Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo
THE ALIPORE TRIAL
Court Translation of a Bengali Letter of Sri Aurobindo
C/o Rai Bahadur
Came to Baroda from Lanabali fifteen days since. Got your letter once; none afterwards. Hope you will write after six or seven days, but if I get no news, I shall suppose you to be ill. I may not write to you because I have had many a business, so may be late now and then. But your not writing shows that it must be due to no other reason than illness.
Sent Rs. 10; hope you got it. Forgot to write one word in the letter. You said you have got a horoscope; send it to me. Jotin Bannerjee is here and I wish to show it to him. I have faith in astrology ten years experience confirmed. But also amongst a thousand, nine hundred know nothing about it. Few know but more make mistakes, e.g. non-performance of the coronation ceremony of the English King this year was declared several months ago causes even. If there be evil consequences then there are means of knowing them beforehand as they can be cured often. If horoscope cant be found, exact time of birth will do, but even the very minute must be correct.
Nothing important. It is difficult for me to digest so large quantities of flesh. No rains and so famine a sahib meteorological officer gives the same conclusion. When reading these things, I was rather wishing to blow the head of the fellow away from his body, but I took patience because the mere blowing of his head will not make rain come. The God of India will not take this sacrifice of a non-Hindu.
I answered two letters and one is in process. Even Ganesh himself could not cope with that sort of skilful writer, not to speak of my humble self.
I remain anxiously anticipating your illness.
P.S. I cannot decide which one to select among the pictures. I shall send within two days by casting lots good or bad.
Alipore Bomb Trial Exhibit No. 292
Court Translation of a Bengali Letter of Sri Aurobindo
[22 October 1905]
My dearest Mrinalini,
I am in receipt of your letter. I have not written you since a long time. Do not take it amiss. Why are you so much anxious about my health? I never suffer you know, except from cold and cough. Bari is here. He is in an exceedingly bad state of health. His fever is often accompanied by complications but with all his ailments, his energy never flags. He never sits quiet. As soon as he gets a little better, he goes out in the service of his country. He will never take up service, I will not of course write Sarojini about these matters, nor should you do so. She would then get mad with anxiety. I hope I will go to Calcutta in November. There I have many things to do.
That long letter of yours gave me no reason to despair. I was rather glad. If Sarojini learns to practise self-denial like you, it will help me much in my future (plan of) work. But this is not to be. Her desire for future happiness is very strong. I know not whether she will ever be able to overcome it. Gods will be done. Your letter is lost amongst a heap of papers. I will find it out. I will write again as soon as I have found it out. It is time for evening (?) prayer. I stop here for the day. I am well, you should not give way to anxiety even if you do not hear from me. What ailment will overtake me (that you are afraid of)? I hope you all are quite well.
What need have you for my name. Will not this dash do?
Alipore Bomb Trial Exhibit No. 286/4
Receipt for Rent of 23 Scotts Lane
Calcutta, 1st March, 1908.
E. & O. Received payment,
Alipore Bomb Trial Exhibit No. 311/3
Note by the Director of Criminal Intelligence on the Calcutta Revolutionary Societys School
Notes in the Criminal Intelligence Office.
The training school of the secret Society inaugurated by Arabindo and Barindra Kumar Ghosh was located in their garden, 32, Muraripukur Lane, Manicktola, in the suburbs of Calcutta.
I annex six photos which the Commissioner of Police has had prepared:
This garden was constituted the head-quarters of the secret revolutionary society in July 1907. Barin in his confession to the police explained that he started his campaign, which aimed at securing the independence of his motherland, in 1902 by preaching his views with the assistance of his friends in many parts of Bengal and by starting akharas for lathi play in several districts of the two Bengal provinces. After doing this for about a year he returned to Baroda where his brother Arabindo was still employed. In 1905, consequent on the partition of Bengal, most of those whose sympathies were alienated from the Government devoted themselves to swadeshi enterprise and boycott, and consequently Barindra felt that he must rely on himself for carrying on revolutionary work on the lines which he desired and he determined to get recruits from various parts of Bengal to become members of the secret society which would form the nucleus of a party to rise against the British Government. He furnishes the names of 16 students who attended the training school during the period of its existence, and he says that the members of this society used to live together, eat together, and discuss political methods necessary to secure the regeneration and independence of their country. Barin explained that his two elder brothers, who are also sharers in the garden, had no knowledge of their schemes but that Arabindo also desired the regeneration of his country through the medium of religious inspiration and was entertained at the garden on one occasion. It is no doubt owing to the dual influence of the brothers that one finds religious and revolutionary instruction mixed up in the training schools curriculum. Barin was the active manager of the school, and it appears from Norendranath Gossains statement that he was the chief whose orders had to be implicitly obeyed.
Upendranath Banerji stated that Barin recruited suitable young men taking advantage of the gatherings which occurred in the Yugantar Office and in the College and Beadon Squares, and that the object which actuated himself in joining the society was to free his country from the foreign yoke by helping an institution which would reach the people by means of moral and religious precepts. He says that, while he gave instruction in religion and philosophy, Barin was responsible for collection of arms and explosives and for giving instruction in their use.
Regarding the internal administration of the training school we depend, apart from the confessions, mainly on certain note-books which were discovered during the search, and which, owing to abbreviations used in them, require a great deal of analytical study. It appears, for example, that pupils were not allowed to inquire each others names, consequently where they appear in note-books they are merely in the form of initials.
The three persons mainly responsible for giving tuition in the school were Barin, Upen, and Ullaskar Dutt. Barin, as has been said, was responsible for the general management of the school and for the custody of arms and explosives, and Upen seems to have given instruction in religion and in revolutionary history; whereas Ullaskar Dutt was entrusted with training the students in the actual use of explosives.
The original idea seems to have been to locate the explosive workshop at Baidyanath (Deogarh), since in one of the note-books there is an entry U.D. (Ullaskar Dutt) for manufacture at Baidyanath (Deogarh) and underneath B.G. (Barindra Ghosh) to be in charge of the mechanical part of the work. This plan, if it ever matured, was apparently abandoned and the Manicktola garden was used both for practical and theoretical instruction.
The real expert in the manufacture of explosives was no doubt Hem Chander Das, who had received his knowledge in Paris. He, however, did not attend the school regularly but seems to have done the work of loading bombs mainly at his lodging in Raja Nobo Kissen Street.
The MSS. explosive manual, from which instruction was being given when the conspiracy came to light, was probably brought out to India by Hem Chander Das when he came in November last. The students note-books have been found, in which they were required to write down verbatim the contents of the manual. As much progress has not been made, it is evident that the manual was only a recent introduction; and as certain parts of it, so far as I have been in a position to examine, bear a close and striking resemblance to the book found by the Paris police with Safranski, the Russian Anarchist, it is probable that Hem Chander Das was responsible for the introduction of the manual.
The members of the society were for working purposes divided into three circles. It would appear from one of the books found that the first circle employed on band work consisting of six students. The duty of these was apparently to go round and collect subscriptions. The second circle was for Exp., Mech., and An., which signify experiment, mechanics, and anarchy.1 The third circle was for Miss., Tn., and Int., signifying missionary, training (?), and intelligence work. In the note-book above referred to six students are entered as employed on these duties.
In a red note-book from which the information regarding Baidyanath (Deogarh) given above was extracted and which contains an entry in a fly-leaf Brahmachari Anantanand, January 1908 possibly Upens Sadhu name. The syllabus for missionary training at the school or Ashrama, as it is called, (this being the name assigned to Hindu places of spiritual instruction) is as follows:
Ashrama for giving general, intellectual, and moral training to all new workers and a special training for those meant for missionary work.
A. General training to consist of
B. Special training of missionaries
From an entry which another page of this note-book contains, the days work has been divided as follows:
Shikar means apparently shooting at the tree (the photo of which is annexed) or at crows!2 Practical instruction in explosives has been omitted from this curriculum, and it is quite possible that this instruction was given only to those who had been in the school for some little time and had won the confidence of their leaders. There can be no doubt, however, that such instruction was given and that all received tuition in the use of fire-arms and in theoretical revolutional knowledge. There are such entries as this: Markundo, Poresh, and Profulla to be employed for the present on the mechanical work and again to prevent overcrowding no more than three to be admitted to the workshops.
The most important articles found in the garden were:
Most of the bombs which were ready for use were not kept in the garden but in 134, Harrison Road, in the custody of Ullaskar Dutt.
Those who were initiated in the secret society had to take two oaths, one in Bengali and one in Sanskrit, translations of which are enclosed. It has not been ascertained at which period of their course they were required to subscribe to these oaths, but those who did so, can have had little doubt as to the intentions of the society. So far as has been ascertained, the following are the names of those who have been initiated:
Of these 21, Barin gave the names of 17 only. Most, if not all, of the others whose names he omitted, have confessed to being members of the society thereby showing clearly that Barin has not confessed the whole truth. By means of a careful study of the note-books and correspondence the names of about half a dozen other members have been ascertained, and it is likely that, when they are arrested, they also will admit to having been members of this society. It will be noticed that all the members of this society are Bengalis and Hindus. Five come from Hooghly, 1 from Chandernagore, an adjoining French territory, 3 from Khulna, 4 from Jessore, and 2 from Nadia. All belong to Bengal proper, except the following who come from Eastern Bengal:
Ullaskar Dutt, Tippera;
Out of these few, two, namely, Norendranath Bakshi and Krishna Jiban, owe their introduction to the revolutionary society to their having joined the National College at Giridih which is in Bengal proper. It can, therefore, be said that this society, so far as its ramifications have been ascertained, has proved to be confined almost exclusively to the western province of Bengal and mainly to districts within easy reach of Calcutta.
18th May 1908.
[TRANSLATION OF THE BENGALI PORTION.]4
Vow-taking: Thou sword everlasting emblem of Powers, knowing that in Thee the soul image of Janurdhani Karali (Goddess Kali), the primordial mother of India, lies hidden, I touch Thee by my head and do (hereby) bind myself for the purpose of extirpating the Asuras (not Suras or Debatas, i.e., enemies of Debatas).
Thou Bhagabat Gita (a sacred book of that name), the source of all, pregnant with all truths, Thou sacred Veda, knowing that in Thee lies hidden the spirit (genius) of Sri Krishna, incarnation of Bisnu the preserving element of the Hindu Trinity, the founder of unity in India and the destroyer of the Asuras, I bow down and touch Thee and do (hereby) bind myself for the purpose of extirpating the Asuras.
I invoke the all-powerful God to help and witness my taking this vow.
I touch the feet of my religious Guru (preceptor), the source of virtue and knowledge, and do (hereby) swear.
I call to mind the feet of my mother the personification of my mother country and do (hereby) swear.
In the name of the great leaders, the God-sent apostles, I do (hereby) swear.
16th May 1908.
[TRANSLATION OF THE SANSKRIT PORTION.]5
Om. (Trinity) let there be peace.
Om. Shome Bharat Lakshmi. We invoke (pray) Barun, Agni, Manu, Aditya, Bisnu, Surya, Bharma, and Brahaspati (names of gods of Hindu mythology).
Om. Let there be an auspicious day in this duty of establishing Dharma Rajya.
Preceptor (religious initiator) Om. Auspicious day.
Om. Let there be peace in this duty
Preceptor Om. Be it so.
Om. Let there be success in this duty.
Preceptor Om. Be it so.
Invoking the ancestors that were born of heroes.
(We) bow down to the original heroes that set the current of life in this world and the germs of life and perfect individualities we resign ourselves to them.
(We) bow down to the Aryans that were reared up in the laps of Bharat (India) full of wealth and crops. (We) bow down to Thee Brahman and other Rishis that reared and brought up the infant Aryans fired with patriotism. (We) bow down to Thee Manu and other heroes that were powerful as the Sun and (pious) as Judhisthir and other Rishi-like kings. In the life-play of Bamdeb (son of Basudeb or Sri Krishna) the key-note always and invariably was to set up a Dharma Rajya. We bow down to Thee the ideal heroes of India that sacrificed their lives to save mother-land from the grip of foreigners and thus achieved the glorious end of the heroes that never cared for their lives and properties, when they had to serve their country. The image of patriotism has appeared before our minds eye. We bow down to Thee our countrymen whose good wishes, benedictions, and encouragements fired me us to-day. (We) now call men of the world before whom we are ashamed to appear, (for) we are able to save the honour of (our) country.
In the fire of our resolve to save the mother country, let their hatred and mother Indias shame be the sacrificial ghee (clarified butter). My heart will be burning my mind will be burning, so long as this fire of her shame be not extinguished. We renounce all pleasures, ornaments, etc.
Remembering countrys pride (golden deed) Devas sing the glory of those that are deserving in India (Bharat Bhumi land of Bharat, a king of primeval age. India was named after him).
It is the deeds which lead men either to Heaven or Hell.
Then (Atha) resolve Bisnu (the preserving deity of Hindu Trinity).
Om. (All mantras begin with this word.) Tat-sat (God alone exists). To-day in the month of phase (paksha) of the moon in the (tithi) day of the moon, I of take this vow of setting up Dharma Rajya.
After taking vow (first two lines are not understood as part is torn off).
Thou Sri Krishna (Keshub) I take this vow before Thee. Let it be successful through Thy Graces. (The 4th line is not understood.)
Taking up sword.
I bow down to Thee sword, Thou crown of all weapons, the symbol of death.
With much respect I take Thee from the hands of Adhya Saktee (Kali the final energy). In this vicious Kali when virtue has been so much attenuated, when weapons have been the order of the day, Thou art (the only) arbiter (or upholder) of truths.
16th May 1908.
Government of India, Home Political Department-Deposit, May 1908, No. 17
MEMORANDUM ON NAVASAKTI
1. The Nava Sakti will be given over to the hands of a Committee.
2. Sreejukta Arabindo Ghosh Mahashay will nominate the said Committee.
3. The Nava Sakti and the press of the Sakti with all its belongings be made over to the hands of said Committee.
4. The amount of money which has been given to Nava Sakti up to now and the further amount which may be given are to be converted into capital.
5. The capital is to be paid off by and by with half of the profits and the Committee will spend the other half for the good of the country.
6. If the amount of capital be paid up with one-half of the profits or by any other arrangement, then the contributors to the capital shall get nothing more on account of the capital. The whole amount will be spent for the good of the country under the direction of the Committee; and the Navasakti and all properties and everything belonging to it shall vest in the Committee.
7. The Committee shall be competent to conduct the Nava Sakti in any form and manner they may choose.
8. If the Committee fail to be willing to conduct the Nava Sakti according to these rules, the Nava Sakti will be given back to the former proprietor with all its accessories and accumulated capital.
9. The work will begin from Baisakh 1315 B.S. according to the foregoing rules.
Translated by Guru Charan Dutt, Translator, High Court.
Alipore Bomb Trial Exhibit No. 311/2
1 Two members are noted as belonging to it, viz., U.D. and U.B. (Ullaskar Dutt and Upendranath Banerji). [Footnote in document]
2 The word shikar actually means (big game) hunting.
3 Should be Nolini Kanta Gupta. There are a number of other irregularities in this list.
4 I.e. the Bengali part of the two-part oath referred to above. The square brackets are in the document.
5 See above. Square brackets in the document. It is quite likely that the Sanskrit original of this oath was written by Sri Aurobindo.