Article by Hussein Omar appearing in Chapati Mystery:
On the 15th of June, 1914, an obscure Egyptian newspaper based in Geneva printed a rousing call-to-arms:
To you, my fellow men and fellow Orientals, I address these few words of advice and appeal… The western races of the world… have made a religion of color. They fancy that all other races must serve them… Europe has subjugated India… she casts long eyes on other lands. She is slowly strangling Muslim Asia and Africa… Teach imperialist to stay at home and be happy, like the Swiss and the Scandinavious [sic], instead of roaming about the whole earth like wolves and hyenas… Read the history of European Nationalist movements in the 19th century. The Orient is destined to follow the same path in the twentieth century… Make common cause with all who are undermining and combating the British Empire.
Its author was a mysterious, and by all accounts brilliant, Indian student of Sanskrit at Oxford. He wore a dhoti and a homespun shirt that shocked his prim Edwardian professors. Just months before graduation, he bewildered them further by dropping out. He defended his decision in a letter condemning the English government and denouncing its presence in India as illegal. Disgusted by Europe, he moved to Algeria to live the life of an ascetic but soon found himself drawn to Waikiki Beach, in Hawaii. There, Japanese fishermen mistook him for a Buddhist sage, fed him, and awaited his teachings. Yet his mind was filled — though his disciples could not know it — not with the sermons of the Enlightened Prince, but with Kant, Hegel, and Marx.
The barefooted scholar’s name was Har Dayal. Sometime later, he reappeared in California, where he landed a teaching job at Stanford and joined an ashram of Sikh farmers, Berkeley students, and Hindu laborers. On a rickety press, he printed a small newspaper that would become a beacon not just for Indians, but for Persians, Turks, Russians, Egyptians and Irishmen the world over. He called it Ghadar, “Mutiny.” Its aims, inscribed on the page by an amateurish lithographer, were unapologetic:
Pay: death! ; Price: martyrdom! ; Pension: liberty! ; Field of battle: India!
On any day in 1914 or 1915, at the height of the newspaper’s circulation, you could pick up a copy, if you knew the right people, in Astoria or Panama, in Bombay, Marseilles, even Rangoon. As it tapped into a generation of radical wanderers, or one might call them, progressive pilgrims, Ghadar counted over six thousand recruits, and innumerable allies. They were drawn from a seemingly incoherent mix of “isms”: pan-Islamism, Irish republicanism and Bolshevism. Yet what bound them was a single mission: the destruction of the British Empire, and the capitalist world system that it so violently upheld. (The imperialists, the newspaper reported, ate both pig and cow!)More...