Editor : Your last question is a serious one and yet, on careful consideration, it will be found to be easy of solution. The question arises because of the presence of the railways, of the lawyers and of the doctors. We shall presently examine the last two. We have already considered the railways. I should, however, like to add that man is so made by nature as to require him to restrict his movements as far as his hands and feet will take him. If we did not rush about from place to place by means of railways and such other maddening conveniences, much of the confusion that arises would be obviated. Our difficulties are of our own creation. God set a limit to a man's locomotive ambition in the construction of his body. Man immediately proceeded to discover means of overriding the limit. God gifted man with intellect that he might know his Maker. Man abused it so that he might forget his Maker. I am so constructed that I can only serve my immediate neighbours, but in my conceit I pretend to have discovered that I must with my body serve every individual in the Universe. In thus attempting the impossible, man comes in contact with different natures, different religions, and is utterly confounded. According to this reasoning, it must be apparent to you that railways are a most dangerous institution. Owing to them, man has gone further away from his Maker.
Reader : But I am impatient to hear your answer to my question. Has the
introduction of Mahomedanism not unmade the nation?
Editor : India cannot cease to be one nation because people belonging to
different religions live in it. The introduction of foreigners does not
necessarily destroy the nation; they merge in it. A country is one
nation only when such a condition obtains in it. That country must have
a faculty for assimilation. India has ever been such a country. In
reality there are as many religions as there are individuals; but those
who are conscious of the spirit of nationality do not interfere with one
another's religion. If they do, they are not fit to be considered a
nation. If the Hindus believe that India should be peopled only by
Hindus, they are living in dream-land. The Hindus, the Mahomedans, the
Parsis and the Christians who have made India their country are
fellow-countrymen, and they will have to live in unity, if only for
their own interest. In no part of the world are one nationality and one
religion synonymous terms; nor has it ever been so in India.
Reader : But what about the inborn enmity between Hindus and Mahomedans?
Editor : That phrase has been invented by our mutual enemy. When the
Hindus and Mahomedans fought against one another, they certainly spoke
in that strain. They have long since ceased to fight. How, then, can
there be any inborn enmity? Pray remember this too, that we did not
cease to fight only after British occupation. The Hindus flourished
under Moslem sovereigns and Moslems under the Hindu. Each party
recognized that mutual fighting was suicidal, and that neither party
would abandon its religion by force of arms. Both parties, therefore,
decided to live in peace. With the English advent quarrels recommenced.
The proverbs you have quoted were coined when both were fighting; to
quote them now is obviously harmful. Should we not remember that many
Hindus and Mahomedans own the same ancestors and the same blood runs
through their veins? Do people become enemies because they change their
religion? Is the God of the Mahomedan different from the God of the
Hindu ? Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What
does it matter that we take different roads so long as we reach the same
goal? Wherein is the cause for quarrelling?
Moreover, there are deadly proverbs as between the followers of Siva and
those of Vishnu, yet nobody suggests that these two do not belong to the
same nation. It is said that the Vedic religion is different from
Jainism, but the followers of the respective faiths are not different
nations. The fact is that we have become enslaved and, therefore,
quarrel and like to have our quarrels decided by a third party. There
are Hindu iconoclasts as there are Mahomedan. The more we advance in
true knowledge, the better we shall understand that we need not be at
war with those whose religion we may not follow.
Reader : Now I would like to know your views about cow-protection.
Editor : I myself respect the cow, that is, I look upon her with affectionate reverence. The cow is the
protector of India because, being an agricultural country, she is
dependent on the cow. The cow is a most useful animal in hundreds of
ways. Our Mahomedan brethren will admit this.
But, just as I respect the cow, so do I respect my fellow-men. A man is
just as useful as a cow no matter whether he be a Mahomedan or a Hindu.
Am I, then, to fight with or kill a Mahomedan in order to save a cow? In
doing so, I would become an enemy of the Mahomedan as well as of the
cow. Therefore, the only method I know of protecting the cow is that I
should approach my Mahomedan brother and urge him for the sake of the
country to join me in protecting her. If he would not listen to me I
should let the cow go for the simple reason that the matter is beyond my
ability. If I were overfull of pity for the cow, I should sacrifice my
life to save her but not take my brother's. This, I hold, is the law of
When men become obstinate, it is a difficult thing. If I pull one way,
my Moslem brother will pull another. If I put on a superior air, he will
return the compliment. If I bow to him gently, he will do it much more
so; and if he does not, I shall not be considered to have done wrong in
having bowed. When the Hindus became insistent, the killing of cows
increased. In my opinion, cow-protection societies may be considered
cow-killing societies. It is a disgrace to us that we should need such
societies. When we forgot how to protect cows, I suppose we needed such
What am I to do when a blood-brother is on the point of killing a cow?
Am I to kill him, or to fall down at his feet and implore him? If you
admit that I should adopt the latter course, I must do the same to my
Who protects the cow from destruction by Hindus when they cruelly
ill-treat her ? Whoever reasons with the Hindus when they mercilessly
belabour the progeny of the cow with their sticks? But this has not
prevented us from remaining one nation.
Lastly, if it is be true that the Hindus believe in the doctrine of
non-killing and the Mahomedans do not, what, pray, is the duty of the
former? It is not written that a follower of the religion of Ahimsa
(non-killing) may kill a fellow-man. For him the way is straight. In
order to save one being, he may not kill another. He can only
plead—therein lies his sole duty.
But does every Hindu believe in Ahimsa? Going to the root of the matter,
not one man really practises such a religion because we do destroy life.
We are said to follow that religion because we want to obtain freedom
from liability to kill any kind of life. Generally speaking, we may
observe that many Hindus partake of meat and are not, therefore,
followers of Ahimsa. It is, therefore, preposterous to suggest that the
two cannot live together amicably because the Hindus believe in Ahimsa
and the Mahomedans do not.
These thoughts are put into our minds by selfish and false religious
teachers. The English put the finishing touch. They have habit of
writing history; they pretend to study the manners and customs of all
peoples. God has given us a limited mental capacity, but they usurp the
function of the Godhead and indulge in novel experiments. They write
about their own researches in most laudatory terms and hypnotize us into
believing them. We in our ignorance then fall at their feet.
Those who do not wish to misunderstand things may read up the Koran, and
they will find therein hundreds of passages acceptable to the Hindus;
and the Bhagavadgita contains passages to which not a Mahomedan can take
exception. Am I to dislike a Mahomedan because there are passages in the
Koran I do not understand or like? It takes two to make a quarrel. If I
do not want to quarrel with a Mahomedan, the latter will be powerless to
foist a quarrel on me; and, similarly, I should be powerless if a
Mahomedan refuse his assistance to quarrel with me. An arm striking the
air will become disjointed. If everyone will try to understand the core
of his own religion and adhere to it, and will not allow false teachers
to dictate to him, there will be no room left for quarrelling.
Reader : But will the English ever allow the two bodies to join hands?
Editor : This question arises out of your timidity. It betrays our
shallowness. If two brothers want to live in peace, is it possible for a
third party to separate them? If they were to listen to evil counsels we
would consider them to be foolish. Similarly, we Hindus and Mahomedans
would have to blame our folly rather than the English, if we allowed
them to put us asunder. A clay pot would break through impact, if not
with one stone, then with another. The way to save the pot is not to
keep it away from the danger point but to bake it so that no stone would
break it. We have then to make our hearts of perfectly baked clay. Then
we shall be steeled against all danger. This can be easily done by the
Hindus. They are superior in numbers; they pretend that they are more
educated; they are, therefore, better able to shield themselves from
attack on their amicable relations with the Mahomedans.
There is mutual distrust between the two communities. The Mahomedans,
therefore, ask for certain concessions from Lord Morley. Why should the
Hindus oppose this? If the Hindus desisted, the English would notice it,
the Mahomedans would gradually begin to trust the Hindus, and
brotherliness would be the outcome. We should be ashamed to take our
quarrels to the English. Everyone can find out for himself that the
Hindus can lose nothing by desisting. That man who has inspired
confidence in another has never lost anything in this world.
I do not suggest that the Hindus and the Mahomedans will never fight. Two
brothers living together often do so. We shall sometimes have our heads
broken. Such a thing ought not to be necessary, but all men are not
equitable. When people are in a rage, they do many foolish things. These
we have to put up with. But when we do quarrel, we certainly do not want
to engage counsel and resort to English or any law-courts. Two men
fight; both have their heads broken, or one only. How shall a third
party distribute justice amongst them? Those who fight may expect to be