Tales of Prison Life is Sri Aurobindo's account of his experiences as an undertrial prisoner in Alipore Jail, Calcutta. Arrested for conspiracy in May 1908, Sri Aurobindo spent one full year in jail while the British Government, in a protracted trial, tried to implicate him in various revolutionary activities. Acquitted and released May, 1909, he wrote a series of articles in Bengali in the Journal Suprabhat describing his life in prison and the courtroom. These articles form the main text of this book.
Several briefer pieces are also included in the book: three essays in which Sri Aurobindo discusses the noble character of the young revolutionaries imprisoned with him; a poem, "Invitation", which he wrote in Alipore Jail; and a speech at Uttarapara in which he disclosed for the first time some of the spiritual experiences he had while in jail.
"The Uttarpara Speech" was spoken in English. The poem "Invitation" was written in English. The three essays and the main text were written in Bengali and appear here in translation. Further information is given in the Note on the Texts at the end of the book.
Back of the Book
"Friday, May 1, 1908
I did not know that that day would mean an end of a chapter of my life, and that there stretched before me a year's imprisonment during which period all my human relations would cease, that for a whole year I would have to live beyond the pale of society, like an animal in a cage. And when I would re-enter the world of activity it would not be the old familiar Aurobindo Ghose
I have spoken of a year's imprisonment. It would have been more appropriate to speak of a year's living
in an ashram or a hermitage
the only result of the wrath of the British Government was that I found God."
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