(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Every Independence Day fills me with sadness and anger. For the day next is August 16, albeit of 1946, when the Muslim League government of the day in undivided Bengal provoked violence against Hindus, described by the then TIME magazine as the “worst communal riots of the century.”
History remembers the day as the ‘Direct Action Day” or the “The Week of Long Knives.” On July 29, 1946, Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah had made a call for “Direct Action”—a call to all Muslims in the country—to mark its rejection of the constituent assembly and to demonstrate to British and Congress that a separate nation called Pakistan alone could offer them security.
Were Muslims unsafe in Congress-dominated India? Mahatma Gandhi would’ve called it the “greatest irony.” All his life he was accused of Muslim appeasement, from Khilafat movement to Malabar riots and later to funding Pakistan with Rs 55 crores which was the last straw for a Hindu protagonist, Nathuram Godse. All these killings after Direct Action Day, Noakhali, and Punjab partition still had Gandhi reaching out to Pakistan even as their infiltrators were carving out Kashmir illegally–looting, killing and raping with impunity.
Had Muslims been unsafe in India, the call for Pakistan would’ve come much before than it finally did in 1940. Had Muslims been unsafe, overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims would’ve thought little of Muslim League till 1945. If Muslim security alone was uppermost in Jinnah’s mind, he ought to have worried about millions of Muslims he was leaving behind in vivisected India.
So, that’s Exhibit A: Jinnah’s call for Direct Action Day had little basis but for his own personal agenda. He found a ready ally in Britain who were stung by Congress’ non-cooperation during World War II and wanted to teach them a lesson. Britain also wanted to retain a foothold in the Indian sub-continent, access to critical Arabian Sea and to stem the advance of Russia and its’ Communism to Middle East where oil was beginning to be the new big lolly.
The next set of facts are undisputed too: That (a) the then Bengal Chief Ministe Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, “king of goondas” made an inflammatory speech in Calcutta while calling for a bandh on the day; (b) police and other security services were given off for the day; (c) Muslim League mouthpiece The Star of India called upon Muslims to remember the jihad, the Battle of Badr, when a handful of Muslims overpowered the heathens, (d) Pirs and Mullahs were urged to mobilize Muslims on the prayers of Friday the 16th.
From this stage on, the Left-Liberal academia takes over the history that reaches us. Ramachandra Guha admits that although “the violence was started by the (Muslim) League, the main sufferers were Muslims.” The Quint quotes a writer and a BBC programme to show how Hindus were enacting violence; Scroll mentions that 75% victims were Muslims; The Wire asserts that Suhrawardy is “mis-remembered as a Hindu-hating communal leader for he wanted a united Bengal (who are we to tell them that’s because Suhrawardy didn’t want to lose Calcutta, the nub of Bengal’s economy).
What’s their source of claiming that more Muslims lost their lives? Some bloggers and historians. What’s the source of these bloggers and historians? Again some other bloggers and historians. That’s how the Left-Liberal grow the tree of agenda.
Now what’s the official position?
(a) No official position only a widely varying figures of between 4,000-10,000 killed, mostly a guesswork; (b) In August 1946, the Government of Bengal appointed an enquiry commission presided by the Supreme Justice of India, Sir Patrick Spens. Although the commission interrogated many witnesses, its conclusions were never published!
EXHIBIT B: Why the report wasn’t published? You would never see a select academia/historians mentioning or questioning it. You would never find this Left-Liberal bloc telling you about “evil” Governor Frederick Burrows and his complicity in Direct Action Day; you would never find this Left-Liberal cabal tell you that during the days of the partition, the sentiments of British officers, be it police or army or bureaucracy, were overwhelmingly pro-Pakistan because of the non-cooperation of Congress during World War II. Or the role of such British officers in helping infiltrators in Kashmir in 1947-48.
You pay enough attention and you would get the pattern in modern day: it’s never Hindu right-wingers who are killed in Kerala but violence is from both sides; it’s never BJP leaders who are massacred and thrown into gutters in West Bengal but losses are on both sides. You would get the pattern when the proposed Citizenship Bill for Hindus who are emptied from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is opposed tooth and nail by these official raconteurs. Why the brilliant account of Hindus’ suffering in Bengal by Tathagata Roy “My People, Uprooted” is kept hidden from your attention. For anyone but Hindus is the creed.
Even though they all concur that Muslims initiated the riots at the call of Suhrawardy; that police was pulled in; yet somehow more Muslims died on a data which is non-existent!!! (and dare you disbelieve them).
So I will follow August 16 this year with both trepidation and sadness. Trepidation is to watch out for fresh “painted” accounts by the unscrupulous. Sadness, for if a debate, seminar or remembrance of the day is observed, it would somehow be BJP who would be plastered as communal! Meanwhile, you and I would keep sitting on our haunches—and watch our next generation brain-washed and swamped with guilt. The continuing horrors on millions of Hindus in east of our land is neither heard nor told.
So first you lose lives; then you lose the memory of these lives and instead of outrage are left with guilt. That’s how brilliantly a narrative is controlled.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s such a humbug from the 14th Dalai Lama to suggest that the 1947 Partition could’ve been avoided had Pt Jawaharlal Nehru accepted Mahatama Gandhi’s offer to Make Mohammad Ali Jinnah as Prime Minister, the offer which was made to Viceroy Lord Mountbatten on April 1, 1947.
Gandhi’s offer to Jinnah was a non-starter from the word go. Gandhi had made such proposals previously too—and it had been rejected by the Muslim League and Jinnah himself. There is no reason to believe Jinnah would’ve accepted so on this occasion. Nehru only saved him the trouble.
Why Jinnah would’ve brushed aside the offer? Because the Central Legislative Assembly would’ve still been dominated by Congress members who would’ve rendered his Prime Ministership impossible. Besides, how would’ve Jinnah looked to his supporters and Muslim League after harping “Pakistan-and-nothing-else,” all these years?
Look at the issue from the Congress’ perspective. It still, by far, was the largest nationalist party, representing majority of Indians, including Muslims. Forget Hindus, how Congress would’ve appeared to millions of nationalist Muslisms still on their side? What was the guarantee that Jinnah would’ve stopped at his original demand of six states only? (Punjab, Bengal, Sylhet, Sind, Balochistan and NWFP). And what about one-third of India which was still run “independently” by hundreds of princes and their fiefdoms?
Above everything else, nobody believed Gandhi was serious on his offer. This is what Lord Mountbatten has written in his memoirs on the offer:
“I (Mountbatten) need not say that this solution coming at this time staggered me. I asked: “What would Mr Jinnah say to such a proposal”? The reply was, “if you tell him I am the author, he will reply “Wily Gandhi.”
Still, Lord Mountbatten did put Gandhi’s proposal to Pt. Nehru. The latter pointed out that Gandhi had made a similar proposal during the Cabinet Mission of 1946. The proposal was all the less realistic a year hence now because of the policy of Direct Action by the Muslim League which has caused bloodshed and bitterness. Nehru also wondered if Sikhs and Hindus in districts of Punjab where they dominated, would accept the proposal.
As per VP Menon, the Constitutional Advisor to the Viceroy (know more about him, he is the one who actually solved the knotty Partition issue), “the assurance of cooperation by the Congress (to Gandhi’s proposal on Jinnah) is more a wishful thinking…this is perhaps not un-intended by Gandhi.
“According to Gandhi’s proposal, Jinnah is at liberty to plan for Pakistan and even to put his plans into effect provided he is successful in appealing to reason and does not use force. This is asking for the impossible.
“If Jinnah could persuade the Sikhs and Hindus of the Punjab and Hindus of Bengal to join Pakistan, he would automatically get his Pakistan without joining the Interim Government on dubious terms. On the other hand, if Jinnah still persists in his scheme of separation, he will be giving his case away by entering the Central Government.
“It is Gandhi’s habit to make propositions, leaving many of their implications unsaid…for example, there is no reference here to the Muslim League participation in the Constituent Assembly. If Jinnah were to accept his proposal, Gandhi probably takes it for granted that the Muslim League would enter the Constituent Assembly.”
So, His Holiness, please spare us the false history. As it is we have many historians of dubious claims and agendas who manipulate the truth. Yours’ might be an innocent one but no less grievous.
For all his piety, love and reliance on non-violence and ahimsa, it’s one of history’s indisputable facts that Mahatma Gandhi relied heavily on Indian capitalists’ funds to keep the Congress going in pre-Independence days.
Today, when we hear Rahul Gandhi shriek “Suit-Boot ki sarkar” as a barb to Narendra Modi and his NDA government, it seems so improper given the financial diet which kept Congress on its feet in pre-1947 era.
B.R. Nanda, a contemporary and a pre-eminent biographer of Mahatma Gandhi admits in his book: “In Search of Gandhi..,” that two thoughts dominated his early years in India in 1920s: “One, that capitalists kept Congress and Gandhi flush with funds…and as quid pro quo, Gandhi astutely checked the revolutionary aspect of his struggle against the Raj to suit the vested interests of the capitalists.”
The experience of “Deshbandhu” Chittaranjan Das was a bitter testimony to such a belief. Subhas Chandra Bose was a disciple of Das. In the latter’s biography “Brothers against the Raj,” hugely acclaimed author Leonard A. Gordon writes thus (condensed for brevity):
In 1920, Gandhi promised “Swaraj in one year” as he gave call for civil disobedience. The call was a massive success. When on November 17, the Prince of Wales arrived in Bombay, Calcutta was completely shut-down by protestors. Around India, some 25,000 Congress workers were arrested. Congress was declared unlawful. Thousands more now poured into British jails, including Das and Subhas Bose. But when British offered a proposal of roundtable meeting, Gandhi rejected. Das was angry with Gandhi. In Das’ own words:
“I myself led people to prison. I started the movement in Bengal. I sent my son first to jail. My son was followed by m wife, and then I went to prison…I knew that the spirit of resistance that manifested itself was mighty and the proudest Government did bend to it. You (Gandhi) bungled it, and mismanaged it. Now you turn round and ask people to spin and do the work of Charka alone.”
In 1922, the Chauri Chaura incident happened. The Congress working committee met and suspended the planned civil disobedience. Peasants were instructed not to withhold rent payments from landlords, who were informed that the Congress `in no way intended to attack their legal rights.’
Writes Gordon: “The Congress…when ending many non-coperation activities and calling off the planned civil disobedience action, opposed rent strikes by peasants against their landlords. The Congress wanted and needed the support of the wealthier strata in society and was not willing to challenge economic vested interest.” (Italics mine).
“He (Subhas Bose) was possibly the author of a leader for Bangla Katha journal of 7 February 1923 which read: `The swaraj which the Congress had so long knowingly or unknowingly wished to have, is the swaraj of the rich and middle class. We do not always properly realize the fact that the masses of the country are still lying outside the Congress arena.”
Among the historians and observers, there is a stream of thought which believes that civil disobedience and non-cooperation movements, burning of foreign clothes etc, directly benefited India’s own Capitalists. Another though premises that due to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, which announced the arrival of Communism on world stage, Indian capitalists were fearful of a similar outbreak of resistance among its own workers. It was in their interests that such revolutionary methods were kept in check and Congress, being the leading party, alone could do it.
The above details is not to suggest a conspiracy between Congress and Capitalists. But personal interests perhaps guided both. Congress was close to bankruptcy when Gandhi arrived on the Indian scene. All it could do was to hold its’ annual sessions. It badly needed money and Gandhi proved to be a brilliant fund-raiser. It’s not to doubt Gandhi’s integrity or his commitment to his idea of India. Nor is to say that a few Indian capitalists were not genuinely inspired by Gandhi’s religious and political ethos. Both needed each other in those turbulent years.
But when Rahul Gandhi today accuses of Modi government siding with the Capitalists, it appears such a sham. He needs to go to libraries and read books to know more about his own Congress and its affiliation with capitalists.
Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar needs you on his 45th death anniversary on Tuesday (June 5, 1973). Chances are he would be reviled by Leftists Sitaram Yechury, and “Liberals” Ramachandra Guha, for his alleged affinity with Adolf Hitler. It would help them paint Rashstriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a Fascist and Nazist force, a virulent campaign meant to neutralize the sting out of Pranab Mukherjee’s upcoming visit to RSS headquarters on June 7.
“Guruji” as Golwalkar is known, was in public eye for a long period between 1940-1973 as the second sarsangchalak of RSS. In his profuse writings, letters, articles, statements and interviews, there is NOT ONE single sentence which declares Guruji’s admiration for Hitler. Not one. Yet libraries of articles and books repeat the lie to run down the world’s biggest mass organization.
This ocean of lies floats on a mere two paragraphs which appeared in Guruji’s maiden book in 1938, “We, Our Nationhood Defined”. The book has never been reprinted since 1947. It’s been over 70 years but these two paragraphs alone is the edifice around which an entire cottage industry of RSS-bashing, Hindu-mocking has flourished. Only Shiva knows how many careers have been launched; reputations air-brushed; funds transferred to crooks reaping the harvest out of these two paragraphs.
As an analogy, why Karl Marx is not Hitler-like for he too described Jews as “arch-exploiters”? Or John F. Kennedy so, for he praised Fascism-for-Italy and Nazism-for-Germany in the 1930s? Or our own Pt. Nehru for he swore by socialism even as millions were being massacred in its name in Stalin’s Russia?
But let’s look at these two contentious paragraphs first:
“From the standpoint, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture or language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e. of the Hindu nation, and must lose their separate existence or merge into the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment–not even citizens’ rights.”
Let’s look at key issues in the paragraph. One, there is no call for genocide for it says “minorities can stay in the country.” The sentence “not claim any privilege” isn’t objectionable either for that’s the decree of “secularists” alone. All the democracies of the world are run by this maxim.
As for Citizens’ Rights, before we describe its context, let’s remember most Muslim countries till today exclude non-Muslims in its political decision-making system. Golwalkar’s prescription for Non-Hindus is vastly different from Sharia’s prescription for non-Muslims. Golwalkar isn’t stopping non-Hindus from bearing arms or riding a horse. So if Golwalkar/RSS are fascist, how would you describe Quran and Sharia?
Now look at the context of this sentence. In 1938, the talk of a Muslim nation was gathering wind. Muslims advocated the two-nation theory in India. Such a theory had been applied on Austria-Hungarians, Ottoman and Czarist empires. Lenin has supported it; so had USSR constitution. Muslims claimed they were distinct from Hindus by dress and customs; food and marriage; religion and holy days etc. They also lived in separate neighbourhoods. So Golwalkar was only accepting the Muslim logic.
Those advocating a Muslim nation in 1938 unambiguously expressed and defined Muslim community as a separate nation (ummah). So if you are a separate nation, how could you be a full citizen in a Hindu state? As Dr Koenraad Elst says: “Remember, the same choice was given to Kennedy (John), the first Roman catholic president of the (protestant) US. He was asked if he was loyal to Roman Catholic Church or country? He said country.”
Now let’s turn to the second paragraph in contention:
“To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”
This paragraph again must be viewed in the context of 1938. This was the year when Hitler was hugely popular in India and no less around the world. He had transformed Germany; challenged the order of colonial powers. Why, even after WW II, Charles de Gaulle was spewing anti-Jews views. Eugenic politics was on in US and Scandinavia till the 1970s. The “Hitler Salute” was fairly common well into the 1950s. Democratic countries were racists and publicly proud of it. Subhas Bose was hailed in India even though he had joined hands with Japan, an ally of Fascist-Nazist forces.
Just to highlight the double standards, look at how Mahatma Gandhi shed tears on destruction of British Parliament and Westminister Abbey in WW II. But he had no such feel for monuments destroyed in Germany. Was England’s record in India any better than Germany in other countries in 1940?
All Golwalkar said was that Germany proved two nations in one state was not feasible. He drew an analogy but never supported Nazism. He could’ve done so in 1938 since England was still not at war with Germany.
If Golwalkar was a Nazi, he wouldn’t have extensively quoted Western scholars in his work. For instance he approved of John Stuart Mills’ words: “Free institutions are impossible in a country made up of different nationalities.” Golwalkar publicly believed in the authority of League of Nations (while fascist Italy left League of Nations in 1937).
Golwalkar never said Muslims must not hold public office; or intermarriage must be clamped down upon; or that “pogroms of Muslims” was the answer. He didn’t ask for Muslim professors to be removed from universities after the Partition. Golwalkar looked for assimilation of minorities; not dissimilation like Hitler did. What you would never be told is that US, England and France etc—all democratic countries—had refused rights to minorities in League of Nations. They all stood for assimilation of minorities. And so did Golwalkar.
Golwalkar had seen how Muslims in India had appealed to foreign Muslim powers, like Amir of Afghanistan, during the Khilafat Movement. His appeal for their assimilation in the 1930s thus appears perfectly legitimate. Those criticizing Golwalkar, must tell us what was RSS’ position during WW II? They must also be asked: Why don’t you quote from Deendayal Upadhyaya’s Integral Humanism, formulated in 1965 and the official ideology of RSS? Every BJP member has to swear by it.
In the same book, Golwalkar says: “The superiority complex of the White Man blurs their vision. (We.., Pg 6, 11).” Does it look like a comment of “White-Only” Nazis?
An American student who travelled Europe in the 1930s, wrote to his parents saying fascism is right for Italy; Nazism for Germany.” This student was no other than John F. Kennedy. Nobody calls Kennedy as Fascist or Nazist. Those who have no moral compunction while doing the same to Golwalkar and RSS, are at best agents of Left-Liberal mafia. They feed on chaos and anarchy; bloodshed and genocide in a society. Spot them in the light of Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to RSS Headquarters on Thursday.
Shashi Tharoor’s edit piece in Indian Express on Saturday reminded me of my probation days in journalism with the Times of India in the 80s. My editor would look at my typed report, run circles in red every second line and send the paper flying towards the dustbin: “What the hell do you want to say?”
Chuckling, I set about circling Tharoor’s piece (see image), and literally ran out of ink. The man is as confused as his party, touching every base and sticking to none. “Jaana-tha-Japan-Pahunch-Gaye-Cheen-Samajh-Gaye-Naa” kind of delirium. A piece as bald as palm of my hand. Let’s stick to a few specific ink-circles, and not all, for I can’t afford to bore and lose you, my readers.
“Our attacks (on BJP) are based on our own convictions and about what is good and proper for the nation”: So using “neech” and “chaiwala” are part of your convictions. A wild attack on RSS as murderer of Mahatma Gandhi is part of your conviction. Blaming Centre for violence in “Sterlite” is part of your conviction. Blaming BJP for murder of Gauri Lankesh’s murder in your own governed state is based on your conviction. “Ease of doing business” and a “7.7 GDP growth” in your view is not “good and proper for the nation.” Impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) is good and proper in your view.
“Congress’ core belief…inclusive growth, social justice, abolition of poverty, protection of minorities, women, dalits and adivasis”: Inclusive growth, social justice, abolition of poverty? Are you joking Mr Tharoor? Anyone earning above Rs 33 is not poor is how Congress removed poor and poverty. Six worst communal riots happened under UPA and you call it protection of minorities. Women? Ask Shah Bano. And remember how you had to apologize for making fun of our own Miss World 2017? Dalits? That’s why Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar could get Bharat Ratna only in 1990 and that too not under Congress’ regime. Further, why your heart didn’t beat for a murdered Dalit youth leader found hanging by tree in Bengal? Was it because he worked for BJP? Adivasis? Then how did Maoists and Naxalites proliferate in India?
“Congress is political embodiment of India’s pluralism…preservation of secularism”: Your kind of equality under “secularism” doesn’t extend to Hindus and their problems. “Secularism” ought to be equality; not appeasement of minorities. The world “secular” too is an insertion in the Constitution by your leader Indira Gandhi after suspending the Parliament and slapping the “Emergency” on the nation in the 70s. Secularism is nothing but a cloaked dagger by Congress to keep it plunged in India’s heart.
“We too share Hinduism, albeit an inclusive version of the faith, rather than a bigoted one”: Oh really? May we ask you Mr Tharoor where’s your reaction on 24 BJP/RSS workers killed in Karnataka under Congress rule? Where’s Congress’ concern for Hindu lives as they are butchered in West Bengal and Kerala? Show me one tweet where you have offered condolence to Hindu lives lost? Congress standing by Hinduism almost sounds like an abuse.
“The need of Rural India represents political opportunity to Congress (e.g)…the mounting farmers’ suicides”: So, tragic lives lost is a political opportunity to Congress??? But then what else do you expect from a party which clings to a dynasty and cries democracy in the same breath?
“(Congress must) Help citizens in interactions with the police…”: Now that could only happen if both citizens and police trust you with your intentions. I don’t know how policemen feel after Rahul Gandhi stormed a police station and scolded a policeman in uniform. As for citizens, they still speculate about an unfortunate death in a Delhi five-star hotel as you would recall. Where’s credibility of Congress and its leaders with the citizens of this country?
From housing to transport to potholes-on-roads to drinking water to education to healthcare to public parks to sanitation to waste management, Tharoor leaves little for imagination and a lot for mockery in his piece. Empty rhetoric, typical of Congress, the sound of an empty biscuit tin. Mr Tharoor, irony has died a million deaths in this juvenile piece of yours.
Indian Express is breathless in rubbishing the recent speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Parliament that “democracy in India wasn’t the work of Pt. Nehru….but that it was in ragon (veins) of Indians.” In last one week, Ashutosh Varshney and D.N. Jha have hogged Express’ edit pages to sneer at the Prime Minister and swoon at Pt. Nehru as the reason India has democracy.
We know too well the design of such anti-India forces to blacken our glorious heritage. You call them stooges of Western powers (for whom democracy originated from Greece) or the lackeys of Left (sworn enemies of Hinduism) but never forget the vileness of these forces. They don’t mean good of you or me or our future generations.
Varshney defines democracy as one of elected governments and universal adult suffrage, a typical Western notion. Who are we to tell him that Pt. Nehru’s own mentor, Mahatma Gandhi took a dim view of such a democracy! Gandhi saw better merit in “Republics of Village” – a direct democracy rather than a representative democracy—in which India abounded.
Varshney’s second line of propaganda is that ancient India may have had Councils (Gana or Sangha) through which a King governed but a common citizen had no role to play. Here’s what the eyewitness account of Alexander’s campaign to India in the 4th Century BCE by a Greek historian Arrian states: “ (there were) free and independent Indian communities at every turn”.
Greek writer Diodorus Siculus mentions that he mostly came across cities in India which practiced a democratic form of government.” The reference was from an account of no less than Greek traveler Megasthenes who had covered the entire Northern India and went as far as Patliputra.
Varshney probably hasn’t heard of Kautilya or his Arthashastra in the 4th Century BCE which mentions “janapadas” (Republic) where craftsmen, traders and agriculturalists had their guilds and wealth earned from trade ran the political process.
Panini, in his Sanskrit Classic “Ashtadhyayi” mentions the process of decision-making in politics. He provides various terms for voting and decision making through voting. He also mentions that in these Republics “there was no consideration of high and low.” The Buddhist literature in Pali and Brahmnical literature in Sanskrit portray a complex scenario of different groups managing their own affairs.
Indeed, the non-Monarchical governments in India go back to Vedic times. Rig Veda (10/191/2) mentions that “all resources to all stake-holders must be distributed equally.”
As for Pt. Nehru and his democratic credentials, his very appointment as Prime Minister was as undemocratic method as you could come across in any world annals. Nobody voted for him, yet he was made Prime Minister after majority’s favourite Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel bowed to the tyranny of Mahatma Gandhi.
And before touting for “democratic” Pt. Nehru, Varshney also ought to have informed the readers that the first Prime Minister of India had indeed jailed Majrooh Sultanpuri for his poem which didn’t paint him in golden colours. No wonder, his daughter Indira Gandhi went a step further and imposed Emergency.
So much for “freedom of speech” and “freedom of expression” which Varshney calls essentials in democracy.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
The popular history has Indian National Congress-Mahatma Gandhi-Ahimsa-Independence as a sequential thread embedded in the mind of free Indians. The disruptive truth of 1905-1920 is hardly in circulation; the parallel flow of revolutionaries beginning with Lal-Bal-Pal and extending till Subhas Chandra Bose are like distant relatives we haven’t been keeping in touch with.
Between 1905-1920, India buzzed with the cry of Purna Swaraj, Swadeshi, boycott and the educational reforms. The triumvirate of Lala Lajpati Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal shook the conscience of the masses with oratory, vision and action. The Moderates, who had controlled the levers of Congress from its inception since 1885, became a side story in people’s mind for this decade and a half.
The years 1905-1920 are not just about Congress in modern India; these are years where you could trace back the roots of Muslim appeasement and the horrors of the Partition.
The birth anniversary of Bipin Chandra Pal (November 7, 1858) affords us an occasion to view these times through the prism of this man who for his magnificent oratory was called the “Burke of India” and whom Sri Aurobindo was apt to refer as one of the “Mightiest Prophets of Nationalism.” His wealthy background in his birthplace Sylhet (now in Bangladesh); the remarkable pen he wielded as an editor and author; and his commitment for improving the lot of women—Pal married widows twice—pale in significance to his role in India’s freedom struggle, beginning 1905.
This catalyst of a year was when Bengal was partitioned between commercially rich but largely Hindu West Bengal and economically weak and largely Muslim East Bengal. British clearly had Hindu-Muslim divide in mind as Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, wrote in a letter to the then Secretary of State for India, St. John Brodrick on February 2, 1905:
“Calcutta is the centre from which the Congress party is manipulated throughout the whole of Bengal; and indeed the whole of India. Its best wire-pullers and its most frothy orators all reside here. The perfection of their machinery…are truly remarkable.” Curzon further wrote in the letter that if Bengal was divided, it would dethrone Calcutta “from its place as the center of successful intrigue.” Curzon assured the secretary that Indians “always howl until a thing is settled; then they accept it.” (1)
Pal, along with Lalaji and Tilak, was instrumental in ensuring ruling British didn’t meet with their objective and were forced to reunite Bengal only six years later in 1911. He travelled around the country and unleashed a wave of resistance from the masses with his subliminal oratory. Boycott wasn’t limited to British goods alone; it extended to even British public institutions. Groups and committees, gatherings and demonstrations, mass pamphleteering and rousing speeches had the country inflamed. The more British tried to repress the wave; the more it gained in intensity. Its froth extended to expressions in culture, literature and science. Rabindranath Tagore wrote Banglar Mati Banglar Jolas, a rallying cry to advocates of annulment of Bengal Partition. (2)
The fervour of this national response evoked anxiety and not a little envy from the Moderates who still controlled the Congress and who had believed all along in the philosophy of “prayers, petitions and protests.” Most of the Moderates were on good terms with the high-ranking British officials in 1905 and had also held cushioned jobs.
Six months after the Bengal Partition, The Congress session was held in Banares in December 1905. The division between Moderates and Extremists was out in the open. The Extremists wanted the visit of Prince of Wales to be boycotted in protest to the Partition; the Moderates opposed this move. Moderates invited one of staunchest in its ranks, Dadabhai Naoroji, a founder of Congress, a former MP in British Parliament and then living in England, to come and preside over the session in 1906. However, Extremists prevailed in the session and “Swaraj” was declared the aim of the Congress (against the wishes of Moderates who still preferred Constitutional reforms).
The Surat Session in 1907 was a monumental moment for Congress and India’s future. Moderates stood in opposition to Purna Swaraj and Swadeshi; Bal Gangadhar Tilak was not even allowed to speak by none other than Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya. The Extremists thereafter were debarred and ruling British moved in for the kill. (3)
British unleashed a brutal crackdown on the Extremists. Their newspaper was closed; Tilak was banished to Mandalay Jail for six years; Pal was arrested for not giving evidence against Sri Aurobindo and compelled to opt out to England between 1908-1911. British followed up this measure by snuggling up to Muslims and the Moderates and took the wind out of India’s resistance.
Pal returned to Congress in 1916 but by then the stage was set for the advent of Mahatma Gandhi on another moderate Gopalkrishna Gokhale’s invitation. Gandhi’s subsequent movement of non-cooperation, as an allied action to Khilafat Movement, was seen as fanning the Pan-Islamism, and introducing the religious element in India’s politics by the likes of Pal. Khilafat Movement, to the uninitiated, was launched by Muslims in support of restoration of Ottoman Sultan in faraway Turkey, fully backed by Gandhi and Congress in a bid to promote Hindu-Muslim Unity.
The envisioned unity was a pipe-dream and start of Muslim appeasements by Gandhi-led Congress. It fanned the ambition of Mohammad Ali Jinnah for a separate Muslim state. The resultant Partition and rivers of blood which flowed in its wake still carries scars and repercussions for India’s future. As for the British, they were all too happy to introduce “separate electorates” and fan the communal divide between Hindu and Muslims.
Pal turned his back on Congress but not before he made a scathing attack on Gandhi in the 1921 session. “You wanted magic. I tried to give you logic. But logic is in bad odor when the popular mind is excited. You wanted mantaram, I am not a Rishi and cannot give mantaram…I have never spoken a half-truth when I know the truth…I have never tried to lead people in faith blind-folded.” He was critical of Gandhi for his “priestly, pontificating tendencies.” Comparing Gandhi with Leo Tolstoy, Pal noted that Tolstoy “was an honest philosophical anarchist,” while Gandhi to him was a “papal autocrat.” (4)
Pal, who kept out of public life between 1921-1932, died in a state of penury.
This is the centenary of the year when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel first met Mahatma Gandhi and India got its unifier as we know the nation today. His birth anniversary, which falls this week, was all but erased from public memory under the Congress continuance and the media/academia which controlled the public narrative. It’s only now that the man is being pulled out of history’s dusty racks.
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.
This is a reprint from NewsBred.
Guha, already a book old on Gandhi–“Gandhi before India”– will have his second one on the man next year. Apparently, the cottage industry on Gandhi is a useful tool for self advancement and setting up the political agenda in this country.
Guha’s peg is the recent reference of Amit Shah where the BJP president had called Gandhi the “Chatur Baniya.” This has Guha in an outrage even though he himself reminded readers of “residue of Bania upbringing” in Gandhi in his book.
Guha’s entire premise is built on the assertion that Gandhi didn’t differentiate between castes and he repeatedly asked Hindus to “disregard matters of caste in where they lived…”
Gandhi is larger than life to most Indians. That doesn’t mean he is above examination. A Hindu mind isn’t shy of evaluating his own Gods. There is no reason a Mahatma be exempt from such a scrutiny. Gandhi himself would’ve approved of such “experiments with truth.”
So let’s examine if Gandhi didn’t differentiate between castes. In his over two decades of stay in South Africa, Gandhi didn’t think Black Africans were worth his time. In 1893, he wrote to the Natal parliament saying that Indians were better “than savages of the Natives of Africa.” He supported more taxes on impoverished African people and turned a blind eye to the brutality of the Empire on Africans. He termed them “kaffirs” an extremely offensive racist slur.
No less than Gandhi’s grandson and his biographer, Rajmohan Gandhi, has acknowledged that Gandhi was “prejudiced about South African blacks.” Historian Patrick French wrote in 2013 that “Gandhi’s blanking of Africans is the black hole at the heart of his saintly mythology.” Today a large number of Africans view Gandhi as a racist vis-a-vis Black Africans. A revision in his stature is already underway. Last year his statue was banished from Ghana University in Accra after massive protests by professors over his racist stance.
Guha of course would hide such facts from our view. Closer home, one would be interested to find out Guha’s opinion on Gandhi’s role in the Khilafat Movement (1919-1924). Most of us don’t know about it as a sanitized history is propagated by Left-Liberal combine in whose company Guha clearly is comfortable.
At the end of the World War I in 1919, Ottoman Turkey lay beaten by the Allied forces. Their pretensions of being Caliphs of the Islamic world was in ruins. It got the hackles up of Muslim leaders in India. They formed a committee to force the British government to restore the Sultan. This in brief is known as the Khilafat Movement.
Gandhi and the Congress launched the non-cooperation movement in support of the Khilafat demand. It clearly was a quid pro quo move. Gandhi, in return, got the Muslim support. It helped him become the biggest political actor of the Indian stage. (Bal Gangadhar Tilak had died on August 1, 1920). Gandhi justified his move thus:
“I would gladly ask for the postponement of the Swaraj activity if we could advance the interest of the Khilafat.” So Swaraj, which meant self-rule, became a subordinate action compared to restoration of Caliphate in a faraway land!!! It never occurred to Mahatma how the natives would make sense of such a sympathy for the Muslim cause which had nothing to do with India’s reality.
Mohammad Ali, a prominent leader of the Khilafat movement, went further: “If the Afghans invaded India to wage holy war, the Indian Muhammadans are not only bound to join them but also to fight the Hindus if they refuse to cooperate with them.”
This clearly was not respect-all-castes approach. And what was Gandhi’s reaction to this all? He supported Mohammad Ali for being true to his religion! So much for caste-free politics and the spirit of nationalism. Over to Gandhi:
“I claim that with us both the Khilafat is the central fact, with the Maulana Mohammad Ali because it is his religion, with me because, in laying down my life for the Khilafat, I ensure the safety of the cow, that is my religion, from the knife of the Mussalman.”
Let’s leave cow for the moment as it is a more sensitive subject than Mahatma these days. It must be mentioned though that Gandhi diverted a substantial sum of money from the Tilak Swaraj Fund to the Khilafat movement.
Gandhi’s support for Khilafat led to Mopla Rebellion of 1921. (Moplas are a Muslim sect of Malabar in Kerala). Murder and rapine followed the failure of Khilafat. It soon became a full-scale rebellion. Civil authorities caved in and army had to be summoned. Khilafat flags were hoisted on police stations and government offices. It took seven months to put it down completely.
Guha’s subtle message is that all religions are the same. Hindus must not make any distinctions vis-à-vis Islam, Christianity and other religions. And by inference, Ahimsa, the cornerstone of Gandhi’s philosophy, must be internalized.
But religious distinctions are there for all to see. Hindus don’t follow one book like Koran or Bible. They don’t have one God like Islam and Christianity. There is no prophet or messenger who stands between the God and humanity. There is no central religious authority like Pope to them.
Every time you open a newspaper, you read a piece by Guha, Sagarika Ghose and their ilks who appeal to the pacifist image of Hindus. Their method to neutralize the majority is simple: beat them with the creeds of Mahatma and shame them on the untouchability ills of Hindu society. Hemmed in by such imagery, India hasn’t responded to million cuts which aggressive neighbours inflict on it regularly. Bleed India to death is this creed. The Break-India plot must be thwarted with rigour and alertness for the forces have shifted gears.