Words Behind Bars | Booknerds Newsletter
August 15, 2023 at 6:30:00 AM
We are approaching the 77th anniversary of India achieving independence from the tumultuous British rule. Celebrating the emergence of India from British India, there is a rush of people reading about biographies of our coveted freedom fighters, trying to envisage the frame of mind the country was under during that period. As a book lover, I wanted to give a curated book list suited perfectly for all the patriotism that we feel during this time but with a little bit of twist of course!
The freedom movement inspired new ideologies and radical thinking that simply was not the British’s cup of tea. They responded by throwing the radical thinkers, which were many of our freedom fighters, in jail. Within that confinement, many of our noble souls wrote books, describing the current atmosphere that India was going through as well as penning down their perspectives.
Here is a list of 6 books that were written in jail.
1) Why I Am an Atheist by Bhagat Singh
Written in 1930 in Lahore Central Jail, this book eventually got published months after his death. Circling the title, Bhagat Singh wrote this in retaliation to his friends who believed that he had become an atheist because of his vanity.
He wrote,” They can kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas. They can crush my body, but they will not be able to crush my spirit.”
2) Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru
Considered one of the most important books on Indian culture, philosophy, and history, the first Prime Minister of India wrote this book during his imprisonment from 1942 to 46. He wrote this to inspire nationalistic pride but also to provide a deep account of India spanning over 5,000 years.
3) The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
Translated into English from Gujarati, Gandhi started writing what would turn into an autobiography while he was in prison in 1925. This book provides insight into his childhood- his education and the challenges he faced in that period. It also focuses on his philosophies and the experiments that he did in his pursuit of truth and
4) Unhappy India by Lala Lajpat Rai
Considered his jail diary, this was written during Lala Lajpat Rai’s incarceration in Mandalay Jail in Burma now Myanmar for his involvement in the Indian independence movement. Expounding his vision for India, he described the exploitation done by the British administration while maintaining the need for unity among Indians to achieve independence.
5) The Story of My Transportation for Life by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
For his alleged involvement in activities that were considered against British rule in India, Vinayak Damodar was arrested in 1909. Within those four jail walls, he wrote about the harsh treatment he faced- the mental and physical challenges he had to endure. Through its pages, his unwavering perseverance for India’s freedom struggle is shown and is a must-read to understand the experience of Indian political prisoners during that era.
6) The Indian Struggle by Subhash Chandra Bose
Although this book wasn’t written in jail under house arrest, this book provides a detailed insight into the freedom movement from the Non-Cooperation Movement in the 1920s to the Quit India Movement in the 40s. This book was banned by the British Government and was published only after independence, in the year of 1948. Considered an indispensable asset to the country, this book is a must-read to enrich our patriotism.
Literature played a very big role in propagating new ideas during the freedom struggle and these books took a big role in that.
Let us go back to the time when all hope was lost and we were left with only patriotism burning in our hearts.
Hopefully, you find this curated list to your liking, share it among your friends and learn more about the freedom fighters and their thoughts during independence.