The Story of Sarada Charan Das :
At the age of eighteen, Sarada Charan Das married Annapurna Devi(1912-1996) the twelve year-old daughter of Dr. Mahendranath Indra, a reputed Civil Surgeon.
Annapurna became the driving force behind her husband, and over the years grew to become the anchor of her large and extended family. The largeness of her heart showed itself in her legendary hospitality and kindness, which deeply touched all who were fortunate to meet her. Her interactions with the wide circle of her family, friends, husband’s friends and acquaintances were steeped in love and care, and it was generally acknowledged that the real moving spirit of the Das household was Annapurna, who truly embodied the spirit of the great goddess after whom she had been named.
Sarada Charan was a man of varied interests and passions. He became the chief patron of Bagbazar United Club (established in 1924) and Bagbazar Gymnasium Club (established in 1910), and promoted their activities for many years. From organizing endurance swimming contests in the Ganges to being a member of the official Indian weight-lifting delegation at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, he was actively involved for several decades in a wide range of sports and events. He had been the President of the prestigious Bagbazar Sarbojanin Durgotsab and Exhibition Committee between 1961 and 1965. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was also the President of this Committee between 1938-39. Sarada Charan was also the Founder Secretary of the Bagbazar Sarbajonin Durgotsab Trust and thereafter it's President. He was also a member of the Indian Science Congress. He was connected closely with the rise to glory of the Bengal School in the visual arts, being one of the most significant sponsors and friend of luminaries such as Jamini Roy, Shuvo Thakur and Gopal Ghosh.
He commissioned Jamini Roy to create one of his greatest masterpieces. Spread across seventeen canvasses Roy’s “Ramayana” occupies pride of place in the Das residence till today. Performing arts and artistes also drew his attention and interest, with many maestros of Indian classical music and dance invited to perform at his home. From Shanta Rao and Sitara Devi to Pt. Shamta Prasad, Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury of Gauripur and Ustad Dabir Khan, it was rare to find an artiste of stature in those decades who had not graced a soiree at the Das household. This galaxy of reputed musicians also included Anath Nath Basu, Dhirendra Chandra Mitra, Uday Bhushan Bhattacharya, Ata Hosein Khan and Shailaja Ranjan Majumdar, all of whom taught music to the children of the Das household, at one time or the other. Sarada Charan’s love for the arts ensured that each of his children was schooled formally in a performing art. His varied interests also helped to nurture his friendship with an illustrious circle drawn from every sphere of intellectual and cultural activity in the country in those days. Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, the legendary physician-chief minister, was their family physician from the time of his father, K. C. Das, and held the family in great affection. He counted among his close friends the biologist J.B.S. Haldane and his wife, movie stars Kanan Devi and Chhaya Devi, the statistician P.C. Mahalanobis, the revolutionary Lokenath Bal, the Tagore acolyte Amal Home, the scholars Nirmal Bose and Suniti Chattopadhyay, and many others. Completing this galaxy of luminaries were the Shankar family members: the internationally famous dancers Uday Shankar and Amala Shankar, the world renowned sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar and their next generation - Ananda Shankar and Mamata Shankar, who were related by marriage to Sarada Charan’s fourth son. Apart from them were Dr. Panchanan Chattopadhyay, Dr. R Ahmed, Dr. Bankim Mukhopadhyay, and the then leaders of Bengal Dhiren Mukhopadhyay, Atulya Ghosh and Prafulla Sen. The critical link between the medical luminaries and the Dases, was the brother of Annapurna, Dr. Major Hemanta Kumar Indra who retired as the Principal of R. G. Kar Medical College, Kolkata and also the Deputy Director of Health Services, Government of West Bengal.
Sarada Charan’s bent of mind was highly scientific. Oriented towards
innovations and discoveries, he spent a lot of his energies on new projects.
In early 1940’s he purchased a small Austin car, and tried to run
it on a fuel other than petrol. Though he was way ahead of his time in
terms of such innovative ideas, it did not make much headway. In 1948,
both Sarada Charan and his wife went to Europe for one and a half years.
They lived in London for a short while, and in Switzerland where they
stayed close to a year. While in Switzerland he collaborated with the
Swiss Company ‘Rebella’ and tried to start a whey drink in
India, which did not somehow succeed.