Chandrasekhar Azad was one of the most famous Indian revolutionaries. He was a firebrand revolutionary who terrorised British with his bravery and guerrilla tactics. Chandrasekhar Azad was a contemporary to another fierce warrior, Bhagat Singh. Azad, as he was fondly known among his fellow freedom fighters, inspired generations of young Indians to fight for country’s independence. He was a crucial cog in the wheel of national movement for freedom. Chandrasekhar Azad was born to Pandit Sita Ram Tiwari and Jagrani Devi on July 23, 1906 in Badarka (Unnao). Chandrasekhar Tiwari was his original name.

After receiving his early education in Bhavra District in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, Chandrasekhar Azad went to the Sanskrit Pathashala at Varanasi for further studies. The turning point in his life came during the Jalianwalabagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919. This incident left him shell-shocked and filled his heart with anger and hatred for English rulers. His first foray into the revolutionary activities took place when he was merely 15 years of age. He also participated in Non-Cooperation Movement for which he was sentenced to whiplashes by the court. There is an interesting anecdote of how he came to own ‘Azad’ as his surname.

When he was caught by British police and was presented to magistrate, he was asked his name. In response, he said ‘Azad’ meaning independence. Since that day, Chandrashekhar assumed the title of Azad and was known as Chandrashekhar Azad. Withdrawal of Non-Cooperation movement by Mahatma Gandhi alienated Azad and Bhagat Singh from Gandhi Ji’s policies and they decided to follow armed revolutionary way. He was fascinated by violent revolutionary ideals and means. Chandrasekhar Azad carried out several attacks on British officials including the famous Kakori Train Robbery in 1926 and assassination of J.P Saunders in 1928.

Azad became the most wanted freedom fighter for British police but he kept evading them. Such as his terror that British police wanted him dead or alive. One unfortunate day, Azad was betrayed by a close associate of his and was surrounded by heavily armed British officials at Alfred Park, Allahabad. He was asked to surrender but he kept fighting courageously and killed three policemen. But his ammunition soon got exhausted and he shot himself in the head with his last bullet. He preferred to die than being caught by the British.

Indian freedom struggle is enriched with numerous heroes and great leaders. Most of the freedom fighters sacrificed their family, comfort, jobs and ultimately lives to make India an independent nation. We can only salute to such heroes who made it possible for us to breathe in a free air. One such legendary freedom fighter and an imminently knowledgeable person was the first prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Also known as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, he was one of the foremost leaders of Indian freedom struggle. The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had realised the infinite potential of his favourite disciple at an early age. Jawaharlal Nehru literally shaped the destiny of free India. No wonder, he is also called as the architect of modern India. Let’s have a look at Jawaharlal Nehru biography.

Jawaharlal Nehru was born on November 14, 1889. Pandit Ji was the son of famous barrister and freedom fighter Motilal Nehru. His mother’s name was Swaroop Rani. He had three sisters. His family background helped him in receiving best possible education. Jawaharlal Nehru did his schooling from Harrow and further on, completed his law degree from Trinity College, Cambridge. Because of his upbringing and solid education, he managed to acquire a rational outlook and rich understanding of political concepts. His patriotic dedication received further boost with his incomparable understanding of socialism and nationalism. He returned to India in 1912 and got married to kamala Kaul from whom he had a daughter named Indira Gandhi.

Nehru Ji was an intellectual in true sense of the word. He believed in the concepts of patriotism, unity and liberty. He was hugely influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and decided to join Indian freedom struggle. A strong mass leader, Pandit Nehru was imprisoned several times in his life. He spent no less than 14 years in prisons. Once the country got independence, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was unanimously elected as the first Prime Minister of the country. The country felt safe in the able leadership of Pandit Nehru. He successfully guided India during the times of partition, turbulence and poverty. He was instrumental in making effective and efficient social, agricultural and economic policies that we are still reaping rewards of. He was also one of the chief architects of nonaligned movement. The Chinese invasion in 1962 caused him severe pain and disappointment. He breathed his last on May 27, 1964.

“So long as I can serve India, I shall continue to do so. I love the Indian people as I love none other”, so wrote Annie Besant, in her paper ‘New India’. Born of Irish parents in London on October 1, 1847, Annie Besant made India her home since the day in November, 1893, when she landed at Tuticorin in Tamilnadu. Mahatma Gandhi once said about her that she awakened India from her deep slumber.

Few women of her generation had done so much to change people’s minds, beliefs, and attitudes. Till her 46th year when she came to India, Dr. Besant passed through several phases of life including, housewife, and propagator of atheism, trade unionist, feminist leader and Fabian socialist. By 1889, there was scarcely any modern reform in England for which she had not written, spoken, worked, and suffered. In 1908 Annie Besant became President of the Theosophical Society and began to steer the society away from Buddhism and towards Hinduism.

Once in India she totally involved herself with the country’s problem. With the theosophical society at Adyar in Madras (now Chennai) as her headquarters, she worked with tireless zeal for the freedom of the country. She named her movement ‘Home Rule’. She started a paper called ‘New India’ for carrying on her furious agendas. She attended for the first time the 1914 session of the Indian national congress and later on became its first woman president in 1917. In the meantime she launched the home rule league but failed to get the support of Balgangadher Tilak who has also started his own home rule league. She was opposed to the Satyagraha movement of Gandhiji as she was a constitutionalist.

Dr. Besant was associated with the scouts, movement from 1917 and the women’s Indian association from the same year. She started many educational institutions including the national college at Madanappalli and Hindu college at Banaras. She delivered the kamala lectures of the Calcutta University in 1925.

“She tried to follow truth”, she wanted these words to be her epitaph. With her passing away on September 21, 1933 the life of a great political leader, a social reformer and a standard- bearer of Indian culture came to an end.

Born on October 2, 1904, Lal Bahadur Shastri was the son of Sharada Prasad Shrivastava and Ramdulari Devi. His birth place was Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh. His father was a teacher and a man of integrity and honesty. The fact that, Lal Bahadur Shastri dropped his surname ‘Shrivastava’ as a symbolic gesture of protest against the prevailing caste system, says a lot about his beliefs and principles. Interestingly, the surname ‘Shastri’ was given to him as an award when he completed his graduation from kasha Vidyapeeth, Varanasi. The title ‘Shastri’ means a scholar. Shastri Ji lost his father when he was just one. His mother took care of Lal Bahadur and his two sisters.

Lal Bahadur Shastri’s foray into Indian freedom happened because of his fascination for inspiring stories and speeches of the national leaders. He was an avid reader and used to read books by Karl Marx and Lenin etc. This influenced his life in a major way and he decided to join the Indian Nationalist movement. He actively participated in Non-Cooperation Movement and was arrested for it. But the authorities had to release him because he was a minor. Later on, he joined the Congress party and became the president of Allahabad congress committee.

In the meantime, he got married to Lalita Devi without accepting anything in dowry and presented an example to the society. Lal Bahadur Shastri was a man of honour and honesty. He played a very active role in Salt movement and for that he spent nine years in prison. He made a valuable contribution to Quit India Movement. After the independence of India, he served in various positions. Initially, he was a member of Uttar Pradesh state cabinet. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru invited Lal Bahadur Shastri to join the Union Cabinet and he was assigned the crucial portfolio of Railways. After a train accident where more than 150 people lost their lives, he offered his resignation accepting the moral responsibility for the incident. That shows his ethics and morality.

He served in several cabinet positions before succeeding Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as India’s second Prime Minister. He aptly handled crucial issues like food shortage, unemployment and poverty. He was instrumental in initiating “Green Revolution” and “White Revolution”. Lal Bahadur Shastri showed exemplary courage and decision making skills when Pakistan attacked India during his tenure. He had said, “Force will be met with force” and crushed Pakistan comprehensively. After the war, he had gone to USSR to sign the Tashkent Declaration where he breathed his last. Lal Bahadur Shastri was the first person to be posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad has the unique distinction of being the first President of independent India. He played a very influential role in the freedom struggle of India. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was one of the foremost disciples of Mahatma Gandhi. His contribution as a freedom fighter and as a president was truly remarkable. Born on December 3, 1884 in the Ziradei village in the Siwan district of Bihar, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was a brilliant student throughout his academic career. He was born to Mahadev Sahay and Kamleshwari Devi. His father was a Sanskrit and Persian language scholar. Dr. Prasad was very attached to his elder brother Mahendra Prasad.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s first brush of education came under the guidance of a Maulavi. He learned Persian, Hindi and arithmetic. Right from his childhood, Dr. Prasad was a bright student. He topped in the matriculation examination and later on joined prestigious Presidency College in Calcutta. There also, he continued his excellent academic performance and completed his M.A and Masters in Law. In the meantime, his brother introduced him to the Swadeshi movement that proved to be a life-altering moment for him.

As he delved deeper into the freedom movements, he came into the contact of Mahatma Gandhi. Thereafter, Dr. Rajendra Prasad had just one dream and that was of seeing an independent India. He devoted himself to the services of the nation and considered Gandhi Ji as his political and spiritual guru. Rajendra Prasad was man of courage, dedication, conviction and utmost sincerity. His name symbolised honesty and modesty. He was an active participant in crucial freedom movements like Non Cooperation Movement, Salt Satyagraha and Champaran Agrarian Agitation. Dr. Rajendra Prasad is still remembered for his legendary contribution in raising funds for earthquake victims in 1934.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected congress president several times. Once the British left the country, he was unanimously elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution. In 1950, he was elected as the first President of the Republic of India. Dr. Rajendra Prasad served the country for twelve years. He relinquished the post in 1962. He was also honoured with the nation’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna. Dr. Prasad breathed his last on February 28, 1963.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is popularly known as a ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Iron Man of India’ because of his great deeds and contributions to the Indian freedom struggle and independent India. Truly a man of substance, Sardar patel was born on October 31, 1875 at Nadiad, Gujarat. His father, Jhaverbhai was a farmer and mother Laad Bai was a housewife. The early education of Sardar Vallabhai took place in Karamsad and he completed his high school in 1896. A brilliant student throughout his academic life, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel went on to become a lawyer and started legal practice in Godhra, Gujarat. He went to England for further studies and came back to India in 1913.

Vallabhbhai Patel soon established his name as a top notch lawyer but destiny had some other things planned for him.

Sardar Patel got heavily influenced by the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi. Soon the call of the nation made him join the freedom struggle. His works started with peasant movement in Kheda, Bardoli and other parts of Gujarat. He was also an active participant in the non-violent Civil Disobedience Movement against the payment of raised taxes. Government had to surrender to this revolt and since then he was known as the Sardar Patel. His involvement in the freedom movement saw him participating in Salt Satyagraha in Nagpur and Quit India Movement in 1942. Vallabhbhai Patel was also elected as the President of Indian National Congress in the year 1931.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel made historical contribution of gigantic proportions in post-independent India. After India was declared an independent country, he was appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Home Ministry in free India. During the time of freedom, India was divided into 565 princely states with their own Nawabs, Maharajas and rulers. Many of them wanted to become independent rulers and the task of uniting a divided India fell back on Sardar Patel’s battle hardened shoulders. He managed to convince majority of the rulers about the potential pitfalls and problems in case they try to act as sovereign rulers. He invoked the patriotism of India’s monarchs and ultimately managed to persuade almost all of them barring few exceptions. He also tackled the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of Junagarh who initially did not want to join India. The successful completion of this task got him great respect from all classes of Indian population. Sardar Patel died of cardiac arrest on December 15, 1950. Vallabhbhai Patel was conferred with Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1991 for his great services to the nation.

Bipin Chandra Pal was one of the members of famous troika of Lal-Bal-Pal. Considered as an extremist and aggressive freedom fighter, he was at the forefront of several revolutionary movements like burning western clothes, boycotting British goods and strikes and lockouts in the British owned businesses. He firmly believed that, this was the only way to throw out the British rulers from the country. Bipin Chandra Pal was a multi-talented personality. He was not only a freedom fighter but also a writer, orator, librarian, journalist and teacher. He represented the extreme wing of the Indian National Congress.

Bipin Chandra Pal was a brave freedom fighter who was one of the leaders of the first popular upsurge against British colonial policy in the 1905. The event was the partition of Bengal and he along with Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai fought valiantly against the division policies. Born on November 7, 1858 in Sylhet, Bipin Da, as he was fondly known as, was admitted to prestigious Presidency College in Calcutta. For some reasons, he could not complete his education and started his career as a headmaster. His first brush with nationalistic movement happened during his tenure as a librarian in Calcutta public library. He got to meet influential political leaders like B.K.Goswami, Shivnath Shashtri and S.N.Banerjee etc. These meetings changed his life forever and he entered into the world of politics.

Bipin Chandra Pal went to Britain for further study in comparative ideology. But soon enough, freedom calls made him come back to his birthplace and thereafter he played a vital role in the freedom struggle of India. He was a strong advocate of ‘swadeshi’ and ‘swaraj’. He tried to make people aware of their rights through his speeches, articles and journals.

He participated in almost all the crucial movements of first few decades in 1900s. Bipin Chandra Pal was an active participant in Bengal partition movement, Non-Cooperation Movement, Swadeshi movement and Bengal pact in 1923. His active contribution in spreading the virtues of nationalism among the Indian population can never be forgotten. He also wrote famous books like Indian Nationalism, The Soul of India, Nationality and Empire, The New Spirit and Studies in Hinduism, Swaraj and the Present Situation and The Basis of Social Reform. He died in 1932.

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Patriot and scholar, Bal Gangadhar Tilak knew no religion but believed in the unity of the country. His life was a saga of suffering and sacrifice for the sake of his country. He knew no respite from the lifelong battle he waged against the foreign ruler. He had famously declared, “Swaraj is my birth-right and I will have it”. This one statement had a ripple effect on the collective subconscious of Indian people.

Lokmanya Tilak was born on July 23, 1856 in Ratnagiri. He was the son of Gangadhar Pant and Parvatibai. ‘Bal’ was the loving name given to him by his mother that remained with him. He had his early education at Poona (Pune) city school and then, Deccan College. He also received the L.L.B. degree in 1879. In the meantime, he got married to Tapibaiin in 1871.

Tilak’s public life began as a teacher at New English School, Pune. The school was started by himself along with Vishnu Shastri. Lokmanya Tilak soon turned to Journalism and in 1881 started the English weekly Mahratta and Marathi weekly Kesari which he edited jointly with Agarkar. He was extremely proficient in subjects like religion, law and politics. His open and direct writing did not go down well with British authorities who sentenced him to a jail term on charge of defamation.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak started an arts college following the formation of Deccan Education society in 1885. Tilak attended the Bombay session of the Congress in 1889 as a representative of Pune. It was at this session that the trio, Lokmanya Tilak, Lajpat Rai, and B.C.Pal, popularly known as trio of Lal-Bal-Pal met. He attended the subsequent sessions of the Congress until the split between the moderates and extremists at the Surat session took place in 1907. Meanwhile he was also elected to the Bombay legislative Council in 1885 and 1887.

Tilak was arrested for sedition again, the main charge being that he attempted to excite feelings of disaffection to the government established by law in British India. He was sent to Mandalay jail in Burma, where he wrote his immortal commentary ‘Gita Rahasya’ on the Bhagvad Gita. In 1916, he started Home Rule League, which sought self rule. He also wrote ‘Arctic Home in the Vedas’ in 1903.

Lokmanya Tilak is credited to popularize Ganesha worship and Shivaji Jayanti as a social festival to unite the countrymen. He opposed the Age Of Consent Bill, terming it an act of interference with the Hinduism although he personally was against the child marriage. Tilak left for London to fight his case against Sir Valentine Chirol for defamation in his book ‘Indian Unrest’.

Tilak was chosen for the Presidentship of Congress in 1920. On July 28, 1920, Gandhiji announced the launching of the non-cooperation movement. On the same day the movement was to begin, Tilak passed away after a severe attack of Malaria. Among the bearers of the bier that carried this great son of India in his final journey, were Gandhiji, Maulana Shaukat Ali and Dr. Kitchlew.

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Subhas Chandra Bose was one of the most fearsome names among the British Rulers in pre-independence India. A legend and a great freedom fighter, Subhas Chandra Bose was popularly known as ‘Neta Ji (respected leader)’ because of his leadership qualities and almost religious devotion to India’s freedom struggle. Neta Ji’s entire life is punctuated with great deeds and exceptional freedom endeavours. Born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa, Neta Ji Subhas Chandra Bose was the ninth child of a famous lawyer Janaki Nath Bose and Prabhavati Devi. He was a brilliant student right from his childhood. He was a topper in the Matriculation examination from Calcutta province and graduated with First class. Later on, he went to England in 1919 and appeared for prestigious Indian Civil Service Examination and achieved fourth place on merit. But Jalianwalla massacre affected him deeply and he left his Civil services apprenticeship midway.
Neta ji came back to India in 1921 with a resolve to throw the British out of the country. He joined Indian National Congress and expressed his desire to serve the nation to Mahatma Gandhi. On instructions of Gandhi Ji, he joined Deshbandhu Chittaranjan das in Calcutta. He considered Deshbandhu as his political guru. Soon enough, Subhas Chandra Bose started to show his leadership skills and became a vital part of Congress party. He was an active participant in Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 and was sent to prison for his participation. After the suspension of the movement, he was released from the prison.
Neta Ji Subhas Chandra Bose was not convinced with Mahatma Gandhi’s method of achieving independence. He firmly believed that only way to attain independence was through armed revolution and by shedding blood. He formed his own party, Independence League and later on Forward Bloc. He quit Congress in protest to liberal policies of the party and started his own movement. Neta Ji was imprisoned several times because of his various revolutionary activities.
Life of Subash Chandra Bose was truly eventful. He approached Hitler for help against the British. Neta Ji organised Indian National Army and sought the help of Japan for military assistance. He famously said, “Tum mujhe khoon do, mein tumhe azadi dunga” (Give me your blood and I will give you freedom). He hosted the Indian National Flag in Kohima, Assam and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. But the defeat of Japan and Germany in Second World War forced Indian National Army to retreat. According to official details, Subash Chandra Bose was killed in a plane crash over Taiwan while flying to Tokyo on August 17, 1945 but not much information could be found about him afterwards.

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There were so many leading lights in India’s freedom struggle. India’s fight for independence was a united cause in which thousands of people participated and sacrificed their lives. Indian history is rich with such heroes who made incomparable contributions to the country’s freedom. Some of them are still remembered by us even after 60 plus years of achieving freedom. One such legendary fighter was Shaheed Bhagat Singh. He is credited to shape the grand nationalist movement of the country. He was a prominent revolutionary whose role in the freedom struggle of India cannot be measured with words. Born on September 27, 1907 at Banga in Lyallpur district to Kishan Singh and Vidya Vati, Bhagat Singh had patriotism in his blood. His father and uncle, both were great Indian freedom fighters who also served terms in prison for their active participation.
During his school days, Bhagat Singh had actively followed the Non-Cooperation Movement called by Mahatma Gandhi. He was ardent follower of Gandhi Ji’s philosophy until Bapu withdrew the movement in protest to Chauri Chaura incidents. Bhagat Singh was not convinced with this decision and aligned himself with Young Revolutionary Movement. Bhagat Singh flatly refused to marry to the girl of his family choice citing his passion for India’s freedom struggle. He joined various radical and revolutionary groups like Hindustan Republican Association, Kirti Kisan Party and Naujawan Bharat Sabha.
To avenge the death of leading freedom fighter Lala lajpat rai, he planned assassination of Scott, the Superintendent of Police who had ordered lathi charge that led to Lala Ji’s death. He mistook J.P.Saunders as Scott and killed him instead. He fled to Lahore and to hide his identity, he shaved his beard and cut his hair, against the tenets of Sikhism. After the formulation of Defence of India Act, he and his party members conspired to explode bombs inside the assembly premises. He along with Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb in the corridors of the assembly and shouted ‘Inquilab Zindabad’.
Bhagat Singh along with Rajguru and Sukhdev was charged with the murder. Singh was asked to tender apology but he refused and made strong statements against the British rule. Bhagat Singh was finally sentenced to death and was hanged in Lahore on March 23, 1931. He was regarded as a Shaheed (Martyr) by his supporters and followers. Indian film industry has made several wonderful films based on the eventful life of Bhagat Singh.

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