- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was an Indian Nationalist and a charismatic leader. His love for the country, and through his struggle for gaining independence for the country, he earned great respect by the countrymen and the title ‘Netaji’.
Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23rd January 1897, in Cuttack, a Bengal province in British India (present-day Orissa).
His Alma Mater includes the University of Calcutta (B.A. in Philosophy in 1919), and the University of Cambridge (B.A. in Mental and Moral Sciences Troops in 1921).
=> He has been to:
- Baptist Mission’s Protestant European School, Cuttack (1902-1909)
- Ravenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack (1909-1912)
- Presidency College, Calcutta (1912-1916)
- Scottish Church College (Calcutta University), Calcutta (1917-1919)
- Fitzwilliam Hall, Non-Collegiate Students’ Board (Cambridge University), Cambridge (1919-1921)
Subhas was also the 5th mayor of Calcutta, and his in-office duration was from 22nd August 1930 to 15th April 1931.
He was the president of the Indian National Congress (INC) from 18th January 1938 to 29th April 1939.
Subhas led the All India Forward Bloc which emerged as a faction within the INC in 1939.
He was the president of All India Forward Bloc from 22nd June 1939 to 16th January 1941.
He was secretly married to Emilie Schenkl in 1937.
The title ‘Netaji’ was given to Subhas Chandra Bose by the Indian soldiers of the Indian Legion, and German and Indian officials at the Special Bureau of India in Berlin, in 1942.
Bose was the leader of INA from 4th July 1943 to 18th August 1945.
Birth & Family (1897)
- Subhas Chandra Bose was born in a large and wealthy Bengali family in Cuttack, Odisha, while India was under British Rule. Odisha, back then, was the Orissa Division of Bengal Province in British India.
Bose’s mother, Prabhavati Bose, was the anchor of the family, She gave birth to her first child at the age of 14.
Bose had 13 siblings. He was the 9th child and the 6th son of his parents.
Bose’s father, Janakinath Bose, was a successful lawyer. Janakinath was loyal to the British Indian Government. He was a self-made man from a village of Calcutta.
Bose began his schooling at the age of 5 at the Baptist Mission’s Protestant European School in Cuttack. The school followed the English curriculum. Latin, the Bible, British history, and geography were taught. Moreover, no Indian language was taught.
Janakinath Bose made this choice of school for his children as he wanted them to learn and speak flawless English, with a perfect accent and intonation. He thought this to be important for easy access to the British in India.
On the other hand, only the Bengali language was used for communication in Bose’s family at home. His mother worshipped Hindu goddesses like mother Durga and mother Kali. She used to tell stories from great Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and sung Bengali songs.
Bose adapted to his nurturing spirit with the help of his mother, from learning to help people in distress, enjoying gardening around the house, to getting introduced to sports.
Bose and his brothers next moved to Ravenshaw Collegiate School in Cuttack, in 1909. Here Bengali and Sanskrit languages were also taught. Despite continuing with western education, he preferred to wear Indian clothes and involve more in religion.
He involved himself in Indian literature. He supported the ideas of Ramakrishna Paramahansa, an Indian Bengali mystic, in the letters he wrote to his mother. He was even inspired by the ideas of Swami Vivekanand.
Bose had a keen interest in the book by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Ananda Math, a popular novel among Hindu men then.
Bose was brilliantly studious. Despite many side hustles he knew well when to focus on his studies, complete them, and then succeed in exams. In 1912, the University of Calcutta conducted the matriculation examination, when Bose ended up securing the 2nd position.
Bose again with his five elder brothers moved to Presidency College, Calcutta, in 1913, and chose to study Philosophy, where his reading included Immanuel Kant, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Henri-Louis Bergson, and other western philosophers.
Around that time he developed a bond of friendship with Hemanta Kumar Sarkar, an Indian author, and Bose’s associate in religious yearnings. In 1914, they traveled together to northern India in search of a ‘guru’ for themselves, to guide them. Bose’s family, being unaware of the trip, thought that he had run away. On their journey to find a ‘guru’, Bose ended up catching a typhoid fever.
On the other hand, his absence caused huge grief to his parents, which further resulted in an emotional breakdown on his return. Janakinath confronted his son with a great temper which resulted in a heated argument. This incident even caused the return of Sarat Chandra Bose from England where he was studying law. Soon after this incident, Subhas focussed on studies, debating, and student journalism at Presidency.
In 1916, Bose had his name in the rumors about an incident that involved E. F. Oaten, Professor of History at Presidency. Students claimed that Oaten has made some offensive remarks about Indian Culture, and even pushed some students. On the other hand, Oaten said that students were being unacceptably undisciplined right outside his class. A few days later, on 15th February, some students surrounded Oaten on the stairway and beat him with sandals, and ran away. An inquiry was done, and a college servant claimed Bose to be present among the students who fled. Bose was expelled and rusticated from the University of Calcutta.
Bose’s family had good connections to the vice-chancellor of the university, Ashutosh Mukherjee. Despite this fact, expulsion continued till July 20th, 1917, when he was granted permission to return, but to another college. So he joined Scottish Church College, received his B.A. in 1918 in the First Class Honors in Philosophy.
Bose’s father urged him to travel to England and prepare for the Indian Civil Services (ICS) Examination. Therefore, he arrived in London on 20th October 1919 and prepared to apply for the ICS Examination. For his references, he put down the names of Satyendra Prasanna Sinha, a prominent Indian lawyer, and Bhupendranath Basu, a wealthy lawyer from Calcutta who sat on the council of India in London.
Simultaneous with preparing for the ICS Examination, Bose was eager to take admission at the University of Cambridge. Since it was past the deadline for admission, the Non-Collegiate Student Board, helped him by offering university education at an economical cost without formal admission to a college. He went on to study the Mental and Moral Sciences Tripos at Cambridge, and since he was already a B.A, the completion requirement was reduced to 2 years in Cambridge.
In August 1920, Subhas took the competitive exam for 6 vacancies in the ICS and was placed 4th. But the final exam was left to be conducted in 1921. The topics for the final exam included the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, Indian History, and an Indian language. For Subhas, these subjects were the easy ones. Yet he began to have doubts regarding taking or not the final exam. He communicated his thoughts to his father and his brother, Sarat Chandra Bose.
Bose believed: “It is not possible to serve one’s country in the best and fullest manner if one is chained on to civil services.”
In April 1921, Subhas made a firm decision in this context and wrote to Sarat informing and apologizing for the pain caused to his parents.
Around that time, he wrote to his brother, Sarat, informing him how delighted he was after receiving his mother’s letter where she stated that in spite of what father and others thought, she favored the ideals of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Subhas has been in touch with C.R. Das. Das was a lawyer, who was now rising as a prominent politician in Bengal. He encouraged Subhas to return to Calcutta. Subhas half-heartedly appeared for his Cambridge B.A. final examination and passed in the third class. He then sailed to India in June 1921.
Bose’s Years In The Indian National Congress (1921-1941)
24-year old Subhas arrived on the shores of India at Bombay on 16th July 1921, and immediately went on to arrange a meeting with Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi, at that time, was the leader of the Non-Cooperation Movement that had taken India by storm, around that time.
Gandhi agreed to meet Bose. Bose wanted to know more about the strategies of Gandhi. But he felt that answers given by Gandhi sounded vague. He did not have a clear plan. Bose didn’t agree with his idea of non-violence. He strongly believed that freedom can never be achieved through non-violence.
On the other hand, Bose idolized C.R. Das as he was more flexible with his thoughts than Gandhi. It was Das who introduced Bose to nationalist politics, by launching him in the Indian National Congress.
Bose was elected as the President of All India Youth Congress and the Secretary of Bengal State Congress, in 1923.
Newspaper – “Swaraj” was launched by Bose under the mentorship of Chittaranjan Das, to publicize the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee.
Bose was also the editor of the newspaper “Forward”, again introduced by Chittaranjan Das.
In 1924, Bose worked as the CEO of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.
In 1925, he was arrested in Mandalay in a roundup of nationalists and was released in 1927. He then became general secretary of the Congress Party. Congress appointed the Motilal Nehru Committee in 1928. This committee was in favor of Domination status, but both Bose and Nehru opposed it and said that they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything but complete independence.
A little later in 1930, Bose was arrested and put in jail for Civil Disobedience. He was then released in 1931 after the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed. He was against this pact and opposed the suspension of the Civil Disobedience movement after Bhagat Singh and associates were hanged.
Subhas was soon arrested again under the Bengal Regulation and was released after a year on medical grounds. In 1933, he visited Europe in the name of surgery. But his real motive was something else.
His main motive was to promote politico-cultural contacts between India and Europe, and to accomplish this he worked on establishing centers in different European capitals.
During his time in Europe, he wrote the first part of his book, “The Indian Struggle”, which covered the country’s struggle for independence in the years 1920-1934.
- This was the time when Bose met Emilie Schenkl while searching for a typist for his book in Austria, Europe. She was introduced to Bose by Dr. Mathur, Bose’s friend and an Indian physician living in Vienna.
Subhas fell in love with Emilie, and before setting off for India in 1937, both got married in a secret Hindu ceremony. Secret because there was no record or proof of that marriage.
Bose was again arrested in 1937 when he returned from Austria and was released in 1938 when Congress came to power in seven states after the general elections.
In 1938, Bose stood up for the idea of self-governance or “Swaraj”, which emphasized the use of force against the British. This idea was greatly opposed by Gandhi, who was also against Bose’s idea to split the INC.
The rift was created while Gandhi wanted Bose to create his own cabinet. Nehru and Bose were also divided.
In a Congress meeting in 1939, Bose was elected president over Pattabhi Sitaramayya, who was favored by Gandhi. This was due to U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, who strongly supported Bose in the intra-party conflict, and so he went on to mobilize complete votes of South India for Bose.
But since the working committee was greatly in favor of Gandhian ideology, Bose found it a better option to resign from his role.
On June 22, 1939, Bose established the All India Forward Bloc, a body within the INC. He was greatly supported by Thevar in Madurai.
When World War II broke out in 1939, Viceroy Lord Linlithgow, without consulting the Congress leaders, decided to send Indian troops to war. Bose led a civil disobedience campaign against Linlithgow by initiating a mass protest in Calcutta to remove the Holwell Monument.
Bose was again arrested but was soon released owing to a hunger strike by his supporters. He was then kept under house arrest.
Bose’s Visit To Nazi Germany And Formation Of Azad Hind Fauj (1941-1943)
- Subhas, with the help of his family members and workers, was able to deceive the officer at his Elgin Road house in Calcutta and successfully escaped the arrest on the night of 17th January 1941.
For the last few days before his escape, he sought solitude, and so he avoided meeting anyone and grew a beard. He dressed as Pathan (brown long coat and broad pyjamas) on the night of the escape, so that no one identifies him.
He reached Gomoh Railway Station in Bihar that night by car. He journeyed to Peshawar by train.
He met Akbar Shah in Peshawar and stayed at the home of Abad Khan, a trusted friend of Akbar Shah. On 26th January 1941, he began his journey to Russia through British India’s North-West Frontier with Afghanistan. He did this with the help of Akbar Shah. Since Bose didn’t know the Afghani language, Shah suggested he act dumb and adapt to resemble the tribesmen of that area, so as to keep away from being identified.
He was then guided into Afghanistan and to the border with Soviet Russia, via Kabul, by the supporters of Aga Khan III. All this while he was disguised as an Afghani insurance agent.
Next, he disguised as an Italian nobleman Count Orlando Mazzotta and travelled to Moscow on his passport.
In Moscow, he felt that Russia’s enmity with the British rule in India would work in his favour, but he soon dropped the idea because the Soviets’ response disappointed him, and so he went on to meet the German ambassador, Count von der Schulenberg, in Moscow. He helped Bose to flee to Berlin in a courier aircraft.
On reaching Berlin, he headed towards meeting Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party in Germany. The meeting resulted in favour of Bose’s plan.
- He formed the Indian Legion of the “Azad Hind Fauj” from the Indian prisoners of war who fought for the British in North Africa before being captured by Axis forces. The legion had 4500 soldiers. It was combined with the Waffen-SS (a Nazi Party’s SS organization). The members of the legion swore that they will obey the leader of the German race and state, Adolf Hitler, as the commander of the German armed forces in the fight for India, whose leader was Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose was prepared to begin invading India via USSR by Nazi troops, led by the Azad Hind Legion.
Other than this Bose started the Azad Hind Radio in 1942 while in Germany. It was sponsored by Germany, and its broadcasting was managed by the Special Bureau for India in Germany. This radio platform was used by Bose to urge the Indians to join Azad Hind Legion and fight for the Axis powers.
While meeting with Hitler, Bose had this suspicion that the dictator was more interested in using his soldiers to win propaganda victories than the military ones.
His suspicion turned out to be true when Hitler’s tanks rolled across the Soviet Borders. It was now clear that the German army was not capable of helping him drive Britishers from India.
He was greatly saddened, and so in February 1943, he boarded a German naval submarine and sailed to Japan, and behind him, the soldiers of the legion were left leaderless.
- All this while in Germany, he lived with Emilie Schenkl, whom he married when he visited Germany in 1937. Emilie gave birth to a girl in 1942, and she was named Anita. Anita grew up as Anita Schenkl. She adopted her father’s name later in life and was called Anita Bose.
Bose’s Visit To Imperial Japan (1943-1945)
Subhas Chandra Bose arrived in Japan in 1943, he planned to revive the idea of forming an army in alliance with Japan, and take over the charge of the Indian National Army from Rash Behari Bose, to form the Second Indian National Army.
The First Indian National Army was disbanded in December 1942 due to differences between Hikari Kikan and Mohan Singh, as he came to know that the Japanese High Command was using the Indian National Army as pawns in the path of achieving their goals.
Bose was successfully able to revive and organize the army, with the help of the Indian population. People lent support both by joining the army or by providing financial help, even after huge military oppositions for the Azad Hind Movement.
- One of the most famous quotes by Bose, “Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe azadi dunga!”, was used by him in a motivational speech for the Indian National Army at a rally in Burma on July 4th, 1944. Through this speech, he wanted to urge more and more people to join in the fight against British Rule in India.
The Indian National Army was under the control of the Azad Hind Government, which was recognized by 9 Axis states viz. Japan, Germany, China, a provincial government of Burma, the Italian Social Republic, the Japanese-occupied Philippines, Manchukuo, the Independent State of Croatia, and the Wang Jingwei regime in Nanjing.
In 1943, the Provincial Government and the Indian National Army were established in Andaman and Nicobar Islands after it was possessed by Japan in 1942, and due to this the Japanese navy still remained under the control of the administration of the island.
Next, the Indian Flag (Tricolour) was raised in the town of Manipur in north-eastern India, and along with it Kohima and Imphal were also captured by the Japanese army, in association with the brigades of the Indian National Army.
But Japanese resources were depleted in a fight with the British and soon they were defeated, and with this was defeated Bose’s dream to occupy at least a part of the Indian mainland. At the end of the war, almost all the INA troops and Japan surrendered.
Bose never wanted to surrender, and so he again planned an escape to Manchuria to join hands with the Soviet Union.
Bose Death Mystery (1945)
Mystery? Yes! A ‘mystery’ because there’s no solid proof to any of Bose’s death stories. A lot of predictions and stories have made rounds in the past, and they do even to date. There are a lot of myths about his death, but there’s no confirmation of any of them.