the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action
Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Senior Gandhian Scholar
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229
Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India
The Hindu and Mahatma Gandhi, Part- VIII
Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Thiruppathur, “The citizens of Thiruppathur presented Mahatmaji with an address in Tamil and a purse. Mahatma Gandhi in the course of his reply said that in India twenty-two crores of people had no work for six months in the year and that if every house would have a spinning-wheel which could be worked for a few hours during leisure time by every member of the family, surely, then they would be able to supply the whole of India with swadeshi clothes adequately. Cotton grew more than what they required for the adequate clothing of thirty-two crores of people. Till that time when all Indians were able to get adequate supply of hand-woven and hand-spun clothes, they (the Indians) should be ready even to wear a langoti and go out. They should take pride in wearing hand-made clothes however coarse they might be. Mahatmaji then explained why he had changed his dress and said that he would wear only a little piece of cloth until that time when Indians rich and poor alike would be able to get adequate supply of clothes. Mahatmaji then said that he was immensely pleased to see in the address that the citizens of Thirupathur had almost stopped drinking and wished that drinking should be completely stopped not only in that place but also in other places around Thiruppathur. He then exhorted them to accord an equal treatment to the Panchamas.” 1
Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Kanadukathan, “I thank you for the addresses and purses that have been presented to me now. But we cannot get swaraj by merely the presentation of purses and addresses. If you want swaraj and redress the Punjab and Khilafat grievances and the release of the Ali Brothers, you should take the swadeshi vow and discard all foreign clothes. Both men and women should do so. You should introduce spinning and weaving in every home. You should not take pride in your money, and those who are too poor should be satisfied with a mere langoti and no matter what the Government might do in giving us provocation, we should all be very patient and non-violent. We must have perfect Hindu-Muslim unity. Hindus should cease untouchability. There is no warrant for untouchability in the Hindu Shastras. I am saying this as a sanatani Hindu who has lived for over forty years as a true Hindu. We must not drink or gamble. We should control our animal passions. If we do this, surely then we could have swaraj and redress to the Punjab and Khilafat wrongs and the release of the Ali Brothers.” 2 Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Kottayur, “I thank you for your address and purse. I shall thank you still more when you have discarded your foreign clothes. If you are not able to get enough khaddar cloth you should go about with a mere langoti. Sisters, there were many like you in jail in South Africa with me. I don’t want you to go to jail now. But I want you to spin yarn and discard all foreign cloth. You can colour it as you like. Unless we have swadeshi, unless we give up-drinking, unless there is perfect peace in the country, unless you are able to control your animal passions and unless there is absolute unity between the Hindus and Muslims there are no swaraj.” 3
Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Devaclthah, “I thank you for the addresses and purses presented to me just now. As I don’t accept any costly gifts, your silver and gold plates will go to the Tilak Swaraj Fund. Whilst I understand and appreciate your love and affection underlying all this, I must confess to you that they bring very little consolation. This beautiful hand-spun yarn and the fact that you have forty spinning-wheels running here from day to day give me some consolation. But 40 spinning-wheels in a big place as this are like a drop of milk in an ocean. Just as there is a horse in every house here, so there should be a spinning-wheel in every house. And as prayaschittam for our past sins, I expect every man and woman to spin for at least some time every day during leisure hours. I cannot be satisfied so long as I see that your dhotis are made of yarn from foreign countries. I promise you that if you wore the coarsest cloth as I wear you will be able to carry on your banking business well not only in India but also in Rangoon and other places. But if you wear fine garments for pleasure’s sake and if you decline to wear garments hand-spun and hand-woven by our sisters, then there will be no swaraj for India. Your purses and addresses are good if your intention is to carry out swadeshi. But they are perfectly useless unless your purses and addresses are given as an absolute and final step towards attainment of swaraj and redress for the Punjab and the Khilafat wrongs and the release of Ali Brothers. So, I hope that from tomorrow you will boycott all foreign clothes and use only hand-spun and hand-woven clothes. I hope also that there is no drink in your village. If there is, I hope you will drive away that curse. In Hinduism there is no such thing as untouchability and we are bound to treat our Panchama brothers as our own brothers. I see men here, as in Andhra, are fond of wearing diamond rings and ear-rings. I wish I could persuade you to return to your original simplicity and return all that to the Tilak Swaraj Fund—or to any other Fund you like. I thank you once more for your kindness in presenting to me these addresses and purses and conclude with the hope that you will all follow the programme of swadeshi.” 4
Mahatma Gandhi gave interview, “The following is an account of the interview between Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. T. K. Madhavan, Editor, Desh abhimani, Quilon and a leader of the Ezhava or Tiyya community of Travancore at Tinnevelly. T. K. MADHAVAN: Thank you Mahatmaji for having given me this opportunity of paying my respects to you. My community has been much benefited morally much more than materially by your charkha movement. Weaving and toddy-drawing are the two hereditary professions of my community. We supply the greatest part of labour in Malabar. Before you took up swadeshi and the boycott of foreign clothes other communities used to mock at us . . . The enthusiasm you have created for Indian-made clothes is partly responsible for the removal of social stigma attached to weaving. We are trying to push up weaving . . . MAHATMAJI: Very glad you push up hand-weaving. Total prohibition forms one of the chief items of our programme. Our Guru, His Holiness Brahmasri Narayana Guru Swami issued in August last year a birthday message advising us to cease all connection with liquor. We are trying our best to see that tapping is stopped. We are also instructing our people not to bid in the ensuing auction sale of shops by excise authorities. The Government of Travancore seems to be not a little agitated over our movement for stopping toddy drawing. It gives me very great pleasure to know that your Guru is advising people to follow temperance. I hope you will vigorously carry out his massage. We thank you that you have put removal of untouchability in the very forefront of your programme. So long as one-seventh of the population of India is branded as untouchables. You are quite right in holding that India cannot have complete swaraj. Yes, I do hold that India cannot have complete swaraj so long as untouchability is not blotted out from India. Hence it is that I have put it down as the very first item in my programme. We Ezhavas in Travancore are trying to remove the stigma of untouchability by getting all public temples thrown open to all classes of Hindus. We take it as a matter of reforming Hinduism. The removal of untouchability is an abstract idea. Temple-entry is a concrete representation of the abstract idea. Removal of untouchability assumes a concrete shape when you demand temple-entry. On strategically grounds, I would ask you to drop temple-entry now and begin with public wells. Then you may go to public schools. You seem to mistake our position in society for something analogous to that of Panchamas in British India. Except half a dozen schools including the one in Trivandrum situated just on the southern side of His Highness the Maharaja’s Palace, all public schools in this state are open to us. You are ripe for temple-entry then.
A committee of officials and non-officials appointed last year by the Travancore Government has recently reported that a good number of temples in Travancore are maintained out of public funds and that it is the duty of the Government to continue to so maintain them. Well, it is a matter of civil right even here. I was a member of the last session of Srimulam Popular Assembly.... Travancore High Court convicted some members of our community for entering and offering worship in a temple on the ground that our presence in the temple was “defiling” under Section 294 of T.P.C. We have protested against that in the Popular Assembly and requested the Government to publish Proclamation abolishing untouchability as was done by the enlightened and patriotic Government of Japan. Nair Samajams have passed resolutions against untouchability. This is the position of our agitation for temple-entry under the circumstances. What will Mahatmaji advice us? I would certainly advise you to offer civil disobedience. You must enter temples and court imprisonment if law interferes. It is wrong to prevent you from entering temples on grounds of religion. You must keep strict non-violence. You must not go and enter temples in masses. Go only singly. You must act with perfect self-restraint. What is the attitude of the Congress in the matter? The gist of Mr. Sankara Menon’s presidential speech was to the effect that he was not sure if the Congress Committee could take up the question without consulting the Congress authorities. . . If Mr. Sankara Menon said that Congress Committee could not take the temple-entry question, he is wrong. A listener pointing to a gentleman who was seated also close by said, “This gentleman here is a Nadar.” T. K. M. : Our position in Malabar society is on all fours with the position of Nadars in Tamil society. LISTENER: Our Congress Committee has the same difficulty in our district. The majority of the people here object to Nadars being admitted into temples. You are not to care what the bulk of the people think of it. Because the majority is against you, are you going to fly away from your principles? T. K. M.: Will you please address the Congress Committee in Travancore on the subject? Oh yes, gladly I will do that. To whom shall I write? l think you had better write to Mr. C. Sankara Menon, B.A., B.L. Yes. Are you for caste, Mahatmaji? Yes, I am for caste. Are you for caste, Mahatmaji, in regard to inter-dining and inter-marriage? I am against both on hygienic and spiritual grounds. Eating is as dirty a business as evacuating; the only difference is evacuation is a matter of relief. You mix the rice you have to eat with curry. Would you treat it as a clean thing after a few minutes? Would you like to touch it even? It is not good to touch it on hygienic grounds. I will not inter-dine with another and I will not inter-dine even with my son. If one man says he will not inter-dine with another owing to repugnance, I oppose that. You must get rid of that repugnance. What is your position in regard to inter-marriage? I oppose that on spiritual grounds. Suppose you have to choose your wife from among the million women. You exercise your passion in respect of such a good number. If the extent of your choice is less, you restrict the exercise of your passion to that limited extent. You are benefited spiritually by curtailing the extent of your choice of women. It is better that you restrict your choice exclusively to your caste. Suppose that a man of one caste falls in love with a woman of another caste and that woman reciprocates his love. Will you stand in the way of their marriage? I will not stand between them and their marriage on grounds of non-violence. Suppose my son wants to marry my daughter. I will not stand in the way of their marriage. But one thing I will do. I will not allow them room under my roof. The time being up, Mr. Madhavan requested Mahatmaji to give an authoritative statement of his opinion on temple-entry question. Immediately Mahatmaji wrote his opinion on a foolscap paper and handed it over to Mr. Madhavan. On reading that, Mr. Madhavan said: “Nothing is mentioned in this on the part the Congress party should take in the agitation.” Then Mahatmaji added the following sentence to what was already written: Asked whether the Local Congress Committee should help in the matter, of the rights of Ezhavas and others, Mr. Gandhi emphatically said that it was their duty to do so. On reading this Mr. Madhavan asked: “Does it clearly state that the Local Congress Committee should take temple-entry is an item of their practical programme?” Yes, it is clear on that point. The word “should” is there. Mr. Madhavan wished good bye and left his presence.” 5
Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Tinnevelly, “I thank you for the address and the purse for the Tilak Swaraj Fund. But more than for the address and the purse I wish to thank you for the absence of any noisy demonstrations. I must confess to you that although these noisy demonstrations are a symbol of your affection and although behind them no mischief is meant they shake my nerves. And what with the repetition of these demonstrations and with the delicate condition of my body I have become totally unfit for these noisy demonstrations. If I had felt that these noises advance the cause of swaraj and the redress of the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs in the least little bit I would not have minded them. But I know that for the great work that lies in front of us during the coming three months these noises are not only unnecessary but are harmful to the cause that is dear to you and me. If we are to gain swaraj, if we are to redress the Khilafat and Punjab wrongs this year and if we are to receive the Ali Brothers and their associates, all our work must be silent, effective and determined. I therefore tender you my hearty congratulations and also to those leaders who have organized this great assembly upon complete absence of noise. And if all over India meetings of this character could be organized silently and expeditiously as this meeting has been I see everything that is hopeful in front of us. This deliberate, self-imposed and intelligent silence of ours is quite in keeping with our creed of non-violence. It is a matter of the keenest joy and the greatest satisfaction and for the deriving of the greatest hope that in spite of the arrest of the Ali Brothers India has remained calm and unperturbed. Any hartal in any part of India or even a universal hartal in any part of India or even a universal hartal throughout the length and breadth of India would have been a clumsy demonstration and in my opinions, be nothing when compared with what the Brothers deserve. If we are worthy of their bravery, courage, faith, energy, love of religion and country what we need do is to follow them. We must adopt simplicity and khaddar even as these Brothers, who only a short time ago was indulging in pardonable luxuries; they have to wear heavy khaddar on account of their large build. We must realize as they have realized that swaraj and the redress of the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs lie through our acceptance of the spinning-wheel in our homes and complete boycott of all foreign cloth and wearing only what we can manufacture in our own homes. I was therefore grieved to see a friend and fellow worker of the Satyagraha days coming to me and presenting me a rich garland of flowers, dressed in foreign cloth. I asked him why he was not dressed in khaddar and why he put on foreign garments all over his body. His sorry reply was that there was not sufficient khaddar. And it was in order to answer objectors of this character you see me having reduced my garments to a single loin-cloth and Maulana Azad Sobhani having reduced him to the minimum of garments required by Islam. Will you tell me now that you cannot get sufficient khaddar in your district even to provide yourself with a single loin-cloth? Yours is one of the richest cotton-growing districts of India. And for people of this district to say that they have not enough khaddar cloth to go round is like people who produce rich and sufficient wheat telling that they have not sufficient food. Hundred and fifty years ago practically every woman of India knew how to spin fine yarn and millions of Indians knew how to weave that beautiful yarn into cloth. And knowing as I do both cooking and weaving I can say that the art of weaving is easier than the art of cooking.
If you want to get rid of the grinding slavery of centuries, if you want to help the Mussulmans to redress the Khilafat wrongs, if the Mussulmans here feel, as I have no doubt that they do, for the Khilafat, is it too much to think that you should insist on reducing your wants to a minimum and wear the simplest cloth. What we are about is not a matter of play but a matter of seriousness. The Nagpur Congress attended by 14,000 delegates from all parts of India was not joking with the country when it announced its determination to attain swaraj within this year and when it made a concrete programme insisting on swadeshi as an integral part of it. Hakim Ajmal Khan, in his old age, Dr. Ansari, Maulana Abdul Bari and many other distinguished Mussulman countrymen of ours and Pandit Motilal Nehru, in his old age, having been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and C. R. Das enjoying a practice that was second to none in all India, were not joking when they adopted khaddar. Their wives are not joking when they also have adopted heavy khaddar just as heavy as you see me, Maulana Saheb and Dr. Rajan are wearing and spinning from day to day as a sacrament. I would like every one present in this audience, men and women to consider it a point of honour to attain swaraj in this year and to believe like these distinguished countrymen of ours that swaraj is to be attained through the spinning-wheel. And if you mean business you will see to it that all the carpenters of this district are busy in making spinning- wheels and handlooms; you will see that all the weavers give up weaving foreign or even Indian mill-made yarn; you will also see to it that every home in this district has a spinning-wheel working for a definite number of hours every day. I believe in the capacity of the spinning- wheel to do all these things because it is a symbol of non-violence and Hindu-Muslim unity; because I know that unless we are non-violent and believe in the efficacy of non-violence to cure all our ills we shall not be able to make the spinning-wheel a success. Just as I have mentioned to you the most potential thing we have to do, I am aware that there are some problems that stare the Hindus in the face and which require solution if we are to attain swaraj this year. You have your Brahmin and non-Brahmin question, the Nadar question and the question of the Panchamas. In my opinion all these questions resolve themselves into one, viz, untouchability. Claiming to be a sanatani Hindu as I do, I dare tell the whole of this audience that there is no provision for untouchability in the whole of our Shastras. I consider it, as a Hindu, to be sinful to consider that the touch of a human being can pollute me. I feel humiliated when anybody informs me that in your temples which you call the houses of God you deny admission to Nadars. The solution of the Brahmin and non-Brahmin problem seems to me to be incredibly simple. If my reading of the Shastras is correct, then in my opinion a Brahmin claims no privileges and sums up his life in four letters viz, “duty”. It is his proud privilege to give all the posts of honour and emoluments to those who choose to take them. He remains supremely confident in the fact that his serving humanity with his knowledge entitles him to an honourable place in life. I have no doubt that if we are to win swaraj either this year or in hundred years to come we cannot get it unless the Hindus are united and are able to purge themselves of all dirt, error, superstition and sin. I would consider myself to be an unworthy partner of my Muslim companion if I could not compete with him in all that is best in Islam. So you will see that the whole problem resolves into two things, for both the Hindus and the Mussulmans, to follow the programme of swadeshi and bring about a complete boycott of foreign cloth, and for the Hindus alone to get rid of this curse of untouchability and all that it implies. The Ali Brothers and their associates do not desire to be released from the jails of this Government except through the first Act of a swaraj parliament. May God help you and me to fulfil the condition of swaraj during this year, to redress the Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs and to release Ali Brothers who are now in jail? I hope and I know that you will extend the same patience that you have extended to me to the Maulana Saheb.” 6
Mahatma Gandhi spoke in Reply to Municipal Address, “I thank you sincerely for your beautiful address and the beautiful casket in which the address has been put. As you are aware, I have not anything to put silver plates and silver caskets into. The silver will therefore be devoted to public purposes. I congratulate the Salem Municipality on the record of progress which you have shown in your address. The more so, in that, your schools freely admit the Panchama children and that you’re Council contains a Panchama councilor nothing less can be expected of a place which has contributed to the Congress, its President and one of its Chief Secretaries. You have told me that you are willing to do all that you can within the compass of your act . . . for non-co-operation. You have here mentioned the three chief things on which the attention of non-co-operators is concentrated and if you add two more things, I think that you complete very nearly the programme of non-co-operation. I have not a shadow of doubt that your Act permits you to remain non-violent and to spread the gospel non-violence throughout the Salem District or throughout your town and I am sure also that your Municipal Act does not prevent you from promoting Hindu-Muslim unity. Then the last two things and temperance can best be promoted by concentrating our attention upon swadeshi and though I see more progress in swadeshi in Salem than elsewhere in the Madras Presidency I am not at all satisfied for all you have done for swadeshi. I do not know whether the councillors have religiously carried out the gospel of swadeshi in their homes. I do not know whether the councillors have qualified themselves for swadeshi propaganda by becoming themselves accomplished spinners. I have a suspicion that in all your municipal schools you have not yet made spinning compulsory. I invite you to follow the example of the Municipality of Lahore for prescribing khaddar dress for all municipal employees, and you know what the introduction of spinning-wheel and khaddar means to your town. I assure you that it adds 25 per cent to the total income of the town. I know that you are a great weaving centre and if the Municipality will do its duty it can easily persuade the weavers not to touch the Japanese or any other foreign yarn and so you have a great programme of swadeshi which no act that can possibly be devised by the Madras Government can prevent you from following and you can copy the example of the Thana Municipality to undertake picketing liquor shops for yourselves and if you have sufficient funds you can devote, also like the Thana District Board, certain amount to the Congress Committee and the Khilafat Committee for picketing liquor shops. After all, our movement is one of self-purification and searching self-respect. There are other ways in which we can perform both these processes and I feel sure that the Salem Municipality will not remain behind in self-purification and assertion of self-respect, and I thank you once more for your address.” 7
Mahatma Gandhi spoke at public meeting, “After addresses were read by the District Congress Committee, the Vanniakula Kshatriya’s and the Saurashtra community, Mr. C. Vijayaraghavachariar was voted to the Chair. Mahatmaji . . . said that the more ill-advised the prosecution was, the more innocent the Ali Brothers were, the more successful would be our efforts to attain our goal by suffering. He said that the answer to the prosecution was a complete and immediate boycott of foreign cloth and the introduction of the spinning-wheel in every house. He then laid great emphasis on the removal of untouchability. As he understood the varnashrama dharma there was no warrant for the doctrine of pollution by the touch of any human being. The varnashrama was a scheme of service and not a scheme of privileges. Evil thoughts, words and deeds polluted men and women, not the touch of any human being.” 8 Mahatma Gandhi spoke in Reply to Municipal address, “They should spread the gospel of swadeshi within their Municipality, introduce spinning-wheels in all their schools, promote temperance, take steps to get over the curse of untouchability and devise measures to combat famine. He said they could indulge in all those pleasures without infringing the Municipal Law.” 9
Mahatma Gandhi spoke at Bellary, “After the addresses were read, Mahatmaji replied in Hindi. He regretted that no address had been given to him by the Khilafat Committee. He did not know whether a Khilafat Committee was in existence or not. If there was one he regretted the omission. He stated that he had received innumerable letters from Bellary about local differences amongst vakils, councillors, Hindus and Mussulmans. Until there was concord and peace, there could be no Congress work and so he appealed to all to merge their differences and unite. With regard to the differences about Andhra and Karnatak questions, Mahatmaji stated that it may be taken up after swaraj was obtained. He appealed to the people to take to the charkha and manufacture of khadi. He regretted that the response from Bellary in the matter of suspension of practice was poor, nay, practically nil. He thanked the people for having come and welcomed him in such large numbers, though it was midnight.” 10
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “All the alterations I have made in my course of life have been effected by momentous occasions; and they have been made after such a deep deliberation that I have hardly had to regret them. And I did them, as I could not help doing them. Such a radical alteration in my dress, I effected in Madura. I had first thought of it in Barisal. When, on behalf of the famine-stricken at Khulna, I was twitted that I was burning cloth utterly regardless of the fact that they were dying of hunger and nakedness, I felt that I should content myself with a mere loincloth and send on my shirt and dhoti to Dr. Roy, for the Khulna people. But I restrained my emotion. It was tinged with egotism. I knew that the taunt was groundless. The Khulna people were being helped, and only a single zemindar could have sent all the relief necessary. I needed therefore nothing to do there. The next occasion came when my friend Maulana Mahomed Ali was arrested before my very eyes. I went and addressed a meeting soon after his arrest. I thought of dispensing with my cap and shirt that moment, but then I restrained myself fearing that I might create a scene. The third occasion came during my Madras tour. People began to tell me that they had not enough khadi to start with and that if khadi was available, they had no money. “If the labourers burn their foreign clothing where are they to get khadi from?” That stuck into my heart. I felt there was truth in the argument. The plea for the poor overpowered me. I expressed grief to Maulana Azad Sobhani, Mr. Rajagopalachariar, Doctor Rajan and others, and proposed that I should thenceforth go about with a loin cloth. The Maulana realized my grief and entirely fell in with my idea. The other co-workers were uneasy. They felt that such radical change might make people uneasy, some might not understand it; some might take me to be a lunatic, and that all would find it difficult if not impossible, to copy my example. For four days I revolved these thoughts, and ruminated the arguments, I began telling people in my speeches: “If you don’t get khadi, you will do with mere loin-cloth but discard foreign clothing.” But I know that I was hesitating whilst I uttered those words. They lacked the necessary force, as long as I had my dhoti and my shirt on. The dearth of swadeshi in Madras also continued to make me uneasy. The people seemed to be overflowing with love but it appeared to be all froth. I again turned to my proposal, again discussed with friends. They had no new argument to advance and September was very nearly closing. What should I do to complete the boycott the close of September? That was what was forever troubling me. Thus we reached Madura on the night of the 22nd. I decided that I should content myself with only a loin-cloth until at least the 31st of October. I addressed a meeting of the Madura weavers early next morning in loin-cloth. Today is the third day. The Maulana has liked the idea so much that he has made as much alteration in his dress as the Shari at permits. Instead of the trousers, he puts on a lungi, and wears a shirt of which the sleeves do not reach beyond the elbow. Only at the time of the prayers, he wears a cap, as it is essential. The other co-workers are silently watching. The masses in Madras watch me with bewilderment. But if India calls me a lunatic, what then? If the co-workers do not copy my example, what then? Of course this is not meant to be copied by co-workers. It is meant simply to hearten the people, and to make my way clear. Unless I went about with a loin-cloth, how might I advise others to do likewise? What should I do where millions have to go naked? At any rate why not try the experiment for a month and a quarter? Why not satisfy myself that I left not a stone unturned? It is after all this thinking that I took this step. I feel so very easy. For eight months in the year, you do not need a shirt here. And so far as Madras is concerned, it may be said that there is no cold season at all, and even the respectable class in Madras wears hardly anything more than a dhoti. The dress of the millions of agriculturists in India is really only the loin-cloth, and nothing more. I have seen it with my own eyes wherever I have gone. I want the reader to measure from this the agony of my soul. I do not want either my co-workers or readers to adopt the loincloth. But I do wish that they should thoroughly realize the meaning of the boycott of foreign cloth and put forth their best effort to get it boycotted, and to get khadi manufactured. I do wish that they may understand that swadeshi means everything.” 11
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message, “Mr. Harisarvothama Rao wires from Bombay under date October 5: Mahatma Gandhi permits the sending of the following message to the Ceded Districts workers: Concentrate attention on swadeshi, boycott, completely maintain perfect silence at meetings, and avoid demonstration of all description as the first essential discipline of deliberate peaceful action. Teach volunteers to down sticks and stand to duty. I request all to meet at Tadpatri on the 14th instant.” 12 Mahatma Gandhi said, “The subject of swadeshi was worn threadbare, and, if after twelve months of preaching in season and out of season, he had not driven conviction home to the people, no useful purpose would be served by crying himself hoarse at the present moment, more particularly because there were some in the audience who had apparently cast his message to the four winds. In the columns of Navajivan he had week after week been ringing changes on the immutable truth that if they wanted to see Rama-Rajya once more restored in India, he could conceive of no other efficient weapon than the determined effort put forth by women to wear khadi. Had they followed in the footsteps of Sita, the history of India would have been written far otherwise. With the spirit that flinched not at the privations of forest life she went into a voluntary exile, and were the same constancy to prevail in India, the attainment of dharmarajya was only a question of time. If they desired to compel respect after the manner of Sita, they should set aside indolent repose and turn with ever increasing earnestness and enthusiasm to the charkha. The yarn they would turn out by assiduously plying the spinning-wheels would cover the nakedness of India and deliver her from the slough of economic serfdom. Proceeding, Mahatma Gandhi went on to observe that service was in the nature of religion to women. Animated by the will to serve they would bring about the salvation of the country far more effectively than the graduates in their midst. India wanted men and women who would freely move among the working classes and share their joys and sorrows. Indiscriminate charity which deprived beggars of all incentive to work was fraught with danger to self-reliance and the only way to strike at the root of mendicancy was to induce the beggar to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow by means of the spinning-wheel. He had decided to put on a loin-cloth in consideration of India’s nakedness and would be ill at ease until all and sundry worked at spinning-wheels to clothe the scantily-clad millions. If they were attracted to the meeting out of curiosity to see him dressed in a loin-cloth, if they put on khadi to keep up appearances they would be practicing a trick on him.
They might deceive him and even deceive themselves by dissembling their real sentiments, but by no means could that human ingenuity devise, could they deceive God. It was idle to continue to wear foreign clothes on the ground of exhausting the existing stock. Would they drink liquor if they had a bottle of wine in stock? On no specious excuses could they justify the use of foreign clothes, when once they were convinced of their impurity. Did not Sita reject the costly garments in preference to the valkals (leafy clothing) in the Ashoka Forest? It was her heroic defence of chastity against numerous temptations and threats that secured her primacy of position in the salutation: “Sita-Rama”. If they excelled in the refinements of the culinary art, they could as well show proficiency in spinning the finest yarns. He looked forward to seeing them all dressed in khadi on the occasion of the forthcoming session of the Congress. They had hitherto cheerfully given anything he demanded and he felt confident that the response to his demand for delivering foreign clothes would be equally generous.” 13