Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Unsung Heroes Detail

Paying tribute to India’s freedom fighters

Lala Hardayal

New Delhi, Delhi

March 12, 2021 to December 31, 2021

Lala Hardayal, was born on October 14, 1884, the 6th child of a large Kayastha Mathur family in Delhi, to Gauri Dayal Mathur, a district court reader and Bholi Rani. Influenced by the ideals of the Arya Samaj at an early age, his other influences included Mazinni, the great Italian revolutionary leader, Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, the Russian anarchist. He later graduated in Sanskrit from St.Stephen’s and also did his Post Graduation in the same subject from Punjab University. An academically brilliant student, he got 2 scholarships from Oxford in 1905 for higher studies in Sanskrit.

In a letter to The Indian Sociologist, published in 1907, he started to explore anarchist ideas, arguing that "our object is not to reform government, but to reform it away, leaving, if necessary only nominal traces of its existence." The letter led to him being put under surveillance by the police. Later that year, saying "To Hell with the ICS", he gave up the prestigious Oxford scholarships and returned to India in 1908 to live a life of austerity. But in India too, he started writing harsh articles in the leading newspapers, When the British government decided to censor his works, Lala Lajpat Rai advised him to leave and go abroad.

Although its attempts at overthrowing the British Raj were unsuccessful, the insurrectionary ideals of the Ghadar Party, of which Lala Hardayal was a key participant, influenced members of the Indian Independence Movement opposed to Gandhian nonviolence. He also mobilized Indians of the diaspora and encouraged them to be part of the freedom movement.