Birthday: November 5, 1870
Died At Age: 54
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Born in: Bikrampur, Dhaka (now in Bangladesh)
Famous as: Indian politician
political ideology: Self Rule
Spouse/Ex-: Basanti Devi
father: Bhuban Mohan Das
mother: Nistarini Devi
children: Aparna Devi (1898- 1972), Chiraranjan Das (1899- 1928) and Kalyani Devi
Died on: June 16, 1925
place of death: Darjeeling
Chittaranjan Das was one of the most prominent political and nationalist personalities in Bengal when Bengal was going through a very crucial time of ideological and political change. During the Non-Cooperation movement, Das became a symbol of patriotism and courage. He was the one who first started to boycott everything British, including clothes. Das was a lawyer by profession and made a name for himself when he returned to India after finishing his studies abroad, took up law practice and defended the great Sri Aurbindo Ghose in a court suit filed against him. He soon left law and got knee deep into the nationalist movement and with his political vision and foresightedness, tact and oratory skill, he was chosen to be the leader of Congress party in Bengal. He took active part in the Non-Cooperation movement with Gandhi and even went to jail in the process. But after the failure of the movement, he became disillusioned and proposed a strategy to end dyarchy but Congress did not accept it and he formed his own party - Swarajya Party - along with Motilal Nehru. For his strong belief in the concept of self government for India, he was called Deshabandhu.
Childhood & Early life
Chittaranjan Das was born in 1870 in Bikrampur, Dhaka (now Bangladesh) in to the famous Das family of Telirbagh to Bhuban Mohan Das. His father was a solicitor and journalist who used to edit the English Church Weekly, The Brahmo Public Opinion.
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Das finished his studies from the Presidency College in Kolkata in 1890 and then went to England to pursue higher studies. He wanted to complete his civil service examination from there. Although he flunked in the exams but he joined the Inner Temple and was called to join the bar.
He was engaged in law-practice for a very long time but it was ultimately in 1909 that he rose to prominence for defending Sri Aurobindo Ghose, the famous nationalist leader of that time. Ghose was charged with involvement with the Alipore bomb case.
He was a nationalist from the very beginning and became an active member of the Students’ Association at Presidency College, Kolkata. His was politically was active from 1917-25.
During this time, he chaired the Bengal Provincial Conference and proposed an idea for village reconstruction through the foundation of local self government, cooperative credit societies and the renewal of cottage industries. He also started attending the Indian National Congress sessions.
With his oratory skills, political vision and diplomacy, he soon became an important leader of the Congress and joined Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation movement in 1920.
For his involvement in Non-Cooperation movement, he was arrested along with his wife and son in 1921 and was sent to prison for 6 months. After that, he was elected as the president of the Ahmedabad Congress. After failure of the Non-Cooperation movement, Das proposed his new strategy to end diarchy.
His proposal was rejected by almost everyone in Congress, which is why he formed the Swarajya Party with Motilal Nehru. The party became a huge success in Bengal and earned majority of seats for itself in the legislative councils in 1924. Das became the first popularly elected mayor of Kolkata.
In the same year, Das jotted down together his popular Communal pact to encourage peace between Hindu and Muslim community India.
Personal Life & Legacy
Das married Basanti Devi in 1879 and the couple had three children together: Aparna Devi, Chiraranjan Das and Kalyani Devi. Basanti was also a freedom fighter in her own right and plunged into the freedom movement.
In 1925, Das started to suffer with poor health and eventually went to stay in his mountain resort in Darjeeling. He passed away due to severe fever. Mahatma Gandhi led his public funeral procession.
At the time of his death, Gandhi publically 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.”
His wife, Basanti Devi, is also known for efforts during freedom struggle and was referred to as ‘Ma’ by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
To honour his memory, many institutions have been named after him - 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.
Deshbandhu always had a flair for writing and this was evident from his literary magazines, Narayan, Mala, Sagar Sangit, Kishore-Kishoree and Antaryami.
He helped Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghose in publishing Bande Mataram, an English language weekly that promoted the ideology of swaraj.