History of Modern India Part 2
However another dramatic change took place before that. India’s secular leader Nehru performed Hindu rituals before independence. He attended Hindu rites. How did this happen? 2 Hindu Pandits visited Nehru’s home in Delhi on the evening of August 14. It is unclear who did invite them? Nehru joined them outside his home. They gave him a white silk shawl, rubbed sacred ashes on his forehead and performed other rituals.
They also sprinkled holy water over him. Nehru didn’t object to those rituals. The seemingly ordinary rituals gave an unusual message. It was clear now that India was a Hindu state. Nehru showed himself as a Hindu and not a secular person. Because he didn’t perform such rituals with Muslims or other religious communities. However Jawaharlal Nehru introduced a secular constitution later on. After those rituals, Nehru started preparing his freedom speech. A phone call before the speech disturbed him.
He was informed of the riots and loss of life in Lahore. The news was shocking for Nehru because he loved Lahore. He was elected as President of the Congress party in Lahore. India’s complete independence (Purna Swaraj) was also demanded in Lahore. A resolution had set the last Sunday of January 1930 as India’s Independence Day. 26th of January was the last Sunday.
This day became India’s Republic day. Nehru had also hoisted the Indian flag near the Ravi River on December 31, 1929. Pakistan Resolution was also passed in Lahore in 1940. All this adds to Lahore’s historical significance. The resolutions for the establishment of both Pakistan and India were passed in Lahore. That’s why the news of the riots in Lahore disturbed Nehru. His daughter Indira Gandhi and son-in-law Feroze Gandhi were also with him at the time.
Nehru asked Indira, “How can I speak today?” “How can I express happiness when I know that my Lahore, my beautiful city Lahore is burning?” Indira Gandhi still encouraged him to focus on his speech. That night, Nehru went to the Parliament. Parliament’s main hall was full of MPs. Congress leader Sucheta Kripalani was also present in the Parliament. She sang Allama Iqbal’s famous national poem “TarÄnah-e-Hindi.” India is better than the whole world.
We are its nightingales and it is our garden. Thousands of streams flow on its land. Even paradise praises our gardens. The River of Ganges surely remembers the day. When our caravan landed on its banks. The religion doesn’t preach hate. We are Indians and India is our homeland. Then she also sang the controversial Indian anthem of Vande Mataram.
This anthem was the exact opposite of Allama Iqbal’s anthem. Iqbal’s anthem represented a nation living in one geography. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Vande Mataram only praised on religion and opposed the other. Chatterjee had written Vande Mataram in his famous novel “Anandmath.” This Bengali novel was first published in 1882. The novel depicted the revolt of Bengali Hindus against the Muslim rule in the 18th century.
The novel gave message that the British rule over India was temporary. Soon Hindus would be ready to rule. They would occupy India and wipe out all Muslims from the country. A character in the novel used to sing Vande Mataram to provoke his comrades. The anthem declared that Hindus were one nation and the children of motherland India.
It said that the Hindus were not weak. The combined strength of their swords could easily defeat their Muslim foes. So this controversial anthem was sung in the Indian Parliament and Nehru didn’t object to it. This was the 2nd major event after the Pandits visited Nehru’s home. This development was contrary to India’s secular stance.
It showed that the religious identity might demolish secularism in the future. Vande Mataram is the essential part of the Hindutva ideology of the Indian nationalist parties. So, these two anthems were sung in the Indian Parliament that night. Nehru took the podium at 11:55 pm.