G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Monday, December 21, 2009

100 Years After Pandit A M T Jackson, a good Topivalla

December 21, 2009 is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the collector of Nashik, A M T Jackson, of the Indian Civil Service, by Anant Kanhere (अनंत कान्हेरे), using a revolver sent by V D Savarkar (वि दा सावरकर) from England, at Vijayanand theatre where he had gone to watch famous Marathi play Sangeet Sharada (संगीत शारदा) by G B Deval (गो. ब. देवल). Jackson was first shot in the back and then in the front. He died on the spot.

I have yet to read a detailed history of that episode.

Y D Phadke (य दि फडके) has a chapter dedicated to it in his book 'Shodh Savarkarancha', 1984 ('शोध सावरकरांचा').

There I learnt Jackson was shot just before the play started, Bal Gandharva (बालगंधर्व) and Nanasaheb Joglekar (नानासाहेब जोगळेकर) were actors in it.

I have not read the feelings of Bal Gandharva or Nanasaheb Joglekar about this horrific incident. Or the reaction of the paying public. I wonder if they got their ticket money back if the performance was cancelled! And even if they did, I am sure, many must be deeply disappointed that, thanks to Kanhere, they missed the show. I would have been for sure.

Kanhere and his two colleagues paid twelve annas each for the ticket.

Book also says that Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj (राजर्षी शाहू महाराज), ruler of Kolhapur, had warned the British government in 1906 about the possibility of extreme violence because of the views of Brahmins from the districts of Kolhapur, Belgao, Nashik and Pune.

But Phadke's book doesn't have much information on the scholarship or life of Jackson.

Following is the account of the case that is available on the website of Bombay High Court:

"...Unlike other English district officers, he (Jackson) was sympathetic towards Indian aspirations, was a student of Sanskrit, and generally was popular as a man of learning and culture.

It was his interest in Indian history and culture, which induced him to attend the performance of a Marathi drama at Nasik. During an interval in the performance, a young Brahmin student of Aurangabad, named Anant Kanhere, stepped forward, drew out a pistol and shot Mr. Jackson through the heart at point blank range.

The murder created a great deal of sensation in Nasik, Poona and Bombay; and it even created consternation in the ranks of Indian Nationalists, because of Jackson's reputation as a very sympathetic and popular district officer.

Many Indians could not understand why such a good man ("good Topivalla ", as such Englishmen were called in those days) was singled out for such a dastardly murder. But it seems that there was a school of extremists at the time, who believed perversely that, these "good Topivallas" were really more dangerous than officers of the type of Dyer and O'Dwyer, for instance; for, it is the good popular government officials who reconcile Indians to foreign rule..."

Don't be appalled by this pervert logic. A lot more nonsense goes around in India of hundred years later.

The journal of the Anthropological Society of Bombay‎ wrote: "The Society records its deep sense of grief for death of one of its most learned members,AMT Jackson, ICS."

"In an interesting essay in the Empire Review for September 1907, Mr. A M T Jackson has shown how the traditional Hindu Kingship- the political ideal which the genius of warrior Sivaji sought to revive and which the intriguing spirit of Brahman Peshwas effectually shattered..." (from 'The people of India' By Herbert Risley, William Crooke)

Was it just a coincidence that he was killed by a Brahmin?

Bimanbehari Majumdar: "...Jackson was a learned Indologist. He contributed many interesting papers on Indian history and culture and was popularly known as Pandit Jackson..." (Militant nationalism in India and its socio-religious background, 1897-1917)

Sir John Cumming: "...the late Mr. A M T Jackson drew out attention to 'the attractive power of Hindu civilization, which has enabled it to assimilate and absorb into itself every Foreign invader except the Moslem and European..." ('Revealing India's Past')

(Savarkar of 1909 and M A Jinnah of later years would have agreed with Jackson's views on lack of assimilation of Muslims. It also shows how Europeans had now transcended 'White Mughals' phase. It was the phase, documented most notably by William Dalrymple, in which they tried to assimilate.)

On Google Books I found following books by A M T Jackson:

"Folk Lore Notes: Vol. II - Konkan‎

Folk lore notes: Compiled from materials collected by the late A. M. T. Jackson. R. E. Enthoven, Volume 1

Folklore notes from Gujarat and the Konkan‎

Folklore of Gujarat‎

Folklore Notes V2: Konkan (1915)"


I remember to have read Durga Bhagwat (दुर्गा भागवत) writing that the chase of Jackson's valuable library was entrusted to the Royal Asiatic Society, Mumbai.

I don't know what family Jackson left behind. Wife, kids, parents?

In Frontline dated Sep. 12-25, 2009, A.R. VENKATACHALAPATHY has written about the assassination of Robert William Escourt Ashe on June 17, 1911.

I was most moved by this family photo of Ashe's.



PICTURE FROM THE ASHE FAMILY ALBUM/

COURTESY ROBERT ASHE and Frontline