Friday, April 24, 2020

“Nourish the Mind & Soul for the Centenary of the Mother’s Permanent Return to Pondicherry” by Aryadeep

Earlier, Francis gave a call that 24th April being the Mother’s final and permanent return to Pondicherry, people mediate and express their silent gratitude to her during the early morning, no matter where they are. That’s beautiful.  
I believe that the human mind needs nourishment even to feel better, to think better, to understand better.
Yesterday evening, an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and a donor to A4A sent me an audio file via WhatsApp in connection with the Mother’s final return to Pondicherry exactly 100 years ago on 24th April 1920. The clear and distinct and disciplined voice in the audio imbued with devotion read selected passages from the Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s writings, questions and answers, conversations etc.  The selection was revelatory and inspiring – narrating beautiful experiences right from Mother’s teenage to the final push in Japan – an experience of the supreme more marvellous than described in the book Bhagwat Gita turning her to the West, to India, to a horizon at the end of which was Sri Aurobindo. It also speaks of her first and second meeting with Sri Aurobindo, besides many other significant insights and revelations. Total duration of the audio is 25 minutes and 25 seconds!
You will be able to celebrate your 24th April – the centenary of the Mother’s permanent return - in a much better way by listening to this audio. The breath of a purer and truer consciousness will enter in your atmosphere. This is what I call the worthwhile nourishment to the mind & soul.
Click here to listen to the audio.  (You will need to click on the white > button to start the audio. It will not start automatically.)
A request - Having derived the benefit, forward the link to your friends and fellow disciples and post it on your social media.
PS: Also the website of the Overman Foundation has today published “almost all the available photographs of the Mother taken on 24th April from 1951 to 1973.”

Monday, April 13, 2020

“Corona Is Here, But Where Is Karuna?” by Karan Singh

The grave crisis that has developed worldwide due to the spread of a tiny, invisible virus, reminds me of the samudra manthan story, the mythological churning of the milky ocean.  Continuous churning went on for centuries, in which devas and asuras, both participated in the hope that great gifts would emerge.  Instead, suddenly, a dark and deadly poison, the garala, emerged and spread worldwide.  Devas and asuras fled in terror, and it was only when Shiva, Karunavataram, the incarnation of compassion, collected the poison in his hands and swallowed it, thus containing it in his own throat which turned blue (hence his name  Neelkanth) that the churning continued and great gifts began to appear.

If we consider the violent churning that the human race has indulged in over the last few centuries – the ruthless exploitation of nature, the cruel destruction of millions of plant, insect and animal species, pollution of air, earth and oceans, the unsustainable high protein diets and consumption of strange animals and reptiles has, at last, thrown up a new garala that threatens the very existence of the human race.

Perhaps this is nature’s way of telling us to slowdown worldwide for a while so as to enable her to regenerate, which she seems to be doing rapidly, during the human lockdown period.

To expect Shiva to appear once again and contain this poison is, to say the least,  unrealistic; nonetheless, we urgently need the compassion he embodied so that together, we can meet this challenge. This must extend not only to victims of the virus but to those millions whose lives have been uprooted in the process.  The sight of lakhs of migrant workers desperately trying to walk hundreds of kilometers to get back to their villages was heartrending.  Have we seen a countervailing upsurge of compassion? Shakespeare’s immortal words in the Merchant of Venice are apt:  “The quality of mercy is not strained/ It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven / Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest / It blesses him that gives and him that takes.”

That is the karuna we need. The present crisis has taught us that firstly, despite attempts by several world leaders, notably President Trump, to trash globalization, the fact remains that in any major worldwide crisis we will all sink or swim together.  The ancient Indic ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam remains valid.

Secondly, it shows that our basic health infrastructure remains woefully inadequate. ‘Sharir madhyam khalu dharma sadhanam’ --  the body alone is the foundation for all dharmas.  Unless we triple the percentage of GDP that is at present allotted to health and education, we will never be able to safeguard the welfare of the weaker and most vulnerable sections of society. A restructuring of our national priorities is long overdue.

Thirdly, this crisis has given us the opportunity to stay home, look within and develop our intellectual and spiritual capacities, regardless of which religion we may belong to.  We have to find within ourselves, springs of compassion –karuna – that alone will be able to confront this deadly corona challenge.  We do not need large congregations; just quiet prayer and meditation are much more effective.  As the Upanishad says, “Within the furthest golden sheath resides the immortal Brahmn.  That, effulgent, light of lights, that is what the knowers of the 
Atman know.”
                                                                               -      Karan Singh

Courtesy and Link :

Thursday, April 9, 2020

“Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry: A Look Back” by Aju Mukhopadhyay

    We  cclebrated the centenary of Sri Aurobindo’s coming to Pondicherry with much fanfare but it was entirely different at that trying time of secrecy and escape when he arrived on the shore of the ancient town, under French occupation as a colony, at four (post meridiem) on the fourth day of the fourth month of 1910. Four is the symbol of square, completeness and supramental consciousness. Sri Aurobindo’s arrival signified all this.
      He and his follower Bijoy Kumar Nag disembarked at the shore of Pondicherry incognito from S. S. Dupleix with tickets for Colombo as passengers named Jyotindranath Mitra and Bankim Chandra Basak. This was one of the first such escapes by any politician of great importance before the watchful and wakeful eyes of the British. They were received with dignity by editor Srinivasachariar, poet Subramania Bharati and revolutionary Suresh Chandra Chakraborty (Moni). They were taken to the house of Shanker Chetty at Comoutty Chetty Street. Moni did not know the house till their arrival for the revolutionaries who received him did not believe that such an important leader would come to Pondicherry. But they gave up the idea of giving him a grand reception as advised by Moni in keeping with the prevailing situation. Everything was done in secrecy.
        Nolini Kanta Gupta wrote in his memoire, “Sri Aurobindo took shelter in Pondicherry. Otherwise we may say that he sheltered Pondicherry in his consciousness.” 1
          The French Scholar Jouveau Dubreuil after due research found that Pondicherry was once called Vedapuri with a temple of Vedapurishwara, a seat of Vedic learning, founded by the ancient Rishi Agastya. His ashram was exactly at the place where now stands the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.     
     K. V. Rangaswami, a member of Madras Imperial Assembly, whose Guru at his death bed 30 years prior to Sri Aurobindo’s coming predicted that 30 years hence a Purna Yogi from the north would arrive who would be known by his three specialties: the three famous madness, as Sri Aurobindo confided to his wife; that he would see the God, that whatever the God has given him was to be returned keeping the minimum for him and his family and that he regarded his Country as his Mother.
     The next year on 12.7.1911 Sri Aurobindo wrote in a letter that he needed some place of refuge in which he could complete his Yoga unassailed and build up other souls around him. It seemed to him that Pondicherry was the place appointed by those who are Beyond.  
     How was Pondicherry at that time? Nolini Kanta described it as a ‘dead city’ and David Neel said that it looked like a funeral garden of the defunct city. But why of all places Sri Aurobindo who was at the acme of his political life then decided to come and settle here? The story follows.
     Born in Calcutta on 15 August 1872, he was brought up mostly in England. He was a scholar and poet. He passed Tripos and ICS at the same time with record marks in some subjects. Though secluded from Indians and Indian society during his studies in England he developed patriotism from an early age and avoided joining the Civil Service by not appearing for the riding test even after repeated calls. Back to Baroda, India, in 1893, a young man of 21 years, he joined the Princely State mainly as professor. Something happened in India’s destiny in that year: Swami Vivekananda left for Chicago, M.K. Gandhi left for Africa, Sri Aurobindo and Annie Besant came to India.
     Back to India Sri Aurobindo studied Indian scriptures, languages and literatures after he had studied European languages, history and literature while in England. He was a polyglot. But the scholar and poet also organized secret revolutionary groups. He was active during the Partition of Bengal in 1905 and came to Bengal from June 1906 permanently. He became the first principle of the first National College in India and continued his work as revolutionary. He became de facto editor of Bande Mataram daily in English. Later he published Dharma in Bangla and Karmayogin in English. He wrote in some other papers. His journalism opened a new vista of freedom movement.
     Sri Aurobindo was prosecuted for his seditious writing in 1907 when Tagore wrote his oft repeated poem, “Homage to Aurobindo” but he was acquitted without any charge against him proved. In 1908 he was prosecuted for revolt against the king and was lodged in solitary confinement for some time and in general ward for the remaining time of the one year in Alipore Jail; from 5 May 1908 to 5 May 1909. He was acquitted as no charge could be proved.
      Lord Edward Baker, Lt. Governor of Bengal wrote to Lord Minto, the Viceroy of India, that he attributed the spread of seditious doctrines to him personally in Bengal or possibly in India. He wrote, “Although he escaped conviction in the Alipore case, yet it is beyond doubt that his influence has been pernicious in the extreme.” (Iyengar 351)
     And Minto himself wrote to Lord Morley at the India Office, “As to the celebrated Arabinda . . . he is the most dangerous man we now have to reckon with, he was one of the instigators in the Manicktolla murders and has an unfortunate influence on the student class . . . . Surely you cannot hope that such a man should remain at large.” (Iyengar 352)
     The Government had controversy brewed in its own administration. On 11 January 1911 Lord Hardinge, the new Viceroy of India, wrote to Lord Crewe, the Secretary of State, that prosecution for sedition, especially in a case against Sri Aurobindo should have been “taken up in a more venturesome spirit than the gravity of the step warranted.” (Iyengar 353)
     Lord Crewe wrote to Lord Hardinge on 13 January 1911 that Aurobindo, though dangerous might be, he was “well known here (England), and looked on as a high souled enthusiast, averse to crime, and a man who ought not to have been attacked without the clearest proof.” (Iyengar 353)
     Sir Ramsay Macdonald, the next Prime Minister of England, himself fought for Aurobindo Ghose in British Parliament. The Government was trying to deport him. He avoided arrest by issuing ‘Open Letter’ in the Press on 31 July and 25 December 1909. While he was absconding he wrote letter in Karmayogin, then edited by Sister Nivedita. The last warrant on charge of sedition was issued to him on 4 April 1910 when he had reached Pondicherry but ironically, the Government failed in this last case also. He was judged innocent.       
     It is seen that he was least afraid of the Government and of punishment. Dedicated to the God, he was determined to free Mother India. But with poetry and politics he was doing Yoga also from 1904 and God was leading him always, finally through prosecution in jail to his destined path of Yoga. In Alipore jail he saw God and told of his conviction, of the possibility of his leaving earthly work for yogic life. He said this to Sir Ramsay McDonald when the latter met him in January 1910.
     At last when about to be arrested, he remained as calm as before and heard a Vani, an inner voice, “Go to Chandernagore.” Living in different houses there, living underground, he heard another divine command, “Go to Pondicherry”. Thus beginning his journey on 31 March 1910, facing many hazards, he reached Pondicherry on 4 April 1910.
       But even here he was not left alone. He was persecuted and spied by the British police for long 35 years. Threat, invitation, allurement, effort to kidnap by thugs- all he brushed aside, telling Subramania Bharati at one point, “I don’t budge from here”, and remained there up to his last day on 5 December 1950.
     He was most creative here, wrote most of his magnum opus while editing Arya for about seven years. Here he became a world renowned philosopher of ‘The Life Divine’, proclaimed the Ideal of Human Unity as his goal and here he attained the utmost height in his spiritual flight: The Supramental light and consciousness entered into him in his earthly body.

Notes and References :
 1. Rachanavali-Collected Works.  Nolini Kanta Gupta. Kolkata: Srinvantu. 1979. V.5. p.378
 Work Cited :
Iyengar K R Srivivasan. Sri Aurobindo a biography and a history. Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. 1985. Fourth Edition. 

                                                                         © Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2020

Saturday, April 4, 2020

“Today 110 Years Ago Sri Aurobindo Arrives in Pondicherry - a Detailed Report!” - by Aryadeep

The Detailed Report of Sri Aurobindo’s Stay in Chandernagore and Arrival in Pondicherry 
I suppose the coronavirus topic is on the top of the minds of Auronet readers. Hence, first a few lines from Savitri and then, since today is the 110th year of  Sri Aurobindo arrival in Pondicherry,  the detailed story of his stay for a month and half in Chandernagore followed by his arrival in Pondicherry.   This has been extracted from Peter Heehs book The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Notice that the only person Sri Aurobindo knew at Chandernagore refused to provide him shelter and suggested to go to France – a both funny and impractical idea. Also, I must mention that Peter’s narration of Sri Aurobindo’s Chandernagore stay is far from complete. I have read many more details including Motilal Roy taking Sri Aurobindo to an open bathroom in his house and putting bucketful water on him in an attempt to give him a shower!  
"Yet in the exact Inconscient’s stark conceit,
In the casual error of the world’s ignorance
A plan, a hidden Intelligence is glimpsed.
There is a purpose in each stumble and fall;
Nature’s most careless lolling is a pose
Preparing some forward step, some deep result.
Ingenious notes plugged into a motived score,
These million discords dot the harmonious theme
Of the evolution’s huge orchestral dance.
A Truth supreme has forced the world to be;
It has wrapped itself in Matter as in a shroud,
A shroud of Death, a shroud of Ignorance.
It compelled the suns to burn through silent Space,"
(Savitri -B OOK X  Canto IV)
IN THE BEGINNING of February 1910, the nine deportees were released. On the eleventh, Aurobindo was at the station when his uncle Krishna Kumar Mitra returned from the North. Four days later, he welcomed his old colleague Shyamsundar Chakravarty when his ship from Burma reached Calcutta. Quite possibly the same evening (or at most a day or two later), Aurobindo, Suresh, Biren and some others were sitting at the office when their friend Ramchandra Majumdar burst in. In an agitated voice, he said that Aurobindo was about to be arrested. A relative of his who worked in the police department had told him that a warrant had been issued. (This information was premature. The government was thinking of arresting Aurobindo, but the warrant would not be issued for another six weeks.) The young men began talking about what they would do. Aurobindo said nothing. After a minute, he stood up and announced that he was going to Chandernagore. He, Suresh, Biren and Ramchandra left the office almost immediately. Taking a twisting path through the alleys of north Calcutta, Ramchandra led them to the Hooghly. Seeing a boat at the ghat, he called out: “Hey, do you want a fare?” The boatman came over, and Aurobindo, Suresh and Biren got in. Within minutes they were on their way.639
Years later Aurobindo explained that when he heard Ramchandra’s warning, he went within and heard a voice — an adesh — that said “Go to Chandernagore.” He obeyed it without reflection. Had he given it any thought, however, he would have found good reasons to comply. Chandernagore was a French possession, one of five scattered enclaves that made up the French settlements in India. Outside the jurisdiction of the British police, it had become an important center of nationalist activity. For a man with a British warrant against him, it was the best place near Calcutta to go. The adesh also came at an opportune moment. Aurobindo had written ten days earlier that he would “refrain from farther political action” until a “more settled state of things supervenes” — something that was unlikely to happen very soon. This period of political paralysis coincided with his own wish to retire from politics and spend more time practicing yoga. In December, he had looked into the possibility of buying land outside Calcutta to found a spiritual ashram.640 Nothing came of this idea, but his urge to leave politics remained. It was only his awareness that his party depended on him that kept him in the field. But the return of Shyamsundar and the other deportees meant that the movement would not be leaderless if he left. In addition, the arrival of his uncle Krishna Kumar Mitra meant that his last family duty — looking after his aunt and her children — had come to an end.
This is not to suggest that he thought all this through when he decided to leave Calcutta. By his own account, his “habit in action was not to devise beforehand and plan but to keep a fixed purpose, watch events, prepare forces and act when he felt it to be the right moment.”641 The moment for his departure had come. As he sailed up the Hooghly in his little wooden boat, he probably was not looking further ahead than the next few days.

(Above photo - The Chandernagore Ghat where Sri Aurobindo along with Suresh and Biren reached at 4 in the morning after a night long journey in a small boat in the middle of February 1910)

  (Above two photos - The house of Motilal Roy, Sri Aurobindo’s main host in Chardernagore)

(Photo - On the way to Motilal Roy’s house - Chanernagore)
At four the next morning the boat landed at the Chandernagore Strand. Aurobindo knew only one person in town, Charuchandra Roy, a high school principal who had founded a revolutionary group. He and Aurobindo had met in jail. Arrested after the testimony of Narendranath Goswami, Charuchandra spent a few months at Alipore before the French government intervened on his behalf. Those months had been the most terrible of his life. Middle-aged, married, with a respectable position in society, he had broken down completely when he found himself locked in a solitary cell. Had he been forced to remain any longer, he was sure he would have gone insane.
Once the boat was tied up at the ghat, Aurobindo sent Biren to find Charuchandra and ask him for shelter. When the young man knocked at his door, Charuchandra was far from pleased. He asked Biren to tell Aurobindo that he could not help. It would be best, he said, for Aurobindo to go to France. This caused some merriment back at the boat. Did the recusant revolutionary expect them to sail their little craft all the way to Marseille? Not knowing what to do, but certain his voice had not misled him, Aurobindo remained in the boat with his two companions. After an hour or so, a stranger approached. “Do you come from Calcutta?” he cried. “Why do you ask?” came the guarded reply. “Is Aurobindo Babu in the boat?” the stranger ventured. “Get into the boat, please,” he was told.642
The stranger introduced himself as Motilal Roy. He was a member of a revolutionary group that was loosely connected with Charuchandra’s. Ten minutes earlier he had been on his way to work when his friend Srishchandra Ghose, the man who had helped to smuggle pistols into Alipore jail in 1908, had told him that Aurobindo had come to town, but that Charuchandra had refused to receive him. “What a pity the matter should end so discreditably,” Srish concluded. Motilal was a fervent admirer of Aurobindo’s. Learning that his idol had come to town, he started sprinting for the Strand.643
Once the young man had been admitted to the cabin, Aurobindo inquired how he had learned of his predicament. After Motilal explained, Aurobindo asked: “What can you do for me? Would it be convenient for you to shelter me?” Flushed with pride, Motilal blurted out: “Indeed, I have come to receive you. . . . Do not trouble yourself. I will take care of the arrangements personally.”644
Aurobindo told Biren and Suresh to take the boat back to Calcutta. Once there, they should go to Nivedita, explain what had happened, and ask her to look after the Karmayogin.645 Then he followed Motilal to his house. In an unused storeroom, Motilal spread a carpet on the dust-covered floor. Aurobindo “sat down noiselessly like a marionette.” Leaving his guest to himself, Motilal went off to do some errands. When he returned, he found Aurobindo “sitting silently with his eyes fixed in an upward stare.” He had, the young man thought, “utterly resigned himself to God. When he talked, words came out of his mouth as if someone else made him speak. If his hand moved, it was controlled as it were by a third agency.”646
Aurobindo passed that day in Motilal’s storeroom. At night he was taken to another man’s house, where he spent the next twenty-four hours. When Motilal saw him again, Aurobindo asked if he could take him back to his house. Aurobindo had had to share a room with another person and found this disturbing. Motilal agreed, and readied a room. Here Aurobindo passed the next few days.
All told, Aurobindo spent a month and a half in Chandernagore. For security reasons, Motilal and his friends kept shifting him from house to house. During these weeks, Aurobindo later wrote, he was “entirely engaged in Sadhana.” His power of yogic vision developed enormously. Writing appeared in the surrounding “ether.” Sometimes this akasha lipi brought knowledge of the past, the future, or the remote present. He also saw rupas, or forms, that seemed to be significant. Many of them were of ordinary objects, but there was also the occasional deity. Three goddesses appeared that he identified as Ila, Saraswati, and Sarama, Vedic devatas who represent “three out of the four faculties of the intuitive reason, — revelation, inspiration and intuition.”647
Motilal had long been fascinated by yoga and was delighted to find himself in the company of an advanced practitioner. Perhaps out of gratitude for the young man’s assistance, Aurobindo set aside his reticence and answered questions. He had spoken about yoga with others before, but had never treated anyone as a disciple. Motilal may have been his first. Before leaving Chandernagore, he gave him one or more mantras, the traditional sign of initiation.
Aurobindo remained in contact with people in Calcutta through his cousin Sukumar Mitra, who sent him clothing and other necessities as well as oral and written communications. Aurobindo’s absence from Calcutta had by now been noticed, and there was much speculation as to his whereabouts. In response to an imaginative newspaper story, Aurobindo wrote this tongue-in-cheek paragraph, which was published in the Karmayogin on March 19:
We are greatly astonished to learn from the local Press that Sj. Aurobindo Ghose has disappeared from Calcutta and is now interviewing the Mahatmas in Tibet. We are ourselves unaware of this mysterious disappearance. As a matter of fact Sj. Aurobindo is in our midst and, if he is doing any astral business with Kuthumi or any of the other great Rishis, the fact is unknown to his other Koshas [“sheaths”]. Only as he requires perfect solitude and freedom from disturbance for his Sadhan for some time, his address is being kept a strict secret. . . . For similar reasons he is unable to engage in journalistic works, and Dharma has been entrusted to other hands.648
At the time this was written, Nivedita had edited four issues of the Karmayogin. All of them contained pieces by Aurobindo that he had left behind in Calcutta. Nivedita herself contributed articles on religion and politics and kept alive Aurobindo’s column, “Passing Thoughts.” This helped to create the impression that Aurobindo was still in charge. At one point during his stay in Chandernagore he wrote enough material to fill three issues of the journal: three installments of “Passing Thoughts,” three “Conversations of the Dead,” three “Epistles from Abroad,” three poems, two satirical sketches, and a number of essays on history, art, and yoga. The manuscripts of these writings were sent to Calcutta, but were not published.
Aurobindo’s friends in Chandernagore had difficulty sheltering him. Aware that the present arrangement was not viable, they began looking into various alternatives. Then, sometime in March, Aurobindo received another adesh: “Go to Pondicherry.” Pondicherry, the capital of the French settlements in India, was more than a thousand miles to the south. Between it and Chandernagore lay the entire length of British India. Getting from one place to the other would be a problem. After working out the outlines of a plan, he wrote notes to his cousin Sukumar Mitra and to Suresh Chandra Chakravarty, giving each a mission. Sukumar was to arrange for Aurobindo’s passage to Pondicherry, Suresh to go there beforehand and tell the local Extremists of his impending arrival. Sukumar learned that the steamship company Messageries Maritimes offered service to Colombo and France by way of Pondicherry. The next departure, by the Dupleix, would be on the morning of April 1. Aware that his house was under surveillance and that he was shadowed wherever he went, Sukumar asked a friend named Nagendrakumar Guharoy to come to his house at College Square. Pointing out two trunks, he told Nagen to take them to his hostel and to return the next day. When Nagen arrived, Sukumar gave him a sum of money and told him to buy two tickets for Colombo on board the Dupleix from a travel agent. The second ticket was for Bijoy Nag, the former member of Barin’s society, who would be traveling with Aurobindo. Sukumar told Nagen that the passengers’ names were Jotindra Nath Mitter and Bankim Chandra Bhowmik. Nagen was to inform the company that one of the passengers was weak from malaria, so that both would board the ship from their boat and not at the wharf. Nagen followed these instructions to the letter.
While Sukumar and Nagen were making the arrangements, Suresh was traveling south on the Madras Mail. The young man, only eighteen years old, had been selected to go to Pondicherry because, unlike most of his friends, he did not have a police record. Feeling silly in brand-new European clothes, he had gone to the station on March 28 and taken his seat in a second-class compartment. It was his first trip out of the province and he was both excited and tense. All he had with him was a small bag, a pulp novel called Love Made Manifest, a few rupees, and a letter from Aurobindo addressed to Parthasarathi Iyengar, care of the India office, Pondicherry. Suresh arrived in the French city early on the morning of March 31. As soon as it was light, he went in search of the India office. Getting directions was not easy, as he knew no Tamil or French and only a little English.
The same morning, Sukumar, Motilal, and others were finalizing their plan to get Aurobindo from Chandernagore to Calcutta.649 Three boats would be involved: one to ferry him across the river to Agarpara, another to take him downstream to Uttarpara, where the third boat, from Calcutta, would meet him and take him to the wharf. The first two legs of the journey went well, but when Aurobindo and his companions reached Uttarpara, they missed their rendezvous with the third boat. Amarendranath Chatterjee, who had arranged the second boat, decided to take it all the way to Calcutta. Arriving at the wharf and finding no one there, Amar took Aurobindo by carriage to 6 College Square. Sukumar was not at home, so they returned to the wharf and waited.
When Nagen Guharoy, who had hired the third boat, realized that he had missed Amarendranath’s boat, he went back to Calcutta. Once there, he hurried to College Square, where he reported to Sukumar. Sukumar told him to go to the Dupleix and remove Aurobindo’s trunks. While he was doing this, Nagen was told that the passengers had missed the medical examination and would have to go directly to a doctor’s house to take it. But they had to hurry; no one could board the ship after eleven o’clock. Nagen returned to College Square. By this time Sukumar had learned that Aurobindo and Bijoy were at the wharf, and he told Nagen to take the trunks and tickets and hurry there. At the wharf, Nagen finally met up with Amarendranath and Aurobindo. He jumped into their carriage and they rushed off to find the doctor. By then the younger men were all rather frazzled; Aurobindo, in contrast, was “absolutely calm.”650
The doctor lived on Theatre Road, just off Chowringhee Avenue. He saw “Jotindra Nath Mitter” and “Bankim Chandra Bhowmik” at about ten o’clock. While examining the first passenger, the doctor remarked that he had an excellent command of English. Aurobindo replied that he had been educated in England. Within a few minutes the passengers were on their way. An examination at the wharf might not have gone so well. Two policemen were on duty there, and Aurobindo’s face was known.
The passengers with their escorts reached the ship just before eleven o’clock. Once safely in the cabin, Amar gave some money to Aurobindo and made namaskar. Nagen, more formally, placed his head on Aurobindo’s feet. He and Amar then said goodbye. A few hours later, the Dupleix weighed anchor and began its journey south.
While Aurobindo and Bijoy were steaming south aboard the Dupleix, Suresh was trying to convince the Pondicherry Extremists that Aurobindo was about to arrive. After reaching the town on March 31, 1910 Suresh had gone to the India office in search of Parthasarathi Iyengar. Parthasarathi was not there, but his brother, Srinivasacharya, was. He read the letter Suresh had brought and said that he would make the necessary arrangements. In the meantime, Suresh would be his guest. For the next three days, Suresh sat around the house, reminding his host occasionally that Aurobindo’s ship was due on April 4. Each time, Srinivasacharya waved him aside with an insouciant “We’re looking into it.” As far as Suresh could tell, nothing was being done. Finally he insisted on seeing the place they had fixed up for Aurobindo. A young man took him to a run-down neighborhood and showed him a room above a printing establishment. Suresh was stunned but too embarrassed to protest.662
As the owner of a newspaper that had been banned in British India, Srinivasacharya was taking no chances. Two years earlier, the registered editor of India had been tried for sedition and sentenced to five years’ hard labor. Warned that he was next on the list, the actual editor, Subramania Bharati, took refuge in Pondicherry. Srinivasacharya soon joined him there. It did not take long for the CID to find them, and from then on they were kept under surveillance. Though Aurobindo’s letter seemed genuine, and Suresh’s story convincing, Bharati and Srinivasacharya decided to keep Suresh in the dark. At the same time they went to a friend of theirs, a businessman named Sankara Chettiar, and asked him if he could take Aurobindo in. Chettiar gave them the top floor of his house to use. Bharati and Srinivasacharya readied the place and also began to make arrangements for a reception. Suresh was horrified when he got wind of this. He reminded them that Aurobindo was wanted by the police, and would not be amenable to a public reception. The Tamil men were disappointed, but agreed to drop the plan.663
The Dupleix had an uneventful voyage along the coast of eastern India. At around two o’clock in the afternoon on April 4, 1910 it cast anchor off Pondicherry.664 Aurobindo and Bijoy went up on deck to scan the launch that was meeting the ship. They were relieved when they saw that Suresh was aboard. When the launch reached the Dupleix, Suresh clambered up the ladder, followed slowly by Srinivasacharya. After brief greetings, they all went to Aurobindo’s cabin for tea. Once arrangements had been made to remove the luggage, the four men boarded the launch and in fifteen minutes were standing on French soil.

 *Above photo - The upper floor of Sankara Chettiar’s house where Sri Aurobindo lived for first six months in  Pondicherry with this two colleagues - Suresh (Moni) and Bijoy)

(Pondicherry port 1910)