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Letter that Rabindranath Tagore wrote to Subhas Bose in which he addressed Subhas as Deshnayak

Updated: May 13, 2020

The English translation of the letter is rendered here from the original Bengal text (courtesy Subhaschandra o Netaji Subhaschandra by Sabitriprasanna. The letter was written in May 1939. This is only partially represented as the actual letter is quite long, but the message is loud and clear. Tagore recognized Subhas Chandra Bose as the leader who was capable of delivering Bengal and India from the ignominy of slavery and raise India in stature in front of the world by addressing all her problems.


Subhas Chandra, I am a Bengali poet. I hail you as the Deshnayak or the leader of the nation on behalf of Bengal. Gita says that the protector of the good appears time and again. When the nation suffers from tyranny and oppression, that suffering and the consequent inner pain inspires the leader to arrive on stage. Oppressed by the ruling classes, torn by internal conflicts, Bengal today has dark clouds of misfortune hovering over its sky. It has become weak from within, and is pitted against hostile forces from outside. There are many gaping holes in our economics, work ethics and morality and there is no coordination or synchronization in our political system. When misfortune engulfs people, like a disease getting hold of a weak body, internal bickering raises its ugly head. The people lose all powers of discrimination and move away from those who are their well wishers, they lose their very own protective self, disrespect those who are worthy of respect, resort to backbiting and in the process weaken their allies. When its necessary to establish a pedestal of respect in front of the world and elevate the fellow countrymen in the world's view, they dig suicidal holes of jealousy and hatred in the very foundation of that pedestal and thus make their enemies even stronger......In this trying times we need the strong hand of an inspired, valiant leader who can ignore all perils and misfortunes in the path of victory and lead the Nation with vigour.


Subhas Chandra, I have been following you from the very beginning of your political sadhana, from afar. In that twilight zone of light and darkness, when I had not been able to completely trust your intentions or when I had doubts about you, when I had seen your mistakes and weaknesses, I had been sorrowful. But today, in the light that you have revealed yourself, I no longer harbour any misapprehension about you, your intentions are as clear as the mid day sun. Many experiences have shaped your life. I have seen the evidence of your strong vital force in the field of action. This vital force was tested in the sufferings inside prison, in your deportation and your affliction by terrible physical illness. But nothing has been able to subdue you. Your fame has spread far and wide, your vision has transcended all the geographical boundaries to reach the farthest corners of the history. You have turned sorrows and sufferings into opportunities, made difficulties into steps for success. That has been made possible because you have refused to recognize any obstacle. It is very very essential now to infuse this strength of character that you possess into the very vitals of Bengal.


......Bengal will not die after being tormented by destiny - we need you to raise this hope in the whole Nation. Even after being delivered the most severe blows, Bengal shall raise her head. You have in you untiring youth, you have within you the strength of keeping the flag of hope flying against the impending doom. That you will carry the eternal flag of hope, free of all doubts and hesitations, to the action field of Bengal is my ardent desire and that desire has compelled me to welcome you as the Deshnayak. Let Bengal, in one unfaltering voice declare that her throne is ready for you to take seat. Let all internal conflicts end with your ascension, let poverty of thought be degraded and inferiority complex be humiliated by your ideals. ....Today we do not need debates. Today we need concentrated and self rising will power. That collective will of Bengal should hail you as the leader of the Nation, that should transform you to assume great responsibility. Let that collective will power enable the Soul of the Nation to assume shape in the form of you.


I have seen the form of the collective willpower of the Nation during the movement to oppose the Partition of Bengal. This will force had resisted all the swords that had come forward to divide Bengal. ....I have witnessed the will in the form of an all devouring fire in the minds of the next generation of youth of Bengal. They had been born to light the lamps of hope in the Nation, but by error they lit fire, in that fire they sacrificed themselves, made the path to freedom slippery. But in that terrible error and disappointment, the splendour of bravery, the valour that was expressed, I have not seen elsewhere in India. Their sacrifice after sacrifice, their suffering after suffering, their dedication of themselves at the altar of the Nation may have been burnt to ashes by the terrible disappointment of failure, but in their fearlessness they have eternally proved the invincible will power of Bengal. The law of tyranny may have tried to blacken the outpourings of the irresistible youth, but it has not been able to dampen the inner spirit of that uprising.


We have seen many a weaknesses of our Nation, but wherever we have witnessed the greatness, therein lies our hope immersed in the deep holes of the future. You have to take up that responsibility of transforming that hope to fruition. ....Eradicating the old, worn out structures, liberating the country from the fetters of darkness, you need to take charge of new creation for germinating the new life force in the new spring that will follow...By the attraction of one (you) many will come to share your burden. Those who are the real representatives of the Nation, they are never alone. They belong to everybody and to all time. They stand atop the summit of today to offer their tributes to the first dawn of tomorrow. Remembering that I am today welcoming you as the leader of the Nation of Bengal and at the same time, giving a call to the entire Nation to stand by you.


One should not assume that I want to separate Bengal from the rest of India through petty regional considerations, or that I want to have a competitor for that Mahatma who has ushered in a new age in the world politics, who has made India famous in the whole world. My request is that Bengal should be united with India by the force of her own strength, without lagging behind others by being devoid of all vitality. Every region of India will have to bring its own tribute for the great sacrifice of political unity of India. Let by your sadhana Bengal's sacrifice become true, vital and her strength manifests itself. ....Today I am witnessing the great leader in the horizon. That I shall be able to work with him in the field of action is no longer permitted by my failing health. As my last duty and responsibility, I can only give a clarion call to the collective willpower of Bengal. Let that willpower strengthen your resolve and determination, that is my only wish. Then I shall bless you and will retire knowing that you have made the sorrow of the Nation as your own sorrow. India's freedom is imminent as the greatest result of all your hardship and misery.


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