SELECTED LETTERS FROM SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA
To C. F. Andrews
To C. F. Andrews
My dear Charlie,
I must indulge myself again. I begin to perceive a deep meaning behind the Japanese reluctance to listen to the message of a Prophet from a defeated nation.1 War will be always with us. There seems to be no possibility of the whole human nature becoming transformed. Moksha and Ahimsa [are] for individuals to attain. Full practice of Ahimsa is inconsistent with possession of wealth, land or rearing of children. There is a real Ahimsa in defending my wife and children even at the risk of striking down the wrongdoer. It is perfect Ahimsa not to strike him but intervene to receive his blows. India did neither on the field on Plassey. We were a cowardly mob warring against one another, hungering for the Company's2 silver and selling our souls for a mess of pottage. And so have we remained more or less-more rather than less-up to today. There was no Ahimsa in their miserable performance, notwithstanding examples of personal bravery and later corrections of the exaggerated accounts of those days. Yes, the Japanese reluctance was right. I do not know sufficiently what the fathers of old did. They suffered, I expect, not out of their weakness, but out of their strength. The rishis3 of old stipulated that their religious practices were to be protected by the Kshatriyas. Rama protected Vishwamitra from the rakshasas4 distributing his meditations. He could later on dispense with this protection. I find great difficulties in recruiting but do you know that not one man has yet objected because he would not kill. They object because they fear to die. This unnatural fear of death is ruining the nation. For the moment, I am simply thinking of the Hindus. Total disregard of death in a Mahomedan lad is a wonderful possession.
With deep love,
Source: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XIV, pp. 509-10.
1. The reference is to Rabindranath Tagore whose speech in Tokyo against Japan's imitating the West was greeted with unbecoming derision.
2. East India Company