Quote 2: Most of our leaders, whose sacrifices led us to our Political Independence, drew sustenance from the Geeta to stand erect even in most testing moments

“The period of imprisonment

I felt that all our great revolutionaries looked at life and cosmos in similar ways. Whilst in the jail they had time to evolve spiritually. Father studied Tilak’s Gita Rahashya over all the years. Like Aurobindo, Tilak, Khudiram Bose and Gandhi, he drew light and inspiration from the Bhagavad-Gita. Aurobindo evolved in spirituality, even whilst in his confinement, seeing all around him the presence of Lord Krishna in His various manifestations. He could see Him in trees, and leaves, and all the creatures around. Tilak enjoyed, while in jail, reflecting over the Bhagavad-Gita. His commentary on this text, called the Gita-Rahashya, is a work of greatest importance. My father appreciated Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s famous book The Indian War of Independence. I would tell you later how I drew on Savarkar’s views in writing my paper to commemorate the ‘1857 Event’ which we considered the ‘First War of Independence’. For his revolutionary activities, Savarkar was arrested in 1910, and sent to jail for 50 years, but was released earlier, in 1921. I visited his cell in the Cellular Jail at Andman, where he had spent years whilst in jail. I felt he must have sustained himself seeing Shri Krishna manifest in the big peepal and banyan trees luxuriating in the full view from the cell. In the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna tells Arjuna: “of trees I am the Ashwattha tree” ( The Gita X.26). But a man, like Tilak, Savarkar or my father, could never get crushed under loneliness………. My father never felt depressed in the jail. It would not have mattered if the sentence had been for a decade, or for 50 years. He was sustained by his study of Tilak’s Gita-Rahashya. He kept that copy of the book till he lived. I often felt he lived in the world, but the chariot of his life, like Yudhisthir’s in the Mahabharata, moved above the earth. It was the consciousness of the Bhagavad-Gita that saved him from claustrophobic depression on account of the experience of ‘No Exit’. I felt that these lines from Richard Lovelace’s To Althea, From Prison might have sustained our freedom-fighters:

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.

Lovelace (1618-1658) composed these lines while undergoing a sentence in the Gatehouse Prison in London for promoting a patriotic cause.”

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 3 at pp. 46-47)


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