Lala Har Dayal
|Har Dayal Mathur
14 October 1884
Delhi, British India
|4 March 1939 (aged 54)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
|Our Educational Problem
Thoughts on Education
Hints for Self Culture
Glimpses of World Religions
The Bodhisattva Doctrines in Buddhist Sanskrit Literature
Lala Har Dayal Mathur (Punjabi: ਲਾਲਾ ਹਰਦਿਆਲ; 14 October 1884 – 4 March 1939) was an Indian nationalist revolutionary and freedom fighter. He was a polymath who turned down a career in the Indian Civil Service. His simple living and intellectual acumen inspired many expatriate Indians living in Canada and the U.S. in their campaign against British rule in India during the First World War.
Har Dayal Mathur was born in a Hindu Mathur Kayastha family on 14 October 1884 at Delhi. He studied at the Cambridge Mission School and received his bachelor's degree in Sanskrit from St. Stephen's College, Delhi and his master's degree also in Sanskrit from Punjab University. In 1905, he received two scholarships of Oxford University for his higher studies in Sanskrit: Boden Scholarship, 1907 and Casberd Exhibitioner, an award from St John's College, where he was studying.
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He moved to the United States in 1911, where he became involved in industrial unionism. He had also served as secretary of the San Francisco branch of the Industrial Workers of the World alongside Fritz Wolffheim, (later a National Bolshevik after he had left IWW and joined the Communist Workers' Party of Germany). In a statement outlining the principles of the Fraternity of the Red Flag, he said they proposed "the establishment of Communism, and the abolition of private property in land and capital through an industrial organization and the general strike, ultimate abolition of the coercive organization of government". A little over a year later, this group was given 6 acres (24,000 m2) of land and a house in Oakland, where he founded the Bakunin Institute of California, which he described as "the first monastery of anarchism".
In California, he soon developed contacts with Punjabi Sikh farmers in Stockton. Punjabis, a great majority of whom were Sikhs, had started emigrating to the West Coast around the turn of the century. Having experienced hostility by the Canadians in Vancouver, they had already become disaffected with the British. Hardayal tapped into this sentiment of these energetic Sikhs and other Punjabis. Having developed an Indian nationalist perspective, he encouraged young Indians to gain scientific and sociological education.
In April 1914, he was arrested by the United States government for spreading anarchist literature and fled to Berlin, Germany. In Berlin he became instrumental to the formation of the Berlin Committee (later: Indian Independence Committee) and cooperated with the German Intelligence Bureau for the East.
He died in Philadelphia on 4 March 1939. In the evening of his death, he delivered a lecture as usual where he had said: "I am in peace with all". But a very close friend of Lala Hardayal and the founder member of Bharat Mata Society (established in 1907), Lala Hanumant Sahai, did not accept the death as natural, he suspected it as poisoning.
In 1987, the India Department of Posts issued a commemorative stamp in his honor, within the series of "India's Struggle for Freedom".
Some of his books with available references are listed below:
This 392-page work of Lala Hardayal consists of 7 chapters which deal with the Bodhisattva doctrine as expounded in the principal Buddhist Sanskrit Literature.
This book contains comprehensive notes and references besides a general index appended at the end. This book has been written in a particularly lucid style which exhibits scholarly acumen and the mastery of Lala Hardayal in literary art. It proved influential with Edward Conze, a German Marxist refugee from Nazi Germany who made Har Dayal 's acquaintance in London in the 1930s.
According to Swami Rama Tirtha, Lala Har Dayal was the greatest Hindu who ever came to America, a great sage and saint, whose life mirrored the highest spirituality as his soul reflected the love of the 'Universal Spirit' whom he tried to realize.
In another appreciation Prof. Dharmavira has sketched the picture of Lala Har Dayal which is being quoted here in verbatim:
Har Dayal dedicated his whole life to the sacred cause of the motherland. Surely from such a person alone could one ask: "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Let us drink deep at this spring and wax glad and strong and brave in every nerve and fibre of our being. He was one of the race of those who wrote the New Era in blood. His course was laborious, truthful, simple, independent, noble; and all these in an eminent degree. His experience of the inward and the outward battle was not inconsiderable and it was not confined to his early manhood, but was spread over his whole life. Lala Har Dayal had the Janak and Dadhichi touch and his life demonstrated that he had what it takes.— Prof. Dharmavira (9 July 1969)
Hardayal was a Delhi man, a high caste Hindu of the Mathur, Kayastha Community
Metaphysics has been the curse of India. It has blighted her history and compassed her ruin. ... It has blinded her seers and led them to mistake phantoms for realities. ... Young men of India, look not for wisdom in the musty parchments of your metaphysical treatises. There is nothing but an endless round of verbal jugglery there. Read Rousseau and Voltaire, Plato and Aristotle, Haeckel and Spencer, Marx and Tolstoi, Ruskin and Comte, and other European thinkers, if you wish to understand life and its problems. India has hundreds of really sincere and aspiring young men and women, who are free from all taint of greed and worldliness, but they are altogether useless for any purpose that one may appreciate. They have established monasteries in remote, nooks in the mountains in order to realize the Brahman.
We keep moving in the old rut; we edit and re-edit the old books instead of translating the classics of European social thought. Indian pundits and graduates seem to suffer from a kind of mania for what is effete and antiquated. Thus an institution, established by progressive men, aims at leading our youths through Sanskrit grammar to the Vedas via the Six Darshanas! What a false move in the quest for wisdom!
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