Saturday, 21 May 2011

M.N Roy vs. Tan Yun Shan

M.N Roy was a Bengali revolutionary sent to America by Bagha Jatin to procure arms and recruits for the overthrow of the British. While in America, Roy became a founder member of the Mexican Communist party. Later, welcomed by Lenin to the U.S.S.R, Roy achieved international fame as the the Comintern agent tasked with fomenting an agrarian revolution in China- a thankless job which earned him the well merited ire of the Chinese Communists and exposed Roy to the danger of being purged in a show trial back in Moscow.  Jail in British India being preferable to Stalin's Gulags, Roy abandoned doctrinaire Communism for a progressive humanism of the sort that appealed to Nehru, Bose, J.P and so on.. He died in 1954 already disillusioned with politics but still believing that it could be reconstituted as a sphere where men of the stamp of Tiger Jatin might yet flourish.

Tan Yun Shan, eleven years younger than Roy, was a Chinese scholar who came to India under the spell of Rabindranath Tagore and became one of the ornaments of Shantiniketan. His uniqueness was that he enjoyed good personal relations with Gandhi, Nehru, Indira as well as Mao and Chou En Lai. A man of extraordinary spirituality, he was close to the Dalai Lamas and made an unrivaled contribution to Buddhism in India as well as overseas.

In mentioning these two great men who could have served as a bridge between India and China, the question arises as to whether relations between the two countries could have turned out differently. More specifically, focusing solely on Bengal, whether Partition, vitiated the role that Bengali Communists like Roy, or Chinese scholars like Tan who had become Bengali (his daughter stood first at Uni in Bengali and took a PhD in the subject) could have played in finding a solution to the Tibetan question which would have been beneficial to its people and enabled its neighbors to enjoy ever improving relations on the basis of its peace and prosperity.

I'm kidding.

Tan Yun Shan saw his beloved Shantiniketan turn into a Govt. funded University. But he didn't lose heart. He had a religious project in Bodh Gaya to dedicate himself to. Not even the Secular Scientific Socialists can discover a way of Nationalizing the Buddha- something Tagore would have understood.
M.N.Roy, too, didn't die an utterly futile death. He came back to India, did his porridge- he got 6 years, the Brits were clearly better chaps than the Bolsheviks- and didn't become a Minister or even an M.L.A.
Thus he kept faith with Tiger Jatin and died without shaming that higher type of humanity which the ever burgeoning sphere of Politics has rendered utterly extinct.
For which I personally blame David Cameron
That boy aint right.

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