His archival photographs depict him as a sturdily built Indian man with a hand stroking his mustache. We also know him for his role in the Kakori train robbery and the legislative assembly bombing of 1929. But there is more to Chandrashekhar Azad (1906-1931) than most know.
On his 115th birth anniversary on July 23, 2021, Garuda Prakashan is proud to pre-launch ‘Azad: The Invincible’, a biographical novel translated from Kannada to English building a comprehensive portrait of the independence revolutionary luminary through anecdotes, letters, his contemporaries’ biographical references, and news sources from pre-Independence India.
Written by legendary Kannada writer Babu Krishnamurthy and translated by Manjula Tekal, author of ‘Devayani’, the book details Azad’s life and times, from being born in a small no-name village to poverty-stricken parents, running away from home as a young boy, becoming a coolie in Mumbai, learning Sanskrit in Varanasi to his beginnings in the freedom struggle through participation in the non-cooperation movement and suffering flogging as a punishment.
The book’s original Kannada version, titled Ajeya, was published several years ago and has seen numerous reprints. Now, it is coming to the readers in English.
Azad then became a revolutionary and commanded a revolutionary movement in North India for around a decade. Chosen to command the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) after the death penalty of Ramprasad Bismil—quotes from whose biography is among the many rich research material in the book—Azad was responsible for the political assassination of Saunders to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, who was beaten up brutally when he was protesting peacefully in 1928.
He was also responsible for orchestrating the bombing in the legislative assembly to protest the introduction of two highly oppressive and unpopular bills designed to increase the dictatorial powers of the British in India.
The book also details the politics at that time and looks into the questions like how and why he moved from being a Gandhian to a revolutionary, choosing the path of armed revolution instead as the means of combating the British colonial rule.
“‘Azad: The Invincible’ is the exciting, thrilling, and ever inspiring saga of Chandrashekhar Azad, the embodiment of courage, conviction, and heroism of the Indian freedom movement which is ‘stranger than fiction.’ It keeps the reader on tenterhooks from the first page to the last page,” says author Dr. Babu Krishnamurthy.
The young martyr, who roared “Main Azad hoon…Azad Hee Rahoonga (I am free; I will remain free)”, and lived up to his word, when he engaged with the police in the Alfred Park of Allahabad (now Prayagraj). The book chronicles the episode in every single detail and also what happened to Azad’s pistol.
“‘Azad, the Invincible’. . . . is a slice of history rendered in an easy anecdotal form. In narrating the story of Chandrashekhar Azad, Dr. Babu Krishnamurthy tells the story of his times, his friends and associates, their struggles, and achievements. It describes the values Azad inherited, tried to uphold, and indeed lived by throughout his young life,” says translator Manjula Tekal, Azad: The Invincible.