the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229


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



Question Box and Mahatma Gandhi-XVII



Q. You say an active satyagrahi should devote the whole of his spare time to constructive work. What is you conception of spare time?

A. Every minute that is not required for my necessary private work would be spare time. A merchant whose whole time is occupied in making money nothing inherently wrong in it, if it is honestly made and equally honestly spent naturally has no spare time. He cannot become an active satyagrahi. An active satyagrahi will give the least time to his private work. The balance is his spare time. For an active satyagrahi time is more than money. He should therefore be able to give a good account of every minute. In these matters the ultimate judge is oneself.

Q. What can students do during vacation? They do not want to study and would get tired of constant spinning.

A. If they get tired of spinning, It shows that they have not understood its life-giving property and its intrinsic fascination. What is the difficulty in understanding that every yard spun adds to the national wealth? A yard of yarn is not much, but as it is the easiest form of labour it can be easily multiplied. Thus the potential value of spinning is very great. Students are expected to understand the mechanism of the charkha and keep it in good order. Those who do so will find a peculiar fascination in spinning. I refuse, therefore, to suggest any other occupation. But of course spinning may give place to more pressing work - I mean more pressing in point of time. Their help may be required in putting the neighbouring villages in a good sanitary condition and in attending to the sick or in educating Harijan children, etc.

Q. Some of us belong to that section of Congress workers who are not firmly of the opinion that the charkha is no good and has to be discarded along with your leadership at the earliest possible date. Nor do we belong to that happy band of your followers who have an unshakable faith in the political, economical and spiritual mission of the charkha. We believe in khadi at any rate in the present circumstances of our country. But we cannot truthfully say that we understand the necessity of ourselves spinning. We are city people, and there is very little scope for the charkha here as a bread-giver. However, we are anxious to be enrolled as satyagrahis. We can promise that we shall conscientiously spin as required by you, but we are not in a position to promise that faith in it which you desire. It is possible that as we ply the charkha the faith may come. But, for the present, it is as we have stated. Can we honestly sign the Satyagraha pledge?

A. Of course you can be enrolled. All those who spin do not do so because of the bread-giving property of the wheel. Many spin for sacrifice, to set a good example, and to create the spinning atmosphere.

Q. I am one of the secretaries of a Congress committee. I have a feeling that some of those who have signed the pledge are not carrying it out particularly the clause about spinning. Can we put to them the question whether they spin or not? And, if we feel that their answers are evasive or untrue, is it part of our duty to hold an enquiry into the matter? Some of us feel that we must accept their word, and not be too searching.

A. As secretaries it is your duty to devise rules so that there would be an automatic test for all members, not merely for doubtful ones, spinning or not spinning. One test will be that the members deliver to a depot the yarn they spin. Every member is expected to keep a daily record of his output. But a nagging inquiry should undoubtedly be avoided.

Q. Which would you preferwhether we should devote all our time to recruiting satyagrahis or set about organizing constructive work with the satyagrahis that we already have on hand?

 A. Of course you will organize constructive work with those you have. This will by itself attract recruits.

Q. I should like to know whether you would approve of men and women satyagrahis mixing promiscuously and working together, or whether they should be organized into separate units with a clear delimitation of the field of each. My experience is that the former must lead, as it has led, to a lot indiscipline and corruption. If you agree with me, what rules would you suggest to combat the potential evil?

A. I should like to have separate units. Women have more than enough work amongst women. Our womenfolk are terribly neglected, and hundreds of intelligent women workers of sterling honesty are required to work among them. On principle too I believe I the two sexes functioning separately. But I would lay down no hard and fast rules. Good sense must govern the relations between the two. There should be no barrier erected between the two. Their mutual behaviour should be natural and spontaneous.

Q. Do you approve of the policy that is being following by the Charkha Sangh in some places, of pushing the sale of khadi by the use, for instance, of loudspeakers, popular gramophone records and the like? Don’t you think that advertising apart from supplying the necessary information about the marketing of khadi is undignified and incompatible with the khadi spirit?

A. I see nothing wrong or undignified in making use of loudspeakers, etc., to popularize khadi. Through these means too one does no more than give the prices and other information about khadi. It will be certainly undignified and worse if false information is given whether with or without the use of loud- speakers and the like.

Q. It has been said that the “will to live” is irrational, being born of a deluded attachment to life. Why is then suicide a sin?

A. The will to live is not irrational. It is also natural. Attachment to life is not a delusion, it is very real. Above all, life has a purpose. To seek to defeat that purpose is a sin. Therefore suicide is very rightly held to be a sin.




Harijan, 1-6-1940

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