It was June 30, 2008, when the historic city of Bhopal witnessed the presence of prominent Hindu spiritual leaders and politicians to bless the BJP prime ministerial candidate Shri L.K. Advani. The occasion was the release of the Hindi version of his autobiography Mera Desh Mera Jeevan. The spiritual leaders included Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living, Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev, RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri Suresh Soni and top BJP leaders from all over the country. The original version of the book was My country My Life, which was released three months ago in Delhi.
The book was released at a grand function in the presence of more than three thousand five hundred people assembled at Lal Parade Ground. The lake city was splashed with hoardings, banners, posters with Shri Advani'sphoto and cover of the book. On the occasion, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan accorded a warm welcome to Shri Advani and his invitees from Delhi. Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shri Sundarlal Patwa and senior BJP leader Dr Kailash Joshi also greeted the occasion, besides Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Karnataka Chief Minister Shri B.S. Yeddiurappa and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh. Other leaders present on the occasion included prominent BJP MPs, Shri Balbir Punj, Shri Pyarelal Khandelwal, Shri Rajiv Prasad Ruddy, Shri Chandan Mitra, Shri Prabhat Jha, Shri Navjot Singh Sidhu, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, BJP state president, Madhya Pradesh, Shri Anil Dave, general secretary, Madhya Pradesh, BJP and all prominent persons from Madhya Pradesh.
Releasing the book Sri Sri Ravi Shankar praised Shri Advani for his dedicated life for the cause of the nation and said that the title of the book Mera Desh Mera Jeevan itself gives a loud and clear message that if someone'slife is linked to the cause of the nation, then it becomes a devout for an individual. ?Shri Advani has chosen an appropriate title of the book?, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar added. He further said that if an individual is not attached to the cause of the nation or any divine cause, then the life is not worthy to live and one feels helpless. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar exhorted the audience that if an individual is not emotionally attached to the society, then he cannot have any memoir or autobiography. He said, a selfish person cannot have any autobiography. Today there is hardly any individual, who has analysed his own life, or has made any contribution to the cause of our nation, he stated. He remarked that in today'ssociety, there needs to be a memoir like the one written by Shri Advani, which is very useful in a situation, where injustice is happily accepted, punishment is accepted as the part of the life, and ideology has become a crime. Stating that the book describes that both kamal (lotus) and Smt Kamla Advani (Shri Advani'swife) have very close association with Shri Advani'slife, he said that only a brave heart like Shri Advani can write the truth of his life like an open book. Replying the repeated media queries about his presence on the occasion, he said: ?I would attend more such functions if it could benefit the nation. I am unable to understand as to why a taboo is attached to politics.?
Reacting sharply to the controversy going on in the allotment of the land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, he said: ?Politics should not be allowed to interfere in spiritual and religious yatras. Even the timing of the yatras and how long it should be, left to the dharmacharyas and not to the government. There is no logic (in the protests in the Valley) against giving some land. Interest of all communities should be protected and there should not be any dual attitude in dealing with different communities.?
Speaking on the occasion, the celebrated Yoga Guru, Baba Ramdev said that he is always with those who are working in the interest of the nation. ?Shri Advani is a true patriot and there is no problem in attending a function with him. There is nothing wrong to share the dais with those who are true thinkers and nationalists. My aim is to make a healthy and prosperous India,? Baba Ramdev said. He made it clear that he did not believe in untouchability and he would accept everybody'sinvitation except that of People'sDemocratic Party (PDP). Baba Ramdev advocated the cause of a swadeshi concept in our country and requested every Indian to realise the dream of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to make our country a great nation. ?We all should work to retrieve the past glory of great India,? he emphasised.
Describing the PDP as deshdrohi, Baba Ramdev said that a deliberate attempt has been made to give a communal colour to the Amarnath Yatra when ?even a communist China is willing to create facilities for Hindu pilgrims visiting Mansarovar?. There is nothing wrong in allotting a piece of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board. Today everything that is for the interest of the Hindus has been given a communal colour, which is very unfortunate. Specially, the religious yatras should not be given a communal colour. Even China has been kind enough to give a piece of land to our revered Swami Chidananda for building an ashram, he stated.
RSS Sahsarkaryavah, Shri Suresh Soni praised Shri Advani'strue effort in writing the past, present and future of our country. He said that the book has a description of our glorious past to analyse the present situation so as to have a better future for tomorrow. Shri Advani, truly imbibed with the samskars of the RSS family, has reached the present position. He opined that the book has rightly mentioned about Shri Advani'seffort on kickstarting a debate on true secularism and the basics of nationalism, and Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee has mentioned it in his preface in the book. Speaking on the Amarnath Yatra issue, Shri Soni said that it is very unfortunate that in a country, where respect is paid to the feelings of minorities, where our Prime Minister is ready to beg excuse on a cartoon made by a cartoonist, but on the issue of Amarnath Yatra neither the PM nor any secularist is ready to give any comment. He emphasised that time has come when we need to start a movement to strengthen the basics of nationalism and to clarify the confusion between the true secularism (panth-nirapekshta) and pseudo-secularism (chhadam panth-nirapekshta).
The author of the book Shri L.K. Advani started his speech with an emotive approach. Shri Advani gets overwhelmed with tears if anyone praises him too much and when he feels he does not deserve so much of applause. Tears were rolling down his cheeks when distinguished speakers showered praise on him. Shri Advani said: ?Newspapers often publish pictures of mine in tears. The fact is I feel extremely embarrassed when somebody praises me too much or says something that is very emotional and sees in me qualities that I never knew I had. But I always pray to God that I should not gather a false impression of myself when people heap praises on me. Things can go awry because of sycophancy, which can be dangerous. Whatever I have gone through has made me what I am.? He credited his daughter Smt Pratibha Advani for giving the title of the book.
Giving credit to his own family and the RSS family, Shri Advani claimed that his family along with the RSS had helped in shaping his political career and today he has reached this position due to them. ?The RSS contributed to my ideological thinking, while my family imbibed cultural traditions. Experience has taught me a lot,? he said remembering his days in jails during the Emergency.
Comparing the Emergency declared by the then Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi with that imposed by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, the senior BJP leader underlined the importance of ?two? in his life. During the Emergency, he said, he had penned a pamphlet titled Two Emergencies on the basis of the thoughts that inspired him while he was studying in college, the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. A tale of two temples signifies the similarity of Somnath temple and Ayodhya temple, while the tale of two families relates to the influence on him from two families?the RSS family and his own family. Referring to the presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev on the occasion, Shri Advani said it is also a tale of two saints.
Shri Advani said: ?Only a few people know that the first government led by Pt. Nehru took the decision to construct Somnath temple in Gujarat when Sardar Patel proposed it.? He wondered when the Nehru government could do it why the government led by Rajiv Gandhi and others could not do it. Shri Advani clarified that minor mistakes have been carried out in his earlier English edition?My Country My Life.
Speaking on the occasion, senior BJP leader Smt Sushma Swaraj asked: ?Cannot a piece of land be given to create some temporary shelters for Hindus on Amarnath pilgrimage?? This is nothing but a battle between pseudo-secularism and real secularism, which signifies respect for all faiths, she added.
Presiding over the function, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the book Mera Desh Mera Jeevan is not only a smriti granth but a prakash granth and contains answers to many questions related to past, present and future of our country. Showering praise on Shri Advani for his uncompared personality, Shri Chouhan assured the Prime Minister-in-waiting to keep his faith on the public of Madhya Pradesh.
Dr Achyutananda Mishra, Vice Chancellor of Makhanlal Chaturvedi Journalism University, also spoke at length on the book and said that the memoir would be placed in the first row of autobiography. Smt Pratibha Advani, daughter of Shri L.K. Advani, proposed a vote of thanks on the occasion.