History is often narrated as sagas of kings and queens, legends of battles and wars, or chronicles of art and architecture. But history is more than that. It is the story of ordinary people; their food and language, their thoughts and beliefs, their livelihood and culture. Tales of sweepers and sculptors, robbers and merchants, sailors and saint-why, even pirates!
In Of Revolutionaries and Bravehearts, Mallika Ravikumar pens eight historical stories that will change the way you look at history and give you an entirely new perspective on what it means, and what it takes to be courageous, for all of history is built by someone who displayed truly incredible grit and courage, even if their determination is not always recognized as courage.
Read on to find out some of the most important lessons on courage, taught to us by the ‘revolutionaries and bravehearts of Mallika Ravikumar’s insightful and thrilling book.
- It takes extraordinary courage to challenge what has always been presented as the truth, but it is those very insidious ‘truths’ that need to be challenged.
Aruna closed her eyes and sang along. She did not fear climbing the tallest trees. She did not fear jumping into the deepest wells. She would not fear crooked truths!
- The most important form of courage to cultivate is to raise your voice against injustice, particularly an injustice that does not affect you directly
“Please Guruji, please!” a chant of pleas arose from all around. Sane Guruji belonged to the priestly class. Yet, he felt the bite of injustice suffered by the untouchables. It had been nine days since he’d eaten. Could he give up now?
- Courage, even on the battlefield manifests in different ways not just in bravado or military prowess, but in compassion, empathy and an almost invisible helping hand.
Ignoring his condition, Sukha continued to serve. In his own silent way, he tried also to comfort those in pain, offering them a patient ear, a gentle nod in their most trying moments. Nobody noticed him. Nobody knew his name. After all, he was just the sweeper.
- Sometimes the basis of courage is recognizing one’s individual responsibility to make a change even if it appears to be just a drop in the ocean.
This is not child’s play!” her grandfather said calmly, putting his hand on the young girl’s shoulders. “The nation’s problems cannot be sorted out by you!” “Then who?” Kanakalata shot back. “If each of us thinks so, how can anything change?
- There is courage indeed in non-violent and peaceful protest, as evident in the actions of the teenaged Kanaklata Barua and her young colleagues at the Mrityu Bahini who gave up their lives to hoist the flag during India’s freedom struggle.
Each of the young girls went down with the flag held high. Passing it on to the next in line before a bullet robbed them of their lives. Not one of them fought back. Not one of them turned on the police, although they were many more in number. Not one of the let out an abusive word or cry or curse. Like trained soldiers, they followed their oath and sacrificed themselves for what they held so dear.
- Courage is just as evident in the act of creation, though creation in itself rarely credit for the bravery and determination that is often required to create a work of art that will last the test time of time, in the most tumultuous of times.
‘Vidyadhara, one day, I will be gone and so will this empire,’ Mahendra Varman had said to him once many years ago. ‘But our legacy in stone will outlive us all. Generations to come will see these beautifully sculpted figures on the shores of Mamallapuram and remember that a king once walked the land who cared more for art than war.’
Sometime the greatest and most underrated courage is that displayed in the quotidian lives of ordinary people such as traders, merchants and craftspeople who often battle extraordinary odds to simply live productive lives and who have a role to play in making history in their own little way.
Weeks together at sea. Months away from home. Years upon years of hard work. Overcoming storms. Escaping pirates. Battling all odds, a famine-stricken young boy had emerged out of the dead weight of destiny to claim a decent life for himself.