General Secretary CPI
March 23rd1931! The day woke up the people of India shaking their conscience and stirring their minds. Bhagat Singh along with his two comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged to death by the British colonisers. In October 1930 they were sentenced to death in Lahore conspiracy case.
Perhaps for the first time in the history of Independent India the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh and his comrades could not be observed in a big way due to the state and self-imposed restrictions on public gatherings and meetings as a precaution against Corona. When the country is already in deep crisis, it has to face the health crisis. The situation demands a strong political will and commitment for the people which Bhagat Singh had.
At a time when Bhagat Singh and his comrades were facing the gallows, he addressed a letter to the British governor in which he reminded that “the court order is based on to assumptions; one there exists a state of war between British state and Indian state… And we are part of the war. “The second assumption is really flattering for us” and the letter ended saying “the days of capitalist and imperialist exploitation are numbered”.
Bhagat Singh was born in September 28, 1907 and lived upto March 23, 1931, a very short life but a meaningful and patriotic life. He was only 23 years old when he was hanged to death with Comrades Rajguru and Suhdev, his two compatriots, by the Britishers. Bhagat Singh was born in a hardworking agricultural family, his father and his two uncles were peasant fighters who conducted relentless struggles against the British colonisers and the local land-owning classes of western Punjab.
Interestingly, on the day of Bhagat Singh’s birth, his father and two of his uncles came out of the jail where they were imprisoned for a land agitation. The last years of 19thcentury and the beginning of 20thcentury was bursting with a lot of land struggles in Punjab that no one was born during that period could not miss to inherit the legacy. Bhagat Singh with an exact correctness inherited the passionate fighting spirit of the Punjabi peasantry.
If we try to understand Bhagat Singh as an individual person and his character as that of his personality alone, then we will be missing the historical and cultural richness behind the diversity of freedom struggles in the full length and breadth of Indian sub-continent. Bhagat Singh was in Punjab, in the north western part of this country, means so many things pertinent to the land and people of the region. From the mid-medieval period of Indian history, Punjab was creating an illustrious and distinguished history of its own.
Historians name it as the Indo-Islamic period when “the Ganges started flowing in the opposite direction” as Bhai Gur Das, a poet and philosopher and disciple of Guru Nanak described it. It was an eminent and celebrated period of social change and transformation. History produced many poets and thinkers during this period. Guru Nanak, Kabir, Ravidas, Baba Farid, Meera Bai, Ramananda, Namadev, Ek Nath and others appeared during this period to evaluate the reality otherwise and visualize it still further differently. It was a period of social revolution revisiting the tradition and writing a new history. Punjab and Bhagat Singh were immersed in this new trend and inherited the same.
It was a period when Bhagat Kabir pronounced the names of Ram and Alla in one spirit and announced that he was their son. It was a period when Baba Farid dared to unite the Sufi spirituality and the Hindu philosophy in one tune. It was also a period when Bhagat Ravidas redefined the idea of oneness and equality in its real social meaning.
No more, oneness is metaphysical to include only the abstractions of Brahma and Atma. They were philosophers who hailed from the bottoms of the social layers and produced a new unknown spirituality for the new world. It is a great effort that made “the Ganges flow in the opposite direction”. Everything entered into an age that was popularly called by Kabir as UltaBamsi, Upward Down. Bhagat Singh is the son who inherited this tradition of fundamental change, not just to interpret the world but to change the world.
When Bhagat Kabir united Ram and Allah, the Indian version of communal unity and secularism emerged, well before the European version of the same. When the Sufi and Sanskrit spirituality combined, it was a form of universal spirituality— Oneness of God and Oneness of Reality, and Oneness of Humanity. When Ravidas spoke of Oneness, it extended to social equality and abolition of caste system. It is not difficult to derive Socialism in Indian context from these slogans of enlightenment. From the utterances of Guru Nanak and Kabir, Baba Farid and Ravi Das, Buddha was reborn. Bhagat Singh, the son of the revolutionary Punjab peasantry re-uttered his Guru’s words in his new style, ‘Inquilab Zindabad’.
There was another guru in the history of Punjab and Sikhism. His celebrated name is Guru Gobind Singh. One of his famous war cry is “I will turn the Sparrows into Hawks”. I will make every human being to sit in one row and share the same food. His ultimate achievement was to arm the humble folk of working classes to fight for their rights and for social change.
From Naujawan Bharat Sabha to Hindusthan Socialist Republican Association, to emerge as a matured communist revolutionary, the whole life of Bhagat Singh is one of great inspiration and enlightenment. He should be understood in the historic context in which he lived and the historic perspective of a great cause for which he lived and laid his life.
As Comrade Ajoy Gosh, a comrade and co-prisoner of Bhagat Singh, who became general secretary of CPI later, mentioned that “like a meteor Bhagat appeared in the political sky for a brief period. Before he passed away, he had become the cynosure of millions of eyes and the symbol of sprit and aspirations of new India, dauntless in the face of death, determined to smash imperialist rule and raise on its ruins the edifice of a free People’s State in his great land of ours”.