Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose wanted to learn Marathi


2 letters from Bose, expressing his desire to learn Marathi and be interviewed are displayed at Tilak Museum

Freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, whose 116th birth anniversary falls on Wednesday, had a desire to learn Marathi, a little-known fact.

In 1936, when he was lodged in Yerawada Jail in Pune from April 13 to May 16, Bose, popularly known as Netaji, had expressed his wish to learn Marathi and had sought material from the then editor of Kesari, DV Divekar. His wish to learn Marathi, however, was cut short when the then British rulers who incarcerated him shifted him to Darjeeling Jail.

"I would like to pick up a little Marathi while I am here. I have tried but have failed to get a bilingual book for beginners..," Bose said in a letter requesting the editor to arrange some Anglo-Marathi books to learn the regional language during his confinement as a political prisoner.

The correspondence between Bose and Divekar in the form of two rare letters are in possession of the Lokmanya Tilak museum in Kesariwada, Pune.

One letter dated April 27, 1936, also reveals Bose's desire to get his interview published in Kesari, a daily founded in 1881 by freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. "I do not know if the (jail) authorities would allow you or any other friends to interview me. The best course would be to apply to the superintendent and see what reply you ultimately get from the government..," Bose told Divekar in the letter.

Deepak Tilak, the great-grandson of Lokmanya Tilak and a trustee of Kesari Mahratta Trust, said Bose and Tilak could never meet but Netaji had high regard for his great-grandfather and his associates. "It was out of pure trust and regard Bose is believed to have written letters to the then Kesari editor," he told Newsline on Tuesday.

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