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The greatness of Gandhi

I read the article "Brouhaha over Bapu" by Prasun Sonwalkar (Spectrum, April 10). I have read the book "Great Soul, Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle with India" thoroughly. It is not a biography of Mahatma Gandhi; it highlights the greatness of preaching and practicing his high moral values in all walks of life.

The review has drawn wrong conclusions from his letters to Kallenbach in the British tabloid "Daily Mail". In fact, British tabloids are notorious for creating sensationalism by purveying the private lives of great personalities. Unfortunately, after Pyarey Lal's treatise on Gandhiji (which matched Churchill's volumes on the Second World War that fetched him the Nobel Prize in literature), no other author has done real research on his life and struggle for freedom and precisely measure his greatness. Even Raj Mohan Gandhi's biography (by far the best after Tendulkar's four volumes on Gandhiji) is simply narrative.

For example, no author has so far bothered to find out why Gandhiji was arrested soon after his arrival at Bombay after attending the Round Table Conference in London even though Sir Samuel Hoarse, the Secretary of State for India, held him in high esteem. The British authors throw light more on the warps in his personality than on his great qualities.


Ode to Urdu

I read Nirupama Dutt's article "Lost romance," (Spectrum, March 27) in which she has written about the origin and evolution of Urdu language and also about the Urdu poetry of Punjabi poets.

No doubt, Urdu was previously known as Hindavi, but its other name is "Rekhta" which means Urdu words scattered with Persian words. Actually, Urdu was taken to other parts of the country by soldiers, saints and sufis and also by the common people. So, a mixed form of language called "Rekhta" came about.

People started using this new language in their speeches and literature, which resulted in the enrichment of Urdu. Mirza Ghalib was written in his "Diwan" thus:

"Rekhta ke tumhi ustad nahin ho Ghalib

Kehte hain agle zamane mein koi Mir bhi tha"


Quote from Zafarnama

I read Khushwant Singh's weekly column, "This above all" (Saturday Extra, March 19) on "Guru and Zafarnama" and later a letter by Jaswant S. Gandam of Phagwara (Perspective, April 10) captioned "Zafarnama misquoted".

I once read Sheikh Saadi's book Gulistan, with annotations by Maulana Quazi Sajjad Hussain drawn from the library of Panjab University, Chandigarh.

On page 247 of this book, I read this couplet written by Sheikh Saadi, having studied Persian during my graduation. The word used by Saadi in this couplet is "dar gusast" and not "dar guzasht," as mentioned by Gandam. "Dar guzasht" means to die, to pass away (Persian Dictionary, Firoz-ul-lugaat, Page 402), whereas "gusastan" mens to snap.

I think in his letter to Aurangzeb, Guru Gobind Singh deliberately quoted this couplet of Sheikh Saadi to impress upon the former that a renowned poet of his own language and religion was justified in resorting to arms if all peaceful means got snapped or exhausted. The couplet thus is:

Chun kar az hameh heel-te dar gusast,

(When all peaceful efforts are snapped or exhausted)

Halal ast burdan Ba Shamsheer dast.

(It is justified to take your hand towards the sword).




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