In this piece laden with sarcasm, the writer ‘Vigneswara’ brings out the inability of Hindu savants to call a spade a spade. The writer looks at the meek and apologetic response of Vinobha to Periyar’s racist denigration of Rama and Sita. In present times, the deep pain behind the sarcasm, shows us how we have allowed a racist discourse to evolve to such proportions where they can denigrate Durga as ‘Aryan’ sex worker. This is the price we pay for failing to take head-on the propaganda of forces which want to balkanize India.
Sir Anthony Eden, who has started a war whose end no man knows, made the humble submission in Parliament, “I have been a man of peace all my life.” Gandhiji was also fond of describing himself that way, as, to go to the other extreme, the late Kaiser Wilhelm II also was. And in Acharya Vinoba Bhave we have today Peripatetic Peace incarnate, if we are to believe his admirers, Indian and European.
Peace must be a very good thing if all these eminent men could love it so much. But it is not easy to discover whether they all mean the same thing by it. Leaving Eden to the U.N. and to C.R. let us take a closer look at the Acharya who seems to be in the line of the Hebraic prophets.
The Acharya himself would however seem to think that he is the Agasthya of the New Reconciliation. The old sage came to the South on a week-end visit and found it so congenial that he took his abode permanently on the Tambraparni. It looks as if Vinobaji may do likewise, though he might favour the Kaveri. He has already taken up Tamil, Agasthya’s gift to the South. And I am sure that we may expect him to forge like Vulcan a new language out of an amalgam of Hindi and Tamil.
There are lions in the path. E.V.R. has vowed to destroy alike Hindi and the gods who must be presumed to speak Hindi. (It may be an oversight, but Muruga has not yet been put on the Naicker index. In the light of the Periyar’s recent declaration that he was not an atheist, a denier of God, does this not suggest that he is discreetly leaving a postern door open for the entry of Muruga, the Tamil god, into the Self-Respect Valhalla?). And Acharya Vinoba Bhave, like the good strategist that he is, has apparently made up his mind that Rama and Krishna and the rest of the dusty pantheon must go if Hindi is to be saved in the South.
Not long ago he assured Periyar that the Ramayana could be easily bowdlerised so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Self-Respect arhats. They have been staging mock Ramleelas and Rama Natakas, which claimed to be more faithful to the Samskrit original than Kamban. They profess to demonstrate that the Aryan gods were wine-bibbers, carnivores and apostles of free love. We are being assured at the same time on the highest authority that fondness for the bottle, for red meat and for secret assignations were special characteristics of the sturdy he-man civilization of the old Tamil which Agasthya and his Brahman horde subdued by their wiles and emasculated by their water-drinking, vegetarian philosophy.
But the Acharya, from his lofty elevation, scorns to make a mere debating point out of these contradictions. If Rama sinned against Prohibition and Ahimsa, he can no longer be the ideal for such rigorous lovers of truth as Vinobaji, though Valmiki and, long after him, Gandhiji failed to see the blots on his escutcheon. And as in any case Rama and Sita and the rest were merely pious figments of a poet’s imagination, there is no reason why Valmiki’s imperfect daub should not be improved by expert hands. Our peripatetie philosopher, we are given to understand, could easily vamp up a sterilised version of the Epic for the delectation of the new Manvantara in which there will be neither idols nor idol-worshipping.
The other day he told the world that he had no more love for idol-worship than E.V.R had. He invited that sage to accept him as a humble fellow-worker in the cause of “weaning away people from superstition, false sentiments and notions.” Had he, the Acharya, not been assiduously going about telling people that worshipping idols was not Bhakti?
Perhaps we shall have to except the idols that in due course his Bhaktas will set up to commemorate him. And we have already a new cult whose worship centres round such idols as the Bakra Dam. But these are to be regarded as wholly admirable. For they would mean homage to the Service of the People certified by the Prime Minister and ratified by the Acharya, the specialist in Service.
But poor E.V.R. must feel rather crest-fallen on being told by Vinobaji that idol-breaking is not his bright particular invention. The Muslims had anticipated him 800 years ago, reminisced the Acharya. He did not hide his disappointment that a movement so full of promise had come to grief because Mahmud of Ghazni had made the mistake of employing force instead of “love and reasoning” to make the people see the error of their ways. “Love and reasoning” have had to wait for their opportunity till the descent of Vinobaji on this planet. Sri Ramanuja and hundreds of others who preached archaaradhana must be written off as blind leaders of the blind. Before such monstrous egotism what can one do but stand and stare? -VIGNESWARA
What is good speaking ?
It should be such as would hold fast the convinced and it should be pleasing even to the unconvinced. - Kural
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