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Goethals News Bulletin
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. XI No. 1 Bulletin January – March 2008

News Update | Articles | Researchers | New Arrivals | Mails & Emails

Spirituality for life and leadership

Religion is for spiritual guidance and growth of people. It is a major resource for promoting peace, harmony, liberty and justice. We must use religions to maintain and enrich our cultural and religious plurality, which is our asset. Our response must be based on reverence, respect, tolerance and compassion. Every person is an image of God (Genesis 1:27) and so a person is sacred, unique, irreplaceable, and irreducible. But the serious problem in society is that man has created God in his own image.

We need to build and promote a spirituality that is acceptable to, as many people as possible, if not all. Spirituality is an essential part of an individual’s holistic health and well-being. It plays a major role in human and societal governance and development. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “God bless America” came easily to the lips of all Americans. In fact, spirituality came alive. It established the fact that human beings cannot do without it.

What is spirituality? It is hard to define. It is often understood as having to do with escaping from life’s temptations and challenges by going off to deserts and mountaintops to pray all day. It is often identified with matters otherworldly, something to do with spirits, something associated with pious and religious observances and activities. It is often contrasted to the temporal, to the material, or to the worldly.

Until the 19th century, the history of spirituality remained bound up within the history of religion. Spiritual innovators, particularly the eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinkers, often opposed to clericalism and skeptical of religion, sometimes came to express as “spirituality” their more emotional responses to the world. In the wake of the Nietzschean announcement of the "death of God" in 1882, people, unconvinced by scientific rationalism, turned increasingly to the idea of spirituality as an alternative both to materialism and to traditional religious dogma. The distinction between the spiritual and the religious became more common in the popular mind during the late 20th century with the rise of secularism and the advent of the New Age Movement.

One can simply state that spirituality is one’s inner quality that makes one transcend the barriers of worldliness, caste, creed and sensuality; and realize one's connection with the Truth. It focuses on personal experience. Many spiritual traditions, accordingly, share a common spiritual theme: the "path" of perceiving and internalizing one's "true" nature and relationship to God, to the universe and to life, and of becoming free of the “egoic” self in favor of being fully one's "true" "self .”

Spirituality has to do with the "spirit" of our life - with the way in which we live out our relationship with God: our way of being spirit filled. Richard McBrien writes in Catholicism (1980):

To be "spiritual" means to know, and to live according to the knowledge, that there is more to life than meets the eye. To be "spiritual" means, to know, and to live that God is present to us in grace as the principle of personal, interpersonal, social and even cosmic transformation. To be "open to the Spirit" is to accept explicitly who we are and who we are called to become…

Spirituality is a path to God and to become God-like. Some Indian traditions define spirituality (Sanskrit: adhyatma) as that which pertains to the self or soul (Sanskrit: atman). According to Ursula King, it is understood "anthropologically as an exploration into what is involved in becoming fully human”, and fully alive (spirit-filled). In this respect, it is a supportive mechanism even in the workplace.

God is Spirit. That is how Jesus explains it to the Samaritan woman: “The hour is coming, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for God seeks such as these to worship him. ‘God is spirit’, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24). ‘God is Love’ (1 John. 4: 8,16) and ‘God is Light’ (1 John. 1:5).

God is beyond form, space, time, sex, caste, color, religion and so on. The word ‘spirit’ has to do with wind; with the air we breathe in, and therefore with life. The spirit is life. Spirituality unfolds life that calls for transcendence: experience, awareness and appreciation of life beyond self. It helps a person to experience God as truth, love and peace. It takes him or her to something greater and higher. It takes a person beyond his or her egocentric nature and fills him with an other-centric attitude.

The Tamil Poet, Thirumular explains in his thought provoking Thirumanthiram that the Omnipotent cannot be transcribed in a single place nor can he be measured, nor has he any names but can only be experienced. God is love. It is only the ignorant who think that Love and God are two different things. Only few understand that the Divine is nothing but Love. Those who understand this become saints. He has no beginning or end and is also timelessness. In spiritual ecstasy, some experience the Divine as Abba, some as Spouse, some as Lover, some as Friend and so on.

Spirituality points to something central to human life. It is the experience of being unique, being human, being something – a power, energy, presence, drive – that shapes one’s actions and cultivates his or her life. It is what St. Augustine called “restlessness”. It is a path to God to become gradually God-like. The great scientist, Albert Einstein, had once said that his every effort was to “know God’s thoughts”. Spirituality is to be God–intoxicated as it happened in an ardent atheist, Spinosa’s life.

For Mahatma Gandhi, God is Life, Truth, and Light. He is Love. He is the Supreme Good. Gandhi could see that, in the midst of death, life persists, in the midst of untruth, truth persists; in the midst of darkness, light persists. He experienced God through service of humanity, for he knew that “God was neither in heaven, nor down below, but in every one.”

The unknown monk of the 12th century lucidly explains the unfolding of spirituality. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town, and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only one I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that, if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world."

We often don’t realize that transforming the world starts with transforming ourselves. Human persons are endowed with the greatest responsibility of preserving and promoting life. That is the mission given to every human person by the Divine. Spirituality helps persons to realize that mission, to become leaders and to reach out to fellow persons in love and service. For service to humanity is service to God. Many political, religious and business leaders succeed in deceiving people, especially the poor. But they cannot deceive their conscience.

The famous US President, Abraham Lincoln, was also a spiritual leader. During the terrible American civil war, when his secretary of State, Stanton, said, “Mr. President, I hope God is on our side”, Lincoln gently replied, “My dear chap, it is more important that we are on God’s side”. As Sri Aurobindo describes, “All depend on the spirit in which a thing is done, the principle on which it is built, and the use to which it is turned”.

An important dimension of spirituality is an awakened consciousness. St. Ignatius of Loyola speaks of this aspect in his Spiritual Exercises as “seeing God in everything. God dwells in all creatures – in plants giving them life, in animals conferring upon them sensation, in human persons bestowing understanding. He also works and labours in all living creatures”. The Upanishads describe “Cosmic Consciousness”, as being present in all life and matter.

A guru once gave a test to his disciples. He gave them each a dove and told them to kill the doves where no one could see them. Only one of them returned to the guru and said, "I searched everywhere but could not find an unseen place to kill the bird, because even in the lonely places the bird was seeing me and I was seeing the bird and I felt that God was seeing both of us.” God is ever present in all things and everywhere.

People can be classified into three kinds as St. Ignatius explains in his Exercises. They can belong to any walk of life – religious, business persons, teachers, workers, students and so on. Their goal in life is the attainment of life-satisfaction through perfect service to God and humanity. To achieve this goal, they must be ready to sacrifice anything that stands in the way. No matter how entangled a person is in secular pursuits, he has the disposition to achieve the goal.

Suppose that each of these three kinds of persons has an equal sum of money and has an unreasonable affection for the amount. Any inordinate attachment produces inner disturbances and consequently loss of peace. All three types want to get rid of this inordinate attachment to achieve the goal. But, they differ in the means used.

Any thing I possess outside of my mind and will, and to which I am strongly attached, would give me comfort, pleasure and joy. It can be anything: money or cultural possessions or business, or certain attitudes or even spiritual things. My will may become more or less bound to any of these. But when, on reflection, I discover that my attachment is inordinate, I am faced with the decision of either compromising or going “all out” in ridding myself of the disorderly affection. According to St. Ignatius, unless I am ready to be rid of the thing itself, I am not really sincere to myself.

The first of these three kinds of persons is unwilling to use any means to attain the goal. Until death they fail in the fundamental prudence to use suitable means to sacrifice the sum of money. A variety of reasons may be given for this failure: slothfulness, or avarice, or fear, or lack of self-confidence, or lack of conviction, or lack of faith and so on.

The second ones of these three kinds are compromisers: they want to be rid of the internal attachment and also retain the sum of money. They want to shape the course of Providence to suit them, instead of adapting themselves to the demands of Providence. It may well be that the sum of money to which a person is now attached, may be kept or continued without sacrificing, and detachment is still achieved. But if one is sincere in wanting to be freed of the psychological burden, he must be willing to dispose of the sum, which causes the inordinate interior effect.

The third type of persons has the generosity to dispose of the money and to shake off the dangerous affection. They are not satisfied with a minimal service, but want to do whatever is more conducive to the service of God and humanity.

Spirituality is emptying of self. It has no boundaries. It makes persons active and alive, transcendent and joyful. The only source of joy and happiness is the “Spirit” (God), the Aatman. It is the nature of Sat – Chit – Aanand (Existence – Knowledge – Bliss).

Bramabandha Upadhyaya adopted the vision of Saccidananda as expressive of the Christian mystery of God as Trinity. “I bow to Him who is Being, Consciousness and Bliss. I bow to Him whom worldly minds loathe, whom pure minds yearn for, the Supreme Abode. He is the Supreme, the Ancient of days, the Transcendent, Indivisible Plenitude, and Immanent yet above all things.”

That reminds me of a story from one of Fr. Anthony De Mello’s books about a Salt Doll. The Salt Doll wanted to know who he was and so he went about asking people. One day he encountered the ocean and was impressed by its vast beauty. So he asked it if it knew who he was. The ocean said, “Come in and see for yourself.” The salt doll entered into the ocean and was carried by the waves. Just as the last part of the salt was about to dissolve, he said, “Now I know who I am!” I am a Salt Doll. But I am afraid of dissolving, of course.

As a Tamil poetic work, Purananuru proclaims, ‘To us, all villages and towns are one and all persons are kin.’ “The hallmark of spirituality is responsiveness to the given context….” affirms Swami Agnivesh, a spiritual leader of the marginalized and bonded labourers. “The spiritually enlightened person cannot remain indifferent to the problems and sufferings of others. Justice becomes the most authentic expression of spirituality in the social context.”

Spirituality is not opposed to religion. It is regarded sometimes not as religion per se, but as the active and vital energy that transforms life. It is also not identical with religion. As William Irwin Thompson put it, "Religion is the form, spirituality takes in civilization". It is also regarded as a two-stroke process: the "upward stroke" of inner growth, changing oneself as one changes one's relationship with the external universe; and the "downward stroke" of manifesting improvement in the physical reality around oneself as a result of the inward change. We all have spirituality whether we are religious or not. It is that which unites all as one human family, prevents us from disintegrating and puts people in harmony with the universe.

Osho Rajneesh, a controversial Indian Guru, who was based in Pune, used to comment about spiritual leaders: ‘out of one hundred masters, there is only one Master, ninety-nine are only teachers. The teacher is necessarily learned; for the Master ... it is not a necessity... The Master is a rebel. He lives out of his own being, he is spontaneous, outspoken, constructively critical, not traditional…’.

The earth is one, but the world is divided. Spiritual leaders therefore should come together and take a bold stand against corruption, injustice, and communal violence, and promote justice, harmony and peace. In a climate of acute crisis, they must show the way to the future. They must promote a sound and acceptable spirituality at the political and corporate levels to liberate and empower politicians and business leaders through a sense of shared purpose. Such a sense of purpose is a pre-requisite for good governance, national unity and overall development.


Ignatian Spirituality
A Pathway to God
Fr. Pierre Jacob, SJ

The spring from which Ignatian spirituality flows is the core experience he had in his life, his God-encounter in Christ, a conversion-experience. This faith experience is the wellspring, these experiences strengthened him then and always gave him such a strength in his faith that he had often thought to himself: “If there were no Scriptures to teach me these matters of faith, I would be resolved to die for them, solely because of what I had seen” (T 29.9). He went on deepening this experience all through his life and he intended his brothers and sisters to undergo the same for themselves.

This is the purpose of the Spiritual Exercises: “When he noticed some movements in his soul and found them useful, he thought they might also be useful for others, and so he put them in writing” (T 99.2). From the start he wanted to help others and this help was very specific. He wanted to help them to encounter the God he had encountered, an encounter that had set him free, saved him from himself, from his vain glory and sensuality.

“Up to the age of twenty-six, he was a man given to the follies of the world; and what he enjoyed the most was exercising with arms; having a great and foolish desire to win fame” (T 1.1). After his conversion, he was convinced that he had nothing better to share and to give to this world, to his brothers and sisters, than the Good News and the effective experience that God loves and pardons this world and them. Any experience where one intimately knows oneself to be loved and pardoned can become a pathway to God.

One does not approach this spirituality, or any real spirituality for that matter, with the head, but one enters it with one’s whole being. A spirituality is a sadhana, a way of living, a way of proceeding, a pathway to God, as expressed time and again in his writings. A spirituality is something that you do, that you practice. Ignatius speaks of spiritual exercises (S.E. 1). It is a wisdom, a practical knowledge, not an abstract or theoretical one (a “savoir faire” not a “savoir”). It is the fruit of a commitment, “For it is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and relish of the truth” (S.E. 2).

Aware that he is a sinner who only merits to be judged and condemned, and rightly so, Ignatius is surprised and filled with wonder when the Good News strikes him that he is personally loved and pardoned by God in and through the crucified and risen Lord (S.E. 53). Everything: angels, saints, fruits and flowers, and the whole created universe reveal this love to him (S.E. 60; 234). The angels and saints become the great intercessors. Ignatius begins to live with all those who, like Mary, said ‘yes’ to God in Christ. This is one vein of his being a man of the Church, a member of the community of those who keep the memory of Christ alive. However frail they are, they still labor to say ‘yes’. It is a community that is united with those who have preceded them in the faith: the communion of the saints.

He knows he has a debt of gratitude (S.E. 61, 71). This fills him with a joy and peace the world cannot give nor take away, and it is at the heart of what he calls ‘consolation’. The crucified and risen Lord is the consoler (S.E. 224).

The individual and collective misery and sin of this world are not the last word. God’s abiding love and pardon is. This is reason enough to live for the greater glory of God, to show Him reverence and to serve Him (S.E. 23). Seeing that nothing is outside the reach of God’s love and pardon is the source of what he calls ‘devotion’, the capacity to find God in everything, even in the prison of one’s selfishness and in the exile of one’s pride (S.E. 47. 5-6).

Rooted and grounded in this love and pardon, he feels impelled to be totally available to God and to His will (S.E. 5; 97). This magnanimity will inspire his prayer and action: ‘Take Lord, receive…’ (S.E. 234). Desirous to be Christ’s companion so as to live a life shared together with him, Ignatius is eager to be placed with the Son who carries the Cross (S.E. 95.5; 195-7 & 167), i.e. who, with love, suffers human refusal and so is victorious over it: our victory is the faith.

He wants to relate to the world and its peoples the way God relates to it. God-Trinity, in the contemplation of the Incarnation, looks at this world and sees that it does not respond to His intention while creating it. Yet, He responds neither with a destructive violence, nor by withdrawal from it, nor with a call for moral rearmament. Rather, He decides to get involved. The second person will become man in Jesus to reveal how man lives according to God’s heart, intention and will: total self-gift in love, till the point of giving his life. Like Mary, he wants to co-operate with God, present and active in this world and its history (S.E. 101-109).

The meeting place of God and man is through fellow human beings - to love even to the point of giving one’s life for others. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. In no way does Ignatius want to get away from this world (fuga mundi) but he clearly sees that there are two ways of living in this world: according to the standard of Christ or of Lucifer (S.E. 136-147). The problem is not the world, but the way we relate to it and he wants to relate to it as does God-Trinity, revealed in Christ.

To contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life (S.E. 261-312), to look at how he behaves, to listen to what he says and, with a single purpose “to follow and imitate Our Lord” (S.E. 109), along with being conformed to him (S.E. 197; 203), is central to his spirituality. To imbibe Christ and to be transformed into him is the abiding fruit of that first look at the time of conversion (S.E. 53), sustained throughout life.

Contemplating how God is present and active in the world and in history, which He beholds in his love and pardon, Ignatius joins God in being present and active in the world. He becomes a contemplative in action, “in everything to love and to serve his Divine Majesty” (S.E. 230-237). His is an incarnational spirituality as it espouses God’s outreach to the world (S.E. 116). His is a spirituality of the Cross that sees in the weakness of the Cross the manifestation of the glory of God’s love and pardon (S.E. 196). His is a sacramental spirituality and this is the second vein that makes him a man of the Church. The Church is sacrament and thus is an efficacious sign of God’s presence and action in this world. God works and manifests his glory in our frailty - human beings whom He loves till the end. His power manifests itself in our weakness.

In biblical terms, covenanted with God through the gratuitous election by which he knows himself to be loved and pardoned, Ignatius ‘chooses’ (‘election’ in the sense of the S. E.) to let this love rule his life. He is, like Christ, a man led by the Spirit, missioned to his brothers and sisters to minister to them with a love that serves and pardons.

When General Congregation 32 asked itself what the identity of the Jesuit is, it fell back on this experience. “What is it to be a Jesuit? It is to know that one is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius was: Ignatius who begged the Blessed Virgin to “place him with her Son” and who then saw the Father himself ask Jesus, carrying the Cross, to take this pilgrim into his company. What is it to be a companion of Jesus today? It is to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and the struggle for justice which it includes.” (Decree 2, 1-2).


Spirituality for Life and Leadership
A Model

Mission I
Person- Family
Mission II
Mission III
Person – Universe
Mission IV
  Contact with God   Appreciation   Caring   Accountability   Agent of Peace
  Faith   Caring   Commitment   Agent of Growth   Awareness
  Hope   Charity   Family gatherings   Commitment   Citizenship
  Love   Compassion   Family Prayer   Honesty   Concern
  Loyalty   Forgiveness   Forgiveness   Integrity   Disciplined
  Meditation   Gratitude   Gathering   Leadership   Empathy
  Prayer   Honesty   Honesty   Loyalty   Excellence
  Reverence (Bhaktih)   Humanity   Love   Perseverance   Freedom

  Seeing God in

  Integrity   Loyalty   Respect   Good Actions
  Simplicity   Kindness   Patience   Responsibility   Harmony
  Trust   Love   Respect   Service   Humour
  Purity   Patience   Sacrifice   Team Spirit   Leadership
  Authenticity   Purity   Service   Boldness   Letting go of-self
  God-centered   Respect   Suffering     Loyalty
  Self-Discernment   Sincerity   Transparency     Meaningfulness
  Conservation   Consistency   Unity     Optimism
  Self-Emptying   Spontaneity       Positive Outlook
    Maturing       Service
          Holistic Approach
This model is not exhaustive. You can keep adding values and qualities to the Vision and Missions. Compiled by Fr. Felix Raj, SJ.

Person, 2. Persons, 3. Family, 4. Institution, 5. Society (universe)


Spiritual Growth

Every day more than 200 million children around the world – one in very six between the ages of 5 and 17 – go to work instead of to school. According to the International Labor Organization, nearly 171 million children are engaged in hazardous work, of which 111 million are younger than 15. Some 8.4 million children are trapped in the worst forms of child labor, including slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, forced military recruitment, prostitution and pornography.

Other publications by Fr. Felix Raj:

  1. “Secularists All – A concept more political than philosophical”, editorial article in The Statesman, December 31, 2007, Kolkata

  2. “Asia is One – Single Currency can facilitate Unity”, editorial article in the Statesman, March 18, 2008, Kolkata.

  3. Indian Economy: Economic Ideas, Development and Financial Reforms – Essays in Honour of Prof. Raj Kr Sen, Deep & Deep Publications Ltd, New Delhi Pp.392. Rs 1,500/-


Special Lecture and Discussion

The Goethals Indian Library & Research Society organized a special Lecture and Discussion on "THE PRACTICE OF RELIGION IN AN ERA OF TERRORISM" on 8th January, 2008 (Tuesday) at 4.00 p.m. in St. Xavier's College Central Parlour.

Prof. Dr. GEORG ESSEN, a renowned scholar and theologian from Radboud State University of Nijmegen, Netherlands, addressed the topic in terms of dialogue between faith, reason and humanism to nurture a civilization in defence of human dignity.

Many students and teachers actively participated in the discussion and was well appreciated.


Book Donation

The Library thanks Sri. N. G. Chandrashekaraiah, Bangalore for donating the book “Kailas – Manasarovar” by Swami Pranavananda FRGS, Bangalore, 2007.

The Library is grateful to the Missionaries of Charity, Kolkata for the donation of the book Mother Teresa : Come be my Light - The Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta” edited and with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., USA, 2007.

Next Issue of Goethals News will focus on Churches in Kolkata. Readers are welcome to send contributions for publications.


New Arrivals

Some Indian Theological Reflections, By Aleaz, K. P. Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2007.

An Indian Jesus from Sankara’s Thought, By Aleaz, K. P. Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 1997.

Rabindranath Tagore’s Concepts – State, Nation and Nationalism by Mukherjee, Kedar Nath, Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2003.

The Story of Museums, by Sen, Sujit Narayan, Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2006.

A Christian Response to the Hindu Philosophical Systems by Nehemiah Nilkantha, Sastri Coreh, by Aleaz, K. P. Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2003.

Chaitanya and his Companions, by Sen, Sahib Chandra Rai, R. N. Bhattacharya, Calcutta, 1995.

The Holy Buddha, by Ahir D. C. B. R. Publishing Corporation, Delhi, 2007.

Indian Philosophy in Modern Times, by Chande M. B. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2000.

Tribal Development, by Rao Sundaram & Reddi Majji Sankara, The Associated Publishers, Ambala, 2007.

Gods and Heroes of East and West, by Vannucci Marta, D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 2007.

Life and Teachings of Adi Sankaracarya, by Victor, P. George, D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 2002.

Voice of Senses Edited by Saraswati Baidyanath, D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd. New Delhi, 2007.

Theology of Religions, by Aleaz K. P. Moumita Publishers and Distributors, Calcutta 1998.

Rabindra Nath Tagore, ed. by Gajrani Shiv and Ram S. Commonwealth Publishers, New Delhi, 2006.


Researchers at the Goethals

Dr. Joshi Sashi, New Delhi, on Mission in Asia (India, China, Japan).

Mr. Begrich Roger, Switzerland, on Adivasi & Alcoholic, Chotanagpur.

Prof. Maitreyee Choudhury, Darjeeling, on Geography / Himalayan Studies.

Prof. Syiemlieh David R. Shillong, on Christianity in North-East India.

Mr. Ayushman Datta, Kolkata, on Astrology, Numerology and Archeology.

Mr. Clement Rudolph Lakra, Kolkata, on Astrology & History.

Dr. Parna Ghose, Kolkata, on Women Travelogue writers of Colonial India, 19th Century.

Ms. Sujata Bhattacharyya, Kolkata, on Women Travelogue writers in colonial India, 19th Century.

Fr. Cherian Varicatt, Kerala, on History of 19th Century Malabar Coast.

Fr. Jose, Darjeeling, on Himalayan Region.


Mails & EMails

I would like to express my gratitude for keeping Bengali Books in the library.
Pintu Ghughu
, Kolkata.

I am writing from Madras. In your library you have a three volume set called Natesan's National Biographies. I would like to have photocopy of just one small section from that book, the biography of V Bhashyam Aiyangar, and send it to me.

I am currently in the process of gathering materials for writing a book. Those pages would be useful to me for my research. Your help would be deeply appreciated. As far as my visits to all the libraries in Madras go, I can say with certainty that the three volumes are nowhere to be seen in Madras. Hence my request to you. I only want to pages containing the biography of V Bhasyam Ayyangar.
Suresh Balakrishnan
, Madras.


Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, St. Xavier’s, 30 Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata-700 016, India.
Tel: 0091-33-2280 1919; email: goethals@vsnl.com  Web-site: www.goethals.in 
Director: Dr. Fr. Felix Raj, SJ; Staff: Mr. Sunil Mondol and Debu Mondal.



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