Autobiography of Ram Prasad Bismil #2

I am posting the translation Hutatma Ram Prasad Bismil‘s Autobiography. He was a revolutionary in Indian Freedom Movement. Ram Prasad Bismil was a key member of revolutionary movement and an accused in Kakori conspiracy case. This is the second part. Bismil’s Autobiography not only tells us about him, but also present intersting facts about prevalent socio-economic situation. I will post as and when I manage the translations. Please comment your suggestions. Follow the translations here.

Family life

Bismil's Autobiography

After marriage, father started service in the municipality at a monthly salary of fifteen rupees. He was not highly educated. Dad did not like this job. After a year or two, he quit the job and tried to start some independent business and started selling government stamps in the court. The greater part of his life was spent in this business. Being an ordinary householder, he ensured education of his children, provided for his family and began to be counted among the dignitaries of his neighbourhood all thanks to this same profession. He also used to lend money on interest. He had also purchased three bullock carts, which he used to rent out. Dad loved exercise. His body was very strong and shapely. He used to regularly wrestle in the nearby akhada.

A son was born to father, but he died. A year later, the author (Shri Ramprasad) took birth on Jyeshtha Shukla Paksha 11, Samvat 1954 Vikrami. With great efforts, by praying to Gods, and by taabiz, amulets and kavach etc., Dadaji tried to protect my body. Maybe some illness of children had entered our home. Therefore, after one or two months of taking birth, the state of my body also started becoming like that of the first child. Someone said that if a white rabbit be rolled on my body and left on the ground, the disease will be transferred to it and the rabbit will die instantly. They say it happened. As soon as a white rabbit was taken off my body and left on the ground, he roamed around a bit and died. I think it is also possible in some part, because there are three types of medicine – (1) divine (2) human, (3) vampiric. Vampiric medicine consists of use of the flesh or blood of many types of animals or birds. All this is written in many medical books. One of such of this is very curious and wonderful is that if a child is emaciated, if bats are brought in front of him then a two month old boy will catch the bat and suck its blood; and the disease will go away. It is a very useful medicine and a Mahatma has told this to me.

When I was seven years old, Dad himself taught me the Hindi alphabets and sent me to read Urdu in a Maktab run by Maulvi Sahab. I remember well that Dad used to go to akhada and easily beat a pehalwan around one and a half times bigger than him. , A few days later, Dad started friendship with a Bengali (Mr. Chatterjee). Mr. Chatterjee was the owner of an English drugstore and a drug addict. He used to consume half a chatank{60 grams} of charas{hashish} in one sitting{using chilam}. In his company, the father also learnt to smoke charas, due to which his body was completely destroyed. In ten years, the bones in his entire body starting showing. Chatterjee also started to drink. Therefore, his liver swelled and he died due to liver problems. After my convincing him a lot, Dad gave up the habit of smoking charas, but after many days.

After me five sisters and three brothers were born. Dadiji said a lot that girls should be killed as per the tradition of the family , but mother opposed it and protected the lives of the girls. This was the first time in my family that girls were allowed to live. But two of these sisters and two brothers died. One brother, who is ten years old at this time (1927 AD) and three sisters remain. Due to the efforts of mother, all three sisters were given good education and their marriages were occasions of great pomp. Before them, the girls of our clan were not married to anyone, because they were not kept alive.

Grandpa was a man of very simple nature. As long as he was alive, he continued the  business of selling money. He had a great passion for rearing cows. He himself used to go to Gwalier and buy big cows. The cows from there give a lot of milk. A good cow gives ten or fifteen seers of milk. These cows are also very obedient. There is no need to tie their legs while milking them, and can be milked without their calves nearby. As a child, I used to go and drink milk directly from the cow’s udder. Indeed the cows from there are worth watching.

Grandpa used to feed me a lot of milk. He was very fond of playing eighteen goti (Baghiya Bagha). During the evening, he used to go to the Shiva temple and do bhajan for two hours. He ascended to heaven at the age of about fifty five.

From childhood, Dad used to take good care of my education and used to beat me a lot for making petty mistakes. I still remember well that when I was learning to write the letters of Nagari, I could not write a letter. I tried a lot, but when Dad went to the court, I also went to play. Father came from the court and asked me to write the letter but I could not write. He came to know that I had gone to play, so he beat me so much with an iron yardstick that the yardstick was bent. I ran to Grandma to escape. I was very naughty and defiant from a small age despite my father’s strict rule. Once, I went into some orchard and pluck all the peaches from the peach trees. The gardener ran after me, but could not catch me. The gardener brought and showed all the peaches to the father. That day Dad beat me so much that I could not get up for two days. However, beating could not cure my naughtiness. Perhaps due to the frequent beatings of the childhood, this body became very hard and tolerant.


  1. My translation of Bismil’s autobiography is free to share with or without my name for non-commercial uses.
  2. This chapter in Bismil’s autobiography sheds some light on the beliefs present in that time, which might strike superstitious to modern reader.
  3. Through this chapter in Bismil’s autobiography, we also get a glimpse of gender discrimination in that period in India{infanticide.}
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