Syama Prasad Mookerjee

Indian politician, barrister and academic (1901-1953)

Shyama Prasad Mookerjee (6th July 1901 - 24th June 1953) Indian educator, humanist and politician.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee

Quotes edit

  • If we are to live and grow as a university, one of whose paramount tasks is to not only leaders of thought and action but also workers dedicated to the service of the nation, we cannot sit idle with philosophic concern and let things drift as they may. So far as we are concerned, it is for us to set our house in order. It is for us, and specially the younger generation, Hindus, Moslems and Christians alike, to combine and resolutely stand for the permanent well-being of our province and to rescue her from the deadly stagnation which now seems to envelop her.
    • Speech delivered at Calcutta University Convocation on 2nd March 1935.
  • Whatever work you undertake, do it seriously, thoroughly and well; never leave it half-done or undone, never feel yourself satisfied unless and until you have given it your very best. Cultivate the habits of discipline and toleration. Surrender not the convictions you hold dear but learn to appreciate the points of view of your opponents.
    • Speech delivered at Scottish Church College, Kolkata on 7th December 1935.
  • A criticism with which we have become familiar in this country is that an alarmingly large number of students receiving university education, and the universities are responsible for wastage and unnecessary duplication of teaching arrangements…
… Take the whole of British India with a population of two hundred and sixty-three million. India has only sixteen universities and the number of their students will be about one lac and twenty thousand. The total expenditure on higher education in India is less than four crores[1] rupees.
Let me now turn to other countries. The British Isles afford a good illustration for comparison from the point of view of population which is about is about forty five million; but the number of universities is as many as sixteen – what we have for the whole of India – and fifty-five thousand students receive instructions under their jurisdiction. About six crores and forty lacs [2] of rupees are spent on higher education only in England and Wales. To universities alone within this area the state annually contributes two crores and twenty-seven lacs of rupees.
    • Speech delivered at Calcutta University Convocation on 22nd February 1936.
  • Generally speaking, an Indian university must regard itself as one of the living organs of national reconstruction. It must discover the best means of blending together both the spiritual and the material aspects of life. It must equip its alumni irrespective of caste, creed or sex, with individual fitness, not for its own sake, not for merely adorning varied occupations and professions, but in order to teach them how to merge their individuality in the common cause of advancing the progress and prosperity of their motherland and upholding the highest traditions of human civilisation.
    • Speech delivered at Nagpur University Convocation on 5th December 1936.
  • That more than 90 per cent of the Indian population should continue to be illiterate even after 175 years of British rule in this country is an intolerable situation which calls for immediate action.
    • Speech delivered at Nagpur University Convocation on 5th December 1936.
  • You have drunk deep at the springs of western knowledge. While you will not hesitate to absorb for your benefit and for the national good the best elements in western culture and thought, you will not in any case permit the destruction of the vital elements of your own civilisation.
    • Speech delivered at Bombay University Convocation on 17th August 1937.
  • It has often been asserted that the polytheistic Hindu failed to establish a spiritual kinship with the monotheistic Muslim who held much that is Indian in scorn and still seeks his spiritual inspiration abroad. How can we say that India ignored the teachings of Islam when we find saints like Nanak and Chaitanya, Namdev and Tukaram, preaching the brotherhood of man and the futility of caste in matters spiritual? Although attempts on Hindu culture and institutions fill the pages of Indian history, how can we assert that Muslims ignored the appeal of Hindu culture when we find Muhammad Jayasi weaving a beautiful romance to illustrate the teachings of Hindu philosophy, when we read the simple devotional hymns of Kabir and Sheikh Farid, who refused to recognise the barriers of caste and creed on the high road to God’s kingdom? “Utter not one disagreeable word,” said Farid, “since the true lord is in all men. Distress no one’s heart for every heart is a precious jewel.” In the same strain did Kabir proclaim, “There is the same God for the Hindu as for the Muslim.” A rejuvenated India found an Akbar to put an end to political chaos and social disharmony and a Shah Jahan to dream a dream in marble the like of which is not to be met in the world.
    • Speech delivered at Patna University Convocation on 27th November 1937.
  • India fell mainly because her people were at the critical hour divided and disorganised. Her influence waned when the forces of disintegration, political and social, were at work. If we left our neighbours alone, we revelled in internal strife which ceased for a time when great kings like Asoka and Akbar ruled over the destinies of India – mighty men, who sought to unite the teeming millions of this vast sub-continent by the bond of a common aspiration and a passionate longing for the eternal code of righteous conduct, charity and understanding. A strong and united India fearing no one and loving all , brought messages of peace and goodwill to distracted world. But as soon as the sceptre dropped from their hands, when the grip over the country was loosened through weak and short-sighted successors, when narrow selfishness and mutual jealousy and distrust overpowered our souls, when local feuds and religious strife raised their ugly heads giving rise to social exclusiveness and moral decadence, unity was lost; freedom, man’s priceless treasure, disappeared; the country broke into fragments and relapsed into a state of conflict and struggle.
    • Speech delivered at Patna University Convocation on 27th November 1937.
  • Freedom consists not only in the absence of restraint but also in the presence of opportunity. Liberty is not a single and simple conception. It has four elements – national, political, personal and economic. The man who is fully free is one who lives in a country which is independent; in a state which is democratic; in a society where laws are equal and restrictions at a minimum; in an economic system in which national interests are protected and the citizen has the scope of secure livelihood, an assured comfort and full opportunity to rise by merit.
This freedom, so truly and courageously defined, is not ours today and until this condition is reached, India will never achieve true greatness or happiness, based on the glorious features of her past civilisation.
    • Speech delivered at Patna University Convocation on 27th November 1937.
  • In India also, for century, education imparted through the medium of a foreign language has unduly dominated its academic life and it has now produced a class of men who are unconsciously so denationalised that any far reaching proposal for the recognition of the Indian languages as the vehicle of teaching and examination up to the highest University stage is either ridiculed as impossible or branded as reactionary. But I plead earnestly for the acceptance of this fundamental principle not on account of any blind adherence to things that I claim as my own but out of a firm conviction that the fullest development of the mind of a learner is possible only by this natural approach and also that by this process alone can there be a great revival of the glory and richness of the Indian languages.
    • Speech delivered at Agra University Convocation on 23rd November 1940.
  • I would also ask you to fulfil in an abundant measure your obligation for the revival of the glory of Hindu culture and civilisation, not from a narrow or bigoted point of view but for strengthening the very root of nationalism in this country. In this great land of ours where twenty-eight crores of Hindus live, the word Hindu sometimes stinks in the nostrils of many a son of India.
    • Speech delivered at Benaras Hindu University Convocation on 1st December 1940.
  • Political and social justice requires, not the disintegration of a country and destruction or humiliation of a class which shows initiative, intelligence and drive, but equality of opportunity for all, genuine freedom for self-fulfilment, in which all men irrespective of caste or creed may share.
    • Speech delivered at Benaras Hindu University Convocation on 1st December 1940.
  • What we deplore is not that the gate of western knowledge was thrown open to Indians, but that such knowledge was imported to India at the sacrifice of our own cultural heritage. What was needed was a proper synthesis between the two systems and not neglect, far less destruction, of the Indian base.
    • Speech delivered at Gurkula Visvavidyalaya Convocation on 25th April 1943.
  • The very system of education which was deemed essential for forging bonds of unbroken alliance with the British power succeeded in unleashing revolutionary ideas and thoughts, which ultimately helped to throw off the yoke of alien rule in India. If we take a dispassionate view of what happened during the last one century, we must acknowledge that this has been an era in which good has been mixed with evil. The contact between the Indian mind and western thought and civilisation did not enslave the soul of India. In every domain of thought, in arts and architecture, in science, in history, philosophy and letters, in social services and in religious thought, great Indians gave their best, maintaining their stamp of originality as well as imbibing and assimilating fruits of western skill and knowledge. Though the number of Indians affected by such spread of knowledge was comparatively small, many of them assumed a much needed political leadership and became the instruments of agitation and mass movements, leading ultimately to the political liberation of their country. The cultural Renaissance preceded and created the silent Revolution.
    • Speech delivered at Delhi University Convocation on 13th December 1952. (Source: Educational Speeches by Dr. Shyamaprasad Mookerjee, 1959, A.Mukherjee & Co. (Private) Ltd., 2 College Square, Kolkata 700 012)
  • [Nehru once told Mookerjee: "We will crush you!"... He replied:]
    We will crush this crushing mentality.
    • Cited by A.B. Vajpayee and quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.158
  • A nation that fails to take pride in its past achievements or to take inspiration therefrom, can never build up the present or plan for the future. A weak nation can never attain greatness.
    • Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee Quoted from Talreja, K. M. (2000). Holy Vedas and holy Bible: A comparative study. New Delhi: Rashtriya Chetana Sangathan.
  • ‘He knows much better than even myself the life of misery, shame and humiliation which these millions of Hindus in East Bengal are being forced to live. He said in the course of his speech that whatever happens, India will never agree to any discrimination being made in reference to South Africa, whether it is based on race or religion. When people who had their loyalty fixed upon undivided India, who made Indian freedom possible, and today also naturally look to India for protection and help in emergency, are forced to live in an atmosphere of insecurity and misery and humiliation, then, what is India’s policy in respect of them? Are we so weak as to merely watch and appeal?’
    • quoted in Arun Shourie - Self-Deception _ India's China Policies_ Origins, Premises, Lessons-Harper Collins (2013) ch 4.

Quotes about Shyama Prasad Mookerjee edit

  • His religion was not of the narrow kind. He was catholic in his sympathies and broad-minded in his outlook. Patriotism is not merely love of the land in which we are born; it is respect for the ideals by which we are sustained. That man has a spiritual dimension, that its development can take place in various ways, that we should have respect for all these ways are some of the cardinal features of Indian tradition. It is Indian and not merely Hindu. Shyamaprasad Mookerjee was an ardent advocate of these great ideals.

References edit

  1. one crore is equal to ten million
  2. ten lacs is equal to one million

See also edit

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