Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das was one of the gifted men who captivate the hearts of his countrymen by selfless devotion to his country, by his princely gifts for the benefit of humanity, and by dedicating himself to the national cause.
Birth: Chittaranjan Das was born in Calcutta on 5 November 1870. He was the second son of Bhuban Mohan Das, an attorney of Calcutta High Court, who had hailed from Vikrampur of the Dacca (Dhaka) district (now in Bangladesh).
Education and Career: Chittaranjan Das received his education in a Missionary School at Bhawanipur, from where he matriculated in 1885. He obtained his B.A. degree from the Presidency College in 1890. Then he joined the Inner Temple in London and was duly called to the Bar. He was enrolled as an advocate in the Calcutta High Court in 1893. He was a prominent figure in the Bar. After his successful defence of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh in the celebrated Alipore Conspiracy Case of 1908, he came to the forefront in his profession.
Patriotism and Politics: From the beginning of his career he was a patriot. For his interest in politics, he was elected President of the Bengal Provincial Conference. In 1917, he joined politics in right earnest and denounced the Montagu Chelmsford Reforms as unworkable. In 1921, he came in close contact with Mahatma Gandhi and gave up his roaring practice as a lawyer and joined the Non-Cooperation Movement against British India. For his unparalleled sacrifice he at once became the idol, not only of Bengal but of the whole of India. He was sent to jail in 1921 for his patriotic zeal. There he was closely associated with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
After his release, he built up the Swaraj Party. His strong feeling for his country found poignant expression in the well-known dictum, “Life is unbearable without Swaraj.” He captured the Corporation of Calcutta on behalf of the Congress and joined the Council in which by sheer force of personality he made Diarchy unworkable. He presided over the Indian National Congress held at Gaya in 1922. He also led the Tarakeswar Satyagraha Movement, and also presided for a second time over the Provincial Conference at Faridpur. In short, the magnetism of his character and his towering personality drew everyone towards him.
Charity: Desbandhu had a very affectionate heart and liberal sympathies. His charity was unbounded. His last gift to the country was all he had — his family residence at Russa Road has been housed as the “Seva Sadan’, a hospital meant exclusively for women.
Literary Works and Death: He had an excellent literary gift. He wrote many lyric poems, and his Malancha stands unique in Bengali literature. However, the strain of incessant political work as a great leader of the country told heavily on his health, and he retired to Darjeeling for a change. Here, at ‘Step Aside’, he breathed his last on 16 June 1925. The whole country plunged into mourning. His remains were brought down to Calcutta and carried to Keoratala cemetery ground in a vast procession for the departed leader.