LALA LAJPAT RAI
Lala Lajpat Rai, The lion of Punjab, was born at Ruper in Ambala district on January 28, 1865. His father’s name was Munshi Radha Krishan. Munshi Radha Krishan was himself a tall and vigorous man devoted to physical exercise but Ruper was malaria infested and so his son Lajpat Rai also became a constant victim of malaria.
Lajpat Rai’s schooling at first was largely carried on by his father Radha Krishan at home. He joined the Mission High School at Ludhiana, where he was granted a stipend as a promising boy. Lajpat Rai completed double matriculation, one from Calcutta another from Punjab. For his college education he depended on stipends and a meager allowance of 8 – 10 rupees a month from home. In college his classmates included names that later became famous – Mahatma Hans Raj, Pandit Guru Dutt Vidyarthi, Raja Narendranath and Professor Ruchi Ram Sahni for the shaping of modern Punjab.
He came in touch with Arya Samaj. He was attracted towards the patriotic zeal of the Arya Samaj in their ambition of restoring Aryavarta to its ancient glory. In 1883, the founder of Arya Samaj Swami Daya Nanda Saraswati died. On this occasion Lajpat Rai spoke with fine feeling for two hours and he held the audience spellbound. He came to be regarded as the most effective orator of the Samaj. He was called ‘HALF STEEL, HALF WAX’.
Lajpat Rai soon became a pioneer among the Hindu leaders. The closing years of the century were marked by severe natural calamities like drought, famine, epidemics etc. Lajpat Rai organized relief committees and raised funds for them. He raised a strong contingent of volunteers. He worked strenuously for the famine campaign. Lajpat Rai had proved himself to be an excellent lawyer but he wanted to devote himself entirely to the service of the nation. He offered part of his earning to the D.A.V. College and the Samaj and any other good cause. This kind of sacrifice was novel, perhaps unique and whenever he made an appeal for funds even the stingiest came forward to loosen their purse.
He went to London in June 1905. He along with Gokhale addressed meetings in Manchester, Edinburgh, Liverpool for the cause of India’s Freedom. When he returned to India in November 1905 he was given an unprecedented rousing reception at Bombay and Lahore. He felt that “blood was raining down from the Indian sky” and The Nation’s evil days were coming to an end.
By now Lal-Bal-Pal. (Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal) Phase in Indian politics had set in, teeming crowds paid their homage to their idols from Bengal, Maharashtra and Punjab. They were influencing the patriots through their magazines ‘Bande Mataram’, ‘Kesari’ and ‘The Punjabee’. In 1907 Lala Lajpat Rai’s fiery speeches and patriotic articles gave opportunity to the British Viceroy to implicate him for Deportation to Mandalay.
From Mandalay Lajpat Rai returned as the, hero of the day in Indian Politics. He was elected President of the Arya Samaj but he declined the honour. His name was proposed even for the President ship of Indian National Congress but here also he did not show keen interest. He worked hard for the upliftment of the depressed people. He helped in raising funds for building a lecture hall in the D.A.V. High School to be named after his friend, Principal (Mahatma) Hansraj. In 1913 he founded a high school in his native village Jagraon, named after his father—The Radhakrishan High School. He was a member of the deputation sent to England regarding a bill to be introduced in Parliament for the reforms of India Office. He kept his eyes open and paid particular attention to the problems of Indian Students abroad. He went to America and got the widest Publicity for the cause of India—he was considered as an Ambassador to the American people-an ambassador of rare ability and magnetic personality.
He worked a lot for the cause of untouchability. Lalaji did a lot for the Prison Reforms by writing articles in his journal ‘The People’.
The Simon Commission landed (for the second time) on October 11, 1928 and was expected in Lahore on the 30th. Lalaji went ahead and organized a huge “Go back, Simon” procession. The black flags betokened that the people did not want John Simon and his colleagues. Inspite of the fact that the demonstration was most orderly and the best controlled that Lahore had ever witnessed, the police lathi charged-but neither Lalaji nor the people flinched. They did not hit back, also Lalaji said, “Every blow… drove a nail into the coffin of the Empire!” The lathi blows proved fatal, the Lion of Punjab expired on November 17, 1928.