Denigrating Bengal’s icons

West Bengal saw a very different type of observing the Ram Navami on Wednesday. The BJP and its allied organizations took out hundreds of processions in Kolkata and the districts.  The processionists carried and waved different types of weapons. Even children were found carrying weapons – something which shocked people. This was an open and brazen violation of the law which prohibits carrying of weapons in public. Why this was necessary to pay respect to Lord Ram only those who organized the processions can explain.
The Web edition of the National Herald has reported the circulation of a crop of social media messages that denigrated Bengal’s revered literary icons. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya was a litterateur “who truly deserved the Nobel prize” but Rabindranath Tagore was a “characterless, licentious, anti-Hindu agent of foreigners and secularists who got the Nobel.” Michael Madhusudan Dutta was condemned as “Bengal’s disgrace” because he converted to Christianity to marry a foreign woman. The post demanded a ban on sale of his works. Another social media group wanted fish-eating to be banned because fish is an avatar of Vishnu.
There is a method in the selective denigration of the literary icons of Bengal – glorifying Bankim Chandra but dubbing Rabindranath as an ‘anti-Hindu agent of foreigners’ or Madhusudan as ‘Bengal’s disgrace’. The comment that Bankim Chandra should have got the Nobel Prize betrays the humongous ignorance of its writer. Bankim died in April 1894. The Nobel prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology and Medicine, Literature and Peace were announced in 1895 and the awards started being given from 1901.  How does the question of Bankim not being awarded a Nobel Prize arise?  The comment about Rabindranath is not only outrageous but defamatory. The Poet renounced his Knighthood protesting against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Calling him an ‘anti-Hindu agent of foreigners’ betrays a diseased, deranged and morbid mind. 
But such outrageous and defamatory comments are being systematically disseminated by a group of people in furtherance of their political objective. There must be a strong protest by Bengal’s intelligentsia and the cognoscenti against the attempt to blacken the character of the harbingers of Bengal’s renaissance. Those who are doing it have nothing to do with Hinduism or Hindutva. They deserve to be roundly condemned. If such forces come to dominate the political, cultural and literary life of Bengal, it will be the end of everything that the Bengalis cherish and are proud of.

Monday, 10 April, 2017