By NewsGram Staff Writer
New Delhi: One of the greatest mysteries which troubles India till date is the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. There have been various speculations revolving around it, one of them is Gumnami Baba, the ascetic of UP’s Faizabad, was actually none other than Netaji himself.
Surajit Dasgupta, 64, racked his memory to 33 years ago, and recalling he said: “He was seated before me like everyday when I had an urge to see him. I stole a glance and was so dazzled by the glow that emanated from within that I had to immediately lower my gaze. It is a sight I will never forget.”
Dasgupta was talking about Bhagwanji, an ascetic in Faizabad, and very few were privy that he was none other than Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The man who was proclaimed dead for past 37 years by some, others believing he still lived. Quite a few people felt that he would one day return to his homeland to prove all the doubting Thomases that he was indeed alive.
“Netaji’s associate and our guru, Sunil Gupta, had been visiting Bhagwanji for two decades. In the initial years, it was very secretive. He wouldn’t disclose where he was going. All that we knew was that he had some very important mission. Later, he cryptically said: ‘Contact has been established’. I knew at once he was referring to Netaji. I was thrilled. In the years that followed, I would accompany Gupta till the station as he took a train twice a year to travel to Neemsar and later Faizabad, once during Durga Puja and again on January 23, Netaji’s birthday. It was much later, in 1982, that Gupta decided it was finally time we could be let into the exclusive circle, and we travelled to Faizabad to meet Bhagwanji,” he reminisced.
Gupta had been ordered by Netaji’s elder brother, Suresh Chandra Bose, to investigate into every news and rumour related to Netaji’s return to India. Following different leads and meeting with dead ends, Gupta finally met Bhagwanji at Neemsar in 1962.
Dasgupta talked about some rules to be followed if you wished to pay a visit to Bhagwanji, one of them was that you were not allowed to look at his face. There was generally a short curtain drawn between him and the visitors that hid his face.
Dasgupta said: “We would go to his house every day, have breakfast and then go to shop for the day’s meals. While Saraswati Devi would cook, we would discuss world politics. After lunch, it could be about theology, music, even metaphysics. Sometimes, the discussions went on till the wee hours next morning. We would sit transfixed, listen with rapt attention and take notes. He predicted the disintegration of USSR that was unthinkable then, talked about the mess in the Vietnam War. He even remarked that communism would die in the place of its birth. During the Bangladesh Liberation War, he followed the developments keenly and we believe he even passed on strategic instructions that helped decide the war.”
After the initial visits, Bhagwanji started trusted the youth enough to not look at him and so stopped drawing the curtain, Dasgupta recalls. It is at one of those occasions that Dasgupta couldn’t resist a peek and he was astonished! “There was no mistake in identification that he was Netaji. His hair had thinned, much more than what we were used to seeing in his photographs. He had a flowing beard. But the features were exactly the same. Only, he had aged. The eyes were so powerful I had to turn away immediately. I realized then that the patriot our parents and we had worshipped since we were kids had reached a higher plane of existence. He had become a mahatma,” he said.
Rita Banerjee of Faizabad, who Bhagwanji called as “Phoolwa Rani” and her husband as “Bachha”, talked about a “bright light” emanating from him. “The aura was so intense that I could not establish eye-contact with him.” Gyaani Gurjeet Singh Khalsa, the chief priest of Gurudwara Brahmakund Sahib overlooking the raging Saryu river, recounts a similar experience when he met Bhagwanji face-to-face. “I was a 17-year-old when I saw him. The radiance on his face was astounding. It cannot be explained in words,” he said.
Some of the people, including Dasgupta, who believed that Bhagwanji was indeed none other than Netaji, are fighting a silent legal battle with the Indian government to unveil the truth and destroy the lie (as they claim it to be) that is being propagated since past seven decades. In his later years, Bhagwanji related about his escape to USSR via Diren in Manchuria after the “concocted air crash” and also about how prison camps worked in Syria.
Bijoy Nag, 76, a former auditor at a private firm, also recalls a meeting with Bhagwanji with brilliant accuracy, “On my first visit, I touched his feet while he remained behind a curtain. Blessing me, he said: ‘Your dream is now a reality’. I was 31 and thrilled.” Nag met Bhagwanji 14 times between 1970 and 1985, and says each meeting was memorable.
Nag met Bhagwanji at Brahma Kund (Ayodhya), where he had stayed for a few months between 1975 and 1976. “I stayed in the room next to his. I could have looked at him any time if I wished because by then, the curtain had been drawn. He had only instructed us not to look at him and we didn’t disobey him,” says Nag, who had on Bhagwanji’s request collected and delivered photographs of Netaji’s mother, father and school teacher.
“Though I didn’t look at him, I don’t have an iota of doubt that it was Netaji speaking to me. It is an unshakeable truth,” he added. UP CMs Sampurnanand and Benarasi Dasgupta remained in contact with Netaji from December 1954 to April 1957. Their letters, including those from former railway minister Ghani Khan Chowdhury and other important leaders, were found among Bhagwanji’s belonging which are now in possession of the Faizabad Treasury.
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