This Day in History (6-Jan-1929) – Mother Teresa Arrives in India

Mother Teresa, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, was resident of Macedonia. At the age of 18 she joined a group of nuns in Ireland. After a few months of training, she was given permission to travel to India. On her arrival in India, she began by working as a teacher. She took her formal religious vows in 1931 at Darjeeling, and chose to be named after St Therese of Lisieux – the patron saint of missionaries. The widespread poverty of Calcutta made a deep impression on her; and this led to her starting a new order called “The Missionaries of Charity”. The primary objective of this mission was to look after people, who nobody else was prepared to look after.

She experienced two particularly traumatic periods in Calcutta. The first was the Bengal famine of 1943 and the second was the Hindu/Muslim violence in 1946 – before the partition of India. In 1948, she left the convent to live full time amongst the poorest of Calcutta. She chose to wear a white Indian Sari, with blue trimmings – out of respect for the traditional Indian dress. For many years, Mother Teresa and a small band of fellow nuns survived on minimal income and food, often having to beg for funds. Slowly her efforts with the poorest were noted and appreciated by the local community and Indian politicians.

In 1952, she opened her first home for the dying, which allowed people to die with dignity. Mother Teresa often spent time with those who were dying. It afforded many neglected people the opportunity to die knowing someone cared. Those in her dying homes were given the religious rites appropriate to their faith. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics. The Missionaries of Charity now has branches throughout the world including branches in the developed world where they work with the homeless and people affected with AIDS.

In 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace”. Following her death, Mother Teresa was formally beatified in October 2003 by Pope John Paul II and is now known as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/january-6-1929-mother-teresa-arrives-in-india

http://www.biographyonline.net/nobelprize/mother_teresa.html

http://www.biography.com/people/mother-teresa-9504160#religious-calling

This Day in History (26-Dec-1907) – In 23rd session of INC at Surat, Congress split into two groups named ‘Extremists’ and ‘Moderates’

In December 1905, at the Benaras session of the Indian National Congress, the Extremists wanted to extend the Boycott and Swadeshi Movement to regions outside Bengal and also to include all forms of associations within the boycott programme and thus start a nationwide mass movement. The Moderates, on the other hand, advocated strictly constitutional methods to protest against the partition of Bengal. At the Calcutta session of the Congress in December 1906, as a concession to the militants, the goal of the Indian National Congress was defined as ‘swarajya’ or self-government. The word swaraj was mentioned for the first time, but its connotation was not spelt out.

The Extremists, emboldened by the proceedings at the Calcutta session, gave a call for wide passive resistance and boycott of schools, colleges, legislative councils, municipalities, law courts, etc. The Moderates, encouraged by the news that council reforms were on the anvil, decided to tone down the Calcutta programme. The Extremists thought that the people had been aroused and the battle for freedom had begun. The Moderates saw in the council reforms an opportunity to realise their dream of Indian participation in the administration.

By 1907 session in Surat, Both sides adopted rigid positions, leaving no room for compromise. The split became inevitable, and the Congress was now dominated by the Moderates who lost no time in reiterating Congress commitment to the goal of self- government within the British Empire and to constitutional methods only to achieve this goal. The Government launched a massive attack on the Extremists. Between 1907 and 1911, five new laws were enforced to check anti-government activity. Tilak, the main Extremist leader, was sent to Mandalay (Burma) jail for six years. Aurobindo and B.C. Pal retired from active politics. Lajpat Rai left for abroad. The Extremists were not able to organise an effective alternative party to sustain the movement. The Moderates were left with no popular base or support, especially as the youth rallied behind the Extremists. After 1908, the national movement as a whole declined for a time. In 1914, Tilak was released and he picked up the threads of the movement.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/history/major-causes-of-moderate-extremist-split-at-surat-1907/23240/

This Day in History (20-Dec-1876) – Bankinchrandra Chattopadhyay wrote “Vande Mataram”

Bankinchrandra Chattopadhyay  wrote many Bangali novels from 1865 to 1884, most famous novel being Anand Math (1880). Anand Math contained the song “Bande Mataram”, which was written in 1876. Anand Math started appearing in the magazine, Banga Darshan, during 1880 to 1882. Its concept itself generated ripples in people’s minds, as it was a novel, which speaks of revolutionaries who live and die for their motherland. 1883 saw a stage version of Anandmath, wherein the first singing of the song took place. Bankimda passed away in 1894. In the 1896 convention of the Indian National Congress a full-unabridged version of Vande Mataram was sung. None other than the great personality-Rabindranath Tagore sang it. In the 1901 Congress, again it was rehearsed, with Dakshanrajan Sen as the composer. Thereafter it became a norm to start the Congress convention with Vande Mataram.

The year 1905 was memorable to Vande Mataram in many ways. In this year the song crossed the boundaries of Bengal, spread like a jungle fire throughout the nation which would oust the British rule. No sooner than the Partition of Bengal was declared, thousands of angry Bharatiyas protested the decision in a unanimous voice: Vande Mataram. Indian freedom struggle had got it’s march song. The British government realized the potential and nuisance value of Vande Mataram. Saraladevi Chaudharani, niece of Ravindranath Tagore, sung it despite protest in the 1905 Congress convention.

It was translated into English by Shree Auribindo Ghosh to conform to its universality and eventually. The militant revolutionaries who faced the gallows recited Vande Mataram as their last words. This includes Madanlal Dhingra, Praful Chaki, Khudiram Bose, Suryasen, Ramprasad Bismil and many more. Even the great martyr Bhagat Singh addresses a letter to his father with Vande Mataram. Subhashchandra Bose had adopted this song for his Indian National Army. In 1937, the Congress leaders, owing to misconceptions from certain minorities, appointed a committee to interpret Vande Mataram. The first two stanzas were adopted as a national song. Other stanzas bearing reference of the nation as ‘Mother Durga’ were omitted.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-heroes/bankim-chandra-chatterjee.html

http://www.vandemataram.com/html/vande/creation.htm

http://www.indiaonlinepages.com/national-symbols/national-song.html

This Day in History (12-Dec-1901) –Rabindranath Tagore established the “Barahamacharyashram”, the core of Shantiniketan

In the middle of the 19th century, Maharshi Devendranath Tagore found solace and serenity in the barren land in Birbhum district of Bengal. He purchased the land and built a small retreat for meditation, named, Santiniketan, the name later came to denote the entire area. As a child, Rabindranath accompanied his father to Santiniketan. In 1901, Rabindranath started his Brahmacharyasrama, to fullfil wishes of his father who was a considerable figure of his time in the field of educational reforms. By then the barren land was converted in garden full of flora and fauna. Rabindranath’s choice of Santiniketan for his school was definitely because of its environment. The school began with five students on roll.

It was always the objective in Santiniketan that learning would be a part of life’s natural growth. The first step towards this objective was to establish in the child a sense of oneness with nature. Rabindranath said we concentrate on learning from books and neglect the knowledge that is freely available on all sides. From the beginning, he wanted his students to be aware of their environment, be in communication with it, probe it, make experiments and collect specimens. And to guide them he wanted teachers who could go beyond book-learning, who were seekers themselves and who would find joy in the process of learning.

The school was a conscious repudiation of the system introduced in India by the British rulers and Rabindranath initially sought to realize the intrinsic values of the ancient education in India. The school and its curriculum, therefore, signified a departure from the way the rest of the country viewed education and teaching. The curriculum had music, painting, dramatic performances and other performative practices. Beyond the accepted limits of intellectual and academic pursuits, opportunities were created for invigorating and sustaining the manifold faculties of the human personality.

The same joyous atmosphere is evident and the children look as happy and free as ever. Classes even to this day are held under the trees. The first day of rains is still celebrated with an outing, barefoot and sans umbrellas. The spirit of Rabindranath lives on in Santiniketan.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.visvabharati.ac.in/Santiniketan.html

http://www.visvabharati.ac.in/History.html

This Day in History (17-Nov-1928) – Lala Lajpat Rai died after suffering grievous injuries during a lathi-charge carried out by the police

While in college Lala Lajpat Rai joined the Arya Samaj founded by Swami Daya Nand Saraswati. Soon he became one of the three most prominent Hindu Nationalist members of the Indian National Congress, the Lal-Bal-Pal trio. They formed the extremist faction of the Indian National Congress, as opposed to the moderate one led first by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and then Gandhiji. Lalaji actively participated in the struggle against partition of Bengal. Along with Surendra Nath Banerjee, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurorbindo Ghosh, he galvanized Bengal and the nation in a vigorous campaign of Swadeshi. Lalaji was arrested on May 3, 1907 for creating “turmoil” in Rawalpindi. He was put in Mandalay jail for six months.

He left for Britain in April 1914 to organize propaganda in foreign countries about freedom struggle. At this time First World War broke out and he was unable to return to India. He went to USA to galvanize support for India. He founded the Indian Home League Society of America and wrote a book called “Young India”. He was able to return to India in 1920 after the end of World War. After his return, Lala Lajpat Rai, led the Punjab protests against the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre and the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was arrested several times. He disagreed with Gandhiji’s suspension of Non-Cooperation movement due to the Chauri-Chaura incident, and formed the Congress Independence Party, which had a pro-Hindu slant.

In 1928, British Government decided to send Simon Commission to India to discuss constitutional reforms. The Commission had no Indian member. This greatly angered Indians. In 1929, when the Commisssion came to India there were protests all over India. Lala Lajpat Rai himself led one such procession against Simon Commission on October 30, 1928 in Lahore. While the procession was peaceful, James Scott, superintendent of Police brutally lathicharged the procession. Lala Lajpat Rai received severe head injuries and died on November17, 1928. Subsequently to avenge Lalaji’s death, Bhagat Singh and others planned to kill James Scott, however ended up killing John P. Saunders, Assistant Superintendent of Police, in case of a mistaken identity.
Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/17th-november-1928-lala-lajpat-rai-indian-nationalist-passed-away

http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-heroes/lala-lajpat-rai.html

This Day in History (15-Nov-1913) – Ravindranath Tagore received the message that he was awarded with Noble Prize in literature for his collection of poems “Gitanjali”

Rabindranath Tagore is the most eminent Bengali renaissance poet, philosopher, essayist, critic, composer and educator who dreamt of a harmony of universal humanity among the people of different origin through freedom of mind and spiritual sovereignty.  Gitanjali is a collection of poems by Rabindranath. The original Bengali collection of 157 poems was published on August 14, 1910.

On the way over to England in 1912, Rabindranath began translating, for the first time, his latest selections of poems, Gitanjali, into English. Almost all of his work prior to that time had been written in his native tongue of Bengali.He decided to do this just to have something to do, with no expectation at all that his first time translation efforts would be any good. He made the handwritten translations in a little notebook he carried around with him and worked on during the long sea voyage from India. Upon arrival, his son left his father’s brief case with this notebook in the London subway. Fortunately, an honest person named Rothenstein took help of his friend W. B. Yeats, the famous Irish poet and finally published the book through India Society of London. The English Gitanjali or Song Offerings is a collection of 103 English poems . It contained translations of 53 poems from the original Bengali Gitanjali, as well as 50 other poems which were from his drama Achalayatan and eight other books of poetry — mainly Gitimalya (17 poems), Naivedya (15 poems) and Kheya (11 poems).

The translated poems were extremely well received. In 1913, Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, largely for the English Gitanjali. The English Gitanjali became very famous in the West, and was widely translated. The word gitanjali is composed from “gita”, song, and “anjali”, offering, and thus means – “An offering of songs”; but the word for offering, anjali, has a strong devotional connotation, so the title may also be interpreted as “prayer offering of song”.

“… Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gitanjali

http://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/twenty/sujit.html

http://www.indianetzone.com/17/gitanjal_rabindranath_tagore.htm

This Day in History (17-Aug-1947) – The Radcliffe Line, the border between the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan is revealed

When the India-Pakistan partition was evident, in June 1947, Britain commissioned Sir Cyril Radcliffe to head the two Boundary Commissions (one for Punjab and the other for Bengal), to equitably divide 4,50,000 km sq of territory with 88 million people. Each Boundary Commission had four representatives, two from the Congress and two from the Muslim League and given the tension between the both, the decision regarding the boundary ultimately lay with Radcliffe. Radcliffe was a brilliant legal mind, but he had no border-making experience, nor had he ever been to India. He arrived in India on 8th July 1947 and was given five weeks to work on the border. While defining the boundary, Radcliffe also took into consideration “natural boundaries, communications, watercourses and irrigation systems”, while paying heed to socio-political affairs. Radcliffe completed the boundary line a few days before Independence.

Understandably, Radcliffe’s final proposals met with howls of disapproval from both sides. Even before he had completed his work, mutual suspicion and rumors about the eventual course of the border led to deadly violence on the ground. To create perceptual distance between the independence of India and Pakistan and the accompanying riots — and especially to deflect blame for the latter from Britain — Mountbatten postponed publication of the Radcliffe Border Commissions’ findings to two days after Aug. 15. For those two days, India and Pakistan were like conjoined twins. With long stretches of the border undefined on Independence Day, some towns raised both the Indian and Pakistani flags. Following the release of the border scheme, called the Radcliffe Award, violence escalated to horrendous levels. When all was over, pogroms and ethnic cleansing had left up to 1 million dead and forced 12 million to move one way or the other across the new border. Disgusted and horrified, Radcliffe burned all his papers and refused the fee of 40,000 rupees for his work. He left on Independence Day and never returned.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/17th-august-1947-the-radcliffe-line-the-border-between-the-union-of-india-and-the-dominion-of-pakistan-is-revealed

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/peacocks-at-sunset/?_r=0