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Lala Lajpat Rai, known as Punjab Kesari, was an eminent Indian freedom fighter (28 January 1865 – 17 November 1928). Alongside being a key leader of the Garam Dal in the Indian National Congress, Lal-Bal-Pal, he played a vital role in the struggle for independence. Lala Lajpat Rai was not only a nationalist but also a visionary entrepreneur who founded Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company.

Tragically, during a protest against the Simon Commission in 1928, he sustained severe injuries in a lathi charge. Eventually, on November 17, 1928, this revered soul departed from the mortal realm.

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Lala Lajpat Rai: Early Life, Revolutionary Activities, Political Views, and Precious words

Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai, also known as Punjab Kesari (Lion of Punjab), was a prominent Indian freedom fighter and social reformer who played a significant role in India’s struggle for independence from British rule. Born on January 28, 1865, in Dhudike village of Punjab, British India, he belonged to a Hindu Agrawal family.

Name Lala Lajpat Rai
Nickname Punjab Kesari
Born 28 January 1865
Birthplace Dhudike village of Punjab, British India
Father Munshi Radha Krishna Agarwal was a teacher,
Mother Gulab Devi
Marital Status Married
Wife Radha Devi, married in 1878
Children Amrit Rai and Pyarelal Rai and daughter Parvati Agarwal
Siblings Brother-Bankelal and Gulab Rai and Sister Ratan Devi
Fame Contribution to the freedom movement
Religion Hindu
Caste  Vaish (Agarwal)
Political parties Congress and Swarajya Dal
Political views Extreme
Died November 17, 1928
Place of death Lahore, Punjab, British India
Cause of death Injured In Lathi Charged
Age 63 years at the time of death


Early Life and Education:

Lala Lajpat Rai was born to Munshi Radha Krishna Agarwal and Gulab Devi. His father was a small-time government school teacher. Lajpat Rai received his early education at the Government Higher Secondary School in Rewari, Punjab. He later joined the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Lahore, where he studied law.

Parents and Siblings:

Lala Lajpat Rai’s father, Munshi Radha Krishna Azad, was a teacher, and his mother was Gulab Devi. He had two brothers named Bankelal and Gulab Rai and a sister named Ratan Devi.

Wife and Children:

Lala Lajpat Rai married Radha Devi in 1878. They had two sons named Amrit Rai and Pyarelal Rai.

Early Years and Leadership in the Garam Dal

Lala Lajpat Rai was born on 28 January 1865, into an Agrawal family in the Moga district of Punjab. He spent some time advocating in the cities of Rohtak and Hisar in Haryana. Rai emerged as the main leader of the Garam Dal within the Indian National Congress.

Together with Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, they formed the renowned trinity known as Lal-Bal-Pal. These three leaders were instrumental in demanding complete independence for India, and their movement gained nationwide support.

Lala Lajpat Rai: A Multifaceted Leader

Lala Lajpat Rai was a prominent figure in India’s freedom struggle, recognized as a banker, insurance worker, and leader of the Garam Dal. He made significant contributions in various fields and played a crucial role in shaping the nationalist movement. This article explores his endeavors in banking, his association with the Indian National Congress, his imprisonment in Mandalay Jail, and his separation from Congress to join the Home Rule League.

Innovator of Banking and Insurance

Lala Lajpat Rai embarked on a pioneering journey in banking to earn his livelihood. During a time when banks were not widely popular in India, he took on the challenge and established Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company. His innovative approach aimed to revolutionize the banking sector in the country.

Simultaneously, he continued his resistance against British rule through his involvement in the Congress. His bold and passionate nature earned him the title of Punjab Kesari (Lion of Punjab). Lajpat Rai emerged as one of the leading voices advocating for complete Swaraj (self-rule) after Bal Gangadhar Tilak, making him the most prominent leader in Punjab.

Congress and Lajpat Rai

Joining the Indian National Congress marked a significant turning point in Lala Lajpat Rai’s life. In 1888, he got the opportunity to become a part of the Congress during its annual session held in Allahabad. Through his enthusiastic dedication, he quickly made his mark as a diligent worker in Congress. Gradually, he gained recognition as the representative of the Punjab province within the organization.

In 1906, Lajpat Rai became a member of the delegation that accompanied Gopalkrishna Gokhale, signifying his growing stature in Congress. His views sparked uproar within the Congress, as he, along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, aimed to elevate the Congress from being merely a British organization.

Lala Lajpat Rai’s Mandalay Jail Tour

As a result of his opposition to the British government within the Congress, Lala Lajpat Rai started becoming a thorn in the eyes of the British authorities. The British government sought to separate him from Congress, but his stature and popularity made it a challenging task. In 1907, under Lajpat Rai’s leadership, farmers initiated a movement against the British government.

Seizing the opportunity, the British government arrested Lala Lajpat Rai and imprisoned him in Mandalay Jail in Burma, while also exiling him from the country. However, this government move backfired as the people took to the streets in protest. Under mounting pressure, the British government had to retract its decision, leading to Lala Lajpat Rai’s return among his people.

Separation from Congress and Home Rule League

By 1907, a faction within the Congress began to disagree with Lala Lajpat Rai’s views. Lajpat Rai was associated with the more radical faction that advocated fighting the British government and achieving complete independence.

Inspired by events like the American War of Independence and the First World War, Lajpat Rai emerged as the chief speaker of the Home Rule movement in India, alongside Annie Besant. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre further fueled his dissatisfaction with the British government. During this time, Mahatma Gandhi rose to prominence within the Congress and gained international recognition.

In 1920, Lala Lajpat Rai actively participated in the non-cooperation movement led by Gandhi. He faced arrest but was released when his health deteriorated. Meanwhile, his relationship with the Congress continued to deteriorate, leading to his departure from the party

Promoting Arya Samaj and Education

In collaboration with Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Lala Lajpat Rai played a crucial role in popularizing the Arya Samaj movement in Punjab. He, along with Lala Hansraj and Kalyan Chandra Dixit, contributed to the establishment of Anglo-Vedic schools, now recognized as DAV schools and colleges. Additionally, Lalaji demonstrated his commitment to public service by setting up relief camps during times of famine in various locations.

Injured in the Simon Commission Protest

On 30 October 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai participated in a massive demonstration held in Lahore against the Simon Commission. Tragically, during the protest, he suffered severe injuries in a lathi charge. Despite the pain, he courageously proclaimed, “Every stick lying on my body will work as a nail in the coffin of the British Government.” Indeed, within two decades of Lalaji’s sacrifice, the sun finally set on the British Empire.

Passing Away

Due to the injuries sustained during the Simon Commission protest, Lala Lajpat Rai passed away on 17 November 1928. His unwavering commitment to the cause of Indian independence and his sacrifices contributed significantly to the eventual freedom of the nation.

Avenging Lalaji’s Death

The nation was engulfed in turmoil following the tragic demise of Lalaji, and this sparked a determination for revenge among revolutionaries such as Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, and others. Driven by their love for their fallen leader, they decided to avenge Lalaji’s murder by orchestrating an act of defiance.

Just a month after Lalaji’s assassination, on 17th December 1928, they executed their plan by targeting British police officer Saunders. Rajguru, Sukhdev, and Bhagat Singh were subsequently sentenced to death for their involvement in Saunders’ killing, standing as a symbolic retribution for Lalaji’s untimely demise.

Legacy of Lala Lajpat Rai:

Lala Lajpat Rai was known for his powerful oratory skills and his dedication to the cause of Indian independence. He was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress and played an important role in the Swadeshi movement and opposition to the partition of Bengal in 1905.

Lala Lajpat Rai also actively campaigned against discriminatory laws and policies imposed by the British government, particularly with regard to land revenue and taxation. He was arrested several times for his involvement in protests and spent time in jail.

Tragically, Lala Lajpat Rai suffered serious injuries during the protest against the Simon Commission in 1928. He was brutally lathi-charged by the British police, which led to his untimely death on 17th November 1928. His death further fueled the nationalist movement in India. And inspired people to continue the freedom struggle.

Lala Lajpat Rai’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle and his commitment to social reform has made him an icon in Indian history. His contribution and sacrifice are remembered and celebrated even today.

Contributions to Hindi Language and Promotion

Lalaji’s commitment to the Hindi language was profound. He authored biographies of notable figures such as Shivaji, Shri Krishna, Mazzini, Garibaldi, and other great men, all written in Hindi. He made significant contributions to the promotion of Hindi throughout the country, particularly in Punjab.

Lalaji spearheaded a signature campaign advocating for the widespread implementation of Hindi across the nation, highlighting his dedication to the language and its importance in fostering national unity.

Monuments and Institutions in Memory of Lala Lajpat Rai

Throughout India, numerous monuments and institutions have been established to honor the memory of Lala Lajpat Rai, paying tribute to his immense contributions to the nation. Here are some notable examples:

Statue and Square in Shimla: Originally situated in Lahore during the early 20th century, a statue of Lajpat Rai was relocated to the central square in Shimla following the Partition of India.

Lala Lajpat Rai Trust: Formed in 1959 on the occasion of his centenary birth celebrations, the Lala Lajpat Rai Trust was established by a group of Punjabi philanthropists, including RP Gupta and BM Grover, who settled and thrived in Maharashtra. The trust continues to uphold Lajpat Rai’s values.

College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai: The College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai bears the name of Lala Lajpat Rai, serving as a testament to his significant contributions to the field.

Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College, Meerut: The medical college in Meerut proudly carries the name of Lala Lajpat Rai, recognizing his enduring impact on the healthcare sector.

Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology, Moga: In 1998, the Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology in Moga was established, providing education and technical training in his honor.

Lala Lajpat Rai Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Hisar: Founded by the Haryana government in 2010, this university in Hisar serves as a lasting tribute to Lajpat Rai’s legacy and his contributions to agriculture and animal sciences.

Lajpat Nagar, Lala Lajpat Rai Chowk, and Lajpat Nagar Central Market: These prominent locations in Hisar and New Delhi bear Lajpat Rai’s name, featuring a statue and serving as important commercial and residential areas.

Lala Lajpat Rai Hall of Residence, IIT Kharagpur: At the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur, a residential hall named after Lala Lajpat Rai honors his intellectual and educational pursuits.

Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital, Kanpur: The hospital in Kanpur pays tribute to Lajpat Rai’s commitment to healthcare, providing medical services to the community.

Institutions, Schools, and Libraries in Jagraon: Lajpat Rai’s hometown, Jagraon, boasts several institutions, schools, and libraries named in his honor, symbolizing his enduring influence and inspiration.

In addition to these establishments, numerous streets across various metropolitan cities and towns in India bear the name of Lala Lajpat Rai, further commemorating his invaluable contributions to the nation.

Creations of Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai, a prolific writer, and thinker, left behind a rich legacy of literary works and insightful quotes. Here are some notable creations of Lala Lajpat Rai:

Published Works

Sad India (1928 AD): Also known as Unhappy India, this work provided a critical analysis of the state of India during that time. It was published in both Hindi and English, offering a glimpse into the challenges faced by the nation.

Young India: Lala Lajpat Rai’s writings in Young India aimed to inspire and empower the youth, urging them to actively participate in the freedom struggle and contribute to the nation’s progress.

England’s Debt to India: This publication shed light on the exploitation and economic drain inflicted upon India by British colonial rule, emphasizing the need for restitution and justice.

The Political Future of India: Addressing the political landscape of India, this work delved into the vision and possibilities for India’s future governance and political system.

The Story of My Life (Autobiography): Lala Lajpat Rai penned his autobiography, offering a firsthand account of his experiences, struggles, and contributions to the nation.

The Punjabi Magazine

Lala Lajpat Rai also founded a magazine called “The Punjabi,” providing a platform for intellectual discourse and promoting Punjabi culture, literature, and societal issues.

Wisdom Quotes

Lala Lajpat Rai was known for his profound wisdom and inspiring quotes. Some of his notable quotes include:

1-“It is futile to look at the past unless that past is worked upon to build a proud future.”

2-“A leader is one whose leadership is effective, who is always ahead of his followers, who is courageous and fearless.”

3-“Non-violence is the effort to fulfill the objective by peaceful means with full loyalty and honesty.”

4-“Defeat and failure are sometimes necessary steps to victory.”

Lala Lajpat Rai’s writings and quotes continue to serve as a source of inspiration and guidance, leaving an indelible impact on the collective consciousness of the nation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Lala Lajpat Rai

Q: What is Lala Lajpat Rai’s alternate name?

A: Lala Lajpat Rai is also known as Punjab Kesari.

Q: Which slogan is associated with Lala Lajpat Rai?

A: Lala Lajpat Rai popularized the slogan “British Go Back.”

Q: In which incident was Lala Lajpat Rai injured?

A: Lala Lajpat Rai sustained injuries during a massive demonstration on October 30, 1928.

Q: When did Lala Lajpat Rai become the President of the Indian National Congress?

A: Lala Lajpat Rai was elected as the President of the Indian National Congress in the year 1920.

Q: When did the farmers begin their protests under Lala Lajpat Rai’s leadership?

A: The farmers initiated their movement under the leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai on February 3, 1928.

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