The Gandhi-King Community

For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar, Professor, Editor and Linguist

Gandhi International Study and Research Institute, 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

 

 

Love and Mahatma Gandhi-IX 

 

 

We are not giving away these clothes to beggars. These, people, like ourselves, belong to clean and tidy middle-class families. I do hope that the same love, care and courtesy will be shown to them, as we do while giving something to our own brother or sister. Indeed we should show consideration and care while we give even to a beggar. It does not take much time to wash unclean clothes, stitch torn garments or to fold them all properly. It merely tests one’s fellow-feeling. 1 Great love, great sacrifice and great service are expected of me. How can I fulfil these expectations? My body has become weak on account of my sins. A man does not become ill without sin. God has given a body for us to keep in good trim. Sin consists in conscious or unconscious breach of divine or natural law. One is punished for an unconscious violation of a king’s command. How, then, can the breach of natural law escape punishment? A thief is not pardoned.

If a crime is committed in ignorance, the punishment may be reduced; that is the only difference. I have become ill on account of the sins that I have committed. As long as I commit such sins, consciously or unconsciously, I am an imperfect man. How should an imperfect man advise others? I am therefore in a great fix. Moreover, I do not have any other weapon. Satyagraha is my only weapon. Till now I have placed before the country the aggressive aspect of Satyagraha Henceforth I intend to present only its peaceful, winsome and profound aspect. If this can be accepted, our victory is certain. I think I have mastered the technique of Satyagraha. I have a fear that India, in the present circumstances, cannot wield the aggressive form of Satyagraha. We can do a lot of work before the Belgaum session by a deliberate adoption of the peaceful path. Co-operators, Non-cooperators, staunch No-changers, Pro-changers, Swarajists, Liberals, Conventionists, Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Christians, Jews, all can join together in this work. Satyagraha does not mean mere civil disobedience.  I am convinced that the sole cause for your love for me is that I have identified myself with the poor. I can become a Bhangi in the company of a Bhangi and I can do the work of a Dhed along with a Dhed. If untouchability is not eradicated during my lifetime and if I am to take another birth, I wish to be born a Bhangi. If untouchability persists and if I have the strength to abandon the Hindu religion, I shall read Kalma or become a Christian. I have, however, such great faith in my religion that I must live and die in it. For this reason also, I would wish to be born a Bhangi.  If you have such love for millions of your brothers and sisters, you should all tie yourselves up with a string of yarn. I know only this economics and nothing else. 2

I have given vent to all that was seething in my heart. I am now too tired to say anything more. I have said many things. The gist of it is that my nature has two sides a severe and a mild side. The severe or the fierce phase has estranged many of my friends. My wife, my son, my departed brother were alienated from me. In the other phase, love appears on the surface itself; but in the former phase of the mind, the love has to be looked for. There are other people as sternly self-critical as myself. I am convinced that when I am severe, there is not a trace of hatred within me and yet that severe phase is capable of leading to a fearful Himalayan blunder. However, students of psychology say that both the phases of the mind arise out of the same cause. Excessive love can assume a fierce face. If I torture my wife, it hurts me more. If I caused pain to any Englishman with whom I was working day and night in South Africa, I suffered greater pain during the process. If Englishmen have been hurt by my present activities, my sorrow is the greater. It is not as if I love Englishmen the less; I love them as much as my kith and kin. That is why I say to them: “You have exploited us for long and continue to do so. You are, however, not aware of your sin.

You are terrorizing us. You will repent.” I had to assume a fierce attitude in order to awaken England. But now that fierce phase is over. I have told Motilalji that there is no fight left in me. I have laid down my arms. How can a divided house, where hatred and bitterness are rife, do anything else? I have to make Herculean efforts to improve the situation. At the Belgaum session or before it, I shall oppose nothing and no one in a manner that will create divisions in the country. I shall confess that I am defeated; I shall be humble and hope to unite all through my humility. If India abandons her stupor and secures her freedom in this manner, humanity will learn a lesson from it. What more should I say? I pray to God that He may lead me on the right path, remove any trace of hostility, hatred or anger that may be left in me and give me a message which will inspire and rouse everybody to action. 3 

It had cost me their estrangement. But it was all out of deepest love. I believe myself to be capable of boundless love as well towards other creatures of God as towards my own dearest relatives. Sometimes love’s anguish left deep scars on the loved ones but it left much deeper ones on the lover’s bosom. I owed no ill-will to Englishmen. I had in them some of my best friends but there came a time when I had to say, “You shall not exploit my country. The exploitation has done incalculable harm. Some of you are indifferent to its welfare and would squeeze it as much as you can. Some others among you believe in your ignorance that the English rule in India is for her own good and that you are her trustees. This thing must end and that soon.” For me to say this was to put my whole soul into doing it. The attempt had resulted in bringing into prominence the terrible aspect of Satyagraha. 4 Love knew no bounds and conquered all without exception. It melted the stoniest heart. It knew no self. Who knows that unconsciously even to myself, there was no anger or ill- will lurking in me. But I must not flinch. I must try to conquer self and in the process heal the breaches I saw in our midst. “Pray”, I concluded, “that I may have the strength to do so.” 5 

What I have sketched above is not conditions of surrender. Mine is an unconditional surrender. I would guide the Congress next year only if all parties wish me to. I am trying to see daylight out of this impenetrable darkness. I seem to see it dimly. But I may be still wrong. All I know is that there is no fight left in me. This is much for a born fighter to say. I have fought my dearest ones. But I fight out of love. I should fight the Swarajists too out of love. But I must, I see, first prove my love. I thought I had proved it. I see I was wrong. I am therefore retracing my steps. I ask everyone to help me to do so and to reunite the two wings on a common platform. The Congress must, for some time to come at least, remain largely a homogeneous body. 6 Our peaceful non-co-operation must needs be constructive, not destructive. Poison should not emerge from the throes of love. We wished to end our enmity with Englishmen and make friends but it could not be. The adjective ‘‘peaceful” was under-emphasized in our non-co-operation. Our non-co-operation turned out to be that of the weak. In spite of this, we have been able to achieve good results, our spirits have risen, the people have become aware of their power, we have got a glimpse of an irresistible weapon; but we have not learnt how to make full use of it. Therefore, we retreated. Our love, which was only skin-deep, vanished. Only non-co-operation was left behind and we did not succeed against the Government; that is why we started to non-co-operate among ourselves. Once we take a weapon out of its sheath, it does not turn back but leads to our own destruction. Hindus and Muslims started non-co-operation with each other, so also did Swarajists and No-changers.

In these two instances of non-cooperation, there is war instead of peace, hate instead of love. There is no mutual confidence, they don’t want even to see each other’s face. Those who look upon pure love as a potent weapon, what are they to do in such circumstances? What is the duty, in these circumstances, of a man like me who claims to be an advocate of non-violence? I am in the forefront of the struggle against the Swarajists. I do not in the least approve of their programme of entering the Councils. Therefore I fought them hard in the Congress, acknowledged defeat and announced my intention to fight again. I suppose that my good faith will be recognized and both the groups will engage themselves in their respective programmes, thereby helping each other. But my expectations proved wrong. There is disquiet in the minds of both. Preparations are afoot to capture the Congress at Belgaum by majority strength. This is no sign of love. The principle of majority does not work when differences on fundamentals are involved. If both the parties are suspicious, bitterness is intensified. If the voters cast their votes not intelligently but out of blind faith, then such voting does not serve an educative purpose, but only leads to their degradation. If the voters are trustful and cannot see the intricacies of a problem, the principle of majority may even lead to their destruction.  Let us examine the causes. If you take a potent medicine without circumspection, it leads to a relapse; this is the very thing that has happened with non-co-operation, which is like a potent medicine and cannot be taken casually. If there is any error in employing it, serious harm may result. A son co-operates as a rule with his father, so does a wife with her husband, or a people with their king. There is a bond of love between the two; but there are occasions when there is and ought to be non-co-operation between the two.

If that non-co-operation is virulent, it is detestable and sinful. Between father and son there can be no enmity. If it does arise, it is more dreadful than ordinary enmity. The Germans and the English are cousins. When they fought, one had to go down to dust. By refraining from such blood-thirsty non-co-operation and calling our non-co-operation peaceful, we have completely transformed its character. Our peaceful non-co-operation must needs be constructive, not destructive. Poison should not emerge from the throes of love. We wished to end our enmity with Englishmen and make friends but it could not be. The adjective ‘‘peaceful” was under-emphasized in our non-co-operation. Our non-co-operation turned out to be that of the weak. In spite of this, we have been able to achieve good results, our spirits have risen, the people have become aware of their power, we have got a glimpse of an irresistible weapon; but we have not learnt how to make full use of it. Therefore, we retreated. Our love, which was only skin-deep, vanished. Only non-co-operation was left behind and we did not succeed against the Government; that is why we started to non-co-operate among ourselves. Once we take a weapon out of its sheath, it does not turn back but leads to our own destruction.

Hindus and Muslims started non-co-operation with each other, so also did Swarajists and No-changers. In these two instances of non-cooperation, there is war instead of peace, hate instead of love. There is no mutual confidence, they don’t want even to see each other’s face. Those who look upon pure love as a potent weapon, what are they to do in such circumstances? What is the duty, in these circumstances, of a man like me who claims to be an advocate of non-violence? I am in the forefront of the struggle against the Swarajists. I do not in the least approve of their programme of entering the Councils. Therefore I fought them hard in the Congress, acknowledged defeat and announced my intention to fight again. I suppose that my good faith will be recognized and both the groups will engage themselves in their respective programmes, thereby helping each other. But my expectations proved wrong. There is disquiet in the minds of both. Preparations are afoot to capture the Congress at Belgaum by majority strength. This is no sign of love. The principle of majority does not work when differences on fundamentals are involved. If both the parties are suspicious, bitterness is intensified. If the voters cast their votes not intelligently but out of blind faith, then such voting does not serve an educative purpose, but only leads to their degradation. If the voters are trustful and cannot see the intricacies of a problem, the principle of majority may even lead to their destruction. 7 

I wish to practise the creed of love by advising suspension of non-co-operation and of boycott, and unity with co-operators. Non-co-operating lawyers may not resume their practice, but should meet practising lawyers courteously in the Congress. Suspension of boycott implies that the advocates of boycott lose the right to criticize co-operators. On the issue of Council-entry also, both of them will have the same place and the same rights in the Congress. The four things mentioned above will bind them together. It is true that one who wears foreign or mill-made clothes will have no place in the Congress. Even those who trade in foreign-cloth or who own textile mills can join the Congress, but they must recognize the importance of khadi by themselves wearing it, by sympathizing with the poor and by helping in the spread of the spinning-wheel. Boycott of foreign-cloth will be a permanent aspect of popular democracy and hence it would be impossible to win swaraj without emphasizing it. A permanent boycott of our own mills is not sought; but we should reduce our attachment to mill-made cloth. Khadi should get the first place. I have, therefore; no doubt that even mill-made cloth should be disallowed for the purposes of Congress membership as long as khadi and the spinning-wheel do not become widespread. 8 

So long as you do not feel as I do, you should receive socks, etc., from your sister. My position remains the same. The sister’s love offering cannot be allowed to interfere with the clear duty of feeling one with the poorest by using things made by them. The way to arrive at a proper solution is to multiply your case by one million and find out whether one million gifts be they ever so loving will not rob the poor of the land from disposing of their cloth among us. But why should I strive with you? I shall love you none the less for receiving and using cloth sent by your sister. I do not want you to do things the doing of which you do not regard as necessary. 9 I cannot explain with words the priceless virtue of non-violence. It can be taught only through practice. That is why I am practising this virtue at the moment. I would not touch with a sword even those Muslims who destroy our temples; I would not hate them; I would win them over only with love.  10 My love of my religion teaches me to appreciate other people’s love for their religions. And I always pray to God that every Hindu and Muslims may learn to do likewise. 11

The sewing machine had love at its back. The individual is the one supreme consideration. The saving of labour of the individual should be the object, and honest humanitarian considerations, and not greed, the motive. Thus, for instance, I would welcome any day a machine to straighten crooked spindles. Not that blacksmiths will cease to make spindles; they will continue to provide the spindles; but when the spindle gets wrong, every spinner will have a machine of his own to get it straight. Therefore, replace greed by love and everything will come right. 12 A friend tells me that whilst I am wooing the Swarajists, the Liberals and others, I seem to be forsaking the No-changers and that they are bewildered at the change I am undergoing. The friend asks me to state my position from the No-changers’ standpoint and to explain the seeming transformation in my attitude. He says I must clearly define the benign aspect of non-co-operation or Satyagraha that I adumbrated at the Excelsior Theatre meeting in Bombay. In the first instance, I would clear the ground by saying that my own views remain unchanged. I swear by non-violent non-co-operation and all the boycotts that follow from it. But I see as clearly as daylight (this I did not see at Juhu) that the country as a whole has not understood non-violence and therefore has not understood the non-co-operation that was presented to it. I therefore see equally clearly that the keeping up of non-co-operation without its active principle, non-violence, must do harm to the country. It has done much harm already, in that it has divided the country into opposing parties. In such circumstances, non-co-operation as a national programme must for the time being is suspended. The root of non-co-operation is in Satyagraha, which is love. The law of love call it attraction, affinity, cohesion, if you like governs the world. Life persists in the face of death. The universe continues in spite of destruction incessantly going on. Truth triumphs over untruth. Love conquers hate. God eternally triumphs over Satan. The non-co-operation that I conceived was to be a binding force. The split in the Congress ranks, and still more clearly the Hindu-Muslim dissensions, show that our non-co-operation has proved a dissolving element. I must therefore endeavour to show its benignant aspect by advising suspension, and by total surrender on my part.

In so doing I do not need to woo the No-changers. They claim to know non-violence and its implications. They pin their faith on the constructive programme to the exclusion of everything else. I abate not a jot or little from that programme. On the contrary, every step I am taking is calculated to give strength to it. The Hindu-Muslim question is of paramount importance. We want the weight of the whole country’s opinion to be brought to bear upon it. We must stoop to conquer. Retaining every bit of non-co-operation in our own persons, we must make the path of those who do not believe in it smooth for helping us and helping the country in the constructive effort. The past four years have shown us the way. We have gained much, but we have lost also much. We must conserve the gains and regain the lost ground. The mass awakening is the greatest gain. We must hold to it. The generating of mutual strife is the greatest loss. We must repair it quickly. One cannot do so unless we suspend the terrible aspect of non-co-operation.

The No-changers, duty, if they are anything worth, is self-effacement, silent work. They must not fight for power or office or name. They must work silently, result or no result. They must live on the sufferance of their fellow-workers, the Swarajists and the Liberals, if they will rejoin the Congress. The best way to show how to do it, is to do it myself. I am therefore engaged in surrendering to the utmost of my capacity to the Swarajists as well as the Liberals. I have nothing to surrender to the No-changers; for I am supposed to have no differences of opinion with them. I must cease to be a party man and invite No-changers to do likewise. We must not hinder the Swarajists in their very difficult task. Wherever No-changers cannot have a majority without a bitter struggle, they must gladly and willingly and gracefully yield to the Swarajists. If they have power or office, it must be by virtue of service, not by manipulation of the vote. The vote is there, no doubt. But it must come, if it is to come, without the asking. Is it not easy enough to see that service requires no power, no office, and no prestige? I would like every one of us to be a mere servant of the nation. I would like No-changers so to behave as to be wanted by Swarajists, Liberals and all others. But whether they do so or not, I must act up to my faith. God weighed me at the last All-India Congress Committee and found me wanting. My pride told me that I must yet fight the Swarajists. But the unquenchable spirit of service in me tells me that I must fight neither the Swarajists, nor the Liberals, nor the Englishmen.

I must prove to everyone that I am what I profess to be—their friend and servant. My creed is service of God and therefore of humanity. I can neither serve God nor humanity, if as an Indian I do not serve India, and as a Hindu I do not serve the Indian Mussalmans. Voluntary service means pure love. I must strive my utmost, during the coming year of grace, to express in every little act of mine whatever love I am capable of.   Report of the Thirty-ninth Indian National Congress, 1924, pp. 13 She thinks everything is right. She knows nothing of hatred. She is all love. I find in her love personified. Therefore, I have been treating her as my very flesh and blood in spite of the sea that divides her from me. I am trying to unite myself with the Mussalmans by this means. She thinks that her Koran makes it lawful for her to kill the cow, while my religion enjoins upon me not to kill the cow. Who am I under the circumstances to prevent her from killing the cow? I would be denying my religion if I did so.

But I wish to conquer her by preaching love. I will tell her, “The Koran does not pledge you to kill the cow or eat beef; my religion not only does not permit it, my Koran compels me to worship the cow. You may eliminate the worship of the cow but you may tolerate my abstention from beef, you may tolerate my worship of the cow. Out of friendly regard for me you can abstain from killing the cow.” That is the secret of my love for the little girl, Gulnar. That is why I allow myself to be carried in the pocket of Maulana Shaukat Ali. Why do I not think of Malaviyaji Simply because my worship of Malaviyaji is spontaneous? But I am partial to Mussalmans. How can I do otherwise? When you are partial to the Mussalmans you will reach the proper conclusion, proper answer to this equation. If anybody were to say, “Solve this equation, what the Hindus and the Mussalmans should do?” I would say, it is the duty of every Hindu to be partial to the Mussalmans and of every Mussalman to be partial to the Hindus. I find that there is a seer who wants to see God or to meet God in one way and I in another way and, therefore, everything that he does I look askance. Then I say to myself, I must be partial and when I have done that I shall be just. I like to ask the Mussalmans to do that to be partial to the Hindus. 13 God is Love, not hate. God is Truth, not untruth. God alone is great. We His creatures are but dust. Let us be humble and recognize the place of the lowliest of His creatures. Krishna honoured Sudama in his rags as he honoured no one else. Love is the root of religion or sacrifice and this perishable body is the root of self or irreligion, says Tulsidas. Whether we win swaraj or not, the Hindus have to purify themselves before they can hope to revive the Vedic philosophy and make it a living reality. 14

 

 

References:

 

  1. Navajivan, 17-8-1924
  2. Navajivan, 7-9-1924
  3. Navajivan, 7-9-1924  
  4. Young India, 4-9-1924
  5. Young India, 4-9-1924 
  6. Young India, 11-9-1924 
  7. Navajivan, 14-9-1924
  8. Navajivan, 14-9-1924
  9. Letter to C. F. Andrews, Before September 18, 1924
  10. To The Reader, September 24, 1924
  11. Navajivan, 5-10-1924 
  12. Young India, 13-11-1924
  13. Young India, 23-10-1924
  14. Young India, 26-12-1924

 

 

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