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- VI 

 

 

It is not without hesitation that I share this letter with the reader. Although written impersonally, it is so personal. But I hope there is no pride in me. I feel I recognize fully my weakness. But my faith in God and His strength and love is unshakable. I am like clay in the Potter’s hands. And so in the language of the Gita, the compliments are laid at His feet. The blessings such as these, I confess, are strength-giving. But my reason for publishing this letter is to encourage every true non-co-operator in the non-violent path he is pursuing, and to wean the false ones from their error. This is a terribly true struggle. It is not based on hate though men of hate are in it. It is a struggle which is based on love, pure and undefiled.  

Maulana Hasrat Mohani is one of our most courageous men. He is strong and unbending. He is frank to a fault. In his insensate hatred of the English Government and possibly even of Englishmen in general, he has seen nothing wrong in anything that the Moplahs have done. Everything is fair in love and war with the Maulana. He has made up his mind that the Moplahs have fought for their religion. And that fact (in his estimation) practically absolves the Moplahs from all blame. That is no doubt a travesty of religion and morality. But to do irreligion for the sake of religion is the religious creed of Maulana Hasrat Mohani. I know it has no warrant in Islam. I have talked to several learned Mussulmans. They do not defend Hasrat Mohani’s attitude.  It is more necessary for a husband to draw closer to his wife when she is about to fall. Then is the time for a double outpouring of love. Even so is it more necessary for a Hindu to love the Moplahs and the Mussulman more, when the latter is likely to injure him or has already injured him. Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking. It must be an indissoluble tie. And I hold that what I have put before the country in the foregoing lines is Simple selfish idea. Does a Hindu love his religion and country more than himself? If he does, it follows that he must not quarrel with an ignorant Mussulman who neither knows country nor religion. The process is like that of the world-famed woman who professed to give up her child to her rival instead of dividing it with the latter a performance that would have suited the latter admirably.  Even so is it more necessary for a Hindu to love the Moplahs and the Mussulman more, when the latter is likely to injure him or has already injured him. Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking. It must be an indissoluble tie. And I hold that what I have put before the country in the foregoing lines is simple selfish idea. Does a Hindu love his religion and country more than himself? If he does, it follows that he must not quarrel with an ignorant Mussulman who neither knows country nor religion. The process is like that of the world-famed woman who professed to give up her child to her rival instead of dividing it with the latter a performance that would have suited the latter admirably. 1

But, then, hatred must be eliminated from our struggle. This has its source in love, not hatred or anger. We wish to turn even enemies into friends. I am sure that if we work without hatred, even stony hearts will be melted by our capacity to suffer. The cause of the delay lies in our own deficiencies. If we continue to suffer with a calm mind, we shall gain complete victory in a very short time.  Thus, from whatever point of view we consider our position, we shall see that we have to work in a spirit of non-violence and love. As things are, however, on the one hand we wish to go to jail and, on the other, seek to intimidate courts by our shouting. I still receive complaints that at some places, when a non-co-operator’s case is being heard, people fill the court-room to capacity. No wonder, then, if courts change their venue and sit in jail. 2 

It is for the first time they are handling their cultured countrymen with a high purpose. We must not expect a sudden change in the police. Patience and gentleness will convert them into decent men with fellow-feeling. For me swaraj commenced when the best of us found themselves inside prison walls Ever since it has been a steady accession of strength and a steady reformation. The latter is not to begin after a settlement but it will be the result of real and ever growing reformation. Shall we not blame ourselves, too, for the police brutality? Have we not too long neglected them, too long feared them, thought ill of them and considered them to be past redemption? If we were to retain the same attitude of mind, we shall find so many groups to be beyond hope, that we shall have only ourselves left as paragons of perfection and patterns of virtue. In other words, there would be no swaraj at the end of such exclusive assumption of virtue. Let us, therefore, take a portion of the blame ourselves for the vices of the police and the weakness of our general surroundings. But our patience will be justified only if we exchange for love of ease and comfort, love of pain and suffering. In spite of the gruesome news served out to us from day to day, we can afford to be happy if we have done our little best in the cause. We must after all leave the result in the hands of God. 3

I should love to see such an alliance but that will come in its own time. It is my humble opinion that we are not getting sufficiently advanced in the direction to form a useful alliance. I do not believe in paper alliances. They will come naturally when we are ready. 4 But we have only a handful of persons who are wholly devoted to swadeshi, who love spinning and are proficient in it. According to me, therefore, the first duty of the “Active” volunteer is to acquire complete proficiency in spinning and, after doing so, devote all his spare time to this work. 5

All fasting and all penance must as far as possible be secret. But my fasting is both a penance and a punishment, and a punishment has to be public. It is penance for me and punishment for those whom I try to serve, for whom I love to live and would equally love to die. They have unintentionally sinned against the laws of the Congress though they were sympathizers if not actually connected with it. Probably they hacked the constables their countrymen and fellow beings with my name on their lips. The only way love punishes is by suffering. I cannot even wish them to be arrested. But I would let them know that I would suffer for their breach of the Congress creed. I would advise those who feel guilty and repentant to hand themselves voluntarily to the Government for punishment and make a clean confession. I hope that the workers in the Gorakhpur district will leave no stone unturned to find out the evil-doers and urge them to deliver themselves into custody. But whether the murderers accept my advice or not, I would like them to know that they have seriously interfered with swaraj operations, that in being the cause of the postponement of the movement in Bardoli, they have injured the very cause they probably intended to serve. 6

The modern motto is hideous exclusiveness based upon violence. Equality and Fraternity are mere lip-phrases and mutual intercourse is not based on mutual love but is on mutual repulsion and consequent preparedness to do violence. It is, however, too early yet to talk of “Gandhi-ism”. India has to stand the test and vindicate the supremacy of non-violence over violence before the ideal can be approximated. 7 I consider the sacrifice of foreign cloth trade slight for the simple reason that the merchants can find a respectable living if they turn their attention to organizing the khaddar manufacture and the khaddar trade and thus render even peaceful picketing wholly unnecessary. If they would only co-operate I would love to divert the energy of the best men and women in the country from picketing foreign cloth shops to becoming expert spinners, weavers, and carders and manufacturers of khaddar as fast as they can. 8 

I am positive that neither in the Koran nor in the Mahabharata there is any sanction for and approval of the triumph of violence. Though there is repulsion enough in Nature, she lives by attraction. Mutual love enables Nature to persist. Man does not live by destruction. Self-love compels regard for others. Nations cohere because there is mutual regard among the individuals composing them. Some day we must extend the national law to the universe, even as we have extended the family law to form nations a larger family. God has ordained that India should be such a nation. For so far as reason can perceive, India cannot become free by armed rebellion for generations. India can become free by refraining from national violence. India has now become tired of rule based upon violence. That to me is the message of the plains. The people of the plains do not know what it is to put up an organized armed fight. And they must become free, for they want freedom. They have realized that power seized by violence will only result in their greater grinding. 9

I would love to contemplate the dreamland of non-violence in preference to the practicable reality of violence. I have burnt my boats, but that has nothing to do with any of my co-workers. The majority of them have come into the movement as a purely political movement. They do not share my religious beliefs, and I do not seek to thrust them upon them.  10 Even a policy adopted for practical reasons should be faithfully adhered to as long at least as the need for it remains. A policy adopted out of expediency, while it is being followed, should be followed whole-heartedly. Any person who promises to devote himself to work for five days should do so completely on those five days. He may love idleness, but he cannot say, after promising to work, that he has no faith in work and, therefore, will not work even on those five days. We would all say that, if he does not believe in working even for five days%2

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