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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.)

Suphos­edly 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 Anan­daMarga, 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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