Friday, October 02, 2009

Gandhi Jayanthi

In my opinion it is a book which can be put into the hands of a child. It teaches the gospel of love in place of that of hate. It replaces violence with self-sacrifice. It pits soul-force against brute force.

These are Gandhi’s words about his manifesto – The Hind Swaraj. It is true. It’ll make sense even to a child. It’s
simple. And deceptively so.

The book was written in 1908 while Gandhi was traveling by sea from England to South Africa. A recent American publication chose to call the work the SERMON ON THE SEA.

An inspired book which he wrote in 9 days, like a man possessed. He wrote it in such a frenzy that he used both hands alternately to write it. More than 40 pages were written with his left hand!

It was written in Gujarathi, and then translated by Gandhi himself, and published in the same year (1908)

The book was banned in India by the British authorities.
Why was it banned? Find out for yourself. On this Gandhi Jayanthi day, take a resolution to read this small book. It won’t take you more than an hour.
Don’t we owe it to this great man to find out what he believed?

A warning: He might appear naive, or outdated, but he is neither. He is anti modern.
He is post modern.
So read with an open mind. Remember, five years after the publication of this book, World War I broke out.



  1. History is merely the story as written by the winners. We might read Chettur Sankaran Nair’s ‘Gandhi and Anarchy’, to know Gandhi in his own period. To quote a bit,
    “His attitude towards the Mopla outrages shows the extent of his surrender. His alliance with the Khilafat movement has led to frightful results in Malabar. The result was, themselves armed and organised, they took the Hindus unawares and committed atrocities too well known, to need recapitulation here — butchered them and inflicted injuries on them far worse than death.
    For sheer brutality on women, I do not remember anything in history to match the Malabar rebellion. It broke out about the 20th of August. Even by the 6th of September, the results were dreadful. The Viceroy's speech made on that date deserves careful attention.
    ....The atrocities committed more particularly on women are so horrible and unmentionable that I do not propose to refer to them in this book. This is what Malabar in particular owes to the Khilafat agitation, to Gandhi and his Hindu friends. The President of the Indian Moslem League, following the AH injunction, justified the Mahomedan atrocities as an act of war against the Hindus and the Government. Gandhi too pleaded for the Mahomedans.”

  2. @ stoic
    gandhi has made mistakes-plenty of them- expensive ones. He has admitted on several occasion that his support of khilfat was a terrible mistake. No, i was not claiming divinity for gandhi-
    reg viceroy's speech - there is truth in it - how much, is the question. look back at the first sentence of your comment :-)
    history is always a pack of official lies-
    have u read about the british reports of the atrocities by the Indians in the rising of 1857?

  3. A Stoic, The communally minded polititcal leaders and writers along with the British always wanted to increase the divide between Hindus and Muslims.In case of Malabar rebellion also they did the same.But there are enough historical evidence to suggest that the rebellion was a mainly a peasant revolt by Muslim peasants against British rule and the pro British land lords who were mainly Hindus. All Hindu landlords who cooperated with the Moplahs in fighting the British were given protection. Yes, forced conversions and violence against women took place and in later stages it did degenerate into communal violence in some areas.But to dump the Malabar rebellion as a mere communal riot is distorting history

  4. @ charakan
    thanks. have only a superficial knowledge of the malabar riots.

    yes, it's the textual nature of history that we must keep in mind. it's not the last word. on communal issues particularly you can have my number of interpretations depending on who records it.

  5. @charakan:
    Yes, the Past is in the hands of the Present. Your viewpoint is the current accepted version. Current history also says [watch the TV serials] that Tippu was the embodiment of religious tolerance.

    Did the Khilafat have anything to do with the Moplah rebellion at all?

    Chettur Sankaran Nair was not an RSS guy, I presume. And he lived in those times, unlike us.

  6. Stoic, my family including my grand parents who were hindus also lived there in Malappuram during that time and I have also some idea of what happened from their stories.
    Tipu was an invader King who tolerated anyone who agreed to his rule and was not a religious zealot.Many Forts of Tipu in Kerala have an idol of Hanuman guarding its entrance.The communally minded people on either side wanted to make Tipu an anti-Hindu or an Islamist.He was neither and his palace had many officials who were Hindus.Communalism started in the 20th century only.

  7. @ charakan
    though from midtravancore, i too have grown up with stories about tippu's atrocities in malabar (guess you know that one about pulling up high caste hindus by their kudumi-knot at the top of the head - and, well you should know the rest). your take is interesting and new knowledge to me.can you give me a good source (in English)about the issue discussed between you and Stoic?

  8. The Tipu Fort in Palakkad has Hanuman idol at the entrance. It is believed to be present when the Fort was built by Hyder Ali. As you may be aware many of the high-ranking officials of Tipu's Palace were Hindus.Tipu did help financially and militarily many temples. At the same time he also have destroyed many temples. Being a Muslim invader he might have been afraid or reluctant to destroy mosques, but may not have any problem in destroying temples. In summary if you zoom out and look with a wide vision we can understand that he was just a brave Sultan, a ruler who fought the British with the help of the French and destroyed anything which he thought will question his authority. There was no Hindu versus Muslim question then. Only loyalty versus disloyalty to the ruler. The ruler will do anything to sustain his rule. Of such rulers Tipu was notable for his bravery and the will to fight till his last breath in contrast to most rulers of Kerala who saved their skin by aligning with the strongest powers of those times.
    Read this review of Irfan Habib edited Indian History Congress volume on Hyder and Tipu's rule
    You may not get the actual volume but I had the opportunity to read few articles from that volume.


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