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-V 

 

 

My love for you is not a task. It is one of the keenest pleasures of my life. It is based on faith in you, i.e., in your ultimate goodness. It will go only if I find you to be bad. My love is nothing if it does not draw the best out of you and make you better and purer than you are. And you must bear with me if in the process of helping you sometimes I seem to be rubbing you up the wrong way. Anyway, I am studying you and shall endeavour not to do so. 1 I love Englishmen in the same way as I love Mr. Shaukat Ali and Mr. Das. But what I say is this, that this Administration is Satanic. If God gives me enough power, I will rectify this Government or end it; I will not rest until I have mended this Government. I know full well that today I am violating the Seditious Act sic of the Government I am a loyal subject of this Government and I am also its loyal friend and as such I tell the Government to reform itself or be destroyed. I will take part in its destruction and I invite you, too, to join with me. Either we will mend this Government or destroy it. I cannot live to see the black disgrace by Englishmen with impunity I want to meet Englishmen in the open field and tell them that we, too, do possess the same amount of strength as they do. 2

Your love for me is based on your belief in my purity and gentleness. I am worth nothing if I have not these and I should hold myself unfit for all the renunciation of yours described in your previous letter. I have been analyzing my love for you. I have reached a definite meaning of spiritual wife. It is a partnership between two persons of the opposite sex where the physical is wholly absent. It is therefore possible between brother and sister, father and daughter. It is possible only between two brahmacharis in thought, word and deed. I have felt drawn to you, because I have recognized in you an identity of ideals and aspirations and a complete self surrender. You have been ‘wife’ because you have recognized in me a fuller fruition of the common ideal than in yourself. For this spiritual partnership to subsist there must be complete coincidence not from faith, but from knowledge. It is a meeting between two kindred spirits. This partnership can take place whilst either party is physically married to another, but only if they are living as celibates. 3

When Jesus described his times as a generation of vipers, it was not out of anger. At a time when everyone was afraid of telling the truth, Jesus risked his life, described hypocrisy, pride and Eying in plain terms for what they were and so put innocent and simple folk on their guard, and saved them. When the Buddha, with the lamb on his shoulder, went up to the cruel Brahmins who were engaged in an animal-sacrifice, it was in no soft language that he spoke to them; he was, however, all love at heart. Who am I in comparison with these? Even so, I aspire to be their equal in love in this very life. Let the reader not think me presumptuous on this account. The highest ideal I have set before myself is a Mehta of Gujarat, Shri Narasinhrao namesake. His love was no less than that of the Buddha. 4

Brothers, you have listened to me with such love and attention that I am very pleased-with you. But I do not want blind, mad love for me. I want the conscious love of India. With such love for me, I shall be able to free India. Again I ask you to remember my words and pray to God that He may give you and me power to win swaraj and bless you. 5 It is not broken simply by one side breaking it, though perhaps in a sense it may be. The law does not bind the party that breaks it, but love may bind even the person so breaking it. Hari has bound me to Him by a slender cord, As He pulls me so do I turn. My heart by love’s dagger has been pierced. Thus sang Mira proved by her actions that it was so. The same slender cord will suffice to bind the Muslims and to save the cow. Bhoja Bhagat, however, has described for us the conditions of love Also. 6

I thought of you the whole of Monday but was not able to reach the letter. I wanted to write to you. I wanted to tell you how forcibly I felt the truth of what I have said in one sentence in my Tibbia College speech. The crime against the untouchables I feel, the exploitation of the dumb millions I feel, but I realize still more clearly our duty to the lower animal world. When Buddha carried that lamb on his back and chastised the Brahmins, he showed the highest measure of love. The worship of the cow in Hinduism typifies that love. And what does that love demand certainly not hospitals for cattle ill-treated by fellow-beings, though they are not to be destroyed, but promotion of kindness to beasts. Our love consists in our getting off the necks of our dumb fellow-creatures. The more helpless the lower life, the greater should be our pity. 7

Some Parsi writer may ask why the Gujarati that the Parsis write should not be accepted as genuine Gujarati. It-is easy to meet this argument. That Gujarati which is spoken and written by hundreds of thousands of educated people who have their home in Gujarat is true Gujarati. Having been derived from Sanskrit and being its daughter, Gujarati must necessarily lean on Sanskrit no one can question that. Parsi writers and teachers can serve Gujrati, if only they mean to. As we grow in patriotism, our love for our mother tongue should also grow. When our love of our language has grown, when all our regional work is carried on in Gujarati, what sort of Gujarati shall we use then? In what sort of Gujarati shall we frame our laws? In what sort of Gujarati shall we write our text-books? Our casual attitude to Gujarati bespeaks want of love on our part for our country and language. It is improbable that there should be patriotism but no eagerness to cultivate love of the language. All the three communities, Hindus, Muslims and Parsis, speak Gujarati Being traders, all the three travel about in the whole of India and go abroad as well. The thing in virtue of which they are known as Gujaratis is their language. It is the duty of all the three communities to serve it. 8

I am not enamored of uncleanliness. Nor am I in love with the Bhangi. I am not given to exaggeration. I believe in the holy books of the Hindus and am proud of Hinduism. My love of truth, however, keeps me unattached and saves me from a blind acceptance of all that goes on in the name of the shastras. The more I think, in all humility, the more I feel that in the name of religion the Hindus have inflicted upon the Bhangis and other castes the same Dyerism which the Empire let loose [upon us]. As I call the Empire’s Dyerism Satanism, so do I look upon untouchability as a form of Satanism? I have been working hard to free Hinduism of this evil and I pray to God to make me fit for still more rigorous tapascharya for the purpose. 9

This is the birth-place of the late Dadabhai Naoroji. I visited his house. For me, it is a place of pilgrimage. But even apart from my relations with him, how close my association with Parsi men and women is I have shown to some extent in my open letter to the Parsis. Even in that letter, I have not given all my happy memories. There was no space for them in it. My memories about them are so happy and my association with them has been so close that I feel under a debt to them. I wrote that letter to repay my debt. I cannot forget the love which the Parsis have showered on me in India, in England, in South Africa, in Zanzibar and in Aden. I can certainly say this about myself, that I am not ungrateful. I can appreciate the value of a good turn and that is why it will pain me if the Parsis remain aloof or even neutral in the great movement that is now going on. I have love for the Parsis and respect for their abilities; I know from experience how intelligent and efficient they are. From all this, I believe that they cannot remain aloof from this movement. It will certainly pain me if they do so or refuse to join non-co-operation. 9 

When I compare this love with what I recently enjoyed in Gujarat, they seem to me to be alike. Wherever I go, I feel as if I was receiving the same love as in Gujarat. The reason is that I can regard Sind, too, as my land and feel the joys and sorrows of the Sindhis as much as I do those of Gujaratis. I do not desise even in my dreams any benefits to Gujarat at the cost of Sind. But my patriotism and my religion make me vigilant lest Sind should learn the weakness of Gujarat. Just as I would never have Sind suffer in order that Gujarat may benefit, about foreign countries, too, I feel the same. I would not be guilty of seeking any benefit to India at the cost of a foreign country. I regard only such an attitude as true patriotism. 10 It is not the rulers against whom we employ non-cooperation; we employ it against the policy followed by them. Our non-co-operation is not directed against individuals. We have never stopped any Bhangi or potter from serving an official, nor do I consider it desirable that we should. How then can we dissuade Bhangis and others from serving our brethren who, holding views different from ours, enter Councils? We wish to win over everybody through love. If you would not have it that way, at any rate, we do not want to force anybody to be on our side but want to propagate our views by awakening people’s reason and pleading with them. Non-co-operation from reason; it does no spring from adharma but from dharma, from faith in oneself. 11

There is only a half-truth in what the correspondent says. Of course I wish to win over my opponents, but not by saying something in which I do not believe. This friend writes: “If anger is a sign of love, then General Dyer also can be said to have committed the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh out of love.” To me, at any rate, this argument seems to proceed from sheer ignorance. A father is often angry with his son because he loves him, but General Dyer’s anger was entirely the result of hatred. It is clear enough why I take the anger of the Vaishnavas as a sign of love. They have nothing against me personally. They approve of my other actions. On the question of untouchability, however, they think I am in the wrong and are angry with me for what they take to be my error. They do not write to others who violate established practices, or express indignation over their conduct. We can cite numerous other instances to prove this. I request my correspondent to think again. 12

I have heard much else. I do not wish to go into all that here. They are old stories. I have written this leaflet simply to entreat you not to impede the current of purifying oxygen which is circulating at present. I beg of you to understand the love which has prompted me to write this, to read it with love and act upon my humble suggestion. I pray to God that He may bless you with a sense of justice and grant that the Princes of Kathiawar and their subjects find their happiness on the path of right. 13 

I am in love with my ideas and theories. I am firmly of opinion that they are good for India, and if I may say it in all humility, good for all. And so I am yielding to the pressure of friends and workers to issue a Hindi edition. I know that several translations in Hindi appear in different parts of India. But the desire has been to put under one cover an authorized free translation of selected articles from the Navajivan and Young India. This is now being done. The Hindi of the edition will really be Hindustani, a resultant of Hindi and Urdu simple words understood by both Hindus and Mussulmans. An attempt will be made to avoid ornamentation. 14

The faith and devotion of the Biharis are beyond description. I know well your love for mother cow. You are the admirers of Tulsidas, supreme among devotees. You follow the religion of compassion. There is only one golden way of saving mother cow you should help your Muslim brethren in saving that other cow which is the Khilafat. Conquered thus by love, our Muslim brethren can save the cow. Our religion does not teach us that in order to save an animal we should take a human life. We should sacrifice our own lives for the life we wish to save. Our religion calls it tapascharya. We can follow religion only through tapascharya. Tapascharya emerges out of compassion and in compassion alone is dharma. 15

The questioner has partly answered the question himself. Nonviolence may succeed, even if it is adopted as a matter of policy rather than creed, if it is combined with courage and real love for the country or the cause. Hatred of the wrongdoer does not necessarily mean love of the country. Our difficulty arises from the fact that many people make pretence of non-violence without believing in it even as a policy. The Ali Brothers believe in it purely as a policy, but in my opinion there are no two truer believers in non-violence as a policy than they. They do believe that violence can only hurt the cause, and that non-violence if extensively practised can entirely succeed. A man who honestly practises truth as a policy certainly gains its material results, but not the one who feigns truth. 16 

What Mr. Andrews has put in loving language, correspondents already out of tune with me have written in coarse, angry and even vulgar words. Mr. Andrews’ being words of love and sorrow have gone deep down in me and command a full answer, whereas the angry ones I was obliged to lay aside save for a passing reference. Mr. Andrews’ being non-violent, charged with love, has told. The others being violent, charged with malice, took no effect and would have evoked angry retorts, if I was capable of or disposed to such retorts. Mr. Andrews’ letter is a type of non-violence we need in order to win swaraj quickly. 17

Love of foreign Cloth has brought foreign domination, pauperism and what is worst, shame to many a home. The reader may not know that not long ago hundreds of “untouchable” weavers of Kathiawar having found their calling gone became sweepers for the Bombay municipality. And the life of these men has become so difficult that many lose their children and become physical and moral wrecks; some are helpless witnesses of the shame of their daughters and even their wives. The reader may not know that many women of this class in Gujarat for want of domestic occupation have taken to work on public roads, where, under pressure of one sort or another, they are obliged to sell their honour. The reader may not know that the proud weavers of the Punjab, for want of occupation, not many years ago took to the sword, and were instrumental in killing the proud and innocent Arabs at the bidding of their officers, and not for the sake of their country but for the sake of their livelihood. It is difficult to make a successful appeal to these deluded hirelings and wean them from their murderous profession. What was once an honourable and artistic calling is now held by them to be disreputable? The weavers of Dacca, when they wove the world-famous subaum, could not have been considered disreputable. 18

Parsi philanthropy, however, takes the form of giving money. Money comes in and goes out. What will be their fate if they can earn money no more? Monetary philanthropy is only a very small part of soul-force. When talking to Parsi friends, I have often said that the Parsis are now being put to a test. If they wish to retain their glory only by counting their millionaires, they will not succeed. I have told Parsi friends that there was every danger of their spiritual growth being arrested because of excessive wealth. Every literate Parsi knows by now that I am simply in love with his community. I have also given the reasons for my love. This love of mine has been hurting me ever since I observed certain signs of moral weakening among the Parsis. 19 

Surely, if we are to attain swaraj this year, and to redress the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs this year, we should follow nonviolent non-co-operation without causing the slightest confusion. Love that expresses itself in confusion is blind love. And what today India requires most is enlightened love. And enlightened love translates itself not in vocal demonstrations but real, substantial actions. The honour of every Indian demands that we should not rest quiet for a single minute until Maulana Mahomed Ali and Shaukat Ali are released from prison by our own efforts. Their discharge will be a proper discharge from prison if and were it to be by the reason of our having attained swaraj. And swaraj if it means nothing else undoubtedly means discipline. I hope therefore that leaders of this place will see to it that they give practical demonstrations to the citizens in conducting meetings in discipline, so that orders are obeyed implicitly. For, we have understood, the Congress in two successive sessions has shown us the way to attain swaraj. And that is the way of non-violence. And we shall not succeed till we practise non-violence with full knowledge. I hope therefore that the people of Cuddalore District will have preliminary lessons by propaganda and practice. There is no doubt that we are at the present moment in an excited state. On the one hand repression by the Sircar irritates us, on the other; hope of something good in future throws us off our balance. It is just the state that predisposes to violence. And any violence on the part of the non-co-operators certainly blocks the way to swaraj. 20 

Expression of love cannot be forced on anyone. If it is explained to the people that remaining quiet are also a sign of love or respect, they will immediately understand the idea. I tried this experiment in two meetings. My feet got crushed as I was passing through the mass of people and I was irritated by the slogan shouting. At one place, it took me twenty minutes to reach the rostrum. At both these places I devoted one fourth of my speech to the need for remaining quiet at meetings, preserving peace and making room for the leaders to pass. The result, at both the places, was that on our leaving the meeting they made way for us, there was no slogan-shouting and the people did not get up till we had left and so, while earlier it had taken twenty minutes to make our way through the crowd, it took only one minute while leaving.  

A writer in the public Press indignantly asks: “How can I reconcile picketing with my doctrine of love? Is not picketing a form of violence or undue pressure?” It can be that certainly It has been that in several cases, I am sorry to say. But it has been also an act of love, I know. Several sisters and young lads have gone on picketing purely out of love. Nobody has accused me of hatred against Marwaris. Nobody can possibly accuse Sheth Jamnalalji of hatred against his own caste-men and fellow merchants. And yet both he and I are countenancing picketing of Marwari foreign cloth shops. When a daughter stands guard over her erring father, she does it purely out of love. The fact is, that there are certain acts that are common to all classes of men. And when they are not in themselves objectionable, the motive alone decides their quality. My own position becomes complicated by reason of my having to invite and rely upon the co-operation of those who are not all actuated by motives of affection. 21

I love the Ali Brothers as I love my blood-bothers. But I would not plead with the Government if its judges sentenced them to be hanged. I would know that it was a glorious death they had died and would envy them their good fortune. If they are sentenced to penal servitude for life, I would know that I would release them by the establishment of swaraj at the earliest opportunity. 22

The practice which had probably its origin in good intentions hardened into usage, and even verses crept in our sacred books giving the practice a permanence wholly undeserved and still less justified. Whether my theory is correct or not, untouchability is repugnant to reason and to the instinct of mercy, pity or love. A religion that establishes the worship of the cow cannot possibly countenance or warrant a cruel and inhuman boycott of human beings. And I should be content to be torn to pieces rather than disown the suppressed classes. Hindus will certainly never deserve freedom, nor get it if they allow their noble religion to be disgraced by the retention of the taint of untouchability. And as I love Hinduism dearer than life itself, the taint has become for me an intolerable burden. Let us not deny God by denying to a fifth of our race the right of association on an equal footing. 23 

I am quite conscious of the fact that blind surrender to love is often more mischievous than a forced surrender to the lash of the tyrant. There is hope for the slave of the brute, none for that of love. Love is needed to strengthen the weak; love becomes tyrannical when it exacts obedience from an unbeliever. To mutter a mantra without knowing its value is unmanly. It is good, therefore, that the Poet has invited all who are slavishly mimicking the call of the charkha boldly to declare their revolt. His essay serves as a warning to us all who in our impatience are betrayed into intolerance or even violence those who differ from us. I regard the Poet as a sentinel warning us against the approach of enemies called bigotry, lethargy, intolerance, ignorance, inertia and other members of that brood. 24 Love is the basis of our friendship as it is of religion. I seek to gain Mussulman friendship by right of love. And if love persists even on the part of one community, unity will become a settled fact in our national life. It is unjust to suggest of Maulana Mahomed Ali that he speaks in elegant Urdu ununderstandable of the majority of Bengali Mussulmans. I know that he has been trying his best to introduce into his Urdu speech as much simplicity as possible. 25

 

 

References:

 

  1. Letter to Saraladevi Chowdharani, December 14, 1920
  2. Speech at Dacca, December 15, 1920
  3. Letter to Saraladevi Chowdharani, December 17, 1920
  4. Navajivan, 29-12-1920
  5. Amrita Bazar Patrika, 30-1-1921
  6. Navajivan, 30-1-1921
  7. Letter to C. F. Andrews, March 2, 1921
  8. Navajivan, 3-4-1921  
  9. Navajivan, 5-4-1921
  10. Navajivan, 5-5-1921
  11. Navajivan, 15-5-1921
  12. Navajivan, 10-7-1921
  13. Open Letter to Kathiawar Princes, August 8, 1921
  14. Young India, 18-8-1921
  15. To The People of Bihar, August 22, 1921
  16. Young India, 25-8-1921
  17. Young India, l-9-1921
  18. Young India, l-9-1921
  19. Navajivan, 15-9-1921
  20. The Hindu, 19-9-1921
  21. Young India, 22-9-1921
  22. Young India, 6-10-1921
  23. Young India, 6-10-1921  
  24. Young India, 13-10-1921
  25. Young India, 20-10-1921

 

 

 

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