'Bankim Chandra Chatterjee'64

The years 1907 and 1908 shall shine perpetually in the history of Bengal. The current of true patriotism simply inundated the four frontiers of the province. On May 4th, 1908, in the small hours of the morning, Sri Aurobindo was arrested, and soon he was considered to be the supreme leader of the firebrand revolutionaries. The two significant features of the Alipore Bomb Case were the unexpected acquittal of Sri Aurobindo and C. R. Das's swift flare-up into fame. Das was then a junior counsel. Bhupal Bose, the father-in-law of Sri Aurobindo, appointed Byomkesh Chakravarti to defend his son-in-law. The old man dismissed Das as a child, saying, "I should not commit the charge of the case of my son-in-law to a younger counsel."

But somehow Chitta Ranjan Das felt an inner urge to participate in the defence of Sri Aurobindo, his dear friend, whom he had first met in England. In those days, he used to communicate with the spirit-world with the help of a planchette. One day a particular message was received by him repeatedly.

"You must defend Arabinda." To the query who he was, the reply came, "Upadhyaya." Requested to be more explicit, the "spirit" replied: "Brahma Bandhava Upadhyaya" (a fire-soul of patriotism). From that day on, it became quite clear to Chitta Ranjan that he would have to conduct the Alipore Bomb Case.

Meanwhile, for some reason or other, the counsel Byomkesh Chakravarti was dispensed with and C. R. Das was called in.

On this occasion Sri Aurobindo's sister, Sarojini Ghose, played a significant role in saving her brother. She raised subscriptions and even begged from door to door, appealing to the very rickshaw-drivers and the coolies who, on their part, never failed to respond to her throbbing appeal. At last, on August 18th, 1908 in Bande Mataram she issued the following appeal:

"I am sincerely grateful to my countrymen and countrywomen of different provinces, creeds and grades of society for their kind response to my appeal for funds for the defence of my brother, Srijut Aurobindo Ghose. The time has now come to engage a counsel to defend him in the Court of Sessions.
  Perhaps the public have not hitherto had any accurate idea of the probable expenses of my brother's defence. My legal and other advisers tell me that the amount required would not fall short of sixty thousand rupees. But only twenty-three thousand rupees have been received up to date.
  May I not hope that the balance will be received shortly?..."

Deshabandhu Chitta Ranjan's love and affection for Sri Aurobindo will be evident from the following incident. When some of the friends of Sri Aurobindo made a fervent request to him to conduct the case to the best of his ability, he was deeply pained:
"Am I less anxious than any of you to get Aurobindo released?"

On another occasion he said that while defending Aurobindo he felt that he himself was the accused and he was arguing his own case. What a sense of identification he developed with his intimate friend!

While closing the Alipore Bomb Case, he made a short and eloquent speech. His prophetic voice will ring in the ears of posterity for all time:

"...My appeal to you is this" — that long after this turmoil, this agitation will have ceased, 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...

Let us here leave Sri Aurobindo to speak about the loving sacrifice of C. R. Das and the divine mystery involved in the matter.
"He came unexpectedly" — a friend of mine, but I did not know he was coming. You have all heard the name of the man who put away from him all other thoughts and abandoned all his practice, who sat up half the night day after day for months and broke his health to save me — Srijut Chitta Ranjan Das. When I saw him, I was satisfied, but I still thought it necessary to write instructions. Then all that was put away from me and I had the message from within. ‘This is the man who will save you from the snares put around your feet. Put aside those papers. It is not you who will instruct him. I will instruct him.’ From that time I did not of myself speak a word to my counsel about the case or give a single instruction, and if ever I was asked a question, I always found that my answer did not help the case. I had left it to him and he took it entirely into his hands, with what result you know.

64 . Note: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was the author of "Bande Mataram, which was the original national anthem of India, and the source of profound inspiration in the long struggle for India's independence.