I have spoken of a year's imprisonment. It would have been more appropriate to speak of a year's living in a forest, in an ashram or hermitage... At long last the most merciful all-good Lord (Sri Hari) destroyed all these enemies at one stroke and helped me in my path, pointed to yogashram, Himself staying as guru and companion in my little abode of retirement and spiritual discipline. The British prison was that ashram. I have also watched this strange contra-diction in my life that how-ever much good my well-intentioned friends might do for me, it is those who have harmed me - whom shall I call an enemy, since enemy I have none ? - my opponents have helped me even more. They wanted to do me an ill turn, the result was I got what I wanted. The only result of the wrath of the British Government was that I found God.
Petals in the dawn wither after a time. Something of their fragrance perhaps lingers for some time. This book captures the fragrance of the deathless saga of the revolutionaries in Bengal, who acted and suffered in the cause of freedom and either died or passed into oblivion. In this connection this book provides an outline of the sensational trial in connection with the Al ipore conspiracy case in the history of the Indian National movement. It traces the growth of Nationalism and the movement following from it with the help of intellectual and spiritual guidance of stalwarts like Aurobindo Ghosh, Bepin Chandra Pal. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai , Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar and a few others(for example, Surendranath Banerjee in the initial phase). Particular mention must be made of Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar who was a Mahratta and able writer in Bengali, whose book entitled Desher Katha described in exhaustive detail the British commercial and industrial exploitation of India. This book had an immense impact on the mind of young Bengal and strengthened the urge for Swadeshi movement. In this connection, this book tells the story of the revolutionary movement of Bengal in which young revolutionaries made a supreme sacrifice and here that glorious tale is written in vivid detail. It is they who on behalf of the Extremist party realized that the policy of "prayer, petition and pro-test" and other methods of constitutional agitation followed by the Moderate leaders like Phiroj Shah Mehta, Gokhale, Ranade and Surendranath Banerjee in Bengal had outlived its usefulness and the time had come for a call for 'complete independence'. Today we cannot seize the importance of such a clarion call of the extremist leaders when a giant like Dada Bhai Naorogi, who in an inspired moment coined the term "Swaraj", declared that the Congress party should endeavour to achieve "Colonial Self-Government". A vetc'ran moderate leader like Gokhale mocked at the idea of fighting tor complete independence as an immature idea at that time. They believed that the British rule came in India as a result of Divine Providence. Of course, they had some reasons for entertaining such a belief. If we look back at the initial stage of British rule in India, we find that the British rule came on the heels of a general unsettlement that gradually turned into anarchy. A rational code of justice was established by the British and many corrupt social practices were either controlled or eradicated by them. Also, modern education and the idea of progress came with the British rule. It is for this reason that Rammohon Roy and many progressive Indians realized England's contribution to India. But we must remember the situation was dif-ferent fifty years after 1856. British policy veered round from its progressive role to gradually a repressive one. Moreover, an awareness grew that British policy was responsible for India's poverty. Dadabhai Naorogi's Poverty and British Rule in India, R.C.Dutt's Economic History of India and Wiliam Digby's 'Prosperous' British India came out in 1901 and show in vivid detail how British policies had ruined India's once-vibrant economy. The Nationalist leaders, with Sri Aurobindo in the forefront, made people aware that a nation cannot make progress on its own line unless it can grow as a nation free from foreign control. Therefore, the Extremist leaders came to realize that the initial policy of Swadeshi and Boycott (with which the Moderates also agreed), though useful up to a point, could not deliver the goods in the long run. A policy and strategy of complete independence was the need of the hour. Even some moderate leaders who had been working for independence along strictly constitutional line for twenty years realized this, as a prominent moderate leader made this poignant admission, 'not even a courteous reply was vouchsafed' to any of the complaints of the moderate leaders-which were, ac-cording to the extremists, little better than 'mendicant policies'. 'Anushilan Samiti' whose formation and activities have been de-scribed in this book in detail was born with this specific purpose in Bengal. After the partition of Bengal came into effect on 16th October 1905 (the day which was observed in Bengal as a day of mourning and sparked off tremendous national feeling), many young Bengalis, not satisfied with the methods of the Swadeshi agitators joined the Anushilan Samiti' having more than five hundred branches. There was another society organized by Barindra Kumar Ghosh, which collected arms for the first time so that a large scale uprising can be started. In this connection the fearless and innovative endeavours of Hemchandra Das ( Kanungo) who went to Europe to learn the art of Bomb-smaking and also the efforts of Ullaskar Dutta, another unforgettable character must be acknowledged with reverence. Indeed the activities of secret revolutionary groups to prepare themselves for an armed uprising draw our admiration even today. And in this context the supreme heroism and self-sacrifice of two young revolutionaries Kanai and Satyen, to kill the traitor Naren Goswami,(who turned approver) must be written in letters of gold. This book and Sri Aurobindo's Uttarpara Speech narrate the story of quite a few such young revolutionaries whose strength of character, childlike innocence, capacity for cheer-fullness even in the face of death and exemplary power for self-effacement will go on inspiring generations to come.
It is unfortunate that the Bengal revolutionaries often could not work in harmony and rifts took place. Still, one thing was common: the urge for freedom and the need for achieving it by whatever means, violent if possible, was of supreme importance. Indeed, this book tells us the story of revolutionary activities and sacrifices of many less known revolutionaries, the detail of whose lives is scat-tered in many books and magazines, known and unknown, but their brilliant attempts for the independence of their mother-land are here put together in the space of a few pages. Though many people did not agree with the methods of the young revolutionaries (particularly their terrorist activities), because they considered such activities of the revolutionaries as going against the grain of the Indian character, few can deny today, as it appears from this book, that it is the young activists who suffered imprisonment, deportation or death, helped through their sacrifice the growth of the urge for freedom in the hearts of their countrymen.
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