A life divine Rohan Roy the statesman Thursday, 9 August 2007
On 15 August 1872 a new sun dawned on earth. A messiah was born in the British colony of India. He is none other than the divine Rishi, Aurobindo who was born in Kolkata on 15 August. He was named Aurobindo meaning ‘lotus’. Its spiritual meaning is ‘Divine consciousness’. An all-rounder in his activities, he acted as a revolutionary, a preacher of Nirvana and was also an excellent student. All these rare qualities make this great sage memorable even today. It might appear to be a coincidence that his birthday falls on the same day as the Indian independence. In his words, “As a mystic I take this coincidence or fortuitous accident, but as a sanction and seal of the divine power which guide my steps on the work with which I began life”.
Like many others at that time Aurobindo Ghosh was fortunate to belong to a large family. His father Krishnadhan Ghosh was a reputed doctor and his mother was Swarnalata. He had three brothers and one sister. Later Aurobindo was married to Mrinalini. Catering to Krishnadhan’s wish Aurabindo and his three brothers were sent to London to study and were admitted to St Paul’s school. Throughout his childhood he had been a promising student. He passed the ICS examination with flying colours, secured the eleventh position and scored a record marks in Greek and Latin. But later as he was absent for the riding test he failed in the exam. Then in 1890, he was admitted to the King’s College, Cambridge. In 1893, Aurobindo returned to India and joined the Baroda College and eventually became the vice principal.
His vision of a free nation urged him to indulge in politics for three purposes - revolution, national movement and mass organisation. His idea was that though India was not armed with modern weapons, it had a huge population. Aurobindo believed that unity could only overthrow British rule.
The British rule was at its zenith when Bipin Chandra Pal started publishing a magazine titled Bande Mataram. He invited Sri Aurobindo to join it. Aurobindo readily accepted this offer because he felt this was an apt stage where he could express his hatred for the British government. He penned down fiery articles criticising the government day after day. It was one of the journals which spread revolutionary ideas in the country and awakened the common people.
Aurobindo being a hardliner, formed a National Party of extremists and made Tilak of Maharashtra the president. Aurobindo’s popularity made him the leader of India over the ruling Congress party.
In 1908, Aurobindo was arrested and imprisoned on charges of waging war against the British. Sri Aurobindo was confined in a cell measuring about nine feet by six feet. There was no end of torture done to him. He later said that it was because of God’s call that he had been to jail. He remained completely engrossed in meditation and supernatural incidents like levitation. After his release from jail, a radical change was marked in this great man who from then on devoted himself to lead the life of a yogi. After this change he retired from politics completely and devoted himself towards yoga and poetry.
Aurobindo had once asserted “I am first a poet and a politician, not a yogi or a philosopher”. In his words literature and poetry would be his constant companions throughout his life. Even during his active participation in the freedom movement of India, he continued composing awesome poems. Art and Poetry, he professed led to salvation. The journal Induprakash first introduced Aurobindo as a writer. His essays created deep impact on the learned class.
On 15 August, 1947 India achieved independence. In his words “August 15th is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the beginning of a new age”. Later as the editor of Bande Mataram he composed powerful articles which highlighted the torture that the Indians were subjected to by the British. He also published a number of his books in the monthly magazine Arya.
Some of these books are The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Human Cycle and Savitri. These writings are masterpieces as they are rare examples of his excellent language and spiritual philosophy that continue to puzzle scholars and philosophers. The Life Divine remains an enigma to many philosophers. On 5 December 1950 this celestial spirit left his body and departed for his heavenly abode. Rohan Roy, Class VIII, St Joseph’s College