Sardar, Operation Polo and My Grandmother

Today Prime Minister of India is unveiling a tall statue of a tall leader, Iron man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. There are several discussions on his legacy.

Sardar, no doubt, is the architect of modern administratively integrated geographical India and deserves a huge respect from every Indian.

Everytime i read about Sardar, i reminisce my childhood. As a child, i grew up listening to many first hand personal stories of India’s freedom struggle and Operation Polo from my grandmother. Both the happy and dreaded feelings living in the erstwhile Hyderabad state post 1947.

This is my humble blog relating my perspectives connecting Sardar, Operation Polo and my paternal grandmother.

My grandmother’s stories always fascinated me since she had personally lived through those times and had a first hand experience with diverse perspectives. So let me digress for a bit about her life.

Before you start thinking if she was some great public/political leader, let me tell you that she was a simple god-fearing housewife in Wanaparthy samsthanam, a vassal of erstwhile Hyderabad state under Nizam.

She was the daughter and daughter-in-law of orthodox Brahmin landlord families and was also a distant cousin of the freedom fighter and first elected Chief Minister of liberated Hyderabad state, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao. She was married to Kovuru Venkateshwar Rao (my namesake), an english convent educated lawyer (vakalat) turned philosopher with deep spiritual and secular beliefs who translated Bhagavad-Gita into Parsi and Quoran into Telugu for the good of both the communities.

She was a varacious reader. She read numerous books on diverse topics while giving me company and at times competing 😀🙏 while i studied for my exams. I never dared/cared to ask her academic credentials (not very high given the social norms of those days), since as far as I am concerned she was a living University. My best schooling was when i was listening to her.

May be such diverse family background coupled with her interesting story-telling abilities helped her bring unique perspectives and capture the imagination of my young mind.

When talking about India’s Independence movement, she often recalled those anxious moments they spent in post 1947 erstwhile Hyderabad state being concerned not just for the safety of their immediate family but the entire extended families of many villages in that area.

She often described the sigh of relief and happiness from villagers when they were told that “Indian Union” flights are hovering on their heads assuring them of their safety.

She would also talk about how they used to work to prepare India flags with saree and any available cloth material. She proudly described the audacity and the fearlessness inspired by the ideals of leaders in those times.

Then she would go on to joyfully describe the festive atmosphere in their homes when they joined with the rest of India in celebrating the liberation and independence.

Thanks to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the Operation Polo who played a major role in shaping the destiny and uniting it with rest of India. No words will be enough to describe the gratitude of all these citizens.

IMHO, this land of India and its people were always united by its philosophical, spiritual, cultural ethos from time immemorial irrespective of the rulers.

I personally don’t subscribe to the modern historians view that “India” is a British/post 1947 Independence creation. The name may be. But it was always a living cultural entity, perhaps not as an integrated administrative unit owing to the political compulsions and issues of local governance.

I do sometimes think that India should have still used the federal governance structure than the Union model on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s Grama Swaraj model of governance. But i rest that discussion for another day.

In prehistoric/mythological terms, we hear about Bharata Khanda which included Vanga, Kalinga, Dravida, Telungu, Andhra, Tripura, Naga, Dwaraka, Avanti, Kamboja, Parasurama Kshetra and other places including all corners of modern India. Even today, every Hindu ritual starts with people mentioning Bharata Khanda in the beginning (Sankalpam).

In more recent history from 2000+ years ago, northern King Chandragupta Maurya seem to have moved to Karnataka in South where he breathed his last. Again his grandson Asoka pillars exist all across modern day India. We have mostly northern philosophies of Jainism and Buddhism and monasteries in interior parts of South India.

Centuries ago, Adisankara born in Kerala (South) travelled to Kashmir (North) and then crisscrossed the entire Indian landmass and could relate to people across all these areas and vice-versa.

Likewise, Ramanuja(Tamilnadu in South), Chaitanya(Bengal in East), Ramananda/Kabir/ Tulsidas/Ravidas(UP in North).

The list just goes on..

Obviously Sardar(Gujarat in West) helped give administrative integrity as well to this in the modern times and no less considered as our very own here in Hyderabad( Telangana in South).

None of us can ever forget Sardar’s contribution in building current administrative land of India, a successful completion of his Karma in this spiritual land.

*****

This is a spiritual land where the people were taught from their childhood in Gurukul (school) about Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (World as one family). Also every child was taught about Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavantu (Let All become Happy), Samasta Loka Sukhino Bhavantu (Let All worlds including and beyond Earth become Happy)

They were taught to internalize
सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत्
शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

which means to say,

May all be happy. May all be free from illness. May all realize what is auspicious. May none be subject to misery. Let there be peace in all three aspects – Inner Self, Physical Environment and Metaphysical realms.

*******

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