My Tryst With Bhagat Singh: The First Encounter

March 23 is an important date in the context of Indian history. It was on this day in 1931 that Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged by the British Government in the Lahore conspiracy case. At that time, Bhagat was just 23. Before proceeding, I would like to make it clear that this article is not about the life of Bhagat Singh, as most of us are already familiar with that. Instead, I will share how Bhagat Singh entered my life and since then has been a continuous source of inspiration. 

 A newspaper cutting talking about the support he got during the 116 days long hunger strike in jail. 

My first encounter with the name Bhagat Singh happened when I was a ten-year-old kid, and I was reading a newspaper that my grandfather used to read. In that newspaper, I came across an article that talked about Bollywood releasing three movies (if I remember correctly) based on the life of Bhagat Singh at the same time. This made me ponder as to why is it so? Who was Bhagat Singh? What was so special about him?  

In those days, we didn’t have the luxury of googling stuff. Smartphones were a distant dream for us. I enquired about Bhagat Singh from my father. His obvious reply was “he was a freedom fighter, who fought for the nation”. That was my first brief about this great man. 

A few years later, the movie “The Legend of Bhagat Singh” was featuring on television. A popular star essayed the title role (though I have now watched all the movies and documentaries based on his life). I saw that movie in one go and I was literally in tears after the movie ended. I remember asking myself as to how did that man have that kind of determination. He was the son of a rich farmer. If he wanted, he could have enjoyed his life to the fullest without caring for anything. But, he left his family for a bigger goal and never had fear in his eyes even when he was about to be hanged. 

Since, I have always been a lover of history and historical personalities, it was just a matter of time I bought a few books based on the life of Bhagat Singh. People like him should be read more and should be talked about. There are so many facets of his life that can be taught to the younger generations for them to inculcate similar values in their lives. 

Here, I would like to mention three important values that can be learned from the life of this revolutionary figure. Firstly, raising up your voice and standing against injustice. Secondly, selflessness at a very young age; he made his name in history only because of his spirit to do something for his country. Lastly, bravery and courage. 

Bhagat fully accepted Marxism and the class approach to society. He had said,  The struggle in India will continue, so long as the handful of exploiters continue to exploit the labour of common people to further their own interests”. He defined socialism scientifically as the abolition of capitalism and class domination. He was fully and consciously secular. He also emphasised the importance of freeing people from the mental bondage of religion and superstition. 

It was Bhagat who was a pioneer in bringing in important changes in the revolutionary movement. He moved away from belief in terrorism and individual heroic action and the belief that a popular broad-based movement alone could lead to a successful revolution. His main aim was ending “ exploitation of man by man”. 

Today, I felt the need of writing this piece just to remember the great man who, without a second thought, gave his life for the nation. I will celebrate this by trying to read more about him and trying to find something new about his life and times. 

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