|Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das|
দেশবন্ধু চিত্তরঞ্জন দাশ
5 November 1870|
Telirbagh, Dhaka, British India
16 June 1925 55) (aged|
Darjeeling, British India
|Known for||Major figure in the Indian independence movement|
|Title||"Deshbandhu" (Friend of the Nation)|
Indian Independence movement
Family members and relatives
- Grandfather: Kashiswar Das
- Parents: Bhuban Mohan Das (who was brother of Durga Mohan Das and Kali Mohan Das) and Nistarini Debi
- Wife: Basanti Devi (23 March 1880 – 1974)
- Brother: Prafulla Ranjan Das
- Son: Chiraranjan Das (1899 - 1928)
- Daughter: Aparna Debi (1898 - 1972), Kalyani Debi (1902 - 1983)
Chittaranjan Das was born near Vikrampur in Dhaka on November 5,1870 in a well-known Baidya-Brahmin Das family of Telirbagh, Bikrampur, Dhaka in Bengal, now part of Munshiganj District of Bangladesh. Bikrampur has a long historical and cultural trail since many centuries. In 12th Century it was the capital of Ballal Sena and Lakshmana Sena, Kings of Sena dynasty and since then considered as an important seat of learning and culture of Eastern India.
Das family were members of Brahmo Samaj. Chittaranjan was the son of Bhuban Mohan Das, and nephew of the Brahmo social reformer Durga Mohan Das. Some of his cousins were Atul Prasad Sen, Satya Ranjan Das, Satish Ranjan Das, Sudhi Ranjan Das, Sarala Roy and Lady Abala Bose. His eldest grandson was Siddhartha Shankar Ray and his granddaughter is Justice Manjula Bose.
He is generally referred to by the honorific Desh Bandhu meaning "Friend of the nation". He was closely associated with a number of literary societies and wrote poems, apart from numerous articles and essays. He married Basanti Devi (1880 - 1974) and had three children, Aparna Devi (1898 - 1972), Chiraranjan Das (1899 - 1928) and Kalyani Devi (1902 - 1983). Basanti Devi also plunged into the freedom movement and was the first woman to court arrest with her sister-in-law Urmila Devi in Non Cooperation movement in 1921. Her warmth and affection for everyone was legendary and she held the position of a matriarch in the freedom fighters fraternity. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose used to regard her as 'Ma'.
Das family of Durga Mohan was a family of lawyers. Durga Mohan's eldest son Satya Ranjan passed matriculation from Emmanuel College and was at Middle Temple during 1883-1886, followed by Chitta Ranjan Das, Durga Mohan's brother's son, during 1890-1894. Satish Ranjan Das (1891-1894), Jyotish Ranjan Das and Atul Prasad Sen (1892-1895) followed their suit.
An eminent lawyer
In 1894 in a stunning move Chittaranjan Das gave up his lucrative practice, and plunged headlong into politics during the non-cooperation movement against the British. Chittaranjan Das again took the brief and successfully defended Aurobindo Ghosh on charges of involvement in the Alipore bomb case in 1909. In his Uttarpara speech, Sri Aurobindo gratefully acknowledged that Chittaranjan Das broke his health to save him.
In the historic trial of the Alipore bomb case in 1908, Chittaranjan Das, the defense counsel of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, made this last statement after a eight day long deliberation:
"My appeal to you therefore is that a man like this who is being charged with the offences imputed to him stands not only before the bar in this Court but stands before the bar of the High Court of History and my appeal to you is this: That long after this controversy is hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, this agitation ceases, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone his words will be echoed and re-echoed not only in India, but across distant seas and lands. Therefore I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this Court but before the bar of the High Court of History. The time has come for you, sir, to consider your judgment and for you, gentlemen, to consider your verdict..."
A Statesman and a National Leader
Chittaranjan Das was actively involved in the activities of Anushilan Samiti. When Pramatha Mitter organised the Samiti as its President to produce hundreds of young firebrands who were ready to sacrifice their lives for the cause of the Nation, Chittaranjan became his associate. Anusilan Samiti was maintained by P. Mitter with the assistance of Chittaranjan Das (1894), Haridas Bose (1895), Suren Haldar (1900) and Jnanendra Nath Roy (1901).
He was a leading figure in Bengal during the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1919-1922, and initiated the ban on British clothes, setting an example by burning his own European clothes and wearing Khadi clothes. At one time, his clothes were tailored and washed in Paris and he maintained a permanent laundry in Paris to ship his clothes to Calcutta. He sacrificed all this luxury when he became attached to the Freedom Movement.
He brought out a newspaper called Forward and later changed its name to Liberty to fight the British Raj. When the Calcutta Municipal Corporation was formed, he became its first mayor. He was a believer in non-violence and constitutional methods for the realisation of national independence, and advocated Hindu-Muslim unity, cooperation and communal harmony and championed the cause of national education. He resigned his presidency of the Indian National Congress at the Gaya session after losing a motion on "No Council Entry" to Gandhi's faction. He then founded the Swaraj Party, with veteran Motilal Nehru and young Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, in 1923, to express his uncompromising opinion and position .
His legacy was carried forward by his obedient disciple and follower Subhas Chandra Bose.
Chittaranjan Das emerged as a distinguished Bengali poet, when, during the troubled days of National movement, he published the first two volumes of his collection of poems titled "Malancha" and "Mala". In 1913 he published "Sagar Sangeet" (The Songs of the Sea). Sri Aurobindo was in Pondichery and when he was in dire need of financial support. Chittaranjan offered him one thousand rupees as a token of his support for an English translation of the poem, a few verses of which are given below:
Chittaranjan started a monthly journal named Narayana, and many eminent writers such as Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Bipin Chandra Pal and Hariprasad Shastri contributed their writings in the journal.
In 1925 Chittaranjan's health began to fail due to overwork. Chittaranjan went to Darjeeling to recuperate his health staying at Sir N. N. Sircar's house "Step Aside" in May 1925. Mahatma Gandhi visited him and stayed with him for some days. Gandhiji wrote,
Chittaranjan's health did not recover. On 16 June 1925 he died with a severe fever. A special arrangement was made to bring his cortege by train to Calcutta.
The funeral procession in Calcutta was led by Gandhi, who said:
Deshbandhu was one of the greatest of men... He dreamed... and talked of freedom of India and of nothing else... His heart knew no difference between Hindus and Mussalmans and I should like to tell Englishmen, too, that he bore no ill-will to them.
Thousands of people accompanied Deshbandhu's funeral cortege to the burning ground at Keoratala crematorium in Calcutta. The mass gathering and the manner in which people paid their last respects to this beloved leader, whom many described as "the uncrowned king of Bengal", evoked a feeling in Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) who penned a couplet that has immortalised the person to whom these words were offered : "এনেছিলে সাথে করে মৃত্যুহীন প্রাণ / মরণে তাহাই তুমি করে গেলে দান" (Enechhile sathe kore mrityuheen praan/ Marane tahai tumi kore gele daan..) [You had brought with yourself a life-without-an-end/As you depart, you donate the same.."].
Legacy and commemoration
- Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute of Kolkata had its humble beginning in the year 1950 when the Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital was founded in the premises of Chittaranjan Seva Sadan. A few years before his death Chittaranjan gifted this property including his house and the adjoining lands to the nation to be used for the betterment of the lives of women.
- 'Step Aside, the last abode of Chittaranjan in Darjeeling, is now a Mother-and-Child Care Center run by the Government.
- A commemorative tower was erected at the Keoratala crematorium where Chittaranjan was cremated. Every year Chittaranjan's death anniversary is regularly observed here.
- Chittaranjan Park is a locality in Kalkaji, adjoining Greater Kailash II in South Delhi, which houses many Bengalis who fled to India during partition
- Name of Chittaranjan Das and his title Deshbandhu (friend of the country) has been commemorated by naming various places, roads and institutions: Chittaranjan Avenue, Chittaranjan College, Chittaranjan High School, Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Chittaranjan Park, Chittaranjan Station, Deshbandhu College for Girls and the Deshbandhu Mahavidyalaya.band
- Even in south India, his legacy was spread through the establishment of the Deshabandhu High School, Thachampara, Palakkad, Kerala
- To honour the endeavours of Basanti Devi, wife of Chittaranjan Das, a girls' college in Kolkata, Basanti Devi College, bearing her name was established in 1964-65 during her lifetime.
- Dasgupta (1994), p. 224
- Sen (1989)
- Sturgess (1949)
- "Middle Temple" (PDF). hosted.law.wisc.edu. Retrieved 2017-09-02.
- Muktiprana (1960), p. 298
- Dasgupta (1994), p. 236
- Mukhopadhyay & Mukhopadhyay (1960), p. 155
- Dutt (1960)
- Saraf (2013)
- Kripalani (1994), p. 294
- Gandhi (1924), p. 250.
- "Who we are". Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute.
- Dasgupta, Hemendranath (1994), "Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das", in Grover, Verinder, Chittaranjan Das, Deep & Deep Publications, p. 224, ISBN 81-7100-568-3
- Dutt, Bhupendra Nath (23 December 1960), "Viplabee Pramatha Nath", Biplabee Bangali
- Gandhi, M. K. (1924), Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, 27, New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India, p. 250
- Kripalani, Sucheta (1994), "C.R. Das: Tribute to the Memory of a Great Patriot", in Grover, Verinder, Chittaranjan Das: Political Thinkers of Modern India, Deep & Deep Publications, p. 294, ISBN 81-7100-568-3
- Mukhopadhyay, Haridas; Mukhopadhyay, Uma (1960), Swadeshi Andolan O Banglar Nayayug, p. 155
- Muktiprana, Parivrajika (1960), Bhagini Nividita, p. 298
- Saraf, Nandini (2013), The Life and times of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Delhi: Ocean Books Pvt Ltd, ISBN 978-81-8430-213-4
- Sen, Rathindra Nath (1989), Life and times of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, Northern Book Centre, ISBN 81-8511-955-4
- Sturgess, H.A.C., ed. (1949), Register of Admissions to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. From the Fifteenth Century to the Year 1944 - Volume II (1782-1909), London: published for the Hon. Society of the Middle Temple by Butterworth & Co.
- Works by Chittaranjan Das at Project Gutenberg
- Chittaranjan Das in Hindi
- Newspaper clippings about Chittaranjan Das in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)
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