23rd January is the birth day of Subhas Chandra Bose, revered in India as Netaji (‘Neta’ means leader and ‘Ji’ is a title of respect). He was born in 1897 to Prabhabati Devi and Sri Janakinath Bose at Cuttak, in Orissa. He spent the first 16 years of his life there and loved Orissa and she loved her back, I will tell how. He studied in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and got selected for the Indian Civil Services (ICS) now known as Indian Administrative Services (IAS). He was inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s speeches during his Cuttak years and decided to fight for India’s freedom, in a different manner. Below are some lesser know facts related to him.
He became the President of the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1938, formed the party Forward Bloc in 1929 and then the ‘Azad Hind Saina’ or India National Army (INA) in 1943. INA was formed to take upon the British rule in India using armed rebellion and not peaceful and non violent means as earlier proposed by Mahatma Gandhi. By then, Subhash had major political conflicts with INC leaders, other than Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He was seen as a rebel! Lovingly addressed Subhash by all senior leaders of India’s freedom struggle, he was extremely popular, charismatic, well read, an excellent orator and adored by people. His speeches over the INA radio can give goosebumps, imagine how much it roused the oppressed Indians then!
Here is the link to a speech of his from the All India Radio (AIR) archives, it is in Hindi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6MJdQ_5iZQ He is asking for sacrifice when the bugle sounds…saying that Indians will have to be ready to die along with people from the world. He’s saying that we cannot stay slaves anymore but will have to pledge to fight for freedom by uniting… we’ll have to pay the value of freedom.
This is a speech of his in English from Tokyo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4oTR1dcuvU
These are some stamps issued by INA:
This post is to honour this great man who tried his own way of getting his motherland free from British rule and who is still highly revered in the North Eastern part of India, especially in Manipur and Nagaland, uniquely than the rest of India knows of him.
I visited the small INA museum in Moirang and on the way to the museum from Imphal and at many nearby sites, there are cemeteries and land dedicated to those who fought in Netaji’s army against the British. We were shown a hillock and told that it is referred to as Red Hill as it had turned red with blood of British soldiers while fighting the INA. There are many sites dotting the Manipur landscape dedicated to the INA, they are very proud to have fought valiantly for India’s freedom. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is their hero, saviour and idol. Did you know that the Indian tricolour was hoisted for the 1st time at Moirang, at the site where there is a small memorial and plaque commemorating it? It is here the INA museum has been built.
Do take out time to visit the INA museum and if you are lucky you will be shown around here by Dwijamani Singh, he’s their guide and extremely passionate about the museum. It has lots of black and white and a few colour photographs of Netaji after he escaped from British confinement from his Elgin road home in Calcutta in 1941. There are photographs of him in a submarine, in boats, with leaders in Burma, Singapore, Japan and some original artefacts used in the battles the INA had fought and won. If Japan would not have been blown away by USA in the 2nd World War, India would have found a very different version of freedom with Netaji and his army. Sadly, photography is not allowed in the museum so I am unable to share any of these treasures 😦
My family had close connections with Netaji! Yes, true! My mother’s maternal grandfather, Kali Charan Ghosh, was a close associate of Netaji, somewhat like personal secretary. My maternal grandmother, we called her Dia, used to tell us so many stories of her father with Netaji and his brother Sarat Bose. She had even told us that her father had been aware of Netaji’s daring escape! He had been one of the 3 people who knew of the entire details of when and how Netaji would hoodwink the British. Netaji was known for his extremely daring personality and was a huge public figure, everyone was ready to help him at any point! Dia used to say that after Netaji’s plane crash and disappearance from the hospital, there were several rumours every few years in Calcutta that Netaji has returned in disguise. Her father would go to personally verify these details and returned disappointed. After many such attempts, he stopped going and would get angry that people were impersonating this painful truth that Netaji would never return. Dia used to tell us how Netaji had organised women into an army and whenever the INA songs would play, she would stand up and salute! Here is one such famous song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdMLu5hW5Qg Netaji’s famous call for freedom was ‘Dilli Chalo’ (let’s march to Delhi where the British rule was centred) and ‘Mujhe Khoon Do aur Main Tumhe Azadi Doonga’ (give me blood and I will give you freedom).
I paid tribute to Netaji, on Dia’s behalf, and all those women and men who fought along with him, for India’s freedom. There is a lot of speculation and political drama over his disappearance and death… political parties today are trying to appropriate him for their cause, incorrect information leading to disharmony in the country are being propagated through social media, but this is contrary to everything Netaji believed and fought for. He only wanted one thing – a united country fighting for her freedom.
Did you know that “Raja Sankar Pratap of Dhenkanal, Orissa, is said to have assisted Netaji in his historic escape from Calcutta. He escaped in his No.2 Austin Car deceiving the British. This was stated in a published article by his nephew Sisir Bose in the Journal heritage (1986)?” Subhash’s Orissa stood by him when he needed her ❤️
This was shared by Yashasvini Kumari, from the Dhenkenal family, from an article from ‘The Orissa Review: August 2007’ – called Netaji Subhas and India’s Independence by Dr. Shridhar Charan Sahoo. Thank you Yashasvini 🙂
I leave you with this song written by Tagore for his Subhash, though politically they disagreed it is believed that before leaving India to fight for her freedom from South East Asia, Netaji went to take Tagore’s blessings.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO2p17t1iw0 this is a song of rebellion, struggle and force. https://www.geetabitan.com/lyrics/K/kharo-bayu-boy-bege-lyric.html
It has also been sung by Children’s Theatre Academy Santiniketan today https://www.facebook.com/100046422896569/videos/393165792582344/?extid=WA-UNK-UNK-UNK-AN_GK0T-GK1C&ref=sharing under the guidance of Saibal Mitra.
Yashasvini Kumari Devi and Meenal Jhala Singh Deo, of the Dhenkenal family shared this after reading this post. This is how layers of history are added and made:
“Janaki Nath Bose being Raja Shankar Pratap Mahindra Bahadur’s gaurdian, he and Subhas Chandra Bose were childhood companions. It was therefore beyond question that he supported Netaji’s efforts towards Indian Independence.”