Source: L. F. Rushbrook Williams, Great Men of India (Bombay: 1939)

C. R. Das

Chitta Ranjan Das, political leader, lawyer, poet and journalist, was born 5th November, 1870, in Calcutta, as the eldest son of Bhuban Mohan Das.

Between 1893 and 1906, he published the first two volumes of his poems, the Malancha and Mala. His most remarkable poems are found in Sagar Sangit. His other literary achievements include being the founder of the journals Narayan and Bande Mataram, as well as the Forward newspaper. The first was a Bengali monthly devoted to Vaishnavism and literature, while the other two were English dailies. The Forward became the official organ of the Swaraj pary of Bengal (which Das would later go on to found as well).

Chitta Ranjan rose to prominence as a lawyer after taking on several controversial cases, notably Aurobindo Ghose’s sedition charge for Bande Mataram and the Manicktolla Bomb case. He joined the Indian National Congress as a delegate in 1906. In 1917, over a controversy in the Congress Working Committee, he formed a new Party in India—the Moderate, otherwise known as the Liberal Party.

After the Non-Cooperation Movement took place (see: Mahatma Gandhi) Chitta Ranjan Das gave up his lucrative life as a lawyer and became an ascetic. He gave over his property to social causes, such as to a hospital for women. For his acts, he began to be referred to as deshabandhu, or friend of his country. He also founded a national university in Dacca in 1921. The same year, a struggle between the Government and the causes he directed arose and Chitta Ranjan was arrested and imprisoned.

It was following his release in July 1922 that Das founded the Swaraj Party, which became the single largest party in the Bengal Council. The Party was highly successful and Chitta Ranjan was elected the first Mayor of Calcutta, and was then re-elected in 1925. He went on to become one of the few politicians to be trusted by both Moslems and Hindus in India.

On June 16, 1925, Chitta Ranjan Das passed away. This was before he could negotiate for co-corporation.

Source: L. F. Rushbrook Williams, Great Men of India (Bombay: 1939)

Works

India for Indians (Madras: Ganesh, 1921)

To My Countrymen (Vellore: Vande Mataram Karyalaya, 1920)

Ideas of IndiaIdeas of India