Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya
Information about Pranab
Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya was born on 18.10.23, in a family of respectable lineage staying at Berhampur, a district town, 116 miles north of Calcutta. His father’s name was Dakshina Pada Bhattacharya and mother’s name was Prafullamayee Devi.
At the age of five, his education started at home in the traditional way, as was the practice in a Brahmin’s family in those days. Then, for about a year, he studied in Berhampur Krishnanath Collegiate School. At the age of seven he was taken to Calcutta where his father was serving as one of the engineers in Bengal Telephones. He stayed with his parents and was admitted to a private school called Anandamayee Institution, which was founded and run by a patriot and idealist named Charuchandra Dutta. Pranab imbibed here, along with all the academic subjects, the spirit of discipline, high morals, great ideals and patriotism.
After six years of studies, his school course in Anandamayee Institution was over and he was admitted to a high school at Ballygunge, Calcutta, called Jagadbandhu Institution and he passed his matriculation examination from there in 1939, at the age of 16.
Then one year passed in trying to find out whether he was meant to take up science or arts for his higher studies and finally he took admission in arts at the Krishnanath College, in his home town at Berhampur. He graduated from there in 1945, under the Calcutta University.
From his early childhood, Pranab was highly interested in sports and Physical Education and he wanted to build a strong, healthy and powerful body. He had his first lesson in Boxing at the age of seven, in Bhowanipore Y.M.C.A., at Calcutta, which his father was a member. In Anandamayee Institution he had to go through a programme of Physical Education in a minor way, as a part of his education. Later, at Jagadbandhu Institution also he had to go through a
programme of Physical Education, not in a very serious y except for Boxing which he practised seriously under a famous boxer of that time named Jagat Kanta Seal and his assistant Biren Chunder. But his real Physical Education started when he joined Biren Chunder’s club. The Ballygunge School of Physical Culture at the age of fifteen. He had his real training here in various activities and in addition to physical culture he learnt here under Biren Chunder’s guidance the supporting spirit, the spirit of sacrifice and self-negation for a higher cause, and the love for patriotic life. He also got from this institution the idea that there was a great possibility of building a great India, in every way, through sports and physical culture.
In the first year of his college studies in Berhampur founded a physical culture club called Vivekananda Byayam Samiti, with the idea of building up the younger generation for a higher life. It was successful from the very start a many fine, honest and capable people, from all walks of life, were members of this club. It is still running with full vigour and the club celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1990.
At this time, the idea came to Pranab’s mind to open physical culture clubs in every town and every village of Bengal (Bengal was not partitioned at that time), which would produce strong, healthy, honest and capable people, who would build up a great India. He had a scheme of supporting each unit with a suitable industry that would create the finance for building up health, education and the economy of the country.
But he had a small doubt. He did not know yet the ultimate aim of life towards which the organisation should be oriented.
Pranab’s family had had contacts with Sri Aurobindo Ashram since 1934. His uncle Charupada, visited the Ashram in 1936 and his father Dakshina Pada in 1938. Since then they frequently visited the Ashram.
So, it was natural that Pranab would come under the influence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
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During his college holidays after his intermediate examination, he came to have Their Darshan and to see the Ashram in April 1942, in order to get firsthand knowledge about the Ashram and the ideal and teaching of Sri Aurobindo. He stayed here for about 4 months, took up work as a service in the Ashram Laundry, started learning Sri Aurobindo’s yoga and teaching and enjoyed the true Ashram life. He liked the Ashram life. But the idea of his nation-building work remained in his mind.
He went back home after his four months’ stay in the Ashram to finish his studies and to prepare the ground for his future work.
After 3 years, in 1945, when he was about to take a state scholarship for the study of silk technology in England, he got a definite inner command to come to the Ashram, and he obeyed it at once. (He wanted to give a financial support to his main physical culture club through the sericulture industry which is why he had been trying to get this state scholarship in silk technology. Silk trading had also been his family business for four generations. So he had a great liking for this business.
He came to the Ashram in 1945, and took up work in the Laundry, as a ‘service’, as he had done during his first visit in 1942.
The Mother had a liking for him from the very beginning and She opened opportunities for him so that he could come closer to Her.
Gradually, children started coming to the Ashram and the Mother had to make arrangements for their education and play. So our school and playground were opened for them and Pranab happened to take up the playground work. Then slowly and steadily the Mother started building the Physical Education organisation and made him Her instrument. She had seen great possibilities in Physical Education for the work of Physical Transformation which is our true aim. That is why She gave so much importance to Physical Education in the Ashram.
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The Mother started taking him more and more into Her fold. In August 1947, the Mother permitted him to see Her whenever he needed to. He would go to Her for various kind of work and to attend on Her. Gradually he became a part of Her life and by November 1973, when She left Her body he used to be on duty by Her side for about 16 to 18 hours every day.
She taught him personally all about Sri Aurobindo’s yoga and His teachings. She guided him integrally in every field of life’s action. And She gave Her Ananda that remain with him all the time. He was able to see the True goal of life.
After She left Her body, he has continued doing Her work as one of Her “Uttar Sadhaks” (Uttar Sadhaks carry forth Guru’s work from where the Guru has left).
Outwardly, now his work is to guide our Ashram Phys Education organisation when needed, to look after the Ashram film and photographic work, to see people who visit him, to answer letters that come from the devotees of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo staying outside the Ashram.
At the age of 75, he is in good health, in high spirits, exercises regularly and is determined to go on right up to the end.