Back | Next

PHILOSOPHY > THE MIND OF MAHATMA GANDHI > I am not anti-British

 

I Am Not Anti-British

MY FAITH in human nature is irrepressible and, even under the circumstances of a most adverse character I have found Englishmen amenable to reason and persuasion, and as they always wish to appear to be just even when they are in reality unjust, it is easier to shame them then others into doing the right thing.
(YI, 7-1-1920, p. 2)


My personal religion… enables me to serve my countrymen without hurting Englishmen or, for that matter, anybody else. What I am not prepared to do to my blood-brother I would not do to an Englishmen. I would not injure him to gain a kingdom. But I would withdraw co-operation from him if it became necessary, as I had withdrawn from my own brother (now deceased) when it became necessary. I serve the Empire by refusing to par-take in its wrong. (YI, 5-5-1920, p. 4)


I am not anti-English; I am not anti-British; I am not anti-any Government; but I am anti-untruth, anti-humbug, and anti-injustice. So long as the Government spells injustice, it may regard me as its enemy, implacable enemy. (SW, p. 523)


No one will accuse me of any anti-English tendency. Indeed, I pride myself on my discrimination. I have thankfully copied many things from them. Punctuality, reticence, public hygiene, independent thinking and exercise of judgment and several other things I owe to my association with them. (YI, 6-3-1930, p. 80)


My nationalism is not so narrow that I should not feel for ….[Englishmen’s] distress or gloat over it. I do not want my country’s happiness at the sacrifice of other country’s happiness. (YI, 15-10-1931)


There is no bitterness in me. I claim fellowship with the lowest of animals. Why not, then, with Englishmen with whom we have been bound, for good or ill, for over a century and amongst whom I claim some of my dearest friends? You [Englishmen] will find me an easy pro-position, but if you will repel my advances, I shall go away, not in bitterness, but with a sense that I was not pure enough to find a lodgment in your hearts. (ibid, p. 310)


My love of the British is equal to that of my own people. I claim no merit for it, for I have equal love for all mankind without exception. It demands no reciprocity. I own no enemy on earth. That is my creed.
(BC, 9-8-1942)


…No Indian has co-operated with the British Government more than I have for an unbroken period of twenty-nine years of public life, in the face of circumstances that might well have turned any other man into a rebel……

I put my life in peril four times for the sake of the Empire; at the time to the Boer War, when I was in charge of the Ambulance corps whose work was mentioned in general Buller’s dispatches; at the time of the Zulu Revolt in Natal, when I was in charge of a similar corps; at the time of the commencement of the late war, when I raised an Ambulance corps and, as a result of the strenuous training had a severe attack of pleurisy; and lastly, in fulfillment of my promise to Lord Chelmsford at the War Conference in Delhi, I threw myself in such an active recruiting campaign in Kaira District, involving long and trying marches, that I had an attack of dysentery which proved almost fatal. I did all this in the full belief that acts such as mine must gain for my country an equal status in the Empire. (YI, 27-10-1920, p. 1)

Autocratic Rule

Originality there could be none in a close monopoly organization like the Government of India*. it is the largest autocracy the world has known. Democracy has been reserved only for great Britain. And when it rules and exploits millions belonging to other races, it becomes an unmitigated evil. It corrupts the whole island with the idea that such exploitation is the best thing for an enlightened democracy to do. It would be well to remember this fundamental fact, if I have correctly estimated it. If we recognize this, while dealing with the immediate problem, we shall be patient with the present actors. There is no call here for patience with the evil. (H, 17-2-1946, p. 12)


Any friend, who is a real friend, and who comes in a spirit of service, not as a superior, is bound to be welcome. India, when she has come into her own, will need all such assistance. The distrust of Englishmen… is there. It won’t disappear even by transporting Indian students to England. You have got to understand it and live it down. It has its roots in history. (H, 31-3-1946, p. 60)


… So far Indians have known Englishmen only as members of the ruling race-supercilious, when they are not patronizing. The man in the street makes no distinction between such an Englishmen and a good, humble European, between the Empire-builder Englishman of the old type that he has known and the new type that is now coming into being, burning to make reparation for what his fore-fathers did. (ibid, p.61)

A New Chapter
I can’t forget that the story of Britain’s connection with India is a tragedy of unfulfilled promises and disappointed hopes. We must deep an open mind. A seeker of truth will never begin by discounting his opponent’s statement as unworthy of trust. So I am hopeful, and indeed, no responsible Indian feels otherwise. This time I believe that the British mean business. But the offer [of independence] has come suddenly…..
…The tide of bitterness had risen high and that is not good or the soul…. This is milestone not only in India’s history and Britain’s but in the history of the whole world…. (H, 14-4-1946, p. 90)

Commonwealth Of Nations
India’s greatest glory will consist not in regarding Englishmen as her implacable enemies fit only to be turned out of India at the first available opportunity, but in turning them into friends and partners in a new commonwealth of nations in the place of an Empire based upon exploitation of the weaker or undeveloped nations and races of the earth and, therefore, finally [based] upon force. (YI, 5-1-1922, p. 4)


Andrews made me understand the significance of the King-Emperor’s role. The British King is King also in the Dominions, but he is the Emperor of India. India alone makes the Empire. The Dominions are peopled by your [the Britisher’s] cousins. But we Indians, with our different culture and traditions, can never belong to the British family. We may belong to a world-wide family of nations, but first we must cease to be underdogs. So, I set myself to win independence…….

Englishmen must learn to be the Brahmins, not Banias. The bania, I should explain, is the trader, or as Napoleon put it, the shopkeeper. The Brahmin is the man who is intelligent enough to rank the moral above the material values of life…. Englishmen have still to evolve the British Brahminical spirit ….

If India feels the glow of independence, she probably would enter into such a treaty [of defensive alliance with Britain] of her own free will. The spontaneous friendship between India and Britain would then be extended to other Powers and, among them, they would hold the balance, since they alone would possess moral force. To see that vision realized, I want to live for 125 years. (H, 14-4-1946, p. 91)