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From leaving Oxford Scholarships to leaving his country to spread the cause of Indian liberation and living with the consequences of his decisions with his head held high, there was a man before Nehru and even Gandhi, who revolutionized the Indian freedom struggle.
Born on 14th October 1884
"Hey, what do we know about Lala Har Dayal?" asked a very serious Raima. "Only that he was the founder of the Ghadar party.", replied a very distracted Mehar, as she scrolled through her phone.
"You know he left his wife and fell for another woman?", Mehar uttered.
Shocked by this revelation, Raima spun around and begged Mehar to tell her more. Mehar dropped her phone and began narrating about Lala Hardayal's life.
"So we know he was a freedom fighter. He was one of the founders of the Ghadar Party, was well-educated, which is why he went to study at Oxford, and that's that. This is what you know about him. But I, happen to know a great deal more.
He was perhaps one of the few Indians who did not care for the ICS. As he said so famously- "To hell with the ICS*".* Lala Hardayal was an unafraid man. A man of his stature, one so accomplished, well-read, and patriotic was held in high regard wherever he went. He was an accomplished linguist and a rational man. One of the few to not give into superstitions and critically evaluate religion. He lived a life of austerity. Thus, he was a vegetarian, teetotaler, and a very disciplined man.
He studied at the prestigious St. Stephen's College and went on to pursue higher education from Punjab University, and won two scholarships to Oxford. Soon he went to America and studied Buddhism. Stanford invited him to teach Indian Philosophy."
Raima was silent. "What else?" she asked Mehar. Sensing some apprehension in the room, Mehar shifted her tone and said mischievously, "Well, he wasn't all that perfect. Did you know he made some very bold remarks that would probably have him arrested in today's politically sensitive times?"
" When he was in America, he fell for a Swiss woman- Frieda Hauswirth. This liberal thinker did not care once for his wife, and his admirers in India and America were taken aback by his actions. But as fate would have it, Frieda Hauswirth did not marry him. Although she did come back to the US, she expressed no interest in Har Dayal. She married Sarangdhar Das.
Not only was a he fool in love, but he was naive enough to believe that Germany would help in liberating India from British rule. After facing disappointments from everywhere, Har Dayal did the unimaginable and unexpected- he praised the British. But his criticisms of America, Germany, and Turkey cost him a place to stay. He could not return to India and was left with the option of choosing a neutral country to settle in.
He chose Sweden. The calm, crisp, and beautiful place made him feel like his old self. This time, he was smitten with Agda Erikson. To his fortune, she liked him back. During his time in Sweden, he learned to speak Swedish, lived with Agda, wrote numerous books, one of them being Hints on Self Culture.
Though he was finally granted permission to return to India, he could never come back. He passed away in Philadelphia while he was on a lecture tour. Those close to him suspected foul play and said there's no way he could've died of natural causes.
While life wasn't kind to him in love, or even to his loved ones because his wife lost her husband to the woman and his daughter grew up without a father, he was still his lively self. An advocate for Indian freedom who spread the fire of Indian Liberation not just at home, but amongst the expatriate Indian population abroad- Lala Hardayal cannot be confined in a mold." Mehar took a deep breath and hoped that Raima would now be able to write her composition.
As Raima eased into her chair, she finally knew how to begin,
"...there once was a man who made peace with all,
before his death and now that he's long gone,
his story forgot,
here's a ballad so he can be remembered by all."
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