A TETE A TETE WITH BHAGWAN GIDWANI
On the occasion of his visit to Mumbai specially to attend the “Award Function” of Sahyog Foundation, Shri Bhagwan Gidwani, was interviewed by Ram Jawhrani – Chairman of Sahyog Foundation.
Ram Jawhrani (RJ) : Gidwani Sir, You are the descendant of a family that had taken active part in the freedom movement. Did you personally play any role?
Bhagwan Gidwani (BG) : I am sorry to say but I personally took no part in the freedom movement but yes, my father Shamdas Gidwani was mentor to Veer Savarkar and Bhai Parmanand. He was President of the Hind Maha Sabha. My uncle Choithram Gidwani was also a part of our family and used to live with us. He was the President of Sindh Congress. When Indian gained independence at the cost of partition, both were very much pained. They felt that the Indian leaders were desperate to seek power, even at the cost of the division of the motherland as they must have felt that time was against them because they were at the twilight stage of their life. They didn’t care Sindh was not included in India with the result that millions of Sindhis had to bid adieu to their ancestral abodes and empty handed take refuge in uncharted areas of other parts of India. They abandoned that Sindh – the mother of India which is Bharat. Sindh had been the abode of Hinduism and Aryas. Sindh had given India the name of Hindustan. It is closely related to the heritage of India. The land where Vedas were written was abandoned without the blinking of an eye. At that time I was 30 years old and the tragedy of partition compelled me to think about it. I felt learning law was futile and a waste of time. I wanted to study about the origin of Sindh and its contribution to the culture and civilization of motherland India.
RJ : We are told that our leaders failed to guide us through the tumultuous days of the Freedom Movement, rather they left us in the lurch and sought power and perks for their own self. How far is that true?
BG : To a great extent, yes. They were ensconced in their luxurious palaces; they enjoyed power in the wake of independence. Compare it with our own plight. When my uncle Choithram Gidwani died, he left just eighty rupees and a broken watch. Politics was not an earning profession in those days and only after the killing of Mahatma Gandhi, it became a lucrative activity.
RJ : Do you feel that presently, it has become a wheeling and dealing activity?
BG : But the point to note is that what did He leave for us. Just a few books containing old songs of Aryas and even many of these songs were erased and were not legible. But we should not say that our leaders had taken refuge at the shores, rather they benefited from Independence and Partition. They created very good opportunities for their descendants. They sent us to the wolves and it is a fact that they wanted all the power for themselves. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had the guts to say on the eve of independence that, “It is India’s tryst with destiny”. Mahatma Gandhi didn’t join him in the celebrations as he was very much aware of the fact that as a result of Partition, a volcano of blood and gore would erupt and better he should be alongside those unfortunate migrants who had to leave their ancestral homes. Spiritual foundation of India may be strong and you may save yourself from the attacks of aliens but what can you do in case your own near and dear ones inflict the wounds. What to say of them? What has partition done to us?
Partition has raised problems……, partition has solved no problem……, rivers of blood have flown…….
And make no mistake; rivers of blood will still flow because a fatal mistake has been made.
RJ : We were promised heaven. We were told that we would be getting similar rights. But we were termed as refugees, given accommodation in dilapidated barracks where each barrack housed hundreds of refugees. A single room sheltered three to four families. We became homeless and you too have yourself experienced it. What were your feelings, then?
BG : Yes Sir! We were very much witness to this mayhem. We should be pointing fingers and accusing someone. Our national leaders are revered ones and are held in high esteem. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel exhorted Sindhis not to leave their homes, whereas the new dispensation of Pakistan engineered riots which left Sindhis with no other alternative but to migrate to India. Our revered leaders said that they would not do anything for refugees as they were coming to India against their suggestions. Luckily, Jairamdas Daulatram and Acharya Kripalani advised Choithram Gidwani to leave Sindh and migrate to India; otherwise everyone would have perished in the ensuing communal riots in Sindh. No one was there to help the refugees. Though Sindh was home to Sindhi Hindus since centuries, then too they were prepared to renounce every luxury and proceed to India not just to save their skin but also the very honour and respect of Sindhis which was at stake. When they decided to leave Sindh, they were promised all the things they enjoyed in Sindh.
RJ : If we glance through the last fifty odd years, we see that our parents literally passed through hell. Didn’t any of the Indian leaders come to our rescue?
BG : We were betrayed. When Prof. Ghanshyam Shivdasani and Dr. Choithram Gidwani met Mahatma Gandhi and apprised him of the plight of Sindhis, he declared and said, “I am a Sindhi”. After that the authorities began paying some heed to Sindhis’ woes otherwise Sindhis were just passing through hell. But let the bygones be bygones, we should not complain.
RJ : The authorities took undue advantage – you think?
BG : Yes, the leaders tool undue advantage. They were simply unwilling to provide any facility to Sindhis. We just snatched it from them. To survive and prosper in these hostile circumstances was due to our own initiative and our own entrepreneurship. There was some help from Gandhiji. I light a candle on Gandhiji’s birthday, to pay respect and express our gratitude towards him. He was the only bright spot in the otherwise dark life of Sindhis in India.
RJ : It is sheer hard work on Sindhis’ part which has brought them success. But the uprooting and migration has left many indelible scars on us and one of them is that we have lost our language in the process. Presently Sindhi is neither spoken, nor read, nor used in official records. Without language we are simply losing our identity. Without speaking Sindhi how can we say to our children that we are Sindhis. Tell us something about non-resident Sindhis. Whether they speak Sindhi? Whether they love Sindhi culture? Or to put it in simple terms whether ‘Sindhyat’ has any place in their life?
BG : You are right in saying that the Sindhi language is life and blood of ‘Sindhyat’ and others would also agree with you, but what is the ground reality? Our children have very little opportunities for Sindhi language. It is the age of fierce competition. People may not like to lose just because they want to learn Sindhi. But I very much agree with you that if we want to preserve our ‘Sindhyat’, Sindhi identity, Sindhi culture, and Sindhi affiliations, then Sindhi language must survive. I tell you the example of Jews, when Israel came into existence, by then Jews had practically forgotten their language Hebrew. The leaders of Israel suggested the revival of Hebrew to connect all the Jews coming from various parts of the world into one thread. Even world wide it became an article of faith in every Jewish family to learn Hebrew. It was not because they intended to go back to Israel or they didn’t intend to migrate, but it became an article of faith. The teachers of Hebrew became rich overnight. It became the most lucrative profession in the world to become a teacher of Hebrew. Today you will find every Jew, speaking Hebrew, whether he stays in Europe or USA.
RJ : Probably your first book was on Tipu Sultan. There are many characters in Indian history. Why did you choose Tipu Sultan? What is the reason behind it?
BG : Since 1947, I was under perpetual obsession to write on Indian culture. How did India come into existence? How did Hinduism take roots in India in 8000 B.C.? To know it, I began the study of history. When I reached Tipu Sultan, I wondered why English as well as Indian historians had abused him excessively. He was the only person who had fought twelve wars with Englishmen. He captured many English prisoners of war; one of them even a general. He never joined Englishmen while others like the Nizam or Marathas joined Britishers. His Prime Minister was a Hindu and his name was Purnea. Fourteen out of twenty four ministers of his cabinet were Hindus. Twenty eight of his Generals out of thirty eight were Hindus. Why do people call him names? There was a temple inside his own courtyard. He distributed many jagirs among Hindus. Still people call him a dacoit. Some accuse him of forcibly converting Hindus to Islam which is not a fact. Some of his Governors were responsible for that whereas he himself was an honourable man. Why were Britishers his staunch enemies? He was the only person to have waged many wars against them.
RJ : So the book was a huge success?
BG : Yes, it was a great success. 250 thousand copies were sold in India. And around 85,000 copies were sold overseas. Later on, a TV serial was made which was based on it for which I wrote the screenplay, dialogues or you can say complete script was written by me. This may have also resulted in the spurt of the sale of the book.
RJ : Your second book was on Omar Khayyam. Its name flashes intoxication and love across one’s mind while your earlier creation was a dry subject, how come this sea-change?
BG : Change is the only constant in this world. Everyone needs a diversion. Everybody is a lover at heart, but people have misunderstood Omar Khayyam. He has always talked of wine, women and song. People long for wine, women and song. He himself wandered through the wonderland and the talk of wine, women and songs was just an escape. He himself was a sufi saint, although he didn’t claim to be so. A lot of his poetry had gone into oblivion; otherwise Islamic countries may have killed him!
RJ : Rebellion, up to that extent?
BG : Yes, extreme rebellion. He was the greatest rebel. He used to address God:
“For all the sins, face of man is blackened -
Forgiveness of man give and take
God! You also deserve one’s forgiveness
For all the sins, that you have blackened the face of man”
“You made man of base and earth
Oh. Thou with base and earth
Devise the snack”
The Eden created by you, weakened Adam.
“You deserve man’s forgiveness
Not the other way round.”
RJ : So, you are very much influenced by the philosophy of Omar Khayyam, but your “Return of the Aryans” created a storm, literally. It is a greatest discovery on your part. You had to travel in time and come out with a new revelation, in the form of “Return of the Aryans”. How much time did you invest in it?
BG : If one really begins counting the time, since when I have been working on it, then it would be eighteen long years. But I have been thinking on the subject since 1947 and in that case it would be forty to fifty years invested for the creation of “Return of the Aryans”. I had traveled extensively for it. I had been to Lithuania, Russia, Iran, Finland and Germany. I collected many songs and then classified all of them. It took a great part of my time. In a nut shell, I worked for eighteen years to get the material, then translate and catalogue it.
RJ : You have been able to put forth the truth before the whole world.
BG : I can’t say, because still many people do not subscribe to my point of view. My theory propounds that Aryans were Hindus, they were born, grew up and died as Hindus of Sanatan Dharma.
RJ : It is said that abundance of everything mellows down a person and he turns towards the God. You have also began working on Gautam Buddha, where has your research reached on Gautam Buddha?
BG : I am not the first person to write on Gautam Buddha. Many have already written volumes on his person. What strikes me most about Gautam Buddha, is that, he was a great Hindu. He is an incarnation of God. Gautam Buddha always felt, though many questioned as to why didn’t he open his own order?
He always expressed :
“You see, I walked on that path,
Here, I have collected fresh flowers,
Here, I have collected fresh thoughts.”
Because, remember that Hinduism is not a dogma.
Hinduism gives you free will.
To think for yourself
To come with new ideas
And, as you wish
And, this is what Gautam, himself felt.
That Hinduism has given him every opportunity
He did not want to form a new order.
They were his disciples, who after his death wanted that.