Why Kaveri wears saffron

via http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-3080819,flstry-1.cms published on May 29, 2008

Courtesy:Times of India
Author:Tarun Vijay

saffron Karnataka wears is aglow with the sacrifices of the anonymous
workers who lived with a reason, for a cause. Who sowed saffron in
Karnataka’s soil – like Yadav Rao Joshi, H V Seshadri, Suryanarain Rao,
often going to sleep on an empty stomach but worked day and night to
spread the message of a strong nationalism, motherland first and
foremost. Everything else was secondary.

When Seshadri breathed his last, he was listening to the Sangh
prayer – namaste sada vatsale matribhume (Salutations to thee, O
beloved motherland…)
But Vidhan Saudha was never on their radar of
achievements. Their mission was and remains a total transformation of
society into a proud, strong, self-reliant, knowledge reservoir with
character which would lead Bharat, which is India, into the highest
ranks of the comity of nations.
Political power is just one small step
in that direction.

The people who remember their past have a future. The saffron we
see blooming in the South is powered with the ideas of a man whose
birth anniversary would largely go unnoticed today. Veer Vinayak
Damodar Savarkar was the name of the man who shook Hindus from their
lethargic and self-demeaning attitude and who put the word Hindutva in

I remember Madhumangal Sharma who was killed while reading a book
by Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyaya in his Imphal house. The day bullets pierced
his heart, through the book, happened to be 11th February, 1995. It was
also the martyrdom day of the author he liked most, Pt. Deen Dayal
Upadhyaya, who was murdered mysteriously on 11th Feb 1968 on a moving

One could wonder in these times of extreme parochialism why a
Manipuri in Imphal would be reading a book by a northerner? The same
Manipur has banned all books of Hindi writers, Hindi movies, and
finally the national anthem now.

The martyrdom of Pt Upadhyaya and Madhumangal and many others for a
cause energised a collective will to bring change in polity. That’s
what nationalism is all about. Different parts, one body. There are
youngsters who still have the courage to stand for a broader, Indian
nationalism in Manipur facing foreign-funded extremists who have
otherwise succeeded in silencing all other voices reflecting

What makes them brave the bullets? Love for motherland, and that’s saffron unquestioningly.

Prasad Mookerjee was born in Bengal and became the youngest ever
vice-chancellor of Calcutta University at the age of 33. He was a close
friend of Kaji Nazrul Islam, helped him when he needed most, was a part
of the family of Rabindranath Tagore, became a legendary figure in his
life time, inherited a legacy Bengal is justifiably proud of, and he
died for Kashmir. His mysterious “death” in the jail of Sheikh
Abdullah, in Srinagar on 23rd June 1953 raised questions that are still
unanswered. The only reason for his untimely death was his demand that
Kashmir be assimilated in India like any other state. And there should
not be two flags, two constitutional provisions and two heads in
relation to Kashmir. He was arrested for entering the valley without a
permit, in his own country and jailed where he met a sudden death.

Mookerjee’s mother, Jogmaya Devi wrote to Nehru on 4 July 1953:

“His death is shrouded in mystery. Is it not most astounding and
shocking that ever since his detention there, the first information
that I, his mother, received from the government of Kashmir was that my
son was ‘no more’, and that also at least two hours after the end? And
in what a cruel, cryptic way the message was conveyed! ‘. A fearless
son of free India has met his death while ‘in detention without trial’
under most tragic and mysterious circumstances. I, the mother of the
great departed soul, demand that an absolutely impartial and open
enquiry by independent and competent persons be held without any delay.
I know nothing can bring back to us the life that is no more. But I do
want that the people of India must judge for themselves, the real
causes of this great tragedy enacted in a free country and the part
that was played by your government.”

Nehru gave a short reply on 5 July 1953:

“l did not venture to
write to you before without going into the matter of Dr Shyama Prasad
Mookerjee’s detention and death fairly carefully. I have since enquired
further into it from a number of persons who had occasion to know ‘some
facts’. I can only say to you that I arrived at the clear and honest
conclusion that there is no mystery in this and that Dr Mookerjee was
given every consideration.”

This was really rude and Jogmaya Devi replied on 9th July, 1953:

“Your letter dated 5th July reached me on the 7th. It is a sad
commentary on the whole situation. Instead of helping to clear up the
mystery, your attitude deepens it (further). I demanded an open
enquiry. I did not ask ‘for your clear and honest conclusion’. Your
reaction to the whole affair is now well known. The people of India and
I, the mother, have got to be convinced. There is a rooted suspicion in
the mind of many. What is required is ‘an open, impartial, immediate

‘Your experience in jails is known to all. It was at one time a
matter of great national pride with us. But you had suffered
imprisonment under an alien rule and my son has met his death in
detention without trial under a national government. It is futile to
address you further. You are afraid to face facts. I hold the Kashmir
government responsible for the death of my son. I accuse your
government of complicity in the matter.”

Nehru never cared to reply.

Shyama Prasad’s martyrdom too has added to the saffron we see in Karnataka.

Kothari brothers and others who died facing brutal police repression in
Ayodhya during their satyagraha to demand a Ram Temple in 1990 is a
scar on India’s body that would hardly be forgotten.
The other side of
the secular Talibanism creates ghettoes of Gulags and Siberia-ism for
votebank politics. Hasn’t the accumulated angst against these
discriminations fuelled a change in the Indian political scene?
Remember the best of Indian soldiers, editors and actors like Gen
Candeth, Gen. Jacob, Girilal Jain and Victor Banerjee joined the
saffron side in the aftermath of Ayodhya. And who were those who died
demanding a ban on cow slaughter?
Were they simply an expendable crowd
of illiterate, empty-headed buffoons, trampling on other’s rights in
times when editors love to write about restaurants serving the most
tasty beef?

Those teachers and truck drivers and auto-rickshaw owners who were
killed in Kannur and Palakad just for wearing saffron have also
contributed to the Karnataka victory.

And those hundreds of
highly qualified selfless workers who lived and died anonymously for
seeing saffron bloom, did help in paving the way for the leaders who
rule today with a broad smile on their faces, though they never aspired
to work for a political fortune.

Who were those workers who dedicated their lives for a cause that
would never provide them comfort or fame? What was that magic bond that
bound them in a solidarity that would not be shaken under any
circumstances. They first fought the British, then the Communists and
their political mates in Congress and progressed astoundingly well in
spite of a collective media assault and opposition that would surpass
every logic and sense of balance.

Today the saffron brotherhood is
running the largest number of successful schools, has the highest
number of service projects in slums and tribal areas across the country
from Port Blair to Leh and Naharlagun to the Nilgiris, runs centres to
train Scheduled Caste youths as priests and computer engineers and
provides the nation the sinews it needs during any crisis. None will
see these elements of fire and light but will only comment frivolously
on the electoral underpinnings and caste-religion equations. The
saffron we see blooming over the Vidhan Saudha in Bangalore is the
result of a collective will engulfing the grand Indian picture we
worship as mother incarnate.

Those who occupy the plush chairs inside must remember this and the
responsibility that comes along with wearing colour. T
he land of Hampi
and Basaveshwara and Kanak Dasa wants to see that the polluted Kaveri
(Cauvery) of public administration, behavior and accountability be
cleaned and Sanskrit and Sanskriti (culture) flowers unhindered. Always
remember why Hampi was razed and for whom. Should the children of that
past forget their ancestors and get glued to elements that negate the
fragrance of the land?

Karnataka results have defied the pettiness of the polity we had been
witnessing over water sharing and language–regional conflicts and have
proved that merger with the nationalist cause is worthier than
asserting parochial and smaller identities. It’s also a verdict against
hate and ideological apartheid.

Media with seculars of the red variety have turned saffron into a
term of abuse and derided its use as if belonging to saffron is a sin.
Today with Karnataka, saffron rules over seven states on its own.
red smart seculars, self-obsessed “upholders” of the peace marches and
candle-burning rituals for Afzals and betrayers of faith, find
themselves completely marginalized and shrunk. Naturally so. As the
grand Indian vision expands, the myopic market managers of Marx and
Macs will have to squeeze into a smaller space.

I have always maintained that the hate factor in Indian politics is
a contribution of the left and alien thought processes. Swami Dayananda
fiercely attacked the practice of idol worship among Hindus but he was
accommodated and respected, not turned into an outcaste and fatwa-ed to
death. Guru Nanak and Kabir criticized ritualism and the blind faith
prevalent among influential Hindus. But they were revered and adored.
Hate and animosity on the basis of beliefs is alien to Hindus and was
introduced by those who are inherently intolerant to the different

There is no reason for the hate between various political parties
in India – after all they all swear to work for the good of India and
Indians. The polity must play on the foundation of a pan-Indian vision.
Programmes may differ but the fragmentisation must come to an end
giving way to fraternisation. Seculars have so far invested their pride
in being backward, most backward and other backwards. Yet they call
themselves as most progressives. See what’s happening in Rajasthan. A
matter of pride?

It’s the dharma of all Indian political organisations to see that
India prospers and doesn’t fall prey to divisive and mutually hateful
policies to nurse vote banks. The nation must stand taller than the
South Blocked ambitions.

The author is the Director, Dr Syamaprasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.

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