125 Years of K. M. Munshi


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           FEBUARY 14 , 2013           11.25 P.M.

When in the beginning of January 2013 , President of India Pranab Mukherjee went to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan headquarters in Mumbai and paid tribute to K. M. Munshi , I suddenly realized that my favourite icon , a freedom fighter and an extraordinary litterateur of India has completed 125 years of his existence .

K. M. Munshi

K. M. Munshi

I have read Hindi translations of almost all his novels . I particularly love his historical and mythological novels like ; Jai Somnath and Bhagwan Parashuram . During my adolescent years I was enamoured by his personality . His role and contribution in the re-construction of Somnath Temple is unparalleled . It speaks volumes about his character and determination that he could achieve this feat , though Jawaharlal Nehru was dead against the idea .

Book 2

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K. M. Munshi was born on 30 December 1887 in the town of Bharuch in Gujarat, and educated in Vadodara , where he excelled in academics. One of his teachers at Baroda College was Sri Aurobindo Ghosh who had a profound impression on him. Munshi was also greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Bhulabhai Desai, and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. After acquiring his degree in Law from the University of Bombay, he enrolled himself as an advocate in 1913 . About this time his first novel was being serialised in a Gujarati weekly.

Under Sri Aurobindo‘s influence, Munshi was attracted to armed rebellion against the British. He even learnt to make bombs, but when he moved to Bombay in 1915, he drifted towards the Home Rule Movement, and was later elected member of the Subjects Committee of the Indian National Congress in 1917. He started the movement for a Parliamentary wing of the Congress, and later became Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Board in 1938. The same year he founded the well-known Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Institute of Agriculture at Anand, Gujarat.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan - Mumbai

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan – Mumbai

Munshi was an active participant in the Indian Independence Movement ever since the advent of Mahatma Gandhi. He joined the Swaraj Party but returned to the Indian National Congress on Gandhiji‘s behest with the launch of the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. He was arrested several times, including during the Quit India Movement of 1942. A great admirer of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Munshi served in the Central Legislative Assembly in the 1930s.

After the independence of India, Munshi was appointed diplomatic envoy and trade agent (Agent-General) to the princely state of Hyderabad, where he served until its accession to India in 1948. Munshi was on the ad hoc Flag Committee that selected the Flag of India in August 1947, and on the committee which drafted the Constitution of India under the chairmanship of B. R. Ambedkar. He and Purushottam Das Tandon were among those who strongly opposed propagation and conversion in the constituent assembly. He was also the main driving force behind the renovation of the historically important Somnath Temple by the Government of India just after independence.

Munshi served as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 1952 to 1957. In 1959, Munshi separated from the Nehru-dominated Congress Party and started the Akhand Hindustan Movement. He , along with Chakravarti Rajagopalachari , founded the Swatantra Party, which was right-wing in its politics, pro-business, pro-free market economy and private property rights. The party enjoyed limited success and eventually died out. Later, Munshi joined the Jan Sangh.

Being a prolific writer and a conscientious journalist, Munshi started a Gujarati monthly called Bhargava. He was joint-editor of Young India and in 1954, started the Bhavan’s Journal which is published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to this day. Munshi was President of the Sanskrit Viswa Parishad, the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, and the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apart from founding Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Munshi was instrumental in the establishment of Bhavan’s College, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Rajhans Vidyalaya, Rajhans Balvatika and Panchgani Hindu School (1924). He was elected Fellow of the University of Bombay, where he was responsible for giving adequate representation to regional languages.

Besides being a politician and educator, Munshi was also an environmentalist. He initiated the Vanmahotsav in 1950, when he was Union Minister of Food and Agriculture, to increase area under forest cover. Since then Van Mahotsav a week-long festival of tree plantation is organised every year in the month of July all across the country and lakhs of trees are planted.

Works

Munshi was also a litterateur with a wide range of interests. He is well-known for his historical novels in Gujarati, especially his trilogy Patan-ni-Prabhuta (The Greatness of Patan), Gujarat-no-Nath (The Ruler of Gujarat) and Rajadhiraj (The Emperor). His other works include Jay Somnath (on Somnath temple), Krishnavatara (on Lord Krishna), Bhagavan Parasurama (on Parshurama), and Tapasvini (The Lure of Power) a novel with a fictional parallel drawn from the Freedom Movement of India under Mahatma Gandhi. Munshi also wrote several notable works in English.

Munshi has written mostly based on fictional historical themes namely

  1. Earlier Aryan settlements in India (What he calls Gaurang’s – white skinned)
  2. Krishna’s endeavors in Mahabharata kaal
  3. More recently in 10th century India around Gujarat, Malwa and Southern India.

K.M. Munshi’s novel Prithvi Vallabh was made into a movie of the same name twice. The adaptation directed by Manilal Joshi in 1924 was very controversial in its day: Mahatma Gandhi railed against it for excessive sex and violence. The second version was by Sohrab Modi in 1943.

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List of works

Novels

In Gujarati & Hindi languages :-

  • Mari Kamala (1912)
  • Verni Vasulat (1913) (under the pen name Ghanashyam)
  • Patanni Prabhuta (1916)
  • Gujaratno Nath (1917)
  • Rajadhiraj (1918)
  • Prithvivallabh (1920)
  • Svapnadishta (1924)
  • Lopamudra (1930)
  • Jay Somanth (1940)
  • Bhagavan Parashurama (1946)
  • Tapasvini (1957)
  • Krishnavatara (in seven volumes) (1970)
  • Kono vank
  • Lomaharshini
  • Bhagvan Kautilya
  • Pratirodha (1900)
  • Atta ke svapana (1900)
  • Gaurava kā pratīka (1900)
  • Gujarat ke Gaurava (1900)
  • Sishu aura Sakhi (1961)

Dramas

  • Brahmacharyashram (1931)
  • Dr. Madhurika (1936)
  • Pauranik Natako

Non-fiction

  • Ketlak Lekho (1926)
  • Adadhe Raste (1943)

Notable works in English

Death of Delhi’s Girl Child : ” A Candle In The Wind “


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 29 , 2012           05.00 P.M.

Woke up today to the sad news of the death of  the unfortunate girl , who got gang raped in Delhi in a moving bus . She battled for her life for few days and finally succumbed to her wounds , physical and mental both .

I became numb . Shame and guilt engulfed me . In our religion we worship 51 SHAKTIPEETHAS , temples of goddess Durga , yet this happened . In our country even rivers and animals are called MATA , yet this happened . In our literature women are eulogized , yet this happened . Eons ago Manusmriti eulogized women as :

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते , रमन्ते तत्र देवताः ,

यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते , सर्वास्तत्रा  क्रिया अफलाः ।।

[ That house becomes abode of Gods , where women are worshipped . Everything fails in the place , where they get insulted . ]

Jay Shankar Prasad , a Hindi poet , also wrote about women in his epic book ” Kamayani ” :

नारी तुम केवल श्रद्धा हो , विश्वास रजत नग पगतल में ,

पीयूष स्रोत सी बहा करो , जीवन के  सुन्दर समतल में ।।

English: Durga puja at Burdwan

Durga puja at Burdwan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But it all seems in vain . Women are , in their daily life , subjected to rape , insult , verbal abuse and teasing . Their whole existence is at stake at their working places . In public transport they have to face leery looks of lecherous men .Voyeurism is prevalent in our culture and we do take voyeuristic pleasure while gaping at women . We eulogize women as Goddesses but the reality is pathetic .

English: Beggar Girl at one of New Delhi's bus...

Beggar Girl at one of New Delhi’s busy Metro Rail Stations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is unfortunate . Whatever happened was very unfortunate . But more unfortunate was the behaviour of our ruling oligarchs . Sheila Dikshit , the woman Chief Minister of Delhi , looked helplessly . Sonia Gandhi , the Chairperson of UPA and President of Congress made a pretence of meeting protesters . It is now alleged that they were members of NSUI , the student wing of Indian National Congress . Youth icon Rahul Gandhi is maintaining stoic silence . He does some drama of going to villages and eating and sleeping in the houses of Harijans whenever elections are round the corner . But a 23 old girl’s plight couldn’t move him . Most unfortunate behaviour came from Sushil Kumar Shinde , the Home Minister . He is a Dalit but was unable to empathise with the other weaker section , the hapless girl . President Pranab Mukherjee’s son is another nut case . His very unfortunate remark about some ”  …..dented and painted ……. women coming for few second’s fame ” is deplorable . Sanjay Nirupam also came to chip in . His remarks against Smriti Irani shows his male chauvinism .

Chief Minister of Delhi

Sheila Dikshit , Chief Minister of Delhi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Sonia Gandhi, Indian politician, pres...

Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: , from a photograph showing a meeting...

Rahul Gandhi . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Pranab Mukherjee, Indian politician, ...

Pranab Mukherjee, current President of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Sanjay Nirupam

Sanjay Nirupam , Congress MP (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though the girl wanted to live , she is now dead . The ruling oligarchy is trying every trick in the book to save their skin . Delhi has become a war zone . India Gate is beyond reach of common people . Members of Congress are shedding copious tears . But everyone knows that these male chauvinist are just trying to gain time . Public memory is short and elections are still 2 years away . These morons know that by the time next general election is announced , this hapless girl child will be a forgotten news .

Today , when I was reading all the comments about this girl , I suddenly remembered Elton John’s song ” A Candle In The Wind ” . He had originally made it in 1973 for Marilyn Monroe  . He re – wrote the song in 1997 for Princess Diana . I am giving the original version . Words are still relevant , even though 39 years have passed and it was written for another person and in totally different circumstances :

Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on the treadmill
And they made you change your name
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did
Loneliness was tough
The toughest role you ever played
Hollywood created a superstar
And pain was the price you paid
Even when you died
Oh the press still hounded you
All the papers had to say
Was that Marilyn was found in the nude
Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
Goodbye Norma Jean
From the young man in the 22nd row
Who sees you as something more than sexual
More than just our Marilyn Monroe
These ominous words still haunt you . They are still relevant . I end my blog with agony , pain and head bowed in shame .
Good bye , young one ! You were destiny’s unfortunate child …….
And it seems to me , you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in

I have nothing more to say . If you stand for a girl child , I know what you can face . Whole system will gang up against you . Male chauvinist , their accomplices and their pathetic factotum , sycophants and fawning parasites will try to muzzle your voice . And voyeuristic India will only look with glee and sadistic pleasure . None will come forward to help . It will become a lonely , personal fight , an uneven , unequal battle .

But without caring for male chauvinist , I will try to inculcate these views of mine among the students of my acting school ,  Vidur’s Kreating Charakters . So that , if needs be , they could be of some help to a girl child and just won’t be a moot spectator .

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