Mahatma Gandhi.

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India to take over the Indian administration as a going concern and work
it for the benefit and advancement of the Nation?"

Mr. Gandhi answered the question with an emphatic affirmative. "My
experience during the last months fills me with the hope," continued Mr.
Gandhi, "that within the nine months that remain of the year in which I
have expected Swaraj for India we shall redress the two wrongs and we
shall see Swaraj established in accordance with the wishes of the people
of India."

"Where will the present Government be at the end of the nine months?"
Asked the _Times_ representative.

Mr. Gandhi, with a significant smile, said: "The lion will then lie with
the lamb."

_Young India, December, 1920._


THE ATTAINMENT OF SWARAJ

Mr. Gandhi in moving his resolution on the creed before the Congress,
said, "The resolution which I have the honour to move is as follows: The
object of the Indian National Congress is the attainment of Swarajya by
the people of India by all legitimate and peaceful means."

There are only two kinds of objections, so far as I understand, that
will be advanced from this platform. One is that we may not to-day think
of dissolving the British connection. What I say is that it is
derogatory to national dignity to think of permanence of British
connection at any cost. We are labouring under a grievous wrong, which
it is the personal duty of every Indian to get redressed. This British
Government not only refused to redress the wrong, but it refuses to
acknowledge _its_ mistake and so long as it retains its attitude, it is
not possible for us to say all that we want to be or all that we want to
get, retaining British connection. No matter what difficulties be in our
path, we must make the clearest possible declaration to the world and to
the whole of India, that we may not possibly have British connection, if
the British people will not do this elementary justice. I do not, for
one moment, suggest that we want to end at the British connection at all
costs, unconditionally. If the British connection is for the advancement
of India, we do not want to destroy it. But if it is inconsistent with
our national self respect, then it is our bounden duty to destroy it.
There is room in this resolution for both - those who believe that, by
retaining British connection, we can purify ourselves and purify British
people, and those who have no belief. As for instance, take the extreme
case of Mr. Andrews. He says all hope for India is gone for keeping the
British connection. He says there must be complete severance - complete
independence. There is room enough in this creed for a man like Mr.
Andrews also. Take another illustration, a man like myself or my brother
Shaukat Ali. There is certainly no room for us, if we have eternally to
subscribe to the doctrine, whether these wrongs are redressed or not, we
shall have to evolve ourselves within the British Empire; there is no
room for me in that creed. Therefore this creed is elastic enough to
take in both shades of opinions and the British people will have to
beware that, if they do not want to do justice, it will be the bounden
duty of every Indian to destroy the Empire.

I want just now to wind up my remarks with a personal appeal, drawing
your attention to an object lesson that was presented in the Bengal
camp yesterday. If you want Swaraj, you have got a demonstration of how
to get Swaraj. There was a little bit of skirmish, a little bit of
squabble, and a little bit of difference in the Bengal camp, as there
will always be differences so long as the world lasts. I have known
differences between husband and wife, because I am still a husband; I
have noticed differences between parents and children, because I am
still a father of four boys, and they are all strong enough to destroy
their father so far as bodily struggle is concerned; I possess that
varied experience of husband and parent; I know that we shall always
have squabbles, we shall always have differences but the lesson that I
want to draw your attention to is that I had the honour and privilege of
addressing both the parties. They gave me their undivided attention and
what is more they showed their attachment, their affection and their
fellowship for me by accepting the humble advice that I had the honour
of tendering to them, and I told them I am not here to distribute
justice that can be awarded only through our worthy president. But I ask
you not to go to the president, you need not worry him. If you are
strong, if you are brave, if you are intent upon getting Swaraj, and if
you really want to revise the creed, then you will bottle up your rage,
you will bottle up all the feelings of injustice that may rankle in
your hearts and forget these things here under this very roof and I told
them to forget their differences, to forgot the wrongs. I don't want to
tell you or go into the history of that incident. Probably most of you
know. I simply want to invite your attention to the fact. I don't say
they have settled up their differences. I hope they have but I do know
that they undertook to forget the differences. They undertook not to
worry the President, they undertook not to make any demonstration here
or in the Subjects Committee. All honour to those who listened to
that advice.

I only wanted my Bengali friends and all the other friends who have come
to this great assembly with a fixed determination to seek nothing but
the settlement of their country, to seek nothing but the advancement of
their respective rights, to seek nothing but the conservation of the
national honour. I appeal to every one of you to copy the example set by
those who felt aggrieved and who felt that their heads were broken. I
know, before we have done with this great battle on which we have
embarked at the special sessions of the Congress, we have to go
probably, possibly through a sea of blood, but let it not be said of us
or any one of us that we are guilty of shedding blood, but let it be
said by generations yet to be born that we suffered, that we shed not
somebody's blood but our own, and so I have no hesitation in saying that
I do not want to show much sympathy for those who had their heads
broken or who were said to be even in danger of losing their lives. What
does it matter? It is much better to die at the hands, at least, of our
own countrymen. What is there to revenge ourselves about or upon. So I
ask everyone of you that if at any time there is blood-boiling within
you against some fellow countrymen of yours, even though he may be in
the employ of Government, though he may be in the Secret Service, you
will take care not to be offended and not to return blow for blow.
Understand that the very moment you return the blow from the detective,
your cause is lost. This is your non-violent campaign. And so I ask
everyone of you not to retaliate but to bottle up all your rage, to
dismiss your rage from you and you will rise graver men. I am here to
congratulate those who have restrained themselves from going to the
President and bringing the dispute before him.

Therefore I appeal to those who feel aggrieved to feel that they have
done the right thing in forgetting it and if they have not forgotten I
ask them to try to forget the thing; and that is the object lesson to
which I wanted to draw your attention if you want to carry this
resolution. Do not carry this resolution only by an acclamation for this
resolution, but I want you to accompany the carrying out of this
resolution with a faith and resolve which nothing on earth can move.
That you are intent upon getting Swaraj at the earliest possible moment
and that you are intent upon getting Swaraj by means that are
legitimate, that are honourable and by means that are non-violent, that
are peaceful, you have resolved upon, so far you can say to-day. We
cannot give battle to this Government by means of steel, but we can give
battle by exercising, what I have so often called, "soul force" and soul
force is not the prerogative of one man of a Sanyasi or even a so-called
saint. Soul force is the prerogative of every human being, female or
male and therefore I ask my countrymen, if they want to accept this
resolution, to accept it with that firm determination and to understand
that it is inaugurated under such good and favourable auspices as I have
described to you.

In my humble opinion, the Congress will have done the rightest thing, if
it unanimously adopts this resolution. May God grant that you will pass
this resolution unanimously, may God grant that you will also have the
courage and the ability to carry out the resolution and that within one
year.


V. HINDU MOSLEM UNITY


[A dialogue between Editor and reader on the Hindu-Moslem Unity - _Indian
Home Rule_.]


THE HINDUS AND THE MAHOMEDANS.

EDITOR: Your last question is a serious one, and yet, on careful
consideration, it will be found to be easy of solution. The question
arises because of the presence of the railways of the lawyers, and of
the doctors. We shall presently examine the last two. We have already
considered the railways. I should, however, like to add that man is so
made by nature as to require him to restrict his movements as far as his
hands and feet will take him. If we did not rush about from place to
place by means of railways such other maddening conveniences, much of
the confusion that arises would be obviated. Our difficulties are of our
own creation. God set a limit to a man's locomotive ambition in the
construction of his body. Man immediately proceeded to discover means of
overriding the limit. God gifted man with intellect that he might know
his Maker. Man abused it, so that he might forget his Maker. I am so
constructed that I can only serve my immediate neighbours, but, in my
conceit, I pretend to have discovered that I must with my body serve
every individual in the Universe. In thus attempting the impossible, man
comes in contact with different natures, different religions, and is
utterly confounded. According to this reasoning, it must be apparent to
you that railways are a most dangerous institution. Man has therefore
gone further away from his Maker.

READER: But I am impatient to hear your answer to my question. Has the
introduction of Mahomedanism not unmade the nation?

EDITOR: India cannot cease to be one nation because people belonging to
different religions live in it. The introduction of foreigners does not
necessarily destroy the nation, they merge in it. A country is one
nation only when such a condition obtains in it. That country must have
a faculty for assimilation. India has ever been such a country. In
reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals, but those
who are conscious of the spirit of nationality do not interfere with one
another's religion. If they do, they are not fit to be considered a
nation. If the Hindus believe that India should be peopled only by
Hindus, they are living in dreamland. The Hindus, the Mahomedans, the
Parsees and the Christians who have made India their country are fellow
countrymen, and they will have to live in unity if only for their own
interest. In no part of the world are one nationality and one religion
synonymous terms: nor has it ever been so in India.

READER: But what about the inborn enmity between Hindus and Mahomedans?

EDITOR: That phrase has been invented by our mutual enemy. When the
Hindus and Mahomedans fought against one another, they certainly spoke
in that strain. They have long since ceased to fight. How, then, can
there be any inborn enmity? Pray remember this, too, that we did not
cease to fight only after British occupation. The Hindus flourished
under Moslem sovereigns, and Moslems under the Hindu. Each party
recognised that mutual fighting was suicidal, and that neither party
would abandon its religion by force of arms. Both parties, therefore,
decided to live in peace. With the English advent the quarrels
recommenced.

The proverbs you have quoted were coined when both were fighting; to
quote them now is obviously harmful. Should we not remember that many
Hindus and Mahomedans own the same ancestors, and the same blood runs
through their veins? Do people become enemies because they change their
religion? Is the God of the Mahomedan different from the God of the
Hindu? Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What
does it matter that we take different roads, so long as we reach the
same goal? Wherein is the cause for quarrelling?

Moreover, there are deadly proverbs as between the followers of Shiva
and those of Vishnu, yet nobody suggests that these two do not belong to
the same nation. It is said that the Vedic religion is different from
Jainism, but the followers of the respective faiths are not different
nations. The fact is that we have become enslaved, and, therefore,
quarrel and like to have our quarrels decided by a third party. There
are Hindu iconoclasts as there are Mahomedan. The more we advance in
true knowledge, the better we shall understand that we need not be at
war with those whose religion we may not follow.

READER: Now I would like to know your views about cow protection.

EDITOR: I myself respect the cow, that is, I look upon her with
affectionate reverence. The cow is the protector of India, because, it
being an agricultural country, is dependent on the cow's progeny. She is
a most useful animal in hundreds of ways. Our Mahomedan brethren will
admit this.

But, just as I respect the cow so do I respect my fellow-men. A man is
just as useful as a cow, no matter whether he be a Mahomedan or a Hindu.
Am I, then to fight with or kill a Mahomedan in order to save a cow? In
doing so, I would become an enemy as well of the cow as of the
Mahomedan. Therefore, the only method I know of protecting the cow is
that I should approach my Mahomedan brother and urge him for the sake of
the country to join me in protecting her. If he would not listen to me,
I should let the cow go for the simple reason that the matter is beyond
my ability. If I were over full of pity for the cow, I should sacrifice
my life to save her, but not take my brother's. This, I hold, is the law
of our religion.

When men become obstinate, it is a difficult thing. If I pull one way,
my Moslem brother will pull another. If I put on a superior air, he will
return the compliment. If I bow to him gently, he will do it much, more
so, and if he does not, I shall not be considered to have done wrong in
having bowed. When the Hindus became insistent, the killing of cows
increased. In my opinion, cow protection societies may be considered cow
killing societies. It is a disgrace to us that we should need such
societies. When we forgot how to protect cows, I suppose we needed such
societies.

What am I to do when a blood-brother is on the point of killing a cow?
Am I to kill him, or to fall down at his feet and implore him? If you
admit that I should adopt the latter course I must do the same to my
Moslem brother. Who protects the cow from destruction by Hindus when
they cruelly ill-treat her? Whoever reasons with the Hindus when they
mercilessly belabour the progeny of the cow with their sticks? But this
has not prevented us from remaining one nation.

Lastly, if it be true that the Hindus believe in the doctrine of
non-killing, and the Mahomedans do not, what, I pray, is the duty of the
former? It is not written that a follower of the religion of Ahimsa
(non-killing) may kill a fellow-man. For him the way is straight. In
order to save one being, he may not kill another. He can only
plead - therein lies his sole duty.

But does every Hindu believe in Ahimsa? Going to the root of the matter,
not one man really practises such a religion, because we do destroy
life. We are said to follow that religion because we want to obtain
freedom from liability to kill any kind of life. Generally speaking, we
may observe that many Hindus partake of meat and are not, therefore,
followers of Ahimsa. It is, therefore, preposterous to suggest that the
two cannot live together amicably because the Hindus believe in Ahimsa
and the Mahomedans do not.

These thoughts are put into our minds by selfish and false religious
teachers. The English put the finishing touch. They have a habit of
writing history; they pretend to study the manners and customs of all
peoples, God has given us a limited mental capacity, but they usurp the
function of the Godhead and indulge in novel experiments. They write
about their own researches in most laudatory terms and hypnotise us into
believing them. We in our ignorance, then fall at their feet.

Those who do not wish to misunderstand things may read up the Koran, and
will find therein hundreds of passages acceptable to the Hindus; and the
Bhagavad Gita contains passages to which not a Mahomedan can take
exception. Am I to dislike a Mahomedan because there are passages in the
Koran I do not understand or like? It takes two to make a quarrel. If I
do not want to quarrel with a Mahomedan, the latter will be powerless to
foist a quarrel on me, and, similarly, I should be powerless if a
Mahomedan refuses his assistance to quarrel with me. An arm striking the
air will become disjointed. If everyone will try to understand the core
of his own religion and adhere to it, and will not allow false teachers
to dictate to him, there will be no room left for quarrelling.

READER: But, will the English ever allow the two bodies to join hands?

EDITOR: This question arises out of your timidity. It betrays our
shallowness. If two brothers want to live in peace, is it possible for a
third party to separate them? If they were to listen to evil counsels,
we would consider them to be foolish. Similarly, we Hindus and
Mahomedans would have to blame our folly rather than the English, if we
allowed them to put asunder. A clay pot would break through impact; if
not with one stone, thou with another. The way to save the pot is not to
keep it away from the danger point, but to bake it so that no stone
would break it. We have then to make our hearts of perfectly baked clay.
Then we shall be steeled against all danger. This can be easily done by
the Hindus. They are superior in numbers, they pretend that they are
more educated, they are, therefore, better able to shield themselves
from attack on their amicable relations with the Mahomedans.

There is a mutual distrust between the two communities. The Mahomedans,
therefore, ask for certain concessions from Lord Morley. Why should the
Hindus oppose this? If the Hindus desisted, the English would notice it,
the Mahomedans would gradually begin to trust the Hindus, and
brotherliness would be the outcome. We should be ashamed to take our
quarrels to the English. Everyone can find out for himself that the
Hindus can lose nothing be desisting. The man who has inspired
confidence in another has never lost anything in this world.

I do not suggest that the Hindus and the Mahomedans will never fight.
Two brothers living together often do so. We shall sometimes have our
heads broken. Such a thing ought not to be necessary, but all men are
not equi-minded. When people are in a rage, they do many foolish things.
These we have to put up with. But, when we do quarrel, we certainly do
not want to engage counsel and to resort to English or any law-courts.
Two men fight; both have their heads broken, or one only. How shall a
third party distribute justice amongst them? Those who fight may expect
to be injured.


HINDU-MAHOMEDAN UNITY

Mr. Candler some time ago asked me in an imaginary interview whether if
I was sincere in my professions of Hindu-Mahomedan Unity. I would eat
and drink with a Mahomedean and give my daughter in marriage to a
Mahomedan. This question has been asked again by some friends in another
form. Is it necessary for Hindu Mahomedan Unity that there should he
interdining and intermarrying? The questioners say that if the two are
necessary, real unity can never take place because crores of _Sanatanis_
would never reconcile themselves to interdining, much less to
intermarriage.

I am one of those who do not consider caste to be a harmful institution.
In its origin caste was a wholesome custom and promoted national
well-being. In my opinion the idea that interdining or intermarrying is
necessary for national growth, is a superstition borrowed from the West.
Eating is a process just as vital as the other sanitary necessities of
life. And if mankind had not, much to its harm, made of eating a fetish
and indulgence we would have performed the operation of eating in
private even as one performs the other necessary functions of life in
private. Indeed the highest culture in Hinduism regards eating in that
light and there are thousands of Hindus still living who will not eat
their food in the presence of anybody. I can recall the names of several
cultured men and women who ate their food in entire privacy but who
never had any illwill against anybody and who lived on the friendliest
terms with all.

Intermarriage is a still more difficult question. If brothers and
sisters can live on the friendliest footing without ever thinking of
marrying each other, I can see no difficulty in my daughter regarding
every Mahomedan brother and _vice versa_. I hold strong views on
religion and on marriage. The greater the restraint we exercise with
regard to our appetites whether about eating or marrying, the better we
become from a religious standpoint. I should despair of ever cultivating
amicable relations with the world, if I had to recognise the right or
the propriety of any young man offering his hand in marriage to my
daughter or to regard it as necessary for me to dine with anybody and
everybody. I claim that I am living on terms of friendliness with the
whole world. I have never quarrelled with a single Mahomedan or
Christian but for years I have taken nothing but fruit in Mahomedan or
Christian households. I would most certainly decline to eat food cooked
from the same plate with my son or to drink water out of a cup which his
lips have touched and which has not been washed. But the restraint or
the exclusiveness exercised in these matters by me has never affected
the closest companionship with the Mahomedan or the Christian friends
or my sons.

But interdining and intermarriage have never been a bar to disunion,
quarrels and worse. The Pandavas and the Kauravas flew at one another's
throats without compunction although they interdined and intermarried.
The bitterness between the English and the Germans has not yet died out.

The fact is that intermarriage and interdining are not necessary factors
in friendship and unity though they are often emblems thereof. But
insistence on either the one or the other can easily become and is
to-day a bar to Hindu-Mahomedan Unity. If we make ourselves believe that
Hindus and Mahomedans cannot be one unless they interdine or intermarry,
we would be creating an artificial barrier between us which it might be
almost impossible to remove. And it would seriously interfere with the
flowing unity between Hindus and Mahomedans if, for example, Mahomedan
youths consider it lawful to court Hindu girls. The Hindu parents will
not, even if they suspected any such thing, freely admit Mahomedans to
their homes as they have begun to do now. In my opinion it is necessary
for Hindu and Mahomedan young men to recognise this limitation.

I hold it to be utterly impossible for Hindus and Mahomedans to
intermarry and yet retain intact each other's religion. And the true
beauty of Hindu-Mahomedan Unity lies in each remaining true to his own
religion and yet being true to each other. For, we are thinking of
Hindus and Mahomedans even of the most orthodox type being able to
regard one another as natural friends instead of regarding one another
as natural enemies as they have done hitherto.

What then does the Hindu-Mahomedan Unity consist in and how can it be
best promoted? The answer is simple. It consists in our having a common
purpose, a common goal and common sorrows. It is best promoted by
co-operating to reach the common goal, by sharing one another's sorrow
and by mutual toleration. A common goal we have. We wish this great
country of ours to be greater and self-governing.[4] We have enough
sorrows to share and to-day seeing that the Mahomedans are deeply
touched on the question of Khilafat and their case is just, nothing can
be so powerful for winning Mahomedans friendship for the Hindu as to
give his whole-hearted support to the Mahomedan claim. No amount of
drinking out of the same cup or dining out of the same bowl can bind the


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Online LibraryMahatma GandhiFreedom's Battle Being a Comprehensive Collection of Writings and Speeches on the Present Situation → online text (page 8 of 19)