Dilip Kumar Roy, who achieved fame throughout India and abroad as a singer, comes from one of the most aristocratic families of Bengal devoted to aesthetics. He was 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 great passion has always been his deep thirst for the spiritual life and he has written about a good many Yogis in his personal reminiscences.
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. So far he has written about seventy books in Bengali and a dozen in English.
Sri Dilip Kumar Roy passed away on January 6, 1980 at the age of 83.
A book by Shri Dilip Kumar Roy needs no Foreword. His is a name to conjure with in the world of letters, of poetry and mystical lore. For well over half a century, he has been a prolific, distinguished writer, and has attained such an eminence in the domain of English as well as Bengali literature that a Foreword to his book is almost like holding a candle to the sun.
The present work of Dadaji, with whom! have had the good fortune of cultivating a friendship for over two decades, is a quadrilogy, a heart-warming dissertation on the impact made on his life, mind and soul by four great Vibhutis of the Supernal world of the Spirit, the inspired and inspiring “illuminates” of that realm which beckons each one of us, but whose call most people caught in the burly-burly of ephemeral, mundane existence fail to heed.
Dilipda, however, is one of the blessed minority who, responding to that call Divine, has known the agony and the ecstasy, and has emerged from out of the umbra and the penumbra of vacillation and doubt into the effulgence of joyous certitude.
Among the Seer, Poet, Saint and Mystic who are so vividly delineated in this book, I had the privilege of hearing Vishwakavi Rabindranath Tagore speak in his mellifluous voice when I was a college student in Mangalore in the early twenties, again in Oxford in 1930, and later, in 1938, of speaking to him shortly after I resigned from the Indian Civil Service and went on a ‘pilgrimage’ to Shantiniketan.
Of all the Six Illuminates portrayed in this book, I had the privilege of knowing Mahatma Gandhi best. Apart from seeing and hearing him at several public meetings, I had sat face to face with him on three occasions, chatting with him freely as he put me at ease each time: first, soon after I resigned from the I.C.S in 1938; second, shortly after my first jail term in 1941; and third, only two days before his martyrdom.
He was a consummate politician, but in line with Lokamanya Tilak and Sri Aurobindo, he sought to spiritualize politics. He fought with tenacity, but his hands were dean and his heart free from malice or hatred. If the Father of the Indian Nation—Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose thus addressed him in 1944 from beyond the seas, seeking his blessings in the holy war for freedom—was among the meek of the earth, he was indeed one of the terrible meek.
About Shri Ramana Maharshi, it is sufficient to say that he lived in the perennial, blissful peace of Sahaja Samadhi. The deep impact made on my inner being after .1 had his “darshan” for some hours in August 1941 is indelible and unforgettable.
Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo, the political revolutionary turned Poet, Seer and Sage, has joined the spiritual Pantheon, that Elysium where not many are called, and very few chosen. I have not had the privilege of haying his darshan but his Magnum Opus “The Life Divine” and his no less inspiring Essays on the Geeta helped to brighten the drabness of prison life for me and many of my fellow-prisoners during our long incarceration from 1942 to ‘45.
The author was Sri Aurobindo’s closest and dearest disciple for over two decades from 1928 till the Mahasamadhi of that Mahayogi. As the author says about his Gurudev Sri Aurobindo, before he was called to Yoga by Vasudeva Himself whom he saw in a beatific vision in his prison cell, “the miracle of miracles was that a youth who had had no grounding in Indian culture and spiritual traditions flashed out overnight as a fire- brand revolutionary and left his high post to plunge straightaway into the vortex of politics and, after accepting Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak as the All India leader of the Revolutionary movement, worked under him whole-heartedly as a loyal adherent and preached boycott of foreign goods, passive resistance and civil disobedience, endorsed subsequently by Mahatma Gandhi in his great clarion-call to non-cooperation.”
Shri Dilip Kumar Roy’s facile pen has in this book also portrayed memorable sketches of the centenarian Saint, the great God-lover, Sant Gulab Singh, who fortunately is still in our midst, as well as of that remarkable Mystic, Yogi Anirvan, who took to the Nivratti Marg and lived within, attaining to the peace that passeth understanding, the ineffable Ananda. He passed on to the great Beyond very recently, in May 1978.
The essays are written in a reminiscent vein in which, the author feels, he can write freely.
This Foreword has become somewhat legthy, and without adding to it further, I would now ask the reader to drink with delight from the fountain of sweetness and light which is well and truly the warp and woof of this fascinating book.
The Vice Chancellor of Poona University, Dr. B. A. Dabholkar, invited me to deliver three memorial lectures on Sri Aurobindo. I gladly complied and he presided over my lectures. I then asked his permission to publish these. His successor Dr. It. G. Takawale kindly consented for which I thank him from the heart. Thereafter, I decided to include a few articles of mine on Rabindranath, Sant Gulab Singh and a tribute to my dear friend, Mahayogi Anirvan who passed away on May 3!, 1978. In this I translated a number of his remarkable letters in Bengali written to me and others.
In December (1978) the great Yogi Sant Gulab Singh came to visit us and gave a few noble discourses after our bhajans. I wish I could include a few of these but as I could not manage to transcribe them at the time I decided to dedicate my book to him. He granted me the privilege. Needless to say, I was deeply impressed by the great saint. Lastly, I have quoted a few passages from his inspiring biography’ written by Shri V. Hoon along with a short account of our first meeting in Chandigarh in October, 1975.
- The essays I have written in a reminiscent vein in which I feel I can write freely. A word of apology may not be amiss, to wit, I have, on second. thoughts, let a few repetitions (especially of quotations) stay, as I felt that they might very well deepen the warmth of my homage to the illuminates I have endeavoured to portray. Have not the scriptures commended the emphasis which repetitions often do achieve: “Adhikantu no doshaya?”
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