Pasted below is the autobiography of Guru Charan Bose. I found it here at archive.org. The text there is riddled with grammatical errors which could not have come from the author as at times there are strange symbols (e.g. ‘■’, ‘»’) spliced into the text. Hence I am working on editing a copy here. Feel free to read it, however keep in mind that I am not done with the editing.
AN OLD MAN’S STORY by Guru Charan Bose
Being an Auto-Biographical Sketch by Guru Charan Bose !
I was born at Bagbazar, in the northern division of Calcutta on the 1st of January 1826, My revered father (peace be to his memory) represented the ancient and well known Bose family of Bagbazar, the founder of which settled in Calcutta during the Mahomedan period, when the Maharatta Cavalry, composed of males and females, undertook plundering expeditions against Bengal and its. principal towns, and committees depredations: upon their cattle, flocks and crops.
According to the time honored custom of the higher grade df Kaesto families, as soon as I was six years old my father placed me under a Guru mohasae to get an elementary education in Bengali. Under his tuition, I learnt to read and write my mother tongue and to cast accounts.
I continued under him for four years, making pretty fair progress in the rudiments of the Bengali language and when 1 completed my tenth year, I was transferred to an Anglo-Vernacular school, commonly called the Hare school, because the late D. Hare, whose name is a “household word” among the
people of Bengal, was the founder and the superintendent of it; I studied English as well as Bengali in this institution for a period of five years. I was a rigid Hindu up to the fourteenth year of my age; my faith in idolatry, and the rites and ceremonies which popular Hinduism prescribes, was very firm. I had an imperfect knowledge of Christianity. Bat this period, under divine grace became a crisis in my life. The English education which I received in the Hare school opened the eyes of my understanding, and I perceived the folly of image worship. My faith in Hinduism was shaken; it failed to satisfy my spiritual cravings.
I felt myself a great sinner; my sinful propensities were very powerful; they got the better of my reason and conscience: I had no control over them. I stood in absolute need of power from God to effect the purification of my heart, the government of my passions, and the union and communion of my soul with Him. But this was not to be found in Hinduism, or in any other non-Christian religion of the world. All of them insist upon the doctrine of good works. I found that I had not the power of performing good works. “When I would do good, evil was present with me.” So I gave up the open worship of idols, and joined a debating club, the members of which professed themselves to be theists, and who in their meetings freely discussed theological subjects. Like the Brahmos of the present day they believed in one God, but ignored a written revelation. Their teaching, aimed at the moral, social, and intellectual improvement of Hindu society; but they were bitterly opposed to the Bible and the Christian religion, of which they had vague and hazy ideas.
They cared very little about the invisible realities of the unseen world which the Bible reveals. There were sometimes very warm discussions in the club, but in nine cases out of ten the members hopelessly differed from each other, and seldom was there any thing like rational conclusion on the points under debated. They believed in the existence of God, but maintained, like the Agnostics of modern Europe, that He was “unknown and unknowables.” As they were unbelievers in a revelation they could not point out any reasonable atonement for the sin-sick soul, anxious to be purified from its natural corruption, perversion, and pollution.
My mind was at this time in a very unsettled state, so far as religion was concerned. I had very little of that peace of mind, which I afterwards enjoyed when I became a Christian. I believed in a personal God, that He was a hearer and answerer of our prayers, therefore I prayed to Him day and night to lead me to the truth. And gradually I was led to it. I commenced to read the Bible and the evidences which proved its genuineness and authenticity. I cultivated the acquaintance of educated native converts, and European missionaries, by whose assistance I made considerable progress in my enquiries after truth. For three years I continued my enquiries, so that when I was eighteen years old I was fully convinced of the divine origin of Christian God. The Lord in answer to my prayers opened my mental eyes; all doubt and unbelief were by degrees removed, from my mind. I found out that Christianity was the only religion which suited my condition as a helpless sinner; its wonderful plan of salvation through a crucified Saviour, who by His precious death on the cross satisfied Divine mercy and justice, made a great impression on my mind. The study of the Mosaic dispensation, as revealed in the Old Testament, convinced me that the religion of Christ was not a new religion, “a cunningly devised fable,” as many half-educated and well-educated Hindus now-a-days believe, but founded on historical facts; that it was the perfect development and fulfillment of that ancient religion which was revealed in the Law of Moses; that it was as old as the creation, older than all the religious systems palmed upon the world by philosophers.
The Christian religion is built upon the promise made to the first man and woman immediately after their fall from a state of original righteousness. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” ( Genesis 3:15) It teaches that Jesus the son of Mary, of the family of David, was born in Bethlehem. In Him believers beheld the glory of the promised Messiah. That He was the “Word of God, the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” And though this logos theory has been a stumbling block to the unbelieving world on account of its mystery, yet humble minded men, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, have believed in it, “The Divinity of Jesus Christ is the science of sciences .”
I was now in the eighteenth year of my life. I fully believed in the inspiration of the Bible. The doctrine of vicarious atonement made by Jesus Christ produced a deep impression on my mind. I openly declared my faith in Him, and resolved to embrace the Christian religion by public baptism. This resolution of mine alarmed my relatives and friends beyond measure. They persecuted me day and night. Sometimes they would try to dissuade me from my purpose, but failed to do so. I was narrowly watched by them, they snatched away my Bible and every religious work I had in my possession, and consigned them to the flames. I was strictly forbidden to visit Missionaries and native Christians on pain of incurring their displeasure.
My faith in Jesus gradually increased. I made up my mind to leave home and take shelter wherever I could find it. I consulted my Christian friends, and they sent me to the old Bishop’s College at Shibpur; this was in September 1842. I was then a married man; I had a child-wife when I left home. I spoke to her about the step which I was going to take and advised her to follow me, but she was too young and ignorant to appreciate my motives. So she absolutely refused to comply with my request.
I believed I should be quite safe in Bishop’s College from the persecuting attempts of my relatives and friends. But it was far otherwise; I encountered there heavy trials.
One afternoon when I was reading the Bible in a quiet room upstairs my youngest brother stepped into the room, and informed me that my mother and some other relatives had come from Calcutta in a budgerow and wanted to have an interview with me. Without any suspicions in my mind, and moved by filial respect, I hastened to the College ghat, got into the budgerow, and took my seat. My mother and other relatives hemmed me on all sides and then raised a howling cry, holding me fast, and persuading me to give up the idea of becoming a Christian and to return home. My situation in the boat was most trying. I was alone there, entirely in the power of heathen relatives, whose sole object in coming to Bishop’s College was to take me back home by brute force if persuasions failed. My fears and suspicions were confirmed when I found out that a number of open boats filled with latials (bludgeon men) surrounded our budgerow. The flood tide had just set in with great force. A cousin, who was naturally of a violent disposition, caught hold of my clothes. The females kept on their lamentations. My poor mother overpowered by grief struck her head on the floor of the cabin, beseeching me to change my mind.
All of a sudden, at the command of my cousin, the budgerow was under weigh, and the open boats, filled with latials, more than one hundred men in number, surrounded it. They rowed towards Calcutta. My situation was the most critical that could be imagined. I was placed upon the horns of a dilemma. Natural affection on one side, and the salvation of my immortal soul on the other, struggled in my mind for mastery. I had learned to pray, and faith in Jesus got the victory.
“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5)
I said, “Blessed Jesus uphold me by Thy Spirit, and deliver me from my troubles.” The Lord heard my prayers, and saved me from death and heathenism.
The College authorities having learned that my heathen relatives by a combination of lies and subterfuges had enticed me into their boat and were dragging me home against my will and inclination, lost no time in chasing them and coming to my rescue, The late Revd. A. Street, the then Professor of the Bishop’s College., with the assistance of the College students and, servants, stepped into a boat belonging to the College, and rowed straight towards the latials, whose prisoner I was. The river in
front of Garden Reach became the scene of a naval engagement on a small scale. The fighting on both sides was very earnest. Several persons were seriously wounded. The latials, being skillful swimmers jumped overboard and took to the shore. My heathen relatives were left in the lurch. When they found that their mercenary protectors had deserted them they were at their wits’ end. Their anger knew no bounds, and they vented all their fury on me, as I was the author of all their troubles. They threatened to kill me; they command me again and again to change my mind and to deny the faith. But I turned a deaf ear to their threats. Although the event happened nearly half a century ago, and is ” a thing of the past, yet it is fresh in my mind. It was a season of fiery trial to me.
When my cousin found that I would not yield to his wishes, he caught hold of me bodily, brought me out on the deck of the boat, and after beating me “black and blue” with a cudgel, pitched me right into the middle of the stream. Being the time of the full moon, the tide was very strong, and it carried me away to a good distance. I fancied that I was going to have a watery grave. Suddenly the back of my head struck against the rudder of another budgerow riding at anchor not far from the shore. I caught hold of the rudderbands with both arms and clung to them.
Professor Street and his followers came to my rescue. They picked me up in their boat, and carried me back to the College premises. I suffered most grievously from the effects of the beating for a few days. As soon as I felt better I was anxious to undergo the rite of baptism, so I came back to Calcutta. I was introduced to the late Bishop Dealtry, who was then the Arch-deacon of Calcutta and Secretary to the C. M. Society. He baptized me in Christ Church, Cornwallis Square, in the presence of a large number of Calcutta people, who were drawn to the Church more out of curiosity then any thing else, as conversions in those days from the higher classes were ‘ few and far between.’
I now found rest from the persecuting attempts of my Hindu relatives, whose conduct towards me was as kind after my baptism as before it was cruel. Before my baptism, I was employed as a teacher in the Hare School, but I was now obliged to resign the appointment, as I was strictly forbidden by the rules of the school to teach and preach to the boys my newly adopted sentiments.
When thus thrown out of employment, I became homeless, penniless and friendless. But the Lord raised a number of Christian friends and sympathizers to assist me with money and good advice. They kindly offered to help me to secular employment, under Government, or in private firms. But as I expressed a desire of being employed in Mission work, in November 1842 the Calcutta Corresponding Committee of the C. M. Society appointed me as a Missionary labourer in the Agurparah Mission with the late Revd. F. J. DeRozario, whom the Lord has recently called to the home above.
In this Mission, I laboured with head and heart for a long time. In fact I spent the best part of my life here, teaching in the large Anglo-vernacular school, preaching in the villages round about, and helping in the church services I have mentioned before that I was a married man. I had left a child wife at home. Her parents, after my conversion, narrowly watched her. They adopted every measure in their power to prevent her from joining, or rather rejoining me. Thus, for a period of full nine years I was separated from her.
During this interval I did not forget my Christian duty towards her. I prayed to the Lord often to restore her to me and made several desperate attempts to rescue her from heathenism and its concomitant evils. But I met with defeat and disappointment because the Lord’s time had not come. At last in 1851, the Lord heard my prayers. All obstacles were removed. My father-in-law, who had hitherto opposed ” tooth and nail ” my wife’s coming to me, departed this life. My wife became of age to think for herself. Believing that the Lord’s time had arrived I renewed my attempts with redoubled zeal. I made her restoration to me a matter of earnest prayer. I was allowed access to her late father’s house. I ascertained from every source that was open to me that my wife, in her heart, was quite willing to join me though, on account of the false modesty and timidity common in Hindu families, she could not say so. I was advised to have recourse to law. With the kind assistance of the late Revd. Mr. Outhbert, one of our former secretaries , Mr. M. Wylie, the then head of the Calcutta Police, and a few sympathizing friends I adopted legal measures against my wife’s guardians. My efforts at last were crowned with success. With the full and free consent of her heathen relatives, my wife joined me. I stayed in Calcutta for a short time and then took her to the Agurparah Mission, After carefully instructing her in the principles of Christianity, she was baptized on the i5th of August 1852, by the late Revd. T. Sandys, our veteran Missionary, in Christ Church, Agurparah.
I continued to work in the Mission happily. My long connection with it was prosperous. There were many interesting conversions from the English school. The Lord also blessed me with a large family and “supplied all my need.” My income was limited, and I lived as the phrase is “from hand to mouth,” yet I managed “to make two ends meet.” I was never in actual want. I fully realized in my life the meaning of the aphorism. “The blessing of the Lord it maketh us rich.” “Having food and raiment I was content therewith.” My Bible taught me that wealth in this sinful world could not augment my happiness. The rich in the parable who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared surreptitiously every day died, and lifted up his eyes in hell.
‘But poor Lazarus was carried by ministering angels into Abraham’s bosom. In 1878 my health entirely gave way. Malarious fever broke out at Agorparah and in the adjoining villages like wild fire, people died like ants and flies. With a large family I suffered most grievously from malaria. I became quite unfit for active service, the hard work of the English school and the malarious fever told severely on my constitution. I was then in the fifty-fourth year of my life. In this -hour of distress, I cried unto the Lord and he delivered me from my troubles.
“Call upon me in the time of trouble; so that I will hear thee, and thou shalt praise me.” (Psalm 1:15).
My sons were at school at the time, and too young to help me in supporting the family. I applied through the Secretary to the Calcutta Corresponding Committee of the O. M. Society. The committee (I will never forget their kindness) allowed me to quit Agurparah, and to reside in Calcutta, sanctioning for my supplement the allowance which I now draw.
I have been residing in Calcutta for the last ten years. I am now in the evening of life, an invalid, in the neighborhood of seventy, the scriptural period of human existence; but though I have lost considerably the buoyancy and energy of youth and manhood, yet I thank God I am not quite bed ridden.
I try to promote His glory so far as health permits, realizing in my life his gracious promise “They shall bring forth fruits in old age.” (Psalm 92:14) .
“And even to your old age, I am He ; and even to hoary hairs will I carry you” (Isaiah 46.4).
When I take a retrospective view of my chequered life, I find my trials, temptations, shortcomings, imperfections, and frailties have been very many, that I am an ” unprofitable servant,” ” the vilest of vile ” and “my righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” My hope is on the Cross. “The blood of Jesus Christ that cleansed me from all my iniquities.”
Nearly half a century ago, when I left home for Christ, I was alone. I had none to share with me my joys and sorrows. I was persecuted right and left. I was thrown by my cruel relatives to the mercy of the waves to meet with a watery grave. And yet when I cried, like Jonah of old, the Lord, heard me, ” put of the depths He delivered me.”
I am now gray headed and gray-bearded, blessed with a Christian family, all the member of which, except one, have been, by the grace of God, settled in life. There is nothing to disturb my Christian peace. If it be admittedly that old age to a. Christian is the childhood of ‘immortality, “I realize it to a great extent. I can therefore take-up the Psalmist’s words and say, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits to me? I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living, I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:12-13).
The best preparation for death and higher life is to be “steadfast in faith,” “to watch and pray.” I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord that He has always led me by His spirit to contemplate death and the invisible realities of Heaven. I am therefore ready to depart this life. The Blood of Jesus has cleansed me from my past sins and created in me a sure and certain hope of life eternal. But should it please the Lord to spare my life longer (I dare not ask to live for His will be done on earth as in heaven) I will consecrate it to His service: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
The Bible is an infallible guide, which tells us how to become right with God, Look at these true sayings:
“How then can man be justified with God, or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” Job 25:1.
“Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” Proverbs 20:9.
“For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not” — Ecclesiastes 7:20.
“There is none righteous; no, not one.” — Romans 3:10.
“They are all gone out to the astray, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good no, not one.” — Romans 3:12
Does your conscience echo these words, and constrain you to admit, “I have sinned?” Then look again
“While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8.
Jesus Christ ‘His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” — I Peter 2:24.
Hear His own gracious words —
“If any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink.” — John 7:37.
“Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” – I John 6:37.
“He that heareth My word and believeth in Him that sent Me hath everlasting life, and shall not come in to condemnation but is passed from death into life.” — John 5:24
“Christian Tract and Book Society, 2nd Edition:23, OhOWKINGhbe. Feb. 190^.
THE OLIVE ELECT KIOAL PRINTING WORKS.” 1
More on this can be read at: Bishop’s College Calcutta 1820-1870.
Another biography of Gooru Charan Bose can be found in Rebecca J. Parker’s book, Children of the Light: Stories of Indian Christians (1940)