Some Legends Last Forever
Continuing with the amazing journey of Prof. Kailas Nath Kaul
Gandhiji’s invocation for the freedom struggle
The matric examinations were about to start. Gandhiji gave the call – leave schools and colleges. I was energised and left my school just a few days before the examinations and followed the leaders holding up the flag and carrying a cloth bag.
At that time, in Delhi, there were two great leaders. One of them was Asif Ali, a barrister. He wore churidar pyjamas and an embroidered kurta, and when he gave his speech, the Urdu he spoke fell like from his mouth like the sparkles from a firecracker. At one meeting, the crowd shouted for him to speak in Hindi. The notion was that he would not be able to. But, when he started in Hindi, he spoke the pure ‘Hindi of Benares’ (Varanasi). It flowed like the Ganges at Vishwanath Ghat, pure and chaste. He also spoke excellent English. His way of speaking was that of Mughal Durbar.
I was hardly old enough to be able to understand his politics but by standing by him, I learnt a great deal.
The other great leader was Swami Shradhanandji. He was tall and broad chested with shining eyes, he would be covered in a draped cloth, and carried a stout staff. When he spoke, he gave the impression that he was totally unafraid, even of death.
Near Haridwar, he had established a school which is today the Gurukul University. When Gandhiji returned from South Africa, he stayed with Swami Shradhanandji .
I remember, very clearly, an example of his bravery. The Government had enforced Penal Code 144. Swami Shradhanandji organised a march in Chandni Chowk. The army was out in full force. A Gorkha soldier pointed a loaded rifle at his chest. But Swami Shradhanandji stood his ground and challenged the soldier to shoot if he had the guts. An officer near by motioned to the soldier to step aside. Swamiji proceeded on with his followers. I learned many things from Swamiji also.
We were told to go from village to village and sing the songs of independence. We would go from one village to another and would sing songs of dying for the sake of independence.
I would be fed by the villagers and we would spend the nights in their houses. This was a new experience of life for me. I had always lived either of my grandparents. I had only seen the markets of Delhi and Jaipur. I knew only the masters at my schools and Madarsas. I had the impression that our whole country was like this. I felt all men lived similar happy contended lives.
When I visited the villages of India, I could understand how these people lived their lives. They would bring their problems to me. They felt I could help them and ease their sufferings. They were not interested in independence. They did not even understand the concept of Independence. They felt that any ruler whether he was Hindu, Muslim or English, would loot them.
…and the journey continues.