The corpse was clad in white dhoti and golden silk kurta. At 2.30 p.m., it was brought from Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences to 9 Motilal Nehru Marg. P.V. Narasimha Rao, prime minister of India from 1991 to1996, had died at around 11 a.m., 23 December 2004. The doctors had needed a couple of hours to dress the body before sending it back home.
One of the first people to arrive at Rao’s house was Chandraswami, the bearded guru who had known him since 1971. Also present were his eight sons and daughters —whom he had kept at a distance — as well as the nephews and grandchildren he had been closer to. Eldest son, Ranga Rao — who had fought bitterly with his father — inconsolable.
Then began the politics.
The home minister, Shivraj Patil, suggested to Rao’s youngest son, Prabhakara, that ‘the body should be cremated in Hyderabad’. But the family preferred Delhi. After all, Rao had last been chief minister of Andhra Pradesh more than thirty years ago, and had since worked as Congress general secretary, Union minister, and finally primeminister — all in Delhi. On hearing this, the usually decorous Shivraj Patil snapped, ‘No one will come.’
Kashmiri Congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad, another aide of party president Sonia Gandhi, arrived. He too requested the family to move the body to Hyderabad. An hour later, Prabhakara received a call on his mobile phone. It was Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Congress chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and no friend of Narasimha Rao’s. ‘I just heard about it,’ Reddy said, ‘I am near Anantapur, and I’ll be in Delhi by this evening. Take it from me. We will give him a grand funeral [in Hyderabad].’
At 6.30 p.m., Sonia Gandhi entered the house in Motilal Nehru Marg, named after her great-grandfather-in-law. Prime minister Manmohan Singh followed, along with Pranab Mukherjee. They walked through the long corridor to the room at the end where Rao’s body, now decked in flowers, was displayed. ‘What do you want to do with the body?’ the prime minister asked Prabhakara. ‘These people say it should be inHyderabad.’ ‘This [Delhi] is his karmabhoomi,’ Prabhakara replied, ‘you should convince your Cabinet colleagues.’ Manmohan nodded. Sonia Gandhi was standing nearby. She said little.
The journalist Sanjaya Baru arrived. His bureaucrat father knew Rao from the 1960s. As Baru entered the corridor, Sonia’s political secretary tapped him on the shoulder. ‘You know the family,’ Ahmed Patel said. ‘The body should be taken to Hyderabad. Can you convince them?’ Baru continued walking towards the end of the corridor, when he heard someone cry. He turned left to see Kalyani Shankar sobbing in a sideroom. Kalyani had been Rao’s most trusted friend for the last two decades.
Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy had by now reached Delhi. ‘It is our government, trust me,’ he told Rao’s family. ‘Let him be moved to Hyderabad. We will build a grand memorial for him there.’ Rao’s daughter S. Vani Devi says, ‘YSR was playing a major role in convincing [the] family to get the dead body to Hyderabad.’
The family wanted a commitment that a memorial would be built for Rao in Delhi. The Congress leaders present said yes. But considering how the party had treated Rao in his retirement, the family wanted to make doubly sure. At 9.30 p.m., they paid a visit to the one man who had stood by Narasimha Rao in the last years of his life. Manmohan Singh was wearing his nightdress, a white kurta-pyjama, when Rao’s family met him at his official residence on Race Course Road. When Shivraj Patil explained the demand for a memorial in Delhi, Manmohan replied, ‘No problem, we will do it.’ Prabhakara recalls, ‘We sensed even then that Sonia-ji did not want Father’s funeral in Delhi. She did not want a memorial [in Delhi] . . . She did not want him [to be seen] as an all-India leader . . . [But] there was pressure.’
The next day, 24 December 2004, leaders from across the political spectrum —from communists to BJP leaders — all came to pay their respects. At 10 a.m., the body was draped in the national flag, put on a flower-decked carriage pulled by an army vehicle, and escorted by military personnel in a slow procession towards the airport. Along the way, they planned to stop at 24 Akbar Road, the Congress party headquarters. Ever since Narasimha Rao had first moved into 9, Motilal Nehru Marg in 1980, he had made this journey countless times.
As the body approached 24 Akbar Road, located adjacent to Sonia Gandhi’s residence, the funeral procession slowed. The entrance gate to the compound looked firmly shut. There were several senior Congressmen present, but hardly any cadres had been rustled up. No slogans filled the air, just deathly silence. The carriage stopped on the pavement outside, as Sonia Gandhi and others came out to pay their respects.
It was customary for the bodies of past Congress presidents to be taken inside the party headquarters so that ordinary workers could pay their respects. The family was somewhat dazed when this did not happen. A friend of Rao’s asked a senior Congresswoman to let the body in. ‘The gate does not open,’ she replied. ‘This was untrue,’ the friend remembers.‘When Madhavrao Scindia died [some years earlier] the gate was opened for him.’ Manmohan Singh now lives in a guarded bungalow a few minutes from Akbar Road. When asked why Rao’s body wasn’t allowed into the Congress headquarters, he replies that he was present, but has no knowledge of this. Another Congressman is more forthcoming. ‘We were expecting the gate to be opened . . . but no order came. Only one person could give that order.’
He adds, ‘She did not give it.’
Source : Swarajya
The original lyrics of Raghupati Raghava Rajaaram are attributed to Sri Lakshamanacharya ; This Ram Dhun was later edited and popularised by Sri M.K.Gandhi; This was widely attributed to his attempts to bring about reconciliation but it is anybody’s guess how many Muslims would have actually sung this. Compare this with the confusion that it brought about in the minds of Hindus.
Hailing from Tamil Nadu, he was born to parents Raghupathy Iyer and Rukmani Ammal in Shenkottai (then part of the Travancore Kingdom) as Shankaran Iyer in the year 1886. He completed his schooling and higher education in Shenkottai .
Vanchi is notable as being one among the first and prominent Tamils who took part in the struggle for freedom and in some instances initiated the fight against the British Raj.
While working in Travancore, he came under the influence of many nationalists like V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Neelakanta Brahmachari, Subramaniya Siva and Subramaniya Bharathi. They were his mentors and together they belonged to the Bharatha Matha Assocation (1900).
Robert William Ashe was the collector and district magistrate of Tirunelvelli district in year 1911. He was engaged in activities that were largely favourable to the ruling British class , ignoring and ensuring that the interests of the locals are never addressed nor issues pertaining to them redressed. He is also accused of propagating missionary activities of forcible conversion. Ashe was also instrumental in working against V. O. Chidambaram Pillai’s shipping company (established as the first indigenous Bharatiya shipping company between Tuticorin and Colombo) which led to its liquidation, and later in Pillai’s arrest.
On 17th June 1911, the Maniyachi Mail left Tirunulvelli Junction for Maniyachi with Ashe and his wife Mary Lillian Patterson aboard. They were on their way to Kodaikanal with their four children. At 10:38 AM the train pulled in at Maniyachi. The Ceylon Boat Mail was due to arrive at 10:48 AM. As the Ashes sat facing each other in the first class carriage, waiting for the Boat Mail to arrive, a neatly dressed man with tufted hair boarded the carriage and pulled out a Belgian made Browning pistol and shot Ashe at point blank range in the chest. The bullet hit Ashe and he immediately collapsed. Vanchi ran along the platform and took cover. After some time he was found dead having pulled the trigger in his mouth. The pistol was found to be empty, indicating his intention to shoot only Ashe and himself and nobody else, not even Ashe’s wife.
A letter with the below words was recovered from his pocket,
The mlechas of England having captured our country, tread over the sanathana dharma of the Hindus and destroy them. Every Indian is trying to drive out the English and get swarajyam and restore sanathana dharma. Our Raman, Sivaji, Krishnan, Guru Govindan, Arjuna ruled our land protecting all dharmas and in this land they are making arrangements to crown George V, a mlecha, and one who eats the flesh of cows. Three thousand Madrasees have taken a vow to kill George V as soon as he lands in our country. In order to make others know our intention, I who am the least in the company, have done this deed this day. This is what everyone in Hindustan should consider it as his duty. –
sd/-, R. Vanchi Aiyar, Shencottah
The letter clearly indicates the motive behind the assassination was the removal of English mlechas (who eat the flesh of cow) who were destroying Sanatana Dharma. This clearly goes parallel with the common statement, “Poisonous weeds have to be removed at the earliest or else they could prove to be fatal.”
This brave and selfless act of Vanchi acted as the much needed adrenaline rush for Bharat’s independence movement. The assassination and contents of the letter caused great apprehension and unrest.
Ashe was the first and only colonial British officer to be assassinated in Dakshin Bharat throughout the freedom movement. The British were left shocked and rattled by this incident.
The Maniyachi Railway station was later renamed as Vanchi Maniyachi station. But it is greatly sad and shameful that this is the best act of secular government of Bharat to recognize the brave act of Vanchi and that this is the highest honour given to his bravery. And it is immensely angering that even this little gesture has become a thorn in the flesh of Dravidians and evangelists. It is unfortunately being used as a catalyst by #BreakingIndia forces to fulfil their agenda by demoralizing and demeaning Bharat’s history and belittling the valour of our brave heroes.
One such dangerous trend started by them is to brand nationalists from upper castes as casteists forgetting their contributions and sacrifices – this can be equated to the insult of our army jawans fighting to safeguard our borders. Falsified stores are being spread to tarnish the image of these brave warriors. One such illogical story is currently being floated around by the Periyar followers of Tamil Nadu where Ashe is eulogized as the champion of downtrodden people.
According to this fantastic spin, Ashe apparently angered Vanchinathan by taking a poor woman in labour pains to hospital via driving through agraharam. Yes, agraharam, the area around the temple where Brahmins live. Since Vanchi supposedly had so much hatred towards the lower castes, this is the reason for him assassinating Ashe.
Now this story is not only ridiculous but also completely devoid of any sense and logic. Ashe was a tax collector for the district of Tirunelvelli in the Madras Presidency, which was under British rule. Shenkottai was in Travancore state (a sovereign state). It can be clearly seen that Ashe had no business whatsoever to be in Travancore. Even if for argument’s sake we accept this falsified theory, geographical location and the city’s plan do not support this theory. In Shenkottai, the agraharam was located in a remote area outside the town. Now why would Ashe drive a woman in labour pain through the remote agraharam outside the town to the hospital inside the town? This clearly shows the baseless allegations made by these sectarian groups to tarnish the image of our freedom fighters.
Are we going to stay silent and let these fringe groups hijack the achievements and sacrifices of our freedom fighters by sullying their names with ulterior motive to break Bharat on the lines of caste? If no, then it’s high time we started teaching our children the real history which has always been ignored in our school.
Note: This article first appeared at https://madrasmamiblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/vanchinathan-remembering-the-great-hero-on-his-106th-death-anniversary/ and is being republished here with the permission of the author
Harappan site of Rakhigarhi: DNA study finds no Central Asian trace, junks Aryan invasion theory
The Aryan invasion theory holds forth that a set of migrants came from Central Asia armed with superior knowledge and arms and invaded the existing settlements to establish a more sophisticated civilisation in India and pushed the original inhabitants down south.
The much-awaited DNA study of the skeletal remains found at the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi, Haryana, shows no Central Asian trace, indicating the Aryan invasion theory was flawed and Vedic evolution was through indigenous people.
The lead researchers of this soon-to be published study — Vasant Shinde and Neeraj Rai — told ET that this establishes the knowledge ecosystem in the Vedic era was guided by “fully indigenous” people with limited “external contact”.
“The Rakhigarhi human DNA clearly shows a predominant local element — the mitochondrial DNA is very strong in it. There is some minor foreign element which shows some mixing up with a foreign population, but the DNA is clearly local,” Shinde told ET. He went on to add: “This indicates quite clearly, through archeological data, that the Vedic era that followed was a fully indigenous period with some external contact.”
According to Shinde’s findings, the manner of burial is quite similar to the early Vedic period, also known as the Rigvedic Era. The pottery, the brick type used for construction and the general ‘good health’ of the people ascertained through the skeletal remains in Rakhigarhi, he said, pointed to a well-developed knowledge system that evolved further into the Vedic era. The study has, in fact, noted that some burial rituals observed in the Rakhigarhi necropolis prevail even now in some communities, showing a remarkable continuity over thousands of years.
Shinde, who is the vice-chancellor of the Deccan College, Pune, was the lead archaeologist in the study while Rai, who is the head of the ancient DNA laboratory at Lucknow’s Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, did the DNA study.
MINOR TRACES OF IRANIAN STRAINS
According to Rai, the evidence points to a predominantly indigenous culture that voluntarily spread across other areas, not displaced or overrun by an Aryan invasion. “The condition of the human skeletons, the burial…all show absence of palaeo-pathology symptoms which could indicate ailments due to lack of medical care. The persons here were healthy; denture morphology showed teeth free of any infection; bones are healthy, as is the cranium,” Rai told ET.
He also discounted the notion of any violent conflict. “There are no cuts and marks which would be associated with a population subjected to warfare. All this indicates that the people were receiving well-developed healthcare and had full-fledged knowledge systems.” The excavations in Rigvedic phase, he said, corroborate this. “This points to greater continuity rather than to a new Aryan race descending and bringing superiorknowledge systems to the region,” Rai said.
The Rakhigarhi study, he said, while showing absence of any Central Asian/Steppe element in the genetic make-up of the Harappan people, does indicate minor traces of Iranian strains which may point to contact, not invasion.
The Aryan invasion theory holds forth that a set of migrants came from Central Asia armed with superior knowledge and arms and invaded the existing settlements to establish a more sophisticated civilisation in India and pushed the original inhabitants down south. Rakhigarhi is one of the biggest Harappan civilisation sites spread across 300 hectares in Hisar, Haryana. It’s estimated to be 6,000 years old and was part of the mature phase of the Harappan period.
Rai disclosed that 148 independent skeletal elements from Rakhigarhi were screened for the presence of DNA molecules at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad. Of the 148 skeletal remains, only two samples yielded any relevant DNA material.
Meanwhile, hectic last-minute efforts are on to get additional genetic details of the DNA material. One of the DNA samples recently faced contamination in a Seoul laboratory and efforts are on to segregate it. Samples were sent to laboratories in Seoul and Harvard for establishing accuracy. The contamination, Rai said, is unlikely to have any major bearing on the study’s primary findings.