Sardar KM Panikkar, a luminary

I had come across this illustrious person some years ago while researching VK Krishna Menon and subsequently while studying Portuguese & Dutch presence in Malabar. I was very impressed with the language and narrative used by Panikkar in his books ‘Malabar & the Portuguese’ and ‘Malabar & the Dutch’. When I found later that he was the person behind India’s oft quoted naval strategy and that he had collected considerable notoriety over the Chinese debacle, I decided to find out a bit more of the person.

Krishan Menon’s comment about Panikkar, sums up quite a bit of the person Panikkar was. “He can write”, said Krishna Menon, “a history book in half an hour which I could not write in six years”. The soundness of this thesis has been borne out by his numerous historical works, several of which have profoundly influenced contemporary thought and perceptions. Now you must remember that it was extremely rare for Krishna Menon himself to hold another in high esteem.

“It was the tameness of academic life that bored me” said K. M. Panikkar and with that he entered the intriguing world of politics. Unfortunately that short but taut period and a stroke scarred him so much that he went back to academics and retreated into his study of history and archeology. But like Menon, Pakikkar left his mark in the international arena. (It was during this period that his detractors used dubious claims to implicate him on the Tibetan issue). But let us take a look at the person & his contributions

Panikkar and Indian independence
Panikkar was deeply influenced by the nationalist movement and became the editor of the first nationalist newspaper Swarajya. When ‘Hindustan Times’ was started in 1924, with Panikkar as its first editor, Devdas Gandhi joined the editorial panel and Mahatma Gandhi did the inauguration. He was instrumental in having our Independence day one day after Pakistan go theirs. How did that happen?

HVR Iyengar writes about the event in the Hindu - The British Government had decided that the transfer of power to India, as represented by the Constituent Assembly should take place on the 15th of August. The British do not consult astrologers when they take political decisions, but there were quite a few eminent personages in Delhi who believed (many of them still do) in the effect of stellar combinations on human affairs and some of them began consulting astrologers as to whether the 15th was an auspicious day for the occasion. The advice was that it was not; a far more auspicious day was the 14th. But this was the day fixed for the renunciation of British authority over Pakistan and in fact, Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy, was in Karachi that morning formally to announce the transfer of power to that country and he flew back to Delhi the same afternoon. A solution for the problem was discovered, to the best of my recollection, by the agile brain of Sardar K. M. Panikkar, a brilliant writer of history in the English language, a scholar in Malayalam, also a deep student of the more recondite features of Hindu religion, and withal a great wit. He said he had discovered a formula which would appease the stars as well as make it unnecessary for the British government to change the date which had been announced in Parliament. The members of the Constituent Assembly would meet on the 14th, about half-an-hour or so before midnight; this would propitiate the stars. They would, however, take the oath of allegiance to Free India after the stroke of midnight which, according to British recognition, would be the 15th. Everybody seemed satisfied and arrangements were made accordingly.

Panikkar and Nehru
Nehru was wary of Panikkar and despised him, though he preferred to take KMP’s words over others such as Bajpai over matters concerning India’s borders. Many believed that Panikkar was a member of Nehru’s coterie, like Menon was, but I do not quite believe it as Panikkar was always far away from New Delhi. David Halberstam in his book ‘The coldest winter’ mentions that Panikkar was a close friends with Nehru, but I doubt it after seeing comments about Panikkar in Nehru’s letters. However, it is a fact that Nehru thought a lot about Panikkar as a historian. He used to recommend that young people read Panikkar’s ‘Asia and Western Dominance’, a much quoted work.

Panikkar and the navyAs we all know K.M Panikkar, the architect of India's naval doctrine, argued in his works more than fifty years ago that New Delhi should recognize the significance of the Indian Ocean for the development of its commercial activities, trade and security ('The Strategic Problems of the Indian Ocean' and 'India and Indian Ocean'- published in 1944-1945) Regretting the 'unfortunate tendency to overlook the Sea in the discussion of India's defense problems', Panikkar remarked: 'India never lost her independence till she lost the command of the sea in the first decade of the 16th Century'. His comments stemmed from the study of atrocities heaped on Malabar shores by the Portuguese.Historian Sardar KM Panikkar had written as early as 1945: "A navy is not meant for the defense of the coast. The coast has to be defended from the land. The objective of the navy is to secure the control of an area of the sea, thus preventing enemy ships from approaching the coast or interfering with trade and commerce and conversely after securing the control to blockade the enemy’s coast and destroy his shipping. So a navy merely based on the coast degenerates into a subordinate unit of the army. The Indian navy, whether it be large or small, must learn this lesson. Its purpose is to protect the seas and not the land and if it cannot protect the seas vital to India’s defense, then it is better not to have navy at all"

Despite the exhortations of scholar diplomats like KM Panikkar, neither the strategic significance of the Indian Ocean nor, what is more relevant in the present context, the importance of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were recognized by the policy makers in New Delhi. See detailed article from the Retd chief of Navy staff Arun Prakash.

Panikkar on Portuguese
‘There is a very little to recommend the Portuguese from any point of view’, writes K.M. Panikkar in his “Survey of Indian History.” “Devoid of scruples or sense of honor, overweening in their pride, indolent and with no sense of morality, they produced no statesman or administrator of outstanding ability during the 150 years when they held the mastery of the Indian Ocean.” A must Read - Malabar & the Portuguese.

Panikkar and the Tibetan blunder
It is stated by another Malayali - Mathai, the secretary of Pt Nehru and many others that a parliamentary cable sent to Panikkar was fudged by him before presentation to the Chinese. The claim is that he changed India’s recognition of Chinese ‘suzerainty’ over Tibet to ‘sovereignty’ thus legitimizing China’s claim over Tibet. It is clearly stated in many other documents that the cable came wrongly worded to Panikkar from Nehru and the astonished Panikkar reluctantly acted upon the command of his boss. Panikkar himself goes on record to say that if indeed he had done wrong, why did the foreign affairs ministry and Nehru not correct the mistake immediately? From this one clarification you can imagine who the fall guy was. Sardar Patel was another person who attacked Panikkar’s actions whenever a chance arose. Patel hated both Menon and Panikkar with fervor. (In fact the Patel-Menon-Sudhir Ghosh story is a classic Delhi polemic where Nehru had to get involved to signal peace.)

Reality – It was Panikkar who wrote a detailed memorandum in 1948 ‘When China goes Communist’ where he foresaw exactly what was happening and warned the government that India was best advised to recognize Tibetan independence well in advance as this would also serve to keep China away from India’s borders. He said ‘A China [organised as a Communist regime annexing Mongol, Muslim and Tibetan areas] will be in an extremely powerful position to claim its historic role of authority over Tibet, Burma, Indo-China and Siam. The historic claims in regard to these are vague and hazy. But the political bigwigs in Delhi did not consider it right and Panikkar ended up as the extended arm of the government to make the due postal deliveries from the head offices.

If you read books such as Sankar Gose’s autobiography of Nehru, you will find that people like Patel always blamed Nehru’s subordinates like Menon & Panikkar instead of Nehru himself. J Bandhopadhaya is emphatic in his book ‘The making of India’s foreign policy’ (p234) There is no reason to believe that India’s Tibet policy between 1950 – 1954 was not the result of deliberate decision making by Nehru himself.

Panikkar as a statesman
In fact, the idea of breaking up Uttar Pradesh into more manageable units was suggested by Sardar KM Panikkar over half-a-century ago. Panikkar was a member of the Fazl Ali Commission. He was the first to propose the partition of Uttar Pradesh. In his famous note of dissent (specific to Uttar Pradesh) which is appended to the report of the Commission, Panikkar declared that for the successful working of a federation, the units would have to be ‘fairly evenly balanced’. Disagreeing with the Commission’s decision in favour of a large, undivided Uttar Pradesh, he said it would be imprudent to put one-sixth of the country’s population into a single State. ‘Too great a disparity is likely to create not only suspicion and resentment but generate forces likely to undermine the federal structure itself and thereby be a danger to the unity of the country,’ he said. Looking back, one can only marvel at Panikkar’s foresight because the presence of such a huge state indeed created terrible political imbalances which led to strong regional movements. However, leaders from Uttar Pradesh were not as perceptive as him. They told the Commission that the existence of a large, powerful State in the Gangetic Valley would guarantee India’s unity; that such a State would be able to correct the ‘disruptive tendencies’ in other States; that Uttar Pradesh is the ‘back bone of India’, the centre from which ‘all other States derive their ideas and their culture’ (hah!). Finally, it was argued that undivided Uttar Pradesh was a homogeneous and integrated State and its partition would ruin its economy and create discontent’. History has shown us how specious these arguments were and how right Panikkar was!

Panikkar doctrine & Ceylon
As stated by Godage, “The Panikkar doctrine (named after K M Panikkar) emphasized the importance of the Indian Ocean for the defense of India. According to Panikkar, this vulnerability made it necessary for Lanka or Ceylon to become an integral part of India’s defense structure. The British had kept out other imperialist powers from the Indian Ocean to protect their interests. The perception was that India considered itself the successor to the British Raj and therefore sought to use the same principle to incorporate other states and keep external forces from the Sub Continent.” Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramaya and K M Panikkar in the mid 1940s said that Ceylon would inevitably be drawn into a closer union with India, presumably as an autonomous unit within the Indian federation.

Panikkar & IsraelThe partition of the subcontinent compelled both India and Pakistan to look to the Middle East as an important area of cooperation and support. Besides geographical proximity, such a desire was also due to the region being the Islamic heartland. The struggle for regional pre-eminence and the Kashmir problem compelled both countries to adopt an overtly pro-Arab policy. In this bilateral race for regional support, Israel became a tool as well as a victim. For both countries, support for the Palestinian cause or more specifically, opposition to Israel and its policies, became the central aspect of their Middle East policy. The pre-eminence of Islam in India’s policy towards the region led some Indian leaders to perceive the positive aspects of the partition of the subcontinent. One such person was K.M. Panikkar (1895-1963) who held senior diplomatic positions in the Middle East and elsewhere. In a confidential memorandum to the Zionists, written on the eve of India’s independence, he argued that the creation of a separate Muslim state in the subcontinent would enable India to develop a sympathetic policy towards Jewish aspirations in Palestine. Later, in a letter to an Israeli friend, lamenting the delay in establishing ties with Israel, 19 September, 1950, he said - "While it is not all that surprising to know that Indo-Israeli co-operation in various fields is taking concrete shape, what appears to be somewhat incomprehensible is why so much time has lapsed in forging closer ties?"

Panikkar and Kashmir
Since Panikkar was a Diwan for many north Indian states, he wrote a few hagiographies of his employers and also quite a bit on the legal status of these princely states under British rule. He has written a book on Gulab Singh, the ruler of Kashmir and the various antecedents to the accession of Kashmir. Further details from Bamzai’s book here.

Panikkar and left’ism
Panikkar, like Krishna Menon was branded a leftist by all and sundry after the Chinese and Tibetan debacle. ‘Time magazine’ stated that this was proven when his daughter married the CPI leader. Panikkar clarified later, in his memoirs that he was never a sympathizer with communism, he simply did not appreciate the lack of respect an individual got in a communist regime. Washington, though they were using him as a messenger to the Chinese HC during the Korean War, distrusted him as a leftist. When Panikkar delivered America’s message to the Chinese, they retorted much like Iran and N Korea are doing today. Read the interesting exchange here. Panikkar reported back that China was serious, American diplomats disbelieved him and jestingly nicknamed him Panic’er…

Panikkar and archeology
Amalananda Ghosh in 1950 started organized & systematic exploration of the Bikaner sites from the Indus valley civilization along the dried up bed of the ancient Saraswati River. Within two months, he found 70 sites, 15 of these yielded the same types of antiquities found at Harappa and Mohenjodaro. That Panikkar is being remembered on the editorial page of the Hindustan Times is only fitting because he was its founder editor. This was in 1924. The first issue of HT was released by Mahatma Gandhi, and contained articles by Motilal Nehru, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Jawaharlal Nehru. It was in 1924 again when the discovery of the Indus civilization was announced to the world. Panikkar’s autobiography does not tell us whether this made any impression on him. What we do know is that many decades later he would be instrumental in pushing for the discovery of Indus sites in the desert states of Rajasthan. In his autobiography, Panikkar describes his life and work in Bikaner in vivid detail. For instance, he expresses as much pride in his role in expanding the number of schools and colleges there, as in the fact that, like him, the Dewans of all the major Rajput States were South Indians. But, curiously enough, he did not consider his proactive interest in pushing Indus research as worth mentioning. What we know about it comes from a few forgotten letters and notes in government files. It was in March 1948, less than a month before he took over as ambassador to China that Panikkar wrote to Prime Minister Nehru about the necessity of a survey in the desert area of Bikaner and Jaisalmer and pushed the project through…

Panikkar an unlikely diplomat
As a diplomat, Panikkar, unlike Menon, was too polite, courteous and accommodating, more of an academic, never talking a strong line. SKD Ray says - He was too patrician to fit in with the radical’s image of the Indian nationalist. His sardar title was from a durbar where he served and he presided over the Chamber of Princes as its chancellor before Jawaharlal Nehru sent him as ambassador to China and France. Visually, no one could have looked more the part of Macaulay’s Indian. I remember him as a portly personage in a three-piece suit, fob chain looping across his waistcoat and a little imperial lending authority to his scholarly discourse. Time described him as the bearded Panikkar, who is proud of resembling Nikolai Lenin and who has an unshakable belief that India can get along with Lenin's disciples.

KR Narayanan the late president of India had this to say - KRN's first posting was in Burma where he was memorably exposed to a visit by a fellow-Keralite, the brilliant historian Sardar K.M. Panikkar, who was at that time India's Ambassador in Beijing. "I was put on duty to look after Panikkar by Ambassador Rauf but I do not think Panikkar took to me," KRN once reminisced, adding, "I must have seemed cocky."

A very interesting dialog for those interested – In May 1952, Vijayalakshmi Pandit went to China to meet Mao. Together with her was the ambassador Panikkar. Mao offered a cigarette to Pandit which she refused. Mao asked “Don’t women of India smoke’? Panikkar replied “They do and Madame does, but it is courtesy to refrain before ones elders and those whom one respects” Mao replied “Feudalism dies hard – Please smoke to keep me company Madame, we are in China!!
Added on 06/18/09
Panikkar the person
Kavalam Madhava Panikkar was born in the village of Kavalam, near Ambalapuzha. He was the third child in the Chalayil Tharavadu. Though Panikkar’s forefathers hailed from Kasargode, they had settled in Kavalam as the mangers of the Pallarakavu temple.

Panikkar completed his basic studies at Kottayam and Madras and then read history at Christ Church College, Oxford. After Oxford, Panikkar read for the bar at the Middle Temple, London, before returning to India, where he then taught at Aligarh and Calcutta universities. He turned to journalism in 1925 as editor of the Hindustan Times.
Early on Panikkar had cultivated an interest in Malayalam literature, and was a lifelong friend of the poet Vallathol. Despite his forays into diverse fields, he remained essentially a scholar, publishing extensively and displaying as much interest in ancient Indian history as in more recent historical developments. Cambridge historian Arthur Hassall wrote that in his “long career as tutor of history at Christ Church ” he had “never had a more brilliant student”. Devaki Panikkar, his daughter was the wife of M.N. Govindan Nair, the leader of the Communist Party of India. Panikkar’s interests stretched into the art field as well, notably novels, poetry & Kathakali and he wrote equally well in both Malayalam and English and published over 50 books and numerous articles.

An astute scholar, he was the first president of the Kerala Sahitya academy and held many other positions in his illustrious career. After his studies, Panikkar travelled to Portugal and Holland to research the involvement of these countries with Malabar, the results of which were published in the books Malabar and the Portuguese (1929) and Malabar and the Dutch (1931). In doing so, he brought in the ‘Individualist history style (MM Rahman). For the next 20 years, Panikkar served the princely states of Patiala and Bikaner, becoming the dewan (chief minister) of Bikaner in 1944. He served in China until 1952, playing a key role in building a good relationship with Chiang Kai-shek, and remaining there through the Communist takeover in 1949 and the testing period following this. He wrote of his experiences in the book In Two Chinas (1955). This period also saw the completion of his major work, Asia and Western Dominance (1953). He subsequently served as ambassador to Egypt (1952-1953), Egypt 1952-53 and France (1956-1959) before a severe stroke forced him to return to India. On recovering, he took up his academic career again, becoming Vice-Chancellor of Jammu and Kashmir University and later of Mysore University. Amidst his active political life, Panikkar continued to publish articles and poems, and also translated several Greek plays into Malayalam verse. He passed away in Dec 1963.

Panikkar to the Indian Youth
In 1954, in a convocation note, he appealed to the youth of India - Think of consolidating, broadening and giving a new content to the new born freedom of the nation and to develop a new approach to life. He reminded them that the first call on youth today, indeed their first duty, was to promote knowledge. He warned youth against the dangers of "too powerful a regionalism". While it was true that they should not forget the importance of India's regional languages and the great wealth of thought and beauty which they enshrined, they should also remember that "our national culture will surely disintegrate and, with it, our political freedom, if the basic unity of our life becomes blurred by the growth of too powerful a regionalism. It is only when there is a dominant national culture that regional variations can contribute to it. Otherwise, the local forces will themselves become small stagnant pools deprived of the currents and tides of the greater whole." And he stated later, to sum up India: "That India has a life view of her own, a special outlook on essential problems which has persisted throughout her history would hardly be denied by anyone..."
Pics - Courtesy KWP, China Daily..

You can read a New article - Panikkar and the torpedo


Astrologer Sidharth said...

nice blog sir,

soon will b a regular reader of your blog

Unknown said...

Maddy, this is an excellent post. (Most of your posts are.) The only improvement I can think of is a brief mention of Sardar Panikkar's aristocratic background in Kerala.

I have not had the privilege of meeting Dr. Panikkar. His family and my mother's family were friends. I remember my eldest maternal uncle, Jose Kallivayalil, telling about Dr. Panikkar arranging his stay as palace guest when he visited Bikaner. Dr. Panikkar was then the Dewan of that State.

Maddy said...

Thanks Abe,

Initially I had a complete bio section at the end, but took it out to make this a slightly different take on the standard Panikkar articles. I think i should have added a lead in as you mention. let me try & do that later today

thanks again

Unknown said...

I left out one point in my earlier comment. Sardar Panikkar was also a novelist. The one I remember is 'Kerala Simham', about Pazhassi Raja.

Ajith said...

Mr.Maddy,Thanks for this scholarly article on one of the greatest sons of Kuttanadu .As Mr.Tharakan rightly said,you could have mentioned about his aristocratic origins also.

harimohan said...

well researched and written ,you are becoming a good historian Maddy

P.N. Subramanian said...

Such a nice post. Alas I could have translated it into Hindi. Uttar Pradesh still remains large enough to wield unequal influences in the Parliament.Thank you Maddy.You have really done a wonderful job notwithstanding the small things other commentators have suggested.

Maddy said...

Thanks AGP, Hari and PNS..
deeply appreciate all your comments..

It is only when you heft books like Asia and the western dominance, see the masterly handling of English and the subject matter itself that you realize the loss of such intellect in today's India.

Unfortunately most writers follow a standard taught method in their analysis and many never think out of the box. Sardar Panikkar always did that in his studies..

But then I also realized that most readers are really not interested in reading about such eminent people, long dead and gone and forgotten....people on whose shoulders we stand today..

Maddy said...

Lest i forget, thanks mr Joshi...please do visit as often as you like...Appreciate it..

Mohan Panikkar said...

This is a very well researched, well balanced, neutral and crisp write-up on Late Sardar Panikkar.

mathew said...

excellent post..i love reading such well articulated posts about out history..stuff we dont get to read in regular website or sources...

never knew much about the person..there is lot of info in here..thanks!

menon said...

Simply sensational. I knew most of what was written about the Sardar but there were several gems more particularly the views of Krishna Menon and K R Narayannan. You have set the record straight on many misconceptions including his relationship with Nehru and the handling of Tibet and China. Maybe you could throw some insight into his relationship with CP Ramaswami..

Maddy said...

Mohan - Thanks a lot and hope you come back to read more

Mathew - He will be soon lost in history, but his books wont be.

Menon - Thanks a lot. I have a blog coming up about CPR, though he works out to be a conniving person in books. Somehow I still do not believe that was all of him and hence and researching a bit more.

Unknown said...

Thanks Maddy,
this is a very well researched work,and as a research scholar I achieved many information on Dr.Panikar and I am sure it will help me to carry my research work properly.

Pallabi Buragohain,dibrugarh university,Assam

mantra said...

your blog is reat indeead.iam acharya m.r.rajesh from puthiyillam near kazargod which is the house of k.m.panikkar"s father parameswaran namboothiri.he helped a lot to reconstruct our house there.his letter to my grand father is still with iam in calicut and working a journalist in mathrubhumi weekly and teaching vedas to all people irrespective of caste,gender etc which is one of the first kind in kerela. my website is thank you

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

It has been an excellent reading of a multifaceted celebrity – keralaputhra- whose creative thinking on Indian history in relation to Euro-Afro-Asian ambience is or was not conceived or understood properly by the political power brokers in the post-independent India- be it his obstinate stand on the dissenting note on division of U.P or his collusion with C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer whose zealous endeavour for independent Travancore with collusion of other states like Gwalior or his role in Tibet over which he was silent to keep up his diplomatic ethics for time to prove the reality. Three kudos to Mady’s ramblings
Prof P.V.Panicker

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

allow me to correct 'his hostility to c.p.ramaswamy' in place of 'his collusion'

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

correct 'his collusion with C.P' to 'his hostility to C.P'

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

History is hardly repeated- rather evolve with identical conditions in a changing ethno socio-economic ambienece. This makes a generation to ponder for connectivity- maddy was an inspiration to write a profile on Sardar Panikkar as an e-book downloadable

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

History is hardly repeated- rather evolve with identical conditions to the changing ethnic socio-economic needs. This makes a generation to ponder for connectivity-
Maddy has been a real inspiration to publish an e-book on Sardar Panikkar in my web downloadable .

Mohan Panikkar said...

I have recently read another equally interesting writing on Sardar Panikkar which can be termed as 'a mini biography' at

Abhed Kiran Ravikumar-Pillai Kandamath said...

Hi Maddy,

Great article encompassing all aspects of the Sardar's esteemed career.

One bitter episode(which I personally feel very tied to, for reasons to do with my background),is that he send off that report advocating re-organisation of Travancore thereby giving five and a half Taluks to Madras which was motivated much by his love for the comrade son-in-law who in every probability was going to become the first Chief Minister of Kerala once the Congress supporting South Travancore States (Kamaraj Nadar stood from Nagercoil!) were cleared off the way.The report was not founded in fact and carefully the 2 percent or so, non-resident south Travancoreans weren't counted.

Abhed Kiran Ravikumar-Pillai Kandamath said...

And one more thing, Sir N.R. Pillai(who falls into the same category as me on the issue),I am told, took a great dislike to him after the incident!

But altogether, there is nothing to prove whether it was the Sardar himself or his team that made the mistake(or a deliberate flaw!). It is unlikely that someone with such talents as Sardar Panikkar would have made such a incorrigible step.

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

I too personally have a sense of renounce in loosing southern regions of Nanchinad from Kerala. The Commission recommended for transfer of 4 Taluks ie. Agasteeswaram, Thovala, Kalkulam and Vilavancode to Tamilnadu due to linguistic majority of Tamil speaking. The same problem arose to go for Tamil at Shenkotai Taluks and Peerumedu Taluks with Devikulam and Sardar’s influence prevailed to retain part of Shenkotai Taluks and Peerumedu to Kerala deviating from linguistic principle. Had it been just linguistic alone, Kerala would have been a much more linear State without the wider Central Travancore.

Maddy said...

Thanks Mohan..
That is Prof PV Panikakrs site..

Thanks mantra
glad to hear the info provided..

Thanks prof Panickar
for your valuable comments. nothing ceases to amaze me about the brilliance of KMP..I am continuing to study his involvement in our 62 China debacle, these days..

thanks Abhed Kiran & Prof PVP..
I was planning a small note on those lines earlier, but deferred it to another date. i covered it very briefly in this article on VP

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

Chou-enlai, Frank Moraes and Sardar Panikkar were waiting to see the Russian aircraft being landed at a Chinese run-way, when Chou-enlai commented "I am not very proud of it unless a Chinese air-craft takes off from this field".
I am sure Maddy's touch can be expected on Dr.Varghese Kurian with signatures of Sardar Patel and Thribhuvan Das Patel in Anand.
Prof P.V.Panicker

Maddy said...

Thanks Prof Panicker,
will do one on Dr Kurien soon, he was a great great doubts..I have been to Anand myself, many a year ago..but never met the famous man from Calicut..

Vinayak said...

Great article. Great to read about family!

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

War versus diplomacy!!! Is it not indispensable in the context of present sino-indian differences to bring out ‘suzerinity’ or ‘soverinity’ issues in the confidential documents with Govt, of India on the issue of Tibet to reveal the real truth in Indian diplomacy in the 50’s. The prior prediction by K.M.Panikkar on the growing power of communist China (in his ‘Two Chinas’) likely to translate itself as a future threat to India has never been taken seriously by then P.M.
Recently, a book was published by NBS, Kottayam on Sardar K.M.Panikkar in malayalam written by Dr.Anilkumar, Vadavathoor which throws more holistic light to his career.

Maddy said...

Thanks Prof PV Panicker..
I have a new article on Paniakkar's experience during WW1 up. Hope you will like it. I have not been able to lay my hands on the AnilKumar book, but i had three others in my hands recently.
Will post anothe rarticle on his relationship with CP, soon.

Unknown said...

I would like to know about k m panickers family. In particular his second wife. Do you have any information on this subject?

Maddy said...

hello unknown
no i do not, other than info provided above

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

Yes, his second wife was the infatuation to his work that resulted to an illustrious career which can be put for discussion.
I do not know what exactly is the relevance to clarify an anonymous comment made on KMP. As his sister’s son I can put on record that he had married his uncle’s (Ayyappa Panikkar) daughter Gouri Amma who was the dynamic force throughout his illustrious career until he passed away at Mysore on 10th December, 1963.
In the 70’s, my aunt had lived alone opposite my house at Jawaharnagar, Trivandrum for a period of 2 or 3 years before she moved to Delhi to live with her daughter. The neighbours of the house even now tell the incidents how she used to arrange the articles of her husband in place and talk with him as if he was alive in the evenings. Such was the bond between them.

Ramachandran said...

I read your blogs on Ayaz Khan Sardar KM Panikkar today.It is strange that you havent seen the novel Panikkar wrote on Ayaz Khan:Velluvakkammaran.You lost a goldmine of information on Ayaz!

Ramachandran said...

There is a chapter on KM Panikkar in my communist history,Nakshatravum Chuttikayum.Everything negative about him is there!

Ramachandran said...

I correct myself:Velluvakkammaran is by C Kunjirama Meno.I got it from bookshelf today

Maddy said...

thanks Ramachandran
that book has been difficult to find - though a lot of interesting information is available on ayaz khan and his missing money!

Ramachandran said...

It is published by Sahitya Akademi,Thrissur.You will get it.

Unknown said...

I read your blog. It is very interesting and informative, no doubt. He wrote a KATHAKALI story (ATTAKKATHA) also. "DAVEED VIJAYAM." took from the old Testament of the Holly Bible.

Maddy said...

thanks ravindranath..
appreciate your interesting comment. KMP had so many interests!!

E-Journal of Social & Strategic Studies said...

One of the most important souls whose contribution to Indian political and historical thought is invaluable. At the same time, it saddens me to see that the study of history attracts only the intellectually challenged in our colleges and Panikkar remains in comparative oblivion. His 'Asia and Western Dominance' merits eternal study and evaluation in the syllabi of history, international relations and regional studies. Instead of looking into such aspects, we waste our national time talking of Hindi and Sanskrit in our curricula. What a pity!!

My apologies for taking off, Maddy. Your blog provoked me.

Maddy said...

Very right srinivasan,
we lack intellectually inclined teachers these days i presume, instead we have many of them doing the task for the sake of it and 'sticking to syllabus' they pompously state

Unknown said...

In my ongoing research on Tibet, I have found Mr. Pannikar had a huge role to play in dciding India's response to the TIbetan crisis. In a lot of the books I have reffered to, scholars of different oreintations, have all agreed on one thing- that Pannikar, influenced perhaps by communism, did not convey to us China's true intentions on Tibet. From my readings, and with the hindsight of all that the Tibetans have had to undergo on account of Chinese occupation, I was deeply disturbed that an Indian, for whatever reasons, could have played such a proactive role in facilitating India's inaction on the question of Tibet. This blog then came as a schock to me. Is this the same Pannikar whom various scholars on India Tibet relations, hold responsible for India's inaction during the Tibetan crisis?

Does regional identity blind peole to the mistakes committed by their famous country cousins?

Prof.P.V.Panicker said...

Panikkar is documented in having given sufficient warning about the growing military power of China in a memo "when China goes Communist". He warned that the Communists once they assume power would try to assert their authority over Tibet which in turn would bring China into direct conflict with India.
The whole truth could be revealed only if the secret files of correspondence be declassified.

Maddy said...

thanks joanna..
I will respond to your question in greater detail with an article i am working on, covering the very subject you mentioned.
If you cover the various printed material of that period objectively and study the persona of Nehru, you will be able to see how decisions were taken and how some or the others influenced it.For a moment forget the politics(especially the petty politician and his nasty clamor) and polemics, and based on the limitations of that period look at the problems yourself.
As i have mentioned on a few occasions geopolitics is sometimes more than a gamble and the conclusions are not so clear unless viewed in hindsight.

laxman bika said...

Very nicely wrote i am end up in tears as i knew about him .i am from bikaner riyasat we never forgot sardar and maharaja ganga singhji wharever they did this democratic govt. failed to do so. We are in ambit of most orrupt rule of 69 yrs. from clerk to IAS proceed without cash and kind or wine or woman so we remember his resurrection.not of dissent on u.p and if nehru acted timely on communist china ambition on tibbet. History will different and soothing for us.i like to read his essays, article ,and biography in english some body help me to achieve my goal .god bless you for this informative and intellectual blog.

Sumir Sharma said...

It is really a chance to read this post while I was making notes on Sardar K.M. Panikkar by Tarasankar Banerjee. The reading of this post helped me to polish my perception, cleared confusions, raised many questions, introduced some new sources and definitely provided me with a new source as this blog. It is an extempore comment under the mesmerizing impact of what I have just read on KM Panikkar.
Needs respite.

Maddy said...

Thanks laxman bika..
nice to know you liked this

Maddy said...

Thanks Sumir..
perhaps you can continue on to this post....
and sometime soon I will write another..

Unknown said...

The study "Sardar K.M. Panikkar, a luminary" is simply great as well as amazing!
As a Keralite, I feel immensely proud of the awesome Sardar K.M. Panikkar and salute the outstanding author Mr. Maddy!

Rani K. Panicker

Maddy said...

Thanks rani
Suggest read the torpedo article as well, it is a follow up

Srilatha Haridass said...

Came across your blog.Interesting.Thought these may add to it. These are links to two biographies of Sardar Panikkar in Malayalam and English written by my father Sri Konniyoor Narendranath.
All his books have been digitised and uploaded on Internet Library's

You can find his other books and articles at :

Thanks & regards,
Srilatha Haridass