A prayer at dusk

The palm trees leaned over the lagoon,

Like long-haired sisters, sharing in a lonely secret,

and we their wistful keepers,

in the thickening dark, while empty canoes drifted dockside.

We chanted your name against the dying light, four hands clasped,

as quietness washed over the dimming land,

like floating pearls thrumming on your eternal string,

an action of experienced hands,

directed by thought, then utterance, then memory of you,

before that unspeakable stillness.

By Divya

INDIA DIES NOT

We have an idea that we Indians can do something, and amongst the Indians we Bengalis may laugh at this idea; but I do not. My mission in life is to rouse a struggle in you. Whether you are an Advaitin, whether you are a qualified monist or dualist, it does not matter much. But let me draw your attention to one thing which unfortunately we always forget: that is — “O man, have faith in yourself.” That isle the way by which we can have faith in God. Whether you are an Advaitist or a dualist, whether you are a believer in the system of Yoga or a believer in Shankarâchârya, whether you are a follower of Vyâsa or Vishvâmitra, it does not matter much. But the thing is that on this point Indian thought differs from that of all the rest of the world. Let us remember for a moment that, whereas in every other religion and in every other country, the power of the soul is entirely ignored — the soul is thought of as almost powerless, weak, and inert — we in India consider the soul to be eternal and hold that it will remain perfect through all eternity. We should always bear in mind the teachings of the Upanishads.


Remember your great mission in life. We Indians, and especially those of Bengal, have been invaded by a vast amount of foreign ideas that are eating into the very vitals of our national religion. Why are we so backwards nowadays? Why are ninety-nine per cent of us made up of entirely foreign ideas and elements? This has to be thrown out if we want to rise in the scale of nations. If we want to rise, we must also remember that we have many things to learn from the West. We should learn from the West her arts and her sciences. From the West we have to learn the sciences of physical nature, while on the other hand the West has to come to us to learn and assimilate religion and spiritual knowledge. We Hindu must believe that we are the teachers of the world. We have been clamouring here for getting political rights ant many other such things. Very well. Rights and privileges and other things can only come through friendship, and friendship can only be expected between two equals When one of the parties is a beggar, what friendship can there be? It is all very well to speak so, but I say that without mutual co-operation we can never make ourselves strong men. So, I must call upon you to go out to England and America, not as beggars but as teachers of religion. The law of exchange must be applied to the best of our power. If we have to learn from them the ways and methods of making ourselves happy in this life, why, in return, should we not give them the methods and ways that would make them happy for all eternity? Above all, work for the good of humanity. Give up the so-called boast of your narrow orthodox life. Death is waiting for every one, and mark you this — the most marvellous historical fact — that all the nations of the world have to sit down patiently at the feet of India to learn the eternal truths embodied in her literature. India dies not.

-Swami Vivekananda

Natchiketas and Yama

V.I Lenin, The Awakening of Asia

Was it so long ago that China was considered typical of the lands that had been standing still for centuries? Today China is a land of seething political activity, the scene of a virile social movement and of a democratic upsurge. Following the 1905 movement in Russia, the democratic revolution spread to the whole of Asia—to Turkey, Persia, China. Ferment is growing in British India. 

A significant development is the spread of the revolutionary democratic movement to the Dutch East Indies, to Java and the other Dutch colonies, with a population of some forty million. 

First, the democratic movement is developing among the masses of Java, where a nationalist movement has arisen under the banner of Islam. Secondly, capitalism has created a local intelligentsia consisting of acclimatised Europeans who demand independence for the Dutch East Indies. Thirdly, the fairy large Chinese population of Java and the other islands have brought the revolutionary movement from their native land.

Describing this awakening of the Dutch East Indies, van Ravesteyn, a Dutch Marxist, points out that the age-old despotism and tyranny of the Dutch Government now meet with resolute resistance and protest from the masses of the native population. 

The usual events of a pre-revolutionary period have begun. Parties and unions are being founded at amazing speed. The government is banning them, thereby only fanning the resentment and accelerating the growth of the movement. Recently, for example, it dissolved the “Indian Party” because its programme and rules spoke of the striving for   independence. The DutchDerzhimordas[1] (with the approval, incidentally, of the clericals and liberals—European liberalism is rotten to the core!) regarded this clause as a criminal attempt at separation from the Netherlands! The dissolved party was, of course, revived under a different name. 

A National Union of the native population has been formed in Java. It already has a membership of 80,000 and is holding mass meetings. There is no stopping the growth of the democratic movement. 

World capitalism and the 1905 movement in Russia have finally aroused Asia. Hundreds of millions of the down trodden and benighted have awakened from medieval stagnation to a view life and are rising to fight for elementary human rights and democracy. 

The workers of the advanced countries follow with interest and inspiration this powerful growth of the liberation movement, in all its various forms, in every part of the world. The bourgeoisie of Europe, scared by the might of the working-class movement, is embracing reaction, militarism, clericalism and obscurantism. But the proletariat of the European countries and the young democracy of Asia, fully confident of its strength and with abiding faith in the masses, are advancing to take the place of this decadent and moribund bourgeoisie. 

The awakening of Asia and the beginning of the struggle for power by the advanced proletariat of Europe are a symbol of the new phase in world history that began early this century.

Portrait of Vladimir Lenin

Gandhiji on Vivekananda

“I have come here to pay my homage and respect to the revered memory of Swami Vivekananda, whose birthday is being celebrated today. I have gone through his works very thoroughly, and after having gone through them, the love that I had for my country became a thousand-fold. I ask you, young men, not to go away empty-handed without imbibing something of the spirit of the place where Swami Vivekananda lived and died. -Mahatma Gandhi

Satyagraha in Ghana

“Positive action has already achieved remarkable success in the liberation struggle of our continent and I feel sure that it can further save us from the perils of this atomic arrogance. If the direct action that was carried out by the international protest team were to be repeated on a mass scale, or simultaneously from various parts of Africa, the result could be as powerful and as successful as Gandhi’s historic Salt March. We salute Mahatma Gandhi and we remember, in tribute to him that it was in South Africa that his method of non-violence and non-cooperation was first practiced in the struggle against the vicious race discrimination that still plagues that unhappy country. But now positive action with nonviolence, as advocated by us, has found expression in South Africa in the defiance of the oppressive pass laws. This defiance continues in spite of the murder of unarmed men, women, and children by the South African Government. We are sure that the will of the majority will ultimately prevail, for no government can continue to impose its rule in face of the conscious defiance of the overwhelming masses of its people. There is no force, however impregnable, that a united and determined people cannot overcome”

“in 1929 mowed down by machine gun fire poor defenceless Nigerian women for peacefully and harmlessly protesting against excessive taxation, the counterpart of India’s Amritsar.”

“The main purpose of the All-African Peoples’ Conference to be held in Accra, Ghana, in December 1958, will be to formulate concrete plans and work out the Gandhian tactics and strategy of the African Non-violent Revolution…”

“The beginning of the year 1960,” he said, “has seen the climax of ruthless and concerted outrages on the peace-loving people of our continent. The explosion of an atomic device in the Sahara by the French Government and the wanton massacre in the Union of South Africa of our brothers and sisters who were engaged in peaceful demonstrations against humiliating and repulsive laws of the South African Government are two eloquent events in this climax, a climax which is a sign post to the beginning of the end of foreign supremacy and domination in Africa.”

—Kwame Nkrumah

The Bronze Legacy (To a Brown Boy) – Effie Lee Newsome

Jacob Lawrence, Panel no. 3: From every southern town migrants left by the hundreds to travel north, 1940–1941.

‘Tis a noble gift to be brown all brown

Like the strongest things

Up this earth,

Like the mountains grave and grand,

Even like the very land,

Even like the trunks of trees –

Even oaks, to be like these!

God builds his strength in bronze.

To be brown like thrush and lark! Like the subtle rain so dark!

May, the king of beasts were Brown:

Eagles are of the same hue.

I think God then, I am brown. Brown has mighty things to do

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 57: The female workers were the last to arrive north
Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 29: The labor agent recruited unsuspecting laborers as strike breakers for northern industries

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel no. 11: Food had doubled in price because of the war

Poem: The Rosenbergs, June 1953 – W.E.B Du Bois

Pablo Picasso, untitled lithograph of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, 1952.

From floods of wrath, avenging God,

Pour down the curse on us the murderers, who crucify the Jews!

Hammer home the nails, thick through our skulls;

Crush down the thorns;

Rain red the bloody sweat,

Thick and heavy, warm and wet.

We are the killers, hurling mud!

We the witch hunters, drinking blood!

To us shrink all the lynched,

the thousands mobbed,

the millions dead in useless war.

But this, this shameless deed we do this day,

the senseless blasphemy of mother and child,

Fills full the cup!

Hail hell and glory to damnation!

Oh bloodstained nation,

Stretch out your hands:

Cover them, judges, with your glory gowns;

Come lawyers in your Sheets of shame,

Proud partners of thugs and thieves

Cautious rabbis, silent priests

Calling all cowards in cap and gown

Calling all cowards, home!

Crawl wedded liars, hide from sight,

In the nasty murk of night

We hold high vigil with the dawn!

Death calls!

Holy mother, son of God!

Tortured a thousand days

To the last pale gasp!

Dying the death magnificent

Scorning to trade with the president

Life for a lie!

Two pale and tight lipped children.