the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Mahatma Gandhi and his associate Agatha Harrison

Agatha Harrison was a Quaker and close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi discussed with him on current issues. He played a significant role during independent of India.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 8 March 1932 that you are quite correct in not giving me details of the activities of friends, nor am I eager to know them. I am quite sure that all of you over there are doing your best and what is proper. Do you hear from or see Maud? Please tell her to write to me and tell me all about her health and her progress otherwise.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 3 May 1932 that you have in English the saving that two is company, three is none. Somehow or other we three are belying that saying and are getting on quite well. You must be feeling considerably relived now that you have Deenabandhu with you. Whether you call Mahadev’s little hope or shall we say big hope.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 15 June 1932 that you are quite right in scrupulously honouring the restrictions. Indeed by a long course of habit I have lost all curiosity. For a prisoner’s curiosity can only be idle, as he can do nothing even if he came to know certain things through indirect of illegitimate means.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 5 October 1932 that I know I gave you all a most anxious time. It was inevitable. It was all God’s doing. I could trace His hand in everything that happened during those days.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 5 November 1932 that you are regular against my irregularity. But you have need to be regular, I have no cause for regular writing, unless I was to describe to you the events concerning the family consisting of cats and trees and why not pots and pans and stove? Even they are not quite so lifeless as we imagine them to be, and we feel the loss of them in the same way that we feel the loss of dear ones. The question is only that of degree. But if I were to begin to describe all these members of the family, my letter could be dry as dust after one or two trials.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 17 February 1933 that I know that you are working full speed and that is all we can do. The results are controlled by the Infinite Power, and hence we may not worry.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 2 March 1933 that Please forgive me. I see that it required a prompt reply. I hope, however, that this will be in time for you in helping you to come to a decision if you had not arrived at it when this reaches you. I have no hesitation in saying that you should accept the invitation of the Y. W. C. A. if they will bear the expense of the journey. Poor workers must not be expected to find the expenses themselves.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 1 September 1933 that this is just to press upon you the necessity of taking fair rest for the sake of putting in more work. ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ has much truth in it. I need say nothing about my body or the situation created by my unexpected discharge.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 29 September 1933 that I know I have not been fair to you. You have been pouring letters on me, and I have been satisfied with merely sending you a line. The fact is that I have not yet regained all the lost energy, and what there is of it has to be devoted to the immediate work at hand. Hence, I have to neglect many things that I would otherwise have done. Your letters have come under the category of neglected ones. I have relied upon Andrews and Mira for writing to you. But your two letters, those of 9th and 16th inst., demand a fairly full answer from me.

I understand all that you say and that you have omitted to say about the Midnapore incident. I hope that you got copies of all the statements made by me. I offer no apology for what I have said about Midnapore.1 I could say nothing less and nothing more; for that statement contained cent per cent truth. But how is one to overtake the deliberate campaign of misrepresentation? Every word that I say is distorted. Where distortion is not possible they do not hesitate to cut out sentences from my statements, which would make them read differently from what they would if they were read in conjunction with the sentences cut out. But I remain unmoved by these tactics.

They are not new to me. I have boundless faith in my mission and in my own truth. The only thing, therefore, to do is not to enter into an elaborate explanation, for it means nothing, but on due occasion to repeat the same truth with added emphasis. The position of friends in England is somewhat different. They are naturally anxious to show some result. I would, however, ask friends on such occasions to remain unperturbed, because at the present moment yours will be a voice in the wilderness, and if you attempted to be apologetic about what I might have said, you would be doing an injury to the cause. I am trying a tremendous experiment.

Non-violence regulates every breath of my life. I do not embellish what I write. I conceal nothing. Therefore, I would not like friends excusing any action or word of mine. When they do not understand it they may remain silent. When they disagree, after having all the facts and after having weighed them, I would not mind their open disapproval. It would really serve the cause. Take this Midnapore statement. I know that terrorism is taking a deeper root owing to the counter-terrorism of the Government. The counter-terrorism is much more mischievous in its effect, because it is organized and corrupts a whole people. Instead of rooting out terrorism it creates an atmosphere for the approval of terrorist methods and thus gives them an artificial stimulus. It may not show immediate results, but it certainly prepares the future for wider activities along those lines.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 15 October 1933 that it was stupid of me not to acknowledge your letter about Vithalbhai Patel by the ocean mail.1 I am therefore punishing myself by sending this by air mail. I must say I have not taken kindly to it as yet. It is the luxury of the rich and the necessity created by those who would rule the earth, water and air and their inhabitants. You can’t understand how deeply I appreciate letters such as you wrote about. J. Patel. I had cabled to Bose as soon as I got your timely cable and Bose promptly replied.

I am glad you were in Geneva for that meeting. You will not hesitate to ask for any information of explanation you may need. We here may not always anticipate your requirements.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 20 October 1933 that I had your long letter. I do not know whether you had sent copies to my two partners. Anyway I have posted it on to Andrews. You thought that we were all at the same place. But just at present we are not.

Your work in Geneva was great. And I know wherever you are you can give a good account of yourself. But I retain the same opinion that I have you some time ago that if you came as a delegate your expenses should be found by your constituency. But if you come for the purpose of seeing things first hand, your expenses can be found from here. Whether it is worthwhile your coming for that special purpose is solely for you to decide. If you feel the need you should come. If you are a good sailor you can certainly come in the 3rd class without the slightest difficulty and see more of life, because you see more of common humanity as a 3rd class passenger than as a saloon passenger. That is my own experience and that of others who have travelled in all classes.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 3 November 1933 that I enclose herewith a copy of my letter1 to the Governor of Bengal. Sjt. Satis Chandra Das Gupta, the author of the enclosures to the Governor’s letter, is a valued and well-known co-worker. His nonviolence is deep-rooted, not at all superficial, and one of the truest of men it has been my good fortune to meet. He first came to know of the Hijli Jail practice when he understood that his brother who is a civil resister was given standing hand-cuffs. Bar fetters are different from hand-cuffs. Bar fetters are meant for the legs.

At the present moment I am not resorting to any public agitation in connection with the things that come under my observation. I pass them on to the authorities. Therefore, unless I tell you to the contrary, all such correspondence should not be published at your end either. Apart from this, there is no restriction upon the use to be made by you of such information.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 16 November 1933 that I see that you are ever thinking of Andrews as a good mother would think of her son, looking after him and anticipating his wants and protecting him from all harm. You are quite right in saying that without some such care his anxiety complex overtakes him and he then suffers, and his work with him. Nevertheless, if you feel that for more efficient work you should come to India for a month or two, you should not hesitate. In this, both he and I agreed, but he is there on the spot and you will do what you think proper after consultation with him and other friends. Not that at the present moment any substantial work can be done. Sir Samuel Hoare has made up his mind about everything. He believes in his ‘mission’. He almost thinks that we are incapable of looking after our own affairs or even knowing what is good for us. He will not let us make mistakes. The immediate needs of the Britishers blind him to the realities. I feel that, in these circumstances, friends over there can do very little beyond watching, waiting and praying. We must look after ourselves, and if we succeed in demonstrably helping ourselves, you over there will be able to do substantial work.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 24 November 1933 that I do not think of the political atmosphere. It is as bad as ever. It does not worry me much and it will not worry me at all if there was chivalry and gentlemanliness on the part of the officials. The insatiable desire for humiliating everybody and every organization is terrible. But enough of this grumbling.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 1 February 1934 that Andrews tells me you too have not been over well. Evidently you in England need more change and rest than we here seem to need. And you must take it if you will get the maximum work from the body. I hope that this letter will find you fully restored. I do not even look at the letters Chandra Shankar has been writing to you. I hope that he has been keeping you fully posted with news from here.

Of the desolation of Bihar you know as much as I do. Rajendra Prasad is making a Herculean effort to relieve suffering. He has rendered full co-operation to the Government. At this instance I have made an appeal to the non-Indian friends all over the world. You must have seen Reuter’s cable. Chandra Shankar will be sending you a copy. The male members of the Ashram who have just come out of prison have suspended their civil resistance and gone to Bihar. The calamity is of such magnitude that all the help that the whole world may give will be a drop in the ocean. But I suppose there is a spiritual result seen and unseen of such material help. The stricken people will derive comfort from the thought that the whole world is thinking of them and coming to their assistance. I am presently writing to Andrews and Holmes and Rolland.


Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 22 August 1934 that This is merely to tell you that I am slowly rebuilding the body. The seven days’ rest was good at the price of seven or eight pounds of flesh. I knew your anxiety which you showed in your letter and cable. I could not avoid the fast. Friends have to put up with that part of me. For this last may not be the last of my fasts. I can survive discredit by the world and not by myself. Of the current events you will know from Mahadev and Pyarelal and the cuttings that Chandra Shankar may be sending you. These letters are not, I think, duplicated to Mira. Whatever you may consider necessary, you will pass on to Mira. She seems to be going about in a business-like manner. Anyway you must give your own


Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 2 November 1934 that I have wanted to write to you every week; but it was impossible. You know the situation now. I am free and it is all to the good. Here is a copy of my statement to the Press made immediately after the breaking of silence that is, made on the 30th. I want to devote next month at least to Harijan work and to launching out the contemplated Village Industries Association. But I want to pave the way for the Frontier even from now. I hope to be able to send my letter to the Government in a day or two. If I do, you will have a copy of it herewith.

My desire throughout is so to act as to disarm all suspicion about the character of civil disobedience. At the present moment there is no question of others participating in it? So far as I can see the future, there is no likelihood of my initiating or precipitating mass civil disobedience for some years to come. I want to test the genuineness of public feeling by keeping myself aloof from the Congress and watching from a distance how Congressmen in general take to the constructive programme. Civil resistance can properly culminate in civil disobedience only when people learn the art of civil resistance which is nothing less and nothing more than refraining from doing anything that would keep up a system which you seek to destroy.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 22 November 1934 that It was quite like you to have put your whole soul into sending little Mehrtaj to Brindisi. It was a fine contribution to Indo-British understanding. The Khan Brothers are a rare type of humanity. The more I see them, the more I love them. And inasmuch you have done this little and yet great thing for them, you have done it for all India. That simple bit of service is its own reward. Thanks or any outward expression is a poor substitute. Mira is working well and so is her ward.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 20 December 1934 that the situation does not disturb us here as much as it disturbs you. The thing is you do not know Sir Samuel Hoare. The Indian Government has always been a one-man rule. Sir Samuel Hoare’s philosophy demands that Indian wishes should not be consulted, much less respected, except when they reflect those of his advisers. The latter have made up their minds that the White Paper, now the J. P. C.  Report, is the last word. The Congress has decided that nothing is acceptable unless its wishes are taken into account. The Congress also recognizes that Sir Samuel holds the power and that the Congress must not use the little power that it has got. Therefore you friends on your side should, if you can, resolutely say that the existing state should remain till time has arrived for a change by consent of the ‘governed’. Not that even your effort will succeed. But you will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you had done the right thing. If, on the other hand, the friends over there think that they cannot conscientiously take up that attitude and that they must accept the Report if it cannot be changed, you must prosecute that plan. If I were they, I should sit silent, since I could not represent the Indian view. The friends at least may be no party directly or indirectly to ‘imposing’ by force a constitution on India, which would be the case if the constitution is passed. Read Chintamani’s warning enclosed. Not that it means much. The Home Member was quite clear on the point.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 7 March 1935 that you are quite clear. I have no difficulty in reaching the heart of your letters. I know why you want me not to precipitate matters. Sometimes l may appear to others to do so, but it is contrary to my nature to act hastily; and at the present moment I am doubly circumspect, for the simple reason that my own ahimsa is on trial. It is not enough for me to protest my innocence. If I have it in me, it must be self-luminous even as the sun. I suppose even the blind, though they do not see the sun, feel the dawn when it is coming. The noon-day heat, of course, they cannot help feeling. And when a man is filled with love, it must be like the noon-day sun. I may fail to express such ahimsa during this lifetime. I shall proclaim that failure from the housetops rather than alter by a hair’s breadth the standard I have set before me. Just at the present moment, therefore, I can say that any action hastening Civil Resistance is highly improbable.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 29 March 1935 that As usual, the newspaper report is an unintelligent anticipation of an event that was not to come. Yes, you shall have notice of any contemplated step unless it comes absolutely unperceived by me. I remember Joshua Oldfield well. He was of the greatest help to me when I went to London as a lad. He is a fellow crank. Rajkumari has promised to hunt out Watts’ volumes for me. But Henry must be dispossessed if he has them.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 4 April 1935 that I have your maid. I am supporting your suggestion about sending Rajaji.1 But I must confess to you I have no faith in these deputations. The British policy is fixed and rigid. They want to carry their Bill at any cost. They will placate any opinion but the advanced Indian political opinion. They honestly believe that if they give the Indian politicians an inch, they will want an ell and grumble even when they get their ell. This belief is not only honest, it is well-founded.

The Indian wants his independence as of right. The official says he has no right save that of being governed. The official has the firm opinion that India is incapable of governing herself. Hence whatever he concedes is given grudgingly. Hence no advance will satisfy the Indian advanced politician. He may take it only to agitate for more. The policy has now been definitely adopted of never conceding to the popular demand. They will give only what they honestly think is proper. This does not irritate me. We have to develop internal strength to take what we need.

Now see what is happening here. Read the enclosed latest ordinance a whole population being degraded for the sake of crushing a few “terrorists”. They won’t attempt to know why young men and women are ready to throw away their lives. They are now doing what they have never dared before. They have evolved a new philosophy.

Things will right themselves but not by your importing even our best men. You must plough the lonely furrow for the time being. I do 1 Agatha Harrison, while visiting India earlier, had suggested to Gandhiji

that someone should go to England “to help people understand the situation better”

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 25 April 1935 that Do not expect me to write another autobiography unless you would send me to prison for a fairly long term and procure the necessary permission to write it there. The papers can certainly be collected and printed. Mahadev can do it best. But he is overloaded with work. Nevertheless I shall see what is possible.

I do hope C. F. Andrews was able to go to his sisters. Yes, it is good he proposed to stay there for two weeks. According to his cable, he should have started ere this reaches you. But if he is still there, please tell him he can stay longer if he likes. For the moment I am reconciled to the outdoor life.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 1 May 1935 that If it was possible, for your sake, to send somebody to London I would do so. But I see that it cannot be done at present. Rajaji will not look at the proposal1 nor would anyone else. There never has been within living memory such unbending attitude on the part of the Government one sees now. It is the naked sword that is being dangled before India at the present moment. I regard it as a trial from above. If we have real love, i.e., ahimsa in us, all will be well. If we have not and we have used it merely as a cloak, the naked sword is well deserved. Anyway the mentality being as I have described it, no one of the front rank think of going to England, so long as the policy persists.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 20 September 1935 that your work in connection with Jawaharlal’s release was prompt and glorious. As you very properly say, it was more humanitarian than political. I am glad, too, that the authorities rose to the occasion and lost not a minute in granting adequate relief. At this end, too, our machinery was set in motion. The whole thing ended so well. This release of Jawaharlal stands out prominently as the one bright spot on the black and mournful surface. I know you do not want thanks. You may have them by the train-load if you want them. I know this, that it would have been a severe disappointment to me if you had not acted as you did. You have accustomed me to look for such prompt and decisive action on your part. Do please, however, thank all those who helped you and made your difficult mission so completely successful. You did well in flying to Badenweiler. I am eagerly looking forward to your description of the visit. There can be no doubt that, if we really ever succeed in disturbing God’s plans and if God has any plans, these efforts resulting in Jawaharlal’s reaching there have prolonged Kamala’s life. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that not a blade of grass moves but by His will. Then, too, I can derive ample satisfaction in the knowledge that you and other friends conspired to fulfill God’s purpose and therefore whilst you were doing your duty angels above were saying, ‘well done, well, done’.

Ghanshyamdas had to leave this morning abruptly, for he received a telegram yesterday that his mother was suffering from fever. He would otherwise have stayed here at least four days longer. He was able, however, to give me a fair summary of his doings there. Charlie must have told you all about the situation here. I can add nothing to what he must have said. I hope he benefited by the voyage.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 13 June 1936 that for you both. I did not mean to suggest that we have not to convert Englishmen. What I meant and mean even now is that our contribution must be from this side. We must show that we mean no harm to England. It is not our fitness which is in dispute. Our harmlessness is, and rightly. This cannot be proved by any protestations made by the ablest Indian representative in England. It can only be proved by our uniform conduct here. But our conduct is 1 Horace Alexander

by no means uniform. Not every Indian means well by England. And the best of us do not wish well in the same sense that Englishmen would have us to. Thus it was very difficult for me to convince the Lancashire operatives that I meant and wished well even in the act of preaching the immediate boycott of foreign cloth. Do you see that the non-violent way requires patience and has to be worked after the style peculiar to it?

This is not to say that it is wrong for any Indian ever to go there. No doubt chance visits of women like Mrs. Hamid Ali or men like Bhulabhai must be exploited. I can even conceive occasions when men like Jawaharlal might specially go to remove misunderstandings.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 18 June 1936 that This is from my new abode a proper village which may be defined as a place with no post-office, no store for food-stuffs of quality, no medical, comforts and difficult of access in the rainy season. I could add many more adjectives but these should be enough for the time being. This is not to say that I am suffering any discomfort. I have told you this to let you understand the nature of the task before me.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 5 April 1937 that I write after ages as it were. Even this is being written against time. But I have not starved you for the news you should know. I have

used the cable. Herewith two enclosures. They may be of use. I do not mind the Governors not having done the thing. But it has been done in such a shabby manner! And the toy ministries! What a lie! Almost without exception the Anglo-Indian Press had welcomed the resolution. What has happened now to change their attitude? The dishonesty of their argument is transparent. It has acerbated almost every Indian whose opinion counts. Bhulabhai’s is a lawyer’s opinion. This autonomy is still-born. But the teachers of the world teach us to pray when human effort proves vain. I believe in them and therefore do not lose hope but am praying. Jawaharlal is on a sickbed.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 9 September 1937 that Of course you should be absolutely frank. That is the only way you will serve. Of course you will have the fullest information from here.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 17 May 1935 that And I hasten to answer. Could I be more definite than when I said if Mr. Butler and Lord Zetland meant what the papers made out they did, why not straightway give the assurances in terms of the Congress resolution? I have now gone a step further and said in so many words that when there is an emergency dismiss the Ministers.

Perhaps you do not know the difficulties we have to combat here. It is impossible to have mental reservations when you have millions of mankind to deal with, especially when you are training them not for an armed rebellion but for a peaceful revolution as yet unknown to history. I want you therefore not to be agitated over what the diplomats say there or here. Your and my first and last care is to hold on to the anchor at all costs but say nothing in anger, nothing equivocal, nothing short of the whole truth and then leave the result to the unseen and uncanny Power that over-rules all our pet decisions at Its own sweet will.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 19 July 1938 that Here is a letter received by Dr. Shaukatullah Shah from H.E.’s office about Harold Ansari. Poor Shaukatullah has not yet built up any practice worth the name. He has sent all the money he could scrape together. And now he has nothing. He and Zohra, Dr. Ansari’s daughter, were with me for two days. Shaukatullah had drafted a reply which I advised him not to send. Now I would like you or Polak to find out and tell me what this Education Department is and what is its function. Does it help students in distress? I am anxious to find the money here. But this is a difficult case. In any case Harold’s studies must not suffer. If therefore the Department can make an advance, they should do so in the hope of recovering it from the heirs or Harold himself when he begins to earn. If you know Harold and his mother, do please get in touch with them and guide me. I am writing to Harold too. I have never met the boy. Of course I knew nothing of Dr. Ansari’s domestic affairs.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 8 September 1938 that My capacity for work is very limited and work is daily mounting. Hence the delay in writing to you. But there has been not a moment’s delay in action on this side. The whole sum is guaranteed. I gave Shuaib your address and he definitely promised to give the whole thing proper form and write to you.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 4 May 1939 that this is just to tell you I have been thinking of you. On the Federation1, so far as I can see, it has receded into the background. If it comes, it will be an imposition. If the governing

world in England really wants to part with power, much can be done. I

hope to send to A. Moore a longish letter in answer to his questions. I

shall send you a copy.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 20 May 1939 that doesn’t say I have neglected you. I was in travail and could not write letters, etc. Now that the burden is off my mind I can think of writing to you and other co-workers. About Federation don’t expect much from me.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 23 July 1939 that further contacts with Lord Linlithgow will come in their own time. I must hold myself in readiness but must not force the pace. There is nothing wrong with or in his letter. Only he thinks, he has gone as far as he could in the matters in which I am interested. I must not therefore tax him any longer on those matters. I am now trying to educate public opinion and showing all the parties how the new technique can work.

About Federation the position is absolutely clear so far as I am concerned. It is perfectly true that if my conditions were fulfilled, I would accept Federation and so would the Congress, I feel sure. But there is no atmosphere for the fulfillment of those conditions. There is no strength behind my ‘demands’. And the British Government cannot give what cannot be taken and held by the grantee. I want you to believe that everything will come right in its own time. Herewith copy of my letter to Hitler just going.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 13 March 1940 that a cable is going to friend Carl Heath in answer to his letter. I enclose copy of my letter1 and cable. Things are sliding. I am trying hard but perhaps the slide is not preventable. They are afraid to part with power. I would however ask you not to worry. I am not. If we act rightly, we need not be anxious about results. After all we don’t control them. So long as the Princes and the Muslim League are put forth as obstacles, there can be no meeting-ground. The Princes are a new creation. They were never before brought into the picture. The Muslim League with its impossible demands cannot be allowed to interfere with the progress of the country. There are many private organizations. But they do not count, for them, more or less, support the Congress. What more can be said or done to placate them than that their duly elected representatives should determine their safeguards? The war preoccupation is there. But the Indian claim is part of the war cares.

You accuse the Congress of ungratefulness because it raises a legitimate issue; well, what can I say? Am I to repent of my having taken up a high stand? Can the Congress pretend to have the nonviolence it has not? But I must not bother you with the troubles here.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 30 June 1941 that I have your letter introducing Mr. M. Lancaster. I have already

given him an appointment. I do not know that I shall be of any help to him. Yes, I did receive your letter about Andrews’ sisters. Amrit it was who sent an acknowledgement. But who knows what letters reach addressees. The wonder is that in the midst of the terrible slaughter there is still so much order.

The riots, floods and the struggle have upset all my plans. The riots this time have no resemblance to the former ones. This time it is a rehearsal for a civil war. My faith in the authorities is daily receiving rude shocks. It seems they will never learn, never forget. The Secretary of State never speaks but to irritate almost everybody. The breach is widening. There is much make-believe. In spite of all this, I do not despair of my ahimsa working. Its effect is silent, torturingly slow, but sure. You may therefore be sure that no stone will be left unturned on this side to promote understanding and friendliness.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 22 October 1941 that I have kept by me your letter of 15th July. I did not know what

to say nor do I know now. I understand your earnestness and grief. But I do not know how to console you. However detached you may try to be, you cannot but be influenced by your surroundings. It is equally true of me, not to talk of others. Add to this the difficulty of answering in the middle of October a letter written in the middle of July. And this when every day means new history. I have therefore the greatest reluctance even to write to you in spite of the pleasure it gives me to write to you. But I must try.

Distrust of the Rulers is growing and spreading. The distance is increasing. We here perceive no difference between Hitlerism and British Imperialism. Hitlerism is a superfine copy of Imperialism and Imperialism is trying to overtake Hitlerism as fast as it can. Democracy is nowhere. In this unholy duel, so far as I can see, non-violence is working its way in a silent but sure manner. My faith in it is daily growing stronger. Whether as Polak says, and as you almost hint, I think, in your most gentle manner, it can stand the strain if bombs were dropping near my feet and I was witnessing dear ones being crushed to death, I cannot say. I rehearse such situations; I pray that the faith might not break under such strain. I flatter myself with the belief that I can feel these things from afar. I did shed a silent tear when I read about the damage done to the Houses of Parliament, the Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s. Nevertheless this is all speculation.

Of communal unity there is no immediate hope, though I believe that it will come sooner than we expect. But that will bring no settlement with the British Government. In their declarations there are many impossible conditions. One is that we must get the Princes also to agree. Now the Princes mean the British Government, for the former are the latter’s creation and they cannot even talk openly with  The addressee explains: “I did not ‘hint’ that his non-violence could not stand the strain of bombing, but asked him if sometimes ‘compromise of method not of aim’ could be considered.”

My own and hence the Congress method is incredibly simple. Its token Civil Disobedience must continue. It will blaze forth when the question of embarrassment disappears. The Congress is ready for any honourable compromise with any party including the Rulers, consistently with its fundamentals. Nothing short of Complete Independence can be acceptable to the Congress. The Congress cannot be party to the war efforts and therefore cannot take office. But Civil Disobedience can be stopped if free speech consistently with non-violence is recognized and all political prisoners are unconditionally discharged. This excludes those who have been tried and found guilty of actual violence unless they repent. It includes all untried men. So far as I can see, the Congress will not change its policy so long as I am alive and well enough to think clearly and advise. There is no one who has any sympathy with Nazism or Fascism but there is no one who has any sympathy for Imperialism [either], not even the recruits who hire themselves out for the sake of bread. Some join because they want military training at any cost.

Now you have a picture as true as I can draw of India to date. My advice is doing worry, don’t fret. You need not write, need not speak, unless you feel an irresistible impulse. Let prayer of the heart be our sole and sure refuge. It is enough to realize that not a blade moves but by His will. He allows this slaughter. We do not know why. But if we keep our hands, head and heart stainless let us believe that in His own good time, He will use us to stop this apparently senseless mutual slaughter.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 29 December 1939 that It was a perfect pleasure to receive your unexpected

letter yesterday afternoon. Dr. Gilder and Mira and Pyarelal and Sushila have shared it with me. I gave Ba its gist. She is oscillating between life and death. The complications are many and great. She is receiving all the attention possible in a detention camp. As for the subject matter of your letter, I am the same man you have known me. The spirit of Andrews is ever with me. But suspicion about my motives and utter distrust of my word in high places has hitherto rendered every move made by me nugatory. However, I am watching, waiting and praying. Truth and non-violence remain my sheet-anchor as never before. They sustain me. I do not give up the hope that light will shine through the surrounding darkness.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 2 September 1945 that Yes, times are such as to require breadth of vision and statesmanship of the truest type, if the victory so called is not to lead to a third war worse than the last. I expect to see you in India soon.


Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 5 December 1946 that Here I am in an inaccessible part of Bengal and dealing with the most difficult part of my mission in life. I have never been in such darkness as I am in today. And the darkness does not come from outside. It is due to my limitations. My faith in ahimsa has never burned brighter and yet I feel that there is something wanting in my technique of it that I feel as though I were on an unbeaten track.

As you must have known, my fast has blown over just now. Bihar is quiet and I am therefore trying to take the usual diet though I have still to be cautious. I hope soon to get over the physical weakness which was inevitable with no-protein and no-starch and no fat diet. The most satisfactory thing about this reduced diet was that I was able to do full amount of mental work and a fair amount even of physical work.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Agatha Harrison on dated 15 August 1947 that this letter I am dictating whilst I am spinning. You know, my way of celebrating great events, such as today’s, is to thank God for it and, therefore, to pray. This prayer must be accompanied by a fast, if was not at the prayer meeting, some of the young men went shouting for his blood towards the house and stone-throwing began again Prayer over, Gandhiji is taking of fruit juices may be so described. And then as a mark of identification with the poor and dedication there must be spinning. Hence I must not be satisfied with the spinning I do every day, but I must do as much as is possible in consistence with my other


I got through Amrit your first letter at 4 o’clock in the morning. I have through her your second letter. This has been brought by Rajaji, the Governor of West Bengal. Rajaji could not afford to come himself. The Government House is surrounded by a huge admiring crowd. He is, therefore, a prisoner in his own house. He sent his secretary with Rajkumari’s packet.

You refer me to Winterton’s speech, which you will be surprised to learn, I have not read.1 The speeches during the debate on the Independence Bill, I was not able to read. I rarely get a moment to read newspapers. Some portions are either read to me or I glance during odd moments. What does it matter, who talks in my favour or against me, if I myself am sound at bottom? After all you and I have to do our duty in the best manner we know and keep on smiling. Rest from the papers. I am about to finish my spinning. Therefore I must think of other things.

My love to all our friends. I was glad to find that Carl Heath was well enough to preside at the gathering described by you.

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Ahimsa. 5 Replies

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