of the prejudice
personally a devout Hindu, Gandhi turned more and more anti-Hindu, as his public
life progressed. The driving obsession of his political life was to throw the
British out of India. In order to do so, he was obsessed in his belief that
Hindu Muslim unity was essential. Whether he was justified or not in holding
these convictions would remain a matter of opinion. What however was a fact that
he again and again demonstrated his readiness to sacrifice or sell out Hindu
interests, Hindu honour and Hindu blood. For him, no price was too great for
appeasing Muslims, so that they did not oppose Hindus. That he did not
understand the Muslim mindset was proved by the conduct of the Muslim League and
by the vivisection of the country.
words of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Volume 8,
Government of Maharashtra, 1990:
never called the Muslims to account even when they have been guilty of gross
crimes against Hindus. It is a notorious fact that many prominent Hindus who had
offended the religious susceptibilities of the Muslims either by their writings
or by their part in the Shudhi movement have been murdered by some fanatic
Musalmans � The leading Moslems never condemned these criminals. On the
contrary, they were hailed as religious martyrs� This attitude of the Moslems
is quite understandable. What is not understandable is the attitude of Mr.
or Misguided Patriots
replying to a question about the tragedy of Sind at Shikarpur,
Gandhi had complimented the strength and bravery of the Muslims in
defending themselves, even though they were fewer in numbers. He had gone on to
say that the Hindus lacked the strength that came from non-violence or the
capacity to return blow for blow. Evidently,
no objection in
a Muslim using violence. When, however, it came to Hindu heroes like Guru Gobind
Singh, Ranjit Singh, Shivaji and Rana Pratap, he called them misguided patriots
in the context of the theory of non-violence as described at length by Gandhi
himself in Young India of 9 April 1925.
he was heading into a trap of contradictions, he went on to add that if he
himself was a contemporary and a fellow citizen of either Washington, Garibaldi
or Lenin, he would have called each one of them a misguided patriot. He was
answering a question asked by a revolutionary which read as follows:
Last of all, I shall ask you to answer three questions: Was Guru Gobind
Singh a misguided patriot, because he believed in warfare for noble cause? What
will you like to say about Washington, Garibaldi and Lenin? What do you think of
Kemal Pasha and De Valera? Would you like to call Shivaji and Pratap,
well meaning and sacrificing physicians who prescribed arsenic when they
should have given fresh grape juice? Will you call Krishna Europeanized because
he believed also in the vinasha of dushkritas?
it came to Sri Krishna, Gandhi, in the same article, changed his tune. He
I believe in Krishna perhaps more than the writer. But my Krishna is the
Lord of the Universe, the creator, preserver and destroyer of us all. He may
destroy because He creates.
this was due to the fear of God, or the fear of antagonizing all or most Hindus,
is a question that only Gandhi himself could answer. Nevertheless, no one can
deny that Sri Krishna masterminded the strategy of the Pandavas in the
Mahabharata war. Even if one is unfamiliar with the Mahabharata, the sermon of
the Bhagwad Gita is self-explanatory advice. That when the cause is rightful no
action, however violent, is wrong, even though it may
own brothers. This was the dharma preached by Sri Krishna to Arjun.
Gandhi has elsewhere praised the Gita to high heaven, and has himself, in
Gujarati, interpreted it in simple words for the common reader.
his theory of non-violence then an excuse for criticizing Hindu heroes, each of
whom fought relentlessly against Muslim conquerors of their time? Was there an
ulterior motive in Gandhi? Was he trying to appease the Muslims? Why were the
Ali Brothers so much on his mind, even as late as 1925, when the Khilafat
Movement had been shattered long before?
have successfully presented them to the Ali Brothers and many other friends.
(for text of complete letter, see annexure).
during 1925, Maulana Muhammad
the following to say about his erstwhile friend, Gandhi. This is quoted by R.C.
Majumdar in The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume 11,
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay:
pure Gandhi's character may be, he must appear to me from the point of view of
religion inferior to any Mussalman, even though he be without character. He
repeated it later, saying: Yes, according to my religion and creed, I hold an
adulterous and a fallen Mussalman to be better than Mr. (no longer Mahatma)
was reluctant to discuss Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Was it because he had removed the
Khalifa from the throne of Turkey and the Khilafat Movement was an
agitation to achieve the opposite i.e. to retain the Caliphate?
is now for the reader to judge and dispose. Islam draws no dividing line between
violence and non-violence. It is clear what is halal and what is haram.
But violence has not been called haram in any context. Yet, Gandhi even
from this specific angle, never criticized Islam. In fact, he praised Muslim
strength and bravery.
raised by the Revolutionary and answers given by the Mahatma
revolutionary whom I endeavoured to answer some time ago, has returned to the
charge and challenges me to answer certain questions that arise out of my
previous answers to him. I gladly do
so. He seems to me to be seeking light, even as I am, and argues fairly and
without much passion. So long as he continues to reason calmly, I promise to
continue the discussion, His first question is:
Do you really believe that the revolutionaries of India are less
sacrificing, less noble or less lovers of their country than the Swarajists,
Moderates and the Nationalists? May I challenge you to keep before the public
the names of
some Swarajists, Moderates or Nationalists who have embraced the death of
a martyr for the sake of the motherland? Can you be bold, nay, arrogant enough
to deny it in the face of historical facts that the revolutionaries have
sacrificed more for their country than any other party which professes to serve
India? You are ready to make compromises with other parties, while you abhor our
party and describe the(ir) sentiments as poison. Will you not tremble to use the
same word of intolerance for the sentiments of any other party which is
decidedly inferior in the eyes of God and men to us? What makes you shrink from
calling them misguided patriots or venomous reptiles?
do not regard the revolutionaries of India to be less sacrificing, less noble or
less lovers of their country than the rest. But I respectfully contend that
their sacrifice, nobility and love are not only a waste of effort, but being
ignorant and misguided, do and have done more harm to the country than any other
activity. For, the revolutionaries have retarded the progress of the
country. Their reckless disregard of the lives of their opponents has brought on
repression that has made those that do not take part in their warfare more
cowardly than they were before. Repression does good only to those who are
prepared for it. The masses are not
prepared for the
follows in the trail of revolutionary activities and unwittingly strengthen the
hands of the very Government which the revolutionaries are seeing to destroy. It
is my certain conviction that had the Chauri Chaura murders not taken place the
movement attempted at Bardoli would have resulted in the establishment of
swaraj. Is it, therefore, any wonder that with such opinion I call the
revolutionary a misguided and therefore, dangerous patriot?
I would call my son a misguided and dangerous nurse, who because of his
ignorance and blind love fought at the cost of his own life the physicians whose
system of medicine no doubt did me harm but which I could not escape for want of
will or ability. The result would be that I would lose a noble son and bring
down upon my head the wrath of the physicians who, suspecting my complicity in
the son's activities, might seek to punish me in addition to continuing
treatment. If the son had attempted to convince the physicians of their error,
or me of my weakness in submitting to the treatment, the physicians might have
mended their way, or I might have rejected the treatment, or would, at least,
have escaped the wrath of the physicians. I do make certain compromises with the
other parties because, though I disagree with them, I do not regard their
activities as positively harmful and dangerous as I regard the revolutionaries.
I have never called the revolutionaries �venomous reptiles�. But I
must refuse to fall into hysterics over their sacrifices, however great they may
be, even as I must refuse to give praise to the sacrifice in the illustration
supposed by me. I feel sure that those who through insufficient reasoning or
false sentiment, secretly or openly, give praise to the revolutionaries for
their sacrifices, do harm to them and the cause they have at heart. The writer
has asked me to quote instances of non-revolutionary patriots who gave their
lives for the country. Well, two completed cases occur to me as I write these
notes. Gokhale and Tilak died for their country. They worked in almost disregard
of their health and died much earlier than they need have. There is no necessary
charm about death on the gallows; often such death is easier than a life of
drudgery and toil in malarious tracts. I am quite satisfied that among the
Swarajists and others there are men who will any day lay down their lives if
they felt convinced that their death would bring deliverance to the country. I
suggest to my friend, the revolutionary, that death on the gallows serves the
country only when the victim is a �spotless lamb�.
�India's path is not Europe's�. Do you really believe it? Do you mean
to say that warfare and organization of army was not in existence in India,
before she came in contact with Europe? Warfare for fair cause - Is it against
the spirit of India? Vinashya cha dushkritam - Is it something imported
from Europe? Granted
that it is, will you be fanatic enough not to take from Europe what is
good? Do you believe that nothing good is possible in Europe? If conspiracy,
bloodshed and sacrifice for fair cause are bad for India, will they not be bad
as well as for Europe?
I do not
deny that India had armies, warfare, etc, before she came in contact with
Europe. But I do say that it never was the normal course of Indian life. The
masses, unlike those of Europe, were untouched by the warlike spirits. I have
already said in these pages that I ascribe to the Gita, from which the writer
has quoted the celebrated verse, a totally different meaning from that
ordinarily given. I do not regard it as a description of, or an exhortation to,
physical warfare. And, in any case, according to the verse quoted it is God the
All Knowing Who descends to the earth to punish the wicked. I must be pardoned
if I refuse to regard every revolutionary as an all-knowing God or an avatar. I
do not condemn everything European. But I condemn, for all climes and for all
times, secret murders and unfair methods even for a fair cause.
�India is not Calcutta and Bombay�. May I most
it before your Mahatmaship that the revolutionaries know the geography of
India enough to be able to know this geographical fact easily. We hold this fact
as much as we hold that a few spinners do not form the Indian nation. We are
entering villages and have been successful everywhere. Can you not believe that
they, the sons of Shivaji, Pratap and Ranjit, can appreciate our sentiments with
more readiness and depth than anything else? Don't you think that armed and
conspired resistance against something satanic and ignoble is infinitely more
befitting for any nation, especially Indian, than the prevalence of
effortlessness and philosophical cowardice? I mean the cowardice which is
pervading the length and breadth of India owing to the preaching of your theory
of non-violence or more correctly the wrong interpretation and misuse of it.
Non-violence is not the theory of the weak and helpless, it is the theory of the
strong. We want to produce such men in India, who will not shrink from death
it may come and in whatever form - will do the good and die. This is the
spirit with which we are entering the villages. We are not entering the villages
to extort votes for councils and district board, but our object is to secure
co-martyrs for the country who will die and a stone will not tell where his
corpse lies. Do you believe like Mazzini that ideas ripen quickly, when
nourished by the blood of martyrs?
It is not
enough to know the geographical difference between Calcutta and the villages
outside the railways. If the revolutionaries knew the organic difference between
these, they would, like me, become spinners. I own that the few spinners we
have, do not make India. But I claim that it is possible to make all India spin
as it did before, and so far as sympathy is concerned, millions are even now in
sympathy with the movement, but they will be with the revolutionary. I dispute
are succeeding with the villagers. But if they are, I am
sorry. I shall spare no pains to
frustrate their effort. Armed conspiracies against something satanic
is like matching satans against Satan. But since one Satan is one too many for
me, I would not multiply him. Whether my activity is effortlessness or all
efforts, remains perhaps to be seen. Meanwhile, if it has resulted in making two
yards of yarn spun where only one was spinning, it is so much to the good.
Cowardice, whether philosophical or otherwise, I abhor. And if I could be
persuaded that revolutionary activity has dispelled cowardice, it will go a long
way to soften my abhorrence of the method, however much I may still oppose it on
principle. But he who runs may see that owing to the non-violent movement, the
villagers have assumed a boldness to which only a few years ago they were
strangers. I admit that non-violence is a weapon essentially of the strong. I
also admit that often cowardice is mistaken for non-violence.
the question when he says
a revolutionary is one who
and dies�. That is precisely what I question.
In my opinion, he does the evil and dies. I do not regard killing or
assassination or terrorism as good in any circumstances whatsoever. I do believe
that ideas ripen quickly when nourished by the blood of martyrs. But a man who
dies slowly of jungle fever in service bleeds as certainly as the one on the
gallows. And if the one who dies on the gallows is not innocent of another's
blood, he never had ideas that deserved to ripen.
One of your objections against the revolutionaries is that their movement
is not mass movement, consequently the mass at large will be very little
benefited by the revolution, for which we are preparing. That is indirectly
saying that we shall be most benefited by it. Is it really what you mean to say?
Do you believe that those persons who are ever ready to die for their country -
those mad lovers of their country - I mean the revolutionaries of India in whom
the spirit of nishkama karma reigns, will betray their
secure privileges for a life - this trifling life? It is true
that we will not drag the mass just now in the field of action, because
we know that it is weak, but when the preparation is complete, we shall call
them in the open field. We profess to understand the present Indian psychology
full well, because we daily get the chance of weighing our brethren along with
ourselves. We know that the mass of India is after all Indian, it is not weak by
itself but there is want of efficient leaders; so when we have begot the number
of leaders required by constant propaganda and preaching, and the arms, we shall
not shrink from calling, and if necessary, dragging the mass in the open field
to prove that they are the descendants of Shivaji, Ranjit, Pratap and Gobind
Singh. Besides we have been constantly preaching that the mass is not for the
revolution but the revolution is for the mass. Is it sufficient to remove your
prejudice in this connection?
say nor imply that
the masses do not. On the contrary, and as a rule, the revolutionary never
benefits in the ordinary sense of the world. If the revolutionaries succeed in
attracting, not �dragging�, the masses to them, they will find that the
murderous campaign is totally unnecessary. It sounds very pleasant and exciting
to talk of �the descendants of Shivaji, Ranjit, Pratap and Gobind Singh�.
But is it true? Are we all descendants of these heroes in the sense in which the
writer understands it? We are their countrymen, but their descendants are the
military classes. We may, in future, be able to obliterate caste, but today it
persists and therefore the claim put up by the writer cannot in my opinion be
Last of all, I shall ask you to answer these questions: Was Guru Gobind
Singh a misguided patriot because he believed in warfare for noble cause? What
will you like to say about Washington, Garibaldi and Lenin? What do you think of
Kamal Pasha and De Valera? Would you like to call Shivaji and Pratap,
well-meaning and sacrificing physicians who prescribed arsenic when they should
have given fresh grape juice? Will you like to call Krishna Europeanized because
he believed also in the vinasha of dushkritas?
This is a
hard and rather awkward question. But I dare not shrink in it. In the first
and the others whose names
are mentioned did not believe in secret murder. In the second, these patriots
knew their work and their men, whereas the modern Indian revolutionary does not
know his work. He has not the men, he has not the atmosphere, that the patriots
mentioned had. Though my views are derived from my theory of life I have not put
them before the nation on that ground. I have based my opposition to the
revolutionaries on the sole ground of expedience. Therefore, to compare their
activities with those of Guru Gobind Singh or Washington or Garibaldi or Lenin
would be most misleading and dangerous. But my test of the theory of
non-violence, I do not hesitate to say that it is
highly likely that had I lived as their contemporary and in the respective
countries, I would have called everyone of them a misguided patriot, even though
a successful and brave warrior. As it is, I
must not judge them. I disbelieve history so far as details of acts of heroes
are concerned. I accept broad facts of history and draw my own lessons for my
conduct. I do not want to repeat it in so far as the broad facts contradict the
highest laws of life. But I positively refuse to judge men from the scanty
material furnished to us by history. De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
Kemal Pasha and De Valera too I cannot judge. But for me, as a believer in
non-violence out and out they cannot be my guides in life in so far as their
faith in war is concerned
I believe in Krishna perhaps
more than the writer. But my Krishna is the Lord of the universe, the creator,
preserver and destroyer of us all. He may destroy because He creates. But I must
not be drawn into a philosophical or religious argument with my friends. I have
not the qualifications for practicing the philosophy I believe. I am but a poor
struggling soul yearning to be wholly good - wholly truthful and wholly
non-violent in thought, word and deed, but ever failing to reach the ideal which
I know to be true. I admit, and assure my revolutionary friends, it is a painful
climb but the pain of it is a positive pleasure for me. Each step upward makes
me feel stronger and fit for the next. But all that pain and pleasure are for
me. The revolutionaries are at liberty to reject the whole of my philosophy, To
them I merely present my own experiences as co-worker in the same cause even as
I have successfully presented them to the Ali Brothers and many other friends.
They can and do applaud whole-heartedly the action of Mustafa Kemal Pasha and
possibly De Valera and Lenin. But they realize with me that India is not like
Turkey or Ireland or Russia and that revolutionary activity is suicidal at this
stage of the country's life at any rate, if not for all time in a country so
vast, so hopelessly divided and with the masses so deeply sunk in pauperism and
so fearfully terror-struck.
Abdul Rashid: Murderer and Brother
On 23 December, 1926, Swami Shraddhananda was murdered in Delhi by one
Abdul Rashid. The swami was recovering from an attack of pneumonia. He was in
his bed when the miscreant killed him with a dagger. In this context, Dr.
B.R. Ambedkar quotes from an article Through Indian Eyes (The Times of
India, 30 November, 1927): It is reported that earning merit for the soul of
Abdul Rashid, the murderer of Swami Shraddhananda, in the next world, the
students and professors of the famous Theological College of Deoband finished
five recitations of the Koran and had planned to finish daily a lakh and a
quarter of recitations of Koranic verses. Their prayer as God Almighty
may give the marhoom (i.e. Rashid) a place in the ala-e-illeeyeen
(the summit of the seventh heaven.
Mussalman also understand that Swami Shraddhanandaji was no enemy of Islam, that
his was a pure and unsullied life and that he has left for us all the lessons of
peace written in his blood �. I have called Adbul
Rashid a brother, and I repeat it, I do not even regard him as guilty of swami's
murder. (Rashid was sentenced to death and
hanged by the British rulers).
contrast to what Gandhi wrote about the Swami, Government of India issued in
1970 a commemorative stamp in honour of the swami. The leaflet inter-alia
says that the title of Mahatma on Gandhi was conferred by the Gurukul Kangri
Institute at Haridwar founded by the swami.
Shraddhanand was born at TaIwan (Jullundur) in 1913 (Vikram Era)
corresponding to 1856 A.D. in a well-known and well-to-do khatri family.
His father, Shri Nanak Chand was in the service of the East India Company.
Swamiji was originally given the name of �Brihaspati�, but later he
was called Munshi Ram by his father. This name continued to be in vogue
till he was initiated into �Sanyas�. He was the youngest in the
family. His school education began at Varanasi and ended at Lahore after
passing the examination for pleadership.
married to Shrimati Shiva Devi. His wife died when he was 35 years old
leaving behind her two sons and two daughters. Munshi Ram had started life
as a Naib Tehsildar but he relinquished this post after a short time as he
found the duties not consistent with his selfrespect. Later, he practised
as a pleader at Phillaur aud Jullundur but gave up this lucrative
profession also when the call came from Swami Dayanand Saraswati to serve
the Arya Samaj an appeal that he found irresistible.
the Gurukul at Kangri at Hardwar, a unique seat of learning in keeping
with the ideals of the Vedic seers. The underlying idea was to produce
good and disciplined citizens in the community completely imbued with
ancient Vedic ideals and a national outlook. This is the institution which
Ramsay Macdonald visited and where he likened Munshi Ram to a biblical
prophet walking the shores of Galilee. This is also the institution
towards which Mahatma Gandhi was first drawn while he was in South Africa
and where he stayed first on his return to India. It
was this institution which conferred on Gandhiji the title of the