Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
When it is said, to err is human, it also is said, Satan never errs. Gandhiji was a human being and it can never be said that he never erred. To say that he was a man who never had erred and to officially ban any discussion on where he erred is nothing but misuse of administrative power to reduce him to a Satan in general esteem. It is reported that Government of India is working on bringing out such a ban by law. They should desist from it as otherwise Gandhiji would be imposed on public mind as an icon beyond scrutiny whereas it is only scrutiny that constitute the base on which depends transformation of any object to an icon. And, therefore, any ban on scrutiny on Gandiji would severely tamper with his current position as the most revered icon of the nation of India. The ban would make the man, whom the world even now recognizes as the greatest man, no more clearly discernible and push him into the impregnable domain of darkness where the Satan stays. Let Government of India not do this to Gandhiji.
We as normal human beings know many errors that Gandhiji had knowingly committed. The Illustrated Weekly episodes discussing his objectionable sex experimentations were never banned and were available to all who wanted to peruse. That never reduced any Indian’s or reader’s reverence for him. Rather everybody believed what Sucheta Kripalani had explained in that matter instead of putting any premium on what was intended by the exposer of the said wrong side of Gandhiji.
The way he eased out Netaji Subhas Chandra after the latter regained Congress mandate to continue as its President defeating Gandhiji’s own candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya – in whose defeat the Mahatma had famously conceded his own defeat – is seen and will be seen for ever as an instance of political mischief, machination and revengefulness that eventually has derailed India from the core aim of independence. Yet, we Indians revere Gandhiji; because to us, he was a politician with a mission and to him for succeeding in his mission that step against Netaji was then circumstantially unavoidable for him. By imposing a ban on any review of Gandhiji’s political activities will tantamount to blurring of history and would cause more damage to the image of Gandhiji that open discussion on him may ever do.
Bibudharanjan of Orissa has been physically tortured by the Government for his speaking book on Gandhiji that he has captioned Michha Mahatma. The book has been banned. I have read the book before it was banned. He has cited sources in support of his comments on Gandhiji. Even as we never support many of the epithets he has preferred for Gandhiji and never approve all his interpretations, that he has attempted to see how Gandhiji was as a man and has placed on records what he has found cannot be denied. Many scholars of Orissa known as Gandhian scholars have seen the book and the Government of Orissa has studied the book in details before enforcing the ban. The ban has been enforced, but no data depicted therein has been countered. Should it not have been proper for the Government or any Gandhian scholar to have countered the points the author has raised and discussed, instead of banning the book, so that misgivings, if any, could have evaporated and wrong purpose of Bibudharanjan, if any in authoring the book, been foiled and / or defeated?
We know that Gandhiji had succumbed to hatred-killing, as a fanatic had shut at him even in an environment of prayer. But even that fanatic, before shooting at him, was seen bowing down with reverence to the grand man. So, why despite reverence Nathuram Godsey killed Gandhiji is a matter that researchers must look into and bring out the buried streams of our freedom struggle. Any ban on criticism on Gandhiji will therefore be detrimental to truth. The Mahatma had put so much sanctity on truth that he had called his life an experiment with truth. Let the Government understand this aspect. Let the epitome of love for truth not be relegated into the sphere of suppression of truth that the proposed ban on investigation on him is bound to lead to.
Nathuram had killed his body, but the proposed ban would kill his spirit. Let the Government not resort to it.
Let us not hide the Mahatma. Let us allow anybody to see any aspect of Gandhiji he or she wants to see; because thereby it could only be seen that any person despite inherent human weaknesses can rise above the same and become a Mahatma.
We are proud of Gandhiji; because despite his humanly weaknesses, he has become the greatest achiever of his noble objects of freeing human beings of political slavery. Let us not be banned from displaying this unique aspect of Gandhiji and from inspiring every human being that he or she can rise above inherent weaknesses to become someone that the entire world may respect.
Let not the Government blur Gandhiji behind any ban as it proposes. Let every design to degrade Gandhiji to a state of Satan be protested against and foiled.