Sitaram Tiwari married Jagrani Devi after his two previous wives died young and it was as if fate was conspiring to bring them together, for a purpose far greater and bigger than either of them could have ever imagined. The couple welcomed their first born, Sukhdev, in Badarka and soon moved to Alirajpur State and it is here, in a village called Bhawra that the story actually starts.
Home of Chandra Shekar Azad
In the quite village of Bhawra on the 23rd of July 1906 Jagrani Devi birth to another child, a son who was going to re-write the history of India forever. Born Chandra Shekhar Tiwari, the greatest revolutionary India has ever seen was a devout Brahmin and believed it was his “dharma” to fight for others and that is exactly what he did, throughout his life.
Chandra Shekhar received his early schooling in Bhawra district in Jhabua. Jagrani wanted her son to be a great Sanskrit scholar and that’s how Chandra Shekhar found himself in Kashi Vidyapeeth in Banras. Chandra Shekhar came from a generation of Indians who were deeply inspired by the launch of Non-Cooperation Movement by Mahatma Gandhi in the year 1920. Deeply troubled by the Jalianwalabagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919, Chandra Shekhar took an active part in the Non-Cooperation Movement when he barely 15 years old.
Chandra Shekhar Azad's Family
He was arrested for taking part in the movement and was sentenced to fifteen day’s imprisonment. This arrest would become the most defining moment of his life because when the magistrate asked for his name he replied “Azad” and thus was born the great revolutionary we all know as Chandra Shekhar Azad. He was sentenced to 15 lashes for this but every time the whip lashed at him he shouted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. That was the day 15-year-old Chandra Shekhar Tiwari became Chandra Shekhar Azad. It was also the day when Azad vowed that the British would never capture him alive.
Azad was disappointed when Gandhiji suspended the Non-Cooperation Movement. While Gandhiji saw the Chauri Chaura incident, where a crowd of people participating in the Non-Coperation Movement burned down a police station leading to the massacre of 22 policemen, as appalling, Azad felt that violence was not unacceptable in a struggle, especially after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. So, after Gandhiji suspended the movement Azad was attracted by more violent and revolutionary ideas.
Azad committed himself to complete independence and was the first among many Indian revolutionaries to use arms in the fight for independence. Azad also believed that India’s future lay in socialism. It was around this time that Azad met a young revolutionary called Pranvesh Chatterji. Chatterji introduced him Ram Prasad Bislmil and they became life-long friends.
Ram Prasad Bismil
Ram Prasad Bismil had formed the revolutionary organization Hindustan Republican Association (HRA). HRA’s aim was to create an independent India, an India with equal rights and opportunity to everyone without discrimination of caste, creed, religion or social status. Azad was very impressed by Ram Prasad Bismil and HRA. But it wasn’t just Azad who was impressed with this meeting, Azad himself made quite an impression on Bismil when he put his hand over a lamp and did not remove it till his skin burnt.
Thereafter Azad became an active member of HRA. He used to collect funds for HRA by robbing government property. Azad and his compatriots planned and executed several acts of violence against the British and most of them were executed from Ram Prasad Bismil’s hometown Shahjahanpur.
Jhansi was very special for Azad. Jhansi had been his organization’s hub for some time. The forest of Orchha, some 15 kilometers from Jhansi, was where he practiced his shooting making him an expert marksman. It was also here where he trained other members of his group. Azad, an ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman, built a hut near to a Hanuman Temple on the banks of the river Satar. In fact, Azad who was an expert in wearing disguises is once said to have disguised himself as a priest in a Hanuman temple to escape a British police dragnet. Here he lived under the alias Harishankar Brahmachari for a long period. He even started teaching the children from the nearby village of Dhimarpura. He created a good rapport with the locals there that now the village has been renamed Azadpura by the Madhya Pradesh government. Azad also learned to drive a car when he was in Jhansi.
Our tribute to the Legendary Hero Chandra Shekhar Azad: