Motivational Lessons from the Lives of Great Indian Leaders

This Republic Day, let’s read anecdotes from the lives of some great Indian leaders. They will inspire you and your child to uphold principles in the face of adversity.

By Arun Sharma

Motivational Lessons from the Lives of Great Indian Leaders

The movement for India’s independence lasted almost a hundred years. Although it attracted a majority of the Indian population, only a handful of them rose to lead the struggle. But, what made them rise above the rest?

On the occasion of Republic Day, let us look at some significant incidents from the lives of some of the great leaders of our freedom movement. While these speak volumes about their strength, resolve and character, it would also help us understand the fundamental philosophy each of them followed throughout their life. Imbibing the essence of what guided these great men can set us on the path to becoming better human beings.

Father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi

When Gandhiji was a student, one day, the Inspector of Schools, Mr Giles, came to visit his school. To test how much the students knew, he asked them to write down the spellings of a few words that he dictated. After the test was over, Gandhiji’s teacher noticed that he had incorrectly spelt the word ‘kettle’ as ‘ketle’. As the inspector was busy checking what one of the students had written, the teacher signalled to Gandhiji to correct the spelling by looking at what the student sitting beside him had written. But, Gandhiji refused to do it.

All his life, Gandhiji followed the principle, ‘Honesty is the best policy’.

Lesson for your child: Be honest always

Netaji – Subhash Chandra Bose

Netaji belonged to a well-to-do family. His father, Janakinath Bose, was a successful lawyer who wanted Netaji to join the prestigious ICS (Indian Civil Service). So, he sent Netaji to England to appear in the ICS examination. Netaji took the exams and secured the fourth position. However, he decided against pursuing a career as an ICS officer, as he did not want to serve the British who were forcefully occupying India. He returned to India to join the freedom movement and fight against the British occupation.

Netaji always stood up against unfairness and tyranny. In his words, “Remember that the greatest crime is to compromise with injustice and wrong.”

Lesson for your child: Be fair and just

Iron Man Of India – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born in the village of Karamsad. He and his friends used to walk to Petlad to attend N K High School, which was at a distance of almost 15 km. On the road, while walking to school, Sardar Patel found a big stone lying in their path. While the rest of his friends did not pay any attention and moved ahead, Sardar Patel stayed back. Concerned about how much inconvenience the stone would cause those travelling on that road, he decided to remove it. With no one around to help him, he persevered alone by first digging around the stone and then moving it out of the way.

After India gained independence, Sardar Patel worked tirelessly to merge the 560 odd princely states into the union of India. He always followed the dictum, ‘Idleness is the greatest enemy of man.’

Lesson for your child: Keep persevering

Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

Who doesn’t know about the numerous hardships Babasaheb faced in his life? Yet, he persisted with educating himself and won a scholarship from the Maharaja of Baroda to study in the Columbia University, New York. He spent most of his time in the library, from 8 o’clock in the morning to 5 o’clock in the evening, reading a number of books. He retained the habit of reading throughout his life.

Very early in his life Babasaheb understood the fact that ‘Education is the key to success’.

Lesson for your child: Be devoted to your studies

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Lokmanya Tilak was a very bright student and a brave human being. One day, when the teacher entered the classroom after the recess was over, he found groundnut shells strewn on the floor. This made him angry. He turned towards the children and asked the culprit to stand up. But, no student spoke or stood up. This made the teacher angrier and he decided to hit each student in the hand twice with a cane. When it was Lokmanya Tilak’s turn to hold out his hand, he refused saying that since he did not do it, he won’t receive the punishment.

Lokmanya Tilak was known for his upright nature. He believed in the principle that 'one shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and speak up for oneself'.

Lesson for your child: Stand up for what is right

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