For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment
Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09404955338
Messages of Mahatma Gandhi; Part-2
Mahatma Gandhi a different man. He met a lot of persons daily. He had a lot of work and their concerning people. He gave a message everybody time to time. Those messages had a lot of meaning. The person who had gotten it, change his life according to it. Those messages may be useful today. Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Rajakiya Mandal Meeting, Nadiad,“The Rajakiya Mandal meets at Nadiad. Please see the resolution suggested by me in the last issue of Navajivan. I desire that the Mandal should fearlessly adopt a resolution advising non-cooperation in connection with both the Punjab and khilafat questions. I take the boycott of councils as a first step in that direction. To adopt boycott after entering councils is to my mind sheer cowardice. How can we co-operate with those who do not deal justice to the Punjab and who betray us in the khilafat question? I remember to have seen in my childhood players at dice not playing with those who cast their dice dishonestly. In the political game before us the honour of India is at stake. Players on one side appear to resemble Duryodhana. How to play with them? God may help you to arrive at a correct and bold decision.”26
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Indian Women, Bombay, “After a prayer sung by some of the ladies, Mrs. Petit gave them the message of Mr. Gandhi in Gujarati in which he said that he did not understand what connection the women had with his birthday and how Indian women recognized him. Thinking over this, he felt that they recognized his affection. They knew that he had their self-respect at his heart and to preserve this the easiest method which he had shown to them was swadeshi. Men could not help more than women in promoting it. When the daughters of India used to spin yarn and covered themselves and others, India was poor but she was not so poor as she was today. At that time the women of India preserved their modesty but it was seen that they did not do so now. He therefore preached to the women the same thing. His advice to them was that all the women should always spend one hour in spinning yarn. All of them should consider plain living a duty imposed upon them and use the clothes made of the yarn spun by their maidens and consider them as holy. He perceived swarajya for India in that only.”27 Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Students of Wilson College, “I understand that the Wilson College students are agitated with the question whether they should leave the College or not. I wish I could be of some help in enabling them to solve the question. If we may not receive education through the patronage or under the influence of those who have robbed us of our wealth, we may not receive it from a Government that has robbed us of our honour and has conclusively proved untrustworthy. This Government of ours has humiliated us through the black record in the Punjab. It, i.e., the Imperial part of it, has violated a solemn pledge given through the Prime Minister to India in general and to the Mussulmans in particular. And yet it not only shows no signs of repentance but even insolently seeks to defend its conduct both regarding the khilafat and the Punjab. I hold it to be a sin to receive any favours through it and I have therefore no hesitation in saying that it is sinful for us to receive education in schools and colleges conducted by or through it. It is better to be without such education or even to suspend it till we have received redresses.”28
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Liquor Prohibition, “It gives me pleasure to hear that the movement to refrain from liquor is in progress. If this vice is abandoned it will give purity to our non-co-operation movement: it will help towards obtaining swaraj. Notices will come out shortly for the sale of liquor shops. Nobody should attend the auction nor take out a licence. If anybody takes out a licence, none should visit his shop to buy liquor. By this means the wicked vice will be everywhere destroyed.”29 Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to President, Punjab Student, “Please convey to the Punjab students our great expectation of an enthusiastic and unanimous response to the country’s appeal for immediate withdrawal, the only response consistent with honour and dignity of the outraged Punjab and betrayed Islam.”30
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Lahore Sikh on Nankana, “Having made my pilgrimage to Nankana Saheb yesterday I would like to say a word to my Sikh friends. The traces that I saw of the massacre at one of the greatest of your temples and the stories related to me have left an indelible impression on my mind. There seems little doubt that nearly one hundred and fifty men of the Akalis party were foully murdered and their bodies mutilated on that fateful Sunday, the 20th February, whilst not a single one of the murderers was apparently hurt by the Akali party. There is no doubt that at least one Akali was tied to a tree in the temple ground and probably burnt alive. There is still less doubt that many of the corpses were soaked in paraffin, and, in order probably to hide the fact that only men of one party were killed, they were burnt. No one of the Akalis that gained entrance to the temple seems to have escaped to tell the tale of the butchery.
The temple presents the appearance of a fort. The walls of the rooms that surround the shrine are pierced to admit of shooting through them. The partition walls have connecting holes. The main door has massive steel plates evidently of recent make. The Granth Saheb bears bullet marks. The walls of the sanctuary and the pillars tell the same tale. The Akali party seems to have been treacherously admitted and the gates closed on them. Everything I saw and heard points to a second edition of Dyerism more barbarous, more calculated and more fiendish than the Dyerism at Jallianwala. Man in Nankana, where once a snake is reported to have innocently spread its hood to shade the lamb-like Guru, turned Satan on that black Sunday.
India weeps today over the awful tragedy. I am ashamed to find that there are men today who are capable of the crime committed by sons of India in that holy temple. Information is lacking to show why the Akali party went to the temple and whether they offered resistance to the murderers. They had all their kirpans and mostly their hatchets. There are three possibilities that could have happened:
1. The party went by a show of force to take possession of the temple but were overwhelmed by superior force and died fighting bravely.
2. The party went merely as worshippers, had no intention of taking possession and was treacherously murdered without being able to defend themselves.
3. The party went as worshippers, as in the second case, and was mercilessly attacked; but though able to defend themselves would not retaliate and willingly died being under a vow not to use violence in connection with the gurudwara movement. The contention of my informants, who can only speak from hearsay, is that the party went and died as supposed in the third alternative. If it is so, the martyrs have showed courage and resignation of the highest order of which the Sikhs, India, and the whole world have every reason to be proud. It is a matter of the greatest satisfaction that the Sikhs with whom I have discussed the possibilities persist in believing the last.
In the second instance, the bravery of the defenders was as unquestioned as in the last. In the case I mentioned first, the bravery was great, but the
morality of the act, i.e., the taking possession by a show of force must remain open to question and ordinarily speaking, made the Akalis a party of trespassers whom the party in possession was entitled in law to use sufficient force to repel. The Akalis are a great party of purists. They are impatient to rid the gurudwaras of abuses that have crept in. They insist upon uniformity of worship in the gurudwaras. The movement has been going on for some years. Both co-operating and non-cooperating Sikhs have, since the movement of non-co-operation, been acting in concert so far as the gurudwaras movement is concerned. And even if it is discovered ultimately that the Akali party went to Nankana Saheb by show of force to dispossess a mahant1 who had abused his trust, History will still call the immolation an act of martyrdom worthy of high praise. Judged by the highest standard and that of non-violent non-co-operation,
if the first supposition turns out to be true, the act of entering to take possession must bear the taint of violence and as such is worthy of censure. But the original taint can never be held as in any way justifying or excusing the fiendish barbarity of the crime committed by the murderers. The law courts were open to them no man using violence can plead non-co-operation for not seeking the assistance of the law courts.
Time, however, for adjudging the exact value of the martyrdom is not yet. It is more to the point to consider the immediate steps that should be taken. I can only think of the tragedy in terms of Indian nationality. The merit of the brave deed must belong not merely to the Sikh but to the whole nation. And my advice, therefore, must be to ask the Sikh friends to shape their future conduct in accordance with the need of the nation. The purest way of seeking justice against the murderers is not to seek it. The perpetrators, whether they are Sikhs, Pathans or Hindus, are our countrymen. Their punishment cannot recall the dead to life. I would ask those whose hearts are lacerated to forgive them, not out of their weakness—for they are able in every way to have them punished—but out of their immeasurable strength. Only the strong can forgive. You will add to the glory of the martyrdom of the dear ones by refusing to take revenge.
Moreover those who are non-co-operationists may not have recourse to British law courts even for getting murderers punished. If we will be free within one year we must have the courage to suffer even the murderers to go scot-free1 till we have established a government in accordance with our will and which can vindicate justice. Let the Sikhs beware. The Government will no doubt try to win them over to them by showing that they alone can punish the guilty. Law courts of a civil government are traps into which the unwary run unwittingly.
But if we have not yet visualized the wickedness of the system under which we are governed, and therefore at a crucial moment will not avoid the existing law courts, let us not thoughtlessly blunder into having our own Committee side by side with the Government Committee of Inquiry. Let us frankly admit our imperfection or weakness and avail ourselves of the law courts or boldly face the possibility of murderers being let loose upon us. It is dangerous to conceal our weakness; it is still more dangerous to make pretence of courage.
It was common knowledge that the Mahant had been preparing for a long time, and practically openly, to give battle. He had arms. He had collected ammunition; he was surrounding himself with ruffians. Government officials could not but have known of the preparations. You, therefore, naturally suspect that high offlcials contemplated with equanimity, if they did not encourage, the perpetration of a heinous deed. You are anxious to find out the exact truth. A moment’s reflection must convince you that even if it is found that some Government officials were guilty of such complicity, the discovery takes you and India no further than where we stand today. You, and practically the whole of India, want to sweep the whole of the Government out of existence unless the system under which it is being carried on is radically altered. It would be wrong to divert the attention of any section of the nation from the main or the only issue which is before the country.
So much for the tragedy.
The whole of the gurudwara movement requires overhauling. There is no doubt that a large party proceeding to a gurudwara to take possession does constitute a show of force even though no violence is contemplated or intended. And in a well-ordered society, no individual, except under a process of law, is permitted to dispossess by a show of force or any undue pressure, even a wicked man who has been ostensibly in possession of public property such as temples. If such individual action were permitted there would be an end to all good government and the weak would be left without the right of protection. Such attempt therefore, on your part will be a negation of the Khalsa Dharm1 whose basis is protection of the weak. No one can be more eager for real reform in our temples and removal of all abuse than I. But let us not be party to measures that may be worse than the reform sought to be brought about. There are two ways open to you: either establishing arbitration boards for settlement of possession of all gurudwaras or temples claimed to be gurudwaras or postponement of the question till the attainment of swaraj. If you would let the martyrdom at Nankana bear fruit, exemplary self-restraint and suspension of the movement to take possession of gurudwaras by means of Akali parties are absolutely necessary.”31
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message for last day of Satyagraha week, “Today is the last day of the sacred week. Those who believe in God should make it a point to keep a fast and offer prayers on this day. It is the earnest desire of my heart that this should turn out to be the last 13th of April to see us in a state of subjection. But it is not in my hands to bring this about, and not in God’s either. Even God will not grant us swaraj. It is for us to win it and there is only one way of doing so. The moment we understand what it is and follow it, swaraj will be ours. We want to see foreign cloth boycotted in the course of this very year. To ensure this, everyone should examine his person and his wardrobe and should forthwith renounce the use of foreign cloth. No one must ask what others do. We should learn to make do with the fewest clothes, should ourselves ply the spinning wheel and urge others to do likewise.”32 Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to The Bombay Chronicle, “Of Mr. Horniman, I can say that the more I knew him the more I loved him. Few Englishmen have served journalism and, through that gift, India, with such fearlessness and strength of conviction as Mr. Horniman, and this I am able to say, although I often disapproved of his strong language and invective of which he was a master.33
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to women meeting, Bombay, “Mrs. Motiwalla read a message from Mahatma Gandhi asking them to pardon him if he was unable to attend the meeting. He had met his sisters of Bombay many a time and what could he say to them often and often? He was hungry for the freedom and sanctity of Hindustan and his prayer to God was that there should be chastity, fearlessness and simplicity in the Indian women. Without the blessings of women no dharmarajya could be established in this land. They had to give up the use of foreign cloth within this year and for that purpose he wanted the help of his sisters. Women should consider it a religious duty to use the charkha and khaddar, even though they might have to suffer considerable inconvenience. They must wear only those clothes which were made by their own hands. They should consider it a sin to use foreign cloth. Mill-made cloth ought to be used by only the poor people. He required large funds for this work and for that purpose he wanted the help of women. If they could only work for the Tilak Swaraj Fund, he had no doubt that a large sum could be very 1 The meeting was held under the auspices of the Rashtriya Stree Samaj at Marwadi Vidyalaya Hall, with H.H. Nazli Begum Rafiya Sultana in the chair. Among the speakers were the Ali Brothers. Sarojini Naidu and others made collections for the Swaraj Fund.34
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message of the Charkha, “The Indian Social Reformer has published a note from a correspondent in praise of the spinning-wheel. The correspondent in the course of his remarks hopes that the movement will be so organized that the spinners may not weary of it. Mr. Amritlal Thakkar, in his valuable note (published in the Servant of India) on the experiment which he is conducting in Kathiawad, says that the charkha has been taken up by the peasant women. They are not likely to weary, for to them it is a source of livelihood to which they were used before. It had dried up because there was no demand for their yarn. Townspeople who have taken to spinning may weary if they have done so as a craze or a fashion. Those only will be faithful who consider it their duty to devote their spare hours to doing what is today the most useful work for the country. The third class of spinners is the school-going children. I expect the greatest results from the experiment of introducing the charkha in the national schools. If it is conducted on scientific lines by teachers who believe in the charkha as the most efficient means of making education available to the seven and a half lakhs of villages in India, there is not only no danger of weariness, but every prospect of the nation being able to solve the problem of financing mass education without any extra taxation and without having to fall back upon immoral sources of revenue.
The writer in the Indian Social Reformer suggests that an attempt should be made to produce finer counts on the spinning wheel. I may assure him that the process has already begun, but it will be some time before we arrive at the finish of the Dacca muslin or even twenty counts. Seeing that hand-spinning was only revived last September, and India began to believe in it somewhat only in December, the progress it has made may be regarded as phenomenal. The writer’s complaint that hand-spun yarn is not being woven as fast as it is spun is partly true. But the remedy is not so much to increase the number of looms as to persuade the existing weavers to use hand-spun yarn. Weaving is a much more complex process than spinning. It is not, like spinning, only a supplementary industry, but a complete means of livelihood. It therefore never died out. There are enough weavers and enough looms in India to replace the whole of the foreign import of cloth. It should be understood that our looms thousands of them in Madras, Maharashtra and Bengal are engaged in weaving the fine yarn imported from Japan and Manchester. We must utilize these for weaving hand-spun yarn. And for that purpose, the nation has to revise its taste for the thin, tawdry and useless muslins. I see no art in weaving muslins that do not cover but only expose the body. Our ideas of art must undergo a change. But even if the universal weaving of thin fabric be considered desirable in normal conditions, at the present moment whilst we are making a mighty effort to become free and self-supporting, we must be content to wear the cloth that our hand-spun yarn may yield. We have therefore to ask the fashionable on the one hand to be satisfied with coarser garments; we must educate the spinners on the other hand to spin finer and more even yarn.
The writer pleads for a reduction in the prices charged by mill owners for their manufactures. When lovers of swadeshi begin to consider it their duty to wear khaddar, when the required number of spinning-wheels is working and the weavers are weaving hand-spun yarn, the mill-owners will be bound to reduce prices. It seems almost hopeless merely to appeal to the patriotism of those whose chief aim is to increase their own profits.
Incongruities pointed out by the writer such as the wearing of khaddar on public occasions and at other times of the most fashionable English suits, and the smoking of most expensive cigars by wearers of khaddar must disappear in course of time, as the new fashion gains strength. It is my claim that as soon as we have completed the boycott of foreign cloth, we shall have evolved so far that we shall necessarily give up the present absurdities and remodel national life in keeping with the ideal of simplicity and domesticity implanted in the bosom of the masses. We will not then be dragged into an imperialism which is built upon exploitation of the weaker races of the earth, and the acceptance of a giddy materialistic civilization protected by naval and air forces that have made peaceful living almost impossible. On the contrary, we shall then refine that imperialism into a commonwealth of nations which will combine, if they do, for the purpose of giving their best to the world and of protecting, not by brute force but by self-suffering, the weaker nations
or races of the earth. Non-co-operation aims at nothing less than this revolution in the thought-world. Such a transformation can come only after the complete success of the spinning-wheel. India can become fit for delivering such a message when she has become proof against temptation and, therefore, attacks from outside, by becoming self-contained regarding two of her chief needs food and clothing.”35
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to the people of Dharwar, “I have been following the doings of Government in Dharwar with the keenest interest. I tender my congratulations to the relatives of the victims of the official tyranny and I congratulate the people in general upon their patience and fortitude. It has given me great pleasure to learn that the arrests have not demoralized the citizens of Dharwar. I have no doubt those incidents like the one at Dharwar will accelerate our March to-wards swaraj if only we retain our patience and the spirit of non-violence. Deliberate and intentional non-retaliation doubles the courage of the people and adds greater sanctity to the cause they espouse. Undeterred, therefore, by the official repression, we must pursue our goal. I understand that the problem in Darwar is complicated by local dissensions and feuds. I urge all to forget these in face of the common danger but if all do not respond, I shall certainly expect non-co-operators to do so. But quietly resigning themselves to whatever jealousies they may be subjected to, they will disarm their opponents. There is no better remedy to overcome opposition than love and charity.”36
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to the people, “Remove your foreign clothes this very day from your house; give them to the Congress Committee at Patni Building or at the nearest place and obtain a receipt.”37 Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to the people of Aligarh, “Now that the goal is so near, the residents of Aligarh will not, he hopes, set the clock back by showing any weakness in the form of losing patience or resorting to violence or disowning responsibility for violence committed by any section of the public, whether non-co-operators or not.”38 Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to people “Remember the holy name of “Lokamanya’ on the 1st August by discarding foreign cloth and wearing khaddar. Boycott is an indispensable condition for the attainment of swaraj and redress of the Punjab and Khilafat wrongs. Lakhs of brothers and sisters Hindus and Mohammedans, Parsis, Christians and Jews all should come to honour the memory of the Lokamanya on the 1st August. Those who will not wear khadi, at least our mill-made cloth, need not attend. To come dressed in foreign clothes is an insult to the memory of the deceased Lokamanya. Give away the foreign cloth to volunteers or send it to the stores opened in the Ashoka Building in Princess Street. To make a bonfire of them is the best way; but, if you wish, they will be sent to Smyrna or some other country.”39
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to people of Kheda, “I have always hoped for much from you, and now that you have found a place for Bhai Abbas Tyabji in your hearts, my hopes have risen. Your contribution to the Tilak Swaraj Fund has exceeded expectations. The country’s second pledge, which now remains to be carried out, is more difficult, but certainly it cannot be so to you. A farmer can have no love for foreign cloth. He would feel ashamed to have to wear garments of fine cloth. The one thing which, more than anything else, can banish fear from Kheda district is the spinning wheel. We have realized its miraculous power. Hereafter we must depend on it alone. To do so, we ought forthwith to give up foreign cloth. No day can be more auspicious for that purpose than the death anniversary of Tilak Maharaj. On that day, make a bonfire of your foreign clothes and so cleanse yourselves. Having done so, resolve that you will in future manage with a few garments of any quality available and that you will produce in Kheda itself all the khadi you require. May God help you in this?”40
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Bombay Citizens, “Maulana Mahomed Ali was arrested at Walt air under Sections 107 and 108 to be called upon to give security, to be on good behaviour for one year. The place and date of trial is unknown. The Begum Sahiba and Mr. Hayat were permitted to see him after arrest. He and I were going to address a meeting outside the Station. He was arrested. I continued going to the meeting and addressed them.
There is no cause for sorrow, but every cause for congratulation. There should be no hartal. Perfect peace and calmness should be observed. I regard the arrest as a prelude to swaraj and the redress of Khilafat and the Punjab wrongs, if we can remain non-violent, retain Hindu-Muslim unity despite the madness of some Moplahs, and fulfil the swadeshi programme. I hope every Indian, man or woman, will completely boycott foreign cloth and take up spinning or weaving during every spare minute. By striving like the Maulana, be insistent on religious and national rights. Let us earn imprisonment. I am conscious of the Maulana’s innocence and I am sure the imprisonment of the innocent will enable the nation to reach the cherished goal. The Maulana was quite calm. So is the Begum Sahiba. She accompanies me during travel. So does Maulana Azad Sobhani.”41
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Congress committee, Karur, “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 cause 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.”42
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Lion-Cloth, Madurai, “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.1 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.”43
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to workers, Ceded Districts, “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.”44 Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Spinning-Wheel in the Gita, “In last Sunday’s issue of the Navajivan, I tried to answer the Poet’s arguments on the subject of the spinning-wheel. I said in the course of my reply that personally I read the message of the spinning-wheel even in the Gita. In support of my argument, I quoted some verses from Chapter III. I know full well that the meaning I have read into them will not be found in any of the commentaries on the book, interpreted literally. It is not recently that I have come to read the meaning which I do; I have read it, the commentaries notwithstanding, since 1909. The verse says that he is a thief who eats without performing yajna. If here we understand the meaning of yajna rightly, there will be no difficulty in accepting the interpretation I have put upon it. The straightforward meaning of the line, “Yajna brings rain” can only be that, if man labours trees will grow and if trees grow they will attract rain. Physical work for the welfare of the people is the only true yajna. The yajna in which some living creature, or be it even fruit, is given as an offering is no true yajna. Agriculture is one such yajna for the welfare of all. The farmer 1 Rabindranath Tagore; the reference is to a Gujarati translation of Gandhiji consumes only a part of the fruit of his labour; whether he means to or not, he toils chiefly for the people. Not everyone, however, can take up this work; it requires a strong body hardened by work in cold and heat. But everyone can operate the spinning-wheel. Even a scientist like Dr. Ray has convincingly showed how a man, though he may not be able to support himself exclusively by the spinning-wheel, may still help in meeting the people’s needs. Today, moreover, when the country is on the verge of ruin, the spinning-wheel is the only means of saving it. Spinning, therefore, is a true yajna. “He who does not conform to this universal wheel lives merely for the gratification of his own desires, lives his life, in other words, to no purpose.” At the present time, that universal wheel can mean for us only the spinning-wheel. It is possible that, when the verse in question was written, the great poet and seer might not have had the spinning-wheel in mind, but then poets write for all time and it is the perfection and beauty of a poem that it lends itself to meanings which its author never had in mind. As statements of principles, such lines are timeless. They yield rich fruit. It is my humble opinion that we have a right to pluck any number of beautiful fruits which may grow on the tree of such priceless and imperishable able poetry. Poet and menial, master and servant, mistress and maid, all must work for the common good. The millionaire may not work or ply the spinning-wheel for himself, but he must for the sake of the country and the people; otherwise, in the words of the Gita, he lives his life to no purpose.”45
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Teacher of Bombay National College, “A leaflet in Gujarati under this heading has been distributed by the Government among our Dhed brothers. The leaflet says that a rumour is current to the effect that the houses of those Dheds who do not join non-co-operation will be burnt down and that the Government will not protect them. The message states that these rumours are false, and that “measures are being taken for the progress of all sections of the people, without any distinctions”. If anyone has threatened our Dhed brothers or burnt the house of any of them, then he cannot be called a non-co-operator, or a Hindu or even an Indian. I simply cannot believe that such a threat has been held out by anyone. If it has been held out, however, what protection can the Government offer the Dhed brothers? What protection has it given in the past? How has the Government been able to protect Dheds when rude Hindus abuse them in trains? What protection does it give to those who, on their identity being discovered in offices, are harassed by the officers themselves, and to those who are without wells, houses and schools? I should indeed like to know what the Government has done to improve their condition. Yes, the Government has certainly done one thing. There is no doubt that it has got much forced work out of them, taught some of them to eat beef and encouraged them in their vices. Their moral condition has not been improved one bit. Permission has, of course, now been given for a meeting of theirs to be held in the Town Hall. The meeting is for honouring the Prince. This serves the Government’s own interest. So far as I know, this is the first time that a meeting of Antyajas is to take place in the Town Hall in Bombay.
This is nothing but flattery or bribing. Moreover, the Government will readily welcome anyone who may want to join in honouring the Prince. By acting thus, it is insulting the innocent Prince of Wales and using him to serve its own interest. If the poor man knew how he is to be honoured, it is doubtful whether he would come to India at this time; if, nevertheless, he did come, it would speak no end for the British people’s sense of discipline. At the call of duty, both the King and his subjects would be ready to make any sacrifices. If the sacrifice was not for base self-interest those who made them would be fit for moksha.
But my purpose is more to point out to the Hindus their duty than to dwell on the shortcomings of the Government or of the British. It is because the Hindus have not understood their dharma that we see attempts being made to lure our Dhed brothers with inducements. I visualize endless occasions of quarrelling in these attempts to drag them to opposite sides. Hence these two developments, the Government’s message and the Town Hall meeting, hold a lesson both for the Antyajas and the others. The former should not allow themselves to be deceived by the message or the meeting in the Town Hall. Let them fight the Hindus in a civilized way for what they consider their rights, respect the rules of Hindu society, give up eating meat, etc., especially beef, clean themselves physically after doing sanitary work, give up dissoluteness and so clean their hearts as well. Other Hindus should show regard for the Antyajas, admit them in Congress committees, understand their hardships, defend them if they are molested by anyone, look upon them as their own brothers and get rid of the notion that contact with them is sinful.
However, a thoughtful and considerate Hindu told me in the course of a conversation that, according to the Hindu religion, touch, even the vibrations emanating from prana, have an effect on the other person and it is, therefore, considered advisable that one should stay away from such people. He added:”It is because the Hindus knew about such intangible effects and guarded themselves against them that they have survived for thousands of years and have been able to compose wonderful Shastras.” Stated thus, the idea is true. Contact with dirt association with the wicked defiles us while the company of the good cleanses us.
But all this is not said in the Shastras to foster contempt or teach exclusiveness. It is said to persuade people to live in solitude and exercise self-control, and refers not to contact with Antyajas but to contact with all human beings. We have to purify ourselves inwardly and we can do this better by serving our Antyaja brothers and improving their lot. We put our hands even into gutters in order to clean them, and are none the worse for contact with their contents. If, moreover, we always think of others’ evils and keep away from everyone, we should become utter hypocrites because, when we dwell on others’ evils, we regard ourselves as so perfect that we think we have nothing to set right. In other words, we become the lowest of the low. The Dheds and the Bhangis are within us. We need to rid ourselves of them, take a bath on coming into contact with them. Many of the Dheds and Bhangis outside of us, though engaged in sanitary work, are so simple, so good and upright that they deserve reverence. The Dheds and Bhangis have no monopoly of vice nor have the other communities of virtue. We should, therefore, take care lest, failing to understand the meaning of certain statements in the Hindu Shastras and some of their ideas, we stick to their letter and fall.”46
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message for public meeting, Bombay, “I am sorry that I cannot personally come to Bombay this time even for a day.1 But I hope that you will excuse me when you know that the work which has detained me here is of greater importance than the worthy task before Bombay. If you wish to bring glory to Bombay;
1. Not even a child should attend any celebration arranged in honour of the Prince of Wales;
2. No one, young or old, should attend any entertainment programme even if admission to it is free—there are many other days for such things.
3. No man or woman should stir out of the house at all on the 17th without some unavoidable work.
4. Even by mistake one should not go out of curiosity to see what is happening, in the direction of the place where a celebration in honour of the Prince has been arranged.
5. Everyone should stay at home and spin and, if one does not know spinning, concentrate on it for eight hours and learn it from someone.
6. Everyone should spend some time at any rate in singing devotional songs or in prayer. Let city-dwellers not think that God does not exist, or that, even if He exists, it is not necessary to remember Him or seek His help in national work.
7. At the very hour when the Prince will be landing, a bonfire of foreign cloth should be lighted on the open ground by the side of the Elphinstone Road. For this purpose, we should start collecting foreign cloth in such parts of the city from which we have not collected any so
8. If the trains, etc., are running, no passenger should be forcibly dragged out.
9. Workers must not stop work without obtaining prior leave.
10. We can be fit for swaraj only if everyone is free to do what he chooses in every matter. Please remember:
Our reason for not joining functions in honour of the Prince is not that we have anything against him personally. He has done us no harm. The reason is that the bureaucracy is using him for its own purposes and that we do not wish to help it in this. It is as much our duty, therefore, to ensure the safety of his person, to refrain from so much as a suggestion of insult to him, as to boycott all functions in his honour.”47
Mahatma Gandhi gave a message to Mill-Hands of Bombay, “I do not know you personally but, having myself become a labourer for the sake of the labourers in the country, I am intimately connected with you. I desire that you should all report for work as soon as the mills open and never suspend work again unless permitted by the neither employers, nor take part in rioting any time in future.”48