The issue of Rebirth
‘India must be Reborn, because her Rebirth is demanded by the future of the world. . . .It is she who must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal Religion which is to harmonise all religions, science and philosophies and make mankind one soul.’- Wrote Sri Aurobindo in Bhawani Mandir, a revolutionary pamphlet.
The blunder of the leaders
More than 60 years have passed from the beginning of our journey as a free nation. We have achieved much; economically, scientifically and technically. We could do much more but for the inherent weaknesses in the leadership of those who took the reign of the country at the beginning of its freedom which still plagues the country, besieged as we are with dangers unforeseen. To overcome such dangers we have to analyse the weaknesses and surge out of it, not only to be the leader of Asia but also of the whole world with the help of our age old spiritual resources, which is our inherent strength.
Jawaharlal Nehru, a fine orator, scholar and gifted writer, was fond of dabbling seriously with words and dreaming the fine things. But in spite of all fine speculations he failed in taking right actions at the right times. It was unfortunate that the charge of free India was entrusted on his shoulders by the one who was a kingpin of his time in Indian polity. The choice of Nehru was one of the series of blunders committed by M. K. Gandhi which resulted in the failure of almost all his political actions, leading to his becoming almost a persona non grata at the beginning of India’s political freedom.
With Western education and rational mind Nehru journeyed through India in the company of the mighty travellers from China and Western and Central Asia, who came here in the remote past. With others he too observed, ‘Surely India could not have been what she undoubtedly was, and could not have continued a cultural existence for thousands of years, if she had not possessed something very vital and enduring, something that was worthwhile. What was this something?’ 1
A Brahmin pundit from Kashmir, Nehru denied his heritage, he was not spiritual in any sense so it seems that he never realized that something.
It is to his credit that he created the voluminous The Discovery of India, a history and culture of Indian past and present within a period of some five months in Ahmednagar Fort Prison in 1944. In view of the fact that there are large number of quotations and references, it seems that either the writer had access to all such books quoted in the prison itself or he might have quoted from other books as secondary sources or the book was later edited though he mentioned that no additions or changes were made later.
However, we know him through this book- ‘I do not usually burden my mind with such philosophical or metaphysical problems. . . . But usually it is action and the thought of action that fill me . . . ‘2
Without denying the fact that there were great people who professed divinity, without denying the existence of the beyond, the invisible world, he did not bother to go into them for ‘Religion, as I saw practiced, and accepted even by thinking minds . . . did not attract me . . . . superstitious practices and dogmatic beliefs . . . . certainly not that of science.’ 3
Mysticism irritated him. He thought that they were intellectual speculations which did not affect his life. Though the logic of karma and soul had some appeal to him, any idea of personal god seemed very odd to him. ‘While I accepted the fundamentals of the socialist theory, I did not trouble myself about its numerous inner controversies. I had little patience with leftist groups in India.’ 4
He was, in short, interested in this world, in this life, not in the other world or the future life. Not a Marxist, he understood the Vedas and the Upanishads through the spectacles of the Western scholars. He did not have an iota of spiritual sense though on it was built the edifice of Indian culture.
Once on 13 June 1963, he with his entourage, visited the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. Two days later while talking to her disciple she said, ‘I saw Nehru – it’s awful! Understands nothing, nothing, nothing, absolutely obtuse . . . . you see, he takes Gandhi’s asceticism for spiritual life- always the same mistake! There’s no way to pull them out of it, unfortunately the whole world has caught the same idea. . . .
‘I had asked S.M. (Surendra Mohan Ghose, the Congress leader) to come while Nehru was here (he is a friend of Nehru. . . .) and S.M. did all the talking. But I saw that if he had been silent, if Nehru had been sitting in his armchair with me, saying nothing and no one to listen to, he couldn’t have stayed! He would have left. It would have been too strong, he couldn’t have stayed.’ 5
Let us see how he acted in the country’s affairs before and after he became the first Prime Minister of India for 17 years.
With the fall of Penang and Singapur, as the Japanese advanced in Malay, England faced a dangerous situation in April 1942 against the Nazis and Japan who threatened to invade Burma and India. The British War Cabinet sent a mission under Sir Stafford Cripps, expecting Indian cooperation, offering Dominion Status to India. This was a dangerous as well as special situation. Sri Aurobindo the yogi had foreseen the boon of the offer. He welcomed Cripps and his offer and the later responded positively. He sent a telegram to the Congress- ‘Accept, whatever the conditions, otherwise it will be worse later on.’ 6
He sent his messenger, Barristar Duraiswami Iyer, who met Gandhi and the Working Committee separately. Among other things, Sri Aurobindo’s view was that British imperialism was an old decaying one but Japanese imperialism was a greater menace. He advised cooperation with the British in collaboration with the Muslim strength. While Duraiswami met with stony silence from the Working Committee members, Gandhi advised Sri Aurobindo through him to come out and lead the country, saying that Bengal needed him most. Sri Aurobindo was away from direct politics from 1910 but he had interest for the country’s welfare, worked to the extent possible in yogic way for the whole humanity. Gandhi further said, ‘Why is that man meddling? He should be concerned only with spiritual life.’ 7
There is a feeling of grudge in Gandhi’s question and kind advice. The Mother had given the reason for it too during her talks. Many others later realised and K. M. Munshi, a prominent minister, said publicly in 1951 that had they accepted Sri Aurobindo’s advice, there would not have been any partition later. Partition brought in its trail blood-bath, human loss, refugees, hatred, war with Pakistan and terrorism. What perpetual holocaust! Could they not be avoided?
On 8 August 1942 the Quit India resolution was passed. The next morning most of the leaders were arrested and put behind the bars. They were brought out for discussions when the British could no more continue to safely keep the Indian empire. The Quit India movement took its expected shape, mostly non-violent. So it is not that Gandhi, Nehru and their group led the non-violent movement towards Indian freedom.
Before the resolution, though Nehru felt depressed with the report of the Mission, he tried with C. Rajagopalachary, it is said, to accept the proposal. So with a demurral, with a prick of conscience for having lost the chance, Nehru later observed- ‘A revolutionary change, both political and economic, is not only needed in India but would appear to be inevitable. At the end of 1939, soon after the war started, and again, in April, 1942, there seemed to be a faint possibility of such a change taking place by consent between India and England. But those possibilities and opportunities passed because every basic change was feared. 8
That Subhas Chandra Bose escaped from the country on the night of January 16-17, 1941 was a great relief to many, who were seeking the throne and their supporters. But Subhas Chandra and Vallabhbhai Patel were many times more efficient than Nehru to be the Prime Minister of India. Gandhi knew that Patel was a real Hindu but not anti-Muslim. ‘It would be a travesty of truth to describe Sardar as anti-Muslim’, Gandhi assured the Muslim leaders. Patel would have broken ties with Nehru more than once but Gandhi made him promise to support Nehru as the Prime Minister and to cooperate with him- an example of personal favouritism at the cost of the country. That is why Nehru became the Congress President in 1946, after a long spell of Presidentship by Maulana Azad, to be the Prime Minister next. He disregarded later the naming of Jinnah as the Prime Minister by Gandhi.
Gandhi non-cooperated with Subhas when he became Congress President for the second term in 1939 against his own man, Pattabhi Sitaramaya. Here we may say that non-violence does not mean non-killing only. Non-violence is in action and thought also. Non-cooperation by Gandhi and his clique with Subhas brought a series of massacres later. Subhas’s going out was disastrous for him and many others though it helped to gain the Indian freedom beyond the conception of most of the leaders. Let us remember him, the Chief Commander of the Indian National Army, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, with a Jai Hind.
After his total disappearance, called death by them, Gandhi observed as the consequence of it, ‘The whole country has been roused and even the regular forces have been stirred into a new political consciousness and have begun to think in terms of Independence.’ 9
Gandhiji did not dream of what Subhas did. And let us see what Jawaharlal felt about it. ‘The story of Indian National Army, formed in Burma and Malaya during war years, spread suddenly throughout the country and evoked an astonishing enthusiasm. The trial by court martial of some of its officers aroused the country as nothing else had done, and they became the symbol of India fighting for freedom. . . Hindu and Muslim and Sikh and Christian were all represented in that army. They had solved the communal problem amongst themselves, and so why should we not do so?’ 10
We know how miserably they failed to do it- Gandhi, Nehru and other leaders of both Hindus and Muslims- during the independence time.
The march of time and events were not lagging behind. Those who really acted did not fear. Congress leaders with Muslim League were summoned to the negotiation table.
On 8 May 1946 the Cabinet Mission offered two schemes of independence- Scheme A for united India with options for provinces and princely states to decide their fate later with a lose federation, with more powers for the provinces than the Centre. Scheme B proposed a divided India. Though Muslim League gave their consent to accept Scheme A with certain conditions, Nehrus did not agree to go with a weak Central Government. So a divided India with its inevitable choice of Nehru as the Prime Minister was the only path left. Many have observed that this was the last opportunity of remaining united while gaining freedom. It would be immensely beneficial for India, Asia and the World, they have argued.
However much depressed Nehru had become, the two communities, provinces and princely states were accorded choice to decide their future in the Cripps proposal. The British Government always made it a point to include such clauses in their agreement with Indian parties while proposing to give freedom.
In June 1947 V J Patel was given charge of 565 princely rulers with options to merge their territories with India in two months before 15 August 1947. With apt negotiations he brought all princely states within the fold of Indian Union except three- Kashmir, Junagadh and Hyderabad which too later agreed to become parts of India. In Hyderabad he used force quite efficiently. But he was not allowed to do so in respect of Kashmir for the Deputy Prime Minister was under Nehru, a man more internationalist than nationalist with a mind concentrated not on India alone.
The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, signed a stand-still agreement with India and Pakistan on 18 August 1947 but the agreement was violated by Pakistan. Tribesmen from there invaded Kashmir on 22 October 1947. Nehru, on 27 October 1947 congratulated the Maharaja for his agreement and for his letter to the Governor General of India. He decided to send Indian Army troops to Kashmir and mentioned all arrangements to the Maharaja seeking his help and ended his letter- ‘The way the people of Kashmir, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, are facing the situation and preparing to defend their country is most heartening. I trust that in this defence we shall give a demonstration to all India and to the world how we can function united and in a non-communal way in Kashmir. In this way this terrible crisis in Kashmir may well lead to a healing of the deep wound which India has suffered in recent months.’
But the historians have held him responsible for further developments and the debacle. They think that he lacked the courage and determination too. He referred the invasion of Kashmir to the UNO in January 1948. P.O.K. was created and the internecine problems with Pakistan and terrorists continue till date. If the Iron-Man was in the Prime Minister’s chair, they think that this would never have happened.
After the partition and transfer of power, ‘Gandhi, sidelined by his erstwhile lieutenants, wandered about the country . . . . like some later day Lear . . . to quell the communal furies. . .’, commented Anil Seal, a modern historian. 11
He further wrote that Gandhi’s own brand of social conservatism through personal reformation, his project to uplift Harijans, desire to take India back to its traditional non-industrial rural roots, keeping communal harmony through Satyagraha and the desire of curbing violence just remained as fragile crust of order in Indian society. His civil disobedience movements scratched the surface of Indian society. They had not shaken the British Raj. ‘Gandhi’s love affair with the India of his dreams had left him jilted.’- Wrote Seal. 12
Acharya Kripalani said in 1954 that, ‘Nehru became a prominent leader of the freedom struggle basically because of the colonial mindset of the Indians. He is an Englishman in Indian clothing. So the respect for him.’
So we found him friendlier with Lord Mountbatten and his wife. So a book, Freedom at Midnight, describing such things vividly, received the grace of the press and his followers in the Government.
Nehru’s China Policy in Free India
Nehru praised China often and on in his Discovery of India- ‘India and China look towards each other and past memories crowd in their minds; again pilgrims of a new kind cross or fly over the mountains that separate them, bringing their messages of cheer and goodwill and creating fresh bonds of a friendship that will endure.’ 13
So he tried to befriend them with bond of Pachasheel, with a loud slogan- Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai.
The friends, crossing the mountains, suddenly attacked us on 20 October 1962 and rapidly pushed inside on 26 October. A mini war! Many braced death heroically. India declared a state of emergency. Unprepared, Indian troops were utterly defeated by the then militarily weak China, who a month later unilaterally declared a ceasefire and withdrew troops.
The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram who knew the Chinese people through her occult sense and eyes, acted on them spiritually and caused their withdrawal. She said that they wanted domination. They claimed huge land in India as theirs. They have recently claimed an area of 90000 sq km of Indian territory including Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, as theirs.
Speaking about Nehru, Mother said on 15 June 1963, ‘It seems that when the Chinese attacked it was a violent blow to his conviction; he thought it impossible that the Chinese would do such a thing (!) He was very deeply shattered.
‘Naturally, they see no further than the tips of their noses, and then they are surprised when circumstances (laughs) don’t agree!’ 14
Rajeev Srinivasan, in the Special Independence Day Issue, 2004 of Outlook, made a strong case against India’s undesirable defeat in the hands of the Chinese. Nehru personally helped China to get a seat in the UN Security Council. India is still hankering after it. Nehru could neither imbibe the heritage of India nor could he be a true socialist. He dreamt of a socialistic type of society. For his weakness India lost the war to the communist imperialist aggressors, who have annexed Free Tibet for their own benefit. Indian Government is still as weak as it was before, not able to speak the truth.
Sri Aurobindo’s Vision
Sri Aurobindo, the yogi, warned from his secluded room in 1950 about the possibility of Chinese aggression on India and of occupying Tibet.
Tibet is the source of rivers that give water to the subcontiment and to some other South Asian countries. Brahmaputra, Mekong, Irrawaddy originate there. It has controls over Ganga-Brahmaputra-Doab valley. In Tibets high plains China stock nuclear missiles, dump nuclear wastes. In open day light China has colonized Tibet, destroyed its religion and culture. It poses a great danger to India.
Mother never considered Nehru as a worthy Prime Minister though she, on his death said in a message, ‘Nehru leaves his body but his soul is one with the Soul of India that lives for Eternity.’ 15 But it is a matter of soul, beyond Nehru’s ken and concern.
The Dynastic Rule
Indira Gandhi became the General Secretary of the Congress during Nehru’s time. It was the platform for her to become the Prime Minister of India from 1966-77 and 1980-84. She proved to be a very strong woman of India but she had to adopt several harmful methods and actions mainly to secure her political position. She had greater understanding than her father, the Mother said and helped her. But the declaration of emergency in 1975 resulted in horribly upsetting the progress of the country. Her sons got the opportunity of pushing their ways unofficially. Her time has been marked as dark economic age in which 50 Acts, many draconian, were passed.
Indira made her son Rajiv the G.S. of the Congress resulting in his becoming the Prime Minister of India. After him, his wife has become the party president and she has made her son the same, General Secretary of the party. The move may be guessed.
Sri Aurobindo, the prophet of Indian nationalism and the poet of patriotism, as said C. R. Das in the Alipore court, was the founder of Spiritual Nationalism. He with B. G. Tilak, Bepin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai lead the Indian freedom movement at the beginning of the twentieth century. Referring to that Karan Singh wrote, ‘The nationalist movement moved out of the conference halls of the elite and entered the streets and villages.’16
In his message to the nation through Tiruchirappally Radio on the occasion of Indian independence falling on his 75th birthday on 15 August 1947, Sri Aurobindo spoke of his five dreams, the third being, ‘Another dream, 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.’
In spite of disasters, we know how his hope is being fulfilled. In spite of the nuclear bomb dangling over our heads, with all reverence to Techno-India’s grand target by 2020 as set by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, with all reverence to the spree of software growth and industrialization, we may say that India’s spiritual teachings and yoga have been working. Orient and the occident, in the opposite spheres of the globe, are meeting through the teachings and establishments of moderns like Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Yogananda Paramahansa, Mahesh Yogi and the latest, like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Amritanandamayee Mata, Satya Sai Baba and the nearest activist, Swamy Ramdev, who has been demonstrating physical asanas and pranayamas to help mankind keep sound health and mind. More the age old Indian culture spread more the mankind will be benefited against all negative forces like war and terrorism, pernicious drugs and experimental medical treatment. These are the positive sides of spiritualism against the exclusive materialism.
Suggestions for the Rebirth
India, almost a continent, containing almost all the physical, mineral and environmental varieties of the world, is the cradle of one of the oldest civilizations on earth. I wish to share Rabindranath Tagore’s sentiment that my birth here is significant. Many things come to the mind as to how we can build a New India. While there are innumerable opinions and beliefs, we may put forward our ideas in the background of what has already been discussed in brief outlines, for each becomes a subject when we come to realize it through discussions and actions.
Sorry, we cannot accept Nehru as the Gentle Colossus, as wrote Hiren Mukherjee, the CPI leader whose birth centenary is here. The result of Nehru’s presence as Prime Minister has been observed. What has happened in the vast modern India with such intelligent man power towards development, is less than expected. None of the Nehru family contributed exceptionally towards building of the nation except creating slogans. Two stalwarts among them were, very unfortunately, brutally killed. We do not understand how after all monarchies gone, hierarchy continues in a modern democratic republic like India or how does a democratic party put forward such a scheme of placement superseding all superiors and seniors. India stands for thousands of years. Let each discover it according to his consciousness, taste and capacity but can others be compelled by such discoveries? It is for the good of the family and the country that such a thing is discontinued forthwith.
We want a united India; it is quite possible at least on the basis of federation of countries. All the communities living in this subcontinent will be benefited by it.
The history and heritage of all ages, as far as possible, must be preserved without being tainted by different ideas. Students must be given the differing views about the past written by eminent writers helping them to come to their own conclusions.
If cast is an old issue we wish to annul, how could we play with it for our political mileage? Free India is more than 60 years old- most of all who were deprived for the prevalence of cast system have passed their life time. Reservations or suppression of merits cannot continue for ever. Let the opportunities for education and training be opened to all with special care for the deprived and less developed ones but merit must be given due honour for the country’s well being.
Trafficking is a heinous crime. Victims are terrorized by various means. In a civilized society it must be stopped. Why on earth some women should live separately, why their main activity shall be to sell their bodies? Are there not many other functions of human beings and do such persons not have many such qualities to work on besides selling their bodies? Why should they be called sex workers? Large numbers of people have vested interests in them but it must be noted that no such person is noble or great in any sense, none of them is really a friend of the victims. Sweden has passed a unique law: They treat buying sex and broking for it as criminal activities whereas all the prostitutes are treated as victims. If a civilized society aspires to progress it should give up the system of harlotry, abolish the brothels. Similarly all transsexuals should be honourably rehabilitated in the society as they too can do everything except sexually, in the normal way, which is in no sense a real bar in life. We should sympathize with them for the nature’s onslaught on them.
Nature and Wildlife must not be allowed to be further dwindled if we have to continue to live like human beings. Proper environment must be maintained. Villages must not be made hybrid products while facilities of the modern world should reach there. Agriculture and agriculturists in a country like India must be given their proper share in life and society. Industrialization and proliferation of software should be done in harmony with other sectors of economy.
While it is individual right to belong to any religious group or not, to accept God or not, no one should play with religions for political or such gains with the net of secularism. Proselytizing should be prohibited. Spiritualism is above ritualistic ordinary religions. Once mankind embraces it there would not remain petty quarrels over religions. Sri Aurobindo brought down the highest spiritual consciousness, the Supramental light and force for the upliftment of mankind, supported and helped by the Mother. It is open to man to aspire for it towards higher life leading to Life Divine. Sri Aurobindo wrote on 14.1.1931 ‘The Supramental is not inconsistent with a full vital and physical manifestation: on the contrary, it carries in it the only possibility of the full fullness of the vital force and the physical life on earth. . . . All other yogas regard this life as an illusion or a passing phase; the supramental yoga alone regards it as a thing created by the Divine for a progressive manifestation and takes the fulfillment of the life and the body for its object.’ 17
The spiritual regeneration of India will lead to its becoming the leader of the world, gaining a global unity, leading mankind towards a higher life, away from war and strife. The may be fulfilled if the majority realize the need for it and act towards realizing the truth, today or tomorrow.
1 Jawaharlal Nehru. The Discovery of India. New Delhi; Penguin edition-2004. p.41
2 ibid. p.8
3 ibid. p.12
4 ibid. p.19
5 Satprem. Mother’s Agenda. New York; Institute of Evolutionary Research. Vol.4 pp. 173-175
6 ibid. Vol.3. p.420
7 ibid. p.420
8 Nehru. op.cit. p.585
9 India Today. op.cit. p.31
10 Nehru. Op.cit. p.634
11 India Today. Op.cit. p.13
13 Nehru. Op.cit. p.211
14 Satprem. Op.cit. p.175
15 Satprem. Op.cit. Vol.3 p.421
16 India Today. Millenium Series. 2000. p.117
17 Sri Aurobindo to Dilip. Pune; Hari Krishna Mandir Trust. Vol-1
© Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2008
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