Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Aurobindo Ghose, a leading Bengali Extremist

Title: Terrorism in India during the freedom struggle. Subject: TERRORISM -- India
Source: Historian, Spring 93, Vol. 55 Issue 3, p469, 14p, 1bw
Author: Heehs, Peter
Abstract: Studies Indian terrorism in the Indian independence movement during the first half of the twentieth century. Arms Act of 1878; Extremists; Moderates; Bengali terrorism; Ananda Math; Physical culture; Indian Councils Act; Mahatma Gandhi; Subhas Chandra Bose, leader of the Congress' left wing; Rise of separatist terrorism in the 1980s. AN: 9307155390 ISSN: 0018-2370
"An official government report mentions 210 "revolutionary outrages" and 101 more attempts in Bengal involving over one thousand terrorists between 1906 and 1917. After a decade of
relative quiet, terrorism again broke out in the province. An official list gives 189 incidents in Bengal during the years 1930-1934. Outside Bengal terrorist incidents were so infrequent that they were not even itemized in the official report.[4]"
"Aurobindo Ghose, a leading Bengali Extremist, interpreted swaraj differently in his influential English-language newspaper Bande Mataram (Salutation to Mother India). He defined it as complete political independence, "a free national government unhampered even in the least by foreign control."
"Ghose was one of the founders of a secret society that turned to terrorism under his brother
Barindra Kumar ("Barin") Ghose. He and his associates Upendranath Bannerjee and Hemchandra Das argued that complete independence was India's primary need and vital to national unity, as well as to economic and social progress.
Although Aurobindo Ghose admitted to having "a strong hatred for the British," he kept this feeling out of his writings and supported his demand for independence with an appeal to the inherent right of peoples to self-government."
"Like most Bengali groups, Barin Ghose's secret society was small, urban-based, and made up almost entirely of young Hindus of the bhadralok (respectable) class. Of the thirty-six members for whom adequate records exist, thirty-two belonged to the three castes that make up the Bengali bhadralok. The six leaders had an average age of thirty-six, while the thirty rank-and-file members had an average age of twenty. The older men were professionals, primarily teachers and journalists; the younger men were students or former students."
"British observers regarded terrorism as a perversion of religion; nonreligious terrorists saw it the opposite way. In his writings and speeches Aurobindo Ghose proposed what has been called a "religion of nationalism," where nationalism was regarded as not only high and noble but divinely ordained."
"Ghose came by his conviction of divine leadership not through the profession of Hinduism as a creed but through the practice of yoga, a spiritual discipline also practiced by other Extremists and revolutionaries. Leaders as well as the rank and file were strongly influenced by such Hindu scriptures as the Bhagavad Gita and the Devi Mahatmyam but usually did not approach these texts as orthodox believers. Many young Bengalis, including some future terrorists, were influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)."
"Of all Chatterjee's writings, none fired the imagination of young Bengalis more than his historical novel Ananda Math (The abbey of bliss). Basing his work on accounts of a rebellion in the 1770s, Chatterjee transformed the bands of lawless brigands that roamed Bengal in those years into an Indian version of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The aim of these virtuous outlaws is to restore the Mother-Motherland to its former glory and prosperity, which under Muslim misrule has been replaced by poverty and degradation."
"Ghose wrote, somewhat anachronistically, in the 1940s that his "cult of violence" was "learnt from the Irish Seinfeinners and Russian secret societies."[12]
"Two people connected with the rise of revolutionary activity in Bengal did have some contact with Russian anarchists. Margaret Noble, an Irish disciple of Vivekananda, whom he renamed Sister Nivedita, corresponded with one such anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, and later met him in London. One of his books, she wrote to a friend, confirmed her "determination towards Anarchism"--not necessarily the peaceful kind. Although she was "glad of every sovereign destroyed," she hoped that India, "the most civilized country in the world," might enter the
promised land without violence. Nivedita helped organize samitis (societies) that promoted physical and moral education and social service among young Bengalis. Terrorism in India was preceded by an interest in physical culture, particularly wrestling, drill, and the use of the
lathi (singlestick). Indigenous traditions of physical culture and martial arts had survived in many parts of India despite British attempts to discourage them.
"In 1908, Barin Ghose confessed to a police officer that "there was a wide and persistent
demand all over India for one successful political murder in order to stiffen the back of the people and satisfy their spirit of vengeance." Upen-dranath Bannerjee said much the same thing in his Bengali memoirs. After a series of arrests and sedition trials, people became so enraged that "everyone seemed to be saying, 'No. This can't go on. We've got to blow out the brains of one of these bastards."'The outbreak of World War I led revolutionaries to hope that they could obtain military assistance from Germany. They did get some money, but the only significant attempt to smuggle weapons into India ended in disaster.
"In 1909 the judge in the conspiracy trial of Barin Ghose and his associates spoke prophetically:
"The danger of a conspiracy such as this lies not so much in its prospect of success as in its fruition. When once the poison had entered into the system it is impossible to say where it will break out or how far-reaching will be its effects."
During the first two decades of India's independence there was little organized terrorism in the country, but during the late 1960s left-wing Bengali insurgents began using terrorist methods to achieve their revolutionary aims. The 1980s saw the rise of separatist terrorism in Punjab, Kashmir, and Assam as well as among ethnic Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka. As I write (late 1991) Assamese and Kashmiri terrorists hold hostages in their respective valleys, Punjabi terrorists account for a dozen or so killings every week, and a Sri Lank Tamil group is being investigated in connection with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. "

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