RUNNING COMMENTARIES ON INDIA GATE

AUM
RUNNING COMMENTARIES ON INDIA GATE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

I have had the privilege of doing running commentaries on the Amar Jawan ceremony at the India Gate on the Republic Day for 44 years. Indeed it has been a rewarding experience for me, especially when the listeners and viewers make appreciatory comments. The electronic media, both radio and TV, have been inviting me year after year to be there on every 26th January early morning come rain come shine.
IMPORTANCE OF INDIA GATE
India Gate in New Delhi is a War Memorial situated on the Raj Path, formerly known as the King’s Way. It was built by the British Government of India for the brave dead of the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. A million Indian soldiers and pioneer labour had participated in the Great War fought from 1914 to 1918 in Europe. 70,000 of them did not return home as they made the supreme sacrifice. The India Gate War Memorial was built for them from 1921 to 1931 at a cost of Rupees six lakh. It was the Duke of Connaught who had laid the foundation stone on 10 February 1921. After a decade when the war memorial was ready, Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India inaugurated it on 12 February 1931.
A singular point to notice on the war memorial is names etched all over high walls of 13516 brave war dead who found no final resting place nor were cremated. The last rites were not performed as their mortal remains were not found.
In his inaugural speech Lord Irwin profusely eulogized the chivalry of the Indian soldiers who fought like lions wherever they were deployed East or West. Those chivalrous soldiers added a new chapter in the book of bravery of Indian men who bore arms.
On the top end of the India Gate is a huge cauldron where oil was filled and wicks lighted at night on ceremonial occasions that could be seen from miles around the capital of India.
The engraving on the Face of the Top reads thus:
“ INDIA
TO DEAD OF THE INDIAN ARMY WHO FELL AND ARE HONOURED IN FRANCE AND FLANDERS MESOPOTAMIA PERSIA EAST AFRICA GALLIPOLI AND ELSEWHERE IN THE NEAR AND FAR EAST.
IN SACRED MEMORY OF THOSE WHOSE NAMES ALSO ARE RECORDED AND WHO FELL IN INDIA ON THE NORTH WEST FRONTIER DURING THE THIRD AFGHAN WAR.
AMAR JAWAN
Right below the massive arch of the INDIA GATE is located a square platform with a reversed rifle holding a helmet on the butt as a symbol of SHRADDHANJALI to the Indian soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought and fell defending the motherland, Bharat. On the platform facing the Rajpath are engraved words AMAR JAWAN in Devnagari script.
In December 1971 the Indian Armed Forces had decisively defeated the Pakistan Armed Forces and the latter surrendered unconditionally to the former on 16 December 1971 at the Ramna Race Course in the afternoon. Many officers and men of India had made the supreme sacrifice to win the war and dismember Pakistan. Thus was born Bangaladesh.
Amar Jawan has a Jyoti that burns 24 by 7 and pays homage to the brave war dead.
The Amar Jawan was built in January 1972 well in time for the Prime Minister of India, Smt Indira Gandhi to pay homage to the AMAR JAWAN who was martyred and lives in our thoughts even today.
AMAR JAWAN CEREMONY
Just a year after the inauguration of the new war memorial to the martyred Jawans of free India, I stepped in as a commentator. I found the ceremony emotionally moving and prompted me as a commentator to mentally travel all around the country where memorials were raised to the fallen brave and quote from their epitaph. I dived deep into the literature to quote lines penned by great writers admiring the bravery of our men in arms who rose in nation’s estimation by braving danger to their lives beyond the call of duty. To tell you the truth I too felt inspired to pick up my rifle with a bayonet fixed on it and charge into the bunkers and trenches of the enemy lines to put them to sleep for ever.
I invariably quoted a Greek Ode translated into English that ran thus
“ HOW CAN A MAN DIE BETTER
THAN FACING FEARFUL ODDS
FOR THE ASHES OF HIS FATHERS
AND TEMPLES OF HIS GODS “
There is no doubt in the fact that it moved audiences wherever they were. A few confided that tears rolled down their cheeks when they heard the description of the Amar Jawan and what the great writers had penned for the Immortal Soldier.
It would be appropriate to write here the lines that I verbally lifted from an epitaph in the cemetery at Kohima in Nagaland where many war dead of the Eastern Theatre who fought and fell against the advancing Imperial Japanese Army:
“ WHEN YOU GO HOME
TELL THEM OF US AND SAY
FOR THEIR TOMORROW
WE GAVE OUR TODAY.”
I never forget to quote the Hindi poet, Makhan Lal Chaturvedi who expressed the longings of flowers to be strewn on the path where patriots proceed to battle to make the supreme sacrifice for the motherland. The original lines in Hindi run thus:
“ mujhe tod lena vanmali,
Us path per dena tum phenk,
Matrubhumi per sheesh chadhane,
Jis path jayen veer anek.”
The words inspire, the thoughts inspire, the anecdotes inspire. There is a tradition in Russia that newly married couples visit a war memorial and seek blessings of martyrs that their sons and daughters grow up to be brave like them and ever be prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for the Nation.
Of course, year after year most of the commentators get a feedback that the present Amar Jawan should be replaced by a massive War Memorial befitting to the wisdom and valour of the Bhartiy Jawans whose bravery is second to none. It is hoped that the people who matter will heed to the call of people and raise a YUDH SMARAK for the Brave Dead of Bharat.
Email: aumchitranjansawant@gmail.com Mob. 9811173590

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A COMMENTATOR’S ANECDOTES

AUM
A COMMENTATOR’S INTERESTING ANECDOTES
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Pachmarhi, the only hill station in Central India was being decorated like a bride for a wedding the citizens and military personnel stationed there had not witnessed before. President of India, Shri Varahgiri Venkat Giri had kindly condescended to present Regimental Colours to the Army Educational Corps on 21st Feb 2071. The All India Radio, Bhopal had invited me to do a running commentary on major events for their Radio Station that would be relayed by other radio stations in and around the central India. I did not have much experience of the electronic media and yet they had chosen me as I had been doing spot commentaries on army events in that part of our country. I was happy with the decision made by the Station Director of Akashvani Bhopal to select me.
MILITARY IN CENTRAL INDIA
The provinces in Central India, later called Madhya Bharat, were peaceful indeed. The Scindia royal family of Gwalior and the Holkar royal family of Indore had learnt to listen to wise counsel of the Times after the British led forces of the East India Company had broken the back of the Maratha Confederacy and forced the Peshwa to flee to Bithoor, far away from Maharashtra. MHOW near a tiny village Mahu became the Military Headquarters of War and the British Army Officers were monarchs of all they surveyed. With no formidable enemy around, the Army Officers trained a little but played a lot – games of sorts. Going on Shikar in the dense jungles of plateaus and hunting wild boar was fun indeed.
A young British Army Officer Captain Forsythe took time off from his military training schedule and proceeded on a long hunt on horseback accompanied by a retinue commensurate with the rank. A Captain in the 18th and 19th centuries was considered to be a big shot. Capt Forsythe is credited with the discovery of Pachmarhi as a small military station with club facilities where young married wives of subalterns fresh from England could fun and frolic without running into big guns or their stiff- upper- lip burra mem sahibs who generally frequented the summer capital of British India.
I suitably packed interesting information about the discovery of Pachmarhi, its important waterfalls, circular walks, polo grounds that came up many years after Captain Forsythe had sailed home via the Cape of Good Hope and the radio listeners loved the off beat information.
INTRODUCING PACHMARHI
Shri VV Giri, President of India showed interest in Pachmarhi when he went there for presenting Colours to the Army Educational Corps and I took him round the Plateau of Pachmarhi. The natural beauty is just so captivating that one wishes to come again and again to the place and enjoy the serenity of the place situated at an altitude of 3500 ft above sea level. Dhoopgarh is the highest point which one has to climb on foot as there is no road. However, there is a small rest house there with washroom facilities. Sunshine is ever present there as long as the Sun is visible. Indeed the scene of sunset from Dhoopgarh is heavenly and one may enjoy the beauty of setting sun beyond seven ranges of the Satpura hills. It is advisable to carry one’s own water, tea and snacks to rejuvenate, rehydrate one’s self after the fairly steep climb to the highest point in the central India.
Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of the place. Mahadev hills and Chauragarh are pieces of evidence that devotees of Mahadeo came from all over the place to pay obeisance to the deity at many points named after him. Chauragarh is a circular hill top reached after a steep climb of hundreds of natural stone stairs where a climber has to be sure footed to avoid a fall. On reaching the flat circular top a climber comes across innumerable big iron Tridents that worshippers of Lord Shiva carried on their shoulders to place there for the Deity and end their worldly life by jumping hundreds of feet down below into a large abyss. It is said that some men in authority made an attempt to remove the Tridents to an iron factory for melting and moulding but kicked the bucket.
When I saw Pachmarhi first time as a Second Lieutenant in July 1960, it was a sleepy little town with not much to write home about except flora and fauna. The senior most Army officer was a Lieutenant Colonel who was Commandant of the AEC Training Centre and School and also doubled up as the Station Commander. We did not see much of him except at the time of initial introduction. The number of Majors could be counted on finger tips. One of them was fond of wild life and advised me not to be scared of the non-existent tiger. The old timers settled in Pachmarhi Cantonment post retirement did confide in me that in olden days tigers did come to the houses near the jungle to say good morning to early walkers on the chhota chukker of 4 miles. An old resident of a bungalow on the periphery of forest narrated how tigers loved to cross the Lakshman Rekha and enter the human habitat. I made use of these interesting stories in my numerous commentaries on the plateau of Pachmarhi.
Dr Rajendra Prasad was very fond of spending a few weeks in summer months in Pachmarhi to beat the heat of New Delhi. He was asthmatic and Simla hills did not suit him although the Viceroy’s Lodge there was all his as President. He would walk around a small hill and enjoy the scenic beauty and fragrance of flowers. The hillock stands named after him as Rajendra Giri. When I was showing President and Smt Giri around Pachmarhi, I mentioned the name Rajendra Giri. Promptly Smt Giri intervened to say that it is named after two Presidents – Rajendra and Giri. Discretion is the better part of valour, so I kept mum and did not say that Giri here means a hillock. The first President of India reigns supreme in chats and discourses mentioning high dignitaries who loved Pachmarhi
I must make a mention that the Pachmarhi of today is very different from Pachmarhi of 1960s. In 1968 my newly married wife and I went to the civil area for shopping sundries. We walked past a row of tiled hutments but found no shop as such. When my wife and I reached the other end of the inhabited civil area, I asked a passer- by where the market place was. “ Sir, you have just walked past the market”, said the man in amazement. We were more amazed.
COMMENTATOR BECOMES FAMOUS
I QUITE REMEMBER HOW DISAAPOINTED WAS THE ORGANISOR OF A MEGA SPORT EVENT WHEN THE Guest of Honour expressed a desire to meet the man at the mike at the end of the event. I was asked by the Deputy Commandant to go to the VIP enclosure for a little chat with the big man. The Guest of Honour asked me a number of questions about how do I handle Words at the Mike because my commentary makes even a dull event so lively. I thanked him profusely and returned to mingle with my folks. I just overheard the brother officer lamenting loud about being ignored despite putting in hard work for months. The man at the mike puts in an appearance for just couple of days and wins laurels. I shall leave it at that since self praise is no recommendation.
I had the honour and privilege of being posted to New Delhi from Pachmarhi. What a miraculous change it brought to our lives. Akashvani invited me to do the running commentary on the Republic Day Parade from the Presidential Enclosure for the distinguished guests. It was a spot commentary not carried on the Air. Nevertheless it was a precursor to doing commentary on the Air for AIR and it catapulted me to the national scene. I must mention that the game changer was an interview that I had with Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw. He was elevated to the rank of Field Marshal on 1st January 1973 in recognition of his contribution to the victory of the Indian Army over the Pakistan Army that dismembered Pakistan and Bangladesh was born.
My interview with Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw created a Tehelka in the Media World. The Statesman, the paper that Englishmen read, said that it was hilarious and also Free Frank and Fearless. No holds were barred. I asked and he answered. I asked about his bravery on battlefield in Burma in the Second World War and he said that he was young, he displayed courage and bravery above the call of duty by snatching territory from the brave Japanese Army in the battle of Sittang Bridge. Of course, the Japanese had the better of Sam and pumped NINE bullets into his stomach. He lost a lot of blood and people around thought that Sam would breathe his last. Sir Cowans, General Officer Commanding the Division rushed to Sam’s side and learning of his brave feats, pulled his own Military Cross from the chest and pinned it on Sam’s chest.
Military Cross is won by a living man and is not awarded to a dead man. That explains why the General did that. Of course, an interesting incident followed winning of MC. Sam was evacuated to Madras Military Hospital but his condition was rather bad. The Governor of Madras Presidency came over to see the brave officer, Sam Manekshaw. As a gesture of courtesy the Governor asked Sam if he could do anything for the brave man. Yes Sir, you can do a lot. “ Sir, you may tell the CO of Military Hospital to give me two pegs of whiskey every evening.”.On Co nodding assent, the Governor gave the green signal and Sam had two pegs of whisky that evening after a long gap. Next morning the Commanding Officer of the Military Hospital found Sam’s condition much better and ask Sam what the reason was. With a glint in the eye, Sam said – Whiskey made the difference, Sir. The top medical man then prescribed two large pegs of whiskey every evening. Sam recovered from battle wounds to march on for higher goals.
Notwithstanding my burning the midnight oil and preparing hard for doing my share of the commentary, a co-commentator made pitfalls for me so that I fall flat. He would take lion’s share and lively events leaving the dull ones for me. After doing his part of the commentary, he would walk out of commentator’s box and leave the door ajar letting in unwanted noise and mike blaring words of the spot commentary. I had to raise my voice to be heard by the listeners and did not draw an adverse comment. I chose not to report the incident to the administrative officers and maintained loyalty to a colleague-commentator.
The Silver Jubilee Parade of the 1971 war victory was held in the Rashtriya Stadium. Some civilian babus holding high positions in Ministries that mattered had opposed the proposal of holding a celebration of Silver Jubilee as it would annoy Pakistan. The Indian Army put its foot down and insisted on holding the Parade to boost the morale of our Jawans. In a nutshell, the Parade was held but on a low key and I was one of the commentators for the Doordarshan. The co-commentator was a lady and implored of me to take lion’s share since she had no military background. I acceded to her request. The Doordarshan Producer and his senior officers were happy about this arrangement.
Lo and behold! The TV cameras focussed on a man sitting in the midst of a crowd of people who mattered little. He was none other than Rajesh Pilot, a Union Minister who had participated actively in the Eastern Theatre of war where he flew a bomber. The computer in my brain brought out a real story of that bombing episode. When Rajesh Pilot flew his bomber from the base, a call sign was given to him to call in distress. The Pakistan’s Intelligence found it out. The call sign in distress was “ I am your Wife”. When Rajesh Pilot was flying over the East Pakistan air base to bomb it, the anti-aircraft artillery wanted to shoot him down but found his elevation beyond their guns’ range. The enemy used the call sign and said : I am your wife, come down lower to bomb accurately. The Indian Air Force base also heard it and wanted to warn Rajesh Pilot not to descend. The Indian Air Base said “ This is your REAL wife. Do not descend lest you are shot down.” Rajesh Pilot did not descend and bombed from where he was and thus destroyed the runway of the East Pakistan Air Base.
Well, dear listeners and readers, i should bid adieu now, Interesting experiences and anecdotes are too many to be recounted in an article. I shall keep coming to you every now and then. May Ishwar bless you.
E mail: aumchitranjansawant@gmail.com Mob. 9811173590.

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WHAT IS TRUTH

Aryasamaj
कृण्वन्तो विश्वमार्यम् •


AUM
WHAT IS TRUTH ASKED DAYANAND SARASWATI
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
I stood facing the Kailash Parvat in Tibet two decades ago. The solid black granite Shiv ling style natural massive rock jutting out in the midst of yellow sand hillocks impressed me. The pilgrims of many nationalities on a religious mission to meet the real Shiva by going round the Kailash Parvat in almost three days was a test of faith. I failed the test notwithstanding my completion of the Parikrama of the holy hill of gigantic dimension. Shiv Ji never blessed me with his benign darshan nor did I realize His presence in the heart of my hearts.
When I confessed the truth of non-realisation of the great spirit to my fellow travelers they instantly dubbed me a sinner. Had they realised the presence of Almighty Shiv Ji themselves? Their silence was deafening. They did not wish to tell a lie and yet they had no moral courage to tell the truth.
The holiest of holy places in the concept of the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, German explorers and the rest of holy men and women did not have the abode of Mahadev, the Almighty as narrated in various scriptures. Had my journey of many weeks from New Delhi to Kailash Parvat produced no tangible results? No, not exactly so. I did succeed in recording enough material on my handy tape recorder to produce and broadcast later radio features in Hindi in five parts for the Akashvani or All India Radio. They had commissioned me and I did not fail them.
Nevertheless the nagging doubt about Kailash Parvat being the abode of Lord Shiva remained in my mind the same way as it was in the mind of boy Moolshankar when he sat in the Shiv temple in Tankara on the Mahashivratri at the age of fourteen. He too had entertained the genuine doubt about the Shiv ling in the temple being a replica of Ishwar. His doubt was summarily dismiseed by his snoozing father that the real Siva resided on the Kailash Parvat. Eight years later the teenager left his parental home to look around the real Shiva. He roamed from place to place for fourteen years and realized his dream of finding the Truth when he knocked at the door of Dandi Swamy Virjanand at Mathura. In the interim period of his great quest of Truth, Moolshankar had entered the Sanyas Ashram as Dayanand Saraswati.
Now the Shishya Dayanand had found the real Guru in Swami Virjanand and the Guru had found the real disciple who would undertake a mission none had dared to accept heretofore. It was VED PRACHAR. The Guru taught Ashtadhyayi and transformed his pupil as an inspired human being who would always be on a quest of the Truth and would never stop asking until he had found what he was looking for.
The Guru-Shishya relationship continued for a little over two and a half years until the Pragya Chakshu Dandi Swami Virjanand chose to send Dayanand Saraswati on a unique mission of demolishing Untruth, eradicating superstitions and establishing the Vedic way of life. Dayanand Saraswati set out on the Truth seeking mission and did not look back.
MULTI MEDIA PRACHAR
Dayanand Saraswati took to writing, public speaking, engaging in intellectual public discourses and demolishing the Untruth through Shastrarth- relying on scriptures for the search of Truth and finding the final answer in the Infallible Vedas.
Swami Dayanand Saraswati was a great seeker of Truth and had no hesitation in correcting himself if and when he perceived that he had gone wrong. Of course, his decisions on the core issues were irrevocable. Let us take a few examples of his revocable decisions. He founded four Sanskrit Pathshalas with great aplomb. However, when he found that the teachers and taught were following the old wrong path of learning and worshipping the false gods, Swami Dayanand Saraswati did not hesitate even for a moment before ordering their closer and disbandment. When he found that the scribes had not followed his dictations in the right spirit while he was producing his master treatise, Satyarth Prakash(1874 edition), the Rishi had no hesitation in acknowledging that his fundamental faith had been misrepresented and he recalled that edition from circulation. He sat in the Navlakha Mahal at Udaipur, diligently corrected the glaring errors and brought out the second edition of the Satyarth Prakash in 1883.
Fortunately for the Arya Samaj, founded in 1875 in Mumbai, the second edition was given the final touches by the Rishivar himself before he breathed his last on 30 October 1883 at Ajmer under tragic circumstances.
When it came to belief in the existence of One Ishwar who was Nirakar, the Rishi was always firm and pursued the principle of Truth given in the Vedic Samhita with single minded devotion. This decision of his was irrevocable, come what may. No threat or inducement could move him from his rock-like stand on the subject of One Nirakar Ishwar and the infallibility of the Vedas.
Maharana of Mewar, Sajjan Singh Ji once made the mistake of offering Swami Dayanand the post of Mahant of Ek Lingji mandir to which the Mewar rajya was dedicated, the Swami declined the offer. He even chided the Maharana in these words: Maharana, your principality is a small one and I can run across it in one breath but if I disobey the diktat of the Almighty where would I find a shelter because He controls the entire universe.
NATIONALISM IS DHARMA
Swami Dayanand was a great nationalist. Nationalism was a part and parcel of his faith. He believed in self rule and was never happy under the British suzerainty. He minced no words while eulogizing independence in his treatise, Satyarth Prakash. Never mind how benevolent the foreign rule is; Swarajya or self-rule would be better any day under any circumstances. Mind you, Rishivar expressed the revolutionary thought when the British rule in India was at its zenith. Fearlessness in the pursuit of Truth was the hallmark of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
SWADHARM, SWABHASHA, SWASANSKRITI are indeed the three immoveable and unshakable pillars of Rashtra Dharm or Nationalism. One must follow the Vedic Dharm, must read, write and speak Sanskrit or Hindi and follow the culture as handed down from generation to generation. Swadharme Nidhanam Shreyah – it is indeed virtuous to die doing one’s duty and not deviating from the path of Truth. As far as own language is concerned, it was Swami Dayanand Saraswati who prescribed for the Arya Samaj to transact all correspondence in Hindi, have discourses, pravachans in Hindi. The Swami led the Aryas from the front. His own mother tongue was Gujarati, his stupendous studies were in Sanskrit but he chose to write his major books like Satyarth Prakash, Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika and Sanskar Vidhi in Hindi. He impressed on all Aryas to write to the Hunter Commission on language selection for official work that it should be Hindi alone. As far as the Sanskriti is concerned, no one was a better advocate for inculcating it than the founder of the Arya Samaj himself.
Sadly the false protagonists of the malignant Hinduism had excluded women folk from all religious activities. The important half of the Hindu society was bereft of the Vedic knowledge as they were forbidden to enter the realm of the Vedas. Stree Shudrau Nadhiyatamit Shruteh – so said the illiterate Brahmins and thus weakened their own followers. Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati reversed this thought process and cited many examples wherein the learned women had fully participated in the religious discourses. How could they do so without studying the Vedas, asked the Swamy. Womenfolk are indeed grateful to Swami Dayanand Saraswati for providing them the right to Vedic education and entering the social life on the same plane as the men folk.
TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
The Arya Samaj made its existence felt in the Punjab when in June 1877, in the presence of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, it was founded as a socio-religious organization in the garden of Dr Rahim Khan in Lahore. The 28 Niyams originally formed in Mumbai in 1875 were chiseled and in Lahore the number stood at Ten. They are in vogue till today.
Five Niyams or principles out of ten lay an emphasis on the TRUTH. This brings out the main theme of this essay that Swami Dayanand was relentless in his pursuit of Truth. Not only he himself pursued the path of Truth but he enjoined on all Aryas to follow suit. It would be an ideal situation where all Aryas not only follow the principle of Truth but also impress upon the new comers, the new generation to do likewise. It is rather unfortunate that the Arya Samaj suffers from dissent and division because many Anaryas or Dasyu have surreptitiously enrolled themselves as members without having any faith in the Vedas or the Ten Principles of the Arya Samaj. Consequently, there are legal disputes where the Dasyu leave no stone unturned in capturing power and the immoveable assets of the Arya Samaj. It is deplorable indeed.
In his Will and last Testament Swami Dayanand Saraswati had advised Aryas not to rush to courts of law to resolve disputes, if any. He had counseled that the Aryas must settle the disputes in the Arya Samaj itself. Unfortunately, the false Aryas believing in false gods are defiant of the Sweekar Patra or Will of our own Rishivar.
SANGATHAN is the need of the hour. It is the pious duty of all Aryas to desist from capturing seats of power for property and work unitedly with brother Aryas for the Prachar of the Vedic Dharm. As Swami Dayanand Saraswati had carried out the wish and will of Dandi Swami Virjanand, it is incumbent upon all Aryas to obey the wish and will of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and carry on with the mission of preaching and practicing the VEDIC DHARM.
Email: aumchitranjansawant@gmail.com Mobile: 9811173590

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MAHARISHI DAYANAND AND MAHATMA GANDHI

MAHARISHI DAYANAND AND MAHATMA GANDHI – COMMONALITY OF PURPOSE BUT POLES APART
AUM
MAHARISHI DAYANAND MAHATMA GANDHI
COMMONALITY OF MISSION YET POLES APART
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Maharishi Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi both were born and brought up in Gujarat and spoke Gujarati as their mother tongue. Precisely speaking the two stalwarts were from Kathiawar in Saurashtra where the vagaries of Nature and limited rainfall make the sons of the soil tough and sturdy. Both were born in and nourished by the princely states where their fathers had found employment and cultivated their culture without acquiring an imprint of princely high brow. Both the great men took to mixing with masses like fish takes to water. The influence of the Hindu Dharma was so deeply etched on their body, mind and soul that other proselytizing religions of the middle-East was kept at arms’s length by both. Indeed the deep chasm within the Hindu Dharm did not leave them unaffected. Maharishi Dayanand, as balak Moolshankar, was brought up as a Shaiv, whereas Mahatma Gandhi clung to the Vaishnav traditions through and through. The inward impact of the two strong religious traditions was indeed so noticeable in the outer manifestation of their personalities.
PARTING OF WAYS COMMENCED CULTURALLY
DAYANAND was born in 1824 and GANDHI in 1869; thus the former was fortyfive years senior to latter. Indeed a lot of time in between had passed by and much water had flown down the Sabarmati river in between. After Gandhi’s arrival in this world, Dayanand lived on for a mere fourteen years before he breathed his last. Apparently there was no time and no opportunity for an interaction directly between the two great men who changed the religious, social and political set up of their beloved Bharat. The direct and indirect impact of their personality left no one untouched or unaffected. Dayanand always called a spade a spade irrespective of the fact whether the man in conversation with him was a king or a commoner. Once His Highness, the Maharana of Udaipur offered the Mahantship of the Ekling Mandir, to which is big State was dedicated, provided Dayanand gave up his criticism of the idol worship and advocated only the stuti of Nirakar Ishwar. Dayanand took umbrage and minced no words in retorting “ Maharana, I can run across your principality in one go but if I disobey Ishwar and obey you, where will I go to hide myself?” The wise ruler understood the import and dropped the subject.
Gandhi, on the other hand, sent across an unpleasant message in a pleasant mode without causing an upheaval in the social set up. Once Gandhi was addressing a crowd of the Indian settlers in South Africa when the local administration decided to disperse the assembly in the town hall and trooped in to do so. Before the British officers of the Police and their constables could carry out the dispersal orders, Gandhi said that now his mission was over and that the assembly must sing “God Save the King”, the national anthem. The police officers and constables had no choice but to stand to attention and sing their national anthem. Thus it was Gandhi’s spiritual strength that he could overwhelm his adversaries with his mild manners. Those who came to scoff, remained to pray.
BOTH WERE VOTARIES OF AHINSA
Dayanand was a follower and a preacher of the Vedic Dharm that advises its followers to carry and wield BAJRA to fight against and annihilate the enemy and his army. Gandhi, of course, believed in non-violence as a Vaishanavite and loved to sing the line “ vaishnav jana to tene kahiye peer parayee jaane re” and one who can realize the pain and suffering of others will never indulge in violence. Gandhi loved the principle of non-violence and would practice it even if it cost him his life. So steadfast was he in observing the principle of non-violence.
Dayanand too advocated the philosophy of Non-violence. Writes the Rishivar in the Satyarth Prakash while discussing the Ten principles of Dharma as defined by Manu Maharaj, how he wished AHINSA was also included as the eleventh principle of DHARMA. Here I must hasten to add that the concept of Ahinsa of Dayanand meant that a strong man must not voluntarily torment a weak man and cause violence. Thus Dayanand’s Non-violence did not give an immunity to an enemy that had intruded to destroy our Dharma, our home and hearth. Gandho, on the other hand believed in a kind of non-violence that was absolute. Dayanand and Gandhi both advocated observance of AHINSA but their definitions differed. Nevertheless, non-violence continued to be on their agenda throughout.
DAYANAND DRUMMED SELF RULE
Dayanand wrote the first edition of the Satyarth Prakash, his magnum opus in 1874 and published it in 1875. Dayanand had the moral courage to write in the eighth chapter of his aforesaid book about throwing off the foreign yoke and establishing self rule thus: ( let me quote word for word in original in Hindi)
“ koi kitna hi kare parantu jo swadeshi rajya hota hai, who sarvopari uttam hota hai. ….. apne aur paraye ka pakshapat shunya, praja par mata-pita saman kripa, nyaya aur daya ke sath- videshiyon ka rajya bhi purna sukhdayak nahin hai.”
When Dayanand wrote these lines as a freedom fighter and it was the heyday of the British Empire where the word “sunset” was unheard of, Gandhi used to roam about the streets of Saurashtra in his night undergarments. Irrespective of the consequences, Dayanand wrote regarding self rule and exhorted his newly elected members of the Arya Samaj executive committee to be as fearless as the Yajurveda advises them to be. The Ved mantra on the state of Fearlessness to be cultivated by all Aryas is quoted again in the Shanti Karanam of the Daily Havan procedure. Thus two birds would be killed with one stone: even Vaishyas will become bold like Kshatriyas and the Arya Samaj would face the British boldly without fear or favour. Without making it public, Dayanand was once again experimenting with the theory of MANTRA MOTIVATION. INDEED IT WAS A GRAND SUCCESS.
The British Rule used to deal with “ freedom-fighter elements” in society firmly and separated them from the rest of the masses. Life Imprisonment meant exiling the freedom-fighter to the Andaman and Nicobar islands and that in effect meant the rank and file not coming in touch with the Satyagrahis or the men and women who insisted on following the path of principles; path of TRUTH and Ahinsa.
The situation was grim but the freedom fighters were a determined lot prepared to make a sacrifice of life and limbs. India, that is Bharat was on the path of progress leading to its destination – the FREEDOM from FOREIGN YOKE. Much before volunteers of the Indian National Congress came forward, it was the Arya Samaj that had lighted the Lamp of Freedom and removed the darkness of slavery to a foreign power. Thanks to Dayanand and his Satyarth Prakash, the awakening was on the horizon. Before long the word, SWATANTRATA WAS ON EVERY LIP AND EVERY PHYSICAL MOVEMENT WAS TO 0UST THE FOREIGN RULERS AND FINALLY EVERY MENTAL MOVE WAS TO BID GOOD BUY TO THE FOREIGN RULERS AND USHER IN A RULE BY INDIANS, FOR INDIANS AND 0F INDIANS.
EDUCATION OF YOUTH
On going through the writings of Mahatma Gandhi I find that his views about the Arya Samaj were magnanimous when he was in South Africa. Of course, the Arya Samaj, under the leadership of Parmanand Ji had done yeoman’s service to promoting the Hindu Dharm and Vedic sanskriti among the Indian youth living in that far off foreign land. I would like to quote Gandhi Ji’s words that I borrowed from an article written by Dr Yadav and entitled SWAMI DAYANAND ARYA SAMAJ AND Mahatma Gandhi. The piece runs thus:
Mahatma Gandhi told, “You, Sir, belong to a band of self-sacrificing workers whom the Arya Samaj has given to India. You, in common with your fellow-workers, have given your lifetime to the cause of Religion and Education. We, therefore, feel honoured in honouring you. We hope that your brief visit to South Africa will result in the Arya Samaj deciding to send some self-sacrificing educationists to work among the Indians in South Africa. Proper education is one of the greatest wants of the Indian community in South Africa.”4 Mahatma Gandhi told, “Mr. Lajpat Rai, from the Punjab, is no less noble in mind. He is the recognized leader of the Punjab. He has been devoting his earnings and his energy to the promotion of the work of the Arya Samaj.”5 Mahatma Gandhi told, “I have studied the Gayatri. I like the words. I have also studied the book the Swamiji gave me. I have derived much benefit from its perusal. It makes me more inquisitive about the life of Swami Dayanand2. I see that the meaning given by Swami Dayanand to the Gayatri and several mantras of the Vajasaneya Upanishad is totally different from that given by the orthodox school now which meaning is correct? I do not know. I hesitate straightway to accept the revolutionary method of interpretation suggested by S. Dayanand.”
Later in life Mahatma Gandhi, as a political leader and as a crusader of the Hindu-Muslim unity to gain SWARAJ became extremely critical of the thought process of the Arya Samaj and its leaders. He could not tolerate Arya Samaj proselytizing like the Christian missionaries and converting Muslims and Christians to the Vedic Dharm. Perhaps he found the edifice of religious unity that he was building like a castle in the air crumbling under the attack of the Arya Samaj pracharaks who minced no words in calling a spade a spade.
TRUTH was the main plank of both Maharishi Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi . The former went whole hog in preaching and practicing Truth. The latter perhaps had political expediency in mind and his ultimate goal, namely independence of India was always the be all and the end all. No wonder Maharishi Dayanand made TRUTH the base of Five out of TEN Principles of the Arya Samaj formulated in Lahore in 1877. The Rishivar never deviated from the Truth, come what may. I shall not commit blasphemy by saying or even remotely indicating that Mahatma Gandhi deviated from the Truth. Nevertheless, I shall be failing in my duty if I do not point out that he was more critical of the Arya samaj in particular and Hindu elements in the Congress than he ever was of Muslims or Christians.
Gandhiji spearheaded the movement in India to restore Caliphate and the Sultan of Turkey after the World War I, just to please the Muslim clientele of his. If it was NOT a deviation from the Truth, from the ground realities of life, what else would be. The Muslims of Turkey were too happy to say good bye to their religious and temporal head and usher in a real secular social and political order under Mustafa Kamal Attaturk but Gandhiji closed his eyes to the grassroots Truth in Turkey. Let us rest the case here for the time being.
SWAMI SHRADDHANAND’S SHUDDHI MOVEMENT
As a devout believer in the Vedic Dharm, Swami Shraddhanand Ji had launched a successful movement of SHUDDHI to bring back to the Vedic dharm those men and women who had strayed away and had been forcibly converted to Islam or allured by love of lucre to convert to Christianity. He had the support of Pundit Madan Mohan Malviya and Maharana of Udaipur in toto. However, this was N ANTHEMA TO Mahatma Gandhi but he had never raised a voice in protest when Muslims revolting against the British rule in Malabar had attacked the Hindu houses, adducted and raped their women and converted the weak kneed to Islam. So, why did Mahatma Gandhi’s conscience prick now, if one may ask.
Maharishi Dayanand’s disciples and Mahatma Gandhi were now on the war path, the bugles were sounded and the distant drums could be heard far and wide. Mahatma Gandhi wrote articles in self defence that Yogendra Yadav, a Gandhian scholar, has quoted to convince a modern reader that the Mahatma was impartial and if anything, he had lovingly mentioned time and again that both he and Swami Dayanand Saraswati were from that tiny part of India called Katiawar. Let us see what the Mahatma had to say warding off the VAJRA-LIKE ATTACKS OF THE OFFENDED ARYAS :
Mahatma Gandhi told, “A storm of indignation on the part of Arya Samajists is blowing against me. I have letters and telegrams of energetic protest against my references to the Samaj, its illustrious founder, Swami Shraddhanandji and the shuddhi movement. They are from Ghaziabad, Mutan, Delhi, Sukkur, Karachi, Jagraon, Secunderabad, Lahore, Sialkot, Allahabad, etc. I omit mention of individual letters. Probably all of them expect me to publish their protests; some have specially insisted upon my doing so. They will forgive me for not complying with their desire. The majority are worded after the fashion of the telegram I reproduced last week. All resent what they regard as an attack upon the Arya Samaj, the Satyarth Prakash, Rishi Dayanand, Swami Shraddhanandji and the shuddhi movement. I am sorry to have to say that my position still remains unaltered. I have read with careful attention the argumentative correspondence received by me. Those who have attributed my statement to my ignorance have done so probably to leave me an open door for a safe retreat. Unfortunately for me, I have left no such chance for myself. I cannot plead ignorance of the Satyarth Prakash or the general teachings of the Arya Samaj. I cannot even say that I might have been prejudiced against the Arya Samaj. On the contrary, I approached it with the greatest veneration. I had, as I still have, profound regard for the personal character of Rishi Dayanand. His brahmacharya was an object of emulation for me. His fearlessness commanded my admiration. And my provincialism, if I have any in me, was flattered by the fact of the Rishi being of the same little Kathiawar as myself. But I could not help myself. The conclusion I came to was in spite of me, and I published it only when its publication became relevant. Its suppression would have been a cowardly omission on my part. Instead of becoming enraged against me for an honest expression of opinion, I appeal to them to take my criticism in good part, examine it, try to convince me and pray for me if I cannot be convinced. Two letters have challenged me to substantiate my conclusion. It is a fair challenge and I hope before long to produce from the Satyarth Prakash passages in its support. My friends will not engage me in a religious discussion with them. I shall content myself with giving them the grounds of my opinion, So far as Swami Shraddhanandji is concerned, there is no question Of substantiating my opinion. My critics will oblige me by leaving him and me to ourselves. In spite of my opinion, I shall not quarrel with the Swamiji. Mine is the criticism of a friend. As for shuddhi, the critics in their blind fury have forgotten the qualification ‘as it is understood in Christianity or to a lesser extent in Islam’. This is quite different from saying that there is no proselytism in Hinduism. Hinduism has a way all its own of shuddhi. But if the Arya Samajists differ from me, they may still allow me to retain my opinion. If they will re-read the statement, they will discover that I have said that they have a perfect right to carry on their movement if they like. Toleration is not a coinciding of views. There should be toleration of one another’s views though they may be as poles asunder. Lastly I have not said that Arya Samajists or Mussalmans do kidnap women. I have said ‘I am told’. By repeating what I was told, I have given both the parties an opportunity of repudiating the charge. Was it not better that I should publish what was being said, so that the atmosphere might be cleared? Let me point out to my Arya Samaj friends that their protests betray want of toleration. Public men and public institutions cannot afford to be thin-skinned. They must stand criticism with good grace. And now for an appeal to them. They have almost all entered their protests. I do not mind them. I assure them that I share their sorrow. It pained me when I wrote my criticism. It pains me now to know that it has hurt them. But I am not their enemy. I claim to be their friend. Time will prove my friendship. They do not want to quarrel with anybody or any faith. That is what almost all have said in their letters. Let them take to heart the tribute I have paid to the Samaj, its founder and to Swami Shraddhanandji. I know the purifying work that the Arya Samaj has done. I know that it has laid its finger on many abuses that have soiled Hinduism. But no one can live on his capital. I want them to outlive the latter and extend the spirit of their reform. In spite of their denial, I repeat that their shuddhi propaganda savours of the Christian propaganda. I would like them to rise higher. If they will insist upon reform from within, it will tax all their energy and take up all their time. Let them Hinduism the Hindu if they believe with me that Arya Samaj is a part of Hinduism. If they consider it as distinct from Hinduism, I fear it will be a hard task for them to convert the Hindus. Let them ascertain where they stand. I have criticized because I want them to help the great national and religious movement that is now going on. The Samaj has a great future if it can outgrow what has appeared to me its narrowness.
BURY THE HATCHET NOW
The disciples of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati and followers of Mahatma Gandhi must bury the hatchet and move forward on the path of progress so that our motherland may attain the greatness that it was famous for in days of yore.
Mahashay Vishwanath Ji, a staunch Arya Samajist and a Gandhian, of the DAV College, Lahore fondly narrated an anecdote to me. Long ago in undivided India, he was on a Ved prachar mission in the interior of the Punjab beyond Multan. Hindi was neither spoken nor understood in that remote interior rural Punjab. Going in an ekka, he heard melodious bhajans in Hindi from a group of women WHO WERE ALSO WORKING ON THE SPINNING WHEEL OR CHARKHA POPULARISED BY THE SWADESHI AANDOLAN. Swadeshi was indeed so dear to both Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati and Mahatma Gandhi.
Here was a fusion of the Vedic spirituality popularized in the Punjab by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati emerging as bhajans in praise of ISHWAR and lessons in self dependence through the CHARKHA that rekindled the freedom spirit awakened by Mahatma Gandhi. We of the present generation are proud recipients of the rich legacy of both the Maharishi and the Mahatma.
Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM Email: aumchitranjansawant@gmail.com Mobile: 9811173590.
UPVAN 609, Sector 29, NOIDA – 201303

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MAHARISHI DAYANAND AND MAHATMA GANDHI

MAHARISHI DAYANAND AND MAHATMA GANDHI – COMMONALITY OF PURPOSE BUT POLES APART
AUM
MAHARISHI DAYANAND MAHATMA GANDHI
COMMONALITY OF MISSION YET POLES APART
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Maharishi Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi both were born and brought up in Gujarat and spoke Gujarati as their mother tongue. Precisely speaking the two stalwarts were from Kathiawar in Saurashtra where the vagaries of Nature and limited rainfall make the sons of the soil tough and sturdy. Both were born in and nourished by the princely states where their fathers had found employment and cultivated their culture without acquiring an imprint of princely high brow. Both the great men took to mixing with masses like fish takes to water. The influence of the Hindu Dharma was so deeply etched on their body, mind and soul that other proselytizing religions of the middle-East was kept at arms’s length by both. Indeed the deep chasm within the Hindu Dharm did not leave them unaffected. Maharishi Dayanand, as balak Moolshankar, was brought up as a Shaiv, whereas Mahatma Gandhi clung to the Vaishnav traditions through and through. The inward impact of the two strong religious traditions was indeed so noticeable in the outer manifestation of their personalities.
PARTING OF WAYS COMMENCED CULTURALLY
DAYANAND was born in 1824 and GANDHI in 1869; thus the former was fortyfive years senior to latter. Indeed a lot of time in between had passed by and much water had flown down the Sabarmati river in between. After Gandhi’s arrival in this world, Dayanand lived on for a mere fourteen years before he breathed his last. Apparently there was no time and no opportunity for an interaction directly between the two great men who changed the religious, social and political set up of their beloved Bharat. The direct and indirect impact of their personality left no one untouched or unaffected. Dayanand always called a spade a spade irrespective of the fact whether the man in conversation with him was a king or a commoner. Once His Highness, the Maharana of Udaipur offered the Mahantship of the Ekling Mandir, to which is big State was dedicated, provided Dayanand gave up his criticism of the idol worship and advocated only the stuti of Nirakar Ishwar. Dayanand took umbrage and minced no words in retorting “ Maharana, I can run across your principality in one go but if I disobey Ishwar and obey you, where will I go to hide myself?” The wise ruler understood the import and dropped the subject.
Gandhi, on the other hand, sent across an unpleasant message in a pleasant mode without causing an upheaval in the social set up. Once Gandhi was addressing a crowd of the Indian settlers in South Africa when the local administration decided to disperse the assembly in the town hall and trooped in to do so. Before the British officers of the Police and their constables could carry out the dispersal orders, Gandhi said that now his mission was over and that the assembly must sing “God Save the King”, the national anthem. The police officers and constables had no choice but to stand to attention and sing their national anthem. Thus it was Gandhi’s spiritual strength that he could overwhelm his adversaries with his mild manners. Those who came to scoff, remained to pray.
BOTH WERE VOTARIES OF AHINSA
Dayanand was a follower and a preacher of the Vedic Dharm that advises its followers to carry and wield BAJRA to fight against and annihilate the enemy and his army. Gandhi, of course, believed in non-violence as a Vaishanavite and loved to sing the line “ vaishnav jana to tene kahiye peer parayee jaane re” and one who can realize the pain and suffering of others will never indulge in violence. Gandhi loved the principle of non-violence and would practice it even if it cost him his life. So steadfast was he in observing the principle of non-violence.
Dayanand too advocated the philosophy of Non-violence. Writes the Rishivar in the Satyarth Prakash while discussing the Ten principles of Dharma as defined by Manu Maharaj, how he wished AHINSA was also included as the eleventh principle of DHARMA. Here I must hasten to add that the concept of Ahinsa of Dayanand meant that a strong man must not voluntarily torment a weak man and cause violence. Thus Dayanand’s Non-violence did not give an immunity to an enemy that had intruded to destroy our Dharma, our home and hearth. Gandho, on the other hand believed in a kind of non-violence that was absolute. Dayanand and Gandhi both advocated observance of AHINSA but their definitions differed. Nevertheless, non-violence continued to be on their agenda throughout.
DAYANAND DRUMMED SELF RULE
Dayanand wrote the first edition of the Satyarth Prakash, his magnum opus in 1874 and published it in 1875. Dayanand had the moral courage to write in the eighth chapter of his aforesaid book about throwing off the foreign yoke and establishing self rule thus: ( let me quote word for word in original in Hindi)
“ koi kitna hi kare parantu jo swadeshi rajya hota hai, who sarvopari uttam hota hai. ….. apne aur paraye ka pakshapat shunya, praja par mata-pita saman kripa, nyaya aur daya ke sath- videshiyon ka rajya bhi purna sukhdayak nahin hai.”
When Dayanand wrote these lines as a freedom fighter and it was the heyday of the British Empire where the word “sunset” was unheard of, Gandhi used to roam about the streets of Saurashtra in his night undergarments. Irrespective of the consequences, Dayanand wrote regarding self rule and exhorted his newly elected members of the Arya Samaj executive committee to be as fearless as the Yajurveda advises them to be. The Ved mantra on the state of Fearlessness to be cultivated by all Aryas is quoted again in the Shanti Karanam of the Daily Havan procedure. Thus two birds would be killed with one stone: even Vaishyas will become bold like Kshatriyas and the Arya Samaj would face the British boldly without fear or favour. Without making it public, Dayanand was once again experimenting with the theory of MANTRA MOTIVATION. INDEED IT WAS A GRAND SUCCESS.
The British Rule used to deal with “ freedom-fighter elements” in society firmly and separated them from the rest of the masses. Life Imprisonment meant exiling the freedom-fighter to the Andaman and Nicobar islands and that in effect meant the rank and file not coming in touch with the Satyagrahis or the men and women who insisted on following the path of principles; path of TRUTH and Ahinsa.
The situation was grim but the freedom fighters were a determined lot prepared to make a sacrifice of life and limbs. India, that is Bharat was on the path of progress leading to its destination – the FREEDOM from FOREIGN YOKE. Much before volunteers of the Indian National Congress came forward, it was the Arya Samaj that had lighted the Lamp of Freedom and removed the darkness of slavery to a foreign power. Thanks to Dayanand and his Satyarth Prakash, the awakening was on the horizon. Before long the word, SWATANTRATA WAS ON EVERY LIP AND EVERY PHYSICAL MOVEMENT WAS TO 0UST THE FOREIGN RULERS AND FINALLY EVERY MENTAL MOVE WAS TO BID GOOD BUY TO THE FOREIGN RULERS AND USHER IN A RULE BY INDIANS, FOR INDIANS AND 0F INDIANS.
EDUCATION OF YOUTH
On going through the writings of Mahatma Gandhi I find that his views about the Arya Samaj were magnanimous when he was in South Africa. Of course, the Arya Samaj, under the leadership of Parmanand Ji had done yeoman’s service to promoting the Hindu Dharm and Vedic sanskriti among the Indian youth living in that far off foreign land. I would like to quote Gandhi Ji’s words that I borrowed from an article written by Dr Yadav and entitled SWAMI DAYANAND ARYA SAMAJ AND Mahatma Gandhi. The piece runs thus:
Mahatma Gandhi told, “You, Sir, belong to a band of self-sacrificing workers whom the Arya Samaj has given to India. You, in common with your fellow-workers, have given your lifetime to the cause of Religion and Education. We, therefore, feel honoured in honouring you. We hope that your brief visit to South Africa will result in the Arya Samaj deciding to send some self-sacrificing educationists to work among the Indians in South Africa. Proper education is one of the greatest wants of the Indian community in South Africa.”4 Mahatma Gandhi told, “Mr. Lajpat Rai, from the Punjab, is no less noble in mind. He is the recognized leader of the Punjab. He has been devoting his earnings and his energy to the promotion of the work of the Arya Samaj.”5 Mahatma Gandhi told, “I have studied the Gayatri. I like the words. I have also studied the book the Swamiji gave me. I have derived much benefit from its perusal. It makes me more inquisitive about the life of Swami Dayanand2. I see that the meaning given by Swami Dayanand to the Gayatri and several mantras of the Vajasaneya Upanishad is totally different from that given by the orthodox school now which meaning is correct? I do not know. I hesitate straightway to accept the revolutionary method of interpretation suggested by S. Dayanand.”
Later in life Mahatma Gandhi, as a political leader and as a crusader of the Hindu-Muslim unity to gain SWARAJ became extremely critical of the thought process of the Arya Samaj and its leaders. He could not tolerate Arya Samaj proselytizing like the Christian missionaries and converting Muslims and Christians to the Vedic Dharm. Perhaps he found the edifice of religious unity that he was building like a castle in the air crumbling under the attack of the Arya Samaj pracharaks who minced no words in calling a spade a spade.
TRUTH was the main plank of both Maharishi Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi . The former went whole hog in preaching and practicing Truth. The latter perhaps had political expediency in mind and his ultimate goal, namely independence of India was always the be all and the end all. No wonder Maharishi Dayanand made TRUTH the base of Five out of TEN Principles of the Arya Samaj formulated in Lahore in 1877. The Rishivar never deviated from the Truth, come what may. I shall not commit blasphemy by saying or even remotely indicating that Mahatma Gandhi deviated from the Truth. Nevertheless, I shall be failing in my duty if I do not point out that he was more critical of the Arya samaj in particular and Hindu elements in the Congress than he ever was of Muslims or Christians.
Gandhiji spearheaded the movement in India to restore Caliphate and the Sultan of Turkey after the World War I, just to please the Muslim clientele of his. If it was NOT a deviation from the Truth, from the ground realities of life, what else would be. The Muslims of Turkey were too happy to say good bye to their religious and temporal head and usher in a real secular social and political order under Mustafa Kamal Attaturk but Gandhiji closed his eyes to the grassroots Truth in Turkey. Let us rest the case here for the time being.
SWAMI SHRADDHANAND’S SHUDDHI MOVEMENT
As a devout believer in the Vedic Dharm, Swami Shraddhanand Ji had launched a successful movement of SHUDDHI to bring back to the Vedic dharm those men and women who had strayed away and had been forcibly converted to Islam or allured by love of lucre to convert to Christianity. He had the support of Pundit Madan Mohan Malviya and Maharana of Udaipur in toto. However, this was N ANTHEMA TO Mahatma Gandhi but he had never raised a voice in protest when Muslims revolting against the British rule in Malabar had attacked the Hindu houses, adducted and raped their women and converted the weak kneed to Islam. So, why did Mahatma Gandhi’s conscience prick now, if one may ask.
Maharishi Dayanand’s disciples and Mahatma Gandhi were now on the war path, the bugles were sounded and the distant drums could be heard far and wide. Mahatma Gandhi wrote articles in self defence that Yogendra Yadav, a Gandhian scholar, has quoted to convince a modern reader that the Mahatma was impartial and if anything, he had lovingly mentioned time and again that both he and Swami Dayanand Saraswati were from that tiny part of India called Katiawar. Let us see what the Mahatma had to say warding off the VAJRA-LIKE ATTACKS OF THE OFFENDED ARYAS :
Mahatma Gandhi told, “A storm of indignation on the part of Arya Samajists is blowing against me. I have letters and telegrams of energetic protest against my references to the Samaj, its illustrious founder, Swami Shraddhanandji and the shuddhi movement. They are from Ghaziabad, Mutan, Delhi, Sukkur, Karachi, Jagraon, Secunderabad, Lahore, Sialkot, Allahabad, etc. I omit mention of individual letters. Probably all of them expect me to publish their protests; some have specially insisted upon my doing so. They will forgive me for not complying with their desire. The majority are worded after the fashion of the telegram I reproduced last week. All resent what they regard as an attack upon the Arya Samaj, the Satyarth Prakash, Rishi Dayanand, Swami Shraddhanandji and the shuddhi movement. I am sorry to have to say that my position still remains unaltered. I have read with careful attention the argumentative correspondence received by me. Those who have attributed my statement to my ignorance have done so probably to leave me an open door for a safe retreat. Unfortunately for me, I have left no such chance for myself. I cannot plead ignorance of the Satyarth Prakash or the general teachings of the Arya Samaj. I cannot even say that I might have been prejudiced against the Arya Samaj. On the contrary, I approached it with the greatest veneration. I had, as I still have, profound regard for the personal character of Rishi Dayanand. His brahmacharya was an object of emulation for me. His fearlessness commanded my admiration. And my provincialism, if I have any in me, was flattered by the fact of the Rishi being of the same little Kathiawar as myself. But I could not help myself. The conclusion I came to was in spite of me, and I published it only when its publication became relevant. Its suppression would have been a cowardly omission on my part. Instead of becoming enraged against me for an honest expression of opinion, I appeal to them to take my criticism in good part, examine it, try to convince me and pray for me if I cannot be convinced. Two letters have challenged me to substantiate my conclusion. It is a fair challenge and I hope before long to produce from the Satyarth Prakash passages in its support. My friends will not engage me in a religious discussion with them. I shall content myself with giving them the grounds of my opinion, So far as Swami Shraddhanandji is concerned, there is no question Of substantiating my opinion. My critics will oblige me by leaving him and me to ourselves. In spite of my opinion, I shall not quarrel with the Swamiji. Mine is the criticism of a friend. As for shuddhi, the critics in their blind fury have forgotten the qualification ‘as it is understood in Christianity or to a lesser extent in Islam’. This is quite different from saying that there is no proselytism in Hinduism. Hinduism has a way all its own of shuddhi. But if the Arya Samajists differ from me, they may still allow me to retain my opinion. If they will re-read the statement, they will discover that I have said that they have a perfect right to carry on their movement if they like. Toleration is not a coinciding of views. There should be toleration of one another’s views though they may be as poles asunder. Lastly I have not said that Arya Samajists or Mussalmans do kidnap women. I have said ‘I am told’. By repeating what I was told, I have given both the parties an opportunity of repudiating the charge. Was it not better that I should publish what was being said, so that the atmosphere might be cleared? Let me point out to my Arya Samaj friends that their protests betray want of toleration. Public men and public institutions cannot afford to be thin-skinned. They must stand criticism with good grace. And now for an appeal to them. They have almost all entered their protests. I do not mind them. I assure them that I share their sorrow. It pained me when I wrote my criticism. It pains me now to know that it has hurt them. But I am not their enemy. I claim to be their friend. Time will prove my friendship. They do not want to quarrel with anybody or any faith. That is what almost all have said in their letters. Let them take to heart the tribute I have paid to the Samaj, its founder and to Swami Shraddhanandji. I know the purifying work that the Arya Samaj has done. I know that it has laid its finger on many abuses that have soiled Hinduism. But no one can live on his capital. I want them to outlive the latter and extend the spirit of their reform. In spite of their denial, I repeat that their shuddhi propaganda savours of the Christian propaganda. I would like them to rise higher. If they will insist upon reform from within, it will tax all their energy and take up all their time. Let them Hinduism the Hindu if they believe with me that Arya Samaj is a part of Hinduism. If they consider it as distinct from Hinduism, I fear it will be a hard task for them to convert the Hindus. Let them ascertain where they stand. I have criticized because I want them to help the great national and religious movement that is now going on. The Samaj has a great future if it can outgrow what has appeared to me its narrowness.
BURY THE HATCHET NOW
The disciples of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati and followers of Mahatma Gandhi must bury the hatchet and move forward on the path of progress so that our motherland may attain the greatness that it was famous for in days of yore.
Mahashay Vishwanath Ji, a staunch Arya Samajist and a Gandhian, of the DAV College, Lahore fondly narrated an anecdote to me. Long ago in undivided India, he was on a Ved prachar mission in the interior of the Punjab beyond Multan. Hindi was neither spoken nor understood in that remote interior rural Punjab. Going in an ekka, he heard melodious bhajans in Hindi from a group of women WHO WERE ALSO WORKING ON THE SPINNING WHEEL OR CHARKHA POPULARISED BY THE SWADESHI AANDOLAN. Swadeshi was indeed so dear to both Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati and Mahatma Gandhi.
Here was a fusion of the Vedic spirituality popularized in the Punjab by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati emerging as bhajans in praise of ISHWAR and lessons in self dependence through the CHARKHA that rekindled the freedom spirit awakened by Mahatma Gandhi. We of the present generation are proud recipients of the rich legacy of both the Maharishi and the Mahatma.
Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM Email:aumchitranjansawant@gmail.com Mobile: 9811173590.
UPVAN 609, Sector 29, NOIDA – 201303

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MAHARANA PRATAP THE GREAT

MAHARANA PRATAP IS ETERNAL SOURCE OF INSPIRATION TO GEN X

 

 

AUM

          MAHARANA PRATAP THE GREAT

                 By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Military men and women who have faced the wily enemy across the borders and have been in the line of fire are indeed great admirers of Maharana Pratap Singh of Mewar. The sixteenth century scion of the House of Sisodias had faced the enemy, Moghul king Akbar, minor Sultans of Malwa, Gujarat and Vibhishans among the Rajput royal houses in the then Rajputana. Indeed he had the solid support of chieftains around Mewar and, of course, enjoyed the unflinching loyalty of the jungle tribes of Bhils who always protected flanks of the great Maharana in distress. The greatness of the giant among men, Pratap Singh, Maharana of Mewar lies in his leadership and capacity to motivate men in adversity and manage money and material in both war and peace. He worked with single minded devotion to duty as a Defender of the Faith, as a king of men and women who looked up to him to defeat the overwhelmingly large enemy forces and save their Mewar Desh and Hindu Dharm from annihilation. Maharana Pratap did not fail in his duty to protect and defend the Honour of his country and its people.

Maharana Pratap had inherited the qualities of grit and determination, the uncommon mental make up that inspired him to put Service to his subjects before physical and mental comforts of the Self and sustaining the moral courage that in turn built boldness in his personality  to face severe odds and Never Say Die. Above all, it was his spirit of Patriotism that inspired him to put at stake all he had for his beloved motherland, Mewar.

Patriotism made Maharana of Mewar, Pratap Singh Ji, a Great King who rose high to meet the challenge of the mighty Moghuls and not surrender his country, its honour and not submit daughters of Mewar to foreign barbarians to be ravished. Almighty Ishwar stood by Maharana Pratap and help came to him from unexpected quarters at the least expected time. Maharana Pratap was never cowed down by cowardice shown by his brother kings of the Houses of Jaipur, Jodhpur and other minor vassals who bent backwards to lick the feet of invading Moghul kings of Delhi.

Honour, Duty, Country – loyalty to people and rising above narrow minded sectarian interests were flowing in the  blue blooded veins of Maharana Pratap as he had inherited them from his ancestors – Bappa Rawal downwards through, Rana Kumbha who built Vijay Stambh in the Chittor fort after vanquishing the Sultan of Gujarat decisively.

The Moghul rulers of Delhi were no angels. The House of Sisodiyas of Mewar had been waging war with them for three generations without giving up for good. Babur had misinformed classes and masses that he invaded Hindustan at the invitation of Maharana Sangram Singh of Mewar, commonly known as Rana Sangha. Had it been so, Rana Sangha would not have fought a bitter battle against Babur where the latter broke his wine glasses of gold to convince his army that he would be a true adherent of Islam thereafter. Did he keep his word? Moghuls are mum on it.

Humanyu, Babur’s son, was constantly on the run after being defeated by Sher Shah Suri. He found shelter in the Hindu Royal House of Amarkot in Sindh where Akbar was born, protected by the Rajah of Amarkot when Humanyu was out of Bharat. Did Akbar or Bairam Khan repay this loyalty? Moghuls are mum.

Now, Maharana Pratap Singh Ji was doing his onerous duty to keep Mewar safe from the marauding Moghuls led by Akbar whom some ill-informed writers call the Great overlooking his massacre of the Hindus after capturing the Chittorgarh fort from Maharana Uday Singh II.

HALDIGHATI BATTLE

In the annals of bitterly fought battles, the Battle of Haldighati occupies a place of honour. I have had an opportunity to go there in mid-1980s while on an inspection visit to the Sainik School, Chittorgarh. I was indeed overwhelmed by the accounts of the Battle of Haldighati narrated by some knowledgeable lecturers of History. Hair raising accounts of the chivalry of Maharana Pratap mounted on his loyal war horse, Chetak, were heard by me and other tourists who chanced to be there.

Haldighati is a narrow pass in the Aravali hills, a couple of hours drive from the Chittorgarh fort. The earth there is yellowish in colour and thus acquired the name, Haldighati. When the Moghul army commanded in name by Prince Salim but in actual fact by Raja Man Singh of Amer, present House of Jaipur. Not too long ago, Raja Man Singh had visited Maharana Pratap with a proposal of King Akbar asking Maharana Pratap to accept the suzerainty of the Mughal ruler and undergo ignominy of sending daughters of House of Mewar to Akbar’s harem. Man Singh’s family had succumbed to greed of loaves and fishes and had surrendered Jodha Bai to Akbar. A self-respecting man and ruler like Maharana Pratap viewed the proposal with disdain and chose not to host a lunch for Man Singh pretending to be suffering from a severe headache. Man Singh’s coming to battle of Haldighati was indeed an act of revenge.

18th June 1576 when the battle was joined, Maharana Pratap fielded 22,ooo soldiers comprising Rajputs, Bhils, and a handful of Pathans. The Mughals fielded 200, 000 men in arms, mostly Rajputs and Muslims. When Muslim troops were bewildered by presence of Rajputs on both sides of the dividing line, they were advised to kill both as they were Hindus. In the defile of the narrow valley, the Moghuls could not deploy their full might of artillery and cavalry. When Maharana’s mounted men came charging drunk on Patriotism, the Mughal infanteers ran helter skelter. Even the big horses and horsemen of Salim and Mansingh took to their heels. The first round of the battle went in favour of the Maharana’s troopers.

As per the original tactical plan of battle, the Maharana’s army was instructed to fight in the hilly defile and not chase the fleeing Moghuls. However, in the first flush of victory, Maharana himself and his cavalry could not restrain themselves and chased the withdrawing enemy. In the heat of the battle, they followed fleeing Moghul cavalry beyond defile and descended to the plains where a huge Moghul army was waiting to surround them and give battle afresh. Some strategists are of the opinion that it was a ruse of the wily Moghuls to draw the Maharana’s forces out in the open and beat them from a position of advantage.

Maharana Pratap astride his loyal mount, Chetak, was looking for Raja Man Singh to keep his promise of meeting him in the battlefield. He strode at the gallop, at trot and at canter looking for his arch enemy who was hiding in the distant rear to save his skin. Pundit Shyam Narayan Pandey has aptly described the Maharana’s hunt for Man Singh in these words:

   “Rana doondhta Man Kahan, Chetak kahta Man Kahan;

   Bhala kahta Man kahan……..”

But Man Singh was not to be found.

The war horse Chetak knew what its master was looking for. An elephant was sighted and the Maharana zeroed on it. Chetak closed in, stood on the rear legs giving required height to Maharana for thrusting his deadly lance towards to howdah which had Salim seated in it. The attack of Maharana was so fierce that the Mahaut of the elephant was killed on the spot and the elephant ran away from the battle field screaming. Man Singh was not to be found as he was hiding in the distant rear.

In the heat and dust of battle, Maharana Pratap Singh got separated from the bulk of his army. The Mughal soldiers surrounded him and mounted attack after attack on his body and the steed. Soon came forward a loyal chieftain of Maharana, Sardar Jhala. He appreciated the battle situation and removed the Shirastrn and dhwaj-symbols of royalty, from Maharana’s persona and assumed them on his head so that attackers took him to be the Maharana of Mewar. It was an act of loyalty and patriotism of Sardar Jhala that saved Maharana’s life but the chieftain made the supreme sacrifice for the king and the country.

Maharana of Mewar made a tactical retreat so that he could fight a battle another day. He was followed by his brother, Shakti Singh who had joined the Moghals to vanquish his own brother. But now his brotherly love and patriotism came to the forefront. He killed two Moghul horsemen who were chasing the Maharana and caught up with his brother to shed tears and apologize for his treachery. Chetak fell exhausted and soon breathed his last because of numerous wound sustained in battle. The Maharana of Mewar shed tears and cried for his Chetak like a child. He, however, moved forward to plan for another engagement with the Moghuls on another day.

Maharana showed his prowess as a master strategist of the guerilla warfare when he moved into the Aravali hills. Moving from peak to peak, dale to dale, Maharans Pratap gave no respite to the Moghul troopers and kept them on their toes. Of course, he suffered from privations and penury but did not lose heart. Some accounts speak of his plans to move to the Sind province to garner military support from the Rajput princes there. Lieut Colonel James Todd, a great researcher and historian of Rajputana subscribes to this theory. In his monumental work entitled, “ Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan”, Col Todd is very appreciative of the grit and determination of Maharana Pratap to carry on his Patriotic Mission despite adverse circumstances.

BHAMA SHAH OPENED HIS PURSE

Bhama Shah had been a minister of the Sisodia kings for a long time. He, with the dint of merit and hard work had amassed a fortune. Now was the time for Bhama Shah to open his purse and let Maharana Pratap use it to carry on with campaign to keep Mewar free from clutches of the Moghuls of Delhi. Despite reluctance of Maharana Pratap to accept his generous offer of monetary help, Bhama Shah persisted and made sure that the King of Mewar utilized his generous offer to raise an army afresh and reconquer the fortresses from the Mughal forces and make Mewar an independent land of the Brave. Utilising the donation of that great philanthropist, Bhama Shah, Maharana raised an army of 25,000 soldiers and trained them in the art of warfare before equipping them with war horses and weaponry to match the Moghul army. The patriot Bhama Shah had donated enough money to sustain that Mewar Army for 12 years without drawing from the State Exchequer.

Maharana Pratap did exactly that and fulfilled the wishes of Bhama Shah. It was a dream come true.

PERSONALITY OF PRATAP JI

Maharana Pratap Singh also patronized fine arts and music whenever he was not engaged in fighting battles against the treacherous Moghuls of Delhi. The Maharana was quite humane and believed in the principles of war followed by the Rajputs, especially not sexually abusing women of the enemy forces. Once his son, Prince Amar Singh captured some royal women from the family of Rahim, Khan-e-Kanan who was a son of Bairum Khan, the mentor of King Akbar. Maharana had the women returned to Ramim’s palace unharmed. Rahim, also a poet, was so overwhelmed with the generosity of Maharana Pratap that he declined to join any Moghul military campaign against Maharana Pratap.

Maharana Pratap was loyal to his father, King Uday Singh II of Udaipur. His father had nominated his younger brother, Jagmall, a son of the youngest wife of Rana Uday Singh, to be king of Mewar. However, Pratap Ji accepted his father’s decision as a loyal son, despite being the first in the line of succession to the throne. However, the Rajput chieftains did not brook this injustice and physically removed Jagmall from the throne. They beseeched Pratap Ji to become the Maharans and that he accepted.

Born on Shukla Paksh Tritiya ,commensurating with 9th May 1540, Pratap Singh Ji had ascended thr throne of Mewar on 1st May 1572 at the age of 32 years. Although under political expediency Pratap Ji had solmnised eleven marriages but his first lawfully wedded wife, Maharani Ajabdeh took precedence and was with her darling husband through thick and thin. Their first born son, Kunwar Amar Singh had succeeded his illustrious father on his untimely demise on 29thJanuary 1597, age 57 years, as the Maharana of Mewar but suffered from the ignominy of contracting a Peace Treaty with King Jehangir of Delhi. Of course, Maharana Amar  Singh was exempted from making a personal presence in the Delhi durbar nor go through the insult of sending Rajput princesses of Mewar to the Moghul harem. After signing the Peace Treaty, Maharana Amar Singh was so overtaken by grief that he never made a public appearance thereafter.

Maharana Pratap Singh Ji was always true to his word. He never let down a friend and never stabbed a foe in the back. His personality is an ideal one to be emulated by the new generation of boys, irrespective of the Faith they subscribe to. He was a fierce warrior, a mellowed patriarch and a doting father to his 17 sons and five daughters. He treated all alike.

Once a battle was joined, he asked for no quarters and gave none. Maharana Pratap Singh Ji fought a battle against his enemies like a Dharm Yudh. Indeed Maharana Pratap was the BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE

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kailash mansarovar yatra via sikkim

AUM

                 

 

KAILASH – MANSAROVAR YATRA – PRESENT AND PAST

Blog by Chitranjan Sawant

AUM

PILGRIMAGE TO KAILASH VIA SIKKIM

–       By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi and President of People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping talked sweet things when the latter visited Bharat in September 2014. Gujarat’s hospitality overseen by Narendra bhai Modi touched the hearts of the honoured guests from across the Himalayas. Both the distinguished guests, Xi jinping and his wife, the first lady of China, Mme Li Pengyuan did a good turn to the common man in the host country. The First Lady, a soprano in her own profession of music and opera, sang a song in Hindi that moved millions who saw and heard on the national TV channels of both the countries. The President sat on the floor of the Sabarmati ashram dangling his legs from the plinth and looked absolutely relaxed with Narendra bhai charmed by his heart to heart talk.

Among myriad topics touched by the two leaders of neighbouring giants was the opening of an easy route for the Hindu pilgrims visiting holy Mount Kailash, 6700 Meters above sea level, and Lake Mansarovar, 4,600 meters above sea level covering an area of 400 sq Km, in the Autonomous Region of Tibet in the People’s Republic of China.


Premier Modi proposed and President Xi nodded assent. The result is there for the world to see.

The first group of Hindu pilgrims on way to the sacred places crossed the Nathula pass in Sikkim in June 15 and entered Tibet among fanfare and reception organized by the Chinese authorities. As a goodwill gesture the hosts presented pilgrims a jacket, a backpack and a blanket each that was appreciated by one and all.

Opening of the new route will make going easier and cut the arduous journey time from 20 days to just eight days or so. It will be more economical to go on pilgrimage to the most holy places of the Hindus, now affordable by economically weaker sections of the society. Further, the new route is safer and more convenient for senior citizens, both men and women. The mutual trust between peoples of Bharat and China will indeed be enhanced and permeate other fields of social, political and strategic exchanges flowing from the religious one.

The Nathula pass is located at an altitude of 4545 meters above sea level whereas the former route via Kumaon hills had to go across the Lipulekh pass situated at an altitude of 5,200 meters above sea level. The old route led to fatal casualties at times and generated fear in the hearts of older pilgrims.

Way back in 1993 I too had the proud privilege of being a pilgrim to holy Mount Kailash in the sixtieth year of my life. Akashvani (All India Radio) needed a comprehensive radio feature in Hindi on the two holiest of the holy places and chose me, an old war horse, to deliver the goods. I did not belie their great expectations. The radio connoisseurs called my radio features a work of art completed under trying circumstances compounded by inclement weather and merciless environment of high altitude. I thanked the AIR bosses for their complimentary words and returned home after collecting my cheque of remuneration, not a princely sum by any standards.

 

YATRA FROM ANCIENT TIMES

 

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra has been going on from time immemorial. When the present regime of China did not exist and Tibet enjoyed an independent status, the Hindu pilgrims from Bharat and elsewhere went to holy Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar on a pilgrimage. The pilgrims were not shackled by rules of passport and visa which were non-existent. Hermits, holy men and women, commoners and kings alike wished to go there once in a lifetime. Generally speaking the Yatras or pilgrimage started from Almora, a district headquarters in the Kumaon hills. They travelled in large groups and were on their own logistically. Their needs were simple and were easily met by local village shops enroute. The fear of theft or robbery was non-existent in the hilly region, also known as Devbhumi. How could Rakshas-like acts and omissions take place in a region permeated by godly virtues of religious travellers. Sexual crimes had not found their way in the lexicons of Yatris till then.

I have had an opportunity to interview a German couple on pilgrimage to the aforesaid holy places like we were. They stayed in a small bivouac overnight. I asked them that in that small sleeping space where their bodies rubbed against each other involuntarily, did they have an erotic feeling at dead of night. “None, whatsoever”, that was an emphatic reply of the burly husband whose petit wife nodded assent. I was impressed indeed! I too had lived a life ofBrahmacharya for the entire period of a month or so of the pilgrimage. It was a circumstantial compulsion in my case since I was a geographical bachelor for the period of pilgrimage.

Came the unfortunate 1962 war between India and China. The relationship between two friendly neighbours was soured for almost two decades. Of course, the Hindu yatris clamoured for reopening of a pilgrimage route, notwithstanding political and military relationship between the two countries. China was now firmly established as a fate dispenser of the Tibetan region and it was the central government in Beijing that called the shots. Both the countries entered into a negotiation to reopen the religious route along the traditional lines. The government control on the religious pilgrimage was loud and clear but the Yatra did start in the early 1980s. The pilgrims were constantly under surveillance and their trucks canopied on all sides like the ones of prisoners of war.

The tension was reduced gradually as the relationship between the two countries sweetened by amiable behavior of leadership of both the nations. Of course, friendly relations were never better than what they are now, thanks to Narendra Modi Ji and President Xi jinping. Our citizens hope that the mutual good relationship will proceed from good to better and the best. One day our Hindu pilgrims may see the dawn when they travel from Bharat to holy Kailash Parvat and Mansarovar Jheel unencumbered by passport and visa.

A question comes to mind about continuation of the old yatra route; the new one becoming more popular day by day. It is given to understand that both the yatra routes may continue to be operated because the number of pilgrims is on the increase year after year. Some pilgrims are taking the Nepal route too where there is no walking involved until one reaches the base camp of Kailash Parvat. The place is named Tarchhen or big flag in the Tibetan language, that can be seen from miles by pilgrims giving them solace that their goal is not far off. Thereafter one perambulates the holy mountain on foot or on the back of a Yak – a special species akin to bison of our jungles in India. In our case, the perambulation had taken two and a half days but it was not tiring.

The Yak is an animal of many utilities. It is a beast of burden and the female yak is milked for making butter and other goodies. There is no stirrup or reins, just a makeshift saddle of blankets tied with ropes that may shift with the shifting weight of the rider. However, even lady pilgrims cling on despite hazards created by wayward behavior of the male yak, especially when it sees a tuft of green grass – rather rare in the region. But even a fall may not cause an injury as the yak stands still thereafter.

Sometimes words of wisdom come from cowherds tending to cattle on the Tibetan plateau. During the Yatra, a nomad brought a silver sheathed steel dagger to sell as an antique to me. On being told that the price was 30 Chinese Yuan plus in the 1990s, I asked a cowherd standing there whether it was expensive. He gave me a sermon on Economics and said” Sir, if you need the dagger, the price is not expensive; if you do not need it, the price is very expensive.” I was impressed and bought the small dagger.

CALL OF KAILASH PARVAT

I am so enamoured of the beauty of holy Mount Kailash that I wish to go there again and again. The Vedic Dharm that I profess teaches that Ishwar is Omnipresent and is NIRAKAR – without a form and has no abode as such. Thus Kailash Parvat cannot be the permanent abode of God. Nevertheless the natural scenic beauty beckons despite hazards of the arduous journey. Likewise Lake Mansarovar reflects moods and shades of colours of the firmament and always looks bewitching. The hue changes from moment to moment and all hues of all moments are equally fascinating. One goes round the Lake Mansarovar on a pony back as the ground is sandy. We Hindus love to bathe in a lake or a river but the Tibetan Buddhists consider it sacrilege. Bathing dirties the purity of the lake water; so they say. They do not object to our bathing since we are from the Land of the Buddha, the founder of their faith.

It may not be feasible for me to visit Kailash Parvat or Mansarovar again since I am in my early Eightees now and rules forbid me to undertake the arduous journey in the high altitude of Tibet where the atmosphere is not conducive to breathing rarified air by super senior citizens. Nevertheless, Kailash Parvat and Lake Mansarovar come to my mind and are seen by my inward eye every now and them.

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