top of page

Revolutionary Nationalism


The ultimate object of the revolutionaries is not terrorism but revolution and the purpose of the revolution is to install a national government.” - Subhash Chandra Bose

The beginning of revolutionary nationalism may be dated to the end of the nineteenth century, which witnessed the emergence of secret societies in numerous regions of India, including Maharashtra, Bengal, etc., such as Mitra Mela by Vinayak and Ganesh Savarkar in Nasik (1899). Revolutionary nationalism was a novel strategy to combat the authoritarian British Raj through individual heroism, and at times it posed a powerful threat to the Raj.

Significant events of the revolution occurred mostly in Bengal, Maharashtra, and Punjab as a result of being the centre of revolutionary activity. This phase preached the notion of self-sacrifice in the service of the nation and encouraged the use of violent measures because they believed that their courageous efforts would liberate the nation from British tyranny.

Means and Methods

The revolutionary movement was largely characterised by violent means and activities. On the other hand, the role of the media was appropriately acknowledged. Revolutionaries were aware of the power of media and therefore utilised it as a platform and persuasive instrument to propagate the ideology of revolutionary nationalism and urge the use of violence to attain the ultimate goal of national freedom. Sandhya and Yugantar in Bengal, Kal in Maharashtra, and Bharat Mata in Punjab were the well-known magazines that proved to be influential during this time period.


  • Kakori Conspiracy was a train robbery

  • The killing of John Saunders to seek revenge

  • Central Assembly Bombing Case

  • Chittagong Armoury Raid


Nationalism among youth: The 'economic exploitation' of Indians by the British government and the Partition of Bengal were the most important factors that contributed to the expansion of nationalism among the masses.

Failure of the Moderate and Extremist Congress: After the demise of national militancy, the younger group was not prepared to recede. Fallout of Swadeshi and Boycott Movement was the immediate reason.

The sudden calling off of Non cooperation Movement left the youth disillusioned who were full of enthusiasm. After Gandhi Ji called off the mass movement that was slowly taking shape , these younger factions held on to another path of mean that was based on heroism and violence.

The failure of leadership to harness the revolutionary forces of the youth.

The government's repression left the demonstrators without any nonviolent options.

Inspired by the heroic individual actions of Irish nationalists or Russian nihilists.

The new nationalists were lured by the ideological attractiveness of the following ideas: freedom by revolution, heroic action, supreme sacrifice, assassinating unpopular British officials, striking fear in the hearts of rulers, and inciting the populace to forcibly evict the British.

Activities and Impact

The era of revolutionary terrorism began, and revolutionary secret societies soon sprang up across the nation. The Anusilan Samiti, the most renowned and long-lasting secret organisation, established revolutionary centres throughout India from its headquarters in Calcutta. Their operations included the assassination of oppressive officials, traitors, and informants, as well as dacoities to obtain funds for the procurement of weaponry and other supplies.

It had an effect on the approach of the Congress to incorporate youngsters in the short-term rural reconstruction initiative. Their sacrifices stirred the emotions of the Indian people and aided in the formation of a national identity, which contributed significantly to India's independence.

It was unable to rally the masses. In actuality, it had no support among the populace. They believed in personal valour.

This movement was unsuccessful in achieving its goal of independence. With the assassination of Chandrasekhar Azad in a public park in Allahabad in February 1931, the revolutionary movement in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar effectively came to an end. Surya Sen's death signified the end of terrorist activity in Bengal. The revolutionaries imprisoned in Andaman and in jails initiated a process of reevaluation. A significant number of revolutionaries adopted Marxism.


Despite garnering popularity and a devoted following, the revolutionary forces were unable to accomplish their goal of liberating India from British rule. This was due to the absence of a centralised, pan-Indian body capable of coordinating the efforts;

These organisations appealed to the youth who had endured the hostility of British rule, but there was little mass support in the rural belt; Germany, which had pledged weapons and funding to be used against Britain, was unable to deliver.

The US entry and subsequent dominance in the world war demoralised Germany and the allies from aiding the Indian cause.

Montagu's package of self-governance for the Indians deflated the revolutionary activists.

The congress party and other upper middle class politicians and leaders always disapproved of the methods of these movements; and Gandhi's entry into the political scene of India marked a revolution in the form of satyagraha, which contributed to India's independence.


Initially, their goal was limited to achieving independence from colonial domination. Later, it also adopted the concept of a new socialist society and fought vigorously against the exploitative system. It also promoted socialism and communism with the intention of adopting the concept of equitable access to natural resources for all citizens. It also highlighted Hindu-Muslim unity. Though the revolutionary movement failed, it contributed significantly to the establishment of Indian nationalism. The revolutionaries' sacrifices and martyrdom were not in vain. It was popular with the masses. Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, surya Sen, and Rajguru, among others, became household names in India and incited patriotism among the populace.


bottom of page