|Bipin Chandra Pal
advocate for the ideal of Swaraj
Bipin Chandra Pal was born into a wealthy Hindu family on November 7, 1858, in a village in Sylhet (in present-day Bangladesh). He was educated in Sylhet before being admitted to Presidency College, but left the college before completing his studies. In 1879, Pal became the headmaster of a high school, and he worked in this capacity at various schools for the next several years. Between 1890 and 1891, he worked as a librarian and secretary for the Calcutta Public Library.
Pal became attracted to the Brahma movement after coming into contact with Keshab Chandra Sen, Shibnath Shastri, Bijoy Krishna Goswami, and other prominent Brahma leaders. But it was Surendranath Banerjea who inspired him to begin taking an active part in politics, and he soon became a convert to the ideas of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, and Aurobinda Ghosh, leaders of the extremist wing of the Indian National Congress. Pal attended the 1886 and 1887 annual sessions of that Congress, and compelled the Congress to take up the cause of Assam tea garden laborers who were being cruelly treated by the planters.
In 1898, Pal went to study comparative theology in England, but returned to India after a year. After his return, he began preaching the ideal of Swaraj (complete independence) through his weekly journal, New India. Through written articles and passionate speeches, Pal preached that independence could only be won by sacrifice and suffering. He also espoused such extremist measures as the boycotting of British-made goods, lockouts in British-owned businesses and industrial concerns, and the burning of Western clothing as ways for Indians to achieve that goal.
Pal's notoriety grew dramatically following the 1905 partition of Bengal, which Pal claimed was a British move to split the Bengalis and thus break their growing political influence. In response to the partition he started the daily paper Bande Mataram and became its chief editor. He also organized a propaganda tour in various parts of Bengal, Assam, Utter Pradash, and Madras. It was during this tour that he became known throughout India for his oratorical skills, and people often traveled great distances to hear him speak.
In 1907, Pal was imprisoned for refusing to give evidence against Aurovinda Ghosh in the Bande Mataram Sedition Case. Upon his release in 1908, he went to England to "lead the life of an enforced exile," and remained there for three years. He returned to England for the final time in 1919, as a member of the Home Rule League deputation led by Tilak.
Pal's open criticism of the non-cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi caused him to lose popularity amongst the Indian population, and he retired from active politics in 1925.
Bipin Chandra Pal died in Calcutta on May 20, 1932.
Publications and Writings
assistant editor of Bengali Public
biography of Queen Victoria (in Bangla), 1887
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This page was last updated on January 22, 2014.