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Letter from Savitri Devi to Young Comrade A – date omitted
Dearest young comrade A,
Today, it is your birthday. You are full [Omitted—Ed.]. At your age I was for six months in Shantiniketan, Bengal, perfecting my Bengali language and learning Hindi.
A Berlin Jewess, who had formerly spent two years at Gandhi’s “ashram” trying to impress the Indian leader against all we stand for, met me there. Rabindranath Tagore’s secretary, Amiya Chakravarty, was simple enough to think it a good thing to introduce the two “European” women to each other. The Jewish woman was teaching German at the open-air university (Shantiniketan) and used to live at the “Tala building,” a quiet house of several suites for teachers and students that were no longer in their “teens.”
After half an hour of conversation with me, she spotted me out, and paid me one of the greatest compliments on opponent ever has: “I came here to India,” said she, “in order not to see the shadow of a Nazi again. And here you are — in this Shantiniketan, of all places — you who are worse than the whole pack rolled in one!”
And when I asked her what had given her such a high opinion of me in such a short time, she said (It seems it were yesterday!) “They go along goose-stepping and sing ‘Today Germany is ours, tomorrow, the whole world!’ but they think of nothing but Germany. You came to ‘conquer India for your Führer’ — or am I mistaken?”
I said: “I came to tell the Aryan minority that has kept all these year and millennia the spirit of Aryan Tradition, in this one land that still worships Aryan Gods, and whose non-Aryans themselves believe in the superiority of the Aryan race, that their very immemorial religion is just what my Führer preaches; and that He is a divine Incarnation — the one outside India — such as those they traditionally revere.”
“That is exactly what makes you ‘worse than the whole pack from Germany’” — she said.
And she told the management that if I was to live at the Tala building, she would resign her German teaching. So the result was that I spent six wretched months in the building for young students — in a dormitory of six girls between fifteen and eighteen, who would talk half the night, which made it impossible for me to fall asleep; and getting up and bath were at 4 a.m. And then hymns to the rising sun, which were splendid. But I could hardly stand on my legs for lack of sleep. I am a great sleeper. Can go without eating for several days — provided I have water and coffee — but want ten hours of sleep.
(Rabindranath Tagore was actually surrounded by Jews, and Indian and European Aryan friends of the Jews. This is why he behaved so queerly in 1938.)
So that is where I was at twenty-nine — your age. I wish you are spending a happy birthday.
I never finished the “picture” I had promised you — left it in desperation, unable to catch the expression. I have painted quite a number of portraits from photos large enough but seem unable to paint that one. It is not the first time I tried, as you can imagine. So I am sending you a copy of it — a photo of the photo. I just took it to the shop, and they tell me it will be ready “in a week” or so. They say it is more intricate than to photograph a person. I know nothing of photo technique, so cannot understand why. Anyhow, you will soon have as a birthday remembrance, the “Forbidden Photo” that only two or three people on earth possess. The French writer Benoist-Méchin had it and gave a copy of it to me. It was given to him, I believe, by the Führer Himself. It was not “forbidden” to everyone. A few privileged people had it. Only the expression is so tragic that he forbade it to come out in public — for all to see. It is the picture of a Seer — knowing beforehand the price of fighting against the current of Time.
So I should request you: keep it for yourself; only show it to those you deem worthy to set their eyes upon the inspired Face. I’ll send it in about a week’s time, as soon as it is ready.
No further news. Mr. Mukherji will soon be in Delhi for some time.
Three of my poor cats are dead (out of the five I had in my room). One killed by the dogs downstairs and two taken away by the “feline distemper” — for which the two last ones are being treated. The strays — cats and dogs — are all right.
My dreary work is just the same. A hundred rupees less for me this month on account of holidays — always unpaid. Two of my pupils have also left. Pupils are always unstable.
Heat has set in. I now need ice every day, to keep any foodstuffs — especially the milk for house cats and strays.
My book is going on slowly. Am waiting for forma twelve to be printed and then shall send the first seven chapters of it (about up to forma twelve) to you. Five more chapters and it will be fully printed. After all!!
Hope you are well. And again — happy birthday to you!
With the everlasting greetings of the faithful,
Savitri Dêvi Mukherji
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