Book Review: Memoirs of a Rationalist

Y J Mahabal

Reading through the above book, I felt strongly that the writer, Justice RA Jahagirdar (Retd) is a scholar not only of history and philosophy but of English language too. I had to consult dictionary for quite a few words. There are however a few errors and points of difference too. The ‘r’ of Reason, when it means ‘talent’ ought to be capital. This is ‘r’ in several places in this book. Other errors will be mentioned later.  

On page 5 in the Preface by Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram are mentioned as rationalists. True, their literature does mention atheism; but they were yet God’s devotees too; and are respected as such too by the society. How they can be called ‘Rationalists’ passes my comprehension. That all superstitions rise out of the concept of God is a fact. I too have mentioned this in my article on superstitions published in T&A. 

On the cover page of this very valuable book it is mentioned that the book is ‘an anthology of articles on Rationalism, Humanism and secularism’. None of the articles in the book are specifically on any one of these titles, the contents of all advocate the cause of these tenets though! Page 52 mentions that India is a secular state in theory and practice, I fail to understand how India is so in practice. It is actually the opposite of it or the one that equates secularism to Sarva Dharm Samabhav indeed sans meaning. Page 53 uses the pronoun ‘it’ for the nation Turkey. The word Nation is feminine in English. So, I feel the pronoun ‘she’ should have been used here.  

Page 92 mentions Muslims’ opposition to Vande Mataram. It is Mahatma Gandhi who buttressed Shaukat Ali and Muhamad Ali, staunch religionists ( Dharmandh) in this regard. Even Mr. Jinnah had opposed Gandhi’s stand. This Gandhi told Gora, he is an atheist and handled MN Roy roughly for not attending the prayer meeting.  

An American politics professor’s statement on page 103 that India is not a democracy is I think very true. She is neither a democracy nor a true dictatorship too. She is anything but a good country! How is her Lokasabha somnolent, I do not know! 

It is very factual to say (page 111) “What is good for man is not dictated by a mythical God! The sooner this GOD is banished, the better will it be for all.  

“With a view to attract” (Page 130): According to Nesfield’s grammar this should have been “with a view to attracting”. The phrase ‘with a view to’ needs a noun after it, which ‘attracting’ is. 

About Shri Sawarkar (page 138) I have already expressed my differing view. 

Page 149: Science is never built up on faith. How true!   

May Reason triumph! 

Y J Mahabal

762/763, Sadashiv Peth,

Laxmi Narayan Apartments,

Kumthekar Road, PUNE, 411030 

The obvious errors mentioned above will be duly intimated to the Publishers of the book. – Editor