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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Blessed path

What does it mean to leave a newspaper one has grown with for several decades and join a political party's think-tank? 

Leaving Panchjanya is like giving up a part of my body, a whole world of love and affection and unstinting support from those who kept the flame of my conscience alive. It's rare to become the second youngest editor of a journal which is widely regarded as the voice of the largest Hindu movement on earth and survive so long there. Working in an ideological paper elevates. But it binds too. It's unbelievable that in my nineteen years as editor, there was not a single moment when my RSS bosses called me and said: “Look, this is not done. What you have published is wrong in our eyes, better correct or...” Never. 

We committed mistakes, published what hurt our own, and took immense liberties. When L.K. Advani was Deputy. Prime Minister and Home Minister, we wrote an editorial severely criticizing his Kashmir policy. We were not de-listed. And Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not only my first editor, but first reader too. Many of our issues were warmly appreciated and severely criticized by him. He would call even when he became Prime Minister to say what we have published is good or simply intolerable. He didn't like criticising opponents personally and would always advise: “Oppose as vehemently you can, but on policies and programmes. Refrain from personal attacks.” 

We started publishing film reviews more freely, a women's column with a picture of a beautiful lady and news and views of all our opponents in a paper that was widely perceived as conservative and archaic. Everyone who opposed our ideological stand was published honourably without a single cut, from Somnath Chatterjea to A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja to Shahabuddin and Bukhari. IPTA's theatre new items got published along with Sanskar Bharati's. It shocked our opponents but pleased our friends – it showed the strength of our commitment to what we believe in – dialogue. That's Hindutva and not the Siberia-ism or creating of a Gulag on every news desk by the so called 'independent', 'objective' and 'fearless' journalists of the secular hue. 

There were moments when the Sarsanghchalak (RSS Chief) would simply walk in without prior notice to see how we were working and have a cup of tea or nimbu pani . We all worked at very low salaries put in the longest hours without complaining or demanding overtime; the mission kept us alive. It's difficult, if not impossible to work in a Hindi journal to cater ideological arsenal to the faithful when the entire intellectual discourse has been confined to just one language – English. You end up creating more foes than friends. But as Rajju Bhaiyya (Prof. Rajendra Singh), my mentor and the fourth RSS chief used to say, take the challenge head on and look into the eyes of your opponent fearlessly. You will emerge a winner. Be willing to self-correct and believe only in one god – your ideology with a 200 per cent commitment. Everything else, including the top leaders, is secondary to ideology. He would add that if you are going to Thiruvananthapuram, don't get into a squabble at Jhansi station. Once he said: “Never go too close to leaders you adore” , adding that sometimes proximity turns you from idolatrous to iconoclastic, citing the examples of Nehru and Narsimha Rao. 

Too many years at one station makes one yearn for a change and new challenges. Going to Zanskar on a 10-day Wangchuk Chhenpo chaddar trek or getting lost in the Indus source region in Nyari province of western Tibet are some of the things I wanted to take up while exploring new avenues and vistas of Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya's Integral Humanism as a student. I also had to honour my commitment to my Chinese friends to write a book on bilateral relations. It took exactly three years to have my work station changed. In the history of Panchjanya I got the best farewell ever given to an editor. What else would a journalist dream of? 

Some felt happy and a couple of friends emailed me – “Oh! Sorry to see you joining a political set-up... It's a world where old tea planters of the butchery inclinations have been replaced by 'news planters' pocketing media sources to back stab a colleague, in whose appreciation a book might have been released by the same politician hours before. In contemporary polity, talking ideology is not exactly an 'in' thing. Ideologies look collapsed and are fast replaced by a polity of wealth and deceit. Though it might be a general perception, the basic values of simplicity and commitment have survived and always find a patient audience. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Hiren Mukherji, Ram Manohar Lohia, Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Patel can be named among hundreds of such people who are still adored and inspire. Ideological apartheid should give way to a shared commitment to an idea called India. 

My take is: never compromise on your commitments. It's your actions alone that save. Ultimately you have to bear your own cross. As a Hindu, the life and soul are immortal, only the attire, the body, perishes and a new life awaits. So why fear? M.S. Golwalkar, the spiritual fountainhead of the RSS, would warn: never be hasty in forming a government without ideological commitment. 

I feel indebted not only to those whose colour I wear, but to those as much whom we have been attacking and hopefully will continue to oppose for their different hue of ideas. Some of the best friends who taught me the real meaning of understanding and intellectual honesty are those who are across the fence and they are Muslims, Christians and hardened Communists who make me envious of their unabridged commitment. They have enriched my life and opened new windows. 

To cap it, we went to Vaishno Devi on 25th Feb and it taught me strength of higher values, of ideology overpowering micro-identities. If life was just bread and butter, pilgrimages would be a non-starter and music wouldn't have been described as ennobling. 

In times of precipitated intolerance against each other based on parochial and religious identities, the pilgrims' progress shows the strength of nobler bonds. There were Marathis and Biharis, UP- wale bhaiyyas and Gujaratis mingling with Malyalees and Punjabis of all shades – amdasis, Sikhs and Monas (Hindus) and Buddhists from Leh and Sikkim .All melted in one colour - Jai Mata Ki. Each one helps the other to walk miles of steep climb and encourages the other to keep at it. They may be complete strangers and none notices if the other is well dress or poorly attired. A billionaire and a cobbler walk the same path with the same confidence and commitment. That's the miracle of sharing and believing I saw during the Ramjanmabhoomi movement where provincial, caste and language identities were completely submerged in the broader, higher goal of rejuvenating the bruised national icon of Sri Ram. During the Kargil war too, the same spirit of harmony was exhibited extraordinarily and it bound Indians of all faiths with a thread of patriotism. This can be achieved only through ideology of purpose and not through personality cults. 

It was an ideology that gave us Buddha who inspired people the world over, instilling universal values of acceptance and inclusiveness. Today he represents the soul of India more than anyone else. Life revolves around ideas. Bricks, mortar, reproduction and sumptuous meals play a supplementary role: essential yet not the whole. A stream of ideas encompassing a world view, woven around ennobling values and defining the relationship between the known and the unknown often forms an ideological way. Those who have chosen one are blessed. 

Today the battle is ideological being fought by ill-equipped warriors of different hues. Some understand it a personal play and keep their organization a private limited corporate business trading votes for some considerations. The long-term players with ideological commitments can wait patiently to find the opportune time for the final victory. That alone will help and not the impatience leading to unsavoury compromises. There has to be a paradigm shift in our approach and idioms that we use to address the youth. That alone is going to lead the war of ideologies. The myth of Aryan invasion, a Dhimmitude directing our polity and actions, intense hateful assaults on anything Hindu and spineless responses by an ill-informed crowd that represents the durbari class of Raibahadurs of the colonial period, absence of unity of purpose and the threat of barbaric intolerance can be faced with an uncompromising and unapologetic pride in being Indian inheritors of a great Hindu civilization. 

Being a Hindu should be an elevating and enriching factor of our life instead of making us feel embarrassed. Sri Aurobindo had clearly and unambiguously defined our nationalism as Sanatan Dharma, the eternal righteousness that defines what people understand as Hinduism. None has ever said that Sri Aurobindo was communal, so why do have fear today? He believed in the great destiny of India and gave us a path that was universal yet distinctly Indian. Why hesitate to redefine it and adopt for contemporary polity? Defeating ideologies incompatible with the contemporary values of egalitarianism and plurality should form our foundation of nationalism which strives for material progress and ecological safeguards too as an essential part of Hindu dharma. As much as 1.25 lakh sq km of our land is in enemy possession; this, as well as two flags for Kashmir fluttering over Srinagar Secretariat and the killing and uprooting of patriots should hurt us, give us sleepless nights and steel our resolve to undo the wrongs. 

Our entire approach to science and technological advances has to be tested on the touchstone of ecological safety and human happiness with an integral approach to all creations, overwriting the consumerist approach. 

Those who fear war get war and those who are ashamed at being what they are get nothing but shame from everyone. Never say yes when you ought to say no and never compromise on basic issues. That's what those who have an ideological commitment declare. Rest, simply pass time. 

1 comment:

Tarun Vijay said...

Sudarshan Vaidya,Pune,says:Tarunji, you have mentioned 'Aryan invasion myth'. Can you please publish an article explaining why that is a myth, and how we Indians are 'homogeneous'? There are lot of views and counter-views on this topic, including the 'India Out theory'. We would love to have your accurate exposition on this topic, so that it will have a 'uniting' effect on a huge number of readers!
[5 Mar, 2008 0937hrs IST]

suresh,India,says:We talk of Hindus so freequently and with so pride but do we ever know that nowhere in Ramayana, Gita and Mahabharat came the reference of Hindu. Then from where this word crept in. This Hindu word is also missing from Sanskrit Grammer or Dictionary. It is heard that HINDU is not a native name but it is one which has been given to us by Muslim Invaders who invaded India to loot this great nation but failed to convert it to Islam completely and rather could not elevate it to more than a second grade religious sect. History tells that it is only India which whethered the sword of islam to remain Aryan but elsewhere like Iran it took less than a decade after the death of Prophet Mohammed to the completely converted to Islam. So we all so called intellectuals should at least make an effort to find out wherefrom word 'Hindu'came as we pride in calling ourselves Hindus completely ignoring the fact it does not find place in any of our sacred texts.
[5 Mar, 2008 0742hrs IST]

Shruti Anand,Stamford, CT, USA,says:Hi Tarun, I live in CT,USA and try to read TOI once in 3 days. Your articule on 'Blessed Path' was very well written and most importantly reflects truth and what Hindutva stands for. It is commendable and I hope it spreads light in the minds of fanatics in India who're advocating a wrong notion about this religion.
[5 Mar, 2008 0034hrs IST]

counterview,Hyderabad,says:Dear Mr. Tarun, I have started reading your articles only a few months back. Although I sometimes find your language harsh and acrimonious, however it is nice to read the other( read right-wing) view on various issues surrounding the nation. Please continue your articles in TOI.
[4 Mar, 2008 1823hrs IST]

Mahendra Itolikar,Mumbai,says:Tarunji God bless you,you just go ahead we are there with you always.
[4 Mar, 2008 1757hrs IST]

Krishnamurthy,Chennai,says:An honest, forthright journalist like Tarun has filled a very very important role in an Indian media that is so full of "political correctness". Indians and students of India need to recognise the larger canvass of his ideology and its historical significance. No civilisation can ignore the lessons of the past - to be oblivious to its strength and weaknesses rooted in its deeper history and psyche. Tarun brings those out to our attention. That is an important service to the nation - which helps every community, not just the majority. I pray that he continues to serve us in that capacity.
[4 Mar, 2008 1201hrs IST]

Vivek,Dubai,says:Very true Tarunji. This is exactly what Swami Vivekananda told.. its better to play football than read gita 1000 times over. Some of my ISCON friends hated Vivekananda for that. But the point is, there is no use of reading it over and over unless you follow the path. Why else would a monk inspire and ask Tata to start a college of higher education (later known as IISc). We cannot lead a life for fun..(pass the time).. need to have an idealogy and follow it. Thank you Tarun for all your work
[4 Mar, 2008 1041hrs IST]

Prasanthi ,Bhimavaram,says:Dear MR Tarun, Please fight against the so called Hindu leaders who are net upon splitting Hindus in the name of regions/sons of soil theories. Mr Advani and BJP are hell bent on splitting Andhrites into two or more states.This gives Telangana where moists and muslims a big say in power in that region.Mr Raj Thackery's misdeeds are before everybody's eyes and ears. WIth people like these how Hindus can not feel ashamed.
[4 Mar, 2008 0941hrs IST]

Capt. Ajay Tripathi,Tokyo,says:Dear Tarun, I always learnt something new in your each article I have read so far. I never knew that Kashmir assembly fly 2 Flags! Please keep writing with same spirit. Your writings are different from the bulk of articles we read and sounds same.
[4 Mar, 2008 0907hrs IST]

Gaurang,New castle,says:It is a great loss to journalism , tarun ji you are one of the few patriotic journalist who dare to think and care about our motherland , it is a heart breaking news and very hard to accept , and i hope TOI will continue the good task of publishing your enlightened articles.
[3 Mar, 2008 2352hrs IST]

s.v.nathan,Mumbai,says:Dear Shri Tarun, May God continue to guide you in your new role. May you be bestowed with Wisdom and Courage, which will bring peace, prosperity and plentiful to our country and in turn to the world at large
[3 Mar, 2008 0850hrs IST]

ramanujan,denmark,says:sivaraman..its not toi's fault that they dont publish the view anti tarun..its because people dont write anti tarun comments..a person from cpi would also like his articles as they are true and they have no other option but to accept them
[2 Mar, 2008 1733hrs IST]

pradeep,UAE,says:Good luck Tarunji, we are sure you will be shining star wherever you are Best regards
[2 Mar, 2008 1526hrs IST]

Sushant Singhal,Saharanpur,says:Whenever Tarun writes, he does a lot of homework, collects information from different sources, cross-checks it, delves deep into various aspects and then starts writing with such flair and authority that it becomes extremely difficult to contradict or even ignore him. Writing for ideology is not enough, it is all the more necessary to write logically and with a sense of duty towards to society. I consider myself fortunate to have Tarun as my sincere friend, well-wisher and advisor. May God make him more and more capable of serving the mankind.
[2 Mar, 2008 1318hrs IST]

anagha,pune,says:Tarunji..we wish the best of everything on any path u chose to enlighten people...may god bring many people like you to serve our nation...we are so proud of you now there is a leader whome we can follow without any hesitation...Indian politics needs u....India needs someone like you..May god give u all the strength and success ..
[2 Mar, 2008 1123hrs IST]

umesh,Bhopal,says:If Tarun ji is corrupt then it would be the Question of our work culture .It is attack not only a man who is devoted for motherlad but also a blam on whome those are devoting his/her life for nation .
[1 Mar, 2008 2109hrs IST]

Raj,India,says:The articles of Tarunji are a welcome change and a treat as compared to the bulletins from the ill-informed,misguided and directionless electronic media. I strongly believe that we need right wing electronic media as well-one which could instill our people with confidence and a sense of pride in our religious and cultural heritage.I am afriad to say that currently the most of the popular electronic media has a demoralising effect on the nation. Best wishes to Tarunji.People want to see a BJP government at the centre so that the current non-sense could come to an end.I am sure with Tarunji in BJP thinktank-the same would be realised soon.
[1 Mar, 2008 1627hrs IST]

Ax Nair,Noida,says:Dear Tarunji thank you very much for this enlightening article.
[1 Mar, 2008 1407hrs IST]

Rakesh,Kansas City,says:Another master piece from Tarun, BRAVO Tarun!!!! God bless you & give more strength to you to serve country. JAI HIND!
[1 Mar, 2008 1009hrs IST]

Raynah Sivaraman,Manila,says:If Tarun Vijay feels grateful to those who "oppose" his views, then why is it that such views are rarely published in response to his articles? TOI, you've done a disservice to Tarun Vijay -- it's in the spirit of a good dialogue that all comments (unless obnoxious or indecent)should be published.
[1 Mar, 2008 0536hrs IST]
anithaj ,USA,says:Thought provoking article by Tarunji,we indians are very proud of you, your selfless service and immense knowledge will place BJP in a better perspective, please do continue to inspire the youth in all your pursuit.
[1 Mar, 2008 0358hrs IST]

Sriram,USA,says:Tarun ji, journalists like you stand apart in this country where a media is so hell bent on twisting the truth .My sincere wishes to you. Jai Hind!
[1 Mar, 2008 0204hrs IST]

P S Shrimali,Mumbai,says:Dear Taruni Ji , I started reading your articles ever since they started appearing in TOI.Every single article of yours have entlightened & touched me.I will miss you if I don't find your articles on TOI.
[29 Feb, 2008 1632hrs IST]

shivdasa,new york city,says:a gr8 loss for panchjanya..and i wud like to ask mr oanchanan agrawalla tht do u really find alok"ji" appropriate..panchjanaya where d start was only given by former pm atal bihari vajpayee findin a person as intelligent, intellectual n philosophical like tarun is not even difficult but impossible..tarun ke jaisa aadami lana mushkil hi nahi namumkin hai..
[29 Feb, 2008 1232hrs IST]

Rajesh,India,says:It is sad that we will not have any more of these wonderful articles. There was nothing ethnic or communal in any of the articles, but just facts and information packaged in a way that was simple and inspiring. Thanks to TOI for posting these articles. However, it is sad that there was always a disclaimer in the end.
[29 Feb, 2008 0848hrs IST]

Yogesh Datta,Canberra,says:"This can be achieved only through ideology of purpose and not through personality cults.", please tell this to Congress which can not survive without "Gandhi" tag around someone's neck, even if the person is a foreigner.
[29 Feb, 2008 0321hrs IST]

ktej,USA,says:Best wishes for the future. An impeccable record as a professional journalist and true Indian. My hats off to you, dear Tarunji. Hope Times of India will continue to be the leader to enable us to read his views.
[29 Feb, 2008 0206hrs IST]

shurkumishra,bhubaneswar,says:dear sir, i am a regular reader of your collumn since they started appearing in times of india and have become your admirer.therefore i was immensely pained when a reporter of sahara tv reported your departure from panchajanya because of corruption charges.ofcourse i donot belive it but i would request you to kindly suit a defamation case against the reporter so that honest sincere and hard working people are not demoralised and the people misguiding readers/viewers must get punished.hope you will kindly understand the sentiment of an indian citizen and do accordingly.
[29 Feb, 2008 0057hrs IST]

Prabhath,UAE,says:Panchjanya's loss is BJP's gain. Tarun will defenitly be a precious weapon in BJP's armour. With Tarun in, BJP has made up the loss of Govindacharya's exit. Tarun should try to clean up BJP's rusting identity and help build it to effectively take over from the menace known as congress. All the best to Tarun.
[28 Feb, 2008 2320hrs IST]

panchanan Agrawalla, Journalist.,MA-1,Badagada Brit Colony,Bhubaneswar-751018,says:Dear Sir, The Blessed Path, article is very heart touching.when I came to know that Tarunji leaving Panchajanya,i could not belive my self,then i called Alokji from my mobile and confirmed the news.No doubt he is a very fine editor.His contribution to the the Panchajanya is very high.His qualities of editorial always appreciated.I remembered he wrote in supported Dalit entry in Jagannath temple in Keredagada,in Kendrapada ,Orissa. on 25th feb Tarun went to Vaishno Devi.Tarun Vijay is my best friend,my best Editor and my Guide. I regarded him for his mighty pen,who wrote article very fearlessly.
[28 Feb, 2008 2055hrs IST]
hrikant,Delhi,says:God Bless India. Long Live Bharath Varsh. Great article!
[28 Feb, 2008 2042hrs IST]

Dr Rajesh Sarwadnya,Mumbai,says:Tarun vijayji we all swayamsevakas around the world are proud of you ,your commitment ,sacrifice,patience and love for motherland.Thanks to times of india for their role to read and reach you.
[28 Feb, 2008 1925hrs IST]