Subhas Chandra Bose’s Speech at Hooghly District Student’s Conference – 1929

The unity which Ramkrishna and Vivekananda established between 'the one' and 'the many' in the spiritual world, Deshbandhu achieved or at least tried to achieve in the life of the nation and in the political sphere.

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Subhas Chandra Bose’s Speech at the Hooghly District Student’s Conference in Chinsurah on Sunday, 22 July 1929

Mr. Chairman of the Reception Committee and students,

You know best why you have called me to this conference of students to-day. But so far as I am concerned, the reason why I have felt the inclination or rather the courage to come to this assembly today, is that I still consider myself a student like yourselves. I study the “Vedas of Life” carefully and am at the present moment engaged in gathering the knowledge that comes to a man through the hard knocks of experience of the real life.

Every single nation or individual has got a special trait or ideal of his own. He shapes his life in accordance with that ideal. It becomes the sole object of life to realize that ideal as fully as possible. And minus that ideal his life becomes absolutely meaningless and unnecessary. Just as in the case of the individual the pursuit of an ideal continues through long years, so also in the case of the nation it works from generation to generation. That is why the wise people say that an ideal is not a lifeless and motionless entity. It has got speed, locomotion and life-giving power.

We may not always succeed in catching a glimpse of the ideal that has been trying to unfold itself in our society for the last one hundred years ; but he who is thoughtful and endowed with real insight can certainly detect the general trend of this ideal behind all visible phenomena, like the steady subterranean flow of the river Falgoo. And it is this ideal which constitutes the idea of the age. When a man attains a complete perception of the ideal, he can easily find out his destination and his guide on the way. But because this perception does not always come to us, we pretty often run after mistaken ideals and follow false prophets. Students, if you really want to shape your lives to some purpose, then protect yourself by all means from the influence of false guides and mistaken ideals and make your own settled choice of your own ideal in life.

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The ideal that used to enthuse the student community of Bengal, say, fifteen years ago, was the ideal of Swami Vivekananda. Under the hypnotic spell of that glorious ideal, the Bengalee youth went in with grim determination for a life of purity and spiritual powers freed from all taint of selfishness and shabbiness. At the root of the construction of the society and the nation lies the unfoldment of individuality. That is why Swami Vivekananda was never tired of repeating that “man-making” was his mission.

When a new era was ushered in our country before the age of Vivekananda, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was our guide. From the age of Ram Mohan onwards the desire for freedom in India has been manifesting itself through all sorts of movements, and when Lin, the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first of the twentieth, the soul- stirring message of Swami Vivekananda—“Freedom, freedom is the song of the soul,”—burst the locked gates of the Swadeshi’s heart and came forth in a flood of irresistible might, the whole country caught it up and nearly went mad.

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It was Swami Vivekananda who had on the one hand, boldly asked his fellowmen to shed all sorts of fetters and be ‘men’ in the truest sense of the term ; and, on the other hand, laid the foundation of true nationalism in India by preaching the essential unity of all religions and sects. But the image of freedom, whole and entire that we come across in Vivekananda, had not yet been reflected in the realm of politics in his age. It was in the mouth of Aurobindo that we heard the message of political freedom for the first time. And when Aurobindo wrote in the columns of his “Bandemataram”—“we want complete autonomy free from British control”—the freedom-loving Bengalee youth could feel that he had at last got the man of his heart.

Having thus received the impetus to complete independence, the Bengalee people have been forging ahead, making light of all obstacles and stumbling-blocks on the way. And when we come down to the year 1921, along with the message of non-co-operation we get another thing from the lips of Mahatma Gandhi: “There can be no Swaraj without the masses, and until we can rouse a hunger for freedom amongst them.”

This potent message became clearer still in the life of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan. In the course of his Lahore Speech, he very clearly declared that the kind of Swaraj that he wanted was not for the few but for all, for the masses in general. The ideal of “Swaraj for the masses” was put up by him before his countrymen at the All India Labour Conference.

Subhas Chandra Bose's Speech

We get another message exemplified in the life of Deshbandhu. It is this, the life of man—that of nation as well as of an individual—that is a piece of immutable truth. It is not possible to divide this life into two or more water-tight compartments. When the life of a man quickens into consciousness, we get ample proofs of this new awakening from all sides, and pulsation of a new life are felt all round. The world—and so the life of man—is full of diversity. If we kill this diversity, there will be no fulfilment of life; we shall rather bring ourselves nearer to death or destruction by so doing. That is why the unfoldment of both the individual and the nation has to be achieved through this diversity, through the “many”.

The unity which Ramkrishna and Vivekananda established between “the one” and “the many” in the spiritual world, Deshbandhu achieved or at least tried to achieve in the life of the nation and in the political sphere. In one word, he firmly believed in a “federation of cultures”, and in the realm of politics, he liked a federal state for India better than a centralized state.

The all-round development and self-fulfilment in which Deshbandhu so firmly believed, is the ideal of the present age. If we want to make this “Sadhana” fruitful, we shall first of all have to visualize an unbroken image of independence in our minds. Unless a man can realize his ideal wholly and completely ; he can never hope to come out victorious in the battle of life. That is why it has become so necessary to tell all India, and specially the youth of the country, that in the free India of which we are dreaming, everybody is free—free from all kinds of shackles, social, political and economic.

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Today I have come to tell this one thing to the student community here—that the ‘idea’ of the age in which you are born is the attainment of complete and all-round freedom. Our people want to live, grow and have their being in a free country and in the midst of a free atmosphere. We need not take fright at the idea of independence. Our claim to independence is nothing but the right to make mistakes. So let us not get upset by a night-mare vision of chaos which may or may not follow the attainment of political salvation by us. Let us have an abiding faith in ourselves and go forward to snatch our birthright from unwilling hands.

In our country three large communities are lying absolutely dormant; these are the women, the so-called depressed classes and the labouring masses. Let us go to them and say: “You also are human beings and shall obtain the fullest rights of men. So arise, awake, shed your attitude of inactivity and snatch your legitimate rights”.

You students and youngmen of Bengal, be you all the votaries of complete independence. You are the inheritors of the future India. It is therefore up to you to take upon yourselves the task of reawakening and galvanizing the whole nation. Go out in your thousands into the remote villages and corners of Bengal and preach the life-giving message of equality and freedom to all and sundry. The picture of freedom which I have just held before your eyes must, in its turn, be held by you before the whole country. Go forward in the right spirit and your victory is absolutely certain. Let your ‘sadhana’ be fruitful in good results—let India be free again—and let your lives be crowned with glory and renown.


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