Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose - His Life and Speeches
by Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose
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Transcriber's Notes:

Typos and spelling variants (including hyphenated words) have been checked against the Oxford English Dictionary (online edition, July 2007) and corrected as needed. Archaic spellings have been retained. In rare cases, where a word replacement or correction was either uncertain or impossible, the word was identified with [sic.]

Bold and small cap text has been rendered as all caps in the text version.

Reference on 168 to the "The Presidency College Magazine" must be to the second issue, as the 25th issue was in 1939 and the events mentioned on p. 168 happened in 1915.

By-lines after various sections sometimes show as "Patrika," and at other times as "A. B. Patrika." A. B. Patrika is not a person, but is rather "Amrita Bazar Patrika," an English language daily newspaper in India. To reduce confusion I have standardized the by-lines to "Amrita Bazar Patrika."

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Page His Life and Career 1 Literature and Science 79 Marvels of Plant Life 102 Plant Autographs—How Plants can record their own story 106 Invisible Light 113 Lecture on Electric Radiation 117 Plant Response 122 Evidence before the Public Services Commission 126 Prof. J. C. Bose at Madura 143 Prof. J. C. Bose Entertained—Party at Ram Mohan Library 147 History of a Discovery 154 A Social Gathering 165 Light Visible and Invisible 169 Hindu University Address 172 The History of a Failure that was Great 177 Quest of Truth and Duty 187 The Voice of Life 200 The Praying Palm of Faridpur 222 Visualisation of Growth 292 Sir J. C. Bose at Bombay 231 Unity of Life 235 The Automatic Writing of the Plant 243 Control of Nervous Impulse 247 Marvels of Growth as Revealed by the "Magnetic Crescograph" 254 The Night-Watch of Nymphaea 262 Wounded Plants 267


On the 30th November, 1858, Jagadis Chunder was born, in a respectable Hindu family, which hails from village Rarikhal, situated in the Vikrampur Pargana of the Dacca District, in Bengal. He passed his boyhood at Faridpur, where his father, the late Babu Bhugwan Chunder Bose, a member of the then Subordinate Executive Service was the Sub-Divisional Officer; and it was there that he derived "the power and strength that nerved him to meet the shocks of life."[1]


His father was a fine product of the Western Education in our country. Speaking of him, says Sir Jagadis "My father was one of the earliest to receive the impetus characteristic of the modern epoch as derived from the West. And in his case it came to pass that the stimulus evoked the latent potentialities of his race for evolving modes of expression demanded by the period of transition in which he was placed. They found expression in great constructive work, in the restoration of quiet amidst disorder, in the earliest effort to spread education both among men and women, in questions of social welfare, in industrial efforts, in the establishment of people's bank and in the foundation of industrial and technical schools."[2] However, his efforts—like most pioneer efforts—failed. He became overpowered in the struggle. But his young son, who witnessed the struggle, derived a great lesson which enabled him "to look on success or failure as one"—or rather "failure as the antecedent power which lies dormant for the long subsequent dynamic expression in what we call success." "And if my life" says Sir Jagadis "in any way came to be fruitful, then that came through the realisation of this lesson."[2] So great was the influence exerted on him by his father that Sir Jagadis Chunder has observed "To me his life had been one of blessing and daily thanksgiving."[2]


Little Jagadis received his first lesson in a village pathsala. His father, who had very advanced views in educational matters, instead of sending him to an English School, which was then regarded as the only place for efficient instruction, sent him to the vernacular village school for his early education. "While my father's subordinates" says Sir Jagadis "sent their children to the English schools intended for gentle folks, I was sent to the vernacular school, where my comrades were hardy sons of toilers and of others who, it is now fashion to regard, were belonging to the depressed classes."[3] Speaking of the effect it produced on him, observes Sir Jagadis "From these who tilled the ground and made the land blossom with green verdure and ripening corn, and the sons of the fisher folk, who told stories of the strange creatures that frequented unknown depths of mighty rivers and stagnant pools, I first derived the lesson of that which constitutes true manhood. From them too I drew my love of nature."[3]

"I now realise" continues Sir Jagadis "the object of my being sent at the most plastic period of my life to the vernacular school where I was to learn my own thoughts and to receive the heritage of our national culture through the medium of our own literature. I was thus to consider myself one with the people and never to place myself in an equivocal position of assumed superiority."[3]

"The moral education which we received in our childhood" adds Sir Jagadis "was very indirect and came from listening to stories recited by the "Kathaks" on various incidents connected with our great epics. Their effects on our mind was Very great."[4]

And it is very interesting to learn from the lips of Sir Jagadis himself "that the inventive bent of his mind received its first impetus" in the industrial and technical schools established by his father.[4]


After he had developed, in the pathsala, some power of observation, some power of reasoning and some power of expression through the healthy medium of his own mother tongue, young Jagadis was sent to an English School for education. He passed the Entrance Examination, in 1875, from the St. Xavier's Collegiate School, Calcutta, in the First Division. He then joined the College classes of that Institution, and there, in the "splendid museum of Physical Science Instruments," he drew his early inspirations in Physics from that remarkable educationist and brilliant experimentalist, the Rev. Father E. Lefont, S.J., C.I.E., M.I.E.E., who had the rare gift of enkindling the imagination of his pupils. He passed the First Examination in Arts, in 1877, in the Second Division and the B.A. Examination by the B. Course (Science Course), in 1880, in the Second Division. "It is the paramount duty of the University" says Sir Ashutosh Mookerjea "to discover and develop unusual talent."[5] The Calcutta University, by the test of examination which it applied, totally failed to discover (not to speak of developing) the powers of an original mind which was destined to enrich the world by giving away the fruits of its experience.


After Jagadis had graduated himself, in the Calcutta University, he longed to get a course of scientific education in England. He was sent to Cambridge and joined the Christ's College. He came in "personal contact with eminent men, whose influence extorted his admiration and created in him a feeling of emulation. In the way he owed a great deal to Lord Rayleigh, under whom he worked."[6] He passed the B.A. Examination of the Cambridge University, in Natural Science Tripos, in 1884. He also secured, in 1883, the B.Sc. Degree with Honours of London University. Jagadis had, by birth, the speculative Indian mind. And, by his scientific education, at home and abroad, he developed a capacity for accurate experiment and observation and learnt to control his Imagination—"that wonderous faculty which, left to ramble uncontrolled leads us astray into a wilderness of perplexities and errors, a land of mists and shadows; but which, properly controlled by experience and reflection, becomes the noblest attribute of man; the source of poetic genius, the instrument of discovery in Science."[7] His strength and fertility as a discoverer is to be referred in a great measure to the harmonious blending of the burning Imagination of the East with the analytical methods of the West.


After having completed his education abroad. Jagadis chose the teaching of Science as his vocation. He was appointed as Professor of Physical Science at the Presidency College, Calcutta. He joined the service on the 7th January, 1885. Although he was appointed in Class IV of the then Bengal Educational Service, (which afterwards merged in the present Indian Educational Service), he was not admitted to the full scale of pay of the Service. He, being an Indian, was allowed to draw only two-thirds the pay of his grade. This humiliating distinction was, however, removed in his case, on the 21st September 1903, when the bureaucracy could not any longer ignore the pressure of enlightened opinion that was brought to bear on it.


It was in 1887, some times after Professor J. C. Bose had joined the Presidency College, Hertz demonstrated, by direct experiment, the existence of Electric Waves—the properties of which had been predicted by Clerk Maxwell long before. This great discovery sent a reverberation through the gallery of the scientific world. And, at once, the scientists in all countries began to devote their best energies to explorations in this new Realm of Nature. Young J. C. Bose—who had drunk deep at the springs of Scientific Knowledge and whose imagination had been very deeply touched by the scientific activities of the West and who had in him the burning desire that India should 'enter the world movement for that advancement of knowledge'—also followed suit.


When, however, Prof. J. C. Bose joined the Presidency College, there was no laboratory worth the name there, nor had he any of 'those mechanical facilities at his disposal which every prominent European and American experimental scientist commands'. He had to work under discouraging difficulties before he could begin his investigations. He was, however, not a man to quarrel with circumstances. He bravely accepted them and began to work in his own private laboratory and with appliances which, in any other country, would be deemed inadequate. He applied himself closely to the investigation of the invisible etheric waves and, with the simple means at his command, accomplished things, which few were able to perform in spite of their great wealth of external appliances.

As the wave-length of a Hertzian (electric) ray was very large—about 3 metres[8] long—compared with that of visible light, considerable difficulties were experienced in carrying on experiments with the same. It was thought, for instance, that very large crystals, much larger than what occur in nature, would be required to show the polarisation of electric ray. Prof. Bose who 'combined in him the inventiveness of a resourceful engineer, with the penetration and imagination of a great scientist'—designed an instrument which generated very short electric waves with a length of about 6 millimetres or so. And, by working with Electric radiations having very short wave-lengths, he succeeded in demonstrating that the electric waves are polarised by the crystal Nemalite (which he himself discovered) in the very same way as a beam of light is polarised by the crystal Tourmaline. He then showed that a large number of substances, which are opaque to Light (e.g. pitch, coal-tar etc.) are transparent to Electric Waves. He next determined the Index of Refraction of various substances for invisible Electric Radiation and thereby eliminated a great difficulty which had presented itself in Maxwell's theory as to the relation between the index of refraction of light and the di-electric constant of insulators. He then determined the wave length of Electric Radiation as produced by various oscillators.


His first contribution was 'On Polarisation of Electric Rays by Double Refracting Crystals.' It was read at a meeting of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, held on the 1st May 1895, and was published in the Journal of the Society in Vol. LXIV, Part II, page 291. His next contributions were 'On a new Electro polariscope' and 'On the Double Refraction of the Electric Ray by a Strained Di-electric.' They appeared, in the Electrician, the leading journal on Electricity, published in London. These 'strikingly original researches' won the attention of the scientific world. Lord Kelvin, the greatest physicist of the age, declared himself 'literally filled with wonder and admiration for so much success in the novel and difficult problem which he had attacked.' Lord Rayleigh communicated the results of his remarkable researches to the Royal Society. And the Royal Society showed its appreciation of the high scientific value of his investigation, not only, by the publication, with high tributes, of a paper of his 'On the Determination of the Indices of Electric Refraction,' in December 1896, and another paper on the 'Determination of the Wave-length of Electric Radiation,' in June 1896, but also, by the offer, of their own accord, of an appropriation from the Special Parliamentary Grant made to the Society for the Advancement of Knowledge, for continuation of his work.

In recognition of the importance of the contribution made by Prof. Bose, the University of London conferred on him the Degree of Doctor of Science and the Cambridge University, the degree of M.A., in 1896. And, to crown all, the Royal Institution of Great Britain—rendered famous by the labour of Davy and Faraday, of Rayleigh and Dewar—honoured him by inviting to deliver a 'Friday Evening Discourse' on his original work. It would not be out of place to observe that the rare privilege of being invited to deliver a 'Friday Evening Discourse' is regarded as one of the highest distinction that can be conferred on a scientific man.


The Government of India showed its appreciation of his work by deputing him to Europe to place the results of his investigations before the learned Scientific Bodies. He remained on his Deputation from the 22nd July 1896 to the 19th April 1897. He read a paper 'On a complete Apparatus for studying the Properties of Electric Waves' at the meeting of British Association, held at Liverpool, in 1896. He then communicated a paper 'On the Selective Conductivity exhibited by Polarising Substances,' which was published by the Royal Society, in January 1897. He next delivered his 'Friday Evening Discourse,' at the Royal Institution, 'On Electric Waves,' on the 29th January 1897. "There is, however, to our thinking" wrote the Spectator at the time "something of rare interest in the spectacle presented of a Bengalee of the purest descent possible, lecturing in London to an audience of appreciative European savants upon one of the most recondite branches of the modern physical science." He was then invited to address the Scientific Societies in Paris. "Prof. J. C. Bose" wrote the Review Encyclopedique, Paris "exhibited on the 9th of March before the Sorbonne, an apparatus of his invention for demonstrating the laws of reflection, refraction, and polarisation of electric waves. He repeated his experiments on the 22nd, before a large number of members of the Academie des Sciences, among whom were Poincare, Cornu, Mascart, Lipmann, Cailletet, Becquerel and others. These savants highly applauded the investigations of the Indian Professor." M. Cornu, President of the Academy of Science, was pleased to address Professor Bose as follows:—

"By your discoveries you have greatly furthered the cause of Science. You must try to revive the grand traditions of your race which bore aloft the torch light of art and science and was the leader of civilization two thousand years ago. We, in France applaud you." This fervent appeal, we shall see, as we proceed, did not go in vain.

He was next invited to lecture before the Universities in Germany. At Berlin, before the leading physicists of Germany, he gave an address on Electric Radiation, which was subsequently published in the Physikaliscen Gesellschaft Berlin, in April 1897.


Having received the most generous and wide appreciation of his work, Dr. J. C. Bose continued, with redoubled vigour, his valuable researches on Electric Waves. He studied the influence of thickness of air-space on total reflection of Electric Radiation and showed that the critical thickness of air-space is determined by the refracting power of the prism and by the wave-length of the electric oscillations. He next demonstrated the rotation of the plane of polarisation of Electric Waves by means of pieces of twisted jute rope. He showed that, if the pieces are arranged so that their twists are all in one direction and placed in the path of radiation, they rotate the plane of polarisation in a direction depending upon the direction of twists; but, if they are mixed so that there are as many twisted in one direction as the other, there is no rotation.[9] He communicated to the Royal Society the results of his new researches. And the Royal Society published, in November 1897, his papers 'On the Determination of the Index of Refraction of glass for the Electric Ray' and 'On the influence of Thickness of Air-space on Total Reflection of Electric Radiation' and, in March 1898, his further contributions 'On the Rotation of Plane of Polarisation of Electric Waves by a twisted structure' and 'On the Production of a "Dark cross" in the Field of Electro-magnetic Radiation.'


The study of Electric Waves by Dr. J. C. Bose led not only to the devising of methods for the production of the shortest Electric Waves known but also to the construction of a very delicate 'Receiver' for the detection of invisible other disturbances. The most sensitive form of detector hitherto known was the "Coherer." One of the forms made by Sir Oliver Lodge consisted simply of a glass tube containing iron turnings, in contact with which were wire led into opposite ends of the tube. The arrangement was placed in series with a galvanometer and a battery; when the turnings were struck by electric waves, the resistance between loose metallic contacts was diminished and the deflection of the galvanometer was increased. Thus the deflection of the galvanometer was made to indicate the arrival of electric waves. The arrangement was, no doubt, a sensitive one, but, to get a greater delicacy, Dr. Bose used, instead of iron turnings, spiral springs which were pushed against each other by means of a screw.[10] Still the arrangement laboured under one great disadvantage. The 'receiver' had to be tapped between each experiment. So something better than a 'cohering' receiving was needed—something that was self-recovering, like a human eye. To discover that something, Dr. Bose began a study of the whole theory of 'coherer action.' It was hitherto believed that the electric waves, by impinging on iron and other metallic particles in contact, brought about a sort of fusion—a sort of 'coherence'—and that the diminution of resistance was the result of that 'coherence.' To satisfy himself as to the correctness of this theory, Dr. Bose engaged himself in a most laborious investigation to find out the action of electric radiation not only on iron particles but on all kinds of matter and ultimately discovered the surprising fact that, though the impact of electric waves generally produced a diminution of resistance, with potassium there was an increase of resistance after the waves had ceased.[11] This discovery at once showed the untenability of the old theory and pointed to the conclusion that the effect of electric radiation on matter is one of discriminative molecular action—that the Electric Waves produced a re-arrangement of the molecules which may either increase or decrease the contact resistance. It may be incidentally mentioned here that this detection of molecular change in matter under electric stimulation has given rise to a new theory of photographic action.

As a result of his painstaking investigation on the action of Electric Waves on different kinds of matter, Dr. Bose invented a new type of self-recovering electric receiver, "so perfect in its action that the Electrician suggested its use in ships and in electro-magnetic light-houses for the communication and transmission of danger-signals at sea through space. This was, in 1895, several years in advance of the present wireless system." Practical application of the results of Dr. Bose's investigations appeared so important that the Governments of Great Britain and the United States of America granted him patents for his invention of a certain crystal receiver which proved to be the most sensitive detector of the wireless signal. Dr. Bose, however, has made no secret at any time as to the construction of his apparatus. He has never utilised the patents granted to him for personal gain. His inventions are "open to all the world to adopt for practical and money-making purposes." "The spirit of our national culture" observes Sir J. C. Bose "demands that we should for ever be free from the desecration of utilising knowledge for personal gain."[12]


This inquiry which Dr. J. C. Bose started for the purpose of ascertaining 'coherer action'—why the "receiver" had to be tapped in order to respond again to electric waves—took him unconsciously to the border region of physics and physiology and gave an altogether new turn to his researches. "He found that the uncertainty of the early type of his receiver was brought on by 'fatigue' and that the curve of fatigue of his instrument closely resembled the fatigue curve of animal muscle."[13] He did not stop there but pushed on his investigations and found "that the 'tiredness' of his instrument was removed by suitable stimulants and that application of certain poisons, on the other hand, permanently abolished its sensitiveness." He was amazed at this discovery—this parallelism in the behaviour of the 'receiver' to the living muscle. This led him to a systematic study of all matter, Organic and Inorganic, Living and Non-Living.


He began an examination of inorganic matter in the same way as a biologist examines a muscle or a nerve. He subjected metals to various kinds of stimulus—mechanical, thermal, chemical, and electrical. He found that all sorts of stimulus produce an excitatory change in them. And this excitation sometimes expresses itself in a visible change of form and sometimes not; but the disturbance produced by the stimulus always exhibits itself in an electric response. He next subjected plants and animal tissues to various kinds of stimulus and also found that they also give an electric response. Finding that a universal reaction brought together metals, plants and animals under a common law, he next proceeded to a study of modifications in response, which occur under various conditions. He found that they are all benumbed by cold, intoxicated by alcohol, wearied by excessive work, stupified by anaesthetics, excited by electric currents, stung by physical blows and killed by poison—they all exhibit essentially the same phenomena of fatigue and depression, together with possibilities of recovery and of exaltation, yet also that of permanent irresponsiveness which is associated with death—they all are responsive or irresponsive under the same conditions and in the same manner. The investigations showed that, in the entire range of response phenomena (inclusive as that is of metals, plants and animals) there is no breach of continuity; that "the living response in all its diverse modifications is only a repetition of responses seen in the inorganic" and that the phenomena of response "are determined, not by the play of an unknowable and arbitrary vital force, but by the working of laws that know no change, acting equally and uniformly throughout the organic and inorganic matter."[14]


In the year 1900, the International Scientific Congress was held, in Paris. And Dr. J. C. Bose was deputed by the Government of India to the Congress as a delegate from this country. Before the assembled scientists, Dr. Bose delivered a remarkable address on the results of his researches on the similarity of Response of Inorganic and Living Substances to Electric stimulus ... 'De la generalite de Phenomenes Moleculairs produits par l'Ectricite sur la matirie Inorganique et sur la matiere Vivante.' He next read a paper 'On the Similarity of effect of Electric Stimulus on Inorganic and Living Substances' before the Bradford meeting of the British Association in 1900. He then contributed a very interesting paper 'on Binocular Alteration of Vision,' which was published by the Physiological Society of London, in November 1900. It may be mentioned here, by the way, that, in course of his investigations on the Response of the Living and Non-Living substances, Dr. Bose constructed an "artificial retina" to study the characteristics of the excitatory change produced by a stimulus on the retina and these characteristics gave him a clue to the unexpected discovery of the "binocular alteration of vision" in man—"each eye supplements its fellow by turns, instead of acting as a continuously yoked pair, as hitherto believed."[15] He next communicated to the Royal Society his researches 'On the Continuity of Effect of Light and Electric Radiation on Matter,' and 'On the Similarities between Mechanical and Radiation Strains,' and 'On the Strain Theory of Photographic action,' which were published in April 1901. Then, on the 10th May 1901, he delivered his remarkable 'Friday Evening Discourse,' at the Royal Institution, on the 'Response of Inorganic Matter to Stimulus.'


Then, on the 5th June 1901, he gave an experimental demonstration, before the Royal Society, on the subject of his researches 'On Electric Response of Inorganic Substances' which had already been communicated to that Society, on the 7th May 1901. He was strongly assailed by Sir John Burden Sanderson, the leading physiologist, and some of his followers. They objected to a physicist straying into the preserve especially reserved for them. They dogmatically asserted as physiologists that the excitatory response of ordinary plants to mechanical stimulus was an impossibility. But they failed to urge anything against the experiment of the physicist. In consequence of this opposition, Dr. Bose's paper, which was already in print, was not published but was placed in the archives of the Royal Society. "And it happened that eight months after the reading of his Paper, another communication found publication in the Journal of a different Society which was practically the same as Dr. Bose's but without any acknowledgment. The author of this communication was a gentleman who had previously opposed him at the Royal Society. The plagiarism was subsequently discovered and led to much unpleasantness. It is not necessary to refer any more to this subject except as an explanation of the fact that the determined hostility and misrepresentation of one man succeeded for more than 10 years to bar all avenues of publications for his discoveries."[16]

The opposition of the physiologists, however, did one good. It spurred Dr. Bose on and made him stronger in his determination not to encompass himself, within the narrow groove of physical investigation. He took furlough for one year, in extension of the period of his Deputation, and applied himself vigorously to the investigations, which he had already commenced in India and received facilities from the Managers of the Royal Institution to work in the Davy-Faraday Laboratory. He next read, at the Glasgow meeting of the British Association, in 1901, a paper 'On the Conductivity of Metallic particles under Cyclic Electro-magnetic Variation.' Then, in March 1902, "Prof. Bose" says the Nature "performed a series of experiments before the Linnean Society showing electric response for certain portions of the plant organism, which proved that as concerning fatigue, behaviour at high and low temperatures, the effects produced by poisons and anaesthetics, the responses are identical with those held to be characteristic of muscle and nerve." The Linnean Society published, in its Journal, in March 1902, his paper 'On Electric Response of Ordinary Plants under Mechanical Stimulus.' He then communicated to the Societe de Physique, Paris, his paper 'Sur la Response Electrique dans les Metaux, les Tissu Animaux et Vegetaux.' The Royal Society published, in April 1902, his contribution 'On the Electromotive Wave accompanying Mechanical Disturbance in Metals in contact with Electrolyte.' He was next asked by the Royal Photographic Society to give a discourse 'On the Strain Theory Vision and of Photographic Action,' which was published by the Society, in its Journal, in June 1902. He then wrote a paper 'On the Electric Response in Animal, Vegetable and Metal,' which was read before the Belfast meeting of the British Association, in 1902. The President of the Botanical Section at Belfast, in his address, observed "Some very striking results were published by Bose on Electric Response in ordinary plants. Bose's investigations established a very close similarity in behaviour between the vegetable and the animal. Summation effects were observed and fatigue effect demonstrated, while it was definitely shown that the responses were physiological. They ceased as soon as the piece of tissue was killed by heating. These observations strengthen considerably the view of the identical nature of the animal and vegetable protoplasm."

Dr. Bose then brought out a systematic treatise embodying the results of his researches under the significant title of 'Response in the Living and Non-living.' He returned to India, in October, 1902.


After he had come back, from the Second Scientific Deputation, the Government of India conferred on him the distinction of Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire, in 1903, in recognition of his valuable researches.


Next Dr. Bose, in natural sequence to the investigation of the response in 'inorganic' matter commenced 'a prolonged study of the activities of plant life as compared with corresponding functioning of animal life.'


It was believed that so-called 'sensitive' plants alone exhibited excitation by electric response. But Dr. Bose, believing in continuity of responsive phenomena, used the same experimental devices, with which he had already succeeded in obtaining the electric response of inorganic substances, to test whether ordinary plants also—meaning those usually regarded as 'insensitive'—would or would not exhibit excitatory electrical response to stimulus. With the help of very delicate instruments, Dr. Bose demonstrated the very startling fact that not only every plant, but every organ of every plant gave true excitatory electric response—and that response was not confined alone to 'sensitive' plants like Mimosa.

Dr. Bose then proceeded to investigate whether the responsive effects which he had shown to occur in ordinary plants might not be further exhibited by means of visible mechanical response, thus fully removing the distinction commonly assumed to exist between the 'sensitive' and supposed 'non-sensitive.' Dr. Bose invented 'special apparatus of extreme delicacy,' which detected infinitesimal tremors, and showed that ordinary plants, usually regarded as insensitive, gave motile responses, which had hitherto passed unnoticed. His later investigation shows that "all plants, even the trees, are fully alive to changes of environment; they respond visibly to all stimuli, even to the slight fluctuations of light by a drifting cloud."[17]


Finding that the plants give, not only electric but motile response as well, to stimulus, Dr. Bose proceeded to study the nature of responses evoked in plants by the stimuli of the natural forces. He found that plants respond visibly, by movements, to environmental stimuli. But the movements induced—'tropic' movements—are extremely diverse. Light, for example, induces sometimes positive curvature, sometimes negative. Gravitation, again, induces one movement in the root, and the opposition in the shoot. Dr. Bose applied himself to find out whether the movements in response to external stimuli, though apparently so diverse, could not be ultimately reduced to a fundamental unity of reaction. As a result of a very deep and penetrating study of the effects of various environmental stimuli, on different plant organs, he showed that the cells on two sides are unequally influenced, on account of different external conditions, and contract unequally, and hence the various movements are produced—that the many anomalous effects, hitherto ascribed to 'specific sensibilities,' are due to the 'differential sensibilities'—differential excitability of anisotropic structures and to the opposite effects of external and internal stimuli—that all varieties of plant movements are capable of a consistent mechanical explanation. Dr. Bose's "latest investigations recently communicated to the Royal Society have established the single fundamental reaction which underlies all these effects so extremely diverse."[18]


With an extended application of his mechanical theory, Dr. Bose has gradually removed the veil of obscurity from many a phenomenon in plant life. The 'autonomous' movements of plants, for example, which remained enveloped in mystery, received a satisfactory solution at his hands.


It was believed that automatically pulsating tissues draw their energy from a mysterious "vital force" working within. By controlling external forces, Dr. Bose stopped the pulsation and re-started it and thus demonstrated that the 'automatic action' was not due to any internal vital force. He pointed out that the external stimulus—instead of causing, as was customary to suppose, an explosive chemical change and an inevitable run-down of energy—brings about an accumulation of energy by the plant. And with the accumulation of absorbed energy, a point is reached when there is an overflow—the excess of energy bubbles over, as it were, and shows itself in 'spontaneous' movements. The stimulus being strong a single response—a single twitching of the leaflets—is not enough to express the whole of the leaf's responsive energy and it yields a multiple response—it reverberates—it manifests itself in 'automatic' pulsations. When, however, the accumulated energy is exhausted, then there is also an end of 'spontaneous movements.' There are strictly speaking, no 'spontaneous' movements; those known by that name are really due either to the immediate effects of external stimulus or to the stimulus previously absorbed and held latent in the plant to find subsequent expression—due to the direct or indirect action of external forces which are transformed in the machinery of the plants in obedience to the principle of the Conservation of Energy.


Dr. Bose then showed that, not gross mechanical movements alone, but also other invisible movements are initiated by the action of stimulus, and that the various activities, such as the "ascent of sap" and "growth" are in reality different reactions to the stimulating action of energy supplied by the environment. In this way, Dr. Bose showed that several obscure phenomena, in the life-processes of the plant, can be very satisfactorily explained by the Mechanical Theory.

It would not be out of place to mention that Dr. Bose, to carry on his researches on the Ascent of Sap, invented a new type of instrument (Shoshungraph). And for an accurate investigation on the phenomenon of growth of plants he devised an instrument (Growth Recorder) for instantaneous measurement of the rate of growth and another instrument (Balanced Crescograph) for determining the influences of various agencies on growth. So very marvellous these instruments that the growth, which takes place, during a few beats of pendulum, is measured, and, in less than a quarter of an hour, the action of fertilizers, foods, electrical currents and various stimulants are determined. "What is the tale of Aladdin and his wonderful lamp" exclaims the Editor of the Scientific American "compared with the true story told by the crescograph?... Instead of waiting a whole season, perhaps years, to discover whether or not it is wise to mix this or that fertilizer with the soil one can now find in a few minutes!" Yet these are the instruments which are better known in Washington than in Calcutta! The question of their application to practical agriculture has excited more interest in the United States of America than in this unfortunate land, which is an essentially agricultural country!


Dr. Bose showed that there is no physiological response given by the most highly organised animal tissue that is not also to be met with in the plant. He carried on "Researches on Diurnal Sleep" and showed that the plant is not equally sensitive to an external stimulus during day and night, and that there is a fundamental identity of life-reaction in plant and animal, as seen in a similar periodic insensibility in both, corresponding to what we call sleep. He also showed that the passage of life in the plant, as in the animal, is marked by an unmistakable spasm. He invented, an instrument (Morograph) with which he recorded the critical point of death of a plant with great exactness. He demonstrated, in the most conclusive manner, that there is an essential unity of physiological effects of drugs on plant and animal tissues and showed the modifications which are introduced into these effects by the factor of individual 'constitution.' It may be mentioned casually that "this physiological identity in the effect of drugs is regarded by leading physicians as of great significance in the scientific advance of Medicine; since we have a means of testing the effect of drugs under conditions far simpler than those presented by the patient, far subtler too, as well as more humane than those of experiments on animals."[19] Dr. Bose further demonstrated that there is conduction of the excitatory impulse in the plant, like the nervous impulse in the animal; and showed the possibility of detecting the wave in transit and measured the speed with which the excitation coursed through the plant and also showed that the velocity of excitation is modified, by different agencies, even in the case of ordinary plants. He also showed that the polar effects induced by electric currents, both in plants and animals, are identical.

These remarkable researches on Plant Response have 'revolutionised in some respects and very much extended in others our knowledge of the response of plants to stimulus.'


Dr. Bose communicated his paper 'On the Electric Pulsation accompanying Automatic Movements in Desmodium Gyrans' to the Linnaean Society, which was published, in December 1902. Then, in 1903, he communicated to the Royal Society his researches on 'Investigation on Mechanical Response in Plants,' 'On Polar effects of Currents on the Stimulation of Plants,' 'On the Velocity of Transmission of Excitatory waves in Plants,' 'On the excitability and conductivity of Plant Tissues,' 'On the Propagation of the Electromotive Wave concomitant of Excitatory Waves in Plants,' 'On Multiple Response in Plants,' 'On an enquiry into the cause of Automatic Movements.'

"These new contributions" made by Dr. Bose on Plant Response "were regarded as of such great importance that the Royal Society showed its special appreciation by recommending them to be published in their Philosophical Transactions. But the same influence, which had hitherto stood in his way, triumphed once more, and it was at the very last moment that the publication was withheld. The Royal Society, however, informed him that his results were of fundamental importance, but as they were so wholly unexpected and so opposed to the existing theories, that they would reserve their judgment until, at some future time, plants themselves could be made to record their answers to questions put to them. This was interpreted in certain quarters here as the final rejection of Dr. Bose's theories by the Royal Society and the limited facilities which he had in the prosecution of his researches were in danger of being withdrawn."[20]


But these difficulties—sufficient to crush many a spirit—could hardly quench the ardour of his burning soul, which was 'hungering and thirsting' for the establishment of a truth in which he had a firm Faith. Though the surges would beat against him, he would not give way. With the true spirit of a Sadhak, he devoted himself to the realisation of the great dream of his life. And, for the next ten years, the one tap, jap and aradhana of his life—the one all-engrossing idea of his mind—was how to make the plant give testimony by means of its own autograph.


Though his researches did not find an outlet, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, he did not lose heart. He brought out, in April 1906, a systematic treatise—"The Plant Response as a Means of Physiological Investigation"—in which he incorporated the results of his investigations on plant life.


Hitherto Dr. Bose detected the various excitatory effects of plants by means of mechanical response. Being now confronted with opposition, he turned his attention to the finding of corroboration of the various results, which he had already obtained, by some other method of investigation. And for this he employed the method of electric response. He found that the results obtained by this new method of inquiry corroborated those already obtained by him by the old method. Emboldened by this corroboration, he next proceeded to extend this new method of inquiry by means of electric response into the field of Animal Physiology with a view to explain responsive phenomena in general on the consideration of that fundamental molecular reaction which occurs even in inorganic matter.'[21]


Dr. Bose found, in the plant as well as in the animal, "a similar series of excitatory effects, whether these be exhibited mechanically or electrically. Both alike are responsive, and similarly responsive, to all the diverse forms of stimulus that impinge upon them. We ascend, in the one case as in the other, from the simplicities of the isotropic to the complexities of the anisotropic; and the laws of these isotropic and anisotropic responses are the same in both. The responsive peculiarities of epidermis, epithelium, and gland; the response of the digestive organ, with its phasic alterations; and the excitatory electrical discharge of an anisotropic plate, are the same in the plant as in the animal. The plant, like the animal, is a single organic whole, all its different parts being connected, and their activities co-ordinated, by the agency of those conducting strands which are known as nerves. As in the plant nerve, moreover, so also in the animal, stimulation gives rise to two distinct impulses, exhibiting themselves by two-fold mechanical and electrical indications of opposite signs.... The dual qualities or tones known to us in sensation, further, are correspondent with those two different nervous impulses, of opposite signs, which are occasioned by stimulation. These two sensory responses—positive and negative, pleasure and pain—are found to be subject to the same modifications, under parallel conditions, as the positive and negative mechanical and electrical indications with which they are associated. And finally, perhaps, the most significant example for the effect of induced anisotropy lies in that differential impression made by stimulus on the sensory surfaces, which remains latent, and capable of revival, as the memory-image. In this demonstration of continuity, then, it has been found that the dividing frontiers between Physics, Physiology, and Psychology have disappeared."[22]


The results, which Dr. Bose obtained from actual experiments, clashed, however, with the theories in vogue. The reactions of different issues were hitherto regarded as special differences. As against this, a continuity is shown to exist between them. Thus, nerve was universally regarded as typically non-motile; its responses were believed to be characteristically different from those of muscle. Dr. Bose, however, has shown that nerve is indisputably motile and that the characteristic variations in the response of nerve are, generally speaking, similar to those of the muscle.

It was customary to regard plants as devoid of the power to conduct true excitation. Dr. Bose had already shown that this view was incorrect. He now showed, by experiment, that the response of the isolated vegetal nerve is indistinguishable from that of animal nerve, throughout a large series of parallel variations of condition. So complete, indeed, is the similarity between the responses of plant and animal, found, of which this is one instance, that the discovery of a given responsive characteristic in one case proves a sure guide to its observation in the other, and the explanation of phenomenon, under the simpler conditions of the plant, is found fully sufficient for its elucidation under the more complex circumstances of the animal. Dr. Bose found 'differential excitability' is widely present as a factor in determining the character of special responses and showed that many anomalous conclusions, with regard to the response of certain animal tissues, had arisen from the failure to take account of the 'differential excitability' of anisotropic organs. Hitherto Pfluger's Law of the polar effects of currents was supposed to rest on secure foundations. But Dr. Bose showed that Pfluger's Law was not of such universal application as was supposed. He demonstrated that, above and below a certain range of electromotive intensity, the polar effects of currents are precisely opposite to those enunciated by Pfluger.


It was supposed that nervous impulse, which, must necessarily form the basis of sensation, was beyond any conceivable power of visual scrutiny. But Dr. Bose showed that this impulse is actually attended by change of form, and is, therefore capable of direct observation. He also showed that the disturbance, instead of being single, is of two different kinds—viz., one of expansion (positive) and the other of contraction (negative)—and that, when the stimulus is feeble, the positive is transmitted, and, when the stimulus is stronger, both positive and negative are transmitted, but the negative, however, being more intense, masks the positive. He identified the wave of expansion travelling along the nerve with the tendency to pleasure, and the wave of contraction, with the tendency to pain. It thus appears that all pain contains an element of pleasure, and that pleasure, if carried too far becomes pain—that "the tone of our sensation is determined by the intensity of nervous excitation that reaches the central perceiving organ."


Dr. Bose next pointed out that there remains, for every response, a certain residual effect. A substance, which has responded to a given stimulus, retains, as an after-effect, a 'latent impression' of that stimulus and this 'latent impression' is capable of subsequent revival by bringing about the original condition of excitation. The impress made by the action of stimulus, though it remains latent and invisible, can be revived by the impact of a fresh excitatory impulse.

Experimenting with a metallic leaf, Dr. Bose demonstrated the revival of a latent impression under the action of diffused stimulus. The investigation by Dr. Bose on the after-effects of stimulus has thrown some light on the obscure phenomenon, of 'memory.' It appears that, when there is a mental revival of past experience, the diffuse impulse of the 'will' acts on the sensory surface, which contains the latent impression and re-awakens the image which appears to have faded out. Memory is concerned, thus, with the after-effect of an impression induced by a stimulus. It differs from ordinary sensation in the fact that the stimulus which evokes the response, instead of being external and objective, is merely psychic and subjective.

Dr. Bose has, by experimental devises, shown the possibility of tracing 'memory-impression' backwards even in inorganic matter, such latent impression being capable of subsequent revival. An investigation of the after-effects of stimulus, on living tissues would open out the great problem of the influence of past events on our present condition.


There is a wide-spread belief that, in the case of a sudden death-struggle, as for example, when drowning, the memory, of the past comes in a flash. "Assuming the correctness of this," says Sir Jagadis "certain experimental results which I have obtained may be pertinent to the subject. The experiment consisted in finding whether the plant, near the point of death, gave any signal of the approaching crisis. I found that at this critical moment a sudden electrical spasm sweeps through every part of the organism. Such a strong and diffused stimulation—now involuntary—may be expected in a human subject to crowd into one brief flash a panoramic succession, of all the memory images latent in the organism."[23]


Dr. Bose published the results of these new researches, in 1907, in another remarkable volume, which was styled 'The Comparative Electro-Physiology.'


After the publication of 'The Comparative Electro-Physiology,' the Government of India again sent Dr. Bose on a Scientific Deputation. He went over to England and America and placed the results of his researches before the learned Scientific Bodies. He read a paper 'On Mechanical Response of Plants' at the Liverpool meeting of British Association, in 1907. He then read a paper on 'The Oscillating Recorder for Automatic Tracing of Plant Movements' before the New York Academy of Sciences, and, in December 1908, he gave an address on 'Mechanical and Electrical Response in Plants,' at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Baltimore, and, in January 1909, he delivered a lecture on 'Growth Response of Plants' before the United States Department of Agriculture and, in February 1909, he read a paper on 'Death-spasm in Plants,' before the University of Illinois, and, in March 1909, a paper on 'Multiple and Autonomous Response in Plants' before the Madison University. He also lectured before the New York Botanical Society, the Medical Society of Boston, the Society of Western Electric Engineers at Chicago. He also delivered a series of post-graduate lectures on Electro-Physics and Plant Physiology at the Universities of Wisconsin, Chicago, Ann Arbor. He returned to India, in July 1909.


By his new and newer methods of investigation, Dr. Bose got a deep and deeper perception of that underlying unity, for the demonstration of which he had been labouring since 1901. But the dream of his life was not yet realised. No direct method of obtaining response record was yet obtained. Hitherto the response recorder employed was a modification of the optical lever, automatic records being secured by the very inconvenient and tedious process of photography (which again introduced complications by subjecting a plant to darkness and thereby modifying its normal excitability); and the plant was not automatically excited by stimulus, besides the results obtained were liable to be influenced by personal factor. So Dr. Bose set about the invention of an apparatus, which should discard the use of photography and in which the plant (attached to the recording apparatus) should be automatically excited by stimulus absolutely constant, should make its own responsive record, going through its own period of recovery, and embarking on the same cycle over again without assistance at any point on the part of the observer. Great difficulties were encountered in realising these ideal requirements. They appeared, at first, to be insurmountable. But, with continuous toil and persistence, Dr. Bose succeeded in designing a long battery of supersensitive instruments and apparatus, which made the seeming impossible possible. His ingenious "Resonant and Oscillating Recorders" gave a simple and direct method of obtaining the record. The plant, being automatically excited by stimulus, made its own responsive record. The closed doors, at last, opened. The secret of plant life stood revealed by the autographs of the plant itself. The great sadhana of his life now received its fulfilment. "It has been beautifully said—and it is a law of the moral world as unchangeable as physical laws—'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."[24]


Dr. Bose had shown that all plants are sensitive—that there is no difference between the so-called 'sensitive' and the supposed 'non-sensitive'—that they gave alike the true excitatory electric response as well as motile response. The evidence of plant's script now removed beyond any doubt the long-standing error which divided the vegetable world into 'sensitive' and 'insensitive.' There remained, however, the question of nervous impulse in plants, the discovery of which, though announced by Dr. Bose, ten years ago, did not yet find full acceptance.

Finding that the scope of his investigation has been very much enlarged by the devise of the Resonant Recorder, Dr. Bose proceeded to attack the current view "that there was no transmission of true excitation in Mimosa, the propagated impulse being regarded as merely hydromechanical." This conclusion was based on the experiments of the leading German plant physiologists, Pfeffer and Haverlandt who failed to bring on any variation in the propagated impulse in plants either by scalding or by application of an anaesthetic. Dr. Bose pointed out that, as Pfeffer applied the chloroform to the outer stalk and Haverlandt scalded the outer stem, neither the stimulant nor the anaesthetic reached the nerves. So he, instead of applying the stimulant or the anaesthetic, in the liquid form, to the outer stalk or stem, confined the Mimosa, in a little chamber, and subjected it to the influence of the vapour of the drug. The fumes now penetrated and reached the nerves and the plant was made to record, by its own script, the variations, if any, produced by the drugs. The plant, by its self-made records, showed exultation with alcohol, depression with chloroform, rapid transmission of a shock with the application of heat, and an abolition of the propagated impulse with the application of a deadly poison like potassium cyanide. This variation in the transmitted impulse, under physiological variations, showed that it was not a physical one. This sealed the fate of the hydromechanical theory.

Dr. Bose went further and showed that the impulse is transmitted in both directions along the nerve but not at the same rate. And, by interposing an electric block, he arrested the nervous impulse in a plant in a manner similar to the corresponding arrest in the animal nerve and thereby produced nervous paralysis in plant, such paralysis being afterwards cured by appropriate treatment. "If he had made no other discovery," says the Editor of the Scientific American "Dr. Bose would have earned an enduring reputation in the annals of science. We know very little about paralysis in the human body, and practically nothing about its cause. The nervous system of the higher animals is so complicated, so intricate, that it is hard to understand its derangement. The human nerve dies when isolated. It is killed by the shock of removal, and responds for the moment abnormally and therefore deceptively. But, if we study the simplest kind of a nerve,—and the simplest is that of a plant,—we may hope to understand what occurs when a hand or a foot cannot be made to move. To find out that plants have nerves, to induce paralysis in such nerves and then to cure them—such experiments will lead to discoveries that may ultimately enable physicians to treat more rationally than they do, the various forms of paralysis now regarded as incurable."


Dr. Bose showed not only that the nervous impulse in plant and in man is exalted or inhibited under identical conditions but carried the parallelism very far and pointed out the blighting effects on life of a complete seclusion and protection from the world outside. "A plant carefully protected under glass from outside shocks", says Sir Jagadis "looks sleek and flourishing; but its higher nervous function is then found to be atrophied. But when a succession of blows is rained on this effete and bloated specimen, the shocks themselves create nervous channels and arouse anew the deteriorated nature. And is it not shocks of adversity, and not cotton-wool protection, that evolve true manhood?"[25]


Having found that his investigation on Mimosa had broken down the barriers which separated kindred phenomena, Dr. Bose next communicated the results of his wonderful researches to the Royal Society. His paper was read, at a meeting of the Society, held on the 6th March 1913. The Royal Society now found that Dr. Bose had rendered the seemingly impossible, possible—had made the plant tell its own story by means of its self-made records. It could no longer withhold the recognition which was his due. The barred gates, at last, opened and the paper of Dr. Bose "On an Automatic Method, for the investigation of the Velocity of Transmission of Excitation in Mimosa" found publication in the "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society" in Vol. 204, Series B.


Dr. Bose next pursued with great vigour his investigations on the Irritability of Plants. By making the plant tell its own story, by means of its self-made records, he showed that there is hardly any phenomenon of irritability observed in the animal which is not also found in the plant and that the various manifestations of irritability in the plant are identical with those in the animal and that many difficult problems in Animal Physiology find their solution in the experimental study of corresponding problems under simpler conditions of vegetable life.


It may be mentioned that Dr. Bose showed one very remarkable fact—from the summaries of the automatic records of the responses given by a plant (which was subjected to an impulse during all hours of the day and night)—that it wakes up during morning slowly, becomes fully alert by noon, and becomes sleepy only after midnight, resembling man in a surprising manner.


Dr. Bose embodied the results of his fascinating researches, obtained by the introduction of new methods, in another remarkable volume—"Researches on Irritability of plants"—which was published, in 1913.


In recognition of his valuable researches, Dr. J. C. Bose was invested with the insignia of the Companion of the Order of the Star of India by His Majesty the King Emperor, on the occasion of his Coronation Durbar, at Delhi, in 1911.

The intelligentsia of Bengal showed also their tardy appreciation by calling on him to preside over the deliberations of the Mymensing meeting of the Bengal Literary Conference, held on the 14th April 1911, when he delivered a unique Address,[26] in the Bengali language, on the results of his epoch-making researches.

The Calcutta University next showed its belated recognition, by conferring on him the degree of D.Sc. honoris causa, in 1912.

And the Punjab University also showed its appreciation by inviting him, in 1913, to deliver a course of lectures on the results of his investigation.


Dr. J. C. Bose was invited to give his evidence before the Royal Commission on the Public Services in India. With reference to the Method of Recruitment, he observed, in his written statement, as follows:— "... I think that a high standard of scholarship should be the only qualification insisted on. Graduates of well-known Universities, distinguished for a particular line of study, should be given the preference. I think the prospects of the Indian Educational Service are sufficiently high to attract the very best material. In Colonial Universities they manage to get very distinguished men without any extravagantly high pay.... At present the recruitment in the Indian Educational Service is made in England and is practically confined to Englishmen. Such racial preference is, in my opinion, prejudicial to the interest of education. The best men available, English or Indian, should be selected impartially, and high scholarship should be the only test.... It is unfortunate that Indian graduates of European Universities who had distinguished themselves in a remarkable manner do not for one reason or other find facilities for entering the higher Educational Service.... I should like to add that these highly qualified Indians need only opportunities to render service which would greatly advance the cause of higher education.... If promising Indian graduates are given the opportunity of visiting foreign Universities, I have no doubt that they would stand comparison with the best recruits that can be obtained from the West.... As teachers and workers it is an incontestable fact that Indian Officers have distinguished themselves very highly, and anything which discriminates between Europeans and Indians in the way of pay and prospects is most undesirable. A sense of injustice is ill-calculated to bring about that harmony which is so necessary among all the members of an educational institution, professors and students alike."[27] Pressing next for a high level of scholarship, in the Indian Educational Service, he wrote:—

"It has been said that the present standard of Indian Universities is not as high as that of British Universities, and that the work done by the former is more like that of the 6th form of the public schools in England. It is therefore urged that what is required for an Educational officer in the capacity to manage classes rather than high scholarship. I do not agree with these views. (1) There are Universities in Great Britain whose standards are not higher than ours; I do not think that the Pass Degree even of Oxford or Cambridge is higher than the corresponding degree here (2) the standard of the Indian University is being steadily raised; (3) the standard will depend upon what the men entrusted with Educational work will make it. For these reasons it is necessary that the level of scholarship represented by the Indian Educational Service should be maintained very high."[28]

He then dwelt on what should be the aim of Higher Education in India and observed as follows:—

"... I think that all the machinery to improve the higher education in India would be altogether ineffectual unless India enters the world movement for the advancement of knowledge. And for this it is absolutely necessary to touch the imagination of the people so as to rouse them to give their best energies to the work of research and discovery, in which all the nations of the world are now engaged. To aim anything less will only end in lifeless and mechanical system from which the soul of reality has passed away."[28]

He was called, on the 18th December 1913, and was put to a searching examination by the Members of the Royal Commission. The evidence that he gave is instinct with patriotism and is highly remarkable for its simplicity and directness about the things he said. To the Chairman (Lord Islington) he stated that he "favoured an arrangement by which Indians would enter the higher ranks of the service, either through the Provincial Service or by direct recruitment in India. The latter class of officers, after completing their education in India, should ordinarily go to Europe with a view to widening their experience. By this he did not wish to decry the training given in the Indian Universities, which produce some of the very best men, and he would not make the rule absolute. It was not necessary for men of exceptional ability to go to England in order to occupy a high chair. Unfortunately, on account of there being no openings for men of genius in the Educational Service, distinguished men were driven to the profession of Law. In the present condition of India a larger number of distinguished men were needed to give their lives to the education of the people.

"... The educational service ought to be regarded not as a profession, but as a calling. Some men were born to be teachers. It was not a question of race, of course; in order to have an efficient educational system, there must be an efficient organisation, but this should not be allowed to become fossilised, and thus stand in the way of healthy growth.... A proportion of Europeans in the service, was needed, but only as experts and not as ordinary teachers. Only the very best men should be obtained from Europe and for exceptional cases. The general educational work should be done entirely by Indians, who understood the difficulties of the country much better than any outsider. He advocated the direct recruitment of Indians in India by the local Government in consultation with the Secretary of State, rather than by the Secretary of State alone. Indians were under a great difficulty, in that they could not remain indefinitely in England after taking their degrees and being away from the place of recruitment their claims were overlooked. There was no reason why a European should be paid a higher rate of salary than an Indian on account of the distance he came. An Indian felt a sense of inferiority if a difference was made as regards pay. The very slight saving which Government made by differentiating between the two did not compensate for the feeling of wrong done. This feeling would remain even if the pay was the same, but an additional grant in the shape of a foreign service allowance was made to Europeans. All workers in the field of education should feel a sense of solidarity, because they were all serving one greet cause, namely, education."[29]

Being asked by Sir Valentine Chirol, he said "If a foreign professor would not come and serve in India for the same remuneration as he obtained in his own country, he would certainly not force him to come."[29]

To Mr. Abdur Rahim he said: "Recruitment for the Educational Service should be made in the first place in India, if suitable men were available; but if not then he would allow the best outsiders to be brought in. In the present state of the country it would be very easy to fill up many of the chairs by selecting the best men in India. The aim of the universities should be to promote two classes of work—first, research; and, secondly, an all-round sound education...."[29]

In answer to questions of Mr. Madge, he said: "Any idea that the educational system of India was so far inferior to that of England, that Indians, who had made their mark, had done so, not because of the educational system of the country, but in spite of it, was quite unfounded. The standard of education prevailing in India was quite up to the mark of several British Universities. It was as true of any other country in the world as of India that education was valued as a means for passing examination, and not only for itself, and there was no more cramming in India than elsewhere. The West certainly brought to the East a modern spirit, which was very valuable, but it would be dearly purchased by the loss of an honourable career for competent Indians in their own country. The educational system in India had in the past been too mechanical, but a turn for the better was now taking place and the Universities were recognising the importance of research work, and were willing to give their highest degrees to encourage it."[30]

To Mr. Fisher, he said that he "desired to secure for India Europeans who had European reputations in their different branches of study. If it was necessary to go outside India or England, to procure good men, he would prefer to go to Germany. This was the practice in America where they were annexing all the great intellects of Europe. He would like to see India entering the world movement in the advance and march of knowledge. It was of the highest importance that there should be an intellectual atmosphere in India. It would be of advantage if there were many Indians in the Educational Service. For they came more in contact with the people, and influenced their intellectual activity. Besides, on retirement they would live in India, and their ripe experience would be at their countrymen's service."[31]

To Mr. Gokhale, he said that he "knew of three instances in which the Colonies had secured distinguished men on salaries which were lower than those given to officers of the Indian Educational Service. One was at Toronto, another was in New Zealand and the third at Yale University. The salaries on the two latter cases were L600 and L500 a year. The same held good as regards Japan. The facts there had been stated in a Government of India publication as follows: 'Subsequent to 1895 there were 67 professors recruited in Europe and America. Of these 20 came from Germany, 16 from England and 12 from the United States. The average pay was L384. In the highest Imperial University the average pay is L684. As soon as Japanese could be found to do the work, even tolerably well, the foreigner was dropped.' When he first started work in India, he found that there was no physical laboratory, or any grant made for a practical experimental course. He had to construct instruments with the help of local mechanics, whom he had to train. All this took him ten years. He then undertook original investigation at his own expense. The Royal Society became specially interested in his work and desired to give him parliamentary grant for its continuation. It was after this that the Government of Bengal came forward and offered him facilities for research. In the Educational Service he would take men of achievement from any where; but men of promise he would take from his own country."[32]

To Sir Theodore Morison, he said: "There should be one scale of pay for all persons in the higher Educational Department. The rate of salary, Rs. 200 rising to Rs. 1,500 per month, was suitable subject to the proviso that a man of great distinction, instead of beginning at the lowest rate of pay, should start some where in the middle of the list, say, at Rs. 400 or Rs. 500. He would make no difference in regard to Europeans or Indians in that respect.... It would not be right for a great Government to grant a minimum of pay to Indian Professors and an extravagantly high pay to their European Colleagues, for doing the same kind of work."[33]

To Mr. Gupta, he said that "He desired one Service, because he thought it was most degrading that certain man, although they were doing the same work should be classed in a Provincial Service, while others should be classed in an Imperial Service. The prospects of the members of the Provincial Service were not at all what they ought to be, and that was the reason why the best men were not attracted to it."[33]


Though the theories of Dr. Bose received acceptance from the leading scientific men of the Royal Society, yet Dr. Bose realised the necessity of bringing about a general conviction as to the truth of the identity of life-reactions in plant and in animal. So he looked for an opportunity of giving demonstration of his discoveries before the leading Scientific Societies of the World. And that opportunity came. The Royal Institution of Great Britain again invited him to deliver a 'Friday evening discourse' on the results of his new researches. The University of Oxford and Cambridge also followed suit. The Government of India also showed their appreciation by sending him again on a Deputation for placing his discoveries before the Scientific world. He remained on deputation from the 3rd April 1914 to the 12th June 1915.


Proceeding on his Deputation to England, Dr. Bose gave his first lecture, on the 20th May 1914, at Oxford,—where the late Sir John Burden Sanderson and his followers were the leaders of biological thought—in presence of very distinguished scientists. It was a grand success. Actual visualisation by physical demonstration of the results of his novel researches at once convinced those who were present. He next proposed to give a discourse on Plant Response before the University of Cambridge. The interest in this lecture became so very keen that the Botanical Department of Cambridge went to the length of importing soil from India to give the plants the most favourable conditions for exhibiting their specific reactions. At the lecture, the large Botanical Theatre became filled with scientific specialists, dons and advanced students, who followed with great attention the experiments with which he illustrated his discourse. He was greeted with applause by the eminent scientists who thronged the lecture-theatre, at the end of every experiment. Sir Francis Darwin, the eminent botanist, in proposing a vote of thanks to Dr. Bose, said that 'he was filled with admiration, not only for the brilliancy of the work but for the convincing character of the experiments.' The scientists next assembled in great force, on the 29th May 1914, to hear the 'Friday Evening Discourse' of Dr. J. C. Bose on 'Plant Autographs and their Revelations,' at the Royal Institution, which was highly appreciated. At the end of the Discourse, Sir James Dewar, President of the Institution, gave an 'At Home' in honour of Dr. and Mrs. Bose.[34]


The demonstrations of a far-reaching character which Dr. Bose gave evoked considerable public interest in England. His private laboratory at Maida Vale, in London, became the object of pilgrimage to the leading men of thought there. Sir William Crookes, the President of the Royal Society, came and became 'much impressed by the most ingenious and novel self-recording instruments.' Professor Starling, the author of the standard work on Physiology, and Professor Oliver, the well-known Plant-Physiologist, also became impressed by the delicacy and importance of Dr. Bose's work and methods. Professor Carveth Read, author of "Metaphysics of Nature," wondered how far the researches would profoundly affect the philosophical thoughts. Mr. Balfour, the ex-premier, became enthralled with what he saw. Professor James A. H. Murray, Editor of the 'Oxford New English Dictionary,' and Bernard Shaw, the famous dramatist, felt themselves attracted to the great Indian Scientist and came to pay their homage to him. Even Lord Crewe, the then Secretary of State for India, paid a visit to his laboratory and spoke warmly of the pride which he and the Government of India felt for his discoveries and of high gratification to him that India should once more make such contributions for the intellectual advancement of the world. The leading newspapers wrote eulogistically of his researches. The well-known scientific journal Nature devoted ten columns to an illustrated synopsis of his discoveries. Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy, wrote a congratulatory letter to him—"It has been a source of immense gratification to the Viceroy to know that the foremost place in the special branch of research has been taken by one of India's most distinguished sons. The success you have won will only serve to stimulate your efforts and those of your pupils to other scientific investigations which will redound still further to the honour of those who conduct them, and of India, the country of their birth."[35]

From England Dr. Bose proceeded to the Continent, where his researches had already evoked keen interest.

On the 27th June 1914, he gave an address, illustrated with experiments, before the University of Vienna, which stands foremost in Biological researches. He was greeted with enthusiasm by the savants there. Some of the workers in plant physiology became so very much impressed with his demonstrations that they expressed a desire to be trained under him. Professor Molisch, the Director of the Pflanzen-physiologisches Institute of the Imperial University of Vienna, in proposing a vote of thanks, spoke highly of the great inspiration which the Viennese scientific men received from his discourse and dwelt on the indebtedness of Europe to India for the method of investigation initiated by Dr. Bose—method, which rendered it possible to prove deep into plant-life and bring forth results of which they could not hitherto dream. And the University of Vienna officially addressed the Secretary of State for India asking that special thanks of the University be conveyed to the Government of India for the impetus given to them by Dr. Bose's visit. Dr. Bose was next to start for Germany on his scientific mission, and address the University of Strassburg, Leipzic, Halle, Berlin and Bonn and then attend the international congress at Munich, but, as the War broke out, he was compelled to come back to London.[36] On his way back, he gave a Discourse before the eminent scientific men in Paris.

On his return to London, medical men evinced great interest in his researches. Sir John Reid, President of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Sir Lauder Brunton, Physician of His Majesty the King Emperor, paid a visit to his laboratory to witness the action of drugs upon plants. Sir Lauder Brunton became of opinion that 'much light would be thrown on action of drugs on animals, by first observing their effects on plants.' As a result of this visit, Dr. Bose was invited to give an address to the Royal Society of Medicine in the beginning of winter. But, as the period of his Deputation was about to expire, the Society cabled to the Government of India for an extension, which was granted. Dr. Bose then delivered a lecture, before the Royal Society of Medicine, on the 30th October 1914. The Royal Society of Medicine officially addressed the Secretary of State for India as follows:—

"... The lecture was one of the most successful we have had yet and evoked the keenest interest in the audience, Sir Lauder Brunton, Bt., and others taking part in the discussion, and warmly congratulating Prof. Bose and the Society on the value of his work. Since then I have received many expressions of appreciation that the Society was able to offer its fellows such an interesting demonstration of an entirely new departure in Biological Science." "At the invitation of the Psychological Society of London, Dr. Bose next delivered an interesting lecture on his theory of Memory Image."[37] He also gave an Address before the London Imperial college of Science.


Dr. Bose's discoveries in the meantime evoked great interest in America. He was invited by several leading scientific bodies to come over there and acquaint them with the results of his wonderful researches. So he next went to America. "While in America, he was swamped with letters and telegrams for lecture engagements from Maine to California" wrote Professor Sudhindra Bose M.A., Ph.D., of the Iowa University at that time, in the Modern Review.[38] "He has had so many calls for lectures from various Scientific societies, Colleges and Universities, that if he could speak twice a day and every day in the week, he could not hope to comply with all of those invitations in much less than a year." As he was in the United States, only for a few weeks, "he spoke before such learned bodies as the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science, the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, and joint meeting of Academy of Science, the Botanical Society, and the Bureau of Plant Industry at Washington. Among the larger Universities, he gave addresses at Harvard, Columbia, Iowa, Illinois, Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin.... Everywhere Dr. Bose has met with a very hearty welcome from the people of the American Republic. Even the Hon'ble Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, invited him to give a demonstration of his work at the State Department in Washington—an honour of unusual significance.... Dr. Bose has been made the subject of many magazine articles, newspaper editorials, cartoons and poems"[38].... "The famous Smithsonian Institute showed its high appreciation by submitting a report of Prof. Bose's work to the Congress. The Bureau of Plant Industry in Washington recognised his work on plant physiology as a very important contribution for the advancement of agriculture.... At the Harvard University his work has been received with high appreciation. President Stanley Hall, who is one of the leading psychologists of the day, has introduced Prof. Bose's work in the Post-graduate course of the Clarke University. His books have also been prescribed for physiological courses in different Universities in America, and in one of the leading Universities there, a special course of lectures is devoted to Prof. Bose's investigations on plant irritability...."[39]

The Columbia University, the largest in the United States, requested Dr. Bose to provide facilities in his Laboratory "for the reception of foreign students, who are desirous of familiarising themselves first hand with his apparatus and methods."


Dr. Bose then came back to India, in June 1915, via Japan. During his stay, in Japan, he acquainted himself with the efforts of the people and their aspirations towards a great future. He found that, "in materialistic efficiency, which, in a mechanical era, is regarded as an index of civilisation, they have surpassed their German teachers. A few decades ago, they had no foreign shipping and no manufactures. But, within an incredibly short time, their magnificent lines of steamers have proved so formidable a competitor that the great American lines in the Pacific will soon be compelled to stop their sailings. Their industries again, through the wise help of the State and other adventitious aids, are capturing foreign markets. But far more admirable is their foresight to save their country from any embroilment with other nations with whom they want to live in peace. And they realise that any predominant interest of a foreign country in their trade or manufacture is sure to lead to misunderstanding and friction. Actuated by this idea, they have practically excluded all foreign manufactured articles by prohibitive tariffs."[40] "Is our country slow to realise the danger" asks Dr. Bose "that threatens her by the capture of her market and the total destruction of her industries? Does she not realise that it is helpless passivity that directly provokes aggression?... There is, therefore, no time to be lost and the utmost effort is demanded of the Government and the people for the revival of our industries...."[41]


"A very serious danger" continues Dr. Bose "is thus seen to be threatening the future of India, and to avert it will require the utmost effort of the people. They have not only to meet the economic crisis but also to protect the ideals of ancient Aryan civilisation from the destructive forces that are threatening it.... There is a danger of regarding the mechanical efficiency as the sole end of life; there is also the opposite danger of a life of dreaming, bereft of struggle and activity, the degenerating into parasitic habits of dependence. Only through the noble call of patriotism can our nation realise the highest ideals in thought and in action...."[42]


After his return to India, Dr. Bose attended the Indian Science Congress at Lucknow. He then attended the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the Hindu University at Benares. On that occasion he delivered a masterly address. He said:—

"In tracing the characteristic phenomena of life from simple beginnings in that vast region which may be called unvoiced, as exemplified in the world of plants, to its highest expression in the animal kingdom, one is repeatedly struck by the one dominant fact that in order to maintain an organism at the height of its efficiency something more than a mechanical perfection of its structure is necessary. Every living organism, in order to maintain its life and growth, must be in free communion with all the forces of the Universe about it.

"Further, it must not only constantly receive stimulus from without, but must also give out something from within, and the healthy life of the organism will depend on these two-fold activities of inflow and outflow. When there is any interference with these activities, then morbid symptoms appear, which ultimately must end in disaster and death. This is equally true of the intellectual life of a Nation. When through narrow conceit a Nation regards itself self-sufficient and cuts itself from the stimulus of the outside world, then intellectual decay must inevitably follow.

"So far as regards the receptive function. Then there is another function in the intellectual life of a Nation, that of spontaneous flow, that going out of its life by which the world is enriched. When the Nation has lost this power, when it merely receives, but cannot give out, then its healthy life is over, and it sinks into a degenerate existence, which is purely parasitic.

"How can our Nation give out of the fulness of the life that is in it, and how can a new Indian University help in the realisation of this object? It is clear that its power of directing and inspiring will depend on its world status. This can be secured to it by no artificial means, nor by any strength in the past....

"This world status can only be won by the intrinsic value of the great contributions to be made by its own Indian scholars for the advancement of the world's knowledge. To be organic and vital our new University must stand primarily for self-expression and for winning for India a place she has lost. Knowledge is never the exclusive possession of any particular race, nor does it recognise geographical limitations. The whole world is interdependent, and a constant stream of thought has been carried out throughout the ages enriching the common heritage of mankind. Although science was neither of the East nor of the West but international, certain aspects of it gained richness by reason of their place of origin."[43]


The scientific mission of Dr. Bose to the West was a great success. The very convincing character of the demonstrations that he gave, before the leading Scientific Societies of the world, with his newly invented Resonant Recorder and other delicate instruments, secured a world-wide acceptance of his theories and results. Not only that. He secured also a recognition from the leading thinkers of "that trend of thought which led him unconsciously to the dividing frontiers of different sciences and shaped the course of his work."[44] It has come to be recognised that "India through her habit of mind is peculiarly fitted to realise the idea of unity and to see in the phenomenal world an orderly universe," to realise that "there can be but one truth, one Science which includes all other branches of knowledge,"[44] and that the store of world's knowledge would be incomplete without India's special contribution to it. Thus he has raised India in the estimation of the intellectual world.


Dr. Bose reached the age limit of 55 on the 29th November 1913 but he was granted an extension till the 13th September 1915. The period of his extension having expired, he retired from the Professorship in the Presidency College after 31 years of service. The Governing Body of the College, however, "in recognition of his eminent services to Science and Presidency College," appointed him honoris causa Emeritus Professor of the College. His duties as a member of the staff ceased. But he was given facilities to continue his work in the Physical Laboratory of the College.[45]


After his retirement, the Secretary of State, who had already been impressed with the high value of his researches, sanctioned a recurring grant of Rs. 30,000 a year (for him and his assistants) for 5 years and a non-recurring grant of Rs. 25,000 (for equipment) for continuation of his original work.... And, in further recognition of his valuable scientific work, the Government conferred on him a Knighthood, on the 1st January 1917. It may, however, be mentioned that this high honour has been bestowed for the first time on an Indian for his original work in Science.


Relieved of the trammels of service, Dr. Bose felt the necessity for realising a dream that wove a network round his wakeful life for years past—for establishing an Institute—a Study and Garden of Life—where the creepers, plants and trees would be played upon by their natural environment and would transcribe in their own script the history of their experience, where "the student would watch the panorama of life" and, "isolated from all distractions, would learn to attune himself with Nature and to see how community throughout the great ocean of life outweighs apparent the dissimilarity," and where "the genius of India would find its true blossoming," where the "synthetical intellectual methods of the East would co-operate with the analytical methods of the West," and whence would emanate a rich and peculiar current of thought and to which would be attracted votaries from all lands.[46]


Though the realisation of such a glorious Institute would not be effected through one life or one fortune, he wanted to accomplish something—something, so far as it lay in his power. So he proceeded to build and equip an Institute—the "Bose Institute"—at a cost of about 5 lakhs, the entire savings of his lifetime. While it was being constructed Their Excellencies the Viceroy and the Governor of Bengal paid a visit to Dr. Bose's private laboratory. On the 30th November 1917—the anniversary of his sixtieth birthday—he dedicated the Institute to the Nation, for the progress of Science and for the Glory of India.


In this Institute, Dr. Bose intends to go on with "the further and fuller investigation of the many and ever-opening problems of the nascent science which includes both Life and None Life" and wants to train up a devoted band of workers, with the Sanyasin mind, who would keep alive the flame kindled by him, and who, by acute observation and patient experiment would "wring out from Nature some of her most jealously guarded secrets" and who would thus lead to the establishment of a great Indian School of Science and to the "building of the greater India yet to be." There would be no academic limitation here to the widest possible diffusion of knowledge. The facilities of the Institute would be available to workers from all countries and there would be no desecration of knowledge here by its utilisation for personal gain—no patent would be taken of the discoveries here made. The high aim of a great Seat of Learning would be sought to be maintained here. The lectures here given would not be mere repetitions, second-hand knowledge but would announce for the first time to the world the new discoveries here made.[47]

The efforts of Dr. Bose have also animated our countrymen. Maharaja Sir Manindra Chandra Nandy of Kasimbazar has made a gift of two lakhs to the Institute. Mr. S. R. Bomanji has given one lakh. Mr. Moolraj Khatao has endowed the Institute with two lakh and a quarter. Other contributions are still pouring in.

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