Wednesday, January 23, 2013

To India with Love - “Jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...”

To India with Love - “Jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...”   - the land where Mother Ganges flows freely.

Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand.

India Republic Day 2013- an advance preview. Celebrating, commemorating and marking 63rd anniversary of India’s Republic Day on 26 January, 2013. This article was originally written in 2007 for India’s Independence Day celebration and has been modified.

As the Airbus 320 of Lufthansa Airlines nosed towards Delhi Airport on flight from Frankfurt Germany, around midnight of 20 October, 2003, I was filled with emotions and unprecedented feelings of delight. I had pledged on the burning pyre of my father that I would go around the world and visit my grandfather’s birth land, India to trace my roots, and also visit the places that we only read in Holy Scriptures.

Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai - the country where River Ganges flows-India. The great country where  this author went in 2003 to trace his roots in Rajasthan. This Raj Kapoor movie gave world a lesson on how to treat your visitors- Atithi Deva Bhava - visitors are our Gods. But do they really treat their visitors as they preach?
 I had travelled with my wife from Fiji to Los Angeles, Sacramento, Vancouver, Calgary, London, and Frankfurt and was on the final leg to my girmitiya (indentured labourer) grandfather Bansi’s birthplace.

Thakur Ranjit Singh's Girmitiya (indentured) grandfather Thakur Bansi Chauhan, whose roots he went to trace in Karouli  Rajasthan, India in 2003.

From the aircraft I could see city lights and was filled with excitement and joy. After the touch down, we descended on the land that my deceased grandfather and parents had craved to visit at least once in their lifetime, but could not achieve this. I touched the Holy earth and rubbed to my forehead as greetings the land of sages and Ram and Krishna.

I had good and exciting memorable times in tracing my roots to my lineage and the land of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, near Jaipur in a small town called Karauli in Rajasthan. This is very close to Vrindavan, Mathura and Taj Mahal, but those things some other day.

Today I take this opportunity to congratulate my Grand Motherland, India on the occasion of its 63rd Republic Day celebration. The history of the Republic of India began on 26 January 1950. The country became an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth on 15 August 1947. George VI was King until the Republic was proclaimed in 1950.

I post this on behalf of Indian Diaspora in Auckland to mark this auspicious day. I am third generation Indo Fijian, displaced from India when my grandfather was torn and tricked from his roots by British to slave in Fiji to fill their coffers.  

When the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi visited Fiji over three decades ago in 1981, she had good advice for descendants of indentured Indian labourers or girmitiyas as they are known there. She told Indo Fijians that Fiji was their country, they belonged there and they needed to have allegiance, loyalty and love for their country.

When Fiji’s racist and ethno-nationalist deposed Prime Minister Qarase visited India a decade, he failed to learn anything from Indian hospitality.  The uncrowned father of Indian movies, Raj Kapoor immortalized this aspect of Indian culture in his film, “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Baheti Hai” (the land where Ganges flows) with this song….”Mehmaan jo hamara hota hai, woh jaan se pyara hota hai, jyada ki nahin laalach humko thore mein gujara hota hai... hum us desh ke waasi hai jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...” His song translates to say that we value our visitors more than our life; we do not lust or greed for much as we manage in little that we have... We hail from the land where the Ganges flows…. And from that land if Qarase had learnt that language of Indian love, he may still be ruling Fiji today. But he failed to do so at his peril.

Uncrowned King of Bollywood movie, Raj Kapoor immortalised the Indian theme of Athi Deva Bhava-visitors are like our Gods. Unfortunately Fiji's deposed Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase could not learn any love or anything from Indian hospitality or this theme, and is in jail now.
 There was one very important lesson for Fiji’s Prime Minister and his group from the Indian visit. India is the only country on the planet where no Fijian Prime Minister would be able to sell the 'Indigenous Race Card' to justify Fijian nationalism, racism, and exclusive political control of the country.

Fiji’s nationalist’s leaders and others around the world should gain immensely from Indian history and way of life. Those Anglo Saxons, Europeans and other ignorant people who still regard India as a land of snake charmers and rope tricks need to see Akshay Kumar’s Bollywood movie Namastey London. (Greetings to London) They need to get a translation of episode where the hero shuts up the great grandson of an English East Indian Company employee who was running down India and its people.

Namastey London (Greetings to/from London), another Bollywood movie that speaks good things about India.

By clasping his hands, he says that when we Indians greet each other in the tradition of 5,000 year old civilization, we fold our hands close to heart in Namastey because we believe that God resides in the heart of every human being.

We come from a nation where we allow a lady of Catholic Religion to step aside for a Sikh to be sworn as the Prime Minister by a Muslim President to govern a nation with over 80% Hindus.

It may also interest you to know that many versions of English language come from Sanskrit. For example, matr becomes mother, bhrata becomes brother, jamity become geometry and trikonmity becomes trigonometry.

English is spoken and read more widely in India than in England. India has 5,600 newspapers, 35,000 magazines and 21 major languages with combined readership of 120 million, many more than in England. We have reached the moon and back but yet many Anglo Saxons still feel that India has reached only as far as gourd flute of snake charmers. We have third largest pool in the world of doctors, scientists and engineers. All these are of the details of our intellectual might, now look at our physical might.

May be the English grandfather did not tell that we have the third largest army in the world, and even then I clasp my hand in humility because we do not believe that we are above or beneath any individual. Well said Puttar.

Despite having the third largest army in the world, India still remains humble and clasps its hand in humility, saying "Namastey."
So next time you are confronted by an ethnocentric individual who runs down Bharat Mata (Mother India) then you repeat the above to shut him. Some good movies to enlighten you and your children on pride of India are Manoj Kumar’s Upkar and Poorab aur Paschim.

Purab aur Pachhim  (East and West)), Manoj Kumar's movie that tells an exemplary tale of Indian culture versus London Anglo Saxon culture. [But Fiji Pundit, in its Independence Day article will argue that did "sabhayta jahan pehle janmi" (civilisation began in India)) is true depiction of India today? Make sure to read my contrasting posting on 26.01.2013.]

Unfortunately for many Indians abroad, the Indian pride is confined to Bollywood movies. They still speak English in their homes and look down on anything Indian.

As Indian Diaspora, I am proud to say we Indo-Fijians, despite three to four generation and 134 years apart, are still as much Indian as my third and fourth cousins in Karouli in Rajasthan. Jai Hind

(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a third generation Indo Fijian. He was born in Fiji Islands. His indentured grandfather, Bansi was a Thakur from Karauli in Rajasthan, India. He is also a holder of People of Indian Origin (PIO) passport issued by Indian Government that allows him free access into India any time, just like an Indian citizen. )

Bharat Mata- Mother India  had exemplary and honoured leaders in the past. India has a proud history. BUT HOW ABOUT ITS PRESENT STATE? Read next posting on FIJI PUNDIT on India Republic Day on 26 January,2013.




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