Dr. M. K. Teng
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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Pandit Communists and Left Movement in India

Tribute to Nadim and his comrades

By Dr. M.K. Teng

The Communist outlook which pervaded the contemporary marxist ideology, cast its shadows on the evolution of the Communist movement in Jammu and Kashmir. In its earlier phases, the main inspiration for the movement was the revolutionary movement in Russia and the rise of the Soviets to power. In the Indian context, the Marxist movement spread out into an anti-imperialist struggle. Lenin did not conceive nationalism as the basis of an anti-imperialist struggle. Confronted by the anomoly of an anti-imperialist struggle in India, without recognising India as a nation, the Indian Communist Party adopted categories of change, which were not Indian in content and which rejected the continuity of Indian history.

The traditional leadership of the Communist Party in India, in utter disregard of the historical process which Karl Marx claimed, determined the evolution of the human society, committed the fateful error of ignoring the continuity of Indian history. The communist movement in India, did not recognise the civilisational ethos with its social linkages, the forms of intellectual experience which evolved in thousand of years of social change, and the value-structures which survived relativism of time. The Indian civilisation determined the categorical imperatives of the Indian society. The Indian society grew into social forms and heirarchical gradations, the substructures of the social culture and the forms and institutions of authority and political control.

The Indian renaissance which formed the foreground of the liberation movement from foreign dominance, marked the re-assertion of the historical continuity of India.  The Indian renaissance did not form an expression of the Indian reaction to the replacement of the Mughal rule by the British power. It represented the recognition of the continuity of the Indian history and sought to locate the basis of  the content and contours   of the Indian nation.

Dina Nath Nadim the poet of Kashmir and one of the founding fathers of left movement in Kashmir, born and brought in an Kashmiri Pandit family shared the processes of socialisation to which his generation was exposed. The liberalist English education had revolutionised the Kashmiri Pandit mind, leaving him alone  in a context which was dominated by the frigidity of a society which resisted change. The Kashmiri Pandits, isolated by their commitment to liberal reformism and also to the earlier moderate movement for the Indian freedom, romanticised their loneliness. Nadim actually, was the harbinger and the bard of the spiritual satisfaction the Kashmiri Pandit community found in its dreams of the nation of India and the Sanskrit content of its civilisation. This, incidentally formed the basis of the Indian national movement as well. Indian history was a universe of experience in which the Indian people had borne indescribable persecution. Nadim sang of the revolution, which was aimed to change the world in which he was born. He looked to the destruction of the historical forces, which sustained the British colonialism in India. He yearned for the demolition of the whole super-structure, which had caught him and his community in a strangle-hold. His poetry reflected a world of desire to breathe freedom, which his community had always been denied, and which he too was denied even after the British colonialism ended.

He talked to me for long hours at his home in Srinagar, where I went to meet him. I saw deep inside him, a sorrowful quest still unfulfilled of a world in which he would see himself rise into a Sphin. He did not rise. The sorrow of his helplessness expressed itself in poetic pathos, a deep sense of unfulfillment and impatience with the slowly moving process of history, which, he was, as a Marxist, trying to accelerate.

The imagery he used was very native to his race memory and basically reflected a deep link with the ethos of the Sanskrit civilisation of which Jammu and Kashmir was a part. His fundamental concept of good, was not a catagical imperative as the left movement in India held it to be. This concept of good was local, tinged by liberalist influences.

The Communist Party of India perhaps, due to the psychological reversion of its leaders, mainly men of the English-speaking intellectual class of India, were unable to overgrow their liberalist outlook. They simply did not visualise revolutionary movement in the context of the Indian modes of production and the super-structures of social gradations, institutions, values and instruments of authority which had grown over them. Their struggle against colonialism was not a natively organised war to end it. They attempted to Semitise Marxism and methodologically apply the conceptual framework of the conflict between Marxism and Semitic theology, to India. They tore the revolutionary movement in India from its civilisation moorings. Lenin had Semitised Marxism, for the national consciousness of Russia was dominantly Semitic. Mao Tse Tung Sinfied Marxism, perhaps, realising that any attempt at Semitising it in China, would isolate the Communist Party of China from the Chinese milieu.

The Indian Communist Party attempted to apply the conceptual Marxist framework of conflict between Semitic theological precept and revolutionary change to the Indian conditions. They were isolated. The Sanskrit theological precept did not conflict with change and even with revolutionary change. Marx had refused to recognise the history of India, for his oft quoted, "Asiatic mode of production", was based upon the assumption that during the incredibly long history of India the modes of production had remained unchanged.

The Indian communists also rejected the reality of Indian history. The Muslims in the Communist Party also insisted upon the rejection of the Indian civilisation as a reality. Their denial of the Indian history was inspired by different considerations. In the static economic order which the Communists in India underlined as the basis of the Indian history, they identified the Marxist categories of dialecties of history such as the classes, with castes in India and  caste-war with class-war. They identified the ethnic centricism, including Muslim separatism, with independent nationalities.

The self-determination for nationalities which the communist party of India adopted as the basis of the freedom of India, was a negation of both the unity of the working class as well as the unity of India. The Muslim intellectual class rejected the civilisational unity of India and the continuity of the Indian history out of commitment to the separate Muslim nation in India and its separate freedom. The Communist Party in the Punjab and in Bengal suffered dissolution in 1947, due to its commitment to the freedom of the nationalities in India.

Iftikar Ahmad, a senior communist party cadre of the Punjab, arrived in Kashmir after the partition to canvass for the support of the National Conference to the accession of the State to Pakistan. The left  flanks in the National Conference, then led by Niranjan Nath Saraf (Raina), a thoroughbred Marxist, rebuffed Iftikhar. When I asked Pran Nath Jalali about the resolution on the right of self-determination of the nationalities, the National Conference had adopted, he explained that the resolution for the self-determination of the nationalities was conceived within the broad framework of the Indian unity.

The Communist ranks in Kashmir, who formed an influential flank of the National Conference, did not reject the continuity of the Indian history, as the basis of the revolutionary struggle in India. The conflict between them and the Communist leadership in India, was far deeper than it appeared to be. Nadim’s political outlook and its expression in his poetry underlined a spiritual belonging to the history of the Indian civilisation. Vitasta he insisted symbolised the “five thousand years of history” and therefore, formed the vehicle of his famous Opera.

The Communist Party cadres in Kashmir began to disintegrate under the pressure of the Muslimisation of the State. N.N.  Saraf (Raina) ran away to England. The other senior  leaders wobbled in frustration. The outlook of the Communist Party of India, still under the shadows of Adhikari doctrine, which in effect sought to Semitise Marxism almost on the lines Lenin had done in Russia, identified the Muslimisation of the state with the class conflict in Kashmir. It reduced the communist cadres in Kashmiri to mercenaries performing the "historical role" of facilitating the Islamisation of the political culture of Kashmir.

During those fateful days in Kashmir, I was present in a meeting between Nadim and Late Moti Lal Misri. The two men talked in hyperboles of the abandonment of Marxist categories in the political process that had unfolded in the Kashmir. Misri was disconcerted and in agony, his head clean shaven, which gave him a stoic bearing. Misris were able people. Moti Lal's younger brother Mohan Lal Misri, was one of the few scholars in economics of growth in India and taught at the university of Kashmir. He too was a Marxist, more of a traditional stock. Moti Lal, had broken up under the dichotomy in the Indian Communist movement, its rootlessness, its commitment to Semitise Marxism and its attempt to relate Marxist catagories to the rise of the movement for the unity of the Muslim Umah. The unity of the Muslim Umah, was incidentally used by the Soviets as an instrument of cold war. Remorse was writ large on the face of Misri, Nadim wore the pathetic smile of the poet in him perhaps, expressive of greater sorrow, which gnawed at his conscience. While Misri was leaving, he looked back at Nadim as he reached the door way. Then suddenly Nadim told Misri "Moti Lal, read Bhagwat Geeta: it will give you a sense of detachment". Misri looked back, his sardonic smile frozen on his face. He said "alright" and left.

I did not ask Nadim any questions on what he had told Misri though he looked at me, with the expectation that I would. There was no need. I had suddenly realised that the Communist cadres in Kashmiri rejected the Semitisation of Marxism, the Indian Communist Party had attempted and met the disaster it did not expect. The Communist Party idealogues and men in Kashmir, mainly the Kashmiri Pandits did not forsake the civilisational basis of the revolutionary change in India nor did they reject the continuity of the Indian history.

Nadim's poetry in its major appeal transcends, the "incorrigible laws of history" and reach out to a new epoch, which unfolded with the rise of New Marxism or Euro-communism, during the last decades of the cold war. He visualised revolutionary change in continuity of the Indian history and though that brought him in conflict with Muslim establishment in Kashmir, he did not cut off from his historical moorings. His poetry gleans with pathos of the elemental tragedy of the history of Kashmir.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel




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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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