Posted in Political History

EVR, The Revolutionary Of The Century

I have never given much thought to EVR or ‘Periyar’ as Ee Ve Ramaswamy Naicker is remembered by the masses in Tamil Nadu. The ‘Vaikkom Veerar’ was limited to my text book knowledge.

Now and then my mother-in-law would burst, the old man was responsible for mixing ‘Paarpan’ and ‘Parayan’ – mutton and curd rice that did not go together. Like any privileged community, mine was principally opposed to the Dalit entry to Hindu temples with the dawn of India’s independence.

Character assassinated with a vengeance of late, my interest in the ‘Pagutharivaalar’ the reasoning philosopher, perked up very recently. All I had to do was ‘Wiki’ – that made for an interesting read.

But for EVR, I discovered, the dalit community in Tamil Nadu would have entirely mass converted to Christianity or Islam. He was at the threshold to Hindu temple at the defining moment, that was kind of make-or-break moment for India. Shame, we needed a legislation to admit a section of our own people into our supposedly sacred temples who we believed would defile the worshiping places. Social reformers were raising a banner in the north India as well, Ambedkar to be specific.

My own grand mother was bitter with Periyar as he had supposedly garlanded the Ram vigraha with chappals and thrown shoes and stones at Ganesha.

All my spirituality garnered over years can only lead me to believe, how Rama would have accepted the chappals as floral tributes and how Ganesha would have looked at his favourite son fondly for his immense service to humanity and Sanatana Dharma. Hindu Gods DO NOT punish. ‘Makkal thonde Mahadevan thondu.’ One need not have to chant the Vedas or go to temples, one could be as earnest and reasonable and justified as Periyar was. My respects and reverence for this man have since grown manifold. ‘I may not step into temple myself, and I am no believer, but here you go the masses!’ said he to the simple samaritan lowest caste Hindus, throwing open the temple doors to them, showing them the God like never before. Neither did EVR convert to Christianity/Islam nor did he change his name (he was named after Rama). His anger to Hindu Gods was the liberty he took with them, because he was born a Hindu. To me, there can be no better ‘bhakthi’ or devotion to God. Pradosham or Vaikunta Ekadesi, does it really matter if you dare to stop someone from stepping into a temple? How can even God reside in such a hollow/shallow stone structure? Is this what God adds upto? Your Abhishegams and Aaraadhanais ? Your Andhadhis and Aarthis?

I tell myself, the power or the aura of the temples is not because of the chanting of the Vedas or the ‘Achcharam’ – the strict rigours followed. Rather it is because of the footfall and faith of the millions who bear the shame and discrimination, yet who do not give up on God brushing aside the indignity they are subject to. This is why Tirumala-Tirupathi, Guruvayoor, Sabarimala, Arunachaleshwara, Madurai Meenakshi temple, Tanjore Brahadeeshwara, Ranganatha of Trichy are powerful mantra temples for hundreds of/thousand years. It is the devotion of the masses that is responsible for the aura of these peetams, never the ‘achcharam.’

To what lows Hinduism has been reduced to? From accepting and celebrating the nude Aghoris (feasting on the dead dwelling in the cremation ground) as the most spiritual among us, we have come to name-calling a man who wanted to right the wrongful historical injustice prevalent in our society.

EVR must have followed the footsteps of Ramanuja, the only true saint I have come to accept. I have never had much to say on the Shankracharyas. My devotion is towards the likes of Shri Ramana Maharishi and Shri Satya Sai Baba who never divided a community, who never judged one on the basis of birth. Service to mankind to them meant justice and equality over anything. And actual humanitarian service not LECTURES. When I questioned a friend on the same on Maha Periavaya, an ardent devotee of him she admitted, the Periyavaa only belonged to ‘their esteemed community’ and was no Guru to Hindus enmasse. Well, that was what I wanted to know. It was a relief hearing that out.

At the doors of Kailash or Vaikunth, I don’t think any Shankaracharya who did not preach equality among humans would have won an entry. I too recite the Kanakadhara stotram. But everytime I sing it I am dazed that such an enlightened soul still failed to see all human beings as equal and was instrumental in promoting the worst divide among the Hindus. As uncrowned heads of the great Hindu diaspora, the Acharyas could have done a lot more to Sanathana Dharma. Caste system is not prescribed in the Vedas. No Hindu God has ever gone into records saying only a particular community can have access to the sanctum sanctorum of temples or to education. All this is man-made, predictably by the dominating community.

So l shall leave this to the smug self-appointed guardians of Hinduism to decide: whether the man who sent to temple millions of cast-off Hindus would be in the Kailash or the Shankaracharyas who barred millions of HIndus from entering the temple, denying them their worshiping rights. Right to God.

Time and again I am reminded of Sabari who bit into each fruit she gave Lord Rama during his Vanvaas. Ram accepted the bitten fruit with love and gratitude.

Does it really matter to your God whether you recite your sanskrit prayers with ‘enforced achcharams’ or whether you walk into temple in ‘panjakatcham’ or ‘lungi’ ? The peasantry’s best temple attire may be a lungi, but there is this raw bhakthi about them, something that the sophistication of education shall never bestow the elite with. Would God bother who is touching Him/Her. Whether you have had meat or liquor or whether you have smoked. A code of decency is fine but it is this enforced achcharam that makes matters worse. Are Hindu Gods that vain as to accord importance to things as superficial and skin deep and not to the essence of spirituality which is much deep and far and above all that that can be prescribed by the dominants. (I am not mentioning a text book as Hindu Dharma does not have one).  I am aware, as a Hindu I can take for granted the Hindu Gods, ridicule/admonish/criticize them – something forbidden to Abrahamists, punishable with death. In that I am proudly a Hindu, despite our fault lines. But then these divisions can be patched. We just needed a social reformer who could knit us together and EVR was one.

Watching the televised Tirumala Tirupathi Brahmotsav, i could not help thinking how the top notch priests who reigned over the Devasthanams happened to believe that a common man either Sudra/Panchama could actually contaminate the sanctity of the holy shrine with their touch/presence. All their spirituality came to naught, this was my thought. It is a sad affair that Hinduism has come to mean only rituals today where spirituality hardly figures.

There is now a story going on in Whatsapp that ‘Thayir Saadham’ (curd rice) is responsible for the IQ of a certain community. How this community which had had exclusive access (call it reservation) to education for over 2000 years  still has not ‘progressed’ like the other rice eaters of Asia like the Chinese, Japanese and the Koreans is a billion dollar question. Over-rating is their biggest problem. A similar reservation exists in the Agama temples of Tamil Nadu/India. (Never heard of the Chinese/Koreans/Japanese proclaiming their intellectual genius at the drop of hat as our ‘englightened Tambram bros and sis!’)

Exposed to education for less than 100 years, the downtrodden SC/ST communities have been faring remarkably well, even if there have been ups and downs in the course. Someone was talking of land grabbing by their politician say, T an imaginative figure. Here is a question for thought: every developed city/town in India was centered around a Hindu temple surrounded exclusively by Agraharas. The Bania street and the Sudra streets formed the next circles and of course the Kshatriyas lived in palaces. We needed a Lord Maccaulay to bring in reforms to include the dalit community in schools and our cities. The torch bearers since were EVR and Ambedkar and even Mahatma Gandhi himself. The British allotted the Panchamas (the dalits) agricultural lands which are also now taken over by corporates and the neo rich of India depriving them of their livelihood. Who is grabbing whose land, I would like to know.

Mastering and memorizing the Vedas and other scriptures for centuries, how can a community boast of having carved a niche for themselves in the society, having denied others knowledge and wisdom through history. Theirs’ is ‘cultivated genius’ that cannot take one past the IITs. Which is why the community that pats itself with the success of Sundar Pitchais of the world, has not progressed beyond this degree. This is why India has not seen great inventions and discoveries beyond the touted first six centuries since the birth of Christ. Those who have been in the race for less than 70 years, the other RICE EATERS (!), are fast catching up with those who have had millennia of headstart, beware!

The great temple builders of Tamil Nadu/India similarly buried their architectural acumen unwilling to share the engineering secrets with others. The Kshatriyas failed their subjects losing their kingdoms. The Vysyas fleeced the poor. The Brahmins remained sancto-sanctified within the four temple walls and Gurukulas.

One injustice however cannot be reversed with another injustice as it has happened with Mayawati, ex CM of Uttar Pradesh, for instance. Reservation quotas can be limited to basic language majors at entry level. In the employment scene, the ‘tehsildar’ offices and corporation/municipal offices can be cent percent reserved for the categorized communities. Some departments in state governments like the Electricity and Water distribution can be similarly reserved to varying degrees for SC/STs. Strictly no reservation when it comes to medical/engineering course seats and for science/tech/medical jobs.

Why again reservation must be an issue in India. Coming from a family that has donated valuable real estate during ‘Bhoo dhaan’ movement as late as in 1970s when the Land Ceiling Act came into force, I have first hand information on sacrifice by the landlords for the sake of the nation. The Vysya banks were nationalized in one big sweep by the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The rulers of princely states of India had to give up their palatial luxurious Maharaja lifestyle and rich family heirlooms for the sake of the nation. Did any of the communities continue to grumble about their sacrifice like the Brahmins do? Do they flee India for greener pastures abroad? Ever heard of May Bank of Malaysia, also founded by a Tamil Chettiar, nationalized by the Malaysian govt one fine day since long? The Chettiars were prime lenders in the south east Asian nation and in neighbouring Singapore. Every single Hindu temple in this part of the world was/is funded and raised and maintained by them. Every single temple in Chennai at least was raised and maintained by the Senguntha Mudaliar community. We never have beaten breasts to proclaim how much we have lost.  Much of our landed estate was donated to upkeep of Hindu temples.

Today, reservation is a raging issue in India. I can only say this: so long as we want to cherry-pick schools such as Vidya Mandir, PSBB etc., for our children, (in Chennai, for instance) and we do not want to enroll our kids in corporation schools, we have no moral rights to criticize reservation. An Indian kid is already a winner or loser depending on the school he/she attends. The unbridgeable gap stems as early as when the child is 3 years old. What the expensive elite schooling cannot give the poorest of this nation, Reservation tries to compensate with, addressing the issue of social injustice as fairly as it can.

Recommendations to higher offices and management quotas are equally if not more evil than reservation (as perceived by the forward communities).

You can see no brahmin/mudaliar/pillai/chettiar working as a scavenger or servant or barber etc., in the city/state. No blue collar labourer from this category. This must say something on their elevated status that has come from centuries of good living. This is why they do not need reservations and they will never go beneath their maintained subsistence levels. Whereas, can our housemaid, our milk man, our auto wala, our roadside tailor, our watchman, our day labourer ever hope or dare to dream of reaching our living standards in their/our own life time? Pity, they can never. They can never become our next door neighbours, not in this janam. My maid is my maid because she was born in such and such a family whose first literate is her son who is now studying for a degree? Is it not my duty to ensure that this family sees the light of the day in our own times?

Sorry, this is the God I know, this is the spirituality i have ingrained, and this is the justice that matters to me. If i have to sacrifice whatever for this, I will willingly.

EE VE RAA is a phenomenon that cannot be sullied by character assassinating him with references to his personal life. Are bachelor politicians mere bachelors or true brahmacharis. To put it straight, are they male virgins really? Someone’s private life cannot be matter for political discussion.

Very recently there was blasting of DMK for corruption: very much deserved, no doubt on that.

At the same time, from the Anna flyover to Kathipara flyover, from free medicals to pensions for govt teachers, from every single flyover in the city to landmarks such as Valluvar Kottam and the Anna library, largest in Asia, from the superspeciality hospital (that was originally built as new state secretariat), from laying foundation for Koyambed bus terminal (largest in Indian subcontinent)/fruit-vegetable market to Chennai Metro Rail (both inaugurated by JJ), every single street in the city bears the Karunanidhi name. Jayalalitha’s is inscribed only in the Nehru Stadium and Amma Canteen. Corrupt or whatever, functionality is more important to me over ‘vetti jambam.’ This is not to justify the wide scale corruption prevalent in Tamil Nadu/India. Administration and law and order were best under Jayalalitha Jayaram. I do miss her. But there was a lot she left undone, that she could have accomplished as the state CM that she was for a fourth term (or fifth) when she passed away…

Posted in Political History

The Good, Bad And Ugly Of Indian Polity

 

“Budhiyulla Manidhar Ellam Vetri Kaanbadhillai;

Vetri Petra Manidhar Ellam Buddhisaali Illai”

 

As India ushers in Her 70th year of Independence tomorrow, here is a winding post from my end where I have done away with links and have instead copied and pasted texts from various sources, which shall take one through a journey of pre-independent India as well as Her recent past. The good, bad and ugly could be personalities or situations. It is upto us to infer who is who, what is what. Added comments here and there. Purely private. Three entries as of now, but the list shall grow.

Updated: August 14, 2017. Watch this space.

 

1. Mahatma Gandhi, Father Of The Nation 

Not my Hero.

 

2. Nathuram Godse, the Gandhi-assassin:

Nathuram Godse – His Last Speech

“May it please Your Honour”

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. Godse’s statement, excerpted below, should be read by citizens and scholars in its entirely, for it provides an insight into his personality and his understanding of the concept of Indian nationhood.

“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.

Well, my take is, Nathuram Godse wouldn’t want his ash to be immersed in Sindhu river today and may heave a sigh of relief. He will know, whatever happened in 1947 turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

 

3. ‘SHE’ WRITTEN BY M O MATHAI, PRIVATE SECRETARY TO JAWAHARLAL NEHRU

This article has a short but important history. It was written on June 23, 1977 by no less a person than M.O. Mathai. He was then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s private secretary. Mathai was an intelligent and competent man from south India, a Catholic by religion, courageous enough to have written two well-known books on his experiences with Nehru and on his times, which became controversial: (1) Reminiscences of the Nehru Age, and, (2) My Days with Nehru. He also wrote the book SHE excerpted below.

SHE

She has Cleopatra’s nose, Pauline Bonaparte’s eyes and the breasts of Venus. She has hair on her limbs which have to be shaven frequently. Physically and mentally she is more of a male than a female. I would call her a manly woman.I met her first in her ancestral home in the winter of 1945. She then had a baby son of crawling age and who was a cry baby. My first reaction was that she was a conceited girl with unhappiness written all over her face. Her second son, born in December, 1946, was an unwanted child. As a baby he had to be circumcised to remove a defect. By 1947 her cup of unhappiness was full and fortune took possession of her face.In the autumn of 1946 her father gave her a small Austin car. She wanted me to teach her driving. In the initial stages I used to take her to the Viceroy’s bodyguard’s Polo Ground for lessons. She was quick in learning. Then I stopped the driving lessons because she was getting into the advanced stage of pregnancy. I told her I didn’t want her to take any risk going into the open roads learning driving. Her second son was born in the middle of December 1946. By the middle of February 1947 she was ready to resume driving lessons. We went into the roads and to Connaught Circus. Then I told her “you just imagine that you know everything, concentrate, consider the person driving a car from the opposite direction is a fool, and go along with confidence driving the car, take a round of Connaught Circus and come back”. She did that and returned in triumph. The driving lessons ended there.Before the middle of 1947 she asked me to take her out to a cinema. From then on we used to go out for pictures as often as I was free – which was not frequent.

She looked forward to taking me out driving over the Ridge with the jungle on either side. She hated small cars. So we used to go in my car which was a Plymouth. She liked to go into the wilds where there were ruins. Drives to regions beyond Qutab Minar were favored. One day, during an aimless drive, she told me complainingly “You do not love me”. I said “I do not know; I had not thought about it”. By the autumn of 1947 I knew she had fallen headlong in love with me without my taking any initiative in the matter. Her face would light up on seeing me. She started talking to me about herself. She said that some time after her marriage, she discovered that her husband was not faithful to her. This came to her as a great shock because she married him in the teeth of opposition from every member of the family. She said she began to lose her saris, coats, blouses, shoes and handbags. She suspected the servants until she discovered some of her lost things on the persons of two women at a party. These women were known to be friendly with her husband. She also found out to which women her husband had given the books stolen from her book-shelves.She made it known rather discreetly what her intentions were about me. I told her I had two inhibitions: (1) I did not like to fool around with married women; (2) my loyalty to her father prohibited anything such as she had in mind. She was immediately forthcoming about No.1. She assured me that some time ago she had stopped having anything to do with her husband. She added: “I can no longer bear the thought of his touching me”. She further confided in me “fortunately he has also gone impotent though he retained his attraction to women”. About No. 2 she was angry with me and asked “What has my father got to do with it? Am I a minor?” 

Since then she spent as much time with me as possible and ridiculed me for my attitude to her father in so far as she was concerned. But I continued to resist gently. I was not mentally prepared or reconciled as yet.On the 18th November 1947 she took me to her room and kissed me full on the lips and told me “I want to sleep with you; take me to the wilds tomorrow evening”. I told her that I had very little experience with women. She said “all the better”. So on the 19th, which was her birthday, we went driving out and chose a place in the wilderness. On our way back I told her that I had some revulsion about milk in her breasts (though she had stopped breast-feeding the child a while ago). Afterward, she did something about it and soon went completely dry. She discovered that I knew little about sex, and gave me two books, one of them by Dr. Abraham Stone about sex and female anatomy. I read them with profit.She was not promiscuous; neither did she need sex too frequently. But in the sex act she had all the artfulness of French women and Kerala Nair women combined. She loved prolonged kissing and being kissed in the same fashion. She had established a reputation of being cold and forbidding. She was nothing of the kind. It was only a pose as a feminine measure of self-protection. She was a passionate woman who was exceptionally good as a wriggler in bed. During the twelve years we were lovers, I was never satisfied with her.Progressively she became hostile to the fat female family friend who used to come to stay. Ever since she saw the family friend welcoming me on arrival with a hug and an innocent kiss on my cheek, she became jealous and livid with rage against the family friend. Occasionally the family friend used to ask me to take her and my “she” to a good cinema whenever there was one in town. My “she” could cleverly see to it that I did not sit near the family friend but only next to her as third in the row.

The day before the next time the family friend was expected to arrive “she” asked me to take her out into the wilds after sundown. In the car I asked her ‘what is the big idea? I have some urgent work to do’. She replied ‘as long as the fat one is here, I will keep away from you because I do not want you to touch me after she has touched you.’ I assured her that I had absolutely no interest in the fat one. Eventually, ‘she’ got used to the fat one’s friendly welcome and departure gestures to me.She tried hard to persuade me to occasionally go up to her room while her husband was there, sit down and talk to them both. I told her that I had no intention of practicing deception. So she used to bring him to my study occasionally.She used all kinds of devices to ensure that her children spent as little time with their father as possible. She told me that she did not want any influence of their father on them because she was convinced that his influence would be bad for them. She concluded by saying: “I do not want my children to grow up as champion liars.” This was one of the reasons why her husband was shifted to a separate room.Once I mentioned to her something which her husband had told me. She said: “Don’t believe a word of what he says. I have learnt it to my bitter cost”. 

She wrote to A.C.N. Nambiar, whom she had known personally for a long time and who was also a friend of her father and mother, asking for his opinion about divorcing her husband. She knew that Nambiar was a dear friend of mine. Nambiar replied to her to say that under certain circumstances it was preferable to have a clear break to living in make-believe. I did not encourage her in this matter, mostly for the sake of her father.One day, she told me that she could not bear the thought of being married to a Hindu. I told her “It is a compliment to the galaxy of great men Hinduism has produced through the ages”.I never encouraged her to come to my bedroom. On one occasion she came. It was past midnight. I was fast asleep, having worked till midnight; she lay down beside me and gently woke me up by a kiss. I asked her “What is the matter?” She said: “I had to come”. I did not know if she had been troubled in mind. I told her: “Let us lie here quietly and do nothing unless you want to”. She said: “On this occasion, I only want to be with you”. She lay there relaxed till about 4 in the morning, and gently tip-toed to her room upstairs. Before going away she told me: “I never told you that once I thought of committing suicide. Such thoughts do not come to me any more. You have given me back my happiness.”

Once, early in our life of love, she told me, “I never knew what real sex was until I had you”. At the height of her passion in bed, she would hold me tight and say “Oh, Bhupat, I love you”. She loved to give and receive nick-names. She gave me the name of Bhupat the dacoit, and I promptly gave her the name of Putli, the dacoitess. In private we used to call each other by these names. About her protestations of love in her romantic excitement, I quoted to her once two passages from Byron’s Don Juan:”Man’s love is a man’s life, a thing apart,It is a woman’s whole existence.In her first passion woman loves her lover;In all others all she loves is love”.She replied, “all right, I want you to tell me as often as possible, not in bed, that you love me”. I tried my best to oblige her. In fact, there was no difficulty, for I had fallen deeply in love with her.One evening, I found her disturbed. When she saw me, she burst into tears. I asked her what had happened. She said that when she came from her dressing room to drink her usual glass of milk, she discovered that there was finely powdered glass in it. The powder was floating on the thick cream. At the first sip she immediately sensed it in her mouth and spat it out. She said that from her dressing room she heard her husband sneaking into her bedroom and making an exit. She controlled herself, put her arms round me and holding me tight, said: “Oh, Mackie, I love you; I am so glad you came up.”

In the Constellation plans on our first visit abroad together, she was all excitement when we were in sight of Mont Blanc. She said softly to me, “I like the Queen Bee, I would like to make love high up in the air”. I asked her:”Didn’t you ever dream of soaring higher up like an eagle and surveying the world? I woke up from such a dream once and found myself on the floor, for I had fallen from the bed without breaking any bones”. She knew I was pulling her leg. On reaching London, she found out the first free meal-time for her, and arranged for me to take her to a quiet restaurant. On reaching the restaurant, I asked her to order the food; I said I would have the same as hers with the addition of six large raw oysters on ice with appropriate sauce to begin with. She said she too would have it. The main dish she ordered was veal. She said “Ever since I arrived here, I have been dying to eat veal”. I asked her if ever she had read Vatsayana’s Kama Sutra. She said, “No, why?” I told her Vatsayana had prescribed veal for young couple for six months before marriage. She had not even read the Ramayana or the Mahabaharata. Her knowledge of the Ramayana was only what her grandmother had told her. In many ways, she was a denationalized person.

She did not like artificial birth-control aids. Once in the early fifties she got pregnant by me. She decided to have an abortion done. She went to the British High Commission doctor whom she knew personally; but he refused to help. So she went to her ancestral home and got in touch with a lady doctor whom she knew personally and in whom she had perfect confidence. On this trip she took her second son with her. After a fortnight the mother and the little son returned with the good news that the boy was cured of his defect in speech in the natural process. Earlier he could not pronounce “R”, and the mother was worried about it; she was in frantic search for a speech-correction expert. On the day of her return, she told me that the whole thing came out without any medication or aid.Was the father aware of her attachment to me? The answer is in the affirmative. Every time he had to go out for dinner, he knew where to find her. Fifteen minutes before the time of departure, she would come fully decked up and sit in front of me in my study. At the stroke of the appointed time the father would pass my study and call her out.

In the winter of 1958 I happened to see something by sheer chance. Immediately after lunch, I went to convey some urgent information to her. She had already closed the door. I knocked; after about five minutes she half-opened the door and peeped out. I discovered that the curtains were drawn and a tall, youngish handsome, bearded man – a Brahmacahri – was in the room. I came away saying “I had something to tell you; but I shall say it later”. That was the end of our relationship. She tried to make me believe several times that the scene I witnessed meant nothing more than some “yoga” and “spiritual” lessons. I gave her the definite impression that I was not interested in her explanations. Gradually she grew bitter against me. In fact, ultimately she became my deadly enemy – which constantly reminded me of the famous couplet of William Congrave:”Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned; nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”Within a fortnight of the incident I collected all her passionate letters and returned them to her. A year later I came across some more in my old papers. They were also returned to her.There is an erroneous belief among some that she and her husband came together during the last two years of the husband’s life. Enough had happened in their lives that a reunion of hearts was not humanly possible. It is true that she was kind and considerate to him during his illness. Certain things were done during this period and more specially at the cremation and collection of the ashes of the husband and well advertised to give certain desired impressions. They were all for public consumption, for, by that time, she had emerged as a full-fledged political animal.

Well….. no prizes for guessing WHO she was!

Posted in Political History

Gandhi Kanakku

(Repost of original blog entry of same title of date March 28, 2016 with due edits)…

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‘Gandhi Kanakku’ in colloquial Thamizh translates to ‘Gandhi’s Account(ing)’ or ‘Gandhi’s calculation’ literally.

The origin of the dubious phrase remained vague. In Tamil Nadu, it was figure of speech widely in usage wherever accounts would not tally proper or when there was something fishy preventing closure (of matters). Bad debts/losses that could not be made good or ‘write-offs’ were referred to as ‘Gandhi Kanakku.’ A loan never returned. A hope lost. That was Gandhi Kanakku.

Why Gandhi. This kept playing at the back of my mind. Where was the connection and what was the logic. How could one attribute something as ominous as ‘Gandhi Kanakku’ to the Father of our nation who led us through the independence struggle with his non-violent Satyagraha.

This intriguing post cleared the air for me with respect to Gandhi Kanakku.  How much of this is irrefutable fact is debatable. What follows is my good guess work with little evidence (sort of):

V O Chidambaram Pillai  (aka VOC) was the first Indian to float a Swadeshi shipping corporation contesting the British which earned him the title ‘Kappottiya Thamizhan’ (the Tamil who floated a shipping vessel) in the year 1908. A lawyer by profession from Tuticorin (Thoothukudi, Tamil Nad), he was sentenced to hard labour in prison for a whopping 40 years during India’s freedom struggle movement. He was with Indian National Congress but was influenced by Bala Gangadhar Tilak and others (who Gandhi could have termed extremists) and fell out with the party on his release (granted early in 1912 before Gandhi’s return to India for good from South Africa).

When Pillai was behind the bars, his law practice licence was suspended by the British government. In the prison he was yoked to work the oil mills manually in the place of a pair of oxen, which made the Tamil poet-patriot Subramanya Bharathi shed tears of blood by way of verses,

‘Thanneer vitto valarthom sarvesa! Ippayirai kanneeral kaathom, karuga tiruvulamo?’

(Did we raise this crop with water? No, Oh Lord, we nurtured it with tears! Can you let it wither?)

VOC ‘s  health suffered, and family with it, which could have made him enter a plea bargain with the British (guess). Pillai’s legal licence was restored but he was barred from practising in Tuticorin. The shipping company had been liquidated in his absence from the scene, incurring huge losses.

V O Chidambaram Pillai and Subramanya Bharathi, the stalwarts of India’s Independence struggle in Tamil Nadu, hardly find a respectable mention in Indian history text books.

South Africa had a sizable Tamil presence, with Tamils having migrated to the continent as labourers chiefly who progressed to one of leading and successful (Indian) communities with whom Gandhi was well acquainted during his lengthy and remarkable residence there, when he represented Indians as legal counsel. The South African Tamil contribution is significant in the African nation’s struggle against Apartheid after Gandhi left for India.

Gandhi could not have made (personal) use of the donations given by South African Tamils meant for VOC’s family who were direly in need of help (the financial assistance amounting to some 5,000 INR, a fortune in 1914), but it is possible he could have held the funds and used the same for Cngress after (V O) Chidambaram Pillai withdrew from the (Congress) party. A chief reason could have been that Pillai was a Swadeshi like Tilak, Bharathi and Bhagat Singh.

Thus the account that must have been settled by Gandhi on his return to India from South Africa with V O Chidambaram Pillai was allegedly never settled. Hence the colloquial phrase that audaciously persists from the 1910s to 2010s – for over a century. Over course of time, the common man lost track of the origin of the word-phrase. No explicable rhyme or reason persisted. Nevertheless the idiom survived in the parlance of spoken language.

Let us take the case of  Vijay Mallya We can say his bank loan repayment is now, Gandhi Kanakku.  An other global Gandhi Kanakku: Lehman Brothers. What say Gandhi-bhakts?! ‘Gandhi Kanakku’ is like a local legend in Tamil Nad.

If indeed Gandhi had denied the legitimate and timely help to Pillai, then it must be a grave crime. Pillai braved what no other Indian could even imagine in his dreams at the dawn of the twentieth century. He spearheaded a bold and trendsetting Swadeshi movement in the south, sailing the first ever Indian merchant vessel, challenging the British. But Gandhi’s supposed treatment of Pillai is hardly surprising given his stern views on Bhagat Singh.

Did Gandhi dare to call the British ‘terrorists’ after the Jallianwalah Bagh? This is the flip side of Gandhi just like he remained indifferent to the interests of the South African natives who were ‘kafirs’ to him for a very long period of time (up until a little while before he set sailing for India).

Having read of his South African sojourn (‘Gandhi before India’ by Ramachandra Guha) I still hold Gandhi largely responsible for the state of affairs India is in today. Indecisiveness. Dilly-dallying. Complacency. That sums up Gandhi for some of us. Doubtlessly Gandhi was Mahatma, the Great Soul, with his endless patience, perseverance and his non-violent preaching all of which have more relevance in today’s world than ever before. At the same time, it might have been highly arrogant on his part discounting others’ ways and means of spirit and honest-sincere-selfless efforts as ‘extremist,’ overestimating his own false and fake ‘decorum’ with the British that was neither necessary nor helpful. An uprising could have easily dislodged the British from India, long before 1947.

Could Gandhi-Nehru have bet Subhash Chandra Bose to gaining independence for India by sheer strategy? The duo legitimized the British colonization-occupation thence. They gave the Angrez a face-saving honorable exit that Bose would not have. Win-win for both Gandhi-Nehru and the British.

Meanwhile we continue to refer to unaccounted money as ‘Gandhi kanakku’ in Tamil Nadu. Lately the 2G scam (starting with Bofors ) and others have joined the list. Remarkably all the involved parties are Gandhis (sic) (originally Ghandys these) !

And if Gandhi’s philosophy could be applicable today, then the Indian State must disband our armed forces and surrender without terms to Pakistan and China and wait for them to relent in their own sweet time.  In other words, Gandhi’s ideology should make us ‘sitting ducks’ direct in the line of fire. This is the ground reality Mr. Guha. Is Gandhi beyond reproach???