(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
If I was the editor of London Times, god forbids, and had sought out my New Delhi correspondent Hugh Tomlinson in my cabin, it would cross my mind how he would make a living outside the News Building in London.
I am afraid I don’t know how good he is with his arms or legs, for as far as his mind is concerned, there is enough in his latest piece to suggest it’s in need of attention.
He has chosen to write about the proposed “Central Vista” in India’s Capital which would be at least six years in the making and would house India’s parliamentarians besides carving out a new residence for its prime minister.
Somehow, he has quoted £2.4 billion as the cost of new Central Vista which is nearly three times the proposed expenditure. I mean I distinctly remember the concerned Indian minister to have pegged the figure at £800 million. Who is Hugh’s source? I need to ask for he hasn’t bothered with his source in the piece. Not even “according to a tea-seller outside the ministry who refused to be named.” I know pen-pushers are grumpy on their salary; and pissed at any penny the government spends. But even lies need be palatable. You can’t describe the fly-in-your-tea as a new delicacy.
Then Hugh shouts out that the expense involves the one on Indian prime minister Mr Modi’s new residence. I mean it would only be ready after 2024 when Modi would’ve finished his second term. Who knows the people’s choice thereafter? Unless of course a bird has hummed the future in Hugh’s ears. And if indeed it’s a prediction, how would he approach Rahul Gandhi after dooming his prospects? Burning bridges from both ends, I say.
By now, I know figures are not Hugh’s strong points. To his eyes, India’s parliament is almost a century old. It’s actually seven years outside since it began functioning in 1927. As a Briton, he ought to remember that all it took was seven years of World War II to terminate the British Empire of centuries. It was enough to move the nerve centre of world from London to Washington.
Hugh, I would tell him, do work on your history. I mean you find the Parliament House most viewed structure after Taj Mahal. It can’t be that you haven’t been to Gateway of India. Or the magnificent view of Rashtrapati Bhavan from India Gate has escaped you. You also declare with flourish that the new Central Vista would “consign to history” the Parliament House. The latter in fact would only be turned into a museum.
A few visits to library—I mean not the one of our own in The Times which hides more than it reveals– would let you know that in today’s free world, words such as imperialism and slavery are cussed terms.
When this new city we call New Delhi came up, built by Herbert Baker and Edwin Lutyens, and which led to creation of the Parliament and the Viceroy’s House (Rashtrapati Bhavan) among others, India’s native leaders, later its founding fathers, viewed it as permanent edifice of colonialism. Nehru had mocked it as the “chief temple where the High Priest officiated” while Mahatma Gandhi is rumoured to have wanted to turn the Viceroy’s House into a hospital.
Baker was the disciple of arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Baker’s words “…People must raise themselves to liberty, it is a blessing that must be earned…” are still engraved outside New Delhi’s secretariats. This view was the guiding public face of colonialism, propounded by men such as John Ruskin which justified centuries of genocide and pillage by the British around the world. Lutyens had viewed the Taj Mahal, which Hugh so admires, as “small but very costly beer.” It can’t be that it has escaped Hugh’s attention the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were attacked in Portland recently . Today’s US is hell-bent on discarding racists and slavery-champions, what if they were its founding fathers.
Hugh clearly suffers from Hinduphobia. I squirmed in my seat at his words that the present move is “desecration of India’s heritage” amidst the growing fears that “Modi aims to sweep away India’s secular foundations and establish a Hindu theocracy.” I mean even by prejudicial yardstick of The Times, this was too far out.
For India to establish a Hindu theocracy, it would have to drive 200 Indian Muslims into Indian Ocean. It would have to deny voting rights to millions; dump periodic elections and burn up the Indian Constitution. Modi could perhaps all do this if he could transport a billion Hindus to some other planet which is habitable but has not a single other soul.
Who gave Hugh this idea? I hope not one among the 100 “historians” and “architects” who have written a letter to Delhi’s planners recently. How do you bring people into decision-making? By referendum? And keep the voters-in-favour waiting for four years. a la Brexit?
The official word to me seems pretty sound. The 500-odd member of parliaments (MPs) don’t have their own chambers to meet or attend a stream of visitors. Where do they handle secret documents that the MPs are required to read and refer? Where do they peer through volume of committees-related work? Is the present Parliament safe on hazards such as “fire” and “earthquake-resistant”? Does it have basic public facilities and ample parking? Do we want people to take call on such specialized matters? Don’t elections in democracy mean that the work of people has ended and the job of government has begun?
It is India’s money and India’s choice. They have every right to vision an India of tomorrow. If it feels the new Central Vista would lead to better coordination among parliamentarians, cabinet, the President and their attendant staff for efficient running of the country, who is me or Hugh to knit the dog’s hair?
The one thing I would grant Hugh is that he didn’t give the headline. Next in my chamber is the sub-editor who put “vanity scheme” in the headline. Who’s vanity? Modi’s? Where’s such a reference in the text?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
I conversed with Mahatma Gandhi in dreams last night. I was in heaven with a collection of his thoughts and words—“India Of My Dreams”—and spotted the Bapu in a corner spinning khadi wheel. He looked healthy, probably because the sinful Indian Express and The Hindu are barred from heavens. I touched his feet, squatted in front and opened the book which, truth to tell, pleased him. My subject was his views on Hindi language and I had bookmarked his specific utterances on the matter. I read on:
“I have the greatest faith in the Dravidians someday taking up Hindi study seriously. If an eighth of the industry that they put in mastering English were to be devoted to learning Hindi, instead of the rest of India, remaining a sealed book to them, they will be one with us as never before…The Dravidians being in a minority, national economy suggests that they should learn the common language of the rest of India than that the rest should learn Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malyalam in order to be able to converse with Dravidian India” (Young India 16-6-’20)
Bapu, do you realize the folly of your words? That how profitable it is for local forces to keep the rest of India a sealed book for its audience? Sure, the Commie rags play their part: They never mention that Adi Shankracharya was a Dravidian; that a host of CBSE schools which teach Hindi are run by DMK/AIDMK leaders. If I was to make your words known to them, your statutes or framed images would be blackened or put to fire.
“Little does anyone know that almost all the Tamils and the Telugus living in South Africa can carry on an intelligent conversation in Hindi.” Young India (16-6-’20).
Again Bapu, how does it matter? Even Latin is compulsory in schools in England. But this is whataboutery. The ground reality is, a famous actor (Kamal Haasan) promises burning fields in his state if Hindi was introduced in the curriculum.
“Bengal and Madras are the two provinces that are cut off from the rest of India for want of knowledge of Hindustani on their part. Bengal, because of its prejudice against learning any other language of India…” (Young India 2-2-’21)
Sure Bapu, Bengal and Madras remain cut off from rest of India to this day. Sure, Mamata Banerjee cries “Bengali pride” from rooftops. Sure, DMK leader Stalin (never mind he has a European and not a Dravidian name) has given a call for agitation against Hindi later this week. I only hope you were more discreet. Just imagine if Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to quote you on the subject?
“A knowledge of English opens up intercourse only with the comparatively few English-knowing Indians, whereas a possible knowledge of Hindustani enables us to hold intercourse with the largest number of our countrymen. (Young India 2-2’-21)
Bapu, they are doing well as it is. They pay income-tax for rest of India. It’s another matter most of it is recovered with interest from the Centre when Chennai drowns in flood once every two years. Most of its population reaps the benefit of Centre’s SC/ST schemes. Why bother?
“If we were not living in artificial conditions, the people living in the South will not consider the learning of Hindi as a strain on them, much less a superfluity…. If it is to be for and of the starving millions, of the illiterate millions, of the illiterate women, of the suppressed ‘untouchables’, Hindi is the only possible common language.” (Young India, 18-6-31)
Sorry Bapu, they do speak for starving millions and “untouchables” when the Elections are around. They also speak about illiteracy admittedly though only of Muslims. I am afraid it’s nothing less than “imposition” you are suggesting. All you would do is to produce South Indian versions of Nathuram Godse.
“The cry of “mother tongue in danger” is either ignorant or hypocritical. And where it is sincere it speaks little for the patriotism of those who will grudge our children an hour per day for Hindustani. We must break through the provincial crust if we are to reach the core of all- Indian nationalism. Is India one country and one national or countries and many nations.” (Harijan, 10-9-’38)
Bapu do you realize the monstrosity of your outreach? Do you realize you echo every syllable of BJP/RSS on nationalism? Who would now celebrate October 2 as your 150th birth anniversary in Dravidian India? How long do you think Congress would keep owning you up?
Bapu had long stopped spinning his wheels. He was staring me, long and hard. His spectacles had cracked. The poor goat of his had started bleating. He looked around—none of his favourites, Nehru or Azad, were in heaven. Sardar Patel was a neighbour but had long disowned him for betraying him with India’s prime ministership. The likes of Subhas Bose and Bhagat Singh were never enamoured of him. Gurudev Tagore had long turned sceptical of him. I felt sorry for the great man. The entire Congress party rode on his shoulders for close to a century. They mouthed platitudes on his every birth anniversary. Political leaders made a beeline for Rajghat on his death anniversary. His beaming face adorns nation’s currency. Yet they have shunned his ideology. Gandhi is not for defending; he is an ATM to encash for the dynasty.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Sanjeev Sanyal posted a twitter thread on Saturday where he implored discussions on the 21st Century issues rather than being mired in historical characters like Veer Savarkar, Bhimrao Ambedkar and Mohandas K. Gandhi.
Sanjeev Sanyal is much admired for his books, certainly among young readers, and that he is also an accomplished banker/economist, he has been sought out by the Indian government to roll out the roadmap (I know he loves maps) for the economy.
So what are the 21st Century issues? Howsoever we define them, I presume Sanyal certainly doesn’t have in mind the political/ideological issues which keep us grounded. When we need to fight water, food, health, pollution, population, jobs, education, terrorism etc on a warscale, when survival is at stake, how winning or losing debates are going to help?
But then how do we fight the 21st Century issues when water is dragged down to Narmada-Kaveri disputes; food to loan-waivers for farmers; pollution to Deepawali but not Bakrid; population to South feeding the teeming millions of BIMARU states, jobs to turf wars on data, education to midday meal scams and terrorism to human rights issue against “stone-pelters”?
The truth is Sanyal has a composite India in mind but there are 100s of India within the geographical combine. Everyone’s idea of India is different from others (Remember, the odes which were written for Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on the 50th year of independence in 1997? Would the same be feasible when India hits 75 in 2022?).
India is a political entity which has a different culture, tradition, rituals language, food, clothes, caste, colour,creed every 100 kilometres. These mini-Indias soon enough acquire a local leader who, in order to protect his turf, takes his captive audience on a trip—often fake–of its’ past glory, its heroes, and the injusticesits’ seminal breakthroughs. The sharper the distinction these leaders can draw for their constituents, better are the prospects of their longevity. That’s how Sikhs, who only saw themselves as protectors of Hindus till the 19th century—just count the numbers of temples Maharaja Ranjit Singh built–now talk of Khalistan.
Our founding fathers knew of these issues. They drew a brilliant Constitution. They recognized India could only function as a federal entity. States, but for a few matters, are almost autonomous. Everyone is allowed to have a voice; stifling it would be the end of India we know. So 100s of India are embedded in our Constitution.
Now Sanyal, how do we solve this dichotomy? The first one of course is education. Education brings aspirations, aspirations in turn progress. A critical mind is better suited to break the matrix of false history and false narrative spun by our politicians and media, clearly hand in gloves. But then how do we get this unbiased education when our schools which prepare us for our jobs, won’t allow it? When “Veer” Savarkar is demonized; mentioning Godse is a slide to oblivion? Why should we look for Savarkar when chanting Nehru is more practical?
It’s clear we made mistakes in 1947. The foremost was to lock our heritage in a closet. To hug ideas, policies and a foreign language which were alien to our ethos. To subdue Hindus so that Muslims remain appeased. It was only a matter of time before a majority makes its presence felt in a room, as it always does. How long it would always be about Ghazni and Ghouri; Babar and Aurangzeb; and not about Brahmagupta and Varahamihira; Sushruta and Bhaskaracharya? How long Vijaynagar empire would remain eclipsed by Mughal dynasty?
The inherent culture asserts. And the resultant turmoil keeps Sanyal exasperated.
Sanyal is not alone in knowing the real dangers India has ahead. But like Sanyal, they too can’t set a narrative. When our front pages are only reserved for politicians, what hope people have? When our school textbooks are only an outreach for our “Deep State”, how does India connect with its soul?
It’s clear out institutions are failing us. Judiciary, bureaucracy, Media, Election Commission, Enforcement agencies etc. Or why a country as corrupt as India has so few persecutions? Who knows if India of old, god forbids, returns with vengeance after Modi?
So Godse and Savarkar in a way are good when narratives other than Gandhi-Nehru are not permissible. Even if Sanyal and I don’t want it, people with their buttons on social media would press. And they must too—we have seen how RSS reluctance to take on Left-Liberal’s quest for our minds has allowed the latter a suffocating hold.
It’s for those who are officially tasked about water, food, health, education etc—policy-makers like Sanyal himself and bureaucrats—who should keep India ahead of selves. Let India rumble in a cacophony. For haven’t we paid enough price for our silence?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s attempt to create the bogey of Hindu terrorism and dragging Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh into it is nothing new. In his classic book, The Men Who Killed Gandhi, celebrated writer Manohar Malgonkar, mentions how Veer Savarkar—who in the author’s words was to Hindu Mahasabha what Gandhi was to Congress—was wrongly implicated in the Gandhi murder trial in 1948-49. Malgonkar dropped more than a hint that it was the work of government of the day, or in other words Congress.
(Below are excerpts from the book. The texts in italics are my own; the one in bold letters are the exact page numbers and quotes in the book:)
From page 281-285:
Why were the police so anxious to implicate Savarkar?
Was it merely that, having failed in their proper function to arrest Nathuram before he killed Gandhi, they were making a bid to save face by raising the bogey of some sensational plot which involved a big leader who, providentially happened to be in bad odour with the government of the day?
Or was the government itself, or some powerful group in it, using the police agency to destroy a rival political organization or at least to destroy a fiercely uncompromising opposition stalwart?
Whatever it was, Savarkar himself was so conscious of these currents, so convinced that the authorities were determined to take him to court as an accomplice of Nathuram, that when five days after Gandhi’s murder, a police party entered his house he went forward to meet it and asked: “So you’ve come to arrest me for Gandhi’s murder?”
Savarkar being made an accused in the Gandhi murder trial may well have been an act of political vendetta. Of course Badge (Digambar Badge, a weapon supplier and conspirator who turned into a police approver)…was most insistent to me (the author) that he had been forced to tell lies, and that his pardon and future stipend by the police department in Bombay depended upon his backing the official version of the case and in particular that, he never saw Savarkar talking to (Narayan) Apte, and never heard him telling them: “Yeshaswai houn ya (Earn glory).”
Many years later on 16 June, 1983, the Poona newspaper Kal edited by S.R. Date, published a report on the subject, which was later reprinted in a volume published by the Savarkar Memorial Committee on February 16, 1989. I quote excerpts from it. It purports to repeat something that Savarkar’s counsel at the trial, L.B (Annasahen) Bhopatkar, a Poona lawyer, had revealed to his friends after he returned to Poona from Delhi in January 1949, after the Red Fort trial was over, and Savarkar found `not guilty.’
While in the Delhi for the trial, Bhopatkar had been put up in the Hindu Mahasabha office, Bhopatkar had found it a little puzzling that while specific charges had been made against all the other accused, there was no specific charges against the client. He was pondering about his defence strategy when one morning he was told that he was wanted on the telephone, so he went up to the room in which the telephone was kept, picked up the receiver and identified himself. His caller was Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who merely said: `Please meet me this evening at the sixth milestone on the Mathura road.’ But before Bhopatkar could say anything more, put down the receiver.
That evening, when Bhopatkar had himself driven to the place indicated, he found Ambedkar already waiting. He motioned to Bhopatkar to get into his car which he, Ambedkar himself, was driving. A few minutes later he stopped the car and told Bhopatkar: There is no real charge against your client, quite worthless evidence has been concocted. Several members of the cabinet were strongly against it (against implicating Savarkar), but to no avail. Sardar Patel could not go against these orders. But, take it from me, there just is no case. `You will win.’ Who…Jawaharlal Nehru?…But why?
They had arrested Savarkar even though they did not possess sufficient evident to do so. To be sure, the mass of papers seized from his house had yielded scores of letters from Nathuram and half a dozen from Apte, but these were disappointingly innocuous. All that they did was to establish the fact that Nathuram and Apte knew Savarkar and held him in great esteem. But this in itself was not enough to satisfy a magistrate that a prima facie case existed so that he could issue a warrant.
This, however, was no more than a technicality (sic), and they got overe it by arresting him under the Prevention Detention Act—one of the most malignant practice of legislation with which the British had armed themselves while they ruled India. Even though Indian politicians of all shades of opinion had persistently condemned the British for this Act, the Congress had been in no hurry to repeal it after the British had gone.
Under its provision, Savarkar was initially held as a `detenu.’ After that they proceeded to build up evidence against him that would enable them to change his detention into arrest, with what could be called `retrospective effect.’
Savarkar was 64 years old, and had been ailing for a year or more. He was detained on 5 February 1948, and remained in prison for the whole of the year which the investigations and the trial took. He was adjudged `not guilty’ on 10 February 1949. The man who had undergone 26 years of imprisonment and detention under the British for his part in India’s struggle for freedom was thus slung back into the jail for another year the moment that freedom came.
The strain of the trial, and the year spent in prison while it lasted, wrecked Savarkar’s health and finished him as a force in India’s politics. (Page 46).
Pavan K. Varma, member of JD (U), usually hedges his bets quite nicely but his edit piece in Times of India on Saturday (December 9, 2017) deserves a considered rebuttal.
Basically, Varma praises Jawaharlal Nehru (“Scientific Humanist”) and Mahatma Gandhi (“Catholic spirit”) for the India that should be; and slams the “deliberate communalization by the “Hindutva” brigade.
Varma pompously terms it a “malevolent design.” He writes that such forces “know very little about what Hinduism is.” Therefore, “Hinduism needs to be reclaimed…from rampant bigotry.”
Since Varma knows so much about “Being Indian”, having written a book by this title, he needs be told what Nehru thought of Indians while seeking permission from his father to shift from Cambridge to Oxford in England: “Cambridge is becoming too full of Indians.” [i]
As for his praise of Gandhi for the “Catholic spirit”, Varma needs be asked if it’s the same “Catholic spirit” which makes a Pope condemn the attempts of US-based protestant missions in Latin America but show his double standards by keeping silent on Catholic missions in India?
Is it the same “Catholic Spirit” he has in his mind when he surveys Church buildings standing on the debris of Hindu Temples in South India? [ii] Hasn’t Varma read the Niyogi Committee Report on Christian conversions? Isn’t he aware that Catholic church by itself could be the biggest owner or real estate in India? On a historical scale, does Varma has any recollection of Church condemning colonialism? Would he deliberate the Holocaust could be the result of centuries of Christian anti-Jewish stance? Does he remember Christianity’s oppression of Pagans?
Indeed, European landscape is studded with churches containing false relics of false saints to whom false martyrdom is attributed. [iii]
Now, let’s return to Mahatma Gandhi which Varma praises for his “respect for all religions.” Does Varma remember that Gandhi had made the last-ditch proposal to Jinnah to accept Muslim/non-Muslim parity in Parliament, making one Muslim equal to three non-Muslims? (As an aside, how could Gandhi who has “respect for all religions” be praised for his “Catholic spirit”? Too bad, Mr Varma for using a communal brush on your hero.)
Varma calls out Hindutva forces for communalization in this country. Doesn’t he know that it was Hindutva forces who opposed communal electorates and recruitment quota which Congress had endorsed in pre-Independent India? Doesn’t he know that Hindus can never be fundamentalist because this concept belongs to Biblical-Quaranic traditions? And that Hindu scriptures are universally acknowledged repository of plurality?
We all know, as I am sure Varma does, that words such as “secularism” and “Hindu communalism” were made popular by Nehru. But did Nehru, his other hero, ever say a word about Muslim League which was a reincarnation of “communalism?”
Let’s now take up Varma’s diatribe against the Hindutva forces, which as I infer, is Rashstriya Swamsewak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In RSS’ official statements, the notion of a “Hindu state” is totally absent. Every BJP member, on joining the party has to take the solemn pledge of “Sarva Dharma Sambhav.” That, “I subscribe to the concept of a secular state and nation not based on religion.”
In the RSS literature of the last 60-odd years, “not a single derogatory word or expression towards Christ, Biblical teachings, Prophets of the Bible, Mohammad Paigambar or Koran, or pilgrimage to the Holy Land Jerusalem or Mecca, or about anything which is purely religion,” has been mentioned. [iv]
The BJP election manifesto clearly states that “diversity is an inseparable part of India’s past and present national tradition.”
Varma would never condemn the curious fact that media never mentions the service aspect of RSS. He wouldn’t mention that Hindu India has no history of book-burning, of executing heretics or throwing dissidents to lunatic asylums. Does he remember that it was Hindus’ India which gave shelter to Christian refugees in 345AD and never took that protection away?
Varma in his editorial piece slams Hindutva forces for the “vitriolic politics” on Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute even when the “dispute” is before the Supreme Court. Varma would do well to tell his readers that dispute is not about Mandir or Masjid. The High Court had already awarded Mandir to Hindu litigants. What the Hindu litigants are demanding is the entire land and not one-third of it. Besides, who began the Ayodhya issue? Wasn’t it “janeu-dhari” and “Shiv-bhakt” Rahul Gandhi and the blundering Kapil Sibal?
Wasn’t it Lal Krishna Advani who noted in a BJP Today editorial (16.11.97) that “non-Hindu” luminaries such as VS Naipual and Nirad C. Chaudhuri had justified the Babri demolition and that it was Advani himself who “still regretted the manner in which this happened” ?
Would the intellectual Varma offer us a clue why even after 25 years of Babri demolition, neither he nor his friends in Lutyens’ Media have attempted to find out the real culprits? Surely such forces which can dig up every cent being credited to the Jan Dhan accounts can do the job.
I do not know if Varma is a socialist or Marxist. But I do remember this popular saying about the misfortune of Hindus and their cultural heritage. “Hindus have been facing a sustained attack from Islam since the seventh, Christianity since the 15th and the Marxists since the 20th century.”
[i] – Joseph Shattan: Review of Stanley Wolpert’s book, “Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny, in American Spectator, February 1997
[ii] Decolonizing the Hindu Mind by Dr. Koenraad Elst, Page 273
[iii] Decolonizing the Hindu Mind by Dr. Koenraad Elst, Page 277
[iv] Christianity in India, by Sreepaty Sastry, Page 18
Swami Dayanand Saraswati, whose death anniversary falls this week (October 30, 1883), deserves attention from all Indians. If Mahatma Gandhi is “Father of the Nation”, Swamiji has been called “The Grandfather of the Nation” by no less than a Speaker of our Parliament 1; President Radhakrishnan termed him the “Maker of Modern India”; Swami Vivekananda was inclined to place him alongside Kabir, Nanak and Chaitanya for ensuring Hindus weren’t wiped out in their own homeland 2. A man as towering as Adi Sankaracharya himself 3; he is credited to have laid the real foundation of modern independent India 4; who went farther than “Brahmo Samaj and even Ramakrishna Mission,” as per se Romain Rolland 5. To Sri Aurobindo, he’s been “A Soldier of Light” to the land we call Bharat or India 6.
A piece is hardly enough to encompass a man who needs a shelf-full of books to do justice to him. He believed in ancient Vedas and not Vedanta; was a Hindu without Hinduism. He wanted the living beings of this land to return to roots of Vedas and side-step Upanishads, Puranas, Idolatry and was critical of Brahmins for not disseminating Vedas’ profundity to masses. Such a man can’t be expected to be reverential to Islam or Christianity and he wasn’t. In no way, it implied religious intolerance—rather he wanted the entire humanity to drink from this fountain of eternal wisdom called Vedas. The greatest of all Sanskrit scholars, Swamiji chose to reach out to masses in their own language of Hindi with his magnum opus, Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth).
So reams could be written and hours be spent in marvelling how a young boy ran away from his home at 14, never to return or see his family again, spending a quarter of a century as a wandering ascetic, and devoting his entire celibate life in uplifting widows, untouchables and orphans and regenerating the Hindu society. He was the first to give call for Swaraj in 1876, “India for Indians,” which was later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak and a good half-century later by Gandhi-Nehru. To this day, the presence of Arya Samaj in our neighbourhood remind us of him; as do scores of DAV Schools and Colleges which dot most towns and cities of India. Not to forget the admirable Gurukul Kangri in Haridwar.
It is one of history’s painful irony that two men who lit the light of India’s renaissance, Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Mahatma Gandhi, now stand at cross-purpose, even hostile to each other’s philosophy, in the annals of time. Both were born in the state of Kathiawar in Gujarat; the year 1869 which saw the birth of Mahatma Gandhi was also a seminal year in Swamiji’s life when he won over hundreds of learned Pundits in a historic debate in the holy city of Kashi, Banares.
First, it’s no help if we pigeon-hole these two giants in social, religious or political boxes. Those who try to run down Arya Samaj for its unswerving loyalty to Vedas, are worth being reminded that a few of the greatest Indians in freedom struggle like Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh, Veer Savarkar, Madanlal Dhingra and Ram Prasad Bismal were shaped by Arya Samaj philosophy. Men like Swami Shraddhanand and Bhai Parmanand were martyred and Swami Dayanand himself was poisoned.
In 1912, a special committee under the chairmanship of Nehru, surveyed all the jails of the country and reported that 70% of its inmates were Arya Samajis. In 1931, that figure rose to 80%. The great historian K.M. Pannikar credited 80% of all freedom-fighters as being inspired by Arya Samaj.
This fervour wasn’t limited to India. In England, Shyamji Krishna Varma began India Home Rule Society in 1905. Another organization with similar aim and objective, namely Ghadar Party was floated in United States by Har Dayal. Sohan Lal Pathak breathed revolutionary fire from Burma in 1915 7.
This all flowed from Swami Dayanand’s philosophy of overturning the alien rule. He recognized the influence of education in regeneration of the Hindu race. The clarion call emanated from DAV College of Lahore and the Gurukul Kangri and between 1886-1918, the Arya Samaj ran over 500 educational institutions throughout India. Long before Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Swamiji had said: “It should be made a penal offence to keep a child at home after that (5-8 years) age.”
All these institutions included the idea of Swadeshi in their curriculum. He mobilized Rajas and Maharajas in this regard. Under his influence, the Maharaja of Jodhpur and all his officials began using hand-spun and hand-woven clothes. All adopted Khadi produced in Marwar. All of these were independent of any governmental assistance. Significantly, military training was made compulsory. One of his critic Valentine Chirol said: “…the whole drift of Dayananda’s teachings is far less to reform Hinduism than to range it into active resistance to the alien influence which threatened, in his opinion, to denationalize it 8.”
By the advent of Mahatama Gandhi in India in 1915, Arya Samaj had become big enough a threat for the British government to ban any of its followers from entering the “precincts of its regimental barracks.” No Arya Samaji was to be enlisted in the army. Swamiji had long gone by then, having been poisoned in 1883 by communal forces but Arya Samaj brooked no stopping.
Gandhi was an early recipient of Arya Samaj’s largesse when he received funds for his struggle against apartheid in South Africa and wrote a personal letter of thanks to its head, Mahatma Munshi Ram. Thereafter students of Phoenix Ashram came to India and stayed several months in the Gurukul. Gandhi himself paid a visit to Gurukul when he arrived on his first visit in 1915. It was here that Mahatma Munshi Ram called Gandhi a Mahatma, a title that Gandhi unsparingly used thereafter in public life. Two years later, Mahatma Munshi Ram took sanyas as “Swami Shraddhanand Saraswati” in 1917.
When Gandhi was praised for his Satyagraha in South Africa, he was quick to respond: “I am worthy of teaching anybody but I yearn to learn myself from anyone who is servant of his country.” He had marvelled at Swami Dayanand Saraswati and his body of work in a mere 11 years. On meeting Swami Shraddhanand in India, Gandhi described him as having a stature as tall as a mountain 9.
In the spirit of those times, Swami Shradanand soon joined Congress, moved by Gandhi’s call that “dharmic aims alone can transform the political field, (leading to pure and true amelioration of India 10 .” Alongside, he infused a new life in Hindu Sangathan, known these days as Hindu Maha Sabha.
No sooner had Swami Shradanand joined Congress, he began seeing the futility of his decision. Ironically, his biggest heart-ache came on the matter of Untouchability. Swami Shraddanand was convinced that seven crores of Indians can’t be allowed to stay out of freedom struggle only because they were Untouchables. He feared they were ready pickings for Christian missionaries. Despite Gandhi’s avowed stance against Untouchability, he received no support from Congress on the matter. His proposals were rejected by Congress in its 1920 Calcutta session. Swamiji was aghast to see Gandhi was more into his non-violent, non-cooperation creed and completely immersed in making the Khilafat Movement a success 11.
Gandhi was completely taken in by his mission to forge a Hindu-Muslim unity. Gandhi’s support to Khilafat Movement, a movement to restore Ottoman Sultan and Caliphate in faraway Turkey—in order to gain Muslim support—and the subsequent Moplah riots in which thousands of Hindus were butchered and about which the apostle of non-violence never offered any criticism, stung Swami Shradhanand. He also found to his dismay that Gandhi was forming committee on various issues and then taking arbitrary decisions. He lamented: “I thought it would be a misfortune if Mahatmaji would be obliged to sever his connection with the oldest political movement (Arya Samaj) in India.”
Gandhi meanwhile had begun to distance himself from Arya Samaj. A flashpoint must have come in 1923 when Swami Shradanand became the president of the Bhartiya Hindu Shuddhi Sabha, created with an aim of reconverting Muslims, specifically Malkana Rajputs in the western United Province. For Arya Samaj has always believed that most minorities of India, whether Muslim or Christian or any other minority, were converts out of Hindu fold. And this it expressly aimed to stop, fearing for such continuance would play havoc for Hindu’s existence in the future.
Soon enough, Gandhi began criticizing Arya Samaj in no uncertain terms. On May 29, 1925, Gandhi wrote in Young India: “Swami Shraddhanandji…his speeches are often irritating…he inherits the traditions of the Arya Samaj 12.”
Gandhi didn’t spare even Swami Dayanand and his magnum opus, Satyarth Prakash. “I have profound respect for Dayanand Saraswatiji…But he made his Hinduism narrow. I have read Satyarth Prakash, the Arya Samaj Bible. It’s a disappointing book from a reformer so great.”
In our times, Arya Samaj is losing its steam primarily for it doesn’t have leaders of stature of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and a few others. Its offices and compounds are now turning into “baraat ghars.” A great movement is dying out. The educational institutions, fashioned by Swami Dayanand Saraswati, though are doing fine.
Three communal incidents have rocked India in the last fortnight.
A 15-year-old Muslim boy, Junaid, was killed in a train. Let’s concede it was a communal murder. Arrests have been made, weapon recovered.
Then North 24-Parganas in West Bengal erupted over a Facebook post where Hindus bore the brunt of Muslim backlash. The State’s silence is viewed by most as complicity. Arrests have been few and far between. The Chief Minister hasn’t bothered to visit and soothe the nerves.
A bus on way to holy Amarnath yatra in Kashmir was ambushed by terrorists who gunned down seven and injured 19 pilgrims. All the right noises have since been made.
If the binary is only Hindu-Muslim divide in this country, the score would show: 2 Muslims; 1 Hindus. Yet you wouldn’t guess so by the narrative being played out.
Junaid’s murder, within hours, was branded as one by cow vigilantes with the implicit blessing of the ruling party in Centre.
West Bengal was dubbed as a convoluted political ploy by BJP looking to secure the upcoming Gujarat elections.
The tragic Amarnath killings were again linked to BJP for its hand in letting Kashmir become a blood-drenched valley.
In between, the stories abounded of a Hindu LeT terrorist (since proven wrong), a stray fake image on Facebook (true) and a prominent Hindi daily (see image) accused of dramatizing the horror of Amarnath yatra survivors.
None of the Lutyens Media, who I prefer to call DALALS (Damn Left and Lutyens Scribes), ever described it as an “Islamic terror”–like they do with concocted “Hindu terror” theme – and, instead, drowned us with the virtues of “Kashmiriyat” and justly heroic “Salim bhai”, the driver of that ill-fated bus.
The DALALS have concentrated on the “form” and not on “substance” or they would have highlighted the onset of Jihadi presence in India stoking and riding on Hindu-Muslim divide.
This is an anti-Hindu brigade. Since Hindus have largely hoisted BJP in the Centre, the corollary is unmistakable. This bunch is partly “brainwashed” and mostly “funded” which either way is not good for India’s unity.
The “brainwashed” ones are no better than the leaders of pre-Independence India who claimed “principle” in public but “compromised” in private with the British. Most of them were lawyers –like Gandhi, Patel and Nehru—and the first two, despite their Indian attire, had political theories of Western orientation. British had nicely sized them up and like monkeys—no offence intended for we have monkey as Gods–made them jump through the hoop.
The “funded” ones are of more dangerous variety. But they conform to the pattern of India’s history which is replete with “betrayals.” These Jaichands and Mir Jafars must have been in the mind of French Francois Bernier, physician to both Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb in the 17th century, who wrote back home that a capable French general with 20,000 soldiers could subdue all of India.
Take the case of Nizam of Hyderabad. In 1767 he joined the English and the Marathas against Haider Ali of Mysore. He then switched side in Haider’s favour. Once Haider was beaten, he again came back to the English side. Ten years later, in 1779, he again was by Haider’s side against the English. In 1786, he had joined the Marathas against Tipu Sultan, Haider’s son. In 1790, he revived a triple alliance with Marathas and English against Tipu.
There is a reason why India could never expel a foreign enemy. The likes of Alexander, Timur, Abdali or Nadir Shah only withdrew. India was a ripe picking for all and sundry—Shaka, Kushans, Huns, Arabs, Afghans and succeeding invaders. And that’s because Indians of then and Indians of now could barely rise above their petty interests. India was and is NOT a single entity in their psychology.
The same unfortunate India is again unfolding in front of our own eyes. The subjugation and invasions of over 1000 years has taught us nothing. There are still embedded forces within who are ready to betray India for personal gains. The real beneficiaries are (a) colonial powers of West and (b) Islamic forces who are breathing down its East and West flanks.
Fortunately, the majority Indians are not with them and have reposed their trust in BJP to govern the country. The danger is BJP and other Hindutva forces are still measuring themselves through the prism of this pseudo-sickular gang. It’s time to bite the bullet and say India is a “Hindu Rashtra” who protects and safeguards the interests of its minorities without distinction or prejudice. Israel has no qualms in declaring itself a Jewish state.
Or else, this fortnight of communal violence will keep itself repeating till BJP themselves falls by the wayside, losing the trust of the majority. Indians want them to stand up for India and against the DALALS.
Or the succeeding generations would hold us accountable for the misfortune which is bound to be their fate.