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ASSOCIATES & DISCIPLES OF MAHATMA GANDHI > TRIBUTES BY MAHATMA GANDHI > Narayanswami, A.
Narayanswami, A.
Narayanswami is dead, but even in death he lives. He is no more in the body, but he has left an immortal name behind him. Birth and death are the common lot of all. If we consider the matter deeply, we shall realize that death, whether it comes early or late, should be no cause for grieving or rejoicing. On the contrary, to die in the service of the community or in the pursuit of some other good aim is in reality not to die but to live. Is there any patriotic Indian who will not be prepared to die for the sake of the motherland? Of course, none. So long as we do not have this [spirit] in us, we cannot claim to be patriotic.
Narayansamy suffered much. A voyage on the deck is full of hazards, all the more so if one has insufficient clothing and is handicapped in other ways. Narayansamy undertook such a voyage for the sake of the motherland. He has left the world, facing suffering till the end. We shall count him a true Satyagrahi. Terms in which we cannot speak of even the greatest Satyagrahi will be quite justified when applied to Narayansamy. He has died a perfect Satyagrahi. Even a staunch Satyagrahi will deserve our praise only when he has proved his worth to the full.
Nagappen achieved immortal fame in his death. And so has Narayansamy. While grieving with the members of his family on account of his death, we shall also congratulate them. All honor unto their mothers for having given birth to Nagappen and Narayansamy
Though we think thus Narayansamy died a hallowed death, so far as the Transvaal Government is concerned, it can be charged with legalized murder. If anyone places another person in circumstances which result in his death, the former may be charged with the latter's murder. This is just what has happened in Narayansamy's case. He and his companions were taken first from Durban to Port Elizabeth, thence to Cape Town, from Cape Town again to Durban and so on. There were innumerable difficulties about accommodation, clothing and food. If the Indian community had not provided the other Indians with clothing and food, they too would have been reduced to the same plight. In acting thus, the Transvaal Government has been guilty of extreme harshness and its harshness has resulted in Narayansamy's death. Hence we charge the Government with murder. Since no legal steps can be taken against it, though it is guilty of murder, we call this legal murder.
Nagappen and Narayansamy have thus left us. The Tamil community is laying the other Indians under an increasingly heavier debt. It is covering itself with greater glory day by day. How will it ever be possible after this to make an adequate return for the services of the Tamil community? Other Indians would do well to take a lesson from it and, copying its example, learn to suffer in silence for the sake of the motherland. The [Indian] community will disgrace itself if it fails to do this.
[From Gujarati]