Tag Archives: shivaji maharaj museum

SHIVAJI, A HERO FOR MODERN INDIA

Not for myself I fought and ruled, but for God and the dharma, the religion of Hindu nationality which Ramdas enunciated (Conversations of the Dead, Shivaji & Jaysingh, by Sri Aurobindo)

I had heard about Shivaji for a long time without really knowing him well. There are cities in India where I feel ‘at home’, as if I already knew these places The first time I visited Pune, quite a few years back, I felt good, connected, spiritually alive. Was it my imagination? Nevertheless, I attributed this to Shivaji’s presence in His realm. When I finished the Art of Living course which I had come to conduct outside the city, I had a few hours before catching my plane and I set upon finding a museum about Shivaji, which I was sure was bound to exist in the city where he was born. I asked the driver and he took me to the main museum of Pune, the Raja Kelkar museum. It did look nice from the outside and it had indeed a marvelous collection of Mughal antiques which included paintings, instruments, lamps & different types of nut crackers. But I was astonished to see that there was not a single artifact on Shivaji. It did not make sense, because I had already noticed that Shivaji is a hero to most Maharashtrians whatever their political affiliation. I then explored other Pune museums: there is a Tilak museum, a tribal one, a war museum, but nothing on the great son of the soil who was born 60 kms from Pune.
As I finished my disappointing visit of the KeIkar museum, I felt right here and there that I should do something about honouring Shivaji in His city. But first I had to know him. I then set upon buying all the books that had been published about Shivaji. There came my second surprise: I quickly realized that all the biographies of Shivaji were terribly out dated: the most famous and quoted of all “Shivaji and his Times”, by (Sir) Jadunath Sarkar, was written in 1938! My favourite one, Chhatrapati Shivaji, by Setumadhavrao Pagadi, was published in 1973. It is the most recent of mainstream biographies of Shivaji. Now as Frenchman, I grew up hearing about the greatness of Napoleon who lived 300 years ago. And I do know that there is not a year that passes by, without two or three books on his life, his military victories, his mistresses, or his administration, being published.
How does Shivaji compare with Napoleon? Well, admirably. More than that even, as Shivaji surpasses him in many ways. Napoleon was a unique war strategist; and so was Shivaji. In fact, Chaatrapati fought in even more difficult conditions than Napoleon, as he did not have the might of a national army behind him and had to face the powerful and ruthless Mughal Empire of Aurangzeb. Napoleon was a remarkable administrator who made laws, some of them still in use in France; and so was Shivaji: once he conquered a territory, he made sure that it was well and fairly administered, as we will see later. What Shivaji did better than Napoleon then? Shivaji was secular, he believed in the oneness of all religions, though Hinduism was supreme to him. But furthermore, Shivaji was a Vibhuti, a direct incarnation from God who came to succour and help India at a time of great need, when the cruel and a-dharmic hand of Aurangzeb was poised to devastate the whole of the land and eventually make of the Indian subcontinent Dar al-Islam, the house of Islam.
It is necessary to dispel the impressions created by Indian and western historians who have made of the struggle of Shivaji a fight between Hindus & Muslims and an inter-religious struggle. It was not so: Moghuls in the times of Shivaji were still considered as ‘foreigners’. Thus it was a battle between Indians and invaders. Shivaji used his own integrity during this epic fight and mastered all the arts of wars of his time, so as to be that perfect leader. His courage to challenge the Mughals was unparalleled. He was truly a bhakti: SHIVAJI WORKED FOR THE DIVINE, AS GUIDED BY THE DIVINE
Great men and women who walk this earth and are instruments of God, do most of their work while in their physical body. But when they die, I believe they leave something behind, a presence, a will. This day, when I could not find a house in honor of Shivaji, the idea of a Museum of true Indian History, dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj started taking shape in my mind, as our Foundation FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) had already made many exhibitions (see fact-india.com). Pune is the ideal place for this Museum: it’s Shivaji Maharaj’s realm, it is central to India and more than anything, Marathas have a stronger national fiber than in other states and I felt the Museum will be better protected here.
This is a difficult project. Whoever has never attempted to raise money for a Museum should give it a try… I have met hundreds of potential donors, but when I say that I want to build a Museum of true Indian History, it wipes off the smile of their faces and they say they have to consult their board, ha, ha… This is why we are most grateful to those who believed in this project and gave the bulk of the funds and also to the dozens of NRI’s who know me through my writings and trusted me with their donations.
Trying to portray Indian History as it happened, not as it has been written, is also a very sensitive task and at nearly every step, we have encountered obstacles sometimes even from our own people. Yet, Shivaji was an instrument of God and whoever binds him to a particular caste, or even a particular guru, demeans him and hampers his work, for he was a supra-national figure and his qualities of dedication to Mother India, of respect of human rights and honest administration, are needed today. His extraordinary courage in front of adversity, should also be an example to many Hindus, who today, at the slightest threat, go underground.
Please see the photos of what has already been done in the Museum on this link. This is just a humble beginning: we are planning to start the foundations of the main Museum which will house exhibitions from the Vedas to the India of tomorrow. If God, in spite of my shortcomings, gives me the strength, the enthusiasm and the health to do this work, it will be a wonderful and noble project, that will be talked about for generations. But for that we need funds a lot of funds and. I hope all of you will pass along the message to your friends.
The Museum, whose address is: Ahead of Marathwada Institute. Vadgaon Shinde road. Wadgaon. Pune 4, is OPEN every day from 9am to 6pm and entrance is FREE. Please tell your friends about it. we have daily aarti in the temple in the morning at 9.30am
FACT is a registered Trust with Indian & UK, US tax exemption. If you would like to help, you could make a donation to: FACT, Account No: 04071450000237, IFCS code: HDFC0000407. We will mail you back your tax exemption certificate and we will honor all our donors.
Namaste
Namrita & François Gautier/ Trustees FACT

Advertisements

A WESTERN JOURNALIST ON LK ADVANI

When I started reporting in India, I had the same ideas as most western journalists : secularism, as practiced by Jawarlahal Nehru, was the best policy for India, given its caste and religion differences; Islam was a peaceful religion; and there were also Hindu fanatics.

But I had been given three boons by the Lord: I spent the first seven years of my life in India far from Delhi (in Pondicherry); I read Sri Aurobindo extensively and discovered that he had a towering mind, educated in the West, but Himalayan in its breadth; & I started freelancing in the South, which is much softer, much more attuned to its culture and spirituality than northern India.

Thus, when I interviewed K.R. Malkani, then one of the spokespersons of the BJP in 1988, I went there thinking I would get a Hindu ‘nationalist’ spiel. I was surprised to find a very cultured man, who spoke softly and courteously. And funniest of all, most of the things he said made sense and reminded me of what Sri Aurobindo had written nearly a hundred years before. Thus I became, probably the only ever western correspondent sympathetic to the BJP (Mark Tully, who has an intuition of Hinduism, always remained too British and too Christian to cross that threshold).

I met LK Advani in Jaipur in 1989 and took an instant liking to him: his forthrightness, Spartan simplicity and forceful thoughts. I remember in these days, there were only 3 pillars of the BJP: Advani, MM Joshi and Vajpayee. I was never very impressed by Mr Vajpayee, though no doubt he was a consensus man and an able statesman: but both the times I interviewed him one to one, I found that he had no knowledge about the world and nothing much of interest to say. But I had a lot of admiration for Mr Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. Both demonstrated that they had guts: MM Joshi by raising the Indian flag in Srinagar in 1992, which at that time was made fun by the entire Indian media; and LK Advani by breaking a jinx : Muslims destroyed hundreds of thousands, if not millions of temples in india, but he was the one who had the guts to destroy that one mosque, abandoned as it was. It was a symbolic message of the Hindu renaissance.

The pity is that these three kept each other neutralized: MM Joshi and LK Advani have hated each other for the last 20 years and Vajpayee made sure that Advani always remained N°2 in the BJP.

I however always though that L.K. Advani’s reputation as a fanatic hardliner and a hawk was misplaced: I have spent many moments in his home and I have never heard him raise his voice. In fact, I doubt he ever hit someone in his life: he is very much a family man, dedicated to his wife Kamla and daughter Pratibha, both of them remarkably intelligent. In fact, it often struck me that these two women were the two biggest influences in his life.

Wen the BJP again lost the last elections in 2009, I met Mr Advani shortly thereafter alone in his office & he firmly told me: “it’s time for me to retire from politics”. I believed him then: Advani is a quiet man, whatever the press says, he likes to read, think, watch films and spend quality time with his family.

Yet today, he is clearly positioning himself as the BJP PM candidate for 2014 and that is wrong. For one, he will be 87 at the beginning of his mandate and 92 at the end of it, when most of the leaders in other parts of the world are in their fifties or even forties. Secondly, he is wrecking the chances of the BJP, because, whether it is fair or not, he does not have a good image with the electorate. Thirdly, as usual, in the true tradition of Hindu disunity, he is stabbing in the back Narendra Modi, the only man who has a chance to beat Rahul Gandhi and bring the BJP back to power. Fourthly, however much I liked LK Advani, when he was Home minister and deputy PM, he did not do better than the Congress: neither did he help the poor Tibetans as he had promised, nor did he show any iron hand in Kashmir, nor did he stand up to the Chinese. In fact he did nothing except trying to project a goody image of himself and the BJP.

For all these reasons, I , who has been the one and only western correspondent friend of the BJP in all these years say:
DEAR MR ADVANI, PLEASE BE TRUE TO YOUR WORD AND STEP DOWN FROM THE BJP, SO AS TO LEAVE THE PLACE TO NARENDRA MODI, WHO NOT ONLY SHOWED THAT HE DOES THIBGS BY MAKING OF GUJARAT A MODEL FOR ALL OTHER INDIAN STATES, BUT ALSO IS THE ONLY CHANCE OF THE BJP IN THE NEXT ELECTIONS

Francois Gautier

PS It does not help that LK Advani refused point blank to help the Shivaji Maharaj Museum of Indian History, Pune. If there ever was a Museum dedicated to the Hindus, it was this one