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at at wat: wat oq faraa: 
Let noble thoughts come to us from every side 
—Rigveda, I-89-i 


General Editors 





Organising Committee : 
Liravatt Munsut—Chairman 
K. K. Birra 
“8. G. Nevarra 
J. H. Dave 


Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose 
In Malaya, 1943 





All Rights Reserved 

First Published in this series—January 1966 

National Library. Caleutes 
Delivery ef Books Act, 1954 

8 AUG IS88 

Price: Rs. 2.50 

ee tng es po 

+ Np 8957 a 

‘‘ co 24. 66 ' 


By P. H. Raman at Associated Advertisers & Printers, 505, Tardeo 
Arthur Road, Bombay-34, and Published by S. ~ Ramakrishnan, 

EE i Ne URE, RETA rain i RR ee Msc mca ang SR 


THE Bharatiya Vidya BBgvan—that Institute of Indian 
Culture in Bombay—needed a Book University, a series of 
books which, if read, would serve the purpose of providing 
higher education. Particular emphasis, however, was to be 
put on such literature as revealed the deeper impulsions of 
India. Asa first Step, it was decided to bring out in English 
100 books, 50 o¥ ‘whith were‘ to be taken in hand almost at 
once. Each book pesto contain from 200 to 250 pages and 
was to be priced at Rs. 2.50. 

It is our intention to publish the books we select, not 
only in English, but also in the following Indian languages: 
Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada 
_and Malayalam. 

This scheme, involving the publication of 900 volumes, 
requires ample funds and an all-India organisation. The 
Bhavan is exerting its utmost to supply them. 

The objectives for which the Bhavan stands are the 
reintegration of the Indian culture in the light of modern 
knowledge and to suit our present-day needs and the resus- 
citation of its fundamental values in their pristine vigour. 

Let me make our goal more explicit: 

We seek the dignity of man, which necessarily implies 
the creation of social conditions which would allow him 
* freedom to evolve along the lines of his own temperament 

«and capacities; we seek the harmony of individual efforts 

PRETENSE NS Les ot olen a Cr, Tae, e's. tee! , a a: ee 


the framework of the Moral Order; we seek the creative 
art of life, by the alchemy of which human limitations are 
progressively transmuted, so _ man may become the 
instrument of God, and is able*to see Him in all and all 
xn Him. . 

The world, we feel, is too much with us. Nothing would 
uplift or inspire us so much as the beauty and aspiration 
which such books can teach. 

In this series, therefore, the literature of India, an- 
cient and modern, will be published in a form easily acces- 
sible to all. Books in other literatures of the world, if 
they illustrate the principles we stand for, will also be in- 

This common pool of literature, it is hoped, will enable 
the reader, eastern or western, to understand and appre- 
ciate currents of world thought, as also the movements of 
the mind in India, which, though they flow through differ- 
ent linguistic channels, have a common urge and aspiration. 

Fittingly, the Book University’s first venture is the 
Mahabharata, summarised by one of the greatest, living 
Indians, C. Rajagopalachari; the second work is on a sec- 
tion of it, the Gita by H.V. Divatia, an eminent jurist and a 
student of philosophy. Centuries ago, it was proclaimed of 
the Mahabharata: “What is not in it, is nowhere.” After 
twenty-five centuries, we can use the same words about it. 
He who knows it not, knows not the heights and depths of 
the soul; he misses the trials and tragedy and the beauty 
and grandeur of life. 

The Mahabharata is not a mere epic; it is a romance, 


who were divine; it is a whole literature in itself, contain- 
ing a code of life; a philosophy of social and ethical rela- 
tions, and speculative thought on human problems that is 
hard to rival; but, above all, it has for its core the Gita, 
which is, as the world is beginning to find out, the noblest 
of scriptures and the grandest of sagas in which the 
climax is reached in the wondrous Apocalypse in the 
Eleventh Canto. 

Through such books alone the harmonies underlying 
true culture, I am convinced, will one day reconcile the dis- 
orders of modern life. 

I thank all those who have helped to make this new 
branch of the Bhavan’s activity successful. 

QUEEN Vicrorta Roap, 
New Deus. K, M. MUNSHI 
3rd October, 1951. 


My reminiscences on Netaji first saw the light of day 
at the end of the year 1946. Nearly two decades have 
glided by since then and, naturally, I have had to modify 
some of my views and comments on him in the light o: 
subsequent events some of which have been not onl; 
spectacular but revealing to boot. But this is not im 
portant. What is important is that during all this time 
his stature has continually increased till it tends today 
to become almost legendary, so much so that one is force: 
fully reminded of a pregnant line of Rabindranath in hi: 
immortal poem on Shahjahan: Tomar kirtir cheye tumi 4 
mahat, which means: “You are greater than your achie. 
vements.” Or, shall I say, Netaji’s great life, deepenin; 
into a beacon, as it were, reminds one of the poet Brown. 
ing’s emphasis on aspiration as against achievement: 

Not on the vulgar mass 
Called work must sentence pass, 
Things done that took the eye and had the price, 
O’er which from level stand, 
The low world laid its hand, 
Found straightaway to its mind, could value in a trice 

Thoughts hardly to be packed ee 
Into a narrow act, 
Fancies that broke through language and escaped: 
All I could never be, 
All men ignored in me— 
This was I worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher 

I stress this as it is from this view-point that I have 
attempted my appraisement of Netaji’s personality al 
through our close friendship in the course of which we 
have both passed through deserts of pain and aridity as 


Some may hold that I have divagated now and then, 
bringing in Yoga and mystic-seeking, Pandit Jawaharlal 
and Sri Aurobindo. But I do hope that discerning 
readers will agree that it was all germane to my theme 
in that I had not only to create a background but also 
te bring into bold relief how and where exactly Netaji’s 
philosophy differed from my own. I have essayed this, 
however, not merely to limn him as I have seen him, but 
to stress as well the greatness of his tolerance and the 
genuineness of his mystic outlook on life. In fact, the 
more closely I came to know him, the more convinced 
I became that it was because he was an authentic my- 
stic at heart, that he could worship with every fibre of 
his passionate being the divine essence and aura of 
Mother India, That is why he so often loved to recite a 
poem Dwijendralal (a poet he adored) wrote in 1886 
in Aryagatha: 

Jei sthane aj karo bicharan 
Pabitra se desh, punyamoya sthan, 
Chilo se ekada devalilabhumi, 
Korona korona tar apaman. 

Which may be translated as: 

O Aryan, know that this our Motherland’s soil, 
On which you tread, is a land hallowed and hoary, 
Which was of yore the playground of the Gods: 
Beware of tarnishing her stainless glory. 

I need hardly explain why I thought fit to add the 
Appendices which will speak for themselves. 

I have tried to delete as many repetitions as possible 
in the Appendices except in one or two places for reasons 
which, I feel, are too obvious to need an apology, 

I must aknowledge a deep debt I owe to Netaji’s be- 
loved nephew, Dr. Sisir Kumar Bose, for helping in many 
ways, besides suggesting the title of the present volume 
in this edition, as well as for permiting me to quote 
a few inspiring passages from Netaji’s beautiful and 
moving autobiography which Dr. Bose published in 1965, 


It is entitled An Indian Pilgrim at the end of which is 
appended a sheaf of his letters to his mother, translated 
from Bengali. These letters, incidentally, amply bear 
out my contention (as he himself confesses in one of 
them) that Netaji was a mystic par excellence and not 
“a politician. For none but an authentic mystic could 
pour out in letter after letter to his mother (and he was 
a mere teen-ager at the time) his touching aspiration for 
God and godliness, saints and holiness and the sacredness 
of the very soil of Mother India he adored. 

Hari Krishna Mandir, Dirie Kumar Roy 
January 1966. 


O son of strength, who spurned on earth the lures of lesser 

loves’ delight, 
And, to help us worldlings, gave up all for which we clamour, 

fret and fight! 
You lived to achieve our India’s freedom in our homeland and abroad 
And we hailed you as our country’s leader, by vour sunrise overawed, 

You sang the Gita’s song “Arise and deal death to the shadows’ 
And so our Lord of dawn booned you with the crown of Immortality, 

Hlusion’s slaves will long to cull life’s coloured shells with 
sleepless zeal 
And stay ensnared by Siren Maya’s transient beauty’s dark appeal. 
They wonder why you won no laurels from the hand of Destiny, 
And what mad impulse made you follow a phantom gleam 

You sang the Gita's song “Arise and deal death to the shadows’ 
And so our Lord of dawn booned you with the crown of Immortality, 

How can the prudent miser ever respond to the call of sacrifice? 
Why Radha chased the Flute of Flame—how can they know, 
the worldly-wise? 
How can the addict of the flesh aspire for the starland’s bliss? 
Or the worm who never pined for sky the thrill of soaring 
eagles miss? 

You sang the Gita’s song “Arise and deal death to the shadows’ 
And so our Lord of dawn booned you with the crown of Immortality, 


You chanted the Gita's deathless hymn: “Wage war we must 
to do His will 
And quell the embattled alien hordes and, dying tonight, 
His Morn reveal; 
We'll cross the seven seas, ride the storm and rule the waves, 
may bless us God: 
We'll stake our all for the All-in-all, redeem our Motherland 
with our blood. 

You sang the Gita's song “Arise and deal death to the shadows’ 
And so our Lord of dawn booned you with the crown of Immortality, 


Love outflashed in your mystic soul, Campaigner of Eternity! 
Who never could laze or loll upon your couch of golden luxury. 

Those who have heard your bugle of love haye heard the angel 
conch of Grace: 

“His Love's pole-star shall light the pilgrim’s path to His 
Home's last loveliness.” 

You sang the Gita's song “Arise and deal death to the shadows’ 

And so our Lord of dawn booned you with the crown of Immortality. 

(Translated by Dilip Kumar Roy from his own Bengali song, 


Hari Vishnu Kamath 
Chandulal Desai 

Dear Friends, 

I dedicate my Netaji—the Man to you for a twofold 

First, because you were among those Netaji loved as 
his friends and on whom he did rely. 

Secondly, because you recognised the mystic flame 
which burned in his heart quenchlessly all his life, the 
white flame that made him write to his mother when 
he was a mere boy of fifteen: “Mother, India is God’s 
beloved land.’’ 

You will remember I made mention of this revealing 
letter in my discourses on him in New Delhi in December 
1964 because you were both present at the meeting 

I quoted also his hortatory speech to the I.N.A. 
soldiers whom he Jed to the gates of Imphal on July 4, 
1944, a feat which made history: 

“We should have but one desire today: the de- 
sire to die so that India may live, the desire to face 

a martyr’s death so that the path to freedom may 

be paved with the martyrs’ blood.” 

He cherished this phenomenal aspiration all his life, 
to his last breath. May we in our turn cherish his dear 

No true aspiration is vain, says the Gita. Or, in the 
words of Tagore: 


I know: no single prayer of love, by life begun, 
Though unsustained, 
No bud before it blossomed on the earth fell—wan 
And shadow-stained, 
No ill-starred rill that pathless in the desert ran, 
Was lost, O friend! 
Nothing, I know, that aches for its hour of bloom 
shall wait 
Ever in vain 

And all in me that’s still unborn—inviolate, 
Trembles amain 

In music on thy harp-strings? Lord, beyond the fate 
Of muted pain.* 

With love, 


1913. I was in the Matriculation class in the Metro- 
politan Institution founded by the great Vidyasagar, 
cramming to the top of my bent; I felt it incumbent on 
me to do my best to prove my mettle by irradiating un- 


stintingly the lustre of a resplendent crammer, who as- ° 

pired to rank among the first twelve matriculates. I 
failed: I ranked several rungs lower in the First Divi- 
sion. People said that music had been the cause of my 
ruin. They were not far out. For music was for me— 
woe is me !—a greater idol than even the model of the 
ideal crammer. But this I have been able to blurt out 
after the event. Within the four walls of the school I 
had almost forgotten my music—till I was again roused 
from my torpor by the outside world resonant with the 
“concord of sweet sounds’. This was the background. 
My hero was Khitish Chatterji, who made his mark later 
as a well-known intellectual of Bengal. He was the 
“first boy” of our class. I, plodding Dilip, was only the 
“second boy”. I could not beat him in our class exami- 
nations, strain ever so hard as I would. 
Suddenly, one Nibaran, hailing from Cuttack, burst 
a bomb-shell. We had all ventilated in unison our pro- 
phecy that Khitish would top the list of successful matri- 
culates. Now, this Nibaran, an impossible provincial, told 
me, smiling: “No fear, my dear day-dreamer! In our 
- Cuttack Ravenshaw School there is a jewel of a boy, 
Subhash, son of Janakinath Bose. He will far outshine 
your jewel’’. 
“Indeed!” I did my best trying to outsmile him. 

eee es op ee! eee, ee Le, As i ae, ee. ee on 


one better on my know-all smile and met it on the re- 
bound with a redoubtable guffaw. 

“Likhe rakh”, he said in Bengali, meaning I could 
put it down in black and white and verify subsequently 

-the oracle of a born prophet. 

I was at once intrigued and indignant. Our first-boy 
(we all swore by our school patriotism) must outelass all 
other first-boys in this universe. How dare an interloper 
butt in and beat our Khitish of unrivalled memory and 
angelic intelligence! (Not that we were at all well-post- 
ed about the mental equipment of the angel world!) Aye, 
Khitish who looked like a giant even physically; Khitish 
whose father had collaborated with him and written out 
his ninety essays which he memorised; Khitish who had 
never been absent for a day in our school; Khitish who, 
even after school hours, took private lessons in English 
and mathematics: in short, Khitish who was one in a 
million, as even our phlegmatic Headmaster said, with a 
catch in his voice! Nay, we all felt like murder when- 
ever Nibaran maddened us with his cryptic-triumphant 

And Khitish wasn’t one to let us down: he did us 
proud by ranking seventh among 10,000 matriculates. (I 
had to eat humble pie, standing 18th, or was it 24th ?). 

But hulloah! What is this? Subhash, ranking 
second, after Pramatha Sarear of the Mitra institution ! 
My hair stood perpendicular like a porcupine’s! 

Now flashed Nibaran the prophet once again, his 
face wreathed in smiles: “And he would have out-topped ~ 
this Sarcar, too, had he been a bookworm like them. But 
Subhash never cared to ‘cram’. He consorted with Yogis 
and Sages all the time and pored over Vivekananda’s 


how he chortled! It almost seemed as if it was he, and 
not Subhash, who had put Khitish in his place.* 

But this blow, or shall I say thrill, made “the jewel 
of Ravenshaw School” outflame into a “star” insomuch 
that I changed my hero overnight. Christ may have” 
been right when he said that children are cherubs in- 
cognito, but their faces on earth cannot claim to glow 
with the hearts’ loyalty. A more coloured idol would 
wean them away in a flash from their old ones: they 
have no ties nor anchorage that bind them to the past. 

Thus it began—my adoration of Subhash, the thril- 
ling vanquisher of our invincible First Boy! I strove in 
my own small way—a la Sherlock Holmes—to gather tit- 
bits of information, relevant and irrelevant, about the 
new star on our academic horizon. Nibaran, I may own 
—without ado—had risen overnight in my estimation. 
With adolescents prophecy succeeds even more than suc- 
cess. So, I lent him a reverent ear now that he, proud 

* Years later some of his posthumous letters, written to his 
mother in 1912-13, have amply vindicated Nibaran. ‘To quote 
but from two of these: 

“Revered Mother! The esence of human life—a continuous 
cycle of birth and death—is dedication to Lord Hari. Life is mean- 
ingless without it... If an educated person has no character, shall 
T call him a pundit? Never. And, if an uneducated person is con- 
scientious in his ways, believes in and loves God, I am prepared 
to accept him as a Mahapundit, Learning a few platitudes does 
not make a man learned; true knowledge comes from realisation of 

God. The rest is not knowledge.... I worship the man whose 
heart is overflowing with the love of God..., Mother, what, in 
your opinion, is the purpose of education?... I do not know if 

you will be happiest if we grow up to be judges, magistrates, 
barristers or high-placed officials or if we come to be admired for 
wealth and fortune by worldly men.... Merciful God has given 
us this life... for His worship and His work—but, Mother, do we 
do His work?... Shame on this Godless education. One who 
does not sing His glory has been born in vain!” 

(An Indian Pilgrim, by Netaji, Asia Publishing House, 
Pp. 117-120). . 

as a peacock, told me ever so many things I itched to 

(Subhash—a great scholar (we used the epithet piti- 
lessly)—number one. A pure character—number two. 
“No girl dare darken with her shadow even the shadow 
of his shadow—number three. A devotee of Viveka- 
nanda—number four. And last, though not least, lo, he 
goes away from home as a Sannyasi* in search of a 
Guru! After this final, apocalyptic revelation I just had 
to capitulate. What chance had a normal Khitish against 
such a superhuman colossus ?°} 

For I was already, at twelve, an ardent devotee of 
Sri Ramakrishna and was fully persuaded then—a persua- 
sion that was, subsequently, to ripen into a bedrock con- 
viction—that there could not be a greater message than 
the one given by that great Messiah of Dakshineswar: 
“To realise the Divine is the ultimate object of life—the 
highest pursuit of the soul—and beware, ye who aspire ! 
for He brooks no rival !” 

Coloured images rocketed endlessly in the sky of 
my adolescent imagination: some day, maybe, Subhash 
and myself would start on our romantic trek, scouring 
the Himalayas in search of a great Guru! In those days 
I used to devour ever so many books on the lives of the 
saints and sages, apostles and prophets, messiahs and 

‘avatars and thrill in imagination to the picture of my- 
self roaming the pathless forests to reach fearsome caves 
in the neighbourhood of friendly tigers and hooded ser- 
pents and wouldn’t they eat out of my hands, or rather the 

* I can’t swear to it whether this piece of information T got 


hands of Subhash and myself? But alas, the unroman- 
tic world and the stark reality of text-books came again 
and again to shatter my dream-world peopled by fan- 
tastic figures. Such is life! 

And the citadel of this stark reality was the drab 
building of our College where we both had secured ad- 
mission. So naturally, I saw him daily; but I could not 
muster up courage to accost him. 

I had gleaned many more pieces of information about 
him, and with greater ease, now that he had come to live 
on Elgin Road while I stayed—after my father’s death, 
in 1913—with my grandfather Dr. P.C. Majumdar in his 
Theatre Road mansion. Subhash’s house was about half- 
a-mile from ours. I used often to pass along Elgin Road 
and, looking wistfully at his room on an upper floor, 
speculate how we would fare someday as a couple of 
beggar sadhus and sing: 

‘Koupinavantah khalu bhagyavantah: those decked 

_ out in sack-cloth and ashes are the only fortunate ones 

on earth,’ 


One fine morning, Subhash called on me—a bolt from 
the blue with the thunder transformed into light! The 
mountain had, indeed, come to Mahomet as Mahomet was 
too shy! I read books in running brooks and sermons 
in stones in uncontainable pride—on that first day I 
talked with my hero and idol. And the first love-talk 
broke the ice, somehow. He had come to draw me into 
a debating club he had started. “Debates must be en- 
couraged among us; the country will need great debaters, 


parliamentarians—when we are free, that is.’”* 

“Debates!” I fell from the sky, as our Bengali idion 
has it. “But didn’t Sri Ramakrishna say: through debate: 
you never can win a clue to the truth?” 

“Never mind what he said”, Subhash cut in im 
patiently. “We must not remain everlastingly moorec 
to the past. Traditions have been the bane of our Hindi 
culture. We must create the future. Did not your grea’ 
father say: 

Chokher samne dharia rakhia atiter sei maha 

Jagibo nutan bhaber rajye, rachibo premer 

(Two decades afterwards, when I was in Pondicherry 
Sri Aurobindo translated this song of my father’s intc 
English; this couplet means: 
Before us still there floats the ideal 
of those splendid days of gold: 
A new world in our vision wakes, 
Love’s India we shall rise to mould.) 

I was thrilled. 

“You know his poems?” I asked. 

“Of course,” he nodded brightly. ‘He was a raré 
poet and a great composer of national songs. I call hin 
a charan kavi. I often recite his song, Mevar paharh 
Mevar paharh. I wish I could sing it like you.” Anc 
then: “You should be proud of your father rather thar 
of the old traditionalists who don’t get us anyhere.” 

* Here I must state without apology that I will be putting hi: 
talks with me in my own language. For I can’t possibly recall the 
exact words he said then as well as later. But the gist will be 
roundly faithful to what he said. This I venture to claim as | 


I was in a dilemma. For while this revelation cer- 
tainly endeared Subhash infinitely more to me, I could 
not, alas, even dream of ranking my father, however 
great,. with Sri Ramakrishna, traditionalist or not. The 
one was an Iswarkoti, the other a Jivakoti—a great Jiva, 
granted—a genius, a patriot, a man of the noblest attain- 
ments, but still—no, truth was greater than all the fathers 
in the world put together—I winced at the very thought 
of ranking a poet and a patriot with an Avatar. My view 
hereanent has not changed one tittle. But adolescence 
even at its summit fervour lacks courage of conviction. 
So I was tongue-tied. 

Subhash was pleased with my silence, taking it for 

“Yes,’’ he pursued, “we should burn only to serve 
cur country. But mere emotion supplies little fuel. One 
must seek equipment and become modern.” 

I was crushed. He had come to the wrong shop. The 
article of modernity was not to be found in the then thin 
body of an emotional singer and a reader of the Puranas 
and Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita. 

.He took pity—at long last. 

“T don’t want to be irreverent to Sri Ramakrishna,” 
he said to me assuagingly. “But I admire more his mod- 
ern disciple, Vivekananda.” 

This was, surely, the last straw. 

“T can’t,” I exploded, “for I have never even dream- 
ed that Vivekananda could come anywhere near his Mas- 
ter, as he himself admitted proudly more than once.” 

“That’s just his greatness,” he protested. “For who 
t made Sri Ramkrishna famous the world over?” 

I could feel blood spiralling up my temples. 
“AsGod-lover does not need fame to get his market- 


value enhanced.” I riposted essaying in vain to temper 
the heat in my retort. 

It was not in Subhash to be really irreverent towards 
anybody. In that sense he was perhaps not an ultra- 
* modern. He appraised me for a little. 

“Look here, Dilip,’’? he said in a conciliatory tone. 
“Let’s drop this discussion for the present. I want you 
only to promise me that you will take an active part in 
our debating club.” 

I was highly flattered and, withal, scared. 

“Okay,” I stammered out. “Only—you see, I am too 
..-too shy to speak. I have never spoken in public. But 
I am...well, a good listener.” 

Subhash laughed. I never found Subhash more be- 
witching than when he was in the grip of laughter. It 
always reminded me of the old simile of the grim rock 
overlaying a spring. Just a push, a thud—and lo, the 
entire scenery is transformed! 

“But though a debating society must have its listen- 
ers,” he said, when his laughter had subsided, “I wonder 
how you are going to function as an active participator 
if your part were confined to that of an ideal listener 

“It’s true,” I admitted shamefacedly. “But you see 
my difficulty, don’t you?” 

(Was there ever a greenhorn on earth who didn’t 
feel he was adding to his stature when he emulated an 
adult and talked of problems and difficulties of life?) 

“Well,” Subhash shook his head more wisely still. 
“My answer is: Yes and No. For difficulties gain their 
edge and weight because we, Indians, are so absurdly 
diffident. Read Shakespeare: Screw your courage to the 
sticking4place and you’ll not fail.” 


A curious thing about Subhash was that even copy- 
book maxims somehow ceased to sound copy-bookish in 
his voice, throbbing with sincerity. And in his accent 
even his Victorian Puritanism dressed up in the neo- 
Brahmo garb of standoffishness won a new ring which 
carried conviction. This was brought home to me years 
later in Cambridge when we were thrown much together 
and where, naturally, I saw more of him in a deeper and 
clearer light. But to resume, 

“That’s true enough,” I said with a wry smile, “but 
IT haven’t yet stated my difficulty fully. Its crux is, in 
essence, the same as that of the ‘Might-have-been Hero’ 
my father immortalised in a song, the hero who might 
have shaped into all kinds of things but somehow was 
baulked of the final victory everytime, all along the line. 
But his greatest misfire was in the arena of oratory. 
Here is his dirge’’—and I hummed (in Bengali): 

Dekho, hote partam rajnaitik baktao antatah— 
Kintu danrhalei hai smranshakti abadhya strir 
Ar mukhasto sab buli eman bejai jai sab ghuliye; 
Ar sujog peye rukhe dandai birohi bhab guli he; 
Ta hajar kashi adar kori darhite hat buliye; 
Tai railam baithakkhana bakta ami chote motei to. 
(Here is my translation: 
I might have shaped into a leonine orator in my 
But when I rise to my feet, my memory acts 
like a rebel wife; 
And then the things rehearsed, alas, just leave 
me in the lurch; 
And nought but choice seditious phrases 
answer my frantic search! 


Aye, it’s because of this slight hitch I failed 
to range and roar 
On the platform and so stayed, alas, a drawing- 
room. orator.) 

“But,” he laughed, “I am not enjoining you to out- 
flame into an orator yet. And surely, in the College 
sedition will remain a taboo till doomsday. What I want 
is that we all should learn the art of thinking on our 
feet. Besides, the practice of debating, arguing one’s 
case like an advocate, does initiate one somewhat into 
the art of self-discipline and self-reliance which must be 
reckoned a splendid gain. Don’t you see how we, In- 
dians, are utterly dependent on others—for action, views, 
drive—in fact, everything? So, I have decided that de- 
bating classes have got to help train us to stand on our 
legs.” ee 
It was, indeed, in this persuasive-cum-fiery way that 
he exhorted me to come out of my shell. But he did 
more—and that is what he alone could do—to wit, he bent 
me to his will even though, in the end, he did fail to 
mould me into what he wished, so that although I knew 
full well it was not my swadharma—the destiny I was 
cut out for—I just had to acquiesce, willy-nilly. 

I do not remember what other topics we discussed 
on that day. Nevertheless I have quoted him only to 
emphasise what a forceful personality he was even in 
those days, and how precocious, besides. For it must 
be borne in mind that we were hardly seventeen yet; 
legally, we hadn’t even come of age. But whenever we, 
undergraduates, talked with Subhash, we somehow all 
looked up to him as our senior if not our mentor. He 
had a native power to lead, and he knew it. I know this 


* it never did him any harm. But this I will say with 
confidence that he had never once made people who 
obeyed him feel that they were his inferiors or subordi- 
nates. Those who, during the last war, dubbed Subhash 
an intolerant Fascist, inclined to treat all human beings 
as menials or underlings, cannot have known him, 


I have, I trust, brought it out lucidly enough that 
Subhash’s line of development—swadharma—was not on 
all fours with my own. We both knew we had been 
fashioned in different moulds. (I realised more and more 
(to my sorrow, I must confess) that Subhash was un- 
likely to flower out eventually into a man of God, even 
though he had a very strong streak of the mystic in him. 
He was built of too robust and radio-active a material. 
Also, he found out that I, in my turn, was not nearly as 
malleable as I looked. For all that, we remained close 
friends to the end. No cloud of irremediable misunder- 
standing ever cast its baleful shadow upon the light of 
tenderness and sympathy with which we greeted each 
other from day to day. And yet—in one phase of our 
relationship—Subhash knew that he had only to insist - 
and I would obey him. He loved politics. I disliked -it. 
This must have stung him to the soul—causing a deep 
wound that could never completely heal. But only on 
one occasion did he betray his pain, to wit, when I gave 
up worldly life and took to the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo 
in 1928; he spoke publicly against our “escapist mysti- 
cism.” But even then, and afterwards as well, he loved 
the delinquent as tenderly as ever. So I contend he 

could not have been intransigent, far less domineering. 


All ‘who have known his lovable self, limpid like the 
“morning star; who have even once come under his affee 
tionate glance of silence; who have worked with hin 
even for a few days on a footing of simple camaraderie 
must have realised that he could never impose his will or 
the free choice of those he would have given much to wir 
over, His faith in the liberal moral values was too lumi 
nous, his heart of affection too pure, his mental sympathy 
too genuine to suffer him to break others on the wheel o 
ruthless dictatorship, one of the deadliest scourges o: 
our Godless age.’ But I will close this topic with a per 
sonal instance. “Interested detractors of his goodness may 
not believe it, but to those who have known him, wha 
I am going to relate will, I am sure, ring true. 

I have said, temperamentally we had little in com: 
mon. And the divergence between our outlooks on life 
only widened with time. I came more and more to value 
art and poetry and music while he came more and more 
to idolise his country, India. My patriotism grew mor 
and more tenuous through lack of the heart’s suppor 
which fared gropingly in the direction of mystic art and 
I will risk the word, Godquest. The more I grew, the 
less could I swear by this world of aimless activism, un 
scrupulous diplomacy and soulless organization of appliec 
science. The more he grew, the more divine seemed tc 
him the cause of India’s freedom. I could not see tha’ 
the political Indian was any better than the politica 
Westerner, nor retain my faith in political nostrums witk 
only a change of ugly names to serve as a camouflage 
for those who held the reins and key-posts of power 
Still I stayed attached to Subhash even as he stayed res 
ponsive to my .attachment—to the last. But to come tc 


It happened about the year 1923 or 1924; that “is, 
just when C.R. Das had started his Swaraj Party which 
rapidly grew in prestige and stature. Bengal went mad. 
Subhash was Das’s ablest lieutenant, his “right hand” as 
we used to style him. Das wanted me to join his party 
and stand for election in my own constituency, against 
the Maharaja of Nadia. I was disconcerted. For although 
I had always admired the stature of his picturesque per- 
sonality—to say nothing of his sacrifice—I could never 
bring myself to like the ways of politics, his or anybody 
else’s for that matter. Furthermore, I felt within me an 
other-worldly vairagya deepening day by day, a strange 
light which made political games seem utterly puerile. I 
approached Subhash and told him again about my ‘diffi- 
culties.’ “But,” I added in the end, “if you still ask me 
to join politics I will, even if I have to go to jail for it 
—for your sake. But, for political advantages I will 
never court prison. I have long lost faith in national 
patriotism, as you know, and I am persuaded that what- 
ever use it may have had for mankind in the past, to- 
day it has become the cancer of civilization. Now tell 
me what you want me to do.” 

Subhash was evidently pained that I disowned patrio- 
tism so unqualifiedly. His eyes were dark with flitting 
shadows. He gave me a long look, then put a hand on 
my shoulder and said: “Dilip, do you think I am a fana- 
tic or what?\ I know politics is not your line. I_know 
also how deeply you love poetry and mysticism and 
music. How then can I ask you to sacrifice your ideal 
for mine? No. Follow your own bent—swadharma. I 
am not a chauvinist, Dilip. Nor have I ever shouted, as 

some have, that every son of India must work in the 
i ee a a ee a aS. ee es Phe, meee” fey” Se i See ens mee 


“India best, I feel, only if you were true to the deepest 
call of your nature.” 

I-have not made him say what he didn’t. And I 
must add that this made me see him in a new light al- 
together. For I had come gradually to look askance at 
the ways of our young hopefuls. The absurd spinning- 
wheel as a message, too, left me cold and I never could 
understand how even great men like C.R. Das and Pan- 
dit Jawaharlal had been persuaded to flirt with khaddar 
and rationalise a mediaeval anachronism into a modern 
panacea. I repeated to Subhash one day what Tagore 
had once told me about the spinning-wheel: that it look- 
ed too puny and paltry to stir the souls of those who 
wanted to play for large stakes. “For, Tagore had said 
in his inimitable vein with a delightful dye-twinkle, “the 
spinning-wheel may, indeed, create yarns, but how on 
earth it is going to create swaraj—and that within a year 
or thereabouts—is to me dark as a lampless, moonless | 
night. I am not joking,” he had added quickly. “For 
it cannot possibly call to the soul as a message has to 
—for instance, whether you agree with Vivekananda or 
no, his was a message—a drum-beat inviting you to sacri- 
fice, to stake your all. Those who think that the spin- 
ning-wheel can spur you on similarly do not understand 
the rudiments of human psychology. Suppose you, a born 
leader, sound a clarion-call: the majority may turn a deaf 
ear, but a handful will follow—provided it is a call not 
to play safe, mind you. But how on earth is the spin- 
ning-wheel going to prove such a great call? Spin, spin, 
spin—just pronounce the word thrice and tell me hones- 
tly: does your pulse beat a thought faster? Do you not 
feel deflated, if not actually betrayed?” I have not mis- 

a. SO, Oe CORRAL, RMR, |MMGNE. a ne mer Gees Sn eens 


even more—which I would rather not quote—and I know 
Subhash, too, thought likewise. Could it be otherwise? 
Was it really possible for a sane man, eager to do or die, 
really to believe that the spinning-wheel was going to 
survive save as an historical relic in our future national 
museums? But I am divagating—since this is not my 
line nor what I would underline. Politics I dislike and 
that is all there is to it. Let all shed their life-blood for 
politics, I can only shed mine for the Divine, and the 
mystic art. My point is that, even when Subhash wanted 
to convert me to his view that politics was worth while, 
he did not press an advantage he could have easily gain- 
ed if only he had been a shade less conscientious. Does 
not that prove my contention that he had never been 
moulded in the clay of the intolerant all-to-the-one-fold- 
ism of the Fascist philosophy? 
But to take up the thread where I left it, 


My nascent enthusiasm for debates preparatory to 
“saving the country” with Parliamentarian word-play (so 
admired by all who matter!) petered out soon enough. 
Even my mentor’s inexhaustible energy failed to go on 
raking up a fire unreplenished by the heart’s fuel. I 
think Subhash had been, initially, a trifle disappointed 
by my lack of ardour. But probably he came to realise 
in time that, to make good, a debater was to be as 
much born as a poet or a musician. In any event, he 
exhorted me no more to flower out into an orator. Pos- 
sibly he was persuaded eventually that it would be more 
rewarding to make his mark first in our College debates 

et bee te An 


Schwaermerei, stringing together flamboyant phrases in 
a foreign tongue. Poor Dilip amiably collapsed, to be re- 
suscitated nevermore. I suspect my friend then took a sud- 
den pity on me because the mother in him woke up when 
he saw the plight to which his innocent friend and pro- 
tégé was brought, inevitably, by his insistence. This ele- 
ment of motherliness in him had always been a salient 
feature of his character. He had been born with a pro- 
nounced streak of tenderness in his composition—or, shall 
I say, a sympathetic indulgence for the weak who turned 
to him? It brought him strange colleagues if not bed- 
fellows: roughs and rogues and parasites flocked to him 
and had only to squeak in a famished accent to be ac- 
cepted at their face value. It is well-known how some 
of his best friends betrayed him secretly to the C.I.D. 
which got the most damning evidence against him, thanks 
to such traitors. But even these were always quartered 
by Subhash whenever they were in desperate straits. In 
fact Subhash was always an annadata (giver of bread) to 
an army of molly-coddles and adventurers. Of course 
these were not the only ones who exploited him. The 
deserving ones, too, were cared for no less. For instance, 
political detenus, many of whom were really noble souls, 
seldom appealed to him in vain. He had them always in 
his mind and he did all he could to relieve the miseries 
of their derelict families. I had to organize a few music 
concerts in aid of these and for this Subhash was so ab- 
surdly grateful to me that it sometimes actually tickled 
me: he would take it almost as a personal favour. And 
one of the reasons of his exaggerated recognition of such 
service as I could render to the cause of his heart was 
his knowledge of my rooted dislike of politics and politi- 


in jest, that I could never bring myself to believe that he 
might ever shape into an authentic “country-saving” poli- 
tician and I would add: “You, Subhash, could never 
thrive on dishonesty, for if you told a lie you would be 
found out in no time. Such country innocents are not 
cut out for diplomacy and bluff.” Nor was he a born 
politician, to whom all ideals were at best bubbled illu- 
sions, still less was he a go-getter, who turned out neat 
compliments by the dozen to arrive. That is why when, 
in Jater life, he tried to pay compliments he did not meun 
he always bungled. For all that he was by composition 
robust—he was not merely boasting when he said in 
Burma that he never could “admit defeat under any cir- 
cumstances.””* And he was essentially honest, besides; 
that was why he felt like a derelict when his friends de- 
cided that all was lost, as for instance when the Con- 
gress had rusticated him for three years. He could have 
retrieved his position fairly easily if he had been a real 
diplomat. But he never had been, I repeat, an adept in 
the art of lying or pretending. He was by nature too 
reserved if not shy—even gawkish. This may sound 
somewhat curious so late in the day—especially after the 
Burma episode where he erupted into the white glare of 
romance intensified almost into a mythical lime-light; but 
still I must insist that he was not a man who longed for 
or doted on publicity. No wonder, he always cut a sorry 
figure in a party tussle. 

I know how much he had suffered, because I know 
how flaming was his enthusiasm when he had come back 
from Europe in 1921. He did then believe, with every 
fibre of his being, that spiritual truth and patriotism were 
but different aspects of the same Divine. For at that 

* Last special Order of the Day dated 24-4-1945. Os 


time he had a truly mystic outlook which had enabled him 
to transcend his country. That vision, alas, got blurred: 

_—progressively. To expect otherwise would perhaps be | 
folly. The task to which he had dedicated himself heart 
and soul was derived from a conscience born of an idea- 
lism too impatient for fulfilment. 

FIVE o> 

I can never forget a long conversation we had one 
evening in Subhash’s Elgin Road house. I will try to re- 
produce it from memory. I can’t guarantee the report’s 
faithfulness in detail but it will be substantially true. 

We were sitting on a terrace. The sun had just set 
and now stars began to bud here and there. 

“Dilip,” Subhash suddenly said after a sudden lull in 
our conversation, “I sometimes feel so lonely... .. |..You 
can’t imagine, how lonely!’’ 

“Subhash,” I said softly, “may I tell you something?” 

He only gave me a look and nodded. 

“I have never presumed to advise you,” I said, 
“rather I usually look up to you for advice. But may I 
suggest that the loneliness you complain of is an ailment 
human flesh is born to—you can never shake off your 
sense of human bankruptcy till you learn to lean on Divi- 
nity in some form or other?” 

“T know what you mean,” he said after a reflective 
pause. “I know because I too have had the seeking you 
refer to. Yes,” he dropped his voice, “I too once wanted 
to petition Divinity as a conscious Boon-giver to our or- 
phaned Humanity—but of course I could not persist. I 

TE, MN ay Cag PSR gl” a WR AER pe SOE SAMAR Vit ye Ae AES. |: ROM 


Here at once he struck the note of the authentic mys- 
tic, deifying a peninsula into a Goddess. I was touched. 
He went on: “I have told you many a time that I have 
often felt like running away—‘far from the madding 
crowd,’ as Gray has it. And I too have been visited by 
mystic experiences though perhaps not of the kind which, 
if your claim is right, effects a lasting change in our out- 
look. But then...... ” he added more reflectively, “I ' 
don’t know...... I wondered whether the contemplatives 
really meant anything as serious as their henchmen claim- 
ed. For mystics came and mystics went but didn’t Man 
go on for ever—if you will allow me to alter the quota- 
tion to suit the context? So I harked back. I did, be- 
cause...... well, I wondered whether it would not be 
wrong to go on, unheeding...... not lending the needy 
a helping hand.’* 

“But could you help, really, till you...... v. 

“Arrived?” he helped me out, smiling. “You are 
fond of quoting Narad’s saying in the Bhagavat that a 
man could not possibly help others when he himself was 

*'Years later, he wrote in his beautiful autobiography: 
“While I lay in bed the great War broke out... As I lay in bed 
in 1914, glancing through the papers and somewhat disillusioned 
about Yogis and ascetics, I began to re-examine all my ideas and 
to revalue all the hitherto accepted values. Was it possible to 
divide a nation’s life into two compartments and hand over one 
of them to the foreigner, reserving the other to ourselves? Or 
was it incumbent on us to accept or reject life in its entirety? The 
answer that I gave myself was a perfectly clear one: If India 
was to be a modern civilised nation, she would have to pay the 
price and she would not by any means shirk the physical, the 
military problem. Those who worked for the country’s eman- 
cipation would have to be prepared to take charge of both the 
civil and military administration. Political freedom was indivi- 
sible and meant complete independence of foreign control and 
tutelage.’ The War had shown that a nation that did not possess 

military strength could not hope to preserve its independence.” 
{An Indian Pilgrim, Chapters VI & VII). 


in the coils of a serpent.* I admit the force of the simile. 
For, do what we will, we can only see a few steps ahead 
Mme the rest is darkness. I see your point. Neverthe- 
less, my dear Dilip, one can’t sit by, can one? If one 
can’t shake off the serpent-coils of Karma one must 
trudge along somehow carrying them clinging around 
one’s neck, if only to do one’s bit even when one was 
not a master of one’s own destiny. But perhaps, it is not 
a case of argument at all. There is a fatality in things, 
as Napolean used to say. Anyhow it is idle to deny that 
things seldom turn out in conformity with human logic. 
So, I have taken to politics and activism. Could I do 
otherwise?”’ 7 

“On that question none but you yourself can adjudi- 
cate,” I said, undecided. “It is not my function to coun- 
sel you either. I can only repeat what I have told you 
so often—that politics is not your line. You are too de- 
cent, unsophisticated. No wonder you feel lonely when 
most of your associates are what they are.” 

“There you are perhaps right,’’ he said more com- 
placently. ;'““But you know my views. I can’t be an esca- 
pist and retire in peace in an ivory tower, like you.” 

“That’s ‘not a kind word, Subhash,’’ I said, wincing. 
“But I can’t:complain as I criticise you much more ruth- 
lessly. So, let's not discuss philosophy. But don’t you 
think that the loneliness you are speaking of is irremedi- 
able in your milieu?’’ 

“I wonder!” he paused and then added: “But the 
trouble is that our country does need selfless servants. 
And can you have a harvest of selfless workers when you 
only sow seeds of selfishness and prudence?” : 

“But that’s just it,” I retorted. “You can’t bring in 


—— Ws aan sacute vai fe a ial a ea 


a Ram-rajya of unselfishness with an army of selfish minis- 
ters and unscrupulous opportunists. How then would 
you solve the problem?” 

“But the problem of problems, Dilip,” he evaded, “is 
not that of self. Perhaps, in the last analysis, self is too 
deep-rooted in human nature to be completely eradicat- 
ed. The problem is, you can’t make a man love such a 
thing as his country when this love has not been brought 
to birth in his make-up.* ‘ 

He went on, after a pause: “How often have I not 
seen young men come with a genuine aspiration to sacri- 
fice their all for the country, burning to emulate the 
martyrs to start with! But for how long? Only till they 
get a safe start and secure a good job. As soon as this 
is assured, alas, they become turn-coats overnight, out to 
stabilise their worldly position! When you see this over 
and over again, tell me, don’t you catch yourself won- 
dering whether all professions of serving the country 
were not mere masks which hid for the nonce the greedy 
faces of careerists at worst and safety-seekers at best?” 

’ “Ts it really as bad as that?” I asked, a little start- 

“It is an under-statement, I assure you. For I have 
seen even men of real worth with little to lose behave 

* Apropos, he wrote to Deshbandhu C. R. Das from Cambridge 
on 16-2-1921: 

“You are today the high-priest of the festival of national ser- 
vice in Bengal—that is why I am writing this letter to you. 
Echoes of the great movement that you have launched in India 
have reached here through letters and newspapers. The call of 
the Motherland has thus been heard here also. A Madrassi stu- 
dent from Oxford is suspending his studies for the time being and 
returning home to start work there. Not much work has so far 

been done at Cambridge although a lot of discussion is going on 
on ‘non-cooperation’. I believe if one person can show the way 


like a gaddalika-pravaha,t to exploit the current. simile. 
The rut, the rut! They love the beaten track above every- 
thing else, and when they do, it spells—you know what?” 


He nodded, pulling a long face. “For you can’t 
work successfully to get your country free with a regi- 
ment of poltroons who are not only scared stiff to stake 
the dhruva* for the adhruva,t but who actually shape 
into parasites: a safe job, a fat salary and then the eter- 
nal, faultless groove of complacent mediocrity. That is 
why I feel so forlorn sometimes, to use perhaps a strong 
word,” He smiled ruefully. 

I kept silent. The night of pain was deepening, as 
it often happened when he was in a reminiscent mood. 

“T have seen young men who enthused over the 
dream of the country’s liberation,” he raced on. “I don’t 
think they were born hypocrites, mind you. They gush- 
ed with a fervour which was, to start with, far from mere 
pretension. I mean the flame was genuine enough when 
they testified to its glow.” 

“But,’’ he sighed, with a wry smile, “the ardour was 
quickly damped, the fire petered out. Only the quench- 
less love of solid security and feathering one’s own nest 
survived: ‘Never subscribe a penny more than you could 
spare,’ becomes their mantra, if you know what I mean. 
It is not in such a spirit of self-regarding, calculating pru- 
dence that you can serve your country. And in a coun- 
try like ours, which is a veritable continent of irreconcil- 
able tangles, one has to learn to aspire one-pointedly, 
without counting the cost. But our youths mature quick- 

t Literally a wave of sheep; figuratively, as here, it means 
following the herd unthinkingly. 


ly into hard-boiled wiseacres of admirable foresight and 
flawless sobriety. And thereafter, alas, they won’t budge 
an inch out of their orbit of ‘safety-first’!’”’ 

This was one of his constantly recurring dirges in 
his later years of growing disillusionment; that is why I 
have, somewhat reluctantly, dragged an unpublished tra- 
gedy to the light of day. 

But this was not his only tragedy, not by a long way. 
His life was halted, at every turn, by deepening frustra- 
tion, so much so, that even his faith in optimism was all 
but sapped, especially after his Tripuri débacle, when 
he was so unjustly treated by Mahatma Gandhi and his 
lieutenants. But I am sailing too near the wind, edging 
politics. Apropos, I feel tempted to quote a relevant ex- 
tract from a letter the famous intellectual, Lowes Dickin- 
son, wrote to me in 1931, in reply to a question of mine. 
(What the question was will be obvious from his vindi- 
cation of the League of Nations whose mountain of la- 
bour, I had complained, did not even produce the prover- 
bial mouse.) I quote it as I found his tempered optimism 

After answering my pointed question about mysti- 
cism he wrote: “To turn from these things to more prac- 
tical ones... When one enters into politics, one enters | 
the region of passion, interest, prejudice, and at last, fight- 
ing, which, however it begins, always ends in the des- 
truction of all that was best and most generous in those 
who perhaps inaugurated it... [have heard of course from 
every side the kind of criticism you bring against the 
League of Nations: It is a most imperfect document. 
But its imperfection represents that of the nations and 
peoples who framed it, or, by their mere presence in the 


wise. To say it is bad is to say what is true: that poli- 
tical mankind is bad. But political mankind will not be 
much better by scrapping all the poor stuff it tries to 
do, and crying for the moon—that is, a different huma- 
nity. If one is working for that latter, it must be by 
other than political means, or, if one adopts political me- 
thods, one must cut them according to the cloth of the 
now existing mankind... Yours sincerely, G. Lowes 
Dickinson, Cambridge.” 

I quote this also because Subhash liked it very much 
though he added (with his touching optimism) that poli- 
tical remedies could herald a new era of a better type 
of humanity. (And I would tell him of the prayer of St. 
Joan in Shaw’s great drama: “O God that madest this 
beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive Thy 
saints? How long, O Lord, how long?’’). 


The next episode I can vividly recall has made his- 
tory: an English Professor of the Presidency College was 
thrashed for manhandling a student. But as Subhash 
thought fit to write at some length about the incident in 
his autobiography (Chapter VIII) I need hardly go into 
details. Suffice it to say that (to quote from Subhash’s 
account) “Mr, O, did receive one solitary stroke from be- 
hind.... His assailants—those who felled him—were all 
in front of him and on the same level with him.” 

But I didn’t know about it at all at the time. Nor 
did Subhash speak to me about it afterwards describing 
what had happened. All I knew was that when the stu- 
dent was manhandled (for the second time. Subhash 


ing to the Principal of the College to bring Mr. O. to 
book. But he took no action and so the fat was in the 
fire: we had a presentiment that something was brewing 
though what it was exactly none knew till, of course, the 
pent storm burst. Before that we only saw Subhash flit 
past our College corridors with a flushed face, But he 
had not taken me into his confidence as he did not 
wish to get me involved in it all. It was like him. In 
fact, he had taken the help of the minimum number of 
students to give a hiding to Mr. O. I was startled, one 
fine morning, to read in the papers an account of the 
sound hiding given to the haughty John Bull. And, of 
course, all could see the hand of Subhash in it. Per- 
sonally, I never quite liked the idea of assaulting in a 
body a man who had not even been forewarned. So 
my heart could not applaud Subhash as the ringleader. 
But I could not help admiring, subsequently his attitude. 
He never let anybody down. He simply accepted the 
responsibility of the leader even though they could 
prove nothing definite against him.* 

Still he could have got off scot-free if he had just 
said in public (they wanted only that much, to save their 
faces) that it was “morally wrong’’ to assault the Pro- 
fessor. But he calmly asserted that the students had 
given their foreign castigator fisticuffs “under a great 
provocation”. It was for this uncompromising stand that 
he was finally rusticated from the University. He 
gave a smile but it was a nonchalant smile: he blamed 
none. : ‘ 

This incident “translated” him into a hero overnight. 
Henceforward he was of course a marked man—to be 

* It came to light subsequently that Subhash had not actually 
belaboured the offender. 


constantly persecuted by the police as an arch-conspira- 
tor, criminal and what not. 

Naturally, henceforth I saw less of him as he never 
“darkened’’ our College, as some martinets of high recti- 
tude put it, which made us all furious again, and my 
heart bled for his loneliness. But at the time I was too 
busy with music to be able to keep in touch with him. 
(After a few weeks he went back to Cuttack, to his 

It was after he had passed B.A. with first class 
honours in philosophy that he visited me again. It was 
an unexpected call. I was preparing to sail for England 
to sit for the I.C.S. and qualify simultaneously as a bar- 
rister in London. I had decided also to take the Mathe- 
matical Tripos. Subhash confided to me that he was 
likely to follow suit—to sit for the I.C.S. Could I secure 
for him a seat in a Cambridge college? 

I could hardly believe my ears! 

“You, Subhash! You propose to sit for the I.C.S.!!” 

He only gave me a cryptic smile for an answer. I 
nursed a hurt till about a year later when, in Cambridge, 
he decided to draw me and a few others into his confi- 
dence: he had had to sit for the I.C.S., because other- 
wise he would not have been sent by his father to Eng- 
land. So he had taken a secret vow to resign his post— 
in case he passed, of course. 

It was certainly a singular course of procedure, not 
only spectacular but bordering on the romantic. But 
romance, too, has to be paid for. At any rate his had 
a ruinous effect on my long-cherished ambitions in that 
I had almost insomnia for a brief spell. To put it in a 
nut-shell, how could I go in for the I.C.S. after that? I 


dian who could compel me to sit for the I.C.S. I was 
a free-lance, free to chalk out my dream path, with a 
considerable legacy to fall back on in case my dreams were 
shattered. Besides, I had helped to get him admitted to 
our college, and harbouring a lion had its disadvantages, 
to put it mildly. To cut a long story short, the contagion 
of Subhash’s forceful personality might well have made 
me'outpetal into a patriot had I not at this time’ met 
Romain Rolland and Bertrand Russell. Subhash had at 
that time no soft corner for Rolland who was yet to write 
his book on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda. But he could not 
help admiring Russell’s robust and sound thinking 
although his admiration was not one-tenth as vivid as 
But I am anticipating. For this was, chronologically, 
a later development of mine after Subhash had left 
Europe. For it was only then I really came to be influenced 
by. Russell’s international outlook and Rolland’s dislike of 
parochial patriotism. So long as Subhash was on the 
spot I could not raise my rebellious head. In Sanskrit 
' there is a’ beautifully descriptive word, mantroushudhi- 
ruddhavirya—that is, a snake whose venomous instincts 
are numbed into harmlessness by the power ofa mantra, 
incantation: and so were my self-will and pugnaciousness 
tamed by the magic proximity of Subhash. And not mine 
alone; I can hardly recall a Bengali in England who didn’t 
openly or tacitly accept him as the natural leader of our 
set. Even non-Bengalis began to warm up to him when 
it was made public that he would resign. But I had bet- 
ter record here some revealing details about his Cam- 
bridge life. It was interesting to watch his reactions to 



I have said that Subhash was a born patriot and a 
man of action. The tamasic inertia had always been ab- 
horrent to his questful, vital, dynamic personality. Tem- 
peramentally, he admired ever so many traits of the Eng- 
lish character: their energy, love of discipline and na- 
tural penchant to act in concert—esprit de corps, as he 
loved to put it.* He was wont to cull his phrases from 
the military dictionary. This must appear the more signi- 
ficant in the light of subsequent events of his life when it 
became more and more obvious that he simply rejoiced 
in fighting against tremendous odds. Born with a magni- 
ficent vitality, he loved to squander possessions. So it 
was that he thrilled in debates, studying the driest of 
European diplomacy and reading the lives of absurd non- 
entities who “strutted and fretted” their brief hours on 
the hustings of politics, to be “heard of no more.” I did 
the same in my own small way: I hobnobbed with artists 
of dubious reputation, read meaningless plays, wasted my 
time thumping on the piano and devoured English dramas, 
Russian novels and French love-lyrics. He did not like 
this and constantly frowned upon me. “Why must you 
waste your precious time in trivialities, Dilip?” he re- 
buked me again and again. I dared not reply. For when 
Subhash came out to roar in protest there were few 
hearts leonine enough to outroar him. Besides, had he 
not passed the I.C.S. in eight months, secured record 
marks in the essay paper and blossomed out into an in- 
domitable debater! He did command homage. Admira- 

* In a letter from Cambridge (12-11-1919) he wrote: “People 
here have a sense of time, and there is method in all they do.... 
Many are their defects but one must bend one’s head to their 


tion also: he was always so tidy, never left a book lying 
on a sofa or a deep couch, as we, the care-free, always 
did. His files were all neatly docketed; his shelves scru- 
pulously cleaned; his ward-robe never in dearth of clean 
stiff collars and suitable ties; his books always in their 
proper places; his dress, though not showy, always fault- 
less; none could claim to have ever having seen his trous- 
ers without their neat creases, never did his coat betray an 
accidental stain or give a frayed appearance. To me it was 
madness even to think of “behaving in Rome as the 
Romans did”—a favourite motto of his. No, I felt myself 
sane only when I behaved as an Indian first and last, no 
matter where I was stationed. It may sound paradoxi- 
cal, yet it will be true to say that Subhash, though an 
Indian to the core, was least Indian when he flashed 
as a flawless patriot. For his ruling passion was to 
give India a good name. “India too, like England, ex- 
pects every man to do his duty” was another favourite 
copy-book maxim of his which sounded strangely living 
and meaningful when his vibrant voice furnished its 

“And, above all, never court the company of women 
-—no playing with fire if you please!” was angther edict. 
And we all obeyed him in spite of ourselves whenever he 
commanded! I will give a few-personal instances. 

I had been fond from childhood of sitting cross- 
legged. Before Subhash’s arrival in Cambridge I often 
put on my dhoti in my lodgings at night andsat huddled 
up—in an asana—just as we do in delightful India. 
Subhash one day looked in and was duly scandalised. 
“You mustn't, Dilip!” he protested, “no, not even behind 

closed shutters. For beware, murder will out!” 
GEE. See re Soe Tr 


os es 

Pees ee ee. oe eee 


loudly, with gesticulations. “It’s not done here,” said 
Subhash the impeccable. “So you must learn to talk in 
a stifled voice and don’t, for mercy’s sake, fling your 
hands about like lassos.” 

This was indeed an ideal difficulty for me to live 
up to. But I gulped down my resentment and prepared 
to “follow the leader.’ For he was our leader. And 
didn’t he say: “Let your one ambition be to leave be- 
hind an impression here of flawless spruceness, for these 
insular people lack imagination and can never separate 
the chaff from the kernel of culture.” 

“Why then try to make an impression on such 
muddle-headed philistines?” I riposted, half-angry, half- 
amused by his inferiority complex.* 

: But he never suspected this: he called it superiority. 
“We must prove it home to them that we can more than 
hold our own against them. We must beard the lion in 
his own den.” 

Such was his challenge. I won’t criticise it as it has 
its points. I will only state that it could never be mine. 
But whatever my own views, his inferiority complex was 
not easily visible except to a small group of lynx-eyed 
observers (I.was not one of these initially, as I was put 
wise to it after he had left Europe). To the rest he al- 
ways loomed as a “big man”. Some even claimed he was 
already “great”. Only a handful, mostly jealous never- 
do-wells, dubbed him an arrogant prig. But, naturally, 
these never counted in our estimation. And Subhash, 

though anxious to impress the English, just ignored his 

* He overcame this afterwards but at this time he had not 

yet come to suspect that it wasn’t a superiority complex which had 

prompted him to write: “What gives me the greatest joy is to 

watch the white-skin serving me and cleaning my shoes.” (Letter 


compatriots. Perhaps here I am doing him an injustice. 
For it is possible that he was so obsessed with the pro- 
blem of India’s political freedom that he had no time 
to think of analysing his ‘complexes’. Besides, he look- 
ed down on his Indian critics as born to a “slave men- 
tality.” Aglow with an incandescent love of freedom, he 
paid scant courtesy to the views of those who had never 
missed freedom. He loved to quote a sigh of C.R. Das: “The 
pity is,” as the great leader had once said to our beloved 
novelist Saratchandra, “I have had to tilt even more 
with my own countrymen than with the English when I 
preached Swaraj.” Sparks flew from Subhash’s eyes 
whenever he repeated this. In English he used often to 
hum a famous line of Rabindranath: 

Aye, life and death wait on my feet like slaves 
And my mind no dark misgiving ever depraves.* 

Single-mindedness compels respect because the rag- 
tag-and-bob-tail are anything but single-minded. 
Subhash’s character, even in his temporary intolerances 
or aberrations, did not forfeit its impressiveness because 
round about us we spotted none who could come any- 
where near him in stature or one-pointed ardour—spe- 
cially in our college days in England. There was, indeed, 
a few brilliant students and sombre book-worms; but, 
when all is said and done, there is something rather 
pathetic about such feckless creatures. You may admire 
them but you cannot respect them. And then, here was 
Subhash who had never crammed and yet beat the cram- 
mers in their own game, without turning a hair! No 
wonder we had all been overawed. 


* Jibana mirityu payera bhritya chitta bhabana-hin, 



I would have hesitated to refer to an imperfection | 
of Subhash’s character had he not corrected it subse- 
quently when he became wiser though a sadder man. I 
mean his strong antipathy to people whom he called 
‘immoral’, to say nothing of pleasure-seekers and epi- 
cureans whom he regarded as beneath contempt. I well 
remember a poet friend of mine of whom I used to be 
particularly fond. He sometimes drank heavily and had 
not a vestige of reputation to lose. Subhash simply cut 
him dead in case he accidentally met the unregenerate 
in a party. He often rebuked me for retaining a 
soft corner in my heart for “that impossible fellow!” 
How can you possibly stand him?” he would hiss with 
such a gesture of disgust that I dared not adduce 
arguments why the fellow might be dubbed perfectly 

Years later, suddenly, Subhash called on me one 
morning at my Calcutta residence. “Dilip, I have come 
to ask a favour.’’ 

“Fire away!” I said, thrilled. 

“XX is disintegrating. He is a fine fellow but this 
drink habit—you know what I mean. Didn’t I always 
insist it was dangerous for us, Indians, to drink even 
moderately? Look at X: you remember how he used to 
mouth the highbrow slogans of the silly tyros of Western 
culture like: ‘One mustn't have a prejudice against drink- 
ing since drinking isn’t synonymous with getting drunk’ 
—and all that sort of rot! O Dilip, Dilip, how often have 
we not seen our brilliant young hopefuls split like frail 
oysters on this treacherous rock of intemperance! X is 
only a case in point.” 


“An unexceptionable tirade. But where do I come 

“Please don’t make fun of me. I am serious-——and 
sad, to boot. I want you to see more of X. Give him 
your company and help him. He must be weaned from 
this ruinous habit—by hook or by crook.” 

The hard school of life had by then taught him the 
wisdom of charity and tolerance. But I must add here 
that a deeper reason was that he had come under the 
great and chastening influence of the incomparable C.R. 
Das. Apropos, I am reminded of a remark of his which 
did have a twang of unconscious humour. 

It was in 1924, I think, a few months before the 
passing of Deshbandhu. We two were discussing love in 
whispers. I was sad and anxious. So he had to. outdo 
me in wisdom. ‘ 

“Yes. I understand,” he wispered pulling a long 
face, “for in prison I read all the extant Vaishnava litera- 
ture about love.” . 

“Bravo, Subhash!” I chortled. “Isn’t it refreshing 
to know of the headway you have made overnight wad- 
ing through book-lore! Dare anyone contend still that a 
child can’t outvie an adult?” 

But to go back to Cambridge. 


I have mentioned that I helped to get Subhash a seat 
in our Fitz William Hall though not without Gansineges 
It happened like this. 

I had arrived in London in June 1919 and was ao 
mitted in the Fitz William Hall which subsequently be- 
came a regular college. Subhash wired to me that he 


was coming and sought admission in a college at Cam- 
bridge. I moved heaven and earth, but, unfortunately, 
the few seats allocated to Indians had been filled already. 
At long last, with help of friends, I could get him admitted 
in our Hall. For this Subhash was almost absurdly grate- 
ful to us all, He never took a friendly service as a mat- 
ter of.course, albeit his heart was usually chary of be- 
traying his gratitude. But those who have, like me, 
basked in the radiance of his warm friendship could find 
thereafter little delight in testimonies of the effusive 
brand. He imperceptibly improved one’s taste as it 
were. I myself was inclined to giving the rein to my 
emotion and admiration. Not Subhash—although he was 
never unsympathetic. “You are an artist, Dilip,” he 
would often tell me half-mockingly. “So you can afford 
to thrive on the exhibition of your emotions. Not we, 
the lesser fry—we have to inhibit,” 

Somehow, whenever he spoke thus, lightheartedly, 
we felt exceedingly elated; some almost looked upon it 
as a favour, really. For Subhash carried about with him 
such a high and aloof moral aureole that we all thrilled 
to come within the aura of his indulgence even though 
we had often, alas, to pay dearly for such thrills. For 
instance, we relapsed directly afterwards into frivolous 
talk, ribald jokes and what not, if only to shake off the 
sense of cramp which his Ppropinquity usually engendered 
in the likes of us. Let me give an instance by way of 
illustration. : 

There was among us a Punjabi youth—let’s call him 


galore and told brave bawdy stories. He didn’t stick 
at stooping even to blatant vulgarity. But as it was con- 
sidered de rigueur among us, young iconoclasts, to hold 
nothing sacred under the sun, we held our heads high, 
flaunting our emancipation and consequent superiority to 
genteel ways of talk. So even when we disliked Singh’s 
aggressive flippancy, we had to pretend to the contrary, 
the more so as we never knew how to cope with his 

Suddenly, the remedy came to us like manna from 
the skies, and a very simple remedy at that: Subhash’s 
protective presence. For Singh would become almost 
tongue-tied and shy the moment Subhash materialised. 
Not that the enfant terrible didn’t strain to poohpooh the 
‘Puritan’, as he called him behind his back, but do what 
he would, he couldn’t so much as open his mouth to 
achieve a double entendre. Once he told me ruefully 
that he could not explain it. 

“What?” I asked. 

“This my feeling so impotent before Bose. The 
fellow simply acts like a bit between my grinning teeth 
and daredevil tongue, ha, ha, ha!” 

We were all more impressed than ever. For Singh 
cordially disliked Subhash because he had despised him 
from the very start. It was loathing at first sight—with 
Subhash, who didn’t believe in half-measures. So it 
was only natural that Singh should itch to pay him back 
in his own coin. And he might have—if only he could 
have brought to bear his native brass and gift of the 
gab. But try ever so hard as he would, he never could 
bring off a single funniment about cocottes and debau- 
chees and sly pimps and reticent virgins in the presence 
‘of that “awful prig!”’ 


I sometimes thought, in those days, that Subhash 
could thus overawe people because he looked so relent- 
lessly high and mighty. when not in a mood to unbend 
or relax. Also, he was never garrulous. In debates, 
indeed, he took part enthusiastically, but he never in- 
dulged in gossip. He used sometimes to criticise people 
harshly enough in all conscience but always succinctly, 
Gossip for gossip’s sake was utterly repugnant to his re- 
fined and upright nature. 

And he never talked of women, far less mixed with 
them—in England, at all events. Only one English lady 
he came to conceive a real affection and esteem for: Mrs. 
N.R. Dharamvir. Let me try to portray a little his re- 
lationship with her. 

But before I introduce her I may say, by way of 
preface, that I would, often enough, drag Subhash to 
some of my friends whose company, I thought, he would 
profit by while in England. He came to fulfil my expec- 
tations subsequently, almost always, even though I had 
to take him in tow sometimes under protest. Once, for 
instance, I took him to the house of a hospitable friend 
of mine, Mr. Bates, who became his life-long friend. I 
cannot resist the temptation of quoting from a letter of 
his which is nothing if not revealing. It was addressed 
to his brother Sarat Chandra Bose who was to achieve 
fame subsequently as one of the ablest lieutenants of 
Bengal’s great leader, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. 

“I am here the guest of Mr. Bates,” he wrote in 
1920, from Leigh-on-sea in Essex. “Mr. Bates represents 
English character at its very best. He is cultured and 
liberal in his views and cosmopolitan in his sentiments 
....He counts among his friends Russians, Poles, Lithu- 


takes a great interest in Russian, Irish and Indian litera- 
ture and admires the writings of Ramesh Dutt and Tagore 
....1 have been getting heaps of congratulations on my 
standing forth in the competitive examination. But I 
cannot say that I am delighted at the prospect of enter- 
ing the ranks of the I.C.S..... A nice fat income with 
a. good pension in after-life—I shall certainly get. Per- 
haps I may become a Commissioner if I stoop to make 
myself servile enough. Given talents, with a servile 
spirit one may even aspire to be the Chief Secretary to a 
provincial Government. But, after all, is Service to be 
the be-all and end-all of my life? The Civil Service can 
bring one all kinds of worldly comfort, but are not these 
acquisitions made at the expense of one’s soul? I think it 
is hyprocrisy to maintain that the highest ideals of one’s 
life are compatible with subordination to the conditions 
of service which an I.C.S. man has got to accept.’’* 


Mrs. Dharamvir, born of English parents in Russia, 
spoke both Russian and French and initiated me in 
Russian and French songs. She was married to Dr. 
Dharamvir, a Punjabi physician, and they settled in 
Lancashire where the doctor diligently built up a large 
practice. Again I persuaded Subhash to pay them a visit 
in 1921, when we stayed with them in great joy. He 
was charmed by Mrs. Dharamvir and called her “didi” 
(sister). Warm-hearted by nature, he was overwhelmed 
by her beautiful personality and flawless hospitality. She 
was the one English woman in England to whom he had 


mention as Subhash never found it easy to abdicate his 
reserve in any give-and-take with the fair sex. He was 
unaccountably stiff with them—although, after his re- 
turn from England, he slowly schooled himself so as not 
to keep them quite at arm’s length and, in the dust and 
din of life, grew to appreciate the rejuvenating power of 
feminine contact and goodwill. But there he drew the 
line: his almost ascetic aloofness precluded, first and last, 
any emotional response except to his nieces whom he 
dearly loved even when they grew up. But to return to 
his life in England, 

He used, often enough, to warn us—by “us” I mean 
a few of his friends in whose future he was interested— 
against “the two formidable temptations of this so-called 
European culture: wine and women”. He seldom smiled 
on a man he saw responding with alacrity to feminine 
charms. And this disapprobation acted on different peo- 
ple in different ways. There was a rich young lady- 
killer who was thus successfully curbed by his frowns 
and it is easy to recall authentic Bohemians who dared 
not dally with virgins of easy virtue simply because he 
would have no truck with those who transgressed wil- 

But among us, young hopefuls, there were other 
types as well. In some, for instance, presided a die-hard 
Puritan who longed to behave brusquely with women 
harring the pleasure of calling them “gates of hell.” 
Others simply steered clear of them, dubbing them wily 
assaulters of masculine chastity. And, lastly, there were 
the timid sort who longed for gay women’s society, chid 
themselves for it and, withal, never could have the will 
to shun them. All the three categories turned uy to 


Those who could not agree that such austerity was re- 
warding, either admired him for his austere life of purity, 
or else looked upon him as an interesting freak. For 
ihey saw none in England who could rival him in such 
unswerving asceticism. In Subhash’s case they marvelled 
chiefly at his will-power, the more so as women ached 
1o come near him not only because he was virile and 
handsome to a degree, but also because he was as good 
as unapproachable. I often felt that Subhash liked such 
longing on their part though never for the cheap thrill 
of tantalising them. I theorised that what titillated him 
most was not their vital desire but its transformation into 
admiration plus despair which one so often feels for 
something unattainable or beyond one’s reach. Of 
course we, the lesser fry, could never win a similar ad- 
miration from the fair sex, because they could tell with 
half-an-eye that keeping aloof from them was not, with 
us, a spontaneous consequence of our will to chastity. 
We could at best ape Subhash, that is, imitate his 
ways gawkishly, for who dare achieve his heights of 
anchorite aloofness? In a word, he was a man you 
could not easily follow and yet longed desperately to 

The result was—at least as often as not—-that when- 
ever he chose to behave like the rank and file he would 
cast a spell, moving us to the depths. The reason, we 
decided judicially, lay in his obvious immunity from the 
ordinary human weaknesses, though years later I. was 
somewhat shocked to discover that aloofness did not 
necessarily connote strength. One can be aloof because 
one is afraid to be intimate. But we did not at the time, 
know enough of human nature and so could not help 


Subhash -was always a citadel of strength, a lighthouse of 

Consequently, when he responded to human emo- 
tions like an ordinary human, the latter could not help 
but feel highly flattered, _ 

It was a few months after our departure from the 
Dharamvirs. Subhash had just resigned from the 1CS., 
which had caused such an unprecedented stir in England 
and Bengal. Dr. Dharamvir who was a patriot and a 
bosom friend of Lala Lajpat Rai, the lion of the Punjab, 
came almost to adore him. Mrs. Dharamvir was in a 
somewhat ticklish position. For, though she had the 
warmest sympathies with our Indian aspiration for poli- 
tical freedom, she found it hard, as an English woman, 
to relish her husband’s constant flings at her “imperia- 
list” countrymen. Subhash, who had conceived a deep 
regard for her, managed to fend off his darts, which un- 
derstanding consideration on his part had endeared him 
not a little to Mrs. Dharamvir, so much so that when 
he sailed home she was genuinely moved as she knew that 
the youthful idealist’s path was-not likely to be one of 
roses. After hesitating for a while she wrote: 
“May you be victorious, dear brother. And may 
my compatriots be made to see reason and peace de- 
scend!” But to come to the episode. 

Subhash and I, after about a week’s stay at their 
Manchester house, bade farewell and entered an empty 
compartment. Suddenly as the train whistled, Mrs. 
Dharamvir flung into our laps two little parcels. As she 
was waving her handkerchief to us, I showed Subhash 
what they contained: some fried nuts and condiments. 
His eyes glistened. “Women,” he said in a thick voice, 


Mrs. Dharamvir had noticed that Subhash was fond 
of chocolates. . 

Afterwards he wrote to this “unique” English sister, 
who had got under his skin, a long letter which she 
showed me with tears in her lovely eyes. He had penned 
it aboard the ship he had sailed home in from England. 
In impeccable English he wrote thanking her warmly for 
her sisterly solicitude for him but apologised for his faults 
of omission. He could not express all he had felt which 
she mustn’t take for insensitiveness, For, he sighed, he 
could not get the better of his shyness before women no 
more than “a leopard could change his spots.” The 
simile stayed in my memory because I had never sus- 
pected that Subhash could be so refreshingly conscious 
of his limitations. For he hated nothing as he hated con- 
ventional humility and self-pity. So'he never apologised 
before women for his defects—like tongue-tiedness or 
awkwardness. Only one instance must suffice. 

In London I lived once with a French couple who had 
never been legally married. I did not tell this to 
Subhash, fearing his deep disapproval. So he used to 
visit me radiantly as usual and express his warm approval 
of my frantic attempt to talk ungrammatical French with 
atrocious fluency. My teacher had been my _ host’s 
charming daughter of ten. I used to dandle her on my 
knee and play leap-frog with her. She was very. fond 
of me. Subhash liked her but could never forget that 
she belonged to the dangerous sex. I have, to this day, 
a photograph I got taken by her mother in which my 
little teacher stands between me and Subhash. I used 
to twit him on his grim exterior. He made as if he was 
standing beside a siren Duchess and must be on his guard 

PrOR Sy SN, | Pee SR ened See! Se eT Aly oy Me, Be eh eee eT LORS, Nee ey Semper 


Nearly twenty years later I invited him to meet Lila 
Desai, a well-known cinema-star, at our residence in 
Theatre Road. I related to the beautiful actress anecdotes 
about Subhash’s excessive anxiety to be “above suspi- 
cion” like “Ceasar’s wife.” “You can’t imagine my sur- 
prise, Lila,’ I told her, “but I do gasp to see him ‘trans- 
lated’ like Bottom! For do I not find him actually speak- 
ing to you without flustering, like a normal young man? 
Do you think the little daughter of my French hostess 
in London would ever believe were she told that he could 
change so radically—in a couple of years?” Subhash 
gave me a playful fisticuff on the spine and said: “You 
are impossible!” 

For all that, the Subhash we knew in England had 
a charm all his own. What if he was awkward and shy 
and ill-at-ease vis-a-vis women? What if he had no 
truck with gossip and gaiety? What if he spent all his 
leisure hours in reading impossible English orators and 
unreadable continental history? What if he refused, 
generally, to enjoy fine dramas and lovely operas? Was 
he not what he was because he had achieved such feats 
through a one-pointed self-discipline, a la Lenin or Crom- 
well? I cannot remember a single student in England 
who took life a tithe as seriously as he or strove as assi- 
duously to make himself into a standard-bearer of free 
India. Aye, all the mystic ardour in his composition he 
had mobilised and canalised to this one aim. It is not 
everybody who can subordinate his whole life to one con- 
suming ideal, burn his candles at both ends to serve 
one purpose and, lastly, dare stake his all at one Jast 
throw of the dice, especially when it is heavily loaded 
against himself. You may criticise the wisdom of such 

Sain: dale “ Oe ae 


things that matter—you may even, if you like, laugh at 
him as a prince of cranks. But you can’t help taking 
your hat off to him if you once contact the godly fervour 
in him which moulded him into what he was. Propriety 
and refinement may command the homage of the mind, 
but sculpting one’s whole life into a design conceived and 
worked out sleeplessly from one’s childhood with un- 
swerving discipline—no matter how big the gamble and 
vivid the danger—must compel the heart’s admiration 
unless of course the man admired was a cruel dictator 
out only for personal power. 

Whether Subhash became such a dictator in the end 
I cannot say. I did not see much of him during the last 
five years of his life, nor correspond with him after 
August 1939. I heard rumours about his mounting ain- 
bition and getting top-heavy. I heard he had started, 
employing dubious means to gain temporary party suc- 
cesses. I am not competent to adjudicate on such tricky 
questions. I had neither the time nor opportunities to 
weigh the evidence, I will therefore confine myself to 
what I know, that is, to what I saw and felt in him, the 
inspiration I received from him and the strength I know 
he gave to many a weakling. I will be truthful, but I 
can be truthful only about the man, the idealist, the 
dreamer I saw in him, having known him through a long 
and unbroken span of personal intimacy for intimacy’s 
sake—since it was never exploited to serve an ideal or 
purpose that was not common to both of us. About his 
political activities I will be silent and for this reason that 
one can seldom see a man in his true perspective when 
one views him in the light of his inferior activities, in- 
ferior in the sense that they are ill-calculated to evoke 


meral glints often remind me of the glister of phosphore- 
scence in that it shows him up in fortuitous crests of 
publicity which swiftly dissolve into dark troughs of 
utter: insignificance. 

That is another reason why I am at such pains to 
emphasise the wide-spread impression Subhash created 
during his comparatively short stay in England (1919-21), 
because this impression had been made by the best part 
of his nature and not by accidents of circumstances. For ' 
although it goes without saying that his resignation from 
the much-coveted I.C.S. had been’ not a little respon- 
sible for his swift limelight fame, yet it would be a wrong 
assessment of his total personality to say that it was only 
the spectacular aspect of his partiotism that gave him 
the distinction he had achieved overnight. There was 
something in his face, pensive and resolute, something in 
his steadfast gaze, wistful and far-away, that compelled 
respect. Many is the time I have seen even bumptious 
high-brows dwindle overnight into pale non-entities under 
his ruthless scrutiny. I have seen flighty students mind 
their studies to be able to serve India better. There were 
various other kinds of reactions as well, diverse reactions 
which often made Subhash anxious, heart-sick, I re- 
member one young Bengali, who was at the time appren- 
ticed to an optician. He came one day to me and talked 
flamboyantly about having taken an “everlasting vow” 
to leave his hospital work just for the great privilege of 
being ordered about by “our heaven-sent leader.” Deep- 
ly dismayed, I reported it at once to Subhash who 
became even more alarmed, in as much as he could not 
possibly venture to take in hand young hopefuls by’ the 
dezen in this off-hand fashion, the less so because his 
own future was uncertain, his foothold precarious. So 


he rushed to this young fanatic and, after much effort, 
dissuaded him from his blood-curdling resolve. Subhash 
could be sweetness itself when he wanted to get round 
people as he knew how. So the catastrophe was averted; 
only, alas, I was a loser to the tune of fifteen pounds I 
had to lend the run-away to rehabilitate him. Of course 
he never dreamed of repaying, then or afterwards—when 
he was making packets of money—but I suppose one 
must pay even for the delight of red@eming sentimental 
bankrupts repudiated by their sensible guardians. My 
point is that even such a dog had his day when he bark- 
ed at the worldly-wise inspired by Subhash roaring 
about idealism and sacrifice next door. 


I will end my brief reminiscences about Subhash in 
England with the account of an unexpected struggle he 
had to go through when he had finally resigned. When 
Subhash wrote to the authorities (to Lord Lytton, the 
then Under-Secretary of State for India, if my memory 
serves me) that he could not work under an alien bureau- 
eracy, the high official sent for him and, after having 
essayed in vain to dissuade him from such hasty action, 
asked him why he had decided to resign. 

“I told him,” Subhash said to me after describing 
the interview, “that I did not think one could be loyal 
to the British Raj and yet serve India housed, heart 
and soul.” 

_ The news reached his father. In due course a cable 
came from him and then a long letter from his brother, 
Sarat Bose. The long and short of it is that his father 
had taken it very much to heart that he should have : 


acted in such a hot-blooded fashion without once con- 
sulting him. Couldn’t he at least wait til] his return to 
India? Subhash wrote back that he found it impossible 
to take his oath of allegiance to the King of England: it 
would be starting with an unclean slate wedded to a vow 
his heart loathed. His brother wrote again charging him 
with shortening the life of his old father who was actually 
.losing ‘his sleep over him because, surely, he would now 
be arrested the moment he stepped on Indian soil; could 
it be conceivable otherwise when he was returning with 
such an openly hostile attitude to the British Raj? 

I can still clearly visualise Subhash’s gloomy face 
that morning as he showed me the letter. 1 was distress- 
ed, but what could I say? 

“What will you do now?’ I asked after a long 

“Do?” he raised his eyebrows. “What do you mean?” 

“You can still withdraw your resignation, you know,” 
I said, at a venture, 

“How can you think of such a thing, Dilip?” he 
Hashed back, indignantly, 

Y could only squeak. 

“But your father is unwell, says your... .”’ 

“I know,” he cut in and his fair face flushed, “but 
if we build our ideals thinking first and last of our family 
happiness won’t the ideals be wonderful? I am only 
troubled about one thing. My father won’t send me a 
penny now. How shall I go back to India?” 

“Subhash!” it was my turn to be hurt, “you seem 
to ignore the fact that I am living still. And,” I added 
with a smile, “I have no father, you know, to come be- 

tween me and drawing a cheque.” 
a tt i yy, . , gf ay . - an 


but I. was incomparably more grateful that he should 
have consented to do me the favour. 

A few weeks later he came to me one morning and 
said that the authorities had “traced the man behind 
Subhash”, implying of course the accomplice who had 
given him “damnable financial support” at the psychvlo- 
gical movement. His face had lost its serenity when he 
confided this tome. Of course I laughed it away, but not 
he. The same mother in him had stirred. Needless to 
say that I was touched by his solicitude. 

It got about after this little incident—thanks to gos- 
sip’s power to fare on wings of ether—that the “man 
behind Subhash” had somehow won through to his con- 
fidence in a surreptitious way. I sensed an unavowed 
grudge in some quarters for my having stolen a march, 
over them. For there were of course many a Subhash-fan 
who would have loved to forestall me if only they had 
had an inkling that he needed help. I pointed it out to 
him about generosity and jealousy living together under 
the same roof! He only laughed. 

But I make mention of this incident chiefly to under- 
line that Subhash was worried over me because he was 
so conscientious by nature. He would not have talkéd 
of having “involved’’ me had he not felt that I was get- 
ting more and more cynical about human nature in pol 
tics. His intuition was right, of course. For though I ° 
tried my best not to hurt him, he could hardly be deceived 
about the implication of my growing aversion to the 
cheap shibboleths of politics. But I could not help this 
deepening perception which years later I felt delighted 
to find clearly stated as a historical fact by Aldous Huxley 
in his book Grey Eminence that “again and again.... 
have pious laymen become statesmen in the hope of rais- 


ing politics to their own high moral level, and again and 
again polities have dragged them down to their low moral 
level upon which statesmen, in their political capacity, 
are compelled to live.” But as politics and politicians are 
beyond the purview of my book, I will leave this unsa- 
voury topic with just this irrepressible sigh that the more 
I admired Subhash the more I prayed that he might be 
rescued from the perfidious tentacles of political adven- 
turers. I reminded him again and again years later, when 
I saw him fighting with his back to the wall, that politics 
was not his native line, swadharma; but alas, he was 
born with an obstinate streak of rational madness: the 
more clearly he saw that our freedom could not be won 
through party tussles, the more he would rationalise his 
failure into a kind of martyrdom. He failed to see that 
martyrdom didn’t always pay real dividends in the mart 
of politics where the worst instincts of man must always 
have a field day. But let me now turn once more to 
the man I loved and admired, the dreamer who was an 
abiding inspiration in my life, since it is him I want 
to delineate and pay homage to—not the politician. 
For the man-cum-dreamer was admirable; and there 
cannot be the shadow of a doubt as to the hyaline glow 
and rocky firmness of his character, which might indeed 
seatter sparks when trampled on but could never be 
squeezed into clay. His will-power, unimpaired till his 
last breath, is the proof of his fundamental resilience. 
He might have been, indeed, unjust, sometimes (how 
many of us can claim we prefer always the ways of justice 
to those of our self-will?); he might have made blunders 
(dare any man pretend he always saw his way lying 
straight before him when conflicting voices called?); in- 
deed, sometimes he might even have advocated some- 


what questionable methods to achieve certain commend- 
able ends (but isn’t that one of the subtlest ways of the 
diplomatic mind which adduces the most faultless argu- 
ments to defend the faultiest of cases?). But still, as I 
always used to say when some of his critics said bitter 
things against him, Subhash was born with a nature too 
forthright to be warped by such wrong movements be- 
cause of the all-redeeming nobility of the dreamer in 
him. Is not that why he died dreaming not of his fami- 
ly or defeats, nor even of the clouds that had so often 
blurred his vision, but of the sun of faith and courage that 
would free his great Goddess, his Motherland? It will 
be worth while to bring out what I mean when I stress 
this dream-weaving nature of his. 


The year was 1938. We were reclining side by side 
in a room of the lovely house Saratchandra Bose had built 
in Woodburn Park, Calcutta. Subhash kept on asking 
me random questions about Pondicherry and Yoga. But, 
obviously, he was only playing at being interested. So 
{ suddenly stopped dead and asked him what the matter 
“Nothing,’’ he evaded. 

“No humbug, please,” I insisted. “Why, you are 
simply not there!” 

He then confessed it all laughing and blushing alter- 
nately (he often flushed when taken unawares, like a 
school-girl caught making love), and told me things about 
the “Congress High Command”’ which I would rather not 
quote. - 

I did not try to console him. I simply repeated what 


I had foreseen: that he would never make good where 
he didn’t belong; so why not leave politics for something 
more convincing? I pleaded for a long time and earnestly. 
“You have surely done enough, Subhash,” I round- 
ed off. “Our Shastras speak of three kinds of debt a 
man must pay: debt to his parents, debt to the sages and, 
lastly, debt to God. You have paid the first debt with 
the best part of your life-blood; you have made your 
family famous already—so much so that even your fa- 
ther has changed and is now proud of you. Now the 
time has come for you to pay your second debt.” 
“These sages?’’ he smiled. I could see all too plainly 
that my counsel had again been a misfire. 
So I said, at a venture: “You will have peace at 
least.” . 
“Peace? But what about the debt to the country?” 
“Subhash,” I said, almost pleadingly, “I am remind- 
ed of a couplet in the Mahabharat where the great sage 
says: ; . 
Great God has willed that things shall ripen 
and bloom, 
In a way He has ordained. 
And Man must wait his hour when steeped in 
As sages recommend.* 

You yourself are fond of quoting C.R. Das’s famous 
jeremiad that one has to fight harder battles against one’s 
own kith and kin than against the alien exploiters. Our 
people are not ready yet for freedom. They don’t even 
strain at the leash. For whatever democracy may say, 

* The original Sanskrit couplet: 

Kalena sarvam vihitam vidhatra 


the commonalty can never emulate the elect, or shall I 
say, the choice spirits. I want you to fulfil your life 
following your swadharma, to wit, the deepest call of 
your nature. Why waste it? Come along with me to 
Pondicherry. One who has the capacity to become a na- 
tion-builder should not fritter away his precious energy 
in building a futile party which cannot achieve anything 
worthwhile even in the best of time.” 

The shaft went home, unexpectedly. 

“I know Dilip,” he retorted. “But I can’t turn to 
Yoga branded ‘defeated’ by life.” His lips quivered and 
sparks flew from his eyes. 

“But you are not defeated—yet. On the contrary, 
you are the idol of young Bengal. But, mark my words, 
the way you have chosen to tread is going to be barren. 
in the last resort. Man must wait his hour, I repeat. 
But even if you don’t want to give up the fight, can’t you 
at least come away with me for a few months, if only 
io see your way clearer—to find a brighter light than 
you can command today?” 

He wavered, but only for a brief moment, then shook 
his head: “But no, Dilip. Even that is impossible.” 

“May I know why?”’ 

“Because if I go with you into even a temporary 
seclusion, I am afraid I may not be able to come out 
again into the open with the fire of the fighter in me.” 

-He did say these words. I remember them very 
clearly because it made me view his tragedy in a new, 
a deeper, light: He did not care to win peace not even a 
truer vision, because he loved the cause of his country 
too dearly. Although here we always differed—for I 

could never regard the country’s cause as the highest 
i. eneth—T “Aensla wink. tart wae? Hie sllLtackicoaanina 


solicitude for our famished, poor and exploited India. 
I well remember how his eyes glistened whenever I 
sang my father’s song on Bharatvarsha (translation, Sri 

Mother, peace nests in thy bosom, 

In thy voice Love’s courage glows; 
By thy hand are fed earth’s millions, 

From thy feet salvation flows. 
Deep thy joy is in thy children, 

Deep thy suffering’s tragic night: 
Mother India, great World-Mother! 

O World-Saviour, World’s Delight! 

I refer to his deep feeling for the tragic night of 
India, because here one could feel the response of a 
mystic more vividly than that of a patriot. And I main- 
tain it was this mystic and not the patriot that made him 
write an autograph (dated, 23-2-1938, Vithalnagar) I 
chanced upon two years ago: There is nothing that lures 
¥ me more than a life of adventure away from the beaten 
track and in search of the Unknown. Im this life there 
- may be suffering, but there is joy as well; there may be 
hours of darkness but there are also hours of dawn. To 
this path I call my countrymen. 

I would not have taken the trouble to write all I 
still remember about him had I not found in him the 
mystic whose soul’s quest through life was what he calls 
“The Unknown.” And I believe that, although he never 
gave this mystic in him.a chance to flower, he could not 
possibly have staked his all for a lesser love (since all 
quests are lesser than the Supreme Quest), had he not 

been persuaded that the lesser would eventually lead him 
Pe: ec ee ee ae Bee ae ey Oem NEON po Pos ees | IO pen, comme | py he 


when the peninsula ceased to be a thing of clay and be- 
came invested with Divinity. And it was this Godhead 
that called him imperiously through the Motherland 
whose heart throbbed for her children as vividly as 
that of a mother in flesh and blood. I will even go farther 
and say that, if he had not been the authentic mystic he 
was, one would not have felt when one was near him as 
though one was basking in some spirit sunshine of his 
personality. I have not only his personal friends in mind 
when I say this, I would include the dispossessed and the 
unfortunate also who were left out in the cold by cruel 
life. Doubtless all men who bear the stamp of great- 
ness do often shed this warmth, more or less; but it is 
only in the case of a mystic that this warmth can radiate 
pervasively outside man’s little world of self. As said 
the great mystic poet A.E. whom Subhash adored: 

When the Spirit wakens, it will not have less 
Than the whole of life for its tenderness. 

Which is not to say, however, that it was only the 
disinherited—the insulted and the injured of the earth— 
who basked in this warmth of his great heart. Many a 
stricken soul derived from his moral support just the 
strength one misses most in life, especially when faced 
by the discouragements of materialist sceptics. I will 
make bold to give a personal illustration to attest this 
fortifying power of his character. 

IT have said that I myself and a few others (like Khi- 
tish Prasad Chatterji) gave up sitting for the I.C.S. mov- 
ed by Subhash’s resolve to resign from the “heaven-born 
service” as he was wont to call it, sarcastically. I bade 
farewell to Law as well. Next I gave up Mathematical 
Tripos Part I, after having passed Part I. I bade good- 


bye to Law, indeed, with genuine relief, but it cost me a 
real pang to abandon Mathematics as I still had a lurk- 
ing ambition to be titled a “Wrangler”—a silly ambition 
no doubt, but, when all is said and done, we all have to 
gtow up slowly to wisdom’s stature from the rather 
pathetic dwarfhood of folly. And it is a difficult growth, 
because it is not easy to recognise as foolish our faith in 
gilded (academic) glory. But I was called to music, a 
hard task-master. An idealist friend of ours, now no 
more (a physicist who had won distinction as an engineer 
in Germany, Sarat Dutt by name) came once to exhort 
me to “burn my boats” as Subhash had done. The shaft 
went home: I felt, with a pang, that I dare not claim 
Subhash as my friend if I went on thus, playing safe till 
doomsday. The only solace was that in the school of 
life one did, sometimes, learn even through one’s worst 
mistakes and fears. Or, to put it in Sri Aurobindo’s 
vibrant words in Savitri: 

Our ignorance is wisdom’s chrysalis, 
Our error weds new knowledge on its way, 
Its darkness is a blackened knot of light. 

So, I decided first to have a grounding in the theory 
of music and accoustics in Cambridge and took the Music 
Special. But the theory of music I-found as dull as dull 
can be. It was the living throbbing Elysium of melody 
that had laid its yoke on my soul. So I passed only one 
part of the music special and failed in the second. I was 
depressed. But I had only myself to blame. I was con- 
stantly attending concerts and operas and thumping on 
the piano, besides striving, secretly, to compose. That 
wasn’t the way, surely, to pass a hard examination in 

7, OSG Cae Ais Pe: | ey Fn reas OE A eOee, cS E LS, CA, eee 


mony and counterpoint and part-singing and what not. 
But now I wanted to have practical training in music to 
be able to sing the “art-songs” of Germany. It was 
Schubert, Schumann, Brahm and the Italian operas that 
beckoned to me. I wanted to flower as a creative singér. 
So I resolved to leave Cambridge without a degree. 
Wouldn’t that be “burning my boats?” 

My people in India were all persuaded it would be 
“suicidal’’ and so were terribly scared. I cannot blame 
them. For with all my foolhardiness I was perhaps just 
wise enough to know that I was not quite what I fondly 
believed myself to be. And then, was I not impulsive 
and mercurial enough in all conscience? I had parts, 
even my enemies admitted that; but, fortunately, I was 
not likely to fulfil my early promise—the way I was shap- 
ing, they all chuckled in delight. And, all the time, my 
dear ones at home frantically appealed to me not to aban- 
don the Tripos. “Come back at least as a Professor in 
embryo if you won’t become a full-fledged ‘pucca sahib,” 
they thundered and wailed alternately. 

But I yearned, I repeat, to “burn my boats”, if only 
to follow in the footsteps of Subhash who had set the 
example of a “brave lack of foresight,” as Dutt used to 
put it trenchantly after having come to love the youthful 

We stayed with him in his Golder’s Green flat in 
London—Subhash and I—and Subhash came to conceive 
a genuine admiration for his virile unimpaired spirit of 
enterprise. His admiration had not been ill-founded. Had 
not Dutt won eminence in Germany as an engineer dur- 
ing the First World War, and did he not speak beauti- 
fully with inside knowledge about the creative spirit in 
modern science? Subhash grew to adore Dutt who, in 


his turn, would be tenderness itself to his distinguished 
admirer. He was also fond of my singing. So he kept 
on exhorting me in his incisive style. But the dead- 
weight of discouragements of my friends and relatives 
irl India and England had proved too heavy to be jetti- 
soned by my own unaided strength. Suppose, I brooded, 
I was really, under my skin, “a view-changer” who was 
at the mercy of catch-words and battle-cries of the hour 
—what then? Nor could I deny that I was prone by 
nature to vacillate. No, I could never hope to emulate 
Subhash because he was built of a different clay and 
moulded by a will which had little kinship with mine. 
So said my critics and counsellors, friends and relatives, 
~ unanimously, 

Heart-sick with indecision and misgivings, I appeal- 
ed, at long last, to Subhash, 

“You must tell me Subhash, how I should act,” I 
said, “for I am at the parting of the ways, aS you can 
well see,’’ 

“But I don’t know anything about music, Dilip,” he 
answered, non-committally. 

I took it to heart. 

“But I am not asking you to pronounce on or about 
musical technique,” I insisted. “I am only asking you to 
tell me about your basic reaction to my ideal. I want to 
take to music as my vocation and burn my boats, like 
you. But while you are born with an iron will, I am 
dubbed a ‘view-changer’ as you know. I want your 
honest and final opinion on the matter.” 

Subhash put a friendly hand on my shoulder. 

“But why do you refer to the gibes of these worldly 
people, Dilip?” he said. “You know very well I have 
little truck with those who decry idealism.” 


Exactly,’’ I said, heartened. “And you yourself 
told me the other day that you could never understand 
a mode of life in which idealism and adventure played. 
no part.” . 

“And I fully meant it, I assure you,” he ratified, and 
the dreamer in him woke up at once. 

“Listen Dilip,” he resumed, after a brief pause. “You 
know I expect much of you. That is why I go out of my 
way constantly to nag at you so that you may not waste 
your time with wastrels.” 

“But things are not always what they seem, dear 

“Listen,” he cut in. “You know very well I have 
little patience with psychological niceties, and I know, 
too, I have disappointed ever so many who dub me a 
‘spoil-sport’. But music—though I know very little about 
it—is not a sport: it is something unlifting, as I have felt, 
the more forcefully since I came to know you. So you 
can never forfeit my support, such as it is, if you take 
to it whole-heartedly. Only remember, you have got 
to be single-minded. For then only shall you have con- 
futed your critics. Danton’s dictum ‘always audacity’ 
(toujours de Vaudace) appeals to me powerfully. I have 
always cordially hated the beaten track. The argument 
of your critics that music is unlikely to prove rewarding 
as a career leaves me cold. For, boiled down, it comes 
to this that music has not been taken up so far by our 
youths with anything like real seriousness. I do not 
know, mind you, how far music will help you in your 
spiritual evolution. But I think I may assure you sin- 
cerely that, when your advisers shake their heads at your 
resolution to take to musie as a vocation on the ground 
that ‘it is not done,’ it makes my blood boil. Must we 



come to England only to turn out clerks and contractors, 
bureaucrats and barristers—which is done? No! and of 
course your idealism has my full support—for music, I 
am persuaded, can be an ideal in the real sense of the 

That decided me. I left directly afterwards for Ger- 
many to have a good grounding in voice-training. But 
that is another story. I must come back to Subhash. 

I have dwelt at some length on this episode only to 
testify to the fortifying aspect of Subhash’s radiant per- 
sonality. It is not always easy to assess the net value 
of what we imbibe from our environments because, al- 
though we owe a great deal to what we, often uncon- 
sciously, absorb from our circum-ambient atmosphere, we 
are a little too ready to claim as our own the strength 
that flows into us from without. The reason is that we 
are egoistic by nature. That is why ingratitude is so 
plentiful on earth in all climes. All the same, even to 
espy a citadel is to feel a trifle stronger especially when 
one is war-weary. Subhash was, to many, a source of 
just such a spectacular strength of a veritable citadel, 
good even to behold. When I thought of him I often re- 
called Chesterton’s poem he loved: 

In a time of sceptic moths and cynic rusts 
And fatted lives that of their sweetness tire, 
In a world of flying loves and fading lusts 

It is something to be sure of a desire, 

It is, indeed. One meets refreshing artists, though 
not quite as often as one might wish. One meets mate- 
rialist scientists, and how often one wishes they were a 
little less blatantly in evidence! But when one meets a 

to Cre ad ces 


the plinth of one desire, one does feel fulfilled, some- 
how; and grateful, besides. For cynics and sceptics as 
teachers do their best to make our ideals look like the 
follies of the blind. We need a counterblast, Subhash, 
to me at all events, was just such a force, a bugle-call to 
be reckless, to aspire for courage which counts no costs. 
It is not often that one meets a sudden lighthouse of cer- 
titude in the troubled waters of life. We paid him our 
tribute because he could, when black winds howled, act 
as just such a beacon. 


All this rhetoric may, however, be doing Subhash 
a kind of injustice in that those who have never known 
him intimately may, from my emphasis on the utter 
seriousness of his nature, have inferred that he had no 
lighter side of his nature, like a sense of humour or love 
of laughter. I have mentioned already how genuinely 
he loved pure fun and care-free laughter. But I have yet 
to bring out his sensitiveness to humour. Years later he 
said at a public meeting that his sense of laughter and 
beauty grew rather slowly and in spite of himself. This 
is not quite true to fact. For Subhash, though serious 
enough in all conscience, had always had a pronounced 
streak of the childlike in him. That is why he could go 
on replenishing his freshness for such a long time—ex- 
cept perhaps in those grim days when he was involved 
in the unhappy imbroglio with the “Congress High and 
Mighty Command” as he used to call that body in an 
aggrieved tone. But even then the elasticity and re- 
silience of his spirit never failed him—the reason why he 
could still go on laughing uproariously at jokes and repar- 


tees with an abandon that surprised those who knew 
what he had been going through at the time. No mere 
self-control or aristrocatic pride can ever achieve this. 
Only love of laughter can work the miracle. This is by 
no means an overstatement. “Laughter was given by the 
Gods to man,” writes Sri Krishnaprem (alias Ronald 
Nixon) in his book, The Yoga of the Kathopanishad, “and 
it was one of their choicest gifts. No animal can laugh 
nor does it need to, since it lives on the harmony of the 
purely instinctive life. It is only Man whose possession 
of an ego introduces stresses and strains which cannot 
be avoided and for the healing of which, therefore, the 
Gods gave him this supreme gift. Time and again it will 
save us when otherwise all would be lost. He who can- 
not laugh, he whose devotions are too serious for the 
healing waves of laughter, had better look out: there are 
breakers ahead!” In the public meeting referred to, 
Subhash also said that his love of Jaughter might per- 
haps have got inhibited had it not been “so richly nourish- 
ed by Dilip’s laughter.” I think he exaggerated the effect 
T had on him. All I had done was to draw him out of 
his shell from his too strenuously “serious devotions” and 
leave the rest to his natural healthy susceptibility to song 
and light and Iaughter. That was why I had, some- 
times, to wrench him from his dreary Dantons, gloomy 
Gibbons and moody Mazzinis and bring him in contact 
with men like Sarat Dutt, Sarat Chatterji, Krishnaprem, 
G.V. Mehta and others who had a vivid sense of humour. 
And it worked. I will give here only a sample or two 
of Dutt’s humour, in London, which made Subhash rol- 
lick in laughter even though he was at the time under 
a great mental anguish thanks to family discord. 


‘ ever Dutt spoke of him he wound up with: “All fathers 
credit their children with matchless intelligence. I won- 
der how then to explain the countless roaring idiots on 
earth, among whom the son of my grief happens to be 

We would all laugh heartily when Dutt perpetrated 
his funniments in his inimitable vein, but it was Subhash 
who outlaughed us all with his rollicking laughter 
reminding us often (as Dutt rightly said, quoting from 

Sport that wrinkled care derides, 
And laughter holding both his sides. 

And I myself was glad of the “sport’’ as Subhash 
looked relieved the moment he reacted thus, spontan- 
eously, to little quips and jeus d’esprit! One reason lay 
perhaps in this that, unlike us, he had, since his early 
childhood, walked too many blind alleys and grim de- 
serts of life. High seriousness had been almost the alpha 
and omega of his existence. Consequently, he needed 
the relaxation of laughter more than the likes of us who 
also’ laughed, but not quite as unreservedly as he, at 
Dutt’s simple jokes. I recall another. Dutt told us one 
day that he liked my music so much that often he want- 
ed to sing away. “But,” he added, dolefully, 

I want my songs to please you all, 
yet when I sing—my own 

Dear self gets so crestfallen to think 
my songs have made you groan! 

And how Subhash would burst out laughing again 
—holding his sides—till he was all but breathless! It 
is unforgettable, his open laughter—so strong yet child- 


like, self-oblivious yet never cheap. I will skip a few 
years to depict a conversazione we had at our house in 
Theatre Road, Calcutta, with our famous novelist Sarat 
Chandra Chatterji. It was in 1938, I think. Subhash 
looked rather fagged and under the weather, He was 
then the President of the B.P.C.C. (Bengal Provincial 
Congress Committee). I invited him and Sarat Chandra 
and a few others whom he liked. I tried, from time to 
time, to afford him some kind of diversion in this way 
and usually rounded off with musical soirées which he 
loved. On this occasion, however, it was just a friendly 
gathering under the auspices of our great litterateur who 
was a brilliant wit, to boot. Subhash loved to hear him 
talk and called him one of the most revivifying men he 
had ever met. I remember that day almost as clearly as 
I could remember a thing of yesterday. 

Our talks began with Khaddar. Sarat Chandra had 
then given up the homespun with a disappointment which 
contrasted ill with the enthusiasm of his earlier days. 
Subhash asked him the why and wherefore of his sud- 
den defection. 

“Very simple,’’ he replied with mock gravity. “No 
servant would stay. For the cloth, they said, they could 
dip in a bucket of water but never lift thereafter.” (Mean- 
ing, of course, that it became too heavy). 

I said, casually, when the general laughter had sub- 
sided: “Let’s all go out on a steamer trip in the Ganges, 
Subhash! It is so refreshing, and you do need a change, 
you know!” 

Subhash shot a meaningful glance at our chief guest: 
“Well, I can take the trip only if he consents to officiate 

Cea eo eee ee er ee ee 


~ other said in his inimitable vein. “For don’t I know 
_ what it will end in, inevitably?” 

“Whatever do you mean?”’ 

“Only this that they will handcuff me and lead me 
away—even God doesn’t know where, and you will all 
yell in chorus Bande Mataram, clapping behind my back, 
and maybe pelt me with faded flowers. But the sum total 
isn’t calculated to compensate me for a year’s incarcera- - 
, tion—and they tell me the powers that be don’t supply 
opium in jail.’’ 

Peal after peal of bell-like laughter broke out from 

But I must turn to more serious things. 


It is well-known that on his return from England in 
1921 Subhash placed himself at the disposal of the leader 
whom he soon came to adore: Deshabandhu Chittaranjan 
Das. I read in the papers about the laurels Subhash 
swiftly won one after the other. He was appointed the 
Principal of the Bengal National College and became also 
the Publi¢ity Officer of the B.P.C.C. Later he was made 
the Captain of the National Volunteer Corps, a job very 
much after his heart. But he was arrested in December 
the same year (1921) along with his beloved leader and 
sentenced to imprisonment for six months. 

I was anxious for him but of course I felt proud 
also. When he was released I was still in Berlin learn- 
ing violin and European singing in the Italian method. 
Subhash used to write to me now and then, but only 
brief notes: he had never felt an urge to take to writing __ 
as an art. Yet I seldom received a letter then or after-/ 



wards which did not disengage something of his delight- 
ful strength and abiding affection. And there was always 
some reference or other to little things I had done for him. | 
I will quote a letter he wrote in September, 1932, in 
reply to one of mine, which I had written from our Ash- 
ram at Pondicherry, to illustrate his essentially grateful 
nature. He was then in the Penitentiary, Madras, un- 

_ der detention. 

My dear Dilip, your affectionate letter of the 15th _ 
August which reached me on the 29th ultimo...... ; 

In what you have done for me, you have acted 
like a true friend and you could not have done more.* 

I do not know if I am sufficiently ‘open’ to re- 
ceive yogic-power—probably not. Nevertheless, I 
think that even those who rule out a supra-mental 
order have to admit the existence and efficacy of 
what is popularly styled ‘will-power’. And this power 
—call it by what name you will—is bound to act, 
even if the receiver is not ‘open’ or adequately 
and consciously receptive. I am grateful to Sri 

Yes, ‘Madras is so near to Pondicherry’—but the 
walls intervene, and that makes all the difference in 
the world...... 

It is not necessary to bother you with details 
about my ‘physical’ health... I don’t think I have :; 
suffered from ‘mental’ ill-health as I have been suf- 
fering from the physical—and my usual ‘spirits’ are 
therefore unaffected. 

I have been studying a bit and thinking more; 
at times I feel as if I am groping in the dark. But I 


cannot go wrong as long as I am sincere and earnest 
—even if my progress towards Truth be more zig-zag 
than straight. After all, life’s march is not as straight 
as a straight line. 

Has not each of us a sphere of work allotted to 
us, taking ‘work’ in the broadest sense? And is not 
this sphere conditioned by our past karma, our pre- 
sent desires, etc. and our environment? Neverthe- . 
less, how difficult it is to understand or realise our 
proper sphere of work! This sphere of work is the 
external aspect of our nature or dharma. It is so 
easy to say, ‘live in accordance with your swadharma’ 
—but so difficult to know what one’s dharma is. It 
is there that the help of a Guru becomes so neces- 
sary—and even indispensable. 

I know that you will continue to feel for me and 
I also know that in the long run this cannot prove 
unavailing. This is a great solace to me—no matter 
where I may happen to be confined. I have appre- 
ciated (I cannot find the proper word!) Sri Auro- 
bindo’s action. I shall not say more lest by langu- 
age become conventional. 

With best love, 

: Ever affectionately yours, 

I have reproduced the letter in full because it gives 
the lie to some of his detractors who assert that he was 
conceited or arrogant by nature. Vanity, yes. It is un- 
deniable that vanity is not exactly a quality one can afford 
to feel vain about. Yet I have often wondered how many 
of us could honestly claim they would have acted more 
unostentatiously if they had been in his shoes! Popularity, 


after a point, is always dangerous, as it feeds the fire ° 

of self-esteem which is too obstinate, alas, to be dowsed. 
I have said that Subhash was reserved, if not shy. By 
‘shy’ I mean what, let us say, Jawaharlal was by nature, 
though this may sound somewhat absurd to those who 

would judge the indefatigable Kashmiri by his outward — 

activities, speeches and fumings. But he is shy by 
temperament, only the hammering and battering of 
politics have somewhat squeezed his native shyness out 
of him. Inevitably. To remain in the lime-light for a 
long spell must always be detrimental to shyness, and 
shyness—in the sense of not wishing to exhibit oneself 
—is essentially an appanage of true refinement of 
character. The Subhash of maturer years could not 
possibly retain intact his shyness, no more than a famous 
artist could his reticence after having granted a million 
interviews to the Press and volunteered to reveal his 
personal reactions to all sorts of questions and problems. 
Could any man of refinement go on talking on public 
platforms and exposing himself to the hawk-eyes of the 

Press without getting his finer sensibilities somewhat 

blunted in the process? 

I say this not to judge Subhash of the later period 
but to bring out the man—the friend and the mystic—I 
knew and loved before he came to live and roam in the 
full glare of countless adoring eyes. The former, I claim, 
was much the bigger man—or, shall I say, the thinker 
and mystic who had written to me from aboard the ship 
bound for Vienna (March 5, 1933): 

My dear Dilip, 
I have not written to you for a long time though 



theless. During the months of January and Feb- 
ruary I was passing through a species of mental tor- 
ture owing to repeated pin-pricks of the Govern- 
ment and till at the very last moment I was not 
at all sure that I would be able to leave for Europe 
for treatment. Owing to the vindictive policy of the 
Government it was not possible for me to meet my. 
parents or my friends. Only a few near relatives were 
allowed to interview me in Jubbalpore Jail. Many 
friends came from distant places to Bombay to inter- 
view me but they had to return disappointed. The 
police officers who escorted me up to the boat sur- 
rounded me like a pack of hounds till the ship actual- 
ly sailed from the harbour. These pin-pricks which 
continued till the moment of my sailing from Bombay 
caused me intense pain. * 

However, I do not think I should worry you with 
these petty affairs. It was so good of you to feel 
so keenly for me all the time I was suffering in cus- 
tody. And it was so unexpected because you are 
supposed to have ‘given up the world’ and taken to 
Yoga. To be quite frank, my dear Dilip, quite apart 
from Yoga and spirituality, your intensely human 
feeling for me has profoundly moved me. That you 
who are supposed to have forgotten all eatthly 
affairs and to have taken leave of your erstwhile 
friends—should feel so keenly and intensely for one 
in my position was altogether unexpected. 

In one of your letters, you asked me about my 
attitude towards Shiva—or something to the effect. 
To be quite frank, I am torn this side and that— 
between my love for Shiva, Kali and Krishna. 

re ce gat oe Ce 



fer one symbolism to another. I have found that my 
moods vary—and according to my prevalent mood, 
I choose one of the three forms—Shiva, Kali and 
Krishna. Of these three again, the struggle is be- 
tween Shiva and Shakti. Shiva, the ideal Yogi,.has 
a fascination for me and Kali the Mother also makes 
an appeal to me. You see, of late (i.e. for the last 
four or five years) I have become a believer in 
Mantra-Shakti by which I mean that certain Man- 
tras have an inherent Shakti. Prior to that, I had 
the ordinary rationalistic view, namely that Man- 
tras are like symbols and they are aids to concen- 
tration. ‘But my study of Tantra philosophy gra- 
dually convinced me that certain Mantras had an 
inherent Shakti—and that each mental constitution 
was fitted for a particular Mantra. Since then, I 
have tried my best to find out what my mental con- 
stitution is like and which Mantra I would be suited 
for. But so far I have failed to find that out because 
my moods vary and I am sometimes a Shaiva, some- 
times a Shakta and sometimes a Vaishnava. I think 
it is here that the Guru becomes useful—because the 
real Guru knows more about ourselves than we do 
—and he could at once tell us what Mantra we should 
take up and which method of worship we should 

To come back to matters mundane, I reach 
Venice to-morrow. From there I proceed to Vienna 
to consult doctors there. Thereafter I shall probably 
go to some Swiss sanatorium. 

The voyage was a fairly pleasant one up to Port 

Said as the sea was calm. Since passing Port Said 
Mua: Biace: ~ getesi pi eetial steets: “gyealy -scEmeathine. ‘ie 


troubles (like abdominal pain) are still persisting— 
but nevertheless I have been feeling somewhat bet- 
ter. Before we reached Port Said I had been feeling 
decidedly better but the rough weather has upset me 
-since we entered the Mediterranean Sea. 
I shall stop here today as the rolling is making 
writing somewhat difficult. 
With warmest love 
Ever affectionately, 

It is worthy of note that the Subhash who spoke 
so loudly about himself in politics, so sure of his way, 
speaks here with a real humility—real in the sense that 
it is not put on as a social veneer. Sri Aurobindo once 
wrote to me that real: knowledge only commenced from 
the moment one touched the nadir of one’s self-assurance, 
One begins to know the heart of things only when one ~ 
has learned a supreme lesson of life; what we call know- 
ledge is something very different from true wisdom which 
alone can teach us to steer clear of the hidden reefs and 
shoals in the uncharted waters of life. But to come 
back to the letter just quoted. 

Sri Aurobindo commented on this (27-3-1933): 

At Subhash’s conscientious hesitations between 
Krishna and Shiva and Shakti I could not help in- 
dulging in a smile. If a man is attracted by one form 
or two forms of the Divine, it is all right, but if he 
is drawn to several at a time he need not torment 
himself over it. A man of some development has 





necessarily several sides in his nature and it is quite 
natural that different aspects should draw or govern 
different personalities in him: he can accept them 
all and harmonise them in the One Divine and 
the One Adyashakti of whom all are the manifesta- 


It is to bring to the fore the developed spiritual na- 
ture of the pensive activist and thereby underline his 
mystical possibilities that I have published Subhash’s let- 
ters. It is hardly necessary to comment on their sin- 
cerity so strong and, withal, so tender in its wistfulness. 
All the same, I am tempted to draw the attention of 
modern votaries of Western nationalism to one sentence 
in his letter: “The real Guru knows more about our- 
selves than we do.’’ This dictum is really the heart of 
Indian mysticism as is admitted by all who know anything 
about Indian hagiography. That Subhash found no diffi- 
culty in accepting this tenet—as his early letters to his 
mother, too, amply testify—does bear out the essential 
correctness of my appraisement of his swadharma of the 
mystic. I have, indeed, felt time and time again this in- 
herent flair of the contemplative in him whose aspira- 
tion for the Yoga of Love came, alas, to be smothered 
progressively by the growing accretions of a life of hectic 
activism which he equated with karmayoga. Some dis- 
cerning critics have, indeed, inferred this deep potentia- 
lity in him from the strange but unmistakable aura of 
other-worldliness that protected him like an armour, but 


were they: told that the outer man had won over the inner 
what could only be dubbed a Pyrrhic victory! By which 
I mean the victory which men born to a deep spiritual 
urge win when they manoeuvre a paradharma to achieve 
more spectacular but less convincing results than those 
they might have obtained had they stood loyally by their 
deepest swadharma. What happens at such times has 
keen, described by Aldous Huxley in his profound 
biography of a monk, entitled Grey Eminence. When 
such mystics trip, he writes, “they lose their insight and 
authority, and the society which it was their business to 
enlighten remains wholly dark, deprived of all communi- 
cation with divine reality, and consequently an easy vic- 
tim to preachers of false doctrines.” 

It is not, however, to convert the fiercely patriotic 
over to my persuasion—about the mystic quest of the soul 
being more truly creative than the political—that I stress 
the Yogi in Subhash who might have come into his own 
even in this life had he given his will to the All-transcen- 
dent, the Paresha, rather-than the worldlings He sustains. 
That is next to impossible. In Bengali there is a homely 
proverb which says that it is possible to wake a man who 
sleeps but not one who feigns to be asleep while actually 
wide-awake. If I underline this irrepressible trend in 
Subhash’s deeper self it is in the hope that my emphasis 
may win today a new and perhaps deeper significance in 
the light of his subsequent evolution. In other words, 
I would humbly submit that his political frustration would 
not have been reversed so miraculously, overnight, had 
he not invoked, through the sincerity of his unspoken 
aspiration, a Power of compassion he was always seeking 

but never could supplicate in total self-surrender. This 


is what Vyas meant when he assured us in*his great 
epic: . 

Who loves the All-transcendent more than all 
The World—if such a Pover deviate 

Through error from his Goal, he shall not fall: 
For his heart’s high Resident sfall rule out Fate.* 

Still this was doctoring or salvaging, if you wil& but 
not redeeming. And that is why I have always.deemed 
it a thousand pities that the mystic th Subhash should 
have swerved from “‘the All-transcendent.’’ For had he 
followed the greater call and become a nation-builder (as 
he was cut out to be), he would have won through in 
this life to the supreme fulfilment he missed for a lesser 
love. But then, in the last analysis, which of us ean for- 
see whither we are being led by the Lord of our destiny 
and through what devious ways of His maya? Has pot: 
the Gita said: nehabhikramanashosti—“no pees 2s 
in high endeavour is wasted?” Besides, who dare plumb 
the Wisdom of the Sphinx who pitchforks some of His 
devotees into deeper abysses than the rest; creates blind 
alleys of illusion which few can suspect till it is tog}late; 
and last, though not least, sanctions even our selflove 
to make the subsequent self-discovery more ravishing! To 

* quote a Sufi theosophist: . 
I fell in lave with mine own self 
and marvelled...... till I met in Thee 
The One I’d wooed, and lo, it was 
my own own personality! 

* Svapadamulam bhajatah priyasya 
Tyaktéanya-bhavasya Harih Pareshah 
Vikarma yachchotpatitam kathamchit 
Dhunoti sarvam hridi-sannivishtah. 
(The Bhagvat, XI-V-42} 



We cannot plumb with the intellect, that is, which ig 
not to say that we are born helpless, totally unequipped. 
For the truth is that it ig possible to glimpse here and 
now a Divine Purpose working as a leaven at the heart“ 

_ of things; that eves’when we stand baffled by the inseru$ 
.table Wisdom thaf rules our destiny, we do meet its 
flying traces, Indeed, hints of the Revelation may come 
when, rapt in our routine of dust and diny we least ex- 
pect a vision of the Reality; then, lo, mystic strains are 
wafted to us from realms beyond our ken, rapturous calls 
come to plough the rocky strands of doubt and disbelief 
and plant seeds therein so a Love that ‘passeth all un- 
derstanding’ may help us achieve a flowering fulfilment 

'-when all seemed lost. It must have been some such call 
Subhash heard through the sadhu whom he used to visit 

‘now and again. For he writes in his autobiography (p. 
59)“ About sixty miles from the city, there lived a young 
ascetic hailing from the Punjab. This ascetic , would 
never take shelter under,a‘roof, for the ideal which he 
practised evidently was: 

The sky thy roof, the grass thy bed 
And food that chance may bring. fs 

“I was greatly impressed by this man,” he confesses 
withopt ado. 
fe Aaa so he left his home in search of a Guru to answer 
Hhe mystic call he had evidently heard in his wistful heart. 
gud he mét him then, his subsequent life might have had 
vyery different tale to tell. But, Guru or no Guru, the 
&=-thless seéd (the bijam avyayam of the Gita) that had 

n planted in the arid soil of his adolescence did grow’ 

‘a dream arbour whose nostalgic murmurs saddened 




him even in the thick of his virile activism of later years. 
To give an instance in point let me give an excerpt 
from a letter he wrote to me from Mandalay jail 
(Appendix V): 

I am inclined to think that the suffering in jail 
life is Jess physical than mental. When the blows 
dealt, of insult and humiliation, ‘are not too brutal, 
the pain and torments of prison-life do not become 
so hard to bear.... But lest we forget too readily 
our material existence and conjure up an ideal world 
of bliss within, they will deal us these blows to waken 
us to our bleak and joyless surroundings. 

It is truly remarkable that such a note, redolent of 
mysticism, which was hardly audible in his life of hurry 
and hustle became almost always a dominant one as soon 
as he found some solitude in a prison cell. That is why 
he could so swiftly recapture in jail the authentic accent . 
of spiritual humility. “At times I feel as if I am gropin: 
in the dark,’”—this was his recurrent refrain in detenticr . 
But the moment he came out again this deeper note tail- 
ed off into silence. To give another instance (Appendix : 

_ When I pause to reflect calmly, I feel the stirring 
of a certitude within that a Vast Purpose is at work 
in the core of our fevers and frustrations. Could only | 
this faith preside over every moment of our consciou . 
life wouldn’t our suffering lose its poignancy and 
bring us face to face with the ideal bliss even in a 
dungeon? mo 
It is this hidden trend in his nature, of feeling after’ 
the heart of things and refusing to be fooled by ap-' 
pearances, that had drawn me so powerfully to him from | 



my point and, therefore, although he was then, generally,’ 
more hopeful about things than I, he had roundly ap- 
proved of my main outlook. But, as the years glided by, 
we found new orientations which threatened to sap the 
very. basis of our frien@ship. Only one instance must 
suffice. Bertrand Russell once told me firmly: “I would 
die rather than teach patriotism.” The vehemence of his 
disapproval went home, so much so, that ever since then 
whenever I saw an honest man carried away by the mad 
eddies of patriotism, I could only echo Shakespeare: “O 
God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to 
steal away their brains!” : 

I make mention of this to emphasise that there would 
surely have been a permanent estrangement between 
Subhash and myself had there not been this redeeming 

' streak of an equally ineradicable other-worldliness in him, 

: If only he had nursed it a little more he might have 

arrived at the ideal humility which a brilliant writer has 

4 expressed with such graphic realism: “There is only one 
thing about which I am certain and this is that there is 
very little about which one can be certain.”’* 

But a truce to such melancholy might-have-beens. 


k The letters I have quoted will have underlined a 
significant fact, to wit, how susceptible Subhash was to 
sympathy and love. It was like him, I repeat, to set 

" store by even small services which we scarcely feel worth 

* making a song or dance about.. Not that he gave voice 
to his grateful. appreciation with a loud vocabulary. He 
had, like most social lions, developed ‘a characteristic 


technique of his own to testify to his gratitude. Some- 
times, there might have been a tang of the noblesse oblige 
about his recognition—since he was nothing if not an 
aristocrat to the manner born—but certainly never a hint 
of hauteur or conventional politeness which so often 
makes it suspect. And of course he was too proud to 
be a snob, whom he equated to a vulgarian. 

The point I want to make is that whenever he receiv- 
ed anything from anybody he regarded himself as a deb- 
tor to his benefactor even when the latter had no inkling 
about it at all. And as soon as he thrilled to an artist, 
he would go miles out of his way to do him a service 
or give an encouragement by word of mouth. Our great 
novelist Saratchandra Chatterji is an instance in point. 
But what was perhaps the most convincing evidence was 
his reaction to Kaji Nazrul Islam. Let me explain why 
I say this. 

I have mentioned already that Subhash was never 
one to break bread with Bohemians or eccentrics who 
openly defied the accepted social codes with a superior 
smile. Kaji Nazrul, in his turn, called martinets prigs, 
with an insouciant guffaw. Carefree Subhash had heard 
of his talents as a poet and composer but kept him at 
arm’s length. So even when I enthused over Kaji, he 
stayed cold as marble. However, once it so happened 
that the two met at a charity performance I was giving 
in the Rammohan Library in aid of the political detenus. 
Deshbandhu C.R. Das himself presided. Kaji began 
with his famous hortatory song: 

Durgama giri kantara maru dustara parabara, 
Langhite habe ratri nishithe jatrira hunshiar! 

Subhash was swept off his feet, especially when the 


poet sang the last stanza opening with: Phansir manche 
geye gechhe jara jibaner jaygan.... 

I give below my own traslation of the three best 

Grim mountains, pathless forests, deserts, 
spanless oceans vast, 
We'll brave in the heart of Night, up, voyagers, 
the die is cast! 

The boat is rocked, the waters swirl, the pilot . 

has missed the way, 

The sails are torn, who will to the helm, with 
courage in high display? 

Where are our stalwarts? Come to the fore! 
Calls Destiny at your door! 

The storm is black, yet dare we must and 
lead our ship to the shore. 

The ones who on the hangman’s scaffold sang 
lone hymns to life’s sunrise, 

Are watching now with spirit eyes, what will 
you sacrifice? 

Who will take up the gauntlet flung by Fate 
and save the nation? 

The boat is rocked, the waters swirl! Up, pilot! 
to your station! 

The next day, lo, Subhash called on me early in 
the morning! The talk we had was, in substance, some- 
thing like this: 

“Look here, Dilip! I have come—you know for 
whom: Kazi. What are you doing about him?” 

“Let me tell you a story, my dear Subhash,” I said 
agreeably surprised. “There was a High Court _Sudge . 

Lee oe eee as Ne eG 


demning an accused who was obviously innocent. . The 
senior Counsel who had. defended him kept silent, but 
his junior blurted out hotly that he was surprised that 
His Lordship should have decided as he did. ‘Contempt 
of Court!’ roared His Lordship. ‘I beg your Lordship,’ 
pleaded the senior Counsel, ‘to make allowance for my 
young friend. For believe me, if he were as old as I 
he would not dare be surprised at any verdict Your 
Lordship might give.’” 

“Be surprised then to your heart’s content, green- 
horn!” Subhash said when our laughter had subsided. 
“But I insist we must do something about it. Kazi must 
be weaned from his undesirable associates.” 

“Surely it was a wise horse who neighed: ‘You could 
take me to the water, Sir, but you couldn’t make me 
drink!’ ” 

“Surely, you are more witty than relevant,” he said, 
scowling his darkest, “for the simple reason that a man 
is not a horse.” 

“Nor a dog either,” I supplemented. “And that’s 
precisely why a Frenchman who was both relevant and 
witty said, ‘The more you see dogs the less you like 
men.’ Dutt used to assure us the author was Voltaire, 
remember? No, Subhash, dear! Listen, for I am not irre-_ 
levant. You don’t know Kazi: I do. That’s why I say 
let him be.’’ 

“May I know your reason, please?” 

“You may save a man from an enemy but not when 
the enemy is his own self.” 

“In other words, we must leave him to his fate, 

“Bull’s eye, Subhash! Bravo!” 

aaa me 7 ee fa 


you can’t sit by when a friend you cherish is heading 
straight for the Pit.’ 

“I couldn’t once, but I certainly can now. No, listen, 
“ Subhash! I may have missed many a lesson that life has 
to teach. But one I have learned which is that the re- 
former's is a bad business. Kazi is a charming chap, but 
he’ has his own desperate kinks and, what is more, hap- 
pens to be somewhat attached to them.’’ 

“So you advise me to—to—” 

“Take him as he is, and not strive to remould him.”’ 

But that was just what Subhash could never do: to 
accept anything passively, ranging from “law and order” 
to “sigh and suicide.” He would take no end of pains to 
save a ‘man who wanted a swift exit out of the world 
even if it necessitated his chasing him on the brink of a 
precipice. Often enough, he had to pay dearly for it all, 
but he just hated to save his own skin. When I say this 
' Thave in mind some fanatical communists with whom he 
could never dream of having any truck and yet, when they 
came to him he gave them all the help they sorely needed, 
although he was not so blind as not to see that they would 
never lift’ a finger to help him were he to appeal to them 
in a similar plight. One such man came to me from Russia 
and though I took pity on him, I hastened—counselled 
by a dear friend, Dr. Satyen Bose—to see the last of him. 
But this man was subsequently quartered by Subhash, 
which leaked out and he had to pay for it: he was arrest- 
ed once again. I touch upon this unpleasant topic only 
to show up the innate magnanimity of his aristocratic na- 
ture because it was just for this aristrocracy of insou- 
ciance that he was subsequently castigated by those whom 
he had helped most to tide over some grave crises. 

But this type of experience (or shall I say contre- 


temps?) does leave, alas, a legacy of cynicism in the 
mind of an idealist activist. So, inevitably, Subhash’s 
outlook on life and things had to be modified as a result 
of such unhappy experiences. That is why in his ’thir- 
ties he used to quote, somewhat bitterly, what_C.R. Das 
! ie rere aera leadership_in politics: that he had 
ae run_across half as many scoundrels in his twenty- 
“fige years’ experience in law-courts as } in law-courts as he had. e had in that one 
year_of “co-operation with-he-non-co-operators_of India. 

I would not have dwelt on this had it not been for 
the fact that Subhash felt his deepening loneliness in his 
later life as keenly as he did. He told me more than 
once that it was brought home to him that he had few 
to count on among his fellow-workers. The novelist 
Saratchandra used to tell us (with an artist’s characteris- 
tic sigh) that ingratitude is so harmful to our social well- 
being less because it injures the benefited than because 
it infects the benefactor’s judgement with the virus of 
cynicism. In his remarkable novel entitled Palli-samaj 
he has brought out this thesis with his graphic art. Thus 
he was wont to warn Subhash repeatedly against trust- 
ing people too readily. But the crux of the problem in 
such matters of emotional psychology lies not so much 
in one’s failure to see how one’s faith in human nature 
is being sapped at its source, as in one’s powerlessness to 
make good the damage. “To be forewarned is to be fore- 
armed’’ holds more in the world of commercial give and 
take than in the world of psychological reactions. 

If this is borne in mind it may be easier to under- 
stand why Subhash was sometimes harsh in his stric- 
tures on his colleagues, specially during the period of 
his deepening frustration in politics. I would have pass- 
ed it by had I not seen how the psvchological kink pre- 


vented him from doing full justice to Pandit Jawaharlal, © 
with the result that he could not, in the end, help feel- 
ing somewhat hard on him, too. Otherwise I am con- 
fident he would have simply laughed it away, as he 
should have, when some of his associates warned him 
against Jawaharlal’s unconfessed “anti-Bengali’’ men- 
tality. I could not but regard it as a great tragedy. For 
I never believed that Jawaharlal could be adjudged paro- 
chial by anybody who could put two and two together. 
I don’t claim he had no limitations (mustn’t the human 
ego always mean a setting up of frontiers—at least till it 
is completely abolished?) but I do say that none who even 
once saw Jawaharlal at close range could possibly fail 
to be impressed by his fundamental sincerity and inte- 
grity of character. In our derelict times he was perhaps 
the one man in politics who, with his clear grasp of the 
trend of bizarre forces, especially in the sphere of inter- 
national politics, gave us some sense of direction and, 
even in the thick of the misleading poison-clouds of dip- 
lomacy, steered clear of the reefs of militant nationalism 
and the shoals of suicidal communalism. 

I wrote all this to Subhash in 1939 in a long confi- 
dential letter (which I sent through a courier) when he 
insisted, against the wise advice of Panditji, on stand- 
ing for re-election as President of the Congress. I risked 
it because I feared that his wiser elder’s counsel would 
go unheeded, as, unhappily, it did subsequently. I say 
‘unhappily,’ because some henchmen of Subhash con- 
stantly dinned into his ears that he was “the man of des- 
tiny at this crucial hour of Indian history.” In my letter 
I protested—very humbly but firmly—that we should be 
able to serve our country best if we really realised that 
“though all of us are wanted, none of us is wanted 


much,”* Not that I was so naive as to think that he 
would be likely to listen to such philosophical nonsense 
advocated from an arm-chair aloofness; for I could well 
imagine how hard it must be for him to rise to the occa- 
sion and resign gracefully when his blood had already 
drunk fire, thanks to his unfortunate clashes with the 
Congress High Command. But I had to make some at- 
tempt to make him see that he should stand eventually 
to gain if he would just resign gracefully and make room 
for the next President. “I know from experience, dear 
Subhash,” so I wrote, “how difficult it is to stand back 
even for a moment when fanfares of intoxication goad 
one forward relentlessly. But when all is said and done, 
a man becomes great in action only after having been 
great in his decisions which prompted the action. This 
may be beyond the capacity of the rank and file, but 
surely not beyond yours. Besides, you simply can’t 
afford to be blind to the probability that even if you were 
substantially right in your assessment of the political 
situation, this unseemly eagerness to be re-elected would 
look too personal to be convincing, Furthermore, Pandit 
Jawaharlal was surely right when he wrote to you that 
you hardly needed to cling to the President’s chair in 
order to make your great influence felt in the country.” 
But we humans, alas, being human: 

On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail, 
Reason the card, but passion is the gale.+ 
And we collide, as the gales do—and then there are 

unexpected eddies which often suck us down, the more 
effectively because of the haze. the gales bring in their 

* A favourite saying of Lowes Dickinson—B. M. Forster’s 
biography of Dickinson. 


wake. No wonder Subhash’s vision was blurred in the 
blinding dust-storm of party politics. 

But what about Pandit Jawaharlal? I have often 

marvelled how he could manage to avoid these storms 
* and eddies with success! And I spent so much thought 
on him not for the fun of speculation. I have endeavour- 
ed to appraise him as best I could because I did wish 
with all my heart that he and Subhash might be real 
comrades-in-arms in the same camp to confront our com- 
mon enemy, the English bureaucracy. I propose to dwell 
for a little on my gradual discovery of the reason why, 
by an irony of fate, this was rendered impussible, if only 
to bring Subhash’s character into a bolder relief through 
the art of contrast. 

It doesn’t need much perspicacity to see that these 
two bold and eminent sons of India had a deal in common. 
They were both aristocratic to their finger-rips, gene- 
rous, attractive, magnetic, patriotic, ingenuous, unques- 
tionably handsome, astonishingly healthy, incredibly 
energetic, naturally affectionate, essentially sincere and 
last, though not least, utterly inaccessible to fear that 
makes us falter. What then could have been the cause 
that dug an unbridgeable gulf between them? 

Realising full well that it is just when one itches 
most to figure as a Daniel that one is most liable to make 
a faux pas, I will nevertheless hazard that the crux of 
the trouble in such matters is generally to be found in 
some kind of indefinable instinctive disaccord. So it hap- 
pened that Subhash’s undeclared misgivings about 
Panditji were not appreciably lessened by the latter’s 
“fast-growing enthusiasm for the oracle of Moscow.” Be- 
sides, the mystic in him, too, could hardly feel assuaged 
when Panditji, improvising on the Communist war-cry 

about religion being the opium of the soul, openly wrote 
in his autobiography that the “spectacle of what is call- 
ed religion” always filled him with “horror” and so he 
had “frequently condemned it and wished to make a 
clean sweep of it.” He did, indeed, expose unerringly 
(in Chapter 47) a good many of the defect of “organised 
religion.” Only, alas, his findings were valid about what 
Prof. Toynbee rightly calls the outer “non-essentials of 
religion” as against its essence.* 

But as it is beyond the purview of my ‘reminiscences’ 
to hold the brief for religion in its essence or belaud its 
great contributions which inspired Prof. Toynbee to hail 
religion in his Civilization on Trial as “the serious busi- 
ness of the human race,” I will confine myself to stress 
only Subhash’s religious-mystic soul as one of the root 
causes of his disaccord with the agnostic materialism of 
Panditji. There was another thing: Panditji has said in 
his fascinating autobiography that he not only felt that 
he was “a stranger and alien in the West” but in India, 
too, he sometimes had “an exile’s feeling.” 

Though I felt moved when I read this, Subhash just 
could not sympathise with him. He was wont to say that 
Panditji felt like an alien in India because his subcons- 
cious had been strewn early with the seeds of Rational 
Materialism of Europe and Godless Communism of 
Russia. And he added feelingly that though he could 
love all countries and admire the good things of all cul- 
tures, he could feel at home only in India. “And so,” 
he said challengingly, “while Jawaharlal can take his 
orders from abroad, I can not dream of adopting any 
philosophy of life imported from the West, still less ac- 
cept that the sick and maimed in India should be made 



whole by high-sounding nostrums of the Russian dicta- 

Such a difference in total outlook could be attribut- 
ed only to a fundamental incompatibility whose roots can 
never be discovered in what we commonly call our sur- 
face personality or visible temperament. That is why I 
have set it down to what, in default of a better name, I 
have labelled “instinctive disaccord.” In this context, 
however, I have used the word instinct in the sense 
which is connoted by our incomparably more pregnant 
word samskara which, with all its mystic wealth of impli- 
cations and suggestiveness, is untranslatable in any 
European language. A conversation I had with Subhash 
in 1939 may, perhaps, better elucidate the mystery. 


It was in Calcutta. We were reclining after our mid- 
day meal, nestling in a profusion of pillows and bolsters. 
We talked of one thing and another till I said with an 
air of casualness that Jawaharlal was a fascinating per- 

Subhash appraised me. 

“You remember how deliciously Sarat Babu used to 
say, ‘I am not quite the fool I look’?” 

“What on earth are you insinuating?” I packed all 
the innocence I could summon into my voice. 

He met me with his heart-warming laughter. “We 
don’t consult a dictionary when we already know the 
meaning of a word like fascinating.” 

“But when I said Jawaharlal was fascinating,” I re- 
plied, “it was merely a leading note to a word beyond 
all dictionaries. Only you never gave me the chance to 


say that if he is fascinating you are irresistible!” 

T only got a fisticuff for my pains. 

“O horror! And you say that I lie like a horn bungler 
when you do it like a veritable bigamist? But no, Spare 
yourself another Prevarication, for,’’ and his face instant- 
ly changed, “Ill play into your hands with eyes open.” 

“Which means?” 

“Tell you plump my opinion of Jawaharlal.” 

My heart beat nineteen to the dozen. “Oh, do! I 
am. agog!” 

But there again he had suddenly relapsed into a 
brown study as was his wont whenever he had something 
significant to say. There was that old far-away look in 
his eyes too, once more. I felt a malaise gnawing with- 
in me, or, shall I say, a nameless fear. Was he going to 
blurt out something unacceptable to me? Wouldn’t it be 
rather embarrassing if he went too far? For I could not 
but own to myself that I had found Jawaharlal more than 
“fascinating.” And then, didn’t I owe him a deep debt 
for having rescued me in a most awkward situation? I 
saw again in my mind’s eye another episode. 


It happened, in 1922 (or was it in 1923), at Subash’s 
house under the aegis of his guru C.R, Das. I had been 
invited to sing before a galaxy of political leaders who 
deigned for onee to be entertained. Here was God’s 
plenty. There was the leonine Das, strong and massive, 
radiating strength and kindliness. There was Jawaharlal 
with his Hamlet smile. There was Sarat Chandra Bose 
a pillar of moral support to wherever morality rocked 
on its foundations. There were a few turbaned Olym- 



pians who condescended to smile at me deeply conscious 
that it was-so good of them to find music “interesting.” 
Noblesse oblige was their motto! There was Surendra- 
mohan Ghosh with the inscrutable Mona Lisa smile flic- 
kering on his lips, unafraid and ready to be interned once 
again where there is neither laughter nor marriage: the 
jail. There was a doughty Pathan, a born fire-eater and 
smileless critic of the frivolous who swore by Croce’s 
ringing battle-cry: “It is just opposition that rejuvenates.” 
And there in one corner chuckled the shy T.C. Goswami, 
a rich aristocrat with a velvet heart and Oxford accent 
who was going soon to prove an all-too-willing victim 
for every opportunist vulture round the corner. There 
were also the lesser fry, giants with puggrees or topees, 
dwarfs with bald heads or top-knots, and non-co-opera- 
tors nodding assent in Gandhi caps and co-operators tos- 
sing defiance in Turkish fez. It was, indeed, an awe- 
inspiring and, withal, an impossible motley company that 
assembled to save an ancient country with a modern 
motto: “We shall all hang together or, assuredly, we 
shall all hang separately.” 

I was thrilled! Was I, a thing of earth, going to sing 
to such a starry consistory? 

“Silence please!” roared the stentorian Das. “Dilip 
is going to give us a famous martial song composed by 
his father Dwijendralal Roy: dhao dhao samarakshetre.” 

I give below a literal translation of the song in the 
same metre and rhyme-scheme: 

Onward, onward, all to the front with vibrant 
songs of victory! 

Mother India calls to strafe the myrmidous 
of tyranny. 



Who would hesitate his life to give for his 
mother, sister and wife? 
Brothers, to arms! Repel the foe: the drums 
boom, hark, and bugles blow! 
Answer we must Her ringing call: hail, 
Mother mine! our All-in-all! 
Who would laze or loll when vandals desecrate 
our hearth and home? 
Who dare dally in his Motherland’s hour of 
peril? Comrades, come! 
Shall our swords stay sheathed? Awake! 
Assault! Her honour ig at stake! 
Brothers, to arms! Repel the foe: the drums 
boom, hark, and bugles blow! 
Answer we must Her ringing call: hail, 
7 Mother mine! our All-in-all! 
None shall now yield ground or falter, none 
the enemy’s prisoner be. 
Adverse Fate we will not fear, nor parley 
with iniquity. 
Shall brute power subdue our soul? Nay, 
we're vowed to attain or fall. 
Brothers, to arms! Repeal the foe: the drums 
boom, hark, and bugles blow! 
Answer we must Her ringing call: hail, 
Mother mine! our All-in-all! 
Onward, onward, all to the front 
to annihilate the phalanxed hordes! 
‘How can India, the hallowed haunt of Light, 
brook Night’s dictator lords? 
Expiate they shall, by God 

Parra, Ay Pee, Cae ee 

age Sy Se Mages ae 


Brothers, to arms! Repel the foe: the drums 
boom, hark, and bugles blow! 
Answer we must Her ringing call: 
hail, Mother mine! our All-in-all! 

I had a habit, when Subhash was present, to shoot, 
while singing, eager, furtive glances at his face. I knew 
this was a wrong impulse, but I could never resist the 
temptation to assess the effect my music was having on 

I have hinted already how deeply Subhash used to 
be moved+by music but it is impossible to depict how I 
was affected myself every time I felt that my music had 
stirred him. So I might have only said that I was on dizzy 
heights of rapture, and left it at that, had not my world of 
bliss, alas, burst like an irised bubble. For it so happened 
that just when I was soaring in the Empyrean I found 
my wings suddenly clipped: I was met by a hum of 
voices—the great fire-brands were talking—and anima- 
tedly! Stung to the core, I stopped dead, leaving the last 
verse unsung. 

“I am sorry, Dilip,’ apologised Subhash in a low 
voice, drawing close to me. I shot a glance at him. His 
face was tender with pain. “I exposed you to this,” he 
wailed. “I ought to have known better,” 

Suddenly we were all startled: a clear, incisive voice 
rang out. 

“Gentlemen,” thundered Panditji, “if you don’t care 
for music, have some consideration at least for those who 
do care.” 

There was a startled hush: the situation was saved 

ae og ° ae 


Since that day I have loved Panditji with a sense of 
gratefulness that time could never completely erase. And, 
so far as I myself was concerned, it was surely a case of 
love at first sight. Of course I knew full well that he 
could never really care for a man like me who disliked the 
pretensions of science and apotheosised religion which he 
so often condemned as medieval; but this had never made 
any difference to my admiration for him, And yet I 
wonder if I would have felt so attracted to him, however 
noble his character, had it not been for my startled 
awareness on that fateful night of humiliation when he 
had gone out of his way to come to my rescue notwith- 
standing his lack of interest in me. Time has only 
deepened my regard and solicitude for him in a steady 
crescendo till it culminated in 1936 in a profound sym- 
pathy for his loneliness and honesty. His Autobio- 
graphy had stirred me as few books have in my life. 
Realising, however, that he had had no experience of real 
peace I had asked Sri Aurobindo whether he would sup- 
port my praying for him. He had replied: “Pray for him 
of course. He is a man with a strong psychic element 
and in this life or another that must go beyond the mind 
to find its source.” 


So I started praying for him. It so happened that 
just about this time one Princess V, derelict with a be- 
reavement, wrote to me. I put her in touch with Guru- 
dev and started praying for her as well even though my 
sceptical mind had yet to be fully convinced of the eff- 


presented through the correspondence that follows. I 
wrote on 7-10-1936: 

Guru, on the evening when I prayed rather 
warmly for Jawaharlal and Princess V, why did the 
latter have this vivid experience at that identical 
hour? For, she writes from Bangalore, she actually 
visualised me in meditation after which her eager- 
ness to visit Pondicherry made her quite restless 
again. And she got peace, she assures me—so much 
so that she thanks me for having helped her through. 
my prayer. But Jawaharlal, I am fairly certain, never 
felt it.. My question: why on earth do some prayers 
act in this vivid way on some, where other stay put 
where they are? 

Wrote Sri Aurobindo: 

Dilip, as for Princess V’s experience it is quite 
natural since you see from her own statement that 
she has always had a natural tendency to go beyond 
the physical into supra-physical experience. That is 
what she means by ‘having imaginations.’ When one 
is living in the physical mind, the only way to escape 
from it is imagination (incidentally, that is why 
poetry and art etc. have so strong a hold); but these 
imaginations are really shadows of supra-physical ex- 
perience and once the barrier of the physical mind 
is broken or even swung a little open, there come 
the experiences themselves if the temperament is 
favourable. Hence visions etcetera—all that are mis- 
ealled psychic phenomena. 

As for prayer, no hard and fast rule can be laid 

Fo NEN 0 PAPER DORE CRNA Me ee EY | ee ee, 2 



Krishna Kumar Mitra (editor of the daily paper 

Sanjivani, not by any means a romantic, oceult, 

supra-physical or even imaginative person), was 

abandoned by the doctors after using every resource, 
all medicines stopped, as useless. The father said: 

‘There is only God now, let us pray.’ He did and 

from that moment the girl began to recover—typhoid 

fever and all its symptoms fled, death also. I know 
of any number of cases like that. Well? You may 
ask why should not then all prayers be answered? 

But why should they be? It is not a machinery: put 

a prayer in the slot and get your asking. Besides, 

considering all the contradictory things mankind is 

praying for at the same moment, wouldn’t God be 
in’a rather awkward hole if He had to grant all of 

Oscar Wilde was hardly right when he said that the 
best way of resisting a temptation is to yield to it. The 
truth lies the other way about: the insatiable fire of temp- 
tation grows by what it feeds on. So I feel now an 
irresistible impulse to complete the picture by quoting a 
little more from the correspondence that had passed 
between me and Sri Aurobindo—in September, 1936, to 
be precise. 


I wrote: 

Guru, I have of late been engrossed in Jawahar- 
lal’s Autobiography. It is, indeed, a moving book. 
And one of the things that have impressed me most 
is his power of loyalty. It has made me re-view him 

in a new licht ar echall T onc £0... . 1.2... 4 Oe 


vision. For I remember how often in the past we 
used to criticise him—Subhash and I—because his 
personal devotion to Mahatma Gandhi should have so 
effectively cured him of his devotion to his own ideals, 
Subhash used to argue—and I half agreed—that 
one’s duty to a personality should never take’ prece- 
dence over one’s duty to the Impersonal whatever 
that may mean. But, as days go by, I catch myself 
wondering whether the impersonal aspect of the 
Divine must necessarily stand for deeper values? In 
the Bhagavat the Godheads are described as envious 
of humans because these were blessed play-mates on 
earth with Krishna, the Purushottama, Wasn't that 
why Vivekananda upraided Nivedita: ‘You do not 
yet understand India. We, Indians, are Man-wor- 
shippers after all. Our God is Man....You may al- 
ways say that the Image is God. The error you have 
to avoid is to think God is the Image.’* The repri- 
mand overawed me. At all events, Jawaharlal’s con- 
fessions made me feel that his way of reaching for 
Truth has a curious kinship with ours, being a sort 
of Guruvad in politics, why not?—-Wouldn’t he be 
aghast though were he to overhear this? 

Sri Aurobindo wrote back: 

That is all right. As for the question of per- 
sonality there is always the personal and the im- 
personal side of the Divine and the Truth and it is 
a mistake to think that the impersonal alone is true 
or important, for that leads to a void, incomplete- 
ness in part of the being while only one side is given 
satisfaction. Impersonality belongs to the intellec- 



tual mind and the static self, personality to the soul 
and heart and dynamic being. Those who dis- 
regard the Personal Divine ignore something which 
is profound and essential. 

I wrote again: 

Guru, I have just finished reading Jawaharlal’s 
Autobiography. The result: I can’t meditate—in fact 
I haven’t been able to meditate much during a whole 
week: the book has gripped me. But he is so Eng- 
lish in his outlook, isn’t he? Not only in his habits 
of living (we are, all of us, more or less westernised 
for that matter), but, what is more important, in his 
way of thinking and feeling after Truth if you know 
what I mean? In case you don’t, here is a citation 
from the last chapter, titled Epilogue: 

Indeed, I often wonder if I represent any- 
one at all, and I am inclined to think that I do 
not, though many have kindly and friendly feel- 
ings towards me. I have become a queer mix- 
ture of the East and West, out of place every- 
where, at home nowhere. Perhaps my thoughts 
and approach to life are more akin to what is 
called Western than Eastern, but India clings to 
me, as she does to all her children in innumera- 
ble ways; and behind me lie, somewhere in the 
subconscious, racial memories of a hundred, or 
whatever the number may be, generations of 
Brahmans. I cannot get rid of either that past 
inheritance or my recent acquisitions. They are 

both part of me, and, though they help me in 
i ee: a SS, SR EAR: CPP. SRPe I sane e  aeme eoae d an Me 


me a feeling of spiritual loneliness not only in 

public activities but in life itself. I am a stran- 

ger and alien in the West. I cannot be of it. 

But in my own country also, sometimes, I have 

an exile’s feeling. 

Isn’t it beautiful and moving? None the less, 
I wish he could have delved a little deeper if only 
to discover what is this India that ‘clings to her 
children in innumerable ways’: the India of millennial 
wisdom, the India rich with the fadeless Lotus of the 
Spirit, the India—and only India—which has fashion- 
ed in her mystic womb ‘children of Immortality’— 
amritasya putrah—and continued to live on through 
long dynasties of true Kings among men. Forgive 
me, Guru, for thrusting my sorrow on you, but J 
have loved this beautiful soul too genuinely—at long 
range though it be—to resist this urge risen in me, 
to ask you to help him, as you once helped Subhash, 
with your blessing. And it is peace I would like 
you to give him first. For, on his own showing, he 
has had no taste of peace; I do not have in mind here 
the highest Peace, the Yogic Peace of God and Bliss 
and Love which you wrote about’ in 1932* when I 

* “T will begin not with Doubt,” Sri Aurobindo wrote to me 
(25-7-1982), “but with the demand for the Divine as a concrete cer- 
titude, quite as concrete as any physical phenomenon caught by 
the senses. Now, certainly, the Divine must be such a certitude 
not only as concrete as but more concrete than anything sensed 
by the ear or eye or touch in the world of matter; but it is certi- 
tude not of mental thought but of essential experience. When the 
peace of God descends on you, when the Divine Presence is there 
within you, when the Ananda rushes on you like a sea, when you 
are driven like a leaf before the wind by the breath of the Divine 
Force, when Love flows out from you on ail creation, when Divine 
Knowledge floods you with a Light which ith i and trans- 

a a gg ed 


doubted whether they could be as concrete as se! 
Sory perceptions. No, for of course the great Peac 
that fulfils cannot be given: one has to win it, to gro 
into it just as the chick within its shell has to gro’ 
till it breaks out into life outside the shell, But surel 
Jawaharlal may hope for some presage of its bount 
because he merits it far more than many another wh 
got it through your touch. Somewhere he writes hov 
before an image of the Buddha he had a deep nostz 
glia for the peace* which could transfigure a huma 
face so marvellously. That Subhash has had hint 
of this peace, I know, though it was only in jail tha 
he could hold on to it: as soon as he came out h 
lost it again. But let me finish first what I have be 

Referring to Gandhiji’s withdrawal of the Civi 
Disobedience movement in 1935 for what seemed +: 
him ‘metaphysical and mystical reasons’ in whicl 
he ‘was not interested’, Jawaharlal writes: in hi: 
chapter titled Desolation: 

‘With a stab of pain I felt that the chords o' 
allegiance that had bound me to him for many 
years had snapped... I realised that I held cleat 
and definite views about many matters, which 
were opposed to his. And yet in the past I had 
tried to subordinate them, as far as I could, tc 

then you can much less doubt it or deny it than you can deny or 
doubt daylight or air or the sun in heaven—for of these physical 
things you cannot be sure that they are what your senses re- 
present them to be; but in the concrete experience of the Divine, 
doubt is impossible.” 

* Years later he wrote to me in a lovely letter: “When, if 
ever, I shall achieve any real peace I do not know. My way is 

es Pane af TGA oe 


what I conceived to be the larger loyalty—the 
cause of national freedom for which the Congress 
seemed to be working. I tried to be loyal and 
faithful to my leader and my colleagues, for in 
my spiritual make-up loyalty to a cause and to 
one’s colleagues holds a high place. I fought 

many a battle within myself when I felt that I 

was being dragged away from the anchor of my 

spiritual faith. Somehow I managed to compro- 
mise. Perhaps I did wrong, for it can never be 
right for any one to let go of that anchor. But 
in the conflict of ideals I clung to my loyalty to 
my colleagues, and hoped that the rush of events 
and the development of our struggle might dis- 
solve the difficulties that troubled me and bring 
my colleagues nearer to my view-point. 

‘And now? Suddenly I felt very lonely in 

that cell of Alipore Gaol. Life seemed to be a 

dreary affair, a very wilderness of desolation, Of 

the many hard lessons I had learnt, the hardest 
and the most painful now faced me: that it is not 
possible in any vital matter to rely on any one. 

One must journey through life alone; to rely on 

others is to invite heart-break.’ 

I was so affected, Guru, that I felt like asking - 
him to come and stay with me for a few weeks in 
my peaceful flat here overlooking the sea. But if 
even Subhash didn’t comply it is unlikely that Jawa- 
harlal would. Besides as Vyas says in the Maha- 
bharata: Kalena sarvam vihitam vidhatra—the Divine 
withholds everything till the hour is ripe. And the 
right hour may strike sooner through disillusion- 



bition and need to act in the vital, in the mind, a 
mental idealism—these two things are the great fos- 
terers of illusion. The spiritual path needs a certain 
amount of realism: one has to see the real value of 
the things that are, which is very little except as steps 
in evolution.’ So I had better leave Jawaharlal to 
his mind’s approved way of proceeding “to meet his 
destiny by the roads one takes to avoid it,’* and pay 
more heed to ours approved by faith and fostered 
by worship. 

But I long to have your opinion on his reading 
of religion. Please read first his chapter entitled, 
What is Religion, and then Desolation, where his ‘ac- 
cumulated irritation turned to challenge religion 
and the religious outlook.’ And note how he sums 

‘What an enemy this (religion) was to clear- 
ness of thought and fixity of purpose, I thought: 
for was it not based on emotion and passion? 
Presuming to be spiritual, how far removed it 
was from real spirituality and things of the spirit! 
Thinking in terms of some other world, it had 
little conception of human values and social jus- 
tice. With its preconceived notions it delibera- 
tely shuts its eyes to reality for fear that this 
might not fit in with them.... It condemned the 
violence of the sword, but what of the violence 
that comes quietly and often in peaceful garb and 

* Pandit Jawaharlal writes at the end of his chapter entitled 

“Struggle”: “Only life itself with its bitter lessons force us along 
new paths and ultimately, which is far harder, makes us think 
differently. Perhaps we may help a little in this process. And 
perhaps : 

On recontre sa destinée 
Le ee ee PO ee Oe eh, ene eee. ir 


starves and kills; or worse still, without doing 
any outward physical injury, outrages the spirit 
and breaks the heart.... O Lord of thunder and 
confusion, since when did you abdicate your king- 
dom of cloudland in favour of the mental whirl- 
pools of irritated humanity?’ 

Apropos, Guru, please suffer me to tell you 
about a curious vision I saw just as I was marvelling 
at the wealth of invectives turned to account by our 
noble Judge to convict poor Dame Religion, more 
sinned against than sinning. 


The Court-room is seething with humanity, a motley 
crowd, over-eager to attend the trial of Miss Art who sits 
somewhat demurely in the dock. Mr. Morality, the Pub- 
lic Prosecutor, glowers at her with offended dignity. On 
the dais is seated the Chief Justice, flanked by Jurymen, 
all staring, intrigued, at the accused in sepulchral silence. 

MR. MORALITY (ruthlessly): Your Lordship! This 
shameless and dangerous slut must be forthwith put out 
of harm’s way. : 

CHIEF JUSTICE (sternly): No un-Parliamentary 
language, if you please! Remember, till she is proved 
guilty she must be looked upon as pure white like driven 
snow. Now what are the charges against her? 

MR. MORALITY (joyously): They are legion, your 

CHIEF JUSTICE (severely): To the point, if you 

i ee, Te 


MR. MORALITY (bowing): I stand rebuked, your 
Lordship. I'll drive straight to. the target... Well, she 
is er. (counting on his fingers) an enemy, by nature 
and temperament, to ordered living. That’s charge num- 
ber one. Number (with a lift in his voice) two: she un- 
settles all fixity of purpose, despising as she does middle 
class tidiness and respectability. She pooh-poohs the dis- 
ciplining of the senses, that’s number——er (bends 
down to his junior) four, your Lordship. Then number 
five: (impressively) her mind being naturally at home 
only in the world of nebula and make-believe which she 
dubs “Beauty”? with a capital B, and Elusive with a big 
E again—er (pauses and frowns) I was going to say: this 
fantastic thing Beauty has made her throw to the four 
winds all sense of proportion and decency—only—the 
trouble or rather the danger is that whosoever once breaks 
bread with her, your Lordship, starts raving as sense- 
lessly. (His voice quavers) That’s why I say, she is more 
than wicked: she’s a sinister corrupter of morality and 
she knows it. She also reverses the values—for she 
would paint a debauchee into an angel without the least 
shame or compunction and, naturally, a devil deified be- 
comes even more interesting than a Divine scoffed at. 

CHIEF JUSTICE (covering the ears): O blasephemy » 
—stop it. (Murmur among the Jury, because the Public 
is manifestly tickled). 

MR. MORALITY (undaunted): That’s just what I 
and I alone am here for, your Lordship to stop it once and 
for all! (He enjoys his own joke and chuckles but turns 
sombre as the Judge gives him a stare) And remember, 
your Lordship, that this is by no means the most hair- 
raising of her iniquities. (Carried away). For with her 


topsyturvy conception of right and wrong, she claims she 
has no earthly use for morality in her precious art— 

Art with a big A again, your Lordship—there’s only good 
* art and bad art and sensitiveness to Beauty, she avers. 
Consequently she pretends—er—I mean she is so degene- 
rate that she can’t even see that it isn’t good art or sen- 
sitiveness to beauty that keeps society going, but (warm- 
ing up) give me right conduct, ordered living, moral sense. 
(Lively murmur of satisfaction among the Jury; the Pub- 
lic looks glum). So (clearing his throat, emphatically), 
my charge is—is it number eight or nine?—it makes no 
matter—what I mean is (thumping the table in front) 
that, lost to all sense of shame, the wretched wanton tire- 
lessly holds up to ridicule codes of universal decency be- 
cause these are man-made, she says, and therefore she 
can have no truck with these. And why? (He shakes his 
fist at her) Because she stands for Inspiration and not 
convention, that’s her jargon, my Lord, confound her im- 
pudence! (Turning to the Jury among whom a few smile 
inadvertently), But gentlemen of the Jury! It’s no 
laughing matter I can assure you! For the deplorable 
fact is that she has a following of sorts and somehow al- 
ways succeeds in encouraging the youth to laugh at what 
should have brought tears to their eyes. (The Jury look 
at one another uneasily). But she hasn’t had the last 
laugh yet, your Lordship—not by a long shot! Because 
she is (he smiles) even more ridiculous herself than mora- 
lity—I mean—since morality is at least consistent, but 
she is damned inconsistent (A titter is heard among the 
women, the Chief Justice smiling perfunctorily). Here’s 
an instance. She lampoons our good old citizen, Mr. Pub- 
lic Censor, whose hoary beard has all but covered his 
eyes, she says. (The Public Censor coughs in embarrass- 


ment as the titter grows more audible and the Policeme: 
feel restive). That is why, she argues, he has grown blin« 
as a hirsute puppy. (The Chief Justice tries in vain no 
to smile). But, to be serious once more, my Lord, wha 
I mean is, she condemns this venerable keeper of ou 
conscience as an upholder of violence and she calls hin 
barbarous (the Censor fidgets) since he bans by brut 
force what she is pleased to call things of beauty. (Hi 
pauses for breath), But what of the terrible force sh 
exercises—a force almost hypnotic I should say, since i 
works subterraneously through unholy — suggestions 
What, for instance, of the fascinating power of a beauti 
ful nude or of a lovely fille de joie who talks lightly o 
chastity? How long can the high pillars of our whit 
respectability be kept perpendicular if such dark sub 
versive forces are unleashed or even permitted on th 
specious plea that art and beauty has nothing to do witl 
morality? (His voice quavers) Gentlemen of the Jury 
I adjure you to remember that Christ enjoined: not t 
judge by appearances. So let us not be swayed by pity 
or moved by —er—(embarrassed) by the feminine allure 
of this virgin of easy virtue. Beware! For take it fron 
me—she is quick in the uptake and can employ her sirer 
charm like—er—a siren, if you know what I mean. She 
knows how to sigh beautifully like un étre mal compris 
and can at will impose upon you all by—er—appearing 
flower-like and pure and guileless like—er—like Madame 
Eve before she had eaten the proverbial apple.... But 
remember: social security is a serious thing, morality is 
a serious thing, and last, though not least—(sententiously 
respectability is a serious thing—in fact, the most seriou: 
thing, I should say, because if its apple-cart were upset 


to its very foundations and we must revert to a barba- 
rism worse than cannibalism. (He thumps the table as 
his peroration comes to an end: great commotion in the 
’ Court-room). 

POLICEMEN: Silence! (The hum dies down). 

CHIEF JUSTICE: Hm, (Turning to Miss Art) Well, 
Miss! (With impeccable courtesy) Where is your Coun- 

MISS ART: I can’t afford one, your Lordship. 

CHIEF JUSTICE (Somewhat embarrassed): I see 
—nay, I—I am damned ifI do. (With decision) But that 
is neither here nor there. The point is—well, er—have 
you got anything to say, in self-defence? (Pause) Why 
are you silent? (Pause again) You can defend yourself, 
you know—that is, if you care to..... (Impatiently) Am 
I to take it then that you plead guilty? 

MISS ART: You may, my Lord! Only—(she sighs 
beautifully and lowers her head). 

CHIEF JUSTICE (patronisingly): Come, come, 
Woman! We are here to administer justice—but fairly 
on the evidence. For (grandiloquently) this high Tri- 
bunal of Common Sense is as faultlessly perfect and per- 
fectly flawless as the White man’s sense of fairplay 
when he is out to civilise the coloured races. 

MISS ART (taking heart): I will say this, my Lord, 
that Mr, Morality has, indeed, judged me to perfection; 
Only—(appraising the Pontiff with a fixed stare) only, 
my Lord, he knows me as little as a husband knows a 
loveless wife by whom he has had a dozen children and 
yet remains fundamentally a stranger to her, because she 
has only opened her virgin body to him, but not her soul, 
But suppose, your Lordship, the unhappy woman were 

* hauled up here like me today: what evidence could she 



adduce to prove to the Court that her husband of mora- 
lity Has -had-no admission into what is the quintessence 
of her being? But he would be able to prove to the hilt, 
mind you, that he knew her intimately because he would 
be able to describe to the minutest detail even the hidden 
parts of her body which you and the Jury might verify 
to your complete satisfaction. 

(Chorus of scandalised protests from the Judge and 
Jury, titter of laughter among the Public). 

MR. MORALITY (sarcastically): Wasn’t I right 
your Lordship? 

CHIEF JUSTICE (indignantly): But this is shocking, 
to say the least! (Turning to the accused) Look here, 
woman! Your language and taste—er—well, the less said 
about them the better. (To the Jury) You have ail heard 
what she said. Now, tell me your verdict. 

THE JURY ‘with one voice): Guilty, your Lord- 

CHIEF JUSTICE (nodding, gravely): I endorse your 
unanimous verdict. (Turning again to the accused): I 
condemn you unhesitatingly as a born corrupter of pub- 
lic morality and weal and sentence you to be hanged by 
the neck till you are dead. 

The vision ended at this moment just when Miss Art 
was metamorphosed into Miss Religion, Mr. Morality in- 
to Mr. Rationalist and the Jury into Messrs. Politicians 
and Scientists. I do not know what happened afterwards. 
I believe she was duly hanged: what I doubt is whether 
the rope held till life was extinct. 

* * = 

Wrote Sri Aurobindo in reply: 

Dilip, I do not-take the same view of religion as 

a pe See a Re 


is a mixture of man’s spirituality with his endeavours 
that come in trying to sublimate ignorantly his lower 
nature. Hindu religion appears to me as a cathedral- 
temple half in ruins, noble in the mass, often fantas- 
tic in detail but always fantastic with a significance 
—crumbled and badly outworn in places, but a cathe- 
dral-temple in which service is still done to the Un- 
seen and Its real presence can be felt by those 
who enter with the right spirit. The outer social 
structure which is built for its approach is another 


Such was the man about whom I approached Subhash 
for an opinion. I felt diffident, I repeat; for somehow or 
other I could not help some misgivings in discussing one 
whom I happened profoundly to admire—the more so as 
I was somewhat afraid lest my interlocutor should damp 
my ardour with his casual ways. But as I persuaded 
myself that it was no use meeting evil half way, I tried 
to quell with my robust optimism the lowering clouds of 

“Jawaharlal!” Subhash muttered, “It’s deuced diffi- 
cult, you know. I hardly know how to put it—my total 
reaction to him and all that he stands for!’’ 

My heart beat fast. 

“Difficult,” he reiterated, “because....his good for- 
tune, though enviable in a sense, is not yet fully com- 
prehensible to me.” : 

(I am not putting into his mouth what he didn’t 
mean or imply. Doubtless, I put it all in my own Jan- 



mind that I cannot possibly distort it, the less so as I 
admired Panditji as sincerely as I loved Subhash). 

“Good fortune, did you say?” I asked after a pause. 

“Let me explain,” he said, picking his words now 
with deliberation. “But don’t you butt in with your 
comments till I invite them. No offence, Dilip! Only 
you see, it’s difficult to say something and be quite sure 
it hasn’t conveyed just the opposite of one’s interior feel- 
ing about it.” 

“But what is all this, my dear Subhash?” I exclaimed. 
“Give me your hand. Why, for you to traffick in psycho- 
logical niceties!” 

Subhash gave me his old endearing laugh as he 
gave my hand his answering pressure. 

“The moralist can’t influence the artist without be- 
ing himself a little influenced on the rebound,” he said 
breezily. “The eater himself is eaten, you know, as our 
Vedas say.” Then, in a more sober key: “Yes, The hard 
school of life has taught me one thing at any rate: that 
the right idiom is even more rewarding than it sounds. 
But listen now, and with total attention, if you please!” 

“Of course it goes without saying,” he went on, as 
his face suddenly became grave (his expression needed 
no gradual transition, like ours, his cheery tone no cad- 
ence to pass on from one phase to the next), “that a man 
who has attained the eminence Jawaharlal has cannot 
have been made of the common stuff, let there be no mis- 
take about that. None can possibly doubt that he has a 
rare intellect, perspicacity, penmanship et cetera—I need 
hardly carry coals to Newcastle making a list of his mani- 
fold gifts to you, a born hero-worshipper.” a 

“Now, now, Subhash,” I cut in, “it is hardly fair toi 
give a dog a bad name when one has already decided to 


inspiring about the spirit of youth which urges one to 
stake all one has for complete independence. No, I am 
not hard on him,” he anticipated me. “For he does give 
one the impression of an outsider—or shall I say an offi- . 
cial observer—when he airs his views on the disservice 
religion has done to mankind. And that is why he has 
never said anything profound about it. His strictures and 
diatribes are not inspired by &ny kernel experience of 
religion; they are based only on the observation of its 
social effects which are peripheral.” 

“You are, indeed, coruscating, Subhash!” I said. “For 
though religious experience has influenced society—be- 
cause any experience of a man living in society is bound 
to influence it for good or for evil—yet religion in its 
essence is not a social phenomenon. Pandit Jawaharlal 
doesn’t understand this simple fact because, as you say, 
he hasn’t yet got to the kernel of religion. But that is 
precisely why I dubbed his inveighings against religion 
‘disquieting,’ because few people realise that a man’s 
winning to eminence in one sphere doesn’t necessarily 
make him into an authority on all subjects under the 
sun, as Tyndal put it so lucidly in his famous Belfast 

“But why disquieting, Dilip?” He shook his head. 
“You, as a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, must realise that 
his evidence and verdict in favour of religion can well 
afford to smile at the superficial criticisms of a regiment 
of outsiders and ignorants. No! Jawaharlal may make © 
an impression, I admit, but not in a domain for which he 
hasn’t been able to secure a passport yet.” 

“For what domain then do you think he has secured. 
one?” : Q 

“Why, in politics, social organisation, in his ideas of 


loyalty, his outlook on ethics, pragmatism—and what not. 

And when he airs his views about such- topics he is always 

worth listening to, whether you agree with him or no. 
' Besides, he is a charming man, as you say, even though 
a man can’t become a leader of the people on the strength 
of his personal charm alone—no, don’t, for I haven't 
finished yet. I am far from insinuating that he has no 
other equipment. But, &s I told you just now, I have 
often felt that he has attained to his unique position be- 
cause, somehow, he has managed to get into the good 
graces of Madame Luck.” (Subhash used the word 
Bhagya Devi, which, like many another Sanskrit word, 
is untranslatable. Luck is too light a word, almost banal 
in its connotation while Bhagya has a rich association 
of dignity which accrues to eminence preordained by a 
Divine Decision of some sort.) 

“Luck?” I queried. 

“What other term can possibly explain his inexpli- 
cable popularity everywhere? He is with everyone. I 
would be tempted to say that he was a barer gharer mashi 
kaner gharer pishi*—if he hadn’t been what he is: an 
honest man. And can’t get away from the fact 
—a rather strange phenomenon in this unstable world of 
ours—that he is looked upon by almost everybody in 
India as an infallible and rock-firm guide on everything 
under the sun, even though, on his own showing, he vacil- 
lates at every step. All the same, you find, to your sur- 
prise, that the peasant hails him as his spokesman, 
labour as their protagonist (Trade Union Congress at 
Nagpur actually elected him as their President, with what 

* Literally: a maternal aunt of the bridegroom and, withal, 
- @ paternal aunt of the bride. It may be rendered into English by 
the adage, ‘runnjng with the hare and hunting with the hounds.’ 



disastrous consequence we all know*), the Communist 
patronises him, the Capitalist cottons to him, the artist 
hails him as a path-finder in belles lettres, the mill-owner 
gushes over him like a spinster, ignoring the disconcert- 
ing fact that he is actually spinning away without con- 
viction to shine as a worthy heir to Gandhiji and a senti- 
mental friend to the daridranarayana, a word he abhors.** 
In fact,” he added after a pause, “he is nothing if not a 
chameleon. When I once heckled him to lay his cards on 
the table he said he was temperamentally an individualist 

* “At the Nagpur Congress,” writes Jawaharlal in his Auto- 
biography, “this question of the boycott of the Whitley Commis- 
sion became a major issue.... and the left Wing triumphed. I 
played a very undistinguished role.... I avoided acting with any 
group and played the part more of an impartial spea than a 
directing President. I was thus an almost passive spectator of 
the breaking-up of the U.T.C.” (Chapter XXVII). 

I don’t think this would be true now though; for, fortunately, 
Panditji has, of late, taken good care to disown categorically the 
communist ways even if he still subscribes to the main gospel of 
socialism, And even in those days he seems to have entertained 
deep misgivings about Russia and all that she stands for: “I am 
very far from being a communist,” he writes in his Autobiography, 
“My roots are still perhaps partly in the nineteenth century. i 
bourgeois background follows me about and is naturally a source 
of irritation to many communists. I dislike dogmatism.... and the 
regimentation and heresy hunts which seem to be a feature of 
modern communism. I dislike also much that has happened in 
Russia, and especially the excessive use of violence in normal 
times.” (Chapter LXVII). 

** Jawaharlal writes in his Autobiography (page 192): “I had 
no desire to confine myself to khadi propaganda, which seemed to 
me a relatively minor activity in view of the developing political 
situation.” And writes elsewhere that he never liked the word 
daridranarayana (even though Gandhiji loved it) because the word 
in effect glorified poverty. But what the word really means is 
that the Divine exists in the poor also, not exclusively (as Jawa- 
harlal has taken it to mean for an incomprehensible reason) but 
ubiquitously. The point is to have the vision that does not miss 
the Divine in the lowest of the low—an attitude that can hardly 
be taken exception to even from the commonsense point of view. 
But then, as Subhash pointed out to me, when a man does not 
understand the essence of an experience he can hardly be ex- 
pected to understand its ideology or vocabulary. 


and intellectually a socialist! “Have you ever heard the 

“What you say, Subhash,” I said, “amounts, when 
boiled down, to this—(isn’t it?)—that he has more than 
one side to his nature. But I don’t see how that can be 
called a disqualification. For the fact that he is wooed 
by different organisations and various types of men is 
surely not anything essentially reprehensible. For in- 
stance, why should it have been wrong for him to preside 
at the T.U.C. at Nagpur? Because he could not prove 
helpful, that seems to be the trend of your argument. 
But at that rate you might also take him to task for 
hobnobbing with men of science who ask him so often to 
preside at their Science Congresses, For surely, there 
too, he has never yet proved himself to have been more 
than decoratively helpful. He complies because. ...he 
just loves to be obliging, that’s all.... Lastly, it is his 
admiration of Gandhiji which made him spin away per- 
functorily even when his heart was not in it. This, I 
admit, is a more serious charge. But then, Subhash, he 
has loved Gandhiji and you haven't. Not-love seldom 
understands love’s gambits and concessions. Take my 
own case. Sri Aurobindo is surely as far apart from Rus- 
sell as the heart’s worship is from mind’s carping. Never- 
theless I have experienced love for both for which both 
-Aurobindonians and Russellians call me names. But how 
could I help loving both, tell me that—since love is inde- 
pendent of the will?” 

“You are making a fundamental mistake, Dilip,” 
Subhash admonished. “In the world of theory and spe- 
culation and dream—that is, where action is not involved 
in the same sense as it hourly is in politics or statecraft 
—you may be perfectly free to follow your contradic- 


tory predilections. But when, for good or for evil, your 
action is going to sway vast masses and you do seek that 
influence as a political leader, then, I say, you can’t go 
on just indulging your divers whims with impunity. I 
know full well we are not always consistent nor even 
wish to be, but once one chooses to lead an activist life, 
one has to come to grips with one’s own self and decide 
to act at least with a plausible harmony if not flawless 
consistency. Otherwise it will be sheer chaos! Practical 
politics, my dear Dilip, is not quite a stage set for your 
delectable Art: nor is it a dream grove where dear cha- 
meleons are bred. If a politician changes his hue and 
persuasion every third day he will only make confusion 
worse confounded. You, as an artist, may be influenced 
by Russell and, withal, be readily subjugated by Sri Auro- 
bindo. Your personality may be enriched in the pro- 
cess; I don’t know if it always is, for I am ignorant of 
even the rudiments of your maya called Art with a capi- 
tal A. But this I know, that all politics that means busi- 
ness must demand of its adherents a mastery of war-cratt 
rather than art-craft. At any rate this is certain that 
what is play to the artist may well be death to the states- 
man. I shall give you an example and it did give me 
a rude shock, I can tell you. Listen, \ 
“You know very well that Jawaharlal and I are both 
supposed to be firebrands in that we have set our mini-. 
mum demand at complete independence. Mark the ad- 
jective ‘complete’. Now, recall what happened in the 
Lahore Congress in 1929, under the august presidentship 
of your multi-mooded hero. A joint resolution had been 
agreed upon among the leaders of all parties, offering ser- 
vile co-operation to the Viceroy’s pompous announcement 

“tie Pe a Vga « Reais eh ea ee N Ag RLM. at cami dee ths eR See: Sea a 


Congress had never been utider any illusions about the 
prospective farce—least of all Jawaharlal, for whatever 
may be his shortcomings, failure to see the broad trend 
-of things has never been one of them. You know, of 
course, what it came to finally: the shameful compromise 
which only let the Congress down to conciliate those we 
could well afford to ignore: the Moderates masquerad- 
ing as Liberals, whom Jawaharlal, by the way, so re- 
freshingly exposes in his Autobiography. We were to 
promulgate at the Lahore Congress that we were ready, 
even eager, to co-operate on the basis of Dominion Status. 
We were to throw overboard what Tilak had called his 
‘birthright’—and for what? Just a temporary tactical 
advantage of dubious value. I read somewhere about the 
chances of a half-blind idiot of spotting a black cat in a 
dark room on a moonless night. Our chances of getting 
some advantage through jettisoning our ideals seemed 
almost as bright, and Jawaharlal knew it full well, as he 
has confessed himself in his Autobiography, I refused 
to sign the disgraceful manifesto as he, too, had, at the 
start. But later he was ‘talked into signing’ what he had 
known and condemned as wrong and dangerous. You 
remember his incredible apology, don’t you?’* 

* To put Subhash’s case more clearly I give below what 
Jawaharlal himself has to say: “And yet that joint manifesto was 
a bitter pill for some of us. To give up the demand for independ- 
ence, even in theory and even for a short while, was wrong and 
dangerous; it meant that it was just a tactical affair, something to 
bargain with, not something which was essential and without 
which we could never be content. SoJ hesitated and refused to 
sign the menifesto (Subhash Bose had @efinitely refused to sign 
it), but, as was not unusual with me, I allowed myself to be talked 
‘into signing. Even so, I came away in great distress, and the very 
next day I thought of withdrawing from the Congress President- 
ship, and wrote accordingly to Gandhiji. I do not suppose J meant 
this seriously, though I was sufficiently upset. A soothing letter 
from Gandhiji and three days of reflection calmed me.” (Chapter 
XXXVI. Autobiography). 



“Softly, softly, Subhash dear,” I replied, albeit a 
little impressed now, in spite of myself; the fire of his 
speech was somewhat difficult to dismiss as mere heat 
since it did shed a deal of light as well. “You forget 

that I had never read his confessions from your angle, 

nor had I had your searchlight of the man on the spot. 
Unlike you, I had focussed my attention more on his per- 
sonality than on his official achievements and failures. 
What you say today has indeed, shaken me, somewhat. 
But I can’t for the life of me see Jawaharlal as I see ever 
so many among his associates: a shrewd temporiser-cum- 

“Neither do I,” Subhash acquiesced. “But that is 
Just why I must complain more bitterly against his do- 
xtile amorphousness, thus letting himself be moulded by 

Gandhiji and Company Limited into any shape and pat- 
tern they choose. You talked just now of his loving 
Gandhiji. I have no quarrel with him on that score, He 
may love him or adore him or genuflect to him to the 
top of his bent, that is none of my business. But surely, 
this continual boosting of personal loyalty which forces 
one again and again to cramp one’s style can’t be right, 
especially in politics. where such movements are so con- 
tagious. Why not take a leaf out of the book of Gandhiji 
himself? Didn’t he adore Gokhale? But whenever it 
came to the point, mind you, he took precious good care 
not to follow his idoly An artist may afford to be deco- 
rative, Dilip. He may even hug no end of endearing 
inconsistencies to cut a picturesque figure. But for a 
man of action, a statesman, an administrator and, above 
all, one who aspires to grow into a world-figure—it were 

NT Rae ee Ses LAC Las, a, See ae en eee cee 


“You have certainly set me thinking, Subhash,” I 
owned after a pause. “For I confess I never even thought 
of the possibility that Jawaharlal could be—well, what 
-you have made him out to be. But if I may still squeak 
a protest (é la Jawaharlal himself vis-a-vis Gandhiji), 
may I submit that when you are incorrigibly fair-minded 
you may indeed ridicule Sir Roger de Coverley’s dictum 
that ‘much can be said on both sides,’ but you must feel 
- nonetheless a sneaking sympathy for the man’s liberality. 
But perhaps this, too, you would laugh away as an artist’s 
ineurable penchant for making any. figure look convinc- 
. ing through the magic persuation of his art.” 

“T shouldn’t if I saw it in an artist, but only on one 
condition: that he would never toy with politics. For 
paradharma is nothing if not bhayavahah. If Jawahar- 
lal really cares to be scrupulously fair to all sides qua an 
artist, then, to prove a lighthouse of equity in this parti- 
san world he should leave politics alone and dedi- 
cate himself to art. Well, he has a remarkable capacity 

' for literature; why doesn’t he take to it as his 

“What is your answer to the poser?” 

Subhash laughed. 

“There you have me, Dilip. For he often appears to 
me as baffling as a sphinx. Take, for instance, his fum- 
ings against idolatry and yet look at his breath-taking 
capitulations to Gandhiji (though, of course, always un- 
der protest), possibly wanting to superimpose on us the 
* idolatry of Moscow! Wait—I havén’t finished yet.. I 

don’t really mean I can’t understand his idolatry of the 
Mahatma. I am not such a fool as I look—ha ha ha! 
For any fool can see that he idolises Moscow with his 
: brain and the Mahatma with his heart. Add: he pro- 



tests and changes his posture everytime without turning 
a hair, only to feel more complacent about it all. But 
after all, Dilip, when one has undertaken to lead peo- 
ple, one can’t just go on extolling anti-imperialism and 
non-violence in the same breath. One must take sides 
in the sphere of action, willy-nilly. No Dilip,” he added 
in a lower key: “You may admire Jawaharlal the admir- 
able and estimable to your heart’s content; but one thing 
I will beg leave to emphasise: if he really wants to serve 
India through politics he must first of all make sure of 
his foundations. For if he doesn’t take care to seek solid 
ground under his feet, the ground won’t be so obliging 
as to materialise under his feet either: ergo, he will never 
be able to stand perpendicular anywhere.” 


On Panditji, qua politician, I will not venture to com- 
ment, not only because it is not my métier to adjudicate 
‘on politics, but also, and chiefly, because I roundly agree 
with his sober view that those who do not put their 
shoulders to the wheel can render little service by con- 
stantly picking holes from the vantage ground of an easy 
chair. Subhash, as a colleague, had every right to cri- 
ticise him. But I myself (though I have a right of sorts 
since, willy-nilly, we are all intimately concerned with 
two major human activities: science and politics) have 
too genuine a respect for Panditji’s sincerity and recti- 
tude not to feel cons¢ience-stricken about criticising him 
harshly. My only regret is that he should have gone out 
of his way to condemn religion, especially after having 
had.truck with a religious luminary like Gandhiii as his 


pity because he suffered stolid rationalists with no ker- 
nel experience of religion to cajole him into apodeictic 
inconsistencies. This was borne home to me, rather 
through the light of contrast, thanks to the mystic and 
refreshing personality of Subhash who visited us like a 
mountain-whiff because he did have communion from 
time to time with the topless heights of the spirit. Pan- 
ditji, on the other hand, gave one the impression of an 
- honest and graceful passion-flower which blooms in a 
wilderness of inertia and iniquity, and the next moment 
of a petulant bud which disowns the sky as an alien 
and claims kinship with its parent wilderness which is 
humanity in politics. 

When, however, I essay thus to bring out Subhash 
through the helpful device of contrast, I do not at all 
imply that in actuality he always gave off the mystic 
scent. That is possible only with those whose persona- 
lity has achieved an ideal peak of consistency or, shall I 
say, psychic integration after an arduous uphill discip- 
line. For it is only then that the surface irrelevancies 
disappear so that the essence of the personality can cry- 
stallise on the summit into the harmonious nucleus over- 
laid by appearances. But till this summit achievement 
is reached man must stay put in the sad and inexplicable 
tangle of anomalies, and a tussle must go on in his lower 
nature. During this war period the deeper aspirations 
may often get the worst of it and the light and perfume 
of the higher nature remain imperceptible, precipitating 

‘only an impression of darkness and turbidity. And it 

is in such moments of deep dereliction, as Subhash often 
_Tealised in jail, that one could get the maximum help 
from Gurus, saints and seers. In the Bhagavata Sri 
- Krishna assures Uddhava: 


The sun to mortals gives their earthly eyes: 
Sages—the vision of Truth that cleaves the skies.* 

It is no mere poet’s fancy. Only, to win this boon 
of vision some conditions have to be fulfilled by the as- 
pirant. One of these is dinata, humility. Not for noth- 
ing did Christ say: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for 
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’’ (Panditji would prob- 
ably protest again in irritation that the religious spirit 
only damages the nature by putting a premium on lachry- 
mose self-abasement. That is why it is claimed in our 
Mahabharata that the arcana of true spirituality lies hid- 
den in the heart**—a truth Subhash could see at once 
in his hours of anguished aspiration but Panditji failed 
to glimpse because he wanted the vast truths buried in 
the cavern of the heart to be attested by little rushlights 
of the mind.) And not for nothing has it been laid down 
as one of the first tenets of Guruvad that the disciple 
must unquestioningly accept the Guru’s lead. For this 
alone can create the right mood in which the right vision 
can come to flower. 


In 1924, the Swaraj Party, under the aegis of C.R. 
Das, captured the Municipal Corporation of Calcutta. 
Subhash was appointed in April as its Chief Executive 
Officer, a role he filled with remarkable efficiency as well 
‘as distinction. Nevertheless he was arrested in October 
under Regulation III, better known as “the lawless law,” 

* Santo dishanti chakshumshi bahirarkah  samutthitah 
** Dharmasya tatthwam nihitam guhayam—guha means cave, 


because the person detained under this law may neither 
defend himself nor even know what he is accused of. 
Subhash was first taken to Alipore Central Jail, then 
on to Berhampore Jail whence he was transferred to 
Mandalay. There, gradually, his health gave way. 

I used to feel worried about disquieting rumours 
that reached us about his contracting some mysterious 
incurable disease. There was nothing I could do about 
it, but I kept on writing to him and mostly about 
the message of spirituality and my reactions to Yoga, 
because I thought it might help him in his lonely cell. 
He wrote back beautiful letters in reply in one of which 
he wrote (Appendix VIII): 

I subscribe to most of what you write about 

Sri Aurobindo if not to all. He is a dhyani—a com- 
templative, and I feel, goes even deeper than 
Vivekananda, though I have a profound reverence 
for the latter. So I agree with you when you say 
that one may from time to time—and, on occasion, 
for a long speli—need to remain withdrawn in silent 
contemplation in perfect seclusion. But here there 
is a danger: the active side of a man might get atro- 
phied if he remained cut off too long frem the tides 
of life and society... This need not apply to a hand- 
ful of authentic sadhaks of uncommon genius, but 
the common run, the majority, ought to take to action 
and service as the main plank of their sadhana. 

When I had first sought the comparative seclusion 
of an Ashram in 1929 I still held more or less the same 
views as he regarding seclusion and service to humanity. 
By and by, however, as my outlook began to change due 
to a new orientation, such worldly wisdom as expressed 
in the above letter appeared to me less and less sustain-. 


ing, and I felt more and more in line with Sri Ramakrish- 
na’s standpoint that one can act or serve humanity best 
only when one has received an injunction—adesh—from 
the Divine. Also, it was borne in upon me through vivid 
experience that without the Guru’s help and Grace the 
inner ear could never be sure of having heard the adesh 
correctly, thanks to the deep kinks of our ego. I wrote 
now and again to Subhash to this effect. He didn’t al- 
ways agree; but he was profiting nonetheless by his soli- 
tude in his cells in that his inwardness was unquestion- 
ably touching profundities it never had plumbed before, 
as shown in his letter written from the Madras Peniten- 

But, unlike Pandit Jawaharlal, his health always de- 
teriorated in detention. The ugly rumours about his 
malignant malady, which had been in the air for some 
time past, now crystallised into a public alarm: tubercu- 
losis! At once the Press raised a hue and cry: he had 
lost forty pounds in weight! Thereupon, the Home Mem- 
ber of the Government of Bengal intimated to him that 
he might proceed straight to Europe for treatment if he 
so wished—only he would not be allowed to visit Cal- 
cutta or any other Indian port. He declined indignantly. 

Just then C.R, Das died, suddenly, in May, 1925. 
Subhash was deeply cut up and wrote to me from Man- 
dalay (Appendix VI): 

You can imagine what dominates my thought 
to-day. I believe there is but one thought in all 
minds. now: the death of our great Deshbandhu. 
When I first read the news in print I could hardly 
credit my eyes. But, alas, the report is cruelly true! 
Ours is, indeed, an unfortunate nation. 


till, at last, he had to be released unconditionally in May 
1927 on medical grounds. 

In January, 1930 he was again sentenced for sedi- 
tion to nine months’ rigorous imprisonment. In August, 
the same year, he was elected Mayor of Calcutta, even 
though he was still in detention. Next month he was re- 
leased and in 1931 arrested once more under Regulation 
Til of 1818. Once again his health went to pieces till 
his condition became so alarming that the Goverhment, 
after a year’s detention, allowed him to proceed to Europe, 
for treatment. I had appealed to him to accept. He wrote 
back in 1933 that he had already deided to the same effect 
and added that he would like me to furnish him with 
a few letters of introduction to my friends in Europe. 
He regretted he had profited but little from his first trip 
to Europe which he would like to make good now. In his 
later twenties he often told us privately that he envied 
me and Rudra* our deeper understanding of the heart 
. of Europe whereupon we two used to retort that he might 
have achieved the same wisdom if only he hadn’t “(with 
such stubborn bravery) shied at the very shadow of 
woman. The shaft had possibly gone home. Im any case, 
' I was delighted and gave him a few letters among which ° 
there was one addressed to a very dear friend of mine, 
an opera-singer. She was a Hungarian by birth and had 
married a famous Austrian writer René Fiilép Miiller. I 
had been very happy as their guest in Vienna, first in 
1922 and next in 1927. 

A few years later, in 1937, Madame Miiller visited 
India and was our guest in our Ashram. Her singing 
made such a profound impression on my poet friend Chad- 

* The late Sudhir Kumar Rudra, who was then a professor in 
Allahabad University. 


wick that he wrote a lovely poem which I cannot resist 
the temptation of quoting: 


The air grows one with a voice; 
Some magical sway 
Has utterly changed the paltry hour 
To a strangeness which is yet our own true home. 
The calyx of the song no longer laps 
The slowly opening silence that is Light. 
Now the silence is a calm blue sky: 
Of whiteness, and they wing with a lovely motion 
Of a rapture unmingled and unmarred. 
O harmony of incorruptible form! 
Stay further—in the hour-glass every sand-grain 
If of gold—Time’s metronome 
Is changed to the subtlest weaving 
Of the Life Dance and the Hymn of Love. 

(Sri Aurobindo wrote to me on 24-2-1937: “She is, in- 
deed, what you described her to be” and then: “I have 
thought of the name ‘Nilima’ for Heddy as a symbol of 
her aspiration’). 


A few months later, Subhash wrote to me that Mrs. 
Miiller had been “an angel” to him in his illness. She 
also, in her turn, wrote to me enthusiastically that so 
many things about him were wunderbar and fablehaft 
(wonderful and fabulous) and she was deeply impressed 
by his Seelengrésze (greatness of soul), If only a few 

PRA a ERR, RRR A Se (nS wry 5 oe 4 oy 




she wrote, India would need no further propaganda. She 
gave a great reception to him and Udayshankar also 
about the same year, and sent me photographs of both 
of them. But with Subhash she was, naturally, more 
intimate. I mention this to underline the profound psy- 
chological change that had come over him in the course 
of a decade’s suffering in the hard school of life. He 
had come to realise that a stolid indifference to all that 
is best in the sex he fought shy of could be anything but 
rewarding. If I had ever been of any real help to him 
in his evolution I should have liked to think it were here 
in the world of art and bonhomie where the touch-me- 
not-ism of the puritan outlook on life is obsolete. But 
so long as one appraises one’s achievements through the 
convex lens of one’s egoism, wouldn’t it be rather risky 
as I often asked Subhash playfully—to assess the net 
value of one’s contribution in any field under the sun? 
I remember how appreciatively he was wont to laugh 
when I quoted Pope’s: 

To observations which ourselves we make 
We grow more partial for the observer’s sake! 

“But then,” he once demurred, “when the impossi- 
ble lens refuses to be scraped level, how would i cure 
this partiality?” 

In any event this was the lesson Subhash had been 
learning, willy-nilly, in the school of Frustration: I could 
almost sense it through his letters. Also Nilima (Heddy) 
used often to write to me from Vienna of this unpreten- 
tious character of her charge when she tended him in his 
sick-bed. I was indeed delighted and wrote to that effect 
to Sri Aurobindo, wanting him to work more on him 
for his spiritual transformation, though, I must confess,« 


"pA =, 

‘ my native scepticism croaked from time to time that 
Nilima’s report sounded a little too good to be lastingly 

But I refused to be forewarned. Wasn’t Nilima writ- 
ing to me enthusiastically about this trait of his char- 
acter? And she assured me that Subhash was not only 
niedrig (humble) like a Mystiker, but also unverfalscht 
(unspoilt) like a child. “For instance,” she added, “you 
Cannot imagine how overjoyed he is whenever you send 
him Sri Aurobindo’s holy flowers of benediction.” 

Such tidings naturally encouraged me greatly and 
I opened myself more and more to him till I came—alas, 

."a little prematurely—to persuade myself that he ‘was, 
indeed, one of our circle. The result was disastrous in 
that I, somewhat unwittingly, rubbed him the wrong way 
through my unwarranted over-confidence in his conver- 
sion. It happened like this: 

Elated with outside admiration and the sense of 
power returning, Subhash lost sight of a deep truth he 
had almost come to accept while in prison, nj gly, that 
such noise as we constantly made in off. pun! Worlds of 
egoistic make-believe and self-interest seldom precipitat- 
ed any solid good out from the turbid waters of life. So 
he once wrote off a letter to me, rather unceremoniously, 
that I had better come out of my seclusion now since it 
was ‘necessary’ to establish personal contacts such as he 
was doing in Europe—in order to be able to achieve any- 
thing that mattered. 

I was a little shocked at this all-too-sudden reversal 
of front on his part and wrote back somewhat assertively 
that I had long ceased to believe in action for action’s 
sake, especially in the field of politics. The only valu- 

bai Z . 

I added, was that till we humans changed a little, these 
contacts were unlikely to change things very much, Fur- 
thermore, I wrote, I had already had a plethora of “hu- 
“man” contacts and that was why I had turned finally to 
the Guru’s. I then gave him the last verse of my poem 
on Guruvad: 

The Guruvadi sings his hymn round you, O guru, 
seeing daily the shadow of the Impersonal in the 
mirror of your personality. 

He seeks to worship you again and again in the 
temple of his soul to fashion in himself ever more . 
faithfully the image of your perfection. 

He says not that the rainbow is the shadow-form 
of a moment, nor that all forms are undivine. 

He says not that all embodiments must needs be 
transient and chimerical because the incorporeal 
could never seek a finite mansion.* 

I dg not remember what else I wrote, but I am cer- 
tain thgt’ there was nothing in my letter that could be 
taken gs a-fling at him, personally. Naturally, I had to 
demur to his secular interpretation of the disinterested 
action" (nishkama karma) of the Gita, contending that the 
action approved of by the Gita had little in common with 
what is called ‘disinterested’ by persons interested only in 
the success of their activities. 

But alas, Subhash took it amiss. For he wrote back 
to me what was perhaps the most passionately expostu- 
lating letter he had ever penned with me for a target. 
Unfortunately, I have lost the letter but I remember 
very well its contents as here he hurt me for the first 

* This poem, with the original Bengali, was published in full 
tw. subsequently in mv hook entitled Anami and Ister in my novel 


and last time in his life. What he wrote amounted to 
this that he “despaired” of our country when “men of 
the calibre of Dilipkumar and Anilbaran” could plump 
for blind faith as against enlightened reason. How could 
one possibly invest a “human Guru with attributes that 
belonged only to Divinity?” His position was that faith 
lacked finality in that every “faithist” might concoct a 
credo utterly different from that of another, to be brand- 
ed as an “infidel”. Only reason could help people to 
grow into some sort of fertile harmony. The “incarnate 
Gods” who battened in India on the gullibility of the 
credulous had done untold harm and we, the vigilant, 
should know better in the twentieth century than to 
swell the ranks of such weak-kneed adherents, and so he 
went on and on in an access of exasperation. In a letter 
previous to this he had written that he failed to see how 
Sri Aurobindo’s great bani (dictum) that “Yoga must 
include life and not exclude it” could possibly square 
with the life of seclusion we were leading, I infer from 
all this that the dazzle of European activism had contri- 
buted not a little to his temporary aberration. 

For the reader’s convenience I will sum up in one 
letter Sri Aurobindo’s rejoinder to the charges set forth - 
above. He wrote: 

Dilip, but why on earth does your ‘despairing’ 
friend want everybody to agree with him and follow 
his own preferred line of conduct or belief? That 
is the never-realised dream of the politician, or rea-. 
lised only by the violent compression of the human 
mind and life, which is the latest feat of the men of 
action. The ‘incarnate Gods, Gurus and spiritual 
men’ of whom he so bitterly complains—are more 

ae oe oe ee ae fom nie rs ae 



ful or, if you like, an Ashramful of disciples. And 
even these they don’t ask for, but they come, they 
come. So are they not—these denounced ‘incar- 
nates’—nearer to reason and wisdom than the politi-~ 
cal leaders? Unless, of course, one of them makes 
the mistake of founding a universal religion, but that 
is not our case. Moreover, he upbraids you for los- 
ing your reason in blind faith. But what is his own 
view of things except a reasoned faith? You be- 
lieve according to your faith, which is quite natural, 

he believes according to his opinion, which is natural | 

also, but no better, so far as the likelihood of getting 
at the true truth of things is in question. His opi- 
nion is according to his reason. But so are the opi- 
nions of his political opponents according to their 
reason, yet they affirm the very opposite idea to his. 
How is reasoning to show which is right? The oppo- 
site parties can argue till they are blue in the face 
~—they won’t be anywhere nearer a decision. In the 
end he prevails who has the greater force or whom 
the trend of things favours. But who can look at the 
world as it is and say that the trend of things is al- 
ways (or ever) according to right reason—whatever 
this thing-called right reason may be? As a matter 
of fact, there is no universal infallible reason which 
can decide and be the umpire between conflicting 
opinions, there is only my reason, your reason, X’s 
reason, Y’s reason—multiplied up to the discordant 
inrumerable.’ Each reasons according to his view 
of things, his opinion, that is, his mental constitution 
and mental preference. ‘So what is the use of run- 
ning down faith which. after all. gives somethings to 



universe? If one can get at a knowledge that knows, 
it is another matter; but so long we have only an 
ignorance that argues,—well, there is a place still left 
for faith—even faith may be a glint from the know- 
ledge that knows, however far-off, and meanwhile 
there is not the slightest doubt that it helps to get 
things done. There’s a bit of reasoning for you! Just 
like all other reasoning too, convincing to the con- 
vinced, but not to the unconvincible, that is, to those 

- who don’t accept the ground upon which the rea- 

soning dances. Logic, after all, is only a measured 
dance of the mind, nothing else. 

Your main point is of course quite the right 
answer: all this insistence upon action is absurd if 
one has not the light by which to act. ‘Yoga must 
include life and not exclude it’ does not mean that 
we are bound to accept life as it is with all its stumb- 
ling ignorance and misery and the obscure confu- 
sion of human will and reason and impulse and if- 
stinct which it expresses. The advocates of actibn 
think that by human intellect and energy making 
an always new rush everything can be put right. 
The present state of the world after a development 
of the intellect and a stupendous output of energy 
for which there is no historical parallel is a signal 
proof of the illusion. under which they labour. Yoga 
takes the stand that 4t is: only by a change of con- 
sciousness that the true basis of life can be discover- 
ed. From within outward is, indeed, the rule. But 
‘within’ does not mean some quarter inch behind the 
surface. One must go deep and find the Soul, the 
Self. the Divine Reality within vs and anly ¢hen can 


~—instead of a blind and always repeated confused 
blur of the inadequate and imperfect things we are. 
The choice is between remaining in the old jumble 

\ and groping about in the hope of stumbling on some 
discovery or standing back and seeking the Light 
within till we discover and can build the Godhead 
within and without us. 

. I sent this letter to Subhash. Nilima wrote back 
from Vienna that he brooded long over it but in the end 
decided that I was wrong, as depending too much on 
God led nowhere in these days when accept we must 
the mantra of “do and die,” @ la St. Joan, repudiating 

that of “wait and see,” @ la Asquith. I felt a trifle 
deflated and wrote to Sri Aurobindo: 


O Guru, I enclose a very fine poem of N. entitled 
The Yawning West. The context of the poem is 
Subhash’s robustious letter in which he enthuses 

over the modern arrivisme of the West. Incidentally, 
I was telling N. regretfully about Europe’s frantic 
drive for the charnel-house in a fit of rationalised 
lunacy, as Russel puts it in his latest book, In Praise 
of Idleness. What Russell says amounts to this that 
only through ‘leisure of mind’ can we ‘acquire any 
knowledge’ that is worthwhile. I wonder what will 
be the reaction of Subhash to such a view. Qu’en 

dites-vous? ; 

Sri’ Aurobindo sent me a prompt answer the next 
morning: ¢ 
‘ But, Dilip, you forget that the rationality of poli- 

RAP RGSS QP Le LN Or ERE” a eee SS, ss CA CRM ya ORE? aes Pee mS 


were to allow themselves to be as clear-minded as 
Russell, their occupation would be gone! It is not 
everybody who can be as cynical as a Birkenhead, 
or as philosophical as a C.R. Das and go on with’ 
political reason or political make-believe in spite of 
knowing what it all came to—arripisme in the one 
and patriotism in the other case. 

I wrote back, explaining: 

But no, Guru, I have not forgotten it any more 
than I have forgotten the blazing fact that any flou- 
rish of enthusiasm is huzzaed in this our gullible 
age as the finest application of our vitality which 
makes puppets of us mostly with the pathetic delu- 
sion that we are serving Humanity with a capital H. 
What I was driving at was Subhash’s falling under 
the spell of activism the moment he came out of his 
seclusion, That is why he started thinking once again, 
alas (to quote your own words), that “by human 
intellect and energy making an always new rush 
everything can be put right.’’ I wish my great- 
souled friend would recapture the right vision if only ; 
to be delivered from this sad delusion that by dint 
of blind energy and common logic one could salvage 
the shipwreck of civilization. The mammoth guns 
of the West also have been pressed into service to 
lead us straight to the millennium, but the result has 
not been inspiring, to say the least... ... Apropos, ” 
Russell comments, diagnosing the malady of the 
world today, that when we are really ‘seized with 
lunacy’ we are applauded for ‘displaying remarkable 
wisdom.’ : 


Sri Aurobindo rejoined: 

You are right again, Dilip. Only you seem to 
forget that human reason is a very convenient and 
accommodating instrument and works only in the 
circle set for it by interest, partiality and prejudice. 
The politicians reason wrongly or insincerely and 
have power to enforce the results of their reasoning 
so as to make a mess of the world’s affairs: the in- 
tellectuals reason and show what their minds show 
them, which is far from being always the truth, for 
it is generally decided by intellectual preference and 
the mind’s inborn or education-inculcated angle of 
vision,—but even if they see the truth, they have 
no power to enforce it. So between blind power and 
seeing impotence the world moves, achieving destiny 
through a mental muddle. 

Then he went on to comment on my last sentence: 

Seized with lunacy? But this implies that the 
nation is ordinarily led by reason. Is it so? Or even 
by common sense? Masses of men act upon their 
vital push, not according to reason: individuals, too, 
do the same. If they call it their reason, it is as a 
lawyer to plead the client’s cause. 

Sri Aurobindo. 

I wanted to send Subhash a copy of my correspond- 
) ence with Sri Aurobindo, but thought better of it as 
., Nilima wrote to me that he was convalescing rather 
: slowly after his operation. So I was anxious again and 
waited to hear from him. 7 

But he did not write, for which I was sad for a 
time till Nilima wrote again that he had decided, 




against my request as well as the advice of friends, to 
return home. I felt apprehensive but he just could not 
stay away. He knew for certain that he would be arrested 
again—but unlike Panditji, I repeat—he had struck far 
too many roots deep into the land of his birth so that he 
could not help but languish outside India like a suckling 
weaned from its mother. Besides, it hurt his pride to 
have to stay away, an exile, to dodge prospective impri- 
sonment, however painful or even shattering. 

He was duly taken in custody the moment he 
landed in Bombay (April 1936)—under the same ‘law- 
less law’. In my anxiety I wrote to him again but this 
time it was only silence that met me from the other 

I felt a growing malaise. Had I hurt him? Should 
I not have apologised unqualifiedly? Ought I not to 
try to see him in prison? I could not make up my 

Early in 1937, a rumour got abroad once more that 
Subhash was going to be released unconditionally. I 
asked Gurudev’s permission to visit Calcutta. I plead- 
ed for my eagerness: had I not been full eight years in 
seclusion and so did I not deserve a little relaxation in 
the pleasant playground of life? Gurudev must have 
smiled a deep smile, but he was tolerance itself: and 
tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner—so I was allowed 
to take it easy for a brief interlude. 

It so happened that only a few days after my arrival 
in Calcutta—on the 17th of March, to be more precise— 
TI got a telephone message from Elgin Road that Subhash 
had just been released: I was summoned at once. 

I drove instantly to his place—the same old Elgin 
Road house. No sooner had I entered the front room 


than he came out. I was shocked to see his emaciated 
frame, though he looked more spiritual than ever, But 
i there were the tell-tale rings of shadow under his keen 
eyes! He threw his arms round me and wept like a 
child. I was moved, too, but I must confess I was even 
more surprised. For Subhash to lose his grip over him- 
self! I set it down to the stiff letter he had written to me 
in a huff. Could the phenomenon of his weeping bear 
any other explanation? 

But as we talked on, I was struck by a deeper spiri- 
tual change that had taken place in him. Years of strug- 
gle and disappointment, super-added to frequent incar- 
cerations, had mellowed the exterior austerity of the 
youthful ascetic. For an ascetic he had always been, tem- 
peramentally; not one of the far-too-common formalist 
or phlegmatic brand—for he was surely not built of the 
stuff cold solitaries are made of. None could ever dub 
him world-weary, still less an escapist. Nor did he ever 
care to live cheek by jowl with the mayavadis who, he 
complained, somehow failed to convince even when there 
could be no questioning their sincerity. He writes in his 

Autobiography (An Indian Pilgrim, Chapter X): 

There was a time when I believed that the doc- 
trine of Maya represents the quintessence of Know- 
ledge. Today I would hesitate to subscribe to that 
position, What I cannot live up to—what is not 
workable—I feel inclined to discard. Shankar’s doc- 
trine of Maya intrigued me for a long time, but ulti- 

mately I found that I could not accept, it because I 

could not live it. 

For all that, he looked an ascetic for two obvious 

reasons: first, because his reaction to home-life was one 
Pee are BS, ee ere eee | A, Se, REE! oe eee ae ee tA 


impression that he had a deep kinship with those mys- 
tics who had inspired the Sufi couplet: 

Sara husool ishkaki na kamion me hai 

Jo umr raigan hai wohi raigan nahi. 

When I waste my years to win thee, Friend! 
’Tis then I best achieve my end. 

Only that life was rich in gain 

Which strove and strove for thee in vain. 

As I looked intently at his wistful yet determined 
face that morning, I felt a deep joy that I had not been 
mistaken in my fundamental estimate of him. For he 
was a mystic in the essence of his being, a dreamer who 
counted the world well lost for God, only he had, for the 
nonce, put his Motherland on his dream-throne of Divi- 
nity. I cannot of course prove this home but then has 
it not been admitted even by a great rationalist (Lowes 
Dickinson) that “nothing that is important can be proved!” 

And I never wanted to prove it either. My object 
in writing my reminiscences of the man I loved as a 
friend (who was, withal, an idol of my adolescence and 
early youth) is only to strive to repay the deep debt I 
owe him. And it is because this debt has grown sacred, 
because he was a mystic par excellence, that I have essay- 
ed in my own small way to depict him as I have known 
him. Whether my delineation is convincing or not is 
not germane to my aim. ‘You have a right to action— 
not to fruits thereof”, says the Gita: Karmanyevadhika- 
raste ma phaleshu kadachana. So to proceed, 

He didn’t talkwmuch that morning. He had never 

been a great talker even in his most expansive mood, 
eRe. Oe | AS SOE NN mL, «RNR ee NE, eM Ie eee, (Sa 


words now and then hinting at what he had gone through: 
once he said, laughingly, that if he had failed to grow 
wings he had, at least, slipped his dear old moorings. 
Which was true. For his eyes had won a new expression 
softened, indeed, with unspoken sorrows but irradiate 
with a strange lustre which had not been there eight years 
ago in the heyday of his activism. What I imply by this 
I will endeavour now to explain in his own words, as far 
as possible. 


Subhash asked me to spend an evening with hima few 
weeks later. I accepted with alacrity as it was always 
difficult to catch him alone; whenever I visited him he 
was “the cynosure of neighbouring eyes,” of friends, 
relatives and admirers. We badly wanted a téte-a-téte. 

He had set apart one entire evening for me. I found 
him a little less run down, physically. The shadows 
under his eyes were less pronounced; but he looked tired 
still—and brooding. 

I referred to it but, as was his wont whenever we 
talked about his own health, he waved it all aside with his 
characteristic nonchalance. He warmed up only when I 
muttered something about his accepting suffering with 
such a high aloofness, 

He laughed and said: “But please don’t let off the 
portentous word ‘martyr’ I see trembling on your lips”. 

Let me explain the reference with an extract from 
a letter he had written to me from Mandalay Jail (Ap- 
pendix V): = 

You have given to my incarceration the name 
of martyrdom. This only testifies to the sympathy 


native to your character as also to your nobility of 

heart. But since I have some sense of humour and 

proportion—I hope so, anyway—I can hardly arro- 
gate to myself the martyr’s high title. Against hau- 
teur and conceit I want to be sleeplessy vigilant. 

I had been touched because here the intonation had 
had no tang of the conventional modesty. He had, in- 
deed, been always sincere by nature; only, in the first 
flush of youth—directly after his return from England, 
in 1921—he had grown for a time a little too sure of 
his way and outlook on things in general. This I told 
him, for the first time, that evening. 

Bp gave a low laugh tinged with sadness, 

Of course self-confidence one must have,” he said 
lectively, “but one show. e equally on one’s guard 
against cocksureness, as you say.” 

This gave me the opening I had been seeking, to 
be able to remedy the unfortunate misunderstanding. 

“But don’t you think,” I said, “that it is easier said 
than done?” 

“What are you driving at?” 

“Well,” I hesitated, ‘it—it’s best to be frank, I think. 
What I wished to ask you was: if you were at one with 
me about the need of being on one’s guard against self- 
esteem and cocksureness, how on earth could you pos- 
sibly misunderstand me about Guruvad? Couldn’t you 
see that the only point I had wanted to make was that, 
human judgment being so liable to err, a wise Guru’s 
guidance coyld not but help?” 

“I saw that much all right,” he said. “But then 
didn’t you see what I on my side had wanted to wa?n 
you against? You know very well I never disapprov- 


my childhood thrilled to the romance of Ramakrishna- 
Vivekananda? But that doesn’t mean there’s no danger 
involved when one makes a cult or a fetish of this. Do 
you not see yourself how Guruvad is interpreted and 
distorted, generally, by the man in the street and why? 
Just to have the delectable feeling that the Guru will 
do everything for you—from jutoshelai to chandipath* 
as. our Bengali proverb has it. Hasn’t the purushakara 
of India been sapped too often, alas, by petitioning daiva,t 
and hasn’t Guruvad in practice served too often as a 
cloak for our national inertia?” 

“There few will disagree with you,” I said, “though 
I wish you had looked at such things not so much from 
the national as from the individual’s point of view. In 
the Mahabharat, Bhishma tells Yudhishthira that just 
as without a fertile soil the seed sown cannot sprout, 
even so, without purushakara daiva becomes abortive.t 
That is why, says Bhishma, the wise have assimilated 
purushakara to the ploughed soil and daiva to the seed, 
which means that they are interdependent. I felt much 
struck by the simile when I re-read the great epic of 
late. I quote this only to conciliate you, Subhash, not 
to confound with classical authorities, My point is that 
our ancient wisdom never really awarded in favour of 
inertia when it extolled Guruvad. Let me add also 
that no real Guru will encourage a disciple to grow into 
a lack-lustre ruminant whose mass of flesh gets the 

* The’ phrase means literally—from making a shoe to reading 

} Purushakara means personal initiative as contrasted with 
fatalism which denies the value of personal effort, since all is done 
by daiva, that is, the Gods who play with humans as they will. 

t Yatha bijamvina kshetramuptam bheveti nishpalam, tatha 
purushakarena vina daivam na sidhyati. (Anushasana Parva— 


better of his bones. And then you should have had at 
least this much faith in me that I wouldn't take to a 
Guru like a bondslave who is unwilling to pay for his 
own salvation. Besides, so far as I know, in things of 
the spirit you have never followed Panditji who always 
prejudges the issue without any first-hand experience 
first of the heart of the mystic lore. In wisdom a mere 
surface-view seldom gives.the clue to the Truth that re- 
deems. But the way you are talking now has a curious 
family resemblance to our esteemed friend, who makes 
such unwarranted statements about religion standing for 
‘blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry’ and so on 
read his Autobiography.” 

“Leave him alone,” he flushed. “What have I in 
common with him, ideologically?” 

“But that is precisely why you should not indulge 
in generalisations about the ruinous consequences of 
the wrong kind of Guru-worship, for that would be argu- 
ing from false premises. What I mean is: you should 
not start with a few culled data about the pseudo-reli- 
gious and false prophets. You wrote to me once from 
Malay that you looked upon Sri Aurobindo as going 
even deeper than Vivekananda. How then could you 
think that such a man would smile orf disciples who 
truckled to him like milk-sops to be shown short-cuts to 
salvation? Didn’t you read in his book, The Mother: 
‘Your surrender must be self-made and free .... the 
surrender of a living being, not of an inert automaton’? 

He waggled a finger menacingly as he gave mea wry 

“Now now now, Dilip,” he heckled, “you are at it 
again. making it look as if it was Sri Aurobindo IT lashed 


“But but but, Subhash,’’ I mimicked, “would you 
have wasted so much of your precious breath and fire if 
your target had been a mere artist and hero-worshipper 
like my humble self?” 

He held a hand of mine in his. 

“Please do not take too seriously all that I wrote in a 
huff.” His voice trailed off into a tender cadence. “You 
are too alert psychologically not to be aware that we don’t 
always mean the things we say when we are rubbed the 
wrong way. I would even go so far as to say that our 
dushta Saraswati* loves in her playful moods to make us 
say just the opposite of what we believe and even cherish 
in our heart of hearts.” 

This new note of tolerance and self-criticism did 
surprise me, the more so because he had always advocated 
in his activist enthusiasm Swami Vivekananda’s flaming 
dictum: “What we want is vigour in the blood, strength 
in the nerves, iron muscles and nerves of steel, not soften- 
ing namby-pamby ideas.” I was very glad because I had 
often wished that he might pause now and then to look 

' whither he was being led by the mixed forces around him 

which militated against a calm appraisal of his bearings. 
I told him this and added: “I am really very glad, Subhash, 
that you have drawn a little nearer to folks like us who 
are not built of your heroic stuff and so ask now and again 
whither we are bound.” 

He kept silence for a little, then said with a pensive 
smile: “And I am glad that I have made you so glad, but 
then you see, my jail-life has been chiefly responsible for 

* In Bengali the dushta Saraswati (literally, the wicked God- 
dess of Garrulity) is supposed to perch now and then on the tongue 
of the unwary to make him say things he regrets afterwards. 
“The Old Adam” in English would be a rather inadequate render- 
ing of such a picturesque deity. : : 



my learning to be introspective, willy-nilly. But since you 
say so refreshingly that the gulf between us has shrunk 
now, I may tell you that I did feel a joy now and then 
when, in my seclusion, a new world opened before me 
little by little in the measure the old world was shut out, 
as you told me so categorically the other day. Only, un- 
like you, I had to submit to it all chafing, though even that 
forced submission inculcated humility and resignation. 
But the strange thing was that this attitude, which had 
previously looked so hurtful, proved indeed, very helpful 
in the next phase of my evolution, bringing a light in 
which I saw my own self revealed to me almost in an 
apocalyptic way, if you will forgive such a purple word.” 
I smiled as he paused before he resumed: “You spoke 
just now of surrender of one’s self-will and preconcep- 
_ tions. I am afraid I am not quite sure that such an atti- 
tude would be good for me. But then the question prob- 
ably didn’t ever truly arise in my case. For what I was 
up against was a rebellious spirit which eroded my vitals, 
so much so that it actually started eating into my health 
which I was so anxious to preserve. But I couldn’t. I 
was restless within and my heart-ache all but sapped my 

“Yes, I could see my health ebbing away, under my 
very nose,’’ he went on. “But what was Ito do? I had 
no Guru to guide me. So I began watching my move- 
ments. I am afraid I am getting somewhat long-winded. 
So I will pass by my discoveries also for the reason that 
they were not verifiable at this stage. But the long and 
the short of it all was that through my trials and tribula- 
tions I realised progressively why humility, dinata, and 
charity, titiksha had been extolled by our Sages and Saints 

Oe eT Ee See ee > ee ae a, | a” loan mene 


helpmates showed me, as none else could, why we should 
never judge others too harshly since we are all more or 
less blind and, shall I say, feckless creatures. Anyway 
the marvel of it is that it’s only when we truly realise how 
desperately weak we are that the real strength u urges 
and_permeates our being from depths we know nothing 
of.* And ... every realisation brings in its wake a 
chahge in the. stuff we aremade of The change in me 
enjoined me to be ruthlessly honest. I resolved that I 
must watch my every movement and pass judgment on it 
even as I would on that of any outsider. And I can tell 
| you that the vow, once I put it to practice, taught me not 
a little tolerance till it came eventually to this that I felt _ 
that I was called upon, even in the thick of the fight, not 
only to be lenient to my opponents but even to love them. 
‘Of course,” he added with a half-smile, “I need hardly 
assure you that I am not nearly as niive as to claim that 
to feel an aspiration is to reach the goal. To desire some- 
thing, surely, is not as good as possessing it. I know all 
_ this and I know also why it is so difficult to love one’s 
' opponents. It’s because our self-love just won’t let us 
see that others are as good as ourselves. That is why it 
is so difficult.” He gave a sigh and added with a pensive 
smile: “Could we but break the back of our fear that this 
love for others is not a standing menace to our central 
self-love, we might perhaps act with more real abandon. 
So you see, I know, to my cost, how difficult it is to love 
ur neighbours, let alone loving our enemies. When I 
was an adolescent, I read somewhere that the Buddha had 
said that one should love all creatures with the same in- 

* Cf. Sri Aurobindo’s (Savitri, Book II, Canto 6): 
In our defeated hearts God’s strength survives 
And victory’s star. Jighte—stitt-owr—despernte road. 


tensity as the mother loves her only child. I can still re- 
capture the joy—the wings it gave me. But,” his voice 
dropped, “as I grew in total knowledge I dwindled in 
power of love—of the type Buddha spoke about. But 
then Dilip,” he gave me a melancholy smile, “when you 
look at life, don’t you find a warning writ large—here, 
there and everywhere—that there is no royal road to any 
realisation worth having? No, there never gleamed for 
me a path worth treading that was strewn with roses, 
You have elected to follow the path of Guruvad. I have, 
I confess, been often dubious of your wisdom. But the 
moment I saw you the other day I had my misgivings dis- 
pelled. If the tree is to be judged by its fruit, then you 
can’t be dismissed out of hand as a phantom-chaser, what- 
ever Jawaharlal’s darling Russia may say.” A faint smile 
of irony flickered on his lips but only fora moment. The 
next moment he resumed, serious as sepulchre: “If I have 
learnt tolerance and charity you have learnt—shall I tell 
you my reading? All right then: listen. You talked to 
me at some length today,” he went on, “about your trials 
and tribulations, your flights and falls—no no, how can 
you think I will babble about it to others, not having your 
gift of the gab either—” 


“Ob laugh it down, man!” And we laughed. 

“But listen,” he himself broke the lull that ensued. 
“What was I saying? Yes. I was watching you keenly, 
assaying you, registering your every word, accent and 
stress, when you spoke without reserve about what you 
thought of your own possibilities. You gave vent to your 
doubts; you hinted at your disappointments; you even 
tried te fob me off with your growing cynicism: but not 

"Pa dae Zn fe ps Ay Alay 


Guru, not once could you convince me, with all your 
doubts, that you lacked faith, because not once did you 
vent a passing regret about having thrown away your 
chances of a bright career. Man alive! how can I, after 
this, still take you at your word that you were a born 
sceptic? But I won’t embarrass you any further: let’s 
change the subject by all means. Only I must tell you, 
the other day I read somewhere about a saying of Yeats 
that God has everything to give to Man, but Man’s one 
and only possible gift to God is Faith. I was strangely 
moved, for Christ was surely right when he characterised 
the common run of humanity, the scribes and Pharisees, 
as men of little faith. That is why, Dilip, even when I 
feel deep down in my soul that I should love even my 
enemies, in the thick of the fight I catch myself mistrust- 
ing its feasibility. But then, when all is said, to keep the 
end up is difficult on any path.” He paused once more as 
his rich bass voice quavered. But he was himself again 
in a moment. 

“T thank you, Dilip, that you came out of your seclu- 

. sion to see me,” he went on. “Only do stay with us for 

a while, don’t revert too soon to your ivory tower. You 
may not need us but we need you, I repeat.” 

As I returned home that night under the stars that 
peeped through the passing clouds I marvelled who was 
the wiser of the two—the Irishman who had sighed: 

Come away ee 
With the fairies hand in hand: 
For the world is more full of weeping 
Than you can understand.* 

* W. B. Yeats. 


or the Englishman who laughed: © 

The world is hot and cruel, 

We are weary of heart and hand: 
But the world is more full of glory 
Than you can understand.* 

And then I suddenly remembered, in the hush of the 
night when everybody had gone to sleep, an unforgettable 
quatrain of Sri Aurobindo: 

We will tell the whole world of His ways and His 

He has rapture of torture and passion and pain, 

He delights in our sorrow and drives us to weeping, 

Then lures with His joy and beauty again. 

And, in a flash, I saw Subhash in a new light, a richer 
light that only vigils through dark nights of the soul may 
win. Not that I could bring myself to approve of dark 
pain and suffering with which “our earth is soaked from 
crust to centre”—to quote a great mystic novelist,}. since 
that would be morbid. For, I mused, if the realist’s per- 
ception that “all imperfection is to us evil” was true, the 
mystic’s perception must be truer still, that “all evil is in 
travail of the eternal good; for all is an imperfection which 
is the first condition—in the law of life evolving out of 
Inconscience—of a greater perfection in the manifesting 
of the hidden divinity.ӣ I confess I still fail to understand 
why it could not be ordained otherwise, but in the last 
analysis, how much do we really understand of the fathom- 
less flowers of life evolving out of Inconscience? As I 
paced the terrace on that night under the stars that seem- 

* G. K. Chesterton. 
t Dostoievski in his novel, Brothers Karamazov. - 

ed to be twinkling in derision at the puny self-important. 
intellect of man, I visualised the mellowed face of the 
activist who had told me that evening how strangely it 
had been borne home to him through the very ruin of his 
hopes that he must learn “not only to be lenient to one’s 
antagonists but also to love them.” And I saw, dimly, a 
new meaning and augury of the “eternal good” that was 
progressively “manifesting the hidden Divinity” through 
life’s fire and shadow, ecstasy and anguish. I felt grateful 
to Subhash as never before in the silent watches of that 
memorable night. 


I have often wondered, while I have discussed my 
monitor with my friends who could not concur with my 
estimate of him, whether I have been partial to him 
because of this my deep sense of indebtedness. All I can 
say is that I have tried my best not to be, even though I 
cannot too loudly assert that here I have been successful 
all through. I do, indeed, feel tempted, sometimes, to call 
in the great Goethe to plead for me: 

Sincere I will be—that I promise thee: 
But who achieves impartiality?* 

I feel tempted because I see the force of his honest con- 
fession. All the same, I can and do claim that I have 
never consciously limned him otherwise than as I have 
seen him. Nor have I ever supported him even once 
whenever I have felt that he was making a faux pas or 
defended a course of action which. his higher self could 
not possibly have endorsed, not to mention my repeatedly 

SE eee Pe ers PE Ge SN, MORO Oe, ERP he a cee 


urging him to stand by his swadharma of a spiritual 
karmayogi and nation-builder. But even when I say this 
I glimpse again the eyes of the stars on that night, the 
twinkling stars of irony which seemed to tease me: “How 
much do we really know, friend, to be so sure about the 
swadharma of anybody under the sun?” And then, with 
a sigh, I have to admit that it is difficult in this unstable 
world of ebb and flow to be ever quite sure of solid 
ground under one’s feet. And yet I cannot: persuade 
myself that those who have an impression of Subhash 
different from mine are necessarily nearer the truth in 
their estimate of the man simply because their judgment 
is less refracted by the bias love is supposed to induce. 
For love may have many limitations, but it has this sup- 
reme compensation that it endows one with an insight 
which no other gift of the human mind can command. 
I am not talking here of the helpless attachment which 
is generally blind. For my experience tells me that 
love which evokes the best in our nature can never 
be blind. The reason is that the light that such love sheds 
shows up relentlessly the limitations of the loved one be- 
cause this light is keenly alive to imperfections which love 
must want to abolish. I cannot therefore concede that 
my loving loyalty to Subhash had from the start woven a 
veil which shut out from my view his failings and lapses, 
for that is factually untrue. Only, I have not spoken 
about these too loudly because my main object in attemp- 
ting this pen-portrait is to depict not all that I saw in him 
but, by and large, what uplifted me, inspired me and help- 
ed me to get the better of my own foibles and vacillations. 

All the same, in order to obviate a serious misunder- 
standing. I feel I ought to put it on vaver that T cannot but 

ad iw, 

but a grievous blunder. For it is impossible for any sane 
man to believe that his move was at all calculated to 
achieve the one dream of his heart: Indian independence. 
It is, indeed, a melancholy thought for me still that Su- 
bhash could have been so utterly deceived as to believe 
that a ruthless and unscrupulous power like the J. apanese 
could possibly want to lend him men and money to help 
India except with the ulterior motive of grabbing their 
“pound of flesh!” Here it is difficult for a man of common 
sense not to subscribe to Panditji’s view that, had India 
been invaded by an army of no matter what extraction, 
the very fact of the Japanese being behind it should have 
made it suspect and consequently every Indian must fight 
such an army. Fortunately, India has been spared the 
horrors of such an invasion and, what is more heartening 
still, out of evil good has come. By ‘good’ I do not mean 
a debatable abstraction: I only mean that Subhash’s 
suddenly amplified figure, added to the romance of an 
Indian National Army marching, singing, to Delhi, gal- 
vanised a frustrated nation out of its torpor and substan- 
tially damaged the insulation of the Indian army from the 
magnetic currents of popular enthusiasm for immediate in- 
dependence. This all-too-sudden awakening of the Indian 
fighting forces became so pronounced and widespread 
that even Panditji who had had deep misgivings about 
the I.N.A. of Netaji had to admit in his historic speech 
the other day (15-3-46) that “Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs 
and Mahrattas, politicians or civil servants—among all of 
them the conception of nationalism has been growing 
stronger and today I think that the national idea has 
spread right through, not the least perhaps among some 
of those soldiers who have done such wonderful service 
in the war’? Of eniuresa it fe nhwinne that if thea Deigieh 


have turned so sympathetic overnight to the justice of 
our demand behind the “national idea,” it is not so much 
because these soldiers did “such wonderful service in 
the war” as because they might do some still more sur- 
prising disservice in peace. But be that as it may, it is 
undeniable that this unexpected volte face on the part 
of our obliging rulers cannot but be of good augury— 
the more reason why we should agree now with Panditji 
that it would have been, indeed, a dark day for us if the 
British in India had been displaced by the I.N.A. under 
the thumb of the Japanese. For after their treatment 
‘of China, Korea and others under them,* nobody but 
a blind man could fail to see what a disaster would have 
overtaken India if Subhash had succeeded in his rash 
project: Nippon would then have kept India safe and 
groaning under its octopus tentacles aided perhaps by 

* A famous patriotic friend of mine told me in North India a 
few months ago that it was such a pity that the Japanese and the 
“I.N.A. should have lost the battle of Imphal because if they hadn’t 
we would have surely become free Indians with the Japanese for 
our loyal allies. His view was that the Japanese could be de. 
pended upon, as Asiatics, to behave with us in a brotherly way. 
I tried vainly to argue that the Japanese conduct had never been 
conspicuous so far by fraternal gallantry to non-Japanese races 
whether in the East or West. He dismissed it all as British pro- 
paganda. I wonder if the account published since of the Japanese 
treatment of Malaya labourers who built for them the Burma- 
Siam “Death Railway” is going to make any impression on my 
large-hearted friend. One has only to read the dismal descrip- 
tion of T. G. Narayan (a correspondent of the Hindu of Madras 
and consequently not an agent of the British propagandists) who 
writes: “Out of a lakh of labourers who had been dragooned by 
the Japanese, an estimated 45,000 Indians perished building the 
railway, not due to lack of food so much as due to lack of medicines, 
doctors, shelter and the heavy toil. This constitutes perhaps the 
blackest chapter in the history of Japanese rule over Indians in 
South East Asia.” (The Hindu, dated 23-3-46, dak edition). I 
would not have laboured this point had T not found this amazing 
belief obtaining 

en oie Git oer 


‘Germany and then, for decades to come, we would be 
exploited and enslaved in a way compared with which 
‘our present enslavement would feel like a nursery mimi- 
ery of cheerful servitude. 

Now, Subhash could never be blind to this extent. He 
had never been one to cherish ill-will against any race 
(though he sometimes did feel embittered against certain 
groups, like the Congress High Command, for example). 
What then, it may well be asked, could be the explana- 
tion of his decision to cast in his lot with imperialist 
Japan? I think what happened must have been some- 
thing like this, 

I have said that Subhash had always been rather 
impatient by nature; and impulsive to boot. Consequent- 
ly he had been growing restive, his peacelessness getting 
more and more intolerable as days, months and years 
wheeled headlessly by. Nor was the load of oppressive- 
ness lightened by his declining health. Then came his 
rustication by the Congress High Command, which he 
took bitterly to heart. But as he was too proud to admit 
defeat he impetuously organised the luckless Forward 
Bloc only to discover—soon enough—that he had hastily 
taken upon himself a burden which was more than he 
could carry in the teeth of the organised Congress oppo- 
sition, And last, though by no means least, came an emo- 
tional frustration that served perhaps as the last straw. 

But tragedies, as the poet has said, come in battalions. 
He was arrested again for having started the Forward 
Bloc. The prospect of the same inactive and intolerable 
life again in prison all but maddened him till, towards the 
end of 1940, he started hunger-strike. The authorities 

released him. But yet another trial impended on Janu- 
Dee ee. aie Lt ieee oe een, ee ee, | ee, Ce ene, er ee 


ing to be. Then he decided, at a venture, to circumvent 
fate by fleeing his country. From the account recently 
published by Uttamchand, his host in Kabul, it is already 
possible to have a fairly accurate picture of his mental 
outlook in 1941, and one cannot but be materially relieved 
to learn that his original plan had been to go to Russia, 
and not to the Axis powers: not that he disliked Commu- 
nism less but that he disliked Fascism more, if I may alter 
a famous passage.* But it appears that there had been 
some bungling somewhere. For when he had reached Ka- 
bul according to schedule, he was surprised to learn that 
his Russian friends were no longer over-eager to have 
him in Moscow. Then, as he had already burnt his boat 
beyond recall, he had nothing for it but to make straight 
for Berlin. Here is what Uttamchand has to tell us (The 
Indian Express, 21-3-46): 

For forty-five days Bose Babu was with me and 
not once during this period did I hear one good word 
for the Axis from his lips. He hated them as much 
as the British. In Berlin he must have made another 
attempt to get to Russia through the Russian Em- 
bassy. But the declaration of the Russo-German 
War must have finally dashed his hopes of reaching 
Russia. He reached Berlin on March 28, 1941 and on 
June 22 the Russo-German War broke out. 

I have entered into such dry details because these 
constitute valuable evidence in favour of my contention 
that Subhash could never have had any Fascist leanings 
even though, by a conspiracy of accidents, he was driven 
by fate to seek the aid of Japan. I am not pleading that 
he was the fates’ puppet as many another is. But I do 

* “Not that I love Caesar less but that I love Rome more”— 


maintain that it is possible to be led by a single false step 
into an eddy from which it becomes impossible to be res- 
cued. All our movements are not reversible. In any 
event, it is always more paying to understand people than 
to judge them. As Sri Aurobindo wrote to mé once: 
Human beings are much less deliberate and 
responsible for their acts than the moralists, novelists, 
and dramatists make them and I look rather to see 
what forces drove them than what the man himself 
may have seemed by inference to have intended or 
purposed. Our inferences are often wrong and even 
when they are right touch only the surface of things. 

So, Subhash was a victim of a conspiracy of forces 
which, by exploiting his heart-sickness, induced him to 
seek a kind of catharsis through adventure. Ido not sug- 
gest that his decision had been right, for I cannot but 
think that he should have remained here and faced the 
music—as Panditji and others did—rather than shake 
hands with the contaminating Fascists. But a sense of 
loneliness is a cross hard to bear even for the stoutest 
loins and, unless and until one learns the supreme wis- 
dom of submission to a Guiding Wisdom overarching the 
shipwreck of human calculations, one can never be too 
sure of one’s gambits. So he made a faux pas at a very 
critical moment and then the wheel of Karma saw to the 

All this I say neither to judge him, still less to plead 
for him. My reminiscences are chiefly inspired by a two- 
fold desire: first, to pay homage to the man he was at 
his most authentic, and secondly, to help people under- 
stand his predicament when, alas, he stumbled through a 
sense of phantom strength, lured by phantom laurels. 

~ ‘ihe vy aa aaah’ 


‘phantom’. It reeks too much of our traditional Maya- 
vad, illusionism. But after all, in life, when we repeated- 
ly chase a form only to clasp a shadow, can one resist 
the word which so graphically portrays an experience 
of Man from the dawn of his spiritual consciousness? 
Furthermore, have we not, from time immemorial, 
glimpsed a Reality (though only a handful attained it so 
far) beside whose boon of fulfilment the puny joys of 
our world of fact seem infantile if not pitiful? When 
one takes stock of these two dateless perceptions of hu- 
manity, isn’t one reminded of the unsurpassed mystics 
of the Upnishad who said: 

Tadeva Brahma twam viddhi nedam yadidam 
upasate: “Know that for the Brahman and not this 
which men cherish here.” 

The mystic in Subhash did not take long to discover 
this on his own. For all his optimistic make-believes 
could not reconcile him to the stark staring penury 
which faced him after he had served his country for full 
sixteen years—risking his life, staking his all, in fact, 
counting no cost to achieve emancipation from a soul- 
blasting, alien serfdom. Nevertheless, the net recogni- 
tion of those who mattered, the Congress High Command, 
was meted out to him in the form of his total expulsion 
from the country’s one and only political organisation. 
It was then that he came to realise with a rude shock 
that things were not nearly as thrilling as they had seem- 
ed to his youthful idealism when he had resigned his 
I.C.S. post and plunged into politics under his guru 
Das, vowed to stake his all for his country he had 
come to deify on his heart’s altar. But, gradually, alas, 
in the school of bitter experience and frustration it 


by one’s colleagues in politics was as rational as to ex- 
pect skeletons to behave like flesh and blood. 

I am not overstating my case. For I have seen him 
first wince, then grieve and brood and, lastly, grow blasé 
under the unjust humiliation he had to undergo only 
because he had the courage of his conviction and said 
openly that he did not believe in the cult of non-violence. 
He was ousted by Gandhiji—so he felt—because he had 
spoken his mind and said about non-violence what many 
another in the Gandhiite camp thought and felt, like 
Panditji or Abul Kalam Azad or Patel.* The brute 
fact was that he just didn’t know how to play his cards, 
for which offence (so he complained many a time to me) 
he had been unfairly treated as a rebel beyond redemp- 
tion, And what wounded him to the soul was the 
stark fact that even his friends whom he had hailed as 
comrades-in-arms could, in a body, let him down in his 
hour of need and read in his burning aspiration to 
serve his country but an unconfessed lust for personal 
power.j “This is the most unkindest cut of all,’’ he said 
once to me with a bitter smile, quoting Shakespeare. 
I could see that he felt so deeply hurt because he was 
extremely sensitive by nature. But not he; so, I did my 
poor best, trying to heal his hurt, by reminding him of 

* Maulana Abul Kalam Azad writes in his autobiography, 
India Wins Freedom, that he and many another among Gandhiji’s 
adherents had only accepted his cult of non-violence as a policy 
cand not as a principle. 

t When Subhash had inaugurated his Indian National Army 
abroad, somebody felicitated his dying mother in Caleutta on her 
‘status of the Queen Mother of the would-be King of India. She 
admonished him, scandalised: “Never say such a thing! I never 
wish, even in my dreams, that my Subhash be made a King. I 
:see him always as a servant of his country.” (From a famous 


his early spiritual aspiration for self-perfection. But 
then this was essentially a “mystic ideal” which he had 
“outgrown,” he said, 

But he said this to hide a deep pain with a bravado. 
And it wasn’t just a pain but a grievance that rankled 
as against a cruel injustice. Some of his critics said 
that he ought to have willingly submitted to Congress 
discipline. It was not discipline that he minded. But 
he was asked to eat humble pie and beg the High Com- 
mand to forgive him, when the boot was on the other leg, 
that is, the Congress should have come down to meet 
him half-way. This was not his view alone but Poet 
Tagore’s as well. Disunity among our workers was 
disastrous, he said again and again, and it was because 
he felt it was hard on Subhash that he went out of his 
way to appeal to Gandhiji. 

“Owing to gravely critical situation all over India,” 
the Poet wired, “I would urge Congress Working Com- 
mittee immediately to remove the ban against Subhas 
and invite his cordial co-operation in the supreme in- 
terests of National unity.” 

But Gandhiji was implacable and wired back: “Your 
wire was considered by the Working Committee. With 
the knoweledge they have they are unable to lift the 
ban. My personal opinion is that you should advise 
Subhash Babu to submit to discipline if the ban is to be 
removed. Hope you are well.” 

Subhash could not believe that. Gandhiji could be 
so hard and relentless as to turn down the Poet’s request, 
for a false prestige. But a hardening of the heart on 
one side—following the law of action and reaction—al- 
ways leads to a similar heardening of heart on the other 

eo Ce OS ee A Se Te, Cr: en eh Te, TA, . On wEs ence 


1940. Let me quote a report hereanent: “While con- 
valescing after his release from detention following a 
hunger-strike, Netaji was asked to comment on a tele- 
gram received by a friend from Mahatma Gandhi on the 
question of withdrawal of disciplinary measurés against 
the Bose brothers in order to effect unity in Congress 

®Gandhiji’s telegram was: “Wardhaganj, 28.11.40. 

Netaji’s comment was as follows: 

At school I once read a poem on William Tell, 
the greatest hero of Switzerland: 

My knee shall bend, he calmly said, 
To God and God alone; 

My life is in the Austrians’ hands, 
My conscience is my own. 

I am not aware of any wrong that I have com- 
mitted in my political career. Consequently my 
reply to the Mahatma will be on the above lines 
with a few verbal changes.* 

I knew full well how he had for long chafed against 
the injustice which was assuredly one of the causes not 
only of his political frustration, but did affect his health 
as well. But what on earth could I do in this instance 
except feel immensely sorry for him? My heart 
ached for him as never before. His utter loneliness 
amounting to a sense of dereliction haunted me and I 


did implore him to leave this futile gamble with the dice 
loaded heavily against him, a gamble that had baulked’ 
him cruelly of his victory when it seemed almost with- 
in his reach after having been re-elected as the President 
of the Comress. I could see how he had lost and why— 
because he had counted his chickens before they were: 
hatched. Only, alas, the crux of the trouble is that al-. 
though, when, human passions stemming from the lash 
of egos are dormant, this may, indeed, seem obvious 
enough to tranquil vision, yet when they are suffered 
to rise, they do bedevil the atmosphere with their mill- 
ing sprays for the right vision to have a chance. At all 
events, that is what has happened again and again in 
history to all robust activists, especially in the field of 
polities where our turbid vital nature has perhaps the 
freest play. An inescapable consequence ofthis was 
that Subhash felt a growing disharmony and_ rest- 
lessness because life, at every turn, insisted on giving 
him the opposite of what he had tapped it for, till it be- 
came so intolerable that he sought some solace through 
a romantic-cum-emotional release: but there too he 
failed—which was, I repeat, the last straw. Otherwise: 
I do not think he would have even dreamed of going 
over to the Axis powers for help in order to wrest 
phantom laurels from the reluctant hands of Destiny. 
' It is difficult not to be impressed by an indomitable will- 
power, however misdirected—especially when we learn 
from the highest wisdom, namely the mystic, that even: 
going wrong is exploited by the Great Manoeuvrer to- 
subserve a Divine Purpose. How this applies to 
Subhash’s political blunders is too self-evident to need 
commentary. So, I would only add that the miracle: 


idealism which, to the likes of us, often seemed too my- 
thical to be true. I still remember how his face glowed 
when, with his youthful blood a-tingle, he would recite 

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars 

But in ourselves, that we are underlings. 

ven on the brink of seventy, my heart warms up 
just as of old when I feel that here Subhash was not 
mistaken, since he had never been an underling but a 
master-builder all his life, and, let us add, a born mys- 
tic. I shall never forget another memorable night 
nearly fifty years ago, when he first revealed to me this 
his deepest persuasion. Fortunately, I had kept a re- 
cord of it in my diary. 


It was in 1921 in the house of Dr, Dharamvir in 
Lancashire. We often talked far into the night with a 
glow of heart that only youth can command. Sitting 
before the crackling fire, we fell to discussing the por- 
tents of the Labour Party in Engiand and Communism 
in Russia. I may say, in those days I used to be an ar- 
dent believer in the gospel of Marx and was all but 
convinced that the Millennium of the visionary could 
hever come in any other—that is, less sanguinary—way. 

“When Labour comes into power in England, it’s 
surely going to be great, don’t you think?” I said, alas, 
too fervently. 

Subhash sniffed. “In what way?” 

I was deflated. 


for us to get our asking, of course, what else?” 

“In India?” he said. “Don’t you believe it.’’ 

There was a hint of mordancy in his tone which 
worked me up. I said: “But why not? Aren’t the 
exploited and the disinherited of all races one?’ 

He fixed on me his keen gaze of scrutiny. 

“Or, without beating about the bush, the dictator- 
ship of the Proletariat, what?” But before I could 
think of a more sonorous slogan he waved me aside. 

“I would sooner believe in the tale of Aladdin and 
his wonderful lamp.” 

I was stung. “But Subhash—’’ 

He had risen and was standing with his back to the 

“Listen Dilip,” he said incisively. “Those of us 
who still fondly believe that India is going to win her 
independence by raising vast echoes to such nostrums 
of alien countries are blowing hope-bubbles of illusion. 
They don’t know what they are talking about.” 

“In other words, things that are happening outside 
are not going to influence our destiny?” 

“T won’t go so far. I only meant that others can’t 
work for our salvation and, what is more to the point, 
they won't.” 

“May I know why?’’ 

“For the obvious reason that nobody helps another 
disinterestedly—not in politics. Recall Mirzafar.* Didn’t 
he believe, as fondly as you believe in English Labour or 

* He used often to quote the Bengali metaphor, khal kete 
kumir ana—that is, literally, digging a canal to invite an alligator 
from a river. His view on this question was so categoric that I 
cannot but feel that he must have had deep qualms of conscience 

tle WSs wa Pinesanes. el lime wets Sie Tame co ENE <ipmes Sei Piwecl 


Russian Communists, that Clive would help him on to 
his throne and then gallantly buttress him with the 
fealty of an obedient vassal? No Dilip, Sri Aurobindo 
was perfectly right when he said in the Swadeshi days 
that no outsider would help India. If we ourgelves can’t 
win our freedom none will come to our rescue. Re- 
member Hamlet: ‘Never a borrower nor a lender be.’ 
That should be our guiding motto in our dealings with 
parties and politicians outside.” 

I bridled. “It’s easier said than done,” I said, “But 
the fact remains that we, Indians, are too disorganised 
and at odds with one another to be able to act effectively 
in concert in order to win our freedom.” 

He only smiled and said: “But that is just the 
reason why we should take a leaf out of their book and 
learn to organise ourselves.” 

T held his eyes but not knowing how to meet this 
said, rather tamely: “And... .then?’’ . 

Subhash looked intently at my face and gave a half: 
smile. The next moment his eyes looked far away, all 
too suddenly, as was his wont, when dream overtook 
him unawares. “And then....” he paused and mur- 
mured: “Then—Revolution.” 

My heart leapt up. For I had never yet run 
across a revolutionary in my life. But I felt ashamed 
of my nervousness and forced a smile to my lips. 

“But now,” I said, trying in vain to be cool as 
cucumber, “who is it that favours importing Russian 
ideas into India?” 

“Man alive!” Subhash gasped. “Have you never 
heard of such a thing as the Partition of Bengal and 
Ananda Math and Aurobindo Ghosh? Bussial Her re- 

volutionaries had only just been weaned when we were 
full-grown adults.” 

“Of course I know. all that,” I said indignantly. 
“Didn’t I sing with my father his national songs in the 

Subhash softened, but only to go off again at a tan- 

“Yes, those were wonderful days. I was then only 
a stripling. But I can still hear in my blood those 
wonderful Swadeshi songs of your father: dhana dhanya 
pushpabhara, Banga amar janani amar, dhao dhao 
samarakshetre, Mevar pahar, ete—Really Dilip, you 
had a wonderful father!” ; 

I felt proud notwithstanding the implied antithesis 
of the son. But I bravely decided to shine in borrow- 
ed light. ade 
TY agree,” I echoed. “But haven’t we divagated? I 
mean that....well....those days can’t be revived, can 

“But why not?’’ There was a challenge in his 
voice. “What man has done man can do.” This was 
another favourite maxim of his. 

“That’s true,” I said irresolutely, “Only—well, 
wouldn’t it be equally true to say that a great move- 
ment, like genius, is born—not made? I mean, isn’t 
a great movement an inevitable result—a culmination of 
the spirit of an epoch?’’ 

“What on earth are you talking about?” 

I was in a quandary. I had read a remark like that 
in some book on Russia and had just aired it to sound 
impressive. For the fact was I had never yet thought 
seriously about anything except literature, music and 


of everyone in those days was politics and socialism, . So 
I had to memorise a few phrases hollow enough to 
sound resounding, without being at all clear about their 
meaning or implications. But now that I felt myself 
in deep waters, and, terribly scared about coming to 
grief, I fought bravely with the weak strokes of a bad 

“T mean,” I said, “that our Bengal revolutionary 
movement in the Swadeshi days was primarily an un- 
derground one, don’t you agree?” 

“What if it was?’’ he asked, looking me full in the 

I had to rise to the occasion. My whole reputation 
for intelligence was at stake. 

“I mean—first, that it was somehow inevitable then. 
But would it be now? And secondly....well, I was 
going to say....even when such a movement didn’t 
deliver the goods—” I floundered hopelessly and gave 

“That is hardly the way to look at such movements,” 
he chimed in. “You might just as well say that the 
Sinn Fein movement is a failure also since it hasn’t 
delivered the goods yet. When De Valera was senten- 
ced the other day to death whoever thought that he 
would be released and then reimprisoned again in 1918 
only to escape from Lincoln Jail and visit America where 
he would raise six million dollars for the Irish Repub- 
lican movement? A_ revolutionary movement for 
national liberation is not like a chance detonation which 
makes the age-long prison-walls topple once and for all. 
It is a slow laborious work of building up brick by 
brick a citadel of strength without which you can’t pos- 
sibly challenge the powers that be. The Bengal revo- 


lutionary movement at the daw® of this century was 
the first real movement, real in the sense that it gave 
our supine prostrate people the first hint about the re- 
ality of their own, unaided strength. It was the first 
movement that created a nucleus of national conscious- 
ness, the consciousness that not only have we got the 
strength in us to struggle against a vastly superior 
organised power but—how shall I express it—it... .it.. 
sort of convinced us that unless we learnt to be the 
architects of our destiny others were hardly likely to 
stir a finger to help the orphans. History’s verdict is 
that a nation gets the government it deserves.” 

I felt infected by the glow of his hot faith while he 
thus declaimed. But when he had finished I feli again 
the cold fogs of doubt infiltrating from outside. 

“Excuse me, Subhash,” I said after a pause, “but 
do you really mean to say that the way to deserve free- 
dom lies know what I mean?” 

He laughed: “Why are you so scared of the word 
which begins with R?’’ 

“It isn’t quite Revolution I have in mind. It is.... 

terrorism with all its ugly atmosphere of....” I broke 
down again. 
“Dear dear, Dilip! As if life } was 2 procession of 

roses and waterfalls and rainbows and moon-beams. I 
wish it Were.—But wé, earthlings, are not all artists, 
Dilip, we have to reckon with hard reality—weekly, 
daily, hourly reality. I admit it is regrettable, even 
ugly, if you will—though it has also a terrible beauty 
of its own, but may be that Beauty does not unveil her 
face except to her devotees: but what would you have? 
Even Lord Krishna had to devise stratagems when he 

Pe. eon. en ae nee ee i a che TET She eo 


“But you forget Krishna presided over a regular 
army. We have only tides of patriotic emotion. Fine 
tides to look at, I grant—but only when they surge 
ahead. But then—when they recede?” 

Subhash held my eyes, 

“Did you ever live beside a river?” 

“No. Why?” 

“Because I happen to know, having passed my 
childhood days in Cuttack. It is very curious though— 
for you have given a simile which spells your own ruin. 
For the tides recede only to surge back again, especial- 
ly in the rains, with mounting force. Day after day I 
would watch on in curiosity. They strike the solid 
banks for some time at flood-tide but, it seems, only to 
troop away—shame-faced, defeated. After a time they 
appear again and hurtle with a stronger impetus. This 
play of rising and subsiding is repeated, the assaulting 
continues, and the banks, their enemies, get weaker 
and weaker, imperceptibly—till the fateful day when 
chunks of them fall plop into the swirling, eddying 
tides and the battle is won: where there was a reign of 
solid land gurgle along radiant, triumphant crests. You 
take it from me Dilip, that all this isn’t mere talk. ” It 
may seem rather quiet now, but it’s only the lull be 
fore the storm.” 

“You mean things are being hatched?” 

“Of course. Only this time the birds will not be 
let off till they are full-fledged. And then there will be 
such music at that new dawn—won’t your artist heart 
love to lead that chorus?” 

His face flushed and looked almost diaphanous in 
the fire-light. I can recapture even the twitches round 

pe a ee | Oa, OMe Gy Sey here aaa ee eee See neS 


“But let’s come down to earth, O artist,” he smiled. 
“Remember the Bible: for it won’t be only choral choirs 
of course: ‘there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ 
as well.” 

My heart-beats became unruly. 

“But....I mean....are you sure, Subhash?” 

“Sure? What do you mean? I know the people, 
or at any rate, some of them....And I would have 
joined them too. But frankly, I didn’t at the time feel 
that I could go the whole hog....I mean.” He paused. 
and there was again that fly-away look in his eyes when 
he said, somewhat sadly: “Who knows....we may 
have to wait yet awhile... .till....till the time is 

I sat like one petrified. He darted a sudden glance 
of sympathy for my plight and laughed. “But for this 
to have been conceivable, Dilip, those stalwarts of the 
Swadeshi days just had to be. And you call them 
failures? Man alive, can’t you imagine the beauty of 
it all, the appalling beauty of that courage—of an in- 
fant organisation of a tiny handful—which dared to 
throw the gauntlet to the mighty might of the roaring 
British lion—O Dilip, it sounds too romantic to be true 
and yet too....too real to be discredited.’’ 


Years later, when, during the war, I heard rumours 
akout Subhash Chandra Bose’s organising the Indian 
National Army in Burma, I recalled the memorable night 
in Lancashire. I visualised his hard-tender face glowing 
in the amber light of an English fire-side, grim with deter- 



which I have seldom seen in my life of varied experience. 
Often have the unruly breezes of my imagination 

wafted to my ears two of his favourite mottos: Rabindra- 
nath’s (which I have already quoted) \ 

Life and death wait upon my feet like slaves 
And my mind no dark misgiving ever depraves 

and Danton’s 
Pour les vaincre, il nous faut de Vaudace, 
Encore de Vaudace, toujours de Vaudace, 

And it was borne in upon me that he was made of 
the stuff of dreams and fiery aspirations which only 
nomads of a light beyond the human ken can seek, 
aspirants who are fain to sing a la Chesterton, even 
when they are defeated by the fates: 

It is something to have smelt the mystic rose, 
Although it break and leave the thorny rods. 

It is something to have hungered once as those 
Have hungered who have ate the bread of gods. 

I know this is likely to be dismissed as mere rhe- 
toric by those who have never contacted his being, of 
flame and so cannot help but scoff at mystic faith. 
These will simply laugh and call my reading tendencious. 
“Subhash was an ardent revolutionary,” they will con- 
tend, “but a mystic a Ia Chesterton? What arrant 
nonsense! He was a great patriot, a fine organiser, a 
man who could play for big stakes and what not but...” 
and so on. 

But as the years glided by, I learnt at the feet of 
the wisest Master I have known that not only is the 
authentic revolutiogary a true nursling of mysticism, 
but when such a child of fire comes of age he can reach 


the zenith of his stature in the far skies of mysticism 
alone. The summit vision may not accrue to him in 
one life (did not the Lord tell Arjun in the Gita that he 
had been born again and again on earth though he, Arjun, 
did not know this?), but once the seeds of the revolu- 
tionary ardour are sown in the heart’s blood, the trees 
of dream must grow ever on ceaselessly till they touch 
the starland of the mystics who have been on earth the 
greatest revolutionaries man has ever known. That is 
. why they have been in all ages and in all climes the most 
misunderstood as well as the most persecuted handful 
on earth. Misunderstood because they always question 
‘our little dogmas, and persecuted because we dread 
nothing as the call to stake our lesser loves for . the 
highest. Subhash’s character which I had the privilege 
to be allowed to study at close range has convinced me 
anew of the truth of an early perception of mine of a 
fundamental kinship between revolutionary ardour and 
mystic fervour. And it is because this is unquestion- 
ably true that he oscillated so often between the call of 
the revolution of consciousness through a spiritual as- 
piration and that of adventure deep into the heart of the 
Unknown through organised insurrection against heart- 
less exploitation. I cannot but think—though I know 
many will decline to undersign my reading—that 
Subhash would have risen to far greater heights of self- 
fulfilment if he had harked to the former call. But 
since, evidently, he couldn’t—or rather, didn’t—choose 
to respond to the profoundest call of his soul, he had to 
shape in the way he. did—in this life. As to why one 
elects to tread the path of a lesser love when the higher 
lies open before one will perhaps remain a mystery to 


solution to this anguished query of the self-haunted soul, 
this much is certain—to quote a quatrain of one of 
Subhash’s most beloved poets, the mystic A.E. of 

Though the crushed jewels drop and fade 

The Artist’s labour will not cease 

And of the ruins shall be made 

Some yet more lovely masterpiece. 


Do you want the fragrance of the full-blown rose? If 
so, you must accept the thorns. Do you want the 
sweetness of the smiling dawn? If so, you must' 
live through the dark hours of the night. Do you 
want the joy of liberty and the solace of freedom? 
If so, you must pay the price. And the price of 
liberty is suffering and sacrifice. 

Bombay Subhash Chandra Bose 

To Cuttack, 
Shri Sarat Chandra Bose January 1, 1913 

Dear brother, 

A brighter future is India’s destiny. God is ever 
good... He is leading us towards our only goal. He is 
the magnet round which all things revolve and to which 
all creation inevitably moves. We must move—the road 
may be dangerous and stony—the journey may be a 
laboured one, but we must march. We must ultimately 
lose ourselves in Him. The day may be far off, but it 
must come.... Don’t we feel that He is pulling us to- 
wards Him with magnetic force? I think we do. Has 
He not spread Nature’s charms around us only to 
remind us of His existence? Has He not bidden the 
stars to speak for Him and the infinite sky to teach 
man that He is infinite? Has He not instilled love in 
our hearts, to remind us of the love He bears towards 

(An Indian Pilarim n 127) 


Rabindranath Tagore 

Subhash Chandra, I have watched the dawn that 
witnessed the beginning of your political Sadhana. In 
that uncertain twilight there had been misgivings in my 
heart and I had hesitated to accept you for what you 
are now.... Today you are revealed in the pure light 
. of midday sun which does not admit of apprehensions. 
You have come to absorb varied experiences during 
these years. Today you bring your matured mind and 
irrepressible vitality to bear upon the work at hand. 
Your strength has sorely been taxed by imprisonment, 
banishment and disease,- but, rather than impairing, 
these have helped to broaden your sympathies—enlarg- 
ing your vision so as to embrace the vast perspectives 
of history beyond any narrow limits of territory... 

Let it be your untiring mission to claim of your 
countrymen the resoluteness, the unyielding will to 
live and to conquer, strengthened by the inspiration of 
your own life. Let Bengal affirm in one united voice 
that her deliverer’s seat is ready spread for you... May 
she offer you honour worthy of a leader by retaining 
her self-respect in trials as well as triumphs... : 

The born leaders of men are never alone and they 
never belong to the fugitive moment. The eternal 

_ -message of the sunrise of the future they carry in their 

own lives... 

As I feel that you have come with an errand to 
usher in a new light of hope in your motherland, I ask 
you to take up the task of the leader of Bengal and ask 
my countrymen to make it true. 

Long ago, at a meeting, I addressed my message to 


lapse of many years, I am addressing at this meeting 
one who has come in to the full light of recognition... 
I may not join him in the fight that is to come. I can 
only bless him and take my leave knowing that he has 
made his country’s burden of sorrow his own, that his 
final reward is fast coming as his country’s freedom. 

May, 1939 


Villeneuve (Vaud), Villa Olga, 
February 22, 1935 

Dear Mr. Subhas C. Bose, 

I duly received your volume “The Indian Struggle 
1920-34”, which you were good enough to send me.. I 
thank you for it and congratulate on it heartily. So 
interesting seemed the book to us that I ordered another 
copy so that my wife and sister should have one each. 
It is an indispensable work for the history of the Indian 
Movement. In it you show the best qualities of the 
historian: lucidity and high equity of mind. Rarely it 
happens that a man of action as you are is apt to judge 
without party spirit. 

....We, the men of thought, must each of us fight 
against the temptation, that befalls us in moments of 
fatigue and unsettledness, of repairing to a world’ be- 
yond the battle called either God, or Art, or indepen- 
dence of Spirit, or those distant regions of the mystic 
soul. But fight we must, our duty lies on this side of 
the ocean, on the battle-ground of men... . 

“I sincerely wish that your health will speedily 
recover for the good of India that is in need of you.and 
I beg you to believe in my cordial sympathy. 


George Russell (A.E.) 

Your eyes are filled with tender light 
For those whose eyes are dim with tears: 
They see your brow is crowned and bright, 

But not_its ring of woundin ears. 


It is something to have wept as we have wept, 

It is something to have done as we have done, 

It is something to have watched when all men slept, 
And seen the stars which never see the sun. 

It is something to have smelt the mystic rose, 
Although it break and leave the thorny rods, 
It is something to have hungered once as those 
Must hunger who have ate the bread of gods. 

To have known the things that from the weak ate 

Perilous ancient passions, strange and high; 

It is something to be wiser than the world, 

It is something to be older than the sky. 

Land of Dream 

O my India!—O my mother!—O my nursery, nurse and 
home! . 

Why dishevelled are thy locks and dim thine eyes with 
tears of gloom? 

Why art thou in rags—O why has dust claimed one 
who’s born divine? 

When four hundred million children call thee, singing: 
“Mother mine!” 


This thy land saw Buddha’s soul’s high sunrise like 


Half the world still bring him homage in adoring 

Ashoka lit his torch of love from hoary peaks to the far 
blue deep, 

How canst thou, their mother, sigh in penury ?—How 
canst thou weep? 

Once thy lightning legions conquered kings and conti+ 
nents untold; 

Thy sentinel fleet the oceans scoured with storm-defiant 
sails of gold; 

Thy sons in Tibet, China and Japan built colonies of 
* Light; 

How canst thou, their mighty mother, lie in dust— 
subdued by Night? 

Here arose in deathless cadence Chaitanya’s sweet 

Shankar wrote philosophy and Vyas thrilled us with 
Krishna’s tales. 

Pratap, the lion-hearted, battled—and ‘twas thy name 
inspired them all, 

O how blood in our veins tingles when their great deeds 
we recall! 

Though thy sinless sun’s no more and we grope blind 
in darkness’ sway, 

Clouds will pass and round thy brow a deeper lustre 
come to stay. 

No clods are we, thy fire’s own scions, relume we must 
thy hallowed Gleam, 

O my Goddess, All-in-all, my Heaven of heavens, my 
Land of dream! 

There’s no sorrow and there’s no shame, no coward 
truce with tyrant Fate, 
When four hundred million voices sing thy name in- 
(Translated from Dwijendralal Roy’s famous poem 

Amae Moch Wer Teli Beeman Dee 


Home of Bliss 

This fruitful earth so richly hued, 
With gold and grain and blooms endued, 
Still holds within a land surpassing 
all others’ glow and gleam: 
Girdled by irised memories, 
woven of halcyon dream. 

Where else will sun and moon and star 
So sparkle and beckon from afar? 
Where else will lightning play with clouds 
like cherubim of the sky? 
Where else do we wake to such carols of birds 
and sleep to their lullaby? 

Where else will trees so flare with flowers, 
And bulbuls sing in myriad bowers? 
Where else do choral bees so hum, 
dancing on the rose’s breast?— 
And, drinking her honey deep-embosomed, 
drowse in her nectar-nest? 

Where else will purl such cooling riils? 
Stand sentinels the mystic hills? 
Where else are meadows lost in trance 
on the marge of the marvel blue? 
Where else do seas of corn-blades ripple 
when murmuring breezes woo? 

Where else will brother’s and mother’s love 
Bend like the greeting heavens above? 
O Mother mine!—thy sacred feet 
I fold to my heart and kiss; 
I am born, thrice-blest, to thy home of beauty: 
may I die in that home of bliss. 
You will never find in the world che 
a land like our land of birt 
Queen of the continents is ae 
supremely fair on earth. 
(Translated from Dwijendralal’s famous song Amar 

err ee at ee ate 

Mandalay Central Jail, 

My dear Dilip, 

I was delighted to receive your letter dated, 24-3-25. 
It didn’t have to reach me this time through a process 
of “double distillation”’—to use your locution, which 
makes me feel happier still. 

. Your letter has touched such a tender chord in my 
heart that it is not easy for me to give an adequate 
reply by way of reciprocation. Besides, all I write has 
to pass through the censor’s hands, which, too, acts as 
a damper. For none cares to see the deepest articul- 
ation of his heart published in the light of day open to 
the scrutiny of all and sundry. So, much of what I 
have been thinking and feeling today behind the stone 
walls and prison-bars must remain unspoken for ever. 

It is quite natural for a man of your susceptibili- 
ties to feel outraged that so many should be retained 
in jail on an unknown charge. But since accept it we 
must as a fact, we might as well look into the matter from 
a spiritual standpoint. 

I cannot say that I would like to stay in a jail, for 
that would be unadulterated humbug....The whole 
atmosphere inside a jail tends, if anything, to pervert 
and dehumanise a human being; and I believe this 
must be true of all jails, more or less. I think the 
majority of convicts undergo a moral deterioration while 
in prison. After paving, boon the guset of s0 many jails 
I must confess my eyes have been opened to the urgent 
need of a radical reform of prison-life and in future I 
will feel obligated to help bring about such a reform. 
Indian jail regulations are a bad imitation of a bad model 
the British, even as the university of Calcutta is a bad 
imitation of London. 

What is most urgently called for is a new outlook 
based on sympathy for the convict. His wrong impul- 
ses must be regarded as symptomatic of a nevchoalo- 


accordingly. The penalising mood which may well be as- 
sumed to be the inspiration of jail prescriptions has to 
give place to a new orientation guided by a flair for true 

I do not think I could have looked upon a convict 
with the authentic eye of sympathy had I not lived 
personally as a prisoner. And I have not the least 
doubt that the production of our artists and litterateurs, 
generally, would stand to gain in ever so many ways 
could they win to some new experience of the prison- 
life. We do not perhaps realise the magnitude of the 
debt owed by Kazi Nazrul Islam’s verse to the living 
experience he had of jails. 

When I pause to reflect calmly, I feel the stivring 
of a certitude within that some Vast Purpose is at work 
in the core of our fevers and frustrations. Could only 
this faith preside over every moment of our conscious 
life wouldn’t our suffering lose its poignancy and bring 
us face to face with the ideal bliss even in a dungeon? 
But that is not possible yet, generally speaking. Which is 
why this duel must go on unremittingly between the 
soul and the body. 

Usually a kind of philosophic mood instils strength 
into our hearts in prison surroundings. In any event, 
I have taken my station there and what little I have read 
of philosophy superadded to my conception of life in 
general has stood me rather in good stead here. If a 
man can find sufficient food for contemplation then his 
incarceration need hardly hurt him much unless of 
course his health desert him. But our suffering is not 
merely spiritual—there is the rub—the body~—too—tms a 

say_in the business, so that even when the spiri Feel 
willing the flesh mi 

‘Lokamanya Tilak wrote out his commentary on 
the Gita while in prison. I can say with certainty that 
he spent his days in mental happiness. But, withal, 
his premature death was as certainly attributable to his 
six years’ detention in Mandalay Jail. 

But the enforced solitude in which a detenu 


into the ultimate problems of life. In any event, I can 
claim this for myself that many of the most tangled 
questions which whirl like eddies in our individual and 
collective life are edging gradually to the estuary of a 
solution. The things I could only puzzle out feebly, or 
the views I could only offer tentatively in days gone by, 
are crystallising out more and more presentably from 
day to day. It is for this reason, if for no other, that | 
feel I will be spiritually a gainer through my imprison- 

You have given my detention the name of martyr- 

dom. This only testifies to the sympathy native to your 
character as also to your nobility of heart. But since 
I have some sense of humor and proportion—I hope so, 
anyway—TI can hardly arrogate to myself the martyr’s 
high title. Against hauteur and conceit I want to be 
sleeplessly vigilant. How far I have achieved this it is 
for my friends to judge. At all events, martyrdom can 
only be an ideal so far as I am concerned. 
5 I have felt that the greatest tragedy for a convict 
who has to spend long years in prison is that old age 
creeps upon him unawares. He should therefore be 
specially on his guard. You cannot imagine how a 
fellow gets prematurely worn-out in body and in mind 
while serving a long sentence. Doubtless a variety of 
causes are responsible for this: lack of good food, exer- 
cise and life’s amenities; segregating; a sense of cramp- 
ed subordination; dearth of friends; and last, though by 
no means least, absence of music. There are some 
gaps which a man may fill from within, but there are 
others which can be only filled from without. To be 
denied these is not a little responsible for ageing before 
one’s time. In the Alipore Jail musical entertain- 
ments are provided every week for the European pri- 
soners; not so here, for the likes of us.... 

I should not omit to mention that to a detenu the 
goodwill and sympathy of his friends and relations and 
the general public can, indeed, be a source of sustenance. 
Although the influence of such imvonderables is 4 

realise how it is not a whit the less real for all that. 
There is here a difference between the hardness of lot 
of.a political prisoner and a common convict. The 
former is sure of his welcome back into the fold of society. 
Not so the latter....To me such a state of affairs seems 
anything but satisfactory. Why shouldn’t a civilised 
community feel for these unhappy men? 

I could go on filling pages registering my thoughts 
and experiences of prison-life. But after all a letter 
must come to a terminus some time. If I had a surplus 
of initiative left I might have written a whole book on 
Indian jails. But just at present I lack the strength 
adequate to such a task. 

I am inclined to think that the suffering in jail-life 
is less physical than mental. When the blows dealt, of 
insult and humiliation, are not too brutal, the torments 
of prison-life do not become so hard to bear....But 
lest we forget too readily our outer material existence 
and conjure up an ideal world of bliss within, they will 
deal us these blows to waken us to our bleak and joy- 
less surroundings. 

You write you are getting daily a sadder if not a 
wiser man to contemplate how our earth is soaked by 
tears of humanity from crust to centre. But. then these 
tears are not all of pain and anguish: there are drops of 
compassion and love as well. Would you really decline 
to traverse the shoals of pain and suffering if you knew 
there were richer tides of bliss waiting? So far as I am 
concerned I see little warrant for pessimism or despon- 
dency. On the contrary, I feel, sorrow and suffer- 
ing should impel us to courage for a higher fulfilment. 
Do you think what you win without pain and struggle 
has any lasting value? 

I received the books you had sent. I won’t be 
able to return these as there is a considerable circle of 
readers here. It is hardly necessary to add that more 
such books will be welcome—yours being a_ beautiful 
choice, always. 

I I a ae 


Mandalay Central Jail, 

My dear Dilip, 

After my last letter I have received in all.three 
letters from you so far, dated, May 6, May 15, June 15. 

I am in receipt also of the parcel of books you sent, 
with the sole exception of Turgenev’s Smoke. The 
parcel was opened in the office, so I have asked our 
Superintendent to look into the matter. 

I left behind Bertrand Russell’s Prospects of Indus- 
trial Civilisation in Berhampore whence I was transferred 
her. Quite a group of my fellow prisoners were eager 
about keeping the book. But Russell’s Free Thought and 
Official Propaganda isn’t with me. You never sent it, 
‘did you? 

I thank you, Dilip, for selecting books for me. We 
all hope the work you have started will fare famously, 
God willing. I need hardly tell you that your own writ- 
ing I will read with the respect it deserves. But do see 
to the get-up of your books, for it should leave nothing 
to be desired. 

You can imagine what dominates my thought today. 
I believe there is but one thought in all minds now: 
the death of our great Deshbandhu. When I first read 
the news in print I could hardly credit my eyes. But 
alas, the report is cruelly true. Ours is indeed an ill- 
starred nation. 

The thoughts that are running riot in my mind to- 
day must remain unvoiced although sometimes I feel like 
publishing them if only to get some reprieve. But they 
are too sacred and precious to be shared with strangers 
-—and the Censor is worse than a stranger. So I will 
only say that if for the e the loss is irreparable, 
for the youth of Bengal it is cataclysmic, appalling. 

TT ee Hanan cottls connie wat: haseaweenant- Tine T 


of memory that it is impossible for me just now to write 
something about him analysing his great qualities. I 
hope when the time comes I will be able to give the 
world some idea of the glimpses I had of him in his un- 
guarded moments as I watched him at close range. There 
must be a good many like me who, though they know 
a great deal about him, yet do not feel equal to writing 
about it all lest through vocal praise they diminish the 
stature of his outstanding nobility. 

When you say, roundly, that the last residue of pain 
and sorrow is not suffering, I am at one with you. There 
are certain tragedies in life—like the one mentioned just 
now—which I cannot acclaim. Being neither a sage nor 
a humbug, I cannot declare that all kinds of affliction are 
acceptable to me. At the same time, it has often made 
me pause to think that there are a few unfortunates 
(they may indeed be fortunate for all we know!) who 
seem to be born as targets for flings of Fate of every 
description. But leaving aside this question of degree I 
may say that if some must drain to the dregs the cup of 
sorrow, it were better if they drank the potion in a spirit 
of self-surrender. For even if we admit that such a spirit 
may not withstand, like a Chinese wall, the assaults of 
destity,it must, for all that, greatly heighten our ha- 
tiital powers of fortitude. When Russell says there are 
tragedies which men would be spared if they could, he 
only speaks for the typical worldling. For I believe that 
a stainless saint—or his polar opposite, the mountebank 
—will disown such a statement. 

But T wonder if you are right in holding that those 
who are neither philosophic nor thoughtful meet in pain 
nothing but pain. For éven the unphilosophic (I call 
them so from the abstract point of view) may have an 
idealism of their own which they will cherish and love 
as a thing to be worshipped. When these are up against 
pain and sorrow they derive their courage and hope 
from their source of adoratien. Among those who are 
' with me bearing up against the suffering of jail-life, there 
are some who are neither thougshiful nor vhilosonhic. 


may not be philosophic in the common acceptation of the 
term, but you can hardly class them as aliens to the 
world of ideas. Probably this applies more or less to all 
who are activists by temperament, the world over. 

My eyes have opened not a little through a study of 
the criminal psychology. When I was jailed, in 1922, a 
convict used to work in our yard as a servant. At that 
time I used to live in the same room with Deshbandhu. 
His heart of tenderness went all out to the fellow, albeit 
he was an old hand, having had already eight previous 
convictions to his credit. None the less, he left uncon- 
sciously drawn towards Deshbandhu till he became ex- 
ceedingly attached to his master. When Deshbandhu 
was released he asked his devotee to go straight to his 
house at the expiry of his term, shunning even the sha- 
dow of his old comrades in crime. The poor wretch ac- 
quiesced and, subsequently, was as good as his word, 
You will be surprised to learn that the man who had 
been a felon all his life has been living in our great lea- 
der’s house ever since and though he does sometimes re- 
vert to his tantrums still, yet roundly, he is today a dif- 
ferent man altogether, living a harmless enough life 
with the rest. I have no doubt that he is among those 
on whom the blow of this bereavement has fallen at its 
heaviest. Some say the greatness of a man were best 
judged through his little acts, little things. On this cri- 
terion too Deshbandhu must be adjudged a great soul 
even if you reckoned without his great service to the 

I have divagated....I have not been able yet to ans- 
wer your letter fully. But I shall have to cry halt here 
if I mean to catch today’s mail which I must because 
I know you will be anxious to have tidings of me. More 
in my next. 

Ever affectionately yours, 


Mandalay Jail, 
My dear Dilip, 

My last letter to you was unfinished and I intended 
to follow it up with another one the next week. But a 
terrible calamity intervened—which swept us off our 
feet. Even today I do not know where I stand and I 
am sure the feelings of all are much the same—though 
in my case there is an irrecoverable personal loss to 
deepen my misery, as well as a double dose of bondage 
to heighten my suffering. -The_sense of personal loss 
may_wane with the passage of time, bu m sure that 
the magnitude of the loss to thé public will become more 
and more manifest as the days roll by. So versatile was 

-his talent and so many-sided his activities, that people 
in different and widely separate spheres will be hard hit 
by the loss. I used to criticise him by saying that he 
had too many irons in the fire—but creative spirits do 
not submit to pragmatic or logical limitations and I have 
no doubt that it was only the fullness of life and realisa- 
tion that impelled him to attempt reconstruction in so 
many different spheres of our national life. 

You all had at least the opportunity of paying your 
last homage and even now you can find some solace in 
trying to perpetuate his memory. But it has pleased God 
to drive home into our minds a feeling of utter destitu- 
tion as a result of confinement in remote Mandalay dur- 
ing such a crisis as this. It is only because I am exceed- 
ingly optimistic by temperament that I can still main- 
tain my equilibrium. It is difficult to find adequate ex- 
pression when one’s feelings are stirred to their depths 
and I shall therefore pass on to something else. 

How far have you proceeded with your books? Are 
they in the press? When do you expect them to be out? 
Why don’t you write a treatise in English (for the bene- 
Pa -f 22) _ et. Lae ae. yey ae a 



I wrote to Rudra some time ago conveying my sym- 
pathy on his bereavement. I have not heard from him 
in reply yet. Do you hear from him? 

Could you send us a complete set of the books of 
your great father? We want to read them over again. If you 
can, you may send them direct to the Superintendent of 
this Jail along with a letter (containing the names of the 
books) intimating him about the despatch of the books. 
All our letters have to pass the Calcutta Office but the 
Superintendent of the Jail is empowered to censor books. 
So you may save time by sending literature direct to 
him. By the way, have you been able to trace Tur- 
geneiv’s Smoke? I have been informed by the Calcutta 
C.I.D. that no such book was sent to them. I shall be 
sorry if the book is really missing. 

Though the climate of the place does not agree with 
me, I am feeling happier from day to day. Problems 
which to me were unsolved seem to be nearing solution. 
And I must thank solitude and distance from home for 
giving me that detached viewpoint which is necessary for 
the solution of many of our problems. If I had been 
more fit physically, I would have profited more by my 
enforced exile, but as things stand I still hope to make 
the most of my stay here. Burma is in many respects a 
wonderful country and my study of Burmese life and 
civilization is furnishing me with many new ideas, Their 
various shortcomings notwithstanding, I consider the 
Burmese—like the Chinese—to be considerably advanced 
from a social point of view. 

What they do lack most of all is initiative—what Berg- 
son would call “elan vital”, the vital impulse to over- 
come all obstacles and march along the road to progress. 
They have developed a perfect social democracy—wo- 
men, by the way, are more powerful here than in any 
European country—but alas, the enervating climate 
seems to have robbed them of all initiative. Abundance 
of crops in a sparsely populated country has for cen- 
turies past made living easy in Burma—with the inevi- 
table result that slackness of mind and bodv seems to 


that once they are able to develop sufficient initiative, 
there will be no limit to their progress, 

You probably know that the percentage of literate 
people in Burma, both among males and females, is more 
than in any other part of India. This is due to the in- 
digenous and wonderfully cheap system of primary edu- 
cation through the agency of the priests. In Burma, 
even today, every boy is supposed to don the yellow robe 
for a few months, if not for a few years, and to study 
at the feet of the priests. This system has not only an 
educative and moral value but has a levelling effect as 
well—since rich and poor are thus brought together. 
There is thus an extensive system of primary education 
which hardly costs anything. 

In your last letter you seem to assume that the un- 
philosophic are doomed to suffer in their confinement. 
This is not wholly true. There are people who are in- 
spired by idealism of some kind but who are unphiloso- 
phic. During the last war innumerable people went 
through suffering and pain of every kind, who were in- 
spired by love of country but were altogether unphilo- 
sophic. As long as that idealism is present,I-beliexe a 
man can br i ith €quanimity—and even joy. 

ave-suffering-with équanimit 
Of couroe one Who if “phtiosupbically inclined gan Toro 
his suffering-te-e-higher purpose, enriching himself there- 
by.” But then is it not true that we are all philosophers 
inembryo and it only requires a touch of suffering to 
awaken the philosophic impulse? 

I shall stop here for the present and hope that you 
will send me an early reply. With love and good wishes 
to you and remembrances to all my kind friends. 


Ever yours affectionately, 



Mandalay Central Jail, 
My dear Dilip, 

Never think that my vision is narrow or parochial. 
I do, indeed, believe in the “greatest good of the greatest 
number”, But that good I do not equate to the purely 
material, Economists say that all work is either pro- 
ductive or unproductive. But the question which of 
these are really productive gives rise to furious logo- 
machines, I for one cannot look upon art and its kindred, 
activities as unproductive, nor despise philosophic contem-. 
plation or spiritual quest as futile and pointless. I may 
not be an artist myself—to tell you the truth, I know 
I am not—-but for that it isn’t I who am responsible, it 
is nature or God if you will. Of course if you say that 
I am reaping in this birth what I sowed in my last, then 
I go to the wall. Leaving it at that, the real reason, in 
a nut-shell, why I did not shape into an artist is: I 
couldn’t. But this does not mean, mind you, that a lay- 
man is debarred even from enjoying art. And the amount 
of training necessary to a proper appreciation of an art 
isn’t, I think, hard to acquire for a cultivated person. 

Do not sigh regretfully that you have been wasting 
your days on music when, to put it in Shakespeare’s 
language, “the time is out of joint”. Flood our whole 
countryside, my friend, with songs and recapture for life 
the spontaneous joy we have forfeited. He who has no 
music in his composition, whose heart is dead to music, 
is unlikely to achieve anything big or great in life. Car- 
lyle_used to say that he who had no throb of music in 
his blood was capable of any misdeed-—"Whéther this be 
true or no, I am persuaded thaf tie who cannot respond 
to music can never scale heights of thought or action. 
We want that the experience of ananda—sheer causeless 
delight—should quicken every drop of our blood, because 



But we must make the artistic and its kindred joys 
amenable to the poorest of the poor. High research in 
music will, of necessity, continue in small expert coteries, 
but simultaneously, music must be dispensed as a spiri- 
tual pabulum of the masses. Just as the high ideals of 
art are stultified through lack of adequate research, even 
so, art must wilt when, sundered from the life-soil. of 
the masses, it is made inaccessible to all and sundry. I 
think art joins up with life through folk-music and folk- 
dance. The Western civilization has hewed away this is- 
thmus between the two continents, of art and life, with- 
out substituting anything in its place. Our jatra, katha- 
kata, kirtan,* etc. survive today almost as relics of the 
past. One shudders to think of the poverty of life that 
must ensue if our artists and musicians fail to restore 
the connection between art and life. You may remem- 
ber I told you once how fascinated I had been by the 
beauty of the gambhira music of Maldah. In it music is 
happily blended with dance. I do not know of any other 
province in Bengal where such a happy union has been 
effected. But in Maldah it is sure to die away soon un- 
less, first, new vitality be injected into it and, in the 
second place, people in-other parts of Bengal come for- 
ward to take it up. You ought to visit the place once 
if only to give a fillip to the folk-music of Bengal. I 
warn you though that gambhira has little or no element 
of complexity ox grandeur about it. Its salient features 
are spontaneity,-and simplicity. Our indigenous music 
and dance of the people still survive, I think, in Maldah 
alone. So those who would revive such folk-art may as 
well start work from there. . 

From the point of view of folk-music and folk-dance 
Burma is a marvellous country. Pure native dance and 
music are in full swing here and they cater for tens of 
thousands, zigzagging deep into the heart of remote vil- 

* Jatra=folk-dramas played in the open under a pandal where 
there is no stage set, the audience and the actors occupying the 
same level area. Kirtan—devotional dramatic music where Krishna 
and Radha figure in the main. Kathakata—mythological cages or 


Jages. After having mastered the different idioms of our 
Indian music you may as well study the Burmese. It 
may not be an evolved art, but its capacity of delighting 
the illiterate poor has, somehow, appealed to me, I am 
told that their dance, too, is very beautiful. Further- 
more, its art is not confined to select coteries, because, 
I imagine, there is no caste system in Burma. (As a 
result art here has infiltrated everywhere.) And pro- 
bably. also because folk-music and folk-dance have al- 
ways had a tremendous vogue in this country. So the 
common folk have won to a deeper understanding of 
beauty than the Indian. 

T echo all you write about Deshbandhu as also your 
remark that the innate nobility of a man is revealed more 
through little private incidents of his life than through 
his public activities or political achievements caught up 
in the lime-light. In fact I gave him my heart’s deep 
adhesion and reverent love not so much because I hap- 
pened to be his follower in the arena of politics, as be- 
cause I had come to know him rather intimately in his 
private life. He had no family, properly speaking, out- 
side that of his colleagues and adherents. Once we lived 
together in jail for eight months: for two months in the 
same cell, for six in adjacent ones. I took refuge at his 
feet because I came to know him thus through a very 
close relationship. 

I subscribe to most of what you write about Sri 
Aurobindo, if not to all. He is a dhyani (a contempla- 
tive) and, I feel, goes even deeper than Vivekananda, 
though I have a profound reverence for the latter. So 
I agree with you when you say that one may from time 
to time—and, on occasion, for a-long spell—remain with- 
drawn in silent contemplation in perfect seclusion. But 
here there is a danger: the active side of a man might 
get atrophied if he remained cut off for too long from 
the tides of life and society. This need not, indeed, apply 
to a handful of authentic seekers of uncommon genius, 
but the common run, the majority, ought, I think, to take 
to action in a spirit of service as the main plank of their 



sliding pauselessly down to the zero line in the sphere of 
action; so what we badly need today is a double dose of 
the activist serum, rajas. 

I say ditto to you again when you say that each of 
us must strive to develop his powers to their fulness. 
Real service is only achieved when we dedicate what is 
the best in our composition. Not till our inner being, 
our swadharma, has fulfilled itself, shall we have won 
through to our inalienable right, adhikar, to what I call 
real service. To put it in the language of Emerson, we 
must be moulded from within. This does not mean that 
we all have to tread the same path, though it is possible 
that the same ideal may inspire us all. The artist’s sadhana 
is not the same as the activist’s, no more than the con- 
templative’s sadhana is the same as the savant’s, though 
I think, in the last analysis, the ideals of all are one. 
But in the practical field of self-realisation I wouldn’t put 
a round peg in a square hole. One who was true to one- 
self could hardly be false to humanity. The nature of 
each must indicate the clue to the path that is his, the 
path that leads to his self-amelioration and self-expansion. 
If each of us could fulfil himself following his native ca- 
pacity and temperament, then a new sunrise would out- 
break over the entire life of the nation. It is, indeed, 
possible that a man may have to lead, during a parti- 
cular phase of his sadhana*, a life which looks on the sur- 
face like selfishness or ego-centricism. But while he is 
passing through that phase he must follow the dictates 
of his own conscience—not those of public opinion. The 
public shall not judge till the results of the sadhana are 
published. Consequently, once you choose to tread the 
true path of self-unfoldment you may well ignore public 
opinion. So you see we are much less at variance with 
eath other than you seem to think. 

Yours ever affectionately, 

* Sadhana—originally. spiritual discipline. aSkesis: now-a-davs 



Dilip, : 
I was very glad to receive your letter. Subhash’s 
letter is very beautiful. I was delighted to contact 
through it his heart and intellect. All that he has 
written about art is unexceptionable. Artists and con- 
noisseurs build their crystal homes on the summit pla- 
teaus of art. It is idle to hope that all and sundry will 
climb up there easily. It is because the multi-coloured 
and multi-savoured clouds confer together on the 
heights that the plains get the benefit of their fertilising 
showers. It is only in this way that the commonalty join 
hands with rare spirits which could not be achieved if 
you dwarfed the heights so that these might always mate 
with the plains. Those who are creators of rasa* could 
only take orders from all on pain of shipwreck. They 
can take orders from none other than the Supreme Resi- 
dent of the heart, and, once this is done, when they suc- 
ceed in fashioning things of beauty for all times, then 
these must come automatically within the ambit of en- 
joyment of all. To say that all have this right is not to 
say that all can profit by it here and now—good things 
are not so cheap as all that. The spring-blooms petal, 
indeed, equally for all, but can one therefore argue that 
they are appreciated by all and sundry? Can one blame 
it upon the poor mango-blossoms which open after win- 
ter if the majority ignore them? Shall we say to them: 
“Why couldn’t you become gourds’’—or “In a poor 
country it were silly to grow jasmines since there it 
would be the moral duty of all flowers to yield place to 
brinjals’’? I say: may the jasmine wait for ages till the 
philistine who ignores her today may learn to respond 
rather than try to change herself overnight into tama- 
rind, disheartened by the disapproval of stern humani- 

* Rasa—the essence of things whose nature is to afford delight. 
The word has been translated also as “aesthetic emotion which ins- 
pires ecstasy.” Originally the word was almost synonymous with 
ananda (e.g., raso vai sah—“he is the essence of ananda, bliss”) 
but such words (ananda, rasa, sadhana, swadharma, samskara, 
bhava: etc.) are untranslatable in the last analysis: the only way 
ta pntarctisvul Abin fe. tr Atkin: Seb ahi ccdiantabiioss dhe Ineea 


tarians. If you respect the masses and go on supplying 
them with things of quality, then, by and by, their minds 
must grow more and more sensitive to the quality. Let 
us appeal to the poet: “May you give us only of your 
very best, without an after-thought.” And to the pub- 
lic, should the poet so succeed: “May you learn to ac- 
cept what is of the best”. Those who are artists and 
creators of rasa can only own to two distinctions: au- 
thentic or counterfeit, good or bad: they know not how 
to winnow out the élite’s food from the rabble’s. It is 
broadcast sonorously that Shakespeare was a poet of the 
Common Man. But is Hamlet the pabulum of the man 
in the street? I do not know for which type Kalidas 
wrote his poetry; but he is universally cherished as a 
poet. But there again, may I not humbly ask whether 
it would not be a penal offence if his Cloud-Messenger 
were to be recited in every village to a gathering of 
gaping yolkeels? Had the advocate of Common Man de- 
posed King Vikramaditya and constrained his court-poet 
Kalidas to compose to order, would the Lord of Eternity 
have tolerated the doggerel that would have supplanted 
Cloud-Messenger (Meghadut)? Should you ask me for 
a solution to this poser, I would say that Kalidas’s Megh- 
dut was meant, indeed, for the delectation of the Com- 
mon Man, but it is part of the presiding élite’s obliga- 
tion to educate him to be able to enjoy such master- 
pieces. Nay, the poet is not duty-bound to strike sparks 
of cheap assonance in place of his inspired love-lyrics 
on the specious argument that these will not go down 
with the Common Man. Affectation is reprehensible 
everywhere, but to contend that whatever tickles all is 
authentic and what appeals only to a cultivated sensibi- 
lity is the reverse is to argue like a sophist. It is be- 
cause we have little reverence for the commonalty that 
in a festival of rasa we prescribe for them a cheap re- 
past of curd and fried rice and reserve the delicacies for 
those we call aristocrats. Because we pooh-pooh child- 
ren, the task of turning out juvenile literature is rele- 
gated to blunt literarv boors who hold that-to ane the 


pect children and that is why I provide real literature 
for them when I teach them in my school, to wit, literature 
meant for everybody’s enjoyment. Of course I have to 
take care that they may be able to take in the rasa of 
the literature provided, but I can’t admit to having fail- 
ed here. I need hardly have laboured the point to you, 
but when garrulity ripens into a habit, one seldom knows 
when io cry halt when discoursing with friends. Any- 
how, you have delighted me so much by sending me 
Subhash’s letter that for sheer gratefulness I had to 
write at such an unconscionable length notwithstanding 
a gash I made in my first finger a little while ago.* 
Yours affectionately, 
Rabindranath Tagore 


Netaji’s spectacular resignation from the I.C.S. 
swiftly fired the imagination of the Indian students in 
England, so much so that some verbose patriot-fanciers 
in London sent him a framed address. A student, burn- 
ing to paint the town red and aspiring to outblaze the 
rest, proposed to me that we lead a procession on horse- 
back, with him at our head, before the Buckingham 
Palace. A third broke out into white-hot poetry and 
wrote, d la Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade 
(Subhash was about to tear it off to pieces when I snatch- 
ed it away from him): 

Bullets all round him hiss, 

But fall his feet to kiss, 

This occasion we never can miss: 
To thee, O hero, we bow! 

On, on the tyrants to fight! 

Behold: gone, gone is the night! 

Trample on them in delight! 
Hark! calls the new sun-glow! 

Subhash used to redden to the roots of his hair when- 
ever his admirers let themselves go like this. He used 

* Translated by the author from the Poet’s original letter 
written in Bengali. 


to comment, scathingly, that such “soda-water efferves- 
cences” got none anywhere—only staking one’s all for 
the Motherland could deliver the goods. But I used to 
demur (as I have always liked people “to enthuse over 
his great emotions, noble achievements and indomitable 
courage): “You may brand all such effusions as irrele- 
vant, but great deeds, enthusiastically acclaimed, do 
create values and traditions. Read Plutarch’s Lives: 
how oratory used to make history in those days.” 

Subhash would shake his head ruefully and protest 
vehemently: “Emotionalism, even slogan-building, may 
help, on occasion; but I prefer real solid work and sacri- 
fice. You have known so many Indian students here. 
Tell me, how many have you met who really burn to 
stake anything for our country? Ninety-nine per cent 
of them go abroad to win a degree either to get a good 
job cr to become a lawyer, don’t they? Pooh! When 
such careerists talk of ‘bullets’ and ‘fight to the death’ 
do they not become the laughing-stocks of the whole 
world?’’ s 

Against pseudo-patriots and fire-eaters he used al- 
ways to inveigh in this strain—emphasising how cheap 
was all this gush over things that caught the eye. He 
used always to place application—nishtha—and solid or- 
ganising work far above rhetoric and would end up 
with: “To win to freedom is not a joke, Dilip! You re- 
member Rabindranath’s lines: 

Auspicious conchs, friend, never shall announce, 
Thy home-coming; nor the tender candle-light 
Welcome thee ever at night, 
Nor thy heart’s darling’s passing sweet 
Tearful love-lit eyes thee greet. 
For thee at every bend shall wait and boom 
The thunder-clouds when shadows loom. 
(Gharer mangal shankha nahe tor tare 
Nahe re sandhyar dipalok 
Nahe preyasir ashru-chokh 
Pathe pathe apekschiche kalbaishakhir ashirvad 
Shravan ratrir bairanad) 


In the context of his subsequent lonely death in a 
foreign land with the name of the Motherland on his 
lips, his early love for these memorable lines becomes 
invested with a deeper significance. It shows him up as 
the Leader to be, a man who not only lived what he 
preached but about whom one may well say with truth 
that cannot be challenged: 

No demon night could tame your 
Flame-hunger for freedom’s bliss; 
The lesser loves you spurned for 
Your Motherland’s welcome kiss, 
With a courage that cowards derided, 
But won the homage of all 
Who caught a spark from your fiery 
Heart that had answered Her call, 
You stormed our hovels of slumber 
With your mystic bugle of dawn 
To awaken us to our birthright, 
Singing: “We will march on 
To the Orient of a New Sunrise 
Of inviolate Liberty; 
We'll die for India’s glory 
And live everlastingly.” 

I wrote this tribute to his memory on his 67th birth- 
day (1963), and I feel sure that those who had known 
him intimately will endorse my estimate of him whole- 
heartedly as of a man who lived what he preached and 
that is why he could wean us from our dismal card- 
houses of slumber. In his Reminiscences Shri S. A. 
Ayer summed up his speeches in Malaya and Burma. In 
one speech Netaji said to his soldiers: 

“There can be no halfway house. You must all be- 
come freedom-mad. None of you dare think in terms 
of giving only five per cent or ten per cent of your 
wealth to prosecute this war of India’s independence. 
The tens of thousands of men who have come forward 
to swell the liberation army do not bargain by saying 
that they will shed only five per cent or ten per cent of 




their blood on the battle-field. Give up your all for In- 

dia’s freedom and become beggars, and if that is not 

enough, give up your lives too. Even that is not too much 

Ms a sacrifice, Give me your blood and I promise you free- 

And how compulsive could be such an exhortation of 
fire! Shah Nawaz told us one of the most moving stories of 
heroism, inspired by this speech of Netaji’s, especially 
by the last sentence I have cited. What happened was 
that when Netaji’s army returned from Imphal after the 
sad reverses, a British bomber plane bombed the help- 
less weary army in rags. A splinter maimed a brave 
boy and he bled profusely. Shah Nawaz cried out: 
“Bandage the boy’s severed leg at once.” But the boy 
replied: “No, no, let it bleed, for Netaji has said that if 
we give him our blood he will give us freedom.’ 

Not for nothing had Netaji rehearsed in his dauntless 
heart for years: Mantrer sadan kimba sharir ‘patan: 

Pll achieve my Goal—I cry, 
And, failing, I’m vowed to die. 


During our three months’ stay in New York, in 1953, 
we were invited once—on April 28—to attend the exhi- 
bition of a documentary film on Indian Independence, to 
be showed to a predominantly American audience. 

One by one, the great leaders of our National Con- 
gress flashed out on the screen and were introduced to 
the Americans by the official announcer. A great ap- 
plause rang out in the auditorium when Mahatma Gan- 
dhi appeared and was described by the epithet, Father 
of the Nation. We were all strangely affected by his 
familiar figure, in loin-cloth, exuding an aroma of sinceri- 
ty and nobility. Goethe has said: “Wer fremde Sprache 


nicht kennt, weiszt nichts von seiner eigenen.’’ (He who 
has not learnt a foreign language knows not his mother 
tongue.) Even so, I reflected that evening, one knows 
not one’s great men till one sees them from the distant 
perspective of a foreign land across the sea. 

But I was thrilled to the soul when my nonpareil 
friend, Subhash Chandra Bose, our Netaji, flashed out on 
the creen: his rapt face, bewitching smile, graceful ges- 
tures, wistful eyes, aristocratic gait—everything made me 
catch my breath when, suddenly, I winced as the commen- 
tator summed him up as one who could not achieve what 
the Father of the Nation did all by himself through his 
pet non-violence, ahimsa. 

I felt like protesting then and there, the more so as 
I had heard the identical judicial arm-chair verdict be- 
fore in my homeland. I wrote about Netaji afterwards, 
a few years later in my “Reminiscences” (in Bengali, 
entitled Smriti-charan). I will give here the gist of my 
vindication of this great son of modern India. 

No one who has seriously pondered over all that 
Netaji stood for (and tried impartially to appraise his 
achievement against his aspiration) can help but be im- 
pressed by the legacy of life-giving inspiration he has 
left for all times, nor dare deny that he brought nearer 
the day of Indian Swaraj by a decade at the very least. 
Men with missions are not born in shoals in any age or 
clime, and the high-born ones who can live for a high 
ideal, staking everything men cherish at one throw of the 
dice, are still rarer phenomena in this our world of dust 
and din, pelf and self. Netaji belonged to just such a 
Pleiad of flame-intoxicated souls who are born to show 
us how to answer the call of the Flame with the flame 
of our fire-pledged hearts. 

But it is not a mere metaphorical cadence of the fire 
that his resonant answer has bequeathed to us. For 
he was not only a dream minstrel but a wide-awake rea- 
list as well, and, above all, a mystic martyr who paved 
the way. to Indian independence by his storm-defiant | 
courage and incredible thirst for grinding labour, a thirst 

a PN ee, eae x re tes abOur, & irs 


broke down in the jail over and over again. We all re- 
member how vibrant with emotion his voice sounded and 
how it would tune our heart-strings in a moment to the 
pitch of his mystic patriotism whenever his hortatory ap- 
peal would be wafted on the wings of the Radio from 
Berlin, Singapore, Tokyo or Rangoon. We did not at 
the time know much about the Indian Army he had rais- 
ed in Malaya for the liberation of our country. But a few 
dangerous sparks of his incandescent love of freedom and 
breath-taking audacity were enough to set our souls 
aflame as soon as his warm exhortation over the wireless 
started scattering heat. And, as he went on speaking 
regularly, appealing to our patriotism, the hearts of thou- 
sands of Indian soldiers caught fire all over the country 
exactly in the way he had prophetically anticipated. In 
the beginning, our haughty rulers had not taken his in- 
flammatory speeches seriously. But when—in 1945—two 
bitter naval mutinies broke out one after the other in 
Karachi and Bombay through the delayed action of his 
war-time speeches, they awoke from their sleep of com- 
placency and realised their mistake. Fearful and ner- 
vous, they whispered then in India and England: “Who 
knows? Another sepoy mutiny may be in the offing!?’ 
But, alas, it is a historical fact that though we teach 
history we learn nothing from history till fear comes to 
show us how to glean wisdom from our past folly. So, 
the British Bureaucracy, with a flourish of fanfare, an- 
nounced bravely that they were going to try three of our 
brave I.N.A. officers—Sahgal, Dhillon and Shah Nawaz 
in Delhi Red Fort. . The announcement having been 
made directly after Netaji’s reported death abroad, it 
caused, naturally, an instant upheaval in the Indian army 
all over the country, so much so that not a few sepoys 
contributed to the fund that was being raised for the 
defence. of the trio who made history. And as the trial 
was reported in the Indian papers which espoused their 
cause ‘boldly, the three accused on trial shone haloed 
. with .the glory of would-be martyrs instead of traitor de- 

serters. The result. was that even loyal soldiers woke 
upn._ stirred tn theixe darnthe 4200.L.3 0. n1  °&2x2=+€g-0 


which Netaji, the martyr, had kindled in their hearts. 
This is not an over-drawn picture for it was bruited about 
everywhere that India would submit no more to the hu- 
miliation of having its patriot officers convicted as cri- 
minals. No less a personality than Pandit Nehru said 
openly on August 20, 1945: “The punishment given’ to 
them would in effect be a punishment on all India and 
a deep wound would be created in millions of hearts.” 
And there were many other things which added fuel to 
fire: Netaji’s admirers, singing his praises, swelled into a 
choral choir; a film in which he figured—which had been 
smuggled out of Singapore—was being shown privately 
in different places in India; stories of his having actually 
fought on Indian soil with his army of liberation began 
to be widely circulated and some of his inflammatory radio 
speeclier from Germany and Burma were cited far and 

No wonder the volte face came suddenly as it hap- 
pens so often in history: after the leonine roar of Chur- 
chill (“I have not come to preside over the liquidation 
of the British Empire!”), the next Prime Minister, Attlee, 
offered meekly to hand over India to Indians while the 
die-hard John Bull, who had hissed at Gandhiji dubbing 
him “the naked fafir’, looked on wringing his hands in 
helpless fury at the aureole that deepened from day to 
day round the head of “that lunatic” Bose. But, alas, 
the powers that be seldom appraise the far repercussions 
of a ‘lunatic’ deed blest by Dame Destiny. So, it was 
Netaji’s midsummer madness (which had fathered the 
battle-cry Delhi chalo) that came to sway the time-old 
loyal pillars of the British Empire: the sepoys who were 
suspected to be hatching a second mutiny within a cen- 
Incidentally, I may mention that Netaji was wont to 
call the mutiny of 1857 a misnomer. He wrote in 1934 in 
his famous book, The Indian Struggle, that at-first we 
had not realised “the real character and role of the Bri- 
tishers who came to India”, and that as soon as it was 
borne home to us that they had come “to conquer and 



volution broke out in 1857, which has been incorrectly 
called by English historians ‘the Sepoy Mutiny’, but which 
is regarded by the Indian people as the First War of 
Independence.” (The Indian Struggle, 1920-1942, Chap. 
20). So, many among us, gasping in awe and wonder, 
raised the cry that Netaji had irrevocably initiated the 
Second War of Independence at the time when he an- 
nounced the birth of the Indian National Army in Malaya 
in 1943. These admirers and slogan-builders now began 
freely to circulate the big rumour that the English re- 
port of his death was a black lie and that he was going 
to erupt like a volcano in India (even as he had done 
in Singapore) as soon as the hour was ripe for an armed 
insurrection. This rumour did hearten us all—and in 
especial, the disgruntled sepoys—at the time of the I.N.A. 
trial. The point I want to make is that it was Netaji’s 
spetacular achievement abroad, of recruiting an army, 
that had ignited the first spark of revolt in the heart of 
many a sepoy, a revolt which threatened to assume 
overnight the proportions of a country-wide conflagra- 
tion. Had this not been so, the British would never have 
come down from their haughty heights to offer us in- 
dependence on a plate with the cresses of that round- 
table smile of sympathetic understanding; in other words, 
had not Netaji infected our troops with his dare-devil 
Delhi-Chalo barrier-blasting bugle, our freedom would 
have been delayed by a decade at the very least. 

And this is not the verdict of a mere “hero-worshipp- 
ing friend”—as I have been called by some adverse cri- 
tics of Netaji. Mr. Hugh Toye, too, who has seldom 
erred on the side of leniency when judging Netaji in 
his biography of the “Springing Tiger,”* has not only 
agreed substantially with me, but has done me the honour 
of quoting me with approval, as well (p. 175): 

There can be little doubt that the Indian National 
Army, not in its unhappy career on the battle-field, 
but in its thunderous disintegration, hastened the 

“ Mr. Toye’s biography is entitled The Spri ging Tiger; the 
title as well as the picture of the nameing Hoar oe wk 

Pa oi ae es 


end of the British rule in India. The agitation which 
surrounded the trials turned the issue of independ- 
ence for India into an instant, burning question once 
more. ‘Subhash’s suddenly amplified figure,’ says 
Dilip Kumar Roy, ‘added to the romance of an Indian 
Army marching singing to Delhi, galvanised a frus- 
trated nation out of its torpor, and substantially dam- 
aged the insulation of the Indian Army from the 
magnetic currents of popular enthusiasm for imme- 
diate independence.’ 

But Netaji accomplished this feat not only because 
of the lime-light of romance that Dame Destiny had focus- 
ed on her fearless son, with the song of a new morn on 
his lips, but also by dint of his innate greatness of char- 
acter, not to mention his magnetic personality which 
could attract masses to flock to his banner of revolt. And 
he did electrify them into a reckless courage that laughed 
perils to scorn. Otherwise even his hard critic Mr. Toye 
would not have conceded so handsomely (The Springing 
Tiger, p. 177): 

There was no_lack of physical courage, he could 
stand as straight as any under aerial bombs or bul- 
ets, The escape from India, the journey to the Far 
East, needa pront spinit--He mmaittainied a brave in- 
dependence he Japanesé... it is something to 
be sure of oneself, to stake all on one’s own judgment. 
Many of Bose’s weaknesses were the weaknesses of 
his single-minded strength. For_mosi, the persona- 
Ty of he aa Wa Ne there was a genius 
of enthusiasm, of inspiration. Men found that when 

ey were with him only the cause mattered, saw 
only through his eyes, thought the thoughts he gave 

\ them, Rabmdranath iled him as 
the Tong-sought eliverer of the B i ion, the 
one W! i awaken, For theI.N.A., 

as for Bengal, there was no resisting his compulsion. 

But all this is past history, more or less‘known to — 


so well known, although I have quoted it in my Bengali 
travelogue, Deshe Deshe Chali Urhe. 

To give the context first: : 

I had been staying in Bombay for well over a fort- 
night to raise funds for the Pondicherry Yoga-ashram 
of my Gurudev, Sri Aurobindo. The organisers of my 
concerts gave me a reception at the Cricket Club. The 
eminent lawyer, Bhulabhai Desai, of I.N.A, trial fame, 
had been asked to preside. At dinner, seated next to me, 
he thrilled us all with his warm tribute to Netaji. 

I had heard about him a great deal and admired his 
impassioned and telling defence of the famous trio at the 
Delhi Red Fort in which he had declaimed so challeng- 
ingly: “The honour and the law of the Indian National 
Army are on trial before this Court and the right to 
wage war with immunity on the part of a subject race 
for their liberation.” But what I did not know was that 
he had grown overnight into an ardent admirer of Netaji. 
I will give here the gist of what he told me on that (for 
me) memorable evening. 

“I am told, Sri Roy,” he said without ado, “that 
you were one of Netaji’s most intimate friends and that 
you were colleagues together in Calcutta and Cambridge. 
So I am going to tell you what you will surely be de- 
lighted to hear. You must be knowing that Netaji, like 
all_great was rich in adverse critics who imputed 
all sorts of motives to his every act. It so happened that 
I hac-ranged inyself against him with these, swelling the 
ranks of his political opponents. The herd-instinct, you 
know, is pretty difficult to resist. Thus I had grown to 
echo what the coterie in which I moved said against him 
—that it was a pity he wouldn’t toe the line and regret- 
table that he talked flamboyantly about violence, arm- 
ed insurrection and so on—you know the stock 

“But,’’ he went on to add, “when I was engaged as a 
defence counsel of the far-famed I.N.A. trio, I had, 
naturally, to scan and make the most of the plans and 
programmes of Netaji—first, through the evidence of his 



cuments and records testifying to his many-sided achieve- 
ments. Now, the more I came to know of him the more 
I was impressed till, soon enough, the scales fell from 
my eyes and I felt deep pangs of remorse for having 
disparaged him in my cocksure arrogance like an irres- 
ponsible debunker of the spirit who has no sense or con- 
ception of the deeper soul-values. For it was brought 
home to me somewhat apocalyptically that here was no 
cheap firebrand patriot whose nationalism stemmed from 
blind fanaticism of a one-track mind or whose ardour 
derived from the megalomania of a self-adulator. Nay: 
he was revealed to me in that awed moment of discovery 
as a far-seemg statesman, a born realist, a strategist to 
is finger-tips and an idealist-cum-seer who could not 

It or rest on the way because he was haunted by an 

‘resistible, almost a mystic, call he had to answer with 
Ihe last drop of his freedom-hungry blood.” 

“But with him,” Sri Desai went on, “it was not a 
question of the warrior’s master urge only: he had to be, 
withal, both the architect and the builder of his dream 
edifice. In other words, it was the seed of a colossal as- 
piration he had to sow in every recruit and then to make 
it shoot up overnight into a gigantic tree. And remem- 
ber, he had no comrade of his calibre to help him! He 
had to achieve everything with the sole power of his 
magic personality—an all but incredible miracle to be 
brought off by his electric faith in order that the dream 
he had dreamed with every fibre of his wakeful con- 
sciousness might come true at one bold sweep. This may, 
indeed, sound like rhetoric, but it was within an ace of 
being encompassed. For had he only been able to take 
Imphal, the bulk of the Indian army in India would have 
deserted the British and flocked to his banner to swell 
the ranks of the Indian National Army. So, you see, he 
could almost claim it as a fait accompli because it very 
nearly was!” 

There was a catch in his breath as we listened spell- 

bound. He surveyed us with a eryptic smile and added: 
Yt. Ph 7 dt ~  , ia, fe. ae arene Leen Me ae? ah 


Army of Liberation—and in what milieu? In an alien 
country where, when he had landed, there had been not 
a soul to greet him, not a friend he could rely on, not a 
comrade to discuss things with—and where he had to 
persuade, first, the supercilious Germans that he was in 
a position to deliver the goods and then, the hard-headed 
Japanese that he was destined to succeed! Just fancy, 
my friend, for a destitute and exile, with no credentials 
save that of his face of light, to recruit a veritable Army 
and sound his tingling call: ‘Chalo Delhi—On to Delhi!’ 
Doesn’t it read like a real saga—or, shall I say, a fairy- 
tale all but translated into reality? And then it was not 
. a mere blowing of bugles and beating of drums: he had 
' to lead his soldiers personally to assault the heights of 
Imphal! And last, though not least, to create a Provi- 
sional Government with its multifarious ramifications: 
health, food, supply, flags, artillery, tents, medicine.... 
it takes one’s breath away—for, mind you, all this did 
originate in a single brain! And then what a clarion call 
he sounded on July 5, 1943 in his historic speech inaugu- 
rating the birth of the Indian Army at Singapore: 

Soldiers of India’s Army of Liberation! Today 
is the proudest day of my life. Today it has pleased 
Providence to give me the unique privilege and 
honour of announcing to the whole world that India’s 
Army of Liberation has come into being.... Com- 
rades! You have accepted a mission that is the nob- 
lest that the human mind can conceive of. For the 
fulfilment of such a mission no sacrifice is too great, 
not even the sacrifice of one’s life... . 

I assure you that I shall be with you in darkness 
and sunshine, in-sorrow~and in joy, in suffering and 
in victory. “For the present I can offer you nothing 
except hunger, thirst, privation, forced marches an 
death. But if you follow me in life and in death, as 
Iam confident you will, I shall lead you to victory 
and freedom. It does not matter who among us will 
live to see India free. It is enough that India shall 
be free and that we shall have given qur all ta maka 


\ her free. May God now bless our Army and grant 
‘us victory in the coming fight! Inquilab Zindabad. 
| Azad Hind Zindabad! 

“T tell you, Dilip Kumar,” Sri Desai went on in ar 
animated voice, as we listened on to him, enraptured 
“Netaji shall live for all times as a singing lighthouse o' 
inspiration to posterity in this our drab age where all the 
rest is dumb ash.”’ 

A silence fell which throbbed only with the cadence 
of his voice.... After a time I asked him thickly: “De 
you know a favourite poem of Netaji’s, a poem of Chester. 
ton’s: The Great Minimum?” 

He was a little surprised and answered: “No, Why?’ 

“I often catch myself imagining him reciting it witk 
his last breath: 

It is something to have wept as we have wept, 

It is something to have done as we have done, 

It is something to have watched when all men slepi 
And seen the stars which never see the sun. 

Postscript—I have taken the liberty of reporting Sr 
Desai freely in my own language. I don’t claim that the 
style was his. But I have no hesitation in vouching fo: 
the authenticity of his impassioned tribute, the less so as 
what he said moved us all profoundly because of his un- 
questionable sincerity and delivery, not to mention the 
warmth of his voice unmarred by any false notes. Lastly 
he cited only a sentence from Netaji’s impassioned appea 
whereas I have quoted in full his climacteric exhortatior 
ending with the National Hallelujah. 

I may mention that a year later I met Sri Habibu 
Rahman who was entrusted with Netaji’s last message 
He had said: “Habib! My end is near. I have fough’ 
for my country’s freedom but others must take up the 
fight now. That is my message to my countrymen, Tel 
them: if they continue the fight our freedom is assured.’ 
Could any dying message be more life-giving? 



(A speech delivered in Delhi on 11-12-1964) 

I thank the organisers of Netaji Exhibition Commit- 
tee for inviting me to pay my heart’s tribute to one who 
has been an abiding inspiration in my life as well as my 

* dearest friend on earth. I am also greatly heartened be- 
cause one of my oldest friends (and Netaji’s as well) ‘is 
here, to wit, Shri H.V. Kamath who also was inspired 
early in his life by the great luminary’s light of love and 

nobility which has made history. 

: Tonight I shall speak briefly about the mystic I 
hailed in him, and told him so categorically, time and 
time again, though he was wont to contend, equally cate- 
gorically, that he was merely a servant of our Mother- 
land or holy India, as he loved to characterise her so 
often. I stress this because in my life I have met very 

* few men who could emulate his faith in India’s holiness. 
Such a perception, I claim, entitles him to the epithet of 
the mystic, even though some people may question this, 
arguing that a mystic is an introvert whereas Netaji was 
a passionate and indefatigable activist. But any one who 

_ has been blessed enough to have known him intimately 
will surely concur with me that he was at great pains, 
often enough, to curb the mystic afflatus which gripped 
him now and again. Of Iate his early letters to his mother 
have been published, which will bear me out, as they do 
reveal, at every turn, how profoundly his adolescent soul 
loved the mystic outlook on life. Here isa sample. He 

ye “Tote to her when he was a boy of fifteen (1912-13): 

“Mother! Today is Mahanavami of Mother 

Durga. Possibly the Puja will be celebrated with 
great éclat this year. But tell me, mother, why must 

we do it with a flourish? Surely, all that is needed 

Me is that we call to her in a moved voice! For isn’t 
that the greatest worship which is nerformed with 



When I met him first in the Presidency College— 
in 1913—I can well recall how he not only outflashed be- 
fore my admiring eyes with the halo of a rare academic 
distinction (having stood second in order of merit among 
10,000 matriculates) but with the far richer aureole of a 
spiritual aspirant inspired by Swami Vivekananda. We 
all stood in awe and many among us commented, with 
bated breath, that he did look like one on whom the 
mantle of the great Vedantin seemed to have fallen. I 
learned next from one of his admirers that he was often 
seen standing in the Ganges reciting unintelligible and 
ponderous Sanskrit hymns! But he made his way 
straight into my heart when he acclaimed my father’s 
patriotic-spiritual songs and exhorted me to sing them 
from door to door, inspiring our tamasic (lethargic) peo- 
ple in the sleepy hollow of Bengal. 

Within the short time at my disposal I cannot pos- 
sibly enlarge on how our friendship developed in Cal- 
cutta and then at Cambridge where we discussed the three 
worlds and how he thrilled me day after romantic day 
by telling me of his dream of the India to be, recalling 
deep exhortations of Swamiji, Sri Aurobindo and others, 
especially a famous passage in one of Sri Aurobindo’s 
letters (in Bengali) to his wife, where he wrote (transla- 
tion, mine): 

“Others look upon our country as an inanimate 
thing, a sum total of fields and pastures, jungles and 
forests, mountains and rivers. I look upon her as our 
very mother to be adored and worshipped. When 
an ogre sits on her chest, out to suck her blood, what 
does the son do? Eat his meal in peace or go all 
out to the rescue of his mother?’’ 

Day after day, he would thus pour his heart out to 
me and once he talked away far into the night (I have 
characterised it as our “last unforgettable night” in my 
Bengali memoirs) telling me about his sleepless solici- 
tude for our motherland, and the deep impression he left 
on my youthful mind was always that of a born mystic 


(Patravali): “If one fails to realise God then one has 
frittered his time away.... There can be no true joy if 
one misses that eternal, Blissful Lord. O mother, just 
look where we have landed: in what a pitiful state is our 
dharma today!.... Where were they, our great ances- 
tors, the Aryans, how high had they risen and where are 
we, their descendants? ....What bankruptcy of faith, 
what hypocrisy, corruption and what not? Mother mine, 
when you see such degradation doesn’t your heart cry 
out: Oh, how has our great dharma gone under!...... 
And he felt it all so intensely because he loved—adored 
—Bharat as a “sacred land,” 4 la Vivekananda he wor- 
shipped and Sri Aurobindo he admired. So he wrote in 
another letter, taking a leaf out of their books as it were 
(pp. 15-6): 

“Mother mine, India is our Lord’s beloved coun- 
try where He has chosen from age to age to be born 
as an avatar to enhallow her soil and inseminate in 
her sons the seed of Dharma and Truth. It is true 
that He was born in other lands also, but surely no- 
where else did He take birth so often. So I may say 
that our motherland has ever been very dear to the 

This deification of the Motherland which stemmed 
first from our great Bankimchandra, the composer of 
Vande Mataram, is often denigrated by cosmopolitans on 
the ground that it is archaic. It may, indeed, sound ar- 
chaic now, but it is certainly not discredited as a living 
mantra among the accredited thought-movers and nation- 
builders of today who have been an abiding source of ins- 
piration to us all. Take, for instance, Swami Viveka- 
nand’s memorable Colombo lecture January 1897): 

“Formerly, I thought, as every Hindu thinks, 
that this is the Punya Bhumi, the land of Karma. 
Today I stand here and say, with the conviction of 
truth, that it is so. Hence have started the founders 
of religions from the most ancient times, deluging 

i, RRS CRE ty Oe: fe Ree RAR Ae) Lee eR Ge ee Saw NN i eam 


‘ed the tidal waves of philosophy that have covered 
the earth, East or West, North or South, and hence 
again must start the wave which is going to spiri- 
tualise the materialistic civilisation of the world.” 

And did not Sri Aurobindo, the great seer, subscribe 
whole-heartedly to this faith of the architect-saint of mod- 
ern India when he wrote in his homage to Rishi Bankim 
Chandra (as he called him): 

“Ours is the eternal land, the eternal people, the 
eternal religion, whose strength, greatness, holiness 
may be overclouded, but never, even for a moment, 
utterly cease. The hero, the rishi, the saint, are the 
natural fruits of the Indian soil and there has been 
no age in which they have not been born. Among 
the rishis of the later age....we must include the 
name of the man who gave us the reviving mantra 
which is creating a new India, the mantra Vande 

It is possible that Netaji is the last of the Romans 
and so we may nevermore be able to recapture the thrill 
of worshipping our Motherland as a deified Priestess of 
the Spirit. If so, I for one can only be sorry, for I, too, 
am fully persuaded that India is a Punya Bhumi. How 
often have I not sung in a moved voice the Jast song,.my 
father composed a few days before his passing, a song 
Netaji adored and found “thrilling” (Translation— 
Sri Aurobindo): 

To thy race, O India, God Himself 
once sang the Song of songs divine, 
Upon thy dust Gouranga danced 
and drank God-love’s mysterious wine; 
Here the Sannyasin, Son of King, 
lit up compassion’s deathless sun 
And the youthful Yogin, Shankar, taught 
thy gospel: “He and I are one.” 

Anyhow, this is a mystical thrill born of the soul’s 

aotnn dwhinh Nata. heltiaved te he-ture tar oll timoec. Tima. 


(thus claiming kinship with the soul-throb of India’s saints 
and sages and poets and prophets who had all cherished 
the same vision) not only extolling her past greatness, 
but dreaming of the India to be which (he would pro- 
phesy) must far outshine even all her past glory. 

One of the major tenets of the mystical outlook is 
that only through suffering and pain can the soul arrive. 
It is because he had always believed this that Netaji could 

- call to his countrymen so movingly in one of his most 
beautiful exhortations which I have quoted in my book 
on him: 

“Do you want the fragrance of the full-blown 
rose? If so, you must accept the thorns. Do you 

c want the sweetness of the smiling dawn? If so, you 

must live through the dark hours of the night. Do 
you want the joy of liberty and the solace of free- 
dom? I£ so, you must pay the price and the price 

of liberty is suffering and sacrifice.” (31-12-1931). 

To mystic songs he responded every time with what 
_the French call abandon. For it was always, in his case, 
a call of the deep to the deep: India, calling to her be- 
loved son, ready to stake his all at one throw of the 
dice; India, the nurse of the spirit, calling to her spiritual 
son, who lived for the spirit! That is why I insisted, all 
along the line, on his leaving politics which had engulfed 
him,. alas, irrevocably! For I was persuaded that he 

wcould have risen to far greater heights if only he had 
followed his swadharma, to wit, the call of Vivekananda. 
I told him, time and time again, that the mantle of the 
great prophet was all but ready to fall on his shoulders 
if only he would accept it. 

I know full well that here many will disagree with 
my appraisement of his swadharma; but then they did 
not know him as intimately as I did and so never felt 

; the high-born mystic pulsate through his blood. I have 
written at great length about this in my book on him, 
* so I need not repeat it all. I would only quote a few 

‘»Jines to substantiate my thesis that he had inhibited the 

mystic trend of his nature which was so native to his 



And it was the mystic in him that made him write 
at the age of fifteen to his mother (pp. 7-8 Patravali, 
translation, mine): 

“Mother, the Lord is unstinting in His bounty, 
but we are blind sceptics and faithless atheists and 
so can’t realise the greatness of His compassion, How 
can we? We cry out to Him, indeed, but only while 
in distress. The moment we are out of the wood, 
we forget Him completely. Which is why Kunti 
Devi sang in her immemorial prayer: ‘Keep me in 
adversity, my Lord, so I may call to you whole- 
heartedly. In happiness I am apt to dismiss you, sc 
I have no use for happiness...’ Mother, this life of 
ours is a patchwork quilt made up of life and death 
pain and joy. The only thing that counts therein is 
the Name of the Lord—Harinam. So if we decline 
to sing His name. our life must become a vanity.” 
Such a message is on all fours with those of out 

greatest mystics and saints like Guru Nanak, Tulsidas 
Sri Chaitanya, Sri Ramakrishna and others. And I may 
go on multiplying such excerpts. But as I need not em- 
phasise any more this aspect of his many-mooded nature 
I will end on a more personal note in the reminiscing 
vein because it is as moving as it is interesting. 

After my return from Pondicherry, one day I gave 
him a reception at my sister’s place at Barrackpore. | 
sang with my pupil Srimati Uma, and Amala (who mar- 
ried Udayshankar a few years later) danced. After the 
soirée he offered to take me back to Calcutta in his owr 
car. I accepted with alacrity, looking forward to a con- 
fidential talk with him in the car. I was not disappointed 
he poured his heart out to me. I was profoundly movec 
by his confidence. albeit not a little saddened by his pair 
and disillusionments. At the end of the recital of hi: 
woes he placed his hand on mine and said: “Dilip, I have 
a request to make to you: don’t leave soon for your ivory} 
tower. I need you.” I was astonished and said, to make 
light of it all, that my staying in Calcutta could not pos 
sibly matter much to a great popular leader like him, the 


to spare for the society of a prospective recluse like me. 
He did not return my ironic smile and said: “Dilip, 1 
know you don’t care for politics and still less for the 
atmosphere around me. I don’t blame you either, al- 
though I, too, may return the compliment and say that 
I don’t care for the deep purdah you, Yogis, seem to 
adore. But my whole point is that we do need you even 
if you don’t need us. And, to be even more personal, I 
need you because I want to feel that here in Calcutta I 
have at least one friend on whom I can fully rely, in 
whom I can confide without reserve.” 

I have, indeed, put it in my words, but he did say 
all this and more when, on that memorable night, he 
talked on and on of his deep disenchantments. Dare one 
call such a friend and an idealist rigid or frigid or un- 
responsive to human affection? 

The last instance I want to give of his compelling per- 
sonality is going to be a strange one. Many a time have 
I recounted it to my friends, in public and private, to 
bring home to them the magic force of his dominating 
personality, but I have not written about it so far in my 
reminiscences because I felt that it was too personal and 
might be misinterpreted. But it is worth relating as it 
does illustrate Rabindranath Tagore’s thesis: “Je pare se 
apni pare pare se phul photate” that is, 

Who can make a bud outflower, 
Save he who’s booned with the mystic power? 

It happened like this. In 1927, I was invited by the 
Edison Gramophone Company in New York to make some 
long-playing records. Subhash was jubilant like a child 
and (with the help of two of my old friends, Nalini Kanta 
Sarcar and Kazi Nazrul Islam) organised a big meeting 
at the University Institute to felicitate me. The great 
novelist Saratchandra consented to preside and Rabin- 
dranath himself was invited to bless me publicly. A num- 
ber of literary men and musicians also attended among 

whom the famous writer Sri Pramatha Choudhury took 
PR PS. CAC RE; | Sag, amar. |) MORES OTRAS: eee epee mage, DAE | 


Subhash had to cordon him off personally to take him 
up on ito the stage. 

But worse was to come: the hall, packed to suffoca- 
tion, first hummed and then rang out with the noise of 
the appeals and cries from the audience and every speaker 
was booed down summarily; the students took the lead- 
ing part, clamouring for a song. “We want songs, please 
sbi speeches, for God’s sake.....sing 
ranga jaba, Dilip Babu..... ranga jaba..... vanga jaba 
She ” and so on. As the lesser speakers hadn’t the ghost 
of a chance, Sri Pramatha Choudhury rose to his feet, to 
be dismissed out of hand. So last, though not least, Sarat- 
chandra stood up and appealed, but alas, in vain! We 
were at a loss, not knowing what to do, when Subhash 
leapt to his feet and, scarlet with indignation, thumped 
the table. “Silence!” he roared, “silence, I say! We have 
gathered here to felicitate Dilip Kumar and we have in- 
vited our revered Poet to bless him. We have printed 
a programme and we must stick to it. You have all come 
here to testify to your affection for Dilip Kumar and wish 
him God-speed on his musical mission in America. He 
will sing at the end, but we insist on good manners and 
discipline on your part. How can we build a nation if 
we are undisciplined and behave like Philistines and 
rowdies? Mother India expects every son of hers to 
know how to behave himself. So I insist, I repeat, on a 
pin-drop silence and that at once....”’ And, lo, the mira- 
cle happened: the clamour was stilled instantly into an 
awed hush! He did ride the howling storm and rule the 
boisterous waves of rebel faces on that unforgettable even- 
ing. Indeed, it had to be seen to be believed: the incre- 
dible impact of his tremendous personality which refus- 
ed to accept defeat! To this was added a mystic magne- 
tism, a decade and half later, when he attained his peak 
in Malaya and Burma to be acclaimed by millions of In- 
dians of every caste and creed as Netaji, the great leader 
of the Nation. Could any epithet be more eloquent, any 
authority more ecumenical? Vande Mataram. 


it is not quite a human heritage, this lustre of persona- 
lity. Anyway, it clung to him loyally all his life and stood 
him in good stead even in the most inconceivable mili- 
eus. But nowhere were the odds so formidable against 
him as they were in Germany first, and then in Malaya, 
Burma and Japan. For just imagine, my friends, his 
derelict state when (and doesn’t it read like a fairy tale?) 
he started on his adventure on the fateful night of Janu- 
ary 17, 1941 in the guise of a Lucknow Moulvi and, 
thereafter, from Kabul under the name of Orlando Maz- 
zotta, an Italian bound for Berlin! And why did he want 
to get to Berlin at any cost? Because he was persuaded 
that Germany would win the war and might be induced 
to help India. So he gambled recklessly with faith in 
his burning patriotism as his only asset and his radiant 
sincerity his only passport. But when all is said and 
done, it was his fiery personality which gave him the 
ring of authority which convinced even the haughty Hit- 
ler that it would be worth while to befriend the rebel. 
And Hitler was so deeply impressed by him that he 
agreed finally “to delete the derogatory remarks he had 
made about India in his book, Mein Kampf, following 
a representation by Subhash Bose.”* But his path was 
not strewn with roses even after Hitler’s acceptance of 
his bona fides. “For months, certain Nazi officials,’’ 
writes Sri Ganpuley, an eye-witness in Germany at the 
time, “went on insisting on terms for their co-operation 
which were impossible for a nationalist and patriot like 
Subhash to accept. Rather disgusted with them, he once 
coolly told his Nazi partners: ‘For the sake of my coun- 
try I have risked my neck to come to Germany. For 
the same reason I am prepared to return to India if I 
cannot achieve my purpose. The British C.I.D. is very 
efficient and just as I escaped in spite of it, I shall escape 
your Gestappo also’.”* 

* The citations given here are from the very valuable book, 
entitled Netaji in Germany, (written by Sri N. G. Ganpuley and 
published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay), to which the. 
Foreword is written by a German officer Dr. AdalLert Gaifun wh 


What happened thereafter was no less spectacular: 
his project of establishing a Free India Centre with troops 
under him, recruited from Indian prisoners in Germany, 
took shape and was launched by the German Foreign 
Office and generously financed by an alien despot! It 
would be beyond the purview of my lecture to deal with 
this phase of his life exhaustively. Those who are really 
interested are referred to Sri Ganpuley’s brilliant ac- 
count of how Netaji moved mountains in Berlin, organis- 
ing and inspiring the troops under him and arranging all 
about broadcasting fiery speeches daily from Berlin 
(which we were to hear subsequently in Caleutta and 
elsewhere in India, electrified to a man). 

“In November 1941,” writes Sri Ganpuley (p. 51), 
“Azad Hind Radio opened its patriotic programme with 
an announcing speech by Netaji himself. This was an 
exceptionally solemn and yet interesting occasion on 
which he was supposed to have come out from his grave 
to inform his brothers and sisters that....he was alive 
and could open his heart to them.... For a time, tears 
dimmed his eyes and choked his voice...... 

And how tirelessly he had to work in Berlin for his 
strenuous broadcasting can be better imagined than des- 
cribed: for he was asked by the German authorities “to 
send out three hours’ programme every day” (p. 53)! 

It was almost a superhuman task. But Netaji rose 
to the occasion and quickly organised a staff of translators 
recruited from Indians of all provinces who happened to 
be in Germany at the time. To quote briefly from the 
chapter entitled, Azad Hind Radio: “Hindi translation and 
also speaking in Hindi was done by a young gentleman 
from Delhi... .. Persian translation and talking in Persian 
was done by an Afghan student.... The Pushtu trans- 
lation and broadcasting was done by two young men from 
the North-Western Frontier....The Tamil translation 
and transmission was done by a nationalist businessman. . 
Telugu by a young man from Hyderabad... .” 

Society in Stuttgart. All who have loved Netaji (and their number 


But I must not take more of your time; I have al- 
ready spoken for nearly two hours. So I will conclude 
-rith a heart-warming tribute to Netaji quoted from Dr. 

.dalbert’s Foreword to Sri Ganpuley’s book: 

“The High Command and the Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs granted Bose the necessary funds and, fur- 
thermore, placed at his disposal personnel, training 
camps and material..... 

The Indian Volunteers had to undergo a basic 
training when entering the Indian Legion which was 
based on the voluntary co-operation of the Indian 
volunteers.... It can be said that the experiment 

. to form Hindus, Sikhs, Moslems, Punjabis, Mahrattas, 
Bengalis and members of other religious communities 
into a close military unit and to form an efficient 
fighting force was crowned with success. The 
Indians in the Legion proved to be good soldiers be- 
side their German comrades-in-arms. 

The intellectual basis for the growth and_suc- 
cess of the Legion was created by Subhash Bose. 
Repeatedly he explained to his compatriots and the 
German personnel his ideas about the Legion and 
their future task in free India. He was very anxi- 
ous to see preserved in the Legion traditions of the 
cultural and political past of his country. With a 
feeling, fine and noble, he did his utmost to banish 
the danger of losing the cultural roots of his Le- 
gionaries. To many a man Subhash Bose seemed 
to be a reserved and contemplative personality. 
But when he stood in front of the Legion and ex- 
pressed his ideas for a free India in detail, then 
the fire of the fighter and the revolutionary could 
be felt. He was never too tired to inspire trust 
and confidence in various discussions. He was the 
great idol of the Legion, and it was the ardent de- 
sire of each Legionary to try to emulate him.... 
A meeting with Subhash Bose was a special event 
for the German training staff. He lives in their 
ieee eR ATG, PER, |e a OO ee a Pe AP ree Tee |e Ot ae 


never sparing himself in the service of ‘his peopl 

and his country.” E caer : 

I have quoted this with a threefold purpose: firs 
to substantiate my thesis that Netaji was nothing if no 
an idealist and dreamer in the essence of his beir& 
secondly, to prove that even when he consorted witi 
the Nazis he never forgot his heart’s one dream: tha 
he felt himself missioned to achieve the political deli 
verance of his beloved land, not to exult in the petty pridk 
of the cheap patriot who vaunts and blusters, but to make 
India great, nay, even greater than her past; and, lastly 
to show, that he was a mystic at heart, the reason why he 
loved to quote two quatrains of Kipling: é 

“Father in Heaven who lovest all, 
Oh, help thy children when they call; 

That they may build from age to age 
An undefiled heritage.” 

Aye, it is to build this heritage and enhance it: 
splendour that he was vowed to live. I can still re- 
capture the thrill we all felt whenever he would recite 
in his warm, bass voice: 

ere is but one ‘task for all— 
me life for each to give. 
hat stands if freedom fall? 
Who dies if England live? 

Only he would replace “England’’ by “India” 
whenever he declaimed this noble exhortation, but ex-. 
ploiting it only as fuel for the burning aspiration of his 

Wace: Litany 

Gaseany . 28 


is what Vyas meant when he assured us in*his great 
epic: . 

Who loves the All-transcendent more than all 
The World—if such a Pover deviate 

Through error from his Goal, he shall not fall: 
For his heart’s high Resident sfall rule out Fate.* 

Still this was doctoring or salvaging, if you wil& but 
not redeeming. And that is why I have always.deemed 
it a thousand pities that the mystic th Subhash should 
have swerved from “‘the All-transcendent.’’ For had he 
followed the greater call and become a nation-builder (as 
he was cut out to be), he would have won through in 
this life to the supreme fulfilment he missed for a lesser 
love. But then, in the last analysis, which of us ean for- 
see whither we are being led by the Lord of our destiny 
and through what devious ways of His maya? Has pot: 
the Gita said: nehabhikramanashosti—“no pees 2s 
in high endeavour is wasted?” Besides, who dare plumb 
the Wisdom of the Sphinx who pitchforks some of His 
devotees into deeper abysses than the rest; creates blind 
alleys of illusion which few can suspect till it is tog}late; 
and last, though not least, sanctions even our selflove 
to make the subsequent self-discovery more ravishing! To 

* quote a Sufi theosophist: . 
I fell in lave with mine own self 
and marvelled...... till I met in Thee 
The One I’d wooed, and lo, it was 
my own own personality! 

* Svapadamulam bhajatah priyasya 
Tyaktéanya-bhavasya Harih Pareshah 
Vikarma yachchotpatitam kathamchit 
Dhunoti sarvam hridi-sannivishtah. 
(The Bhagvat, XI-V-42}