Adheer Som’s latest book — Gumnami Baba: A Case History — doesn’t tell you if Gumnami Baba was actually Subhas Chandra Bose. At the end of the last chapter, he leaves it to the readers to decide whether Gumnami Baba was actually Netaji or not.
The book, published by Eastern Book Company, is, in fact, the first comprehensive narrative of the unseen, ghostly, nameless saint who haunted various parts of Uttar Pradesh from the early ’50s till his death in Faizabad in 1985. The Lucknow-based logician, columnist and researcher has given a chronological account of the saint’s life and times, the complete inventory of his striking belongings, select photographs, as well as the full, unique judgement in the case, which is considered a landmark in the annals of the Allahabad High Court.
Excerpts from the interview:
What was the thought behind writing Gumnami Baba?
The book had to be written only because the ‘Gumnami Baba’ Commission of Inquiry, headed by Retd Justice Vishnu Sahai, abjectly and brazenly failed to do its court-ordered task of conducting a thorough, scientific and logical inquiry to name the nameless saint. The commission’s willful failure made it imperative for me to compile all information and evidence, etc related to the case, and to make it available to the public as a book, so that the public can decide for itself who Gumnami Baba really was.
What was the biggest challenge while writing the book?
Some of the international research work was tough, as was studying the original 1986 inventory of material recovered from Gumnami Baba’s final abode after his passing. But I must frankly admit that, overall, the book got written so easily and quickly (in seven months) that it seems to have been somehow divinely ordained. I claim no credit for it. The credit if any, goes to my publishers, EBC, and my editor.
You have extensively researched on every aspect of the book. How much time did it take to complete it?
I’ve worked on the case as an activist and researcher for three years, starting January 23, 2015. Till April last year, I had no intentions of writing a book. However, when circumstances became compelling, all the research material was already available and ready, thanks to the blessings of my Isht and to the help of my good friend and fellow researcher Chandrachur Ghose, of Mission Netaji.
What had been the most surprising element of your findings and did it change your perception about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose?
The most surprising element were the parallels and coincidences between the life and times of the nameless saint and that of Lord Rama. These parallels, etc are too long to list here but yes, they did change my perception of Netaji. He was not just a great man, leader, fighter and saint, he was the ‘Purushottam’ of this kaliyuga, just like Shri Ram was of his yuga.
In the book, you have left it to the readers to decide if Gumnami Baba is Netaji or not. But personally, what’s your belief and why?
I am now of the view that Gumnami Baba was none other than Netaji. Besides the very strong logical reasons detailed in the book, I now also have mystical/ spiritual reasons to believe this. However, I cannot speak of the latter reasons as one’s mystical/ spiritual experiences are private, personal matters. The readers must judge the book only on logical grounds.
There is a lot of mystery and drama behind Netaji’s disappearance and demise. In the book, Laid To Rest, the author suggests that Netaji perished as a result of a plane crash at Taipei on August 18, 1945. Isn’t the nation yet to get a right answer?
It’s a national shame and a national sin that this country still does not know what happened to its greatest son. As for the book you refer to, I can say that it is a work of propaganda, not truth. The author, who happens to be Netaji’s grand-nephew, is a turncoat. Letters written by him in the ’90s to the then Prime Minister VP Singh were among the Bose-related documents declassified by the Modi Government. These letters by the author of the said book tell a very different story.
There are several books on Netaji — The Man India Missed the Most (Bhuvan Lal), Subhas Chandra Bose: A Biography (Marshall J Getz), Subhash Bose: India’s First Prime Minister? (UV Singh) and others. Which has inspired you the most?
Netaji’s unfinished autobiography An Indian Pilgrim, Col Hugh Toye’s The Springing Tiger and my friend and fellow researcher Anuj Dhar’s India’s Biggest Cover-up are the three books that have inspired me the most.