The British rule was a ruthless colonial misrule that sought to plunder India. This however didn’t deter many brave hearts from India to stand up against the enemy, right from the time the British East India Company took over the sovereignty of India. One of these early freedom fighters was Veerapandiya Kattabomman.
Revolt and Execution
Veerapandiya Kattabomman was born on 3rd January, 1760 at the Panchalankurichi village in Tamil Nadu. He soon became the ruler of Panchalankurichi. From the beginning, Kattabomman refused to accept the rule of East India Company, and revolted against them. This angered the British. On October 16th 1799, he was hanged by the British on a tamarind tree at Kayathar village of Tuticorin district in Tamil Nadu.
Kattabomman being hanged
A Martyr was born, as King Kattabomman had left his stamp in the minds of the people this his heroic deeds, and his legacy lives on.
A stamp has been released by the India post in his honour.
King Veerapandiya Kattabomman’s death anniversary is today celebrated in his village, Panchalankurichi. The government of Tamil Nadu has constructed a memorial for Kattabomman at Kayathar village in Tamil Nadu. His statues can be found all across Tamil Nadu. The Indian’s Navy’s communication centre is known as INS Kattabomman.
The remnants of architecture at Kattabomman’s village, Panchalankurichi is today protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Veerapandia Kattabomman Panpattu Kazhagam is a cultural organization opened in the name of Kattabomman. There is also a Tamil film made on his life, in which actor Shivaji Ganeshan played his role.
Apart from these, Veerapandiya Kattabomman name today lives on in the minds of the people of India, as the one who sacrificed his life for the cause of the country.
We all are familiar with the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”.
Did you know that this slogan was coined by Lal Bahadur Shastri?
Lal Bahadur Shastri was the second prime minister of India, and today his name is taken with reverence all over India, and also in places outside India, like Uzbekistan, where there is a street, a hospital, and a university in his name, at Tashkent.
Statue of Shastri and a street in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
When we got freedom, Mahatma Gandhi’s dream was that every village should be self-sufficient.
Lal Bahadur Shastri coined the slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kisan to enthuse the nation
The slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kisan was aimed at building Suraksha, security for India.
Suraksha of the land through the Jawan, defence forces and Suraksha of the economy through the Kisan, agriculture.
He was one who had understood that food security ensures self-sufficiency which in turn secures the economy as well.
Food security can come only when the Kisan is happy and can produce enough food and the Jawan is happy and can guard the lands and farmers that produce this food.
Well-being of both Jawan and Kisan therefore is essential for security and self-sufficiency.
Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Meeting and Talking to Farmer
After his time, the hard truth today is that unfortunately the vision behind the famous slogan “Jai jawan Jai kisan” is now being mocked by many as having instead degenerated into a reality of “Die Jawan Die Kisan”.
On this day, let us resolve on our patriotic duty to once again raise on the high pedestal, both the Jawan and the Kisan, ideals that this leader stood for.
Rashbehari Bose was one of the prominent Indian leaders who fought against the British Rule.
Role in Ghadar revolution
He played a prominent role in the Ghadar revolution, a pan Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army that was planned by Ghadar party and carried out in February 1915.
Worked as a Clerk at Forest Research Institute
Rashbehari Bose worked as a head clerk at the Forest Research Institute, in Dehradun, which was set up in 1906.
Leaving for Japan
Post the Ghadar revolution, Rash Behari Bose had to leave India to escape from the British hunt. He left for Singapore on May 22nd, 1915 and from there went to Japan in June, under the impersonation of Raja P N T Tagore, a distant relation of Rabindranath Tagore.
In Japan, he played a key role in the formation of the Indian National Army.
On arriving in Japan, he met his colleagues of the Ghadar Party, Herambalal Gupta and Bhagavan Singh and formulated the agenda against the British, in hiding.
Indo Japan Connect
The Indo – Japan connect from a friendship angle was initiated during the 1915s, when Japan gave shelter to Rash Behari Bose, who was looking for a place to hide from the British. Despite many requests from the British to extradite him, Japan firmly stood by him.
Key thought leaders of Japan, such as Tsuyoshi Inukai, who later went on to become the Prime Minister of Japan, Mitsuru Toyama, a Pan Asian leader of Japan, became his close friends and together they established the platform of the modern day bond between India and Japan.
Becoming a Japanese citizen
When Japan, an ally of the British in the First World War, discovered their identities and wanted to extradite them, Herambalal escaped to US, while Rash Behari came out of his ‘hiding’ by marrying the daughter of a Japanese bakery owner and becoming a citizen of Japan. Through this bakery, he also introduced Indian Curry to Japan.
Rash Behari was admired by most of the Japanese as also Nakamuraya Bose. The Nakamuraya Curry launched by Rash Behari in Japan, is still a favourite food, widely sold in food chain outlets of Tokyo as, “Indian Curry”.
More on Rash Behari and the Indo-Japan Connect, in our book, Indo Japan, A Connect Over Millennia.
As a journalist
Rash Behari became a journalist and explained the Indian view to the outside world for the next 20 years. It was due his earnest efforts that a conference was held in Tokyo in 1942 to discuss political issues.
Forming of Indian Independence League
The Indian Independence League was soon formed, under the leadership of Rash Behari. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was made the president of this league.
Formation of INA
Many Indian prisoners captured by the Japanese army in Burma and Malaysia were persuaded to join the Indian National Army under this Independence league.
Thus, the Indian Army took shape due to the efforts of Rashbehari Bose. It was named Azad Hind Fauj.
Conferred prestigious title
Rashbehari passed away on 21st January, 1945. The Japanese government honoured him with the prestigious title, ‘The Second Order of Merit of the Rising Sun’, the highest recognition for a foreigner.
It is even more heartening to note that a royal coach was sent by the Japanese Emperor Hirohito, to carry the mortal remains of this great Indian revolutionary.
On January 30th, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated before his evening prayer at Birla house in Delhi.
Gandhi going for evening prayer in Birla House
The road where the Birla house stands has been renamed as Thees January Marg since the assassination took place on January 30th.
Cement Foorprint of Mahatma Gandhi at Thees January Marg
The government of India observes this day as Martyrs’ day, in remembrance of all those selfless people who sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle.
The person who was standing next to Gandhi then, was his young personal secretary, Sri Kalyanam.
We had the good fortune of meeting Sri Kalyanam, who released our book “You Turn India” in Chennai.
Sri. Kalyanam, Personal Secretary of Mahatma Gandhi, 2nd from left, releasing our book “You Turn India”
Did Gandhi say “Hey Ram”, after being shot?
Sri Kalyanam, who was standing nearby, says he did not hear those words being uttered by Gandhi. Abha Gandhi who was pushed by Godse and into whose arms Gandhi fell, had countered Kalyanam. She says he said Hey Ram as he saw the gun. Kalyanam was a little behind and of course could not hear it.
Who heard what then, is in the realm of conjuncture.
The fact is the world has come to accept it, that Gandhi did say “Hey Ram”.
Speaking about prayer, Gandhiji once said,
“Prayer has saved my life, without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. I feel that as food is indispensable for the body so was prayer indispensable for the soul. I find solace in life and in prayer.
With the Grace of God everything can be achieved. When His Grace filled one’s being nothing was impossible for one to achieve.
Prayer is nothing else but an intense longing of the heart. You may express yourself through the lips; you may express yourself in the private closet or in the public; but to be genuine, the expression must come from the deepest recesses of the heart… It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin’s bullet, I may deliver my soul with the remembrance of God upon my lips.”
At Peace with Oneself
For a person to say Hey Ram when one is shot at, shows the internal calm of a person. It shows the peace a person has come to be with oneself, with life itself.
A task accomplished in one’s life, for one’s purpose of being born.
In Gandhiji’s case, a mission to liberate India from colonial yoke and set a model which the world did emulate.
Raj Ghat, the memorial, marking the cremation spot of Gandhi
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23rd January 1897 at Cuttack in Orissa. The house where he was born has been converted into Netaji Museum.
Rebel as a student
Netaji was a rebel right from his college days. As a student of Presidency College in Calcutta, he assaulted English Professor Oaten for abusing Indians. Netaji was expelled from the college for this act.
Supported by Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee
It was Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, the then Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University who supported young Bose. Recognizing the patriotic fervor in young Bose and seeing the potential in him, Ashutosh Mukherjee made alternate arrangements for Bose to study.
A Win against Gandhi’s Nominee
In 1939, Subhas Chandra Bose contested election for the post of President of Indian National Congress. He won against Pattabhi Sitaramayya, the nominee of Gandhi.
The chariot on which Subhas Chandra Bose rode during the Congress session in Haripura, where he was elected Congress president. The chariot is now preserved in Vansda Palace near Navsari in Gujarat.
Unwell but a stirring speech
At the Tripura All India Congress Committee meeting in 1939, Netaji made a dramatic entry riding an elephant. Inspite of being unwell with high fever, he gave a stirring speech.
In 1943, Bose regrouped the Indian National Army with the help of the Indian soldiers from among the defeated British Indian Army in Singapore and marched through South East Asia reaching Moirang in Manipur.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose inspecting Troops of Indian National Army, Singapore
In Manipur, he hoisted the Indian Army flag – the Azad Hind Fauz for the first time on Indian Soil on April 14, 1944, defeating the local British Army.
100000 (One Lakh ) Rupee Note Issued by Bank of Independence of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
The place where the Indian Tricolour was hoisted for the first time on Indian Soil Moirang, Manipur
INA Memorial, Moirang, Manipur
INA memorial in Singapore from where Subhas Chandra Bose started his march
Setting up Azad Hind Bank
On October 21st 1943, Netaji set up the Azad Hind Bank to manage funds donated by the Indian community from across the world for the liberation of India from the British Raj.
Thousand rupee note of Azad Hind Government
Businessman Abdul Habeeb Yusuf Marfani who donated 1 Crore Rupees to Azad Hind Bank In Rangoon for which Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Gave Him Sevak-e-Hind Medal
Netaji gave the title “Father of the Nation” to Gandhi
It was also Netaji who first gave the title of “Father of the Nation” to Mahatma Gandhi, in his Singapore Radio address.
Feared by the British
While British could not but respect Mahatma for his non-violent struggle, the British feared the Indian National Army of Netaji.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with British Politician George Lansbury
This twin approach led to the dismantling of the British Empire not only in India, but in other parts of world.
He was the one who with a small band of dedicated freedom fighters gave a chill down the spine of the British Empire.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Prague, in 1926
Mammoth Crowd Welcomes Subhas Chandra Bose in Lahore in 1938
Netaji’s ashes are today still in Japan waiting to come to India. Kept in Renkoji temple of Japan, out of Japan’s admiration and respect since September 18th, 1945, it is a place visited by visiting Indians, dignitaries included, to pay respects. As years go by, the generation of people who connected with this man from India and his times, are slowly dwindling.
Netaji Subash Chandra Bose of Indian National Army, INA
Saichiro Misumi of Tokyo, Japan, at 99 years old in 2014, is Netaji’s oldest living associate in Japan. He was sought out and visited by the Indian Prime Minister Mr.Modi during his visit to Japan in September 2014. Mr.Modi bent down and touched Misumi’s feet, in a typical Indian gesture of paying respects.
Indian Prime Minister Modi with Saichiro Misumi, in Tokyo – Courtesy PTI
Renkoji Temple in Japan
It is time these ashes came back to Indian soil and sooner the better.
More on Netaji’s Japanese connect in our book – “Indo-Japan A Connect Over Millennia”.
We also speak extensively about Netaji and his role in India’s freedom in our book – Breaking The Myths – Vol-1 – About Identity.
Madan Mohan Malviya is one of those notable leaders that this country has seen. His role in the Indian Freedom struggle and his contributions towards education can scarcely be missed as his legacy stands tall even today after 71 years of his leaving the mortal coil.
Madan Mohan Malviya
The Banaras University, the largest residential university in Asia is one of those great legacies that Malviya left behind in his role as an educationist. The university now provides higher education to more than 12000 students across various streams like science, arts and technology.
Banaras Hindu University
As the president of the Indian National Congress for four times, Malviya played a vital role in the freedom struggle. He was an important in the non-cooperation movement of Mahatma Gandhi.
On Par with Gandhi
Malviya is perhaps the only freedom fighter who has been compared with ‘the Mahatma’. Mrs Sarojini Naidu described Malviya’s courtesy as being far greater and sweeter than ‘the Mahatma’.
Mahatma Gandhi himself lauded Malviya’s efforts in saving innocent lives of Indians after the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy.
Madan Mohan Malviya and Mahatma Gandhi
A committee was formed under the presidency of Malviya in 1919, soon after the tragedy to build a memorial for the martyrs who died in the attack.
Jallainwala Bagh Memorial
Prince among Beggars
Mahatma Gandhi called Malviya, the ‘Prince among Beggars’ for his capacity to repeatedly collect funds as huge as 1 crore rupees for public cause. The Banaras University was formed as result of Malviya’s ability to collect funds.
Other Initiatives and Roles
Malviya was also one of the founders of the Indian scouts, and also founded the newspaper, ‘The Leader’ published in the year 1909. He also served as the chairman of Hindustan Times newspaper from 1924 to 1946.
Malviya was also a great orator which earned him the title “Silver tongued orator”, due to his great command in English.
For the varied roles in many fields, he was conferred the title, “Mahamana’, by the people, meaning ‘the Great One’, towards the end of his life, as the whole nation recognized the contributions of this great freedom fighter, politician, educationist and orator.
Madan Mohan Malviya passed away on November 12th, 1946 at Varanasi.
Lala Lajpat Rai was born on 28th January 1865 at Dhidika village in Punjab. He aggressively fought against the might of the British Empire. He was popularly called, Punjab Kesari, “The lion of Punjab”.
Lala Lajpat Rai
“Lal Pal Bal”
The Trio of “Lal Pal Bal” were forerunners of the freedom struggle much before the times of Mahatma Gandhi. Lal was Lala Lajpat Rai from Punjab, Bal was Bala Gangadhar Tilak from Marartha, and Pal was Bipin Chandra Pal from Bengal. They came from different corners of India and asked for Swaraj in united voice.
Lal Bal Pal
The lion that he was, Lala Lajpat Rai gave tough time to the British through his demonstrations, demanding Swaraj.
Hindu Orphan Relief Movement
Lala Lajpat Rai founded the Hindu Orphan Relief Movement to keep British missions from securing custody of orphans.
Punjab National Bank
He also established the Punjab National Bank. The Bank opened on 12th April, 1895, at Lahore.
“Simon Go Back”
Lala Lapat Rai succumbed to injuries sustained during a lathi charge while leading a non violent demonstration against the Simon Commission, with the slogan “Simon Go Back”. He passed away on 17th November, 1928.
“Simon Go Back” protest led by Lala Lajpat Rai
“Every Blow a Nail in the Coffin of British”
One of his strongest statements from his last moments, still etched in the mind of the people is, “Every blow on my body will prove a nail in the coffin of British Empire.”
Roads in his name
The people of both India and Pakistan remember the contributions of this Freedom Fighter towards Freedom from the Colonial Rule.
Many major cities in India have roads named after this Freedom Fighter.
Pakistan has also named a road after Lala Lajpat Rai in its Quetta town. It is for the first time since partition that Pakistan had named a road after an Indian leader.
There are also statues erected in honour of Lala Lajpat Rai in many parts of the country.
Lala Lajpat Rai Statue, Shimla
A stamp has been released in his name by the Government of India.
It is due to the efforts of such Freedom Fighters that India finally attained Freedom in 1947.