V.R. Krishna Iyer

Dear Rahul Gandhi: Although I have not met you, I have heard of you as one who is compassionate to the poor and by implication a socialist by conviction. I hold the view that the Prime Minister of India should be a member of the Lok Sabha. You represent the youth of India and the aspirations of our socialist, secular democratic Republic. India’s heritage is not borrowing from President Bush or other tenants of the White House. It is dangerous: his goodwill is a grave risk since the international law of Washington is often the vanishing point of jurisprudence. However, the great and grand Obama continues to be friendly since he has compassion for the vast weaker sections of the world and for a new dynamic dialectic world order. Authentic true economic democracy is a socialist commitment.

I have appreciated the integrity of Manmohan Singh but have disagreed with what I have called manmohanomics, which is far from ‘swadeshi’ and ‘swaraj’. Although Manmohan Singh is a statesman, today India needs a Third World economics, a revival of gram swaraj and the development of agriculture. We have failed the Tamils of Sri Lanka, we have also failed in our spiritual and moral values. We have failed the social philosophy of our Constitution, we have failed Gandhi, Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Vivekananda and Asoka.

Let me cite Vivekananda on the Buddha, the enlightened one who is the quintessence of Indian culture: “Let me tell you a few words about one man who actually carried this teaching of Karma-Yogi into practice. That man is Buddha. He is the one man who ever carried this into perfect practice. All the prophets in the world, except Buddha, had external motives to move them to unselfish action. The prophets of the world, with this single exception, may be divided into two sets, one set holding that they are incarnations of God come down to earth, and the other holding that they are only the messengers from God; and both draw their impetus for working from outside, however highly spiritual may be the language they use. But Buddha is the only prophet who said: ‘I do not care to know your various theories about God. What is the use of discussing all the subtle doctrines about the soul? Do good and be good. And this will take you to freedom and to whatever truth there is.’ He was, in the conduct of his life, absolutely without personal motives; and what man worked more than he? Show me in history one character who has soared so high above all. The whole human race has produced but one such character, such high philosophy, such wide sympathy, yet had the deepest sympathy for the lowest animals, and never put forth any claims for himself. He is the ideal Karma-Yogi, acting entirely without motive, and the history of humanity shows him to have been the greatest man ever born; beyond compare the greatest combination of heart and brain that ever existed, the greatest soul power that has ever been manifested. He is the first great reformer the world has seen. He was the first who dared to say: ‘Believe not because some old manuscripts are produced, believe not because it is your national belief, because you have been made to believe it from your childhood; but reason it all out, and after you have analysed it, then, if you find that it will do good to one and all, believe it, live up to it, and help others to live up to it.’ He works best who works without any motive, neither for money, nor for fame, nor for anything else; and when a man can do that, he will be a Buddha, and out of him will come the power to work in such a manner as will transform the world. This man represents the very highest ideal of Karma-Yogi.”

I similarly quote H.G. Wells, on Emperor Asoka, whose inviolable principles of peace, fellowship of faiths and a beautiful blend of spiritual and material cultures are the fundamentals of our upanishadic heritage: “For eight-and-twenty years Asoka worked sanely for the real needs of men. Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majestics and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured. China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish the memory today than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne.” (Outline of History)

Don’t shirk the responsibilities of a national leader when the summons comes. You are the servitor of the vast masses of India’s have-not humanity. I conclude with another quotation from Vivekananda: “Feel, my children, feel for the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden; feel till the heart stops and the brain reels and you think you will go mad.”

I write this letter as one inspired in my patriotism from your great grandfather Nehru who swore by socialism and believed as our tryst with destiny to be “to wipe every tear from every eye” as a duty rhetorically orated on August 15, 1947. Pity we have forgotten the finest wonder of our Vedic ancient values because of the power of the mafia, the millionaires and communalism, corruption and lunatic politicians who have suffocated the lot of the deprived and jettisoned the human rights of hungry homeless humanity and half-fed victims of the state terrorism.