Friday, October 5, 2007

There is no justification in calling the Mahatma ‘the Father of the Nation’

Indian Independence and Gandhi Remembering the patriots
barin chaki 4 Oct 07 10:29:36 AM - 16 Views
Recently, we observed the sixtieth anniversary of the Indian Independence Day. We, the Indians, must always rejoice on the Day, the fifteenth August. We remembered both Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri on the 2 nd day of October. Sixty years back, the British left India and declared its Independence . India , thereafter, officially became the Republic of India and a sovereign country.

The people of India had battled long against the British Empire for complete political independence, which began with the Rebellion of 1857. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 consisted of armed uprisings against the colonial authority of the British people in India between early 1857 and mid 1858. The period and events are also called the First War of Indian Independence.

Thereafter, in course of time, several movements were organised. The Indian National Congress came into existence in 1885. And there arrived on the political scene of India the great personalities Lal-Bal-Pal [Lala Lajpat Ray, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bepin Chandra Pal] and Sri Aurobindo.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first Indian nationalist who embraced Swaraj as the destiny of the nation. He said : “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it.” This utterance inspired the Indians.


During the period from 1905 to 1910, Sri Aurobindo became a leader of the Indian nationalist movement, and His younger brother Barin was directly involved with the extremist activities of the group, known as Jugantar, an underground revolutionary organization. Sri Aurobindo was one of the founders of the said organization. During the period, He was also the editor of a nationalist Bengali newspaper Vande Mataram and, consequently, came into frequent confrontation with the British administration. In 1907, he was already regarded as the new leader of the Indian nationalist movement.

Sri Aurobindo was arrested on 2 nd May 1908 in connection with the trial of Alipore Bomb Case. And He was acquitted on 5th May 1909 . For one full year He was in prison.

In 1908, in Bengal , there was an outburst of public anger against the British administration, causing civil unrest. A nationalist campaign was carried out by several groups of revolutionaries, led by Sri Aurobindo and others. The British took hard steps against the activists and the consequences led to an event on April 30, 1908 , as two revolutionary disciples, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, attempted to kill an ill-famed judge. However, the bomb thrown by them missed its target and instead killed two British women in a horse carriage.

The local police immediately arrested Sri Aurobindo and his brother Barin, along with many other activists and the revolutionaries. Sri Aurobindo was arrested on charges of planning and supervising the attack and was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Alipore for one full year. He was acquitted in 1909, though several others were imprisoned for longer periods or awarded the capital punishment. Khudiram was hanged, while Prafulla Chaki died during chase by the Police, in a mysterious way. During the trial, what Sri Aurobindo’s advocate Deshabandhu Chittaranjan Das said is an immortal speech:

“My appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, the agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India but across distant seas and lands. Therefore, I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this Court, but before the bar of the High Court of History…”


The Indian National Congress (INC) has a long and illustrious history. Great persons such as Gopalakrishna Gokhale, Lala Lajpat Rai, Gandhi and Bose served on its presidency before the Independence . The Congress was split into two groups in1967 : INC (Organization) and the New Congress, which later came to be known as the Congress(I), named after Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister. The Congress (I) as it is known today in India , is an important political force — an organization continued under the leadership of the Nehru/Gandhi family. Eventually, the Congress (O) later merged into the newly formed Janata Dal.

After the Sepoy Mutiny or the First War of Indian Independence (1857), Sir Allen Octavian Hume and some other Englishmen in India , with a view to build a harmony between the ruling English and the lndian people, founded the Indian National Union, which turned into the Indian National Congress (INC). Sri W C Banerjee was the first President thereof.
The birth of INC marked the entry of new educated middle-class into politics and transformed the Indian political horizon.

However, in 1919, there was an opening of fire on a peaceful protest rally in Jallianwala Bagh. That was indeed an act of savagery, unparalleled in Indian History. The firing was opened, under the command of Brigadier Reginald Dyer, on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. The firing continued for about 10 minutes and 1650 rounds were fired. The number of death as per official sources was 379. But according to an unofficial sources, it was more than 1000, with more than 2000 wounded.

The freedom movement then took a violent turn against the acts of cruelty and repression of the British Empire . New extremist and revolutionary leaders emerged, like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and Subhas Chandra Bose.


Surya Sen, a teacher in a national school in Chittagong in Bengal , had actively participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement. Along with others from the local Congress members and several young recruits, Surya Sen organized a small-scale rebellion to show that it was possible to challenge the armed and mighty British empire in India . They planned to assail and seize the two main armories in Chittagong and seize the arms, with an aim to form an armed unit of four large bands of revolutionaries. In a fierce fight in April, 1930, eighty British soldiers and twelve revolutionaries were killed. The armed revolutionaries dispersed into the rural area of Chittagong . The Chittagong Armoury Raid had tremendously impressed the people of Bengal and inspired numerous other actions of armed resistance. Surya Sen was eventually arrested and hanged in 1934. Many of his colleagues were also caught and imprisoned for long terms.


In 1928, a commission under John Simon was formed by the British Government to report on the current political situation in India . As no Indian was included as its member, the Indian political parties boycotted the commission, with protests all over India . During the commission’s visit to Lahore on October 30, 1928 , Lala Lajpat Rai led the protest in a silent and non-violent march. But the police violently beat up Lala Lajpat Rai severely and he expired. Bhagat Singh was an eyewitness to this event. He vowed to take revenge and along with Shivaram Rajguru, Jai Gopal and Sukhdev Thapar assassinated Saunders, a Deputy Superintendent of Police. Bhagat Singh quickly left Lahore in a disguise to escape the police.

The Defence of India Act was passed by the British Government under an ordinance to give more power to the police, with a view to combat revolutionaries. In reaction, Bhagat Singh and his friends planned to explode a bomb in the central assembly. As decided, on April 8, 1929 , Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt, another revolutionary, threw bombs in the Central Legislative Assembly in New Delhi . None got killed or injured, because it was not the intension. The British forensics investigators found that the bomb was not powerful enough to cause injury or death and that the bomb was thrown away from people. Singh and Dutt gave themselves up for arrest after the bomb. The Assembly Bomb Case trial followed. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged on 23rd March 1931 by the British in spite of tremendous popular opposition. Bhagat Singh turned into a household hero, and the incident led to an outpouring of grief and sorrow all over the nation.


One of the most popular, charismatic idealistic and prominent leaders of the Indian Independence Movement against the British Rule was Subhas Chandra Bose, who was generally known as Netaji [the Leader]. Many regard his sacrifice for the nation to be the maximum, unparalleled.

Netaji was elected as the president of the Indian National Congress for two consecutive terms but resigned from the post following ideological conflicts with Gandhiji. Bose was in favour of violent resistance against the British rule and believed that Mahatma Gandhi’s tactics of non-violence would never be sufficient. for India ’s independence, and advocated violent resistance. Gandhiji also declared : Pattabhi Sitaramayya’s defeat is my defeat. Netaji established a separate political party, the All India Forward Bloc and continued to call for the full and immediate independence of India from British rule. He was imprisoned by the British authorities eleven times.

With the outbreak of the second world war (1939 — 1945), he fled India and travelled to the Soviet Union , Germany and Japan seeking an alliance with the aim of attacking the British in India . With Japanese assistance he re-organised and later formed the Indian National Army, which consisted of the Indian prisoners-of-war and plantation workers from Malaya , Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia , and led it against British forces. He formed the Azad Hind Government in exile, formed and led the Indian National Army to battle against the British and the allies in Imphal & Burma during the World War II.

He is believed to have died on 18 August 1945 in a plane crash over Taiwan . However, contradictory evidence exists regarding his death in the accident, and Many do not believe the story of the plane crash.

Jyotsna Kamat says :
“The Indian people were so much enamored of Bose’s oratory and leadership qualities, fearlessness and mysterious adventures, that he had become a legend. They refused to believe that he died in the plane crash. The famous Red Fort trial, wherein Bose’s generals and the INA officers were tried, became landmark events. Initially, the British Government thought of a court-martial, but there was a countrywide protest against any kind of punishment. For common Indians, Axis and Allied powers hardly mattered, but they could not tolerate punishment of fellow countrymen who were fighting for freedom. The British Government was in no position to face open rebellion or mutiny and a general amnesty for INA soldiers was declared.

While Bose’s approach to Indian freedom continues to generate heated debate in the Indian society today, there is no denying of his burning patriotism, his tireless efforts to free India from inside and outside and his reckless adventures in trying to reach his goals. His exploits later became a legend due to the many stories carried by the disbanded INA soldiers who came from every nook and corner of our great country.
Had he lived, Subhas Chandra Bose could have given a new turn to Independent India’s political history. But he lives on eternally in the Indian mind, more famous after his death.”


Mohandas Gandhi’s taking helm of INC was a turning point in its history due to his enormous following, his spiritual approach and his non-violent means. Gandhi introduced the concepts of Satyagraha (rightful demand) and Ahimsa, which appealed to the common Indians.

Gandhi adhered to a strictly non-violent protest. Whenever a disturbing incident broke out, he suspended his actions, fasted and prayed for peace, And always he was successful.
INC launched the Quit India Movement in 1942. Gandhi reasoned that “... a few thousand British cannot control or govern millions of Indians”.

At the time of the Quit India movement, the Congress was undoubtedly the strongest political and revolutionary organization in India . The Indian National Congress was then surely the true representative of the Indian people.

India won Freedom on 15 th August 1947 . INC had played a very vital role in the Indian national movement.


Of course, the Gandhi-Nehru group of Congress has been given much credit for India’s independence and also her struggle for independence ; but it is a truth that India’s freedom movement was in fact a movement of the masses and there were a number of great leaders with intense and ardent patriotism and great visions who sacrificed their entire lives for the nation’s cause, prior to the coming Gandhi and Nehru on the scene, and even there were those who were his contemporaries. Not only political leaders, but also there were many great persons who have built several aspects of the nation, such as Raja Ram Mohan Ray, Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose and many others who are great souls. All of them have contributed in building this nation that had remained under the shackles of foreign rule for a long time.

Gandhi’s contribution is definitely very great. Besides being the leader in bringing the Freedom, he was a great moral force, an apostle of non-violence and he is relevant to every human being always, whenever he tries to surpass himself spiritually or morally or when he aspires to something great and seemingly impossible.


Gandhi was a great man, in the true sense of the term. He was one of the greatest, not only in India , but throughout the world, for a long, long time. He loved Truth. And he loved humanity and believed that God is existent in fellow human beings. Gandhi was a man of strong convictions, which gave him extraordinary power that he exerted over large numbers of people. He said: “My life is my message,” as he advised what he himself practised.
He wanted harmony and compatibility between one’s words and deeds. For him, there was no split between politics and spirituality. True spirituality is seen in one’s day-to-day activities, according to Gandhi.

Spirituality, for him, was an inner change. Hence a life, lived only for one’s own selfish aims, is not spiritual.

He is one of those few men who asserted the essential goodness within human beings. And he continues to inspire in us so that we can still change us and change this world into a better world.


But his attempts and endeavours to rise to a high moral perfection could not stop him to say that Pattabhi Sitaramayya’s defeat to Subhas Chandra Bose was his personal defeat.

And his extra-ordinary power and his inner goodness could not stop the Hindu-Muslim riots and the political difference that created Pakistan out of India .

He agreed to support Nehru and others of the Congress, who preferred the partition of India to the swearing-in of Jinnah as the first Prime Minister of India, as a result of which India was divided, and millions of people suffered relentlessly.

It is said that the partition plan was approved by the Congress leadership as the only way to prevent a wide-scale Hindu–Muslim civil war. But what happened was worse than a civil war. But Nehru’s ambition to become the Prime Minister was fulfilled, amidst the bloodshed of millions.

It has been told by some that a New Nation was born. Unfortunately, the circumstances were such that ‘the Father of the Nation’ had to see and receive the New Born in a curtailed body. The New Born was cut to size; its two wings were cut off.

India , as we know, was older and greater than the present day Independent India. We will think about it. Both the Mahatma and the would-be premier Nehru yielded to the Divide and Rule policy of the British, and also Nehru’s desire to become the Prime Minister in place of Jinnah in an undivided India paved the way for dividing India .

Millions of Indians had to suffer. Massive exchange of the people took place between India and the newly created Pakistan . Following and just before the partition, about 14.5 million people crossed the borders. As per 1951 Census, 7,226,000 Muslims left for Pakistan from India , whereas 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs came to India from Pakistan , immediately after partition. Majority of the people who came to India became really penniless paupers. Just before and after the Partition, massive violence and homicide took place in India and Pakistan .

Estimates of the number of deaths, caused by the killings, may range from roughly 500,000, to the high estimates at 1,000,000.

During the last sixty years, Pakistan has practically been a constant headache for India .


It is said that Gandhi advised the Congress to reject the proposals of partition of India . It is said that the partition plan was approved by the Congress leadership as the only way to prevent a wide-scale Hindu–Muslim civil war. Congress leaders knew that Gandhi would oppose partition, and it was impossible for the Congress to go ahead without his agreement, for Gandhi’s support in the party and throughout India was strong. Gandhi’s closest colleagues had accepted partition as the best way out. A devastated Gandhi gave his assent.

On the day of the transfer of power, Gandhi did not celebrate independence with the rest of India , but was alone in Calcutta , mourning the partition and working to end the violence
It seems all the extra-ordinary power of leadership and all the moral and spiritual force, that Gandhi wielded, failed to work. Consent to the partition plan was an act of great irresponsibility and carelessness, it was a sort of an inhuman crime.


If we consider about the Indian history and the Indian culture and civilization, we will realise that India was NOT born as a Nation on 15 th august 1947 or even on the 26 th January 1950 , though these two Days deserve our maximum regard and repect from us. Indeed, the Indian nation has grown several millenuims back, even prior to the period of Harappa and Mohenjo daro, which approximately dates back to 3300 BC in the minimum. Especially the Rig Veda, the first of the Vedas, indicate that the Indian culture is even 20000 years old.

“ The actual date of these ancient scriptures is a nebulous topic. Yet, the description of an extremely cold climate leads some to believe that the Vedas are close to 20,000 years old, but there are some modern scholars who think that the number is exaggerated and should be about 5000. No matter what the age, it is the belief by many these texts were and are the oldest in the world. They express philosophies, realities and truths about life. The texts themselves show that the collection is the result of the work of generations of poets, extending over many centuries.” [Wikipedia Encyclopedia]

Therefore, if we respect India and the Indian culture and civilization, we cannot and should not say that India was born as a new Nation and that Gandhi was the Father of the Nation. There is no justification in calling the Mahatma ‘the Father of the Nation’.

George Washington is regarded as the Father of the Nation with regard to the US , as he really rebuilt the new Nation of American states. He was the first President and US had no past. He unified the US. But with India , the situation is just the opposite. And, alas, India was not unified , rather, it was split into three parts.

India is vast and great, spiritually, culturally and in civilization, and the Indian civilization is one of the most ancient ones, that the epithet clearly looks unjustified. India is so vast and great and so ancient that to call any one of the leaders with the said epithet will be a gross mistake. Any of the leaders, however great, does not fit in. That will mislead the future citizens of India to have a wrong understanding about the Nation that India is, the Nation that appeared as a Mother to Bankim Chandra and then Sri Aurobindo, who said : vande mātaram .

Barindranath Chaki
4-10-2007 comments rss: Tags: Enjoyed this post? Recommend it to Others Leave a comment Perma link Email this post 0 Votes

No comments:

Post a Comment