Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai was born in 1865 into an Aggarwal (trader) family. His birth took place at his maternal grand-parents home in a village called Dhudike in Ferozpur District while his mother was visiting there. His father, Munshi Radha Krishna Azad, a pious and learned man, was at the time receiving education at Normal School, Delhi after serving as a teacher for three years. Lalaji,s mother, Shrimati Gulab Devi, a strict religious lady, inculcated in her children strong morals values.

Lalaji received his education until his Entrance Examination in places where his father was posted as teacher. Lalaji joined the Government College at Lahore in 1880 to study Law. While in college he came in contact with patriots and future freedom fighters like Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt. The three became fast friends and joined the Arya Samaj founded by Swami Daya Nanda. Lalaji passed his Mukhtiarship (junior pleader) examination and started his legal practice in Jagraon. He passed his Vakilship Examination in Second Division from Government College in 1885. He started his practice in Rohtak but moved it to Hissar where some of his friends were also practicing the Law.

Lalaji,s early legal practice at Hissar was very successful. Besides practicing, Lalaji collected funds for the Daya Nand College, attended Arya Samaj functions and participated in Congress activities. He was elected to the Hissar municipality as a member and later as secretary. Lalaji shifted to Lahore in 1892.

Soon after settling in Lahore, the Arya Samaj suffered a vertical split into two factions, the College Party and the Gurukul Party. Lalaji supported the College Party which favored teaching English along with Sanskrit in schools while the Gurukul Party wanted the exclusion of English from the curriculum. The Arya Samaj managed to maintain its unity owing to the efforts of Lalaji and many other experienced leaders who realized that a split would hurt the nation. Lalaji started the Anglo-Sanskrit High School at Jullundur and assumed the responsibility of the Secretary of the Management Committee. He was an advocate of self- reliance and refused to take Government aid for the D.A.V College. Lalaji also became the General Secretary of the first Hindu orphanage established at Ferozepur by the Atya Samaj.

Lalaji provided immense service toward the famine relief efforts during the famines of 1897 and 1899. He mobilized D.A.V. college students and went to Bikaner and other areas of Rajasthan to rescue destitute children and bring them to Lahore. He believed that a nation that does not protect its own orphan children cannot command respect at the hands of other people. When people fleeing the famine reached Lahore, they spent their first night at Lalaji,s house. The Kangra district of Punjab suffered destruction in the earthquake of 1905. Lalaji was there once again, organizing relief for extricating people from the debris. In 1898, Lalaji curtailed his legal practice and vowed to devote all his energy for the nation.