Source: Dharm Vir, “Dr. Har Dayal”, Punjab's Eminent Hindus, ed. N.B. Sen, 2nd ed. (Lahore: New Book Society, 1944)

Lala Har Dayal

The Indian Nationalist revolutionary Lala Har Dayal was born in 1884, the youngest of four sons.  A free-thinker in his student days, he had captured the attention of certain leaders of the Brahmo Samaj who attempted to have him join the society. Though he had considered conducting the newly planned Dayal Singh College upon his return from England, he later diverged from this plan.

It was in England where he came into contact with Pandit Shyamji Krishna Varma, the founder of the India House for Hindu students. Varma’s views of Naoroji and Gokhale as supporters of the British Government and Tilak as the true patriot deeply influenced the young Dayal. The arrests of Sardar Ajit Singh and Lala Rajpat Rai by the government further galvanised him into action. He refused to accept a State Scholarship and Oxford degree, feeling that such degrees and education were meant to “denationalise” the Hindus. He then left for Lahore with his wife to propagate his views on Hindu nationalism in 1908.

Dayal ardently believed that the basis of political independence for Hindustan lay in “pure and unalloyed” Hindu Nationalism. While residing in India, he gained countless followers keen to learn from his ideas. However, his political activities drew the attention of the government and he caught wind of his imminent arrest. He decided after some deliberation that it would be in the best interests of his cause for him to leave for France, an independent country, and established Paris as the centre of his activities.

Yet, all was not as he had expected. His stay in Paris was ridden with various difficulties and this, combined with the attitude of the Indian patriots there, intensified his sense of renunciation. Having long carried a worship of the Gautama Buddha, he contemplated taking up penance. This was however put to a stop when a close friend, Bhaiji Parmanand, pointed out that the ideal that he and India needed was that of Swami Vivendanka’s, instead of the Buddha’s, which could be construed as having laid the path to slavery. He further urged that Dayal leave for America if he meant to start a new movement. Realising that his penance hitherto had been a form of escapism, Dayal heeded Parmanand’s advice and left for Harvard, where he took up a series of appointments as a lecturer.

The Ghaddar Society was established in San Francisco with Dayal leading it, where it published articles aimed at promoting the cause of the Ghaddar Movement. After being released on bail following an arrest on charges of conspiracy, he left for Berlin where he undertook revolutionary work as part of the Indian Revolution Committee. However, feelings within the group began to take a sour turn when it became clear that there was no chance of Germany’s success in the First World War. Unable to tolerate this state of affairs, Dayal successfully left for Sweden despite being arrested initially by the German government who had learnt of his plans. In his later years, he continued to write and lecture on his thoughts while travelling to various countries until the time of his sudden death in 1939.

Source: Dharm Vir, “Dr. Har Dayal”, Punjab’s Eminent Hindus, ed. N.B. Sen, 2nd ed. (Lahore: New Book Society, 1944), 121-151

Works

 Forty-four Months in Germany and Turkey, February 1915 to October 1918: A Record of Personal Impressions (London: P.S. King & Son, 1920)

Our Educational Problem (Madras: Tagore & Co., 1922)

 

Ideas of IndiaIdeas of India