Bhagat Singh epitomizes the character of the Indian revolutionaries of the third decade of the twentieth century.
His rejection of the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence, his disagreement with the reformist stand of the Congress, his belief in Marxist communism, his atheism, his belief in terrorist methods to create the dignity of the downtrodden and the downtrodden, his belief in the birthright of revolution Claim, all these ideas were typical ideas found in the Indian youth of the third and fourth decades of the twentieth century.
The trial of Bhagat Singh in the Lahore Conspiracy Case and his death sentence made Indians aware of the unjust and oppressive character of the British Raj, but it also popularized the ideas and activities of the revolutionaries.
Bhagat Singh became a Revolutionary
We shall now discuss the influences that shaped the personality and ideology of Bhagat Singh. The family background of Bhagat Singh played an important role in shaping his thoughts. The political upheaval prevailing in Punjab left a deep impact on Bhagat Singh’s political thinking. We shall see that his early political contacts and educational life shaped his political thinking to a great extent. Apart from these, some political incidents like the attack on Lala Lajpat Rai also inspired Bhagat Singh to adopt the cause and ideology which he eventually adopted.
Bhagat Singh’s forefathers had earned a lot of fame in the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He settled in the Khatkar Kalan of Jalandhar district. The area known as Doab was famous for revolutionary activities. His grandfather, Sardar Arjan Singh was an Unani doctor and social worker. He was an Arya Samaji. The Arya Samaj in Punjab was a symbol of nationalist aspirations and Bhagat Singh’s father and uncle were political activists. He played an important role in setting up a political movement in the form of a Bharat Malta Society in 1907. His father Kishan Singh got the colonization act elder. Had to stay in jail for organizing farmers against Doab Canal Act. His uncle, Sardar Ajit Singh, became famous for his long periods of exile. He was an active member of the Ghadar Party.
Living in the political environment from the beginning must have had a decisive impact on the formation of Bhagat Singh’s thoughts. His early education was done in Lahore by D.A.V. Happened in high school. It was considered a premier school of Punjab. Here he came in contact with nationalist leaders of Punjab like Lala Lajpat Rai, Sufi Amba Prasad, Pindi Das Mehta, and Anand Kishore. He chose Sardar Kartar Singh Sarabha as his role model, who died a martyr’s death, this reflects his thoughts.
Growing unrest in Punjab
In the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the agricultural people of Punjab were the worst sufferers. Frequent famines and rising unemployment and the colonial policies of the government resulted in widespread unrest among the peasantry. There were frequent clashes with the official class and the harsh treatment of the protestors alienated the people from the British rulers. The strictness with which the British government repressed revolutionary parties like the Akali movement and the Gadar Party further increased the situation of this erosion or estrangement. The passing of the Rowlatt Act, the Jallianwala massacre in Amritsar and the atrocities committed under martial law, etc., together added fuel to the fire of growing ill-will among the people. The Amritsar Congress of 1913 and Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement contributed to the movement in Punjab. Young people were influenced by what was happening in Europe after the First World War. The Russian Revolution left a deep impact on the younger generation.
During his youth, Bhagat Singh attended the National College in Lahore. It. The college had a reputation for attracting young people who would later be at the forefront of various movements. Here he was influenced by history teacher Jaichand Vidyalankar. Bhagat Singh was an active, intelligent and disciplined student. He revolutionary. Movements learned their lessons from outside India – Italy, Ireland, Russia and China. He had made up his mind to join the revolutionaries, and that’s why he also rejected his marriage proposal. He met Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi in Kanpur with a letter from Professor Vidyalankar. Vidyarthi’s house was the centre of political activities. It was here that Bhagat Singh came in contact with the revolutionaries of North India. He formed an organization named Hindustan Republican Association. As a political activist, Bhagat Singh travelled to many places in Uttar Pradesh. Later, he was assigned the task of running a national school near Aligarh. He also lived in Delhi for some time, where he worked in the daily ‘Veer Arjun’. Finally, he moved to Lahore, where he served on the editorial board of Kirti, a socialist-minded magazine run by Sardar Sohan Singh Josh.
The platform created to engage the youth in revolutionary activities was known as Navjawan Bharat Sabha. The special program of this gathering, formed in 1926, was to educate the youth in social matters, to popularize Swadeshi and to inculcate in their physical fitness and a sense of brotherhood to face difficulties. In addition, its program was also to create a secular attitude based on hatred and atheism towards foreign rule. It was a kind of open forum, whose work was for revolutionary activities.
Individuals had to be educated and recruited. The Naujawan Sabha was considered a stepping stone for those youths who later wanted to join the Hindustan Republican Association. The goal of the Hindustan Republican Association was to overthrow British rule through rebellion and armed revolution. The association had a good organization to run its clandestine activities in the country and abroad. It was no surprise that the Sabha became suspect in the eyes of the bureaucracy and its meetings were dissolved and its office bearers arrested. The meeting was a platform from which people were given a speech to oppose the unjust and arbitrary rule of the British. It also printed pamphlets of the Independent India series. The task of the Sabha was to propagate the principles of equality, removal of poverty and equitable distribution of wealth. The name of the Hindustan Republican Association was changed to the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. This new name was adopted after discussions held on 9–10 September 1928 at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground in Delhi.
Revenge for Lala Lajpat Rai’s death
These were the days when the Simon Commission toured the entire country to make recommendations for future constitutional reforms. All the members of this commission were white, this fact and the purpose of this commission were greatly disliked and the commission was welcomed everywhere with black flags and slogans ‘Shiman commission goes back’. The commission was to reach Lahore on 30 October 1928. Despite the ban, all parties together organized a procession and Lajpat Rai was requested to lead it. The police, under the leadership of the Superintendent of Police of Lahore, attacked the procession very brutally. Lala Lajpat Rai died due to this attack. All Indians mourned his death. Bhagat Singh and his comrades decided to kill the Superintendent of Police of Lahore to avenge the death of Lalaji. But due to a wrong signal, instead of the Superintendent of Police, his subordinate Saunders and a constable Chanan Singh who was following him were killed. Bhagat Singh escaped from the police trap and reached Calcutta. Here plans were made to set up bomb-making factories in Agra, Lahore and Saharanpur.
The British government wanted to suppress the workers’ movement. With this thunder, he implicated the labor leaders in a conspiracy case. The government had already brought two bills to put restrictions on the freedom of the workers – Public Safety Bill and Trade Dispute Bill.
The Hindustan Socialist Republican Association decided to oppose the arbitrary policy of the government. It was planned that by the time these Bills would be put up for discussion in the Legislative Assembly, terror would be spread there. For this work Bhagat Singh and B.K. Dutt was selected. They hurled two bombs from the gallery at the place where some members were sitting and made no attempt to escape. They also threw some pamphlets, in which it was said what was the objective of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.
Side of Terrorism
In this pamphlet, this action of the terrorists was explained in a big way. The pamphlet took on all the points like the futility of reforms, the ridiculousness of the parliamentary system, the need to prepare for revolution, and the justification for violence. The pamphlet declared:
“One has to speak louder to be heard by the goods; on such an occasion, with these immortal words uttered by the French anarchist martyr Valiant, we vehemently justify our action.”
“Without repeating the shameful history of the last ten years of working of (Montague, Chelmsford Reforms) and without going into the insults committed against the Indian nation through this House – the so-called Indian Parliament, we would like to point out that where people Expecting some more bits and pieces of reform from the Simon Commission and bickering over the supposed division of bones, the government is imposing repressive measures on us like the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Disputes Bill, and it has pushed the Press Sedition Bill into the next round. Reserved for the session. The indiscriminate arrests of labour leaders working in open areas is a clear indication of which way the wind is blowing.
“In these provocative circumstances, the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, with the utmost seriousness, realizing its full responsibility, has decided and ordered its forces to carry out this special operation, in order to put a stop to this outrageous force.” And the foreign official exploiters may do whatever they want, but they will have to come in the public eye in their naked condition.
“The representatives of the people should go to their respective areas and prepare the people for the coming revolution, and the government should understand that the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Dispute Bill and the Lala Lajpat Rai Opposing cold-blooded killing, we want to emphasize the lesson of history which it often repeats, that it is easy to kill persons but you cannot kill ideas. Big empires collapsed, while ideas lived on. The Bourbons and
The Czars have fallen.
The message was clear and well-understood by the British. The revolutionaries were the biggest threat to the British Raj and they should be crushed mercilessly. Once Bhagat Singh was arrested, he was never released again. Although public opinion and Congress leaders were also in favour of commuting his death sentence, in the view of the Governor General, it was his duty to ensure that the staunch enemies of the British Raj were executed.
No mercy should be shown along with it.
“Serious resolutions passed by the House have been contemptuously trampled underfoot in the so-called Indian Parliament. Proposals to repeal repressive and arbitrary measures have been treated with disdain, and government measures and proposals rejected by elected members of the legislature have been reinstated with the stroke of a pen. . In short, we have failed to find any justification for the continued existence of an institution which, in spite of all its glamour, is built on the hard-earned money of millions of toiling India. There is only an empty pretence and a mischievous hoax. Similarly, they have also failed to understand the mindset of the mass leaders who help the government in wasting people’s money and time on a blatant ‘theatrical display’ of India’s helpless subordination.
In the view of the revolutionaries, the legislature had no democratic character. It was a shame to hide the despotic rule of a foreign government. Indians collaborating with the government were trying to fool others into believing that the government was implementing responsible governance piecemeal.
In the statement, attention was drawn towards the original form of the Bills. The toiling masses were not given the right to speak against their own exploitation and were treated like speechless animals. These bills were an insult to the entire nation. The revolutionaries wanted to express their protest about this so that the authorities would be alerted before the storm came.
There was open disdain in the statement about Mahatma Gandhi and his Congress followers:
“When force is used with aggression, it is violence, and therefore morally unjust, but when it is used for a just purpose, it has moral justification. During the trial, Bhagat Singh made it clear that he did not believe in violence as an integral part of progress. He considered revolution as a change in the social system on the basis of justice. The rights of the producers, whether laborers or farmers, should be restored. Inequalities and disparities must end. To talk of ending the war without reorganizing the social structure was, in Bhagat Singh’s view, absurd. Talk of world peace under an exploitative society was unimaginable and hypocritical. Such a society had to be socialist. Like independence, he also considered revolution as the birthright of the people. Bhagat Singh and Dutt had said in their statement that they had no intention of killing anyone in the assembly and that no one was injured as the bombs were less powerful and their purpose was to warn, yet the judge found them guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Lahore Conspiracy Case
In the Lahore Conspiracy Case, all the charges like the murder of Saunders and Chanan Singh, assembly bomb case and setting up of bomb factories were taken together and Bhagat Singh and his companions were tried in a special court. The decision of this court was to be considered final. The accused made it known that they did not want a lawyer to defend themselves, had no faith in the justice of the court, and would not appear in court unless they were taken by force. The prisoners went on a hunger strike under the leadership of Bhagat Singh. Their demand was that the revolutionaries should be treated like political prisoners and that the facilities provided in the jail should be improved. During this strike, which lasted more than three months, Jatin Das, a revolutionary, died and his body was taken to Calcutta where his funeral procession was attended by a record-breaking crowd. Bhagat Singh and his companions were forcibly caught and beaten in front of the judge. The news of these incidents appeared in the newspaper and leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Bose expressed concern over his condition. Mahatma Gandhi did not express any opinion for a long time and when he was asked about it, he expressed his disagreement with his methods and called him a misguided patriot. Nevertheless, he considered Bhagat Singh and his comrades to be brave.
The special court found Bhagat Singh and Rajguru guilty of Saunders’ murder and Sukhdev for being the mastermind behind the conspiracy. The last attempt to save Bhagat Singh came from his father, who filed a petition in the special court, pleading that Bhagat Singh was not in Lahore at the time of Saunders’ assassination. Bhagat Singh strongly opposed this attempt and called it a “weakness of the worst kind”. He rejected any attempt to defend himself and asked his father to get his letter published. The special court gave its verdict on October 7, 1930, in which Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death and others were sent to exile for life. The efforts of many Indian leaders to save the lives of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev went in vain and they were hanged on March 23, 1931. Thus, when the Congress met in Karachi six days after the hanging, there was sadness in the atmosphere. Mahatma Gandhi had to take his stand and he Tributes were paid to Gandhi for his bravery, but he did not surrender his principle of non-violence, which was adopted by the Congress after the Gandhi-Irwin Pact.
The ideology of Bhagat Singh
To understand the political activities and beliefs of Bhagat Singh, it is necessary to analyze his ideology carefully. His thinking was definitely influenced by socialist thinking. The works of many socialist writers like Marx, Lenin, and Vatsky greatly influenced his ideological beliefs.
Bhagat Singh’s political views are expressed in his three writings and in several of his statements during the trial. In an interesting article titled “Why I am an Atheist”, he tries to explain the difference between himself and other revolutionaries who became devout and God-fearing during their prison life. Regarding the process of his evolution from theism to atheism, Bhagat Singh tells how during his college days he started questioning the existence of God. As he began to study the arguments countering the notions of believers in God, much of his romantic view of terrorism went away, and he became more realistic.
“No more mysticism, no more superstition (realism) has become our creed. The use of force is justified in times of dire necessity, and the policy of violence is mandatory for all mass movements. So much for methods.
Bhagat Singh has told that the reason for the transition or change that took place in him was the study of Bakunin, Mars, Lenin and Watsky. Neerlamb Swami’s book ‘Common Sense’, which preached a kind of mystical atheism, also left an impact on his thoughts. When he was arrested for the first time in 1927, the police wanted to get information from him about the Kakori incident. They threatened to hang him and asked him to say his last prayer. After much thought, he found that he had no desire to pray and thus passed the first test of atheism.
In this article, Bhagat Singh did not deny that God is a strong anchor to comfort and give courage to the condemned prisoner. But he thought that it required even greater courage to make the greatest of sacrifices without desiring any fruit in this life or the life after death. He denied the charge of some of his companions that it was arrogance on his part to deny the existence of God. He wrote:
Can pride in their noble cause be considered arrogance? He should be forgiven because he cannot feel the great feelings, emotion, emotion and depth that grow in that heart. Self-reliance will always be understood as arrogance. This is a sad situation in itself, but there is no other option either.
Bhagat Singh considered critical and independent thinking as two essential qualities of a revolutionary. For him, no man is so great that he cannot be criticized. He considered it a sign of slavery. He was prepared to let faith and belief be used to understand the environment. In the absence of direct evidence, philosophers of religion have found various ways to explain things, leading to various religious ideas and their associated beliefs and practices.”
“Where there is no direct evidence, philosophy takes an important place. As I have already said, a revolutionary friend used to say that philosophy is the result of human weakness. When our forefathers had enough free time to try to solve the mystery of the causes of this world, its past, present and future, they, for lack of direct evidence, each of them in his own way Tried to solve the issue. Therefore, we find such great differences in the fundamentals of the various religious creeds, that they sometimes assume a very antagonistic and conflicting character.
Bhagat Singh’s argument against all religions was that they no longer had the investigative or experimental attitude that characterized the original thinkers. Accepted as truth and stopped thinking from his side. The result of this is that there has been stagnation and decay in every religion and sect. In this way, religion has become an obstacle in the progress of man.
Reason and only reason should be used to test whether religion is worthy of being cherished because belief in God as omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient is basically an irrational belief. Christianity and Islam have no answer as to why God created a world full of sorrow and worries. If its purpose is to take pleasure in the misery of man, then God must be compared to such detestable men as Nero and Genghis Khan. Hindus attribute the sorrows of the present life to the sins committed in previous lives. But they have no answer as to why the Almighty God did not make man so perfect that he could abstain from sins. Bhagat Singh, through his reasoning, realized that the power which controls the destiny of man There is no supreme power. Man has progressed by taming nature and no argument can be found that “justifies the world as it is.” This (origin) is a coincidence and all subsequent progress of man can be accounted for in his constant struggle with nature and his efforts to overcome it.
In Bhagat Singh’s view, the belief in God was not necessarily the pursuit of those who sought to subjugate people by preaching about the existence of a supreme being and then claiming authority or approval from it. Wanted to justify the special situation. However, he accepted the argument that the role of religion is fundamentally reactionary because it has always sided with oppressive and exploitative institutions, individuals and classes. Basically, the idea of God was invented to give courage to man to face all his troubles and also to keep his pride and ego in check. “The thought of God is helpful to a man in distress.”
As a realist, Bhagat Singh wanted to get rid of such notions.
“I do not know whether in my case faith in God and daily prayer, which I regard as the most selfish and meanest act of man, can prove helpful, or whether they will make my case worse. I have read about atheists facing all difficulties with great courage, so I am trying to stand with my head held high till the end, even on the gallows.
Ideas about a social revolution
Bhagat Singh’s ideas about society, and the type of society, he envisioned for India, were influenced by Marxism and Russian communism. What he understood by the revolution, he had made it clear in front of the court that by the revolution he Understood that the reorganization of society should be based on….in which the sovereignty of the proletariat is recognized and a world federation frees humanity from the shackles of capitalism and the scourge of imperialist wars.
He further explained some of these ideas in his book “Introduction to the Dreamland”. “Dreamland” was the poetic work of Ram Saran Das, who was exiled for life. Bhagat Singh wrote in his introduction that what kind of society the political parties want to build independence. He had no concept about it. They only aimed for independence from foreign rule and the only exception was the Ghadar Party, which wanted India to become a republic. These parties, according to him, were not revolutionaries, for them, the revolution meant “a program of systematic reconstruction of society on a new and calculated basis, after the complete destruction of existing conditions”. He did not agree with the Gandhian view that destruction is not the way to creation. In his view, “Destruction is not only necessary for creation but also inevitable”. His suggestion was that violent revolution should create a society where violence is no longer the nature of social relations. He was also against the idea of mixing ideas of different religions to avoid discord. Instead, he advocated a secular life.
Bhagat Singh also expressed his views against charity and charitable institutions, which have no place in a socialist society. The social organization will be built on the basis of the principle that “no one will be needed, no poor, no alms will be given, no alms will be taken.” It will be compulsory for everyone to work. On the basis of mental and physical wages, no one will be big or small and the remuneration will be equal. However, he disagreed with the view that only manual labour should be considered productive labour. The talk of compulsory physical labour for all is pure idealism. Seemed impractical.
Bhagat Singh also expressed his views on issues like crime and punishment. Punishment should be given with a view to rehabilitating the offender. “Prisons should be reformed houses, not pure hells”. He believed that war is a characteristic of a society based on exploitation. The possibility of war in a socialist society cannot be ruled out because. It has to protect itself from the capitalist society. He also appears to suggest that a revolutionary war would be necessary to create a socialist order in the world. He regarded the peaceful revolution through education development as pure idealism. “After seizing power, peaceful means would be used for constructive work, the force would be used to crush obstructions.”
The Congress leadership rejected
Bhagat Singh’s “Last Message” explains why there were differences between the revolutionaries and the Congress leaders. Similarly, the suspension of the so-called Gandhi-Enin Pact and the Civil Disobedience Movement was also considered a big mistake. Even the announcement of the Congress’s goal of complete independence was seen as a half-hearted attempt to wrest some concessions from the British.
Bhagat Singh’s charge against Congress was that it did not represent any revolutionary force. It was the representative of those barjas who Did not want to let his property go out of hand in the struggle. The real revolutionary elements were among the farmers and workers. But Congress did not wake up to these powers. The Congress was afraid of the participation of the workers and poor peasants in the struggle because it found it difficult to control them against the interests of the capitalists or landlords. Bhagat Singh’s view was that Congress was really the representative of the middle classes and lower middle classes and was not really interested in social revolution.
Bhagat Singh believed that there was no harm in making compromises and adjustments, provided the goal is clear and such compromises were necessary due to policy arrangements. Accepting Tilak’s strategy as correct, he had said that if he was given half the bread, he would accept it, but would keep fighting for the other half. The real danger arises when stabilise forces dominate and block change.
As far as constitutional reforms are concerned, Bhagat Singh found them incomplete in every test of responsible government. The executive used to veto the resolutions passed by the assembly. Will this be changed by electing the executive and making it responsible to the legislature? He also wanted to try the test of people’s participation in the elections. Will everyone have the right to vote or only property owners? He also wanted to apply the test of provincial autonomy and came to the conclusion that a centralized unitary (or centralized) system would reject it.
He advised the revolutionaries to be clear about their ultimate goal, their present position and the ways and means of working. The goal should be a socialist revolution and before that political revolution. Merely overthrowing the British Raj was not enough. It will make no difference to the workers and peasants if Sir Purushottam Das Thacker replaces Lord Reading or Sir Tej Bahadur Sap replaces Lord Irwin. The revolution should be for the benefit of the workers and peasants and they should be made to realize it. It must be a proletarian revolution by the proletariat for the proletariat.
To achieve this goal, Bhagat Singh asked the revolutionaries to follow Lenin’s ideas about an organized party and professional revolutionaries to prepare for the revolution. For this, he wanted the youth to form such a party, organize study groups, organize speeches and publish books and periodicals, and educate and recruit political workers. Yet he does not want a disciplined party to necessarily be secret. He also did not consider violence as essential. He expected the political workers to work among the masses and win the active sympathy of the peasants and workers. He also called such a party a communist party.
Bhagat Singh considered economic independence as the ultimate goal. But he considered political independence as the first step. He had no objection to the workers organizing themselves for small gains. But these should not be considered targets.
Lastly, Bhagat Singh had to tell the revolutionaries to be very careful and balanced about their expectations. His warning was to avoid pure idealistic thinking. Sentimental and careless persons cannot make a revolution. For this, the necessary things were patience, sacrifice and the absence of individualism. Courageous, strong will and continuous hard work were the essential qualities of revolutionaries.