(Last Updated on : 01/06/2012)
Jatindranath Mukherjee, legendary as Bagha Jatin the daring Indian freedom fighter, was born on 7th December 1879. He was a Bengali Indian revolutionary philosopher, resisting severely against British domination. Although born to Sharatshashi and Umeshchandra Mukherjee in Kayagram, a village in the Kushtia subdivision of Nadia district (presently in Bangladesh), Bagha Jatin spent his early life in his ancestral home at Sadhuhati, Rishkhali, Jhenaidah until his father`s death when Jatin was barely five years old. Well informed in Brahmanic studies, his father possessed a liking for horses and was esteemed for the strength of his character. Sharatshashi settled in her parents` home in Kayagram with her husband and Jatindranath`s elder sister Benodebala (or Vinodebala). A gifted poet, Jatindranath`s mother was both affectionate and stern in her mode of bringing up her children. Familiar with the essays by contemporary thought leaders like Bankimchandra Chatterjee and Yogendra Vidyabhushan, Sharatshashi was knowledgeable of the social and political transformations of her times.
Since the age of 14, Jatindranath had asserted equal rights for Indian citizens in meetings organised by his family members inside railway carriages and public places. As Bagha Jatin grew older, he earned repute for physical bravery and intense strength. Benevolent and cheerful by nature, Jatin nurtured a fondness for caricature and enacted mythological plays, himself playing the roles of god-loving characters like Prahlad, Dhruva, Hanuman, Raja Harish Chandra. He not only boosted several playwrights to bring out patriotic pieces for the urban stage, but also enlisted village bards to spread nationalist passion in the countryside. Jatin possessed an in-born respect for the human being, irrespective of class, caste or religion.
After passing the Entrance examination in 1895, Jatindranath joined the Calcutta Central College (presently known as Khudiram Bose College), to study Fine Arts. Side by side, he took lessons in stenography typing with Atkinson. Stenography was a new qualification during those times, opening possibilities of a coveted career. Soon Bagha Jatin started to pay visits to Swami Vivekananda, whose social attentions and especially vision of a politically independent India had an everlasting influence upon Jatin. The Swami taught the Indian freedom fighter the art of conquering libido before arousing a batch of young volunteers "with iron muscles and nerves of steel". They were subsequently instilled to serve despondent compatriots during famines, epidemics and floods and running clubs for "man-making" in the context of a nation under tyrannous control. The band thus formed soon assisted Sister Nivedita, Swami Vivekananda`s Irish disciple, in this venture. According to J. E. Armstrong, Superintendent of the colonial Police, Jatin "owed his pre-eminent position in revolutionary circles, not only to his qualities of leadership, but in great measure to his reputation of being a Brahmachari with no thought beyond the revolutionary cause." Noticing his zealous desire to die for a cause, Vivekananda sent Bagha Jatin to the Gymnasium of Ambu Guha, where he himself had practised wrestling. Jatindranath met here, among others, Sachin Banerjee, son of Yogendra Vidyabhushan (a popular author of biographies like Mazzini and Garibaldi), who turned later into Jatin`s mentor.
Sick and tired of the colonial system of education, Jatindranath Mukherjee left for Muzaffarpore in 1899, as secretary to barrister Pringle Kennedy. Kennedy was the founder and editor of the Trihoot Courrier. Jatindranath was profoundly impressed by this historian. Through his editorials and the Congress platform, Pringle Kennedy had illustrated how urgent it was to have an Indian National Army and to counter against the British profligacy of Indian budget to uphold their interests in China and elsewhere.
In 1900, Bagha Jatin married Indubala Banerjee of Kumarkhali upazila in Kushtia. The couple had four children: Atindra (1903-1906), Ashalata (1907-1976), Tejendra (1909-1989) and Birendra (1913-1991). Moved by Atindra`s untimely death, Jatindranath, with his wife and sister, set out on a pilgrimage and regained their inner stability by receiving initiation from the saint Bholanand Giri of Haridwar. Conscious of his disciple`s revolutionary commitments, the holy man extended to him his whole-hearted support. On returning to his native village Koya in March 1906, Jatin learned about the unsettling presence of a leopard in the vicinity. While reconnoitring in the closeby jungle, he came across a Royal Bengal tiger and fought hand-to-hand with it. Mortally wounded, he managed to pitch a Darjeeling dagger in the tiger`s neck, slaying it right away. The famous surgeon of Calcutta, Lt-Colonel Suresh Sarbadhikari had taken upon himself the onus for treating his lethally wounded patient. Jatindranath`s whole body had been poisoned deeply by the tiger`s nails. Struck by Jatin`s commendable valour, Dr. Sarbadhikari published an article about Jatin in the English press. The Government of Bengal awarded the freedom fighter with a silver shield with the scene of him killing the tiger inscribed on it. From thence, Jatindranath was renamed Bagha Jatin (`Jatin valorous like a tiger`).
Revolutionary Activities of Jatindranath Mukherjee
Revolutionary activities of Jatindranath Mukherjee speak volume about his courage. Umpteen sources mention Jatindranath Mukherjee as being amongst the foremost founders of the Anushilan Samiti in 1900 and as a ground-breaker in creating its branches in the districts. This, further delineated revolutionary activities in the then India.