My book "The Bharatiya Swatantrya Samar - 1857 te Subhash" was first published in Marathi on the 10th May, 1957, on the occasion of the Centenary of the War of Indian Independence. It is a brief outline of the History of the armed struggle for Indian Independence which was carried on ceaselessly for ninety years. As a matter of fact, such a work ought to have been undertaken on the Governmental level. Once the Government of India intended to do it; but soon they changed their mind and they left the work undone; and now, for one reason or the other, it appears that they do not intend to do anything in that respect. Under these circumstances, my individual effort, though obviously a small-scale one has been much appreciated. Many of my friends, patriots, and historians, who came to know of this effort, before as well as after the Marathi publication, impressed upon me the necessity of its publication in other languages. Especially Senapati Bapat, that great revolutionary and Dr. V. M. Bhat convinced me of the desirability of its English translation so that the philosophy underlying it should become known to all. But I did not want its literal translation in English. I wanted someone, a close student of politics, and capable of weighing the events and movements in the struggle for Indian Independence, who would put in his all in the work of rendering my book into English. Such a friend I found in Shri S. S. Apte. I made him the request to which he readily responded. As a matter of fact Shri Apte is busily engaged in his news agency work, the Hindusthan Samachar. But in spite of that he took up this work and working ceaslessly finished it in about ten weeks time. He also made very valuable suggestions with a view to give it a kind of completeness. His obligations to me in this respect are beyond expression, and which he too may not like. I would only say in all gratefulness that these obligations should bear out with me all along my life.
When the manuscript was ready, I requested Shri Madhavraoji Golwalkar Guruji the chief of the R. S. S whom I hold in reverence to go through it. In spite of the great pressure of his multitudinous activities he accepted to do so and read the typed copy. Now with greater confidence, I am presenting this volume to the public. In this book, which deals with the history of the ninety years armed struggle for Indian Independence, there are many references to the revolutionaries who have now turned communists. Especially in Bengal, the revolutionaries and their activities are under the spell of Communism. Barring men like Swatantrya-Veer Savarkar, Ras Bihari Basu, Lala Har Dayal, Bhai Parmanand, Dr. Hedgewar and some others, almost all the revolutionaries appear to have been influenced by the Communist philosophy. The main reason seems to be that these revolutionaries and other patriots were completely ignorant of the true spirit of Indian nationalism. They hated the foreign domination and were ready to make any sacrifices for the motherland. But they were not acquainted with the constructive side of Indian nationalism. Atleast they had no idea of its scientific basis. The well-known revolutionary Shri Yashpal has admitted this fact in his auto-biography. It was quite natural therefore, that they should look at the highly successful Russian revolution for inspiration. These young Indian revolutionaries believed that the success of the Russian revolution was due to the scientific outlook of the Communist way of life.
Themselves, they had no philosophy of their own. They had only pursued the path of revolution, known to history. Those in Russia who had followed the historically-proved revolutionary ways successfully, had a philosophy based on the so-called science. Naturally, the Indian patriots were attracted to that philosophy to which cause they related the success of the Russian revolution; and themselves being completely ignorant of the Indian philosophy of nationalism, they fell prey to communism. Those of them who had the realisation of the spirit of Indian nationalism, did not move an inch from their path. Swatantrya-Veer Savarkar, Dr. Hedgewar, and Ras Bihari Basu are instances in the point.
Indian nationalism and Hindu nationalism are one and tile same thing. Philosophically it being the most complete and consummate, they firmly held that Bharat has no necessity to seek for philosophy eleswhere. After a careful study of the revolutionary activities, Dr. Hedgewar came to realise that that movement lacked the philosophic basis and therefore he himself decided to undertake the work of nation-building on the sound basis of Indian Philosophy of Nationalism. With this end in view he started the R. S. S. movement.
He had already discovered the truth that even for revolutions, there was greater and more imperative need of a strong, country- wide, disciplined organisation of youths backed by the sympathetic people, who believed in the ideology and would be prepared to stand by it, in all the stress and strain. He, therefore, decided to raise a volunteer organisation throughout the country, to ingrain in the followers a scientific ideology of the nationhood, to train them in body and mind, to create in them a sense and spirit of Hindu Brotherhood, based upon the unity of religion, culture, social and economic order consistent with past history and then to hold out to them the hope of future destiny of freedom, peace and prosperity of the nation. It was for this that he set his hands and head to create a national organisation that would be invincible against any enemy. This was the process of cogitation which gave birth to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the year 1925. In my opinion it is 'Swatantrya' (independence) that was the prime motive for which the Sangh was founded. It was to give a powerful push to the British rule in India, to strangle every vein and nerve of the foreign administration at some favourable hour, not in. the distant future, that the Sangh was founded.
Thus it will be seen that a leader of the revolutionaries himself came to realise the basic defects in their movements and tried to remove them and lay the solid foundation of a great and powerful nationhood. The only message of this ninety-years struggle for Indian Independence is self-sacrifice and devotion in the effort at the building up of Indian nationhood based on Indian philosophy. This is the message of the time and it is hoped that it reaches and reverberates all the nooks and corners of all the constituents of Indian nationhood.
This volume is an English rendering of the Marathi book 'From 1857 to Subhash' written by Shri Balshastri Hardas. Shri Balshastri is a scholar of repute, a powerful speaker, who has captivated innumerable hearers all over the country by his original exposition of the Ramayana, the Mahabharat and the Vedas with special reference to the concept of our Nationhood. He has made a special study of the history of the armed struggle for freedom beginning with the 1857 revolution and coming to a close with the grand attempt of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Out of this study, he has brought out this book bringing into light many a great effort, sacrifice, heroism and numberless patriotic virtues practised by great souls who, following the terrible path of revolution, willingly and joyfully laid down their lives for freedom and glory of the Motherland. This epic struggle has produced a galaxy of brilliant patriots, whose qualities of head and heart shall ever remain beackon lights to the coming generation, leading them on the path to the service of the Nation.
Unfortunately much of this history has been all but lost for during the actual British rule. It was almost sedition to remember these heroes and their deeds-what happened to the History of 1857 War of Independence by Swatantrya-Veer Savarkar is known to all-and now when the governance of the country has come to indigenous hands once more, these names and deeds of those heroes are condemned as if they were some heinous criminals unworthy of being remembered. Always such injustice is done when people in authority love their party and programmes, faiths and professions• more than the country, the people, the Nation and the National heritage. As a result no serious attempt has been made to unravel the story of our armed fight for independence.
But it is beyond all doubt that whatever little semblance of freedom has been achieved, has been a sum total effect of all the various movements from the comparatively mild activities of the liberals to the terrible erruptions of violent revolutionary movements, the last being not the least important. Indeed' 'if we are to believe what the departed foreign rulers themselves have said, it is Netaji' s invasion at the head of the I. N. A. followed by the countrywide revolts in all arms of the fence forces which gave the last and effective blow under which the foreign domination crumbled into dust. As such it has been an unpardonable sin in our leaders and scholars to have neglected this glorious chapter of our struggle for freedom. This book, in a great measure, atones for that failing and presents to our countrymen a connected story of the seemingly unconnected and sporadic uprisings all over the land, during this long period of ninety years.
But the original book is in Marathi and thus only a limited section of our countrymen can benefit by it. It is, therefore, at the request of some worthies that the idea of bringing out an English rendering of the same took root and due to the perseverent labour of our friend Shri S. S. Apte, this English version is being presented to the public. Translation is always a difficult job. And it can seldom be expected to bring out the finer shades of sentiments' manifesting in the original. All the same the present effort can be said to have brought out the whole sense and sentiment in a very readable form. I believe our English knowing brethren will appreciate the difficulty of the task:-for Balshastri's diction is extremely dignified and of a very high order and so defies perfect translation, -and read this inspiring book with gratitude to Shri Apte, who had been at such pains to render it into English and made this inspiring chapter of our history available to a wide range of readers all over the country.
Histories have to be studied not out of blind faith and regard for all that our predecessors did, but to know and understand their good points and failings, the right and wrong of their policies and practice of the same, the virtues and vices they manifested and to take inspiration and guidance from what is best and a lesson from what they lacked in, to avoid all that resulted in failures and frustrations and thus proceed more unerringly on the path to progress. This History abounds in incidents and characters stirring our admiration and regard, inspiring and enthusing us to great deeds, abounds in examples of unreserved sacrifice, nobility, devotion to the cause, burning patriotism and we have to imbibe all those qualities from these examples of our past. But it also exhibits lack of discipline, restraint, co-ordination and a positive grasp of our National life and thus a real dedication to its resurgent resulting in so many cases of betrayal, dissidence and treachery which foiled all the attempts of the revolutionary organisations and landed them into despair and frustration.
This is a review of that thrilling history of the ninety years' war of Indian Independence which commenced on May 10, 1857 with the slogan 'Moro Firangi ko' (down with the White Man) and ended in the successful liquidation of the British Empire in India as a result of the irresistible storm raised by the great Captain Subhash Chandra Bose. In fact, a comprehensive history detailing the real facts of this ninety years crusade against the British rule is very much the need of the times. In my endeavour in that direction, I have already brought out the first volume as my contribution in writing the history of this eventful period. I hope to complete the work as time permits. But the l0 of May, 1957 has a sacred significance. On this holy day it becomes our duty to worship the memories of all the generals and soldiers of this ninety-year War of our Independence. It is with that sentiment that I dedicate this volume in memoriam to the achievements, sacrifice and heroism of all those who lived and died for the freedom of our nation.
The history of this War of Independence is the saga of innumerable armed fights in the open fields and the guerrilla warfare carried on all over the Country. It need not, however, be supposed that we belittle all other movements like the 'swadeshi', boycott, national education etc. sponsored by the late Lokmanya Tilak, and the agitation for non-co-operation, civil disobedience, resulting in the 'Quit India' slogan of 1942 and the 'satyagraha' initiated by Mahatma Gandhi. In no sense can all these be ignored as mean efforts. We admit that these have to be given their due credit as effective contribution to the general endeavour. The story of these movements has already been written in consistent and comprehensive manner. To some extent the authors have given them more than their due credit and place in the saga of the fight for freedom. What has not been attempted yet is the history of the armed struggle against the British power and the assessment of its real value and share in the achievement of freedom. Even to this day there seems to be no great change in the attitude and approach of historians and the rulers, who hold the power to mould the destiny of Bharat. To atone for this unjustifiable indifference, I present this volume on the centenary day as my humble individual contribution with deep sense of gratitude to the secred memories of the 'soldiers' and 'senapatis' who carried on the ninety-year war of Independence.
The truth is, everyone has his share of credit in the regaining of Indian freedom. As such, it would be wrong for the armed revolutionaries to claim exclusively the victory in the long struggle. It is equally mistaken on the part of non-violent agitators and fighters to arrogate all success to themselves. Happily, the pioneers of armed struggle have never said so. The ace of revolutionaries, Swatantrya-Veer Savarkar, speaking on the occasion of the winding-up ceremony of his revolutionary organisation, the Abhinav Bharat, explained his view-point thus:
"Those who could do nothing for want of capacity and courage, more than mere offering of flowers at the feet of the Mother, with a prayer 'let my Motherland be free', have indeed a place and a share in the regaining of our freedom. How can anyone then say, that the civil resisters, the Satyagrahis, and all those patriots, who strived in many other ways to awaken the masses have made no contribution?”
This outlook of Swatantrya-Veer Savarkar clearly represents the attitude of the revolutionaries. As against this, the predatory effort of the non-violent agitators and satyagrahis to claim all credit to themselves denying it to the patriots who followed other ways is not only wrong but ignoble. It is with this vilifying intention that after the introduction of the much boosted theory of "the purity of ends and means" in the year 1920, the ways and means of the "believers in armed revolution" came to be denounced as violent.
The Motherland in chains! The Mother with her crown of silvery snows of Himalaya, adorned by the girdle of the Vindhya ranges, with Her feet constantly washed by the blue waters of the Hindu Mahasagar, standing on the noblest pedestal as would become the Guru of the world, She who revealed to humanity the secret of the divine life and gave the panacea of peace - this our Mother Bharat clapped in chains! Her crown had crumbled; Her throne had been shattered.
What a shameful sight for her sons! Those, who could not bear the ignominious spectacle of the humiliation of their Mother, rose in arms to destroy the wicked perpetrators of that national insult. And these to be labelled as rebels, and traitors, irreligious and immoral? Surely there cannot be any worse instance of intellectual bankruptcy of those soulless dull brains who attempt to disparage these brave sons of Bharat Mata. It is indeed an irony of fate that all sense of honour and gratitude should have disappeared for those who died on the battle-fields or were hanged on the gallows for the freedom of their Mother, and who, while dying uttered with their last breath, unforgettable words of their unflinching faith in freedom, mind well, at a time, when the whole nation was as if trapped in a maze of intellectual confusion. Now after the attainment of freedom, having obtained the privilege of holding the reins of government, these secterian rulers have begun to exploit the mighty government machinery for the false propaganda that freedom was the fruit only of their non-violent struggle. It will be hard to find out any other example of so flagrant and systematic mockery of the matter and method in writing a history. It is amusing to recall how a pseudo-writer in his effort to win favour from the ruling party went to such an absurd length of vouchsafing that while Sardar Udham Singh shot to kill Sir Michael O'Dwyer, his mind was indeed overwhelmed by the superiority of non- violent means. Are we to understand that the statement of Sardar Udham Singh himself is wrong and that the psycho-analysis of a waggler who confines himself within four walls to write a book for reward or for inclusion in the approved list of school curricula, is right?
The civil resisters who strived to awaken the masses are indeed entitled to a share in the credit. But beyond doubt, more credit is due to those who participated in the actual armed struggle for freedom. In the real analysis of the causes and events which brought about the achievement of independence, an impartial judge will have to assign the foremost place to the, armed struggle.
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