Rashbehari Bose’s second war from East Asia: Battleground Japan and Singapore 

DailyBiteMar 29, 2016 | 18:31

Rashbehari Bose’s second war from East Asia: Battleground Japan and Singapore 


In our previous article, we have elaborated Rashbehari Bose's first major attempt to oust British power from Indian soil, which is now officially known as the "Hindu German Conspiracy" [8]. The Hindu German Conspiracy collapsed and many of the revolutionaries were caught in the British net, subjected to horrific punishment and expiated their devotion to the country on the gallows and languishing in various prisons, unheard and largely ignored by the country and the political leaders of the freedom movement. The best of the revolutionaries – Kartar Singh, Pingle, Abodbihari, et al, had been caught and/or killed. The conspiracy itself was a failure, if we analyse it from the perspective of final results. Only the shell of the original organisation that initiated the Hindu German conspiracy had survived. Out of this wreck, it fell to the survivors among the revolutionaries, to salvage what they could, rebuild their organisation and return to fight another day. And Rashbehari Bose, one of the chief initiators of the Hindu German conspiracy had escaped unscathed.


How, out of the disaster of the Hindu-German Conspiracy, Rashbehari fashioned the recovery of the revolutionaries and laid the foundation stones of the Indian Independence League and the glorious Azad Hind Fauj of Subhas Bose, is the major focus of this series of articles. Eventually the Azad Hind Fauj played the most significant role in weakening the British administrative hold on India, as was accepted by the erstwhile British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. In this piece, we shall attempt to chronicle Rashbehari Bose's second round of struggle from the soils of Japan.

We now start chronicling the life of Rashbehari Bose from the moment the Hindu German conspiracy failed and the best of the revolutionaries were taken into the British net. We narrate the saga of his daring escape to Japan in the guise of a relative of the famous poet, Rabindranath Tagore; of how Rashbehari succeeded in giving the British the slip and evading them, both in India and on the high seas, and eventually reaching Japan. We chronicle his travails on the shores of Japan, where he, a foreigner with no knowledge of the language, struggled to acquaint himself with the national situation. We chart his desperate attempts to send arms and ammunition to his colleagues in India, with the aid of other revolutionaries and revolutionary China. We shall narrate the story of Rashbehari as he was hunted by the Japanese police and government, which wanted to deport him to India as demanded by the British; how he hid from the Japanese police with the aid of several Japanese nationalists and pan Asian supporters like the redoubtable Mitsuru Toyama – the representative of the traditional Samurai in Japan; and the Soma family, which gave him shelter at significant peril to itself. Amidst such persistent persecution, which would wreck the nerves of ordinary mortals, as for example those in the Japanese family that gave him refuge, we find Rashbehari utilising his confinement in Tokyo ateliers to rapidly familiarise himself with Japanese language and culture. 

Rashbehari Bose in Japan.


In the sequels, we travel with Rashbehari as  he weds a Japanese lady, indeed the daughter of the family that hosted him, with the aid of the family itself and Mitsuru Toyama, and revisit the tale of his naturalisation in Japan. We outline his woes in the wake of the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, his financial woes and his desperation and how badly the country let him down. Rashbehari’s life has been reconstructed from his letters, which we reproduce.  Rashbehari’s writings reveal the solidarity, unity of purpose and strength of the bonds between Revolutionaries, which stands in stark contrast with the backbiting, the betrayal and scheming of the politicians, who often sold out the Revolutionaries for their personal political profit.  The betrayal of the Revolutionaries in the Gandhian era is one of the greatest tragedies that has remained unexamined in the history of the Freedom Movement in India. The neglect suffered by  other associates of Rashbehari is  no less heart-breaking; they expiated their patriotism in prisons, and suffered other unhappy fates, while they sacrificed everything they had to the nation.    We also narrate the personal tragedy of the death of his wife and his subsequent coming to terms with it. 


We narrate how Rashbehari tirelessly built up contacts in Japan, kept pushing the cause of Indian independence among the Japanese in every fashion he could, and kept himself abreast of the developments in India.  Rashbehari prepared as best as he could for the coming events, including attempting to anticipate the events to occur in India and elsewhere, so that the country would be best poised to strike to win freedom from the British when the opportunity arrived.  The saga of Rashbehari as he struggled in Japan against the British is the focus of this part of the sequel.  We also outline how research on Rashbehari has been woefully lacking and how his many writings remain untranslated into English, let alone Indian languages.

We conclude by describing Rashbehari’s crowning glory, his formation of the Indian National Army, which he handed over to Netaji Subhas Bose, before walking into his sunset.  Netaji would lead the INA to the Indian soil, an act that would eventually liberate the cherished motherland of our protagonist in exile. The exile would however not live to see India free, perhaps thankfully so, as free India would neglect his legacy and desert his nearest kin to penury, with charity providing occasional meager respite. Our country has indeed requited evil for good and neglect for devotion in the case of these revolutionaries.

Section A: The Voyage from Japan to India [Rashbehari’s memoirs pp. 8-29, [1]]

Rashbehari decided to leave India in the disguise of Raja PN Tagore, a hypothetical relative of poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was setting sail to Japan to make the arrangements for the poet’s impending visit, which was reported in the newspapers. Rashbehari’s close revolutionary comrade, Sachindranath Sanyal, bought him a steamer ticket from Kolkata to Kobe. Another revolutionary colleague, Girijababu aka Narendranath Dutta/Choudhury, bought him two European suits p. 8 [1]. Rashbehari’s trip to Japan cost about thousand rupees, which was provided by the Dhaka revolutionary group p. 141, [4]. In a room on the second floor above the Dharmatala Post Office, Rashbehari met some of his associates, viz., Sachindra, Damodar, Bibhuti, Pasupati, and exhorted them to vigorously continue the organisational work under the guidance of  Sachindranath and Girijababu p. 8, [1], p. 156, [2]. On the eve of his travel to Japan, dressed as PN Tagore, he went to the Police Commissioner at Calcutta to receive his identity card p. 140, [2]. On the morning of his departure, on May 12,1915, he took his leave of two other fellow revolutionaries, Jyotishchandra Sinha and Motilal Roy (he sent a letter to Motilal Roy through Jyotishchandra Sinha) p. 8 [1]. He had never stepped outside India before, except for one trip to Burma. He was despondent about leaving his family and friends for an unknown destination with unfamiliar populace, but it was bidding farewell to his motherland that saddened him even more. Yet, he had no choice; duty beckoned him. His emotions overwhelmingly demanded that he stay on with his friends, but he realised that to be his weakness and persisted with his plan pp. 8-9, [1].

Around 12 noon, putting on his attire the last time on Indian soil, Rashbehari sent for two horse-driven carriages; Girijababu occupied one, while he and Sachindranath Sanyal the other p. 9, [1]. Rashbehari had handed over to Sachindranath the loaded Mauser pistol that he always carried with him, even while he slept. While embarking on the carriage he saw that Sachindranath and Girijababu both carried their pistols with them, to protect him should his plans be disrupted (Rashbehari had mentioned  this incident in his memoirs to give his readers an insight into the affection, Sachindranath, who he referred to as Sachi, and Girijababu felt for him – the duo would any day endanger their own safety to protect him). Rashbehari tried to dissuaded them from accompanying him with arms, as if police got wind of their plans, two pistols won’t save him, he considered a single pistol to be more valuable than their lives (the Hindu German conspiracy failed because of lack of arms); he asked them to leave their pistols at a safe place. If they went without pistols, he might be arrested, but if his companions fired to save him, they would be arrested too. But his friends stubbornly insisted that they would be deserting him to death if they did not carry their pistols; Rashbehari had to give in eventually and his friends went armed pp. 9-10, [1].

But Rashbehari’s friends could not have agreed to accompany him without any arms as it was they who had persuaded him to leave India concerned about his safety. We quote from Sachindranath Sanyal’s memoirs (published in 1922): "Sick in this manner when I was bedridden, then a leader from East Bengal, Narendranath Dutta, aka Girija Babu, used to frequently visit me. Conferring with him, we had decided that now Rasuda can not be allowed to stay in India in any manner. It was enough, God had so far continued to save him in many ways. Now it would not be easy any more to keep him safe in India. Receiving blow after blow, our group was not able to settle down. Whenever our group would proceed towards enhancement, exactly at that time such a big blow would land on us that recovering from the blow would take some time. First recovering from the blow of Delhi conspiracy case took us a year, after that blow when we became strong enough to strike back with greater power exactly at that time again the Lahore conspiracy trial happened. This blow fully crippled us. This blow almost broke our Punjab and United Province groups. In Bengal different groups had to take blow after blow. In this situation keeping Rashbehari in India  did not seem reasonable, because unless the group is strong surviving against the schemes of the British was not possible in any way. That we could save Rasuda for so long,  it was entirely on the basis of the strength of our organisation. After the Delhi conspiracy trial an award of seven and half thousand was announced for getting Rasuda arrested, a year after that in the Lahore conspiracy trial the activities of Rasuda became public. As a result of that Punjab government announced an additional award of two and a half thousand rupees for getting him arrested, that is there was an award of ten thousand rupees in all for getting him arrested and after the Benares conspiracy trial the United Province Government increased the reward by two and a half thousand more. Then the total reward for getting him arrested had reached up to twelve and a half thousand. For these reasons we had concluded that this time Rasuda will need to be sent abroad. ….Initially Rasuda would not agree to the proposal of going abroad, he wanted to wait for a few more days; but in the end he could not deny our requests….The time in which Rashbehari went abroad that time a ferocious war was ongoing in Europe, and that time going abroad or returning home was no easy task. Other than this for some one in  Rashbehari’s circumstance moving from one place to another was no less dangerous. Of course at that time there would always be a loaded pistol with him, and some one or the other among us would be with him all the time.’’    pp. 129-131, [4].


Rashbehari has himself written that out of anxiety for his safety his friends like Srish Chandra Ghosh (his childhood friend) had believed even in 1914 that it was best for him to leave the country. The government was desperately trying to capture him, and had his picture displayed in every prominent train station announcing award for whoever would deliver him. But, on the evening in which the ship ticket was brought to him,  based on a sudden intuition, he told Srish that he would not go abroad then and tore off the ticket. Srish would naturally be worried for him, but knowing Rashbehari’s nature very well,  that it was futile  to try to persuade him once he had decided, Srish had seconded him. But, in 1915 Rashbehari knew that he had no choice but to go abroad pp. 4-5 [1].    

In the carriage, Rashbehari recalled his childhood, his youth, his parents, siblings, friends, playmates, and the pain of impending separation from them for indefinite period was unbearable. He wept profusely and hugged Sachin, telling him, he was leaving, Sachin should work with a lot of caution pp. 8-9, [1]. In his memoirs, Sachin Sanyal has nostalgically recalled his last moments with Rashbehari: "Rasuda used to love me a lot. On the road Rasuda pulled me very close to him and putting his hand on my shoulder began saying with a lot of affection: 'Brother, the pain that I am feeling in leaving my country, I would not be able to express, see, listen very carefully. Brother, after putting things in order in our country you must also come to me.' Those were my last words with him.’’  p. 130, [4]

Around 2pm, they reached Rashbehari’s steamer, Sanuki Maru, of Nippon Yusen Company, 7,500 tons (all Japanese ships had the suffix Maru those days; Sanuki was the name of a Japanese town). It was waiting at dock number 6 of Khiddirpore. Sachindranath disembarked Rashbehari’s carriage a few minutes before they reached the dock, Girijababu also returned his carriage, both waited at a little distance until Rashbehari embarked on his steamer safely. A while after he boarded the ship Rashbehari saw Sachindranath still waiting; he gesticulated asking Sachindranath to return, but Sachindranath gradually walked towards the gate, but continued to wait there. Rashbehari understood how worried Sachindranath was about his safety, but still repeat gesticulated asking him to leave pp. 9-11 [1]. That would be the last he would see either Sachindranath or Girijababu. Girijababu would shortly be arrested in the Benares conspiracy case and die in Agra jail in 1918 (Introduction, [1]). Sachindranath Sanyal would shortly be arrested too, but he would survive his first incarceration to continue his revolutionary attempts and correspond with Rashbehari in exile.    

Upon embarking, Rashbehari upgraded his ticket to first class with meals, from second class without meals, considering the expense that he would have to incur to purchase food. There were only three first class cabins, one of them was occupied by two Japanese, the other by a lady who performed at zoos, and the third by Rashbehari and a Muslim passenger from Surat who worked in an Indian-owned shop in Kobe p. 10, [1]. The Japanese purser asked Rashbehari if he was related to Rabindranath, and was delighted to hear in the affirmative and followed up with many questions about "Dr Tagore", which Rashbehari responded to adequately. Hearing that PN Tagore was a student traveling to study in a Japanese University, he volunteered information about Japanese education system. He concluded by saying that Japan was India’s friend and he would be happy to see her independent p. 11, [1]. Rashbehari’s ticket upgrade turned out to be providential as the medical doctor who was charged with examining the passengers before the ship could be permitted to leave, examined only those traveling in cheaper categories (and ordered some from the third class to disembark as they were suffering from infectious diseases). To Rashbehari’s consternation, two English policemen boarded the ship with ten Indian constables. Only one English policeman approached the first class cabins, Rashbehari pretended to read the English newspaper, unconcerned, in an easy-chair in the dining room, the captain and the purser welcomed the policeman with whiskey, shared the passenger list with him, and when asked, told him about PN Tagore’s "lineage". The policeman spared them of further ordeal, and focused on second and deck class passengers (most of whom were Sikhs). After a thorough grilling, he ordered ten Sikh passengers out of the ship and arrested two of them (Sikhs were prime suspects post the Ghadar conspiracy; Bengalis were racially profiled right from the start of the Indian revolutionary movement) pp. 11-12, [1].

The ship was supposed to leave at 11 pm. Rashbehari had dinner, changed into his Indian attire (dhoti) in his cabin, and slept off, tired from a long, anxious, day. He woke up exactly at 11 PM. He walked into the deck to see the ship disconnecting from the jetty. The ship started moving through the Ganga, towards the sea, Kolkata gradually dimmed into the darkness, he could only see her electric and gas lights. This is how he left his beloved motherland, and he could barely control his tears in the darkness of the deck pp. 12-13, [1]. He retired to his cabin. When he woke up he found the ship at a standstill. Did he dream the journey last night? He rushed to the deck, to find that the ship was standstill, but at Garden Rich, below Clive Mill, not at Khidderpore. The ship was waiting for the tide to turn high. The place was very near the home of his friend Ni (Rashbehari did not name him to protect him from police persecution; he only named the friends who were dead or had served their jail sentences). For a moment, he felt that he should not travel abroad, leaving his close friends behind like Ni; he had the urge to dive into the water and swim back ashore to Ni. But, right then, the ship whistled loud and started moving out. He stayed put considering the ship’s movement as an indication from God. An old memory flashed back to him – when he was in standard two of Morton school, a holy man had visited his neighbour. Hearing that the holy man could tell past and predict future, he had visited him with a classmate. The holy man had predicted that Rashbehari’s friend would have a short life span and Rashbehari would have to travel to a far off foreign land. His friend died of cholera within five months of the meeting. From that day, Rashbehari knew that he would have to travel abroad p. 13, [1].

Like other fellow passengers, the fugitive  suffered from intense sea-sickness during the trip, and obtained solace from reading the Gita pp. 14-15, [1]. He befriended the Sikhs and Pathans traveling in the deck class, he would go downstairs to talk to them. They were delighted to make his acquaintance as they could not otherwise communicate to the staff at the ship, not knowing any English. Rashbehari became their honorary manager and interpreter. The Pathans told him that they had met Maulana Shaukat Ali in Delhi and were also determined to fight for India’s independence even if they were to die in the process. They knew that the attempt for revolution had failed in Punjab. One of them even told the man they knew as PN Tagore that Rashbehari was then in Kabul. Shortly after Rashbehari made their acquaintance, he found some of them peering at his cabin through the window. They did not have the courage to approach the door of his cabin as they would have to pass through the first class dining hall to do so. Rashbehari  walked out and accompanied them to his cabin and persuaded them to sit on his chairs, which they did after some hesitation. They had brought him roti and dal they had cooked for him thinking that he may not have access to food of his choice in the ship. Rashbehari was deeply touched by this gesture from his acquaintances of different provinces who were practically strangers for him. Since that day, they fed him once a day. Rashbehari usually found deeper values in supposedly uneducated Indians as compared to English-speaking educated Indians pp. 15-16, [1].

It was an emotional moment for Rashbehari when Sanuki Maru passed by the Andamans, which was but a speck of light from the ship, because many freedom fighters, particularly those who took up arms, were rotting at Cellular Jail even as his ship passed by. Yet the revolutionary freedom fighters had done exactly what Garibaldi and Mazzini did in service of their country pp. 16-17, [1]. Then the ship reached Penang in current Malyasia. A doctor and a police staff member boarded the ship to examine the passengers, third class passengers were again the target, while the rest were spared p. 17, [1]. He saw two Bengali babus making an inventory of the goods uploaded to and downloaded from the ship. They were in their ethnic wear – the last time that he would see that dress on any one p. 19, [1]. A Bengali Muslim businessman boarded the ship at Penang. Rashbehari got a first hand account of Indian soldiers rebelling against the British in Singapore; many soldiers and civilians were killed and imprisoned in the mutiny, some fled the jails too. Subsequently, no Indian was allowed to disembark at Singapore without a permit, and police still maintained high vigilance there pp. 19-20 [1]. When the ship approached Singapore, Rashbehari was alarmed to observe a police-launch with a large contingent rushing towards them; the consternation was that if the contingent was sent anticipating the rebel. Rashbehari considered seeking refuge from the Japanese captain, after revealing his identity, by appealing to the famed Japanese chivalry; but then the captain wouldn’t have much leeway in English jurisdiction. It was however an instance of false alarm as the police contingent was not sent for Rashbehari, they merely asked for his finger print; he obliged after some persuasion and post initial refusal on the ground that even the Viceroy knew his family. The police force gave every one permit to visit Singapore except 12 Sikhs traveling in the third class. Rashbehari had the captain intervene on their behalf but to no avail pp. 20-21 [1].

Rashbehari went to tour the city along with a Japanese fellow traveler, who took pride in pointing out to him the Japanese warship that was then guarding Singapore. The humiliation of slavery was then reinforced in Rashbehari’s psyche – tears rolled down his cheeks realising that India did not have a single warship of her own due to 160 years of subjection to imperial rule. Even worse, cowardice and Anglophilia were widely prevalent, particularly among the English-speaking educated community. They frequently resort to phraseology like "British justice and fair play", "Un British rule", etc., without pondering on whether justice can be the monopoly of any one nation, and the history of the last 160 years has revealed that British claim on these virtues do not have a leg to stand on p. 23, [1].

Once the ship reached Hong Kong, a police officer embarked to examine the passengers to decide who may be permitted to disembark. He thoroughly grilled the passengers of the second and third class, while sparing those in the first. Rashbehari attributed the valuation that gave precedence to wealth over knowledge, intelligence and strength, to Capitalism. Every civilisation starts with the Brahmin era, Brahmins subsequently lose their power to Ksatriyas, who in turn lose to merchants which was the age of Capitalism and industrial revolution. Rashbehari believed that Capitalism would be succeeded by Communism, the age of the shudras or the labouring classes. None of the previous ages, including capitalism ushered in peace, neither would Communism. Peace and stability would arrive after Communism ends pp. 23-24, [1].

At Hong Kong, Rashbehari was told that every Indian would need a permit to depart from there. He decided to apply for a permit at a police station, assuming the risks involved, given his disguise. The Englishman managing the office was duly impressed by Rashbehari’s immaculate English etiquette. He initially asked him to return the next day to receive his permit from his supervisor; to this Rashbehari replied that his ship was scheduled for departure that morning. He was immediately issued a permit in the name of Preo Nath Tagore, this is the first time he used the full-form of his chosen pseudonym. At the same time the request for permit placed by a man from Multan was summarily declined pp. 25-26, [1].

On his way back to the ship, Rashbehari made the acquaintance of a Sikh police constable (Zamadaar), and learned of his strong urge for independence despite his being in British service. He assured Rashbehari with fervor that 80 per cent amongst them were willing to commit their lives for attaining independence; they needed a leader. The Indian soldiers and policemen even wanted to drive the British away from Hong Kong so as to deliver it to the Chinese. Touching him with affection, Rashbehari advised him to wait for an appropriate opportunity rather than act in haste. He walked with him to the ship, and offered to bring Rashbehari a cooked meal in his ship if he could not join him for dinner at his home. Rashbehari could dissuade him after substantial effort.  They met as strangers and parted embracing each other as brothers. The conversation cheered Rashbehari up. His ship would be out of British jurisdiction as soon as it left Hong Kong. It was a night of nostalgia, it was a night of anxiety for the rebel – he would be safe in eight hours – yet he was entering an uncertain future to pursue his mission in a country where he knew no one. Still, as soon as the ship left Hong Kong, he felt a sense of relief pp. 27-28, [1]. And, in five days, at 3pm on June 5,1915, Rashbehari Bose reached the port of Kobe pp. 28-29, [1].

Section B: The fugitive starts his exile in Japan 

No one came to receive Rashbehari at Kobe, no one was expected to either. A Japanese doctor in Rashbehari’s ship came to check on the man without a company. Rashbehari told him that he would like to stay at least a day in Kobe to see the town, and subsequently proceed to Tokyo. The doctor suggested that he stay at a Japanese hotel, rather than an international one, as the former was less expensive. Agents from about 5-6 Japanese hotels had already surrounded him. He decided on one after consulting the doctor, and handed over his suitcase to the agent. Rashbehari’s Pathan friends who were traveling in third class had nowhere to stay at either; they accompanied Rashbehari to share his room for a few hours and store their baggage there until they found their lodging. When the assorted company arrived at the Customs Office, the Customs Officer handed Rashbehari letters that had arrived from America for Tagore – the letters were obviously for the poet laureate Tagore who was scheduled to arrive in Japan shortly – Rashbehari handed them back pp. 29-30, [1]. Upon reaching his hotel, the similarities between Indian and Japanese customs mesmerised Rashbehari – the Japanese left their shoes outside their rooms, they sat on cushions on mats in their living rooms, the maids paid their respects (Pranaam) to the guests much like Indians. He and his Pathan friends had rice with curry for their dinner. The Pathans left for their hotel subsequently p. 30, [1].

On June 6, Rashbehari went around Kobe. On June 7, he and his Pathan friends went to procure three second-class train tickets to Tokyo. By then Rashbehari’s Japanese arsenal had a vocabulary of barely four-five words, which were miserably inadequate to communicate their travel needs to the booking clerk, no less due to his pronunciation. A large crowd had by then assembled around the three strange foreigners. From amongst them emerged a Japanese man dressed him in foreign attire, who asked them  in broken English to accompany him. Together they went to the Japanese tourist bureau, who are tasked with assisting foreigners with their travel needs. They spoke English and a couple of other European languages. They got the group their tickets, and gave them useful information about hotels at Tokyo and Kyoto. There Rashbehari received an English map, English time table and English travel guide gratis pp. 30-32, [1].

The group took the 10am train from Kobe and reached Kyoto at 1pm. After a short rest at a hotel, they went around the town. The next morning they were off to Tokyo in another train. The guards in the main mail trains and express trains all spoke English. Rashbehari had a long conversation on a variety of topics including politics with the guard at his train. The guard suggested that they disembark at Seemabashi that had more hotels than Tokyo pp. 32-33, [1]. When they reached Seemabashi, it was 11pm at night, and none in the group could speak Japanese. A police man approached them and volunteered to help – Rashbehari was habitually wary of police but availed of his offer. He accompanied them to a hotel whose front doors were closed by then, he had them opened and asked the owner to find a room for the owners. He wrote a few words in English and Japanese that they would need for their essentials. When Rashbehari sought to tip, the good Samaritan was visibly offended, he had merely intended to be of service to the inhabitants of the land of Buddha. He and all other inhabitants of Japan loved the inhabitants of the land of their God (Kami) as their brothers p. 34, [1]. The respect that he offered to the citizens of a colony deeply touched Rashbehari; this was the first time he got to know that there still existed nations that loved Indians -  later he got adequate proof of this. Yet, Rashbehari realised, that in the footsteps of their imperial masters and influenced by the English propaganda, many Europeanised Indians looked down upon the Japanese. The Americans called the Japanese "Japs" in order to undermine them, and the Japanese resented the abbreviation; yet the same was freely used even by editors of Indian newspapers. This, as also the fact that most of the Indians who were  living in Japan were alcoholics and sexually promiscuous, was undermining India’s reputation in Japan  pp. 34-35, [1].

Next day the trio went to search for an Indian, and with his assistance located a house where they could lodge at a monthly rent of 14 yens p. 35, [1]. Thus started a distinguished exile, and ended the first part of his memoirs.

Section C: The mission resumes in Tokyo 

Rashbehari never wrote the latter parts of his memoirs. Much later, during late 1942 to early 1943, in a written statement, he gave the following brief account of his activities until 1923: "It is about thirty years ago that I threw a bomb at the Viceroy and as I was an active member of the Lahore, Delhi, and Benares conspiracies, I had to leave my country to seek foreign help. With the aid of Germany I was able to send home two ships loads of arms and ammunitions but unfortunately they were confiscated before reaching India. What was the motive behind this all? Freedom of my country, which is very dear to me. I feel confident that everyone of you have the same love for the freedom of our fair land if not more. As for me I have forsaken everything – life, wealth, relatives and all other things which were dear to me for the sake of my country. The British offered thousands of rupees as a reward for my head. They succeeded in persuading the Japanese Government, through their ambassador to hand me over to them, and I was ordered by the Japanese Government to leave Japan within five days, but fortunately some of my Japanese friends concealed me in their house and there I lived in obscurity for seven years. Had the British been successful in taking me back to India I would have been killed long ago." (Our Struggle, Rashbehari Bose)  pp. 222-223 [5].  As we piece together the rest of his stay from the accounts left by other contemporary sources, we would see that in the above succinct account Rashbehari had revealed very little of his activities during this period. The journey through his memorable life would give us close insights into what makes for a revolutionary mind, as also occasional peeks into the civilisational values of an ancient society that remarkably closely resembles ours.

Rashbehari’s immediate activities in Japan can be understood once we review the motivation that formed the basis of his decision to flee to Japan. He has written in his memoirs: "There were two reasons. One was that – from my experience I have seen that revolution would not be possible only with Indian soldiers. We would not be able to bring about a successful revolution, unless civilians receive sufficient arms and ammunitions. In Lahore, if we (that is the civil population) had sufficient amount of arms and ammunitions, then even when government captured the soldiers of our group, we civilians could have started the revolution. We had manpower and disciplined organization, but not arms. As to arms, we had depended on the Indian soldiers. Thus when they were captured, we could not do anything. In future for being able to strike even if we do not receive direct assistance from the soldiers, it is essential to bring arms and ammunition from abroad. I had the wish that before the second attempt I would have the entire country covered with small arms. Towards that goal I decided to travel abroad.

The second goal was to arrange for funds. Until then I had felt that it was impossible to generate funds for revolution through larceny and robberies. Other than a few, no wealthy man would donate for our work. So we need to arrange for funds from abroad. With these two goals in my mind, I had decided to travel abroad.

A question may arise that why would foreigners give us arms and funds? The answer for this question is that, they would help us in their own interest. During the war (world war), did the Germans not give the Indians money and arms? The most interesting part of international relations is that those who are friends today may become mortal enemies tomorrow, and their every step and conduct is based on interest. Few years back, England counted Germany among its mortal enemies, today the same England is impatient to befriend Germany. We need to remember that England has many enemies and they are keen to see it fall. So would it be surprising if they would help India ?" p. 5, [1]    

Sachindranath Sanyal, had independently corroborated: "That time (during the Hindu-German conspiracy) if Indians had adequate arms and ammunitions, no one could have stopped the revolution despite the betrayal (of the Indian soldiers they had enlisted and backing out of the rest due to subsequent repressive measures adopted by the British Government)" p. 90, [4]. Sachindranath has continued: "So far, we had completely ignored one direction. So far, we used to think that a lot more time would elapse before the start of a revolution, so we had not thus far made special arrangements for bringing adequate arms and ammunitions from abroad. But this time watching the condition in the country we had understood that if we had adequate arms and ammunitions not much time would be required to start a revolution. So this time a decision was made to make a fresh attempt for a revolution sending Rasuda (Rashbehari Bose) abroad. Even Rasuda said before leaving the country, 'This time every young man and woman of India would have to be armed, after that we will see how the British continue to rule over India.’ It was decided that right after Rasuda went abroad first thing he would send us enough mouser pistols and bullets and after that he would return once he has arranged  for sending enough arms and ammunition for  revolution. Our thought was that, what type of arms and ammunition would arrive in India, and what kind of elaborate arrangements need to be made for revolution, all these would be decided in consultation with appropriate individuals knowledgeable about military" p. 130 [4].

So, once Rashbehari reached Japan, he got started in his mission in earnest right from the word go.

Section D: Two rebels meet in Tokyo

In July, 1915,  Rashbehari came into contact with Dr Bhagawan Singh Gyani (Preetam), a leading luminary of the Ghadar Party, who was elected its president in 1914. In Dr Singh’s own words: "I was well known throughout South Asia as well as in Japan and China. Twice while at Hong Kong, once in 1911 and again in 1912, I had been arrested for preaching sedition and more recently my enforced deportation from Canada in November of 1913 had been internationally publicised.’’ p. 516, [5]. Dr Singh has thus described his then stay in Japan: "My being in Japan at this time was in the official capacity of Commander of the Revolutionary Forces in the Far East. Already as such I had an army of over 1,000 brave and patriotic men and women, many of whom have been sent to India on separate and difficult missions, as well as being a President and a Commissioner of the Gadar Party. I was openly advocating rebellion. In August 1914 we had published a "Declaration of War" against the English in the Hindustan Gadar, for we saw India’s opportunity of freedom, while she was engaged in a death struggle with Germany. Actually I was waiting to hear from the German Consul General at Shanghai." pp. 516-517 , [5].

Dr Singh has left a riveting account of his meeting with Rashbehari: "We had the good fortune of meeting and knowing each other in July on 1915 at Yokohama, Japan. It was an unexpected and unplanned occasion for both of us. We were individually invited to an evening social given by Sindhi merchants of that city. There were eight or nine Indian firms of Sindhi Seths in the silk export and import business locating in Japan at that time. I had met most of them during my three years’ stay as Granthi of Central Gurdwara at Hong Kong from 1910 to 1913, and many had heard my lectures. Some were even members of the Executive Committee of the Sikh Temple. Most of our countrymen going to Central, North and South Americas, the Philippines, Japan China had to pass through Hong Kong and while waiting for their transportation stayed at the Temple. My activities were known to them. ….

I was generally known under my name, Bhai Bhagawan Singh. But at this particular time, being favoured by a constant Japanese-secret-police-escort at the request of the British Embassy, I had adopted the name of 'Jaimal, silk merchant of Kobe’ and was thus introduced that evening to one 'Mr Thakur’, from Bengal, a young medical student proceeding to the United States of America to continue his studies. Once dinner over, we formed separate groups and our young medical student gravitated to ours. I was both interested and curious about him; interested, because he, being a student, might be able to give me  the current information of what was going on inside India. I was hungry for first-hand news. Already, seven years had elapsed since my enforced departure from India. Curious, because strangely enough, he was wearing both gloves and socks.

The conversation centered upon international affairs….

Sindhi merchants though sympathetic to the cause and willing to help anonymously in the freedom of our country, dared not express our opinion openly, but our young student, so recently from India, did not hesitate to participate in the conversation. At parting time, he asked who I was and what I was doing in Japan. I told him that my name was Jaimal and that I was a silk-merchant, whereupon he remarked: "If all our merchants were as well-informed and patriotic, India would not remain long subservient to British rule.’’ He then extended an invitation to me to dine with him the following evening, which I accepted, and we parted.

Next evening at the appointed time,  he greeted me with the warmth of a brother and almost immediately tea was served as is customary in Japan. As my host was pouring tea, I noticed a scar on the back of his left hand, and concluded that it was the reason he was wearing gloves the previous evening …..but why? Suddenly, like the flash of lightning an old recollection appeared before me. I found myself at Hong Kong in Central Gurudwara, reading an article in an Urdu daily newspaper of Lahore, the "Zimidar", edited by Moulana ZafarAli Khan, in which was given a full description of a young man by the name of Rash Behari Basu. He was suspected of throwing a bomb at Lord Hardinge in 1912, wounding the Viceroy and killing two of his bodyguards….

At this point I sensed that I was in the company of another fellow rebel and it took all the control I could muster not to betray my awareness of his identity….Respecting the code of revolutionary ethics, I remained silent about any discovery. Shortly after, dinner was announced, and as I proceeded to the table, I beheld another scar at the instep of his foot which also had been mentioned in the detailed description of the patriot. This completely confirmed the identity of my host. I was in the presence of none other than Shri Rashbehari Basu." ("Two Rebels Meet", by Bhagawan Singh Gyani (Preetam), pp. 517-518, [5]).

How did Rashbehari acquire these identifying marks? Kshitish Chandra Das has written: "Once at Benares while with Sachin Sanyal, he was examining bombs in the house of Dr Kali Prasanna Sanyal, one of the bombs exploded suddenly and he got a severe wound in his leg (probably he mostly wore socks to cover this scar as in when Dr Singh met him for the first time). Sachin Sanyal received a minor injury. Dr Sanyal was treating him in a separate house, his minor girl Ushangini nursed him, when a notification of Government reward for his arrest was noticed by Dr Sanyal at Dashashwamedh Ghat. Rashbehari was at once removed to a place at Harish Chandra Ghat carried as a dead man on a cot from Bangalitola for his safety. Once again while he was examining revolvers brought from Dacca at a mess at Badur Bagan, Calcutta, where his colleagues Shri Nalini Kishore Guha and others lived, suddenly due to mishandling of the trigger of a revolver a bullet burst forth and hurt his hand." pp. 583-584 [5].

Dr Singh continued: "Dinner formalities over, we settled down to an intimate discussion of national and international problems. I asked my host if he ever visited Punjab and if he had ever met revolutionaries from abroad who had returned to India. And in the spirit of mischief, I must confess, I enquired if he was familiar with the revolutionists of his own province, Bengal, especially Shri Rashbehari Basu of Calcutta. He disclosed intimate knowledge of the revolutionary movements of  both Punjab and Bengal, but he answered cautiously. He mentioned several members of the Ghadar party whom I had sent to India some months earlier, particularly Kartar Singh Saraba and VG Pingle. …..

Midnight came all too soon. We touched upon numerous problems of mutual interest and voiced our solutions. I had learned with grief, that India was far from ready for 'freedom'. Unity was lacking among our people and treacherous and cowardly elements were rampant in our society. Nationalism was the dream  of only a few, yet in spite of all, the revolutionary movement was taking root in India and was spreading. There was a feeling of understanding and cohesion between the various revolutionary elements in the country. I was sad to know that the 10,000 brave soldier-patriots we had sent from abroad to India would not succeed in their objective of 'freeing the country while an international conflict was going on’. My disappointment and grief were mitigated by the realisation that our share in awakening India was our wholehearted offering and contribution laid at the altar of  freedom of our Motherland. We had done what we could.

'I  know that you are not a silk merchant. Who are you?’ – asked my host,  as we are about to take leave of each other. 'Neither are you a student of medicine', I stated, and our eyes met smilingly. 'If you reveal your identity, I will do likewise’, I continued. 'You start first’, he immediately retorted. I told him my name. 'The same Bhai Bhagawan Singh, who was deported from Canada and is now the head of the Ghadar party!' he exclaimed. I nodded and found ourselves in a fast embrace. It was a moment of ecstasy! 

Holding me at arm’s length and scrutinising me from head to toe, he quizzically exclaimed! "I had pictured you a six-footer Punjabi be-turbaned and with long whiskers!’ And we both laughed when I told him that in the process I had become 'this’! He realised that I was aware of his identity and the next few moments were occupied with future plans and the resolve to communicate with each other daily, in spite of the close vigil kept upon my every move….

The telegram that I had been expecting from the German Consul General at Shanghai had arrived and upon consultation it was decided that Rashbehari Basu would undertake journey and delegate mission in my stead as I was too well-known in that part of the country and, besides, under such strict surveillance. So I gave him an introductory letter to the Consul General as well as all the cash I had and he left for Shanghai. What followed is another chapter of history. That was the last time we were to be together though we worked closely for some years after that." ("Two Rebels Meet", by Bhagawan Singh Gyani (Preetam), pp. 518-520, [5])

So, in 1915 itself Rashbehari went to Shanghai to plot the delivery of arms to India.

Section E: The ground zero moves to Singapore

In the second half of 1915, China was in the throes of political turmoil, there were revolutions in 1911 (led by Sun Yat-Sen, the founding father of the Republic of China) and in 1913. The Constitutional Republic of China was formed in 1912 with Sun Yat-Sen as its first president. Sun Yat-Sen lost power right away and formed the Chinese Revolutionary Party in 1914. As a result of this political turmoil, there were many British detectives posted in China p. 5, [3].  Nonetheless, Rashbehari was introduced to the German Consul in Shanghai as a "chief Indian revolutionary leader" p. 142, [2]. Note that Rashbehari was considered the leader of the revolutionaries of northern India p. 58, [4], and his fame as a revolutionary had spread in the USA due to the Delhi Conspiracy, even before the Hindu-German conspiracy in 1915 so much so that the Punjab revolutionaries arriving from USA had sent out word that they needed him very much for the Ghadar mutiny p. 41, [4]. A Japanese man Reverend Nikki Kimura, who was living in Chittagong of then East Bengal during the Delhi Conspiracy, (1912) has written about Rashbehari’s fame during the period: "Perhaps it was one year after my arrival at Chittagong when an accident occurred that one of revolutionists, named Rash Behari Bose attacked the Governor General of India at Delhi with bomb. The British authorities in India instantly started to search for the criminal, offering special prize to the secret informants for arrest of Bose. Posters for this purpose were observed everywhere in India. Thus I became acquainted with the name of Rashbehari Bose, as an Indian revolutionist.’’ p. 38, [5]    

Rashbehari remained in constant contact with the German consulate at Shanghai to smuggle small stocks of arms to India with the help of some German agents, eg, A Neilson. Neilson used to collect arms and purchase chemicals for making explosives, and four houses he occupied in Shanghai, as traced by the Shanghai police, were found to contain arms and explosives. Germany had ruled out large shipment of arms for the Indian revolutionaries owing to the failure of the Maverick and Henry S (March-July, 1915) to smuggle big cargo of arms into India. In Shanghai, he stayed at Neilson’s Yangtsepoo Road House, and with Neilson’s assistance engaged two Chinese to carry arms to Amarendra Nath Chatterjee in Bengal. pp. 1401-141 [2] "The Intelligence Branch Records of the Government of West Bengal show that on October 16, 1915 the Shanghai Municipal Police happened to arrest two Chinese suspects and found in their possession 129 pistols and 12000 rounds of ammunition, which the suspects declared had been made over to them by a local German firm to be packed and sent to Calcutta". It is further revealed by the same source that the said persons were to deliver the smuggled goods to two persons in Calcutta viz., Amarendra Nath Chatterjee of the "Sramajibi Samabaya" and Manmohon Bhattacharya of the Hindusthan Cooperative Bank. This fact is also referred to by the Sedition Committee Report (p. 85) which mentions that the two Chinese in possession of 129 automatic pistols and 20,830 rounds of ammunition 'concealed in the centre of bundles of planks' were arrested at Shanghai in October, 1915". pp. 141-142, [2]

Rashbehari sent Abani Nath Mukherjee to India to communicate closely guarded secrets to Rashbehari’s friends and colleagues. Bhagawan Singh had sent Abani to Shanghai for the mission. But, during his journey to India, Abani was arrested in Singapore in September, 1915, with the list of names Rashbehari had provided him noted in his diary.  Rashbehari had also arranged, with the German Consul’s help, for the despatch of two ship loads of arms to India, which were also confiscated while in transit p. 142, [2] (Our Struggle, Rashbehari Bose, p. 222, [5]).

Sachindranath Sanyal has narrated the following about Rashbehari’s plans during this period: "The events of this time are not fully known to me, in particular I did not know a lot of things about how the work was progressing abroad because I was caught two-three months after Rasuda went abroad. Still when Girija Babu of East Bengal was captured and brought to Kashi in November (1915), then I heard from him that Rasuda has sent word somewhere that he was soon returning to India. We had the understanding that he would return only after arranging for the delivery of adequate amount of arms and ammunition for continuing our revolution, so receiving his 'homecoming’ message, we inferred that he has made some good arrangements for delivering arms and ammunitions. But exactly at that time we learned from another reliable source that government has been fully apprised of the plan to deliver arms to India  and near the Indian coastline about two-three ships loaded with arms have been captured. Later read a lot about this in the Rowlatt committee report." pp. 141-142 [4]. So Rashbehari was able to send a few messages to his comrades in India.

Nonetheless, Sachindranath Sanyal has narrated the following sequence of events during the period, partly quoted from the book Banglai Biplabbad written by another revolutionary Nalinikishore Guha, who was more apprised of the developments during this period, and likely corroborated by some of the protagonists he met at Cellular. Rashbehari had arranged to send arms to India. A revolution was planned to start in India in December, 1915. A ship full of arms was supposed to arrive in the Andamans, free all prisoners there, and move on to attack Burma. Two other ships would bring arms directly to the Indian coast. A Chinese gentleman was arriving in India to assist the revolutionaries of Bengal with sixty-six thousand gilders (silver currency of Holland). He was intercepted in Singapore. In addition to currency, an address of a Bengali at Penang and two addresses in Calcutta were found on his person. A revolutionary called Abani Mukherjee was captured in Singapore. In his notebook, the addresses of Rashbehari in Shanghai, two Chinese in Shanghai, Motilal Roy in Chandernagore, Amar Singh, a Sikh engineer of Shyam (Thailand) were found, along with some other addresses of Kumilla, Dhaka and Calcutta. Search was conducted in Shanghai, and several revolvers and thousands of bullets were discovered from the two Chinese in Shanghai. It was initially arranged that Henry S would take the arms to Amar Singh in Thailand and some of the arms would be entrusted to Amar Singh. Amar Singh was sentenced to death by hanging (Rowlatt Committee sedition report mentions that Amar Singh was hanged), but like those for many other revolutionaries the sentence was commuted to life sentence at Cellular. Sachindranath Sanyal later met Amar Singh at Cellular Jail. p. 148, [4]

The sedition report issued by Lord Rowlatt after the war indeed corroborates the version Sachindranath Sanyal has reported: "In October 1915, the Shanghai Municipal Police arrested two Chinamen in possession of 129 automatic pistols and 20,830 rounds of ammunition which they had been instructed by a German named Nielsen to take to Calcutta concealed in the centre of bundles of planks. The address to which they were to be delivered was Amarendra Chatarji, Sramajibi  Samabaya, Calcutta. Amarendra was one of the conspirators who absconded to Chandernagore.

The address of Nielsen, namely, 32, Yahgtsepoo Road, which was Chinamen, appears in a notebook found on the person of Abani, the emissary to Japan mentioned in paragraph 5, when he was arrested at Singapore on his 'homeward voyage'. There is reason to believe that this or a similar plot was hatched in consultation with Rash Behari Basu, who was then living in Nielsen's house, for pistols which Rash Behari wished to send to India were obtained by a Chinaman from the MaiTah dispensary, 108, Chao Tung Road, which was one of Nielsen's addresses recorded in the notebook. Another revolutionary who lived in the same house was Abinash Ray. He had been concerned in Shanghai in German schemes for sending arms to India and asked Abani to give a message to Mati Lai Ray at Chandernagore saying everything was all right and they must devise some means by which Ray could be got safely into India. Abani's note-book contained the addresses of Mati Lai Ray and several other known revolutionaries of Chandernagore, Calcutta, Dacca and Comilla. Among other addresses was that of Amar Singh, engineer, Pakoh, Siam, the place in which it had been arranged that some of the arms on the Henry S should be concealed. Amar Singh was sentenced to death at Mandalay and hanged." p. 125, [6]

It has also been reported that Anushilan Samity in general, and Anukul Chakraborty (later known as Anukul Thakur) in particular used to occasionally send Rashbehari money for sending arms through different channels p. 590, [5].

Anyway, Rashbehari returned unsuccessful from Shanghai, yet again.

Section F: Back to Japan

Notwithstanding his repeated failures, Rashbehari did not give up, yet again. Returning to Japan, Rashbehari started cultivating highly placed acquaintances in Japan, many of whom, in due course  developed to intimate friendships, standing him and his cause in great stead. Dr Singh had introduced Rashbehari to Sun Yat-sen, then in exile in Japan, even before he had left for Shanghai. Dr Singh has written: "Not long after that I had an appointment with Dr Sun Yat-sen of China, at a famous resort about sixty miles from Tokyo, and decided to take Rashbehari Basu with me so that he could meet another famous revolutionist. It was in December of 1913 after my deportation from Canada that I had the honour of meeting Dr Sun Yat-sen, the first Provisional President of China. I had heard so much about him that it was a joy to know him. At that time Maulana Baraktullah was with him and later in January 1914 I was presented to Prince Toyama by Dr Sun Yat-sen, who was then staying with the Prince."("Two Rebels Meet", by Bhagawan Singh Gyani (Preetam), pp. 519-520, [5]). Incidentally, JG Ohsawa has written that Rashbehari met Sun Yat-sen, on his return from Singapore p. 5, [3], but Dr Singh’s account is a first-person one. We learn from Ohsawa that "intimate brotherhood was born between the two revolutionaries (Rashbehari and Sun Yat-sen) in exile’’ p. 5, [3]. Much later, on August 1, 1942, Rashbehari wrote about his interactions with Sun Yat-sen: "From my personal contact with Dr Sun Yat-sen, I know how firmly he believed that Asia could never be free unless the British was destroyed root and branch. It was also his firm belief that the British Empire could never be destroyed so long as India was under the British yoke’’ p. 185, [5]. Rashbehari may have contributed 20,000 francs for Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s return to China when he was asked to resume his activities there p. 589, [5]. Rashbehari’s interactions with Sun Yat-sen were in part driven by his reading of how the contemporary geopolitics could be utilised to attain India’s freedom through Asian solidarity. On January 16, 1923, he had translated an article appearing in the Tokyo Nichi Nichi, a leading daily in Japan, in his Notes from Japan in The Standard Bearer. The translation contained: "As it is, Japan participated in the war (World War I) on the side of the Allied Countries with the result that realisation of the Pan-Asiatic plan has been delayed indefinitely. As Japan has shown herself incapable of seizing the opportunity, it will be China that will be called upon to make Asia a place for Asiatics in the future’’ p. 367, [5]. So Rashbehari was hedging his bets on either China or Japan seeking to expel the Europeans from their Asian colonies, which would by default liberate India from British control – his equation with the father of the Chinese republic would come in handy should China play that role. 

Rashbehari had close interactions with Lala Lajpat Rai who was also in Japan during this time. The two met in Tokyo before Rashbehari left for Singapore. Dr Singh has written: "Meanwhile, at the hotel, a Japanese attendant had informed us that another compatriot of ours, by name of Mr L Rai had registered recently. Who could be this Mr L Rai, visiting Japan at this moment, we wondered when suddenly Rashbehari Basu exclaimed: "It is none other than our Lala Lajpat Rai’’. Immediately, we rushed to his room and there we met the famed leader, the Tiger of Punjab.’’ p. 520, [5]. Keshoram Sabarwal, who had worked as a secretary of Lala Lajpat Rai, and who had escaped to Japan and continued to live there to work with Rashbehari has left a slightly different account of how Rashbehari met Rai in Tokyo: "I met Rashbehari Bose for the first time in Tokyo in August 1915, although we had known each other through our mutual friend the late Shri Kedar Nath Sehgal. PN Thakur, as he was then called, had known of our political activities in Peshawar in the years 1912, 1913 and 1914, when we were all rounded up along with the late Pandit Jagat Ram Bharadwaj. It was love at first sight. To me he never revealed his identity, and yet we all worked together. We understood each other and often talked of fellow workers in the Punjab. He told me once how Kedar Nath Sehgal managed to remove him from one house to another, disguised as the husband of the Punjabi lady who actually was the wife of a very dear friend of Kedar Nathjee, thus frustrating the police attempt to lay their hands on him. Kedar Nathjee felt grateful when I told him, after my return to India in 1950, how appreciative Bose Babu was for that act of resourcefulness on his part. Rashbehari Bose was a great devotee of Shri Aurobindo, and steeped in the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita, but he was no less respectful to other leaders of India. I remember how humble he was when brought in contact with Lala Lajpat Rai who happened to be in Tokyo in those very days. He was introduced to Lalajee by the late Abani Mukherjee, who later became one of the founders of the Third Internationale. Lala Lajpat Rai, whom I had met in India in 1913, was not very sure that PN Thakur was really the world famous Rashbehari Bose. He came to call upon me one evening with Abani Mukherjee – in fact it was a surprise call. I had known that Lalajee was in Tokyo but failed to  meet him as I was planning to go to the United States to join the Ghadar Party, and was reluctant to compromise his position with that organization. Lalajee took me aside and I was able to convince him that PN Thakur was no other than Rashbehari Bose. From that moment on, there was a bond of comradeship between Rashbehari and Lalajee, notwithstanding a world of difference in their lines of action for the freedom of their common motherland’’  pp. 548-549, [5].   

Lala Lajpat Rai had in turn introduced Rashbehari to some eminent Japanese and Indians then present in Japan. Reverend Nikki Kimura, a Japanese who had studied Pali, Sanskrit and Hinayana Buddhism in Chittagong and in Sanskrit College of India, had written about this time: "So I returned to Japan at the end of March 1915 after a lapse of eight years to arrange for his (Rabindranath’s) trip. When I was making arrangements in Japan for poet Tagore, I happened to meet Mr Lajpat Rai in Tokyo, who was at that time a very famous Indian leader and a great nationalist. I heard from him that he visited Japan on his way home from America. I understood from his various talks that Mr Rashbehari Bose was in hiding in Tokyo after his flight to Japan from India. He gave me the address of Mr Bose’’ p. 39, [5]. Kamura has described his first meeting with Rashbehari in 1915 as follows: "This was the first time I had an intimate interview and had pleasant talks with Mr Rashbehari Bose. He was not only a respectable Indian gentleman, but also a man of patriotic spirit with fervent soul. I paid my highest respect to his sincerity and knew the high value of his true heart. After the interview, I became his intimate friend.’’ p. 40, [5]. Rashbehari also met Dr Syumei Ohkawa (a bitter critic of the British administration in India) p. 6. [3], who would shortly become the President of the Asiatic Society p. 11, [3]. Rashbehari also met  Herambalal Gupta, who was then the head of the American wing of the Ghadar Party, and had arrived in Japan from US to procure arms for the Indian independence movement. He had met Lala Lajpat Rai in US. As per Sabarwal, "Unfortunately, he (Herambalal) was not very appreciative of the bonds of love and affection that some unseen power had managed to forge between Lajpat Rai and Rashbehari Bose.’’   p. 549, [5]

Section G: Britain shows her clout – Rashbehari to be extradited

On November 27, 1915, along with Herambalal Gupta, Lala Lajpat Rai and Dr Syumei Ohkawa, Rashbehari organised a meeting at the famous Seiyoken hotel at Ueno Park, Tokyo  p. 6, [3] p. 550, [5], which was attended by large parts of Japanese gentry (top ranking politicians, editors, writers, publicmen) p. 550, [5]. The meeting, or rather the banquet with a thirteen-course dinner, was held on behalf of the Indian community, to celebrate the enthronement of the late Emperor Taisho, father of later Emperor Hirohito, and was to be presided over by Lala Lajpat Rai pp. 549-550 [5]. Sabarwal writes that Gupta reluctantly agreed to hold the banquet only because of the respect with which Rashbehari was then held pp. 549-550, [5]. Georges Ohsawa, a friend of Ohkawa, has written about the meeting: "The address of Lala Lajpat Rai moved all the Japanese invited. Every speaker attacked violently English cruelty in India." p. 6, [3]. Sabarwal has written: "The late Hugh Byas, an Englishman, who was then the editor of the American owned Japanese Advertisor, compared Lalajee to Lloyd George as an orator and a statesman in his report of that function which appeared in his paper next morning’’ p. 550, [5]. This organisation, as also the efforts in China, were remarkable, because they were conducted within six months of Rashbehari’s arrival in Japan, more so, as he had reached Japan practically penniless, without any acquaintance there and with a vocabulary of only four Japanese words.   

Ohsawa goes on to write: "Alarmed by this news (of the banquet and speeches) the British embassy requested the Foreign Minister of Japan for the deportation of all Indian revolutionaries in Japan. The Foreign minister succumbed. The slavery of Japanese Foreign Affairs to Western Powers and its cruelty and brutality to the Japanese nation are traditional. The Foreign Affairs Ministry was condemned by the nation. ….The Foreign Affairs Ministry at that time was most faithful to British Government as it is now to the USA. The next morning Lala Lajpat Rai escaped to the USA. Bose and Gupta were summoned to the police station and handed over a deportation order. They must go out of the country within five days." pp. 6-7, [3] Ashutosh Sabarwal believes that the Japanese government, then presided by Marquis Okuma had already agreed to deport Rashbehari Bose and Herambalal Gupta, but did not reveal their plans so as not to disrupt a function to be held to congratulate the Japanese emperor on the occasion of his enthronement p. 550, [5]. Sabarwal has also left an account of Lala Lajpat Rai’s escape: "Lala Lajpat Rai was then writing his Young India when one evening he received an invitation to dinner from his friend the late Dr Shiozawa, the then Dean of Waseda University. They met at the Nippon Club where Lalajee was advised to get out of Japan as early as he possibly could as the British were pressing the Japanese Government for his deportation as well. Dr Shiozawa was a personal friend of the prime minister; Lalajee therefore decided to pack up and leave for the United States. Rashbehari’s money was partly with me and partly with Lalajee. Rashbehari asked me to tell Lalajee to keep the money which, however Lalajee remitted to us later at our request. And it was Dr. Shiozawa who told Lala Lajpat Rai that the person who had revealed PN Thakur’s identity to the British was an Assamese Harijan who bore a Bengali name and at whose residence we all used to meet" pp. 551-552, [5].

Yet, in the words of  Ohsawa: "The two Indian youths did not succumb; they did not succumb for the sake of hundreds of millions. They appealed to all Japanese they knew and all the press and at last they were introduced by some body to Mr M Toyama (Mitsuru Toyama), the old leader of the group of traditional true Samurai" p. 7, [3]. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who Rashbehari had met before, was consulted, and he entrusted the duo of Rashbehari and Herambalal to the care of Mitsuru Toyama, a great political figure behind the scenes pp. 550-551 [5] (Recall that it was Sun Yat-Sen who had introduced Dr. Bhagawan Singh Gyani Preetam to Mitsuru Toyama as well pp. 519-520, [5]). Ohsawa writes, "The next day, the editorials of almost all Japanese press opened fire on Foreign Affairs. Many prominent politicians and lawyers did their best to save these two young Indians. But all efforts were in vain – they must go away. There was no eastward-bound steamer. So they would have to get on a west-bound steamer, that would call at Shanghai and they would be in the hands of the British police. The prefect of police Nisikubo declared that the two Indian deportees would be put on board the steamer leaving Yokohama, on December 2, 1915, by force if they did not obey this order." p. 7, [3]. Sabarwal shares more details: "There were only two ships leaving Japan within those five days, one for Vladivostok and the other for Shanghai. It was a trap well planned. They would have been arrested and handed over to the British by the Tsarist Government of Russia had they gone to Vladivostock. In Shanghai, they would have fallen into the hands of the British who had their own police and their own courts of law because they enjoyed extra-territoriality in those days in China." p. 550, [5] So, the deportation order was well synchronised with the timings of the ships so as to hand over Rashbehari directly to the British, i.e., in effect the British had secured an extradition order.

Section H: Japanese chivalry and Asian solidarity saves the day

Ohsawa wrote: "On December 1, Bose and Gupta having lost all hope, were sitting quietly in a small room and the fangs of the police were nearer and nearer…. At noon some pressmen came to see them. At that time, a car arrived at the entrance of their small room and a Japanese jumped out. He took both of them into the car and drove away swiftly."  p. 8 [3] The duo were driven to the home of Mr Mitsuru Toyama p. 9, [3]. In an article titled, 'Mitsuru Toyama – The Unseen Man of Japan', Rashbehari has later written in The Standard Bearer: "In 1915, when I reached the shores of Japan, the British government at once conveyed the news to the Japanese government, and asked for my extradition. At that critical juncture, it was this redoubtable lover of freedom, who gave me shelter in his house and saved my life. Still to this day, the great Toyama looks after the interests of Chinese and Indian revolutionaries, who flock to Japan. During the first political revolution in China, the late Dr Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the Chinese national movement, received valuable assistance from his silent ally, Mitsuru Toyama, who largely contributed to his success. Mr Toyama has dedicated his life to the emancipation of all Asiatic peoples. One of the highest aspirations of his heart is to see India, the holy birth place of the great Buddha, once more liberated from bondage. He still cherishes the idea of coming as a pilgrim, to pay homage to India, when she will be free.’’  p. 41 [1]

Mitsuru Toyama  arranged the refuge of Rashbehari and Herambalal at an atelier of a bakery named Nakamurya, near the Sinjiku station in Tokyo p. 9 [3]. We revert to an account left by Mrs Kokkoh Soma, the wife of the proprietor of Nakamurya, Mr Aizo Soma: "It was November 28, 1915. I have learned that a poor young Indian revolutionary was being deported by the police. He had been ordered to quit Japan within five days. A young revolutionary in exile to be deported and placed in the hands of the British government. That meant death.

In those days, I was always in our shop with my husband wrapping bread or receiving money or entertaining customers. My husband was very much depressed about this news by the Indian and became very anxious about the fate of the poor deportee. In the morning he caught hold of Mr Nakamura, one of our old customers, the then the editor of Niroku newspaper, and asked him about the fate of the deportee: "It is very regrettable that the Indian boy is obliged to go …..Isn’t it?’’ Yes, indeed, it is very regrettable….The foreign affairs minister’s slave mentality towards the British Embassy is a disgrace… But there is nothing to be done in spite of Mr Toyama’s sincere intention to save him…"

My husband was talking very eagerly with Mr Nakamura. But as I was occupied with many customers, I did not know what my husband proposed. My husband went out for some business.

But a few hours later, Mr Nakamura came in hot haste to see my husband again, and I learned for the first time what my husband had proposed to Mr Nakamura. But no one knew where he was. We rang up every number that we knew of.

Suddenly the bell rang. My husband was on phone. "It's you? Ah, we have been making search for you for hours and hours …..Where are you? You must come back at once. You had made a very serious proposition to Mr Nakamura this morning. He wants to see you at once."

"I am coming." His reply was cut off before he finished his last words.

He was then in a restaurant taking his late tiffin after having finished his routine business. But in the course of his tiffin he had suddenly recollected the conversation that he had in the morning with Mr Nakamura. So he stopped finishing his midday tiffin and rung up next day, the press of Tokyo announced the disappearance of Bose and his friend. We were no more simply readers of newspaper. We were involved in the big international affair. We have received Mr Bose and his friend secretly in the night.

I could not understand, why and how the proposition of my husband, a simple baker, was accepted by a great man like Mr Toyama.

At that time, Mr Toyama’s house with its spacious garden was in the centre of Tokyo, by the side of that of Prof Terao. Bose and his friend came to Mr Toyama’s, and after a while they were invited to Prof Terao’s through the garden. There they were in disguise: Bose put on Mr Toyama’s hat and Kimono (Japanese toga), and Gupta clad in the big overcoat of Mr Tukuda, you know, the big strong national leader of all militant movement, and accompanied by Mr Miyagawa crossed the back garden of Mr Terao’s house and went out by the back entrance seldom used and got in the car waiting for there. My husband went out by the porch and front gate of Mr Toyama’s house and made a detour towards the back entrance and joined them and came back home.

In front of Mr Toyama’s house, there was the car of the Prefecture of Police, as well as the car that had brought Mr Bose and his friend and several police in uniform and detectives in plain clothes waiting for the two deportees all the afternoon and till the evening. But neither Bose nor his friend came out.

Late in the evening, all the windows in Mr Toyama’s house were closed and the police did not wait more. They came into the porch and asked for the two deportees. A servant replied that they had gone away a few hours before. The police were in a panic. They mobilized their forces and surrounded Mr. Toyama’s big home and garden; but they were afraid to intrude into the house of the man everyone respected. They could not insist upon more. Though two pairs of shoes of the two deportees were still in the porch.

Mr Toyama in his reading room hearing of the hustle and noises outside said: ``This is very bad. If they were dismissed on this account, I must do something for them….’’

He paid the car waiting for Bose.

The car carrying Bose and his friends was one among the powerful cars in Tokyo at that time belonging to Dr Sugiyama. At that time there was no car that could overtake it.

It was nine in the evening. My shop was closing its doors but there were, as usual, still many customers to attend to. The four - including Mr Bose and his friend, both disguised, and two Japanese - arrived and came inside. But after a few minutes, the four went out and drove away again in the darkness of night. But this time the three of the four were my clerks and the other was Mr Tukuda.

Dr Sugiyama, the owner of the car, being anxious about Mr Bose and his friend asked his driver about them after coming home. He replied, "I carried Mr Tukuda and his three friends to Nakamurays near Sinziki Station and they made some shopping there and came again to Yotuya and there they went away excepting Mr Tukuda who said they should take a walk,….I took Mr Tukuda to his home.

Next day in the morning, my husband revealed a secret plan to all his personal servants. They had been with him some years. My husband said, "My friends I am going to risk a big danger perhaps the biggest in all my life. I am going to hide the two poor Indians doomed to deportation as revolutionaries in exile in my old atelier. This is a risky adventure for me; but I dare it as it is an international affair. We Japanese cannot let them die before our own eyes? ….

No objection was made by any one. The servants were rather very much pleased to know the decision…They replied respectively : ``Very well, Master, very well, Master, we shall help you and protect them at any risk even at the risk of our lives. If we were attacked, we will defend them by force till we die and during our fight you can remove them somewhere to save them. Yes, we assure you.

They were so passionate and bright." (From Bose and Toshiko, by Mrs Kokkoh Soma, pp. 27-30, [5])

Thus, began the exile of Rashbehari and Herambalal at the atelier of the Somas. 

Section I: Refuge in an atelier in Tokyo – the unmaking of a revolutionary

We learn from Ohsawa: "December 2, 1915 is the day fixed for the deportation of the two poor Indians. All papers of Tokyo announced the mysterious disappearance of the two Indians prominently. The prefect of police was thrown into a panic. The Foreign Affairs Secretariat was upset. The search for the Indians went on. Bose and Gupta hidden in the old Atelier of Nakamurya, passed weeks and weeks, months and months, under the stormy climate. The Foreign Affairs Department made a compromising proposal to Mr M Toyama – allowing voluntary departure of the Indians. The proposal was refused.’’ p. 10, [3]

Lives as absconders were trying for the fugitives, as also for the hosts. We draw from descriptions of Ohsawa and Kokkoh Soma. Ohsawa narrates: "But the two poor youngmen could not go out even a step from the hiding place. Their future was hopeless. Gupta became desperate. He could not stay any more in the old atelier with Bose who was very brave and calm. He proposed to escape from the atelier and go to USA. Bose tried to convince him of the hopelessness of the step in vain. One night Gupta disappeared by the window. If Gupta was caught by the police, Bose would be traced also. Toyama’s personnel were all mobilised to find him out before he was caught by police, but in vain. Days passed on. One morning, after four days Mr Ohkawa my friend, visited Mr M. Toyama and told him that Gupta was in his house. Gupta could not go far after escaping from Soma’s atelier. He went to a local Christian priest a few blocks away. Fortunately, he could find out his house and could pass a night there, but could not stay longer. He went then to Mr S Ohkawa whom he had met a few months before for the first time, in the street. Mr Ohkawa had given his name card to him and invited him to come once to see him in his house. My friend Ohkawa was then President of the Asiatic Society. At Mr Toyama’s request, Mr Ohkawa agreed to hide Gupta in his house at his own risk. Afterwards Gupta would escape to USA." p. 11 [3]. Sabarwal has mentioned that "Herambalal Gupta who had seen soft life in the United States was very much downcast and depressed (upon receiving the deportation order). Rashbehari, on the other hand, took his orders quite philosophically" p. 550, [5]. Herambalal Gupta would later become a British agent and pass on intelligence on Mahendra Pratap’s Kabul government. One wonders if it was after all the hardship in this atelier of the Soma’s that sowed the seeds of betrayal in Gupta’s mind.

Mrs Kokkoh Soma recalls the refugee as follows: "I appointed one of my maids to wait upon Bose. Fortunately, our family had many members and servants and there were always friends and clients in our stores as well as in our house. Foreigners were not seldom there. So we were never suspected if we purchased some food for foreigners.

Mr Bose felt surprised in my house and family. Our house was behind the stores. Ours was a big family – big, as we counted all my clerks and servants as members of our family. Bose must have been very uneasy feeling lonely and quite a stranger among the Japanese whose language he could not understand.

I was very happy to say that all my family-members collaborated with us in saving Bose. I could speak English a little. But I could not see Bose often and for  long time at one stretch as I had to attend to my stores all day long. I disappeared from time to time, our clients used to ask, "Where is Madame Kokkoh? Now a days we do not see her?" Or "Why does Madame Kokkoh disappear from time to time?" etc.

So I had to keep my usual position in the stores and to write slips in English to Mr Bose, my advice concerning changing weather or climate, or asking what he wanted to take in the evening and the next morning. But writing in English was unusual. I could not give such a memo slip to my boys or servant in the presence of so many clients during day time. It was extremely difficult to keep Mr Bose in close contact. I used to send such memos always in secret with caution. I made my servant cook their meal in the atelier  (From "Bose and Toshiko", by Mrs Kokkoh Soma, pp. 30-31, [5])."

This would also be the period during which Rashbehari would meet, Toshiko, the eldest daughter of the Soma household, who used to carry food for him to the atelier p. 551, [5].

Section J: The manhunt and its impact on the human targets

We resume the account of Mrs Soma: "According to newspapers, the investigation about the disappearance of the Indians was carried on by the police more and more strictly. Many big international persons were under investigation, or detained in the police office. The British Embassy was attacking the Foreign Affairs Ministry and blaming them for the disappearance of the Indians. Rumours were circulating in and from many directions unexpected.

One day Prof X of Waseda University came to our store and told my husband, "I know where Bose and his friend are being protected!" My husband was shocked very much but asked him where they were.

"Yes", said he, "I know, I am sure, they must be protected in the house of the President of our University."

My husband relaxed. Count Okuma being the founder President of the Indo-Japanese society was being suspected too. Every big important man was suspected.

Mr Nisikito, the Prefect of the Police pressed by the Foreign Minister, made all detectives investigate the clients of all butchers’ shops in Tokyo. No Indians take meat, but no one knew it at that time." (From "Bose and Toshiko", by Mrs Kokkoh Soma, pp. 31-32, [5]) .

By April, 1916, Mrs Soma was bedridden and had lost her baby out of severe mental stress arising out of the unusual situation at her home. She has written, "I was then sick in bed. I had fallen a victim of the anxiety and the fatigue of the great sorrow at having lost my baby.

I lost the baby two weeks after the arrival of Mr Bose. Under severe nervous strain my milk could not feed my baby enough and sufficiently. Since then my anxiety of being under the suspicion of the police detectives day in and day out and the grief of the mother at the death of my baby bore me down; and obliged me to keep in bed. But yet I had to get up and stand in the stores to protect our important guests from India." (From "Bose and Toshiko", by Mrs Kokkoh Soma, pp. 32-33, [5]).

Section K: A flicker of light at the end of the tunnel

In their zeal to locate Rashbehari, the British government, inadvertently rendered the exile somewhat easier for him. As Ohswa writes, "The British Embassy pressed the Department of Foreign Affairs in Japan more and more as they were pressed by the British Government engaged in searching. A British warship halted by fire a Japanese liner that was sailing for Hongkong and made an unlawful raid and took away seven Indian passengers. By this act of outrage, all Japanese citizens opened fire on the Foreign Affairs Ministry and requested it to take a strong and decisive attitude against the unlawful raid and they went to the British Ambassador to hand over the strong national protest On this request the Foreign Affairs Department withdrew the deportation order of the two Indians. It was in April, 1916 that Bose stepped out for the first time from the old atelier of the Nakamurya after four and a half months of secret retreat. During these four and a half months Bose had become the beloved of all members of Soma’s family and he studied the Japanese language by self-teaching. He was a linguist. His Japanese writing and speaking impressed all Japanese he met later deeply and moved them profoundly." pp. 11-12 [3] There exists a picture of him studying Japanese while in underground in Tokyo p. 25, [5]. Rashbehari mastered the Japanese language in four and a half months; p. 25, [5] -  indeed Yamamoto, ex-chief of Hikari Kikan, the Japanese liaison office, responsible for Japanese relations with the Azad Hind Government, who met Rashbehari first time in Singapore, April, 1943, has observed that "Mr Rashbehari could speak Japanese in its spirit. There are very few Japanese who could speak it like him." p. 64, [5]

Rashbehari had not only learned Japanese, but had accustomed himself to Japanese customs so as to bond closely with the Soma family, as we note from the following poignant account of his departure from the Soma home, recalled by Mrs Soma: "But after the unlawful and brutal raid of the British warship on the Japanese steamer sailing for Hong Kong to kidnap six poor innocent passengers, Japanese public opinion was roused against the British policy. The Foreign Affairs Ministry was obliged to change their policy too. Thus after four months and a half, the deportation order of the Police Prefecture was withdrawn. Mr Bose got freedom and could go out of the house one fine morning in April, 1916. I was then sick in bed. I was fallen victim of the anxiety and the fatigue the great sorrow at having lost my baby…. In the morning of Mr Bose’s departure, he came to my bedroom to say goodbye, as I could not go downstairs. But how noble, and beautiful, he was in a Japanese Kimono, the Samurai use for ceremonies that we had ordered specially for his honorable day. He was splendid. 'Dear Mother, I do not know how to thank you, you have lost your beloved baby to save me. Mother, I do not have words to express my deepest gratitude.' He called me 'mother', I could not speak. We wept hand in hand. I could not go down to see him off. But I followed with my eyes his car going away from my window, with tears in my eyes. I have lost my baby, but I got close contact with the spirit of Mother India." (From "Bose and Toshiko", by Mrs Kokkoh Soma, p. 33, [5]).

Section L: The mission impossible continues

Even after the extradition order was lifted, at every turn, Rashbehari stood in danger of either being kidnapped or killed by the British embassy, who had hired a private detective group, and had offered a prize for his capture pp. 12, 18, [3],  p. 143, [2]. As Oshwa notes, "But, Mr Toyoma always managed to outwit the people of the British Embassy and the detective group. ...Bose might have been assassinated any moment." pp. 12-13, [3] As Mrs Soma also writes, "It was well nigh impossible to protect Mr Bose from the brutal, unlawful and merciless hands of the British Embassy after his departure from our house unless some one stayed with him day and night. My husband accompanied him both disguised here and there. But he could not continue this for ever, and Mr Bose could not stay alone. He was still a stranger and it was very difficult to escape notice." (From "Bose and Toshiko", by Mrs Kokkoh Soma, p. 33, [5]).

Yet, Rashbehari did not go inactive. D Petrie, who served as intelligence officer of the government of India in the Far East, wrote in his report on the Indian revolutionary activities in the Far East in 1917: "Indeed, the only person of real importance who appears to be left is Rashbehari Bose alias PN Thakur, who, however, is living under aegis of the Japanese government, and who, by reason of the secrecy maintained as to his existence and the restrictions imposed upon his freedom of movement, may be almost regarded as no longer borne on the 'active list’. It is not, of course, implied that Bose is inactive, but the conditions imposed by his very method of existence are bound to detract greatly from his usefulness to the party….Towards the latter part of July, Bose disappeared completely from Tokyo, where his place of refuge had become known to the British authorities. Almost at the close of December 1917, Mr Davidson, His Majesty’s Vice-Consul at Yokohama, was able, after an exhaustive and most skillfully conducted inquiry, to rediscover him at Okitsu, a village in the vicinity of Katsura, a town on the East coast. Bose, after his discovery, almost immediately left for Tokyo, where he is believed to be concealed in the compound of the house of the Lord High Chamberlain to the Emperor, although it is possible that it is merely some retainer of this high official who is harbouring Bose without his master’s knowledge…. Intercepted letters to Bose show conclusively that he is still in touch with the heads of the conspiracy in America such as Narendra Bhattacharji and Ram Chand and that he is still devoting himself to revolutionary work, so far as the disabilities imposed by his position will permit." pp. 143-144, [2]. Rashbehari was also in touch with another revolutionary, Tarak Nath Das, while the latter was in Japan for four months in 1917. Petrie has written that Das looked up to Rashbehari "as some one greater than himself". "Both are said to have evolved a scheme for sinking of ships by means of explosives to be placed on board". But the scheme did not proceed far beyond the discussion stage." p. 144, [2]. In connection with the San Francisco trial of 1917-18, Tarak Nath Das’s room at 44, Portola Street, New York, was searched; the search yielded a holograph writing from Rashbehari Bose pp. 144-145, [2]. Rashbehari was also writing to Dr Chandra Kanta Chakravarty, a leader of the Hindu-German conspiracy p. 145, [2].

But ensuring the safety of the Indian revolutionary was becoming more challenging by the day for his Japanese protectors. As Ohsawa notes: "But it was difficult to keep Bose always in contact. Who can carry messages from Mr Toyoma? His personnel could not do it for obvious reasons. There must be someone of proved faithfulness, and very clever to give the slip to the detectives and suspicious unknown persons. Who could fulfill this most difficult work? That worried Mr Toyoma very much. …Bose might have been assassinated any moment. Soma thought one must be always with him as the pursuit of the British Embassy became pressing day by day. Mr. Toyoma could not solve this problem" pp. 12-13, [3]. As Mrs Soma also writes: "We were very anxious how to protect him against the British Embassy. We were at a loss to decide upon our course of action"; (From "Bose and Toshiko", by Mrs Kokkoh Soma, p. 33, [5]).

A creative solution was nonetheless discovered. We continue in the sequel. 


Appendix: Dramatis Personae - Sources of Information about Rashbehari Bose

Apart from his own writings, the main sources of information for this period of Rash Behari's life that we have come from four people: Sachindranath Sanyal, an eminent revolutionary; Mrs Kokkoh Soma, the mother-in-law of Rashbehari Bose; Bhagwan Singh Preetam, the head of the Ghadar (Mutiny) Party in US; and Mitsuru Toyama, the head of the Genyoshu Society of Japan. These four people have left records, from which we can reconstruct the life and times of Rashbehari Bose.

Sachindranath Sanyal:

Born in Benares in 1893 (publisher's note, [4]), Sachindranath Sanyal established there a revolutionary organisation called Anushilan Samiti  in 1909. He came in close touch with important Bengal revolutionaries like Pratul Chandra Ganguli and Rasbehari Bose. During the First World War, he, along with Girija Babu, the representative of Anushilan Samiti, became lieutenants of Rashbehari Bose, and planned for the overthrow of the British Government with the help of the army (Ghadar conspiracy). He went underground after it was exposed in February 1915, was arrested, and transported for life to Andaman in the Banaras conspiracy case. Despite best efforts, police could not find enough evidence to hang him in the Delhi conspiracy case (in which Master Amir Chand, Balmukund et al. were sentenced to be hanged) and gave him another life sentence p. 63, [9]. He was released in 1919-20 as part of the First World War victory celebrations of the British p. 64, [9]. He initially retired from active politics and wrote a memoir, Bandi Jeeban, which was published in 1922. The book depicted the hard struggle of the revolutionaries in and outside  prison, which many revolutionaries found inspirational p. 64, [9]. Subsequently, he resumed his revolutionary activities, and along with other revolutionaries, founded the Hindustan Republican Association, uniting two groups of revolutionaries functioning in UP p. 67, [9]. Fellow revolutionary, Manmathanath Gupta, has assessed him thus: "Sachindranath Sanyal was not only a good conspirator, but was also a scholar, writer and orator of no mean merit. He at once gave the amalgamated party a name, a constitution and a revolutionary status. His very name was a sure guarantee about the integrity of the party. The party was named Hindustan Republican Association. Its ultimate objective was the federated republic of the United states of India, but its immediate objective was the attainment of Indian independence by an armed and organised revolution" p. 67, [9]. 

Hindustan Republican Association would embark on multiple daring exploits throughout North India between 1925-1930 (Kakori train hold up, assassination of Saunders, dropping a bomb in Central Assembly, Delhi) and count among its ranks eminent revolutionaries as Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Chandrasekhar Azad, etc. Sachindranath was arrested by British in 1924 for delivering a seditious speech, and linked to the Kakori trial in 1925. He was sentenced again to Cellular jail, only revolutionary to be sent twice to Cellular. He was released in 1937. He was arrested again in 1939, at the start of the Second World War, on the charge that  he was conspiring with Japan to import arms to India to initiate an armed revolution. He was kept at the Dewli jail initially, where his health badly deteriorated due to contraction of Tuberculosis. He was transferred to Sultanpur jail, and to Gorakhpur jail in 1942 where he succumbed to TB on February 7, 1942 (publisher's note, [4]).    

Toyama Mitsuru:

Toyama Mitsuru was born in a poor Samurai family in 1855 in the city of Fukuoka, in Kyushu island. He was the founder of the Genyosha Nationalist Secret Society. An ultra-nationalist, he was famous for his veneration of the emperor and his divinity, and advocated the return to the values of the Samurai class, whom he saw as the ideal in virtue. Further, the Genyosha he founded was inspired by Pan Asianism, advocating the union or closer cooperation of Asia, with Japan taking the primary position as the unifier [7].  As a young man of eighteen, he fought in the Saga revolt of 1874, true to his Samurai spirits. Toyama Mitsuru, as has been mentioned in the article, gave refuge to Dr Sun Yat-Sen, who was forced to flee China after his failed revolution and take refuge in Japan.  Toyama Mitsuru and his group aided greatly in giving refuge to these Chinese nationalists. Similarly, he greatly advocated the independence of India from Japan and aided Indian Revolutionaries and nationalists to the best of his ability. Later on, he founded the Black Dragon Society. He analysed the Japanese situation in a very influential book on the three shu. After his secret societies were implicated in the assassination of several Liberal politicians, he was forced into retirement by the Japanese establishment, in the mid 1930s. After that, he lived till 1944 and died in his summer home at Gotemba.

Mrs Kokkoh Soma:

Mrs Kokkoh Soma was the wife of the Soma, a famous baker of Nakamurya. The Soma family offered Rashbehari refuge in their atelier, as has been mentioned earlier. The family comprised the Mr and Mrs Soma, a son named Yasuo, and a daughter named Tosiko. They sheltered Rashbehari and Herambalal Gupta for several months, while the duo faced threat of a deportation order. The strain of hosting Rashbehari and Herambalal Gupta became too much for Mrs Kokkoh Soma and she lost her baby, in the ensuing strain. However, the Soma family loved Rashbehari greatly, and later, Mrs Kokkoh Soma became the mother-in-law of Rashbehari Bose, after Rash Behari married the daughter of the Somas, and settled down in Japan. Mrs Soma and her daughter, Toshiko, can be seen, wearing a saree, draped Bengali style in a picture p. 27, [5]. We also see her in a picture with Rabindranath Tagore along with her husband, her daughter Toshiko, Rashbehari and the children of Rashbehari and Toshiko in Rashbehari’s residence in Tokyo p. 33, [5]. Mrs Soma was treated with great respect by Rashbehari Bose, who called her mother and she had probably the greatest insight into the personal life and feelings of Rashbehari. She wrote a book in Japanese on Rashbehari Bose after his death, we could not locate its English translation yet.

Gyani Bhagwan Singh Preetam:

Gyani Bhagwan Singh Preetam was the acknowledged leading figure among the revolutionaries of East Asia. He had travelled extensively in Philippines and Hong Kong, and was well acquainted with the revolutionary activities there. He had been deported, at various times, from Canada, and Hong Kong for his seditious speeches and revolutionary activities.

After the departure of Lala Hardayal from the US, there was a void in the leadership of the Ghadar party. This void was filled by Gyani Bhagwan Singh Preetam and Barkatullah, who arrived in May 1914.  Bhagwan Singh Preetam had travelled extensively in South East Asia, and was in contact with Indian Communities as far flung as Philippines and Japan. His arrival brought a closer contact between the Ghadarites and their allies and sympathisers in East Asia. pp. 61-62, [8].

In the aftermath of the failure of the Ghadar revolt, he fled to Japan. Bhagwan Singh Preetam came to Japan from Manila on July 11, 1915 to try and arrange shipments of arms to India. His meeting with Rashbehari has been described.  Bhagwan Singh, who had some prior engagements in Korea and Manchuria, sent Rashbehari and Abani Mukherjee to arrange the Shanghai Plot to send arms to India. 

He is also known for his nationalist poems that were published in the Hindustan Ghadar and later in the compilation Ghadar di Gunj p. 159, [8].


[1] Rashbeharir Atma-katha O dushprapya Rachana, edited by Amal Kumar Mitra

[2] Uma Mukherjee, "Two Great Indian Revolutionaries – Rash Behari Bose and Jyotindra Nath Mukherjee"

[3] JG Ohsawa, "The Two Great Indians in Japan"

[4] Sachindranath Sanyal, "Bandi Jeeban"

[5] Rashbehari Basu – His Struggle for India’s Independence, Editor in chief, Radhanath Rath, Editor Sabitri Prasanna Chatterjee, Biplabi Mahanayak Rashbehari Basu Smarak Samiti

[6] Lord Rowlatt, "Seditions Committee Report"

[7] "History of Genyosha" – written in Japanese, with exceprts by Peter Siuda, Masters thesis, University of Massachusets, Amherst.

[8] Jeck Joy, Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh, Dikgaj "The legend of Rashbehari Bose and the forgotten Hindu-German conspiracy" http://www.dailyo.in/politics/rashbehari-bose-hindu-muslim-riots-partition-1947-mahatma-gandhi-independence-hindu-german-conspiracy-ina/story/1/8230.html

[9] Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi's statement to the Press, 23/02/1946, Poona, http://www.gandhiserve.org/cwmg/VOL089.PDF 

[8] Arun C Bose, "Indian Revolutionaries Abroad: 1905-1922".

Last updated: March 29, 2016 | 18:31
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