Subhas Chandra Bose was born in a Bengali Kayasth family on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa, to Prabhavati Devi and Janakinath Bose (an advocate). He was the ninth child of a total of fourteen siblings. Janakinath Bose was awarded the title of Rai Bahadur by the British. On account of the anti- Indian policies of the British rulers, Janakinath returned the title and also resigned from the post of Public Prosecutor.


S C Bose studied in an Anglo school at Cuttack until the sixth standard and then shifted to Ravenshaw collegiate school. From there he went to the Presidency College, where he studied briefly. His nationalistic temperament came to light when he was expelled for assaulting Professor Oaten for his anti-India comments. Bose later passed his B.A. from the Scottish Church College. He left for England to appear in the ICS examination. In 1920 he passed the examination with the highest marks in English and 4th overall. This meant an almost automatic appointment. But he didn’t want to be a member of the bureaucracy; he then took his first conscious step as a revolutionary and resigned from the service He was the first Indian to resign from the Indian Civil Service. His belief was, “the best way to end a government is to withdraw from it.”

Contribution to Nation

Bose was a staunch Indian nationalist. As a logical sequel to his patriotic zeal, Bose developed an invincible faith in India’s destiny, and hence took up the case of India’s independence as a spiritual goal and a righteous cause. India featured in his thought not as a mere territory but as a spiritual being, a living thing.

Bose was of the firm view that no country could win its independence without any sacrifice and without fighting a war. Such a conviction led him to advance a militant strategy of direct action. He exhorted all people to be prepared for dharamayuddha, i.e., making sacrifice for a righteous cause.

From the moment of his plunge into politics in 1921 till the time of his resignation from the Presidentship of All India Congress Party in 1939, the meteoric rise of his popularity and public appeal alarmed the British. The British at the earliest opportunity encaged him in the prison. All these developments could not hamper and dampen the spirit of this adventurous and forward looking young man. He laid the foundation of ‘Forward Block’. Through this organisation he wanted to give shape to his political ideas and plans. Through his writings also he tried to spread his views.

Scouting for support abroad

Bose from his own analysis came to the conclusion that all efforts of the Indian themselves may not be sufficient to expel the British and, therefore, he wanted to rouse international public opinion in favour of India’s liberation movement.

He established contacts with various European nations to elicit their sympathy and support for India’s Freedom struggle. He met Mussolini in Italy, Felder in Germany, D. Valera in Ireland and Roman Rolland in France. Once when Bose was on a house arrest, he realized that he could not do much in India being in prison or house arrest most of the times, so he decided to escape.

The Second World War, he thought, provided such an opportune movement he was looking for and afforded him with that moment to organize an army and equip it with arms and ammunition to launch an arms struggle against British rule in India. It was for this reason Bose escaped from India during the war to seek international help so as to fulfil his determination to win India’s freedom. His aim was a draft support of a couple of millions of Indian civilians in Southeast Asia and recruit Indian soldiers employed with the British colonial army.

Netaji’s journey from Peshawar to Kabul and then to Moscow and thereon to Berlin, Japan and Singapore was an epic in itself. Only his iron will and the burning desire to free India from foreign rule, enabled him to endure the rugged mountainous route, great risks of capture and freezing weather.

At Singapore, on 4th July 1943, a reception was held in his honour. Rash Behari Bose transferred the mantle of the Indian Independence League to Netaji. On 25th August 1943 he was formally appointed the Commander-in-Chief of the INA.

Netaji called upon the soldiers to conduct themselves in such a manner, that their countrymen may bless them and posterity may be proud of them. While lamenting the odds confronting his forces in the INA, he inspired them with confidence saying: “I can offer you nothing for the present except hunger, thirst, privation, forced marches and death, but if you follow me, I shall lead you to victory and freedom.”

Thus, while assuring his soldiers that he will be with them in darkness and sunshine, in sorrow and in joy, in suffering and in victory, he was himself tireless, taking little sleep and working far into the night so as to fulfill his promise.

He was all for social upliftment of women and wanted them to have equality of status with men. He himself created an example by setting up the Rani of Jhansi Brigade consisting only of women so that the latter could be prepared to play due role in the liberated independent India. The clarion call of INA was ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Chalo Delhi’.

Netaji and Spirituality

When he was barely fifteen years old, he underwent a great inner revolution – psychic, emotional, mental – after studying the writings of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda’s scientific interpretations of the Vedanta philosophy and his concept of Yoga showed him the right direction in life. In fact, Swami Vivekananda’s lifelong dedication to the task of bringing about a harmonious relation between science and dharma through Vedanta gave a new dimension and vision to Subhas Bose’s questing soul. He believed that it was only through service to humanity that one could gain a deeper spiritual knowledge and enduring self-realization.

He couldn’t bear the sight of illiterate, starved, unsheltered millions of fellow countrymen. The sufferings of the Indian people all-around him, further intensified the revolutionary fervour in him and while thinking of them, he forgot even about his own self. When he saw the plight of an old, infirm woman, sitting outside his home in a miserable and pathetic condition, he stopped going to college by train, and helped her with the amount he saved by walking three miles to his college. In the sufferings of the countless Indians, he saw the reflection of bleeding Mother India and he was prepared to shed the last drop of his sweat and blood for improving their lot.

His unwavering faith in God, impressed everyone who came into close contact with him. While Chittaranjan Das was his political guru, his spiritual mentor was Swami Vivekananda. He used to visit frequently, often late at night, the Ramakrishna Mission Ashram in Calcutta. When he went to bed, he almost always kept under his pillow a small book — a pocket edition of the Bhagvad Gita.

The process of organising like-minded people for socially useful work had been started by him right from the childhood. When he was just a school-going child at Cuttack he organised a group of like-minded fellow students to educate the illiterate people of the villages. Along with his friends he went to the rural areas, and helped the needy people. In Calcutta also, during his student life, he joined an organisation which was looking after the orphans. The volunteers of this organisation, with gunny bags in their hands, had to go to the people and collect rice and other eatables for the orphans. Inspite of his affluent background and mental conflicts, while begging for his less fortunate brethren countrymen, he went ahead with his determination. During the vacation, when he came to Cuttack, he opted to visit those villages which had been seriously affected by the epidemic of cholera. It must be remembered that in those days cholera was a fatal disease and even relatives used to desert the patients. Though its treatment had been invented, it was not readily available.

He repeatedly and emphatically declared in his public speeches that if INA succeeded liberating India, he would toss over that freedom to the people and retire into spiritual oblivion.

Netaji – A True leader

Inspired by his leadership, his followers in Berlin honoured him with the name “Bose Netaji”, acknowledging his stature as a leader.

His call for nation was: “GIVE ME BLOOD AND I SHALL GIVE YOU FREEDOM” The British rulers acknowledged with serious concern Netaji as the most dynamic and influential political leader in all sections and religious groups of the country. Netaji’s popularity cut across religious lines. Muslims acknowledged and appreciated the leading role played by Netaji. Even Mohamed Ali Jinnah, who is acknowledged by all as the Father of Pakistan, had so much trust and regard for Netaji that he was willing to give up his idea of a religiously divided India, if Netaji led the nation. Muslim leaders of India’s eastern states echoed the same sentiment during the thirties.

Suggested activities/discussions for Gurus:

What Swami has said about Netaji?

  1. Sathya sai on Subhas Chandra Bose
  2. Please refer Sri Sathya Sai Speaks – 40 Chapter 14 – Exemplary qualities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
What does Swami say about a true leader?
Please refer Sai Baba’s Mahavakya on leadership by M.K. Chibber.
What is Desh Prem Divas?
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary is celebrated as Desh Prem Divas.
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