The Gandhi-King Community

For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No- 09404955338

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

 

 

Peasant of India and Mahatma Gandhi

 

A peasant is a member of a traditional class of farmers, either laborers or owners of small farms. Peasants are divided into three classes according to their personal status. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to improve their social and economical status. Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “Life is very short; a man must live somehow and die somewhere; the amount of bodily comfort a peasant gets under your way of living is not so much more than mine.”1 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “The railways, telegraphs, hospitals, lawyers, doctors, and such like have all to go, and the so-called upper classes have to learn to live conscientiously and religiously and deliberately the simple peasant life, knowing it to be a life giving true happiness.”2

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “A peasant earns his bread honestly. He has ordinary knowledge of the world. He knows fairly well how he should behave towards his parents, his wife, his children and his fellow-villagers. He understands and observes the rules of morality. But he cannot write his own name. What do you propose to do by giving him knowledge of letters? Will you add an inch to his happiness? Do you wish to make him discontented with his cottage or his lot? And even if you want to do that, he will not need such an education. Carried away by the flood of western thought we came to the conclusion, without weighing pros and cons, that we should give this kind of education to the people.”3 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “Without a cottage industry the Indian peasant is doomed. He cannot maintain himself from the produce of the land. He needs a supplementary industry. Spinning is the easiest, the cheapest and the best.”4

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “It is not proper for a peasant to fight with zemindars. It is a great mistake to quarrel with the zemindar and swaraj cannot be attained thereby. I want Ramarajya. But side by side I do not like those zemindars should tyrannize over the peasants. If the zemindars tyrannize over them they would be right in adopting non-co-operation with them. At present we have to non-co-operate with the Government and hence we should not think of mutual non-co-operation.”5 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “The immediate issue is not now the redress of the three wrongs. The immediate issue is the right of holding public meetings and the right of forming associations for peaceful purposes, and in vindicating this right, we are fighting the battle not merely on behalf of non-co-operators, but we are fighting the battle for all India down from the peasant up to the prince and for all schools of politics.”6

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “The Indian peasant requires a supplementary industry. The most natural is the introduction of the spinning-wheel, not the handloom. The latter cannot be introduced in every home, whereas the former can and it used to be so even a century ago. It was driven out not by economic pressure, but by force deliberately used as can be proved from authentic records. The restoration, therefore, of the spinning-wheel solves the economic problem of India at a stroke. I know that you are a lover of India, that you are deeply interested in the economic and moral uplift of my country.”7 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “As is the king, so are the subjects. I have not found such similarity between the dress of the ruler and the subjects anywhere else as I found here. The dress of the ruling class and the peasant class was almost the same. It is amongst the peasants that I found some variety in dress. One may come across a few highly educated persons wearing western clothes or some women dressed in silk saris; however, the common dress of the Malayalis consists of an untucked dhoti and a shirt. The women also wear the same kind of dhoti, but one end of that dhoti serves as an upper garment, and of late a shirt or a blouse has been added.

Khadi can be easily introduced in these parts because women require neither dyeing nor any border, nor any great length like our sari or Ghaghara. Despite this, calico and nainsook have wrought Petticoat worn low up to ankles ruin. Khadi has found its way after the recent struggle1. Nevertheless, there is no end to the number of spinners and weavers in these parts. In the vicinity of Kanyakumari there is a village called Nagarcoil where hand-spun yarn is sold at a regular weekly market.”8

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “Anyone who desires to possess land cannot practice ahimsa. A peasant necessarily has to protect his land. He must guard it against tigers and wolves. A peasant, who is not prepared to punish these animals or thieves, etc., should always be prepared to abandon his field.”9 Peasant movements is a social movement involved with the agriculture policy. Peasant’s movement has a long history that occurred in various regions of the world throughout human history. Early peasant movements were usually the result of stresses in the feudal and semi feudal societies. It resulted in violent uprisings. Mahatma Gandhi did not like it. He wanted their better life through better policy. He liked movement on the way of Non-Violence. He warned them always. Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “I know that the peasant is dragging a miserable existence and hardly gets even a scanty meal a day. That is why I have suggested the revival of the spinning-wheel.”10

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “The Brahmin and the Bhangi, the prince and the peasant, the capitalist and the labourers claim his equal attention, if they stand for truth and justice.”11 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “If the Indian peasant was isolated and was seated on some mountain top, we shall not be perhaps responsible for his state. But seeing that he is part of the same society that we are, we cannot divest ourselves of responsibility for his even state as that drop of water in the pool cannot.”12 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “I received while on tour the following from a poor peasant of U.P. It bears the date November 4, 1924. I have been all this time hoarding it among my papers. I give it here just as it was received. I do not even hold back the name, for there is not the slightest fear of Ramchandra being flattered. It is most likely that he does not even read Navajivan. Even if he does, I am certain that one who has sent me these beautiful verses1 of Tulsidas will not become swollen with pride.”13

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “But the peasant is too much occupied with the burden of his hard and precarious existence to have time or energy to think out these problems for him and the cultured class instead of helping him chooses to give him the cold shoulder. Having become a peasant myself, I have no clear-cut road to go by and must therefore chalk out a path for myself and possibly for fellow peasants. And the monkey nuisance being one of the multitudes of ticklish problems that stare the farmer in the face, I must find out some means by which the peasant’s crops can be safeguarded against it with the minimum amount of himsa”14. Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “We should also hope that the millions of peasant of our country following what has come to be called the self-reliance system in khadi will be able to spin for themselves and have enough khadi woven for their needs.”15

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “The starving peasant has no education and has no self-confidence, because he thinks that penury is an inheritance from which he cannot shake himself free.”16 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “I believe that in a country like India the sooner a man raises from bed the better. Indeed millions must necessarily rise early. If the peasant is a late riser, his crops will suffer damage. Cattle are attended to and cows are milked early in the morning. Such being the case, seekers of saving truth, servants of the people or monks may well be up at 2 or 3; it would be surprising if they are not.”17 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “Every peasant could grow all kinds of bhaji for nothing and eat it raw as part of his normal diet. It was discovered during the War that compressed and dried vegetables were harmful and that, not lime-juice, but the juice pressed out of fresh limes, was the preventive of scurvy.”19

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “Please do not confuse the issue of poverty with this. The problem of poverty is economic, whereas the problem of abolition of untouchability is religious or spiritual. My religion will not be destroyed if I do not solve the problem of poverty of a poor peasant.”19 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “But the peasant of India is a peasant by force of circumstances. He for his part would like to become a king. But by force of circumstances he has remained a peasant. I wish to become a peasant and a labourer by choice. The only difference between him and me would be that I would be satisfied with my lot while he is not. I do not wish to become a dissatisfied beggar like him. I would be master of myself. I would be happy with that life. That is my ideal. On the day I am able to teach him to become a peasant and a labourer by choice I would have taught him to throw off the shackles that now keep him bound and that compel him to do the masters’ bidding.”20

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “Its abolition would be a gesture the poorest peasant could understand. It would mean even more to him than independence itself. Salt in this climate is a necessity of life, like air and water. He needs it for himself, his cattle and his land. This monopoly will go, the instant we get independence.”21 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “The base and foundation of village industries is agriculture. Years ago I read a poem in which the peasant is described as the father of the world. If God is the Provider, the cultivator is His hand. What are we going to do to discharge the debt we owe to him? So long we have only lived on the sweat of his brow. We should have begun with the soil but we could not do so.”22

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “I want to reduce the prices of food grains still further. I claim to be a peasant myself and I know that only a fraction of the price paid by the consumer actually reaches the grower of food. It should be the business of the Interim Government to see that the tiller of the soil gets full value of his produce and that every pie paid by the consumer reaches the peasant’s pocket or else it should get out. The Interim Government can never be guilty of wishing to provide cheap grains to the consumer at the expense of the grower of food. The trouble with the cultivator is not low prices but the middleman.”23 Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “Khadi activity will not gather momentum if you have the slightest misgivings about making khadi the national dress. As a result unemployment will increase. If you want to give work to the millions khadi alone provides such work. Its various processes right from the growing of the cotton to the weaving of the cloth will provide employment to every member of a peasant family.”24

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the life of peasant of India; “The peasant himself consumes what he grows. He sells his small surplus in order to buy the other necessities of life. One consequence of controls was that the peasant could realize only a very low price from the market for his produce. Therefore in so far as the peasant gets a higher price for food grain the price of food grain will increase. The consumer should not mind that. The Government will have to see that any benefit from the rise in prices under the new arrangement goes wholly to the farmer. This will have to be explained to the people every day or at least every week. Millers and all kinds of middlemen will have to co-operate with the Government and work under its direction.”25 So we can say that Mahatma Gandhi wanted to improve their economical condition. Mahatma Gandhi declared himself as a former during a case.

 

References:

 

  1. VOL. 10: 5 AUGUST, 1909 - 9 APRIL, 1910; Page- 108
  2. VOL. 10: 5 AUGUST, 1909 - 9 APRIL, 1910; Page-  169
  3. VOL. 10: 5 AUGUST, 1909 - 9 APRIL, 1910; Page-  298
  4. VOL. 19: 29 SEPTEMBER, 1919 - 24 MARCH, 1920; Page-  169
  5. VOL. 22 : 23 NOVEMBER, 1920 - 5 APRIL, 1921; Page-  62
  6. The Leader, 26-12-1921
  7. Young India, 6-4-1922
  8. Navajivan, 29-3-1925
  9. Navajivan, 9-8-1925
  10. VOL. 33: 25 SEPTEMBER, 1925 - 10 FEBRUARY, 1926; Page-  355
  11. VOL. 36: 8 JULY, 1926 - 10 NOVEMBER, 1926; Page-  361
  12. VOL. 39: 4 JUNE, 1927 - 1 SEPTEMBER, 1927; Page-  345
  13. Hindi Navajivan, 8-9-1927
  14. VOL. 43: 10 SEPTEMBER, 1928 - 14 JANUARY, 1929; Page-  61
  15. Hindi Navajivan, 12-9-1929
  16. Young India, 14-11-1929
  17. VOL. 56: 16 JUNE, 1932 - 4 SEPTEMBER, 1932; Page-  152
  18. VOL. 66: 16 DECEMBER, 1934 - 24 APRIL, 1935; Page-  123
  19. VOL.71: 25 FEBRUARY, 1937- 5 JULY, 1937; Page-  183
  20. Sarvodaya, June 1942
  21. Harijan, 14-4-1946
  22. Harijan, 25-8-1946
  23. VOL.92: 9 AUGUST, 1946 - 6 NOVEMBER, 1946; Page-  227
  24. A TALK; June 26, 1947
  25. SPEECH AT PRAYER MEETING; December 8, 1947

 

 

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