Friday, November 30, 2012

The Prabodhan of Balasaheb Thackeray


It is perhaps not always possible to imagine that the death of a person should cause so much stoppage. It probably happens in one’s surroundings once every generation. When I went outside to fetch milk in the morning of Nov 18 2012, the day after Balasaheb Thackeray had passed away, I met in the lift a young boy who was delivering newspapers. I asked him if the shops in Pune were still shut. “They are shut in the whole of Maharashtra” he said with considerable pride.
I nodded my head in agreement with this boy who seemed to represent all the good things that could come from the Thackerays’ Sena,  

Some of the non-marathi manoos could have said that the bandh was mainly due to fear. Two girls face-booked so and they were preventively --- if that is the word --- booked by the police. Bal Thackeray would have probably said “That is not my style. I have so much respect for the Marathi manoos”.

One cannot get such a disciplined collection of mourners solely out of fear. Moreover for pagan intellectuals like me, who do not belong to any faith, the fact is that revolutionaries and priests and monarchs of all kinds have shown throughout history that fear has the most power of persuasion in the short run.

I have walked as a child in a procession in Patna after Mahatma Gandhi’s death. At that age I could only see the legs of the crowd. These legs could have trampled over me. They didn’t. I was lifted, hand by hand, and deposited on the safe side. Mourning crowds are not violent in India. I have also walked the guneral procession of the  DMK icon, C. M. Ammadurai down the then. Mount Road (now Anna Salai) towards Rajaji Hall where his body was to be laid at rest. Being slightly taller than the rest I found before my eyes a thick carpet of black hair moving along slowly coherently in what could have only been a Bose-condensed state. There was not the gossipy present-day mass-television at that time and the spreading of news and views took so much more time and organization.

I can quite confidently say from this experience that the Gandhi-Thackeray-Annadurai-type out-pouring of mass adulation could only have come through a spontaneous sentiment expressed through every vein and nerve-ending as a swarm or social intelligence because of a very large personal loss in one’s society.

At the end of his life, Bal Thackeray could sing (against all odds) as Frank Sinatra did
I've lived a life that's full 
I traveled each and ev'ry highway 
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
----
For what is a man, what has he got? 
If not himself, then he has naught 
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels 
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way! 

So I went to the Internet and started reading about this man. I think I may be slightly prejudiced in his favour if only because we are both Aquarians and could have the same birthday.

As far as I could make out, his life is, llike others’ are, an accident of history, but a very important one. It made contact with the emotions of his tribe at that time in a certain context. He was born as a Maharashtrian in a place that later became a part of the Bombay Presidency after India’s independence. There was this inborn thing in his genes … again common to many people … that protested some inequalities that were perceived. These perceptions reflected those of others. Bal Thackeray inherited these perceptions from his enlightened father ‘Prabodhankar’ Thackeray. Bal Thackeray went about expressing them in a way that forced changes that seemed to satisfy a large, deemingly suppressed, regional number, at the consternation of more financially accommodated upper cosmopolitan class.

A considerable amount has been written on Bal Thackeray on the internet. The trouble with internet is it gives an impression of being real while it is many-a-time only virtual-ity of little virtue. This blog will not pretend to add any new comment or perspective. It cannot hope to do justice to the political story of Bal Thackeray. I use this blog only to point out some threads that seem important or amusing to me.

There are two important points. The more important of these, from my personal viewpoint at least, is to emphasize the importance of Keshav Prabodhankar Thackeray, in a Father-son-Sena way. The other is to deal with the name Thackeray that transcends the Marathi gene and its relevance to the Marathi nuance.

I am sure that, Bal Thackeray would (if he could) express himself after his death the same way as Sinatra did (before Sinatra died, of course)
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing 
To think I did all that 
And may I say, not in a shy way, 
"Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way

(I don’t particularly like being thrashed, but at the risk of being thrashed, I must add that I will refer to Mumbai in its earlier days as Bombay and will take care to refer to it as Mumbai for contemporary times, out of respect for all concerned, most of all for the Marathi manoos.)

It is a reflection of Bal Thackery’s private persona that a change from the Marathi Thakre to the British Thackeray could be a non-issue while the public persona took umbrage at every later-day reference to Mumbai as Bombay.

Balasaheb Thackeray

It is one of the ironies of Bal Thackeray’s life, that while his father adopted a British spelling for his family name, Bal Thackeray would himself grow up to fight for the change of the Portuguese/British name of Bombay to Mumbai. That probably was the theme of his life. Don’t mix his private persona with that of the public one. He required being a mild Ganapathi vahana (mouse) in one and a Tiger in the other (not that real tigers are more threatening than paper ones).

Behram Contractor, a Parsi, who columns under the pen-name Busybee was one of Bal Thackeray’s colleagues.at The Free Pass Journal. In his 1985 column A sort of Maharashtrian Woody Allen” Busybee describes Bal Thackeray as “soft-spoken ... sad-eyed”. Busybee would quote a reporter as saying that Thackeray was “... so timid that if the chair moved under him he would get scared” From those early days Balasaheb Thackeray would be one who said (according to his barber) a few days from his death “Those who say I am under ventilator should know I am still capable of putting hundreds like them under their own ventilators”.
Young Bal Thackeray sitting in his desk (Fig 1, top left) near a verandah frequented often by his colleagues going to the toilet, was amongst a crowd of Anglohiles (mainly south Indian) and Gujarati Businessmen. He smoked cigars and cheroots (“because of Churchill”) in those days hoping perhaps to smoke out what he heard. His fondness for western style made him switch to a pipe (Fig 1) which, like most of us who tried to do it, “he does not know how to pack and light and keep going” Busybee). Thackeray would also joke and laugh and was evaluated by Busybee as being better than Laxman “in those days ... though no longer”.

Bal Thackeray left the Free Press Journal when Ananthanaryan Hariharan along  with a few others mainly South Indians (including, some say, George Fernandez) to start a newspaper owned by readers.  In those days when Nehru’s socialism was the talk of the town, Hariharan would revolt against “... the treacherous curbs on thought and ideas imposed by the overlords of the press .... (that) has made a mockery of the freedom of press.” Thackeray was the cartoonist as well as the man who could had useful contacts. The team worked eighteen hours a day without salary. By this time Bal Thackeray was married (I have not yet found the wedding day of Bal Thackeray) and had his last son Udhhav Thackeray. By September 1960, Newsday was bankrupt and had to be suspended. Thackeray, and others to seek jobs elsewhere.

I have looked at some of Thackeray’s cartoons. A typical (not one I like best) is shown on the top of Fig 2. Some of the highlights of his cartoons from his Marathi-language magazine (based on Punch) is given at http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-different-strokes-of-bal-thackeray/20121119.htm. The beauty of a cartoon lies in the eyes of the reader and I guess the ordinary India reader likes the cartoon to be like a kabuki theatre with lots of ingredients and plots and counter plots. I suppose Bal Thackeray catered to this option. My tastes are more of the New Yorker types (bottom of Fig 3) more because I am familiar with the idioms and situations of western life than I am of (nothing to be proud of) things in most Indian language.

language.
It has to be remembered that in those early days after independence filled with the idea being a nation of united people, narrow parochial/provincial considerations were not encouraged in public thinking. However, the late 1950s and early 1960s saw the beginning of movements across India that gave force to local worries and along with it to less lofty global ideals. In a highly spiritualised world (driven more by mortal war than by peace), the local family is merged with the global problem. In more peaceful times when advertisements for materials goods become important, then disparities between local communities and global ones become the driving force for building political will. So it was after the freedom was was over (if not won). Localisation of issues started. Materialistic local issues takes over from global (loftier?) ones.

There seems to be a set of people who insist on gaining prominence either by being (what they think) a shepherd to their flock of sheeps or by being generals of slaughter and ethnic cleansing. One usually thinks that Gandhi (the original one) is one of the former and Hitler is an (if only the more contemporary) example of the latter. In the Indian Political scene after Independence the Gandhian way seemed to be more effective in bringing about changes. In later times the politics of violence has seen results. We have reached the materialistic stage.

There are other movements that set an earlier background for the Shiv Sena movement. First of all, Potti Sriraulu’s demands separating the Andhra region from the Madras Presidency, Communists force him to keep his word on starvation to death. Periyar’s Dravida Kazhagam (DK) protests on the imposition of Hindi language (and culture) on the Tamilians. It spawns DMK (the M standing for Munnetra which in Tamil means progressive probably); and then AIDMK (the AI stands for All India probably because its founder was MGRamachandran was born of non-Tamil Keralite parents).

The Samyukta Maharashtra movement followed, I think, slightly later with Kesar Sitaram Thackeray (or Prabodhankar Thackeray) the father of Balram Thackeray being one of the leading activists. The leading lights of this movement were from Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) community, The Samyukta Mahrashtra movement serves its purpose of making a Maharashtrian state but then loses its purpose; Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena movement comes up next trying various ways of removing hurdles that seemed to hinder the progress of the local Marathi people, the sons of the soil. The famous Maratha king Chatrapati Shivaji becomes their icon so that Shiv Sena is like a Shivaji Brigade. The sons of the soil policy is later pushed more aggressively by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) of Raj Thackeray, Bal Thackeray’s nephew.  

Keshav “Prabodhankar” Thackeray

Bal Thackeray must have inherited the strong social values from his father Kesari Sitaram Thackeray, the person in the Thackeray family I most identify with. He is more popularly known as Prabodhankar Thackeray because of the articles he wrote in the magazine Prabodhan and other magazines. From what little I have read about Prabodhankar Thackeray or heard about him from my literate Marathi friends, Prabodhankar Thackeray would have been one of my heroes if I had known about him in the days of one’s life when one had heroes.

Besides Bal Thackery, his son Srikant Thackeray, was a musician (he directed Mohammed Rafi in his first Marathi song), knew Urdu the National Language of Pakistan, and was mainly apolitical. Prabodhankar Thackeray must have encouraged liberal arts in his children. Like Bal Thackeray, Srikant Thackeray as well as his son were cartoonists. Uddhav Thackeray had the opportunity to do expensive aerial photography as his hobby, which he was fairly good at. From the lower middle class background of Prabodhankar the rise up the fiscal scale to Uddhav has been impressive. Prabodhankar

Prabodhankar’s typical middle class intellectrual social-reform attitudes saw him opposing the caste systems and in believing in the equality of women. Being born in the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) community there was always a simmering discontent aganst the Brahmin community who dominated the Peshwa rule in the Pune heartland of Maharashtra and would later come to dominate the public life of the then Bombay. It was he who played an important role in uniting the diverse political parties in starting the Samyukta Maharashtra movement to protest the Brahmin and Gujarati domination of Maharashtrian economy.

Most of my accounts on Keshav “Prabodhankar” Thackeray (KT) below is taken from http://prabodhankar.com/node/11/page/ mainly because of my incomplete knowledge of reading Marathi.

The forefathers/foremothers were all valiant ( = brave, courageous, heroic, fearless, noble, gallant, bold; from Thesaurus). KT’s grandfather Dada Bhikhoba Dhodapkar fought against superstition and witchcraft in overcoming epidemics such as plague. When KT was rendered as an untouchable by his community because the shadow of the untouchable fell over him, his grandmother made KT stand under the shadow of a Brahmin to impress upon the community that by their rules KT should now make the low-caste KT a Brahmin. His grandmother’s funeral procession was attended by a large number of people cutting across various communities. KT’s father Sitaram “bala” Thackeray thrust himself as a social activist during plague and made the supreme sacrifice when he succumbed to the disease. At this stage KT had to drop-out from school and abandon his dreams of becoming a lawyer like his maternal grandfather.

This web-site said that KT married in 1910 “… Rama Gupte at Alibaug whom he had met during a stint with Drama company. The couple had  4 sons and 6 daughters.

It was after his father’s death that KT started demonstrating his remarkable capabilities.
To make ends meet for his family he did odd jobs such as making signboard, painting, jobs, repairing machines, and selling gramophones and insurance policies.
Remarkably, he is said to have invented a printing machine to print 50 copies of a magazine even when in school.
He started free-lance writing for magazines, was good at it. He improved his income through journalism and publishing.
Later he joined the Mahatma Phule movement against the oppression of lower castes by Brahmins.
The Maharaja of Kolhapur engaged KT to write against Brahmin propaganda, because of KT’s excellent writing skills.
KT’s writings influence Lokmanya Tilak, the eminent Brahmin leader to start the Ganapathi festival in Pune with the participation of all communities.
KT refused in 1921 a sizeable amount of money (Rs 5000 ~ 5 crores in modern times) during his typhoid illness from the Raja of Kolhapur to write on Hindu scriptures. The king gave him a certificate as “ … the only person who an neither be bought nor bribed.
He pointed out the inaccuracies of Brahmin propaganda against Maratha kings that were designed by the British to divide and rule.
He inspired and motivated Karamveer Bhaurao Patil in his peasant education work.
The first book in Indian language on science education was written by him.
He writes plays, biographies and booklets
His own biography “mazi jivangatha” is a massive work on Maharashtra and is an “important document for historians and researchers.”
He acted in all-time classic films Shyamchi aai, mahatma phule and majhi laxmi.

It was KT who guided his son, Balasaheb Thackeray, when he was with the struggling Newsday magazine, to start the Marathi cartoon magazine Marmik (meaning precise). KT continued to find a path for Balasaheb. It seems (according to the website referred to) it was KT who “conceived everything that is known about Shiv Sena today”. It was natural that KT’s literary and political background should  lead him to conceive of the “son of the soil policy”, and give the slogan “Jai Maharshtra”  for the Shiv Sena. During the navarathri  festival which he started and helped popularise in Mumbai, he is said to have designed the ‘roaring tiger’ (the website says lion) symbol of the Shiv Sena.

Keshav ‘Prabodhankar’ Thackeray was truly a giant of a man, a giant of a Marathi Manoos.
Like his grandmother he deserved a great following. When he breathed his last at the ripe age of 90 his funeral procession was massive by the standards of those days matching the size of that of Ambedkar. It would have been nice to have known him.

The Thakre to Thackeray Change.

IIn giving pride (if any pride was needed to be given)  to the Marathi Manoos it is not necessary that the person doing so is required to be a Maharashtrian even if one knows exactly who is and who is not a Maharashtrian before one makes a Marathi manoos out of him (even if he was already a full manoos). A controversial statement by Digvijay Singh, is that in page 45 of volume 5 of the biography “Prabodhankar Thackeray Samagra Wangma” of Bal Thackeray's father, the Thakre family came from Magadh in Bihar. Digvijay Singh’s comment that the Thackeray family belonged to Bihar or Madhya Pradesh before they migrated to Mumbai  or to Raj Thackeray’s counter that Thackeray’s family roots are in the Pali village of Bhor District in Pune are immaterial in the context of the making of the Marathi manoos.  After all, it takes one generation of being an USAmerican before being president of USA! It is not sure, however, whether the Thackerays will admit that it would require one generation in Maharashtra to become a Marathi.


The Thackerays or Thakres should be from the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) community, originally from Kashmir. They were labelled as brave helpers of Maharshtra by Shivaji in his version of “I Have a dream” (Mala Ek Swapna Ahe) speech. This community is said to be (by some) of Kashmiri origin and came to Maharshtra before the 13th century AD and were known to have controlled forts.  Keshav Thackeray, the father of Bal Thackeray, would write that although they were from the Pali village of Bhor, some of them were assigned the job (kiladhar, title given by Muslim ruler to the custodian of their forts) of protecting Dhodap fort near Nashik. These people had the name Dhodapkars while the immediate family stuck to the name of Thakre/Thackeray. Keshav Thackeray’s great-grandfather Krishnaji Madhav was from Pali, Rajgad where there is the Sarasgad fort. His son, Ramachand “Bhikoba” Dhodapkar, moved to Panvel and had a son Sitaram Panvelkar.

It was Sitaram’s a son, Keshav who changed his surname from Thakre to Thackeray because of his admiration for the English author, William Makepeace Thackeray. I suppose, because of the British influence at that time it was fashionable to anglicize names just as we would have changed, say, Hari Puttar to Harry Potter (?).

The William Makepeace Thackeray History
As a student of an Anglo-Indian school, I was familiar with the name Thackeray through William Thackeray’s work, Vanity Fair and later his delightful book  “A Book of Snobs”. Although I was vaguely aware of William Thackeray having some connection with India, I became aware, after a search of the internet, that he was actually born in Alipur, Calcutta in July 1811. But the interesting connection comes with his father Richmond Thackeray, who entered the service of the East India company at the age of sixteen in 1797 and later became the collector of the twenty-four paraganas, where he died in service in 1815. The Thackerays are an illustrious family of Yorkshire origin. A Thomas Thackeray the great grandfather of the author William Makepeace Thackeray was headmaster of Harrow and whose youngest son William Thackeray was also in the East India company. The second son of William Thackeray is Richmond Thackeray.  

Richmond Thackeray married Anne Becher on 13th October 1810 and promptly had their only child, the author William Thackeray, just nine months later (Fig 2; is there a cricket bat below Richmond’s chair?). Richmond Thackeray’s appetite had earlier manifested itself by 1804 when he fathered a daughter, Sarah, by an Eurasian mistress, Charlotte Sophia Rudd, the mother and daughter being named in his will. When Sarah died, her annuity reverted to William. Although Charlotte was reportedly buried I could not find when she died or where. I suppose the mistress and the daughter would have got the Thackeray family name (Charlotte’s spouse is listed as Richmond Thackeray; Sarah married as Sarah Redfield Thackeray). The annuity would have had some influence in their becoming part of the British camp during their travels with the East India Company and later.

The Dhodap fort from which the Dhodapkar/Thackeray families came itself has an intriguing history. The Dhodap fort is supposed to have been occupied by moghuls in the early 17th century. It is under the Peshwas between 1768 until 1818 when a surrender treaty was signed there in 1818, A description of the Dhodap village gives “The village consists of a few houses of Ladsakka Vanis and Shimpis, who do a little business in loans and grain or cloth. The remainder of the population is chiefly of Pardeshi or Bengal origin, with a Brahman or two and a goldsmith. …”
I find some resemblance between the Marathi Thackerays and the Yorkshire Thackerays. If you have not noticed it as yet, there seems to be some facial resemblance (Fig 1 bottom left) between William Makepeace Thackeray, the author and Raj Thackeray. Richmond Thackeray seems to be (Fig 2) a tall gangling man more resembling Balasaheb than Raj.
Should the Yorkshire Thackerays trace their origin as descendants of Kashmiri/Maharshtrian Thakres?

As a footnote, the story of Anne-Becher itself is fairly romantic. Before she married Richmond Thackeray she was in love with one Henry Carmichael-Smyth a military man. Smyth was not approved by the family and she was sent off to India to marry Richmond Thackeray.  However, she unexpectedly met the supposedly dead Smyth at a dinner hosted by Richmond. She became happily married to Smyth eighteen months after Richmond died, lived happily in England after 1820 and survived her son’s death. 

William Makepeace Thackeray Literature.
I have little idea what Keshav “Prabodhankar” Thackeray found in the English literature of William Thackeray that influenced KT in his writing, or his philosophy, or to even change his name. There could have been a Calcutta influence as he was in Calcutta for some time according to Wikipedia.

The book that immediately comes to mind, of course, is Vanity Fair. I remember (I was too young at that time to pick up subtleties that he intended) that he made remarkably long sentences. I was “told” to like the Ernest Hemingway style and so I found Thackeray not fashionable.

William Thackeray would write about the “guile-less and good-natured” Amelia which is peobably better read as some sort of liberated blank verse.

As she is not a heroine,
there is no need to describe her person;
indeed I am afraid that her nose
was rather short than otherwise,
and her cheeks a great deal too round and red for a heroine;
but her face blushed with rosy health,
and her lips with the freshest of smiles,
and she had a pair of eyes which sparkled
with the brightest and honestest good-humour,
except indeed when they filled with tears,
and that was a great deal too often;
for the silly thing would cry
over a dead canary-bird;
or over a mouse,
that the cat haply had seized upon;
or over the end of a novel,
were it ever so stupid;
and as for saying an unkind word to her,
were any persons hard-hearted enough to do so
--why, so much the worse for them.

Prabodhankar Thackeray may have been influenced by Thackeray’s columns The Snobs of England in the Punch magazine when he asked Bal Thackeray to start Marmik magazine. In his “A book of snobs” compiled from this series of articles, I could not readily find great literature except a satire that could be termed as subtle and seemed to be repetitive. The sentences were not long.

Diddloff is a dandy
who would die of a rose
in aromatic pain:
he had tried to have me assassinated
three times
in the course of the negotiation;
but of course we were friends in public,
and saluted each other
in the most cordial and charming manner.


Prabodhankar’s views on caste systems may have been reinforced/influenced by Thackeray’s piece on Lordolatory after he heard two snobs conversing after a sermon:

 “This incident gave me more matter for reflection even than the sermon and wonderment at the extent and prevalence of Lordolatory in this country. What could it matter to Snob whether his Reverence were chaplain to his Lordship or not? What Peerage-worship there is all through this free country! How we are all implicated in it, ... The increase, encouragement, and maintenance of Snobs are among the 'priceless services,' as Lord John Russell says, which we owe to the nobility.
It can't be otherwise. A man becomes enormously rich, or he jobs successfully in the aid of a Minister, or he wins a great battle, or executes a treaty, or is a clever lawyer who makes a multitude of fees and ascends the bench; and the country rewards him for ever with a gold coronet (with more or less balls or leaves) and a title, and a rank as legislator.'Your merits are so great,' says the nation, 'that your children shall be allowed to reign over us, in a manner. It does not in the least matter that your eldest son ... have the reversion of your honours when death vacates your noble shoes. If you are poor, we will give you such a sum of money as shall enable you and the eldest-born of your race for ever to live in fat and splendour. It is our wish that there should be a race set apart in this happy country, who shall hold the first rank, have the first prizes and chances in all government jobs and patronages.”

Since I fondly remember the zillions of times I madly fell in one-sided love in my youth, I like this piece from the Virginians (set in quasi blank verse)

What?
You fancy that your sweet mistress,
your spotless spinster,
your blank maiden
just out of the schoolroom,
never cared for any but you?
And she tells you so?
Oh, you idiot!
When she was four years old
she had a tender feeling
towards the Buttons
who brought the coals up to the nursery,
or the little sweep at the crossing,
or the music-master,
or never mind whom.
She had a secret longing
towards her brother's schoolfellow,
or the third charity boy at church,
and if occasion had served,
the comedy enacted with you
had been performed along with another.
I do not mean to say
that she confessed this amatory sentiment,
but that she had it.
Lay down this page,
and think how many and many and many a time
you were in love
before you selected the present Mrs. Jones as the partner
of your name and affections!

The counterfoil to this is from Vanity Fair:
When men of a certain sort, ladies, 
are in love, 
though they see the hook and the string, 
and the whole apparatus 
with which they are to be taken, 
they gorge the bait nevertheless
--they must come to it
--they must swallow it—
and are presently struck 
and landed gasping.


William Makepeace Thackeray (WMT) had the fortune to be born into his family fortune just as Bal Thackeray had the fortune tob born into his father’s fame. There are other similarities. WMT was not interested in academics leaving university at the age of eighteen, met Goethe during his travels abroad, tried studying law and gave it up. He came into his inheritance at twenty one, gambled most of it away squandered some of it by financing two unsuccessful newspapers which he thought he would write for, lost his remaining fortune due to collapse of two Indian banks, tried professional art to support himself. He settled down at twenty-four after marriage and three daughters when he was forced to write for a living.

He produced art criticism, fictional sketches, wrote two long fictional workers befor he joined Punch through his connection to John Lech the famouch Punch magazine cartoonist and illustrator (see figure above). He wrote Vanity Fair in serialized instalments like most authors at that time, and almost immediately became a celebrity comparable to Dickens for the next decade.

It seems reasonable to conclude that William Makepeace Thackeray’s life set some example for the development of the Father-son-Sena Thackerays as columnists and cartoonist. It may takes immediate temper to become violent. It also takes considerable learning to desist from violence.

As WMT says at the end of the first chapter of his Book of Snobs
By the way, as some readers are dull of comprehension, I may as well say what the moral of this history is. The moral is this—Society having ordained certain customs, men are bound to obey the law of society, and conform to its harmless orders.

For generations hereafter

It has been said that whenever one sees a great ending be sure of a great beginning and not the other way around. A great beginning does not make a great end.

Gerson da Cunha has noted in his book “The Origin of Bombay” that “The history of Bombay tends to show that the prosperity of a family seldom outlives the limited space of three generations.
If the Thackeray prosperity began with the hard work of Prabodhankar Thackeray then the third generation of Uddhav and Raj Thackeray have an worrying responsibility on their shoulders.

If the Prabodhan (enlightenment) is to last seven generations from Prabodhankar Thackeray’s grandfather’s time then the prabodhan has to last till Bal Thackeray’s great grandchildren’s times. It will be important that the prabodhan lasts that long. Not perhaps for the sake of the ordinary Marathi manoos --- they would have been globally plasticised by that time --- but for the Marathi prabodhan of the Thakres which is not expected to be different from that of enlightened persons anywhere.  

Four years ago nearing midnight hours, after a tiring meal-less day doing hospital work, I was looking for a cheap dining place a little outside Aarey milk colony near Prabodhankar Thakre flyover. I could not find a middle-class Maharshtrian restaurant open at that time of the day. I asked an auto-rickshaw (maharashtrian) driver whether he could take me to such a restaurant nearby. He said there is no such place that will be open at that time. So I asked him where would he go. To this he replied that people like him carry their own home-made food. They don’t like eating in restaurants.

I fully appreciated his viewpoint and I immediately understood the discipline and the need of the famous dabbawallahs of Mumbai.  I got a glimpse into the real Marathi manoos. It was not the language!

It is important that this quality of the Marathi manoos lasts for all generations



1 comment:

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