LETTER TO S. GANESAN
SATYAGRAHA ASHRAM, S ABARMATI,
October 26, 1928
MY DEAR GANESAN,
Here is a letter from Spain. Please send him the information he wants, and the books you should send only when he sends the money for them. Mr. Gregg is here and he complains of absence of any letter from you, even regarding business enquiries. He tells me that you have not even sent a book to Mr. Roy in Shantiniketan. I have now sent a copy to Mr. Roy from here. Why all this negligence? With reference to your letter about Bharati’s songs, I have sent you a wire today.(Not available) I wrote also to the Maharajah of Nabha some time ago.
SJT. S. GANESAN
18 PYCROFTS ROAD, TRIPLICANE, MADRAS
JUSTICE RUN MAD
I reproduce elsewhere in this issue the first installment of a sample of the translation of the Tamil songs of the late Bharati, the Tamil poet, whose songs were the other day confiscated by the Madras Government acting under instructions, or, it is perhaps more proper to say, orders from the Burma Government. The Burma Government it appears in its turn suppressed these songs not by any order of court but by executive declaration. It appears that under that declaration the books of this popular Tamil poet which have been in vogue for the last 30 years and which, as appears from the evidence before the High Court of Madras, were under consideration by the Education
Department of Madras for introduction in the school curriculum, are liable to confiscation in any part of India. I must confess that I was unaware of any such wide executive powers being held by Provincial Governments. But these are days in which we live and learn. This was no doubt a matter falling under the jurisdiction of the Education Minister. But it is becoming daily more and more clear that these Ministerial offices are a perfect farce, even as the legislative chambers are and that the Ministers are little more than clerks registering the will of the all-powerful I.C.S. Therefore the poor Education Minister could do nothing to save these popular books from confiscation. Probably at the time the confiscation took place, he had even no
knowledge, or if he had, he was not even told what it was that he was really signing. In due course however the confiscation attracted public attention. Pandit Harihara Sharma of Hindi Prachar Karyalaya and publisher of Bharati’s songs, on behalf of his poor widow, could not sit still under the confiscation. He therefore moved the public and the matter was naturally debated in the Legis-lative Council which condemned the confiscation. Pandit Harihara Sharma even petitioned the High Court for an order to set aside what was clearly an illegal confiscation, and because of some understanding that the order of confiscation will be withdrawn, that the books will be returned and that the Madras Government will make reparation to the poor widow, the petition has been withdrawn. But the wrong still remains. One can only hope that the expectations of Pandit Harihara Sharma will be fulfilled and that the wrong will be remedied by the return of the books. But whatever reparation is made by the Madras Government, the sense of wrong will abide and so will the sense of in-security created in the public mind by the action of the Madras Government in slavish obedience to the Burma Government.
Young India, 13-12-1928
“MY HEART ACHES” || நெஞ்சு பொறுக்குதில்லையே
(The title is from the Gujarati version of a poem by Bharati)
One can say now that Gujarat has become familiar with the name of the Tamil poet, Bharati. English translations of a number of his poems by Shri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari have already appeared in Young India. Shri Jugatram Dave has translated one of them for Madhapudo,the organ of the children of the Udyoga Mandir. I give it(Not retranslated here) below as it is interesting and instructive. Shri Jugatram Dave has become the poet and servant of villagers. He has dedicated himself to the Raniparaj community. I believe we can learn a lot from his songs.Then who bothers to find out if they contain poetry or not? Or why should we not call that writing poetry which has power to take the people forward? How can that be poetry which lacks the power to kindle life?
LIBERATE THE WOMAN
Dr. S. Muthulakshmi Reddi, the well-known social worker of Madras, has written a long letter based on one of my Andhra speeches from which I take the following interesting extract:
Your observations on the urgent need for reforms and for a healthy change in the daily habits of our people, during your journey from Bezwada to Guntur, have appealed to me very much indeed. I may humbly submit that I as a medical woman fully concur with you. But will you kindly permit me to say that if education is really going to bring in its train social reforms, better sanitation, and improved public health, it is going to achieve this result only through the education of our women? Under the present social system, don’t you think that very few women are given sufficient opportunities for education, full development of body and mind, and self-expression? If the members of the Congress believe that freedom is the birth-right of every nation and individual, and if they are determined to achieve that at any cost, should they not first liberate their women from the evil customs and conventions that restrict their all-round healthy growth, which remedy lies in their own hands? Our poets, saints and sages have sung in the same tune. Swami Vivekananda has said, ‘That country and that nation, which do not respect women, have never become great, nor will ever be in future. The principal reason why your race is so much degraded in that you had no respect for these living images of Shakti.If you do not raise the women who are the living embodiments of the Divine Mother, don’t think that you have any other way to rise’.
The late Subrahmanya Bharati, the gifted Tamil poet, has echoed the same idea.
So, would you kindly in your tour advise our men to follow the right and the surest way to attain freedom?
Dr. Muthulakshmi has a perfect right to expect Congressmen to shoulder this responsibility. Many Congressmen are doing great work in this direction individually as also corporately. The root of the evil however lies far deeper than would appear on superficial observation. It is not the education merely of women that is at fault. It is the whole of our educational system that is rotten. Again it is not this custom or that which needs condemnation, it is the inertia which refuses to move even in the face of an admitted evil that needs to be removed. And lastly the condemnation is true only of the middle class, the town-dwellers, i.e., barely 15 per cent of the vast millions of India. The masses living in the villages have no child-marriage, no prohibition against widow-remarriage. It is true that they have other evils which impede their growth. Inertia is common to both. What is however necessary is to overhaul the educational system and to devise one in terms of the masses. , amelioration of the economic condition of the masses and the like resolve themselves into penetration into the villages, reconstruction or rather reformation of the village life.
Young India, 23-5-1929