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At the Feet of The Mother

IX. 4. TALES OF PRISON LIFE. New Birth

In the Gita Arjuna asks Sri Krishna: “He who takes up yoga but before going through to the end, wanders away and falls from it, what happens to him? Does he lose both worldly and spiritual gains and perish like a cloud dissolving?” In answer Sri Krishna said: “Neither in this life nor hereafter is there destruction for him. Never does any one who practises good come to woe. Having attained to the world of the righteous and having dwelt there for immemorial years, he who fell from yoga is again born in the house of such as are pure and glorious and driven by his longing for yoga, acquired during past lives, he tries even more for perfection and, finally, through the practice of many lives gets rid of all sins and achieves the supreme end.”

The theory of re-incarnation which has been always held in the Aryan religion as a part of the knowledge acquired through yoga, had lost its position among the educated folk, due to the influence of western learning. After the advent (līlā) of Sri Ramakrishna and the spread of Vedantic knowledge and the study of the Gita that truth is being re-established. Just as heredity is the chief truth of the physical world, so, in the subtle world, re-incarnation is the chief truth. There are two truths implied in Sri Krishna’s statement. Persons who have fallen from the path of yoga are born with the tendencies (saṁskāras) of learning acquired in their past lives, and, like a boat moved by the wind, the tendencies bring them to the path of yoga. But, in order to achieve results, for the production of a suitable body it is necessary to be born into a family that is fit and proper. An excellent heredity produces a fit body. When one is born in a pure and glorious home, one has a pure and strong body, born in a family of yogis one has an excellent body and mind and has the advantage of the requisite education and mentality.

For the past few years in India one can see as if a new race is being created in the midst of the old that was dominated by the gross influences. The earlier children of Mother India were born in an irreligious atmosphere or one of religious decline and receiving an education in keeping with that, they had grown short-lived, small, selfish and narrow in spirit. Many powerful great souls were born among these people and it is they who have saved the race in its hour of great peril. But without doing work commensurate with their energy and genius, they have only created a field for the future greatness and the marvellous activity that awaits this race. It is because of their good deeds that the rays of the new dawn are brightening up all the corners. These new children of Mother India, instead of getting the qualities of their parents, have grown bold, full of power, high-souled, self-sacrificing, inspired by the high ideals of helping others and doing good to the country. That is why, instead of being obedient to their parents, the young men go their own way, there is a difference between the old and the young, and in deciding a course of activity there is a conflict between the two. The old are trying to keep these youth, born of divine emanations, the pioneers of a golden age, confined to the old, selfish and narrow ways, without understanding they are trying to perpetuate the Age of Iron. The youth are sparks born of the Great Energy, Mahāśakti, eager to build the new by destroying the old, they are unable to be obedient or submit to the laws of respect for the parent. God alone can remedy this evil. But the will of the Great Energy cannot be in vain, the new generation will not leave without fulfilling the purpose for which they have come. In the midst of the new the influence of the old lingers on. Because of the fault of inferior heredity and an āsuric education many black sheep have also taken birth; and those who have been ordained to inaugurate the new age are unable to manifest their inherent force and strength. Among the youth is a marvellous sign of manifesting the age of gold, a religious bent of mind, and in the hearts of many, a longing for yoga and half-expressed yogic powers.

Ashok Nandi, accused in the Alipore Bomb Conspiracy Case, belongs to this second category. Those who know him would hardly believe that he might be involved in any conspiracy. He had been sentenced on slender and rather incredible evidence. He was not overwhelmed, like the other young people, by a strong desire to serve the national cause. In intellect, character and life he was wholly a yogi and devotee, he had none of the qualities of a man of the world. His grandfather was a realised Tantric yogi (siddha), his father too was known to have acquired powers through the pursuit of yoga. The rare birth in a family of yogis of which the Gita speaks, that had been his good fortune. Signs of his inherent yogic powers had shown themselves intermittently even at a tender age. Long before his arrest he had come to know that he was destined to die while young, hence his mind did not take to schooling or the preliminaries of leading a worldly life, yet on his father’s advice, by ignoring the ‘failure’ (asiddhi) of which he had earlier intelligence, he was pursuing what he considered to be his duty and had taken to the path of yoga. It was then that he was suddenly arrested. At this danger, which was the result of his own action, Ashok remained unperturbed and in the jail he devoted his entire energies to the pursuit of yoga. Many of the accused in the case had adopted this path, and though not foremost he was one among these. In love and devotion he was inferior to none. His generous character, sober devotion and loving heart charmed every one. At the time of Gossain’s murder he was ailing in the hospital. Before regaining his health he began to fall ill frequently during his solitary confinement. Even when sick he had to stay during the chilly nights in a room that was open on all sides. Because of this he developed tuberculosis and then, when there was no chance of his surviving, sentenced to the heaviest punishment, he had been kept once again in that death-cell. Thanks to the petition of the barrister Chittaranjan Das arrangements were made to remove him to the hospital, but he was not given bail. In the end, due to the Governor’s generosity, he was allowed to die in his own home, looked after by his own people. Before he could be freed through appeal God released him from the body’s prison. Towards the end Ashok’s yogic powers developed considerably; on the day of his passing away, overwhelmed by the power of the Lord as Vishnu, ‘distributing’ the holy, salvation-inducing Name and spiritual advice he gave up the body with the Name on his lips. Ashok Nandi had been born to work out the consequences due to a previous incarnation, hence all this misery and his untimely death. The energy needed to usher in the Age of Gold did not descend in him, but he has shown a brilliant example of the natural yogic powers. Men of good deeds spend a little time in this world to work out their previous sins, then, freed from all sins, they leave the defective body and, assuming another body, they come to express their inherent energies and to do good to men and creatures.

(Dharma, No. 2, August, 1909)

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