The revolution to free India from the clutches of foreign rule was the aspiration of its countless men and women. While some became the symbol of it because of their initiatives to free India and became guides of the popular revolts, there were hundreds of thousands who did not get the limelight, yet they too sacrificed enough for their people and their better tomorrow. These people who lived in anonymity, unmentioned in history books, were the real ones behind the making of history. These unsung heroes who came from every section of the society gave their all, and that too while knowing that they would not be remembered and honored like their leaders. They were selfless; they remained nameless. Most of them have departed by now. And, those who survive are living among us with a dignified silence, and still serving their beloved nation.
Sudhanshu Biswas, now in his late 90s, once was a revolutionary. However, after the Independence, the man did not become inactive. Instead, he picked up a new mission – to impart free education to poor kids. Today, in Ramkrishnapur — a remote village in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, this freedom fighter is striving hard to give many a better future.
Battling old-age ailments, Biswas is successfully running a voluntary organization—Ramkrishna Sevaashram, under which he has founded 18 primary schools in the Sunderbans region of West Bengal. Not just that, even in this senility Biswas manages an old-age home, a dispensary and children’s home.
Days as a Freedom Fighter
Born in 1917, Biswas was exposed to the freedom movement at a tender age. When he was in class VII, he got a chance to meet the famous revolutionary from pre-Independence Bengal, Nirpen Chakraborty. Great freedom fighters like Beni Madhab Das, Bina Das, and Kalyani Das were his teachers. Once, Biswas was participating in a peaceful conclave in Albert Hall at Kolkata where the British Police raided and assaulted Indians. Luckily, he got away from there without getting beaten or arrested. But his participation in protests against British Empire had made him a target. Consequently, in 1939, the British Police detained him from the examination hall. However, later Biswas was allowed to appear in the test under the police custody. Going through all these, he cleared his Matriculation. Biswas then joined Anushilan Samiti and was involved in an attack on the British Administration in Birbhum. After the attack, Biswas fled the scene and later on surfaced at Narayanganj, now in Bangladesh. After some time, he returned to Kolkata again and allied with other freedom fighters like Bina Das and Amiya Mondal.
The Independence and following disillusionment with life
With India’s independence, Biswas’s journey of a freedom hero was over. A new journey was waiting for him. Soon after, Biswas got influenced by the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda. The year following the Independence, he renounced his social life and went to the Himalayas in search of real knowledge. He spent there more than one and a half decade. Wandering in the Himalayas, Biswas met several saints there who had renounced the material world. Further, he made it to Varanasi and lived some years with the ‘untouchables’. Finally, in the early part of the 1960s, Biswas returned to Kolkata.
A new journey begins
After having experienced so much in life, when Biswas came back, he was not without a mission. A new passion had taken him in. Now, the freedom fighter was aiming at something greater. In the following years, Biswas established two Ashrams in South 24 Parganas. Later, in 1973, he set up Sri Ramakrishna Sevashram near Baruipur. By 1996, he had built 18 free schools for the poor and downtrodden in the most underdeveloped areas of Sundarbans. These schools are now self-reliant.
Since Ramkrishnapur has no temple, Biswas is working to build a temple in the village. The temple would accommodate 500 devotees. Revolutionary by birth, Biswas has proposed that the new temple would be free from any orthodox prejudices, and people from every section and community are welcome. Moreover, the temple management is planning to celebrate all the main festivals of different religions under one single roof.
Biswas’s works are paying off
The non-formal school in Ramkrishnapur has been changing lives of many poor kids and orphans. Hundreds of former students have now been settled in life and are involved in decent professions like teaching, medical and engineering. As a part of its education system, the teachings of Swami Vivekananda are taught in the school. Even, Biswas himself teaches Mathematics to the students.
Till date, thousands of orphans have been benefited from the school. Currently, Biswas is taking care of more than sixty orphans, who are under study there and look after many works related to the school.
Besides, Biswas also provides shelter to some senior citizens from the nearby villages. He also runs a charitable dispensary, which is a part of SRKS. In his seventies, Biswas had studied general medicine and Homeopathy, observing the irregularities of doctors in villages. He now collects drug samples from physicians and distributes them among the sick.
The Unsung Story
Once, he fought against the colonial rule. Afterward, he came up with a venture to educate poor children. Now, he even provides for the old people who are deserted by their family. Also, he takes care of many orphans and manages a charitable dispensary. Sudhanshu Biswas has done things most of us could only dream. But, instead of chest thumping and beating his own trumpet, Biswas prefers to live away from the public eye and is dedicated wholly to his mission. Unrecognized and unhonored, this former freedom hero is still serving his native land and its people, selflessly and undemandingly.