Monday, August 20, 2018

Jottings - Slice of life - 227 ( Our tryst with destiny - seventy years of Independence; the tricolored flag flies high)

Jottings - Slice of life - 227 ( Our tryst with destiny - seventy years of Independence; the tricolored flag flies high)
A country comes into existence, when its flag is recognised as representing a sovereign nation with fixed boundaries, duly constituted and acknowledged as the homeland of certain set of people who have entered into sacred covenant with the land they inhabit to make civic, social laws; govern and organize themselves in a manner befitting their heritage and culture. No matter how small or how large the country, it is that simple piece of cloth thoughtfully and symbolically woven, colored and imprinted, hoisted high up on a firm pole - such that it flutters proudly in breathless proclamation that the liberty and freedom of the country it symbolizes, will now and forever live and dream as one cohesive unit, and strive to live in harmony and peace with international order. For a newly found nation, the flag is the most sacred totem, layered myth and divine decree - all rolled into one. It is the proud insignia of every citizen of that country.
To illustrate the importance of the flag, let me remind my readers of a piece of history that is not usually remembered or studied widely in schools . In 1939, amidst the rumble of Hitlers germany, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt found time to perform a ceremony which had great historical significance. In a short and subdued event, the President awarded a plaque to the residents of St Eustasius - a small island in the Caribbean, a once thriving dutch colony in 1700's serving ( not surprisingly) British Interests. The Plaque read:
"In commemoration of the salute of the flag of the United states fired in this fort November 16, 1776, by the order of Johannes De Graff, Governor of Eustasius, in reply to a national gun salute fired by the US ship Andrew Doria.."
In other words, the existence and sovereignty of USA was first acknowledged by this little fort in the Caribbean, by a resounding gun Salute, when Governor De Graff saw the newly founded flag of the USA fluttering atop the mast of incoming ship Andrew Doria. It is the first documented and recognized acknowledgement of USA as an independent country, and not a vassal of English empire. It was a significant moment for America, and President Roosevelt, who always had a keen sense of History, knew how much that Gun salute meant in establishing the moral authority of his country in the eyes of the world - America had authoritatively arrived on the world scene, and St Eustasius recognized it without question. The flag symbolized the nations identity.
The Indian flag - in iridescent colors of Saffron, white and green on hand spun cloth of specific dimensions, with the majestic chakra ( wheel) in ocean blue color embedded right at the center; its twenty four outward pointing spokes representing centrifugal forces of Human order - will today, the 15th of August flutter with pride, passion and patriotism from every corner, in every school, in every public place, from every household of the vast subcontinent. The saffron in the flag indicates dispassionate work in the interest of the nation, the white symbolizes the sense of inner balance - sattva, and Green reminds us of our relationship with Earth - our mother land and the planet in general. In three masterful choice of colors the architects of India compelled all its citizens to conjure a picture of harmony, work and inner balance in daily life . In its very simplicity , the Indian flag contains the essence of India and the rich ancestry of its glorious spiritual and cultural civilization.
When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, stood up nearing midnight on the 14th August 1947 to address the parliament, he had the weight of five thousand years of Indian history bearing upon his shoulders. Never before had the continent of India been united in the scale it was about to be shortly. As he stood up that evening, with charismatic confidence, he knew what toll the fight for Independence had taken upon countless men and women who had sacrificed everything at the idealistic altar of Political freedom, he knew that fighting the British and political independence were just the beginning of a long journey to unite India and progress. In that slightly crowded, brightly lit assembly , he spoke for nearly 20 minutes in flawless English, with voice quivering with emotion and eyes lit with the fire of leading a country into light. He began his great speech with the following paragraph, which now has become immortal in the annals of public speaking. It is worth reading again:
"Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.."
Like the roar of a lion announcing its presence to the jungle, these words penetrated the soul of its audience and continues to reverberate through time. Nehru's speech gave voice to the birth cries of a great nation with tremendous potential. "A star has risen in the east" is how Nehru described India towards the end of his speech. When Nehru sat down, there were few moments of utter quiet in the hall, and then the entire assembly rose in unison to applaud the message so beautifully woven in words and etched in the vaults in time. Every one, who heard the live broadcast, or read it in the papers had tears of joy and hope in their eyes. India, the Bharat they had dreamed had finally come true, and now, it bought with it grave responsibility - the task of building a powerful and peaceful nation.
Every 15th Aug, we pause, reflect and solemnly pledge and rededicate ourselves to the love and blessings of our motherland. Wherever we are and whatever we do - all is laid at her feet with the gratitude and love of child to a mother. Without her unconditional blessing, nothing of significance is possible. The essence of this love is captured in Lata Mangeskar's beautiful rendition of Raja Mehdi Ali Khan's immortal lyrics , set to tune by Madan Mohan. It lilting cadence and timeless words strike a deep chord. Involuntarily, our hearts reach out to something intangible yet there, and tears wet our eyes.
"tu jahan jahan chalega, mera saayaa saath hogaa"
"Wherever your destination may take you,
The protective shadow of my love shall never forsake you"
This is the unconditional promise of ones motherland to her sons and daughters..
Jai Hind!!
God bless..
yours in mortality,
Bala

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