Friday, September 28, 2012

Gandhi: a “Bapu” (father) or not a “Bapu” . . . ?

Hi, Everyone! To showcase Savarkar in Burning for Freedom as he most certainly deserves to be, I also had to reveal the unsavory truth of Gandhi and his true role in the Freedom Movement of India.

The more I researched, the more shocking it was. The truth about Gandhi was horrifying in the extreme, indeed. The childhood dislike and suspicion which I held him in was a mere instinct; now I had concrete, documented proof to back it. I have put it before the readers of my novel at my emotional best. All through chapter fifteen to the end, I felt I was cutting my heart open and bleeding into the novel. The pain I felt for the Indians, for the Hindus, whose faith and trust in their Mahatma was so grossly abused is impossible to put in words.

Yet there are several truths about Gandhi that I could not write about as the plot did not allow it. But revealed they must certainly be! Not in just my words, but the words of other writers.

You may well ask why I consider it so important to reveal this truth.

Besides the very important fact that revealing the truth of Gandhi is necessary to vindicate Savarkar and bring justice to his name and memory—when the President of United States quotes Gandhi as an ideal, as President Obama did, when the schools in the U.S. teach Gandhism, it is the outside of enough . . . !

The truth must be revealed!

I shall be presenting in a series of upcoming daily blog posts some of the Gandhi episodes that distressed me to the very core of my being. Some of the titles are:

·        Gandhi: A British Mole . . . !

·        Gandhi’s modus operandi: “I preach, you practice”

·        “Non”Violent Gandhi . . . ?

So stay riveted day after day! The first of it is given below:

A ‘Bapu’ or not a ‘Bapu’ . . . ?

“Bapu”—father—is how Gandhi was fondly referred to by all. He also had an honorary title bestowed upon him, “Father of the Nation.”

Joseph Lelyveld, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, has recorded an incident that happened during Gandhi’s Tour of Mercy in Noakhali, 1946, during the horrendous rioting when Hindus were mercilessly raped and slaughtered, their homes gutted, by the Muslims there.

“On reaching a village called Nayanpur in the third week of the walking tour, Gandhi couldn’t find a piece of pumice he used to scrape his feet before soaking them. He’d last used it at a weaver’s hut where he’d stopped to warm his chilled feet. Evidently, Manu had left the stone behind. This was a “major error,” Gandhi said sternly, ordering her to retrace their steps and find it, which meant following a path through thick jungle in an area where assaults on young women were not unknown. When she asked if she could take a couple of volunteers, Gandhi refused. She had to go alone. The weaver’s wife had tossed the stone out, not knowing that the Mahatma counted it as precious. When Manu finally recovered it and returned, Pyarelal tells us, she burst into tears, only to be met by Gandhi’s cackle. To him, her afternoon’s ordeal was part of their mutual “test.”

          “If some ruffian had carried you off and you had met your death courageously,” he told her, “my heart would have danced with joy. But I would have felt humiliated and unhappy if you had turned back or run away from danger.”[1]

 Perhaps because I have a young teenage daughter, perhaps because I had cried till I had no more tears for the plight of the wretched, duped Hindus of yore (and even today?), or perhaps because it is such an unnecessary, petty, cruel, inconsiderate, and inhuman act which no decent human-being should have done—leave alone a Mahatma—I have chosen this incident to be the first to be presented.

I ask you:

·        In the midst of rape, riot, and ravaging of the devastated Hindus, should the Mahatma have worried over a mere pumice stone? A missing stone, a “major error” . . . !

·        Where women were still being raped, even in the presence of the Mahatma in Noakhali, should Manu have been forced by the Mahatma to venture alone on the lonely, treacherous path?

·        Would any “Bapu” put his daughter through that hell?

·        With what face did the Mahatma—himself travelling (as always), violating his ‘stout’ principles of nonviolence, protected by an Armed Guard and a Sikh Volunteer Corps—dare to say that he would have been “humiliated and unhappy” if Manu had run from danger?

I leave you with that thought . . .

Mahatma Gandhi facts: Gandhi Revealed

[1] Great Soul: Mahatma and His Struggle with India by Joseph Lelyveld; Alfred A. Knopf, Newyork, 2011; pages 315-316.
The original story is to be found here: “There will be no tears,” Mahatma Gandhi: Last Phase, vol. I, by Pyarelal; pp 321.

I first heard of the pumice stone when Keer made a reference in his biography of Gandhi that Gandhi reached "Patna with the piece of pumice stone with which his feet were daily cleaned."

How very odd! I thought to myself. Why did Keer make such a particular mention such an insignificant object? Months later the mystery was solved when I read "The Great Soul."

Since then I have realized than when researching one must stay alert to this seemingly arbitrary references by authors---they generally indicate that there is something to sniff out!


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