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25. FASTS FOR COMMUNAL PEACE
The way of the Cross
Fasting cannot be undertaken mechanically. It is a powerful thing but a dangerous thing if handled amateurishly. It requires complete self-purification much more than what is required in facing death with retaliation even in mind. One such act of perfect sacrifice would suffice for the whole world. Such is held to be Jesus example.
The idea is that you yourself and assimilate the essence of his sacrifice, symbolically represented by the bread and wine of the Eucharist. A man who was completely innocent offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act. ‘It is finished’ were the last words of Jesus, and we have the testimony of his four disciples as to its authenticity.
But whether the Jesus tradition is historically true or not I do not care. To me it is truer than history because I hold it to be possible and it enshrines and eternal law the law of vicarious and innocent suffering taken in its true sense.

Genesis of Fasting
The thought of a 24 hour’s fast had come to me one night in a dream. I had consulted Rajaji whose guest I then was in Madras. The idea had appealed to the latter, notices had been issued at once and there had been a widespread and hearty response to the call. I had never dreamt that the country had been so awakened, and by the country I mean not the country had been so awakened, and by the country I mean not the few cities of India but the seven lakhs of villages where the vast mass of Indian humanity lives. I appeal to you to respond to the call once again, but only if you understand its implications. The fast who undertaken in those days for the sake of vindicating Swaraj through Hindu Muslim unity, and the charkha, etc.

Fasting in Hinduism, Islam
Certainly. (‘Fasting is prescribed by our religion.’) What did the Rishis of old do? It is unthinkable that they ate anything during their penances, in some cases gone through in caves, and for hundreds of years. Parvati who did penance to win Shiva would not touch even the leaves of trees, much less fruit or food. Hinduism is full of penance and prayer.
But I know of this sort of penance even in Islam. In the life of the Prophet, I have read that the Prophet often fasted and prayed, and forbade others to copy him. Some one asked him why he did not allow others to do the thing he himself was doing. ‘Because I live on food divine,’ He said. He achieved most of his great things by fasting and prayer. I learnt from him that only he can fast who has inexhaustible faith in god. The Prophet had relationships not in moments of ease and luxurious living. He fasted and prayed, kept awake for night s together and would be on his feet at all hours of the night as he received the revelations. Even at this moment I see before me the picture of the Prophet thus fasting and praying.

Purpose of Fast
My religion teaches me to love all equally. May god help me to do so. My fast, is, among other things, meant to qualify me for achieving that equal and self less love.
The object of the previous fasts was limited. The object of this is unlimited, and there is boundless love at the back of it. I am today bathing in that ocean of love.
The penance of the Hindus and Musalmans is not fasting but retracing their steps. It is true penance for a Musalmans to harbor no ill for his Hindu brother, and an equally true penance for a Hindu to harbor none for his Musalman brother.
I ask of no Hindu or Musalman to surrender an iota of his religious principle. Only let him be sure that it is religion. But I do ask of every Hindu and Musalman not to fight for an earthy gain. I should be deeply hurt if my last made wither community surrender on a matter of principle.
But is it right for me to go through the fast under a Musalman roll? Yes, it is. The fast is not born out of ill-will against a single soul. My being under a Musalman roof ensures it against any such interpretation. It is in the fitness of things that this fast should be taken up and completed in a Musalman house.
All I have done, all I am doing, is done in a fully God fearing spirit, and in the house of a God fearing Musalman at that.

Bidding of Inner Voice
Though the Voice within has been beckoning for a long time, I have been shutting my ears to it, lest it may be the voice of Satan, otherwise called my weakness. I never like to feel resource less; a Satyagrahi never should. Fasting is his resort in the place of sword his or other’s.
With God as my supreme and sole counselor, I felt that I must take the decision without any other adviser It I have made a mistake and discover it, I shall have no hesitation in proclaiming it from the housetops and retracing my faulty step. There is little chance of my making such a discovery. If there is clear indication as I claim there is, of the Inner Voice, it will not be gain said.

Potency of the Fast
I do not regard this fast as an ordinary fast. I have undertaken it after deep thought and yet it has sprung not from reasoning but God’s will that rules men’s reason. It is addressed to no particular section or individual and yet it is addressed equally to all. There is no trace of anger of any kind behind it nor the slightest tinge of impatience. But behind it is the realization that there is a time for everything and an opportunity, once missed never returns. The fast is bid for nothing less.

Yearning for Heart Friendship
I yearn for heart friendship between the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Muslims. It is subsisted between them the other day. Today it is non-existent. It is a state that no Indian patriot worthy of the name can contemplate with equanimity.
I have no answer to return to the Muslim friends who see me from day to day as to what they should do. My impotence has been gnawing at me of late. It will go immediately the last is undertaken. I have been brooding over it for the last three days. The final conclusion has flashed upon me and it makes me happy. No man if he is pure has anything more precious to give than his life. I hope and pray that I have that purity in me to justify the step.
A pure fast, like duty, is its own reward I do not embark upon it for the sake of the result it may bring. I do so because I must. Hence, I urge everybody dispassionately to examine the purpose and let me die, If I must, in peace which I hope is ensured. Death for me would be a glorious deliverance rather than that I should be a helpless witness of the destruction of India, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. That destruction is certain if Pakistan ensures no equality of status and security of the life and property for all professing the various faiths of the world and if India copies her. Only, then Islam dies in the two India’s, not in the world. But Hinduism and Sikhism have no world outside India.