You are here:
ONLINE BOOKS > GANDHI AND COMMUNAL PROBLEMS > The causes of Communal Riots > Psychology of fear
17. PSYCHOLOGY OF FEAR
"There is no doubt in my mind that in the majority of quarrels the Hindus come out second best. My own experience but confirms the opinion that the Musalman as a rule is a bully, and the Hindu as rule is a coward. I have notices this in railways trains, on public roads, and in the quarrels which I have had the privilege of setting. Need the Hindu blame the Musalman for his cowardice?
Quarrels must break out so long as the Hindus continue to be seized with fear. Bullies are always to be found where there are cowards. The Hindus must understand no one can afford them protection if they go on hugging fear.
Running away for fear of death, leaving one’s dear ones, temples or music to take care of themselves, is irreligion; it is cowardice. It is not manly, it is unmanly. Non-violence is the virtue of the manly. The coward is innocent of it.
The remedy against cowardice is not physical culture but the braving of dangers. So long as the parents of the a middle class Hindus, themselves timid, continue to transmit their timidity by keeping their grown-up children in cotton wool, so long will there be the desire to shun danger and run no risks. They will have to dare to leave their children alone. Let them run risks and even at times get killed in so doing. The puniest individual may have a stout heart. The most muscular Zulus cower before English lads. Each village has to find out its stout hearts.

Cure of Cowardice
It is common cause between the correspondent and myself that the average Hindu is a coward. How is he to be turned into a brave man? Is he to become brave by muscular development or by developing the bravery of the soul? My correspondent says, ‘The world has no place for the weak’. He means, I imagine, ‘physically weak’. If so, the proposition is unsound. There are many animals physically stronger than man and yet man lives. Many muscular races have died out and some of them are even now in the process of dying out. the proposition should therefore be, so far as man is concerned, ‘The world has no place for the weak in spirit’.

Non-violence Vs. Violence
Fear of man argues want in faith in god. Only he trusts to his physical strength who has no faith or very little faith in God’s omnipresence. The Hindu must cultivate either of these two faiths in God, or faith in one’s physical might. If he does neither, it will spell the ruin of the community.
The first, viz, reliance on God and shaking off the fear of man, is the way of non-violence and is the best way.
The second, viz, reliance on one’s physical might, is the way of violence. Both have a place in the world. It is open to us to choose either. One man can not try both at the same time, if all the Hindus and Musalmans both elect the way of violence, we had better cease to talk of winning Swaraj in the immediate future. Armed peace means not a little fighting that will end with the breaking of a few heads or of a dozen temples. It must mean prolonged fighting and rivers of blood.

Cowardice Behind Riots
These cases (of cowardice) have nothing to do with the inveterate enmity between the Hindus and Musalmans. Where there are fools there are bound to be knaves, where there are cowards there are bound to be bullies, whether they are Hindus or Musalmans. Such cases used to happen even before the outbreak of these communal hostilities. The question here therefore is not how to teach one of the two communities a lesson or how to humanize it, but how to teach a coward to be brave.
If the thinking sections of both the communities realize the cowardice and folly at the back of the hostilities, we can easily end them. Both have to be brave, both have to be wise. If both or either deliberately get wise, theirs will be the way of non-violence. If both fight and learn wisdom only by bitter experience, the way will be one of violence. Either way there is no room for cowards in the society of men, i.e., in a society which loves freedom. Swaraj is not for cowards.
Cowardice should no place in the national dictionary.

Fearlessness
According to the teaching of the Gita, the first requisite for spiritual conduct is fearlessness. I want you to make a firm resolve to shed all fear. Without fearlessness all other virtues are turned into dust. Attainment of truth or non-violence is impossible without fearlessness.
Fearlessness does not mean arrogance or aggressiveness. This in itself is assign of fear. Fearlessness presupposes calmness and peace of mind. For this it is necessary to have a living faith in God.
It is shame to both the Hindus and Musalmans that the Hindus should have to run away from their homes as they have done. It is a shame for the Muslims because it is out of fear of the Muslims that the Hindus have run away. Why should a human being inspire another with fear? It is no less a shame for the Hindus to have given way to craven fear. I have always said that man should fear none but God.
The verses of the Shrimad Bhagwadgita describe the characteristics of one who attained knowledge and brought his senses under full control. The lesson of Bhagwadgita is meant not for those who have for-saken the world, but for every householder, irrespective of his birth and state. Everybody’s duty should be to attain the state described therein, and this can only be done if life is built rock of fearlessness.

Anatomy of Fear
Fear is thing which I dislike; why should one man be afraid of another? Man should stain in fear of god alone, and then he can shed all other fears.
The more I go about in these parts, the more I find that your worst enemy is fear. It eats into the vitals of the terror stricken as well as the terrorist. the latter fears something in his victim. It may be his different religion or his riches he fears. The second kind of fear is otherwise known as greed. If you search enough, you will find that greed is a variety of fear. But there has never been and will never be a man who is able to intimidate one who has cast out fear from his heart. Why can no one intimidate the fearless? You will find that God is always by the side of his fearless. Therefore, we should fear Him alone and seek His protection. All other fears will then by itself disappear. Till fearlessness is cultivated by the people there will never be any peace in these parts for the Hindus, or for the Musalmans.
In it writing by a Musalman) the writer has rightly contended that a man of God is never afraid to die or to lose his possessions for the sake of his self-respect or religion. God has given us life and can take it away. That teaching is universal and applied to all, Hindu as well a s Musalman. Those who have in God their sole refuge cast all fear. Then there can be lasting friendship between the two. I have been trying all these days to din this lesson into the ears of my listeners. There was a time when Musalmans Also l listened to me, but now things seem to have changed and even among Hindus there are not many who will follow my advice. But I feel sure, lasting peace can come only when men of whatever community refuse to surrender to any fear save the holy fear of God.
Only when the Hindus and Muslims shed their fear and mutual suspicion can real unity of heart come. There should not be any cause for hostility because their hearts are one.

Atmosphere of Hatred
The fact is that when blood boils, prejudice reigns supreme; man, whether he labels himself a Hindu, Musalman, Christian or what not, becomes a beast and acts as such.
I would like to observe the laws of the game. Just as there is such a thing as honour among thieves, there should surely be honour between combatants. One hears so often of children and old men being butchered, women being outraged. If men must become beasts, there might even then be some decency observed.
The recent happenings are due. I am sure, to the atmosphere of hate that pervades the land today. If we remain calm in the midst of the storm, then only will we grow in strength.
It grieves me to sense the existing hatred and spirit of revenge. I warn you that unless you calm and purify your hearts, you will light such a fire throughout the land as will consume us all. I remind you of the story of the Mahabharata which is not a history of India but of man. It is the story of fight between the worshippers of Rama, the embodiment of good, and Ravan, the embodiment of evil. they fought the Pandavas and the Kauravas blood brothers, and what was the result? While evil was certainly defeated, only seven of the evictors remained to tell the tale. This is the state of the country today.