Pt Jawaharlal Nehru
Just two words—Vande Mataram—by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, who has his 179th birth anniversary (June 26, 1838) this Monday, tells a lot about we the Indians.
Vande Mataram epitomized India’s freedom struggle against the monstrous British Rule and ”every patriot,” as Acharya Kriplani was to write later: “from Khudiram Bose to Bhagat Singh to Rajguru died with Vande Mataram on their lips.”
Madan Lal Dhingra, inspired by Vande Mataram, shot dead Curzon Wyllie and embraced gallows. Veer Savarkar’s Vande Mataram vow led to him being arrested in England, brought to India, and sentenced to two life-imprisonments before being packed to Andamans.
Sister Nivedita and Bhikaji Cama differed in their own flags about India but didkeep Vande Mataram firmly in its centre.
All across the globe, from Lala Har Dayal’s Gadar Party whose many members greeted each other with the words; to mass of Indians in South Africa who welcomed G.K.Gokhale with this fervent cry, Vande Mataram galvanized millions of Indians at home and abroad for the liberation of the motherland.
It moved Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to say: “Bande Mataram literally means `I salute the motherland’. It is the nearest approach to India’s national anthem.”
Yet, Vande Matram was not destined to be India’s national anthem. All it got was to be the national song of the country, and that too just the first two paragraphs, as the honour went to Janaganamana of Rabindranath Tagore.
It might make no sense to the uninitiated readers as to why Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru thought Vande Mataram couldn’t lend itself to orchestral music or why even before an official decision was taken by the Constituent Assembly of India, Janaganamana was played as a national anthem in the UN General Assembly. Or why India’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad announced Janaganamana as national anthem on January 24, 1950 even before the Constituent Assembly could pass a resolution to this effect.
It might make more sense to readers if they relate the opposition to Vande Mataram by a section of Muslim leaders in today’s India,–on the grounds that it’s an idolatrous prayer–with the one of Muslim League in blood-soaked years of pre-independent India.
Vande Mataram, a part of Bankim Chandra’s celebrated novel Ananda Math, about the Sanyasi Revolt of the 18th century (1763-1800)–against the British East India Company who had just taken a foothold in India with the conquest of Bengal after the Battle of Plassey (1757)–was the battle-cry Congress had championed from the very early days of its inception in 1885..
The Vande Mataram song, which was written at least seven years before Ananda Math was penned in 1882, came into national consciousness due to events in the Barisal province of Bengal. On April 14, 1906, Indian National Congress was to meet at the venue and pledge against the partition of Bengal. A mammoth gathering burnt an effigy of Lord Curzon and rendered the air with the shrieks of Vande Mataram. The District Magistrate promptly put a ban on its singing but unmindful, a procession which had the likes of Surendranath Bannerjee, Sir Bipin Chandra Pal and Sri Aurobindo in the front, took to the streets. Police rained lathis and kicks on the peaceful and unarmed demonstrators.
The poem spread like a wildfire. Secret societies, like the one of Ananda Math, began springing all over the country. Lala Lajpat Rai started a journal called Vande Mataram. Subramaniam Bharati brought out the Tamil verse translation of the song. Vande Mataram even soaked the army in its spirit. Twenty-four young men of the Fourth Madras Coastal Defence Battery were sent to gallows and died singing Vande Mataram.
However, Muslim League opposed Vande Mataram from the very beginning. In its 1908 session, it was deemed sectarian. In 1923, Maulana Mohammed Ali, as the president of Congress, opposed it.
Congress, in conformity with its Muslim-appeasement stance, introduced Mohammad Iqbal’s Hindustan Hamaara. The Muslim leaders wanted Iqbal’s song to replace Vande Mataram. The All-India Muslim League passed resolutions condemning Vande Mataram. The Congress Working Committee in 1937 maimed the song Vande Mataram to just two paras. The Muslim League wasn’t satisfied still. Jinnah asked Nehru in 1938 to completely abandon Vande Mataram. To placate the Muslim League, the Congress decided to allow the singing of a song by Basheer Ahmad, Quran recital as well as a prayer in English in the assembly.
As for Janaaganamana, famous Indologist Dr. Koenraad Elst has this to say:
“Janaganamana itself is controversial because Tagore had allegedly written it in honour of the King of England, George V, the janaganamana adhinayak, master of the people’s minds, and the bharata bhagya vidhata, shaper of India’s destiny, mentioned in the opening line. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence for this, and there is no convincing alternative explanation for the said opening line. In his 1911, Delhi Durbar, George V had annulled the partition of Bengal, conceding a nationalist demand, and that could give this glorification of the king a nationalist twist.”
When a nation is founded on secular lines, implying that religion wouldn’t play a role in its governance, it’s a debatable if national interests or sentiments are decided on the whims of a community. France has put a ban on burqa (veil) in public places. Same is now the stance in Australia. Germany’s Chancellor Angelo Merkel has a similar view and parties in Britain have long called for ban on veils.
However in India, appeasement only ended up vivescating one-third of the undivided India.
Meanwhile, it has kept Bankim Chandra, arguably Bengal’s greatest literary figure, alive to this day. One of the first graduates of Calcutta University, Bankim Chandra became a deputy collector in due course, like his father, Yadav Chandra Chattopadhyaya. He eventually became a deputy magistrate before his retirement in 1891. Three years later, he was dead.
Bankim Chandra was best summed up by Sri Aurobindo in these words: “And when posterity comes to crown with her praises the Makers of India, she will place her most splendid laurel not on the sweating temples of a place-hunting politician, nor on the narrow forehead of a noisy social reformer but on the serene brow of that gracious Bengali who never clamoured for place or power, but did his work in silence for love of his work, even as nature does, and, just because he had no aim but to give out the best that was in him, was able to create a language, a literature and a nation.”
Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee’s death which falls on Friday (June 23, 1953), and which Atal Bihari Vajpayee termed as “Nehru Conspiracy” , was as turbulent as his heroic life.
The founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the precursor to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Dr. Mookerjee had been arrested and kept without medical care in degrading conditions for over a month in Srinagar in May-June 1953 by the Sheikh Abdullah’s J & K government,
Despite his known heart condition which the rarified air of Kashmir didn’t help, Dr. Mookerjee was finally offered the care of a hospital just a couple of days before his death—shifted in a small jeep instead of an ambulance and kept in a gynaecology ward, according to present BJP president Amit Shah–and administered penicillin injection despite his protestations that he was allergic to it, as BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra asserted in a TV show, citing evidence of an eyewitness.
Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru refused to entertain a written appeal of Dr. Mookerjee’s mother for an impartial inquiry as she believed her son’s death was a murder as the family members hadn’t been allowed to meet him during his long confinement—nor his two companions allowed to visit him—apparently illegal for it was done without a formal, legal trial.
Dr. Mookerjee had decided to take on the prevailing political situation in Kashmir where the state not only had its own constitution, it’s own flag but even it’s own Prime Minister (Sheikh Abdullah) whose permission was necessary for other citizens of the country to enter the state! Dr. Mookerjee’s war-cry that “Ek Desh Mein Do Vidhan, Do Pradhan aur Do Nishan Nahin Chalenge” (One nation can’t have two constitutions, two Prime Ministers and two Flags) would resonate for decades to come.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the future Prime Minister, who had partly accompanied Dr. Mookerjee in that fatal march to Srinagar as a journalist, insisted it was a conspiracy to let Dr. Mookerjee enter Srinagar so as he could then be incarcerated and dealt with severely. As Vajpayee was to recall: “later, we came to know that J & K government and Nehru government had entered into a conspiracy, as per which it was decided that Dr. Mookerjee would be allowed to enter J & K but not be allowed to leave.”
Dr. M.S. Gowalkar, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Nagpur, in a premonitory caution, had warned Dr. Mookerjee he was putting his life to risk.
The academicians and historians over the years have provided several clues to Nehru’s antipathy towards Dr. Mookerjee who was his colleague in independent India’s first cabinet as industry minister not long ago.
However, three years into his job as a Union minister, Dr. Mookherjee had resigned on April 8, 1950 against the Nehru-Liaqat Pact. In Indologist Dr. Koenraad Elst’s words, the Pact was an “unequal treaty in which Nehru promised Pakistani Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan not to interfere in the treatment of the minority Hindus across the border, even while the latter were suffering large-scale atrocities in East Bengal.” The Indian part of the Pact didn’t hold water as a stable communal cease-fire had descended on India after the day of Gandhi’s murder.
Dr. Mookerjee was often at crossroads with Indian National Congress (INC) during the Freedom Struggle, including Quit India Movement (1942), which he didn’t support along with the Hindu Mahasabha of which he was a part.
Critics cite it as proof of Dr. Mookerjee and Hindu Mahasabha’s corrosive role in India’s freedom struggle. However a contrary view is that Hindu Mahasabha suspected Congress to have a “Muslim-appeasement policy” with no regard to the concern and well-being of the Hindus. They believed Quit India Movement was no better than a vent to let out the frustrations of Indians and was as phoney as the “non-cooperation” and “civil disobedience” movement. None of these achieved their objectives and were fake movements.
Dr. Mookerjee’s role in the partition of Bengal into West Bengal and East Pakistan is glorious beyond words. When the Muslim League government of Bengal in 1946 had butchered and raped minority Hindus by several thousands during the “Great Calcutta Killings” and “Noakhali Riots” of a genocidal nature, Mookherjee had championed the cause of Bengal partition so as Hindus could be safe in West Bengal rather than be subjected to genocide in East Pakistan. The Bengal Muslim League and its leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy had earlier sought to create an un-partitioned, an independent Bengal state—which won’t be part of either Indiia or Pakistan!!!. Suhrawardy was conscious that with its coal mines and jute mills, as well as Calcutta and its mighty port, would all go to Hindu-majority West Bengal.
The calamity of great Bengal famine of 1943 which cost 38 lakh lives also saw Dr. Mookerjee at his best. He led the Relief Coordination Committee which set up 5000 relief kitchens for famine-stricken people. He had then hit out at Food Minister of Bengal, Suharawardy, and his business friend Ispahani, with these words: “Bengal has not seen greater acts of official crime in its long history.”
Dr. Mookerjee, born on July 6, 1901, was also an illustrious scholar and became vice-chancellor of Calcutta University at the age of 33, like his father Ashutosh Mookerjee once was. Dr. Mookerjee was part of Congress and a member of the Bengal legislative assembly in 20s and 30s. Disillusioned by Congress and its policies against Hindus, he had joined the Hindu Mahasabha in 1939.
Dr. Mookerjee’s speech at Banaras Hindu University in 1940 is still relevant today:
“If I have understood the history of my country alright, a pacifism that refuses to take up arms against injustice and makes one a passive spectator of oppression and aggression, does not represent the real teaching of India…
“Disruptive forces are at work within the country itself…A divided India was always a prey to the foreign invader from the days of Alexander and Mahmud of Ghazni to those of Vasco de Gama, Dupleix and Clive.
“There is much disharmony and disunity in India today. Communal differences have taken such an acute turn that fanatic claims for the vivisection of our Motherland are widely asserted.”
These words ring a bell even today.
So we read this comic-tragic news the other day that Rahul Gandhi is reading Bhagwad Gita and Upanashids to counter Rashtriya Swayam Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in his political battle. (So, at least he has moved from the “RSS killed Gandhi” platform).
It’s comical for Bhagwad Gita and Upanishids are meant for self-advancement in the realm of spirituality. It’s not for debating points. It’s tragic because this bachelor wants to lead India’s destiny without the slightest idea of its heritage.
Rahul is free to follow the religion or philosophy of his liking. But it isn’t too smart for him to show his ignorance. It betrays how little initiation in country’s heritage he has had, both at his home or in the schools he went.
It’s an educated guess that Sonia Gandhi, and by inference her husband late Raajiv Gandhi, has had little appreciation of India’s sacred texts. Indira Gandhi probably carried the indifference of her father Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru who was scornful of India’s cultural traditions.
It’s fair to argue that a political leader shouldn’t align himself with any religion in a country of many faiths so as to appear unbiased. But Bhagwad Gita is about Dharma—and not religion. Dharma advocates the righteous way for an individual which the Western colonists cleverly implied it with religion. You were thus forced to be ambivalent about your own glorious past lest you appeared communal and non-secular.
This heinous ploy by the West did two things: One, it helped create a republic where in the name of “secularism” India was made to appear shameful if it owned up its magnificent past. Two, it helped to put one community against the other. A weak India is what the West has always wanted.
Rahul Gandhi displays a typically “colonized mind.” Swami Vivekananda mirrored such individuals of confused identity succinctly:
“The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth, that all the sacred books are lies! By the time he is sixteen, he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless.”
India suffered terribly at the hands of Muslims invaders and British colonizers. But there was a difference. Muslim rulers did coerce locals to take up Islam. However, they never tried to control Indians’ mind. British were more sinister. From the start, they set about systematically denigrating India’s past, its achievements, its’ scriptures and customs. They introduced the fake Aryan Invasion Theory. And courtesy the Macaulay Doctrine, they set about wiping out the land’s own heritage with its monstrous education policy. Today, before knowing anything about India, the children recite “Humpty-Dumpty” in front of doting parents. Higher education is no different. As celebrated Indologist Michel Danino writes :
“There is no mention of India’s seminal achievements: the decimal place-value system; that the so-called Gregory series, Pell’s equation or the fundamentals of combinatorics were anticipated by several centuries by Indian mathematicians of the Siddhantic period; or that Indian astronomers of the same era had developed powerful algorithms that enabled them to calculate planetary positions and the occurrences of eclipses with an excellent degree of precision.
“It is equally hard to accept that medical students should know nothing of Indian systems of medicine such as Aryuveda or Siddha, of proven efficacy for a wide range of disorders and even serious diseases.
“If the topic is psychology, the Western variety alone will be taken up, completely eclipsing the far deeper psychological system offered by yoga.
“Water harvesting is taught as if it were a new contribution from the West, even if it was widely practiced from Harappan times onward.
“One could go on (in the same manner) with metallurgy, chemistry, textiles, transport and a host of other technologies.”
It is no wonder that any attempt to revise school books is met with serious opposition today. Indian languages are called “vernacular” whose root meaning is `belonging to native slave.’
A few years ago, State education ministers would have nothing to do with the merest suggestion of Indian culture into the curriculum. As Ananda Coomaraswamy, who opposed the prevalent education system vehemently in the 20th century, wrote:
“It’s hard to realize how completely the continuity of Indian life has been severed. A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprive of all roots—a sort of intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or the West, the past or the future…of all Indian problems the educational is the most difficult and most tragic.”
So it has come to pass that Rahul Gandhi could nonchalantly betray his lack of connection with Indian roots and isn’t shamed for his ignorance. Those who could shame him—the intelligentsia, media, academics—won’t do because they are themselves a mirror image. He is studying Bhagwad Gita and Upanishad to fight a political battle!!! This is what you say, a Paradise Lost.
Kapil Sibal, former telecom minister in the UPA government, in an Oped article in Times of India (May 2, 2017) today, has urged “Asli Hindus” to distance themselves from Hindutva which, in his view, is nothing but fundamentalism in the name of Hinduism and mirrors intolerance, casteism and a sedition-happy government.
The trouble is Sibal saying so is like the devil quoting from the scriptures. He was the father of the notorious amended 66A section of the IT Act under UPA which could land anyone in jail for three years for “offensive” tweets. Anyone arrested had to apply for a bail under this cognizable offence.
The need for this draconian measure was to crush dissent against the corruption in the UPA government. A Jadavpur University Professor, Ambikesh Mohapatra, was arrested in April 2011 for merely forwarding on email a cartoon on Mamata Banerjee. Similarly, cartoonist Assem Trivedi, in solidarity with Anna Hazare’s crusade against corruption, was arrested and had to shut-down his website.
This was like an Emergency; a true muzzling of freedom of speech and expression. In the end, Supreme Court had to step in and squash the amended 66A Act, terming it “unconstitutional.”
This “unconstitutional” move went all the way up to your door, Mr. Sibal. It isn’t like Una, Dadri or Alwar where Modi government is being dragged for no role of their own.
Indeed, such outrageous were your moves and utterances as a minister, that Supreme Court had to intervene once again and bring the guilty to book. I of course am referring to the 2G Scam. It was you, as telecom minister, who rubbished all the investigations under the 2G spectrum scam, be it of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), CBI, Justice Shivraj Patil report, or by the one of telecom regulator, TRAI. You even made the absurd claim that your predecessor A. Raja’s spectrum allocation in 2008 caused no loss to the exchequer!!! It was only after Supreme Court bristled in anger that you had to buckle down. It’s a reminder to you readers that 2G scam was worth 170,000 crores.
After such a “distinguished” record as one against the dissent or contempt for authorities such as CAG and TRAI, don’t you think your moral stances are a little facile? Do I need to remind you of the “intolerance” of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru against iconic poet Majrooh Sultanpuri who was put behind bars in Arthur Jail Road in Mumbai for a year for a rebellious poem penned by him? The poem went something like this:
“Aman kaa jhandaa is dharti pe
kisney kahaa lahraane na paae
ye bhii koii Hitler kaa hai chelaa,
maar le saathii, jaane na paae!
Commonwealth ka daas hai Nehru
maar le saathii jaane na paae!”
(Who has stopped the flag of peace from blowing in the air on this land? Is this someone a disciple of Hitler and we must not let him get away with this. Nehru is no better than a slave of Commonwealth and he ought not to be allowed to get away with it).
Do I need to remind you of the number of sedition cases which were filed while UPA was in centre? Or films which were banned by Congress? And who amended Article 19 (I) to rob people further of their freedom of speech?
This “freedom of speech” and “intolerance” nonsense against the Modi government which is being used to put them in a corner on the Hindutva issue isn’t cutting much ice with the voters of this country. “Asli Hindus” aren’t willing to be drugged any further by anti-India left-liberal-media factions. Newspapers like Times of India could reserve the best space in its edition for your harangues but trust me the people of this country don’t give a damn. Divide and rule won’t work in today’s India.
The other day, having a conversation with a senior Congress leader, I smelled the smoke of a pyre that has burnt itself out. Skin, veins, eyes, organs, blood all reduced to ashes; dying embers long dead. Yet here was this man, almost a ghost, preening on his party’s excellent future.