Ram Tiwari, father of Chandra Shekhar Azad, was
a poor, orthodox brahmin, who had to leave his
home village Badarka in U.P. in search of livelihood.
He served as a watchman in a State garden in Bhavra,
a village formerly in Alirajpur State and now
in the Jhabua District of Madhya Pradesh. It was
here, in a bamboo hut plastered with mud, that
Jagrani Devi gave birth to Chandra Shekhar Azad
on July 23, 1906.
Chandra Shekhar received his early schooling in
Bhavra. He was fond of wandering and hunting with
Bhil boys of his neighbourhood, with bow and arrows.
This was very much disliked by his orthodox father.
When Chandra Shekhar was about 14 year old, he
somehow reached Varanasi. There he entered a Sanskrit
pathshala, where he was provided free board and
lodging. Till his death, he was unmarried and
lived the austere life of a brahmachari,
which he began in this pathshala.
Those were the days of the great national upsurge
of non-violent non-cooperation movement of 1920-21
under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Young
Chandra Shekhar, along with other students, was
fascinated and drawn into it. By nature he loved
energetic activities more than passive studies.
Very soon he became a favourite of the local leaders
like Shiva Prasad Gupta. When arrested, he was
so young that handcuffs were too big for his wrists.
He was put on trial before a magistrate who was
notorious for his brutality towards freedom fighters.
Chandra Shekhars attitude in the court was
defiant. He gave his name as Azad
his fathers name as Swatantra
and his residence as prison. The magistrate
was provoked. He sentenced him to fifteen lashes
of flogging. Chandra Shekhars body was stripped
and tied to the flogging triangle. As lash after
lash tore his skin, he shouted slogans; Mahatma
Gandhi Ki Jai, Bandemataram
etc. his amazing endurance, courage and fortitude
were highly appreciated and he was publicly honoured
as Azad. The name stuck thereafter.
When the non-cooperation movement was withdrawn,
the revolutionary movement again flared up. Chandra
Shekhars natural aptitudes led him to contact
Manmath Nath Gupta. Through him he joined the
Hindustan Socialist Republican Army where he soon
gained the admiration of its leaders. They lovingly
called him quick-silver for his restless
energy. He took an active part in every armed
action of the party under the leadership of Ramprasad
Bismil. He was involved in the Kakori Conspiracy
(1926), the attempt to blow up the Viceroys
train (1926) the Assembly Bomb Incident, the Delhi
Conspiracy, the shooting of Saunders at Lahore
(1928) and the Second Lahore Conspiracy.
The present contributor attended a secret meeting
with Chandra Shekhar Azad and Sukhdev Raj in the
Alfred Park, Allahabad, in February 1931.
Azad was of the opinion that the Hindustan Socialist
had moved far ahead and that no purpose would
be served by asking individuals to take to armed
action. The time had come to pass on to mass
revolutionary actions culminating in a socialist
revolution. To achieve that, it was necessary
to make a thorough study of the methods that
were so successfully used by the Bolsheviks
For this purpose, as a regular member of the
H.R.S. Army, the present contributor was asked
to proceed to Russia on his own resources. The
only help the party would give him was an automatic
pistol with a magazine of eleven cartridges.
The assignment was fulfilled in letter and spirit,
but, alas, Azad was no more there to guide and
instruct the group further.
As is believed by most of the knowledgeable
revolutionary comrades of the time, Azad was
betrayed by an associate who turned a traitor.
On February 27, 1931, in the Alfred Park, Allahabad,
Azad was surrounded by a well-armed police party.
For quite some time he held them at bay, single-handed,
with a small pistol and a few cartridges. Even
the enemy was all praise for his sharp shooting
skill and courageous composure. As he could
hit quite a few of the assailants who were firing
at him from behind covers. Left with only one
bullet, he fired it at his own temple and lived
up to his resolve that he would never be arrested
and dragged to the gallows to be hanged.
Bhagat Singh in comradely jokes used to tease
him, saying Panditji, they shall need
two ropes for you, one for your neck and the
other for your heavy belly. Azad used
to reply, Let your cherished hangmans
noose be for your neck. So long as this Bamtulbukara
(this is what he called his pistol) is with
me, nobody can ever drag me tied in a rope,
making me dance like a monkey, to the gallows.
On such occasions, he would fondly recite a
Hindustani couplet, his only poetic composition.
Dushman Ki Goliya Ka Ham Samna Karenge.
Azad hee rahehain, Azad hee rahenge.
It may be remembered that when Azad fell fighting
on February 27, 1931, Bharat Singh was still
waiting for the hangmans noose and got
his cherished martyrdom 24 days later, on 23
Chandra Shekhar Azad was born in abysmal penury
and all sorts of superstition. He got no schooling
worth the name, still through his robust common
sense-and learning while struggling -he led
the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army.
Among those who felt proud to be led by him
were such illustrious martyrs as Bhagat Singh,
Rajguru, Sukhdev, Bhagwati Charan, Saligram
Shukla and such other renowned revolutionaries
as Batukeshwar Dutt, Bejoy Kumar Sinha, Siva
Varma, Jayadev Kapur, Gaya Prasad, Sadashiva
Rao and Many others. Azads revolutionary
career has become symbolic of the first steps
of the poor, illiterate, oppressed Indian masses
along the revolutionary path towards socialist
equality, liberty and fraternity.