the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar, Professor, Editor and Linguist

Gandhi International Study and Research Institute, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229


Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India



Fragment of letters and Mahatma Gandhi   


We saw some fragments letters in collected works of Mahatma Gandhi. These letters have very authentic and useful thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi. So I collect all of them. From the experience of these two days I find that when I recite the verses in solitude, it has greater effect for my peace of mind. I want you to have the same joy which I find in reciting Sanskrit verses, Just as we cannot do without food and sleep, so also we cannot do without what is food for the soul the morning and evening prayers. Let us understand and follow this. We cannot respect the wishes of a person uttered while he is half asleep or when he is under the influence of drink or drug. We serve him by refusing his wishes. In the same way, we must not bow to the wishes of a man who is a prey to attachment. I think Surendra is in such a state of mind at present. It is my duty to shake him out of it, even if I have to administer him a shock for the purpose. I know that the experience will be painful to him for a while but, when he is ultimately free from his attachment, he will understand why I restrained him and see that it was for his good. My plan, in the last analysis, respects everyone’s freedom, for always what 1 say is entirely by way of advice. When my associates take up any activity which does not appeal to me, they may expect no encouragement from me but they can do as they wish. If you have followed what I have said and appreciate it, have a talk with Surendra and console him. 1

We may claim our experiment to have succeeded only if the Ashram women can swim across even in a storm. We need not worry if we stumble. Whenever we try to climb, there is always a risk of falling. We must take that risk. We may not knowingly take such a risk, but we should not turn back if circumstances force us to take it. We should learn to adopt towards women the same liberal attitude that we do towards men. Will not Lord Krishna protect our honour? We sing a bhajan which says that He will. Let us show that faith in our actions. 2 It is possible and necessary to treat human beings on terms of equality, but this can never apply to their morals. One would be affectionate and attentive to a rascal and to a saint; but one cannot and must not put saintliness and rascality on the same footing. 3 I should love to give Bengal three months. That can only be in my next incarnation. 4

She should begin by reading and pondering the verse: “Thou mournest for them whom thou shouldst not mourn for.” She should not squabble with Ba. She should not cry before her or anyone else. She should not dwell on her woes. She should think of whatever good qualities she may have observed in Munnalal, Balvantsinha and Mirabehn and worship them for those qualities. She should not think of their shortcomings and if she is reminded of them she should show forbearance. 5 It had been the Government’s design to get me to admit responsibility for the violence which would justify their repression, and show them to be innocent before the world. I did not oblige. Nothing would make me do so. Being in jail how could I be expected to know about it? So when I heard about Kishorelal, I immediately lodged a protest. You must try to understand this. Think over it. I have not been guilty of the slightest error. None but the Government says that I committed an error. That was a false charge. I had condemned all acts of violence. They wanted me to accept the Government’s version and condemn popular violence and condemn it from the jail. I refused to do that. There is no difference between what I am saying now and what I said in 1942. On the basis of the evidence available today, I have condemned certain acts of violence. When that information was given to me without any evidence, I promptly and unequivocally protested. Did you not read my reply to the Government? I have not gone back upon it. I believe that all type of killing and burning is bad. So, it taught a lesson at least to those who killed and burnt, did it not? The fact is that my correspondence was released only after the fast. You should read those letters. I have certainly condemned the violence. But how can I admit without any direct evidence that people resorted to such and such acts? 6

Don’t worry about my health. It permits my doing a lot of work these days. God alone knows for how long it will be so. It was due to my own folly that I fell sick in Kaira. I knew nothing of dietetics and pampered the palate. I realize every moment that if I submit to its cravings, it may undo all that I have methodically done till now, whether I eat five items of food or only one. Moreover I tell and not to worry about me. It is enough that one Almighty Physician is above us all to take care of me. I had your letter about don’t ask for a reply. I do write a few letters but that is because I get up very early. 7 Don’t you know the Gujarati proverb that ‘the first impression which the new bride creates at home and the new king creates in the public tends to become permanent’? In the same way now that we have swaraj and still use English instead of Hindustani, to who shall I address myself? The ocean is on fire. This much should suffice. 8 

After listening to the sweet and sad bhajan containing Draupadi’s prayer: “O God, guard me against insult.” I am also in a similar predicament today. Draupadi had mighty Bhima and Arjuna and the truthful Yudhishthira as husbands; she was the daughter-in-law of men like Dronacharya, Bhishma and Vidura, and yet amidst an assembly of people it appeared she was in a terrible plight. At that hour, she did not lose faith and prayed to God from her heart. And God did protect her honour. This bhajan has a deep significance. One can go on expatiating on it. Today I also am seated in a ‘palatial’ house, surrounded by loving friends. Still, I am in a sad plight. Yet there is God’s help, as I find each day. Ultimately Delhi will decide the destiny of the whole country. Our hearts have also become filled with much dirt. I am striving to remove it. But if I do not succeed I would not wish to remain a helpless spectator. I have therefore given up my desire to live for 125 years. May God give good sense to all? 9

You are more than a son to me; hence it is my duty to tell you what is right. Many people consider themselves smart and intelligent when they can argue about something. But one who does not bear in mind the time, the place, the circumstances and the occasion for it, ultimately loses his place in society. Keep this rule in mind. I am all right. I am in the midst of this violent conflagration. Although I am in a house as big as a palace in the grand city of Hindustan, I think of the plight of innocent children and thousands of women in this cold season. My heart bleeds but I do not cry. I do not believe in crying. In the end I have to do or die. I wish God grants this humble prayer of mine. You wish to come here to serve me. 10 I am convinced that nature cure of my conception is bound to bring great relief to crores of poor villagers. For example, if a villager has to undergo X-ray treatment, the poor man will have to run to a city or wherever there is electricity. This he has to do at his expense and at the expense of his family. Why should he not benefit from the limitless grace of the sun-god who rises in his village every morning? Add to this an intelligent use of air, water, diet, earth, and so on accompanied by the recitation of the name of one’s family deity. I have no doubt that if all these things are carried on with perseverance even an incurable disease will disappear without a pie having been spent. 11 

If we neglect the charkha that is, constructive activities like khadi, village industries, etc., after the attainment of freedom, we will be acting like a man who remembers God in sorrow and forgets Him when He showers happiness. If we neglect the charkha in free India, we will degenerate like the man who forgets God in his days of happiness. 12 I have made great progress in cultivating faith in Ramanama. I am surrounded by fire on all sides and yet I am not consumed by it. This is so only because of Ramanama. I derive profound peace from it. There is no doubt that I have benefited a lot from Ramanama despite this intolerable cough. 13  

Don’t you know that I was a barrister and Ba was almost illiterate? And, yet, whatever progress I have been able to make in my life today is all due to my wife. You have not been able to mention any other defect in your wife. But your letter suggests that you may have fallen in love with some college girl. Is that so? To wed another girl because the first wife is illiterate is sheer tyranny perpetrated by boys over girls. Allow me to say that you are the person who is really uneducated. I have not the slightest hesitation in calling you uneducated in spite of your being literate. It is because you are not able to teach your wife who is willing to learn. I, therefore, pity you. Try to understand, if this will make you understand. 14 Liberty does not mean license. If we work under somebody we appreciate his love for us. Didn’t Lord Krishna become Arjuna’s charioteer? If you can understand what I mean by this I have told you all that I wished to in these few words. 15 Nevertheless I am trying hard to have the controls removed. Let us see what God ordains. I feel God will take me away soon. Now there is no question of wishing to live for 125 years. I feel all the while that God will certainly give me eternal rest, in the near future. So much work piles up that it leaves me no breathing space during the day. 16

I am trying to sail on my own raft of dried gourd. I shall either swim or sink. There is no middle path in this religious sacrifice. 17 Yesterday I talked at length on food control at the Ministers’ meeting. I hope I have satisfied all of them. Let us wait and watch. My only prayer is: May God grant good sense to everyone. 18 These days I get so exhausted that at night I am totally lost to the world. The work goes on increasing and there is a great deal of mental exhaustion. According to me if Ramanama is enshrined in my heart I will not feel mentally exhausted. It has such miraculous power. 19

I appreciate generosity. But if generosity admits of no restraints it leads to extravagance. Extravagance is a vice. I have endless work here. I get utterly exhausted by the end of the day. There is a constant stream of visitors. How can I refuse to listen to their sorrows? Very often my own grief becomes overwhelming. Is this what our truth and non-violence have come to? Still, I retain my faith. That is why I derive solace from the dictum that “adversity is the mother of progress”. 20 I shudder at the thought of the condition of thousands of refugees in the severe cold here. It shows how much poison there is in us. Death is bound to overtake us who have been born. What can be better for us than to die at the hands of our own brothers? I cannot convince the people of this. It would be enough if I could demonstrate it in my own life. 21 I did get the news that Shamaldas showed bravery and won the battle. But today I am not happy about it. Why should I talk of my happiness and sorrow? To whom shall I talk? And who will listen today? I have taken a vow that I shall not step out of Delhi till I have achieved something or perished. Therefore it is not possible for me to go to Kathiawar. Kathiawari have maintained friendly relations with Muslims through the ages. If they do so now, it will certainly have an impact on conditions here. See that Kathiawar’s honour is not sullied. 22 

What you say is true. But you should have so much love in your heart that the children themselves would have the urge to finish their household work early and run to you. The attraction should be so intense that the parents will ultimately allow their children to go to you, realizing that the children are actually growing wiser. From your very long letter and the fact that you notice no change in the narrow-mindedness of the villagers even after two years, I feel that you yourself are to blame in some way. One should be able to discover one’s own shortcomings. Moreover, I am of the view that it will be easier for you to work amongst the less intelligent villagers as you call them, than with the so-called polite and intelligent people of the cities. Do give serious thought to this letter. If it is necessary to change your attitude or style, do so; then your work will shine forth. 23

Shamaldas has, true to his nature, behaved like a Nawab. Even this does not please me. But no one needs worry whether I am pleased or displeased; nor should anyone care. Ultimately, everyone has to rely on his own strength. Therein lays the true success of democracy. 24 I appreciate your desire to get your daughter admitted to the Ashram. Only bear in mind that I am not there but what of that? Many others are there. Ashadevi Aryanayakam is there. Kishorelal does not stay there these days. She should study the complete course under Nayee Talim; also all processes associated with khadi. She should learn Hindi and Sanskrit well. If she learns all these subjects with a steady mind, she will become an expert in my view. And she can teach me many things if I am still alive at that time. 25 What shall I write about language? My view is clear, namely, the national language should be such as can be spoken by millions of our countrymen. But we behave, knowingly or unknowingly, as if it was our birthright to oppose and contest every issue. As a result, we are able to achieve nothing. Though I do like to face such difficulties and am able to overcome them also, have you ever considered how much of our energy and time is wasted over this? Often a person who raises opposition is considered to be a leader and, therefore, those who aspire to become leaders oppose things. But we are what we are and we have to find a way out of the existing difficulties. “The path is surrounded by thick darkness; will that arrest your step?” 26 

The restoration of peace in Calcutta was due to the Muslims there and the credit should go to them. Suhrawardy and his co-workers had helped me there. The situation in Delhi is quite different. Here I don’t find a single responsible Muslim who can approach the Hindus, if only to die, or whose word weighs with the Muslims. Maulana Saheb and the nationalist Muslims have also lost this strength. Hence my work here is much more difficult than it was in Calcutta. I am doubtful whether I shall fulfil my vow of doing something here. But my other vow, that of dying, will certainly be fulfilled. For that I have not the least worry. May God take from me whatever work He intends me to do. If all of you stay there and carry on constructive work, it will certainly have its impact. We had recognized the need for constructive work when we were slaves. We will need it many times more to transform swaraj into surajya. Let not anyone think that the 18-point programme is of no use now that we have attained freedom. Today is the New Year day. May God light our path and cleanse our impure hearts. 27  

I fail to understand why we think or say that we should not have a single Muslim in our country. If that happens, let me tell you that you will once again be slaves. I intentionally write “you” because I do not wish to see slavery again. I hope God will take me away before such a day comes. Today is our New Year day. May God grant good sense to all of us and guide us on the right path. 28 For the last few days meetings of the Working Committee have been going on. Its resolutions, I am sure, will be good. How far they will be put into practice God only knows. My suggestion is that, in so far as the Congress was intended solely to achieve swaraj and that purpose has been gained—personally I do not think that what we have gained is swaraj but at least it is so in name this organization should be wound up and we should put to use all the energies of the country. In this way we shall be able to do a great deal. For instance, Jayaprakash has immense energy. But he does not come forward because of party considerations. I therefore feel that if the country can get the benefit of whatever energy each one of us has, it will prosper. 29

In no other country are widows insulted as much as they are in our country. But I place widows in the category of spiritual rishis. I do not have the least hesitation in advising you and other sisters to organize yourselves and see that if widows are not allowed to be present on auspicious occasions, or if restrictions are imposed on their diet or dress, the same rules apply to widowers. It is another matter if a wife voluntarily makes a sacrifice on the death of her husband. But I have no doubt that the rigidity of social customs and conventions must be broken. I am keeping well. I am dictating this letter to Chi. Manu. I am lying under a covering because it is cold. It is now 5.30 a. m. I snatch a nap while dictating letters. The work in Delhi is arduous. God will do what He chooses. Why should we worry over it? However, I think some untoward events are taking place. I expect you will understand a lot from these few words. A word is enough for the wise. 30  I have no doubt at all that so long as prominent people do not propagate Hindustani, it will decline. That means that our culture will die. It is our misfortune that these days in our homes father and son and brothers and sisters speak only English. Not even their own mother tongue! When the ocean is on fire that can put out the fire? 31

I find that God keeps me wide awake these days. How grateful I am! I often think how blind I was years ago; or was it that God had deliberately made me blind? If I say that, however, I think I would be trying to avoid blame in a subtle way; hence only the first half of the previous sentence is correct. You are a student of the Vedas and the Shastras and therefore, I presume, you will understand what I mean. Recently there was an incident. I have with me two young girls. They are almost of the same age; but not of equal education. One of them, it may be said, was brought up by me at Aga Khan Palace since her childhood. She is my granddaughter. The other is also a close relation. I have put Chi. Manu to various tests in Noakhali. She is younger than by one year. It must be said that by now Chi. Manu has learnt a good many things. But I have not been able to impress even the importance of prayer on. . . It is more desirable that we accept her as she is, rather than that I should forcibly wake her up or make her do things that please me. I therefore indulge her. But I have to look into my own heart to ascertain whether it is awake or sleeping. You must have seen my speech of yesterday. I do not think it will produce any effect. When a girl like . . . cannot see the importance of prayer, how can people understand what I said? God will do what He pleases. I consider it a good omen that my faith is growing every day. I hope you take good care of your health. You have still to do much work. And you must aspire to live for 150 years. How is nature cure progressing? I must do or die here. So there is no middle path. 32   

I must admit that there are differences of opinion between the two. No one can have any objection to mere differences of opinion. But it is bad when personal relations become strained on account of that. I am trying to make them see this. Not that what I say will be of any avail. And though I know all this, still I have to do or die in Delhi. 33 The more I look within the more I feel that God is with me. He does not have two hands and two feet. My God is Formless and Faultless and it is He who is giving me strength. These days the Working Committee meeting is going on and I am doing some plain speaking with them. We shall perish if we become cowards, that is, the Congress will die. I have no doubt about this. 34  I have read your advice. Is it not a fact that though Narasinh Mehta used to sing his bhajans in the midst of Harijans these bhajans are today chanted in your temples? Hence all advice is like soap-suds. Soap does produce lather; but this lather alone does not remove the dirt. Clothes become clean only when they are rubbed with hands. Similarly, if you wish to understand the nature of my work, you should delve deeper into it; otherwise all this is like pebbles inside a dried gourd. 35 

Recently the Working Committee had been meeting here and I did not have time even to breathe. But it is your duty to write to me even if I don’t write. Your first duty, however, is to take complete rest and recover your health. If you have now lost faith in nature cure, consult a good doctor in Bombay. If he suggests an operation, have it done. Do write if you need any help from me. Yes, what you say is true. The political atmosphere has become vitiated. But you are forbidden to worry over it until you are fully recovered. And if the Congress has become rotten, I have no doubt that it is bound to die. Rotten things cannot last long in the world and if a rotten thing is kept in some place it emits foul odours. I hope you know this. So repeat Gurudev words “It will not do to worry” like a mantra and get well. 36 One should admit one’s failings. One who admits his failings progresses in life. How long will we remain rebels? I feel you should submit your resignation. I prefer a bad man who admits his failings to a good one who does not even try to see his mistakes. We have no right to see the shortcomings of others. None of us is a perfect sthitaprajna yet. 37 

I feel very sad that we still write to each other in English. When both of us know Hindi quite well, why do we still write in English? I will not feel that we are independent and free so long as we do not pay attention to these small little things. 38 Don’t you know that these days I have stopped sending messages? I have only one preoccupation: ‘Do or Die’. I shall think of other activities only when I have accomplished either of the two. The situation here is getting worse every day. It is not a question of Hindu-Muslim riots only. The rancour within has now come out in the open, and it would not be wrong to say that the present delicate situation is a reflection of it. I have digressed to other matters. But you may take it that my blessings go with any good work. So think of God and get on with the work. 39 

We should be agreed on some matters at least, or should we not? Even as regards language we have raised such a storm that one might think a rebellion had broken out. The matter is simple. Our language should be that which the millions of villagers in India can understand and read with ease. If I had my way, I would give the same place to language as has been given to khadi in the Congress Constitution. I would allow only those who knew Hindustani to become members of the Congress. We should now have no resolutions in English. How many persons understand English in a mass meeting? But mine is like a pipe of carrot and I continue to blow it whether or not it produces any sound. The problem of States will be solved easily in most cases. Among the Kathiawar States, the attitude of Bhavnagar appears very sound, although there have been no negotiations directly with the Raja yet. I believe that his response will be good. Many of his men come here for discussion. I am keeping well by God’s grace. I have no doubt that we shall suffer if we neglect khadi. The Congress will not survive in a democracy if it abandons any one of the constructive activities. No party which does so will survive. The reason is that when you are there at the helm of affairs, you have been entrusted with power by the people in the hope that you will strive to relieve their misery. If we do not make such efforts and neglect those which have already been initiated, what fate will be in store for us? In the end, may God grant good sense to all? 40

Truth and ahimsa had been the weapons for achieving swaraj. Today we have forgotten both. Actually it was my fault that I believed that people had truth and ahimsa in them. But I was mistaken. Anyway I consider it my good luck that God has at last opened my eyes. And I regard it as God’s grace that even if I can do nothing else at least I shall now be able to do or die. I do not wish now to live for 125 years. I would either like to die bravely taking the name of God or, if Hindus and Muslims became sincere friends, would tour the whole of India and then go to Pakistan. How are you? How is Behn? Write about everything. The boarding-house must be functioning well. Tell all your students that I would very much like to go and stay amongst students because I am myself a student. Most of our problems are solved automatically if one remains a student or a humble person throughout one’s life. But today I am confined here. Let all the students be united and forget that they are Hindus, Muslims, Banias or Brahmins. I think that if they realize that they are all Indians, my presence there will not make much difference. 41

I am thinking of going to Panipat and staying there. I do not wish to take many workers with me. Manu will of course be there. If wants to go with me he may. But I think it would be better if he went to Rajkot or stayed with for the present because it is a matter of “do or die” with us. And there is no knowing when this yajna will end. Jawahar does not like the idea. I am trying to bring him round. If he is persuaded and consents willingly, I may leave for Panipat at the earliest. You must not be anxious in the least. Rama is the Protector of us all. As long as I have this faith, everything is right with me. God knows what will happen to me the day I lose this faith. 42 Now we are daily growing more and more barbarous. Yesterday I had some Christian visitors. I did not talk about them at length in the prayers, but they too are being harassed a lot. That is why I am praying within, ‘O Rama, now take me away soon.’ I have to admit that the intellectuals and the leaders are more responsible for these disturbances than the common people. Look at what happened in Sind. All the leaders managed to come away and the innocent people are being killed. Can we turn so sinful and deceitful? It makes me shudder. This is the situation today. Let us see what God ordains ultimately. 43 

Since I had no letter from you recently, I was beginning to be afraid lest you had fallen sick. You must regularly take sun-bath and apply mud-packs. Take complete rest and repeat Ramanama with eyes closed till you fall asleep. Give up all anxiety regarding your sons or other things. Don’t start taking milk yet. Take whey, as much hot water as you can and some honey. Among fruits, avoid heavy ones like bananas. You can take mosambis, orange or lemon; also raw vegetables, Stop all walking and reading. Get someone to read to you. Strictly avoid newspapers, because they publish all sorts of true and false reports about the country and about me, which make you anxious. Listen to newspaper reports only if you are a sthitaprajna. Listen to Ramayana, Bhagawat, the Bible, etc. If you carry out these instructions, you will recover soon and be in a position to share my work. 44 Why do we find the linguistic problem so difficult? But these days instead of settling our problems we think it is brave and clever to fight over everything. Or this is considered some sort of a fashion nowadays. Things are not all right here. People’s hearts are filled with poison. I am thinking what my duty is in these circumstances. I also feel that the leaders are no longer honest. 45 

Today I observe silence; and also write for Harijan. The articles I can somehow manage, but the letters pile up. I try to reply to them with due care, but rarely succeed in the effort. Should I not consider this as my shortcoming? I get up at 3.30 in the morning and devote all the time after prayers to writing. I snatch some time to doze a little. Then I go for a walk. From this moment right up to the time I retire at night, I am so hard pressed for time that I do not get a moment’s respite. But I have to listen to people in connection with the work for which I am camping here. That is how the cart jogs along. Once again since last night communal riots have flared up in Delhi. Who knows what scenes God intends to show me! My faith goes on increasing each day and the mind is tranquil. The body gets tired when I am required to speak a lot. Then I make some quick changes in my diet. All of us are, however, playthings in the hands of Rama. We have to dance to His tune. 46 The situation is becoming quite delicate here. There is too much rancour among the Sikhs. Only yesterday some Sikhs went inside a Muslim house in Chandni Chowk and beat up the inmates. What has become of us? 47

I think it would be good if institutions like the Nayee Talim, Ashram, etc., get integrated. There will be substantial savings also. The atmosphere will definitely undergo a sea-change. But all these aspects have to be considered by the Ashram inmates themselves. I see no early prospect of my going there. God will either save me or consume me here. 48 Lying down I am dictating this to Chi. Manudi. My hands become numb from cold. Chi. Manudi is even more delicate, although she is much younger. Such is the plight of our girls. Let me now come to the point. In my view, the Junagadh problem remains unsolved. If the Nawab had not run away and if he had handed over all power voluntarily, that would have constituted real victory. He ran away because he was afraid of you. I do not consider this a glorious achievement. What I wanted was that the Nawab should have stayed and done the will of his subjects. He could not become a servant of the people. This is possible only in a non-violent struggle. A mighty power like England was subdued by a struggle based on truth and non-violence and it transferred all power with its own hands. We have this illustration before us, and yet you could not win over the poor little ruler of Junagadh through love. I am not prepared to give credit to Shamaldas for any success or bravery. He is my own nephew. No one else knows him as well as I do. But what is the use of stretching the point? It is enough for me if I can die with Rama’s name on my lips and truth and non-violence in my heart. 49

I thought you were an innocent girl. One cannot think of marriage in this yajna. Yes, if your mother and father are keen you can get married but I cannot have the marriage here. Today I am burning in this fire-pit. Let us see what path God shows us in the end. You must complete your nursing course. I have heard many other things also about the Ashram. Don’t you think it is your duty to write to me about all this? If you cannot abide by the rules of the Ashram, you should leave it. 50 Today we are steadily going down and God knows to what depth. Khwaja Saheb met me yesterday. He may come today also. I am considering what my duty is when there is a threat to the lives of Khwaja Saheb and women like Sophiabehn. I realize what a blunder we have committed in partitioning the country and we continue to make more and more blunders. It is possible that I am mistaken. Let us see what path God shows us. 51 The Hyderabad problem has erupted in a more unpleasant manner. Kashmir is in the cauldron. I was not in favour of partition of India because I could foresee these developments. Hence I am not surprised at this crisis we are facing today. Those brothers and sisters who joined the Congress or courted imprisonment are scrambling for power and fame, as if they had done me a favour in doing what they did. 52

You must have got well by now. Your present duty is to study. You will gain nothing by giving up studies and coming to me. I will consider, and so should you, that you are serving me if you prosecute your studies and render service appropriate to your education. It is not as if one could serve me only by massaging my feet or making a couple of khakhras for me. On the contrary, those who render to the poor some useful service of my liking render real service. 53 I know that translations that appear in the newspapers are sometimes wrong and that is why I myself translate into English. God knows how it happened in spite of this. Incidentally only yesterday Khwaja Saheb had come. He also told me the same. I was very much surprised to hear all this. How nice it would have been if somebody had killed him! And he is a man who would have died bravely taking the name of God. I wish to go and stay in a Muslim locality. Nothing has been decided as yet. Let us see. The Hyderabad issue is a difficult one, Junagadh’s has become a sort of a farce. I don’t think it was a great achievement on our part. After all, didn’t we have the support of the Indian army? 54 

It is my misfortune that Kasturba is not alive today. Had she been alive, she would have actually demonstrated the kind of bravery that is expected from women in the present circumstances. And whatever place our women have achieved today is due to Kasturba’s courage, purity and steadfast faith. She might have been a totally uneducated woman, but she possessed all the virtues which a woman should have. On the strength of these virtues, India and I have risen high. I do not hesitate to say that the country or any of her citizens can hardly repay the debt. 55 I know that khadi and all allied activities have slackened because we have achieved swaraj. I am caught in the flames at the moment. If I succeed in this work, the other activities will take care of themselves. But in the present climate, what can one hope for all these activities? Finally, of course, India will get what is ordained for her. What can we do? 56 I can understand the plight of those who have been uprooted from their homes. But we have to find a way out of this situation. It is truly a boon if one can find happiness in adversity. I have not the slightest doubt that, if those who live in groups behave properly, everyone’s interest will be served. If the doctors, vaidyas, nurse, teachers, traders, jewelers, and people of other professions among the refugees help one another it cannot but have pleasing results. Camp life presents its own opportunities. If we could only co-operate with one another and regulate our lives properly no one would find himself in distress. We could then show the world that though we had lost our all, we were still fully prepared to face any calamity. I am sure that if only women displayed a little courage and freed themselves from narrow religious ideas they could render a unique service to the nation. I am convinced that no country where women are slaves can ever make any progress. I am amazed that while such barbarities are being perpetrated on women, men who call themselves brave merely look on. Look at the plight of the Punjab. Is that sort of thing enjoined in the Shastras? I fear that if we and our leaders do not wake up betimes it will be difficult to recover the girls that have been carried away to Pakistan. After the girls are brought back it is necessary to resettle them properly. Girls forcibly abducted are not to be treated as defiled. And does defilement only apply to women and not to men? How long must I go on writing? What can I write? My heart is crying. 57

I do feel angry but only with myself. Why should I be angry with you? Even if a woman like you hesitates to accept her mistakes, I do not see that you are at fault; the fault really is mine, for you have been brought up under my care. The atmosphere there perhaps was not pure and so you did not inculcate all the virtues that make for sound character. And it was my responsibility to see that the atmosphere there was pure. I did not see to it. Hence I cannot disown my responsibility. In the same way I assumed that the Satyagraha struggles were conducted solely on the basis of truth and non-violence. Today God has made me realize that that was not so. Hence I say that we make frantic efforts just to keep ourselves alive and therefore we cannot see our mistakes. Our ahimsa is not ahimsa. It has been used as a weapon of the weak. It is himsa that passes by the name of ahimsa. That is why today rivers of blood are flowing everywhere. What the consequences may be is anybody’s guess. But seeing all this, people like you should take pity on an old man like me and pray to God to take me away. I know that today I irritate everyone. How can I believe that I alone am right and all others are wrong? What irks me is that people deceive me. They should tell me frankly that I have become old, that I am no longer of any use and that I should not be in their way. If they thus openly repudiate me I shall not be pained in the least. And I shall also then cultivate the indomitable strength needed to serve Daridranarayana. 58

I am now an old man; and maybe the country is experiencing, in your sense, the surge of freedom. I do not see the joy of it on any face. It may be that since I myself feel no joy my eyes cannot see any. Does not a jaundiced person see only yellow? If everybody practised his own dharma our condition would immediately improve. Atman itself is atman’s friend and foe. It is quite true that has no use for non-violence and truth. But of what worth are non-violence and truth today? Truth is not a piece of stone. It is a diamond more valuable than the Kohinoor. 59 So long as saintliness is not of the heart, it is of no value to me. If saintliness is hypocritical it will destroy itself. I am not certain how long I shall have to be here. I must do or die. And since I am resolved to die I do pray to God that He may fulfil the wish. All of you too should make the same prayer. In Delhi, during day-time, many incidents, small and big, keep occurring. I have been and continue to be patient beyond measure. In the end it will be as Rama commands me. Thus I dance as He pulls the strings. I am in His hands and so I am experiencing ineffable peace. 60 

I am stuck here for now. I have no doubt that the needful should be done about the village industries. It is our misfortune, however, that I see no concerted effort in any undertaking. Of course one cannot complain if there is no unity; but what can be more painful than that such disunity should engender personal animosities? I am at the moment passing through a situation which cannot even be dreamt of. All the same I do not worry. My only prayer to God in the present situation is “one step is enough for me”. God will keep me as long as He needs me. Why need I worry about it? 61 No one can harm a person who is sustained by Ramanama. I believe in this principle and so I have no physical illness. It is by the grace of God that I am able to remain calm even though there is conflagration all around. Had it not been for this I would have broken down by now. That is why I proclaim at the top of my voice that I dance as Rama wills. We are in this world to do our duty. I believe that not a leaf moves without His command. And look at the pride of man; he believes he does everything. But God is magnanimous and only laughs at this abysmal ignorance. Now you will all understand where I am. You must all be well. What I write in Harijan shows me as I am. I am very clear about the language. In the same way I am clear about the political questions. Let us see what God wills me to do. 62  

Slackness in khadi work will not do. We should understand that the more we slacken the more we shall fall behind. This fragile thread has had behind it sixty long years of work. It still remains unbroken and thanks to it we have reached our present position. Even now I am convinced that if only we had plied the wheel more vigorously, the thread would not have broken even as slightly as it has. If we do not want to preserve what we have gained, then certainly we may let the thread snap. Fragile as this thread is, it has the strength to bind not only India but the whole world. My purpose in labouring the point is simply this: If India is to live and live well there is no alternative to the constructive programme. 63 Religion makes for peace, love and joy in the world. But man is an animal and possessing an intellect he goes on committing greater and greater sins. Therefore if we look at it in the right way science and religion are complementary to each other. 64

Medical science too has been much abused. Doctors and vaidyas have been exploiting it for fleecing their patients. In many instances they have even killed their patients. Through advertisements of drugs making false claims, people are made to pay at times even with their lives. But only the abuse needs to be stopped. From this it does not follow that medical science has been intended as a way of cheating and fleecing people. 65 The notion that our own religion alone is true and all others are false is instilled in children right from their infancy. So they develop the attitude that what they believe alone is true. 66 I hold that self-government is not an end, but only a means to good government. And true democracy is what promotes the welfare of the people. The test of a good government lies in the largest good of the people with the minimum of controls. The test of autocracy, socialism, capitalism, etc., is also people’s welfare or good government. In themselves they are of no value. Any system of government can fail if people do not have honesty and a feeling of brotherhood. There may be work, there may be men to do the work and tools with which to do it, yet in my view a system that admits of poverty and unemployment is not fit to survive even for a day. How are you all? I myself am quite fit. I have to do or die here. Manu is ill. She has been having high fever for the last two days. This girl has learnt much but she neglects her health. Unless she has high fever she goes on working. She inflicts much brutality and violence on her body. Doctors suspect typhoid. 67

We used to find the struggle against the British a hard task. But today it seems to me that that fight was a comparatively simple matter. The struggle today is much more difficult. We could make a mountain out of a mole-hill during the British regime. Today we are cutting at our own roots. 68 Blind imitation is evidence of paralysis of the mind. How can we apply the rule of measure for measure to something that is bad and imitate it? It betrays meanness to talk about the number of Muslims killed in India or the number of Hindus killed in Pakistan. 69 In my opinion there is no improvement in the situation here. For the present I am here but I am not sure what it will be possible to do. If there is peace in the city it is only from fear of the police. There is fire in people’s hearts. That fire must either consume me or must be extinguished. No third way seems likely at the moment. 70

Man today is afraid of man, afraid of his neighbour. How can I then talk about national issues? We deliberately bring suffering on ourselves, deceive ourselves. No one can harm another. In my view man is himself the cause of his sufferings. This city which is the metropolis of the country has the appearance of a dead city. No one trusts anyone. Such peace as one finds is to be attributed to the fear of the police. Why is it that the freedom achieved through non-violence is sought to be sustained by violence? I have been searching my heart. I find despair there. Maybe it was the will of God that I should witness this day. Now I have to do or die. 71 It does not appear likely that I shall be able to get out of here. I have to do or die. You may think there is peace in Delhi. But that peace is not the peace of the hearts. It is imposed by arms. I am waiting for the call from within. I have here three or four girls in attendance. I am living in the palatial Birla House. But I find no rest. The girls are serving me well. For the time being I do not feel the need to call upon your services. Of course the girls can leave whenever they want with my permission. Only Manu has a part in this yajna. The rest of the girls are here only accidentally. They can go as they came. I have to admit that Manu’s service in this yajna has been significant. Only, she has been neglecting her body. How are you all? How is Khadi Pratishthan doing? How many people are there in the Ashram? Ashrams should not depend on outside help. About Sevagram I have come to the conclusion that it should either become self-supporting or it should be closed down. The Ashram has become like a pinjrapole. 72

I am nowhere near realizing Rama yet, but I am striving. When I have the realization, the glow of my ahimsa will spread all around. The situation here is extremely perilous. About Kashmir Mountbatten is doing all he can. Whatever may happen, Bengal and Bihar must be spared the conflagration. If there is the slightest disturbance there you will not find me alive. Let everyone have this message of mine. 73 Everything about me is uncertain. But I am moving towards light. Your leucorrhoea must be cured. You should abstain from salt. Pulses in this disease are as poison. So are spices. Hip-baths, mudpacks on the stomach and rest are necessary. Had you been here I would have made you fast. But I have full faith that if you resort to these external remedies and recite Ramanama with your whole heart, you will certainly be cured of the disease. In India 75 per cent of the women suffer from this ailment. The main reason is the feeling of shame associated with it, total ignorance about the matter and unnatural eating and Living. It will not be wrong to say that our sisters do not have any idea of how terrible and painful this disease is. I have made up my mind that if I can extricate myself from my present involvements my first task will be to tackle all these diseases of women through nature cure. 74

Children should not write in pencil. They should not use a fountain-pen. Writing with a reed pen improves the handwriting. I hope you help your mother with domestic

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Ahimsa. 5 Replies

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Started by Arthur Bogomil Burton in Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave Nov 25, 2010.

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