Category Archives: Nation

Dr. Mohan ji Bhagwat’s address on the occasion of Vijayadashami Yugabdi 5122 ( 2020)

Address by Param Poojaniya Sarsanghchalak Dr. Shri Mohan ji Bhagwat on the occasion of Sri Vijayadashami Utsav 2020 (Sunday, October 25, 2020).

We are all aware that this Vijayadashami the celebrations are restrained in terms of numbers. We are also aware of the cause. To prevent community spread of Corona virus social gatherings are restricted .

Since March the talk about Corona pandemic has shadowed all other talk about developments across the world. Many noteworthy incidents took place between the last Vijayadashami and now. With due observance of parliamentary procedure Article 370 was abrogated well before the Vijayadashami 2019.

After Diwali, on November 9, 2019, the Hon. Supreme Court passed an unambiguous, verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi case, thereby making a historical judgment. The exemplary patience and understanding of Bharatiya people regarding this judgment became evident in the restraint along with piety and festive fervour displayed on August 5 in Ayodhya at the bhoomipujan and shilanyas samaroh of the soon-to-be constructed Ram Mandir there.

The Citizenship Amendment Act was lawfully passed in the Parliament as per the due constitutional process. This law envisaged expediting the process of granting citizenship to our brothers and sisters who face discrimination and persecution in some of the neighbouring countries and are displaced to seek refuge in our country. These countries have a history of religious persecution against minorities. This amendment in the Citizenship Act does not oppose any particular religious community. The constitutional provisions for granting citizenship to foreigners who come to Bharat continue to be the same. But those who wanted to oppose this new law misled our Muslim brothers by propagating a false notion that it was aimed at restricting the Muslim population. Opportunists took advantage of this delicate situation by unleashing organised violence and causing social unrest in the name of protests. As a consequence, a tense atmosphere was created in the country that put our communal harmony at stake. Even before something could be thought out and done to resolve the situation the Corona pandemic crept in and gradually took hold. In the background, the efforts by rioters and opportunists to reignite the conflict still continue. It is not making a mark on the collective consciousness or garnering headlines in publications other than the ones that fuel such activities because of the overwhelming discussions of Corona in the media.

The scenario is common throughout the world. In comparison to many countries, Bharat stood strong in the face of adversity and dealt with the calamity effectively. There are some reasons why we escaped Corona debilitation that few countries could not. Our governing and administrative agencies promptly sprung up in action. They cautioned citizens, created emergency task forces and efficiently implemented control measures. The media monotonously aired news on just this issue. While this exercise created an atmosphere of disproportionate fear among the common man it also compelled the society to exercise caution and restrain by obeying rules. Government officials, medical practitioners practising different forms of medicine, police officers, municipality workers and cleaners displayed an extraordinary sense of responsibility by dedicatedly serving the infected patients. Maintaining social distance with their own family members, these warriors, risking their lives, embraced the death-scare posed by the virus and bravely stood at the frontline in this war round the clock. Citizens of the country too mobilised private resources and left no stone unturned in offering all possible help their fellow beings needed. While even in these testing times, the tendency to exploit the drawback of the needy to one’s own advantage surfaced here and there, the larger picture was that of sensitivity, cooperation and mutual trust between governmental administrative agencies and society. The women-folk also propelled in action with self-motivation. Those who were displaced owing to the pandemic or the ones who lost jobs and faced misfortune and hunger faced difficulties while remaining patient and tolerant all along. In fact, many anecdotes of people ignoring their own troubles and stepping up to help others came to the fore. Ferrying the state migrants back to their homelands, arranging for food and resting spots on the way, delivering food and medicines at the doorstep of the sick or needy, great efforts were jointly made by the entire society to cater to such critical needs. By setting the example of unity and sensitivity, our society displayed a larger set of service activities in response to the quantum of the Herculean problem. Many of our traditional habits pertaining to cleanliness and hygiene, healthy lifestyle and strengthening immunity with the science of Ayurveda also proved to be useful in this period. Homogeneity and unity of the society, deep compassion and cooperation during difficult times- all aspects that make up for what is called the social capital were experienced during this time, reflecting our centuries-old cultural ethos. For many, the kind of patience, collectivism and self-confidence experienced was a first since Independence. I respectfully bow to all the volunteers who are known and unknown, those who are alive and who laid their lives for service, medical practitioners, municipality workers and all other agents of service from different sections of the society. They are all admirable. Our sincere homage in the holy remembrance of all those who sacrificed their lives.To emerge from the current scenario a different kind of Sewa initiative is required. Restarting educational institutions, compensating teachers, resending students to their schools and colleges while paying a fee for the same, these tasks are arduous. Schools that stopped receiving funds cannot afford to pay their teachers. Guardians who lost their jobs or shut businesses are in a fix as they do not have funds for their ward’s fee. We will have to devise service assistance to ensure the opening of schools, paying teachers’ salaries and students’ education. Displacement left many unemployed. Failing to find alternate sources of employment they are compelled to explore other sectors. Getting employment in a new sector mandates prior training. These are the problems facing the displaced today. Finding a replacement for the migrant workers to complete the pending tasks that were abandoned halfway is becoming a challenge too. Therefore creating employment opportunities and providing training to the unskilled is essential. In cases where families are facing such deprivation, stress creeps up in the households. To prevent negative dispositions like crime, depression and suicide there is an extensive need of counselling and support services at this time.

Since March Sangh swayamsevaks are working to fill the gaps wherever needed in this difficult backdrop. They will also make wholehearted contributions in the new Sewa initiatives enumerated above. I am hopeful that other members of the society will also decipher the need for persistent long-term efforts and make needful contributions.The world does not have a complete understanding of the virus. It is a transmutable pathogen that is rapidly communicable, but its virulence is low – this much we have come to understand. Therefore, safeguarding oneself from this pathogen for a longer time is essential. At the same time, while working to find the remedy to the social and economic challenges posed by it on our fellow beings will be the long-term focus. While we must not let fear cripple us, we need to proceed cautiously and strategically. With the social life nearing normalcy, complying with the rules and motivating others to do the same is our moral responsibility.Many other facets of our society became apparent during the battle against this pandemic. A shift in favour of introspective thinking is trending across the world. The phrase “new-normal” often comes up in conversations. The corona pandemic has brought lives to a total and complete standstill, forcing curtailment of several activities that man went about mechanically earlier. An evaluation of the merits of those activities made it apparent that the superficial practices that had invaded human life were unnecessary, while the essential ones comprised the heart of life in these times. Some activities though watered down did not fully fade. Within one week of lockdown, we noticed a marked difference in the quality of the air we breathe. Water bodies like rivers, springs and ponds cleared up and clean waters began flowing out. Bird songs tinkled human memory again as the birds and other creatures were audible in neighbourhood parks and open urban spaces. In the rush towards amassing wealth and consuming more, we alienated ourselves from certain basic life functions which during this time of need fell back on our plate and added meaning and joy to life. We have become mindful of the value of some virtues. The corona pandemic has bestowed the wisdom to differentiate regular from irregular and eternal from temporary upon all of humanity. With many families actively deliberating sustainable lifestyles compatible with the time and space and the ways to transition into those, people have become acutely aware of the merit of cultural ethos. Humans have once again realised the importance of family systems and the need for harmonious coexistence with nature.Whether these realisations are merely side effects of the pandemic breakout or has humanity actually shifted its stance in these matters, will be answered in time. However, one thing is clear that this calamity has played the role of that magnet which has attracted all human consciousness to the vital life values.Until recently the philosophy of integrating the world on the basis of the market forces dominated human imagination but with the latest turn of events, the idea of safeguarding life and exercising international cooperation by promoting unique strengths and assets of each country is an idea that has started to take shape in the global mind. The philosophy of ‘Swadeshi’ has trumped once again. It is time to redefine these adages in view of the current Bhartiya context and to rebuild paths that will lead us back to our time-tested values and traditions.

China’s role in the breakout of this pandemic may be disputable but its misuse of their riches by unleashing terror on the borders of Bharat and boisterous efforts to invade our territories are well-known to the whole world. Bharatiya defence forces, government and the people remained unfazed and responded sharply to this attack. This example of a strong resolution, exercising self-respect and bravery has stunned China. Going further we must be watchful and remain firm. Even in the past, the world has time and again witnessed China’s expansionist attitude. Rising above China economically, strategically, in securing cooperative ties with our neighbours and at international relations is the only way to neutralise those demonic aspirations. The policies proposed by our leaders seem to be charting those very horizons. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar (Bhramadesh)- such neighbouring countries have shared a friendly bond with us and are more or less aligned over issues of values and ethical code with us. We must now pace up our efforts to secure cooperative bonds with these countries. The impediments in this journey like the differences of opinions, conflicted issues and old grouses must be settled sooner than later.We intend to be friendly with all. This is our nature. But mistaking our benevolence for weakness and attempts to disintegrate or weaken us by sheer brute force is unacceptable. Our reckless detractors should know this by now. The indestructible patriots of Bharat Mata and their formidable valour, leaders with a sense of self-respect and the indomitable ethical-patience of the citizens should have sent a loud and clear message to China. This must compel it to reform its attitude but if push comes to shove we will not fall short of alertness, firmness and readiness, this resolve is clear among our countrymen. External threats to the country’s safety and sovereignty is not the only call for our vigilance. A careful analysis of many of last year’s internal events also demand alertness, understanding and harmony in the society and preparedness of governmental agencies and national leadership. Push and pull for power on the part of those out of it is intrinsic to the democratic political process, however, exercising discretion to see political competition for what it is and not as a bloody battle between enemies is pivotal. Healthy competition is always welcome, but the competition that morphs into hatred, bitterness and animosity that weakens the social fabric is unwarranted. Forces that see opportunity in rifts among competitors, that wish to weaken and fragment Bharat, that have long projected our diversity as differences and insinuated people into unfortunate scrimmages over old disagreements resulting in formidable struggles are very much prevalent in the world and active in Bharat. They should not be given that opportunity by us. The government agencies should seek cooperation of people to immediately nab and severely punish the culprits if incidents of crime and violence continue to occur in the society despite measures to curtail those and attempts of total restrain on criminal and violent tendencies. We must see to it that our actions do not create any opportunities for them. To ensure this, our reactions to government decisions or expressions of discontent must heed national integrity. We should be sensitive towards people of all religions, regions, castes and linguistic backgrounds and conduct ourselves within constitutionally warranted limits. Unfortunately, those misaligned with or opposed to our socio-cultural values have, while professing to be the champions of democracy, constitution and secularism, continued to fool and confuse the people of our country. In his August 29, 1949 address to the Constituent Assembly, Revered Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar used the phrase “grammar of anarchy” to describe the actions of such elements. We have to learn to identify such disguised elements and defuse their conspiracies by alarming and alerting our brothers and sisters so that they can not be shepherded away by such predators.To avoid this type of confusion about the Sangh, realising Sangh’s preference for a specific vocabulary and how it interprets certain popular terms is crucial. Hindutva is one such term. Its meaning has been distorted by appending a ritualistic connotation to it. Sangh does not use it to refer to this misconception. To us, it is the word expressing our identity along with the continuity of its spirituality based traditions and its entire wealth of value system in the land of Bharat. Therefore Sangh believes that it is the word applicable to all the 1.3 billion people who call themselves the sons and daughters of Bharatvarsh, whose everyday life is a striving toward an alignment with its moral and ethical code and who are proud of the heritage of their ancestors who successfully traversed the same spiritual landscape since time immemorial. Being oblivious to the true meaning of this term weakens the thread that integrates us with this country and society. It is for this reason that this term is the first target of castigation by those who instigate intergroup conflicts, who are bent on splitting our country and society. They by presenting as separate, our diversities which are traditionally accepted, respected and are a part of larger scope of Hindu philosophy in reality, try to convert them into a source of alienation or separatism. ‘Hindu’ is not the name of some sect or denomination, it is not a provincial conceptualisation, it is neither a single caste’s lineage nor the privilege of the speakers of a specific language. It is that psychological common denominator whose vast courtyard cradled human civilisation, that which honours and encompasses innumerable distinct identities. There may be some who have an objection in accepting this term. We do not object their using other words if the content in their mind is the same. However, in the interest of the country’s integrity and security Sangh has over the years humbly assimilated the colloquial and the global interpretations of the term Hindu. When Sangh says Hindusthan is Hindu Rashtra it does not have any political or power centered concept in its mind. Hindutva is the essence of this Rashtra’s ‘Swa’(self-hood). We are plainly acknowledging the selfhood of the country as Hindu because all our socio-cultural practices are directed by its principles with their spirit percolating in the personal, familial, professional and social life of each one of us. Circumambulating the emotional ambit of this view of life does not require giving up one’s faith, language, land or any other identity marker. It only mandates an abandonment of the quest for supremacy. One has only to be alert and keep away from the selfish and hateful forces who confuse and instigate people by showing them false dreams of supremacy, encourage radicalism and foster separatism.The deplorable attempts to disintegrate the unity that has perpetually remained an inextricable part of the diversity of Bharat by making false promises and by creating hate amongst scheduled-castes, scheduled-tribes and the so called minorities of our country are underway. Members of this conspiratorial gang instigate and promote slogans like “Bharat tere tukde honge” (Bharat will be disintegrated). An unusual blend of political interest, separatist and fundamentalist tendencies, a hatred of Bharat and a quest for global domination is working to dampen Bharatiya unity. We will have to patiently proceed with a deep understanding of the matter. While remaining free from the influence of these forces we must focus on integrating our society through peaceful means, in obeisance of our constitution. If we exercise self-control, remain balanced and keep each other’s best interest in mind then an environment of mutual trust can prevail which will aid in the resolution of old conflicts; while the mistrust that stems from contradictory behaviours would make the solutions seem unattainable and problems unfathomable. Reactionary and fearful stance and unreasonable opposition lead to uncontrolled violence and the gulf separating the people widens.To be able to increase the atmosphere of faith in each other and friendliness, restraint and patience we all need to accept and embrace the truth of our larger and shared identity. Our actions cannot waver in time following a political cost-benefit calibration. Bharatiya cannot be extricated from Bharat. All attempts at doing this have always failed, we have many testaments before us to prove so. It is the time to realise that our instinct for emancipation is nudging us all to integrate with a single sentiment. Acknowledgement of the fact that the emotional spirit of Bharat, its acceptance for and support to multiple belief systems and faiths, is a byproduct of the Hindu culture, traditions and Hindu practice of not just tolerance but acceptance and respect of all, is the need of the hour.

 The word ‘Hindu,’ features in almost every statement of Sangh, yet it is being discussed here because several related terms have gained popularity in the recent past. ‘Swadeshi’ is one such word which is oft-discussed nowadays. The ‘Swa’ or ‘self’ here refers to the same Hindutva. That very eternal philosophy underlying our tolerant and accepting nature which was hailed by Swami Vivekananda on the land of America referring to all people as brothers and sisters, meaning parts of a single unit or family. Poet laureate, Shri Rabindra Nath Thakur also clearly emphasised a philosophical foundation for the Bharatiya revival based on this very concept in his essay ‘Swadeshi Samaj.’ Shri Aurobindo proclaimed it in his Uttarpara address. The introspections and contemplations conducted by our society after 1857 and the experiences of the exercises conducted by several national bodies are encased in the Preamble to our Constitution which embodies the same spirit of Bharat. That spirit or ‘swa’ should be the compass directing our intellectual brainstorming and plans of action. It should be the light that illuminates the directions, aspirations and expectations of our country’s collective consciousness.

The results of our efforts in the physical plane and their consequences should be in accordance with this principle. Then and only then will Bharat qualify as self – reliant. Places for production, the workforce that is involved in the production process, economic benefits emanating from sales of the production and the rights of production must be in our national control. But this alone does not qualify as Swadeshi methodology. Shri Vinoba Bhave ji identified a combination of self-reliance and non-violence as Swadeshi. Late Shri Dattopant Thengadi ji claimed Swadeshi cuts beyond goods and services and stands for attaining a position of international cooperation by achieving national self-reliance, sovereignty and parity. So to achieve financial independence in the future and attain a position of international cooperation we are open to foreign investors and give relaxations to companies offering newer technologies, provided they engage on our terms and mutually agreeable conditions. But such a decision has to be based on mutual consensus.In self-reliance, dependence on self is intended.

Our vision decides our destination and our path. Even we attain a prime position by following the same wasteful exertions that the rest of the world is after, that will certainly be a courageous victory. But it will be in the absence of the spirit and participation of the ‘Swa’(Self). For instance, while designing our agricultural policy we should empower our farmer to control his seed banks, create manure, fertilisers and pesticides on his own or procure these from areas neighbouring his village. He should be educated about the art of storing and processing his produce and have access to such facilities. We have a deep, extensive and ancient history of agriculture. Therefore the newer policies should aim to make our farmer aware of modern agricultural science and also enable him to blend that knowledge with time-tested, contextually relevant traditional knowledge. The policies should be such that a farmer should be able to use these research findings and sell his produce without getting trapped, either in the profit aimed interpretations of those findings or sponsored research by the corporate sector or under the pressure of the market forces and middlemen, only then such a policy will be compatible with the Bharatiya view and be a truly Swadeshi agrarian policy. It is likely that incorporating these changes immediately within the present agrarian and economic system might not be possible. In that case, the policies should focus on creating a conducive environment to translate the suggested changes into reality. Some positive steps in the direction of assimilating this ‘swa’ in our economic, agriculture, labour, manufacturing and education policy have been taken. A new education policy formed on the basis of extensive deliberations and dialogue has been declared and launched. Along with the entire educational field, the Sangh has also welcomed it. “Vocal for local” is a great start in the exploration of the possibilities of Swadeshi. But, for these initiatives to be successfully implemented the process will have to be watched and monitored keenly to the finish. Therefore given these wide-ranging perspectives we will have to imbibe this spirit of ‘swa’ or self, only then we can move forward in the right direction. Our Bharatiya thought does not endorse struggle as an essential ingredient of progress. Struggle is considered as a last resort for the elimination of injustice. The conceptualisation of progress here is based on cooperation and coordination. Therefore, the spirit of oneness is critical to actualising self-reliance in various aspects of life. Self-reliance then essentially implies overall well-being and upliftment of the whole nation through coordinated efforts and cooperation with each other, akin to interdependent organs of one body. A policy-making process where all concerned people and parties discuss and deliberate extensively and draw consentient conclusions fosters the spirit of oneness and trust among all.

Open dialogue with all, drawing consensus through discussion, ensuring cooperation and resultant trust – this is the prescribed method for securing credibility and eminence among one’s family and community.समानो मन्त्रः समितिः समानी समानं मनः सहचित्तमेषाम् |समानं मन्त्रमभिमन्त्रये वः समानेन वो हविषा जुहोमि ||Samaano mantrah samitih samaneeSamaanam manah sahachittameshaamSamaanam mantramabhimantraye vahSameenena vo havisha juhomi( Let our speech be one; united our voices. May our minds be in union with the thoughts of the Wise. Sharing a common purpose; we worship as one.) Fortunately, we can rely on and expect from the prevailing political leadership to engender the feeling of oneness and trust with regards to matters small and big among all the people. An administrative system connecting the society with the government has to be more sensitive and transparent to facilitate and accomplish this task in a better fashion. Prompt implementation of mutually agreed policies does not require massive changes and boosts the environment of cooperation and coordination. Remaining alert and exercising total control over the implementation of proposed policies till the end-point is significant. Besides policy-formation promptness and transparency at execution also optimise policy rewards. The need to decentralise agriculture and manufacturing sectors by supporting small and medium scale enterprises, creating employment opportunities, aiding the self-employed, initiating eco-friendly businesses and self-sufficient production units aiming to bolster the economic progress has drawn the attention of many intellectuals alongside the policy-makers of the country in this time of Corona. Those employed in these sectors from small-time and seasoned entrepreneurs to farmers are all eager to taste entrepreneurial success for our nation. The government will need to provide extra cover for them so they can attain world-class standards that will allow them to stand a competitive chance alongside other economic giants of the world. Along with the allocation of funds, its actual disbursement on the ground has to be ensured so that they can restart again after six months of the corona crisis. With a progress-oriented mindset, the developmental path of the country whose destination complies with the culture and aspirations of our people will have to be delineated. After establishing consensus with a positive contribution from all views we must freeze the execution plans in letter and spirit. If it is ensured that the rewards of the developmental achievements percolate down to the most disadvantaged; if exploitation and extortion by middlemen and touts are eliminated; the producers and manufacturers have direct interface with the markets and the developmental schemes, only then our dreams can come true, otherwise dangers that cause failure are lurking around. 

While all the suggestions made above are highly significant the collective resolve of a society is the preceptor and the foundation of the nation’s development. The consciousness that has prevailed in the aftermath of corona, viz, realisation of the true meaning of ‘self,’ spirit of oneness with all the people, the importance of cultural values and environmental awareness plus the need for remedial actions to restore its balance should not be disregarded by our society. We must not drop the momentum, lose sight of these indispensable values and fall back in a pattern of insensitive behaviour. Gradual and consistent practice of right conduct and responsible behaviours of an entire society alone can bring rewards. Starting with small incremental changes, conducting regular awareness initiatives can cause this behavioural shift. Each family can be a part of this movement. Once a week all family members can get together to jointly do some prayer and have homemade food followed by two to three hours of informal discussion. The above-mentioned subjects can be deliberated in those discussions as actionable items and small family level resolutions can be taken, which can further be reviewed in the next week’s discussion. The act of discussion in the family is paramount, newness or oldness of the subject/object notwithstanding, the outcomes of an investigation alone decide the usefulness and relevance of the issue.

Our scriptures describe this method as-सन्तः परीक्ष्यान्यतरद् भजन्ते मूढः परप्रत्ययनेय बुद्धिः |Santah pareekshyanyatarad bhajaate mudhah parapratyaneya buddhih If we examine the subject matter holistically in the informal family setting, exercise discretion as to the relevance of the issue and by choice accept or reject a view, then the resulting behavioural changes will more likely be permanent. In the beginning, matters of common concern like domestic arrangements, design of the dwellings, our family culture, long-standing customs and traditions can be discussed. Owing to everyone’s familiarity with environmental concerns, ways for total boycott of plastic, water conservation, increasing green cover by planting saplings of flowering plants, fruit trees and vegetables in our courtyards and terraces can be discussed and actionable plans jointly created. According to the time available and the needs, all of us spend money over personal and familial requirements every day. We can contemplate what amount of money and time we spend for our society on a day-to-day basis and how to go about doing it? Do we have friendly associations with people and families that belong to different castes and regions and speak varied languages? Have we mingled deeply- sharing meals and visiting homes of those acquaintances? To promote societal harmony these are vital discussion topics. Emphasis can be laid upon participation of our family in actual programs and initiatives, e.g. our family can contribute in Blood Donation, Eye Donation or help create awareness about its importance. Through these minute undertakings, harmony, uprightness, patience, discipline and values-driven personal conduct can be cultivated. Consequently, our collective behaviour while in keeping with the civic discipline becomes that which augments mutual cooperation and harmony. If we work to raise the general level of consciousness of a common man and nurture his intrinsic spirit of oneness with Hindutva as the guiding force, if we make individual efforts for developmental progress with a deeper understanding of the structure of our country and acknowledge our interdependence to cooperate with other members of the society, if we have confidence in our collective strength to achieve any dream and set developmental goals rooted in our values then in the near future Bharatvarsh will emerge as the torchbearer for the rest of the world and come to be known as the Bharatvarsh that showed the path of peaceful and congenial progress to humanity- freedom and equality in the true sense of the word. Behavioural conduct of such individuals and families will create an overall atmosphere of fraternity, meaningful action and lawful order in the whole country. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has been working to effect these changes directly in the society since 1925. Such an organised state is the natural state of a healthy society. Such an organised society is the precondition for the resurrection of this country that has become independent after the centuries-long darkness of invasions. Many great personalities have worked to build such a society. After independence, with this very goal in mind, our constitution was crafted in age-relevant codes of desired conduct and passed on to us. Sangh work only will ensure inculcating a clear vision to realise the objectives of our constitution, and the conduct of mutual harmony, the spirit of oneness and the sentiment of national interest are paramount. Swayamsevaks are sincerely, selflessly and dedicatedly involved in realising this goal. With an invitation that you all to be their fellow-workers in this campaign for upstart reconstruction, I end my address here.

प्रश्न बहुत से उत्तर एक कदम मिलाकर बढे अनेक |वैभव के उत्तुङ्ग शिखर पर सभी दिशा से बढे अनेक |||| भारत माता की जय ||

Vandemataram – The Full Text of our National Song

वन्दे मातरम् ।

सुजलां सुफलां मलयजशीतलाम् शस्यशामलां मातरम् ।

शुभ्रज्योत्स्नापुलकितयामिनीं फुल्लकुसुमितद्रुमदलशोभिनीं

सुहासिनीं सुमधुर भाषिणीं सुखदां वरदां मातरम् ।। १ ।।

वन्दे मातरम् ।

कोटि-कोटि-कण्ठ-कल-कल-निनाद-कराले

कोटि-कोटि-भुजैर्धृत-खरकरवाले, अबला केन मा एत बले ।

बहुबलधारिणीं नमामि तारिणीं रिपुदलवारिणीं मातरम् ।। २ ।।

वन्दे मातरम् ।

तुमि विद्या, तुमि धर्म तुमि हृदि,

तुमि मर्म त्वं हि प्राणा: शरीरे बाहुते तुमि मा शक्ति,

हृदये तुमि मा भक्ति,

तोमारई प्रतिमा गडि मन्दिरे-मन्दिरे मातरम् ।। ३ ।।

वन्दे मातरम् ।

त्वं हि दुर्गा दशप्रहरणधारिणी कमला कमलदलविहारिणी वाणी विद्यादायिनी,

नमामि त्वाम् नमामि कमलां अमलां अतुलां सुजलां सुफलां मातरम् ।। ४ ।।

वन्दे मातरम् ।

श्यामलां सरलां सुस्मितां भूषितां धरणीं भरणीं मातरम् ।। ५ ।।

वन्दे मातरम् ।।

  • A rare painting of Vandemataram dated to 1923

Partitioned Freedom – 6

(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 1” from this link – 1)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 2” from this link – 2)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 3” from this link – 3)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 4” from this link – 4)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 5” from this link – 5)

Part 6

When strategy became policy at Lucknow in 1916, and the Khilafat and Moplah lay bare the slide of the Congress, many leaders were genuinely worried. They realised that the appeasement policies of the Congress were helping the League in furthering its separatist agenda. Despite his best efforts at placating the League and striving for Hindu-Muslim unity, Gandhi could not achieve much. When attempts were made to pacify the Moplahs in the name of Gandhi’s non-violence, they bluntly replied that Gandhi was a Kafir, and he could never be their leader. In 1924, Maulana Mohammed Ali, to whom Gandhi gave more importance than he did to Jinnah, declared: “However pure Mr. Gandhi’s character may be, he must appear to me, from the point of religion, inferior to any Mussalman even though he be without character.” In 1925, he reiterated it saying, “Yes, according to my religion and creed, I do hold an adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr. Gandhi”.

Savarkar was one of the leaders who felt that Congress was making a colossal mistake by appeasing the fundamentalist Leaguers. Savarkar asked the Congress leadership to stop in the downward spiral of appeasement and be firm with the Muslim League leadership. “If you come, with you; if you do not, without you; if you oppose in spite of you” – this was the message he wanted the Congress to convey to the League. Yet the Congress leadership lacked that courage.

Shraddhananda’s Murder:
Swami Shraddhanand was a renowned Arya Samajist and a senior leader of the Congress. As a disciplined soldier of the movement, he had participated actively in the Khilafat movement too. Shraddhananda was a disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, and used to play an active role in reconversion activities. This angered some fanatical Muslims. One such young man called Abdul Rasheed visited Shraddhananda’s residence at Naya Bazar in Delhi on December 23, 1926, on the pretext of discussing “some problems of the Islamic religion”. Shraddhananda was unwell and lying on his bed. According to the Arya Samaj website: “
The visitor then asked for a glass of water, and while Dharm Singh (Shraddhanand’s attendant) was taking his glass away, he rushed up to the Swamiji and fired two bullets point-blank into his chest.

The annual session of the Congress was taking place from December 25, 1926, at Guwahati. All the senior leaders, including Gandhi, were present at the session when the news of the gruesome murder of Swami Shraddhananda came in. Gandhi called Abdul Rashid his own brother, but moved a condolence motion himself. “If you hold dear the memory of Swami Shraddhanandji, you would help in purging the atmosphere of mutual hatred and calumny. Now you will perhaps understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother and I repeat it. I do not even regard him as guilty of Swamiji’s murder. Guilty indeed are all those who excited feelings of hatred against one another”, Gandhi said to the shock of many in the audience. At the very same session, funds were collected for the legal defence of Rashid in the courts. When he was sentenced to capital punishment by the British, there were over fifty thousand people in his funeral procession at Kolkata. That was where the appeasement policy of the leaders had led the country.

National Flag – (National symbols compromised):

Gandhi had proposed in 1921 that Congress should design a national flag. Several models were presented to him, and the one with three colours – orange, white and green –proved to be popular However, its interpretation as orange for the Hindus, white for the Christians, and green for the Muslims did not go down well with the people. A flag committee was then appointed in 1931 to look into the controversy and recommend a national flag for India. Among others, the 7-member committee included Nehru, Patel, and Azad. The committee submitted its report to the Karachi Congress session in December 1931.

“Opinion has been unanimous that our National Flag should be of a single colour except for the colour of the device. If there is one colour that is more acceptable to the Indians as a whole, one that is associated with this ancient country by long tradition, it is the Kesari or saffron colour. Accordingly, it is felt that the flag should be of the Kesari colour except for the colour of the device. That the device should be the Charkha is unanimously agreed to. The Committee have come to the conclusion that the charka should be in blue. Accordingly we recommend that the National Flag should be of Kesari or saffron colour having on it at the left top quarter the Charkha in blue with the wheel towards the flagstaff, the proportions of the flag being fly to hoist as three to two”, the report, signed by all the seven members stated.

However, the Congress session at Karachi rejected it, saying that the saffron colour represented only Hindus. The tricolour flag designed by Pingali Venkayya was adopted. It featured three horizontal stripes of saffron, white and green, with a Charkha in the centre. The colours were given a new interpretation thus: saffron for courage; white for truth and peace; and green for faith and prosperity. After the national song came the compromise with the national flag.

Language (concessions were made):

The Hindu Bhajans were modified. ‘Raghupati Raghava Rajaram – Patita Pavan Sitaram’ saw ‘Isvar Allah Tere Naam’ added to it. Even the national language was not spared. There were concerted efforts to discourage Muslims from learning Hindi right from the time of Syed Ahmad Khan. Syed Ahmad asked Muslims to prefer English to Hindi. Aligarh Muslim University taught only in English and Urdu. An effort was made to project Hindi as the language of the Hindus, and Urdu, that of the Muslims. In its eagerness to please the fundamentalists in the Muslim League, the Congress leadership decided at its 1925 Karachi session that Hindustania hybrid product from the mixture of Hindi and Urdu – should be the lingua franca of independent India. It even suggested that the script could either be Devnagari or Arabic.

Texts were rewritten. Special language classes were held for the Congress volunteers to familiarise them with the new hybrid language. Phrases like Badshah Ram, Begum Sita, and Maulvi Vasistha were promoted. Nevertheless, this one compromise did not go down well with the Congress and the nation. The protagonists of Hindi could succeed only after several years in making it the official language of the nation.

The Congress leadership continued to make these one-sided compromises without any reciprocal gestures being made by the League.

Cow slaughter was given free hand:

Even on a question as important to him as cow-slaughter, Gandhi was willing to compromise. “How can I force anyone not to slaughter cows unless he is himself so disposed? It is not as if there were only Hindus in the Indian Union. There are Muslims, Parsis, Christians, and other religious groups here”, he argued.

None of these concessions could move the League leadership. Instead, they only led to establishing the League and Jinnah, now its leader, as the ‘sole spokesmen’ for the Muslims, as Ayesha Jalal puts it. Emboldened, Jinnah went ahead ruthlessly, unmaking everything the Congress made, including, in the end, the geographical unity of the country.

(Final part to follow)


(Courtesy: The article was originally published in Chintan, India Foundation on August 18, 2020).

Partitioned Freedom – 5

(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 1” from this link – 1)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 2” from this link – 2)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 3” from this link – 3)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 4” from this link – 4)

Part 5

The Khilafat misadventure was not without consequences. It had set a trend, both in the Congress as well as the League. For the League, it was more demands, and for the Congress, more capitulation.

Moplah Rebellion:

The Khilafat movement had led to massive violence in the Malabar Coast of Kerala when a local leader, Variankunnathu Kunjahammad Haji declared himself as the Khalifa and also designated two tehsils as ‘Khilafat Kingdoms’. He instigated his followers against the British. The rebellion, famously known as the Moplah Rebellion or the Malabar Rebellion, was launched on August 20, 1921, and continued for four months.

Taken aback initially by the unexpected aggression of the local Muslims called the Moplahs, the British returned with greater force and brutally suppressed the rebellion. All its leaders, including Haji were arrested. As the British were suppressing the rebellion, the Moplahs turned their ire against the local Hindus, blaming them for not fully supporting the Khilafat cause. Houses and temples were destroyed, women were dishonored, and people were forcefully converted or burnt alive. The atrocities committed by the Moplahs shook the conscience of many leaders, including Dr Ambedkar and Annie Besant. While Annie Besant vividly described the brutality against the Hindus, especially the women, Dr. Ambedkar minced no words in condemning the massacres by describing them as ‘blood-curdling’ and ‘indescribable’. Gandhi’s close confidant C. Rajagopalachari was so distraught by the cruelty of the Moplahs that he shot off a letter to Gandhi stating that “the atrocities of the Moplahs have made men, women, and children lose faith in the concept of Hindu-Muslim unity completely”.

However, strange was the Congress reaction. When the AICC met at Ahmedabad in December 1921, the entire effort seemed directed towards downplaying the atrocities by the Moplahs. While the Servants of India Society led by Annie Besant reported that over twenty thousand Hindus were forcefully converted to Islam, the Congress claimed that as per their information, only three people were converted. The Ahmedabad session of Congress witnessed intense tussle between the Congress and League members over the Moplah incidents. All that could be said in the resolution was that the Congress “…is of the opinion that the…disturbance in Malabar could have been prevented by the Government of Madras accepting the proffered assistance of Maulana Yakub Hassan”.

Describing the events at the session, Swami Shraddhanand, a senior leader, wrote: “The original resolution condemned the Moplas wholesale for the killing of Hindus and burning of Hindu homes and the forcible conversion to Islam. The Hindu members themselves proposed amendments until it was reduced to condemning only certain individuals who had been guilty of the above crimes. But some of the Muslim leaders could not bear this even. Maulana Fakir and other Maulanas, of course, opposed the resolution, and there was no wonder. Nevertheless, it was most surprising that an out-and-out Nationalist like Maulana Hasrat Mohani opposed the resolution on the ground that — the Mopla country no longer remained Dar-ul-Aman but became Dar-ul-Harab and they suspected the Hindus of collusion with the British enemies of the Moplas. Therefore, the Moplas were right in presenting the Quran or sword to the Hindus. Moreover, if the Hindus became Mussalmans to save themselves from death, it was a voluntary change of faith and not forcible conversion—Well, even the harmless resolution condemning some of the Moplas was not unanimously passed but had to be accepted by a majority of votes only”.

All this for the sake of keeping the League as a bed-fellow. When Gandhi too downplayed the incident by commenting that the Moplahs were ‘brave and God-fearing, and were fighting for what they considered as religion, in a manner which they consider as religious,’ even Dr Ambedkar could not help but express his despair. He decried saying ‘Mr. Gandhi was so much obsessed by the necessity of establishing Hindu-Muslim unity that he was prepared to make light of the doings of the Moplas and the Khilafats.’

Vande Mataram (‘Partitioned’):

After the Khilafat and the Moplah rebellion, the Muslim League’s price went up further. It started insisting on rejecting the essential symbols of national unity as a price for its support to the Congress. The first to come in the League’s crosshairs was the song Vande Mataram. It became a regular practice since 1905 to sing it at all the important Congress events. But the League members in the Congress started raising objections to it.

The AICC sessions were held in Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh in 1923. Maulana Mohammad Ali was presiding over the Congress. Senior leaders, including Motilal Nehru, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, Sardar Patel, and Kasturba Gandhi, were present along with over twelve thousand delegates. Gandhi was in prison and hence could not attend.

Like in the past, Pt. Vishnu Digambar Puluskar, a Hindustani musician from Maharashtra, was there to sing the song at the inaugural. When Pt. Puluskar climbed the dais to sing Vande Mataram, Mohammad Ali raised objection saying that singing the song would hurt the sentiments of religious Muslims. Seeing the silence of the leaders present on the dais, Puluskar took it upon himself to challenge Mohammad Ali and went ahead with its rendition. Mohammad Ali, in protest, walked away while the song was being sung. It may be worthwhile to mention here that on many earlier occasions, the Ali Brothers and other League leaders used to rise together with other Hindu and Muslim members of the Congress when the song was sung. The objection at the Kakinada session was thus more a part of the enhanced bargaining than a genuinely religious issue. To placate the League members, Congress introduced Mohammad Iqbal’s famous song ‘Saare jahan se Acchha – Hindustan Hamara’ in its sessions. Yet, the opposition to Vande Mataram continued.

In 1937, when the elections were held for the Provincial Councils, the Congress formed governments in several of them. The controversy over Vande Mataram was raised once again when the proposal to sing the song at the commencement of the sessions was opposed. A ‘committee’ had to be constituted to review Vande Mataram. Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru were made its members. The committee recommended that the song be truncated and only the first two stanzas be sung.

The national song was partitioned in 1937 to appease the Muslim League. Ten years later, the nation was partitioned.

(To continue)

(Courtesy: The article was originally published in Chintan, India Foundation on August 17, 2020).

Partitioned Freedom – 4

(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 1” from this link – 1)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 2” from this link – 2)
(Read “Partitioned Freedom – 3” from this link – 3)

Part 4

Khilafat Movement: Congress’ turn towards communal politics

What began as a tactical move to wean away the League from the British soon became a conviction within the Congress, that – without Muslim League coming along, there would be no freedom. For the British, the League not joining hands with Congress meant no united resistance. Hence, both started patronizing the League. The last three decades of the independence movement were a saga of this competitive bargaining with the Muslim League.

There were many Muslim leaders in Congress at that time. Even Jinnah was a Congress leader and was seen as the ambassador of Hindu – Muslim unity. Sadly, in its competitive bargaining for the League’s support, the Congress leadership gave up on those saner and secular Muslim leaders and leaned more towards the communal and fundamentalist elements of the community.

Khilafat Movement:

The first milestone in the race of appeasement of the Muslim League was the Khilafat movement of 1919-1924. Khilafat was a religio-political movement launched by a section of the Muslim League for the preservation of the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Mehmed V as he was regarded as the Khalifa (leader) of the entire Muslim Ummah (religious community). It should be clear from the description that, one, it was a religious movement; and two, it had nothing to do with India’s independence. More importantly, the myth of the Ottoman Emperor as the Khalifa of world Muslims had been shattered by the dismantling of the empire by the British and the French after World War I, and subsequently when Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the newly elected leader of Turkey, abolished the title of Khalifa in 1924.

That was what even Jinnah told the Muslim League convention held in Delhi in 1918. Jinnah called Khilafat a ‘false religious frenzy of which no good will come out for India.’ When some members objected to his views and the League decided to form a Khilafat Committee to launch an agitation for the cause, Jinnah, along with some others, walked out of the session.

However, where Jinnah had walked out, Gandhi walked in a year later. Gandhi had returned to India in 1915 and was a relatively new figure in the Congress. But certain historical events paved the way for his easy rise in the Congress hierarchy. His mentor and a senior Congress leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale passed away in February 1915. Feroz Shah Mehta, too died in the same year. Lokmanya Tilak left for London to sue the British journalist, Valentine Chirol for defamation in 1919, and he too passed away a year later.

Gandhi walked into the space vacated by several illustrious seniors. Yet he needed an anchor which he found in the issue of Hindu-Muslim unity. In South Africa, during his struggle against the British, Gandhi was regarded as the leader of both the Hindu and Muslim migrants. Gandhi looked at the native situation too from the South African prism. By then, winning over the Muslim League became a zealous conviction for many in the Congress. Gandhi decided to use the Khilafat for Hindu-Muslim unity as well as for establishing his own credentials as the leader with the power to achieve that.

Several Congress leaders participated in the Khilafat Day protests organized by the Muslim League on October 17, 1919. Swami Shraddhananda, a renowned Arya Samaj leader and a senior Congress leader, was one among them, standing on the steps of the Jama Masjid in Delhi and exhorting the Muslims to fight for the Khilafat. Gandhi, along with Motilal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malviya, and others, was present at the Muslim League convention in December 1919. He described Khilafat as the “holy cow” of the Muslim community. Gandhi viewed Khilafat as the best opportunity for Hindu – Muslim unity and exhorted the Hindus to join the struggle for preserving Islam’s honour if they really want Muslims’ friendship. “Arise! Awake! Or be fallen forever”, was Gandhi’s call to the Muslims.

However, a section of the Congressmen started raising concerns over this gamble. Sardar Patel was unconvinced about a slave country fighting for the maintainence of a foreign Muslim Empire. Many were aghast when they heard that Khilafat leaders like Shaukat Ali and Hasrat Mohani were inviting the King of Afghanistan to invade India to achieve the Khilafat. Gandhi’s good friend Barrister Henry Pollack had warned that on the Khilafat question, Gandhi was behaving in an “ill-informed and dangerous manner”. On the other hand, the Khilafat leaders like Maula Abdul Bari started threatening Gandhi that if he failed to deliver on the promise of the Congress’ support, they would end their relations with it.

Non-Cooperation Movement

An emergency session of the Congress was called in August 1920 at Kolkata, in which Gandhi proposed to launch a nationwide Non-Cooperation Movement in support of the Khilafat.         “I would, in order to achieve success in the Khilafat issue, even postpone the issue of Swaraj,” Gandhi declared. Leaders like Chittaranjan Das, Bipin Chandra Pal, and Annie Besant were against this bargain. Finally, issues like Swaraj and Jallianwala Bagh massacre were also included to make it look like an agitation for the Indian cause.

Jinnah, who was until then midwifing the Congress-League friendship, got disillusioned. He was particularly upset with his own sidelining and promotion of rank fundamentalists like Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali – the ‘Ali Brothers’ – by Gandhi. At the Nagpur session of the Congress later that year, Jinnah resigned, highlighting his opposition to the Khilafat. “I will have nothing to do with this pseudo-religious approach to politics. I do not believe in working up mob hysteria, politics is a gentleman’s game”, Jinnah told while quitting.

Khilafat failed

Khilafat failed. The Non-Cooperation Movement was abruptly called off by Gandhi when a violent incident took place at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Provinces in which 22 policemen were killed by the agitators. However, the damage to the fabric of national unity was already done. After the Khilafat, the voices of the nationalist Muslims became further subdued. Condoned by the Congress leadership, Muslim communalism became the order of the day. For example, when Shaukat Ali and others were arrested by the British on sedition charges for inviting the King of Afghanistan to invade India, Gandhi reacted by arguing that he couldn’t understand why the Ali brothers should be in jail when he was outside.

This was the only religious cause that Gandhi ever espoused during the independence movement. He probably had his reasons for doing so.

The passions he had helped rouse, which were now turned against him and the Congress, meant that the Congress haemorrhaged Muslims ever afterwards. Gandhi returned to the secular straight-and-narrow with the Salt Satyagraha ten years later and strove manfully to secure the moderate aim of a pluralist nationalism in the age of mass politics, but opportunism of the Khilafat movement haunted the Congress and helped alienate the one constituency it prized above all others: India’s Muslims”, wrote historian Mukul Kesavan.

The Khilafat misadventure of the Congress had demonstrated that the seeds of communal separatism sown by the British a decade earlier were sprouting up actively, nurtured by the misplaced convictions of the Congress leadership. Later events led the process further along resulting in the blossoming of Muslim communal politics as the Congress continued its appeasement policies.

(Read Next: “Partitioned Freedom – 5” from this link – 5)

(Courtesy: The article was originally published in Chintan, India Foundation on August 16, 2020)