One of the most endearing and enduring qualities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was his sense of complete control over himself -- a gift possibly he got out of his strongly and deeply spiritual inner personality. Those who knew him personally through thick and thin have noted that he was always calm and in complete control of all his faculties.
"Never lose your faith in the destiny of India. There is no power on Earth which can keep India in bondage. India will be free and, that too, soon.”
- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose while addressing Indian students in Europe, in the mid-1930s.
THAT -- and many other assertions and exhortations -- by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose became popular aphorisms in Europe when he was on a well-planned tour of the European continent under the cloud of a possible global war, during the mid-1930s. His mesmerising speeches, his charming personality, his knowledge, and most importantly his conviction in India’s destiny as a free nation in a short while made a tremendously positive impact on not just the Indians in Europe but also others. In those days, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose became a continental attraction for all people, including political and governmental leaders in different countries. They treated him as a representative of emerging India.
So strong was Netaji’s power to convince them about India’s destiny as an important member of the international community! Though everybody knew that India was under British control, everybody also believed that India’s freedom was only a matter of time if it had a leader of the charisma and character of Subhas Bose. Let there be no mistake in our understanding of those times that there was not one single other Indian leader who had such an influence on the international mindset, other big names notwithstanding.
It is during that period that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was on an assignment from a British publisher to write a book -- which finally turned out to be his iconic creation titled “The Indian Struggle”. The very reason that a British publisher agreed to publish the book on India’s freedom struggle was that it was Netaji who was to write it.
That was the strength of character of the man. That was the charm he exuded. And that charm also brought to his his life’s sweetheart -- Emilie Schenkl. Through one Dr. Mathur in Vienna, she first met Netaji Bose in 1934 and got hired as his stenographer and secretary to write the book. A few years later, the two married, and later got a daughter as well -- Anita, who now lives in Germany.
These anecdotes, however, add only a fraction to the understanding of what Netaji Bose was like. He was beyond all those small pointers to his personality. He was a national figure, a statesman par excellence even though he represented a country under alien rule. He was an intellectual of tall order, an orator of rare merit, and a thinker-philosopher in national cause without parallel.
After Netaji gave up his Indian Civil Service membership after having passed the test with aplomb, he took the plunge into the freedom struggle. Back home in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the early 1920s, he was repeatedly arrested by the British. Later, in order to work freely with such interventions, he moved to Europe in the early- and mid-1930s, a period currently under discussion here. Netaji made the best use of that period which he chose himself with a clear plan in mind. In that effort, he proved himself to be the best ambassador at large of an emerging India which would become free sooner than anybody could imagine. He became the sole voice of India internationally -- despite the different political alignments operating all over. So convincing were his ways that he became acceptable to everybody across all dividing lines in every country of the European continent -- except, of course Britain. But even there, the common people were impressed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose -- which was why a publisher assigned him to write the book “The Indian Struggle”. In those few years, Netaji became as influential and popular a personality as any European leader.
Today, we must understand this aspect of Netaji’s personality. Only then will we be able to analyse his importance to us 80-90 years later.
True, his life was almost like the ones presented in cinematic stories -- full of courage of conviction, supreme confidence, high-calibre intelligence, superlative personal charm, adventure of rare kind, far-sightedness, a pathological belief in India’s great future, and above all the commitment to do everything possible to bring that mental picture into reality.
One of the most endearing and enduring qualities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was his sense of complete control over himself -- a gift possibly he got out of his strongly and deeply spiritual inner personality. Those who knew him personally through thick and thin have noted that he was always calm and in complete control of all his faculties. Nothing, absolutely, nothing could disturb him or perturb him. In the thick of several dense and tense moments, Netaji was seen taking critical decisions that demanded a complete command of detail -- which we have considered in the previous chapters of this current series, when he formed his Government of Free India, or the Indian National Army (for which he even had the calmness to select the famous martial song Kadam Kadam Badhayen Jaa ... , to decide upon the saluting slogan Jai Hind!
What a mastery of detail! What a sense of purpose that did not leave even a nudget that others would often ignore or miss!
And, it was Netaji who was the first to form an all-woman combat brigade of the INA -- with Captain Laxmi as its head. He also inducted an all-women medical corp, too, in the INA operating right behind the frontline ops in the thick of war -- which was way ahead of the whole world in those days.
We must understand all these details if we want to know what Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose means to all of us. He was just a national leader; he was a leader which Destiny sent for us!