the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action
Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact no. – 09404955338
Forewords of Mahatma Gandhi
The word foreword was first used around the mid 17th century. It was a translation of Dutch voorwoord or German Vorwort, which equal of Latin praefatio. It is a piece of writing sometimes placed at the beginning of a book. Typically written by someone other than the primary author of the work, it often tells of some interaction between the writer of the foreword and the book's primary author or the story the book tells. Later editions of a book sometimes have a new foreword pretended, which might explain in what respects that edition differs from previous ones. The pages containing the foreword are typically not numbered as part of the main work. If there is both a foreword and a preface, the foreword appears first; both appear before the introduction, which may be paginated either with the front matter or the main text. Mahatma Gandhi wrote many forewords. Every author wanted that Mahatma Gandhi will write foreword for their books but Mahatma Gandhi had written foreword for those books which had some useful materials as his views.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I wish Bhai Karsandas success in his Endeavour. Eating or drinking, awake or asleep, sitting or standing, Bhai Karsandas Chitalia always has the Bhagini Samaj uppermost in his mind. He believes that the service of women is the service of the country and that the service of women is possible through the Bhagini Samaj. That is why Bhai Karsandas has become the moving spirit of the Bhagini Samaj. In doing so, he is fully keeping the pledge he has taken for the Servants of India Society. This is his belief. Once Bhai Deodhar remarked in jest that some way would have to be found to cure Bhai Karsandas of the obsession. This remark was by way of homage and the homage was genuine. India badly needs persons who can be so totally dedicated to their work. I know Karsandas to be such a person, so I could not decline his request to write the foreword. Since I had to write the foreword, I was forced to read the book by Bhogindrarao Divetia. Many problems concerning women have been discussed in this work in a beautiful, easy and concise language. Instead of asserting his views, Devatia has merely expressed them by way of suggestions. It has struck me as a distinctive trait of Divetia’s writing. In a book about women, for that matter even about men, meant for the general reader, assertions become a hindrance. I hope that the reader will not infer that because I am writing this introduction I approve of all the reforms the author advocates. Bhai Divetia has placed his views before the reader in an interesting manner. Hence it may be hoped that his writing will be widely read. In his dialogues the writer has depicted the husband as a teacher to his wife. This seems pretty realistic. We desire girls’ education. But we have yet to discover what type of education it should be. For the present, we are only experimenting. But we are not going to bring about women’s education merely through girls’ schools. Thousands of girls disappear from before our eyes by becoming victims to child marriage as early as at the age of twelve. They become housewives! So long as this sinful custom does not disappear from amongst us, men will have to learn to be the teachers of women. The fulfillment of many of our hopes lies in their education in this respect. So long as our women do not cease to be objects of our lust and our cooks and do not become our better halves, sharing our happiness and misery, all our efforts will be futile. Some people regard their wives as animals. Some of the things in our old Sanskrit texts, as also a famous couplet of Tulsidas, are to blame for this. Tulsidas has written in one place: “drums, boors, shudras, animals and women, all are fit to be beaten.” I am a devotee of Tulsidas. But my devotion is not blind. Either the above couplet is an interpolation, or if it is really by Tulsidas, he must have written it without thought, only expressing the prevalent attitude.
As for the utterances in the Sanskrit texts, the idea seems to have become fixed that every verse coined in Sanskrit is the word of the scriptures. We must get rid of this false notion and do away with this age-old attitude that regards women as inferior creatures. On the other hand, some of us, blinded by passion, worship women as a goddess or treat her as a doll and decorate her with ornaments as we decorate the idols every day. It is necessary for us to free ourselves of this wrong worship also. Shiva had Uma, Rama had Sita, and Nala had Damayanti. When our women, too, participate in our discussions, argue with us, understand and support our utterances, with their extraordinary intuition, understand and share our external troubles and bring to us the balm of peace, then, and not till then, will our salvation become possible. There is very little chance of bringing about such a situation merely through girls’ schools. So long as we carry round our necks the millstone of child-marriage, husbands will have to act as teachers to their wives. And such education must not be confined to knowledge of letters. Gradually they can be introduced to subjects like polities and social reform. Literacy should not be a precondition to this. Husbands will have to change their attitude towards their wives. Is it not possible for a woman to remain a student till she attains maturity and for the husband to observe brahmacharya till such time? Unless we were crushed with insensibility and inertia, we would certainly not subject a girl of twelve or fifteen to the great strain of child-bearing. The very thought should make us shudder.
There are classes for married women and lectures are arranged for them. All this is fine. Those who are engaged in such activities are sacrificing their time and that too is a matter of credit to them. At the same time so long as men do not do their duty as stated above, we are not likely to get very good results. With a little thought, everyone will find this self-evident. Hence, it may be expected that if the Bhagini Samaj can spread among husbands the desire to educate their wives, its objectives can be attained faster.”1
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have read Mr. Natesan’s booklet with the greatest pleasure. It is a fine vade mecum for the busy politician and worker. Mr. Natesan has provided him with a connected narrative of the movement of self-government in a very attractive and acceptable form. By reproducing in their historical sequence the extracts from official records, he has allowed them to speak for themselves. The book is not in my opinion a great help to the controversialist and the student of our present day politics who does not care to study musty blue books nor has no access to them. With reference to the joint-scheme of self-Government, though I do not take so much interest in it as our leaders, I feel that from the Government stand-point it must command their attention as a measure which has agitated the public mind as no other has, and I venture to think that there will be no peace in the country until the scheme has been accepted by the Government.”2
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “As I was the first to come by the idea of bringing out a translation of the speeches of the late mahatma Gokhale on his death anniversary, it is in a way appropriate that I myself write the foreword to the first volume. It is hoped that we will keep on celebrating the Gokhale anniversary. Every time to sing devotional songs, make speeches and then disperse is very much of a waste of time with no gain to anyone. In order that people may attach more importance to action than to speech-making and that they may derive some tangible 1From the content it is evident that this letter was written the day after Gandhiji’s arrival at Nadiad to conduct an investigation into the reported failure of crops in the Kheda district. Gandhi reached Nadiad on February 16, 1918. benefit from the annual celebrations, the organizers of the anniversary resolved last year to publish, on the occasion, a useful book in the mother tongue. They decided, at the same time, what book was to be published and, naturally enough, the choice fell on the speeches of the late mahatma.
It was everyone’s wish that the translation should be an outstanding work in Gujarati literature and that every effort should be made to preserve in the translation the beauty of the holy word of the mahatma as it stands in the original. This could not be secured with money but only through voluntary services. These we obtained, but, even so, the future alone can say whether the desired result has been achieved. The part to which this is a foreword has been translated by Shri Mahadev Haribhai Desai. This is no occasion to say anything of him by way of introduction. I shall only mention that he is a lover of Gujarati literature. He is no stranger to the subject; besides, he is one of the thousands of the late mahatma’s votaries. He has carried out his task with great enthusiasm and devotion and one may justifiably hope, therefore, that this translation will earn a place in Gujarati literature. During last year’s anniversary celebrations, as soon as the Home Rule League of Bombay learnt that a decision to publish the volume was about to be announced, its secretaries wired an offer of generous help and later sanctioned a big amount, no less than three thousand rupees, for this project; and so the organizing committee had little worry left for collection of funds and its desire to ensure beauty of printing and the general get-up was satisfied even in these times of rising prices. The Home Rule League deserves congratulations on this large-hearted help. The foregoing paragraphs are but a foreword to the Foreword. In the Foreword itself, one must write something about the departed soul. What could a disciple, however, write about his master? How could he write it? It would be presumptuous for a disciple to do so. The true disciple merges himself in the guru and so can never be a critic of the guru. Bhakti or devotion has no eye for shortcomings. There can be no cause for complaint if the public do not accept the eulogies of one who refuses to analyses the merits and shortcomings of his subject. The disciple’s own actions are, in fact, his commentary on the master. I have often said that Gokhale was my political guru. That is why I consider myself incapable of writing about him. Whatever I write would seem imperfect in my eyes. I
believe the relationship between the master and the disciple is purely spiritual. It is not based on arithmetical calculations. The relationship is formed on the instant, spontaneously, as it were and never snaps once it is formed.
This relationship of ours was formed in the year 1896.1 I had no idea of its nature then; nor had he. About the same time, I had the good fortune to wait on the master’s master Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Lokamanya Tilak, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Justice Badruddin Tyabji, Dr Bhandarkar, as also the leaders of Madras and Bengal. I was but a raw youth. Every one of them showered his love on me. These were among the occasions which I can never forget while I live. But the peace of mind which my contacts with Gokhale gave me, those with others did not. I do not remember that any special affection was shown to me by Gokhale. If I were to measure and compare the love I experienced from them all, I have an impression that no one else showed such love to me as Dr. Bhandarkar did. He told me: “I do not take any part in public affairs now. But, for your sake I will preside over the public meeting on the issue which you have at heart.” Still, it was only Gokhale who bound me to himself. Our new relationship did not take shape immediately. But in 1906, when I attended the Calcutta Congress, I became fully aware of
my being in the position of a disciple. Now, again, I had the privilege
of meeting almost all the leaders mentioned above. I saw that Gokhale
had not only not forgotten me but had actually taken me under his charge. This had its tangible results. He dragged me to his quarters. During the Subjects Committee meeting, I felt helpless. While the various resolutions were under discussion, I could not, right till the end, gather enough courage to declare that I too had a resolution in my pocket on South Africa. It was not to be expected that the night would halt for my sake. The leaders were impatient to finish the business on hand. I was trembling with the fear that they would rise to leave any moment. I could not summon up courage to remind even Gokhale of my business. Just then he cried out, “Gandhi has a resolution on South Africa; we must take it up.” My joy knew no bounds. This was my first experience of the Congress and I put great store by resolutions passed by it. There is no counting the occasions that followed, and they are all sacred to me. For the present, however, I think I would do well to state what I have believed to be the guiding principle of his life and conclude this Foreword. In these difficult and degenerate times, the pure spirit of religion is hardly in evidence anywhere. Men who go about the world calling themselves rishi, munis and sadhus rarely show this spirit in themselves. Obviously, they have no great treasure of the religious spirit to guard. In one beautiful phrase, Narasinha Mehta, best among the lovers of God, has shown in what that spirit consists: Vain, vain all spiritual effort without meditation on the Self.
He said this out of his own vast experience. It tells us that religion does not necessarily dwell even in the man of great austerities or a great yogi who knows all the procedures of Yoga. I have not the least doubt that Gokhale was wise in the truth of the Self. He never pretended to observe any religious practice but his life was full of the true spirit of religion. Every age is known to have its predominant mode of spiritual effort best suited for the attainment of moksha. Whenever the religious spirit is on the decline, it is revived through such an effort in tune with the times. In this age, our degradation reveals itself through our political condition. Not taking a comprehensive view of things, we run away with the belief that, if but our political conditions improved, we would rise from this fallen state.
This is only partially true. To be sure, we cannot rise again till our political condition changes for the better; but it is not true that we shall necessarily progress if our political condition undergoes a change, irrespective of the manner in which it is brought about. If the means employed are impure, the change will be not in the direction of progress but very likely the opposite. Only a change brought about in our political condition by pure means can lead to real progress. Gokhale not only perceived this right at the beginning of his public life but also followed the principle in action. Everyone had realized that popular awakening could be brought about only through political activity. If such activity was spiritualized, it could show the path to moksha. He placed this great ideal before his Servants of India Society and before the whole nation. He firmly declared that, unless our political movement was informed with the spirit of religion, it would be barren. The writer who took notice of his death in The Times of India drew particular attention to this aspect of Gokhale’s mission and, doubting if his efforts to create political sannyasis would bear fruit, warned the Servants of India Society, which he left as his legacy, to be vigilant. In this age, only political sannyasis can fulfill and adorn the ideal of sannyasa, others will more likely than not disgrace the sannayasi’s saffron garb. No Indian who aspires to follow the way of true religion can afford to remain aloof from politics. In other words, one who aspires to a truly religious life cannot fail to undertake public service as his mission, and we are today so much caught up in the political machine that service of the people is impossible without taking part in politics. In olden days, our peasants, though ignorant of who ruled them, led their simple lives free from fear; they can no longer afford to be so unconcerned. In the circumstances that obtain today, in following the path of religion they must take into account the political conditions. If our sadhus, rishis, munis, maulvis and
Priests realized the truth of this, we would have a Servants of India Society in every village, and the spirit of religion would come to prevail all over India, the political system which has become odious would reform itself, India would regain the spiritual empire which, we know it enjoyed in the days gone by, the bonds which hold India under subjection would be severed in an instant, and the ideal state which an ancient seer described in his immortal words would come into being: “Iron would be used not for forging swords but for forging ploughshares, and the lion and the lamb would be friends and live together in love.” Gokhale’s ideal in his life was to labour to bring about this state of affairs. That, indeed, is his message and I believe that whoever reads his writings with an open mind will recognize this message in every word of his.”3
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have re-read this booklet1 more than once. The value at the present moment lies in re-printing it as it is. But if I had to revise it, there is only one word I would alter in accordance with a promise made to an English friend. She took exception to my use of the word “prostitute” in speaking of the Parliament. Her fine taste recoiled from the indelicacy of the expression. I remind the reader that the booklet purports to be a free translation of original which is in Gujarati. After years of endeavour to put into practice the views expressed in the following pages, I feel that the way shown therein is the only true way to swaraj. Satyagraha the law of love is the law of life. Departure from it leads to disintegration. A firm adherence to it leads to regeneration.”4
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Typed copies of Mr. Badrul Hassan’s chapters on the Drink and Drug Evil have lain on my desk for over three months. I had hoped to be able to go through them and write a fairly long foreword, and in that hope I have been postponing writing the foreword. I must no longer do so. Mr. Badrul Hassan was for many months assisting me in bringing out Young India from week to week. The readers of Young India will recall his chapters on the Alcohol and Opium habits. They discover a close study of blue-books and statistical abstracts. The chapters now presented to the reader are a reprint of Mr. Badrul Hassan’s writings in Young India with enlargements and additions. They will repay perusal, and they cannot but help the reformer who is bent upon ridding India of the double evil. Mr. Badrul Hassan’s study shows also how the policy of the Government has tended to increase the habit. The facts and figures presented in these chapters to the reader demonstrate in the clearest possible manner that the Government has trafficked in these two vices of the people of India. It will be no defense to urge that the vice has existed in India from time immemorial. No one organized the vice as the present Government has for purposes of revenue. But I must not anticipate. Let the young writer prove his own case.”5
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It is not an easy thing for me to write a foreword to a life-sketch of Mr. Andrews between whom and me there exists a tie closer than between blood-brothers. But if I may say without presumptions, I would like to note down my conviction that there does not exist in India a more truthful, more humble and more devoted servant of hers than C. F. Andrews. May the lesson of his life prove to the youth of India an encouragement for greater devotion to the motherland.”6
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In the following pages Mr. Stokes has not only given his argument in support of burning foreign cloth, but he has also given the economics of swadeshi in a nutshell. If we will but remember that destruction is as useful and necessary as construction for any organic growth we should have no difficulty in understanding the necessity of burning foreign clothing for the quick programme set before the country. But Mr. Stokes’ effort must prove helpful at a time when there is a fierce attack being made against burning.
To me this opposition shows the strength of attachment we have cultivated for foreign fineries and an inadequate appreciation of the misery that the use of foreign cloth has brought to millions of the homes of India. But I must not enter into argument; I write this merely to commend Mr. Stokes’ able essays to the attention of the reader.”7
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The story of Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s life is a story of religion in practice. His life enables us to see God face to face. No one can read the story of his life without being convinced that God alone is real and that all else is an illusion. Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness. His sayings are not those of a mere learned man but they are pages from the Book of Life. They are revelations of their own experiences. They, therefore, leave on the reader an impression which he cannot resist. In this age of skepticism Ramakrishna presents an example of a bright and living faith which gives solace to thousands of men and women who would otherwise have remained without spiritual light. Ramakrishna’s life was an object-lesson in ahimsa. His love knew no limits, geographical or otherwise. May his divine love be as inspiration to all who read the following pages.”8
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Shri Valji Desai’s translation has been revised by me, and I can assure the reader that the spirit of the original in Gujarati has been very faithfully kept by the translator. The original chapters were all written by me from memory. They were written partly in the Yeravda jail and partly outside after my premature release. As the translator knew of this fact, he made a diligent study of the file of Indian Opinion and wherever he discovered slips of memory, he has not hesitated to make the necessary corrections. The reader will share my pleasure that in no relevant or material paricular has there been any slip. I need hardly mention that those who are following the weekly chapters of My Experiments with Truth cannot afford to miss these chapters on Satyagraha, if they would follow in all its detail the working out of the search after Truth.”9
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Hemendra Babu has asked me to write a foreward to his Life of Deshbandhu. Unfortunately I do not know Bengali. I had hoped to be able to have portions read to me but I have not been able to find the time to do so. Hemendra Babu was one of the devotees of Deshbandhu. I know his love and veneration for the departed leader. I have therefore no doubt that whatever he has said about Deshbandhu will be readable. Time cannot efface the memory of a man so great and good as Deshbandhu. It can only make it more hallowed. At this time of trial for the nation there is no Indian who does not feel the void created by his death. May Hemedra Babu’s pages help us to realize our duty to the country for which Deshbandhu lived and died.”10
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am not conversant enough with the Tamil language to be able to say anything on the merits of this translation of the Gita. But this I can certainly say, that no Hindu should let a single day pass without the study of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. The translation will be of use to those who cherish the Gita.”11
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Those who are interested [in] the preservation of the priceless wealth of India in the shape of the cow through constructive means will find much food for thought in the following well-written pages.”12
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Those who wish to study the subject of khadi from a historical point of view or understand why spinning is a moral duty will find the following chapters by Shri Valji Desai immensely interesting.”13
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “A study of the mutual obligations of rulers and subjects has a special relevance at the present time. Shri Valji Desai’s collection of essays helps us to understand clearly the duties of a king, the distinction between a good king and a bad king, how kings were elected and dethroned in ancient times, and so on.”14
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The booklet is a reprint, revised where necessary by the author, of the chapters written by Professor Kumarappa and published in Young India. They examine the economic policy of the British Government and its effect upon the masses. They are therefore very seasonable. The value of the chapters is enhanced by the addition of a very careful and copious index prepared by the author himself. I commend the booklet both to the Indian as also the Western readers.”15
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This venture of Sasta Sahitya Mandal is laudable. As there is such a rigorous movement afoot for the eradication of untouchability, everyone must, as a matter of course, knows what is being done in this direction and how. We want, through enlightenment, to do away with this sin. It is, therefore, essential for the Hindu public to realize the implications of untouchability and our duty in this matter.”16
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Though I had always longed for it, I was never able to be with Khan Saheb Abdul Ghaffar Khan for any length of time before the closing months of last year. Good fortune, however, brought me not only the younger brother but also the elder, Dr. Khan Saheb, very soon after their discharge from Hazaribagh prison. As luck would have it, they were under orders not to enter the Frontier Province till 28th December last. They were under discipline not to offer Civil Disobedience. And so they accepted the hospitality of Seth Jamnalal Bajaj in Wardha. I was thus privileged to come in intimate touch with the brothers. The more I knew them the more attracted I felt towards them. I was struck by their transparent sincerity, frankness and utmost simplicity. I observed, too, that they had come to believe in truth and non-violence, not as a policy but as a creed. The younger brother, I found, was consumed with deep religious fervour. His was not a narrow creed. I found him to be a Universalist. His politics, if he had any, were derived from his religion. The Doctor had no politics. This privileged contact led me to the conclusion that the brothers were much misunderstood. I, therefore, asked Mahadev Desai to note all he could from them of their lives and prepare for the public a sketch introducing them as men. He was to leave politics alone and avoid criticism of the Government. The result is this character-sketch. Let the reader judge whether the brothers’ claim to be known as simple Khudai Khidmatgars (i.e., Servants of God) is vindicated by the following pages, assuming that they give an accurate and truthful recital of the events of their lives as the brothers gave them to Mahadev Desai.”17
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The only reason for inviting me to write a Foreword to a literary work such as Shri Munshi’s can be that I am called ‘Mahatma’. I can make no literary pretensions. My acquaintance with Gujarati and for that matter any literature, is, for no fault of mine, next to nothing. Having led a life of intense action since early youth I have had no opportunity of reading except in prisons whether in South Africa or in India. Shri Munshi’s survey of Gujarati literature has made fascinating reading for me. His miniature pen-portraits of writers give one a fair introduction to their writings. Shri Munshi’s estimate of our literary achievement appears to me to be very faithful. The survey naturally confines itself to the language understood and spoken by the middle class. Commercially minded and self-satisfied, their language has naturally been ‘effeminate and sensuous’. Of the language of the people we know next to nothing. We hardly understand their speech. The gulf between them and us, the middle class, is so great that we do not know them and they know still less of what we think and speak.
The dignified persistence of Shri Devendra Satyarthi, a writer whom I do not remember to have ever met, has made me peep into his remarkable collection of folk songs of the provinces he has been travelling in. They are the literature of the people. The middle classes of the provinces to which the songs belong are untouched by them, even as we of Gujarat are untouched by the songs of folk, i.e., the language of the masses of Gujarat. Meghani of the Saurashtra School has done folklore research in Kathiawar. His researches show the gulf that exists between the language of the people and ours. But the folklore belongs to an order of things that is passing away, if it has not already done so. There is an awakening among the masses. They have begun not with thought but with action, as I suppose they always do. Their language has yet to take definite shape. It is to be found somewhat, but only somewhat, in the newspapers, not in books. Shri Munshi's work therefore may be said to have only commenced with the volume before me. It was necessary. But he has to continue the work so well begun. He has the requisite passion for his work. If he has health, he will now go direct to the people and find out what they are thinking, and he will give expression to their thoughts. The unquestionable poverty of Gujarati is a token of the poverty of the people. But no language is really poor. We have hardly had time to speak since we have begun to act. Gujarat like the rest of India is brooding. The language is shaping itself. There is enough work awaiting writers like our author.
Munshi has alluded to Parsi-Gujarati. So there is. It is unfortunate that there is Parsi-Gujarati. It is confined to novels and stories of the shilling-shocker style. They are meant merely for passing the idle hour. The language is tortured out of shape. And just as there is Parsi-Gujarati there is also Muslim-Gujarati though on a much humbler scale. It is impossible to ignore these two streams. They are not wells of Gujarati undefiled. But no reviewer of Gujarati literature can afford to ignore the existence of works which hundreds, if not thousands, of Parsis and Muslims read and by which, maybe, even shape part of their conduct.”18
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There is no doubt that these gleanings selected from the writings of the late Shri Raichandbhai will prove useful as an introduction to the original work. As they are arranged subject wise, they will be very helpful to the jijnasu.”19
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “A dear friend on seeing Rajendra Babu’s letter asking for a pamphlet, among others, on the philosophy represented by the name ‘satyagraha’ asked me if I would write such a pamphlet. Rajendra Babu who knew my preoccupations did not make any such demand upon my time. I, therefore, pleaded my inability when the suggestion came to me. Another suggestion was then put forward that some friend who knew my writings should make relevant extracts from them and prepares the booklet required. I readily endorsed it. The result was the following pages prepared after much labour of love. The workers desire to remain unknown. I glanced through the manuscript and I felt that the work was ably done. I believe that it will enable the reader to appreciate the very important implications of Satyagraha. The fascination of the doctrine as an epitome of nonviolence is daily growing on me, and I doubt not that if an individual or a nation adopts it as a plan of life, it will promote their happiness and peace and it would be their highest contribution to the attainment of the world peace after which we are all hankering.”20
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I like Anand Hingorani’s idea of collecting my writings under suitable heads. The reader will not fail to appreciate the labour he has given to securing attractive printing and binding.”21
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have very carefully gone through Jawaharlal Nehru’s essay on the Hindi-Urdu question. The question has latterly become an unfortunate controversy. There is no valid reason for the ugly turn it has taken. Be that as it may, Jawaharlal’s essay is a valuable contribution to a proper elucidation of the whole subject considered from the national and purely educational point of view. His constructive suggestions, if they are widely accepted by persons concerned, should put an end to the controversy which has taken a communal turn. The suggestions are exhaustive and eminently reasonable.”22
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Sir Jogendra Singh is to be congratulated on having given us his rendering into English of the “Sayings of the Mystic’’ by Abdullah Ansari1. Islam has given the world mystics no less than Hinduism or Christianity. In these days when irreligion masquerades as religion, it is well to remind ourselves of what the best minds of all the religions of the world have thought and said. We must not, like the frog in the well that imagines that the universe ends with the wall surrounding his well, think that our religion alone represents the whole Truth and all the others are false. A reverent study of the other religions of the world would show that they are equally true as our own, though all are necessarily imperfect.”23
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The fact that the first one thousand copies of this pamphlet have been sold out shows that what Dr. Zakir Husain and his committee have called Basic National Education is exciting fair interest in India and outside. A more correct though much less attractive description would be Rural National Education through village handicrafts. ‘Rural’ excludes the so-called higher or English education. ‘National’ at present connotes truth and non-violence. And ‘through village handicrafts’ means that the framers of the scheme expect the teachers to educate village children in their villages so as to draw out all their faculties through some selected village handicrafts in an atmosphere free from superimposed restrictions and interference. Thus considered, the scheme is a revolution in the education of village children. It is in no sense an importation from the West. If the reader bears this fact in mind he will be better able to follow the scheme to the preparation of which some of the best educationists have given their undivided attention.”24
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Shri Natesan has gone to the wrong man for a foreword to his collection of Prayers, Praises and Psalms. For I am no Sanskrit scholar. I have not read much of the translations or the originals. Nevertheless the collection presented in this volume does enable even one like me to know how our ancestors prayed to the One Supreme Lord of the Universe and in what words them derived solace in the first edition of the book came out in September 1938. hour of their trial or gave praise in the hour of their so-called triumph. May this collection help the reader to dispel his unbelief or strengthen his belief.”25
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It was on 4th September, 1888, that I sailed from Bombay with three letters of introduction, the most precious being for the G. O. M. of India, Dadabhai Naoroji. The letter was given by a Maharashtrian doctor, a friend of the family. The worthy doctor told me the G. O. M. did not know him personally; in fact he had never even had the darshan of the G. O. M. “But,” said the doctor, “what does it matter? Everyone knows him and adores him as India’s great son and champion. He has exiled himself for us. I claim to know him by his service of India. You will see that my letter will serve you just as well as if I had known him personally. The fact is, you need no introduction to him. Your being an Indian is sufficient introduction. But you are a youngster, untravelled and timid. This letter will give you courage enough to go to the G.O.M. and all will be smooth sailing for you.” And so it was. When I reached London, I soon found that Indian students had free access to the G.O.M. at all hours of the day. Indeed he was in the place of father to every one of them, no matter to which province or religion they belonged. He was there to advice and guides them in their difficulties. I have always been a
hero worshipper. And so Dadabhai became real Dada1 to me. The relationship took the deepest root in South Africa. For, he was my constant adviser and inspiration. Hardly a week passed without a letter
from me to him describing the condition of Indians in South Africa. And I well remember that whenever there was a reply to be expected, it came without fail in his own handwriting, in his inimitably simple style. I never received a typed letter from him. And during my visits to England from South Africa I found that he had for office a garret perhaps 8 feet by 6 feet. There was hardly room in it for another chair. His desk, his chair and the pile of papers filled the room. I saw that he wrote his letters in copying ink and press-copied them himself. I have not read Shri Masani’s sketch. But if he has at all done justice to the life so noble and yet so simple, his work needs no introduction from me or anybody else. May it be an inspiration to the reader even as Dadabhai living was to me.”26
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “These essays of Sophia Wadia show at a glance how much similarity there is between the principal faiths of the earth in the fundamentals of life. All our mutual quarrels centre round non-essentials. Sophia Wadia’s labours will be amply rewarded if people belonging to different faiths will study faiths other than their own, with the same reverence that she has exhibited in her essays. An understanding knowledge of and respect for the great faiths of the world is the foundation of true Theosophy–Wisdom about God.”27
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It is a good sign that Why the Village Movement is required to go through the third edition. It supplies a felt want. Prof. J. C. Kumarappa answers almost all the doubts that have been expressed about the necessity and feasibility of the movement. No lover of villages can afford to be without the booklet. No doubter can fail to have his doubts dispelled. It is of no use to those who have made up their minds that the only movement worth the name is to destroy the villages and dot India with a number of big cities where highly centralized industries will be carried out and everyone will have plenty and to spare. Fortunately as yet there are not many who belong to that school of destruction. I wonder if the village movement has come just in time to prevent the spread of the movement of despair! This booklet is an attempt to answer the question.”28
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have gone through these pages from beginning to end. The booklet will supply a felt want. It is an attempt to answer the many doubts that have assailed inquiry about what has been called my ‘latest fad’ and that too in the domain of education! Acharya Kripalani who has spent many years as an educationist has tried to show that this ‘fad’ has a sound bottom to it.”29
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have had the privilege of being associated with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in national work since 1920. In the knowledge of Islam he is surpasses by no one. He is a profound Arabic scholar. His nationalism is as robust as his faith in Islam. That he is today the supreme head of the Indian National Congress has deep meaning which should not be lost sight or by any1 student of Indian politics.”30
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Everyone knows of my close association with Shrimati Ambujammal. She has studied Hindi with great devotion. She has shown the same devotion in the study of the Ramayana. Now she has rendered that peerless epic into Tamil. I hope Tamilians will read it with joy. I congratulate Ambujammal.”31
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The following seven chapters are a result of Pyarelal’s deep study of the status of the Princes of India. They should have been published in pamphlet form long ago, and would have been, but for my pre-occupation. The writer is himself behind jail walls. Therefore they are being published as they were written. They are an evergreen. They give to the busy public worker or student, in a compact form, an idea of the status of the Princes of whom there are nearly six hundred. The chief merit of the pamphlet is that it contains nothing but what is taken from authentic records. The existence of this gigantic autocracy is the greatest disproof of British democracy and is a credit neither to the Princes nor to the unhappy people who have to live under this undiluted autocracy. It is no credit to the Princes that they allow themselves powers which no human being, conscious of his dignity, should possess. It is no credit to the people who have mutely suffered the loss of elementary human freedom. And it is perhaps the greatest blot on British rule in India. But we are too near the event to realize the falsity called “Princes’ India” or “Indian India”. The system will break under its own intolerable weight. My humble non-violent effort is to induce all the three parties to wash the triple sin. Even one of them can take the decisive step and it will affect all. But it will be glorious if the three together realize the enormity of the sin and by a combined effort wash it.”32
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I like Anand Hingorani’s idea of collecting my writings under suitable heads. The reader will not fail to appreciate the labour he has given to securing attractive printing and binding.”33
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The Parting of the Ways should have appeared when it was finished, i.e., immediately after August 10. By some mischance it has escaped publication till now. It has just come into my possession. I understand that some portions of the article have already appeared in Asia. I think it is too precious a document to be withheld from the public. I have shown it to Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Acharya Kripalani who are in Wardha. They agree with me that it should be published on behalf of the A.I.C.C. I know that Sarojini Devi, if she was here, would also agree. I believe that it correctly represents in moderate, though forcible language, the Congress position.
The passages quoted above are key paragraphs. The first extract shows what might have been. The second declares the author’s love for the British people. The third shows in the fewest possible words how the British Government in India is sustained by coercion pure and simple. The fourth paragraph shows that the independence India wants is neither exclusive nor antagonistic to any nation. Though the author has said not one word about non-violence, he has led the reader to the inevitable conclusion that the independence of Jawaharlal’s conception, nay, and Congress conception cannot be won except through unadulterated non-violence, and the present struggle is an attempt to keep the spirit of non-violence alive in the midst of the fratricidal inhuman carnage. If it is a contribution to India’s freedom it is no less contribution to world peace.”34
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have not read this collection. But it is enough for me that it 1Jayaprakash Narayan, addressee’s husband, was interned in the Deoli Detention Camp. Recounts the noble qualities of Deenabandhu and that the money it brings in will all go to the Deenabandhu Memorial Fund.”35
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “A Discipline for Non-violence is a pamphlet written by Mr. Richard B. Gregg for the guidance of those Westerners who endeavour to follow the law of Satyagraha. I use the word advisedly instead of ‘pacifism’. For what passes under the name of pacifism is not the same as Satyagraha. Mr. Gregg is a most diligent and methodical worker. He [has] had first-hand knowledge of Satyagraha, having lived in India and that too for nearly a year in the Sabarmati Ashram. His pamphlet is seasonable and cannot fail to help the satyagrahis of India. For though the pamphlet is written in a manner attractive for the West, the substance is the same for both the Western and the Eastern satyagrahi. A cheap edition of the pamphlet is therefore being printed locally for the benefit of Indian readers in the hope that many will make use of it and profit by it. A special responsibility rests upon the shoulders of Indian satyagrahis, for Mr. Gregg has based the pamphlet on his observation of the working of Satyagraha in India. However admirable this guide of Mr. Gregg’s may appear as a well-arranged code, it must fail in its purpose if the Indian experiment fails.”36
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It is simply a coincidence that these essays on “Practical Non-violence” are being published in pamphlet form almost simultaneously with Richard Gregg’s A Discipline for Non-violence. The votary of non-violence should read the two together. Kishorelal Mashruwala is like R. Gregg a deep student of non-violence. Though he has been brought up in that faith, he never takes anything for granted. He believes only what he has tested. Thus he has come to accept non-violence by hard thinking. He has in his own life and practice proved its efficacy in a variety of conditions political, economic, social and domestic. His essays have, therefore, a value all their own. They should help the believer in non-violence in sustaining his faith and the honest unbeliever in resolving his doubts.”37
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Principal Shriman Narayan Agrawal’s treatise is timely and should go a long way in dispelling the fear and distrust about the possibility and desirability of giving the highest instruction through the mother tongue. For me it is tragic that such an obvious truth requires arguing. Although Principal Agrawal imbibed all that his ambition could desire of the English language, he never allowed his love of mother tongue to be displaced by his regard for English. He is, therefore, well equipped for the mission which he has made his own. I hope that he will not rest till the mother tongues in the various provinces have come into their own. I have no doubt whatsoever that if those who have the education of the youth in their hands will but make up their minds, they will discover that the mother tongue is as natural for the development of the man’s mind as mother’s milk is for the development of the infant’s body. How can it be otherwise? The babe takes its first lessons from its mother. I, therefore, regard it as a sin against the motherland to inflict upon her children a tongue other their mother’s for their mental development.”38
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This very useful pamphlet is in answer to an imperative demand by Sheth Jamnalalji, just a few days before his death. He wanted a booklet of instructions for those who would learn more to treat dead animals, so as to make the best use of the remains. May it serve the purpose for which it is intended.”39
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Acharya Shriman Narayan Agrawal is one of those young men who have sacrificed a prosperous, perhaps even brilliant, career for the service of the Motherland. Moreover, he happens to be in full sympathy with the way of life for which I stand. This brochure is an attempt to interpret it in terms of modern political science. Acharya Agrawal seems to have made an earnest study of modern literature on the subject. I am sorry to have to say that I have not gone through the treatise with the attention it deserves. Nevertheless I have read enough of it to be able to say that he has not misrepresented me in any place.
There is no pretence at an exhaustive presentation of the implications of the charkha economics. It claims to be a comparative study of the charkha economics based on non-violence and the industrial economics which to be paying must be based on violence, i.e., exploitation of the non-industrialized countries. Let me not anticipate the author’s argument. I commend the treatise to the careful attention of every student of the present deplorable condition of the country.”40
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Mrs. Vijayalaxmi Pandit has asked me to pen a few words about the late Ranjit Pandit’s unfinished rendering of Ritusanhar. I consider myself wholly unfit to do justice to the author’s effort nor does Vijayalaxmi expect me to attempt the impossible. But the touching circumstances under which Ranjit Pandit made the effort need emphasising. It is remakable how much India owes to political imprisonments. Lokmanya’s celebrated work on the Gita would not have seen the light of day but for his imprisonment nor Jawaharlal Nehru’s world-known works. Ranjit Pandit’s Rajtarangini and his labours on Ritusanhar might not have been but for his imprisonments. And he was ailing in the prison. His literary labours made him forget his pain. Instead of a preface the author’s introductory notes are deeply interesting and instructive. It reveals to us Ranjit Pandit as a patriot and scholar. Having known him intimately I know what talents he had. It is a sad thought that such a son of India should have died in the prime of life. I congratulate Vijayalaxmi on giving to India and the world her husband’s last labour of love.”41
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Dr. Indubhushan Bhingare had published earlier the first edition of Sant Tukaram ki Rashtragatha. The present edition is the revised one. My knowledge of Marathi is very slight. I like Tukaram very much. But I could read only a few of his abhangas without effort.I therefore passed on Dr. Bhingare’s selection to Kundarji Diwan who took great pains to go through the whole thing. The Gatha needed a fitting picture. Dr. Bhingare had selected a cheap one. It hurt me very much. I sent it to Shri Nandalal Bose, the renowned Santiniketan artist. He has been kind enough to send me four pictures of Tukaram to go with the abhangas. I sent the one that I thought the best among them to Bhingare and it will be published in this edition. I hope this edition will command the respect of people.”42
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The Ishavasya gripped me during my Harijan tour of Travancore. All my speeches invariably included the first verse of this Upanishad: “All that is pervaded by God. It all belongs to Him, therefore nothing belongs to you. But in a way it is yours too. But why get caught in the argument? Renounce all, and all is yours. Nothing will remain in your hands if you regard anything as yours.” This was the note with which I concluded my Travancore tour and I felt that I had come by a treasure. I told Vinoba and requested him to give me a simple Hindi rendering of the Ishavasya. As is his wont he granted my request. The result is this translation.”43
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Narahari Parikh is one of those who joined the Satyagraha Ashram when it was first founded at Kochrab. Whatever, therefore, Chi. Vanamala has learnt, she has learnt at the Ashram. She is untouched by any Government school and the education imparted there. It can therefore be said that she knows how to work hard. She has however gone out to collect material for Kasturba’s biography. In this she has also secured contributions from others. Up to the time of writing I have not been able to look at these. It was Chi. Vanamala’s wish that I should go through what she has written. Poor girl, she would write about Kasturba but how could she forget me, with whom she romped around and played as a child? I see she has painstakingly collected her facts and ordered them neatly. Her language is homely and simple. I see no artificiality in it. Whether Chi. Vanamala has been successful in this her first effort is solely for the readers to judge. Chi. Sushilabehn, sister of Chi. Pyarelal, has written about Ba’s experiences in jail. Chi. Vanamala thought of taking something from this. But on reading Sushilabehn’s account she found that Sushilabehn’s writing had a natural flow which she could not disturb.
The original is in Hindi and its Gujarati translation is reproduced in this collection. Sushilabehn after all holds a doctor’s degree. She has besides an interest in vocal and instrumental music, painting and literature. She takes interest in public affairs too. The late Mahadev noticed these qualities of her and took a keen interest in them. But he has departed from us. His life is ended. Readers should keep this in mind when they read Sushilabehn’s article. So much for the authors.
But they both assert that if I myself do not say something about Ba the work will remain incomplete. Since I am writing this foreword to the book perhaps it will be appropriate if I say something about Ba. I certainly intend to write more fully about Ba when I have the time. Here I shall only answer the question, if I can, why Ba was able to attract people to her. Ba’s chief virtue was her voluntary identification of herself with me. I did not draw her forth. The quality blossomed in Ba on its own when the time came. I never knew that Ba had this thing hidden in her. My earlier experience showed her a very stubborn person. If I tried to compel her in any way she would do exactly what she herself wanted. This led to bitterness between us short or prolonged. But as my public life gradually developed, Ba blossomed more and more and freely merged herself in me, that is, in my work. In time no distinction remained between me and my work which was service. Ba too became one with that work. This quality perhaps most naturally arises from the Indian soil. At least that seems to me the chief reason for Ba’s sentiments. The reason why this virtue reached its pinnacle in Ba is to be
found in our brahmacharya. It came more naturally to Ba than to me.In the beginning Ba was not even aware of it. The idea came to me and Ba took it up and made it her own. In the result the relationship between us was as one between true friends. Since 1906 in fact since 1901 all the time Ba was with me, she had nothing outside of my work. She could have lived apart. There would have been no difficulty in her living apart from me. But being a friend she yet considered it her duty as a woman and a wife to merge herself in my work. Ba gave the paramount place to the service of my person and till death never ceased from the task of attending on me.”44
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “When Dr. Kumarappa has given such an excellent introduction, what more is there for me to say? But Shri Jhaverbhai’s love would not leave me alone. For his sake I have gone through the pamphlet from beginning to end. I was not inclined to argue over technical details. Dr. Sushila was with me. I made her read out to me the entire thing. She made a few suggestions which occurred to her. Jhaverbhai made the necessary improvements. This means that this pamphlet hears the stamp of Dr. Sushila and Dr. Manu Trivedi. I liked the pamphlet. Its language is simple and lucid. I hope that this pamphlet will be read by thousands.”45
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have read the introduction as also the originals. The introduction may be good enough for the hasty reader, but the publication is not designed for the hasty reader. It is designed for the serious worker who can affect the politics of his country and even the world affairs. To such my advice is that he must read the originals. The introduction may be used as such and as an aid to memory. I want the readers I have in view to take me at my word. I have written as I felt at the moment as a seeker of long standing of Truth and Non-violence. I have written without reservation and without embellishment.
After my accidentally premature discharge from detention and convalescence I studied from reliable witnesses the happenings of the two years after the incarceration of principal Congressmen and myself. I have heard nothing to modify the opinion expressed in my writings under review. I know firsthand what has happened, since my discharge, in the various spheres of life. And I have found bitter confirmation of what I have said in the following pages. Indeed, the whole of India is a vast prison. The Viceroy is the irresponsible superintendent of the prison
with numerous jailers and warders under him. The four hundred millions of India are not the only prisoners. There are others similarly situated in the other parts of the earth under other superintendents. A jailer is as much a prisoner as his prisoner. There is no doubt a difference. From my point of view he is worse. If there is a Day of Judgment, i.e., if there is a Judge whom we do not see but who nevertheless is much more truly than we exist for a brief moment, the judgment will go hard against the Jailer and in favour of the prisoners. India is the only place on earth which knowingly has chosen Truth and Non-violence as the only means for her deliverance. But deliverance to be obtained through these means must be deliverance for the whole world including the jailers otherwise described by me as tyrants and imperialists. I need not mention Fascists or Nazis or Japanese. They seem to be as good as gone.
The war will end this year or the next. It will bring victory to the Allies. The pity of it is that it will be only so-called if it is attained with India and the like lying prostrate at the feet of the Allies. That victory will be assuredly a prelude to a deadlier war, if anything could be more deadly.
I know that I do not need to plead for non-violent India. If India has the coin with Truth on one face and Non-violence on the other, the coin has its own inestimable value which will speak for itself. Truth and Non-violence must express humility at every step. They do not disdain real aid from any quarter, much less from those in whose name and for whom exploitation is practiced. If the British and the Allies aid, so much the better. Deliverance will then come sooner. If they do not, deliverance is still certain. Only the agony of the victim will be greater, the time longer. But what are agony and time if they are spent in favour of liberty, especially when it is to be brought about through Truth and Non-violence!”46
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Bhai Jhaverbhai has ever been undertaking new studies and adding to his store of useful knowledge. He easily finds use for this increased knowledge in disseminating it. He thinks in his own language or the national language, so that his ideas are understood by thousands with the utmost ease. If he carries on in this manner, the knowledge he has gained will soon become common possession. Bhai Jhaverbhai has written a beautiful essay and given information about food, etc., in simple language. I hope that the knowledge will be widely used and the suggestions made in the essay implemented. The author’s aim is to impart knowledge so that it will be put to use and not merely add to learning.”47
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Having carefully gone through these chapters, I can recommend their careful1 perusal to every believer in God be he a Christian or a follower of any other religion. The booklet presents Professor J. C. Kumarappa’s views on Christian teaching in a nutshell. It is a revolutionary view of Jesus as a man of God. It is none the less revealing and interesting. The interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer is novel and refreshing as are many other interpretations. If all believe as Prof. Kumarappa do there will be no religious feuds and rivalries between sects and sects and different religions.
Anyway, this reading of the Bible must bring solace to the Christians of India. If they will read the Bible as Prof. K. does, they need not be ashamed2 of their forefathers or their ancient faith. What is bad and superstitious in the old they are able to throw off by means of the liberal teaching presented in the following pages but it helps one to see that there is much of the old which is imperishable and worthy of being treasured. Indeed, Prof. K. has a message beyond the confines of India. He speaks with confidence born of a living faith in the belief that the West, though nominally Christian, has not known the true Jesus of the
As I was going through these pages, I was reminded of the late Advocate F. A. Laughton of Durban. I was then no student of Roman or Dutch Law or of the case law of the four States of South Africa. In difficulty, therefore, I used to go to Mr. Laughton for help. But, after I had done with my work, he would proudly bring forth from his drawer a green cover book with his father’s annotations from the Bible. It was Edwin Arnold’s Song Celestial, and had Mr. Laughton’s father’s parallel passages from the Bible showing that there was much in common between the New Testament and the Gita. I was then a novice trying to find out Truth in all its aspects without then knowing that I was so doing. Prof. Kumarappa’s interpretation with copious quotations from the Bible reminded me of what I used to believe even as early as 1894-95. I can therefore speak from experience of the truth of the interpretation of the Gospels given in the following pages by Prof. Kumarappa.”48
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Bhai Jivanji has brought out at the right moment a collection of my writings and speeches on the subject of our national language. I have not found it possible to go through all the writings collected here but I have read the first twenty pages. I made the first speech3 on this subject in 1917. And I hold the same views today as those expressed in the speech or thereafter from time to time. The only difference is that they are now stronger, clearer and more definite than before.
Hindi and Urdu have always been inseparable to me. I have also quite freely used the word Hindustani. I am saying the same thing today that I did in the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan session at Indore in 1918. Hindustani is not Urdu but a happy amalgam of Hindi and Urdu which people in Northern India may easily understand and which may be written either in the Nagari or Urdu script. That alone is the perfect national language; all others are imperfect. For the present those who desire to learn the national language fully and not partially must learn both the scripts and know both the forms. It is a duty demanded of us by our love for the nation. Those who learn it will gain, those who do not will lose.”49
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “One of the first and best pupils of the late lamented Dr. P. C. Ray, Shri Satis Chandra Das Gupta is a fit person to bring under one cover all the available literature on the cow rightly called the ‘Mother of Prosperity’. By convincing arguments based on copious reading of which he has reproduced the relevant parts in the volume, the author has dispelled the belief held even by learned men that India’s cattle are a burden upon the land and divide its production with the people to the latter’s detriment. He shows the usefulness of the cow as the giver of milk, the producer of draught-bullocks, the manurer of our fields and after death the giver of her hide and bone. He proves the superiority of cattle over the engine for ploughing the fields of India.
He establishes the inevitable connection and interdependence between the cattle and other animal life, the earth and man. Lastly, he proves the superiority of the cow over the buffalo, not so that the latter should be killed off or starved out but so that the buffalo should not be favoured at the expense of the cow as is done at the present moment. I commend the volume to the lover of the cow as also to everyone who would learn that the slaughter of cattle for food is a pure economic waste and know how he can turn the cow into a giver of plenty instead of being the giver of scanty which, owing to criminal negligence, she has become today. It will interest the reader to know that the author wrote the whole.” 50
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have discovered no easy way of enjoying the music of songs. I cannot, therefore, easily drink in the joy that they are capable of giving. It has happened sometimes that when a song was sung in a manner I found sweet, I fully enjoyed it and also understood its meaning. Sometimes I myself have been able to hum the tune of a song, and then I have both fully enjoyed the music and understood the meaning.
Jugatram1 has requested such a person—with much hesitation to say a few words by way of blessings. “With much hesitation” because he knows the value of my time, as also my limitations. If, in spite of that, he has requested my blessings, the reason is that I look upon the Gita as a lexicon of the soul. I have not been able to read the Manjari from beginning to end. But I have carefully glanced through it. I liked the work. The author’s labour is evident. Jugatram has, in his own manner, put into song what he has liked in the different chapters of the Gita. The glossary following the Preface in the Manjari, the selected passages from Gitabodh2 and Anasaktiyog, which are relevant to the context, and the relevant verses from the Gita are likely to prove useful to a serious student of the work. Jugatram has not come to the end of his journey. He has come as far as Chapter 12. Let us hope that he will be able to complete the journey. He has done well also to include, after the 60th manjari, the songs written for Kakasaheb’s Be Keri. The student should also know that Jugatram practises the teaching of the Gita as he has understood it, and is one of the few who draw from the fountain of milk unceasingly flowing from it. Hence anybody who wishes to enjoy the fragrance of this Manjari should touch it only if he wishes to practise the teaching of the Gita and work in the spirit of non-attachment, or derive strength for such work.”51
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have quite a few co-workers who are more or less exclusively engaged in doing my work and who, therefore, have a claim on me. However, such a claim should not be made in so many words; otherwise I would not be able to do the work which I ought to do. Kundarji asked me to write a Foreword for Gitai ani Gitai and Gitadhyayasangati. How could I say ‘No’ to him? I agreed and so it became my duty to read Gitadhyayasangati and Kundarji’s Preface. This took away one hour of my time. The work will suffer if I let my hours go thus and the Gita will cease to be my spiritual dictionary. The beauty of Gitai is that its meaning and music are rendered in Marathi in such a way that those who do not know the original Gita can enjoy reading it as they would the original.”52
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Vinoba has been my co-worker ever since the Ashram at Kochrab was set up. He has done plenty of work that I wanted him to do or that which was dear to me. Take for instance Gitadhyayasangati. I had asked for a little, Vinoba gave me much. The readers should know that the idea of reciting the Gita in fourteen days and then in seven days first occurred to me in Yeravda Prison. I told Vinoba of what I had in mind and asked for his approval and also his suggestions. In reply he sent me Gitadhyayasangati. By having this before him the reader who wants to concentrate on the Gita and put its teaching into practice will2 be benefited.”53
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I do not have the time to read this book again. I do not even wish to. I have many other things to do. In my opinion a man daily moves either forward or backward. He never stands still. The whole world is moving. There is no exception to it. I will be making a wrong statement if I say that I am today what I was yesterday and will remain the same in future. In fact I should not even have such a desire. It is right however that my writings and utterances should not be such as to confuse others. I should not write things which can bear two interpretations. That is to say I should always have an eye to truth and non-violence while writing, speaking or doing anything. I can say that I have been doing that ever since I gave my word to my mother. In fact I became a devotee of truth ever since I reached the age of understanding.
This does not mean that I have had or even today have a full vision of truth and ahimsa. But I do believe that my vision of truth and ahimsa is becoming clearer every day. Therefore it would not be correct to say that my views on Varnashrama are the same as they were in the past. I have said that the varnas and the ashramas are the gifts of Hinduism to the world, and I still adhere to that view. But today neither the varnas nor the ashramas of my conception are in existence anywhere. They should form a part of our religion. But it can be said that these days the ashramas have disappeared altogether and varnas are found in the form of privileges. The claim of being a Brahmin, a Kshatriya, a Vaishya connotes pride. How can there be pride where there is religion? And the Shudras are not taken into consideration at all! Shudras are low and the Ati-Shudras are the lowest of the low. This is not religion but a negation of it. Where are the four varnas of the Gita today? Varna is entirely different from caste. There are numerous castes. I know of no authority for caste in the Gita or any other scripture. The Gita has prescribed four varnas and they are based on one’s aptitudes and karma. I am saying four just to give you an example. There can be more or less varnas than that. But there prevails only one varna today, that is, of Shudras’, or, you may call it, Ati-Shudras’, or Harijans’ or untouchables. I have no doubt about the truth of what I say. If I can bring round the Hindu society to my view, all our internal quarrels will come to an end. That will also put an end to communal riots between Hindus and Muslims, and the people of India will occupy a place of honour in the world. Just as it is not dharma but adharma to believe in the distinctions of high and low, so also colour prejudice is adharma. If a scripture is found to sanction distinctions of high and low, or distinctions of colour, it does not deserve the name of scripture. One should approach the scriptures with the assumption that they would not say anything which is contrary to dharma.
Caste distinctions have taken such deep roots that they have infected the Muslims, Christians and others. It is true that there are class destinations in more or less degree in all the religions, from which one has to conclude that that failing is inherent in every human being. We can cleanse ourselves of that failing only by pure dharma. I have not found sanction for such distinctions between high and low in any scriptures. In the eyes of religion all men are equal. An educated, intelligent and affluent man is no better than an ignorant, stupid and poor man. If he is cultured, that is to say, if he has been purified by dharma, he will utilise his education, intelligence and money in the service of his illiterate, stupid and poor brethren. And he will strive to give them, that is to say, the whole world, what he has got. If that is true of religion, then in our present condition, devoid of religion our dharma lies in becoming Ati-Shudras voluntarily. A man should consider himself not the owner of his property but its trustee or custodian. He will use it for the service of society. He will accept only that much for himself as he has earned with his labour. If that happens, no one will be poor and no one rich. In such a system all religions will naturally be held equal. Therefore all quarrels arising out of religions, caste and economic differences will be ended.
At this stage it is also necessary to ponder over one further point. It is the foremost dharma of a subject nation to free itself of the bondage at the very first opportunity. A subject is compulsorily an Ati-Shudra. It is immaterial whether he has been given titles, or whether he is made a judge or a peon of a judge or whether he is a king or a pauper. The more titles one has the more abject is one’s condition under alien rule. Thus by correlating freedom with dharma and making the latter widespread, we shall in the natural course of things arrive at the state described in the previous paragraph.
A man who wants to follow his dharma will not bother about the time when this may be realized. If many people do so, it will not only end our subjection but there will not be any anarchy or confusion in our freedom. This is the swaraj of my dreams. I yearn for that. I want to live for the attainment of it. I am devoting every breath of my life to that effort. The reader is therefore requested to discard anything in this book which may appear to him incompatible with my views given above.
In order to save me labour, a friend who has digested my views and has done so with great effort, has sent me a brief note of my present views. Shri Kishorelal thought that I could save time if I could affix my signature to it. I was free to make any corrections I liked. But while going through it I found that Shri Kishorelal has, as is his wont, read through the whole book, has pondered over it and then has drafted a note as a testimony of my present views. Even if I cannot sign it, it should be published along with this. There is no incompatibility between his key and mine. Shri Kishorelal’s note is based on the study of this book and therefore it would be more helpful to the readers. May Truth alone triumph.”54
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Like his brochure on the Practice and Precepts of Jesus, Dr. Kumarappa’s on The Economy of Permanence is a jail production. It is not as easy to understand as the first. It needs careful reading twice or thrice if it is to be fully appreciated. When I took up the manuscript I was curious to know what it could contain. The opening chapter satisfied my curiosity and led me on to the end without fatigue and yet with profit. This doctor of our village industries shows that only through them we shall arrive at the economy of permanence in the place of that of the fleeting nature we see around us at present. He tackles the question shall the body triumph over and stifle the soul or shall the latter triumph over and express itself through a perishable body which, with its few wants healthily satisfied, will be free to subserve the end of the imperishable soul? This is Plain living and high thinking.”55
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This is an effective collection made by Shri P. D. Tandon out of numerous writings of numerous admirers of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It gives at a glance a good picture of the patriot as seen by various eyes. He shines easily as father, brother, writer, traveller, patriot or internationalist. Nevertheless it is as an ardent devotee of his country and its freedom on whose altar he would sacrifice all his other loves that the leader will specially single him out from the essays. Be it said to his credit, however, that he will consider it beneath his dignity to purchase that freedom at the price of any other country. His nationalism is equal to internationalism.”56
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This is a thoroughly revised edition of the Constructive Programme which I first wrote in 1941.1 The items included in it have not been arranged in any order, certainly not in the order of their importance. When the reader discovers that a particular subject though important in itself in terms of independence does not find place in the programme, he should know that the omission is not intentional. He should unhesitatingly add to my list and let me know. My list does not pretend to be exhaustive; it is merely illustrative. The reader will see several new and important additions.
Readers, whether workers and volunteers or not, should definitely realize that the constructive programme is the truthful and non-violent way of winning poorna swaraj. Its wholesale fulfilment is complete independence. Imagine all the forty crores of people busying themselves with the whole of the constructive programme which is designed to build up the nation from the very bottom upward. Can anybody dispute the proposition that it must mean complete independence in every sense of the expression, including the ousting of foreign domination? When the critics laugh at the proposition, what they mean is that forty crores of people will never co-operate in the effort to fulfil the programme. No doubt, there is considerable truth in the scoff. My answer is, it is still worth the attempt. Given an indomitable will on the part of a band of earnest workers, the programme is as workable as any other and more so than most. Anyway, I have no substitute for it, if it is to be based on nonviolence.
Civil disobedience, mass or individual, is an aid to constructive effort and is a full substitute for armed revolt. Training is necessary as well for civil disobedience as for armed revolt. Only the ways are different. Action in either case takes place only when occasion demands. Training for military revolt means learning the use of arms ending perhaps in the atomic bomb. For civil disobedience it means the constructive programme.
Therefore, workers will never be on the look-out for civil resistance. They will hold themselves in readiness, if the constructive effort is sought to be defeated. From one or two illustrations it will be seen where it can be and where it cannot be offered. Political pacts we know have been and can be, but personal friendship with individuals cannot be, prevented. Such friendships, selfless and genuine, must be the basis for political pacts. Similarly, centralized khadi can be defeated by the Government, but no power can defeat individual manufacture and use of khadi. The manufacture and use of khadi must not be imposed upon the people, but it must be intelligently and willingly accepted by them as one of the items of the freedom movement. This can be done only from the villages as units. Pioneers even in such programmes can be obstructed. They have had to go through the fire of suffering throughout the world. There is no swaraj without suffering. In violence, truth is the first and greatest sufferer; in non-violence it is ever triumphant. Moreover, men composing the Government are not to be regarded as enemies. To regard them as such will be contrary to the non-violent spirit. Part we must, but as friends. If this preliminary observation has gone home to the reader, he will find the constructive programme to be full of deep interest. It should prove as absorbing as politics so called and platform oratory, and certainly more important and useful.”57
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Perhaps the expression “Gandhian Constitution” is not a fitting title for Principal Agrawal’s3 pages. It may be acceptable as a convenient and compact title. The framework is really Principal Agrawal’s, based on his study of my writings. He has been interpreting them for a number of years. And as he is anxious not to misinterpret them in any way he would publish nothing without my seeing it. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is obvious. The disadvantage lies in the reader mistaking the particular writing being my view in every detail. Let me then warn him against making any such mistake. If I were to commit myself to every word appearing in these pages, I might as well write the thing myself. Though I have endeavoured to read the constitution twice, with as much attention as I was able to bestow on it during my other engagements, I could not undertake to check every thought and every word of it. Nor would my sense of propriety and individual freedom permit me to commit any such atrocity. All, therefore, I am able to say is that the brochure contains ample evidence of the care bestowed upon it by the author to make it as accurate as he could. There is nothing in it which has jarred on me as inconsistent with what I would like to stand for. The author was good enough to make such alterations as I thought were necessary.
The word “constitution” must not mislead the reader into thinking that the author has made any profession to give him a complete constitution. He has made it perfectly clear in the beginning pages that he has only laid down broad lines to indicate what a constitution of my conception would be. I regard Principal Agrawal’s to be a thoughtful contribution to the many attempts at presenting India with constitutions. The merit of his attempt consists in the fact that he has done what for want of time I have failed to do.”58
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Whilst I appreciate Shri Jagadisan’s invitation to contribute a few words by way of Preface or Foreword to his admirable collection of Rt. Hon’ble Sastriar’s writings and speeches on Gokhale the Good, as I would call him, it embarrasses me. However strange my claim may appear to the reader, I have called Gokhale my political guru. Therefore Sastriar is a fellow-disciple. And what a disciple and yet an amiable usurper! I was to have the honour of being Gokhale’s successor but I found in Sastriar a worthy usurper to whom I made a willing surrender. I could have given no satisfaction to the few wellchosen members of the society.5 I had, and have, no gifts which Gokhale had and Sastriar has in luxurious abundance.
I confess that however great may be my attempt at impar-tiality,I must fail to satisfy the critical reader. Fellow-admirers need no passport from me. And of whom was I to write? As I began to read Jagadisan’s selection, I did not know whether Gokhale absorbed my attention or Sastriar.
Therefore I would close these hasty and rambling remarks by warning the critical reader against his or her trying the questionable task of discovering in these pages an echo of his or her own views. It should be enough to find in them the transparent sincerity and patriotism of the writer or, shall I say, the biographer and the master.”59
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The following pages by Mahadev Desai are an ambitious project. It represents his unremitting labours during his prison life in 1933-’34. Every page is evidence of his scholarship and exhaustive study of all he could lay hands upon regarding the Bhagavad Gita, poetically called The Song Celestial by the late Sir Edwin Arnold. The immediate cause of this labour of love was my translation1 in Gujarati of the divine book as I understood it. In trying to give a translation of my meaning of the Gita, he found himself writing an original commentary on the Gita. The book might have been published during his lifetime, if I could have made time to go through the manuscript. I read some portions with him, but exigencies of my work had to interrupt the reading. Then followed the imprisonments of August 1942, and his sudden death within six days of our imprisonment. All of his immediate friends decided to give his reverent study of the Gita to the public. He had copies typed for his English friends who were impatient to see the commentary in print. And Pyarelal, who was collaborator with Mahadev Desai for many years, went through the whole manscript and undertook to perform the difficult task of proofreading.
Hence this publication. Frankly I do not pretend to any scholarship. I have, therefore, contented myself with showing the genesis of Mahadev Desai’s effort. In so far as the translation part of the volume is concerned, I can vouch for its accuracy. He has carried out the meaning of the original translation. I may add, too, that Pyarelal has interfered with the original only and in rare cases where it was considered to be essential, an interference which Mahadev Desai would, in my opinion, have gladly accepted, had he been alive.”60
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This is the second edition of the Hindustani-Gujarati dictionary. I have not seen any other dictionary of this type in Gujarati. A dictionary giving the words both in Devanagari and Urdu scripts seems to be a new venture. If the necessity of knowing both the scripts and speaking both Hindi and Urdu is accepted, a dictionary like this is a great necessity. This dictionary is not to be used in the same way as other dictionaries are used. If the student of Hindustani consults it frequently, his knowledge of both the scripts and of words from both the branches of the language is bound to increase. Another way of using the dictionary properly is that, if any mistakes are found in it, the reader should note them, as also words which he does not find in it, and send the lists to the Editor from time to time. The Editor may make appropriate use of the suggestions when preparing a new edition; or the additions if supplied as addenda, may enable the owner of the dictionary to use it at nominal cost, as if it was a revised edition. The addenda can also be sent as a supplement to everyone having the arrived at Ellore Station at 10.30 p. m., and stopped for fifteen minutes. About ten thousand persons including many ladies had assembled on the platform. Gandhiji . . . did not speak . . . but gave darshan by stepping out on a table placed on the platform. His message to Andhras was transmitted through loud-speaker . . .” A similar message was given to people the next morning at Vijayawada, when Gandhiji received contributions.”61
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have gone through some of the chapters of Bhai Jugatram’s Ashrami Kelavani. The language is not only simple and interesting, but it is apt even for the villagers. The author has described in a very interesting way all the trivial as well as vital aspects of the Ashram life. He has shown that though the Ashram life is a simple one, real joy and art are to be found in it. Whether my assessment is right or wrong, the reader should judge after reading the entire book.”62
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Appasaheb Patwardhan is one of my few co-workers who have thought over my views in an independent way. I have known him for the last several years. His thought is reflected in his behaviour. That is why his articles have a great impact. I have gone through this book, but not thoroughly. I do not have the time. I have very little knowledge of the Marathi language. I can’t speak it but I do understand the substance of the articles. Hence I cannot assert that whatever is written in this book conforms to my thinking. But I can certainly say that there is great similarity between my views and those stated in this book. Appasaheb needs no certificate from me. The source of his ideas may be my views, but their final form is entirely his own. That only adds to the value of the book. The readers, too, will find much material to ponder over and will be able to form their ideas independently.”63
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The following pages represent a labour of love. Professor Nirmal Kumar Bose first published his selections in 19341 and they contained extracts from my writings up to 1934. But my writings have never ceased and so the Professor felt that he should bring up his selections to as late a date as possible, i. e., up to 1942 with isolated later additions. Though therefore this is called a new edition, it is in reality a new book. The earliest and most elaborate attempt was made by the late Amulakhrai in Gujarati. But that was years ago. He covered my writings in Gujarati and Hindi too. The volumes being in Gujarati never attracted much attention. Such is our disregard of our own languages. But I have known nothing so thorough of its kind as these volumes.
Professor N. K. Bose’s is such an attempt. He gave me his manuscript early in 1946 when I was in Bengal to do with it what I liked. But my preoccupations left me no time to look at them till for very shame I was compelled to do so. The selections made by the author show the thoroughness with which he has gone into his subject. Those who are interested in my writings will not fail to appreciate the author’s labours.”64
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Charlie Andrews though a very great scholar was simple like a child, straight as die and shy like an Indian woman. With the biographers the record was a labour of love. I am sorry I have not read it.”65