Lala Lajpat Rai was “secular and proud Nationalist-Hindu”

Chandigarh : Hemant Goswami of “National Centre for Historical research and Comparative Studies” maintained that Lala Lajpat Rai despite having a broad secular outlook always called himself as a “Hindu Nationalist” and worked to ensure that the self-respect, self-esteem and feeling of Nationalism is restored among the youth. Speaking at Panchand Study Centre on Lala Lajpat Rai – his vision of India, Goswami said “for achieving this objective he even wrote short biographies of Mazzini, Garibaldi (Revolutionaries of Italy, Europe), Shivaji, Swami Dayanand, Sri Krishna and Arya Samaj. His travelogue of the United States, published in 1917 as “United States of America – A Hindu’s Impression and a Study” shows his detailed research and understanding of the problems and issues of America and Europe. Lala’ji depth of understanding of the issues of the time and his understanding about the possible practical solutions can also be gauged from his other writing too, including “Young India – History of Nationalist Movement” and “The Problems of National Education in India.”

Goswami mentioned that despite being one of the most active leaders of Congress, Lala’ji was never a blind follower and he also criticized congress as an instrument of the British and as a “Safety-Valve.” In his book Young India Lala’ji writes, “But one thing is clear, that the Congress was started more with the object of saving the British Empire from danger than with that of winning political liberty for India. The interests of the British Empire were primary and those of India only secondary and no one can say that the Congress has not been true to that ideal. It might be said with justice and reason that the founders of the Indian National Congress considered the maintenance of British rule in India of vital importance to India herself, and therefore were anxious to do everything in their power, not only to save that rule from any danger that threatened it, but even to strengthen it; that with them the redress of political grievances and the political advance of India was only a by-product and of secondary importance.”

Talking about the current discourse of religious reconversion, Hemant referred to writings of Lala’ji to point-out that “Lala Lajpat Rai was never apologetic about being a Hindu Nationalist or on issues of reconversion; or for preventing the conversion of Hindu’s by Christian Missionaries. In fact in his book on Arya Samaj, Lala Lajpat Rai proudly mentions the work of “Shuddhi” whereby people of Islamic faith were brought back in to Hindu fold. Way back in 1888 also he wrote in one of his newspaper article about the wonderful news of reconversion of a Muslims to Hinduism by the route of Arya Samaj. In another correspondence Lala’ji writes against practice of conversion adopted by the Christian missionaries.”

The study centre goshthi was attended by Prof KN Pathak, a former Panjab University Vice-Chancellor and Shri RS Sharma, Veteran journalist and former Vice-Chancellor of MC National University of Journalism and communication, Bhopal, historian Prof Juneja and several members of city intelligentsia.

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