Meet the freedom fighter who voiced India’s nationalist aspirations to the United States

A Sanskrit graduate of St Stephen’s College, Delhi and a professor of Indian philosophy and Sanskrit at Stanford University, Lala Har Dayal Mathur was an Indian nationalist revolutionary and freedom fighter. He sparked nationalist aspirations outside the country to fight against British rule through the power of education.

As a polymath revolutionary, he dreamed of a free India through his open eyes. It touched the feelings of Indians living in the United States (USA) and Canada to campaign against British rule in India during World War I as reported in Wikipedia.

The journey to inspire millions began when he moved to the United States in 1911 and joined industrial unionism, where he served as secretary of the San Francisco branch of the Industrial Workers of the World.

In Stockton, California, he made contact with Punjabi farmers, the majority of whom were Sikhs. By this time, the Punjabis had already begun to migrate to the west coast, where they faced hostility from the Canadians.

Har Dayal noted the situation and tapped into the feelings of these enthusiastic Punjabi farmers. He encouraged them and endowed them with a sociological education.

Efforts to bring revolution

Later, he became the figurehead of the Ghadar newspaper, which mentioned and articulated the aspirations of Indian nationalists living in the United States. The aim was to inspire millions of people to contribute in every possible way to the freedom of India.

In 1914, the US government arrested him for spreading anarchism. After some time, he fled to Berlin, Germany, where he participated in the formation of the Berlin Committee.

The Berlin Committee was later renamed the “Indian Independence Committee” and cooperated with the German Intelligence Bureau for the East. Har Dayal also contributed to the freedom struggle through his writings – articles and stories against British rule in India.

He has written extensively on the British government’s education policy in India – Our Educational Problem, Thoughts on Education, among others. In 1987, the Post Office of India issued a commemorative stamp honoring Har Dayal for his contribution to “India’s struggle for freedom”.

Also Read: Ram Manohar Lohia: Know How This Activist and Socialist Contributed to Indian Independence Movement

Thelma J. Longworth