26 December 2008

Heroes of Modern India

Who are the greatest men/leaders of modern India? Here are my heroes of 20th century India:

1. Swami Vivekananda
For awakening India after 1000 years of foreign rule and slavery.

2. Mahatma Gandhi
For leading India's freedom struggle.

3. Dr K B Hedgewar
For founding the RSS to organise Indians on the basis of nationalism.

4. Guruji M S Golwalkar
For building the RSS into a mighty nationalist organisation.

5. Sardar Patel
For unifying India into a nation-state.

6. Jawaharlal Nehru
For nurturing India's democracy.

7. Dr B R Ambedkar
For being the architect of India's Constitution.

8. Lal Bahadur Shastri
For being the father of India's Green Revolution.

9. M Vishweshwarayya
For pioneering industrialisation in India.

10. A B Vajpayee
For bringing nationalism to the centre-stage of Indian politics.

11. L K Advani
Same as above.

12. P V Narasimha Rao
For converting India from socialism to capitalism.

13. Dr Manmohan Singh
Same as above.

14. A P J Abdul Kalam
For being the father of India's missile program.

Inspiration for this post: This list of Nandan Nilekani's heroes.

19 December 2008

Vande Mataram - English

Here is my shot at an English translation of Vande Mataram:

I salute the Mother
She of clear water, delicious fruits and fragrant breeze
She of green vegetation, the Mother.

She of white moonlight and lively nights
Adorned by trees with blooming flowers
She of sweet smile and beautiful speech
Giver of joy, giver of boons, the Mother.

Her billion throats roaring with a fearsome voice
Her billion arms wielding a billion swords
Mother, who says you are weak?
Possessor of many powers, I salute the protector
Fighter of enemies, the Mother.

You are knowledge, you are religion
You are my heart, you are my soul
You are the breath in my body
Mother, you are the strength in my arms
Mother, you are the love in my heart
Your image is worshipped
In each and every temple.

You are Durga, holding weapons in her ten hands
You are Lakshmi, sitting on lotus petals
You are Saraswati, the giver of knowledge
I salute you, I salute the pure and incomparable one
She of clear water and delicious fruits, the Mother.

Dusky, innocent, smiling sweetly and wearing jewels
The earth, the nurturer, the Mother.

17 December 2008

Vande Mataram

vandE mAtaram
sujalAm suphalAm malayaja SeetalAm
sasyaSyAmalAm mAtaram

SubhrajyotsnA pulakitayAmineem
phullakusumita drumadala Sobhineem
suhAsineem sumadhura bhAShiNeem
sukhadAm varadAm mAtaram

kOTi kOTi kanTha kalakalaninAda karAlE
kOTi kOTi bhujairdhrta kharakaravAlE
abalA keno mA eto balE
bahubaladhAriNeem namAmi tAriNeem
ripudalavAriNeem mAtaram

tumi vidyA tumi dharma
tumi hrdi tumi marma
tvam hi prANAh SareerE
bAhutE tumi mA Sakti
hrdayE tumi mA bhakti
tOmAra i pratimA gaDi
mandirE mandirE

tvam hi durgA daSapraharaNa dhAriNee
kamalA kamaladala vihAriNee
vANee vidyAdAyinee namAmi tvAm
namAmi kamalAm amalAm atulAm
sujalAm suphalAm mAtaram

SyAmalAm saralAm susmitAm bhooShitAm
dharaNeem bharaNeem mAtaram

08 December 2008

The Hindu Phenomenon

I recently came across this remarkable book called "The Hindu Phenomenon" by Girilal Jain. Girilal Jain was the editor of the Times of India during 1978-88. Surprisingly he was a supporter of Hindu nationalism. He was one of the few intellectuals who welcomed the Ayodhya movement of the late 1980s. "The Hindu Phenomenon", a collection of six of his essays, was published in 1993.

The work, though slightly disjointed in some places, is impressive. Ambitious in its scope, it tries to understand Hindu nationalism (a modern ideology) by placing it in the context of the last 1000 years of India's history. Throughout the book the author makes many loaded statements, without giving detailed facts and arguments to support them (possibly due to the posthumous nature of the work). Still, his conclusions are very insightful and offer a lot of food for thought. The breadth of the author's reading is also quite impressive.

07 December 2008

History of Hindutva

Though Hindutva is a much-discussed subject, there is hardly any decent material on its history – either on the web or in print. The one exception seems to be Jyotirmaya Sharma's "Hindutva: Exploring the idea of Hindu nationalism" (an anti-Hindutva book; I have not yet read it).

Based on my limited reading, I feel Hindutva – and its evolution – can be best understood by studying the thinkers who shaped the ideology. These are:

1. Raja Rammohan Roy (1774-1833)
2. Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883)
3. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1894)
4. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886)
5. Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)
6. Aurobindo Ghosh (1872-1950)
7. Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920)
8. Veer Savarkar (1883-1966)
9. Dr Hedgewar (1889-1940)
10. Guruji Golwalkar (1906-1973)

02 December 2008

Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati - 2

Kandhmal's Father

- Was a friend, philosopher and guide for the tribals. Often accompanied them to government offices and police stations so they would not be exploited.
- Pioneered forest conservation in the district. Declared forest as the village property.
- Believed in the conservation of tribal culture. Restored the tribal deity-place (Dharani Penu, or Mother Earth) in tribal hamlets. Conducted several rath yatras among the tribals to create awareness about their culture, traditions and rights.
- Staunchly opposed cow slaughter. Toured Orissa many times taking the message of cow protection to the people. Staged several dharnas, protests and hunger strikes over the issue.
- Was a formidable force against conversions by Christian missionaries in the district. Believed that conversion uprooted the tribals from their culture and their land.
- Convinced repentant converts, who had been converted by fraud or inducements, to go back to their original religion.

Is it any wonder that the tribals of Kandhmal worshipped him as a living God? Is it any wonder that they responded with such fury when their beloved Swamiji was so brutally murdered?

*Source: Truth Behind Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati's Murder (Publishers: Viswa Sambad Kendra, Bhuvaneshwar)

01 December 2008

Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati - 1

Here is some information* on Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, whose murder in August triggered the violence in Orissa's Kandhmal district.

Early Life

- 1926: Born in Orissa's Angul district.
- 1951: Became a sanyasi at the age of 25.
- Meditated in the Himalayas for a few years.
- 1968: Returned to Orissa to take part in anti-cow slaughter and anti-conversion movements.
- Decided to stay back in Orissa, at the request of social activists like Bhupendra Kumar Basu, and continued social works among the tribals and Dalits of Phulbani district (now Kandhmal).

Social Works

- 1969: Set up his first ashram at Chakapada, which soon became the centre of his social service activities.
- Renovated the Birupaksya, Anandeswar and Jogeswar temples with the help of locals.
- Established a Sanskrit school on gurukul pattern (later upgraded to a college).
- Established Sankaracharya Kanyashram, a residential school in Jalespatta for underprivileged girls.
- Was awarded the title of 'Vedanta Keshari'.
- Was awarded the Vivekananda Seva Puraskar.
- Introduced Satsang in all the villages of Kandhmal district.
- Founded Seva schools at Tulsipur and Banki in Cuttack district.
- Founded ashrams in Angul, Koraput and other districts.
- Started night schools for adults and working children.
- Spearheaded anti-liquor movements through his Satsangs. As a result, many villages (like Katingia in Udaygiri tehsil) gave up liquor completely.
- Persuaded tribals and other non-farming communities to take up modern agriculture and grow hybrid crops. Example: G Udaygiri Block in Kandhmal district produces high quality French beans today.
- Formed the Vegetable Cooperative Society for farmers at Katingia village.