Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2018 > Pranab Mukherjee at RSS Headquarters

Mainstream, VOL LVI No 34 New Delhi August 11, 2018

Pranab Mukherjee at RSS Headquarters

Sunday 12 August 2018


Our erstwhile President Pranab Mukherjee visited the RSS headquarters at Nagpur on June 7, 2018. He did so at the invitation of the RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat. Bhagwat had visited Rashtrapati Bhavan several times when Pranab was the President (and if press reports are not incorrect, he even spent a night there on one occasion as the guest of our former head of state).

Much has been written about his visit to Nagpur after he had demitted the office of the President and the speech he delivered there. He spoke well and as was mentioned in the columns of the Political Notebook in this journal’s June 9, 2018 issue,

He recalled the contributions made by Tilak, Gokhale, Gandhi, Nehru and other stalwarts of the freedom movement. He emphasised that the soul of India lay in the spirit of assimilation, of pluralism, in its multi-religious and multi-cultural entity.. He underlined the need for tolerance, drew attention to atmosphere of increased violence—physical as well as verbal—prevailing around us and counselled that the multiplicity of opinions can be resolved only through dialogue.

However, one point needs to be brought into focus.

In his speech at Nagpur, Pranab quoted four lines from Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poem ‘Indian Pilgrimage’ (Bharat-Tirtha):

“No one knows whence and at whose call

came pouring endless waves of men

rushing wildly along—

to lose themselves in its (India’s) sea;”

But the next three lines were missing in his speech. These were:

”Aryans and non-Aryans, Dravidians and Chinese,

Scythians, Huns, Pathans and Moghuls—

all have merged and lost themselves in one body.”

Nor did he recite the last stanza of the poem that reads:

“Come ye Aryans, come non-Aryans,

Hindu, Muslim, come all;

come ye English, come ye Christian,

come Brahmin, cleanse your mind

and hold others by the hand,

come ye outcaste, come ye lowly ones,

fling away your load of shame!

Come, one and all, to the Mother’s crowning come,

fill the sacred bowl and let all unite

and consecrate the waters

on the shore of vast humanity

that is India.”

Had he recited that stanza he could have touched the soul of India as we know her—an India which is vastly different from the one the RSS worships.

There is ample room for speculation as to why he did not do so. But the fact remains that had he done so, he would have clearly demarcated himself, Citizen Pranab Mukherjee, the quintessential Congressman, from the RSS’ philosophy.

A golden opportunity missed? Or was it a deliberate slip on his part?

The answer perhaps lies in the womb of the future.

Mansoor Ahmed


Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted