Friday, February 02, 2007

Some regrets have I

Among the devotional songs that I have listened to, Rajaji’s composition “Kurai Onrum Illai”( “No Regrets Have I”), so beautifully rendered by M.S,Subbulakshmi, stands out for its positive tone. When every composer uses the medium of the song to cry out for help or to seek divine intervention and favour, here is Rajaji writing that he is totally contented and has absolutely no regrets in life.

My appreciation of this song went up even higher when I read this moving piece, four years back, in The Hindu, in which Gopal Gandhi, a grandson of Rajaji's, wonders what exactly was on the latter’s mind when he penned the masterpiece. Rajaji had had his share of misfortune and misery in his days and would he still have no regrets? Gopal Gandhi strongly believes that the song was written in memory of a nameless devotee, a so-called untouchable, who had been arrested for daring to enter the temple of Tirupathi, and whose case Rajaji had argued in Court and secured his release. The song, feels Gopal Gandhi, was in a manner of speaking, co-authored by Rajaji and the devotee, both of whom had ‘no regrets’ at what each had done; the devotee breaking the rule and Rajaji defying social mores of that era and fighting for the cause of securing his release from jail.

I was reminded of this when I read in the Deccan Chronicle recently that Brahmins had been kept out of the management of temples in Tamilnadu because, to quote the DMK secretary, Mr Elangovan, “We are only acting in favour of the people who had been so far kept out of temple administration. We have given such sections a chance now to be in charge of temple administration”.

The logic forwarded each time is the same. For centuries Brahmins suppressed the masses; it is only fair that they are placed under some handicap for a few decades, so that parity is restored”

Brahmins are certainly guilty of such discriminatory practices in the past, but as the story of Rajaji above and examples such as that of Madurai Vaidyantha Iyer prove, several Brahmins also led the fight against the injustice meted out. Second, it would simply not have been possible for Brahmins who constituted 3% of the population to suppress the masses all by themselves without the active support and collusion of the rulers, warriors and traders who were all from other communities. If Brahmins are guilty, so are a host of others. All of them deserve to be placed under some handicap.

This entire logic of correcting the sins of the past by placing handicaps today should be applied uniformly. So, how about stripping the rich Chettiars of the wealth that they have accumulated over the centuries and distributing it to all sections of society? Why should the Pillais be allowed to keep their stranglehold over Bharatnatya traditions? Shouldn’t they be denied the privilege of serving as dance gurus for a century or so? Haven’t the owners of SUN TV enjoyed a monopolistic run for several years now? Don’t they deserve to be placed under a handicap for a couple of decades and the cable rights passed on to others to enjoy?

This is insane. No civilized society should be wasting its collective energy in constantly harping on the past and in correcting selectively the ‘wrongs’ of history. Shouldn’t we be moving on?


Anonymous said...



Lalita said...

We should be moving on. Definitely. Good post Raj, and thanks for reminding me of the song.

Anonymous said...

Try to send ur blogs to journals too. Web is yet to reach all rural souls. Your thoughts are clear, realistic, and could spark atleast few souls hidden by the muck.

Anonymous said...

Try Ayn Rand "Atlas Shrugged" not for its philosophy but for the story.


Usha said...

Exactly, 2 wrongs do not make a right. Providing equal opportunities does not mean that you deprive someone of opportunities. And by using a deprived past as an excuse for present status ( after 50 years of opening up of equal opportunities) we are only justifying under performance and fostering a tendancy to look for concessions everywhere.
Poverty may have inherited but performance is not. So why look for excuses when opportunities are available? Yes, it is time we looked forward and not back.

Srik said...

I have no words. Im totally moved by your excellent post.

Thanks a lot for this.

Exactly. Who cares what happened in the past? What lessons are we learning from it?

Raj said...

Prabhu, thanks

Anupadmaja, Srik : I was quite moved too when I read the piece in The Hindu.

Lalita, thanks. Lovely song, isn't it?

Usha, my sentiments exactly