The Che(s) closer home

Every now and then, I come across the rebel minded, wearing t-shirts with the famous photograph of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. I am not sure if the popularity of Che is due to his legendary motorcycle journey (and the book), or is it because of his contribution to the revolution in Cuba. In any case, the fascination of the young with Che even today forces me to think if we tend to forget legends closer home and look for inspiration elsewhere?

I am no expert on this subject but I am listing down a few names I have come across who lead extraordinary lives not too dissimilar to Che's. Some of them, I am sure, you were not aware of!

Sarat Chandra Das (1849 - 1917): This dude was both an explorer and a scholar. He explored Tibet extensively sometimes posing as a Lama, and documented his journeys and the culture of Tibet in his books from late 1800s. He spied for the British and fed them with information on the region. He also published the first Tibetan-English dictionary. If you interested to read more, I have his book "Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet" which I can lend.

Manabendra Nath Roy (1887 - 1954): Trivia question: where was the first Communist Party established outside Russia? Mexico. Who established this? This guy! He plotted armed revolution against the British, escaped from India, and while the British were hunting for him, he managed to travel sometimes with false passport and as stowaway aboard a ship across the world and finally reached USA. After establishing the Communist Party in Mexico, he was invited to Moscow, where he met Lenin and Stalin. On his return to India after 16 years abroad with so many accomplishments, he was immediately arrested and jailed without a proper trial.

Lt. Col. Suresh Biswas (1861 - 1905): Spurred by adventure, he traveled to Britain and worked several jobs including as an animal trainer in a circus. He traveled to Brazil and enlisted in the army there - was later promoted as a Captain in the Brazilian army. His name is referred in one of Satyajit Ray's fiction - "Chinnomastar Abhishap".

I am not mentioning the already well documented extra-ordinary life of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on purpose. I am sure there are plenty more who should have been glorified more. I hope we find them and their work and celebrate them as well.


RB said...

I didn't know about any of them. Must explore.

P. said...

Growing up in a Bengali household, with a particularly patriotic father, these were names I heard often. Did you happen to watch the movie Bhooter Bhobhishyot where Che is mentioned in a comical, yet not distant from meaningful way? I'd recommend it!

Subhadip said...

@RB: Do that... and in case you have more to add, please let me know as well.

@P: I have seen Bhooter Bhobishyot, and remember the scene; very witty.