Title: Tales of Prison Life
Author: Sri Aurobindo
Year: 1st edition 1974, 2nd edition 2018
Published by: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry
This book is a brief but captivating illustration of Aurobindo Ghosh’s imprisonment along with his comrades during the “Alipore Bomb Case” and was originally published as a series of articles in the Bangla weekly, Suprabhat (সুপ্রভাত), under the title Karakahini (কারাকাহিনী) more than a hundred years ago.
The English translation is exceptionally replete with the charm (presumably) possessed by the original Bangla text. The time spent in the prison and the proceedings of the court is reminisced, not bitterly, but with hindsight – of a spiritual realization – and expressed with jovial satire.
These men were the members of one of the first revolutionary nationalist organizations: the Anushilan Samiti. They were brave men, who sacrificed their lives for a united India, even before the break out of The First Great War in Europe. They challenged the mighty Empire in an era of its ascendancy. Their ideology and organization later evolved into a plethora of forces that shaped the polity of this subcontinent.
The book gives the translated version of Aurobindo’s experiences in solitary confinement during his prison time. He describes the horrors of the then prison system, the challenges of solitary environment, his revelations, the courtroom drama and about Mr.Birley, Mr.Norton and their effort to prove his faults. He also talks about the inmates and their patriotic feelings. The title goes the book briefly covers his prison days and to an extent how he manages to remain sane after a year of solitary confinement. He also writes about how he made up his mind to work on the reforms that the prison system requires. He talks about the three gunas described in the Hindu Philosophy and how Rajas nature controlled by Sattwik nature can get rid of Tamas(Inactivity) and help nature prosper. The book ends with his speech at Uttarapara.