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Mainstream, VOL L, No 19, April 28, 2012

Lenin

Monday 30 April 2012, by Jawaharlal Nehru

April 22 this year marked the 142nd birth anniversary of that immortal revolutionary, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. On this occasion we remember him by reproducing the following excerpts from Nehru’s article on him that appeared in The Hindu (April 5, 1928).

‘I know a pair of eyes which have been for ever numbed by the burning sorrow of the Terror,’ said Gorky of Lenin. This sorrow did not leave him to the end. It made him a fierce fanatic and gave him the strength of will to persevere and achieve. But sorrow for the misery of his fellowmen did not make him gloomy or reserved. He was ‘filled to the brim with the sap of life’, and even ‘in the unhappiest moments of his existence, he was serene and always prone to gay laughter’....

...It is difficult for most of us to think of our ideals and our theories in terms of reality. We have talked and written of swaraj for years, but when swaraj comes it will probably take us by surprise. We have passed the independence resolution at the Congress, and yet how many of us realise its full implications? How many belie it by their words and actions? For them it is something to be considered as a distant goal, not as a thing of today or tomorrow. They talk of swaraj and independence in their conferences and their councils but their minds are full of reservations and their acts are feeble and halting.

In Russia also the revolutionaries of an older generation lived in a world of theory, and hardly believed in the realisation of their ideals. But Lenin came with his directness and realism and shook the fabric of old-time orthodox socialism and revolution. He taught people to think that the ideal they had dreamed of and worked for was not mere theory but something to be realised then and there. By an amazing power of will he hypnotised a nation and filled a disunited and demoralised people with energy and determination and the strength to endure and suffer for a cause.

Many had their full share in this remarkable triumph, among them specially Trotsky, who now lies in Siberia. But Lenin stood supreme. Saint or sinner, the miracle was chiefly of his doing.

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