Today we are sharing with you two letters written by Sri Aurobindo to his father-in-law Bhupal Chandra Bose (1861—1937). The first letter, dated 8 June 1906, was written during the early days of Sri Aurobindo’s political career and the second letter, dated 19 February 1919, was penned shortly after the death of Sri Aurobindo’s wife Mrinalini Devi in December 1918. These letters are indeed very special for they reveal the unknown aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s personality.
With warm regards,
June 8th 1906.
My dear father-in-law,
I could not come over to Shillong in May, because my stay in Eastern Bengal was unexpectedly long. It was nearly the end of May before I could return to Calcutta, so that my programme was necessarily changed. I return to Baroda today. I have asked for leave from the 12th, but I do not know whether it will be sanctioned so soon. In any case I shall be back by the end of the month. If you are anxious to send Mrinalini down, I have no objection whatever. I have no doubt my aunt will gladly put her up until I can return from Baroda and make my arrangements.
I am afraid I shall never be good for much in the way of domestic virtues. I have tried, very ineffectively, to do some part of my duty as a son, a brother and a husband, but there is something too strong in me which forces me to subordinate everything else to it. Of course that is no excuse for my culpability in not writing letters,— a fault I am afraid I shall always be quicker to admit than to reform. I can easily understand that to others it may seem to spring from a lack of the most ordinary affection. It was not so in the case of my father from whom I seem to inherit the defect. In all my fourteen years in England I hardly got a dozen letters from him, and yet I cannot doubt his affection for me, since it was the false report of my death which killed him. I fear you must take me as I am with all my imperfections on my head.
Barin* has again fallen ill, and I have asked him to go out to some healthier place for a short visit. I was thinking he might go to Waltair, but he has set his heart on going to Shillong—I don’t quite know why, unless it is to see a quite new place and at the same time make acquaintance with his sister-in-law’s family. If he goes, I am sure you will take good care of him for the short time he may be there. You will find him, I am afraid, rather wilful and erratic,— the family failing. He is especially fond of knocking about by himself in a spasmodic and irregular fashion when he ought to be sitting at home and nursing his delicate health, but I have learnt not to interfere with him in this respect; if checked, he is likely to go off at a tangent & makes things worse. He has, however, an immense amount of vitality which allows him to play these tricks with impunity in a good climate, and I think a short stay at Shillong ought to give him another lease of health.
19 February 1919
My dear father-in-law,
I have not written to you with regard to this fatal event in both our lives; words are useless in face of the feelings it has caused, if even they can ever express our deepest emotions. God has seen good to lay upon me the one sorrow that could still touch me to the centre. He knows better than ourselves what is best for each of us, and now that the first sense of the irreparable has passed, I can bow with submission to His divine purpose. The physical tie between us is, as you say, severed; but the tie of affection subsists for me. Where I have once loved, I do not cease from loving. Besides she who was the cause of it, still is near though not visible to our physical vision.
It is needless to say much about the matters of which you write in your letter. I approve of everything that you propose. Whatever Mrinalini would have desired, should be done, and I have no doubt this is what she would have approved of. I consent to the chudis [gold bangles] being kept by her mother; but I should be glad if you would send me two or three of her books, especially if there are any in which her name is written. I have only of her her letters and a photograph.
* Barindra Kumar Ghose, Sri Aurobindo’s youngest brother and a noted revolutionary.