This is one of a series of heaven-based stories, written as fantasy yet very relevant to our times. The first part of the series appeared in Countercurrents.org dated December 11, 2020 under the title ‘ Mahatma Gandhi Returns to Earth’.
Gandhi had managed to get the clearance from heaven authorities for his one-day visit to Earth ,but after returning from there his restlessness increased even more.
Kasturba was not pleased. She admonished him—I told you to stay restfully here only, but do you ever follow my good advice?
Gandhi sneaked into the corner where the cloud-line phone was kept. He tried never to use the mobile phone, and in fact was already organizing a resistance to mobile phone towers and 5G technology in heaven.
Satyavan, his young disciple, was excited.
Oh, he replied from the other side of the phone, I had been waiting to renew my contact with you Bapu Ji.
Satyavan, your guidance was invaluable during the short earth journey. I now need your help once more.
Anytime, Bapu Ji. Always at your service.
You must help me to organize a meeting with Shahid Bhagat Singh.
Oh! It was evident from the tone that Satyavan was now as excited as he was at the time of earth-visit with Mahatma Gandhi.
But first you must get in touch with Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, and the meeting should be organized with his mediation at his home. Then all will go well.
Young Satyavan was not so familiar with Vidyarthi and so Bapu had to explain further.
–He was a very brave and wise leader who got equal respect from my followers as well as the followers of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. He is just the right man to organize this meeting. In his presence all will go well, and your task will become much easier.
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had led a very hectic life on earth, one foot in his newspaper office, one foot in freedom movement, yet he found time for so many other highly needed activities as well. His only regret then was not being able to find adequate time for his wife and family members whom he loved so much.
So in heaven he had been making up for this, spending more time with family. Still he had somehow found the time to start a bulletin on the problems of workers of heaven and was also the patron of the first trade union organized in heaven.
He was very happy to accept the request of Gandhi to organize a meeting with Bhagat Singh and rang up Bhagat, with whom he had remained in touch ever since they both entered heaven on almost the same day in the last week of March 1931.
Bhagat Singh had been very engrossed in reading the World History of Movements of Peasants and Workers, a copy of which he had procured from the library of the study-group he had set up in heaven. But of course he was happy at the prospect of meeting Mahatma Gandhi and agreed very readily to come to the home of Vidyarthi for this purpose.
It took some time for Mrs. and Mr.Vidyarthi to plan the proper meal for Bhagat Singh and Mahatma Gandhi. Finally they decided on plenty of rasagullas (a juicy sweet) with rose essence for Bhagat Singh and khichdi (pulse-rice gruel) with a dash of lemon and orange juice for Mahatma Gandhi. A peculiar mix, but the different food choices of the two great visitors had to be respected!
On the stipulated day when Bhagat Singh entered the simple home of Vidyarthi, he found that the ever-punctual Gandhi was already there with Satyavan. As he was trying to bend to touch his feet, Gandhi prevented him and said in an emotion-choked voice—no son, first let me apologize for being less than just towards you in our earth days. This has been a burden on my heart for a long time.
What are you saying Bapu Ji. I have always respected you so much. Please do not ever again speak of an apology as this will be too embarrassing for me. I grew up in a family which taught me to respect all great elders, and we all respected you. During earth days we both had our compulsions due to which something in opposition may have been said, but that is all in the past.
They continued to talk along similar lines for some time, but then Vidyarthi interrupted them. He said—Now let us please come to the main task of the day. Bapu Ji took the initiative to organize this meeting and he must kindly explain the agenda.
Gandhi replied—A few days back I became very restless on hearing the reports of what was happening on earth, and more particularly in India. So I obtained a special permission of heaven authorities for one day non-interfering inspection ( NII) of India. Satyavan, a brave activist on earth who had just come to heaven, was my guide during this trip. He will give you a brief description of the visit.
Bhagat Singh along with Mrs. and Mr. Vidyarthi listened with rapt attention as Satyavan described the eventful visit.
Then Gandhi spoke—As Satyavan just explained, the best results were being achieved by activists when our followers were working together. Ever since we returned, I have been thinking of contacting Bhagat Singh so that we can explore the possibility of releasing a joint statement that our followers should work together to bring justice, equality , communal harmony, simplicity, social commitment, peace and environment protection to India, as well as to resist the forces of communalism, exploitation, injustice, inequality and domination of a few billionaires and multinational companies , just as colonial rule was resisted in our times.
Vidyarthi replied–It is a great idea Bapu Ji, but what will come out of this? As we all know, there is a firm rule in heaven that we the residents of heaven cannot intervene in any earthly affairs. So the joint statement you prepare will just remain here and will have no impact on earth or earthly events.
Gandhi responded—One of the most valuable lessons I learnt in my eventful life is that no good effort is ever wasted. When the prospect of a noble deed is before us, let us just go ahead and accomplish this, without bothering much whether it will give definite tangible benefit or not.
Great, Vidyathi responded excitedly, let us just do this. Let this humble abode of ours be the site of a historic task.
Gandhi continued in emotion-choked voice –The people of India led by Subhash Bose showered so much love on me that they gave me the title of Father of Nation. I do not know if I deserve this, but there is even greater reason for calling Bhagat Singh the Son of Nation or the Son of India. Of course just as the honor was not just for me but for my close colleagues as well, similarly the honor is not just for Bhagat but for his close comrades as well. I know how fond Subhash Bose was of Bhagat Singh, so he too would be very pleased if I call Bhagat Singh the Son of Nation.
Vidyarthi clapped, then said– So let us now prepare the joint message of the Father of Nation and Son of Nation. Satyavan, please take notes.
Bhagat Singh said—Please write in the joint statement that that all those who respect us, our work and thoughts, should work together with growing unity, without being split by any false divides, for creating a country based on justice, equality, unity and harmony of people of all faiths and religions as well as atheists, peace, solidarity with justice-loving people all over the world, protection of environment and habitats. At the same time the forces of exploitation, injustice, inequality, domination of billionaires, communalism, those trying to divide people, forces of imperialism and neo-colonialism should be fought together. Is this all right Bapuji?
Yes, very good, but perhaps where you write that we should work together for protection of environment you should also add protection of all forms of life.
OK Bapuji. Anything else?
Please add that all should make a commitment to contributing to checking the survival threats, or threats to the life-nurturing conditions of earth.
Yes of course, this is most important, we cannot forget this. I also request Vidyarthi Ji to sign the statement as main witness as his name is trusted by all our followers.
Vidyarthi responded—OK Satyavan please make the additions, get our signatures and have the statement distributed among other freedom fighters now residing in heaven. Also get this safely recorded and stored in heaven archives, with the added provision that as and when the rules of heaven permit, this should be sent to earth, ad more particularly to people of India.
So this is where this most important statement remains, in the archives of heavens, not yet reaching Earth and India, where it is needed the most.
Bharat Dogra is a veteran journalist and author. His latest books include Planet in Peril, When The Two Streams Met ( Freedom Movement of India), Azadi Ke Deewanon ki Daastaan ( Hindi biographies), Man Over Machine ( Gandhian perspective on present day issues), Kathin Daur Mein Ummeed ( Hindi poetry) and Sachai Ki Kasam ( Hindi short stories).