Fwd: Remembering Rajaji

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Courtesy: Srinivasan MS <srinivasan.ms2000@gmail.com>
Ramani Rv



C. RaajagOpaalacaari (Rajaaji) - A lawyer, statesman, and poet, he was a man respected in many ways throughout India. Rajaji was born on December 8, 1878 in Thorapalli Village near Hosur in Salem District of Tamilnadu. His mother was Shringaramma. His father Chakravarti lyengar was not only the village munsiff but also a great scholar in the Vedas, Puranas, and other Sanskrit lore. Rajaji completed his primary education in his native village and then joined the District Board High School at Hosur. Later he passed the B.A. degree examination from the Central College in Bangalore and secured a Law Degree in Madras.

When he was studying in the Law College in Madras, an interesting incident happened. Swami Vivekananda visited Madras. He was put in the very hostel where Rajagopalachari was staying. Going round the rooms of the students in the hostel, he entered Raja- gopalachari's room. He saw on the wall a picture of Lord Krishna. He asked, "Why is Lord Sri Krishna blue in hue?" Raja- gopalachari, still a student, answered: "Sir, the sea is limitless. So is the sky. And both are blue. God is also boundless. And so His hue is also blue." Swami Vivekananda was overjoyed. He said the young boy would rise to eminence and would become very famous. It was in Salem that Rajaji began independent practice as a lawyer. He was just twenty years old. He came to be known as an expert in conducting criminal cases. Soon Rajaii became very famous as an advocate in Salem. He was the very first person there to own a car. When he was twenty, he married Alamelu Mangammal. When he was just twenty-one, he conducted very difficult cases independently. His knowledge of law, his intelligence and his fearlessness brought him great fame and wealth in a short time.

Just then, the Government had prosecuted a patriot by name Varadarajulu Naidu; the charge was that he had spoken against the Government. Rajagopalachari was the advocate for Varadarajulu Naidu. Whenever Rajaji stood up to speak, the judge would say "Please sit down." Next day, at the very outset Rajaji stood up and made a submission: "I have great respect for the Honorable Judge. But if like a teacher in a classroom, Your Honor always asks me to sit down, I shall not be able to discharge my duty; and it will not add to the dignity of this court." The Judgeapologized to Rajaji. Finally, on the basis of Rajaji's arguments, Varadarajulu Naidu was acquitted.

Rajaji eventually gave up his law practice for the sake of the country. He served as president of the town municipality, Governor of West Bengal in 1947, and as Governor-General of free India. At 72, he was Home Minister of the Central Government. In 1952, he became Chief Minister in Madras - heading the Congress Party. But opposed to the corruption inherent in government, he founded the "Swatantra Party" at the age of 82. It was the main opposition party in the Lok Sabha till 1969.

Rajaji's real name was Chakravarti Rajagopalachari. People affectionately called him Rajaji. How the family got the name of Chakravarti is an interesting story. In Sanskrit, 'Chakravarti' means the King of Kings. Once when an ancestor of Rajaji was bathing in the river near their village, he saw a dead body come floating down the river. Fearing that if left so to float, vultures would only eat up the body, he pulled it out of the river and cremated it. But later, it became known that the dead body was that of a Harijan, considered by Hindus as an outcast. Hence the Brahmins of the village expelled him. One day he had to perform an annual ceremony in memory of a dead ancestor. Such days are very sacred to Brahmins. But no Brahmins would agree to go to his house and partake of the ritualistic meal. Rajaji's ancestor was in great grief and anguish. Just then a person came along and said he was a Brahmin; he said he would perform the worship in that house and partake of the meal. As he was about to leave, he blessed the householder saying "Nallan Chakravarti" meaning a good Emperor. Then he vanished. The people who were there thought he was no ordinary mortal, but a super human being. From then on this family got the name of Chakravarti family. So goes the story.

Rajaji was a very popular writer in Tamil and English. Some of his books have a unique place in the world of letters. He has also translated some Kannada stories into Tamil. He has written more than thirty books. His books on the ancient Roman King Marcus Aurelius, Socrates, on the Bhagavad- Gita, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Upanishads are all very famous. Even a common man can read and understand his writings. Rajaji said, "My books on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are my greatest service to my people." There is no exaggeration in it. Their simple style is very attractive. By translating the Ramayana and the Mahabharata into simple and beautiful English, Rajaji has made it possible for the people of the Western countries to read and enjoy these great epics of India. The Mahabharata written in English by Rajaji is a textbook for Oriental Studies in five American Universities and more than three hundred thousand copies of it have already been sold. Two hundred thousand copies of the Ramayana have been sold. Rajaji spoke and wrote very simple language. He was a great scholar, but his language was never pedantic. When people heard him speak, they were amazed that difficult and profound ideas could be expressed in such simple words. The same feeling comes when we read his books. Rajaji's stories have their own charm. He had a fine sense of humor. Even while speaking in the legislature, according to the situations he was telling some stories. He wrote many articles in the "Swarajya". He dealt with every subject in the country's affairs.

It was Rajaji who introduced teaching of Hindi compulsorily in Madras. But twenty years later Rajaji himself led the agitation against Hindi. He felt strongly that in the eagerness to spread Hindi as the national language, the regional languages should not be adversely affected; their development should not be harmed.

As an administrator he displayed courage and a keen intelligence. He was the Chief Minister of Madras in 1937. Then he introduced prohibition. This was being done for the very first time in India. But prohibition meant loss of revenue to the Government. So he introduced Sales Tax for the first time. Many economists also welcomed the measure.

The farmers in our country were bowed and crippled by the weight of debts. Every farmerÕs family was in debt, and the every interest on it was enough to ruin the family. A farmer was born as a debtor, and he lived as a debtor and finally died in the same conditions. To remove this pernicious evil, Rajaji brought in a new regulation. He banned the charging of unreasonably high interest.

As Chief Minister of Madras, Rajaji had laid for himself a very high code of conduct, others would have found it impossible to follow it. He exercised great caution to see that he and his Ministers remained untouched by corruption. He always went to the State Legislative Assembly ready to answer any question or supplementary. He had asked other ministers also to be similarly prepared.

In 1952, Rajaji again became the Chief Minister of Madras. He removed allcontrols on foodgrains. Several Ministers at the Center and also others thought that Rajaji had taken a wrong and hasty step. But soon it was evident that what he did was right. So all over the country, the controls on foodgrains were removed. Two years later he felt that the educational system in the State should be radically changed. There was great opposition to this. So he resigned. He always upheld his principles.

Rajaji never cared for caste restrictions. He gave his daughter Lakshmi in marriage to GandhiÕs son Devadas, in the tradition of his ancestors, and in keeping with his family name of Chakravarti.

He died on December 25, 1972. He was then 94.

He wrote many songs, one among them is Kurai ontrum illai marai murthi kaNnaa"



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