Thursday, October 04, 2007

Abani Mohan Ghose, J.N. Mohanty, and Kangali Charan Pati (Prapatti) at Cuttack, Odisha

My high school friend, Aboni Ghose introduced me to the writings of Sri Aurobindo. Aboni (who had begun to spell his name ‘Aubony’) had already grown a full beard and wore his hair long at the back; we all took for granted that he was practising Yoga. He had already published an Oriya translation of a small booklet by Sri Aurobindo on Yoga, had a large collection in his home of Sri Aurobindo’s books, and knew many of his disciples. He made me read Sri Aurobindo’s magnum opus, The Life Divine. I read perhaps the first six chapters, which impressed me a great deal by their profundity and large scope. I even made plans to write a book on metaphysics myself, with chapters on ‘matter’, ‘life’, ‘mind’, and so forth.

Soon after joining college, Aubony and I started a study circle at the residence of a friend, Kangali Pati (who later joined the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, changed his name to ‘Prapatti’, and succeeded, in the sixties and seventies, in spreading Sri Aurobindo’s message throughout Orissa). Kangali lived in a thatched one-room mud hut. Besides the three of us, was an economist, an Oriya poet, and some others, whose names I do not now recall, met in his room once a week to read and discuss the writings of Aurobindo, Vivekananda and Gandhi. I am not sure if I also tried Yoga, although I may have at times sat down with eyes closed and tried to think of ‘nothing’…

At last, the two years of college in Cuttack were over, I took the ‘Intermediate Arts’ examinations and stood first in the University. The boy who stood third, Janaki Patnaik, went on to become the Chief Minister of Orissa for quite some time, and the boy who stood tenth, Ranganath Misra, recently retired as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India... -- J.N. Mohanty, Between Two Worlds, East and West: An Autobiography, Oxford, 2002
[Prapatti came in contact with Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1949 through his friend Sri Abani Mohan Ghose, son of well known educationist Sri Lalit Mohan Ghose. Sri Lalit Mohan Ghose was the founder member of Sri Aurobindo Study Circle in Orissa... The Mother’s work in Orissa started in 1949 when two Study Circles were formed with Sri Aurobindo’s permission (One at Rairangpur in 1949 another at Cuttack in 1950).]
[Cuttack (derived from the Sanskrit word 'Kataka', which signifies a military camp or a fort or a Government seat protected by an army) is one of the oldest cities in India and the Business Capital of Orissa. It is situated in a tongue of land formed by the Mahanadi River and its main branch the Kathajodi River at their points of bifurcation in 20.28° N 85.52° E. Its actual pronunciation is 'Katak'.Cuttack is also the headquarters of Cuttack District. It lies near Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark. It is more than a thousand years old, and was the capital of Orissa for almost nine centuries, before Bhubaneswar was made the capital city. With its world famous unique filigree works in silver, ivory and brass works and textiles of woven silk and cotton, Cuttack is perhaps the grandest showroom of Orissa...
By 1750, Cuttack came under
Maratha rules and it grew fast as a business center being the convenient point of contact between the Marathas of Nagpur and the English Merchants of Bengal. It was occupied by the British in 1803 and later became the capital of Orissa division in 1816. From 1948 onwards, when the capital was shifted to Bhubaneswar, the city remained the administrative headquarters of Orissa... Cuttack Coordinates: 20°16′N 85°31′E / 20.27, 85.52 Time zone IST (UTC+5:30) AreaElevation 59.57 km² (23 sq mi)• 14.62 m (48 ft) District(s) Cuttack PopulationDensity580,000 (2001)• ?/km²From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia OrissaIndia]

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