The Tribune - Spectrum

, August 11, 2002

Bhagat Singh’s philosophy was ahead of his times
C.D. Verma

Bhagat Singh was a visionaryOUT of hundreds of revolutionaries who went to the gallows during India’s struggle for freedom, the name that first comes to our mind is that of Sardar Bhagat Singh who led an armed rebellion against the British, and eventually laid down his life for the cause of India’s freedom.

Recently, there has been a spate of films commemorating this great martyr. Some of the films, instead of projecting the kind of man Bhagat Singh was, blended fact and fiction, which raised many an eyebrow, particularly from the descendants of Bhagat Singh. Nevertheless, a couple of films do highlight the ideals and the socio-political philosophy Bhagat Singh cherished and propagated.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Bhagat Singh was a visionary. His socio-political ideas were much ahead of his times. They are more relevant to the times now than ever before. Recently, Bhagat Singh’s jail diary has been discovered from Gurukul Indraprastha, Faridabad. The diary, published as Martyr’s Book, is replete with Bhagat Singh’s ideas on several topical issues.

Gurukul Indraprastha was set up in Faridabad in 1916 by Swami Shradhanand as the second campus of Gurukul Kangri (Hardwar). According to latest evidence, the Gurukul, situated in the sylvan surroundings of the Aravalli mountains, offered an ideal hideout to young revolutionaries such as Lala Lajpat Rai, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Chander Shekhar, Ram Parsad Bismil, and others. Even Subhas Chandra Bose is said to have used this hideout for seven days. These revolutionaries assembled there and formulated plans.


Balabhadra Bharti, former Vice-Chancellor of Gurukul Kangri, on his routine official visit to the Gurukul Indraprastha in 1981, found a notebook, written in Bhagat Singh’s own hand from a subterranean chamber housing books, maps, photographs and paintings of historical significance, appertaining to the revolutionaries.

The notebook, in fact, Bhagat Singh’s jail diary, edited and presented by Bhupendra Hooja, has been published by Indian Book Chronicle, Unniara Gardens, Jaipur.

A Martyr’s Book contains interesting anecdotes and is a treatise on Bhagat Singh’s ideas on democracy, capitalism, Marxism, legal justice, and memoirs of his college days. The jail diary provides a peep into the working of his mind while he was waiting in the jail for the hangman’s noose.

Expressing his views on democracy, Bhagat Singh opines that in "concrete and practical operation," democracy is "false," for there can be no equality, not even in politics and before the law, so long as there is "glaring inequality in economic power".

He goes on to add that "the nominal equality before the law" will be a "hollow mockery," so long as the ruling class owns the Press, schools, and other instruments for the moulding the expression of public opinion, "so long as it monopolises all trained public functionaries and disposes of unlimited funds to influence elections," so long as "the laws are made by the ruling class and the courts are presided over by the members of the class, so long as lawyers are private practitioners who sell their skill to the highest bidder and litigation is technical and costly."

Recalling one interesting episode, Bhagat Singh writes. "In answer to Gandhi’s call, some of us young boys, including Dinanath, son of Devan Lekh Raj, the local tehsildar, formed an ‘action squad’. For days we went to the nearby inundation canal, carrying pots and pans. We would collect the canal water, boil it, and feel happy in imagining that the sediment left at the bottom of the pan was contraband salt. We would bring it back to the town duly wrapped in paper packets to be auctioned at the public meetings. The auction money made us proud and it was donated to the fund of the cause."

Recalling another incident, Bhagat Singh mentions: "My mother often led the volunteers to picket the liquor shops and organised bonfires of foreign cloth... This movement... set us free from fear, and also strengthened the forces of women’s emancipation from the stifling walls of domesticity and traditional bondage."

Bhagat Singh’s jail diary contains many more topical ideas relevant to the times now. Besides, many heroes of the freedom movement who also find a mention in the diary have now been relegated to oblivion. It is the right time in the new millennium to pay obeisance to the martyrs and reiterate their socio-political philosophy.