The British annexation of the south Asian subcontinent was violently opposed from the very beginning Under the Crown, however, when the Raj administration tightened its grip a number of secret revolutionary groups sprang up like poison mushrooms. There societies attracted idealistic young men who eagerly laid down their lives for Mother India. Many of them were motivated by their seniors who sought sanction for violence from the holiest text of the Hindus, the Bhagavad-Gita. However, some of the partitas such as Bhagat Singh were confirmed atheists. They rejected the idea of a great deity who was supposed to be just and beneficent. They were influenced by Marx, Lenin and the Anarchists.
Learned Hindus such as Tilak and aurobindo Ghosh made much of Krishna’s discourse about duty that is dharma and the use of force if necessary. This was long before the Alqaeda and Taliban ideologues claim to take their authority from sacred Islamic texts. In the last chapter which presents other examples, such as stauffenberg’s attempt on Hitler’s life and consequent execution, Massey points out that Augustine of Hippo and later Thomas Aquinas (both Catholic saints) sanctioned the concept a of ‘Just War’.
The Young Indian who found solace in the Bhagavad-Gita were shunned and condemned by the three London educated barristers Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru. Gandhi has been credited with leading India to freedom but Attlee, during whose prime minister ship India was granted independence, believed that Gandhi’s input was “minimal”.
Gandhi was assassinated by a fanatical Brahmin a few months after Indian independence and Jinnah died of health complication due to heavy smoking a year after the creation of Pakistan Hence the main beneficiary of the trio was the Youngest, Nehru the harrowing, who laid the foundations of a new Indian dynasty. Nehru and his government were not eager to celebrate executed assassins. Over the years and with emergence of a new India now firmly within the ambit of the western capitalist system, the young men who were tortured and hanged have been largely forgotten. This book is homage to freedom fighters, revolutionaries and patriots such as Bhagat Singh, Khudiram Bose and Ashfaqulla khan who strode to the gallows, their heads held high, with smiles on their faces…
In the annals of Indian history they and their comrades will always be Shaheeds, martyrs.
Reginald Massey has authored books on India on a variety of subjects ranging from history, culture and travel to classical music and dance. Azaad!, his selection of short stories chronicles South Asia after 1947, the year of India’s independence and the creation of Pakistan. His book of verse Lament of a Lost Hero Other Poems comments on sub continental society in the post independence period. His poetry has been included in anthologies such as Commonwealth Poems of Today (John Murray) and An Anthology of Commonwealth Verse (Blackie).
South Asia: Definition and Clarifications (Abhinav) sweeps away several religious, cultures, social and historical cobwebs. Many received notions are proved to be false and iconic figures are shown to have had serious failings. He wrote and produced Bangladesh I Love You, a film which starred the boxing phenomenon Muhammad Ali. In 2006, he was Visiting Professor at India’s Himachal University and, in 2008, was Writer-in-Residence at the UBS think papers and magazine and specialist as the Guardian and London’s Dancing Times. Born in Lahore, in British Indian, he lives in Britain where over many years he been journalist, critic, director-producer, broadcaster, lecture and activist. His wife, actor Jamila Massey, collaborated with him on three books: The Music of India, The Dances of India, and The Immigrants, a novel. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art and Freeman of the City of London.
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