To some, history and literary culture are strange bedfellows. This book on Bhagat Singh is written from the viewpoint of vernacular Punjabi culture and tries to tread on the marginalized path of vernacular culture as a methodology of a historian's craft. The book seeks to understand the manner in which Punjabis constructed the image of Bhagat Singh in their literature. Bhagat Singh's revolutionary life, culminating in his martyrdom, had an enormous impact on the Punjabis, who in their diverse genres of folklore, catch-songs, marriage songs, couplets and proverbs eulogized him in multiple contexts. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bhagat Singh caught the imagination of contemporary poets who had begun to view him as a martyr even before his execution. Bhagat Singh facilitates an 'interaction' among the Punjabis despite the boundaries fabricated by colonial politics. An exploration into the symbiosis of Punjabi culture and Bhagat Singh is meaningful because this exercise underscores the syncretic cultural way in which the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh Punjabis recognize each other and maintain their common cultural space.
Bhagat Singh continues to be a symbol of revolution and martyrdom.
Ishwar Dayal Gaur teaches History at Panjab University, Chandigarh.