The holy war

On 20th September, 2011, ex-president of Afghanistan and senior Tajik leader – Mr. Burhanuddin Rabbani was murdered. Mr. Rabbani was a high-profile name when the trouble of Afghanistan started in the late seventies and continued in the eighties. The erstwhile Soviet Union interfered in Afghanistan and her forces did not leave this small country for years. India, despite being a pioneer of the so-called non-aligned movement, could not speak loud against the Soviet intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan because the Soviet Union was our so-called friend. And that friendship overpowered our declared foreign policy. Mr. Rabbani’s murder reminded me of an old Hindi novel penned more than three decades back whose plot is based on these events only. It’s Dharmayuddha (holy war) written by popular Hindi pulp-fiction writer – Ved Prakash Sharma who had a habit of using contemporary phenomena as the plots of his fictional works.Dharmayuddha is a novel of Ved Prakash Sharma’s popular Vijay-Vikas series. The story is set in a fictitious small country – Majlistan (akin to Afghanistan) whose king – Saadaat commits the mistake of seeking the military help of a world superpower – Seminar (akin to the then Soviet Union) to crush certain rebels. However the Seminarian forces do not go back afterwards and a coup is staged to oust him by using a greedy army general – Iblees as a pawn on the chessboard of power. Iblees revolts against Saadaat (because the Seminarian forces are on his back) and usurps power by killing him. Saadaat’s family escapes with the help of a loyal army major – Haashmi. Within a short time-span, the daughter of Saadaat – Mumtaaz and Haashmi with the help of a mysterious ringleader (whom they call Sardaar) gather the patriot youths of Majlistan under an organization titled as Rakt-Tilak. They keep on fighting (like raiders) with the army of Iblees (who has now declared himself as the president of Majlistan) as well as the Seminarian forces just like a war of independence. On the night of the coup, inhuman atrocities were showered on the innocents in Majlistan including loots, destruction of homes, rapes and murders but due to implementation of censorship by the usurpers of power, the world remains ignorant of the truth and only the fabricated news suiting their interests, is telecast to misguide the world community.

India, due to her so-called friendship with Seminar (or the Soviet Union) keeps mum regarding the unjust intervention of Seminar in Majlistan. But when an Indian scientist – Dr. Bhaseen is kidnapped by Rakt-Tilak, she is compelled to do something about the things taking place in Majlistan. Young secret agent of the Indian secret service – Vikas is sent to Majlistan to set Dr. Bhaseen free and bring him back to India. Vikas who is no less than a devil when torturing the enemies on one hand but softer than paraffin in his sensitive heart on the other, is taken aback to know the truth. He sends Dr. Bhaseen back to India and keeps Iblees and others under the wrong impression that he will support them in eliminating Rakt-Tilak. However once Dr. Bhaseen reaches India, he joins hands with Rakt-Tilak against Iblees and the Seminarian representatives who are the real rulers behind him.

Now an official complaint is lodged with the Govt. of India against Vikas and India is presssurized and threatened by Seminar for calling back Vikas and stopping him from doing anything against the Seminarian interests in Majlistan. The Indian Secret Service (under instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs) sends his Guru and senior secret agent – Vijay to counter him. After an interesting tussle between the Guru and the pupil, Vijay is able to bring Vikas back to India. However prior to that Vikas had prepared a pamphlet to make a call to the common public to rise against the enslaving foreign power and the traitor militarymen. That circulation of that pamphlet leads to a large scale revolution by the masses which culminates in change of rule and Mumtaaz’s becoming the president of Majlistan.

The novel is not only very very interesting and provides a peep into the chain of events that took place in Afghanistan during the late seventies but also helps the reader understand how such things take place in small countries and how no revolution can succeed in its mission with foreign help. It underscores the fact that if a revolutionary organization fighting for the liberation of the country from colonial rule, seeks foreign help; it ends up being enslaved by the helping nation now because every such help has a price-tag and there is no free lunch in this world. Hence the moral of the story (given by the author) is that the revolutionaries should be dependent upon the passion of liberty in their hearts and the power of common men instead of any foreign help to be successful in their mission of attaining independence for their country. Else, only the masters will change, the slavery will continue. It also underscores the fact (seen in many neighbouring countries of India) that traitor and greedy military generals backstab their own country to usurp power for themselves. And above all, it has ridiculed India’s hypocritical non-aligned stand which was more or less a hoax because India always presented herself as the sidekick (frankly speaking – CHUMCHA) of the Soviet Union in the days of the cold war.

The author has portrayed the oppression thrown on the common men by the culprits in uniform whenever an upheaval takes places in the country with utmost sensitivity. And such oppression only gives birth to rebels. The height of injustice only forces a simple man (or woman) to take up arms and turn into a rebel. And thereafter the complete machinery, instead of ensuring justice, becomes thirsty of his / her blood.

Despite several authorial liberties taken by the writer, the novel makes an enchanting reading. The activities of Vikas and later on the Guru-Shishya tussle are damn interesting. Vijay is also good at heart (and he loves Vikas very much) but unlike Vikas, he maintains that a spy should keep himself above emotions and his top priority should be the interest of his country (and not humanity or other noble things). The novel also features international criminal – Alphaanse who is a stock character of Vijay-Vikas series of Ved Prakash Sharma.

The title of the novel is Dharmayuddha because Vikas categorizes his rebellion against his bosses and his own country (in favour of the wounded humanity in Majlistan) as a holy war. It is also shown quite impressively that clean-hearted and innocent Vikas himself becomes a pawn in the hands of the cunning players in the field who are only interested in grinding their own axes through exploitation of his noble thoughts and feelings. The novel is full of sentiments also. The scene in which Mumtaaz indirectly expresses her love for Vikas, is very touching.

Dharmayuddha is a more than three decades old novel but does not look outdated when read today. It serves the dual purpose of entertaining as well as making understand the international politics. I recommend it wholeheartedly to all the Hindi readers. Pulp fiction novels were looked upon derogatorily when it was published but quality-wise it is much superior to several so-called literary works.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The holy war

  1. matheikal says:

    Afghanistan has undergone so much agony because of religion and yet they don’t seem to learn anything.

  2. The story of Dharmayudh has universal appeal.

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