Flying the Flag of Revolution, The Early Years, The Indian Struggle for Independence

Flying the Flag of Revolution, Part 1 – Deceived into Biting Cow Fat

In the last several sections, I spoke about my childhood and early involvement in the struggle for Indian independence. Before going further into my own role in the effort, I would like to go back in time and discuss the events that led up to the present revolutionary movement.

In 1857, our country was faced with a dire situation. It was as though India was a milk cow and the British East India Company was a farmer, relentlessly squeezing her dry, down to the very last drop. We all eagerly waited for the day when we would finally have the chance to rise up against their tyranny.

Then, in May the 7th Special Operations Squadron at Awadh suddenly launched a movement and flew the flag of revolution for the first time. Their uprising was triggered by rumours of a most outrageous offense. It was said that the British had been supplying Indian soldiers with the tallow of pigs and cattle, and that they had been unknowingly using this to grease their ammunition.

(Author’s note: Not only were the soldiers required to handle the ammunition, but they also needed to bite open the cartridges in order to release the gun powder, creating a most egregious situation.)

It is common knowledge that in Hinduism, cows are revered as holy gods. They are so highly venerated that they are even referred to as the mother of India. To kill these heavenly creatures and extract their fat is an unspeakably sinister crime. Moreover, in Islamic tradition the Quran gives strict warning in regard to swine.

These animals were so central to Hinduism and Islam, and yet they were being slaughtered and the people of India were being deceived into using their grease-laden cartridges. Upon hearing this grave news, it is entirely understandable and only natural that they would immediately be triggered into a furious outrage.

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The Early Years, The Indian Struggle for Independence, The Youth Who Crave Revolution

The Youth Who Crave Revolution, Part 6 – Dedicating My Life to India’s Independence

My father had made his position on the matter very clear. I was not to dedicate my life to fighting for India’s independence, but rather, it was his desire that I should further my education and pursue a professional business career. As much as I wanted to honour his wishes, however, I held fast to my dreams of raising up the move for our freedom.

After the response to my last army application had been intercepted by my father, I finally abandoned this approach. Realizing that I would not be able to become a soldier and fight for our freedom in this manner, I decided to use other methods to strengthen the movement.

At the time, I was still very young but I eagerly took up every opportunity to drive forward our efforts, and by the age of fifteen I was already a true revolutionary. During this time, the movement in India began to develop at a remarkable pace, and from 1908 to 1915 my plans were in full force.

In 1915, I made contact with like-minded Indian soldiers and established plans to launch a large-scale revolution in the north. But despite all effort, the move was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the situation was growing tense and British government officials in India caught wind of my actions. They began to employ all possible means to secure my arrest, dispatching spies, distributing my photos throughout the country, and placing a bounty on my head that would eventually reach as high as 12,000 rupees.

Before I go into all the details of my personal engagement in the struggle for Indian independence, however, I would first like to set the backdrop and talk about the history behind the revolutionary movement.

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The Early Years, The Indian Struggle for Independence, The Youth Who Crave Revolution

The Youth Who Crave Revolution, Part 5 – Against My Parents’ Wishes

Despite numerous setbacks, I continued to pursue my goal of joining the army and fighting for India’s independence. Against my father’s warning, I had determinedly sent out one more application, fully prepared to yet again be met with silence. However, my dedication had paid off and at long last I received a response.

Naturally, I was faced with one final obstacle, as the letter ended up in the hands of my father. Upon opening the envelope and seeing that I had gone against his word, he gripped the paper firmly in his hand as he came to confront me.

“I have made my position very clear. I have told you the path that you ought to follow, and explained to you every reason why you must abandon this childish dream. And yet, you still insist on becoming a soldier!”

He reprimanded me harshly.

Our conversation dragged on, with each of us attempting to assert our thoughts on the matter, but no matter how much my father scolded me, I held fast to my convictions. There was not a single moment when I let my mind falter, or allowed his stern words to sway me from my goals.

In the end, I did not enter the army, but nevertheless I responded to my calling to fight for India. Even at the young age of thirteen I had already thrown myself headfirst into the Indian revolution effort, and within the coming years I  soon found myself in the midst of plans to launch a large-scale revolution in the north.

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The Early Years, The Indian Struggle for Independence, The Youth Who Crave Revolution

The Youth Who Crave Revolution, Part 4 – Father Discourages Me From Joining the Army

I had been forced to abandon my attempts to become a soldier, and was sent back to my school in Chandannagar. Day in and day out, I whiled away my time in the classroom for what felt like an eternity, eagerly awaiting my chance to get back on the road in search of an army that would accept me. Even as I sat at my desk trying to listen to the teacher lecturing at the front of the room, my mind was consumed with dreams of launching a revolution that would lead India to freedom.

Eventually, I could wait no longer and decided to pay a visit to my father in the hopes of convincing him to let me pursue my dreams of joining the independence effort. I stood squarely in front of him and presented my argument, but he merely dismissed my plans as the transient whims of a young boy. The only advice he gave was that I dedicate myself to my schooling and graduate as soon as possible so that I could build up a successful professional career.

He tried all manner of method to discourage me from my goal, at first scolding me harshly and then attempting to persuade me through reason. My heart went out to him, but as much as I wanted to honour his words, no amount of urging could convince me to abandon my plans.

After our conversation, I secretly mailed out yet another application to the commanding officer of an army corps. After so many rejections and non-responses, fate was fulfilled and I finally received a reply. However, I was not around when the letter arrived, and it ended up in the hands of my father. Discovering that I had gone behind his back despite his repeated appeals, his reaction was severe.

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The Early Years, The Indian Struggle for Independence, The Youth Who Crave Revolution

The Youth Who Crave Revolution, Part 3 – Postponing My Dreams of Joining the Army

In between my clerical duties at Fort William, I spent each free moment writing up applications and sending them out indiscriminately to every possible army. As long as I would be on Indian soil fighting for our independence, it did not matter where in the country I ended up serving.

After sending out numerous applications and getting nowhere, I decided to take matters into my own hands and left my post at Fort William in search of some army that would have me. It seemed that each place was either rejecting Bengalis, or was no longer recruiting. If they would not acknowledge me in writing, I was determined to travel in person to each and every cantonment across India until I was admitted.

My ambitions, however, were once again cut short. As luck would have it, one of my relatives caught wind of my plans and set out in search of me. I was intercepted midway through my travels and admonished harshly, being told that it was outrageous for me to abandon my schooling with fanciful thoughts of joining the army. In great frustration, I was forced to put my plans on hold for the time being while he transported me back to my home in Chandannagar.

I returned to the school that I had once abandoned in pursuit of my dreams, and there I wasted away my time sitting idly by while my mind was consumed with thoughts of the struggle for freedom that was being bravely fought at that very moment.

I stayed on for some time and graduated to the following grade, but even then I was not able to concentrate on my studies. Constantly assailed with heroic imaginings of raising a powerful and fearless army that would launch the revolution, I decided to pay a visit to my father and convince him to let me pursue my dreams of becoming a soldier.

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INA, The Early Years, The Indian Struggle for Independence, The Youth Who Crave Revolution

The Youth Who Crave Revolution, Part 2 – Rejected by the Army

I waited on the edge of my seat, anxious to hear back about my application to the army, but when the reply finally came, I was met with rejection. In the envelope, there was only a brief note informing me that they would not be accepting applications from Bengalis at the present time. I considered this no more than a minor obstacle, however, and brushed it aside determined not to let it deter me from my goal.

With my heart set on dedicating myself to the independence effort at all costs, I immediately changed my approach. If Fort William would not accept me, I would apply to the French forces at Pondicherry.

Knowing that if I simply mailed in another letter I would be forced to sit around agonizingly waiting for their reply, I instead traveled to Pondicherry to request admittance in person.

Upon my arrival, without a moment’s delay I went directly to the admissions officer and spoke with great determination,

“I am here to volunteer as a soldier.”

“There are no openings at the moment,” I was told. “Once a position opens up, we will contact you.”

That was all.

There was no way of knowing if and when I would receive word, and it was imperative that I become a soldier as soon as possible. The sooner I joined the force, the sooner India would be free.

I would not stand passively by and wait for the opportunity to come to me. For the time being, I took on employment as a clerk at Fort William with the intention of changing posts as soon as the chance arose. Meanwhile, I randomly sent out application after application to every cantonment I knew of, hoping that even just one would accept me. It did not matter where in India it was, as long as I was working for the achievement of free India.

I eagerly awaited their replies, but none came. Eventually, I could wait no longer and set out in search of some army that would accept me.

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The Early Years, The Indian Struggle for Independence, The Youth Who Crave Revolution

The Youth Who Crave Revolution, Part 1 – Birth and Childhood

I was born on May 25, 1886 in a small village by the name of Subaldaha, located in the state of Burdwan, West Bengal. When I was still just a young child, my mother and I left my birth home and went to live with my uncle in Palarabighati, Hooghly. Meanwhile my father, Vinodbehari, worked alone in Kolkata as a secretary for the government newspaper. I lived out most of my childhood in there in Hoogly, until my father bought a house for us in Chandannagar where we were able to live together as a family for some time.

Once I became old enough to start attending school, I left our home in Chandannagar and went to stay at my uncle’s home in Kolkata. It was there that I began my elementary level education and immediately found myself becoming captivated by books about the Indian independence movement. Their pages overflowed with the dreams of the Indian people and the future of our great country. The words I read surged through every vein in my body, just as they had for the passionate souls who worked at the frontlines of the revolution, throwing their mind, body and soul selflessly into the effort to free India.

I was so strongly impacted by these books that while I was still just a young boy of thirteen years, I abandoned my schooling and became determined that from this day forth, I would dedicate myself wholeheartedly to the revolution effort. I would volunteer as a soldier and fight for the freedom of India. The first chance I got, I submitted my application to Fort William with my mind set on joining the Indian armed forces. Then, I waited on the edge of my seat for their response.

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