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Sri Aurobindo could have stopped the Partition

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Sri Aurobindo, originally from Pondicherry, was convinced that India would definitely be united, and would include Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ceylon. World War II was in full swing in 1941-42. Hitler marched unopposed in Western Europe; Britain was continuously bombed. Britain sent the Cripps mission to India to broker a compromise with Indian leaders and seek their cooperation in the war. Sri Aurobindo of Pondicherry advised all support for the allies and recommended negotiating with the Cripps Mission. But Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel, and Azad rejected Cripps’ mission offer; Rajgopalachari’s support was ignored. Gandhi’s decisions at this time were often one-sided; he was brutal towards Subhas who bravely found his way to Europe and Japan and whose death is still a mystery. Cripps, who had a soft spot for India, also had a good relationship with Nehru in his early days. Cripps had developed a fondness for Sudhir Bose, a young man who was also Gandhi’s favourite, and confidently told him that Congress President Maulana Azad had made a decision in favor of the partition of India and gave a confidential letter to that effect. Gandhi was disturbed upon hearing this and asked Sudhir to bring the letter and assure Cripps that he would not use this letter to create an embarrassing situation for him. The atmosphere in pre-independence India was very tense. Azad outright denied his position on the score, while Nehru was angry at Sudhir’s encounter with Cripps. Gandhi and Patel did not have the same opinion on Azad. Unfortunately, Gandhiji was often stubborn in his decisions. Consider an example of Swami Ashokanand (1893-1969), a brilliant student who got a gold medal in English literature while at City College. He joined the Ramakrishna mission in 1920 and was initiated into Sanyasa by the then president, Swami Sivanand. He was editor of Prabuddha Bharat (an English monthly journal of the Ramakrishna mission started by Swami Vivekanand in 1896 and published continuously for over 125 years). Swami Ashokananda was its editor from 1926 until December 1930, when he corresponded extensively with Gandhiji on nonviolence and industrialization. Shankari Prasad Basu, a great Bengali intellectual who had written about 2,000 pages on India in the time of Swami Vivekanand, says: “Going through all of Ashokanand’s articles and Gandhi’s answers, we have to admit that the answers of Gandhiji were not comparable to the solid answers of Ashokanand. and a complete intellect. It was at this time that the question of the partition of Bengal arose. Sri Aurobindo, a senior member of the Indian National Congress, led the revolution against the partition of Bengal. Before understanding Sri Aurobindo’s politics, let’s look at his history. He was born on August 15, 1872. Later, India became free on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday in 1947. At the age of five in 1877, he was admitted to Loretto Convent School in Darjeeling, where he mostly settled with British children and learned to speak. English as a matter of course. His father left him in England for studies. For fourteen years between 1879 and 1893, he stayed in England. He lived with his father’s friend, the Reverend William Brewett in Manchester from where he learned Latin, French, history, geography and mathematics. After five years in Manchester, Sri Aurobindo moved to St. Paul’s School in London and remained there for another six years. He won the Butterworth Prize for Literature and the Bedford Prize for History. He left for Cambridge after winning a scholarship that would ease the financial burden on his family. There he gained his degree of fluency in English, German, Italian and Spanish. While in England, he obtained employment with the Maharaja of Baroda and left for India in early February. He joined Baroda College first as a French lecturer, then as an English teacher and Vice-Principal. India was already in the throes of a revolution at this point. Sri Aurobindo had resigned as a lecturer and was part of the Indian National Congress. Sri Aurobindo began to organize revolutionaries to oppose Lord Curzon’s plan to bifurcate Bengal. These activities landed him in trouble with the British authorities and he was soon arrested for his alleged involvement in the Alipore bomb affair. On Friday, May 1, 1908, Sri Aurobindo woke up from his sleep around 5 am. Under the instructions of Commissioner Cregan, Sri Aurobindo was handcuffed and arrested. The weekend was spent in jail. There was no bath until the fourth day at 11:30. He always wore the same clothes for four days in which he came home. From time to time, the police lined the prisoners up in a long row, mingling with those charged with theft, murder and other charges as well as political prisoners. During the period of solitary confinement, Dr. Daly and the assistant superintendent came almost daily to his cell and chatted. Sri Aurobindo spoke very little. In order to get him to talk, the assistant superintendent said he had managed to get the big boss to agree to a walk out of the cell, morning and evening. Sri Aurobindo walked while reciting the timeless and powerful mantras of the Upanishads and walked for a long time. He was quoted as saying, “I tried to realize the fundamental truths of God in all its forms, in trees, bushes, walls, men, animals, birds, metals in the earth with the recitation of the Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma mantra. The prison has ceased to appear as a prison. The white wall, the tree with green leaves shining in the sun, seemed to vibrate with a universal consciousness. It was as if God himself was standing under the tree and delightfully playing his flute. Sri Aurobindo was arrested on May 1, 1908 and was released on May 6, 1909. He inspired his 27-year-old disciple, whom he named Navjat, to start a newspaper to showcase Indian culture. The journal was named Mother India in 1949. Sri Aurobindo endorsed the ideas and Aurobindo called it “my article”. He was convinced that India would definitely be united and would include Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ceylon. He dreamed of a united India – a divided India would not be immune to communalism or civil strife. These ideas went all the way to Swami Vivekananda. Will these ideas come true? Gandhiji’s Congress, while refusing Cripps’ proposal, ignored Sri Aurobindo’s advice. They were all aware of Sri Aurobindo’s sublime state of mind. If he had not been ignored, India might not have been divided. (The author is a founder of the LNJ Bhilwara group and author. Opinions expressed are personal.)

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