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Ram Prasad Bismil: A Revolutionary Poet and Freedom Fighter

Ram Prasad Bismil (1897-1927) was a distinguished Indian poet, author, and revolutionary who made substantial contributions to the struggle against the British Raj. He was a central figure in the Mainpuri Conspiracy of 1918 and the Kakori Conspiracy of 1925. Bismil was also instrumental in establishing the revolutionary group Hindustan Republican Association. His mastery of Urdu and Hindi languages, along with his poetic talent, elevated his status in the Indian independence movement.

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This topic of “Ram Prasad Bismil: A Revolutionary Poet and Freedom Fighter” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Formative Years and Education

  • Ram Prasad Bismil was born on June 11, 1897, in the Shahjahanpur district, in what was then the North-Western Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh, India). He hailed from a Rajput family.
  • His parents, Muralidhar and Moolmati Devi, nurtured his education. Bismil acquired Hindi from his father and was tutored in Urdu by a moulvi. Despite his father’s objections, he was enrolled in an English-medium school.
  • Bismil became a member of the Arya Samaj in Shahjahanpur, an association that significantly impacted his life.
  • His exposure to diverse languages honed his skills as a writer and poet early in his life. He authored patriotic poems in Hindi and Urdu under pseudonyms such as ‘Agyat’, ‘Ram’, and the most famous – ‘Bismil’ (meaning ‘wounded’, ‘restless’).

Political Engagement and Revolutionary Endeavors

  • The concept of freedom and revolution took root in Bismil following the death sentence of Bhai Parmanand, a freedom fighter and Arya Samaj member. This incident prompted him to express his outrage in a poem, ‘Mera Janm’.
  • Bismil played a role in the Mainpuri Conspiracy of 1918, where authorities discovered several youths, including Bismil, distributing books banned by the government. Bismil evaded capture by diving into the Yamuna River.
  • He attended the 1921 Indian National Congress session in Ahmedabad. However, he soon grew disenchanted with the Congress Party’s moderate faction. Bismil was not prepared to “negotiate” or “plead” for his nation’s freedom – he was ready to seize it by force if the British refused.
  • Bismil was a principal founder of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) alongside Sachindra Nath Sanyal and Jadugopal Mukherjee. The organization was established in 1924, with Bismil primarily drafting its constitution.
  • The HRA published numerous pamphlets aimed at motivating people to resist the government through revolutionary actions.
  • Bismil also took part in the Kakori conspiracy of 1925, a train robbery in central Uttar Pradesh. The British subsequently initiated a court trial against over 20 Indian revolutionaries for this act.
  • Despite widespread protest over the death sentences and support from various Indian political leaders for the revolutionaries, the government remained unmoved. Bismil was executed on December 19, 1927, for his revolutionary activities.

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Literary Achievements

  • Bismil was a skilled poet, writing in Urdu and Hindi languages under the pen names Ram, Agyat, and Bismil. His Hindi poem “Manipuri ki Pratigya” gained widespread recognition.
  • He was also a proficient translator across multiple languages. Bhagat Singh lauded him as a remarkable poet-writer of Urdu and Hindi, who had also translated the books Catherine from English and Bolshevikon Ki Kartoot from Bengali.
  • Bismil authored a total of 11 books, which were prohibited by the British government due to their potential to spark a second Independence war after 1857. Of these 11, 8 books have been lost, but 3 rare books remain: Ram Prasad Bismil’s Autobiography, Ram Prasad Bismil’s Written Patriotic Poems Collection, and Ram Prasad Bismil’s Written Krantikari Jivan.

Ideological Convictions and Impact

  • Bismil was affiliated with Arya Samaj where he drew inspiration from Satyarth Prakash, a book authored by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. He also maintained a secret connection with Lala Har Dayal through his guru Swami Somdev, a preacher of Arya Samaj.
  • Bismil’s political journey began with a communal understanding, which was a reflection of the world and society he lived in. However, as his revolutionary and political career evolved, Bismil transitioned to a clear anti-communal and secular politics.
  • In his final letter to his fellow Indians, Bismil even advocated for capital punishment for those who participated in Communal politics.
  • In his autobiography, Bismil condemned practices such as female infanticide, widow killings based on mere suspicion of “immoral behaviour”, compulsory veil wearing, and the reactionary caste violence perpetrated by the Upper caste, who attacked lower caste women for wearing ornaments. He attributed the source of caste violence to the “false caste pride” of Zamindars (Landlords).
  • Bismil’s Arya Samaji and socialist beliefs were fundamental to his passion for Indian independence and deeply influenced his character.
  • His selfless deeds became a beacon for millions and a trigger for intensified British repression. His words and actions have inspired generations of Indians.

Influence on the Indian Freedom Movement

  • Ram Prasad Bismil’s revolutionary actions and his participation in the Mainpuri Conspiracy and Kakori Conspiracy had a profound impact on the Indian freedom movement.
  • His establishment of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) and his partnerships with other notable revolutionaries such as Ashfaqullah Khan, Chandrasekhar Azad, and Bhagat Singh bolstered the revolutionary cause in India.
  • Bismil’s literary creations, especially his patriotic verses, motivated numerous Indians to partake in the fight against British imperialism.
  • His execution in 1927, alongside other revolutionaries, incited widespread indignation and further ignited the Indian freedom movement.

Remembrance and Honors

  • Ram Prasad Bismil is commemorated as a brave freedom fighter and a gifted poet who made substantial contributions to the Indian freedom movement.
  • His poetry and writings persist in inspiring generations of Indians and act as a testament to the sacrifices made by the revolutionaries in their pursuit of independence.
  • Bismil’s birth anniversary is observed annually on June 11, with national leaders across the country honoring his contributions to the fight for freedom.
  • Numerous establishments and landmarks in India bear Ram Prasad Bismil’s name, including the Ram Prasad Bismil Memorial Degree College in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Conclusion

Ram Prasad Bismil was a revolutionary poet and champion of freedom who played a pivotal role in the Indian freedom movement. His engagement in the Mainpuri Conspiracy, Kakori Conspiracy, and the inception of the Hindustan Republican Association had a significant influence on the resistance against British colonial rule. Bismil’s literary works, particularly his patriotic verses, motivated many Indians to partake in the fight for freedom. His execution in 1927 further ignited the Indian freedom movement, and his legacy continues to inspire generations of Indians.

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