Subhas the immortal

Author: Pattabhi Sitaramayya

Today's politics is tomorrow's history. That is but a truism. But events happen in life which being the politics of the day, constitute the history of the day as well. Such is the flight of Subhas Babu beyond the borders of India across the fastnesses of Kabul to unknown regions for achieving unsuspected purposes. Whosoever thought that this silent sphinx of the Congress who stood mute and voiceless for a year of his tenure of office, would suddenly develop into a strategist, a warrior, a commander of forces, a rebel, and revolutionary in other than the softer meanings of the terms, and at last a mystery man whose whereabouts are unknown, who nevertheless is today adored as the hero in hiding and was yesterday worshipped as the martyr that was no more.

Greatness never advertises itself until it inevitably comes into the limelight of its own self-luminosity. Reflected light cannot be independent. They are planetary in character but the innate, self-born brightness of the stars emit their scintillations in their own time and lit the skies and the earth even from those astronomical distances which are not easily conceivable. Even so did Subhas Babu shine from afar like a radiant orb in the blue firmament. Alike from far-off Berlin in the West and from distant Tokyo in the East, Subhas Babu broadcast his thoughts and sentiments and unfolded on the wireless his plans and campaigns week in and week out to an amazed and astounded world that now believed them all and was thrown into raptures of hope and joy, and now disbelieved and was lost in doubt and despair.

Subhas was still a phantom and his name was still a sound when the Indian Armies under his leadership and command invaded Imphal and the eastern boundary of Manipur. Japan was in everyone's thoughts. And when the Japanese were threatening to invade Balasore and the armies on boundary marched towards Jamshedpur, it was Japan that was believed to be the mainspring and fountain-head of the mighty resources which were overwhelming the country.

But time solved all problems and riddles and resolved all doubts and difficulties. The return of the INA, the sensational trials that it led to, the wide advertisement that followed in their train, brought to light the hidden facts of this great adventure in modem history and revealed the real man in the mystic, the brave soldier in the civilian, the genuine revolutionary in the administrator. That Subhas's colleagues did not share his principles and policies could not detract for the glory of his adventure. No foreigner may be trusted to emancipate one subject country except to enslave it himself in turn. Yet the fact remained that the attempt unprecedented in character, colossal in magnitude and stupendous in achievement must be assessed at its innate worth without being discounted either by the rights and wrongs of the case or by the facts of its success or failure. The endeavour was an end in itself, apart from its potential (since become kinetic) value in disillusioning a nation in regard to its own enviable importance.

A new faith and fervour, yea a new philosophy has been generated in millions of dried-up and despairing hearts much as the showers of the monsoon would cover a fallow land with patches of green verdure. Subhas has proved to the world that Hindustan is still a land of valour and prowess, that the Indian has still in him that sense of national honour for the preservation and perpetuation of which his forefathers had shed their red blood. Subhas may be alive or dead in body, but his spirit and his name will endure long, yea forever in history, in common with the names of Alexander and Darius, of Caesar and Hannibal, of Czenkhis Khan and Temur Lane, of Harold the last of the Barons and William the Conqueror, of Cromwell and Guy Fawkes, of Kaiser and Hitler.

From Netaji: His Life and Work, edited by Shri Ram Sharma, published in 1948 by Shiva Lal Agarwala & Co. Ltd., Agra