, how incorrigible you are! You have spoilt everything. Your very sight is repugnant to me. Barmecide covers were better far than your concoction. What a burning sensation from mouth to gullet!
KESHTA: Sir, excuse me this time. I am extremely sorry. I shall be very, very careful next time.
DINENDRA: And where is your ghee? You have given us so much water for our bath, you fool!
AUROBINDO: How is it that I was quite unaware of all this? I wonder how I could eat without feeling anything!
(Dinendra and Ramesh burst into laughter.)
DINENDRA: Aurobindo, my young friend, you do not belong to this earth. You remain in your own world.
KESHTA (looking at Dinendra Kumar): Sir, next time I shall prepare a grand dish.
AUROBINDO (with a compassionate look): Keshta, it will be quite nice of you if you can.
KESHTA: Sir, I promise, I shall be no fool again.
Act III, Scene 7
(Baroda. Charu Dutta’s bungalow. Aurobindo spends a short holiday there. Charu Dutta, Lilavati and Subodh.)
CHARU: Chief, to our great good luck we have you with us to-day. This time I have something to confide to you. I have read your Bhavani Mandir. It has moved me to my depths. I have decided to give myself to the service of your great Ideal.
AURO: Very glad, godspeed.
SUBODH: We intend to open a National College in Bengal with you as the Head.
AURO: Believe me, I must go to Bengal if you sincerely want me there.
SUBODH: We hesitate to offer you a remuneration far beneath your notice. Still, poor Bengal would have a princely youth like you for the post.
AURO: My friend, to be able to serve the Mother is itself a high honour for any one.
SUBODH: Your sacrifice has ennobled your country. Your sacrifice will win her freedom.
LILAVATI: Ah, stop, Subodh. (Turning to Aurobindo and handing him a little saloon rifle.) Come, Ghosh Saheb, take a hand.1
AURO (hesitatingly): Sorry, Lilavati. I have never touched a gun. I know nothing about shooting.
(At repeated requests of Lilavati, Charu and Subodh, he takes the rifle. Charu explains to him the technique of aiming over a V-sight.)
AURO: No, Charu is too hasty. Lilavati, you stand by me.
(Aurobindo starts firing at the head of a match stick about twelve feet away from him. He repeats it several times, every time with success.)
LILAVATI: Ghosh Saheb, wonderful, unbelievable. You have mastered the art of shooting in a trice.
CHARU: If realisation in Yoga does not come to such a man, will it come to bunglers like you and me?
- DB 24,9. From here on some of the sentences spoken by Lilavati and Charu are from Charu Dutta’s memoirs.↩
Act IV, Scene 1
(A trip to Kashmir. The Maharaja of Baroda and Aurobindo on Shankaracharya Hill.)
MAHARAJA: Arvind Babu, now we are on the top of the hill. We have ascended a thousand feet above the level of the valley of Kashmir. As we climbed higher and higher I felt as if a screen were slowly lifting up and revealing the splendid beauty of Kashmir. It seems you, too, are thrilled all over by the scenery of this place.
AURO: My feeling is at once overwhelming and inexpressible.
MAHARAJA: What is it? I must hear it from you, I must. (He comes closer to Aurobindo.)
AURO: I made no effort, yet I have had an experience of something so vivid, so astonishing.
MAHARAJA: Do confide it to me, my young friend!
AURO: It is the vacant Infinite! It cannot be described in words. I am sure this experience will leave an abiding impression upon my mind.
MAHARAJA: How wonderful you are! You have spiritual experiences while I merely enjoy the beauty of the scenery. By the bye, do you know the funny story about the Hill?
AURO: No. I would like to hear it.
MAHARAJA: The story is that during his itinerant life the great Vedantin, Shankaracharya, with some of his disciples paid a visit to Kashmir. For some time they made their stay on this hill, and it was at this instance that this temple of Shiva was first set up. Hence this hill has been known as Shankaracharya Hill.
AURO: Now what about the funny portion?
MAHARAJA: Ah, have patience, I am coming to the point. I have told you that Shankara came over here with his disciples. Soon they ran short of provisions. But nobody from the neighbouring villages turned up to offer hospitality to them. It was after some days that a few pundits came to meet them. The disciples of Shankara flew into a rage. They said to the pundits: “Are you not ashamed of your indifference? Are you so ignorant of the Shastric injunctions on hospitality to guests? Did you care to know that we have been without food for some days?” The pundits did not hesitate to defend themselves and asked: “How on earth could you expect us to know this?” Then they turned to Shankara and said that if he had any spiritual power he could have easily fed his disciples. Thereupon Shankara said: “I don’t believe in Shakti. The world is an Illusion.” The pundits cried out: “No, never, the world is real. It is Reality itself. The world is neither illusion nor hallucination.”
AURO: The pundits are right, absolutely right.
MAHARAJA: Ah, but let me complete the story. I have come to the end. The miracle begins. One of the pundits invoked a goddess by chanting some mantras and placed his right palm on the ground. Lo, jets of water began springing up from below the very spot. Poor Shankara had to admit the existence of Shakti.
AURO: I fully believe in the power of such mantras.
MAHARAJA: So do I.
Act IV, Scene 2
(Calcutta. Grey Street House. Mrinalini Devi reads out a letter which she has just received from Aurobindo.)
[…] You have, perhaps, by now discovered that the one with whose fate yours is linked is a very strange kind of person. Mine is not the mental outlook, the aim of life and the domain of action which the generality of people in this country have at present. It is quite different in all respects, it is uncommon. Perhaps, you know by what name the generality of people call extraordinary ideas, uncommon actions, unusually high aspirations. They label all these things a madness, but if the mad man succeeds in the field of action then instead of calling him a lunatic they call him a great man, a man of genius.”
MRINALINI (saying to herself): I fully agree with you, my Lord. I am sure your efforts will be crowned with success.
(She continues reading.)
“… it is my firm faith that whatever virtue, talent, higher education and knowledge and wealth which God has given me belongs to Him.”
MRINALINI: O Merciful God, Thy Grace knows no bounds. I bow to Thee with all my heart and soul for giving me a husband who has no equal on earth.
(She continues reading.)
“… I know I have the strength to uplift this fallen race; it is not physical strength, I am not going to fight with the sword or with the gun, but with the power of knowledge. The power of the warrior is not the only kind of force, there is also the power of the Brahman which is founded on knowledge. This is not a new feeling within me, it is not of a recent origin, I was born with it, it is in my marrow, God sent me to the earth to accomplish this great mission.”
(She is thrilled with joy and jumps up.)
MRINALINI: I know, I know, you are not an ordinary human being. You are a Godlike man. Your great mission must succeed.
(She goes on.)
“… You should always offer to Him this prayer: “May I not come in the way of my husband’s life and his ideals and his path to God-realisation; may I become his helper and his instrument.” Will you do it?”
MRINALINI: My Lord, I fail to believe my eyes. How could you imagine that I might come in the way of your life and your ideals and your path to God-realisation? I have no existence without you. I am entirely yours, within and without.
Act IV, Scene 3
(Baroda. The Maharaja and Sister Nivedita.)
NIVEDITA: Maharaja, I am driven by necessity to ask for your help.
MAHARAJA: Yes, I am at your service, if possible.
NIVEDITA: I strongly feel that the revolutionary movement will be considerably more effective if you lend your powerful active support to it.
MAHARAJA: My help! Good Heavens! I am sure I am of no use to the movement. The spirit of Revolution is lacking in me. But that does not mean that I don’t want freedom. Nivedita, you are the spiritual daughter of Swami Vivekananda. You are surcharged with his indomitable Will. India is proud to have you.
NIVEDITA: I pray, Maharaja, do not laud me to the skies. It is my Master’s Will that has brought me to India, the country of my heart and soul. What I have done for India is nothing and what I may do may count for nothing. That I have been able to dedicate my life, my everything, to serve our Bharatmata is a source of great joy to me.
MAHARAJA: Nivedita, Swamiji’s Nivedita! Truly you are Nivedita, the offering, to the whole country. Now, you want my help in your revolutionary work. Please give me some time to make up my mind. I should like to discuss the matter with Arvind Babu.
NIVEDITA: You mean Aurobindo. I am sure he will press you to join and help the revolutionary movement. He himself will plunge before long into the vortex of the Indian National Independence Movement and stand in the forefront of the struggle.
MAHARAJA: My Arvind! He will leave me! I was quite in the dark about it all. Alas, he will come to unnecessary grief. I must meet him at once.
Act IV, Scene 4
(Baroda. Sri Aurobindo’s residence. Morning. Sri Aurobindo still in bed. Enter Barin in soiled and ragged clothes.)
AURO: Who is there?
BARIN: Sejda, it’s I, Barin.
AURO: O my goodness, how is it that you are in this state? Go into the bathroom and wash up.
BARIN: Sejda, I have come…
AURO: Ah, you are so impossible. Go straight into the bathroom. I shall listen to you afterwards.
(Exit Barin. Sri Aurobindo sits up on the cot. Enter Sarojini, his sister.)
SARO: Sejda, Bari is come. Has he met you? Where is he gone?
AURO: He is in the bathroom.
SARO: Bari is very spirited. I am sure he will do much for the country. But, Sejda, he is not at all sweet towards me in his conduct.
AURO: But I am sweet to you. Am I not?
SARO: I know, it is useless to tell you anything against anybody. You simply take it very lightly. And you never realise your indifference cuts me to the quick.
(Enter Barin, clean and tidy.)
AURO: Bari, Saro has a severe complaint against you.
BARIN: Didi’s complaint! Has she anyone on earth whom she loves more than me?
SARO: Very clever you are. Truth to tell, I hate you for your rude behaviour.
BARIN: Didi, you may hate Sj. Barinda Kumar Ghosh. But to hate your youngest brother Bari is beyond you. Sejda, do you believe that she looks down upon me?
AURO: I can’t think so. Saro, I am sorry that you have lost to Bari. And, I believe your surrender will be complete if you give him a cup of tea and a hot cake.
(Enter Mrinalini Devi with tea and sweets.)
SARO (in excitement): Ah, Baudi, you have come to my rescue. These two brothers are simply torturing me.
(Mrinalini Devi gives a smile.)
BARIN: Now, Didi, allow me to have a serious talk with Sejda.
SARO: Who forbids you? But, mind you, neither Baudi nor I am going to leave the room.
BARIN: No harm. Sejda, it is you who have infused into me the revolutionary spirit. Now you must tell me how to begin the revolutionary work. I can brook no delay.
AURO: You need not. That auspicious moment is well-nigh come.
Act IV, Scene 5
(Evening. Barin, with some of his friends, experiments with a Planchette. Aurobindo keenly observes it. They invoke the spirit of Ramakrishna. The Planchette moves.)
BARIN: Thakur, Thakur, through your infinite kindness you have appeared before us. Please tell us whether our freedom movement will be a success or not.
(The spirit of Ramakrishna remains silent.)
BARIN: Thakur, pray give us your advice. We shall obey you.
(Ramakrishna continues silent.)
BARIN: It seems you are displeased with us. We are helpless, blind human beings. Show us the way to fulfil our ideal.
(The Planchette writes out the sentence: Mandir gado, mandir gado [Make temples, make temples]. The spirit disappears.)
BARIN: Sejda, Ramakrishna has at last said, Mandir gado, mandir gado. What does it signify?
AURO: I believe Ramakrishna Paramahansa wishes us to establish temples in our hearts.
BARIN: What for?
AURO: Barin have faith in Ramakrishna. He was the dearest child of Mahakali. He was God manifest in a human being. We shall in the years to come realise the significance of making temples in the inmost recesses of our hearts.
Act IV, Scene 6
(Sri Aurobindo’s chamber. Sri Aurobindo and Barin.)
BARIN: Sejda, to-day you must tell me when I should begin my revolutionary work.
AURO: Bari, to-morrow you may start for Calcutta. You will help Jatin Banerjee there in his work. I have asked him to work among the grown-ups and the educated. You and Abinash Bhattacharya will work amongst students.
BARIN: Sejda, if there be any disagreement between Jatin and me…
AURO: No, Bari, you must never think of that disheartening thing. I am there behind you all. Don’t fear. I, too, will be coming to join you all.
BARIN: Sejda, there is only one leader in India to whom I can bow. You know who he is. It is you who are at once my guide and India’s only hope.
Act IV, Scene 7
(Patkar and one of his friends. Both are Aurobindo’s students.)
FRIEND: Patkar, at times I see you visit our Professor Arvind Ghosh’s place. I take it he has great affection for you.
PATKAR: As if he only has affection for me and I have none for him!
FRIEND: Who says that you have none? Affection you have; in addition, you have great admiration for him.
PATKAR: My dear friend, you are right. I am all admiration for him!
FRIEND: Patkar, pray tell me something about the Professor.
PATKAR: It does my heart good to tell people about his high qualities. I will tell you of an incident that actually took place yesterday. I was at his place. He was deeply absorbed in his studies. A large sum of money was kept in a tray on his table. So I could not help asking him why he had kept his money like that. The Professor said, “Well, it is a proof that we are living in the midst of honest and good people.” “But you never keep an account which may testify to the honesty of the people around you?” I asked him. With a smiling face he said, “It is God who keeps account for me. He gives me as much as I want and keeps the rest to Himself. At any rate He does not keep me in want, then why should I worry?” Could you conceive such living faith in God and in His constant presence? To my sorrow, he leaves for Bengal shortly, and is not expected to return.
PATKAR: Now that the Partition of Bengal has taken place he feels her call and goes to her rescue. He will certainly light a fire in the minds of the youths of Bengal and change the situation. We have seen the stuff he is made of, a hidden fire! Don’t you think so?
FRIEND: I quite agree with you. I feel his fire will spread beyond Bengal to every part of his beloved land.
Act V, Scene 1
(Aurobindo comes to a Bengal partitioned and distressed. Aurobindo and Mother Bengal.)
MOTHER BENGAL: My child, you come to me in my moment of utter distress. Look at my state. How long will you suffer me in this way to grovel in the dust?
AURO: Mother, look into my bleeding heart. The stab in your heart is a stab in the heart of every one of us, your children. We are determined to let you, our mighty Mother, no longer lie prostrate and dismembered. Our first task will be to restore you to your full stature, whole and strong, and at the same time to launch a supreme effort to free you for ever from your thraldom. The fire that we shall kindle here will spread all over the world. For the moment our love for you will be the love of fire; there will be a fire everywhere till the black forces ranged against our Bharat Mata are a heap of ashes, and her benign face shines with the light of liberty. We stand vowed to do or be vanquished. If our efforts are crowned with success, then only shall we begin our second task — the task of the spiritual liberation of our sisters and brothers at home and abroad. Rest assured, we shall look to your great need first. Nothing will see us swerve an inch from our path. Bless us, O Mother.
MOTHER BENGAL: Your words are worthy of the great soul in you that speaks them. Your Mother will be with you at all times. Mother India expects her children in Bengal to rise and join hands with her children everywhere from North to South, from East to West. Godspeed to you and your sisters and brothers in the vast sacrifice you have undertaken.
Act V, Scene 2
(The residence of P. Mitter, Bar-at-law. Aurobindo and Barin. Jatin Banerjee, whom Aurobindo had helped to get into the Baroda army for military training.)
- MITTER: Aurobindo Babu, Barin and Jatin did their best to organise the youths. But of late there has been a sharp difference of opinion between them. Barin differs from Jatin’s principle of military discipline with regard to the youths who, he says, will do better through love and sympathy than under subjection to a military regime. He fears that strict discipline may scare away the tender ones. Jatin insists on military discipline as essential to an effective basis for our organisation. Until the two views are harmonised, there will be no progress in the work. It is now yours to do the needful.
AURO: Both of them are right, each from his own point of view. (Looking at Jatin) You and Barin have sacrificed so much for the Mother. The spirit of sacrifice and self-accommodation must govern your actions. First of all, let there be love and sympathy in dealing with the new recruits. Then let them be inspired by love of the country to sacrifice their life. Once this love has taken firm root in their youthful hearts you have to introduce military training and discipline to make of them strong, obedient instruments. Jatin, certainly you can co-operate with Barin and Barin with you through the next necessary stages. Don’t you agree to this?
BARIN AND JATIN (in one voice): Certainly that is the best course.
Act V, Scene 3
(Bengal National College. Principal Aurobindo Ghosh’s English class. The class begins with the recital of “Bande Mataram” in chorus. Among the authorities Rash Behari Ghosh, Sir Gurudas Banerjee and Nagendra Nath Guha happen to overhear it from afar. Recitation over, all take their seats; one of the students stands up.)
STUDENT: Sir, may I ask you a question not relevant to our lesson?
AURO: Yes, you may. No harm.
STUDENT: Sir, we feel inspired when you speak of India’s renaissance. But when we turn to her drawbacks our whole outlook is obscured by doubt.
AURO: Well, my boy, do you believe with me that the spirit of nationalism that is now stirring the hearts and souls of our countrymen is a gift of the Divine? Do you believe that the Divine Himself is our Leader?
THE CLASS IN A BODY: Yes, Sir, we do.
AURO: Then take it from me that whatever drawbacks stand in India’s way will be swept away by His Force. The Nation is rising and will go on rising, maybe at times through ups and downs, to the infinite heights. If she does not, she will be an ignominious failure, and ultimately become extinct. But have no such fear. India rises to do God’s Will, to give His Message to the world, to help humanity out of its human darkness into its innate divinity. India’s renaissance is as sure as God Himself. Cast doubt away. Be sincere in your unshakeable faith. It will carry you through.
Act V, Scene 4
(Prof. Manomohan Ghosh in Dacca Government College. The Professor of English and his students. One of the students stands up.)
STUDENT: Sir, to-day we would like to hear from you something about your younger brother Aurobindo.
MANO (placing his right hand on his chest): Alas, what about my poor self?
STUDENTS IN A CHORUS: Aurobindo Ghosh’s life is a life of stupendous sacrifice.
MANO: As if mine were a life of sheer enjoyment! Do you ever care to know that once upon a time I walked in step with Laurence Binyon and Oscar Wilde? It will be a big surprise to you if I say that I was on the way to being a great poet. Now it is all a dream to me. I came over to India to offer my poetic inspiration to her. Strangely enough, she has not recognised it.
STUDENTS: But we, your students, have recognised your poetic inspiration.
MANO: Have you? Then I am prepared to say something about my younger brother Aurobindo! You know, he is fully responsible for the failure of my career. He is a bar to my success. The Government fail to swallow his fiery speeches. My only crime is that I, too, came of the same parents. They might be thinking that my room, too, is not free of bombs and ammunitions!
(The students burst into hilarious laughter.)
STUDENTS: Sir, pray, tell us something in favour of Aurobindo Ghosh.
MANO: Well, my boys, truth is a very sacred thing. I do not use it so often as you people do.
STUDENTS: But why?
MANO: The reason is so simple. The more you use it the sooner it gets spoilt.
STUDENTS: For our sake, for your beloved students’ sake use it at once.
MANO: Listen, then. I do not care a straw for anybody’s unwillingness to subscribe to my firm belief. There are only two and a half men in India: one is Aurobindo and the other Barin, and the half is Tilak!
Act V, Scene 5
(Aurobindo, Rash Behari Ghosh, Sir Gurudas Banerjee and Nagendra Nath Guha.)
RASH BEHARI: Aurobindo Babu, please do not take me amiss. We admit that Nationalism is an invaluable thing. But to preach it in the College, we believe, is not advisable. You always insist on admitting the boys who have been rusticated from Government institutions on political grounds. You say that they are just the sort of stuff that you want for this College. Moreover, it is not safe at all. The Government have already started looking upon our College with an eye of suspicion.
AURO (after heaving a deep sigh): I think our College must have an ideal of its own. Will you be pleased if it follows other Colleges in toto?
GURUDAS: Not at all. But the thing is, if the students pay more attention to politics and nationalism than to their studies, then their studies will go to the dogs.
AURO: I don’t think politics and nationalism stand as a bar to their mental culture. One has to adore one’s Motherland first. Mere mental information is of no use. I believe that one who has no love for his country is no better than a learned fool, although one may be rich in mental attainments.
GURUDAS: I must say, you are quite ahead of our age. Nationalism, politics and mental culture — these three cannot go together.
AURO: I am sorry, I fail to share your views. The name of our College is Bengal National College. Will it not be a negation of the raison d’etre of the College if it keeps clear of Nationalism?
NAGENDRA: Aurobindo Babu, you are always noted for your clarity of thought and expression, depth of understanding and the facility with which you make the abstruse intelligible. I am deeply convinced that your own lofty spirit of Nationalism will fill the country with a powerful idealism that will build up our Nation. But our College is a different matter…
Act V, Scene 6
(22 August 1907. Bengal National College. The resignation of Aurobindo’s Principalship of the College. His beloved pupils request of him a few words of advice. Their faces are overwhelmed with sorrow at his resignation. He has been profusely garlanded by these students.)
AUROBINDO: I have been told that you wish me to speak a few words of advice to you. But in these days I feel that young men can very often give better advice than we older people can give.1
(One of the students stands up.)
STUDENT: Excuse me, Sir. If so, they speak of inspiration received from outstanding leaders like you. (Cheers.)
AURO: When we established this college and left other occupations, other chances of life, to devote our lives to this institution, we did so because we hoped to see in it the foundation, the nucleus of a nation, of the new India which is to begin its career after this night of sorrow and trouble, on that day of glory and greatness when India will work for the world. (Thunderous applause) … When I come back I wish to see some of you becoming rich, rich not for yourselves but that you may enrich the Mother with your riches. I wish to see some of you becoming great, great not for your own sakes, not that you may satisfy your own vanity, but great for her, to make India great, to enable her to stand up with head erect among the nations of the earth, as she did in days of yore when the world looked up to her for light. Even those who will remain poor and obscure, I want to see their very poverty and obscurity devoted to the Motherland … Work that she may prosper. Suffer that she may rejoice.
(Repeated cries of Bande Mataram. In reply one of the students stands up.)
STUDENT (with a choked voice): Words cannot express our feelings. The brilliant future of our country you have called up before our minds has impressed itself upon our hearts. We feel, too, that it can be realised by us if we have a leader of your stature to guide us. We give you our soul’s word that we will follow you, your noble ideal, your noble sacrifice.
(Loud cries of Bande Mataram.)
- DB 37,2. Sri Aurobindo’s words in this scene are from an actual speech of his.↩
Act V, Scene 7
(Bipin Pal and Aurobindo.)
PAL: Aurobindo Babu, I have come to you with a special request. I know, you won’t say nay, nor am I going to take nay from you. The Bande Mataram has now become much too big a burden for me to carry single-handed. I need your personal help as Assistant Editor. It must cope successfully with the rapid growth of the Nationalist movement. I could think of no better person to take up the job than you. Besides, I have every hope that from your powerful pen it will go on producing the needed type of food the country requires from day to day. Now tell me “yes”.
AURO: Thank you for your confidence in me, Mr. Pal. I agree to take up this work provided I have a free hand in the matter.
PAL: Assuredly you will have everything entirely your own way. It’s no business venture. There is no clash of ideals in the Party. So there is no question of interference with your work.
AURO: Thanks again, Mr. Pal.
PAL: Now that the Bande Mataram has your magic pen, I am sure India will no longer remain a slumbering Nation.
AURO: And your trumpet voice will remain hushed? Your ceaseless stream of eloquence runs direct from your heart to inspire and conquer the hearts of our countrymen.
PAL: Ah, pray, do not extol me to the skies. My voice, you may at best compare it with a sword. But who can ever deny that the pen is mightier than the sword?
AURO: If I have extolled you to the skies, to what super-skiey ether would you be said to have extolled me?
PAL: Now, Aurobindo Babu, I expect you to join hands with me at once. The rising tide of Nationalism must suffer no stemming because of any failure on our part to rise to the situation as it develops, henceforth perhaps from moment to moment.
AURO: His work will be done by Him. We are mere instruments. But as instruments, we must be ready, too.
PAL: I fully agree. May Mother India bless you. Good-bye. Let us meet this evening at the Bande Mataram Office.
AURO: Very well.
Act V, Scene 8
(Bhupendra Nath Dutt, brother of Swami Vivekananda, and Aurobindo.)
BHUPEN: You know I have been accused of sedition for two articles in the Sandhya. But I wish to offer defence in court.
AURO: Defence! You, Bhupendra Nath Dutt, brother of the indomitable Narendra Nath Dutt, will offer defence! No, never shall you do so.
BHUPEN: But why? May I know the cause of your objection?
AURO: It is very simple. Bhupen, it does not become you, a fiery revolutionary, to recognise an alien court. You must always be ready to meet prosecution with absolute indifference. You must accept all punishments in utter silence as a matter of course with erect head and dauntless heart. This is the spirit with which you must be surcharged to drive away the British from India.
BHUPEN: I am now convinced, Chief. And I consider myself to be a thing of some worth, for it is from you that I have taken oath of the revolutionary movement. I am ever at your service.
AURO: Bhupen, be sure, India cannot perish. Ours is a race that can by no means become extinct. In us is the abode of Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion. A day shall come when this Religion of ours will be the future Religion of the entire world. Our high mission is to purge barbarism out of humanity and to Aryanise the world. To this end India must recognise herself first. This is the peerless work. To initiate this work Sri Ramakrishna came into the world. His dearest disciple, Naren, walked through fire and water to preach it all over the world.
BHUPEN: I needs must remain beholden to God at least for one thing.
AURO (bursting into laughter): That’s fine. You are not much indebted to God. Only for one thing… And what is it?
BHUPEN: It is this, that God had not sent his representatives — Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Aurobindo — at one and the same time. Ramakrishna played his divine role in secret and left the earth. Now, Chief, you have come on the scene. I am sure you, too, will meet with tremendous success. If God had sent all the three at a time, undoubtedly I would have been a terrible loser.
AURO: How do you mean?
BHUPEN: That I need not explain to you, for you have already read my mind and felt my heart.
Act VI, Scene 1
(Manicktolla Garden. The revolutionaries are engaged in a twofold activity: attending classes on the Gita, and preparing bombs and practising the use of firearms. Barin is their leader. Attired in ochre clothes like a regular sannyasin, Upen explains the Gita to them. It is no camouflage. They are as serious in their study of the Gita as in their revolutionary work.)
BARIN: Nolini, will you please go to Sejda’s place to bring him here? He told me that he will come here to see our activities.
NOLINI (pride and delight brighten up his face.): I, I to bring him?
BARIN: Yes, you go. You know, he is at the residence of Raja Subodh Chandra Mullick.
NOLINI: Yes, Barinda, I’m off.
BARIN (turning to the revolutionaries): So, Sejda is coming to-day. I hope he will be pleased with our revolutionary activities.
REVOLUTIONARIES: We hope so. Even if otherwise, we shall have his directions and guidance. Besides, his presence will be our inspiration.
Act VI, Scene 2
(Nolini’s first contact with Sri Aurobindo. He avails himself of a tramcar and arrives at Wellington Square. Raja Subodh Chandra Mullick’s residence. On his arrival he asks the gate-keeper to inform Mr. Ghosh that he wants to see him. In those days he was not called Aurobindo, but Mr. Ghosh. It is 4 p.m.) Shortly after enter Mr. Ghosh.)
AUROBINDO: Who are you, please? Where do you come from?
NOLINI: Barinda has sent me to take you to our garden.
AUROBINDO: Tell Barin that I have not yet had my lunch. So it is not possible for me to go there to-day. I shall go some other day.
(With a respectful pranam Nolini takes leave of Aurobindo. Those few first words are still a cherished memory with him.)
Act VI, Scene 3
(Bande Mataram Office. Shyam Sundar, Hemendra Prasad and Bijoy Chatterjee.)
SHYAM SUNDAR: It seems to me that the more the writings of Aurobindo Babu are coming out in the Bande Mataram, the faster is India progressing towards the goal of her freedom.
HEMENDRA PRASAD: My friend, it is a pity that only a limited circle knows who is behind the great ideal of the Boycott movement, Passive Resistance and National Education. Aurobindo doesn’t care a straw for fame. He is all for action.
(A big procession passes by the side of the Bande Mataram Office. The self-dedicated volunteers send up to the skies their inspiring cry of Bande Mataram. Song after song is sung, filling the atmosphere with fervent love of the country.)
BIJOY: Our Jugantar Party will function no longer in secret. Look, look at the swelling stream of souls worshipping the country. Her awakening will be keener and deeper. Away from the rocks and shallows our ship is clearing towards the high seas.
Act VI, Scene 4
(Surat Congress. The Moderates, the Nationalists, the Revolutionaries and the members of the different parties. Tilak, Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo, Rash Behari Ghosh, Surendranath Banerjee and many other leaders. A wild uproar arises over the Presidential election. At last they decide on their respective voting strength. Suren Banerjee, leader of the Moderate Party, stands up.)
SUREN BANERJEE: I propose Dr. Rash Behari Ghosh to the chair.
TILAK (getting up): I propose Lala Lajpat Rai to the chair.
THE MODERATES (addressing Tilak): Sit down, please sit down.
THE NATIONALISTS: How dare you, you fellows? One more shout at our Tilak Maharaj and you get the lesson of your life.
THE MODERATES: Don’t yell. Your force is in your throat; ours in our arms.
(Chairs and tables are hurled about by the Moderates. The Nationalists, too, hit them back. Amid a great uproar there starts an exchange of blows.)
TILAK: I declare the Congress closed.
THE MODERATES: Shut up, you deliberate breaker of the Congress.
(One could read on the self-composed face of Sri Aurobindo his poignant thought.)
AUROBINDO: Alas, is this the India of my dream?
(The police come in to restore order. In silence Tilak, Aurobindo and some of the leaders leave the spot.)
Act VI, Scene 5
(Tilak and Aurobindo with the Nationalists and the Revolutionaries.)
TILAK: So, Aurobindo Babu, they dub me the deliberate breaker of the Congress.
AUROBINDO: How could you expect anything better from such fools? Would they ever care to know that to no one else is the catastrophe so great a blow as to your patriotic heart? You are absolutely right in disliking the do-nothingness of that assembly. That you valued it both as a great national fact and for its unrealised possibilities and hoped to make of it a central organisation for practical work is a matter of great joy to me. I am sure you will be remembered by all “so long as our Motherland has pride in its past and hope for its future.”
TILAK: Alas, it is my own countrymen who let loose the full flood of their abuse upon me. But to my joy your fate will be otherwise. All those who have true love of the country will come to love you, admire your great sacrifice and adore the Seer in you.
Act VI, Scene 6
(Baroda. Sardar Majumdar’s Wada. Aurobindo in a small room. Enter Lele Maharaj. With a bow Aurobindo motions him to a seat. Lele sits down and keeps his eyes fixed on Sri Aurobindo.)
AUROBINDO: I need your help in my sadhana.
LELE: I see in you a jnani-bhakta — a rare blessing. But why are you so weighted with thoughts?
AUROBINDO: Wave after wave of thought. How difficult it is to escape their onrush!
LELE: But I always take you to be an exception. Come, let us sit down on the floor.
(They sit down.)
LELE: Sit in meditation, but do not think, look only at your mind; you will see thoughts coming into it; before they can enter throw these away from your mind till your mind is capable of entire silence.
AUROBINDO: Let me try.
(He accepts Lele’s statement with absolute faith and follows his instructions to the letter. He begins to meditate. After one day all thought ceases. Three days, during which a little food is taken mechanically from a plate, pass by. There is the full realisation of Nirvana. Lele communicates again with Aurobindo on the third day.)
LELE: Wonderful! What I wanted from you, you have done within three days. It took me six long years to still my mind. And, even so, what you have achieved seems something much vaster than I had expected. I cannot quite fathom that look on your face…
(Aurobindo is in deep silence.)
Act VI, Scene 7
(Bombay. After his address at a meeting of the Bombay National Union, Aurobindo returns to the residence of a friend. Standing on a balcony he looks out on the city.)
AUROBINDO: I see the whole busy movement of Bombay as a picture in a cinema-show, all unreal and shadowy. The entire material world is quite unsubstantial, void. Ever since I had the experience of the vacant state of Nirvana the silent Infinite alone has become real to me.
AUROBINDO (with a bowed head): Quite a success. I made a perfect void of my mind and followed your instructions to the letter after my Namaskar to the audience. Soon a voice from within me started speaking. Immediately there were thundering cheers.
LELE: Arvind, I was fully aware of it. Your inner Guide spoke through you.
AUROBINDO: Quite so, Lele Maharaj. Before I received your assurance I was in great anxiety. Not even one useful thought flashed across my mind. How could I constructively address a big gathering? But it all turned out wonderfully well. Lele Maharaj, you may read my heart and see how grateful I am to you.
LELE: And in my heart I am profoundly proud of you.
Act VI, Scene 8
(Calcutta. Aurobindo’s residence. Aurobindo and Sudhir Sarkar, a young revolutionary and a great admirer of Aurobindo, living as a member of his family.)
AUROBINDO: Can you do one thing for me?
SUDHIR: Certainly. Please tell me what.
AUROBINDO: Take this note to Sundari Mohan Das. Just read it.
SUDHIR (reads aloud): “The bearer is my friend, Sudhir. Kindly give him your opinion by word or in writing.” (Turning towards Aurobindo.) I am not your equal. How on earth could I ever be called your friend? In learning, in intelligence and in age, in what respect am I your equal?
AUROBINDO: Why can’t you be my friend? You love the country, so do I. Our ideal is one. So we are friends.
(Young Sudhir has the first taste of the humility of the great, and his admiration for Aurobindo grows a hundredfold.)
Act VI, Scene 9
(Dighiriya Hill, Jesidih. Five crack revolutionaries: Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Ullaskar Dutt, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Prafulla Kumar Chakravarti and Bibhuti Bhusan Sarkar. Nolini Kanta, who has carried a live bomb all the way in a handkerchief, passes it to Prafulla. The latter takes his position behind a steep rock facing a slope. Ullaskar stands at his side. Barin and Bibhuti take their positions on two sides. Nolini is some way afar on a tree to command a full view. From Prafulla’s hands the missile flies towards the slope. It was expected to explode after touching the ground. But its passage through the air causes a deafening explosion scattering splinters. A cheerful voice comes from the tree: “Successful! Successful!” Next moment there is sombre silence. The bright faces darken. All assemble round the prostrate figure of Prafulla. His skull is broken, issuing grey matter.)
BARIN: All’s over. No hope left.
(Any form of cremation, burial or covering up the body is quite out of the question.)
BARIN: The first casualty in our first battle. Let it remain as it is. Our next step is our immediate return.
(Young Nolini’s grief breaks the silence.)
NOLINI: Five we came. Four we go.
BARIN (snapping back at Nolini): Nolini, no sentimentality, please.
Act VII, Scene 1
(4 May 1908. Aurobindo’s residence — 48 Grey Street, Calcutta. Aurobindo is asleep. It is 5 a.m.) Sarojini rushes into Aurobindo’s room.)
SAROJINI (waking up Aurobindo): Sejda, Sejda! Police! Police!
(Aurobindo gets up. Enter Police Superintendent Creagan and party.)
CREAGAN: Are you Mr. Aurobindo Ghosh?
CREAGAN (pointing to the police): Handcuff and tie him up, ransack the whole house. (Turning to Aurobindo.) They say you are a B.A. Is it not beneath your dignity to sleep in such a small, unfurnished room?
AUROBINDO: I am poor, and live a poor life.
CREAGAN (at the top of his voice): Then to become rich you have done all this? Now take the consequences. (To the police.) Wait, I’m coming back.
AUROBINDO (to himself): Poor obtuse Englishman, how can you appreciate the values of self-imposed poverty and of self-dedication to the cause of one’s Motherland?
(Enter Krishna Kumar Mitra, Editor of Sanjibani, uncle of Aurobindo, and solicitor Bhupen Bose. His uncle is unable to resist tears. Re-enter Creagan.)
BHUPEN (addressing Creagan): You are not entitled to treat Aurobindo like that. Take off the handcuffs and the rope.
(Creagan orders removal of the handcuffs and the cord.)
Act VII, Scene 2
(Alipore Central Jail. A solitary cell 9′ x 5′ with a small courtyard in front. Aurobindo in contemplation. A column of blue Light from above descends and illumines his cell. A god-like figure emerges from the Light.)
FIGURE: How do you find your jail life here?
AUROBINDO: To me it’s no jail. It is my Yogashram.
FIGURE: Your enemies have put you here.
AUROBINDO: I was striving hard to see Narayana within me as Friend, Master or Providence, but could not. Family ties, attachment to work and a number of other things stood like a wall between Him and me. Now those whom you call my enemies have peremptorily broken those attachments and whisked me away as if from my moorings and put me here in this splendid isolation where I can, quite undisturbed, dive into my depths and see my Lord, my Friend, my Guardian, my Guide, my All-in-all face-to-face. That is why I find in this solitary cell my precious seclusion for union with the Self of my self. He gave me an affectionate family, loving relations, friends, well-wishers, admirers countless in number but more than any one of them, more than all of them put together, my so-called enemies have done me the greatest good. They are no longer my enemies. They are the best of my friends. And this is not the only instance. It is one out of many. Hence, I say, enemies I have none.
Act VII, Scene 3
(Statement of Barindra Kumar Ghosh before L. Birley, Magistrate of the first class at Alipore.)
BIRLEY: Do you wish to make a statement before me?1
BIRLEY: Do you understand that your statement being made before a Magistrate will be admissible as evidence against you?
BIRLEY: Is your statement being made voluntarily or has any pressure been put upon you to make it?
BARIN: It is quite voluntary.
BIRLEY: Will you tell me what you have to say?
BARIN: Whatever I had to say I have said in a written statement.
BIRLEY: Have you any objection to making that statement to me here?
BARIN: Shall I begin at the very beginning?
BIRLEY: Yes… When were you arrested?
BARIN: The day before yesterday, early in the morning.
BARIN: At 32 Muraripukur Road.
BIRLEY: Who else was there?
BARIN: Ullaskar Dutt, Upendra Nath Banerji, Indra Bhusan Rai, Bibhuti Bhusan Sarkar, Paresh Chandra Mallick, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Kunja Lal Saha, Sachindra Nath Sen, Purna Chandra Sen, Hemendra Nath Ghosh, Sisir Kumar Ghosh, Bijoy Kanta Nag and others.
Please take down my motive for disclosing these names. Our party was divided as to the propriety of disclosing these names. Some thought they would deny everything and take the consequences but I persuaded them all to give written and oral statements to inspector Ramsaday Mukerji because I believe that, as the band was found out, it was best not to do any other work in the country, and because we ought to save the innocent.
- DB 51,2. B.C. Chatterjee, Alipore Bomb Trial.↩
Act VII, Scene 4
(Sessions Court of Mr. Beachcroft. Prior to the identification parade Sudhir Sarkar, an accused, whispers to Nolini Kanta Gupta that during the parade he will be posing as one afraid of being identified, while Nolini, the real accused in connection with the Jesidih bomb affairs, should keep standing quite unconcerned. The accused are brought out into the open and made to stand in a line in front of the prosecution Counsel Mr. Eardley Norton. Prosecution witnesses are brought in one by one. Enter the first witness.)
NORTON (asking the first witness): Have you seen any of them?
FIRST WITNESS: Yes, I have.
NORTON (cheerfully): Point them out.
(The witness slowly passes along the line, points out one or two and then withdraws. Enter the second witness.)
NORTON (To the second witness, the signal cabinman of Jesidih Railway Function who is expected to identify the persons involved in the local event): Look at these men. Point out those you saw over the crossing on their way to Dighiriya Hill.
(The witness passes by the accused including Nolini. And, befooled by his cleverly studied movements, the witness fixes upon Sudhir as the culprit amidst a roar of laughter by the visitors and the accused. Enter the third witness.)
NORTON (to the third witness): Whom among these have you seen?
WITNESS: I know nothing, I know none of them. Neither do I know why the police have brought me here.
(Side-splitting laughter from the accused and the visitors.)
Act VII, Scene 5
(Alipore Jail. Aurobindo in his cell.)
AUROBINDO: Ten days’ fast, with sleep once in three nights, has left me no whit weaker, rather I feel greater energy. Now it’s time for sirsasana. (He stands on his head. Enter Andrews Frazer, Lieutenant Governor, Bengal, with his aide-de-camp. He is surprised to see the Yogic posture of balancing the body on the head.)
FRAZER: What is all this, Mr. Ghosh? (No answer.)
FRAZER: Mr. Ghosh! (No answer.)
AIDE-DE-CAMP: He is practising Yoga.
FRAZER: What is Yoga?
AIDE-DE-CAMP: It is a process of seeing God.
FRAZER: Queer! Sheer nonsense.
(Exeunt Frazer and his aide-de-camp. Aurobindo is sitting relaxed. Enter a Scotch sergeant.)
SERGEANT (in a tone of bravado): So, Arabinda, you are at last caught.
AUROBINDO: Yet shall I escape.
(Enter the Jail doctor, Mr. Daly.)
DALY: It pains me to see you confined to this solitary cell. The jail Superintendent has kindly listened to my request. He has allowed you to have a walk in the open courtyard.
AUROBINDO (smiling): I thank you both.
Act VII, Scene 6
(Aurobindo in his cell. Early morning.)
AUROBINDO: I wonder from where this fragrance is coming. There is no flower near by, nor even a gentle breeze.
(A voice breaks out in the silence.)
VOICE: I am Vivekananda. I want to speak to you about the workings of the consciousness above the mind.
AUROBINDO: Above the mind?
VOICE: Yes. I myself had no idea of such workings while I was in the body. Now I have it and I will help you with it. For this I shall visit you every day for about two weeks.
AUROBINDO: I believe these workings would lead towards some Supreme Dynamic Knowledge.
VOICE: That is for you to discover. I can but show what I have found. The world’s burden of progress rests upon your shoulders. It is a great happiness to find you ready to bear it. Godspeed.
(The spirit of Vivekananda disappears.)
Act VII, Scene 7
(On reading Sarojini’s appeal in the Bande Mataram of 18 August 1908, for funds for the defence of Aurobindo, two patriots are walking to Sarojini’s residence, at 6, College Square, Calcutta.)
FIRST PATRIOT: We must not rest satisfied with our own contributions. The expenses are large and the whole country must meet them along with us.
SECOND PATRIOT: That is my feeling, too. We most work our hardest to collect funds from door to door.
FIRST PATRIOT: There is no other way of contacting the people face to face.
SECOND PATRIOT: We have to plan an organised effort.
(Enter the two patriots and greet Sarojini.)
PATRIOTS: We have brought in our humble mite. (Each handing to Sarojini a hundred-rupee note.) We are planning a door-to-door collection.
SAROJINI: That’s all to the good. So far I have received less than half the sum required. Sixty thousand, that’s the estimate of legal experts. The amount so far received is twenty-three thousand.
(Enter a Punjabi postman.)
POSTMAN (handing a ten-rupee note to Sarojini): Mataji, please accept this poor man’s offer. Aurobindo Babu is our god. We pray for his victory.
(Enter a bearded Muslim cabman.)
CABMAN: Baji [elder sister], Babuji has used my cab many, many times. I have received higher and higher Bakshis every time. I have wept and prayed to Allah for his release. Allah, Allah, help him out of the trouble! Kindly take this petty sum for his defence.
(Handing a five-rupee note to Sarojini, with a salaam he goes out. Enter a street coolie of Oriyan origin. Tears rolling down from his perspiring face.)
COOLIE (placing a half-rupee coin on Sarojini’s table, with folded hands): This wretched coolie has nothing more to give. Jagannath Prabho, save our country’s jewel.
Act VII, Scene 8
(Aurobindo’s cell. Aurobindo in deep meditation. A blue Light fills the cell. Vasudeva appears in the midst of the Light.)
VASUDEVA (coming in front of Aurobindo): Look at me, my child. I am He whom you have been seeking. I come to tell you that from now and for ever you will be finding me in you, with you, around you everywhere. The second thing is that your work for India in Bengal is now done. I have decreed India’s independence. The rest of the work for it will be done by others yet to come. I sent you on earth to do my work for world-liberation and world-transformation. That will require a very long and intensive preparation on your part. Henceforth, concentrate on it according to my guidance. As regards your case here, it is my concern. Leave it all to me. I will instruct your counsel, speak through him and see you released. You will remain ever free from all their blind efforts afterwards to force you out of the sphere of your work — for the moment in India, then the world over.
(Aurobindo bows in silence. Vasudeva disappears.)
Act VII, Scene 9
(C.P. Beachcroft, Additional Sessions Judge and Eardley Norton.)
BEACHCROFT: Mr. Norton, you know Arabindo Ghosh was a very brilliant scholar in England. He had no equal at St. Paul’s. He won a scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge. He was a contemporary of mine in the I.C.S. We both won honours at the University and, at the final examination of the Indian Civil Service, Arabindo the prisoner beat Beachcroft the Judge to second place in Greek and Latin. This is called the irony of Fate! Poor Arabindo!
NORTON: “To me it appears a matter for regret that a man of Arabindo’s mental calibre should have been ejected from the Civil Service on the ground that he could not, or would not, ride a horse. Capacity such as his would have been a valuable asset to the State. Had room been found for him in the Educational Service of India I believe he would have gone far not merely in personal advancement but in welding more firmly the links which bind his countrymen to ours. The new era of reform, in spite of local and I believe temporary cleavage, illumines India’s political sky and promises a future as much a matter of just pride to the Englishman as of hope and contentment and advance to the Indian.”
Act VII, Scene 10
(Alipore Court. Beachcroft, Additional Sessions Judge and the jury. Norton, C.R. Das and other lawyers. The day of Aurobindo’s release. C.R. Das after summing up his whole case concludes his historic address.)
C.R. DAS: “… My appeal to you is this, that long after this turmoil, this agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed not only in India but across distant seas and lands,…”
(Beachcroft looks on, eyes indrawn. The prosecution counsel, Mr. Norton, who was listening spell-bound to the peroration, now looks at C.R. Das, relaxed and relieved of his year-long tension. Beachcroft starts addressing the jury. After his address to the jury the foreman takes leave of the court to retire for consultation with his colleagues. The jurors retire. The Court rises for lunch.)
Act VII, Scene 11
FOREMAN (turning to the Judge): Your Honour, our fully considered verdict is unanimous so far as Aurobindo is concerned. We all are of the opinion that he is Not Guilty. As regards the others…
BEACHCROFT: I accept your verdict and acquit Arabindo of the charges brought against him. (Turning towards C.R. Das.) Mr. Das, I congratulate you on your laborious study, patience, endurance and your able conduct of the case concerning your client Arabindo.
C.R. DAS: I thank Your Honour for your kind appreciation of my personal efforts. I thank also the members of the jury for their unflagging patience and energy in following the case in detail from day to day and for giving their well-considered verdict.
NORTON (coming forward and shaking C.R. Das by the hand): You have the reward of your labour. I congratulate you.
C.R. DAS: Thank you very much, my learned friend.
Act VIII, Scene 1
(Aurobindo, and the other released, in the dock along with those sentenced. Sudhir Sarkar, one of the latter, moves to Sri Aurobindo.)
SUDHIR: Government are holding out temptations before us. They promise to take us to Europe or America for our education, with the prospects of high posts afterwards. All this to have our secrets. What must we do?
AURO: Think of the Mother. Think of me. We will always be with you.
(The police take away the sentenced ones. C.R. Das takes Aurobindo and his released companions to his house. His carriages move slowly through surging crowds on both sides of the streets amidst deafening cheers of joy and cries of Bande Mataram. The whole family of C.R. Das along with a body of nationalist leaders receive Aurobindo and his party with loud cries of Bande Mataram and repeated blowing of conch shells. Garlands, bouquets and flowers are showered upon the party from all sides.)
After lunch and rest, while Aurobindo is sitting among others in a room, the younger ones of C.R. Das’s house are peeping in. They retire after having a long look at Aurobindo from their unseen positions. One of them is accosted by a group of young men coming towards C.R. Das’s house.)
YOUNG MEN: Sudhi, we are coming to see Aurobindo Babu. Certainly you have seen him?
SUDHI: Oh, yes, I have.
YOUNG MEN: Sudhi, Sudhi, tell us, how does he look?
SUDHI: Go in and see for yourselves, with your own eyes. His looks have to be seen and not described.
YOUNG MEN: We will. But you give us your own impression, Sudhi.
SUDHI: I found him sitting quiet and unperturbed amidst exuberant scenes of joy and happiness. He seems to be in his own atmosphere, among all yet isolated, in-drawn with a distant look, silence incarnate.
YOUNG MEN (silenced into surprise, in reverential tone): We will simply see him and give him our pranams and withdraw without any demonstration.
Act VIII, Scene 2
(Aurobindo’s residence. Sarojini and Aurobindo.)
SAROJINI: Sejda, oh that you were here to see how your countrymen, even of the lowest ranks, showed their heart’s love for you by coming to me, singly or in groups, to make their offerings to your defence fund. Their love flowed in tears and in sacrifice of their day’s earnings. The amounts were mostly poor, but immeasurably rich in their goodwill.
AUROBINDO: Saro, I was, no doubt, not here to see the touching sight. But I could somehow sense it from the impact of their love upon me. Look at the heaps of telegrams and letters on my release. I repeat to you the concluding lines of what I have written to the Editor of the Bengalee: “If it is the love of my country which led me into danger, it is also the love of my countrymen which has brought me safe through it.”
SAROJINI (taking the letter from her Sejda’s hand and reading aloud):
“To the Editor of the //Bengalee.//
Will you kindly allow me to express through your columns my deep sense of gratitude to all who have helped me in my hour of trial? Of the innumerable friends known and unknown, who have contributed each his mite to swell my defence, it is impossible for me now even to learn the names, and I must ask them to accept this public expression of my feeling in place of private gratitude. Since my acquittal, many telegrams and letters have reached me and the love which my countrymen have heaped upon me in return for the little I have been able to do for them amply repays any apparent trouble or misfortune my public activity may have brought upon me. I attribute my escape to no human agency, but first of all to the protection of the Mother of us all who has never been absent from me but always held me in Her arms and shielded me from grief and disaster, and secondarily to the prayers of thousands which have been going up to Her on my behalf ever since I was arrested. If it is the love of my country which led me into danger, it is also the love of my countrymen which has brought me safe through it.
6, College Square, 14 May 1909”
Act VIII, Scene 3
(30 May 1909. The memorable Uttarpara speech. A gathering of about ten thousand people. Aurobindo is profusely garlanded. Michhari Babu, son of Raja Piyari Mohan of Uttarpara, has specially got a garland prepared for Aurobindo, which reaches to the feet. The meeting is held under the auspices of the Dharma Rakshini Sabha, just after his acquittal from the Alipore Bomb Case.)
AUROBINDO (after triumphant cheers from the audience): “When I was asked to speak to you at the annual meeting of your Sabha, it was my intention to say a few words about the subject chosen for to-day, the subject of the Hindu religion. I do not know whether I shall fulfil that intention; for as I sat here, there came into my mind a word that I have to speak to you, a word that I have to speak to the whole of the Indian Nation. It was spoken first to myself in jail and I have to speak it to my people… I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me his shade. I looked at the bars of my cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw Vasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover. This was the first use of the deeper vision He gave me. I looked at the prisoners in the jail, the thieves, the murderers, the swindlers, and as I looked at them I saw Vasudeva, it was Narayana whom I found in these darkened souls and misused bodies… Afterwards when the trial opened in the Sessions Court, I began to write many instructions for my Counsel as to what was false evidence against me and on what points the witnesses might be cross-examined. Then something happened which I had not expected. The arrangements which had been made for my defence were suddenly changed and another Counsel stood there to defend me. He came unexpectedly — a friend of mine, but I did not know he was coming. You have all heard the name of the man who put away from him all other thoughts and abandoned all his practice, who sat up half the night day after day for months and broke his health to save me — Srijut Chittaranjan Das. When I saw him, I was satisfied, but I still thought it necessary to write instructions. Then all was put away from me and I had the message from within, ‘This is the man who will save you from the snares put around your feet. Put aside those papers. It is not you who will instruct him. I will instruct him.’ From that time I did not of myself speak a word to my Counsel about the case… I had left it to him and he took it entirely into his hands, with what result you know… Always I listened to the voice within: ‘I am guiding, therefore, fear not. Turn to your own work for which I have brought you to jail and when you come out, remember never to fear, never to hesitate. Remember that it is I who am doing this, not you nor any other. Therefore, whatever clouds may come, whatever dangers and sufferings, whatever difficulties, whatever impossibilities, there is nothing impossible, nothing difficult. I am in the nation and its uprising and I am Vasudeva, I am Narayana, and what I will, shall be, not what others will. What I choose to bring about, no human power can stay.’ …I said, ‘Give me Thy Adesh. I do not know what work to do or how to do it. Give me a message.’ In the communion of Yoga two messages came. The first message said, ‘I have given you a work and it is to help to uplift this nation. Before long the time will come when you will go out of jail; for it is not my will that this time either you should be convicted or that you should pass the time, as others have to do, in suffering for their country. I have called you to work, and that is the Adesh for which you have asked. I give you the Adesh to go forth and do my work.’ The second message came and it said, ‘Something has been shown to you in this year of seclusion, something about which you had your doubts and it is the truth of the Hindu religion. It is this religion that I am raising up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the Rishis, saints and Avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising up this nation to send forth my word. This is the Sanatan Dharma, this is the eternal religion which you did not really know before, but which I have now revealed to you… When you go forth, speak to your nation always this word, that it is for Sanatan Dharma that they arise, it is for the world and not for themselves that they arise. I am giving them freedom for the service of the world. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall rise. When it is said that India shall be great, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatan Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the Dharma and by the Dharma that India exists’… I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu Nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is the Nationalism. This is the message that I have to speak to you.”
(Exit Aurobindo. Some members of the Dharma Rakshini Sabha speak to one another.)
FIRST MEMBER: I have attended big political meetings addressed by veteran leaders. But this meeting, could I or anybody else foresee it? A set subject had been placed before him to speak on with sufficient time given him to think over it. But you see, how he soared unexpectedly higher over it to another subject of far-reaching scope and of deep significance.
SECOND MEMBER: Yes, he soared not only above the fixed subject but above the environment. He made us forget that we were at Uttarpara listening to one of our invited guests.
THIRD MEMBER: He spoke not in a human voice and I doubt whether it was he who spoke.
CHIEF ORGANISER: I agree with each of you. I feel strongly that Uttarpara will go down in history as an obscure point on India’s map from which the whole of India and then the whole of the world listened to India’s God-man, speaking to all humanity. The cadence of his sentences raised waves of power in my heart. What power is this? It looks as if he will leave the political field. But I feel assured that what India will lose in him as a political leader she will gain infinitely in having him as a dynamic force to create a superior India and a superior world.
Act VIII, Scene 4
(Patriot Krishna Kumar Mitra’s residence. Enter a friend of Mrs. Mitra.)
FRIEND (addressing Mrs. Mitra): Sister, a thought has just occurred to me and I have come to tell it to you.
MRS. MITRA: Yes, I am all ears.
FRIEND: Aurobindo Babu is in your house. The Intelligence Department knows it. Krishna-da is in detention in Agra Jail. The I.B.’s report, that you are harbouring the terror of the British Government in your own house, will spell disaster. Who knows that your house will not be a centre of the watch-dogs? For your friends and relatives to visit your house will certainly be to risk their safety. You can never want your neighbours, friends and relatives to be the objects of the I.B.’s attentions. Harassment of innocents, I am sure, is the last thing you could think of. Over and above all this, there is the case of Krishna-da. If he is detained simply on suspicion, Aurobindo Babu’s stay in your house will confirm it. All this will surely mean his indefinite detention.
MRS. MITRA (smiling): Now…
FRIEND: Now for your safety and for the safety of all else concerned as well as for an early release of Krishna-da I should like you to request Aurobindo Babu to remove to some other place apart from his relatives.
MRS. MITRA: I appreciate your goodwill and your concern for our well-being. But, dear sister, to be on God’s earth and at the same time to be in constant fear of danger to personal safety and personal interest, without believing in His Protection, is it not sacrilege? (In a choking voice.) Auro is more than my Auro. He is Mother India’s chosen child. If my friends and relatives dare not visit my house, I shall be sorry for them. Mother India needs her children to be of sterner stuff. If they cannot rise to the occasion, I repeat, I shall be sorry for them. But I cannot do otherwise. My heart revolts against the very idea of seeing Auro off from his beloved uncle’s house. And what would your Dada think of me? I know him, perhaps, more intimately than anybody else. His love of truth, his love of country are the same in substance and in spirit as his love for Auro. So, my sister…
FRIEND: A true consort of a true leader. I feel ennobled by your lofty stand. I leave you and your darling Auro in the hands of Divine Providence in whom you have such flaming faith.
Act VIII, Scene 5
(Dharma and the Karmayogin Office. Aurobindo and Nolini. Time: evening.)
AUROBINDO: Nolini, have you any desire to learn European languages, French, for instance, to start with?
NOLINI (taken aback): If you are pleased to help me, most certainly.
AUROBINDO: The National College1 has a stock of my books, I have lent them to it. (Handing him a short note.) Take this to the College Library. They will give you a volume of Moliere’s works.
(Nolini goes out with the note and returns with the book.)
AUROBINDO (selecting “L’Avare”): Start here.
NOLINI (overwhelmed with surprise): Such a big leap for a beginner!
AUROBINDO (smiling): Shake off old ideas. Come along with me. Read as I do.
(Sri Aurobindo reads, Nolini follows — the former occasionally correcting the latter in pronunciation.)
Pronunciation well learnt, the thoughts and sentiments will present no difficulty. I will facilitate your understanding by writing the English meanings of difficult words in the margins.
- DB 64,4. National College: Now Jadavpur University.↩
Act VIII, Scene 6
(Dharma and the Karmayogin Office. Aurobindo is occupied in writing for Dharma. Enter Nivedita.)
NIVEDITA: Excuse me, Mr. Ghosh, I have to interrupt you. I have just had it from an authentic source that the Government have completed a plan to deport you outright from India. They are going to execute it any moment.
NIVEDITA: I am come to ask you to leave British India forthwith.
AUROBINDO: I will foil their plan.
AUROBINDO: I am going to publish, over my own signature, immediately in the Karmayogin “An Open Letter To My Countrymen” setting forth our policy and plan of work.
NIVEDITA (with a note of anxiety in her voice): Will that suffice?
AUROBINDO: It will. And you will agree with me when you read it through.
NIVEDITA: I take you at your word, as always. I shall read it only to make my senses doubly sure. Nothing can give me greater delight than to find you safely at work, here in our midst, for your dear land.
AUROBINDO: Do I need your telling me that? I know your heart well enough.
Act VIII, Scene 7
(Bagbazar. Nivedita’s residence. She is poring over the latest issue of the Karmayogin. Sudhira is standing by the table.)
NIVEDITA (raising her head): Listen, Sudhira, and tell me who could write like this? (She reads out.) “All great movements wait for their Godsent leader, the willing channel of His force, and only when he comes, move forward triumphantly to their fulfilment… Our ideal of Swaraj involves no hatred of any other nation nor of the administration which is now established by law in this country. We find a bureaucratic administration, we wish to make it democratic; we find an alien government, we wish to make it indigenous; we find a foreign control, we wish to render it Indian. They lie who say that this aspiration necessitates hatred and violence. Our ideal of patriotism proceeds on the basis of love and brotherhood and it looks beyond the unity of the nation and envisages the ultimate unity of mankind…”
SUDHIRA: Who but Mr. Ghosh?
NIVEDITA: Right. These words will pass into history and materialise in the life of India. Mr. Ghosh is not simply India’s glory. He is the glory of God in the world.
SUDHIRA: It is a thousand pities that the Government should think of him as a menace to their existence.
NIVEDITA: Menace, no doubt, to a ruthless engine of repression that the Government are. I am, however, strongly persuaded that Mr. Ghosh’s present letter to his countrymen will do the job. It is as clear as it is outspoken and well within legal bounds. Aurobindo is the Truth that is India. And the Truth will triumph.
Act VIII, Scene 8
(The Karmayogin Office. Aurobindo, Nolini, Suresh Chandra Chakravarty, Biren Ghosh and Bijoy Nag are trying automatic writing. Time: 8 p.m. Enter Ramchandra Majumdar.)
RAMCHANDRA (turning towards Aurobindo in a low voice): I have just heard from Father that in a day or two the Government will forcibly enter our office and arrest you.
(Aurobindo in contemplation.)
SURESH: Is it actually true?
NOLINI: Is it possible? Have not the Government taken note of “An Open Letter to My Countrymen”?
RAMCHANDRA: They have. But they know their own way. They are led by secret reports.
AUROBINDO (abruptly): Chandernagore.
AUROBINDO: I am starting at once for Chandernagore. I am going by a back route to the bank of the Ganges.
(Aurobindo and party come to the Ghat. Aurobindo steps into a boat. Suresh and Biren follow him. The boat is rowed by two men.)
AUROBINDO (to Suresh and Biren): Have no fear. I have heard the voice from Above.
SURESH: That sets our anxieties at rest.
Act VIII, Scene 9
(Aurobindo’s boat touches at Chandernagore.)
AUROBINDO: Biren, go to Charu Chandra Roy and ask him if he agrees to my stay in his house.
(Exit Biren. Biren comes to the residence of Charu Bhandra Boy.)
CHARU: Yes, please?
BIREN: Aurobindo Babu wants to know if you can agree to his stay in your house without letting anybody know. He is at the Ghat, waiting in a boat for your word.
CHARU: Please ask him to excuse my inability. With a heavy heart I tell you this. My connection with the Government you know…
(Biren comes out. Sisir Ghosh follows him.)
SISIR: My young friend, do not lose heart. I shall take you to somebody who will gladly receive him.
BIREN (delighted): Who, who is he?
SISIR: He is Motilal Roy.
(They now reach Motilal Roy’s residence.)
SISIR: Aurobindo Babu whom you regard so highly is at the Ghat. Can you arrange for his secret stay in our town?
MOTILAL: Why this question of secrecy?
BIREN: The Government were planning to arrest and deport him. A timely warning came and, after a little concentration, he has got the command from Above to come here and remain in secret.
(Motilal hastens to the Ghat and asks the boatmen to take the boat near his house.)
Act VIII, Scene 10
(Motilal Roy’s residence. First floor. A furniture godown. Aurobindo in meditation with eyes open. Enter Motilal with a dish in hand.)
MOTILAL: It seems you are in another world. You look absorbed in your depths. Will you tell me if I have a chance of taking to Yoga?
AUROBINDO: Certainly you have.
MOTILAL: My family tie…
AUROBINDO: That’s nothing.
MOTILAL: Then, pray tell me how I can take up the spiritual life.
AUROBINDO: Try to surrender everything to God.
MOTILAL: Will it be possible for me?
AUROBINDO: Why not? God is within and without us. He himself will do your Yoga.
MOTILAL: Then please show me the easiest path.
AUROBINDO: Surrender, that is the easiest. Try to surrender all you have and all you are.
MOTILAL (bowing down to Aurobindo’s feet): Please give me your Blessing.
AUROBINDO (Smiling and then placing his hand upon Motilal’s head): If you must have it, here it is.
Act IX, Scene 1
(Motilal Roy’s residence. Aurobindo is in meditation in a small ill-lit room. Time: early in the morning. Suddenly there appears before him his familiar Figure of Vasudeva.)
VASUDEVA: I am glad that you have come over here as I wished. It is high time you plunged deeper into Yoga. You will feel more and more that it is I who am doing Yoga within you. Now I want that nothing may stand in your way. Hence, my chosen place for you is Pondicherry, South India. There your concentrated Tapasya will hasten the descent of a force which will facilitate the descent of a far higher Force to consummate your work.
(The Figure disappears. Enter Motilal Roy.)
AUROBINDO: Pondicherry, Pondicherry.
MOTILAL: What do you mean?
AUROBINDO: I am to start for Pondicherry. The sooner, the better.
MOTILAL (taken aback): But why? Anything wrong?
AUROBINDO: Nothing at all. I have just got an adesh — a higher command to move straight to Pondicherry.
MOTILAL: Adesh! Then let me make the necessary arrangements.
Act IX, Scene 2
(The steamer leaves Calcutta in the small hours of the morning of 1 April, 1910. Bijoy and Aurobindo.)
BIJOY: Now you are Jyotindranath Mitter, and I am Bankim Chandra Basak. Are we justified in passing ourselves off as other than we are?
AUROBINDO: No, not in the eyes of the moralists.
BIJOY: I am the last fellow to go in for morality. But why, of all places, Pondicherry?
AUROBINDO: It is His choice.
BIJOY: But how long will you be there?
AUROBINDO: As long as He wills.
BIJOY: What will be your plan of work there?
AUROBINDO: I will follow whatever plan He reveals to me.
BIJOY: I am afraid your work will be much more inward than now.
AUROBINDO: I feel so.
BIJOY: Then we have no place there.
AUROBINDO: How? My work will be for all, for all the world.
BIJOY: The purpose?
AUROBINDO: The Supreme Transformation of the world.
BIJOY: In what way can such a transformation come about?
AUROBINDO: By the ascent of man into the Spirit, the descent of the Spirit into man.
Act IX, Scene 3
(31 March 1910. Srinivasachari’s house, Pondicherry. Srinivasachari with his friend, Subramaniyam. Moni arrives from Calcutta. He presents an introductory note (2 x 2 inches) to Srinivasachari from Aurobindo.)
SRINIVASACHARI (reading the note most carefully): My dear friend, I find it difficult to believe you. Aurobindo Ghosh has chosen Pondicherry for his stay!
SUBRAMANIYAM: Unbelievable, impossible.
MONI: I am shocked to see that you do not take this note to be genuine. It is in Aurobindo’s own handwriting.
SRINIVASACHARI: Can anybody imagine that such a great national figure would come down to Pondicherry, a French pocket?
MONI: I give you my word of honour. If I am telling a lie, you may do anything with my life.
SRINIVASACHARI: You want simply a house for him?
SRINIVASACHARI: Nothing further?
MONI: For the present, no.
SRINIVASACHARI: Then I, too, give you my word of honour that as soon as he arrives here I will arrange a house for him.
SUBRAMANIYAM: That’s a fine idea.
MONI (turning towards Srinivasachari): Well, Sir, I think it would be better if you kept it ready for him beforehand.
SRINIVASACHARI: When is he coming?
MONI: On April 4.
SUBRAMANIYAM: And if he doesn’t turn up?
MONI: Then you may do with me anything you like.
SRINIVASACHARI: The time is so short. I am thinking of giving him a public reception.
MONI: I beg your pardon. He is coming over here incognito.
SRINIVASACHARI: Where have you yourself put up?
MONI: I am coming straight to you from the station. I don’t know where to put up.
SRINIVASACHARI: Well, you will be in my house. (He takes Moni into an adjacent room, and returns to his friend, Subramaniyam.)
SUBRAMANIYAM: He may be a spy.
SRINIVASACHARI: I don’t think so.
SUBRAMANIYAM: Anyhow, it is better to be on one’s guard.
SRINIVASACHARI: I shall be on the alert. But I must find a suitable house for Aurobindo Ghosh. Pondicherry will be blessed by his presence, be it long or short. But in this dilapidated town can I find an accommodation suitable for him?
SUBRAMANIYAM: You can have a talk with Shanker Chetty. His house is three-storeyed. He can easily spare the needed accommodation.
SRINIVASACHARI: It is a good suggestion. I will act on it at once.
Act IX, Scene 4
(4 April 1910. The Dupleix touches at Pondicherry. Moni and Srinivasachari are moving towards the steamer in a small boat which sways from side to side amid high waves. Their eyes scan the places on the upper deck.)
MONI (pointing to two figures): Oh, there, there!
SRINIVASACHARI: Oh, yes, thank God. (His face is lit up.) I will take Aurobindo Babu to his appointed place. You come later with your friend and with the luggage. I shall give the coolie the necessary instructions.
Act IX, Scene 5
BIJOY (on the upper deck, pointing his finger towards Moni as the boat comes still nearer): There he is! Moni is coming with a friend. Is he your friend?
AUROBINDO: Yes. Moni has done the job.
Act IX, Scene 6
(Time: 5 p.m. Tea is served in Aurobindo’s cabin. Aurobindo and Bijoy come down to the lower deck, receive Srinivasachari and Moni and take them to the tea-table.)
SRINIVASACHARI: I am sorry I suspected your emissary. I have instructed him to come a little later with your companion and your luggage. You and I can proceed in a pousse-pousse waiting for us.1
AUROBINDO: First have a cup of tea before we land.
SRINIVASACHARI: Thanks, Aurobindo Babu, thanks. The fish-shaped biscuits play upon my nerves.
AUROBINDO: Biscuits are biscuits. There is no fish in them. What is your objection then?
SRINIVASACHARI: My conscience would prick me all the same.
(Moni and Bijoy, amused, exchange glances, and smile. Then they both empty the dishes.)
SRINIVASACHARI: My heart is too full of joy at your arrival to say anything. One of my friends has suggested to me that Shanker Chetty’s house would suit you best. So I have taken a part of it for your use. Come along with me to the shore. We have first to board a catamaran.
- DB 75,2. Pousse-pousse, “Push-push”: a three-wheeled vehicle pushed from behind by the rickshawalla and directed by the passenger himself with the help of a rod attached to the small front wheel.↩
Act IX, Scene 7
(Shanker Chetty’s house. Some months later. Aurobindo in a room on the top floor. Moni and Bijoy.)
MONI: You have fasted for the last 23 days. When are you going to stop it?
AUROBINDO (with a smile): To-day.
MONI: To-day! What shall we prepare for you?
AUROBINDO: Nothing special. Normal food.
BIJOY: All your ways are strange. How was it possible for you to carry on your eight-hour walk, your literary activity and meditation, every day with no omission of any item during such a long fast? May I know? And now instead of starting with bits of fruit and suchlike things you’ll take a full normal meal!
AUROBINDO: Do Yoga and you will understand. You are aware that in the Alipore jail I fasted for ten days. I was then in the thick of Yogic practices. No doubt, I began losing weight. But I could easily lift above my head a big pail of water, which I could not do before.
MONI: Is it ever possible to prolong life without food?
MONI: But how?
AUROBINDO: By drawing energy from the Vital Plane instead of depending on the physical elements and nourishment.
MONI: I shall try it. Bijoy, do you want to follow me?
BIJOY: Most gladly, and by all means. But first you come out successful. After all, life is very precious.
MONI: Not for nothing did Rabindranath sing, Ekla Chalo Re [Walk your way alone].
BIJOY: But not for long are you to walk alone. I shall dog you the moment I see a particle of success in your risky adventure.
AUROBINDO (with a smile): Moni, it seems you are putting the cart before the horse.
(Bijoy bursts into a roar of laughter. Moni looks crestfallen.)
Act IX, Scene 8
(Shanker Chetty’s house. K.V. Rangaswamy Iyengar, the zamindar of Kodailam, comes to meet Aurobindo.)
K.V. IYENGAR (bowing down): I have come to place myself at your feet.
AUROBINDO: How do you mean?
K.V. IYENGAR: My Guru while leaving us for his Heavenly abode advised me to take spiritual help from you.
AUROBINDO: Me! How could he know of me?
K.V. IYENGAR: His words have come literally true.
K.V. IYENGAR: He said to me that a Purnayogi from the North would be coming to the South seeking refuge. Now that you are no more in the vortex of the country’s politics and have come here for a life of seclusion, I am sure that you are that very Purnayogi.
AUROBINDO (giving a smile): Is it so?
K.V. IYENGAR: I will come to you again with whatever help I can afford for your service. Pray give me your blessings. (Bowing down he looks up at Aurobindo’s face.)
AUROBINDO: My blessings are already with you.
Act IX, Scene 9
(Subramanya Bharati, the greatest poet of Tamil Nad, visibly excited sweeps into Aurobindo’s room.)
AUROBINDO: Why so excited?
BHARATI: There is a grave reason for it. The British Government have conspired with the French Administration to have us, the political refugees, moved out of Pondicherry.
BHARATI: We must escape. Immediately or as soon as possible.
BHARATI: To any of the three places — Jibuti, Indo-China or Tripoli.
AUROBINDO: Mr. Bharati, I am not going to budge an inch from Pondicherry. I know nothing will happen to me. As for yourself you can do what you like.
BHARATI: Your stand bewilders me. No, it inspires me. I will follow you, irrespective of what others may do.
AUROBINDO: Rest assured, nothing will happen to us.
BHARATI: I truly feel that not only Pondicherry is hallowed by the touch of your feet, but the whole of South India. No mere sentiment, this.
Act IX, Scene 10
(Aurobindo’s house, 41, Rue Francois Martin. Time: evening. Aurobindo and his associates. Enter Biren, Aurobindo’s cook.)
BIREN (addressing Aurobindo): I have been here in your service for six months. Now I long to go home. But before that I must disclose my identity. I was employed by the Bengal Intelligence Department to keep watch over you and send reports on your movements. I mean you and your associates. To my extreme amazement, I have always received the kindest possible treatment at your hands. None of you have felt the least bit of suspicion about me except, I fear, Moni Babu, and that too very recently.
MONI: Why do you think so?
BIREN: You always dress well and look smart. But you chose to shave your head the very day I shaved mine.
MONI: How does that prove I suspect you?
BIREN: I have shaved my head of set purpose, to be easily identified by the secret police here, and you have shaved to foil my purpose and puzzle them. Anyway, that is immaterial. I now want to take leave of you. But before I do so, I must make a clean breast of what I was here for.
MONI: Can you satisfy us that you are a B.I. spy?
BIREN: What more proof can I give than an offering to you, my master, of all my savings from the Government pay?
(He brings out of his pocket a sum of Rs. 50 and places it at the feet of Aurobindo. Tears run down his cheeks.)
BIREN: Sir, you have been all kindness to me. Be more kind to me and forgive me my gravest misdeed. (In a choked voice.) If you do not, my life-long remorse will be my life-long death. (In a trembling voice.) You, Sir…
AUROBINDO (compassionately): I wish you well. We will forget all this. Love your country. Live a better life.
Act X, Scene 1
(Aurobindo’s residence. 15 August 1913. Birthday celebration. A small gathering. Amrita pays his homage to Aurobindo for the first time. Time: 5:15 p.m. One of the callers garlands Aurobindo amidst cheers. The guests are seated in rows and served with sweets. Aurobindo slowly passes by, facing each of the party for a moment. Amrita’s eyes sparkle with delight. After the repast, the guests take leave of Aurobindo one by one. Amrita stays on.)
IYENGAR (to Amrita): You would see Babu privately?
AMRITA: That’s what my heart longs for.
IYENGAR: Then you’ll have to wait some time more. Three important persons, Bharati, Srinivasachari and V.V.S. Ayer, are expected. Do you want to meet Babu with them or with the inmates?
AMRITA: Preferably with the inmates.
IYENGAR: If so, you must wait.
(As these three leave after paying homage to Aurobindo they glance at Amrita with a shade of curiosity in their eyes as if to know if he wanted to be one of Aurobindo’s inmates. Time: 8:15 p.m. Aurobindo at a table. Amrita goes into Aurobindo’s Presence with folded hands, walks around him and finally stands in front for a moment, their eyes meeting. Aurobindo signals to an inmate to give Amrita a sweet. Amrita withdraws from the Presence, visibly moved.)
Act X, Scene 2
(1914. Calcutta. C.R. Das in his study with a friend. He is absorbed in reading the English version of one of the poems in his Sagar Sangit [Songs of the Sea] rendered by Sri Aurobindo. He reads aloud.)
All day within me only one music rings.
I have become a lyre of helpless strings,
And I am but a horn for thee to wind,
O vast musician! Take me, all thy mind
In light, in gloom, by day, by night express.
Into me, minstrel, breathe thy mightiness.
On solitary shores, in lonely skies,
In night’s huge sieges when the winds blow wild,
In many a lovely land of mysteries,
In many a shadowy realm, or where a child,
Dawn, bright and young, sweet unripe thoughts conceives,
Or through the indifferent calm desireless eves,
In magic night and magic light of thee,
Play on thy instrument, O Soul, O Sea.
C.R. DAS: Could any rendering be more beautiful than this? I, too, have attempted an English translation of the book. But mark the difference here between a born poet and a made poet. It can easily pass for original work, and as a true poet he has taken the liberty to improve upon the original in many places. To read his work is to enter into the splendour of Beauty that is Aurobindo. God has listened to my prayer. He had acted through me as an instrument in the Alipore Bomb Case and it was He who brought about Aurobindo’s release. Aurobindo is now His chosen instrument in His Play to save man from himself, the world from itself and set up His own Empire upon earth. Who knows that, in the great work of His re-creation of Man, Aurobindo will not release into our minds, hearts and souls a Himalayan stream of divine poetry?
FRIEND: Your prevision strikes an echoing note in the depths of my heart. The days are not far off when you may hear a call to participate in his great undertaking.
Act X, Scene 3
(Aurobindo’s house. Seated two of the inmates. 29 March 1914. Time: evening.)
A: Well, I have seen a new arrival from France meeting Aurobindo to-day. Do you know anything of her?
B: Only this much, that in France she was carrying on sadhana almost on Aurobindo’s lines — of course, without knowing it; and, what’s more, she had several visions of someone she called Sri Krishna!
A: Interesting! Wonderful, too! Then?
B: And the very moment she saw Aurobindo, she recognised him as the Krishna of her vision.
A: What predestination! This is the way the Divine does His work!
B: And you have marked how simple and affable she is as if she has come home to her own people.
A: That’s my feeling too. Over and above that, she inspires regard.
B: Quite natural for her personality, for one who could see Aurobindo inwardly from across the seas and who could tread the path the Master has chalked out for us here.
A: I marvel at the coincidence.
B: We may marvel, without doubt. The coincidence seems a symbol of West joining East in a great synthesis.
A: That is exactly my feeling.
B: Let us put this question to the Master. Let us hear him on the point.
A: Very well. To-morrow itself, if possible.
Act X, Scene 4
(The verandah of Aurobindo’s room. Time: evening. Date: 30 March 1914. Aurobindo seated in a chair on the verandah. A and B, his associates, seated opposite to his table.)
AUROBINDO: Anything you want to ask?
A: A little about the French lady who visited you yesterday, if you please.
B: The striking thing about her is that she seems to be home here among us, strangers, in a strange land in strange surroundings.
AUROBINDO: Long before her arrival here I had been aware of her. You will know her more and more from day to day. Even then she will be far above what you can know. As regards her being at home here, or in any other place, nothing would make any difference for her. She is in all the world and all the world is in her. In a large sense, she is an Indian soul born in a European body.
A and B (almost in one voice): A similar thought struck us yesterday — as if she would link up East and West in a golden chain.
SRI AUROBINDO (smiling): Yes, and much more.
Act X, Scene 5
(A’s room. Arrives B. Date: 31 March 1914.)
A: We have our Master’s view of the great lady. How to know her view of the Master?
B: I have had it and I am come to show it to you. The same thought was working in my mind, too. And happily I chanced to come across her and I seized the opportunity of sounding her on the point. And true to her simplicity and her kindness, she showed me her recorded view. Here it is. (He reads out).
“Le 30 Mars 1914
… //Peu importe qu’il y ait des milliers d’etres plonges dans la plus epaisse ignorance. Celui que nous avons vu hier est sur terre; sa presence suffit a prouver qu’un jour viendra ou l’ombre sera transformee en lumiere, et ou effectivement, Ton regne sera instaure sur la terre// …1 <br \> […it matters not if there are hundreds of beings plunged in the densest ignorance. He whom we saw yesterday is on earth: His presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, when Thy reign shall be, indeed, established upon earth.]”<br \></div></html>
A: Oh, a revelation! Read it again.
B: To be sure, it’s a light to our blind eyes. It is God’s Blessings received through her. We are infinitely blessed to have been at his feet. So is India, so is the world,
A: And the few words of Aurobindo about her are packed with a far-reaching significance.
B: Certainly. We have now come to a radical turn in the course of our life here.
- DB 84,5. La Mere, Prieres et Meditations.↩
Act X, Scene 6
(Pondicherry. Aurobindo’s house. The Mother looking up the Arya accounts, etc. Amrita comes in with a heap of the morning mail. Placing it on Aurobindo’s table, he lingers.)
AUROBINDO (looking at Amrita): Yes, Amrita?
(Amrita had the standing instructions of Aurobindo that he should remind him of the matter for the Arya a week before the day fixed for going to press.)
AMRITA: I am reminding you about matter for the Arya, please. Just seven days left.
AUROBINDO: Oh yes. Thank you. I shall set about it forthwith.
AMRITA: But once you sit at your desk you will forget everything else and go on till you finish. Why not dispose of the post first?
AUROBINDO: Very well. You are always business-like. That’s all to the good.
(Running his eyes through the letters, one by one, he writes marginal notes, and stops short at one.)
AUROBINDO: Here’s a reader of the Arya asking me how I, a literary man and a politician, could become all of a sudden an out-and-out philosopher! It has struck him rightly. I must write to him that I knew precious little about philosophy before I did the Yoga and came to Pondicherry. How did I manage to do it and why? Because X proposed to me to co-operate in a philosophical review — and my theory was that a Yogi ought to be able to turn his hand to anything…
AMRITA: But it has never struck me as strange. Your articles, even your speeches, were at no time unmixed politics or pure literature. They have always been a happy blend of all the three, each at its best — I mean, politics, literature and philosophy, although the fire of love of country and her freedom predominated.
AUROBINDO: But hasn’t the Arya a different complexion altogether?
AUROBINDO: Then you concede that he is justified in asking me…
AMRITA: I do. Oh, that the man in question could see you filling page after page without halting anywhere, as if your very fingers were inspired!
AUROBINDO: But that is exactly the truth! Strange to say, a Power comes directly into the fingers, as if it did not have to pass through anything else! Just now I said that a Yogi should be able to turn his hand to anything. Well, the word “hand” can be applied in a very literal sense where the Arya articles are concerned.
Now take these letters and make up replies from my marginal notes. Let me now start work.
Act X, Scene 7
(Residence of the Tagores, Calcutta. Seated Dwijendranath, the eldest brother of Rabindranath, in his study. He sends for his personal secretary, Anilkumar Mitra. Enter Anil.)
DWIJENDRANATH: Have you received the latest issue of the Arya?
ANIL: Yes, Sir. It has just come. I am bringing it. Anything else?
DWIJENDRANATH: Do you read it as regularly as I?
ANIL: No, Sir. I tried for a time but found it brain-racking, too high, too deep for my intellect.
DWIJENDRANATH: Ah, my friend, that’s a wrong approach. It’s no intellectual pabulum. It’s for the soul. From my study of the whole range of philosophy, Eastern and Western, I can freely declare that what Aurobindo Ghosh says in his articles has never been said by anybody else anywhere. (After a pause.) Go deeper than your intellect when you read the Arya next and you’ll find it clearer.
Act X, Scene 8
(1918. A.B. Purani’s first visit to Aurobindo. No. 41, Rue Francois Martin, the Arya Office.)
AUROBINDO: How are you getting on with your Sadhana?
PURANI: It is difficult to concentrate on it so long as India is not free.1
AUROBINDO: Perhaps it may not be necessary to resort to revolutionary activity to free India.
PURANI (all surprise): But without that how is the British Government to go from India?
AUROBINDO: That is another question; but if India can be free without revolutionary activity, why should you execute the plan? It is better to concentrate on yoga — the spiritual practice… Suppose an assurance is given to you that India will be free?
PURANI (knowing full well that Aurobindo alone can assure him): Who can give such an assurance?
AUROBINDO: Suppose I give you the assurance?
PURANI: If you give the assurance, then I can accept it.
AUROBINDO: Then I give you the assurance that India will be free.
PURANI (apologetically): Are you quite sure that India will be free?
AUROBINDO: You can take it from me, it is as certain as the rising of the sun to-morrow. The decree has already gone forth…”
(Being fully convinced of India’s freedom Purani bows down to Aurobindo and takes leave of him.)
- DB 87,3-12. Lines until the end of Act X, Scene 8 are taken from A. B. Purani’s Evening Talks.↩
Act X, Scene 9
(Calcutta. Barin receives a letter in Bengali from Aurobindo, dated 7 April 1920, after his release from the Andamans. His joy knows no bounds.)
BARIN (reading aloud): “First about your Yoga. You wish to give me the charge of your Yoga, and I am willing to take it, that is to say, to give it to Him who is moving by his divine Shakti both you and myself, whether secretly or openly. But you must know the necessary result will be that you will have to follow that special way which He has given to me and which I call the integral Yoga.”
(Barin looks into the distance…)
BARIN: Rest assured, I will do my utmost to follow your directions.
(He continues reading.)
“After these fifteen years I am only now rising into the lowest of the three levels of the Supermind and trying to draw up into it all the lower activities. But when this Siddhi will be complete then I am absolutely certain that God will through me give Siddhi of the Supermind to others with less difficulty.”
(His face lights up.)
BARIN: Your words open a vast world of undreamt-of possibilities for us. Your Supramental Siddhi will be a landmark in the history of human evolution. And you will put India in the centre of the world-map for all future.
(He continues reading.)
“I do not want hundreds of thousands of disciples. It will be enough if I can get a hundred men, empty of petty egoism, who will be instruments of God.”
(With a sigh — and then a smile.)
BARIN: Ah, here is the snag. Well, Sejda, have you ever moved back even by a single step from any difficulty in life? You, who have already achieved the impossible, will it not be within your power to turn crude matter like us into your “complete” men? So long as we have you as our Head, we have no fear. Your work must triumph.
Act XI, Scene 11
(1923. Sri Aurobindo and a Gujarati disciple, Punamchand)
PUNAMCHAND: Before I settle down here as a permanent sadhak, may I have your permission to go home and come back with my wife?
SRI AUROBINDO: Yes. What is Champaklal doing there? Bring Champaklal with you also.
(To Champaklal this remembrance of him by Sri Aurobindo and the spontaneous call to him are a most cherished memory. He first came to Sri Aurobindo in 1921 as a boy of 18. Now in 1923 he comes to stay for good. The Mother and Champaklal.)
CHAMPAKLAL: My Mother, I intend to wash my Father’s dhoti.
MOTHER: I shall speak to Sri Aurobindo.
(Exit the Mother. Enter Sri Aurobindo)
SRI AUROBINDO: You want to wash my dhoti! People will laugh at you, joke about you, mock you. Are you ready?
CHAMPAKLAL (firmly): I am, Father.
- DB 89. Adapted from Narayan Prasad’s Life in Sri Aurobindo Ashram.↩
Act XI, Scene 2
(5 June 1923. Sri Aurobindo and C.R. Das. Sri Aurobindo’s residence, Pondicherry.)
C.R. DAS: A serious problem, Aurobindo.
SRI AUROBINDO: What is it?
C.R. DAS: I wish to take to spirituality.
SRI AUROBINDO (smiling): How can it be a problem at all?
C.R. DAS: It is, Aurobindo.
SRI AUROBINDO: How?
C.R. DAS: Politics dogs me night and day.
SRI AUROBINDO: But you know the two cannot normally go together. The aims and ideals of the usual political activity are almost always opposed to those of spirituality, to say nothing of the forces at work in politics…
C.R. DAS: Ah, you have understood my problem. Aurobindo, help me into the spiritual life.
SRI AUROBINDO: I wish I could.
C.R. DAS: What prevents you, dear friend? Aurobindo, you are to me something far more than even a dear friend. And you know that.
SRI AUROBINDO: Chitta, you must be aware that you cannot make satisfactory progress in your inner life if you do not move away altogether from absorption in politics. It influences the consciousness in a very undesirable way.
C.R. DAS: You are perfectly right. But…
SRI AUROBINDO: I understand your difficulty. All right, then; you go on with your political activities, but at the same time do your best to live your inner life. Gradually you may find that your interest in politics is giving way to your interest in a higher life.
C.R. DAS: What a burden you have taken off my shoulders! I see a way of light and breathe in a little fresh air. But one thing more. I need your help also in another matter. Our “Swarajya Party” needs your unstinted support.
SRI AUROBINDO: I feel strongly for it. I give its stand my full inner support. You will always feel my presence in it.
C.R. DAS: I feel doubly relieved. With your presence in me all will go well with me. Do you remember my prophecy about you at the Trial? — “His words will be echoed and re-echoed…”
SRI AUROBINDO: But what would Norton think of you if he were to overhear you?
C.R. DAS: Oh, he is now a different man. He works hand in hand with me. He now appears against the Government in political cases.
SRI AUROBINDO: Good that he is now on the side of the weak and the striving. His chivalry will pay.
Act XI, Scene 3
(1923. Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo’s residence. Enter T.V. Kapali Sastri, an eminent Sanskrit scholar of South India.)
KAPALI (bowing his head to Sri Aurobindo): Sir, six years back when I first came to you I asked you about India’s possibilities and you gave me an inspiring answer, “not possibility but certainty”. This time you are giving me another inspiring thing — your golden complexion. It is no longer deep brown as before. In you, Yoga incarnate carries now its true complexion.
Now I have come, my mind made up once for all, to throw myself at your feet and upon your Grace for ever. Pray, how should I proceed in the first step of your Yoga?
SRI AUROBINDO: My Yoga aims at transformation of the whole being, not excluding the physical.
KAPALI: How and where to begin?
SRI AUROBINDO: One has to bring the Divine Consciousness right down into the very cells.
KAPALI: Too difficult even to think of. But I cannot try the too-hard so soon. I repeat, I throw myself at your feet and upon your Grace, now and for ever. Do with me as you please.
(Sri Aurobindo gives a gracious smile and a nodding assent. With a parting pranam Kapali leaves the Master’s presence, profoundly happy.)
Act XI, Scene 4
(1925. Pondicherry. Naren Das Gupta visits Sri Aurobindo.)
SRI AUROBINDO: Naren, how are you getting on with your sadhana?
NAREN: My sadhana! That you know better than I.
SRI AUROBINDO: Of late I have received a number of letters about you from the Professor of English, Feni College. Some time ago your indifference to earthly life and austere method of sadhana caused much fear in your friends. Besides the Professor, others too have written to me of your exclusive absorption in sadhana. Do you know what I have replied to them? I have asked them not to disturb you in any way, adding that all will be well.
NAREN (shedding tears of delight): They did all that! And received directions from you! I was all in the dark. Now I have a prayer.
SRI AUROBINDO: What is it?
NAREN: I wish to see the Mother before I leave for Bengal.
SRI AUROBINDO: Ah, that’s your prayer!
(Exit Sri Aurobindo.)
NAREN (to himself): Oh my Guru, strange are your ways, more so is your affection for your sons. Pondicherry is a far cry from Feni. Your Grace and Presence nullify Space and Time.
(Enter the Mother.)
NAREN (prostrating himself before the Mother): Mother, I must leave for Bengal.
THE MOTHER: You must?
NAREN (apologetically): Yes, Mother. There is no other way.
THE MOTHER: Why do you want to go?
NAREN: It’s the family pull, Mother.
THE MOTHER: How long will it go on?
NAREN: I am now going to pull the family here and leave it at your Feet.
THE MOTHER (with a compassionate smile): That’s fine.
Act XI, Scene 5
(24 November 1926. Amrita comes down from upstairs and starts informing the disciples of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo to assemble in the upstairs verandah facing the Prosperity room.)
6:30 p.m. Barin, Nolini, Amrita, Purani, Champaklal, Pujalal, Rajani Palit… Twenty-four all told are seated on mats. 7 p.m. Enter the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.)
NOLINI (looking all around): Satyen has not come. Shall I call him?
THE MOTHER: Yes, all, all.
(Sri Aurobindo takes his seat in a low cushioned chair, while the Mother is on his foot-rest a few inches to the left. He stretches out his left hand over the Mother’s head, and with the right begins to bless all the disciples who are bowing to him and the Mother, one after another. A complete silence. Sri Aurobindo looks Omniscience and Omnipotence. The Mother looks Eternal Love and Compassion.)
DATTA (inspired): “The Lord has descended. He has conquered death and sorrow. He has brought down Immortality.”
RAJANI (in a whisper): Barin-da, I have a special request. I am in a terrible fix.
BARIN: What is wrong?
RAJANI: I feel I am in Heaven. The pressure is simply unbearable. Please tell the Mother that I must tell her a few words.
BARIN: Rajani, you are not the only case. It is more or less the same with every one of us.
RAJANI: Maybe. But that is no concern of mine. I pray you to plead with the Mother for my sake.
BARIN: I shall try. More than that is beyond me to-day.
RAJANI: Barin-da, how I wish to hear from you what has actually happened to-day.
BARIN: Rajani, (with a broad smile) your Barin-da is as blind as you.
Act XII, Scene 1
(Early 1927. A Parsi youth of twenty-two, seeking out ochre-robed sadhus in various corners of Bombay. His studies, his own literary talents, his ultra-modern frame of mind, the ease and comfort of his home-life, all that is beautiful in the visible and the known have lost their charm for him. A sudden touch from somewhere has cut him off from his moorings. He is drifting about in a quest of the Unknown. Some method of meditation he has gathered and tried. Yet his thirst grows on unappeased. Now he comes across a Theosophist and questions him.)
THE THEOSOPHIST (after a little talk): Excuse me, young man, you are a complex problem.
THE YOUTH: How?
THE THEOSOPHIST: There is a passion for poetry in you and there is also an urge towards philosophy.
THE YOUTH: But now I am swayed by neither. The one thing that is master in me at present is a pull towards the Unknown.
THE THEOSOPHIST: True. But the other things have only got pushed into the background. They are biding their time.
THE YOUTH: I don’t think so.
THE THEOSOPHIST: Human nature is not so simple. All the elements in you will come up at their proper moment.
THE YOUTH: What am I to do, then?
THE THEOSOPHIST: Nobody can take you up in all your complexity, except one Master.
THE YOUTH (eagerly): Who, please?
THE THEOSOPHIST: Aurobindo Ghose of Pondicherry. He has the Cosmic Consciousness.
(The very mention of the name acts like another mysterious touch, a saving, answering touch. The Parsi youth stands still a few fateful moments. The Theosophist scans his face. Sometime later, the youth goes to Bombay’s Crawford Market for a new pair of shoes. Back home, as he unwraps the shoe-box, right before his eyes falls that part of the newspaper sheet which bears in bold type the headline “The Ashram of Aurobindo Ghose”. The third touch? Assuredly the youth takes it as a “sun-burst”. He devours the long article written by a visitor and finds in it the needed fact: the prospect of a new existence, not rejecting but transforming common life and its concerns. Also, for the first time he comes across those words: “The Mother.”)
K.D. SETHNA (speaking to himself): Here’s the end of my search. I must write to the Ashram authorities. But will they accept me?
Act XII, Scene 2
(Chittagong. Two disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.)
A: I have time and again told you that the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are one.
B: But have you ever felt it?
A: I have no need to feel it. I know they are one.
B: But how?
A: How? Sri Aurobindo has clearly said that his Consciousness and the Mother’s are one and the same.
B: You think I have no faith in Sri Aurobindo?
A: If you have, then why such hesitation?
B: Not actually hesitation, but…
A: You must not call yourself a disciple of Sri Aurobindo if you fail to believe in him. Apart from it, it is you who will be the loser, if you are wanting in faith in him. I can tell you something quite striking. Just yesterday when my mother had a heart attack I called upon Sri Aurobindo to protect her. Whom I actually saw, you know, was the Mother by the side of my mother. And to the surprise of the doctor and others my mother has come round. And to-day when I concentrated on the Mother out of the fulness of my grateful heart I saw Sri Aurobindo before me with his benign smile.
B (clasping A): True! I fully believe you. Now tell me a little more about their oneness of being and action.
A: Sri Aurobindo says: “The Mother’s consciousness and mine are the same, the one Divine Consciousness in two, because that is necessary for the play. Nothing can be done without her knowledge and force, without her consciousness — if anybody really feels her consciousness, he should know that I am there behind it and if he feels me it is the same with hers.”
Act XII, Scene 3
(Ashram. Sri Aurobindo alone in his room, surveying within himself his ideal and his mission.)
SRI AUROBINDO: “It is not for personal greatness that I am seeking to bring down the Supermind. I care nothing for greatness or littleness in the human sense. I am seeking to bring some principle of inner Truth, Light, Harmony, Peace into the earth-consciousness; I see it Above and know what it is — I feel it ever gleaming down on my consciousness from Above and I am seeking to make it possible for it to take up the whole being into its own native power, instead of the nature of man continuing to remain in half-light, half-darkness. I believe the descent of this Truth opening the way to a development of divine consciousness here to be the final sense of the earth evolution. If greater men than myself have not had this vision and this ideal before them that is no reason why I should not follow my Truth-sense and Truth-vision. If human reason regards me as a fool for trying to do what Krishna did not try, I do not in the least care. There is no question of X or Y or anybody else in that. It is a question between the Divine and myself — whether it is the Divine Will or not, whether I am sent to bring that down or open the way for its descent or at least make it more possible or not. Let all men jeer at me if they will or all Hell fall upon me if it will for my presumption, — I go on till I conquer or perish. This is the spirit in which I seek the Supermind, no hunting for greatness for myself or others.
“I have no intention of achieving the Supermind for myself only — I am not doing anything for myself, as I have no personal need of anything, neither of salvation (moksa) nor supramentalisation. If I am seeking after supramentalisation, it is because it is a thing that has to be done for the earth-consciousness and if it is not done in myself, it cannot be done in others. My supramentalism is only a key for opening the gates of the Supramental to the earth-consciousness; done for its own sake, it would be perfectly futile.”
Act XII, Scene 4
(Ashram. A visiting sadhak and Sri Aurobindo.)
SADHAK: It seems both you and the Mother are working hard for a new humanity to begin on earth. Is it not only the Orient who will be able to rise to the occasion? To be more precise, those alone who belong to this land of ours, where the Indian race has done Yoga for millenniums, seem capable of realising your Supermind. What about other peoples?
SRI AUROBINDO: “We are not working for a race or a people or a continent or for a realisation of which only Indians or only Orientals are capable. Our aim is not either to found a religion or a school or philosophy or a school of Yoga, but to create a ground and a way of spiritual growth and experience and a way which will bring down a great Truth beyond the mind but not inaccessible to the human soul and consciousness. All can pass who are drawn to that Truth, whether they are from India or elsewhere, from the East or from the West.”
Act XII, Scene 5
(The Mother and an inmate of the Ashram.)
INMATE: Mother, we know that you are always with us. But in what sense? Please throw some light on this query of ours.
MOTHER: “I am with you, that signifies a world of things, because I am with you on all levels, in all planes, from the supreme Consciousness down to the most physical; here, at Pondicherry, you cannot breathe without breathing my consciousness… There is a special personal tie between you and me, between all who have turned to Sri Aurobindo’s and my teaching, — it is well understood, distance does not count here, you may be in France, you may be at the other end of the world or at Pondicherry, the tie is always true and living. And each time there comes a call, each time there is a need for me to know so that I may send out a force, an inspiration, protection or any other thing, a sort of message comes to me all of a sudden and I do the needful… With those whom I have accepted as disciples, to whom I have said ‘yes’, there is more than a tie, there is an emanation of me.”
Act XII, Scene 6
(January 1928. The old Library room in the Ashram. An interview with the Mother. Having turned his back upon his old life, K.D. Sethna, afterwards renamed Amal Kiran by Sri Aurobindo, sits smartly dressed in European style, facing the Mother across a table.)
SETHNA: Mother, I have seen the world thoroughly. No more of it. I am sick of intellectual pursuits as well. Now I want nothing except God.
MOTHER: You have seen the world thoroughly? How old are you?
MOTHER: Only twenty-three and…
SETHNA: Yes, Mother. Can I stay here for good?
MOTHER (compassionately): Don’t decide in a hurry. Stay here now and see how it suits you. Then…
(The Mother rises.)
SETHNA: Wait a moment, Mother. Let me make my pranam to you. You know, we Indians make a pranam to our Guru.
(The Mother smiles. She does not mention that at least a hundred times each day the Ashramites make pranams to her. Sethna prostrates before her. She blesses him. Later she relates to Sri Aurobindo how a young Parsi “taught” her the Indian way with one’s Guru! Sri Aurobindo enjoys the joke.)
(Some weeks later. Sea-side, Pondicherry. Sethna, meditating alone in the morning on the pier. He was worrying in his mind about not having an opening in the heart or any extraordinary spiritual experience. He had been told that he might think of a book in the heart, opening. The mention of a book had put him out a little, for he was sick of the mental pursuits associated with books. In the course of his meditation now, he felt as if the sea were swaying right through his heart in a rhythm of wide delight.)
(Some time after 21 February 1928, when Sethna has his first Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Sethna and the Mother.)
SETHNA: May I ask if Sri Aurobindo has said anything about me?
MOTHER: “He has a good face.” That’s what Sri Aurobindo has said.
(The remark strikes home. Sethna is all surprise. He at once remembers that he himself had fixedly scanned Sri Aurobindo’s own face at the Darshan moments and found it “good”!)
(15 August 1928. Sethna had his second Darshan, and offers to Sri Aurobindo a poem of his. He comes downstairs into Purani’s room and sits still, head bent in dejection. He seemed to have lost the inner consciousness that had abided with him for a long time, almost starting from that moment at the sea-side. He had somehow faced Sri Aurobindo now with the outer mind again.)
PURANI: What’s the matter?
SETHNA: I don’t know.
(Suddenly he feels as if a huge solid mass were pressing from above into his head, causing giddiness, bringing strange tears into the eyes and making the heart beat wildly with joy. In the afternoon he comes to the Mother to receive a Blessing-garland from her. The Mother takes him into her interview-room.)
MOTHER: Do you know what Sri Aurobindo has said this time? There is a great change in you, he has said, and he is very pleased.
(Sethna falls at the Mother’s feet and takes her Blessing.)
Act XII, Scene 7
(Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Time: 10 a.m. 29 May 1928. Sri Aurobindo and, at a distance, the Mother. Sri Aurobindo had sent his secretary Nolini Kanta Gupta to receive Rabindranath Tagore on board the steamer when it was berthed at the pier, and escort him upstairs into the Darshan Room. The Poet came up the stairs and, throwing off his cap and shoes, rushed in, hands outstretched, at the sight of Sri Aurobindo standing at the other end of the room. Sri Aurobindo caught his hands and requested him to sit in a chair. At this first look and touch, the Poet appeared overwhelmed and drawn back within himself.)
TAGORE: It is eighteen years since you left Bengal. All this time I have longed, off and on, to see you. My longing is fulfilled to-day. But I know it couldn’t have been if you hadn’t made a special concession for me. Hence, I am all the more grateful to you. As I have already written to you, I am now on my way to Europe. I ask: if they want to know of you, what shall I tell them?
SRI AUROBINDO: I, too, am glad to meet you. As for Europe, if they want to know of me, they are free to come here. My Ashram is open to sincere seekers from anywhere.
TAGORE: I wonder how you can run your Ashram and do your world-wide work from within your room in a corner of the earth. My wonder increases a hundred-fold when I think of my tremendous struggle and labour, in India and abroad, for the Viswabharati. Now I am out seeking help overseas.
SRI AUROBINDO: I am not troubled about the future. It’s the Divine’s work which the Divine does.
(Exit Rabindranath quite a different man. He had come all the way upstairs, talking with Nolini Kanta, complimenting him on his literary abilities, appreciating his originality and terseness of expression of thought and wishing him to turn to short stories: in a word, he was vivacious and “social”. After the interview with Sri Aurobindo he came down concentrated and silent. Returning to the steamer he shut himself up in a cabin and spent a long time alone. The Poet’s classic reaction to the interview came out in the Modern Review of Calcutta some time after.)
Act XIII, Scene 1
(1940. An eminent Indian political leader and a well-known disciple of Sri Aurobindo.)
LEADER: What does your Guru say about the outcome of the War?
DISCIPLE: He says the Allies will win and he is doing his best to see that they win.
LEADER: The Allies despite their series of reverses and their ineptitude? And, even if they win, won’t their victory reinforce and perpetuate their imperialism?
DISCIPLE: None knows the Allies, their ins and outs, more than Sri Aurobindo, and none has given the British Empire a greater shake-up than he.
LEADER: And yet he lends them his support? Indeed, it is a puzzle to me.
DISCIPLE: No puzzle. He has given his crystal-clear and far-reaching reasons for his stand.
LEADER: Tell me, please.
DISCIPLE: The Allies will stand for freedom and progress, whereas the axis-powers for world domination. And the axis-powers in the ascendant will throw the world back into serfdom. He has written, speaking for the Mother and himself:
“We feel that not only is this a battle waged in just self-defence and in defence of the nations threatened with the world-domination of Germany and the Nazi system of life, but that it is a defence of civilisation and its highest attained social, cultural and spiritual values and of the whole future of humanity. To this cause our support and sympathy will be unswerving whatever may happen; we look forward to the victory of Britain and, as the eventual result, an era of peace and union among the nations and a better and more secure world-order.”
LEADER: Those who know Sri Aurobindo well may share his view but the multitude…
DISCIPLE (interrupting): The Seer and the multitude… When did they ever see eye to eye?
Act XIII, Scene 2
(On the eve of India’s Independence, 15 August 1947. Sri Aurobindo’s room. A disciple and Sri Aurobindo.)
DISCIPLE: To-morrow is your birthday and India’s — India’s rebirth in independence. A divine coincidence. The occasion has attracted an unusually large number of visitors for Darshan.
SRI AUROBINDO: It is no accident, to be sure.
DISCIPLE: It is the victory of the struggle for independence you led under the captaincy of God, the fulfilment of the word He gave you in Alipore Jail. The Mother has had a flag-staff set up on the top of your room. To-morrow she is going to hoist the flag, because it is India’s spiritual flag as well.
SRI AUROBINDO: You are right. But a divided India is a mixed blessing. It will entail on the Mother a continuing burden of problems till India has attained her integral solidarity.
DISCIPLE: I am sure, if that is God’s Will the Mother will bear it with your help and guidance. No truth can rest divided for long.
SRI AUROBINDO: That’s it. All divisions all over the world must go before it becomes one for the ONE. His Will will triumph over human folly.
Act XIII, Scene 31
(Sri Aurobindo’s room. Sri Aurobindo and his scribe, Nirod.)
SRI AUROBINDO: Take up Savitri. I want to finish it soon.
(Puzzled at the words Nirod looks at the Master’s face and finds it impassive. He reads out.)
A day may come when she must stand unhelped
On a dangerous brink of the world’s doom and hers.
In that tremendous silence lone and lost
Cry not to Heaven, for she alone can help.
She only can save herself and save the world.
SRI AUROBINDO: Ah, it is finished? What is left now?
NIROD: The Book of Death and the Epilogue.
SRI AUROBINDO: Ah, that? We shall see about that later on.
- DB 103. Based on Nirodbaran’s booklet I am Here! I am Here!↩
Act XIII, Scene 4
(4 December 1950. Sri Aurobindo has not been keeping well for some time. But to-day he seems to feel better. He sits in a chair in spite of his attendants’ objections.)
AN ATTENDANT: At last, our prayer has been heard! Are you not using your force to get rid of the disease?
SRI AUROBINDO: No.
AN ATTENDANT (failing to believe his ears): Why not? If you don’t use the force, how is the disease going to be cured?
SRI AUROBINDO: Can’t explain; you won’t understand.
Act XIII, Scene 5
(Sri Aurobindo’s passing. Date: 5 December 1950. Ashram premises. Inmates in tears. A disciple comes down with a message from the Mother and reads.)
“To grieve is an insult to Sri Aurobindo, who is here with us conscious and alive.”
(A profound stillness falls over all. Into drooping spirits passes the force of the Mother’s words. An air of assurance reigns. Tears give way to confidence.)
Act XIII, Scene 6
(Outside the Ashram. A and B, two disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, in a reminiscent mood.)
B: Mother’s words have put heart into me. Oh, what a folly had overtaken me! Sri Aurobindo is above Life and Death — the one cannot bind Him, the other cannot touch Him.
A: That’s what the Master Yogi is. And even more. His physical presence in the Ashram was never its confinement. With the whole earth for his sphere of action, he was wherever his presence was called for. Space and Time are for us humans, not for the Master of Supramental Yoga. Let us never forget what the Mother has said:
“9 DECEMBER 1950
TO THEE WHO HAST BEEN THE MATERIAL ENVELOPE OF OUR MASTER, TO THEE OUR INFINITE GRATITUDE. BEFORE THEE WHO HAST DONE SO MUCH FOR US, WHO HAST WORKED, STRUGGLED, SUFFERED, HOPED, ENDURED SO MUCH, BEFORE THEE WHO HAST WILLED ALL, ATTEMPTED ALL, PREPARED, ACHIEVED ALL FOR US, BEFORE THEE WE BOW DOWN AND IMPLORE THAT WE MAY NEVER FORGET EVEN FOR A MOMENT, ALL WE OWE TO THEE.”
(The plates bearing these words of the Mother in English translation and in the French original are fixed on the two sides of the Samadhi, north and south. They attract an assembly of sadhaks, coming up, reading it and pausing beside it, file after file, in a meditative silence.)
Printed from 1958 to 1962 in the Mother India, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Monthly Review of Culture.
(Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, The Descent of the Blue, Sri Chinmoy Lighthouse, 1972)