The desire of every living being is happiness and joy. But the definition of happiness and joy varies from individual to individual. Most people forget that the most important factor of real happiness for all living human beings and even animals is freedom or independence. No one likes to become or remain a slave. Money or luxuries which could be purchased with money do give joys, comforts and happiness but for short times. For human beings the real happiness comes by political independence and religious freedoms.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a great national leader of India had declared, “Freedom is my birth right”. This is the cry of all freedom loving individuals in all parts of the world. It is the basic nature of the soul within us. We often say, “I want to be my self.” Religious scriptures of India describe it with words like “Moksha or Mukti”.
In 1997 Bharat (wrongly called India) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of independence. India became independent on 15th August 1947. But the Independence-Day is celebrated on the 26th January because on that day in 1950 new constitution of India was adopted and people’s elected government was sworn in New Delhi.
The struggle of independence of India was lead by a great saintly personality of 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji entered the political arena of India during 1912 to 1915. Prior to this he had successfully fought for the basic human rights of Indian people in South Africa for 20 years.
During these years Gandhiji invented a new way of fight for freedom -Satyagraha. Satyagraha means fighting for truth against wrong laws of government. It is a path of civil disobedience. It is fight of an individual or the people against unjust laws of rulers. But the struggle must always remain a nonviolent fight.
When the people of India celebrate 50th year of Independence, they must not forget another important day, the 30th-January 1948. This was a day of death of Mahatma Gandhi- the father of the nation. He was assassinated by a fanatic Hindu within five months of freedom. These two dates of January will remain memories of joy and sorrow.
The path of Satyagraha shown by Gandhiji for gaining freedom has inspired freedom fighters in different parts of the world. Gandhiji had proved beyond doubt that it is possible to achieve freedom with weapons of non-violence and love. Martin Luther King Junior in America, Nelson Mandela in South Africa and Lech Warenza in Poland are the recent world leaders, inspired by Gandhian ideas. They adopted same path of nonviolent fights gainst their governments.
The struggle of Independence of India is unique and unprecidental in history. ‘Truth and Non-violence’ are preached in all religions. Gandhiji implemented these two principles from the Gita in politics and firmly adhered to these morals until his death. He inspired millions of students, men, women and leaders of all classes to respect these values and yet fight for the freedom of land.
People need to understand the root causes of slavery and poverty for an individual as well as a nation. When we celebrate independence day, we must also know how and why independence was lost. Prior to 11th century AD, India had glorious history of five thousands years of peace and prosperity. India was ruled by the Muslims for 600 years and by the Britishers for last 200 years. Why such a rich country became and remained a politically slave nation for 800 years?.
The story of independence gives two messages. Firstly it tells why a cultured and prosperous land having great scriptural heritage became a slave country. Secondly it also tells how the lost freedom was regained by adopting the correct scriptural doctrines of the Gita by Gandhij. A country becoms slave when some fundamental principles are ignored. Thus the study of history indicates root causes of slavery and suggests a way to regain the lost freedom. All young students should study the history of their land the history of India and the life of Mahtama Gandhi who lead the freedom movement for 50 years.
Short story of Independence movement.
Indian National Congress was founded by a Britisher in 1885. Its main aim was to give voice to people’s difficulties to British rulers. It was a body of leaders of various sections of people. They met once a year, passed some resolutions and forwarded them to the government.
But in course of 30 years this organization started asking for a minor share in the administration of India. This was called Home Rule movement. The idea of total independence had never occurred to the earlier leaders until 1930. Under the leadership of Gandhiji, the Congress held in Lakhnaw passed a resolution for getting complete independence. That date was 26th January 1930. Hence it was decided to adopt the new constitution on 26th Jan, in 1950 and celebrate this day as Independence day.
After passing this resolution, the first struggle of Salt Satyagraha was launched by Gandhiji. Minor other demonstrations went on for next 12 years
in different parts of the country. Then came the final phase in 1942.
My memories of the struggle of independence.
I vividly remember the days of QUIT INDIA movement. It was the first year of my college.. My age then was 19. Quit India movement started on the 7th August 1942. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting held in Bombay passed a resolution and ordered the Britishers to QUIT INDIA. It meant get out from our land. Gandhiji asked all students to stop attending government schools and colleges. All the leaders including Gandhiji were placed behind bars. But a great tidal wave arose. The mood and spirit of freedom created by the QUIT INDIA resolution in people’s minds was difficult to desist by the government. We did not go to college during the year of 1943. It was an economic and also career loss for many poor students like myself.
In the city of Ahmedabad nearly two thousand students arranged a procession. We wanted to bring down the British flag flying over our Gujarat college building and install the tricolor national flag. Slowly we approached the side gate of college. One British officer pointed his gun towards the silent procession. In the first column of the procession Mr. Vinod Kinariwala, a spirited student was holding the national flag. He refused to retreat or lay down the flag. He was shot at point blank range. He died a martyr’s death. Then police started hitting other students with sticks (Lathi).
I got injured in my forehead. We ran here and there. The scar today reminds me of the spirit of freedom aroused by Gandhiji in young hearts and minds of millions of people. It starts throbbing when I look at the political and religious scenario of India TODAY. A democratic India was ruled by the Nehru Dynasty for nearly 45 years. All noble principles were forgotten to preseve their power in politics. The congress party has lost its high image, respect and prestige.
I believe that India needs American type of “Presidential Rule” type of constitution and one federal language which must be English and not Hindi. English has today became the world language. The parliamentary system of British Pattern is an outdated heritage. It has increased the list of problems and failed to solve diverse needs and problems of India. We need British language, but need to give up the British constitution.
Before gaining independence, the country was divided into two territories, one non-sectarian India and a second religion based Pakistan. Pakistan had two land areas – the East wing and the West wing, nearly 700 miles apart. Communal riots broke out among Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan. Gandhiji appealed both communities and requested them to live in peace and harmony. By his divine nature, fasts, and a tour of Noakhali district in the East Pakistan during the last months of 1947, Gandhiji created an atmosphere of peace in the West Bengal and the West wing of Pakistan (Bangla Desh today).
Gandhiji wanted to go to Punjab and the West Pakistan. But a group of fanatic orthodox Hindus did not like his broad minded religious views and a black day came. He was assassinated by three bullets of Nathuram Godse, a fanatic Hindu on the 30th Jan, 1948 in Delhi.
Let us remember our Golden Heritage.
A few points about the golden period of India are worth remembering. The Vedas and Upanishads had evolved nearly 6 or 7 millenniums prior to the present century. But during the 6th century BC (2500 years ago) Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira started two well organized religions. They preached nonviolence and laid great stress upon this doctrine in religious practice. “Ahimsa Parmo Dharmaha”. It meant nonviolence must be the first important doctrine in any religion.
Peace was established in the sub-continent and political wars between different kings stopped. King Ashoka during the 3rd century BC established a moral government (Dharma Rajya) by adopting the preaching of Lord Buddha. Buddhism became a state religion and spread to many countries like Burma, Tibet, Combodia, Indonesia and Japan in the East, up to Greece in the West, Shree Lanka in the South, and China in the North. A golden age of progress, peace and prosperity prevailed in India for next 1600 years. Wonderful progress took place in all branches of knowledge like medicine, math, science, arts, literature, music, sculptures etc., during these centuries. But the effects of Buddhism decreased after affirmation of Shaivism and Advaita phillosophy by Adi-Shankaracharya during the 7th century AD.
The story of Shiva temple of Gujarat.
During the 10th century AD, a tribal king, Mohammed of Gazani invaded India and robbed the famous Shiva temple of Somnath in Gujarat. The fasts, rituals and bind faith in destroying powers of Lord Shiva failed to preserve the political and religious freedom of the people. The Shiva-Lingum was destroyed, tons of gold accumulated in the Shiva temple was looted, temple was demolished, thousands of women were raped and countless children were killed. Hundreds and thousands, men and women were captured as slaves and sold in the bazaars of Arab cities.
Some POWs escaped during the journey and came back to Somnath. But they were not accepted as Hindus by the orthodox priests and the misguided community, because they had drank water of the Muslims and ate their food. Untouchability was then and even today is the black spot of Hinduism. The forefathers of majority of the present day Muslim population of India and Pakistan were Hindus and not original Arabs. They were converted to Islam by political force and not accepted in the Hindu community. The Pundits and orthodox religious priests, even today possess this type of attitude towards men of different religions and untouchability.
Political slavery of recent 800 years.
The real political slavery of India started in the 12th century, when the ruling king of Delhi, Pruthviraj was defeated by another Muslim invader Shahbuddin Ghori. The Ghori dynasty was established in Delhi. Many Islamic kings and dynasties ruled over major land of India for next six hundred years. But in 1757, the Islamic rule came to an end, and the British rule was established.
England ruled over major parts of India for next 200 years. After political slavery of nearly 8 centuries, India regained its independence in 1947. It is worth noting that India was ruled by two strongly proselytizing religious communities of the world, the Muslims and the Christians. Yet the Hindus as a race, religion and a nation has not vanished. This fact has great historic significance when one looks at the religious history of the western world and the after effects of these two religions in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
Kings, Priests and Scientists in the West.
The contemporary picture in the Middle East and Europe is also worth studying. In the Middle-East, during the 7th century AD, Mohammed the messenger of God started the doctrines of Koran. This brought unity among countless Arab tribes fighting in the name of idols of different pagonic Gods. He declared that there is only one God, Allah. He asked his followers to spread the message of Allah and Koran. Great cultures in Iraq, Iran, Turky and many nearby countries vanished with the rise of Islam. Mohammed established a new religio-political order. The kingdom of Islam spread far and wide. The trading Arabs knew about the culture and prosperity of India. They also knew about the gold, jewelry and riches accumulated in many idol worshipping temples of India.
In Europe, the great Roman Empire came down in the 4th century AD, due to want of moral conduct and prides (Ego) of kings. The Vatican Church of Rome was established in the 5th century. the Rule of kings was replaced by Rule of religious people. Christianity spread far and wide due to its noble message of love and service of the oppressed and the poor humanity. But in next few centuries, the Church itself became a gigantic and rigid empire. Adherence to the word meaning of the Bible kept the people in dark for next 1000 years, and lead them into wrong beliefs of heaven after death. During the dark ages of Europe, India was at the peak of material prosperity in many branches of knowledge, arts, sciences and.culture.
In the 14th century scientists like Copper-Nicholas declared that globe earth is not a flat dish but a round globe. Galileo was imprisoned by the Roman Church for saying that the sun is steady and earth revolves around the sun. The Church refused to believe such statements because they were not written in the holy Bible. There is always a conflict between orthodox religious priests and men of science.
People of the Western world, only 5 centuries ago did not know that three big continents like North and South America, and Australia existed in the world. What ever we SEE AND KNOW TODAY is the result of a constant struggle between true scientists and fearless men of great adventures. The pursuit of truth and freedom is generally done by only a few spirited individuals.
The ocean sailing and trading countries of Europe like Spain, Portugal, England, France etc,.had started exploring a sea route to India. From East Asian countries goods like spices, silk, cotton, diamonds, gold, silver, jewelry, copper and brass utensils etc., were in great demand in Europe. They were transported by the Arab traders on camel backs via a long and unsafe land route. This route passed through, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turky and Greece. Columbus of Spain had sailed to find a sea route to India. He hit a totally unknown land in 1492, and thought he had touched Indian land. He called the local people Indians. Such mistakes of history remain for ever. The original residents of America are called Indians even today and there is a state called Indiana in America.
In 1498, Vasco-de-Gama of Portugal, circled around the Cape of Good Hope, located at the lowest part of Africa and invented the sea route to India. India was a rich and highly cultured country in all branches of human knowledge like religions, philosophy, astrology, mathematics, arts, dance, music, poetry, sculptures, agriculture and commerce etc., etc. The numbers from 1 to 9 & 0 were invented in India during the 4th century AD by Arya Bhatt. Only in the 12th century, the people of Europe learned arithmetic and multiplication tables from the trading Arabs. They were invented by a south Indian lady Lilavati, in the 8th Century AD.
A glance at the present 20th century.
Only a few events of recent times are listed here. This century has witnessed three great world wars. There was invasion of an Islamic Kuwait by another Islamic power Iraq. Religious hatred and constant wars are going on in places like Bosnia in Europe, and Palestine and Israel in the Middle East. There is an age old religious hatred among the Jews and the Arabs, though they are children of same Semitic forefathers. Man made famine and starvation prevails in Islamic Somalia, and many African countries like Zahir and Zambia.
The political system of communism has failed in China, North Vietnam and many European countries. Religious and ethnic problems are cropping up every day in Russia. People speaking different languages in border states of Russia want liberty and independence from the union of communist Russia.
Let us analyze two great events.
The second world war had divided the Nazi Germany. It became one nation recently and Berlin wall came down.
In Indian sub-continant there was division of Islamic Pakistan after a bloody war into two Islamic countries of Pakistan and Bangla Desh within only 20 years of independence. These two events testify that only religion by itself can never preserve unity in a Federal Nation. The eternal lesson of history is THIS. A country remains united by a common spoken language of the people. But the religious beliefs of people play an important role in preserving peace, prosperity and progress.
We should not forget the fanatic religious riots that cropped up in different parts of the world after demolition of a mosque in Ayodhya, the birth place of Hindu God, Rama. With the gifts of science like T.Vs, computers, inter-net and satellites today’s world has become a Global Village. Events occuring in one part of a country are seen alive in many parts of world before the neighbouring villages and cities learn about them.
The history of mankind is full of thousands of stories of mass man-slaughter due to false religious beliefs and political hatred created by castes, color, creed and cults, and religions fanatism propagated by priests and egocentric political bosses. Such events perturb hearts and minds of all people. But they happen according to fixed laws of God. Most people do not understand true religion and rules of One Supreme God.
What we can do TODAY in USA and India?
The freedom of an individual is associated first with his/her religious freedom and secondly with the political freedom. America is the best example of these two types of freedoms. This message is nicely relayed by the statue of liberty in New York harbor, which gives an invitation to all freedom loving talented people of the world to come to this land. America’s prosperity is due to this welcome attitude of knowledge, invitation to talents of the world, and a political system which has emerged during last 200 years.
The lesson of American history is this. Democracy gives two important freedoms- freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Democracy had started in Greece but it matured in France during the 18th century with three important mantra like words,- Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (spirit of brotherhood). We also find similar words in religious scriptures. A constantly vigilant and maturing political system has made America number one country in the world today. Democracy has lead to unimaginable progress of science and technology during last 40 years which has created a heaven on the earth in visible and material terms.
A person may be rich, healthy, possess the latest model T.Vs, computers, cars, a beautiful castle like residence on a river bank and move in his private airplane, but if he is not independent, then he is not truly happy.
Today’s world is in need of fresh light in social, economic, political and religious fields. India’s cultural and religious heritage and literature (wrongly called Hinduism), possesses many eternal principles which can bring true world peace during coming 21st century.
There is something unique in Indian culture and heritage also which we must study, understand, learn, remember and preserve. What is this unique quality? It is nicely expressed by Ikbal, a Muslim and patriotic poet of India.
Mazahab nahi sikhata, apasme bair rakhna,
Hindi hai ham vatan hi Hindosta hamara.
Kuchbat hai ki Hasti meet ti nahi hamari
Sadeeose rahahai dushman dore juba hamara.
Na samajoge to meet jaoge, aei Hindosta-walo,
Tumari dasta takbhi, na hogi dasta meri.
“Religion does not teach to keep animosity among neighbors. We are proud residents of a great country called Hindustan. There is something unique with us. That is why we have not vanished. But language has remained our greatest enemy since many centuries. If you do not understand this truth, then you will perish in the flow of TIME, but I will not be there to tell that story”.
We need to unite under a new theme of IGDS.
I request and urge all able, open minded and intellectual people of all faiths, sub-cults and classes of India and world religions to establish a new religious forum for study of all religions. This forum must take three vital aspects into consideration, namely science, religion and politics. These are the most important branches of knowledge and human co-existence. They are not separate water tight compartments as many priests and politicians think but they are inter-dependent and inter-related subjects.
No religion by it self can guide the people or become rigid laws for generations of the people. Rigid religious doctrines of any religion, like old Testaments, Commandments, Taboos and Punishments, can never bring ever lasting peace for all the people in any country at all the times. There is always need of revision and reforms in religious beliefs and political systems. The leaders of both these fields must always take into consideration the achievements and gifts of science. This type of attitude makes people truly peaceful, happy, liberated and prosperous. We are seeing this in America today. The amazing progress of science and technology, which has occurred in the present century- particularly during last 30 years only, cannot be ignored by priests and politicians. Hindu priests, Mahants and Maharajs call them as materialism. It is a wrong attitude. Knowledge coming from any corner or any person must be respected and welcomed. This is the correct attitude preached in our Vedas, Smruties and Upanishads.
A candle of new light and love for entire mankind has been ignited in India by Mahatma Gandhiji. The path of ‘non-violence and truth’ shown by Gandhiji and the Gita is being recognized more and more by the leaders of other nations. Let us unite and create a new religio-political world order for the 21st century. Let us welcome the gifts of science, and use it for better living conditions for entire mankind in the world of Tomorrow.
In my book “Mahatma Gandhiji, Ambassador of God for mankind in the 21st century” I have suggested a plan of International Gandhi Gita Dharma Sangh (IGDS). Now is the time to unite and propagate Gandhiji’s political, religious, social and economic views.
The need of family values, love and harmony is preached in Hindu scriptures, and in all religions. All religions preach there is one God and we are children of the same almighty and merciful Lord of Universe. Men and women are equal in the Eye of God. It is possible to prove Omni-presence of One God, His mercy and love for all creations, and his perfect Laws working for all beings in a scientific manner. IGDS is a new idea and forum of comparative study of world religions.
The study of the Gita and higher steps of meditation in Raj Yoga provide a scientific way of Seeing, Knowing and Uniting with One Infinite God of Universe. Only Hinduism possesses this kind of literature in the Gita and some Upanishads.
The sub-continent of India was a highly evolved land in sciences, culture and spiritual knowledge. Why India became a slave country? All curious students of comparative religions should read the following books, for the answers.
1. Experiments with Truth.- By Mahatma Gandhi.
2. Gandhi. – By Louis Fisher. Book from which the famous 8 academy awards winner “Gandhi” movie was created.
3. Freedom at Midnight.
May God give us divine vision, wisdom and courage to live with noble values, in peace of mind, non- violence, chastity and truth.
OM Shantihi, Shantihi, Shantihi.
Jai Hind, Jai Bharat, and Jai Mahatma Gandhi.