Subhas Chandra Bose biography

Subhas Chandra Bose biography



Birth nameSubhas Chandra BoseSubhas Chandra Bose
Born23 January 1897
Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, British India
Died18 August 1945
Taipei (Taihoku), Japanese Taiwan (as per records)
parentsPrabhavati Devi and Janakinath Bose
educationUniversity of Calcutta
University of Cambridge
Political partyIndian National Congress 1921–1940,
Forward Bloc faction within the Indian National Congress, 1939–1940
Spouse(s)Emilie Schenkl
ChildrenAnita Bose Pfaff


Subhas Chandra Bose was the only soldier-statesman India has produced during the recent past. By alienating thousands of Indian soldiers in the British army from the Crown, he shook the foundations of the British Empire, compelling the British to leave India in a hurry. Thus, his role in the freedom movement is unique and paramount.

early life

Subhash was born on 23 January 1897 at Cuttack, Orissa, ninth of the fourteen children of his parents; father janakinath Bose and motherPrabhabati. Janakinath was a lawyer by profession and had earned a nameat the Cuttack Bar. He was elected chairman of the Cuttack Municipalityin 1901; was later appointed government pleader and public prosecutor,the post which he resigned in 1917 due to differences with the districtmagistrate. He also served as a member of the Bengal Legislative Council(1912). “Ours was not a rich but what might be regarded as a well-to do middle-class family”, wrote subhas in his Autobiography. But it was a ‘healthy disciplined home’ where subhas grew up.
    When he was five, subhas was sent to the Baptist Missionary school in Cuttack where his brothers also studied. He was good at studies, learntEnglish well but did not take part in school sports. For seven years hestudied in this school and then at the age of twelve he joined RavenshawCollegiate School and became proficient in Bengali also. He passed the Matricularion examination in 1913, standing second in the Calcutta University. While studying in school, he was influenced by the teachings of Vivekananda who taught him that only service of humanity can bring about one’s salvation. This inspired young Subhas to do social work in the nearby villages at the time of calamities like floods and epidemics. For further education, he was sent to Calcutta, where he joined Presidency College and a new chapter in his life began. Since his younger days, subhas was influenced by sadhus and ascetic. During the college vacations in 1914 he, along with a friend, went out in search of a guru, visiting religious places like Hardwar, Rishikesh, Mathura, Vrindaban, Varanasi and Gaya, without informing his family. But after a few weeks they returned to Calcutta, greatly disappointed at not finding a guru, who could guide them in life.


 Subhas found studies and lectures in the college quite boring and meaningless but he continued attending classes. He passed the Intermediate examination in 1915 with credit. For the degree course he opted for philosophy and had started taking interest in studies because philosophy was his favourite subject. Then the famous oaten episode happened in 1916. Edward Farley was a young British teacher at the Presidency College, who, it is alleged, used to denigrade Indians and Indian culture while teaching. Once he manhandled some students who were making a noise in the corridors while his class was 0n. He carne out and thrashed those students. As a reaction to that, some students assaulted Oaten after a few days. As the representative of the class, Subhas Bose was held responsible for this incident of indiscipline. “Bose, you are the most troublesome man in the college,” the principal shouted at him. “I suspend you.” Subhas was rusticated and had to discontinue his studies as he could not join any other college affiliated to the Calcutta University. That proved to be a turning point in his turbulent life. In a paper presented about the incident at a seminar in 1973. Oaten (who was eighty-eight at the time) tells a different version of the incident and denies that he had assaulted any student. He wrote, “It seems that I led the students to the office, but to do so violently could have been contrary to my nature; I was merely enforcing discipline. Next day I was assaulted from the rear by a body of students. Subhas Chandra Bose was supposed to have been connected with the affair, although I never had any proof of this. I suffered no injury except for a few bruises, and I bore the assailants no malice and refused to prosecute. He ended by saying. “I have been privileged in a long life to see India obtain her freedom in 1947. Netaji contributed towards obtaining that freedom, although not everybody approved of his method. I do not regret the fact that in the beginning of his career my name was linked with his. Both of us, each in his own way, helped to make modern India." Oaten also wrote a poem on Subhas Bose (1947) the first two lines of which read; ‘Did I once suffer, subhas at your hand; your patriot heart is still’d! I would forget" About the incident subhas wrote in his Autobiography, I had stood up with courage and composure in a crisis and fulfilled my duty. I had developed self-confidence as well as initiative, which was to stand me in good stead in future. I had a foretaste of leadership – though in very restricted sphere – and of the martyrdom that it involves. In short, I had acquired character and could face the future with equanimity."
After his suspension from college, Subhas went to his home at Cuttack and busied himself doing social work. For two years he had to discontinue his studies. He went back to Calcutta and with the help of Ashutosh Mukherjee, vice-chancellor of the Calcutta University; he was able to join the Scottish Church College in third year class in July 1917. He now took studies quite seriously and passed B.A. honours in philosophy, procuring a first class. Along with studies, he had joined, the University Training Corps (India’s Territorial Army) and for four months received military training in a camp near Fort William, where the students received training like drilling with rifles. This brief military training was very helpful for him while organizing the Indian National Army.

civil service

At the suggestion of his father and elder brother Sarat (for whom he had great respect and affection) Subhas left for England in September 1919 to appear in the Indian Civil Service examination. There he joined the Cambridge University to prepare for the examination. He studied at the Cambridge University for only eight months. He must have worked hard because when the result of the examination was announced his name was fourth on the list. While undergoing his probationary training he started having second thoughts about becoming an ICS officer. He wanted to serve the motherland in a different capacity, working towards her freedom and not as a bureaucrat. He wrote to his father and elder brother Sarat, explaining the reasons why he wanted to resign from the Indian Civil Service. He also wrote a letter on 16 February 1921 to C.R. Das, the most important Congress leader in Bengal. Subhas wrote: I would like to know what work you may be able to allot to me in this great programme of national service. Subhas also suggested in the letter what type of work he would be able to do as well as the ways to reorganize the Congress. On receiving an encouraging reply from C. R. Das, his mind was made up. He resigned from the ICS and left for India. On reaching Bombay on 16 July 1921, he met Mahatma Gandhi and had discussions with him about his programme of achieving Swaraj in one year. The replies which Gandhi gave to his searching questions did not satisfy subhas. As already decided through correspondence, subhas met C.R. Das in Calcutta and at once found the political guide he was pining for.


At Dass suggestion, Subhas joined the Congress party; he joined the Calcutta National College started by the Congress as principal; became the publicity officer of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee and captain of the National Volunteer Corps. When the Prince of Wales visited India (November, 1921), the Congress high command decided to boycott the visit. Subhas Bose was put in charge of the campaign. The government arrested thousands of volunteers including C.R. Das and Subhas in December. This was subhas first imprisonment; ten had yet to follow. C.R. Das and subhas were imprisoned for six months. Much of the imprisonment of the two was spent together, bringing the guru and his disciple even closer. They had plenty of time to discuss the national problems and the strategy which the Congress should adopt. Then came the most disturbing news: Gandhi had withdrawn the Non-Cooperation Movement in February 1922. Non-cooperation had failed. An alternative strategy had to be evolved. C.R. Das proposed, supported by Motilal Nehru, that they should enter the legislatures and wreck the government from within. When the no-changers (the ardent followers of Gandhi) did not agree, C.R. Das resigned from the Congress and formed the Swaraj Party. They fought the 1924 elections under the newly formed party and won a thumping victory in the Central Legislature as well as in the states. C.R. Das was elected Mayor of Calcutta and Subhas Bose was elected chief executive officer in March 1924. He was twenty- seven by now but nature in his outlook. Both of them worked hard to provide better civic facilities for the people of Calcutta. But Bengal was once again in the grip of terrorism. Swarajists were suspected for abetting terrorism. Subhas was arrested in October 1924 under the Emergency ordinance. For two months, he performed his municipal duties in Alipur then in January 1925 he was removed to Mandalay, the prison in which Lajpat Rai and Tilak had spent their prison sentences earlier. The rigours of prison life affected his health. The government offered to release him on condition that he should go to Europe without entering India. He contemptuously rejected the offer. ‘I am not a shopkeeper, I do not bargain”, he said. He was released unconditionally on 16 May 1927 on grounds of ill-health. He had spent two years in Mandalay jail. By that time, C.R. Das had died in June 1925. It was a ‘cataclysmic loss’ for subhas as never before was he on his own. But during the two years of contemplation in prison, he had matured further. He came to be regarded by the masses as the natural leader of Bengal. He was elected chairman of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee soon after. His health improved and he was again actively taking part in political developments. He became the general secretary of the Congress along with Jawaharlal Nehru. When the Motilal Nehru Report on the proposed constitution of India was released, both Subhas and Jawaharlal protested against the acceptance of Dominion Status. They wanted purna Swaraj (complete independence). He Shared with Nehru the formation of short lived India Independence League. Subhas toured the whole country explaining to the masses the need for puma Marcy'. “His eloquence became more practiced, his rhetoric more skillful, his stature as a leader greater 'and more widely accepted”. The Congress fell in line with his thinking, when in 1929, during the Lahore session, under the president ship of Jawaharlal; it was declared that Independence was the goal of the Congress.
Once again, a full-scale Disobedience Movement commenced in 1930 and Subhas was arrested on his birthday, 23 January. When he emerged from prison on 25 September 1930, he was elected mayor of Calcutta. The following year he was elected chairman of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). As a result of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, the Disobedience Movement was suspended in March 1931. After Gandhi returned from the Second Round Table Conference on 28 December 135 1931, Civil Disobedience was resumed on 1January and Subhas was once Hg again arrested on 2January 1932, along with other Congress leaders. But by the end of 1932, he was gravely ill and he was released on 22 February'1933 ‘on the condition that he would go to Europe for treatment’. Hewas suffering from tuberculosis and this time went to Europe. He was he admitted to Dr. Furth’s sanitorium in Vienna. There he met Vithalbhai Patel (elder brother of Sardar Patel), and both started enjoying each other’s company and discussing political developments in India. They were
Subhas Chandra Bose with gandhi
Subhas Chandra Bose with gandhi
stunned when Gandhi suspended the Civil Disobedience Movement 927 on 8 May 1933. “This was an abject surrender”, they cried and issued BY the famous joint manifesto on 9 May 1933: “We are clearly of opinion for that as a political leader Mahatma Gandhi has failed. The time has therefore i come for a radical reorganization of the Congress on a new principle and Tied with a new method. For bringing about this reorganization a change of leadership is necessary”. Vithalbhai died on 22 October 1933 in a sanitorium near Geneva, with subhas by his side. Vithalbhai shared the view of subhas that it was impossible for India to achieve independence without foreign help. For that, systematic propaganda was necessary. Vithalbhai left a hundred thousand rupees to organize such propaganda in Europe the ' and England, making Subhas the trustee of the money. However, Subhas did not get the money due to legal wrangling in a Bombay court. Subhas spent the next two years in Europe, visiting several countries, addressing select audiences and meeting important persons including Hitler and explaining India’s Case to the world.

       He returned to India on 8 April 1936 and was immediately arrestedbut released on 17 March 1937. During Gandhi’s visit to Calcutta, Subhasconferred with him and agreed to be president of the 1938 session of the Congress. “Bose now was a man of more than national stature. Abroad he ranked after Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru as an Indian politician. With in India, his personality had proved too many the most attractive of the three. In some places his reputation rivalled that of Gandhi himself, and his nomination as president of the
Subash Chandra Bose with his army (Azaad Hind Fouz)
Subash Chandra Bose with his army (Azaad Hind Fouz)
Congress at the early age of fortyone was without doubt an attempt by the Mahatma to consolidate withthe orthodox Congress, those considerable left-Wing elements in Bengal and elsewhere, which actually preferred Boses leadership" To Gandhi’s chagrin, Subhas did not tow Gandhi’s line of thinking as president of the Congress. In his presidential address at Haripura, though he did not attack Gandhi, his socialistic thinking was quite evident. He talked of the need for industrial revolution and the need for a national reconstruction programme through the National Planning Committee. Against the advice of Gandhi, Subhas wanted to be the president second time. Gandhi put up Pattabhi Sitaramayya against him. Election ensued and Bose won by 1580 to 1375 votes. Gandhi felt humiliated and declared that it was his own defeat. When the Congress met at Tripura (1939), Subhas was too ill to participate actively in the proceedings. At the instance of Gandhi, the entire Congress Working Committee resigned, leaving subhas and his brother Sarat in the Committee. Subhas as president could have nominated the members of the Working Committee but he did not. He tried a compromise and pleaded with Gandhi, meeting with him personally and through correspondence. But Gandhi was adamant. Bose was left with no choice but to resign, and formed a new party, the Forward Bloc, which had to work within the Congress fold. In September 1939, war broke out and subhas wanted the Congress to make the best of this opportunity to start a movement to oust the British. When the Congress wavered, the Forward Bloc, under his leadership, launched a bitter anti-British propaganda campaign without the approval of the Congress high command. He and his brother Sarat Chandra were expelled from the Congress for three years. He was arrested for his anti-government stance in July 1940, along with hundreds of his followers. He was released in November and interned in his house, guarded by police and the CID. For forty days he did not stir out of his room. But one day in the third week of January 1941, he disappeared in the guise of a Muslim priest and appeared in Germany in April, 1941, making a hazardous journey through Afghanistan and Russia. This is one of most daring and romantic episodes, not only of Indian history but that of the world. His presence in Germany was kept secret but after nine months he started broadcasting anti-British propaganda from a secret radio station from Rome and Germany under the name Azad Hind Radio. Free India Centers were established at Rome and Paris (October 1941) as anti-British centers. Many Indians in Europe started cooperating with Bose in this venture and started calling him Netaji (leader) and saluting him with ‘Jai Hind’. Subhas also raised ‘Indian Legion’ of a regimental strength, comprising Indian Prisoners of War brought from North Africa camps for the purpose. But Bose was not sure how to use the Indian Legion to oust the British from India. From the beginning, Italians were more sympathetic towards Bose than the Germans.
Subhas Chandra Bose with adolf hitler
Subhas Chandra Bose with adolf hitler

interview with Adolf Hitler

Bose had an interview with Adolf Hitler on 29 May 1942. The views expressed by Hitler were not very encouraging. Hitler said, “India was endlessly remote from Germany. The real route to India would have to be over Russia’s dead body”. Bose was very sceptical about this ‘route’ While Bose was still pondering over what to do in Europe, news came that the Japanese had attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbour in December and had run through the British possessions in Southeast Asia. That area was much nearer to India than Europe and had many more Indian prisoners of war than Europe; the number of Indians living there was also much larger. Moreover, Rash Behari Bose had already been working in Japan and Asia for India’s freedom under the banner of Indian Independence League. General Mohan Singh and others had also formed the Azad Hind Fauj, which was later taken over by Rash Behari Bose. A conference was held in Bangkok in June 1942 presided over by Rash Behari, in which delegates from several east Asian countries participated. One of the resolutions passed in the conference was to invite Subhas Chandra Bose to East Asia. On receiving the message, subhas decided to leave Europe. A U-Boat (submarine) was arranged by the Germans for the purpose. Subhas left Germany along with Abid Hassan on 8 February 1942. They arrived in Tokyo on 13 June 1943, and reached Singapore on July 1943. He was received enthusiastically by an immense surging crowd. On 4july, Rash Behari Bose handed over the leadership of the Indian Independence League and its armed wing, Indian National Army, to the younger Bose.
Subhas Chandra Bose


Subhas went on a whirlwind tour of several countries in the region and was received with warmth and expectation everywhere. Satisfied, he proclaimed Provisional Government of Free India in the Town Hall of Singapore on 21 October 1943 and took a salute of twenty thousand INA soldiers recruited from the Indian prisoners of war. Several departments of the new government were created, headed by trusted followers. INA men were given proper training. A march towards India, along with Japanese forces, commenced. Subhas shifted his headquarters from Singapore to Rangoon in January 1944, Burma sharing a border with India. Subhas set foot on Andaman and Nicobar islands, the first free Indian territory which were handed over by the Japanese to the INA. The INA opened campaign on the Arakan front on 4 February 1944. On 18 March, they had crossed over to Indian soil and had reached the plains of Imphal and were in the neighborhood of Kohima, then followed the retreat. American air forces helped the British army, which now had superior arms. Worst still, the monsoon had submerged the supply line of INA. Hundreds of INA men died from hunger, disease and wounds. Japanese forces were on the run too. The British had reoccupied country after country, starting with Burma. With the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan had surrendered on 15 August 1945. All was over. But there can be little doubt that the Indian National Army, not in its unhappy career on the battlefield, but in its thunderous disintegration, hastened the end of the British rule in India, thus the bringing the life’s struggle and sacrifices of Subhas to fruition. Subhas along with Col. Habibur-Rahman left Saigon on 17 August 1945 for Tokyo. On 22 August, Tokyo Radio announced the death of Subhas Chandra Bose in an air crash over Formosa. Indians haveconsistently refused to believe that subhas died in an air crash. Three enquiry commissions appointed by the Government of India have not been able to solve the mystery of the death of subhas. His ashes are kept at Renkoji temple, Tokyo, but the Government of India is reluctant to bring these ashes to India because millions of Indians believe that those are not that of Subhas. Recent research has revealed that subhas was aliveat least till 1946.

personal life

Subhas Chandra Bose
Subhas Chandra Bose with his wife
While in Europe, Subhas had written to his brother that he had married a German girl, Emilie Schenkl. Subhas had known Emilie since 1934, when she served as his secretary and had helped him in writing his Autobiography. Formal records of his marriage do not exist, but Bose's biographer Hugh Toye wrote that Emilie had ‘secretly’ become his wife. In September 1942 she delivered a baby girl, Anita, who later visited India and was received with love and affection. But at that time, this relationship with Emilie had caused Subhas much mental stress because his high moral reputation was at stake he had vowed to be a celibate till India got her freedom.


Thousands of INA men were taken prisoner by the British after the surrender of Japan. Some were executed in Rangoon and Bangkok; thousands of others were brought to India to be tried ‘for waging war against the Crown’. But the whole nation stood up to cheer them as freedom fighters, which staggered the British bureaucracy and the army. Many leading lawyers in the Congress offered their services to defend the INA men during their trial in the Red Port, Nehru among them - the same Nehru who had said in April 1942: “I shall fight Subhas Bose and his party
Subhas Chandra Bose with nehru
Subhas Chandra Bose with nehru
along With Japan if he comes to India.” Such are the compulsions of politics. The fact is that “the attitude of the Congress both to Bose and the INA has been lukewarm throughout. It was not anxious to publicize their exploits. After all, Bose and the INA actually fought for India’s freedom while the Congress leaders had merely gone to jail.' In spite of the attitude of the Congress, Subhas outshines others among the martyrs of the freedom struggle. He has become a national hero, and legends have been woven around him. He disappeared at a time when the nation needed him most.

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