Is not Shivaji a National Hero ?
Hero-worship is a feeling deeply implanted in human nature
and our political aspirations need all the strength, which the worship
of a Swadeshi hero is likely to inspire into our minds. For this purpose
Shivaji is the only hero to be found in the Indian history. He was born
at a time when the whole nation required relief from misrule and by his
self -sacrifice and courage he proved to the world that India was not
a country forsaken by Providence.
No one ever dreams that every incident in Shivaji's
life is to be copied by any one at present. It is the spirit, which
actuated Shivaji in his doings that is held forth as the proper
ideal to be kept constantly in view by the rising generation. We
do not think that the Anglo-Indian writers will object to England
worshipping Nelson Or France worshipping the great Napoleon on the
ground that such national festivals would alienate the sympathies
of either nation from the other, or would make the existence of
amicable relations between the two nations an impossibility in future.
And yet the same advice is administered to us in a patronising tone
by these Anglo-Indian critics, being unmindful of the fact that
we have now become sufficiently acquainted with their tactics to
take their word for gospel truth.The Shivaji festival is not celebrated
to alienate or even to irritate the Mahomedans.Times are changed,
the Mahomedans and the Hindus stand in the same boat or on the same
platform so far as the political condition of the people is concerned.
Can we not both of us derive some inspiration from the life of Shivaji
under these circumstances? That is the real question at issue; and
if this can be answered in affirmative it matters little that Shivaji
was born in Maharashtra.
We are not against the festival being started in
honour of Akbar or any other hero from old Indian history. Such
festivals will have their own worth; but that of Shivaji has a peculiar
value of its own for the whole country, and it is the duty of everyone
to see that the characteristic of the festival is not ignored or
misrepresented. Every hero, be he Indian or European, acts according
to the spirit of his times; and we must therefore judge of his individual
acts by the standard prevalent in his time. If this principle be
accepted we can find nothing in Shivaji's life to which one can
take exception. His life clearly shows that Indian races do not
so soon lose the vitality, which gives them able leaders at critical
times. That is the lesson, which the Mohamedans and the Hindus have
to learn from the history of the great Maharatta chief; and the
Shivaji festival is intended to emphasise the same lesson. It is
a sheer misrepresentation to suppose that the worship of Shivaji
includes invocations to fight either with the Mahomedans or with
the Government. It was only in conformity with the political circumstances
of the country at the time that Shivaji was born in Maharashtra.
But a future leader may be born anywhere in India and who knows,
may even be Mahomedan. That is the right view of the question, and
we do not think that the Anglo-Indian writers can succeed in diverting
our attention from it.
Excerpts from The Maharatta
of 24th June, 1906.
Festivals like these prove an incentive to the
legitimate ambitions of a people with great historic past. They
serve to impart courage, such courage an appreciation of heroes
securing their salvation against odds. They are an antidote to vague
despair. They serve like manure to the seeds of enthusiasm and the
spirit of nationality. Malice or wickedness is never the keynote,
or even the minor note, of those who come together on occasion like
Extract from the speech of Lokmanya
Delivered in Marathi on 25th June, 1907.