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Haj to Utopia

Haj to Utopia: How the Ghadar Movement Charted Global Radicalism and Attempted to Overthrow the British Empire

Maia Ramnath
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 332
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  • Book Info
    Haj to Utopia
    Book Description:

    InThe Haj to Utopia, Maia Ramnath tells the dramatic story of Ghadar, the Indian anticolonial movement that attempted overthrow of the British Empire. Founded by South Asian immigrants in California, Ghadar-which is translated as "mutiny"-quickly became a global presence in East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and East Africa. Ramnath brings this epic struggle to life as she traces Ghadar's origins to the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, its establishment of headquarters in Berkeley, California, and its fostering by anarchists in London, Paris, and Berlin. Linking Britain's declaration of war on Germany in 1914 to Ghadar's declaration of war on Britain, Ramnath vividly recounts how 8,000 rebels were deployed from around the world to take up the battle in Hindustan.The Haj to Utopiademonstrates how far-flung freedom fighters managed to articulate a radical new world order out of seemingly contradictory ideas.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95039-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    A week after Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, a clarion call appeared in theGhadar, an ardently revolutionary newspaper emanating from San Francisco to reach a readership of overseas Indians in East Asia, North and South America, Mesopotamia, and East Africa: “O Warriors! The opportunity you have been looking for has arrived.” The prodigal children of Hindustan were summoned to return home and fight, for the battle of liberation was at hand.

    The message of the paper’sAilan-e-Jang(Declaration of War) was stirring and simple:

    Arise, brave ones! Quickly . . . We want all brave...

  7. 1 “The Air of Freedom”: Ghadar in America
    (pp. 17-33)

    There had been a smattering of Indian sailors in New England ports since the late eighteenth century, and the odd celebrity religious philosopher since the late nineteenth, starting with Vivekananda’s star turn at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1892, which garnered a cult following of theosophists and countercultural practitioners among a northeastern elite. Meanwhile, the flow of indentured labor to the Caribean islands and the north coast of South America began in the 1830s, to fill the vacuum left by the abolition of the slave trade.¹ But the first South Asian immigrant population of significant size in mainland North America...

  8. 2 Our Name Is Our Work: The Syndicalist Ghadar
    (pp. 34-69)

    Almost immediately the Ghadar propaganda tours hit the fields. Kartar Singh Sarabha was particularly inspired in generating publicity, said Behari Lal, arranging meetings such as the one in Yolo that he describes here: “A good number” of farm workers gathered around, sitting on the ground around him and his kinsman. “They sat quietly and I said a few things. Then Har Dayal talked about the position of the Indian people in India and abroad, the need of independence.” Unresponsive silence met his finish. But after a few minutes, “one or two men came forward awkwardly, saluted Har Dayal with reverence...

  9. 3 Enemies of Enemies…: The Nationalist Ghadar
    (pp. 70-94)

    It is a truism for theorists of nationalism (and even for common observers of the world) that the rhetoric of nationalism, and the emotionality of patriotism, increase drastically during wartime. The Great War introduced a hitherto unimaginable scale of conflict as the great empires collided and began ripping each other apart. National identities took over for the duration, breaking up the ideal of international class solidarity to the bitter disappointment of many anarchists and socialists.

    For Indian and other anticolonial movements this effect of the war was even stronger. Nationalist rhetoric was the cornerstone of such movements in any case;...

  10. 4 …and Friends: The Republican Ghadar
    (pp. 95-122)

    Though the Germans were willing to fund schemes and initiatives, they lacked a nuanced understanding of the goals of their various benefactees. In an alliance formed of statist thinking, they were in starkest terms the enemies of the enemy. But the partisans of two other major national liberation struggles whom the Germans were supporting, running along timelines roughly parallel to India’s, were genuine friends. The Indians gravitated easily toward alliances with Irish republicans in the United States and Egyptian nationalists in France. What is most striking about these interactions is their strong sense of solidarity by analogy, identifying their brothers...

  11. 5 Toilers of the East: The Communist Ghadar
    (pp. 123-165)

    The results of the Great War, including the reconfiguration of the Ottoman, German, and Austro-Hungarian empires, combined with the Russian upheaval, drastically altered the conditions in which transnational anticolonial revolutionaries functioned at the global level and within both American and Indian domestic contexts. This is the moment at which it is generally said that Ghadar took a sharp left turn. However, it is perhaps more accurate to say that it forked, and that the radical wing, along with other sectors of the international Left, took a specifically Marxist-Leninist analytical and tactical turn. Prior to the war, that particular form of...

  12. 6 “Dear Muhammedan Brothers”: The Khilafatist Ghadar
    (pp. 166-193)

    We have been tracking the evolution of a unique organization that shifted in form in a dramatically changing global context while still remaining consistent in its agenda and principles of progressive radical democracy, political libertarianism, and economic egalitarianism. But a constant counterpoint throughout this period was another movement without which we cannot understand Ghadar’s ability to communicate and translate relevant concepts from one discourse to another, nor the internal diversity of rationalist and romanticist impulses, nationalist and socialist logics, that made this possible.

    The DCI’s report for December 1918 on the Indian National Committee in Berlin noted the text of...

  13. 7 Lal Salaams: Ghadar and the Bolshevik Muhajirin
    (pp. 194-232)

    A special appeal was sent out in December 1917, just after the Russian Revolution:

    Muslims of the East! Persians, Turks, Arabs, and Indians! All you whose lives and property, whose freedom and homelands were for centuries merchandise for trade by rapacious European plunderers! All you whose countries the robbers who began the war now want to divide among themselves! . . .

    Lose no time in throwing off the ancient oppressors of your homelands. Permit them no longer to plunder your native lands. You yourselves must be the masters in your own land. You yourselves must build your life as...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 233-238)

    The arc of Ghadar’s narrative paused for breath but did not stop at the threshold of the 1930s, with the Meerut and Lahore Conspiracy cases, the deaths of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev, and a new round of struggle in the Chittagong Armoury raids and the Civil Disobedience movement. Although Ghadar-linked activists were doing their work through other names and formations, even in 1931 British intelligence issued an alert that rehearsed a pattern that had remained remarkably consistent for fifteen years: vague warnings were sent out that plans were afoot for a Russian-sponsored invasion of Punjab from the northwest, timed...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 239-302)
    (pp. 303-312)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 313-327)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 328-328)