Monday, January 21, 2008

Patriotism of mercenaries

Swaminathan Iyer writes, Mangal Pandey was a mercenery. “He hired out his services to not even the British army but the east India Company. That made him a double mercenary; a mercinary soldier serving a mercenery corporation. Nor was he alone. Indians qued up to serve the British, who were reliable paymasters”

“Bengal army had a high presence of Brahmins. Lord William Bentick in 1826 was highly critical of the Bengal army, which had only a few low caste sepoys and was an inefficient and expensive army”, wrote Raja Shekhar Vundru.

Brave Martyr or Accidental Hero, a book by Rudranghsu Mukherjee has this to say: 'Nationalism creates its own myths. Mangal Pandey is part of that imagination of historians. He had no notion of patriotism or even of India. For him, mulk was a small village, Awadh.'
“Bankim Chatterjee and Ramesh Chandra Dutt glorified Hindu rebellion against Muslim rule and showed the Muslims in a correspondingly poor light. Chatterjee was positively and fiercely anti-Muslim”, wrote Nirad Choudhary.
Bankim Babu was happy to have white men as his rulers. Let me dwell on his novel ‘Anand Math’.
The novel was not anti-British, either. In the last chapter, we find a supernatural figure persuading the leader of the sanyasis, Satyananda, to stop fighting. The dialogue that follows is interesting:3
"He: Your task is accomplished. The Muslim power is destroyed. There is nothing else for you to do. No good can come of needless slaughter.
"S: The Muslim power has indeed been destroyed, but the dominion of the Hindu has not yet been established. The British still hold Calcutta.
"He: Hindu dominion will not be established now. If you remain at your work, men will be killed to no purpose. Therefore come.
"S: (greatly pained) My lord, if Hindu dominion is not going to be established, who will rule? Will the Muslim kings return?
"He: No. The English will rule."
Satyananda protests, but is persuaded to lay down the sword.
"He: Your vow is fulfilled. You have brought fortune to your Mother. You have set up a British government. Give up your fighting. Let the people take to their ploughs. Let the earth be rich with harvest and the people rich with wealth.
"S: (weeping hot tears) I will make my Mother rich with harvest in the blood of her foes.
"He: Who is the foe? There are no foes now. The English are friends as well as rulers. And no one can defeat them in battle.
"S: If that is so, I will kill myself before the image of my Mother.
"He: In ignorance? Come and know. There is a temple of the Mother in the Himalayas. I will show you her image there.
"So saying, He took Satyananda by the hand."
The above narration is from Bankim Babus novel Anand Math.
Bengali upper caste had unimaginable dislike for Muslims. Their hatred was result of the fact that the lower caste, particularly untouchables had embraced Islam and they stopped considering them as superior. The lower caste had achieved a status, which the Brahmins never gave them. Bankim Babu was a Brahmin.
From the arguments of Swaminathan and Rudranghsu Mangal Pandey was a mercenary. From their logic I proceed further. All those soldiers in the Indian army prior to independence were mercenaries and not soldiers. Cariappa, Thimmayya, Manekshaw were all in army before independence.
I do not understand why president of India salutes mercenaries on republic day.

No comments: