Gandhi Mahatma : другие произведения.

Speech at Sevagram

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    Philosophy of the civil resistance. (Translation from Hindi. The collected works by Mahmatma Gandi. VOL. 81 : 18 AUGUST, 1941 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1942.

348. SPEECH AT SEVAGRAM by Mahatma Gandhi October 12, 1941.

I did not know that such a big crowd would collect here. It is good that it has. It is an auspicious augury that two crore eighty thousand yards of yarn and Rs. 12,000 have been collected from the (end of page 186, beginning of page 187) three divisions1 of Central Provinces.

I have received two letters from Agra Jail also. The prisoners there have spun a good deal of yarn. They did not have all the facilities for spinning. But after Dhirendra Majumdar had reached the Jail, how could he rest content without making everyone spin? He is one of the pillars of the Charkha Sangh. He was not expected to go to jail. But the Government sometimes becomes over-generous. It picks up some people without any ostensible reason.

Shri Maithilisharanji is also there. He too was arrested without any good reason. He is a famous poet and he has sent me a poem also. But today poetry does not flow from his pen; it flows from the yarn that he spins. I have sent him today a short reply2. In that letter, too, I have said that with every round of yarn he and his co-prisoners have spun, they have brought swaraj so much the nearer.

What I wrote to the poet is not mere rhetoric. I mean what I say. According to my definition, there cannot be true swaraj as long as there is exploitation. Mere change from British to Indian rule does not mean swaraj. As long as one class dominates over another, as long as the poor remain poor or become poorer, there will be no swaraj. In my swaraj the millions will live happily. They will get good food, decent house and enough clothing. By good food I do not mean that they will eat sweets. But everyone must get pure milk, pure ghee and sufficient fruit and vegetables. I know I am talking tall because the poor today do not even know what fruit is. During the mango season, they get a few mangoes and during the guava season they have a few guavas. They do not get any other fruit except these and a few other. They do not get even clean and nutritious foodgrain. They have to live on rotten rice, coarse grain and dirty salt. I wish everyone gets what they call a balanced diet as also a clean and comfortable house. This according to me is real freedom. I have written those words to Maithilisharanji with this kind of freedom in view.

We have never produced as much yarn as we have produced this year. The reports that I get from the prisons make me dance for joy. Maithilisharanji writes to me that in the Agra Jail his Communist companions also join in spinning although they have no respect for my views. No one compelled them. They started spinning on their own. This is the way of ahimsa. (1 Nagpur, Berar and Mahakoshal// 2 Vide the preceding item.) (end of page 187, beginning of page 188)

I have also received reports from the Gujrat (Punjab) jail. I am not suggesting that everyone spins. I have the names of those too who are not spinning. But those who spin are in a majority. I become more hopeful when I see these facts. I am an irrepressible optimist. But even I did not entertain such high hopes. The Congress Constitution does include the rule about khadi but till now the Congress Committee insisted on khadi only to conform to the rule. On this occasion, I believe, the work has been done with an element of faith. While I say all this, I am not so foolish as to believe that khadi is now on its feet. Whatever has been achieved is sufficient to strengthen my hope and my faith. But that is not enough for the growth of khadi. These are good omens. But they are not sufficient for the removal of poverty and unemployment. These problems cannot be solved as long as crores of people do not wear khadi. I have a dream that people will wear home-spun khadi just as they eat home-made food.

I am talking of these things because people continue to ask me one question. Even today I have received a letter. They all ask, "What will be the outcome of this struggle? It is very slow and has no effect on the Government. The Government does not seem to care. A large number of satyagrahis are wandering in the streets. They are not even arrested. How can such a struggle be effective?"

They may say what they like, but my feeling is that my fight is going on according to my plan. I am satisfied with its momentum. At present I do not want to increase it further. This does not mean that it will never gain momentum. When the occasion demands it will be accelerated. But this is not the occasion for it. Everything is good or bad in a particular context. There are occasions when mere bread is very useful. But when it is inopportune even jalebi1 is harmful. So when an opportune time comes, our fight will be intensified.

Some people expect a miracle this very day. In ahimsa there is no scope for such sudden miracles. Ahimsa does not admit of sudden spurts. But those who will can always see the miracles of ahimsa. We watch the sky every day but we see no miracles there. But those who have an eye for it are spellbound by the spectacle. They see new miracles every moment. And the sky is only a small fragment of Divine Power. That Divine Power is also the source of ahimsa which (1 A sweetmeat// end of page 188, beginning of page 189) works according to the Divine Law. That Law is so mysterious that even its miraculous effects do not appear to be such. They look like a natural course of events. Our non-violent struggle will also evolve according to the same Law. When independence comes through nonviolence it will blossom forth so naturally that we may never notice the miracle having taken place.

Some people say that this is the opportunity to pressurize the Government. From this point of view, they say, my present struggle of ahimsa is entirely lifeless. I want to point out to them that the contents of the Bombay Resolution1 are not mere prattle nor were they intended to bluff the world. The Congress is a responsible trustworthy organization. Its resolutions are serious, sincere and without exaggeration. The Bombay Resolution pins its faith on the policy of non-violence. It has a passage2 which should keep Congressmen always alert and watchful.

When the policy of non-violence has been so clearly stated in the Bombay Resolution, how can we say that England"s difficulty is our greatest opportunity? How can the Congress say that we should give her one more blow when England is herself collapsing? And who knows whether England is actually collapsing? Outwardly of course it looks like that. But I do not believe it. Appearances are not always real. During the Boer War also there was an occasion when it appeared that England was almost defeated but the situation took a sudden turn and she came out victorious.

Today also we do not know who is going to win. We do not want any one party to be defeated. We wish that all the warring parties should come to terms and live like brothers. How can you expect me to say that either Germany or Russia or Britain and America should be defeated? I would pray that no one is defeated and they all live like brothers.

Ahimsa dictates : "Consider no one your enemy. Love even him who considers you his enemy." How can we then think of taking advantage of England"s predicament?

You may say, "Then we are sure to be destroyed. We will suffer defeat at the hands of the British." This betrays lack of faith. A (1 Vide "To Satyagrahis", 2-10-1940.// 2 Which reads : "They can have no ill will against them (the Britishers), and the spirit of satyagraha forbids the Congress from doing anything with a view to embarass them."// end of page 189, beginning of page 190) follower of non-violence suffers defeat at no one"s hands. I may repeat once again that "defeat" has no place in the dictionary of ahimsa. Victory and defeat are the results of violent war. In ahimsa there is only victory and nothing else. At the moment I cannot tell you how our ahimsa is ultimately going to succeed. Not to embarrass Britain does not mean that we should help them. They are resorting to violent methods. We have to stand firm on our principle of ahimsa. This will no doubt create some difficulty for them. But we cannot help it. How can we give up a principle which is bound to lead to the welfare of the world including that of Britain? But if we violate our principle, we shall be guilty of violence. I wish you to keep this in mind.

People ask me, "What will be the outcome of this satyagraha? All types of people, good, bad and indifferent, have joined it. Even cheats and rogues are courting arrest in the name of satyagraha." I know there is not a single province where undesirable men have not courted arrest. But I also know that there is not a single province where people who measure up to my standards have not gone to jail. That is why I have not launched a mass movement. If I launch a mass movement, people may perhaps jump into it. What will the British do in that case? They will enact another Jallianwala Bagh. I am not afraid of it, but I do not want to give them an opportunity to do so. If we remain strictly non-violent and then they force a Jallianwala upon us, I could not care less.

But I say once again that it will be a good omen for India if even a handful of men whom we know to be true remain steadfast to their pledge. That will pave the way for an all-out non-violent struggle.

All this needs an element of honesty. It is a primary condition. Those Congressmen who have to faith in khadi, who decry untouchability in public but observe it in their homes, who, being Hindus, hate the Muslims, or who, being Muslims, hate the non- Muslims, do not deserve to be satyagrahis. Such persons cannot help our cause even by going to jail. They are like thieves and dacoits who also go to jail. They are not satyagrahis but only law-breakers. They cannot produce any wholesome results. Why should they go to jail disrupting their homes and forgoing their income? We wish that only a handful of satyagrahis should go to jail; but their conduct should be such as to produce a moral effect. (end of page 190, beginning of page 191) Civil disobedience is a powerful weapon. But for employing it, we must fulfil the thirteen-point constructive programme1 which I have outlined. Till then this weapon cannot be effective. I know that the crores of people in India cannot court arrest. Nor is that necessary. But it is essential that crores of people should have faith in the constructive programme. Khadi is the pivot of the constructive programme. It is essential that crores of people should wear khadi; they should not wear foreign or mill-made cloth and they should not observe any untouchability. If they are not prepared to do even this, how can freedom be won through ahimsa? What right do they have to desire freedom, who are not prepared to take even a little trouble? If we wish to win swaraj through ahimsa, this is the only way. If, however, we wish to use force, then Hitler would point the way. There are only two courses open-either Hitler"s, that is, the way of violence, or mine, that is, the way of non-violence. Hitlerism and Churchillism are in fact the same thing. The difference of only one of degree. By presenting this yarn and this money to me, you are telling me that you do not want to tread the path of violence. It is my belief that a time will come when everyone in India will realize that the only correct course is to follow ahimsa. The day is soon arriving for khadi when the entire country will be convinced that any cloth other than khadi must be discarded. I shall utilize all the money I have received on the occasion of Khadi Jayanti for encouraging khadi. People ask me, "Why do you not ulitize this money for Congress work?" In a way khadi work is also Congress work. But it is only the parliamentary programme or the movement against the Government that people regard as Congress work. This is a wrong notion. This amount will be utilized only for khadi work.

It is to be considered how this money received from the three divisions of the Central Provinces is to be utilized for the purposes of khadi. These three divisions may jointly or separately send schemes for their areas. Jajuji2 will welcome and give them due consideration. If we do not accept these schemes, we shall give reasons for rejecting them.

Many people send yarn to me by post. I do not understand why they do so. The amount spent on postage is more than the value of the (1 Vide "Implications of Constructive Program", 13-8-1940// 2 Shrikrishnadas Jaju// end of page 191, beginning of page 192) yarn. I wish people would send me ready-made khadi. Even from the jail they should send khadi woven out of yarn spun by them. Today people ply the charkha. But I wish that they learn operating the handloom. They should send me woven khadi. I do not need khadi for myself. I have enough khadi for my personl use. Hence it would be all right if people weave khadi and send it to the Charkha Sangh of their own Province, though, from one point of view, it is better to sent it to me so that I may know how the work is progressing from year to year both in quantity as well as in quality. As years pass the quality of our yarn should improve. But they should not pay railway freight in sending the yarn to me. Only khadi should reach me. It would be enough if just a specimen is sent to me.

All of us should devote greater energy and talent to khadi work. This can be done even in jail.

Those who have been to prison once have to go there again and again. There is no question of going back. It does not mean that we shall do so indiscriminately. We shall have to use our discretion. How can we send to prison again a person whose health has been shattered during imprisonment in spite of the best efforts? It will be a kind of violence.

Some people ask me : "Why should the same persons go to jail again and again? Why not select new men so that the satyagraha continues without causing much strain?" I have already said that a non-violent war has its own strategy. We cannot follow Hitlerian tactics. A barbaric war is being fought in Europe with large-scale massacres. Young, old, even invalids, are being annihilated. Even barbaric war demands sacrifices. In a non-violent war there is no scope for sacrifices on such a gigantic scale. Here we seek to employ moral pressure. This will entail sacrifices on the part of a select few. We have not been called upon to make any great sacrifices till now. What are our sacrifices worth if we are not prepared to face even the hardship of prison life time and again?

There is one other question. Should we carry on the struggle within the four walls of the prison? Many problems arise there also. The matter of A, B and C classes creates much bitterness. What should we do there? These classes are a creation of Congressmen themselves. I am convinced that these classes will ultimately be abolished. In the mean time, there is much scope for improvement in the diet of C class prisoners. I have already said that doctors can bring about the much needed improvement in this matter if they so desire. But granting that the doctors cannot do anything, even then this struggle will have to continue. The satyagrahis will repeatedly go to prison. Prison life will be full of hardships. It will mean starvation and even if it causes death in some cases I shall be prepared to face that eventuality. We should all be ready for it.

We have simply on other course open to us. Our war demands sacrifices, hardships and suffering. That is how the war of ahimsa is waged.

[From Hindi]
Sarvodaya, November 1941

Copyright expired since the document is pretty old. But, in order to avoid errors and misundertstandings, at the reuse, please, attribute the source: THE COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI. VOL. 81 : 18 AUGUST, 1941 - 8 FEBRUARY, 1942. p.186-193.

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