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Rash Behari Bose

(1886 – 1945) – (West Bengal)

Rash Behari Bose (Aged 59), born on May 25, 1886 in Village-Subaldaha, Burdwan, West Bengal, India. He was an Indian revolutionary leader who fought against the British Empire. He was one of the key organizers of the Ghadar Mutiny and later founded the First Indian National Army during World War II, which he handed over to Subhas Chandra Bose.

He received his early education under the supervision of his grandfather, Kalicharan Bose, at the village Pathsala, presently known as “Subaldaha Rashbehari Bose F.P School.” Bose was trained in Lathi Khela in his childhood primarily under the guidance of his grandfather and was the center of attention for all villagers. His nickname was Rasu, and he was a stubborn child loved by the villagers. It is rumored that he stayed in Subaldaha until he was 12 or 14 years old. He was inspired to join the revolutionary movement by listening to stories from his grandfather and teacher (Bakkeswar) at village Pathsala.

When his father, Binod Behari Bose, was stationed in the Hooghly district for a few years, Rashbehari Bose had to move to Chandernagar. There, he attended Dupleix College with his cousin and friend Shrish Chandra Ghosh and was inspired by the principal, Charu Chandra Roy, to join revolutionary politics. He then attended Morton School in Kolkata before pursuing degrees in medical sciences and engineering in France and Germany.

As he was interested in revolutionary activities from an early age, he left Bengal to avoid the Alipore bomb case trials in 1908. He worked as a head clerk at the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun, where he secretly got involved with the revolutionaries of Bengal through Amarendra Chatterjee of the Jugantar, led by Jatin Mukherjee (Bagha Jatin). He also came into contact with eminent revolutionary members of the Arya Samaj in the United Provinces (currently Uttar Pradesh) and Punjab.

After the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Lord Hardinge during a ceremonial procession in Delhi on December 23, 1912, Rash Behari had to go into hiding as he was hunted by the colonial police for his active participation in the failed assassination attempt. The bomb was made by Manindra Nath Nayak, and although Basanta Kumar Biswas attacked Lord Hardinge near the Red Fort, he missed the target. Rash Behari returned to Dehradun and organized a meeting of loyal citizens to condemn the attack on the Viceroy.

During flood relief work in Bengal in 1913, Lord Hardinge came into contact with Jatin Mukherjee, who he described in his book My Indian Years as a “real leader of men” and who “added a new impulse” to Rash Behari’s failing zeal. Rash Behari became extensively involved in the Gadar Revolution during World War I as one of its leading figures, which attempted to trigger a mutiny in India in February 1915. Although the revolution failed and most of the revolutionaries were arrested, Rash Behari managed to escape British intelligence and reached Japan in 1915.

In 1915, Bose fled to Japan under the alias Priyanath Thakur, a relative of famous Indian poet Rabindranath Thakur. He found shelter with various Pan-Asian groups, changing residences and identities often due to British pressure on the Japanese government for his extradition. He married the daughter of Nakamuraya bakery owners in Tokyo, who were noted Pan-Asian supporters, and became a Japanese citizen in 1923. Bose lived as a journalist and writer, and introduced Indian-style curry to Japan, which became quite popular despite being more expensive than the usual “British-style” curry. He became known as “Bose of Nakamuraya”.

Bose and A.M. Nair convinced the Japanese to support the Indian independence struggle, leading to the establishment of the Indian Independence League at a conference in Tokyo in March 1942. There, Bose proposed raising an army for Indian independence. The league held a second conference in Bangkok in June 1942, where they invited Subhas Chandra Bose to become its president and take command of the army.

Rash Behari Bose formed the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) as the military wing of the Indian National League and encouraged Indian prisoners of war to join the movement. He selected the flag for the Azad Hind movement and handed it over to Subhas Chandra Bose. Although he handed over the power, his organizational structure remained, and he built the Indian National Army. The Japanese Government honoured him with the Order of the Rising Sun (2nd grade) before his death from tuberculosis. He passed away by 21 January 1945.