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

 

Mogul Rule in India and Mahatma Gandhi 

 

Akbar’s successors lost the splendour of the Mogul Empire of his time, because they lost, one by one, Akbar’s qualities of character. Jehangir lost one, Shahjehan one more, Aurangzeb more still and his successors lost almost all. The result was that they lost the Empire to the British. The Indian people in modern times have behaved like Akbar’s successors. 1 Today Hindus and Mussulmans have united together. I don’t wish to say that the Mogul emperors were not tyrants but the oppression practised by the present Government beats all past records. If Islam is in danger today where is the guarantee that Kashi and Prayag will not be in jeopardy tomorrow. Hypocrites are never trustworthy. We can’t say when our Government will deceive us. We can never depend on the Government but we must have confidence in ourselves. So long as there is discord amongst ourselves, so long as we are slaves to anger, so long as we thirst for the blood of the English, so long we cannot free India. I want three things: unity among Hindus and Mussulmans; restraint of anger; non-violent non-co-operation. 2

This is a representative view being expressed by several people. We must conquer the battle of swaraj by conquering this sort of willful ignorance and prejudice of our countrymen and of Englishmen. The system of education is a put my best energy to destroy that system. I don’t say that we have got as yet any advantage from the system. The advantages we have so far got are in spite of the system, not because of the system. Supposing the English were not here, India must have marched with other parts of the world and even if it continued to be under Mogul rule many people would learn English as a language and a literature. The present system enslaves us without allowing a discriminating use of English literature. My friend has cited the case of Tilak, Ram Mohan and myself. Leave aside my case; I am a miserable pigmy.  We want to bask in the sunshine of freedom, but the enslaving system emasculates our nation. The pre-British period was not a period of slavery. We had some sort of swaraj under Mogul rule. In Akbar’s time the birth of a Pratap was possible, and in Aurangzeb’s time a Shivaji could flourish. Has 150 years of British rule produced any Pratap and Shivaji? You have got several feudatory Native Chiefs everyone of whom bends the knee before the Political Agent and admits his slavery. When I find young men complaining against Native Chiefs, my sympathy goes to them. They are doubly oppressed. When the Native Chiefs do so, I ascribe it to the British conqueror not to the Chiefs. They are victims to the slave-owning system. So my appeal to you all is: “Fly from this monster.” Never mind if you beg from door to door. Rather die begging than live in bondage. We must be able to hold the country. Who holds the country now? It is not the English. It is we the Indian people who have accepted bondage. I refuse to shed a single tear if the English retire at this moment. I ask them to help us as our servants, equals and friends. I shall not allow them to lord it over us with our consent. They may use aeroplanes, army, navy, but not our consent. Realize your own dignity even though India was infested with robbers. You must do your duty. What can be nobler than to die as free men of India? It is a satanic system; I have dedicated my life to destroy the system. 3

But I become more convinced of its truth as days pass. Would anyone, looking at the Delhi Fort, ever say that he could have imagined that the Mogul Empire would one day perish? In the days of that Empire, there must have been persons who were ridiculed by the people for thinking so. I believe, regardless of all this, that there is a greater possibility of this Empire coming down than there might have appeared in the case of the Mogul Empire. No empire can last in the face of the people’s unfeigned resentment. It is the craven hearted whom others seek to frighten. In this country I often see cripples lying full length on public pathways. Nobody threatens them because they have banished all fear from their heart as they lie there. There are quite sure that nobody will harass them in any way. Their presence causes inconvenience to thousands of passers-by but the latter endure it. In the same way, if we become as fearless as these cripples, the guns at Colaba and the fort will no longer seem ferocious beasts growling at us but appear as harmless snakes. 4

Observer’ in The Times of India ask me some questions pertaining to the movement. I am sorry I have not been able to answer them earlier. They would have escaped me had not a friend sent me the cutting. Observer’ asks whether the British ‘is not a better Government than the Mogul and the Maratha’. I must dare to say that the Mogul and the Maratha Governments were better than the British in that the nation as a whole was not so emasculate or as impoverished as it is today. We were not the pariahs of the Mogul or the Maratha Empire. We are pariahs of the British Empire. 5 

Writing about the Mogul period you say that there were then such frequent and widespread massacres that no profession could flourish. There are two errors in this view. Such massacres were never widespread. Before Akbar, no Muslim ruler had entered villages. The massacres always took place in cities and there, too, they had little effect on the artisan classes. Even today we see these classes going on with their occupations under this anarchical rule. Formerly, the government touched the lives of only those who were connected with the administrative machinery. It is only in the present age that governments have become eager to extend their grip over entire populations. And, among them all, the British Government has acquired the utmost efficiency in this. It is this efficiency which is ruining us, for British rule is inspired by no philanthropic motives. 6 Besides the 60 crores of rupees that go out of the country every year by way of payment for the foreign cloth that we import, millions more are sent out of the country. During the days of the Ghazni, Ghori, and the Mogul Empire, the wealth of the country stayed within it, but under this Government, the pensions of all officers are sent out of the country. How can one rest when the country is being robbed in this manner? 7 

The late Maulana Muhammad Ali often used to tell me, and he was himself a bit of an historian, he said, “If God” ‘Allah’, as he called God” gives me life, I propose to write the history of Mussalman rule in India; and then I will show through documents that British people have erred, that Aurangzeb was not so vile as he has been painted by the British historian; that the Mogul rule was not so bad as it has been shown to us in British history," and so on. And so have Hindu historians written. This quarrel is not old; this quarrel is coeval with this acute shame. I dare to say it is coeval with the British advent, and immediately this relationship, the unfortunate, artificial, unnatural relationship, between great Britain and India is transformed into a natural relationship, when it becomes, if it does become, a voluntary partner- ship to be given up, to be dissolved at the will of either party, when it becomes that you will find that Hindus, Mussalmans, Sikhs, Europeans, Anglo-Indians, Christians, untouchables, will all live together as one man. 8 

A Muslim who knows the Devanagari script well has a complaint about one of the text-books. It contains disparaging things about Mogul emperors which are not even historically true. I humbly submit that great care should be exercised in the choice of text-books; they should have a nationalistic bias and the syllabus should be drawn up keeping in view the modern needs. I know that all this that I have said is outside my province. But I considered it my duty to put before you the complaints that were brought to me. 9 If the Roman script had made a home for itself in India in the same way as the Persian, I would agree with you. But the knowledge of the former is confined to a mere handful of English-knowing persons, while crores of Hindus and Muslims are conversant with the latter. You should try to find out the exact number of persons knowing the Roman and Persian scripts respectively.  There is no question of giving up anything that is ours by tradition. It is a question of adding to or improving what already exists. If I know Sanskrit, what harm if I learn Arabic too, or vice versa? The result will probably be an enrichment of my knowledge of either language. And my contacts with the Arabs or Hindus, as the case may be, will increase. Surely there can be no opposition to the acquiring or right knowledge in any sphere. 10

 

References:

 

  1. Navajivan, 27-6-1920
  2. The Searchlight, 17-12-1920 
  3. Amrita Bazar Patrika, 31-3-1921
  4. Navajivan, 12-6-1921
  5. Young India, 22-6-1921
  6. Letter to Manmohandas P. Gandhi, March 3, 1930
  7. Navajivan, 30-3-1930
  8. Indian Round Table Conference: Proceedings of the Plenary Sessions, pp. 265
  9. Veena, Tributes Issue, April-May 1969  
  10. Harijan, 26-4-1942

 

 

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