Kids Corner

Above: Sir John Simon. Below: Prof. Puran Singh.

1984

The Seeds of Tyranny
Part I

Prof. PURAN SINGH

 

 

 

 

 

The following is an Open Letter written in 1928 by Prof. Puran Singh to Sir John Simon of "Simon Commission" fame. [It eerily foreshadows the crimes of a subsequent Indian government in the stranglehold of a monster called Hindutva.] 

The Simon Commission was appointed by the British government in 1927 to report on the working of the Constitution in India and to present recommendations for reforms. Its members were from the Conservative, Liberal, and Labour parties. J. A. Simon served as chairman.

 

 

October 21, 1928

Dear Sir John Simon:

The Indian situation is indeed very complex and baffles all kinds of genius to find a royal road to India’s freedom. It may not be out of place at this stage, when changes in the Constitution are under contemplation, to write to you a few thoughts that occur to me as one of the ryot. They may be of no direct help to you, but I am sure they would reveal a bit of the mind of an Indian, who is in the thick of all the mental conflictions and naturally reads more of the minds of his people than any foreigner can.

I see the boycott of your Commission is already getting weak. The most ardent boycotters have published their proposed Constitution. Thus, they have put their views indirectly before you. It appears to me even if they had boycotted you completely, as they intended, this temporary loss of temper on their part could have been treated, but as trivial. Let me say frankly there is no ghost of a chance of a successful revolution in India at least at the call of these intellectuals. If it could come at their call, it is certainly overdue because in the verity of things, there is nothing like freedom.

In reality, there are many sudden turns in the affairs of men, and your countrymen are also afraid of a possible revolution, of course till it does not actually come. An armed revolt being out of question, I know, between you and them, there will be much of the usual give and take, a lot of crossing of t’s and dotting of i’s. This business of writing of Constitutions by Pundit Moti Lal Nehru or yourself is of little interest to us, the poor farmers of India. And why ?

The Witches’ Cauldron

When things descend to melancholy, details of daily life and to the carrying out of these fine Constitutions in the spirit of practical sympathy, there is very little man material in India which can be singled out truly as cultured and rightly trained to deserve the title “Indian”, which means one who, like a Japanese or an Englishman, will place before himself the interest of the country as a whole, first and foremost, and who would burn with a passion for its service. There are Hindus, Sikhs, Moslems, Christians, Parsis and Jains in India, but very few Indians. And strange as it may sound, it is quite true that those who have removed those labels are empty bottles, without having any character of wine, of acid, or of poison. They are of no account, because, for centuries in India, the formation of character has been associated not with the practice of broad-minded patriotism, but with certain racial prejudices and social superstitions.

It is, therefore, not extricable from the so-called religious bias and bigotry. Self-government in India means government by the very few cunning and aggressive people, who, once put in possession of authority, would twist all letters of law and constitutions to their individual wills and make them work on the communal or the so-called religious bias.

The Muslim does not believe in any country as his own. He believes in a brotherhood, which, by its sheer number, must conquer the whole world. To him, political advancement of the Muslim brotherhood is his real progress. From a racial point of view, this Muslim outlook is worthy of praise, and such a community of people, unless forced by compelling circumstances, forever refuse to live under any alien domination. The Muslim essentially desires to rule over the world and even his children dream of a pan-Islamic Asiatic Empire.

The interest of Muslims in India cannot be national in the sense that the national congress of the Hindu Intellectuals so far has been declaring to mean. Men of exceptional outlooks can be found in all races, and in India’s Muslims also. To get such exceptions together at Lucknow and find agreements merely on the surface of things in certain wording of a few formal resolutions to agree to the Nehru Committee’s Draft, is to me a ludicrous unreality of the so-called history-making announcements.

I was going to say it is indulgence of the Indian intellectuals in happy phrases when the country is slowly and surely going from bad to worse. For the reason given, which is in the very constitution of the Muslim mentality, he can come to no terms with the Hindu, but those that give him the domination and advantage over the Hindu and all other low-lying communities living in India. Any compromise arrived at would collapse as soon as the Muslim finds out that it is not to his interest and he would thereby be put merely in a position of disadvantage. Agreements bought at such a price are not worth the paper on which they are written. Surely, the Nehru Report is not founded on true patriotism nor true nationalism in which the individual community merges into the large nation with a flaming passion.

Come to the Hindu. He is the implacable, but cowardly foe of the Muslim. He does not trust him and in the heart of his heart, he considers him filthy, cow eating, treacherous, barbarous, one capable of any tyranny, rapine, plunder and cruelty. Even the touch of a Muslim pollutes his food! The Hindu believes his own culture and caste superior to all other human institutions. He alone is pure. For this very attitude, in him also, there can be no genuine feeling akin to that noble patriotism which shapes the destinies of nations to their freedom and progress as in the West.

Thus, there are two distinct mentalities at dagger’s drawn, in spite of profession of friendship, political union and social amities. One is aggressive, self-assertive, revengeful mentality of a united people of one religion, one creed, one caste, with a dream of an empire driving them onward. The other is the self-centred bias of a highly conservative, non-progressive, over-individualised, indifferent, disunited, dollar-loving people who have consented to be slaves for centuries.

The Hindu is still referring, for orders, to his old scriptures from where no more orders come. He cannot raise the marriageable age of the girl. He cannot remarry his child widow. He cannot give up caste and superstitions. He is hopelessly bound with the past, somewhat like the Russian peasant tied to the superstitions of the Roman Catholic Church. This eternal difference between the Hindu and the Muslim is seen by Dr James Cousins even up to the method of wearing the Hindu dhoti and the Muslim trousers.

Tansen

It is, your majesty,
And it would be a song most pitiful
That Akbar’s legs were traitor to his feet,
And after these long miles of journeying
Flaunted discovery. An hour ago
I died to Islam and was born a Hindu
But you are struck halfway from life to life
Loins downward shamelessly a Mussalman.

Akbar

I have seen Hindu trousered.

Tansen

Very true,
But there is something deeper than the fact
That has escaped you. Take a pair of trousers
From Muslim’s leg and put them on a Hindu’s
And they will seem alike aliens of the race.
Aye, perverts from the faith. No, no too much
Hangs from your waist to risk. Here take this cloth
And reincarnate quickly.

Akbar --

If my limbs
Could ape the Hindu as glibly as your tongue
Takes on his language. I far more would fear
To lose myself in that which we assume,
Than be unmasked, and so I rather choose
To don the Hindu than to slough the Muslim.
And being both be either at the need.
(He has put on a Hindu dhoti or skirt)

Tansen

“Well, well the risk at least is covered up.”
The Kings’s Wife

Then there are Sikhs, for example, amongst many important newly created nations.

And each of these minorities is pulling in its own way because each one believes in a new inspiration and a new life that it wishes to save by cutting itself from the Hindu stock. If the mother-stock shoots up, the beauty and life of the new graft will go.

For example, the Sikh believes in the inspirations of the Ten Gurus. His past begins from Guru Nanak and his future lies in the progress of his ideals. His masters did cut off a portion from the dead stock of Hindus and infuse a new life into it. They isolated the Sikhs from the disintegrating people called the Hindus, who are self-hypnotised slaves of a peculiar theological tyranny of complex intrigue of Brahminism. The Sikh Gurus moulded a fine strong nation out of the terror-stricken masses. All historians admit the worth of this great experiment of the Gurus and appreciate how Guru Gobind Singh infused a spirit similar to the Bushido Spirit of the Japanese into his Sikhs. The Guru isolated them from the dead mass around.

The Sikh keeps long hair and wears a sword. However ridiculous these signs may appear to the modern, considered under the local social conditions of India and the environmental context, they are the fruits of an act of genius which has concealed the new life of a whole nation under such trivial things - the knot of hair and beard - as nature conceals the lightening spark in the soft wool of clouds.

Hindus have seen that this process is against them. The Guru has declared the Hindu dead as long as he does not join his Khalsa for his emancipation. The Hindu cannot tolerate such experimental condemnations of his caste and religion as the Guru makes by the very reactivity of his fresh inspiration on the masses of the Punjab. The Hindu turned down Buddhism in the past and is thinking of devouring Sikhism, because both systems condemn the Hindu tyranny of caste masquerading as religion of love.

A few straws show which way the wind blows. Mahatma Gandhi preaches against keeping of hair. He denounces those Sikh shouts of conquests as communal, as against national, with which they battered the Mughal tyranny and became a free nation. The Sikh will die if he cuts his hair and assumes the Hindu shape. The patronising attitude which the Nehru Constitution adopts towards the Sikhs is the policy of the Hindu Congress to include the Sikhs in the Hindus.

Dear Sir John Simon! There yonder are the witches who have put their cauldron on fire. And these matters cannot be settled till the witches’ cauldron boils and incantations are murmured. Vapours rise and in them there are acting and reacting upon each other the communal tensions and inflammable prejudices.

You might have already seen the scene of the Walpurgis night of Goethe’s Faust in India. There is some fearsome conspiracy against the poor people who till the soil. What can be done by you or any one to help them? The Biblical truth that thy enemies shall be of thy own household appears to be true of the Indian intellectuals, who deceive themselves in imagining that they are the saviours of the poor people - Saviours with what?  They but organise an empty handed protest and noise of wayward meetings of the mob against the British.

A Few Imaginings

Let me indulge, while face to face with the witches, in some imaginations, if, perchance, some stray flight of the flying horse of the Arabian Nights might take me and you out of this ghostly darkness.

Ah! Could nature send its bolt from the blue and break this huge peninsula into small little islands!

Ah! Could the Engineer divide it by many a Panama canal. Failing this geographical division, could India be cut up and divided anew to make more harmonious Presidencies with the population of the Hindu with his various castes that in practical life form many small nations in themselves, and the Muslim, equally balanced in the practical exercise of political power that the British might give them out of their great mercy for fallen nations!!

I put it down merely for making the impossible possible. Suppose, as one of the suggestions, Gujarat, Kathiawar, a portion of C.P., the Sind, the Punjab and the North Western Frontier are made into one Presidency, a portion of Bombay goes with Madras as a second Presidency and half of Madras is lumped up with Bengal as the third, Bihar and U.P. and a portion of C.P. constitutes the fourth Presidency.

The Hindus in this division of India can be treated as many diverse communities. Because the differences between the Brahmin and non-Brahmin are as acute as between the Hindu and the Muslim, between the Hindu and the Sikh. And these new Harmony Presidencies of India could be conveniently sub-divided into small independent States governed by one Presidency Legislative Council and one Governor. To give the latter to small Provinces would be ruinously costly.

On the other hand, to have large Harmony Presidencies would be too unwieldy for administration of justice, etc., if they are not cut up into small autonomous States. This administrative cutting up of India would set in process the development of India into the future independent United States of Asia. You are asked to hand India over to us by the Nehru Committee. Failing the re-division of India into New Harmony Presidencies, it would be a much better feat of far-sighted statesmanship to hand it over to a benevolent dictatorship of some kind.

Perhaps you will say I am wasting your time; but I assure you, you and your friends will be equally wasting your time if you, only as constitutional lawyers, sitting down like Pandit Moti Lal Nehru and the men of his mind, write Constitutions for this India where the witches’ cauldron is boiling and Walpurgis night is on. Any Constitution coming in here like this essentially means the domination of one community over all others which must be kept in a permanent state of suspended animation. All progress under such Constitutions shall be one-communal and not multi-communal. It would no more be diarchy but it would be a form of civil anarchy in administration run by an autocratic and communal majority.

The herd and its vote does not really matter. The whole District is run by a few officers. They are not chosen by the people. They are the real autocrats. And if the services are corrupted by communal bias, it is the more powerful community that shall drive the others in practical details of administration.

The Hindu, if he is in the chair, would tease the Muslim mass and if the Muslim is in authority, he would injure the Hindu mass. Votes for electing a truly representative Legislative body under such conditions of communal tension in securing the monopoly of authority under any such system as adumbrated by the Nehru Committee shall, for all times, be wholly impotent and ineffective in maintaining the morale of the public services. The adult franchise is but the herd vote.

By giving the Montford Reforms you took away all the noblessee oblige of the “Steel Frame” services which did work like irresponsible autocrats but in a spirit in which there was some odour of benevolence. After the Reforms, India has become no one’s land, the cost of administration has gone up and the spirit of the services demoralised. The past cannot be brought back and the future cannot be assured, neither as you might wish nor as they might desire. It has become no one’s business, for example, to look after the costs of the Government.

You have tried for the last hundred years to teach us and to make us into a free nation as you say, but, unlike the Afghans who are much less civilised than ourselves, in spite of your intentions, we as a people, are but a set of women who can just dangle their bangles on their wrists and pose beautiful.

America threw your tea into the sea and Washington led, and then was the Constitution drafted. One can understand Abraham Lincoln proclaiming from the housetops his grand political maxim - the Government of the people, by the people, for the people. That was some culture, some education which grew restless and effectively restless for its freedom.

But a trained statesman must laugh in his sleeves at the impotence of men like Gandhi and Moti Lal Nehru, who wish to be Abraham Lincolns of India without the substance which entitles the people on this earth with human nature, as constituted, to liberty.

I have said you have tried a hundred years to educate us and look at this great and disappointing intellectual disaster. There is not one Amanullah in this whole country of India, there is not one Kamal Pasha. This fundamental problem of education which you also have taken into your hands is such as cannot be solved by systems but by men.

If you really wish to lead India to independence or Dominion status which practically means independence with an empty and courteous bow to England, I say, do not give the poor people of India, Constitutions, do not define their rights. Let all these things come later, but give us say a real Dictator to train at least one province, say the Punjab, at the cost of the whole of India and make it really independent and see incidentally with what sport other provinces bear this wonderful concentration for the sake of the uplift of their brothers of blood of the Punjab.

So far, either you have not done your best to educate us or you are unfit to organise nations to freedom. You must confess either unwillingness to make us men, free men, or the utter incompetence of your system and men as you have so far given us. The education our Universities are giving is the imitation of that luxurious academic training which you give to your youths to enable them to run the Empire and its Embassies.

Of what use is it to us? Afghans have arsenals, aeroplanes, but we are rendered so impotent that our youths cannot earn their living! We get mere crumbs that fall from the Olympian Tables. All, in India, must overwork to death to have one meal a day or die of starvation. We the farmers are crushed under steel heels.

[Tomorrow: the second half of the letter ...]

 

Courtesy: Puran Singh Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab

First publisherd on sikhchic.com on June 29, 2011. Republished on June 4, 2017.

 

 

 

Conversation about this article

1: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), June 29, 2011, 6:55 PM.

I am stunned reading this letter - nay, the prophecy. Puran Singh ji had so correctly predicted India's future years before our so-called freedom. Eagerly awaiting part 2 of the same. I wish Master Tara Singh would have taken the Punjab province as Puran Singh ji had suggested. We would have easily been one of the richest nations in the world. A country which is "ahsaan faramosh" can never progress. How conveniently India has forgotten the real freedom fighters - the Ten Gurus, the Sikh revolutionaries right from the armies of Banda Bahadar to the ones that fight in the armed forces today. History tends to keep repeating if we do not learn from history. India may not be a slave to some other nation but it is still a begging nation and is slave to it's own mentality.

2: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 30, 2011, 6:54 AM.

India is still slave ... to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

3: Hardev Singh (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), June 05, 2017, 6:52 PM.

What a brilliant mind. Thank you for re-publishing. This letter needs the widest possible readership for its insightful and penetrating truths.

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Part I"









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