A PUNDIT – WHO IS HE?
He is a learned man. Not in the sense he knows much and he ahs benefited himself. He is not a broad-minded man. He knows no new things. He is a conservative. He knows only the old things. He knows only to repeat like a parrot. Perhaps he may be compared to a gramophone. As some European Orientalist said, an Indian Pundit is a walking library. But a library contains books of different shades of opinion. This walking library has only one shade of opinion. It is only a bag pipe. It can sound only one note. It is a library walking backwards and never forwards. It is a collection of curios. The Pundit is an antiquarian. So a reference to him will let us know the story of the past. Hence it is reasonable that we cannot read the story of the future. Though we can sketch out the history of the future from a study of the histories of Greece, Rome &c., we cannot do similarly with the help of this antiquarian. If we attempt we shall surely fail. The result, if at all we succeed, will be a myth or epic which really belongs to the past and never to the future. He is like a figure crudely cut out by the artist of the primitive age. This figure was the type of perfection in that age. That was the high water-mark that age had reached. But now if we want to improve that same figure we cannot do it. Take the chisel and strike the figure and give a little more life to the limbs, then another portion should be chiseled off to bring about symmetry. Then again another portion is to be chiseled off, then again another and so on endlessly. And after endless labor and much strain, you might breathe life into that figure as suited to your modern tastes. Now you took the old lifeless figure with lumps for the limbs and some hollowness to mark the eyes and a vertical plane to denote the face. Now you have taken the finest instruments and taken a very long time to resculpture the whole into a new life-like figure. You could have taken a new block of stone and cut a new figure in half the time you took to re-shape the old. That age cut figures from stones. Stone is the common material, from which figures can be cut. Now we can cut out finer figures not only from stones, but even from copper or silver or gold. Old age might have invented sculpture, but now we cultivate the fine arts with our own intelligence. The old thing should not serve as a model. It is only a crude figure no better than ordinary block of stone. This block of stone is better than the old figure, since from the former we can carve out a beautiful picture. It only indicates the presence of an art called sculpture. Time is the material. The Past had its images. The present wants better images. The present can create finer production because this age is richer in knowledge and wisdom. Copy the past and you shift to the past and you are fit to be buried. You cannot hope to live in the present and for the future. So is a Pundit an image of the past. He is a cram beast. He received only an impression of the eye and the ear. No intelligence polishes his crammed knowledge. He is like a photograph of a ruined palace. The place was grand according to those times and now it is desolate. Whatever be the number of prints you take from that same plate, you get the same ruined palace. Though you take prints with the best modern appliances and frames etc., you cannot get anything but the ruined palace from that old plate. To get a picture of a perfect living building, a new building must be built and a new photo should be taken and you get beautiful copies of the new civilization. All these common sense dictates. Why should the present waste itself in trying to reshape the old. It is easier to construct anew.
Again a Pundit is not open to conviction. He is a leech to his opinion. Only death should metamorphose his doctrines and tenets. He must be ignorant of the English language. One highly proficient in English and in Sanskrit is not called a Pundit. To the Pundit languages have religions and castes and creeds. English language is "called a Mlechcha-bhashai." He will not wear boots or trousers. He will not wear a coat or a shirt. He will not tolerate any one who wears any of these. He will not even touch one who wears them. He must wear a "pancha" or "dhoty" and hang an "uttariyam" or upper over his shoulders. More than 50 percent of his body should be bare. He will have a scroll of sweat soaked palm leaves or the "panchangam" (almanac) which are themselves now copied from the English astronomical almanacs. These pundits do not know that Uranus and Neptune are the two new bodies discovered in the firmament. These people know only the names of the planets. They do not know whether these planets are solids like the earth or whether they are liquids or gases. These planets exist only in their imagination as some shapes in a nightmare. The pundits do not know the histories of Greece or Rome or of the human race at all. They know what Manu said or what Yagnavalkya said. They do not know the meaning of those passages. If we sensible men interpret the passages, he will tear away from our presence and try to tear us from our society. He has no reason and no logic except the Kadapadanyayam (which means mere hard sounding words). Let people remember that 'hard words break no bones', 'fine words butter no parsnips.' Neither passionate words nor mellifluous cant can effect any reform.
He does not know the improvements in different branches of knowledge. He thinks that modern science is a black art. He has no breadth of view. He is like a frog in a well. His purview extends only over a diameter of four feet. He does not know that the well is now submerged under a sea and millions of miles of water are encircling this well. He does not like that other frogs should go beyond the space of four feet diameter. Which is right? To restrict our sphere within the space of 12½ square feet or to sail beyond and discover new lands or be lost in the sea. Seldom we lose ourselves in the sea. Many have discovered new lands. Why delay the truth? A Pundit is a creature of the past and a fetish. Modern civilization should totally ignore the pundits as mere superstition. No reform can be done with the help or sanction of these people. Social reform or any reform, any change, is opposed to the Pundits. Pundit is the force of inertia. Why should we knock our heads against this force of inertia? We only blow up our heads against this force of inertia? We only blow up our heads and blood-shed and loss of life are the result. It is a pity that men of culture try the experiment at the fag end of their lives. At this stage they have lost their energy and their attempts prove a hopeless future. Ye men of culture, ye men of wisdom and knowledge, ye men of common sense, ye who know the history of the world and of the human race, know that you should not look back to the old ruined falling pillar for support. Know that that pillar is decayed. Look to the future. Reach the ever-rising pillar of civilization and hold to it fast and sure. Reinforce your conscience. Trust in God. Trust in your own self. March onward with sure, firm and steady steps. Never retrace. Pull, pull and pull hard and slow, and the mass behind will move at last. Never mind if the ground slips once or twice or even a dozen times. Once know the right and cleave to it for ever. Let not mockery, derision, flattery, abuse, discouragement, scandal, calumny thwart you. Let not dispraise numb your heart of earnestness. Be sincere and act in the living present. Hence Social Reform, Industrial Reform and Human Reform and all reforms will dawn on your face, and yourself will be encircled with a hallow of happiness and peace and prosperity of all humanity.
J. N. R.