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-IV

 

 

 

Since you have shown me so much love today, I appeal to you to show me the love that will bring back Satya Yuga. India is in a position to take care of itself. If we use only the cloth produced in the country, we shall be able to make the country secure in a very short time. I have been campaigning for the spinning-wheel. The chastity of women can be protected with the help of the spinning-wheel. There is no other occupation in which our millions of women can engage themselves while staying at home. This does not call for much intelligence. India must learn to be self-reliant. When India produces brave men and women we shall become self-reliant. We have to show the gallantry of Satyagraha. This needs more bravery than the bravery of arms. If that happens we shall be free right away. Protect your women and save those millions of rupees being drained out of India. You can work wonders even if you work only for an hour every day. You have shown me boundless affection. You call this money a small amount but it is bountiful. This gift given willingly and with good intention is bound to bear fruit. To me it has the value of a billion rupees. Hence, do not think that this is inadequate. If you find my appeal for work appropriate, prepare to train yourselves for that work in the interest of your country. 1

Remember that love is never afraid, it has no secrets. You will therefore open your heart to all and you will, I doubt not, find a response in every heart. Love will not be denied for it is ever patient and ever suffering. And love is service, therefore, it ever rejoices in service. 2 Whenever I go to Kathiawar, I receive much love. As a token of their love, I want all of them…the old and the young, the high and the low, the Rajas and their subjects…to observe strict swadeshi dharma and this they can easily do. 3 How much of this did I deserve? Those who showered their love were of course blessed, but what about the one on whom it was showered? Many women whose relatives were in jail expected, perhaps, that they would be released through my efforts. But who was I to secure their release? All I can say is that I offer all this love at the feet of the Lord in whose name I serve. 4

“Mr. Andrews is like a brother to me. I therefore find it difficult to say anything about him. The sacred relationship between us stands in the way. I can, however, say this, that Mr. Andrews is a staunch Englishman but has dedicated his life to India. Through his actions he tells us: ‘Even if you feel that you are oppressed by my countrymen, do not think ill of them, and look at me.’ If we revere Mr. Andrews, it behoves us to imitate his love. Our love must not be blind, but such as Prahlad showed for his father. Mr. Andrews’ life teaches us that, although we must resent and resist oppression and injustice, it is also our duty to bear no enmity towards the wrongdoer. The Government has placed us in a difficult position. They have refused even a temporary release of the prisoners. We had intended to give evidence before Lord Hunter’s Committee but the Government has made this impossible. We must not, however, yield to anger on account of this thoughtless step of the Government’s. Mr. Andrews has done far more for India than many Indians have done. He has not spared his countrymen but that does not mean that his love for the English is any the less. In like manner, we, too, can fight for justice and self-respect without harbouring ill will against the British or the Government.  When Indians do not always feel affection for one another, what can we expect from them with regard to the British? But these doubts arise from want of faith in God. An intellectual acceptance of the existence of God does not make one a believer. To believe in God but not to love people is a contradiction in terms. Faith implies truth and love. If these qualities could shine forth within us in their perfection, we would ourselves be God. 5

Its root meaning is holding on to truth, hence truth-force. I have also called it love-force or soul-force. In the application of Satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on one’s self. 6 The speeches of Swami Shri Shraddhanandji, the chairman of the Reception Committee, and of the Hon’ble Pandit Motilal Nehru were models of sobriety and breathed an earnest spirit. Each bore the individuality of its author. The Swami’s had a religious ring about it. He was full of goodwill towards mankind. “How can we hate Englishmen if we love Andrews, Wedderburn, Hume, Hardinge and others? We must conquer the English with our love,” said the Swami. The Pandit’s language, though perfectly courteous and restrained, is bitter. He compels a tear from the eye as he takes you with him through the different acts of the Punjab tragedy. He has examined the events of the Punjab with his legal acumen. Iron has entered his soul. He demands stern justice against the culprits. 7 

Narahari tells me you are now boarding with Imam Saheb. I am glad you will certainly feel at home there more than anywhere else if only because you have someone who will talk to you constantly in English. And you can shower your discriminating love on Fatima with immediate results. I shall feel deeply hurt if you lose your health and your peace of mind. ‘Resist not evil’ has a much deeper meaning than appears on the surface. The evil in Ba, for instance, must not be resisted, i.e., you or for that matter I must not fret over it or be impatient and say to ourselves, ‘why will not this woman see the truth or return the love I give her’. She can no more go against her nature than a leopard can change his spots. If you or I love, we act according to our nature. If she does not respond, she acts according to hers. And if we worry, we ‘resist evil’. Do you agree? I feel that that is the deeper meaning of the injunction. And so, in your dealings with everybody I want you to keep your equanimity. Secondly please do not deny yourself anything you may need for your bodily comfort. Ask me, if you will not ask anybody. 8 

There is magnanimity in what is done with love. Love will not have its actions weighed in a pair of scales. Anything which does so is not love, but the spirit of business. Such an attitude is out of place here. This collection is to be raised from Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and all others. I earnestly wish that readers of Navajivan contribute their full share in this sacred task. They should keep in mind that six lakh have to be collected without delay. 9 Please don’t consider yourself bound to stay on because I have expressed the wish. To express purest love is like walking on the edge of a sword. ‘None of self and all of Thee’ is easier sung than practised. We never know when we are not selfish even when we fancy we are all love. The more I think of it, the more I feel the truth of what I have often said. Love and truth are two faces of the same coin and both most difficult to practise and the only things worth living for. A person cannot be true if he does not love all God’s creatures; truth and love are therefore the complete sacrifice. I shall therefore pray that both you and I may realize this to the fullest measure. 10

I know you would love it and so would I. No man can supply the place of father but I would like to be that to you to the extent of my ability in this land of your adoption. I feel humiliated at the thought of your having to go to Denmark to recuperate yourself. Nothing would please me better than to send you to Denmark fully restored to health and a fuller Christian and a fuller daughter. And you have all the possibilities in you of a full growth in this life. May God grant you all your dearest wishes and may He make you an instrument of great service to humanity. Your love for India can only be acceptable as an expression of your love for humanity. "None of self and all of Thee" is a big prayer, the biggest of its kind.  Its root meaning is “holding on to truth”; hence, truth-force. I have also called it love-force or soul-force. In the application of Satyagraha I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent, but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but one’s own self.  I feel that nations cannot be one in reality, nor can their activities be conducive to the common good of the whole humanity, unless there is this definite recognition and acceptance of the law of the family in national and international affairs, in other words, on the political platform. Nations can be called civilized only to the extent that they obey this law. This law of love is nothing but a law of truth. Without truth there is no love; without truth it may be affection, as for one’s country, to the injury of others; or infatuation, as of a young man for a girl; or love may be unreasoning and blind, as of ignorant parents for their children. Love transcends all animality and is never partial. Satyagraha has therefore been described as a coin, on whose face you read love and on the reverse you read truth. It is a coin current everywhere and has indefinable value. 11 

Neither of the two letters above suggests that injustice may not be resisted. It is with the method of resistance that they quarrel. In my method, resistance to injustice is taken to the length of parting company with the wrongdoer, be he one’s father, if he does not change. If we do not, we become a party to the injustice. It is my personal experience that even if resistance to injustice is taken to the point of leaving the wrongdoer, it does not detract a bit from one’s love for him. Injustice is a great wrong. It is a test of one’s love whether one can love a friend despite his error. There is no great merit in returning well for good. As we learn from Shamal Bhatt, the enlightened man is one who returns good for evil. The Gita teaches us to look alike on friend and foe. 12

And just as it is necessary for the labourers to develop their minds by receiving education and to educate their children so it is necessary to develop the moral faculty in them. Development of the moral faculty means that of the religious sense. The world does not quarrel with those who have a true faith in God and who understand the true nature of religion. And if it does such men turn away the wrath of their adversaries by their gentleness. Religion here does not mean merely offering one’s namaz or going to the temple. But it means knowledge of one’s self and knowledge of God, and just as a person does not become a weaver unless he knows the art of weaving so does he fail to know himself unless he complies with certain rules. Chief amongst these are three that are of universal observance. The first is observance of truth. He who does not know what it is to speak the truth is, like a false coin, valueless. The second is not to injure others. He, who injures others, is jealous of others, is not fit to live in the world for the world is at war with him and he has to live in perpetual fear of the world. We all are bound by the tie of love. There is in everything a centripetal force without which nothing could have existed. Scientists tell us that without the presence of the cohesive force amongst the atoms that comprise this globe of ours it would crumble to pieces and we would cease to exist, and even as there is cohesive force in blind matter so much must there be in all things animate and the name for that cohesive force among animate beings is Love. We notice it between father and son, between brother and sister, friend and friend. But we have to learn to use that force among all that lives, and in the use of it consists our knowledge of God. Where there is love there is life; hatred leads to destruction. I hope that Anasuyabehn will help you to learn this great law of love and I ask you, if you recognize her love towards you, to reciprocate it by feeling in your own persons that same love towards the whole of humanity. The third rule is that we have to conquer our passions. It is called brahmacharya in Sanskrit. I do not use it here merely in its accepted narrow sense. He is not a brahmachari, who, although he may be a celibate or may be living a chaste life as a married man, otherwise gives himself up to a variety of indulgences. He alone is capable of knowing himself who brings under complete subjection all his passions. He who exercises self-restraint in its widest sense is also a brahmachari a man of faith, a true Hindu or a true Mohammedan. 13

But where shall we find men with the ideal of devotion to one wife? If there are none such, are the men merely to honour chaste and devoted wives and be satisfied with that; should they not honour such wives by themselves following with absolute firmness the ideal of devotion to one wife? What can be better worship than emulation? Where, on the contrary, there is not the slightest desire to emulate, what value is to be put upon mere lip-worship? I have been in India for five years and have gathered a good deal of experience of every aspect of Indian life. I have seen many a young man generally considered to have good character and to all appearances bearing great love for his wife, getting engaged and marrying soon after the wife dies. And this has pained me a great deal. If we had not been slaves of certain customs, the very idea that a man who had lost his wife should, even before he has returned home from the cremation, think of remarriage would be harrowing. Actually, the mother wishes to see her widowed son married again at the earliest. Even the mother-in-law encourages her widowed son-in-law to get married and the son-in-law is not in the least embarrassed when so advised. What is the meaning of such a man shedding tears [over his dead wife]? What is the value of innumerable efforts such a man may make to perpetuate the memory of his former wife? Again, how much value should the new wife attach to the love which he may shower on her? How can such a life be considered as guided by thought? I see nothing but wickedness in it and, as long as men do not mind being thus brazen-faced, to praise widowhood seems to me sheer hypocrisy and the very height of selfishness on their part. 14

I should once again like to tell Sheth Mangaldas as the leader of mill-owners and President of the Association, as a leading figure in the Vaishnava community, that, if he wanted the employers to have the workers under their full control, they should always do justice with God as witness, look kindly on them and love them as their own children. I want to assure him that, if they do this, the workers will not betray them. 15 The country was dear to him as his very life; we, too, thinking of him, should give up love of self and cultivate, day by day, in increasing measure, pure love for the country. He was devoted to learning and had a wonderful command over his mother tongue and Sanskrit; we, too, if we do not love or know our mother tongue well enough, should love and know it better. We should improve our proficiency in the mother tongue and in Sanskrit. There are a good many other gifts of his which we can note. Let us cultivate as many of them as appeal to us and immortalize him. Finally, those who can do nothing else may spend anything from a pice onwards on national work. 16

The Lokamanya love for India knew no bounds and, therefore, the people’s love for him was equally boundless. No one else has chanted the mantra of swaraj as continually as he did. While others sincerely believed that India would presently be fit for swaraj, he believed equally sincerely that India was already fit and ready for it. This conviction won him the love of the people. But he was not satisfied merely with believing this; he spent his whole life acting on this conviction and that fired the people with a new spirit. He infected them with his impatience for swaraj and, as the infection was caught, more and more people were drawn towards him. 17 You still do not understand Mathuradas. He and the others who surround me are superior to us, if you will allow me to include you. They are certainly superior to me. And it is as should be. It is my claim that I have selected as my companions my superiors in character, superiors, that is to say, in their possibility. My progress can only be little. Theirs is still illimitable. They are jealous of their ideal which is my character. I and (if you are mine in the purest sense of the term) you must give everything to retain or deserve their love and affection. There can be no yielding only on principle. For that we must forsake all and everything. But I would surrender the entire world to deserve love so pure and unselfish. Their love uplifts me and keeps me on the square. They are my sheet-anchor as I am theirs. You should be proud of their jealousy and watchfulness. They want to run no risks and they are right. You and I are in duty bound to satisfy every lawful requirement. And we shall have well met. 18

If my love is true it must express itself in sermons so long as you do not realize the ideal accepted by you as worthy. I do not at all like your doubting the necessity of the life adopted by you or the life you are trying to adopt. What can be the reward of always speaking and doing Truth even at the peril of one’s life? What can be the reward of dying for one’s country? What is the reward of your having given years to acquiring perfection in piano-playing? You give all for the cause you represent because you cannot do otherwise. Your satisfaction must depend upon complete surrender. A surrender that gives not satisfaction is compulsory surrender, unworthy of a self-respecting person. And if your association with me does not teach you this simple truth, I must be unworthy of your love. For, if my life has not taught you this much, I am a worthless being. There is no worth in me except the capacity for unlimited self-surrender and truthfulness. All have noticed these two qualities in me and there must be something wrong in me if you who have penetrated my life so deeply have failed to notice them. And what can I give you to share except my richest possessions? And so, you must not resent my giving you sermons but receive them in the same loving manner in which they are delivered. If I am your Lawgiver and if I do not always lay down the law, surely I must at least reason with you on things of eternity or supreme importance for the country for which we live and which we love so well. But this does not mean that you must not write nasty things if you think them. My plea is that you must cease to think nasty thoughts. 19

At the outset let me assure Sir Narayan that I have not changed my views on ahimsa. I still believe that man not having been given the power of creation does not possess the right of destroying the meanest creature that lives. The prerogative of destruction belongs solely to the Creator of all that lives. I accept the interpretation of ahimsa, namely, that it is not merely a negative state of harmlessness but it is a positive state of love, of doing good even to the evil-doer. But it does not mean helping the evil-doer to continue the wrong or tolerating it by passive acquiescence—on the contrary, love, the active state of ahimsa, requires you to resist the wrong-doer by dissociating yourself from him even though it may offend him or injure him physically.

Thus if my son lives a life of shame, I may not help him to do so by continuing to support him; on the contrary, my love for him requires me to withdraw all support from him although it may mean even his death. And the same love imposes on me the obligation of welcoming him to my bosom when he repents. But I may not by physical force compel my son to become good that in my opinion is the moral of the story of the Prodigal Son. Non-co-operation is not a passive state; it is an intensely active state more active than physical resistance or violence. Passive resistance is a misnomer. Non-co-operation in the sense used by me must be non-violent and therefore neither punitive nor vindictive nor based on malice, ill will or hatred. It follows therefore that it would be sin for me to serve General Dyer and co-operate with him to shoot innocent men. But it will be an exercise of forgiveness or love for me to nurse him back to life, if he was suffering from a physical malady. I cannot use in this context the word co-operation as Sir Narayan would perhaps use it. I would co-operate a thousand times with this Government to wean it from its career of crime, but I will not for a single moment co-operate with it to continue that career. And I would be guilty of wrong doing if I retained a title from it or “as service under it or supported its law-courts or schools”. Better for me a beggar’s bowl than the richest possession from hands stained with the blood of the innocents of Jallianwala. Better by far a warrant of imprisonment than honeyed words from those who have wantonly wounded the religious sentiment of my seventy million brothers. 20

I cast the accounts of the Government’s rule and found that it had taken away more than it had given. I saw that the Reforms gave no reforms, but made the position worse. The Government’s power is maintained not because of its machine-guns, but because of our deluded love for it. This love has taken three forms: Love for the councils, which Dwijendranath Tagore has compared to Sita’s infatuation for the illusory deer, love for the courts and love for education. I say nothing about titles and similar honours, for very few have them. But we are very much in the grip of the three abovementioned infatuations. Our great leader, the learned and veteran Lala Lajpat Rai, is also their victim. Madan Mohan Malaviya, whom I have always revered, also believes that I have lost my head and that I am misleading the people. He thinks that it is dharma to enter councils and to attend schools. To my mind, it is a sin to enter councils and attend courts and an altogether heinous sin to attend schools.   

But if this demonstration cannot be put down by force, it cannot also procure swaraj for India unless regulated and harnessed for national good. There are in it all the elements of success as well as of self-destruction. It cannot lead to the promised goal if the nation in extravagant affection wastes its servants by encroaching upon their hours of needed rest. We must therefore cease to have nocturnal demonstrations. We must have consideration for the feelings of the lowest of our fellow-beings. We must not disturb the rest of a trainload of passengers. We must learn to transmit our love for our heroes into unquenchable energy and useful action. Love that is satisfied with touching the feet of its hero and making noise at him is likely to become parasitical. Such love ceases to be a virtue and after a time becomes a positive indulgence and therefore a vice. The great task before the nation today is to discipline its demonstrations if they are to serve any useful purpose. Non-co-operation is not designed to create hate but to purify the nation to the point of rendering it proof against the injurious aggression whether from within or from without. Non-co-operation to be effective must be prevented by co-operation between all the units composing this great and ancient people. Let us begin by co-operating with our loved ones. 21 I have also realized that, till we have learnt to cherish love for people of all other religions and for all our neighbours, we shall not succeed in our efforts for the country’s welfare. I have not come here to tell you that you should change and permit people to eat in the company of Muslims or marry among them, but I have certainly come to tell you that we should bear love to every human being. I pray that you teach your children to love members of other faiths. 22

 

 

References:

 

  1. Bapujini Sheetal Chhayaman, pp. 95
  2. Letter to Esther Faering, October 23, 1919
  3.  Navajivan, 26-10-1919
  4. Navajivan, 23-11-1919
  5. Navajivan, 30-11-1919 
  6. Evidence Before Disorders Inquiry Committee, Vol. II, pp. 251
  7. Young India, 7-1-1920
  8. Letter to Esther Faering, January 25, 1920
  9. Navajivan, 15-2-1920
  10. Letter to Esther Faering, February 12, 1920
  11. Letter to Esther Faering, February 15, 1920
  12. Navajivan, 18-4-1920
  13. Young India, 28-4-1920
  14. Navajivan, 16-5-1920
  15. Navajivan, 30-5-1920
  16. Letter to Dayalji, August 1, 1920
  17. Navajivan, 8-8-1920
  18. Letter to Sarladevi Chaudhrani, August 23, 1920
  19. Letter to Sarladevi Chaudhrani, August 24, 1920
  20. Young India, 25-8-1920
  21. Navajivan, 20-10-1920
  22. Navajivan, 28-11-1920

 

 

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