AUROBINDO BIRTH PLACE CONTROVERSY

Archives of Dravida Peravai

Dravida Peravai N.Nandhivarman went to Calcutta in 1999 and there presented a memorandum to then Chief Minister Jyothi Basu dated 3rd June of 1999. Copies were marked to Comrade Budhadeb Bhattacharya, Home, Information and Cultural Affairs Minister, Hon’ble Comrade Indrajit Gupta M.P, Hon’ble Comrade Somnath Chatterjee and Hon’ble Comrade Debabrata Biswas M.P. The letter in verbatim follows:

You might be aware that Calcutta High Court on 10th May 1999 has passed an interim injunction  in the writ petition No: 1035 of 1999 at the Court of Kalyan Jyothi Sengupta till next hearing in June in the writ petition filed by Dr.Barin De against Sri Aurobindo Bhavan.

Our party had the opportunity to go through the archival materials with regard to the documents in the life and found that the trustees of Aurobindo Ashram Pondicherry and their appointees in the Aurobindo Bhavan at Calcutta have all along misled the West Bengal Government and the followers of Aurobindo over the birth place of Aurobindo. Before seeking a Government probe we are reproducing from the Volume 1 of the Aurobindo Archives and Research published in 1977 by Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry.

Documents in the Life of Aurobindo: Birth: 1.Aurobindo’s birth date and time

15th August 1872, 24 minutes [ one danda= one ghatika] before sun rise at Calcutta, with sun rise calculated at 5.40 AM, the time of birth is 5.16 AM local time or 4.52 AM Indian Standard Time.

A note from the files of Nolini Kanta Gupta :

 Footnote: The exact time of Aurobindo’s birth is not known. He writes in “About Astrology” [Cent.Vol.17.page 288] of “inability to fix the precise moment of my birth. The above computations were apparently made on the basis of recollection of a member of Aurobindo’s family that he was born one danda before sunrise on 15th August 1872.

The above statement of the Americans in charge of the archives department indicates that the Trustees are not aware of the exact time of his birth. Similarly the following letters and proceedings of the meeting of the sub-committee of the Aurobindo Centenary committee also clearly reveal that the Trustees are not aware of the exact birth place of Aurobindo. Let me quote all those letters and proceedings:

2.When attention was drawn to several press enquiries particularly in Bengal as to exact birth place of Aurobindo Srijut Nolinikanta Gupta , Secretary of Aurobindo Ghose told PTI “ Aurobindo was born in the house of Late Barrister Manmohan Ghose , a close friend of his father Dr.Krishna Dhan Ghose. The house was in the Theatre Road and the number being most probably 4, we are not aware whether that house still exists or not.

A press release dated 2nd September 1949

Aurobindo Ghose was born in my father’s house at 237, Lower Circular Road. In about 1879 my father moved to 4 Theatre Road. Subsequently Mr.Byomkesh Chakraborti, Bar-at-Law occupied 237 Lower Circular Road and I believe it was purchased by him. Later on Late Nalini Ranjan Sirkar purchased the property and put up the new structure after demolishing the old. It is now occupied by the Chinese Consul General.

Letter of Showlata Das [Mrs.Banbihari Das] youngest daughter of Manmohan Ghose dated 11th June 1956.

4. Proceedings of the Meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Aurobindo Centenary Committee held at 10.30 AM on Saturday January 30 of 1971 at National Library, Belvdere, Calcutta-27.

The following members were present: 1.Surendra Mohan Ghose, Chairman 2.Dr.Niharranjan Roy 3.Devi Prasad Bhaduri 4.K.N.Mukerjee 5.A.K.Ghose 6. Mrs. D.G.Keshwani 7.H.K.Niyogi 8.Kanti Chaudri, Member-Secretary

1. After long discussion on the various suggestions in regard to the house in which Aurobindo was supposed to have been born, it was decided as follows.

A] Arguments in favor of the present 237 Lower Circular Road could not be sustained since this was originally 12 Lower Circular Road, which came to be occupied by the Late Manmohan Ghose not earlier than 1876.

B] According to the Bengal Directory 0f 1871 and 1872 , Late Manmohan Ghose is shown as resident of 48, Chowringhee which was part of then Ballard Building facing Theatre Road. It was therefore; very likely that Aurobindo was born at this house which on August 15th of 1872 was shown as the residence of the Late Manmohan Ghose.

C] In 1872, according to Bengal Directory [Street Directory] No: 14 Lower Circular Road is also shown against the Late Manmohan Ghose. But in the alphabetical list of residents of the same year Manmohan Ghose is shown as a resident of 48, Chowringhee.

D] According to the same directory of 1873, the Late Manmohan Ghose is shown as resident of 14.Lower Circular Road and not 12, Lower Circular Road which is now 237, Lower Circular Road.

2. The Ballard’s Building consisting of numbers 47, 48, 49 and 50 at the corner of Chowringhee and Theatre Road does no longer exist, in fact a multi-storied building is under construction at that place. The question of acquisition of this property does not, therefore arise.

3. But in 1879, the Late Manmohan Ghose rented No: 4 Theatre Road [now No: 8, Theatre Road and continued to live there for about fifteen years. It was in this house that Aurobindo passed a number of his boyhood years from time to time; indeed it is the only house on Theatre Road with which Aurobindo could be associated for a considerable period of time. The committee therefore requests the Government of India and the Government of West Bengal who are now owners of No: 8, Theatre Road to make over and dedicate this property to the nation in the name of Aurobindo.

It is needless to reproduce entire proceeding but we have chosen to reproduce in entirety because we want to establish that persons connected with the Bhavan and the Trust in Pondicherry are basing their claims on their assumption that from 1879 Aurobindo lived in that house. Unfortunately to the Trustees, Aurobindo himself in the book Aurobindo on himself and on the Mother published by Aurobindo Ashram in 1953 in page 9 under the title “Early Life in England “states “while in India they were sent for the beginning of their education to an Irish nun’s school in Darjeeling and in 1879 he took his three sons to England.”

It is thus crystal clear that Aurobindo had left to England on 1879 as per his own words and how come the sub-committee says that he lived in this house from 1879. Based on this untruth the committee and the trustees of the Bhavan and their parental trust in Pondicherry had misled the West Bengal Government and are responsible for waste of public money to proclaim a building as his birth place and are instrumental in getting Aurobindo Memorial Act 1972 passed. The same coterie propped up by the Pondicherry based Trust are aware of the truth and that may be the reason for these groups to offer Aurobindo Bhavan for construction of a commercial complex.

Our party urges the West Bengal Government to probe this matter further and fix responsibility on those who have misled the West Bengal Government and committed a fraud on the Government and followers of Aurobindo…… Yours sincerely N.Nandhivarman, General Secretary Dravida Peravai

THE TIMES OF India Calcutta in a report by Sudha G.Tilak dated 13.06.1999 carried this news under the title FRESH DISPUTE OVER AUROBINDO ABODE with due rebuttal by Himanshu Niyogi , a senior member of Aurobindo Samiti who said “ such controversies are raked by vested interests now and then.

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