Influence of Anushilan Samiti led to Revolutionary nationalism

Sep 12, 2021 - 07:01

The nationalist publication Jugantar, which served as the organ of the Samiti, inspired fanatical loyalty among its readers. By 1907 it was selling 7,000 copies, which later rose to 20,000. Its message was aimed at elite politically conscious readers and was essentially a critique of British rule in India and justification of political violence.

Several young men who joined the Samiti credited Jugantar with influencing their decisions. The editor of the paper, Bhupendranath Datta, was arrested and sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment in 1907.

The Samiti responded by attempting to assassinate Douglas Kingsford, who presided over the trial, and Jugantar responded with defiant editorials. Jugantar was repeatedly prosecuted, leaving it in financial ruins by 1908.

However, the prosecutions brought the paper more publicity and helped disseminate Samiti's ideology of revolutionary nationalism. Historian Shukla Sanyal has commented that revolutionary terrorism as an ideology began to win at least tacit support amongst a significant populace at this time.

Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the founder of the Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was an alumnus of the Anushilan Samiti.

He was sent to Calcutta by B. S. Moonje in 1910 to study medicine, and to learn techniques of violent nationalism from secret revolutionary organizations in Bengal. There he lived with independence activist Shyam Sundar Chakravarty and had contacts with revolutionaries like Ram Prasad Bismil.

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