The Revolutionary (Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, 1925)
The Revolutionary was published by the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) – renamed in 1928 as the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) – a revolutionary organisation that was set up in 1923. It was written by Ram Prasad Bismil, a leader of the Association, but was signed under a fake name. The document expressed the ideology, plans and vision of the HRA on questions regarding foreign rule, the independence movement and the future of India. It was widely circulated in different parts of the country and aimed to galvanise the people of India to mount a revolution to overthrow British rule.
The Revolutionary was a 4-page document written in a non-legal style and read more like a manifesto or a declaration rather than a stiff legal/constitutional document – the rhetorical style resembled the Purna Swaraj Declaration,1930.
The document rejected foreign rule and advocated for a revolutionary approach towards obtaining independence for the country – dismissing constitutional means adopted by other political parties like the Indian National Congress. Para 7 of the document, though only brief and incomplete, contains an articulation of a constitutional vision. The document aimed to establish (through ‘organised and armed revolution’) a ‘Federal Republic of the United States of India’. It called for a Constitution to be framed, and the resulting Constitutional republic would be based on principles that included: universal adult suffrage, nationalisation of major industries, right to recall elected representatives and group rights.
It is not clear what effect – if any – the document had in persuading Indians to join the revolutionary movement. Government agencies, like the police, were shocked and scandalised by the contents of the document. During the late 1920s, the British government came down heavy on members of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. In the Kakori Conspiracy Case, which eventually led to the hanging of Bhagat Singh and his associates, The Revolutionary was part of the evidence used in the trial.
“Chaos is necessary to the birth of a new star” and the birth of life is accompanied by agony and pain. India is also taking a new birth and is passing through that inevitable phase, when chaos and agony shall play their destined role, when all calculations shall prove futile, when the wise and the mighty shall be bewildered by the simple and the week, when great empires shall crumble down and new nations shall arise and surprise humanity with the splendour and glory which shall be all its own.
This new power, which is shaking the world from its very depths, this new spirit which is working miracles behind the scene, is also manifesting itself in the young blood of India and is taking the shape of a movement which is despised and ignored by the wise and the learned, and is being described as the wild dreams of a few mad men. This remarkable movement is the revolutionary movement in young India.
The revolutionary movement has unnerved the weak, has inspired the robust and healthy, and has confounded the worldly wise and the learned. This movement can never be crushed just as much as the coming of the spring can never be thwarted. It will never die out until it has fulfilled the mission for which it has taken its birth.
Tyrants will oppress it, the faithless will taunt at it, and the confounded will denounce it, but thoughts and ideas can never be crushed by the sword, and the noble impulse that has taken birth in the very depths of out being can never be ignored, nor taunted.
This revolutionary movement is the manifestation of the new life that has taken birth in the Nation. To denounce this life is to denounce one’s own understanding.
Twenty years of ruthless repression has not been able to crush it. Scathing denunciation by the renowned public leaders has not been able to arrest its steady growth. The movement stands mightier today than what it was before. The prospects of this revolutionary party were never so bright as they are today. This future is assured. Let no Indian deny the existence of this revolutionary party in order to denounce the repressive measures of the foreign rulers. The foreigners have no right to rule over India and therefore they must be denounced and driven out. Not that they have committed any particular act of violence or crime. There are the natural consequences of a foreign rule. This foreign rule must be abolished. They have no justification to rule over India except the justification of sword and therefore the revolutionary party had taken to the sword. But the sword of the revolutionary party bears ideas at its edge.
The immediate object of the revolutionary party in the domain of politics is to establish a federal Republic of United State of India by an organized and armed revolution. The final constitution of this Republic shall be framed and declared at a time when the representatives of India shall have the power to carry out their decision. But the basic principles of this Republic will be universal suffrage and abolition of all system which make the exploitation of man by man possible, e.g. the railways and other means of transportation and communication, the mines and other kinds of very great industries such as the manufacture of steel and ships all these shall be nationalised. In this Republic the electors shall have the right to recall their representatives, if so desired, otherwise the democracy shall become a mockery. In this Republic, the legislature shall have the power to control the executives and replace them whenever necessity will arise.
The revolutionary party is not national but international in the sense that its ultimate object is to bring harmony in the world by respecting and guaranteeing the diverse interests of the different nations. It aims not at cooperation between the different nations and states and in this respect it follows the footsteps of great Indian Rishis of the glorious past and of Bolshevik Russia in the modern age. Good for humanity is no vain and empty word with the Indian revolutionaries. But the weak, the coward and the powerless can do no good either to themselves or to humanity.
With regard to the communal question, the revolutionary party contemplates to grant whatever rights the different communities may demand, provided they do not clash with the interests of other communities and they lead ultimately to hearty and organic union in different communities in the near future.
In the domain of economic and social welfare the party will foster the spirit of cooperation on as large a scale as possible. Instead of private and unorganised business enterprises, the party prefers cooperative union.
In the spiritual domain the party aims at establishing the truth and preaching it that the world in not Maya, an illusion to be ignored and despised at, but that it is the manifestation of the one individual soul, the supreme source of all power, all knowledge and all beauty.
The revolutionary party has its own policy and its own programme. It cannot for obvious reasons divulge all its secrets. But when it will become quite sure that the government happens to know more than our own people, then the public will also be informed of its plan and methods without any hesitation at will.
This revolutionary party pursues the policy of cooperation when possible and dissociation where necessary with the Indian National Congress and its different parties. But this party views all constitutional agitation in this country with contempt and ridicule. It is a mockery to say that India’s salvation can be achieved through constitutional means, where no constitution exists.
It is a self-deception to say that India’s political liberty can be attained through peaceful and legitimate means. When the enemy is determined to break the peace at his own convenience, the fine phrase “legitimate” loses all its charm and significance when one pledges himself to maintain peace at all costs.
Our public leaders hesitate to speak in plain terms that India wants complete autonomy free from foreign control. They perhaps are ignorant of the fact that nations are born through the inspiration of great ideals. The spiritual ideal which hestitates to accept the spirit of complete autonomy can hardly be called spirititual, though it may seemingly appear the most unmistakable terms and to place before the nation an ideal worth the name.
The ideal before us is to serve humanity in an organized way. The ideal can never be realised by India so long as India remains British India. In order that India may realise her ideal she must have a separate and independent existence. This independence can never be achieved through peaceful and constitutional means. Even a child can understand that the laws that govern British India are not made by Indians, nor can they have any control over them. British India can never be transformed into a federal republic of the United State of India through the British laws and constitution.
Young Indians! shake off your illusion, face realities with a stout heart, and do not avoid struggle, difficulties and sacrifices. The inevitable is to come. Do not be misguided any more. Peace and tranquility you cannot achieve by peaceful and legitimate means. The following memorable words of a great English author Mr. Robertson may serve to make the wise men of India wiser still:”The movement and programme of reform was mainly the achievement of Irish and Protestant leaders, to whom British statement had revealed the fatal secret that England could be bullied but not argued into justice and generosity.” —English Under Hanoverians, page-197
Indian public leaders are still ignorant of this fatal secret, or else they are foolishly wise to remain ignorants.
The wise men of India say that it is absurd to cherish the hope that India can be reconquered by force of force of arms, though they forget that it is equally or more absurd to believe that a handful of Englishmen have kept under subjugation by the force of arms, though they forget that it is equally or more absurd to believe that a handful of Englishmen have kept under subjugation by the force of arms one-fifth of the whole human race. Posterity may well doubt the authenticity of this fact that a handful of Englishmen even ruled over India for a century; it is so inconceivable.
A few words more about terrorism and anarchism. These two words are playing the most mischievous part in India today. They are being invariably misapplied whenever any reference to revolution arises to be made, because it is so very convenient to denounce the revolutionary under that name. The Indian revolutionaries are neither terrorists nor anarchists. They never aim at spreading anarchy in the land and therefore they can never properly be called anarchists. Terrorism is never their object and they cannot be called terrorists. They do not believe that terrorism alone can bring independence and they do not want terrorism for terrorism’s sake although they may at times resort to this method as a very effective means of retaliation. The present Govt. exists simply because the Foreigners have successfully been able to terrorise the Indian people. The Indian people do not love their English masters, they do not want them to be here; but they do help the Britishers simply because they are terribly afraid of them and this very fear resists the Indians from extending their helping hands to the revolutionaries, not that they do not love them.
The official terrorism is surely to be met by counter-terrorism. A spirit of utter helplessness pervades every strata of our society and terrorism is an effective means of restoring the proper spirits in the society without which progress will be difficult. Moreover, the English masters and their hired lackeys can never be allowed to do whatever they like, uninterrupted, unmodested. Every possible difficulty and resistance must be thrown in their way.
Terrorism has an international bearing also, because the ardent enemies of England are at once drawn towards Indian through terrorism and revolutionary demonstrations, and the revolutionary party has deliberately abstained itself from entering into this terroristic campaign at the present movement even at the greatest of provocations in the form in the form of outrages committed on their sisters and mothers by the agents of a foreign government, simply because the party is waiting to deliver the final blow.
But when expediency will demand it, the party will unhesitatingly enter into a desperate campaign of terrorism, when the life of every official and individual who will be helping the foreign ruler in any way will be made intolerable, be he Indian or European, high or low. But even then the party will never forget that terrorism is not the object, and they will try incessantly to organize a band of selfless and devoted workers who will devote their best energies towards the political and social emancipation of their country.
They will always remember that the making of nations requires the self-sacrifice of thousand of obscure men and women who care more for the idea of their country than for their own comfort or interest, their own lives or the lives of those whom they love.
Sd/- Vijay KumarPresident, Central CouncilRepublic Party of India