Presently the world’s largest democracy with the longest written constitution, India, has been a free and independent nation only since 1947. Earlier being visited by the Aryans, the Persians, Iranians, Parses and Mughals, India was invaded and looted by the Mongolians. Later french colonies were established and finally came the Britishers to rule over the country. India lived under the colonial rule- British Raj for nearly 200 years. After being ruled over by the British East India Company from 1600, the Sepoy mutiny, called The Indian Rebellion of 1857, began. This marked the initiation of the Indian Freedom Struggle. The struggle for freedom wasn’t demanded or fought for in a single day but it took 90 years for the country to regain its political independency and it was a mass based movement. Hundreds of freedom fighters campaigned against foreign domination and helped in getting the country freed from British, French and Portuguese rule. These are 12 greatest freedom fighters of all time to whom we owe this independent nation we are currently living in.
12. Sarojini Naidu
Remembered as the Nightingale of India, poet and social activist Sarojini Naidu made significant contributions during the independence struggle of India. Sarojini Naidu was the first woman to be elected as the governor of an Indian state and the Indian National Congress. She traveled across different states delivering speeches on social welfare and her poetry became the medium of sending out the message of independence.
11. DR. babasaheb ambedkar
Responsible for the formulation of Indian constitution, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar has played a tremendous role in shaping the modern India and transforming millions of oppressed people into dignified and responsible citizens of India. Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar was born into a Dalit family which made him a victim of the caste system. He converted to Buddhism and also helped other low caste people to rise above the torture conducted towards them. Dr Ambedkar was an important part of the social revolution and was made the first Law Minister of India.
10. Mangal Pandey
A soldier in the army of British East India Company, Mangal Pandey was one of the first freedom fighters of India. Pandey was a Sepoy who rose against the British rule during the Great Revolt of 1857. Mangal Pandey attacked his British officers, revolted against the greased cartridges being used by the British forces and played a pivotal role in the Barrack pore Unrest. Mangal Pandey fought with diligence for the freedom of this country and due to his rebelliousness he was hanged till death in 1857.
9. Bahadur Shah Zafar
The last Mughal Emperor of India Bahadur Shah Zafar was a great freedom fighter largely involved in the Indian Rebeliion of 1857. He was the leader of the Sepoys and led his army for the Sepoy mutiny against the East India Company. Seeing his rebellious activities Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Rangoon which is now in Bangladesh.
8. Sardar Vallabhai Patel
A prominent leader of Indian National Congress, Sardar vallabhai Patel played a leading role in India’s struggle for independence. Vallabhai Patel took part in Satyagraha and while Mahatma Gandhi was in prison he led the Satyagraha in Nagpur. Sardar Vallabhai Patel also actively participated in Civil Disobedience Movement and Quit India Movement.
7. Dr. Rajendra Prasad
We remember Dr Rajendra Prasad as the first president of The Republic of India but he also played a great role in the freedom struggle of the country and is rightly referred to as the architect of Constitution of India. Dr Rajendra Prasad, a supporter of Mahatma Gandhi joined the Indian National Congress during the Independence movement and became a major leader from the region of Bihar. He was an active member of the Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement and was imprisoned by the British authorities during these movements.
6. Rani Lakshmi Bai
The Indian struggle for freedom wasn’t just a man’s affair but thousands of women too fought with bravery to bring back this nation’s pride and Rani Lakshmi Bai’s name shines in the list. “Khoob ladi mardani wo to Jhansi wali Rani thi” (She fought a man’s war, she was Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi). These words wonderfully talk about the bravery with which she fought the British army to save her reign over the Princely state of Jhansi. Rani Lakshmi Bai led her troop, the largest women army till date, and fought the battle against the British.
5. Jawahar Lal Nehru
The first Prime Minister of independent India Jawahar Lal Nehru hasn’t gained much recognition as a freedom fighter which he deserves. Born into a political family Jawahar Lal Nehru spent most of his educational years in England but then returned to India as the struggle for freedom had been on his mind for a long time. Nehru was a staunch Gandhian. He believed in Satyagraha and was keen on adapting the non-violent methods for the freedom struggle. Jawahar Lal Nehru actively took part in the non-cooperation movement in 1920 and then the Civil Disobedience Movement. The last days of freedom struggle saw vigorous campaigns by Nehru and ultimately he took the responsibility as a Prime Minister of India to build a new nation with a successful economy.
4. Chandra Shekhar Azad
When it comes to remembering the powerful souls who gave away their life to see India getting independence Chandra Shekhar Azad is a sure name. One of the greatest freedom fighters and a revolutionary, Chandra Shekhar Azad was committed to free India by any means. First participating in Gandhi’s non cooperation movement, Azad later implemented the use of arms for the struggle of freedom. The unforgettable contributions by Azad include establishment of Hindustan Socialist Republic Association, mentoring and encouraging other young revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev and establishment of Jhansi camp. Chandra Shekhar Azad loathed the British rule to such extent that he ended his life by shooting himself because he preferred dying with pride rather than by the hands of British police.
3. Subhash Chandra Bose
Another great freedom fighter was Subhash Chandra Bose who was the founder of Indian National Army, more popularly known as “Azad Hind Fauj”. Subhash Chandra Bose was a believer in Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and had a patriotic zeal even as a student. During his days in Calcutta University, he had beat one of his British professors who made a racist remark over Indian students. Bose was a rebel and he joined the Indian National Congress and later became its president.
“Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe azadi dunga” (You give me blood, and I promise you freedom). These are the ever famous words said by Netaji in his speech which motivated a large number of Indians to take up intense and serious actions towards freeing their motherland from colonial powers.
2. Mahatma Gandhi
The man whose picture we see every day on the currency of this country, the Father of the Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an iconic personality. His gave up everything to make India a free and independent country. Mahatma was a believer in non-violence and a man with very strong morals and values. His countless contributions to the country includes his efforts towards easing poverty, expanding women rights, ending untouchability and above all, bringing Swaraj- Self-rule. Gandhi led movement and campaigns like Dandi Salt March, Quit India Movement, Non Cooperation Movement, Satyagraha among many others. If it wasn’t for this old man, India would have continued to live under colonial rule for atleast a few more years.
1. Bhagat Singh
Bhagat Singh is rightly considered to be the most influential revolutionary during the Independence movement for India. When we think of all the martyrs who gave away their life for the pride and honor of their motherland, we often remember “Shaheed” Bhagat Singh. From seeking revenge on Lala Lajpat Rai’s death and 1929 assembly bomb throwing incident to the 116 days fast in jail, Singh was not a believer in Gandhian ideology of Satyagraha and non-violence. At the age of 23 Singh was sentenced to death along with Rajguru and Sukhdev while all three of them kissed the rope, put it around their neck themselves and died for the sake of Bharat Mata. Singh’s death proved to be an awakening for the youth of the nation which got committed to make India the Independent India.