Sunday, March 01, 2009

History of India and Definition of Bharat - Beautiful speech by Yechury

I have lifted 2 paragraphs of Yechury's speech in debate on President's address. For the complete text of his speech, here is the link:

The president mentioned the fact that we are entering the 60th year of our Republic. The sixtieth year, for an ancient civilisation, is a very auspicious year. I mean all ancient civilisations in the world have and we call it shashthi. And after this year is over, we call it shashthipoorthi, starting of another life, and another life means a new life. So, we are in that year, whether we follow policies which create a new life or whether we go back into the morass of the past lives. And that is why, when we want to talk about the creation of a new life, we need to understand what we are, because these acts of moral policing, these vigilante attacks, these acts of expression of a Hindutva-Taliban, this is something we cannot afford when we are going towards shashtipoorthi. That is why, when the question comes up that we will protect our culture, what is our culture? In my opinion, there cannot be any other country where we have such a rich mosaic, a rich diversified mixture of various cultures, religions and traditions, as we have in India. Jawaharlal Nehru, on the eve of India's independence, in the Discovery of India, evokes the example of a palimpsest – the palimpsest is an ancient tablet on which history is recorded and when the new victor comes, he erases the old history, and writes a new history. But when he erases, he does not completely erase it because it cannot be completely erased. Talking about Indian culture, he described India as "an ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie have been inscribed and yet, no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously".

It is this richness that we have, and if anybody claims to be the sole custodian of this culture, it is something that cannot be permissible. You please go back to our Constitution in the 60th year of the Republic. What does Article 1 say? Article 1 says, "India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States." You remove 'that is Bharat'. The Constitution still retains the same contents but not the spirit. Why did we say 'that is Bharat'? See the Constituent Assembly debates. There were a lot of debates whether it should be Hindustan, whether it should be Hind, Bharat, etc., etc. Finally the Constituent Assembly, after the partition, after the communal riots that took place, by its wisdom chose Bharat because of its secular connotation. I want to urge you, what is the meaning of Bharat? Some say, it is the name of the son of Dushyant and Shakuntala who unified this land; some say, it has a vedic interpretation, the vedic origin of Bharat Rishi. But there is another very important interpretation. Bharat is the confluence of three themes -- Bha is for Bhavam, Ra is for Ragam and Tha is for Thalam. It is only when you have a Raga that uses the seven musical notes in various combinations, you create a melody. When that melody is accompanied by a rhythm Talam, you create a harmony and it is the expression of that harmony which is the character, that is the Bhavam, and that is India. India is the confluence of all these cultures; it is the confluence of all these notes; it is the confluence of all these rhythms and that is expressed in our character, which is Bharat. So, it is that character that we need to preserve. If that has to be strengthened, if that needs to be done, you require an alternative policy trajectory – an alternative to communalism, an alternative to the economic policies which need to be changed to be pro-people, an alternative which will keep the independence of our foreign policy and our dignity in the international community.


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