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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

09 June 2004

Sometimes, while reading famous and scholarly writers, you may feel disappointed in lack of research to substantiate their theories. Often we just ignore this feeling with, “such – a- big- name; if he/she- said -so, it- must- be- right…” kind of thinking.

I highly regard Ramchandra Guha, well known writer and historian – Often I have admired the amount of research he puts in his works and the depth of his viewpoints.

But in his column, “Past & Present” in Hindu, this Sunday, he argues that it is wrong to say that Sonia’s “renunciation” (I put it in inverted commas to respect the cynical views that what she did was not renunciation but just smartness !! – those who have been reading these pages know my exact stand on the issue.) was keeping with Indian tradition. Guha says that actually non- renunciation is the Indian Tradition. I feel Guha’s theory is contradictory and lacks sufficient examples in way of substantiation.

He says Nehru had “threatened to resign as many as on 7 occasions”. – this itself is against the focal point of his essay. So, Nehru did exhibit a trait of renunciation – though he didn’t actually resign.

Next Guha cites Indira Gandhi. This example is perfect. She had absolutely no qualms in accepting the crown.

Next example is Rajiv Gandhi. Now, if I remember right, Rajiv Gandhi might have accepted the crown with out much resistance after the assassination of his mother. But then, his reluctance to enter into politics itself is much written about and sort of Congress folklore now.

And with these three examples, Guha builds his theory of non – renunciation as the trait of Indian tradition. I am sorry Mr. Guha, I am not convinced yet. You have drawn historian T.N. Madan also to elucidate that in Hindu tradition “sanyas” is only one stage of a person’s life and that texts and doctrines lay much emphasis on girhasta also.

I would have liked to read more examples from the Hindu mythology or texts.


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