Chandershekhar Azad was born on 23rd July 1906 in Bhavra village of Jhabua district in present day Madhya Pradesh. He was born to mother Jagrani Devi and father Sita Ram Tiwari in a hut. His father Sita Ram Tiwari had migrated from Badraka village in Unnao district near Kanpur. His elder son Shukdev was born in Badraka. Parents had five children but only Chandershekhar Azad survived.
Azad had some elementary education in village,before going to Bombay at the age of 12-13 years, where he did some menial jobs. He went to Benaras and got enrolled in Sanskrit school. Here under the influence of non cooperation movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921, he took part in the movement and got 15 lashes on his back,shouting every time 'Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai'. He was badly bleeding after the punishment,but did not accept medication in jail and prefered being taken care of by some freedom fighter. After Gandhi withdrew the non cooperation movement as a fall out of Chauri Chaura incident on 4th February 1922,Azad got disillusioned by Gandhi and Congress movement. As Shachindernath Sanyal was trying to regroup revolutionary movement,Azad joined Hindustan Republican Army(HRA) along with many other young men like Ram Prasad Bismil,Ashfaquallah,Roshan Singh,Rajender Lahiri,Bhagat Singh etc. In Kakori rail dacoity on 9th August 1925, Azad and Kundan lal could not be arrested,whereas Bismil-Ashfaq-Roshan-Rajinder were hanged on 17th and 19th December in different jails of U.P.
In 1928,Bhagat Singh,Azad and many others regrouped in Ferozeshah Kotla grounds of Delhi on 8&9th September and rechristened their organisation as Hindustan Socialist Republican Army(HSRA) and it political wing as HRS Association.Chandershekhar Azad with the name of Balraj was appointed commander-in-chief of the armed wing and Bhagat Singh became the ideologue of political wing. They wanted to make mass organisations of students,youth and workers,but Lala Lajpat Rai's death at the hands of cruel British police lathi charge, made HSRA pledge to take revenge for this 'national insult'. Accordingly Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev killed police officer Saundres on 17th december 1928 at Lahore in front of SSP office. Azad supervised the whole operation and killed sub inspector Chanan Singh after repeated warnings, as he tried to follow and catch Bhagat Singh and Rajguru.
Later when organisation decided to send Bhagat Singh to throw bomb in Central Assembly Delhi on 8th April 1929, against the wishes of Azad, he saw to take care of all aspects of this act as well. Later HSRA planned to rescue Bhagat Singh from jail,but the plan was abandoned due to death of Bhagwati Charn Vohra on 28th May 1930 at Ravi Banks Lahore during bomb experiment.
Chandershekhar Azad remained active in the organisation,but on 27th February 1931 at Alfred Park Allahabad ,he was encircled by British police allegedly at the deception of someone in the group, named later as Vir Bhadar Tiwari. Sukhdev Raj with him at that time.Encounter took place around 9.a.m.Azad made Sukhdev Raj flee and faced the police with his mouser till the end,wounding many British officers. Even after firing stopped,British police was scared to go near his body. News spread in Allahabad and people gathered in large numbers. Police tried to cremate the body in hurry,but people foiled their attempt. Senior leaders like Kamla Nehru, wife of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Padamkant Malviya, nephew of Madan Mohan Malviya and editor of 'Abhyudue', joined the funeral procession. Shachindernath Sanyal's wife made a passionate speech exhortin people to take with them the ashes of Azad's cremated body as people in Calcutta did at Khudi Ram Bose's cremation in 1908. People followed her advice and nothing survived of the ashes.
Azad used to go to Pt. Nehru's house in Allahabad and Pt. Moti Lal Nehru, father of Jawaharlal was more sympathetic to them.Moti lal nehru died on 6th February 1931. Jawaharlal nehru had given money to Azad for sending Yashpal and Surender Pandey to Moscow for the study of Socialist thought,which did not materialise after his martyrdom.Though Azad was not intellectual like Bhagat Singh,but he was convinced wit the ideas of Socialis. He has listened 'Communist Manifesto' from Shiv Verma in its Hindi rendering and was impressed with it.
Azad was very close to Bhagat Singh and both were like Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Giap combination of Vietnam or Castro-Che Guvera combination of Cuba or even Mao-Chu Teh combination in China. Had their revolutionary movement grown and succeeded in India, another combinatio would have been created. My salute to the memory of one of the finest, most honest,brave and sincere revolutionaries of India!
Azad's widowed mother lived in her village,without believing that Azad has been martyred. Jagrani Devi was brought to Jhansi by two of Azad's best disciples-Bhagwan Das Mahour and Sadashiv Malapurkar in 1948, only then she came to terms with Azad's martyrdom. She died in March 1951 and was shown fire by Sadashiv Malapurkar, revolutionary comrade of Azad. Bhagwan Das Mahour was married to Master Rudra Narayan's daughter, at whose house Azad used to spend long time in Jhansi.