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SATYAGRAHA / CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE > Speech at Navagam
Speech At Navagam
March 13, 1930
As I enter the Kheda District, memories—some sweet, some bitter—fill the mind. It was while working in the Kheda District that I became one with the lives of people. I have seen nearly all the villages here. I covered many of them on foot. I have come to Navagam in the middle of a battle. This is our third halt: Aslali was the first, Bareja was the second and Navagam now is the third. Vallabhbhai had great expectations of the Kheda District. Having been arrested in this district, he has won glory for himself.
The Government found some pretext or other to arrest Vallabhbhai. It knew well that his, and not the Government's, right would prevail in Kheda if he was free. Pressure was brought to bear on the Magistrate somehow to serve a notice on Sardar, and he was arrested. What could a poor Magistrate do where the entire atmosphere is vitiated? We do not yet have the necessary spirit of self-sacrifice and the necessary self-confidence for anyone of us to tell the Government that he would not issue such a notice. What does it matter that a person receives salary from the Government? And, moreover, who pays that salary? Who am I to explain to the Magistrate that it is God who does that? How can I do it? To the Magistrate the Government is God, the protector, and everything.
The Patidars and the Dharalas, the two principal communities of the Kheda District, are both courageous. What will they do to fight this Government? Before I ask the question, I have to congratulate you all. All the Matadars here have shown great courage in my presence and stated that they would not accept the Headman s office, with the result that the latter has now resigned. I congratulate you on your resignations. If you have been offering resignations under pressure from anyone, I must ask you to withdraw them. Not only will that cause me no pain, but I will protect you against those who might try to force you to resign. This fight is based on truth. I want no victory with unworthy help.
It is after many days and nights of heart-searching that I have decided to stake my life on this last struggle, and to take my co-workers with me so that they, too, may sacrifice their lives. I depend on truth alone for winning this war. I shall be happy if I have your support in that. It will make no difference to me even if you do not resign.
When we win swaraj, even a scavenger will be free to take Vallabhbhai to task. When he was in jail Vallabhbhai used to ask whom he could fight when all officials from the peon upward were Indians. You should remember this. With the present Government might is right. But, against me, its guns and gunpowder are no more than dust or pebbles. Your present duty is to show the Government your strength through your work.
Be true to your word, Headman and Matadars, if you are bent on winning complete independence. You should remember and act upon Tulsidas's words:
"The way of the Raghus it has been ever,
Life may be lost but a pledge never."
Before all these present here I remind you of this. Listen to me and if you so feel, admit truthfully that you do not have the strength to resign. The people of the Kheda District have bathed me in their love. No resident of this district should first give me a promise and then stab me in the back.
I shall regard you as brave men if you truthfully withdraw your resignations, and also if you truthfully adhere to them.
In the present struggle, which we have started to establish Ramarajya, both the poor and the rich are ready to give me monetary help, but I look up to the people for strengthening me. You will have redoubled my strength when, following me, you come forward to manufacture salt. By leading you along my path, I wish to bring swaraj to one and all among us. I may ask for your resignations or for money from you; but for the present I am asking for soldiers for this fight. Civil disobedience of the salt law is within the power of all—men and women, young and old.
I have gone through the figure regarding Navagam. In the population numbering a thousand, only one person is a habitual khadi-wearer and there is just one spinning-wheel to swear by. I ask you now to take a vow to produce and wear khadi. That way you will save Rs. 5,000 a year. By working at the spinning-wheel, women too will be adding to their power greatly.
Remember that in the resignations you have handed in I see God's hand. The Kheda District has made an auspicious beginning. I have embarked on this last struggle of my life because God wishes to make me His instrument for this work. The life of this skeleton which is addressing you is God, and it does whatever good He desires. Let us now part with Ramanama on our lips.
Prajabandhu, 16-3-1930