The Story Of Independent India From A Young Son Of Bharat


Indic Book Club is proud to host IBC chat on Zoom by DV Sridharan on 70 years of Independence on August 6. DV will be in conversation with Abhinav Agarwal. The conversation begins at 7 pm on

Years don’t make a man. The vision, memory, experience, spiritual seasoning — like of a raga, and the constant turning and tossing to the years lived, do. DV, born in 1942, has seasoned in independent India. He was five in 1947; five and wise enough to ask his elders how he should celebrate the day, August 15, 1947. Like many other children who were fortunate to see India churning into the light and shadow of independence, DV registered his first touch and feel of the Tricolour. “Go shout Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, he was told. Tricolour in hand, he shouted, “Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” running around in a burst of celebration, in his small victory lap, celebrating that day in August, 1947. Seventy years later, he looks back at the marathon. The marathon of life, which he has run across miles and milestone of the consciousness we know as “India”.

India celebrates 70 years of Independence next week. DV, young, younger than many people born after 1970 or 1980, or 1990, or 2000, in spirit and ideas, recalls the years between 1942 and 1948. He says, “Born in 1942, when WW2 raged, Gandhi was alive and India not yet free, I have vivid memories of those times. I recall the end of war declared, fallout of Partition, flag hoisting in August 1947, English neighbours leaving, attending Nehru’s public meetings. There was also Gandhi physically touching and blessing me.”

How did that happen? He says, “Gandhi’s visit to south India during early 1946 was a tumultuous one. People could sniff freedom in the air. It can’t be far off, they believed. He was mobbed everywhere and treated like a walking God. Crowds frequently stopped the train he was on and would not let it pass until he had given his darshan. When he finally arrived in Madurai and was to visit the Meenakshi Amman Temple, the police decided to close the temple for the duration except to a selected number of people.”

With great difficulty, his father had sneaked the family into the temple, but “Mother broke through to the frontline and held him up”. The moment arrived. Gandhi, with his toothless smile, walked over and blessed him. “Many events happened in quick succession to make that day an unforgettable one for me. Mother died within six weeks. India became free the next year. And, Gandhi was shot in the following,” he adds.

DV’s recollections are precious. They blend the black and white into sepia. The sepia of memories cradled over decades.
In his chat, DV will share recollections of a small town, Tamil-medium, Brahmin boy from a family of very modest means on his journey to cultural alienation, “Anglophilia, impatience with all things Indian, his contempt for RSS of the 1970s.”

What more would he talk about? “How I began to grope my way back to my cultural moorings, the role that humble, Indians played with their faith and hard-work. I stand today bereft of any significant reading in our itihas. And quite lost. But surprisingly, stories heard from elders, during my childhood, and watching villagers in devotion has helped me retrieve some ground. My travels for GoodNewsIndia gave me access to many such lives. The young people the Indic Book Club move and excite me no end,” he adds.

DV is younger than many here. Where does he like to pause? “There is an image of the Swayambhunath temple, Kathmandu. I return to it often, to reinforce my conviction that this land and its civilisation will out-stare and out-last pretenders who claim to know better than it does about how this universe works,” he adds.

DV is currently reading the Mahabharata. The “political Hindu”, as he offers to describe himself, believes in the Panchabhuta, their presence in our lives, their smell, touch, feel, grain, colour and essence. Remember to ask DV why he performs the Ayudha pooja to the windmill. When DV reveals about the windmill and other projects, you’d realise he has become younger in this beautiful circle of life, discovering himself as a Hindu and evolving as an Indian amidst a fountain of identities, languages and cultural churning.
Join DV in his celebration of India and life.