What is the true identity of the monk in the picture?




By Anuj Dhar

Good heavens! Is it a ghostly apparition or what? What was a man long dead doing by the side of his recently deceased friend?

No other snippet of the Netaji mystery has traversed generational gaps like this one. They say that for old time's sake Subhas Bose had turned up to pay respects to Jawaharlal Nehru's body in New Delhi's Teen Murti Bhavan in May 1964. Well, about time Mission Netaji swiftly busted the long-standing myth that provoked critics to bracket the disbelievers in the Taipei plane crash theory with the crackpots who encountered Elvis Presley, the late King of the Rock.

The monk seen in the above image, taken from a movie reel, could not be Bose for he was Vira Dhammavara -- a venerable Cambodian Buddhist monk who lived in south Delhi for decades before passing away in the US only a couple of years back at the grand old age of 110. Dhammavara's inadvertent doppelganger act lasted barely for a second on camera, but it triggered a sensation so strong that it caused commotion in India for several years. How did the monk take it? Disciples say he was much amused.

Likeness aside, Dhammavara was short statured unlike Netaji, who, in case you did not know, was almost 5' 10". 

Take a closer look ...




And if you still won't take our word, check out this montage.




Now, if such a scenario could be replicated in Italy, what would the researchers there had done? I am sure they would have at least not behaved in so wimpish a manner like the lot in India did from 1950s onward as they added to the mess of mystery. The only instances of research into Bose's fate were attempts by a handful of individuals in their personal capacities. For the establishment, and those who gained from it, the matter was closed in the 1950s itself even as secret official reports keep coming in doubting the air crash theory. The government was forced by handful of Bose admirers to enact facades of inquiries that arrived at pre-determined conclusions.

It was only recently that the truth finally triumphed as a commission of inquiry appointed on court orders shot down the air crash theory and gave solid reasons to believe in the Russian angle. But then, the establishment went against it and rejected the commission's inquiry citing reasons that would not stand in any court of law, provided there are good lawyers are around and cynicism isn't. 

Maybe one can hazard a guess as to why the ambassador's tenor reeked of prejudices that can so clearly be attributed to some motivated individuals. For all we know, he was inspired by the world view of the organizers of his lecture -- the government-backed Netaji Research Bureau of former Congress party MP Krishna Bose and her Harvard Don son Sugata Bose. Mrs Bose is the wife of late Sisir Kumar Bose, Netaji's nephew who used to be a Congress party MLA. Some uncharitable things have been said about this section of the family. Suffice it would be to say that despite their influence, they represent only a small section of the Bose family that continues to hold the view that the truth about Subhas Chandra Bose's death must be settled in the national interest.