Saturday, December 03, 2005

The wisest man in India

    In calling Andre Beteille the "wisest man in India", I must append four caveats. First, this is my verdict, and mine alone. The second and third caveats are contained in the title itself. There may still be wiser Indians living outside India, and wiser women living in India. Finally, I have little doubt that Andre Beteille himself will reject my judgment.
Ram Guha in today's The Hindu [Link].

Update (Dec 5): From Pradeep's comment:

    Ramachandra Guha seeems never tired of praising Rajaji.In the last 5 years, as far as I could remember, he wrote 4 articles on Rajaji with more or less the same content. The one published in the Hindu in 2003 [actually, Dec 22, 2002] had the same title. Does he think that readers have only short memory?
Ram Guha is running short of good titles!


At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Pradeep said...

Ramachandra Guha
seeems never tired of praising Rajajai.In the last 5 years, as far as I could remember, he wrote 4 articles on Rajaji with more or less the same content. The one published in the Hindu in 2003 had the same title. Does he think that readers have only short memmory? Interestingly in none of his articles he has written anything about later Rajajis political turn arounds in TN. When I have time I will show the other face ot Rajaji which is portrayed in Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yatis Autobiography Love & Blessigs. Anand if you have that magnificent book look at the chapter in which Yati describes his encouner with Rajaji (then TN Chief minister) while he was teaching at Vivekananda college, Madras.

At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anand said...

Very interesting! I think I have Yati's autobiography at home (in Calicut). Will take a look. Thanks for the comment, Pradeep.

At 5:03 AM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said...

it would be very interesting to have guha post a comment on this post :)

At 10:54 AM, Anonymous shoummo said...

Ramachandra Guha never tires of passing judgements. The criteria used by Guha while coming to the present conclusion is not clear. He also fails to mention the name of persons, whose names he considered before passing the judgement in favour of Andre Beteille. Guha is a person of knowledge, wide interests and many shades. Nevertheless, he is aspiring for an iconic status that will grant a tinge of infallibility to his many judgements.

At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I normally like what Guha writes,especially those about Nehru,and Cricket.But here his standard has reached an all time low.How dare he come to such a conclusion from a population of abt 50 crore men!By what criteria?How did he tresspass the others (Who?) in the race?Why not anyone else?

About Rajaji,though I dont like him,its some what okay to have said so. (Still!How many wise dudes dont write or end up in politics!).But this!

I have lost some of my respect for Mr.Guha.


At 4:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

guha might be suffering from something like 'writer's glut' - writing too often on too many things, one could end up writing the same thing on the same thing on multiple occasions!

At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ram Guha writes well and has a large audience fawning over him. His thinly disguised contempt for the rest is invisible to these people. But his lack of ideas isn't.

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ram Guha is one of those strange cocktails an admirer of Gandhi, Ambedkar, Nehru and Tagore but a strident critic of commie charlatans and religious obscurantists of all stripes; but again a sneaking admirer of colonialists. The 'romantic reds' love him when he bashes the RSS etc. but hate him when he is harsh on the champion mass murderers of the 20th century Mao and Stalin (and their ideology as well) and openly advocates a free market oriented economy for India. So he manages to offend everyone a little here and a little there. But like all Nehruvians he is entirely a post-1947ist. Not schooled in any Indian language apart from English (or any foreign ones) his limitations become obvious quickly. If one wants to read the smooth, pleasant and optimistic stuff you are better off reading Jaitirth 'Jerry' Rao - successful executive turned business person (so he puts his money where his mouth is), well schooled in the Indic tradition (reads Sanskrit and Tamizh), the classic old-school liberal who doesn't suffer fools like the leftist louts. OK if Jerry is too 'commercial' and since Dhiren Bhagat isn't around any sadly how about Ashok Malik?

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Tusar N Mohapatra said...

Wisest man, Worst poet, any takers?

The swadeshi movement was, from a Moderate point of view, a negation of the entire Congress project. As a partisan of the Moderates it gives me great satisfaction that Bengal’s greatest poet, Tagore, got it exactly right and her worst, Aurobindo Ghose, got it perfectly wrong.
Mukul Kesavan The Telegraph Sunday, May 29, 2005

We move on to Aurobindo, who, again, at times propagated ideas uncannily similar to Islam, as in the wish to return to a Golden Age where all was truth and righteousness. Then we come to Vivekananda, to this writer the most ambivalent, and hence most appealing, of the four.
Ramachandra Guha The Telegraph Saturday, April 17, 2004

These are unreasonable remarks from fairly reasonable people. And, similar impressions have gained wide currency over the years through such supposed expert comments. By ticking off the versatile legacy of Sri Aurobindo in just one sentence is certainly cruel to his memory. It appears that he is still standing before the bar of the High Court of History.

Everybody is eminently entitled to her views but what is questionable is the methodology. It has become a fashion, or almost a compulsion of sorts, to mention the name of Sri Aurobindo as an appendage to others. But, why bring in his name at all, if only to show him in bad light?

For the fact is that, the very project of comparision in this manner, is arbitrary. Sri Aurobindo’s work in the political sphere begins when Swami Vivekananda is no longer there. Tagore is almost a spectator in the sidelines and Gandhi is yet to enter into the picture. And again, the tenor of their work, so dissimilar.

Each of the great men like these has contributed to areas of specific significance which come to form our national mosaic. But in manufacturing the synthetic metaphysics of The Life Divine and composing the epic, Savitri, Sri Aurobindo’s genius is unparalleled, not only in India but also in the whole world.

All writers may not be competent to perceive the nuances of poetry or philosophy. But then, they are expected to be honest enough not to beat someone with the wrong stick. It is only rarely that we read any independent assessment of Sri Aurobindo in the media. But his role is indispensable for the national regeneration everyone is hoping for.


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