a Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1878-1972), Popularly known as Rajaji, belonged to Salem district in Tamil Nadu. A lawyer by profession he was drawn into the non-violent nationalist movement steered by Mahatma Gandhi and came to be known as his ‘conscience keeper’. He rose to become the Premier of Madras in 1937 and he was the first governor General of independent India, 1948-50. He was also the Chief Minister, 1952-54. He was awarded the highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, in 1955. Rajaji founded the Swatantra Party in 1959. A prolific writer in Tamin and English, he is best known for his books on Mahabharata and Ramayana.
Chakravarti Rajagopalachar, the last Governor General of India, was in the words of his grandson Rajmohan Gandhi, a ‘Prophetic political figure’ who predicted in 1916, the success of Gandhi’s satyagraha in India. A true follower of Gandhi, C.R. or Rajaji (as he was called) gave up a lucrative practice as lawyer to fight for the country’s independence in 1919. He was the one who explained Gandhi’s political move to the Indian public who were often baffled by the strategies the latter adopted. C.R. supplied the reasoning behind them in speeches or in articles in Gandhi’s Young India. Gandhi spoke of C.R. as one of satyagraha’s finest exponents and also as his ‘conscience-keeper’, a remark that underscored their personal relationship.
The Selected Works of C. Rajagopalachari, Vol. I, 1907-21, will be the first in a series of ten volumes in association with the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library on the writings of Rajaji (some never published before) covering the period between 1907 and 1972. The first volume covers the years 1907-21, when Rajaji became involved in the freedom movement in the country. It is a collection of articles, letters he wrote to prominent leaders, letters he wrote to prominent leaders like Gandhi, Gokhale, Vijiaraghavachariar, among others, and to newspapers like The Hindu, Madras Mail and Commonweal. It also comprises telegrams, speeches, ad pamphlets. The collection gives us an insight into his thoughts in the course of his activities as.
It is a privilege to introduce the scholarly community and reading public to the first volume of the Selected Works of C. Rajagopalachari. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji, was one of the most remarkable leaders of the Indian national movement. Born and brought up in humble surroundings, Rajaji rose to an exalted position in public life and became the Governor-General of free India. Mahatma Gandhi called him his 'conscience keeper'. This phrase aptly explains Rajaji's importance in the Indian national movement and in post-Independent India. Rajaji's commitment of conviction was rare and this made him one of the most enigmatic personalities in post-Independent Indian politics. He was an original thinker and a prolific writer on wide ranging issues including politics, economics and literature. His crisp language and wide reading made his views central to public debate even as he retained cultivated relations with political adversaries and allies alike.
The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library has undertaken projects to publish the unpublished speeches and writings of well-known national leaders. We have completed the projects of Selected Works of Motilal Nehru, Selected Works of Acharya Narendra Deva and Selected Works of jayaprakash Narayan. The NMML has now taken up the ambitious project of bringing out the Selected Works of C. Rajagopalachari. We acquired the personal papers of Rajaji from his son C. R. Narasimhan in the 1980s in several instalments. Scholars can now access them in our Archives. This collection has been the major source of material for the preparation of this volume and the subsequent volumes. We have also relied on other collections of Rajaji's contemporaries available in the NMML Archives. We have also collected material from various sources including the Hindu, the Tamil Nadu Archives and Connemara Public Library in Chennai; Tiruchengodu Ashram and Vijayaraghavachariar Memorial Library in Salem; the National Archives of India, New Delhi; Gandhi Samarak Sangrahalaya, Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad; and National Gandhi Museum and Library, New Delhi.
This first volume covers the years 1907-21 and showcases the early years of Rajaji's politically eventful life and the beginning of his life-long association with Mahatma Gandhi as the latter's true disciple and a Satyagrahi. The volume begins with his writings on issues of public interest in the columns of the Hindu and Madras Mail and his correspondence as chairman of the Salem Municipal Council. Rajaji was soon drawn into the nationwide agitation against the Rowlatt Bills under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy in the Punjab that mobilised the entire nation. Besides his speeches and writings as general secretary of the Indian National Congress and a member of the Congress Working Committee, the volume includes hitherto unpublished letters of Rajaji to his contemporaries during this crucial phase of the freedom struggle. The volume concludes with his active participation in the non-cooperation movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi leading to his arrest and incarceration in the Vellore Central Jail in December 1921.
I would like to thank all those who have helped us in preparing this volume. First and foremost our thanks are due to Rajmohan Gandhi for writing an exhaustive and an authoritative Introduction to this volume. I also thank Gopalkrishana Gandhi for his constant support in our efforts to bring out the writings and speeches of Rajaji in the form of Selected Works. Our special thanks are due to N. Ram, Rajendra Babu and Ramanujam of the Hindu for their help and complete cooperation in consulting the Hindu for collecting material for the Rajaji volumes.
My thanks are also due to my co-editors N. Balakrishnan and Deepa Bhatnagar for their tireless work on this volume and finally making it a reality. The members of the research team who worked under the leadership of Deepa Bhatnagar namely, Shilpa Menon, Meenal Kanth and Mukesh Kumar deserve appreciation. I also thank my colleagues in the Manuscripts and Reprography Divisions and in the Library for extending all possible help.
The Chairman of the Executive Council, Karan Singh, other members of the Council and all those who serve on the NMML Society have helped provide and nurture an atmosphere where concentrated study and active research prosper. In its own way, the NMML as an institution sees the Selected Works of C. Rajagopalachari as part of its continuing mission to further the study of modern Indian history and contemporary issues.
We are also grateful to M/s Orient Black Swan for readily agreeing to publish the volumes of the Selected Works of C. Rajagopalachari on behalf of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
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