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Saturday, March 6, 2010

GANDHI and NEHRU --- betrayers, nay, destroyers BHARATVARSHA-II


“History is little more than the register of the crimes, follies, tragedies and misfortunes of mankind.”- Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

“History is the first distinct product of man’s spiritual nature, his earliest expression of what can be called THOUGHT.” – Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

“History can only be understood by seeing it as the theatre of diverse groups of idealists respectively urging ideals incompatible for conjoint realization.” – Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)


About 2 weeks ago, my friend Smt Radha Rajan, a brilliant political analyst, consummate scholar and fearless Editor from Chennai sent me a copy of her book titled ‘Eclipse of the Hindu Nation, Gandhi and his Freedom Struggle’. She is also one of the authors of the book ‘NGOs, Activists and Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry published a few years ago. In my view the most important and seminal book on India’s Freedom Movement that has been published after our independence is the recent book of Smt Radha Rajan titled Eclipse of the Hindu Nation, Gandhi and his Freedom Struggle.”

What amazes me most is the fact that Smt Radha Rajan is both a historiographer and an original historian. What is historiography? Historiography is the study of the history and methodology of the discipline of history. As such, it uses semiotics to consider how knowledge of the past is obtained and transmitted. Formally, historiography examines the writing of history, the use of historical methods, drawing upon authorship, sources, interpretation, style, bias etc. Further, historiography also denotes a body of historical work. Scholars discuss historiography topically, i.e. the “historiography of Catholicism,” the “historiography of early Islam,” the “historiography of China,” etc., and the approaches and genres include oral history and social history. Smt Radha Rajan’s book is a landmark work both in the field of Historiography of India’s Freedom Movement and History of India’s Freedom Movement. That is why perhaps the State-supported and State-sustained (by means of flood-flow of Government advertisements on a massive scale!) criminal mafia of mass media in India--both print and electronic—have deliberately chosen to black out this revolutionary Hindu Nationalistic book from public view. The truths enshrined in this book have the explosive and convulsive power of billions and billions of atom bombs and are going to explode sooner than later in the not very distant future.

Conal Furay and Michael J. Salevouris define historiography as "the study of the way history has been and is written — the history of historical writing... When you study 'historiography' you do not study the events of the past directly, but the changing interpretations of those events …”

Having closely surveyed and read this work of Smt Radha Rajan, I can say that she has unconsciously though indubitably followed the road map for proper history writing drawn up by great historians like Fernand Braudel (1902-1985), R.G Collingwood (1889-1943), E.H Carr (1892-1982) and Michael Oakeshot (1901-1990). I would like to offer some quotations from the corpus of their great historical writings to illustrate my point regarding Smt Radha Rajan.

Fernand Braudel (1902-1985)

Fernand Braudel was the foremost French historian of the postwar era, and a leader of the Annales School. His reputation stems in part from his writings, but even more from his success in making the Annales School the most important engine of historical research in France and much of the world after 1950. Braudel has been considered one of the greatest of those modern historians who have emphasized the role of large scale socio-economic factors in the making and telling of history. He can also be considered as one of the precursors of World Systems Theory. As the dominant leader of the Annales School of historiography in the 1950s and 1960s, he exerted enormous influence on historical writing in France and other countries.

According to Braudel, History offers “a gleam but no illumination; facts but no illumination”, because Historians tend to focus exclusively on events, individual actions and short-term developments and assume that each can be perceived discretely. History is thus reduced to histoire e’ve’nementielle or the history of events, particularly political events. Renouncing the drama and ‘breathless rush’ of histoire e’ve’nementielle is no easy matter, but we must do so if we are to achieve a better understanding of the world. In Braudel’s view, THE SHORT TERM IS NOT THE CENTRE OF HISTORY; historians have only taken it to be such. Rather, history does not have a Centre.

Like other Structuralists, Braudel believes that meaning in history is relational rather than substantial: the meaning of objects, events and individual actions lies not in the things themselves, but in the relationships we construct between them. Apprehending structures, Braudel believes, requires broadening and deepening our gaze across and through time. That is, historians must not only consider the relations of co-existing elements (for example, cultural, geographic, economic and political developments) but also those over different periods of time (for instance, long-term and short-term developments). When we change our gaze, we can no longer maintain the fiction that time is homogeneous: ‘time does not flow at one even rate, but goes at a thousand different paces, swift or slow, which bear almost no relation to the day-to-day rhythm of a chronicle or traditional history’.

Plotting out the various paces of time is impossible, but Braudel detects three broad groupings in historical time: ‘Geographical Time (la longue dure’e – the long-term periods that span at least one century)’, ‘Social Time’ and ‘Individual Time (histoire e’ve’nementielle or the history of events)’. Braudel’s vision of history requires the study of a broad range of historical evidence over la longue dure’e, the long-term period. According to him the study of the past makes greater self-understanding possible. To quote his brilliant words in this context: “Live in London for a year and you will not learn much about England but you will learn a lot about France: you see because you have distanced yourself. Past and present illuminate one another reciprocally. So history is as much about the present as it is about the past.”

I have quoted these words of Braudel only to bring out the fact that Smt Radha Rajan also views the history of India’s freedom movement and the stranglehold that Mahatma Gandhi had on it from 1919 to 1948 in the same manner as Braudel. According to her this book is as much concerned about the present (eg. 2010) as it is about the past!(1890 to 1947)

                                  R.G Collingwood (1889-1943)

According to R.G Collingwood the structure of history raised by any historian rests on Res gestae. Res gestae “are actions done by reasonable agents in pursuit of ends determined by their reason”. And for Collingwood the key to gaining knowledge of Res gestae is re-enactment. In this re-enactment, let me quote the oft quoted famous words of Collingwood regarding the right approach of a great historian: “The historian must be able to think over again for himself the thought whose expression he is trying to interpret. If for any reason he is such a kind of man that he cannot do this, he had better leave the problem alone. The important point here is that the historian of a certain thought must think for himself that very same thought, not another like it.”

According to Collingwood historians do not look at evidence and simply describe what they see: they ‘read’ it. Documents are not in themselves evidence. Evidence consists ofwhat they say’. For example, any archaeologist looking at a triangular piece of clay discovered in an archaeological dig can view it superficially as a triangular piece of clay. But he could also ‘read it’ as a loom weight. The important thing here is that the historian assumes that the piece of clay is an expression of thought or language. Indeed Collingwood argues thatevery action has the character of language’ and that ‘every action is an expression of thought’.

Based on this kind of approach Collingwood sums it all up as follows: “The starting point of any genuinely historical argument is strictly speaking, not ‘this person, or this printed book, or this set of footprints, says so-and-so’, but ‘I knowing the language, read this person, or this book, or these footprints, as saying so-and-so.’ That is why it could be insisted that … in respect of his evidence the historian is autonomous or dependent on his own authority: for … his evidence is always an experience of his own, an act which he has performed by his own powers and is conscious of having performed by his own powers: the aesthetic act of reading a certain text in a language he knows and assigning to it a certain sense.” (Ref: The Principles of History, pg 43-44).

In my view Smt Radha Rajan has subjected THE COMPLETE WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI brought out by the Government of India to the same kind of minute, searching and incisive questioning and analysis--- not only ‘viewing’ but also ‘seeing’ it through and whole---as indicated by Collingwood in the paragraph above. She has functioned as an independent, objective, fearless and autonomous historian of India’s freedom movement. For Smt Radha Rajan the study of history of India’s freedom movement is not a luxury but a fundamental duty that every Indian Citizen must discharge. If I can interpret her mind, she seems to tell us: “The development of self-knowledge ought to be the fundamental aim of humanity. Through self-knowledge I realize that my life is given shape by particular presuppositions and that it is imperative that I help others to achieve the same realization.”

In this context the questions raised by R.G Collingwood become relevant: “Why should we think of History as merely a trade or profession, a craft or calling? And what is the good of doing that.” For Collingwood the question is not ‘Shall I be an Historian or not?’ but ‘How good an Historian shall I be?’ My answer to Collingwood would be that Smt Radha Rajan is an outstanding Historian of India’s Freedom Movement in all its phases, dimensions and aspects.

                                              E.H Carr (1892-1982)

Let me now come to E.H Carr. In his most popular work ‘What is History?’, Carr has stated that facts are not ascertained like sense impressions and do not ‘Speak for themselves’. Nor are they entirely the creation of historians. For Carr, facts exist apart from the historian, but they only become ‘historical facts’ when they are judged historically significant by selection and interpretation. To quote the words of E.H Carr in this context: “The facts speak only when the historian calls on them: it is he who decides to which facts to give the floor, and in what order or context. … It is the historian who has decided for his own reasons that Julius Caesar’s crossing of that petty stream Rubicon is a fact of history, whereas the crossings of the Rubicon by millions of other people … interest no body at all.” Smt Radha Rajan has selected, interpreted and presented facts regarding India’s Freedom Movement with a rare kind of acumen and prescience in the light of her analysis, her interests and experiences. She has proven Carr right that her history is an unending dialogue between the past and the present.

Michael Oakeshot (1901-1990)

I can see that Smt Radha Rajan has been unconsciously influenced by the history-writing and historiography of Michael Oakeshott. According to Oakeshott, ‘history’ as it is commonly viewed incorporates two distinct ideas. First, it can refer to the ‘the notional ground total’ of all that humanity has experienced or ‘a passage of somehow related occurrences distinguished in this grand total by being specified in terms of a place and a time and a substantive identity’. Here, ‘history’ refers to ‘what actually happened there and then’ and is made by the participants in historical occurrences irrespective of whether we know anything about them. Second, ‘history’ may refer to an historian’s inquiry into or attempt to understand historical occurrences.

Great historians, Oakeshott contends, are the creators rather than the discoverers of the past which they describe. They aim not to revive a dead past, for that would be a piece of ‘obscene necromancy’, but to transform historical evidence or ‘survivals’ into an account in which they understand ‘men and events more profoundly than when they were understood when they lived and happened’. History is thus an activity which accounts for the nature and existence of historical survivals and the historian contributes to a coherent account of the present world. This does not mean, however, that historians are free to write what they please, because their work must accommodate historical evidence. The ‘truth’ of their accounts will depend not on their correspondence with the past ‘as it really was’ but on their coherence and comprehensiveness. Oakshott writes: “Coherence is the sole criterion of Truth: it requires neither modification nor supplement, and is operative always and everywhere because there is no external means by which Truth can be established.” The work of Smt Radha Rajan is distinguished by the qualities of both coherence and comprehensiveness in the sense in which Michael Oakeshott has defined them.

In short, for a true historian, the past ‘is a certain way of reading the present’. In his famous essay “The Activity of being a Historian”, Oakshott identifies 4 attitudes that can be taken towards the past: Contemplative, Scientific, Practical and Historical. In my view, Smt Radha Rajan takes the most practical attitude in narrating the history of India’s Freedom Movement based on the irrefutable documentary evidence available in more than 100 Volumes of THE COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI brought out by the Government of India. Oakshott has clearly explained what is the most practical attitude. Let us hear the words of Oakshott in this context:

“Whenever the past is merely that which preceded the present, that from which the present has grown, wherever the significance of the past lies in the fact that it has been influential in deciding the present and future fortunes of man, wherever the present is sought in the past, and wherever the past is regarded as merely a refuge from the present–-the past involved is a practical and not a historical past.”

This kind of practical attitude has been displayed by Smt Radha Rajan on every page of her explosive book --- seen, for instance, in searching for the origins of events like the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal in 1905, Surat Session of the Indian National Congress(INC) in 1907, Khilafat Movement in 1920-21 and passing fearless and objective value judgments on each of them and pointing to future events. As a formidable practical historian, Smt Radha Rajan has admirably succeeded in picking out emblematic actions and utterances of Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders from the vast storehouse that is the living past of India’s Freedom Movement: Occurrences, artifacts and utterances have been transformed by her into living historical tales.

As for Oakshott, so also for Smt Radha Rajan there is a close relationship between the practical attitude to the past and her ‘ideology’(any sort of pre-meditated political concept or abstraction). What Oakshott has written in his famous essay ‘The Activity Of Being An Historian’, is wholly applicable to the brilliant value judgments and findings of Smt Radha Rajan: “The categories of ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’, ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’, ‘Justice’ and ‘Injustice’ etc relate to the organization of the world --- Past or Present --- in respect of relationship to ourselves”.

Another observation of Oakshott which is wholly applicable to the work of Smt Radha Rajan is that for a genuine historian the past is feminine; he loves it as a mistress of whom he never tires and whom he never expects to talk sense”.

The appeal of Smt Radha Rajan’s history to us all in the last analysis is poetic. As the great historian G.M TREVELYAN has stated, the poetry of history does not consist of imagination roaming at large, but of imagination pursuing the fact and fastening upon it. That is what Smt Radha Rajan has done through her creative imagination with assiduous care in her book.

In the light of all this, the root questions to be asked are as follows: “Ought history to be merely the accumulation of facts about the past? Or ought it also to be the interpretation of facts about the past? Or one step further, ought it to be not merely the accumulation and interpretation of facts, but also the exposition of these facts and opinions in their full emotional and intellectual value to a wide public by the difficult art of literature?” I can say with certainty (after having read the book many times!) Smt Radha Rajan has achieved great success on all these fronts in her exceptional book ‘Eclipse of the Hindu Nation, Gandhi and his Freedom Struggle’.

All of us are wrong in our assumption that in writing, the creative process is the exclusive property of poets and novelists. I would like to suggest that the thought applied by a distinguished historian like Smt Radha Rajan to her subject matter is not less creative than the imagination applied by a novelist to the art of his novel.

                           George Macaulay Trevelyan (1876-1962)

That is why the great English historian George Macaulay Trevelyan (1876-1962), the late Professor of Modern History at Cambridge and the great champion of literary as opposed to scientific history stated thus in his famous essay on the muse: “I would always stress writing for the general reader as opposed to writing for fellow scholars because I know that when you write for the public you have to be clear and you have to be interesting. I have no patience with the idea that only imaginative writing is literature. Bad novels are not literature. Even polemical pamphlets, if they are good enough can become literature.” In this context Trevelyan cited the pamphlets of John Milton (1608-1674), Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and Edmund Burke (1729-1797). Smt Radha Rajan’s book is a work of literature. It is a gold mine for her fellow scholars and at the same time it is also a great read for the general public because she has made her narrative history of India’s Freedom Movement both clear and interesting.

Finally Trevelyan concluded that the best historian was he who combined knowledge of the evidence with the “the largest intellect, the warmest human sympathy and the highest imaginative powers”. No one can deny that Smt Radha Rajan possesses all these qualifications. The last two human qualities mentioned by Trevelyan are no different from those necessary to a great novelist. They are a necessary part of a historian’s equipment because they are what enable him to understand the evidence he has accumulated. Imagination stretches the available facts --- extrapolates them, so to speak, thus often supplying an otherwise missing answer to the “Why” of what happened. Sympathy is essential to the understanding of motive. Without sympathy and imagination, the historian can supply figures from a land revenue tax roll for ever --- or count them by computer as they do nowadays --- but he will never know or be able to portray the people who paid the land revenue taxes.

Smt Radha Rajan has combined the qualities of sympathy and imagination in the writing of her landmark book. Narrative history is neither as simple nor as straightforward as it might seem. It requires arrangement, composition, planning just like a painting --- like Raja Ravi Varma’s famous painting of Goddess Saraswati or Goddess Lakshmi. Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) did not paint those figures with the light falling on them just so, with out much trial and error and innumerable preliminary sketches. It is the same with writing history. Although the finished result may look to the reader natural and inevitable, as if the author had only to follow the sequence of events, it is not that easy. Some times, to catch attention, the crucial events and the causative circumstance have to be reversed in order --- the event first and the cause afterwards. Smt Radha Rajan is as painstaking as a writer as Raja Ravi Varma was as a painter. Her clear goals as a writer seem to be clarity, interest and aesthetic pleasure. On the first of these, I would like to quote, Lord Macaulay (1800-1859), a great historian (excepting on India!) and writer on many subjects and themes: “How little the all important part of making meaning of any writing pellucid is studied now! How hardly any popular writer, except myself, thinks of it.”

In Chapter I titled ‘A Hindu Nation But Not A Hindu State’, Smt Radha Rajan refers extensively to Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the Hindu Science of Statecraft. According to Kautilya, rashtra implies both territory with well-defined borders and its inhabitants. I agree with her when she says that though Hindus comprise 83% of India’s population, yet when colonial rule ended on August 15 1947, despite being a Nation of Hindus, we failed to establish a Hindu Rajya(Hindu polity) enjoined and empowered to protect Sanatana Dharma and the dharmi, that is the Hindu dharma and the Hindu people.

Smt Radha Rajan has correctly diagnosed that the following factors have been responsible for our failure to establish a Hindu Rajya:

Both the British Raj and the Indian National Congress (INC) always discredited and/or ruthlessly put down all expressions of Hindu resistance and rebellion.

Gandhi and his doctrines of ‘passive resistance’ and ‘non-violence’ came to occupy the public space vacated by Hindu nationalists and fiery proponents of Hindu Rajya like Tilak, Aurobindo and Veer Savarkar all of whom were towering Hindu thinkers and votaries of armed resistance. Gandhi de-legitimized Hindu anger and all expressions of Hindu anger.

Nehru inherited the mantle of leadership from Gandhi and was actively hostile to everything Hindu.

• No important leader of the Freedom Struggle (with the striking exception of Veer Savarkar) explicitly articulated or delineated the concept of Hindu Rajya as the ultimate objective of the Freedom Movement.

• After the advent of Gandhi in 1915 and the ascent of Nehru in 1929, with the notable exception of Veer Savarkar, there was no sense of conscious ‘Hindu’ political objectives to the Freedom Movement in general and to the Indian National Congress (INC) in particular. Very unfortunately there was no collective and conscious realization of the nature of a Hindu Rashtra and the objectives of Hindu Rajya and hence there was no intention or determination to achieve them.

Sri Aurobindo Bal Gangadhar Tilak Veer Savarkar

(1872-1950) (1856-1920) (1883-1966)

Aurobindo withdrew from the arena of politics in 1910. Tilak was sent to prison in Burma soon thereafter and after his return lived only for a few more years till his death in 1920. Veer Savarkar was jailed for 25 years from 1911. Thus the Hindu Society failed to throw up an outstanding leader (other than these 3 stalwarts) during the critically important period from 1890 to 1947. Sri Aurobindo and Bal Gangadhar Tilak had no clear conception or understanding of what is a Hindu Rashtra. Nor did they declare from any public platform that the goal of Purna Swaraj is the establishment of a Hindu State. Only Veer Savarkar was clear and categorical in his view that the establishment of a Hindu State and Hindu Nation ought to be the aim of Purna Swaraj

Smt Radha Rajan has argued with facts and tested documentary evidence that Mahatma Gandhi was adroitly pumped into the leadership vacuum deliberately created in India by the British Government in 1914. The British Colonial Government managed to politically smuggle M.K Gandhi out of South Africa and to ‘plant’ him in India with effect from January 1915. In this pre-planned political operation, the British Government had cleverly and carefully utilised the services of a known Empire loyalist like Gopal Krishna Gokhale from 1909 onwards. The point to be noted here is that Gopal Krishna Gokhale died on 19 February 1915, within one month of MK Gandhi’s arrival in Bombay. Thus the British planned political field for MK Gandhi became totally open and clear in February 1915!

                               Gopala Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915)

It was Gopala Krishna Gokhale who visited South Africa twice and acted as a political ambassador between the Colonial Government of India, Government of Britain and Mr M.K Gandhi. It was Gokhale who convinced Gandhi that his services were more urgently required in India than in South Africa. It was the paramount political aim of the British Government, both in India and in Britain, to see that a mild and wobbly character like M.K Gandhi stepped into the leadership vacuum created by the forced exit of fiery and uncompromising Hindu Nationalists like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Sri Aurobindo and Veer Savarkar. According to Smt Radha Rajan, in this murky design the British Government succeeded magnificently.

I would put the planned injection of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi into the body politic of India in these words: The British Government wanted the strategic presence of M.K Gandhi in India in January 1915, particularly having regard to the several extremist movements for India’s freedom like the Gaddhar Movement that were erupting in India and abroad during that time. Thus was ushered in the diabolic colonial intervention which irretrievably twisted the twig of events against Hindu Nationalism in the subsequent history of India’s Freedom Movement. I am putting it in this manner because I am always seduced by the sound of words and the interaction of their sound and sense.

Smt Radha Rajan has rightly concluded with cold and biting sarcasm: “Gandhi’s untested Mahatmahood gave him a ready constituency in 1920 but he declared that neither he nor the Indian National Congress (INC) represented Hindu interests!” The swansong of the Congress party --- and of course, Sonia Congress Party --- continues to be the same even today. I shall be reverting to this contraband political operation of the Colonial British Government in India in the later parts of my review of this book.

To quote the brilliant words of Smt Radha Rajan: The British Government in India used state power to brutalize and break the spirit of Hindu Nationalists to discourage all thoughts of armed resistance and political independence. Post-independence Indian Polity also continued with use of state power to quell Hindu Nationalism because Hindu Nationalism threatened to dismantle the shaky edifice of the bogus but highly remunerative secular polity which sustains politics of minorityism and their votaries.”

Let me now go back in time to the establishment of the Indian National Congress (INC) in December 1885. The most brilliant finding of Smt Radha Rajan is that the Indian National Congress (INC) was planned, organized, manufactured and launched according to their own imperialistic design, in the manner and measure required, by the colonial British Government in 1885. This task was entrusted to Allan Octavian Hume I.C.S.

                               Allan Octavian Hume I.C.S. (1829-1912)

He founded the Indian National Congress (INC) in December 1885. The First Session of the Indian National Congress (INC) was held in Bombay in December 1885. Womesh Chandra Banerjee was the President of this Session. ‘Salem Lion’ Vijayaraghavachariar (1852-1944), one of the greatest captains in our struggle for freedom and G. Subramania Iyer (1855-1916) attended this session from Madras Presidency.

The picture of the First Session of the Congress in Bombay in December 1885 is given below.

We can see A.O Hume sitting at the centre (encircled in red above).

According to Smt Radha Rajan, the INC has been touted by motivated historians as the ultimate vehicle of Indian Nationalism. THE Indian National Congress (INC) WAS SET UP BY A.O. HUME TO MAKE INDIANS WILLING AND/OR UNWITTING COLLABORATORS OF THE RAJ. At any rate that ideology of Indian Nationalism always excluded the Hindus of India, their hopes, urges and aspirations!

Before I conclude the second part of the review, I would again like to comment upon Smt Radha Rajan’s exceptional versatility as a historian and a historiographer. She makes us understand through her evocative and pointed writing that history is philosophy, teaching by example and also by warning; its two eyes are geography and chronology. She seems to tell us that history is nothing but the unrolled scroll of prophesy.

As a historian Smt Radha Rajan is exact, sincere and impartial. She is free from fear, resentment or affection. She is faithful to the TRUTH, which is the Mother of History, the Preserver of Great Actions, the Enemy of Oblivion, the Witness of the Past, the Divine Director of the Future. The best tribute I can pay to her work is in the words of the great English Historian John Robert Seeley (1834-1895):History is not, as it was once regarded, merely a liberal pursuit in which men found wholesome food for the imagination and sympathies; but now it is a department of serious scientific investigations. We study it in the hope of giving new precision, definiteness and solidity to the principles of political science.” As a dedicated scholar and historian, Smt Radha Rajan has done just that for educating us all about the imperative and paramount national need for the creation of a HINDU NATION with reference to the timeless principles of Hindu Statecraft and political science outlined by Kautilya in his famous Arthasastra
(to be continued)

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