Dilip Kumar Roy, who achieved fame throughout India and abroad as a singer, comes from one of the most aristocratic and artistic families of Bengal, where he has long been regarded as one of the foremost cultural leaders of the artistic renaissance in India. He started his career as a singer and composer. Mahatma Gandhi once said of him:
“I may make bold to claim that very few persons in India
or rather in the world — have a voice like his, so rich
and sweet and intense”. But his grande passion has always been his deep thirst for the spiritual life.
A friend of Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Romain Rolland and Bertrand Russell, and a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, he made his mark as a writer in English and Bengali. He wrote about one hundred and twenty-five books in Bengali and about twenty-five books in English.
Dilip Kumar Roy and Netaji were close friends from their college days and were together in Cambridge. Later, though their fields of activity diverged more and more, they remained in close touch, and the spiritual bond between them only grew in strength. It was an intimately personal relationship unsoiled by worldliness. Netaji wrote to him from Mandalay Jail: “Dilip, your letter has touched such a tender chord in my heart.... that it is not easy for me to give an adequate reply by way of reciprocation.... But I know you will continue to feel for me. This is a great solace to me — no matter where I happen to be confined.”
In this book Shri Roy has confined himself to reminiscing about Netaji, the man, as he knew him.
My reminiscences on Netaji first saw the light of day at the end of the year 1946. Nearly two decades have glided by since then and, naturally, I have had to modify some of my views and comments on him in the light of subsequent events some of which have been not only spectacular but revealing to boot. But this is not important. What is important is that during all this time his stature has continually increased till it tends today to become almost legendary, so much so that one is forcefully reminded of a pregnant line of Rabindranath in his immortal poem on Shahjahan: Tomar kirtir cheye tumi je mahat, which means: “You are greater than your achievements.” Or, shall I say, Netaji’s great life, deepening into a beacon, as it were, reminds one of the poet Browning’s emphasis on aspiration as against achievement:
I stress this as it is from this view-point that I have attempted my appraisement of Netaji’s personality all through our close friendship in the course of which we have both passed through deserts of pain and aridity as well as magic gardens of joy and rich fulfillment, albeit in worlds of different ideals and dreams.
Some may hold that I have divagated now and then, bringing in Yoga and mystic-seeking, Pandit Jawaharlal and Sri Aurobindo. But I do hope that discerning readers will agree that it was all germane to my theme in that I had not only to create a background but also to bring into bold relief how and where exactly Netaji’s philosophy differed from my own. I have essayed this, however, not merely to limn him as I have seen him, but to stress as well the greatness of his tolerance and the genuineness of his mystic outlook on life. In fact, the more closely I came to know him, the more convinced I became that it was because he was an authentic mystic at heart, that he could worship with every fiber of his passionate being the divine essence and aura of Mother India. That is why he so often loved to recite a poem Dwijendralal (a poet he adored) wrote in 1886 in Aryagatha:
I need hardly explain why I thought fit to add the Appendices which will speak for themselves.
I have tried to delete as many repetitions as possible in the Appendices except in one or two places fro reasons which, I feel, are too obvious to need an apology.
I must acknowledge a deep debt I owe to Netaji’s beloved nephew, Dr. Sister Kumar Bose, for helping in many ways, besides suggesting the title of the present volume in this edition, as well as for permitting me to quote a few inspiring passages from Netaji’s beautiful and moving autobiography which DR. Bose published in1965. It is entitled An Indian Pilgrim at the end of which is appended a sheaf of his letters to his mother, translated from Bengali. These letters, incidentally, amply bear out my contention (as he himself confesses in one of them) that Netaji was a mystic par excellence and not a politician. For none but an authentic mystic could pour out in letter after letter to his mother (and he was a mere teenager at the time) his touching aspiration for God and godliness, saints and holiness and the sacredness of the very soil of Mother India he adored.
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