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Title: Chitta Ranjan
Author: Das, Sukumar Ranjan
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chitta Ranjan" ***

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                            CHITTA RANJAN

                          Sukumar Ranjan Das

                          _Price--12 annas._

     Printed by the METCALFE PRESS 72, Boloram Ds St., Calcutta.

       *       *       *       *       *


To The Sacred Memory of

Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak,

The Prophet of Nationalism
          in India,

This Life of a Noble son of
         Mother India


humbly dedicated

CALCUTTA,      }
_December, 1921_.       }             SUKUMAR RANJAN DAS.

       *       *       *       *       *


Family connections and early life,                         1

Choice of profession and career as a lawyer,               9

Chitta Ranjan's contributions to Bengali Literature,      16

Chitta Ranjan in his private life,                        19

Chitta Ranjan as a symbol of Neo-Hinduism,                26

Chitta Ranjan's patriotism,                               30

Chitta Ranjan as a politician,                            46

Chitta Ranjan's part in the Non-co-operation,             55

       *       *       *       *       *



Family Connections and Early Life.

Encircled by the rivers Padma and Meghna lies the famous land of
Bikrampur, once the pride of Eastern Bengal and the cynasure of the
whole of Hindusthan. In its days of prosperity it not only supplied
many fashionable articles of fine taste to the people of the East but
also attracted scholars from all parts of India as it was then one of
the greatest centres of culture of the Hindus. Round the land of
Bikrampur sailed down the river Padma many a vessel loaded with
merchandise when in its palmy days it carried on trade with Ceylon,
Sumatra and Arabia.

       *       *       *       *       *

In this land of learning and culture was born the great Brahmin prince
Silavadra who was the teacher of the Chinese traveller Hiant-Chuang.
It is this Bikrampur which can claim to be the birth-place of Dipankar
Srignan, the great teacher of atheism. Here was also born Biravadra,
the highest prelate of the famous Buddhist Temple at Nalanda. Lastly
towards the beginning and end of the nineteenth century many a noble
son of Bikrampur played a great part in the religious reform of the
Brahmo Samaj and in the national awakening of the Swadeshi days.

In this land of Bikrampur there is a small village called Telirbag
which is the ancestral home of Srijut Chitta Ranjan Das. He comes of
a respectable Vaidya-family of Eastern Bengal. His great-grand-father
Babu Ratan Krishna Das was highly respected for his charity and
benevolence. Chitta Ranjan's grand-father, Babu Jagadbandhu Das was
the eldest son of Ratan Krishna. Jagadbandhu was the senior Government
pleader of Rajshahi and had an extensive practice. He earned a good
deal but spent even the last farthing in allaying the distress of his
poor relations and neighbours. His charity was proverbial in
Bikrampur. He maintained a guest-house in his village and was very
keen about its proper management. There runs a very interesting story
of his unique zeal about this guest-house. One day it occurred to him
that he should see if his servants of the guest-house performed their
duties regularly. He at once set out in a boat and reached his native
village just at midnight. He then sent a man to the manager of the
guest-house to enquire if there would be board and lodging for a
fatigued stranger. The servants in charge of the house were much
annoyed as they were just then going to sleep after their usual hard
work and did not care to entertain a guest at such a late hour. At
this Jagadbandhu's anger knew no bounds, he came there immediately and
severely scolded his servants warning them for the future. Jagadbandhu
was also very kind-hearted. There are many instances of his goodness
of which we shall here relate only one. In his old age one day
Jagadbandhu was going to a distant village in a palanquin; on the way
he noticed an old worn-out Brahmin trudging along the road barefooted.
Jagadbandhu was much moved, he got down and asked the Brahmin to take
his seat in the palanquin. Thereupon he himself walked the whole
distance covering over three miles. Besides, Jagadbandhu was a poet
and a patron of learning. His verses on some of the sacramental rites
are still read with admiration in every Hindu house of Eastern
Bengal; their pathos and sentiment are no less admired by all lovers
of poetry. These noble qualities of the grand-father--his hospitality,
benevolence and poetic endowment came down to Chitta Ranjan as a
natural heritage.


Chitta Ranjan's father Babu Bhuban Mohan Das, was a well-known
Attorney of the Calcutta High Court. For a great part of his life he
was connected with Bengali journalism. As editor, first, of the Brahmo
Public Opinion and subsequently of the Bengal Public opinion, he made
a very high position for himself among Bengalee journalists. His style
was simple and lucid, and his manner of exposition was so forcible
that it was rare even in more successful periodicals of those days.
His courage and truthfulness were exemplary. Once in his capacity as
editor of the Bengal Public Opinion he severely criticised in his
paper a judgment delivered by one of the Judges of the Calcutta High
Court. As luck would have it, shortly after this, Bhuban Mohan had to
file an appeal before the same Judge on behalf of an accused on whom
the sentence of death was passed by the Sessions Court. The Honourable
Judge showed signs of indifference for the appeal. Bhuban Mohan with
his high sense of duty had the courage to remind the Judge that even
if His Lordship had any personal feeling against him, he still hoped
to get adequate justice for a poor accused whose life was trembling in
the balance. These spirited words had the desired effect. The Judge
was highly pleased and acquitted the accused after an impartial review
of the case.

Bhuban Mohan was a sincere patriot and had always the welfare of his
country at heart. Like many English-educated Bengalees of his
generation, he threw himself heart and soul into the Brahmo Samaj

Bhuban Mohan's Brahmo faith was but the development of the
monotheistic element in Hinduism. His Brahmoism was but a spiritual
form of the religion taught by the Hindu Sastras. He did not believe
in Idolatry it is true, but he was no less a Hindu than the followers
of the Sastras. He showed in word and act, that his Theism was not an
exotic, planted and watered by the licentiousness of European
influences, but a plant of native growth rescued out by the men of his
school from the thorns and thistles of popular Hinduism that choked

His personal life and more particularly in his dealings with his Hindu
relatives, he belonged to the old Hindu type. His sincerity,
generosity and modesty were things very rare in this selfish world. As
an attorney he earned a good deal, but spent whatever he earned for
the support of his poorer relatives. Indeed he spent upon them more
than his finance allowed and consequently got involved in heavy
liabilities. He was not a slave to fashion nor did he spend his
earnings recklessly. Yet he was forced, during the closing years of
his professional life, to take refuge in the Insolvency Court. This
was mostly due to the treacherous way of the world. There are some
people amongst us who find delight in deceiving others in any way
possible. Bhuban Mohan was not in want of such lip-deep friends who
were good enough to relieve him of much of his earnings as a return
for the many benefits they derived from Bhuban Mohan. His elder
brother Babu Durga Mohan Das who was one of the leading Vakils of the
Calcutta High Court, spent his all to free him from heavy debts. But
as fate would have it, he had to get himself declared as an Insolvent.
This turn of fortune weighed heavily on Bhuban Mohan's mind and caused
the break down of his health.

Bhuban Mohan's eldest brother, Babu Kali Mohan Das, was noted for his
courage and uprightness. In his most brilliant career at the Bar which
was unfortunately cut short by death, we get an unique account of his
spirited championship for truth and justice. We shall here give only
one instance from among many. Once in a civil suit before Justice
Louis Jackson who was known to be a man of an irritable temper Kali
Mohan was arguing some law-points which the learned Judge failed to be
convinced of. Kali Mohan was annoyed and remarked that he was
surprised to see that His Lordship could not understand in two hours
what any of his first year law-students would in half an hour. His
Lordship was highly offended and said in a fury that he would refer
Kali Mohan's conduct to the Chief Justice and if his argument was
considered to be wrong, his Lordship would disbar Kali Mohan. His many
friends at the bar advised him to make an apology but Kali Mohan was
firm and if it was his fate to be disbarred he would rather earn his
livelihood by serving as a school-master than submit to the ignominy
of an apology. Sir Charles Barnes Peacock, the then Chief Justice of
the Calcutta High Court, gave his verdict in favour of Kali Mohan when
the case was referred to him and Kali Mohan came out honourably
acquitted. The noble example of Bhuban Mohan's liberality, Durga
Mohan's self-less philanthropy and Kali Mohan's uprightness went a
great way towards shaping the future character of Chitta Ranjan.

Chitta Ranjan was born at Calcutta on the 5th of November 1870.
Shortly afterwards Bhuban Mohan came to stay at Bhowanipur and Chitta
Ranjan was admitted into the London Missionary Society School whence
he passed the Entrance Examination in 1886. He was subsequently
educated in the Presidency College and took his degree in 1890. He was
much disappointed with the result as he narrowly missed Honours in the
B. A. Examination. However he sailed for England to qualify himself
for the Indian Civil Service. From his boyhood he was rather
deficient in Mathematics and therefore with all his proficiency in
literature he could not secure high position in the University
examinations. But Chitta Ranjan gave considerable promise of
exceptional literary and oratorical gifts even when he was a student
in the Presidency College. The habit of making speeches grew upon him
even in his boyhood when he would gather his friends and playmates in
his house and begin to deliver a speech imitating the voice and
posture of an orator to the great amusement of his people. Professors
and fellow-students at college all hoped that he would one day turn
out as one of the most powerful speakers of India. This hope has amply
been justified.

Chitta Ranjan went to England and began to prepare for the Indian
Civil Service. At that time the late Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji was trying
to get himself elected a member of Parliament from Finsbury so that he
might personally state Indian grievances before the British
Parliament. Chitta Ranjan had then just appeared in the Civil Service
Examination, but the result was not yet out. He came to Dadabhai's
assistance and made some political speeches in connection with the
Electioneering Campaign. Some of the speeches were very favourably
noticed by the English and the Indian press.

While in England, deeply versed in the literature of western
countries, Chitta Ranjan grew a thorough-bred Englishman in dress and
manners. But not-with-standing all this he was a true Indian at heart.
A single instance from Chitta Ranjan's life in England would justify
this remark. In 1892 when Chitta Ranjan was still in England one Mr.
James Maclean, a member of Parliament, while delivering a lecture,
passingly remarked that Indian Mahammadans were slaves and the Hindus
were indentured slaves. This offensive remark wounded the feelings of
young Chitta Ranjan. He at once set about in convening a meeting of
all the Indians in England. The Indians assembled in Exeter Hall where
Chitta Ranjan made a powerful speech protesting against the conduct of
Mr. Maclean. The city of London was in a state of excitement over this
matter and the leading journals of London in commenting on the speech
of Chitta Ranjan gave a prominent place to the subject of the meeting.
The Liberals in London convened a huge meeting at Oldham under the
Presidentship of Gladstone where Chitta Ranjan was invited to make a
speech on Indian affairs. In a speech on "Indian Agitation" he gave a
powerful display of his oratorical gifts and love of mother-land. In
that huge assembly he stood erect and boldly said:--

"Gentlemen, I was sorry to find it given expression to in
Parliamentary speeches on more than one occasion that England
conquered India by the sword and by the sword must she keep it!
(shame) England, Gentlemen! did no such thing, it was not her swords
and bayonet that won for her this vast and glorious empire; it was not
her military valour that achieved this triumph; it was in the main a
moral victory or a moral triumph. (cheers) England might well be proud
of it. But to attribute all this to the sword and then to argue that
the policy of sword is the only policy that ought to be pursued in
India is to my mind absolutely base and quite unworthy of an
Englishman." (Hear, hear)

In the same speech he also remarked:--

"We now find the base Anglo-Indian policy of tyranny; the policy of
irritation and more irritation, of repression and more repression; the
policy which has been beautifully described by one of its advocates as
the policy of pure and unmitigated force."

The result of this agitation was that Mr. James Maclean had to submit
an apology and was forced to resign his seat in Parliament.

But all this opened the eyes of the Bureaucratic Government by whom
Chitta Ranjan was not considered fit for the Civil Service and though
he came out successful in the open competitive examination, his name
was chucked off from the list of probationers. Even now in many a
table talk he speaks of this event and says with a smile--"I came out
first in the unsuccessful list." Chitta Ranjan's near relations were
mortified at his failure, for at that time his father was involved in
heavy liabilities and was passing his days in mental agony. During
Chitta Ranjan's stay in England the whole family were put in such
pecuniary embarrassments that for want of proper allowance from home
he had to live upon hot water and a piece of bread for a couple of
days together. For this reason his well-wishers thought that it would
have been a great help to his family if he could secure a lucrative
post under Government, on the other hand it required patient waiting
even for a brilliant scholar to make a name at the bar. However Chitta
Ranjan joined the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in the early

It was no doubt a great gain for the country that Chitta Ranjan could
not get into the "Heaven-Born service". For once a Civilian, he would
have exerted all his powers to reach the highest rung of the ladder
and could have found no opportunity of ever mixing with his countrymen
and of working for their welfare. Happily, Providence wished it, and
mother India was not deprived of the services of a patriotic son who
would in future lay his all at her feet.


Choice of profession and career as a lawyer.

In the year 1893 Chitta Ranjan came back to India and joined the
Calcutta Bar. The profession of law was not to his taste, for his
literary talents dictated him to take up the role of a teacher. But
the consideration of the heavy liabilities of his father left him no
other alternative. He thought that in the legal profession alone was
there any chance of clearing off his paternal debts. To choose a
profession is always a perplexing business and it was doubly so in the
case of Chitta Ranjan. It is especially perplexing if to choose a
profession means to discover one's own capability and to do the work
one is fitted to undertake in life. "How unfold one's little bit of
talent; and live, and not lie sleeping while it is called To-day."
That is the great problem. But it occurs only to those who are
troubled with a sense of duty and not to those whose ambition is to
"get on". It was therefore no small embarrassment for Chitta Ranjan to
choose the legal profession.

Within a short time of his joining the Calcutta Bar, Chitta Ranjan
took upon himself the responsibility of all his father's debts; but as
a newly enrolled Barrister, he earned very little and therefore could
not hope to clear the heavy debts of his father immediately. This
forced him at the very commencement of his professional career to join
his father in seeking the protection of the Insolvency court. It was
not because he wished to get rid of the liabilities but in the absence
of any other alternative he declared himself as an Insolvent which act
weighed heavily on his mind and was the source of much uneasiness.
However it was not only a filial duty, but a point of honour with
Chitta Ranjan to share the indignity with his father. This was the
first instance of Chitta Ranjan's honesty and uprightness during his
professional career.

The first stage of a professional career is very tormenting. There
lies all around only palpable darkness where occasionally beams forth
the flickering light of hope. At that time the whole future life
appears to be a desert where the faint ray of hope glimmers like a
mirage. But it is almost unconceivable how tormenting must have been
the state of mind when over and above this uncertainty there was the
uneasiness arising from heavy liabilities and consequent loss of
social prestige. But one thing haunted his mind day and night and
caused him the greatest pain. By his insolvency he was very seriously
handicapped not only in his professional but also in his public life.
But for it, Chitta Ranjan would have long ago thrown himself into all
political and patriotic movements of his country and won the position
of leadership which has now fallen upon him and to which he was
entitled by his capacity, patriotism and uncommon talents.

Though his exceptional abilities were universally recognised, from the
very beginning of his career, as a member of the High Court Bar, he
could not secure adequate scope for them for a good many years;
pecuniary struggles forced him to abandon the chances of a successful
practice in the High Court for the mofussil practice which is more
profitable to a junior Barrister. Indeed at that time he was put into
such pecuniary difficulties that he could not even meet his house-hold
expenses with all his exertions and on many an occasion he had to walk
the whole way to the court for want of tramfare. But his was a spirit
which the frowns of adversity could not daunt. By dint of energy and
perseverance he pushed on and on till at last he became one of the
most prominent and honoured members of the Bar. True genius does not
long remain concealed, it waits for an opportune moment to reveal
itself. Chitta Ranjan's genius as a lawyer waited for such an
opportunity and in no time manifested itself before the admiring gaze
or the public.

The years 1907 and 1908 are ever memorable in the history of Bengal.
The current of a new spirit had flowed in, inundating every nook and
corner of the province. The soul of the nation became awake. A divine
touch had just broken the eternal sleep of the nation. Lashed into
action by the high-handed measures of Lord Curzon, the lethargy of the
people died away, they tried for the first time to stand upon their
own legs and boldly face the world without fear of death. In an evil
moment Lord Curzon sanctioned the partition of Bengal against the
united voice of the people. This led to the manifestation of a new
spirit in Bengal. A heavy out-burst of Anti-European feeling followed;
a strong hatred against every form of Europeanism, a revengeful
attitude to their commerce and industry, a growing apathy to
everything associated with them, led to the repudiation or abandoning
immediate Anglicised past, and a new spirit entered into politics and
created a mighty and dynamic yearning towards a truly national future.
This had for its realisation at its basis Swaraj, National Education
and Boycott.

Persecutions were inaugurated by the Bureaucratic Government. On the
third of May 1908 in the still hours of night Srijut Aravinda Ghosh,
the leader of the national movement of Bengal, along with other
brilliant young men were arrested on a charge of being implicated in a
conspiracy against the established government. Evidence of all sorts
was piled up by the prosecuting counsel. At this critical moment
Providence sent Chitta Ranjan to take up the case in defence of
Aravinda and other accused. The prosecution dragged on for more than
a year. For this long period Chitta Ranjan conducted the defence case
at a great personal sacrifice. This celebrated conspiracy case pushed
Chitta Ranjan into the fore front of the Calcutta Bar. For more than
six months he was engaged in this case, and even for his house-hold
expenses during these months, he had to incur a large debt. The
acquittal of Aravinda at once raised the reputation of Chitta Ranjan
in the eyes of his countrymen. After this he took up the defence of
the famous Dacca Conspiracy case without charging any fees at a great
personal loss and also volunteered to defend the boycott cases of
Bengal earning thereby the lasting gratitude of the whole nation.
Providence also rewarded him amply for his good work and from the very
day that he came back to take up the broken threads of his High Court
practice, he found himself on the high road to both fame and wealth.

We have already said that under peculiar circumstances Chitta Ranjan
was forced to take shelter in the Insolvency Court. But it was never
his intention to deceive his creditors and no one could with propriety
ascribe this motive to Chitta Ranjan who spent his earnings right and
left for allaying the distress of the needy and the poor. Consequently
as soon as he found his position in the legal profession secure,
Chitta Ranjan's first thought was to remove the stain of insolvency
from his father's name and his own and he started to pay off every pie
of those old debts. "This is the first time", said Mr. Justice
Fletcher, "that a discharged insolvent publicly accepted his old
liabilities and applied for a formal discharge of his insolvency."
This unusual act of strict uprightness raised Chitta Ranjan Das to the
position of a great moral hero.

During his professional career Chitta Ranjan conducted many cases.
Since the release of Aravinda he was engaged in almost all the
note-worthy cases of the High Court and of the mofussil on one side
or the other, his daily fees exceeding a thousand rupees. His
reputation as a profound lawyer spread even outside Bengal. In the
long-drawn Dumraon Raj case he has all along been engaged on the side
of the Dumraon Raj. When Mr. Vaidya, the then secretary of the Home
Rule League in the Central Provinces was sentenced to eighteen months'
rigorous imprisonment, Chitta Ranjan went to Nagpur to defend him. Mr.
Vaidya was acquitted and Chitta Ranjan became very popular in the
Central Provinces. On the acquittal of Mr. Vaidya, Chitta Ranjan
addressed many meetings on Swaraj and although he earned nothing in
the case, he gave a large donation to the local Home Rule League. The
citizens of Nagpur as a mark of deep gratitude and respect presented
to him an address in a silver casket. After a few months of this case
Chitta Ranjan went to Rangoon to defend Dr. Mehta and his co-workers
in the national cause who were convicted under the Defence of India
Act. Mr. Das addressed the court on the illegality of the Act itself
securing thereby the release of Dr. Mehta and others. Shortly after
this he was engaged by the Kutubdia Internees at Chittagong. Those
young men were kept in a house infested with serpents and they were
compelled to fly away for fear of death. But this was a grave offence
in the eyes of the Government.

In all these cases Chitta Ranjan charged no fees, but conducted them
with the utmost zeal. Whenever he was engaged in a case he made it a
point to bring all his intelligence and capacity to bear on it. It was
not rare in his life that he meditated on a case for hours together
before coming to any conclusion. He would then be so deeply immersed
in contemplation that he lost all external consciousness like a _Yogi_
wrapt in meditation upon something serene and divine.

He had often returned briefs of cases to which he thought he would not
be able to give proper attention. Legally he was not bound to return
the fees but moral scruples dictated him this course. For such acts of
honesty he was much respected by the litigants. Often he had taken up
the cases of the poor without charging them any fees and thereby
earned the lasting gratitude of his countrymen. It was for his honesty
and integrity apart from his legal acumen that the Government of India
selected Chitta Ranjan from among the leading counsels of India to
conduct the Munition Board case even when they knew him to be the
leader of the extremist party in Bengal. At first Chitta Ranjan
hesitated to represent the Crown and told the Government that unless
he was allowed to follow the dictates of his conscience to the best
interests of his country he would not accept the brief. When the
Government agreed in all these conditions he gave his consent to the
contract. The accused party knew that Chitta Ranjan had not yet
received brief for the Crown, they came to his house, placed before
him a cheque of several lacs and entreated him again and again to come
to their defence. But Chitta Ranjan, true to his words, said with a
smile, "Gentlemen, I am sorry I cannot comply with your request, when
I have once given the Government my words of consent, I am morally
bound to take up their case." The greedy merchants were taken aback at
such indifference to money and faithfulness to his promise; they could
not but admire this act of Chitta Ranjan, though they had to go away

Throughout his professional career he showed courage and independence.
We shall here cite an instance of his uprightness. In a case at
Noakhali one Mr. Cargil, the local magistrate, was an witness for the
Crown. He was given a special seat in the Court. Chitta Ranjan was on
the defence-side, his searching cross examinations annoyed Mr. Cargil
who in an insulting tone called him "Babu." Chitta Ranjan would not
tolerate this. He said with a retort "Mr. Cargil, you know that out
of courtesy I have allowed you a special seat instead of making you
stand in the witness box. I hope you will not fail to return the same
courtesy to others." Chitta Ranjan was not made of such stuff as to
bear any insult. Whenever there was any injustice done in a court, he
would protest against it fearlessly and if it was not rectified he
would leave the court unhesitatingly. It was for this reason that
Chitta Ranjan left the court in the Dacca Conspiracy case when in
spite of his protests the court was not just to his cause.

As a lawyer Chitta Ranjan earned a good deal. For the last three years
his income was about fifty thousand rupees a month. Many are of
opinion that no lawyer of India had ever earned so much. More over
there is no doubt that his income would have been much enhanced if he
could exclusively engage all his time in the legal profession. He took
up the political cases almost without any fees and also served on the
Punjab Enquiry Committee for more than four months at a great personal
sacrifice. This unrivalled practice he has given up unhesitatingly at
the call of his mother country.

Such was the career of Chitta Ranjan at the Bar for about a quarter of
a century, rich in details, famous for acuteness and noble in


Chitta Ranjan's Contributions to Bengali Literature.

Long before Chitta Ranjan was able to take an active part in politics
his genius was revealing itself in literature. In 1895 he published a
volume of lyrics, "Malancha", which introduced a new element of
freedom and realism into the modern literature of Bengal. Some poems
of Malancha support atheism and this made Chitta Ranjan very unpopular
in the Brahmo Samaj. Many Brahmos headed by the late Pandit Shivanath
Sastri did not even attend the marriage ceremony of Chitta Ranjan
which took place in 1897 shortly after the publication of "Malancha".
After this he published four more volumes of Lyrics__Mala, Antaryami,
Kishore-Kishori and Sagar Sangit. The first three volumes contain
poems inspired by the Vaishnava cult which is the special heritage of
Bengal. Chitta Ranjan's lyrical talent is sufficiently prominent in
these four volumes, some of the poems are in matter and form gems of
perfect beauty, the charm is much enhanced by the pathos with which
the poet describes his yearning for God whom he seeks with the
enthusiasm of a lover.

But most popular of Chitta Ranjan's lyrical volumes is his Sagar
Sangit (or songs of the sea). In this work the poet has woven in
lyrics the high sentiments which stole into his heart as they came
dancing on the waves of the sea. Here he has touched a new chord of
his musical lyre which sang out emotionally:--

    Straining my ear
    I listen to thy chanting
    O sea, in the midst of this
    Light--encircled dawn!
    What words, what tune!
    My heart is full even to over-flowing!
    Yet do I not understand
    What is it that sounds
    Amidst this morning
    So resonant with this music.

Enchanted by the sublime beauty playing upon the waves the poet
addresses the sea and sings:--

    What hast thou made me to-day?
    My mind is like a harp of hundred strings!
    With the touch of thy finger it trembles and quivers
    It bursts out in music in pride and in glory!

The closing song of Sagar Sangit is indeed very charming, full of
pathos and wrapt in high sentiment it leaves behind a serene harmony--

    Full of dumb weeping with no tears to ease
    To-day my heart is mad for thee, O soul;
    I have sought thee within thy million waves
    And wherever the sound of thy song resounds
    In the wonderous light and shades which to thee belong,
    I have sought thee every night and every day!
    O my friend Eternal; unknown to me my friend!
    O pilot of my soul!
    Take me away to-day, O take me thither
    Where thou art shoreless indeed!

In order to spread the Vaishnava culture and to give a healthy tone to
modern Bengali literature, Chitta Ranjan started a new Bengali monthly
the Narayana which secured for its contributors some of the highest
litterateurs of Bengal. In recognition of his literary services the
Literary Conference of Bengal which had its annual session at
Bankipore in 1915 elected him to be the President of the Literary
section where he read a paper on the lyrics of Bengal. Next year he
was elected the chairman of the Reception committee of the Literary
Conference in its annual session at Dacca. In the Narayana he wrote
many articles on the nature of Bengali poetry which show his intimate
acquaintance with the Vaishnava literature. It is necessary to mention
here that Chitta Ranjan's whole life is influenced by the ennobling
ideal of the Vaishnava poets; even his patriotism and love of country
are to a great extent modelled on that ideal. To understand Chitta
Ranjan one must know his poetry and to understand his poetry one must
be acquainted with the Vaishnava Culture of Bengal.


Chitta Ranjan in his private life.

The unfolding of a man's character depends to a great extent on the
atmosphere created by his family. Brought up by an ideal mother Chitta
Ranjan came to regard his country as the other self of his mother. The
sweet remembrance of his dear mother brings tears to his eyes and
gives him strength to suffer for his country. His mother was a noble
lady whose sense of duty was exceptional, whose piety exemplary and
fortitude unique. During the evil days of her husband when she could
not even meet her house-hold expenses and had no servants to wait on
her, she did every house-hold work with her own hands and prepared the
meals of her husband and children and other members of the house,
while she herself had to fast now and then for want of food; but all
this time a sweet smile played on her lips. Of her generosity and
liberality we shall here cite an instance. In her house at that time
there lived a poor relation of her husband. This man was a habituated
drunkard. Almost every day whenever he lost his sobriety he used
abusive language to Chitta Ranjan's mother. Bhuban Babu was much
annoyed and wanted to turn him out of the house, but his wife
prevented him by saying that the poor man would then die of starvation
and as for herself she did never mind the man's conduct. She was an
incarnation as it were of sincerity and generosity, to her could
justly be applied the maxim of "weeping with them that weep." In fact
the knowledge of other men's distress drew a flood of tears to her
eyes. She was a fountain of affection which was not reserved only for
her children. One of her husband's friends lost his wife on
child-birth. Chitta Ranjan's mother took charge of the newly-born baby
but unfortunately it did not live long. A few months before her death
at Purulia a poor maid servant of her house fell seriously ill and was
dying for want of diet, she arranged everything for the proper
treatment of the servant and saved the life of the poor woman. She was
always at the bed-side of the poor, was ready to give a helping hand
to the needy and tried her utmost to allay the distress of the
afflicted. No beggar went away disappointed from her door. She never
desired for luxury. She gladly parted with all her ornaments to repay
her husband's debts.

But in the midst of all these softer feelings she had a very strong
element in her composition. She was very sensitive. She would not
tolerate any injustice done to her. She was equally noted for her
liberality and uprightness. Chitta Ranjan's character was moulded to a
great extent on her mother's ideal. He was much devoted to his mother
who also loved him very dearly. But unfortunately she could not see
her dearest son at the time of her death. She laid on her breast
Chitta Ranjan's famous work "Sagar-Sangit" and privately told her
husband before she breathed her last that if she was to be born a
woman again she would like to have such a son. Just at the time of his
mother's expiry when Chitta Ranjan was coming from Bombay, he saw in a
dream in the train his mother appearing before him. Was it a

About six months after the death of his mother Chitta Ranjan lost his
father. He performed the Sradh ceremony with great eclat, the chief
feature of the celebration was the feeding of the poor. Chitta Ranjan
was personally present to see the hungry beggars take various sorts
of rich food to their entire satisfaction. It was his explicit order
that the poor should be given all that was liked by his father. It was
even a treat for the gods to see the poor beggars ring the sky with
loud shouts of applause and for many months it was a general talk in
the localities how Chitta Ranjan had fed the poor.

In his private life Chitta Ranjan had to pass through many tests. He
was the eldest son of his father and as such since his father's
illness the burden of maintaining and educating his brothers and
sisters fell upon him. He gladly took up this charge and the result is

His youngest brother, Basanta Ranjan was a rising Barrister of the
Calcutta High Court when his career was cut short by death. His only
brother now living is Srijut Profulla Ranjan Das who is a puisne Judge
of the Patna High Court, Profulla Ranjan is a renowned writer of
English verses some of which are inserted in Mr. Dunn's Bengali Book
of English verse. His sister Srijukta Amala Devi was famous throughout
India as a singer of songs, even the other day at the Besant session
of the Indian National Congress at Calcutta she thrilled the audience
with her charming voice when she sang the famous song "Bande Mataram."
A few years ago Amala Devi started an orphanage at Purulia where with
the financial help of her eldest brother she gave shelter to the
blind, lame and the suffering. While engaged in this noble work Amala
Devi passed away after a short but active career. Chitta Ranjan's
eldest sister lost her husband at an early age and Chitta Ranjan had
to look after her children. Another of his sisters died very young.
Chitta Ranjan's another sister Srijukta Urmila Devi who has recently
lost her husband has dedicated her life and energy to the services of
her country and has started an ideal institution for educating
Bengali girls on national lines.

In 1897 Chitta Ranjan married Srijukta Basanti Devi, the beautiful and
accomplished daughter of the late Babu Barada Halder, Dewan of the
Bijni estate. In her Chitta Ranjan has found an ideal house-wife and a
noble partner in life. She is the best consoler in her husband's
distress, the most impartial critic of his poetry and now the constant
companion in his patriotic activities. Her face always beams with a
holy light of virtue and her eyes smile with a pure lusture. She is
highly educated though without any degree. In 1919 the ladies of
Amritasar in the annual session of the All-India Ladies' Conference
nominated her as their President. Basanti Devi naturally fought shy of
public appearance but she could not disregard the request of her
sisters of the Punjab in the hour of their trial and suffering. In her
address she greatly dwelt upon the building-up of the Indian womanhood
on Eastern lines. "Remember" she said, "the ideal of Indian womanhood
is Sati, Sabitri and Sita. If our experience so requires it, reform
Indian ideal to suit the present times but seek not to destroy the
eternal ideal of India. Our home shall always be the Indian home."

Chitta Ranjan earned a good deal in his life, but spent his all for
the cause of the suffering humanity. Charity gives him unmixed
pleasure. He who takes is blest but thrice blessed is he that gives.
For that pleasure consists in the fulfilment of one's life-mission. So
unlimited was his charity that when in this non-cooperation movement
he gave up his practice to serve his mother country he had no standing
income but a debt of about three lacs of rupees. For he never cared to
provide for the future. Had he wished it, he could have now become
one of the richest Zamindars of Bengal. But wealth has no charm for
those whose heart is moved by the sufferings of others. Even now when
he himself has taken the bowl of a beggar for the cause of his
country, the poor never return from his door disappointed. It reminds
us of a story we heard in our childhood that there lived once in our
locality a poor beggar, he was so kind-hearted that he used to give
away his day's earning to any of his fasting neighbours, while he
himself had to fast the whole day.

Christ once said to his disciples that their right hand should not
know what their left hand does. This is also true of Chitta Ranjan's
private charity. His charities have been many though the general
public know very little of them. He has a fine heart, which is ever
ready to help a fellow in distress. We shall here cite an instance
which though of a trifling nature compared with his public donations,
yet goes a great way in indicating the natural bent of his mind. About
five years back a poor boy who was a candidate for the Matriculation
Examination was going from door to door collecting money for his fees.
Accidentally he came to the house of a near relation of Chitta Ranjan.
This gentleman advised the boy to see Chitta Ranjan who would pay his
fees for the mere asking. The boy acted accordingly. Now Chitta Ranjan
rises late from his bed in the morning and the boy being impatient
asked a servant of the house if he could have an interview with Chitta
Ranjan. The servant was not in a happy mood and accordingly to get rid
of him answered him in the negative. The boy came back disappointed
and reported the matter to the former gentleman who then advised him
to go again and wait on the staircase without asking the favour of any
servant till Chitta Ranjan would come down and hear everything from
him personally. It was easy for the boy to act up to this advice for
no surly durwan ever blocks the door-way of Chitta Ranjan and the
custom of presenting visiting cards is unknown in his house. The boy
succeeded in getting an opportunity of telling his story to Chitta
Ranjan. He at once ordered to give the boy the whole amount of his
fees and also made an arrangement for his stay at Calcutta till the
examination was over. This is one of the many instances of Chitta
Ranjan's private charity which have never been known to the public.

Chitta Ranjan possesses a very tender heart which ever feels pained at
the suffering of others. As a devotee of Sri Krishna and Sri Gouranga
sympathy for the poor and the distressed is naturally a part and
parcel of his life. As we have already mentioned that he started an
orphanage at Purulia which was managed under the supervision of his
sister and was a boon to the suffering humanity till she was snatched
away by the cruel hands of death. He has spent a good deal in the
upkeeping of many orphanages and is now the president of the
Bhowanipur Orphanage which is managed by a band of self-less workers.

Chitta Ranjan is a great patron of learning. He has financially helped
many litterateurs and has borne the expenses of publishing their
works. For this act alone Bengali Literature will ever remain grateful
to him. He also gave pecuniary assistance to many educational
institutions; he was one of the special donors to the building fund of
the Belgachia Medical College. He also financed to a great extent the
literary conferences which were annually held for the cultivation of
Bengali Literature. The other day he presented about 350 rare
manuscripts of old Bengali literature to the Bangiya Sahitya
Parishad. In fact Chitta Ranjan has always been connected with almost
all the literary activities of this country which owed much to his
pecuniary assistance.

In concluding this chapter we should mention here that as a human
being Chitta Ranjan had some frailties in his private life, some
blemishes in his character; but an impartial review of his whole
private life would justify the remark:--

    "Take him for all in all
     We shall not look upon his like again."


Chitta Ranjan as a symbol of Neo-Hinduism.

The study of western Philosophy led Chitta Ranjan to believe in
atheism. This revolting note has found expression in some of his
poems. But providentially the light of Vaishnava Philosophy came to
dispel this atheistic gloom from his mind. Chitta Ranjan gradually
understood the lofty ideals of Vaishnavism, the sublimity of Hindu
theism. This Religion of Love and Sacrifice became a part and parcel
of Chitta Ranjan's life. For this transformation in him his mother's
teachings were to a great extent responsible, for they had a great
deal to do in fostering and developing the germs of excellence with
which he was born. He came to believe in the religious rites of
Hinduism and on the death of his mother he performed the Sradh
ceremony according to the Hindu rites. He is very fond of Vaishnava
Sankirtana which he held now and then in his house. Chitta Ranjan
gradually became a zealous devotee of Hinduism and had his name struck
off from the role of members of the Brahmo Samaj.

But Vedantism which is the source of the Brahmo faith in Bengal left
its marks on Chitta Ranjan's mind. The key-note of the Vedanta is its
doctrine of Oneness. One reigns everywhere,--in the rippling of the
waters of the ocean,--in the murmuring of the leaves,--in the melody
of the birds,--in the charming beauty of blooming flowers,--and in the
effulgence of the moon and the sun. This one is the Self. There is
nothing but this self. For this reason, though a Hindu in the true
sense of the term, Chitta Ranjan is an avowed opponent of the
caste-distinction prevalent in our society. He has two daughters and a
son. His elder daughter was married to a member of the Kayastha
community and he married his only son to a Vaidya girl of Western
Bengal. These marriages he celebrated according to the Hindu rites
with the sanction of great Sanskrit scholars. But as usual the whole
orthodox Hindu society was in a state of tumult over the inter-caste
marriage of Chitta Ranjan's elder daughter. The bigoted leaders of
society who sacrifice even their conscience for the so-called social
prestige got very nervous and tried to create a scene but Chitta
Ranjan was firm. He was at first not in favour of even appointing a
Brahmin priest to conduct the ceremony. He argued as he had no
caste-prejudice he should not prefer a Brahmin. He should rather
select a Vaidya scholar deeply versed in the Sastras to conduct the
marriage ceremony of his daughter. For days together Chitta Ranjan and
his wife had long discussions over this matter but could not arrive at
any final conclusion. One evening about a fortnight before the
celebration, his wife, who was in favour of appointing a Brahmin
priest left the room, when she failed to convince her husband. She did
not come back till a late hour at night and found her husband alone in
the room and in great mental agony tears were rolling down his cheeks.
She approached him and said:--"Just consider a bit coolly. You want to
reform the present Hindu society but not to leave it altogether. Then
you should do it step by step. If you now do not even have a Brahmin
priest, no one will have the courage to follow you and your purpose
will not be served. On the other hand, if you try to introduce
inter-caste marriages only and do it now with the sanction of a
Brahmin priest, many will perhaps follow your lead. So that
considering everything you should now have a Brahmin priest to
conduct the marriage ceremony of our daughter". Chitta Ranjan was
convinced and exclaimed with deep emotion, "Oh! What light have you
shown me!" The matter was settled and Chitta Ranjan was relieved of
his mental agony. The marriage ceremony was also smoothly performed
according to Hindu rites by a Brahmin priest. In fact on every
critical occasion Chitta Ranjan has found in his wife a wise
counseller and a true friend. Many a Sastric scholar of India-wide
fame approved of this marriage, the list included men like
Mahamahopadhaya Pandit Haraprasad Sastri, late Mahamahopadhaya Dr.
Satish Chandra Vidyabhusan and Mahamahopadhaya Pandit Yadeveswar
Tarkaratna. We must mention here to Chitta Ranjan's credit that this
marriage took place long before Mr. Patel's Bill was introduced in the
Imperial Legislative Council.

To purge the Hindu society of the thorns and thistles that have beset
it is a problem very dear to all true Hindu patriots. With this end in
view Chitta Ranjan never fails to protest against the degrading
customs of our society. Once in a table talk he remarked, "What a pity
that our society is not even now roused from its eternal sleep. Take
the instance of the present dowry system. Many a Snehalata has been
sacrificed in its burning flame, yet the parents of bride-grooms are
not brought to their senses. They are ever determined to make money by
selling their sons even at the cost of social well-being and family
happiness. But the parents of brides do never rise up against this
degrading custom, fearing lest they mar the future of their girls by
losing desirable bride-grooms. The parents should rather educate their
girls; if by chance they do not get married, they can earn their own
livelihood and may be so many Carpenters and Nightingales in our
society". Such is the view of Chitta Ranjan about the present Hindu
society. Generous, large-hearted and magnanimous as Chitta Ranjan is,
there is something in the texture of his mind that is above the
ordinary run. Few men who battle for the right, have the calm
fortitude, the cheerful equanimity with which Chitta Ranjan battles to
fulfil the burning aspirations of his soul. He stands high among those
who have been able to display

    "One equal temper of hearts,
     To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield".


Chitta Ranjan's Patriotism.

In course of one of his lectures Chitta Ranjan once remarked, "Work
for my country is part and parcel of all the idealism of my life. I
find in the conception of my country, the expression also of
divinity." In fact the welfare of our country is very dear to his
heart, for this he has given his all ungrudgingly and spent his
valuable time selflessly whenever the occasion demanded it. Keenly has
he felt the unhealthy condition of our villages and the illiteracy of
the people, and long has he striven to convince our countrymen that
our national regeneration lies in the sanitary and educational reform
of our villages. Under his guidance and patronage there has been
started several years back a private society for the improvement of
the Bikrampur villages. It has for its main object the sanitation of
the villages and the education of the people of Bikrampur and last not
least it tries to make the poor villagers independent of others in
earning their livelihood. Chitta Ranjan has now and then given large
donations to its fund. About three or four years back he gave in the
hands of the workers of the society a large sum for digging a tank to
supply pure drinking water to the villagers. In the early part of the
year 1919 when with the visitation of a great famine in East Bengal
most people of the villages were in imminent danger of dying of
starvation, this society under the patronage of Chitta Ranjan and his
cousin Satish Ranjan started relief work in the villages. The distress
was no doubt acute but it was to a great extent being relieved. But
just towards the close of the year a heavy cyclone passed over East
Bengal and the ever-violent Padma as if to vie with the violence of
the wind ran inundating both her banks; the whole of Bikrampur
appeared desolate, and heaps of dead bodies were seen floating on the
river for several days together. Most of the villagers were left
houseless, their provision had also been swept away and they fell an
easy prey to imminent starvation and contagious epidemic. Chitta
Ranjan could no longer stay quiet at home. He himself appeared on the
scene at a great personal sacrifice. Under his guidance was started a
relief society called the "Bengal Relief Committee" of which Chitta
Ranjan was the Treasurer. He himself gave a donation of Rs. 10,000 and
persuaded many of the large-hearted Marwari Merchants of Bengal to
contribute a large sum to the fund. On this occasion Chitta Ranjan
visited almost all the villages of East Bengal in spite of all sorts
of difficulties on the way; he went to the villages and started
centres of relief work, each centre comprising three or four village
unions. The centres were entrusted with proper funds to feed and
clothe the distressed and homeless villagers. The relief committee
tried a new innovation in social service which was very commendable as
a means of removing poverty from the villages. It arranged to pay the
poor villagers each a small amount of money with which they were to
revive their home industries and thereby out of the sale-proceeds they
would be able to make themselves independent of any external pecuniary
help. For as regards the poor the great object should be to make them
independent; the great danger is of making them more dependent. It is
no doubt a good thing to make them comfortable, but in helping people
if we know that we love them and not pity them, we must try to form
their character, otherwise our charity will be cruel. We read a short
poem in our early years which throw some light on the nature of true

    "I gave a beggar from my little store
    Of well-earned gold. He spent the shining ore
    And came again, and yet again, still cold
    And hungry as before.
    I gave a thought, and through that thought of mine
    He finds himself a man, supreme, divine,
    Fed, clothed, and crowned with blessings manifold,
    And now he begs no more."

Such is the nature of Chitta Ranjan's charity which has aimed not
merely at alleviating want, but at creating independence.

Patriotism is with Chitta Ranjan another name for socialism by which
we mean his ardent love for the suffering humanity. He loves this
country as it gives shelter to his poor brethren whom his religion has
taught him to look upon as incarnations of Narayana.

When in April 1917 the political leaders of Bengal asked Chitta Ranjan
to preside over the annual session of the Provincial Conference, he
delivered a speech in Bengali which was unique in character and form
and in which Chitta Ranjan stated that socialism and patriotism were
almost identical so far as our country was concerned. He said in
course of this speech:--

"Some people might say: 'This conference is for political discussion;
what has talk about Bengal to do with it?' Such a question would be
symptomatic of our disease. To look upon life not as a comprehensive
whole but as divided among many compartments was no part of our
national culture and civilisation.... Must we not view our political
discussions from the stand-point of the whole of our countrymen? And
how shall we find truth, unless we view life thus comprehensively and
as a whole?... After all, what are the ultimate object and
significance of this political thought and endeavour? If we wish to
express it in one word, we shall have to say--what has been said so
often--that the object of our politics will be to build up the
Bengalees into a nation of men.... It is therefore that we shall have
to ascertain what our present condition is, and in order to ascertain
this we shall have to take first into consideration the material
circumstances of our people. This again will require that we shall
have to enquire into the condition of our peasantry--whether
agricultural wealth is increasing or decreasing and whether
agriculture is flourishing or otherwise. This in its turn will lead us
to a further enquiry still, viz, as to why our people are leaving
their villages in increasing numbers and are coming to settle within
towns. Is it because the villages are insanitary or is there any other
reason for that? Thus we find that an adequate discussion of politics
will involve a consideration of agricultural questions as well as the
questions of village-sanitation. At the same time we shall have to
consider whether we can improve our material condition even by
bringing under tillage all the available culturable land of the
country. If we can't, then we shall have to consider the question of
industry and trade as well."

But why do we fail to enquire into the condition of our country in
this way? We never look to our country, never think of our countrymen,
of our past national history, or our present material condition, for
the vanity arising from false education has rendered us blind and
callous. Chitta Ranjan has truly remarked in the same paper.

"We boast of being educated; but how many are we? What room do we
occupy in the country? What is our relation to the vast masses of our
countrymen? Do they think our thoughts and speak our speech? I am
bound to confess that our countrymen have little faith in us.

... Besides, we seem to look upon them with contempt. Do we invite
them to our assemblies and our conferences? Perhaps we do when we want
their signatures to some petition to be submitted before the
Government; but do we associate with them heartily in any of our
endeavours? Is the peasant a member in any of our committees or

By the grace of God this mentality has now been changed. The masses
and the classes of our country have associated themselves in the
present national movement. The peasant delegates are now honoured
members of even the Indian National Congress. The note of warning that
Chitta Ranjan struck was very opportune. This set our leaders to feel
the heart-throbbing of our mother country. But what led us astray?
Chitta Ranjan has justly remarked:--

"Mimic Anglicism has become an obsession with us: we find its black
foot-print in every walk and endeavour of life. We substitute meeting
houses for temples; we perform stage-plays and sell pleasures in order
to help charities. We hold lotteries in aid of our orphanages; we give
up the national and healthful games of our country and introduce all
sorts of foreign importations. We have become hybrid in dress, in
thought, in sentiment, and culture and are making frantic attempts
even to be hybrids in blood. What wonder, then, that in this new
pursuit of western ideals we should forget that money is only a means
to an end and not an end in itself?"

What has made us shallow; why have we, the so-called educated, become
strangers to our own countrymen? For like other ideals, our ideal of
education also has become mean and impoverished; and so what was easy
and natural--we have made it complex and difficult. We must even now
beware and listen to the wise warning of Bankim--a warning all too
unheeded when it was first uttered. But one thing is certain that
unless we change the whole organism of our educational system and make
it harmonise with our national ideals even our existence is
threatened. For this education has created a wide gulf between the
educated and the masses, which our national existence demands to
bridge over. About our present system of education Chitta Ranjan has

     "It has imparted an element of unnecessary anglicism into
     our manners and modes of life--so that in outer seeming it
     might almost appear as if the educated Bengalee had little
     organic touch with the heart of his countrymen. Then, again
     this education has made us familiar not with things but with
     words; it has made us clever but not men.... We have
     acquired a despicable habit of looking down with contempt,
     upon those who have not received this English Education of
     ours; we call them "illiterate" and "uneducated" and sneer
     at their ignorance. But these uneducated countrymen have
     hearts and sympathies; they worship their gods, they are
     hospitable to guests, they feel for the suffering and
     distress of their neighbours.... To me it seems perfectly
     clear that if we want to lead our newly-awakened national
     consciousness in the paths of true knowledge, education
     should be diffused through the medium of our own vernacular
     and not through the unwholesome medium of English."

The reason for this ghastly failure in our national life is palpable
from other points of view also. We the educated few, never co-operated
with the masses of our countrymen. We are not only proud of our
education, but also proud of our wealth and proud of our caste: and
this three-fold pride has so deadened and blinded our senses that, in
all our endeavours we leave quite out of account those who are the
flesh, blood and back-bone of the land. The gentry of our country are
mostly ill educated and therefore their pride springs from emptiness.
To speak the truth, the so-called educated have no right to mix with
their countrymen. They are narrow, callous and anglicised. They fail
even now to understand that in this crucial moment of Indian History,
the whole country should stand as one in working out her future
destiny. Here the Hindus and the Mohammedans should co-operate, the
Brahmins, the Vaidyas and the Kayasthas should come out hand in hand
with the peasants and the chandals. Chitta Ranjan harped upon the same
theme in his presidential address at the Provincial Conference:--

"Those who constitute 40 out of 46 millions of our countrymen,--those
who produce our bread by their labour--those who in their grinding
poverty have kept alive the torch of their ancient culture and ancient
polity--those whom our English civilization and English culture and
English law-courts have yet been powerless entirely to corrupt--those
whom the oppression of Zemindars and Mahajans have failed to
crush--are we,--a corrupt and effete handful--are we their betters and
superiors? We boast of our Hinduism; but with our false pride of
caste we are striking Hinduism at its very root. Even now while there
is time, let us perceive our fearful and heedless blunder. In our
oppressed and down-trodden fellow-brethren let us recognise the image
of Narayana: before that sacred and awful image, let us abandon all
false pride of birth and breed and let us bend our heads in reverence
and true humility. These seething millions of your land--be they
Christians or Mahomedans or Chandals--they are your brothers; embrace
them as such, co-operate with them and only then will your labours be
crowned with success."

In taking a survey of our present condition, we have to think of the
poverty of the peasant-class, and closely connected with this question
of poverty is the question of village depopulation. The village is the
centre of our civilisation and culture; and hence the decay of
village-life is bound to cripple and enfeeble our body-politic. Now
the cause of this village depopulation is two-fold. In the first
place, there is the ravage of malaria and in the second place, there
is the temptation of city-life with its ease, luxury and commercial
and money-making facilities. Thus modern cities like some huge
reptiles are swallowing up the ancient village centres of our country;
and one of our chief duties will be to re-establish the health,
prosperity and welfare of the villages. In order to do this, we shall
have to improve the water-supply of our villages, to remove jungles,
to educate the common people in the laws of health and sanitation.
Also in order that agriculture may flourish, we shall have to
establish banking institutions upon a small scale. For this combined
and harmonious work we must have a plan. Chitta Ranjan has suggested
one in his presidential address at the Provincial Conference of

Our first step will be to organise all the villages of each district
into a number of village groups or unions. Where one village is
sufficiently large and populous, that by itself will constitute one
union or group. In the case of smaller villages, several of them will
be combined to form one group or union. Then a census must be taken of
the adult males of each village-union: These will form the primary
village assemblies; and they will elect from among themselves a
panchayet or executive body of five members. This panchayet or
executive body will have the sole administration of the village-group
in its hands. It will look to sanitation; it will arrange for
water-supply; it will establish night-schools; it will arrange for
industrial and agricultural education; in short the domestic economy
of the village-group will be entirely in the hands of the Panchayet.
Besides, in each village-group there will be a public granary; each
agricultural proprietor will contribute to this granary according to
his quantity of land; and in years of drought and scarcity, the
resources of this public granary will be drawn upon to feed the

In case of petty disputes, civil or criminal the panchayet will be the
sole deciding authority, but in the case of larger disputes, they will
report to the district civil and criminal courts; and their reports
will be treated as the sole plaints or complaints in such cases.

In the next place, the primary assembly of each group, will, according
to its population, select from five to twenty five members to the
district Assembly. These district assemblies will consist of members
numbering from 200 to 500 and will exercise the following powers:--

(1) It will exercise general supervision over the working of the
panchayets and the affairs of the village group.

(2) It will devise ways and means of the better performance of the
functions of panchayets; and it will be directly responsible for the
education and sanitation of the district capital.

(3) It will devise means for the improvement of agriculture and
cottage industries.

(4) It will supervise the sanitation of the villages included in each
village-group: and will be directly responsible for the sanitation of
the district council.

(5) It will start such industrial and business concerns as may be best
suited to further the resources of the district.

(6) It will employ chowkidars and peace-officers for the villages.

(7) It will have sole charge of the district police.

(8) Each district assembly will elect its own President and will
appoint sub-committees for the discussion of different subjects.

(9) For the provision of cheap capital, each district assembly will
open a bank: this bank will have branches in each village-group.

(10) The district assemblies will have power to raise by taxation the
money necessary for its requirements.

(11) The present local and district boards will be abolished.

(12) Necessary laws will have to be passed to place the primary and
district assemblies on a legal basis.

This out-line of work is very closely connected with Indian socialism.
This is what we now call Swaraj or self-government of the villages.
These institutions did actually exist in our country from very ancient
times; they grew and developed with our growth, and they have a
peculiar harmony with the genius of our national character. Chitta
Ranjan has therefore proposed only reversion to our older social
institutions. But life among us now is not so simple as it was before;
it has become complex, difficult and intricate. Hence what was
inchoate requires to be put into a system. The panchayet was a natural
out-growth of our ancient village community! It consisted of those
five persons who naturally and easily emerged into prominence by their
qualities of character and intellect. The authority of the panchayet
lasted only so long as the community at large tacitly accepted their
authority. Now the question arises, "Will the Government entrust so
much power to us?" Again there are the Anglo-Indian papers crying
themselves hoarse, "No no, there is so much of anarchism in the land,
it will lead to fearful abuses if the people are entrusted with any
large share of power." But the real fact is just the opposite, if the
people are given opportunities of serving their country on a larger
scale, the so-called anarchism will die out of itself. Of this Chitta
Ranjan says in his address:--

"Since the days of the swadeshi movement our young men have been
possessed with the ardent desire to serve their country. At the time
of the Ardhodoy yoga (the most auspicious moment for taking a bath in
the Ganges), and again at the time of the Damodar floods of 1913, this
desire for service found noble vent in action; and the help rendered
by our young men on these two occasions has been repeatedly
acknowledged even by high officials of the Government. But
unfortunately much of this noble energy and zeal goes utterly to
waste; there is no permanent channel through which it can be made to
flow; there is no work of durable utility to which we have been able
to apply it. Hence a feeling of impatience and despair has arisen in
the minds of our young men; and sedition is the outer manifestation
of this feeling of impatience and despair."

It will be the part of wise statesmanship not simply to check the
symptom but to cure the disease--not simply punish sedition but to
root out the deep seated cause which gives rise to it. Our young men
labour under the impression that the bureaucracy will give them no
opportunity of doing real service to their country. This impression
must be removed and they must be given opportunities for larger
co-operation in the affairs of administration of the country. These
young men have hearts to feel and a burning zeal for service; they
think that instead of being utterly suppressed the activities of these
young enthusiasts ought to be given proper field and scope. The
English have no doubt done us immense deal of good and we are grateful
to them for that. By holding before our eyes the ideal of an alien
culture and civilization, the English have roused us from the stupor,
torpidity and lethargy of spirit into which we had gradually come to
sink. They have helped to awaken our national consciousness and to
re-establish our national vitality. We are no doubt grateful for these
manifold services. But are there no reasons for the English to be
grateful to India? Are they not in honour bound in return of the many
benefits they have derived from us to give us every scope of shaping
our national life? Chitta Ranjan has also harped upon this point in
his address at the Provincial Conference:--

"I am confident that the praise and gratitude which are their due for
these manifold services will flow forth in an abundant measure from
our hearts. But let us look to another aspect of the question. What
was England before her advent to India? What was her position in the
hierarchy of world powers? Can it be denied that the sovereignty of
India increased the power and prestige of England a hundred-fold and
more? If then India has reason to be grateful to England, is not
England also under a corresponding debt of immense gratitude to India?
Of the gratitude of India, proofs have been forth-coming again and
again. Of the gratitude of England, the proof is now to come; and if
you refuse to grant our legitimate prayer, we shall take it that your
gratitude is an empty and meaningless phrase."

To a patriot when he goes to take a survey of the present condition of
India, the first thing that presents itself is the deplorable state of
the agriculturists; and that at once reminds us of our poverty. We all
know that in the absence of trade and commerce agriculture is the
chief means of our subsistence. In his address at the Bengal
Provincial Conference Chitta Ranjan has presented before us a pitiable
picture of our peasantry. The annual income of a peasant of our
country ranges from sixteen to twenty rupees. This amount is certainly
insufficient for a peasant even to keep his body and soul together. A
prisoner in a Government Jail in India gets Rs. 48 annually for his
subsistence. The comparison clearly shows that for bare subsistence
the peasants have to incur debts. There is not one single village in
Bengal where at least 75% of the inhabitants are not in debt; and
there are villages where this frightful indebtedness extends to the
whole of the population. Thus it appears, first, that the peasant by
tilling his land does not earn enough to give him an adequate
livelihood; and secondly, that out of the little that he earns a
portion finds its way into the pocket of the "Mahajan". And poverty is
the source of all corruption, in the case of the peasants poverty
grinds them in two ways. In the first place, it makes them weak,
feeble, spiritless, and in the second place it has become a frightful
source of theft and robbery. Thus from whatever point of view we
consider the matter, the removal of poverty seems to be one of our
chief and foremost problems.

In order to fight out poverty agriculture will not be sufficient for
us. Without industry and commerce our poverty will never be removed.
We had commerce though not on European lines. Time was when we earned
our own bread and wove our own clothes. We had corn in our granaries;
our cattle gave us milk; our tanks supplied us with fish; and the eye
was smoothed and refreshed by the limpid blue of the sky and the green
foliage of the trees. All day long the peasant toiled in the fields;
and at eve returning to his lamp-lit home, he sang the song of his
heart. For six months the peasant toiled in the field: and for the
remaining six months of the year he worked at the spinning wheel and
distaff as was most consonant with the natural genius of his being.
To-day that peasant is gone--his very breed extinct; gone too is that
house-hold with its ordered and peaceful economy of life. The
granaries are empty of their golden wealth; the kine are dry and give
no milk; and the fields once so green are dry and parched with thirst.
The evening lamp is no more lighted; the house-hold gods are no longer
worshipped; even the plough cattle have to be sold in order to give us
some poor and meagre sustenance. The tanks have dried up; their water
has become unwholesome; and the peasant has lost his natural freshness
and gaiety of temperament. What will remedy this? Chitta Ranjan has
thus said in his address--

"Agriculture is not sufficient to give us our subsistence. Trade and
commerce we must adopt; only our road must not be the road of
Industrialism. In the days of old when our life was natural, normal,
we had our own fashion and method of trade--a fashion dictated by the
law of our being, by the genius of our soul. There we find that when
the season of agriculture was over, our peasants would weave their
clothes and prepare other articles of domestic use. They had not to
look forward to Manchester to clothe them. Our cottage industries
have perished; and the muslin-industry of Dacca and other parts of
Bengal, once so famous and prosperous--has practically vanished. So
also has vanished cotton cultivation--once conducted on an extensive
scale but the secret of which now seems to have died out. Why should
we not take to the spinning wheel as before and weave our own clothes?
The brass ware industry of Bengal--that also has practically
disappeared, chiefly for lack of patronage; for economic prudence
aside, even our æsthetic taste has grown so coarse and vile that we
prefer false and tawdry imitations to genuine and durable articles of
value. Thus all our national industries have vanished and with these
have vanished our wealth and prosperity."

How to reconstruct these industries and restore a portion of our
ancient affluence? We must have no traffic with industrialism, for our
simple industries are powerless to cope with the dynamic force of
western industrialism. In the first place we have to give up our
luxury and licence. They have filtered down even to the cottage of the
cultivator. We must give them up if we wish to awaken the powers of
our latent self and so invigorate the whole of our social and national
life. Home-spun and coarse clothes should not prickle us. The
temperance and restraint which will be necessary in order to sacrifice
our luxury will be healthful and beneficent for our soul. Curtailment
of luxuries which means non-importation of foreign articles will
conserve our wealth and give a chance of new life to our dying
industries and starved handicrafts.

As a true patriot Chitta Ranjan foresaw as early as the year 1917 that
our national regeneration lay in the curtailment of our luxuries. To
get rid of the materialism of Europe we must turn to our home
industries. He advised his countrymen to fall back upon the spinning
wheel and to weave their own clothes, be they coarse or fine. He has
often said that until we, as a nation, are purged of the impurities
consequent upon western license, all our healthy growth must become
impossible. For it is certain, that

    "Nation grown corrupt
    Love bondage more than liberty--
    Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty."


Chitta Ranjan as a Politician.

Chitta Ranjan's life may well be compared to an Æolian harp which
gives out different notes as different gusts of feelings play on it.
With the internment of Mrs. Annie Besant it sounded a new note--a note
inspired by an ardent love of humanity. From this time dates his real
entry into practical politics. At a meeting held on the 25th July 1917
to protest against the internment of Mrs. Annie Besant, Chitta Ranjan
delivered a speech in course of which he remarked:--

"The Prime-Minister said the other day--'The development of India is
not only an economic but a political necessity, the British Empire is
founded not only upon the freedom of the individual but upon autonomy
of its parts uniting in one common-wealth people differing immensely
from one another in race, language, religion and colour.' The
utterances of His Majesty's Ministers are at once a promise and a
hope. Every order of internment is a protest against the redemption of
that promise and the fulfilment of that hope. I protest against these
internment orders because whether any promises have been made or not
every order of internment is a violation of natural justice and an
outrage on humanity.... I do not think that the God of Humanity was
crucified only once. Tyrants and oppressors have crucified humanity
again and again and every outrage on humanity is a fresh nail driven
through His sacred flesh.... The Anglo-Indian Press is never tired of
saying to us: "Do not be impatient, there is plenty of time." There is
no nation on the face of the Earth more patient than the Indian
Nation. But there is a limit to human patience and I say to those
doubtful friends, 'As soon as you transgress that limit, you forfeit
the right of asking us to be patient.' When we find the utterances of
our officials are at variance with their action, have we not right to
say, "What is the good of your making promises?--You do not really
mean what you say."... What are we that we should say "peace, peace,"
when there is none."

In course of another speech delivered at a meeting on October 2nd
1917, Chitta Ranjan dwelt at length on the policy of internment and
demanded the release of the gentlemen who had been interned. He

"There is hardly a home in East Bengal from which one or more persons
have not been interned. Every home in East Bengal is filled with
sadness to-day because these people have been snatched away from their
homes and imprisoned without trial or without proof. I say this policy
is un-British, is opposed to all the time-honoured traditions upon
which the British Empire is based. It is opposed to all rules of
common sense and prudence and uprightness and the sooner this policy
is abrogated the better for the peace and prosperity of the empire. At
a time when the British Government in its wisdom has declared its
policy that Home Rule in some shape or other must be granted to this
country, that some sort of responsible Government is necessary for the
foundation and preservation of the empire; is it wise then to detain
these men against popular opinion, against the universal desire of the
Indian people?"

On August 20, 1917, the Secretary of State made the most notable
utterance in the House of Commons:--"The policy of His Majesty's
Government, with which the Government of India are in complete accord,
is that of the increasing association of Indians in every branch of
the administration and the gradual development of self-governing
institutions with a view to the progressive realisation of responsible
government in India as an integral part of the British Empire." This
announcement gave rise to a new ray of hope in the minds of the people
who were growing dissatisfied with the existing system of government
and were demanding progressive reforms. The Anglo-Indians were mostly
against the policy of Self-Government in India. Some of them made very
angry speeches. One gentleman is reported to have said that if there
was a government by the people and for the people there would be no
security for life and prosperity. Chitta Ranjan gave a splendid

"If the Anglo-Indians want to make India their home, let them do so
and we will work hand in hand with them in the interest of the Indian
Empire. But if they come here to make money, and all their interest
lies in how best to make it, they are no friends of India, they have
got no right to call themselves Indians, they have got no legitimate
right to oppose the granting of self-government to the people of

In a meeting of the Anglo-Indians one Mr. Arden Wood was reported to
have said: "If racial feeling is to be dominant in Indian politics the
time will come, when, we the British, will either have to leave India
or reconquer it." It is difficult to take this foolish speech
seriously. In course of one of his speeches Chitta Ranjan referred to
it and said:--

"They may leave India if they find it unprofitable to stay in India.
They may stay in India if they find it profitable to do so but the
tall talk of reconquering India is a comical statement. If this
gentleman does not know, he ought to know that India was never
conquered. India was won by love and by promise of good government.
India was never conquered and God willing, it will never be conquered
for all time to come. India will impress her ideal, her civilisation,
and her culture upon the whole world."

Some of our countrymen believe that Chitta Ranjan bears an ill will
against the Europeans as a class. This belief has no basis at all.
Those Englishmen who had any opportunities of knowing him personally
would bear this out that much as he condemned the present system of
Bureaucratic Government he had no racial feeling against them. He has
many intimate friends among the Europeans. Sir Lawrence Jenkins, the
late Chief Justice of Bengal, who was on very good terms with Chitta
Ranjan, once enquired of him why he alone was not seen in the Calcutta
Club when many other respectable Indians graced it with their
presence. Chitta Ranjan openly spoke out his mind and said, "My Lord,
before answering your question, I should mention here a peculiar
custom of our country. Every Indian house-holder of the higher castes
has in his house a place fitted for religious discussions where
members of the lower castes are not admitted, but adjoining it he sets
apart another place where all are equally welcome. Your Bengal Club
and Calcutta Club can well be compared to the above two places. You do
not admit natives into your Bengal Club, but as if to show your
generosity you have fixed the Calcutta Club as a meeting place of the
Black and the White. But do you not think, my Lord, that when you make
this distinction you rather insult the Indians by admitting them to
the Calcutta Club?" Sir Lawrence Jenkins was much pleased with these
noble words of Chitta Ranjan and thence forward his respect for him
was enhanced in a hundred-fold degree.

Again in 1916 when Mr. Montagu came to India Chitta Ranjan was for the
first time invited to the Government House. He went there and learnt
that he was invited at the suggestion of the Secretary of State
himself. The subject for discussion was the political condition of
India at that time. In course of the conversation the question arose
if India was just at that time fit for self-government and His
Excellency the Governor was of opinion that she was not. Chitta Ranjan
could not bear this unjustified remark; he said with a retort--"If
after bearing the responsibility of educating India for the last one
hundred and fifty years, you have failed to make us fit for
self-government, the fault is surely not ours." His Excellency became
red with anger at these fearless words of one of his subjects and
immediately left the place. But Mr. Montagu was much pleased with this
just remark of Chitta Ranjan and talked with him for hours together
over many important topics relating to the welfare of India.

On another occasion when he was staying at England during the Puja
holidays one of his Bengali friends introduced him to Lord Morley.
After the formal introduction Lord Morley asked him, "Are you a
Native?" Chitta Ranjan replied with a smile, "Certainly I am." At this
frank reply Lord Morley was so very impressed that afterwards he
mentioned this fact to his friend Sir Lawrence Jenkins (who had just
then retired from the Chief-Justiceship of Bengal) and spoke very
highly of Chitta Ranjan. Sir Lawrence could not but then utter these
few words--"And this is the man your government wanted to deport."

In fact Chitta Ranjan has never borne any racial feeling against the
Europeans but has only opposed the present system of Bureaucratic
Government. In course of one of his speeches he has remarked:--

"When I ask for Home-rule or Self-Government, I am not asking for
another Bureaucracy. In my opinion Bureaucracy is Bureaucracy, be that
Bureaucracy of Englishmen, or of Anglo-Indians or of Indians."

When in accordance with the announcement of August 1917, Mr Montagu,
the Secretary of State came to India to learn at first hand what
reforms were actually wanted by the people themselves, the Nationalist
party of India thought it proper to convene meetings at different
places of the Provinces so as to advise the political associations of
the country to demand full responsible Self-Government at once. None
of the leading pleaders and barristers of Calcutta was ready to go to
the mufassil for that purpose at a great personal loss. But Chitta
Ranjan to whom the question of the welfare of his mother-country was
ever dearer than life itself could not but respond to this call of
duty. "Work for my country is part of my religion"--this is the motto
of his life. He left Calcutta, and visited different places and
educated the public in the question of national welfare on Indian
ideals. For though he obtained western education, he never forgot our
ancient ideals. Of this he spoke in a lecture at Mymensingh delivered
in October 1917:--

"Much as I venerate European culture, much as I love and much as I
acknowledge my indebtedness to the education which I had in Europe, I
cannot forget that our nationality must not rest content with
borrowing things from European Politics."

In a lecture delivered on the 11th October 1917 at Dacca, Chitta
Ranjan dwelt on the nature of the Self-Government that India stands in
urgent need of:--

"There is one thing to which I desire to draw your attention and it is
this; that in framing the scheme you must not be swayed by a feeling
that the Government will not grant this or grant that. What the
Government will grant and what the Government will not grant, that is
the business of the Government, we have got only to consider what is
necessary for our national well-being, if you find that certain steps
are absolutely necessary for our national development, do not fail to
put that down in your scheme out of timidity."

In course of another speech delivered on the 14th October 1917 he

"Our Self-Government does not mean the Self-Government of the Hindus,
the Self-Government of the Mahomedans; Self-Government does not mean
Self-Government of the land-holders; Self-Government means Government
by all the People of India in which all interests are to be
represented and if there are any classes who are depressed, they ought
to be told that the sooner Self-Government is introduced into this
country the better for them: they ought to be told that we have no
desire to restrict the franchise in any manner at all to the disregard
of any such interest, and if any kind of responsible government is
introduced into this country, which is made responsible to the people,
they will have the power in their hands to oppose any oppression or
injustice in every possible way."

Lord Minto was undoubtedly responsible for the reign of terror in
India; it was he who first introduced repressive laws in this country.
They were directed against the natural aspirations of the Indians.
While protesting against these laws Chitta Ranjan had the courage to
tell the Bureaucratic Government--"That we are fighting for the ideal
expressed by the King's Ministers; we are fighting for carrying out
that very policy which has been declared in England by His Majesty's

In 1918 the Congress and the Muslim League considered in a joint
meeting that Self-Government for India could be delayed no longer.
Otherwise the growth of Indian Nationality and the development of
Indian manhood would be impossible. The Bureaucracy in this country
would not grant it. Therefore it was necessary that Indian demands
should be carried across the seas to the great British Democracy. The
Indian National Congress and the Muslim League thought it proper to
send a deputation to England to tell the British Democracy that
Indians wanted the right to build up their own constitution--a
constitution which alone would enable us to secure the development of
Indian nationality and the development of Indian manhood. A public
meeting of the Citizens of Calcutta was held on the 18th March, 1918,
under the Presidency of Babu Motilal Ghose to support the Indian
Deputation to England, when Srijut Chitta Ranjan Das said:--

"It is plain that you may agitate as long as you like; you may demand
your right, as you have a right to demand, but you will not get the
Bureaucracy in this country to support you. You must, therefore, go to
their masters....

If we find that we are not to get Self-Government, we have at least
the right to get an honest answer. Let the British Democracy say, if
it likes, that this war is a war of liberation of humanity, but
liberation of humanity does not include the liberation of India. When
I consider the objections put forward to the grant of Self-Government,
I can hardly keep my patience. They say we are not educated enough to
get Self-Government. My answer is: whose fault is it? For the last 150
years you have been governing this country and yet you have not
succeeded in educating the people of this country to such an extent
that they may be fit for governing themselves. Do we not know that
Japan was made only in 50 years? You have had 150 years. Why is it
that at the end of that period we are told that we are not fit to
govern ourselves? Nobody really believes that the time has not
come.... We are further told that we are divided between many sects.
We follow different religions, we have got different interests to
serve and so on. If you say that we are not fit for Self-Government,
because we are divided in our interests, and in our religions, my
answer is that Self-Government and Self-Government alone is the
remedy of that."

It has in season and out of season, been dinned into our ears that a
subject people has no politics. It was therefore that political
discussions, had hitherto been carried on in the spirit of singing
laudation to the administration of Government, however palpable its
defects seemed to be. This mendicant spirit in politics has been
overthrown by the exertions of Chitta Ranjan and his compatriots in
the field of national work in this country. Chitta Ranjan's ideal of
political life was neither Utopian nor Quixotic. All that he demanded
was, that all men are entitled to have equal opportunities without
which the progress of human society and consequently the progress of a
nation comes to a stand-still. He wanted for his countrymen the
opportunities for self-realisation which would render pointless and
inappropriate at the present-day Matthew Arnold's remarks:--

    "The East bowed low before the blast,
        In patient deep disdain;
    She heard the legions thunder past,
        And plunged in thought again."


Chitta Ranjan's Part in the Non-Co-operation Movement.

While on the cessation of all hostilities in Europe India stood on the
tip-toe of expectation for the new age of freedom that was about to
dawn and while men conjured rosy visions of the future, Lord
Chelmsford inaugurated in an evil moment a policy of depriving India
of even the elementary rights of personal freedom and free
speech--rights which are most valued in an enlightened democracy.
Towards the close of December 1917 Lord Chelmsford thought it fit to
appoint a Commission presided over by Mr. Justice Rowlatt of the
King's Bench Division to investigate and report on revolutionary
conspiracies in India and to advise the Government to frame such
legislation as might enable them to deal more effectively with the
reactionary movements. The Commission was appointed without any sort
of compelling necessity and, to say the least of it, at a most
inopportune moment. The Commission held its sittings at different
places of India and after an one-sided and unjudicial enquiry
published a long report towards the close of April 1918. The war
having just then successfully terminated in favour of the Allies, the
Defence of India Act and other war-time measures which could only last
so long as the war continued, would necessarily cease to be in force
any longer and therefore the Commission suggested certain penal laws
as a more effective and permanent safe-guard against the so-called
anarchists of India. The report was emphatically protested against by
every section of the Indian press but in spite of all popular
opposition, Government drafted a bill substantially embodying the
recommendations of the Rowlatt Committee and hurried it through the
Imperial Legislative Council within six months of the report. The bill
is generally known as the Rowlatt Bill. The effect of its provisions
was two-fold: the Provincial Governments would be vested with an
authority similar to that which was given to them by the Defence of
India Act, and every person accused of a revolutionary crime would be
summarily tried by the tribunals specially appointed for the purpose.

Against such a cruel and tyrannical measure the whole of India
protested with one voice. Public feeling was in a state of high
ferment and yet in spite of all this, and in spite of the fact that
every Indian Non-official member of the Imperial Legislative Council
voted against the proposed measure, the Rowlatt Bill was passed into
Law in March 1919. The situation in India reached a state of very high
tension. Mahatma Gandhi advised his countrymen to take the Satyagraha
Pledge as the only means of securing redress for their grievances. The
pledge ran thus:--

"Being conscientiously of opinion that the Bills are unjust,
subversive of the principle of liberty and justice, and destructive of
the elementary rights of individuals, on which the safety of the
community as a whole and the state itself is based, we solemnly affirm
that in the event of these Bills becoming law and until they are
withdrawn, we shall refuse civilly to obey these laws and such other
laws as may be thought fit and further affirm that in this struggle we
will faithfully follow truth and refrain from violence to life, person
and property."

Mahatma Gandhi further suggested that the second Sunday after the
publication of the Viceregal Assent to the Rowlatt Act should be
observed as a day of humiliation and prayer, a twenty-four hours'
fasting should be observed by all adults, all work should be suspended
for the day and public meetings should be held on that day in all
parts of India at which Resolutions praying for the withdrawal of the
measure should be passed. Indians gladly and freely took this pledge.
Of the leaders in Bengal Chitta Ranjan was the first to rally round
Mahatma Gandhi in preaching the Satyagraha vow. In March 1919 at a
huge meeting of the citizens of Calcutta he delivered a speech in
Bengali on Satyagraha in course of which he said:--

"To-day is Mahatma Gandhi's day. To-day is the day for us to express
the afflictions of our heart. In days of prosperity we forget
ourselves, but on evil days when fallen we realise ourselves and hear
the message of God.

To-day at this national crisis we must search for the soul of the
nation. This soul is to be attained by strength. What is that
strength? It is not brute force, but the force of love. This is what
Mahatma teaches us and this is the message of all India. The
realisation of this message requires the abandonment of selfishness,
envy, malice, and hatred. Why do we protest against the Rowlatt Act?
We know it for certain that its enforcement means the dwarfing of our
national being. To avert this calamity we should abandon all envy and
malice and infuse into the hearts of our countrymen an ardent love for
mother-country. This is why Mahatma has said--"Do not hate even your
enemies, for the victory of love is ensured." This agitation,
therefore, springs from love and righteousness; it is the throbbing of
the heart of a nation. The only means to gain our object is
self-sacrifice--self-sacrifice inspired by love."

The campaign of Satyagraha was started and what followed is written
large in characters of fire and blood in the pages of Indian History.
The Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, Sir Michael O'Dwyer, did in an
evil moment start a counter-campaign of repression. Drs Kitchelew and
Satyapal, two popular leaders, were arrested and Mahatma Gandhi who
proceeded to the Punjab from Bombay was prohibited from entering the
province, was arrested and sent back to Bombay. A strong rumour to the
effect that Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned spread over all parts of
India and exasperated the populace. Disorder broke out at Calcutta,
Ahmedabad and many other places, but it took a serious form in the
Punjab where martial law was proclaimed, and scores of persons were
illegally hauled up before the martial law tribunals. Counsel for
defence was disallowed and the unfortunate victims were all sentenced
to death. In April 1919 the civil population of Amritasar convened a
public meeting at the Jallianwalla Bagh to protest against some of the
high-handed and tyrannous measures of the Punjab Government. The
military were ordered by their Commanding Officer, General Dyer, to
open fire on the harmless and defenceless crowd of men, women and
children. In the name of public peace aeroplanes bombed the civil
population from above and men were made to crawl on their bellies as a
sign of penitent submission. This conduct of the Punjab authorities
met with the full approval of Lord Chelmsford.

Independent public opinion demanded a thorough and sifting enquiry
into the atrocities of the Punjab and in compliance with the insistent
public demand, Mr. Montagu, the Secretary of State for India,
appointed a Committee consisting of official and non-official members
and presided over by Lord Hunter to investigate and report on the
Punjab disorders. The Indian National Congress deputed a Committee
consisting of Mahatma Gandhi, Srijut Chitta Ranjan Das, and other
prominent leaders to conduct an independent enquiry of the
disturbances. Chitta Ranjan was not then keeping good health, but the
call of the mother-country was paramount with him. For about four
months he served on the Committee at a great personal sacrifice. The
report of the Committee which was published in due time contained a
severe denunciation of the most cold-blooded atrocities committed by
the authorities of the Punjab. The official report, though the
European members forming the majority attempted at whitewashing,
contained much evidence to show that there had been some excessive use
of military force. Both the reports astounded the world with
first-hand knowledge of the unparalleled atrocities of the Punjab. The
matter was agitated in Parliament and the staunch friends of India
there tried their best to get justice done to India. The Secretary of
State expressed his confidence in the Viceroy, the Viceroy his
confidence in Sir M. O'Dwyer, who in turn fully approved of the deeds
of General Dyer and this gentleman openly prided over his bloody
performances at Jallianwalla Bagh. But the most shameful termination
of the affair was the fact that the House of Lords hailed General Dyer
as the Saviour of India. However four things relating to the Punjab
event augmented the discontented feeling of the people bringing home
to them their utterly helpless condition. First, the minority report
of the Indian members of the Hunter committee and the shameless
whitewashing of the European members of the same committee; secondly,
the non-impeachment of General Dyer and Sir M. O'Dwyer; thirdly, the
heinous approbation of Dyer's conduct by the House of Lords; and
fourthly the large contributions to the Dyer Fund both in England and
India as a reward of his gallant deed.

Simultaneously with these high handed and arbitrary proceedings in the
Indian administration a fresh wrong was done to every follower of the
Muslim faith. At the end of the European War, Mr. Lloyd George in
replying to Indian representations on behalf of Turkey, assured Islam
that Turkey would have full justice. But when peace was concluded, the
treatment meted out to Turkey was extremely derogatory to her
self-respect and dignity; the Khilafat, the supreme temporal and
spiritual power in Islam was most shamelessly handled. The Prime
Minister, when reminded of his previous promise, replied somewhat
ironically that Turkey had had justice done to her.

At this moment Mahatma Gandhi came forward with his scheme of the
passive resistance movement now generally styled, Non-Co-operation as
the only means of rectifying the Punjab and Khilafat Wrongs. On the
4th of September 1920 at the Special Session of the Indian National
Congress at Calcutta, which was presided over by Lala Lajpat Rai, the
Non-Co-operation resolution of Mahatma Gandhi was adopted by an
overwhelming majority. It laid down the following steps to prepare the
country for non-violent Non-Co-operation:

     (_a_) National Education.
     (_b_) Boycott of Law Courts.
     (_c_) Boycott of Foreign Goods.
     (_d_) Call for Self-Sacrifice.
     (_e_) Organisation of the Indian National Service.
     (_f_) The Swadeshi Vow.
     (_g_) Tilak Memorial Swarajya Fund.

At the Special Session of the Congress held at Calcutta Chitta Ranjan
was not in favour of withdrawing students from schools and colleges
and boycotting Law-courts. But at Nagpur a prolonged discussion with
Mahatma Gandhi about the details of the Non-Co-operation movement
convinced him of the necessity for adopting the whole programme and at
the session of the Nagpur Congress Chitta Ranjan himself moved the
Non-Co-operation Resolution. Some of the delegates who did not know
Chitta Ranjan well doubted his sincerity, but when he told them
bluntly that in his whole life he had never failed to practise what he
preached, the non-believers were silenced. In course of the speech he

"I ask you to remember, that when I say anything, I mean it, and in
my life on public questions, I have never said anything which I do not
believe in."

Chitta Ranjan came back to Calcutta, gave up his unrivalled practice
at the call of his mother-country and devoted all his time and energy
to the attainment of Swaraj by the peaceful method of non-violent
Non-co-operation. The only thought which was uppermost in his mind
when he gave up his practice was his solicitude for his poor
countrymen. Some time after this one of his friends once asked him
what would be the fate of his enormous charities. Chitta Ranjan kept
quiet for a while and then replied with a deep sigh:--"What shall I
do? A greater call of duty has reached me, I must respond to it. Those
whom I have helped so long will be helped now by God Himself."

About two years ago when Chitta Ranjan was engaged in the Dumraon Raj
case an ascetic once said to him:--"My child, this life of worldly
enjoyment you shall have to renounce very soon." None could at that
time have any faith in that prophecy. Who could have ever dreamt that
the time was so near? Mysterious indeed are the ways of God which the
limited intelligence of man fails to fathom.

Chitta Ranjan's sacrifice in the Non-co-operation movement has
elicited admiration even from high-souled Englishmen. Sir Michael
Sadler, the late President of the Calcutta University Commission wrote
in the London Times:--"Chitta Ranjan's wonderful sacrifice is
unparalleled in the history of the world. Indians would do well to
follow him."

As we have already said Chitta Ranjan is never a politician in the
true sense of the term; he possesses none of the diplomatic ways of a
thorough-bred politician. He is only a high-souled patriot led by
emotions. He has loved his country with all his heart from childhood;
in manhood through all activities he has striven hard to keep alive
its sacred image in his heart; and now on the threshhold of age that
image has became clearer and truer than ever. The late Lokamanya
Tilak once said of him, "I believe the time is not very far when
Chitta Ranjan will devote all his energy to the services of his
country and his love of mother-land will burn as a torch-light to
guide his countrymen in the right path." That hope has now been

The People of India also as a mark of their heart-felt gratitude for
the noble sacrifice and selfless patriotism of Deshabandhu Chitta
Ranjan Das has unanimously elected him to be the President of the
Indian National Congress to be held at Ahmedabad in December 1921. For
some time he hesitated to preside over the most momentous session of
the Congress of this year, but at last in compliance with the united
request of his countrymen he accepted the honour--the highest they had
in their power to bestow.

It is after all the great ideal of Chitta Ranjan's sacrifice that has
led the young men of Bengal to respond to the call of mother-country
when even Mahatma's appeal has failed to move them. The
student-community of Bengal came out in a body to rally round
Deshabandhu Chitta Ranjan in attaining the object for which we are all
fighting. In one of the students' meetings at Calcutta Mahatma Gandhi
while addressing the students said:--"I knew that you were waiting for
Srijut Chitta Ranjan's leadership and I hoped the time was not very
far when he would sacrifice his all at the call of his country." In an
appeal to the students of Calcutta he said:--

"I advocate the method of Non-Co-operation, as every other method has
failed. I want you to cling to this method, come what may. This is our
last chance and this, at least, will not be in vain. Do you know what
Non-Co-operation means? You must withdraw your help in moving the
powerful machinery of the Bureaucracy. Do you realise how you can move
this machinery? The Bureaucracy works its wicked will through the
pleaders, through doctors, through clerks, through their police
officers and through Magistrates and Judges. And you now see what the
Calcutta University contributes. It contributes all the strength upon
which the strength of the bureaucracy depends.

The method that I advocate is the method of sacrifice. If you have to
destroy what you consider your chance of success in life, remember, it
is only to defeat the bureaucracy, and to attain Swaraj. How can
Swaraj be attained unless you realise your own right clearly,
unhesitatingly? How can you compel the bureaucracy to recognise that
which you yourself do not realise?

I repeat, therefore,--wake up, wake up, wake up. We have slept too
long. Realise the sense of your bondage and stand out boldly and
firmly on the road to Freedom."

In his Sagar Sangit Chitta Ranjan once sang this song:--

    "As thou didst call with the roar of thy thunder
    In the infinitely musical voice of thy soul,
    My life over-flooded its banks
    In the heart-churning torrents of thy sound."

When actually this call came to him, he went forth from place to place
to preach the Swaraj mantra. Bengal was already prepared to adopt it.
Wherever he went, the local people responded in a splendid manner and
national institutions grew up simultaneously. After starting a
national college at Dacca when Chitta Ranjan proceeded to Mymensingh
in the beginning of March 1921, the Joint Magistrate prohibited him
from entering the town. As the Congress had not then sanctioned civil
disobedience, he did not break that order. But on that occasion the
noble message that he sent to his countrymen is even now vibrating in
the air:--"We are treated like helots in our country. Life is
unbearable without Swaraj." He then came to Tangail and in the large
compound of Mr. Wajed Ali Khan Pani's house a mass meeting was held
where the labourers and peasants were present in a large number; the
large-hearted Zaminder Mr. Khan Pani started a national school and for
the benefit of the peasants a granary was proposed. From Tangail
Chitta Ranjan came to Sylhet via Maulavi Bazar and Habigunj and
presided over the Assam Khilafat Conference. The local people accorded
him a splendid ovation, the town was lighted in honour of his visit.
In course of the speech at the Khilafat Conference he said:--"The dawn
of a new era has come. It is the dawn of unity among the different
sects of the Indian people. This unity is never to be broken. We are
all united to attain Swaraj. If in our own home, we cannot preserve
our self-respect, if in our own country we are treated like cats and
dogs, then where shall we get justice? We starve for want of food, we
are turned naked for want of clothing. Our wives and children suffer
humiliation at all times and we lose our lives like insects and worms.
To set this right we want Swaraj. This is needed not only for Hindus
and Musalmans but by every Indian, by every righteous man."

After completing a long lecturing tour in the Eastern Bengal Chitta
Ranjan came to attend the Provincial Conference at Barisal. In one of
his lectures he said that Swaraj was urgently needed to get rid of the
cultural conquest of the West which has caused the denationalisation
of the Indian people. At the Barisal Provincial Conference he
delivered a very touching lecture on Swaraj in course of which he

"Swaraj is our birth right, it is a divine gift. When you realise
yourself by penances, you shall get freedom from within and without.
We look to others for our education, commerce and government; this is
bondage. We must get rid of that. We cannot even clothe our mothers
and sisters. What servility! We must be free men and not bondsmen as
we are at present. This yearning for Swaraj is meant for our
liberation. We are inimical to no body, ours is a peaceful struggle."

Chitta Ranjan came back to Calcutta in April 1921 and shortly
afterwards went to Bezwada to attend the meeting of the All-India
Congress Committee held in the middle of April 1921 where it was
decided that as a first step towards the attainment of Swaraj three
things would be necessary:--(1) a crore of rupees to be contributed to
the Tilak Swarajya Fund, (2) a crore of persons to be enrolled as
members of the Indian National Congress and (3) twenty lacs of
spinning wheels to be distributed to the Indian Villages. This first
step was to be completed on or before the 30th June 1921.

Chitta Ranjan came back and addressed many meetings at Calcutta and
the mufassil asking the people of Bengal to contribute Bengal's quota.
The Anglo-Indian Press and the Moderate Press with one voice declared
that it was beyond human power to work out the Bezwada programme
within such a short time. But when the soul of a nation is awakened,
everything is done in an unexpected manner. On the 1st of July 1921
the All India Congress Committee declared that contributions to the
Tilak Swarjya Fund exceeded one crore of rupees and that the other two
parts of the Bezwada programme were also accomplished beyond dispute.

In the mean-time a most deplorable event took place in Bengal. This
was the inhuman treatment of the Assam Tea-garden Coolies at Chandpur.
The tea-garden coolies had been for a long time smarting under acute
grievances. They did not get sufficient food, were now and then
brutally assaulted and even their wives and sisters were subjected to
occasional humiliation at the hands of the European managers. These
exasperated their feelings to such a pitch that they determined to go
back to their own country. In early May 1921 the Coolies of many
tea-gardens at Assam went on strike and in spite of many persuasions
from the Deputy Commissioner and the proprietors of the tea-gardens
they left the gardens for Karimganj. Coolies,--men, women and children
began to pour in from different tea-gardens. They were worn out,
shattered, half-naked and starving. In fact they presented a most
pitiable picture and the local people took charge of their feeding and
clothing. They were also making arrangements for the repatriation of
the Coolies. But the Railway authorities declined to issue tickets to
them. Perhaps they thought that the Coolies would of themselves return
to the gardens if they had to face starvation and were refused tickets
to go home. But the authorities were mistaken. The inhuman treatment
at the gardens had long overstepped the limits of their patience and
now they stood at all costs determined to leave the gardens once for
all. Even they suspected the Government of being implicated with the
managers of the gardens and refused to take food from them when
offered. At the request of the people of Karimganj Mr. J. M. Sen Gupta
went there and wired to the Traffic Manager to withdraw the
unjustifiable order of the local Station Master. The order was
withdrawn and the coolies came down to Chandpur in large numbers. The
Government declined to make any arrangement for their repatriation.

The coolies were left to their own fate and as it could have been
expected epidemic broke out among them. About midnight on the 20th May
the most horrible tragedy that was ever enacted in Bengal was
witnessed at Chandpur. At the instigation of the local authorities a
band of savage Gurkhas fell upon the innocent men, women and children
who were starving and dying of epidemic. They butchered the coolies
right and left amidst the glee of the Local Magistrate and the
Commissioner. The people of Chandpur were so much agitated over this
matter, that had not the leaders come in an opportune moment to the
place of occurrence there would have ensued a riot of the severest
type. Chitta Ranjan was informed of this event and was wired to come
to Chandpur as early as possible. He at once sanctioned on behalf of
the Provincial Congress Committee 5000 rupees for the relief of the
distressed coolies. The Railway employees went on a sympathetic strike
and Chitta Ranjan started from Goalundo for Chandpur in a boat. The
violent Padma became turbulent and it was most unsafe to face the
waves in a boat. Many of Chitta Ranjan's friends tried to desist him
from such a rash step. But he was not to be stopped. His heart was
moved at the agony of the coolies and go he must to send them back to
their home. If it wished God that he would be drowned, he was ready to
court death at the call of duty. He was accompanied in this perilous
journey by his wife and constant companion Srijukta Basanti Devi. The
wind was raging high, the waves dashed against the boat; cheerfully
did Chitta Ranjan proceed on his journey with his wife. It was his
firm determination to go to Chandpur and arrange for the repatriation
of the coolies. For this he feared not death. After an eventful
journey in course of which he was once overtaken by a heavy storm and
narrowly escaped being drowned Chitta Ranjan reached Chandpur. There
he managed to send a large number of coolies in a special steamer to
Goalundo and arranged for the repatriation of the rest. He came back
to Calcutta with his wife in a cheerful spirit--cheerful, as he knew
that he had been able to do his duty as the leader of Bengal.

Now when the first stage of the Non-Co-operation movement was so
successfully passed, the Working Committee of the Congress met at
Calcutta in the beginning of September to discuss the second step and
it was decided that the next step would be boycott of foreign cloth.
This step entailed a great difficulty as it would be necessary to make
the people self-reliant and independent of foreign cloth. It
necessitated that spinning should be introduced in every house and
Indians should be encouraged to weave their own clothes. Chitta Ranjan
proceeded on a lecturing tour all over Bengal to preach Swadeshi to
his countrymen and to make it clear to them that the salvation of
India lay in hand-spinning and weaving. In course of one of his
lectures he said:--

"At this commencement of a new era in the history of India, you must
take the Swadeshi vow. I know Indians can do everything only if they
_w_ish it. Their fortitude is unique and determination firm. Once take
the vow that you shall not use foreign cloth. If you cannot procure
sufficient country-made cloth, cut one cloth into two pieces and use
them separately. You have no reason to be ashamed of wearing a short
dress. On the other hand if you import fine cloth from Manchester, the
whole world will cry shame upon you. To-day at this dawn of national
consciousness take the vow that you shall wear only country-made
cloth, be it coarse or fine. With it is inter-woven the sweet
affection of your brothers and sisters. It will help you to develop
your manhood."

In another lecture Chitta Ranjan has said:--

"Our national life has become stagnant. We must purify it. This
requires penance for our past sins, this means we should give up all
our luxuries and strive for the realisation of our national spirit."

In course of one of his mufassil lectures he once remarked:--"Those
who still do not believe in Swaraj, must very soon change their minds.
For they also must strive to attain Swaraj as the only means of
developing their manhood. Swaraj is the birth right of a nation. It
comes to believers and non-believers as a divine blessing."

When this speech was published in the form of an article, many took it
for a visionary statement; but the time was not very far when it was
actually verified. People who did never believe in Swaraj have
actually joined this movement all on a sudden as if led by Providence.

While the country was being thus prepared step by step for the
attainment of its ultimate goal, the complete hartal on the 17th
November on the occasion of the Prince's arrival in India unnerved the
Europeans and the Anglo-Indians who saw that without any act of
violence or intimidation the whole of India obeyed the dictates of the
Indian National Congress. Not a murmur was heard, not a complaint
lodged. This produced a heart-burning in the Anglo-Indians whose
representatives urged the Government by saying that it was Gunda Raj
not British Raj on the 17th to take steps in striking the national
movement at its very root. The Bureaucratic Government of India,
misled by the Anglo-Indian Press thought it fit to crush the movement
and the Bengal Government in a fit of frenzy as it were, declared
towards the end of November that the Congress and Khilafat Volunteers
formed an unlawful association. The Working Committee of the Congress
met at Bombay and decided to continue the national service corps in
defiance of the Government notification and enjoined upon all
Congress-men to enlist themselves as Volunteers. Chitta Ranjan came
back to Calcutta from Bombay and convened a meeting of the Provincial
Congress Committee which delegated all its powers to him. In that
capacity Chitta Ranjan thought it proper to send volunteers who would
go from shop to shop requesting the shop-keepers to sell Swadeshi only
and to observe _hartal_ on the 24th December on which day His Royal
Highness the Prince of Wales would arrive at Calcutta. He knew that
the volunteers were to be arrested; yet he sent his only son Srijut
Chira Ranjan Das to lead a batch of volunteers. Chitta Ranjan is a
very affectionate father, his heart is all affection; yet the report
of Chira Ranjan's arrest and six months, rigorous imprisonment, nay,
the cruel assaults on his person did not move Chitta Ranjan in the
least for he knew that son was suffering in the cause of justice and
righteousness. He sent the following message to the persecuted:--

"What shall I say to those who have suffered, who are suffering, and
to those who are prepared to suffer for the cause of freedom? I repeat
the message which was delivered by a Persian Poet.

Truth, love and courage:--that is all you need to learn, all that you
need to remember. "Faith, Fortitude, Firmness, will they falter and
fail and fade at the hour of trial, in the moment of despair", asked
the Saqi in a mournful strain, "Or will they, tried and tested emerge
from the fire of life radiant, strengthened, ennobled, purified?"

"Not will I forsake them", answered the youth, "not even were the
heavens to fall."

"Thine then" said the Saqi, "is the path of glory, thine a nation's
gratitude, thine the fadeless crown.

Would that courage unbent, courage such as thine, be the proud
possession of all!

For naught but courage winneth life's battle, naught but courage
secureth souls' freedom, man's noblest and highest prize. Let,
courage, then, be thy gift, O God, to this wondrous land of love and

The day following Chira Ranjan's arrest, Chitta Ranjan's worthy wife
Srijukta Basanti Devi and his noble sister Srijukta Urmila Devi along
with Srijukta Suniti Devi came out at the head of the volunteers. They
drove in a motor car up to the crossing of Harrison Road and College
Street. They got down from the car and walked by the foot path
requesting every one to wear khaddar, to discard foreign clothes and
to observe hartal on the 24th December. When they came back to the
crossing again, they were arrested and sent up to the Jorashanko
Police station. They were conveyed to the Presidency Jail from the
Lalbasar lock-up. Close upon midnight when they had already retired
to bed, they were released unconditionally. The splendid message which
they gave to their countrymen on their arrest is worth quoting here:--

"We came out fully prepared for arrest. It was torture for us as
mothers to stay away when our young boys were going to Jail
gloriously. We entreat all our sisters to take up the work left
unfinished. Let them not forget that their place is with their
brothers and sisters imprisoned. Let them realize that they are
practically living in prison, only a bigger one. It is more honourable
to live in a real prison than to breathe the polluted air of the
slave-land. We appeal to the students of Government institutions to
vacate the colleges in a body and take up the struggle for liberty.
Now or never is our last word. This noble struggle will lead us either
to victory or to death. Both are glorious. It must be life or death,
not this slavery any more."

The arrest of the noble ladies produced a profound impression
throughout the city. Crowds of volunteers began to pour in, in order
to continue Congress and Khilafat work and to court arrest in the act
of doing that. The students of the Colleges struck and enrolled
themselves in hundreds and in thousands as National Volunteers. Even
low class people responded to the country's call. The national work
went on with a redoubled velocity. Srijut Das issued the following
appeal to the people of Bengal:--

"Fear of Jail, fear of assaults and fear of being shot down--these are
three fears which every worker must conquer before we can get Swaraj.
We have conquered the fear of Jail; we are about to conquer the fear
of assault. It depends on the Bureaucracy when we shall succeed in
conquering the fear of being shot down. In the mean-time I charge
every one to remember that our success can only depend on non-violence
so real and so perfect that all God-fearing men must come over to our

In the mean-time His Excellency the Governor invited Chitta Ranjan to
discuss with him the present political situation of Bengal. The points
of view of Chitta Ranjan and his party and also those of the
Government were freely discussed, and criticised but no actual result
came out of it. The Government decided to take the strictest possible
measures and arrest all the prominent leaders. Leaders of other places
outside Bengal--leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai, Pundit Motilal Nehru,
and others were arrested and tried summarily. On the 10th of December
at 4-30 P. M. two Deputy Commissioners went to the house of Srijut
Chitta Ranjan Das and there arrested him along with Srijut Birendra
Nath Sarmal, while they were taking tea. Srijut Das kept up a
dignified and smiling appearance all through. Srijuts Das and Sasmal
were taken to Lalbazar in two Motor-cars. The ladies commenced blowing
conches and crying _ulu_. A large crowd had assembled on the road and
shouts of "Bande-Mataram", "Gandhi Mahatmaki joy", "Deshabandhu Das's
joy" went up from them. The following is the last message sent to his
countrymen by Deshabandhu Chitta Ranjan Das, on the day of his

"This is my last message to you, men and women of India! Victory is in
sight, if you are prepared to win it by suffering. It is in such agony
as that through which we are passing that nations are born; but you
must bear this agony with fortitude, with courage and with perfect
self composure. Remember that so long as you follow the path of
non-violence, you put the Bureaucracy in the wrong; but move by a
hair-breadth from the path which Mahatma Gandhi has mapped out for
you, and give away the battle to the Bureaucracy. Swaraj is our goal,
Swaraj not in compartments not by installments; but Swaraj whole and
entire. Now it is for you men and women, to say whether we shall
attain the goal for which we are striving.

To my Moderate friends I say this. Survey the history of the world
from the beginning of all times. Has any nation yet won freedom by
pursuing the path which you are pursuing? If the appeal should reach
any waverer amongst you, I ask him to consider whether he will now
stand on the side of India in her conflict with the Bureaucracy? There
may be compromise in the matter of details, but there can be no
compromise in the essential question that divides us from the
Bureaucracy. And if you do not stand for India, you assuredly stand
for the Bureaucracy.

To the students, I say this:--You are at once the hope and the glory
of India. True education does not consist in learning to add two and
two make four; but it lies in the service which you are prepared to
give to the Mother of us all. There is work to be done for the mother:
Who amongst you is prepared to answer the Call?"

       *       *       *       *       *

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