Wg Cdr SS Randhawa (Retd)
ONCE, it is said, someone asked Jawaharlal Nehru if he was a Hindu. He replied, ‘Yes, I am Hindu, but not mandir type.’ This response touched my heart, because I am a Sikh, but not gurdwara type. On May 27, 1964, I was listening to the transistor, when suddenly the transmission stopped and the demise of Panditji was announced. A good soul gone. I switched off the transistor and rushed to the washroom to dry my eyes, lest my wife fuss over the reason… Sometimes, it is the ‘type’ that attaches a person to a person and the bond is more durable than any other relation. Here is an example:
I was working on a project when a new worker named Rehman joined our team. As reputation travels faster than a person, Rehman joined us because of his unbecoming behaviour toward his boss. Very soon, I found out that he was a good soul and my ‘type’. He knew Urdu as good as I did; did not believe in religious rituals; did his work well; was a good sportsman and tolerated no nonsense. He impressed me with this Urdu couplet — Ilahi kaise hote hain, jinhein hai bandagi ki khwahish/ Hamein toh sharam damangir hoti hai Khuda kehte (Oh God, how are those who desire to worship you; we feel shy even to utter your name).
We became good friends. We worked together, played together and together cycled down to town for evening engineering classes. We had friends who were not ‘godly’. Two were Hindus, the non-mandir types; a Jain who relished Hyderabadi biryani and did not mind a couple of drinks — if offered free. There was one named Vishnu. He was good at studies, good in sports and a sound professional hand. He was the darling of the group. Religion, caste, creed and colour did not matter in our small social setup. I think it was the IAF culture, or perhaps our awareness of Jannat ki haqikat that we were not religious.
It is common knowledge that Rahul Gandhi, like his great grandfather, is Hindu, but not mandir type. His recent religious ‘appeasement’ was for a cause, not for a change. This reminded me of an incident. To beat the examination heat, we thought of an evening party with chicken and chilled beer — Jain’s favourite. Rehman opted out giving a lame excuse. He was close to me and I asked him the reason. ‘Abu is with us and if he asks me, I will not be able to tell a lie.’ The next meeting was for fixing responsibilities for the preparations and I opted to make the chicken dish.
On the appointed day, I purchased two fowls from the market and delivered them to Rehman for dressing, as I had no experience in that. The party went off well. The following day I enquired from Rehman how it went and what was Abu’s reaction. ‘He did not appreciate it, saying Islam does not allow such cheating.’
I feel that a majority of Indians are religious, but not ‘place-bound’. They are more God fearing than the ‘licence-holders’. Let us be frank — cheating is allowed in religion. We all do it; Rahul Gandhi is no exception.
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