City and Book X, Florence and India
Conference Organizers. Arjun Shivaji Jain, Companion
of the Guild of St George of John Ruskin in Delhi and
Conference Organizers. Arjun Shivaji Jain, Companion
of the Guild of St George of John Ruskin in Delhi and
Julia Bolton Holloway, Companion of the Guild of St
George of John Ruskin in Florence
Julia Bolton Holloway, Companion of the Guild of St
George of John Ruskin in Florence
Register and Send Abstracts: Julia
(juliananchoress(at)gmail.com) and Arjun Shivaji
Jain ( arjunjain16(at)gmail.com)
Please send title, abstract (limit 300 words), brief biography, and whether paper is to be given in person or by Zoom, whether in Florence or Delhi, by 16 March
have 20 minute paper ready in Word by 3 April for translating and sharing online for the other participants, etc.
To Register and Send Abstracts: Julia Bolton Holloway (juliananchoress(at)gmail.com) and Arjun Shivaji Jain (
14 April 2023 Visits in Florence, Italy, to the Museo Stibbert and to the English Cemetery
15 April 2023 Conference held hybrid in the
Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, via Orsanmichele, 4,
15 April 2023 Conference held hybrid in the
Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, via Orsanmichele, 4,
with tiffin lunch at the Indian Prince's monument in
the Cascine Park,
dinner at the Crown of India restaurant, Florence
with tiffin lunch at the Indian Prince's monument in
the Cascine Park,
23 April 2023 Conference held hybrid at the Red House, Delhi, India
Suggested Paper Topics:
The Florence, Cascine Park, Monument for the Indian
Prince, Rajah Chuttraputti of Kolhapur
Isa Blagden of Bellosguardo and Robert Lytton, first Viceroy of India - Elena Gianarelli
Joseph Garrow, first translator into English of Dante’s Vita
nova -Nicholas Havely
His daughter, Theodosia Garrow Trollope
Sir James Annesley’s study of tropical diseases
Walter Savage Landor and Rose Aylmer
Rogers, Ruskin, Tolstoy, Proust, Gandhi - Sriram Rajasekaran
Oscar Wilde, Florence and India - Rita Severi
The Stibbert Family in India and in Florence
The Pre-Raphaelites and Florence (William Morris, Holman Hunt, Spencer Stanhope) - Nic Peeters
John Ruskin, Mornings in Florence
Frederick Lord Leighton and Edward Said’s Orientalism
Tolstoy and Gandhi, Don Milani and Giorgio La Pira
Santha Rama Rau, Home to India
Vandana Shiva and Ecology
The Diaspora of Indian Craftsmanship by the Roma - Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu
Queen Victoria and India - Domenico Savini
The Crystal Palace of 1851 and India
Mornings in Delhi - Arjun Shivaji Jaina
Conference to be held Saturday, 15 April 2023, in Florence, 23
April 2023, in Delhi, and will be hybrid, in person and on Zoom.
Its papers will be published in English and in Italian on this
It is organized by the Aureo Anello Associazione in Florence and
the Red House in Delhi. See also https://www.florin.ms/India.html,
on burials connected with India in Florence's 'English'
Cemetery, the Indian Prince's Diary, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t8w956f1v&view=1up&seq=15;
See also https://www.florin.ms/India.html, on burials connected with India in Florence's 'English' Cemetery, the Indian Prince's Diary, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc2.ark:/13960/t8w956f1v&view=1up&seq=15; and https://www.florin.ms/UnquietGraves,htmland https://www.toscanalibri.it/it/scritti/rajaram-chuttraputti-di-kolhapur-il-maragia-di-firenze_3120.html on the Indian Prince's monument in Florence's Cascine.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) is
the author of poems, a tragedy, letters and various writings
that are set, describe, or expound some of his ideas on
Florence and its greatest poet, Dante Alighieri. He first
visited Florence in 1875, when still a student
at Oxford, where he had attended Ruskin’s lectures. He returned to the city in 1894, when he visited Violet Paget/Vernon Lee and her step-brother Eugene Lee Hamilton. He saw much of Bernard Berenson, a little less of André Gide, toured Villa Stibbert
and left his signature in the guest book. Throughout his life he was attracted to the subcontinent of India, to its spirituality and religion. As the editor of “The Woman’s World” (1887-1890) he chose to review books about Indian society and its women, and he solicited articles about India, written by English authors who had visited and studied that intriguing world. He was extremely keen in learning about its sacred poetry and its ancient rituals. In his home, in Tite Street, Chelsea, he surrounded himself with small Indian decorative objects, and had most of the floors in the house covered with Indian matting. In his tragedy, Salomé, in the metaphorical “dance of the seven veils”, Wilde surprisingly evokes one of the most complex and artistic Indian myths.
The Magic Spell of a Book - Sriram Rajasekaran
In 1832, John Ruskin is
gifted a book for his birthday. Ruskin later writes that the
gift decided “the entire direction of my life’s energies.” The
book is an illustrated edition of Rogers’ poems on Italy,
majority of the illustrations are done by Turner, including
the one accompanying Rogers’ poem on Florence, which begins
Of all the fairest Cities of the Earth
None is so fair as Florence. ‘Tis is a gem
Of purest ray; and what a light broke forth,
When it emerged from the darkness!
Ruskin writes, “This book was the first means I had of looking carefully at Turner’s work”, it was responsible for his “Turner insanities”, and that the book “determined the main tenor of my life.”
In 1899, Marcel Proust
writes a letter to his mother, asking her to send him,
urgently, Robert de La Sizeranne’s Ruskin et la religion
de la beauté. Proust was staying at the time in the spa
town of Evian-les-Bains on the south side of Lake Geneva. He
wanted the book so that he could “see the mountains through
the eyes of that great man (Ruskin).” Later, Proust went to
the Bibliotheque nationale and started looking up works by
Ruskin. He shelved his novel Jean Santeuil, which remained
unfinished and unpublished in his lifetime, and began working
on translation and commentary of Ruskin’s works. I would argue
that Proust’s seminal work In Search of Lost Time has many
elements that are directly or indirectly influenced by his
reading of Ruskin.
In 1904, Mohandas Gandhi is seated on a train in South Africa. A friend hands him a book to read on the journey. Gandhi later writes “I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of the book.” The book was Unto This Last by Ruskin. Gandhi called him “great Ruskin.” “It (the book) gripped me, brought about an instantaneous and practical transformation in my life.” Gandhi named Srimad Rajchandra, Tolstoy, and Ruskin as the three moderns who left a deep impression on his life and “captivated” him.
In all three instances, it was a book that transfixed and transformed the lives of these great men. In this talk I would like to speak on my experience of discovering Ruskin, and thereby Gandhi and Tolstoy, through Proust, or more specifically, through Proust’s book, In Search of Lost Time.
Lytton Strachey's Queen Victoria - Gabriella Del Lungo Camiciotti
In 1877, Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Prime Minister, had Queen Victoria proclaimed as Empress of India. India was already under crown control after 1858, but this title was a gesture to link the monarchy with the empire further and bind colonial India more closely to its metropolitan centre, London. Celebrations were held in Delhi on 1 January 1877, led by the Viceroy, Lord Lytton. An important source to show light on how the event was received and the significance of imperialist policies in late nineteenth century is represented by Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria (London: Chatto & Windus, 1921). The paper will analyse the concept of empire expressed in this very influential work and how Queen Victoria was perceived as the imperial emblem.
Masculinisation of the ‘Motherland’: Analyzing Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and the World through an Eco-Feminist Lens - Pritha Chakraborty
This paper aims to examine Rabindranath Tagore's 1916 novel The Home and the World through an ecofeminist lens. Drawing on the concept of Vandana Shiva's work Ecofeminism, the paper seeks to highlight how the nationalistic fervour in the wake of India's freedom struggle excluded women's participation, making the concept of ‘Motherland as a Nation’ a completely patriarchal endeavour. Although the land was worshipped as a Mother Goddess, the violations of the nation in the name of religious bigotry, communalism, fanaticism, and violence led to a similar violation of women, whose step outside the ‘zenana’ was considered to be harmful for the nation. Focusing on Vandana Shiva’s idea of ‘Masculinisation of the Motherland’, the paper shows how women and the nation suffered systematic exclusion at the hands of patriarchal leaders. It had become a paradoxical process of the masculinization of the motherland, precisely leading to the creation of internal boundaries and the fragmentation of a nation based on communal disharmony. The paper also discusses how the politics of exclusion built on the guise of nationalism affected the novel's protagonist, who became entangled in the phoney nationalistic endeavours and moulded herself into a patriarchal consciousness. She was expected to retain the ‘Bhadramahila’ concept of the early nineteenth century and abide by the so-called weapons of the male nationalist to be able to be a part of the liberation of the country. The country as a motherland is replaced by a masculinized nation-state in which the linkage of goddess figures is solely based on modern patriarchal ideals. The paper emphasises that ‘Mother India’, also known as ‘Bharat Mata’ in a fundamentalist discourse, was not a source of ‘Shakti’, but rather a battlefield of communal riots that resulted in the destruction of both the nation and women who were trapped in a patriarchal system.
Il leone nella poesia politica e civile trecentesca minore di area toscana, similitudini con il contesto indiano/ The Lion in the 14th- Century minor political and civil poetry in the Tuscan area. Some similarities between the Indian context.- Marialaura Pancini
Il leone fin dall’antichità ha esercitato un certo fascino nell’immaginario umano divenendo oggetto di una serie innumerevole di similitudini, metafore e immagini simboliche che attraversano le culture, le aree geografiche e le epoche. Se si osserva il panorama della poesia politica e civile trecentesca minore di area toscana si può vedere che il leone come simbolo e metafora è molto presente nel repertorio tematico dei rimatori toscani, in particolare fiorentini. Spesso si utilizza il leone Marzocco fiorentino, che diviene un emblema della città già dal XII secolo, per riferirsi alla città di Firenze. Si veda il caso del sonetto Il lion di Firenze è migliorato, dove il leone rappresenta la stessa città toscana, che dopo un periodo di decadenza si trova in un momento più fortuito rispetto al passato. Se si osserva il contesto indiano, il capitello di Sarnath, emblema della Repubblica Indiana, rappresenta sull’abaco quattro leoni addossati, la maestosità di questi leoni ricorda da vicino il Marzocco fiorentino. Per quanto riguarda il leone genericamente come animale, se si osserva ad esempio il testo di Folgore da San Gimignano Guelfi, per fare scudo de le reni tale animale viene usato come metafora di superiorità bellica. L’immagine del leone come simbolo di forza si ritrova nell’Iliade, ma anche in contesti geografici diversi come in India dove è accostato alle divinità. Lo scopo di questa presentazione è quello, in primo luogo, grazie all’utilizzo di testi concreti afferenti al genere della poesia politica e civile trecentesca minore di area toscana, di delineare quella che è la considerazione che si ha del leone e la simbologia che è legata a questo animale in questo contesto storico e geografico. In secondo luogo, si evidenzieranno quelle che sono le similitudini tra l’immagine del leone nel contesto toscano medievale e la simbologia che il contesto indiano attribuisce al leone.
Since ancient times the lion exerted a certain fascination in the human imagination, this animal is the protagonist of uncountable similitudes, metaphors, and symbolic images that cross cultures, geographical areas, and time eras. Looking at the genre of the 14th- Century minor political and civil poetry in the Tuscan area, the lion, cited as a symbol or as a metaphor, is very present in the thematic repertoire of Tuscan poets, in particular the Florentines. The Florentine Marzocco, which became an emblem of the city as early as the XII Century, is often used to refer to the city of Florence. I can quote the example of Il lione di Firenze è migliorato, where the lion represents the Tuscan city itself, which after a period of decline is now in a better moment than before. Looking at the Indian context, the capital of Sarnath, the emblem of the Indian Republic, represents four lions on the abacus leaning against each other, the majesty of these lions remembers the Florentine Marzocco. Regarding the lion as a generic animal, I can quote the example of Guelfi, per fare scudo de le reni by Folgore da San Gimignano, here this animal is used as a metaphor for Bellic superiority. We can find the image of the lion as a symbol of strength in the Iliad, this is also common in different geographical areas such as in India where the lion is associated with deities. The aim of this presentation is firstly - through the use of concrete texts within the genre of minor 14th-Century political and civil poetry from the Tuscan area- to outline the consideration of the lion and the symbolism that is linked to this animal in this historical and geographical context. Secondly, I am going to focus on the similarities between the image of the lion in the medieval Tuscan context and the symbolism that the Indian context attributes to the lion.
Alcune riflessioni sulla parola polis, civitas, città/Some reflections on the word polis, civitas, city - Francesca Ditifeci
Come diceva Aristotele l’essere umano è zoon politikon echon ton logon, animale politico dotato di parola, corpo abitato dalla parola. Ed è proprio nella sua identità di parlessere che diviene cittadino, abitante della polis. Quindi gli uomini sono esseri capaci di politica, perché sono esseri capaci di linguaggio. In questa prospettiva diviene chiaro che “in una città un posto ci deve essere per tutti: un posto per pregare (la chiesa), un posto per amare (la casa), un posto per lavorare (l’officina), un posto per pensare (la scuola), un posto per guarire (l’ospedale). In questo quadro cittadino, perciò, i problemi politici ed economici, sociali e tecnici, culturali e religiosi della nostra epoca prendono una impostazione elementare ed umana! Appaiono quali sono: cioè problemi che non possono più essere lasciati insoluti” (La Pira 1954).
E’ nella città che l’essere umano cerca la sua realizzazione perché “per ciascuna di esse è valida la definizione luminosa di Péguy: essere la città dell’uomo abbozzo e prefigurazione della città di Dio. Città arroccate attorno al tempio; irradiate dalla luce celeste che da esso deriva: città nelle quali la bellezza ha preso dimora, s’è trascritta nelle pietre: città collocate sulla montagna dei secoli e delle generazioni: destinate ancora oggi e domani a portare alla civiltà meccanica del nostro tempo e del tempo futuro una integrazione sempre più profonda ed essenziale di qualità e di valore! Ognuna di queste città non è un museo ove si accolgono le reliquie, anche preziose, del passato: è una luce ed una bellezza destinata ad illuminare le strutture essenziali della storia e della civiltà dell’avvenire.” (La Pira 1955).
As Aristotle said, the human being is zoon
politikon echon ton logon, a political animal endowed
with speech, a body inhabited by speech. And it is precisely
in his identity as a parlessere that he becomes a citizen, an
inhabitant of the polis. Thus men are beings capable of
politics because they are beings capable of language. In this
perspective, it becomes clear that "in a city there must be a
place for everyone: a place to pray (the church), a place to
love (the home), a place to work (the workshop), a place to
think (the school), a place to heal (the hospital). In this
city framework, therefore, the political and economic, social
and technical, cultural and religious problems of our age take
on an elementary and human approach! They appear as they are:
that is, problems that can no longer be left unsolved” (La Pira 1954).
It is in the city that the human being seeks his fulfilment because "for each of them Péguy's luminous definition is valid: to be the city of man, a sketch and prefiguration of the city of God. Cities perched around the temple; irradiated by the celestial light that derives from it: cities in which beauty has taken up residence, has transcribed itself in the stones: cities placed on the mountain of centuries and generations: destined still today and tomorrow to bring to the mechanical civilisation of our time and of future times an ever deeper and more essential integration of quality and value! Each of these cities is not a museum where relics, even precious ones, of the past are housed: it is a light and a beauty destined to illuminate the essential structures of the history and civilisation of the future” (La Pira 1955).
– Historic Burial Grounds both as exemplar and at risk - Dr
Peter Burman MBE FSA, architectural historian and conservator
Peter Burman began to be interested in historic burial grounds as a schoolboy exploring churches and churchyards in his native county of Warwickshire. This led him to study History of Art at the University of Cambridge. His first role was as Assistant, Deputy then Director of the Council for the Care of Churches and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England. In this role, which lasted for twenty-two years, he and his colleagues were constantly giving advice and grants for the conservation and repair of sculpturally important monuments both within churches and outside churches in the historic burial grounds which typically surround them. He began to work not only with conservators to conserve them but also with craftspeople to ensure that new monuments were beautiful and meaningful.
Later, as Director of Conservation & Property Services of the National Trust for Scotland, he found himself living within the City of Edinburgh World Heritage Site and this encouraged him to take an interest in the five historic burial grounds which are situated there. They are places of memory, but also social places, visited by many who are interested in their heritage and human values. He is fascinated by their artistic and historic interest but also by the role they can play in the contemporary community of a city. In Edinburgh (as in all other cities where historic burial grounds exist) there many aspects which have to be managed: keeping the frequently ambitious architecture of mausolea in good repair through regular maintenance (in Edinburgh they include temple-like mausolea designed by 18th century members of the famous Adam family of architects); walls, often extensive and impressive in character; conservation of sculpture, using materials compatible with the original; drainage; archaeology; wildlife; flowers and greensward. Ideally these historic burial grounds need to be quiet and dignified, and yet at the same time welcoming and safe. Architecture and artistic sculpture, allied with beautiful and characterful lettering, have their part to play, but there is also often a personal response to these landscapes of melancholy beauty.
The challenges of caring for these special landscapes of memory are many and varied but the Edinburgh burial grounds are probably typical of many urban situations: shortage of funds; lack of clarity about the ownership of monuments; neglect (leading to standard conservation problems of soiled stonework; open joints; poor repairs, using cement instead of lime-based mortars; vegetation); vandalism, even theft; legibility of inscriptions; anti-social behaviour; greed of developers on adjacent sites; and so on.
Peter Burman will speak from many years of rich experience of conserving architectural and artistic heritage, and of being joint author with Henry Stapleton of the Churchyards Handbook, which has been through many editions over the years. In his ‘churches role’ he frequently collaborated with experts on tress, mosses and lichen; lettering and sculpture; in the organisation of Churchyard Study Days to introduce local people to the beauties, interests and specialness of their historic burial ground.
Il Parco delle Cascine e il monumento al Principe Indiano, Rajah Chuttraputti di Kolhapur - Arch. Amina Anelli, Comune di Firenze
Una passeggiata nelle “Cascine dell’Isola”, tra storia e restauro, alla scoperta degli arredi monumentali fino a raggiungere uno dei luoghi più misteriosi e suggestivi del parco, il monumento al Principe Indiano.
Del Principe, conosciuto da tutti i Fiorentini tanto da essere quasi un “amico” (“ci si vede all’Indiano”, “sono arrivato all’Indiano”, “ci siamo trovati all’Indiano”...) pochi conoscono la storia.
Il monumento, eretto per commemorare il giovane principe indiano Rajaram Chuttraputti di Kolhapur (1849-1870), fu progettato dal Capitano Charles Mant, ingegnere britannico mentre il busto fu eseguito dallo scultore inglese Charles Francis Fuller.
Nell’intervento si parlerà della storia e del restauro del monumento eseguito nel 2020.
his Tuscan Sybil, Francesca Alexander - Emma
In October 1882, on his last visit to Tuscany, Ruskin was introduced in Florence to Francesca Alexander, an American expatriate, daughter of a couple of Boston artists. With a passion for Tuscany and for its people, Francesca gathered folk songs orally transmitted among the contadini, and composed a beautiful manuscript with the poems she transcribed and translated into English, decorated with drawings of wild flowers, portraits of the people and scenes illustrating the songs. This work had philanthropic purposes as Francesca’s aim was not to publish it as such but to sell the sole manuscript for the financial benefit of the poor Italian peasantry that had provided them. When he saw the 108-page manuscript Ruskin immediately offered to buy it and acquire the copyright to publish the work as its editor with the aim of conveying to the English mind “some sympathetic conception of the reality of the sweet soul of Catholic Italy”. In my paper I shall outline the fascinating history of Ruskin’s editing of Francesca Alexander’s Roadside Songs of Tuscany, and his endeavour to compose a spiritual memorial of the Abetone peasants and the mysticism of their everyday life.
Savini, Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrrescu, Sir Nicholas Mander will
also be presenting papers.
ahatma Gandhi brought a new dimension into our lives. When he spoke of nonviolence, he meant not merely the avoidance of violent action but cleansing our hearts of hatred and bittereness. He unveiled the spiritual political power of illiterate and humble have-nots and pointed out that the only programmes worth preaching were those which could be translated into action. He said that every decision and programme should be judged from the viewpoint of the poorest and the weakest.Indira Gandhi
The reader might well rebel at this paper's title. Gandhi is seen as a 'male chauvinist'. However, there are aspects to Gandhi's life and thought that can be related to feminism. This paper discusses three aspects of Gandhi - Gandhi and Patriarchy, Gandhi and Women, Gandhi and the Bomb, all of which are related to each other. It will not be academic but instead, to a large extent, in Gandhi's own manner, an experiment with truth.
Gandhi and Patriarchy
y best avenue to this
topic is to discuss the relationship of a father, a daughter
and Gandhi. My father was an Englishman in India and a friend
of Gandhi. My father and Gandhi were both journalists, so once
they both wrote up interviews of each other, my father's
serious one on Gandhi in The Times of India, Gandhi's
joking one in Young India about blue-eyed, fair-haired
Glorney Bolton. My father was with Gandhi on the Salt March to
Dandi in March 1930. There was a British Broadcasting Corporation recording of many voices, 'Talking of Gandhiji', my
father's voice being one of these, now lost. Though the book
made from it exists. This is what my father said on that
broadcast of the event where Gandhi illegally and very simply
gathered salt from the sea:
And there was Gandhi, walking along, with his friends round him, it was a sort of terrific anticlimax. There was no cheering, no great shouts of delight, and no sort of stately procession at all, it was all . . . in a sense rather farcical. However this great march had begun . . . here he was, quite happy, with people round him, on the whole very quiet, but now and again you heard Gandhi . . . break out with that wonderful boyish laughter of his. He didn't know how the march was going to end, but nonetheless, there I was, seeing history happen in a strange sort of . . . way; something completely un-European and yet very, very moving.That act was to end Britain's dominion of India. Such a simple act - yet far more powerful than any act of violent terrorism, than any use of any bomb. But it needs an explanation. Britain imposed a monopoly upon salt in India. She did so because Rome had likewise imposed such a monopoly upon all the lands that lay under the yoke of her vast Empire. From it comes the word 'salary' that we use today. Salt was made into a currency, the state controlling a substance essential to life. However, such a monopoly was not the practice in Britain. Its imposition upon India was an unjust, patriarchal, imperial act and Gandhi, who had studied law in England, knew this. Our American version of this simple gathering of salt from the sea was Rosa Parks, because of her tired feet, refusing her seat to a white man on an Alabama bus - an act which changed us from a racist nation to one with a dream of equality partly realized, though we have further to go.
I grew up with the knowledge of Gandhi all about me as a girl in England, knowing my father was his friend and had written his biography, The Tragedy of Gandhi, published in 1934 when it seemed that Gandhi had failed. I remember listening with great intensity to the Declaration of India's Independence by Earl Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru on the radio when I was ten years old. But now, when I read my father's biography of Gandhi, two things make me rebel against that Englishman's perspective. My father wrote that he despised Gandhi's 'feminine masochism' (partly alluding to his use of 'anorexia') and he also criticized Gandhi's espousal of poverty. My father was a widow's son, had known comparative poverty, and had struggled against it to acquire an education at Oxford, failing to obtain his degree. He desperately wanted to succeed in journalism and politics. However, Gandhi really did succeed - but by insisting on getting rid of status and rank and caste - knowing that there was only so much to go round and that it must be shared, that one man's wealth causes another's poverty. Willy Brandt in the report North/South, likewise voices this in connection with war.
While hunger rules, peace cannot prevail. He who wants to ban war must also ban poverty. It makes no difference whether a human being is killed in war or starves to death because of the indifference of others.My father was then ambitious for wealth and fame and therefore Gandhi's ideas clashed with his own. But many years later he was to write a biography of Pope John XXIII, Living Peter, a biography which praises rather than blames a similar man. Gandhi, it can be seen, successfully educated his adversaries.
A colonial power must lie to itself. Gandhi stripped those lies away, using justice to unveil injustice, using law to demonstrate the lawlessness of British dominion. And to do so he turned to women.
Gandhi and Women
Margaret Bourke-White who photographed this immediately before Gandhi was assassinated
India had once been a great textile-producing nation. Our America calico cloth's name means that it once was produced at Calicut, in Madras, in India, and then exported to England and her colonies. But the English in the nineteenth century, to protect their own textile industries, forbade India to continue hers. Indians who had once exported textiles now had to import them from Lancashire. Gandhi saw one way of breaking British dominion over India as becoming self-sufficient in textile production. So he turned to village and cottage crafts, his womenfolk and he himself spinning and weaving khaddar cloth, homespun cloth. Santha Rama Rau, in her autobiography, Home to India, discussed the boycott and women's central participation in it. It is difficult for western, male culture to realize the full political importance of cloth. We are more involved with text than with textile. Yet to look at classical literature is to find that weaving by women was as important as tale-telling, history writing, by men, the two becoming interwoven in each other. In Guatemala today, the women express the tale of their oppression through embroidered pictures, which cannot be censored in the same way as can the written word.
It seems that every liberation movement needs the
feminine as well as the masculine, the women far more clearly
symbolizing the transition from bondage to freedom than does
the man. Gandhi wilfully took on that woman's role, using that
symbolism. His revolution against the mother country was not
with male weapons of destruction but with female tools of
production. His male sword was a female spinning wheel, the charka,
the wheel of life, the emblem today upon the flag of India -
and upon that of the Rom.
I find the spinning wheel admirable, not despicable. Here I and my father would part ways.
Gandhi and the Bomb
argaret Bourke-White, the
American Time/Life photographer who was with Gandhi
just before he was shot, disagreed with his feminine
principles. Paradoxically she wanted masculine solutions. As
did my father, she saw the answer to India's poverty in
westernization, industrialization, and high technology. Gandhi
countered her by quietly spinning cloth as she photographed
him. In her autobiography, Portrait of Myself, she
reported Gandhi's final conversation. It was about the nuclear
As we sat there in the thin winter sunlight, he spinning and I jotting down his words, neither of us could know that this was to be perhaps his very last message to the world . . . Gandhi began to probe at the dreadful problem which has overwhelmed us all. I asked Gandhi how he would meet the atom bomb. Would he meet it with nonviolence? 'Ah', he said. 'How should I answer that? I would meet it by prayerful action.' I asked what form that action would take. 'I will not go underground. I will not go into shelters. I will go out and face the pilot so he will see I have not the face of evil against him.' He turned back to his spinning . . . I rose to leave, and folded my hands together in the gesture of farewell which Hindus use. But Gandhiji held out his hand to me and shook hands cordially in Western fashion.That gesture, incidentally, shows that one does not hold a sword. Gandhi then went to prayer and was shot. The man had given the woman's response, to spin, to provide clothing for future generations. The woman has been led to the ultimate technological development, the masculine weapon that could annihilate the future.
I do not know why this conversation was left out of the film, Gandhi, except to say that three years ago it was still not fashionable to fear the bomb. It was taboo, something deeply repressed. Today we are openly, consciously examining that issue. Gandhi can help us toward a solution. He would have us disarm. He would feminize the world. There are more tons of explosive power per child, woman and man in the world than there is food. Gandhi would say that preparation for war in order to prevent war is folly. Einstein did say that. It is time for a revolution for peace. Gandhi taught us how to have a revolution with tools that build a future, rather than with weapons that annihilate the past, the present and the future. To learn how to use these tools, Gandhi himself was willing to be taught by women. Weapons exist to enforce the power of one nation, race, sex, creed or caste over another's. Theirs is only a negative, destructive power. But in a world where the primary concerns are shelter, food, and clothing for all, regardless of these superficial distinctions, weapons become unnecessary. Gandhi, in turning to the untouchables and the women, turned Hinduism upside-down and he turned the world the right way round.
Originally given as a paper, then published, in
1984, was awarded the 'Art of Peace' prize. The BBC broadcast
is now lost, but the book published from it survives.
Gandhi's possessions at his death, his glasses, his sandals, etc.
Prega, rifletti e poi fai:
questa regola (di Gandhi) ottenne l'independenza
Pray, reflect, and then act:
This rule (from Gandhi) won India's indepedence
Gandhi's sandals he
Why I make my own
Reflections from India on Rome
and Florence, republished with permission from the
Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune, Chandigarh
THE SAD STORY OF UNQUIET GRAVES
ANI PALKHIVALA is one of the country’s foremost lawyers. But he is also an astute and clear-headed economist who has the ability to demystify the complexities of high finance. That is why his annual dissection of the country’s latest budget is so fully attended, so widely discussed.
I remember how he made a point which touched the truth of the theme of his lecture that we had become the world’s Highest Taxed Nation. This was during the sixties, when, Nehru’s Big Brother shadow fell over everything. Palkhivala had us sitting up and listening intently when he said something like this:
"If what I have been saying has made you realise that, for most of us who earn a good living, declare our incomes, pay our taxes, ours is a pretty difficult country to live in. Now let me tell you this: It is an even more difficult country to die in."
And then Palkhivala went on to show, giving precise figures, how if a very rich man were to die leaving Rs 1 crore to his heirs, his heirs would not only have to sell all his assets, but borrow money to satisfy the tax man’s claims for death duties.
A crore in the sixties was wealth beyond the dreams of avarice: worth about Rs 20 crore today. But the country’s finance ministers had devised methods to make sure that no one could be rich enough to leave behind enough money to pay the fine for the crime of having lived and earned money. Anyhow, this is not an article on financial wisdom, but about something else Mr Palkhivala told us that day, that the dead often create a lot of problems for other people.
When a famous man dies, there are always people who want to claim him as their own. In ancient Greece, when the poet Homer died, several small towns in Greece claimed to have been his birthplace and caused riots and killings. In the same manner, in recent memory, when the Burmese statesman, U Thant, who had been the Secretary General of the United Nations in the 1960s died, and his body was flown back to Burma, there were bloody riots in Rangoon among U Thant’s admirers over the right place for his grave.
At that, U. Thant obviously belonged to a religion which believes in burying its dead and Burma — like ourselves is a secular land which permits both cremation or burial to say nothing of disposal by other methods such as the one favoured by the Parsis, of being fed to vultures. Because there are countries which hold that their soil would be rendered impure by the interment of a dead body of a person who belonged to a religion different from their own.
The classic example was Saudi Arabia. Up until the 1970s, the Arabian American Oil Company, Aramco, held the virtual monopoly for extracting and selling the country’s petroleum products. Aramco always had around 1300 American citizens working in Saudi Arabia. These Americans lived as a pampered community. They were given padded salaries, extra leave and everything that an American citizen was used to: Coca-cola, hamburgers, corn flakes. They had social centres, dance halls, libraries, even facilities for prayers except that their churches did not bear crosses and their priests, no priestly robes. They even had a little cemetery in which bodies placed in coffins could not be buried. Instead, they had to be encased in concrete blocks, as though they were some kind of a nuclear waste, leakproof. It was these rectangular concrete blocks that formed the graves in the Aramco cemetery.
One wonders if there are similar prohibitions in other Islamic lands, too. What happens, say, to the victims of a car crash in Peshawar or Kandahar, in which a Hindu or Christian dies, and the body is so severely mangled as to make body-bag repatriation impractical? Would a cremation be allowed? — a burial? And even if it can be done, just think of the procedural runround that those responsible for the body would be put through?
But it is not only Islamic countries that look upon the dead of other faiths as soil-pollutants. Until quite recently, things were just as difficult in parts of Europe. Why, in Italy in the 19th century Roman Catholics, too, were strict about not permitting cremations on their soil or even the burial of Protestant Christians.
In 1822, the British poet, Shelley, was drowned in the sea near Leghorn in Italy, after the small boat in which he was travelling capsized in a storm. Shelley’s companion, a sailor named Edward Trelawny, rescued the poet’s body and dragged it to the beach. Trelawny scrounged around for flotsam and cremated Shelley’s body, seemingly without realising that he was violating a papal taboo. Then Trelawny collected the poet’s ashes and took them to Rome, where he delivered them to the British Consul, Joseph Severn.
As it happened, Joseph Severn — the same man who had looked after the poet John Keats in his last illness — had known Shelly, too, quite well. Only a few weeks earlier Severn had had to send a soothing letter to his own family in England, making it plain that, just because he was friendly with men such as Shelly and Byron who had so scandalized Britain’s society by their poetry as well as by their decadent behaviour, it did not mean that he, Severn, had actually become a member of their fast set. Now Severn found himself responsible for burying Shelley’s ashes.
From England, Shelley’s widow, Mary, wrote to say what she wanted done. Mary was Shelley’s second wife. The first one had committed suicide, after bearing Shelley a son who had died in infancy, and been buried in the Protestant cemetery in Rome. Now Mary Shelley wanted her husband’s ashes buried alongside his son’s grave.
This, Severn discovered, was not possible. A year or so earlier, the Papal Government had closed down that cemetery because of overcrowding, and opened up a new area for a Protestant graveyard. That was where Shelley’s ashes were buried.
Then Severn, intent on carrying out Mary Shelley’s behest faithfully, decided to exhume Shelley’s son’s grave, remove the body and bury it in a grave alongside that of Shelley. When he had the child’s grave opened, however, he discovered to his horror that it contained the skeleton of a fully grown man. It seemed that the pressure on space in the old cemetery had become so acute that its keepers had taken to recycling grave-sites — digging up old graves and throwing away the bodies so as to make room for new graves.
Well, if 19th century Italy looked upon Protestant-Christian graves as a desecration of their soil, imagine the horror with which it must have reacted to a request for a ritualistic Hindu cremation!
It happened in 1870, in Florence, where an Indian Maharaja had died. He was Rajaram, of Kolhapur; barely 20, brought up by carefully chosen British tutors. The Raj’s keepers, keen to give Rajaram’s upbringing its finishing touches, were giving him a guided tour of Europe. Before they had set out, Kolhapur’s own priests had made known their apprehensions about this brazen defiance of a Hindu taboo against the crossing of ‘The Black water’. But Rajaram himself, a willing pupil of his English tutors had paid no heed. So far, the tour had been a raging success. Rajaram had had his audience with Queen Victoria, gone fox-hunting in England, shot grouse in Scotland, seen a military tattoo, attended horse-races, sat through an opera and even polished his ballroom dancing. Florence came at the tail end of the grand tour. There on November 30, he died.
The city authorities were horrified at being asked to permit a cremation. They passed the request to the Council of Ministers in Rome. Luckily for Rajaram’s harried attendants, the British Consul in Florence, Sir Augustus Paget, came to their rescue. He must have had to do some heroic wire-pulling and arm-twisting among the Pope’s advisors. But that very night, the Council of Ministers gave their OK. The next morning, the body of Maharaja Rajaram was cremated on the banks of the Arno.
Surely, the very first Hindu cremation on Italian soil!
ON FLORENCE © JULIA
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