Eight out of four1

I wish to read out a few short articles in Bengali. This one I wrote when I was seventeen years old, in 1948. It is called Sathi. Sathi means "eternal companion." Lord Krishna and I were having a conversation. [Sri Chinmoy reads out his article.]

This one is about fear: Bhoi bibhikshikha… [Sri Chinmoy reads.]

Now I shall read out two very, very deep philosophical articles. These I wrote in 1952, so I was a little more mature. I believed in philosophy! I studied philosophy — not only Indian philosophers, but all the Western philosophers whom I admired deeply. The title of the first article is Abhipsa, which means "aspiration." [Sri Chinmoy reads.]

Now I will read out two more articles. First I shall read out "The Strength of Bengal" — Bangalir baler katha balte giye… [Sri Chinmoy reads.]

I am ending with one more. This article is about Shivaji, the great king who fought against the Moguls. Shivaji was a Maharashtrian king. He was a very, very great soul, and he did not want to rule the country. He wanted to offer his crown to his Guru, Ramdas. Ramdas said, "No, you have to rule. Under my guidance you will rule the country." Now I shall tell you the story about this article. In our school at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram we used to get marks out of four, not out of one hundred. A perfect mark was four out of four. I happened to be an excellent student in Bengali, so quite often I used to get four out of four. When I submitted this article, my Bengali teacher fortunately or unfortunately gave me eight out of four! That created a very serious problem! The headmaster of the school was very upset. He said, "What kind of joke is this?" Alas, the headmaster was my enemy, because his friend, who was, I think, thirty years older than me, did not like me.

At recess time we had to study. The boys and girls would study together. The headmaster came while we were studying and insulted the teacher for giving me eight out of four. Then he said, "The poems were not written by him! They were written by his elder brother Chitta."

The school teacher was so fond of me. When I had been in his class for only six months, he wrote an article of twenty-six pages about me, because by that time he had seen my poems. Many times in front of him I wrote Bengali essays and articles.

The teacher invited the students to meet together. We accepted, on condition that he would give us a large quantity of milk and bananas. He said many, many nice things about me. He was the greatest Ashram writer.

Next to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was Nolini Kanta Gupta, the Ashram Secretary, who asked me to translate his Bengali articles into English. There were many, many MAs in the Ashram, even triple-MAs, but Nolini chose me to translate his writings from Bengali into English. I translated many, many, many books. Tagore said, "Nolini Kanta Gupta's contribution to Bengali literature is unique." Again, this very short article of mine about Shivaji created a problem! In front of the students, the headmaster gave me two poems to write: one about a river, and one about a mountain. Then he left. He said that he was going to come back. So in five minutes, in front of so many students I wrote one poem about a river and one about a mountain. My teacher was overjoyed! He was so pleased. But the headmaster did not return. The teacher sent for him, but he did not come back.

Tagore had great admiration for Shivaji the king, and he wrote an immortal poem in which he urged the Bengalis to follow the Marathis. We Bengalis do not follow anybody; we always lead. But in this case Tagore begged all the Bengalis to follow the Maharashtrian leader Shivaji. A few extremely, extremely significant lines I quoted from Tagore. When I read, your heart has to feel what I am saying. Our Bengalis will be able to appreciate fully this immortal utterance of Tagore: "Oi itibrittakatha…[Sri Chinmoy quotes from Tagore's poem "Shivaji-Utsav".]

My article on King Shivaji was very short, but it created serious problems!

  1. GLC 25. 27 August 2005, Aspiration-Ground, Jamaica, New York