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, Part-V

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi said, “He was overwhelmed with joy for the unique kindness shown him throughout the Andhra Desh. He said he himself had gone to jail a number of times in South Africa and each time he was discharged he felt sorry. He was jealous of those who had the privilege of going to jail because he found greater freedom within the prison walls than under a system of Government which destroyed the spirit and manhood of man and denied him the ordinary nights. He hoped that those who had gone to jail deserved the distinction. He congratulated the women of Chirala on producing one lady at least who could go to jails. He congratulated them on the spirit of non-violence that had marked their struggle. His reading of the papers of the case—he had read every line of it led him to the conclusion that it was a good case. In his opinion the Government grievously erred in imposing a municipality against the unanimous opinion of the people. He knew their difficulties had just begun. Only two courses were open to them as honourable men and women either to offer non-co-operation with civil disobedience or to perform hijrat as the Mussulmans would say, or Tulsidas would say desatyag. Both weapons were in his opinion equally powerful and equally effective. He asked them not to depend upon the support of the Congress, but rely on their own strong arm, that is, self-suffering. After paying a glowing tribute to their trusted leader, Mr. Dugirala Gopalkrishnayya, he exhorted them to realize the matchless beauty of non-violence. After referring to the spinning-wheel as the life-giver of India, he said: I shall follow the career of the men and women of Chirala with reverence. You are on the threshold of a new age in the history of India. The whole of India is looking on you. It will be a shame if you go back on your word, if you make a single, vital blunder. Observe non-violence and with God as your witness defy the whole world. May God bless you, men and women of Chirala?” 1

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Tilak Vidyalaya, “While declaring the institution open, Mahatmaji exhorted the trustees of the institution that they should concentrate their attention and energy on the one important issue of the day, the attainment of swaraj, and said that spinning and weaving were the central factors of the Congress resolution. He did not like the idea of the trustees raising subscriptions for this institution separately inasmuch as it would affect the important Tilak Swaraj Fund, which was recently started and which required a crore of rupees. There should be only one activity for which there should be begging. Therefore he advised the trustees to consult the president of the Provincial Congress Committee before embarking on any scheme. Swaraj was not to be attained by any heroism but by disciplined thought and disciplined action. He warned the trustees against the danger of putting fantastic educational schemes before the country. There was no educational scheme before the country except one and that was the attainment of swaraj. He wished prosperity to the new institution.” 2   

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at public meeting, “You will please excuse me for my inability to speak to you standing. I have also to ask for your forgiveness as I have not been able to come here in time; but I do not feel guilty about it. Our sisters detained me longer than I had expected. It was quite possible for me to have come here directly from the ladies’ meeting, omitting my evening meal. But I flattered myself with the belief that you would not have me to make such an indifferent choice. I ask also for your forgiveness that I have not been able to visit Nellore earlier than now. As soon as I heard that the Hindus and Mussulmans of Nellore were at sixes and sevens, I thought of coming and remaining in your midst for some time. I wanted to know who those Hindus and who those Mussulmans were who would rather quarrel amongst themselves and retard the attainment of swaraj and the redress of the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs. You claim to have an ancient town, and I hope that you will not lag behind other parts of India and have it said of you and against you that the Hindus and Mussulmans of Nellore cannot live together as brothers. But many things interfered with my desire to come here earlier than now. I have endeavoured to ascertain the cause of the quarrel and you will forgive me for saying that the causes were not worse than rupture between the two great communities. I understand that the Mussulmans of Nellore, or let me put it, the majority of the Mussulmans of Nellore, would not allow the Hindus to perform musical functions, to have musical processions passing by their mosques. The Mohammedans contend that but a few years ago there was no such demand made by the Hindu population. I have not known the Hindu case. I have not come here to judge between my Hindu and Mussulman brethren. But as an expert on Hindu and Muslim unity, I propose in all humility to place, for your consideration and acceptance, certain fundamental principles on which, and on which alone, such a unity can remain everlasting. As a Sanatana Dharma Hindu, feeling for my own faith, hoping that if the Faith was on its trial, I would be found in the front rank to give my life for its sake as a Sanatani Hindu, I wish first of all to address myself to my Hindu brethren, and would say: ‘If you would live in amity and friendship with the Mohammedan countrymen, the only way you can do so is never on any account to put a strain upon their religious fervour and always yield to them even though you may consider that their demands are unreasonable and unjust. But there is a condition attached to that submission even to unreasonable demands and that condition is that their demands do not encroach upon the vital part of your religious tenets.’ I will take a homely illustration. If my Mohammedan countrymen demanded that I should cease to go to my temple, I would rather perish than concede that demand in order to buy that friendship. Protection of the cow, I hold as dear as life itself and if my Mussulman brother asked me to waive protection of the cow, I again would perish rather than buy his friendship with the blood of my cow. But when he tells me not to play music past his mosque within a few yards, I would not condescend to argue with him but immediately yield to him. Hindus may take it from me that it is no part, no essential part, of Hinduism that we should play music at any time. It is much less an essential part of my religion that I should play music, instrumental or vocal, passing by a mosque. I would not hesitate to agree to every such demand, to every such sentiment, to every such prejudice of my Mohammedan brethren. And so, if I were a Hindu living in Nellore, I would not even allow a case of this character to go to arbitration; and only by agreeing with our Mussulman brethren on all non-essentials and ceasing to subject them to pinpricks, we will be able to keep their friendship forever. And there can be no bargaining in friendship. I yield to my Mussulman brethren in every non-essential, because it is natural for me to do so, because my religion demands that I should live at peace with the whole world even at the sacrifice of my life. And therefore, if the Hindus of Nellore were to ask me what they should do because they consider that the demand of the Mussulman brethren is unreasonable and unjust, I would say: ‘Do not argue but yield to that unreasonable and unjust demand.’ For if we were to engage in a discussion of such trivial quarrels, the world will set us down as children unfit to govern themselves, and you will, therefore, see quite clearly that it would be relevant for the Hindus to tell me that such a thing is really the case, that I have been misinformed, that only a few years ago the Hindus never claimed to play music, passing by mosques. Such pleasures of religious life because I call these things pleasures, agreeable pleasures such pleasures of religious life I would hold at the mercy, at the grace of my Mohammedan brethren. What is more, you Hindus are probably 42 to 45 thousand in Nellore. Mussulmans are but seven thousand. Hindus therefore as the elder brother are bound to hold the Mussulman interests as trustees. Your nobility or title to swaraj demands that, as the stronger party, you should assume the privilege of protecting the weak. To my Mohammedan brethren I would urge: ‘Never think of making any unreasonable demands. Make it your business to study the prejudices and sentiments of your Hindu brethren. Make allowances for what you may consider to be their weaknesses. God will not hold you answerable on the Judgment Day if He finds that you allowed yourself in your prayers in the mosque to be interrupted by some music that you heard. I have not the shadow of a doubt that God Almighty, whom you call also Rahim, will understand your humble and gentle plea when you tell Him on the Judgment Day that you could not help it, because you wanted to respect your Hindu brothers’ prejudices. The test for friendship, the test for brotherhood is that each party always makes allowances for the weaknesses of the other and I know that on the Judgment Day that party will win the day which will be able to show that it has always surrendered on non-essentials. The life of the great Prophet is for you as a living example of a perpetual surrender of non-essentials.’ But I say to the Hindu and Mussulman brethren of Nellore, whether they can agree about their differences or not, whether they can make concessions to one another or not, whether they can come to an agreement on essentials and non-essentials or not, it is not given to them, not to a Jingle Hindu or to a single Mussulman to fly at each other’s throats, to throw stones at one another, and to inflict violence on one another. They must have trusted, chosen leaders of each community to form a Board of Arbitration to settle all religious disputes between the two, and if they are not satisfied, they can either go to the Congress or to the Khilafat Committee for a settlement. And finally I would repeat the advice that Maulana Shaukat Ali has been giving times without number both to the Mussulmans and Hindus. When a Mohammedan feels irritated and angry with his Hindu neighbours and when he cannot restrain himself and feels that he must inflict condign punishment on his Hindu brethren, then he must go to Mahatma Gandhi and cut off his head. Similarly he advised the Hindus that if the Hindus felt irritated against the Mussulman neighbours and wanted to pick a quarrel with them, they should not lay their hands upon the Mussulman neighbours but they should go to Shaukat Ali himself; although he is strong and burly, he makes that definite promise that even a Hindu child may take his head from his shoulders. Let Hindus and Mussulmans understand firmly that the cornerstone of swaraj, the cornerstone of the freedom of India is Hindu and Muslim unity. Let both understand that the defence of Islam with reference to the Khilafat through the power of India is only possible if Hindu-Muslim unity becomes a living factor in their life. Let Hindus understand that their full contribution, their unconditional hearty contribution to the defence of Islam automatically carries with it the defence of Hinduism itself. And so my dear countrymen of Nellore, I beseech both of you, whether you are Hindus or Mussulmans, sink your petty differences, never quarrel again, make a firm determination during the sacred week, bend down to your knees to pray that He may give you both power and wisdom to remain at peace with one another and make a firm determination to use all that united, matchless power for the freedom of India, for the freedom of Islam, for retrieving the honour of the Punjab. Both Hindus and Mussulmans have told me in the course of the day that this wretched petty quarrel has resulted in all non-cooperation activity and Khilafat activity not being conducted and carried through to the extent that it was possible for Nellore to do. I hope, therefore, that you will not allow the sun to rise upon you before you have settled your differences and I hope that from tomorrow morning you will set about as thinking, wise business men to work out the programme that has been sketched for you by the All-India Congress Committee, that you will continue to contribute to the Tilak Swaraj Fund that you have commenced today; that you will not rest satisfied until you have placed on the Congress register every adult male and female, Hindu or Mussulman. It is time that you began to consider it to be a sin to wear an inch of foreign cloth. Let the Mohammedans understand that the wearing of foreign cloth is a badge of the degradation of Islam and let both Hindus and Mussulmans understand that the wearing of foreign cloth is a badge of our slavery. I would ask you not to fall back upon Ahmadabad or Bombay for your clothes, but make it a point of honour to become self-sustained by manufacturing all the cloth for your local needs. Take it again from me, as an experienced spinner and weaver, that it is entirely possible for the 52,000 men and women of Nellore to produce all your cloth in the course of a month. Within one night one weaver was able to produce sufficient cloth for me to last for one year and that sacred cloth produced last night is in my possession and I am proud of it. And so I ask you to divert your attention from your internal Hindu and Muslim dissensions or any other dissension and concentrate that attention on the main issue before the whole nation. Banish all drink, gambling and falsehoods and all vices in your midst and live up to the profession made in your name and my name in that, this battle of non-co-operation is a battle of self-purification. I would ask you finally to remember that the National Week is not yet over. We finished the second day this evening. There are full five precious days in store for us. Let us make the best use of these five days. I would ask you during these five days specially to cultivate friendship between yourselves, Hindus and Mussulmans. I would ask every Hindu to go out of his way whenever he meets a Mohammedan brother and to greet him with a pleasant and smiling salaam. Similarly I would ask every Mohammedan brother of mine here, when he meets a Hindu, to go out of his way and greet him with a pleasant smile or salaam or Vande Mataram. And so during these 5 or 6 days, you will put forth extraordinary energy so that you may get rid of all mutual distrust and mutual suspicion and of uncleanliness and rise at the end of the week purified and fitter for swaraj, for the defence of the Khilafat, fitter for the retrieving of the honour of the Punjab. May God help you to carry out the holy purpose which I know you will all set before yourselves? I will ask you to remain silent and seated, as you are, in this admirable peaceful attitude and allow the volunteers to collect your very best donations for the Tilak Swaraj Fund. I thank you for the great patience and the courtesy with which both Hindus and Mussulmans have listened to me.” 3

Mahatma Gandhi spoke, “As usual you will extend your forgiveness to me for my inability to speak to you standing. You have just now witnessed the ceremony of Poornakumbham performed. It carries blessings and the prayer that the mission on whom India has embarked may be successful. I am thankful to those friends who assisted in performing this ceremony and those who conceived the thing. It is a significant fact that in this struggle Hindus and Mussulmans, Brahmins and non-Brahmins, Christians, Parsis, Jews, all who claim this country as theirs are united. But I wish to invite the attention of this meeting and of the authors of this ceremony to the foreign touch that attached to that ceremony. You saw the floral decoration surrounding the Kumbham. It was of paper flowers. You might have noticed also the garment in which the Kumbham was wrapped; it was foreign cloth. I hope that it is time India will recognize that foreign cloth is a badge of our slavery, that foreign cloth is a badge of the degradation of Islam in India. The more I think of the salvation of India economic, political, moral, religious—the more I think of the Khilafat question, the more I am convinced that if the Khilafat wrong is to be redressed through India, through the Hindus and Mussulmans of India, if India is to gain swaraj during this year, at least we owe it to the motherland that we discard the use of foreign cloth, no matter at what cost As Maulana Mahomed Ali in one of his recent speeches in Calcutta remarked: “A hundred years ago or more we sold away the spinning-wheel and we purchased our slavery.” And I want therefore to invite your attention to the most potent part of the resolution arrived at by the All-India Congress Committee after the programme of Non-co-operation had worked for so many months. If we want one crore of rupees before the 30th June, we want it not in order to promote deputations to England or America or any part of the world, not for any foreign propaganda, but we want that money and more for introducing the spinning-wheel into every home in India. We want that money in order to pay a mere livelihood to the workers who will come out throughout the length and breadth of Dravid land to introduce the spinning-wheel. Only the other day I was in Masulipatnam and I had the honour of visiting a few villages where even today our sisters are spinning beautiful fine yarn not for money but for love. (Cheers.) I therefore hope that if you are going to be instrumental in attaining swaraj during this year, in redressing the Khilafat wrong and the Punjab wrong, you will make during this sacred National Week a fixed determination to throw away all the foreign cloth that you may possess. I hold it to be a crime to see an inch of foreign cloth in our temples, in our mosques. But I must pass on to some other topics. I am glad to note that the more we progress the more convinced our countrymen are that the success of our battle depends mainly, if not solely; upon non-violence. In my opinion our non-violence is the greatest part of our non-co-operation. But our non-violence will have to stand the severest stress and the greatest strain that might be put upon it. I have just heard that somewhere in Malabar a non-co-operating father had to witness unprovoked violence done to his son by some policemen. I shall still hope that the story is untrue, that there is some defect, some error about the evidence collected by friends who brought the thing to my notice. But let us understand that such a thing is not impossible under this Government or for that matter any other Government. We had too much of it at the time of the Martial Law in the Punjab two years ago. The greatest time of our triumph will be only when we can stand the tortures without returning any violence whatsoever. This Government must either repent of the wrongs, the violent wrongs done to India, or it must hold India by a system of terrorism. It was only when I came to the conclusion that Dyerism, O’Dwyerism, was not an isolated phenomenon, but that it was a settled policy of the Government bent upon holding India at any cost that I called it a Satanic system of Government. But to non-co-operators there is only one road left open and that is to turn the searchlight inward, to purify ourselves, to exercise the greatest restraint under the gravest provocation. Therefore, I ask fathers of boys who are doing any non-co-operation work and I ask non-co-operators themselves who are actively engaged in propaganda to understand that if they continue this work they should do so knowing that they might be subjected to violence and even then they ought not to retort. If India can only exercise self-restraint during this year of probation, of purification for her, I assure you I can see nothing that can prevent our onward march and establishment of swaraj in India during this year. If you believe in God—and no non-cooperator can be a real non-co-operator who does not believe in God—if you believe in God during this week of prayer, of purification and sacrifice, you will concentrate your prayer to God that He may give every one of us, the whole of India, the power to bear all violence that this Government make use of and subject us to. It is infinitely more necessary that we non-co-operators control our speech, control our movements and free them even from any danger or any smell of violence. Let our speech and our pen is free of any violent thing. If we would but continue along this course of purification, to use an expression of the late President Kruger, we shall stagger humanity during this year. For what is it that we have seen in the repression, not merely in the Madras Presidency, but in the Central Provinces, in the United Provinces and other parts of India? In spite of the denial of Sir William Vincent I am here to say that the temperance crusade in the Central Provinces has become a crime, and when they talk of putting down non-co-operation by all possible means, they talk of putting down home-spinning, putting down the teetotalism. We are showing step by step through the course of our self-purification that this Government can hold India in bondage only on the strength of its Abakari revenue, only on the strength of the exploitation of India through Lancashire. Therefore I would urge every one of you to sterilize the activity of this Government by showing to the whole of India, by showing to the Moderates and the Liberal party that when they associate with this Government and support the policy of repression inaugurated by this Government they do not want non-co-operationists to carry on the campaign of temperance, to carry the message of goodwill, the message of happiness and the message of chastity of the womanhood of India which the spinning-wheel carried. Day by day we are having ocular demonstration of the fact that this Government has no inherent strength or vitality. It derives its strength out of our weaknesses. It thrives upon our dissensions. The Hindu-Muslim disunion, the Hindu-Muslim quarrels, no longer supply food for this Government. Now this Government, I see and understand, is trading upon the disunion between Brahmins and non-Brahmins. If this Non-co-operation Movement is a Brahmin movement, and I hope it is a Brahmin movement, the remedy is incredibly simple, because the Brahmins want no loaves and fishes, if they are non-co-operators. But let us make haste to patch up quarrels as we have patched up the Hindu-Muslim quarrel amongst ourselves. I wish to repeat what I said to a select audience of lawyers some time ago in Madras. I have not a shadow of doubt that Hinduism owes its all to the great traditions that the Brahmins have left for Hinduism. They have left a legacy for India, for which every Indian, no matter to what Varna he may belong, owes a deep debt of gratitude. Having studied the history of almost every religion in the world it is my settled conviction that there is no class in the world that has accepted poverty and self-effacement as its lot. I would therefore urge a non-Brahmin myself I would urge all non-Brahmins who may compose the audience and all non-Brahmins to whom my voice may reach that they will make a fundamental error if they believe that they can better their position by decrying Brahmanism. Even in this black age, travelling throughout the length and breadth of India, I notice that the Brahmins take the first place in self-sacrifice and self-effacement. It is the Brahmins all over India who silently but surely are showing to every class in India their rights and privileges. But having said so much I wish to confess too that the Brahmins together with the rest of us have suffered of all [sic]. They have set before India, voluntarily and deliberately, the highest standard that the human mind is capable of conceiving; and they must not be surprised if the Indian world exacts that standard from them. The Brahmins have declared themselves, and they ought to remain, custodians of the purity of our life. I am aware that the non-Brahmins of Madras have many things to say against Brahmins, for which there is some cause. But let non-Brahmins realize that by quarrelling with Brahmins, by being jealous of them and by mud-slinging they will not better their lot, but will degrade Hinduism itself. I hold that it behoves non-Brahmins, shrewd as they are, to understand the beauty and secret of this movement. This movement is specially designed to dethrone insolence of office. He who has eyes may see what is happening in India today is a process not of leveling down but of leveling up. Let non-Brahmins beware of attempting to rise upon the ashes of Brahmanism. And, therefore, I would urge non-Brahmins, if they cannot throw themselves heart and soul into this movement, at least to refrain from interfering with this movement by intriguing with the Government. The grievances of non-Brahmins against Brahmins are a mere nothing compared to the grievances of Adi-Dravidas and Panchama against Hinduism. Hindu ism has made them a sort of lepers; and we have become lepers of the Empire in turn. Non-Brahmins are equally guilty with Brahmins in making the Panchamas crawl on their bellies. It is my deliberate conviction that we are suffering this yoke of slavery for the sake of the sins that we have committed against our brothers whom we arrogantly consider to be untouchables. I claim to be a sanatani Hindu; I claim to have read our shastras to the best of my ability; I claim to have understood the spirit of Hinduism; I claim to have understood the message of the Vedas and the Upanishads; I claim to have lived the life of a sanatani Hindu deliberately, knowingly and voluntarily for a period of thirty years; and notwithstanding anything that may be said by any Hindu to the contrary, I ask you to accept the authority of my experiences that there is no warrant in our scriptures for considering a single human being as untouchable. I am content to be a Hindu; I am content to die a Hindu and I am ready and I hope to die for the defence of my religion at any moment; but I should cease to call myself a Hindu if I believe for one moment that Hinduism requires me to consider it a sin to touch a single human being. Therefore, I invite the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins of this Presidency to battle against this curse of untouchability and rid them of it. I ask you not to mix up intermarriage and interdining with untouchability. And thus if, as Hindus and Mohammedans have done, Hindus among themselves will but close their ranks, we shall consider in the language of the Bhagavad Gita that when in our heart occupy an equal place both Brahmin and Chandala, that very day you will see there is no non-Brahmin problem remaining for solution. Non-co-operation in the language of medicine is a kind of aseptic treatment. Antiseptics are necessary only when we first gather dirt and we want to introduce other germs to destroy that dirt; but aseptic treatment presupposes purity from within. Our non-co-operation with the Government, therefore, simply means we have done away with dirt and uncleanliness. We do not want to pretend to have dispelled darkness by making darkness deeper. We do not want to meet or neutralize violence of the Government by greater violence on our part. Our swaraj must not consist of exploitation of any human being on earth. I therefore urge you simply to concentrate your attention upon the three things that the All-India Congress Committee have placed before you. I would like you never to give the slightest excuse to the Government for imprisoning us in regard to our speeches. But I would leave open the gates of prison without a drop of tear from my eyes and send the whole of the womanhood of India to prisons for possessing the spinning-wheel. Let us not be impatient either with the Government or with our friends who are opposed to us today. Rather let us be impatient with ourselves. All our speeches and all our resolutions are now mostly, or should be, addressed to ourselves. And if we can only carry through the simple programme that is mapped out by the Congress, by the Khilafat Committee and by the Muslim League, I repeat my conviction that swaraj we shall attain and the Khilafat wrong and the Punjab wrong we shall redress during this year. One word to the educated men of Madras and I have finished. You will accept the evidence that I tender that, throughout my long travels; I have noticed that the masses and the women of India are absolutely with us. I ask the educated Indians to accept my testimony that they are neither so unintelligent nor so uncultured as we often consider them to be. They see far more truly through their intuition than we educated Indians do with our intellect clouded by multiplicity of ideas. And I ask you to accept the testimony given by Sir Thomas Munro, and con-firm that testimony, that the masses of India are really more cultured than any in the world. It has become customary with me nowadays, as you all know that before I retire from the meeting I make a collection for the Tilak Swaraj Fund. Volunteers will presently go out in your midst and I ask you to give your best to the Fund. I thank you for the extraordinary patience with which you have listened to me. I pray to God that He may give us the necessary courage and the necessary wisdom to do our duty.” 4

Mahatma Gandhi reply to address at Bijapur, “I am glad that Mr. Gundappa was allowed to speak. It is our duty to hear patiently the views of our opponents. I know the feelings of the non-Brahmins and also their cause. I do not say that the Brahmins are not to blame at all. Even the Brahmins do not claim to be faultless. The Brahmins have disregarded the feelings of their religion and have lost the purity of life. They have fallen from the high position which they once occupied and their degradation marked the commencement of the downfall of India. I am a non-Brahmin and I appeal to my non-Brahmin friends not to forget their religion and ideals of life because the present-day Brahmins have degenerated. But you may be surprised to know that it is due to the Brahmins that the non-Brahmins have been conscious of the short-comings and agitating for their rights. The Brahmins, however fallen they may be, are still in the forefront of all movements, political and social. It is the Brahmins who exert for the uplift of the depressed classes, more than anybody else. Lokamanya Tilak is revered by all classes of people for his services to the country. One Brahmin gentleman in Andhra has devoted his life to the service of the untouchable classes. The late Mr. Gokhale Mr. Ranade and the Hon'ble Mr. Sastri have all done splendid work for the regeneration of the backward classes. These are all Brahmins. I am convinced that the Brahmins are known for their self-sacrifice at all times. You complain of the Brahmin bureaucracy. But let us compare it with the British bureaucracy. The latter follows "the divide and rule policy" and maintains its authority by the power of the sword, whereas the Brahmins have never resorted to the force of arms and they have established their superiority by sheer force of their intellect, self-sacrifice and penance. None need be jealous of their superiority. I appeal to my non-Brahmin brethren not to hate the Brahmin and not to be victims of the snares of the bureaucracy. The non-Brahmins are wealthy. Agriculture is in their hands; so also commerce. If they hanker after the public services, the way is made quite open to them by the non-co-operation movement. Non-co- operation is for the good of all, Brahmins and non-Brahmins alike. You say the advice to boycott schools and colleges may be acceptable to the Brahmins who are educated but will be decidedly harmful to the non-Brahmins who are still uneducated. You also say that I am a fine product of the modern education. But I must tell you that the modern education has made cowards of us all. Our helplessness and mutual jealousies are due to this education. It has developed a slave mentality in us. The qualities which you attribute to me are not certainly the result of this education. I have long ago freed myself from the hypnotic influence of the education. I am what I am, by the study of my religious and eternal principles of life and such religious and philosophical books as the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata and Ramaraksha compiled by the Brahmins. I ask my non-Brahmin friends to calmly consider these things and I am sure they will be convinced of the truth of what I say. I and the Ali Brothers live as brothers. And I appeal to the two communities, Hindu and Mohammedan, to live similarly as brothers. The movement of non-co-operation is that of self-purification. We must get rid of the vices which eat into the vitals of our society. We must be ready to sacrifice our life on the altar of the country. We must practice non-violence at all costs. We must follow the noble example set by Lachhman Singh and Dulip Singh of the Punjab. They did not raise so much as one finger in self-defence though they were strong enough to kill Mahant Naraindas. I am sorry that this district is famine-stricken. Naturally, therefore, you have not been able to contribute liberally to the Tilak Swaraj Fund. But I regret to hear that there are only 1,400 charkhas working in the whole of the district. Charkha is an insurance against famine. The 87 per cent of the population which live on agriculture have no other means of life in times of scarcity. We must therefore introduce charkha in every home. Thereby we shall be killing two birds with one stone. Thereby the swadeshi industry will thrive and it will result in a complete boycott of foreign cloth. If we are deter-mined to follow the path of non-violence and settle the Brahmin-non-Brahmin disputes and the Hindus and Mohammedans act towards each other in brotherly love, and if the charkha finds its way into every household, I assure you that swaraj will be established during this year. Lokamanya Tilak has taught us that Home Rule is our birthright. 1 We need not go to schools or to the Councils to practice this mantra. Charkha will give us the swaraj we require. We have to collect I crore of rupees before the 30th of June. I believe it is not a difficult task to collect I crore in the name of Lokamanya Tilak. I thank you for honouring me and for the addresses of welcome presented by the Municipality and the merchants of Bijapur. When municipalities and merchants are alive to their duties, they will be able to materially help us to attain swaraj and to obtain justice in regard to the Khilafat and the Punjab.” 5

 

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi gave interview, “Taking advantage of the arrival of Mr. Gandhi in Madras on Thursday morning, a representative of the Daily Express called on the non-co-operation leader and interviewed him in regard to various questions that are at present agitating the minds of the public in which Mr. Gandhi is either directly or indirectly concerned. Asked what proportion of the Crore Fund had been collected and where the money had been deposited, Mr. Gandhi said that the bulk of the Fund had been collected and was deposited with the several provincial committees. So far as he was aware the monies were deposited in various banks the largest part of it being deposited in Bombay.

REPRESENTATIVE: How will the amount collected be utilized?

GANDHIJI: The amount collected is being utilized chiefly for swadeshi, i.e., for encouraging hand-spinning and hand-weaving, in national educational institutions, for famine relief and in connection with the temperance campaign and the untouchables. You may take it roughly that 50 per cent will be devoted to hand-spinning and hand-weaving. In view of the outbreaks of violence that have occurred in Malabar, and in other centres previously, what steps will you take to ensure adherence to nonviolence? The only answer that I can give to this question is that I will do it by speeches, by talks in private also, by correspondence and by popularizing hand-spinning, because I consider hand-spinning as the greatest and the most efficacious antidote. If I could only get the whole of India to become busy with this development, it would stop all violence in the movement do you think that there are bound to be exceptions to observance of nonviolence as in the case of the Moplahs? Yes, there are bound to be exceptions, but I am positive that there would have been much greater violence, more widespread, if there had been no non-co-operation continuously emphasizing nonviolence. I should like to answer fully and frankly all the questions that may arise from my answer in order to make my position absolutely clear. With regard to the question of picketing, I take it that there is a strong body of opinion that objects to picketing. If you find, after experience, that the two opposing forces would result in any form of disorder, do you intend that, in spite of that, picketing shall continue? Yes, it will continue so long as there is no violence used by those who are picketing. I would not take into consideration the violence that may be offered either by the liquor dealers or by the people who want to visit these liquor shops; the third party being the Government. In several cases in Bihar, the Magistrate had actually given half a crown and said: “Here’s half a crown, you go and insist upon drinking, because it is your birthright and you are entitled to drink.” So of that kind of violence, I shall take no notice so long as the nonviolent party remains true to their principles, but if they do not remain true then, of course, all picketing will cease. Then there is the question of the boycott of cloth. My information here is that there has been an increase in the price of the Indian goods that come from Bombay. If the boycott of imported goods continues, I calculate myself that there is bound to be a further increase in the price of Indian-made goods. If that occurs, will it affect your campaign? It would not affect my campaign because it is really not a question of the mills. I continually bring to the ears of the people that true swadeshi means home-production. I therefore want the people to be totally indifferent to the mill manufactures. Even of the Indian mills? Yes. I am not boycotting Indian mills as such, because that is unnecessary. But if the people fall back upon Indian mills, only then I will boycott Indian mills also because they will not solve the ultimate problem. I know that the swadeshi gospel has not been understood; certainly it has not been assimilated by all the body of workers, much less by the critics. Is it your object not to support at all even the consumption of Indian mill made goods ? We have a strike here now in which five or six thousand of the workers in one of the Indian mills have come out. Would it not be possible in accordance with your own programme to provide a percentage of them with handlooms instead of insisting upon all of them going back to the mills? I am doing that; I have done that in the case of the Assam- Bengal strike. They had struck work out of sympathy for the outraged coolies from the Assam tea plantations. The Government has not repaired the mischief which they had done and ruthlessly maltreated them. If I can prevent all the men from rejoining as on the Assam-Bengal Railway and Steamer Co.’s, I shall do so and I shall advise the Congress Committee to vote as much as they can in order to give every one of the strikers, a spinning-wheel and to give groups of them handlooms, and establish for them a colony to give them every facility. When I heard of a strike of women in mills I sent similar messages. We are trying to reduce the number of women labourers. Do you solely object to the conditions under which the workers have to live or do you object to the introduction of Western machinery? If the conditions in all the Indian mills were improved to a certain extent, and they were given satisfactory housing and satisfactory wages, would your objection to mill production continue? Yes, my objection will continue because it is not based on antipathy to Western machinery. Here the question of West and East does not arise. The question of West and East is ever present in my mind but in connection with the machinery as you have put it, I am against concentrating the manufacture of cloth in the hands of a few, just as I would be against concentrating the cooking of our food in hotels. Millions of people in India used to occupy themselves usefully and honorably at least eight hours per day. Today the most tragic result of the British rule has been unintended by the British people I admit that over 20 millions of the people of India remain in enforced idleness for six months in the year. If further outbreaks cannot be prevented, will you abandon the non-cooperation movement as you formerly abandoned the civil disobedience campaign? I am sorry I cannot do so for the civil disobedience campaign was aimed at a particular Act. This non-co-operation movement is aimed at the whole system of Government and as it is aimed at the whole system of Government it is not possible for me to abandon it. I cannot possibly say so, because it is a big movement and there are tremendous risks to be taken, in order to do away with the greatest of them which is the continuance of this system. In the event of Great Britain conceding Dominion Status to India, what, in your opinion, are the essential features of such a proposed settlement? If the Dominion Status is conceded, I must state the Khilafat and the Punjab questions will have to be put out of the way. If the whole issue of the Khilafat were referred to the arbitration of the League of Nations, would you agree to abide by the decision as both England and France have agreed in relation to the Silesian question? I could not do so, because it would be camouflage. I know it depends upon Mr. Lloyd George. Mr. Lloyd George has to go as far as the nation would let him. I do not believe that Mr. Lloyd George is deliberately mischievous. He has become entangled with the reactionary element in the British Empire. If the dispute were referred to the League of Nations it would be entirely out of his hands. But he would still be able to affect the deliberations of the League. I will put it in a concrete way. Is there anything to prevent the Prime Minister from withdrawing all the forces from Mesopotamia and having nothing to do with Mesopotamia? The mandate in Mesopotamia and Palestine is with the British nation. I marvel why if they are honest they are insistent upon their remaining in Mesopotamia. Would you assent to the idea that the disputed territories should he transferred to Turkey under a mandate from the League of Nations? I do not mind at all, but there will arise general difficulties. What I say is that there should be absolutely Muslim control without the slightest control of the Great Powers, directly or indirectly, over the entire Peninsula and there should be no interference whatsoever with Turkey. If the Arabs do not want anything to do with Turks, let them fight it out amongst themselves. Would you be content if the British were to retain control at Basra but not over the remainder of Mesopotamia? It cannot be done. No, let trade proceed without political interference, or control. Failing such a settlement, do you agree with Mr. Mahomed Ali that the Congress at Ahmadabad should declare for an Independent Republic? No, for this reason, that a mere declaration of independence would not satisfy me. It would not satisfy me to declare an Independent Republic to do that we must be able to fight with the British Government not along the lines of violence, but non-violence. But we are not sufficiently organized. Lord Salisbury used to say when he was irritated by some questions, “It does not matter; somehow or other we have muddled through to success up to now, so the Hon’ble member need not worry.” We have done in the same way. I am not taking the sole credit for retaining non-violent non-cooperation. God has come to our help and assistance. If India were to receive Dominion Home Rule, would not that be regarded as settling the issues raised by the Punjab automatically? Yes, it would settle the issues automatically. Then your suggestion of a settlement is that the Government of India should be made wholly responsible to the legislature? Indian Legislature. Oh, yes; certainly. Are you anxious to take over the whole control of the Army at once, or would you make an exception of that subject? I think we are entirely ready to take up the whole control of the Army which means practically disbanding three-fourths of it. I would keep just enough to police India. If the Army were reduced to that extent, do you not apprehend anything aggressive from the frontier territories? No. My information derived from military sources, is that there are over half-million armed men on the frontier? You are right, I agree. These tribes have frequently attacked India hitherto. Why hitherto? Why do you think they will refrain from doing so when India possesses Home Rule? In the first instance the world’s views have changed and secondly the preparations that are now made in Afghanistan are really in support of the Khilafat. But when the Khilafat question is out of the way, then the Afghan people will not have any design on India. The warrior tribes who live on loot and plunder are given lakhs of rupees as subsidy. I would also give them a little subsidy. When the charkha comes into force in India, I would introduce the spinning-wheel among the Afghan tribes also and thus prevent them from attacking the Indian territories. I feel that the tribesmen are in their own way God-fearing people. Referring to the Moplahs outbreak Mr. Gandhi continued: I have not yet been able to understand the genesis of the outbreak except the provocation—very great provocation—which I believe was caused when the mosque was surrounded. I do not understand the looting of so many Hindu houses. Whilst I was in Calcutta I had what seemed definite information that there were only three cases of forced conversions. But I now understand that some other cases also have been brought to the notice of the Congress people and they are very much regretted. The Moplahs lawlessness is a thing which takes one back, but I do not think that it seriously interferes with the Hindu-Muslim unity. It shows the gigantic nature of the task which the party of nonviolent non-co-operators has set before itself and to a superficial observer it might appear that nowadays without some degree of violence or exercise of force all these turbulent things cannot be held under check. That is not what I believe and that is the reason why I put a swadeshi programme to the forefront as an indispensable condition. If we can bring it out that will itself, in my opinion, ensure such a degree of non-violence as is necessary to change the life of India. In so far as the Moplahs are concerned, instead of manufacturing piece goods they have manufactured arms? But that is a reflection really upon the British administrators that instead of getting hold of all these turbulent tribes and making them peaceful they have used them for their own base ends. It is a sad thing which the future historians will have to note against the British administration. I am coming now in touch with the Nepalese. They are a splendid people. I met a little girl and I parted with her the day before yesterday. She is spreading the knowledge of non-violence among the Nepalese, because there never has the slightest attempt been made to make them peaceful. If it is the case that the British administration has failed to keep the Moplahs non-violent, is it not the case that your movement has failed equally? I cannot say that it has failed owing to my movement. My movement started not twelve months ago and against heavy odds, Government laughing, my own people laughing. It was most difficult for me to make them understand the word “non-co-operators”. No reformer has been so hampered as I am. I know that the difficulties are all of my own making, but I had no choice. If, therefore, I say that non-violence is a matter of mere policy, they do not understand what this policy is. When dealing with the Hindu-Muslim problem, nonviolence must be our final creed. If I can succeed in doing that, then of course, we shall attain our goal quickly. The British Government intervenes if a non-co-operator goes to these Moplahs districts. He is prevented. It is our case that those places, where this violence has taken place, were those least touched by non-co-operators. Don’t you think that the whole of the Moplahs are under the control of the religious leaders and not of the political? True; that is why I have brought religion into politics. I have endeavoured and endeavoured very successfully to make these religious pundits understand that they cannot exist without the political life of the country affecting them; otherwise the largest part of theirs goes out of their control. Here is a disturbance going on. I could have taken one of the Ali Brothers and quelled it in no time if the Government system had been honestly administered. If we had failed it would have cost us our lives. We would have been killed. It would have been nice for the Government and for us; but when we died, out of our ashes the spirit of non-violence would have raised.” 6

 

References:

 

  1. The Hindu, 9-4-1921
  2. The Hindu, 12-4-1921
  3. The Hindu, 12-4-1921  
  4. The Hindu, 9-4-1921
  5. The Hindu, 3-6-1921  
  6. The Hindu, 16-9-1921

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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