Rammohun keeps his prestige1

The Governor-General of India was an Englishman named Lord Bentinck. He was very strict and everybody was frightened to death at the very mention of his name.

Raj Rammohun Ray at this time was very well known as a man of knowledge and a great patriot. He was also a linguist who knew many languages.

One day, the Governor-General sent a messenger to Rammohun with the message: “The Governor-General wants to see you immediately.”

Rammohun said to the messenger: “I know he is the Governor-General of India, but that does not mean that I have to listen to him and come immediately.”

The messenger was shocked. “What do you mean?” he said.

“I will come if I have to, but in my own time,” said Rammohun.

“I cannot believe this,” said the messenger. “Even in my dreams I would not be able to believe this kind of thing. You Indians are at our feet, and yet you are acting so proud and haughty. You will see what kind of punishment you will get from Lord Bentinck.”

Rammohun only said, “I am fully prepared. I know what kind of punishment I shall get, but also I know what I have to do with a foreign boss.”

On hearing the story, Lord Bentinck became furious. But he said to himself, “By becoming furious, what am I going to accomplish. I need some help from Raj Rammohun Ray, so let me be wise. Since I am the needy one, I have to be very careful.”

He wrote a very polite letter to Rammohun: “I am ready to see you at any time that is convenient for you. I will send my car to bring you here. Please let me know when you can come. I will be extremely happy and honoured to receive you.”

The messenger came with the letter, and as soon as Rammohun read it, he said, “I am ready to see the Governor-General.”

Rammohun explained to Bentinck when he saw him, “My skin may be dark, but I do have my own sense of prestige. You asked for me to come to see you immediately, but I did not come because my pride and prestige were hurt. When you wrote me a polite letter, then I felt sympathy for you. You may feel that the Indians are inferior, but you cannot treat us in that way.”

The Governor-General shook hands with Rammohun and agreed, “I know it is absolutely necessary to preserve one’s prestige. It was wrong on my part to address you in that way.”

Rammohun said, “Your nobility has touched the very depths of my heart.”

Wherever Rammohun went, he played the role of a leader most successfully. Everybody admired and adored him. The great poet Tagore wrote of him, “He is the traveller of India.”

Indeed, Rammohun was the traveller who spread India’s love-message, wisdom-message and oneness-message all over the world.

GIM 81. 21 January 1979