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A RELOOK AT INDIAS FREEDOM STRUGGLES

The history of Indias freedom struggle needs to be rewritten to cover 500 years to include
struggles against foreign rulers from the Delhi Sultanate to the end of the Mughal Empire.
The British rule was only a transitional phase in this long struggle.
Navaratna Rajaram

Background:
We advisedly use the plural freedom struggles to highlight the fact that the activity
that led to the transfer of power in 1947 was only the latest and probably the least virulent of
the struggles waged by the Indian people against foreign rule.
In his work on the history of the Freedom Movement in India, Romesh Chandra.
Majumdar, widely regarded as Indias preeminent historian of the twentieth century observed
that the Freedom Movement was being presented from the perspective of modern politics. In
particular he noted that post-independent politicians claimed that India had been under
foreign rule only for two centuries from which Gandhi and the Congress Party managed to
free it in 1947. In Majumdars words:
It is an ominous sign of the time that Indian history is being viewed in official circles
from the perspective of recent politics. The official history of the freedom movement starts
with the premise that India lost independence only in the eighteenth century and had thus an
experience of subjection to a foreign power for only two centuries. Real history, on the other
hand, teaches us that the major part of India lost independence about five centuries before,
and merely changed masters in the eighteenth century.
There is now a growing historical consensus that what forced the British to leave
India in 1947 was not the Gandhi-led Quit India Movement of 1942 which had collapsed
within weeks, but Subhas Chandra Boses Azad Hind Movement which resulted in the British
losing support of the Indian Armed Forces which was the main prop of the Empire. In
support Majumdar cited the statement of the then British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to
that effect. There was a mutiny in the Indian Navy, and soldiers at several military bases
refused to obey orders from their British superiors when the INA soldiers and officers were to
be tried for treason at Red Fort INA trials.
Since at least Subhas Boses role is now gaining recognition, it is time that we revisit
earlier periods also that were characterized by struggle against Islamic rule sending it into
terminal decline allowing the British to fill the vacuum and become the paramount power in
India. There is no shortage of records for this period. But post 1947 politicians and their
historians find it inconvenient to bring this to public attention in order to claim full credit for
Indias freedom.

It is important to note that the Muslim dynasties that ruled India never identified
themselves as Indians but always emphasized their foreign origin and even loyalty to Islam
before India. This particularly came to the fore during the 1921 Khilafat Movement in which
Gandhi sacrificed the goal of Swaraj in favour of the restoration of the Sultan of Turkey as
the Caliph of the Islamic world as demanded by Indias Muslim leaders, though the Turks
themselves had no use for him. As Majumdar put it:
If a hundred million Muslims are more vitally interested in Turkey and other Muslim
states outside than they are in the fate of India, they can hardly be regarded as a unit of the
Indian nation. Any rule by such people can only be seen as foreign rule.
It is little different today, with many Muslims today in India as elsewhere expressing
solidarity with the ISIS and its goal of establishing the Caliphate. Gandhis esteemed friend
and colleague Maulana Ahmad Ali expressed solidarity with the Afghan Emir, when he said,
If the Afghans invaded India to wage holy war, the Indian Mohammedans are not only
bound to join them, but also to fight the Hindus if they refuse to cooperate with them [the
invaders].
Muhammad Ali in his presidential address to the Congress in 1923 added in good
measure: Extra-territorial sympathies are a quintessential part of Islam. So there is nothing
new in Kashmir or the so-called refugee crisis engineered by ISIS in Europe. It is only an
invasion that Europe does not want to recognize as such. The Khilafat may be seen as its
prototype and dress-rehearsal.
This longish passage is given here only to emphasize the fact that the Muslim
leadership in India never saw themselves as Indians. It is the same today in Europe and
America. To them only the deserts of Arabia that gave birth to Islam are sacred and their
spiritual homeland.
The trigger for the departure of the British in 1947 was the INA trials of 1946 which
infuriated Indian soldiers and sailors who saw them as national heroes while the British tried
them as war criminals, and mutinied. The British saw the writing on the Wall and decided to
leave in a hurry. Mountbatten who had announced June 1948 as the date of British
withdrawal preponed it to August 1947 to avoid having to deal with a full-fledged mutiny by
the armed forces, bringing back memories of the 1857 mutiny.
But Majumdar went further. He pointed out that the Congress claim of having brought
freedom from foreign rule in 1947 ignored the reality that India had been under foreign rule
for five centuries before the British rule, and only changed masters in the 18th century when
the British replaced Moguls and other foreign rulers. Majumdar also noted that the 1857
uprising could not be seen as a freedom movement. In this he was supported by the historian
Sita Ram Goel who saw the 1857 uprising as an effort by remnants of dispossessed elements
to recover what they had lost to the British.
This raises fundamental questions not only about history but also historiography.
What applies to the 1857 uprising applies equally, if not more strongly to the 1921 Non-

Cooperation Movement in which the Muslim leadership turned Swaraj into an agitation for
the restoration of Muslim power by getting Mahatma Gandhi to support the Khilafat. This
similarity between the 1857 uprising and the Khilafat Movement seems to have escaped
most historians. Both tried to bring back discredited rulers the Ottoman Sultan and the
Moghul king Bahadur Shah. Worse, the Khilfat which Gandhi supported had no relevance to
India being unwanted even in Turkey where the people had rejected the defeated Sultan who
had brought untold miseries on the country.
Forgotten Freedom struggles
There is now a growing historical consensus that what forced the British to leave
India in 1947 was not the Gandhi-led Quit India Movement of 1942 which had collapsed
within weeks, but Subhas Chandra Boses Azad Hind Movement which resulted in the British
losing support of the Indian Armed Forces which was the main prop of the Empire. In
support Majumdar cited the statement of the then British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to
that effect. There was a mutiny in the Indian Navy, and soldiers at several military bases
refused to obey orders from their British superiors when the INA soldiers and officers were to
be tried for treason at Red Fort INA trials.
Also forgotten in all this is the important role played by the Swadeshi Movement
following the Partition of Bengal in 1905. Many of its heroes were incarcerated in the
Andamans for years.
Since Subhas Boses role is now gaining recognition, it is time that we revisit earlier
periods also that was characterized by struggles against Islamic rule which had gone into
serious decline allowing the British to fill the vacuum and become the paramount power in
India. There is no shortage of records for this period. But post 1947 politicians find it
inconvenient to bring this to public attention.
To get back to Majumdars observation that the British Rule was preceded by five
centuries of foreign rule, by Muslims who never identified with India as their country, the
question arises who defeated them, for when the British became paramount in the 18th
century the Mughals were a spent force in India, as were other Muslim states.
The Mughals were only the latest and the last Muslim rulers whom the British
replaced in the 18th century. They had replaced earlier rulers, both Hindu and Muslim, who
were in a perpetual state of conflict and confrontation for several centuries before the
Moghuls became the paramount power in India. Moghuls were overthrown by the Marathas
in the south and central India while Rajput and Sikh rulers reigned in the West and the North
all the way to Kashmir and the Khyber Pass. As historian Abraham Eraly observed,
The Mughals effectively ruled India for about 150 years during the 16th and 17th
centuries, a period roughly comparable with that of the British Raj. On the whole,
comparisons favor the latter. The British bequeathed India an impressive network of
communications, a legal system and viable administration, a tradition of democratic
government that has survived, except for a brief interlude when Indira Gandhi imposed the
so-called Emergency.

The Mughal Empire ended for all intents and purposes with the death of Aurangazeb
in 1707. When Mughal power dwindled, the subcontinent degenerated into a patchwork of
warring fiefs, a chaos that offered easy pickings for predatory European imperialists. The Taj
Mahal, Shah Jahan's great masterpiece, may compare favorably with Edwin Lutyens's palace
in New Delhi, but after the death of Aurangzeb many of the Mughal monuments crumbled; it
took an English viceroy (Lord Curzon) to rescue some of them from dereliction.
The Mughals failed because they made little, if any, effort to drag India out of the
Middle Ages. They probably had no idea they were still living in the Middle Ages. The
Mughal Empire, writes Abraham Eraly, "lagged way behind Europe, behind even China,
Japan and Persia. There was hardly any vigor in the economy, scant spirit of enterprise
among the people. In agriculture, industry and trade, Indian practices were archaic. There was
no ferment of ideas'' The Mughals were successful conquerors but inept governors.
The successors of Aurangazeb were totally unfit to rule. They did nothing to cure the
endemic weaknesses of Indian society and added fresh economic burdens through the
profligacy of their courts and the cost of their military campaigns. They were copied by other
rulers who had filled the vacuum created by the collapse of Mughal rule following
Aurangazebs death in 1707. That was the end of the Middle Ages in India, which like the
Middle Age in Europe was characterized by religious control of all aspects of secular life.
The Vaticans claim was that both religious and secular were ruled by the church and
kings and knights were only the secular arm of the church. This was the attitude of Muslim
rulers of India also until they lost power to Hindus and Sikhs and later to the British. In fact,
the Muslim rulers had no concept of governance independent of their religion, which they
saw simply as justification for their despotism.
Dark Age
Coming to India, a major problem was there was no concept of economic activity
with the Muslim ruling class. Their idea of wealth creation was acquisition by plunder and
extortion. Since the Muslim leadership set no example of productive enterprise to enrich the
economy, they enriched themselves but impoverished the country with their predatory
activities. As a result, India, which was one of the worlds richest countries was economically
drained by centuries of Muslim rule. The British plundered what was left, but this was mainly
mineral wealth like gold, coal, iron ore and other natural resources.
The British have been universally blamed for India becoming a poor country, but the
destruction of the economic base and its productive economy by five centuries of plunder and
exploitation cannot be ignored. This is not to excuse the plunder by the British. But by and
large, the British left traders and businesses to their own, except many crafts were ruined by
the Industrial Revolution. This was the result of the insularity of Moghul society and
inattention to education.
Worse, the Moghuls and other Muslim rulers left no method of government
especially for transfer of power from one rule to the next. It was pure accident that there
happened to be a succession of capable rulers from Babar to Aurangazeb after which it was
utter chaos until the Marathas eliminated them altogether and the British did away with any
pretense of Moghul power by exiling Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1858, following the failure of
the 1857 uprising.

It is a similar story when we come to education. Ancient India had many institutions
of learning like Taxila, Ujjain, Vikramashila and Nalanda that had attracted students and
scholars from all over Asia and beyond. The Islamic invasions destroyed most of them and it
was not until the British in the 19th century that universities were re-established in India. It is
not surprising that India missed both the scientific revolution and the industrial revolution.
The destruction of Indian learning was recorded by Al-Baruni who accompanied
Muuhammad of Ghazni in his campaigns in India. As he noted Muhahammad reduced Hindu
centres to atoms of dust. Not a single name of any Muslim scientist or his work survives
from the five centuries and more of Islamic rule in India. We still need to go to pre-Islamic
names like Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Varahamihira and the like to learn about Indias scientific
past. They have no Muslim counterparts.
It is a similar story when we look at other parts of the world that came under Islamic
domination from Greece and Turkey to Persia. Only Japan escaped.
It would appear therefore the idea of Islamic science is a modern myth that finds no
support in India. On the other hand the Islamic period in India was a Dark Age of the deepest
hue. It is no surprise that India missed the industrial revolution and its fruits. Even during the
Mughal era, Jantar Mantar and other astronomical observatories were built by Hindu rulers.
So in treating the five centuries before the beginning of British rule in India, which
may conveniently be placed in 1757, as part of the foreign rule, we need to look at the
struggle against them also as part of the Freedom Struggle, for by 1757, the greater part of
India was no longer in the grip of Muslim religious rule.
Religious Despotism
Indian history has been divided into Hindu, Muslim and British periods. This is hardly
satisfactory since the so-called Hindu period covers several thousand years while the British
period covered less than two centuries but had a major influence on education and politics
far more than the Islamic period that lasted more than twice as long. The education and
government systems in India are essentially what were created during the British period.
Even the Indian Constitution draws heavily upon the Government of India Act of 1935. Many
Indians like Madan Mohan Malaviya, Ashutosh Mukherji, Benegal Subba Rao and B.R.
Ambedkar contributed, but drew their ideas mainly from Western models and institutions.
What the Muslim rulers brought to India was religious despotism of a kind that was
unknown to Indians. Muslim kings like the Christian kings of Medieval Europe invoked their
God as authority to justify their rule which often included religious war against non-Muslims.
So any account of the freedom movement must include the struggle against this despotism. It
cannot be limited to the British period leading to transfer of power in 1947.
The first phase of this struggle was against the Delhi Sultanate and was led by
Vijayanagara. It put an end to Sultanate rule in much South India, though there were a few
remnant pockets of Muslim rule in parts of South India. North India remained in turmoil with
continual conflicts among numerous contenders both Hindu and Muslim. It was this India
that the Moghul Warrior Babar invaded and founded the Moghul Empire which is
conveniently dated to 1526. It is more properly dated to 1556 when Akbars regent Bairam

Khan defeated the Hindu king Hemachndra Vikramaditya of Delhi. It was Bairam Khans
regency that secured the Moghul throne for Akbar.
For the next century and half, a succession of Mughul kings ruled the greater part of
North India and Afghanistan. Akbars great-grandson Aurangazeb extended the empire to
include parts of the Deccan but in the process overreached himself and began the decline and
final dissolution of Moghul rule. Marathas in the south and Sikhs and Rajputs in the north
and west took advantage of weak rule by Aurangazebs successors to establish independent
kingdoms. Most of these entered into treaty alliances as subsidiary states when the British
replaced the Moghuls and the Marathas as the paramount power in India in the 18th century.
While Maratha contribution beginning with Shivaji Bhonsle (Chatrapati) are justly
renowned, the Rajputs have not received their share of credit. Even the Third Battle of
Panipat that all but ended Maratha power in North India might not have been won by the
Afghans had the Maratha commander Sadashiva Bhau had been more diplomatic in his
dealings with Rajput princes, especially the Durga Das Rathore of Marwar who controlled
supply routes in the region, the Marathas might have prevailed against the Afghans. Earlier,
the Rajputs led by Raj Singh of Mewar had inflicted heavy losses on the Moghuls, leading to
its dissolution of Moghul rule in the north. They were helped by the greed and incompetence
of Aurangazebs son Akbar but they were astute enough to grasp the opportunity. Earlier
Durga Das, had saved Mewar from Aurangazebs designs to turn it into a Muslim kingdom.
As just noted the Afghans might have been defeated in the Third Battle of Panipat if
only Sadashiva Bhau had shown better diplomatic judgment in his dealings with Rathore. But
Raj Singh of Mewar and Rathore of Marwar find little mention in the history books in use
today.
1857 uprising and the 1947 transfer of power
Throughout these five centuries when Muslims were in power, Indians were engaged
in a continual struggle against foreign rules like Turks, Afghans and finally the Moghuls.
Most of them had been overthrown by the 18th century when the British became the
paramount power in India. There remained a few pockets of native rule who came to an
understanding with the British, as they had done with the Moghuls and with the Vijayanagar
Empire earlier.
It is therefore a serious contraction of history to limit the Freedom Struggle to the
movements led by the Congress party, ignoring the centuries of struggles and sacrifices
lasting over five centuries. This struggle was also far from non-violent and involved many
wars and much bloodshed. In fact, it was led by heroes subscribing to the kshatra spirit as
was Subhas Bose two centuries later.
To regard Indias transfer of power in 1947 as the result of a non-violent struggle is a
utopian fantasy that has benefited a few groups who had earlier enjoyed the patronage of the
ruling British. The British essentially handed power to leaders friendly to them like Gandhi
and his protg Nehru instead of a nationalist firebrand like Subhas Bose.
It is worth noting that many who claimed to have fought the British had been
beneficiaries of British rule. The Nehru family had benefited by serving both the British and

the Moghuls earlier. To regard them as heroes of the freedom struggle while ignoring the
contributions and sacrifices of earlier heroes is a travesty and a gross injustice.
The real struggle of these so-called (mostly self-styled) freedom fighters was to
obtain maximum benefits for themselves and their families in the aftermath of the transfer of
power in 1947. This they did quite successfully with the result India today, especially the
Congress party is dominated by dynastic politics and nepotism. It is most prominent in the
Nehru family that is supposed to have fought for freedom but in fact was a beneficiary of two
imperialisms both Moghul and British.
This forces us to confront two popular myths: (1) The transfer of power of 1947 as the
result of the nonviolent freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi and his followers, notably
Jawaharlal Nehru, and (2) the rebellion of 1857 as the first war for freedom that was put
down by the British.
We have already seen that the 1947 transfer was not due to any freedom struggle but
the logical culmination of agitations for increasing concessions from the British rulers. The
final push came from the naval mutiny and the reaction of Indian soldiers following the INA
trials of 1946. In return the Congress agreed to keep Mountbatten as Governor General.
This brings us to the 1857 mutiny. By the time the east India Company began to
extend its influence over India the Marathas had replaced the Moghuls as the paramount
power. In the north, the Rajputs had established a string of kingdoms replacing Moghul rule.
Several of these had served the Moghuls for generations but Aurangazebs despotic and
intolerant rule had alienated them.
This forces a different perspective on two important events of modern Indian history
that are enshrined in history books as part of the freedom struggle: (1) 1857 uprising; and (2)
the transfer of power in 1947 when British rule was replaced by Indian with institutions
continuing as before including Lord Louis Mountbatten as Governor General even though
many preferred C. Rajagopalachari and Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
Little needs to be said about 1947. Prime Minister Clement Attlee who made the
decision gave the reason as: the activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which
weakened the attachment of the Indian land and Naval forces to the British Government of
India. This helps explain why Mountbatten moved the date of British departure from June
1948 to August 1947.
This brings us to the 1857 uprising, called Mutiny by the British but acclaimed by
nationalists like Veer Savarkar (among others) as Indias First War of Independence. As
noted earlier, this ignores five centuries of struggles against foreign rule. Also, there was no
ruler or organization among the rebels that could replace the British as paramount ruler in
India. Some looked to the Maratha chief Dhondu Pant, better known as Nana Sahib while
some others, especially Muslims looked to the deposed Mughal emperor living as a
pensioner as king of Delhi.
For example, the Maulavi of Faizabad, Ahmadulla Khan, was clear in his aims.
Wearing a green turban he fought the British bravely and wanted to protect Islam from the
onslaught of Christianity. He saw the uprising as a Jihad, a religious war to bring back
Muslim rule. Many Hindus also felt the British had the agenda of converting India to

Christianity. This was not wholly unjustified in view of the activities of Christian
missionaries who were beginning to dominate the field of education. Ahmadulla Khan was
hardly alone in seeing the rebellion as a Jihad against the rule by Kaffirs.
This and other examples made historian Sita Ram Goel regard the 1857 revolt as an
attempt by dispossessed states like Oudh to bring back Muslim rule. This may be something
of an overstatement for there was no one among the rebel leaders who could rule India as a
modern state. Even Bakht Khan, the bravest of the Muslim rebels was an Afghan though born
and raised in Rohilkand. On his death, he was buried near the Khyber Pass where a memorial
for him still stands. He was with the rebel forces in Delhi where he tried to persuade Bahadur
Shah not to surrender to the British but continue the fight.
The immediate result of the failure of the mutiny was dissolution of both the
contending powers the mutineers and the East India Company, to be replaced by the
Government of India under the British, with Queen Victoria as Empress of India. In addition
modern universities and government institutions were introduced, ending centuries of
medieval influence. This led to a Renaissance in India, especially in Bengal. To their credit,
many Indian rulers like Mysore, Baroda and Travancore took advantage of these advances to
create progressive states with modern education and social institutions.
The real result of the 1857 uprising was the final end of medieval rule by Muslim
despots. The exile of Bahadur Shah Zafar by the British signaled the end of medievalism in
India. So the revolt dragged India out of the Middle Ages. This is the sense in which scholars
like Sita Ram Goel see the 1857 uprising as an effort to bring back Muslim rule.
Although various reasons have been given for the revolt, the main reason was the
Companys annexation of Indian states likes Oudh and Jhansi under the Doctrine of Lapse
introduced by Governor General Lord Dalhousie. In the case of the Maratha leader Nana
Sahib, his pension and other privileges were terminated by the British. Under the Peshwa's
will Nana Sahib was, through his adoption, heir-presumptive to the Maratha's throne (as
Peshwa), and eligible for his adoptive father's continuing annual pension of 80,000 from the
East India Company. However, after the death of Baji Rao II, the Company stopped the
pension on the grounds that the Nana was not a natural born heir and that the kingdom no
longer existed. It was a similar story with Queen Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, who until the Mutiny
was on friendly terms with the British.
This is not to deny the heroism or the sacrifices of the Rani or her associates like
Tantia Topi though the legacy of others like Nana Sahib is open to question. But none of
them had the qualities to lead India into the modern world.
What if? The real question that is hard to answer is what might have happened if the
British had left in 1857? Would India have lapsed back into religious despotism like before?
But there was no towering figure to fill the vacuum left by British departure. Our best
guessit is only a guessis that India would lapsed into the kind of anarchy seen after
Aurangazebs death 150 years earlier with no paramount ruler but a patchwork of states.
The so-called Non-violent freedom struggle led by Gandhi had two extremely violent
consequences the 1921 Moplah Rebellion in Malabar (Kerala) and the Partition. Here there
can be no two opinions, Muslim leaders saw the 1921 Khilafat Movement sponsored and led
by Gandhi as a religious war to establish Muslim rule in India or Khilafat Raj as Annie

Beasant called it, though Gandhi saw it as a means of getting Muslim support for his
agitation, which was to get the British to hand over power to his wing of the Congress party,
namely Jawaharlal Nehru and his associates (and later his descendants) who would continue
Gandhis largely pro-British attitudes of Governance for India.
In effect it was the return of dynastic rule in Delhi that seemed to have ended a
century earlier by the exile of Bahadur Shah Zafar nearly a century earlier. Whether it will
continue for six generations as the Moghul Empire did, only history will tell.
Conclusion: Kshatra, not utopian fantasy can secure freedoms
Part of the problem in the official version of the history of the Freedom
Movement was confusing the goal of non-use of force (Ahimsa) in ruling as a means of
achieving the end of freedom. The problem is, force has to be used, used judiciously no
doubt to achieve the goal of a happy and peaceful society, where people can move
around like children in their father house as Bhishma told Yudhishthira in the
Mahhabharata.
This cannot always be done by Ahimsa alone. Ahimsa paramo dharmah (Ahimsa
is the ultimate dharma) has a second part that is usually ignored: Dhrma himsa tathaiva
ca (so is force to enforce dharma).
A hundred years ago Sri Aurobindo wrote: The sword of the warrior is as
necessary to the fulfillment of justice and righteousness as the holiness of the saint.
Ramdas is not complete without Shivaji. To maintain justice and to prevent the strong
from despoiling, and the weak from being oppressed is the function for which the
Kshatriya was created. Therefore, says Krishna in the Mahabharata, God created battle
and armor, the sword, the bow and the dagger.
This is called kshatra-dharma or the duty and ethics of the warrior (Kshatriya).
The Kshatriya duty includes improving your fighting capability by incorporating
scientific and other advances.
This helps us understand the success of the British against the mutineers in the
1857 rebellion though both sides used the same weaponry-- The Pattern 1853 Enfield
used.577 rifles. After all the British had become the paramount power in India with the
same soldiers fighting with the same weapons. The British superiority lay in superior
leadership and better management science. This was noted by the Prussian commander
Von Moltke when the Prussians crushed the French in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War.
Nehru idea that the moral force of Ahimsa would secure India was a utopian
fantasy that was humiliatingly exposed by Mao and the Chinese in the 1962 war. Nehru
might have inherited the notion from Gandhi but Gandhi, at least earlier in his life had a
realistic idea of the need for military training. This led to the fantasy of Panch Sheel and
the national disgrace of 1962
Gandhi is remembered as the apostle of nonviolence which has been misinterpreted
by Nehru and other supposed Gandhians as anti-military. Curiously, he didnt start out that
way and was once openly supportive of warfare. He served under in two wars in South
Africa the Zulu War (1906) and the Boer War, both on the side of the British.

Gandhi in military uniform of a British soldier in South Africa


The first was against the African tribe known as the Zulus and a purely colonial war.
The second was against Dutch settlers in South Africa. He was a non-combatant serving in
the Ambulance Corps, attached to the Army (British) Medical Corps. He was a
conscientious soldier and was decorated by the British for his war service.
Gandhis writings and views prior to his domination of the Indian National Congress
(1921) have been studiously suppressed by historians because they show him in less than
favorable light with regard to his then racist notions as well as his pro-war and pro-British
sentiments. Writing in 1903 Gandhi commented: We [Indians] believe as much in the purity
of race as we think they [the British] do. We believe also that the white race in South
Africa should be the predominant race. He had negative things to say about South African
blacks, calling them uncivilized and strongly objected to Indians being classed alongside
them.
This sounds extraordinary, but his support for war and Indian participation are even
more extraordinary considering his later obsession with ahimsa. In the Zulu War of 1906,
Gandhi actively encouraged the British to recruit Indians arguing that Indians should support
the war effort in order to legitimize their claims to full citizenship (of South Africa). Even
more remarkably, in his columns in the Indian Opinion, Gandhi urged the Indian population
in South Africa to join the war and appealed to the government to give Indians the
opportunity of a thorough training for actual warfare.
This from the later Apostle of Nonviolence! This is still not the whole story. As late
as 1918, when he was back in India, he accepted the Viceroys invitation to a war conference
and attempted to recruit Indian soldiers. In his pamphlet Appeal for Enlistment, Gandhi
wrote: To bring about such a state of things we should have the ability to defend ourselves,
that is, the ability to bear arms and to use themIf we want to learn the use of arms
with the greatest possible despatch, it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the army.
Nehru and his family which had no military tradition ignored this practical wisdom
and became hostile to military needs (except Indira Gandhi for a brief period). But the point

is a nation survives on kshatra. Recognizing this Sri Aurobindo said: Politics is the work of
the Kshatriya. For he has the most difficult job of all.
There is nothing more ignoble than anti-kshatriya rant. As John Stuart Mill once
observed:
War is an ugly thing, but it is not the ugliest of things. The ugliest is that man, who
while holding nothing is worth defending, or worth fighting for would let better men than
himself protect him.
From George Washington to Garibaldi to Subhas Bose, there has never been a fighter
for freedom or leader who did not respect and follow the kshatra dharma.