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Buddha Bose A Peek into the Past

April 1983 saw the passing away of a great yoga pioneer of Calcutta, maybe of
India. Buddha Bose passed away quietly in a Calcutta hospital at the ripe age of
beyond seventy years. He had cured many an illness through yoga and quietly
tried to make it a popular choice for cure among the ordinary citizens of India for
more than forty decades before he closed his eyes.
I knew him from 1973 to 1982 and had the good fortune to be quite close to him
because I was his eldest daughter-in-law. I am in the evening of my life, maybe
even twilight and felt this urge to write some memoirs of people who influenced
me in some ways Buddha Bose (Baba) was one of them. Whatever is written here
is what I can remember from his narration of his life in small snippets and at that
time I had decided to write about his childhood and emergence as yoga expert.
He had been quite excited about the prospect, but unfortunately, life had more in
store for me before I could put pen to paper seriously.
He was born to an English mother and an Indian, Bengali father. His mother was a
niece to the then archbishop of Canterbury; her maiden name was Amy Johnson.
His fathers name was Raja Bose, a resident of north Calcutta, who had gone to
England to study. Raja Bose became enthralled by Houdini and his magic tricks
and worked as an assistant on the stage for sometime. Amy Johnson fell in love
with the dashing Raja Bose on one such magic show.
Raja Bose had been married at home to a Bengali girl before he departed for
England; obviously he was not happy with the arranged alliance and the marriage
was not consummated or so it seems. Where and how Amy Johnson and Raja Bose
got married was never revealed by Baba but before sailing back to India the
couple became proud parents to a daughter and a son. The daughter, Poppy was
the first child and Baba was the second child born to Raja and Amy Bose.
Baba had said that on reaching Calcutta port his English mother, his sister and he
were put up at the Great Eastern Hotel by his father before he went home. Every

morning from the next day on Raja Bose would take the hackney carriage to come
to the hotel and spend time with his family. Evenings he would return to his home
duly. These daily excursions aroused suspicion in Buddha Boses grandfather, who
made it a point to follow his son one day. After discovering that he was already a
grandfather of two beautiful grandchildren, he brought the mother and two kids to
live with the family in the family home.
Soon a younger brother David was born and on the same day a boy, Ambar was
born to the Bengali wife of Raja Bose. Apparently, Babas English mother could not
digest this fact and insisted on returning to England. She wrote to her father, who
sent a two penny coin and expressed his feelings with the sentence I care
tuppence for you. As Amy Bose was determined to go back to England her Indian
father-in-law arranged the fare but requested for one of the grandchildren to be
left behind with him Buddha Bose was chosen to remain with his grandfather. His
mother refused to keep her daughter with the Indian family as she did not expect
them to bring up a girl properly and David was too small to be separated from his
mother. Baba said he was only three and a half years old at that time when he was
left behind by his mother.
Baba said he was distraught and upset at the departure of his mother but the
Bengali mother took him under her wing and looked after him as her own. He was
British fair and his skin pigmentation stood out among the darker Indians wherever
he went. The color became a stigma as in those days most Hindu Indians
considered anyone outside their particular caste as rejects or mlechhas. So when
young Buddha Bose went to friends place he was made to stand outside the
house; if he requested for water he would be served in a copper tumbler which
would be thrown in the dustbin after he drank. Events took a nasty turn when he
with his half-brother, Ambar, went to the Bengali mothers parental home on some
invitation. As is usual in such occasions, the children were made to sit down to
dinner before the adults were served; Baba sat down to eat with the other kids.
The Bengali mothers elder brother came to check on the serving and found young
Buddha sitting among the children; he got furious and pulled him by his ears and
shouted how he dare sit with the rest at the same table. Baba said this incident

brought out the ferocious maternal instincts in his Bengali mother who took hold
of both the kids and rushed out, never to go back to her parents place again.
Baba was growing up in the family home but some things disturbed him to the
extent he decided to leave home. He said he would feel terribly frustrated to
witness his fathers violent eruptions on his Bengali mother at nights when he
would come home drunk. Baba felt helpless as he could not intervene or stop the
daily madness. By this time Baba had become acquainted with Bishnu Charan
Ghosh and his body building and yoga culture. He found a place to stay at the
Ghoshs College of Physical Education and excelled in the physical expositions. It
is here he got acquainted with Sri Sri Swami Sri Yukyeswar Giris disciple Swami
Yogananda, elder brother of Bishnu Charan Ghosh.
Babas life took a turn for the better from here. He joined the Calcutta Corporation
and received a salary of one rupee and soon even managed to start a business
named Amerind. His sanitary ware business took him to America and England
quite often and in one of these trips he had gone to meet his English mother. It
must have been an intensely emotional moment in his life because Baba stopped
relating anything further that day to me; he was choked with emotions.
Later Baba told me how his mother survived with his sister and brother in an
England where she was rejected by the church as well. Amy Bose found shelter in
an attic room above a shop where she worked for the owners. As the children were
still small she had to lock them up in the room while she went to work. Baba never
told me if and when Poppy and David became Christians, neither am I aware of
other details of their lives, except they were married with children. I met Davids
son Geoffrey when he came to Calcutta on his way to England from Zambia, he
resembled my husband Ashok strongly.
Meanwhile, Bishnu Charan Ghoshs eldest daughter, Ava Rani was in her early
teens and the family was looking for a proper match for the budding youngster.
After looking high and low for the perfect groom, it dawned on Ava Ranis
grandfather that the ideal match was right under their nose Buddha Bose. There
was a good gap of fifteen years between the prospective bride and groom but the

alliance was made with everyones blessings. Baba and Mamoni (Ava Rani Bose)
lived their entire married life at the same house, where they also had three children
two boys and one girl.
Baba continued doing his business and in one of his flights back to India, the
Panam Airlines plane crashed into the Beirut desert and burst into flames. The
horror was still evident in his eyes while he related the accident. He said when he
regained consciousness he realized he was immobilized and quite sunken into the
hot desert sand; he looked around to see his co-passenger Mr.Goenka was also in
a similar state. Fire was raging, people were screaming, he could hear the painful
cries of small kids who were also traveling in the plane. All of a sudden he saw the
notorious Beirut bandits emerge from nowhere on horses and start looting the
completely helpless passengers. He still remembered how the bandits snatched
the earrings off a womans ears while she was burning and crying out for help. He
remembered with horror how a pregnant womans stomach burst and threw out
the unborn baby.
The accident damaged Babas spine and Mr.Goenkas leg. The airlines managed to
rescue the surviving passengers and did everything possible to heal the injured.
Ultimately, the American doctors provided Baba with a belt to support his spine;
the belt had to be worn for the rest of his life.
On his return to India and home, Baba was constrained and could not continue
with his work as before. He said at this point he felt the urge to go to Kailas
Mansarovar; a dangerous mission in those days, both as a route and also because
it was in Chinese territory. He managed to reach Kailas Parvat. His said one day he
sat in meditation for hours without wearing the belt and as usual went to bathe in
the freezing water. He finished his bath and just walked on to his tent and did not
realize he was not wearing the belt until his helper and guide pointed it out. Baba
said ever since then he did not need to wear the belt and stored it carefully.
Baba went back to Kailash and Mansarovar and Amarnath many times after that
and even filmed one of his pilgrim trips. He even held private shows in the city on

his return for many of the Calcutta residents, who were awed to see the holy places
in reels. Rumors were abounding in those days that some foreigner had filmed it
and this Bengali was taking the credit. Unfortunately, people were not aware of
Babas English blood line and his skin color, so in a scene where his hand came in
front of the camera, it was naturally deduced it was the work of a foreign hand.
I came to know Baba when he had already established Yoga Cure Institute and was
always dressed in either dhoti and panjabi or saffron colored lungi and a white
kurta. I remember his sparkling white feet either barefoot or slipped into a pair of
black leather sandal. The feet were worthy of doing pranam to receive his
blessings. I used to sit in the consulting room where he would question the
members/patients and listen carefully to his detailed mode of queries. I learnt
what, how and when to ask and find out the problem with the person. I learnt every
individual had an individual constitution and the same ailment in two people
needed different asana. I learnt by watching and listening how to make a chart and
how to teach asana and pranayam. This learning gave me the knowledge
necessary to help many ladies later in life, by Gods grace. One other ting I
received from Baba was the Bhagvad Gita he gave it to me and asked me to start
by reading the third chapter. I did so for many years and then went on to read the
Gita in full. I have continued reading ten stanzas from this rich book of knowledge
to this day.
Baba never advertised or promoted his Yoga Cure Institute; people came in
through word of mouth. That itself explains his expertise in the field and the
sincerity with which he pursued this healing process to help others in pain.
Everyone called him Guruji and he initiated many into kriya yoga, that he had
learnt from Swami Yogananda.
I remember Babas twinkling black eyes and his quirky sense of humour. During
the period I was there he had picked up the f word from somewhere and kept
laughing at the funny sound of the word. Yes, one could discuss anything and
everything with him, irrespective of ones age. He made you feel comfortable and
secure to open your heart to him easily.

Chitralekha Shalom
D/o Late Gyanendra Chandra & Bela Deb (Sharma)