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Krishna Kumar Mitra (Mitter)

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(1852-1936), Sri Aurobindo’s maternal uncle, Mesho in Bengali, i.e. mother’s sister’s husband.

He was born in the village of Baghil in the Mymensingh district of Bengal. His father Guruprasad Mitra.

Krishna Kumar was educated at Mymensingh’s Hardinge Vernacular School and the Zilla School and obtained a bachelor’s degree from the Scottish Church College, Calcutta in 1876. Subsequently he studied law for a while. He taught at the AM Basu School and College in Calcutta from 1879 to 1908, when he resigned from his post as superintendent and professor of history following the colonial government’s threat to cancel the college’s accreditation if he continued to be associated with the swadeshi movement.

Mitra married Lilabati Devi (1864-1924, aunt ’Na-mesi’), the fourth daughter of Rajnarayan Basu, at Calcutta in April 1881. At their wedding, conducted in accordance with Brahmo rites, Narendranath Dutta sang two songs that were composed by Rabindranath Tagore for the occasion. The Mitras had three children — the son, Sukumar Mitra (1885-1973), and two daughters: Kumudini (1882-1943), Basanti Chakravarty (1884-1965). Kumudini was beautiful and straightforward. She was to become one of the first two women councillors of the Calcutta Corporation. Basanti was a good writer, and edited with distinction for ten years a Bengali magazine for children, Mukul. She, in her article ’Our Auro-dada,’ recalled her childhood’s joy-filled days at Deoghar. Sukumar Mitra was intimately associated with Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary work. He had been a messenger of the leader from a very young age, and was a repository of the stream of events of the time; he had also close links with several other revolutionary institutions. Sukumar’s eight-part article on Sri Aurobindo, published in the Bengali magazine Basumati (1951).

Krishna Kumar was the editor of Sanjibani, and a prominent leader in the anti-partition agitation. Besides his journalistic pieces in the Sanjibani, Mitra also authored several books including Mahammad-Charita, Buddhadev-Charita and Bauddhadharmer Sangksipta Bibaran. He also wrote an autobiography, Krishna Kumar Mitrer Atma Charit.

During trial, Krishna Kumar find lawyer, Chittaranjan Das, and begged him to take the defense of Sri Aurobindo up.

Krishna Kumar played a conspicuous role in developing the volunteer movement and was closely connected with the Anusilan Samiti of Calcutta. In December 1908 the Criminal Law Amendment Act allowed a special court of three judges without a jury to accept evidence not valid under ordinary law, and their decision was final. The nine Bengali leaders — among them Krishna Kumar Mitra — were so deported without even knowing the charges against them and were not released until February 1910.

In May 1909, after his release, Sri Aurobindo went to house of Krishna Kumar, 6 College Square, the north Calcutta, where he lived till February 1910. Sri Aurobindo became the head of a household that included his aunt Lilavati, and his cousins Kumudini, Basanti, and Sukumar. The family of Krishna Kumar resides downstairs, while the office of his journal Sanjivani is located upstairs. In two rooms here, Sri Aurobindo does his writing work and speaks to those who come to see him.

Basanti Chakravarty, recounts: “Father was in jail in Agra. Mother, always sickly, became very sick with worry. Their doctor, Dr. Col. U.N. Mukherji, Surendranath’s son-in-law, advised Lilabati to have a daily bath in the Ganges. Somebody always went with her. She seemed to prefer her nephew. Na-masi would come up to Auro-dada when he was writing an article for the Dharma or the Karmayogin and say, «Auro, please come along with me, let’s go for a bath in Ganga.» At once Auro-dada would put down his pen and leaving the writing in the middle, accompany her.”

The house was watched From police report: “Aurobindo spends most of his day in study of religious books and in writing. He is said to be accessible to almost anyone, known or unknown, who goes to call on him. His principal associates, whom he visits and is visited by are Babu Ramananda Chatterji, Gispati Kabyatirtha, Lalit Mohan Das, Prasanna Kumar Bose, Jitendra Nath Banerji, Gyan Chunder Roy; C.R. Das, Barrister-at-law; B.K. Das, Barrister-at-law; B.C. Chatterji, Barrister-at-law; S.N. Halder, Barrister-at-law; and P. Mitter.”

In the beginning of February 1910, the nine deportees were released. On the eleventh, Sri Aurobindo was at the station when his uncle Krishna Kumar Mitra returned from the North.