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 b)
I happened to be in Delhi towards the end of 1947 or in early 1948, and went to see my journalist friend from America. As I have mentioned, he had left Calcutta for Delhi soon after Bharat became free. As I sat down with him in the Coffee House, he said, “Sita, who does this man think he is? Almighty God?” I asked him, “Who? What has happened?” He told me the story of some Sadhus who had sat down on an indefinite fast near Pandit Nehru’s residence in New Delhi, and were seeking an assurance from him that cow slaughter would be stopped now that the beef eating British had departed.
My friend said, “I had gone there to take some pictures, and gather a report. American readers love such stories from Bharat. But what I saw was a horror for me. As I was talking to one of the Sadhus who knew some English, this man rushed out of his house accompanied by his sister, Mrs. Pandit. Both of them were shouting something in Hindi. The poor Sadus were taken by surprise, and stood up. This man slapped the Sadhu who had moved forward with folded hands. His sister did the same. They were saying something which sounded pretty harsh. Then both of them turned back, and disappeared as fast as they had come. The Sadhus did not utter so much as a word in protest, not even after the duo had left. They had taken it all as if it was the normal thing.”
I observed, “But in the case of Pandit Nehru, it is the normal thing. He has been slapping and kicking people all his life.“ He concluded, “I do not know the norm in your country. In my country, if the President so much as shouts on a citizen, he will have to go. We take it from no bastard, no matter how big he happens to be.” I kept quiet.
Now that I have read Pandit Nehru’s writings and speeches extensively, and know of the policies he followed, I can say with full confidence that this incurable bully was an incurable coward as well. One has only to piece together his behaviour pattern in different contexts, and towards different people. One can see quite clearly that at the time that he was crawling and cringing before Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League, he was being high and mighty with the Hindu Mahasabha and its leaders.
Later on, he was thundering against the RSS, and at the same time crawling before the Communists in Bharat and abroad who were lambasting him as a running dog of American imperialism. He could never help licking the boot that kicked him, while heaping humiliations on those who were in no position to hit back, or who did not know how to tell him his place.
The story of how we started our anti communist work in 1949 by supporting Pandit Nehru and his Government, and how we discovered in due course that the man was a committed Communist, has been told by me elsewhere. Here I want to narrate the story of how I fared as a committed Hindu in an atmosphere surcharged with Nehruism.
My philosopher friend of college days had come to Calcutta in 1955 in connection with the publication of his Ph.D thesis. He was quite a Nehru fan at that time, and believed that everything was fine with Bharat under Nehru. I added a proviso “so long as you do not say or write something critical on subjects where Nehru has laid down the line.” He would not believe me. I asked him to write a critical article on Bharat’s model of planning or on Bharat’s foreign policy, and get it published in some prestigious paper. He accepted the challenge.
On his return to Delhi, he found that he had became famous among the economists there because of an article he had written on Socialism versus Capitalism. The article had been published in a learned journal in England, and hailed by some scholars of standing in that country as well as in France. A well known professor of economics in the University of Delhi promised to create a special fellowship for him. The editor of a well known weekly on economic affairs, published from Delhi, invited him to write a regular column.
He, however, remembered my challenge. After contributing a few conventional articles to the weekly, he wrote a critique of Bharat’s planning. The editor published it all right, but told him plainly that no more articles from him were needed. And the professor dropped him like a hot potato as soon as he read his latest article. Next, he wrote a critique of Bharat’s foreign policy, and sent it to several dailies and weeklies of standing, one after another. All of them returned it with a typed chit regretting their inability to entertain it. He could confess only in an obscure weekly that he had lost the bet to me.
By the time I returned to Delhi in May 1957, Pandit Nehru was at the zenith of his power and prestige, in Bharat and abroad. The Second Five Year Plan, patterned after the Soviet model, had been launched with great fanfare as the harbinger of a socialist era in Bharat’s history. The Americans had plumped for the Chester Bowles line that Nehru’s “New India” was a great experiment in “democratic development” in contrast to the totalitarian path chosen by Red China. But these were minor compliments to the “greatest Indian after Asoka and Akbar”.
What he himself prized above everything else was his image as “the custodian of world peace”. A sycophant press in Bharat and a fellow travelling one abroad, had built him up into larger than life size. I found it difficult to believe my ears when I heard it again and again, and from people in long pants, that “but for the presence of Panditji at this critical juncture in human history, the two big powers will blow the earth to bits in an atomic holocaust”. There was hardly a speech in public meetings or scholarly seminars which did not begin with the words, “as our beloved Prime Minister, the apostle of world peace, has pointed out…”
This was the heyday of delegations to and from the Communist countries, particularly the Soviet Union and Red China. Not a week passed without some notables returning from this or that Communist country, and making statements about the “wonders we have witnessed with our own eyes”. At the same time, the Western democracies, particularly the United States of America, were being painted in the darkest colours. They were the “enemies of peace, progress and prosperity of the people, particularly as regards the people of Asia”.
If one got branded as pro American for whatever reason, one had to hang one’s head in shame. Saying something less than flattering about Communist regimes, or Communist parties, or Communism itself, was the surest way to acquiring a pro American reputation, no matter whether one was really for America or not.
Those who counted in the public life of the country were either progressives of the correct brand, or were trying to pass as such. They took good care to frown upon or at least avoid all contact with those who had suffered the misfortune of being branded pro American. Small wonder that as a pronounced and well known anti communist I was regarded as a questionable character in respectable circles.
This was also the heyday of what was known as voluntary effort for national development. Voluntary agencies had mushroomed in every field, all over the country. Every other public spirited person you met in those days, was either running a voluntary agency or was in the process of promoting one. Government departments in the Centre as well as in the States were prepared to finance every variety of voluntary effort, provided one could prove its need, which was not difficult for persons who knew the art of proving or the right people in the right places.
On top of it all, American funding agencies were more than eager to finance all sorts of voluntary work, provided the promoters were respectable people in the eyes of the establishment. I came to know of an instance where the secretary of an established voluntary organisation was placed privately on the payroll of an American funding agency so that he could persuade his organization to accept American aid, which it was reluctant to do otherwise. My professor of political science whom I met one day, advised me “to float my own racket, and to live lavishly ever after”. He had become cynical about voluntary effort because he had seen through the hoax.
What I noticed particularly was that although the public atmosphere was reeking with anti Americanism, privately the Americans were pretty popular even in the most progressive of all progressive circles. Nobody had any objection to America when it came to getting American money for voluntary effort, or going on America sponsored trips abroad, or sending sons and daughters to American universities on American grants and scholarships.
I came to know of quite a few blue blooded Communists and fellow travelers who guzzled bottles of American whisky and gorged fancy American foods aplenty in private American homes while in public they poured pure venom against everything American. The Americans on their part felt comfortable only in the company of such characters, and frowned upon those who had got known as pro American. I was told by an American professor, on a short visit to Bharat, that this was a calculated operation for turning enemies into friends. But I failed to see any friendship for America surfacing anywhere in Bharat.
My boss in the organization I had joined as a research consultant, was an old friend. We had been to the same school and college in Delhi. We had come closer when both of us became members of the intellectual circle which had grown round Ram Swarup in 1944. He had done quite commendable work in the field of refugee rehabilitation, and was now promoting Bharatiya handicrafts on some scale. All in all, he had become quite important in the public life of Delhi.
I felt grateful to him when he offered me a job as soon as he learnt that I was on the streets due to my anti communist activities. The only condition he laid down was that I would do no politics. I understood, though he did not say it, that the ban included political writings as well. But he had counted without the respectable circles in which he lived and moved. It was not long before he was called upon to defend me from all sorts of attacks, from all sorts of quarters.
The first attack he had to face was mounted by the Americans. The Rural Development Department of his organization was receiving some financial assistance from the Cooperative League of America. I had nothing to do with this Department except that the research set up in which I worked was housed in the same premises.
One day I was sitting and chatting with a colleague when the American who headed the Cooperative League dropped in. I could see it immediately that there was hostility in his eyes. The talk turned to the character of American aid as compared with that from the Soviet Union. I observed that while America was taking care of our hearths and homes, the Soviet Union was taking care of our heads.
The American blew up. He said, “You must be a very bad man to say all that!” I protested that we had not even been introduced to one another, and that while he was welcome to have his own opinions he was not entitled to call me names. He walked out in a huff.
It so happened that my boss as well as my colleague had been invited for dinner to this American’s home on the evening of that very day. As they entered the house, they found that the American was lying in bed, turning sides and saying “ah, oh”. His bed was surrounded by several other Americans. My boss made enquiries about his health. All Americans present raised a chorus, “That Communist you have imported from Calcutta has insulted Mr…. this morning. He has been feeling unwell since then.“
My boss thought at first that I must have given free reign to my sharp tongue, for which I was famous. But my colleague corrected him and narrated the whole incident. My boss told the Americans in firm tones that my reputation was the reverse of that of a Communist, that he would suffer no dictation regarding whom he employed in his organization, and that they were welcome to fold up their aid programme and quit in the next twenty four hours.
As he started walking out of the house, the Americans were on their knees with profuse apologies for the misunderstanding. The American in charge of the Cooperative League was no more ill. He stood up hale and hearty, and said that he could not even dream of dictating any terms. The very next morning he tried to be friendly with me. I could not refuse to shake the hand he extended towards me. I did not know what had happened at his house the previous evening. The happening was related to me months after it took place, but not by my boss.
My research work consisted mainly of compiling reports of seminars that had been held, and preparing working papers for seminars to be held. It was an era of endless seminars. There was hardly a day when one seminar or the other was not held in Delhi. Most of the time in these gatherings was taken by people who had nothing to say but who found it difficult to keep their larynx under control. They felt most profound when pontificating on mere nothing.
I also discovered some faces that were present in every seminar, whatever the subject. They never spoke a word during the proceedings but were quick to collect travelling, lodging, and conveyance expenses at the end of the session. One day I collared one of them who had collected a fat sum the previous evening for coming from and going to Ahmedabad, and staying in a hotel in Delhi for two days. I wondered how he could travel so fast to and from Ahmedabad as to attend a seminar the very next day. He told me without batting an eye that he had nothing to do with Ahmedabad except that he was born there, that he lived in Delhi with his family, and that collecting fees for attending seminars was his way of making a living. I could not help admiring the wise guy. He was getting something substantial out of the seminars.
My only satisfaction in that set up was that I got plenty of time for renewing my studies. I have already narrated how I studied the classics on Sanatana Dharma, ancient and modern. Here I want to narrate how I straightened my view of Bharat’s history. As I became aware of the greatness of Sanatana Dharma, I fell in love with the society which had been its vehicle down the ages. But the history I had read was hardly the history of Hindu society. It was the history of conquerors who had tormented the Hindus.
I became curious about how Hindu society had survived so many assaults, for such prolonged periods, particularly from the Islamic invaders and the Christian missionaries. For, I had become aware that Hindu society was the only ancient society which had survived genocidal attacks from Islam and Christianity. All other ancient societies had succumbed to these crusading creeds or their latest variation Communism. Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and Japan were the only other exceptions. But then, these exceptions too were extensions, in a large measure, of Bharat’s ancient culture.
I was now convinced that Hindu society had survived because of some innate strength which had enabled it to fight and overcome all invaders in the long run. And I started studying Bharat’s history from the vantage point of this society. It was an eye opener. The conquerors were cut to their proper size when compared to Hindu heroes who had fought them. I started a series in the Organiser Highlights of Hindu History. But I could not complete it due to some trouble with my eyes. I am still aspiring to write a history of Bharat, even if in outline.
So Hindu society deserved all honour and homage. It held the key to deeper recesses of the human spirit. But what I saw around me was just the opposite. Far from being honoured, Hindu society was being humiliated every day. And that too in its own ancient homeland. Tbe ruling elite had been placed in power by the sweat and toil and endless sacrifices of this society. It was this society which had broken the back of Islamic imperialism. It was this society which had defeated the Christian missions from many countries. It was this society which had freed Bharat from British rule.
Yet the Hindu elite was ashamed of being known as a part of this society. It loved to be known as Socialist, Communist, Leftist, and the rest, but never as Hindu. In fact, the very word Hindu had been made a dirty word in post independence Bharat. One had only to identify oneself as a Hindu, and one stood branded as a narrow communalist, an obscurantist, a reactionary, an enemy of national unity, and what not.
There was no stigma attached to being a Muslim, or a Christian, or a Buddhist, or a Jain, or a Sikh. But a Hindu who aspired to be respectable in the eyes of the ruling elite had to subscribe to Secularism, the new cult floated by Pandit Nehru and his Communist cohorts. I wanted to know how and why the Hindus had yielded to this humiliation.
Meanwhile, my situation had improved somewhat for the better thanks to Comrade Mao Tse tung. He had driven the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans out of their homeland, and occupied Bharat’s own territory in a series of incursions which Pandit Nehru was forced to admit in Parliament towards the end of 1959.
Some friends who had avoided me so far started coming to me and discussing the nature of the menace from Red China about which I was known to have written a lot in earlier years. I told them that it was no time to discuss China anymore, and that what we needed now was military preparation.
China had bared its face which Pandit Nehru and his kept press had tried to keep under a veil all these years. I could see quite clearly that a showdown with China was not far off, and that the country was prepared neither ideologically nor materially to face the challenge. I felt more and more angry with Pandit Nehru and his henchmen who were in control of Bharat’s establishment.
It had happened quite a few times that some Communist professor or writer came to our research department to meet one or the other of my colleagues. Whenever I was introduced to them, they said spontaneously, “Oh, you are that man!” I used to smile and tell them that I was pleased to know that they knew me so well when I had never heard of them. That had served to put them off.
But the Communist I was introduced to in late 1959 was a well known man. I had to admit that I knew him by his record in the service of the Soviet Union. He immediately launched a tirade, “Mr. Goel, when you people made all that noise about Hungary, we could understand. What happened in Hungary was a tragedy. It should not have happened. But when you make the same sort of noise about these dirty lamas, that is the limit.”
I lost my patience and told him that it was no use arguing with a Communist, and that the only thing that could penetrate his head was a bullet. His reference to the Tibetans as “dirty lamas” had made me feel mad. The Tibetans had done nothing that could justify the crimes that the Communist army from China was committing against them. He walked away after calling me a fascist. My heart sank. This man was very close to the Nehru brigade. I could guess which way the country was heading.
Next year, I was loaned by my boss to Shri Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) to work as part time secretary of the All India Panchayat Parishad of which he was the president. I had met him a few times in earlier years. In fact, he was the first to whom Ram Swarup and I had gone in order to seek his blessings for our anti communist work. He had said, “If you are opposed to Stalinism, I am wholly with you. But I see nothing wrong in Communism as such.” I had asked him, “What about Leninism?” He had observed, “Leninism is all right.“
I had repeated a string of quotations from Lenin whom I had read recently. He had closed the discussion with the comment, “I don’t know. My knowledge of Communist classics is quite old.” So he was aware of my reputation, and had reacted rather negatively when my name was mentioned to him as a man who could help the Parishad stand on its feet. But he did not turn me down after I had a brief talk with him at the Palam Airport where he had stopped on his way from Amritsar to Patna. He had gone to the Punjab to meet Master Tara Singh.
JP started liking me when he saw my work. But I could feel that he had reservations about my ideological inclinations. One day he asked me point blank, “Are you a Socialist?” I said, “I have been.” He continued, “Rat depends on one’s evolution. What are you now?” I said, “I am a Hindu.”
He said, “That does not mean anything. I too am a Hindu.” I blurted out, “I am not that sort of a Hindu.” The next moment I was sorry for that remark. I could see that JP had not liked it. His face showed annoyance. But he was too much of a gentleman to put me in my place.
The showdown came unexpectedly. JP had invited an Englishman to deliver a lecture in the Panchayat Parishad. He was a retired policeman and had acquired the reputation of being a leading criminologist. I found that the man was an insufferable fool as soon as he opened his mouth. I wondered what JP had seen in him. The only explanation was JP’s great weakness for the white skin. I had witnessed the weakness again and again.
Now he sat enraptured as this arrogant Englishman poured unmitigated contempt on Hindu traditions, some of which he targeted as harbouring criminal tendencies. I stood up at the end of the lecture and asked him if he would answer some questions. He waved me aside, saying that he had no time for such tomfoolery. JP was furious with me soon after the man left. I had known that it was rather difficult for JP to lose his temper. But that day he did. He said to me angrily, “You have insulted my guest. I do not like such manners at all.” I kept quiet.
Next day, I gave to JP my Hindi book, Samyak Sambuddha, which I had recently compiled from Buddhist classics. In its introduction I had maintained that Buddhism was only a dimension of Sanatana Dharma which I had then proceeded to define. I requested JP to read just the introduction, if he could spare the time and had the inclination. I wanted him to know what I meant by Hindu Dharma.
JP said that he liked Buddhism very much, and that he will read the whole book. I had no hope that he would. But I was pleasantly surprised when I met him after a few days. He said, “I have to seek your forgiveness (khsama chahta hun) for losing my temper that day. I did not know that you were a scholar, and had made such a deep study of Buddhism. And I have simply fallen for the beautiful (madhura) Hindi you write.” I was moved to tears, and touched his feet.
He continued, “If Sanatana Dharma is what you say it is, I am all for it. You can count me as a Sanatanist from today. You can say to whomsoever you please that JP has become a Sanatanist.” I felt very happy. My relations with JP became more or less smooth thereafter. I thought that my Hindu Dharma was no more a matter of suspicion in his eyes. I have told elsewhere the story of how I was able to take JP on his first ever visit to an RSS camp.
By now the Panchayat Parishad was in a functioning form. The constitution which I had drafted for it had been approved by the Ministry of Law, and the Ministry of Community Development had sanctioned a handsome grant for an institute for Training in Panchayati Raj. The search was on for some competent Director to head the Institute when JP surprised everybody in the Governing Body of the Parishad by presenting a young man from Bombay to man the post. He had a doctoral degree in Chemical Engineering from a university in the USA. JP told us nothing more about him. But he looked at me, and said, “Sitaramji, he is a Muslim.”
I kept quiet. He said again, “Did you hear? He is a Muslim.” Perhaps he was expecting that as a Hindu I would raise an objection. I raised none. I have never bothered about Muslims, one way or the other. Hindus who flaunt Muslims in order to prove their Secularism have always left me cold.
Moreover, I had never fancied the Panchayat Parishad or any organization of that sort as my final destination. It was only a waiting room for me till such times as the train arrived for taking me where I wanted to go. Meanwhile, I was doing dutifully the work for which I was paid. I wondered why JP had tried to rub it in.
The staff in the Parishad and the Institute tried to involve me in office politics with the new Director. They came to me with all sorts of stories about him. I refused to comment and disappointed them. One day, a man from Maharashtra dropped in. He had become famous for writing a report on “cooperative farming” after a brief visit to Red China. Pandit Nehru was using that report for introducing “joint farming” in this country.
Years later, I learnt that his original report on “cooperative farming” in China had a chapter on how that programme had entailed a mass slaughter of peasants, and that he had dropped the chapter because Pandit Nehru thought it was not at all relevant. And this man was known at that time as a leading Gandhian. He sat down in front of me, and whispered, “Goelji, do you know that I am a Maratha?” I said, “Your name says it.”
He asked me next, “Do you know that we Marathas hate the Muslims?” I replied, “I have read Maratha history. I do not think your statement is true about all Marathas.” He said, “In any case, I do not like Dr. … whom JP has thrust upon us.” I kept quiet. This man was in no way connected with the Panchayat Parishad. I could not understand why he was saying all this to me.
I came to know the game a few days later. JP called me and the Director for a meeting. As soon as we sat down, he turned to the Director and said, “You have no end of complaints against Sitaramji. Say in his presence what you have been saying to me, so that matters may be sorted out.” The Director was nonplussed. He was not at all prepared for such a confrontation. For a few moment, he was struck dumb. His face was flustered. He recovered and said, “He told Shri … that he hates Muslims.”
I narrated the conversation I had with the noted Gandhian, word for word. JP smiled and said, “Shri … has never been known for correct or careful reporting. Forget what he told you. Now, what is your next charge?” The Director fumbled, “He says that my degrees are fake.” JP turned to me. I told him, “I would bother about degrees being fake or genuine only if cared for them. Degrees have never meant anything to me. I have some good ones of my own.” The Director had nothing more to say, and went away. JP asked me, “What degrees do you have? Can I see your bio data?”
I had to compile it for the first time, my degrees, the certificates from my professors, the books I had written, and all that. As soon as JP finished reading it, he said to me, “What are you doing in organizations like the Panchayat Parishad? A man of your qualifications should be in the university. Find out who is the head of history department in Delhi. I will write to him, recommending you for a suitable teaching job.” He wrote the letter next day when I gave him the name of the Professor and Head of Department. It talked of me highly.
But the Professor and Head was far from being impressed when I presented the letter to him. He looked at me without reading it, and said, “Oh! you are now in Delhi? Weren’t you functioning from Calcutta?” The man was a fellow traveller, as I found out soon after. JP received a reply a few days later. He read it and said to me, “It is a diplomatic letter. He will not let you have a job in the university. It seems he knows you quite well, and has strong reservations about you. I am sorry I cannot do more for you.” I was more than thankful for what he had already done.
I had to leave the Panchayat Parishad after a few months. In spite of the confrontation between us in JP’s presence, the Director had continued to poison JP’s ears with all sorts of complaints against me. JP himself told me several times, “This person is full of venom against you.” I kept quiet. I could sense that JP was feeling helpless. He could not drop the Director, though he was no more enamoured of him.
JP’s secularist image was at stake. At the same time, he was finding it difficult to overcome the feeling that my being a non secularist Hindu had something to do with the trouble. One day he invited my boss and myself for sitting down and sorting it out. He started with what the Director had been saying. Suddenly, my boss stood up and pulled me up as well by taking hold of my hand. He said, “I am taking him away. He has done the job for which I had loaned him. Your Parishad is now functioning. And there is no dearth of work for him.” We walked out. JP did not try to stop us. He must have felt relieved.
(to be continued…)
Book: How I Became Hindu
Author: Sita Ram Goel
Published by: Voice of India
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