[Answered] Discuss how art and literature influenced India’s freedom struggle?


Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Discuss how freedom fighter’s used art and literature in India’s freedom struggle.

Conclusion. Way forward.


Art and literature, played an important role in India’s freedom struggle. Both art and literature acted as a tool in India’s freedom struggle against colonialism. As part of the freedom movement, many indigenous industries and enterprises were set up. Indian art and literature flourished, and soon became a source of national pride. For example, Abanindranath Tagore through his paintings helped raise the consciousness of many. Through various journals, newspapers like Harijan freedom fighters like Gandhiji, Rabindranath Tagore raised important issues on the national platform.


Role of art and literature in India’s freedom struggle:

  1. Evoking emotions: Art helped nationalist in their struggle by evoking emotions related to oppression or kind of injustice to people that they had been facing for a long time. It helped to increase the sensitivity among elite and bourgeoisie class towards the suffering of the common man by depicting their poor living condition and atrocities.
  2. Raising nationalist sentiments: The nationalistic sentiment replaced what was earlier widely dominated by the portraits and songs or bhajans based on gods and goddesses only. It influenced people through painting battle scenes between Indian and British soldiers and portraying brutalities, to people singing and writing nationalistic poetries, plays, and stories. Fiction and poetry was used for a patriotic purpose and to create a nationalist discourse.
  3. Overcoming linguistic barriers: Indian art helped in overcoming linguistic differences across the country in the form of visual and performing art. Further, nationalist literature was in the local language that helped many common people to take part in India’s freedom struggle.
  4. Spreading awareness: Writers and poets such as Rabindranath Tagore, Josh Malihabadi, Muhammad Iqbal, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Mohammad Ali Jouhar, and Kazi Nazrul Islam used literature, poetry and speech as a tool to spread awareness against the atrocities by British on Indians and to provoke the thought of freedom to encourage people to fight for the country.
  5. Women participation: Women leaders like Begum Rokeya and Sarojini Naidu promoted the emancipation of Indian women and to encourage their participation in national politics. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Devi Chaudharani, became an inspiration to women to take up the cause of independence. In this novel, he made a woman the protagonist and leader of the struggle. Anandamath also featured a strong woman character, and in both books, while women do take up arms, they fight while embodying the values of love.
  6. Revival of cultural identities: When the Swadeshi movement started gaining momentum, Indian artists attempted to revive their cultural identities which were suppressed by the British. This led to the creation of the Bengal School of Art, led by the reworked Indian styles with a focus on nationalism of Abanindranath Tagore. An example of this is the painting of ‘The Passing of Shah Jahan’ by Abanindranath Tagore which evoked the recent past of Indian history which was being seen to be glorious. Many other artists like Jamini Roy and later SH Raza took inspiration from folk traditions.
  7. A tool of propaganda: Literature played an important role and was used as a tool of propaganda. Newspapers like Bande MataramJungantar Patrika, and Harijansought to make Indian citizens not only socially and politically aware but also unite them for one common cause. Pamphlets written and distributed across India provided critical information and served as propaganda against the British.
  8. Spread patriotic feelings: Art and literature was used to spread the message of patriotism and expose atrocities of British. In Anandamath, set during the famine in Bengal, Chattopadhyay highlighted various patriotic acts of and sacrifices made by his characters, ordinary people who left their homes and families to fight against subjection, and in service of the Mother. National song, Bande Mataram, was first published as a poem in this novel as the rallying cry of the characters who used it to give themselves courage and to urge people to fight against the British.


Thus, art and literature played an immense role in India’s freedom struggle. It gave birth to many nationalist artists who tried to influence public psyche through their work. It not only led to a silent criticism of colonial atrocities but also acted as a force to unite mass against colonial forces.


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