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Did Subas Chandra Bose Survive the Second World War?

COMMENT: When studying the history of the Second World War, it is important to remember that it took place during the Age of Empire–significant amounts of territory were still officially colonies of European nations.

Some anti-colonial activists turned to the Axis for help in ousting their colonial masters.

One of those was Subhas Chandra Bose, a former associate of Gandhi who advocated violent rebellion against the British Raj, finding fulfillment in the war, in which he allied with both the Third Reich and the Japanese. (His German forces eventually were incorporated into the Waffen SS.)

Suposedly killed in a plane crash at the end of the war, many suspected that he had faked his death in order to go underground.

If true, this raises the question of possible collaboration between Bose and his nephew and protege Sarkar. In 1955. Sarkar founded Ananda Marga, an international Yoga organization with a million plus followers around the world.

Some elements of the organization have been involved in violent incidents, chiefly against the West Bengali government and communist elements, as well as opposing Indira  Gandhi.

The group’s symbol involves a rising sun and a swastika. The swastika is an ancient hindu symbol. The rising sun, of course is a symbol of the Japanese empire. While the use of the symbols MAY be innocent, they might also indicate a degree of continuity between some elements of the Ananda Marga organization and the Axis with which Sarkar’s uncle was affiliated.

If Bose did indeed survive the war, it raises the question about his relationship to Sarkar and the Ananda Marga group. Might some elements have continued Bose’s armed ideological struggle?

Ananda Marga is discussed in AFA#7, at considerable length.

Subhas Chandra Bose: The Afterlife of India’s Fascist Leader” by Hugh Purcell; History Today: Volume 60; Issue 11.

EXCERPT: . . . On September 16th, 1985, in a dilapidated house in Faizabad, formerly the capital of Oudh province in India, a reclusive holy man known as Bhagwanji or Gumnami Baba (‘the saint with no name’) breathed his last. Locals had long suspected that he was none other than Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945), the Indian quasi-Fascist leader who in the 1930s had advocated a violent revolution against the British Empire to gain total independence for India.The Second World War had enabled him to practise what he preached and his Indian National Army had fought with the Japanese in Burma attempting to drive the British out of the subcontinent.

Although Netaji (Great Leader) Bose was reported killed in an air crash in August 1945, while trying to escape to the Soviet Union, many believed then and continue to believe now that, helped by his Japanese allies, he faked his death, reached Russia and returned to India many years later to lead the secret life of a hermit. Surprisingly for a poor sadhu (mystic) the ‘saint with no name’ left behind many trunks of possessions and in 1986, realising that these might solve the mystery once and for all, Bose’s niece Lalita obtained a high court order for an inventory to be made of their contents. Among the 2,673 items indexed, Lalita claimed she saw letters in her uncle’s handwriting and family photographs. Gumnami Baba’s belongings were re-packed in 23 boxes and sent to the District Treasury. . . .

. . . In his inquiry report, completed in 2006, Justice Mukherjee was categoric. He concluded: ‘Netaji Bose is dead [a safe bet as he would have been 109]. He did not die in the plane crash as alleged and the ashes in the Japanese temple in Tokyo [maintained by the Indian government since 1945] are not of Netaji.’ He was more narrowly legalistic about the Faizabad connection:

In the absence of any clinching evidence to prove that Bhagwanji/Gumnami Baba was Netaji the question whether he died in Faizabad on September 16th,1985, as testified by some of the witnesses, need not be answered.

Nevertheless, caught off guard in a TV interview in January 2010, Mukherjee can clearly be heard saying that he thinks Bhagwanji and Bose may well be the same person. . . .

. . . When the story of Bose’s death in 1945 reached Viceroy Wavell he said: ‘I suspect it very much. It is just what should be given out if he meant to go “underground”.’ In 1946 Gandhi claimed that ‘inner voices’ were telling him ‘Subhas is still alive and biding his time somewhere’. Bose certainly had form as an escaper. He spent his life moving easily, sometimes secretly, from country to country. In 1941 he escaped from British house arrest in Calcutta and reached Afghanistan from where, aided by the Italian ambassador and disguised as an Italian businessman ‘Orlando Mazzota’, he travelled up through central Asia to Moscow and from there to Berlin. Soon Britons and Indians could hear his propaganda broadcasts stirring up revolt against the British Empire and boasting about his Indian Legion, a body of soldiers trained by and intended to fight alongside the German Wehrmacht.

In 1943, discouraged by Hitler’s lacklustre support for Indian independence and aware that the theatre of war where he needed to pit his troops was now the Far East, he travelled half-way round the world under water by first German and then Japanese submarine to Japan. Admired there, he received official support and set up his 50,000-strong Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army (INA), recruited largely from Indian soldiers of the British Empire Army who had been captured by the Japanese in their successful offensive of 1942. . . .


2 comments for “Did Subas Chandra Bose Survive the Second World War?”

  1. […] Did Subas Chandra Bose Survive the Second World War? […]

    Posted by Miscellaneous articles for – Articles divers pour 02-26-2012 | Lys-d'Or | February 26, 2012, 7:28 pm
  2. Hi,
    Find out how the Japanese ate thousands of INA soldiers for food.
    Find out where Bose was hiding in India.
    Capt ajit vadakayil

    Posted by ajit vadakayil | September 2, 2012, 6:25 am

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