Posted By Author on August 24, 2009
A very nice secluded place worth the name “Ashram”. The Ashram occupied about hundred acres of land. Formerly, there were many small fields under farming and the owners donated land to the Ashram and became full time Ashramites. To the North of the Ashram, not far away, the lofty Bhutan Himalayas were towering to the sky. To the West about fifty yards from the border, the river was flowing North-South. The rough layout of the Ashram is drawn in the diary. At the entrance there was a hutment called “powerhouse”. A diesel generator was supplying electricity to the Ashram round the clock. All the houses in the Ashram had thatched roofs, woven bamboo mat walls, and cement concrete floors. Most of the area was occupied by beautiful gardens. At numerous places, there were tube wells and hand pumps. It was studded with a concrete platform called ‘Asans’ or ‘Bedis’ meant for His Holiness. There was a separate office, Secretary’s quarter, and residences of a few Ashramites, a Guest House and the “Sanctum Sanctorum”. This was surrounded by seven feet high bamboo mat wall. Inside this yard was a meditation cum audience hall. Adjoining the hall, there was a beautiful garden of roses. (Netaji used to collect rose plants from different places and plant them in his garden at Cuttack) and beyond that was the residential single room hut of “His Holiness”. There were huts for the guards on four corners of the Ashram and also around the Sanctum Sanctorum. Guard duties were round the clock and no foreigner could penetrate inside. (Netaji visited many Ashrams in his young age. He used to visit Ashrams of ancient Rishis to Vivekananda’s Belurmath Ashram. Gandhiji’s Sabarmati and Sevagram Ashrams were also often visited. Vinoba Bhave’s Pawanar Ashram, Arvind Ghosh’s Pondicherry Ashram, Singapore’s Vivekananda Ashram, Rajendrababu’s Sadakat Ashram, J.M.Sengupta’s Ashram etc. All these visits left a deep dent on his psych so much so that while visiting Roma Rolland he skirted lake Zurich and exclaimed ‘What a beautiful place for an Ashram!’ As a child Netaji would sleep on the floor and his mother would lift him and put him on the bed. He would question her; “Were our Rishis not sleeping on the floor in the Ashrams?”).
There was a map of pre-partition India on a special concrete inclined platform in front of the hall. There was a Badminton Court that His Holiness used. (Netaji used to play badminton whether in jail or at Singapore.) In the office, the portraits of Jesus Christ, Vivekananda, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Mataji (Sarada Devi wife of Ramkrishna), Shivaji and Rana Pratap decorated the walls. (Netaji’s father Janakinath hung lot of portraits of Rajaram Mohan Roy and others in his drawing hall at Cuttack. Netaji followed the same trend and had portraits of Vivekananda, Ramkrishna and others in his bedroom in his house at Elgin Road, Calcutta.)
On arrival in the Guest House, I was introduced to Gopal Ray, the law officer, Banerjee, Rajat Bhadra, Gyanbabu, Mishra, etc. There was constant attendance to see my comfort. After a fine lunch, I strolled around. In the evening I called upon the Secretary of Shaulmari Ashram, Shri Ramani Ranjan Das. A sumptuous dinner followed at night. I was writing the notes of the day in my diary. This was informed to His Holiness on suspicion that I might be a secret agent of the Government. Later, when His Holiness enquired about it, I cleared the misunderstanding and told as to how my great grandfather inspired me to write daily diary since 1956.
Throughout my stay, I was collecting information from the Ashramites.