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MN Roy: brief outline of life-events and thoughts- Part 06

MN Roy: brief outline of life-events and thoughts- Part 06

Continued from Part 05

Mexico years – Part Two

Apart from circulating in the Mexican high society, Roy began to frequent the meetings of various Socialist groups in Mexico City. He came in contact with many Socialist thinkers, journalists and party-worker. And, that re-kindled his interest in Socialism.

Among the Socialists he met, during his initial months in Mexico, was Ignazio Santibanez – an elderly lawyer and a noted Marxist of his time; and, also the leader of the local Socialist Party.  He had read and liked Roy’s articles published on El Pueblo.  Santibanez invited Roy to the meeting of the executives of his small Socialist party; and, also introduced him to the Party members.

Another socialist with whom he got close was the American, Charles Francis Phillips. He and his wife Elsinore had escaped to Mexico after evading arrest for organizing pacifist demonstrations on the campus of the Columbia University. Charles Francis Phillips was working in Mexico, posing himself  as Manuel Gomez. He, as Manuel Gomez, was the editor of the English language section of the Spanish newspaper El Heraldo de Mexico; and. under his influence, the paper acquired a socialist tinge. Some of the material was taken directly from Soviet books and articles. Later in 1920, under the alias Frank Seaman, he attended the Second World Congress of the Communist International held in Russia.  And, in 1964 Phillips under the name of Gomez, he published a detailed interview in the Survey, in which , among other matters, he gave his recollections of Roy and Borodin in Mexico.

At the invitation of Ignazio Santibanez, Roy joined the Mexican Socialist Party; and, was appointed as its propaganda secretary. The Party was still small. Manuel Gomez, one of its members, described it as ‘Cinco gatos ‘ (a bunch of five cats) , meaning it was just nothing and of no consequence.

Roy resolved to apply himself wholeheartedly to his new task; and worked hard for expansion of the Party. He was successful in augmenting its membership. He took an active part in the Mexican social revolutionary movement; and,  soon was in the front. This was his first experience in practical politics.

Mexico and its social environment sprinkled with socialists and radicals renewed his conviction in bringing about a social revolution. He began to associate himself actively with socialist groups, newspapers and propaganda work. For the first time in his life, Roy got involved in the political process of organizing a party; making speeches; educating the aspiring members; writing books and articles; and, editing magazines and periodicals. His latent organizational skills and literary talent found a new impetus and expression in Mexico.

Roy enjoyed his new experiences; and, threw himself wholeheartedly into the pool of political activity and social revolution in Mexico. His acquaintances of this busy period described Roy as “tall, slim, elegant and somber, deadly serious…, very brilliant, a fascinating personality (Charles Phillips); and, a person of boundless energy’ (Carleton Beals) .

Roy took the initiative to hold   First Conference of the Socialist Party of Mexico in December 1917. And, Roy, the al companero Indio (the Indian comrade), was nominated as the General Secretary of the New Party, which was re-named as the  El Partido Socialista Regional Mexico – Regional Socialist International. He not only offered to bear the entire costs of the conference, but also bought the Socialist party a printing press so that its organ, La Lucha de los clases (of which he was named the Editor) could be converted into a regular Weekly of eight pages.

At the conference, it was decided to draw up a programme to protect the labour class. The task of drafting the programme was entrusted to Roy. It was also decided to convene an International Conference to which delegates were to be invited from the different States of the Mexican Republic; and also from a number of Latin American countries.


In the meantime , the Mexican President Venustiano Carranza, ( 29 December 1859 – 21 May 1920)   who had been following Roy’s articles on El Pueblo was impressed with Roy’s stand on the Munroe Doctrine , criticising  the imperialist ambitions and its scramble for domination over colonies that caused the  War, which had  just ended.

Venustiano Carranza

Venustiano Carranza who became the President in 1915, after the revolution, had to contend with varied sorts of opposition from within and from outside his country. Public corruption was another major problem of Carranza’s presidency. A popular saying that was going around was : “The Old Man doesn’t steal; but he lets them steal”; and a new verb, carrancear  (to-let-steal) was coined.

Carranza an ardent nationalist was not a radical or a socialist. But, he was sincere about alleviating the problems of the working class; and made provisions in the draft constitution to protect the interests of the wage earners; and, to guarantee minimum wages. The Constitution he proposed was, of course, a mere intent than anything else, since its enforcement required a strong and committed government, which Carranza did not possess. For that, he asked for support from the Socialists.

Roy, who then was at the forefront of the Socialist movement in Mexico, was eager to offer support to the Carranza Government, with the hope that the radical principles of the constitution would be brought into practice. He initially met Elena Torres the young Editor of La Mujer Moderna (The Modern Woman) , who had been a Secretary to Carranza even before he became the President of the Mexican  Republic. She was now the President of the Women’s Club of Mexico.

Roy discussed with Elena Torres, the future of Socialist Party in Mexico. He also met in her residence, Don Manuel, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. And, through Don Manuel Roy met Carranza; and persuaded him to support the socialist movement ; and, to agree to “a programme of legislation for the protection of labour, particularly against exploitation by foreign imperialist capital”.

Roy also succeeded in gaining the support of Plutarco Elias Calles, a popular socialist leader, who later in 1924 was to be elected as the President of the Mexican Republic.

Roy had also suggested that a Latin American League should be formed as an opposition to the Pan-American conference sponsored by the U.S.A. The idea appealed to President Carranza.

Roy then suggested to Don Manuel, the setting up of a working class organization; and, followed it up by submitting an outline of the labour policy for consideration of the President.

In the meantime, Roy, at the instance of General Alvarado, began writing a series of articles in the English section of the Daily El Heraldo de Mexico , edited by his friend Charlie Phillips. Roy used the columns of the Daily to put forth the socialist view, and to highlight the evils of American Imperialism in Latin American countries. His articles were later brought out in book-form under the title  El Camino.

He now turned to the socialists and other radicals to organize a broad-based movement which would oppose the U.S. and support the Carranza Government. For that purpose, Roy drafted a manifesto for the proposed socialist conference to which delegates were to be invited from the different States of the Republic, and from a number of Latin American countries.


Then, in the summer of 1919 , came Michael Borodin. He was a huge influence on Roy’s life; thoroughly changed his ways of thinking; his life; and his political career. The two grew into great friends; helped each other; and, at crucial points they saved each other’s life.

[Mikhail Markovich Borodin (July 9, 1884 – May 29, 1951) was a prominent Agent of the Communist International (abbreviated as Comintern and also known as Third International (1919–1943)

Borodin1Michael Borodin, the Bolshevik leader whose original name was Mikhail Markovich Gruzenberg, born into a Jewish rabbinical family in Yanovichi, near Vitebsk in Byelorussia, in 1884, had joined the Bolsheviks in 1903. And, he became a close associate and follower of Vladimir Lenin in his various revolutionary activities. Borodin, besides being a revolutionary was an exceptional intellectual with wide experience. He had certain charm and sophistication about him.  Borodin also possessed a striking physical appearance (he was, according to one description, ‘a man with shaggy black hair brushed back from his forehead, a Napoleonic beard, deep-set eyes, and a face like a mask’)

During his Bolshevik underground activities in 1905, Borodin escaped from Switzerland, avoiding arrest, and moved on to London; and, from there to USA. There in America, Borodin, it is said, studied law;  and,  with  his wife lived in Chicago as Mr. and Mrs. Gruzenberg posing as English teachers for immigrant children. They had two children.  While in Chicago, he became a member of the American Socialist Party.  Borodin returned to Russia after the October Revolution of 1917 and worked for the Comintern, in the foreign relations department. But, his wife and family continued to stay in Chicago. During Lenin’s period, Borodin rose in the Party hierarchy; and, also engaged himself in translating Lenin’s ‘Communism: a Left-Wing Disorder’ into English. Lenin had also asked Borodin to organize communist activities in the U.S. and Latin America.

After his return to Russia, Borodin was sent back to America, in 1919, on a secret mission, to assist the Russian trade delegation. Moscow had sent him with Tsarist Crown jewels worth about One Million Rubles to sell them in America ; and,  to use the sale proceeds for the maintenance of the Trade Mission in Washington  as also for  the development of the Communist movement in America.

Borodin had sewed the crown jewels in the bottom of two suit cases. On the journey, at Vienna, he befriended a young former Officer of the defeated Imperial Army of Austria.  He was disillusioned and embittered; and was sailing to the New World in search of new life and fortune. The two had, in fact, boarded a trans-Atlantic cargo ship bound for West Indian Island of Curacao  . On the way, at Haiti, the ship was raided by American Custom officials and searched. The ‘passengers’ were off-loaded as ‘undesirable aliens’; and, held in custody pending investigation. And, Borodin promptly slipped away after entrusting the suit cases to the care of the former Army Officer of Austria, with instructions to deliver them to Borodin’s wife in Chicago. Borodin, somehow, managed to reach Jamaica; and from there escaped into New York.

That left Borodin stranded in New York searching for the missing suit cases. The New York Police got suspicious of Borodin’s movements. Borodin fearing arrest, escaped into Mexico and strayed into Mexico City under an assumed name (Mr. Brantwein), without the jewels, without any money and without any friends.

There in Mexico, while in hiding, he learnt of the Socialist Party and its Hindu Secretary. He sought out Roy and met him. That meeting and the mutual acquaintance proved to be very crucial in the lives of the both.

After his sojourn in Mexico, Borodin returned to Russia; and, was again sent on a mission to Britain.   In 1922, he was arrested in Glasgow. He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for incitement; and, was then deported.

From 1923 to 1927 Borodin was an adviser to Sun Yat-Sen, leader of the Central Committee of the Kuomintang, in China, where he was held in high esteem. When , in 1927 , the Kuomintang came under the domination of its right wing, led by Chiang Kai-Shek, Borodin was arrested and forced to leave the country.

He went back to Russia to become the Deputy Commissar for labour.  But after 1932, he spent most of his time working as a journalist. He successively served as the Deputy Director of the Tass news agency, Editor–in-chief of the Soviet Information Bureau, and as the Editor of Moscow News.

Finally, in the anti-Semitic repression campaigns conducted under Stalin’s and Beria’s leadership, during 1949, Borodin and the entire editorial staff of the paper, including the American journalist  Anna Louise Strong, were arrested by the secret police . Anna Louise Strong, was accused of espionage and expelled from the USSR.

Borodin fell victim to Stalin’s reign of terror and his program of anti-semantic–repression. And, in the early 1950’s, Borodin was arrested and sent to the infamous Lefortovo, a prison in Moscow used by NKVD for interrogations with torture of political prisoners.

It is said that later on 29th May, 1951 Borodin died , following torture, at the Siberian  Prison in  Yakutsk* ,  the coldest town on earth by the river Lena , where over half a million prisoners of war and political dissidents  perished.

However, in the early 1960’s, under Leonid Brezhnev, Borodin along with other victims of Stalinist repression was posthumously rehabilitated.]

[* While speaking of the the Siberian  Prison in  Yakutsk*  it reminds me that, Interestingly, on October 17, 1970, Dr Satyanarayan Sinha, in his deposition  before the Khosla Commission, constituted by Indira Gandhi, (which investigated the reports about the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose), stated  that Netaji did not die in the plane crash ; but, was imprisoned by the Soviets in Siberia. Dr Satya Narayan Sinha testified that in 1954, he met a certain Kozlov in Moscow, who told him that Netaji, was lodged in Cell No. 45 at Yakutsk Prison in Siberia.  However, the Commission, in its wisdom, chose to ignore Dr. Sinha’s testimony. Please click here. ]


Borodin , after he lost the Tsarist Crown jewels, and after escaping from American police, found shelter in Mexico City. While he was hiding there, Borodin came across articles criticizing Manuel Mendez in Gale’s Magazine, as also those written by Manuel Mendez in El Heraldo de Mexico. When he contacted Manuel Gomez, the Editor of El Heraldo de Mexico, Borodin learnt that Manuel Mendez was in fact the Hindu General Secretary of the Socialist Party.

And, through Gomez, Borodin met MN Roy in the summer of 1919, posing as Mr. Brantwein, a commercial agent. He then slowly revealed his identity; and narrated his sad story and his escapades; and, how he was hiding in Mexico stranded without money, without shelter and without friends. Borodin assured Roy and Gomez that he was their friend.

Roy was exited at meeting a Bolshevik who participated in Russian revolution along with legends like Lenin, Trotsky, et al and getting first-hand information of the Russian revolution.

After he learnt about Borodin’s plight, Roy invited Borodin to stay in his house and also gave him money for his expenses. Thereafter, he also sent some money to Borodin’s wife in Chicago; as also to the Trade Centre in Washington.

(Later, Roy wrote:  my involvement with Bolshevism started with a donation to the cause).

He also arranged for the search of the missing Austrian Army Officer and the two suit cases. The Officer could not be traced. But, the suit cases, it is said, eventually reached Borodin’s wife at Chicago.

[The story that unfolded after Borodin’s flight from Haiti was:  the Army Officer, who was investigated by the American Customs and released, continued to live in Haiti; but, as a hermit, in a hut on the beach. And, when he left Haiti, after some time, he left behind the suit cases as, by then, he had lost interest in all worldly possessions. Thus, the suit cases were misplaced; and, their track was lost for some time. But, again the Ex-Army Officer came back, picked up his belongings along with   Borodin’s two suit cases and reached New York. Since he was looking like a ‘total nut’, no one bothered to question him or check his baggage. Eventually, he delivered the suit cases to Mrs. Gruzenberg at Chicago.

Later, after Borodin reached Moscow, the Party charged him with theft and misappropriation of Crown Jewels. He was likely to be convicted. But, Roy, who then was also in Moscow, testified on behalf of Borodin; explained the circumstances ; and, pleaded for clearing the charges made against Borodin. Mrs. Gruzenberg was forthwith summoned to Moscow along with the precious cargo. Fortunately, their contents were intact. But, the question whether Borodin intended to defraud; and, let his wife retain the jewels was still hanging.

And, based on the supporting evidence provided by Roy, which established his honesty, Borodin was cleared of the charges; and, his life was saved. Their friendship thickened further. Roy wrote in his Memoirs that was his ‘second contribution to the cause of revolution’]


Roy took a strong liking to Borodin who was charming, intelligent, articulate and sophisticated. Borodin stayed with the Roys’ at their house in Colonia Roma, till his departure from Mexico in November 1919.  Roy and Borodin became good friends.  

[And later they worked together in Moscow and China. Despite differences on some policy issues from time to time, the two continued to be great friends throughout Roy’s association with Comintern.

Later in 1929 during the regime of Stalin, when Roy incurred the wrath of Stalin and was in danger of being arrested, Borodin saved Roy’s life by arranging for Roy’s escape from Moscow to Germany. Borodin repaid his debt by saving Roy from certain imprisonment and execution.]

While Borodin was staying with Roys’ ,  they spent long nights, after dinner, discussing the theory and practice of Communism; and the philosophical aspects of Marxism. At times, Roy sought to resist Borodin’s arguments with a defense of cultural nationalism. And; Borodin would argue back saying that Roy was attempting to defend a faith in which he  no longer firmly believed

Borodin was greatly responsible for Roy’s conversion to Communism. Borodin was a very learned and a cultured intellect. And Roy was a willing student. Roy learnt from him not only the intricacies of dialectical materialism ; but also the greatness of European culture.

He said of Borodin: “He initiated me into the intricacies of Hegelian Dialectics and its materialist version, as the key to Marxism (Memoirs p.195).

And, that broke his resistance to the materialism of the Marxist thought. Roy now became a materialist in his philosophical thought. Borodin had also helped Roy to outgrow his cultural parochialism. It was a leap from die-hard nationalism to communism’.

Till he met Borodin, Roy still believed, though waveringly, in the necessity of armed insurrection. But from Borodin he ‘learned to attach greater importance to an intelligent understanding of the idea of revolution. The propagation of the idea was more important than arms’.

It was Borodin who convinced Roy that the old methods of insurgence do not lead anywhere; and, what is needed is a revolution that is born out of the urge and out of the hearts of the common people. Roy then was gripped by the idea of an Indian revolution that brings together all classes exploited by British Imperialism. Borodin taught him about universal implications of class struggle and of the dialectical processes of history.  Roy thereafter envisioned not mere national independence,  but a social revolution with a viable economic structure that takes care of the interests of all the oppressed classes.

Roy also learnt from Borodin the need for a worldwide social revolution; and the tactics and strategies for organizing such an order. He, thus, began to grasp the Universal implications of class struggle and of the dialectical processes of history.

From Borodin, Roy learnt Marxism as a philosophy of life. What impressed Roy most was Marx’s famous Eleventh Thesis of Feuerbach, wherein Marx enunciates that philosophy should no longer confine itself to interpreting the world, but should try to change it.

This interpretation of the object of philosophy assumed profound significance for Roy. All the Schools of the Indian Philosophies discussed about freedom from sorrow and the ultimate release of Man from every sort of bondage. They were rather indifferent to the world we live in ;  because, the world (Samsara) that holds back should eventually be renounced.  Roy never thereafter laid faith on renunciation of the world; and totally rejected it as vain and selfish.  He developed a conviction that changing the world is within the human capability; and, building an equitable, just and moral order that guarantees individual liberty in the society as the greatest good that one can hope to achieve.

Even during his later years, Roy continued to believe:  “A revolutionary is one who has got the idea that the world can be remade, made better than it is to-day ; and, that it was not created by a supernatural power, therefore, could be remade by human efforts.”

[Please  do check here for more]


Evelyn, Borodin and the Biblioteca Nacional were the source of his education.  Borodin also helped Roy in his discovery of   European civilization and culture; and Roy’s liberation from ‘cultural parochialism’.  He said: My lingering faith in the special genius of India faded as I learnt from him the history of European Culture”

Roy, later, said: I acquired a new outlook on life; there was a revolution in my mind – a philosophical revolution. It was more than a change in his political and revolutionary ideas. It transcended the frontiers of culture and nationalism.

Roy felt that he was free and heir to the entire human heritage; not hampered by national loyalties or boundaries.   He equated the two years in Mexico City with a life “through a couple of centuries of cultural history.”

By the time he left Mexico, Roy’s views about revolution had undergone a sea change. He wrote: I left the land of my re-birth as an intellectually free man, though with a new faith. I no longer believed in political freedom without the content of economic liberation and social justice. And. I had also realized the intellectual freedom from the bondage of all tradition and authority was the condition essential for any effective struggle for social emancipation.

Indeed, Borodin changed the course of Roy’s life. Later, in his Memoirs, Roy described the months the he spent with Borodin as the most memorable period of his life. It was at this time, he wrote, the foundations of my subsequent intellectual development were laid.


Roy then introduced Borodin to Carranza the Mexican President, to the important officials in the Government and to the members of the Socialist Party. Carranza was impressed with Borodin. At the banquet hosted in his honour, Borodin declared that ‘the new regime in Russia fully sympathized with the struggles of the Latin American people against Imperialism. With that purpose a Latin American Bureau of the Communist International should be established in Mexico’.

 And, at Borodin’s request, President Carranza allowed facilities for the Russian Government and the Communist Party to operate in Mexico; and  also to contact the West European Bureau of the Communist International through the Mexican Legion in  Holland.  Further, Mexico became the first nation to accord de facto recognition the Communist Government in Russia.  Thus with Roy’s assistance, the Bolsheviks were able to get a foothold in the New World. Borodin informed the Comintern about the help he received from Roy in various ways; and,  said his task of Party work would not have been possible without Roy’s help and generosity.

President Carranza also assured Roy of his Government’s support for conducting Socialist conference to which delegates from the different States of the Republic, and from a number of Latin American countries are to be invited.


The whole of Mexico was thrilled with the success of the Russian revolution. The Socialist groups in Mexico City were exited when they learnt of the presence in their midst of a Bolshevik emissary.

As the various leftist groups began talking about forming a new Socialist Party , Roy financed a small paper El Socialista, run by Francisco Cervantes Lopez , leader of a Marxist group.

There was a demand to affiliate the Mexican Socialist Party to the Communist International. With his conversion into the new-found-faith, Roy sought to gain control of the Mexican Socialist Party of which he was the Secretary; and convert it into a Communist organization. Linn A. E. Gale, however, was against Roy’s nomination; and , called Roy as ‘ an agent provocateur and a spy’.

 Borodin sprang to the defense of Roy saying ‘ Roy , who is an Indian  and has worked for over ten years among natives who possibly have more in common with the Mexican peons , is perhaps right in  trying to link up with masses  through the existing unions’.  Roy eventually succeeded in easing out his most serious rival,  the American, Linn A. E. Gale. But, Gale promptly named his own group as the Communist Party of Mexico.

From August, 25, 1919 to September 4 1919, Roy organized a marathon session of the National Congress of the Socialist Party of Mexico. Roy and Evelyn chaired most of the sessions.  Having failed to persuade the remaining members of the Socialist Party to change its name and its principles, Roy and his small band of six followers broke from the Socialist Party and formed a second Communist Party of Mexico

In a session presided over by Roy, it was declared that the Mexican Socialist Party would henceforth be the Communist Party of Mexico. And the session adopted the manifesto of the issued by the Comintern. The new found Communist Party of Mexico (Partido Comunista Mexicano- PCM) with its small membership was humorously described as ‘six members and a calico cat’. But, Roy’s group, more importantly, had the blessing of Borodin; and that greatly helped, later, in gaining affiliation with the Communist International. This was the first recognized Communist Party formed outside Russia

It was also decided to send a Mexican delegation to the Second Congress of the Comintern that was scheduled to take place in Russia during the following year, 1920. 

In the meantime, Borodin had been regularly sending to reports to Communist International (Comintern) about the developments in Mexico and about Roy’s role. Borodin was also anxious that Roy should attend the Second Congress and meet the leaders of the Russian revolution. And, Lenin, in appreciation of Roy’s efforts and help, invited him to attend the Second Congress of the Communist International to be held in Moscow during Spring of 1920.

Roy later attended the Congress representing the Communist Party of Mexico. That was a big turning point in the life of M.N. Roy. The invitation opened to Roy entry into a fascinating world of his heroes like Lenin, Trotsky and other leaders of the revolution.


The world witnessed great changes during and after the First World War. Russia saw the first revolution launched by the Bolsheviks in 1917, which saw the overthrow of the Czar and the capture of power by Lenin. And, starting from Mexico, the Russian Communist Party established contacts with revolutionaries throughout the world; and, got busy in setting up of the Communist Party outside Russia. M N Roy was very much a part of the expansion of the Communist Party.

Yet; it was not easy for Roy to decide to leave Mexico to which he had developed a strong attachment. Mexico had been very kind and hospitable to him. It had given him a new life, new perspective and new opportunities. It had transformed him from a wandering fugitive to a recognized and respected leader of a Political Party. For the first time in his life he had the support of people in high places, including the President of the country. He had felt safe among his friends, followers and the common people of Mexico. He knew that many would be unhappy at his decision to go away.

Borodin persuaded Roy to accept Lenin’s invitation, with the argument that revolutionary movements, whether in Mexico or in India, was parts of a global struggle which constituted the programme of the Communist International. Roy too was fascinated by the idea of working with the most celebrated revolutionary leaders that the world had ever known.  There was also a hope that Moscow, with the backing of Comintern, would provide him an opportunity to work more effectively towards Indian independence.

 [Further, after the end of the war and the defeat of Germany, Roy had no option but to turn to a new source of support for the revolutionary activities in India.]


Carranza had found in Roy a friend in need; and, perhaps wanted him to stay in Mexico as his friend till the end. Thus, when Roy begged for leave, Carranza, with a heavy heart gave his permission.  The Mexican friends and party men were not willing to him let go, either.

In his Memoirs, Roy paid rich tribute to Mexico and his gratefulness for its kindness and hospitality. He wrote with grace and affection for that country which he called as the land of his re-birth.

“As the day of my departure drew nearer, the feeling of loss grew heavier. I had been in Mexico for two and a half years. But it seemed to as if I had lived there since my childhood. I never had many personal friends. Mexican exuberance, heavily tinged with conventionality, though not always hypocritical, was incompatible with my temperament. Nevertheless, I could not possibly help being moved by the fact that it was an extremely hospitable country; the Government friendly beyond expectation and out of proportion for the little service I could render out of gratitude. And, a large number of highly placed individuals treated me with kindness, consideration and affection.

On the whole, it was a rich and a gratifying experience. In a sense, Mexico was the land of my re-birth.

It is true that before coming to Mexico, I had grown dissatisfied with ideas and ideals of my earlier life. But it was during my stay in Mexico that the new vision became clear and the dissatisfaction with the sterile past was replaced by conviction to guide me in a more promising future.

It was more than a change of political ideas and revolutionary ideas. I acquired a new outlook for life; there was a revolution in my mind – a philosophical revolution , which knew no finality. That fundamental change in the outlook of life enabled me to overcome the emotional attachment to the land of my re-birth.

It dawned on me that Nationalism, whether revolutionary, constitutional, cultural or political, relied mostly on emotion; because, it was intellectually weak. Its appeal, at home as well as at abroad, was not to the head, but to the heart. It tries to move, but not to convince.

I left the land of my re-birth , as an intellectually freeman, though with a new faith. The philosophical solvent of faith was inherent in itself. I no longer believed in political freedom without the content of economic liberation and social  justice. But, I had also realized the intellectual freedom – freedom from the bondage of tradition and authority – was the essential condition for any effective struggle for social emancipation.”


When Roy and Evelyn decided to accept the invitation from Lenin and travel to Moscow, the Mexican President Venustiano Carranza promptly arranged for issue of diplomatic passports to Roy and Evelyn as his special emissaries to travel to Moscow. The Mexico’s representatives in Europe were instructed to render any type of assistance that Roy and Evelyn might need.

In the Mexican diplomatic passports, provided by the President, their names were given as Senor and Senora Roberto Alleny Villa Garcia. Roy’s new alias was borrowed from the name of Jose Allen’s brother (Jose Allen had just then taken over as General Secretary of the new Communist Party of Mexico).  The Roys’ continued to use these passports in Europe , till their break-up in 1925-26.

It was decided that, for reasons of their safety, the Roys’ would not travel directly to Moscow; but, would reach Moscow via Cuba, Spain, and Germany. They would also spend more time in Berlin to gain good experience. It was also decided that Borodin would first leave for Europe along with Charles Phillips (under the name of Jesus Ramirez).  And, the departure of Roys’ would follow shortly afterwards: they were all to meet in Berlin , before going to Moscow.

Their departure from the house in CoIonia Roma was kept secret for a while by getting Carleton Beals to come and live there during the months of November and December, as a sort of decoy. The precaution was necessary to escape the attention of the British Secret Service.

At Carranza’s last meeting with Roy, the old man put his hand on Roy’s shoulder and with suppressed emotion, said, ”You are still very young. Don’t gamble with fate.” Carranza thereupon turned on his heels abruptly and walked away. And Roy’s dalliance with fate was only just about to begin.

(But, as the fate would have it ; in the 1920 Elections , Venustiano Carranza was  overthrown . And, he was later ambushed and treacherously murdered, while trying to escape. That was just a few months after the Roys’ departure from Mexico.)

Finally, in November 1919, after two and a half years in what he later called ‘the land of my rebirth’, Roy left with Evelyn from the port of Veracruz, Mexico’s oldest and largest port on the Eastern edge of the state of Veracruz along the Gulf of Mexico, on board the Spanish transatlantic liner, Alfonso XIII, carrying  Mexican diplomatic passports provided by the President, in which their names were given as Senor and Senora Roberto Alleny Villa Garcia.




1. Please see the interesting page “The awesome story behind the name of Mexico City´s wildest nightclub, M.N. Roy” which briefly presents the life of M N Roy in the form of Comic Strip. .. ” This is an attempt, through comics, to find resonance with a deeply unusual man and his ideas. It is, of course, a playful interpretation of his work rather than a scholarly analysis”.

2.Ten years after M.N. Roy had left Mexico, Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein (1898-1948), a Soviet film director and film theorist, a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage, visited Mexico, studied the society and made a film QUE VIVA MEXICO. At the outset, M.N. Roy was shown as one of the main builders of Mexican society. As , by then, Stalin had lost interest in Eisenstein and in Roy,  the picture was not released . Later, after the death of both Stalin and Eisenstein the picture was released in USA during November 1979 . And, it also earned an award.

 3. Another picture that was made on the life of M N Roy was Le Brahmane Du Komintern, a 128 minute film by French Director Vladimir Leon during 2006. The documentary focused on the period of Roy’s life, in Russia (intermittently leading a Comintern delegation in China). I wonder why its title carried the term Brahmin, because, by then, Roy had given up caste and religious affiliations. The film was released in France during 2007 (The documentary received a special award at the film festival at Marseille). The film was later dubbed into English, Spanish and Russian. The English version – ‘The Comintern Brahmin -The Untold Story of M.N.Roy – was released in India International Centre, New Delhi in March 2013.

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an extract from The Brahmin In the Comintern, a 2007 French documentary on M.N. Roy.

From Mexico to Russia, Germany, India, Vladimir Leo goes in search of a great adventurer-philosopher-revolutionary of Bengal: MN Roy. In the countries he visited, his memory seems to have almost completely vanished today, despite the important political role he could play. Founder of a communist party in Mexico for Zapata, leader of the Communist International in the early years of Soviet Russia, anti-Stalinist and anti-Nazi activist in Germany pre-war politician, philosopher and atheist in India independence, the official histories of these countries have preferred to delete the trace. Was it too loose? Was it too lonely? Vladimir Leon chronicles the life of this singular and modest hero who crossed all major milestones of our twentieth century. For this, he takes us on three continents, filming carefully the world as it is, echoing the story of this turbulent political past. In meetings of witnesses, direct or indirect, takes shape the fantastic geographical and philosophical trajectory of MN Roy, if humanly fragile, so farsighted.



Next Part

Sources and References

  1. M.N. Roy: A Political Biography by Samaren Roy; Oriental Longman ; 1997
  2. M N Roy by V.B. Karnik; National Book Trust; 1980
  3. Communism and Nationalism in India: M.N. Roy and Comintern Policy, 1920-1939 by John Patrick Haithcox; Princeton University Press; 2015
  4. Encyclopaedia of Eminent Thinkers, Volume 10by K. S. Bharathi; Concept Publishing Co; 1998
  5. Many pages from Wikipedia
  6. Pictures are from Internet

Posted by on January 13, 2016 in M N Roy


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