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Madan Mohan MalaviyaPandit Malavyaji’s recent South Indian tour was an awful failure. The object of his tour was Social Reform. He hoped that with the offering of two mantras he could reform society, remove untouchability and even convert Christians and Muslims into Hindus. If he had any semblance of success or even toleration it was only when he preached to the converted. The conservative sections of the Nambudris listened to him patiently and evoked his admiration by their parrotlike chanting of Veda the result of so many years of hard, albeit useless, memorizing; but they looked askance at the Pundit’s references to the removal of untouchability and temple entry. At Kottayam when Punditji attempted to better his first manthram of Rama Namam the audience lost patience and grew restless. The question put to him, how he would reconcile caste and conversion, i.e., into what caste he would place a man converted from other faiths and if he should be placed in the caste he chooses to be in, which is nothing but fair, why caste Hindus be not allowed to change castes and choose what caste he liked – this question was rather inconvenient to him. The birth basis of castes would in that case go. That at the late hour, considering his old age and fatigue the people did not press him for an answer, bespeaks the respect they had for him and their highly cultured and gentlemanly behavior.

At Trichur and Trivandrum he was listened to with respect. In one of these places he even defined caste as being based on the quality of the man rather than on his birth and quoted the oft cited and utterly worn out sloka from the Bhagavat Geetha. No one takes that sloka seriously when one deals with caste troubles.

To crown all, Punditji ignominiously failed in his debate with the conservative pundits of Madras, if the paper reports are true. He had to confess that removal of untouchability, religious conversion to Hinduism and temple entry had no sanction in the Vedas. His citation were outcited. Pitable indeed was the sight of an accomplished lawyer like the Punditji so full of resources bowing down his head before a few old priests whose only boast is that they have converted their memory into a dustbin of forgotten verses. The Punditji could not, it appears, muster courage to assert that Vedas or no Vedas, these reforms are necessary in the present crisis and if there were no sanction for them new sanctions have to be created. Sorry the dynamic pundit did not ask the static pundits whether the use of coffee, tea, ovaltine, aerated waters, motor car, railways, electric lamps and the thousand and one conveniences of modern civilization had Vedic sanction. Things that could not have been dreamt of by the writers of Vedas could not have been sanctioned or prohibited those innocent authors.

Would the social reformers bid farewell to this past complex in them and be bold enough to look around and forge ahead? The crying evil of India today is the sad want of mutual confidence amongst the several sections of the people. Long life of slavery under the British administration of public safety, religious neutrality and quiet, steady and peaceful exploitation and consequent impoverishment has eaten up their capacity to make mutual adjustments. It is only now that people have opened their eyes and realize now like Gulliver in Liliput they are bound down by so many chains. A wrenching is necessary. Let the reformers boldly and fearlessly face the situation.

In North India the Hindu-Muslim rupture is the main social disease. Instead of creating a militant class of Hindu fanatics to fight against Mahomedan fanatics and irritating the latter by the Sudhi and Sangatan movements, why should not they try to popularize interdining and intermarriage between Hindus and Muslims and create harmony among the two sections and eventually lead both to the ideal of each man and woman having a religion of his or her own, the mosques and temples being made equally accessible to all. Of the present day Muslims the majority who are the children of Hindus converted in the past do not feel sorry for having seceded from the faith of their forefathers. The great Akbar did not feel any qualm of conscience to show openly his toleration for and even inclination towards Hinduism. Conciliation and compromise in social reform activities pay better than rivalry and opposition. The newspapers tell us often of marriages between Mahomedan and Christian youths and Brahmin girls. All this shows that there is nothing fundamentally wrong in such alliances. It is high time that people realize and feel ashamed of the silliness of cutting each other’s throat over the question of music before mosques and cow-killing. The descendants of the present day Hindus and Muslims would have but a very poor opinion of their forefathers who wasted their time and energy on such silly and disgraceful fight when they ought to have been uniting to free themselves from the yoke of slavery pressing heavily on the necks of both the communities alike. Let us deserve well of our posterity, Let us hope that Pundit Malaviya and Mahatma Gandhi accompanied by Shaukat Ali and Mohamed Ali will go round India preaching and practicing inter-dining and helping the youths to take to inter-marriage amongst the people of all castes and creeds in India. Such a mission might, why, will create an atmosphere for giving up the fight of communal representation and for gaining a glorious Swarajya so that India may become one of the great powers of the world, rich in resources of men and wealth, and of thought and action. Would our leaders have the courage, patriotism, large heartedness and clearness of intellectual vision to work for and usher in such a golden age. Inter-dining and inter-marriage are the two sovereign remedies for all the social evils of communal strife in India.

- M. RamavarmaThumpan, M.A. L.T

(Revolt, 23 June 1929)

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