Deshbandhu : Chittranjan Das

Category : Essays

Chittranjan Das whose life is a landmark in the history of India's struggle for freedom was amiably called 'Deshbandliu  (Friend of ‘the country). He belonged to an upper middle class Vaidya      family of Telirbagh of the then Dacca district. Alt fervent member of  the Bralimo Samaj. He was also well-known for his intellectual anil Journalistic pursuits for the sole object of attaining freedom.

Chittranjan Das was born on November 5, 1870 in Calcutta. Das descended family of vaidyas" (physicians). His father. Bhuben Mohan Das, wasalawyer d journalist. His mother's name was Nistarini Devi. 

After receiving his early education at the London Missionary Society's situation at Bhowanipore (Calcutta), Chittranjan passed the entrance examination ^BJ885 as a private candidate. He graduated from the Presidency College in 1890. then went to England to compete for the I.C.S., but he was "the last man out" in career. Therefore, he joined the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in 1894. developed a logical mind owing to his father and a liberal outlook and a deep I sense of hospitality owing to his mother. As a child. Das was deeply imbued with patriotism and recited patriotic poems. Das developed a keen interest in Bengali literature and read most works of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore.

He started practicing in the Calcutta High court and had the opportunity to defend national works like Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh. In 1907 he appeared as the defense lawyer of Brahma (bhadhav) Upadhyaya and Bhupendra nath Dutta who were prosecuted for sedition. His abilities as an advocate evoked general admiration, though he did not succeed in baffling the prosecution. The turning point in his career came when he was called upon to appear on behalf of Aurobindo Ghosh in the Adipose Bomb Case (1908). Nobody was ready to defend Ghosh except Chlttranjan Das. The entire trial lasted for 126 days, 200 witnesses were examined, 4000 paper exhibits and 500 material exhibits in the form of bombs and explosives were filed in the case. Das's concluding statements alone lasted for 9 days. Aurobindo  Ghosh was acquitted. Das accepted no fee for defending Ghosh; in fact he incurred heavy Rs. 15,000 by the time the case was finalized. It was due to his brilliant landing of the case that Aurobindo was ultimately acquitted. This case brought Das to the forefront professionally and politically. Chittaraman was also the defense counsel in the Dacca Conspiracy Case (1910-11). He was famed for his handling of I both civil and criminal law.

In 1917, Das came to the forefront of nationalist politics and was invited to preside over the Bengal Provincial Conference held at Bhowanipore. At the Conference Chittaranjan gave in Bengali his memorable presidential speech, animated by lofty Clams and patriotic fire. Chittranjan's political career was brief but meteoric. In course of only eight years (1917-25) he rose to all-India fame by virtue of his ardent f patriotism, sterling sincerity and oratorical power. His advent into politic took place at a crucial moment. In 191S, both at the Congress special Bombay and Annual Session in Delhi, Das opposed the scheme of Chelmsford Reforms as wholly inadequate and disappointing. The demand for me provincial Autonomy was successfully propounded in the teeth of vehement opposite I from Mrs. Besant and others. In 1919 Chittranjan went to Punjab as a member of the non-official Jalianwala Bagh Enquiry Committee. At the Amnlsar Congreis (1919) he made the first advocacy of obstruction while opposing the idea of co-operation with the Government in the implementation of the 1919 Reform 

In 1920 at a special session of the Congress held at Calcutta preside Lajpat Rai, Gandhiji announced his famous programme of Non-Cooper; it moved a resolution declaring the reforms "inadequate, unsatisfactory and disappointing." He appealed to the Government to make a conscientious for setting up a more responsible government in India. The Congress accepted Das 'I resolution with a few amendments. He, however, had the support of Pal. Malavia, Jinnah and Mrs. Besant. Three months later the Congress met at Nagpur  here he, however, accepted Gandhiji as leader. Das declared that he would give up his practice to set an example for the people. Das played an important role in the boycott of the arrival of Prince of Wales in Calcutta on November 17, 1920. When the Print stepped into the city he found it deserted. He organised the Congress Volunteers Corps for effectively implementing Congress programs. He enrolled one crore volunteers to raise Rs 1 crore for the Tilak Swaraj Memorial Fund. The volunteers were involved in picketing Government offices, shops selling foreign goods, liquor shops. They were also involved in selling khaddar. This led to an unprecedented mass wakening.. Besides the Non-Cooperation Movement, the large-scale exodus of the cooiics from a the Assam tea garden and the strike of the Assam-Bengal railway employees engaged his attention in 1921.

Not only lie was an astute lawyer but also a man with literary taste. He has works like Mala and Antaryam if poems expressing religious spirit and devotion),and Kishore Kishori (poem expressing the eternal love between I.ord Krishna and Radha). Along with Aurobindo Ghosh, he founded the famous Journal Bandc Mataram.He was also the Editor in Chief of the journal "Forward", a mouthpiece of the Swaraj party. The fallout of the boycott of colleges resulted in many students with no educational institution for study. Das set up the Bengal National College to fulfil the demands of the students. In December 1921 Das was arrested. While getting into the police car Das told the crowd. "Men und women of India, tins is my messageloymi, victory is in sight if you are prepared to win it through suffering." Conches were blown and flowers showered on Dcshbandhu (literally: friend of the nation) ashe was fondly called for the sacrifices he made for the freedom struggle, as the police car started. Deshbandhu was first imprisoned in the Presidency Jail and was shitted to the Central Jail where many of his followers were imprisoned. Dcshbandhu founded the Swaraj Party in 1923alongwithMotilalNehrufor maintaining continued participation in legislative councils. The party was soon recognized as the parliamentary wing of the Congress. In Bengal many of the candidates fielded by the Swaraj Party were elected to council. "1 he Governor invited Deshbandhu to form a government but he declined. The party came to be a powerful opposition in the Bengal Legislative Council and inflicted defeats on three ministries.

 The Calcutta Municipal Act of 1923 was a major landmark in the history of local self-government in India. The Swaraj lists were elected to the Calcutta Corporation majority in 1924. Deshbandhu was elected mayor and Subash Chandra Rose was appointed Chief Executive Officer. After giving up his legal practice Deshbandhu went from a richest man in Calcutta to poorest. His liabilities amounted to one lakh rupee's. The only asset he had was his huge building in Calcutta which he wanted to the nation- Deshbandhu set up a final. Which was later made the Deshbandhu Memorial Fund through Ghandhi Ji intervention to clear his liabilities, built temple, established an orphanage and provide education to the masses. The total amount collected by the fund amounted to eight lakh rupees. Deshbandhu’s home was converted to a hospital for women and is called Chittranjan Seva Sadan.

 With the legalization of the oppressive Bengal Ordinance which authorized arrest of individuals suspected of terrorism without probable cause, the struggle with the Government became more intense. Das had returned with a high fever from the Belgaum Congress session of 1925. When he heard that the ordinance was to be legalized on January 7, 1925. Deshbandhu declared from sickbed. "The Black Bill is coming up for discussion. I must attend at any cost and oppose it. "He was taken to the Council on a stretcher attended by two doctors. I he bill was defeated.

Chittranjan passed away on June 16.1925 at Darjeeling the age of 55. Great as a jurist, Chittranjan and was the greatest and most dynamic leader of the then Bengal. On Deshbandhu death. Subash Chandra Bose said, "The death of Deshbandhu was for India a national calamity.”



1. Struggle—battle, conflict. 2. fervent—ardent, burning, characterized by intense emotion, 3. hospitality'—cordial reception, kindness in welcoming guests or strangers. 4. appeared—give a certain impression or have a certain outward aspect, seemed, came out, 5. admiration—esteem, wonderment. 6. presidential—relating to a president or presidency, befitting a president- 7. idealism—high-mindedness, the doctrine  that ideas are the only reality. 8. patriotism—nationalism, love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it. 9. sterling—greatest, superlative- 10. inadequate—poor, short, not sufficient to meet a need. II. propounded—advised, counseled. 12. obstruction— impediment, impedimenta, obstacle. 13. implementation—carrying out, execution. 14. amendments—cracklings, rectifications- 15. unprecedented—having no precedent; novel. 16. awakening—arousing, wakening, rousing. 1 7. mouthpiece—embouchure, gum shield. 18. legislative—relating to a legislature or composed of members of 3 legislature. 19. intervention—intercession, a policy of intervening in the affairs of other countries, 20. suspected—distrusted, mistrusted. 21. calamity—cataclysm, tragedy.


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