RBS – Budhbarer Boithik – Mahatma Gandhi o Lala Bahadur Shastri Birth Anniversary Commemoration. 30th September, 6:30pm.
From the Desk of the General Secretary, Rabindra Bharati Society
Since 2nd October, the auspicious day of our nation, would be two days later, we thought of celebrating yesterday’s adda by reminiscing the birth of two great sons of India, viz. Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. Though the years are different, these two great personalities share the same birthday.
After welcoming all present, I informed the audience that Shri Anup Motilal, who was the sole speaker for the evening on Lal Bahadur Shastri, called to express his inability to attend the programme due to some urgent preoccupation and sincerely apologised for the same. However, he promised to deliver a talk some other day on any given topic. Since nobody could be arranged within a short span I decided to take the onus on me and speak on this great leader.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was born in Moghalsarai on 2nd October, 1904, to a truly humble family. He joined the National Congress party under the able leadership of Pandit Jwaharlal Nehru and served as the Railway Minister from 1951-1956 and Home Minister from 1956-1961. When the Late Indira Gandhi refused to succeed her father and take on the responsibility of steering India, at that point of time Shastriji took hold of the reins and went on to become the 2nd Prime Minister of independent India from 1961 till his death in 1966, succeeding Pandit Nehru. He was literally the hero of the Indo-Pak war which took place in 1965 and his famous slogan “Jai Kisan Jai Jawan”, united the country and is still fresh in the minds of all Indians. He had a very calm demeanour and in 1966 was appointed by Indian bureaucrats as the chief delegate to visit Russia to sign the Peace Treaty in Tashkent. He died mysteriously soon after the said Treaty was signed. His death was then passed off as cardiac arrest to avoid national unrest. But later on his family filed a case to probe his death and it was given to understand that Pakistani spies had actually murdered him. His wife, Lalita Shastri was a downright humble woman and led a very simple life. Their house, “Shastri Bhawan” had been declared as a heritage building and a tourist site after this famous personality’s demise. This year we will be celebrating his 116th birth anniversary.
After my talk Shri Abbay Chattopadhyay sang two patriotic songs, one being a famous “tomra ekhono ghumao” by Charan Kabi Mukunda Das, which awakened our spirits.
Dr. Sujit Kumar Basu, Working President, Rabindra Bharati Society, then went on to speak on Gandhiji. Being the erstwhile Vice Chancellor of Biswa Bharati in Shantiniketan, he enlightened us with the relationship Kabi Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore had with Gandhiji in their Shantiniketan perspective and opened his speech by reciting a poem on Gandhiji written by Kabi Guru. He said Gandhiji visited Shantiniketan 8 times as he found great solace there. His first visit was on 17th February, 1915 with his wife Kasturba Gandhi but unfortunately Kabi Guru was absent then. That did not stop him from getting a warm welcome and a hearty reception by the denizens of the town and he was extremely touched by it. The couple stayed there for 2 days then as described by Tagore’s Secretary, Late Sudha Kanta Roy Choudhury. Gandhiji appreciated Tagore’s new form of education in the open amongst nature and greenery. As a tribute of respect, Bapuji’s birthday was marked by Tagore as cleaning of Shantiniketan, the legacy of which is being carried on till date. On 29th May, 1925, Gandhiji brought a charka or spinning wheel, placed it in Sriniketan and taught the pupils there the art of weaving. The house where Gandhiji used to reside later came to be known as “Gandhi Bhawan”. Once Kabi Guru requested him to stay in his abode and gave him a room which was decorated with flowers and leaves, like all other rooms, as was the normal practice. Gandhiji was genuinely amused and said “it looked like a bridal room”, not befitting his stature. Both these two personalities were bound with love and had great respect for each other. Dr. Basu ended his speech with another poem on the “Mahatma”, the name that Rabindra Nath Tagore gave Gandhiji and which stayed on from then till now.
Then Smt. Sangeeta Basu Roy, Vice Principal, Army Public School, Barrackpore, rendered two Ram Bhajans, one being Gandhiji’s favourite “baiswanava janoto”, which was so apt for the evening’s ambience.
Next, famous orator, Shri Satyakam Bagchi touched on the general life of Gandhiji who was born on 2nd October, 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat, as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. After schooling in India he went to London to study at the Bar-At-Law and became a barrister soon after. South Africa was then facing a lot of problems on racism and so in 1893 Gandhiji decided to travel to that unknown land to fight for the rights of the natives there and eradicate the colour bias ideas that were prevalent in that country. Back home then, India was in a state of turmoil under the British. So he decided to return to his motherland in 1915. Once here, he started the Swaraj Movement to fight against the British Raj. He also undertook the Satyagraha, Salt and Dandy Movement and fought for the rights of the farmers, education of women and attempted to eliminate the caste system and the concept of untouchables arising there from. He campaigned extensively from 1913 – 1938.
Though they were divided in their ideologies, Gandhiji had a cordial relation with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose whom he called the “Prince of the Patriots” and Netaji likewise termed Bapuji as “Sarbosresto Manush” or Mahatma. Unfortunately, most people thought they shared a bitter relationship. Gandhiji liked Bengal very much and stayed many times in Noakhali, Sodepur and many other places in the State.
Bapuji also had an affable relationship with Rabindra Nath Tagore. For generating funds, at the ripe old age, Tagore was touring with his group all over India from 11th March, 1936, performing his scripted dance drama “Chitrangada”. When they arrived to perform in Delhi on 26th and 27th of the month, Gandhiji approached Tagore and asked him how much money he required to settle down. He then gave Tagore a cheque of Rs. 60,000/- towards expanding Shantiniketan, which was a huge amount in those days. Kabi Guru wrote his last letter on 19th February, 1940 to Gandhiji and thanked him profusely for his support and bailing him out of a dire situation.
Earlier Gandhiji believed ‘Iswar e Satya” (God is Truth) but later went on to believe “Satya e Iswar” (Truth is God). In 1948 when he was conducting a prayer meeting he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. The last words he uttered were “Hey Ram”. Reverently called the “Father of the Nation” and lovingly known as “Bapuji”, he was nominated 5 times for Nobel Prize as he was a true believer and genuinely practiced Ahimsa. After his death his birthday was declared as International Day of Non-violence. Great personalities like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Einstein, Romarola and others were inspired by this great leader and treaded on his path. This year we will be celebrating his 151st birth anniversary.
Shri Bagchi ended his speech with a self-written poem on Gandhi.
Then Smt. Sohini Bhattacharya rendered two Ram Bhajans in tune with the topic of the evening, one of which was from Singer Anup Jalota’s album, “Ram Ramaiya gaye ja”, which was appreciated by all.
It was followed by a poem on Gandhiji, titled “Park Street er Statue”, recited by Smt. Mohua Mukherjee, which tells us to contemplate on where we are all aimlessly heading to.
The last participant was our member, Smt. Sipra Bose, who also sang two Bhajans, one of Tulsidas and the other from Gandhiji’s Bhajan album, where he instructed all to clap while it was being sung. It was none other than Bapuji’s signature tune “Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram”, which was so close to his heart and all, could not help but lending their voices to it.
Before the baithak concluded, I apprised all that the next week we would do a programme on one of the greatest reformers of modern India, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, whose birth anniversary was on 28th September.
The evening ended with the Vote of Thanks by our member, Smt. Debjani Majumdar.
1st October, 2020