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Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo

FRIENDS IN PONDICHERRY


DISCIPLES AND FRIENDS OF SRI AUROBINDO IN PONDICHERRY

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Note prepared by Samir Kanta Gupta on the basis of conversations with Nolini Kanta Gupta between 16 and 20 June 1981. First published in Mother India in October 1981. The editors of Archives and Research have corrected the spelling of some proper names.

A Personal Note on Olden Days

Long long ago, when we were a few people here, we knew some local young men, some of whom were brilliant academicians, a few very liberal thinkers, and some good and enthusiastic sportsmen. David, Rassendren, Sada, Sinas, Petrous, Tetta, Alphonse, Du Tamby, Marie Savery, Papuswammy (who was at that time the chief of the French Consulate at Bombay), Le Voyent de Pajanore (whose son Bal Aravinda was later to be known as A. Balapjanore), and genial Adeceam who learned his Latin from me and later on held important positions in the State Education Department, readily come to mind. When Moni (Shakra), Bijoy (Basak) and myself (Roy) played football for the town-team we were of course known to many more people. I still remember our picnics at Oushtieri (Lake) where we proceeded marching in a group and singing in a chorus.

David was our goal-keeper. He was the son of a poor middle-class school Inspector. He progressed well in his education. He married the eldest daughter of advocate Vallabhdas who helped his son-in-law to proceed to France for higher studies. He returned to Pondicherry and succeeded immensely in his profession of law. David’s three daughters were Antoinette, Lourde Nambikai Marie and Josephine. Of Vallabhdas’s sons, the eldest one, Arumaidas, was deaf and dumb. His second son, Mangaldas, was Sourin’s friend. My friend happened to be Mangaldas’s younger brother, Jagaidas, though he was much junior to me. Mangaldas also went to France and came back here as an eminent pharmacologist. Their house was situated on Bussy Street, quite near the football-ground and also not far from Jardin Colonial. Sourin and myself visited now and then the house of David’s father-in-law at about eight in the night. David’s mother-in-law had considerable affection for me. She could speak only Tamil and used to address me as “Royee”, making the last syllable the longest drawn. I may also mention that Sri Aurobindo had attended David’s marriage which had been celebrated with noticeable fanfare at Vallabhdas’s elegant and spacious house at the crossing of Bharati Street and Kandappa Mudaliar Street.

Some of these young men of forward thinking and liberal ideas came closer to us. They used to meet the Mother and assemble from time to time in the Arya House downstairs. The Mother lived on the first floor. She gave this group the name of L’Idée Nouvelle.

These young men who were still at college or had just come out, with our Rassendren in the lead, brought out from February 1920 a monthly journal in French — a sort of a thin and plain brochure — Collégien. But its French was impeccable and widely acclaimed. I contributed some poems to it, which were found by readers in those days not very bad.…

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Extracts from Government of India, Home Political-A Proceedings, May 1915, no. 287. [National Archives of India]

DEMI-OFFICIAL LETTER FROM THE HON’BLE MR. A. BUTTERWORTH, I.C.S., CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF MADRAS, TO THE HON’BLE MR. H. WHEELER, C.S.I., C.I.E., SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, HOME DEPARTMENT, NO. 4379-4, DATED FORT ST. GEORGE, THE 19TH JANUARY 1915.

In reply to your demi-official no. 2567 (Pol.), dated the 23rd November 1914, asking for a report on the action taken against one Bejoy Kumar Nag under the Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914, I am directed to state that he is at the present moment detained in the Central Jail at Vellore, his confinement having been directed under section 2 of the Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914, read with section 3 of the Foreigners Ordinance, 1914, by an order of this Government (copy enclosed) dated November 3rd, 1914.

2. Bejoy Kumar Nag came to prominent notice in the Manicktolla Bomb Case, but he was acquitted because the Sessions Judge thought that in view of his youth he was likely to be only in process of training and that no evidence to prove guilty knowledge had been given. On his acquittal he took refuge in Pondicherry with Arabindo Ghose under the assumed name of Chakravarti and since 1910, he has been continuously in Pondicherry, except for a short period which he is reported to have spent in Bengal. In Pondicherry he has been closely intimate with the anarchist refugees there and when in Bengal, in July 1913, the Criminal Investigation Department of that Province reported that he showed no signs of cutting himself adrift from his former associates. He is regarded by the Bengal Police as an exceptionally dangerous person, and the records of the Madras special police in Pondicherry bear out this opinion.

Pol. A., April 1910, nos. 81–115.

3. On the morning of the 22nd October 1914 he left Pondicherry for Madras, en route for Calcutta, with the professed object of acting as a canvassing agent for the “Arya,” a journal edited by Messrs. Arabindo Ghose and Paul Richard, from whom he held written authorisation ‘empowering him to travel as agent for the “Arya” with the authority to act on behalf of the Directors in all matters connected with the management of the review and especially to appoint local agents and take other necessary steps for organising the circulation.’ Monsieur Richard is a French subject and a defeated candidate for the Pondicherry seat in the French Chamber of Deputies. He is reported to hold dangerous opinions and started a society called the “Union de la jeunesse Hindoue” for the political, religious and literary education of young men in Pondicherry. He is constantly in the company of extremists there and himself claims a five years’ friendship with Arabindo Ghose.

4. The Governor in Council felt that it was dangerous to the public safety to leave Bejoy Kumar Nag at liberty and he therefore applied the provisions of the Ordinance. If, however, the Bengal Government are willing that he should be allowed to proceed to that province he will be released on the condition that he remove himself from this Presidency and on such other conditions as the Bengal Government, whom we are addressing, may specify.

5. I add for your information that this is the only case to date of confinement under the Ordinance.

JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT, G.O. No. 2372, DATED THE 3RD NOVEMBER 1914.

ORDER.

The District Magistrate of South Arcot has reported for the orders of the Government the case of Bijoy Kumar Nag, alias Chakravarti, detained under the Ingress into India Ordinance 1914, and produced before the District Magistrate on the 25th October 1914. The Governor in Council is satisfied that Bijoy Kumar Nag cannot be permitted to be at large in British India without prejudice to the interests and tranquillity of the State. Now, therefore, in exercise of the power delegated to him by the Governor-General in Council in Notification No. 1371, dated 12th September 1914, the Governor in Council directs, under the provisions of section 2 of the Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914, read with section 3 of the Foreigners Ordinance, 1914, that Bijoy Kumar Nag, alias Chakravarti, be kept in confinement in the Central Jail, Vellore, until further orders.

2. The Inspector-General of Prisons will be requested to report regarding the behaviour and condition of this prisoner on the 1st January 1915 and thereafter every quarter.

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Extract from Government of India, Home Political-B Proceedings, June 1919, Nos. 494–97. [National Archives of India]

4. Pondicherry suspects — It was recently reported that one Tara Prasad Gupta of Chandernagore had visited Arabindo Ghose at Pondicherry. This young man had volunteered for service during the war and had been to France, whence he lately returned. He went from Pondicherry to his home, taking letters from Arabindo.

Surendranath Basu who lived with Arabindo for the last 8 years recently applied for permission to return to Bengal. The Bengal Government permitted him to return on the 21st with one Nalini Kanta Sirkar Gupta. At Howrah they were met by a 3rd person who conducted them to a taxi. It was subsequently ascertained that these suspects, immediately on their arrival in Calcutta, got into touch with certain members of the Jugantar party associated with the absconders Atul Chandra Ghose and Satish Chakrabarti. The person who met them at Howrah has been identified as an agent of these absconders. The suspects were secretly accommodated by the party in Calcutta, and then proceeded to their homes. It is believed that they will shortly meet Atul Ghosh and Satish Chakrabarti in Chandernagore.



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