Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya
This memoir, translated from Hindi by me, was originally published in Hindi in 1962. In it Acharya Sahay reminisces about his meetings with Malviyaji during the 20s of the last century. Today is the 159th Birth Anniversary of the great Indian social reformer, educationist and political leader during the Indian freedom movement. It presents an intimate portrait of the Mahamana (Great Soul).The piece is an extract from the soon to be published book ,MY LITERARY MEMOIRS, by Shivapoojan Sahay. Some of his other translated memoirs of Nirala, Prasad and Premchand are already published earlier on this blog in 2011-12.
It was in the second and third decades of the 20th century. I was then living in Kashi. On the eleventh of every month of the Hindu calendar, I had several occasions of listening to the discourses on Geeta by Malaviyaji at the ‘Kala Mahavidyala’ (Arts College) of the Kashi Hindu Vishwavidyalay (BHU). Generally I would go there with Pt Kedarnath Sharma ‘Saraswat’, the editor of Suprabhatam ( a Sanskrit monthly), who was also living in Kashi in those days. When ‘Mahamana’ ( as Malaviyaji was popularly known) sat there for delivering his discourse, he reflected a strange aura around himself. With sandal paste smeared on his forehead and wearing a silken wrapper over his shoulders, with ‘Ramnam’ printed all over it, and a garland round his neck, he would look like a veritable ‘Vedvyas’ (expounding saint). Once he had revealed to his audience that his late father was also a great religious raconteur of Shrimad Bhagawat Puran*. Reminisceing about his father, he would recall how the latter could recite the entire tenth chapter of the great epic by memory and how tears would start flowing on his cheeks as he recited the Ras Panchaadhyayi Prakaran*.
Malaviyaji also would often recite from the Shrimad Bhagawad and had many of the ‘shlokas’ of its various episodes by heart. He would keep reciting and expounding the ‘shlokas’ in a flow, in a soothing tone, without looking at the text. His divine exposition would keep flowing like pure nectar into the listeners’ ears and would gratify their hearts with celestial pleasure.
In any prolonged sitting, all the time of his discourse would be spent in explaining only a few ‘shlokas’ of the Geeta. And as the discourse proceeded, he would expound with great perspicacity on various contemporary concerns – social, political and religious. Speaking on a particular chapter of Geeta, he would explain some of its most significant ‘shlokas’ in such a manner that the central import of the whole chapter, and what Lord Krishna’s core message is in that particular chapter, would be beautifully illumined in the minds of the listeners. The intent was that the message of Bhagawad Geeta could be communicated to every home in society. He would always advise his listeners that Geeta should be read regularly in every family.
Malviyaji was a great sage of the modern age. The whole Indian cultural scene appears to be a barren land in his absence. Also of the cow,he was a real benefactor. While presiding over the Delhi Congress, in his last extempore speech, with tear-filled eyes, he leaned over the shoulders of Hakim Ajmal Khan, chairman of the reception committee, bewailing the cruel neglect of the cow-protection issue. His heart was made as if of soft clay. And similar was his love for Hindi. His strenuous campaigns for the use of ‘nagari’(Hindi) script in government offices is too well-known.
C.F. Andrews, in one of his memoirs, had written about an incident when he was on a stroll with Gandhiji. Walking ahead of them were Malviyaji and Shri Shankaran Nayyar, a Justice of the Madras High Court. When he (CFA) complimented Gandhiji about the success of his non-cooperation movement, the latter pointed with his walking stick towards Malviyaji and said – “Till this gentleman accepts it, even if all 40 crore Indians are following it, I won’t consider my campaign to be successful.”
I was living in Kashi when the journal Sanatan Dharma was being published from BHU. I had been jobless for the past two years. My friend, Pt Ramanugrah Sharma told me one day that Malaviyaji wanted me to see him. I was rather surprised and sceptical about the sudden invitation. But I knew that Sharmaji was in the good books of Malaviyaji. Believing in his words, I went under great hesitation to meet Malaviyaji, specially because I did not want to thwart Sharmaji’s solicitation.
The very first question Malaviyaji put to me was – “What is your qualification?”. To this I humbly replied – “Hardly any qualification worth mentioning to you”. But then Sharmaji started telling him all kinds of things about my special merits. Finally, I was asked to come next day again which I did. I was told to shun all selfishness which I could not presume to practise, because it was something I felt myself incapable of. For two more times Sharmaji took me there. But my only attainment of those visits was touching those holy feet on all those occasions, and my realization of the noble visions that seemed to fertilise that great mind.
The annual convention of Hindu Mahasabha was being held in Calcutta, under the chairmanship of ‘Panjab Kesari’ Lala Lajpat Rai. There was an unusual excitement among the ‘sanatani’ (orthodox) Hindus. It was an open session. Lala Ramprasad, the editor of the Urdu daily Vande Mataram, presented a resolution in support of the right of the ‘shudras’ and untouchables to study the Vedas. Seconding the resolution Swami Satyadev Parivrajak said –“ When all ‘shudras’ are not bereft of sunshine, air and rains, why should they be barred from availing of God’s message in the Vedas?” At this, a lot of commotion ensued in the pandal.
Malviyaji was present on the dias. On the request of the chairman , he rose to speak amidst thunderous applause. With great composure, and with a beatific smile on his lips, he began by quoting a ‘shloka’ from Geeta – sarvopanishado gavo dogdha gopal nandanah (Krishna’s teachings come from his milking all the Upanishads). And then he said:
“God’s bounty is available for all creatures. But the study of the Vedas requires great perseverance and tenacity, which is not for everyone. That is why, He has made the essence of all the Vedas and Upanishads available for us in the Shrimad Bhagawad Geeta. Indeed, it is the Song of God, and is the highest among all scriptures in the world. And, what is more, study and reflection of Geeta is easily available for everyone. Even ‘shudras’ and the ‘antyajas’ (the most down-trodden) in society can study and benefit in life from it. As for the study of the Vedas, that will necessitate a long, persistent and tenacious study of them, which is not possible for all. Any mere resolution securing the right for all to study the Vedas will, therefore, serve no purpose.
“Let’s try to make the Geeta available to every home, one copy of it for every Hindu. The ‘shudras’ and untouchables also should be able to read it and, through it, be enlightened of the core wisdom of the Vedas. The Christians would preach their religion by distributing cheap editions of the Bible costing an anna (a penny) only. Geeta embodies the heart of the Hindu faith. Let us also publish its cheap editions to make the central core of the Vedas available to every Hindu. Once you read that, you will need no other Hindi scripture for your study.
The whole pandemonium settled down to peace. The great philanthropist Birlaji immediately rose to announce the publication and free distribution of one lakh copies of Geeta among people. The entire problem of discord melted away in a moment.
(C) Dr BSM Murty
Photo: Courtsey Google
Other important blog posts you may like to see here:
2010 : Sahitya Samagra : 5 Oct / 2011 : On Premchand: (26 May) / Has Hindi been defeated by English? : Shivpujan Sahay : (7 Dec) / 2012 : Memoirs on Prasad and Nirala : (25-26 Oct)/ 2013 : Sheaf of Old Letters (10 Oct) / 2014 : Shivpujan Sahay Smriti Samaroh:( 27 Jan) / On Amrit Lal Nagar: (18 Aug)/ On Bachchan : (27 Nov) / 2015 : On Renu: (3 Mar) / On Trilochan: (1 Apr) /Odes of Keats + Shantiniketan: (25 May) / Premchand Patron Men: (3 Aug)/ Suhagraat: Dwivediji's poem: (13 Nov)/ 2016 : Three stories of JP:(6 Jul) / On Neelabh Ashk: (24 Jul)/ / Dehati Duniya: (8 Aug)/ Anupam Mishra: Paani ki Kahaani :(Dec 25) / 2017 : Doctornama: memoirs of Shivpujan Sahay (July 10): On Prithwiraj Kapoor (Nov 6) / Rajendra Jayanti Address @ Bihar Vidyapeeth, Patna (Dec 14)/ 2018:हिंदी नव जागरण, शिवपूजन सहाय और काशी (1 Mar)/Tribute to Kedar Nath Singh (25 May) / राहुलजी और हिंदी-उर्दू-हिन्दुस्तानी का सवाल (12 Jun)/ Neelabh Mishra (16 Jun)/ Death of Shivpoojan Sahay(17 Jun) / बाबा नागार्जुन (1 Jul)/ On Kedarnath Singh (with full translation of ‘Tiger’, 15 July)/Five poems of Angst (14 Aug)/चंपारण सत्याग्रह : भारतीय राजनीति में सत्य का पहला प्रयोग (26 Nov) 2019: On Kamaleshwar’s stories collection: ‘Not Flowers of Henna’ (26 Jan)/ Why Gandhi was killed (30 Jan)/ ‘Wings on Fire’: The Art of Himanshu Joshi ( 18 April) मंगलमूर्ति की कुछ कविताएँ (28 April)/ Stanley Wolpert (12 June) / Three Eminent men (3 Aug) / Kedarnath Singh & his 10 poems (30 Aug) / Those Motihari Days! (DP Vidyarthy, 2 Nov)
Extracts from my biography of Dr Rajendra Prasad
Some extracts from my biography of Dr Rajendra Prasad: First President of India are also available on this Blog (Scroll by year and date). Also, some other articles on him.
2011: The Indigo Story (28 May) / A Planter’s Murder (17 Jul) / The Butcher of Amritsar (July 18) / 2014: The Seven Martyrs, The Last Act, The Pity of Partition, Lok ewak Sangh (14 Sep) / Early childhood in Jeeradei ( 3 Dec) / 2015: Congress in disarray, Swearing of First President (30 Jun) / 27: Clash of Convictions: Somnath (27 Aug) / Presidential Itineraries ( 8 Oct) / Congress at crossroads ( 20 Dec) 2016: Election for Second Term (15 Mar) / Visit to Soviet Union (13 May) / Limits of Presidency, Code Bill (24 Aug) / The Last Phase (28 Aug) 2017: Dr Rajendra Prasad: On Kashmir Problem ( 12 Jul) / The Swearing in of Dr Rajendra Prasad (24 July) / Remembering Dr Rajendra Prasad (Patna Univ Centenary) (15 Oct) / Dr Rajendra Prasad & Bihar Vidyapeeth (14 Dec) 2018 : A Book is born (on my newly published biography of Dr Rajendra Prasad)
You may also visit my Hindi blog – vagishwari.blogspot.com
mainly for Hindi
articles related to Shivpoojan Sahay, some of my other Hindi writings, and my translation
of Shrimad Bhagawad Geeta, Ramcharit Manas and Durga Saptshati (retold). For my English and Hindi poems please look up my third blog: murtymuse.blogspot.com & please also record your comments on these blogposts.
Dr BSM Murty, H-302, Celebrity Gardens, Sushant Golf City, Ansal API, Lucknow:226030. Mob. 7752922938 & 7985017549 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org