Swami Vivekananda’s 6 Speeches at Chicago 1893

Swami Vivekananda’s 6 stirring speeches and papers in Chicago 1893.

 

1st Speech 

At the World’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago
11th September, 1893, Swami Vivekananda said the following few words and achieved an astonishing result: from obscurity to overnight fame came the opportunity to effect change upon the entire world. This may well be, literally, the most famous and historically significant speech in the world.

Response to Welcome 

Sisters and Brothers of America,

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny.  I  am  proud  to  belong to the  religion  which  has  sheltered  and  is  still  fostering remnant Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.” Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

Why We Disagree
15 Sep 1893 

I will tell you a little story. You have heard the eloquent speaker who has just finished say, “Let us cease from abusing each other,” and he was very sorry that there should be always so much variance.

But I  think  I should tell you a story which would illustrate the cause of this variance. A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story’s sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.

“Where are you from?”

“I am from the sea.”

“The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?” and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other.

“My friend,” said the frog of the sea, “how do you compare the sea with your little well?”

Then the frog took another leap and asked, “Is your sea so big?”

“What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well!”

“Well, then,” said the frog of the well, “nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out.”

That has been the difficulty all the while.

I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world. I have to thank you of America for the great attempt you are making to break down the barriers of this little world of ours, and hope that, in the future, the Lord will help you to accomplish your purpose.

Paper on Hinduism
Read at the Parliament on 19th September, 1893

Religion Not the Crying Need of India

Christians must always be ready for good criticism, and I hardly think that you will mind if I make a little criticism. You Christians, who are so fond of sending out missionaries to save the soul of the heathen–why do you not try to save their bodies from starvation? In India, during the terrible famines, thousands died from hunger, yet you Christians did nothing. You erect churches all through India, but the crying evil in the East is not religion–they have religion enough–but it is bread that the suffering millions of burning India cry out for with parched throats. They ask us for bread, but we give them stones. It is an insult to a starving people to offer them religion; it is an insult to a starving man to teach him metaphysics. In India a priest that preached for money would lose caste and be spat upon by the people. I came here to seek aid for my impoverished people, and I fully realised how difficult it was to get help for heathens from Christians in a Christian land.

Buddhism, the fulfillment of Hinduism 
26th September, 1893

I am not a Buddhist, as you have heard, and yet I am. If China, or Japan, or Ceylon follow the teachings of the Great Master, India worships him as God incarnate on earth. You have just now heard that I am going to criticise Buddhism, but by that I wish you to understand only this. Far be it from me to criticise him whom I worship as God incarnate on earth. But our views about Buddha are that he was not understood properly by his disciples. The relation between Hinduism (by Hinduism, I mean the religion of the Vedas) and what is called Buddhism at the present day is nearly the same as between Judaism and Christianity. Jesus Christ was a Jew, and Shakya Muni was a Hindu. The Jews rejected Jesus Christ, nay, crucified him, and the Hindus have accepted Shakya Muni as God and worship him. But the real difference that we Hindus want to show between modern Buddhism and what we should understand as the teachings of Lord Buddha lies principally in this: Shakya Muni came to preach nothing new. He also, like Jesus, came to fulfil and not to destroy. Only, in the case of Jesus, it was the old people, the Jews, who did not understand him, while in the case of Buddha, it was his own followers who did not realise the import of this teachings. As the Jew did not understand the fulfilment of the Old Testament, so the Buddhist did not understand the fulfilment of the truths of the Hindu religion. Again, I repeat, Shakya Muni came not to destroy, but he was the fulfilment, the logical conclusion, the logical development of the religion of the Hindus.

The religion of the Hindus is divided into two parts: the ceremonial and the spiritual. The spiritual portion is specially studied by the monks.

In that there is no caste. A man from the highest caste and a man from the lowest may become a monk in India, and the two castes become equal. In religion there is no caste; caste is simply a social institution. Shakya Muni himself was a monk, and it was his glory that he had the large-heartedness to bring out the truths from the hidden Vedas and throw them broadcast all over the world. He was the first being in the world who brought missionarising into practice–nay, he was the first to conceive the idea of proselytising.

The great glory of the Master lay in his wonderful sympathy for everybody, especially for the ignorant and the poor. Some of his disciples were Brahmins. When Buddha was teaching, Sanskrit was no more the spoken language in India. It was then only in the books of the learned. Some of Buddha’s Brahmin disciples wanted to translate his teachings into Sanskrit, but he distinctly told them, “I am for the poor, for the people; let me speak in the tongue of the people.” And so to this day the great bulk of his teachings are in the vernacular of that day in India.

Whatever may be the position of philosophy, whatever may be the position of metaphysics, so long as there is such a thing as death in the world, so long as there is such a thing as weakness in the human heart, so long as there is a cry going out of the heart of man in his very weakness, there shall be a faith in God.

On the philosophic side the disciples of the Great Master dashed themselves against the eternal rocks of the Vedas and could not crush them, and on the other side they took away from the nation that eternal God to which every one, man or woman, clings so fondly. And the result was that Buddhism had to die a natural death in India. At the present day there is not one who calls oneself a Buddhist in India, the land of its birth.

But at the same time, Brahminism lost something–that reforming zeal, that wonderful sympathy and charity for everybody, that wonderful leaven which Buddhism had brought to the masses and which had rendered Indian society so great that a Greek historian who wrote about India of that time was led to say that no Hindu was known to tell an untruth and no Hindu woman was known to be unchaste.

Hinduism cannot live without Buddhism, nor Buddhism without Hinduism. Then realise what the separation has shown to us, that the Buddhists cannot stand without the brain and philosophy of the Brahmins, nor the Brahmin without the heart of the Buddhist. This separation between the Buddhists and the Brahmins is the cause of the downfall of India. That is why India is populated by three hundred millions of beggars, and that is why India has been the slave of conquerors for the last thousand years. Let us then join the wonderful intellect of the Brahmins with the heart, the noble soul, the wonderful humanising power of the Great Master.

Address at the Final Session 
27th September, 1893

The World’s Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who laboured to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labour.

My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realised it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.

Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the other, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope.” Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.

The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.

Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.

If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: “Help and not Fight,” “Assimilation and not Destruction,” “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.”

Read more Lectures by Swami Vivekananda Here

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Paper on Hinduism – Swami Vivekananda in Chicago

Paper on Hinduism
Read at the Parliament on 19th September, 1893

Three religions now stand in the world which have come down to us from time prehistoric–Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. They have all received tremendous shocks and all of them prove by their survival their internal strength. But while Judaism failed to absorb Christianity and was driven out of its place of birth by its all-conquering daughter, and a handful of Parsees is all that remains to tell the tale of their grand religion, sect after sect arose in India and seemed to shake the religion of the Vedas to its very foundations, but like the waters of the seashore in a tremendous earthquake it receded only for a while, only to return in an all-absorbing flood, a thousand times more vigorous, and when the tumult of the rush was over, these sects were all sucked in, absorbed, and assimilated into the immense body of the mother faith.

From the high spiritual flights of the Vedanta philosophy, of which the latest discoveries of science seem like echoes, to the low ideas of idolatry with its multifarious mythology, the agnosticism of the Buddhists, and the atheism of the Jains, each and all have a place in the Hindu’s religion. Where then, the question arises, where is the common centre to which all these widely diverging radii converge? Where is the common basis upon which all these seemingly hopeless contradictions rest? And this is the question I shall attempt to answer.

The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas. They hold that the Vedas are without beginning and without end. It may sound ludicrous to this audience, how a book can be without beginning or end. But by the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times. Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery, and would exist if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world. The moral, ethical, and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the Father of all spirits, were there before their discovery, and would remain even if we forgot them.

The discoverers of these laws are called Rishis, and we honour them as perfected beings. I am glad to tell this audience that some of the very greatest of them were women. Here it may be said that these laws as laws may be without end, but they must have had a beginning. The Vedas teach us that creation is without beginning or end. Science is said to have proved that the sum total of cosmic energy is always the same. Then, if there was a time when nothing existed, where was all this manifested energy? Some say it was in a potential form in God. In that case God is sometimes potential and sometimes kinetic, which would make Him mutable. Everything mutable is a compound, and everything compound must undergo that change which is called destruction. So God would die, which is absurd. Therefore there never was a time when there was no creation.

If I may be allowed to use a simile, creation and creator are two lines, without beginning and without end, running parallel to each other. God is the ever active providence, by whose power systems after systems are being evolved out of chaos, made to run for a time and again destroyed. This is what the Brahmin boy repeats every day: “The sun and the moon, the Lord created like the suns and moons of previous cycles.” And this agrees with modern science.

Here I stand and if I shut my eyes, and try to conceive my existence, “I”, “I”, “I”, what is the idea before me? The idea of a body. Am I, then, nothing but a combination of material substances? The Vedas declare, “No”. I am a spirit living in a body. I am not the body. The body will die, but I shall not die. Here am I in this body; it will fall, but I shall go on living. I had also a past. The soul was not created, for creation means a combination which means a certain future dissolution. If then the soul was created, it must die. Some are born happy, enjoy perfect health, with beautiful body, mental vigour and all wants supplied. Others are born miserable, some are without hands or feet, others again are idiots and only drag on a wretched existence. Why, if they are all created, why does a just and merciful God create one happy and another unhappy, why is He so partial? Nor would it mend matters in the least to hold that those who are miserable in this life will be happy in a future one. Why should a man be miserable even here in the reign of a just and merciful God?

In the second place, the idea of a creator God does not explain the anomaly, but simply expresses the cruel fiat of an all-powerful being. There must have been causes, then, before his birth, to make a man miserable or happy and those were his past actions.

Are not all the tendencies of the mind and the body accounted for by inherited aptitude? Here are two parallel lines of existence–one of the mind, the other of matter. If matter and its transformations answer for all that we have, there is no necessity for supposing the existence of a soul. But it cannot be proved that thought has been evolved out of matter, and if a philosophical monism is inevitable, spiritual monism is certainly logical and no less desirable than a materialistic monism; but neither of these is necessary here.

We cannot deny that bodies acquire certain tendencies from heredity, but those tendencies only mean the physical configuration, through which a peculiar mind alone can act in a peculiar way. There are other tendencies peculiar to a soul caused by its past actions. And a soul with a certain tendency would by the laws of affinity take birth in a body which is the fittest instrument for the display of that tendency. This is in accord with science wants to explain everything by habit, and habit is got through repetitions. So repetitions are necessary to explain the natural habits of a new-born soul. And since they were not obtained in this present life, they must have come down from past lives.

There is another suggestion. Taking all these for granted, now is it that I do not remember anything of my past life? This can be easily explained I am now speaking English. It is not my mother tongue, in fact no words of my mother tongue are now present in my consciousness; mut let me try to bring them up, and they rush in. That shows that consciousness is only the surface of the mental ocean, and within its depths are stored up all our experiences. Try and struggle, they would come up and you would by conscious even of your past life.

This is direct and demonstrative evidence. Verification is the perfect proof of a theory, and here is the challenge thrown to the world by the Rishis. We have discovered the secret by which the very depths of the ocean of memory can be stirred up-try it and you would get a complete reminiscence of your past life.

So then the Hindu belives that he is a spirit. Him the sword cannot pierce-him the fire cannot burn-him the water cannot melt-him the air cannot dry. The Hindu belives that every soul is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose centre is located in the body, and that death means the change of this centre from body to body. Not is the soul bound by the conditions of matter. In its very essence it is free. unbounded. holy, pure, and perfect. But somehow of other it finds itself tied down to matter and thinks of itself as matter.

Why should the free, perfect, and pure being be thus under the thraldom of matter, is the next question. How can the perfect soul be deluded into the belief that it is imperfect? We have been told that the Hindus shirk the question and say that no such question can be there. Some thinkers want to answer it by positing one or more quasi-perfect beings, and use big scientific names to fill up the gap. But naming is not explaining. The question remains the same. How can the perfect become the quasi-perfect; how can the pure, the absolute, change even a microscopic particle of its nature? But the Hindu is sincere. He does not want to take shelter under sophistry. He is brave enough to face the question in a manly fashion; an the question and say that no such question can be there. Some thinkers want to answer it by positing one or more quasi-perfect beings, and use big scientific names to fill up the gap. But naming is not explaining. The question remains the same. How can the perfect become the quasi-perfect; how can the pure, the absolute, change even a microscopic particle of its nature? But the Hindu is sincere. He does not want to take shelter under sophistry. He is brave enough to face the question in a manly fashion; anmmortal, perfect and infinite, and death means only a change of centre from one body to another. The present is determined by our past actions, and the future by the present. The soul will go on evolving up or reverting back from birth to birth and death to death. But here is another question: Is man a tiny boat in a tempest, raised one moment on the foamy crest of a billow and dashed down into a yawning chasm the next, rolling to and fro at the mercy of good and bad actions–a powerless, helpless wreck in an ever-raging, ever-rushing, uncompromising current of cause and effect; a little moth placed under the wheel of causation which rolls on crushing everything in its way and waits not for the widow’s tears or the orphan’s cry? The heart sinks at the idea, yet this is the law of Nature. Is there no hope? Is there no escape?–was the cry that went up from the bottom of the heart of despair. It reached the throne of mercy, and words of hope and consolation came down and inspired a Vedic sage, and he stood up before the world and in trumpet voice proclaimed the glad tidings: “Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! even ye that reside in higher spheres! I have found the Ancient One who is beyond all darkness, all delusion: knowing Him alone you shall be saved from death over again.” “Children of immortal bliss” –what a sweet, what a hopeful name! Allow me to call you, brethren, by that sweet name–heirs of immortal bliss–yea, the Hindu refuses to call you sinners. Ye are the Children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth–sinners! It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, O lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free, blest and eternal; ye are not matter, ye are not bodies; matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter. Thus it is that the Vedas proclaim not a dreadful combination of unforgiving laws, not an endless prison of cause and effect, but that at the head of all these laws, in and through every particle of matter and force, stands One “by whose command the wind blows, the fire burns, the clouds rain, and death stalks upon the earth.”

And what is His nature?

He is everywhere, the pure and formless One, the Almighty and the All-merciful. “Thou art our father, Thou art our mother, Thou art our beloved friend, Thou art the source of all strength; give us strength. Thou art He that beareth the burdens of the universe; help me bear the little burden of this life.” Thus sang the Rishis of the Vedas. And how to worship Him? Through love. “He is to be worshipped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this and the next life.”

This is the doctrine of love declared in the Vedas, and let us see how it is fully developed and taught by Krishna, whom the Hindus believe to have been God incarnate on earth.

He taught that a man ought to live in this world like a lotus leaf, which grows in water but is never moistened by water; so a man ought to live in the world–his heart to God and his hands to work.

It is good to love God for hope of reward in this or the next world, but it is better to love God for love’s sake, and the prayer goes: “Lord, I do not want wealth, nor children, nor learning. If it be Thy will, I shall go from birth to birth, but grant me this, that I may love Thee without the hope of reward–love unselfishly for love’s sake.” One of the disciples of Krishna, the then Emperor of India, was driven from his kingdom by his enemies and had to take shelter with his queen in a forest in the Himalayas, and there one day the queen asked him how it was that he, the most virtuous of men, should suffer so much misery. Yudhishthira answered, “Behold, my queen, the Himalayas, how grand and beautiful they are; I love them. They do not give me anything, but my nature is to love the grand, the beautiful, therefore I love them. Similarly, I love the Lord. He is the source of all beauty, of all sublimity. He is the only object to be loved; my nature is to love Him, and therefore I love. I do not pray for anything; I do not ask for anything. Let Him place me wherever He likes. I must love Him for love’s sake. I cannot trade love.”

The Vedas teach that the soul is divine, only held in the bondage of matter; perfection will be reached when this bond will burst, and the word they use for it is therefore, Mukti–freedom, freedom from the bonds of imperfection, freedom from death and misery.

And this bondage can only fall off through the mercy of God, and this mercy comes on the pure. So purity is the condition of His mercy. How does that mercy act? He reveals Himself to the pure heart; the pure and the stainless see God, yea, even in this life; then and then only all the crookedness of the heart is made straight. Then all doubt ceases. He is no more the freak of a terrible law of causation. This is the very centre, the very vital conception of Hinduism. The Hindu does not want to live upon words and theories. If there are existences beyond the ordinary sensuous existence, he wants to come face to face with them. If there is a soul in him which is not matter, if there is an all-merciful universal Soul, he will go to Him direct. He must see Him, and that alone can destroy all doubts. So the best proof a Hindu sage gives about the soul, about God, is: “I have seen the soul; I have seen God.” And that is the only condition of perfection. The Hindu religion does not consist in struggles and attempts to believe a certain doctrine or dogma, but in realising–not in believing, but in being and becoming.

Thus the whole object of their system is by constant struggle to become perfect, to become divine, to reach God and see God, and this reaching God, seeing God, becoming perfect even as the Father in Heaven is perfect, constitutes the religion of the Hindus.

And what becomes of a man when he attains perfection? He lives a life of bliss infinite. He enjoys infinite and perfect bliss, having obtained the only thing in which man ought to have pleasure, namely God, and enjoys the bliss with God.

So far all the Hindus are agreed. This is the common religion of all the sects of India; but, then, perfection is absolute, and the absolute cannot be two or three. It cannot have any qualities. It cannot be an individual. And so when a soul becomes perfect and absolute, it must become one with Brahman, and it would only realise the Lord as the perfection, the reality, of its own nature and existence, the existence absolute, knowledge absolute, and bliss absolute. We have often and often read this called the losing of individuality and becoming a stock or a stone.

“He jests at scars that never felt a wound.”

I tell you it is nothing of the kind. If it is happiness to enjoy the consciousness of this small body, it must be greater happiness to enjoy the consciousness of two bodies, the measure of happiness increasing with the consciousness of an increasing number of bodies, the aim, the ultimate of happiness being reached when it would become a universal consciousness.

Therefore, to gain this infinite universal individuality, this miserable little prison-individuality must go. Then alone can death cease when I am one with life, then alone can misery cease when I am one with happiness itself, then alone can all errors cease when I am one with knowledge itself; and this is the necessary scientific conclusion. Science has proved to me that physical individuality is a delusion, that really my body is one little continuously changing body in an unbroken ocean of matter; and Advaita (unity) is the necessary conclusion with my other counterpart, soul.

Science is nothing but the finding of unity. As soon as science would reach perfect unity, it would stop from further progress, because it would reach the goal. Thus Chemistry could not progress farther when it would discover one element out of which all others could be made. Physics would stop when it would be able to fulfil its services in discovering one energy of which all the others are but manifestations, and the science of religion becomes perfect when it would discover Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him who is the constant basis of an ever-changing world. One who is the only Soul of which all souls are but delusive manifestations. Thus is it, through multiplicity and duality, that the ultimate unity is reached. Religion can go no farther. This is the goal of all science.

All science is bound to come to this conclusion in the long run. Manifestation, and not creation, is the word of science today, and the Hindu is only glad that what he has been cherishing in his bosom for ages is going to be taught in more forcible language, and with further light from the latest conclusions of science.

Descend we now from the aspirations of philosophy to the religion of the ignorant. At the very outset, I may tell you that there is no polytheism in India. In every temple, if one stands by and listens, one will find the worshippers applying all the attributes of God, including omnipresence, to the images. It is not polytheism, nor would the name henotheism explain the situation. “The rose called by any other name would smell as sweet.” Names are not explanations.

I remember, as a boy, hearing a Christian missionary preach to a crowd in India. Among other sweet things he was telling them was that if he gave a blow to their idol with his stick, what could it do? One of his hearers sharply answered, “If I abuse your God, what can He do?” “You would be punished,” said the preacher, “when you die.” “So my idol will punish you when you die,” retorted the Hindu.

The tree is known by its fruits. When I have seen amongst them that are called idolaters, men, the like of whom in morality and spirituality and love I have never seen anywhere, I stop and ask myself, “Can sin beget holiness?”

Superstition is a great enemy of man, but bigotry is worse. Why does a Christian go to church? Why is the cross holy? Why is the face turned toward the sky in prayer? Why are there so many images in the Catholic Church? Why are there so many images in the minds of Protestants when they pray? My brethren, we can no more think about anything without a mental image than we can live without breathing. By the law of association, the material image calls up the mental idea and vice versa. This is why the Hindu uses an external symbol when he worships. He will tell you, it helps to keep his mind fixed on the Being to whom he prays. He knows as well as you do that the image is not God, is not omnipresent. After all, how much does omnipresence mean to almost the whole world? It stands merely as a word, a symbol. Has God superficial area? If not, when we repeat that word “omnipresent”, we think of the extended sky or of space, that is all.

As we find that somehow or other, by the laws of our mental constitution, we have to associate our ideas of infinity with the image of the blue sky, or of the sea, so we naturally connect our idea of holiness with the image of a church, a mosque, or a cross. The Hindus have associated the idea of holiness, purity, truth, omnipresence, and such other ideas with different images and forms. But with this difference that while some people devote their whole lives to their idol of a church and never rise higher, because with them religion means an intellectual assent to certain doctrines and doing good to their fellows, the whole religion of the Hindu is centred in realisation. Man is to become divine by realising the divine. Idols or temples or churches or books are only the supports, the helps, of his spiritual childhood: but on and on he must progress.

He must not stop anywhere. “External worship, material worship,”say the scriptures, “is the lowest stage; struggling to rise high, mental prayer is the next stage, but the highest stage is when the Lord has been realised.” Mark, the same earnest man who is kneeling before the idol tells you,“Him the sun cannot express, nor the moon, nor the stars, the lightning cannot express Him, nor what we speak of as fire; through Him they shine.” But he does not abuse any one’s idol or call its worship sin. He recognises in it a necessary stage of life.“The child is father of the man.” Would it be right for an old man to say that childhood is a sin or youth a sin?

If a man can realise his divine nature with the help of an image, would it be right to call that a sin? Nor even when he has passed that stage, should he call it an error. To the Hindu, man is not travelling from error to truth, but from truth to truth, from lower to higher truth. To him all the religions, from the lowest fetishism to the highest absolutism, mean so many attempts of the human soul to grasp and realise the Infinite, each determined by the conditions of its birth and association, and each of these marks a stage of progress; and every soul is a young eagle soaring higher and higher, gathering more and more strength, till it reaches the Glorious Sun.

Unity in variety is the plan of nature, and the Hindu has recognised it. Every other religion lays down certain fixed dogmas, and tries to force society to adopt them. It places before society only one coat which must fit Jack and John and Henry, all alike. If it does not fit John or Henry, he must go without a coat to cover his body. The Hindus have discovered that the absolute can only be realised, or thought of, or stated, through the relative, and the images, crosses, and crescents are simply so many symbols–so many pegs to hang the spiritual ideas on. It is not that this help is necessary for every one, but those that do not need it have no right to say that it is wrong. Nor is it compulsory in Hinduism.

One thing I must tell you. Idolatry in India does not mean anything horrible. It is not the mother of harlots. On the other hand, it is the attempt of undeveloped minds to grasp high spiritual truths. The Hindus have their faults, they sometimes have their exceptions; but mark this, they are always for punishing their own bodies, and never for cutting the throats of their neighbours. If the Hindu fanatic burns himself on the pyre, he never lights the fire of Inquisition. And even this cannot be laid at the door of his religion any more than the burning of witches can be laid at the door of Christianity.

To the Hindu, then, the whole world of religions is only a travelling, a coming up, of different men and women, through various conditions and circumstances, to the same goal. Every religion is only evolving a God out of the material man, and the same God is the inspirer of all of them. Why, then, are there so many contradictions? They are only apparent, says the Hindu. The contradictions come from the same truth adapting itself to the varying circumstances of different natures.

It is the same light coming through glasses of different colours. And these little variations are necessary for purposes of adaptation. But in the heart of everything the same truth reigns. The Lord has declared to the Hindu in His incarnation as Krishna,“I am in every religion as the thread through a string of pearls. Wherever thou seest extraordinary holiness and extraordinary power raising and purifying humanity, know thou that I am there .” And what has been the result? I challenge the world to find, throughout the whole system of Sanskrit philosophy, any such expression as that the Hindu alone will be saved and not others. Says Vyasa, “We find perfect men even beyond the pale of our caste and creed. ” One thing more. How, then, can the Hindu, whose whole fabric of thought centres in God, believe in Buddhism which is agnostic, or in Jainism which is atheistic?

The Buddhists or the Jains do not depend upon God; but the whole force of their religion is directed to the great central truth in every religion, to evolve a God out of man. They have not seen the Father, but they have seen the Son. And he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father also.

This, brethren, is a short sketch of the religious ideas of the Hindus. The Hindu may have failed to carry out all his plans, but if there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will have no location in place or time; which will be infinite like the God it will preach, and whose sun will shine upon the followers of Krishna and of Christ, on saints and sinners alike; which will not be Brahminic or Buddhistic, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these, and still have infinite space for development; which in its catholicity will embrace in its infinite arms, and find a place for, every human being, from the lowest grovelling savage not far removed from the brute, to the highest man towering by the virtues of his head and heart almost above humanity, making society stand in awe of him and doubt his human nature. It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognise divinity in every man and woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force, will be created in aiding humanity to realise its own true, divine nature.

Offer such a religion, and all the nations will follow you. Asoka’s council was a council of the Buddhist faith. Akbar’s, though more to the purpose, was only a parlour-meeting. It was reserved for America to proclaim to all quarters of the globe that the Lord is in every religion.

May He who is the Brahman of the Hindus, the Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Buddha of the Buddhists, the Jehovah of the Jews, the Father in Heaven of the Christians, give strength to you to carry out your noble idea! The star arose in the East; it travelled steadily towards the West, sometimes dimmed and sometimes effulgent, till it made a circuit of the world; and now it is again rising on the very horizon of the East, the borders of the Sanpo, a thousandfold more effulgent than it ever was before.

Hail, Columbia, motherland of liberty! It has been given to thee, who never dipped her hand in her neighbour’s blood, who never found out that the shortest way of becoming rich was by robbing one’s neighbours, it has been given to thee to march at the vanguard of civilisation with the flag of harmony.

Genocidal Bloodbath at Bhairavunapalli ( Bairanpally ) in Telangana

  • By Abhishek R
  • Nizam Private army , Razakar units being trained by Muslim volunteers

  • The episode is of 1948 in erstwhile Hyderabad State , now Telangana

The houses were set on fire, men murdered, women dishonoured, children and the elderly killed in a cowardly manner. The whole village of Lingapur was brought to nought  just because the Villagers failed to pay Razakars the booty they demanded.  When the ghastly news spread to the nearby village of Bhairavunipalli 30-40 men armed with sticks rushed towards Lingapur only to find Jubilant Razakars with carts full of looted wealth and grains on their way back. Enraged at this sight they started to chase the Razarkars who rained bullets on them. Unmindful of this the villagers continued their hot pursuit and in no time the Razakars fled leaving behind the carts full of plunder and the guns they were carrying.

Few days after this incident, Razakars in a larger entrouge came to Bhairavunipalli and demanded a levy of 1200/- along with the carts of plunder, the village elders bluntly refused to budge to the demands. The Razakars filed a complaint with the Police Amin of the area against the disloyalty of the villagers against the State. Observing the tide of events, it was unanimously decided that a well planned defence was needed to safeguard the village to avoid the repeat of Lingapur. Accordingly a Watch was posted at the manor of the Tower of Bhairavunipalli and men carrying muzzle-loaders were constantly guarding the tower. Any danger to the village meant the sounding of kettledrum and all the Villagers would drop the work at hand and take up  positions to fight with whatever they had – Stick, sickle, axe or even a stone.

Villagers from eight nearby villages were assigned the job of arranging 50-100 men, one village daily armed with sticks and stones to go around the village and upkeep their morale. Accordingly weapons and explosives were always kept ready in case of any crisis. Wireless service was carried out by Simple unassuming shepherds and  a Brahmin Vishwanath Bhatt Joshi racing on his bicycle.

This defence of the villagers and their stiff resistance to any signs of advancing Razarkars even around the hamlets made the Village of Bhairavunipalli an excrescence for the Establishment. Eqbal Hasham, Deputy Collector of Bhongir grew impatient with each passing day at the  hostility and self respect of the villagers. Therefore this gentleman with an ‘armed’ battalion set out to establish ‘peace’ in the village. No sooner did he even reach the borders of the village, the kettledrum was sounded, villagers took assigned positions and a hail of bullets were showered upon Eqbal Hasham and his battalion of Razakars . The face-off continued for about 8 hours where only 4 villagers were martyred but more than 15 Razakars fell dead. Enraged at this defeat the gentleman Eqbal Hasham promised revenge and vowed to return to teach them a fitting lesson.

In those days Jangaon was the Taluk headquarters.  A Cantonment of Nizami soldiers was always housed there. Officers of the rank of DIG, DSP from the police force, one Major and two capitans from the Army were personally engaged in preparation and planning for an attack that was unprecedented both in terms of scale and preparation. Artillery, gun powder and material was being loaded onto the trucks on war footing and late by night the jeeps started their march towards the Warangal-Siddipet road. The convoy included 500 soldiers from the Nizami army, police force and the Razakars along with 200 civilian officers.

It was an evening as usual in the village of Bhairavunipalli. People returning home after a long day of work in the fields, herdsman  driving back their animals were a common sight. No one had any inkling towards the impeding catastrophe.

It was still quite early in the Morning around 4-4:30  when Vishwanath Bhatt Joshi woke up to attend the call of nature. In the early morning darkness much to his shock he was seized by the soldiers of Nizami army. By that time the forces had surrounded the village of Bhairavunipalli in half a mile radius .There was a talk of shooting him but M.N Reddy who was also one of the Civilian officer argued that he was a Brahmin – a man of Non violence and hence deserved to be let off. The soldiers grew suspicious if Reddy was using Joshi to alert the villagers, they strictly warned him and let go. Little did they know that he was the wirelesss service between the villages surrounding Bhairavunipalli. Almost at the same time a young carpenter Venkata Narasayya was apprehended but a well built man that he was, he pushed them and ran hard alerting the villagers about the impending attack.

Standing on the Gallows as the great Revolutionary Ram Prasad Bismil said..

  I have neither the earlier ambitions
Nor a crowd of desires in me
The only desire left in Bismil’s heart
Is one to Die!

In no time the Kettle drum was sounded, war cries reverberated throughout the village, villagers ran to take positions, the womenfolk safeguarded the children and the elderly , the Small canon in the village started booming and it was War on!

The valiant attitude of the villagers at the time of the dastardly attack early in the morning, the phsycological  and mental toughness that they showed is bound to make our hair stand on its end.

The villagers with their traditional weapons couldn’t hold the ground for too long courtesy to ruthless shelling and firing of the Nizami forces. Two boys Ramayya Koli and Bhumayya Banjara who climbed on tower to ascertain the strength of the Razarkars were shot dead. Understanding the gravity of the situation the villagers hoisted a white flag signalling truce, but the barbaric forces were in no mood to relent. They entered the village and started a bloodbath unparalleled in the chronicles of history. Men and young boys were blindfolded and tied together with ropes and dragged out of the village like animals, women was raped en mass. Young, old, frail or diseased no one was left alive.

But the thirst of the barbarians were not yet satisfied. Men and young boys who were blindfolded and tied were brought and an experiment was planned. The officers of the Nizami Army were relaxing and discussing about how many bodies would a .303 bullet pass through if they were made to stand in a single row. To lay to rest these doubts a young officer came forward and fired a bullet instantly passing through four people killing them in an instance. Not satisfied with this, a Civilian officer, Gentleman Eqbal Hasham, Deputy collector of Bhongir came forward and took aim. The bullet he fired passed through 10 men, all falling dead. The nefarious, savage and brutal games continued until about 150 men were killed. 90 Harijans were killed and buried in a mass grave.

The outrageous fact was that the Bloodbath of Bhairavunipalli ( August 27th 1948 ) happened when the entire country was celebrating the First Independence Day. Such travesty of justice!

The Village looted, farmlands destroyed, rivulets of blood flowed, harrowing cries echoed along with the chirping of early morning birds, thick smoke bellowing from the houses on fire  covered the early morning sun. The scene was beyond comprehension for a sane human mind. The annihilation was complete.

The  great Revolutionary Ram Prasad Bismil famously wrote:
O Youngmen! If it ever pricks your hearts..
Remember us once in a while..
Us, the ones who lost their limbs one after the other
Whose mothers have lost all hopes
But not a shadow of pain on their foreheads
We don’t care what happens to us!
But Mother India’s suffering crossed our minds everyday every moment…

O Youngmen! If it ever pricks your hearts..
Remember us once in a while!
Remember us once in a while!!

Rishi Aurobindo’s Message on Independence Day

This message, given at the request of the All India Radio, Trichinipoly, for the 15th August 1947, is in two versions.   The original version [left] was found to be a little too long for the time allotted for the message; so in the second version [right] it was slightly abridged and recast. It is this second version that was broadcast from the All India Radio on the 14th August 1947 ..

 

Original Version

In Bold: Modified or omitted passages

Broadcast Version

In Italic: Modifications or additions

August 15th is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But it has a significance not only for us, but for Asia and the whole world; for it signifies the entry into the comity of nations of a new power with untold potentialities which has a great part to play in determiningthe political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity.
To me personally it must naturally be gratifying that this date which was notable only for me because it wasmy own birthday celebrated annually by those who have accepted my gospel of life, should have acquired this vast significance. August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance.
As a mystic, I take this identification, not as a coincidence or fortuitous accident, but as a sanction and seal of the Divine Power which guides my steps on the work with which I began life. Indeed almost all the world movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though at that time they looked like impossibledreams, I can observe on this day either approaching fruition or initiated and on the way to their achievement. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticabledreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement.
I have been asked for a message on this great occasion, but I am perhaps hardly in a position to give one. All I can do is to make a personal declaration of the aims and ideals conceived in my childhood and youth and now watched in their beginning of fulfilment, because they are relevant to the freedom of India, since they are a part of what I believe to be India’s future work, something in which she cannot but take a leading position. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position.
For I have always held and said that India was arising, not to serve her own material interests only, to achieve expansion, greatness, power and prosperity, – though these too she must not neglect, – and certainly not like others to acquire domination of other people, but to live also for God and the world as a helper and leader of the whole human race. [omitted]
Those aims and ideals were in their natural order these :
– a revolution which would achieve India’s freedom and unity;
– the resurgence and liberation of Asia and her return to the great role which she had played in the progress of human civilisation;
– the rise of a new, a greater, brighter and nobler life for mankind which for its entire realisation would rest outwardly on an international unification of the separate existence of the peoples, preserving and securing their national life but drawing them together into an overriding and consummating oneness;
– the gift by India of her spiritual knowledge and her means for the spiritualisation of life to the whole race;
– finally, a new step in the evolution which, by uplifting the consciousness to a higher level, would begin the solution of the many problems of existence which have perplexed and vexed humanity, since men began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society
[ = the “dreams“]
[ = – a revolution which would achieve India’s freedom and unity; ] The first of these dreams was a revolutionary movement which would create a free and united India.
India is free but she has not achieved unity, only a fissured and broken freedom
At one time it almost seemed as if she might relapse into the chaos of separate States which preceded the British conquest. Fortunately there has now developed a strong possibility that this disastrous relapse will be avoided.
India today is free but she has not achieved unity.
At one moment it almost seemed as if in the very act of liberation she would fall back into the chaos of separate States which preceded the British conquest. But fortunately it now seems probable that this danger will be averted and a large and powerful, though not yet a complete union will be established.
The wisely drastic policy of the Constituent Assembly makes it possible that the problem of the depressed classes will be solved without schism or fissure.
But the old communal division into Hindu and Muslim seems to have hardened into the figure of a permanent political division of the country.
It is to be hoped that the Congress and the nation will not accept the settled fact as for ever settled or as anything more than a temporary expedient.
For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled : civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest.
Also, the wisely drastic policy of the Constituent Assembly has made it probable that the problem of the depressed classes will be solved without schism or fissure.
But the old communal division into Hindus and Muslims seems now to have hardened into a permanent political division of the country.
It is to be hoped that this settled fact will not be accepted as settled for ever or as anything more than a temporary expedient.
For if it lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest.
India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated.
The partition of the country must go, – it is to be hoped by a slackening of tension, by a progressive understanding of the need of peace and concord, by the constant necessity of common and concerted action,even of an instrument of union for that purpose.
In this way unity may come about under whatever form – the exact form may have a pragmatic but not a fundamental importance.
But by whatever means, the division must and will go. For without it the destiny of India might be seriously impaired and even frustrated. But that must not be.
This must not be; the partition must go. Let us hope that this may come about naturally, by an increasing recognition of the necessity not only of peace and concord but of common action, by the practice of common action and the creation of means for that purpose.
In this way unity may finally come about under whatever form – the exact form may have a pragmatic but not a fundamental importance..
But by whatever means, in whatever way, the division must go; unity must and will be achieved, for it is necessary for the greatness of India’s future
[ = – the resurgence and liberation of Asia and her return to the great role which she had played in the progress of human civilisation; ] Another dream was for the resurgence and liberation of the peoples of Asia and her return to her great role in the progress of human civilisation.
Asia has arisen and large parts of it have been liberated or are at this moment being liberated; its other still subject parts are moving through whatever struggles towards freedom. Only a little has to be done and that will be done today or tomorrow.
There India has her part to play and has begun to play it with an energy and ability which already indicate the measure of her possibilities and the place she can take in the council of the nations.
Asia has arisen; large parts are now quite free or are at this moment being liberated: its other still subject or partly subject parts are moving through whatever struggled towards freedom. Only a little has to be done and that will be done today or tomorrow.
There India has her part to play and has begun to play it with an energy and ability which already indicate the measure of her possibilities and the place she can take in the council of the nations.
[ = – the rise of a new, a greater, brighter and nobler life for mankind which for its entire realisation would rest outwardly on an international unification of the separate existence of the peoples, preserving and securing their national life but drawing them together into an overriding and consummating oneness; ] The third dream was a world-union forming the outer basis of a fairer, brighter and nobler life for all mankind.
The unification of mankind is under way, though only in an imperfect initiative, organised but struggling against tremendous difficulties. But the momentum is there and, if the experience of history can be taken as a guide, it must inevitably increase until it conquers.
Here too India has begun to play a prominent part and, if she can develop that larger statesmanship which is not limited by the present facts and immediate possibilities but looks into the future and brings it nearer, her presence may make all the difference between a slow and timid and a bold and swift development.
That unification of the human world is under way; there is an imperfect initiation organised by struggling against tremendous difficulties. But the momentum is there and it must inevitably increase and conquer.
Here too India has begun to play a prominent part and, if she can develop that larger statesmanship which is not limited by the present facts and immediate possibilities but looks into the future and brings it nearer, her presence may make all the difference between a slow and timid and a bold and swift development.
A catastrophe may intervene and interrupt or destroy what is being done, but even then the final result is sure. For in any case the unification is a necessity in the course of Nature, an inevitable movement and its achievement can be safely foretold.
Its necessity for the nations also is clear, for without it the freedom of the small peoples can never be safe hereafter and even large and powerful nations cannot really be secure.
India, if she remains divided, will not herself be sure of her safety.
A catastrophe may intervene and interrupt or destroy what is being done, but even then the final result is sure. For unification is a necessity of Nature, an inevitable movement.
Its necessity for the nations is also clear, for without it the freedom of the small nations may be at any moment in peril and the life even of the large and powerful nations insecure.
It is therefore to the interest of all that union should take place. Only human imbecility and stupid selfishness could prevent it. Against that, it has been said, even the gods strive in vain; but it cannot stand for ever against the necessity of Nature and the Divine Will. The unification is therefore to the interests of all, and only human imbecility and stupid selfishness can prevent it; but these cannot stand for ever against the necessity of Nature and the Divine Will.
Nationalism will then have fulfilled itself; an international spirit and outlook must grow up and international forms and institutions; even it may be such developments as dual or multilateral citizenship and a voluntary fusion of cultures may appear in the process of the change and the spirit of nationalism losing its militancy may find these things perfectly compatible with the integrity of its own outlook.
A new spirit of oneness will take hold of the human race.
But an outward basis is not enough; there must grow up an international spirit and outlook, international forms and institutions must appear, perhaps such developments, as dual or multilateral citizenship, willed interchange or voluntary fusion of cultures.
Nationalism will have fulfilled itself and lost it militancy and would no longer find these things incompatible with self-preservation and the integrality of its outlook.
A new spirit of oneness will take hold of the human race.
[ = – the gift by India of her spiritual knowledge and her means for the spiritualisation of life to the whole race; ] Another dream, …
The spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India’s spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure.
That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice.
… the spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India’s spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure.
That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice.
The rest… [ = – finally, a new step in the evolution which, by uplifting the consciousness to a higher level, would begin the solution of the many problems of existence which have perplexed and vexed humanity, since men began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society. ] The final dream was a step in evolution which would raise man to a higher and larger consciousness and begin the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed him since he first began to think and to dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.
… is still a personal hope and an idea and ideal which has begun to take hold both in India and in the West on forward-looking minds. The difficulties in the way are more formidable than in any other field of endeavour, but difficulties were made to be overcome and if the Supreme Will is there, they will be overcome.
Here too, if this evolution is to take place, since it must come through a growth of the spirit and the inner consciousness, the initiative can come from India and although the scope must be universal, the central movement may be hers.
This is still a personal hope and an idea, an ideal which has begun to take hold both in India and in the West on forward-looking minds, The difficulties in the way are more formidable than in any other field of endeavour, but difficulties were made to be overcome and if the Supreme Will is there, they will be overcome .
Here too, if this evolution is to take place, since it must proceed through a growth of the spirit and the inner consciousness, the initiative can come from India and, although the scope must be universal, the central movement may be hers.
Such is the content which I put into this date of India’s liberation; whether or how far or how soon this connection will be fulfilled, depends upon this new and free India. Such is the content which I put into this date of India’s liberation; whether or how far this hope will be justifieddepends upon the new and free India.
Sri Aurobindo

in SABCL, volume 26, “On Himself”
pages 400-403
published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA

That version ONLY has been printed since 1948 in the booklet of the Ashram : “Sri Aurobindo and His Ashram” – Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press – Pondicherry

Sri Aurobindo

in SABCL, volume 26, “On Himself”
pages 404-406
published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA

 

 

 

” Those 15 days” ( Before Partition ) – 3/15

Those 15 days”  is an account of the 15 days before Independence in 1947. Those were the 15 days of hectic political activity, unprecedented turmoil, foolhardiness of some of the leaders and the acute & deliberate ( ?) mis-management of the British. Sri Prashant Pole is running a series giving details of those 15 days. AriseBharat is documenting these notes into 15 separate articles giving links of the previous articles too..

This is part 3 of the series ; 1st Part is here

August 3, 1947*
– Prashant Pole
This day was meant for a meeting with Maharaja Hari Singh. Ramchandra Kak, the Diwan of Kashmir State, had handed over a formal letter in this regard on the day of arrival itself of Gandhiji in Srinagar. Today, the morning of August 3rd, was same as others for Gandhiji. Although it was month of August, there was quite cold in Kishori Lal Sethi’s house in. Gandhiji was awake in the wee hours as was his daily routine. His granddaughter ‘Manu’ was next to shadow for him. So she too woke up when Gandhiji woke up.
Manu would sleep with Gandhiji. About a year ago, during his tour of Noakhali, Gandhiji started sleeping with Manu along with him in bed. This was one of experiments of ‘truth’ for him. With his transparent and pure heart, Gandhiji never sensed any wrong in this. But this news had become very popular. The Congress leaders were left red-faced. The public opinion started turning against Gandhiji. Finally, Manu separated herself from Gandhiji when he embarked on his Bihar tour after completing Bengal’s tour.
Here in Srinagar, it was not like that. And Gandhiji living with his granddaughter was no more a novelty that would arouse curiosity for people. Gandhiji’s morning prayers were over before the sunrise and he busied himself in cleaning his staying place.
After everything was over, Gandhiji entered Gulab Bhavan, the royal palace of Kashmir’s king Hari Singh at about 11 AM. Even though this meeting with Gandhiji was against the wishes of Maharaja, yet he did not leave anything wanting in welcoming the former. Maharaja himself was standing with Maharani Tara Devi  to welcome Gandhiji in the premise of royal palace. Yuvraj Karan Singh was also present  there for the royal welcome. Maharani Tara Devi welcomed Gandhiji with a traditional welcome by smearing tilak on his forehead and a pancharati.
_(A copper plate has been placed on the tree under which Gandhiji and Maharaja met in the royal palace Gulab Bhawan, but the month mentioned on the plate of their meeting is wrong. Gandhiji met Maharaja in August while the date mentioned in June 1947)._
No trace of any kind of pressure on Gandhiji was visible in that palace. He had a very casual demeanour. Maharaja and Gandhiji had a hearty talk. *However, Gandhiji never told Maharaja to ‘join India’ anywhere’.*  Saying so, in Gandhiji’s opinion, would not be appropriate. It would have dented his image. *According to Gandhiji, he was the patriarch of both countries – India and Pakistan. Unfortunately, however, he didn’t know that the Muslim leaders, who demanded Pakistan, saw him as Hindu, hated him and hence, Gandhiji had no place in Pakistan…!*
Since Gandhiji had nothing to say on what stand State of Kashmir should take after the exit of British, there was not much political discussion. However, Gandhiji’s this visit resulted in the implementation of Nehru’s agenda on Kashmir. This meeting took place on August 3rd and the Maharaja relieved his trusted aide and Kashmir’s Diwan Ramchandra Kak, who placed Nehru in prison, from the service on August 10th. Another effect was that Nehru’s close friend Sheikh Abdullah was released from Kashmir prison on September 29th.
On the surface, the outcome of Gandhiji’s visit seems to be limited to this. *Had Gandhiji demanded to Maharaja to join India, instead of these two demands or along with them, Kashmir’s ascension to India would have happened in August 1947 itself, without waiting for October 1947* and the Kashmir problem, that has arisen today, would not be there…
But that was not to happen…!
——- ——– ——–
Mandi.
A small town situated at the foot of the Himalayas. It was named Mandi after the sage Manu. A spectacular place located on the banks of the Vyas (Beas ) river. It was a cute and cosy Princely State in 1947. However, the king of the State was toying with the idea of his own kingdom after unyoking from British rule. The state and Narendramandal, the organization of the Princely State, were full of chaos. In the meantime, the king of neighbouring Sirmaur State also decided to have his own state without joining India. Now, they understood fully well that having so small independent states was impossible. These Princes came to know that Maharaja of Kashmir too was thinking of keeping his state independent.
Then, these two kings put forward a plan of having a ‘Greater Union’ of hilly states in Jammu-Kashmir, Punjab and Simla. They had met Lord Mountbatten just a week ago. He wanted some time to think about this plan. Therefore, they could not sign the letter of accession in India in hurry and asked for more time for doing so.
Sitting in his grand and pompous office of Viceroy in Delhi, Lord Louis Mountbatten was reading the letter by those kings again and again. As many kings would insist on remaining independent, the British would be put in more hassle at the time of leaving India. Therefore, Mountbatten would not like such small states to remain independent. Still, for the sake of democracy and for the sake of his post, Mountbatten started writing a letter to Sardar Patel in this regard.
Despite knowing that there would not be a favourable decision on it, as he wrote the letter in the afternoon of August 3rd, Mountbatten requested Patel to allow some more time to kings of Sirmaur and Mandi on the Letter of Accession.
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Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was in Delhi today. He had a slew of works since last few days. The party workers of his Schedule Caste Federation were coming to him from all over the country for various works. A lot of correspondence was still pending. Babasaheb could not find enough time for his favourite task – reading. But Babasaheb liked this situation. *In fact, when there was a load of work and he had to immerse himself in it, Babasaheb saw it as a parvani.*
That is why when Nehru asked him last week about joining his Cabinet, Babasaheb gave an affirmative reply but he also said, “There is not much work in the law ministry. So give me a responsibility with much work.” Nehru had said smilingly, “Surely. A heavy task is coming to you.”
And this afternoon, Babasaheb received a letter from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The letter noted that he was appointed as the first Law Minister of independent India.
This was an important and joyous occasion for Babasaheb and his Scheduled Caste Federation…!
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Cyril Radcliff had a harrowing time in the extreme summer of August in Delhi. This fearless and impartial judge from Britain assented to come to India and work on the plan of partition because Prime Minister Atlee had appealed to his consciousness and exhorted him to do so. Mountbatten wanted someone with little knowledge of India to draw the line of partition. Justice Radcliff knew nothing about India.
However, Radcliff came to understand how big burden it was to ‘know nothing’. An expansive terrain, rivers, streams, network of canals and one was to draw just one line on this expansive land that would render many non-existent. The land tilted by generations would turn foreign. That one line will ruin many a people…
Mr. Radcliff knew this very well. And he was trying his best to bring about partition in a judicious manner. Three rooms in his bungalow were flooded with documents and different types of maps. Much of his work was finished today August 3rd. Some controversial places were remaining in Punjab and he was giving finishing touches to them. And at this juncture, he received a letter written by Major Short. Here was a completely regimental man, a typical British. He had written the letter to convey the reactions from masses to Radcliff. His words in it were, *“The people believe that Radcliff will decide as told by Mountbatten”.*
Radcliff got thinking. This part of the letter was somewhat true. Mountbatten certainly had some influence on Radcliff.
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August 3rd.  At around 4 PM, a press note came out from Jawaharlal Nehru’s residence at 17, York House. Since this was a turbulent time, press notes would come out or press conferences would held daily. However, today’s press note was special. This press note was going to assume a huge historical importance.
*Through this press note, Nehru had announced the names of his cabinet colleagues. Independent India’s first cabinet.* And that’s why this press note had a unique significance. The names given by Nehru in it appeared serially as followed –
• Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
• Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
• Dr. Rajendra Prasad
• Dr. John Mathai
• Jagjeevan Ram
• Sardar Baldev Singh
• C. H. Bhaba
• Princess Amrit Kaur
• Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
• Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee
• Shanmugamchetty
• Narahar Vishnu Gadgil
Among these 12 members, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was the only woman. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was inducted in the cabinet as the representative from Scheduled Caste Federation, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee from Hindu Mahasabha and Sardar Baldev Singh from Panthik Party.
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Elsewhere, a press note from Ram Manohar Lohia had reached the offices of newspapers that disappointed many a Goans. Lohia informed the Goans through this press note that ‘Goa’s freedom is not possible with the independence of India. Therefore, people of Goa should continue their struggle for independence as such…!”
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Away from all these development and raging fire of partition, it was day of conclusion for the meeting at Devachi Alandi in Maharashtra of the Communist activists working in Congress. Workers were brainstorming since the previous day.
*Finally, it was decided that a separate group within Congress and with the Communist ideology, thinking of interests of farmers and labourers should be set up.* It was decided that Shankarrao More, Keshavrao Jedhe, Bhausaheb Raut, Tulsidas Jadhav etc. should collectively lead this group.
A new Communist Party was emerging in Maharashtra…
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It was Gandhiji’s last day of stay today in Srinagar. He was to leave for Jammu the next morning. So it was Begum Akbar Jahan had the privilege of hosting this evening’s dinner.
She had duly invited Gandhiji to the evening dinner. *With Gandhiji’s friendship with Sheikh Abdullah, there was no reason for him to turn it down.*
Sheikh Abdullah was in jail, yet Begum Sahiba had a gala of dinner party in his absence. The workers of National Conference were looking after all the arrangements. Begum Sahiba herself and her daughter Khalida were there to at the door to welcome Gandhi.
Gandhiji observed that royal pomp and he become uncomfortable. Any dinner in his imagination could not be so royalistic. Still, expressing his fair reservations to Begum Sahiba, Gandhiji stayed there at the dinner till last…!
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The uncomfortable night of August 3rd was moving forward. Millions of rich families were coming to the partitioned India as refugees through Lahore, Pathankot and elsewhere in Bengal. Fear of life, frustration of leaving the hardly earned properties and becoming refugees, bodies tired with hunger and thirst…
India had just 10 nights before being split…!
—to be continued