Freedom Quest: Interesting Facts About Indian Freedom Fighters You Probably Didn’t Know
It is that time of the year again when we celebrate India’s birthday. The world’s largest democracy gained freedom from British colonial rule 72 years ago on 15 August 1947, and it was all thanks to some brave freedom fighters we have all come to know and love. But do you really know everything about your favourite freedom fighter? Here are some interesting facts you probably did not know.
1) Rani Lakshmi Bai
‘Khoob ladi mardaani woh toh Jhansi wali rani thi.’
‘Jhansi ki Rani’ who left the comfort of her palace and challenged male-dominated traditions to take up arms against the British colonists 168 years ago continues to be remembered in poetry, literature, art, and cinema by children and adults alike.
Thanks to the Kangana Ranaut film Manikarnika, everyone now knows Rani Lakshmi Bai’s given name at birth. But she also earned the nickname ‘Chabeeli’ in her childhood for her playful, joyful nature.
She died tragically young at 22 years. The exact cause of her death still remains a mystery. All we know is that she was killed in action.
2) Chandra Shekhar ‘Azad’
The firebrand revolutionary ‘Azad’ (‘The Free’) is best known for his part in the Kakori Train Robbery to steal money from the British to fund India’s fight for independence.
He also joined forces with Bhagat Singh to give a new shape to the revolutionary organisation Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA).
He used the pseudonym ‘Balraj’ to sign off communications issued by HSRA.
He was 15 years old when he was first arrested for taking part in Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement. When he was questioned by a magistrate he gave himself the name ‘Azad’, his father’s name as ‘Swatantrata’ (Independence), and his place of residence as ‘jail.’
3) ‘Shaheed’ Bhagat Singh
Bhagat Singh was only 23 years old when he was executed by the British for fatally shooting the British police officer believed to be behind the lathi charge that was responsible for Lala Lajpat Rai’s death.
Everyone knows Bhagat Singh for his fiery style of patriotism but not many know that he was a man of knowledge as well. He loved reading books. Apart from Punjabi, Hindi, and English he was also fluent in French, Swedish, and Arabic.
4) Sarojini Naidu
Known as ‘Nightingale of India’ activist and poet Sarojini Naidu was on the frontlines of the Quit India Movement of 1942 for which she went to prison. Through her poetry she sought to spread the message of a secular, caste-free Indian society and she lived true to her ideals by entering an inter-caste, inter-regional marriage during a time when it was considered a big taboo.
She wrote her first poem as a student, in her maths notebook.
She nicknamed Mahatma Gandhi ‘Mickey Mouse’ and he did not seem to mind.
She also joked about Gandhi’s diet famously saying, “Good heavens, all that grass and goat milk, never, never, never!”
5) Mohandas Karamchand ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi
Perhaps the most widely recognised figure of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma (‘Great Soul’) Gandhi introduced to the world the radical concept of peaceful resistance. He continues to inspire generations that have come after him and even became the basis for the ‘jadoo ki jhuppi’ concept in the Sanjay Dutt-starrer Munnabhai MBBS film.
The man who gave us such immortal words as ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’ was actually a tongue-tied, shy, self-conscious personality in his younger days. He had to take a public speaking course to overcome these traits.
After spending 21 years in South Africa as a lawyer and activist, Gandhi returned to India in 1915. He was inducted into the Indian National Congress with the recommendation of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, another leader of the independence struggle who also initiated the movement to end child marriage in India.