Was Subhas Chandra Bose married? Well, this is a settled fact isn't it? After all, Emilie Schenkl is the wife and Anita is the daughter as per every possible source of information. But wait, this is not so simple. There are several questions that were raised in connection with the marriage. First, the facts. The marriage was a proven affair by a letter apparently written by Subhas himself to his Mejda Sarat Bose asking him to take care of his wife and daughter in the event something happened to him as he was undertaking an uncertain journey. That letter was handed over to Sarat Bose when he visited Vienna in 1948. Even before that, first Patel and then Nehru had informed Sarat on the marriage. A.C.N Nambiar wrote a letter to Nehru on Subhas Bose's wife and offspring. Thereafter it became an established fact that Subhas had married and had a daughter. The date of marriage had a controversy around as there are three sources putting the dates at 26 Dec, 1937, 1941 and 1942. There is no confirmation as to which one is right. Atfirst it was declared that Netaji had a son who was eights years old in 1949. In 1951 that version changed to a daughter and still she was eight years old. So a daughter born in November 1942 became the generally accepted version. It was also surmised that Subhas never disclosed about his marriage to protect his wife and daughter as Nazis strictly prohibited interracial marriage between a German and a non German. even though Emilie was technically Austrian, since Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, she was still obliged to follow the rules. Therefore it is argued that Subhas Bose had to keep his marriage as secret. When Dr. Ba Maw asked him as to when he intended to get married and settle down, Netaji replied that all those concerns should be parked till India got her freedom. In an address to the Tokyo cadets he mentioned that "I have no son of my own.".
If we accept that Bhagwanji was Netaji we really have a problem here. Bhagwanji, in Oi Mahamanab Ase, has categorically denied that he was ever married or had daughter. He began with a general distaste for the topic, claiming it to be a conspiracy. He said, "I took a vow to remain a celibate throughout my life and then while taking a plunge towards death, fell into a ditch and injured my toes. (Doba - e pore pocha shamuke pa katlo - in Bengali - literally - fell into a ditch and got my feet injured by a rotten shell of a snail). He asked, "I hate to discuss this topic. That man who is trying to jump into fire, will he be such a stone hearted assassin that he would go to marry a lady. ...and he left his wife and infant child in fire ...and that woman also agreed? when did I ever write to my brothers in Bengali? And day, date, place below the content of the letter - has never happened with me." He continued, "if any person is doing crucial hazardous work, he cannot live with a woman. If he lives with a woman during that time he will be finished. Any secret work, hazardous work has to be done by one, if two are involved that work will be undone." The last quote in this respect was, "The letter is a forgery, from my childhood days in every letter there was an auspicious symbol."
In Mahakal Kathan, another Bengali book written on the basis of the journals or notes taken by his disciples including Dr. Pabitra Mohan Roy, he mentions casually, "If a Scotland Yard officer's daughter becomes Anit Bose, then how it is surprising that Ma Durga becomes Miss Margaret?", in the context of an image of Durga found in a Swiss cave that is worshiped as the Lady of the Ludes.
In the context of Lakshmi Swaminathan and Prem Sahgal getting engaged and thinking of marrying, Netaji had apparently remarked, "How did these two get time for such things?"
It is to be noted that A.C.N Nambiar, whom Subhas Bose trusted, did not actually play a very loyal character. He became very close to Nehru, and later to Indira who called him as Nanu. He was accused of being honeytrapped and spending very less time for the work that Subhas had entrusted him with, by his colleagues. The sad end of Indian Legion is only too well known. It is alleged that he used to send misleading and false reports to Subhas on German success, apparently to hoodwink the British intelligence.
Few arguments against Netaji's compulsion of keeping his marriage secret - 1. Emilie and Anita were never in mortal danger. It is unbelievable that the Nazis who gave Bose every kind of facility as a head of state would have posed any difficulty in his getting married to an Austrian. Hitler himself was favourably disposed towards Bose and Nazi Government accepted his every condition on the India Office and Indian Legion and kept their words. 2. Why would Netaji hid it in a private conversation with Dr. Ba Maw. That would be done only by a compulsive liar and Netaji was not a liar. People like A.M Nair had tried to point out his weakness of character on the basis of this hypothesis that he kept his marriage as secret as he thought that it would undermine his popularity. This is uncharacteristic of Netaji. He would not hid anything for the sake of selfish, personal gain 3. Why would he not inform Sarat Bose beforehand? He had plenty of opportunities to send a secret messenger. Infact he had sent Bhagwan Loo for a personal despatch to Sarat Bose 4. He had nothing to fear from British intelligence - why would British do anything to his wife and daughter? They did not do anything to the family members of any other revolutionary including Rashbehari's
It is to be noted that the information was kept secret until the possibility of Netaji's return appeared to be dim, until India Government took charge and his death was an accepted fact in Government circle. Conveniently Emilie's letter to Sarat Bose was with British Intelligence for two years. And therefore the argument that Subhas tried to protect his wife and daughter from British intelligence falls flat, because they already knew if they had the letter with them. So the fact that they did nothing proves that they had no such letter till Subhas was still around. Only after Subhas's confirmed disappearance the letter would appear from nowhere.
It is true that Sarat Bose went to Vienna and met subhas's family according to his children. However for strange reason he refused to talk about it on his return and apparently he told an acquaintance that he had been deceived. The other brother, Sejda Suresh Bose never believed that Subhas was married and had a child.
Bhagwanji made a very serious claim, that one of his nephews took around 2 crores from Nehru by his constant harping on the theme "he is married and he is dead." The theory of marriage took its centerstage from a section of the Bose family and was corroborated by the British, the persons who were hostile to Subhas and those who dreaded his return. If Shyamlal Jain's testimony in Khosla commission is to be believed, then Nehru had no apparent reason to be a patron saint to Subhas Bose's family. Why Bhagwanji was so bitter about Nehru if the latter was protecting his family?
The original Bengali letter of Subhas was not produced and is missing. Bhagwanji claimed it to be a forgery and cited clear reasons for the same (points already discussed) on the basis of which a PIL was filed in Calcutta High Court by Surajit Dasgupta. Patel's opposition and distrust of Subhas Bose is well known so it is little wonder that he wanted to undermine Subhas Bose's saintly image.
Is there any way to disprove the claim that entire marriage and child episode was a concoction to undermine Subhas's popularity and character in India subtly in front of his admirers? There is nothing wrong in marrying or having children, but it certainly diminishes his stature if he is proved to have lied and kept it a secret. That is also reflected in A.M Nair's assessment of Subhas. How do we not believe that Nehru and Patel played along with British to undermine the saint like status of Bose in the event he came back and drew few family members by coercing or bribing them? we do not have any answer. But given Bhagwanji's claims, it is quite clear that there was a huge conspiracy, perhaps hatched in order to ensure that Subhas Chandra Bose is never able to return to Indian politics and claim his legitimate place.
In the new book released called Mahakaal Kathan, in one place Bhagwanji directly calls out Anita as daughter of a Scotland Yard officer in page 79, again, voluntarily, without any question on that topic. Of course assuming here that the editor is true to the original words and sentences and that is an original unedited statement 3. As far as we studied Netaji he resorted to secrecy only if National Interest was at stake, seems a little odd that he is denying a fact so vehemently for personal reason, when his wife and child were already in limelight and were accepted by atleast a certain section. Stating facts clearly would not have harmed his work or interest in any way. All in all, the documentary evidences are clear...but the key question here is, dis British intelligence know before Aug 1945 that Netaji was married and he had kept a secret. It is hard to believe that they didn't, they had reach even in Nazi HQ and foreign office would not be immune. if they did, why did they keep quiet? It would have been an excellent weapon in their hand to expose Netaji and diminish his lofty stature somewhat in public eyes. Why did all information emerge post his disappearance. Its a known fact that Emilie was staying with him and British intelligence had every one close to Subhas Bose on their radar and they had spies in every country. That Emilie was pregnant, that she had a child, if all these are known to Nambiar and Ganpule, it should be known to them as well.
Indeed she did - here is the proof in the form of her receipt- http://www.netajipapers.gov.in/pdfjs/web/viewer.html?filename=content/ministry-external-affairs-measec5893&part=1
The Trustees of the trust deed were - Jawaharlal Nehru & Dr. B.C Roy, C.M for Bengal (who staunchly belonged to the camp of the Gandhi brigade in Bengal and was against Subhas Chandra Bose, even voted against him in the 2nd Presidential election). You can well understand the credibility of a such a trust.
Dr. B.C Roy at Nehru's behest offered Suresh Chandra Bose the post of Governor of Bengal if only he decided to agree to the Shahnawaz Committee Report and go with it. Needless to say Suresh Bose refused and went ahead and published his Dissentient Report which the Nehru Government buried quietly.
And one more curious question - did Emilie an/or her daughter accept monetary assistance from Nehru? Do we know for certain? Thanks in advance
Interesting! But yes, you are right, she has her rights. But we can always hold his legacy sacred and refuse to admit anyone without the strictest test, this part is in our hands. Governments and relatives matter so little. It is usually we common people who can discern much better.
Every great man/woman has been great in our country because commoners truthfully saw them as such.
Another point that I forgot to mention - As far as I know Dr. Anita Pfuff did not agree to a DNA test of hers. If she refuses to appear for a test, we can do nothing, she has her rights.
Absolutely Harini. You are very correct, there has been no scientific investigation into the issue partly because people thought this to be a fait accompli and Government was not interested in reversing this perception. Even if we set aside the claim of Gumnami Baba or Bhagwanji, there are three major factors that come up which make this issue controversial, without any prejudice.
1) Netaji never spoke about his marriage - such secrecy in personal matters is uncharacteristic of Netaji. His personal life was an open book. Only matters of national interest were kept in secret. He even claimed to Dr. Ba Maw, in a reply to his question, that he was not considering marriage unless India became independent. Given Subhas Chandra Bose's religious inclination to Truth, he would have made it quite clear to all and sundry that he had a wife and child, even while keeping their identities secret if need be.
2) The issue surfaced after Netaji's disappearance. Netaji despatched personal and private message through few of his secret agents to Mejda Sarat Bose, why would he leave behind a letter which would conveniently surface after his disappearance. He could have easily communicated to Sarat Bose earlier with whom he had no secrecy. His family circle knew Emilie Schenkl as his secretary. As late as 1941 he was addressing her in a professional letter as "Fraulein Emilie Schenkl", the love letters supposedly written from 1936 have no meaning in this context, the 1941 letter was a genuine one. It is inconceivable that he would keep secrets about his love life to his mother (Ma Janani), Basanti Devi (wife of C.R Das), and sister in law Bibhavati Devi, with whom he had no inhibition. Knowing Subhas Chandra Bose, he could not have indulged in deliberate falsehood with his mother. Prabhavati Devi was a very progressive and enlightened lady, she wanted her son to marry and would not have minded him marrying a foreigner, when several such instances existed - Nellie Sengupta and Jatindramohan being one.
3) Now coming back to the core issue of the marriage - it is difficult to say what started the issue, but it is worth noting that both Nehru and Patel took an active interest. Nehru became the compassionate elder brother who even provided for a means of sustenance and cost of education of Netaji's wife and daughter - of Rs 500 per month, possibly from INA defense fund - a substantial sum of 2.5 lakhs was kept in annuity (as per Govt files) under the PM's special initiative. The question naturally comes to all devotees and disciples of Netaji, knowing Jawaharlal, who wanted to keep Subhas out at any cost, as Subhas's return would be the end of his political career and prime ministership, who despite his best attempts to please everyone and showing off his scholarship and developing a network of eulogists, could not gain even a fraction of the popularity that Subhas had, would go all out of his way to entertain Netaji's wife and daughter, when documentary evidences clearly show that he did not believe that Netaji died and kept a constant tab on his possible return? So a natural question arises - when Nehru tried his best to prove that Netaji had died in the plane crash, knowing all the while that he did not, why would such a person provide for Netaji's wife and daughter, entertain his daughter in his own palace and do everything possible to promote her. There is only one reason - if a certain person comes back, having a wife and daughter would be extremely beneficial because that wife and daughter would be able to testify that the certain person who came back was an imposter, and their evidences would be the most credible legally and also in front of public eye, public and media would be confused and divided on the issue. So the leader who would come back would not be able to muster enough strength to claim his legacy. The question of marriage and having a daughter is already accepted by the immediate family (barring of course Suresh Bose and Sarat Bose).
So nobody wanted a proper scientific investigation into this issue. Nobody took the objections of his few disciples seriously, Government had other agenda and the marriage issue facilitated that and general public and media were gullible and susceptible. The Netaji Research Bureau was collaborating with the Government as they received a lot of research money. Who would fund for the time and effort needed for the scientific research on this issue when the entire research is funded for the opposite purpose?
Good one. But it surprises me to see the amount of arguments for and against on the topic of Netaji's marriage. Why is it not a problem even if we do not accept Gumnami Baba as Netaji?
One thing is Netaji is a rare hero who had the ability to make friends at highest levels in different countries - Japan, Germany, Italy, Vietnam all to get his beloved nation free. As such, any claimant to his legacy ought to be put to strictest possible test before being admitted as a legal heir. Being his heir is not an ordinary thing.
So can posthumous delivery of a letter with some claims prove paternity? Some relatives accepting this story - does that suffice? Will court accept when there is no single date for marriage? Can some 100 romantic letters prove paternity? Have they been subjected to handwriting analysis? In today's advancements, cannot DNA checking be used to match the progeny against the family DNA to see if there is a match? Just proving a regular politician's progeny is tough enough, (Refer ND Tiwari case) should this not be so much more for Netaji? Why do we Indians sell our Supreme heroes so cheap?
I am not saying that he did marry or did not. But accepting his heirs simply on the basis of some books, some letters and mutually contradictory claims is simply baffling.
If anything, to me just this tells me why a Netaji as Gumnami Baba will never want to come out. He would have been thoroughly disgusted at the way we Indians accept every word of white man (and woman) as gospel truth. We are too shy to ask them tough questions. but scrutinize our own so intensely. Scrutinize both intensely that is all I would say.