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Barindra Kumar Ghose

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(05.01.1880 – 18.04.1959), Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother (intimately called Barin), born at Croydon, England. His name is listed in the birth register as “Emmanuel Matthew Ghose”. In the same year his mother, Swarnalata, returned to India with Barin and his sister Sarojini. She was given a cottage in Rohini, a village two miles from Deoghar, where she lived with Barin and Sarojini.

Dr. Ghose seems to have been a rare visitor. Barin’s first memory of his father is almost dream-like. One day the two children were playing outside in the garden when a distinguished-looking visitor came and went in. Sometime later the children were called in. “At first,” recalls Barin, “Didi [elder sister] and I kept running along the walls, to escape the outstretched arms of a big-bearded man, who kept coming towards us to clasp us to his heart. Then, I don’t remember when, under a huge mass of toys and biscuits our sweet surrender took place. A faded, half-forgotten memory still lingers: I sitting in Father’s lap, and his long beard falling over my body.”

About his mother Barindra recollected: “Storms of rage and storms of joy came alternately to the madwoman,” Barin later wrote. “During her happy moods she would laugh and laugh to herself and babble uncontrollably. In her rage she would pace around the room like a caged tigress roaring at someone.”

In 1888 Dr. Ghose managed to persuade his wife to give up Sarojini and he took her away to Khulna. Barin was going on eight, to put this event in his own words, “a tiger fell amid the herd”. Barin was left all alone with his mother for two years until Dr. Ghose stole him away: at first, Dr. Ghose’s friend went to Rohini and met Swarnalata. He tried to persuade her to let Barin join his father and offered her a large sum of money. But the mother absolutely refused to part with her youngest son. Next morning, the sun had just risen. Swarnalata was standing in the veranda and Barin was seated a little away from her enjoying the warmth of the sun. “I heard some crackling noise of footfalls. Suddenly a muscular man looking like a ruffian came along and said to Mother, «Memsahib, will you take flowers?» Throwing a basketful of flowers at her feet, he grabbed my hands, and dragging me with him, ran. Behind us some ten or twelve rowdies ran making a racket. Mother was furiously angry. She ran inside and snatching a knife chased the pack of rowdies. These men were so afraid of Mother that they did not stop a moment to pick me up. As I was hauled over thorny bushes and rough ground, my feet got terribly scratched and, oh, how they hurt! The men stopped only when we got to the mango grove, beyond the compound, which was fifteen to twenty acres. They were panting. The fat gentleman was waiting there with a palanquin of eight bearers.”

Dr. Ghose placed Sarojini and Barindra in the care of a woman he had set up in a house in Calcutta. Every week or so, Dr. Ghose came into town to see his lady-friend and his children.

Barindra attended school in Deoghar, and after passing the entrance examination in 1901. After finishing high school, he entered Patna College, but dropped out six months later. For a while he stayed with Manmohan in Dacca and Benoybhusan in Cooch Behar. Wearing out his welcome with both brothers, he went back to Patna and opened up a shop, which soon failed. At this point, he decided to visit Sri Aurobindo. In November 1902, without informing him in advance, he caught a cross-country train and two days later arrived in Baroda, ready for an indefinite stay.

Sri Aurobindo gave him books: Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, M. G. Ranade’s Rise of the Maratha Power, William Digby’s “Prosperous” British India. In the evenings, when Sri Aurobindo and his friends got together, Barin participated in their increasingly businesslike discussions. He learned that they were in contact with a secret society that was rumored to have existed since the Revolt of 1857 and to have had something to do with the W. C. Rand murder. (In 1897 two brothers of Poona, Damodar and Balkrishna Chapekar, shot and killed Charles Walter Rand, the chairman of the Poona plague commission.) It was steered, Sri Aurobindo told him, by a “Council of Five” that had some “Mahratta politicians as its members.”

In the first decade of December 1902, Sri Aurobindo brought Barin with him when he went to Bombay to talk revolution with G. D. Madgavkar, a sympathetic ICS officer.

In the beginning of 1903, Sri Aurobindo sent Barin to Calcutta to help Jatin Banerji in the work of revolutionary recruitment and organization. Before dispatching him on his mission, he initiated his brother into the secret society. Holding a sword in one hand and a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in the other, Barin swore that he would fight to the death for the freedom of India.

When he reached Calcutta, Barin went to the society’s headquarters and introduced himself to Jatin. He was impressed, like most people, by the former soldier’s physique, bearing, and self-confidence. Jatin’s first impressions of Barin are unlikely to have been as favorable. The thin, dreamy, bespectacled youth was not the sort of material he was looking for. But Barin did have an infectious enthusiasm for the cause. One day, while Barin was sitting around at headquarters, a man named Abinash Bhattacharya arrived and asked for information. Barin explained that Jatin was out, made a bit of small talk, and then suddenly cried out: “Brother, if it makes your heart ache to see India in bondage, don’t waste any time, join us today, this very moment!” Overwhelmed, Abinash grabbed Barin’s hand and answered: “Right, brother! From now on I’m with you.” With Barin and Abinash spreading the word and Jatin breaking in the recruits, the society slowly began to take shape.

In February 1903, Sri Aurobindo went to Calcutta. He discovered that the society’s recruitment and training were making brisk progress. He met some of the recruits and had discussions with Pramathanath Mitra, whom he initiated into the secret society. The two agreed on the overall line of approach: establish samitis throughout the province, provide training in physical culture, and, when the time was right, introduce revolutionary ideas. Before Sri Aurobindo left Bengal, he and Barin went to Midnapore to inspect the local samiti. His uncle Jogen, who had grown up in the town, joined them from Deoghar to show them what the local recruits were doing.

Soon Barin had attempted to open centers in different parts of Bengal, and succeeded in Chandernagore, Mymensingh, and other towns. In Calcutta a trickle of young men began showing up at the society’s new headquarters on Grey Street. Still, the group’s progress was slow. After two years, the much-vaunted secret society consisted of “one horse, one bicycle ... and a dozen or so leaders, great and small.” The lack of direction and organization opened the way to friction and fragmentation.

At the end of 1904 Barin returned to Baroda and lived again with Sri Aurobindo in the house of Khaserao Jadhav. The men passed the evenings together, joined occasionally by their wives and children. Barin kept himself busy digging in the garden, playing the esraj, and writing poetry. With nothing much happening in Bengal, it looked as though he might be staying in Baroda for a while. If he stayed, he would have to find a job. In December, Sri Aurobindo asked the Gaekwar if there was an opening for his brother in the state service. The Gaekwar asked to be reminded about the subject before he left for Europe.

In 1905, more than once, Sri Aurobindo, Barin, Deshpande, and A.B. Devdhar visited Brahmananda at Chandod, a small town on the bank of the Narmada.

In summer 1905 Sri Aurobindo and his friends tried their hands at automatic writing and were intrigued by the results. Barin turned out to be an unusually good medium, producing what Aurobindo called “some very extraordinary automatic writing ... in a very brilliant and beautiful English style.” These communications included a number of statements that “proved to be true although unknown to the persons concerned or anyone else present.” This justified further experimentation: Madhavrao, Sri Aurobindo, Barin, and Deshpande held séances for three days running. They addressed the spirit of Ramakrishna and asked him what they should do to improve their country. “Mandir karo” — make a temple — the spirit replied. Sri Aurobindo was inclined, especially later, to interpret the command to build a temple in metaphorical rather than physical terms: one should make oneself a living temple of the spirit.

Rajaram Patkar recollected: “One evening I saw Barindra going with the planchette into the room where all the three used to meet. Successively for three days they met in that very room, along with Barindra with the planchette. On the fourth day I met Barindra and asked him what all of them were doing. Without the least hesitation he told me that a message from the Goddess has been received with detailed directions, which after being put in a readable form will be printed and published in the form of a book. The book was out in a few days under the title of Bhawani Mandir, or The Message of the Goddess. It was for private circulation only....”

Barin was eager to get started with his order of political sannyasis. He persuaded Aurobindo to write something to stir up interest. The result, shortly before August 1905 Sri Aurobindo wrote a twenty-page pamphlet called Bhawani Mandir and Barin came to Calcutta and had it printed secretly.

Then Barin went away into the Vindhya mountains to search for a “place far away from the atmosphere of cities, into solitude, to find a peaceful and ennobling atmosphere” to establish there a temple of Mother India (Bhawani Mandir). He came back with very persistent mountain fever! He was being treated, but not being cured, when a Naga Sannyasi came, from whom Sri Aurobindo had a direct proof of the powers and utility of Yoga. Sri Aurobindo later said about this incident: “I first knew about Yogic cure from a Naga Sadhu or Sannyasi. Barin had mountain fever when he was wandering in the Amarkantak. The sadhu took a cupful of water and cut it crosswise with a knife while repeating a Mantra. He then asked Barin to drink it; saying he wouldn’t have fever the next day, and the fever left him.” Another recollection of Sri Aurobindo: “He wanted however to find a Guru. He met the Naga Sannyasi in the course of his search, but did not accept him as Guru, though he was confirmed by him in a belief in Yoga-power when he saw him cure Barin in almost a moment of a violent and clinging hill-fever by merely cutting through a glassful of water cross-wise with a knife while he repeated a silent mantra. Barin drank and was cured.”

In March 1906, at Barin’s suggestion Sri Aurobindo agreed to the starring of a paper, Yugantar, which was to preach open revolt and the absolute denial of the British rule and include such items as a series of articles containing instructions for guerrilla warfare. The first issue of Jugantar, or “The New Era”, came out on 12 March 1906. Sri Aurobindo himself wrote some of the opening articles in the early numbers and he always exercised a general control, when a member of die sub-editorial staff, Swami Vivekananda’s brother, presented himself on his own motion to the police as the editor of the paper and he was prosecuted; the Yugantar under Sri Aurobindo’s orders adopted the policy of refusing to defend itself in a British Court on the ground that it did not recognise the foreign Government and this immensely increased the prestige and influence of the paper. It had as its chief writers and directors three of the ablest younger writers in Bengal, and it at once acquired an immense influence throughout Bengal. It may be noted that the Secret Society did not include terrorism in its programme, but this element grew up in Bengal as a result of the strong repression and the reaction to it in that Province.

Returning to Calcutta in the beginning of 1906, Barin contacted Hemchandra Das and others who were eager for revolutionary action. In June, he and Hem went to East Bengal to assassinate Bampfylde Fuller. They journeyed from one corner of the province to the other trying to find a place for the job. Soon they had spent all of their money and Barin sent Hem back to ask Aurobindo for advice. Aurobindo gave him what little money he had, then — according to Hem — suggested that they look for someone to rob. Hem was not surprised: the leaders of the samiti already had decided that robbery was a legitimate way for revolutionaries to raise money. Hem returned to East Bengal where he and Barin, helped out by a new recruit named Narendranath Goswami, tried to rob the house of a reputedly rich woman near Rangpur. After their failure, Hem and another recruit named Prafulla Chaki went to Naihati Junction, where they planned to board Fuller’s train and shoot him. Luckily for them, the train did not arrive. Downcast, they returned to Calcutta and told Aurobindo the story. “He listened to it calmly,” Hem later recalled, “and told us to go home.” Barin fell back on his old idea of setting up an ashram where political sannyasis could be trained. Hem decided that what was needed was technical know-how, and he went to Europe to get it.

Barin was setting up a training center in the suburbs of Calcutta. The children of Dr. K. D. Ghose owned a property in Maniktala, just north of the city. “The Garden,” as the place was known, consisted of two acres of land, a dilapidated house and a couple of ponds. The place was close to the city and at the same time comparatively secluded. Toward the beginning of 1907 Barin and some young recruits began to live intermittently at the Garden. Simultaneously, Barin and his editorial colleagues decided to preach revolution in the columns of the Jugantar. In a three-part series called Principles of Revolution, the anonymous writer considered the ways of molding opinion (newspapers, songs, literature, theatre, secret meetings), obtaining weapons (manufacture, smuggling, theft), and collecting funds (donations, robbery). Other articles hinted at how the principles were to be applied: “The number of Englishmen in the entire country is not more than a lakh and a half [150,000],” one article pointed out. “And what is the number of English officials in each district? With a firm resolve you can bring English rule to an end in a single day.”

Jugantar’s voice brought dozens of young men to the office door. Quickly taken into confidence, the newcomers were told that a secret society was forming that would drive the British from India. Those who wanted to know more were introduced to the leaders. If the initiates seemed to be good prospects, they were taken to the Garden and shown around. As the Maniktala ashram took shape, Barin decided to cut his connection with Jugantar, as the paper was attracting too much attention. Police searches and surveillance at the Jugantar office had become routine.

By the middle of the year, Barin had gathered about a dozen revolutionaries. All were young — most were between fifteen and twenty years old — all were more or less educated, and all were Hindu. Invariably from the “respectable” (bhadralok) classes and for the most part well brought up. Some of the boys started living at the Garden, others visited from time to time. A few took part in actions. That summer, several members of the group tried to rob a rich moneylender near Burdwan. A month or two later, Aurobindo’s associate Charu Chandra Dutt plotted to kill Sir Andrew Fraser, the lieutenant-governor of Bengal, in Darjeeling. Dutt’s accomplice in this attempt was Prafulla Chaki, the young man who had accompanied Hem Das to Naihati Junction the previous year. The Darjeeling attempt failed, as had all previous attempts.

Sri Aurobindo did not know the men in Barin’s group (except Upendranath Banerjee, Hemchandra Das, Abinash Bhattacharya, Satyen Bose, Sudhir Sarkar and Sailen Bose) until he met them in jail. Sri Aurobindo said: “It was all Barin’s work. I never knew who these boys were and never saw them.... It is true that Barin used to consult me or Mullick for any advice. But the whole movement was in his hands. I had no time for it. I was busy with Congress politics and Bande Mataram. My part in it was most undramatic.”

In October 1907 the group acquired some dynamite from a friend whose father owned a mine. Ullaskar Dutt loaded it into an iron cylinder and attached a detonator of his own manufacture. Learning that Fraser was planning to travel north from Calcutta on November 5, they went to a suitable spot on the railroad line to place the bomb, but the train rushed by before they could do so. Undeterred, they tried again ten days later when Fraser was scheduled to return. This time they laid the bomb in time, but the train did not come.

Disappointed but still determined to kill Bengal’s highest official, Barin and Ullaskar planned their next attempt in advance. The newspapers had reported that Fraser would return to Calcutta from the south in the first week of December. While Ullaskar was working on his biggest bomb yet, Prafulla Chaki and Bibhutibhusan Sarkar went to Narayangarh, near Midnapore, to dig a hole beneath the rails. After finishing the spade work, they returned to Calcutta and, on December 3, came back with Barin and the bomb. Placing it in the hole and setting the fuse, they waited for the train. It did not come. Prafulla and Bibhutibhusan dug up the bomb while Barin hurried back to Calcutta. He returned with a newspaper that said that Fraser would depart on the night of December 5. Going back to their hole, they again placed the bomb and then sat down to a meal of sweetmeats. Barin walked back to Narayangarh to catch the last regular train to Calcutta. When it passed the spot where Bibhuti and Prafulla were waiting, they set the fuse and started for home. A few hours later Fuller’s special train passed over the bomb. It exploded deafeningly. The engine heaved upward, but the train did not derail. Climbing down, the lieutenant-governor surveyed the damage and ordered an investigation.

On December 1907 Aurobindo and his companions, including Barin, reached Surat where the Session of the National Congress was held.

On December 27, Barin tried to arrange a conference of revolutionaries from all parts of India. He sent a note to Aurobindo, asking him to persuade his friends to come. “Dear Brother,” he began, “now is the time. We must have sweets all over India readymade for imergencies.” “Sweets” was Barin’s code word for bombs. Sri Aurobindo stuffed this compromising note into his pocket, but did not attend the conference. Neither did Tilak, nor any other Maharashtrian. Barin concluded that “we had to walk our lone path and somehow convince and initiate the whole of Congress-minded India into this new creed of violent and armed revolution.”

On 30 December 1907 the Session was broken by disorder: a group of paid hooligans rushed for Tilak. Maharashtrian Extremists mounted a counterattack. A Mahratta shoe flew through the air, rebounding off Banerjea and striking Mehta. Pandemonium broke loose. Sri Aurobindo, surrounded by his guard of Bengalis, watched calmly as chairs were thrown and heads broken. At one point Satyen Bose rushed up to him and said, “I have a pistol with me, shall I shoot Suren Banerjea?” “For Heavens sake, don’t do that!” Sri Aurobindo replied. Soon Satyen, Barin, and the other young men found a way to escort him out of the pavilion. As he walked through the doorway, a Moderate supporter spat on him from above.

Sri Aurobindo left Surat on the morning of 31 December 1907. When he and Barin reached Baroda, they were met by an excited crowd of old friends and acquaintances and hundreds of unknown admirers. Soon Sri Aurobindo, Barin, and Lele took the train to Bombay. There Barin departed for Calcutta, while Aurobindo and Lele went on to Poona.

Lele had come to Baroda at the invitation of Barin Ghose, who still was looking for a guru for his Maniktala ashram. Lele quickly discovered what kind of yoga the young men were practicing. He told them that they were on the wrong path; India would achieve its freedom, but not through violence. What was needed was men with purified hearts who were ready to carry out God’s will. Barin and the others laughed at this. Nothing was ever going to happen, they argued, unless someone showed the British the door. Lele repeated his warning. “You mean they’re going to make us dance at the end of a rope?” the young men asked. “What will happen will be much worse,” the guru replied.

After their near success in derailing the lieutenant-governor’s train, Barin and his friends had continued to plan new actions. At this time, Hemchandra Das returned from Europe with a trunk full of up-to-date technical literature, the most important item of which was a seventy-page manual on bomb-making, translated from the Russian. Hem had not intended to join forces with Barin, but after a talk with Aurobindo, agreed to cooperate. With Fraser on the alert, a new target was needed. The obvious choice was Douglas Kingsford, chief presidency magistrate of Calcutta, who had ordered the whipping of Sushil Sen and sentenced Bhupen Dutt and other Extremist editors to rigorous imprisonment. Kingsford also had acquitted Aurobindo, but this was the exception. Hem decided to make a package bomb and have it delivered to the magistrate’s door. Filling a tin of Cadbury’s cocoa with a pound of picric acid, he placed it and three detonators in a hollowed-out copy of Herbert Broom’s Commentaries on the Common Law. A spring device would set the bomb off as soon as the book was opened. Hem wrapped the bomb in brown paper and gave it to Paresh Mallick, a member of Barin’s group. Dressed as a delivery boy, Paresh handed it to Kingsford’s servant, who gave it to his master. Too busy to examine the package, Kingsford put it on a shelf and went back to work. The bomb, it later was discovered, was very well made. Had the magistrate opened it, he would certainly have been blown to pieces.

Ullaskar Dutt, Barin’s explosives expert, also had been busy. In January or February, he, Barin, and some others had gone to Deoghar. There Ullaskar succeeded in charging a shell with picric acid, and he and others went to an isolated spot to try it out. One of the group, Prafulla Chakravarty, was given the honor of throwing the bomb. It worked beautifully, but Prafulla and Ullaskar did not take cover quickly enough. Prafulla was killed on the spot, Ullaskar seriously wounded.

One of the reasons that Barin had gone to Deoghar was to get out of range of the Calcutta police. His fears that they were closing in were justified. In the course of its investigation of the Narayangarh train bombing, the CID had got word of a mysterious garden near the capital, and penetrated the Midnapore samiti. Satyen Bose, the leader of that group, provided the infiltrator with a good deal of information, including the names of Aurobindo and Barin. Soon the government of Bengal and the Calcutta police had a fair idea of what the revolutionaries were doing. The government advised F. L. Halliday, the capital’s commissioner of police, “to take no action in Calcutta as it was feared that the conspirators might take alarm and re-form at another centre which would not be known, and would therefore presumably be the more dangerous.” Halliday agreed, but assigned men to watch the Garden and several houses in the city.

On April 5 1908, Barin asked Sri Aurobindo what he thought of his plan to assassinate Léon Tardival, the mayor of the French enclave of Chandernagore. “Why do you want to do this?” Aurobindo asked. “He broke up a swadeshi meeting and oppressed the local people,” Barin replied. “So he ought to be killed? How many people will you kill in that way? I cannot give my consent. Nothing will come of it.” Barin disagreed: “If this isn’t done, these oppressors will never learn the lesson we have to teach them.” Seeing that his brother had made up his mind, Aurobindo concluded: “Very well. If that’s what you think, go ahead and do it.” Barin then went down and told the men who were waiting: “Sejda [elder brother] agrees.”

On 10 April 1908, Barin, Indubhusan Roy, and Narendranath Goswami went to Chandernagore. One of them was carrying a bomb disguised as a carriage lantern. On the evening of April 11, Barin passed the bomb to Indubhusan, who threw it through a grating into the room where the mayor was dining with his wife. The detonator exploded, but not the charge. For the fifth time, an attempt to assassinate a government official with a bomb had failed.

On April 24 1908, detectives followed Barin from the Garden to 23 Scott’s Lane, and the next day to Hem Das’s workshop at 15 Gopi Mohan Dutt Lane. From Hem’s, Barin went to 48 Grey Street, the office of the Bengali daily Nabashakti.

Barin was preoccupied with an action planned for the next few days in a place three hundred miles distant. The government, fearing for the safety of Douglas Kingsford, had promoted him to district judge and posted him in Muzaffarpur, in northern Bihar. In March, Kingsford had packed his furniture, papers and library, which included the still unopened book-bomb, and moved to the remote provincial town. Barin was still obsessed with the idea of killing him, however, and claimed he had his brother’s consent for the job. In the beginning of April 1908, he sent two of his men on a reconnaissance mission to Muzaffarpur. When they returned, he took one of them, Prafulla Chaki, to Hem Das’s lab. Hem gave Barin and Prafulla a fist-sized bomb filled with six ounces of dynamite, a detonator, and a black powder fuse. A few days later, Prafulla and a new man named Khudiram Bose took the train to Muzaffarpur. The police there were on the alert. A few days earlier, Commissioner Halliday had heard a rumor that an attempt was going to be made on Kingsford’s life. He passed this along to Muzaffarpur’s superintendent of police, who informed Kingsford, who dismissed the whole thing. Nevertheless, the superintendent assigned four men to watch the judge’s house and to follow him wherever he went.

On 29 April 1908, Prafulla and Khudiram surveyed the Muzaffarpur park. The British club where Kingsford went after work was across the road. A constable noticed the Bengali strangers, and when they returned the next day, he asked them who they were. Just schoolboys, they replied in their unconvincing Hindi. “Move on,” he said. “The sahebs pass by this road.” The boys moved away, then doubled back, hid in a thicket, took out their bomb, and waited. In the club, Kingsford was enjoying a game of bridge with his wife and the wife and daughter of a barrister named Pringle Kennedy. The foursome finished their last rubber around 8:30. Bidding the Kingsfords goodbye, the two Kennedy women got into their carriage and started for home. The judge and his wife, traveling in an almost identical carriage, were right behind them. As the Kennedys passed the trees where Khudiram and Prafulla were waiting, Khudiram ran up and threw the bomb through the carriage window. It exploded. Both women were fatally wounded.

On 1 May 1908 Barin, who knew that he could not keep the arms, could not bring himself to destroy them. Instead he and others dug a few shallow pits and hid them. By the time they finished it was late. They gathered up some of the papers and burned them, rolled out their mats, and fell asleep.

On 2 May 1908, in the Maniktala Garden a party under the command of a European inspector arrested Barin and fourteen others. Moved by an idea of self-sacrifice, Barin offered to make a statement even before the search had begun. He imagined that if he and a few others took full responsibility, most of the younger boys, and Aurobindo as well, might get off. As it was, no one could be found at that hour to take down a confession, but Barin still proved very helpful. In the garden, he showed the police where the guns and chemicals were buried (3 rifles, 2 double-barrel guns, 9 revolvers, 3 bombs and a quantity of explosives were found in a house, buried in the garden and in a temporary mat shed in the grounds of the house). In the house, the searchers found hundreds of documents that had escaped the fire, including a copy of the Paris explosives manual and some operational notes in Barin’s hand in which the initials “A.G.” figured prominently.

In Alipore jail Barin, never at a loss for quixotic ideas, had planned jailbreak. Friends outside would get hold of a motor car, some weapons, and one or two bombs. They would smuggle in six or seven revolvers, wax to take impressions of the keys, and acid to throw on the guards. One day, four of the prisoners would pull out their revolvers, shoot their way to the walls, scale them with ladders made from blankets, rush to the waiting car, and be driven away. Once free, they would take refuge in Sundarbans (like Bankim’s heroine Devi Chaudhurani), Kaimurgiri (the proposed site of Bhawani Mandir), Afghanistan, or somewhere else. From there they would assemble a liberation army to lead the masses to victory. As persuasive as ever, Barin sold his idea to a number of the other prisoners and also to a revolutionary group in Chandernagore. Before carrying out the plan, however, he sent someone to inform his brother. Aurobindo heard the messenger out, then replied: “I mean to stand trial.”

On 30 August 1908, Barin had a visit from Srishchandra Ghose, a revolutionary from Chandernagore. Srish gave him a bundle of clothing that concealed a .38 caliber revolver. Barin took the gun to the ward and gave it to Kanailal Dutt, who gave it to Satyen Bose. A week or so earlier, Kanailal had given Satyen a .45 caliber horse pistol. Satyen said it was too big; hence the second delivery. As he took the new pistol from Kanai, Satyen told him that he was planning to shoot Narendranath Goswami, a traitor. He had heard that Narendranath Goswami planned to implicate more people. Satyen and Hem Das had decided that silencing Naren was more important than Barin’s jailbreak. On the morning of August 31, Kanai and Satyen killed Narendranath Goswami.

On May 6, 1909, Sri Aurobindo and sixteen others were acquitted. but as for Barin, he was convicted under sections 121, 121a and 122 of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced to be hanged by the neck until he is dead. Later, however, the sentence was reduced to transportation for life in the Andamans.

In 1920, during a general amnesty, Barin was released from Cellular Jail in Andaman. He returned to Calcutta and started a career in journalism. In the middle of the same year he visited Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo received him “smiling in his usual detached way. Tea with bread and butter were served soon after and we sat down to it with him in his usual chair.” In the week that Barin stayed, he spent much of his time in Aurobindo’s study. “There were chairs for visitors round one oblong table,” he reported. On the walls were a few pictures, and on every side “books were heaped on a table, on chairs, on his sideboard, on the very bed [in Sri Aurobindo’s adjoining bedroom] — in every imaginable place and most of them thick with dust.” When not talking or laughing, Sri Aurobindo “used to sit there absorbed in thought with his dreamy eyes resting in the blue sky and on the dark tree tops visible through the windows.” Barin recalled that Sri Aurobindo “never cared to waste his breath in a long discourse with me on his particular path of yoga.”

In the summer of 1922 Barin, being in Pondicherry, learned that a good house only a minute’s walk away from the place on rue François Martin was available. Located on the corner of the rue de la Marine, it was owned by a Muslim who worked in the French administration. Barin passed this information on to Sri Aurobindo. So by the end of October Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, along with Dorothy Hodgson (Dutta) and five others moved into 9 rue de la Marine. They also kept the old place, which soon became known as the Guest House.

At the end of 1922 Barin rented a house in Bhowanipore, Calcutta. Young men came to Barin “seeking a little light and guidance in Yoga.” He told them what he knew of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, and sat with them in meditation. If they appeared to be sincere, he wrote to Sri Aurobindo about them, enclosing a photograph when possible. On the basis of Mirra’s reading of the photographs and his evaluation of Barin’s descriptions, Sri Aurobindo sent detailed guidance by letter. Barin felt at the time that he was a “live wire” for transmitting Sri Aurobindo’s force to others. But he was not sufficiently experienced to deal with spiritual calamities. A young man named Krishnashasi lost his mental balance and within two weeks became a raving lunatic. Not long afterward, Sri Aurobindo asked Barin to return to Pondicherry. The Bhowanipore center remained open for another two years, finally collapsing due to lack of funds. Sri Aurobindo made no effort to revive it, deciding that such centers “could not function without proper men and the men must first be built up.”

By August 1923 there were fifteen full-time residents in the two houses in Pondicherry. Two houses were enough for the community’s immediate needs, but not enough to allow expansion. Barin, always eager to start big things, volunteered to go to Calcutta to collect funds. Sri Aurobindo was not inclined to make a public appeal. When Barin persisted, Sri Aurobindo allowed him to approach selected individuals, but not with a begging bowl. “Make it a point not to accept sums less than a hundred [rupees], and when it begins to come in hundreds, then don’t take less than a thousand.”

He was presented (among the 24 inmates) at meditation at the ‘Siddhi Day’ (descent of Krishna) 24 November 1926.

In 1929 Barindra left the Ashram, returned to Calcutta and again took up journalism. He married Shailabala Devi (Sailaja Dutta), a widow who taught in the Corporation School. As the Ramananda Lecturer at Calcutta University; he delivered lectures on humanity and its evolution. (Bangali Charitabidhan:336). In 1933 he started an English weekly, The Dawn of India. He was associated with the newspaper The Statesman, and in 1950, he became the editor of the Bengali daily Dainik Basumati.

He died on 18 April 1959.



In Bengali

Ghose, Barindra Kumar


Ghose, Barindra Kumar

Āmār Ātmakathā

•   Kalikātā, R. Nāga, Āryya Pābliśiṃ Hāus, 1932]

Ghose, Barindra Kumar; Chatterji, Bankim Chandra


•   Calcutta : Basumati Sahitya Mandir, [1945]

Ghose, Barindra Kumar

Bārīndrera ātmakāhinī

•   1973.- 115 p. port. 22 cm.- First published in 1922.

Ghose, Barindra Kumar

Dvipantarer Banshi

Ghose, Barindra Kumar

Pather Ingit

In English

Bankim Chandra Chatterji; Aurobindo Ghose; Barindra Kumar Ghosh


•   Saharanpur: Ashir Prakashan, 2012.

Ghose, Barindra Kumar; Sircar, Nripendra Nath

Congress and terrorism

•   / Edited, published & printed by Mr. B. Roy.- Calcutta, [1935?]

Ghose, Barindra Kumar

Rishi Rajnarayan

Ghose, Barindra Kumar

Sri Aurobindo

Ghose, Barindra Kumar

In English

The Tale of My Exile: twelve years in the Andamans

•   Pondicherry: Arya Office, 1922.- 168 p.

Ghose, Barindra Kumar

The truth of life

•   Madras: S. Ganesan, 1922.

Ghose, Barindra Kumar

Wounded humanity

•   Calcutta: B.K. Ghose, [1934?]

In Russian