Monday, November 19, 2007

Aravinda Ackroyd Ghosh

Aravinda Ackroyd Ghosh

Freedom Fighters of India

Name : Aravinda Ackroyd Ghosh
Date of Birth : August 15, 1872
Date of Death : Dec 5, 1950
Place of Birth : Calcutta

Aravinda Ackroyd Ghosh was born on 15th of August 1872, in Calcutta. His father Dr. Krishnadhan Ghosh was a civil medical officer in Bengal and his mother, Swarnalata Devi, was the daughter of nationalist Rajnarayan Bose. Aravinda's father attained his M.D. from the University of Aberdeen in England.

It was Arvinda's father who added the middle name Ackroyd to Aravinda's name because a Miss Ackroyd, a visitor from England happened to be around at the time of his birth.

In 1877, Aravinda and his two elder brothers went to a special school in Darjeeling that was meant only for English children. For two years the boys were educated under Irish nuns of the Loretto Convent School. In 1879, they were off to England. While the two elder boys were admitted to a school, Aravinda, who was just seven years old at that time, was left in the care of Rev. W. H. Drewett and his wife in Manchester. Aravinda was taught by the Drewetts. He learned English and Latin from the Reverend, and history, geography, arithmetic and French from Mrs. Drewett. Soon Aravinda grew fond of reading and made good use of the personal library of the Drewetts.

Aravinda excelled in his studies. He won the Butterworth prize for literature, the Bedford prize for history and a scholarship at St. Paul's. While at the King's College at Cambridge, Aravinda was awarded a senior classical scholarship of 80 pounds per annum, in addition to a stipend as a candidate of the Indian Civil Service. Aravinda also passed the Classical Tripos examination in the first class with distinction and passed in the open competition for the Indian Civil Service in 1890. He cleared the periodical and the medical examinations but failed to appear for the horse-riding test which was compulsory for entering the Indian Civil Service. A couple of years later Aravinda returned to India on January 1893.

Aravinda married Mrinalini, daughter of Bhupal Chandra Basu, in 1901. He was 29 years old at the time of marriage while Mrinalini was only 14. The spent very little with each other as Aravinda lived in Baroda, and Mrinalini stayed in Calcutta. Aravinda was always regular in writing letters to her. The letters he wrote to her are published as a book called "Letters to Mrinalini." Mrinalini died of influenza in 1918 in Calcutta at the age of 31.

Aravinda's initial political activities as a freedom crusader were limited to Baroda, but they soon extended to Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bengal. Ghosh's aim was to mobilize the public opinion against the foreign rule through writing. He made an extensive study of Indian literature. Adept with fluency in Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali, he then voiced his views in papers like the Indu Prakash, Bande Mataram, Dharma, and Karma Yogin.

His writing soon became the inspiration for the Indian youth. He called on the young to serve the nation as "karmayogins." He wanted the youth to devote all their energies toward freeing Mother India.

Ghosh also formed secret revolutionary societies in Bengal. Where he asked members to take a solemn oath to "secure the freedom of Mother India at any cost." He fuelled the fire of revolution by organizing a huge rally on November 9, 1905, in Calcutta. In the meantime, the Bande Mataram, a paper he edited, won the praise and admiration of all. The British, in an effort to curb the growing dissent, prosecuted the Bande Mataram and arrested Ghosh, and charged him with propagating anti-British ideas. The British resorted to caning anyone chanting "Bande Mataram". However, Aravinda was acquitted for lack of proof. Ghosh was again arrested and put in jail in the Lal Bazar police station on May 5, 1908 as an undertrial prisoner for what came to be known as the Alipore bomb conspiracy. Whereby, an attempt was made by revolutionaries on Lord Kingsford's life, a presidency magistrate in Calcutta known for his harsh and prejudiced verdicts against Indians. The attempt turned into a misshap when the bomb intended for Lord Kingsford landed in the carriage of two English ladies and both the ladies died. Ghosh proposed the use of an open rebellion to attain freedom. His secret societies practiced bomb making along with the study of revolutionary literature and the Gita. Following the bombing, Ghosh's residence was raided on May 2, 1908 and Ghosh was arrested at his Grey Street residence.

At the grueling trial, the renowned Calcutta lawyer Chittaranjan Das defended Ghosh. In his statement, Ghosh said, "The whole of my case before you is this- "It is suggested that I preached the idea of freedom to my country which is against the law, I plead guilty to the charge. If it is an offence to preach the idea of freedom, I admit I have done it. I have never disputed it... I felt I was called upon to preach to my country to make them realize that India had a mission to perform in the comity of nations." Ghosh denied having engineered the attempt on Lord Kingsford's life, declaring the act as being against everything he stood for.On his release from jail, Ghosh came out a changed man. He seemed confident that India would attain her freedom. He now decided to devote his life to the liberation of the whole of the human race. On the advice of some friends, like Sister Nivedita, disciple of Swami Vivekananda, Ghosh left British India and moved to French Pondicherry on April 4, 1910 to avoid confrontation with the British.

Ghosh came to be known as Sri Aurobindo to the world. Aurobindo completed his "Savitri", which he began writing in 1899 and published in 1954. Savitri represented, in Sri Aurobindo's own words "a means of ascension". "I begin with it on a certain mental level, each time I could reach a higher level I rewrote from that level", he wrote in the "Savitri":Besides the "Savitri", Sri Aurobindo compiled numerous treatise on the Vedas, Upanishads and the Gita. His "Life Divine", "The Superman", and "Ideal of Human Unity" are fine examples of work done in simple prose. In addition, his literary criticisms, poems, and plays made Sri Aurobindo a litterateur of the highest order.

Sri Aurobindo was a master of Yoga, which he believed, would develop the "higher principles of life" that remain hidden within every individual. He felt humanity could attain perfection little by little through conscious preparation and effort.On the Independence Day, Sri Aurobindo's message to the nation was, "August 15, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation, an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity." Sri Aurobindo died on December 5, 1950 in Pondicherry.

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