Remembering India's Greatest Freedom Fighters of All-Times
The saga of pre-independence India unfolds with the unwavering resolve of remarkable individuals who laid the foundation for a free and sovereign nation. Presented by ThisDay, this list features some incredible people throughout history who fought independently for freedom to build a nation we can proudly call our own.
Step back in time as ThisDay embarks you on a captivating journey through the annals of Indian history, where the spirit of independence burned brightly amidst the struggles against colonial rule. The saga of pre-independence India unfolds with the unwavering resolve of remarkable individuals who laid the foundation for a free and sovereign nation. As we delve into the compelling narratives of sacrifice, resilience, and valor, we seek to remember the all-time greatest freedom fighters who fearlessly challenged the yoke of oppression. Their indomitable spirit continues to resonate through the corridors of time, inspiring generations. Read this ahead to explore India's tumultuous path to freedom and celebrate the enduring legacy of those who shaped the destiny of a nation, marking the triumph of independence with unwavering pride.
The barrister who returned from a foreign land with dreams of fighting against colonialism was loved by the entire country. So much so that most considered him as 'The Father Of The Nation.' As a pioneer of the Indian Freedom Movement, Gandhi led several movements and encouraged and inspired people to follow in his footsteps. Before coming to India, Gandhi had successfully led a movement against the British in South Africa for the Indian community. He spent the next two years traveling and understanding the problems faced by the Indians. Then in 1917, he led the first Satyagraha against the British government. With several other movements like this, he became an icon in the eyes of farmers and workers. The era of the 1920s is known as the Gandhian Era, as he spent the next 27 years leading the fight for independence.
Chittaranjan Das hailed from a family of lawyers who believed and supported the cause of Brahmo Samaj. His patience and perseverance in pursuining judiciary got paid off when he was called to the Bar in 1892 in England. After his brief stint there, Das was set for life with a steady flow of lucrative law practice. However he renounced his wealth h in 1894 and became an all-time politician and freedom fighter. He used his sharp wit and skills to help the verdict of many revolutionaries from the British jaws. The landmark defence of Aurobindo Ghose in the Alipore Bomb Case of 1909 made Das the legal luminary of our nation. He even became the torch-bearer of the Non-Cooperation Movement in Bengal and promoted the use of Khadi.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak emerged as a pivotal figure in India's fight against British rule. A scholar turned activist, he navigated careers, urging selfless service for the nation. Renowned for his political acumen, Tilak faced imprisonment for dissent. A key member of the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate, he championed Swadeshi and the Boycott Movement. Tilak's relentless pursuit of swarajya was captured in his famous quote "Swarajya is my Right and I shall have it!" and lingers as an enduring vision for future of India.
A man of a high stature from a 'lowly' caste who was one of the most prominent figures in the writing of the constitution as well as shunning caste discrimination in India, B.R Ambedkar founded the Bahishkrit Hitkarni Samaj for the untouchables. His movements for access to public drinking water and the Kalaram Temple entry movement made headlines and, was duly recognized as the leader of Dalits. In 1936, he founded the Independent Labour Party and fought the assembly elections of 1937 with some success. On Gandhi's recommendation, he was made Independent India's 1st Law Minister. He is even called the Father of the Constitution as he chaired the Drafting Committee and strongly fought for the values of equality, secularism, and justice in the Constitution.
Subhas Chandra Bose, known for his militant opposition to British rule via forming armies for independence with Japan and Germany in the Second World War, was one of the leading revolutionary fighters of the 1930s and 40s. Although he passed the Imperial Civil Service exam in England, but never wanted to work for an alien government. After coming to India, he joined Congress and launched the Swaraj newspaper while developing ties with various leaders and movements. He even became the Mayor of Calcutta by 1930. His defiant Indian nationalism, ready to take violent means, has made him one of the most celebrated figures in Indian national discourse. As the second world war loomed, the All-India Forward Bloc was then organized. Bose's alliance with Japan and Nazi Germany to achieve Indian independence is somewhat debated, but most people agree it was a matter of convenience, not ideology.
Jawaharlal Gandhi was a beacon of peace in the tumult of history. Being the first prime minister of Independent India, he donned the cloak of leadership, stitching together a quilt of unity. With eloquence as his paintbrush, he crafted speeches that danced in the minds of millions. As the conductor of India's symphony, he orchestrated the harmonious chords of independence, playing the notes of nonviolence and civil disobedience. Before Independence, Nehru made it his priority to tackle poverty and make India a self-reliant nation, putting all efforts in development and upliftment of people from poverty. These include setting up infrastructure and nationalizing various sectors to make them internationally at par.
Lala Lajpat Rai, a key figure in India's fight for independence, embodied a unique blend of religious devotion and reformist ideals. Rai advocated for a reformation of Indian policy and Hinduism, aiming to combat social issues within the religion. As part of the Lal Bal Pal trio, he championed the Swadeshi Movement against foreign goods. Rai, elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1920, dedicated his life to the freedom struggle, initiating the Home Rule Movement. Sadly, his untimely demise resulted from injuries sustained during a non-violent protest against the Simon Commission in 1928, sparked the resolve of future revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh. Rai's courage earned him the title 'Punjab Kesari' or 'Lion of Punjab.'
Mangal Pandey was more than just a name; he was a martyr who ignited the flame of India's first war of independence against the British in 1857. Pandey, a young soldier, rebelled when the British introduced a rifle with cartridges rumored to be greased with sacred substances. It sparked a revolt against religious disrespect and activated masses to stand against britishers. His brave stand triggered the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, a pivotal moment in India's fight for independence. Hence, Mangal Pandey's sacrifice became a legendary symbol of rebellion for India.
Chandrashekar Azad transformed himself into a fearless revolutionary in the India's struggle for independence. From his early days in Madhya Pradesh, his spirit soared as he resisted English authority. He renamed himself as 'Azad' after enduring lashes for refusing to bow to a British official. He then joined the Hindustan Republican Association. Azad masterminded the Kakori train robbery, leading to a direct clash with the Raj. Despite facing adversity, he continued his fight, participating in the assassination of J.P. Saunders.
In a political party (Congress) filled with British stooges, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the only individual who could set the true vision of an independent India, free from all sorts of British influence. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was, thus, made the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of Independent India. This incredible leader was birth in the Khedha district in Gujarat, where he grew up to be a lawyer and actively indulged in the freedom struggle of India. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel made a sizeable contribution to organising peasants from Khedam Borsad and Bardoli during the wake of the Civil Disobedience Movement. After this, he also played a huge role in the Quit India Movement which hugely failed in its objective of making the British leave India by hook or crook.
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay etched his name in history by composing "Vande Mataram," an anthem that echoes the spirit of India. Amidst a life as a Deputy Collector, he pursued his passion for writing, influenced by his idol Ishwarchandra Gupta. Despite initial setbacks, he published notable works like "Durgeshnandini" and inspired others like Bipin Chandra Pal. In 1882, his political novel "Anandamath" featured Vande Mataram. His 13 novels earned him the title "Sahitya Samrat," and though he passed away at 56, his legacy lives on through the immortal anthem.
Bipin Chandra Pal, born in the aftermath of the first freedom struggle, emerged as a radical nationalist, distinct from his contemporaries. Raised amid societal turmoil, he defied Gandhian views, advocating for self-rule and gender equality. Pal's commitment to the freedom struggle arose from societal and political unrest. A proponent of Indian self-sufficiency, he called for complete independence and swadeshi, challenging conventional nationalist methods. Pal, a man of action, married a widow and rejected pacifist ideologies. His unique brand of nationalism sought internal transformation, envisioning a liberated India beyond British dominance, leaving a legacy of courage and unconventional ideals.