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. – 09404955338, 09415777229

E-mail- dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net;

dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com

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

 

 

The Hindu and Mahatma Gandhi, Part- VII

 

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Cuddalore, “I thank you for the addresses presented this evening, and also for the Tilak Swaraj Fund purse. I thank you too for the purse presented by Muslim friends for Smyrna Relief Fund. I know that you would have been better pleased if Maulana Mahomed Ali had been present to receive the purse. But if we do not have in our midst Mahomed Ali, we have Maulana Azad, a divine in his place. And if the Muslims are so minded to learn all about the Khilafat and the Koran they have a safe guide and friend in Maulana Azad. Surely, if we are to attain swaraj this year, and to redress the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs this year, we should follow nonviolent non-co-operation without causing the slightest confusion. Love that expresses itself in confusion is blind love. And what today India requires most is enlightened love. And enlightened love translates itself not in vocal demonstrations but real, substantial actions. The honour of every Indian demands that we should not rest quiet for a single minute until Maulana Mahomed Ali and Shaukat Ali are released from prison by our own efforts. Their discharge will be a proper discharge from prison if and were it to be by the reason of our having attained swaraj. And swaraj if it means nothing else undoubtedly means discipline. I hope therefore that leaders of this place will see to it that they give practical demonstrations to the citizens in conducting meetings in discipline, so that orders are obeyed implicitly.

For, we have understood, the Congress in two successive sessions has shown us the way to attain swaraj. And that is the way of non-violence. And we shall not succeed till we practice non-violence with full knowledge. I hope therefore that the people of Cuddalore District will have preliminary lessons by propaganda and practice. There is no doubt that we are at the present moment in an excited state. On the one hand repression by the Sircar irritates us, on the other; hope of something good in future throws us off our balance. It is just the state that predisposes to violence. And any violence on the part of the non-co-operators certainly blocks the way to swaraj. And in my humble opinion the spinning-wheel is the greatest steadying force amidst us. Just think what splendid results you could have shown if you had been devoting all your time to spinning for the sake of the nation in the name of God instead of waiting for me so long a time. It is high time that we unlearn the habit of listening to speeches and an idle curiosity to have a look at the leaders. And I assure you that I would have declined to go over here on account of ceaseless travelling if it was not for the assurance given that it would lead to complete establishment of swadeshi. I see that most of the sisters present and the men of the audience have something or other of videshi cloth on their person. But let me hope that you will come to an unalterable decision to throw off the foreign cloth on your person and in your boxes. And you will see to it that a spinning-wheel finds a place in every home and manufacture your cloth instead of getting it from either Manchester and Japan or even Bombay and Ahmadabad. The third condition of success is Hindu-Muslim unity. But I am satisfied from all my observations that if the spinning-wheel finds a place in the home it will create unity. We call our movement a movement of self-purification. And I was therefore glad to understand from Dr. Rajan that the movement of temperance has made a considerable headway in this Province. I hope that you will drive away the curse of drink from your midst in its entirety. One word to my Hindu countrymen and women. Probably the curse of untouchability does not inflict any other part of India as this Presidency.

It is in this land of religious devotion and worship that this shadow defiles you. It is in this sacred land that the untouchable is treated worse than what we complain of at the hands of our rulers. Swaraj is a meaningless term if we disenfranchised permanently one sixth of the population of India. Speaking as a sanatani Hindu, as I claim to be, there is not the slightest authority for untouchability in our Shastras. And it grieves me to think of that in a land where Shankara and Ramanuja were born and preached. I repeat the declaration I have made from many a platform that unless we remove such a blot there is no swaraj for India. Believing as I do in the law of karma, it is the fittest retribution that God has given us for making one-sixth of the people as Pariahs, thereby making ourselves Pariahs of the world. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and all the great religions of the world are in the melting pot today. And believe me; if we cannot get rid of it, Hinduism will be at the bottom of the list. I hope therefore that you and especially leaders of public opinion and sisters will hear my remarks and will give due consideration to the Congress resolution regarding untouchability. I thank you for the patience you have shown in listening to me and I hope you will give a respectful hearing to the words of my friend Maulana Azad who will speak in Hindustani. . . . Later there was a bonfire and videshi clothes worth Rs. 1,000 or so were burnt amidst defining cries of Mahatma Ki jai, Vandemataram and Allah-o-Akbar. The Mahatma left the place for Porto Novo en route to Kumbakonam.” 1  

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Kumbakonam, “I thank you for all these addresses and the sentiments contained in them. I am sorry, and I know that you will share my sorrow, that Maulana Mahomed Ali and his Begum are not with us. Happily I have Maulana Azad Sobhani of Cawnpore with me. I hardly think that in this din and noise you will have the opportunity of hearing his message. There are three indispensable conditions that we have to fulfil if we desire the attainment of swaraj and the redress of the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs this year. They are, firstly, absolute unity between the Hindus and Mussulmans, each party retaining their own ties in spite of the madness of some Moplahs. The second condition is non-violence, and the third condition is swadeshi. And it has been unfortunate to find that swadeshi has made the least headway in this Presidency. You must all discard foreign cloth and take up spinning and weaving. There is a fourth condition which must be fulfilled by the Hindus, and that is the removal of the curse of untouchability. Unless we remove that blot it is utterly impossible to get swaraj. I know that of all places in India, Madras is the worst regarding untouchability. I hope, therefore, that the people of Kumbakonam will take care to set their house in order in this respect. We cannot keep a fifth part of the Hindu humanity outside the pale of society and claim to have swaraj. The conditions that I have mentioned to you are easy of fulfillment, and I pray to God that He may give you and me wisdom and courage to follow them out in their entirety.” 2

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Trichinopoly, “It gives me much pleasure to renew your acquaintance in this historic city. I thank the Municipality for its address and also the Congress Committee for its address. I know that you are all sorry that Maulana Mahomed Ali is not in our midst tonight, nor is Begum Sahiba, but you see to my right a learned Muslim divine in the person of Maulana Azad Sobhani. He has been moving amongst the Mussulmans of Trichinopoly during the day. I have no doubt that the Mussulmans of this place understand exactly what their duty is by Islam and their country. You may not all know that Maulana Shaukat Ali also was arrested in Bombay on the 17th instant, and up in the Punjab, the same honours were given to Dr. Kitchlew. I do not know the reason that actuated the Government in arresting Dr. Kitchlew, but the Bombay Government have been good enough to inform the public of the reasons why they have arrested the Ali Brothers. The first reason stated by the Bombay Government is that they have tampered with the loyalty of the Army. The Government communiqué goes on to state how they tampered with the loyalty of the Army. The Brothers were a party to a resolution at a conference in Karachi which called upon the Mussulmans to warn any Mussulman against serving in the Army and telling every Mussulman soldier that in terms of Islam it was a sin to serve in the British Army. I am sorry that I was not present at that historic conference in Karachi and had I been present there and had the conference permitted me; I should also have been one of those who would have supported that resolution. Only a Mussulman can say whether it is a sin for a Mussulman to serve in the British Army at the present moment, but as a Hindu and as an Indian, I know what my duty and what the duty of every Hindu, every Indian, should be on such an occasion. I know that it is a sin for a single Indian to serve either in the British Army, or in any of the civil departments of this Government, and if a public declaration of this character even in the presence of soldiers constituted the offence of tampering with the loyalty of the soldiers of the British Army, let me tell this meeting and through this meeting the Government of India, that I have committed the offence of tampering with the soldiers serving in the British Army, times without number. Nor is it a new offence it was an offence deliberately committed by me in the month of September last year, and it was an offence committed also by the Indian National Congress in the month of September at Calcutta and deliberately repeated at Nagpur. If neither the Congress nor I have hitherto gone to individual soldiers and individual employees in the Government departments, it is not because of want of will, but because of want of ability. In our unfortunate country in which poverty is day by day deepening and in which starvation faces lakhs upon lakhs of our countrymen and countrywomen, it has not been possible for us, up now to call upon the soldiers individually, to appeal to them and ask them for the sake of their country and for the sake of their religion to give up their employment and do their duty.

What I venture to warn the Government is that as soon as the country has received and assimilated the gospel of the spinning-wheel and swaraj and as soon as the soldiers and others are ready to take up the spinning-wheel and the handloom, I promise that if I have got still the strength left in me and the personal liberty that is vouchsafed to me by this Government, I promise that I shall undertake to go to every one of the soldiers and every one of those who are serving in the civil departments of Government to give up his employment and take up the spinning wheel; but even at this very moment, I invite every soldier who calls himself an Indian and every servant in Government employment that if he has understood the message of swadeshi, it is his bounden duty to have his employment under this Government which has emasculated this country, which has put affronts upon Islam and which has made itself responsible for the tragedy of Jallianwala Bagh. I say that it is a sin for anybody to serve this Government and if they have got a hope in swadeshi they will do well to leave their employment under this Government. The second reason given by the Government of Bombay is that these Brothers have made speeches inciting to violence. I know the Brothers, I know almost all the speeches that they have delivered and I venture from this platform to deny that charge in toto. The Brothers have ever, in private and in public, to my knowledge weaned the people from any tendency to violence, but I shall tell you the reason why the Government has laid their hands upon the two Brothers. They are brave, they are truthful and they are lovers of their religion and their country and they have acquired an influence upon Indians such as no other Indians have acquired during their lifetime over them. Theirs is a name to conjure with among the Mussulmans and they have found an abiding place in the hearts of millions of Hindus and Mussulmans.

They stand, as no Mussulmans have stood, for Hindu-Muslim unity. This Government has no room for brave people, for fearless people, for people who are truthful, who are lovers of their country and their religion and who have acquired an influence over the masses, but whilst I must analyze the mentality of this Government, and whilst I must draw your attention to the sins of this Government, I would warn you against becoming excited and going in for violence. I tender my congratulation to our countrymen throughout India that in spite of provocation of this grave type given to the country, the country has observed what I venture to call divine peace. I hope that the peace that reigns supreme in India today is due not to the fear of the British bayonet, but is due to a consciousness of our growing strength and a consciousness of our own pledge solemnly given in September and repeated in December. If in spite of the existing provocation and in spite of still further provocations that may be in store for us, if we keep to our promise and retain this peace up to the end, I assure you that this very Government will still apologize to India for the wrong done to the Khilafat, for the wrong done to the Punjab and for the wrong done to the Ali Brothers. Let us understand what this Government stands for. It has chiefly sustained itself for all these long years by a system of terrorism as its final refuge. We have for the last 12 months repeatedly challenged the Government to do its worst. If we deliberately and consciously run into fire, we must not blame the fire for scorching us. We have known by previous experience what this Government is capable of doing under certain given circumstances.

We have lighted the fire of Government’s ire, let us not now in a cowardly manner run away from it and, if we stand the rigorous test to which we are subjected today, I promise that inside of three months you will establish swaraj in India, and you will call yours a free country. Let non-violence be a weapon not of the weak, but of the strong even as it was with the two Brothers. When the Government understands that no amount of provocation will goad us into madness, but that we have proposed henceforth to remain sane, you will find that there will be nothing that this Government can do to oust us from the position that we ought to occupy. I ask the Mussulmans as also the Hindus, if they have understood the spirit of the working of the Brothers, if they have understood the spirit of the message of non-cooperation and if they are lovers of their religion and their country, I ask both Mussulmans and Hindus, not to be irritated but remain calm and firm in their determination to vindicate the honour of their religion and their country. There is only one thing and one thing only that has got to be done by every woman and every man in India and that is to discard all the foreign clothes and all the foreign fineries which have hitherto been a sign of our bondage. It is not enough that you away a few rags from your houses and from your boxes but it is necessary for the women of Trichinopoly to part with their finest saris which they have hugged to themselves hitherto which are made from foreign yarn. That will give me the measure of your affection for your religion for your country and for the Ali Brothers and let the men of Trichinopoly, whether they are Hindus or Mussulmans, permit themselves to be measured by the same standard and let them not be found wanting tomorrow morning. You may not have the splendid organizing talent and the inexhaustible energy of Maulana Shaukat Ali. You may not have the eloquence of a Mahomed Ali, but every Hindu and every Mussulman can easily imitate their faculty for renouncing every happiness on earth for the sake of their religion and their country. You can discard even as they have done every foreign garment about you. You can wear as heavy khaddar as these two big Brothers have been wearing for the last six months.

That will be the true measure of your affection for them. That will be a tangible demonstration of your recognition of true non-violence and recognition of Hindu-Muslim unity for we are united immediately we show that we have a common purpose. The students in Kumbakonam and the students in Madras also asked me what their duty was at a critical period of our history. Their clearest duty was placed before them in September and December and that was to leave every school which was either managed by the Government or aided by it and I congratulate those students of Trichinopoly who had the courage of their conviction and who could see the necessity for abandoning Government schools. I congratulate them on having done splendid work during these months and I render my sympathy to those students who for some reason or other could not see their way to leave their old schools, but they can still serve their country if they will. They can religiously set apart a definite hour or two, as the case may be, for spinning on behalf of India. They can adopt khaddar like everybody else. On the altar of swadeshi we can invite co-operators and non-co-operators, those who are serving the Government and those who are not serving the Government; we invite all who care to call themselves Indians. Just as it is our primary duty to eat the food that is grown in India and cooked in India, so is it our primary duty to clothe ourselves with cloth that has been spun and woven in India; and, just as we realize instinctively that the true law of economics requires that we should cook our own food in our own homes, so the law of economics instinctively demands from us that we spin and weave our cloth in our own homes.

Like the students, lawyers also have enquired of me in Bengal, in Madras and also in Kumbakonam and it is not for us to point the finger of scorn at them, if they have not seen their way to suspend practice, but I venture to invite them to follow the gospel of swadeshi and in every way possible to help the swadeshi movement, at least they are expected to have the courage of wearing khaddar in the law-courts. If they have faith in swaraj, I certainly expect them and their household to set apart an hour or two every day for winning religiously. If today people of different types and qualities have found themselves on public platforms, I hope that the lawyers will be patient enough and realize the dignity of labour and realize the dignity of service among the rank and file. Courage, endurance and above all, fearlessness and spirit of willing sacrifices are the qualities that are required today in India for leadership. I have not a shadow of doubt in my mind that an illiterate Panchama brother who can exhibit these qualities in their fullness is more able than a frail person like me to lead a movement of this character, for what we are pining for is not a complicated thing, but a very simple thing called swaraj, our birthright. I have no doubt in my mind that simple god-fearing women can lead a movement of this character if they have the qualities that I have mentioned and I invite the women of Trichinopoly to play their part and give their full share on the altar of sacrifice. Seeing that our battle is non-violent, I warn everyone in this audience against the spirit of intolerance seizing hold of us. Students who have left schools or colleges or lawyers who have suspended practice may not adopt an air of superiority and look down upon those students and lawyers who have not conformed to the Congress resolution. There is room enough on the swaraj platform for the weakest and the strongest of Indians. The army of non-violence can take in children and even disabled men if they have got a true heart. One thing more in connection with the Moplahs revolt and I shall have done. I know that what has happened in Malabar has been preying upon all of us who have understood anything about the situation there. My heart bleeds to think that our Moplahs brethren have gone mad. I am grieved to find that they have killed officers. I am grieved to think that they have looted Hindu houses leaving many hundreds of men and women homeless and foodless. I am grieved to think that they have endeavoured forcibly to convert Hindus to Islam and by all these acts they have done an injury.

But all the same let us have a due sense of proportion. Their acts are not the acts of all the Muslims of India even, or, thank God, of all the Moplahs. Every Mussulman of note that I know has repudiated every one of their acts. Let our loyalty to Hindu-Muslim unity therefore remain firm and changeless. Our loyalty to that creed may still have to suffer greater shocks, but so long as we are satisfied, that there is nothing in Islam to warrant any of the things that these misguided Moplahs have done, and so long as we are satisfied as I am satisfied that no sensible Mussulman approves of these acts, or any single one of them, our loyalty to the creed of Hindu-Muslim unity need not suffer any shock whatsoever. Let us not also for one moment imagine that had it not been for the British bayonet, peace could never have been restored in Malabar. The entire world over, wherever there are men and women they fight sometimes, they sometimes break their heads and run amok, but there has never been any difficulty about settling their own quarrels. Where were the Government and its police when the first Moplahs ran amok? What is the use of a Government that knows only how to exact reprisals, but does not know how to protect life in its initial stages? Of what use is a Government whose police are never expected to run the slightest risk and which takes a thousand lives against one life. Of what use is a Government which, having known the temperament of the Moplahs for years and years, failed to bring the lesson of peace to them. Lastly, what is the use of a Government that left those Hindus absolutely unarmed for self-defence? With the Moplahs of Malabar, I know that non-violence is not their final creed as it is mine. The Government of Bombay has thrown dust into our eyes by connecting the Moplahs outbreak with the arrest of Ali Brothers. Even before non-co-operation was born in India, such outbreaks have occurred all over and the Government was powerless to protect life and property in the initial stages, as it was unable hopelessly to protect life and property in Shahabad three years ago. Where was its power of protection when nearly, if I am right, for a week or at least three or four days, the whole villages were given up to pillage and plunder by infuriated Hindus against Mussulmans. Therefore I hope that this big meeting will draw the only lesson that is possible from the Moplahs outbreak, not to swerve an inch from our settled programme, but to go forward with redoubled effort and finish it during this very year so that we can establish swaraj. I understand that in connection with a kind of riot in connection with a theatre Manager nearly 40 persons have been arrested. I must confess that I like the idea of that arrest. Every Congressman, certainly every Congress leader must hold himself responsible for the observance of peace in his own village and district and whether we have been in a particular affray or not, let the Government hold us as hostages, in connection with every such affray anywhere for there is no doubt about it that we must hold ourselves responsible for awakening India to life.

We must hold ourselves responsible for also making the people feel their own strength, and the duty therefore undoubtedly devolves upon every one of us to see to it that people continue to remain in a disciplined state. . . We may disclaim legal liability but we may not escape moral liability for any outbreak of violence in any part. . . Let us have no noisy demonstrations, no shouts, no pressure to be put upon a single man who is a co-operator as behoves peaceful men. When we attend meetings let us make no noisy demonstrations; but, let us silently work away at the spinning-wheel and complete the boycott of foreign cloth, if possible, even during this very month. Let us occupy every spare moment at our disposal in manufacturing yarn and weaving cloth. I know no other way of winning swaraj and winning also the release of the Ali Brothers and all those who may be imprisoned who are innocent men. I thank you for the exemplary patience with which you have listened to me; I hope that you will listen to Maulana Azad Sobhani with the same amount of patience.” 3

Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Congress Committee, “I am sorry that the programme already drawn up does not permit my paying Karur a visit. I know how well you have worked for temperance reform. But I was sorry to hear of the pressure put upon a theatre manager for contributions to the Tilak Swaraj Fund or a temple. If we are to attain swaraj during this year we must be able to control all the unruly elements amongst us and prevent violence from whatever because arising. . Understand that over forty citizens have been arrested who had no hand whatsoever in the investment of the theatre. Nevertheless I congratulate those who are arrested. The arrest, I regard as a compliment paid to us. It shows that the Government expects us to keep the peace even by those who are unconnected with the movement. I hope that as true non-co-operators they will go to prison. I hope, too, that in spite of what the Government may do non-violence will be strictly observed and finally I hope that the wives and other relations of those who have been arrested will keep firm and allow the latter to go to jail without offering any defence whatsoever.” 4

“The Mahatma in the course of his short reply said that the money realized from the sale of the silver plate presented to him would go to the Tilak Swaraj Fund, for he had absolutely no boxes to keep such gifts. He drew the attention of the Municipality and in fact of every municipality which deserved its existence to three things; if they wished to take part in the great movement of national regeneration, they should see that no citizen of Srirangam should be without khaddar and no citizen had foreign cloth in his house. Secondly, they should see the drink evil was entirely obliterated in their midst. Thirdly, there should be no blot of untouchability; there was no sanction in the Hindu religion for this blot which was eating into the very vitals of India and he was sure when they got out of this curse, they were entitled to swaraj. When 22 crores of Hindus were steeped in this satanic superstition, it was impossible for Mussulmans to make progress independent of Hindus. He therefore urged upon the people of Srirangam who had such magnificent temples which should constantly remind them of their duty to banish the idea of untouchability.” 5

 Mahatma Gandhi spoke at public meeting, “I thank you sincerely for the beautiful address; I call it beautiful because it is printed on leaves. The beauty of it is, let me tell you, somewhat marred in that you have written your address or printed it not in your own language, or the national language, Hindustani, but in a language which has really no place in our national intercourse. English is a language of diplomacy and of international commerce. I know you will not misunderstand me because I may request use of the English language as one of the greatest of world languages. I think that there is a great deal in the English literature which we could learn with profit. But even as dirt is described as matter “misplaced” so also is our use of English in the wrong place as here obnoxious. Each time I have to use English in order to transmit my thoughts to my countrymen and each time I hear English in our mutual intercourse, I feel deeply the sting of ever-growing humiliation. And so, as you know, I have collected from our Marwari friends Rs. 50,000 for Hindi propaganda in your Presidency. I do hope, therefore, that instead of making a vain effort to attain eloquence in the English language we shall strive earnestly to become eloquent in our own vernaculars and in the national language. In these days of unbelief it is a rare thing for one to hear the beautiful music of the Sanskrit language. I tell you, although the verses were unfortunately in my own praise, I did not mind enjoying the Sanskrit verses so beautifully pronounced by the blind poet under that leaf cottage. If we really love our country we must cultivate a taste for all that is good, for all that is noble in our country. It, therefore, grieves me when I see our women coming out of our homes bedecked in foreign garments coloured in kinds of fantastic manner. You with your bare clean bodies and with your Tilak on the forehead are beautiful to look at. But I despair of our country why I see even you hugging foreign cloth. You, who seem to be leading a state of happy and prosperous life in this little happy island, little realize what the introduction of the videshi clothes has meant to India. It has meant literal ruin and starvation to millions of Indian homes.

Bad as is our military drain and the drain in the shape of pensions given to men who have not made India their home, bad as is the drain in the shape of home charges, nothing had so emasculated the nation as its enforced idleness by the deprivation of cloth manufacture. This disappearance of the second large source of revenue to India had driven thousands of women to a life of shame and degradation. It has unfitted us to resist the ravages of famine and disease. And so we have in India the unparalleled phenomenon of many millions of men who are undergoing semi-starvation but who are as cultured as any on the face of the earth living in almost perpetual bondage under one lakh of Englishmen. If your outward sympathy is an expression of the inner, and if you miss the presence of the Ali Brothers as I do, you will have no hesitation about discarding your garments made of foreign yarn and even the most learned among you talking to the spinning-wheel as a sacrament. Further, if the outer symbols of your Hinduism are an earnest of your inner purity, you will get rid of the curse of untouchability. As a sanatani Hindu I venture to assert that there is no warrant for untouchability in Hinduism. I am surprised that it has assumed a virulent form in this land of Shankara and Ramanuja. I assure you, you have misread the teachings of these great men if you consider that they would have regarded the very shadow of a Panchama brother to be pollution. I hope, therefore, that you will exorcize the demon of untouchability from your midst and embrace the Panchama as a blood brother. That ours is a movement of self purification is apparent from the fact that the drink evil is disappearing from us. I congratulate you on your share in the campaign. I hope that you will put forth greater effort in all directions and give your full quota to swadeshi, temperance, and untouchability.” 6

“Mr. Gandhi has replied to another set of questions put to him by Mr. J. M. Mackenzie, editor of the Indian Daily Telegraph. QUESTION I : Do you think that the South African republic deserves kicking for withholding the one demand which India went to the Imperial Conference to seek and can you not pay a fresh visit to the land of your early triumphs in order that the whole of India may rest satisfied ? ANSWER: The question in India is really an enlarged edition of the South African. If I succeed here, the other is automatically solved. 2: As you have not yet gained self-mastery, can you realize and mark the dismal state of the rest of us tossed about by climate which is so thoroughly debauching? Being imperfect I do realize the imperfections of my fellow beings and hence my belief in non-violence. 3: Do you fear that the awesome fate of Russian people may overtake your beloved country, if you compel it to part with everything but it’s distressing nakedness? I do not know the fate of Russia, but I do know Indian. This enforced nakedness is being turned into voluntary. I am practicing my theory and therefore cannot go wrong in my calculations. 4: Seeing that both Obstinate and Pliable fall into the slough of despond, don’t you think that there is something to be said for the methods of Mr. Ready-to-halt or even Mr. Facing-both-ways or are you determined to carry your bundle to the gate of the City Beautiful? You have given me the choice of two evils. I prefer Obstinate and Pliable to Ready-to-halt and Facing-both-ways, but I hope I belong to neither class. I own I have as my company all those lonely gentlemen of whom you have written. You will find in the end that I was a light-weight champion. I put away all my bundles at the commencement of the journey. 5: As you have collected so much money, do you not feel that country-side would appreciate a donation from you towards Queen Victoria in honour of the sovereign whose love for India must have inspired you with worthy feelings at the start of your career? Can I persuade you to believe that I am engaged in erecting much more desirable memorial to the late Queen than the one you contemplate? 6: In view of the existing conditions, what is your solution for South African trouble? My solution for South African trouble is to give India what she wants. First cast out the beam and the mote will take care of itself.” 7

 Mahatma Gandhi gave reply to Municipal Address, “I thank you sincerely for the address that you have given me and the sentiments contained therein. I can only expect your address as a manifestation of your desire to associate yourselves fully with the spirit of self-sacrifice that is spreading throughout the length and breadth of India. As I said elsewhere, I venture to point out to you here also three things which you can tackle usefully and without the slightest injury to our political status and that are temperance, swadeshi and untouchability. You are the custodians of the health and the interests of the citizens of Dindigul and your Panchama brethren whom you represent in the Municipal Council and therefore you should get rid of untouchability which is one of the ways to obtain swaraj for India. Similarly it is open to you to organize boycott of foreign clothes and the manufacture of swadeshi clothes in a manner in which any authority can do satisfactorily because you control the citizens of Dindigul and also in the teetotal campaign. I can only hope that by personal example and by passing resolutions in your Council and resetting the whole machinery, you will achieve these three objects. I thank you once more for the address.” 8

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Public Meeting, “The citizens of Dindigul presented Mahatmaji with purse in aid of the Smyrna and the Tilak Swaraj Fund. Mahatma Gandhi then made the following speech which was translated into Tamil by Dr. T. S. S. Rajan: When I saw your representatives in Trichinopoly insisting upon Maulana Saheb and myself coming to this town, I thought you would show me some extraordinary results of non-co-operation. I had expected you all to be dressed in khaddar homespun and home woven. I had expected to find every house in Dindigul with a spinning-wheel. But I find only much noise and enthusiasm here.... If we want swaraj or the release of Ali Brothers and their comrades, our enthusiasm should be developed in the proper channel. You have only three hundred spinning-wheels in Dindigul; you have a population of thirty thousand of whom ten thousand are Mohammedans and twenty thousand are Hindus. Counting five to a family on an average, you should have at least 6,000 families here with 6,000 spinning-wheels running from day to day. There is no swaraj without swadeshi. Swadeshi means not only the production of our country’s needs, but also getting redress for the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs in a non-violent way. I understand that you are divided into petty factions. There is certainly no swaraj if everyone wanted to mind his own business nor if Hindus wanted to observe their superiority or segregate the Panchamas.

Throughout my travel in this Presidency nothing had oppressed me so much as the untouchability. I claim to be a sanatani Hindu with a due sense of my responsibility to my religion. I venture to say that there is no warrant in Hindu Shastras for untouchability. Unless, therefore, we are prepared to give up treating human beings as less than dogs, we have no right to swaraj. I have given you all the conditions necessary for the attainment of swaraj and redress for the Punjab and Khilafat grievances. If the Muslims love their Khilafat as much as their lives, if the Muslims and their Hindu brethren love Ali Brothers and if the Hindus and the Muslims want swaraj they should all take to spinning and weaving. Let Hindus and Muslims treat one another as their blood-brothers and whilst each remains firm in his faith, each must sacrifice for the other, that we should all be non-violent in spite of the gravest provocation that we might receive, that Hindus should put an end to untouchability and embrace their Panchama brethren. I don’t want you to eat and drink with them or have inter-marriages. But your Hinduism demands you to give an equal right to all human beings. I want you to give the Panchama the same right which any human being has a right to ask of you and which you claim from all the rest. These conditions being fulfilled, I have not a shadow of doubt that we will have swaraj within this year. May God help us in our attempts?” 9

Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Madura, “I thank you for these addresses this evening. We cannot attain swaraj by presentation of ten thousand addresses even. It makes me very sad to hear all this noise and I do not propose to tax you with words which would tackle your patience. You say in your addresses that this is a dharma war. Demonstrations and noise of this kind are against swaraj. I am sorry I came to Madura to see all this babble. I hope your leaders will tell you what your duty is for the attainment of swaraj. If you want dharma raj in India you must work your spinning-wheel which is a sign of peace and Hindu-Muslim united. You should remove untouchability because the religion does not allow it. You should see that drinking is completely stopped. I hope your leaders would advise on all these points.” 10

Mahatma Gandhi gave message on Lion-Cloth, “Only a few days are left for us to complete the boycott of foreign cloth enjoined by the All-India Congress Committee. It is not yet too late if every Congress worker will devote his and her exclusive attention to the boycott. If everyone realizes that without swadeshi, i.e., boycott of foreign cloth and manufacture of all the required cloth by hand-spinning and hand-weaving, there is no swaraj, and without swaraj there is no settlement of the Khilafat and the Punjab problems, there should be no difficulty in bringing about the desired boycott and the required manufacture. I know that many will find it difficult to replace their foreign cloth all at once. Millions are too poor to buy enough khaddar to replace the discarded cloth. To them I repeat my advice given on the Madras Beach. Let them be satisfied with a mere loin-cloth. In our climate we hardly need more to protect our bodies during the warm months of the year. Let there be no prudery about dress. India has never insisted on full covering of the body for the males as a test of culture. I give the advice under a full sense of my responsibility. In order therefore to set the example I propose to discard at least up to the 31st of October my topi and vest and to content myself with only a loin-cloth and a chaddar whenever found necessary for the protection of the body. I adopt the change because I have always hesitated to advise anything I may not myself be prepared to follow, also because am anxious by leading the way to make it easy for those who cannot afford to change on discarding their foreign garments. I consider the renunciation to be also necessary for me as a sign of mourning and a bare head and a bare body is such a sign in my part of the country. That we are in mourning is more and more being borne home to me as the end of the year is approaching and we are still without swaraj. I wish to state clearly that I do not expect co-workers to renounce the use of vest and topi unless they find it necessary to do so for their own work. I am positive that every province and every district can, if there are enough workers, manufacture sufficient for its needs in one month. And to that end for one month I advise complete suspension of every other activity but swadeshi. I would even withdraw pickets from liquor shops trusting the drinker to recognize the new spirit of purification. I would advise every non-co-operator to treat imprisonments as his ordinary lot in life and not think anything about them. If only we can go through the course of organizing manufacture and collecting foreign cloth during the month of October abstaining from all meetings and excitement, we shall produce an atmosphere calm and peaceful enough to embark upon civil disobedience, if it is then found necessary. But I have a settled conviction that if we exhibit the strength of character, the faculty of reorganizing and the power of exemplary self control all of which is necessary for full swadeshi, we shall attain swaraj without more.” 11  

 

References:

 

  1. The Hindu, 19-9-1921
  2. The Hindu, 19-9-1921
  3. The Hindu, 22-9-1921
  4. The Hindu, 26-9-1921
  5. The Hindu, 22-9-1921
  6. The Hindu, 22-9-1921
  7. The Hindu, 22-9-1921
  8. The Hindu, 26-9-1921
  9. The Hindu, 26-9-1921
  10. The Hindu, 26-9-1921  
  11. The Hindu, 23-9-1921  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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