The Voice of the Nation
by Shri Jhamatmal T. Wadhwani
[English Translation by Shri Hiro Malkani]
It was a sad Twenty Second July of 1995 as I returned home late in the night. The pyre of Late Shri Hashu Advani was still warm in the crematorium at Chembur. He had passed away at the age of 69.
The brotherly relations we developed over a period of 50 years since 1945 came to an end. It was as if this was an end of a memorable era – the end of a Satayuga – yet the memories remained evergreen.
And once again - the month of October 2003; on the twenty-eighth alas! I said goodbye to Late Shri Kewal Malkani’s mortal remains at the Raj Niwas of Pondicherry and returned home in depression along with his two sons. A full 60 years of close proximity since 1943 slipped like the passing wind. To me, Kewal at the age of 82 returned to his Divine abode. Yet another farewell to another Yuga.
A MARYADA PURUSH like Bhagwan Ramchandra, Kewal left as though a – Being dominating Dwapar Yuga.
Both Hashu and Kewal were my close loving associates. More than like brothers we knew each other intimately with regards to our style and nature of daily habits and attitudes and approach to life.
Kewal left for Delhi later in 1948 and Hashu used to be with me mostly since 1948. We both had a close relationship due to the Vivekanand Education Society, Bhartiya Sindhu Sabha, Bhartiya Jana Sangh (now Bharatiya Janata Party).
Kewal remained with Hindustan Times as correspondent (journalist) and later joined Organiser of RSS as its Chief Editor. He lived miles away yet the minds did not mind the distance. My relations both with Hashu and Kewal were unique. The emotive feelings used to surge eagerly to meet each other. There used to be a kind of feeling of oneness, exuberance and satisfaction to share the sense of working for common goals and co-operative functioning.
We shared one ideal ingrained in us and were groomed and led by that one source of idealism. The training in the RSS welded into us various aspects of ideal life. Both Hashu and Kewal devoted their lives to continuously strengthening and furthering the ideals of the Sangh. Hashu did not marry. He pledged his life to serving the society. He lived by it. Kewal un-interruptingly propagated the ideals and philosophy of the Sangh through his journalistic activities. For him marriage was a social obligation, but his soul was engaged in spreading the philosophy and activities of the Sangh. He was the Vice-Chairman of Deendayal Foundation. He served as a member of the Rajya Sabha. He was a member on various parliamentary committees. He travelled to a number of countries, studied various problems haunting the society, which he discussed in his book INDIA FIRST. He enjoyed close and respectful relationships with all the SarSangh Chalaks of the RSS. He was one of the most respectable social and political thinkers in the country. He was an educationist par excellence.
Both Hashu and Kewal did not belong to inaccessible species of human kind (social workers) rather they narrowed the distance between them and the common man. They were fond of mixing up and interacting with individuals and even their families. They lived by their ever active and positive efforts. A small cup of tea was a welcome invitation to satisfy their appetite. A few moments of restful withdrawal, be it in a train, car or bus would re-energise and revive their physical and mental dynamism.
Study of books and literature was a fond habit with both. For Kewal it was a source of livelihood and for Hashu it was both a hobby and a necessity. Intellectually sharp, they were very quick in grasping any matter. It was not difficult for them to understand and handle any difficult problem in no time. Hashu generally had delicate health. In his last sickness he was hospitalised and remained in bed for about ten weeks. Slowly and slowly each vital organ became non-functional. He was in coma for ten days and we all had enough notice to be warned that he was on his last journey.
Kewal rarely suffered sickness. Until his end he was hale and hearty. Rarely had he even a small physical complaint. It was a sudden shock to know about his sudden demise. Sindhi society has, as if lost its real worthy jewel. It was Monday of Diwali when I received a phone call at about 5.30 in the evening that Kewal was admitted to Pondicherry hospital. The telephones began ringing. I talked to his children who were on their way to Pondicherry, on phone. In the meanwhile, we watched the sad news about his departure on the T.V. announcement beginning at 7.30 in the evening.
Light of his life extinguished! Kewal’s children reached Pondicherry after midnight. The cool body lied in the hospital. Doctors’ incessant effort to resurrect him were of no avail. The inevitable had occurred.
Two days earlier, I had inquired Kewal about his health and welfare. He just laughed and said that he was perfectly alright. Only on the previous Thursday he had a bout of vomitings and subsequent investigations carried out by the Doctors. We exchanged the information on various subjects occasionally. His one son had visited him from Bangalore during Diwali holidays. Alas, he had to comeback the very next day to see his father passing away. I hurried there next morning by air together with my son Ram, and friend Ladharam. The atmosphere was pretty morose and sad. The children met me lamenting the death. Details about Kewal’s brief illness and death was conveyed to me by his Secretary and others. Usha Gupta said, “You gave us a noble man but we could not keep him”. Kewal was the first Governor who died in office. Amongst many well-wishers, sympathisers, prominent personalities – the Governor of Tamilnadu, the Chief Justice, and Army Personnel came to pay tributes to him.
He was the Governor of commons, personally he would visit establishments, shops, to check for himself the quality of products. He would even check the conditions of roadside gutters, supply of water and electricity and general cleanliness in the town. He would even see to the repairs, renovations, paintings of the houses. His regime of less taxes, bringing prices under control, making quality goods available, transparency in College admissions – all this impressed the common man and endeared him to his subjects. He used to participate in various functions in Tamilnadu. Shri K. R. Motilal and the President of Sindhi Association of Chennai occasionally visited him and exchanged views on the activities of the Sindhi Associations.
On the fateful day at about 2 pm Shri Lal Krishna Advani arrived and the final rituals were underway – conducted by the Brahmins arrived from Chennai. The pal (corpse) bearers including his two sons and a nephew and Ram lifted the body amidst the chanting in chorus “Ram Naam” by thousands who gathered to pay homage. With the bugles sounding the last post, the procession followed the gun-carriage and reached the crematorium in about 2 hours at 4 pm. Shri L. K. Advani, Shri Sudarshan and I stayed at Raj Bhavan for about 2 hours to discuss and finalize the holding of MARKA Ceremony and also collect Shri Kewal’s personal belongings. It was decided to hold ‘MARKA’ in Delhi on 31st October. We then proceeded to the crematorium and participated in the last rites. The Brahmins chanted Ved Mantras. The army gave the gun salute. The well wishers emotionally bade farewell. I fondly touched his head and face and was moved emotionally, with my eyes wet, sadly thinking, that never again I shall see him in this mortal frame. Om Tat Sat, - everything was over by 5.30 in the evening. Lal and Sudarshanji left the crematorium and headed for their destination. We returned to Raj Bhavan, had our bath, fed the cows, and then after our dinner retired to our rooms. Ram and Vikram continued to discuss their future plans after the head of the family merged into eternity.
On 30th October, the children and the Pandits collected the mortal remains in 3 different containers for immersing in the holy waters in Pondicherry, Haridwara and one in Sindhu in Ladakh. The day of immersion in Pondicherry, with the resounding chanting of ‘Malkaniji Amar Rahe’ in the presence of the ministers, government employees and the public, the mortal remains were consigned to the holy waters. The day long, devotees of Chinmaya Mission conducted Kirtan in the Raj Bhavan. It was a day filled with spiritual atmosphere. Peace and serenity reigned throughout the day.
Next day, the entire family left for Delhi where Shri Lal Krishna Advani had made arrangements for MARKA ceremony amidst Kirtan and religious performances. The mourning crowd streamed for condolences. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and various dignitaries, officers of the government were present at the ceremony.
Whenever Kewal came to Mumbai or met me in Delhi he always insisted on our (I and Kanta) visiting Pondicherry and we too gladly would say, ‘yes we shall come’. I and Kanta had visited him, a year and a half earlier on his appointment as Governor of Pondicherry. We were elated and proud on finding him in a position of honour. The room which accommodated and welcomed us a year and a half ago, today was filled with sadness and haunting reception. The children too were melancholous. I was wondering in silence and disbelief of the charm and engaging chat that was no more. The light had extinguished.
At night, in a vacant mood, I reflected and thought how did it come that such a selfless saintly personality, an intellectual having risen to such a high position maintained intimacy and close relations with me, which I did not merit? It was perhaps the reward of the deeds done in my past births that I had the privilege of enjoying the friendship - nay, the oneness - with a great man like Kewal. RSS was the medium through which we came together. RSS held the torch and showed us the right ethical idealistic path and directed our life’s activities. It looked perhaps our relations existed since eternity. To be with Kewal, exchange pleasantries and chat on some subjects, sometimes problematic, sometimes social situations, was indeed a pleasure. Kewal had that rare Charisma and force. He lived by his sense of reasoning. In his life, he experienced various upheavals at different times. It was a boon to have merited the friendship of a saintly person like Kewal, I have benefited from this satisfaction and support in my life.
That night while lying on my bed, various incidents in our life passed through my mind’s eye serene, such as our togetherness in the Sangh Shakha, on return from office a few moments of friendly chat in his house at Tilakcharhi. This used be our usual activity in the evenings. Kewal left for Bombay for studies for two years. That was a vacant period of loneliness for me. We developed the habit of writing letters to each other every week. While in Sangh, we used to go together to the annual month long OTC, during this time we had the fortune of being together for 24 hours and I cannot forget the strengthening link we developed after retiring to bed, side by side. Kewal was appointed as a Prof. of Economics in D G Sindh National College in Hyderabad. Very shortly, the unfortunate development of the birth of Pakistan happened. Twice we travelled together in train from Hyderabad Sind to Bombay. Kewal left for Delhi. I returned to Hyderabad Sind for sometime and again went back to Bombay in 1948. Like many others I too had to make new relationships and tried to weave together the past memories. I renewed correspondence with Kewal at Delhi and revived the common goals we held so pious and inspiring, to us.
Kewal started working in Hindustan Times but soon after he held the reins of ORGANISER, he married in December 1955 while 1 had already, a month ago, tied the nuptial knots, He merited the US Scholarship to go to Harvard for studies for sometime. On return., again he started working for ORGANISER and ‘Panch Janya’. He created his name in Journalism and came quite close to renowned correspondents and Editors of various publications. For sometime he even remained Secretary of Journalist Association. He was an accredited Journalist and with that status he travelled far and wide in other Countries. In 1975, he became the Editor of ‘Motherland’ a daily mouthpiece of Nationalist Aspirations. He exposed the wrong doings of the then Government and irregularities in functioning of Public administration. Smt. Indira Gandhi became the target for ruthless functioning. Expectedly, there was a knock on the door at midnight of 26th June 1975, Kewal was arrested under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security). Sundri, Kewal’s wife alerted me on the prevailing situation and warned me about my impending arrest as a President of Jana Sangh. I prepared myself for this eventuality and suffered the incarceration for 21 months. Kewal was being shifted from one Jail to another and interrogated in isolation.
Kewal was a man of literature, and being an economist at the same time, his writings and speeches in English used to be effective and interesting. He expressed himself in a literary fashion in small and pithy sentences. One would get lost into his type of expressions. So much so as though one has dived deep into the expanse of pure cool and inspiring waters of Ganga. Once you take up his book for reading you feel like finishing it. He had the art of explaining complex issues, by means of small truths.
Kewal wrote books entitled the ‘RSS Story’, the ‘Sind Story’ and ‘Midnight Knock’. His book ‘India First’ was released by the Prime Minister Shri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, These books reflect his views on various problems, issues and matters such as patriotism, impeccable character, and organizational approaches. All these reflect his intellectual charisma. These views again bring out the impressions and Influence of Param Pujniya Guruji Golwalkar and Shree Deen Dayal Upadhyay. He imbibed in himself simple living, high thinking, social service, etc.
A few sudden and unpleasant happening in his life had effects of disappointments for e.g. one evening he got a letter forbidding him from attending the office of Organiser. It was difficult to absorb the shock of receiving such a letter for no rhyme or reason. The child whom he nurtured, nourished and for which he acquired the high status in journalism - was severed at a notice of just few hours. This would cause him an unbearable agony. I was the witness to Kewal’s agony and now realise myself the intensity of such pain, when Kewal himself left us at the notice of two hours.
At the passing away of Sundri after a brief illness, Kewal was totally a lost man. I rushed to Delhi next day and seeing him distraught; I too was afflicted by his loss. Life is transitory on this earth and having known this truth very well that no relations are permanent, one sinks into sad sentimentality when one’s own near and dear bids good-bye. It feels like something of my own within me has extinguished. Kewal’s condition was exactly that until his own end.
Both these shocks he suffered with a great courage of conviction and faced his suffering in tranquillity. At each turn of events he remained cool headed to summon up the skill of synthesizing the developments before he reached any conclusive decision. He avoided fruitless disharmony and egoistic obstinacy in maintaining relationships. Later he became the member of Rajya Sabha and the Governor of Pondicherry. He held positions both in RSS and BJP and throughout this life he was in charge of the affairs of North East states.
He identified himself not only with Sindhis but Sind itself. Quite a few Sindhi Muslims used to come and see him and have heart to heart talks with him. He made his best efforts to improve relationships with Pakistan as he was one of those who knew Sind and its social conditions. He fought for the rights of Sindhis, he never declined any invitation to participate in issues concerning Sindhis.
Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha had the privilege to have him as his Vice-President since 1979. He remained Vice-Chairman of NCPSL. He infused life in it for reviving Sindhi language. He planned classes for Sindhi language throughout the Country, and had that satisfaction for making a good constructive beginning in this direction.
He had seen difficult days in his family life. His entire life, he worked as a Journalist as he had to earn for the livelihood of his mother and unmarried sister apart from his wife and three children, who needed the nurturing, education, etc. right from their infancy. With a meagre income of 3 to 4 thousand rupees, thanks to Sundri, the household expenses were matched with income with utmost ingenuity. He was allotted a residential plot in Rajendra Nagar, Delhi but had no money to construct a house. With the help of friends and relatives he could construct a simple shelter. In his whole life he could hardly take his children out for a holiday except perhaps on two or three occasions. Opportunities did not provide for cinemas and similar luxuries. On appointment as Member of Rajya Sabha he was allotted a house by the Government. At long last Sundri had cheer on her face and could heave a sigh of relief.
In his capacity as Rajya Sabha member he was appointed as member on various committees. In that position he used to visit industrial companies where it was as a practice that the members were given gifts. This is something that Kewal abhorred and detested. His daughter got married. His son sought admission for an education in Engineering in Bombay. In four years of his scholastic career he lived with me as my child and on securing a job in Bombay he came and again lived with me. My children and Kewal’s son were quite intimate friends. We both used to stay with each other during our visits to Bombay and Delhi.
He became the Governor and occupied a spacious RAJ NIVAS comprising of 15 Room Residence surrounded by well kept Gardens. He had the privilege of being served by 2 dozen servants, but there was a vacuum. Sundri was not there to see such prestigious status and facilities. Her entire life, Sundri had laboured at household chores, but today when LADY Luck smiled Sundri was not there. I asked Kewal how he felt living in such a spacious RAJ NIVAS all alone. His reaction was a kind of sad statement - Loneliness is a Curse. It is such a disease for which remedy is only in keeping busy with work and performing one’s duty. Reading books and writing articles were his favourite activity. Kewal liked literature produced by ancient Japanese philosophers. He found his occupation in studying such literature. Perhaps he had completed yet another work “Mysterious Deaths”.
Always a smile on his face - he used to laugh a lot, living with laughter was his basic nature, never saw him getting angry with anyone. I have seen sometimes some people behaving with incivility with him. Some people who were over smart and lived on lies were instantly identified by him and he never would have relations with them. He never nursed any enemity with anybody. He never liked to hurt anybody.
His end came very peacefully without much suffering. He did not inconvenience the employees of RAJ NIVAS, Doctors or Hospital Staff. Nor his children suffered any anxiety regarding his health. There was hardly any time distance between his life and death. He had a very amicable nature, cordial relations with his employees and he treated them with utmost politeness.
On seventeenth, he had gone to Jodhpur to offer his condolences to Shri Rewachand Mulchandani, who was President of Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha. He wrote a letter to me relating his visit to Jodhpur. I received that letter on 29th October after my return from Pondicherry mourning his own death.
He had very healthy habits with regard to his eating and daily morning walk. He used to have his regular medical check ups. His daily breakfast comprised one Banana, a cup of tea and a thick wheat pancake (Koki). Sweet yogurt was also
consumed by him at all mealtime. Habit of drinking plenty of water indeed kept him
The whole night in RAJ NIVAS, pondering over his life events I slept and got up early to catch my plane from Chennai Airport. At 9 we took off from Chennai to Bombay. Behind the secret of Kewal’s success in life was the philosophy and working systems of RSS. In this way he moulded his thinking life style and travelled on the path of Sacrifice and Service. Simple minded, he worked hard with devotion and eked out his livelihood through his literary and journalistic activities. He had no attachment for plenty and no attraction for worldly possessions. He stood out as an outstanding thinker, politician, journalist and a Swayam Sewak.
He had a princely personality, a humanitarian and patriotic outlook. He was one among country’s venerable personalities. Adored by thousands, his integrity honesty, intellectual insight left a deep impression on the Society.
Rare are such persons who earn the esteem for their character. Amongst various awards, he merited the award of “Sarva Shreshtha Swayam Sevak”. This award, he cherished in his life as one of the priceless and most satisfying honour. He preserved this award as most dear and a token of high esteem about his life. My humble prayer as my only offering to God, for a straight forward clean in dealings Kewal would be to say “Oh lord Kewal has returned to his Kaivalyadham” without taking a blot of shame on his human birth.
Oh God may we pray that you return this priceless Kewal to us in Sindhi Society of mother India. We need such Godly and precious souls back with us.