LOVE? SORRY, in­dia to­day’s editorial gaze will say. Very sorry, but no. Not love, please. Any word but love. It is too ro­man­tic, too evan­gel­i­cal, lifted from a god­man’s sack of stock words. Af­ter love will come de­vo­tion, then har­mony, then peace, and… None of those marzi­pans, thank you. This is about In­dia’s In­de­pen­dence Day, its his­tor­i­cal mag­netism, its po­lit­i­cal mes­sage. And we are not chil­dren.

Fair enough. Love is the kind of word that floats in and out of as­sem­bly meet­ings in schools, pul­pits, sat­sangs. It be­longs to the ‘sa­cred’ col­umns of the news­pa­per-on-Sun­day, fam­ily mag­a­zines. It is weak, pale, anaemic as a de­scrip­tion of our bond­ing with In­dia that is Bharat and also Hind, on Pan­drah Agast. Mag­i­cal, that date is, mark­ing our ‘step­ping out from bondage, step­ping into free­dom’. Some­thing un­furl­ing about that date, some­thing swirling, free­ing, lib­er­at­ing, as with the tri­colour that swings out of its tight­ened knot at the tug of the lan­yard.

As a def­i­ni­tion of pa­tri­o­tism, love does not work. It has too much of the roseate heart in it.

And yet, speak­ing for my­self, I will say, em­phat­i­cally, that I be­lieve pa­tri­o­tism is about love.

It is about love of our coun­try that Bankim Chan­dra Chat­topad­hyay wrote, in a mo­ment of rap­ture, in terms of our land

be­ing awash with clean and cleans­ing wa­ters, bear­ing fruit aplenty—su­jalam, supha­lam. It is for our coun­try, dearly beloved to us, that Rabindrana­th Tagore in­canted jaya he, jaya he, jaya he and which Iqbal, im­mor­tally, hailed as Sare ja­han se achha, in whose lap play a thou­sand rivers, as did Dwi­jen­dralal Roy in his Dhano dhanya pushpa bhara, ‘with wealth and seed and blos­som filled…’. These are cel­e­bra­tory songs, though not with­out a hid­den pang of anx­i­ety about that plen­i­tude, that bless­ing com­ing un­der a cloud.

Noth­ing but love, pure and sim­ple, un­al­loyed and un­quench­able, in­forms every word of an­other com­po­si­tion, the fifth in that pa­tri­otic se­quence, which joins the other great four in the na­tion’s reper­tory of pa­tri­o­tism—Kavi Pradeep’s 1962 out­pour­ing Ae mere watan ke lo­gon… It is soaked in love that has had a twist, a throb of ad­ver­sity, through the fiery or­deal of a re­ver­sal in war.

Tipu Sul­tan, Ker­ala Varma Pazhassi Raja, Ja­gan­natha Ga­jap­ati Narayana Deo II, the ruler of Par­alakhe­mu­ndi in to­day’s Odisha, Rani Velu Nachi­yar of Si­va­ganga and Veer­a­pandiya Kat­tabom­man of Pan­cha­lankurichi in Tamil Nadu,

loved their land, saw them­selves as its hand. They loved their free­dom, which they saw as a slice of the free­dom of In­dia.

Like these brave­heart free­dom fight­ers of the 18th and 19th cen­turies be­fore them, the au­tum­nal Dad­ab­hai Naoroji, who wrote with mea­sured pain about Poverty and Un-Bri­tish Rule in In­dia; the de­fi­ant Aurobindo Ghose, who made Bande Mataram news­pa­per the na­tion’s mast­head be­yond the song; the cere­bral Gopal Kr­ishna Gokhale, who worked till his body col­lapsed for In­dia’s right to self-rule; and the im­pas­sioned Lok­manya Bal Gan­gad­har Ti­lak, who said, in a bril­liant mix of San­skrit and Urdu, that Swaraj was his jan­masid­dha haq—his birthright; the in­trepid Lala La­j­pat Rai and Bipin Chan­dra Pal, Ti­lak’s as­so­ciates in the tri­umvi­rate of ‘Lal Bal Pal’, did what they did be­cause they loved In­dia. Plain and sim­ple. Each of them loved fight­ing for her free­dom. And were ready to die fight­ing that fight.

“If I should die

By our Mother, let me die, Fight­ing for my land…”

And then, with those friends, stop­ping near an armed sen­try, to hurl those lines with the great­est gusto at the man, snap­ping tiny fin­gers at him and yelling and danc­ing in “can­ni­bal­is­tic ex­ul­ta­tion, with the poor fel­low look­ing on help­lessly…”.

E.M.S. Nam­bood­iri­pad, join­ing much older peo­ple at the in­cred­i­ble age of 25, founded the Congress So­cial­ist Party in 1934 and the peas­ant move­ment called Teb­haga An­dolan of 1946-47 Ben­gal, com­mem­o­rated in sketches by the re­mark­able Som­nath Hore, one of them of a woman and child, Mother In­dia at her most real. It was about a pas­sion­ate com­mit­ment to In­dia’s great­ness in jus­tice. As was the ded­i­ca­tion of a young man who would en­ter pa­tri­o­tism’s pages, as from a corner, a shy smile light­ing his face as he fa­mously es­caped from prison in the pitch of night, to be hailed in time with ‘and­here mein ek prakash, Jayaprakas­h, Jayaprakas­h’.

Each time it is re­cited, Tagore’s open­ing words in ‘Where the mind is with­out fear and the head is held high…’ raise goose-bumps. But nowhere nearly as much as his Ben­gali orig­i­nal does: Chitto jaetha bhaya-shunno… fol­lowed by uch­cho jetha shir…

The void­ing of fear of the Raj was part of the love for In­dia. It held In­dia’s and In­di­ans’ heads

high. Bha­gat Singh, Sukhdev and Ra­jguru were fear­less be­cause of their love of In­dia, of In­dia’s self-re­spect, her dig­nity. When young Vi­nayak Damodar Savarkar slipped away from his boat off Mar­seille to es­cape ar­rest for pa­tri­otic—read ‘sedi­tious’—ac­tiv­i­ties; when Matangini Hazra fell, shot, not let­ting fall from her hand the tri­colour of free­dom she was hold­ing, they were pow­ered by the same emo­tion. And we have Ne­taji Sub­has Chan­dra Bose, the very per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of that pa­tri­o­tism of love. Su­gata Bose tells in his bi­og­ra­phy of Ne­taji how the young Sub­has asked his mother: “…will not any son of Mother In­dia, in to­tal dis­re­gard of his self­ish in­ter­est, ded­i­cate his whole life to the cause of the Mother?”

W hen the 24-year-old bar­ris­ter, clutch­ing his first-class ticket, was thrown out of the train in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg sta­tion, a sense of his In­dian-ness rose like a vol­cano in Mo­han­das’s be­ing. As the train, which had ejected its law­ful oc­cu­pant, hissed out of that South African sta­tion, it did not re­alise that it had just be­gun an­other quick-mov­ing train, a rail­gaadi that, in Harindrana­th Chat­topad­hyay’s pul­sat­ing song, was go­ing to chhuk-chhuk-chhuk-chhuk a his­toric chain of move­ment af­ter move­ment—in Pas­sive Re­sis­tance, Non-Co­op­er­a­tion, Civil Dis­obe­di­ence and, fi­nally, Quit In­dia, to be led by Ma­hatma Gandhi for Swaraj, and not just for that of In­dia but for colonised peo­ple across Asia and Africa.

In that pro­gres­sion of the strug­gle grew a cru­cial, defin­ing nu­ance: the dis­obe­di­ence was to be civil, civilised and civil­is­ing. It was to be com­pletely, even self-deny­ingly, non-vi­o­lent. And why so? For if it did not, it would cor­rode it­self, in­vite counter-vi­o­lence, end in the de­struc­tion of its body, mind and soul. To­day, we may well ask: Is our pa­tri­o­tism about love, sim­ple love, of In­dia and of In­di­ans’ ‘tryst with destiny’? With­out doubt, it is. One glimpse of the pride with which In­dia saw Chan­drayaan-2 launched on July 22 will tell us that is ex­actly so. As will the land­ing around the moon’s ‘south pole’ on Septem­ber 7.

But is that love of In­dia about a love that is whole, heal­ing and hate­less?

Now we can talk, a re­lieved in­dia to­day may say to me. You are late to come to this ques­tion, but, yes, now we are on track.

Love with hate. Those two are to­day two sides of the same coun­try. Two fervours in one vein, two emo­tions in one heart—a most un­nat­u­ral and un­healthy state for a Repub­lic to be in. This is, of course, so not just in In­dia, but in many coun­tries. For the ter­ror­ist, love of ‘the cause’, ha­tred for ‘the cause’s en­emy’ and vengeance are a creed. The men who flew their planes into New York on 9/11 and who sneaked death into Mum­bai on 26/11 loved hate. As did, we may be sure, the young man who blew him­self up with 40 CRPF per­son­nel in Pul­wama.

Their types, me­dieval in bru­tal­ity and mod­ern in tech­nol­ogy, ex­ist the world over. They can be ex­pected to strike re­peat­edly,

at tar­gets as ‘hard’ as state ar­se­nals and as soft as so­cial car­ni­vals. Na­tion-states have to fight them with the speed of light. With na­tionso­ci­ety’s—our—un­der­stand­ing and back­ing of the na­tion-state.

But sus­pi­cion, strife and hate within us have mor­phed the le­gacy of our in­de­pen­dence strug­gle into some­thing al­to­gether dif­fer­ent. It has given hate-lovers and love-haters a new vo­ca­tion in life to­day, an ide­o­log­i­cal, in­tel­lec­tual, po­lit­i­cal, cul­tural force. It types his­tory, paints ge­og­ra­phy, sculpts pol­i­tics. It seeks and makes he­roes, it needs and finds vil­lains. And it is cel­e­brat­ing a new hero­ism— from for­est cell-hole, mosque and tem­ple alike.

Who is loved to­day, pas­sion­ately, in the name of pa­tri­o­tism?

The man who vows re­venge.

Who is hated to­day, pas­sion­ately, in the name of pa­tri­o­tism?

The per­son who speaks for hu­man­ity. Who gains by this?

The ter­ror­ist, the house-di­vider, the na­tion­split­ter, the power-hun­gry.

What suf­fers?

The Repub­lic, as Ambed­kar en­vi­sioned it.

In his Kalinga Edict II, Asoka says: sa me paja—all peo­ple are my chil­dren.

Saf­fron and green were not di­vided but held to­gether by the white in our tiranga, with the blue of Asoka’s wheel of dhamma at its cen­tre. Every time Jawa­har­lal Nehru un­furled that flag on the Red Fort, he looked at its quick­en­ing flut­ter with rap­ture and—love. Jai Hind!


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.