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Nolini Kanta Gupta – A Brief Life-Sketch


Dreamer and revolutionary, linguist, scholar, critic, poet, philosopher and a man of deep spiritual realization, Nolini Kanta Gupta stands foremost among the men of this century who are destined to leave their mark on generations to come. Born on 13th January 1889 of a cultured and well-to-do family in Bengal, he came early in his teens under the influence of Sri Aurobindo, the revolutionary par excellence, and `a mighty prophet of Indian Nationalism’ of the age. Leaving a brilliant academic carrer only half-finished and spurning the lure of a lucrative position under Government, he joined a small group of brilliant young men who working under the inspiration and guidance of Sri Aurobindo in the early years of the century became a terror to the British rule and paved the way for succeeding generations to win the country’s freedom. After having spent a year in jail as an under-trial prisoner in the historic Alipore Bomb Case, he was ,taken in hand by Sri Aurobindo and with him he remained ever since. After the Master’s passing he continued as a Trustee and Secretary of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
His apprenticeship in writing commenced as a sub-editor of the two journals conducted by Sri Aurobindo in 1909 and 1910. He was taught Greek, Latin, French and Italian by the master himself and the knowledge he acquired then has borne ample fruit during the past half a century of almost incessant writing on a variety of themes. He has about 60 books to his credit, of which about 16 are in English and 44 in Bengali, not to speak of innumerable articles and poems in English, Bengali and French, scattered in the periodicals of the time.
As an exponent of the revelations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, he stands supreme. And his interests are as varied as are remarkable the clarity, succinctness, elegance and originality of his thought. His early training in Sanskrit enabled him to cover the wide range of Sanskrit literature up to the Vedic and Upanishad lore; and the classical languages of the West has given him a literary acumen which he has brilliantly employed in some of his most outstanding studies in modern and early Bengali literature.
As a critic of Tagore’s works, he is recognized as an authority. His originality of thought and literary talents were recognized and commended by Rabindranath Tagore himself. His monograph on the Poet was published on the occasion of his birth centenary in 1961.
He is no inconsiderable a poet in the French language and has rendered into English almost all the talks and writings of the Mother from the original French. He was equally at home in English and his mother-tongue Bengali ; the latter he particularly enriched by some of the most penetrating studies of the recent explorations of science. He edited two of the most important periodicals, in English and Bengali, published by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. He held the position of Dean of the Faculty of Languages at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education to which he was a constant inspiration.
Any life-sketch of his would be incomplete if no mention was made and proper place given to his wife Srimati Indulekha Gupta. When Sri Nolini Kanta Gupa left his garhasthya-jivan for good, and joined his master Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry in 1926, she took over the responsibilities that naturally developed on her and discharged them admirably. She resumed her studies in the midst of daily domestic chores of a big joint family and gradually passed all her university examinations. She became an able Headmistress of a girls’ school and succeeded in bringing up her three sons through their school and college education. Her sons one by one joined the Ashram, and in 1947 she also finally joined there, the very place she had visited with her husband immediately after her marriage in 1921.
Nolinida once mentioned that when he left his purbashram he placed the entire situation and his family duties in Sri Aurobindo’s hands and His Grace indeed took good care of them.
Nolili Kanta Gupta passed away at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram on 7th February 1984.

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