Tarak Nath Das
Tarak Nath Das was born into a middle class family in 1884 in the 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. At the tender age of 16, Das was quick to impress the noted barrister P Mitter with his style while taking part in an essay-writing contest on the one burning and overarching theme of the time—patriotism. Mitter, himself a committed nationalist, happened to be judging the contest. Spotting the spark in the young man, Mitter had him recruited into his organization, Anushilan Samiti. Those days, the Samiti was a platform for revolutionaries who constantly dreamt about freeing their motherland from the British.
EARLY DAYS IN BENGAL AND ESCAPE
Since he had a way with words, Das’ writings in several platforms usually hit home the message with clarity and aroused plenty of passion. His written exhortations, though, vexed the British, and they kept a close watch on him. Well-wishers worried by his confrontationist ways, advised him to get away, lest he be arrested. He was advised to visit countries that were sympathetic with the cause of Indian independence, places where his voice would have more impact and meaning. Das was even advised to undergo military training, such that in future he could organize an armed revolution to overthrow the British. Das understood well that it was better to be safe, than sorry. India would benefit more if he remained free, rather than incarcerated. Dressed as a wandering beggar to escape attention, he left Bengal and found his first pit-stop at Madras. Speech after fiery speech later, he was hailed as the new Bipin Chandra Pal. Some even put him in the league of Swami Vivekananda for his ability to inspire. As his reputation grew, so did the risks of arrest. Once again, disguised, he set sail for Japan, but not before the British were somehow alerted. Instructions were issued to the British ambassador in Japan to seek his extradition upon his arrival. Getting wind of an impending arrest, Das hoodwinked port authorities, instead finding a way to reach the USA. In 1906, he was in Seattle, a city that is home today to giant software firms.