Nolini Kanta Gupta (13.1.1889—7.2.1984) was an active participant in the Swadeshi and national education movements from the tender age of sixteen. He was introduced to Barindra Kumar Ghose, noted revolutionary and Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother, towards the end of 1907 who influenced him to join the Maniktolla Secret Society at 32 Muraripukur Road in Calcutta. On 2 May 1908 Nolini Kanta was arrested in connection with the Muzaffarpur bomb outrage along with the other members of the Maniktolla Secret Society. The trial later came to be known as the ‘Alipore Bomb Trial’. After spending a year in Alipore Central Jail as an undertrial he was acquitted in May 1909 due to lack of evidence to prove his involvement in any conspiracy of waging war against the British Empire. He withdrew from active politics after his acquittal from prison and became the chief associate of Sri Aurobindo (whom he had met during the Swadeshi movement) when the latter started the publication of his two weeklies (the Karmayogin in English and the Dharma in Bengali). When Sri Aurobindo left Bengal and migrated to Pondicherry in April 1910 Nolini Kanta too followed him seven months later. When after 1926 Sri Aurobindo withdrew into complete seclusion and the Mother took charge of the newly-formed Ashram, Nolini Kanta became its Secretary. When the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust was formed by the Mother she appointed Nolini Kanta as one of the founder-trustees. Regarded as one of the most advanced sadhaks of the Integral Yoga he was equally prolific in Bengali, English and French and went on to author more than fifty books in Bengali, thirty in English and five in French. In the Aurobindonian community he was known as ‘Sri Aurobindo’s manasputra’.
An interview of Nolini Kanta Gupta in French on the theme of “Towards the Superman” was video-recorded on 18 February 1981. André Morisset (the Mother’s son), his wife Wanda, Pournaprema (his youngest daughter) and Anima Mazumdar (Nolini Kanta’s attendant) were present at the time of this interview which was recorded by Sharad. The text of the interview has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.
With warm regards,
André: Bonjour Nolini!
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Bonjour, Bonjour!
André: How are you? Alright?
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Fine. So the week passed happily?
André: Oh yes. Oh yes.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Please be seated.
André: Thank you.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Wanda is here?
André: Yes. She is here.
Wanda: Bonjour Nolini!
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Bonjour. You are well I hope.
Wanda: Perfectly well. Thank you.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: (to Sharad) Have you started?
André: Yes. Is the light enough?
Nolini Kanta Gupta: You want me to say something?
Pournaprema: Yes. He would like you to say something.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: In English?
Pournaprema: No, in French. In French it is better. You always speak with André in French.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Yes… There is much speculation about the future—the future of man. There is one such speculation that…man will disappear,… not today, not tomorrow, but sometime… Man will be replaced by what we call today the superman. Something absolutely different. But in the meantime, in between, there will be an intermediary species, the overmind man or the intermediary superman. The animal was replaced by man, it is true but there are nevertheless many things in common between the man and the animal. In the same way there will be many things in common between man and this intermediary species; yet man as he is will be much changed.
André: Basically, what Sri Aurobindo tells us is that man can transform himself to some extent into this intermediary being by practising his yoga.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Yes.
André: And therefore—one can hope—that before developing a new external form even this simple human species can bring in something of the overmind man. But now… is Sri Aurobindo justified in saying all that? We shall come to know perhaps.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: The superman will not be born in the way man is born today. He will appear… but these are only speculations… one does not know.
Pournaprema: One does not know either how man appeared. One does not know exactly.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: One does not know. It will be… it will be a descent.
Pournaprema: Manifested. Manifested like this…
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Manifested. Yes.
André: Isn’t it a fact that the primary human species—like the man of Crottagnon we see in our part of the country in France—is something like an intermediary between the animal and man at that time: he had certainly special qualities—what one sees in the caves of Dordogne for example—it proves an artistic feeling which was already very human—although with a human aspect hardly out of the monkey stage. So to know how it will happen, that is difficult.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Here, all that is needed is to manifest in each of us something of what we call the Divine, something which is not completely human, something better, something beautiful, something good…
André: Unfortunately one always takes the better human as the Divine. We do not know what it is.
Pournaprema: The better we understand as the human better. We do not know at all what the Divine better is.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Oh yes. That is true.
Pournaprema: The usual better is most probably not the Divine better.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: No. It is not.
Pournaprema: But this intermediary being, before its manifestation upon earth, will he exist in some other world, in an occult world, or does he already exist somewhere?
Nolini Kanta Gupta: It is the creation of the Mother. Even in the other worlds it is the creation of the Mother.
Pournaprema: But actually, in the earth-atmosphere, does this form already exist?
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Yes. It is there.
Pournaprema: I mean in a terrestrial occult world.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Yes. It is already there.
(Anima shows some photographs)
Pournaprema: This is beautiful. You look so young.
(On seeing the photograph of a lotus)
Pournaprema: This too is you, Nolini.
Nolini Kanta Gupta: Yes!
Nolini Kanta Gupta: There is still one other Wednesday.
André: Yes. One more week.