Mahabiplabi Arabindo is a 1971 Bengali film (don’t worry, it has English subtitles) which covers the life of Sri Aurobindo from his return to India in 1892 to his retirement to Pondicherry in 1910. Angel Television has uploaded the movie on youtube in 13 parts. The duration of this movie is about two hours. I have added brief descriptions of the content before each clip below.
Aurobindo Ghosh was the third among five children born to Dr. Krishna Dhan Ghosh and Swarnalata Devi. His father was the District Surgeon of Rangapur in Bengal. He had two elder brothers Benoy Bhushan and Manomohan, a younger sister named Sarojini and a younger brother named Barindranath.
Part 1: The film opens with a five minute eulogy and then depicts the death of Sri Aurobindo’s father, Dr. Krishna Dhan Ghose. He died of shock after being misinformed that the ship carrying his beloved Auro had sunk. In reality, Sri Aurobindo had sailed on a different ship.
part 2: Sri Aurobindo arrives in Baroda as an employee of the princely state of Baroda which was then ruled by the Maharaja Sayaji Rao. Sri Aurobindo has been highly recommended by James Cotton(1847-1918). Sri Aurobindo had disqualified himself from Indian Civil Service examination by not appearing for the horse-riding test. He became disillusioned with the prospect of being a British civil servant after reading letters from his father describing British oppression in India. In the following clip, his mother Swarnalata, who used to suffer from episodes of insanity, does not recognize him. She says, “This is not my Auro. He was a little baby. My Auro had a scar on his hand.” Aurobindo returns to Baroda.
part 3: In 1893, Sri Aurobindo wrote stirring articles advocating complete freedom from British rule for the Indu Prakash. He is pressured to stop out of fear of offending the British rulers. He learns Bengali with Dinendra Kumar Roy. He arranges Jatin Mukherjee’s admission into the army of the Baroda state, in order to prepare for an armed struggle against the British. Jatin is from the province of Bengal but has to pretend that he is from another province in order to qualify for armed service. He has to lie because in the aftermath of the 1857 uprising, the British had effectively barred Bengalis from serving in the army since the majority of rebellious army units had come from the Bengal army.
Part 4: First five minutes of the following clip is unclear. Sri Aurobindo marries Mrinalini Bose (1887-1918) after meeting her at the house of her uncle Girish Chandra Bose.
Part 5 : Sri Aurobindo meets Sister Nivedita (Margaret Noble, disciple of Swami Vivekananda) to discuss Swaraj or Self-rule. Sri Aurobindo is inspired by Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi as well as Irish freedom struggle. He meets his brother Barin. He wants to send someone to Europe to learn bomb-making technologies. He sends Barin to Bengal to recruit and train youth for an uprising against British rule.
Part 6 : In 1905, the British partitioned the province of Bengal into a Hindu-majority West Bengal and a Muslim-majority East-Bengal. The partition was portrayed as an act undertaken ostensibly to ease administration of the largest province, but in reality it was done so as to divide the rising Bengali intelligentsia which was developing into a threat against British rule. The partition aroused widespread anger. This clip depicts the popular sentiment.
Part 7 : Sri Aurobindo writes a letter to Mrinalini describing his three “madnesses” (dedicate everything to God, desire for firsthand vision of God, and the need to liberate the country). He meets Swami Brahmananda and has a spiritual experience at a Kali temple at Chandod. He leaves Baroda state service in 1906 to plunge into the freedom-struggle in Bengal. Over in Calcutta, he begins writing for the journal Bande Mataram. He meets another revolutionary, Upendranath Banerjee.
Part 8: A revolutionary organization Jugantar had been started where young men learnt to make bombs, use firearms and gain combat training. The police start following them after a failed attack. Last few minutes of this clip depict Jatin’s wife.
Part 9: Sri Aurobindo in tried in court for seditious newspaper article but the case fails because another leader, Bipin Chandra Pal (1858 – 1932) refuses to testify against Sri Aurobindo. Bipin Pal is sentenced to six months for his failure to cooperate. Prafulla Kumar Chakravarti dies during bomb testing.
Part 10 : Training sessions of the Jugantar organisation are depicted in this video clip. By the end of 1907, the society’s self-taught chemist, Ullaskar Dutta, was producing powerful bombs. On the evening of 30 April 1908, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki threw a bomb into a carriage emerging from the European club in Muzaffarpur. They meant to assassinate Douglas Kingsford, magistrate of the Calcutta Presidency but instead two Englishwomen were killed. Prafulla commits suicide when cornered by the police but Khudiram is arrested.
In this clip, Sri Aurobindo is sleeping on the floor when police come to arrest him for the failed attempt to kill Kingsford. The British officer is shocked to see him sleeping on the floor. He tells the arresting British officer that he is a poor man. The officer retorts, “So you are engaged in these terrorist activities to be rich?”.
Part 11 : The Alipore bomb case, as it came to be known later, commences. The court is presided over by C. P. Beachcroft, Esq., Addl. Sessions Judge, 24 Perganas, who is a former classmate of Aurobindo. The Deputy Superintendent of the Intelligence Dept is Shamsul Alam. Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother, Barindranath, was born in Britian and is entitled under British law to be prosecuted as a British citizen. Barin declines the offer and decides to stand trial as an Indian citizen. One of the accused Narendranath Goswami betrays the cause and turns into a prosecution witness in order to escape with a lesser sentence. Narendranath is shot dead by Kanailal Ganguly using a revolver smuggled into a hospital. Kanailal Ganguly is subsequently executed.
Part 12 : Sri Aurobindo has been told by (Lord) Krishna that he will be acquitted from the Alipore bomb case. Sri Aurobindo spends his time practicing Yoga. He reads the Bhagavad Gita in jail and realizes Cosmic Consciousness. He has a vision of Swami Vivekananda who gives him detailed knowledge of the planes above the Mind. The detainees sing patriotic songs in the court and make a lot of noise, but Sri Aurobindo sits absorbed in meditation. The defense lawyer Chittaranjan Das proves that the letter implicating Sri Aurobindo is a hoax.
Chittaranjan Das presciently tells the judge in reference to Sri Aurobindo : “I appeal to you, therefore, that a man like this stands not only before the bar of this court, but stands before the bar of the high court of History… Long after this controversy is hushed in silence, long after this turmoil and this agitation ceases, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone his words will be echoed and re-echoed not only in India but across distant seas and lands.”
Part 13 : Sri Aurobindo’s brother, Barin, is sentenced to be hanged. Sri Aurobindo tells him that he won’t be hanged. (Barin’s sentence is reduced on appeal to life imprisonment in the Andaman islands, but he was released after serving ten years due to a post-First World War amnesty issued by the British government). Sri Aurobindo is declared innocent and released from prison. The Deputy Superintendent of the Intelligence Dept, Shamshul Alam, is shot dead on Jan 10, 1910. Sister Nivedita (Margaret Noble) comes to warn Sri Aurobindo that the British are thinking of arresting him again, but Sri Aurobindo declines to act on the information. Later, an associate comes to warn Sri Aurobindo that an arrest warrant has been issued in his name. Sri Aurobindo hears a voice (Divine Guidance) commanding him to go to Chandernagore at once. Chandernagore is a French-controlled town in what was then largely British-controlled India. Sri Aurobindo goes to the river-bank and engages a ferry to take him upstream from Calcutta to Chandernagore. In Chandernagore, he stays at the house of Motilal Roy for a few months. From there, he travels to Pondicherry in disguise in the April of 1910 aboard the French vessel S.S. Dupleix.
- The first meeting of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa
- Early mystic experiences of Sri Aurobindo
- Sri Ramakrishna’s occult contact with Sri Aurobindo
- Subhas Chandra Bose on Sri Aurobindo
- Mahatma Gandhi’s aborted 1934 attempt to meet Sri Aurobindo
- Predictions of Sri Aurobindo
- Progress reports of Sri Aurobindo
- How can Sri Aurobindo smoke and drink while practising Yoga?
- An autobiographical short story by the Mother Mirra Alfassa
- The Mother Mirra Alfassa as a Guru
- The genesis of Sri Aurobindo’s superman
- Emma Calvé’s interaction with Swami Vivekananda
- The laissez-faire approach of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
- Silviu Craciunas has a dream of Sri Aurobindo
- How do movies affect Yoga practice
- Dharana Shakti : the capacity to sustain spiritual experiences
- Why read Sri Aurobindo’s books?
- Sri Aurobindo’s prose style – by Goutam Ghosal
- Sri Aurobindo’s 1947 meeting with two French visitors
- Sri Aurobindo’s interaction with an American soldier during World War II