It is neither right nor safe to draw comparisons between great personalities for in a world so dissimilar, each individual has characteristics and distinctive traits, the parallel of which is not possible to find. In the case of great people these peculiarities are so pronounced and developed that each becomes a type by himself. Nevertheless Babu Purushottam Das Tandon and Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee both belonged to a category of great men who look great not only from a distance but grow greater still as you approach them. There are others and their tribe is legion today who is artificially elevated to the position of greatness. Through press and propaganda and by practising the art of leadership, they acquire greatness and remain great so long as you are fortunate enough not to see them from a point of acquaintance. A closer analysis will reduce these titans to tiny–gods. Too much contact with them might turn you into a cynic with no interest in life. On the other extreme are those whose fate has been mourned by Gray in his famous elegy. They are really great people, genius of the purest ray, serene, but they die unknown and unsung in the dark unfathomed depths of the ocean where they lived and worked. But Dr. Mookerjee and Tandon belonged to neither category. They had real worth coupled with public fame and name. But it is true that public recognition of their merit and services lagged far being the reality. They could acquit themselves well in any office they held. In fact in their case it was not office that gave them prestige but on the contrary they who lent glory to the office they held.
Dr. Mookerjee was honoured as a Minister of the Central Cabinet but he rose much higher in the estimation of the people when he came out of the Cabinet.
Like A True Karmayogi
Tandon, when he became the President of Indian National Congress, lent a sublime halo to an office which today nobody is prepared to accept. That year there was a keen contest. And Tandonji won making it clear that he commanded a considerable and faithful following in the organisation. But when he relinquished office he gave evidence of his real greatness for he did so without any rancour orally–will. Like a true Karmayogi, without any attachment, he staked his all in the contest, but renounced so eagerly converted prize as if he had nothing to do with it.
Tandonji was great as the Speaker of the UP Legislative Assembly but became greater as an Ex–Speaker. He was great as President of the Congress and became greater as Ex–President after his resignation.
Tandonji and Mookerjee both represented and fought for upholding the cause of Bharatiya Sanskrti and Maryada. An effort was a foot to supplant the true culture of India by some hybrid variety. Tandonji and Mookerjee were both against this attempt. And they resisted it, one from within the Congress and the other from without. Whether through the Hindu Mahasabha or, due to changed circumstances, though Jana Sangh, Dr. Mookerjee sought to build up this resistance of the nationals of Bharat against the on slaughter of the ‘composite culturists.’ Tandonji fought this battle in the name of Hindi both before and after independence.
Tandonji & Language
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about Tandonji’s espousal of the cause of Hindi, specially amongst the non–Hindi speaking people. They think that Hindi is sought to be enforced throughout the country as a rival to, and ultimately to take the place of regional languages. In fact the issue has been, and is not. Hindi versus regional languages but Hindi versus Hindustani and Indian languages versus English. Those who take up the cause of English mistakenly harbour an idea that English as an all–India language will not harm the growth of regional languages. If English countinues, the days of all the great languages of India are unnumbered.
Whatever the English–maniacs may say, no power can retain English in India so long as the virile and rich languages of Bharat are there.
The day of execution may be delayed but the judgement has been delivered the day when Britishers quit India.
Hindustani A Compromise With Separatism
The real issue is between Hindi and Hindustani. There has been, and is, no such language as Hindustani. It is the product of a policy of appeasement and compromise with the separatist and anti–national forces, culminating in the establishment of Pakistan.
A language is not simply a vehicle of expression but is also concerned with the life–values of the people who seek to use it. In this respect the national languages of India are so perfect that you can use any one of them without losing your cultural moorings.
If a man from Mathura goes to Madras and settles there and in the course of ages begins to speak Tamil instead of Hindi, he loses nothing in content. The final product will be the same. But not so with English or French.
And what is Hindustani? It is a language like Esperanto seeking to provide a vehicle of expression not to all the people of India but only to those in the north that has a fairly large vocabulary of Arabic and Persian. Such a language if it can be artificially put up will be as far away from the people as English. To most of the Hindi people and to all the non–Hindi people it will be as unintelligible as Latin and Greek. Moreover, it is a part of the big schemes of deculturising the people of Bharat. If this attempt succeeds in the case of Hindi, it will not leave untouched and untrained other Bharatiya languages, for the basis and content of all of them is the same culture, which is being displaced from the Hindi region. It is a process of annihilation by degrees. Will not the protagonists of composite culture demand that Marathi and Bengali, Kannada and Tamil should also be overburdened with Arabic and Persian words and that they should also like Hindustani be written in two scripts? Tandonji believed in one culture and therefore he took up the cause of Hindi. The cause of Hindi is the cause of all the Indian languages.
Now that these valiant fighters for these noble causes are no more with us, it is our duty to see that the fight does not end. Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee had bequeathed us an organisation that can legitimately strive to become a strong and fitting instrument of resisting subversion of our culture and heritage. Unfortunately, Tandonji, fighting as he was from within the Congress, has not left any organised body to take up his cause.
So long as he was there Congressmen could rally around him. But today there is no such central figure.
There only homage to Rajarshi Tandonji can be to see that his services to Hindi and Bharatiya Culture do not go in vain, and now that the other side is resolutely trying to bypass the will of the people, they should organise themselves and in the tradition of Tandonji put up a fearless and successful fight.
(Source: Organiser, 16 July, 1962)