GANDHI IN ACTION network

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. – 09415777229, 094055338

E-mail- dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com;dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net

Mail Address-   C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur-208020, U.P.

 

 

The Hindu and Mahatma Gandhi-IV

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at merchants’ meeting, “You all know that I speak seated on a chair and I feel ashamed on that account. I hope that I may not ever sit on a chair, but I am helpless. As I want to win swaraj in nine months so I do not want these. My brothers give me much trouble when I come through streets. I see that they love me much but I want to dissuade them from that if I can. Outside this hall so many have assembled that no business can go on because of that. I lost half an hour. The reason is that the organization has not been a good one. That ought not to be so. When it is known that many men will gather, provision will have to be made for that also. Work must not suffer and passages ought not to be blocked and tram-cars ought not to be stopped. Our people’s time ought not to be wasted. There are a thousand people inside and another thousand outside. Two thousand hours of people’s time have here been wasted. I want that Hindi and Urdu papers should also publish that touching the feet is bad and my request is that people should not do it. I am greatly disturbed with noise. I am far from well and cannot tolerate the sound [of] “Vande Mataram”, “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai” these shouts are of no avail unless they voice forth our true feeling. What I mean to say is that men do not translate into action what they utter. I also have become a Kshatriya giving up my Bania dharma. Had I not been a Kshatriya I would have demonstrated my feeling by weeping. Certainly I am not thirsting after the touching of my feet by you. When I shall want it I will plainly let you know my feelings and that will be when my object will be attained. I consider myself compromised in dignity; otherwise swaraj will be attained in nine months. Let all of you combine and lend a helping hand.

There is no necessity for shouting “Vande Mataram”, “Hindu Mussulman ki jai”, “Alla-ho-Akbar”. What I propose to do I shall accomplish certainly. I must attain swaraj. If thirty crores of people say that they are not with me, yet I shall do my work and win swaraj but I do not like shouting. In the matter of shouts and noise I am like a weak lamb. Also, prostration at the feet is not good. Bow to all with your hands folded. No one is worthy of being touched at the feet, especially in this Kaliyuga. The times are changed. If you wish to accomplish the work of 30 crores of men, then come out with your money. Try to have money and ask me to give an account for the same. Appoint someone treasurer. If you know that you yourselves cannot attain swaraj, and then help me with money. If you do not help with money, swaraj will be difficult but not impossible to attain. If the students of India do not help me, it does not matter. If the pleaders do not help, it does not matter. If moneyed men do not help with money, that also does not matter. The attainment of swaraj depends on the workers and the agriculturists. I belong to the same profession as you by birth and was a merchant myself by profession. I was a lawyer and earned money thereby. I am a student also and I think that I am a good student too. If you have power, if you have strength in you, if you want to govern India, then make sacrifices. Sacrifice yourselves, your children and your parents, everything in your life. Swaraj depends upon the agriculturists. If they do not help, then swaraj cannot be attained. If they co-operate with the Government, then all your virtues will not help in winning swaraj. If 25 crores of people turn out to be undutiful, swaraj cannot be attained. Now as to our Marwari brothers, the President has just said that the rich have not turned up for today’s meeting. This pains me much. But there is reason for it. They have been brought up under this Government and they have made their piles under its protection. They have earned their money with their co-operation. So they are afraid of it. The English people make money through the co-operation of Indians. This truth is not realized by my Marwari brethren. I do not ask you to give up trade, but I ask you to carry on honest business and not indulge in untruth. You may say that if you do not resort to untruth, then you will become fakirs. I think it is better to be fakirs and in that case I do not want any money from you. You should not give up trade of foreign goods and as to your trade of foreign cloths that should certainly be shunned. Those who fear God, they cannot but do the work of God. God has given you riches and these riches help you to decorate your bodies. With these riches you wear mammal pugree. I ask you to be fearless and wear khaddar pugree, and give up all connection with mills even in the matter of agencies. I asked my son to give up this business as it is not swadeshi work and to deal in khaddar.

He answered: “Father, khaddar business does not go on. Much of it is lying in stock.” Khaddar, garha, khadi whatever you call it, such beautiful stuff cannot be found. My brothers and sisters all use it and the labourers who are my brothers prepare it. The exploitations which the mill-owners are making are very unjust. When the price of cotton is Rs. 9, how is it that the price of the yarn is Rs. 34? I know that there is very little profit in khaddar business. The cause of this is the mill-owners who increase the price of the yarn. We have to clothe the shoemakers and the sweepers. If there be any Vaishnava in the meeting, he will say that the remnants of his dish and dirty, worn-out clothes will suffice. But I remember them in the morning and consider being equal to me. If you wear khaddar after leaving mill cloth, then its price will go up. If you go to Janakpuri, Orissa, you will see the condition of the poor very very miserable. Satu may be had for food, but not ghee. When I was travelling third class—as you of course do not then I used to see in dharmashala that one man took out a handful of satu from his baggage, a little of salt and red pepper and with these mixed with water, he had his meal. I have turned a Kshatriya and not a drop of water came to my eyes. In this country of Annapurna, ghee is not available. In Champaran, people are dying of starvation. There is one remedy for all these and that is the charkha. If all women and girls spin yarn, then they will be able to feed themselves as the price of khaddar will look up then. If swaraj is attained then mammal also will be manufactured. I myself am a good workman and I can work it but I say that you have got to make thread from No. 7 to 20 and that will be used in making saris and pathis. No. 80 thread has been used in making your pugree. It is foreign and it is irreligion. The Marwaris have given up their religion. Give up your foreign trade, not all immediately, but of piece-goods only, clear your house of foreign cloths and ask your mothers and wives to throw them out and not to wear them again. This will not cause you any loss. Send all these to South Africa and sell them there. They will be in demand there, as there are no spinning machines there. India rested on the dharma of faithful wives. Mussulman women do much work on charkhas.

If you wish to save cows, then save Khilafat. Millionaires speak of stopping cow-killing but co-operate with the English. Oppressive Englishmen drink the blood of cows. Agency of English goods is irreligious. It is said against the Mussulmans that they kill cows. But I say that what is slaughtered in Bandra in five years cannot be done in 25 years by 7 crores of Mussulmans. I repeat to you some commonplace things. It is about Champaran. I narrated the matter to a Marwari and he burst into tears. I did not shed any tears. I drew his attention to the condition of a bullock drawing a cart. You worship cows, and are you justified in killing bullocks? See the condition of dairy farms. The cows give milk, the buffaloes also give milk. Milk is drawn in such quantities from their udders that blood comes out. And we drink it. If you truly wish to save cows, then go to the help of Khilafat. The Mussulmans are not ungrateful but you should not ask them to save cows first before you can help their Khilafat. Don’t do so—this is no matter for bargain. Die for your brothers, adopt fakiri and claim that you are a Hindu. As a Hindu, you should not turn out to be cowards, but be bold in your conduct. If you have piece-goods laying in stock sell them or burn them and promise that you will never purchase them or wear them. Make the weaver understand that foreign yarns should not be used. Ask them to dispatch the goods which they have in stock and not to use yarn above No. 20 and use cloths made with them. I want three things. The first thing is: save me. Do not worry Gandhi, do not give him trouble and cry “Gandhi ki jai”, and consider it as haram. The second thing is: money is needed. Give as much as you can afford, and do as much as you can. Today the dealers in seeds have given me Rs. 10,000 and promised to give more by raising fresh subscriptions. I want that whatever you give, you should give with humility and generosity. As I pray to God, so I pray to you. Kindle your religious sense and your patriotic feelings. The third thing is this: be pure, be patriotic, and be devoted to the cause of swaraj and Khilafat. Khilafat is the Kamadhenus. Use pure swadeshi things in your household. This alone will do you good. 60 crores of rupees go out of the country. Save them and win swaraj in 9 months. 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.” 1

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The famous jurist, Dr. Rash Behari Ghose Bengal, died last Monday at the age of 76. His learning was unfathomable. His charity was of equal grandeur. His patriotism was not of the ordinary kind. His indefatigable diligence put to shame many a youth. His command of English was highly eulogized. Nevertheless he would be considered a man of bygone age. Dr. Rash Behari Ghose was the most striking example of how the most eminent of India’s men of learning become useless owing to a foreign domination and national education. He passed his youth in cultivating an English style which surpassed European writers, instead and then of devoting all his parts to his mother tongue. He expended his unfathomable erudition in elucidating law points based on Western view-points of life and occidental speculation, and in interpreting the same All that he did after having entered the Congress was to circumscribe the objective of the national assembly. The creed that he formulated at Surat had to be modified this year by the National Congress at Nagpur. He gave a sum of ten lakhs to the Calcutta University although he coupled it with the condition that the professor who was to be maintained on the interest of this foundation must be an Indian. He made large contributions also to the Indian universities. Thus he dedicated his abilities to cultivate a foreign tongue, his intellect to assisting Government law courts, his wealth to aid that system of education of a Government in whose policy he had no confidence, and the weight of his personality in limiting the national ideal. Nevertheless had such a person been born in the epoch of swaraj, his life would have appeared golden and his services perceived by the entire world. By the two resolutions that he got passed in the Legislative Council, he demonstrated that he was perfectly conscious of the inordinate regard and affection which the people of India have for their own country. Had he received a national education, the same sentiment and love would have manifested themselves in him and he would have been in a position to render the loftiest services to the country. The people have not appreciated him to the extent that the Government did, because having received the culture confined to the Western globe, he had become almost a stranger to his people. His indefatigable industry, however, is likely even today to be worthy of anyone’s emulation.” 2

 Gandhiji said that he was unprepared for receiving an address in English which was considered out of place in our national evolution except as a medium for international commerce and diplomatic relations. He commended Surat, Nadiad and Ahmadabad as model municipalities and said that a well-conducted municipality must bear the seeds of swaraj. He said that mere rejection of Government grant or control was not enough and the national form of education was not complete without the spinning-wheel and Hindustani. He said that the noble traditions of Gokhale should be copied and that Gokhale’s supreme work consisted in spiritualizing the politics of the country. He said that we were also now introducing the religious spirit in all our national affairs. He referred to the sweating industry of Gokhale, who, born economist that he was, wanted to economize every moment of the nation. He wished all prosperity to the Berhampore Municipality and hoped it would give all its best towards national uplift.” 3

Gandhiji reiterated his regret that the Madrasis were not able to follow Hindustani, an elementary knowledge of which ought not to be difficult. He saw that Hindustani should permeate the masses from the classes. He referred to the district problem between the Andhras and Oriyas and said that it should be solved in a statesmanlike manner and in the Indian way. He asserted that the masses were untouched by this problem. Though he was for linguistic distribution and provincial development he was determinately opposed to them at the expense of the national advancement. The battle for freedom was the battle for real legal equality with the strongest on earth. He was aware of the difficulties that faced him in obtaining swaraj but considered that in the few months of probation we were now undergoing, we should have thrown away the want of faith in ourselves. He should have the capacity to die for India, not live as witness to her shame. He exhorted that we should in the twinkling of an eye set our houses in order and settle matters like the district excision question, by living for others and not for ourselves. He asserted that we should get swaraj immediately. He referred to the Khilafat peril and reminded that Hinduism had been in peril all these years. He emphasized that the Punjab wrongs should be redressed and that as the national awakening had given a new courage, if there be again martial law, no Indian would crawl. He asserted that non-co-operation was a means of attaining swaraj and that he was indifferent as to how the scheme of swaraj was evolved. His recent trip to Orissa showed him that the masses cared only for their food, that the masses must feel the benefit of swaraj. He said that the masses would not recognize us, if Englishmen allowed them rice free of charge. He enjoined that lawyers should suspend practice till the Government had repented and till swaraj was attained. He held that those events which sent the innocent people of Punjab to the Andamans were not fit for practice [sic]. Swaraj in his view hung on a thread, the spinning ‘thread’. He emphasized that if we could not effectually boycott British goods within a year, the opportunity would pass. He referred to the trap laid by the East India Company. He appealed strongly that we had to purify ourselves and must not be Satanic to get out of an unsympathetic, Satanic Government. He claimed to be a practical idealist. He was pleased that India was carrying on a mighty campaign against the drink evil and had forestalled even the Congress. He considered that, to purify ourselves, we needed no university training. He referred to the accomplished fact of the Hindu-Muslim unity and urged strongly the elevation of the depressed classes. He pleaded that money was necessary to obtain swaraj, that the Tilak Swaraj Fund should be strengthened and that it should flow as it gave life to India. 4

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Vijaynagaram, “He began by saying that the study of English was not absolutely necessary except for the purpose of carrying on our international trade and acquiring knowledge of modern sciences. He emphasized that the study of Hindi was essential inasmuch as it ensured a feeling of national brotherhood in the country. It must be made the lingua franca of India. Continuing, he said that Hindi which is the language of Kashi Vishwanath ought to be the language of the masses. They are longing to be a united and compact nation and they should discard provincial pride. Hindi can be learnt, he said in three months. Referring to the lavish praise bestowed upon him by the people he remarked that he did not like it. He wanted his principles to be carried out in practical life. He believed that the charkha or the spinning-wheel would bring about the salvation of the country. In his opinion the spinning wheel would serve the purpose of machine-guns and dreadnoughts. When the East India Company came into existence, it gave a death-blow to spinning. From that time, he said, the moral and economic degradation of India began. He advised the audience not to take to the flashy and gorgeous robes manufactured in the West but to satisfy themselves with the simplicity of homespun fabrics however coarse they might be, for home-made cloth had a history behind it, would have a soul of its own, and would possess its own aroma. He next spoke of the miserable condition of Orissa. In passing he exhorted the vakils and students to non-co-operate. If, however, they failed to follow his advice, they would be grievously neglecting a duty which they owed not only to themselves but to the country at large. By the way, he deplored the habit of drinking so prevalent in India. In conclusion, he said that the following things would achieve swaraj for them purity of mind and body, Hindu-Muslim unity, and the use of swadeshi goods.” 5  

“Mr. Gandhi in proposing the first resolution for adoption made a lucid and clear statement of the present situation. He pointed out that in respect of those aspects of propaganda upon which they had so far concentrated, namely, giving up of titles, Councils, educational institutions and courts, there was no need for further concentration as the success already achieved therein was in every way satisfactory. Whatever be the number of students who had given up college or of lawyers who had given up practice, the Congress had achieved the real object of propaganda, namely, the demolition of prestige of these institutions of the bureaucratic Government of this country. Most of those who yet continued in schools or in courts were fully convinced of the principle for which the Congress had fought although for a variety of reasons they were not able to give effect to the resolutions immediately. The Congress might therefore well trust to time for the movement to work its way fully. He therefore pointed out that in order to achieve the programme of swaraj within the time mentioned in the Nagpur Congress resolution; they should now concentrate upon those parts of it which would directly lead the masses of this country to its realization. The awakening of the masses was phenomenal and while the masses were fully alive to the urgent need of realization of swaraj the leaders were lagging behind. It was therefore necessary to give form and shape to the aspirations of the masses. Their aspirations for swaraj were based upon the very definite perception that without swaraj their condition could not improve and the direct means of improving their condition was to enable them to clothe and feed themselves. It was for this purpose that he felt the charkha movement was full of the utmost potentialities in the winning of swaraj. If the masses were enabled to perceive that situation and to realize it by receiving their economic independence through the use of the spinning-wheel in their houses so as to obtain the maximum of production and wherewithal to feed and clothe themselves, it would immediately have the effect of making them feel that they were no longer dependent on foreigners for their livelihood and progress. It would also affect a complete economic boycott of the most important of foreign imports of this country. If this was achieved swaraj could be considered to have been realized. That was why he desired that the charkha movement should be encouraged. In order that the propaganda might succeed, workers were needed. Congress organizations should be thoroughly put into operation. If, as the resolution insisted, one crore of rupees were collected before the 30th June, as he was quite hopeful it would be, and one crore of manhood and womanhood of the country were registered as Congressmen, there could be no more patent proof of the fitness of the people for swaraj than of their ability to achieve it through the Congress organization itself.” 6

“Mr. Gandhi pointed out that in deference to the ruling of the chair that civil disobedience as such was not recommended in express terms by the Nagpur Congress and was not within the four corners of the resolution on non-co-operation, he proposed that the A.I.C.C. in this matter should only express its opinion on the matter in the form of advice, in order that the country might have a lead from the Committee. The question of civil disobedience had been raised in several quarters in consequence of the action of the Government against non-co operators. He referred at length to the entirely unjustifiable character of several proceedings taken by the authorities in several provinces and he pointed out how wonderfully the people had conformed to non-violence even under grave provocation. Nevertheless, he felt that the Committee should not recommend civil disobedience suggested in the form which was understood by those who advocated it. Though it was true that nonpayment of tax was one form of civil disobedience contemplated by the Congress resolutions, yet it was not initiated as part of a programme of civil disobedience against the Government in respect of particular laws or orders, lawful or otherwise. The scheme of civil disobedience which he had practiced in South Africa and developed in his own mind was one which could not yet be put into operation. If the country was organized and restrained so thoroughly as he desired it would then be time to put it into operation. As it was he considered that notwithstanding the great progress of non-violence among the people, there was still an element of what he would, for want of a better term, call mob law, not in the wrong sense but in the idea that the people had not yet so thoroughly disciplined themselves to the restraint that was needed when their dearest wishes were violated or when their great leaders were snatched away to prison under most provocative circumstances. Until, therefore, they were able to exercise self-control perfectly; they should not initiate civil disobedience. Of course, he was glad to note that the people were in a fair way to it. If any person took upon himself the responsibility of offering civil disobedience to particular orders or laws, which he conscientiously thought he could not obey, as for example in the case of Mr. Yakub Hassan, he was at liberty to do so. But he might do so only on his own responsibility and not in the name of the Congress.” 7

Mahatma Gandhi gave resolution at A.I.C.C. meeting.

Resolution-I “I In the opinion of the A.I.C.C. all Congress organizations and workers should concentrate their attention chiefly upon: (a) bringing the All-India Tilak Memorial Swaraj Fund to one crore of rupees and before 30th June next each Congress province to collect in the ratio of its population. (b) Putting in Congress registers one crore of members in pursuance of the Constitution and before 30th June next each province to contribute the number of members in the ratio of its population. (c) introducing into villages and houses 20 lakhs of charkhas (spinning-wheels) in good working order before 30th June next, each province to introduce the number of charkhas in the ratio of its population.

RESOLUTION II (a) The All-India Congress Committee is of opinion that the orders of the officials in various provinces against non-co-operators in pursuit of the policy of repression are totally unwarranted by the situation in the country and are in most cases pronounced by the highest legal opinion to be illegal. (b) The Committee believes that the country has responded in a wonderful manner and in the face of grave provocation by Government to the principle of non-violence enjoined by Congress in the country’s pursuit after swaraj and redress of Khilafat and Punjab wrongs. (c) This Committee is of opinion that apart from the fact that civil disobedience is not expressly comprised in the Congress resolution relating to non-co-operation, the country is not yet disciplined, organized and ripe for the immediate taking up of civil disobedience. (d) This Committee by way of preparation, therefore, advises all those upon whom orders may be served to conform to them and trusts that new workers will take the place of those who may be disabled by the Government and that the people at large instead of becoming disheartened or frightened by such orders, will continue their work of quest, organization and construction sketched by the Congress resolution.

 RESOLUTION III The A.I.C.C. congratulates the country on the rapid progress made in the organization of panchayat’s and trusts that people will make still greater efforts to boycott Government law courts.

RESOLUTION IV This Congress Committee congratulates the country in its spontaneous response to the principle of self-purification underlying the movement of non-violent non-co-operation by taking up the campaign against the drink evil and trusts that the habit of taking intoxicating drinks and drugs will totally disappear from the land by the persistent and continued efforts of self-sacrificing workers.” 8

 “Mahatma Gandhi gave a suitable reply in which he emphasized the need of the municipal councils adopting the policy of the Congress for the attainment of swaraj. He showed how valuable the support and work of the municipal councils would be in the programme of work now before the country for the realization of swaraj and referred to the example of Nadiad, Ahmadabad and Surat. He exhorted them to help in the collection of the Tilak Swaraj Fund and the organization of the Congress Committees.” 9

Mahatma Gandhi in urging the proposition observed that though the enforcing of such a resolution might be difficult and unpleasant, it was a duty that had to be faced and overcome by those who had to bring into being the new constitution. It seemed to him that while the mass of the country and Congressmen were overwhelmingly in favour of non-co-operation, it was right that those who were not prepared to give effect to it in their own person and conduct should not be asked to control the working of the Congress organizations having regard to the resolution of the Nagpur Congress.” 10

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Cocanada, “You will please forgive me for not standing up to speak to you for the reasons offered, known to you probably by this time, in common with the rest of India, namely my physical incapacity. You will also forgive me for I have not been able to bring my brother Maulana Shaukat Ali with me. You know that in order to represent to India what the real Hindu-Mussulman unity meant both Maulana Shaukat Ali and I travelled throughout the length and breadth of the land for about one year. It has not been possible recently to travel together. You and I are eager to attain swaraj in this year. You and I are eager to secure redress for the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs during this year. And so, after having travelled for one year, we divided our energies and decided to travel in different parts of the country separately. If one year of object-lesson that we both have presented to India has not been enough to convince you of the absolute necessity of the Hindu-Mussulman unity, and if one year of close insight of [sic] our countrymen contributing to human happiness has not been sufficient to show what that unity meant, I for one spurn the idea of convincing you of the necessity of Hindu-Mussulman unity. Maulana Shaukat Ali is a staunch Mohammedan. I claim to be a staunch sanatani Hindu and each in his own views and conviction; we both have been able to live together as no two blood brothers can live. Bud is aware that by this time India has realized that Hindu-Mussulman unity is as essential for our national life as eating, drinking and sleeping. And I hope you have also by this time realized that, given certain conditions, swaraj is attainable within one year. And, as an aid to the advancement of swaraj, I have much pleasure in accepting this address from this Municipality, because it shows that the municipalities of India are now as ready to receive and welcome a humble servant of theirs as they have been hitherto ready to receive and extend welcomes to governors and viceroys. It is the fear; it is the want of faith in ourselves, which are real obstacles in our progress towards swaraj. I am not likely to lead myself into the belief that this address is a testimonial to anything in my personal self, but I know that it constitutes an endorsement of an idea that I for the time being represent the nation. The municipalities have now commenced to shed their fear which used to possess them and to shed the belief that municipalities were but appendages to the Government. I venture to ask this great Municipality to take a step further and copy the example of Ahmadabad, Nadiad and Surat. I ask this Municipality to nationalize education in this Municipality. If only the municipalities all over India will recognize their power and do their duty, I venture to suggest to you that these municipalities bear with them the promise of swaraj because, after all, swaraj is nothing but an extension of municipal government. And if every village and every town of India is found capable of looking after its own affairs, surely it follows that the villages and towns of the whole of India are necessarily capable of conducting national affairs. The All-India Congress Committee has given us the lead and have put before the whole of India a very simple test. If the Congress is our national assembly, if the Congress is an instrument in our hands for establishing swaraj in India, it is natural that every man and woman, every Hindu and Mussulman, Christian, Parsi and Jew born in India should place themselves on the Congress register. And so the All-India Congress Committee has suggested that by the time the 30th of June arrives at least one crore of men and women should find their names on the Congress register. In a nation which has been showing the wonderful energy and wonderful cohesion that has been shown during the past months at least one-thirtieth of the men and women of India should find themselves on the Congress register before the 30th June, which is surely not a great thing. You revere the memory of Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak Maharaj. Wherever I go I find the people naturally exposing his portrait in the home, in the windows, at public meetings. The Congress, therefore, asked you to signify your respect, your veneration, for the great departed patriot by subscribing one crore of rupees before that date in order to revere that great patriot. This one crore of rupees is not to be spent on any marble statues or memorial halls. It is to be spent as capital investment for the attainment of swaraj. And if only the men and women of Andhra Desh were to discard only a portion of the ornaments they wear, I know that Andhra Desh will find a quota within a week. I suggest to you that if you are really determined to attain swaraj during this year and redress the Khilafat and the Punjab grievances we can sacrifice everything. And the third thing that the Congress requires the whole of India to do is that by the end of June we shall introduce into our homes not less than 20, 00,000 spinning-wheels. I assure you that the foreign cloth that I see on the persons of these beautiful sisters of mine, the foreign cloth that I see on the persons of so many of you, is nothing but a badge of our slavery and for once it is my honest conviction that the men and women of India clad in foreign cloth look not handsome but ugly. And ugliness will only be termed as beauty when slavery passes for freedom. India was a free land India was a land flowing with milk and honey when every home in India sang freedom with the spinning-wheel. Hundreds of sisters whom I have seen throughout the length and breadth of India have told me that they remembered the time when their mothers used to tell them that the spinning-wheel was a sign of plenty. It is an emblem of purity, simplicity, freedom; it is an emblem of peace to the whole world. As Mr. Das rightly said yesterday the spinning-wheel proved to us and to the whole world that we did not want to engage in the killing competition of the West. The spinning-wheel, its revival, constitutes notice to England, France, America, Japan and every other country that India cannot be subdued for their exploitation. It sends across the seas a message to the other nations of the world that India is determined to be absolutely self-contained and independent for her food and clothing. It takes a message of goodwill to the 3 crores of our countrymen who are living from day to day on only one meal per day and that containing a piece of dried bread and a pinch of salt. It is the one cement that binds the whole of India and makes it into one nation. Take away; destroy this cement, the only cohesive force that can possibly support, and the building of swaraj falls to pieces. Remember that India lost her freedom and lost very nearly her nationality when India yielded either to the force or to the rupee of the East India Company. I hope, therefore, that you, the enterprising citizens of Cocanada, will not rest content until you have put one spinning-wheel working in every home in this great town. I hope that boys, girls, men and women do not consider it beneath their dignity to turn the spinning wheel for some hours during the day. It will be a slight penance that you and I will have performed when we have turned the spinning-wheel. I hope that when my friend or any of you invite me again to the town, you will not forget to give me this assurance that there would not be a boy or girl, a man or woman who is dressed in a foreign cloth, not a boy or girl who is not dressed in khaddar. And I assure you that if the whole of India satisfies this very simple test I call it a very simple test by the end of June, you will find a new life pulsating through the whole of India by the 1st of July. The National Week, the week of purification, will be soon upon us. The 6th of April, 1919, awakened India from its sleep. The 13th of April of that same year made India a witness to a massacre not known in modern times. It is a holy week; it will be crime, it will be sin for a single Indian to forget it. I hope that there will be a complete hartal, purely voluntary, on the 6th and 13th. The hartal must be purely voluntary; if a single man wants to open his shop we must protect him from any harm. Purification is purification only when it is voluntary. And the way to freedom lies not through compulsion, but sweetness, persuasion and humility. I hope that those who can will devote these two days especially to fasting and praying. For remember that this is a battle of freedom. In this we do not invoke the assistance of gunpowder but the assistance of God. During that week you will search your hearts from within. You will fight with all your might against the drink curse. One indispensable sign of purity is that every man considers every woman as his own sister and mother and every woman considers every man as her brother and father. Having been born in a port town myself I know what temptations the population of a port is always exposed to. I was told only yesterday by a friend that the life of our people in Rangoon—and I know that many are in the habit of going to Rangoon—is not all that can be desired. If we want dharmarajya and not rakshasarajya you will agree with me that personal purity is as essential as national purity. Our swaraj consists not in self-indulgence but in self-restraint. I hope that you will devote the National Week to expediting the programme that has been laid to you by the All-India Congress Committee. I hope that during that week you will make still greater efforts to make Hindu-Mussulman unity a solid thing. And I hope that during that week you will for every one of yourselves and for others make it absolutely certain that India’s freedom is dependent purely on non-violence. And you will understand that an angry word uttered against our own countrymen who may not hold the same view as we do, and every word uttered against an Englishman, a stick waved against a single person who might have harmed us, is also violence, contrary to the precept laid down for us by the Congress. And unless we remove the fear of violence from the meanest of our countrymen and from the least of the foreigners that may be residing in our midst we may not be called a nation fit for democracy. And we commit a satanic breach of non-violence when we consider a single man as untouchable, when we consider about a single man in India, even though he may be a leper or a pariah that his touch pollutes, that his shadow takes away Vaishnavites or Shaivite purity. The teaching of the Bhagavad Gita is absolutely as clear as daylight. It enjoins upon us to treat Brahmin and Chandala with the same love, with the same spirit of brotherhood. A Brahmin ceases to be a Brahmin when he considers a single man as inferior to him. One of the sweetest names for God that human loftiness has invented is Dasanudasa, servant of the servants. And it is time that India got rid of this curse of untouchability and now a word especially to the dear sisters who have assembled. Wherever I have travelled the women of India have treated me with affection. And wherever I have gone I have asked from you sisters a blessing for myself and for Maulana Shaukat Ali. And I ask you to give us the blessings that other sisters have given us. And you know what we want the blessings for. We are fighting the battle of freedom and of India’s religions. We are trying to replace this Ravanarajya by Ramarajya. And you know, in that Ashokavatika the divine Sita rejected the finer ornaments. She rejected the spices and tempting foods that Ravana sent to her. She was satisfied to live on the fruits that the trees of Ashokavatika yielded to her. I ask you, the descendants of that same Sita, to follow in her footsteps. Our shastras have given me the assurance that the blessings of a pure woman can never go wrong. And I want you to be armed with the same purity that Sita possessed. And if you are fired with that same spirit of Sita you will not hesitate to tell your husbands or fathers that you don’t want ornaments for your pleasure, either their pleadings in the courts or services in high offices. And tell them that your strong arms and nimble fingers will work at the spinning-wheel. You will tell them that the fruits of your labours will supplement the earnings that your husbands, brothers and fathers may bring home. And you will refuse to send your children to Ravanarajya schools. And, if with a heart pure and bodies undefiled by foreign garments you give us blessings, I know I have every confidence that we will get dharmarajya during this year. I want you to give me out of the fullness of your hearts, not out of shame, whatever ornaments you would, whatever money you would. This money will be spent in taking spinning-wheels to poor homes and in educating poor boys. You and I may not deck ourselves with ornaments or with fine dress so long as there is a single man or woman who has to get his or her food or clothing. I thank you for giving me such a patient hearing. You understand now that all our speeches and our resolutions are addressed to us. Unlike as of old, our speeches, our resolutions now require us to do something, rather than the Government. I would ask you to give me at least one ocular demonstration that you are all intent upon attaining swaraj. I will ask you to give whatever you can to the volunteers who will presently go into your midst, whether it is a pie or one rupee or whether a bangle or ornament all these things will be helpful for winning swaraj if voluntarily given and with a determination to get swaraj. I want nothing out of shame, or out of compulsion. I am satisfied with a pie as I am satisfied with millions. May God grant you courage and ability to go through the discipline that is required of you during this year?” 11

 Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Rajahmundry, “I know and you should know also that the time for talking and listening is gone. The All-India Congress Committee demands that India should supply the nation with a crore of rupees before June 30th. It asks you to put one crore of men and women on the Congress register, and it asks you to introduce twenty lakhs of spinning-wheels in working order in Indian homes. I hope you will do your full share, and if we succeed in doing this, we shall have brought swaraj within easy reach. But even that work cannot be done unless the Hindus and Mohammedans combine in that effort. Hindu-Muslim unity is as necessary for national evolution as breathing is necessary for life. Maulana Shaukat Ali and I have been presenting to India what we mean by Hindu-Muslim unity. We are both staunch in our respective faiths he to Islam and I to Hindu Sanatana Dharma. Just as Hindu-Muslim unity is essential for national liberty, swaraj, and settlement of the Khilafat and Punjab wrongs, so also it is necessary for the maintenance of non-violence. Hindu-Muslim unity and non-violence means controlling of passion, clearing of minds and hearts of mean jealousies, and therefore I called this movement a movement of self-purification and self-restraint. You cannot drink and cannot womanize. Nothing has given me, therefore, greater joy and pleasure than the manifestation of purity that India is conducting spontaneously against stable drinkers. Addressing the women in the audience he said: You, my dear sisters, I want to warn you and to bring you to a sense of duty and religion. If there is a dancing girl amidst you, I ask you to make her life not one of shame. Take up the spinning-wheel and take the few pies that the work brings you, and it will bring pies and God into your house. Do you suppose that Rama and Sita would rest for a single moment if they knew a single woman might have to sell her honour for lust of men and for a mess of pottage? I ask you to discard all your fine garments and ornaments, if only for the protection of these dancing girls. Take up the spinning-wheel for their sake, if not for the sake of India. Take up the spinning-wheel for the sake of the purity of India. Take up the sari that the charkha can give you. Let the spotless sari of India be the protection of the virtue of man and woman in India. I ask you to consider that to wear fine foreign saries is a sin. Continuing his address he said: Remove equally the curse of untouchability from your midst. Let my voice reach the leaders of Andhra Desh. Do not lead a free nation into perdition. I believe you to be men and women of faith. I believe you to be capable of all sacrifice for the sake of India. I believe you are all fired with the ambition of service. I ask every one of you to search within and fully appreciate the significance of this movement and understand but not brag and bluster; nor is eloquence necessary for winning in this battle. Absolute personal purity, humility, understanding and ceaseless activity are the things necessary for attaining swaraj and redressing the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs. May God grant you the necessary wisdom, courage, discrimination and spirit of service?” 12

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at public meeting, Masulipatnam, “I thank the Municipality for the address given to me and the sentiments expressed therein. For me it is a matter of great pleasure and joy that I have been able to fulfil the promise I made to myself and to some friends that I would visit Andhra Jatheeya Kalasala, Masulipatnam, at the earliest possible opportunity. Although I have previously passed through Bezwada twice, for some reason or other I was unable then to visit Masulipatnam. And my joy is therefore all the greater that my hope of visiting it was deferred and realized at this late period. I call it late, because when I first had the idea of visiting the national institution in Masulipatnam, non-co-operation was not born. I have now passed two quiet, and what shall always remain with me, sacred days on the sacred grounds of this great educational institution. And I am here to inform you that the expectations that I had formed of this institution have been more than realized after the observations that I was able to make of it during these two privileged days. I see method, organizing ability, and sacrifice written in every inch of that ground. As an Indian I feel proud of it. As the inhabitants of this great Andhra province, I hope that all the Andhra friends are equally proud of it, and I hope that you, the citizens of Masulipatnam, consider it a privilege that you have an institution in your midst which is manned by men who are filled with the spirit of sacrifice. I do not hastily bestow praise upon any institution. But I would have been false to myself and I would have been false to you, if I did not convey to you the sentiments that have been fired within me during these two days. I ask you therefore to make that institution your own. Strengthen where you may find it to be weak. Strengthen it further where you find that there is strength in it. Look up to it as an ideal, and try to perfect it in order to perfect your own ideals. I was surprised and pained to find that although you have two big educational institutions in your midst not one of them had supported this great institution. I had hoped that as the result of non-co-operation the students of Masulipatnam High School and College were tired and disgusted as the students all over India have felt tired and disgusted with the institutions dominated by the spirit of this Government. I had hoped that such students at least would have gone to this institution. In other places I have been asked by the student world where they were to go, as there were no national institutions in existence. The student world of Masulipatnam have absolutely no such excuse in view of the fact that this institution has been in their midst for the last nearly fifteen years. If you are brave boys you would take my advice. You should go to this school, and as scholars in this institution, if you find that there is anything that does not satisfy your head or your heart, you should insist upon the teaching staff to correct those defects. We are entering tomorrow upon the sacred National Week. The sixth of April, 1919, witnessed India awakened. The sixth of April, 1919, witnessed an awakened India when her Hindu and Mussulman peoples showed a real desire to be united. True swadeshi spirit was also born on that day. The 13th of April, seven days after that great awakening, witnessed a black Sunday. Nearly 1,500 innocent men were butchered at Jallianwala Bagh. The dying were neglected by the butchers and I want the students, I want the pleaders and I want all the sisters who are surrounding me to imagine in their minds the picture of that one solitary figure of a brave and noble woman, Ratan Devi, weeping over the corpse of her dead husband and fearlessly and in defiance of the order of General Dyer taking in her lap the head, the cold head, of her dead husband. Ratan Devi was your sister and mine. I ask you to imagine what you would have felt if you had been in Ratan Devi’s place in that desolate field of Jallianwala Bagh. I do not want you to become irritated against Englishmen. But I want you to turn your searchlight inward. We observed the sacred week by commencing with fasting, prayer and hartal and we closed the week likewise. I hope that you, the citizens of Masulipatnam, will tomorrow fast, pray and observe hartal. Fasting is an age-old institution. We fast when we do not feel pure; we fast as a penance for our past sins, and pray to God for making us strong. We pray to God for forgiveness of our sins, and after prayer we turn over a new leaf. I hope therefore that every one of you who has come here will not forget these two necessary ceremonies. I treat the hartal also as a religious observance for tomorrow and tomorrow week. It is not to be deemed as expressing a political demonstration, but it should be interpreted as expression of India’s determination to find herself. I would ask you tomorrow and during the whole week to dispel every thought of ill will and malice against any member of this Government, whether he is English or Indian. The fear with which we are filled is the first sin. We fear Englishmen, we fear the Japanese, and we fear every other man but God. And believe me, it is only a man who has no faith in God and who has no faith in himself, only such a man fears his fellow beings. The second great sin that we committed against India, against humanity and against God was the destruction of the spinning-wheel. I wish I could convince the whole of India that it was due to this great sin of ours, national sin as I call it, that India became degraded and a slave nation. The least expiation we can do is to banish every inch of foreign cloth from our midst, and therefore I ask you men and women of Masulipatnam from tomorrow to make up a fixed determination not to wear foreign cloth any more, but to wear only that cloth which is woven and spun by yourselves and not by others. Another sign that we have committed is selfishness. We have thought not of the nation but ourselves, and when we have gone beyond the family we have not been able to progress beyond the city or village. And the least expiation we can do is to cease to live for ourselves only, begin to live for India. The rupture between Hindus and Mohmmedans is another of our sins. We have extended our horizon from the Himalayas to Rameshwar, from Bengal to Sind. Hindu-Muslim unity is an established fact. Therefore there remains the spinning-wheel for us to concentrate upon. I would ask you further to think of the things that the All-India Congress Committee has commended to our attention, to find a crore of rupees for the Tilak Swaraj Fund. The Andhra Desh proportion comes to 7_ lakhs of rupees. I hope that men and women of Masulipatnam will give their best to this Fund. Presently volunteers will go over to you. Several sisters of Masulipatnam have been to me already and given their ornaments and money. I hope that the response from Masulipatnam will be no less than elsewhere.” 13

 

References:

 

  1. The Hindu, 1-2-1921
  2. The Hindu, 16-3-1921
  3. The Hindu, 1-4-1921
  4. The Hindu, 1-4-1921
  5. The Hindu, 1-4-1921
  6. The Hindu, 1-4-1921  
  7. The Hindu, 1-4-1921
  8. The Hindu, 1-4-1921
  9. The Hindu, 4-4-1921
  10. The Hindu, 4-4-1921
  11. The Hindu, 6-4-1921  
  12. The Hindu, 8-4-1921
  13. The Hindu, 8-4-1921

 

 

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