CALL IT COINCIDENCE OR DIVINE PROVIDENCE, D.V. Gundappa was sixty when India obtained political freedom. The number sixty is painted with auspiciousness in the Hindu scheme of life. A person who completes sixty years of age has completed a full Samvatsara cycle. In DVG’s case, invoking his very name augurs auspiciousness. As the man, so his work.
Svatantra bhārata abhinandanā stava (also known as Bhārata bhū vandanaṁ) is an inspirational, evocative and mellow bouquet of twenty-four verses composed in Vr̥ttas (metre), dedicated to Bharata-Mata. The eminent Kannada poet, G.P. Rajaratnam memorably calls it Rāṣṭrakana kaipiḍi or a handbook of a patriot. Seventy-five years after it was composed, the work still endures as an unrivalled guide preaching national duty in a holistic and contemplative fashion. It can be likened to a Sutra-grantha — a handy manual of aphorisms. Its sweep is vast, its altitude Himalayan and its depth, oceanic.
Judged purely on the yardstick of aesthetics, Svatantra bhārata abhinandanā stava is a lovely home of the Nava-rasas. It exhibits DVG’s trademark poetic prowess: his absolute command over Kannada, his gift for minting new words and phrases, and giving us alluring emotional content.
On the national and civilisational plane, Svatantra bhārata abhinandanā stava is his unparalleled rebuttal to Nehru’s Tryst of Destiny speech… and everything the Nawab stood for. As we noted in the previous episode of this series, we shall offer a contrasting analysis of both.
THE OPENING VERSE OF Svatantra bhārata abhinandanā stava brings alive the physical form of Bharata-Mata. It is significant that DVG does not use the term, “Bharatavarsha” throughout the work. Here is the list of adjectives DVG paints Bharata-Mata with:
Jagadakhilahitē — The bestower of peace and well-being to the whole world.
divyatējōvibhūtē — The Exalted Goddess who emanates divine radiance.
paurānī — The Ageless Goddess
puṇyavāṇi — The one who gave us the ancient wisdom couched in the Vedas, Upanishads, epics, Puranas, etc.
bahukulajanani — The Mother of countless Kulas (generally, people hailing from various backgrounds, languages, etc).
brahmavijñānadāni — The one who gave us the Knowledge of Brahman.
dharmadīkṣāpraśastē — The one who is renowned for taking the vow of Dharma and abiding by it.
The translation of these terms clearly dilutes the grandeur and sublimity of the original. This was DVG’s Bharata-Mata who obtained freedom. In the same verse, he visualises her as a Queen (rājni) who could now sit unfettered on the throne of India and chart a victorious future.
Contrast this vision of Bharata-Mata with Nehru’s opening line: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.” It sounds poignant and it is. But it is also a mound of profound nothingness. Read that sentence again. What concrete meaning does it convey?
This is the clearest contrast between deracination and uncompromising cultural anchorage. Arguably, Nehru couldn’t even pronounce the aforementioned synonyms of Bharata-Mata, let alone know their meanings.
The second verse is intensely emotional, doubtless emanating from the very core of DVG’s being. He traces Bharatavarsha’s civilisational trajectory from its primordial builders like Manu, Māndhāta, and Bhagīratha all the way up to 1947. Bharata-Mata has had the fortune of being served by such illustrious and selfless kings. And then came Her great downfall in the form of centuries of enslavement.
Then, DVG asks Her a simple question which has the power to elicit tears from a rock: “O Mother, did you suffer such prolonged and excruciating servitude in order to instil Samskara in your children?” This stirringly resonates with Ananda Coomaraswamy’s moving essay titled, Mata Bharata.
Indeed, the near-total obliteration of Samskara in our political and public life is the primary reason for the crassness and criminality plaguing us. The obliteration was deliberately engineered. Today, we have high-ranking ministers who openly declare that Samskara is a Brahminical tool of oppression. Thus, DVG’s fond hope that Bharata-Mata suffered in order to re-culture her children has been cruelly shattered by them.
However, he is also not blind to the pitfalls of an independent India which had uncritically adopted democracy — an alien system of alleged self-rule, which had been untested in practice. In fact, DVG is anxious. He pleads with Her: “O Mother, bless our people with purity of mind, refinement of speech, and stainless spirit so that we can sustain this self-rule forever.”
Contrast this with Nawab Nehru who was full of thoughtless bluster fantasising that he would “make” a “new” India. A “new” India that would magically forget its past. A “new” India that would be built without first erecting safeguards to our freedom.
This is what he says in his speech: “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new… The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us.” (Emphasis added)
Terms like “old” and “new” must be properly contextualised on the plane of philosophy. Because Time is a continnum, demarcations like ‘old’ and ‘new’ become problematic. You can’t “step out” from the “old” because “new” is inseparable from the “old.” But Nehru’s nonsense can only be understood when we take him at face value — his undisguised contempt for the whole of India’s Sanatana heritage and his unambiguous addiction to Communism, which seeks to annihilate the existing order. No country uprooted its past in toto and replaced it with something better.
And so, here’s another contrast: while DVG sought inspiration, guidance and solace from Bhagiratha and Sri Rama, Nehru was a confirmed mental slave of Stalin. And because he pushed India on this Stalinist course, this blighted nation lost the Samskara of Sri Rama.
To be continued
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