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The Arya Samaj and Congress Politics in the Punjab, 1894–1908

  • Norman G. Barrier
Extract

Indian historians have tended in the past to explain the origins of nationalism and political activity in the subcontinent in terms of all-India organizations such as the Indian National Congress or in terms of the political thought and background of important national figures. As research on modern India accumulates, however, it is becoming apparent that this limited explanation of Indian political history is no longer adequate. The major regions had their own distinct social and political development which molded the response of local politicians to the larger political movements and which in turn had some effect on the speed and direction of the Indian nationalist movement. A fruitful approach to understanding the Congress would thus be to view it as an assembly of politicians who had regional political ties and who were strongly influenced by regional organizations. The significant role of the Arya Samaj in the politics of North India particularly supports such an interpretation. The revivalist Arya Samaj contributed to Hindu militancy and aggravated Hindu-Muslim relations. Although this aspect of Arya activity has yet to receive systematic treatment, the broad outline of the Samaj's part in hardening divisions between Hindus and Muslims is well known. The role of Aryas in provincial and national politics, on the other hand, has received little or no attention.

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1 Saraswati, Dayananda, Satyarth Prakash, trans. Bharadwaja, Chiranjiva (Lahore, 1909), pp. 300–01, 312–18, 372. For a lengthy discussion of the Samaj, see Heimsath, Charles H., Indian Nationalism and Hindu Social Reform (Princeton, 1964), pp. 113–30, 292–308.

2 Satyarth Prakash, pp. 36–87. Also, Singh, Chhajju, The Life of Swami Dayanand Saraswati (Lahore, 1905), I, 328–35.

3 Punjab Census, 1900, I, 115–16; Dayanand, I, 339–41; Tandon, Prakash, Punjabi Century, 1857–1947 (London, 1961), p. 33. Detailed documentation and discussion of this point is in Kenneth W. Jones, “The Arya Samaj in the Punjab: A Study of Social Reform and Religious Revivalism, 1877–1902” (unpub. diss., Univ. of California, 1966), ch. 2; Barrier, Norman G., “Punjab Politics and the Disturbances of 1907” (unpub. diss., Duke Univ., 1966), ch. 1.

4 Treated fully in Jones, “Arya Samaj,” ch. 2.

5 Rai, Lajpat, Life and Works of Pandit Guru Datta Vidyarthi, MA (Lahore, 1891), p. 9; Pal, B. C., Memories of My Life and Times (Calcutta, 1932–1951), II, 71; Dayanand, I, xxiii–xxiv.

6 Pal, Memories, II, 80.

7 Punjabi Century, p. 33. Also, Dayanand, I, i–xxx.

8 Autobiographical Writings of Lajpat Rai, ed. Joshi, V. C. (New Delhi, 1965), p. 28; Hindu Nationalism (Lahore, 1940), pp. 23; Shivājī, trans, into Hindi from Urdu by Shivshakhar Duvedi (Calcutta, 1933), pp. 1520.

9 Reflected in the following: A Study of Hindu Nationalism,” Kayastha Samachar, VI (1902), 249–54; The Social Genius of Hinduism,” Hindustan Review and Kayastha Samachar, IX (1904), 311–35; The Economic and Industrial Campaign in India,” Kayastha Samachar, IV (1901), 131–35; The Coming Indian National Congress—Some Suggestions,” Kayastha Samachar, IV (1901), 376–85.

10 Lajpat Rai, p. 29.

11 For example, Lajpat Rai, pp. 85–89; Ajit Singh, “Autobiography” (unpub. mss. in possession of Ganpat Rai, Ambala), pp. 3–11; Das, Dwarka, A Problem or a Few Stray Thoughts about the Indifferentism of Our Young Men (Lahore, 1903), pp. 5152; Lai, Ganeshi, The Arya Samaj (Lahore, 1887), pp. 811; Dayanand, I, x; Pal, Memories, II, 85.

12 For the issues splitting the Samaj, which included meat-eating, educational policy and the direction of the organization, see Lajpat Rai, pp. 46–78.

13 Singh, Dyal, Nationalism (Lahore, 1885), pp. i–ii, 56; Roy, K. P., Need For National Politics (Lahore, n.d.). As Lieutenant Governor James Lyall noted, “The Congress is a lethargic thing, centering around the Tribune and its slipshod master, Dyal Singh.” Minute, Oct. 1, 1893, Punjab Government (hereinafter PG) General File, October 1893, 27–28A. Although a few of the PG proceedings cited in this study arc available only in die West Pakistan Record Office, Lahore (hereinafter W.P.R.O.), most files are found both in the W.P.R.O. and the Commonwealth Relations Library, London (hereinafter cited as India Office).

14 Lajpat Rai, pp. 30–41, 88. Also, Sharma, Ram, Mahatma Hans Raj (Lahore, 1941), pp. 2751; Tribune, June 6, 1888.

15 Lajpat Rai, pp. 88–89.

16 Lajpat Rai, pp. 86–89; Arya Magazine, VII (1887), 321–22. Also, Harkishen Lai to Gordon Walker, June 22, 1907, 1907 PG Political File 11/B (hereinafter cited as 1907 PGP 11/B).

17 For example, Lala Sain Das died prior to 1893. Moreover, after the split many of die opponents of Arya politicians moved into the Gurukul section. Two other DAV leaders, Lajpat Rai and Hans Raj, avoided politics, although Lajpat Rai later moved into local and then national political activity.

18 Lajpat Rai, pp. 96–97; Report of the Punjab National Bank. 1898 (n.p., n.d.), p. i.

19 Chand, Lai, An Essay on the Decline of Native Industries (Lahore, 1895), pp. 2429; Tribune, Feb. 19, 1895, Jan. 1, 1896.

20 The First Punjab Provincial Conference at Hoshiarpur (Lahore, 1896), pp. i–iii, 26, 14–22; supplement, Tribune, Pec. 18, 1895.

21 Mackworth Young minute, Jan. 2, 1900, Punjab Financial Commissioner File 441/104A, Keep-With (W. P. Board of Revenue, Lahore). The bill and agitation are discussed in Norman G. Barrier, The Punjab Alienation of Land Bill of 1900 (Duke Univ. Program in Comparative Studies on Southern Asia Monograph and Occasional Papers Series, mon. 2; Durham, 1966).

22 1899 Congress Report (Lucknow, 1900), pp. 106–07; Tribune, Jan. 2, 1900.

23 Lajpat Rai, pp. 91, 97; Harkishen Lal memo on the Congress, Aug. 13, 1907, 1907 PGP 11/B.

24 The Aryas as a percentage of the total Punjabi delegates: 1899, 39% (10 of 26); 1900, 36% (151 of 421); 1901, 33% (10 of 30); 1904, 50% (9 of 18); 1905, 49% (51 of 104); 1906, 47% (65 of 138). The Aryas as a percentage of die Punjabi Aryas, Hindus, and Sikhs on the committee: 1899, 40% (4 of 10); 1900, 58% (25 of 46); 1901, 60% (3 of 5); 1904, no members; 1905, 62% (18 of 29); 1906, 63% (20 of 32). Statistics extracted from annual reports, corrected with additional information from Tribune, and checked against cumulative biographical files on Punjab Congressmen.

25 For example, Mackworth Young to Elgin, July 15, 1897, Elgin Collection (Eur. Mss. F 84, India Office); Mackworth Young minute, Dec. 28, 1897, PG General File, Jan. 1887, 12–12a.

26 Lajpat Rai, pp. 88–90; Lai Chand, Swadeshi (Lahore, 1906), pp. 2–3.

27 Swadeshi, pp. 4–5; Tribune, Dec. 25, 1900. An example of this attitude is Lajpat Rai, “Coming Congress,” pp. 131–35.

28 Supplement, Tribune, Dec. 28, 1900; Bengalee, Jan. 8, 1901.

29 1900 Congress Report (Lahore, 1901), pp. a–b, 79. Also, debate summary in Bengalee, Jan. 1, 1901; “Congressman,” Tribune, Jan. 19, 1901.

30 Tribune, Oct. 1, 1901, Jan. 28, 1902; Alfred Nundy, “The Troubles of the National Congress,” East and West, II (1903), 1403–09.

31 Tribune, Jan. 28, 1902; editorial, Kayastha Samachar, V (1902), 3–5.

32 Lajpat Rai, “Coming Congress,” pp. 131–35; Tribune, Oct. 1, Nov. 5, 1901.

33 Tribune, April 23, 1903. Conflict between Harkishen Lai and the Aryas also helped break up the local Congress committee.

34 Tribune, July 15, 1904; Dina Nath, Japan Ki Tareqqt Ka Raz (Lahore, 1905), pp. 1–3; Navajadhikal Shrivastav, Lajpat Raya (Simla, 1921), pp. 17–21.

35 Panjabee, Oct. 3, Nov. at, 1904; Lajpat Rai, pp. 98–99. Lajpat Rai wrote many of the key editorials. The editor, K. K. Athavale, was chosen by Tilak.

36 Harkishen Lai memo, 1907 PGP 11/B. The Tribune printed over a dozen letters during 1904 chiding Punjabis on their lack of patriotism.

37 Tribune, Dec. 14, 17, 1904; Panjabee, Dec. 12, 19, 1904.

38 Tribune, Dec. 31, 1904; Panjabee, Jan. 9, 1905.

39 Lajpat Rai letter, Panjabee, March 6, 1905.

40 1904 Congress Report (Bombay, 1905), p. 53; Bengalee, Dec. 28, 1904.

41 Harkishen Lai letters in Tribune, Feb. 6, 1902, March 4, 1902, April 1, 1905.

42 Harkishen Lai letters in Tribune, April 1, 1905, Panjabee, April to, 1905. Also, Lajpat Rai to Gokhale, April 10, 1905, Gokhale Collection (National Archives of India, New Delhi).

43 Aryas led 15 of 24 sessions. Statistics drawn from newspaper reports and report in “The Effect of the Anti-Partition Agitation on Provinces Other than Bengal,” Govt. of India (hereinafter GI) Public File, June 1906, 169–86A (this and subsequent Indian government proceedings are in the National Archives of India). For the “nonpolitical” character of the movement, see Panjabee, Nov. 3, 1905; Maclagan minute, June 1, 1907, 1907 PGP 10/B.

44 Dep. Dir. of Police note, July 2, 1903, attached to PG Education File, August 1900, 4A. Also, Tribune, Oct. 22, 1905.

45 Vakil, Oct. 21, Dec. 13, 1905; Observer, Nov. 11, 1905, Selections from Punjab Press 1903 (hereinafter SPP), pp. 290, 300, 339.

46 For example, Bakshi Ram, Swadeshi Hazmen aur Ghazlen (Lahore, 1906), pp. 2, 7.

47 Lajpat Rai to Gokhale, Aug. 8, 1905, Gokhale Collection (hereinafter GC); “India and English Politics,” Indian Review, IV (1905), 750–51. Extracts from his December speeches on swadeshi are in Lajpat Rai dossier, 1907 PGP 10/B.

48 Lajpat Rai to Gokhale, Jan. 27, March 3, 1906, GC; Lajpat Rai to Dwarka Das, Jan. 28, 1908 (intercepted and copied), 1907 PGP 10/B.

49 Lajpat Rai, pp. 110–11; 1905 Congress Report (Lucknow, 1906), pp. 31, 70–75.

50 Panjabee, Jan. 13, 1906.

51 Panjabee, Jan. 10, 13, Feb. 24, 1906.

52 For example, Tribune, March 7, 1906.

53 Tribune, April 13, 1906; Harkishen Lai letter, June 27, 1906. Nundy's views arc in Mahomedans and Political Agitations,” Kayastha Samachar, IV (1901), 366–76; A Silent Revolution in India,” East and West, II (1903), 9961007.

54 Based on meeting reports in the Tribune and Panjabee, July–Oct. 1906.

55 Harkishen Lai memo, Aug. 13, 1907, 1907 PGP 11/B.

56 Ibid. Also, Punjab CID note on Punjab politics, 1906–08, sec. 1 (W. P. CID archives, Lahore). Subsequent Punjab CID reports and minutes, unless otherwise noted, are in the CID archives.

57 The Ambala Provincial Conference of 1906 (Lahore, n.d.), pp. ii–iv, 31–36.

58 Sec. Note: Hindu-Muslim Politics, sec. 2, 1908 PGP bundle (W.P.R.O.). Muharram Ali Chisti and other pro-Congress Muslims also established a second organization, the Anjuman-i-Naib-i-Mussalmani, to present grievances of Muslims to the government and to cooperate with the Aryas leading the Congress. Tribune, October 19, 1906.

59 Meeting reports, Tribune, Oct. 12, 20, 1906.

60 Lajpat Rai letter, Panjabee, Feb. 9, 1907; Punjab CID report, Feb. 20, 1907.

61 Based on the following: Popham Young note, in Minto to Morley, July 3, 1907, Morley Collection (Eur. Mss. D 573, India Office); noting and report of colonization committee, GI Revenue File, April 1909, I–4A; noting and correspondence, GI Revenue File, June 1908, 15B.

62 CID note on Ajit Singh and appendices, GI Home-Political (hereinafter GIPOL) File, Aug. 1907, 148–235A.

63 For example, reports in Tribune, March 15, 1907; Panjabee, March 27, 1907.

64 Civil and Military Gazette (hereinafter Gazette), April 17, 18, 1907. Also, riot trial evidence, Tribune, June–Aug. 1907.

65 Lajpat Rai, pp. 124–25. Agnew evidence, Gazette, June 8, 1907.

66 PG to GI, 694, 695, May 3, 1907, GIPOL Aug. 1907, 148–235A. For Ibbetson's political views, see minute, Aug. 1, 1903, GI Judicial File, May 1906, 196–200A; Ibbetson to PG, March 7, 1889, GI Judicial File, Dec. 1891, 234–300A.

67 Minto to Lady Minto, May 9, 1907, Minto Collection (National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh); noting in GIPOL Aug. 1907, 148–235A; Morley to Minto, May 9, 1907, Morley Collection; Diary of F. A. Hirtzel, May 8, 10, 1907, pp. 42–43, Home Miscellaneous Scries 864 (India Office).

68 Confidential circular 715, May 7, 1907, 1907 PGP 10/B.

69 Minto minute, May 26, 1907, GI Legislative File, June 1907, 4–8A.

70 Morley telegram to Minto, Nov. 2, 1907, Minto Collection; Martineau judgments, Oct. 1, 2, 1907, GIPOL Jan. 1908, 64–72A.

71 Tek Chand to Gokhale, May 10, 1907, GC; Punjab CID reports, May 24, June 1, 1907. Also, Panjabee, Aug. 31, 1907.

72 Robertson to Ibbetson, Aug. 23, 1907, 1907 PGP 14/B. For the Punjabi attitude, see Panjabee, Sept. 14, 1907; Tribune, Nov. 8, 1907.

73 Punjab CID reports, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, 1907; Hans Raj Sawnhey to Gokhale, Oct. 7, 15, 1907, GC.

74 Lajpat Rai to Gokhale, Nov. 3, 1907 (should read Dec. 3), GC.

75 Lajpat Rai letter, Tribune, Dec. 17, 1907; Punjab CID report, Dec. 21, 1907.

76 The Surat Congress and Conferences (Madras, 1908), pp. xxivxxv; Gazette, Dec. 31, 1907.

77 Lajpat Rai to Dwarka Das, Jan. 28, 1908, 1907 PGP 14/B. Also, Tribune, Jan. 29, 1908.

78 Harkishen Lai memo, Feb. 18, 1908, 1907 PGP 14/B. An example of the attacks is Tribune, Jan. 18, 1908. The government apparently encouraged his attempts to discredit Lajpat Rai.

79 Lajpat Rai to Hans Raj Sawnhey, March 1, 1908 (intercepted and copied), 1907 PGP 10/B. Also, Lajpat Rai's comments on the attacks, Lajpat Rai to Gokhale, Jan. 28, 1908, GC.

80 Dane interview with Lai Chand, Feb. 9, 1909, Keep-With, 1907 PGP 14/B.

81 Punjab CID note on Punjab politics, 1906–1908, sec. 3.

82 Punjab CID reports, March 13, June 28, 1909; Tribune, July 5, 1909.

83 Sanatan Dharm Gazette, June 12, July 10, 1907, SPP 1907, pp. 253, 269. Also, Arur Singh notification, GIPOL July 1907, 39–117B.

84 Maclagan minute, Aug. 1, 1907, 1907 PGP 10/B.

85 Insha Allah letter, Gazette, June 2, 1907; Husan, S. Muhammad, Aryon ki Kartut (Sialkot, 1907), pp. 23.

86 M. S. Bhagat letter, Gazette, May 18, 1907; Diwan Chand letter, Gazette, May 25, 1907; Durga Das letter, Panjabee, June 12, 1907.

87 Resolution, annotated, 1907 PGP 11/B.

88 Tribune, May 28, 30, 1907; Panjabee, May 29, 1907.

89 Gazette, June 12, 1907.

90 Letters in Tribune, June 19, 1907. Also, Musalman ke Bare Men (Jullundur, n.d.), pp. 3–4.

91 Sec. minute, July 21, 1907, 1907 PGP 10/B. Also, Punjab CID reports on communal tension, July 27, Aug. 9, 1907.

92 Punjab CID reports, Aug. 23, 24, 1907. For the Arya and Hindu response, Gazette, Aug. 8, 14, 1907; Sat Dharm Parcharak., Aug. 30, Arya Gazette, Sept. 5, 1907, SPP 1907, p. 365.

93 Ram Bhaj Datta to Shadi Lai, Aug. 30, 1907 (intercepted and copied), 1907 PGP 14/B.

94 Ibid. Background on the sabhas drawn from Tribune, Aug. 24, Sept. 8, 1906; Gazette, Dec. 16, 22, 1906.

95 Sec. Note: Hindu-Muslim Politics, sec. 2, 1908 PGP bundle (W.P.R.O.). This information was apparently given to the British in 1909 by Shadi Lai.

96 Lajpat Rai to Gokhale, June 3, 1908 (intercepted and copied), 1907 PGP 14/B. Also, Lajpat Rai to Hans Raj Sawnhey, March 1, 1908, same file.

97 Tribune, Dec. 19, 1907; Punjab CID report, Dec. 2, 1907.

98 Analysis of meeting reports from Tribune, Feb.-May 1908. Also, memorial in GIPOL, Oct. 1909, 29–31 A.

99 Drawn from membership lists, attached to Sec. Note: Hindu-Muslim Politics, 1908 PGP (W.P.R.O.). The Arya role in the All-India Hindu Mahasabha is briefly mentioned in Indra Prakash, A Review of the History and World of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Hindu Sanghatan Movement (3d. ed.; Delhi, 1952), pp. 13–15.

100 Punjab CID reports, April 10, 1908, Feb. 22, 1909. Earlier shuddhi programs and their relation to communal antagonism are analyzed in Jones, “Arya Samaj,” chs. 3–5.

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