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Remembering Bhagat Singh: A socialist, a revolutionary and a writer, all by the age of 23

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By Harshmeet Singh

 “Let me announce with all the strength at my command that I am not a terrorist and I never was, except perhaps, in the beginning of my revolutionary career. And I am convinced that we cannot gain through those methods.” – Bhagat Singh

For most 23 year olds, the biggest worry in life remains choosing between an MBA degree and a job. At this very age, Bhagat Singh, along with Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru happily stepped on the gallows on 23rd March 1931 with a dream of uprooting the British rule from his country. A dream, which, he knew, he won’t be able to relish himself. The world has rarely seen any examples of such courage, patriotism and determination from any one, let alone men in their young 20s.

Bhagat Singh  

To many, Bhagat Singh represented the anarchists. One who went by his own terms and adopted violent means in a largely non-violent freedom movement. However, a larger section of historians believe that his popularity was akin to Gandhi’s and in some sections, even more.

Born to a Sikh family in 1907, Bhagat Singh got the seeds of patriotism from his family members. His father was in the jail at the time of his birth for his role in the agitation against Canal Colonization Bill. An ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s politics in his childhood days, Bhagat Singh was seemingly disappointed after Gandhi abruptly put off the non-cooperation movement following the violent incidents at Chauri Chaura.

When his family began pressurizing him for marriage after college, he left his home by leaving behind a letter saying “My life has been dedicated to the noblest cause, that of the freedom of the country. Therefore, there is no rest or worldly desire that can lure me now.”

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A socialist to the core, Bhagat Singh also wrote for a number of newspapers in Delhi and Punjab. The untimely death of Lala Lajpat Rai as an aftermath of the lathicharge during protests against the Simon Commission brought together Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, Shivaram Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad.

Bhagat SIngh’s real revolution started inside Delhi’s Mianwali jail, where he took up the cause of discrimination between European and Indian prisoners and went on a hunger strike which only ended after 116 days following a Congress resolution and a personal request by his father.

Moved by his determination, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said “The man who goes on hunger strike has a soul. He is moved by that soul, and he believes in the justice of his cause … however much you deplore them and however much you say they are misguided, it is the system, this damnable system of governance, which is resented by the people”

Bhagat Singh’s life is difficult to understand. He was an atheist, a socialist, a revolutionary and a writer, all by the age of 23. He believed that his death would help India inch closer towards independence. He believed that the next generation would value the freedom he is trying to earn by giving his life. It was this belief that helped him take his last walk towards the gallows while singing with his friends.

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Do we value our freedom & the people who gave it to us?

Looking back and studying the historical accounts from books isn’t quite enough to realize the number of lives lost and families broken during the freedom struggle. On the face of this earth, there is no greater bliss than ‘being free’. What comes as the ‘fundamental right’ to us was in fact taken from the British by our freedom fighters after years of struggle, humiliation and bloodshed. While we are humble enough to spare a few days in the memory of handful freedom fighters, there are hundreds who lived and died in oblivion to ensure that we could call this country as our own.

It would be a grave mistake to assume that those great souls were solely fighting for administrative control over the land. Trying to make people understand his idea of India, Bhagat Singh said “I think in India the idea of universal brotherhood, the Sanskrit sentence vasudhaiva kutumbakam etc., has the same meaning.” Religious intolerance, a rapidly increasing social evil in the country, is stark opposite to the ideals of Bhagat Singh and other great freedom fighters. This leads us to the question – ‘Is it the same India for which Bhagat Singh laid down his life when he was just 23?’

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15 Amazing Facts About The Revolutionary Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh is considered to be a legend. Many of his actions are well-known. Even after his death, his inspiring actions continued to stir the desire for freedom.

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Bhagat Singh belonged to Punjab and popularly referred as legendary revolutionary Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. Wikimedia Commons
Bhagat Singh belonged to Punjab and popularly referred as legendary revolutionary Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. Wikimedia Commons
  • Bhagat Singh was born on 28 September 1907
  • At a very early age, he got inclined towards socialism and socialist revolutions
  • Bhagat Singh was a very versatile theatre artist

Bhagat Singh stands out to be one of India’s greatest revolutionary freedom fighter who was given the death penalty by the British colonizers. Although he died at a very young age of 23 but his actions inspired the youth of the nation to fight for the nation’s freedom.

Bhagat Singh belonged to Punjab and popularly referred as legendary revolutionary Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. He was born on 28 September 1907 in the village of Banga, Lyallpur district (now in Pakistan). Bhagat Singh is considered to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. He inculcated the spirit of martyrdom since his childhood.

Due to the utter influence of Bhagat Singh, Britishers hanged him an hour ahead of the official time. Wikimedia Commons
Due to the utter influence of Bhagat Singh, Britishers hanged him an hour ahead of the official time. Wikimedia Commons

At a very early age, he got inclined towards socialism and socialist revolutions led by Lenin and soon he started to follow and read about them. The leaflet that he threw in the Central Assembly on 9 April 1929, he stated, “It is easy to kill individuals but you cannot kill the ideas. Great empires crumbled while the ideas survived.”

Also Read: 8 must-read works of Rabindranath Tagore

Take a look at the life of one of the most celebrated Indian freedom fighters.

  1. Bhagat Singh was a great actor in college and a theatre artist. He took part in several plays. The most notable plays he was part of were ‘Rana Pratap’, ‘Samrat Chandragupta’ and ‘Bharata-durdasha’.
  2. When the Jalianwala Bagh incident occurred, Bhagat Singh was in school. He immediately left the school and went straight to the place of the tragedy. He collected the mud of that place which was mixed with the blood of Indians and worshipped the bottle every day. At that time, he was just 12 years old.
  3. In his childhood, Bhagat Singh often talked and wanted to grow guns in the fields, so that he could fight the British and push them back.
  4. Being a kid, he never talked about toys or games. He used to speak about driving out Britishers from India.
  5. The bomb that Bhagat Singh and his associates threw in the Central Assembly, were made of low-grade explosives. They were thrown away from people in the corridors of the building and were only meant to startle and not harm anyone. The British investigation report and forensics details also confirmed this.
  6. Bhagat Singh coined the word “political prisoner” during his stay in prison in 1930. He demanded basic amenities for his comrades in the prison which were even given to British looters and goons in the jail.
  7. ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ was the very famous phrase of Bhagat Singh. It fueled the independence vision of the people and later on became the slogan of India’s armed freedom struggle.
  8. Due to the utter influence of Bhagat Singh, Britishers hanged him an hour ahead of the official time. He was then secretly cremated on the banks of the river Sutlej by jail authorities. However, on hearing the news of his execution, thousands of people gathered at the spot of his cremation and took out a procession with his ashes.
  9. When Bhagat Singh was imprisoned in Lahore Jail, he kept a diary with him in which he penned down his fervent thoughts about freedom and revolution.
  10. At the very young age of 14 years, Bhagat Singh took part in a protest against the killing of a large number of unarmed people at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib.
  11. Bhagat Singh debunked Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence. After the 1922 Chauri Chaura incident, he joined the Young Revolutionary Movement and began to advocate for the violent methods to overthrow the British Government in India.
  12. To avoid a forced marriage by his family, Bhagat Singh ran away to Kanpur and left a letter, which read, “My life has been dedicated to the noblest cause, that of the freedom of the country. Therefore, there is no rest or worldly desire that can lure me now.”
  13. When the British police became aware of Singh’s influence on youth, they immediately arrested him on the false pretext of having been involved in a bombing.
  14. After witnessing the Hindu-Muslim riots that broke out after Gandhi disbanded the Non-Cooperation Movement, he began to question religious ideologies of the society. After that point, Singh dropped his religious beliefs. He believed that the religion hinders the revolutionaries’ struggle for independence, and started studying the works of Bakunin, Lenin, Trotsky – all atheist revolutionaries. Later on, Bhagat Singh also wrote an essay titled ‘Why I am an Atheist’ in 1930 in Lahore Central Jail.
  15. Bhagat Singh wrote for Urdu and Punjabi newspapers which used to get published from Amritsar. He also contributed to the publishing of pamphlets by the Naujawan Bharat Sabha that excoriated the British. In his college time, Singh won an essay competition set by the Punjab Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. Bhagat Singh also published a series of articles on anarchism in Kirti and used many pseudonyms such as Balwant, Ranjit and Vidhrohi for publishing his writings.
    ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ was the very famous phrase of Bhagat Singh. Wikimedia Commons
    ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ was the very famous phrase of Bhagat Singh. Wikimedia Commons

     

    Also Read: 10 Facts You Need To Know About Homi Bhabha

    Bhagat Singh is considered to be a legend. Many of his actions are well-known. His execution ignited the feeling of unity in many people to take up the revolutionary path, playing an important role in India’s freedom struggle. On the other hand, many didn’t agree with his radical approach to attain freedom. Even after his death, his inspiring actions continued to stir the desire for freedom.

    Once Bhagat Singh said, “They may kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas. They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit.