Chapter-13

Initial Phase of Revolutionary Action

Arora IAS Class Notes

Surge of Revolutionary Activity:

  • Fallout of the Swadeshi and Boycott Movement.
  • Frustration with failed leadership (both Moderate and Extremist) to find new forms of struggle.
  • Government repression closing peaceful avenues of protest.
  • Belief in forceful expulsion of British as the only path to independence.

Revolutionary Program:

  • Not aiming for mass revolution or subversion of the army (initially).
  • Inspired by Russian nihilists and Irish nationalists.
  • Methods:
    • Assassinations of officials, traitors, and informers.
    • “Swadeshi dacoities” (armed robberies) to fund activities.
    • Military conspiracies during World War I (seeking enemy help).
  • Goals:
    • Terrorize rulers.
    • Arouse the people and remove fear of authority.
    • Inspire mass action through individual acts of heroism.
  • Missed Opportunity:
    • Extremist leaders failed to offer a clear ideological alternative, allowing individualistic violence to take root.

 

A Survey of Revolutionary Activities (Pre-WWI & WWI)

Bengal:

  • Early 20th Century: Rise of revolutionary groups (Anushilan Samiti, Jugantar Party).
  • 1906-1907:
    • Newspapers advocated violence (Yugantar).
    • Secret societies formed (Rashbehari Bose, Sachin Sanyal).
    • Abortive attempt to assassinate Sir Fuller (Lt. Governor).
  • 1907-1908:
    • Bomb thrown at carriage targeting British judge (Prafulla Chaki, Khudiram Bose).
    • Alipore Conspiracy Case (Aurobindo Ghosh acquitted, Barindra Ghosh sentenced).
  • 1909-1910:
    • Public prosecutor and police officer assassinated in Calcutta.
    • Barrah dacoity (fundraising for revolutionaries).
  • 1912: Bomb attack on Viceroy Hardinge in Delhi (Rashbehari Bose, Sachin Sanyal).
  • WWI:
    • Jugantar Party planned “German Plot” (arms import, uprising).
    • Jatindranath Mukherjee (“Bagha Jatin”) led the effort.
    • “Taxicab” and “boat dacoities” for funding.
    • Plot leaked, revolutionaries confronted police in Balasore (Jatin Mukherjee killed).

Impact:

  • Substantial legacy of Swadeshi Bengal.
  • Inspired educated youth for a generation.
  • Overemphasis on Hinduism alienated Muslims.
  • Limited by lack of mass involvement and narrow social base.
  • Ultimately unsuccessful against state repression.

Maharashtra

  • Early Activity (1879):
    • Vasudev Balwant Phadke formed Ramosi Peasant Force.
    • Aimed for armed revolt and disruption of communication lines.
    • Suppressed prematurely.
  • 1890s:
    • Bal Gangadhar Tilak promoted militant nationalism through festivals and journals.
    • Chapekar brothers assassinated British officials (1897).
  • Late 19th-Early 20th Century:
    • Savarkar brothers and others formed secret societies (Mitra Mela, Abhinav Bharat).
    • Anant Kanhere assassinated British official (1909).
    • Savarkar sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiracy.

Punjab

  • Fuel for Extremism:
    • Famines, rising taxes, exploitation by landlords.
    • Influence of events in Bengal.
  • Early Leaders:
    • Lala Lajpat Rai (Newspaper: Punjabee)
    • Ajit Singh (Anjuman-i-Mohisban-i-Watan, Bharat Mata journal)
    • Others: Aga Haidar, Syed Haider Raza, Bhai Parmanand, Lalchand Falak
  • Government Crackdown (1907):
    • Ban on meetings, deportation of leaders (Lajpat Rai, Ajit Singh).
  • WWI and Beyond:
    • Ajit Singh and others became revolutionaries.
    • Rashbehari Bose involved in Ghadr Revolution.
    • Collaboration with Bengal on all-India uprising plans.
    • Bose escaped to Japan after failed revolution (1915).

 

Revolutionary Activities Abroad

Motivations:

  • Escape British censorship (Press Acts).
  • Publish revolutionary literature (“India House”).
  • Secure arms for rebellion.

Centers:

  • London (1905): “India House” by Shyamji Krishnavarma.
    • Members: Savarkar, Hardayal (later deemed too dangerous).
    • Assassination of British official (Madanlal Dhingra, 1909).
  • Paris and Geneva: Madam Bhikaji Cama (“Bande Mataram” journal), Ajit Singh.
  • Berlin (post-1909): Virendranath Chattopadhyaya.

 

The Ghadr Party (1913):

  • Base: San Francisco (branches along US/Canadian west coast).
  • Members: Mainly Punjabi ex-soldiers and peasants seeking work abroad.
  • Leaders: Lala Hardayal, Ramchandra, Bhagwan Singh, Kartar Singh Saraba, Barkatullah, Bhai Parmanand.
  • Goals:
    • Assassinations of officials.
    • Anti-imperialist publications.
    • Incite rebellion among Indian troops abroad.
    • Procure arms.
    • Simultaneous revolt in all British colonies.

 

The Komagata Maru Incident (1914):

  • Ship carrying Punjabi immigrants denied entry to Canada.
  • Returned to India, sparking outrage.

Ghadr Activity in WWI:

  • Encouraged by Komagata Maru and war.
  • Recruited fighters in India (Rashbehari Bose, Sachin Sanyal).
  • Political dacoities for funding (targeted moneylenders in some cases).
  • Planned armed revolt (February 1915) foiled by leaks.

British Crackdown:

  • Defence of India Act (1915): detentions, harsh sentences, court-martials.
  • Leaders arrested, deported, or hanged.
  • Rashbehari Bose fled to Japan.

Evaluation of Ghadr:

  • Spread secular militant nationalism.
  • Failed to achieve lasting success due to:
    • Lack of organized leadership.
    • Insufficient preparation (organization, ideology, finances, tactics).
    • Hardayal’s limitations as an organizer.

 

Revolutionaries in Europe (WWI)

  • Berlin Committee (1915):
    • Founded by Virendranath Chattopadhyay, Bhupendranath Dutta, Lala Hardayal (with German support).
    • Aimed to mobilize Indian citizens abroad for rebellion.
    • Sent missions to western Asia to incite anti-British sentiment.
    • Established a “provisional Indian government” in Kabul.

Mutiny in Singapore (1915)

  • Punjabi Muslim soldiers (5th Light Infantry, 36th Sikh battalion) rebelled.
  • Led by Jamadar Chisti Khan, Jamadar Abdul Gani, Subedar Daud Khan.
  • Crushed by British forces (many killed).
  • 37 executed, 41 imprisoned for life.

Important Leaders

1.Rash Behari Bose (1886-1945)

Early Life and Education

  • Born: 1886, Subaldaha village, Bardhaman District, West Bengal
  • Studied at Dupleix College, Chandernagore (French colony)

Revolutionary Activities

  • Influenced by French Revolution ideals
  • Mastermind behind assassination attempt on Viceroy Lord Hardinge (1912)
  • Associated with Ghadar movement (WWI)
  • Fled to Japan (1915) and founded Indian Independence League (1942)

Marriage and Later Life

  • Married a Japanese woman and became a Japanese citizen (1923)
  • Instrumental in appointing Subhash Chandra Bose as President of Indian National Army (INA)
  • Awarded ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ by Japan

Death: 1945 (tuberculosis)

 

  1. Sachindra Nath Sanyal (1893-1942)

Revolutionary Activities

  • Founded Hindustan Republican Association (HRA, later HSRA) for armed resistance against British rule
  • Involved in Ghadar Conspiracy (WWI)
  • Close associate of Rash Behari Bose
  • Considered India’s most senior revolutionary leader after Bose’s escape
  • Mentor to Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh

Beliefs

  • Known for his strong Hindu beliefs despite many Marxist followers
  • Debated Mahatma Gandhi on gradualism vs. revolution (1920-1924)

Imprisonment and Writings

  • Sentenced to life for Kakori conspiracy
  • Imprisoned twice in Cellular Jail (Port Blair)
  • Authored “Bandi Jeevan” (A Life of Captivity) while imprisoned

 

  1. Barin Ghosh (1880-1959)

Early Life and Influences

  • Born: Croydon, England (1880)
  • Family:
    • Younger brother of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh
    • Son of Dr. Krishnadhan Ghosh and Swarnalata Devi (daughter of Rajnarayan Basu)
  • Education: Deoghar school, Patna College
  • Military training: Baroda
  • Influenced by Aurobindo and drawn to revolutionary movement

Revolutionary Activities

  • Founded Jugantar, a Bengali revolutionary weekly (1906)
  • Co-founded Jugantar, a revolutionary organization (1906)
  • Recruited revolutionaries with Jatindranath Banerjee
  • Involved in Maniktala group for bomb making and arms collection
  • Arrested after Alipore Bomb Case (1908)
  • Sentenced to life imprisonment, later commuted (1908)
  • Briefly escaped Cellular Jail (1915), recaptured later

Later Life and Activities

  • Released from Cellular Jail (1920)
  • Became a journalist in Kolkata
  • Formed an ashram and published memoirs
  • Influenced by Aurobindo towards spirituality (1923)
  • Returned to journalism in Kolkata (1929)
  • Edited The Dawn of India and Dainik Basumati
  • Died in Kolkata (1959)

 

  1. Prafulla Chaki: (1888-1908)

Early Life and Influences

  • Born: 1888, Bihar village, Bogra district (present-day Bangladesh)
  • Education: Rangpur National School (exposed to revolutionary ideas)

Revolutionary Activities

  • Joined Jugantar party under Barin Ghosh
  • Attempted assassination of Sir Joseph Bampfylde Fuller (unsuccessful)
  • Threw bomb at carriage mistaken for Kingsford’s (mistaken identity, killed civilians)
  • Fled with Khudiram Bose, took refuge with railway worker Triguna Charan Ghosh

Death and Aftermath

  • Committed suicide by gunshot to avoid capture by police inspector Nandalal Banerjee
  • Head severed for identification by Khudiram, who was later captured
  • Nandalal Banerjee assassinated by revolutionaries Srishh Pal and Ranen Ganguly

 

  1. Jatindranath Mukherjee “Bagha Jatin”: (1879-1915)

Early Life and Influences

  • Born: 1879, Jhenaidha district, Bengal
  • Nickname: “Bagha Jatin” (earned for killing a tiger)
  • Influenced by:
    • Sister Nivedita (Irish disciple of Swami Vivekananda)
    • Bhagavad Gita, writings of Bankim Chandra
    • Aurobindo Ghosh’s Bhavani Mandir
    • Swami Vivekananda

Revolutionary Activities

  • Founded Chhatra Bhandar (student organization as a front for revolutionaries)
  • Mentored young revolutionaries, including M.N. Roy
  • Arrested and acquitted in Alipore Bomb Case (1908)
  • Arrested and acquitted in Howrah Conspiracy Case (1911)
  • Networked with overseas revolutionaries

German Connection and Martyrdom

  • Saw WWI as an opportunity for rebellion against British
  • Sought German arms and support for a socialist uprising (1914)
  • N. Roy tasked with acquiring German weapons
  • Died of wounds sustained in a shootout with British police (1915)

 

  1. Shyamji Krishna Varma: (1857-1930)

Early Life and Influences

  • Born: October 4, 1857, Mandvi, Gujarat
  • Scholar of Sanskrit and other languages
  • Inspired by: Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Herbert Spencer

Revolutionary Activities in London

  • Founded:
    • Indian Home Rule Society
    • India House
    • The Indian Sociologist (magazine promoting nationalist ideas)
  • Criticized British rule in India
  • Inspired young Indians like Veer Savarkar

Legal Troubles and Exile

  • Barred from practicing law in London (1905) on sedition charges
  • Posthumously reinstated by Inner Temple (2015)
  • Shifted base to Paris, then Geneva

Later Life and Legacy

  • Died: March 30, 1930, Geneva, Switzerland

 

  1. Lala Har Dayal: (1884-1939)

Early Life and Education

  • Born: 1884, Delhi
  • Brilliant student: graduated from St. Stephen’s College (Delhi) and Punjab University (Sanskrit)
  • Awarded scholarships to Oxford but abandoned them for revolutionary ideals

Revolutionary Activities

  • Influenced by Shyamji Krishna Varma, V.D. Savarkar, and Madame Cama
  • Advocated for armed struggle against British rule
  • Founded the Ghadar Party (1913)
  • Arrested in the US for promoting anarchism

Later Life and Legacy

  • Lived in exile (Europe, US)
  • Became a professor of Indian philosophy in Sweden
  • Died in Philadelphia (1939)
  • Honored by India Post with a commemorative stamp (1987)

 

  1. Madam Bhikaji Cama: (1861-1936)

Early Life and Background

  • Born: September 24, 1861 to Sorabji Framji Patel and Jaijibai Sorabai Patel
  • Wealthy Parsi family

Freedom Fighter and Activist

  • Prosecuted Indian independence in England
  • First to hoist an Indian flag(designed with Vinayak Savarkar) in Germany (1907)
  • Founded Paris Indian Society with M.B. Godrej and S.R. Rana
  • Empowered women through campaigns and exhibitions
  • Arrested for inciting Indian troops in Bordeaux (WWI)
  • Authored and distributed revolutionary publications (“Bande Mataram”, “Madan’s Talwar”)

Legacy and Recognition

  • Streets and places named after her in Indian cities
  • Commemorative stamp issued on Republic Day (1962)
  • Indian Coast Guard vessel named ICGS Bhikaji Cama (1997)

 

9.Veer Savarkar(1883-1966)

Early Life and Revolutionary Activities

  • Founded Abhinav Bharat Society, a secret revolutionary group (1904)
  • Involved with India House and Free India Society in London (1906)
  • Authored books on 1857 Sepoy Mutiny and Hindu identity (“Hindutva”)

Trials and Imprisonment

  • Arrested for links to revolutionary activities (1909, 1910)
  • Convicted of abetment to murder and sentenced to cellular jail (Kala Pani) in Andaman (1911)

Later Life and Death

  • President of Hindu Mahasabha (1937-1943) – Hindu nationalist organization
  • Died in 1966

Controversies

  • Views on Hinduism and nationalism are debated by historians

Additional Information

  • Abhinav Bharat Society: Secret revolutionary group founded by Savarkar brothers (1904)
  • India House: London organization promoting Indian nationalism (founded 1905 by Shyamji Krishna Varma)
  • Free India Society: London organization founded by Savarkar inspired by Italian nationalism
  • Hindu Mahasabha: Hindu nationalist organization founded in 1907

10.Sardar Ajit Singh: (1881-1947)

Early Life and Activism

  • Born: February 23, 1881
  • Outspoken critic of British colonial rule
  • Provided relief to people affected by famine, floods, and earthquakes (1905)
  • Founded Bharat Mata Book Agency to spread anti-colonial messages
  • Built a network with revolutionaries across Europe

Exile and Escape

  • Exiled to Burma with Lala Lajpat Rai (1907) but later released
  • Escaped to Iran with Sufi Amba Prasad (1909) and lived in exile for 38 years

Return and Legacy

  • Returned to India in March 1947
  • Died on August 15, 1947, the day India gained independence
  • Overshadowed by his nephew Bhagat Singh but remains an important figure in the freedom struggle

 

11.Maulana Barkatullah: (1854-1927)

Early Life and Travels

  • Born: July 7, 1854, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
  • Professor of Hindustani at Tokyo University (1904)
  • Founded anti-colonial journal “Islamic Fraternity” (banned by British in 1912)

Revolution and Activism

  • Joined Gadar Party in US, became Vice President
  • Co-founded “Indian Council for Independence” in Germany (1914)
  • Formed “Government of India in Exile” in Afghanistan (1915) with Raja Mahendra Pratap
  • Sought support from Turkey, Russia (unsuccessful)
  • Published revolutionary newspapers in Germany
  • Delivered anti-imperialist speech at Belgium conference (1927)

Legacy

  • Died: September 20, 1927, USA
  • Bhopal University renamed Barkatullah University in 1988

 

12.Bhai Parmanand: (1876-1947)

Early Life and Education

  • Born: November 4, 1876, Kariala, Punjab (now Pakistan)
  • Influenced by Arya Samaj and leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai
  • Graduated from DAV College, Lahore with a Master’s degree in History (1902)

Spreading Arya Samaj and Anti-Colonial Activities

  • Established Arya Samaj branches in South Africa (1905)
  • Demanded a united Hindu-Muslim state (1905)
  • Taught history and spread Arya Samaj ideals at DAV College, Lahore
  • Wrote a book on Indian history (“Twarikhe Hindu”) banned by British (1908)

Arrest and Imprisonment

  • Arrested under suspicion of revolutionary activities (1909)
  • Acquitted but placed under surveillance

Global Revolutionary Network

  • Inspired Har Dayal to spread Indian culture in the Americas (1911)
  • Co-founded the Ghadar Party, an Indian independence movement (US)
  • Returned to India to promote revolution (1913)

Later Life and Legacy

  • Sentenced to death for Lahore conspiracy (1913), later commuted to life imprisonment
  • Released in 1920 after a hunger strike
  • Became Chancellor of National College, Lahore
  • Joined Hindu Mahasabha and served as president (1933)
  • Died on December 8, 1947
  • Honored by India Post with a commemorative stamp (1979)

 

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