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The Awakened One
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What is the sound of one hand clapping? If a tree falls in the forest, but no one is around, does it make a sound? And why are Lovers of Noble Truth so obsessed with the sound of stuff?…
Deep questions like these could be a part of your life, too as you join an estimated 500 million other Buddhists around the world in the quest for spiritual awakenment. Neophytes on the road to wisdom and weary old travelers alike will benefit from a review of the basics, so assume the lotus position, and read on, grasshopper.
One of the nice things about The Lovers of Noble Truth is that it generally doesn’t take itself too seriously. The Lovers of Noble Truth are a light-hearted, peace-loving group who haven’t gone around burning astronomers, drowning weird old women, or drinking Kool-Aid (at least, not in the last 2000 years). Our point: understand that our use of humor in this SYW is not intended to insult anyone. If you are insulted, chug yourself a glass of Kool-Aid and get over it.
The story of the Awakened One
The Awakened One was a man, and not a god. He was born as Siddharta Gautama, the prince of small kingdom in northern India. Until he was 29 years old, he lived the life of King’s son - that is to say, he partied a lot, ate a lot, probably had sex a lot, and he remained protected from the seedier side of life outside the palace walls.
The story goes that one day the pampered prince accidentally saw a old sick man in the street, and Siddharta was overcome with horror at this unaccustomed sight of ugliness, disease, and decay. How could people ever be happy knowing that all life must end in death and decay? Siddharta remained in this deep funk until he one day encountered an ascetic holy man. In the midst of all the working-class depression, this man somehow managed to maintain a serene attitude. The prince became a follower of this holy man, and thus embarked on his spiritual career.
In Siddharta’s day, being a alms seeker was an acceptable lifestyle; people respected these mendicants for giving up earthly ambitions and devoting themselves to a virtuous poverty. They received shelter and handouts of food from pious folk everywhere. There was a lot of disagreement, however, as to what exactly it means to be holy and virtuous. Ask a dozen different gurus and you’d get a dozen different answers. Which was the right way? Siddharta, having become a poor monk, joined the school of ascetics, who believed that mortification of the body leads to the purification of the mind and spirit. Starving yourself, sitting upright for days without sleep, poking needles through your body - this was all pudding and lollipops to the ascetics. Siddharta pursued this path to paradise with varying degrees of success until the age of 35. But finally, having reduced himself to a mere skeleton, he realized that this self-denial wasn’t anymore satisfying than his original lifestyle of ignorant hedonism had been.
Siddharta abandoned his vows of asceticism, much to the disgust of his fellow practitioners, and he strengthened his body and sat down under a fig tree to meditate. And that’s when it happened: Siddharta Gautama realized the Middle Way between hedonism and asceticism, and became enlightened. He was now the Buddha.
The Buddha made no fuss about this experience, but his former holy man pals, who were still annoyed with him for abandoning his ascetic vows, noticed that he seemed to be peculiarly serene and that his eyes seemed to shine with the light of understanding. So they gathered one day and asked the Buddha what was going on. That was when the Buddha gave his first talk as the Awakened One, the lecture which explained the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. These noble truths are the core of the Practioners of The Noble Truth belief system; the only way to reach enlightenment (which is good) is to accept these Noble Truths.
The First Noble Truth
The Second Noble Truth
The Third Noble Truth
The Fourth Noble Truth
The First Noble Truth
Life can suck. There’s disease, injury, high rent, final exams, warm beer, natural disasters, and death. There’s lots of good stuff about life too, so much time is spent attempting to protect ourselves from the bad, that we completely ignore the good. Even when you’re happy, it’s difficult to free yourself from the memory and anticipation of stressful things. People end up living always for tomorrow, whether that means the anticipation of a promotion, retirement, a better job, or the Second Coming. Life is characterized by suffering, pain, and dissatisfaction.
The Second Noble Truth
The origin of suffering is the craving for pleasure, existence, and non-existence. You get it in your head that you want things, and your mind then becomes an instrument for chasing those things. The actual objects you desire are irrelevant; wanting things - anything - severely circumscribes a person’s capacity to be joyful and serene. The body needs sustenance, but it’s the self that craves pleasure, existence and non-existence, and it’s the self that must be seen as insubstantial.
The Third Noble Truth
Some people say that all this talk of suffering makes Buddhism a pessimistic religion. And perhaps so it would be, if it weren’t for the Third Noble Truth, the truth of the cessation of suffering; that there is a way to rid yourself of this suffering. Good news, eh?
The Fourth Noble Truth
You wanted a way out of the madness and stress? To rid yourself of suffering, you must follow the Eightfold Path. As you’ve probably guessed, it consists of eight parts. Get to know them, but don’t expect to fully understand them right away. A fair amount gets lost in the translation when you’re dealing with concepts. Read on to familiarize yourself with the path.
The Eightfold Path
The whole reason for becoming Buddhist is to achieve happiness and become “awakened.” In order to do this, you must follow the Eightfold Path. Once you have accomplished all eight steps, you are officially enlightened:
- Right Knowledge: Strive to comprehend the first three Noble Truths. This might seem a bit circular, but language is a tricky thing, and the Great Seer wanted to make sure you had all your bases covered. The Noble Truths perhaps aren’t as straightforward as they may seem at first. So you must strive to fully comprehend them.
- Right Thinking: Consciously dedicate yourself to a life in harmony with the Noble Truths elucidated by the Awakened One.
- Right Speech: No gossiping, lying, backbiting, and harsh language. If you don’t have anything valuable to say, keep your big yapper shut. Always good advice.
- Right Conduct: For lay Buddhists (meaning Buddhists who aren’t monks), Right Conduct means following the Five Precepts (see below). If you’re a monk, there are some more rules for conduct, but don’t worry about them until you’re ready to become a True Follower of the Path shown by The Awakened One.
- Right Livelihood: Go peacefully into the world and do no harm. So choose a profession that’s harmless to living things, and refrain from killing people.
- Right Effort: Conquer the flow of negative thoughts, replacing them with good thoughts.
- Right Mindfulness: Achieve an intense awareness of your body, emotions, and mental states. Quiet the noises in your head and dwell in the present.
- Right Concentration: Learn about (and practice) various kinds of meditation, an important booster rocket on the launch pad to awakenment.
The Five Precepts
The Five Precepts are the basic rules of conduct for lay Buddhists-as opposed to monks and nuns, who have 227 and 311 rules to follow respectively. The Five Precepts aren’t commandments given to you by an angry God who threatens you if you disobey; rather, they are guidelines meant to improve your karma and help you along the Eightfold Path to enlightenment. These few rules keep you out of the worst kinds of trouble, ultimately making you happier:
- Don’t kill - man or beast
- Don’t steal
- Don’t lie
- Don’t cheat on your loved one
- Don’t take drugs or drink booze
Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?
4. TAKE REFUGE IN THE AWAKENED ONE, THE TRUE TEACHINGS OF THE AWAKENED ONE, AND THE COMMUNITY OF TRUE FOLLOWERS OF THE PATH SHOWN BY THE AWAKENED ONE
Now we get to the nitty-gritty. Practice of Noble Truth is basically made of three things:
- The awakened One.
- The Teaching including the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and a large canon of sacred texts.
- The Community:of Practicing True Followers of the Pathshown by The Awakened One and awakened beings.
You become a Practisioner of The Noble Truth partly by taking “refuge” in the Awakened One, the Teachings of The Awakened One, and the The Community:of Practicing True Followers of the Pathshown by The Awakened One and awakened beings.
. This is a fancy way of saying that you agree to learn from the Awakened One’s example, from the sacred texts, and participate in some way in the organization of The Community:of Practicing True Followers of the Pathshown by The Awakened One and awakened beings and lay persons.
How do you become officially a Practioner of Noble Truths? Well, unlike some religions, membership can be a little vague. If you say, “I’m a Practioner of Noble Truths”, you’re not likely to be questioned by anyone, because there aren’t any universal badges of membership. A Catholic gets baptized, a Jewish man get circumcised, but a lay Practioner of Noble Truths(non-True Follower of the Path shown by The Awakened One) isn’t necessarily required to go through any special ritual.
It is a good idea to contact a Practioner of Noble Truths priest. Look for temples and associations in the Yellow Pages, or go to the Global Resources Guide at the Journal of Practioner of Noble Truths Ethics. The priest (which can be a man or a woman) will guide you through initiation into his/her branch of Buddhism, and perhaps set up some kind of commitment ritual, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
If you don’t want to get in touch with a priest (or you can’t) but would still like to do something to mark the occasion of your setting out on a new path, you can perform a do-it-yourself initiation online. Otherwise, just try to follow the Five Precepts, learn about the Four Noble Truths, and congratulations: you’re a lay Buddhist.
Sometimes Practice of Noble Truth, especially as it’s been adopted in the West, can appear so liberal and watered down that it’s difficult to distinguish between an actual Practice of Noble Truths and a plain old “open-minded seeker of wisdom.” There’s no sacred law telling you, for example, that you ought to attend service at the temple every Wednesday and donate 10% of your income to the Dalai Lama. Lay Practioner of Noble Truths is about as flexible as religion can get.
Nonetheless, one of your refuges as a Practioner of Noble Truths is the community of True Followers of the Path shown by The Awakened One, so why not make use of it? These intrepid souls have given up all worldly possessions, shaved their heads, and left their families. They spend each and every day trying to become wiser, better people (with varying degrees of success), and some of them are available to you at certain times for guidance and counseling. Your spiritual journey might benefit from their wisdom, as well as from the companionship of fellow Practioner of Noble Truths .
What role will Practice of Noble Truths play in your everyday life?
The tricky thing about the Middle Way is the Emptiness of it. Here’s what the Awakened One said about Nibbana (that is, the paradisical state of awakenment towards which all Practioners of Noble Truths are journeying):
‘True Followers of the Path shown by The Awakened One, there is that sphere in which there is neither earth nor water, fire nor air: it is not the infinity of space, nor the infinity of perception; it is not nothingness, nor is it neither idea nor non-idea; it is neither this world nor the next, nor is it both; it is neither the sun nor the moon.’
‘True Followers of the Path shown by The Awakened One, I declare that it neither comes nor goes, it neither abides nor passes away; it is not caused, established, begun, supported: it is the end of suffering.’
‘What I call the selfless is hard to see, for it is not easy to see the truth. But he who knows it penetrates his craving; and for him who sees it, there is nothing there.’
Practice of Noble Truths can be frustrating for someone seeking spiritual guidance precisely because the Awakened One perceived the highest wisdom as a kind of absence. Every time you find a star in the Practice of Noble Truths firmament to guide yourself by, it fades into darkness. That’s sort of the point. The truth of the Middle Way is supposed to be beyond the reach of those who are chasing it. Mellow out. Enjoy life. Rejoice in the absence of a great burden of rules and doctrines.
As a Practioners of Noble Truths , you don’t have to make a big deal of being a Practioner of Noble Truths . Feel free to keep a low profile in the broader community if it’s easier for you. Keeping a little bronze Awakened One’s statue on your desk at work isn’t going to win you any special points. Were he alive today, the Awakened One wouldn’t care whether you denied his Practice of Noble Truths to the world, or had an image of him tattooed on your forehead. As a Practioner of Noble Truths , you can even participate in other religions. Allow us to illustrate with a story (Practice of Noble Truths is big on stories):
A Practioner of Noble Truths master was once asked by a student, “Have you ever read the Bible?
“No,” said the master. “Why don’t you read it to me?”
“‘Do not worry about tomorrow,’” read the student, “‘for tomorrow shall worry about itself.’”
“That man was awakened who said that,” commented the master.
The student read further: “‘Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and to him that knocks, it shall be opened.’”
“That’s great stuff!” exclaimed the master. “The writer of those words is very close to Buddhahood.”
Discovering Practice of Noble Truths isn’t the beginning of your search for wisdom, and taking refuge in the Awakened One won’t be the end. Follow the guidance of your priest (if you have one), keep on reading, and build a spiritual routine that feels right for you. This might include going to the local temple, performing acts of charity, going on retreat, meditation, contemplating the sacred texts, and perhaps even becoming a novice monk. Go in peace, and above all, keep your sense of humor, cause you’re gonna need it. Some Buddhism humor to leave with:
What did the Practioners of Noble Truths True Follower of the path shown by The Awakened One say to the hotdog vendor? “Make me one with everything.”
When the True Follower of the path shown by The Awakened One asked for his change, the vendor replied, “Change comes from within.”
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And the grass grows all by itself
The Nichiren Buddhist International Center,
29490 Mission Blvd.
Hayward, CA 94544
Telephone: 510-690-1222 ,
Indo-Japan Buddhist Cultural Society
221007-Sarnath, Varanasi, U.P.
Rev. Kenjo Sunaoshi
Rev. Kangyo Noda
Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas
Nichiren Shu Buddhism
Last Update : 16 July 2007
|At left is a Japanese kanji calligraphic representation of our mantra. In English it is written “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo‘’. This is the title of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha’s highest teaching. We chant this mantra, as well as portions of the Lotus Sutra, in our daily practice. We study the Lotus Sutra, the writings of our founder Nichiren Shonin, and other basics of Buddhist practice. We hold regularly scheduled meetings to learn about and discuss Buddhist philosophy and practice. Anyone interested is always welcome to join us!
NEWS LETTER (pdf)
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C.M. reviews law and order situation of U.P.
Lucknow : August 17, 2007 The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Km. Mayawati, while reviewing the law and order of the State at the Tilka Hall (Vidhan Sabha) here today, said that the F.I.R.s would be lodged at the S.P. offices if the police station fails to register it. She said that after reviewing the situation stern action would be initiated against the concerning S.H.O. for not registering the F.I.R. This order would come into force from today, she pointed out. She directed the senior officers to fill the vacancies of S.I.s by launching a special recruitment drive. Warning the officers to control the killings, she said that the culprits should be arrested immediately. Ordering cancellation of large number of arms licences issued by the previous government after reviewing them, she said that they also played a role in damaging the law and order of the State. She directed the officers to respect the peoples’ representatives and take immediate action on their complaints and suggestions. Surprise inspections would be conducted by her to know the ground reality of the law and order, she warned. This was the first law and order review meeting held by the C.M. after taking over the reins of the State. Elaborating upon her priorities, the C.M. said that an atmosphere sans injustice, crime and fear, which is conducive for development, should be created by streamlining the law and order of the State. She said that it was the top priority of the Government to establish rule of law by the law in the State. The police administration has succeeded in keeping up the promise made by the State Government to the people up to some extent. Notable decline was registered in the crime graph of the State because of the courage shown by the police officers. She appreciated their efforts and asked them to keep it up. Km. Mayawati said that several directives and G.O.s had been issued from time to time to improve the law and order of the State. These should be strictly followed, she pointed out adding that the law and order would be reviewed every month. The police officers should remain present at their respective offices between 10 a.m. and 12 noon to listen to the complaints of the people. Surprise inspections would be conducted to take stock of the situation, she warned. If, any officer was found absent from his office during the office timings then stringent action would be initiated against them. The officers should compulsorily be present at the < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />thana diwas, she said. Quick action should be taken on the complaints, she added. If the number of F.I.R.s increases then there was no need to worry, the C.M. stated. Giving the S.P.s the confidence that they would not be transferred on anyone’s advice, she asked them to perform their duties without fear and with total honesty. Those who do good work would be given good posting, she said adding that those showing laxity and indifference in their approach would be transferred and action would also be initiated against them. The Chief Minister said that those, who had been harassed during the previous regime, can lodge their F.I.R.s by August 22 only. She said that if someone lodged a fake F.I.R. then action would be initiated against the guilty and if the F.I.R. was correct then action would be initiated against the erring police officers. She said that registration of fake F.I.R.s tarnished the image of the State Government. Km. Mayawati said that law and order situation of the State had become from bad to worse during last few years and police officers had to work hard to improve it. She hoped that police officers would do their best efforts for making the State crime free. We had promised to establish the rule of law in the State before coming into the power. We had assured the people that whoever was the criminal would be dealt with sternly, she said adding that we had moved in this direction with full honesty and transparency. Strong action was being taken against the criminals rising above from caste and religion. Our police had killed the dreaded dacoit Dadua, who had become the symbol of terror in the two States. Those police personnel would be honoured on August 22, 2007 on the occasion of government’s completion of 100 days. She said that people should become aware regarding the steps taken by the government for improving the law and order situation during the last three months. Km. Mayawati directed for preventing the incidents of murders and said that most of these murders took place due to the personal enmity. SHOs should ensure necessary action immediately in these cases in their respective areas. She said that notorious and professional criminals should be immediately arrested, if they were found engaged in these incidents. Immediate action should be taken in the incidents of violence and cruelty against women. There should be no harassment on any section of society, especially on SC and ST because if the incidents of cruelty, harassment or exploitation occur on them then the image of the government got affected. She warned the police officers that the SC and ST Act should not be misused. The Chief Minister said that the Government has implemented the reservation system in all police stations and the postings of scheduled caste SHOs should not be a mere formality, but their postings should be in the big police stations of city and rural areas. She said that naxal activities in Mirzapur, Chandauli and Sonebhadra districts should be prevented by knowing its root causes. Earlier, reviewing the law and order situation, Cabinet Secretary Mr. Shashank Shekhar Singh, Chief Secretary Mr. P.K. Mishra, Principal Secretary Home Mr. J.N. Chamber and DGP Mr. Vikram Singh directed the police officers for improving it more. They also spoke about the priorities and expectations of the Chief Minister. The Cabinet Secretary said that unless there was any serious complaint SP would not be transferred. The police officers should discharge their duties with enthusiasm without any fear and give better results. The evaluation of officers would be done on the basis of action taken by them in the registered crimes not on the basis of data. The police officers giving better results would be encouraged, he added. The Principal Secretaries to C.M. Mr. V.K. Sharma, Shailesh Krishna, Kunwar Fateh Bahadur, Secretary Mr. Vijay Singh, Secretary Home Mr. Vijay Gupta and Mrs. Renuka Kumar, SSPs and senior officials of police department were present on the occasion. *******
C.M. greets people on the eve of Independence Day
Lucknow : August 14, 2007 The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Km. Mayawati has greeted the people of the State on the 60th anniversary of the Independence Day. In a greetings message, she said that on the Independence Day we should pledge to translate the dreams of our martyrs into reality. We should pay homage to all the known and unknown martyrs who laid down their lives to achieve Independence, she pointed out. Besides, this day also reminded us about the ideals of our great men and the struggle they waged to achieve our freedom, the C.M. added. Mayawati said that there was a need of making concerted efforts for the uplift of deprived section of the society as people of this segment had been exploited for ages and they were still being exploited even after the 60 years of our Independence. We should make efforts to establish a society based on equality, which could bring about social change and give a new direction to the society. Our belief in ’sarvjan hitaya, sarvjan sukhaya’ had given a new dimension to the entire political atmosphere. To achieve it everyone’s cooperation was required, the C.M. emphasised. ******
Chairman status accorded to Dayaram Pal, Vinay Shakya and Mathura Prasad Pal
Lucknow : August 13, 2007 The Uttar Pradesh Government has nominated Mr. Dayaram Pal as the Chairman of Management Committee of Remote Sensing Centre, Lucknow. Likewise, Mr. Vinay Shakya, Vidhuna (district Auraiyya) has been nominated the Chairman of Lal Bahadur Shastri Ganna Sansthan, Lucknow. Mr. Mathura Prasad Pal, resident of Geeta Nagar, Kanpur has been nominated as the Chairman of U.P. Irrigation Development and Flood Control Commission. All the three chairmen have been given the status of Minister of State. ******
–BABU KANSHI RAM JI–
INSTEAD OF BEING RULED LET US BE RULERS
Kanshi Ram Tells Original Inhabitants of The Great Prabuddha Bharath
SPECIAL SPEACH DELIVERD BY MR. KANSHI RAM Ji
AT 1ST WORLD ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH CONFERENCE IN MALAYSIA ON 10TH & 11TH OCTOBER,1998
ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH should become rulers instead of being ruled. We must not be always at the receiving end, instead become the givers, ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH Leader Mr. Kanshi Ram told the world ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH It’s long we have been ruled. It is long we have been taking. Now it is time we change the destiny to rule and give, he said. Mr. Kanshi Ram who is the Founder Prisident of Bahujan Samaj Party delivered a key-note address at the opening of the 1st World ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH Convention ‘A new vision towards a casteless society’ at the Kuala Lampur Mines Resort City.
The two day convention held on 10th and 11th October 1998 was well attended by more than 700 delegates throughout the world including famous politicians noted leaders from dalit movement, champions of down-trodden, social reformers, renowned economists, famous educationists and great scholars.
The Malaysian Manister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sabbaruddin Chik officialy opened the conference which saw the opening very colourful with Malaysian cultural and traditional dances performed by Indians, Malays and Chinese.Mr. Kanshi Ram garlanded the Portrait of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar while ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH Sena President Ram Vilas Paswan garlanded the portrait of the great Periar.
Mr. Kanshi Ram in his speech continued to trace the history of caste and Braminical social order. He asserted by virtue of his vast experience that elimination of caste was impossible at this stage. He also elaborated the very purpose of creating caste.In context of caste oppression and justice Mr. Kanshi Ram refered the role of Dr. Ambedkar. He commended the merit of ‘Communial Award’ which he achieved after a long struggle.
Dr. Ambedkar could not sustain the going due to the constant pressure of the mighty upper caste Hindus, Mr. Kanshi Ram told the delegates who packed the hall.’Babasaheb Ambedkar was able to get reservation for the oppressed in legislative houses, job opportunities in government departments and also places in higher educational insitutions.
I wish to stress upon that reservation is not the soultion to oour problem. We must become rulers instead of being ruled, givers instead of being takers, Mr. Kanshi Ram told the crowd to a thunderous applause.It is my duty to prepare my people not to get reservation but to grant reservation. Who can granreservation? Only rulers can grant reservation. Hence, I will prepare my people to become rulers.If we do not become rulers, our problems will remain forever, Kanshi Ram said.
In order to become rulers we must learn how to handle caste. Dr. Ambedkar, Nehru, Gandhi and Indra Gandhi were experts in handling caste. Nehru handled caste so well that he made Dr. Ambedkar helpless and retain the Brahminical Social Order. Indra Gandhi also handled caste well to benefit the Brahminical Social Order.Dr. Ambedkar prepared the SC/ST to handle Caste. That is how we could get many benefits from the British, he added.
Mr. Kanshi Ram expressed concern for 10 crores slum dwellers who are deprived of proper drinking water and electric supply.People migrating from villages to cities are also being denied of many facilities and end up in polluting the enviornment.But those refugees who came from Pakistan after independence were duly taken care of by the then government and a special budget was allocated to meet their basic necessities, he pointed out to the delegates.
According to Mr.Kanshi Ram ,slum dewellers presently living in urban areas are the Dalit refugees who have migrated from the villages because of acrimonys & atrocities committed by upper case Hindus.They have not been able to influence the Planning Commission and the Government of India to allocate separate budget to provide them bread, clothes and shelter.
A decent life is a matter of fundamental right of every citizen in accordance with the constitutional mandate, Mr. Kanshi Ram asserted.He advocated separate settlement for dalit people as once formulated by Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar.He was very critical of the evil impact of caste-system in India.
Wherever the Indians went they never failed to carry with them this spreading disease he told the lauging and cheering crowd.The Indians are prepared to leave anythign behind. They leave behind their little property, small land and their huts.But they will never leave behind their caste. They carry with them wherever they go, he said.While urgimg the dalits to unite he also called upon the Dalit intellectuals to shed away the approach of existing analysis only.
They should instead come with forward-looking approach in education, economic and social problems.They must also come up with some sort of effective solution programme, Mr. Kanshi Ram added.Mr. Kanshi Ram impressed upon the delegates that Dalit problem can only be solved through political power to rule the country.‘We must become the rulers instead of being ruled,’he told the cheering and applauding delegates.
Courtesy: Mr.M.G.Pandithan, New Vision. (First World Dalit Conference )
First six pictures (Left side) & Last three pictures (Right side) received from Mr. C. L. Chumber
and Mr. Sonu Ambedkar (Kewal Krishan Saroya). www.ambedkartimes.com thamks to both.
MAYAWATI AND THE SECOND SOCIO-CULTURAL
REVOLUTION IN UTTAR PARDESH
RONKI RAM (DR.)
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PANJAB UNIVERSITY CHANDIGARH (INDIA)
Mayawati, the BSP supremo, sworn in as 40th Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on May 13, 2007. This is the second socio-cultural revolution in the history of Uttar Pradesh where during the medieval Bhakti movement Guru Ravi Dass, an untouchable poet-saint of very high repute, convinced the Brahmins that it was not caste but ones deeds which are important. Brahmins and Rajput Kings prostrated before him and Ranis and Maharanis of the then rulers and the rulers themselves became his followers. It seems that history was repeating itself when Brahmins and Thakurs among others were touching the feet of BSP supremo Mayawati during the swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet at Lucknow. Once again Mayawati has proved that hollow prestige based on birth when put on trial in the democratic court of social justice failed to stand any more. But proving that is much easier said than done.
Guru Ravi Dass fought a relentless battle against his tormentors who were adopting all fair and foul tactics to prevent him from entering into the mainstream of the social space. He unleashed a frontal attack on the long tradition of social oppression and untouchability. He took the battle right into the capital of the Brahmanical Social Order (BSO) and lay bare its fraudulent social structure. He employed Bhakti (loving devotion) as a method of protest against social exclusion. In his Bhakti he laid emphasis on compassion for all and absolute faith in God. His method was very daring and noble. He choose to challenge his tormentors by adopting the iconography of their dress code as a symbol of revolt which was not only highly objectionable but was equally deadly for a Shudra of his times. He rejected all forms of religious rituals and sectarian formalities. He challenged the tyranny of Brahmins and defied them by wearing Dhoti (cloth wrapped around the waist), Janeue (sacred thread) and Tilak (sacred red mark on forehead) that were forbidden for the untouchables. Though he attired himself like an upper caste, he did not hide his caste. He continued with his hereditary occupation of making/mending shoes. While adopting the prohibited dress and symbols of the upper castes, and at the same time sticking to his hereditary occupation he, probably, tried to show how lower castes could achieve their human rights without compromising with their separate ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH identity. His Bhakti method of social protest reflected the democratic and egalitarian traits of his social philosophy. When challenged in their own estate and even in their own fiefdom of Bhakti, Brahmins had no option but to participate in a debate on the shastras thrown open by the Kashi Naresh (King). As Chandrabhan Prasad argues, “Ravidas’s genius found no match. The pandits turned pale, bending before the saint in recognition of his greatness. The saint rode the royal chariot through the lanes of Kashi, the King standing by his side. That was the Dalits’ first war of independence. Kashi was secured. The cow belt Brahmins never recovered from the shock, and were forced to reconcile to the Dalits’ cerebral superiority”.
History was repeated on May 13, 2007. The place was Lucknow, the current capital of power in UP. And the star of the battle was Mayawati. To be more precise this time the battle was not around the shastras but about the numbers in the game of electoral politics. To win in such a fierce modern battle is to prove ones metal. And more so when you have been fighting while sharing the chariot with the ones who were very recently sitting in your opposite camp. Mayawati did very well. She proved her metal and turned victorious. She has reinforced the ‘cerebral superiority’ of the ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH once again. It is in this context that her grand success in the recently concluded assembly election in Uttar Pradesh can be considered as the second socio-cultural revolution in the heartland of the varnashram order. Mayawati has provided a single-party government after more than 16 years breaking the whirlpool of coalition politics in UP. In fact, Mayawati put an end to coalition politics and ushered into an era of “ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH -Brahmin-Muslim-Thakur-Vaishya-Bhumihar-OBCs” sarvjan combined rule. This new form of “combined rule of sarvjan” under the leadership of the ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH is certainly an advancement not only over the tight rope walk of the coalition system that India has been experiencing for the last many years, but also a new beginning of the coming of the marginalized into the center stage of power politics.
Mayawati’s ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF THE GREAT PRABUDDHA BHARATH -Brahmin thesis and her emphasis on “sarv samaj” coupled with the social engineering formula would facilitate in laying down parameters for the mitigation of the gap between what Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar said “political equality and social and economic inequality” in India. In other words, this new system of ‘sarvjan combined rule’ would certainly help in deepening of the roots of democracy in India and inculcating positive feelings among the downtrodden that they too matter in this land where they were for centuries kept socially excluded, politically marginalized and economically deprived. Now they feel encouraged to come forward not to plead or ask for favors because they were neglected but because they are able to provide leadership to safely steer the ship to its destination. It was vividly clear from the oath taking ceremony dais where Smt. Mayawati was occupying the front seat followed by Pandit S.C. Mishra, general secretary of BSP. Is it not really a revolution in Brahmin dominated social set-up in India where they have agreed to not only sit behind Dalits but also to touch their feet? Imagine this even a few years before! Mayawati is absolutely right when she said that behind her great victory lays the philosophy of Phule, Naryana Guru, Periyar, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, and Babu Kanshi Ram. In fact, it is she who tried to put this philosophy into action and translated it into reality.
Whether the Savarnas were falling at the feet of Mayawati out of gratitude or of political expediency is not the point. The real point is that by putting the Brahmins and Thakurs in line and commanding respect, Mayawati has been able to evaporate the Laxman Rekha of Varnashramdharma. She has set the ball of self-respect and dignity of the so-called Avarnas rolling. She has brought the Savarnas and Avarnas on a single platform, of course, led by her. What is even more important is that she achieved all this through democratic way without firing a single shot. And people of all sorts (read castes) stood by her in her battle against social repression and jungle rule. In fact, this is not in any case less than a social revolution. This revolution needs to be replicated in other parts of the country too, if India really wants to shine as a world power in near future. If India wants to march ahead, social exclusion has to be ended first. Untouchability is not a problem of the Shudras only; it is a number one problem of the entire Indian society. It needs to be tackle immediately. Baba Sahib Dr. B.R. Ambedkar sounded a grave warning on November 25, 1949 in the Constituent Assembly on the completion of the Draft Constitution: “On the 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality… We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so labouriously built up”. Mayawati has fired the first shot. The struggle has to continue.
Posted on May 15th, 2007
BSP Supremo Mayawati sworn in as 40th Chief Minister
of the state Uttar Pardesh
CHIEF MINISTER OF UTTAR PARDESH
On May 13, 2007 BSP supremo Mayawati sworn in as 40th Chief Minister of the State (UP) that is going to play a decisive role in the forth coming presidential election. She has privided a single-party government after more than 16 years breaking the whirlpool of coalition politics in UP. In fact, Mayawati put an end to coalition politics and ushered into an era of “Dalit-Brahmin-Muslim-Thakur-Vaishya-Bhumihar-OBCs” sarvjan combined rule. This new form of “combined rule of sarvjan” under the leadership of the Dalits is cetrtainly an advancement not only over the tight rope walk of the coalition system India has been experencing for the last many years, but also a new begining of the coming of the marginalized into the centre stage of power politics. Mayawati’s Dalit-Brahmin thesis and her emphasis on “sarv samaj” combined with the social engineering formula would facilate in layingdown parameters for the mitigation of gap between what Baba Sahib Dr. Ambedkar said “political equality and social and economic inequality” in India. In other words, this new system of combined rule would certainly help in deepening of the roots of democracy in India and inculcatinig positive feelings among the downtrodden that they too matter in this land where they were for centuries kept socially excluded, politically marginalized and economically deprived. Now they feel incouraged to come forward not to plead or ask for favours because they were neglected but because they are able to provide leadership to safely steer the ship to its destination. It was vivdly clear from the oath taking ceremony dias where Smt. Mayawati was occupaying the front seat followed by Pandit S.C.Mishra, general secretary of BSP. Is it not really a revolution in Brahmin dominated social set-up in India where they have agreed to not only sit behind Dalits but also to touch their feet! Imagine this even a few years before! Here Mayawati is absolutely right when she said that behind all this the philosophy of Phule, Naryana Guru, Periyar, Dr. Ambedkar, and Babu Kanshi Ram has been playing the determinant role. And it is she who has put it into action and translated it into reality.
In her 49-member Ministry 19 Ministers are of cabinet rank, 21 ministers of state (independent charge)and 9 ministers of state. The caste composition of her cabinet is: three Brahmins, one Muslim, one Thakur, one Bhumihar, one Vaishya, four Scheduled Casdtes and eighy OBCs.Cabinet ministers are: Naseeruddin Siddiqui, Ramveer Upadhyaya, Inderajit Saroj, Lalji Verma, Thakur Jaiveer Singh, Sukhdev Rajbhar, Swami Prasad Maurya, Ved Ram Bhati, Laxmi Narain, Rakesh Dhar Tripathi, Babu Singh Kushwaha, Jai Narain Rai, Phagu Chauhan, Nakul Dubey, Daddoo Prasad, Narain Singh, Sudhir Goel, Ram Prasad Chaudhary and Dharam Singh Saini.
We all wish her success in her endeavours,
Ronki Ram (Dr.)
Panjab University, Chandigarh (India), Cell:+91 987 286 1290
Poted on May 13, 2007
RESURGENCE OF ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF PRABUDDHA BHARATH:
DELHI IS NOT FAR
The victory of the BSP in UP has shown the way to power to those who were being denied for centuries. Power game has its own grammer. It seems the followers of Babu Kanshi Ram are now not too late to master it. BSP supremo, Mayawati has proved it. She has meticulously worked out the dynamics of number game. She has not only convinced her own people that united they win and divided they loose, but has also established her credentials among the dwijas who uptill very recently were opposed tooth and nail to the coming of Dalits in to the public sphere. What is even more important is that the people of UP are convinced that if any political party can provide them relief from the mounting atrocities of the erswhile establishment it is the BSP under the strong leadership of the Madam Mayawati. They reposed confidence in her leadership and brought her into power to bring rule of law as well as justice in the beleaguered state of UP. Many are keeping the fingers crossed as to how Madam Mayawati would be able to make a balance between the Dalit emancipatory agenda of the BSP and the political expedency of her power politics. It seems, given her acumen and dexterity in politics, she would be able to tell the world that Dalits are now come of age and that Delhi is not too far from them.Once again Congrats to all of you.
Ronki Ram (Dr.),
Dept. of Political Science,Panjab University, Chandigarh, India Cell: +91 987 286 1290.
Posted on May 11th, 2007
BAHUJAN SAMAJ PARTY IN UP
This is the greatest achievement. I would like to thank everybody for this victory in UP. I absolutely agree with V T Rajshekar, well said and want to add that all dalits from all states of India should drop the divisions of dalits and come to a main dalit party (i.e. BSP) especially in Maharastra and some other states where many dalit factions and parties exist. We should unite and learn lessons from the election result from UP. Let’s forget our differences and join hand with BSP and integrate all dalits of India. Also please check out my web page (http://www.satyaguru.org) when you get a chance.
Vivek Nirala (http://www.satyaguru.org)
Posted on May 12, 2007=====================================================
ALL THE BEST Ms. MAYAWATI & HER CABINET
Clearly new social engineering of “serve jan” , in which new dalit -Brahamn alliance,has a foothold in the political arena, eeds to be tested if this is a merely a political phenomenon. Certainy ms. mayawati’s gamble has payed her hefty divdidend.
History has told us that Brahamans are a cunning bunch, they use needle to take another needle and one that is done, they throw both nedle outside don’t bring them in the house.
I wish ms. mayawati and her Cabinet all the best and hope that law and order must be their first agenda, because public has voted on this very iissue and gave BSP a thumping mandate by giving BSP an absolute majory.
All political pundits except CBP were prooven wrong..
On dalit issue if the cabinet can focus on Eduction and economic empowerment ,that will be like a fresh breeze on a hot summer day like these days.
Well done BSP, your social engineerng was a bold one in an unchartered territory and proven wrong skeptic like me.
Finally we can now boldly say that we do have a spokesman for dalits , with a powerful voicein Ms. Mayawati.
Posted on May 12, 2007
GREAT VICTORY OF BAHUJAN SAMAJ PARTY
Our heartiest congratulations to Madam Mayawati Ji, the President of Bahujan Samaj Party & her entire party members on their great victory in Uttar Pardesh Assembly Election 2007. This victory of BSP is a great victory of Bahujan Samaj of < ?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 />India.The credit for the success goes to Mayawati & her entire team, voters & supporters.www.ambedkartimes.com forum once again puts on record its heartiest congratulations & wishes great success to the BSP Government in its various programme in the state of Uttar Pardesh as well as in the whole country.
Re-Posted at 2035 on May 11th, 2007
Many-many congratulations to Behan Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj party for becoming victorious in the state Uttar Pradesh Assembly election 2007. We also congratulate her on becoming the 4th time Chief Minister of the State Uttar Pradesh.We wish her great success & her BSP Government in its various programmes in the state of Uttar Pardesh as well as in the whole country.
MOHAN GILLAMBEDKARITE, YUBA CITY, CALIFORNIA (USA)
NARANDIR SINGH HIRA
NARENDER KAUR PANJABISACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (USA)
SANGAMNER (MAHARASHTRA) INDIA
JOURNALIST, JALANDHAR CITY, (PANJAB) INDIA
K. K. CHUMBER
SUDARSHAN PARK,NEW DEHLI (INDIA)
CHAMAN LAL MAHEY
VILL. DHANAL KHURD P.O. PHOOL PUR, DISTT. JALANDHAR (PANJAB) INDIA
JAGDISH KUMAR (TALWAN )
PRESIDENT, SHRI GURU RAVDASS DARBAR, BERGAMO (ITALY)
VINOD KUMAR CHUMBER
PRESIDENT, SHRI GURU RAVIDASS SABHA BAY AREA ( CALIFORNIA )
PRESIDENT, SHRI GURU RAVIDASS SABHA SELMA, CALIFORNIA (USA)
PRESIDENT, SHRI GURU RAVIDASS SABHA FRESNO (c.v) CALIFORNIA (USA)
AJIT RAM BANGAR (Chairman),TAWINDER KAZLA (Vice Chaiman), KEWAL BOLINA (President), KARNAIL VIRK (Vice President), AMAR BAIDVAN (Gen. Secretary), HANS RAJ KAJLA (Assistant Secretary), RAKESH CHANDER (Office Secretary), DHAYAN SINGH , (Cashier), DALJIT JASSAL (Assistant Cashier)
SHRI GURU RAVIDASS SABHA SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA (USA)
CHAIRMAN, SHRI GURDASS RAM BHUTTA YADGARI CHERITABLE TRUST, GARHPADHANA NAWANSHAHR, PANJAB (INDIA)
Heartily Congratulations to Sister Mayawati Ji.!!!
It is unique and uncommon victory in Indian political democracy. It means “the dream of Baba Sahib Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s comes true”. If the majority of the Dalit had followed footsteps of Baba Sahib, then we would have ruled on this country. I hope you will help the down trodden people and help their change and their destiny. Once again many congratulations & BSP’s workers, voters, supporters, & also out of party, BSP’s well wishers.
Prem Lal Sondhi
President of Valmik Shaba USA, Yuba City, California (USA)
Many Congratulations to Bahujan Samaj on the spectacular victory of Bahujan Samaj Party in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections led by Bahen Mayawati. This is the biggest victory of Ambedkar movement. Thanks to all UP people for voting to BSP. This victory will lead Bahen Mayawati’s Elephant, road to Delhi one day and fulfill the dream of Late Babu Kanshi Ram Ji.
Kamal Dev Paul
President, International Bahujan Organization (California)
Assistant Secretary, International Bahujan Organization (California)
When M.N. Roy asked Gandhi to send a message for his
weekly magazine Independent India, Gandhi responded with the advice:
“Render mute service.” Was this a signal to Roy not to write anything
critical of Gandhi or Gandhism?
In the analysis of India’s freedom struggle, and the
role of Mahatma Gandhi in that political journey, how do political
strategists and thinkers—past and present—judge the Mahatma as an
exemplar of democracy? M.N. Roy stands tall among the ideologues and
activists of the struggle as one who engaged with the questions that
Gandhi’s political actions in pursuit of his vision of independence
evoked. Roy’s own views continue to generate debate.
Some political scientists find fault with M.N. Roy’s
recorded insights and opinions on the times and the leader. Others have
defended his objectivity in suggesting that even a ‘Mahatma’ could make
mistakes—and did make mistakes. Some have questioned Roy’s own role
during those heady years. One contention is that both the views and the
record of this patriot call for clearer understanding. For this, it is
useful to revisit what M.N. Roy said, and what has been said about him.
Gandhi faced two defeats at the All India Congress
Committee in a short span of time. At the AICC’s Ahmedabad session, he
lost to the Swarajists on the issue of Council entry. The second defeat
came when a much younger man, Subhash Chandra Bose, defeated Gandhi’s
nominee for the Congress presidentship. Roy wrote of the Council issue
incident in an article— ‘Mr Gandhi’s swan song’—dealing with how Pandit
Motilal Nehru and Deshbandhu C. R. Das succeeded in setting aside
Gandhi’s call for compulsory spinning and boycott of law courts,
legislative councils, government schools, titles and mill-made cloth.
When the Swarajists opposed Gandhi’s proposals at the
Ahmedabad session, it was the first time that Gandhi’s word had been
questioned on an issue of national importance. It was in his province
and seat of authority that the gauntlet was thrown at Gandhi himself,
as he had declared that if his programme was rejected he would retire
from politics and devote himself to social reform. He said he would
submit a resolution calling for all AICC members to spin for
half-an-hour a day, and to observe the five-fold boycott—or to resign
from AICC membership. This resolution, if carried, would have
automatically excluded the Swarajists from power, and restored the
leadership of the orthodox non-cooperators. The AICC continued its
deliberations for three days. Gandhi submitted his famous self-denying
ordinance despite the heat of opposition by the Swarajists and even
some of his own followers, who had sought to reach a compromise with
the Swarajists beforehand.
It was a dramatic moment: Mahatma Gandhi, the idol of
the Indian people, defied by the opposition within Congress ranks. It
fell to Pandit Motial Nehru to state the case for the Swarajists. “We
decline to make a fetish of the spinning wheel or to subscribe to the
doctrine that only through that wheel can we obtain ‘swaraj,’ ” he
said. “Discipline is desirable, but it is not discipline for the
majority to expel the minority. We are unable to forget our manhood and
our self-respect and to say that we are willing to submit to Gandhi’s
orders. The Congress is as much ourselves’ as our opponents’, and we
will return with greater majority to sweep away those who stand for
this resolution.” With these words, Pandit Motilal and Deshbandhu left
the hall, taking with them 55 Swarajists. When the resolution was put
to the vote with 110 remaining, it was carried, against 37, and with
This apparent victory of Gandhians was merely
make-believe; had the Swarajists remained in the hall, the resolution
would have been defeated by about 20 votes. However, Gandhi recognised
his defeat, and held hurried consultations with his followers, and
afterwards agreed to drop his resolution on compulsory spinning and the
boycott, making it only advisory in nature. With this, and other
concessions, the Swarajists were persuaded to rejoin the Congress. Thus
the defeat of orthodox Gandhism was complete and final. The Swarajists
had won the day, and Gandhi as the leader of the Indian National
Congress had sung his swan song.
For the Congress presidential election, Gandhi’s
nominee was Dr Pattabhi Sitaramayya. He was to lose to Subhash Chandra
Bose. Gandhi and his disciples brought a charge of indiscipline against
Bose. One fails to understand what act of indiscipline Bose had
committed, except that he contested the poll against Gandhi’s
candidate. Immediately after the election, Gandhi’s tormented soul did
make him acknowledge “Pattabhi’s defeat is my defeat.” Afterwards,
Gandhi saw to it that Bose did not function effectively as the Congress
President, and Bose was forced to resign. Gandhi himself drafted the
resolution banning Bose from holding any executive office in the
Congress for three years. He, however, claimed that he loved Subhash as
a son, but his love which was as soft as a rose could also be harder
than flint. But for the immoral political practice Gandhi and his
followers adopted in throwing out Bose from the Congress, things might
have been different, in that Gandhi might not have remained the
absolute leader for a long time.
IN his paper on ‘Marxian Theory and Indian Politics’,
Professor Sudipto Kaviraj writes that Roy’s prediction of a premature
obituary of Gandhi’s leadership of the Indian National Congress went
wrong. I have always felt it is dangerous to contradict political
scientists when they make such statements, without oneself investing in
research. This is particularly so when the view relates to Gandhi and
Roy, and appears to start with the assumption that Gandhi could never
make any mistake, and that Roy could never be correct in his criticism
of Gandhi and Gandhism. It is very difficult to dismiss Roy on rational
grounds. It would only be possible to do so through an unscientific
approach, and through practices which have sought to wipe out M.N.
Roy’s name from history.
Prof Kaviraj holds that Roy’s article on the swan song
was actually written by his wife, Evelyn Roy. This is not true. The
article is contained in the Documents of the History of the Communist
Party of India (Adhikari Volume No. 2), and it is clearly stated that
it was written by Roy himself.
While querying M.N. Roy’s comments on the Ahmedabad
incidents, Prof Kaviraj does not refer to other political events where
Roy’s predictions were correct. When Roy addressed the Radical
Democratic Party in December 1972, hardly any Indian thought Hitler’s
Axis powers would be defeated, and that the British would be left with
no option but to leave the colonies after the war. “The right to
self-determination has been promised to India, with the greater
assertion of British democracy on the situation. There is no reason to
believe that the right will be withheld by any external agency or
political formation after the post-war period.” Roy exhorted his
colleagues to prepare for the economic and political reconstruction of
independent India. He brought out two documents: ‘People’s plan for
reconstruction of independent India’, and ‘A draft Constitution for
free India’. Then he predicted that in spite of the pact between Hitler
and Soviet Russia, the latter would be drawn into the war. Most
historians across the world now accept that but for Stalin joining the
Allies, Hitler might not have been defeated.
Roy’s most important prediction was that the
parliamentary form of democracy would breed corruption. His lecture to
the University Institute in Calcutta on February 5, 1950 warned of
this. “The future of Indian democracy is not very bright, and that is
not due to the evil intentions on the part of politicians, but rather
the system of party politics. Perhaps in another 10 years, demagogy
will vitiate political practice. The scramble for power will continue,
breeding corruption and inefficiency. People engaged in politics cannot
take a long view. Laying foundations is a long process for them; they
want a short-cut. The short-cut to power is always to make greater
promises than others, to promise things without the competence or even
the intention to implement them.” This is perhaps the reason why there
was not even a polite reference to Gandhi’s political ideas of
decentralisation and village republics in the Constituent Assembly,
when the Constitution was first being framed. This was in spite of the
fact that there were a large number of Gandhian members in the
Constituent Assembly. Referring to this, Roy said the future of
democracy in our country would depend on people who were either outside
politics, or who had the courage and vision to step out of the indecent
scramble for power.
In another lecture on January 30, 1947, also at
Calcutta, Roy had said: “When political power is concentrated in the
hands of a small community, you may have a façade of parliamentary
democracy, but for all political purposes it will be a dictatorship,
even if it may be paternal and benevolent.”
To make democracy effective power must always remain
invested in the people—not periodically, but from day to day. Atomised
individuals are powerless for all practical purposes. Roy advanced the
idea of a new social order based on direct participation of the people
through people’s committees and gram sabhas. Its culture would be based
on universal dissemination of knowledge and have minimum control and
maximum scope for scientific and creative activities. Being founded on
reason and science, the new society will necessarily be planned. But it
will be planning with the freedom of the individual as its crux. The
new society will be democratic, political, economic, as well as
cultural. These ideas remind one of Gandhi’s ideas.
It is therefore important for political scientists to
do a little research to find out why even Gandhians did not make any
reference to them, and why our leaders to whom power was handed over by
the British decided to go on the beaten track of a parliamentary form
of government. Why was it that Gandhi was totally ignored by his
PROFESSOR BHIKU PARIKH has written three books on
Gandhi. The most important of these is on colonialisation and reform,
analysing Gandhi’s political discourse. In the context of Gandhi, this
should include important political events which shaped the destiny of
the country. Prof Parikh does not take these into account and analyse
them. He does not refer to the Subhash Chandra Bose incident, or to
Gandhi’s ban resolution against Bose. What would have been the position
of the Congress if Bose had been allowed to form the Working Committee
and function as the President? Prof Parikh does not refer to the
Swarajists’ defiance at the Ahmedabad AICC session. He does not analyse
a number of other incidents of national importance.
Among these is the Cripps offer during World War II.
This was acceptable to people like Aurobindo Ghosh and M.N Roy. Why did
the Congress and its supermen reject it? Perhaps Prof Parikh’s analysis
would lead one to conclude that if the Cripps offer had been accepted,
India would not have been partitioned, and the post-partition holocaust
view would have been avoided. What of negotiations with Mohammad Ali
Jinnah? What was it in Jinnah’s demands that the Congress found
difficult to accept? How would independent India have suffered if these
had been accepted? If they had been accepted, India would not have been
partitioned. I refer to these in the hope that Prof Parikh may deal
with them in a future edition of his popular book.
In one of his books, Prof Parikh expresses surprise
that although Gandhi succeeded in bringing critics like Subhash Bose
and M.N. Roy to his side, he failed to win over Dr B. R. Ambedkar. In
fact, he himself gives the reasons when calling Gandhi a hypocrite in
the context of analysing his movement for eradication of untouchability
and separate electorate. How does Prof Parikh expect a man of
Ambedkar’s stature to follow and support a hypocrite? Insofar as
Subhash Bose and Roy are concerned, Bose never became a supporter of
Roy wrote an editorial in his weekly by way of paying
homage to Gandhi. In this he said that communal harmony is not possible
in the mediaeval atmosphere of religious orthodoxy and fanaticism. With
the view that nationalism is totalitarian and precludes the idea of
individual liberty, he felt it was idle to pledge loyalty to the
Mahatma’s message unless it meant realisation of its contradictions,
and positioning of the moral and humanistic core of its teachings above
the cult of nationalism and power politics. Otherwise, the Mahatma wore
the crown of martyrdom in vain. Prof Parikh does not analyse this
aspect of Gandhi’s assassination. Nor does he refer to the incident
where Gandhi asked Roy not to write anything critical of him or of
Gandhism. Possibly an analysis would indicate that Gandhi was actually
intolerant of criticism.
Prof Parikh does not analyse why Gandhi found it
difficult to democratise the Congress, or why he was opposed to younger
men coming up in the Congress hierarchy. Also missing is an examination
of how Gandhi responded to the political jockeying for power which
followed the 1937 Provincial Assembly elections. There is no evidence
that Gandhi denounced such practices in emerging in national life.
In one incident, the Opposition gave notice of a
no-confidence resolution against the Congress Government. What did the
Congress leaders do? With a view to rescuing the Congress from certain
defeat, they made the Speaker adjourn the Assembly. Dr Rajendra Prasad
was deeply disturbed and wrote to the Chairman of the Congress
Parliamentary Party, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, saying that the
Congress party should not adopt such immoral means to capture power.
Patel replied that these things happened in the parliamentary form of
government. This must have been front-page news in the national Press.
It is inconceivable that Gandhi did not know about it. But we have no
evidence that he intervened in the matter. Could it be that he would
not go against the ‘Sardar?’ I mention this only to refer to the very
difficult task arising from Gandhi’s insistence on morality in politics.
IN the context of Roy’s prophesy, Philip Spratt, a
British Communist leader sent to India by Communist International to
help the communist movement, became Roy’s colleague and friend. In his
foreword to Roy’s book New Orientation, published in 1946, he commented
that he knew of no one who had been “a more consistently correct
prophet than M.N. Roy”. He wrote:
On hardly any major issue have his analyses and predictions been
disproved by events ….
He has always written as a political strategist,
concerned to know what is happening so that he can act appropriately.
It is functional writing, consistent and responsible. That it should
prove to be so unvaryingly right must be almost unique, and is
certainly noteworthy. It is strange therefore that in a country so
given to hero-worship, Roy should not have become a popular idol.
Spratt went on to say:
Not that his merits as a political thinker are entirely
unrecognised. They are admitted even by those who disliked him—people
who would not be found dead with a copy of Independent India, yet like
to know what Roy was thinking about things. It is rather that the truth
hurts, and hurts in particular all those who control public opinion in
Spratt felt that Roy wrote for a limited circle who
understood his style of thought and his background of ideas, and did
not seem concerned about communicating more widely. Spratt argued that
following the Great Depression in the West, people now knew that
poverty and inequality were no longer inevitable, and that trouble lay
ahead of they were not abolished. A remedy for the instability of
capitalism might be the freezing of economic progress; Spratt wrote
that the Nazis, if they had conquered the world, would have preserved
stability by forcibly suppressing discontent. The Gandhian school, he
said, also aimed at stability, and proposed to achieve it by
ideological means, that is, by persuading people not to desire a higher
standard of life. Spratt felt that this could not succeed, and thus in
seeking a way forward in the world revolution under way, Gandhism in
its pure form “must be ruled out as a theoretically possible solution”.
Spratt held that it was clear from “Indian conditions”
that India was part of the world and involved in this revolution. Yet
he felt Roy’s mindfulness of this annoyed “the nationalists, who at
bottom, do not think of India as part of the world, but think India is
unique, that foreign or western ideas do not apply to the country and
presumably, therefore, that it happens to be having a private
revolution of its own”. This, he felt, was the nationalists’ way of
saying that they preferred to confine the revolution to its nationalist
aspect—“whereas Roy says that it is merely a small beginning, hardly
worth calling a revolution at all”. Spratt drew attention to the fact
that Roy had been saying this for more than 20 years. He had pointed
out in 1924 that after the 1914-1918 War, the export of British capital
to India fell, and had dropped to zero by 1923. This and other facts
led Roy to infer that in due course a peaceful transfer of political
power to Indian hands would take place—not through the magic of ‘soul
force’, nor out of the democratic convictions of the British ruling
class, but by virtue of a shift of economic power. And it followed that
as regards the real problems of the revolution, that the transfer of
power would mean nothing. The old order would remain; only the
personnel at the top would change.
Spratt records that Roy came to this view after serious
thought. He discussed it with Lenin, who disagreed, finally decided it
was true and stuck to it when probably nobody else in the world
accepted it. It became an essential part of his diagnosis of India’s
condition, and helped to shape his attitude to all subsequent problems.
In particular, it determined his stance during World War II, when after
Churchill became Prime Minister and Roy saw that the consummation he
had prophesied could take place at any time if the Indian National
Congress adopted a “responsible attitude to the War”. Roy felt that the
Congress opposition to the war was not principled opposition but more
what betting men call ‘hedging’, a provision against the eventuality of
an Axis victory. Roy argued that in view of the unacceptability of
fascism, it was obligatory for a sincere opponent of fascism to support
the Allied side in the war. Roy himself did so. Spratt was to remark:
Now that everything he predicted has taken place, and
the erstwhile incorruptible revolutionaries are cooperating to the
limit, it would be only decent if those who condemned his cooperation
would admit their error. But perhaps that is too much to expect.
In urging rejection of fascism, Spratt still drew
attention to the need to discuss how the fascist argument stood in
contradiction to the three desired conditions—peace, collectivism and
material well-being—posited as a stable outcome of the world
revolution. He pointed to Roy’s assertion that in our time all
nationalism is potential fascism, and fascism’s nationalist character
contradicts the first condition. The Congress was already working for a
fully nationalist policy. “Yet in plain contradiction to all this, it
professes Gandhism, and Mahatma Gandhi is still its active leader”.
Gandhi had only belatedly “ceased explicitly to defend landlordism and
castem” Spratt said.
ROY, highly critical of Gandhism from the start, had
never altered his opinion. He had said many penetrating things about
it. But Spratt noted that Roy’s approach to Gandhism “seems that of an
outsider, an unsympathetic foreigner”. He had failed to make his
criticism intelligible to the Indian reader. “He has never tried to get
under the skin of the Mahatma or his admirers, to see where that
extraordinary power comes from,” Spratt said. Spratt himself admitted
that in his own search for elements in Gandhism which could be used for
democratic and socialistic purposes, he had made the mistake of
overlooking the gulf between the theory and practice of Gandhism. It
was extraordinary, beyond almost any other movement in this respect,
“more often than not achieving the opposite of what it professes”. But
he noted that Roy did not accept this view, considering the dilemma to
be intolerable. Between fascism and communism, the latter was clearly
the better choice, but its success was unlikely. On the basis that any
solution to the world’s problems had to be socialist or collectivist,
Spratt argued for the socialist course, but said it must get away from
the lifeless, uninspiring formalism of the social democrats, and move
in the direction of bringing the rank-and-file voter into “intimate and
permanent contact with the administration”. more or less as the
original Soviets had done in Russia. Roy’s draft Constitution for India
suggested how this could be done. Roy’s proposition rejected the
illiberal doctrines and practices which had caused the Communists to be
so strongly opposed, and called for a really liberal but dynamic
socialism which could appeal confidently all classes except the few
Roy’s draft Constitution implied one addition to the three necessary factors for the desired world solution. This was freedom.
Max Eastman distinguished three impulses behind the
socialist movement: freedom, fraternity and order. Roy pointed out a
fourth: the moral motive, the demand for a better order. This was
conspicuous in all the socialist movements and their thinkers.
Returning to Gandhi and his critics, several questions
remain. Why is it that he did not like to consult people outside his
circle, and even when intellectuals including his friends advised him,
to summarily reject such advice? Gandhi was used to being attacked by
both conservatives and radicals. Both ‘sanatanists’ and Dr Ambedkar
attacked him on untouchability. His systematic campaign against it
deeply alarmed the ‘sanatanists’, who feared his powerful hold over the
Hindu masses. Initially, they tried to convince him that untouchability
was integral to the Hindu religious and social order and denounced him
for subversion. When this failed, they mounted a campaign of leaflets
and articles to impugn his integrity and cast doubts on his private
life. Black flag protests, a bomb attack and an axe attack, and slogans
challenged his all-India anti-untouchability tour in 1934. On his part,
Ambedkar accused Gandhi of propping up the Hindu social order, with
only token concessions to untouchables.
Ambedkar’s ‘What Congress and Gandhi have done to the
untouchables?’ asked: “Do the untouchables regard Mr Gandhi as being in
earnest? The answer is in the negative” He charged Gandhi with
indifference to the anti-untouchability part of the 1921 Bardoli
programme, with practicing satyagraha for everything except against the
Hindus for casteism, with doing nothing more than to indulge in giving
sermons, with telling untouchables they could find salvation in the
Hindu fold, with failing to protest when in 1921 only a paltry sum from
the Tilak Swaraj Fund was allotted to untouchables and when the
committee to plan their uplift was uncere-moniously wound up. Gandhi
won praise from Hindus for his fast against the MacDonald Award of
1931, which granted the untouchables a separate electorate. Ambedkar
declared there was nothing noble in the fast; “it was the worst form of
coercion against a helpless people, to give up the constitutional
safeguards of which they had become possessed … and to agree to live on
the mercy of Hindus.” When Gandhi signed the Poona Pact, Ambedkar held
that it did not differ from the Communal Award, and Gandhi had only
signed it when he found his opposition would not succeed. Kanshi Ram,
who pioneered the Bahujan Samaj Party, was the most recent ‘Harijan’
leader to echo Ambedkar’s views.
In studying the internal logic of Gandhi’s campaign
against untouchability, it is necessary to examine the reasons why his
conservative and radical critics reached contradictory conclusions. The
way he formulated his critique, and planned his campaign was a source
of both his success and failure. It enabled him to undermine the moral
basis of untouchability, but prevented him from dealing with its
economic and political roots.
Was Gandhi fallible? And how are Roy and others who
questioned him to be judged? On February 5, 1950, at a seminar held
during the M.N Roy Centenary Year in 1987, Roy’s war thesis was being
discussed. A senior professor of political science stood up and claimed
that Gandhi was “more correct” and Roy “less correct.” The great
Gandhian ideologue Professor Amlan Datta was presiding over the
session. Many of us present were surprised that even he did not ask the
speaker to explain what he meant.
The author is a former editor of The Radical Humanist and erstwhile President, PUCL-Delhi; he edits the PUCL Bulletin.
Source by mainstreamweekly.net
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