Champakaraman Pillai gathered all forces in Europe fighting for the independence of Bharat and also gave a call to the Indian soldiers in the British Indian Army to revolt against the Britishers. Today is his death anniversay.
Before 1947, many valiant young men and women sacrificed their lives so our beloved country may gain freedom. Everybody knows the names of the well known freedom fighters and revolutionaries. But there were many, some of them specially from the south, that are not so well known to all. This is a story, to bring forth the heroic deeds under daunting circumstances , of one such valiant young man, Shree Champakaraman Pillai to free Bharatmata.
Champakaraman was born (15 September 1891) in a middle class Tamil family in Thiruvananthapuram (presently in Kerala). His father worked in the police department in the erstwhile Travancore kingdom. While he was undergoing school education, the first partition of Bengal took place. The movement of patronage of Swadeshi and boycott of everything foreign swept the whole country. This atmosphere of patriotism affected the young Champakraman deeply & permanently.
He joined the many activities that were happening around him concerning this movement, giving very fiery speeches in many places and was noticed by the police department very early. Unfortunately his both parents died suddenly around this time leaving him an orphan. Also there was an English missionary, Sir Walter Strickland, (who incidentally was a leader of a secret ‘Indian National Party’ that supported the Indian freedom movement) who noticed this young boy and took him with himself to England.
As Sir Strickland’s personal position in England became unstable, he sent Champakaraman first to Italy and then to Zurich, Switzerland. He attended a technical institute and obtained a diploma in Engineering. In June, 1912 he established the ‘International Pro- India Committee’ in Switzerland and also became its President. To popularise the revolutionary independence movement, he started the ‘Pro. India’ magazine. He also mastered two languages, French and German. Around this time, some expatriate Indians in Germany like Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, Bhupendranath Dutta, A. Raman Pillai, Taraknath Das, Maulavi Barkatullah, Chandrakant Chakravarty, M. Prabhakar, Birendra Sarkar, and Heramba Lal Gupta had formed the “Indian Independence Committee”.
Champakaraman merged his ‘Intl. Pro India Committee’ in the “Indian Independence Committee”. His knowledge of various languages came handy in coordinating the Indian revolutionary activities on the European mainland.
When the First World War started, Champakraman joined the German navy and was appointed on a German light cruiser “Emden”. It was his ambition to attack the British by using a navy vessel!! He came to Chennai in a disguise and collected secret information about the oil depots, explosive depots and the naval base of British navy there. On the basis of this information a German light cruiser “Emden” had attacked the British naval base in Chennai on 24th September 1914 and oil tanks there.
He also gave a call to the Indian soldiers in the British Indian Army to revolt against the Britishers. Finally Germany lost the World War One. Champakraman ji stayed in Germany. When Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose came to Germany, Champakraman met him and explained his war strategy and planning to him.
He was instrumental in forming the first temporary Government in Exile of Bharat in Kabul, Afghanistan, with Raja Mahendrapratap Singh of Vrindawan as President, Barkatullah as Prime Minister and he himself, Champakaraman as Videsh Mantri. British Government had announced a bounty of 1 lakh pounds on Champakaraman’s head, to bring him dead or alive. Many spies were sent repeatedly to kill him.
He married a Bengali girl by the name Laxmi and settled in Germany. But shortly after his marriage, his health deteriorated. He died on 16th May, 1934 at the age of only 43. Many suspect that he was poisoned. His wife Smt. Laxmi ji brought his ‘Asthi Kalash’ on the British naval ship H.M.S. Achilles very respectfully and handed it over to Flag Officer Shri S.N. Nanda at Gateway of India on 12th September 1966. It was immersed at Kanyakumari later.
Thus in a fantastic way, the wish of Champakramnji to come to Bharat on a Naval ship was fulfilled 32 years after his death!!! Many tributes to this great revolutionary.