Lala Lajpat Rai, widely known as the "Punjab Kesari" or "Lion of Punjab" was a strong orator, author, revolutionary, lawyer, journalist, and politician in India's independence movement. Rai's life went from being an average student to a spectator of the Indian Independence struggle, a lawyer, and eventually to an active member of the Indian National Congress. Rai was born on January 28, 1865, into an Agarwal Jain family.
Rai was a pioneer in several independence struggle movements during his lifetime. Apart from that, as an education advocate, he established and co-founded educational institutes for Indian students. In honour of his mother, he founded a trust in 1927 to establish a tuberculosis hospital for women. Gulab Devi Chest Hospital, named after Rai's mother, was founded in 1934 on the site where she died.
As we commemorate Lala Lajpat Rai's 157th birth anniversary, here are some lesser-known facts about him that all should know.
- Lala Lajpat Rai was also called "Punjab Kesari."
- During the anti-Partition agitation in Bengal in 1905, he was a founding member of the Lal Bal Pal trio, which advocated for the Swadeshi movement.
- Swami Dayanand Saraswati's Hindu reformer movement impacted him during his law schooling in Lahore in the late 1870s, and he joined Arya Samaj Lahore. Later, he became the founder-editor of the Arya Gazette in Lahore.
- He was a founding member of the Hisar Bar Council and the Hisar district section of the Indian National Congress in 1886.
- He also supported Mahatma Hansraj in establishing the Lahore-based nationalist Dayanand Anglo-Vedic (DAV) School.
- In 1914, he left the practice of law to devote himself to the Indian Independence Movement.
- In the Calcutta Special Session of the Indian National Congress in 1920, he was chosen President.
- He formed the Servants of the People Society, a non-profit social service organisation dedicated to recruiting and training national missionaries for service to the country, in 1921.
- He led a nonviolent demonstration against the Simon Commission in 1928. The police lathicharged the protestors and assaulted Rai on Sir John Simon's orders. He got injured, and never fully healed, and he died on November 17, 1928.
- Homi Master, an Indian actor-director, directed a silent film 'Punjab Kesari' in 1929.