Brothers against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose

Brothers against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose

Brothers against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose

Brothers against the Raj: A Biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose

Excerpt

Do you love Netaji?

Mrs Sen, an elderly Bengali woman, 1976 [to the author]

Netaji passed my way (just the other day).

Major Satya Gupta, Bengal Volunteers, 1964 [to the author]

. . . and Rumour walked blazing among them . . .

Homer, The Iliad

The crowd gathered in downtown Calcutta, January 23, 1964, as they they did every year on that day to celebrate the life and triumphs of Bengal's foremost nationalist leader, Subhas Chandra Bose. Immense representations of Bose were paraded through the streets en route to the Calcutta maidan (park). 'Netaji ki jai. . . Netaji zindabad. . .' (Victory to the revered leader Subhas Bose. . . Long live the revered leader) they shouted. It was my first winter in Calcutta where I had come to do research on Indian nationalism.

Subhas Bose, born in 1897, had died in a plane crash on Taiwan in August 1945. Or had he? During the following months I saw pictures of a sadhu (holy man) on Calcutta lampposts and billboards throughout the city. His head was shaved and he stood beside the dead body of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's recently deceased prime minister. The sadhu wore glasses (as did Bose), he was a little older, a little plumper, but he did resemble Bose, or 'Netaji' as he is commonly called. Beneath the picture in Bengali it said: 'Who is this sadhu?' Many ordinary Hindus in the middle and lower classes of the metropolis and the outlying districts believed that it was Bose. He was biding his time, waiting for a time of crisis when he would . . .

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