Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Lesser-Known Facets of Bhagat Singh’s Life


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bhagat Singh

Mains level: Read the attached story

bhagat singh

Central Idea

  • Bhagat Singh, born on September 28, 1907, in the village of Banga (now in Faisalabad, Pakistan), is celebrated as a charismatic revolutionary who sacrificed his life for the cause of Indian independence at the young age of 23.

Five Lesser-Known Aspects of Bhagat Singh’s Life

[1] A Family of Progressive Freedom Fighters

  • Anti-Colonial Roots: Bhagat Singh’s father, Kishan, and uncle, Ajit, were actively involved in anti-British activities. Kishan faced imprisonment in 1910 for disseminating seditious literature, while Ajit was deported to Mandalay in 1907 for his inflammatory speeches against the Punjab Colonisation Bill. Both played significant roles in the freedom struggle, influencing Bhagat Singh’s upbringing in an anti-colonial environment.
  • Dissent within the Family: Despite the family’s strong anti-British stance, Bhagat Singh publicly criticized his father for submitting a mercy plea to the Viceroy when he and other revolutionaries faced the gallows, revealing his unwavering commitment to the revolutionary cause.

[2] A Scholar and Writer

  • Prolific Writer: Bhagat Singh contributed to Urdu and Punjabi newspapers in Amritsar during the 1920s and authored pamphlets and ‘seditious’ literature condemning British colonial rule.
  • Eclectic Reading: His jail notebooks revealed his interests extended beyond politics, encompassing literature from renowned poets and writers, including Rabindranath Tagore, William Wordsworth, Wajid Ali Shah, Mirza Ghalib, and Iqbal.

[3] An Atheist and Marxist with Anarchist Leanings

  • Religious Critique: Bhagat Singh was an avowed atheist who criticized religion in his essay ‘Why I am an Atheist’ (1930), rejecting the concept of one true religion. He viewed religious beliefs as divisive and demoralizing.
  • Inspirations: Bhagat Singh drew inspiration from Marxist thinkers such as Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Bakunin. In his final testament, ‘To Young Political Workers’ (1931), he advocated for “social reconstruction on new, i.e., Marxist, basis.” However, he did not fully align with orthodox Marxist views, particularly on authoritarianism.

[4] Support from Jinnah

  • Jinnah’s Defense: While Mahatma Gandhi refrained from intervening in Bhagat Singh’s trial, MA Jinnah ardently defended him. Jinnah vehemently opposed a proposed Bill that would have allowed trials in absentia, delivering a compelling speech in the Central Assembly in 1929.
  • Successful Opposition: Jinnah’s staunch stance led to the foiling of the attempt to pass the law, but Bhagat Singh’s trial continued under dubious circumstances, resulting in his death sentence in 1930.

[5] Jawaharlal Nehru’s Support

  • Nehru’s Critique: Jawaharlal Nehru criticized the British legal process and the injustice inflicted on Bhagat Singh. He admired Bhagat Singh’s courage and self-sacrifice.
  • Historic Visit: Nehru, along with other leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose, visited Bhagat Singh in prison. Despite their differences in methods, Nehru’s respect for Bhagat Singh remained unwavering.
  • Congress Resolution: After Bhagat Singh’s execution, Nehru moved an official resolution in a Congress session, condemning the execution and demanding commutation, even though the Congress officially rejected violence as a means of achieving independence.

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