Taraknath Das was an anti-British Bengali Indian revolutionary and internationalist scholar. He was a pioneering immigrant in the west coast of North America. He was also a professor of political science at Columbia University
He was born in middle class family at Majupara, in the 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. Impressed by the exceptional quality of his writing, Judge P. Mitter asked his associate Satish Chandra Basu (founder of the Anushilan Samiti) to recruit Tarak.
In 1906, he met Bagha Jatin. In addition to Tarak, Shrish Chandra Sen, Satyendra Sen and Adhar Chandra Laskar: all the four were to leave for higher studies abroad. They were especially urged to create a climate of sympathy among people of the free Western countries in favour of India’s decision to win freedom.
Disguised as a monk under the name of Tarak Brahmachari, he left for Madras on a lecture tour. After that, he went to Japan to escape persecution by British authorities. After a brief stint in Japan, Das arrived in the U.S. on June 18, 1906.
He worked as a laborer on the railroads, in hospitals as a laundry boy and janitor until he saved up enough money to attend the University of California. He also worked as “Hindu interpreter” at U.S. Immigration Service in Vancouver, British Columbia. There he started The Free Hindusthan, the only publication of its kind in North America advocating freedom and political, social, and religious reform for India
With Panduranga Khankoje, Tarak founded the Indian Independence League. He also founded the Swadesh Sevak Home, a boarding school for the children of the Asian Indian immigrants in Millside, near New Westminster.
In March 1912 he worked with Lala hardayal and set up the Hindi Association of the Pacific Ocean, which provided the first basis for the Ghadar Party.
He soon received notice of a warrant for his arrest for “plotting to set on a foot a revolution to free India from British control” in the U.S. He turned himself in to the authorities and stood alongside sixteen others in the famous 1917 Hindu-German conspiracy trial. In 1918 he was sentenced to twenty-two months in Leavenworth federal prison.
After his release in 1924 he married his long-time friend Mary Keatinge Morse. With her, he went on an extended tour of Europe. There, he made Munich his headquarters for his activities.
After returning to US, he opened the resourceful Taraknath Das Foundation in 1935, to promote educational activities and to foster cultural relations between the US and Asian countries.
Tarak was among those who suffered emotionally from the Partition of India in 1947. After forty-six years in exile, he revisited his motherland in 1952.
He founded the Vivekananda Society in Calcutta. He died upon return to the United States on 22 December 1958, aged 74.