The true history of Bharat’s freedom movement is still shrouded in mystery. Bit by bit, we are slowly seeing glimpses of the past that was hidden by the erstwhile Congress-dominated Governments, such as the recently declassified Netaji Subas Chandra Bose files. It is another matter that our history textbooks, in urgent need of revision, still continue teaching the old, discredited and lopsided view of history.
Not many know about Shyamji Krishna Varma, born on 4 October, 1857 – the year of Bharat’s First War of Independence from brutal British rule – who is considered to be one of the first freedom fighters to demand full independence and home rule for Bharat.
We reproduce a blog written in 2014 by Suryah SG, Vice President BJP Youth Wing Tamil Nadu, to commemorate this great man.
I would like to bring to young Bharat’s notice a Bharatiya revolutionary freedom fighter Shri Shyamji Krishna Varma. We shall try to know a little about the life of Shyamji Krishna Varma as documented.
Upon Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s inspiration, he set up a base in England and called that building ‘India House’. Shyamji was also an admirer of Lokmanya Tilak. In 1896 he decided to support the war of Independence from outside Bharat and left for England.
In 1905, Shyamji made his debut in Bharatiya politics by publishing the first issue of his English monthly, “The Indian Sociologist” an organ of freedom and of political, social and religious reform. In the same year he founded “The Indian Home Rule Society”. He officially declared open “India House” at 65 Cromwell Avenue, High Gate as a living accommodation for Bharatiya students in England.
Due to increasing pressure form the British Government, Shyamji left Britain and arrived in Paris. In 1909 his degree of Barrister was taken back. The British Government sealed ‘India House’ after Madanlal Dhingra was sentenced to death. Publication of “The Indian Sociologist” was shifted to Paris.
Shyamji’s work in Paris helped gain support for Bharat’s Independence from European countries. Then in 1914 Shyamji shifted his headquarters to Geneva. Here the Swiss government imposed political restrictions on him during the entire period of World War I. He kept in touch with his contacts, but he could not support them directly. In 1920 he opened the publication of “The Indian Sociologist” after a lapse of 6 years.
News of his death was suppressed by the British government in Bharat. Nevertheless tributes were paid to him by Sardar Bhagat Singh and his co-revolutionist brothers in Lahore Jail where they were undergoing a long-term drawn-out trial. Maratha, a daily newspaper started by Lokmanya Tilak in Marathi, paid a very touching tribute to him as a great revolutionary.
Pandit Shyamji Krishna Varma did not live to witness the independence of Bharat but his confidence in Bharat gaining its freedom from British rule in the future was so strong that he made prepaid arrangements with the local government of Geneva and St. Georges cemetery to preserve his and his wife’s asthis (ashes) at the cemetery for 100 years and to send their urns to Bharat whenever it became independent during that period.
The Modi Connection
The Congress Party who took over control of Bharat at the end of British rule did not bother to pursue the matter of bringing his ashes home for sectarian reasons. Finally, it took 56 years after Independence for Mr. Narendra Modi to succeed in reclaiming the urns of Pandit Shyamji and his wife Bhanumati, which were officially handed over to him on 22 August 2003 by the Swiss Government. However Narendra Modi’s efforts were assisted by various other eminent people like Mangal Lakhamshi Bhanushali, Trustee of Krishna Varma Foundation, Kirit Somaiya, BJP Leader, Hemantkumar Padhya, Founder of Hindu Swatantryavir Smruti Sansthanam, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom and Vinod Khanna, BJP Leader.
Modi eventually ordered the construction of a memorial to Shyamji in Mandvi. Modi named the memorial as “Kranti Teerath” (meaning – a revolutionary pilgrimage destination).
He laid the foundation stone of the memorial on 4th October 2009 and dedicated it to the nation on 13th December 2010. Recreating the life and times of Shyamji, Kranti Teerth is home to many memorial exhibits paying tributes to the heroes of our freedom struggle. ‘India House’, which holds a special place in the history of Bharat’s freedom struggle, has been recreated at Kranti Teerth.
On his visit to Kranti Teerath, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay remarked in his book “Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times” – “I did go visiting Kranti Teerath and was impressed with it. The memorial drew a fair sprinkling of tourists”.
Now this brings us to the moot point. How many of us really know about Shyamji Krishna Varma? Doesn’t this vindicate the stand of Narendra Modi, which he spelt out time and again, about the need to present the true history of Bharat’s freedom struggle? This distortion has happened because some of us are still stuck in the colonial mindset while for some this nation is nothing beyond a piece of land. Similarly, he has stressed on the need to move beyond viewing history in the prism of the sacrifices and glories of only one family.
Even the “Kranti Teerth” website is wonderfully maintained and is frequently updated. The website induces the visitors to make a visit to the place. One interesting feature of this website, other than beautifully documenting the life of Shyamji, is the option of E-Shradhanjali wherein you can pay tributes to Shyamji Krishna Varma and Bhanumati Krishna Varma’s asthis by offering ‘E-flowers’.
We are thankful to Suresh Nakhua, BJP Mumbai spokesperson and also a descendant of Shyamji Krishna Varma, for sharing a lot of valuable information about this forgotten hero in this tweet thread.
Here is a video about the great man –
Finally, we would also like to point out that Professor Monier Williams, who Shyamji joined as an assistant in Oxford, was one among a band of Western Indologists who used native Sanksrit scholars like Shyamji to further their goal of distorting Hindu Dharma and spreading Christianity in Bharat. One can refer to our article series ‘Western Indologists – A Study in Motives‘ for more details on this subject.
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