- Opposing Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya
The Pandit Again
We are glad that Pandit Malaviya is engaging our close attention. The learned Pandit is undertaking vigorous tours while the circus masters are busy with their electioneering campaigns. Our Tamil Nad is undergoing the ceremony of purification by the touch of the holy feet of the bhoo-suras. The cream of the face-born has turned its attention to the so-called masses. Malaviyas, Murthis, Iengars, Iyers and Sastris (generic brahmin caste names – editors) are spending days and nights in their dutiful work ‘for the country’. The words of ‘Swaraj’, ‘independence’, ‘Mother India’ and the like are spread in every atom of the atmosphere. Outbursts of eloquent oratory are ringing in our ears. Bashirs and Sabapathis are playing the Vibishana (1). The very oxygen that is inhaled by us contains cent percent partriotism. The ever wakeful eyes of the ‘Devas’ are riveted to our Tamil Nad, and the Seven Chiranjivis (Immortals) are pouring blessings upon the leaders of the intelligentia.
At one corner, there is our Pandit with his newly learnt queer interpretations of castes and untouchability, with his favourite Sanskrit slogas and quotations from Bhagvat Gita and with his burning anxiety to enthrone the poor God. The Pandit’s caste and temple entry have a meaning of his own, just as Mr. Gandhi’s varnashrama has got his own meaning. The Rama of these two leaders is quite different from the Rama of the world. The great Pandit from the north is solving the temple-entry problem just in the same way as the Saivites are solving it with the help of their Periyapuranam. His surprises at and protests against ‘a movement which is out to destroy caste’ are undergoing severe tests. His plea for the Hindu religion of which he poses to be an ardent advocate, ought to have come a thousand years back and that too, in other countries. The Pandit is learning day by day that fresh versions of Sanskrit sayings, which his memory is so capable of, cannot help him any more. The Pandit is painfully made to realize that South India is no longer the suitable ring for his acrobatic feats. He is finding his work unpleasant but not tedious. For, fortunately there are some people still who are unwilling to lose the opportunity of seeing a new tiger in the zoo. People may hate the tiger’s yawns, but they pay any amount to see a new animal.
At the other corner there are the South India patriots with their crowded programme of active tours and beach-trained oratory. Evidently, the lecture season has come in Tamil Nad. For the next six months and more there will be a busy trade in God and religion. The traders are already at their work, with a big capital behind them. It is rumoured that a long list of the achievements of these patriots is in the course of preparation. The trader knows as a matter of fact, that it is too late to trade on the Hindu Religious Endowments Act. Even in the last elections it did not pay them as much as they expected, hence there will be fresh commodities this year. The Chingleput conference (2) will furnish them with sufficient materials to be misinterpreted and misrepresented to the people, and there is the innocent Justice Party with its proverbial ‘anti-Congress views’, to bear the burden. There is the Self-respect movement to remind them of their long-forgotten God and religion. These facts can be usefully twisted and mended to serve the ‘patriotic’ purposes of the circus masters. If ‘Gandhi-ki-jai’ does not serve them as before, they will try ‘Swami-ki-jai’ or ‘Religion-ki-jai’. There will be not a village where ‘the sin of unsociability’ will not be talked of and there will be not a town where downpours of patriotism will not be showered. Instead of national songs, there will be tried some religious songs this year. If they find it too late to prepare a record of their work in the past, they can safely resort to vituperations on the Justice Party to which can easily be attributed the business of ‘job hunting’. Then the resolutions of the Chingleput conference can be utilized in the name of God and religion, if not the country. Both the Justice Party and the Self-respectors can be mixed up together at least to hoodwink the public and defeat the Justicites in the coming elections. And there are Kalyanasundrams and Varadarajalus who can be cunningly handled for propaganda through the press. It is enough if some more subscribers are promised for the ‘Navasakti’ and the ‘Tamil Nadu’ (3). They will dance to the tunes of the circus masters.
But alas, the public are not be so easily bamboozled as before, they have had enough of the South Indian patriotism, and its fire-eating promises. The people know how far the bureaucratic lion has been bearded in its own den; how far the ‘satanic’ British Government has been obstructed from functioning; how far the goal to Swaraj has been reached and how far the Independents are independent of honesty and straight-forwardness. They have seen how far the constructive programme of the Congress has borne results; how far unsociability has gone from the land; and how far they have sincerely attempted to drive away the drink evil. They have seen how far khaddar is feeding the ‘dumb millions’. It is no wonder then, that the ‘patriots’ have hit upon new promises of saving God and religion. ‘Vote for the Congress and protect your gods’, will be the election cry. For, are they not, being bhoo-suras (Gods on earth) bound to help their powerless heads?
‘The Millennium of Swaraj’, these nationalists used to say ‘will be as happy as Ramaraj’. And it is why Mr. Malavia enjoins upon the people to utter the ‘Mahayana’ mantra. Thereby he hopes to get Swaraj which is Ramaraj. And an audience of 10,000 at Kottayam shout out ‘Ravana-ki-jai!’ For they fear that under Ramaraj, they will have to lose the head of a Non-brahmin for the death of every Brahmin child. They fear the restitution of suttee, in the name of chastity. They fear the instalment of varnashrama in the name of religion. They fear more Brahmin Conferences in the name of Sanatana Dharma. They fear more impaling of the Jains and Buddhists by the worshippers of Siva (the God of Love). If under an alien Raj these orthodox bands of religious bigots are left to masquerade in the land and are allowed to use, in season and out of season, the treacherous weapons of God and religion, and thereby threaten the people into submission socially as well as politically, are not the submerged communities justified in dreading the Brahmin Raj, or worse than that, the Raj of the Vibishans?
Let us frankly tell these patriots that the public feel it extremely sickening to hear more of these priggish platitudes. It is no longer possible to hide the nakedness of the Swarajist promises. Let them however try their last trump card but let them only play out the game.
– Revolt, 17 April 1929