1965 – More..

Posted By Author on August 31, 2009

BROTHERS

Krishnakant and Radhakant Pandey brothers are of village Kaithi, sixteen miles north of Banaras. They are lofty personalities from a very typical conservative Brahmin family. Around 1948 Krishnakant was working as an overseer on a government site. He came under Baba’s spell, and under Baba’s advice left his Government job. From that time onwards, both the brothers devoted their services till the very end.

One night Baba disappeared from them. The economic crisis was awful almost throughout their life. They are the only persons who were constantly in touch with him having valuable historic documents and information with them. When the Ashram was established they received a money order of Rs.1000/- and were urgently called to the Ashram. Radhakant Pandey looked after Ashram’s litigations at Calcutta, Delhi and far off remote places. On the instructions of Baba he met many people and collected lakhs of rupees for the Ashram. Whichever newspapers published tarnishing image of the Ashram they were sued for libel suits and damages. (Netaji was very susceptible to criticism by newspapers and he filed libel suits against them. Even from Mandalay Jail he would send instructions to his lawyers. He won some libel suits against newspapers of Calcutta.)

Gyan Banerjee is of Karimganj, District Kacchar-Silchar, in Assam. His wife and daughters were in Assam and he lived here. He is good at English, drafts petitions and letters. He was a revolutionary and stole a revolver from a police officer at the age of twenty-one and was sent to jail. He contested election for membership of Legislative Assembly and lost by a narrow margin of 2000 votes.

Satya Banerjee was an orphan, left job and joined Ashram a couple of weeks ago. Mahavir Mishra and his younger brother Chandranath alias Lalababu left business at Falakata and joined the Ashram. They hail from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. Ratan Maheshwari, Sachinbabu, Naresh Roy (Pattiwala), Dutt brothers, Rajat Bhadra, Surama, etc. were inmates of the Ashram with whom I dug information. There was one Karan Singh, a morphine addict, and Romello, a Ph.D. in military science. The latter was found with a German revolver and both were driven out. Devendra Bhaumic was an assistant secretary and was ousted for Netaji-psychosis. Mohitbabu Das was living in old Guest House. On previous 16th of August he died accidentally when a cyclone blew off the construction. A small platform with rose plants around was constructed in his memory, which I witnessed. (Netaji constructed a memorial for INA martyrs in Singapore. Later British demolished it.)

Baba drew the dimensions and under his instructions many hands constructed the present Guest House within forty-eight hours. I was told that Baba gets very angry if anyone makes any mistake at work or fails finish their job within time. (Similar was Netaji’s nature.) At such times his shouts could be heard a furlong away.

Ajit Gopal Roy was an Advocate from Kadam Kuan, Patna-3. He worked for four months as Law Officer on a monthly salary of Rs.1500/-. There was one teacher named Namwar Upadhyaya of Victory Inter College, Dhorighat of District Azamgadh. (U.P.) I met Wing Commander Henry Nova. He was Director of Accounts of the Indian Air Force and served as financial advisor to the Government of Ethiopia. He was looking after accounts and finances and was likely to leave for want of salary. He joined the Ashram through advertisement on a fat salary and got pay for a few months. In Kashmir war of 1947, he was in Kashmir. He praised General Cariappa. After losing good officers, the army was marching seventy-five miles a day like a rollercoaster and he anguished at Nehru’s sudden declaration of cease-fire on radio without consulting the army. He predicted that the whole occupied Kashmir would have been liberated and the forces would have occupied the plains of Rawalpindi. There would not have been a Kashmir problem. The negotiations would have instead been regarding return of Pakistani territory. He cited Chinese occupation of Tibet and encroachment on the Indian Territory. He estimated Ashram’s monthly expenditure of about twelve thousand rupees. He pointed out that daily twenty five to thirty telegrams were sent in addition to many trunk calls. Several families and persons were fed by the Ashram.

The Ashram had instituted about forty-five cases in various courts, high courts, and Supreme Court. There was a suit for damages filed against Barrister Amiyo Bose, nephew of Subhash Chandra Bose demanding Rs.five lakhs. The famous daily Anand Bazaar Patrika of Calcutta published a news item casting aspersions on Shaulmari Baba and charged him of making capital of Subhash Chandra Bose. Both Civil and criminal suits were filed against the editor A.K.Sorkar. Some other cases were against A.D.Mani, editor of Hitavada, Nagpur, H.P. Associates, Prachand Pradip, and Shantiswarup Saxena of Delhi newspaper. Saxena agreed to tender unqualified apology in writing and publish it. The case was withdrawn.

I was told that on 6th September 1965 at twelve midnight, Baba left by taxi for Siliguri. The Ashramites followed and brought him back. Baba once told that he was a student of Oxford University. A criminal case was in the run against Uttamchand Malhotra. He published a fake photograph of Baba. This photograph of Baba was manipulated. An artist from Falakata painted beard and mustaches and long hair on Netaji’s photograph. (Later on Jan.23, 1979 Prof. Samar Guha, M.P., conspired to release another fake photograph of Netaji putting Netajis face on body of Sarat Chandra Bose through trick photography.)

I came to know that 1962 was the peak year of activities of the Ashram. About hundred families were living in the Ashram. There was a co-operative mess. Seeing people quarreling for petty things like head of a fish, Baba was disillusioned and in his anger he uprooted cabbages and other vegetables from the garden. He dissolved the experiment. In that year lot of posts were advertised through leading Newspapers. The salaries offered were ten times more than the then prevailing ones. A teacher was offered Rs.10000/- per month. Baba himself told me that at that time Jawaharlal Nehru got panicky and he threw the intelligence department in full swing. The State and Central Intelligence Department started round the clock surveillance of the Ashram. One Mr. Bhandari entered the Ashram with a revolver. He came with avowed intention of murdering Baba. The guards of the Ashram trapped him. He confessed that he belonged to the Central Intelligence Department. It was later learned that he was released without charges on the ground of lunacy. The Bengal Government sent a planeload of police to guard Baba.

Victory:
I am basically a research scholar with no biased attitude. I was elated by the success of my meticulous research planning and convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that the Founder of Shaulmari Ashram His Holiness Saradanandaji was Subhash Chandra Bose. The finding was not based on predisposition or emotional longing but on inference of sheer logical deductions. Had it not been so, it would have been my first and last visit to the Ashram. Seeing the plight of Uttamchand and others, I decided that it would be futile to give publicity to my findings. After reading ‘Count of Monte Cristo’ I learnt the price of patience and hope. I set the goal of collecting maximum possible information and further evidence.

11/9/1965:
After breakfast Narendra Roy accompanied me to the bus stand of Falakata. I left and reached Cooch Behar airport. One Mr. Saboo met. I boarded the old Dakota of the Jam Airways, a private airline. We were about twelve passengers and the rest of the plane was filled with tea boxes. The seats were removable. We took off at midday and after forty minutes landed at Jalpaiguri. The landing strip was rolled flat grassland. Reached Calcutta at 2.30 P.M. As per instructions I met a Sindhi gentleman at the office of the Airways. He introduced me to Radhakant Pandey. I knew him by name. He was a tall man with wrestler’s build and was very affectionate and brotherly. He accompanied me to Howrah Railway Station and bought sweets and fruits for me. He was to go to the Ashram’s counsel, Mazumdar. I left for Amravati and reached home at 10.30 P.M. on 12th Sept. 1965.

24/9/1965:
Bombay. Yesterday at 3.30 A.M. cease-fire began between India and Pakistan. Principal, P.R.Joshi, Hadas High School, Nagpur met in the meeting. He told me that the newspapers said that the Baba of Shaulmari Ashram has disappeared. I was bit surprised.

25/12/1965:
Received urgent telegram from the Shaulmari Ashram that I was instructed to attend the Ashram on 27th December 1965. It was end of the month, salary was due. Managed the amount.

25/12/1965:
Caught Bombay-Howrah mail via Nagpur. No reservation. Heavy rush. Bribed a Bengali ticket checker and got berth in three-tier.

26/12/1965:
Reached Howrah at 11.30 A.M. Rushed by taxi to office of Jam Airways on Ganeshchand road. Office was shut. Went to Majestic Hotel. Gave ring to Manager of Jam Air at his residence. He gave address of Chittaranjan Avenue. Thanked God. Got the ticket. I went to Potdar’s mansion where Radhakant Pandey had his room. Luckily he was at home. Lunch. Owner Mr. Potdar was a rich Marwari. Many Sadhus duped him. He was then devotee of His Holiness of Shaulmari.

By taxi we went to Dakshineshwar temple where Ramkrishna Paramhans, Guru of Swami Vivekananda, was a priest. It is a very sacred place of Bengal, nay, India. Had Darshan of Goddess Kali. Then we went to Belur Math on the bank of Hoogly. It is a place ineffable. Saw the spot where Swami Vivekananda voluntarily left his mortal body at Belur Math after cooking food himself and serving to all. He founded Ramkrishna Mission. The Mission is looking after his legacy all over the world. The Mission was then celebrating Christ’s birth on a grand scale.

27/12/1965:
Mr. Govind Shah, a Bengali scrap iron merchant, came to room. A very pleasing and always smiling short personality absolutely devoted to his Holiness. With him flew to Cooch Behar and after two and half hours landed. Train takes a day and half from Calcutta to Cooch Behar. One has to cross ferry at Farakka and change train at Siliguri. To save time and my leave, journey by plane was indispensable. The Ashram was twenty miles afar. We reached the destination by taxi at 4 P.M. Krishnakant Pandey, Ajit Gopal, and Mr. Nova received us. His Holiness was in Siliguri area for ‘Sadhana ’, i.e., meditation. He got message of my arrival. Taxis were rushed from Cooch Behar to Siliguri. Baba arrived, at 9 P.M. Immediately I was called in with Govind Shah. His Holiness was standing in the yard of the Darshan Hall. It was shivering cold. Baba was wearing thin apparel. We talked preliminaries like my journey, parent’s health, visit to Dakshineshwar and Belur Math, etc. After complete six days’ fast, he dined ‘Khichari’- a cooked mixture of rice and lentils. I offered oranges from my farm. I was then told to rest. Krishnakant Pandey was called in again. Their discussion prolonged up to 2.30 A.M. Earlier in the evening I loitered around the Ashram with Ajit Gopal Roy. He told me that Satya Banerjee left the Ashram.

28/12/1965:
In the morning I was summoned. Baba was in the garden of roses. He was sitting on a cane-chair. We had discussion on how to attain ultimate truth and how to get a Guru. (Netaji wandered in search of a Guru in young days.) Baba enquired whether there was inner urge for celibacy. (As student Netaji’s group took oath of celibacy) If I could check myself he promised to explain means to achieve it. I frankly told him that I would think over. I expressed concern and anxiety of my parents. He said parents would give blessings to me when I would return to Ashram in February. He instructed me to resign the service when his telegram would reach me and need not bother to give prior notice to the Government.

Except me, rest were told to go out. Then he commanded that I should stare into his eyes. (He emulated Ramkrishna’s method to judge a person.) After a few seconds, he told me that he would call me again. I reached Guest House. Ratan Maheshwari approached me and on behalf of His Holiness, inquired whether I would be able to collect Rs. Twenty five thousand. On the spur of moment reflexively I said yes. It was a bombshell. To say I was stunned would be too mild. I was worried as to how could I procure such a big sum. Ratan left to convey the message to Baba. I was called in. Baba asked me whether I would be able to do the work. I said with his blessing, I hoped to do. He instructed to get a taxi. After lunch with Krishnakant Pandey we immediately reached Cooch Behar. Got the plane and reached Calcutta at 5 P.M. by Jam Air. We arrived at ‘Kothi’ i.e., palatial house of Mr.Potdar. Mr. Sidnani came. Krishnakantji left to see Niharendu Dutt Mazumdar. All along I was thinking and worried about my future.

There was no flight available for Nagpur. When I left Ashram Baba gave me a Sanskrit couplet of Gautam Buddha on ‘Sanyas’ i.e. renunciation. When Sidartha’s wife Yashodhara with son Rahul held his feet urging him not to leave he said these words. It is rendered in English as below:

“Hyasane shushyatu mey shariram
Twagasti masam pralayanch yatu
Aprapya Bodhim bahukalpa durlabham
Naiwasanat kayametat chalishyati”

Meaning: Even though my body may become dry on this seat or my flesh drops out. Let apocalyptic flood come. Unless and until I gain the Supreme Knowledge, which is difficult to attain even in imagination I shall not leave this seat.

However Professor Sudhakar Deshpande of Belgaum, Karnataka, an authority on Buddha, informed me that Lalita Waster wrote biography of Buddha in Pali language and Dr. Radhakrishnan translated it into English. In that book this couplet is referred to have been said by Buddha when after six years wandering in search of Truth he sat below ‘Bodhi” (Pipal/Banyan) tree to gain Supreme knowledge. I was able to contact Prof. Deshpande due to his article on Buddha in ‘Aajcha Sudharak’ magazine established by my Guru late Prof. D.Y. Deshpande.

Baba then told that central cabinet minister Mr. Swarna Singh was sued by the Ashram for his malicious statement. At the Guest House, Ratan Maheshwari took Rs.150/- from me. I wonder whether Baba really asked for such a paltry sum or it went to his pocket. With a fox like countenance he seemed shrewd and wily.

29/12/1965:
Up early. Krishnakantji told that he was to immediately go back to the Ashram to apprise His Holiness about Zarlapatan case. I gave him my address. Radhakantji and I saw him off at Jam Air and rushed to Howrah station. I was just in time. My pocket was empty. Radhakantji paid for my ticket and gave Rs. 30/- for expenses. Got a berth and I left for home.

COLLECTION OF FUNDS

On Baba’s instruction, Secretary Ramani Ranjan Das gave me a letter of authorization to collect money on behalf of Shaulmari Ashram. I was also given receipt book and books of Loan Bonds of the Ashram. (See Annexure III at the end) This business of Loan Bonds with interest was reminiscent of the Loan Bonds floated by the Provisional Government of India under the aegis of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in SE Asia during II World War. Note similarity of modus operandi. Raman Rranjan Das signed some blank receipts and bonds. See Annexure III at the end.

30/12/1965:
Reached home at Amravati at 5 P.M. After bath immediately rushed to collect funds for the Ashram. I already had made a list of friends, acquaintances, relatives, the rich, businessmen, etc. in the train. They were forty-three. For a week I was busy in begging. It was a valuable but bitter experience which opportunity I might not have had in lifetime. The response was dismal and very negative. People refused to donate or lend a farthing for the Ashram but some agreed to loan on personal credit. I avoided burden of personal debt. If the Ashram did not return amount of bonds with twelve percent interest in stipulated time, I would have to bear the brunt through nose. It was fascinating to note human nature. The rich instantaneously refused point blank whereas the lower middle class sacrificed about half salary of a month. The details are in the diary and last pages, which are omitted here. The height of despondency was that the old hosts of Baba (1957) blatantly refused to shell off a penny. Anantlal Dammani grumbled that he did not receive Rs. 1200/- lent to the Ashram a year ago.

About the author

Author

Comments

Comments are closed.