The Erudite Activist. Endearing Anarchist.


On Left Extremism, Justice And The Sustainability Crisis

With An Impassioned Appeal For Development

Mindful Of The Laws Of Thermodynamics !

Rahul Banerjee is an alumnus of my alma mater. He lives the rational life and his work has almost entirely been in causes that are upper-most in my heart – among the marginalised and the oppressed. You may know more about him from his blog @ and of his sight on diverse current issues from his page @

In one such interaction on Facebook that covered Left extremists and Sustainability issues, I found his views worthy of reiteration here, on my blog. He expresses well …

Compassion and respect, not extremism …

” One could be a tribal sympathiser, critical of Capitalism (not liberal democracy, mind you, which unfortunately has come to be associated with capitalism) and its rapacious destruction of the environment and society, especially that of the tribals, but sympathising with the poor and being critical of those who exploit and oppress them does not mean being sympathetic to the Maoists.

Rapacious Capitalism is a zero sum game …

“There are farmers who have become millionnaires in indore too, and in the vicinity of most cities, but these are still few in number compared to the total number of farmers in and around these cities. The statement holds good for India entire, where farming has become a loss making profession. Even America, which has become 95% urban by looting the whole world, will find it impossible to survive if it stops doing so. Its a zero sum game – urban prosperity for a few is built on misery for the many across the world. It’s an unpalatable truth that cannot be wished away by resorting to sophistry. Gurgaon is sinking under its own load and the day is not far when it will collapse !!

Yes, it’s a zero sum …

“We are going over the same ground again and again. The zero sum game is a very correct depiction of the natural world because it is based on the first and second laws of thermodynamics. I would advise you to do a deep study of those before suggesting me to read more sophistry based on neo-classical economics, which itself is based on unscientific assumptions. Simon’s book is dated and current exorbitantly rising prices of metals in particular, and commodities and food in general, have taken the bottom out of his reasoning. Anyway there is no point in continuing this debate because it is endless. We can debate with each other endlessly without agreeing, but we cannot do so with nature. The time is not far when nature will hit back with a vengeance… The present selfish mode of development is going to lead to disaster then there will be a reversion to communitarian, unselfish and egalitarian modes. If not, we will all perish !!

Tribal rights with self-rule …

“Not just tribal rights but tribal self-rule of a new kind, in which there is equality and justice for women; because the traditional tribal societies are highly patriarchal. Regarding Maoists, the best thing to do is to ignore them altogether. Their locus and modus operandi ensures they will remain peripheral to both the tribal and the country’s future. It is the Indian State, which continually mismanages its responses, that has led to the Maoists being able to do what they are doing.

Churchill’s Secret War, through wreaking famine …

“To understand this one will have to digress first a bit. Madhusree Mukerjee has written an excellent book called “Churchill’s Secret War”, in which she details on the basis of original historiography how the British Government, led by Churchill, deliberately caused the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 in which, according to conservative estimates, 3 million people were killed.

The Just Rebels, possessed and ruthless …

“What is more interesting in this book is her history of the Tamralipta Jatiya Sarkar. When the Quit India

English: Statue of Matangini Hazra on the Maid...
Matangini Hazra, Statue at Kolkata(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Movement was announced on 9th August 1942, the Gandhians in south Bengal region of Tamluk, led by Matangini Hazra, came out onto the streets in large numbers. The British response was to fire on them. Hazra and others died; many were arrested. Those who escaped their fate felt that there was only one way to respond to the British : set aside non-violent methods and take to an underground armed struggle.

“But the only way they could, with their rudimentary arms, was to fight a guerrilla war while ensuring that their movements were not reported to the British. So they conducted a hugely efficient programme of annihilating all the informers. So efficient was this programme that not only were all the informers eliminated but a pervasive fear was created among the people. Effectively, all information flow to the British stopped and the Tamralipta Jatiya Sarkar or Tamralipta “national government” was able to rule over their small region for three years. It was only after Gandhi came out of jail and admonished them for what they had done that they gave up their armed struggle and surrendered to the police in 1946.

Recent Darbha Ghati attack by Maoists …

“The important point that comes out of this story is that, for any guerrilla struggle to survive, the rebels

Nepalese Maoists
Nepalese Maoists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

must eliminate all informers, present and potential. And this is what the Maoists have done very efficiently in rural areas; there is little information flow to the Indian State about their local movements. It is inconceivable that, in the recent attack, 200 heavily armed Maoists could have gathered in the Darbha Ghati just 30 kilometers from Jagdalpur without the local people knowing about it. But such is the fear of reprisal on informers by the Maoists that no information of this build up leaked to the police. All they had was an alert from the Centre that Maoist cadre were collecting in Bastar in large numbers for a strike, but nothing about where exactly this was to be executed. Saddled with this information blindness, the team that went to Sukma failed to follow Standard Operating Procedures yet again and came back along the same route, all in one group, and got annihilated. One is left wondering whether the security establishment dealing with the Maoists is a professional institution or a bunch of fools.

How the Maoists succeed …

“That the Maoists do not have an urban connection is a myth. Many politbureau members like Kobad Gandhi have been arrested from urban areas and are now in jail. It is impossible in the present day to conduct an armed struggle in a remote rural area without urban support of various kinds. There is an active urban network of the Maoists that secretly works to provide them with arms and ammunitions, funds, and technical and medical support. While the State may find it difficult to get informers in the rural areas, it is not so in urban areas where the population is too vast and the Maoists operate too secretly for them to be able to eliminate all informers. The State, in its efforts to curtail the Maoists, will obviously crackdown on their urban support lines and in this it has gained considerable success even if tailors, merchants and doctors like Binayak Sen have had to suffer in the process.

Our concern …

“I repeat, the conflict between the State and the Maoists is none of our concern; but for the tribals who die in it, due to operations from both sides, are. We should condemn the murder of tribals regardless of whether it is the State or the Maoists who are killing them, even if it is that of a killer like Mahendra Karma. We should leave both parties to their shenanigans and concentrate on our own struggles.

The immutable laws of thermodynamics …

 “I had asked you to study the laws of thermodynamics and not Georgescu Rogen’s suspect attempt at conflating thermodynamics with economics, which has been rightly critiqued by many. That is why I did not mention his name or the later Marxist extensions of his theories or give links to the voluminous literature along these lines. I will now try to show from first principles, in a simple way, that a lay person can also understand how an “anarchist” interpretation can be done of these laws !!

“The first law says that energy is conserved and, due to the fact that energy and matter are interchangeable, matter too is conserved. So the total energy (including matter) in a closed system like the earth is constant and cannot be increased or decreased. Actually, the earth is an open system because meteorites crash into it from time to time, delivering matter, and the sun continually pumps energy into it; but the meteorite contribution is minimal and the sun’s energy is difficult to convert usefully, for machines to do our work.

Sustainibility …

“Therefore, if one form of energy or matter, especially non renewable energy or matter source, is depleted then it will be converted into another form, limiting the possibilities of its use in future. If soils are exhausted of their natural nutrients and, after some time, artificial nutrients are also exhausted, then it will not be possible to grow food anymore. Similarly, if fresh water sources are exhausted, we will face a more serious crisis. This can be extended to innumerable more examples that are today creating serious problems of sustainability.

“Theoretically, it is possible to convert any form of matter into any other form; there is substitutability potential for energy from matter. But, in practice, this is difficult and requires huge centralised systems which, even if invented, may create their own unforeseen problems. This is why, for all practical purposes, life on earth is a zero sum game.

“Now coming to the more difficult second law : any form of work converts some amount of energy expended into heat energy, which dissipates into the environment increasing disorder due to the increase in temperature within a closed system.

“Fortunately, the earth is not a closed system; it can release the added energy into space. Also, through photo synthesis, plants continually convert solar energy into bound energy we have in wood and food they sythesise. Animals eat this bound energy and do work, producing heat energy in the process. Some of these plant and animal remains have been transformed into fossil fuels, which too have bound energy. However, when we burn these fuels, their energy becomes unbound and contribute heat to the environment.

“Normally, due to the fact that the earth is an open system, the exponentially increasing production of heat energy would not have been a problem because it is miniscule compared to the solar energy added to the earth’s biosphere. But now, due to the increasing concentration of green house gases, especially carbon dioxide, we are slowly converting the earth into a closed system. The pathways to dissipation of heat into space is getting increasingly choked. Simultaneously, we are decimating plant life that convert unbound energy into bound energy. Climate change is a serious reality because of the twin factors we have just described.

The anarchist suggestion …

“We all must pause and seriously ponder over this transition of earth from being an open system it was to being a closed system it is now turning into. The world is experiencing a dangerous rise in temperatures on account of non-dissipation of heat we are adding to our biosphere. Yes, what I am saying is that there is a serious problem and not that there is no solution to it. Since the solution is not yet known, many people are working on it.

“As an anarchist, I feel the solution is in moderating our consumption. Mindful use of matter and energy would regulate the rate of our approach to ecological catastrophy. Ever since the neolithic revolution ten thousand years ago, humans have continually increased their exploitation of nature and it has now reached a crescendo. We need to have a relook at what we are doing. I may be wrong but that is my preference. It is still possible to have a high level of development with environmentally clean technologies, if implemented in a decentralised and egalitarian manner.

“The first ever, and possibly the most succinct, anarchist statement is :

Ishavasyam idam sarvam yat kincha jagatyam jagat

Tena tyaktena bhunjitha maa gridha kasvid dhanam

“Even though this is from the famoust spiritual text Ishavasya Upanishad, as an atheistic anarchist I translate it thus –

All of these in the universe

Belong to Nature;

Partake of it with moderation.

Do do not covet but ponder –

Who do these riches belong to !

“Let us all heed the rational view : There is a severe crisis, of apocalyptic scale, we are building up through our own doing, through the capitalist greed we have allowed for ourselves and the consumerist lifestyle they propagate globally, repeatedly, day in and day out, for their own profit.”

A Sustainable Economy

Is Built On Sustainability Values

Waiting ...

Journal : Alternate History

The British called its battles of 1857 in the Indian sub-continent, waged by native people, as “Sepoy Mutiny” or terms as dismissive, more or less : rebellion, revolt, uprising or subaltern war ( by sepoy cadres and junior officers in their own military ) ! For long now, after I came across compelling evidence of it being a far more concerted and coordinated affair, the historical lies and half-truths that continue to be taught in our schools and colleges has seemed so shocking and shameful to me. But that streaming propaganda flows unabated over the young minds to this day, despite corrections since suggested by very eminent minds and respectable historians. Why ? Are our people so naive, gullible, stupid or fast brainwashed ? Let me know …

The First War For India’s Independence : 1857

Academics have detailed the economic, socio-political and religious causes behind the war, and this essay would not recount them. What needs to be recalled is that the War was a continuation of British – Maratha hostilities that formally ended with Peshwa Bajirao II’s banishment to Bithoor, near Kanpur, but burned informally among close associates of Nanasaheb, the adopted but rightful heir to Maratha leadership. That circle included Tatya Tope and the Rani of Jhansi, leading generals behind the widespread uprising against British rule.

In January 1856, James Outram crossed the Ganges to depose the King of Oudh and take over the principality. Nana Saheb is reported to have travelled from Bithoor and met representatives of the Begum of Oudh, who was nursing her hurt and was well aware of the angst among the people against the British takeover. 

Situationally, the British invincibility was proving to be a myth and the seething simmer among the native people was palpable. The colonialists had suffered very heavy losses in the 1st Afghan War (1838) in north-west, in battles waged by Santhal tribes eastern provinces, and the Crimean War in Europe. It was also exactly a hundred years after the battle of Plassey (1757) with which victory the British had gained their status to power; the timing had filled the people with the hope that the end of alien occupation was near.

The British had forged very powerful alignments with select native rulers in the country such as the Scindias in Central India, the Sikhs in North, and the Nizam in South. But they had also antagonised very many others through their policies especially framed for reneging on treaties, denying agreed upon priviledges to heirs of erstwhile ruling families and not honouring grants conferred by them. They had pretexts for annexing independent principalities and taking over smaller fiefs of elite nobles, courtiers and commanders. 

On a yet wider scale, the people were extremely agitated by aggressive State policy for propagating Christianity and material reward to natives for conversion of faith. There were social and educational reforms that people resented being imposed upon. Money gathering from the smallest of farmers and traders through adhoc announcements were steep and economic depredation were putting vast numbers out of business. To sum, the vortex unleashed by the white men had disaffected the common people everywhere.

Historical Records And The Untold History

It is strange therefore that India’s post – colonial history remains a mere refurbished form of the same propagated by the British before the country’s independence. Considering the fact that the War was spread over 18 months, upto 36 in places, and involved hundreds of thousand of men, how would it have been waged as mere coincident local disruptions, without money and leadership distribution to a plan ? How does a march of millions of man – miles happen without food, horses and carts, armaments to fight with arguably the most powerful nation then on the earth ? The official account and event sketch by aquiescent historians fail to answer the questions.

At the outset, the officially stated cause triggers like greased cartridge, banishing Sati and Thuggee, abolition of female infanticide and child marriage … do not seem reason enough to start dozens of disparate armed battles against the occupiers at the same time over most of the northern half of the subcontinent. The mutinies had been going on for long but ruthlessly suppressed and completely hushed. Discontent had been brewing for several decades before the First war of Indian Independence over lack of respect shown by British officers to natives in the same army units.

It is questionable that before a single cartridge had been issued, before even one foot-soldier had been asked to defile himself by applying his teeth to the greased paper, the demeanour of the men of the four native regiments at Barrackpur had displayed unmistakable signs of the discontent ? The rage and ire of the natives was especially occasioned by the conduct and attitude of delusional greenhorns, recruited in a hurry, despite no military or administrative experience of value. Most were chicken hearts at single combat, catapulted to glorious fortunes. They could not stand in the sun, much less spill the blood of the fighting natives. What they had was the “system” partial to whites, to their culture and religion, all back-driven and bankrolled by oligarchs led by the Rothschilds. They had control over wealth and resources, the authority to punish and reward, and the mass produced weapons and ammunitions to shock and awe, kill and subdue.

There is material on Rothschild’s involvement in the siphoning off of India’s wealth but 99 times of that is yet unraveled. The Rothschild family owned the trading enterprise, British East India Company. It is they who used Robert Clive for land grabbing and removed him when their purpose was served. Clive was later court marshaled. After Tipu’s death in 1799, the Rothschilds made sure the entire gold was shipped off to their underground vaults in their own ships. Today, the Rothschilds own many times more wealth than the whole of Forbes 500 hold together. 

In those days, Jewish banking families made it a practice to marry their female offspring to spendthrift European aristocrats. In Jewish law, the mixed offspring of a Jewish mother is Jewish. And male heirs always marry Jews. Churchill’s mother was a Rothschilds. His rise to First Lord of Admiralty and Britain’s Prime Ministership was well manoeuvred by his in-laws. The daughter of Jewish banker Ernest Cassel, Pamela, married Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was related to Queen Victoria and Prince Philip. 

Back to the soldier’s “mutiny,” the one at Vellore took place as early as July 10, 1806, in which more than 200 British officers were killed. Soldiers had revolted at Barrackpore in 1824 and in 1852, in North-western Provinces in 1844, and in Punjab in 1849-50. Events reflect the uneasy relationship between the officers and their men, who displayed an obstinate determination to break with their masters rather than continue service on terms that could be disregarded at superiors’ pleasure. 

As was common, Christian missionaries were encouraged and supported by the administration to convert the natives in their units, often by hook or crook. The armymen were made to sit though their preaching everyday. Punishments administered on the men included whipping, corporal torture and making them stand under the blazing sun till they fainted.

Bread And Lotus

Any discussion on the historical events in 1857 must keep in focus the scale it involved : over a million man-miles in just the early months of the War. It would involve elaborate planning and provisioning to sustain the war for about two years. Which is how the mysterious ‘chapati’ and ‘red lotus’ movement, widely reported all over Northern India in late 1856 and early 1857, should be analysed – from the effect they had in serving to keep the native revolutionaries informed and in a state of preparedness. Recent studies, especially in Parag Tope’s Operation Red Lotus, describe in detail very planned troop movements before and after the battles, with illustrated maps.

The book by Parag Tope, a direct descendent of Tatya Tope – the executive mastermind behind the ’57 War of Indian Independence – details the logistical issues that were overcome to allow the Indian troops to march. Hundreds of never before published Urdu letters, written to Tatya during the War, were translated in this effort. The letters provide an insight into Tatya’s administrative acumen in running a full-fledged independent government and demonstrates that the leaders of the war had a clear vision for a free India. His chess like moves and counter moves in the military chronicle, the book sketches, are both a revelation and a fascinating account. 

Maulavi Ahmadullah was another intriguing character, amongst many, in the centre of British attention. He travelled over the Northwest Provinces on a mission which was a mystery to European authorities. It followed that he stayed for sometime at Agra and visited Delhi, Meerut, Patna and Calcutta; and, in April 1857, shortly after his return, he circulated seditious papers throughout Oudh. The executive at Lucknow, alarmed at his progress, despatched a body of troops to seize him. Taken prisoner, the Maulavi was tried and condemned to death but before the sentence could be executed, the War broke out. He escaped from prison and became a confidante of the Begum of Lucknow, the trusted leader of the rebels. 

“That this man was the brain and the hand of the conspiracy there can, I think, be little doubt,” wrote a British contemporary. It was believed that during his travels he devised the scheme of passing on chapatis or unleavened bread over the country far and wide, as a means of spreading awareness of an impending all-out war against the British and a signal to all concerned to be in a state of preparedness.

But no one knew for sure and the British officials were in a tizzy over the chapatis that were arriving everywhere, without any overt sign or script and delivered by messengers who were only bidding as instructed by another equally cipher delivery man. As harmless as it might look, the freckled brown, round chapati — an eternal Indian culinary favourite — caused fear and loathing among the British officers in 1857.

Chapati running’ adopted by the police chowkidars was used as an effective psychological warfare against the British officers. The police chowkidars handed over chapatis, two inch in diameter to other colleagues. They would, in turn, ask them to make some more and pass it on to their counterparts in neighbouring villages. There were around 90,000 policemen who participated in the activity. It was also discovered that the chowkidars obtained receipts after handing over the chapatis. Every  chowkidar  was told that the chapatis were to be given to the hakims (officers) in case they asked for them.

The first mention of this novel strategy was made by G F Harvey, the then commissioner of Agra. While recounting the incidents of 1857-58, he revealed that once while passing through the Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh, the village zamindars told him about this mysterious phenomenon. The Friend of India, an English newspaper, reported in its March 5, 1857 issue that panic spread among British officers when they found that the chapatis had made their way into every police station in the area.

The newspaper wrote that all possible conjectures were made regarding the purpose behind the phenomenon. Some even thought it could be a new system of parcel mail. Inquiries made in the Avadh area about the mysterious distribution of chapatis revealed that they were being sent from the east to the west, and right up to Delhi. The exercise baffled the Britishers to a great extent. The then collector of Gurgaon, M R Ford, wrote an official letter to the commissioner of Delhi, Simon Frazer, pointing out that this was some sort of a signal being sent from village to village in his district. The objective of which, however, could not be ascertained.

Rare documents of the revolt of 1857 indicate that by March 5, 1857, the chapatis had reached far and wide: From Farrukhabad to Gurgaon and from Avadh to Rohilkhand on to Delhi. The chapati rumour resulted in an uneasy atmosphere and prevailed all over the area. The police and the administration were left clueless as the Indian soldiers staged the first armed revolt in Meerut on May 10, 1857. The commissioner of military police, northwest region, W H Kerry, in his report on the uprising quoted the then tehsildar of Meerut, Ganga Prasad, as saying that the mysterious chapatis had reached the southeastern region early that year.

Much later, in his book Life during the Indian mutiny, published in 1910 from London, J W Sherar drew some conclusion about chapati running. He admitted that if the objective behind the strategy was to create an atmosphere of mysterious restlessness, the experiment has been successful.

The chapati movement was set in motion by a cunning group of determined conspirators who had begun plotting the rising months, if not years, in advance. The rapid spread of disorder in 1857– when regiment after regiment had mutinied, and revolts against British rule had sprung up throughout most of northern and central India– made it almost impossible to believe that the rebellion could have been spontaneous.

Lotus flowers and bits of goats’ flesh, so it was rumoured, were also passed from hand to hand during the period. Symbols of unknown significance were chalked on the walls of towns; protective charms were on sale everywhere; an ominous slogan, Sub lal ho gaya hai ( ‘Everything has become red’ ), was being whispered.

The irony is that all this effort actually supplied historians with evidence that the chapati movement had nothing at all to do with the outbreak of disorder some months later– and that the circulation of the breads early in 1857 was nothing more than a bizarre coincidence. But Kim Wagner, who has made the most recent study of the phenomenon, concludes that the movement had its origins in Indore, a princely state still nominally independent of British rule, and that it began as an attempt to ward off the ravages of cholera.

The geographic circulation of the chapattis was not systematic or exponential; their transmission was erratically linear and different ‘currents’ moved at different speeds. Some currents simply ran cold, while others moved in parallel, or paused before continuing. Thus, long after the chapattis reached their northern-most point of Meerut, there was another northwards distribution from Kanpur to Fatehgarh, which was widely reported in the newspapers… The circulation took place along well-established routes of transmission, which followed the main trade and pilgrimage routes between the bigger cities.

At some point the chapattis passed beyond the limits of their meaningful transmission and simply continued through the country as a “blank” message. This allowed different meanings and interpretations to be attributed to them, and the chapattis became an index of people’s thoughts and worries.

Furthermore, the superstitious impulse that still encourages the transmission of chain letters clearly applied in 1857 : Although the original specific meaning of the chapattis had been lost early in the distribution, the dire consequences of breaking the chain of transmission remained, and thus ensured their successful circulation over an immense area. In the event, the chapattis were not ‘harbingers of a coming storm.’ They were what people made them into, and the significance attributed to them was a symptom of the pervasive distrust and general consternation amongst the Indian population during the early months of 1857.

Seen from a distance of 150 years, the chapati movement can appear a quaint anomaly, a strange and colorful rumor of interest mostly to historians and psychologists. And yet it’s just as possible to see the bloody results of the mutual incomprehension between the British and native communities in India as a potent reminder that mistrust and panic can have serious consequences. These are deep waters that we trawl in, and dangerous ones, too.

In The Aftermath

One major gain for the natives from the 1857 War was that the British backed away from their proselytising efforts after and due to this fierce expression of disaffection. Not due to any innate goodness in the British hearts, or any ‘religious’ and ideological ‘liberalism’ that the modern-day Western narrative trots out. 

Administratively too, under the Crown after 1857, the British were forced to reassess their own doings until then : there were more than 75 battles, skirmishes, revolts, mutinies, involving thousands, up to lakhs of Indians across India. And more than double that many conspiracies, plots, hold-ups, explosions, bombings, which were unorganised. These more than 200 violent actions have been completely glossed over by post-colonial Indiaan historians. 

To Indians raised on an official narrative of caste-religion matrix, the 1857 War had a cast of characters that would surprise us : it had kings and common men, hindus and muslims, upper and lower castes. There was Nana Sahib, Azimullah Khan, Tatya Tope, Babu Kuvwar Singh, Rani Laxmibai, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Bhakt Khan, Khan Bahadur Khan, Liyakat Ali, Mangal Pandey, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Ishwari Kumari Devi, Chaudhary Kadam Singh, Mufti Nizamuddin, Rao Tula Ram … The countrymen rose as one against the alien occupiers, their malacious but disguised depradations and their projected superiority.

As the Anglo-Indian War of 1857 continued and wound down, the three leaders, Nana Sahib, Tatya Tope and Feroz Shah disappeared. No one knew what happened to them or where they went. It is usually accepted that the Tatya Tope ‘executed’ by the Colonial Raj as was a straw figure. 

After winning the war at Delhi and presenting the heads of three of his sons to Bahadur Shah Zafar on a platter at Khooni Darwaza, Rothschild’s agents organised an extravagant ball at the Red Fort, even while vandalising the Taj Mahal. The solid gold coated spires  were prised out and replaced with brass imitations. They also prised out the diamonds, saphire, rubies and emeralds, and replaced them with coloured quartz. 

The oligarchs always win.

Journal : Indians in North-East

The festering wounds of #NorthEast … You can be skeptical, dismiss it with disbelief, ignore it with a shrug or pass on with a sense of helplessness … nothing will make the burn in people’s hearts go away.

It will have to be faced, owned up and justice done – one day, some day – by men and women of stronger moral fibre, with greater courage to look at the truth.

Even those who are beating their chest about infiltration and adverse demographic change need to wrench their eyes from mere ostrich-like politicians or time-serving bureaucrats … and look into the eye of these deeply hurt, marginalised people who no longer own their world anymore because that’s how the representatives and agents of the State have treated them and stamped on their hearts !

Delhi is too insensitive, apathetic and callous. And politics is too spent on its electoral chimera. Judges are too toothless and career anchored. And bureaucrats … are far too empowered and unaccountable. So, who ?

While the country is undergoing an awakening of public consciousness regarding rights, safety and oppression of women, we would like to draw attention to a few human rights violation by men in uniform in NorthEast where RAPE is used as a tool of suppression or domination :

(1) 13 years old Rumi Konwar, then student of class 8 of Changnai village, Sibsagar, Assam was raped in front of her father Prafulla Konwar and mother (both were tied and blind folded) on January 30, 1991. No justice was given.

(2) 13 years old Putala Bora, from Digboi was raped by two Army Men of the Punjab Regiment in her house (Case No. 2/91 under S. 376/34 IPC).

(3) 16 years old Lakhi Gogoi, 20 year old Niru Gogoi, 15 year old Meena Gogoi, 16 year old Jamuna Gogoi and 14 year old Punya Gogoi from Lakhipathar, Tinsukia were gang raped, stripped and paraded in public. Later it was found that ten more girls from the village were raped by Army men. Two girls became pregnant later on.

(4) 16 years old Anonla and 17 years old Sunsunla from Arunachal Pradesh, who had come to Assam for medical treatment, were picked up by Indian Army and blindfolded, beaten, kicked with boots, denied food and gave electric shocks for more than two weeks. Anonla later became partially blind.

(5) 14 years old Bhanimai Dutta who was gang raped by Indian Army on October 16, 1991, at No. 2 Khowdang village near Naoboisha area in Lakhimpur District had died due to her injuries. But her family never got any justice till date for their daughter.

(6) 20 years old Raju Barua, at Gohpur in Sonitpur District, who was gang raped by seven army men and killed. Her family stills weeps at injustice.

(7) 16 Year old Nilima Boro and 14 year old Fouduro Boro who were raped by Army on 18th May, 1992 at Satgiri, Khairahari village under Tangla police station of Darrang district.

(8) 28 year old housewife Undibala Roy of Lubdungguri, Bijni in Bongaigaon was raped by Army men on 22nd October, 1991 (Registered case at Bijni Police station – Case No. 89191- uls 376).

(9) The case of Manoroma Devi of Manipur, who was raped and killed by Army Men was protested severely by the women of Manipur (the nude protest with slogans Indian Army rape us).

All of the above are just a few of the thousands and thousands of examples and real people that lives all across NorthEast. We would also like to draw attention to a few innocents killed by Indian Army and the victims are denied justice as the murderers are provided impunity under draconian law AFSPA:

(I) 62-year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi, 18-year old Sinam Chandramani and 8 others were killed on 2nd November, 2002 by Indian Armed forces when they were waiting at a bus stop. This had led Irom Sharmila to begin her decade long fast to repel the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. Yet neither the Army nor the Indian State Machine ever apologized for provided justice to the case. Irom Sharmila continues her hunger strike as Indian Army Officers, our savior and defenders wine and dine every day in their camps, probably mocking the attempts of a mere North Eastern woman to fight against the great Indian Army all by herself!

(II) 6 year old child Debajit Moran was gunned down by Indian Army in 2005 at Dibrugarh. Did any senior official (forget the head of Army) visit the family of the child to seek an apology? Our media and everyone in the society are blind. Why does no one even remember innocent Debojit Moran? Are deaths by Indian Army allowed to go without a criticism because they are defending us from Pakistan?

(III) Young Jatin Gohain, 21 years and student of first year from Dhemaji Town worked as a driver to support his own education and poor family. He was picked by the army and several days later, his father found his innocent son’s dead body at Dhemaji police station with his private parts and legs swollen, his skin roughened and face was swathed in blood. Doctors from Civil Hospital denied giving a post mortem report! Do people of Dhemaji remember this?

(IV) Rising musician and Professor of Sibsagar College, Dr Suresh Phukan was picked up by the Indian army and brutally tortured just because he had sung a song called “Udito Suruj” in 1988! Unidentified chemical was poured into his ears, electric shocks were administered to various private parts of his body and Indian soldiers jumped on his body. Finally he had died on March 13, 1991 succumbing to his injuries and mental shock. Today nobody remembers him.

(V) Young Sarat Sonowal, teacher in Bhadoi Panchali Higher Secondary School at Naharkatia, Dibrugarh was alleged to be picked up by Indian Army on November 30, 1991 and after 9 days of missing and tears to his dependent poor family, his body was asked to be picked up to his family. His entire body was cut into pieces. No post-mortem report or death certificate was issued by the police.

(VI) 80 year old Uma Rajkhowa, Freedom Fighter of India was repeatedly abused and tortured by Army men because he was the father of Arabinda Rajkhowa. He had filed cases against this but to no use.

And loads are there where Men in uniform had committed those kind of heinous crimes against NorthEast people in different states using AFSPA as a discrimination tool. Its uncountable…

News Source: Times of Assam


Journal : The River Sarasvati And Its People

Part I : The Saga Of The Quest

The Saga of the Quest for the River Sarasvati :

M.A. Jayashree, M.A. Narasimhan and Haribhau Vaze

There has been many a saga in the history of mankind that has captured the imagination of generations of humanity. In our millennium we speak of adventures of Marco Polo, Columbus’ discovery of the shores of America, Amundsen’s expedition to the North Pole, Vasco da Gama reaching the shores of Bharata and many more. All these look dramatic and fascinating when we realise they were undertaken more with courage and determination than in the security of reliable information. Yet they succeeded in obtaining for posterity enormous benefits in terms of the perspective about the world that we lived in.

One such saga of recent times is the quest for river Sarasvati. Looking back, we see the formidable obstacles that one faced in trying to investigate the history of a river that was non-existent and believed to be a myth : Was there was a real physical river called Sarasvati or was it just a myth, a poetic creation of the Aryans ? If such a river existed where did it flow ? How are we to trace its source, course and termination ? If it did exist : why, how and when did the river disappear ? If it was an ancient river with claims as the cradle of an ancient civilization, is there any archaeological evidence of the its banks ?

Louis Renous 1947 map of the Sarasvati basin

Added to the confusion was the reverential and emotive association Bharatiyas had with the River Sarasvati, that made them identify every other river, big or small, with the divine river Sarasvati itself. They still have the same inclusive approach and attitude towards the rive Ganga. Thus the Haradvati that flows in the north-west region was also Sarasvati. It was the third (invisble) river at Sangam, the confluence of Ganaga and Yamuna at Prayag. A branch of Ganga near Calcutta, a river flowing from Abu to Khambayat in Gujarat, the river that joins the ocean at the Prabhasa Kshetra … all are called Sarasvati. Under such a condition, in the hostile atmosphere of the world of historians monopolised by western scholars who were bent upon proving that the existence of river Sarasvati was a myth, that all literary evidence were figments of imagination and who, demanding material evidence for proof, declared that the quest and the search for it was an exercise in futility, there were bravehearts who proceeded undeterred.

The “Quest For River Sarasvati” scholars came together under the banner of Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Samiti. Yes, we call them brave because they staked their international academic reputation to chase a myth and to prove that the seeming mirage was in fact a reality. The academic world scoffed at them and laughed at the venture. Well, it did last for more than a decade. Most of them are no longer with us now to celebrate the fruition of their foundational quest. This post is to honour and pay homage to them.

Our deepest appreciation and gratitude goes to pioneer Sri Sridhara Vaman Wakanker and his team Sarasvati Samshodhana Mandal. At the same time we recall that the quest for river Sarasvati has a long history, spanning nearly two centuries. All scholars and lovers of Bharata and its heritage fell under the spell of this mysterious river Sarasvati, after going through the vast Vedic literature. They did their best to verify the physical existence of the river with tools then available. The voluntary attempts of Oldham (1893), Wadia (1938), Amal Ghosh(1960), H.S. Parikh (1965), WilHelmi (1969), Alwin, Goudse, and Dr. Hegde(1978) merit our scholarly attention.

Extensive studies to survey the invisible course of Sarasvati in 1942 by Gen Cunningham, Arthur A. Macdonnel, A.B. Keith and Aurel Stein were well publicized. In 1963, Dr Narasimha Narayana Godbole surveyed the route of the Sarasvati in Rajasthan. Dr. M.A. Krishnan gives us in detail the course of the river in his work, Geology of India and Burma, published in 1968. Dr M.N. Godbole’s monumental work, Rgvedic Sarasvati, based on geological research throws more light on many of the ticklish problems associated with the quest.

The current quest had its origin in 1981, when Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, Nagpur, was celebrating the District History Day at Kurukshetra, in the presence of Sri M.N. Pingale, the Working President of Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, who drew the attention of the audience to the need and relevance of a research work on the lost Vedic river Sarasvati and the possible consequences of that research on the ancient history of Bharata. Dr. Vishnu Sridhar Wakankar, the senior most archaeologist of the country then, explained with great fervor the archaeological importance of the issue. Immediately there was a vociferous demand from the audience for setting up of a Samiti for such a “Quest.” Thus, the All India Project of Sarasvati Shodhan was born.

It took nearly four years to investigate, consolidate, plan and recruit eminent scholars to form a team to launch the Sarasvati Shodhan project. It was termed as Quest Mandal Expedition and was inaugurated on Tuesday, the 19th Nov. 1985 by the steersman of the Quest, Sri M.N. Pingale. The Quest Mandal headed by Padmashri Dr. V.S. Wakankar, with a team of scholars belonging to all branches of knowledge, set out for Adi Badri in Himachal Pradesh, the presumed source of river Sarasvati. Points of fact were jotted down meticulously as and when they emerged during the visits. Photographs were taken wherever they were considered relevant. Audio tapes, about 19, were effectively put to use to collect more important information related to the river. The notes thus prepared covered a wide canvas including literary sources, art, history, poetry, archaeological remains, oral observations, traditional references, etc.

The Quest team also recorded age-old stories and songs which were full of reverential references to the Sarasvati River from the Charans who reside in Palloo, Bikaner and Karani Devi of Rajasthan. The Charans, as is well known, make their living by singing folk-songs with stories of past heroes and legends.

The Quest got a fortunate filip when the team was provided with clinching evidence about the dried-up river Sarasvati. The Arid Zone Research Institute gave authentic data that literally broke through the great haze of obstruction holding up the quest. A NASA satellite launched in 1972 had taken pictures of a dried-up huge river which ran from the Himalayas to the Rann of Kachchh. The images had been analysed by many scientists associated with scientific institutions of India but none had recognised its historic worth. The compiled information handed over by Dr. Agarwal consisted of studies done on this dried-up river bed by Bimal Ghose et al. (1979), Ramasamy, Bakliwal and Verma (1991), Yash Pal et al. (1980).

The accurate scientific data regarding the course of the river and the time when it went dry gave a powerful impetus to the Quest. The images sent by LandSat disclosed the following : The width of the Ghaggar Sarasvati bed was on an average between 6 and 8 km from its entry in Punjab to present-day Marot in Pakistan; the course of Markanda River got diverted to north-east of Kshatrana and even today the river Sarasvati flows through this route during rainy seasons; the dried-up Y-2 route indicated the width of the present day Choutang River and its confluence with Ghaggar near Suratgarh.

It was clear from the received images that the ancient Ghaggar River got bifurcated near Anupgarh, with one branch getting lost near Marot and the other losing itself at Baireena. It meant that during that period the banks of Sarasvati River had spread to these two places. Incidentally, these details point to a possibility of the Vinashana Tirthin Sarasvati, where Balaram of the Mahabharata offered his reverence to his late father, and that it could be situated near about these two places. The Quest team therefore decided to search for :

1. Information about the course of the river from Adi Badri

through the plains and regions close to Sindhusagar.

2. Traces and collections of the remains and reminiscences

in the environment.

But the search route as indicated by the LandSat was a stupendous, as the dried-up bed was expansive. Dr. Wakankar studied the dried-up bed of Sarasvati with his fellow researchers from archaeological point of view. He was thus able to concentrate their month-long quest only on select spots. The Quest team went though Adi Badri, Ambala District, where the Sarasvati slides into the plains after crossing the mountainous area through Kanthghar, and then to the Shivalik mountain ranges starting from Jagadhari(Yugandhara), beyond which stands the mountain Manu, where the Sarasvati, icy and hidden, flows as an undercurrent through the cracks, crevices and cleavages of the mountains.

The team also visited YamunaNagar, Sarasvata Nagar (Mustafabad), and then on to Kurukshetra where the seed of the whole quest had been sown. At Kurukshetra, under the guidance of Pandit Sthanudatta Sharma, the team went to the actual site of the river Sarasvati in the celebrated city. Remnants and reports related to the site gave the team enough information, motivating them to study in depth the city of Kurukshetra in the context of the course of the lost river. Stone implements of the Prehistoric period were collected in a large quantities from all places visited by the team : painted mud-pots of pre-Harappan period, which are also available in the valleys of Sarasvati (Ghaggar) and Drshadvati (Choutang) at Bhagvanpur, Banavali, Sirisha, Mitthal, Raja Karn ka Keela, Doulatpur, Mirjapur, Sudha, Balu, Kudal, Agroha and nearby places. The team also did a close study of 20 to 30 metres long sand-dunes of Bikaner. In Gujarat, the team visited Ambaji mountains, where Bhel trees are in abundance, and then on to Koteshvar where one stream of the Sarasvati flows underneath.


The river, after playing hide and seek, finally emerges on the surface at Siddapur to meet the Nala Sarovar. This mountain range, part of Ambaji, is known as Mainaka, the source of Gurjar Sarasvati. Kunwar, on the banks of Nanuran (Nanukaccha), where the Sarasvati enters the ocean in sevenfolds (saptadha), was the next destination of study. Now Nanu is a sandy desert. Near one of the seven streams, Dr. V.S. Wakankar found pieces of an egg of a Shakha Mrga that helped him to conclude the period of Kunwar could be at least 25-50 thousand years BC. Later, the team came across an old ocean coast harbour called Lothal, which was an ancient city of Nanukaccha. A dockyard specially meant for repair of ships was discovered there. Now there has been an in depth study of Lothal showing the maritime capabilities of our ancestors.

Travelling eastward, on the banks of the Gurjar Sarasvati of ancient times, the team came to the vicinity of the holy Somnath mandir at the junction of rivers Gautami, Hiranmayi and Sarasvati. Thus, the Quest pilgrimage covering a distance of about 4000 km came to an end. Curiously, this Quest did not come up with just a report on the course, date and the civilization that prospered on the banks of the fabled river, as it happens with almost all historical expeditions. It also indicated the possible sites on the banks of Sarasvati for archaeological excavation, the study of which would meet the challenge of proving whether this water mass, which was still flowing underground in most of the places, was really the same river that had its source in Himalayan glaciers.

That seeming impossibility evoked worldwide interest. Many teams of scientists came and did their own investigations and confirmed the existence of the river Sarasvati, proving that most of the narrative history of Bharat, be it folk or of the Vedas, was factual. The spin-off of this information was the opening of another avenue which has never been the forte of history : to resurrect the lost river and bring the hidden Gupta Gamini Sarasvati onto the surface !

That was the task taken up, again, by the Akhil Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Yojana under the title Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalpa. The Prakalpa is now engaged in enabling the waters of Sarasvati flow once again along its course, so that millions of hectares of parched land of this blessed country can become green and give life to over 200 million people. It also provides strength to the devout and vindicates their faith when he and she take a holy dip in their sacred river Sarasvati.

The Prakalpa plans to create National Water Grid in order to reach the Brahmaputra flood waters to Kanyakumari, making every river south of Vidhyas in India a perennial one (jeevanadi) and potentially adding 90 million acres of additional wetland, and enabling four-crop cultivation with availability of water round the year. This revolution would empower rural India consisting of more than half a million villages.

The revival of river Sarasvati is proceeding apace, as part of the National Water Grid : inter-linking of rivers, master plan drawn by National Water Development Agency. The waters of Manasarovar flowing through rivers Sutlej and Beas have already been brought to the Rajasthan Nahar (called Sarasvati Mahanadi Roop Nahar). The Sarasvati Nahar waters have now reached up to Gadhra Road in Barmer District, after traversing a distance of about 1000 km. Another 150 km extension of this Nahar will ensure that Sarasvati River waters will reach Rann of Kachchh and Gujarat.

It’s a miracle of gigantic proportion, my dear reader ! Especially when you consider that the desert of Rajasthan was threatening to extend up to Haryana and even Delhi, the capital city, barely a couple decades before.

The Saraswati Basin Civilisation

Journal : A Page From History

Source :

Chandragupta Maurya has been praised by Indian and foreign authors alike for bestowing prosperity upon his country. Thus, Visakhadatta, the author of the Mudrarakshasa, has treated him as a deity descended upon earth to restore peace in the country, then troubled by barbarians.

Among foreign writers the only one who has accused Chandragupta of tyranny is the Roman historian Justin. But his opinion is in contradiction with the earlier account of Megasthenes, who everywhere refers to the prosperity of the Indian people.

Chandragupta Maurya1

Chandragupta distinguished himself in many dimensions. He was the conqueror of a vast territory, the emancipator of his country, the capable administrator of a great empire, and the harbinger of peace to his people. Considered to be the first historical emperor of India, he was undoubtedly the mightiest ruler of his time and one of the most lustrous stars in the firmament of monarchy.

It is not easy to embark upon a comparison, but as it is one of the best ways of understanding a person, it would be worthwhile to compare Chandragupta with three of the world’s greatest kings : Alexander, Akbar and Napoleon.

Alexander the Great was undoubtedly a great conqueror. We are bound to be dazzled when we recall to mind his wide conquests in a brief space of time, for he died quite young. Yet the truth is that much of what Alexander accomplished had already been planned by his father, Philip, a man of uncommon ability. Alexander had found his field prepared by his father, and thus had little difficulty to face at the outset of his career. In the words of Mr. H. G. Wells ” the true hero of the history of Alexander is not so much Alexander as his father Philip/’

Moreover, the countries conquered by Alexander gained nothing by the change of masters. It may be argued that he had schemes of organisation which were frustrated by his early death. But this is hardly borne out by his career. His vanity was insuperable, and his purpose seems to have been to dazzle the world by his valour. His purpose accomplished, he literally drank himself to death.

Chandragupta, on the other hand, was a man of a different metal. As brave and couragous as Alexander himself, his sole purpose seems to have been to bring peace and honour to his country. He had no advantages of birth and was actually an exile at the outset of his career. He too was a young man when he came on the scene, but in a brief space of time he had not only conquered but thoroughly organized a vast empire, giving all the advantages of a good government to his people.

Akbar, the Moghul monarch, was indeed much like Chandragupta. He has often been compared with Asoka, but in many respects his genius was more aligned with that of Chandragupta. Like Chandragupta, he was a man of ‘blood and iron’. Like him again, he was a great conqueror and a great administrator. But it must be remembered that Akbar had inherited the resources needed for forming a great empire as against Chandragupta who struggled from poverty and exile to power.

The success of Akbar’s administration was more due to the personal qualities of his ministers than to his thorough organisation and even Dr. Vincent Smith has admitted that” Akbar’s machine of government never attained the standard of efficiency reached by the Mauryas eighteen or nineteen centuries before his time.”

Napoleon certainly was one of the most brilliant figures in history. He resembles Chandragupta in as much as he also rose by dint of merit, and not by virtue of his birth. In his early youth he dreamt of an independent Corsica, much as Chandragupta seems to have dreamt of the independence of his country. Later though, Napoleon intent coiled up around mere ambition for conquest, and he actually failed to maintain the consequent empire. In fact, his country gained nothing by his splendid exploits.

Chandragupta was thus, on the whole, an uncommon genius. He was the founder of the greatest Hindu dynasty, to which also belonged the most famous Buddhist and Jain monarchs.

*** * ***

Provision In Respect Of Slavery  in Arthashastra …

A Manual For Social, Political & Economic Administration

Author : Kautilya, Chandragupta’a Prime Minister

“In regard to slavery, Kautilya’s attitude stands apart as a glowing light of liberalism and humanity in a barbaric age. While his contemporary Aristotle was justifying slavery as a divine and a beneficient human institution not only sanctioned by nature, but justified by the circumstances of social existence, Kautilya denounced it and strove to abolish it, characterising it as a custom which could exist only among the savage Mlechchhas ( a term for Greeks in his time).

“He boldly enunciated that among Aryas (free-born) none should be unfree or enslaved. His definition of the Arya was not narrow. According to him, the Sudra was equally an Arya, along with members of the higher castes/’  Chanakya (as Kautilya, came to be known) was one of the pioneers to include the Sudra within the Aryan fold, and his motive must have been to strengthen Aryavarta, the country of Bharata.

“His view on other social matters are also generally liberal and commendable. He was, hence, not without admirers, for Kamandaka, the author of Nitisara, has praised him highly.”

* * *

According to Megasthenes, Greek King Seleukos Nikator’s ambassador in Chandragupta’s court, all Indians were free and not one of them was a slave. But in the light of Arthasastra, we have to modify this statement. As a matter of fact, slavery did exist but a perusal of Arthasastra makes it clear that it was so different from the slavery which prevailed in the west, that a Greek could hardly notice it.

It was forbidden to sell an Arya or freeman (including Sudra) into slavery except at the person’s own option and dire necessity.

“It is no crime/’ says Kautilya, “for Mlechchhas to sell or mortgage the life of their own offspring, but never shall an Arya be subjected to slavery/’ He then proceeds to say that if a man is enslaved for inevitable reasons, he should be soon redeemed.

“But in order to tide over family troubles, to find money for fines or court decrees, or to recover the (confiscated) household implements, if the life of an Arya is mortgaged, they (his kinsmen) shall as soon as possible redeem him (from bondage); and more so if he is a youth or an adult capable of giving help/’

Moreover, a slave in the west had no personal rights; his person was dead. In India, a dasa was little worse than a servant as long as he was not redeemed. His offsprings were free even during his period of bondage. A dasa could even earn independently if he had time from his master’s work, and could regain his Aryahood if his independent savings became equal to the value for which he was purchased.

If a man abused or caused hurt to his slave, or employed the latter to do an ignoble work, the slave became free. Thus it is clear that although there were dasas in India, the kind of slavery prevalent in the west was non-existent in India.

Chandragupta Maurya - Map

Giordano Bruno : The Atheist Numero Uno

The Early Atheist In Perpetual Exile


” Everything, however men may deem it assured and evident,

proves, when it is brought under discussion,

to be no less doubtful than are extravagant and absurd beliefs.”

He coined the phrase “Libertes philosophica.” The right to think, to make philosophy.

Source :

Homage To A Mirror-Heart Long In The Past.

But, To Me, It Seems Like Yesterday …

Bruno was born five years after Copernicus died. He bequeathed an intoxicating idea to the generation that was to follow him. We hear a lot in our own day about the expanding universe. We have learned to accept it as something big. The thought of the Infinity of the Universe was one of the great stimulating ideas of the Renaissance. It was no longer a 15th Century God’s backyard. Bruno tried to imagine a god whose majesty should dignify the majesty of the stars. He devised no new metaphysical quibble nor sectarian schism. He was not playing politics. He was fond of feeling deep thrills over high visions and he liked to talk about his experiences. And all of this refinement went through the refiners’ fire — that the world might be made safe from the despotism of the ecclesiastic 16th Century savages. He suffered a cruel death and achieved a unique martyr’s fame. He has become the Church’s most difficult alibi. She can explain away the case of Galileo with suave condescension. But Bruno sticks in her throat.

When he was thirteen years old, he began to go to school at the Monastery of Saint Domenico. It was a famous place. Thomas Aquinas, himself a Dominican, had lived there and taught. Within a few years Bruno had become a Dominican priest. He was frank, outspoken and lacking in reticence. It was not long before he got himself into trouble. It was not Bruno’s behavior but his opinions that got him into trouble. So he went away from school, his home town, his own country, looking for a congenial atmosphere for his intellectual integrity.

It is difficult not to get sentimental about Bruno. He was a man without a country and, finally, without a church. There, near the end of the 16th Century, he was closed in on all sides by the authority of priestly tradition, making a philosophical survey of the world which the science of the time was disclosing. The scientists themselves were too intrigued with telescopes, microscopes and chemical glassware, to bother about philosophy.

In 1581 Bruno went to Paris and delivered lectures on philosophy, infusing people with the fire of his ideas. His reputation reached King Henry III, who became a real patron in making a success of his short career in Paris. He published his work, De Umbras Idearum ( The Shadows of Ideas ), which was shortly followed by Ars Mernoriae ( Art of Memory ). He held that ideas are only the shadows of truth and denied the value of establishing Church dogma with reason. That, Christianity was entirely irrational and contrary to philosophy, and it disagreed with other religions.

In his fourth work he selects the Homeric sorcerer Circi who changed men into beasts and makes Circi discuss with her handmaiden a type of error which each beast represents. The book ‘Cantus Circaeus,’ The Incantation of Circe, shows Bruno working with the principle of the association of ideas, and continually questioning the value of traditional knowledge methods.

In the year 1582, at the age of 34 he wrote a play Il Candelajo, The Chandler. Its protagonist is a candle-maker who works with tallow and grease and then has to go out and vend his wares with shouting and ballyhoo : “Behold in the candle … that which shall clarify certain shadows of ideas … I need not instruct you of my belief. Time gives all and takes all away; everything changes but nothing perishes. One only is immutable, eternal and ever endures, one and the same with itself. With this philosophy my spirit grows, my mind expands. Whereof, however obscure the night may be, I await the daybreak, and they who dwell in day look for night … Rejoice therefore, and keep whole, if you can, and return love for love.”

When the novelty of Bruno’s ideas had worn off on the French, he went to England to begin all over again. With a fresh audience. He did not make contact with Oxford which, like other European universities of the time, paid scholastic reverence to the authority of Aristotle. It was not the methods of Aristotle nor his fine mind that was so much issue, as it was the authority of Aristotle. That, a thing must be believed because Aristotle said so.

In his work The Ash Wednesday Supper, a story of a private dinner with English guests, Bruno spreads the Copernican doctrine as new astronomy offered to the world, upon which people were laughing heartily because it was at variance with the teachings of Aristotle. Bruno pushed a spirited propaganda in in favour of new truths when, between 1582 and 1592, there was hardly a teacher in Europe who was openly and actively spreading news of the “universe” that Copernicus had charted.

Having no secure place in either Protestant or Roman Catholic religious communities, Bruno carried on with his long fight against terrible odds. He had lived in Switzerland and France and was now in England, which he soon left for Germany. He translated books, read proofs, and got together groups and lectured for whatever he could get for it. It requires no great stretch of the imagination to picture him as a man who mended his own clothes and was often cold, hungry and shabby. There are only a few things that we know about Bruno with great certainty and these facts are the ideas which he left behind in his practically forgotten books, the bootleg literature of their day.

But Bruno continued to write books. In his book De la Causa, principio et uno … On Cause, Principle, and Unity … we find his most prophetic phrases pre-empting Newton, Einstein and Heisenberg :

“This entire globe, this star, not being subject to death, and dissolution and annihilation being impossible anywhere in Nature, from time to time renews itself by changing and altering all its parts. There is no absolute up or down, as Aristotle taught; no absolute position in space; but the position of a body is relative to that of other bodies. Everywhere there is incessant relative change in position throughout the universe, and the observer is always at the center of things.”

Amongst other works, he wrote : The Infinity, The Universe And Its Worlds and The Transport Of Intrepid Souls. One of his works discusses the pretensions of superstition. This “ass,” says Bruno, is to be found everywhere, not only in the church but in courts of law and even in colleges. Elsewhere, he flays the pedantry he finds in Catholic and Protestant cultures. In yet another book, we find him leaving a clue for the French philosopher, Descartes, to take up in the next century. The book was written five years before Descartes was born. It says : “Who so itcheth to Philosophy must set to work by putting all things to doubt.”

By the year 1582, Bruno had issued very science-centered thoughts, considered heretical by the clerical authorities of southern Europe. He had written of an infinite universe that had no room for a yet greater entity called God. That blasphemed against schema outlined by Aristotle and tenets in Genesis taught by the Church and universally believed by low and high everywhere. Bruno’s philosophy negated the mysteries of Virgin Mary, Crucifixion and Mass. He seemed to have been so absorbed in truths he hurriedly exposed that he did think of them as heresies. He considered the Bible as a book which only the ignorant could take literally and the Church’s methods were, to say the least, unfortunate.

After 14 years of wandering about Europe Bruno turned his steps toward home. Perhaps he was homesick. After twenty years in exile, we may imagine him craving the sound of his own native tongue and the companionship of his own countrymen. Some writers have it that he was framed. For Bruno to go back to Italy is as strange a paradox as the rest of his life seems in that bigoted era.

For six years from 1593, he lay in a Papal prison. Was he forgotten, tortured ? The Papal authorities have till date not summoned enough the courage to overcome their shame and publish the historical records. Bruno was interrogated several times by the Holy Office and convicted by its chief theologians. He was given forty days to consider his position and, by and by, he promised to recant but did not desist from his “follies.” He got another forty days for deliberation but did nothing but baffle the Pope and the Inquisition. At last, in the custody of the Inquisitor, on 9th February, Bruno was taken to the palace of the Grand Inquisitor to hear his sentence, on his knees.

Bruno answered the sentence, of death by fire, with damnation : “Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it with.” He was given eight more clays to see whether he would repent. But that was futile.

Bruno was led to the stake on the 17th of February, 1600. He was offered a crucifix, which he pushed away with scorn.

Six months later, Bruno’s works were placed on the Index Expurgatorius; his books became rare. They never gained popularity and were soon forgotten. As was the martyr himself… the pioneer who roused Europe from its long intellectual blindness.

Galileo never met Bruno in person and makes no mention of him in his works, though he must have read some of them. He may not be blamed for being diplomatic enough to withhold mention of a recognised heretic. Sixteen years after Bruno met his fate, Galileo faced the Inquisition in the same hall that had sentenced the predecessor !

Bruno is the numero uno among all martyrs who were persecuted for their beliefs. He was not a religious sectarian, caught up in the psychology of a hysterical mob. He was a sensitive, imaginative poet, fired with the enthusiasm of a larger vision of a larger universe … and he fell into the ‘ error ‘ of heretical belief. He was kept in a dark dungeon for years, for his quest of an order that admits intellectual integrity. And, at the end, he was taken out to a blazing market place and roasted alive.

It is an incredible story. The “Church” will never outlive him. Amen.

The Sannyasi Rebellion

I use here material entirely available on wiki page @


The Sannyasi Rebellion refers to short period of a dozen odd years through the 1770s, after the Battle of Plassey that Clive won in 1757 and the great famine of 1770 in Bengal province. Those involved were Hindu renunciates, who were avowedly without any root in the world and were not attached to anything material or mental, including their very body. The movement, if it could called, also had Muslim “fakirs” who had taken to ascetic life along lines institutionalised in Sanatan way of life.

The rebellion was limited to Murshidabad and Baikunthapur forests of Jalpaiguri, in north-west of the province. It has been variously considered in significance as : a law and order problem; early war for India’s independence from British rule; reaction to atrocities during tax collection, especially at a time of severe and widespread starvation, since British East India Company had acquired that right after its victory at Plassey.

The Rebellion itself prompted recognition as a phenomenon with three distinct extended events over a couple of decades …

One, refers to a large body of ascetics – Hindu sannyasis – who traveled from North India to different parts of Bengal and beyond, to shrines in north-east region including Assam. En route, it was customary for many of these holy men to ask for monetary support from village heads and local landlords who, in better times, generally obliged. However, with “diwani” or collection rights won by East India Company, the regime’s tax demands from the populace increased and local landlords and headmen were unable to pay both the ascetics and the English mercenaries. Crop failures, and famine, which killed ten million people, or an estimated one-third of the population of Bengal, compounded the problems when much of the arable land lay fallow.

In 1771, about 150 of the renunciates were put to death by the British Company troops, for no apparent reason. It led to a violent retaliation, especially in Natore in Rangpur, now in modern Bangladesh. Some historians however argue that the particular reaction never gained popular support and hence could not be considered a major cause behind the rebellion.

The other two movements involved a sect of Hindu ascetics, the Dasnami Naga sannyasis. It was alleged that they engaged in lending out money on interest while passing through the region and collected it on their way back. The British looked upon this as an encroachment on their domain and declared the Dasnamis as brigands, liable for criminal offense. They arranged not only for prevention of such money gathering, which right they felt belonged to the Company, but also to stop their entry into the province. The entire propaganda may have been a cover, since a large body of people on the move would always be a challenge and a possible threat to law and order administrators anywhere.

Most such clashes are recorded during the years following the great famine; but they continued sporadically up until 1802. The rebellion actually spread all over the province during those last three decades of 18th Century. Attempts by Company’s forces to prevent the sannyasis and fakirs from entering the province, or from collecting their money, met with resistance and fierce clashes often ensued. In these instances, the regime’s troops were not always victorious, inviting cheers from the oppressed population of the day. The Company’s hold was poor over territories in far-flung and forested areas of Birbhum and Midnapore districts, as a result of which it often faced reverses in their clash with Naga ascetics and suffered humbling losses.

The Sannyasi rebellion was the first of a series of revolts that the British faced in western districts of Bengal province, which included practically the whole of present-day eastern states of Bihar, Odisha and Paschim Banga. The Chuar Rebellion of Midnapore and Bankura took place 1798 – 99, Laik Rebellion in Midnapore extended through 1806 – 16, and the Santhal Revolt posed a severe task in 1855 – 56.

The inspiration the Sannyasi Rebellion gave to these uprisings that followed is without doubt. Later, it was instituted in vernacular literature by India’s first modern novelist, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. His novel, Ananda Math ( Monastery Of Bliss ), inspired many a rebel in early 20th Century and its song, Vande Mataram, is regarded as the National Song of India.

Alipore Case : A Page From History

A Chapter From Sri Aurobindo’s Life

The Alipore Bomb Case took place against suspects involved in a bomb attack on April 30, 1908, targeting Magistrate Kingsford at Muzaffarpur in Bihar. The former Chief Magistrate of Calcutta Presidency was known for handing out especially harsh sentences on young political activists who, under his judicial responsibility, were also subjected to harsh corporal humiliation. In consequence, the powerful Englishman was sentenced by a secret trial-in-absence by “Jugantar” hardliners at Aurobindo Ghose’s family home in Manicktala. To execute the judgment, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki travelled from Calcutta, duly studied Kingsford’s movements and chalked out the plan to assassinate him in the evening of that fateful day, when the target was expected to emerge from the European Club. The hurl landed on the horse carriage but not on the marked man. it killed two British women instead, the wife and daughter of barrister Pringle Kennedy. In the aftermath, Prafulla shot himself before his arrest in Mokama and Khudiram sounded the revolutionary’s signal call of “Vande Mataram” while he was led to the gallows in Muzaffarpur jail, after the verdict in May 1909.

The bomb attack was one of the many daring deeds by nationalist missionaries, fired by the cause of freedom from British rule in general. Distinct from apologetic moderates in the Congress, they were men who were prepared to use all means at their disposal to achieve their avowed aim which, at the time, was particularly representative of public anger directed against partitioning Bengal in October 1905, broadly between Hindu and Muslim majority areas. The decision was seen as a devious but blatant act of the English rulers’ attempt at perpetuating their reign through implementing a “divide and rule” policy.

The local police immediately swooped on a property of Aurobindo Ghose. His writings and letters were confiscated by the police. His family’s Manicktala garden premises where Barindra, Aurobindo’s younger brother, and other activists had been training was also raided. Along with many activists, Aurobindo Ghose was arrested on charges of planning and overseeing the attack. He was kept in solitary confinement in Alipore Jail through the trial duration, barring a few days of common stay strategically allowed by the investigating officer, Shamsul Alam, upon the advice of an approver in their midst.

In May, 1908, when the trial began, 49 people stood accused, 206 witnesses were called, around 400 documents were filed with the court and more than 5000 exhibits were produced including bombs, revolvers and acids. The trial continued for a year (1908-1909) and the judgment held Khudiram Bose as guilty.

The trial occasioned an intense battle, overt and covert, between the resourceful might of alien masters of the land and the irrepressible zeal of the nationalists. The high handed foul play of one was countered by the other with deadly effects. During the trial a revolver was smuggled into the jail that enabled Kanailal Dutt and Satyen Bose to kill Naren Gosain for being an approved informer. Kanai and Satyen refused to appeal and were hanged. On January 24, 1909 Biren Dattagupta killed Shamsul Alam, the investigating Deputy Superintendent of Police, in the Calcutta High Court. And, on February 10, Charu Basein murdered the prosecutor, Ashutosh Biswas, outside the Alipore courthouse. Neither assassin defended himself and both were hanged.

Aurobindo Ghose was defended by young Chittaranjan Das, in Alipore Sessions Court, the trial proceedings presided over by Judge C.P. Beachcroft. The counsel concluded his defence with a fervour and an eloquence that stands out even today :

My appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, the agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India but across distant seas and lands. Therefore, I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this Court, but before the bar of the High Court of History.

The Judge sentenced Barindra Ghosh and Ullaskar Dutt to death; Upendra Nath Banerjee, Bibhuti Bhusan Roy, Hrishikesh Kanjilal, Birendra Sen, Sudhir Ghosh, Indra Nundy, Abinash Bhuttacharjee, Soilendra Bose and Hem Chunder Dass to transportation for life and forfeiture of all property; Indu Bhusan Roy to transportation for life and forfeiture of property; Poresh Mullick, Sishir Ghosh and Nirapado Roy to transportation for ten years and forfeiture of property; Asoke Nundy, Balkrishna Kane and Susil Sen to transportation for seven years; Kristo Jiban Sanyal to one year’s rigorous imprisonment; and acquitted Noren Buxshi, Sochindra Sen, Nolini Gupta, Purno Sen, Bijoy Nag, Kanjilal Shaha, Hemendra Ghosh, Dharani Gupta, Nogen Gupta, Birendra Ghosh, Bijoy Bhuttacharjee, Hem Chundra Sen, Provas Dey, Dindayal Bose, Debobroto Bose, Nokhillessur Roy and Aurobindo Ghose.

F W Daly, wrote after the judgment : “Arabindo, as usual, looked stoically indifferent, but seemed well pleased with himself when he was allowed to walk out and leave the Court. The accused all embraced Baren in turn. Hem Das for the first time looked seriously depressed. I think he was disappointed at not being sentenced to death…”

* * *

Aurobindo had been engaged in yoga practice for a few years by the time he spent that year in solitary confinement. After attending the Surat session of the Congress in 1907, Aurobindo met Vishnu Bhaskar Lele, aMaharashtrian yogi in Baroda. They retired for three days into seclusion where, following Lele’s instructions, Aurobindo had his first major experience, called nirvana – a state of complete mental silence, free of all thought or mental activity.Later, while awaiting trial as a prisoner in AliporeCentral Jail in CalcuttaAurobindo had a number of mystical experiences. In his letters, Sri Aurobindo mentions that while in jail as under-trial, the spirit of Swami Vivekananda visited him for two weeks and spoke about higher planes of consciousness leading to the supermind.

He later said, “I have spoken of a year’s imprisonment. It would have been more appropriate to speak of a year’s living in an ashram or a hermitage. The only result of the wrath of the British Government was that I found God.”

Sri Aurobindo Recounts

A Day During His Trial At Alipore Court, 1908

The nature of the case was a little strange. Magistrate, counsel, witnesses, evidence, exhibits, accused, all appeared a little outer. Watching, day after day, the endless stream of witnesses and exhibits, the counsel’s unvaried dramatic performance, the boyish frivolity and light-heartiness of the youthful magistrate, looking at the amazing spectacle I often thought that instead of sitting in a British court of justice we were inside a stage of some world of fiction. Let me describe some of the odd inhabitants of that kingdom.

The star performer of the show was the government counsel, Mr. Norton. Not only the star performer, but he was also its composer, stage manager and prompter — a versatile genius like him must be rare in the world. Counsel Mr. Norton hailed from Madras, hence it appeared he was unaccustomed and inexperienced in the common code and courtesy as it obtained among the barristers of Bengal. He had been at one time a leader of the National Organisation, and for that reason might have been incapable of tolerating opposition and contradiction, and in the habit of punishing opponents. Such natures are known as ferocious. I cannot say whether Mr. Norton had been the lion of Madras Corporation, but he certainly was the king among beasts at the Alipore court. It was hard to admire his depth of legal acumen — which was as rare as winter in summer. But in the ceaseless flow of words, and through verbal quips, in the strange ability to transmute inconsequential witness into something
serious, in the boldness of making groundless statements or statements with little ground, in riding roughshod over witnesses and junior barristers and in the charming ability to turn white into black, to see his incomparable genius in action was but to admire him. Among the great counsels there are three kinds — those who, through their legal acumen, satisfactory exposition and subtle analysis can create a favourable impression on the judge; those who can skilfully draw out the truth from the witnesses and by presenting the facts of the case and the subject under discussion draw the mind of the judge or the jury towards themselves; and those who through their loud speech, by threats and oratorical flow can dumbfound the witness and splendidly confuse the entire issue, can win the case by distracting the intelligence of the judge or the jury. Mr. Norton is foremost in this third category.

This is by no means a defect. The counsel is a worldly person, he takes money for his service, to gain the intention of the client is his duty, is what he is there for. Now, according to the British legal system the bringing out of truth by the contending parties, complainant and defendant, is not the real purpose, to win the case, by hook or by crook, is what it is really after. Hence the counsel must bend his energies towards that end, else he would be unfaithful to the law of his being. If God has not endowed one with other qualities then one must fight with such qualities as one possesses, and win the case with their help. Thus Mr. Norton was but following the law of his own being (
svadharma). The government paid him a thousand rupees a day. In case this turned out to be a useless expenditure the government would be loser, Mr. Norton was trying heart and soul to prevent such a loss to the government. But in a political case, the accused have to be given wide privileges and not to emphasise doubtful or uncertain evidence were rules germane to the British legal system. Had Mr. Norton cared to remember this convention it would not have, I feel, harmed the case. On the other hand, a few innocent persons would have been spared the torture of solitary imprisonment and innocent Ashok Nandi might have even been alive. The counsel’s leonine nature was probably at the root of the trouble. Just as Holinshed and Plutarch had collected the material for Shakespeare’s historical plays, in the same manner the police had collected the material for this drama of a case. And Mr. Norton happened to be the Shakespeare of this play. I, however, noticed a difference between Shakespeare and Mr. Norton: Shakespeare would now and then leave out some of the available material, but Mr. Norton never allowed any material, true or false, cogent or irrelevant, from the smallest to the largest, to go unused; on top of it he could create such a wonderful plot by his self-created and abundant suggestion, inference and hypothesis that the great poets and writers of fiction like Shakespeare and Defoe would have to acknowledge defeat before this grand master of the art. The critic might say that just as Falstaff’s hotel bill showed a pennyworth of bread and countless gallons of wine, similarly in Norton’s plot “an ounce of proof was mixed with tons of inference and suggestion”. But even detractors are bound to praise the elegance and construction of the plot. It gave me great happiness that Mr. Norton had chosen me as the protagonist of this play. Like Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost, in Mr. Norton’s plot at the centre of the mighty rebellion stood I, an extraordinarily sharp, intelligent and powerful, bold, bad man! Of the national movement I was the alpha and the omega, its creator and saviour, engaged in undermining the British empire. As soon as he came across any piece of excellent or vigorous writing in English he would jump and loudly proclaim, Aurobindo Ghose! All the legal and illegal, the organised activities or unexpected consequences of the movement were the doings of Aurobindo Ghose! and when they are the doings of Aurobindo Ghose then when even lawfully admissible they must contain hidden illegal intentions and potentialities. He probably thought that if I were not caught within two years, it would be all up with the British empire. If my name ever appeared on any torn sheet of paper, Mr. Norton’s joy knew no bounds, with great cordiality he would present it at the holy feet of the presiding magistrate. It is a pity I was not born as an Avatar, otherwise thanks to his intense devotion and ceaseless contemplation of me for the nonce, he would surely have earned his release, mukti, then and there and both the period of our detention and the government’s expenses would have been curtailed. Since the sessions court declared me innocent of the charges Norton’s plot was sadly shorn of its glory and elegance. By leaving the Prince of Denmark out of Hamlet the humourless judge, Beachcroft, damaged the greatest poem of the twentieth century. If the critic is allowed his right to alter poetic compositions, such loss of meaning can hardly be prevented. Norton’s other agony was that some of the other witnesses too were so caused that they had wholly refused to bear evidence in keeping with his fabricated plot. At this Norton would grow red with fury and, roaring like a lion, he would strike terror in the heart of the witness and cower him down. Like the legitimate and irrepressible anger of a poet when his words are altered or of a stage manager when the actor’s declamation, tone or postures go against his directions, Norton felt a comparable loss of temper. His quarrel with barrister Bhuban Chatterji had this holy orsАttvic anger as its root. Such an inordinately sensitive person as Mr. Chatterji I have not come across. He had no sense of time or propriety. For instance, whenever Mr. Norton sacrificed the distinction between the relevant and the irrelevant, tried to force odd arguments purely for the sake of poetic effect, Mr. Chatterji would invariably get up and raise objections and declare these as inadmissible. He did not appreciate that these were being furnished not because they were relevant or legal, but because they might serve the purpose of Norton’s stagecraft. At such impropriety not Norton alone but Mr. Birley could hardly contain himself. Once Mr. Birley addressed Chatterji in a pathetic tone: “Mr. Chatterji, we were getting on very nicely before you came.” Indeed so, if one raises objections at every word the drama does not proceed, nor has the audience the joy of it.

If Mr. Norton was the author of the play, its protagonist and stage manager, Mr. Birley may well be described as its patron. He seemed to be a credit to his Scotch origin. His figure was a symbol or reminder of Scotland. Very fair, quite tall, extremely spare, the little head on the long body seemed like little Auchterlonie sitting on top of the sky-kissing Auchterlonie monument, or as if a ripe coconut had been put on the crest of Cleopatra’s obelisk! Sandy-haired, all the cold and ice of Scotland seemed to lie frozen on his face. So tall a person needed an intelligence to match, else one had to be sceptical about the economy of nature. But in this matter, of the creation of Birley, probably the Creatrix had been slightly unmindful and inattentive. The English poet Marlowe has described this miserliness as “infinite riches in a little room” but encountering Mr. Birley one has an opposite feeling, infinite room in little riches. Finding so little intelligence in such a lengthy body one indeed felt pity. Remembering how a few such administrators were governing thirty crores of Indians could not but rouse a deep devotion towards the majesty of the English masters and their methods of administration. Mr. Birley’s knowledge came a cropper during the cross-examination by Shrijut Byomkesh Chakravarty. Asked to declare when he had taken charge of the case in his own benign hands and how to complete the process of taking over charge of a case, after years of magistracy, Mr.
Birley’s head reeled to find these out. Unable to solve the problem he finally tried to save his skin by leaving it to Mr. Chakravarty to decide.

Even now among the most complex problems of the case the question remains as to when Mr. Birley had taken over this case. The pathetic appeal to Mr. Chatterji, which I have quoted earlier, will help one to infer Mr. Birley’s manner of judgment. From the start, charmed by Mr. Norton’s learning and rhetoric, he had been completely under his spell. He would follow, so humbly, the road pointed out by Norton. Agreeing with his views, he laughed when Norton laughed, grew angry as Norton went angry. Looking at this daft childlike conduct one sometimes felt tenderly and paternally towards him. Birley was exceedingly childlike. I could never think of him as a magistrate, it seemed as if a school student suddenly turned teacher, was sitting at the teacher’s high desk. That was the manner in which he conducted the affairs of the court. In case someone did not behave pleasantly towards him, he would scold him like a schoolmaster. If any one of us, bored with the farce of a case, started to talk among ourselves, Mr. Birley would snap like a schoolmaster, in case people did not obey he would order everybody to keep standing and if this was not done at once he would tell the sentry to see to it. We had grown so accustomed to the schoolmasterish manner that when Birley and Chatterji had started to quarrel we were expecting every moment that the barrister would now be served with the stand up order. But Mr. Birley adopted an opposite course Shouting “Sit down, Mr. Chatterji”, he made this new and disobedient pupil of the Alipore School take his seat. Just as when a student asks questions or demands further explanation an
irritated teacher threatens him, so whenever the advocate representing the accused raised objections Mr. Birley would threaten him. Some witnesses gave Norton a hell of a time. Norton wanted to prove that a particular piece of writing was in the handwriting of such-and-such accused. If the witness said “No sir, this is not exactly like that handwriting, but may be, one cannot be sure,” — many witnesses answered like that — Norton would become quite agitated. Scolding, shouting, threatening, he would try somehow to get the desired answer. And his last question would be, “What is your belief? Do you think it is so or not?” To this the witness could say neither “yes” nor “no”, every time, again and again, he would repeat the same answer and try to make Norton understand that he had no “belief” in the matter and was swayed between scepticisms. But Norton did not care for such an answer. Every time he would hurl the same question, like thunder, at the witness: “Come, sir. what is your belief?” Mr. Birley, in his turn, would catch fire from the embers of Norton’s anger, and thunder from his high seat above: “
Tomar biswas ki achay?”

Poor witness! he would be in a dilemma. He had no “biswas” (belief), yet on one side of him was ranged the magistrate, and on the other, like a hungry tiger, Norton was raging in a circle to disembowel him and get at the priceless never-to-be-had “biswas”. Often the “biswas” would not materialise, and his brain in a whirl, the sweating witness would escape with his life from the torture chamber. Some who held their life dearer than their “biswas” would make good their escape by offering an artificial “biswas” at the feet of Mr. Norton, who also, now highly pleased, would conduct the rest of the cross examination with care and affection. Because such a counsel had been matched with a magistrate of the same calibre the case had all the more taken on the proportions of a play.

Though a few of the witnesses went against Mr. Norton the majority answered in support of his questions. Among these there were few familiar faces. One or two we of course knew. Of these Devdas Karan helped to dispel our boredom and made us hold our sides with laughter, for which we shall be eternally grateful to him. In course of giving evidence he said that at the time of the Midnapore Conference when Surendrababu had asked from his students devotion to the teacher,
gurubhakti, Aurobindobabu had spoken out: “What did Drona do?” Hearing this Mr. Norton’s eagerness and curiosity knew no bounds, he must have thought “Drona” to be a devotee of the bomb or a political killer or someone associated with the Manicktola Garden or the Student’s Store. Norton may have thought that the phrase meant that Aurobindo Ghose was advising the giving of bombs to Surendrababu as a reward instead of gurubhakti. For such an interpretation would have helped the case considerably. Hence he asked eagerly: “What did Drona do?” At first the witness was unable to make out the nature of the (silly) question. And for five minutes a debate went on, in the end throwing his hands high, Mr. Karan told Norton: “Drona performed many a miracle.” This did not satisfy Mr. Norton. How could he be content without knowing the whereabouts of Drona’s bomb? So he asked again: “What do you mean by that? Tell me what exactly he did.” The witness gave many answers, but in none was Dronacharya’s life’s secret unravelled as Norton would have liked it. He now lost his temper and started to roar. The witness too began to shout. An advocate, smiling, expressed the doubt that perhaps the witness did not know what Drona had done. At this Mr. Karan went wild with anger and wounded pride,abhimАna. “What”, he shouted, “I, I do not know what Drona had done? Bah, have I read the Mahabharata from cover to cover in vain?” For half an hour a battle royal waged between Norton and Karan over Drona’s corpse. Every five minutes, shaking the Alipore judge’s court, Norton hurled his question: “Out with it, Mr. Editor! What did Drona do?” In answer the editor began a long cock and bull story, but there was no reliable news about what Drona had done. The entire court reverberated with peals of laughter. At last, during tiffin time, Mr. Karan came back after a little reflection with a cool head, and he suggested this solution of the problem, that poor Drona had done nothing and that the half-hour long tug of war over his departed soul had been in vain, it was Arjuna who had killed his guru, Drona. Thanks to this false accusation, Dronacharya, relieved, must have offered his thanks at Kailasha to Sadashiva, that because of Mr. Karan’s evidence he did not have to stand in the dock in the Alipore bomb conspiracy case. A word from the editor would have easily established his relationship with Aurobindo Ghose. But the all-merciful Sadashiva saved him from such a fate.

Bengal Revolutionaries : Their Secret Oath

This was an exhibit produced during the Alipore Bomb Case implicating the Ghose brothers, Arbinda and Barindra. The latter was instrumental in setting up a “secret society” of nationalist missionaries in Bengal that, with Aurobindo’s journalistic resources and national reach, was in tune with the country’s “hot” hearts in the underground. These hardliners took the initiative beyond the ‘appealing’ moderates of Congress and raised the terms of India’s freedom struggle from demand for autonomy to claim for independence.

The exhibit contains the solemn oaths, in Bengali and Sanskrit, which the revolutionaries took …


Vow-taking: —

Thou sword — everlasting emblem of Powers, knowing that in Thee — the soul image of Janurdhani Karali (Goddess Kali), the primordial mother of India, lies hidden, I touch Thee by my head and do (hereby) bind myself for the purpose of extirpating the Asuras (not Suras or Debatas, i.e., enemies of Debatas).

Thou Bhagabat Gita (a sacred book of that name), the source of all, pregnant with all truths, Thou sacred Veda, knowing that in Thee lies hidden the spirit (genius) of Sri Krishna, incarnation of Bisnu the preserving element of the Hindu Trinity, the founder of unity in India and the destroyer of the Asuras, I bow down and touch Thee and do (hereby) bind myself for the purpose of extirpating the Asuras.

I invoke the all-powerful God to help and witness my taking this vow.

I touch the feet of my religious Guru (preceptor), the source of virtue and knowledge, and do (hereby) swear.

I call to mind the feet of my mother — the personification of my mother country — and do (hereby) swear.

In the name of the great leaders, the God-sent apostles, I do (hereby) swear.

  1. That from to-day I take up the task of setting up Dharma Rajya in India by removing and doing away with all obstacle, I do (hereby) offer my life to achieve this end.
  2. That I shall not care for those that are against this aim and Dharma (religion), be they swadeshi or foreigner.
  3. That I shall not do anything that is opposed to the aims of our mandali(community).
  4. That I shall bow down and carry out all orders of the leaders of the mandali.
  5. That I shall never disclose the secret orders and resolutions of the mandali at the sacrifice of my life.
  6. That I shall bear all difficulties without being moved and run at the sacrifice of whatever I have — wealth, life, honour, reputation. I shall do my duty in regard to you.
  7. That if any way I dishonour or break this vow, let the curses of the great patriots, ancestors, and of God that knows the heart soon overtake and destroy me.

16th May 1908.


Om. (Trinity) let there be peace.

Om. Shome Bharat Lakshmi. We invoke (pray) Barun, Agni, Manu, Aditya, Bisnu, Surya, Bharma, and Brahaspati (names of gods of Hindu mythology).

Om. Let there be an auspicious day in this duty of establishing Dharma Rajya.

Preceptor (religious initiator) — Om. Auspicious day. —

Om. Let there be peace in this duty

Preceptor — Om. Be it so.

Om. Let there be success in this duty.

Preceptor — Om. Be it so.

Invoking the ancestors that were born of heroes.

(We) bow down to the original heroes that set the current of life in this world and the germs of life and perfect individualities — we resign ourselves to them.

(We) bow down to the Aryans that were reared up in the laps of Bharat (India) full of wealth and crops. (We) bow down to Thee Brahman and other Rishis that reared and brought up the infant Aryans fired with patriotism. (We) bow down to Thee Manu and other heroes that were powerful as the Sun and (pious) as Judhisthir and other Rishi-like kings. In the life-play of Bamdeb (son of Basudeb or Sri Krishna) the key-note always and invariably was to set up a Dharma Rajya. We bow down to Thee — the ideal heroes of India that sacrificed their lives to save mother-land from the grip of foreigners and thus achieved the glorious end of the heroes — that never cared for their lives and properties, when they had to serve their country. The image of patriotism has appeared before our mind’s eye. We bow down to Thee — our countrymen whose good wishes, benedictions, and encouragements fired me — us — to-day. (We) now call men of the world before whom we are ashamed to appear, (for) we are able to save the honour of (our) country.

In the fire of our resolve to save the mother country, let their hatred and mother India’s shame be the sacrificial ghee (clarified butter). My heart will be burning — my mind will be burning, so long as this fire of her shame be not extinguished. We renounce all pleasures, ornaments, etc.

Remembering country’s pride (golden deed) — Devas sing the glory of those that are deserving in India (Bharat Bhumi — land of Bharat, a king of primeval age. India was named after him).

It is the deeds which lead men either to Heaven or Hell.

Then (Atha) resolve — Bisnu (the preserving deity of Hindu Trinity).

Om. (All mantras begin with this word.) Tat-sat (God alone exists). To-day — in the month of — phase (paksha) of the moon — in the (tithi) day of the moon, I — of — take this vow of setting up Dharma Rajya.

After taking vow — (first two lines are not understood as part is torn off).

Thou Sri Krishna (Keshub) I take this vow before Thee. Let it be successful through Thy Graces. (The 4th line is not understood.)

Taking up sword.

I bow down to Thee — sword, Thou crown of all weapons, the symbol of death.

With much respect I take Thee from the hands of Adhya Saktee (Kali — the final energy). In this vicious Kali when virtue has been so much attenuated, when weapons have been the order of the day, Thou art (the only) arbiter (or upholder) of truths.