When Lord Lothian was at Segaon he asked me if I could give him a copy of Hind Swaraj, for, as he said, all that Gandhiji was teaching now lay in the germ in that little book which deserved to be read and re-read in order to understand Gandhiji properly.
Curiously enough, about the same time, Shrimati Sophia Wadia was writing an
article on the book exhorting all our Ministers and M. L. A.s, all the
British and Indian Civil Servants, indeed everyone who wanted the present
non-violent experiment in democracy to succeed, to read and re-read the
book. "How can a nonviolent man be a dictator in his own home?" she asks.
"How can he be a wine-bibber? How can a lawyer advise his client to go to
court and fight? The answers to all these questions raise highly important
practical issues. The people's education in Hind Swaraj, in which
these problems are dealt with from the point of view of principles, should
be extensively carried on."
appeal is timely. The book was written in 1908, during Gandhiji's return
voyage from London, in answer to the Indian school of violence and published
serially in the columns of the Indian Opinion, edited by Gandhiji.
Then it was published in book form, to be proscribed by the Bombay
Government. Gandhiji had translated the book for Mr. Kallenbach. In answer
to the Bombay Government's action, he published the English translation.
When Gokhale saw the translation, on his visit to South Africa in 1912, he
thought it so crude and hastily conceived that he prophesied that Gandhiji
himself would destroy the book after spending a year in India. With
deference to the memory of the great teacher, I may say that his prediction
has failed to come true. In 1921, Gandhiji, writing about it, said: "It
teaches the gospel of love in place of that of hate. It replaces violence
with self-sacrifice. It pits soul force against brute force. I withdraw
nothing except one word of it, and that in deference to a lady friend. The
booklet is a severe condemnation of 'modern civilization'. It was written in
1908. My conviction is deeper today than ever.... But I would warn the
reader against thinking that I am today aiming at the Swaraj described
therein. I know that India is not ripe for it. It may seem an impertinence
to say so. But such is my conviction. I am individually working for the
self-rule pictured therein. But today my corporate activity isundoubtedly
devoted to the attainment of Parliamentary Swaraj, in accordance with the
wishes of the people of India." Even in 1938 he would alter nothing in the
book, except perhaps the language in some parts. It is being presented to
the reader unabridged.
whether India may be ripe for it or not, it is best for Indians to study the
seminal book which contains the ultimate logical conclusion of the
acceptance of the twin principles of Truth and Nonviolence, and then decide
whether these principles should be accepted or rejected. On being told that
the book had been out of print for some time and that a few copies of its
Madras edition were available at eight annas a copy, Gandhiji said that it
should be published immediately at a nominal price, so that it may be within
easy reach of those who may wish to read it. The Navajivan Publishing House
is therefore publishing it at practically the cost price.