An Ashram Jewel: Mulshankar

Stories by Chinmoy

Compiled by Vidagdha Bennett

 

1.  One day I was going to the volleyball court. On the way, I met one of Sri Aurobindo’s main assistants. This gentleman used to massage Sri Aurobindo. His name was Mulshankar and I liked him very much. He was just going home after being upstairs in Sri Aurobindo’s room. He was so excited to see me.

“Chinmoy, Chinmoy,” he said, “Katha1 is now listening to your poem! Nirod is reading it to him and he is listening.”

This incident took place in 1946, when I was fourteen years old. I had rendered Sri Aurobindo’s story “Kshamar Adarsha” (The Ideal of Forgiveness) into Bengali verses. Believe it or not, the poem ran to 200 lines! Many years later, I translated it into English iambic pentametre also.

It is the famous story from the Puranas where the sage Vashishtha forgives Vishwamitra, even though Vishwamitra has killed his one hundred sons. Sri Aurobindo wrote only two stories, this one and another called “Swapna”.

2.  In 1947, while Sri Aurobindo was still alive, we had to defend the Ashram from goondas (hooligans). I was a member of the group of guards. It was a very bad year. Some Tamilians were displeased with us and so they threatened us. They were trying at random to kill some of the Ashramites.

On the day that India was liberated from England – August 15th, which was also Sri Aurobindo’s birthday – Mulshankar was assassinated. It happened in the street, only fifty metres away from the main entrance to the Ashram.

Mulshankar had been with Sri Aurobindo in Sri Aurobindo’s room and he was going home to take a shower and come back again to Sri Aurobindo. It was around 7:30 in the evening. Then some hooligans attacked him and stabbed him in his left side.

I was there when the Mother’s driver, Pavitra, came and put him in the car to take him to the hospital. His wound was bleeding so profusely. He died either on the way to the hospital or shortly afterwards.

It was a terrible blow. He was so close to Sri Aurobindo. He was only going home for a few minutes to take a shower and then go back. Look at this hostile force!

And I happened to be there, in exactly the same spot, not even two minutes before the assassination. Those hooligans perhaps were already at the end of the street when I passed by. It was a special celebration day. That is why I was walking in the evening. Some people had seen me there in the street, so when Mulshankar was stabbed, a rumour passed very quickly that it was me!

My aunt heard the rumour that I had been killed and she started crying and crying. Even afterwards, when she had seen me with her own eyes, she was still crying.

The people who attacked Mulshankar did not know who he was. They only knew that he was an Ashramite. When the police came, instead of arresting the Tamil hooligans, they began arresting some of the Ashramites! The police were so stupid!

For about a month, we had serious problems with these hooligans. People were afraid of going from one place to another.

Three or four days after Mulshankar had been stabbed, my eldest brother, Hriday, was attacked. He was two miles away from the Ashram in the late afternoon and five or six hooligans caught him. My brother was an expert on the Vedas and he started reciting the Vedas very loudly. The hooligans got frightened and went away; otherwise, he would definitely have been killed.

Like my brother, many were attacked, but luckily, nobody else was killed.

3.  Mulshankar was only 34 or 35 years old when he was killed. He was one of the real jewels of the Ashram. Simplicity, sincerity, purity – any divine quality you want to mention – could be found in him. He was a jewel in every respect. His was a great loss to the Ashram.2

 

– End –

 

Endnotes:
1 ‘Katha’ means ‘Chief’ in Bengali. In the early days, this was how many of the Ashramites referred to Sri Aurobindo.
2 In Nirodbaran’s book, Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo [Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1973], he provides some more background about this tragic incident:
“[Mulshankar] was the brother of Esculape, alias Dayashankar, at one time in charge of the Ashram Dispensary. He also worked as an assistant in the Dispensary after Esculape’s retirement and came to serve Sri Aurobindo as a medical aid. He was no masseur and in fact knew nothing about it, but he picked it up from some casual lessons and was gifted with the natural lightness and suppleness of finger movements … What could be more heart-rending than that he lost his life at the hands of an assassin during the riot of 1947? When the news was brought to Sri Aurobindo that he had been fatally stabbed, the room was filled with gloom and horror. Sri Aurobindo listened quietly and his face bore a grave and serious expression that we had not seen before.” (Pages 212-213)