Tag Archives: Gandhi

Philosophies of Gandhi and Deendayal

– Dr. Walter K. Anderson (American scholar, author of “Brotherhood in Saffron”).

After Mohandas Gandhi’s emergence as the major figure in India’s freedom movement in the 1920’s his life, thought and program became benchmarks against which other Indian political and social figures were compared. There has been a marked revival of interest in Gandhi since the electoral victory of the Janata Party, many of whose leaders trace the Party’s ideological roots to him.

Simultaneously, there has been a developing interest in the life of Deendayal Upadhyaya. Until recently, he was not widely known outside the confines of the Jan Sangh.

It was almost inevitable, both for intellectual and ideological reasons, that the two men would be compared. However, there are major difficulties in any effort to do so. The political environment in which they worked was different; their own social backgrounds were not the same; their most immediate political objectives were not the same. Perhaps, the most difficult problem is the lack of available material on Upadhyaya. Unlike Gandhi, who was among the most public of private men, Upadhyaya was a quiet man who preferred to operate out of the spotlight. The published compendium on his life and thought is still very thin. Research is now in progress in India to rectify the situation and the time may be near when we will get a more complete picture of his contribution to the social and political thought of India. Consequently, any attempt to compare Upadhayaya and Gandhi will have to be very preliminary and subject to much revision as more information comes to light. Those best qualified to speak on him are people who worked closely with Upadhayaya and hopefully they will contribute to the efforts of those who are collecting material on him.

Gandhi and Upadhayaya were primarily organisers and only secondarily interested in philosophic speculation. Indeed neither were intellectuals in the conventional sense of the term – that is erudite and sophisticated men with academic qualifications and long lists of books to their credit. Neither wrote systematic treaties on morals and politics, nor was either a philosopher, in the sense that they were not particularly interested in abstract theoretical formulations. Gandhi, for example, told a scholar researching the concept of *Satyagraha*: “but satyagraha is not a subject of research – you must experience it, use it, live by it” (Joan Bandurant, Conquest of Violence – Pg 146). I suspect similar anecdotes could be repeated of Upadhayaya.

Both men were charismatic figures, though Gandhi had the larger impact, in part because so many considered him a saintly figure, if not a saint. His asceticism convinced many that he was able to realize ideals which many held, but which few could realize. (See study in Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph, Modernity of Tradition, pt. 2). Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress from a rather staid debating forum of the anglicized upper class into a rationalized organization that encompassed a wide range of activities that touched on the lives of the masses. His organizational skills, combined with his charismatic appeal as a Mahatma, transformed the Congress into the effective action arm of the independence movement.
Upadhayaya also possessed the characteristic of the saintly. He gave up the calling of a profession and a family to dedicate himself to the Motherland. His life was Spartan and his adherence to moral standards was of an unusually high order. These traits brought him the respect, if nor devotion, of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Swayamsevaks in the United Provinces where he served as a Pracharak (full time worker) from 1942-51, the latter few years as assistant state organizer of the RSS in the now-renamed Uttar Pradesh. He has a similar effect on the cadre of the Jan Sangh where he was one of the two All-India Secretaries after the formation of the party in 1951 and from 1952-67 the All-India Secretary, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, president of the newly founded party for a few years before his untimely death., commented that were he to have several more men like Upadhyaya he could transform India. Upadhyaya certainly transformed the Jan Sangh. He took over the management of the party at the death of Dr. Mukherjee in mid-1953 at a time when many questioned whether it could survive without a towering figure such as Mukherjee to lead it. There was strife in the small party over control of the executive and confusion over its program. He instilled discipline, broadened participation, recruited a dedicated cadre and shaped its program to espouse the interests of those with little money, power or status. While there were a few minor defections during his life, the Jan Sangh was the one major India party which suffered no significant fissure. That is a testimony to the cohesive organization that he mulled.

Yet, it must be recognized that he was never a mahatma, nor is there any indication that he aspired to such a status. Indeed, he even tried to avoid public attention. From both his writings and talking with people who knew him, I get the image of a man who felt uncomfortable in the limelight, who believed that the organization and its goals were incomparably more important than personal recognition.

So self-effacing was he that, for example, he often would not sign articles that he wrote for Panchajanya, a journal which he edited from Lucknow in the late 1940’s. Consistent with the RSS tradition from which he came, he viewed personal publicity as a detriment to the cause – and the cause was organizing Indians to overcome the internal divisions that, he felt, had historically exposed the country to outside subversion and that has undermined the willing ness to make the sacrifices necessary for economic and cultural revival.

Unlike Gandhi, Upadhyaya was not a religious man in conventional sense of the term. While he was stepped in the Hindu traditions, particularly Vedant, he was not a wordly sadhu and he was not moved to act by religious precepts. However, like Gandhi, he rejected post-Machiavellian trend of western thought that posited the separation of religious and political ideals. In their attempt to fuse the two concepts, Gandhi and Upadhyaya drew on the traditional Hindu concept of Karma Yoga, or spiritual realization through social work. Both accepted the traditional notion that Dharma (individual and social duty) is the legitimate guide for shaping Artha (interest) and Karma (pleasure).

Yet, their approach to the determination of dharma was quite different. Gandhi stressed the individual’s quest of satya (truth) to inform him of the ethical rules that govern man’s behavior. This approach stands out in his oft-quoted assertion that “I would reject all authority if it is in conflict with sober reason or the dictates of the heart. Authority sustains and ennobles the weak when it supplants reason (that is) sanctioned by the small voice within”. Gandhi’s focus on individual effort has led some to conclude that he was a moral anarchist, if not also a social anarchist. For example, he wrote in Young India (March 1931), “there is no freedom for India so long as one man, no matter how highly placed he may be, holds in the hollow of his hands the life, property and honor of millions of human beings. It is artificial, unnatural and uncivilized institution”. Gandhi of course, was not an anarchist in either sense, for he also accepted the Vedantist notion that there is an underlying truth potentially open to all. Moreover, he had a respect for traditional institutions such as the Panchayata and the varna system, both of which specified special social duties and responsibilities.

Upadhyaya on the other hand, emphasized the collective wisdom of the nation as the authoritative voice of Dharma. However, he was also apprehensive that the majority might not always properly understand the laws of Dharma. “But even the people are not sovereign because people too have no right to act against Dharma” (Integral Humanism, page -56). Furthermore, “the truth cannot be decided by the majority; what the government will do will be decided by Dharma (Ibid – page -58). He does not define who the legitimate interpreter of dharma is. It is not unreasonable to conclude from his writings that he thought democracy the system most likely to approximate dharma since it provides an opportunity to detached men dedicated to national well-being to shape and correct public opinion.
The centrality of the nation in his thought rests on notion that it has a soul (i.e, “chiti”), shaped by experiences within a given geographical space and motivated by an over-arching ideal ( Integral Humanism – page 36-37). In describing the nation, he often drew on the metaphor of an organism, in particular the human body, in which each part has its true reality only in the particular function it fulfills within the whole.

“A system based on the recognition of this mutually complementary nature of the different ideals of mankind, their essential harmony, a system which devises laws which removes the disharmony and enhances their mutual usefulness and cooperation, alone can being peace and happiness to mankind; can ensure steady development” (Integral Humanism – page 39). Indeed, it is this organic concept of the nation that, it his view, has been the ideal that kept alive the Indian nation through the vicissitudes of time. It is its unique contribution to political philosophy. His major philosophic argument against the ruling political elite of his time was his conviction that they advocated western notions of society and, in the process, undermined the integral unity that has sustained Bharatiya civilization.

He was far less committed to traditional institutions than Gandhi. His writings are sprinkled with attacks on the caste system, as practiced. In his view, all institutions are derivative and, when they cease to fulfill the integrating function, they should be revised or abandoned. It is not surprising that orthodox Hindus were among the major critics of the Jan Sangh.

Gandhi’s political object was Swaraj (self-rule). But he interpreted Swaraj as more than mere independence from the British; it carried the meaning of an all-embracing self-sufficiency down to the village level. Self-sufficiency translated into a concrete program of action that led him to espouse Swadeshi (self-reliance) and the central effort during the years of the nationalist struggle for Swaraj lay in the propagation of Khadi (hand-spun cloth). Swadeshi served not only an economic function in actual supply of cloth; it also carried significant ideological implications. It was the central piece of his elaborate constructive work program. It was the symbolic representative of his effort against centralized industry and urbanization which he thought degraded the worker. (These products of modernization were attacked vigorously in his tract – Hind Swaraj, written in 1909). His condemnation of western materialism led him inevitably to support the concept of self-governing village communities and a simple low-technology system of production.

Upadhyaya’s writings demonstrate a comparable outrage against the effects of westen models of development. In a series of lectures in Poona in 1964 on Integral Humanism, later adopted as the official ideological statement of the Jan Sangh, he lashed out at both Socialism and Capitalism. “Democracy and Capitalism join hands to give a free reign to exploitation. Socialism replaced Capitalism and brought with it an end to democracy and individual freedom” (Integral Humanism – page 10). In their place, he proposes a model that takes into consideration all aspects of the human condition, “body, mind, intelligence and soul – these four make up an individual”. (Ibid – page 24). In practical terms,, the notion translated into a decentralized economy and political system in which citizens have a meaningful voice in the production process and in their own governance. This populist conception assumes a leveling in both economic and political power. Marked differences in access to power or economic resources would undermine the harmony he believed to be the essential cement of the good society.

Upadhayaya was not, however, adverse to the selective adoption of science, technology or even urbanization. (Ibid –page 8). He thought that they should be adapted to local conditions to improve the economic well-being of the population. Societies must produce enough to feed, cloth, house, educate and employ those within it. To do less would result in misery and strife, thus disrupting the harmony necessary for well-being of the collective. At the same time, however, he felt that consumption should not degenerate into consumerism (Ibid – page 65). “From this point of view, it must be realized that the object of our economic system should be, not extravagant use of available resources, but a well regulated use. The physical objects necessary for a purposeful happy and progressive life must be obtained. The Almighty has provided as much. It will not be wise, however, to engage into a blind rat-race of consumption and production as if man is created for the sole purpose of consumption.”

Finally, both (Gandhi and Deendayal) were suspicious of political power and its corrupting effect on public figures. Neither held a political office and neither aspired to do so. (Upadhyaya once ran, unsuccessfully, for parliamentary, but I strongly suspect that he did so with no great enthusiasm). Gandhi a few months after India attained independence told his closest colleagues, “By adjuring power and by devoting ourselves to pure and selfless service of voters, we can guide and influence them. It would give us far more real power than we shall have by going into government… Today politics has become corrupt. Anybody who goes into it is contaminated. Let us keep out of it altogether. Our influence will grow thereby.” (D.G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Volume-8-pages 278-80). His advise, of course, was rejected by most of his Congress colleagues. Ironically, Upadhyaya, the leader of a political party, would probably have subscribed to his view of politics. He wrote, “Today politics ceased to be a means. It has become an end in itself. We have today people who are engaged in power with a view to achieving certain social and national objectives” (Political Dairy – page 115). Nevertheless, he thought it important, if not crucial, for the detached man of good will to remain in the political arena to help shape public opinion in the path of “Truth” (or Dharma). Consequently, he placed great stress on recruiting to politics men of high moral rectitude.

Despite the many differences between the two men, both came to the conclusion that it is the quality of men in society who will ultimately determine the nature of the state. This is at variance with most contemporary western political though (both speculative and empirical) which argues that conflicting interests are the major forces that shape the state and its policies. Whatever the merits of Gandhi’s and Upadhyaya’s views on the issue, their intense interests in the types of people who worked around them were of fundamental importance in their successful organization-building efforts.

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Nathram Godse Last Speech

Excerpt from “May it please Your Honour”

Nathuram Godse

After having fully considered the question, I took the final decision in the matter, but I did not speak about it to anyone whatsoever. I took courage in both my hands and I did fire the shots at Gandhiji on 30th January 1948, on the prayer-grounds in Birla House.” …and yet the campaign by #psuedoSeculars & #Adarshliberals against organisations like #RSS continues.

Nathuram_godse

Nathuram Godse

On 8 November 1948, Nathuram Godse (19 May 1910-15 November 1949) rose to make his statement in court. Reading quietly from a typed manuscript, he sought to explain why he had killed Gandhi. His thesis covered ninety-pages, and he was on his feet for five hours.

“Born in a devotional Brahmin family, I instinctively came to revere Hindu religion, Hindu history and Hindu culture. I had, therefore, been intensely proud of Hinduism as a whole. As I grew up I developed a tendency to free thinking unfettered by any superstitious allegiance to any isms, political or religious. That is why I worked actively for the eradication of untouchability and the caste system based on birth alone. I openly joined anti-caste movements and maintained that all Hindus are of equal status as to rights, social and religious, and should be considered high or low on merit alone and not through the accident of birth in a particular caste or profession.

I used publicly to take part in organized anti-caste dinners which thousands of Hindus, Brahmins, Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, Chamars and B—–s participated. We broke the caste rules and dined in the company of each other. I have read the speeches and writings of Dadabhai Naoroji, Vivekanand, Gokhale, Tilak, along with the books of ancient and modern history of India and some prominent countries like England, France, America and Russia. Moreover I studied the tenets of socialism and Marxism. But above all I studied very closely what Veer (brave) Savarkar and Gandhiji had written and spoken, as to my mind these two ideologies have contributed more to the moulding of the thought and action of the Indian people during the last thirty years or so, than any other factor has done.

All this thinking and reading led me to believe that it was my first duty to serve Hindudom and Hindus both as a patriot and as a world citizen. To secure the freedom and to safeguard the just interests of some thirty crores (three hundred million) of Hindus would automatically constitute the freedom and well-being of all India, one fifth of the human race. This conviction led me naturally to devote myself to the Hindu Sanatanist ideology and programme, which alone, I came to believe, could win and preserve the National Independence of Hindustan, my Motherland, and enable her to render true service to humanity as well. Since the year 1920, that is, after the demise of Lokmanya Tilak, Gandhi’s influence in the Congress first increased and then became supreme.

His activities for public awakening were phenomenal in their intensity and were reinforced by the slogan of truth and non-violence, which he paraded ostentatiously before the country. No sensible or enlightened person could object to these slogans. In fact there is nothing new or original in them. They are implicit in every constitutional public movement. But it is nothing but a dream if you imagine the bulk of mankind is, or can ever become, capable of scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles in its normal life from day to day. In fact, honour, duty and love of one’s own kith and kin and country might often compel us to disregard non-violence and to use force. I could never conceive that an armed resistance to an aggression is unjust.

I would consider it a religious and moral duty to resist and if possible, to overpower such an enemy by use of force. (In the Ramayana) Rama killed Ravana in a tumultuous fight and relieved Sita. (In the Mahabharata) Krishna killed Kansa to end his wickedness; and Arjuna had to fight and slay quite a number of his friends and relations, including the revered Bhishma, because the latter was on the side of the aggressor. It is my firm belief that in dubbing Rama, Krishna and Arjuna as guilty of violence, the Mahatma betrayed the total ignorance of the springs of human action. In more recent history, it was the heroic fight put up by Chhatrapati Shivaji that first checked and eventually destroyed the Muslim tyranny in India. It was absolutely essential for Shivaji to overpower and kill an aggressive Afzal Khan, failing which he would have lost his own life. In condemning history’s towering warriors like Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Govind Singh as misguided patriots, Gandhi has merely exposed his self-conceit.

He was, paradoxical, as it may appear, a violent pacifist who brought untold calamities on the country in the name of truth and non-violence, while Rana Pratap, Shivaji and the Guru will remain enshrined in the hearts of their countrymen forever for the freedom they brought to them. The accumulating provocation of thirty-two years, culminating in his last pro-Muslim fast, at last goaded me to the conclusion that the existence of Gandhi should be brought to an end immediately. Gandhi had done very good work in South Africa to uphold the rights and well being of the Indian community there.

But when he finally returned to India, he developed a subjective mentality under which he alone was to be the final judge of what was right or wrong. If the country wanted his leadership, it had to accept his infallibility; if it did not, he would stand aloof from the Congress and carry on in his own way. Against such an attitude there can be no halfway house. Either Congress had to surrender its will to his and had to be content with playing second fiddle to all his eccentricity, whimsicality, metaphysics and primitive vision, or it had to carry on without him. He alone was the judge of everyone and everything; he was the master brain guiding the Civil Disobedience movement; no other could know the technique of that movement. He alone knew when to begin it and when to withdraw it. The movement might succeed or fail, but that could make no difference to the Mahatma’s infallibility. ‘A Satyagrahi can never fail’ was his formula for his own infallibility and nobody except himself knew what a Satyagrahi is.

Thus the Mahatma became the judge and the jury in his own case. These childish insanities and obstinacies, coupled with a most severe austerity of life, ceaseless work and lofty character made Gandhi formidable and irresistible. Many people thought that his policies were irrational, but they had either to withdraw from the Congress or place their intelligence at his feet to do with as he liked. In a position of such absolute irresponsibility, Gandhi was guilty of blunder after blunder, failure after failure, and disaster after disaster. Gandhi’s pro-Muslim policy is blatantly illustrated in his perverse attitude on the question of the national language of India. It is quite obvious that Hindi has the most prior claim to be accepted as the premier language.

In the beginning of his career in India, Gandhi gave a great impetus to Hindi, but as he found that the Muslims did not like it, he became a champion of what is called Hindustani. Everybody in India knows that there is no language in India called Hindustani; it has no grammar; it has no vocabulary. It is a mere dialect; it is spoken, not written. It is a tongue and a crossbreed between Hindi and Urdu, and not even the Mahatma’s sophistry could make it popular. But in his desire to please the Muslims he insisted that Hindustani alone should be the national language of India. His blind followers, of course, supported him and the so-called hybrid language began to be used. The charm and the purity of the Hindi language were to be prostituted to please the Muslims. All his experiments were at the expense of the Hindus.

From August 1946 onwards, the private armies of the Muslim League began a massacre of Hindus. The then Viceroy, Lord Wavell, though distressed at what was happening, would not use his powers under the Government of India Act of 1935 to prevent the rape, murder and arson. The Hindu blood began to flow from Bengal to Karachi with little retaliation by the Hindus. The Interim Government formed in September was sabotaged by its Muslim League members right from its inception, but the more they became disloyal and treasonable to the government of which they were a part, the greater was Gandhi’s infatuation for them.

Lord Wavell had to resign as he could not bring about a settlement and was succeeded by Lord Mountbatten. King Stork followed King Log. The Congress, which had boasted of its nationalism and secularism, secretly accepted Pakistan literally at the point of the bayonet and abjectly surrendered to Jinnah. India was vivisected and one-third of the Indian Territory became foreign land to us from 15 August 1947. Lord Mountbatten came to be described in the Congress circles as the greatest Viceroy and Governor-General this country ever had.

The official date for the handing over of power was fixed for June 30, 1948, but Mountbatten with his ruthless surgery gave us a gift of vivisected India ten months in advance. This is what Gandhi had achieved after thirty years of undisputed dictatorship and this is what the Congress party calls ‘freedom’ and ‘peaceful transfer of power’. The Hindu-Muslim unity bubble was finally burst and a theocratic state was established with the consent of Nehru and his crowd and they have called it ‘freedom won by them with sacrifice’ – whose sacrifice? When top leaders of Congress, with the consent of Gandhi, divided and tore the country – which we considered a deity of worship – my mind was filled with direful anger.

One of the conditions imposed by Gandhi for his breaking of the fast related to the mosques in Delhi occupied by the Hindu refugees. But when Hindus in Pakistan were subjected to violent attacks he did not so much as utter a single word to protest and censure the Pakistan Government or the Muslims concerned. Gandhi was shrewd enough to know that while undertaking a fast unto death, had he imposed some conditions on the Muslims in Pakistan, here would have been found hardly any Muslims who could have shown some grief if the fast had ended in his death. It was for this reason that he purposely avoided imposing any conditions on the Muslims.

He was fully aware from past experience that Jinnah was not at all perturbed or influenced by his fast and the Muslim League hardly attached any value to the inner voice of Gandhi. Gandhi is being referred to as the Father of the Nation. But if that is so, he has failed in his paternal duty in as much he has acted very treacherously to the nation by his consenting to the partitioning of it. I stoutly maintain that Gandhi has failed in his duty. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan. His inner-voice, his spiritual power, his doctrine of non-violence of which so much is made of, all crumbled against Jinnah’s iron will and proved to be powerless.

Briefly speaking, I thought to myself and foresaw that I shall be totally ruined, and the only thing I could expect from the people would be nothing but hatred and that I shall have lost all my honour, even more valuable than my life, if I were to kill Gandhiji. But at the same time I thought that the Indian politics in the absence of Gandhiji would surely be practical, able to retaliate and would be powerful with the armed forces. No doubt, my own future would be totally ruined, but the nation would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan. People may even call me or dub me as devoid of any sense or foolish, but the nation would be free to follow the course founded on the reason, which I consider necessary for sound nation-building.

After having fully considered the question, I took the final decision in the matter, but I did not speak about it to anyone whatsoever. I took courage in both my hands and I did fire the shots at Gandhiji on 30th January 1948, on the prayer-grounds in Birla House. I do say that my shots were fired at the person whose policy and action had brought rack and ruin and destruction to millions of Hindus. There was no legal machinery by which such an offender could be brought to book and for this reason I fired those fatal shots. I bear no ill will towards anyone individually, but I do say that I had no respect for the present government owing to their policy, which was unfairly favourable towards the Muslims. But at the same time I could clearly see that the policy was entirely due to the presence of Gandhi.

I have to say with great regret that Prime Minister Nehru quite forgets that his preaching and deeds are at times at variance with each other when he talks about India as a secular state in season and out of season, because it is significant to note that Nehru has played a leading role in the theocratic state of Pakistan, and his job was made easier by Gandhi’s persistent policy of appeasement towards the Muslims. I now stand before the court to accept the full share of my responsibility for what I have done and the judge would, of course, pass against me such orders of sentence as may be considered proper. But I would like to add that I do not desire any mercy to be shown to me, nor do I wish that anyone should beg for mercy on my behalf.

My confidence about the moral side of my action has not been shaken even by the criticism levelled against it on all sides. I have no doubt that honest writers of history will weigh my act and find the true value thereof someday in future.”

Nathuram Godse was hanged a year later, on 15 November 1949; as per his last wishes, his family and followers have preserved his ashes for immersion in the Indus River of a re-united India.

Justice K.T Thomas – “RSS Not Responsible for Gandhiji’s assasination”

 

 

Also read short Report in Indian Express

August 2nd, 2011 : Former Supreme Court judge K T Thomas praised the RSS for its discipline and said the propaganda that the organisation is anti-minority is “baseless”.

Speaking at a function here,attended by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat,he also said the “smear campaign” against the RSS that it was responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi must end.

“There is a smear campaign that RSS was responsible for Gandhi’s assassination just because the assassin was once an RSS worker,” he said,adding that the organisation had been “completely exonerated” by the court. “This smear campaign must end against RSS,” he said.

“Can the entire Sikh community be responsible for Indira Gandhi’’s assassination,” Thomas asked.

“I am a Christian. I was born as a Christian and practise that religion. I am a church-going Christian. But I have also learnt many things about RSS,” he said.

He said he became an admirer of the RSS in 1979 when he was posted as district judge of Kozhikode,adding that simple living and high thinking was its hallmark.

During the Emergency,RSS was the only non-political organisation which fought against it,he said. “We owe very much to RSS for sacrificing many lives for regaining our fundamental rights,” said Thomas.

“The propaganda that RSS is anti-minority is also baseless,” he said,adding that he is a great admirer of the organisation as it gives importance to discipline.

Indian Science & Technology and Education System – Dharampal

Dharampalji writes

Since Independence in 1947, it is this question of reconstruction of self and society on the foundation of our priorities, values, tradition and culture that seems to have completely eluded us, particularly our scholars, administrators and politicians. We appear to have forgotten that we can look back and learn from our own past. And based on that experience, construct our own unique identity within the context of our own affairs as well as that of the rest of the world. What do we as a nation – without leaning on others’ ideological and material crutches – want? Do we have ingenuity or not? Can we make our points-as against aligning with one sort or another? I have a point to make as Indians?

His works include “The Beautiful Tree ” and “Indian Science & Technology in the Eigteenth Century” among a host of other writings.

For any serious student of India, they are a must read.

Download “Indian-Science-and-Technology in the 18th century

In case you are short of time, atleast read the Introduction of 36 pages of the book to get an insight. We are sure you will ask for more.

Jatindranath Das – A Forgotten Hero

 On September 13, 1929, a youth from Bengal gave up his life in a prison of Lahore fasting for 63 days. 

 

The year 1929 was also when India’s freedom movement was getting the better of Gandhi. In 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai, who had an illustrious past in pre-Gandhian Congress, but like other Arya Samajists had become a Gandhian, succumbed to injuries from lathi charge at a Anti-Simon Commission rally in Lahore. The Bhagat Singh troika, in order to avenge Lalaji’s death, shot down the guilty police officer Saunders in broad daylight. Bhagat Singh escaped from Lahore and resurfaced on April 8, 1929, with Batukeshwar Dutt at Delhi’s Central Legislative Assembly, hurling two crude bombs and bundles of propaganda pamphlets.

 

Within days of Bhagat Singh’s arrest, police unearthed a house in Lahore used as a bomb making workshop. It followed a string of arrests like Sukhdev, Hansraj and Jaigopal; and further Shiv Verma, Rajguru, Vijay Singh and finally Jatin Das from Calcutta. This sensational event became popular as the Lahore Conspiracy Case that ultimately led to the execution of Bhagat Singh-Rajguru-Sukhdev on March 23, 1931.

 

But a year and half before Bhagat Singh trio, Lahore Conspiracy Case, claimed another victim viz Jatin Das. He laid down his life in a Lahore prison in Gandhian fashion. But Gandhi’s attitude towards him was more cold and intriguing. Subhas Bose, who admired Jatin Das wrote, “Jatin Das was twenty-five at the time of his death. While a student he had joined the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1921 and had spent several years in prison. At the time of the Calcutta Congress in 1928 and after, he had taken a leading part in organising and training volunteers…” (pp 179-80). Whether at Cellular Jail (where Savarkar stayed) or Mandalay (where Bose was incarcerated) Britishjailers treated extremist political prisoners as harshly as any murderer or robber. In June, arrestees of Lahore Conspiracy Case decided to go on hunger strike to protest against atrocities. Though Jatin Das did not initiate that hunger strike, nonetheless he stopped them from deserting. The hunger strike aroused intense agitation in the country, but little softened the heart of the British authorities.

 

Bose chronicled subsequently, “As the days rolled by, one by one the hunger-strikers dropped off, but young Jatin was invincible. He never hesitated, never faltered for one small second but marched straight on towards death and freedom. Every heart in the country melted but the heart of the bureaucracy did not.  So Jatin died on September 13th. But he died a martyr’s death.

 

After his supreme sacrifice, the whole country gave him an ovation which few men in our recent history have received. As his body was removed from Lahore to Calcutta for cremation, people assembled in their thousands and tens of thousands at every station to pay their homage” (p 179).  

 

Bose wrote, “In this connection, the attitude of the Mahatma was inexplicable. Evidently, the martyrdom of Jatin Das, which had stirred the heart of the country, did not make any impression on him. The pages of Young India ordinarily filled with observations on all political events and also on topics like health, diet, etc., had nothing to say about the incident. A follower of Mahatma, who was also a close friend of the deceased, wrote to him inquiring as to why he had said nothing about the event. The Mahatma replied to the effect that he had purposely refrained from commenting, because if he had done so, he would have been forced to write something unfavourable” (p 180).

 

When will the Nation Give Him His Due ?

 

Source : Daily Pioneer