By Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan
Long years ago, 76 years, we made our Tryst with Destiny. “Truth to tell, we have done well. Not as well as we could have”, messaged a puisne judge of a constitutional court. Could we have done better? Surely yes. Should we be proud of what we have achieved till date and where we are? Surely, yes.
A new Parliament building, built by ourselves, is to come up on May 28th,2023, which happens to be the 140th birth anniversary of an icon Veer Damodar Savarkar. Typically, politics takes over in India, as in everything else. We file a PIL that President should inaugurate the opening and not the Prime Minister. And the ‘grand opposition’ of 19/20 parties (take your pick) boycott the proceedings.
And of all things a ‘specter of gold’ ie. Sengol is bandied about as a political issue. And ‘secularism’ is debated. And its origins and whereabouts become scoring points. Shame on us! Can’t we unite to greet our new parliament which represents We the People? No, we wont. We can. But will not. That is who we are.
“TIME’ to recall from a report in the TIME datelined 25th Aug, 1947. Alluding to the Sengol. The golden specter. It makes fascinating reading. We always prefer what the white man has to say on us. Not what we Indians do. Shame on us again!
“As the great day ( 15th Aug,1947) approached, Indians thanked their varied gods and rejoiced with special prayers, poems and songs. Poetess Sarojini Naidu set the theme in a radio message: “Oh lovely dawn of freedom that breaks in gold and purple over the ancient capital o . .!”
Blessing with Ashes. Even such an agnostic as Jawaharlal Nehru, on the eve of becoming India’s first Prime Minister, fell into the religious spirit. From Tanjore in south India came two emissaries of Sri Amblavana Desigar, head of a sannyasi order of Hindu ascetics. Sri Amblavana thought that Nehru, as first Indian head of a really Indian Government ought, like ancient Hindu kings, to receive the symbol of power and authority from Hindu holy men.
With the emissaries came south India’s most famous player of the nagasaram, a special kind of Indian flute. Like other sannyasis, who abstain from hair-cutting and hair-combing, the two emissaries wore their long hair properly matted and wound round their heads. Their naked chests and foreheads were streaked with sacred ash, blessed by Sri Amblavana. In an ancient Ford, the evening of Aug. 14, they began their slow, solemn progress to Nehru’s house. Ahead walked the flutist, stopping every 100 yards or so to sit on the road and play his flute for about 15 minutes. Another escort bore a large silver platter. On it was the pithambaram (cloth of God), a costly silk fabric with patterns of golden thread.
When at last they reached Nehru’s house, the flutist played while the sannyasis awaited an invitation from Nehru.
Then they entered the house in dignity, fanned by two boys with special fans of deer hair. One sannyasi carried a scepter of gold, five feet long, two inches thick. He sprinkled Nehru with holy water from Tanjore and drew a streak in sacred ash across Nehru’s forehead. Then he wrapped Nehru in the pithambaram and handed him the golden scepter. He also gave Nehru some cooked rice which had been offered that very morning to the dancing god Nataraja in south India, then flown by plane to Delhi”.
History was made then. Shall we make it again?
Shut up. And have a memorable day. Can we?
(Writer is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court)