A boy, who was about to be executed, when asked “what is your last wish”, replied astoundingly and unpredictably, “I am reading about Lenin, I want to finish my reading.” A 23 years old boy, who knew that he was going to die in a couple of hours, still, was trying to gather some knowledge which he could spread to others. Whenever I go through this story, it always blows my mind off, and I am pretty sure it can leave anyone’s mind frozen over this imagination.
Most of us know that Bhagat Singh was born in 1907 (there are three different dates reported in various sources). He assassinated a British police officer, John Saunders. Later, he exploded bombs in the British parliament and chanted “Inquilab Zindabad”. Further, he was tried, convicted and finally executed on the 23rd of March in 1931. We have watched, read and listened to these stories several times. However, these stories are about the life of Bhagat Singh, not who Bhagat Singh was, his idea for his country and what he wanted.
This Martyr’s day, let’s start with an activity and try to remember any one of the views of Bhagat Singh which we like the most. I am afraid, not many of us are lucky enough to be even aware of Bhagat Singh’s views. This is how much we know about Bhagat Singh!
At the age when most of us argue with our parents to get a motorbike or get a new smartphone, Bhagat Singh chose to get himself hanged for some ‘good cause’. ‘Good cause!’ What was that ‘good cause’? Was that ‘good cause’ fulfilled for which he opted death over life? Well, I would say, the ‘good cause’ still needs to be accomplished.
I wonder how people from right wing celebrate and market Bhagat Singh’s name for their political benefits when Bhagat Singh himself was an atheist. One of his friends once told him that his atheism was out of his popularity and vanity and, eventually, on his last day, he will start praying. To reply to his friend, Bhagat Singh wrote a remarkable letter in Oct 1930 titled ‘Why I am an Atheist’. Here, he explained the rationale behind his atheism. One should read this brilliant piece of writing to get his view on religion. A 23-year boy writes:
“Do you really know the most cursed sin in this world is to be poor? Yes, poverty is a sin; it is a punishment! Cursed to be the theoretician, jurist or legislator who propose such measures that push man into the quagmire of more heinous sins. Did it not occur to your All-knowing God or he could learn the truth millions had undergone untold sufferings and hardship? What, according to your theory, is the fate of a person who, by no sin of his own, has been born into a family of low caste? He is poor, so he cannot go to school. It is his fate to be shunned and hated by those who are born into a high caste. His ignorance, his poverty, and the contempt he receives from others will harden his heart towards society. Supposing that he commits a sin, who shall bear the consequences? God, or he, or the learned people of that society? My dear friend, these theories have been coined by the privileged classes. They try to justify the power they have usurped and the riches they have robbed with the help of such theories.” (translated from Urdu; Source: http://www.shahidbhagatsingh.org).
Apart from being an atheist, Bhagat Singh was a great supporter of Marx and Lenin’s ideology. This is something which is always covered up by all the political leaders who hail Bhagat Singh’s name now and then for their political advantage. Yes, Marx and Lenin! Some history scholars dare to call Bhagat Singh as the first communist of new India.
In the letter ‘To Young Political Workers’, which Bhagat Singh wrote on 2nd February 1931 (7 weeks before he was executed), he advocated Karl Marx’s ideology and suggested young Indians to adopt Marxist philosophy. In the same letter, he criticised all the leaders including Mahatma Gandhi (without disregarding him), but, he praised Pt Motilal Nehru and spared Pt Jawaharlal Nehru from criticism. In his view, the freedom struggle was bound to be drawn in the deep sea and that because, in his opinion, the revolution was only dependent upon the funds of businessmen and capitalists who can never risk their jobs, properties or funds at any cost. Therefore, they will always find ways between the revolution meadow and their marketplace. The real armies are the factory workers, farmers and labourers. He suggested organising these forces for the revolution. But, the leaders will never use these forces, and here they lack and therefore, the revolution is incomplete.
In his last petition (where he requested the then Punjab Governor that he should be executed by gunshot instead of hanging as he considered himself a war prisoner), he mentioned that the capitalists and bureaucrats are like parasites who exploit Indian resources and Indian toiling mass. These capitalists can either be Britishers or Britishers and Indians together or just Indians alone. So, even after getting freedom from English, it will be impossible to get freedom from the capitalists and bureaucrats. This letter was written on 7th Oct 1930. Yet, it is relevant to today’s world. Nothing has really changed except the skin colour of the rulers. A few decades back a bunch of English people were ruling us and now the country is ruled by our own Indian people with the same kind of attitude.
Bhagat Singh had a great vision which is still applicable in the current circumstances. Let’s remember Bhagat Singh by imbibing his ideas in us this year on 23rd of March instead of sharing ridiculous and nonsense pictures on social media. Let’s see the world with Bhagat Singh’s eyes this Martyr day. Let’s dream the way Bhagat Singh dreamt for his country. This will be the true remembrance of Bhagat Singh.
I have learnt from the knowledge imparted by Gautam Buddha in ‘Anguttara Nikaya’ which says “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything just because it is found written in your religious book. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teacher and elders. Do not believe in tradition because it was handed down for many generations. But, after observation and analysis, when you find anything to be reasonable and is for the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
Following Gautam Buddha’s teaching, I would like to request everyone or anyone reading this post; please do not trust what is written just because someone has written it. If this brings a question mark in your thoughts, pulls out you from your comfort zone and makes you insecure then verify the facts, vouch for the accuracy, analyse the upshots and make your own outlook and believe in your own vista.