Monday, December 15, 2014


    The Hon'ble Mr. Justice Subramania Aiyar, delivered a most excellent speech on the occasion of his presiding at the Presidency College Historical Society, when Mr. Glyn Barlow delivered his able address on "Patriotism in the making of History." A speech containing so much manliness, and thorough good sense, and breathing such genuine love of his country and his people and sparkling with mother wit, we have seldom read. He began by observing that we would have no occasions for the exercise of patriotism as illustrated by the lecturer in as much as the Government gave us good Government and internal peace combined with perfect non-interference with the religious and social institutions of the Hindus. Yet he said there were instances in which he would like Government interference. Talking of the Government's absurd attitude towards the control of our religious and charitable endowments, he observed.

    "The temples and matams had not been created for enjoyment of particular individuals, but were institutions intended for the public good; when they found the resources of such institutions wasted and misappropriated, and asked the Government to give Boards and regulations for controlling them, Government on the plea of maintaining religious neutrality would not interfere in the matter. He mentioned this instance to simply show them that in the matter of religion they had not the slightest chance of their patriotism being evoked." But he left unsaid that it is our duty as good and patriotic citizens that we should agitate and agitate till we get Government to interfere and set our religious institutions in order. Of course we crave Government help, only because the Act now in force is a Government measure and it is so imperfect and ill-conceived that no good is possible, so long as this regulation remains in force. To instance only a recent case where this Act miserably failed to secure any good we refer to the Alagar Covil Devastanam suit. It was after very great difficulty counsel and pleader argued and obtained sanction to see the committee for several acts of misfeasance, and public subscriptions were also raised to pay for the court fee, & c. The suit was very hotly contested and the litigation was pending for more than 3 or 4 years in the District Court itself and a decree for several thousand Rupees and the dismissal of some of the committee members was obtained. The dismissed members appealed to the High Court and while it was pending there, the plaintiffs were got to file a razinama, consenting to the reversal of the decree itself! So that the whole litigation ended in a miserable fiasco notwithstanding the time and trouble and money spent in the matter. And such a monstrosity was possible under this existing statute!!! And the Bill to deal with these institutions in still hanging fire and for more than 12 years. Going back to the speech, it contains several others gems, by way of defining and illustrating what true and false patriotism consisted in. Here is one, "After all, the proper work of patriotism consisted in the display of one's influence and powers for the benefit of some body other than himself. If a man was growing wealthy, powerful, and strong and full of knowledge, what he asked was the good of that man's wealth, power, strength and knowledge if they were not to be utilized in the service of weaker people. In the case of an individual, possession of these powers could only be held to be possession, where proper use was made of them." He paid a compliment to the present generation, which we hope they will try fully to deserve. "There were more patriotic men in their generation than among the men of his generations. Every year that passed broke some barriers of caste, race and creeds. The British Empire was conferring upon them almost imperceptibly several boons and instilling a new feeling of unity out of which should come this desire to serve the country. They were therefore in the future likely to have many more opportunities of being patriots." And he extorted them to help to secure such educational institutions which will form and should their character as true Indians and Indian gentlemen by supplying truly indigenous and national moral and religious culture. And he gave useful hints as to how to combine the old with new in the improvement of the Indian mind. "He admitted that there were numerous evils in their society and their customs, which were being got rid of gradually. Nevertheless, in pursuing away the evils, they should try not to destroy the root and substance of the Indian character"; and after instancing the case how in Madura, all the ornamental trees planted by him (not all, a few Pinnata have struggled to get on) beside the margosa trees have died out, whereas the margosa trees are flourishing and giving luxuriant and useful shade, he drew the moral that in selecting things which were not actually indigenous to the country, they would have to take great care; they should be careful not to plant exotics which would die out, so as to ensure that their progress might be healthy natural and useful. He also remarked that patriotism was impossible without character, and character cannot be formed except in truly national institutions. And he instanced the Central Hindu College of Benares and the grand scheme of Mr. Tata's as truly national conceptions and he recommended these institutions for support from the purse of every real patriot of our country and lover of our people.

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