In this series of articles, we are introducing the book ‘How I Became Hindu’ by Shri Sita Ram Goel, to readers old and new. Late SR Goel is one of the leading intellectuals & writers of Independent Bharat, whose work was subsequently marginalised & suppressed by the left-leaning academic establishment. We are grateful to VoiceOfDharma.org for making this treasure trove of books/articles available for the common public.
9. Nightmare Of Nehruism (Part d)
I was feeling happy once again when Ram Swarup told me that my boss was under some sort of a pressure because of my book. I went to him straight and asked him about the nature of the trouble. He became angry, and said, “There are Communists in our organization, and Socialists, and Jan Sanghis. All of them have freedom to express their opinions. Why should people object when you say what you believe intensely? This is supposed to be democratic country. I am not going to yield, whatever the consequences.”
I told him that I did not want to jeopardise his position, and that he could provide protection to me again if he stayed in his place. Then, I called his stenographer and dictated the draft of a letter terminating my services with immediate effect. My boss objected. “I thought,” he said, “you were resigning. I am not sacking you.” I said, “I have no honour to save. I am not going to get another job in Delhi. The only gain I care for right now is the three months’ salary I will get if I am sacked. What do I get if I resign?” He got the draft typed, and signed it. As he handed the letter to me, I could see him fighting tears in his eyes. It was January 1964. I was on the street once again.
In the year 1964, Pandit Nehru was in no better position. He was alive. But the pep in him was gone. So also the bluster which he had used all his life to beat down his opponents. It was only the progressive brood he had spawned which was keeping his corpse propped up on the throne in the interest of its own survival. The leader was being made to look like a colossus in the very hour of his complete collapse. I remember very vividly what happened in the aftermath of our humiliation at the hands of the Chinese Communists in the winter of 1962.
The house that Pandit Nehru had built lay in shambles all around him. His pretensions as the custodian of world peace had been badly punctured by those very Chinese Communists whom he had promoted no end, and from every platform. In fact, he had become the laughing stock of the world in view of the sermons he had read to it earlier, day in and day out.
The Soviet Union which he had served so well through thick and thin, and for years, had come out openly on the side of “our Chinese brethren”. His Arab and Afro Asian friends stood strictly aloof, practising the art of non alignment they had learnt from the postmaster. And he was crying desperately for help from quarters he had decried all along as “the camp of capitalism, colonialism, and War”.
Nearer home, the Communist Party of India which he had patronized and promoted into a formidable political apparatus, was shying away from him. The majority in it will soon swear allegiance to Chairman Mao. The Muslim minority which had prospered no end under his Secularism, was more than happy at Bharat’s defeat and humiliation. It will wait for Pakistan to profit from Bharat’s predicament.
The Second Five Year Plan which he had hailed in the hope that Bharat would soon emerge as an industrial giant, had brought the country to the verge of a country wide famine. His immediate successor, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, will face the grim situation in 1965-66.
By every canon of normal human reason and political sanity, it was time for stock taking. The people at large were waiting for the discredited leader and his decrepit team to depart from the scene. They were in a mood to stand up and say, “You have been here too long for whatever worth you are. Now, in God’s name, go!” But what I saw was the other way round. The leader as well as the team walked out of the turmoil not only unscathed but triumphant and truculent. The stock taking that took place was in the camp of the innocents.
Pandit Nehru had been in the habit of threatening to resign, every now and then. It was his patent method of making the people protest that he was indispensable, and that the country would face ruin without him at the helm. He had succeeded every time in raising a storm in his favour, and discrediting whomsoever he chose to hound out of public life. This time he kept sticking to the throne like a limpet.
In the words of Brigadier Dalvi, he did not have the decency even to go through the motions of resigning. All he had to do was to compose some poetry about “getting out of touch with reality in the modern world” and “living in an artificial atmosphere of our creation,” and the establishment asked the people to shed tears.
The flock of the faithful as well as the sycophants sprang into action as never before. A cry reverberated across the country that Nehru’s hands needed strengthening for “beating back the reactionaries who want to put the clock back, and tiding over the national crisis”. A mammoth procession led by Comrade S.A. Dange marched to the Parliament house, thundering in support of the “Great Leader and his policies of peace and progress”.
I saw Pandit Nehru with my own eyes, standing on the parapet and watching the procession as it reached near the northern gate of the Parliament house. But the very next day he denied that he was there.
The climax of this calculated operation was reached in the Kamrai Plan which followed soon after. Congress leaders who had no say in the shaping of national policies, foreign or domestic, were eased out of the positions they held in the Government, both at the Centre as well as in the States. They were “needed for party work among the people”. Nobody was deceived.
Mahavir Tyagi told Pandit Nehru to his face, “Yaron ke sir kata kar sardar ban gaye (So you have become the headman by getting the heads of your comrades chopped off)!” But nobody dared challenge the cynical exercise. Pandit Nehru and his flock had another field day.
Had Pandit Nehru been only an individual who had risen to the top on the strength of his own merit, or because circumstances had conspired to catapult him into power, his glory would have departed when his leadership suffered a serious set back in 1962. The human norm that nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like failure, would have applied to him also. Had the ideology he had espoused been his personal choice, it would have gone into oblivion with the tragic end of the era over which he had presided. But what has happened is just the opposite.
The graver the faults that have came to notice in Pandit Nehru’s character as a man, as a political leader, and as a thinker, the more frantic has been the effort to prop up his image. The greater the failure that policies pursued by him have suffered, the louder has been the clamour to continue them in their pristine purity. It appears that a whole establishment has been hell bent on selling Pandit Nehru as a permanent hero, and Nehruism as a panacea for all ills, at all times.
Small wonder that the “great man’s daughter”, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, succeeded in riding roughshod over all sorts of “reactionaries” in the Congress Party and the country at large. The progressives flocked to her camp from every corner, and made her loom large like her father. She surrounded herself with Communists and fellow travellers of all hues, recruited directly and openly from the Communist Party of India and its fronts.
They helped her to the hilt to push her father’s policies farther afield. In the bargain, they monopolized all positions of power and prestige in the Congress Party, in the Government, in the voluntary agencies, in the media and the academia, in short, in the whole establishment. A Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was created for collecting Stalinist professors from all over the country, and financed on a fabulous scale. The arrogance with which the professors started speaking on every subject under the sun, had to be known in order to be believed.
In the next few years, the Nehruvian flock multiplied fast, and several fold. Now it felt strong enough to demand a committed Congress Party cadre, a committed Parliament, a committed press, a committed judiciary, a committed bureaucracy, and a committed armed force. The only commitment which was neither remembered nor mentioned any more was the commitment to democracy that had been sold, particularly by Pandit Nehru’s supporters in the USA, as the hallmark of Bharat’s “experiment in Socialism”.
Nehruism had come out in its true colours. The country had been reduced to a private fief of the Nehru dynasty, and pulverized by those who pretended to be its custodians.
The emergency that followed was not at all an ad hoc idea adopted for meeting an abrupt situation. The idea of imposing an authoritarian rule on the country had been maturing in the minds of the Nehruvian flock for years before it materialized in the life of the people. The situation, too, was being shaped in that direction by the self righteousness and consequent high handedness that had accompanied the idea.
The seeds sown by Pandit Nehru were flowering, and bearing fruit. Once again, his flock was in the forefront of the “battle being waged for beating back the forces and fascism”. And by the time Mrs. Indira Gandhi realized what was happening on the ground, it was already too late. Much mischief had been done in the meanwhile. Key institutions of the country had been subverted. They have never been the same again.
The story of how I survived and stood on my feet once more is no uncommon story. There is no dearth people in the world who suffer setbacks, struggle, and come up again. Sometimes it is help from unexpected quarters. Sometimes it is hard work. Sometimes it is sheer good luck. In my case it was all three.
A cousin came to my help, and gave me not only moral support but also the material means I needed. I worked very hard. Above all, I had lots of good luck. In the next four years, I succeeded in building an independent business.
During the years 1964-1977, I took no part in the public life of the country. I just watched the events unfolding and taking the country downhill. A friend taunted every now and then that I was after all a “bloody bania (merchant)” who had reverted to his right profession. Another friend complained that he missed my style of writing, though he had never liked that style. What could I say? I was in no position to convince anyone about anything.
There was a brief interlude in 1967-69 when various opposition parties came together and formed Samyukta Vidhayaka Dal (SVD) Governments in various States all over North Bharat. But most of it was no more than a show of rowdyism which rehabilitated the Congress Party in the eyes of the people. For the rest, it was Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s slow till she imposed the Emergency in June, 1975.
My participation in public activity in 1977, on the eve of the historical General Elections, was brief. I was invited to join a group which was entrusted with the job of preparing press releases for the combine which was ranged against Mrs. Indira Gandhi. It was in this group that I met Shri Arun Cheerio for the first time. What I noted about him was that he was extremely polite and soft spoken. I had no notion at that time that in the years to come he was going to emerge as the foremost scholar journalist and to present national problems in a correct perspective.
People’s enthusiasm for the combine against Mrs. Indira Gandhi had to be seen in order to be believed. The meetings addressed by leaders of the opposition attracted vast crowds. On the other hand, the meetings of the Congress Party, even those addressed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi, were thinly attended. I saw a meeting in which there was no audience, only the Congress leaders sitting on a large platform. The man who had supplied the carpets and the chairs was worried that his goods were going to be stolen as nobody was sitting on them.
Equally unprecedented were the scenes when the results came out. My journalist friend from America was in Delhi. By now he had become the Chief Editor of the prestigious Forbes Magazine published from New York. He was amazed when he saw the people dancing in the street outside newspaper offices on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg. He said he had not witnessed such scenes when Bharat became independent in 1947.
I must confess that I was also carried away by the popular enthusiasm, and thought that things were going to change at last. The only one I saw keeping his cool, was Ram Swarup. He was happy that the Emergency was over. But he did not expect much from the combine which soon became the Janata Party.
He said to me several times that people did not change simply because they gave themselves a new party label. He had been saying for some time that in Bharat there was a multiplicity of parties but a unity of slogans. He proved right in a matter of days. The Janata Party turned out to be another bunch of rowdies except for its Jana Sangh component, and reminded one of the SVD days.
I had lost contact with the RSS-BJS leaders after my experience with them in 1962. But I had not lost interest in what was regarded as the only Hindu movement still alive. The Arya Samaj and the Hindu Mahasabha had become more or less moribund. The Ramakrishna Mission and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram were busy proving that they were universal rather than Hindu. But the reports I received about developments in the RSS-BJS were pretty depressing.
The BJS had been taken over more or less completely by the windbag. He shared not only Pandit Nehru’s ideology but also the latter’s temper when it came to dealing with party colleagues. He had succeeded in silencing or hounding out those few in the BJS who had the courage to say that they did not subscribe to the Nehruvian consensus on Socialism, Secularism, Non Alignment, and the rest.
I wondered whether all this was happening with the active or passive assent of the RSS bosses. Some people said, yes. Others said that the RSS bosses were helpless in the face of the windbag’s popularity and pull with the crowds.
I had a chance to go to a public meeting addressed by the windbag in December, 1971. We were at war with Pakistan over the liberation of Bangladesh. The latest reports said that a US fleet had sailed from Bangkok and was heading towards the Bay of Bengal. It was a time for worry. But the windbag thundered, “Amrika ka jo beda Bangal ki khadi ki aur badh raha hai, uske ek jahaz wapas nahin jane paye (not a single ship of the American fleet advancing towards the Bay of Bengal, should be allowed to go back).” The crowd gave him a standing ovation. I wondered whether he knew what the US fleet represented, and I walked away. It was the first public meeting of the windbag which I had ever attended. It proved to be the last.
The metamorphosis of the RSS was no less noticeable. The RSS had never cared to understand Islam or its dynamics in Bharat. I had heard with my own ears Guru Golwalkar proclaiming from a public platform that he honoured Islam no less than his own Hindu Dharma, that the Quran was for him as holy as the Veda, and that he regarded Prophet Muhammad as one of the greatest men known to human history.
Some RSS leaders, therefore, felt fulfilled when they came in close contact and fraternized with the mullahs of the Jam’at-i-Islami, while they were together in jail during the Emergency. I myself heard some of them saying, “We were in the dark about Islam till we met these Muslim divines. Now we know what Islam really stands for.”
I asked one of them, “Have you ever studied the classics of Islam on your own? How could you judge that what the mullahs were selling to you was not misinformation?” He smiled, and dismissed me as incorrigible. I could see that there was a will to believe in what the mullahs had presented as Islam. There was no problem if Islam was that wonderful. It was as simple as that.
So the RSS-BJS had fallen fully in fine with the Nehruvians and earned in full measure the treatment they received from the Congress and Socialist components in the Janata Party. In spite of the fact that the RSS-BJS had suffered the most and sent the largest number of men to jail during the Emergency, and in spite of the fact their presence in the Parliament was also the largest, their status in the Janata Party was no more than that of cup bearers whom anybody could kick.
To start with, there was a whispering campaign that the Party was in danger of being taken over by the communalists. Next, the Socialists launched an open campaign that either the RSS should become boy scouts of the Janata Party or the Jana Sanghis in the Party should sever their relation with the RSS. Finally, the RSS was asked to drop the word Hindu from its constitution and admit Muslims in its ranks.
The windbag who was the leader of the Jana Sangh group in the Janata Party endorsed the demand of the Socialists. He wrote an article in the Indian Express saying that the RSS was after all a political movement, and as such should have no hesitation in parting with its “cultural pretensions”.
Shri L.K. Advani was the only one in the Jana Sangh group to state publicly that he was proud of his association with the RSS. But he had counted without the RSS bosses. They readily agreed to consider the Socialists’ proposal in their next General Body meeting. The situation was saved only by the fall of the Janata Government in 1979.
A friend who was an insider of the Janata Party told me that the Soviet President, Kosygin, who was on a visit to Bharat during the Janata Party days, did not feel quite sure how his meeting with the Minister of External Affairs would turn out. He was under the impression that the Minister belonged to a reactionary movement. But when he met the Minister, he was pleasantly surprised to find that “this guy is more progressive than my own Communist comrades in Bharat”.
There was a move to replace our ambassador in Moscow appointed during the Indira Gandhi regime. The ambassador was known to be Moscow’s man rather than Bharat’s envoy. The Minister put down his foot “Nothing doing. He is one of my best friends.” He also tried to get into the Rajya Sabha a well known columnist who has been a lifelong Hindu baiter and an ardent advocate of every Islamic cause.
Failing that, the Minister pulled away Syed Shahabuddin from the latter’s desk in the External Affairs Ministry and sent him up to the Rajya Sabha as “the right type of Muslim leader we have been looking for”. Syed has not failed his sponsor in Bharat’s politics.
The crowning glory of the windbag, however, was the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the formulation of its philosophy as Gandhian Socialism. In the new party’s flag, the green colour Of Islamic jihad shared honours with the bhagwa (ochre) colour of Hindutva.
Nobody in the RSS or the BJP seemed to know or cared to remember what the Islamic colour had stood for in the history of Bharat, and what it signified for Bharat’s future. So we had one more platform for shouting Nehruvian slogans. Only it proved to be one too many in the 1984 General Elections. People decided to vote for the original and the genuine Congress Party rather than for its carbon copy.
I resumed my regular meetings with Ram Swarup in 1977, after a long lapse during which I was busy building a business. By now I was more or less free from family responsibilities also. The discussions that developed were very rewarding. The most frequent theme was the character of Islam and Christianity, and what these closed creeds aspired to do to our people and culture.
Meanwhile, Islam had resumed its offenses in Bharat. Petro dollars from oil rich Islamic countries were pouring in for equipping all sorts of Islamic missionaries and militants. A Muslim weekly had put it straight. Allah, it said, was not a fool to have put all that wealth under the floor of Islamic countries. Muslims, it asserted, were meant to be masters of the world. And Bharat, it pointed out, was their unfinished business. Similar articles had appeared elsewhere in the Islamic world.
At the same time, the Christian missionary apparatus had perfected its theologies of Indigenization and Liberation. The theologians had no doubt that Bharat was destined to be the land of Jesus Christ. Leading lights of the national revival such as Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi were being portrayed as devotees of “the only Son of the only True God”.
The most depressing aspect of the whole situation, however, was that there was practically no voice of protest against these forces of subversion. The methods and means which these forces were mobilizing had not even been noticed. The only movement which was supposed to be a Hindu movement and expected to come to the defence of Hindu society and culture, was busy proving its secularist credentials.
The Janata Party swore more by Mahatma Gandhi than by Pandit Nehru. But it was not the Mahatma Gandhi who had proclaimed that he was a staunch Sanatanist Hindu. Instead, it was a Mahatma Gandhi invented by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia for window dressing his own variety of Secularism. Small wonder that Imam Bukhari of the Jama Masjid in Delhi was striding the scene like a colossus. Politicians of all hues were paying homage to him. He had never had it so good.
Ram Swarup was feeling disturbed. He had no doubt that Hindu society was in for great trouble. He had been studying the scriptures of Islam and Christianity during the past several years, and had gone deep into their most orthodox sources. He had come up with the conclusion that they were not religions but cruel and intolerant ideologies like Communism and Nazism. The spread of these ideologies in Bharat, he said, was fraught with fearful consequences for whatever had survived of Hindu society and culture in the only Hindu homeland.
Around this time, I had an occasion to read the typescript of a book he had finished writing in 1973, and laid aside. It was a profound study of Monotheism, the central dogma of both Islam and Christianity, as well as a powerful presentation what the monotheists denounce as Hindu Polytheism. I had never read anything like it. It was a revelation to me that Monotheism was not a religious concept but an imperialist idea.
I must confess that I myself had been inclined towards Monotheism till this time. I had never thought that a multiplicity of Gods was the natural and spontaneous expression of an evolved spiritual consciousness.
My mind went back to 1949 when I had read Ram Swarup’s typescript, Russian Imperialism: How to Stop It. He had followed it up in 1950 with his Communism and Peasantry: Implications of Collective Agriculture for Asia. These books had made me sit up vis-a-vis the menace which Communism represented. Now I sat up vis-a-vis the menace represented by Islam and Christianity. I decided to publish Ram Swarup’s new magnum opus. It was titled The Word As Revelation: Names of Gods when it was brought out in 1980.
Our friend from college days and now the Chief Editor of The Times of India, Girilal Jain, rang me up after reading this book, and said, “Sita, Ram Swarup has written the book of his life, and you have published the book of your life.” It was reviewed in The Times of India by the noted Aurobindonian, Dr. Sisir Kumar Ghosh, under the caption, “Return of the Gods”. The reviewer had pinpointed the central theme in Ram Swarup’s reflections.
As our discussions developed, I found that Ram Swarup was concerned more about the menace from Islam than that from Christianity. He observed that Christianity had its teeth knocked out in the modern West, and that though it was still capable of doing considerable mischief in Bharat, it was bound to collapse as soon as its rationalist review in the West became known to our people.
Islam, on the other hand, had so far remained free from even a rationalist review. Hindu saints and scholars had hardly ever questioned its exclusive and superior claims. The only exception was Swami Dayananda. In recent times, the Hindu refrain had been that Islam taught the same truths as Hindu Dharma.
The slogan of sarva dharma samabhava was providing grist to the mills of Secularism, the smoke screen behind which Islam and Christianity were stealing a march. Add to it the systematic distortion of Bharat’s history which the Stalinist historians of Aligarh and the JNU had undertaken from their power positions in the Nehruvian establishment. They were insisting that Islamic heroes be accepted as national heroes, while they were converting Hindu heroes into villains.
Ram Swarup was not satisfied with a merely rationalist review of Islam and Christianity. He wanted these ideologies to be processed from the point of view of yogic spirituality of Sanatana Dharma. And he had developed the framework for placing these creeds where they belonged in the scale of yogic consciousness.
Our problem, according to Ram Swarup, was not Muslims but Islam. An overwhelming majority of Muslims in Bharat (including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) were our own people. They had been alienated from us by Islam. But Hindu society had remained preoccupied with the Muslim behaviour pattern, while bestowing praises on Islam as a great religion. This was suicidal for Hindu society. The Muslim behaviour pattern had to be traced back to the belief system which sanctioned it. It was the belief system which had to be exposed.
A marked feature of the Muslim behaviour pattern had been the Muslim proneness to take to the streets on the slightest pretext street riots had been used by Islam as a major weapon for carving out Pakistan. They were being used in the Bharat that remained for enforcing all sorts of Muslim demands. And street riots by Muslims cannot be stopped unless Islam was cured of its aggressive self-righteousness. Hindus were doing exactly the reverse of what should be done. They were blaming the Muslims and not Islam which provided the inspiration for street riots.
Ram Swarup was sure that the only effective way to stop street riots was to move the Hindu-Muslim dialogue from the streets to the level of human minds. That was possible only if Hindus studied Islam from its own sources, and rejected its claims. So long as Hindus recognized Islam as a religion, it was unlikely to shed its aggressiveness and accept peaceful coexistence.
We had the precedents of Christianity and Communism before us. Christianity in the West had to shed its self righteousness and reform itself when it was subjected to a free and frank discussion in modern times. The ideological spread of Communism also had come to a halt in the Western democracies when Western scholars examined its tenets and made them known to the people at large.
(to be continued…)
Book: How I Became Hindu
Author: Sita Ram Goel
Published by: Voice of India
Did you like this article? We’re a non-profit. Make a donation and help pay for our journalism.