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HVK Archives: Visions of a Hindu India

Visions of a Hindu India - Sunday

Dina Nath Mishra ()
January 2-8, 1993

Title: Visions of a Hindu India
Author: Dina Nath Mishra
Publication: Sunday
Date: January 2-8, 1993

Shocked by the events. in Ayodhya on 6 December last year and the
subsequent political developments. both the communist parties
demonstratingly came out lecturing the sangh parivar about the
real Hinduism through booklets, one by Sitaram Yechury, the
CPI(M) Politburo member, and another by the CPI secretary, A.B.
Bardhan.

It is a case of traditional Hindu-haters turning to be real
Hindus and pushing Hindus to the category of pseudo-Hindus. Two
booklets provided the basis to the left media brigade to shout
the same propaganda all over India through print and other media
again and again. The whole edifice of propaganda was demolished
by two well-researched articles by Arun Shourie in SUNDAY (Myths
about the Swami, 31 January 6 February 1993, and Quotable quotes,
7 - 13 February, 1993). The burden of Shourie's pieces were, as
put by Shourie himself in conclusion: "...lessons upon lessons
for friends who suddenly find Swami Vivekananda so quotable.
Stray quotations cannot be set up to counter the entire life and
work of such a man; as that life and work is the exact opposite
of what you have been propagating, the more you lean on
Vivekananda, the more he will recoil on you; never forget what
you have been saying about a man when you suddenly find him
handy, others are not likely to have forgotten; and, finally,
never proclaim your intention to quote a man before you have read
him."

Shourie's pieces were too powerful and aggressive to be ignored
by the communist parties and hence a laboured rebuttal in SUNDAY
(Of Shourie and Vivekananda. 28 March - 3 April 1993) by A.B.
Bardhan, who has made the following points:

That they have not jumped suddenly but their approach to Swami's
role and world view are very much positive. In his effort to
prove chat the communists have not suddenly jumped to quote
Vivekananda. but have been doing so for long, Bardhan quotes from
a book published by the CPI titled, Socio-political views of
Vivekananda by Benoy Roy in 1970. Benoy Roy was profusely quoted
to clarify the party's assessment of Vivekananda.

That as Marxists we hail his revolutionary and humanist teachings
as inspiring message to the people of India and the world.

That communists are not alienated and keep themselves aloof from
our culture. To substantiate this, Mr Bardhan has marshalled
names of communist and other writers including Rahul
Sanskrityayan, S.A. Dange, Ram Bilas Sharma and has reminded us
of their contributions.

That Vivekananda was a revolutionary, a socialist and a secular
person.

That Arun Shourie has made a Muslim crusader out of Vivekananda
and Shourie's and the sangh parivar's views are just opposite to
that of Vivekananda.

"That there is enough food and ammunition in Vivekananda's works
to last all who are searching for India's social, cultural and
spiritual development. Let no one try to appropriate him for-
oneself." Vivekananda is not the monopoly of the sangh parivar
and Arun Shourie.

That the communist approach to Vivekananda underlines the
enlightenment of the downtrodden, dumb millions, his
revolutionary approach to the problem of liquidating the
privileges of the propertied classes and giving the toilers their
due share in the national wealth, his preachings against
untouchability, and. above all, his teachings on the purification
of the soul - they were all later adopted by different political
and social organisations of this country, including the Indian
National Congress led by M.K. Gandhi.

Now let us face the facts. On pages 391-392 of the Documents of
history of the CPI published in 1971, there is an assessment of
Vivekananda by the party. lthough its political philosopher and
leader were found subsequently in the persons of Aurobindo Ghose
and Bipin Chandra Pal respectively, its fundamental ideology was
conceived by a young intellectual of petit-bourgeoisie origin.
He was Narendra Nath Dutt, subsequently known by the religious
nomenclature of Swami Vivekananda ... Like Tilak, Dutt was also a
prophet of Hindu nationalism. He was also a believer in the
cultural superiority of the Indian people, and held that on this
cultural basis should be built the future Indian nation: He
preached that Hinduism, not Indian nationalism, should be
aggressive. His nationalism was spiritual imperialism."

Now Mr Bardhan, please tell me was Vivekananda a believer of
Hindu nationalism or was he a secular person of your variety?
Were you right then or now? Was he an intellectual of petit-
bourgeoisie origin, or were his ideas food and ammunition for
various developments of the nation as claimed by Benoy Roy and
which was quoted in your rebuttal? Was Shourie not right in
accusing you and your colleagues for suddenly alighting upon
Swami Vivekananda?

I will give you yet another instance. Please turn to page 393 of
the party document, where the following appears. "Thus an
intelligently rebellious element which otherwise would have been
the vanguard of the exploited class in a social struggle. had to
give in to national preoccupations and contribute itself to a
movement for the immediate overthrow of foreign rule, not for
progress forward, but in order to go back to an imaginary golden
age, the fountain-head of India's spiritual heritage ... In their
religiousness and wild spiritual' imperialism, they embodied the
reactionary social forces."

Mr Bardhan, my simple question is, was Vivekananda a
revolutionary or a reactionary as your party document says? Do
you stand by your party document or a single comrade's view
expressed in Socio-political views of Vivekananda : "...his
revolutionary approach to the problem of liquidating the
privileges of the propertied classes and giving the toilers their
due share in the national wealth..." Where do you stand? Did he
overlook the immediate overthrow of foreign rule or has he a very
special position in inspiring the freedom fighters of the Freedom
Movement as mentioned in your rebuttal?

You quoted Mahatma Gandhi in defence of your new-found love for
Vivekananda. I am quoting your party document: "The extremists,
now called non-cooperators. have had better success than
moderates in drawing the masses under the influence of
nationalism ... But they could not develop the potentiality of
the mass movement by leading it in accordance with its economic
urges and social tendencies. Their tactics was to strengthen the
nationalist movement by the questionable method of exploiting the
ignorance of the masses. And the best way of exploiting the
ignorance of the masses was to make a religion of nationalism.
This tactics led to the appearance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
on the political horizon, and the eclipse of all other politico-
social tendencies in the shade of Gandhism. "So, is it not the
same as the charge you are levelling: that Shourie and the sangh
parivar are making a religion of nationalism? And mixing religion
with Politics, the rime" which Mahatma Gandhi also committed?

Veteran communist leader R. Palme Dutt wrote in 1931 that "to all
that is young and generous in India the name of Gandhi is an
object of cursing and contempt, the name of Judas". This must be
strongly combatted by the communists.

No, Mr Bardhan, the sangh parivar and Arun Shourie did not and do
not monopolise Vivekananda. While you threw Vivekananda in the
dust bin like a rotten egg, calling him a "wild spiritualist",
the sangh parivar found, in him the biggest asset in the exercise
of nation-building. The relationship of Vivekananda with the
sangh movement is very much like a mother-son relationship. Dr
Hedgewar, the RSS founder, was a Tilakite. The second
sarsanghchalak, Sri Guruji, was in Rama Krishna Mission for two
or three Years around 1935. One of the most revered central
leaders of the RSS, Baba Saheb Apte's life-long pet sentence was:
"Vivekananda is like Gita for the RSS."

Vivekananda's literature has always been the staple intellectual
diet for swayamsevaks since the early 40s. When the centenary
year of Vivekananda was approaching, the RSS entrusted to Eknath
Ranade the job of compiling Vivekananda's thoughts into a handy
volume. Ranade adopted it as a one-dimensional mission and
brought out the vision of Vivekananda in a book titled, Rousing
call to Hindu nation, first published in 1963. The 168-page book
costs Rs 2. Since then. it has been translated into all Indian
languages and underwent numerous reprints. Over a million copies
have been sold so far among the RSS people. Add to that booklets
brought out by various publications. Rousing call to Hindu nation
has been like a textbook and motivating vision for all
swayamsevaks. Mr Bardhan, you have flaunted a quotation of lower
caste exploitation and taunted if Shourie and the sangh parivar
agree to it. Let me add here that the textbook I just spoke about
contains admonitions of the upper classes of India. There are.
numerous quotations like that you have quoted and is not
tactical.

The study of Vivekananda convinced Eknath Ranade to build the
Vivekananda Rock Memorial temple at Kanyakumari - the rock where
the Swami had meditated in 1893 before going to Chicago. This
grand memorial came up only after crossing hundreds of hurdles
set up by almost all political parties and many groups.
Literally, crores of people contributed to the dream of the rock
memorial. Should I remind you. Mr Bardhan, that all the state
governments had contributed to that end, barring the one you had
in Kerala led by E.M.S. Namboodiripad, despite the best efforts
of Eknathji. Let me remind you that when Ranade approached Jyoti
Basu for help, the latter questioned, "How dare you come to me
for Vivekananda, I am a communist". But finding Eknathji
persuasive. Jyoti Basu told him, "Meet my wife, she had gone to
Kanya Kumari when I went to the Ernakulam convention." Comrade
Kalyana Sundaram of Tamil Nadu greeted Eknathji thus: "You have
defeated me by coming to me because I was telling my friends that
you will not come to me as communist. You know I am a communist.
You know I am very much inspired by Vivekananda." Eknathji had
collected signatures of more than 50 per cent MPs to remove the
hurdles in the construction work. In the process, the only
enthusiastic support that came from "your camp", was that of
comrade Renu Chakravorty, MP, who got a few signatures of other
communist MPs, too.

There is no need of reminding you from how many textbooks you
removed Vivekananda in West Bengal when You came to power in that
state. No. Mr Bardhan, there is no intention of monopolising
Vivekananda. He was not an RSS member. He was the finest Hindu
model produced at the end of last century after waves and waves
of Hindu awakening from Bhakti Movement to 19th Century
renaissance in Bengal and other places. His vision was basically
Hindu and was meant for the whole of humanity. You can very well
quote Vivekananda provided you apologise for calling him names.
Till then, you are just ineligible to quote him.

As to Your challenge that Arun Shourie's and the sangh parivar's
vision of Vivekananda is that of a crusader against Islam, etc. I
can only say that you believe your own propaganda that the
party's reflexes do not work and are generally delayed by at
least 50 Years. Did You concede your mistake of 1942 before 1970?
You were confused about Vivekananda as late as 1990. You started
rethinking about him in the late Sixties 'in a half-hearted
manner. It was under your pressure that many references of the
word "Hindu" were removed from the latest edition of the eight
volumes on Vivekananda. though they existed in earlier editions.
Let me remind you that the son of Bipin Chandra Pal substituted
the word "Hindu" with "Indian in the works of his father. Even
today, your acceptance of Vivekananda is not general in nature
but partial and that is why you say: "We have never pretended to
be Vedantists. and have remained Marxists ... as Marxists ... we
hail his teachings (and) .... inspiring message..." There is a
definite anti-Hindu trait in saving, "We are not Vedantists." and
Yet you quote Swami Vivekananda's Chicago speech in full, which
is nothing but uniquely Vedantic. And that is why Arun Shourie
says: "Stray quotations cannot be set up to counter the entire
life and work of such a man.

(The author is a columnist and the editor of Bhasha)


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