Subhash Chandra Bose: The ‘prince among patriot’

As we pay tribute to monumental patriot Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary today (January 23,) let’s take a moment to ponder what a man of unfathomable depth, profound knowledge, incredible intelligence and the riveting persona he was.  The central government has announced that Netaji’s birth anniversary will be celebrated as Parakram Diwas. There are few Indian icons around whom there is such vivid mythology and “life-after-life” as one biographer put it, as Netaji Subhash Bose. Leonard Gordon, who has written one of the standard biographies of Bose, noted in 1990 that Netaji’s story had “begun to resemble that of an Indian deity”. Not much has changed in 2021, the 125th birth anniversary of Bose. Given the immensity of Netaji’s contribution to India’s freedom, we time and again find ourselves in awe, and wonder what one can possibly say or do to capture the gigantic stature and unparalleled charisma that he embodied.
Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23 January 1897 (at 12.10 pm) in Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to Prabhavati Dutt Bose and Janakinath Bose, an advocate belonging to a Bengali Kayastha family. He was the ninth in a family of 14 children. Bose followed Jawaharlal Nehru to leadership in a younger wing of the Indian National Congress, one that was less moderately constitutional in the late 1920s and more open to socialism in the 1930s. He rose to become Congress President in 1938. However, soon after being reelected in 1939, he was ousted from Congress leadership positions following differences with Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress high command. He was subsequently placed under house arrest by the British before escaping from India in 1940. This legendary freedom fighter was imprisoned 11 times during the period from 1921 to 1941. He had assumed the post of mayor of Calcutta in 1930, while he was in prison.
He had planned his disguised escape in 1941 when he was under house arrest; with Sisir Bose as his companion. While being monitored by police day and night, it was Netaji’s brainchild to let the escape be in the guise of something that does not look unusual; something that happens every day. Thus, by citing the reason for turning a transistor for uncle Subhas, Sisir used to daily come to meet Netaji and finally materialized their grand escape plan with Netaji’s foresightedness.

Netaji’s death remains shrouded in mystery, and that we all are aware of. Following the much talked about news of the plane crash in Taiwan on 18th August 1945; it was believed that Subhas Chandra Bose had taken the guise of a ‘sadhu’ and lived in UP. People knew him as Gumnami Baba
 

- Prabhakar Purandare

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