Savitri Era Basics

Dilip Kumar Roy

with-indira-devi                                       Dilip Kumar Roy   


                                                  Anurag Banerjee 


The year was 1897. Swami Vivekananda returned to his motherland India after conquering the West with his speeches which not only transformed the outlook of the West towards India which, according to the Westerners was nothing but a backward land of rope-tricks and snake-charmers but also aroused in them the fire to learn and be aware of one’s true self. He also roused his sleeping countrymen from their slumber of ignorance and selfishness and initiated them with the chant of a new life. To instill hope in broken hearts and rejuvenate faith in shattered souls, he sang The Song of the Sannyasin:

            “Wake up the note! the song that had its birth

              Far off, where worldly taint could never reach;

              In mountain caves, and glades of forest deep;

              Whose calm no sigh for lust or wealth or fame

              Could ever dare to break; where rolled the stream

              Of knowledge, truth, and bliss that follows both.

              Sing high that note, Sannyasin bold! Say—

                                                                       ‘Om Tat Sat, Om!’”[1]


       In that year on 22 and 23 January, two great souls took birth; one became a Yogi and the other became a warrior of the freedom movement of his country. The latter dedicated his life for the liberty of his nation while the former realized the message conveyed by the Songs of the Sannyasin and eventually realized the Divine. Both were of different temperaments; the path they followed was also not same but in due course of time both became the best of friends. The warrior was Subhash Chandra Bose and the Yogi was Dilip Kumar Roy.

       The names of Dilip Kumar’s ancestors could be traced in a number of well-known documents and books of historical importance. His ancestors Ramgopal and his younger brother Madangopal worked under Maharaja Krishna Chandra, the ruler of Krishnanagar where the former was the Prime Minister and the latter was the commander-in-chief. Maharaja Krishna Chandra had conferred the title of ‘Rai Bakshi’ to Madangopal and thus his descendants came to be known as the ‘Roys’. Madangopal’s great-grandson Kartikeya Chandra Roy became the Prime minister of Nadia (‘one of the noblest and most ancient States of Bengal’). Not only was he known for his honesty, bold thinking and strength of character but also for the three books (Khitish-Vanshabali-Charita, Atmajivan-Charita and Geetimanjari) he had penned. Atmajivan-Charita which was his autobiography had shocked the society when it was published because of the strong views he had expressed in it. Dilip Kumar writes about his grandfather:

      “…he not only blatantly testified to his apostasy by saying that he could not believe in a good Sentinel watching over this incorrigible universe, but also vented openly his admiration of the mlechcha (unclean) English and his partiality for their culture in toto—so much so that he began to drink regularly, though moderately, to attest the utter sincerity of his admiration of their cultured ways. (Later he gave up drink in a day for good when he saw the Young Prince drinking too much, following his example). He was a man of such uncompromising honesty that he was willing to face public obloquy, if not ostracism (for it was difficult to ostracise a princely Prime Minister of a noble Prince, whose ancestors had made history) rather than disavow his reasoned convictions. In my boyhood days I used to hear a great deal, from my father and his friends, about his incredible incorruptibility and outstanding integrity of character.”[2]

      Kartikeya Chandra’s youngest son Dwijendralal (1863-1913) was a renowned dramatist and composer of Bengal whose songs are sung even today. In 1884 he obtained his Master Degree from the prestigious Presidency College of Calcutta. He won a State Scholarship which enabled him to study at Cirencester College (England) from where he obtained the diplomas of F.R.A.S., M.R.A.C. and M.R.S.A.E. At the age of twenty two he published a collection of his poems in English titled Lyrics of Ind which earned the praise of Edwin Arnold.  He returned to India in 1886 and three months later married Surobala Devi, the eldest daughter of Pratap Chandra Mazumdar, the famous homeopathic physician who had treated Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Their first son Dilip Kumar (nicknamed ‘Montu’) was born on 22 January 1897 followed by Maya Devi (!898-1973) who was later married to Bhavashankar Banerjea (the son of Surendranath Banerjea, the noted Moderate leader of Indian National Congress). Dwijendralal’s mother Prasannyamoyee was a direct descendant of Adwaita Goswami (Sri Chaitanya’s associate) so it can be said that bhakti flowed in the veins of Dilip Kumar.

     There was a prediction in Dilip Kumar’s horoscope that he would renounce the world at a later age. Such a prediction regarding her only son made Surobala shed tears but her mother Barahini Devi ridiculed her daughter’s fear and remarked: “Your son might become a poet or a philosopher but never a sage!”

     The bliss Dwijendralal enjoyed with his happy family was however short-lived. On 29 November 1903 Surobala Devi died while giving birth to a child. Dwijendralal was not in Calcutta when his wife was experiencing the labour pain; by the time he returned after being informed by a telegram that his wife was in a critical condition, she had already departed from this world.

      Dwijendralal’s life was shattered by the death of Surobala; he was forty years of age when he became a widower so he was asked to remarry which he refused. On being asked by his friends, he replied: “Me and marriage! How can I marry when I still worship her in the temple of my heart!” After Surobala’s demise, the wife of her eldest brother (who herself was aged thirteen or fourteen) took charge of her children. Since Dwijendralal was a deputy magistrate and had to work mostly in the town, Dilip Kumar and Maya Devi stayed at 203/1 Cornwallis Street with their maternal grandparents. In 1910, Dwijendralal constructed a two storey house at 2 Nandakumar Chowdhury Lane and named it “Surodham” after his wife. He shifted to it with his children. Over here Dilip Kumar’s spiritual life commenced. The loneliness which he experienced due to the absence of his mother made him introvert by nature and at the same time, his father’s indulgence and pampering made him precocious and sentimental. At a much later age he realized that he was sentimental because his capacity to feel was far more than an average boy of his age.       

    Though Dwijendralal was a descendant of Adwaita Goswami yet he was a strict atheist (like his father who, however, became spiritual towards the end of his life). He ridiculed the practices of Hinduism and its rituals and composed poems and songs in which he spoke his heart out:


          “O cling, my brothers, to this our faith,

                 Like leeches stick to your station,

          No others can a like harbour be

                Nor pledge such swift salvation.

          Think! are you a thief, or robber? then just

                In the holy Ganges you dive;

          Are you a sinner? then tramp to Gaya

                Or Kashi or Puri and thrive.”




         “If I humbug the world to the top of my bent,

                 Steal, swindle, blaspheme or perjure,

          ’Twill all be absolved by dint of the Gita,

                 All ills of the flesh she can cure.

          There can be no scriptures, O friend, like the Gita,

                 Let’s live with her name on our lips!

          Glory to thee, O Gita, my angel,

                 Whose magic nought else can eclipse.” (Translations by Dilip Kumar)


As a result of his father’s influence and personality Dilip Kumar became an atheist as well but the thought of the inexistence of God did not convince him fully. There was a constant oscillation in his sense and sensibilities; on one hand he wanted to believe that God did not exist while on the other hand, his argumentative mind sought evidence.

     At the age of thirteen, Dilip Kumar was enrolled to Metropolitan Institution. Though he had studied Bengali and Sanskrit at home and had developed a strong proficiency but he was weak in English as compared to his classmates. Then Dwijendralal himself took up the task of tutoring his son and despite his work-pressure, wrote Lessons in English. Within four or five months Dilip Kumar gained the command over the English language he craved due to the tutelage of his father.

     When Dilip Kumar was standing on the bridge between Evidence and Faith being totally lost in the conflicts his young mind was subjected to, his cousin Nirmalendu Lahiri, the famous theatre actor of Bengal (his mother was Dwijendralal’s sister) came as an angel to repel the darkness in Dilip Kumar’s heart. He came to stay at his Dwijendralal’s house to study for his Intermediate Arts. The year was probably 1910. He was an ardent admirer and most genuine devotee of Sri Ramakrishna who made Dilip Kumar realize that Faith was the only path which can lead to the Divine. He asked Dilip Kumar to read the gospels of Sri Ramakrishna complied by Mahendranath Gupta alias Sri M (whom Dilip Kumar would be eventually introduced to by Nirmalendu). By reading the gospels, Dilip Kumar realized that it was what his young heart was seeking! (Later he admitted that because of Nirmalendu the seeds of devotion were sown in him and he was responsible for the complete erosion of atheistic arrogance in Dilip Kumar and that he taught the latter how to surrender at the Lord’s Feet.) When the darkness of atheism was dissolving in the light of theism, Dilip Kumar read Bhakti Yoga (written by Aswini Kumar Dutta, the well-known nationalist leader) which gave him a boost in his spiritual aspiration. Often at night Nirmalendu (who slept in Dilip Kumar’s bedroom) found him praying. A few days later Nirmalendu took Dilip Kumar to Shantipur to meet his father Nikunjamohan who was a great Yogi. On Nikunjamohan’s request Dilip Kumar sang: “All, all’s ordained by you , O Mother!” The song made Nikunjamohan go into a state of bhav-samadhi which was a new experience for Dilip Kumar. The wall of Disbelief was shattered completely and the light of Belief began to spread; as a result Dilip Kumar became desperate to come in contact with sages and ascetics. One day he went to meet Ma Saradamoni, the wife of Sri Ramakrishna and received her blessings; on another occasion he went to Sri M’s place with Nirmalendu and was blessed by the chronicler of the gospels of Sri Ramakrishna.

     But the solitude that is required for sadhana was absent at ‘Surodham’ since apart from Dwijendralal’s family, his elder brother too stayed with them with his wife and five children, along with Nirmalendu and Bhupen (another cousin), so there was an acute crisis of privacy. Therefore with Nirmalendu’s help, Dilip Kumar built a small ‘cave like sanctuary’ with a few planks and a curtain on the roof of ‘Surodham’; it acted as his cave of sadhana where he prayed to and meditated on Krishna, Kali and Sri Ramakrishna. He writes about it:

      “As Krishna He leads us through Beauty to Love, culminating in Bliss. As Kali, the Mother, He inspires us to see the Divine even in the Terrible; as Shiva He blesses us with His ineffable peace; and as the Ganga He comes to absolve us from our sins so we may sleep in her bosom of mystic beatitude.”[3]

     Like his father, Dwijendralal too was drawn towards spirituality and he composed a number of devotional songs that are sung even today. The touch of devotion in his songs found its manifestation in the songs composed by Dilip Kumar. To his motherless children he acted both as a mother and father and his presence was so fulfilling that Dilip Kumar hardly missed his mother. He writes about it:

      “But a child is a nursling of the future and so it did not take me long to forget my mother, especially because father took us in hand and became to us father and mother in one.”[4]

     Due to the deterioration of his health, Dwijendralal was forced to retire early from his job as a deputy magistrate in March 1913.  Following the demise of his wife he had become oblivious about his health and as a result of his involvement in various activities, his blood pressure had shot up to a great extent. After his retirement, he planned to start a magazine titled Bharatvarsha and his friend Gurudas Chattopadhyay agreed to be its publisher. With extreme enthusiasm, he began the work of the magazine but was unable to see the publication of its very first issue as he died just a few days before Bharatvarsha saw the light of the day.

    On 17 May 1913, Dwijendralal passed away following a cerebral attack while revising the manuscript of one of his dramas; the last word he had uttered was ‘Montu’. Dilip Kumar was at the playground when his Uncle’s compounder rushed to him and informed about his father’s illness. Despite the efforts of Pratap Chandra Mazumdar and his eldest son Dr. Jitendranath, Dwijendralal did not survive the attack. Following their father’s death, Dilip Kumar and Maya Devi were taken to Theatre Road at their maternal grandparents’ residence where their Uncle Khagendranath and his wife Amiya Devi became their guardians.


     In 1913 Dilip Kumar passed the matriculation examination securing 554 marks out of 700 and got a scholarship of Rs.10. He joined the Presidency College to study Intermediate Science; at the same time he started learning vocal music from Sitangshujyoti Mazumdar. Sometime later he started learning khayal from Bamacharan Bandopadhyay, toppa from Ramkathak Mahasaya and thungri from Gourishankar Misra, Jamiruddin, Daulatram, Soni and Hafez Ali. At Presidency College he befriended Subhash Chandra Bose, Dhurjati Prasad Mukherjee[5] and Satyendranath Bose[6] (who influenced him to learn French). In 1915 he passed his Intermediate Science securing the 24th position. He enrolled himself for Bachelor of Science at Presidency College but in 1917, he failed to qualify due to inadequate marks in Practical Chemistry. The shame of failing made him restless and he began to toy with the idea of renouncing the world. But at that point of time, he met Yogi Kumarnath who advised him to be patient and told him that once the right time comes the Divine Himself would call him. Dilip Kumar was quite impressed with his words; in 1918 he passed B.Sc. securing the fourth position in the first class along with 80% marks in Practical Chemistry.

    In 1919 Dilip Kumar decided to go to abroad and appear for the I.C.S. examinations. But his maternal grandparents wanted him to get married before leaving for England. But Dilip Kumar was firm in his vow of celibacy; whenever he heard of any invitation at a prospective bride’s place, he fled to the houses of Subhash Bose and Satyendranath Bose. One day he told his grandmother very clearly that if her search for a bride for him did not cease at once, he would renounce the world. Being aware of the prediction in her grandson’s horoscope, Barahini Devi consulted her husband and made Dilip Kumar promise that he would not marry an Englishwoman during his stay abroad.

    At that time Swami Brahmananda (1863-1922), the first President of Ramakrishna Mission was staying at Calcutta. Pratap Chandra was introduced to him when the former was treating Sri Ramakrishna, so he decided to take Dilip Kumar to the Swami so that blessings of the Swami would act as a shield and protect him from all possible harms. Pratap Chandra and Dilip Kumar went to meet the Swami who was staying in the house of Balaram Bose (another disciple of Sri Ramakrishna) at Baghbazar.  In due course of conversation with Pratap Chandra, Swami Brahmananda learnt that Dilip Kumar sang well so he asked the latter to sing for him. Quite elated, Dilip Kumar sang ‘My soul’s a honeybee of love/ The Mother’s lotus feet invite”. The Swami went into a trance by listening to the song; after sometime he opened his eyes and looked at Dilip Kumar. He assured Pratap Chandra that no harm would touch his grandson and when he touched Dilip Kumar on his head, the latter experienced the flow of absolute peace from his head to the base of his spine. He blessed Dilip Kumar and said that he saw the Grace of Sri Ramakrishna around Dilip Kumar which would protect him as an armour.


      In 1919 Dilip Kumar sailed for England in a ship named ‘Thangoa’. He did not make any friends on board but spent his time with two British girls aged seven or eight but one day, they too ignored him by saying that their mother had told them not to mix up with natives. On 2 July he reached London where he stayed for a week and then left for Cambridge where he arrived on 8 August. After a few days Subhash Chandra Bose joined him at Cambridge and with much effort, Dilip Kumar obtained seats for them at Fitz-William Hall and he stayed as a tenant at 21 Cromwell Road. He soon became famous in the students’ society for his songs, especially the ghazals. He also met Rabindranath Tagore, Rothenstein and W.B.Yeats during that time.

    In 1920 Dilip Kumar passed Mathematical Tripos Part I and passed Music Special in the following year. There is a history behind his taking up Music as a subject at Cambridge. He wanted to be an I.C.S due to the influence of Loken Palit (Dwijendralal’s friend) but under the magnetic influence of Subhash Chandra he left I.C.S. along with Khittish Prasad Chattopadhyay (great-grandson of Pt. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar). Then he decided to become a professor and teach students the mantra of nation-building; then again he changed his mind and decided to take up Law; this decision too changed soon and he chose to study Chartered Accountancy but when Rabindranath Tagore admonished him, he made up his mind to study Intensive Agriculture instead. But at last he decided to study Music to which he had dedicated his heart.

    Dilip Kumar stayed in England from 1919 to June 1921. During this period he spent eighteen months at Cambridge and the rest at London, Paris, Switzerland, Holland etc. Apart from music, he learnt to speak French, Italian and German. In 1920 he read Romain Rolland’s famous novel Jean Christophe and was so fascinated that he wrote to Rolland seeking an interview. Rolland invited him to the Swiss village Schoeneck where he was staying. Dilip Kumar met him six times and interviewed him (a detailed record of the conversations is available in Dilip Kumar’s books Among the Great and Tirthankar [in Bengali]) It was Rolland who persuaded Dilip Kumar to take up music as a career and also initiated him into the cult of internationalism. In 1922 Dilip Kumar was invited to the International League of Woman for Peace and Freedom at Lugano. He delivered a lecture on Indian Classical Music which was extremely well-received and was translated into French by Madeleine Rolland (Romain’s sister); later O.C.Ganguly (the famous art critic) published his lecture in his magazine Rupam. During his stay at Lugano, Dilip Kumar was introduced to George Duhamel, Reverend Homes, Hermann Hesse and Bertrand Russell. He also lectured at Prague where he was invited by the then President of Czekeslovaskia. He visited Venice, Budapest, Rome and other places where he preached the glory of Indian Music and Culture due to which Europe welcomed and accepted him as the ‘cultural ambassador of Hindu Music and Philosophy’.

      In April 1922 Dilip Kumar met Bertrand Russell who cast an ever-lasting influence on him. The impact of the Russellian influence was so profound that he argued several times with Sri Aurobindo regarding Russell’s philosophy. He writes about it:

     “During the first few years of my Ashram life I simply did not know what to do with my Russellian scepticism in the face of Gurudev’s deep disapproval of such an obstinate recalcitrance to spiritual experience. But this landed me in another dilemma: on the one hand I could not discard Russell whose intellectual clarity and integrity of character I profoundly admired: on the other, even when I could not fully understand Gurudev’s deeper wisdom and wider vision, I could not help but warm up to his exhortations. Unfortunately, however, the see-saw did not cease; for although there was not a vestige of doubt in my mind as to who should be followed, theoretically, it so happened that despite Gurudev’s unanswerable arguments I found myself unable, in practice, to accept, once for all, that Russell had been discredited as a guide to wisdom in general.”[7]

     Dilip Kumar aimed at preaching the rich heritage of Indian music and culture to the West which had little knowledge about the hidden treasures. Not only did he sing songs based on classical tunes but also recited and sang Sanskrit hymns to present the world of Indian metre and expression; at the same time he spoke of religion and often quoted from the Gita whose several shlokas he knew by heart. The message of Krishna was preached to the West by him in the simplest language. But as a result, Dilip Kumar ‘the singer’ became Dilip Kumar ‘the preacher’. However, the breeze of the Western culture and the glory of his own achievements made him forget his vairagya for sometime. But before long he was informed by a telegram that Pratap Chandra was on his death-bed and he desired to see his beloved grandson. Dilip Kumar left for India and reached his motherland in November 1922 but before his arrival, Pratap Chandra had breathed his last.

    Dilip Kumar established himself as a singer par excellence within a brief span of time. In December 1922 he sang at the Gaya Conference of the Indian National Congress and won the admiration of many eminent personalities. In the initial stages of his singing career, he sang mostly the songs of others and not his own compositions. He was capable of transforming a most ordinary song into an extraordinary one by adorning it with tans and alaps [expansion and improvisation of the tune]. It was he who spread the songs of Atulprasad Sen[8] in Bengal and made the songs of Nazrul Islam[9] popular. He began to give several charity concerts and the money earned was donated for noble causes.

    One day Subhash Chandra Bose asked Dilip Kumar to perform at the University Institute Hall to raise money for political prisoners. Dilip Kumar requested Sisir Kumar Bhaduri (the legendary theatre actor of Bengal) to perform as well. The latter enacted a scene from the drama Chandragupta (where Chanakya meets the beggar) written by Dwijendralal Roy in which he played Chanakya, Dilip Kumar played the blind beggar and his pupil Anilendu played the role of Atreyi. That was the first time Dilip Kumar acted on stage. (The concert also had a dance recital by Reba Roy) The concert turned out to be a great success and the ticket sales amounted to Rs.4000 (quite a princely sum in those days). As per the scene of the play, Dilip Kumar (dressed as the blind beggar) entered the scene with Atreyi singing:

                      “What haunting strains of music, hark, 

                                 come wafted on the breeze

                       From the other shore— beyond the bournless

                                 deep?—who calls to me

                       So tenderly: “O come away!

                                 here all is song and peace

                       In eternal spring, unmarred by death

                                 and dark disharmony.

                        The earth’s evergreen and gloom

                                 is banished everlastingly.


                        “Why groan beneath life’s dismal load

                                  and, grasping at shadows, cry,

                        When the Ocean of nectar chants below

                                  and the Moon of Grace on high?

                         Disown your chains, ’tis time you now

                                  returned to your home again

                         Nor blindly hug your pen, fool, by

                                  the Siren Maya beguiled.

                         Know: only the ones who have loved me shall

                                  my termless Bliss attain.

                          How can you still in exile stay

                                  in an alien world, my child?”[10]


The audience applauded with extreme enthusiasm and Dilip Kumar was requested to sing the song for a second time. Though he was praised by many, yet he was criticized as well. A number of newspapers condemned him for allowing Reba Roy to dance (as stage performances by girls from good families were considered to be a dare-devil act in those days, with the exception of the Tagore family) but that did not daunt him though he was hurt by the criticisms. He innovated his musical soirees; he included his cousins who sang well, his pupils Ambika Mazumdar and Ratneshwar Mukhopadhyay,  Anilendu (son of Amarendranath Acharya Chowdhury, the zamindar of Muktagacha); for comic songs he brought Nolini Kanta Sarkar (who would become his gurubhai after joining Sri Aurobindo Ashram) and Suhrit Roy for humorous performances. Every month he gave musical concerts twice at Rammohan Library and once Rabindranath Tagore presided over such a concert and delivered a speech to inspire him.


   In December 1922 Dilip Kumar had sung at the conference of Congress held at Gaya; in the same conference Sahana Devi and Sita Devi had sung Bande Mataram. That was the first time Sahana Devi had heard Dilip Kumar sing and later she came to know that he was the only son of Dwijendralal Roy. On that day they were introduced to each other.

     Surendranath Banerjee (not the Congress leader) was the secretary of ‘Srimati Promoda Devi Chowdhurani Music Conference’. He had arranged a musical soiree of Dilip Kumar and Sahana Devi. Dilip Kumar had become quite famous by that time and he sang a variety of songs which included khayal, thungri, ghazal, songs of Dwijendralal and Atulprasad along with those which he learnt from the gramophone but sang in his own exquisite style. On that day he rendered a khayal which made the audience spellbound. After him, Sahana Devi sang with Surendranath accompanying her on the esraaz. Her performance was followed by a famous song of Dilip Kumar which he had learnt from Suresh Mukhopadhyay alias Sachchidananda Brahmachari (one of his music Gurus). After him few dared to sing as it used to be difficult to terminate the magical atmosphere of heavenly music he created; but Sahana Devi sang Vidyapati’s Madhav, bahut minati kori toye without any fear or hesitation. Listening to this song of self-surrender, Dilip Kumar was moved to his depths; a wave of devotion arose in his heart. Since he himself was a genius he appreciated and recognized the talent of others. On the very next day he went to Sahana Devi’s house to meet her. Soon they became friends.

      Sahana Devi (1897-1990) had devoted her heart, mind and soul to music (like Dilip Kumar) but the family where she was married to least appreciated her talents due to which her life became bereft of any happiness which resulted in divorce from her husband. At such point of time Dilip Kumar entered into her life and since he possessed the God-gifted ability to spread love and laughter with extreme ease, within no time he was able to bring a wave of new bliss in Sahana Devi’s life as well. He took her to his musical soirees where he made her sing. He also taught her several compositions of his own and a later age, he proclaimed: “Only Sahana can sing my songs.” Once at the University Institute Hall, Sahana Devi had sung Dwijendralal’s ‘How can we worship Thee in an image /When all the world’s Thine image Divine?’ which Dilip Kumar had taught her. After her performance Dilip Kumar got up and announced to the audience: “I’ll never sing this song again!” Once he taught her the song Mohiya samliyaki dekh (a song on Holi based on Khafi-Sindhu raga) which Chandan Chaube [the famous classical singer] had taught him at Mathura. Later, on Dilip Kumar’s request Sahana Devi sang the same song in front of Chandan Chaube.

     In her reminiscences titled Smritir Kheya, Sahana Devi writes that her outlook towards life had changed completely and that she began to look at it from a different perspective only after the arrival of Dilip Kumar in her life; many things which had remained invisible appeared before her eyes and she discovered the deeper aspects of life and felt the urge of opening and manifesting herself.

     Annadashankar Roy, the legendary litterateur of Bengal has written about Dilip Kumar: “Often I felt that Dilip Kumar should have married Sahana Devi. But I do not know why Sahana Devi left Shantiniketan and left for Pondicherry. There she took the refuge of the Mother…there she met her old companion of music Dilip Kumar. Both could sing and they used to sing…Once Dilip Kumar had told me: ‘I love Sahana’…I don’t remember what else he had said…but I feel that a deep relationship of love existed between them. It was platonic love.”

     As discussed earlier Dilip Kumar was not only a talented artist but was also an admirer of talent as well. Whenever he heard of any musical talent he rushed to meet him/her. He travelled all over India ‘scouring our land for musicians of note’ from whom he learnt a great deal, including the devotional songs which were later to become the ‘staple’ of his musical life. He has written about his experiences of meeting numerous musicians and singers in his book in Bengali titled Brahmyaman [the Rovering Minstrel]. Meanwhile Rabindranath invited him to teach music at Shantiniketan but Dilip Kumar declined the offer. Pandit Madan Mohan Malavviya too invited him to accept the ‘Chair of Music’ at Benaras Hindu University which he declined as well.

    In 1923 Dilip Kumar was introduced to Ronald Nixon by Dhurjati Prasad Mukherjee at Atulprasad Sen’s house in Lucknow. (Ronald Nixon would later be known as Krishnaprem.) Within no time Dilip Kumar and Ronald Nixon became close friends and it was the latter who introduced Dilip Kumar to Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita. At that time Dilip Kumar was experiencing that his old vairagya was returning. Before Essays on the Gita, he had read Sri Aurobindo’s Uttarpara Speech and Streer Patra [Sri Aurobindo’s letters to his wife] but Essays on the Gita gave him the light and pabulum of spiritual aspiration that he was seeking. Eventually he read Sri Aurobindo’s The Ideal of Human Unity, Future Poetry, The Psychology of Social Development, Synthesis of Yoga etc. and observed that Sri Aurobindo had answered most of the queries that had arisen in his heart. He wrote to Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry seeking an interview. And he was replied in the affirmative.

     Dilip Kumar met Sri Aurobindo for the first time on 24 January 1924 and interviewed the Seer-Poet on that day and on the following day as well. Seeing Sri Aurobindo, Dilip Kumar realized that no one but Sri Aurobindo can be his Guru. Dilip Kumar discussed about Yoga at length with Sri Aurobindo and the latter threw much light on his Integral Yoga during the course of their conversations. Sri Aurobindo told him: “…the yoga that I have been pursuing of late – whose aim is the entire and radical transformation of the stuff and fabric of our consciousness and being, including our physical nature – is a very arduous one, fraught with grave perils at every step.”[11]

     He added: “…I want to invoke here on earth the light of a higher world, to manifest a new power which will continue to exist as a new influence in the physical world and will be a direct manifestation of the Divine in our entire being and daily life.”[12] And: “My aim is not to disown life but to transmute it through the alchemy of the light of the Spirit.”[13]

    He also explained: “…there must be a transmutation of the very substance of our human nature. It is only then that the rhythm and mode of its self-expression can change when the lead will have been taken by the psychic self in us. When this self of ours comes to the forefront, it will express in the truest way the authentic movements of the deeper emotions which are of the psychic.”

    When Dilip Kumar asked Sri Aurobindo whether he could be initiated into the Integral Yoga or not, the latter told him to wait for the right time to come as Dilip Kumar’s was still a mental seeking. With a heavy heart Dilip Kumar left Pondicherry for Pune where he met Mahatma Gandhi at a hospital where the latter was convalescing. Dilip Kumar discussed art, asceticism and music with him and returned to Calcutta.

    Dilip Kumar the artist and singer who had gone to Pondicherry returned as a different personality—a vairagi whose dormant desire of having the darshan of Krishna had been aroused. He sought Light within and without but in vain. In all attainments he looked for the greatest attainment of All which would peace to his aflame soul. An accurate description of his mental condition will be obtained in the following lines of Savitri:  


                        “A foundling of the gods she wanders here

                          Like a child-soul left near the Gates of Hell

                          Fumbling through fog in search of paradise…

                          Brief are her snatches of felicity;

                          She cherishes sorrow as her deepest call.

                          A wanderer on forlorn despairing routes…

                          Hunting for pleasure in the heart of pain.”


   Towards the end of 1924, Dilip Kumar wrote to Sri Aurobindo asking his advice regarding marriage. Through Suresh Chakravorty, Sri Aurobindo replied: “In your own case, everything depends on your ideal. If it is to lead the ordinary life of vital and physical enjoyments, you can choose your mate anywhere you like. If it is a nobler ideal like that of art or music or service to your country, the seeking for a life-companion must be determined not by desire, but by something higher and the woman must have something in her attuned to the psychic part of your being. If your ideal is spiritual life you must think fifty times before you marry…You are given here the general principles only. From their complexity you can easily imagine how difficult it is to give a clear-cut answer. With these data before you, you must decide for yourself.”

      Dilip Kumar wrote to Romain Rolland about Sri Aurobindo who replied from Switzerland in a letter dated 1 October 1924: “I know as yet too little of Sri Aurobindo, but from what little I know about him I am persuaded that there is in him one of the highest spiritual forces in the world.”[14]


      In 1925 a record of two songs of Dilip Kumar was released on the gramophone; one side contained his rendering of Dwijendralal’s Chilo boshi se kusum kanane and the other side contained Girish Chandra Ghose’s Ranga jaba ke dilo tor paye mutho mutho. In that very year his first book Brahmyomaner Dinopanjika [the Diary of a Rovering Minstrel; it was renamed Brahmyoman in its second edition] was published with a preface written by Promotho Chowdhury, the renowned writer of Bengal, better known as ‘Birbal’. In the next few years he wrote a number of intellectual novels such as Moner Parash [the Touch of Heart], Ranger Parash [the Touch of Colours], Dudhara [Two Ways], Dola [Oscillation], Tarango rodhibe ke[Who will stop the waves] etc. which earned the whole-hearted praise of Rabindranath Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chatterji. At that point of time, his literary works were based on the philosophy of Art for Art’s sake.  

    But there was no respite in the violent fire of vairagya that was burning in Dilip Kumar’s heart. Among his friends there was no one to whom he could open his heart. Subhash Bose was behind bars, Dhurjati Prasad was an atheist and Satyendranath Bose was absolutely silent. The only person who truly understood him was Krishnaprem but he resided in Lucknow. So whom to approach?

    In 1926 Dilip Kumar heard Swami Abhedananda [1866-1939] speak at a discourse; he met the Swami and asked him to give initiation which the latter consented. But then Nolini Kanta Sarkar took Dilip Kumar to Yogi Barodacharan Mazumdar of Lalgola who told Dilip Kumar not to accept anyone as his Guru except Sri Aurobindo. When Dilip Kumar told Barodacharan that Sri Aurobindo had refused to accept him, the latter replied: “No, he hasn’t.” He added that Sri Aurobindo had appeared before him and had told him so. When he saw that Dilip Kumar was not believing him, he said: “As you disbelieve my assurance, I will give you a proof. Have you got a chronic pain in your right abdomen?” Dilip Kumar replied that it was hernia; then Barodacharan told Dilip Kumar that Sri Aurobindo had said that once Dilip Kumar got his hernia operated he would be called to Pondicherry. Barodacharan also asked Dilip Kumar to remain firm in his aspiration to be Sri Aurobindo’s disciple as there was none ‘beneath the Himalayas’ who was greater than Sri Aurobindo.

    In January 1927 Dilip Kumar received an invitation from U.S.A. to make musical records in New York. Subhash Bose, who was freed from prison was aware of Dilip Kumar’s vairagya and he was afraid lest Dilip Kumar settled at Pondicherry; therefore to bring him back on the material plane, he organized a felicitation ceremony for Dilip Kumar at University Institute Hall where Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, the noted novelist presided and Rabindranath Tagore came as the chief-guest. Promotho Chowdhury was also participated in the event and a booklet containing laudatory poems on Dilip Kumar was published and distributed by Subhash Bose and the other friends of Dilip Kumar.

    In March 1927 Dilip Kumar reached Nice (in France) where he gave several musical concerts and spoke about Indian Music in French. Though he won the admiration of the audience but he felt that the applause was unable to fulfill the voidness in his heart. During his stay at Nice, he met Madame Emma Calve and Paul Richard [the Mother’s ex-husband]. About Sri Aurobindo Richard told Dilip Kumar: “…the only man to whom I have bowed down in my life as my superior…and the only seer who has truly fortified my faith in a Divine Purpose working through life transforming it secretly like a leaven as it were, and bypassing those who will not change themselves.”[15] He added: “I can assure you…that if Sri Aurobindo came out of his seclusion today he would overtop all others as a king of kings…Sri Aurobindo would have risen to the top in any walk of life—as a philosopher, poet, statesman or leader of thought. But he spurned these lures—why? Only because his vocation was to be an instrument of God missioned to fulfill a human destiny which no other master-builder could have achieved.”[16] He concluded: “I have not met his peer in the whole world. To me he is the Lord Shiva incarnate.”[17]

     From Nice Dilip Kumar travelled to Cornwall where he met Bertrand Russell on 26, 27 and 28 July and took three interviews of his. Russell told him that he would be leaving for U.S.A. in September so Dilip Kumar too booked a first class berth in the same ship but he felt that he was not receiving any peace. So he cancelled his trip to the United States and after delivering lectures at London and Edinburgh, he returned to India.

    After a few days Dhurjati Prasad informed Dilip Kumar that Ronald Nixon had been initiated by Monica Devi, the wife of Jnanendranath Chakravorty (the Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University) and he had been renamed as ‘Krishnaprem’. Another friend of his Dr. Joygopal Mukherji informed Dilip Kumar that Krishnaprem had resigned from his job as a professor of English at Lucknow University and had gone to Almora with Monica Devi where he lived on the alms he got from begging.

    Dilip Kumar meanwhile awaited eagerly the call of Sri Aurobindo. On one hand, his mind yearned to become a sadhak but on the other hand, the fear of renouncing the world totally disturbed him. He went to Pondicherry in August 1928 to meet Sri Aurobindo but was informed that he had gone into complete seclusion. He met the Mother for the first time and immediately accepted her as his Guru along with Sri Aurobindo (“though, of course, there would be no question of surrendering my will to hers”,[18] writes Dilip Kumar). He asked the Mother whether she could possibly give him a trial to convince him about the reality of her Yogic Force. The Mother smiled and consented and asked him the time when he retired for the night. When Dilip Kumar told that it was at nine, she told him to meditate at that hour in his room. The day was 16 August; at 9 o’clock when Dilip Kumar sat down to meditate, he had the following experience which he has described in his own words:

       “Suddenly I found my body stiffening and I started perspiring profusely; then—to complete my discomfiture –my heart beat so fast that I got scared. What is all this? Suddenly I remembered and took the Mother’s name. At once the palpitation ceased. But I was wet all over with perspiration, and the tension in my body increased till my muscles became so stiff that I felt a positive pain.”[19]

      When Dilip Kumar met the Mother on the following day, he asked her why she gave him such “meaningless pain” instead of peace and joy. The Mother replied: “But I didn’t want to cause you pain at all. Only, you were resisting, so my Force could not give you the peace and joy which you would have felt if you had not opposed it tooth and nail, with all the weapons of your wise scepticism and assured ignorance. One must have trust in the Divine.”[20]

     A few months later Dilip Kumar was invited to preside over a musical conference to be held at Trivandrum in December which he accepted. In November, he went to Benaras where on the 5th, he met Gopinath Kabiraj[21] who advised him to stay in seclusion for a few days as that would enable him to be receptive to the shakti of the Guru; he also assured Dilip Kumar that his vairagya indicated a good sign. When Atulprasad Sen learnt that Dilip Kumar was in Benaras, he brought the latter to his house at Lucknow by force. His friends Pahari Sanyal (the actor), Dhurjati Prasad, Nirmal Kumar Siddhant, Radhakumud, Rabindralal and Hemendralal Roy (his cousins) and Ambika Mazumdar (his pupil) came to meet him. Due to the constant company of his pals, his vairagya grew a bit dull but then he received a letter from Krishnaprem who informed him about the attainment of peace by renouncing everything for his Lord.

    On the night of 14 November Dilip Kumar was having a talk with Joygopal regarding his inner conflicts and detachment when the latter advised him to go straight to Pondicherry and take Sri Aurobindo’s refuge. Dilip Kumar replied that though he had accepted Sri Aurobindo as his Guru but since he had not received anything tangible from Sri Aurobindo, hence he was reluctant to give up everything for nothing. Joygopal rebuked him and said: “If you start by bargaining with the Lord—then you shall never arrive.” He reminded Dilip Kumar that those who give up everything for the Lord don’t analyze what they had gained or lost. Joygopal’s words pierced Dilip Kumar like an arrow and he spent a sleepless night. At dawn when he sat down to meditate, he experienced that ‘something’ opened in his heart; a strange force overwhelmed him and he made up his mind to make the plunge. He left Joygopal’s house immediately and went to Lucknow Railway Station from where he sent a telegram to Sri Aurobindo: “I surrender unconditionally to you all I have and am. You must accept me. Wire yes to my friend Justice K.C.Sen, Bombay.” He wrote a letter thanking Joygopal for showing him the Path; he also wrote to Dhurjati Prasad and Nolini Kanta Sarkar informing them about his decision to join Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

     From Lucknow Dilip Kumar went to Mumbai where he stayed at Justice Khittish Chandra Sen’s[22] house and awaited Sri Aurobindo’s reply. A few days later the much-awaited and much-craved reply came from Sri Aurobindo: “Welcome…Blessings…Sri Aurobindo.” Dilip Kumar left Mumbai and reached Pondicherry on 22 November. And on that very day another seeker of Yogic knowledge and light came to Pondicherry to become Sri Aurobindo’s disciple; she was Sahana Devi. Later the Mother informed Dilip Kumar that a psychic opening had occurred in him on 22 November.

    Two days later along with other devotees and sadhaks, Dilip Kumar had the darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother about which he writes:

       “…I felt that wherever I looked dripped bliss—sheer, unqualified, flawless bliss and what amazed me was that I could not trace its genesis in any shape or form. And once it was so intense and unwaning, this all-pervasive bliss, that I could not help feeling a little intrigued in the midst of my causeless rapture…A curious question formulated itself instantly..: “What is it that a human being loves most in life?” The answer burgeoned at once, equally from nowhere, voiced by my heart in ecstasy: “Air and light”…the experience was repeated several times in my Ashram life though it did not last as long as it did when it possessed me for the first time: for full two days and a half.”[23]

    Thus at the age of thirty-one years and ten months, Dilip Kumar the artist was initiated into the Integral Yoga which resulted in the birth of Dilip Kumar, the Yogi. The desire of his heart was fulfilled and he attained the peace he was craving for.

    The disciple prayed to his Guru (in the words of Savitri):


               “Thy peace, O Lord, a boon within to keep,

                 Amid the roar and ruin of wild Time

                 For the magnificent soul of man on earth.

                 Thy calm, O Lord, that bears thy hands of joy…

              Thy oneness, Lord, in many approaching hearts.”


The disciple craved:


              “Thy embrace which rends the living knot of pain,

                Thy joy, O Lord, in which all creations breathe,

                Thy magic flowing waters of deep love,

                Thy sweetness give to me for earth and men.”


The Guru replied:


               “O beautiful body of the incarnate Word,

                 Thy thoughts are mine, I have spoken with thy voice.

                 My will is thine, what thou hast chosen I choose…

                 I lay my hands upon thy soul of flame,

                 I lay my hands upon thy heart of love,

                 I yoke thee to my power of work in Time.”




                “Because thou hast obeyed my timeless will,

                  Because thou hast chosen to share earth’s struggle and fate

                  And leaned in pity over earth-bound men

                  And turned aside to help and yearned to save,

                  I bind by thy heart’s passion thy heart to mine

                  And lay my splendid yoke upon thy soul.”        




 When Dilip Kumar joined the Ashram, the number of Ashramites was not more than eighty. Soon after his arrival he got a direct proof of the Mother’s infinite affection; he was given a sea-facing apartment and as soon as he settled down, he saw that a sadhak came to his room and with the help of a pulley, installed a moveable bulb in his room. On being asked by Dilip Kumar, the sadhak replied that the Mother had said that since Dilip Kumar was fond of reading, therefore he would find this arrangement of the moveable bulb suitable. Dilip Kumar was deeply touched and overwhelmed by her deep concern for him.

    Another piece of information: since ‘all life is yoga’, hence everyone in the Ashram had to do some work but only Suresh Chakravorty and Dilip Kumar were exempted from doing so.

    Despite joining the Ashram, Dilip Kumar did not discontinue his creative activities, on the contrary, his creativity flourished by the Grace of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The Mother permitted him to arrange musical soirees at Trésor House (where he stayed) and she herself was fond of the European songs he sang.

    On 15 August 1929 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Dilip Kumar and Sahana Devi sang in front of Sri Aurobindo for the first time. Sahana Devi sang Dwijendralal’s How can we worship Thee in an image but she felt that her throat had become dry while singing and her voice too had lost its flexibility. Dilip Kumar sang after her but even his performance was not up to-the-mark. Then they sang a duet Chakar Rakhoji (the famous bhajan by Mirabai, meaning ‘Make me Thy servant’). After their performance Sahana Devi went to the Mother and asked her why they had become nervous while singing. The Mother replied: “You are forgetting in whose presence you were singing. It was your vital being that was nervous in his presence.”

    In 1932 Sahana Devi made a dance recital based on Rabindranath Tagore’s song “In the steps of the dance” which Dilip Kumar sang. Then, the Mother asked Sahana Devi to prepare a dance recital based on Radha’s Prayer (which the Mother had written) and Dilip Kumar was told to compose the lyrics and music.


   Every month Dilip Kumar organized special musical soirees exclusively for the Mother and on every Saturday, he sang at Trésor House and his soirees (which lasted till 10 p.m.) were attended by a number of Ashramites. After Nishikanto’s arrival, the soirees became even more popular. Nishikanto (apart from conducting poetical experiments with Dilip Kumar and creating his own compositions in verse which earned him special praise from Sri Aurobindo who commented on him “Nishikanto writes from a purely vital inspiration” and that he was a “Brahmaputra of Inspiration”) wrote songs on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in Bengali which Dilip Kumar used to sing after setting tune to them. Nirodbaran has said that that many sadhaks and sadhikas had experienced the presence of Gods and Goddesses during Dilip Kumar’s performance. Dilip Kumar was quite meticulous about his soirees and tried to make them as flawless as possible; he was aware of the importance of accompanying music so he procured a tambura and a pakwaaz (through Prithwi Singh Nahar). It won’t be an exaggeration to claim that Dilip Kumar, Sahana Devi, Nishikanto and Bhismadev Chattopadhyay (though he arrived in the 1940s) were the pillars of the Ashram Music.


   During the initial stages of his sadhana at the time of meditation, Dilip Kumar often felt a pressure on his head which got dissolved into a kind of concentration in which his mental restlessness and discord were resolved into a delightful silence which deepened within him (and gave rise to peace sometimes) and occasionally, he experienced an ascent of his I-ness till it became thin and indistinct. In a letter dated 13 October 1930, Sri Aurobindo explained to him about it:

     “This is a fundamental experience of the Yoga. It is the free ascent of the consciousness to join the Divine. When, liberated from its ordinary identification with the body, it rises upward to have experience of the higher planes, to link itself with the psychic or the true being or to join the Divine Consciousness, then there is this experience of ascension and of speeding or expanding through space. The joy you feel is a sign of this last movement,—rising to join the Divine; the passivity and expectancy of a descent are signs of the openness to the Divine that is its result; there is also the sense of this openness, and emptiness of the ordinary contents of the consciousness, a wideness not limited by the narrow prison of the physical personality. There is too, usually or very often, a massive immobility of the body which corresponds to the silence that comes on the mind when it is released from itself—the Silence that is the foundation of spiritual experience. What you have felt (the former experiences were probably preparatory touches) is indeed the beginning of this foundation—a consciousness free, wide, empty at will, able to rise into the supraphysical planes, open to the descent of whatever the Mother will pour into it.”[24]

    During meditation, Dilip Kumar used to sink into an ‘ocean of stillness in which peace reigned’ while he was absolutely conscious though apparently asleep. Sri Aurobindo explained the significance of this experience on 2 June 1931:

    “It was not half sleep or quarter sleep or even sixteenth part sleep that you had; it was the going inside of the consciousness, which in that state remains conscious but shut to outer things and open only to inner experience. You must distinguish clearly between these two quite different states, one is nidrā, the other the beginning, at least of samādhi, (not nirvikalpa, of course). This drawing inside is necessary because the active mind of the human being is at first too much turned to outer things; it has to go inside altogether in order to live in the inner being (inner mind, inner vital, inner physical, psychic). But with training one can remain outwardly conscious and live in the inner being and has at will the indrawn or the outpoured experience; you will then have the same experience of dense immobility and the inpouring of a greater and purer consciousness in the waking state as in what you erroneously call sleep.”[25]

    In September 1931, Dilip Kumar experienced that while meditating he seemed to go downwards and there was ‘stillness’, ‘pleasant numbness’ and ‘stiffness’ in his body. He also felt waves surging up towards his head which almost made him unconscious. Sri Aurobindo explained in a letter dated 4 September:

     “I have said already that your experience was, in essence, the piercing of the veil between the outer consciousness and the inner being. This is one of the crucial movements in Yoga. For Yoga means union with the Divine, but it also means awakening first to your inner self and then to your higher self, —a movement inward and a movement upward. It is, in fact, only through the awakening and coming to the front of the inner being that you can get into union with the Divine. The outer physical man is only an instrumental personality and by himself he cannot arrive at this union,—he can only get occasional touches, religious feelings, imperfect intimations. And even these come not from the outer consciousness but from what is within us.

    In your former experiences the inner being had come to the front and for the time being impressed its own normal motions on the outer consciousness to which they are unusual and abnormal. But in this meditation what you did was,—for the first time, I believe—to draw back from the outer consciousness, to go inside into the inner planes, enter the world of your inner self and live for a while in the hidden parts of your being. That which you were then was not this outer man, but the inner Dilip, the Yogin, the bhakta. When that plunge has once been taken, you are marked for the Yogic, the spiritual life and nothing can efface the seal that has been put upon you.

      All is there in your description of this complex experience—all the signs of this first plunge. First, the sense of going a little deep down which was your feeling of the movement towards the inner depths; then, the stillness and pleasant numbness and the stiffness of the limbs. This was the sign of the consciousness retiring from the body inwards under the pressure of a force from above,—that pressure stabilising the body into an immobile support of the inner life, in a kind of strong and still spontaneous āsana. Next, the feeling of waves surging up, mounting to the head, almost, as you say, making you unconscious. This was the ascending of the lower consciousness in the ādhāra to meet the greater consciousness above. It is a movement analogous to that on which so much stress is laid in the Tantrik process, the awakening of the Kundalini, the Energy coiled up and latent in the body and its mounting through the spinal cord and the centres (chakras) and the Brahmarandhra to meet the Divine above…The movement of ascension has different results: it may liberate the consciousness so that one feels no longer in the body, but above it or else spread in wideness with the body either almost non-existent or only a point in one’s free expanse; it may enable the being or some part of the being to go out from the body and move elsewhere, and this action is usually accompanied by some kind of partial samādhi or else a complete trance; or it may result in empowering the consciousness, no longer limited by the body and habits of the external nature, to go within, to enter the inner mental depths, the inner vital, the inner (subtle) physical, the psychic, to become conscious of its inmost physical self or its inner mental, vital and subtle physical being and, it may be, to move and live in the domains, the planes, the worlds that correspond to these parts of the nature. This is what happened in your case. It is the repeated and constant ascent of the lower consciousness (not always translated by this signs) that enables the mind, the vital, the physical to come into touch with the higher planes up to the supramental and get impregnated with their light and power and influence. And it is the repeated and constant descent of the Divine Consciousness and its Force that is the means for the transformation of the whole being and the whole nature.

   …This is the importance of your experience. It shows that all the processes and movements necessary to the Yoga are within your reach and not as you think in your outer mind difficult or impossible. It shows that the inner self in you is already a Yogin and bhakta and since that is so and it has shown itself, the spiritual turn of your outer life too is predestined and inevitable. It shows also that you have already a deep inner life, Yogic and spiritual, which is veiled only because of the strong outward turn your education and past activities have given to your thinking mind and lower vital parts. It is precisely to correct this outward orientation and take away the veil that you have to practise the Yoga. And that it will be done is sure…”[26]

    Once Dilip Kumar had a vision that a luminous serpent came and bit him on the crown of his head due to which he felt electrified and ‘thrills of rapture’ flowed down in his body; he stayed in a calm ocean of bliss for a long time and he observed that though his body was asleep, he himself was half-conscious. Sri Aurobindo explained the significance of this vision to him in a letter dated 1 November 1932:

     “As for the dream of the cobra, it could be taken as an answer to your own plaints against the Divine being grim and solemn and refusing to play with your remark that if you could have the faith that the troubles were a part of the Divine plan leading you through them to the Divine, you would be more at ease. The answer of the symbolic experience was that the Divine can play if you know how to play with him—and bear his play on your shoulders; the cobras and the bite indicate that what seems to you in the vital  painful and dangerous may be the very means of bringing you the ecstasy of the Divine Presence.

     Less generally the cobras are the forces of the evolution, the evolution towards the Divine. Their taking the place of the legs means that their action here takes place in the physical or material consciousness, in the evolution of the external mind, vital, physical towards the experience of the Divine and of the Divine Nature. The bite of the cobras (Shiva’s cobras!) does not kill, or it only kills the “old Adam” in the being; their bite brings the ecstasy of the presence of the Divine—that which you felt coming upon your head as trance waves. It is this trance ecstasy that has descended upon you each time you went inside or were even on the point of going inside in meditation. It is the universal experience of sadhaks that a power or consciousness or Ananda like this first comes from above—or around—and presses on or surrounds the head, then it pierces the skull as it were and fills first the brain and forehead, then the whole head and descends occupying each centre till the whole system is full and replete…”

     And Sri Aurobindo added: “I repeat what I have said before (though your physical mind does not yet believe) that these experiences show at once that your inner being is a Yogi capable of trance, ecstasy, intense bhakti, fully aware of Yoga and Yogic consciousness, and showing himself the very moment you get inside yourself, even as the outer man is very much the other way round, modernised, externalised, vigorously outward-vital (for the Yoga is inward-vital and psychic) and knowing nothing of Yoga or the world of inner experience. I could see at once when I saw you that there was this inner Yogi and your former experiences here were quite convincing to anyone who knows anything at all about these things.”[27]  


     Though Dilip Kumar had published his poetry before joining the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, yet he was never quite proud of them and even Rabindranath Tagore who inspired him in whatever he did never uttered a word of encouragement about his poetry. After Dilip Kumar joined the Ashram, gradually he blossomed into a poet due to the Force poured on him by Sri Aurobindo who also taught him, through his letters, the movements of rhythm, metre, modulation and precise expression which enabled Dilip Kumar to be regarded as one of the authorities in Bengali metre. Sri Aurobindo also tutored him in English prosody, as a result of which Dilip Kumar began to produce remarkable pieces of poetry. In April 1934 Dilip Kumar wrote his first poem in English:


                ‘The sorrow of Autumn woos the absent Spring;

                  Chill winter hushes the cuckoo’s vibrant grove;

                  To the Lord of vernal sweetness now I sing:

                 “Let streams of friendship swell to seas of love.’”


Sri Aurobindo approved it and asked him to change the line ‘Chill winter hushes’ to ‘Cold winter chills’ or ‘Winter has hushed’.

     In due course of time, Dilip Kumar blossomed into a poet (he also began to teach poetical metres to Nirodbaran, Jyotirmoyee and a few others and also penned a book on metres titled Chhandasiki) par excellence whose works were extremely appreciated by Sri Aurobindo who wrote numerous letters to convey his praise for the former. When Dilip Kumar translated a few novelettes of Sarat Chandra Chatterji (Deliverance and Mothers and Sons) and numerous other poems into English and Bengali, Sri Aurobindo hailed him as a ‘unique translator.’

     A unique relationship existed between Dilip Kumar and Sri Aurobindo. Though like the other sadhaks Dilip Kumar was unable to have a direct contact with his Guru (which hurt him deeply) yet a profound relationship of extreme intimacy had developed between them through their epistolary exchanges. Between 1929-50, Dilip Kumar had penned almost four thousand letters to his Guru. Their letters were the mirror of their relationship. Yoga, philosophy, politics, literature, criticisms of art, humanism, materialism, doubts, humour, personal problems, complaints, spiritual experiences, explanation of dreams or visions—one would find every aspect of life (material or spiritual) in those letters. Dilip Kumar, through his letters, asked Sri Aurobindo innumerable questions which he patiently answered and gave peace to the turbulent mind of his disciple. Sri Aurobindo described their relationship as that “which declares itself constantly through many lives. It is a feeling which is never mistaken and gives impression of the one not only close to one but part of one’s existence. The relation that is so indicated always turns out to be that of those who have been together in the past and were predestined to join again.” How right was Amal Kiran when he said: “It is the intimacy implying not only the unhindered approach of the disciple but also the master’s own enfolding movements, that sets the pattern, mixes the colours and constitutes the highlights of the picture.” If one reads the correspondence between Sri Aurobindo and Dilip Kumar, one would marvel at the patience the Guru had for his dear disciple. Whenever Dilip Kumar got angry or hurt due to some reason (no matter how trivial), Sri Aurobindo would write to him to cool his temper down.

     Sometimes in a fit of rage, Dilip Kumar would pack up his luggage and get ready to leave the Ashram; then Sri Aurobindo would write to pacify him. For instance, on 10 May 1932 we find Sri Aurobindo writing to Dilip Kumar the following letter:

     “It is quite impossible for me to dismiss you or to consent to your going away like this from us. If the idea of this kind of separation is possible to you, for us it is inconceivable that our close relation should end like this. I had thought that the love and affection the Mother and I bear to you had been made evident by us. But if you say that you cannot believe in it or cannot accept it with the limitations on its outward manifestation that not our choice but inexorable necessity imposes on us for a time, I do not know how to convince you. I could not believe that you could really find it in your heart to go or take such a step when it came to the point. As it is, I can only appeal to you not to allow yourself to be swept away by this attack, to remain faithful even in suffering to your soul that brought you here and to believe in our love that can never waver.”[28]

      And again on 16 May 1933: “You are not to leave Pondicherry by this morning’s train or at all. You have to come and see the Mother at 9.30 and speak to her heart to heart. Both the Mother and myself have lavished much love and care on you and you are certainly not going to make a return like this— it is impossible. Do not believe all you hear or allow yourself to be driven off your balance by falsehoods of the kind that have been retailed to you. You do not belong to yourself and have not the right to do what you propose to do: you belong to the Divine and to myself and the Mother. I have cherished you like a friend and a son and have poured on you my force to develop your powers—until the time should come for you to make an equal development in the Yoga. I claim the right to keep you as our own here with us. Throw away this despair—rise above the provocations of others—turn back to the Mother.”[29]

     Sometimes Dilip Kumar doubted that he was misfit for the Integral Yoga, hence, in those moments of utter despair he wrote to Sri Aurobindo which prompted him to reply: “I made no mistake at all. Your inner being is quite capable of Yoga and in your experiences there were plenty of proofs of it. It is your outer being that is making all the trouble and putting up a big fight against the inner destiny. But that happens to many people who turn out very good Yogis in the end. So that is no ground whatever for your not staying here. What I have written before was written on the basis of what I saw and still see. If I thought there was no chance for you I would tell you so.”[30]

     And time and again Sri Aurobindo had to write to Dilip Kumar to convince him of the unfaltering love he and the Mother had for the latter:

    “I must say that this idea which constantly recurs to you that I have no feeling of love or affection for you, only commiseration or an indifferent compassion is totally mistaken. It is a strong and lasting personal relation that I have felt with you ever since we met and even before and it is only that that has been the base of all the outward support, consideration, care and constant helping endeavour which I have always extended towards you and which could not possibly have arisen from any tepid impersonal feeling. On my side that relation is not likely to change ever.”[31]

     And again: “…even before I met you for the first time, I knew of you and felt at once the contact of one with whom I had that relation which declares itself constantly through many lives and followed your career (all that I could hear about it) with a close sympathy and interest. It is a feeling which is never mistaken and gives the impression of one not only close to one but part of one’s existence…The relation that is so indicated always turns out to be that of those who have been together in the past and were predestined to join again (though the past circumstances may not be known) drawn together by old ties. It was the same inward recognition in you (apart even from the deepest spiritual connection) that brought you.”[32]

     And on another occasion, Sri Aurobindo wrote to him (3 June 1937): “I have not the slightest idea of disowning you or asking you to go elsewhere or giving you up or asking you to abandon the Yoga or this Yoga. It is not that I insist on your finding the Divine through me and no one else or by this way only and no other; I want you to arrive and would be glad to see you do it by whichever way or with whatever help. But even if you followed another way, your place with me would remain, inwardly, physically and in every way. Even if you walked off to the Himalayas to sit in seclusion till you got the thing as I think you sometimes wanted to do, your place would remain waiting for you here. I want you to understand that clearly and not imagine all sorts of things about cutting off or displeasure or abandonment and the rest of it. Nothing could be farther from our minds or from our feelings for you.”[33]



     The atmosphere of the Ashram at that time was extremely solemn and most of the Ashramites were very reserved by nature with the exception of K.Amrita and Dilip Kumar. They generated humour and smile in the Ashram in their own ways; after all, were they not the disciples of the Guru who had declared: “There is laughter in the Kingdom of Heaven though there may be no marriage there” or “Sense of humour! It is the salt of existence”!

    Once an admirer of Dilip Kumar came to the Ashram. He was not keeping good health so Dilip Kumar requested Sri Aurobindo to bless him. Sri Aurobindo sent Nirodbaran to Dilip Kumar to get some information about the admirer. After providing Nirodbaran with all the details, Dilip Kumar said to him: “Tell Gurudev to pour his force on him for the development of his health and not for his literary activities.” After a few days Nirodbaran came to know that the admirer had taken up cooking with immense enthusiasm. When Sri Aurobindo was informed about it, he replied: “It seems that my force has acted at the right place!” Dilip Kumar had enjoyed his Guru’s answer a lot.

     Let’s now quote some humorous letters exchanged between Dilip Kumar and Sri Aurobindo:


(a) Dilip Kumar wrote: “Lady Indignant [meaning Sahana Devi] told me today that she had reported of late to you that she was being forced by me and Saurin to accept our invitations to tea. A word in self-defence. We never suspected that she had disliked our—shall I say—‘chivalry’. In fact when we invited her she complied after a few no’s which we had, naturally, interpreted as yes because when she came to tea, she, with her face wreathed in smiles, did not at all toy with the tea, far less with the cakes! ‘Caprice!’ I philosophised ruefully, ‘thy name is woman!’ But henceforth—now that the iron has entered my soul—she comes to tea to us at her own peril, let her beware.”    

     Sri Aurobindo replied on 10 October 1932: “Well, that is all right. If Sahana is a devotee of the great goddess “Cha-devi”[tea goddess], she will fly and throw herself on the altar without need of urging—if not, she will sit in tealess meditation invitation-free. It will be a test of her true orientation in this “to tea or not to tea” question. As for chivalry, it is more than a century ago that Burke lamented “The days of chivalry are gone!” And in the year 1932 with feminism triumphant –everywhere except in France and Bokhara—how do you propose to keep the cult going any longer?”[34]


(b) Dilip Kumar wrote: “I send you a Bengali poem of mine titled Akuti which I translated last night into English. Can you revise it? Is it good? Mediocre? Worthless? Frank opinion, please! But what about Raihana’s letter? Won’t return? You keep mum. What’s up? Bridge-building? Supramental? Wool-gathering?”

      Sri Aurobindo replied: “I shall see if I can get a few minutes for revising your English translation. But you seem to have progressed greatly in your English verse—(How so quickly? Yogic Force? Internal combustion? The subliminal self?) Raihana’s letter and drawing which have unaccountably turned up again with me. (Poltergeist? Your inadvertence? Mine?)”


(c) Dilip Kumar wrote [on 22 September 1935]: “Could not meditate of late thanks to mountains of proofs. But soon I will start like a Pahari Baba: beware!”

     Sri Aurobindo replied: “After the mountain of proof the mountain of meditation with you, the BABA, on top? All right: I am ready to face it.”[35]


(d) Dilip Kumar wrote: “To how many have you given a special permission to write to you daily? Nirod confided to me –it’s 121. Bindu says—impossible, it is only 97, out of the present 150.”

    Sri Aurobindo replied: “The number openly accepted is two by tacit understanding, two by express notice and two by self-given permission. If it had been 97 or 121 I would have translated myself to the Gobi desert or the Lake Manasa in the style of Sri Bijoy Krishna Goswami.”[36]


(e) Dilip Kumar wrote on 15 September 1935: “I will plump for asceticism then, since no other way for a speedy arrival I gather? But let it be a concrete asceticism then, since I want the concrete realisations. Quid pro quo, what? So I propose these recipes for your full approval, for mind you, no non-committal supramental permissive ambiguous sanctions for me, to be obviated or disclaimed later by your arch-favourite “Well, Dilip-was-doing-his-own-Yoga” refuge. I must renounce then things which I like:

   1) I’ll give up tea. I love it.

   2) I’ll give up cheese. I like it.

   3) I’ll bid adieu to fried potatoes, onions, butter, I adore these.

   4) I will start periodic fasts, to feel hungry, heroically, without food.

   5) Will part company with hair-oil.

   6) Will shave off my head, that is authentic asceticism…

   7) I will sleep on blankets—pillowless. But note: I tried this before already and remember that although you have kept me in reasonable comfort, I came ready to brave any austerity.

   8) Last, though not least, I will sleep without the mosquito-curtain which will be the most heroic of my ascetic stunts, as I have never yet been able to sleep without the comfy net.”

   Sri Aurobindo replied: “I am rather aghast as I stare at the detailed proposals made by you! Fastings? I don’t believe in them, though I have done them myself. You would only eat like an ogre afterwards. Shaved head! Good heavens! have you realised the consequences? I pass over the aesthetic shock to myself on the 24th November from which I might not recover—but the row that would arise from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas! You would be famous in a new way which would cast all your previous glories into the shade. And just when you are turning away from fame and all the things of the ego! No, no—too dangerous by half. Sleep without the mosquito net? That would mean no sleep which is as bad as no eating. Not only your eyes would become weak, but yourself also—and to boot gloomy, grey, and gruesome, more gruesome than the Supramental of your worst apprehensions. No and no again. As for the rest, I placed some of them before the Mother and she eyed them without favour.”[37]

   But despite the infinite love, affection, encouragement and indulgence he received from Sri Aurobindo, Dilip Kumar sometimes would become desperate and impatient for the darshan of Krishna; he would cease all his create activities and would shut the windows and doors of his apartment and put a board on the door stating ‘No Visitors’ to concentrate in his sadhana. His gurubhais remarked jokingly: ‘Vairagya once again!’ However his impatience used to be short-lived because, as Sri Aurobindo had once informed him: “Your destiny is to be a yogi but an ascetic dryness or isolated loneliness is not your spiritual destiny since it is not consonant with your swabhava which is made for joy, largeness, expansion and a comprehensive movement of the life-force.” And it was because of his life-force that he was known to everyone in the Ashram; whenever he arrived, his fellow-sadhaks remarked: “Here comes Vital!” Dr. Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyaya, the noted Sanskritist and musician who was extremely close to Dilip Kumar aptly writes about him: “He was the embodiment of life-force.” The Mother too had called him: “Magnificent Vital.”


    However it would be wrong to assume that Dilip Kumar was totally cut off from the rest of the world. He maintained contacts with his friends through letters and wrote regularly to Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chatterji, Mahatma Gandhi, Krishnaprem, Romain Rolland, George Russell,[38] Annadashankar Roy[39] and other eminent personalities. When he sent Romain Rolland a copy of Conversations with the Mother, the latter replied in a letter dated 3 June 1933:

     “I was deeply touched to receive from “The Mother” the beautiful volume of her “Conversations”, and I request you to convey to her my respectful thanks for her kind gift. Please, also, accept your share of the thanks since it is to you I owe this gift.

      I have read this book with a great admiration for this lucid and firm intelligence which commands a rare mastery of expression. You are fortunate, indeed, to be under the aegis of two great spirits whose union forms such a rich and perfect harmony.”

     Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Dilip Kumar after receiving a copy of his first book of poems titled Anami on 8 April 1934:

      “Your book ‘Anami’ I did glance through but the best use, I thought, I could make of it was to send it to Mahadeo who knows Bengali and who is, besides, a poet. I am not. But that does not prevent me from reading whatever you write…I hope you are keeping well and still singing. I often meet your pupils who sing to me and always remind me of the beautiful bhajans that you used to sing to me.”

    But at the same time Dilip Kumar’s contacts with his pals Subhash Chandra Bose, Dhurjati Prasad Mukherjee and Satyendranath Bose became faint as both Subhash Chandra and Dhurjati Prasad disapproved whole-heartedly his renunciation; only Satyendranath remained silent but kept on pacifying his other friends about Dilip Kumar.


    At Pondicherry, Dilip Kumar and Sahana Devi used to sing at the soirees at Trésor House; her heavenly voice was capable of giving perfect expression to Dilip Kumar’s songs and he himself had acknowledged it many a time. Dr. Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay writes in his biography of Dilip Kumar in Bengali: “Through music these two souls [meaning Sahana Devi and Dilip Kumar] attained the inspiration to proceed towards the same goal.” But Sri Aurobindo noticed that since they were always together in whatever they did (sadhana or music), they were unable to detach themselves from the mutual attraction that existed between them and such attraction prohibited the ascent of the consciousness. Hence, he terminated their mutual attraction so that both of them could concentrate their heart, mind and soul in sadhana only. As a result, Sahana Devi immersed herself completely in the Yoga and cut off her musical practices with Dilip Kumar which deeply hurt the latter. Though they met and talked occasionally yet a profound bud of abhiman took birth in Dilip Kumar’s heart because Sahana Devi was not only his companion in music but in sadhana as well.

    Dilip Kumar conducted regular experiments with his style of music which was unique in its own way. He had realized that it was essential to import the spirit of adventure of Western music into Indian music. He created a new variety of songs by blending Western tune with an Indian language, namely Bengali. Based on the tunes of  ‘La Marseillaise’ [the French National Song] and ‘Auclari de la lune’, he composed Bharat ratri probhatilo yatri and Chander hashi bajlo akash cheye; Akule sodai was composed based on a Russian gypsy tune; Bulbul mon was composed on the tune of a German song ‘Nachtigall, O Nachtigall’with a touch of Bhairavi raga; Theko priyo pashe was composed based on the tune of ‘Abide with Me’; German song ‘Rouchender Strom’ led to the creation of Bandhan nasho mantrobore; Tomari paane akultaane was created from ‘O Solo mio’, an Italian song , Ghum jai ma was based on the tune of a German lullaby and so on.  


    In May 1936, Dilip Kumar suddenly became desperate to have the darshan of Krishna (he was never quite interested in the Supramental as he did not understand Sri Aurobindo’s evolutionary Yoga); though Sri Aurobindo had assured him that he would surely have the darshan he craved if he followed the path of Integral Yoga but Dilip Kumar decided to plunge into the ocean of sadhana all alone without any help or guidance from his Guru. He ceased all creative activities and continued with his Tapasya. When he did not receive the much-craved darshan, he felt that his aspiration and joy of life was melting away. One day in sheer desperation, he prayed to the Lord of his heart and asked why his calls were not being answered when all his life he had sought nothing but Him. To know what happened after he prayed, let’s read the following lines which he wrote to Sri Aurobindo in a letter dated 31 May:

       “At once I felt a velvety softness and a feeling of plasticity within and the sense of friction and chafing vanished. I felt that there was no ignominy in not understanding it all, and that one was utterly impotent. I felt very humble and then there came a sense of release born of a surrender in this unconditional humility. Kanai[40] says it is a psychic experience and an important one. Please let me know if it is.”

      Sri Aurobindo replied: “It was certainly an experience and as Kanai very accurately described it an experience of great value, a psychic experience par excellence. A feeling of velvety softness within—an ineffable plasticity within is a psychic experience and can be nothing else. It means a modification of the substance of the consciousness especially in the vital-emotional part, and such a modification prolonged or repeated till it became permanent would mean a great step in what I call the psychic transformation of the being. It is just these modifications in the inner substance that make transformation possible. Further, it was a modification that made a beginning of knowledge possible—for by knowledge we mean in Yoga not thought or ideas about spiritual things but psychic understanding from within and spiritual illumination from above. Therefore the first result was this feeling “that there was no ignominy in not understanding it, that the true understanding would come only when one realised that one was completely impotent”. This was itself a beginning of true understanding; a psychic understanding, something felt within which sheds a light or brings up a spiritual truth that mere thinking would not have given, also a truth that is effective in bringing both the enlightenment and solace you needed—for what the psychic brings with it always is light and happiness, an inner understanding and relief and solace.

    Another very promising aspect of this experience is that it came as an immediate response to an appeal to the Divine. You asked for the understanding and the way out and at once Krishna showed you both—the way out was the change of the consciousness within, the plasticity which makes the Knowledge possible and also the understanding of the condition of mind and vital in which the true knowledge or power of knowledge could come. For the inner knowledge comes from within and above (whether from the Divine in the heart or from the Self above) and for it come, the pride of the mind and vital in the surface mental ideas and their insistence on them must go. One must know that one is ignorant before one can begin to know. This shows that I was not wrong in pressing for the psychic opening as the only way out. For as the psychic opens, such responses and much more also become common and the inner change also proceeds by which they are made possible.”[41]

    Dilip Kumar spent nine years (from 1928 to 1937) in the Ashram at a stretch. Gradually the desire to go out of the Ashram for a brief period arose in him. He was also hurt by the cold behaviour of his co-disciples. The mental firmness and determination with which he had come to the Ashram became faint with the passing of time. In 1937, he requested Sri Aurobindo to permit him to go Calcutta for a month or so. Initially Sri Aurobindo refused but as Dilip Kumar was his spoilt child, he consented and wrote to him (on 7 March 1937): “Very well. As the urge continues, we consent to what you propose. You can go and take this rest cure in Calcutta and Almora and you can go with our full consent and blessings and without any apprehension of the dire consequences you have been threatened with as the result of your temporary absence.”[42]

   But Dilip Kumar felt that the Mother was not pleased with his decision to go out of the Ashram and when he met her, he found sternness in the Mother’s gaze (while actually she was in a deep concentration). He informed Sri Aurobindo about it who back wrote (on 8 March) to assure him:

    “There was no sternness at all in the Mother’s gaze…You must have come with the idea put into your mind that the Mother would be full of disapproval and opposition and displeasure. But I had already intimated to you that it was not so, that you could go with our full consent and blessings. It was with her approval that I had sent you my reply…You must remember that we have shown always nothing but kindness and affection to you and anything to the contrary in your mind  has never been anything but a groundless inference or an idea raised in your mind by listening to others. You should put all this dark stuff out of your mind and go out in all serenity of spirit. Go cheerfully, enjoy the outing, do your music at Calcutta with the knowledge of our force behind you and make it an entire success, refresh your mind and nerves with the peace of the Himalayas and the company of Krishnaprem which cannot but be stimulating and put away from you all mental and nervous tension.”[43] (3, pp. 278-279)

    Much relieved, Dilip Kumar left for Calcutta in March 1937.     


    As soon as he arrived in Calcutta, Dilip Kumar immersed himself completely in the ocean of music. Since he had only two-to-three months’ permission of staying outside the Ashram, hence, he chose not to waste any time. Before joining the Ashram, he sang kheyal, thungri, ghazal but after he started practising the Yoga, he switched to devotional songs like bhajans, kirtans and stotras. It was he who had introduced bhajans in Bengal; before him, no one had sung the bhajans of Kabir, Surdas, Mirabai and Tukaram in Bengal.

   Dilip Kumar’s first gramophone record was released in 1925; the second one came out in 1935 which contained his solo song and a duet with Sahana Devi. When he arrived in Calcutta, the Gramophone Company invited him to make a record of his songs. He chose some of his new compositions of which two were written by Nishikanto and in 1937, the Gramophone Company released four records of his among which the most notable was Sei Brindabaner Lila Abhiram written and composed by Dilip Kumar himself; this song became immensely popular. The English translation of this song is as follows:


                          “Ah, those sweet halcyon days in Brindaban!

                                 I still recall, friend, over and over again!

                          When we sang and danced with Him, Light’s darling son,

                                In a heavenly ecstasy which never would wane.


                           How our Swan flitted, like a lightning Grace,

                               Charming away our citadels of pain,

                          As with the dawnburst of His loveliness

                               He promulgated the era of Beauty’s reign!


                          How he transformed our heart-aches and despond’s

                               Dark slough with His sun-laughter’s miracle bliss

                          And rent, in a twinkling, maya’s time-old bonds

                               With a magic star-born glance and angel kiss!


                          Aye, friend, all things that cabin, mar or maim,

                              All moods of self-will, bargain, compromise,

                         That leave a legacy of tears and shame

                              Vanished with His inviolate sunrise.


                          And how, unasked, He came to us and taught

                               The alphabet of love divine to wrench

                          Our destiny from earth-life’s dismal lot

                               And rain His nectar our deep thirst to quench!


                         All, all that’s green reflects His verdant love!

                              All joy is a broken shard of His delight;

                        All music is His flute’s call in the heart’s grove:

                            “Come, come on wings your soul’s last troth to plight.”


                       ’Tis not a fairy tale nor fantasy:

                             He weaned me, once for all, from the world, my Swain.

                       He called me to Him: Nay, still He calls to me—

                             Hark! there He plays His haunting flute again!


                        They scoff and laugh at all I see

                               And say: “He never came;

                       ’Tis all a myth—how can it be?

                               Krishna is but a name,


                        An irised bubble, a vapour, sweet

                               Imagination’s gleam;

                        Could earth and the ethereal meet

                              Or stars our dust redeem?”


                      Ah, they have never know, O Lord,

                           What only love could know,

                      And so they doubt, alas, thy word:

                            That thou, incognito,


                     Still com’st as rapture in pain’s night,

                           As beauty flowering

                     In yearning rocks thy troth to plight

                           To abyss of Heaven to sing.


                     But I have heard thy Flute of Grace,

                           Beloved, in my lone heart

                    And thrilled to the deep blessedness

                           Of knowing that thou art


                    My life’s one friend and stay and guide,

                           My cradle and my goal:

                    And so I smile when they deride

                           What floods with my bliss my soul.”[44]


      Dilip Kumar imported the sculpture of kheyal and thungri with which he adorned the new variety of songs he composed. In Bengali music, he brought in a new and unique style which eradicated the monotony which Bengali music was suffering from. In the world of devotional music as well, he brought about a revolution where he mixed devotional lyrics with foreign music and yet retained its indianized form. In the hearts of the music-lovers of Bengal, Dilip Kumar made a permanent place for him. His music swept the undivided Bengal away. At the same time, he introduced to the people of Bengal a lyricist par excellence Nishikanto through the songs Ei prithibir pather pore and Jwalbar mantra dile more which were set tune to and sung by Dilip Kumar.  Since he did not want his style of music to meet an early end, he began to look for an able pupil who would take his style forward successfully. And in Uma Bose, he found what he was seeking; in her voice his songs found precise expression and form. Whatever knowledge Dilip Kumar had learnt and acquired over the years of his musical career, he gave all to Uma and thus, he transformed her into his ideal pupil. The arrival of Uma resulted in the termination of the pain and sorrow he had experienced due to the cessation of his musical practices and soirees with Sahana Devi. No matter how difficult was the tune composed by Dilip Kumar, Uma could sing it with effortless ease. Though he was supposed to stay at Calcutta only for two or three months, but he stayed back because of Uma till the August Darshan. But before leaving for Pondicherry in August 1937, Dilip Kumar entrusted her to Bhismadev Chattopadhyay to give her lessons in pure classical music.

     After his visit to Calcutta, Dilip Kumar decided to organize charity concerts and donate the money obtained from the concerts to the Ashram. Sri Aurobindo gave his consent and Dilip Kumar came back to Calcutta in 1938. His concerts were hugely successful and the records of his songs released by the Gramophone Company too became quite popular. His very popular songs include Tomari bhalobasha, Chander alo, Tomar andhar nishai andhar pohabe, Ogo dio na, Tumi amaye korle grohon, Tomosha jokhon cheye ashe, Ghum jayi ma, Ami cheyechi ami niyechi sharan tomari, Jodi diyecho diyecho diyecho bondhua, Kanakojyoti kaleborodhari (on Sri Aurobindo), He kanokojjalo sabita boroni (on the Mother written by Nolinikanta Sarkar), Puspo uchal gahe to name a few. From the world of Bengali music he came to the sky of Hindustani bhajans where he became a bright star. His devotional songs like Lachak lachak bijuri jhalak manmohan ave, Mohe chakar rakhoji, Kunjanban chari hai madho kaha javo gundham, Holi khelat aj Kanhai, Basale apne man mein Gopal, Radhe Govind bolt tu mukh se, Basale apne man mein preet, Tune kya kiya mujhe baata to sahi, Hum aise desh ke basi hai, Mere to Girdhar Gopal, Ikdin jana ikdin jana, Itana to karo hey Swami jab pran tan se nikale, Ajab tamasha tera Shyamal captivated the hearts of innumerable music-lovers across the undivided India. At the request of the then Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, he wrote two text books on music titled Sangitiki and Geetashri. At the same time, he composed several songs for Uma (Rupe borne chonde aloke anande, Jibane marane esho, Sricharane nibedane janai e minati, Momo jibon majhe, Madhu murali baje, Ogo bulbul mon, Jokhon gahe neelpori, Nijhardhara shihorhara, etc.) who achieved unimaginable success as a singer within a short span of time. Dilip Kumar took Uma to Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi so that they could also enjoy her songs. Gandhi was so impressed by her that he conferred to her the title of ‘Nightingale’.


     When Sri Aurobindo met with the accident in November 1938, all communication with the Guru through letters came to an end with the exception of K.D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran and Dilip Kumar. During that time, Dilip Kumar expressed his desire to sing to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo never disappointed his beloved disciple and so he consented. On the scheduled day, Dilip Kumar went with Sahana Devi to the room adjacent to Sri Aurobindo’s where they sat in front of the Mother and rendered his songs. The door leading to Sri Aurobindo’s room was kept open so that he could hear the songs.


      In July1939, Dilip Kumar came to Calcutta from where he left for Assam with Uma and her family, Jyanprokash Ghosh and Pahari Sanyal and his wife. While on their way to Silchar on 5 July, the bus in which they were travelling met with a road accident which resulted in the death of Uma’s father Dharani Kumar Bose who, before breathing his last, told Dilip Kumar: “Dilip, I am undone.” (Dilip Kumar was also wounded but his injury was not critical.) But Dharani Kumar’s death gave a severe mental setback to Uma; her health deteriorated and she lost all attraction towards music. Dilip Kumar tried his best to bring her back to her normal life. And when Uma was on her way to recovery, her younger brother Tarun died on 7 September 1940 at the age of fifteen. With these two deaths in the family in two consecutive years, Uma’s will to live also went away. She fell ill in May 1941 and was diagnosed with tuberculosis which was incurable in those days. When Dilip Kumar learnt about her illness from Dr. B.C. Roy, he asked Sri Aurobindo whether he would be permitted to go to meet her. Sri Aurobindo replied: “I quite approve.” In July 1941 Dilip Kumar came to Calcutta to meet with his dearest pupil. Uma was in her death-bed when Dilip Kumar came to see her. He understood that the lamp of her life was burning feebly and her end was imminent. On Uma’s request, Dilip Kumar sang Theko priyo pashe (the Bengali version of the famous song ‘Abide with Me’ which was Uma’s favourite song.) and after a while was joined by Uma as well. She breathed her last on 22 January 1942 at the age of twenty-one. 22 January was her birthday as well which she shared with Dilip Kumar, who was in Chennai when the news of her demise was conveyed to him. On his own birthday, Death took away his dearest pupil whom he had expected to carry on his style of music. The voice that gave the most accurate expression to his music was now silent for ever.

     Deeply pained, Dilip Kumar wrote to Sri Aurobindo: “But why did such a lovely flower fade away prematurely even before blossoming—thus casting a gloom on all who knew her and loved her for her exquisite singing and snow-pure character?” Sri Aurobindo replied: “Uma Bose had reached a stage of her development marked by a predominance of the sattwic nature, but not a strong vitlal (which works towards a successful or fortunate life) or the opening to a higher light—her mental upbringing and surroundings stood against that and she herself was not ready. The early death and much suffering may have been the result of past (prenatal) influences or they may have been chosen by her own psychic being as a passage towards a higher state for which she was not yet prepared but towards which she was moving. This and the nonfulfilment of her capacities could be a final tragedy if there were this life alone. As it is, she has passed towards the psychic sleep to prepare for her life to come.”[45]

     Dilip Kumar could never forget nor conquer the emptiness that was created due to Uma’s untimely demise. In the later years, he once remarked: “When I was in my full form, all those songs which I used to sing with much effort, Hashi [Uma’s nickname] sang them effortlessly.” In Delhi, when Dilip Kumar was asked to sing Sricharane nibedane janai e minati (a song composed by him and sung by Uma) in a concert, he had replied: “That song cannot be sung any longer.” In 1942 (the very year of Uma’s death), when he was teaching a Gujarati boy of fourteen his songs, he wrote to Gobindogopal Mukhopadhyay: “[He has] a good voice. But I’ll never get that voice which has become silent.” Two years later, when he was teaching Manju Gupta, Dilip Kumar wrote to Gobindogopal: “Her voice is exquisite—it really reminds me of Hashi.” In the years to come, he would teach bhajans of Mirabai to the legendary singer of Carnatic music M.S. Subbulakshmi for her film ‘Mirabai’ in which she had acted and Dilip Kumar was its music director but the loss created by Uma’s death was never compensated. 


      In 1941-42 a grave crisis emerged in Dilip Kumar’s life. Being an ardent and life-long devotee of Krishna, he started worshipping Him in the Ashram. Though Sri Aurobindo had assured him that there was no real incompatibility in his Yoga and the worship of Krishna, yet some of the sadhaks did not quite approve and appreciate what Dilip Kumar was doing. They told him that he should practise the Integral Yoga only and if he worshipped anyone other than the Guru, it would act as a betrayal on his part. According to them, Sri Aurobindo was greater than Krishna so it was unwise to worship someone who was inferior to the Guru. They also said that by worshipping Krishna, Dilip Kumar can only reach the Overmind while the Supermind can be attained through the Integral Yoga only.

     Deeply perturbed, Dilip Kumar wrote to Krishnaprem and informed him about everything his gurubhais were telling him. Krishnaprem replied (on 17 January 1942): ‘To my thinking, it is quite out of the question for you to “give up wanting Krishna and using His Name.” There can be no question of disloyalty to your Guru in so doing and I am glad that Sri Aurobindo’s letter has set your mind at rest on that point…

       When I read your letter to Ma [Yashoda Ma], she said: “Tell him to look for Krishna within and not without and that he will see Him when he cares for nothing else but Him.”

    …Fill yourself with Krishna, occupy your thoughts with Him and let all your actions be for Him. Surely you will find Him. Do not think that this will be disloyal to anyone, for this is the “surrender” of which you write and he who teaches you will teach you this.

      Why worry over what your fellows around you say or do? Each of us has his own egg-shell cracked. Some are cracked one way, some another, but all are broken in the end. As for the “personal independence” of which you write—that is a dream. You can never have it and even if you did, it would be hell, for it means separateness.

      As for those who say that seeking Krishna has no part in their Yoga—that is the ignorant talk of those who do not know who Krishna is and vainly plume themselves on their own vain ignorance of “all that old stuff”. Paris fashions in Yoga!

      See Krishna, think of Krishna, act for Krishna, and, if you believe me, you will find Krishna with the utmost certainty though the world should crack and open up beneath your feet. This is the Truth. All else but Him is nothing, absolutely nothing.”[46]

    Sri Aurobindo too assured him: “I thought I had already told you that your turn towards Krishna was not an obstacle…If you reach Krishna you reach the Divine; if you can give yourself to Him you can give yourself to me. In any case it does not very much matter. We have accepted your loyalty and devotion, your work and service. All else that is needed can come of itself afterwards. There is nothing wrong in your self-offering in works and service; it is quite as it should be; you have no reason to feel worried about it.”[47]

     And to reassure Dilip Kumar, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “As regards Krishna and devotion, I think I have already answered that more than once. I have no objection at all to the worship of Krishna or the Vaishnava form of devotion, nor is there any incompatibility between the Vaishnava bhakti and my Supramental Yoga. There is in fact no special and exclusive form of Supramental Yoga: all ways can lead to the Supermind, just as all ways can lead to the Divine.”[48]  

     But Dilip Kumar’s mind remained restless despite Sri Aurobindo’s assurance. He was deeply saddened by the behaviour of those with whom he had spent almost fifteen years of his life. Till then all the allegations against him were uttered behind his back, but when a sadhak wrote a letter to him and admonished him, Dilip Kumar sent that letter to Sri Aurobindo and asked him what should be his line of conduct. Sri Aurobindo replied:

      “I am puzzled and perplexed by this affair of Krishna and the Supermind. A.B.C.D.E.F. etc., of Bombay, Nagpur, and Delhi and P.Q.R. up to X.Y.Z. of Calcutta and Pondicherry will all be able to catch hold of its tail and ‘include’ it in themselves, only poor Krishna can’t do it? He can only be himself ‘included’ in it? Hard lines on Bhagavan Vasudeva! What I said was that Krishna in his incarnation brought down the Overmind into human possibility, because that was his business at that time and all that could be done then, he did not bring down the Supermind, because that was not possible or at least not intended at that stage of human evolution. I did not mean that he could not have brought down the Supermind if that had been willed at the time. You listen to easily to anybody, G.H.or Q. let us say, and treat their ingenious hairsplitting or unduly authoritative ideas as if they were gospel truths; that causes mental confusion. I believe Krishna’s intentions are to remain with us and he won’t run away when the Supermind comes down; so why should Mother and I send you away on his account? It would be a most illogical procedure. So that is that.”[49]    

      Krishnaprem also wrote to Dilip Kumar: “But really what is all this fuss about? Some people disapprove of you? Well, let them. Even if they are advanced sadhakas, why should you care? You have no business with any approval or disapproval but that of the Guru and Krishna. ‘But, ’you may say, ‘they are my gurubhais’. Let them be, Gurus teach different things to different disciples. Never mind what he may have taught others. You do what he has taught you.”[50]


       In 1943 Sri Aurobindo fulfilled a wish of Dilip Kumar which he had nurtured for long. Though he wrote to his Guru almost every day and got Sri Aurobindo’s reply, yet he was not satisfied; he wanted to speak to Sri Aurobindo so that he could open his heart to him. Sri Aurobindo gave his dear ‘spoilt-child’ the permission he sought. On 4 February 1943, Dilip Kumar went to Sri Aurobindo’s room from where he had not stepped out since 1927. After a gap of nineteen years, the Guru and his disciple sat face-to-face and talked. Before the conversation commenced, Sri Aurobindo inquired: “Feeling better?” (The questions Dilip Kumar asked and the answers Sri Aurobindo gave can be found in Among the Great.) Towards the end of the conversation, Dilip Kumar asked Sri Aurobindo: “When are you going to come out?”

    Sri Aurobindo smiled and replied: “I don’t know.”

    Dilip Kumar asked back: “How do you mean? Surely you must be knowing?”

    Sri Aurobindo answered: “Not in the way you know. For I stand no longer on the mental plane. I do not decide from the mind.”

    When the conversation ended, on Dilip Kumar’s request Sri Aurobindo recited his poem Ahana to him. At last Dilip Kumar was satisfied.


      In 1943 Dilip Kumar visited Krishnaprem’s Ashram in Almora. During his stay at Almora, every evening he sang devotional songs with Krishnaprem and Moti Rani (Yashoda Ma’s daughter). Due to her illness, Yashoda Ma used to listen to the songs from her room. One day, as soon as Dilip Kumar finished singing his famous Sei brindabaner lila abhiraam, Yashoda Ma came to him and said that Lord Krishna Himself had come to listen to him. A similar incident had occurred when Dilip Kumar was singing in a room which was adjacent to a room where the famous saint Anandamayi Ma was staying. While he was singing, she rushed to his room and asked everyone present: “Can’t you all see, the Lord has come!” Such was the power in Dilip Kumar’s songs! But though he could feel the presence of Krishna the desire of having His darshan remain unfulfilled. One day, he asked Yashoda Ma the reason why the Lord was not appearing before him. Yashoda Ma replied that she had asked the same question to Krishna and He had replied that if Dilip Kumar’s wish was fulfilled, he would not be able to sing any longer.


     The Second World War ended in August 1945. Suddenly the news came that Subhash Bose had died in a plane crash at Taihuku on 17 August. Though most Indians still disbelieve this news, the question does arise: did Dilip Kumar believe so? The answer is: yes, he did. Though being bosom friends their paths never intersected, but that did not make Dilip Kumar love Subhash Bose less. He writes about Subhash Bose: “Not that we never differed from each other. But even the difference of our individual viewpoints and tastes contributed to the deepening of our intimacy. One thing I realized more and more through our clashing arguments over men and things was that true friendship actually thrives on differences because even a disagreement can become a grist to the mill of love, founded on the rock of youthful idealism. My ideal was Sri Ramakrishna, who had said that the object of life is to meet and live in the Divine. Subhash said that the object of life was to serve our beloved Motherland, India, by liberating her from the foreign yoke which bled us dry ruthlessly.”[51]

     And keeping this picture of his dear pal in his mind, Dilip Kumar wrote:


    “O son of strength, who spurned on earth the lures of lesser loves’ delight,

     And, to help us worldlings, gave up all for which we clamour, fret and fight!

     You lived to achieve India’s freedom in our homeland and abroad

     And we hailed you as our country’s leader, by your sunrise overawed…


     Love outflashed in your mystic soul, Campaigner of Eternity!

     Who never could laze or loll upon your couch of golden luxury.

     Those who have heard your bugle of love have heard the angel conch of Grace:

    “His Love’s pole-star shall light the pilgrim’s path to His Home’s last loveliness.”


     You sang the Gita’s song: “Arise, deal death to the shadows’ tyranny!”

     And so our Lord of dawn booned you with the crown of Immortality.”[52]


      Dilip Kumar had expected that he would have Krishna’s darshan through Sri Aurobindo as the Guru had assured him repeatedly. However, Barodacharan Mazumdar had told Dilip Kumar that he would not realize the Lord in Pondicherry. He said that a lady was waiting for him; when she would come to him as his disciple and remove all the thorns of difficulties from his path, only then would Dilip Kumar realize Krishna.

    That lady was none other Indira Devi.


     On 7 October 1946, Janak Kumari the wife of Mulukraj Malhotra of Jubbulpore was supposed to preside over a social meeting in a college where Dilip Kumar was invited as the chief guest. But due to fever and an attack of asthma, she could not attend the meeting; but from that very afternoon an irresistible urge of seeing Dilip Kumar arose in her. She asked her husband to invite Dilip Kumar to their house which he declined keeping in mind Janak Kumari’s illness. But Janak Kumari was adamant; she wrote and sent a letter through her brother-in-law addressed to the Principal of the college asking him to request Dilip Kumar to come to her house. To her utter astonishment, Dilip Kumar did turn up in the evening and she was exceedingly impressed by the purity, sincerity and sign of power that reflected on his face. That night, she dreamt that she was walking in a dense forest when suddenly she heard a voice telling her: “I will take you from darkness to light.” She looked up and saw Dilip Kumar standing on the summit of a hill with a smile on his face.

     In January 1947, Dilip Kumar spent three days at the residence of the Malhotras as their honourable guest. During his stay Janak Kumari looked after him with flawless dedication and Dilip Kumar was quite impressed by her. She requested him to give initiation to her but Dilip Kumar asked her to turn towards Sri Aurobindo. After Dilip Kumar left, Janak Kumari wrote to him several times repeating her request but Dilip Kumar declined every time and told her: “I am a seeker. Turn to Sri Aurobindo.”

     On 22 January 1947, Bengal celebrated Dilip Kumar’s 50th birthday on a grand scale; a special programme was organized to felicitate him in Calcutta. His numerous friends and admirers were present to grace the occasion and on their behalf, Dilip Kumar was presented a purse containing fifty thousand rupees and a set of annotated Srimad Bhagavatam.  Krishnaprem, who was present in the city at that time with his disciple Moti Rani, was requested by Dilip Kumar to attend his birthday celebration. Krishnaprem consented on three conditions: (1) The news of his presence in the ceremony would not be given to the Press as he always shunned publicity. (2) He would not be asked to sit on the platform. (3) Dilip Kumar would sing his famous song Sei brindabaner lila abhiram (which was one of Krishnaprem’s favourite songs). Dilip Kumar agreed to fulfill the conditions. On the scheduled day, Krishnaprem came to attend the birthday celebration with Moti Rani and sat in the audience. Dilip Kumar also sang Sei brindabaner lila abhiram for his dear friend and others. When the programme was about to end, Dilip Kumar rose up to thank everyone and said: “My greatest joy is that on the occasion of my birthday Yogi Krishnaprem has come to bless me here…” The very next moment before anyone could react, Krishnaprem rushed out of the place. He was quite annoyed with Dilip Kumar but was eventually pacified by Moti Rani.

     Dilip Kumar donated the purse of fifty thousand rupees he had received to the Ashram. Whatever money he used to earn from his musical concerts was handed over to the Mother by him. He used to place the money on a tray which was covered by a cloth with a symbol printed on it and would go to the Mother to offer the money to her. Once, he had earned a few thousands of rupees from a musical concert and he went to the Mother and gave the entire sum to her. After returning to Trésor House, he took out a thread and a needle and asked Rani Maitro (who looked after him): “Will you kindly stich up my dhoti?” At that time the price of a dhoti was not more than fifty paise but he didn’t even think of taking the money from the few thousands he had earned. Such was Dilip Kumar!


     On 21 February 1949, Janak Kumari had the darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with Dilip Kumar when she had come to Pondicherry from Jubbulpore. After the darshan when they went to take rest at Trésor House, Janak Kumari entered into a state of deep meditation where she remained for three hours. She felt her numb body becoming still and peace coming down on her head ‘like a block of ice.’ The next day, Dilip Kumar informed Sri Aurobindo about Janak Kumari who wrote back that she was ready for Yoga and they (Sri Aurobindo and the Mother) were willing to accept her as their disciple. But Janak Kumari had already accepted Dilip Kumar as her Guru; so when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother came to know about it, they gave their consent. After receiving the permission from his Gurus, Dilip Kumar gave initiation to Janak Kumari and also renamed her ‘Indira Devi.’

     Soon after her initiation, a variety of powers arose in Indira Devi which included telepathy, thought-reading, clairvoyance to name a few. When Sri Aurobindo was informed about it by Dilip Kumar, he wrote in March 1949:

        “About Indira’s faculty of receiving the thoughts of others, if this had been of the nature of thought-reading, that is to say, looking at the minds of others and seeing what is there, the remedy would have been simple: refusal to look would have been enough and even the faculty might disappear by atrophy through long discontinuance. But if the thoughts of others come to her by themselves, it may be the psychic opening in her inner mind which it would be difficult to get rid of. If she could remain indifferent or push away these unwelcome visitors behind her and not think of them again, that would be one remedy; it might even be discouraged from coming after a time by this lack of reception. As for why it comes, it is not something that comes but something that is there, a faculty or psychic habit of the nature; if she practiced yoga and makes some considerable progress, then it would be possible for her to bar the door to these visitors. At the same time I might say that this power need not be a mere source of trouble; it can be helpful even; for it can give one who has acquired mastery over her own nature the knowledge of the thoughts and feelings around her and she can then help, guide, change what has to be changed in their minds so that they can become more effective for the divine work.”[53]

      From 6 September 1949 Indira Devi started hearing songs of Mirabai in her trance. She was in Mussoorie at that time ‘meditating at least fourteen hours out of twenty-four’ when this phenomenon started. When she heard the first song (Bari anokhi reet piyaki bari anokhi reet! meaning ‘His ways are strange, bewildering!’), she dismissed it as one of the songs she had heard in a movie. But in this way, a number of songs came to her without her understanding of what was happening. During her stay in Pondicherry, on 28 March 1949, when Dilip Kumar was singing in his flat, she saw a very beautiful lady clad in a Rajasthani dress sitting next to Dilip Kumar and listening to his songs. Indira Devi thought her to be one of Dilip Kumar’s guests or relatives but when the lady got up to leave, Indira Devi saw that her feet were not touching the ground. She informed Dilip Kumar who was equally surprised as he had not seen anyone while he sang. After a few days, Indira Devi saw that same lady in meditation who introduced herself as ‘Mira.’ Mirabai continued to dictate songs to Indira Devi whenever she was in trance; in this way about a thousand songs were dictated in the years to come. With the advent of Mirabai in the lives of Dilip Kumar and Indira, the golden age of Dilip Kumar’s sadhana started. Indira Devi used to see Mirabai in her visions and recited the songs sung by her which were noted down by Dilip Kumar (and later by his other disciples). Her consciousness had got totally mingled with Mirabai’s consciousness; it was as if Indira Devi was Mirabai’s alter ego. Indira Devi writes about it:

      “The whole thing was so amazing that most people found it difficult to believe. Indira [she wrote in third person] did not blame them as she herself found it equally inexplicable. Yet it was true and with time became the greatest truth in her life. It became the most precious part of her life.”[54]

     In this context, let’s quote three letters written by Sri Aurobindo to Dilip Kumar; in the first, he wrote (dated 7 May 1950):

     “There is nothing impossible in Mirabai manifesting in this way through the agency of Indira’s trance, provided she (Mira) is still sufficiently in touch with this world to accompany Krishna where He manifests and in that case there would be no impossibility either in her taking the part she did in Indira’s vision of her and her action. If Indira wrote in a Hindi with which she was not ordinarily familiar or in which she was not used to write and it was under the influence of Mirabai, that would be a fairly strong evidence of the reality of Mirabai’s presence and influence on her.”

      In another letter dated 2 June 1950, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “It is evident that Indira is receiving inspiration for her Hindi songs from the Mira of her vision, that her consciousness and the consciousness of Mira are collaborating on some plane superconscient to the ordinary human mind: an occult plane; also this influence is not an illusion but a reality, otherwise the thing could not happen as it does in actual fact. Such things do happen on the occult plane, they are not new and unprecedented.”

     And in the third letter (dated 11 June 1950) Sri Aurobindo wrote: “In any case, the poems Mirabai has written through Indira—for that much seems to be clear—are beautiful and the whole phenomenon of Indira writing in a language she does not know well…is truly remarkable and very convincing of the whole thing.”[55]


      In November 1949 Indira Devi, who was in Jubbalpore, fell critically ill; when she was on her death-bed, Dilip Kumar was informed. With Sri Aurobindo’s permission, he left for Jubbalpore in December. He was dumbfounded to see the list of diseases she was suffering from—anemia, asthma, thrombosis, weak heart, osteo-arthritis, low blood-pressure, lack of appetite etc. She was vomiting blood as well and the doctors declared the case to be a hopeless one. Meanwhile Indira Devi too had stopped all medication and had taken refuge of Sri Aurobindo. Dilip Kumar kept on informing Sri Aurobindo about Indira Devi’s health through letters and telegrams and from his room in Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo was using his yogic force on Indira Devi. Suddenly, one day all communications ceased. Sri Aurobindo said to Nirodbaran: “How am I to save her if I have no news?” Then communication was resumed once again and gradually Indira Devi recovered. When Dilip Kumar informed Sri Aurobindo about her recovery, he replied: “I have never had any hesitation in the use of spiritual force for all legitimate purposes including the maintenance of health and physical life in myself and in others.”


     Came 1950. Dilip Kumar was exceedingly busy at that time. He was singing in numerous charity concerts across India. The records of his songs Bari anokhi reet piyaki and Dur desh se ayi bairagan (both songs were heard by Indira Devi), Ami cheyechi ami niyechi sharan tomari and Jodi diyecho diyecho diyecho bondhua, Phir kisiki yaad ayi and Suno katha prem byatha (heard by Indira Devi) were released in May, June and December respectively. At the same time, Jaico Publishing House published fifty thousand copies of his immensely popular book Among the Great. So busy he was that he missed the November Darshan.

       In December Dilip Kumar was in Benares busy with a charity concert. A telegram had also arrived from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother wishing him for his concert which ran: “Be patient with Indira. Give her time. Love, blessings—Gurudev, Mother.” He was totally unaware of the tragedy that was going to happen in Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

      Two pages from Indira Devi’s diary are quoted beneath:


      “Bombay Dec. 2, ’50: I was having a terrible pain in my body, and whenever I sat down to meditate I saw Gurudev Sri Aurobindo lying in bed. A dreadful chill in atmosphere. Death hovering around. It was such an agony.


      “Bombay Dec. 4, ’50: At about midnight I saw Gurudev again lying stretched on his bed in his room at Pondicherry, when, suddenly, I saw his body rising up. I knew at once that he was leaving his body. I noticed a black mark on the back of his hand.”[56] (The black mark was the scar left by an injection.)

     On the night of 4 December Dilip Kumar dreamt of an earthquake at Benares. Next morning he heard in the Radio that Sri Aurobindo had left his body. He reached Pondicherry posthaste and went to Sri Aurobindo’s room where his body was laid in state. Nirodbaran writes: “I also saw, to my utter wonder and delight, that the entire body was suffused with a golden crimson hue, so fresh, so magnificent.”[57] Dilip Kumar entered the room where he saw his beloved Guru lying on bed but without any sign of death around him. It appeared that the entire room vibrated with Dilip Kumar’s suppressed cry. He stood in the room for two-to-three minutes and then went downstairs. Later, when Nirodbaran informed him about Sri Aurobindo’s last days, Dilip Kumar said to him: “You don’t know, Nirod, what I have lost.”

     Dilip Kumar lost interest in life following Sri Aurobindo’s descent into death. Once he tried to kill himself by jumping into the ocean but was stopped by Indira Devi. The Mother consoled him with extreme tenderness and told him: “How can I not love someone whom Sri Aurobindo loved? What do you think we are here for? Only to please Sri Aurobindo.” She also wrote to him the following letters to make him calm:

    16 March 1951: “Let the Divine Grace do the work through you and the work will be thoroughly done. My love.”[58]


    28 April 1951: “Sri Aurobindo has made our realisation independent from all world circumstances and He always considered you as part of the realisation. So there is no true ground for depression.

    I expect you to shake it off, with help of my love and blessings.”[59]


   27 June 1951: “My dear child,

                            Here is what I have just heard from our Lord for you:

                           “No fears, no anxieties, no doubts, I am here.

                                                                          With my blessings.”[60]


     The Mother also told Dilip Kumar that Sri Aurobindo had made her promise that she would love Dilip Kumar and be patient with him just like Sri Aurobindo; the Mother also assured him that he would definitely find Sri Aurobindo in her as their consciousness are same. But Dilip Kumar’s heart knew no peace. The one for whom he had renounced everything had gone! Though he saw his Guru only four times a year, yet he knew that he is, his breath was present in the air; he used to receive his Guru’s touch in the form of letters which used to cool down his turbulent mind. But now? Everything seemed over. He lost his interest in life and in the Ashram as well where he had spent more than two decades. But he tried in his own way to cope up with the changes that the Ashram was undergoing after the passing of Sri Aurobindo.

     “After Sri Aurobindo’s passing away,” writes Nirodbaran, “a great pressure was felt by all of us, calling for a change in our way of life. Among the older disciples, Nolini, Amrita, Dilip and others joined in the physical activites as a part of the integral yoga…The spectacle of Amrita and Dilip doing collective exercises in the playground attracted crowds to enjoy the Harry Lauder fun. Both of them marching in blue shorts with others, hardly keeping time, or both falling behind and running to catch up, or right foot falling in place of the left, turning to the left instead of the right and, particularly when commanded to sit on the ground, their inability to rise up promptly—all these at once were an eloquent testimony to the fact of physical exercises being foreign to their nature. In this respect they resembled very much their Master.”[61]


      On 1 October 1951, Mirabai ‘came’ to Dilip Kumar at midnight. He did not see her but heard her disembodied voice distinctly. She showed him some scenes of Brindaban and also spoke of her Guru Sanatan and described how she had lived in her Guru’s hut serving him, cooking for him, singing with him and helping him in his sadhana. On 20 November 1951, Dilip Kumar himself heard Mirabai singing Sawan ki gehri raat mein. This phenomenon was repeated on 20 and 27 January 1952 when he heard Mirabai singing Kahe ab tu dole man re and Aisi preet sikhao mohe respectively. But all these spiritual ‘miracles’ could not make him overcome the grief of Sri Aurobindo’s passing.

      In 1952, Dilip Kumar received an invitation from Stanford University to deliver lectures following which the Government of India appointed him the ‘Cultural Ambassador of India’ and sent him and Indira Devi on a world tour. They left India on 4 January 1953 and after performing at Tokyo, Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angles, Santa Barbara, Carmel, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, London, Göttingen, Zurich, Rome and Cairo they returned to India in August 1953. Dilip Kumar’s musical concerts with Indira Devi’s dance recitals were extremely appreciated. He preached the life and work of Sri Aurobindo and spread his message across America. Just as Swami Vivekananda had introduced Sri Ramakrishna to the West, similarly Dilip Kumar too with his lectures on his Guru reintroduced Sri Aurobindo to the West. He did not confide himself with the well-defined boundaries of cultural representation only but preached the message of Indian philosophy as well. He met a number of international personalities like Ugiene O Black (the then President of World Bank), Christopher Isherwood, Swami Nikhilananda, Bertrand Russell and Aldous Huxley. Listening to the stotras of Shankaracharya sung by Dilip Kumar, Huxley remarked that he had never heard such a powerful voice. He also wrote to Columbia Records asking them to record some of his songs, especially Bhootnath bhav bheem bibhola (composed by Dwijendralal). About Dilip Kumar he remarked: “When I read Sri Ramakrishna’s life, I wondered how a man as childlike and guileless could talk of the highest wisdom. After meeting Mr. Roy, I know it is possible.”[62]

     However, Dilip Kumar found it difficult to stay in the Ashram after his return from the West. Though he respected the Mother yet he could never give her that place in his heart which he had given to Sri Aurobindo. And Sri Aurobindo too loved him as a “friend” and a “son”. Dilip Kumar enjoyed certain liberties which were not enjoyed by others. Let’s read the following account of Aster Patel to illustrate the beauty of the relationship between the Guru and his disciple:

     “You know Dilip Kumar Roy was here at that time. His relationship with Sri Aurobindo was very special, as everyone knows. I have never seen Sri Aurobindo’s face crease into a smile at Darshan time. He had that vast impersonal look. No matter who came and passed, there was no focus of a personal recognition, which the Mother gave to each one. But not Him. He didn’t give that. And you entered and kept going in those eyes—and you didn’t know where you were. Once by chance I happened to be behind Dilip-da…in the line. He was a very colourful personality with the saffron robes and all. I saw that Sri Aurobindo’s face creased ‘physically’ into a smile when Dilip-da was in front of him. This captivated me. It became a pattern for long years, right till 1950. I would hang around the Ashram courtyard waiting for Dilip-da to arrive, join the queue, and slip in behind him. You know, nobody would notice a child slipping in. And the moment you entered the Darshan Room, you could turn to the left of Dilip-da, to the right of Dilip-da and you could see Sri Aurobindo that much longer! Then you saw Sri Aurobindo with that personal look—but always the impersonality behind. All this happened till 1950.”[63]

     Let’s read what Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay has written about this unique relationship:

    “Of all the disciples of Sri Aurobindo, Dilip Kumar Roy was one to whom the Guru gave the utmost indulgence, possibly because he was ever aware of this disciple’s utterly sensitive nature and lest he should leave the path in disgust or dismay, the Guru took him closest to his breast, owning him as a child and a very part of his being, through his wide heart and sympathies, much to the chagrin of his other disciples…The Guru was his touchstone in every matter in life and at every step, the disciple would refer all matters under the sun to him and him alone for verification and the Guru would readily acquiesce to each and every request that came from this importunate disciple…I am tempted to recount the story which I had the privilege of hearing from a great mystic soul, Sri Krishnaprem, who had, according to Sri Aurobindo, a “seeing intellect” (paśyantí buddhi). A bosom friend of Dilip Kumar’s,…Sri Krishnaprem was invited by the former to visit Pondicherry to have a darshan of Sri Aurobindo, and so he went there just a day or two prior to the day fixed for darshan and was staying with Dilip. On the previous night before the darshan, Dilip sent a note to Sri Aurobindo to inform him that next day, Sri Krishnaprem will also be accompanying him for Sri Aurobindo’s darshan and in the line of devotees assembled for the darshan, the man next to Dilip will be Sri Krishnaprem. “If possible, please give him a smile, when he approaches you, O Guru.” “Just think,” Sri Krishnaprem told me, “how he dares order or command the Guru to oblige him! And what the ever-obliging Guru could do? He could not refuse any request coming from Dilip! As soon as I stood before him, he gave me a very beautiful broad smile!”[64]

     Some of his gurubhais assured him that Sri Aurobindo was very much present with them and many had seen him too but Dilip Kumar was not convinced as he himself had not seen him. At last in November 1953, Dilip Kumar left the Ashram with Indira Devi. However the Mother kept his flat at Trésor House vacant till 1970 with the expectation that he would return (years later in 1970 it was converted into Trésor Nursing Home with Dilip Kumar’s written consent).

      But what could have been the actual reason why Dilip Kumar had to leave the Ashram? Dr. Govindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay, who was extremely close to Dilip Kumar, writes that he had gone against the Mother which in turn enraged his other gurubhais due to which he was compelled to leave the Ashram. In his magnificent biography of Dilip Kumar Roy, Dr. Govindogopal explains (translated by the author): “Dilip Kumar had gone to Pondicherry only because of Sri Aurobindo for whom he had unshakeable devotion, love and attachment…He was unable to install Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the same place in his heart and for that he was not solely responsible. Many had this doubt in the past…He respected the Mother a lot and the Mother too loved him like a child…but like  some of the other disciples he could not accept the Mother as much as Sri Aurobindo because whatever he had received was from Sri Aurobindo only and because of his onewardness, he had to leave the Ashram because the others were looking upon the Mother to fulfill the emptiness created by Sri Aurobindo’s passing away.”[65]

     But Shankar Bandopadhyay, Dilip Kumar’s disciple, differs from the above mentioned point and wrote: “Dadaji (as Dilip Kumar was lovingly called by his disciples) was as innocent as a child, therefore, he was deeply hurt when he was not informed about Sri Aurobindo’s illness. So just as a child becomes angry at his mother, he too perhaps became angry at the Mother.”[66]

     Nirmal Nahar, an ex-inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and one of the founder-trustees of Sri Aurobindo Bhavan Calcutta, writes: “Immediately after the mahasamadhi of Sri Aurobindo, the atmosphere of the Ashram became peculiar and many of the old sadhaks could not adjust themselves with that atmosphere prevailing at that time and left…In 1951, when I left the Ashram, I went up and met Dilip-da to tell him that I am leaving the Ashram. I told him at that time that I don’t think in the present atmosphere you would be able to stay here, he smiled and kept quiet. Then after two years he too left and when I met him for the first time in Calcutta, I told him ‘so you have also come out.’”[67]

     “Dilip Kumar had gone to Pondicherry, “writes Annadashankar Roy, “only because of Sri Aurobindo’s personal attraction. Everyday Dilip Kumar used to write to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo also replied. However this relationship got terminated after Sri Aurobindo’s passing. Hence there were no reasons for him to stay back at Pondicherry. However there was another reason as well. Sri Aurobindo’s teaching could not satisfy him. After leaving Pondicherry, he had told me—“I am now going back to traditional Vaishnava dharma. Adwaita Goswami was my ancestor.”[68]

     The author personally feels that though Sri Aurobindo used to appear only four times a year, but his silent yet luminous presence reigned all over the Ashram. Therefore, everyone was aware that the Lord was there with them and this acted as an assurance in the path of sadhana. But Dilip Kumar was unable to bear his physical absence; that’s why he left. But this does not imply that he had no communications with the Ashram; he corresponded with Nolini Kanta Sarkar, Duraiswami and a few others and often expressed his wish to visit the Samadhi. Once (when he was in Pune), he came to know that Sri Aurobindo’s Relics would be brought to Mumbai. Despite his ill-health, he rushed to Mumbai and with eager hands he embraced the Relics and washed the pot with his tears of unfaltering love and devotion that rolled down from his eyes.

     Nirmal Nahar recounts an incident that had occurred in the 1970s. At that time he was one of the trustees of Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Calcutta. In one of the meetings, he came to know that Dilip Kumar was coming to Calcutta and so he proposed that Dilip Kumar be invited to the Bhavan. His proposal was opposed by Himangshu Niyogi who said that it wasn’t possible as he was against the Mother. “But is he against the Mother?” argued Nirmal Nahar, “He talks nothing but of Sri Aurobindo and he has never uttered a word against the Mother.” Ultimately the Governing Council agreed to invite Dilip Kumar who, after coming to Bhavan, became so overwhelmed that tears flowed from his eyes. Hundreds of people came to Bhavan to see him. “And in the Bhavan’s history, that was the biggest crowd the Bhavan could have,” remembers Nirmal Nahar.  

       On 29 August 1953, Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi went to stay in Dunlavin Cottage at Pune owned by Sir Chunilal Mehta. In November they went to Chennai where they stayed for four months in the house of Indira Devi’s sister Kanta. During his stay, on 28 February 1954, Dilip Kumar had an experience which he has described in the following words: “…as soon as I started praying, a profound peace coursed down my veins in exquisite waves from the crown of my head, sahasrar, to the base of my spine, muladhar! I had had this lovely experience of peace before on several occasions, but it had never lasted more than twenty-four hours at the outside. This time it lasted, mercifully, for more than a month and seemed to be continually replenished as it were by some beneficent Source above my head—a peace that flowed through my veins in delectable cool waves, that healed life’s scorch away everytime I sat down to meditate…”[69]

     Three months later, Dilip Kumar had the darshan of Sri Aurobindo while staying in Khandala. That day he wrote: “My incomparable Gurudev who came to us here in the morning in person. What can science and agnostic reason know of such occult secrecies?”[70]

     It has been mentioned before that Dilip Kumar was a believer of the philosophy of Art for Art’s sake, but afterwards all his creative activities were based on the philosophy of Art for Divine’s sake. Whatever he wrote—poetry, prose, lyrics—was an offering to the Divine. He ceased penning intellectual novels and in 1954 authored Aghoton Ajo Ghote which was his first spiritual novel. It was followed by a number of such novels in Bengali Abhaboniyo, Aghotoner Ghota, Aghotoner Purborag, Ashruhashi Indradhanu, Chayapather Pathik [written on Krishnaprem in the garb of a novel], Patita O Patitapavan, Alochaya Akapakhi [written on Uma Bose], Aghotoner Shobhayatra, Prem Abhay, Pakha O Bandhan, Gan Prem Desh Bhagawan; with the exception of Gan Prem Desh Bhagawan (which was a sequel to his novel Moner Parash) all the other novels were based on true stories that depicted how the Divine Grace worked in real life. He also authored a number of other books which include poetry (Hark! His Flute, Eyes of Light, Anami, Suryamukhi, Madhu-Murali, Dine Dine, Protidiner Teere, Bhagawati-Katha, Mahabharati-Katha [the last seven were in Bengali]), reminiscences (Smriticharan, Smritir Sesh Pataye, Smriti Duyare Dukul Cheye, Sadhu Gurudayal O Kobi Nishikanto, Hari Krishna Mandir Proshonge [all in Bengali], Netaji: The Man, Yogi Sri Krishnaprem, Saint Gurudayal, Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, The Pilgrims of the Stars [in collaboration with Indira Devi] and Six Illuminates of Modern India, travellogues (Bhramyaman, Abar Brahmyaman, Edeshe Odeshe, Deshe Deshe Choli Ure), dramas (Sri Chaitanya, The Beggar Princess [in collaboration with Indira Devi], Mira in Brindavan) and translations (Deliverance, Mothers and Sons, Fall of Mevar). The number of his books in Bengali and English exceed sixty and twenty respectively. 

    When Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi settled in Dunlavin Cottage, they experienced for the first time what poverty was. His income was limited; there was inadequate light in the rooms they occupied and except Dilip Kumar’s room the roofs of all the other rooms leaked during rainfall; Indira Devi had to do all the cooking all alone and once, all their utensils were stolen. But they continued their sadhana with flawless sincerity and devotion, as a result, they were blessed by a number of miracles. Fistful of mud held by Indira Devi in trance got transformed into crystalline Prasad of halwa; fragrance of sandalwood emitted from Indira Devi’s palms and feet whenever she had the darshan of Lord Krishna; the bulb attached to the pedestal upon which the idol of Lord Krishna was kept lit up all by itself. Indira Devi also had innumerable visions (which were recorded in various books authored by Dilip Kumar, such as, The Flute Calls Still, The Rounding Off, etc.) and dictated hundreds of bhajans of Mirabai heard in trance which were set to tune and sung by Dilip Kumar. As a result, many an aspirant flocked to them and many took initiation as well from them. With the financial assistance from his American disciples Richard Miller and John Taxay, Dilip Kumar bought a piece of land where the construction of ‘Hari Krishna Mandir’ began. In January 1959, the construction was completed and on 19 January, Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi stepped into their new Ashram. Thus started their new centre of sadhana—“Hari Krishna Mandir—Indira Niloy.” And Dilip Kumar came to be known as ‘Dadaji’ and Indira Devi ‘Didiji’ and later ‘Ma Indira Devi’.

      After the establishment of ‘Hari Krishna Mandir’, Dilip Kumar understood how difficult it was to execute an Ashram. In Pondicherry, he never felt it as every detail was taken care of by the Mother; so Dilip Kumar entrusted all the charges of the Ashram to Indira Devi. At the same time, he made a will and got it registered at the Allahabad High Court in which he wrote that if after the demise of his direct disciples, the concerned authorities become unable to run the Ashram, then it would be taken over along with its real estate by the Ramakrishna Mission. It was only after the registration of his will that he set his foot in his Ashram.

     On 9 April 1962 Dilip Kumar had the darshan of Sri Ramakrishna, whose devotee he had been since his childhood days and on that day, the Illumined Master came to his disciple and blessed him by placing his palm on Dilip Kumar’s head.

     But Dilip Kumar’s aspiration to have the darshan of Lord Krishna remained unfulfilled. Sometimes he felt the presence of the Lord but as time passed, his anxiety and longing too increased. He lamented and often doubted that since he had spent a lot of time in creative activities and thus neglected his actual sadhana, hence perhaps he would not have the darshan of the Lord of his heart to whom he prayed:


                       “Lord, come to me—come, come to me;

                               I pray—O thou, Compassionate, come.

                         I long at fall of eve for thee;

                               My only refuge, only home!


                         I know I have no claim on thee,

                               I know I am a droplet wan,

                         I know thou art Infinity,

                               The primal Ocean, deathless Sun…


                         I know I cannot hope to win

                                With my frail wings thy viewless sky;

                         I know I am born to dismal din

                               Still yearning for thy Harmony.


                         I have no vision’s gift, I know

                                Not meditation’s marvel art,

                       Nor even how to make love grow

                              Or play in life my humble part…


                       My soul cries out to thee in pain;

                              Come Krishna, come—deliver me

                       From all that stifles, all that’s vain:

                              From all that binds—Oh, make me free.”[71]


And he knew:


                        Time glides by…lights that once were strong

                               Now fade…but this, Friend, knows my soul

                        That once I’m havened at thy feet,

                               I’ll have attained my Goal.[72]


The Lord did not altogether disappoint him; on 31 January 1969, Dilip Kumar had the darshan of Lord Krishna’s Feet, the experience of which is described in the following poem:


                         The heavenly Feet I’ve meditated on

                         Since childhood—my last Goal of dream and song,

                         Whose timeless Refuge seers and saints extoll

                         In time—the Feet for which the great gods long!


                         Are they those hallowed Feet—or do I dream?

                         I reck not—if Thou through its touch to me

                         Grant Love’s last liberation and restore

                         My lost birthright: Thy peace and harmony.


                         The answer descends, an avalanche of bliss

                         To dissipate my agelong questioning,

                         I have won the asylum coveted of the gods

                        Where Beauty legislates and Love is King:


                         Thy Feet—celestial Feet, whose touch transmutes

                         Our thorns to blooms—the Feet which (when we kiss)

                         Armour us with thy Grace—O who is there

                         Would shudder at thunders once he has known Thy bliss?


                         But where is my physical self? Had death’s dark blast

                         Contrived to annihilate all, how could I see

                         It now dissolved in infinite consciousness

                         Sheer, nude and haloed with divinity?


                        Only thy dawn-rose Feet survive and my

                        Dear daughter-disciple, I can see naught else!

                        Have all the cosmic worlds merged in Thy Feet?

                        Thou answerest with Thy Flute and anklets’ bells.


                        Faith won me in childhood thy compassion’s boon:

                        A sunbeam, clouds of doubt assailed to efface.

                        Tonight, in the holocaust, that mystic ray

                        Thou cam’st to rekindle with Thy miracle Grace.[73]  


      Just as the consciousness of Mirabai and Indira Devi were same, similarly the yearning of Mirabai and Dilip Kumar were also identical. Through the songs of Mirabai, Dilip Kumar attained the direction of his sadhana. He could identify his own feelings with those that Mirabai conveyed to him through her songs; hence he was able to sing them with heart and soul; moreover the songs were drenched with the nectar of devotion (bhakti) which increased his appeal as well.

     On 5 May 1972 during his stay at Chennai, Dilip Kumar had the experience of Shunyam, the ‘fecund Void of silence and Bliss’ which entailed the dissolution of the I-ness into pure and attributeless consciousness.      

     Dilip Kumar did not tread on the dust-covered path of the material world; his was the sunlit path of bhakti and love—the path which takes one to the greatest gift of all ages, that is, towards God-realization. The spiritual level where Dilip Kumar had reached was like the illumined welkin whose brightest star was Dilip Kumar himself. Just as the stars show the right direction to the sailors who have lost their way in the ocean, Dilip Kumar too showed the path to the aspirants who had lost their way or had deviated from their way of God-realization. He had come to earth as a messenger of love and bhakti and to preach them to those who have forgotten the meaning of these two words. If one looks carefully at his face or eyes (in the photographs), one would certainly feel an infinite spiritual consciousness covering his body and personality like an armour. Let’s mention an incident with reference to this context. Every year Dilip Kumar visited Hardwar with Indira Devi. One day at dawn while they were walking on the shores of the Ganges, an European couple came to them and made their obeisance to Dilip Kumar. They said that they had been looking for the answer to the question ‘why do sages wear ochre robes’ for a very long time; their search made them come to India and despite asking many sages, they did not receive the accurate answer. The explanation that was given to them was not satisfactory. An ascetic had told them that the significance of ochre robe cannot be explained but experienced. On that day, seeing Dilip Kumar walking on the shores, they felt that they had got their answer.

     In October 1975 Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi had gone to Chandigarh to visit the great saint Gulab Singh. They along with their disciples who accompanied them were provided accommodation in the MLA’s Hostel by a devotee of Gulab Singh. In the evening they were scheduled to meet the saint. When Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi came out of the hostel, Soumyesh K. Dasgupta (their disciple and presently one of the trustees of Hari Krishna Mandir Trust) saw that Dilip Kumar was not wearing any shoes. When he drew the attention of Indira Devi towards Dilip Kumar’s feet, she said: “You have forgotten to wear shoes.” Dilip Kumar smiled and said: “No, I didn’t. One has to go to see a sadhu bare-footed.”

     “Dadaji had the ability to command respect,” remembers Shankar Bandopadhyay. Following are some stories about Dilip Kumar narrated to the author by him.

     One day, when Dilip Kumar was still an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Indira Devi learnt that her husband had come to Pondicherry with the vow of taking her back at any cost. She got terribly scared and rushed to Trésor House from the Ashram Press (where she worked) to warn Dilip Kumar. But to her utter astonishment, she saw her husband massaging Dilip Kumar’s feet.

     Once Acharya Prabhupada had sent some of his followers to Hari Krishna Mandir to learn the tune of the Nam-kirtan Hare Rama Hare Krishna composed by Dilip Kumar. The leader of the group instructed his co-followers not to make obeisance to Dilip Kumar. When Indira Devi, who was present in the room, asked the reason, the group-leader replied that they would not make obeisance to anyone except their own Guru. Indira Devi remained silent, but when Dilip Kumar entered the room, all of them stood up and made their obeisance to him. A similar incident took place in Ramkrishna Mission, Calcutta where Dilip Kumar had gone to deliver a lecture and sing. Before him, another gentleman was delivering a speech and Dilip Kumar’s programme was scheduled to start after him. When Dilip Kumar had arrived, the other gentleman’s speech had not ended, so he went backstage; while he was going he was spotted by the audience who immediately rose up as a mark of respect, thus stopping the gentleman who was speaking.     


     On the morning of 28 September 1973 Dilip Kumar dreamt that the Mother was singing a French song to him. He made a notation of the song in his dream and after waking up, he composed the song Dekha dao dekha dao based on the same tune. A few years earlier, he had felt that he won’t live long and informed Nolini Kanta Sarkar about his feeling. Nolini Kanta asked the Mother who, after concentrating for a while, said: “No, he will live for a long time.” When the letter containing the Mother’s message reached Dilip Kumar, he made his obeisance to the letter. On another occasion when the Mother was not keeping well, Dilip Kumar had inquired about her health. After her recovery, the Mother had said: “Dilip had come to me.” This proves that the Mother and Dilip Kumar were in touch with each other in the occult plane.

     In 1973 Indira Devi was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. That year, on 6 October Dilip Kumar took her to Hardwar where they stayed at the Tourist’s Bunglow. On 25th, Mirabai appeared before Dilip Kumar and told him to make Indira Devi take a dip in the Ganges at dawn. Dilip Kumar was hesitant as it was next to impossible for Indira Devi to climb down the numerous stairs of the ghat and that too at dawn when the water was ice-cold. Then Mirabai told that Indira Devi should take a dip on 26th at 12:35 midday. The order of the Divine Voice was obeyed and Indira Devi went down the stairs with extreme difficulty. But once she was in the water, she cried out in Bengali: Ma eshechchen, Ma eshechchen! meaning the Mother has come. She visioned that Mother Ganga was standing on a blue lotus and sprinkling water on her. When Mother Ganga vanished, Indira Devi who was sobbing in ecstasy ran up the stairs with both her hands lifted up. The tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease had stopped to a great extent and it ceased completely within the next few days as she went on bathing in the Ganges daily. A Canadian photographer named Barry Harris was present when this miraculous incident happened. Sometime later when he was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors declared his case to be a hopeless one, he took initiation from Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi and to everyone’s surprise, recovered from the disease just by chanting “Jai Guru, Jai Guru.” So, miracles do still happen! 

     On 17 December 1975 at 7 p.m. suddenly Dilip Kumar’s voice was heard calling Indira Devi who rushed to his room on the first floor of Hari Krishna Mandir. She saw that Dilip Kumar’s face had turned red with excitement and he was in extreme ecstasy. With tears in his eyes, Dilip Kumar told Indira Devi: “I am hearing the Lord’s Flute.” “This came as an intense, continuous, concrete experience, which Dadaji’s Bhakta-musician heart welcomed with bliss and gratitude.”[74] And Dilip Kumar kept on hearing the Flute till the last day of his life. At last the Lord had answered the call of His devotee! It was a rare occurrence! Dr. Mahanamabrat Brahmachari has said that after Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (who heard the Flute towards the end of his life at Gambhira, near Puri), Dilip Kumar’s was the second instance of the Lord’s Flute being continuously heard. Thirty-eight years ago, Dilip Kumar had sung But I have heard thy Flute of Grace/ Beloved, in my lone heart; in 1975 he actually heard the Flute of the Lord. It reminded of the prophecy Yashoda Ma had made that Dilip Kumar would realize the Lord by hearing His Flute more than japa or meditation. Dilip Kumar, who was overwhelmed by this Grace, said one day: “I do not know what I’ve done due to which I have received this Grace. All the time I am hearing the incessant Flute of the Lord. I do not know how I’ve attained this Grace.”

     One day in the course of a conversation, Indira Devi expressed her fear that when such a phenomenon is experienced by anyone, it becomes difficult for the soul to remain in the body for long. The very next moment, she folded her hands and said: “I am not saying that something will happen to Dadaji.”

     But Indira Devi’s anxiety was not totally baseless.  


     Dilip Kumar’s rendezvous with death had commenced much earlier. One by one his beloved friends, relatives and admirers passed on to the Beyond. His childhood pal Khitish Prasad Chatterji died in 1961 followed by Dhurjati Prasad Mukherji in the same year; Krishnaprem left his body in 1965 followed by Nishikanto and Maya Devi in 1973 and Sayendranath Bose in 1974.

     On 10 January 1976 Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi left Pune for Calcutta. Before their departure, Indira Devi had told Kamala Subramaniam, a disciple: “My presence will be felt by you when I am away.” And her presence was indeed felt by many. On 22 January Dilip Kumar’s eightieth birthday was celebrated at Kala Mandir, Calcutta. On the request of the audience he started to sing. But after a while, to everyone’s surprise, he pushed away the harmonium which he was playing as an accompaniment and went on singing with immense ecstasy. Later he told that the Flute was accompanying him so distinctly that there was no need for the harmonium. After his birthday celebration, he delivered a few lectures at Calcutta Vidyapith in Golpark; at the same time he continued with his singing and interviews and interactions with aspirants. His body could not bear the strain and he suffered a heart attack in Mumbai. His condition remained critical for three months and by the time his condition improved, he was completely bed-ridden and was advised by the doctors not to sing at all. But that did not deter his creative activities; for (as Sri Aurobindo had once written to him) when he sat down to write his psychic being came to the front; hence within the next few months he penned an article on Sarat Chandra Chatterji, the famous litterateur of Bengal, a novel titled Pakha O Bandhan in Bengali and its translation Wings and Bonds, Smriti Duyare Dukul Cheye (his reminiscences in Bengali), translated Milton’s Justifying the ways of God to Men, an obituary of his gurubhai Duraiswami and revied his earlier work Isn’t it Strange? At times he also felt sad—not because of his illness—but because of his apprehension that perhaps he won’t be able to have the darshan of Lord Krishna. In a letter to Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay, he wrote: “I have told everyone about the Lord’s Flute. Now I am worried lest it stops.” The hope to realize his Lord was his greatest strength though at times he became depressed as he knew that time was running out. Sometimes the clouds of despondency would surround the sky of hope in his heart and sometimes there would be the light of assurance. In his own words:


                               I only long to live for thee,

                               Aspire, aspire one-pointedly

                                       For thy last union.

                               All else is a pale illusion now,

                               Like a roving phantom’s dismal glow

                                       At eve when day is done.[75]


                              O thou, my summit dream!

                                     To me, in mercy lean:

                               I crave the light of none

                                    But thy Grace Evergreen![76]


And when he glimpsed the light:


                               I know thou’lt come to me.

                                    Has thou not told me this:

                              “I’ll draw you tenderly

                                    Into my arms of bliss”…


                               “When will the hour strike?” I cry:

                                     A Voice says: “When you will

                                Surrender your self, child, then

                                     I’ll ring my Grace’s bell.[77]


       Several devotees used to come to Hari Krishna Mandir to participate in the nam-kirtan. Towards the end of 1976 Dilip Kumar, who was instructed not to sing at all, told Indira Devi: “Look at Lord’s Grace: after my heart attack, the doctors have asked me not to exert much and sing and look at His Grace—He has sent all these boys to me and I enjoy my evening, every evening, and I ask them to sing Nam.” Once he reduced the volume of his hearing aid to see whether he could hear the Flute; to his astonishment he did and he exclaimed: “Yes—it is still very very loud—beautiful chand [rhythm] and tan and improvisations.” At times he used to close his ears with his hands and found the Flute still playing to which Indira Devi remarked: “Dadaji, you are hearing it with your inner ears!” One day in the summer of 1979 Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi were listening to the Hanuman Chalisa sung by the devotees. After the singing ended, Dilip Kumar said to them: “You know what happened? Lord was playing Hanuman Chalisa on the Flute, accompanying you children.”

    On 29 September 1979, Dilip Kumar revised the manuscript of his book The Flute Calls Still (second part) and told Indira Devi after tying the file up: “This is my last work, put it on the shelf among the files marked ‘Posthumous works.’”

     Indira Devi said: “Please don’t say such things, Dada.”

     With a radiant smile Dilip Kumar answered: “It has been a good rounding off, hasn’t it?”

     On 30 September Dilip Kumar and Indira Devi went to Mumbai. On 1 October at dawn Dilip Kumar had the darshan of Radharani who blessed him when he sang Dwijendralal’s Ki diye shajabo madhur murati (Can jewels and pearls enhance thy beauty artifice of art thy loveliness?) According to the Vaishnava tradition, having the darshan of Radharani means the attainment of siddhi in sadhana as Radha is considered to be superior to Krishna.

     Gradually Dilip Kumar realized that his earthly life was coming to an end, just like Dwijendralal who had realized it in 1913 when he had written: “My day is done…a truce of chaffering/ My debts are paid…I hear footfalls of Night…/ World-weary now, to thee, O Mother, I cling:/ Grant me thy lap where darkness dissolves in white.”[78] Therefore Dilip Kumar felt it was essential to give the precise picture of his true self. And what was his true self? He was a lover in heart, mind and soul. Love was his sadhana, love was his life and his infinite love was dedicated to Krishna. At various occasions, he had told Indira Devi (through his messages he preached the glory of love):

     ‘The greatest joy comes not from being loved—for, at times it is the most embarrassing and awkward to be loved by someone when you cannot reciprocate that love. It is loving, and not being loved, that is the answer. There should not be any expectation in real love—call it spiritual if you may. You have only the right to love and to give.’

     ‘Love makes the world go round. Our negativity, hatred, fear, jealousy cannot put out this eternal flame of love that burns in every human heart. All joy, hope, aspirations, laughter, endeavour, sacrifice and nobility would have no meaning if there was no love. Human love may be mixed, selfish, egoistic, possessive. Yet it helps us a little to grow.’

     ‘Love people if you want them to change and become better human beings. Criticism does not change people, love does.’

     ‘Let the spiritual man rise above all these man made boundaries. Let us make it a beautiful world—a world of harmony, beauty, strength and love.’

     ‘It is not the form of worship that matters. Let our lives be constant acts of worship. We will live to love, to create, to give.’[79] 


     The boat of aspiration which Dilip Kumar had sailed in the ocean of sadhana was taken to the shores (that is, God-realization) by Indira Devi. Just as the Buddha’s sadhana would have been incomplete without Sujata, similarly without Indira Devi, Dilip Kumar’s sadhana would have been incomplete as well. This particular fact has been acknowledged by Dilip Kumar in several letters to various personalities and poems he had penned on her. A portion of one such poem is quoted:


                          She dwells not in the far-off sky

                                 But in the heart’s each breath resides;

                          From age to age in dust and din

                                As nectar and song she still abides.


                          Earth’s arid thirst to slake she’s born

                                As Mira’s soul again and again

                          And teaches through her love—how, vowed

                                To love, we can Dream’s peak attain.


                          Forgetting all fatigue and pain

                                And, serving all, she comes to reveal

                          The One whose Grace alone brings dawn

                                Life’s atheist darkness to repeal.


                          Indira is her name whose pure

                                 Sweet heart He colours in His own hue

                          And outspraying His love’s own light through her

                                 Pure love our Night she will subdue.[80]       


     The contributions of Sahana Devi, Uma Bose and Indira Devi in Dilip Kumar’s life were extremely important and noteworthy. Sahana Devi was his companion in music and sadhana in his early years as a Yogi, Uma was the flow of his musical creativity and Indira Devi was his guide to God-realization. 


     On 11 November 1979 while translating the Srimadbhagavat into Bengali (in the 1960s, Indira Devi had requested Dilip Kumar to translate the Srimadbhagavat who replied that until he understood the Gita completely, he would not translate it; in the 1970s one day he told Indira Devi: “Now, I think I can translate the Gita.” He did translate it which was published as The Bhagavad Gita: A Revelation), Dilip Kumar fell ill with acute bronchitis. On 17 November he collapsed while returning from the bathroom after which he became totally bed-ridden. Though he recovered after a few days but he was singing the song of life in a different tune. “I don’t understand,” he said, “but I know that not understanding is also a part of the Plan, I know why I don’t understand.” And on another occasion he said: “Don’t grieve for me! Death is not a tragedy, a life wasted is a tragedy!” When a devotee asked him why was he speaking of death when the doctors had said that he would recover, Dilip Kumar smiled and replied ‘with a twinkle in his eyes’: “The doctors are under a pleasant illusion.” On 23 November he wrote his last poem in Bengali titled Antim prarthana meaning the Last Prayer whose translation by Indira Devi is as follows:


                                Not this way Lord! nor that way, now

                                Your way alone, Love! I shall walk.

                                Not these words, Lord! nor those words, now

                                Of you alone, Love! I shall talk.


                                Come, clasp my hand, I call to you:

                                “Light of my life, lead on, lead on

                                 I ask for naught, I give my all,

                                 My heart’s aflame, all shadows gone.”[81]


He kept repeating the fortieth verse of the Gita’s sixth chapter and wrote in his diary in Bengali and Sanskrit:

                     Partha naiveha namutra binashastasya vidyateh

                     Nahin kalyan krit kashchit durgating taata gachchati

                    (My friend, here or hereafter none who is

                     A true aspirant ever can come to grief.)


     One day he told Indira Devi: “I am giving you a lot of trouble but you cannot say that I have not brought you to the right path—I have brought you children to the greatest path possible.” On 26 November he told her: “If people ask you why was Dadaji born, what was his mission in life, do not talk of my music, literature or anything else or even my aspiration. Just say: ‘Dadaji was born to love, his mission in life was to love all, love all without discrimination and love God…Indira, I don’t want to be known as anything but a truth-seeker.” Another day he said: “I have realised that Divine Grace is the greatest reality on the earth.” He also said: “I do not ask for death, but I do not crave for life.” And on another day he said: “Do not pray for my health, pray only that my surrender may be complete at the Lord’s feet.”

     In the last week of November, Dilip Kumar dictated in Bengali Kalo hoye alo choye tomar tapon which meant ‘Darkness becomes light when it touches your Sun.’ He also said: “I have touched the Sun.” In the first week of December, he asked Indira Devi whether he owned any property or personal possessions or money. When she replied that everything was in the name of the Trust and he personally owned nothing, Dilip Kumar was elated and said: “I am so glad that I will die a mendicant in the Lord’s Name. I have always been very careful that there should be no self-deception on my part. You know that I have wanted nothing but the Lord. I am fulfilled that I die a mendicant in the Lord’s Name.” And he repeated: “I am in deep peace.”

     What follows are some of Dilip Kumar’s utterances from 3 January 1980 to the day before he left his body:

     “I am in great ananda, are you in ananda?”

     “In life, in death, O Lord abide with me.”

   “‘Have Him I must and have Him I will.’ My Gurudev Sri Aurobindo wrote to me, so this is my mantra. What a great Guru I have, I am blessed.”

     “I have no attachments, no regrets, I’m free—I’m free.”

     “Many great yogis, like Sri Anirwan[82], leave their body through the crown of their head. I must learn the trick and go the same way.”    

     “I feel a deep peace in my heart, my surrender is complete now.”

    “The Flute is still playing, as sweetly and loudly as ever, I hear it all the time.”[83]

      When a disciple asked him whether he was meditating on the Lord, pat came Dilip Kumar’s reply: “What do you think I’m doing all the time, cutting grass?”

      Indira Devi writes about Dilip Kumar’s last days: “It is strange but rue that there was no restlessness or gloom of illness around him. One felt a deep peace in the atmosphere as one entered his room…He uttered such words of beauty, wisdom, humour and love all the time. Never once did he complain, never uttered a groan, nor even a sigh. Quietly he lay submitting to all that was done to him—thirteen injections a day and so on. He never said ‘no’ once to any request. “I am cooperating, am I not?” he asked sometimes. One who had always said: “I fight shy of physical pain, the Lord has spared me much physical suffering,” bore so much suffering with amazing fortitude and patience. Always a smile and a word of love and encouragement for everyone…Though he had grown so weak that he could not swallow even water, as it went into the windpipe—even when a teaspoon of porridge given would remain on his tongue—he did not refuse to be made to sit up—said ‘thank you’ to the nurse, and smiled at others.”[84]

     Dilip Kumar’s memory remained as marvellous as ever in spite of his illness and weakness. One day he saw one of his disciples looking for a particular quotation. When he asked his disciple what was he looking for, the latter replied: “And this to thine own self be true.” Instantly Dilip Kumar said: “It is from Hamlet. Polonius says it to his son Laertee: “This above all: to thine own self be true,/ And it must follow, as the night the day/ Thou cans’t not then be false to any man.” The day before he left his body, he recited Prahlad’s hymn to the Lord first in the original Sanskrit and then his own English translation.

     On 5 January 1980, Dilip Kumar said: “I have passed through the valley of death and seen Him face to face and experienced the great bliss all men desire.” That day, he called Indira Devi to his room and asked her to close the door. Then he said that he wanted to speak to her, pray for her and bless her. And then he added that he had always wanted to die as a mendicant in the Lord’s Name and he had been successful in doing so. He reminded her that he had promised to her of not leaving her without her consent, so if she did not free him from his pledge, he would not be able to go. “You are God’s greatest Grace to us,” he said.

     Indira Devi looked at her Guru whose infinite love and compassion she had received for thirty years, whom Sri Aurobindo had called ‘a friend and a son’, who had escorted her from Darkness to Light. Then she said: “Go Dada! I release you from your promise never to leave me—Go to your land of bliss—go to your Guru, your Thakur Sri Ramakrishna and your Lord.”

    It was then that Dilip Kumar said: “Amar vastulabh hoyechche—I have attained the Lord but don’t tell it to anyone as long as I am alive. You can tell it after my death.”


    6 January 1980. In the morning Dilip Kumar told Indira Devi: “Wash my hands, I have to touch the Lord’s Feet.” Water and soap were brought and his hands were washed.

    At 12 noon Indira Devi asked Dilip Kumar: “Dada, don’t you want to use your will to get well?” For the first time in thirty-one years he did not reply and just smiled and blessed her.

    At 2:30 p.m. the doctors came and examined Dilip Kumar and proclaimed his physical condition to be ‘not too bad.’ The cardiogram was alright too.

    At 3:40 p.m. Dilip Kumar left his body; his last words were “Jai Guru—Jai Hari.” It is said that in the last moment he had the darshan of Sri Aurobindo as a result of which he entered samadhi.

    All physical sufferings ceased. The Flute of the Lord ceased as well. But Dilip Kumar’s soul got dissolved in the Krishna-consciousness. Mirbai had sung in one of her bhajans Dui ka main bhed mitake aan milungi tujhse (I will merge in thee eradicating all duality); Dilip Kumar materialized the message of her song. By discarding the garb called ‘body’ he sang out (in the words of Sri Aurobindo):

                       “I am no longer a vassal of the flesh

                        A slave to Nature and her leaden rule.”


      The story of Dilip Kumar’s life should have ended here, but no; there is a postscript. Many years later when Nirodbaran was sorting the letters written on Dilip Kumar by Sri Aurobindo to him for his book Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, suddenly from Sri Aurobindo’s room emerged a radiant and beautiful person clad in a dhoti in his slender and luminous subtle body ‘with face and eyes aglow’ and he looked like an angel. He stood by the door beside Nirodbaran’s desk and after looking at the latter, disappeared in the ‘twinkling of an eye.’   Nirodbaran realized that the person was none other than Dilip Kumar himself but he pondered why he came. Sri Aurobindo informed Nirodbaran that he had deliberately sent Dilip Kumar to give the true identity of his actual self and that the outer life was not always the criterion of a person’s inner development. And Sri Aurobindo added that Dilip Kumar’s soul had gone straight to him after death like Champaklal and a few others. And Esha, Dilip Kumar’s niece who evolved into a sadhika of the highest rank, had seen in a vision with open eyes Dilip Kumar seated in a horse-carriage with Nolini Kanta Gupta and Champaklal. “They looked just as they did when they were alive. When I asked Sri Aurobindo inwardly its meaning, he simply said, “They are with me and go about from time to time to see the condition of the world, how it is going on.”[85]




                                                    Reference and Notes:


[1] Selections from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, p. 549

[2] Dilip Kumar Roy, Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, p.17 (1984 edition)

[3] Dilip Kumar Roy and Indira Devi, Pilgrims of the Stars, p.18

[4] Ibid., p.24

[5] Dhurjati Prasad (1894-1961) was a Professor of Economy and Social Science at Lucknow University and was a renowned critc of music and poetry.

[6] Satyendranath Bose (1.1.1894-4.2.1974) was a Bengali physicist, specializing in mathematical physics. He was best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s and provided the foundation of Bose-Einstein statistics and the theory of BOSON. He also made deep study in chemistry, geology, biochemistry, zoology, anthropology and engineering. He was elected the General Prseident of Indian Science Congress in 1944 and Fellow of the Royal Society in 1958. 

[7] Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, pp. 55-56,

[8] Atulprasad Sen (1871-1934) was a Bengali lyricist and composer who carved out a distinct style of his own in Bengali music. Dilip Kumar had popularized his songs.

[9] Kazi Nazrul Islam (25.5.1899—29.8.1976) was a Bengali poet and musician whose poetry and songs revolutionized the Bengali literature and also earned him the title of ‘Bidrohi Kavi’ meaning the ‘Rebel Poet’. Born in a poor Muslim family, he enlisted himself in the Indian Army in 1917 and was posted to the Karachi cantonment where he penned his first prose and poetry. His first work in prose Baunduler Atmakahini (The Vagabond’s Autobiography) was published in May 1919 and his poem Mukti (Liberation) was published in Bangla Mussalman Sahitya Patrika (Bengal Muslim Literary Journal) in July 1919. He left the Army in 1920 and settled in Calcutta; in the same year he published his first novel Badhanhara (Free of bondage). On 12 August 1922 he started the bi-monthly magazine Dhumketu (The Comet). He was the first lyricist to compose ghazals in Bengali and in due course he wrote and set tune to almost 2600 songs. He was diagnosed with the Pick’s Disease which made him lose his voice and memory. He was shifted to Bangladesh where he was declared the ‘National Poet’, his song Amar Sonar Bangla became the national song of the country. Among the many awards and titles he received were Jagattarini Padak from the Calcutta University in 1945, Padmabhushan in 1960 and D. Litt by the University of Dhaka.

[10] Dilip Kumar Roy, Hark! His Flute, p. 108

[11] Dilip Kumar Roy, Among the Great, p. 215 (1984 edition)

[12] Ibid., p. 221

[13] Ibid., p. 228

[14] Ibid., p. 52

[15] Among the Great, p. 326

[16] Pilgrims of the Stars, p. 143

[17] Ibid., pp. 142-143

[18] Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, p. 426

[19] Ibid., p. 428

[20] Ibid., p. 429

[21] Gopinath Kobiraj (1887-1976) was a disciple of Swami Vishuddhananda Paramahansa. A brilliant scholar of Indian philosophy, he authored more than seventy books. Born in the district of Dacca, he had his early education in Jaipur and then in the Government Sanskrit College of Benaras under Dr. Arthur Venis who understood and recognized his pupil’s brilliance and offered him the post of the Librarian when he earned his M.A. degree in 1914. Eventually, he became the Principal of the College and renowned, not only a scholar, but also as an “explorer of the realms of consciousness.” He was close to Dilip Kumar Roy. His last years were spent in the Ashram of Anandamoyee Ma at Bhadini on the banks of the Ganges.

[22] Khitish Chandra Sen was the Judge of Bombay High Court and also a poet and litterateur who had translated Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poem on Sri Aurobindo into English. He was introduced to Dilip Kumar by Shahid Suhrawardy.  

[23] Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, p. 28-29

[24] Sri Aurobindo to Dilip, Volume I, pp. 47-48

[25] Ibid., p. 74

[26] Ibid., pp. 96-100

[27] Ibid., pp. 264-265

[28] Ibid., p. 204

[29] Ibid., pp. 338-339

[30] Sri Aurobindo to Dilip, Volume II, p. 23

[31] Ibid., pp. 244-245

[32] Ibid., p. 245

[33] Sri Aurobindo to Dilip, Volume III, p. 282

[34] Sri Aurobindo to Dilip, Volume I, p. 254-255

[35] Sri Aurobindo to Dilip, Volume II, p. 320

[36] Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, p. 280-281

[37] Sri Aurobindo to Dilip, pp. 313-314

[38] George William Russell (10.4.1867—17.7.1935) was an Irish Nationalist, critic, poet and painter. He wrote under the penname of AE. His notable works include Homewards Songs by the Way (1894), The Earth Breath and Other Poems (1896), The Nuts of Knowledge (1903), The Divine Vision and Other Poems (1904), By Still Waters (1906), Gods of War with Other Poems (1915), The Candle of Vision (1918), Midsummer Eve (1928), Enchantment and Other Poems (1930), Vale and Other Poems (1931), Songs and its Fountains (1932) and The House of Titans and Other Poems (1934). He was the editor of The Irish Homestead from 1905 to 1923 and The Irish Statesman from 15 September 1923 to 12 April 1930.

[39] Annadashankar Roy (1904-2002) was a noted poet, novelist and essayist of Bengal and his contributions to Bengali literature earned him the Padmabhushan, Rabindra Puraskar and Vidyasagar Puraskar. He was the Founder-President of Paschim Banga Bangla Academy and was also associated with PEN (international club of Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Editors and Novelists).

[40] Kanailal Ganguly came to the Ashram in 1923 when he was twenty two years of age. He was the Ashram tailor.

[41] Sri Aurobindo to Dilip, Volume III, pp. 97-98

[42] Ibid., p. 277

[43] Ibid., pp. 278-279

[44] Hark! His Flute, pp. 150-151

[45] Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, p. 521

[46] Pilgrims of the Stars, pp. 107-110

[47] Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, p. 339

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid., pp. 341-342

[50] Ibid., p. 344

[51] Pilgrims of the Stars, pp. 57-58

[52] Hark! His Flute, pp. 79-80

[53] Pilgrims of the Stars, p. 279

[54] Ibid., p. 283

[55] Anurag Banerjee, Achinpather Dibyapathik, pp. 144-145

[56] Pilgrims of the Stars, p. 336

[57] Nirodbaran, Twelve Years With Sri Aurobindo, p. 280

[58] Achinpather Dibyapathik, p. 147

[59] Ibid., p. 148

[60] Ibid.

[61] Supriyo Bhattacharya, Selected Essays and Talks of Nirodbaran, p. 40

[62] Shankar Bandopadhyay, Sri Dilip Kumar Roy—My Master, p. 43

[63] Remembering the Mother with Gratitude, p. 27

[64] Sri Aurobindo to Dilip, Volume I, pp. 8-10

[65] Govindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay, Sur Sudhakar Dilip Kumar Roy, pp. 88-90

[66] Personal communication to the author.

[67] Personal communication to the author.

[68] Personal communication to the author.

[69] Pilgrims of the Stars, p. 192

[70] Achinpather Dibyapathik, Introduction.

[71] Hark! His Flute, pp. 23-24

[72] Ibid., p. 28

[73] Pilgrims of the Stars, pp. 189-190

[74] Sri Dilip Kumar Roy—My Master, p. 11

[75] Hark! His Flute, p. 166

[76] Ibid., p. 155

[77] Ibid., p. 168

[78] Ibid., p. 107

[79] Achinpather Dibyapathik, p. 195

[80] Hark! His Flute, p.78

[81] Dilip Kumar Roy, The Rounding Off, p. 132

[82] Sri Anirvan (1896-1978) was a great yogi and man of immense learning. He was a linguist and proficient in the Vedas and Buddhism but he called himself a Baul and preached the ideal of humanity. In childhood he was blessed with the Darshan of the Divine Vedmata as a six year old whom he named Haimavati as in the Kena Upanishad. Since then she had been the main source of inspiration for him. He translated Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine into Bengali and penned masterpieces like Vedamimangsha (in three volumes) which earned him the Rabindra Puraskar, Gayatri Mandala (in six volumes), Upanishad Prashanga, Kaveri, Patralekha to name a few.

[83] The Rounding Off, p. 134

[84] Ibid., pp. 134, 136

[85] Nirodbaran, “An Extraordinary Girl”, p. 184







Mirror of Tomorrow :: André Morisset, the Mother’s Son—by mail3Anurag

dilip-kumar-indira-devidilip-kumar-royAnd thus Mirra became the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Sri Aurobindo has said: “All creation and transformation is the work of the Mother.” And it was the Mother who gave the Ashram a proper shape.

Born on 13 October 1984, Anurag Banerjee is an essayist, biographer, poet and researcher. His first book, Nirodbaran: The Surrealist’s Journey was published in December 2006. He wrote the biography of Dilip Kumar Roy at the age of twenty in 2005 and translated 100 poems of Sri Aurobindo into Bengali at the age of twenty-one in 2006. His published works include Nirodbaran: The Surrealist’s Journey (2006), Achinpather Dibyapathik (2008), and Debotar Shrom (2008). 

13 Responses to "Dilip Kumar Roy"

simply great !

2 | Chiku
March 30, 2009 at 3:22 am | edit

Since you care so much about Dilip Kumar Roy, you might have heard of the recent demise of one of his closest disciples, Dr Govinda Gopal mukherjee, the noted sanskrit scholar, singer and author. he died in Calcutta on March 27 at the age of 91. A four volume anthology on Dilip Roy’s writings includes his correspondence with Dr Govinda Gopal Mukherjee, who was also very close to the late Krishna Prem and Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj..

Really a excellent article. And Dilipkumar roy is so much important to me, that, watching this site I convey my greatfil to you all. And my heartly tribute to my idol D K Rot.

Arunanshu Bhattacharya

Sorry, sorry for again for the spelling mistake of ‘roy’.

A Bhattacharya

Why would he visit Nirodbaran only to disappear in the “twinkling of an eye”? Is it a “Supramental” comic act????
Even ordinary mortals dropping by at a neighbor’s house seem to have the common-sense to explain the purpose of their visit. Apparently, these “visitors” from that “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns” lack that common-sense of mere mortals!

“The story of Dilip Kumar’s life should have ended here, but no; there is a postscript. Many years later when Nirodbaran was sorting the letters written on Dilip Kumar by Sri Aurobindo to him for his book Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, suddenly from Sri Aurobindo’s room emerged a radiant and beautiful person clad in a dhoti in his slender and luminous subtle body ‘with face and eyes aglow’ and he looked like an angel. He stood by the door beside Nirodbaran’s desk and after looking at the latter, disappeared in the ‘twinkling of an eye.’ Nirodbaran realized that the person was none other than Dilip Kumar himself but he pondered why he came. Sri Aurobindo informed Nirodbaran that he had deliberately sent Dilip Kumar to give the true identity of his actual self and that the outer life was not always the criterion of a person’s inner development.”

This is the best detailed biography of Dilip Kumar Roy.
I have read many of his books. I read the book ‘Yogi Krishna Prem’, written by Dilip Kumar Roy in 1974. I have reread it many times. I used to feel that the person who could grasp the inner essence of Krishna Prem so well must himself be a very great soul. I was longing to know more about him. you have quenched my thirst fully. You have really shown his greatness here. But nowhere I could get acquainted with the Mystic Dilip. Thank you a thousand times!!!!

The last but one sentence should read :But nowhere ELSE, except here,I could get acquainted with the mystic Dilip to such a great extent!”

Simply APURBO (Excellent) article !! I did not know or care to know until very recently ( I am just so ashmed and embarrassed now ) anything about DKR even though my dear and genuine pal of mine, Chandramowli mentioned DKR many times in the past in relation to IY. He then through some divine push, I guess now, felt goaded to get the book “Sri Aurobindo came to me” for me from Pondicherry. As I have been reading the book and reading and getting to know more about DKR now, I am just pondering how much I would have missed if I had not read and known about DKR. I understand now the context of many of Sri Aurobindo’s letters and responses that I had read years ago from various sources without knowing that those were directed to DKR. Thank you so very much for the very informative article.

absolutely superb, apnake pronam.

Factual wrong.Amar sonar bangla is written by Poet Rabindra Math Thakur not by Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Though I am in touch with Dilipkumar Roy creations since my early college days and still today I find deep solace and soaring support to my inner being whenever I find ruthless emptness and void surrounding.Dilipkumar Roy and Yogi shri Krishnaprem is my life beacon and of course destination

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Tusar N. Mohapatra

Director, Savitri Era Learning Forum
SRA-102-C, Shipra Riviera, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad - 201014 (UP) India + 91 96500-65636
Aadhaar No. 3628 2075 7337
SELF posits a model of counselling and communicative action as an instrument in order to stimulate the public sphere. The model aims at supplementing the individual’s struggle for a successful social adjustment with more aspirational inputs so as to help one take an informed and balanced attitude towards life as well as society.
Savitri Era of those who adore,
Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

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