Monday 29 April 2024

The Hallowed Memory Of A Hero And Martyr

 - Eknath Ranade (Yuva Bharati, Special Commemorative Volume, 1974, August)

Fifteenth of August comes to us again carrying ever- F shining and sacred memories of the valiant heroes and countless martyrs who shed their precious blood in the course of a relentless struggle of two centuries against British rule in our country. Right from the Battle of Plassey in 1757, they carried the fight through the First War of Indian Independence in 1857, which threw up a galaxy of martyrs on our political horizon, to the uprising of the Air Force and Navy in 1946 under the inspiration of the Indian National Army which dealt 'a final death blow to the British Empire, and ushered in the freedom that we enjoy today. As we go to press with this issue, we consider it a happy augury that the mortal remains of Sardar Udham Singh, have been received with appropriate honours and simple solemnity and cremated with due religious rites in his native village, Sunam in Sangrur District of Punjab, thirty-two years after that dauntless hero ascended the gallows in a prison in London and attained martyrdom.

Born on December 26, 1899, Udham Singh was one of the witnesses of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on April 13, 1919, under the regime of the Lt. Governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O' Dwyer, and he carried that gruesome, picture of the brutal carnage of helpless thousands by a soldier tyrant, General Dyer, who later glotted over his dastardly deed and who was accorded by the British people, the honour of a hero and savior of the Empire. The horror, the grief and the trauma of the nation's soul could not be forgotten and has gone into history as one of the blackest spots on the British escutcheon. Time heals the most grievous wounds by casting the veil of forgetfulness over it. The Jallianwala Bagh outrage remained unavenged by all peaceful and constitutional methods which our leaders explored earnestly, but in vain.

But one man remembered the ghastly memory of it in his life through the years and long meditated how he, a single unaided individual, could settle this score with the hated enemy so as to cry quits on that issue. Like one possessed by the spirit of the furies, Sardar Udham Singh watched and waited for his turn and twenty years after, he shot Sir Michael O'Dwyer dead on March 13, 1940. With that act of faith, he felt that he had vindicated the indomitable spirit of our country and declared that he would walk to his gallows with the happiness of a bridegroom going to meet his beloved bride. There is bound to be a certain amount of difference over the rightness of the conduct of Sardar Udham Singh. Though, in a superficial view, he tried, to meet violence with violence, his action can be justified, if not indeed worthy of being applauded, from the point of view of the stand which is explained by Lord Krishna in the Gita, in commending to Sri Arjuna, war as the only answer to the quarrel thrust upon him by his ungodly and overweening cousins. What purifies that act of seeming violence was the spirit of selfless devotion to the cause of justice and the readiness of the individual to make a sacrifice of his own life in order to vindicate the supremacy of Dharma on which alone a peaceful society can be established and maintained. There are occasions in the life of a nation or an individual, when they arrive at the crossroads, there all openings are blocked except one. In such crises, it would be cowardly for anyone to retrace his footsteps or beat a precipitate retreat merely out of the craven love of saving 'one's own skin. It was one such occasion which offered itself to Sardar Udham Singh' and let us honour his courageous choice,' in a spirit of understanding and reverence.


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सिद्ध‌‌यसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥

Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26

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