She must have gone to that Surya whom she adored and worshipped.
A shy frightened girl she passed the Matriculation at the age of fourteen and joined the Howrah Girls’ College for further studies. It was 1956. That year she had measles before the exam and a special arrangement was made for students having measles and high fever by the Government for matriculation exam. Her parents did not want her to appear as she was still young and could sit for it the next year. But that shy girl suddenly became adamant and the parents relented. Her father had one doubt that she may not clear the Sanskrit exam as the students had to use pencil instead of pen and the Sanskrit anuswar and bisarga might get rubbed. She cleared it with a second division performance. That was the year she visited Pondicherry for the first time after her exam in the summer. Mother had noted at that time the tall girl. She was teased by others for her height and the shy and frightened girl bent more to look short but her father was always proud of her height. From early age Sanskrit and singing were the passions of her life. She visited Pondicherry the same year in October Puja holiday with her family. The Mother recognized the tall girl and any reference to Mother would be ‘that tall girl’ or her father would be introduced as the tall girl’s father. She the eldest with her two younger sisters wanted to stay in Ashram. The parents with her younger brother returned to Calcutta putting the girls in Rajkumari-di’s boarding with Mother’s kind permission. The sisters joined the Ashram School and were put in lower classes to pick up French and English. Sanskrit and singing were the two subjects she studied under late Jagannath Vedalanker and late Indu Roy. Her singing teachers were late Tinkori Banerjee, late Sahana Devi and she also had classical training for a few years under late Shirin Shroff. Later she joined Narad’s choir class and had the rare opportunity of singing in Ashram Courtyard with the choir class, which the Mother sitting in her room listened. She also sang in Sri Aurobindo’s room which late Champaklal-ji arranged, as she was very fond of her music.
Because of her shy nature she never projected herself in front, quietly participated in singing programme. Sunil-da took her for his music of Savitri, some of which the Mother heard, he praised her voice and was fond of her. After completing the Higher Course in 1963 she was made a teacher in Ashram School with the Mother’s permission. She taught History, Sanskrit and Music. She was made one of the Section-in-Charge “En Avant” after a few years. Thorough, meticulous and perfectionist by nature, she prepared worksheets for Sanskrit students, during holidays she would clean and re-arrange the almirahs to be ready for the next year. Preparing the time-table was another challenging job, with each teacher giving their preferences—“no first period for me, why did you put me in 4th period, the students are so tired”, “I must have this classroom and not that”. To take into consideration all these demands and make the time-table was a tricky job indeed. But she enjoyed doing it, giving her analytical mind an opportunity to express. How many people knew? No one. For History class her notes are of research calibre. And for singing class she had songs for children—for all ages. After a few years she noticed that very few teachers taught songs on Mother and Sri Aurobindo to students. She made it a point to teach these songs to elderly students and used to take their singing classes regularly in the Ashram. She participated in programmes conducted by Shobha-di and also conducted a good many programme herself—which always created an uplifting and ethereal atmosphere.
How many people know about her extra-curricular activities! That she was a very good basketball and throwball player, used to play in first division. That she was expert in English Embroidery which she learnt in Ashram. To how many people she taught tatting! She embroidered saris for Embroidery Department and also made lap cloth for the Mother which She used. Her refinement, her sensitivity would never permit her to show off her numerous qualities. She was a good cook too, would cut vegetable the same size. Her sisters teased her that they would present her with a scale to measure and cut. And because of her soft and delicate nature she would call children from school, home and give them food as they were unable to eat what was given to them. So sympathetic was she towards them. Her love for gardening was very strong. She would say that the plants were her friends, “they call me.” She would gather flowers from the road—“Transformation”—and bring them home. Her heart wept seeing the conditions of the poor. She often would give money to the old Rickshaw puller or to the Gurkha who never gave any guard at night.
She could never tolerate injustice and would flare up and fight for justice even though she was not involved.
Since last two years, she shifted to Desirée Home, continued her singing classes there, where the inmates also joined every afternoon. That was a music therapy for them. They would wait eagerly for the class with bright and joyful face.
That was Ratna-di—a shy, frightened, loving, generous, refined, soft and sensitive personality with numerous talents all hidden behind her shyness. Her simplicity and innocence showed on her face which radiated the beauty of a fresh bloomed white Dalia. Her voice still resounds
Gaane Bhuban Bhoriye Dilo.
About the Author: Born on 7th December 1943 to Justice Santosh K. Chakravarti and Bokul Rani, Krishna Chakravarti came to Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, in 1956 and was admitted in the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. She completed her education in 1966 and joined the Central Office of the Ashram, the work being chosen by the Mother. An inmate of the Ashram for the past fifty-four years, she is the author of Sri Aurobindo Loho Pronam and Judge Saheb O Maharanir One-Third Dozen er Kahini (in Bengali) and A Garland of Adoration (in English). A senior Board Member of Overman Foundation, she is the younger sister of the late Ratna Chakrabarti.
3 Replies to “Hey Chirodiner Diner Surya by Krishna Chakrabarti”
Still under the spell of the passing of my elder brother Rothin – another soul protected by the Mother – I can well imagine Krishna’s feelings. Let the glory of that Sun comfort this special juncture.
Dear Krisna – di — Please accept our heartfelt offering of love and reverence on the departure of ” Ratna – di to her divine destination —
Surendra s chouhan – saice.’ 69 .
I am looking fo some details of Late Tinkori Banerjee who was apparently a music teacher in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Some other identifiers are as follow: He was from Bally, Howrah in W. Bengal, his brother’s name was Abani Banerjee and also joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram. I am looking for the details as he was my grand father’s brother and I am collecting materials to write some notes / a book about my family.
I would appreciate if someone can provide some information or leads in that direction.
Thanks a lot in anticiption