Long live the martyrs ! Long live the revolution !

Today is the birthday of the immortal martyr – Bhagat Singh. This book review is dedicated to that great soul only.

The slogan of Inqlaab Zindabaad (long live the revolution) was created by Allama Iqbaal but it was used the most by the communists. However, a person who made this slogan a part of his life and turned it into a mission for him was the great martyr – Bhagat Singh. It was Bhagat Singh who made this slogan a highly popular one through the length and breadth of the vast country called India. His life as well as his sacrifice for the cause of the motherland, inspired millions not only in India but the world at large.

A number of movies have been made on his life and a number of books have been written as well in this regard. However the most authentic as well as the most impressive book written in vernacular in this context is Inqlaab (revolution) whose authoress is Mrinalini Joshi whose name is well-known in the world of Marathi literature. She has penned this book in Marathi which has been translated to Hindi by Padmakar Vishnu Joshi. After reading it, I acknowledge that I have never read a more authentic as well as passionate account of the life of Bhagat Singh and his fellow martyrs. It is an extra-ordinary book beyond doubt.The book deals in detail with the life of Bhagat Singh, the activities of himself and his associates and the impact they had created on the Indian youth psyche first through their activities, then through the court-room speeches and finally, through their sacrifice which came in the late evening hours of 23.03.1931 at the central jail of Lahore.

The book is highly authentic because the authoress wrote it after visiting Bhagat Singh’s home at the village Khatkhatkalaan in Punjab and meeting his sister – Amrit Kaur and his very aged mother – Vidyavati. Prior to that the authoress had also met Bhagat Singh’s close associate (and famous Hindi author) – Yashpal and the brave female associate of the revolutionaries – Durga Bhabhi. And so she was able to obtain all the authentic details of the personalities of the revolutionaries – their habits, thoughts, plans, feelings, pains and pleasures. We can rely on whatever she has written because she has got the facts from those who had first-hand knowledge of every relevant thing that was in that period. To most of the Indians born in the modern era, the activities and lives of those brave youths appear to be romantic but for getting the minute details of what they actually did and what they had to undergo, this book can be of great help.This extremely lengthy book has been divided into forty-six chapters. The Pune-based Marathi authoress has narrated her visit to Khatkhatkalaan and her highly emotional meeting with the mother and the sister of the immortal martyr in the introductory chapter (Bhumika). Then she has started from the Jaliyaanwaala Baag massacre in 1919 and went through all the activities of the young patriots targetted against the colonial British rule. The narrative revolves around Bhagat Singh. However alongwith his, the personalities and the activities of all other revolutionaries (including Durga Bhabhi who was the wife of a revolutionary – Bhagwati Charan Vohra) and Sushila Deedi (another female associate of the male revolutionaries) have also been discussed and described in detail.

The book contains a lively portrayal of the personality of Chandra Shekhar Aazaad and a couple of incidents of his life (narrated by himself to the fellow revolutionaries) are quite hilarious. Through this book, we come to know that he had given nicknames to all his revolutionary comrades, viz. he used to call Bhagat Singh as Ranjeet, Raajguru as Raghunaath, Bhagwandaas as Kailash etc. The hardships faced by the revolutionaries while moving ahead on their missions, have been put forth quite realistically. The authoress has written long conversations of them (part of them must have been through her imagination only) which allow the reader to peep into the minds of the young patriots. The scene when the news of the death of Bhagwati Charan Vohra was broken to his wife – Durga Bhabhi and she despite not being able to have the last sight of her husband, kept her emotions under check, lest the external world should suspect the group (whose members were carrying its activities under disguise), is able to make the reader understand what the motherland meant for those people. Can we imagine such patriots today?

Durga Bhabhi passed away in 1997 spending around seven decades alone after the death of her husband. Bhagat Singh’s mother had passed away in 1975, a few years after the authoress’ meeting with her (1969) and the first publication of this book (the first page of the book contains words of blessings from Bhagat Singh’s mother referring to publication of this book). Many of Bhagat Singh’s surviving comrades also lived for decades after the attainment of independence by India. Batukeshwar Dutt passed away in 1965, Yashpal passed away in 1976, Jaidev Kapur passed away in 1994 and Shiv Varma passed away in 1997. I don’t know what these great people thought and felt while seeing the continuous downfall of moral values and patriotism in India post independence.Coming back to the book, the authoress has quite skillfully mixed historical facts with her imagination and the things known through her talks with the living ones. The book, therefore, informs, inspires and moves while keeping the curiosity and the interest of the reader intact. Right from the word ‘go’  to the very end when Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev gave away their lives for the cause of the motherland, the book renders an absolutely mesmerizing experience and the reader feels himself / herself in a state of trance while going through the pages of the book. The words of the authoress takes the reader away around 90 years back in that period of slavery when patriotism was the norm of the day. Several scenes are absolute tear-jerkers. This hypnotic state of the reader is broken only when the book ends with the slogan echoing in the air – Inqlaab Zindabaad.

I wholeheartedly and unconditionally recommend this book to all those who are interested in reading history with a patriotic flavour. The book is soaked not only in patriotism but also in sensitivity and human values. Excellent is the appropriate word to evaluate this book. I end my review with the SHER recited by Bhagat Singh before embracing his death – Dil Se Niklegi Na Markar Bhi Watan Ki Ulfat, Meri Mitti Se Bhi Khushboo-e-Watan Aayegi (the love for the motherland will not leave my heart even after my death and even my remains will smell the odour of the motherland).

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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2 Responses to Long live the martyrs ! Long live the revolution !

  1. rationalraj2000 says:

    “I don’t know what these great people thought and felt while seeing the continuous downfall of moral values and patriotism in India post independence.” – A valid interesting observation!

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