IAS Target

Bhagat Singh


Bhagat Singh (1907 – 23 March 1931) was an Indian socialist revolutionary whose two acts of dramatic violence against the British in India and execution at age 23 made him a folk hero of the Indian independence movement. In December 1928, Bhagat Singh and an associate, Shivaram Rajguru, fatally shot a 21-year-old British police officer, John Saunders, in Lahore, British India. They believed John Saunders was responsible for the death of popular Indian nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai, by having ordered a lathi charge in which Rai was injured, and, two weeks after which, died of a heart attack. Bhagat Singh became a popular folk hero after his death. Awaiting trial, Singh gained much public sympathy after he joined fellow defendant Jatin Das in a hunger strike, demanding better prison conditions for Indian prisoners, and ending in Das's death from starvation in September 1929. Singh was convicted and hanged in March 1931, aged 23.

Bhagat Singh's view about Religion

Why I am an Atheist is an essay written by Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh in 1930 in Lahore Central Jail. The essay was a reply to his religious friends who thought Bhagat Singh became an atheist because of his vanity. Bhagat Singh believed in communism, and he wrote several articles on anarchism and communism for Kirti. Singh began to question religious ideologies after witnessing the Hindu–Muslim riots that broke out after Gandhi disbanded the Non-Cooperation Movement. At this point, Singh dropped his religious beliefs, since he believed religion hindered the revolutionaries' struggle for independence, Bhagat Singh began studying the works of Bakunin, Lenin, Trotsky – all atheist revolutionaries.
Bhagat Singh wrote an essay entitled "Why I am an Atheist" to address the question of whether his atheism was born out of vanity. In the essay, he defended his own beliefs and said that he used to be a firm believer in the Almighty, but could not bring himself to believe the myths and beliefs that others held close to their hearts. He acknowledged the fact that religion made death easier, but also said that unproven philosophy is a sign of human weakness. Bhagat Singh finds it difficult to reconcile with the notion of a caring and all-powerful god when there’s poverty in the world. How can there be a god when there is sin? He cites his belief in Darwinian science to explain the process of creation and even flirted with the Nietzschean notion of man “inventing" god in his own image. When Bhagat Singh wrote this tract, he had already been sentenced to death. But this notwithstanding, he refused to pray for what he believed were selfish reasons. He remained steadfast in denying the presence of a supreme being without bearing ill-will to those who chose to believe.
Religious Beliefs:
  • Sikhism (childhood and teen)
  • Atheism (youth)

Bhagat Singh political view

At a very young age, Bhagat Singh started following Non-Cooperation Movement, initiated by Mahatma Gandhi. Bhagat Singh had openly defied the British and had followed Gandhi's wishes by burning the government-sponsored books.
Two incidents during his teen days shaped his strong patriotic outlook -
  • The Jallianwala Bagh Masacre in 1919
  • Killing of unarmed Akali protesters at the Nankana Sahib in 1921.

His family believed in the Gandhian ideology of non-violent approach to attain Swaraj and for a while Bhagat Singh also supported the Indian National Congress and the causes behind the Non-Cooperation Movement. Following the Chauri Chaura Incident, Gandhi called for the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation movement. Unhappy with the decision, Bhagat Singh, isolated himself from Gandhi's nonviolent action and joined the Young Revolutionary Movement. Thus began his journey as the most prominent advocate of violent insurgency against the British Raj.

He was attracted towards socialism and socialist revolutions led by Lenin at an early age and started reading about them. Bhagat Singh said ‘They may kill me, but not my ideas. They can crush my body, but will not be able to crush my spirit’. Bhagat Singh coined a powerful slogan ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ which became the slogan of India’s armed struggle. Bhagat singh is brightest example of sacrifice, secularism, bravery, boldness, seculariam and socialism. In still later years, Singh, an atheist and socialist in life, won admirers in India from among a political spectrum that included both Communists and right-wing Hindu nationalists. He clarified that anarchism refers to the absence of a ruler and abolition of the state, not the absence of order. He went on to say: "I think in India the idea of universal brotherhood, the Sanskrit sentence vasudhaiva kutumbakam etc., has the same meaning.

Singh did not believe in the Gandhian ideology – which advocated Satyagraha and other forms of non-violent resistance, and felt that such politics would replace one set of exploiters with another. In the history of freedom struggle of India, As a revolutionary in the start later realized its limitations and turned to mass of India and he chose the court as his platform to convey his message to both Indian mass and politicized common man to free India from British control.

Political Ideology:

  • Socialism; Nationalism; Anarchism; Communism
  • Associations: Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Hindustan Republican Association, Kirti Kisan Party, Kranti Dal.

Contribution as a Socialist

  • He addressed the pain under which Indian population was undergoing. He identified the real culprits apart from the British, such as landlords, zamidars and moneylenders etc.
  • He draw the attention of Indian masses and National movement leadership toward the hardships of common people, which needed to be struggle against apart from the British
Bhagat Singh stressing of equating manual labour with mental labour, ensuring free education and recasting jails as institutions of reform rather than as institutions of punishment. Bhagat Singh saw war as an “institution of the transitional period" till an equal society was created on the communist pattern.

Contribution as a revolutionary:

  • In general revolutionaries gave the Indian people self-respect and urge of struggling against the british.
  • He organised the revolutionary activities having nationalist and secular approach. influence of his secular approach on the muslim masses can not be denied.
  • During the court trial, he became the most influencial figure in the country. He electrified the Indian masses by his speeches and activities during the court trial which were directed at every stakeholder in the British India

Bhagat Singh's teaching relevance in modern times

  • The present generation needs to shed the appendages of religious beliefs and have faith in its own abilities to attain the goal, not depending upon the tell-tale signs and symbols of religious practice to supposedly serve as a guide to wade through the byzantine maze of life.
  • Explore and expound your ideas and share them with the world : Bhagat Singh created such a monument of work that it still continues to serve as a guiding principle, for anyone willing to seek inspiration from it. Bhagat Singh believed in the maxim that revolutions happen when ideas are tossed around, practiced and debated.
  • Use every medium in your reach to communicate with the masses : Of particular importance here is the use of posters and theatre to speak to the general public.One has to use one’s imagination to bring notice to the issues plagued by the society in the most effective way possible. Today print media, electronic media, social media, internet etc so youth need to use these plateform for nation buiding instead of spreading hatred and false propaganda. If we follow Bhagat Singh ideals then India will success in every field and we able to overcome many problems from which India currently struggling.
  • Do not depend on others to deliver – do it on your own: There is a very famous quote of Bhagat Singh – “Zindagi to apne dum pe jee jaatee hai, doosron ke kandhey par to sirf janaze uthaye jaate hain.” (Life is lived on one’s ownstrength, other’s shoulders are used only for carrying the coffin) If we start believing and practicing this idea, the ‘recommendation syndrome’ that plagues the growth of our society may start getting checked to a certain extent.
  • Today, man is exploiting man and country is exploiting country. After remember Bhagat Singh philosophy and act upon it, we can face exploitation and break it from its root.
  • Bhagat Singh wants full independence, where all Indian can live freely, where they can think freely, where, they can enjoy freely. But for getting freedom and independence, it is very necessary of martyrdom of revolutionary. Same situation is today, if we have to fight against corruption, black marketing and terrorism, then we should act upon the thoughts of Shahid Bhagat Singh.