Raghu Vira

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Raghu Vira (December 30, 1902 - May 14, 1963) was an Indian linguist. He was a Hindu nationalist and served as Jana Sangh's President.[1]

Biography[edit]

Dr. Raghu Vira was born in Rawalpindi (West Punjab) on 30 December 1902. After doing MA from Punjab University, he did Ph.D. from London and D. Litt. from Leiden (Holland). He was in close touch with most of the Indologists of Europe during and after his three visits there. Dr Raghuvira's early centre of work after his three study trips of Europe was Lahore where he became Head of Sanskrit Department in Sanatan Dharma College. At that time, Dr Raghuvira's reputation as Head of the Department of Sanskrit of S.D. College was great. In any scholarly assembly, he outshone all speakers. He was offered principalship of the college with the condition that he would not take part in politics. He turned down the offer. Dr. Ragu Vira was also one of the Editors of the Critical Edition of the Mahabharata which was compiled at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune. More specifically he was the editor of the Fourth Book of the Mahabharata i.e. the Virataparvan.

He was elected to first to Constituent Assembly in 1948 and then to Rajya Sabha in 1952 and 1957. He left the party in 1961 because of differences with Jawaharlal Nehru over the China policy. His contribution to parliamentary and inner party debates with inside knowledge of China and South-East Asia was unique. He pleaded for a large anti-China, anti-communist front of Buddhist countries of South-East Asia. After his return from three months cultural research tour of China in 1956, he told Nehru that China as a once cultural brother of India was dead and that it was now an expansionist, materialist country. He had many skirmishes with Nehru in party meetings and ultimately resigned in December 1960 when the Chinese danger loomed large as the GoI just watched aimlessly. Soon after his resignation he was invited to the Jana Sangh and joined it as the only major party close to his views, with a strong network of cadres.

His life ended in a car accident near Kanpur when as Jana Sangh President he was going to do election propaganda work for his socialist friend Dr Ram Manohar Lohia's by-election in the Farrukhabad Lok Sabha constituency in UP in May 1963.

Raghuvira's linguistic mission[edit]

Dr Raghuvira was a linguist and zealous nationalist. Dr Raghuvira tried to organise a joint front of all Indian languages against the imperialist monopoly of English. Dr Raghuvira had mastered more languages than any other Indian including Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, English, Urdu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi.

He coined some 1.50 lakh scientific and parliamentary terms with Sanskrit as the common base just like Latin is for European languages. His Greater English-Hindi Dictionary remains his fundamental contribution to the cause of Indian languages. He was in touch with leading Tamil and Telugu scholars too for his research work.

Apart from his work of creating for Hindi, a scientific, technical and legal vocabulary based upon Sanskrit, his reputation as a scholar will rest mainly on many editions of ancient Sanskrit texts, either his own direct work or inspired by him...."

Collection of manuscripts[edit]

Dr Raghuvira aimed to re-establish India as Jagat Guru by researching, excavating and collecting an estimated three lakh Sanskrit manuscripts spread worldwide as the relics of the glorious work of the Hindu and Buddhist missionaries as cultural colonisers of Mongolia, China, Central Asia, South-East Asia and Indonesia.

As a result of Acharyaji's visits to these countries, huge number of relics and manuscripts were collected. These impressed great world fights like Pt Nehru, Chou En-lai and Dr Soekarno who extended personal encouragement, and appreciation to him for excavatory missions in search of Indian artifacts and manuscripts in those countries. TWhen he came back from China after a three-month tour in 1956 he had a baggage of 300 wooden boxes with him containing rarest of finds, antiques and manuscripts bearing on the deep cultural contacts between China and India.

Saraswati Vihar[edit]

He established International Academy of Indian Culture (Saraswati Vihar). The Vihar was as Acharya Raghuvira's personal centre of research work in Indian culture, literature and religion with studies in its widespread impact and proliferation from Mongolia to Indonesia, China, Russia, and Central Asia. It was established first at Ichhra near Lahore in 1932 and sensing trouble in 1946 he shifted to Nagpur a year before Partition. The State Government of Pt. Ravi Shankar Shukla provided him all the facilities for the rehabilitation of his research network.

The Vihar was later shifted to Delhi in 1956 and is still functioning under the stewardship of his son Dr Lokesh Chandra. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, President Rajendra Prasad and ambassadors of nearly all South-East Asian countries used to visit it to see the progress of his work and his latest collections. Before embarking on his last fatal journey to Kanpur, he had divided his cultural mission among his son, daughter-in-law, two daughters and a son-in-law.

Nationalist politician[edit]

The Indian National Congress recognised Hindutvavadi Dr Raghuvira's linguistic expertise and elected him first to Constituent Assembly in 1948 and then to Rajya Sabha in 1952 and 1957. He left the party in 1961 because of differences with Nehru over the China policy. He pleaded for a large anti-China, anti-communist front of Buddhist countries of South-East Asia. After his return from three months cultural research tour of China in 1956, he told Nehru that China as a once cultural brother of India was dead and that it was now an expansionist, materialist country. He had many skirmishes with Nehru in party meetings and resigned in December 1960 when the Chinese danger loomed large. Soon after his resignation he was invited to the Jana Sangh and joined it as the only party close to his views, with a strong network of cadres.

He was a Hindu nationalist in every sense of the term. Earlier even in 1948 he clashed with Congress party bosses on the question of Sheikh Abdullah's repressive policies against people of Jammu represented by Praja Parishad. Along with another Congress member, M.L. Chattopadhyay, he visited Jammu to see things for himself and issued a blistering report against Sheikh Abdullah's anti-Hindu policies which later on blossomed into the Sheikh's azadi mongering Islamiat. He reported how the Sheikh had sacked 3000 Hindu employees and recruited even pro-Pakistanis in their place after assuming dictatorial powers. Some prominent Muslims who had left for Pakistan were called back and given prize posts-one of them made even Governor of Udhampur province. Kidnapping of Hindu girls was reported even by Nehru's own favourite General, B.M. Kaul who was then head of State Militia but Nehru was somehow afraid of Abdullah, leading to a chain of disasters. Only very serious matters such as the Sheikh's outburst in favour of azadi to a British correspondent were referred to Sardar Patel whom Abdullah really feared as he threatened to withdraw Indian army from the Valley. But after Patel's death, even that check was removed and Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee had to take up cudgels but he was deliberately pushed into the jaws of death.

Dr. Raghuvira's reputation in Hindu circles soared very high after that. Even before RSS work began in Lahore, he started his Hindu Rakshak Sangh, and used to hold daily drills in DAV College grounds, in military uniform, looking rather ludicrous among a few volunteers. However, he never cared for public applause in pursuit of his mission.

There were great expectations when such a luminary with grand Hindu cultural vision joined the Jana Sangh in early 1961. His gloomy prophecies about China came true within a year in Chinese attack. His address at the Bhopal session of Jana Sangh in December 1962, a month after the attack was a wonderful analysis of India's defence problems, foreign affairs and economic policies. It is a pity he did not live long. His death was second great blow to Jana Sangh after Dr Mookerjee's death. Still the party flourished because of its inner steel frame of cadres and idealism. The car accident in which he died occurred on May 14, 1963 when he was going from Jaunapur to Farrukhabad to campaign for Dr Ram Manohar Lohia in the parliamentary by-election. The car struck against three trees one after another when one of the tyres burst, eleven miles before Kanpur.

Humanist[edit]

Apart from being a scholar, he was also a man of great energy and the highest ideas, that he sometimes put into practice by working among the untouchables in villages and spending some time in Gandhiji's Sabarmati Ashram. His interest in politics came from Lala Lajpat Rai's ideas. In Delhi, he found time from his studies to work for improving the living conditions of people living in slums.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Baxter, Craig (1969). The Jana Sangh: a biography of an Indian political party. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 206.