Late Shri Surendra Nath Jauhar (1903-1986)

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Shri Surendra Nath Jauhar’s life was an inspiring saga of commitment to the nation. While the first phase of his life was devoted to the cause of freedom of the motherland, the second phase was dedicated to the freedom of humanity from the ignorant half-awake consciousness under which it has been labouring for millennia. 

Shri Jauhar was born in 1903 in Vahalee village in the Jhelum District of Punjab (now in Pakistan). He gave evidence of his tremendous courage and uncompromising idealism when, at age 16, he responded to Mahatma Gandhi’s call to the youth to participate in the freedom struggle. Defying conventional wisdom and his parents, he dropped out of school, and the year 1919 saw him defying British Martial Law Regulations and getting beaten up severely with lathis and whipped mercilessly. He moved to Delhi in 1921. In 1930 the Congress High Command appointed him the Seventh Dictator of the Non-Cooperation movement in Delhi. He organized the boycott of foreign cloth and daringly volunteered to read the Congress resolution for Purna Swaraj at the Clock Tower in Chandni Chowk. He was arrested, and dispatched to the Central Jail at Multan where he remained for 15 months, not only in solitary confinement but also in fetters. He carried the scars left behind by the fetters around his ankles till the end of his life.

During the 1942 Quit India Movement, he arranged for Shrimati Aruna Asaf Ali’s hiding, outwitting the C.I.D. who were looking out desperately for both. He led an underground movement and was imprisoned once again from 1942 to 1944. He was “arrested on September 17, 1942 after fierce fighting at the point of pistol; dragged along with his wife in Connaught Circus followed by thousands of people; in the scuffle the Magistrate on Duty ordered to shoot him dead, escaped providentially; tried under various counts for about two years and acquitted on May 6, 1944”, says the official directory of Freedom Fighters of Delhi.

Although he continued to participate actively in the freedom struggle till 1947, he sought no office or position after independence. After visiting Pondicherry in 1939, he had discovered the mission that was to engage him for the rest of his life. He had already launched in New Delhi a centre for Sri Aurobindo studies way back in 1942. In the 1950s, he thought of expanding the activities of the centre, using his spacious property entirely for this purpose.  With the permission and blessings of the Mother, Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Delhi Branch was formally established on 12 February 1956. The Delhi branch is a living demonstration of Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary doctrine, ‘All life is Yoga’. The focus of the Delhi Branch has been on education and health. On 23 April 1956, the Mother blessed the opening of the Sri Aurobindo School of the Delhi Branch. The school has now blossomed into The Mother's International School. Without any rigid plans, with little to guide him except inspiration and encouragement from the Mother, came up the various institutions associated with the Ashram: Sri Aurobindo Education Society, SABDA, Matri Printing Press, Homeopathic Dispensary, Mira Nursery School, Matri Kala Mandir, Mirambika – to name a few.

Around 1968, he bought a bungalow near Nainital on a hill top at 7400 feet. The bungalow, named Ben Nevis by a Scotsman who owned it once, was renamed Van Niwas, an abode in the forest for radiating the new consciousness envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.  The property was renovated to mould it for the new purpose it had found.  In spite of his age, he did not hesitate in going through all the physical strain involved in the nitty-gritty of the project.  However, physical limitations spare nobody.  After a life of selfless service, this strikingly remarkable and multi-faceted personality – patriot, freedom fighter, upholder of secular ideals, educationist, karma-yogi, philosopher, author, and achiever, a truly outstanding son of Mother India, passed away on 2 September 1986. He was one of those rare individuals who would continue to inspire and influence through what he has done many many generations yet to come.