This is the first English translation of the author's memoir of the two years he spent in Baroda with Sri Aurobindo, living in his house and teaching him Bengali. From 1898 to 1900 or 1901, Roy had the opportunity to observe Sri Aurobindo closely and he describes many charming incidents that reveal Sri Aurobindo's generous and compassionate nature, his intense concentration, his "liquid and soft" laughter, and his complete lack of ambition or selfishness. "As I became acquainted with his nature," he writes, "I realised that Sri Aurobindo was not of this world. He who has spent even a few days with Aurobindo can never forget him for the rest of his life."
Dinendra Kumar Roy felt very nervous on being appointed to teach Bengali to a man considered to be a fount of languages. Aurobindo Ghose stood first in the Latin and Greek papers of the Civil Service Examination, "with marks that no previous candidate, English or foreign, had received before in those two languages". His credentials delineated an awesome image in Roy's mind. Roy imagined him as "a stout young man…bespectacled and dressed from head to toe in European clothes; rude in speech, arrogant of eye and terribly haughty in temper". He shuddered to think of the terrible arrogance this young man must have cultivated after almost a score of years in England.
Expectedly, Dinendra Kumar's wild imagination was completely confounded by his very first meeting with Sri Aurobindo. Clothed in a coarse khadi dhoti, a tight-fitting waistcoat on his back and upturned Nagrai slippers on his feet, Sri Aurobindo projected an image quite the opposite of what Roy had imagined.
But Dinendra Kumar was to discover very soon Sri Aurobindo's uncommonness. And this gradual discovery of one of the most forceful personalities of the last century is what makes With Aurobindo in Baroda
so unique. Nothing would have ever been known of Sri Aurobindo's domestic life in Baroda had this booklet not been written. Speaking about a little-known period of Sri Aurobindo's life, Dinendra Kumar's reminiscences throw indirect light on his inner state, enough to make the reader realise "that Aurobindo was not of this world". Besides, it is heart-warming to see Sri Aurobindo's god-like traits displayed so early in his life.
With a marked flair for literature, Dinendra Kumar Roy had authored Ekti Kusumer Marmakatha: Prabad Prashney
a year prior to his association with Sri Aurobindo, and published nine other books during his lifetime. He was also associated with the Saptahik Basumati
, first as an assistant-editor and then as its editor.
The prolonged hearing and the unexpected verdict of the Alipore Bomb Trial, which pushed Sri Aurobindo into unforeseen political limelight, prompted the author to write his firsthand account of his days spent with this extraordinary man in Baroda between 1898 and 1899. Candidly written in simple literary Bengali, the contents of this booklet were originally serialised in the Bengali journal Sahitya
in 1911-1912. Later, in 1923, these essays were published in the form of a book titled Aurobindo Prasanga
, literally, "About Aurobindo". The English translation is vivid and succinct, aptly preserving the unique flavour of the original work as well as capturing its subtle nuances. With Aurobindo in Baroda
is charming and captivating, wonderfully evoking the sweet, self-abnegating nature of its central figure, and rightly conveying the impression that "he who has spent even a few days with Aurobindo can never forget him for the rest of his life."
A. Mitra's association with the Ashram began in 1956. Having learnt art under the Mother's direct guidance, he taught it for sixteen years at the Lycée Français de Pondichéry.