Seventy-three years have passed since India earned her independence from the repressive force of British colonisers , but , one of the greatest mysteries of India about the death of the national hero Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has remained unresolved . Several researches have been implemented by the different commissions engaged to solve the mysteries and numerous articles have been published through the seven decades after independence , but all of them have failed to reach a proper conclusion. People often take refuge in fantasy , they always try to escape the heat of bitter truths by taking shelter under the shade of myths. Almost after four decades of Netaji’s disappearance , a controversy raised over the identity of Gumnami Baba , a reclusive sadhu of Uttar Pradesh , who was widely believed to be Netaji in disguise . The nation never believed that Netaji has died in the plane crash of 1945 , so they easily believed that Gumnami Baba , who not only resembled the face of Netaji , but his voice ,and attitude was also very similar to that of Netaji , was actually Netaji in disguise . The founder of psychoanalysis , Sigmund Freud , in his essay ‘The Uncanny’ , referred to the concept ‘double’. The ‘double’ is omnipresent as a representation of the soul and the guarantor of survival . The ‘double’ is also found , in real and imagined twins , which is the image of terror , ‘ just as after the collapse of their religion , the Gods turned into demons .’ Lots of debate , controversy, rumour , facts jumbled with fantasy evolved around the identity of Gumnami Baba , who was projected as the ‘double’ of Netaji . There seem to be many connections between Netaji and the reclusive sadhu who appeared in the decade of 1970s.
Mystery Related with Netaji’s Disappearance
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is one of India’s most admired icons , with every youngster trying to shine in his reflected glory . His historic charisma let many Indians to believe that he is still alive . Most people believe that Netaji did not die on August 18 , 1945, in a plane crash in Formosa and it was a ploy set by Netaji himself , to deceive Allied forces and reach a safe place to continue his struggle . Another theory says that Netaji became a recluse and settled down in India . Netaji’s other lieutenants who were with him on the day of the plane crash , accompanied him to Manchuria , they were left behind in the tarmac in Saigon , never witnessed a dead body . Moreover, there were no photographs taken of the injured or deceased Netaji , neither was a death certificate issued . Mainly for these reasons , when news of Netaji’s death was reported, many people disbelieve it . The early investigations of Allied forces concluded that Netaji was injured in the plane crash and died in the same evening of August 18 , 1945 . But rumours continued the popular belief that Netaji would ‘return’ which led the Indian government to carried on a private investigation , where Suresh Bose’s report culminated that the aircraft accident did not take place and Netaji did not die . Furthermore , the announcement of Suresh Bose that his brother Subhas Bose would return in March , 1966 , which obviously did not happen but added fuel to the flames of people’s belief that Netaji was alive and the debate on Netaji’s non-appearance was not resolved . For some people Netaji was and will remain a person ‘larger than life’ , a legend living beyond the normal life expectancy of an adult person . Moreover , another mystery emerged around the identity of Gumnami Baba , who was died in 1985 , living the last few years of his life in Faizabad , whom many believed to be Netaji , which continued to evoke curiosity bringing forth the second theory of Netaji living as a recluse aggravates the dispute over Netaji’s disappearance. The Mukherjee Commission’s ten investigations in 2005 have concluded that there is no proof of plane crash at Taihoku airport on August 18, 1945 , and ‘ Netaji did not die in the plane crash’ but conspiracy theories continue to swirl through social media , fantasising over the final phase of Netaji’s life and turning one of India’s greatest son into the victim of a cheap whodunit.
Was Netaji Living as Gumnami Baba ?
Psychology says , when someone very close is lost , even the most rational minds also form a belief that the lost one will return someday . Subhas Chandra Bose is a name that is associated with the emotion of every Indian , which creates stories – facts amalgamated with fiction. The best known and most intricate of the renunciant tales of Subhas Bose was that Netaji , was living as a sadhu in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India in the 1960s. Other stories or hoaxes elucidated with conspiracies and accompanied with fake photographs of the now-aging Netaji taken in Bejing inexplicably parading with the Chinese Red Army . The ‘Subhasbadi Janata’ brought out published materials several newspapers and magazines to prove their claim . Several intimates of Netaji met with the sadhu , some of them claimed that the voice of the sadhu , his knowledge about the political activities , his dominance over Bengali language was similar to that of Netaji. Furthermore , stories persist that Gumnami Baba was a member of a Mongolian trade delegation in Peking , that he lived in Russia and also he was in the Chinese Army. Pictures had been produced to prove that Netaji was still alive in 1966 , almost twenty years after the plane crash incident in 1945. Unfortunately Netaji has not appeared to solve the mystery related with his disappearance . But the myth lives on.
Letters Indicating Netaji as Gumnami Baba
Some government as well as private initiatives have been taken after the death of Gumnami Baba in 1985 to investigate about whether Gumnami Baba was Netaji living in disguise. The discovery of some personal belongings of the Baba has opened up a slew of new questions regarding the mysterious disappearance of Netaji. A leading American handwriting expert was given two sets of letters to analyse without being disclosed the writers’ identities. The expert Carl Baggett has reached the result and signed a statement that all the letters have been written by the same person. The trunk belonging to Gumnami Baba revealed the family photos of Netaji. Other than the photographs , letters of the senior officers of Indian National Army Pabitra Mohan Roy and Sunil Kant Gupta were also found from the trunk. The rolex watches that were used by Netaji , German telescope , typewriter made in England , gramophone , foreign cigars have been unveiled from the personal trunk of Gumnami Baba. In the book Conundrum : Subhas Bose’s Life After Death written by Anuj Dhar and Chandrachur Ghose , it has been portrayed that Gumnami Baba was Netaji and both the government of India as well as Netaji’s family was also aware of it. But because of complex political issues they do not want to reveal it. Srijit Mukherjee’s film ‘Gumnaami’ (2019) is also based on the book Conundrum. According to Chandrachur Dhar , all the evidences based on circumstantial , eyewitness account and forensic experts conclude that Gumnami Baba was Netaji in disguise. Although Netaji’s family expressed their anguish over the film ‘Gumnaami’ which showed the fictitious story of Netaji’s life as Gumnami Baba.
Gumnami Baba Was Not Netaji but His Follower
In ‘Old Man’s Advice to Youth : Never Lose a Holy Curiosity’ LIFE Magazine , Albert Einstein asserted ‘The most important thing is not to stop questioning . Curiosity has its own reason for existence’. This curiosity led the Vishnu Sahai Commission to probe into the mystery of Gumnami Baba. The report provided by the commission stated that Gumnami Baba was not Netaji but his follower. Enlightening the items recovered from the trunk of Gumnami Baba , they have announced that Gumnami Baba was fond of music , cigar and food and his voice resembled the commanding sound of Netaji. Commenting on the language skill of Gumnami Baba , the commission noted that Gumnami Baba was a Bengali and well versed in Bengali , English and Hindi and also had in-depth knowledge of war and contemporay politics . A letter written in Bengali by Suhita Bhattacharya , nicknamed as Bulbul , the daughter of a famous freedom fighter, to Gumnami Baba , which reads , ‘When will you come to my place? We will be very happy if you visit on the birthday of Netaji’ , which showed that Gumnami Baba was not Netaji. However , the denial of Bulbul about writing any such letter and her statement of unawareness about the inquiry of the letter has complicated the puzzle more. Anuj Dhar has also dismissed the report of Sahai Commission and he with his foundation ‘Mission Netaji’ further investigated in this matter but encountered with the antagonism of the government. Ultimately the mystery remains a mystery. The inability to solve the mystery draped over Netaji attracts people more towards his enchanting personality.
If Not Netaji , Then Who Was Gumnami Baba ? Was He a Murderer?
Owing to India’s vast expanse , cultural differences , mythological stories , it naturally becomes a land of strange tales – unresolved mysteries. India is a country where everything turns to nothing like the echo from the womb of caves where words turn into a single sound ‘om-boum’. Gumnami Baba , a man crossed into India over the Gorakhpur Border in 1955 , who lived in self-imposed isolation at locations in Lucknow, Sitapur , Basti , Ayodhya and Faizabad for three decades , a holy man whose name is lost . The landlord of his house never saw his face and nobody except few had access to him. Although that approach was also as per his wishes and instructions and also all covert , dead of night entrance. The unseen holy man grabbed headlines only after his demise in 1985. He was named Gumnami Baba by the media although his followers called him the honorific ‘Bhagwanji’. After the death of Gumnami Baba , rumours started with the publication of the shocking story in a Hindi newspaper ‘Naye Log’, in 1985 , which claimed that Gumnami Baba was Netaji in disguise. But the irony is , another newspaper ‘Janmorcha’ received an anonymous letter in the same year that claimed Gumnami Baba who was being projected as Netaji , is K.D Upadhyay , who had disappeared after killing Pandit Brahmadev in a meeting at Gayatri Bhavan. Rumours went on to say that K.D Upadhyay was also known as Kaptan Baba and he lived in a temple in Ayodhya , he had left his personal belongings on the banks of Sarayu river to give the impression that he had committed suicide , before disappearing. But the lack of efforts by the local government left the matter incomplete. A link has been tried to establish between Upadhyay and Gumnami Baba by claiming that Upadhyay fled to Nepal following the murder incident and was started living in Basti , whereas , Gumnami Baba also arrived in Ayodhya from Basti. But nobody could solve the mystery until Vishnu Sahai Commission has drawn a line of this debate with the announcement of certain issues related with the identity of Gumnami Baba. According to the Sahai Commission Gumnami Baba was a brilliant man , who was rare based on quality and also preferred death instead of revealing the secrets of his identity , so it would be improper for the government to probe into the matter. The mystery of Gumnami Baba was not resolved.
The Myths , The Deformations and The Biases
Myth is a type of folklore consisting of stories that play a fundamental role in society , a culture shared by a particular group of people. Gods , demigods , supernatural humans are the main characters of myth. However , stories of the flesh and blood human beings , which includes leaders of a country or a particular community are contained in legends. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose , the name that is marked in golden letters in the hearts and minds of every Indian , has achieved a superhuman status in his lifetime. A legend who has devoted his entire life to his country , so that his fellow brothers and sisters breathe the air of freedom , liberty and dignity is now a myth after his death mystery. Many stories were formed immediately after the plane crash in 1945. Among these stories one is Netaji has become a sadhu , attended unseen Gandhi’s cremation in 1948 , became a yogi at a Shiva temple in Bareilly , and established the Shaulmari Ashram , taking the religious name Srimat Saradanandaji . Other stories also appeared like Netaji was in the Soviet Union , attended Jawaharlal Nehru’s cremation and gave notice to the janata of his return to Calcutta. Still other hoaxes elucidated with conspiracies. Stories persist that Netaji has been in the Naga hill of Assam living as a sanyasi , that he was a member of Chinese Army and many others like this. Many commissions were engaged , Shah Nawaz Committee , Khosla Commission , Mukherjee Commission through the three score ten summers but none of them was able to decode the mystery of Netaji’s disappearance. Over the years the tantalizing mixture of evidence and myth which has kept the mystery alive.
If time travel is possible , then the tourists from the future could go back to 1945 to solve the mystery with the use of time machine. But unfortunately science has not the power to penetrate the deepest mysteries of the world. The circumstances over Netaji’s disappearance has sparked a plethora of rumours , stories , myths aided and abetted by the silence and inaction of the successive governments. Some claimed that the accident was staged and that Netaji had escaped and lived in disguise. The mystery of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s disappearance is India’s one of the biggest unsolved political mysteries. Several researchers and scholars think that Netaji is in fact Gumnami Baba , although this has not been confirmed by the government , nor any concrete evidence has emerged to support the matter. However , instead of frustrating over his disappearance , we should focus on Netaji’s life and ideals and the Indians should continue to get inspiration from his thoughts. His last phase of life may still remain shrouded in mystery but his words will remain immortal. Another myth of Gumnami Baba may or may not be linked with Netaji but is still believed by many people. As the famous Bengali proverb says ‘Biswas e milay bostu , torke bohudur’ which can be paraphrased as – If you strongly believe in something, which is most unbelievable , that can actually happen someday. But the belief should be absolute , there must be no doubts or questions in it.
By Priyanka Basu, Chandannagar , Hooghly, West Bengal