Villages and Congress / Voluntary Workers
"I realize the truth of these words everywhere here in Bengal. It is only recently that we thought of going into the villages. At first, we wanted things from the village people. It is only now that we are going to the villages in order to give the people something. How can we expect to win their confidence in such a short time? It often happens that a father takes years to win his son's confidence. We have to win back our honoured place among the village people, and will get nothing through impatience. Some persons serve their own interests under the guise of service. What other means do the village people have, except experience to distinguish between such persons and genuine workers? Public workers, therefore, must cultivate patience, forbearance, selflessness and such other virtues. The masses can have no other knowledge but experience to guide them."
(Navajivan, 28-6-1925; 27:310.)
"One quality is essential in such a worker and that is purity of character. If he is a slave of his eleven senses he will be able to do no work. These eleven senses are the five of perception, the five of action and the mind. If the mind is pure, then the ten senses automatically remain pure. If the mind is impure, then everything else will be impure. The senses of action are the arms, the legs, the mouth, and two private organs. The senses of knowledge are the skin, the sense of touch, the palate, the ear for hearing, the nose for smelling and the eyes for sight. Anyone who cannot control these should humbly refuse to become a volunteer. If he has become one and then later on finds that he is unable to control his senses, he should humbly resign. This is the right way if we want work to be done.
"Some might say that this programme cannot be completed in a hundred years and we want swaraj just now. This objection has no force. We shall not have an abundance of workers when we get swaraj. Those who are workers now will run the country under swaraj. It is true that those who run the administration at present will be there when its control is handed over to the people. If, however, the Congress does not have the type of volunteers that I have suggested, then we shall lose control of the administration or it will become corrupt and there will be anarchy in the country. There is no reason to suppose that those who are hated now will become godlike overnight as soon as the control of the administration changes hands. Hence, as we sow now, so shall we reap. If we get sincere workers, the programme that I have chalked out can begin today. Let us first have seventy thousand volunteers and map out the country into blocks of ten miles each and then we shall see what work to take up. This is not the right way to start work. If we approach the task thus, we shall succeed in doing nothing."
(Navajivan, 7-6-1931; 46:338.)
"Although schemes for industrialization of the country might be put forth, the goal that the Congress has set before it today is not industrialization of the country. Its goal is, according to a resolution passed by the National Congress at Bombay, revival of village industries. You cannot have mass awakening through any elaborate scheme of industrialization that you may put before the kisans. It would not add a farthing to their income. But the A.I.S.A. and A.I.V.I.A. will put lakhs into their pockets within the course of a year. Whatever happens to the Working Committee or the ministries, personally I do not sense any danger to the constructive activities of the Congress.
(A.I.S.A. - All India Spinner's Association)
(A.I.V.I.A. - All India Village Industries Association)
(Harijan, 18-2-1939; 68:371.)
"... I am in no hurry to precipitate civil disobedience. My prescription to Congressmen, for the time being, is to consolidate the organization by purging it of all weaknesses. I swear by the old constructive programme of communal unity, removal of untouchability and the charkha. It is quite clear that non-violence is impossible without the first two. If India's villages are to live and prosper, the charkha must become universal. Rural civilization is impossible without the charkha and all it implies, i.e., revival of village crafts. Thus the charkha is the symbol par excellence of non-violence. And it can occupy the whole of the time of all Congressmen. If it makes no appeal to them, either they have no non-violence in them or I do not know the A.B.C. of non-violence. If my love of the charkha is a weakness in me, it is so radical as to make me unfit as a general. The wheel is bound up with my scheme of swaraj, indeed with life itself. All India should know my credentials on the eve of what can become the last and decisive battle for swaraj."
(Harijan, 4-11-1939; 70:316.)
"You will have economic equality in the country only along the road I have pointed out. Perhaps you will not understand this today; but note my words and remember them when I am dead and you will say that what this old man of seventy-five said was true. This is not a prophecy I am making; I am saying this on the basis of my lifelong experience. A time will surely come when nobody will listen to your long speeches; nobody will even attend your meetings, for preaching sermons to the people without following those principles in your own lives does not work long in society. The people will ask you for an account of your own work, will ask you what you yourselves are doing, before they listen to you."
(Talk with socialists, 27-5-1947; 88:18.)
"This is my analysis of the situation. There should be rapport between the constructive workers and the institution. We must first purify ourselves. The Congress has always had the constructive programme. Now it has the power. Why is it then that our work is not progressing? It may be th£t we have no heart. Because if we were endowed with a heart \ve would have been sensitive to the pain of others. Moreover, a person may be in sympathy with one in distress and still may not be of any help to him. But our minds have not opened. Many eminent people who are in politics have had this experience. I have had a hand in the formation of all these various institutions, and I can say that things are in such a state because our hearts are not pure. A current was generated. The people caught on to th£ idea that that was the way to overcome the British. Villagers toe) flocked to us in ever larger numbers. It gladdened us that there was such awakening in the country. But in the forefront were intellectuals. And the result was that the freedom that came was not true freedom. The fight being over, our interest in the constructive programme waned. Constructive work is not a strategy or a technique of fighting. Constructive work connotes a way of life. It can be carried on only by men who have adopted it by the heart as well as by the intellect. . .
"Today politics has become corrupt. Anybody who goes into politics gets contaminated. Let us keep out of it altogether. Our influence will grow thereby. The greater our inner purity, the greater shall be our hold on the people, without any effort on our part."
(Mahatma Gandhi - The Last Phase, Vol. II, PP- 661-66; 90:216-17.)