The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Lalaji : A Multifaceted Personality and A Life of Epic Dimensions
Lalaji : A Multifaceted Personality
Lala Lajpat Rai, the martyr, was a store-house of many good qualities. Efficiency, tireless industry and patriotism gave lustre to his personality. For the sake of his country he won a large number of friends both in India and abroad. From the platform he spoke for hours eloquently. His speeches were fiery and galvanizing. People heard him spellbound and his words opened their eyes. He was indeed a lion among men.
He was a brilliant man and he was devoted, in body and mind, to the cause of education. The D.A.V. College, the National College, the Tilak School of Politics and others are living monuments to his patriotism. His service in the field of journalism was no less valuable. He founded the Urdu weekly Vande Mataram and the English weekly ‘The People’—and both maintained high standards. In the field of commerce too, he will be remembered forever. It was Lalaji who established the Punjab National Bank and the Lakshmi Insurance Company.
As a member of the Arya Samaj he worked incessantly. He fought against Untouchability. When Gandhiji started the ‘Harijan Sevak Sangh’ he worked for it. He was like a father to the orphans. He was responsible for starting numerous orphanages in the country. The Gulab Devi Hospital and the Servants of People Society are living monuments to the memory of that great man.
Lalaji was one of those who sowed the seeds of socialism in India. He was well acquainted with Henry Meyers, Beatrice Webb, Lansbury and others who promoted the growth of socialism in Britain. He was in the vanguard of labour organization. He founded the ‘All- India Trade Union Congress’ and was himself its president. He started an organized effort to improve the conditions of the working class. He pleaded that a part of the profits of an industry should be given to the workmen.
The people of India were in chains, and they had to be aroused. They had to be organized. Lalaji was the symbol of the power, which did this.
Lalaji : A Life of Epic Dimensions
There was hardly any Indian leader, with the exception of Gandhiji, whose public activities covered such a wide range as those of Lalaji. As Gandhiji put it, “It is impossible to think of a single public movement in which Lalaji was not to be found”.
In 1886, he was associated with the founding of the DAV College at Lahore and out of his income from a lucrative practice at the District Court in Hissar and the Chief Court at Lahore UDA Rai with Swami Vivekananda he contributed a lion’s share to it. In 1899-1900, when a dreadful famine raged in Punjab, the Central Provinces, Rajputana and the United Provinces, Lajpat Rai planned and implemented the relief work on an extensive scale.
From the very beginning, Lalaji emphasised the growth of trade and industry and wanted the Congress to hold industrial conferences during its annual sessions. He founded institutions like the Punjab National Bank and the Lakshmi Insurance Company and favoured setting up of indigenous outfits to give a boost to export by Indian traders as against the British entrepreneurs who were making huge profits in the absence of any competition.
Lalaji was a great exponent of free and compulsory education and to inculcate patriotism and nationalism among the youth he delineated a model of national education. He established the Tilak School of Politics for the political training of students and the Servants of the People Society to enlist and train life members vowed to work selflessly for the country.
Lajpat Rai approached the communal problem in a rational and practical manner. He emphasised the need for concentrating on economic and other interests which were common to various communities rather than harping on their sectarian differences. Setting aside their communal bickerings, he said, ‘‘Their foremost passion should be to combine to fight our poverty and ignorance—the common enemies of the whole mankind”.
He said, “Since India was not exclusively Hindu, its prosperity and future depended on the reconciliation of Hinduism with the greater ‘ism’— the Indian nationalism.” In the same vein elsewhere he remarked. “India is neither Hindu nor Muslim, not even both. It is one. It is India. Let us live and die for each other, so that India may live and prosper as a nation.” He appealed both to the Hindus and Muslims to take pride in the achievements of their common heroes and saints, “If Mother India had an Ashoka, she had an Akbar too; if she had a Chaitanya, she had a Kabir also. For every Hindu hero, we can cite a Muhammadan hero.
We may be as proud of Syed Ahmed Khan as of Rammohan Roy and Dayanand.” What India needed, according to Lalaji, was more of nationalism and tolerance than orthodoxy and bigotry. To resolve the communal tangle, his prescription was to integrate the different religions as much as possible by emphasising the points on which they agreed, by eliminating non-essentials, by restricting the essential differences within the narrowest limits and finally by removing all barriers to free social intercourse between the communities.
To foster the spirit of true nationalism among the people, Lalaji did not favour in the least the idea of annihilation of all nationalities or communal identities but wanted their coming together in a free and equal association, removing all impediments that tended to create a sense of segregation, anomie and alienation among the various groups constituting the nation.