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Modern Indian social thought Abhijit Pathak
ASSIGNMENT - 1
Prafulla Kumar Rana, 3rd semester csss, sss, JNU
Answer to the question no -3
The concerned poem ‘Frenzy’ is one of the best creations of the famous female poetic personality of India – Amrita Pritam. It deals with the blind faith of religion and its severe consequences, with a particular reference to the partition and it’s aftermath of bloodshed in India. Amrita Pritam, who hails from Gujranwala of Punjab, is regarded one of the best female poets of India. Her identity, view was largely shaped by the ongoing happenings in Punjab at that time like the communal strife and frequent violence among religious groups, the history of Jalianawalabag massacre. Her every writings depicts the blind faith of religion and also it bears an appeal to the mankind not to resort to violence for religion whether be it her first poem ‘the earthen smell’ or ‘Divided’ or the autobiographic novel ‘Pinjar’ or the concerned poem the ‘Frenzy’. In ‘frenzy’, she has talked about the negative side of religion. It is accepted that religion has a great positive contribution towards the society through developing social solidarity but sometimes it wreaks havoc and causes a severe damage to the mankind if blindly followed by the fanatics or simply manipulated by some nefarious people for gaining short-sighted aims. Here she has compared the communal sentiments of religious fanatics as the venom of a snake which poisons the human mind once gets into it. It compels them to do anything for the sake of either expanding or defending their religion and even don’t hesitate to cause harm to the people irrespective of their identity and closeness of the individual to them. They forget everything except causing damage and taking revenge causing severe bloodshed in the society. The venom of fanaticism destroys the rational mind and in its place barbaric behaviour sans humanity takes an upper hand in case of the human activity. After all through this poem she has tried to send a message that how potentially religion can work as a reverse force and how the blind faith, fanaticism can pollute and poison the rational mind of the individuals compelling them to do inhuman activities resulting in bloodshed and severe damage to the society. This poem is provides a way in understanding the unfortunate killing of Mahatma Gandhi who fell to the bullets of a religious fanatic named Nathuram Godse. It is essential in reflecting the hidden truth behind the simmering anger by some of the splinter religious groups who could not tolerate the neglection of their own religion at the cost of appeasing another one. Gandhiji was not an ordinary person. He was a charismatic leader and an apostle of peace, truth and non-violence. Then it sometimes perturbs that why person of such calibre and quality was gunned down in the public..? What was wrong happening and what the mistakes he committed..? The poem ‘frenzy’ by Amrita Pritam has the theme which is helpful to answer to these questions in this context.
“Friends and comrades, the light has out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I don’t know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved leader Bapu, as we call him the father of the nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that. Nevertheless, we will not see him again as we have seen him for the many years. We will not run to him for advice and seek his solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not to me only but to millions and millions of this country.” These were the words from Nehru who addressed the nation to inform about the sorrowful demise of Mahatma Gandhi. He was killed by an assassin named Nathuram Godse- a Hindu youth having affiliation to the rightist fundamental party of the RSS. He approached Gandhi just before the evening prayer on the 30 January of 194, knelt down before him and fire three rounds of bullet at Gandhi from point blank range. The apostle fell down and breathed his last. When Godse was arrested and asked in the court why he committed the murder he put his startling views and the grounds that compelled him to kill the Mahatma. After reading writings by Savarkar, Tilak, Gandhi and many of the western thoughts and philosophy, he decided to join in the RSS and work devoutly for the cause of Hinduism. Being an aggressive worker, his attitude was completely incompatible to that of Gandhiji. He thought that for the rescue and safety of the self and relatives, resort to violence is not bad. Even violence for self-defence is resorted as he gives the example of Rama taking revenge upon Ravan to free Sita, Krishna killing Kansha to finish his tyranny and torture and Shivaji killing Afzal Khan in the history to finish the enemy for their safety and good. In renouncing the idea of violence in time of need, he defamed the historic personalities. But, according to him, Gandhiji was too much idealistic in his approach which was toothless and ineffective. It only lengthened the attainment of independence. He was, paradoxical as it may appear a violent pacifist who brought untold calamities on the country in the name of truth and nonviolence. Again he doubted the very presence of Gandhi in the freedom struggle. He could not bear the growth of popularity of Gandhiji in the congress after the death of Tilak in 1920. He slowly gained the top position and started to manoeuvre the Congress according to his own will. He only knew when to start the movement and when to stop even without the consent of the common public (the withdrawal of non-cooperation movement after the chaurichaura incident.) anyone has to bow before his decision and he was the judge of everything. Another thing which added to his anger was the mahatma’s pro-Muslim activities in the name of secularism. Whenever there is a tussle between the Hindus and Muslims he had always given importance and support to them. The violence in the 1946 caused bloodshed of Hindus from the Bengal to Karachi and many Sikh, Hindu people started coming to India and Muslims started to flee Pakistan. His last fast, which is his infallible weapon to blackmail everyone including the government, unfortunately, went in support of them. He wanted the migrated Hindus and Sikhs to be back into Pakistan and the Muslims those had left India to come back.
He bowed down before the decision of Jinnah to divide and dissect the country and also did a fast to force the Indian govt. to share the 55 crore cash reserve that India inherited from the British Govt. he could have did another fast not to let the country divided but he knew that Jinnah is not perturbed by his method of blackmail. It would not put any effect on him and the bravery to launch a fast on to death will result in his death. He set another condition to break his first that the Hindu refugees should vacate the Muslim mosques but what he did for the Hindus who were being displaced, tortured and massacred..? Why this Hippocratic attitude..? ‘Gandhi is held as the father of the nation but, I say, he has failed as paternal leader because he and his top leaders tore the country into pieces. Lord Mountbatten came to be described in Congress circles as the greatest Viceroy and Governor-General this country ever had. The official date for handing over 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 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 '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 consider a deity of worship - my mind was filled with direful anger”(as told by Nathuram Godse.) Then he took the decision to assassinate Gandhi as he envisioned that India after Gandhi would run smoothly at least. This is where the essence of ‘frenzy’ stands good in explaining the act of the assassinator. He lost his rationality when he took amiss Gandhiji as proIslamist. He was not supporting any particular religion rather trying hard to bring back and restore religious harmony and to inculcate the ethos of secularism. He mistook him as the dominating member of congress when he was navigating the national movement through the co-operation of other congress members. He didn’t take decisions of his own rather, it was unanimously passed. Even though in some cases he exercised his own discretion it was for the larger benefit of the masses. If he renounced violence and taken up the path of nonviolence, it was because he knew that the colonial power is technically and strategically superior. If we had to win then there was only option to resort to non-violence and noncooperation. But such a novel reason was not recognised by a person whose mind was already preoccupied by the fanatic ideas. He had lost his conscience and rationality as according to Pritam, his blood was already poisoned..So he couldn’t kiss rather started only to foam….!
Answer to the question - 2
When we trace the ancestor of our nation, there comes a familiar name ahead of all the nation-builders that is Mahatma Gandhi. The title was aptly given by the legendary poet Rabindranath Tagore. A man of five feet can hold and exercise so much courage and strength, whenever we imagine it astonishes ourselves. From his childhood he was attracted into the deep essence of Hinduism. it was the best part in him that he was very tenacious in exercising and plasticising any kind of virtuous qualities. It was his moral power that was always taking an upper hand in his decision and work. His personal life was very much pure and noble as his political life. His politics started when he stood in support of the Blacks against the oppression of the Whites in South Africa. Their plight, denial civil, political and social right by the Whites hurt him deeply because he was a strong practitioner of humanism. But that remained as a closed chapter as he returned to India and took active participation in the Indian politics to drive out the Britishers in order to set free the oppressed the Indian from the bondage of the colonial power. It was his charismatic power, strong leadership qualities, direct approach to the common people and the will and happiness in serving them took him to great heights. His politics was based upon a different trajectory. Unlike other politicians, he never wished to seize power and was also never interested in its indiscriminate usage. The only thing he kept first upon his agenda was to free the fellow countrymen from the clutch of colonial rule of the Britishers. And for this cause, he plunged into a life long battle with the colonial power with the noble weapon of Truth and Non-violence. This method of warfare was unknown to the human civilisation as no war had been fought without a weapon in history. This was among the great things that he gifted to the mankind. Apart from this, he had also the vision of uplifting the marginal and downtrodden sections of the Hindu society. At that time the marginal, that is the tribal and the dalits were in a despised condition which was even worse than the capitulation to the British rule. He fought against the oppressive Brahminical order and sincerely worked for the upliftment of the downtrodden section along with fighting for freedom against the British power. Similar thing is noticed in his notion of self-sufficiency. He could see that the poverty and illiteracy to be the main cause behind the bondage to the colonial power. That’s why he believed that the Britishers have not taken siege of the Indians rather we have let them rule over us. It was mainly due to our economic subjugation. So he tried to gain self-sufficiency by asking the countrymen to produce our own essential goods and not to be dependent upon them. It was the main ethos behind his call of swadeshi movement.
But the concerned argument of whether he was influenced by his both contemporary as well as predecessor Swami Vivekananda and whether he paved the way for Gandhi to take the cause of the Indian nation is a huge debate and to unfold it is perhaps a difficult task on my part taking the limitation of my knowledge and understanding of both of them in that scenario. In order to reflect the relation and legacy of both of them it is essential here to mention the intellectual contribution of Bhikhu Parekh. In his book entitled “Colonialism, Tradition and Reform: an analysis of Gandhi’s political discourse”, he gives an account of four types of response to the British rule in India. The first was modernity response which was given by the people like Aurobindo, Gandhi himself. In their young age, they adopted the British education, lifestyle and culture. He pursued law and studied in South Africa and then kept on visiting England. Their main aim was to adopt the British and lead a life as them. The other type were the true traditionalists like Tilak, B.C Pal and Savarkar, who were diametrically opposite to the British culture and were seemed to be practising the Indian culture and held it higher to the British culture. Another type were the critical modernist like Ramamohun Roy and Gokhle who wanted to have a synthesis of both the British and Indian culture adopting the good features of the British culture. And the last type of response was the critical traditionalists who aimed at and gave importance to rejuvenate the Indian culture from its root and the negative aspects be removed forthwith for the betterment of the Indian nation. Here the champions were Vivekananda, Gandhi etc. As a spiritual leader, swami had a great influence on Gandhiji. While addressing the Americans at the world conference of religions, he represented the Sanatan Hinduism and held it to be mother of all religions as there are no preachers of it and it was of a divine origin. As a critical traditionalist, he insisted upon the correction of our own tradition by mean of changing the meaning and purpose of religion at first. He was the first person who could vision a practical and positive side of religion and deed attempt to free it from superstition and dogmatism. This is also later carried out by Gandhiji in his life when he established a huge faith in his religion and professed a great sense of secularity and also while he attached truth and non-violence into it. Again, after returning from the west tour, Swamiji travelled all over India and was hurt to see the despised condition of poverty, illiteracy. He was shocked to compare the material progress of the west and the poor condition of his fellow countrymen. He then took the initiation to uplift the Indians and to wake them up out of their stupor. He embarked upon the social work through forming his own charity institution of Ramakrishna Mission. The similar path was followed by Gandhi in the social work as well. But despite that we come across a lot of aspects which also often create doubt about Vivekananda’s influence on Gandhi. He never mentioned it anywhere in his life or even in his work. When Gandhi came to the Indian politics, Swamiji was no more then. Even he did not take active participation in direct politics whereas Gandhiji started his carrier from
politics. While Vivekananda was emphasising upon correction and rejuvenation Indian culture and look at the practical side of religion, Gandhi was insisting on purification and he attached truth and non-violence into religious philosophy. But these doubts are cleared when we look deeply into the matter. Swamiji did not take active participation in politics; even Gandhiji did not have much interest in politics though he very actively participated. His sole aim was to liberate the countrymen from the British capture and to lead them to achieve the goal. His main goal was to bring change in the society and establish India as a happy and prosperous country which was also the aim of Vivekananda. Again the works of Gandhiji were not specific to India only. He also fought for the right of the Blacks of South Africa against the Whites. Moreover, his principle of truth and nonviolence was compatible with the principle of universal brotherhood of swami Vivekananda. Though Swamiji did not take part in the freedom struggle actively, his address to the countrymen “Awake, arise and stop not till the goal is reached” indicates the goal achieved by Gandhiji later. The goal was nothing except the attainment of freedom. In consequences it can be commented that the work and life of Gandhiji was very much influenced by Vivekananda and the half done work of Swamiji later carried on and fulfilled by Gandhi.
Answer to question -1
Sri Aurobindo was one of the most creative and significant figures in the history of the Indian renaissance and Indian nationalism. Romain Rolland regarded him as the highest synthesis of the genius of the East and the West and the 'Prince among the Indian thinkers'. Dr. Radhakrishnan described Aurobindo as 'the most accomplished of modern Indian thinkers'. Tagore painted him as the 'Messiah of Indian culture and civilisation'. C.R. Das called Aurobindo as the 'poet of patriotism, the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity'. Aurobindo was indeed a versatile genius - a great poet, a profound thinker, a notable metaphysician, a great seer and an ardent patriot. His writings represent the crystallization of the new and rising soul of India and have a spiritual message for humanity. Aurobindo Ghosh was born on 15th August, 1872 at Calcutta. At the age of seven, Aurobindo was sent to England by his father to insulate him against any Indian influence. In England he stayed for fourteen years till 1893 and was educated at Manchester, London and Cambridge. During his stay at Cambridge he joined Indian Majlis - a student's association. He organized a secret society called 'Lotus and Dagger' for the uplift of his motherland. In 1893 he came back to India and joined Baroda state service as professor of English in Baroda College later he joined as principal of National College, Calcutta but resigned the post in 1907 to join the National Freedom Movement. He associated himself with Journals and periodicals like the 'Jugantar', ‘the Bande Mataram' and the 'Karmayogi' through which he could make stern criticism of the British imperialism by preaching the gospel of militant nationalism. He proved himself one of those radical leaders of the early 20th century who transformed Indian Nationalism into a mighty mass movement and did not confine it to a few arm-chair politicians and amateur freedom fighters. In 1908 he was arrested on the charge of Alipore bomb conspiracy case but was acquitted in 1909 after a long trial. In 1910 he left active politics and stayed in Pondicherry as a Yogi till his death on 5th December, 1950. Some of his important writings are - The Life Divine, Savitri, and Essay on the Gita, The Ideal of Human Unity, and Defence of Indian Culture etc. The contribution of Sri Aurobindo to modern Indian political thought may conveniently be summarized under four headings: His concept of spiritual nationalism and divinity of motherland; his exposition of the ideal of complete freedom from foreign rule; his contribution to the theory of boycott and passive resistance and finally his vision of the high role that India was destined to play in world affairs and his ideal of human unity. The contribution of Aurobindo was his ideal of complete freedom. Aurobindo was the first Indian political leader to use the word "Independence" instead of "Swaraj'. He strongly believed that without political freedom, no real development is possible in India. Political freedom must precede socio-economic and administrative reforms. As he observed "Political freedom is the life-breath of a nation; to attempt social reform, educational
reform, industrial expansion and moral improvement of the race without aiming first and foremost at political freedom is the very height of ignorance and futility". Aurobindo made another great contribution to the theory of passive resistance and boycott. Aurobindo explained the aim of passive resistance as "to make British administration impossible by an organized refusal to do anything which shall help the growth of British trade and commerce resulting in the exploitation of the country". Aurobindo made it clear that the passive resistance may turn to be violent in case of ruthless suppression by the ruler. In this way it differed from Gandhiji’s technique of non-violent resistance. Aurobindo realized that his idea of passive resistance would be successful if there was boycott of British in every field. Along with his theory of economic boycott, he put forward his views on national education. Along with his theory of economic boycott, he stressed the necessity of Swadeshi. Along with educational boycott, he put forward his views on national education. Along with judicial boycott, he emphasized the necessity of setting up national arbitration courts. He also asked for social boycott of those Indians who did not support the cause of non-cooperation with the British. The final contribution of Aurobindo was his vision of the high role that India was destined to play in world affairs and his ideal of human unity. At a time when British rule in India was firmly and securely established, Aurobindo had the breadth of vision to foresee India as a free nation and her contribution to the world community. He felt that India had a spiritual message which was urgently needed by the people of the world (when India shall rise it is the Sanatan Dharma shall rise, when….). He was convinced that a free India was to fulfil her true destiny in the international community. He advocated the concept of human unity. He pleaded for independence for India in the wider interest of the humanity. He said "Our ideal of patriotism proceeds on the basis of love and brotherhood and it looks beyond the unity of the nation and envisages the ultimate unity of mankind. It is a unity of brothers, equal and free men that we seek, not the unity of master and serf, of devourer and devoured". In relation to the given report of ‘Freedom to shop’ it can be said that in the course of time India has come a long way. There was a time when every aspect of Indian culture, society and politics was identified through the philosophy of religion and spirituality. But with the passage of time it has changed a lot. Now these days it is no more seeking its identity through religion rather through democratic politics, developing technology (IT) and through an emerging economic super power. The process of transformation has evolved from itself. The spiritual nationalism has transformed into an economic and political nationalism. ‘The human cycle’ has gone a step further which was not mentioned in his work of the ‘curve of rational age’. Today people are not intended to be identified through their respective religions. It is because of the emergence of a new concept of secularism in the modern time. Materiality has become the centre stage replacing spirituality. Economic work and political assistance is now matters not the meditation and devotion.
Now these days, life has become more and more materialised and that too is being affected by the constant problem of price rise and inflation. So the need of the hour is to get rid of this problem rather than to seek a spiritual shelter. The economic condition has become so important that even political aspects have become a sort of secondary need. It can be attributed to the recent development of globalisation which does not recognise any political boundary, and has the aim of free supply of labour, capital and technology and thus creating a global market of goods and products full of competition. This might be the third stage of his human cycle as he has mentioned in his work. The things have gone to that extent that people are oblivious of their political duties and responsibilities. The state has become a welfare state. They have started giving importance to the economic liberation and to get rid of the economic hardship of price rise. Hardly anyone thinks about his duties towards the nation and the state rather they want to celebrate the Independence Day with shopping which is made special by giving discounts on every purchase. It is definite that economic nationalism has taken place of spiritual and political nationalism. Regarding the works and philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, it is concluded that these works and philosophy is immortal as guides the Indian civilisation as a beacon and contributes to it cultural heritage. It is significant in understanding the Indianness of Indian culture and Indian religion Or Indian spirituality. But, however, it has no more taken a hold of the Indian identity because we are heading for a new destination..
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