Bharat has waged a grim struggle for over 1300 years against those who aimed to not just loot & plunder our wealth, but eradicate our civilization from the face of the earth.
When we talk of the freedom struggle, modern historians refer only to the fight against the British colonizers. The distorted idea of Nehruvian ‘secularism’ keeps us away from openly acknowledging the heroic resistance put up by our ancestors against the fanatical Islamic hordes that periodically invaded this land from Arabia, Central Asia, Turkey and Persia.
When celebrated ‘public intellectuals’ like Ramachandra Guha portray two of our brightest heroes, Chatrapati Shivaji and Maharana Pratap as mere “regional figures”, it goes to show that we might have won our physical freedom from the colonizers to a large degree, but mentally we are still severely colonized.
Even when it comes to the freedom struggle against the British, we have a skewed view of events. There is very little known of the period from 1757 to 1857, when the British East India company plundered the country, and slowly, but surely, gobbled up large parts of the country through deception and war. For eg., most of us know little about the 3 Anglo-Maratha wars or the 2 Anglo-Sikh wars, which resulted in the fall of the two empires (Maratha and Sikh) that had all but obliterated the previous foreign colonizers (Mughals) who ruled over Bharat.
We know next to nothing about the destruction wreaked on ordinary Bharatiya farmers and others, which triggered the mass immigration of around 1 million indentured laborers (‘Girmitiyas‘) to colonial plantations in Fiji, Carribean and Africa, forced to work there in slave-like conditions even after slavery had been allegedly abolished by the ‘enlightened’ British.
And while we thankfully do remember the revolt of 1857 and its leading lights like Rani Lakshmibai, our ‘educated’ class is still confused whether to call it a ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ as the British do, or the ‘First War of Independence’.
We have been led to believe that the freedom struggle started in right earnest only after Gandhi returned to Bharat from South Africa in 1915 and started the non-cooperation movement a few years later. The revolutionary energy coursing through the length & breadth of the country in the period from 1900 – 1920 has been all but forgotten. The role played by Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA (Indian National Army) and the 1946 Naval War Mutiny in finally pushing the British out has been systematically downplayed.
When we look at the 20th century freedom fighters, there is a clear hierarchy that has been seared into our collective consciousness through academia, Government and popular culture.
- At the top, Tier 1, we have one man above all else – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He is the ‘father of the nation’ – the man who galvanized the masses using the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence) to bring about a change of heart in the British imperialists, or so we are told. There is just no objective analysis of Gandhi’s ideas in our official records, no rational study of the good and bad outcomes of his policies, no enquiry into why a man with such a troubling personal life is looked upon as a Mahatma (spiritually evolved soul) and not just as a political leader.
- Tier 2 is also occupied for just one man, Jawaharlal Nehru – hand-picked by Gandhi to become the first PM of the country, overruling the majority decision of other Congress leaders who had chosen the far more experienced, grassroots leader Sardar Vallabhai Patel. After Gandhi’s assassination, Nehru ruled Bharat with an iron-grip, proudly expressing his scorn for our civilizational roots when he identified himself as the last “Englishman to rule India”. With such a man as Prime Minister for the crucial first 17 years after Independence, it is no wonder that many Indians still think British colonial rule was ‘good for the country.’
- Tier 3 is reserved for leaders who have been given secondary status by the Marxist historians who wrote our history after Independence. It consists of people like Subhash Chandra Bose, BR Ambedkar, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Lokmanya Tilak, Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, Chandrashekhar Azad etc. Their names are still remembered but many of their thoughts and ideas, which do not fit the Nehruvian secularist worldview, have been kept hidden from the public. This group also includes leaders like controversial Islamic scholar Maulana Abul Kalam Azad whose true intentions behind opposing the partition have been masked.
- Tier 4 is for those freedom fighters who are reviled, or just plain forgotten because they were out & out revolutionaries and as such anathema to the Gandhians who want the country to believe that ahimsa won us our freedom. Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad are the only violent revolutionaries who seem to have stayed on in public memory, but not due to any lack of effort on the part of Marxist historians who are still trying to get them labeled as ‘terrorists’. And one figure is reviled above all else by the Nehruvians and Marxists – Vinayak Damodar Savarkar – for he dared proclaim an ideology steeped in this country’s civilizational roots.
This group of forgotten heroes also includes the spiritual seers who reminded a brutalized people about the glory of Dharma, and who countered the malicious intellectual propaganda that mentally colonized generations of our countrymen – figures like Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Shraddhanand, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya etc. Here again, Swami Vivekananda is an exception whose vision & sheer eloquence couldn’t be suppressed by the secularists, but they are still trying to label him as a ‘Hindu supremacist’.
The list of names of the forgotten freedom fighters is too many for one article to cover, so we will just mention a few – Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Velu Nachiyar, Birsa Munda, Alluri Sitaram Raju, Tirot Singh, Bagha Jatin, V.O.Chidambaram Pillai, Shyamji Krishna Varma, Bipin Chandra Pal, trio of Benoy Badal Dinesh, Khudiram Bose, Pasumpon Thevar, Chittaranjan Das, Chapekar Brothers, Rani Gaidinliu, Lala Har Dayal and many, many more.
Other forgotten heroes include those like Gopal Patha, who ensured that hard won freedom was not frittered away to the enemy within.
So this Independence Day, let us pledge to remember those forgotten and unfairly maligned freedom fighters, who looked a brutal, supremacist, cunning enemy in the eye & fought till the last drop of blood; who kept our civilizational memory alive when all seemed lost; who believed and lived Dharma, so that we could continue striving for the final freedom which is yet to be won – the unshackling of our minds.
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