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Manmohan Ghose

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Manmohan Ghose (19.1.1869, Bhagalpur – 4 January 1924, Calcutta), second son of K. D. Ghose, Sri Aurobindo's elder brother, known as Mano in the family circle or Mejdada (in Bengali, second brother, addressed or referred to as such by brothers or sisters junior to him)

In 1877, Benoybhusan, Manmohan and Aurobindo was sent to Loreto House boarding school at Darjeeling that was run by Irish nuns, intended mainly for children of European officials in India.

In 1879, he and his brothers are left on care of Mr. Drevett's family in Manchester, England. The boys lived in two-story house at 84, Shakespeare Street from 1879 till 1881. In 1881, Manmohan joined the Manchester Grammar School.

In 1881 the Ghose boys moved along with the Drewetts to a similar house at 29 York Place in Chorlton-on-Medlock, a neighboring residential district. The census of 1881 provide a glimpse of the household: William Drewett, aged 39; his wife Mary, 38; her sister Edith Fishbourne, 22; Drewett’s mother Elizabeth, 68; the three Ghose boys; and two maids. This year Manomohan enter Manchester Grammar School (1881-84).

In 1884 Mr. Drewett emigrated at Australia. Before his departure, he left the Ghose boys in the care of his mother, Elizabeth, who went with them to London at 49 St. Stephen’s Avenue, Shepherd’s Bush. In London Manmohan enter St Paul's school (1884–87).

August 1886 — holidays at Keswick. This year, during summer vacations, the brohters returned to Cumberland for an extensive tour of the Lake District. To walk through the countryside immortalized by Wordsworth was a risky affair for Manmohan, who, in Aurobindo’s diagnosis, suffered from “poetic illness.” Once he fell behind and walked oblivious of precipices while “moaning out poetry in a deep tone.” Aurobindo and Benoybhusan were glad when he made it back safely.

September 1887 — after a holiday at Hastings, Aurobindo and Benoybhushan moved to the large drafty room above the club’s premises at the top of the building at 128, Cromwell Road where the office of the South Kensington Liberal Club was situated, where Mr. J.S. Cotton (brother of Sir Henry Cotton, who served in Bengal administration) was the secretary. Manmohan won an open scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford. In October he went up to Oxford, where he spent most of the money their father provided. There, unlike his brothers, Manmohan seems to have acquired the habit of living beyond his means. In a letter (12 July 1889) to Binyon he speaks of "many debts to pay". He was romantic and poetic, and enamoured of England and English life. He was a classmate of Laurence Binyon and a friend of Oscar Wilde. "Mano used to visit him every evening and Wilde described him in his Wildish way, 'A young Indian panther in evening brown', reminisced Sri Aurobindo. Stephen Phillips, the poet, was also a very good friend of Manmohan's. Manmohan was himself a promising poet, having written verse which was included in an Oxford anthology entitled Primavera. During this time in London Manmohan met many other members of the "Rhymers' Club" set such as Lionel Johnson, Ernest Dowson, who were both very fond of him.

In 1889 Manmohan obtained a Second Class in Classical Honour Moderations. But then, in May 1890, he himself cut short his Oxonian career.

When he gave up College in mid-career, Manmohan lived on Aurobindo's stipend. He wrote on 4 August 1890. "I intend to do some tutoring work, and writing, in the meantime which will give me enough to live on, with a little help from my brothers..."

In October and November 1892, Sri Aurobindo announced to Benoybhusan: “I am chucked”, with an almost derisive smile. Benoy took it rather philosophically and offered to play cards. After some time Manmohan dropped in and on learning about his rejection from the I.C.S. set up a howl as if the heavens had fallen. After that all three sat down to smoke and began to play cards.

Manmohan returned to Oxford in January 1893, and obtained his B.A. in 1894. In the autumn of 1894, Benoybhusan sent from India Rs.1500 to Manmohan so that the latter could return to India. Manmohan returned to India on the 25th October 1894 and went at once to Deoghar to his grandfather Rajnarayan Bose. His first posting was at Patna as assistant Professor of English in Patna College. In the end of 1896 he was transferred to Calcutta for about a year as Assistant Professor of the Presi­dency College. In 1897 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Dacca College. For some time he was also professor of English literature at Presidency College in Calcutta University. He was kept om the same fixed pay of Rs.600 from 1905 to 1916.

Probably, between December 1898 and February 1899 he married Malati Banerjee, a daughter of Kailash Chandra Bannerjee who owned a Chemists' shop in Ganderia, Dacca. In 1898 Manmohan started his magnum opus, Perseus,— the Gorgon Slayer, an epic in blank verse at which he worked without a break till 1916. In 1898 was published Love Songs and Elegies and some poems were published in and Anthology The Garland. These were all poems published by him during life-time (except what appeared in the Presidency College Magazine or the Calcutta Review)

On 22 October 1900 was born his first child, Mrinalini.

On the 20th of December 1901 Manmohan Ghose was promoted and appointed to a permanent post as Professor of the Dacca College,

On the 1st May 1902 he was transferred as Inspector of Schools, Chotanagpur Division, with his head quarters at Purulia.

In 1902 his second daughter, Lotika, was born.

On the 21st October 1903 Manmohan Ghose was transferred to Calcutta as a Professor in the Presidency College. On the 10th Septeinber 1905 he was promoted to a Class II post in a temporary vacancy. In Calcutta he settled down in 55, Eliot Road where he stayed till 1921 and only left the house because it was demolished by its owner.

In 1905 his wife had gone to Dacca on a visit to her father. There she fell down some steps and hurt her shine and head and by degrees her limbs were paralysed. Soon one side of her body became completely paralysed, she lost her speech and memory. The best Europian and Indian doctors prononced the disease as incurable. In 1906 an Ayurvedic physician, Kabiraj Bijoyratna Sen, was called. And in 1909 all symptoms disappeard. It was a trying time for Manmohan: he had to work, to nursue his sick wife and take care of his two dauters aged three and five.

In 1906 Sri Aurobindo came to Bengal. Manmohan frequently went to visit him in the house of Raja Subodh Mullick where Sri Aurobindo was staying at the time, and the two brothers would discuss Greek poetry, European Art and their own poetical compositions.

Early in 1914 his wife suddenly had a hysterical fit while at the breakfast table and became un­conscious. Once more her right side was paralysed and the old symptoms recurred.

In 1914 the First World War had broken out. In August England joined the war in aid of France. Police vigilance had become stricter and Manmohan Ghose's house was watched as suspicion because Sri Aurobindo was still suspected to fee the master-mind behind the revolutionary movement. Manmohan Ghose is said to have remarked, "Yes, Aurobinda still hangs like a halter round my neck."

On the 17th August 1918 Manmohan was promoted to a permanent Class I post, on the 2nd November 1918 he was appointed to the Indian Educational Service and on the 1st October 1919 he was given a special grade of pay. Visitors were rare and even those who came, except for a few, he avoided or only met formally. He visited nobody. The only exception was Rabindranath Tagore.

In 1918 his wife was well on the way to re­covery. But at the end of October during an epidemic of influenza in Calcutta she caught the infection and in few days died. After the death of his wife his health deteriorated and he aged prematurely. In  1921 the house in Elliot Road, where Manmohan's family lived, was sold by the Anglo-Indian landlord. After the summer vacations in 1921 he could not rejoin college as cataract in both eyes had considerably effected his eyesight. Badly advised he had the operation performed at home by a young Bengali eye-surgeon, eye became septic. English eye-surgeon who was the head of the eye department of the Medical College, Calcutta, was called and though his eyesight was lost his life was saved.

In 1922 the news came that the Alliance Bank of Simla in which Manmohan had kept all his life's savings had failed.

Manmohan planned to leave for England in the spring of 1924 — he hoped to publish there his epic Perseus,— the Gorgon Slayer. Passages to London for him and his daughters were alredy booked for March 1924. He returned from Darjeeling to Calcutta at the end of October 1923. But in November his health broke down (problems with heart vessels, low temperature, blood vomiting) and after a short illness on 4 January 1924 he died.

His daughter left for London and met Laurence Binyon, who helped her edit Songs of love and death, which was published in 1926.

 

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Bibliography

In English

Ghose, Manmohan

Collected poems

•   Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey (a Bell & Howell Information and Learning company), 2000.

Ghose, Manmohan

Selected poems

•   New Delhi : Sahitya Akademi, 1974.

Ghose, Manmohan

Adam alarmed in Paradise: an epic of Eden during the Great War

•   Calcutta : Calcutta University Press, 1977.

Ghose, Manmohan

In English

Love-songs and elegies

•   London: Elkin Mathews, 1898.- 40 p.

Ghose, Manmohan

In English

Songs of love and death

•   / Edited with an Introduction by Laurence Binyon.- Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1926.- 166 p.

Chatterjee, Ranjit

about person

Manmohan Ghose and His Poetry

•   // An English Miscellany, St. Stephen's College, Delhi. Article in: vol. 3, 1965.- PAGES: 1-8

Dwivedi, Amar Nath (1943-); Kapoor A. N

about person

Indo-Anglian Poetry

•   : with special reference to Toro Dutt, R.N. Tagore, Manmohan Ghose, Sri Aurobindo, Sarojini Naidu, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, Nissim Ezekiel and Kamala Das.- Allahabad : Kitab Mahal, 1987.

Lotika Ghose

about person

In English

Manmohan Ghose: Biography

•   In English .- New Delhi : Sahitya Akademi, 1975.- 96 p.; 23 cm.

In Russian