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Themes & Thoughts of the day : May

28 May : Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's birth anniversary
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

"Every person is a Hindu who regards and owns this Bharat Bhumi, this land from the Indus to the seas, as his Fatherland as well as Holyland, i.e. the land of the origin of his religion (…) Consequently the so-called aboriginal or hill tribes also are Hindus: because India is their Fatherland as well as their Holyland of whatever form of religion or worship they follow." - Vinayak Damodar Savarkar; Hindu Rashtra Darshan. p.77

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (b. 28 May 1883 - d. 26 February 1966) was an Indian pro-independence activist, politician as well as a poet, writer and playwright. He advocated dismantling the system of caste in Hindu culture, and reconversion of the converted Hindus back to Hindu religion. Savarkar created the term Hindutva, and emphasised its distinctiveness from Hinduism which he associated with social and political communalism. The stated aim of Savarkar's Hindutva was to create a divisive collective identity. The five elements of his philosophy were Utilitarianism, Rationalism and Positivism, Humanism and Universalism, Pragmatism and Realism. Later commentators have said that Savarkar's philosophy, despite its claims to furthering unity, was divisive in nature as it tried to shape Indian nationalism as uniquely Hindu, to the exclusion of other religions.

Savarkar's revolutionary activities began while studying in India and England, where he was associated with the India House and founded student societies including Abhinav Bharat Society and the Free India Society, as well as publications espousing the cause of complete Indian independence by revolutionary means.

22 May : Raja Ram Mohun Roy's birth anniversary
Raja Ram Mohan Roy's birth anniversary

"Enemies of liberty and friends of despotism have never been, and never will be, ultimately successful." - Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Raja Ram Mohun Roy (b. 22 May 1772 - d. 27 September 1833), was an Indian religious, social, and educational reformer, and humanitarian, who challenged traditional Hindu culture and indicated the lines of progress for Indian society under British rule. He is called the "Maker of Modern India," and also the "Father of Modern India." He is also regarded as the "Father of the Bengal Renaissance." He, along with Dwarkanath Tagore and other prominent Bengalis of the early 19th century, founded the Brahmo Sabha in 1828, which engendered the Brahmo Samaj, an influential Indian socio-religious reform movement during the Bengal Renaissance. His influence was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration, and education, as well as religion. He was described by Rabindranath Tagore as the "Father of Indian Renaissance," and the "Prophet of Indian Nationalism".

13 May : R. K. Narayan's death anniversary
Rabindranath Tagore birth anniversary

"No one ever accepts criticism so cheerfully. Neither the man who utters it nor the man who invites it really means it."- R. K. Narayan

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami (b. 10 October 1906 – d. 13 May 2001), commonly known as R. K. Narayan was a writer, best known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. He is one of three leading figures of early Indian literature in English (alongside Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao), and is credited with bringing the genre to the rest of the world.

Narayan broke through with the help of his mentor and friend, Graham Greene, who was instrumental in getting publishers for Narayan’s first four books, including the semi-autobiographical trilogy of Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher. Narayan’s works also include The Financial Expert, hailed as one of the most original works of 1951, and Sahitya Akademi Award winner The Guide, which was adapted for film and for Broadway. The setting for most of Narayan's stories is the fictional town of Malgudi, first introduced in Swami and Friends. His narratives highlight social context and provide a feel for his characters through everyday life. He has been compared to William Faulkner, who also created a fictional town that stood for reality, brought out the humour and energy of ordinary life, and displayed compassionate humanism in his writing. Narayan's short story writing style has been compared to that of Guy de Maupassant, as they both have an ability to compress the narrative without losing out on elements of the story. Narayan has also come in for criticism for being too simple in his prose and diction.

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07 May : Rabindranath Tagore birth anniversary
Rabindranath Tagore birth anniversary

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."- Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (b. 7 May 1861 - d. 7 August 1941), was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. Tagore introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of modern South Asia.

Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed - or panned - for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India's Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh's Amar Shonar Bangla.

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