Lala Hardayal is a renowned freedom fighter and a great scholar of India. He dedicated his whole life to the sacred cause of the motherland. It is he who is one of the founder members of Gadar party.
Lala Hardayal was so revolutionary that he left his career of civil services to serve the nation. He was a great patriot who joined Indian freedom movement to oppose British rule in India. He visited several countries to spread the patriotic feelings among the Indians residing in foreign countries.
Lalaji was inspired by many legendary Indian revolutionary figures. Among them Shyamji Krishna Varma, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Bhikhaji Cama and some others were his ideals. He was an ardent follower of Arya Samaj. Lalaji was influenced by Mazzini, Marx and Mikhail Bakunin in his writing.
Lala Hardayal was born in a Punjabi family on October 14, 1884 in Delhi. Bholi Rani was his mother. The name of his father was Gauri Dayal Mathur. Mr. Mathur was an employee in the District Court. Lalaji was married to a cultured girl named Sundar Rani.
Lala Hardayal was a very intelligent student from the very beginning. He studied at the Cambridge Mission School. He did his graduation from St. Stephen College, Delhi. He completed his Post Graduation from Punjab University. He got two scholarships of Oxford University for his higher studies in 1905. Lala Hardayal received his doctoral degree from London University in 1930.
In 1907 Lala Hardayal gave up his scholarships. In the same year, he published a letter in ‘The Indian Sociologist’ against British rule in India. Due to this he was put under police surveillance. He came to India in 1908 to inspire his countrymen against imperialism. In India he started writing harsh articles against the British rule in the leading newspapers. But the government became hard against him and decided to impose ban upon his writing. That’s why he soon returned back to Europe. He visited several countries like France and Germany to spread his political philosophy against colonialism.
In 1909 Lala Hardayal went to Paris and became editor of Vande Mataram. But very soon he moved to Algeria. After that he went to Martinique and started living an ascetic life. He started eating only boiled grain and vegetables, sleeping on the earth and meditating in a lonely place. There he came in contact with Bhai Parmanand, an Arya samaji. He followed his suggestions and went to the USA to propagate the ancient culture of India.
Lala moved to the USA in 1911. There he became involved in industrial unionism. He founded the Bakunin Institute of California in Oakland and he called it 'the first monastery of anarchism'. Lala had to resign from the post of Professor at Stanford University due to his involvement in the anarchist movement. In California, Lala Hardayal established intimacy with Indian American farmers and with the help of them he set up Guru Govind Singh Scholarship for Indian students.
The event of the attack on Lord Hardinge in India showed great impact upon him. He was so excited that without delay he visited Nalanda Club Hostel to address the Indian community. There he called upon the Indians to struggle hard for Indian independence.
In 1913, Lala Hardayal played a leading role in the formation of Gadar Party to organize Indians of the whole world against the British rule in India. In 1914, he was arrested by American government for his political activities. Fortunately, he was released on bail. Then he went to Berlin, Germany. He worked as Professor of Indian Philosophy in Sweden for ten years. In the late 1920s Lala Hardayal once again went to the USA and served as a professor of Sanskrit at the University of California, Berkeley.
‘Simple living and high thinking’ was the ideal of his life. When he went to Martinique, he started living a life of austerity. For some time he went to Honolulu in Hawaii. There he spent his time in meditation on Waikiki Beach. His simple living and intellectual insight inspired numerous Indians living in foreign countries to fight against British imperialism. A popular American scholar called him a great 'revolutionary, a Buddhist and a pacifist'. In the words of Swami Ram Tirth,’ Lala Hardayal was the greatest Hindu who ever came to America.
In the age of 54, this great soul left this material world on March 4, 1939 in Philadelphia, America. He was a real son of his motherland, India. Each and every Indian is proud of him. The history of India will never forget him and his contributions.