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Chapter - IV

Indian independence
Slogans and denotations



They came, they saw, they conquered (Vini – Vidi – Vichi )-and then they
started staying as traders and rulers. “They” were the outsiders who ruled into
India over centuries, from Alexander through the Babur, to the British who
established the Raj. In between each were a dizzying succession of invaders and
strangers, armies and emissaries. Each group was drawn with its own special
agenda, plan or strategy. And each group was drawn into India’s web, absorbed
slowly but surely into the landscape of a land that is more than a country- a
country that is a compendium of princely states, “Hindustan” or popularly “India”.
One fourth of the human kind are “Indians”, some barely 1010 million today,
residing on barely two and a half percent of the earth’s domain, spread among
twenty eight states within the Union, Republic of India. India is heir to one of the
world’s oldest, richest and living civilsations. No single history could ‘cover’ all four
milieu of India’s uniquely complex and crowded past.

“India,” Winston Churchill once barked, “is merely a geographical

expression. It is no more a single country than the Equator.” Churchill was rarely
right about India, but it is true that no other country in the world embraces the
extra ordinary mixture of ethnic groups, the profusion of mutually
incomprehensible languages, the varieties of topography and climate, the diversity
of religions and cultural practices and the range of levels of economy that India
does. The singular thing about India is that you can only speak of it in the plural
and plurality indeed is the reality with nature.

India’s earliest known civilisation, however was entirely indigenous, born

almost five thousand years ago on either side of the now dried up river Sarswathi
and on the valley of river Indus, boasting over 3000 cities, including Harappa and
Mohenjadaro, The Indus valley civilisation flourished for some eight centauries. Its
demise was, in all probability, brought about by serious natural calamities as
archeologists and historians found out much later. Earlier, European historians

believed and spread an invasion theory for the deconstruction of the Sindhu
Saraswathi Civilisation. But right in those days itself, stalwarts Indians like Rishi
Aurabindo etc had contradicted the Aryan theory through statements from Vedas
themselves, which got proved by archeology only much latter. The European
theorists and Historians say that; external forces-the first of India’s many invaders
were the Aryans. Springing from the grasslands of Central Asia, The Aryans swept
into India around the middle of the second millennium B.C. This material
perspective and contradictions of the Aryan invasion proposed by the western
historians once again demonstrates the short sightedness and the nefarious plot
of westerners like McCauley and Max Muller. In the eight century A.D. a new force
began to manifest itself on the sub continent, a force that would transform India
permanently- a force called ‘Islam.’ The Arab invasion of Sindh through
Mohammed – Bin – Quasim began bloodshed in India, which also started an era
for Indians to choose between death and Islam. The momentous invasion by
Babur, the Muslim King of Kabul, in Afghanistan was the sole reason for this
breach. He founded the Mughal dynasty. Islam spread quickly after Babur and his
invasion through conversion.

Muslim fanaticism began to replace the carefully-crafted philosophy of tolerance.

The time was ripe for Europeans- beginning with the Portuguese who
carved out lucrative trade routes, and solidified their position by controlling the
western coast. Another enigmatic breed of Europeans-The British-to graduate
from their erstwhile role as traders, and seize the reins of power. Traders turned
to rulers through the evil philosophy of “divide, conquer and rule.” Many battling
kingdoms and warring princely states sprouted in the sub continent. The Britishers
came and ruled over India for nearly 200 years. After the battle of Plassey in
1757, the British achieved political power in India. And their paramountcy was
established during the tenure of Lord Dalhousie, who became the Governor-
General in 1848. He annexed Punjab, Peshawar and the Pathan tribes in the
north-west of India. And by 1856, the British conquest and its authority were
firmly established. Other territories were annexed outright by the British through
an army of Indian soldiers established under the British Command. Many rulers of

the princely states signed peace treaties that effectively gave Britain control over
the most of the reminder of India.

And while the British power gained its heights during the middle of the
19th century, the discontent of the local rulers, the peasantry, the intellectuals,
common masses as also of the soldiers who became unemployed due to the
disbanding of the armies of various states that were annexed by the British,
became widespread. This soon broke out into a revolt which assumed the
dimensions of the 1857 Mutiny.


The history of freedom movement in India narrates the inspiring story of

dedication, sacrifice, commitment to higher values of life and the overall bearing
of Indian spirituality; by not only the various prominent leaders but also millions
of ordinary people who did not expect anything in return for their sell-less service.
This should be the main ethos of our national and political life in order to
reinvigorate the political process in the country and to put an end to political,
social and economic evils which have afflicted the system as amply illustrated by
the great minds like Swami Vivekananda etc. India suffered from a series of
foreign invasions due to lack of unity and national consciousness among the
people and the absence of a strong central government. The degeneration and
decadence of Indian civilisation which had started from the mediaeval period,
reached its pinnacle particularly after the British conquest over India. All efforts
were made by the British to denigrate and destroy the most prosperous and
flourishing civilisation of India. They followed the policy of Divide and rule and
most cunningly sowed the seeds of separatism, provincialism, castism, linguism
and parochialism. While the rich and powerful elite sections of the people were
pampered and protected, millions of poor and downtrodden people were
mercilessly oppressed and exploited. This was the greatest hindrance to the unity
of the people, which was an imperative necessity for fighting an effective battle of

The Indian National Movement was undoubtedly one of the biggest mass
movements modern society has ever seen. It was a movement which galvanised

millions of people of all classes and ideologies into political action and brought to
its knees a mighty colonial empire. Consequently along with the British, French,
Russian, Chinese, Cuban and Vietnamese revolutions, it is of great relevance to
those wishing to alter the existing political and social structure.1 The conquest of
India, which could be said to have begun with the Battle of Plassey (1757), was
practically completed by the end of Dalhousie’s tenure in 1856. It had been by no
means a smooth affair as the simmering discontent of the people manifested itself
in many localised revolt during this period. However, the Mutiny of 1857, which
began with a revolt of the military soldiers at Meerut, soon became widespread
and posed a grave challenge to the British rule. Even though the British
succeeded in crushing it within a year, it was certainly a popular revolt in which
the Indian rulers, the masses and the militia participated so enthusiastically that it
came to be regarded as the First War of Indian independence.

Introduction of Zamindari system by the British, where the peasants were

ruined through exorbitant charges made from them by the new class of landlords.
The craftsmen were destroyed by the influx of the British manufactured goods.
The religion and the caste system which formed the firm foundation of the
traditional Indian society were endangered by the British administration. The
Indian soldiers as well as people in administration could not rise in hierarchy as
the senior jobs were reserved for the Europeans. Thus, there was all-round
discontent and disgust against the British rule, which burst out in a revolt by the
‘sepoys’ at Meerut whose religious sentiments were offended when they were
given new cartridges greased with cow and pig fat, whose covering had to be
stripped out by biting with the mouth before using them in rifles. The Hindu as
well as the Muslim soldiers, who refused to use such cartridges, were arrested
which resulted in a revolt by their fellow soldiers on May 9, 1857.

Ninety two year old Avadesh Narayan Shukla alias Viplav (revolutionary) is
a living legend, a witness to independence movement of India. An author,
freelance journalist who started his journey at the age of eleven by translating
news from ‘Leader’ is now living alone, in a small abode in Jaipur, which once was

Chandra, Bipan.,’s Struggle for Independence, New Delhi: Penguin Books, p13.

a favourite hiding place for freedom fighters. He probably inherited journalistic

inclination from his grandfather, the Editor of daily newspaper-'Adarsh’.

Every day he offers prayers to the martyrs. His most priceless possession
is the bicycle used by revolutionary leader- Chandra Shekhar Azad. His family
background is certainly contrasting. Maternal grandfather of his grandfather was a
cashier in the East India Company while his great grandfather fought against the
British in 1857 and was close aide of Nana Sahib Peshwa. He re-lives history every
day, and is indeed a treasure of oral history.

His eyes shine, voice pitches high, when he recalls the struggle for
Freedom: "The first struggle of independence in 1857 (also called mutiny or
Revolt of 1857 by the English men) was not successful & India was caught in the
web of British imperialism & became enslaved. The British took revenge by
burning villages after villages, thousands of innocent people were blown off in
front of the cannon, every tree had a corpus hanging, and frightened-people were
running here & there. The Revolt of 1857 would have been successful if the Sikhs,
Rajputs, Gorkhas would not have sided with the British. Why did this happen? The
historians have cited many reasons. But the real reason is that the rebels declared
the 'Mughal Emperor' as their leader, and this forced the Sikhs, Rajputs, and
Gorkhas to support the British as they were not interested in reinstating the
Mughal Emperor. Zafar was old & incapable of leadership; spend most of this time
in literary pursuits, leaving little time & interest for governance. His treasury was
also empty. Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur is apparently is seen as pro British
during 1857 but he secretly helped the rebellion. He even sent a message to the
Czar of Russia through special messenger to help in defeating the British. During
1858-89, he refused to obey the order of the Agent to disarm the people holding
arms without a license. And instead kept his sword on the table & told that he
can give his sword and even the State to the Government but cannot take away
arms from people who regard them more precious than their lives. The Revolt of
1857 failed but the struggle for freedom continued. During 1857-1947, thousands
perished. The famous Urdu poet, a retired judge- Akbar Allahabadi, seen as a
Gandhian, used to visit the trees at Chawk in Allahabad (where Indians were
hanged in 1857)to pay his respects to the unknown martyrs. It's not true that

India achieved independence only thought non-cooperation, rallies or fasting. The

span of non violent movement was only twenty seven years. During the 'Do or
Die' call in 1942, non violent movement was kept aside. The Indian armed forces
drew inspiration from the Trial of soldiers from Azad Hind Army. The British
realized the danger & that lead to Indian independence”.2

Any regrets?

He has not been given any award or pension from the Central Government.
The last wish?

His ashes should be dispersed in Bittor, where Nana Sahib, the leader of 1857

These words of the grand old freedom fighter Avadesh Narayan Shukla
shows the significance and importance of the revolt of 1857. Indians began to
experience the power of political unity and mass movement.


Research and study on Indian independence struggle slogans means a

historical investigation on the strategy, programme and ideology, extent and
forms of mass mobilisation, and strategic and tactical manoeuvres of the national
movement. The biggest challenge before this research is that this is the first of
this kind exclusively on the freedom movement of India confined in the
boundaries of slogans as a medium of communication and representation. The
success of this study is that so far no earnest effort has been made by historians
or academics to collect, classify, and interpret slogans used in India for the sole
purpose of independence. This study and analysis can be cited as an objective
travelogue through the history of Indian freedom movements through the
medium of political slogans. This research reflects the mind, character, integrity
and selfless commitment out of the Indian national movement. Analysing and
assessing through the slogans used by the masses, this research unveils a history
based on the people’s own consciousness, and is yet to tap new sources similar

Personal interview with age old freedom fighter Avadesh Narayan Shukla alias Viplav; who is
living in Jaipur.

to slogans that may be more reflective of the popular perceptive of Indian

nationalism. This research analyses and interprets the remarkable capacity of
slogans to unite India despite diversity.

Indian National Movement was one of the greatest mass movements in

the world history. It derived its strength, especially from the self sacrificing spirit
of the masses. Millions of men and women were mobilised in myriad ways; they
sustained the movement by their grit and determination. Starting out as a
movement of the nationalist intelligentsia, the national movement succeeded in
mobilising the youth, women, farmers, the urban and rural poor, peasants and
workers, merchants and capitalists and also a large number of educated.

The movement in its various forms and phases took modern politics to the
people. It did not, in the main, appeal to their pre-modern consciousness based
on religion, caste, and locality or loyalty. It did not mobilise people ideologically
around religion, caste or region. It fought for no benefits on that basis. Political
slogans were the chief source and instruments of this unity at that time. Study on
the slogans of freedom movement and its ways of mass mobilisation were also an
expression of the immense creativity of the Indian people. They were able to give
a full play to their innovativeness and initiative through slogans.

• “Jee rakshak se bhakshak” 3

‘Our protector is also our devourer’ –This is the first slogan raised ever in the
strong fire of Nationalism during 1857. As a part of the divide and rule policy the
British Government appointed twenty nine planters and a solitary Indian Zamindar
as the Honorary Magistrates. The Indians identified this hidden agenda of the
British rules of making their own people (Indians) as their enemies. Then the
revolting masses of sepoy mutiny shouted this slogan.

Ruler according to the Indian tradition is the protector of ‘Dharma’; it is

essential for the protection and well being of the subjects. Dharma Sastras
prescribe distinct responsibilities to a King also known as ‘Raja Dharma’. Apart
from members of some kind of advisory council, the Kings used to have a Raja

Kling, Blair, B., (1966).The Blue Mutiny-the Indigo Disturbances in Bengal, Philadelphia:, p145.

Guru, an acharya who shall be a great scholar to ensure the righteous functions of
the ruler. The primary duty of a king or ruler is the protection of the life and
properties of his subjects. So the ruler is essentially a protector and savior, and
hence, Jee (life) and Rakshak (saviour). But the alien rulers had created such
situation from which our rulers became estranged from their archetype mode of
existence. Instead our protectors, the rulers became oppressors. Thus instead of
protectors of lives, they became takers of life and turned to Bhakshakas (eaters,
devourers). The rule by the British East India Company was considered by
interpreted and conceived by the native Indians as that of the rule by the
devourers. Their hopes and expectations were ruined by the material dreams and
lust of the British rulers in the Indian soil.

• “Unable to work, ashamed to beg, condemned to penury” 4

This slogan or phrase was cited on the context of the British move to
confiscate the estates of 21,000 taluqdars in the Oudh region during the period of
1857.All the taluqdars lost their power and privilege. These taluqdars who lost
their lively bread and source of income became the humiliated revengeful lot
against the British in the sepoy mutiny.

The British rulers started feudal system in India by favouring the landlords
and Zamindars. This was indeed a very wise move to create henchman, who shall
be powerful and rich, but shall remain dependent on the British. Further the
British could use them to control and even oppress the common people. They
believed that the Zamindars shall be loyal to the Colonial rule, as the Feudal Lords
are loyal to the imperial crown. But here they made a big mistake. When the
chance of ousting the English came, many Zamindars stood by the freedom
fighters, and when the struggle got suppress the British took revenge on the
Zamindars by taking away their land and power from them. Thus the Zamindars
became nothing overnight. The Zamindars lost their bread and butter, land and
revenue. This slogan shows the pathetic and desperate state of a community with
in the Indian population. Zamindars were material ruined by the British but their
pride and tradition prevents them from surrendering to the foreign rulers. British

Gopal, S., (1977).The Indian Economic and Social Review, Vol-XIV, No-3,July-September, New
Delhi: p405.

always identified that through finance and economics a country and people can be
controlled. This is the mantra of modern day economic imperialism too.

• “Angrezi Raj ki Barkaten” 5

‘These are the blessings-after effects of the English rule’ is a teasing

ridiculing slogan used by the nationalists Indians in the colloquial and Hindustani
usage. Every evil, administrative or financial reform, policies, progammes of the
British is often cited as the blessings of the British to the Indians, especially by the
colonial minded ones and communists. This slogan is used in a most satirical
manner. An important point to be noted is that British rule was maintained, in part
on the basis of the consent or at least acquiescence of some sections of the
Indian people who became victims of either the colonial hegemony, or had failed
to find self esteem in being Indian. The social base of the colonial regime was
among the Zamindars and some upper class etc., the ‘loyalists’ to crown, who
received the main share of British favours and offices. These were the Indians
who manned the administration, supported government policy and worked the
reforms for their masters that the British reluctantly and belatedly introduced. The
British also secured the consent of the people to their rule by successfully getting
them to believe in British justice and fair play, accept the British officer as the
mai-bap of his people, and appreciate the prevalence of Pax Brittanica. Few
genuinely believed in the blessing of the British but it sufficed for the British if
people were impressed by the stolidity the Raj exuded and concluded that its
foundation were unshakable. The Raj to a large extent ran on prestige and the
embodiment of this prestige was the district officer who belonged to the Indian
Civil Service (ICS), the ‘heaven-born service’ much vaunted as the ‘steel frame of
the Raj’.

Many policy decisions by the British were often cited as the blessings to
the Indians but it later became the most evil of all the reforms. Many of their so
called welfare measures and so called innocent policies etc were in fact
disintegrating, devastative and much destructive. So whatever new policies

For a fuller discussion of how this erosion took place and the conclusions drawn from it by the British,
see Sucheta Mahajan, ‘British Policy, Nationalists Strategy and Popular National Upsurge, 1945 -46,’ in
A.K.Gupta, editor, Myth and Reality, Struggle for Freedom in India, 1945-47, pp57-63.

introduced by the British the nationalists Indians in a most colloquial and satirical
manner called it as a curse to the Indian society in disguise. The partition of
Bengal, reforms in tax collection, introduction of Zamindars system etc were often
called as some of the British blessings in disguise which were curses in reality,
and were very dangerous.

• “Satyug” 6

‘The Reign of Truth’, and ‘Truth Justice’ this slogan was formulated by the
Santhal Tribes. 6000 Santhals representing 400 villages of Bhaganidihi assembled
together under their leaders Sido and Kanhu. They decided to raise the banner of
revolt, and get rid of the outsiders and their colonial masters once and for all, the
usher in Satyug.

The concept of Satyug is the concept of righteousness in Indian minds.

Thus Satyug becomes a desi deratum as well as a summum bonum to archetype
Indians. The Santhals, one of the Indian aboriginal tribes wanted to realise their
desi deratum of Satyug by throwing out the oppressing British rulers. Thus, the
aspiration of Satyug became the very Dharma of the Santhals, and they began
their ‘Dharma Yudha’ against the colonial rule in their own way. The heroic war
fought by the Santhals can be cited as a typical resistance against the cultural
invasion and homogenisation. Santhals believed that truth is the God and truth is
the ultimate. They considered that truth alone can only save them from the
tyranny of foreign rule. So the resistance of Santhal tribe was to uphold the ideals
of truth in the fight against the foreign forces. The transnational cultural invasion
and homogenisations were often aimed at the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous
population. Probably Santhals can be considered as the first tribal group who had
heroically fought against the cultural degradation attempts.

• “Dharma –raj”

In 1868, the Naikda tribes in Gujarat attacked the police stations by

shouting this slogan. Millenarianism (belief in an imminent golden age) could
make them raise this slogan with much intensity in a vociferous manner. They

Natarajan, L., (1979) The Santhal Insurrection:1855-56, in A.R.Desai, editor, Peasant Struggles
in India, New Delhi: p137.

attacked the police station to establish self rule by proclaiming Dharma-raj. Their
concept of dharma-raj was later adopted and modified by Mahatma Gandhi as
Rama-rajya. Both these concept cherished similar ideals and principles. Dharma –
raj believed in the establishing of dharma by releasing India from the hands of
British evil rule.

The Kacha Nagas of Chachar in 1882 also attacked the whites under a
miracle–worker named Sambhudan who claimed that his magic had made his
followers immune to bullets. Old district gazetteers and anthropological surveys
contain in fact numerous references to such things, and are at times strangely
moving. The tribal response included, as before, occasional violent outbursts, but
also movements of internal religious and social cultural reforms. Such movements
of ‘revitalisation’, borrowing elements from Hinduism and promising a sudden
miraculous entry into a golden age, became increasingly typical in the period
1860-1920, generally following in the wake of defeated uprisings under traditional

Tribal clans believed that all forms of evils and immorality exist in the
British regime. They wanted to reestablish their life on the strong backings of
their cultural and religious principles. The tribal believed that only their religious
practices and way of life can save them and establish Dharma-raj in the Indian

• “A nation in-the-making”7

Surendranath Banerjee and Bala Gangadara Tilak coined this slogan during
the early stages of the freedom movement. The first major objective of the
founders of national movement was to promote the process of becoming a nation
or people, to weld Indians into a nation, to create an Indian people. It was
common for colonial administrators and ideologues to assert that Indians could
not be united or freed because they were not a nation or a people but a
geographical expression, a mere congeries of hundreds of diverse races and
creeds. The Indians did not deny this but asserted that they were now becoming

Indian National Congress, containing full texts of all Presidential Addresses, reprint of all the
Congress Resolutions etc., Madras, no date, Part-I, p386.

a nation. The congress leaders’ recoganised that objective historical forces were
bringing the Indian People together.

The British like all other westerners were employing their own
epistemology in understanding as well as evaluating India. They had no idea of a
distinct Indian epistemology, which is looking at the pluralities and multiplicities as
mere varieties of one ultimate principle and an underlying unity. For western
knowledge system, plurality amounts to differences, and there are no underlying
unifying aspects. Naturally, they found India as a Pandora’s Box, with several
multiplicities, which are unconnected. So they kept harping on the point that there
is no Indian culture. To them, there are many nations within India, and there are
many particular cultures; and no one Indian culture. Indians had achieved the
much wanted Indian unity through spirituality and culture right from the age of
Vedas; and to a great extent to the Hindu Dharma. Now it was the turn of the
political unity; and through the slogan, “A nation in the making”, the political unity
upon cultural and spiritual unity is envisaged. Nation in making is a symbolic
representation of the rising of a country from its own ashes and rich traditions of
the past.

• “Kings are made for the people, not people for their Kings” 8

Dadabhai Naoroji the grand old man of Indian National Movement raised
this slogan at the beginning stage of Congress. The early nationalist leaders saw
the internalisation and indegenisation of political democracy as one of their main
objectives. They based their politics on the doctrine of the sovereignty of the

The Indian culture and tradition is actually a coexistence of man, nature and
everything together. Indians did not hold the view that man is a special creation
and Gods created man in his own image. Neither Gods, nor Kings are angry feudal
lords, whose “wrath” is very fearsome. King as ‘Raja’ is merely an instrument for
the continuance of Dharma and for Dharma alone. Thus came into existence the
ideas of “Raja Dharma”. Raja is the head of the state but he is for the people and


righteousness. Machiavelli speaks about “ideological deception” by the Prince.

(Prince and other writings). He says that ‘ A prince need not have any qualities,
he simply has to make people believe that he has such qualities’, and
Machiavelli further says that ‘if one is a prince, then he knows how to deceive
people best’. But Indian culture is just opposite to this. Sree Rama had even
abandoned his wife Sita for the sake of just one of his subjects and uphold the
highest values. Thus Indian Kings are for the people, and not vice versa. Under
British rule the monarch was only for the monarchy alone not to the subjects.

According to Dadabhai Naoroji; the British as rulers ruled Indian only for the
well being of the Britain not for the Indian masses. He was much worried about
the economic depletion caused by the British rulers on India and reckless life of
the rulers as born to enjoy the luxuries of life with Indian men and material.

• “Murder according to every Shastra”9

The revolutionary slogan raised by Raja Rammohan Roy against the evil of
the practice of sati. An eighty-year- old Brahmin in Bengal had as many as two
hundred wives, the youngest being just eight year old. Several women hardly had
a married life worth the name, since their husbands participated in nuptial
ceremonies for a consideration and rarely set eyes on their wives after that. Yet
when their husbands died they were expected to commit sati which Rammohan
Roy described as a murder in the cruelest sense. Roy argued that sati had no
religious sanction.

The practice of Sati has absolutely nothing to do with Vedic religion. None of
the religious texts even speak about it. As a matter of fact Sati had become a
practice much later. It had even started after the invasions on India had begun.
The women had started jumping into huge fire, once they come to know that
their army including their husband had been defeated. The women knew that the
Muslim invading army shall come and take away the women for lust and fun, and
finally to be killed mercilessly. Once they had their way. So the Indian women,
who knew that death is impending in any case, they preferred to die with honour

Ghose, J., C., (1906). editor, English Works of Rammohan Roy, Allahabad: p312.

in the pyre of their husband. Subsequently such glorious dying became an honour
to womanhood, and even when there is no invading army; women began to die in
husband’s funeral pyre. With the setting in of decadence, it became compulsory,
and with Brahmanism intermingling with Zamindari system, Sati really became a
social evil. It is in this context that Rammohan Roy raised the slogan that Sati is a
murder according to every Sastras. His revolutionary thing paved the way for
widow remarriage and empowering the feminine. It was Rammohan Roy’s
thinking later strengthened the women folks to empower and come in the
forefront of the freedom movement.

• “The dead and the buried”10

Mahadeva Govinda Ranade and a doyen of reformers from Maharashtra

proclaimed this slogan. They argued that in the name of sati past need not be
recreated. They demanded there is neither need of a subjection of the present to
the past nor a blind resurrection of tradition. Ranade said the past is dead, buried
and burnt once for all and the dead past cannot therefore, be revived except by a
reformation of the old materials into a new organised forms.

Sati, or Juhar, started off as a practice of “escaping with honour through

committing suicide” had become one of the alarming evils of the Indian society.
Indeed India had great culture and tradition in the past; but both culture and
tradition does not mean blindly going to the past. One must realise that the effort
during the great renaissance was to reinvent culture and tradition for the present;
and once the present too becomes the past, this reinvention must go on.
Undoubtedly, Indian culture and tradition must remain as archetype, for this
process to go on. This slogan illustrates this meaning precisely. It asks the Indian
society not to get buried in the past but to think of the future with the strong
foundation of the past. Mahadeva Govinda Ranade wanted to rejuvenate and
revitalise the Indian freedom fighters with much motivation and enthusiasm.

Ranade, Mahadev, Govind., (1915)The Miscellaneous Writings, Bombay: p191.

• “Rationalism is our only preceptor”11

This slogan put forth by Raja Rammohan Roy highlights his strong faith in
truth and reasoning. Akshay Kumar Dutt too associated with Roy in the spread of
this slogan during the freedom movement. They asked the people to reject
supernatural likings and explanations. To them demonstrability is the sole criterion
for truth. This perspective not only enabled the freedom fighters to adopt a
rational approach to tradition but also to evaluate the contemporary socio-
religious practices from the stand point of social utility and to replace faith with

The era of positivism, scientificity was emerging in the west and empiricism
and rationalism had already made their impact. In India, there were many so
called custodians of culture and tradition who were suffering obsolesce; and
retarding social progression. Everything was being held back in the name of
culture and tradition. There had to be a reformation of these, and an escape route
from blind adherence to olden days without any stinch of reason. The reformers
of Indian society did appeal to reason in this context.

• “All prophets had the same (din) faith and every country and
nation had different prophets”12

Sayed Ahamed khan echoed this slogan when Raja Rammohan Roy at the
midst of freedom movement argued and considered different religions as national
embodiment s of Universal theism. The Brahmo Samaj was initially conceived by
him as a universalistic church. He was defender of the basic and universal
principles of all religions-the monotheism of the Vedas and the Unitarianism of the
Christianity- and at the same time attacked polytheism of Hinduism and the
trinitarianism of Christianity. Through this slogan Sayed Ahamed Khan too tried to
echo the same idea. Sir Sayed Ahamed Khan was one of the most powerful and
influential Muslim intellectuals of 1857 period. He was very close to the British and
was the ‘person’ who made Aligarh Muslim University out of the ‘Mohammaden
Anglo Oriental College’. The Muslim fear of a Hindu rule in India was primarily his
creation. In his famous two speeches at Meerut, he had unconditionally welcomed

Basu, P., S., (1940).ed. Life and Work of Brahmananda Kesha, Culcutta: p63.

the continuation of British rule and openly declared that Muslims prefer Christian
English men’s rule to Hindu rule. He warned the Muslims that the Nationalism of
Indian National Congress is Hindu nationalism and Muslims are a separate nation.
He forbid Muslims from joining Indian National Congress, but was opposed to the
idea of a separate Muslim party, for fear of offending his British friends.

Raja Rammohan Roy’s Brahma Samaj was appealing to Sayed Ahamed Khan
to shed the spirits of communalism and separatism, but still he was staunch on
his separate Islamic identity and Muslim nationhood. He could neither oppose nor
support the Brahma Samaj.

An interpretation of Islam would say that the ‘Din’ or God the Almighty had
sent prophets to all societies. To this extent, some Muslims would call Rama,
Krishna, Buddha etc as prophets, as they accept Moses, Jesus etc. But ultimately
Islam would speak about a single God and Mohammed as the last and final
Prophet. Sir Sayed Ahamed Khan was simply repeating this idea through this

• “Truths are to be found in all religions,

but all established religions of the world are true”13

Keshub Chandra Sen replied to Sayed Ahamed Khan with the above slogan.
Religion and religious beliefs and practices became a strong subject of heated
discussion during the renaissance period of the freedom struggle. Keshub
Chandra Sen with the help of this slogan tried for a Universalist perspective. He
said “Whoever worships the true God daily must learn to recoganise all his fellow
countrymen as brethren. Caste would vanish in such a society. If I believe that my
God is one, and that he has created us all, I must at the same time instinctively
and with all the warmth of natural feelings, look upon all around me-whether
Parsees, Hindus, Mohammadans or Europeans-as my brethren.”

Keshub Chandra Sen was repeating the universal attitude of the Hindu
Dharma. He elaborated the principle of “Ekam Sat, Vipra Bahudha Vadanti”. From
this universality, KC Sen was drawing logical implications to demonstrate


contradictions in religious conflicts and caste discriminations. When there is only

one reality and when all accept this, then why should religious quarrel? Isn’t this
quarrel simply a quarrel of methods and not desi deratum ? Similarly if all are
Gods creation, then why discrimination among human beings in the name of
religion and caste? Keshub Chandra Sen was trying to demonstrate these

• “One religion, one caste, and one God for mankind”14

Sree Narayana Guru Swami the great revolutionary and social reformer of
Kerala preached this slogan during the times of intense nationalism and
renaissance when they were shadowed by the petty casteism. Narayana Guru was
an unrelenting critic of the caste system and its consequences. In this context a
conversation between Mahatma Gandhi and Narayana Guru is relevant. Gandhiji,
in an obvious reference to Chaturvarna and the inherent differences in quality
between man and man, observed that all leaves of the same tree are not identical
in shape and texture. To this Narayana Guru pointed out that the difference is
only superficial, but not in essence: the juice of all leaves of a particular tree
would be the same in content. This strong slogan was an uncompromising war
declaration against the evils of caste system in India. With this slogan he fought
for the rights of the deprived classes.

Narayana Guru was essentially a Yogi, Sanyasi and a Vedanti, engaged in

meditation in a cave. Dr. Palpu came to Kerala after graduating in Medicine from
England, but the then Travancore administration refused to employ him since Dr.
Palpu was from the Ezhava caste; considered as lower by the others. Humiliated, Dr.
Palpu went to Swami Vivekanda for a solution when Swamiji was at Bangalore. After
hearing the young Doctor, Swamy Vivekanda advice him that spiritual emancipation is
the only solution and only a spiritual leader can socially break the caste system. He
advised Dr. Palpu to organise under a Sanyasi. Dr. Palpu came to know about an
‘Ezhava’ Sanyasi who is in meditation in a cave not so far away from settlements. He
along with his fellow beings approached the sage, who initially refused to be in the
mundane way, but finally yielded to the requests of the Ezhava elders, who, inspite of

Sanoo, M., K., (1976) Narayana Guru Swami, in Malayalam, Irinjalakuda: p441.

their education and wealth are being sidelined in the name of caste, and who were
not allowed to enter in temples for offering worships.

Under the leadership of the Sanyasi, whom they started calling ‘Guru ’, the
Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam was founded by Dr.Palpu, and began
the activities of destroying caste hierarchy. One of the initial breakthroughs of
Narayan Guru’s activity was to make a separate temple, where the lower caste
could enter and pray. This challenged the caste authorities, and there upon
Narayana Guru had made several temples all over Kerala for the down trodden.
The celebrated poet Kumaranasan also joined the struggle, making it more
formidable. Borrowing heavily from the Advaita Vedanta of Sankaracharya,
Narayana Guru raised the slogan of “One religion, one caste, and one God for
mankind” to attack the obstinate custodians of religion and culture. This indeed
was a revolution of social reformation in Kerala, and many joined the process
directly by associating with the SNDP movement and indirectly by various other
movements. Thus in the same land of Sankaracharya, another Vedanti started
spilling out the same principles of ‘Unqualified Monism’, (Advaita Vedanta), this
time in Malayalam, the local language in a much simpler manner. Narayana Guru
also found time to write about spirituality and social reality. From his writings his
stature gets revealed. What could have been his contributions to Indian culture
and social renaissance? He could have become another Ramana Maharshi or Rishi
Aurabindo if he were born in a mother tongue other than Malayalam. Indeed, he
had to spend much of his time with the organisation as its first resident and for
the social cause and his people who were treated worse than a slave. It was
Narayana Guru’s revolutionary thinking inspired and persuaded even Mahatma
Gandhi to turn against the evils of caste system and Chaturvarna.

• “ Indian is starving, he is dying off at the slightest touch,

living on insufficient food”15

This slogan coined and phrased by Dadabhai Naoroji give us an insight to

the pathetic situation of life faced by an Indian on the economic exploitation of

For a short treatment of the subject, see Bipan Chandra, The Rise and Growth of Economic
Nationalism in India, New Delhi, 1966, Chapter-1. For details, see Dadabhai Naoroji, Poverty an
Un-British Rule in India, London, 1901, and speeches and writings, Madras, no date.

India by the British. Dadabhai Naoroji was father of the nationalistic economic
agitation started with the assertion that Indians were poor and were growing
poorer everyday under British rule. Naoroji made poverty his special subject and
spent his entire life awakening the Indian and British Public to the ‘continuous
impoverishment and exhaustion of the country’ and ‘the wretched, heart-rending,
blood boiling condition of India’.

Given India as we see and experience, it shall rather be amusing that

perhaps all invaders came to this land, attracted by the wealth. India was one of
the wealthiest in the world, right from ancient times, and, if is not even a dream
now too. When the British came, much of India’s wealth had already been taken
away by the invaders through centauries and with the British drain and looting,
the scene became complete; that nothing more was left for anyone else to make
India attractive any longer. It is now a known fact that Industrial revolution in
England was not so much caused by the invention of steam engine but as caused
by the material wealth looted from the Indian subcontinent. Further British
industries had systematically destroyed all cottage industries of India mercilessly
and cunningly. The status of the Indigo cultivators at that time as quoted by the
then Viceroy aptly narrates the state of poverty and starvation during that time.
-‘the bones of the Indigo cultivators are bleaching the Indian soil’. Some
Historians says that – Railway are one of the main contributions of the British rule
in India. But the railways were not intended and started by the British as a
welfare measure for India. They made it to suit their purpose and design of raw
material export and transportation; indirectly effort to loot the wealth of nation to
an optimum level. Introduction of railways in India was the result of a conspiracy
to facilitate the speedy movement of goods and raw materials from India to the
British factories. The once very wealthy nation become extremely impoverished,
with many Indian’s dying out of starvation and poverty. This slogan compresses
the most pathetic position of an average Indian to a single line of historic
expression. Life under British rule was miserable and terrific because their
foundation of colonialism was built on the economic imperialism and exploitation.

• “Decorating another’s wife” 16

Bala Gangadhara Tilak raised this satirical slogan during 1901, citing that
British constructed railways in India for the benefit of the Industries in Britain. He
argued that the newly constructed railways were not coordinated with India’s
industrial needs. English were ushered in a commercial and not an industrial
revolution which enabled imported foreign goods to undersell domestic industrial
products. Nationalists argued that the benefits of railway construction in India
directly contribute to the boosting of industrial Britain. He argued that the
expenditure on railways should be seen as an Indian subsidy to British industry.

Indeed, the railways in India was meant to decorate another man’s wife;
Britain. The Indian wealth amassed had already been utilised for the Industrial
revolution in Britain, and with the railways becoming operational they were
making the two way destruction a full one. On the one hand they were
transporting raw materials for the British industry from India, and on the other
hand, they were flooding Indian markets with finished products. Apart from these
they had also destroyed the small scale cottage industries in India. English East
India Company acted as the leech to suck the blood from the Indian production
sector through the introduction of railways. Using the blood and sweat of Indians,
the railways were instrumental in decorating another’s wife indeed. This attitude
of British before a century can be equated with the modern day capitalist market
oriented imperialism

• “No drain”17

This is the type of slogan that all successful movements need-It did not have
to be proved by sophisticated and complex arguments. It had a sort of immanent
quality about it; it was practically self evident. Nor could the foreign rulers could
do anything to appease the people on this question. Modern colonialism was
inseparable from the drain. No other idea could arouse people more than the
thought that they were being taxed (drained) so that others in far off lands might

Gopal, Ram., (1965). Lokamanya Tilak, Bombay: p148.
Dutt, R., C., (1956) Economic History of India Under Early British Rule, London: p420.

live in comfort. The drain theory became the main staple of nationalist political
agitation during Gandhian era too.

British colonialism was very effective in mercilessly sucking unto the last
drop of Indian vitality and energy. India was getting drained of recklessly because
of the British greed. Previous invaders had only taken away visible and
established Indian wealth, but the British had looted the very Indian vitality, so
that their product could be sold and the Industries back in England shall flourish.
The drain indeed was so complete even a child could mark its effects everywhere.
From time immemorial British greed was seen in the form of invasion and
successions. They established colonies and promoted racialism in order to divide
and rule the most powerful men and material. This slogan highlighting the
merciless drain can be compared and contrasted with traits of modern day
globalisation and its exploitation.

• “Every fence begins to feed on crop”18

This phrase was framed by the ex-president of Congress P. Ananda Charlu

from Tamil Nadu. He shouted it in the then Legislative Council. He proclaimed that
India is treated as a vast pasture for the Europeans to feed upon. Ananda Charlu
said ‘While India is safe-guarded against foreign inroads by the strong arms of
British power; she is defenseless in matters where the English and Indian
Interests clash and where the very fence begins to feed on the Indian crop’.

Fences are made to protect and safe guard the crops. They stop and
prevent the trespassers and poachers from entering and destroying the crops. In
the early stage majority of the Indians had a feeling of safety and security from
the British. The English were considered as the fences of protection and safety.
But Indian situation had become so desperate, since the fence themselves started
destroying; what they were supposed to protect the land, society and wealth
under their governance. The British government, which is supposed to be akin to
fence of crops, was doing exactly the opposite. The British government used all
the power and machineries to one ultimate purpose, to take away everything

Abstract of the proceedings of the Council of Governor-General of India, 1896, Vol.XXXV, p85.

from India. All British machineries were functioning towards this end, and every
fence began to feed on crops. Analysing the history through out that the mighty
British Empire adopted a strategy of establishing sympathetically and ruling
ferociously with all crooked means and ways. They pretends like lamb and act like
lions on prey. In modern day all the monopolies and transnational business
groups behave like this British manner, gently establish with sympathy and engulf
the host mercilessly.

• “Pay strike on the back, but don’t strike on the belly”19

Dadabhai Naoroji used this slogan in his daily articles and speech during
1903. He framed this slogan to criticise the British offered ‘the face of beneficence’
and benefits of British law and order in India. Naoroji commented that ‘Under the
native despot the people keep and enjoy what they produce, though at times they
suffer some violence on the back. Under the British Indian despot the man is at
peace, there is no violence; his substance is drained away, unseen peaceably and
subtly-he starve is peace and peaceably perishes in peace, with law and order’.

Even when the Indian societies were under the rule of the worst despots’
the food for the hungry millions were not taken away. Rules must have been
harsh, worries must have been more, but an Indian farmer was never
impoverished. He never had to starve, and his children had clothes to wear and
huts to shelter. There must have been conflicts among the Indian kings and
despots at frequent intervals, and even low and poor operations of law and order.
But under the British rule in India there existed a systematic law and order but
there was nothing to eat. They were stabbing on the very stomach of Indians;
just leaving them starve to death. This shows the blood and iron policy of British.
The English were cunningly crooked in making Indians suffer in the cruelest

• “Varna bhavi pedi, tuma kose gi”

‘Posterity will blame you’. Those Hench men of the coloned rulers
enthusiastically became instruments to oppression at the British hands. Self

Naoroji, Dadbhai.,(1901)Poverty and Un-British Rule in India, London: pp224-5.

respecting and proud Indians were coerced. Nationalists asked these lots to
change themselves, or their future generations shall blame them for treachery.
This slogan implies the meaning and call for boycott, non cooperation to the
Indians who are still serving the British rule in India. Many Indians were employed
in the ICS service. Indian nationalist’s leaders were advocating them to resign and
asking them to fight for the Indian freedom movement. They were cautioning the
Indians who were supporting the British rulers. The future generation will blame
the Indians those who supported the British as traitors. Every air was filled with
spirit of patriotism, every men was inspired by nationalism, every movement was
aimed at over throwing the British rule, so any one who works and does favours
for the British will be a betrayal on the freedom movement. When British loose
the ground support they will be compelled to leave India, that was the political
and moral strategy hidden inside this slogan.

• “Swaraj”20

‘Self-government or Swaraj’ this slogan was first raised in Indian on the

1906 session of the congress at Calcutta by the Dadabhai Naoroji. As the
president of the Indian National Congress Dadabhai Naoroji at the Calcutta
session of the Congress laid down that the goal of national movement as self-
government or Swaraj, like that of the United Kingdom or the colonies. Until the
end of the 19th century, Indian nationalists confined their political demands to a
share in political power and control over the purse; by 1905 most of the
prominent nationalists were putting forward the demand for some form of self
government. Here again Dadabhai Naoroji was the advanced. In 1905 Benaris
session of the Indian National Congress Dadabhai Naoroji categorically asserted:
’self-government is the only remedy for Indian woes and wrongs’.

Against all protests, 1905 witnessed the division of India into Hindu Muslim
lines. Bengal was divided into Hindu Bengal and Muslim Bengal in 1905.prominent
Muslim leaders was advocating the two nation theory implicitly. Muslim leaders
believed and spread the notion that Indian National Congress is for Hindu
Nationalism, and some of them wanted a separate Muslim party. The British

Ibid., p73.

wanted to extend their stay through the game of hide and seek; appearing here and
there. The Minto-Morley reforms were designed to eye wash the agitating
nationalists, but they did the mistake of appeasing the Muslims more, through
dividing Bengal as Hindu Bengal and Muslim Bengal in 1905.In the very next year, in
1906, All India Muslim League was also formed from Muslim Bengal, Dhaka.

The agitating nationalists soon relished the eye washing diplomacy of the
British. Colonial rulers were giving ‘piece meal’ self governance, which may apparently
look like self governance, but only deceptively. So the mainstream nationalists
leaders and the Indian national Congress decided to demand nothing short of full
independence and the complete withdrawal of British from India. Then they started
demanding ‘Swaraj’, - “Purna Swaraj” and nothing short of that. So great was the
impact of the Swaraj slogan, many people started adopting the term Swaraj as title
name for their family and even for the children; with the first name as Swaraj. This
happened throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Swaraj or ‘my motherland’ was the final cry of Indian independence which
signified the love, pride, prestige and patriotism towards the motherland. The
Swaraj slogan is so close to the heart of the freedom fighters; with the flame and
ignition of self pride and self esteem. Swaraj became a wild fire with the
potentials of the holiness in the concept of motherhood. The Swaraj slogan
created a dignity in the minds of the freedom fighters and compels them to
pledge for the freedom of mother India. Swaraj slogan superseded the constraints
of language and geography. It even created space and air of its own for the feel
of divinity in the status of mother hood. The slogan Swaraj rekindled the endless
love of a citizen towards the motherland. It got metamorphed into the most
powerful slogan of Sampurna Swaraj in the final fire of independence.

• “Oppose, oppose, oppose”21

This slogan was cited as the motto of the Indian press during the times of
nationalism. Nearly all major political controversies of the day were conducted
through the press. It played the institutional role of opposition to the British

Lord Dufferin to Secretary of State, 21 March and 17 May1886, Dufferin Papers.

Government. Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy, wrote as early as March1886: ‘Day after
day, hundreds of sharp-witted babus pour forth their indignation against their
English oppressors in very pungent and effective diatribe’. And again in May: ‘In
this way there can be no doubt there is generated in the minds of those who read
these papers…… a sincere conviction that we are all of us the enemies of mankind
in general and of India in particular’. Almost every act and every policy of the
government was subjected to sharp criticism by the Indian Press, in many cases
with great care and vast learning backing it up.

The Indian press during the freedom struggle served their political function in
the most effective manner. They became collective agitators, planned organisers,
awakened political educators, and rational communicators in the most efficient
manner. The ideology of the nationalists press was solely focused on the aim and
objective of Indian independence. Many of the nationalist leader served their role as
the ‘prosummers’ (reporters, editors, distributors and consumers with in their
individual identity) of Indian National press during the freedom struggle. With the
Sampurna Swaraj and nothing short of it as the slogan and the agenda, the
nationalist’s agitation became very spirited and formidable. The vernacular Indian
press at that time took a decision to totally oppose all British step, all their doings and
undoing’s. Leaders started regularly writing and preaching against the British.
Purposeful agenda setting and editorialising was done continuously to create anti
British feeling in the most vehement manner. The slogan of oppose, oppose, oppose
typically shows the uncompromising attitude of the ethnic Indian Press.

• “Boycott foreign cloth”22

Bala Gangadhar Tilak in 1896 coined this revolutionary slogan which ignited
the minds of Indians with anti-imperialist feelings. In 1896 he organised an all
Maharashtra campaign for the boycott of foreign cloth in protest against the
imposition of excise duty on cotton. In 1893 onwards, he started the practice of
using the traditional religious Ganapati festival to propagate nationalist’s ideas
through patriotic songs and speeches. In 1896, he started the Shivaji festival to
stimulate nationalism among young Maharastrians. This slogan proclaiming the

Tahamankar, D., V., (1956). Lokamanya Tilak, London:, p73.

boycott of foreign cloth is symbolic ideal preaching the self reliance and self
sustenance of Indian small scale cottage industries.

Boycott of foreign goods was the result of strong political and economic
acumen of the Indian leaders. They recoganised that the sole aim of the English
East India company was to make India economically ruined and convert India to a
market for their finished goods. The considered Indian sub continent as an
avenue to strengthen the British economy after the success of industrial
revolution. Boycott of foreign clothes was only a finger against the arm against
the British imperialism. The immediate cause was the imposition of tax on cotton,
which the British used to carry as raw materials to the mills in England. The made
readymade clothes in the industrialised spinning mills in England and imported
back to the Indian markets. It is said that the Indian markets were flooded with
British foreign goods, as result the average and marginal cotton cultivators and
cloth manufacturers suffered lot. The intelligent British considered India as the
feeding grounds for superior quality raw materials and wider market for revenue.

Boycotting foreign made clothes and substituting handloom in place of them

eventually resulted in retaliating the British policy in an economic and political
manner. The after effect was tremendous. People started burning foreign clothes
publically; huge fires were set under the leadership of Freedom fighters in order
to burn imported foreign goods. All on a sudden the Indian markets stopped
trading foreign made clothes. The mills in England faced lockouts, and the British
domestic industry and revenue department trembled in the tremor of Indian
leader’s political decision to boycott all imported foreign materials. In this modern
day of globalisation too the slogan of boycott is of great relevance and
significance in resisting the financial and economic imperialism implemented by
the big economic blocks on the developing third world countries.

• “No taxation without representation” 23

This slogan was raised by a nationalists leader in protest against the Act of
1892. This slogan was borrowed from the western political thought. The

Malaviya, Mohan, Madan., Speeches, Madras: no date, p26.

nationalist’s leaders forced the government to make some changes in the

legislative functioning by the Indian council of 1892. The number of additional
members of the Imperial and Provincial Legislative Councils were raised from the
previous six to ten and ten to sixteen.The Indian members included in the council
were given the right to discuss the annual budget but they could not neither vote
on it nor move a motion to amend it. The nationalist leaders saw in it a mockery.
The Council was impotent and despotism ruled. They demanded a majority for
non-official elected members with the right to vote on the budget and, thus, to
control the public purse. This slogan symbolised the cardinal principle of
responsible democracy. Throughout the world all democratic movements used this
universal slogan as a demand for the right to represent and the right to equality.
This slogan represents the demanding right of an individual and a community of
different races and genders to be equally represented and participated. People
construct and form the government; so they demand equal representation and
participation both in the decision making and implementation. The demand for
right to representation highlights the right to express opinion and to argue. The
citizens are the part and parcel of the governments so they have to be equally
represented and empowered.

• “Boycott Manchester cloth and Liverpool salt”24

This slogan had aroused as a result of the formal proclamation of the

Swadeshi Movement on 7 August 1905, in a meeting held at Calcutta Town Hall.
The famous boycott resolution was passed in this meeting. Surendranath
Banerjee toured the country urging the boycott of Manchester cloth and Liverpool
salt. The message of boycott went home is evident from the fact that the value of
British cloth sold in some of the mofussil districts fell by five to fifteen times.

From time immemorial itself British traders marketed their product with
brand identity and image. This slogan simply highlights that how Britishers
marketed their products and propagated its uniqueness in the form of a brand
building strategy that too in the name of a region or a technique of production.
English educated Surendranath Banerjee identified this British business strategy

Haridas, and Uma Mukherejee., (1958). India’s Fight in Freedom or the Swadeshi Movement
1905-06, p162.

and awakened the illiterate masses by pinpointing to the strategic of business


• “Bande Mataram”25

The song from Bankin Chandra Chaterjee’s ‘Anandha Matom’ became the
most revolutionary slogan of the Indian freedom movement on 16the October
1905; when the Bengal partition took place. This slogan ignites the most holy
thought of praising the motherland. It is said that Bande Mataram became the
theme slogan of the movement against the Bengal partition. A day of mourning
was declared against partition in Bengal. People fasted and no fires were lit at the
cooking hearth. In Calcutta a hartal was declared. People took out processions
and band after band walked barefoot, bathed in the Ganges in the morning. And
then paraded the streets singing Bande Mataram, which almost spontaneously.
People tied rakhis on each others’ hand as a symbol of the unity of the two halves
of Bengal.

Indian National existence can hardly be separated from spirituality and

Indian culture. It is an age old culture of Indians to look at their birth land as the
holy mother itself. The Bande Mataram in the Anand Mutt of Bankin Chandra was
perhaps the most apt patriotic poem which ignited the spirits of Indians to fight
for the mother land. The poem Bande Mataram was originally written in Sanskrit
in the Bengali Novel. The song describes and praises the mother land and equates
her with mother Goddess. Naturally the song had gone deep into the Indian
minds, which still today is sung as the most patriotic song. It is a matter of
serious concern that the deeply religious Bengalis resisted and opposed the
division of Bengal by imbibing the strength and spirit of the Hinduism and the
ideals of it. No one in the Bengali family cooked food, they observed fasting, they
took holy dip in the Ganges, and protested the division of Bengal by conducting
mass prayers. Tying Rakhi to one another’s hand was practiced extensively
throughout Bengal, it is again a ritual of showing solidarity and brother hood. All
these spiritual deeds generated high hand will power, mental integrity, strong
power to resist the British in the soil of Bengal itself. Indeed the dream of Swami

Ibid., p109.

Vivekanda was becoming true; Indians were converted to spiritually awakened

citizens to fight against the oppressing alien rule.

• “Swadeshi”26

The Indian National Congress took up the Swadeshi call at the Benaris
session presided over by Gopala Krishna Gokhale in 1905. The militant nationalists
led by Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lajpat Rai and Aurobindo Gosh were, however, in
favour of extending the movement to the rest of India and carrying it beyond
the programme of Just Swadeshi and boycott to full fledged political mass
struggle. It was in Barisal Conference on April 1906, the slogan of Swadeshi was
made as a mass movement into the Indian Freedom Movement. The Barisal
Conference President Abdul Rasul proclaimed that ‘what we could not accomplish
in 50 or100 years, the great disaster, and the partition of Bengal, has done for us
in six months. Its fruits have been the great national movement known as
Swadeshi ’. The message of Swadeshi and the Boycott of foreign goods soon
spread to the rest of the country. Lokamanya Tilak took the movement to
different parts of India, especially in Poona and Bombay, Ajith Singh and Lala
Lajpat Rai spread the Swadeshi message in Punjab and other parts of North India.
With the start of Swadeshi slogan at the turn of the century, the Indian national
Movement took a major leap forward. The important aspect of Swadeshi slogan is
the great emphasis of self-reliance or ‘Atmasakti’ as a struggle against the ruling.
The Swadeshi movements with its multi-faceted programme and activity was
able to draw for the first time large sections of society into active participation in
modern nationalistic politics and still larger section to the ambit of modern political

The slogan of Swadeshi was ahead of the time and tides. It was far above
the political cause but much above the spirit of protecting, safeguarding the real
ethnic Indianness both in the men and material of the Indian sub continent. It
created a feeling of self reliance, self sustenance’s, and self esteem in protecting
both the Indian small scale cottage industry and the millions of manual labourers
in India. During the post Minto–Morley and Montague – Chelmsford reforms and

Ibid., p109.

dividing of Bengal as Hindu Muslim Bengal went a long way in opening the eyes of
the masses. All gimmicks played by the British suddenly became exposed;
nationalists realised that- they really have to press and protest hard to the core.
Dividing the Bengal into Hindu and Muslim Bengal gave the much expected shock
to the Indian public sphere; and suddenly the nationalists movement took an over
turn. Boycotting foreign goods, singing vande mataram, agitating for sampurna
swaraj, propagating spiritual and religious nationalism all added the fuel for the
spirit of Swadeshi and to take pride in being Indian and also in what is true India.

• “Force must be stopped by force”27

When the British police started to charge and use power on the Barisal
Conference of Indian National Congress in April 1906; the revolutionary
newspaper the ‘Yugantar’ pronounced this revolutionary slogan as the headline of
it; trumpeting the Indian masses to retaliate against the British cruelty. Yugantar
wrote ‘The thirty crores of people inhibiting India must raise their sixty crores of
hands to stop this curse of oppression. Force must be stopped by force. Probably
this slogan had signified the growth of extremist phase in the freedom movement.
Extremist phase praised the sense of self-sacrifice and courage.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is an age old proverb which can be
equated with this slogan. It typifies and affirms the Newton’s law of motion in the
humanity too. Even though majority of the Indian freedom fighters preached non-
violence’ but there were extremists too who often preached that Indians must
retaliate the British oppression in the same manner. Often the English used the
force to disperse the Indian public gatherings with arms and ammunitions. Many
were cruelly beaten up and tortured in the prisons. This slogan proclaims that
British cruelty must be treated in the same and equal manner of approach. “Eed
ka javab ka pather se” is an age old Indian proverb, which is similar to this slogan
too. Eed means bricks, and Pathar means stone. When one is attacked by bricks,
the reply must be made through stones; which is harder than bricks. Unarmed
poor Indians were often attacked by the British forces in an unexpected manner
with modern weaponry; so the extremist national leaders preached and raised this

Mukherjee, Hirendranath., (1948). India’s Struggles for Freedom, Bombay: p96.

slogan to react and respond to the British cruelty in the same manner by either
physical or material forces.

• “Abhinav Bharat”28

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the great nationalist revolutionary framed this

visionary slogan in 1904. He even started a secret society of revolutionaries in the
name of Abhinav Bharat. Savarkar cherished a dream of powerful modern India
with pride and prestige. Savarkar preached the self sacrifice and courage needed
for the youth to the reconstruction of the motherland through individual action
and heroism. Through this slogan he created revolutionary energies, positive
outlook among the youth to hold strong feelings of selfless patriotism.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, later known as ‘Svatantra Vir’, was one of the
stalwarts who internalised India in totality. For Savarkar, Indian pride is foremost,
and it must come from deep within, through an awakened consciousness of
Indian heritage, culture and spirituality. He wanted to reestablish the lost glory of
Indian nation. But regaining the lost glory is not blindly going back to the past
through conformism; it is rather reinventing the past glory in the present times.
Further, the process of this reinvention must be an ongoing one on a continuous
basis and thus the Indian culture and tradition shall ever remain dynamic and
alive. He dreamt of constructing a modern India through sincerity, hard work,
morality, ethics, and ideals; on the rich foundation of religion, tradition and
spirituality. Vir Savarkar was the symbol of dynamism and spontaneity in the
Indian freedom movement. Savarkar often empasised the need of building a
strong and powerful modern India on the principles of discipline, uniformity and
selfless sacrifice for the mother land.

• “Angrezi Raj ka Dushman”29

‘An Enemy of British Rule’: On November 1st, 1913, the Gadhar militants
published this slogan as masthead on the front page of their publication ‘Gadhar’ .
Gadhar was published in Urdu. The name of the paper left no doubt s as its aim.

‘Ghadar Conspiracy Report, 1913-16,’ by Isemonger and Slattery, (1922), reproduced in Bhai Nahar
Singh and Kripal Singh, editors, Struggle for Free Hindustan, (Ghadar Movement) Vol.1, 1905-1916,
New Delhi: 1986, pp17-21.

Gadhar means Revolt. On the front page of each issue Gadhar published a feature
title ‘Angrezi Raj Ka Chittha’ or ‘An Expose of British Rule’. This Chittha consisted
of fourteen points enumerating the harmful effects of the British rule, including
the drain of wealth, the low per capita income of Indians, the highland tax, the
contrast between the low expenditure on health and the high expenditure on the
military, the destruction of Indian arts and industries, the recurrence of famines
and plague that killed millions of Indians etc.

Anti British emotions were so much on the high, it started coming out
explicitly in press. Gadhar went to the extent of publishing this slogan for the
militant nationalists. This slogan encouraged the blood boiling young Indians even
to consider the British race as the evil enemies ever existed in the world. British
materialistic exploitation and looting was on the peek during the colonial rule.
India turned to be a devastated and ruined country, nothing was left behind; even
the Indian pride and prestige was questioned by the Britishers. This made the
Gadhar militants to use the most hated and aggressive words against them.

• “Let us go back to Vedas”

“I want men with muscles of iron and nerves of steel”

Dayananda Saraswathi and the Arya Samajists propagated this idea of going
back to Vedas as the only solution for all Indian problems. Maharshi Dayananda
Saraswathi found that all knowledge already existing in the Vedas; so only he
asked every Indians to go back to the Vedas for all problems. Dayananda
Saraswathi was strongly of the belief that only through an ideal citizenry with the
strong backings of Vedic principles that India can solve all its problems. Many
criticised Dayananda Saraswathi as a Hindu fundamentalists but in the real sense
he was a committed nationalists with morals ideals and principles. He was always
proud of India heritage and Vedic principles. His philosophy was the philosophy of
Ramarajya and ideal nation hood in which every citizen is bound to wisdom
nobility and ethics.

Dayananda Saraswathi always dreamt of a powerful India with men of

strong will power and spirituality. He was deeply conscious about the influence of
religion in the Indian soil. As strong nationalists Dayananda Saraswathi was

emphasising the need of discipline for the Indian citizens and that must be
imbibed from the ideals morals, principles and ethics of the Vedas. He considers
Vedic texts as a guideline both for the nation and the citizens to live and exist in a
noble manner. Dayananda Saraswathi was very particular about the psychology of
Indianness and the mental state of being an Indian. His principle was laid on the
foundation that only strong minds can build and maintain a strong and powerful
nation. Volunteerism for the service of nation was considered as the highest form
of patriotism by Dayananda Saraswathi. His concept of will power, mental status,
discipline, volunteerism, sincerity and nobility was far ahead of his times.
Dayananda Saraswathi was a man of flesh and blood with high spirituality and
emancipation. For him Vedic texts were not Hinduism but it was an eternal holy
text for the ideal living of a human being in the earth.

• “We are not Sikhs or Punjabis,

Our religion is Patriotism”30

The peasant and Communist Leader Sohan Singh Bhakna coined this slogan.
It carried a rational theme of nationalism ahead of regionalism. This slogan was
aimed at wiping out the self image of the Punjabi, and especially of the Punjab
Sikh, that was created by the Ghadar movement was that of an Indian who had
betrayed his motherland in 1857 by siding with the foreigner and who had
therefore, to make amends to Bharat Mata, by fighting for her honour.

The slogan shows the staunch unity in the minds of the Indians beyond the
narrow constrains of diversity and regionalism. By tradition, heritage and the
imbibed religious spirituality Indian mindset exhibits a broadness of nationalism
and patriotism ahead of boundaries and territories. This slogan highlights that
Indian public sphere and civil society has already owned a true status of a federal
republic even in the times of warring princely states. Men and material in the
Indian subcontinent is truly guided by the ‘lighthouse’ of nationalism and
patriotism. India and Indianness is the golden grains deposited in the big ocean of
patriotism. Sikhs and Punjabis were often known in the history as brave warriors
and patriots who were in the forefront of freedom struggle. Even in this era of

Puri, Harish, K., (1983).The Ghadar Movement, Amritsar: pp31-32.

globalisation; India exhibits the status of true federal republic both in theory and
practice, ahead of diversity in way of life and multiplicity in languages, traditions,
religion and geography. Different and diverse ideologies may coexist and function
peacefully in this subcontinent but there exists the strong binding force of
nationalism and staunch patriotism.

• “Jo bole so nihal,

Sat sri Aka,
Raj karega Khalsa”

The Khalsa (Sikhs) will rule – This slogan was proclaimed by the great Sikh
revolutionary Tara Singh. Khalse used to be the army of the Sikhs, Who are great
nationalists and patriots. They were the only force who could effectively counter
aggressive Muslim invaders. Khalse shall rule; foreign elements shall be thrown
out. This slogan speaks about the Sikhs strength, courage, determination and
dedication, which indeed amply testified and demonstrated through history, and
through the deeds of the Sikhs. Sikhs as a religious community always felt proud
of their religion and their rent less spirit of patriotism. They believed in the
integrity of Sikhs to die for the nation till the last drop of blood. Their religious
customs and practices made them more courageous and strong. They were hard
working and family bound. Sikhs as a patriotic community contributed lot to the
freedom movement of India. Sikhs were born warriors and brae patriots. This
slogan signifies that they have the capacity to resist any army from outside.
Khalsa was the ‘mightiest’ of all the army for the Sikhs. They were ready to use
the Khalsa for the final war against the British. Khalsa army of the Sikhs fought
well, many accepted and received martyrdom with the smile. Through the history,
right from the Muslim invasion Khalsa army succeeded in defending the external
forces from outside India.

• “If a God were to tolerate untouchability,

I would not recognise him as God at all”31

The words shouted by Bala Gangadhara Tilak became a roaring slogan

against the untouchability which existed in India. This slogan shows that
Lokamanya had no trace of regional or linguistic Marathi Chauvinism. His stand on

Pradhan, G., P., & Bhagwat, A., K., (1959) Lokamanya Tilak: A Biography, Bombay: pp265-66.

the question of non-Brahmin representation and on the issue of untouchability

demonstrated that he was no casteist either. To the non-Bhramins Tilak explained
that the real difference was not between Brahmin and non-Brahmin, but between
the educated and non educated.

For a long time, Indian society remained under foreign rule and did not
produce any social reformers. Foreign rule had furthered the natural decadence
and the society and its practices needed drastic reforms. Apart from the practices
like sati, polygamy, female infanticide, one of the most condemnable evil in the
Indian society was the caste system and untouchability. Some of the champions
even appealed to the Vedic Varnashramam and the Smriti of Maharshi Manu to
find justifications for caste distinctions which made Indian society actually divided
into many camps of parochialism on the basis of birth and inheritance.

In this crucial juncture ‘Lokamanya Tilak’ the popular icon of nobility, ethics,
wisdom and human rights coupled the freedom movement with the social
renaissance and reformation. He made the light rays of progressiveness and
constructive thoughts to penetrate into the Indian soil. It was the foremost
requirement to destroy the caste system to make the Indian society united. The
British rulers often had a hidden agenda of promoting the caste system beyond
business interest in the Indian soil in order to make the Asian identity
disintegrated and weaken. Bala Gangadhara Tilak was the hope and the ideal in
raising voice against evils of cast system. He even influenced the thoughts and
ideals of patriots including Mahatma Gandhi to turn against Chaturvana and caste
discriminations. The first step to prove this was he established that there is no
Vedic support to the Indian caste system and narrow discriminations. This slogan
by Tilak beats at the right sensitive portion preaching casteism. The thoughts and
preaching’s of Tilak against the caste system was the roaring voice, rising tide and
ignited fire on the Indian living and life. He was placed on the epitome of an ideal
human being imbibed with the qualities of a global citizenry.

• “Ap loha Garam hai, Lohe par chot Karo”

‘Strike while the iron is hot’. ‘Now the iron is hot, strike at the iron’-
BalagangadharaTilak was making the final war cry through this slogan. When the

British are shaky, hit them hard: they will feel the impact heavy. Tilak was
comparing the British to the raw metal. He was very particular of the time
element in his words. Tilak believed that it is time for the British to leave India. He
had coined many slogans related to the freedom movement. His idea was to strike
at the British in a most wild manner. They don’t deserve any mercy or
consideration. Tilak was called as Lokamanya Tilak because of his politeness and
his wisdom between the words and deeds. He was a man of rationality than that
of emotions. Learned to the core, cultured at the perception and outlook, rational
at the words and deeds, perfect at the communication were the qualities of Tilak
as a most revered freedom fighter. This slogan is the final call from Tilak to the
Indian masses to over through the British by taking advantage of the situation.
This slogan is a worldly truth, that any metal can be beaten into shape when it is
red hot. It means that the condition of the British rulers in India is much worse;
this is the apt time for the Indians to awake and act. Tilak sensed the apt time for
the freedom fighters to strike hard against the British rule and make the protest in
wilder manner.

• “Home Rule”32

Home rule league and this slogan was launched at the Bombay provincial
Conference held at Belgaum in April 1916.Annie Besant and her followers of
theosophical movement. They argued that India must be granted self-government
on the lines of the white colonies after the World War. Her tone became more
peremptory and her stance more aggressive. Annie Besant announced the
formation of her Home Rule League, with George Arundale, her theosophical
follower, as the organising secretary.

In the beginning Theological society argued for a representative government

or a league of governance in the Indian soil as which was practiced in other
British colonies throughout the world. Later on seeing the blood and iron policy of
the different Viceroys and the inhuman attitude of the British rulers the slogan
and its practice changed to a complete home rule demand. From every quarter

Bombay police (1915), par. 568(b) cited in H.F.Owen, ’Towards Nation-Wide Agitation and
Organisation: The Home Rule leagues, 1915-18’, in D.A. Low, (1968) editor, Soundings in
Modern South Asian History, Berkeley and Los Angeles: pp265-66.

the demand for home rule began to be more and more intense. This home rule
slogan can be considered as the earliest and initial form of the liberation theology
which later became the reformist’s movement even in the strongest
institutionalised religion like Christianity. Home rule demand was strongly founded
on the spiritual platform which had a global outlook in terms of enlightenment and
awakening through the principle of sustainable coexistence, non violence,
humanism etc. Home rule was considered as a remedy to lessen the friction
between Indian rulers and widen the area of cooperation and sharing of power.
Home rule was also deeply criticised stating as a hidden British strategy to
sabotage the intensified freedom struggle.

• “Fight unto death against such a spirit of vindictiveness and


Mahatma Gandhi was the president of the ‘Gujarath Sabha’ , which played a
leading role in the agitation. It was in such an agitation in 1908 Gandhi put forth
this slogan to the peasant masses. Appeals and petitions were filed and Gandhiji
advised the farmers to with hold the tax and asked the farmers to show that ‘it is
impossible to government without their consent’. Against the cruel tyrannical
British rule, the Indians had to demonstrate their strength and determination. To
instill confidence and to associate the farmers in the massive freedom movement
this slogan was spun.

Millions of farmers received the call of Mahatma Gandhi in the ferocious

battle against the foreign rule; they lined behind Mahatma Gandhi in order to
protect their lively hood. The British rulers were squeesing the Indian agricultural
community in a number of ways. They flooded the Indian markets with foreign
readymade goods, imposed heavy tax burden on Indian farmers and agricultural
products, restricted the trade and export relations with other European or Middle
East Nations, encourage and promoted the Zamindari or feudal system, destroyed
the cottage industries, imposed strict tax collection methods; in short Indian
agriculture sectors and farmers were squeesed by the repressive measures of the
British rulers. Mahatma Gandhi took earnest steps in consolidating the massive

Gandhi, Collected Works, VolXIV, p.340.

working class. He believed that the strength and soul of India is in the rural farmers
and agriculture sector. He experimented and preached many new methods to uplift
and strengthen the agriculture sector of India. This slogan by him is an awakening
call to the Indian farmers to regain their self pride and esteem.

• “Non-cooperation”34

This was a movement programmed by Mahatma Gandhi. It later turned to

be one of the popular slogans of the time. It was formally launched by Mahatma
Gandhi on 1 August, 1920, after the expiry of the notice that Gandhiji had given
to the Viceroy in his letter of 22 June. The programme of non-cooperation
included within its ambit the surrender of titles and honours, boycott of
Government affiliated schools and colleges, law courts, foreign cloth and could be
extended to include resignation from government service and mass civil
disobedience including no payment of tax. In the annual session of the Congress
in December 1920 at Nagpur C.R. Das moved the main resolution of Non-
cooperation in it. Gandhiji promised the people that if the programme was fully
implemented, Swaraj would be ushered in within a year. National schools and
colleges were set up, domestic panchayats were established for settling disputes,
hand spinning and weaving was encouraged, people were asked to maintain
Hindu-Muslim unity, give up untouchability and practice strict non-violence as a
part of Non-cooperation.

At many junctures and situations during the independence movement, the

British had to experience such new and truly ‘Indian’ phenomenons of protests
and strikes. Such new strategies and phenomenon’s made them spellbound and
helpless. Right from the barbaric days, the European tribes were much addicted
to the aggression and coercion, so they carried such attitude with them through
the time and space. But many Indian ethnic and indigenous ways of resisting
where totally strange and unfamiliar to them. They were groping in the dark.
British forces were literally unarmed in front of non-violence, boycott of foreign
goods, satyagraha, non-cooperation, passive resistance, silent marches etc. So
the force and brutalities on peaceful demonstrators, who took thrashing but

Gandhi, Collected Works, Vol-17, p504.

refusing to budge, shall make any army very demoralised. Moreover, there many
Indians in the British army who were increasingly become unwilling to use the
force on peaceful demonstrators. Non-cooperation had become more powerful
than cannonballs and atom bombs.

The slogan of non cooperation turned to be the greatest weapon of political

active resistance than passive ideological protests. It made the enemy totally
disarmed and even helpless in suppressing the anti British and anti imperialistic
growing tendencies among the mass of the population. Non -cooperation became
a practice and routine of life of the Indians rather than a political tool or weapon
of resistance. Non-cooperation was extended and widened to all walks of life; it
became the ritual of all the Indians both in the private and public life. Non-
cooperation was erected strongly on the firm grounds of ahimsa and satyagraha.

People were voluntarily practicing the principle of non cooperation. These

made the British difficult to control and rule the Indian soil. Later the spirit of non
cooperation began to spread like a wild fire in all most all the colonies under the
British rule. This created another headache to the British monarchy. The call of
noncooperation had far reaching impact; it lowered the export of raw materials
and goods from India, it made tax collection difficult, it created civil administration
impossible, it made the law and order situation worsen too. So the slogan of non-
cooperation was one of the final blows on British rule in India.

• “Na ek pai, Na ek bhai”

‘Not a pie or, not even a human being’. No one shall give money, and no
Indian shall lend a support any more. This slogan was put forth by the Indian
socialists in 1938. This slogan shows the spirit of non cooperation that spread
across the Indian sub continent. It proclaims that the British is not going to get
any support from the Indian soil either as men or material. This was really a
gasping situation for the British. They lost the entire grip on Indian population. It
adversely affected their trade and also their administration in India. Socialists
were very staunchly advocating this slogan in order to over throw the British
rulers right from the roots of its support. Socialists were advocating that if the
British loose the domestic support from the Indian soil, they will be compelled to

leave India. This slogan is both a warning and a caution to Indian minority who is
supporting the British rule in India. Socialist wants to create a totally negative
frame of context in which administration of India will be much more hard and
difficult for the British rulers. This slogan echoes that every Indian is unsatisfied
with the rule of British. No Indian will work for the British and no Indian will even
pay the tax endorsed by the British rulers. If both the human resource and
financial power is blocked then the British will find the administration miserable
that is the message the slogan conveys.

• “Workers and peasants are the hands and the feet of the Congress”35

This was the slogan projected by the congress as a part of the agitations of
civil disobedience carried out in Bombay. It was on 4th February 1930.The day
which Ganghiji breached the salt law. More than 20,000 farmers and peasants
gathered in the agitation. The Government had to declare the martial law to crush
the insurgent’s. Government offices, law courts, police stations and railway
stations were attacked and rebels virtually took over the city administration for
some days. The national flag was hoisted over the town. The slogan highlights the
strength and belief of Indian National Congress among the farmers and peasants
of the rural India.

Vast majority of the Indian population were farmers and agriculturalists and
they were illiterates too. The congress recoganised and identified that if they want
to demonstrate and strengthen the agitation, they must seek and get the full
support and solidarity of the farmers. Workers and peasants were to be made
aware of things and it had to be through what they hold dear and near to their
sentiments and the values. So the congress began to frame and promote slogans
in order to educate, awaken and enlighten the farmers and agriculturalists against
the British rule. Gandhiji was the first person to identify this unique pattern of
farmer’s movement against the British rule. Gandhi’s concept of Rama Rajya is
essentially based on this factor. The Congress was even desperate to maintain a
unified India, and bring all Indians under one flag to fight and ousts the British,
but Congress had difficulties in consolidating the confronting and dividing forces

Quoted in Balabushevich and Dyakov, (1964). editors, A Contemporary History of India, New
Delhi: p241.

among the India freedom fighters. So the intelligent leaders of the nationalist’s
movements identified agriculture and rural population as the unifying factor in the
freedom movement. Agriculture was considered as the backbone of both the
Indian polity and the civil life. It was the major source of food stuff, raw
materials, exports, land revenue and foreign exchange to the then British rulers.
So to turn the farmers against the foreign rule was a strategic move on the part
of Indian freedom fight.

• “Bharat Choro”36

‘Quit India’ this simple but powerful slogan launched the legendary struggle
which also became the famous by the name of the ‘August Revolution’. In this
struggle the common people of the country demonstrated unparalleled heroism
and militancy. Moreover the repression that they faced was the most brutal that
had ever been used against the national movement. These two words proclaimed
by Mahatma Gandhi became the most popular slogans of the Indian freedom
Movement. Gandhiji launched the Quit India movement in August 1942.This
slogan was a war cry and a final proclamation for the Britishers to leave India.
Quit India slogan spread like a wild fire throughout the length and breadth of the
country. It ignited and inspired millions of minds to get ready for the final fight to
chase the English men out of India. After the quit India resolution there were
strikes and Hartal all over India, lasting for about a week. This time the Congress
made no distinction between British India and the Indian States and the call for
struggle was extended to the people of the states. The people of the states thus
formally joined the struggle for Indian independence, and in addition to their
demand for responsible government they ask the British to quit India and
demanded that the states become integral parts of the Indian nation.

The slogan, Quit India was the culminating phrase ever used in the History
of Indian Freedom movement. This slogan warns the British by saying that ‘so
many things had been said and done; but now the limit had exceeded, it is time
for you; the foreign invaders to retreat unconditionally. Enough is enough;
diplomacy, sweet talks, power sharing agreements and every such thing have to

Kripalani, J., B., (1977). ‘Gandhi, His ‘Life and Thought’, p78, quoted in Sen, Sukomol., (Working
Class of India, History of Emergence and Movement 1830-1870). Calcutta : pp152-53.

be ended in a time bound manner. Time has arrived to order the British to Quit
India. It is these two words personifying all the power and spirit of the final call
for the English men to leave India. This slogan reflected the mood of the Indian
spirit to forcefully push the British out of the Indian soil. Quit India slogan became
the epochal calls from the mouth of millions of freedom fighters to forcefully push
the alien oppressors out of the Indian soil. Even the children shouted the Quit
India slogan when they saw the white men. No one ever bothered or cared about
the consequences, they all went on the rampage of shouting Quit India. Quit
India slogan was an inflammable spirit that united and prepared the Indians for a
final war preparation.

Stay away from my land, they shouted, this Hindustan is ours. Mothers sung
this slogan as lullabies to the kids; and this slogan went around the entire nation
as a song. They sung it through every street, “Door kado yeh duniya valo, Ye
Hindustan Hamara hai !”. The Quit India slogan created the cruelest of the
aversion and bitterness among the Indian minds towards the British.

• “ Jodi Tumar Dak Shune Keo,

Na Ashe Tobe, Akle Chalo ra,
Akle chalo, Akle chalo, Akle chalo”

This Bengali song written by Tagore was in the currents and winds
throughout the Indian air. India went on singing and singing this most melodious
song. The meaning of these three Bengali lines goes like this; “Even if no one
listen to you, heeds you, Once you are on the paths of Dharma, there you must
keep going on, even if, alone…..” This Bengali lyric was accompanying the Quit
India slogan throughout the length and breadth of India.

• “Inquilab Zindabad” ,
“Down, Down with Imperialism” ,
“Long Live the Proletariate” 37

Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru - The revolutionary trio of the Indian
freedom Movement shouted these three slogans when they were brought to the
imperialist court for trial. All the three brave patriots were executed by the

Singh, Jagmohan., and Chamanlal., (1986).Bhagat Singh aur unke Sathiyon ke Dastavez,(The
Documents of Bhagat Singh and His Comrades), New Delhi: p266.

merciless imperialist British court. But these three slogans shouted by these brave
patriots ignited revolution in the minds of millions even after their death. They
exhibited fearless and defiant attitudes in the courts. They were tried in a series
of famous conspiracy case. These three revolutionary slogans were the first seeds
of left movements in the Indian politics. They trumpeted for the complete radical
change and promulgated every mind against the capitalist imperialism which
significant even in the present contemporary world. These three phrases
highlighted the socialistic perspective and the reactionary attitude of the Bhagat
Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru against imperialism and exploitation.

These slogans were in the post industrial revolutionary era and of Karl Marx.
Marxian writings had the tremendous effect of breaking from the odd notions odd
mixed or capitalistic ideology, perhaps much needed for the West. The analysis of
Karl Marx was new and inspiring for the youth throughout the world. At that time
no detailed analysis or interpretation of Marxian philosophy and concept of the
world was not done. No one was aware of its short coming and extremely short
life. It was natural for the young blood of India to carry this influence and the
flame of revolution; as much needed for the sudden and drastic change. Under
the leadership of Bhagat Singh these Marxian philosophy began to find its fertile
ground for flourishing in the Indian soil. The Marxian philosophy identified the
universality of imperialism throughout the world whether it was done by the
British or the Americans. Indian extremists too identified themselves as the
profounder of Marxian philosophy in the Indian soil. The preached and
propagated the basic tenants of Marxism and emphasised its significance in the
Indian soil too. It was in the fertile plains of Bengal, Calcutta, Lahore, Punjab
Marxism found too staunch followers both in theory and practice.

Indian revolutionaries equated the British rule in par with the capitalistic
imperialism in the western world. They turned against the amassing of wealth and
material greed of the British rulers. Britishers were identified as the market forces
of capitalism and colonial exploitation in short as the capitalists itself. So the
Leadership of the well read Bhagat made many youngsters attracted to Marxism
and turned to Marxists. They cherished the dreams of a classless society without
exploitation, inequality and discrimination. So a final call for total revolution was

made by the Indian extremists Youngsters. Even though Marxism was far away
from the Indian realities many believed that a total revolution will be possible as
that of Russia to in India. Working class upliftments were considered as their sole
aim and ambitions, any sort of material or capital accumulation was sinful for the
Indian Marxist revolutionaries. These well read young scholars even preached in
the India jails and turned it to the breeding grounds of romantic radicals.

• “Sarfroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mei hai”38

‘Our heart is filled with the desire for martyrdom’ –This slogan symbolises
the self sacrifices of three dynamic vibrant youths for the freedom of our
motherland. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru sung this slogan when the
British court ordered to hang them. These blazoning words of revolutionary
youths in the Indian Freedom movement of India announce their courage,
determination and will power to sacrifice their life for the motherland. This slogan
projects the epitome of patriotism and selflessness. It inspired the revolutionaries
throughout the world. Millions prayed and wept to protect the life of these three
patriots but it didn’t persuade the inhuman British courts.

The above phrase is more a determination than a mere slogan – Sarfroshi –

Martyrdom had become India desideratum; the committed, determined, self
sacrificing Indian revolutionaries were so determined to expel the foreigners at
any cost even in dipping their clothes in the Martyrdom of own blood. The
challenge, thus thrown to the oppressors filled many Indians with the courage
needed for facing the death with a smile. The slogan had gone deep into the
Indian spirits and generations equipping themselves to be courageous patriots of
mother India. Martyrdom was considered as noble and holy by the youngsters; it
attributes an evergreen remembrance to their names and selfless deed. Bhagat
Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru - The revolutionary trio of the Indian freedom
Movement became the ever loving and ever remembered martyrdoms even in this
era of Globalisation. These trios turned to be the icons and images of global
revolutionary youths.


• “Mera rang de basanti chola”39

‘Dye my clothes in saffron’, (saffron is the colour for courage and sacrifice).
This slogan were sung by Bhagat Singh while he was leading and addressing the
gatherings of Freedom Struggle. This slogan signifies the dedication, sincerity and
commitment of Bhagat Singh as a true patriot. The colour saffron is
misinterpreted and misrepresented in the contemporary politics. Bhagat Singh
preaches and proclaims the holiness and inevitability of the colour saffron in the
mental and spiritual well being of a patriot. His staunch belief in the freedom of
mother Indian and the thirst for independence is hallmarked in this slogan which
Bhagat enunciated to the youth of this nation.

Saffron is the Indian colour essentially standing for spirituality and Vedic
culture. Saffron had become one with all that are Indian. Let my attire be dyed in
saffron is a call for the Indian awakening in all its sense. Perhaps no other call for
such an awakening can be ever near powerful as to saffronisation. In
contemporary India, saffron colour was misused and had become a victim of party
politics. Some tried to gain political image through saffronisation, some others go
out rightly to condemn saffronisation. Bhagat Singh used saffron not as a colour
but as an image in an idealistic and symbolic sense. To him saffron is the image
of self sacrifice, staunch determination and astute political will. He borrows this
image from the Maha Yogis, Rishis and Sanysais in the Indian spirituality who
sacrificed their desire and worldly pleasures for the attainment of Moksha. He
believed that patriotism is in par with the Moksha Prapti for the motherland.
Indian philosophy too emphasis this principle of saffron as the colour of bravery,
courageousness, integrity, and wisdom.

• “Humanism is the special virtue of a revolutionary”40

Surya Sen, a brilliant and inspiring organiser from Chittagong pronounced

this slogan which ignited the indispensible virtue needed by a revolutionary
patriot. Surya Sen had actively participated in the Non-cooperation Movement and
had become a school teacher in a national school on Chittagong, which lead to his

Varma, Siva., (1986).Selected Writings of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, New Delhi: Appendix I.
Ranjan, Nithish., et. al.,(1984).A Saga of India’s Struggle for Freedom, New Delhi: p51.

being popularly known as ‘Masterda’. He was arrested and imprisoned for two
years from1926-1928, for revolutionary activity, he continued to work in
Congress. He and his group were closely associated with the Congress work in
Chittagong. Sury Sen was an unpretentious, soft spoken and transparently sincere
person. Possessed of immense personal courage, he was deeply humane in his
approach. His greatest admirers were Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Surya Sen gathered around himself a large band of revolutionary youth including
Anant Singh, Ganesh Gosh, and Lokenath Baul.

Indian revolutionaries exhibited the hallmark qualities of commitment,

sincerity and dedication to their ends. They were guided on the hardcore
religious, spiritual values and ethics that their ancestors inherited. Revolution in
Indian context was considered as a sacrifice to God. Even the whole family
supported the youth to be brave warriors and revolutionaries; which they were
proud of. It was not emotions and feelings which guided the Indian
revolutionaries but sincerity, selflessness, commitment to the core was the basic
principles which acted as the glowing lamp for Indian revolutionaries.

• “Inquilab Zindabad, Down with Imperialism, and

Gandhiji’s Raj has been established”41

On 18 April 1930 10 o’clock in the night a group of six revolutionaries were

captured by the British army when they attacked the police Armory shouting this
slogan. Ganesh Gosh was leading the group proclaiming this slogan. The
revolutionaries planned the action very carefully and were put into execution.
They decided to organise this rebellion because they want to prove and
demonstrate that it is possible to challenge the armed might of the British Empire
in India. Surya Sen was the source of inspiration behind this rebellion. Their
action plan was to include occupation of the two main armories in Chittagong and
the seising of their arms with which a large band of revolutionaries could be
formed. Another group of ten, led by Lokenath Baul, took over the Auxiliary Force
Armory along with its Lewis guns and 303 army rifles. Unfortunately they could
not locate the ammunition. This was the disastrous set back of the


revolutionaries. There were sixty members in this lightning attack, which was
undertaken in the name of the Indian Republican Army.

The 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia and the formation of the Soviet
Union inspired many youth all over the world to fight against all kinds of
oppressions. Every one began drawn to the idea of revolutionaries and
revolutionary practices. Youth of India firmly believed that only through armed
revolutions oppressors can be wiped out from the Indian soil. Lenin and Bolshevik
was the model to many, though they could not accept communism in totality,
given many cultural reasons too. Inquilab literally means revolution but in the
Indian context majority believed revolution is needed to establish the Gandhian
concept of Ramarajya. But the extremists believed that a total revolution is
needed in India to establish a presidential form of government, which can only
lead India to the path of complete development.

• “Every human being has equal rights over products of nature”42

The slogan was proclaimed by the great Bengal patriot Ramprasad Bismil
from the death cell. He appealed to the youth to give up the ‘desire to keep
revolvers and pistols’, ‘not to work in revolutionary conspiracies’, and to work in
‘the open movement’. He asked the people to establish Hindu-Muslim unity and
unite all political groups under the leadership of the Congress. He had strong faith
in communism and the principle that ‘every human being has equal rights over
the products of nature. This slogan enunciates the man’s right on the resources of
nature by maintaining equitable balance and ecological order. This slogan
underlines the meaning of equality and social justice in the allocation and
utilisation of wealth of a nation. Through this slogan he made a strong warning
against the British exploitation of the Indian resources.

This slogan emphasis the worldly Buddhist principle to shed away the
material greed and desire of human life. It enunciates the path of non-violence
and passive resistance; which itself is a Gandhian way of life. Ramprasad Bismil
was arguing for the same principle that Gandhi said ‘nature had given everything

Chaturvedi, Banarisdas.,(1966).Autobiography of Ramprasad Bismil, in Hindi, New Delhi:

for mans need not for his greed’. This slogan was focusing on the basic principle
of sustainable development and optimum utilisation of resources in an equilibrium
manner. British eye was always on the rich source of Indian natural resources
which India possessed. They were literally looting and plundering it. So the
majority of nationalists leaders emphasised that a moral edge over materialism
must be maintained by the freedom fighters.

• “The sword of revolution is sharpened

on the whetting-stone of ideas”43

The giant intellect of the Indian Freedom Movement-Ajit Singh proclaimed

this slogan in the Lahore High Court when he was trialed. Ajit Singh was the
nephew of Bhagat Singh. Ajit Singh was a voracious reader; he was one of the
most well-read politicians of that time. He had devoured books in the Dwarakadas
Library at Lahore on socialism, the Soviet Union and revolutionary movements,
especially those of Russia, Ireland and Italy. At Lahore, he organised several
study circles with the help of Sukhdev and others and carried out intense political
discussions. After his arrest he transformed the jail into a veritable University. This
slogan emphasise the role of ideas in the making of revolution. This atmosphere
of deep thinking and wide reading pervaded the ranks of young revolutionaries in
the Indian Freedom movement.

Russian revolution influenced and persuaded the global citizenry not in

praxis only but in theory too. Many new ideas of Marxism and socialism began
acquire the mould of academic reading and analysis. Marxism and the principle of
socialism was all appealing. Reading and discussing the tenants of Marxism
became a fashion and a matter of great pride. Reading and using Marxist
literature was considered as token of progressiveness. Youngsters took great
pride in taking ideas from others and eliciting them as the last words of its
authority. The times were such and it was easy and natural for the European
model to influence the suffering Indians. Many extremist youngsters took pride
and energy from Marxist and socialist’s literature. Indian youth too got addicted
by this European ideology as the inevitable to liberate the India from the hands of

Shiv Varma, op.cit., p95.

British imperialism. Many got motivated, may got associated, many took weapons
to establish the complete revolution in Indian soil on the basis of Marxist

• “By the masses, for the masses”44

Bhagat Singh made this strong slogan proclaiming his fight against British
exploitation on 1926 at the Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha meeting. He was the
founding secretary of it. Before his arrest in 1929, Bhagat Singh abandoned his
belief in terrorism and individual heroic action. He had turned to Marxism and had
come to believe that popular broad-based mass-movements alone could lead to a
successful revolution. This slogan by him emphasis the above principle. Punjab
Naujawan Bharat Sabha under the leadership of Bhagat Singh carried out open
political work among the youth, peasants, and worker.

Marx and communism had become a definite influence during those days.
People and people’s movement were those ideas which were very attractive. The
strength of staying together for a common cause was realised at the juncture of
people’s revolutionary army attaining power in Soviet Union. The presidential
forms of government on the strong footprints of democratic principles were the
long cherished dreams of many Indian revolutionaries. Bhagat Singh believed that
only a discipline nation with a mass mobilisation and unity can only lead India to a
developed nation. Many revolutionaries believed that Masses and Mobs are
mobility and magic multiplies in the way to progress and prosperity.

• “The real revolutionary armies are in the villages and in factories”45

Bhagat Singh and his comrades also gave expression to their understanding
of revolution through this slogan. They taught revolution meant the development
and organisation of mass movement of the exploited and suppressed sections of
the society by the revolutionary intelligentsia in the course of their statements
from 1929 to 1931 in the British courts as well as outside. Just before his
execution ‘Bhagat’- the Great revolutionary and patriot shouted this slogan along
with “Inquilab Zindabad”, “Down, Down with Imperialism”, “Long Live the

Ibid., p130.
Ibid., p137-38.

Proletariate”, before taking his last breath. Moreover, in his behest to young
political workers, written on 2nd February 1931, he declared: ‘Apparently, I have
acted like a terrorist. But I am not a terrorist…Let me announce with all my
strength at my command, that I am not a terrorist and I never was, except
perhaps in the beginning of my revolution career. And I am convinced that we
cannot gain anything through those methods’.

When all are involved it becomes a mass movement. It is very difficult either
to control or coordinate the masses driven by emotions and feelings. To motivate
and mobilise the masses were precisely the main objective of Indian freedom
fighters, who repeated the idea of revolutionary army capturing power; forming
out from the volunteers comprises of peasants and factory workers. Indian rural
populations were unique for its firm commitment, sincerity, and dedication. They
were the part and parcel of the Indian identity and ethnicity. Rural community
makes the bread and butter for the whole nation. They are the strength and the
will of the nation.

• “Go back Simon, Simon go back”46

This slogan was the most shouted slogan of protest against an English
Commission in India by the British for constitutional reforms in India. In 8th
November 1927 when the inexperienced Labour Government came to power in
Britain they appointed an Indian Statutory Commission, popularly known as Simon
Commission after its Chairman. This commission was an all-white commission to
recommend whether India was ready for further constitutional progress.
Nationwide protest busted out when Simon and his friends landed on 3rd February
1928.That day, all the major cities and towns observed a complete hartal, and
people were out on the streets participating in mass rallies, processions and black
flag demonstrations. Everywhere that Simon went – Calcutta, Lahore, Lucknow,
Vijayawada, Poona-he was greeted by a sea of black flags and this roaring slogan
of Go-back; carried by thousands of people. In Lucknow, Khaliquzzaman executed
the brilliant idea of floating kites and balloons imprinted with this popular slogan

Sarkar, Sumit., (1983).Modern India,1885-1947, New Delhi: p266.

‘Go back Simon” over the reception organised in Kaisebagh by the Taluqdars for
the members of the commission.

This slogan is a symbolic representation in the many ways of clearing out

the foreign invaders from the Indian soil. Indians were fed up with enquiry
commissions and statutory committees to study on and to grant the power
transfer process. Fed up with the British political strategies of delaying and
granting the governance to the Indian hands, the extremist vibrant youths
introduced this slogan along with many modern strategies of registering the
protests. That includes boycotting the Simon commission, mass demonstration,
waving black flags, shielding the mouth with black clothes, creating blocks and
obstruction etc. This slogan paved the way for the most violent agitation against a
British commission in the Indian soil.

• “Purna Swaraj”47

‘Complete Independence’ slogan was adopted on December 1928 at the

Calcutta session of the Indian national Congress. Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Bose
and Satyamurthi, backed by a large number of delegates, pressed for the
acceptance of ‘Purna Swaraj’. Young and radical nationalist’s leaders were
dissatisfied with the declaration of Dominion Status on the line of self-governing
dominions on the basis of the future constitution of India. Young radical
nationalists moved a resolution to adopt complete independence as its goal, but it
would also launch civil disobedience movement to attain that goal. The resolution
was passed with a majority of the delegates, and further amendments seeking
immediate adoption of complete independence were defeated. This slogan
signifies that ‘Purna Swaraj’ is the only honourable goal Indians could strive for.
The erst while swaraj movement was then becoming more intensified. Purna
Swaraj was more than a slogan but it was dream of every Indian in the real
sense. Purna Swaraj signified meant both political and economic autonomy and
complete sovereignty to India as an Independent nation state. In the final phase
of the freedom struggle both the moderate and the extremists demanded and
argued for absolute freedom and complete independence of India by the total

Gandhi., Complete Works, Vol.38, p499.

evacuation of the British rule. This slogan signifies the uncompromising stand of
the Indians under the flag leadership of Indian National Congress. Civil
disobedience and non-cooperation were the two prominent catalytic forces which
paved the way for the final proclamation of Purna Swaraj.

• “Lagan Lenge Kaise, Danda Hamara Zindabad”

‘How will you collect rent, long live our lathis’,

• “Lathi Meri Sathi” 48

‘Lathi is my companion’, these were the slogans which high light the
strength and grit of Indian farmers and peasants. When the farmers and peasants
organised under the leadership of Kisan Sabha and protested against the British
and the landlords, they should these slogans of warnings and violence written by
Swami Sahjanand Saraswati. He was the militant founder of the Bihar Provincial
Kisan Sabha (1929), and was later elected as its president. Kisan Sabha asked the
farmers and peasants not to pay the rents or to forcibly occupy landlords land.
There were also cases of physical attacks upon landlords, big and small, and the
looting of crops. Peasant’s agitation usually took the form of massive
demonstrations and spectacular marches. In many places the movement came in
confrontation with the British police and the landlords.

It is a practice among Indian farmers to carry a stick or lathi along where

ever they go. Like a turban on the head; this lathi in hand is also a part of the
usual attire. How the lathi had become associated with the attire may have
historical and practical reasons, which could also be very interesting. Like pagidi
(turban) lathi also had got into language, situations and uses and it had become a
cultural aspect too. Like any other situation and places, the lathi with staff had
been a symbol of power for the farmers as well. It had then become natural for
them, that any thought of resistance begins with the power symbol lathi. This
slogan highlights the point that the Indian farmers maintained their identity in the
freedom struggle.

Quoted in Visalakshi Menon., (1980) ‘The Indian National Congress and Mass Mobilisation
-A study of U.P.1937-1939, Studies in History,Vol.II,No-2 July-December1980, New Delhi, p115.

• “No tax, no rent”49

The Civil Disobedience Movement was launched in the atmosphere of

discontent in 1930, and in many parts of the country it soon took on the form of
protests with the slogan-‘no tax, no rent’. It is clear illustration of strict non-
cooperation and non-honouring the ruling system and the establishment over
India. After the Bardoli Satyagraha of 1928 peasants and farmers joined this
protest in large numbers without paying the tax to the government and rent to
the Zamindars. No-revenue soon turned into no-rent and the movement
continued even during the period of truce following the Gandhi-Irvin pact.
Peasants in Gujarat, especially in Surat and Kheda, refused to pay their taxes and
went hijrat to neighbouring Baroda territory to escape government repression.
Throughout Indian this slogan turned like a wild fire; from a slogan to a staunch
practice of not paying the rent and the tax.

Without revenue the rulers find it difficult to carry on with the administration
and day today expenses of the government. For the British the tax collection in
India was a dual blessing because it was collected both in cash and kind. So the
material collection in the name of tax was providing the goods and raw material
for the export to Britain. When tax collection became stand still the British
administrators began to loop in the dark. This noncooperation and nonpayment of
tax made the people more strong and fearless too. Even though this slogan is of
universal in appeal it was a real praxis in the Indian context.

• “Gandhi Ka Charkha Chalana Padega,

Gorn ko London Jana Padega”50

‘Gandhiji’s wheel will have to be spun, while the whites will have to return to
London’. This slogan was raised under the leadership of Sarojini Naidu. On 2nd
October 1942. A group of women offered Satyagraha at Hyderabad under the
leadership of Sarojini Naidu. They were arrested. This event surprised the British
rulers; even women came to the streets asking for their immediate return. This
slogan was symbolic in many senses asking the Britishers to leave and it emphasis

For the text of the Congress Agrarian Programme, A.M. Zaidi and S.G. Zaidi,(1980) The Encyclopedia
of the Indian National Congress, Vol II, 1936-38, New Delhi: p212-213.
Tirtha, Ramanand., (1967). Memoirs of Hyderabad Freedom Struggle, Bombay: pp176-77.

a spirit of self reliance to the core. Swami Ramanand Tirtha was the sole
inspiration behind these women Satyagraha Movement. The outbreak of the II
World War provided an excuse to the government for avoiding any move towards
political and constitutional reforms. A symbolic protest was registered against the
continuing ban under the leadership of Swami Ramanand Tirtha.

The spinning wheel, Charka and the Khadi movement was drilling holes in
British imperialism. Through boycotting foreign goods, burning English clothes,
the mill industry in Manchester had entered in deep crisis of production. When
there is no buyer, what will they do with all the finished products? Factories
started facing lockouts. Indian leadership hit the British hard. Once Indians stop
buying their products they will have no much immediate gain from keeping India
as a colony. They had already taken away the wealth, and what now left are the
wide opened poor Indian markets only. International politics has not yet
developed strategically importance of occupation colonial lands fully, it was only
emerging. Indians were confident that once Gandhiji’s charka spins cotton, the
whites will have no other way than to leave. Charka was symbolically represented
as momentous wheel of freedom and self sustenance. Gandhiji was astute enough
in representing his political and moral philosophy in the Indian instruments of
indigenous origin. Charka and spinning cotton was a message from Gandhiji to
the millions of Indians to boycott the foreign goods, upheld the policy of a self
sustainable development, self reliance and develop Indian cottage industries. Salt,
Charka, Satyagraha, Non violence, Civil Disobedience, Cotton spinning, Loin cloth
etc were some of the physical and immaterial images from Gandhiji’s way of life
turned the Indian to a highest epitome of pride and privilege in the fight for
freedom and independence. For Mahatma Gandhi politics neither was nor was a
profession never a strategy of power but it always an ideal or principle for way of

Mahatma Gandhi ignited Indian minds much through messages and more
through icons and symbols. He believed that his life is his message to Indians. It
was like a spiritual leader in par with the God almighty; he began to persuade and
influence the Indians even to teach discipline, good habits, friendliness with
nature, hygiene, following communal harmony, and living on the good ideals of

moral and ethical values in holy texts. His sincerity, commitment and dedication to
the people and the nation were unquestionable. So people began to adopt his has
a saint or a living ‘God’ in flesh and blood. It was his vision, acumen, astute will
power, uncompromising nature to truth, staunch belief to values, adamant stand
on non violence, cordial coexistence with nature, philosophy of communal
harmony and brotherhood made Mahatma Gandhi more above a political leader
or a social humanist. Charka can be a symbolic representation of ‘Kalachakra’
showing the time for Britishers to leave India.

• “People’s War”51

This slogan of ‘Peoples War’ was raised by the Indian Communists on

December 1941. Communists were opposed to the Quit India Movement as it
militated against their understanding that Britain must be supported in its ant-
Fascist war. The Quit India Movement also sealed the rift that had developed
between the Communists and Non-Communists radical nationalists. The
Communists were also facilitated by the removal of the ban on CPI by the Nizam,
in keeping with the policy of the Government of India that had removed the ban
because of the CPI’s pro War stance. Therefore while most of the nationalists
were clamped in jail because of their support to Quit India Movement, the
Communists remained free to extend and consolidate their base among the
people. With the help of this slogan the Communists launched a programme of
mobilisation and organisation of the peasantry. The end of the war in 1945
brought about a change in the People’s War line, and the restraint on organising
struggles was removed.

The communists always remained loyal to their dogmas and ideology to a

great extent. Their ultimate objective of Communist Internationalism naturally
countered the nationalistic interests of each nation where communism sprouted
up. They fought against international issues threatening communism, it includes
Hitler’s Nazism, Italian Fascism, and American Capitalism etc. All these groups
were directly anti communists; and they were out there to destroy the very roots
of communism. In the mean time, the imperative forces found that they could

Sundarayya,P., (1972). Telegana People’s Struggle and Its Lessons, Calcutta:

take very good advantage from many communists’ tenants and their emotional
passion for the theories. They passionately lead the theories and principles, often
giving much less space to individual thinking finding them relatively harmless and
foolish. The restrictions were slowly removed and the authorities knew that they
cannot make serious influence on the traditional Indian minds.

Naturally the communists opposed the Quit India movement and also
supported the formation of Pakistan and division of India. The Indian communists
were the blind adopters of the western or the European communist’s countries.
Their priority never included the Indian independence and the brute Indian
realities. Instead they were trying to form a communist international where the
ideal classless, stateless society prevails. Owing and understanding the diversity,
multiplicity, ethnicity and the tradition of Indian heritage never a classless or
stateless society can’t be formed in India through the implementation of
Communism. Indian communists were always in the dream world of Lenin’s
concepts of people’s revolution, so they sidelined the most urgent need of Indian
independence. The dual stance of the communists made them move away from
the hearts of patriot nationalists. They were cited and called as spies and
betrayers of the freedom movement by the radical nationalists. Psychologically the
Indian communists were marginalised at this juncture from the freedom
movement. The believed and aimed at Indian independence truly on the Western
foundation of communism. Ethnic and illiterate Indian population was unable and
they find it difficult to digest the ideological tenants of communism. Many viewed
it with an eye of suspicion; only the youth and the radicals were so attached the
philosophy of communism. Mahatma Gandhi and his followers were so silent on
the Indian application and implementation of communism. They were against any
revolution through force, bloodshed and warfare. The Indian communists were
never able to achieve the concept of people’s war or dictatorship of proletariat.

• “Lekar rahenge Pakistan,

Larke lenge Pakistan,
Has kar le liya Pakistan,
Ap Lad kar lenge Hindustan” 52

‘Time and tide precipitate and continue to flourish and grow Pakistan’. ‘We
will take Pakistan from you, and shall fight to create Pakistan’. This was the most
crucial slogan which paved the way for the partition of Pakistan from India. This
was a battle cry from the Muslim leaders for a separate nation state. The Muslim
identity, separate Muslim nationalism, separate Muslim language, literature etc
had finally culminated in the inevitable: the demand for a Pakistan. From then on,
till the declaration of the creation of Pakistan, the slogan which was used by the
demanders of Pakistan was this. They will take Pakistan and will not rest until
then, and shall fight for it-says the slogan. The Muslim communal groups
provoked the communal frenzy in Calcutta on 16th August 1946.Hindhu communal
groups retaliated in equal measure and the cost was 5000 lives. The British
authorities were worried that they had lost control over the ‘Frankenstein monster’
they had helped to create but felt it was too late to tame it. They were appeasing
the League by Jinnah’s ability to unleash a civil war.

With this slogan Jinnah succeed in keeping the British in his grip. Jinnah had
realised that it was fatal to leave the administration in Congress hands and had
sought a foothold in the government to fight for Pakistan. For him the interim
government was the continuation of civil war by other means. League ministers
questioned actions taken by Congress members, including appointments made,
and refused to attend the informal meetings which Nehru had devised as a means
of arriving at decisions without reference. Their disruptionist tactics convinced
Congress leaders of the futility of the Interim government as an exercise in
Congress-League cooperation. This slogan had sown the seeds of disintegration
and partition in the Indian soil. This made many Muslims to think and argue for
Pakistan in much parochial manner.

The second part of the slogan states that ‘Pakistan, we took away from
India all with smiles; and now we shall take the India for us, and shall fight to get

Moore, R., J., (1983). Escape from Empire, London: Oxford University Press, p22.

India for us’. This slogan is actually a continuation of the previous, as the same
slogan s of two places; pre-partitioned and post partitioned India. Once the
separatist’s Muslim factor realised that their demand of a separate Muslim land
had become successful, through the creation of Pakistan, their confidence
boomed high. Soon this slogan appeared in the newly formed Pakistan, which still
springs up from time to time in Pakistan, whenever the India question is taken up.
This is the prime Pakistanis slogan that spread India hatred, and that still inspires
Pakistani youth to hate India as well as fight against India.

• “Hindu-Muslim ki Jai”53

After the I World War the entire country took giant steps towards Hindu-
Muslim unity during the agitation against the Rowlatt Acts and the Khilafat and
the Non-cooperation movements. As if to declare the world the principle of Hindu
–Muslim unity in political action of Indian nationalism. Swami Shradhanand, a
staunch Arya Smajists, was asked by the Muslims to preach from the pulpit of
Juma Masjid in Delhi, while Dr.Saifuddin Kitchlu, a Muslim was given the keys to
the Golden Temple, the Sikh shrine in Amritsar. This slogan signifies the urgent
need of Hindu-Muslim unity for the attainment of the freedom of India. Even though
Khilafat was a religious issue, it resulted in raising the national, anti-imperialists
consciousness of the Muslim masses and middle class. The nationalist’s leaders failed
to some extent in raising religious political consciousness to Muslims to the higher
plane of secular political consciousness.

Period in between 1857-1947 was also a period of great Muslim unrest.

Intellectual activities of the entire Islamic world were centered in India, and the
Urdu language. Actually Urdu in Hindi written in Persian script instead of Hindi in
Devanagiri was rejected by the Muslim scholars at that time. They used the
Persian scripts instead of Devanagiri. There were great writings in Urdu, and
many Muslim writers as well as intellectuals in India began to preach Persian
script and adopt Arab language as their mother tongue. This widens the rift
between the Hindu Muslim communities in India. Some of the Muslim intellectuals
feared that India’s freedom from British will pave the way for a Hindu rule in

Reports in the Statesman, 31 December1932, quoted in Nehru, Selected Works, Vol. 6, p163.

India. The feared that Muslims will have to be the slaves of Indian rulers. So they
thought and spread the idea of separatism. Thus they argued for a spate nation
and entity- a Muslim country. This fear was transmitted to the ordinary Indian
Muslims who were always in the forefront of freedom movement and Indian
ethnic life. There began the story of Hindu Muslim rivalry, which had eventually
resulted in the creation of Pakistan as well as the ending up of Urudu glory in
Devanagiri script. The Hindu and Muslim differences were disastrous and the
British worked to widen the gap. Many nationalists Indians tried for Hindu-Muslim
unity, but all such efforts worked only for a short period. In this slogan too we
can see one such effort.

• “Malang Baba Zindhabad, Naked Fakir Zindhabad”

The peshtoon speaking Pathans of Afghanistan had long become Sunni

Muslims. They had a “peer”, probably a Sufi saint named ‘Malang Baba’, whom
the Pathans revered. The Indian Pathans compared the Naked Fakir - Gandhiji
with their most respected “peer”. This really glorified Gandhi among the Pathan
population in India. They considered Gandhi as Malang Bab because Gandhi both
in his words and deeds exhibited spirituality and truthfulness. Gandhiji became a
Godly figure in the minds of many Indians. Gandhiji enjoyed the halo of a saint or
a prophet in India because he lived among the people with high commitment and
sincerity to morals, values ethics and ideals. Over and above a Indian freedom
fighter Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi became an icon throughout the world. He
inspired many movements throughout the globe against exploitation, inequality,
discrimination and violence.

• “Give me blood, I will give you freedom”

Subash Chandra Bose was always an extremist face of Indian freedom

struggle. He practiced and believed in the blood and iron policy. Bose believed
and dreamt the formation of an army exclusively by the Indians to fight for
freedom. So he believed in physical capacity, mental ability, courage and fitness
of the Indians. His vision was ahead of the Indian realities. He instilled a will
power at least to few Indians and encouraged them to join his army. His dreams
and deeds were so near to the presidential form of government for India.

Subash Chandra Bose is a born warrior of motherland. He emphasised the

need of a disciplined, ideal citizenry for the building up of a strong powerful
modern India. For him service to the nation is a selfless sacrifice for martyrdom.
He was visionary enough to built an ethnic Indian army truly and purely on the
mobilisation of Indian manpower and material well being. Subash Chandra Bose
was the most accepted democratic leader even in the Indian National Congress.
He never believed in passive resistance and non cooperation. This slogan to
symbolise his true character as a born warrior and a true patriot. For him freedom
and independence is the inevitability of Indian population that can be achieved
only through direct involvement and straight fights against the British.

Subash ignited minds with the spirit of bravery and war hood. He reminded the
youth for the need of an Indian army truly on the basis of participation, commitment,
sincerity and sacrifices. He invited and made proclamation calls to the youth of India
to join the INA. His vision of building an army truly Indian origin later helped India to
built a strong defense force in the post independence era.

• “Delhi Chalo”54

‘Onwards to Delhi’ This slogan was the final call made by the Indian
nationalists to march to Delhi for grabbing the final power from the British rulers.
This slogan was the final war cry for the freedom of India. This slogan was raised
by Jawaharlal Nehru and Vinoba Bhave on 17 October 1940.Both the leaders
started the Satyagraha-they were surrounded by huge crowds when they
appeared on the plat form, and the authorities could often arrest them only after
they had made their speeches. And if the Government did not arrest a Satyagrahi,
he or she would not only repeat the performance but move into the villages and
start a trek towards Delhi, thus participating in a movement that came to be
known as the onwards to Delhi movement.

Delhi became the nerve centre of all the nationalist activities. This slogan
symbolically represents that marching towards Delhi means advancing close to the
power. Quite naturally Delhi became the capital of India after the British rule.

Gopal, S., Jawaharlal Nehru- A Biography, Vol-1, p263.

Delhi had many advantages in becoming the centre of all the activities, because it
was the centre of power during the Mughal rule, so many structures were located
in and around Delhi. The building structures like the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the
India Gate, The Red Fort, The Qutab Minar, the Raisina Hills etc contributed to
the glory of Delhi as the centre of power. The call for marching towards Delhi is
equated with the long march made by the Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung. After the
Jalianwala massacre Delhi became the sensitive centre of all the activities. Major
strategies for nationalist’s agitations sprouted and spread from Delhi. So capturing
Delhi meant capturing power from the British forces. Actually Delhi chalo meant
the final bandwagon proclamation for the foreign forces to leave India completely
without any conditionality.

• “Nothing less than freedom”,

“Do or Die”55

‘Karenge ya marenge’. This famous exhortation from Mahatma Gandhi

became world famous as an icon rather than a slogan. This proclamation was
made in the historic August meeting of Congress on 1942 at Gowalia Tank in
Bombay. It was an unprecedented meeting in popular enthusiasm. Huge crowds
waited as the leaders delivered their speech. When the leaders made their
speeches before the many thousands who had collected to hear them, there was
pin-drop silence.

Gandhiji’s speech, delivered in his unusual quiet and un-rhetorical style,

recount many who were in the audience, had the most electrifying impact. He first
made it clear that ‘the actual struggle does not commence this moment. You have
only placed all your powers in my hands. I will now wait upon the Viceroy and
plead with him for the acceptance of the Congress demand. You may take it from
me that I am not going to be satisfied with anything short of complete freedom.
May be, he will propose the abolition of salt tax, the drink evil etc. But I will say:
“Nothing less than Freedom”. He followed this up with the famous exhortation:
“Do or Die”. To quote: Here is a mantra, a short one that I give you. You may
print it on your hearts and let every breath of yours give expression to it. The

For the full text of the speech, refer, Gandhi, Complete Works, Vol 76, pp384-96.

mantra is: “Do or Die” We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall
not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery. These two words imbibed all the
power of freedom and independence of the century.

Gandhiji through these slogans signified that deeds and praxis is more
important in life than words or theory. He was a man of practice rather than
proclamations. He emphasised that Indians had to work hard and sacrifice more
for progress and achievement. Gandhi believed in the immense human potentials
available in the Indian sub continent. To him it is the spirit and strength of India.
Gandhi was reminding the India masses that for the achievement of Indian
independence and freedom every Indian had to make a final contribution to the
nationalist’s movement. Gandhi demonstrated and proved that his life itself is the
message. For him the way and mean is more important than the end. Mahatma
often illustrated that the end must be justified by the means and ways of practice.

In the final phase of the freedom movement Gandhiji to believed that the
millions of poor Indians have to unite at least as a physical force of strength
against the mighty British Empire. Gandhiji was making the final call for self
sacrifice to every Indian for the end of foreign rule. This particular slogan gives a
spirit of unity to Indians irrespective of multiplicities and diversities. It was
catalysing the Indians to act rather than to preach and argue. Do or Die made
Indians to act beyond petty personal interests for a common cause for the
common cause of mother land.

• “Ekla Cholo” 56

‘If no one heeds your call, walk alone, walk alone’. This was one of the
famous slogan sung by Mahatma Gandhi during his long marches for freedom and
resistances. Gandhiji sensed the inevitability of partition in the ugly gashes left by
riots on the country’s face and in the rigor mortis the Interim Government had
fallen into. He walked bravely into the AICC meeting on 14 June, 1947 and asked
Congressmen to accept partition as an unavoidable necessity in the given
circumstances, but to fight it in the long run by not accepting it in their hearts. He

Prasad, Bimal,. (1985). Gandhi, Nehru and J.P. Studies in Leadership, Delhi: Roopa and Co.

did not accept in his heart and kept alive, his faith in people. He choose to plough
a lonely furrow, walking barefoot through the villages of Noakhali, bringing
confidence by his presence to the Muslims in Bihar and preventing riots by
persuasion and threats of a fast in Calcutta.15 August 1947, dawn revealing the
dual reality of independence and partition happened. Gandhiji was always
between the two of them. Gandhiji mirrored the feelings of the Indian people.
Gandhiji prayed in Calcutta for the end of the carnage taking place.

Gandhiji’s prayers were reflective of the goings in the dark, the murders,
abductions and rapes. His close follower, Mridula Sarabhai, sat consoling a
homeless, abducted 15 years old girl in a room somewhere in Bombay. Gandhiji
was deeply wounded in the violent deeds happened before the partition. He firmly
believed that he can persuade and bring the whole Indian mass to a peaceful
state of coexistence and brother hood. He was a moral persuader than a crowd
puller. Gandhiji believed that the strength of India is in its illiterate masses, who
live in the villages. So he decided to walk from villages to villages with his
disciples. His long walks were often cited in the history as long marches touching
the heart of India.

• “Satyameva Jayathe”

‘Truth shall ever prevail’. Mahatma Gandhi believed in truth. He often

preached on the need of upholding truth, for him truth is God. In the pre
independence Indian context truth was a commodity often had a poor relation
with the Indian characters. Gandhiji solely emphasised that whatever evils British
does in India; on the final only the truth will triumph. For Mahatma Gandhiji
practicing truth is a way of life. He believed that truth alone can only save Indian
social and civic life from the clutches of communalism and hatred. He even used
his whole life to experiment with truth. Truth was not idealism to Gandhiji but it
was the only way for emancipation. So he advocated his disciples that truth alone
will succeed and triumph. Practicing truth in reality is a painful deed because
human life and manly world is full of compromises for bread and butter.

Gandhiji believed that the peasants of India truly lived on the principles of
truth because they were not biased or polluted by the materialistic culture. So he

emphasised that the spirit of India lives in the rural villages of India and among
the peasant class. He wanted to educate the illiterate millions that the truth alone
can only save them and liberate India from the clutches of foreign rule. For him
the battle for independence is the battle for truth, morality, wisdom, ethics and
nobility of nation hood and human life.

• “Rama-rajya” 57

Ideal nation hood was the aspirations cherished by Mahatma Gandhi during
the freedom struggle. Rama, for Gandhi stood for a great and much rich ideal.
Rama personifies the glorious and archetype Indian, and hence Ramarajya
became the ideal Indian state hood. If Plato created the ideal state of Utopia from
speculation, Gandhiji creates the ideal state of Rama rajya, right out of Indian
culture, Dharma and spirituality itself. He worked for the eternal concepts of
nation hood (Rama-rajya) were equality, un- exploitation and non discrimination
prevails. Rama–rajya was not a goal but a dream and an ideal way of life.
Gandhiji often believed that attainment of Rama-rajya is possible only through
practicing and upholding truth. He considered truth as God the almighty. Gandhi
wanted the Indian peasants to come forward for the establishment of Rama-rajya
and a self esteemed, self-sustainable, self rule. Gandhian concept of Rama rajya
can be equated as the Indian version of the Left ideals of social revolution.

Rama-rajya was not a communal life but it is a community living on

cooperation, coexistence and harmony where truth triumphed and prevailed.
Gandhiji was deeply hurt by the proposal of partition of Pakistan from India. For
him it was a wound in the mind and the soul of every Indian. In Gandhiji’s
concept Rama-rajya was on the principle of universal brother hood of man and
fatherhood of God. In his idealism of Rama-rajya there is no inequality and
exploitation of men on his brothers and sisters.

• “Thana Jalo”, “Sation phoonk do”, “Angrez bhag gaya”58

‘Burn the police station’, ‘Burn the railway station’, ‘Englishmen had fled’
Students of Banaras Hindu University decided to go to the villages to spread the

Mazumdar, R., C., (ed.) (1974). British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance, Bombay: Sage India.
Hutchins, Francis., (1971). Spontaneous Revolution: The Quit India Movement, New Delhi: p191.

message of Quit India. They fanned these slogans instigating the violence
throughout the length and breadth of the country. They hijacked trains and
draped them in national flags. In rural areas, the pattern was of large crowds of
peasants descending on the nearest tehsil or district town and attacking all
symbols of government authority. There was government firing and repression,
but the rebellion only gathered in momentum. This slogan shows that the young
generation of India doesn’t even want any remaining or traces of the British rule
in India.

The freedom movement had gradually evolved to a final show down. It was
indeed an evolutionary struggle of the people of India, contrary to the idea of gun
revolution as in Russia. From Civil Disobedience through Quit India, it had reached
the stage of capturing civil administration. Stage by stage, step by step Indians
had been setting a great model to the entire world. The final proclamation
involved setting up of setting of all measures to retaliate the British forces both in
men and material attack. Indians recoganised that capturing and ruling the civil
administration is more important in moulding a firm rule in the Indian
subcontinent. Attacking and capturing the British controlled offices were more
important because it illustrated that inevitability of getting more arms and
ammunitions, more money and material and the capability of attack and counter
attack by the Indians on any situation of emergency as the future rulers of India.
This slogan highlight the high time for Indians to prove their mettle as a force.

• “Jai Hind”59

‘Praising Hindustan-hails to the mother India’, this slogan was circulated by

the INA soldiers throughout the length and breadth of the country. On November
1945 when the historic Red Fort trials began, there were editorials in most all
Indian newspapers hailing INA men as the most historic patriots and criticising the
government stand. Priority coverage was given to INA trials and to the INA
campaign. Pamphlets of the most popular one being ‘Patriots not Traitors’ were
widely circulated. ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Quit India’ were scrawled on the walls of
buildings in Ajmer. Posters threatening death to ’20 English Dogs’ for every INA

Gosh, K., K., The Indian National Army, p210.

man sentenced were pasted all over Delhi. In Banaras, it was declared at a public
gathering that if INA men were not saved, revenge would be taken on European
children. The INA agitation was landmark on many counts. Firstly, the high pitch
or intensity at which the campaign for the release of INA prisoners was conducted
was unprecedented.

At last the final call or proclamation Jai Hind, calm and peaceful, nothing
more nothing less. At last the Indians earned the mindset to dislike or hate the
British and the English men. The point was as simple as it is ie. Indians do not
want others to rule India; no matter who might be. There was no hatred, no
malice, and no ill will to persons. It was simply a matter of truth and justice. Jai
Hind is the culmination of all these and more. Praising and praying for the mother
land is considered as the most sacred of all the deeds. Jai Hind signified that the
final aim of Indian independence is achieved. India turned to be a sovereign with
all its integrity and ethnicity as a true nation state. Jai Hind signified the birth of a
federal republic with the identity of a single entity and unity.