Sri Aurobindo on Ethics: Compiled and edited by Anurag Banerjee. Published by Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Price— E-copy: Rs. 20. (Hard-copy: Rs. 60).
The Alipore Bomb Trial Judgment: Compiled and edited by Anurag Banerjee. Published by Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Price—E-copy: Rs. 50. (Hard-copy: Rs. 150).
Sri Aurobindo: His Political Life and Activities: Compiled and edited by Anurag Banerjee with a preface by Prof. Kittu Reddy. Published by Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Price—E-copy: Rs. 200. (Hard-copy: Rs. 450).
An unexamined life is not worth living—Socrates.
When first man’s heart dared death and suffered life, the seed of luminous conscience—the savior Grace—was sown for ever in heart of the struggling humanity at this defining moment. It was rightly so—as it was—primarily instrumental in pushing up the humanity from the primordial struggle of barbarism to the present refining poise of decent instincts. Our unstinted bouquet of appreciation are due to the compiler and editor Anurag Banerjee for offering us the rare treasure about Sri Aurobindo’s views on Ethics. Unearthing the vast trove from the works of Sri Aurobindo’s writings on Ethics was no easy task. But, a judicious and thoughtful selection by the compiler has made this work under review an eminently readable one.
Ethics is the mother of all holistic sciences as it lays the foundation of the culture and character. Only we, the homo sapiens, are given the privilege to be able to distinguish between Right and Wrong. Western views on Ethics are undoubtedly an admirable mix of moral rectitude fortified by rational cover but not adequate and strong enough to bring about much needed qualitative transformation of human Nature. The spiritual ambience is still missing there in the ethical thoughts and mooring of the western thinkers. It needed the Seer Vision of Sri Aurobindo to express and resolve the complex issues of Ethics in the proper perspectives. We see in this wonderful series of compilation the sublime touch and the power of the Master which place Ethics on a deserving high pedestal. Innumerable episodes in the Mahabharata, the Ramayan and the teachings of the Gita along with the Upanishads bear testimony to the inestimable value of the ethical principles—the art and craft of shaping human Nature to become the fit vehicle for spiritual change.
The dimensions of aphoristic ethical thoughts of Sri Aurobindo are path breaking and alters radically our narrow vision/views and understanding of the ethical principles as we have known and read so far.
Words are inadequate to compliment the compiler and the astute editor Anurag Banerjee for stringing together with meticulous precision the invaluable perceptions of Sri Aurobindo in a format and with judicious division of the contents which make for the readers an easy access.
Our editor—so it seems—is gifted with Seeing Intelligence—which reaches with felicity to the core of wisdom and offers us the privilege to savor the rich treasure.
This admirable and significant effort has fulfilled a long felt lacunae. Thankfully, now , we may not have to cry and aspire at the same time like St. Augustine “ O Lord make me pure, but not yet , not yet…” the acme of the ethical dilemma.
The Alipore Bomb Case—A symbol for the struggle for Freedom
The trial of the Century has at last seen the light of the day. What an achievement on the part of its editor Anurag Banerjee as it required a very high sense of critical perceptive editorial skills invested with an ability to present endless web of historical investigations and conclusions in acceptable format. It is a unique compilation as it unfolds step by step the secret mystique and the mystery of the day to day activities of the freedom fighters and the firebrand revolutionaries.
Anurag Banerjee blessed with incredible patience and research skills/strategies has come up successfully with another gem of work which would prove an invaluable source of research for the posterity. The entire drama and the trial of the case presided over by the Judge is a glowing page of the Indian struggle for Freedom revolving and evolving around the fiery Sun /son of Mother India, Sri Aurobindo. The rays emanating from Him echoed and reechoed from the white radiance of the Himvant to all the corners of Mother India the chant ‘Bande Mataram, Bande Mataram’. The Alipore Bomb Case is a saga of the heroic struggle of the children of Mother India who were prepared to lay their lives at the altar of Freedom cheerfully. The trial was a symbol and it awakened the sleeping masses to a new vision and a call and an invitation to join the freedom struggle .
The editor has accomplished an astonishing task by unraveling the plethora of historical documents and arranging/ordering them in proper structure. The final result is an excellently well structured record of the memorable Trial where the Sage—so to speak—was born and baptized with fire and the Zeal for GOD where inside the jail Sri Aurobindo was granted the universal vision of the all -pervading Divinity.
The Alipore Bomb case is not a story of the trials of a few freedom fighters but stories with in story like a galaxy where million stars twinkle as the reverberations of the trial crossed beyond the boundaries of Bengal and impacted million lives by its Message—Arise, Awake and stop not till the Goal is achieved.
Each page of the book—so painstakingly produced and collated—shines by its authenticity and immense historical significance and relevance. The characters become vibrantly alive by the gripping narrative and the responses of the involved personages keep the readers attention completely focused.
Sri Aurobindo like a luminous star remains aloof and watches the entire drama unfolding. He is a guide, friend and philosopher to all the imprisoned hero-warriors. He is also an advocate fighting for the Divine cause where none other than the great C. R. Das does not hesitate to take His counsel at the critical moments of the Trial.
The Alipore Bomb Case is at once a glowing chronicle and a faithful record just not of a legal wrangling but of the of tale of the supreme sacrifice of the countless martyrs. This work should be read in the light of the earliest dawn of freedom struggle and its crucial historicity in inspiring the ongoing freedom struggle in the first decade of the last century.
The editor Anurag Banerjee deserves our generous appreciations for producing this work of sublime excellence infused with the touch of immaculate research and eye for perfection in all the minutest details.
Sri Aurobindo—His Political Life and Activities
‘He drew energies which transmute an Age’—Savitri
This work of pristine beauty and perfection describing Sri Aurobindo’s political life and activities is filled with incomparable series of hitherto unknown facts and figures which are wondrous by the range of vast sweep and grandeur. The editor has not left anything to chance and by the dint of unsparing efforts has been able to choreograph the astonishing story of Sri Aurobindo’s life and activities in a masterly fashion. Life of a Grand figure is not to be measured by the number of breaths that he takes but by the intensity of breath which takes our breath away. This is precisely what happened in the crucial years , however small span of time , during the period of Sri Aurobindo’s political life during those fateful years. It was breathtaking in its sweep and the revolutionary changes it wrought in the national psyche. Like a mighty passive Brahman, Sri Aurobindo guided the destiny of the Nation and moulded the sleeping multitude into an inspirational and aspirational entity. But He was a Leader with a difference. He did not believe in short measures but kept the Vision of the Vast behind and every stroke coming from Him was a stroke of a Divine Genius and had the maximum impact on the masses in galvanizing them into a new Force.
Prof. Kittu Reddy, in his brilliantly carved preface, has neatly summed up the many splendoured political activities of Sri Aurobindo which were in every sense—so to speak—apolitical. For Him the art of politics was a means to an end which would usher in the spirit of true Nationalism and free Mother India from an alien rule. There are interesting similarities between the efforts of Lord Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo when we draw parallel between their political activities. Both engaged themselves in bringing the rule of justice among the national groups based on the principles of Dharma and discharging Kartavya Karma in the highest sense without attachment and personal motives. Sri Aurobindo’s political life and activities were entirely in consonance with the highest ideals as enshrined in the highest gospel of Dharma – the Gita.
The sense and essence of this marvellous compilation is bound to touch the hearts and minds of the countless fortunate readers in a luminous manner and we are sure it will work as a transforming force in their lives.
Anurag Banerjee has once again proved that what a wonderful editor he is and does full justice to the greatness of the theme—for he himself—is for ever in search of Greatness and ready always to share its fragrance with us all. It has whetted our appetite million fold, indeed.
Surendra Singh Chouhan
About the author: Shri Surendra Singh Chouhan is an ex-student of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE); after finishing his Higher Course he taught for a year in SAICE. He is an international educator and presently teaching Philosophy to the Chinese students in Shanghai under the auspices of Shanghai Normal University. This review was originally published in the August 2011 issue of the well-known magazine ‘Srinvantu’ (English).