Workshop on Iconic Cultural Figure

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Teejan Bai was born in Ganiyari village, 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) north of Bhilai, to Chunuk Lal Pardhi and his wife Sukhwati. She belongs to the Pardhi Scheduled Tribe of Chhattisgarh state

The eldest among her five siblings she heard her maternal grandfather, Brijlal Pradhi, recite the Mahabharata written by Chhattisgarhi writer, Sabal Singh Chauhan in Chhattisgarhi Hindi and instantly took a liking to it. She soon memorized much of it, and later trained informally under Umed Singh Deshmukh.

At age 13, she gave her first public performance in a neighboring village, Chandrakhuri (Drug) for Rs 10., singing in the Kapalik Shaily (style) of 'Pandavani', a first time for a woman, as traditionally women used to sing in the Vedamati, the sitting style. Contrary to the tradition, Teejan Bai performed standing singing out loud in her typical guttral voice and unmistakable verve, entering what was till then, a male bastion.

Within a short time, she became known in neighboring villages and invitations poured to perform at special occasions and festivals.

Her big-break came, when Habib Tanvir, a theatre personality from Madhya Pradesh, noticed her talent, and she was called to perform for then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. In time she received national and international recognition, a Padma Shri in 1988, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1995, and Padma Bhushan in 2003.

Beginning in the 1980s, she travelled all over the world as a cultural ambassador, to countries as far as England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Turkey, Tunisia, Malta, Cyprus, Romania and Mauritius.  She performed sequences from the Mahabharata in Shyam Benegal's acclaimed Doordarshan TV series Bharat Ek Khoj based on Jawaharlal Nehru's book

Today she continues to enthrall audiences, the world over with her unique folk singing and her powerful voice; and pass on her singing to the younger generation.

3. ‘Veer Savarkar’

This is the figure me and my group gave presentation on. We were seven in our group named : Kirti (me), Tasneem, Payal Singhal, Ritu Rawat, Oshin, Darshana, and Taruna. All of us shared our views about about Veer Savarkar through speech, Veer Savarkar’s poem, quotations etc.

After the workshop we got the chance to watch a movie on Veer Savarkar in which the life of him was shown. We went through it and came to know the following information about him.

What was his early life like ?
He was born on May 28, 1883, in Bhagpur village near Nasik. After his parents died young, his elder brother Ganesh looked after the family.

In 1898, the British hanged the Chapekar brothers in Pune for killing a British officer. This had a deep impact on the teenaged Savarkar, who decided to take up armed struggle against the British.

In 1901, he joined the Ferguson College in Pune and set up the Abhinav Bharat Society, which preached a revolutionary struggle against the British.

He also won a scholarship that took him to Britain to study law in 1906.

Did he not write a book on the First War of Independence ?
In Britain, Savarkar organized students and advocated an armed struggle to throw the British out of India. He also wrote his book on the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, which he called India's First War of Independence, a terminology the Indian government accepted after Independence.

Since there was no question of printing the book in Britain, it was printed in Holland and copies of it were smuggled into India. The book was a huge success, giving Indians a strong sense of pride, providing a fresh perspective on a war that was till then merely seen as the outcome of disgruntled Indian soldiers in the service of the British.

The second edition was published by Indians in the US while Bhagat Singh printed the third edition.
Its translations were a big success: the Punjabi and Urdu translations traveled far and wide while the Tamil translation almost becoming mandatory reading for soldiers of Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army -- a majority of who were Tamilians from Southeast Asia.

When was he arrested ?
In Britain, he also created a network of like-minded individuals. Given his anti-British activities, the police soon came looking for him. He was arrested in London on March 13, 1910 and sent to India to face trial.
Didn't he escape from the ship ?
The story that made Savarkar a national hero!

The ship in which he was being taken to India berthed at Marseilles, France, on July 8, 1910. Savarkar wriggled out of the porthole and swam a great distance in the cold water to reach the shore. He had earlier told his friends, including Madame Bhikaji Cama, to meet him at

Marseilles, but they arrived late and the British recaptured him. Since Savarkar did not speak French, he was unable to tell the local policeman that he was a refugee. Even though he could not escape, this story resonated across India. He was tried, and on December 24, 1910, sentenced to 50 years in prison. On July 4, 1911, he was sent to Port Blair's Cellular Jail.
50 years! That must have been very tough.
It certainly was. Savarkar's supporters always point to his incredibly difficult and degrading days in jail, sentenced to rigorous imprisonment when he was in the prime of life; placed in solitary confinement while other leaders had it much easier and were released whenever their health failed or someone in the family fell ill. Savarkar enjoyed no such luxury.
How long was he in prison ?
In 1920, Vithalbhai Patel -: Vallabhbhai Patel's elder brother demanded Savarkar's release, a demand also backed by Gandhi and Nehru.
On May 2, 1921, Savarkar was shifted from the Cellular Jail, first to the Alipore Jail in Bengal and then to Ratnagiri Jail in western Maharashtra. He was released on January 6, 1924 on the condition that he would not leave Ratnagiri district, which is not very far from Mumbai (then Bombay), till 1937.

Why did the British release him from prison ?
Up to this point, most historians regardless of ideology would agree that Savarkar was a committed revolutionary, even if one does not support the notion of an armed struggle. But from the point of his release from jail, Savarkar becomes a divided figure, either loved or loathed.
Savarkar agreed he would abstain from political activities to facilitate his release.

His supporters say he only made such promises to get out of prison and that he remained committed to throwing the British out of India.

What did he do on getting out of jail ?
He became active in the Hindu Mahasabha, founded in 1915, which sought to protect the interests of Hindus.
The Hindu Mahasabha, which differed radically from the Indian National Congress, attracted followers who were either opposed to Gandhi and the Congress, or believed in Hindutva. It is not clear why Savarkar joined the Mahasabha, though given his dislike for non-violence and his assurance to the British, joining the Congress was out of question.

So he became a champion for Hindutva ?
Savarkar, who popularized the term 'First War of Independence', also coined the term Hindutva when he wrote an eponymous book. The book outlined the features of Hindutva, including its economic, social, and political aspects.
He also wrote another book in English, Hindupadpadshahi, extolling the Maratha rule over India. He had developed and expounded the notion of one nation, one culture, bound by blood and race. In 1937, he became president of the Hindu Mahasabha, and remained in the post till 1943.

Is it true he did not support the Quit India movement?
The Hindu Mahasabha, under Savarkar's presidency, did not support the Quit India movement launched in August 1942. Savarkar also asked Hindus to help the British in their war effort against Germany and Japan. His supporters say this was a tactic to get more Hindus to pick up military training that could have been turned against the British later. He was not alone. The Communist Party of India and Muslim League also did not support the Quit India movement.
Was Savarkar linked to Gandhi's assassination?
Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, the two main accused, were known to Savarkar and frequently visited him.

After Gandhi's assassination, mobs stoned Savarkar's home in Bombay, where he had shifted to from Ratnagiri.

Savarkar was arrested, but he alone was set free for lack of evidence. Savarkar's supporters deny any link to the Mahatma's assassination, insisting that Godse and Apte acted on their own.
What was his legacy?
For his supporters, Savarkar believed in a strong Hindu society and in the Hindutva ideology of one nation, one culture, one people, which meant no special provisions for any minority. For his opponents, this ideology divides India today by trying to deny the minorities a rightful place in Indian society. As the bitter political battle over Ayer’s decision reveals, the controversy over Veer Savarkar's legacy is far from conclude.

What I learnt from this workshop….

When I attended the workshop, it was an amazing experience and an explorative one, because it itself tells the way how to get united for our own nation, gave a lot of special assets to our country, taught us the lesson of moral values.

Tagore defined India’s literature. His fine writings, which have been popularly described as “magical poetry and elegant prose”, have over the years spread its wings world over.

An outstanding poet, a legend of prose and a perfect philosopher – Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was an inspiration to many. His work Gitanjali bagged him a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, making him the first non-European to win the coveted honour. Apart from his literary work, he also gave the gift of ‘Rabindra Sangeet’ (songs written and composed by Tagore) also known as Tagore Songs to the people of India. He inspires me to write poems to put my views on paper.

Veer Savarkar helped our country during the British rule to get rid of that but even gave us freedom after a lot of efforts. He is an ideal for all of us.

Teejan Bai inspires us by her hard work to achieve success in life.

Henceforth I would like to conclude with the fact that this was not only a workshop but a path towards my personality development where I confronted with my evils and rectified my faults with my good deeds.

Thank You



B.Ed 1st Year

Roll Number- 401

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