GANDHI IN ACTION network

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

E-mail- dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net;

dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com

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

 

 

Love and Mahatma Gandhi- III 

 

Love is the only inducement that can be offered. You must understand that he alone, who loves his religion, loves his honour and country, will refuse to give up his resolve. 1 You have done me great honour in conferring on me the presidentship of this conference. I know only too well that from the point of view of the knowledge of Hindi, my qualifications for this honour are almost nil. The only thing which may be said to qualify me for it is my boundless love of Hindi. I hope that I would always be able to pass this test of love. 2 Love is a rare herb that makes a friend even of a sworn enemy and this herb grows out of non-violence. What in a dormant state is non-violence becomes love in the waking state. Love destroys ill will. We should love all whether Englishmen or Muslims. No doubt, we should protect the cow. But we cannot do so by fighting with Muslims. We cannot save the cow by killing Muslims. We should act only through love; thus alone shall we succeed. So long as we do not have unshakeable faith in truth, love and non-violence, we can make no progress. If we give up these and imitate European civilization, we shall be doomed. I pray to Satyanarayan that India may not turn away from her civilization. Be fearless. So long as you live under various kinds of fears, you can never progress, you can never succeed. Please do not forget our ancient civilization Never, never give up truth and love. Treat all enemies and friends with love. If you wish to make Hindi the national language, you can do so in a short time through the principles of truth and non-violence. 3

The power of love was never so effectively demonstrated to me as it was during the lock-out. The existence of God was realized by the mass of men before me as soon as the fast was declared. Your telegram was the most-touching and the truest of all. Those four days were to me days of peace, blessing and spiritual uplifting. There never was the slightest desire to eat during those days. 4 Owing to the heat today, I casually asked how far the venue of the meeting was. I was informed that it was close by, so I decided-to walk down. However, my young friends saw to it that I did not feel the heat. To be sure, that bespeaks their love for me. Their kind turn also suggests that the advice I have been giving has appealed to you all. You know, however, that my advice will let neither you nor me sleep soundly, nor will it permit any rest to my co-workers. It can mean only suffering, sleepless nights and running from village to village. You should let your buffaloes be seized, your jewellery taken away and your lands confiscated. It is because you believe that I advise you for your good that you shower so much love on me. I am very happy at this, but I am also fully aware, at the same time, what responsibility rests on me and how it increases as the fight intensifies. 5

Ask me to suspend my activities in that direction and you ask me to suspend my life. If I could popularize the use of soul-force, which is but another name for love-force, in the place of brute force, I know that I could present you with an India that could defy the whole world to do its worst. In season and out of season, therefore, I shall discipline myself to express in my life this eternal law of suffering and present it for acceptance to those who care. And if I take part in any other activity, the motive is to show the matchless superiority of that law. 6 They contain in the briefest form my views on Government and the philosophy of life, and the one to the Viceroy shows in the vividest form the view I take of the law of love and suffering. Passive Resistance expresses the idea in the crudest form. Indeed, I dislike the phrase as a weapon of the weak. It totally misrepresents the law of love. Love is the epitome of strength. Love flows the frilliest sic only when there is entire absence of fear. Punishments of the loved ones are like balm to the soul. 7 

I have made you thoroughly miserable; my intention, however, was to soothe you. Harshness is conquered by gentleness, hatred by love, lethargy by zeal and darkness by light. Your love flows in driblets; but, as a mere drizzle of rain goes to waste, so, I see, does love oftentimes. It is a heavy downpour of rain which drenches the soil to fullness; likewise, only a profuse shower of love overcomes hatred. Where you go wrong is in expecting justice. Go on doing justice yourself. Love is not love which asks for a return. If one were overflowing with love oneself, where could one store the love others might give? This is the hidden significance of seeing all as one. When Mira felt the stab of love, she was one with God. This is the principle of advaita in actual practice. Follow as much of this as you can; keep cheerful at any rate. 8

You will not be serving Vimala’s interests by staying in Sojitra and carrying out Manibhai’s wishes in all matters. On the contrary, you will be able to serve everybody by staying away and strengthening your character through tapascharya. Against Manibhai, you are only offering Satyagraha and Satyagraha can never be wrong. It is not any ill-will towards Manibhai but your love for him which keeps you away. Mirabai forsook her husband out of her love and so, in his love, did Lord Buddha leave his devoted wife and his parents. What is true for you is also true for Shivabhai. Supposing you return from the war unhurt, may it not be that things will have changed for the better for you, that you will be in a better position than to look after the children? 9 Love of India was a passion with him, her service an article of faith. He was indeed a rare man. He leaves a young widow to mourn his death. I am sure there are many friends of Sorabji to share her grief. 10

To be sure, we cannot do otherwise than sing to this effect, for our ignorance of many things is boundless, but, in fact, the working of karma is not as mysterious as all that. It is quite straight and simple. We reap as we so we get what we deserve. In this illness, I can see my own fault at every step. I must admit that nature had given me many warnings. I paid no heed to them and persisted in my ways, committing one mistake after another. I got punished for the first mistake; the punishment for the second was severer still. This went on, the severity of the punishment increasing with every lapse, as was but just. I see most clearly that there is no kindness like natures. Nature is God and God is love; and every mistake is punished in love. I am learning much through this illness. 11 Your love messages are all before me. They are like a soothing balm. The more I contemplate this illness, the more deeply I realize what love of man to man must be and therefore love of God to man. I see nothing but the beneficent hand of nature and it seems to me that what appears to us on the surface to be violent visitations of nature are in reality nothing but so many acts of love. 12

It was my privilege and my pain to be on the sickbed privilege to find so much love rained on me, pained that I should need it all through my weakness and folly. This rich experiencing of love makes an added call on such service as I may be capable of rendering to humanity. But service to humanity is service of self and service of self is self-purification. How shall I purify myself? It is the question that has been agitating me throughout my sickness; pray for me. 13 Am I worthy of the love which you have shown me by all of you coming over here this morning? I don’t think I am. As a rule, even outside the Ashram, I do not say anything merely in deference to convention and here surely I would not do so. My words, there-fore, are not just a form of good manners. I simply feel in the depth of my soul that I am not worthy of the boundless love you proffer to me. From one who has dedicated himself to the service of others, a great deal may he expect? In comparison, the little that I have done is of no account. You, too, all of you, have dedicated your-selves to service. I enjoin you all to hold back your veneration. It is not in the fitness of things to express it before a person is dead. For, how can we measure the worth of his work before his death, before we have seen it in its entirety? Even after his death, it takes some time to assess it. There is no point, therefore, in our celebrating the birth anniversary of a man before his death. 14

The other force which I have in various places described as Satyagraha, soul-force or love-force, is best illustrated in the story of Prahlad. Prahlad, as you know, offered respectful disobedience to the laws and orders of his own father. He did not resort to violence; but he had unquenchable belief in what he was doing. He obeyed a higher call in disobeying the orders of his father. And in applying Satyagraha to this movement, we shall be only copying the brilliant and eternal insistence of Prahlad. But we are living today in a world of unbelief. We are sceptical about our past records and many of you may be inclined to consider the story of Prahlad to be a mere fable. I therefore propose to give to you these evening two instances that have happened practically before your eyes. The one instance I related last evening and that was of a beautiful Tamil girl called Valliamma, eighteen years old, who died as a satyagrahi. She had joined the Satyagraha movement in South Africa which lasted for eight years. She was arrested and imprisoned during the struggle. In her prison, she got typhoid fever and died of it. It was she and her fellow-satyagrahis who secured the relief that you all are aware of in South Africa. There was a lad of about the same age as Valliamma’s whose name was Nagappan and who suffered imprisonment in the same struggle. He did not reason why he should join the struggle. He had an instinctive faith in its righteousness. He instinctively believed that the remedy adopted was the only true and effective remedy. 15

My writings cannot be poisonous, they must be free from anger, for it is my special religious conviction that we cannot truly attain our goal by promoting ill will against the .rulers or anyone else. There can be no room for untruth in my writings, because it is my unshakable belief that there is no religion other than truth and because I am capable of rejecting aught obtained at the cost of truth. My writings cannot but be free from hatred towards any individual because it is my firm belief that it is love that sustains the earth. There only is life where there is love. Life without love is death. Love is the reverse of the coin of which the obverse is truth. It is my firm faith and it is my experience of forty years that we can conquer the world by truth and love. I believe that we can remedy the mistakes of our rulers by means of truth and love and my writings can therefore have no incitement to violence to person or property. It is obviously not possible for me to read everything that is written or printed in, my name and I would therefore ask everyone to apply the above mentioned test to all that purports to be published in my name and I further wish and pray that everyone should reject anything that has the slightest trace of untruth, disaffection, hatred, violence and the like. I do not know the author of the poems mentioned above, but should he see this leaflet I advise him that it is necessary for him before attributing any words or statements to anyone to show them to him and obtain his permission to publish them as his. This is the least that prudence and self-restraint demand. 16

One of the axioms of religion is, there is no religion other than truth. Another is, religion is love. And as there can be only one religion, it follows that truth is love and love is truth. We shall find too, on further reflection, that conduct based on truth is impossible without love. Truth-force then is love-force. We cannot remedy evil by harbouring ill will against the evil-doer. This is not difficult of comprehension. It is easy enough to understand. In thousands of our acts, the propelling power is truth or love. The relations between father and son, husband and wife, indeed our family relations are largely guided by truth or love. And we therefore consciously or unconsciously apply Satyagraha in regulating these relations.  When men and women have gone a stage further, they would extend the law of love, i.e., Satyagraha, from the family to the village. A still further stage away from the brute life is reached when the law of Satyagraha is applied to provincial life, and the people inhabiting a province regulate their relations by love rather than by hatred. And when as in Hindustan we recognize the law of Satyagraha as a binding force even between province and province and the millions of Hindustan treat one another as brothers and sisters, we have advanced a stage further still from the brute nature. 17

Where both the parties are satyagrahis, there is no play for Satyagraha, no opportunity for the test of love. Insistence on truth can come into play only when one party practises untruth or injustice. Only then can love be tested. True friendship is put to the test only when one party disregards the obligations of friendship. We stand to lose everything when we are angry against the Government. Mutual distrust and mutual ill will are thereby augmented. But if we act without in the least being angry with the Government, but also without being cowed down by their armed force, and without submitting to what we believe to be injustice, injustice would of it be removed and we would easily attain the equality which is our goal. This equality does not depend on our power to answer their brute force with brute force, but on our ability to stand our ground without fear of brute force, and real fearlessness is not possible without love. A clear victory for Satyagraha is impossible so long as there is ill will. But those who believe themselves to be weak are incapable of loving. Let then our first act every morning is to make the following resolve for the day: “I shall not fear anyone on earth. I shall fear only God; I shall not bear ill will towards anyone. I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth and in resisting untruth I shall put up with all suffering.  That one cannot strike down an adversary without anger is universal experience. Only an Arjuna who destroys the devil within him can live without attachment. It was Ramdas brought up in the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita who not only endured the lashes of a wrongdoer but actually produced for him a Jagir. Narsinh Mehta, the first poet of Gujarat and the prince among bhaktas, was nurtured in the Bhagavad Gita teaching. He conquered his enemies only by love and has given through one single poem of matchless beauty the great text of their conduct to his fellow-Vaishnavas. That encouragement from violence can be deduced from the Bhagavad Gita demonstrates the deadliness of Kaliyuga. It is only too true that we often find an echo of our sentiments in what we read and see. If it is true that God made men in his own image, it is equally true that man makes God also in his own image. I have found nothing but love in every page of the Gita and I hope and pray that everyone will have similar experience of Sunday. 18

 

References:

  1. Speech to Ahmadabad Mill-hand, March 15, 1918
  2. Thoughts on National Language
  3. Speech on Indian Civilization, March 30, 19182
  4. My Dear Child, pp. 27
  5. Speech at Ras, April 18, 1918
  6. Letter to Viceroy, April 29, 19181
  7. Letter to Esther Raering, May 11, 1918
  8. Letter to Maganlal Gandhi, May 18, 1918
  9. Letter to Rajibhai Patel, July 25, 1918
  10. The Bombay Chronicle, 29-7-1918
  11. Letter to Anandshankar Dhruva, August 17, 1918
  12. Letter to C. F. Andrews, August 30, 1918
  13. Letter to Millie Polak, August 31, 1918
  14. Reply to Birthday Greeting in the Ashram, October 1, 1918
  15. The Hindu, 29-3-1919
  16. Satyagraha Leaflet No. 5, April 17, 1919
  17. Satyagraha Leaflet No. 6, April 25, 1919
  18. Satyagraha Leaflet No. 14, May 4, 1919

 

 

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