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Documents in the Life of Sri Aurobindo




Thank you for your letter of 22 September.

I am extremely sorry that we have misled you concerning the date of Carthage’s arrival in Bombay in January 1893. The entry in the Nautical Reports, dated 1892, led us to believe this referred to the month of December, but in fact we discovered it referred to the month of January and we therefore gave you the itinerary for the previous year. The following itinerary is the true one, which seems to fit in more neatly with your presumed date of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival about 8 February 1893:—

London12 January 1893
Gibraltar17 January 1893
Port Said26 January 1893
Aden1 February 1893
Bombay6 February 1893

Lloyd’s was able to give us some information on a ship wrecked off Portugal towards the end of 1892. She was a vessel of the Anchor Line (owned by Henderson Brothers) named Roumania, which was wrecked in heavy weather at the mouth of the river Arelho, near Peniche (about 50 miles from Lisbon), on 27 October 1892 while on passage from Liverpool to Bombay. There were 55 passengers and 67 crew on board. A total of 113 people were lost—only two passengers and seven seamen being saved.1

We have not yet heard from the Public Record Office on the results of their search, but in order not to delay sending you the information we have so far managed to find, any supporting evidence they may unearth that Sri Aurobindo was on board Carthage will be forwarded to you later.

A letter from Miss F.M.M. Beall, International Relations Division, The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, London, to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Library, 25 September 1972.


Extract from letter National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, to Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, 29 September 1986

The following details re the P & O steamer Carthage appear in the 1893-95 volume of Nautical Reports:

12 January8.50 amLeft RA Docks
10.50Anchored at Gravesend
3.30 pmProceeded
17 January2.0 amAnchored at Gibraltar
Discharged mails
20 January11.20 pmAnchored at Malta
21 January8.23 amProceeded
22 January2.32 pmMoored at Brindisi
11.00Rec’d Mails
23 January[9.30 amJohn Wilkinson, Chief Engineer, departed his life].
9.30 amProceeded
24 January[7.50 amCommitted the body of the late J Wilkinson to the deep].
26 January4.40 pmArrived at Port Said
5.00Discharged and received mails
27 January6.5 pmCleared land
6.20Anchored at Suez
7.5 pmProceeded
28 January[7.15 amAlley Ahmed Fijindel departed his life.
0.23 pmCommitted body to the deep].
1 February0.30 amAnchored at Aden
Discharged mails
2.30 amReceived mails
6 February10.55 amAnchored at Bombay
11.00Discharged mails
9 February2.30 pmReceived mails


An examination of the relevant Board of Trade Passenger Lists (B.T. 27/135) has revealed that a person by the name of Mr. A. Ghose appears on the list of passengers who embarked on the S.S. Carthage at London on January 11,2 1893.

A letter from A.R. Ford, Public Record Office, London, to the Archives, 19 February 1975.



His Highness the Maha Raja Saheb has been pleased to order that Mr. Arvind A. Ghose who had been recently employed in the service of this State on a salary equivalent in Baba shai currency3 of British Rupees (200) two hundred, per mensum, should be instructed to work as an attaché in the Settlement Department and also to learn the Gujerati language within six months.4

His salary will commence from the 8th instant.

Memo of Dewan in Huzur Cutcherry Book dated 18 February 1893.


Mr. Ghose should be given Rs. 50 more from the first of this month and the Dewan should take responsible work from him and inform this office accordingly.

Huzur Order5 dated 10 October 1895 (translated from Marathi).


His Highness the Maharaja Saheb has been pleased to order that Mr. Aravind Ghose should be appointed as attaché in the Dewan Office and should do the important cases given to him.

Huzur Order dated 19 November 1895 (translated from Marathi).


His Highness was kind enough to say that Mr. Ghose might teach in the College for one hour a day. Also that he was wanted in the afternoons by His Highness. Accordingly I made a time-table that would leave Mr. Ghose free in the afternoons. He was to have begun work on Monday at 1, but was telephoned for to go out to Makerpura6 to His Highness instead. Naturally the students are greatly disappointed. They see a gift made with one hand and taken away with the other. Mr. Ghose has not come, as he says (quite reasonably) that until hours are fixed it will be impossible for him to guarantee regularity of attendance. I think it very desirable that Mr. Ghose should [be] lent to us for an hour a day. But after all it is the Baroda State that gets the credit of having a well-equipped or badly-equipped College, and I can only ask for equipment, it is for Government to grant or withhold it.

Letter Principal, Baroda College to Dewan dated 27 January 1897.


His Highness the Maharajah is willing to share the services of Mr. Ghose for the present for employment in the College. His Highness at the same time states that it is possible that Mr. Ghose may have to be employed a couple of months hence in another capacity and in that case he will have to be withdrawn from the College for some months.

Letter Dewan to Principal dated 8 January 1898.


This tippan7 for continuing the services of Prof. A.A. Ghose in the Baroda College until further orders having been submitted to H.H. the Maharaja Sahib he has been pleased to order that the proposal of the Department is sanctioned until a successor is appointed to Mr. Littledale or until the Sirkar8 sees it fit, even within that time, to order otherwise.

Huzur Order dated 12 March 1900.


His Highness the Maharaja Saheb has been pleased to order that Mr. Aravind Ghose, who works with His Highness the Maharaja Saheb at his [Ghose’s] leisure time, should be given Rs. 60 over and above his pay for the additional work he does.

Huzur Order dated 11 April 1900 (translated from Gujarati).


I have just sent in a tippan to the Dewan Saheb pointing out that for various reasons it is essential to retain Mr. Ghose as a Professor in the College, and requesting him to obtain the orders of His Highness to that effect. What I have stated I herewith append for your information. You know as well as I do how necessary it is that the College staff should be strengthened in order that it may emerge from second class rank. I therefore trust that you will mention this matter to His Highness, and ask him to be kind enough to assist me in making the College a better Institution than it has hitherto been. At the same time you may add any more arguments of your own that occur to you in favour of my proposal.

Letter Principal to Dewan dated 6 September 1900.


His Highness the Maharaja Saheb approves of Mr. Tait’s suggestion for the present and Mr. Ghosh should continue in the College as an Extra Professor.

In case a change is required His Highness will duly communicate his desire to Mr. Tait after his return to Baroda.

Huzur Order dated 26 September 1900.


His Highness the Maharaja Saheb has an idea of getting the memoirs of his life and of his reign, together with a Review of the last twenty years’ Administration in Baroda written soon after his return to Baroda. For this purpose the services of Professor Aravind A. Ghose of the Baroda College will be required for about a year or so. Arrangements should therefore be made to relieve Mr. Ghose from his college duties soon after the return of His Highness.

By the above arrangement Mr. Ghose will not lose his lien upon the college appointment, which he may have at present, nor would he be prevented from reverting to the college after his temporary work is finished.

Confidential Huzur Order dated 30 November 1900.


His Highness the Maharaja Saheb has been pleased to order that—

(1) During the absence of Mr. French on duty in Europe, Professor Aravind A. Ghose will be in charge of the tuition of the younger Princes; and will superintend over their education.

(2) This special work, Mr. Ghose will do, over and above the work of compiling a Report on the Twenty Years’ Administration of the Baroda State, entrusted to him.

From a Huzur Order dated 19 April 1901.


A tippan No. 19 dated the 30th December 1902 having been submitted to the Huzur with the request to spare the services of Mr. Ghose for about 6 hours a week for the purpose of lecturing on French books assigned for the University Examinations, His Highness the Maharaja Sahib has been pleased to pass the following order

Huzur Order.

(1) The proposal is sanctioned.

(2) The services of Mr. Ghose should be utilized in the College for other subjects also for more than the 6 hours in a week proposed.

Memo by Principal dated 30 January 1903 citing Huzur Order dated 21 January 1903.


His Highness the Maharaja Saheb was, in the Huzur Order No. 12 dated 21.1.03, pleased to place the services of Mr. Ghose at the disposal of the College for the purpose of lecturing on the French Books assigned for university Examinations. He moreover ordered that his services should be utilised for other subjects also, so as to occupy him in the College for a longer period. Accordingly he reported himself to the Principal on the 3rd February, and worked upto the 17th February as directed. Since then he has not put in an appearance and the undersigned knows nothing whatever about him.

Of course it is obvious that no French lectures or any work whatever can be carried on under such a system. The undersigned therefore brings the matter to the notice of the Dewan Saheb and requests that due orders may be issued discharging Mr. Ghose from all work in connection with the College or else causing him to return there for regular and systematic duty.

“Concise History” in Tippan of Principal dated 26 March 1903.


1. From the 22nd February I was absent on leave for a month. I had written to the Principal reporting my departure, but it appears the letter was not received.

2. Previous to that for two or three days I was called to the Palace on urgent work.

3. Subsequent to my return from leave I was taking the classes in the afternoon at my own house, as three-quarters of an hour in the morning were insufficient. I may mention that I was always in the habit of making my own arrangements with the students, which was the more necessary as I had several branches of work to attend to.

4. As I am now attached to the Swari9 in charge of the Secretary’s work during the Cashmere trip, I shall not be able to take the French classes this term.

From a letter Aravind A. Ghose (Sri Aurobindo) to Principal dated Srinagar, 4 June 1903.


In the interests of the College I may also remark that Mr. Ghose had acquired a reputation in the College when he was Professor of English, about 4 years back. If his services could be wholly spared to the College, he may be advantageously entrusted with the work that I have chalked out above for a new Oxford man. With the University also, he will carry as much weight as another Englishman.

From the opinion of the Vidyadhikari (Minister of Education) dated 5 August 1904, to a Tippan of the Vice-Principal dated 2 August 1904 requesting the Huzur “to appoint an English graduate in the College to carry on Mr. Tait’s [the Principal’s] work after his retirement.”


His Highness the Maharaja Saheb after being shown the Tippans No. 1 dated 2.8.04 and No. 51 of 14.7.04 of the English Educational Department has been pleased to order that with regard to the proposal in the first, the services of Mr. Aravind A. Ghose can be spared for English work in the College, as suggested in the opinion of the Vidyadhikari. Mr. Ghose’s work should be so arranged that he may be able to spare two hours in the day to attend for work in the Huzur whenever required by His Highness. When he finds that this double work is becoming more than he can manage, he must inform His Highness so that he may either be entirely spared to the College or replaced by someone else. The Principal will make whatever readjustment of the College work may be required as a result of the appointment.

2. Mr. Ghose’s official designation will be that of Vice-Principal and from the time he takes up the duties of the post, his pay will be increased by Rs. 100 British.

From a Huzur Order dated 6 September 1904.


I have been directed by H.H. the Maharaja Saheb to join the College immediately if that were possible so that there might be no delay in my beginning to draw the increment in my salary. In accordance with these instructions I have reported myself to Mr. Clarke today, having forwarded the original order of my appointment in due course. I am also instructed, as there will be vacation for three months, to continue to help Mr. Karandikar in the work of Huzur Kamdar as before.

These directions will, I presume, emend the last paragraph of the Huzur Order of the 26th September 1904 on the tippan for Mr. Clarke’s confirmation as Principal, since in the original order it is directed that the increment shall begin from the day I join the College.

From a letter Aravind A. Ghose, Huzur Kamdar (Crown Secretary), to Dewan dated 28 September 1904.


Handed over charge of the Office of the Principal, Baroda College to Aravind A. Ghose Esq., Vice-Principal, Baroda College today after office hours.

A.B. Clarke
Principal, Baroda College

Received the above in charge from A.B. Clarke Esq. Principal, Baroda College, today after office hours.

Aravind A. Ghose
Baroda College

Notes of 3 March 1905.

1 It was after hearing a report of this disaster that Dr. K.D. Ghose, Sri Aurobindo’s father, thinking his son had set sail on the Roumania, died with the name “Aurobindo” on his lips.

2 Perhaps Sri Aurobindo boarded the Carthage on the eleventh, and the ship departed from London on the twelfth (see Document 1).

3 Money minted by the Baroda state; worth slightly less than British rupees.

4 Sri Aurobindo was rather remiss about learning Gujarati. Although he picked up a little of this language and also of Marathi during his stay at Baroda, he was reprimanded in 1895 and again in 1898 for not attending the vernacular language examination. Threats of a cut in his salary were to no avail, and finally the matter was dropped. Sri Aurobindo, apparently, was more interested in Sanskrit and Bengali literature than in papers written in the two official languages of the Baroda state.

5 Crown Edict, signed by the Maharaja (Huzur) himself, or by the Dewan (Prime Minister) or another high officer in his place.

6 Makerpura Palace, a residence of the Maharaja on the outskirts of the city of Baroda.

7 Formal proposal.

8 I.e. the Maharaja.

9 I.e. was part of the staff attending the Maharaja during his Kashmir tour.

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