Friday, January 4, 2013




ARUNA ASAF ALI ( 1909-1996 )

Sh Raghavan worked with Times of India , Indian Express and held an important position as Secretary second Press commisssion. The Book has an exhaustive forward by Noted Indian Diplomat late Tikki Kaul ( T N kaul ICS )


Aruna Asaf Ali ( 1909-1996 ) was a Bengali girl born to Upendranath Ganguli and Ambalika .Her father worked in north india . Aruna studied at Sacred Heart Convent School Lahore .She studied urdu as her second language . In 1928, Aruna Met educated and liberal Barrister Asaf ali and both fell in love primarily on account of commonality of ideas and tastes. Akbari Begum ( Asaf Ali's mother ) ,Upendranath Ganguli ,Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Opposed this union while Gandhi ji , Nehru , Sarojini Naidu, C Rajgopalachari and Maulana Azad blessed the newly weds .Aruna shifted (to live with Asaf ali's family ) to Kuchaa Chelan Darya Ganj Delhi. The couple lived a happy married life . They decided not to have an offspring. Asaf Ali introduced Aruna to the world of Virgina Woolf, Nora Helman , G B Shaw and Karl Marx. Both were staunch Nationalists. Went to prison together opposing British and joining Gandhi ji's agitations .Moti La Nehru , Asaf Ali and Bhulabhai Desai formed the trio that gave legal defence to Bhagat singh in his trial.
" Please ask Bhabi ( Aruna ) To send Rasgulas some day "  Bhagat Singh told Asaf Ali one day during the days of his trial. And Rasgulas were smuggled inside the prison by Aruna for Bhagat singh .The trial was held inside Delhi District jail which premises are now known as Maulana Azad Medical college..

Aruna  is remembered as a brave Girl for  hoisting  the Indian  National Congress Flag at Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai in 1942 during the quit India Movement .  For this brave act she was named as the heroine of 1942 Movement .  Along with late Ram Manohar Lohia , she also edited Inquilab , a monthly magazine during the freedom struggle of the country .After independence of the country , Aruna worked tirelessly  for  various causes of  poor and underprivileged women .She was honoured with highest civilian Award , the Bharat Ratna , posthumously in 1997.

Aruna’s sister,  Purnima Banerjee was a member of the Constituent Assembly of India .Mira Devi , the only surviving daughter of  Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore was Aruna’s real aunt ( Married to Nagendra Nath Ganguli brother of her father ).Another uncle of Aruna namely Dhirendra Nath Ganguli was one of the earliest  Film Directors .


Aruna knew that Akbari Begum( Asaf Ali's mother ) and Asaf Ali were deeply attached to each other as mother and son. When asaf ali decided to come out of the old kucha Chelan locality and move to a civil lines Bunglow , Aruna refused . she refused because her mother in law did not want to come out of that locality and Aruna did not want mother and son should live separately.
One day Aruna asked her mother in law
 “ Do you know that Muslim league is asking for Pakistan? If pakistan is carved out , shall you move to that country ?”

 “Why should I ? I have Red Fort , Jama Masjid , Taj Mahal and Khwaja’s Dargah at Ajmer . No never . I can not go ”

About Mulana Azad’s personality Aruna conveys

When I met him for the first time I found that He exuded an air of gravity and seriousness. He seemed to be aloof and impervious of his surroundings. He had a classic frame of mind . At the back of my mind was the thought that he might not approve of his friend’s ( Asaf ali’s ) marriage to a Hindu girl . But He was an Indian of rare type, quite oblivious of a person’s caste , creed and social background . ”

.”Aruna , Asaf ali ( her husband )and Maulana Azad were all praise for prince Dara Shikoh. Maulana made many facets of Dara’s personality known to Aruna ;like Dara shikoh’s concept of Majma ul Bahrain ( Mingling of two oceans Islam and Hinduism ) . Her husband Asaf Ali would often say “ Any one who intends to take up the solution of problems of religious peace in India , must begin the work where Dara had left it and proceed on the path chalked out by the prince .A great difference might have been made to the history of India had Akbar’s grand son Shahjahan been succeeded by liberal minded Dara Shikoh ”


“ Bernard Shaw’s Black Girl would have found more agreeable the pantheistic worlds of Vedic India and ancient Greece. The cosmic religion of both saw goodhood in natural phenomena and , in contrast to the monotheistic religions , celebrated goodness as well as gods. The association of shame and sin with sex , underlying the Christian doctrine of virgin Mary’s immaculate conception , is unknown to the ancient Hindu Ethos. A remarkable figure in the Hindu pantheon is the manifestation of goodhood as ARADH-NAREESHWARA , half man and half woman. The significance of Aradh -Nareeshwara is reinforced by such appellations as Sita-Rama, Uma-Maheshwara , lakshmi-Narayana and Radha-Krishna , in which divine consorts are commended inseparably into one entity. “Half of one’s own life is she , the wife”, says the SATAPATHA BRAHMANA , a prose commentary on YAJURVEDA .It is being increasingly recognized by modern students of human personality that it is a combination of what are generally regarded as masculine characteristics ( such as strength and self confidence ) and feminine virtues ( such as patience , forgiveness and self effacing service ) that makes the finest human beings . ”………………


“The truth is that neither an arranged marriage nor a freely chosen marriage is guaranteed to succeed . The apparent failure in what is called LOVE MARRRIAGE is high only because both the parties have their own developed personalities. And no mansion is so large that two egos inhabiting it will not bump into and bruise each other .…….In contrast and by and large , in parentally arranged marriages , the wife is generally trained in most cases to subordinate if not obliterate her ego. Though Personality clashes are minimized but the marriages endure on an unjust basis and quite often in suffocating atmosphere . We actually have no means of knowing what has been the real rate of failures in arranged marriages. But in any case for a marriage to succeed , Both parties have to practice a generous measure of tolerance and forbearance , understanding of and adjustment to each other .”


 Among those who backed Aruna’s link project included men like Feroze Gandhi , Krishna menon , K D Malviya ( he had opposed her marriage to Asaf ali ) and Dr A V Baliga a surgeon from Mumbai .Feroze suggested that Aruna should seek A government plot allotment for LINK House at Bahadur Shah zaffar Marg New delhi . Finally pandit ji inaugurated Link house in June 1962.Edata Narayan as its editor gave it a flying start. The management headed by Aruna decided to publish PATRIOT a daily news paper as well. Link did well with its circulation and ever increasing readers . Congress too provided it with all possible support and help. It was after the death of Indira Gandhi that the group faced a rough weather . Advertisements from government had stopped . Employee issues started mounting. PF and ESI went in arrears . The company could not provide for Gratuity payable to its employees. The management could not wipe the stigma of accumulated losses from successive balance sheets .
Aruna singlehandedly rose to the occasion. She Brought donations from friends and well wishers . Paid salaries in time and also ensured that workers get Diwali Bonus each year . It was pathetic to see Aruna telephoning politicians of dubious credentials for help and donations . She would quite often say ..“ I collect donations from tax evaders .A beggar is not supposed to examine whether the money dropped into his outstretched hand is tainted. ”Compelled by friends and fellow directors of the company, Aruna finally left Link house on 10th Feb 1993.Thereafter if she had an occasion to travel to old delhi , she would avoid using Bahadur shah zaffar Marg because it entailed passing through Link House : she would tell her driver Balwant to use Ring road diversion. I end with lines from a poem of  urdu poet  Sahir Ludhianavi …….

kabhi milengay jo raaste mein,
to munh phiraa kar palat padeingay
 kahin suneingay jo naam teraa
to chupp raheingay nazar jhukaa ke
Meri wafaa ne ujaad di hain
Ummeed ki bastiyaan basaa ke.............
Bujhaa diye hain khud apne haathon,
mohabbaton ke diye jalaa ke…………………….

( Sahir Ludhianavi  )

 ( Autar Mota )

January 4th , 2013 . Time 11.15 PM … Good Night                                                        

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1 comment:

  1. Though of sharing a beautiful poem on Aruna Asaf Ali:

    तेजस्विनी अरुणा - The Classic and the only Hindi poem remembering Bharat Ratna - Aruna Asaf Ali. Written by Mohd Anwar Jamal Faiz 'Barbar' Ghazipuri. Originally published at the poets facebook profile and BeAsOne website -

    The poem titled 'Tejaswini Aruna' is dedicated to the untiring efforts of Aruna Asaf Ali in the fields of social equality and natural justice. She is regarded as the Heroine of the 1942 Quit India Movement.


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