It was this young lad who threw the first bomb at the British who were ruling India. Even while at school, he was attracted towards the sacred words ‘VandeMataram’ (I bow to Mother India!) and plunged into the war of independence. The boy of sixteen defied the police. And at the age of 18 years 7 months & 11 days had already become a martyr.
The hero was Khudiram Bose, born on Dec 3, 1889 in a tiny village in Bengal. He was the only surviving son of his parents who also passed away when he was barely six yrs of age. Brought up by his elder sister and her husband who aspired of this intelligent boy to become a big officer.
Khudiram, like all brilliant kids found the school curriculum too boring and uninteresting to enjoy. He never paid attention to the teachers lectures and would be lost in his own dream world.
At the age of seven when kids think of foot balls and cars he was haunted by thoughts, ‘India is our country. It is a great country. Elders say that this has been the home of knowledge for thousands of years. Why, then, are the red-faced British here? Under them, our people cannot even live as they wish. When I grow up, I must somehow drive them out.’
Day in and day out, he would brood on these thoughts. Even on opening his books, he would see the images of red faced, green eyed gora men. The mere thought of these goras ruling over India made him have a strange uncomfortable feeling creep within him.
To the outsiders he appeared as a lost, anxious boy .
While visitng a temple once, and on seeing some sick people lying if front of their God begging for cure, Khudiram thought for a moment and said, “One day I too will have to give up all ‘thought of hunger and thirst and lie on the ground like these people.”
“What disease has struck you?” A man asked the boy.
Khudiram laughed, and said, “Can there be a disease worse than slavery? I will have to drive it out.”
He was inspired by the words of Bankim Chand Chatterjee’s patriotic poetry Vande Mataram (I salute the Mother), which had become the inspiration of many in British India.
The British out of panick reminiscing the 1857 revolt and in adesperate attempt to thwart the movement—orchestrated a rift between Hindus and Muslims in the shape of Partition of Bengal in 1905 as the brainchild of Lord Curzon—west Bengal being a Hindu Majority and east that of Muslims.
Patriots from different parts of the country opposed the partition of Bengal with one voice. In many places meetings, processions and non-violent strikes (satyagraha) were held, with the words Vande Mataram( I salute my motherland) on everyone’s lips.
He revered the freedom fighters of his time and finally dropped out of school in 1905 to join their activities. With reluctance and and after going through several tests he was accepted to join their ranks. Khudiram formally learnt the use of weapons like the pistol, the dagger and the lathi, and gained an expertise pretty soon.
He became obsessed with teaching the song Vande Mataram and its meaning to his friends and youth. ‘How could one fight for the mother if one did ‘not know” her? And could there be a better means of educating people than by teaching the gospel of Vande Mataram’?, he thought.
He undertook the task to distribute the hand bills of Vande Mataram during events in his home district of Medinipur. As the fire of Vande Mataram spread,the tempers of the British rose too. They started to physicalIy reprimand anyone who was caught shouting the slogan ‘ Vande Mataram’.
People starting wishing each other with salutations of Vande Mataram
The greater the tyranny of the British got, the greater grew the pride of Indians. People started boycotting foreign clothes. They left foreign schools and colleges. ‘Swadeshi’ (made in our country) became the mantra of salutation to patriots.
Even children as old as 14 or 15 years weren’t spared the 15 lashes for saying Vande Matatram by the Magistrate Kingfor . His stance being, “You have broken the law by attacking a British Policeman engaged in maintaining peace.” The magistrate was rewarded with quick promotions as a reward for his actions.
As the resentment grew, the revolutionaries began to plan the assassination of Magistrate Kingford.
Khudiram volunteered to do so.
“Can you do this grim work?” The leader bluntly asked him.
“With your blessings, what is impossible?” Khudiram answered him with a question.
“This is not so easy as going to jail. Do you know what will happen, if you are caught?” The leader asked him in a tone of warning.
Khudiram said calmly but firmly, “I know. At the worst, they can hang me. Master, I take it as a boon. Bharat Mata is my father, mother and all. To give up my life for her is, I consider, an act of merit. My sole desire is only this. Till our country wins freedom, I will be born here again and again, and sacrifice my life.”
On April 30 ,1908 Khudiram walked towards the Europeon Club at Muzaffarpur .The bomb leapt from his youthful hands and landed in the carriage that emerged out of Kingsford bungalow. A deafening explosion and then heart wrenching cries were heard one after the other.
Kingsford was lucky but two women in the carriage succumbed to the explosion.
Khudiram was caught a few days later by some local shopkeeper who reported him in order to grab the reward that went with his arrest.
The trial sentenced him to ‘death’ and he showed no remorse even when the judgement was being read.
The judge was surprised that a boy of eighteen years accepted death so calmly.
“Do you know what this judgment means?” he asked.
Khudiram replied with a smile ”I know its meaning better than you.”
The judge asked, “Have you anything to say?”
“Yes. I have to explain a few things about making bombs.”
The fearing that he might spell out the bomb-making technique in the court disallowed the boy to make further statement .
Rappeal in the high court too led to the same ruling as the judge had judged his fearless eyes and the determined face as ‘arrogance’ towards the British.
“Do you wish to say anything ?” the judge asked.
Khudiram said, ”Like all heroic men, I wish to die for the freedom of my country. The thought of the gallows does not make me unhappy in the least. My only regret is that Kingsford could not be punished for his crimes.”
Ironically, it is said, he had gained two pounds of weight during the wait for his death.
As had been decided, Khudiram was brought to the gallows at 6 am on August 19,1908. Even the arrival of the moment could not shake his love for his homeland.
Serenely, the lean and thin boy, walked up to the post with his shoulders wide and head held high. His lips wore a smile and eyes bore a twinkle. For the very last time he cried aloud, ‘Vande Mataram’ and then put his hand into the noose.
Finally in a few minutes, at the age on 18 years, 7 months and 11 days Khudiram was declared martyred and was laid to a penultimate rest in the very lap of the mother who he used to salute day in and day out.
Despite having remained alive, Kingsford had no peace of mind. He suffered from major depression and resigned from his post and settled at Mussorie.
The huge political crisis and the storm that was unleashed by the Partition of Bengal carried on unabated for 3 years. Ultimately in 1911 the British were forced to reverse their ‘divide and rule’ tactics and the two parts of Bengal were reunited.
Khudiram’s sacrifice did not entirely go waste…
Vande Mataram in Sanskrit:
Vande Mataram वन्दे मातरम्
Sujalam sufalam Malayaja sheetalam सुजलां सुफलां मलयजशीतला
Shasya shamalaam maataram म्सस्य श्यामलां मातरम् |
Shubra jyotsana pulakita yaminim शुभ्र ज्योत्स्ना पुलकित यामिनी
Fulla kusumita drumadala shobhinim म्फुल्ल कुसुमित द्रुमदलशोभिनीम्
Suhasinim sumadhura bhashinim सुहासिनीं सुमधुर भाषिणी
Sukhadam varadam mataram. म्सुखदां वरदां मातरम्
Vande Mataram वन्दे मातरम्
Translation(English by Aurobindo)
Mother, I salute thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams
,bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Green fields waving
Mother of might,
Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.
Urdu version(by Arif Mohammed Khan)( compliments to Mr. S F A Jaffery for providing it)
Tasleemat, maan tasleemattu
bhari hai meethe pani se
phal phoolon ki shadabi se
dakkin ki thandi hawaon se
faslon ki suhani fizaaon se
tasleemat, maan tasleemat
teri raaten roshan chand se
teri raunaq sabze faam se
teri pyar bhari muskan hai
teri meethi bahut zuban hai
teri banhon mein meri rahat ha
itere qadmon mein meri jannat hai
tasleemat, maan tasleemat –
A R Rehman’s version:
3 December 2010