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Rash Behari Bose: The Unsung Hero of India’s Freedom Movement

The contribution of Rash Behari Bose in India’s struggle for freedom is a notable one

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Rash Behari Bose
Rash Behari Bose is one of the greatest hero of India's Freedom Movement

June 17, 2017: When we look through the pages of Indian history, we come across myriads of names of brave souls to whom we remain indebted till date, for freeing India from the control of the British Raj. We take pride in the names of those great revolutionaries of India who dedicated themselves to the sole purpose of overthrowing the British Raj. But the name of Rash Behari Bose slips through our mind and he remains one of the unsung heroes of the freedom struggle of India.

Rash Behari Bose
Rash Behari Bose. Wikimedia

The contribution of Rash Behari Bose in India’s struggle for freedom is a notable one. That makes him a legendary revolutionary and therefore snippets from his life and work, deserve a mention to rekindle the memory of “fiery” Behari in the fleeting mind of the Indians.

Childhood and Youth

Born on 25th May in Burdwan district of rural Bengal in the year 1886, Bose was brought up and completed his education in Chandannagar, the town that was under French rule during that period. Since his childhood, Bose had been a stubborn child with a bit of temper, which fuelled his revolutionary instincts at a tender age. Bose, still young, was implicated in Alipore Bomb Case around 1908; after which he went to Dehradun in North India and joined the Forest Research Institute as a head clerk. In spite of working for the British government, the fire of a revolutionist in him was alive and burning, which made him get in touch with the revolutionaries of the Jugantar movement secretly.

Failed Attempt of Assassination

The imperial capital of New Delhi was inaugurated in the year 1912. The celebrations were interrupted by an attempt of assassinating Lord Charles Hardinge- the then Viceroy of India. In an attempt to showcase his disapproval against the British, Bose had participated and actively involved himself in the bombing. After its failure, most of the revolutionaries were convicted and executed. Bose somehow managed to escape undamaged.

Life in Hiding and the episode of the Ghadar Uprising

After the failed attempt of assassination, Rash Behari had to remain hidden. He was even declared ‘wanted’ by the British Government. Later on, Bose participated in the Ghadar revolution around 1913-15 and became a prominent leader, attempting to incite a pan-India mutiny.

With the epic rise of the revolutionary activities, the British government launched a large-scale offensive with newer strategies. Many revolutionaries, nationalists, and national leaders were arrested and executed.

However, hunting down and capturing Bose was not a piece of cake due to his artful skills of concealing the master-bomber that he was. He went back to Dehradun to rejoin his position. But he had to come back to his hometown and remain underground for one year, fearing British captivity. Later, the Ghadar movement failed and the wrath of the British government led to the rise of inhuman British assault. Hiding in India became impossible and Bose sailed for Japan.

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Life in Japan and formation of IIL and Azad Hind Fauj

In Japan, Bose was able to establish strong contacts, ensuring his safety from the claws of the British. Later he got married to the daughter of the owner of Nakamuraya bakery and the couple birthed two children before the death of Bose’s wife.

After his wife’s demise, Bose devoted himself to active politics. He crafted the foundation of the IIL- Indian Independence League, with an objective to form the ‘Azad Hind Fauj.’ In the year 1943, on 5th July, Rash Behari handed over the remains of the IIL to Subhas Chandra Bose, making his younger namesake the President of the IIL and designating himself as the adviser.

Troops of the Indian National Army
Troops of the Indian National Army. Wikimedia

Honoring the legend

The government of Japan awarded Rash Behari the “Second Order of the Merit of the Rising Sun” before his demise on 21st January, 1945 in Tokyo. With great honor, the imperial coach was sent to carry his body. Long after the death of the legendary Rash Behari Bose, his remnants were brought to India by his daughter in 1959 and a tribute was paid to the noble son of our Nation by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was the president of India during that period.

We, the citizens of India, remain indebted to Rash Behari Bose and yet we allow the memory of his diversified contributions to our nation, slip through the mind and fade into oblivion. Such an honorable national icon deserves better and we must always pay the proper tributes to such a hero.

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Taraknath Das: A Bengali-Indian Revolutionary lost in the pages of history

During the later phase of his life, Das spent six years in India and founded the Vivekananda Society in Calcutta

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Representational Image (old Kolkata). Image source: debasisbhuniya.weebly.com
  • Taraknath Das was an anti-British Bengali Indian revolutionary and an internationalist scholar
  • He started ‘The Free Hindusthan’, the publication that advocated political, social, and religious reforms for India
  • In 1935, he and his wife instituted the Taraknath Das Foundation at Columbia University to encourage educational and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Asia

Born on June 15, 1884, in Majhipara, a village near Kolkata, Taraknath Das was an anti-British Bengali Indian revolutionary and an international scholar. Das completed his primary education in the village and took up the job of a tutor to help fund his high school education.

Soon after his admission to the Calcutta University, his father passed away. Das then attempted to complete his higher education by attending three different satellite schools but couldn’t succeed.

Later, Das travelled from village to village, mobilising the masses against the miserable economic, educational, and political condition of India. It was during that time he engaged himself with the Bengali Anusilan Samiti,a radical anti-colonial organisation. He later formed its branch in Dacca in 1905.

He also established several village schools for the poor section of the society during this time.

Following his brief stay in Japan, Das went to the U.S. on June 18,1906. He took up various occupations like that of a labourer on the railroads, in hospitals as a laundry boy and janitor among others to save money to attend the University of California. As a student in the University, Das cleared the United States Civil Service examination for “Hindu interpreter” and was appointed to the U.S. Immigration Service in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 5, 1907.

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It was during his stay in Vancouver that his revolutionary instincts surfaced once again. He started ‘The Free Hindusthan’, the publication, which advocated political, social, and religious reforms for India, reports Saada.org.

After matriculating from Norwich University in Vermont, he intended to train himself for armed rebellion in India. However, after a while, Das was suspended from Norwich University because of his anti-British stance. After which, he returned to Seattle in 1909 and associated himself with the Gadar Party, led by Lala Har Dayal. During that time, Das published various articles that supported the idea of violent resistance for freedom.

Out of his many published works, his “Open Letter to Count Leo Tolstoy in Reply to His ‘Letter to a Hindoo’ ” is the most acclaimed one. Critical of Tolstoy’s non-violent stand, he wrote, “Non-violence is an absolute Dogma…violence and benevolence are measured by the relative value of the actions and motives underlying them.”

Taraknath Das. Image Source: Namespedia.com
Taraknath Das. Image Source: Namespedia.com

Das completed his graduation from the University of Washington in Political Science. From there he went on to get an M.A. degree and a teaching certification before becoming a naturalised citizen of the U.S. in 1914.

In the same year, he secured admission as a research fellow at the University of California at Berkeley. His first book ‘ Is Japan a Menace to Asia?’ was published in 1917, while he was still teaching in Japan.

Still in abroad, he received a warrant for arrest for anti-British activities in the U.S. Following Hindu-German conspiracy trial, he was sentenced to twenty-two months in Leavenworth Penitentiary on April 30, 1918.

Even his life in prison could not stifle his spirit for the political uprising. From prison, he published the first issue of The Independent Hindustan (the official organ of Gadar Party) in September 1920.

He believed that “India’s fight for independence [was] the fight for world freedom against world imperialism”, and that without power over India, the British Empire would fall apart.

When it happened, he projected that India, China, Russia, and the Middle East countries would become the most powerful coalition globally.

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Das’ struggle did not end with the culmination of this imprisonment period. His citizenship was called off when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled naturalised citizens from India were not “white.”

Shortly thereafter he earned his first Ph.D., and married his long-time friend Mary Keatinge Morse, who was also a founding member of the N.A.A.C.P. and the National Women’s Party. Together they went for Europe tour and established the India Institute in Munich to encourage Indian students to attend German universities.

In 1935, he and his wife instituted the Taraknath Das Foundation at Columbia University to encourage educational and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Asia.

After receiving his citizenship back in 1946, Das became friends with the Watumull family in Hawaii, who gave him the opportunity to return to India in 1952 as a visiting professor of their foundation.

During the later phase of his life, Das spent six years in India and founded the Vivekananda Society in Calcutta.

He continued to speak up for the cause of the country’s freedom till the very end. He passed away on December 22, 1958, at the age of 74, briefly after returning to the United States.

-This article is prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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2 responses to “Taraknath Das: A Bengali-Indian Revolutionary lost in the pages of history”

  1. There were many people who fought for India against British and are not named in any book or history and he is one of them. No matter what but these people will always be remembered.

  2. Many heroes and revolutionaries are forgotten. The Indian freedom struggle was a gigantic movement with many movements with radical views. Each of them poured their heart and soul for India’s freedom .

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Rash Behari Bose: The man who handed over control of INA to Subhas Chandra Bose

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By Gaurav Sharma

When it comes to Indian revolutionaries launching hawkish attacks to overthrow the British Raj, most of us remember Subhas Chandra Bose like the back of our hand. However, mention of another Bose–Rash Behari–slips the through the pages of history like sand sifting through a gaping hole.

For this reason alone, memory of the fiery Behari as, and more than a revolutionary deserves to be rekindled in the fleeting mind of the public.

Born in 1886 in rural Bengal, Rash Behari was brought up in Chandannagar, a town then under French rule. Since his early days, Rash Behari was endowed with a proclivity towards revolution and was often described as a “short tempered and stubborn child”. As a youth, he applied for a job in the British army but was rejected on grounds of being “unmasculine,” a notion which was the natural predisposition of Britishers towards Bengalis at the time.

However, he later secured a job as the head clerk at the Forest Research Institute (FRI) in Dehradun. Although he was working for the British government, Behari was exuberating with anti-colonial ideas especially after coming in contact with revolutionaries such as Amarendra Chatterjee and Jatin Mukherjee, both leaders of the Jugantar movement.

The revolutionary contact was further fueled by his rendezvous with Niralamba Swami, the earliest disciple of Sri Aurobindo. After meeting other revolutionaries, Rash Behari delved full-fledged into the revolutionary arena, making adept use of his chemical material training at FRI to make crude bombs.

Enter the Dragon

In December 1912, the new imperial capital of New Delhi was inaugurated. Keeping an eagle eye at the proceedings, Rash Behari disrupted the celebrations by bombing the caparisoned elephant carrying Lord Hardinge. Hardinge survived the surprise attack but not without the flesh on his shoulders, back and head being torn in strips.

In the aftermath of the rebellious strike, Rash Behari’s aides–Basant Kumar Biswas, Amir Chand and Avadh Behari were convicted and executed. Rash Behari, however, managed to escape unscathed.

During the flood relief program in 1913, Rash Behari joined the Ghadar revolution and soon became one of its prominent leader that attempted to launch a pan-India mutiny.

 Masquerading Maestro

In the wake of the rapid rise in revolutionary activities, the British launched a large scale offensive against such mutinies. Countless nationalists were captured and executed subsequently.

Rash Behari, however, was not one to be easily hunted down. He took a train back to Dehradun and resumed his work at the FRI. Artfully concealing his identity as a master bomber, Rash Behari met Hardinge a few months later while organizing his reception as visiting dignitary.

However fearing British captivity, Rash Behari fled back to his home town of Chandannagar where he stayed underground for an year. The idea of the Ghadar movement to besiege the soldiers leftover from the mass transfer in Europe, (keeping in mind the First World War) failed to gather much steam and was eventually crushed under British onslaught.

As the British assaults began to escalate, hiding in India was no longer an option for Rash Behari. Soon he sailed to Japan and found shelter in various Pan-asian groups.

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Bose Of Nakamuraya

By now, Rash Behari had established strong contacts in Japan, friends who ensured his safe hiding away from predatory British eyes.

An active part of Behari’s concealment was the owner of Nakamuraya bakery, a place where he hid for several months. Developing a fondness for Behari, the owner married him off to his daughter in 1918. The couple birthed two children before the mother died of pneumonia in 1925.

During his stay, Rash Behari introduced the Indian Curry, a dish which would later become so popular among the Japanese that it would dethrone the custard buns that were hitherto the most advertised product.

After the tragic death of his wife, Rash Behari nosedived into active politics.

In 1942, after a British controlled garrison in Singapore was overtaken by the Japanese, many of the captured Indian soldiers formed an Indian National Army to fight alongside Japan to free their motherland.

Excited at the developments, Rash Behari moved to South-East Asia and at a formal announcement in Bangkok he was declared the chairman of India Independence League(IIL), the directing body of the INA.

Soon contact with Subhas Chandra Bose was established to supplement the leadership of INA. In 1943, the two namesakes came face to face with other and conversed in fluent Bengali. A month later Rash Behari handed over the remains of the INA to a younger, more active Subhas Chandra Bose, whom he thought of as his mirror image.

Fading into oblivion

On his death bed, Rash Behari was flooded with memories of the same Indian curry for which he is now fondly remembered (arguably more than Subhas Chandra Bose) in Japan, emphasizing it as the raison d’etre. The Japanese government went a step further and awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, recognising his distinguished contributions.

In India, we have forgotten ‘the other Bose’, choosing to keep a blind eye to his multifaceted contributions while popularizing already immortalized revolutionary icons such as Subhas Chandra Bose.

Rash Behari Bose deserves as much, if not more accolades.

2 responses to “Rash Behari Bose: The man who handed over control of INA to Subhas Chandra Bose”

  1. The Rashbehari Research Institute is a NGO-run
    history research centre located in
    Chandannagar, West Bengal (35 kms away from Kolkata) India. It was founded in 1975.. It
    is one of the prominent institutions in Bengal focussing on India’s
    Freedom Movement issues. It has set up an archive on the traces of
    the French, Japanese and Bangladeshi roots in Chandannagar during freedom
    movement.

    Rash Behari Bose
    – a name illuminated with the spirit of sacrifice when alive, immortal in the
    glory of death, unparallel in the history of the struggle for Freedom movement
    of India : a man, who dreamt, planned, decided, acted and at last succeeded in
    highlighting Asia’s liberation. Bose of Nakamuraya, the Pioneer of
    Asia for Asians’ Movement in the East, an astute diplomat, prolific writer,
    dynamic organizer, resourceful in his integrity, an indomitable general, an
    amiable friend, a shelter to the destitute, versatile in his genius, whose
    career was full of romance and thrill at home an in exile in Japan.

    The people of India have fondness for the people of Japan. We look
    forward to further cementing our ties with Japan. India
    and Japan
    have a strategic and global partnership. There are enormous potentialities for
    further enriching our relationship, deepening it and brightening it in the
    economic relations, security relations, in all areas there is enormous potential
    for widening and strengthening our relationship with Japan,

    For centuries, India and Japan
    have engaged in cultural exchanges, primarily as a result of Buddhism which
    spread indirectly from India
    to China and then to Japan. Japan and
    Indian freedom fighters both fought against western colonialism. The
    Japanese Government extensively supported the Indian National Army and the
    Indian Independence League headed by Rash Behari
    Bose during India’s
    fight for independence. It is necessary to correctly appraise the young
    generation of today of the story of Japan’s support . Very few people
    are aware that Rash Behari Bose was instrumental in introducing an authentic
    India curry to the Japanese.

    1915-2014 we
    are entering 100 years of his “ exile in Japan”. Our present generation
    should know his high idealism, his practical statesmanship untainted by
    counterfeit politics, rare courage and strong faith in India’s
    destiny, above all his patriotism. Rashbehari Basu (Bose of Nakamuraya)
    is one of those famous names which was on the lips of Indian people.www.chandernagorheritage.com