It is a privilege for me to enjoy the friendship of so many unknown American and European friends. It pleases me to note that the circle is ever widening, perhaps more especially in America. I had the pleasure of receiving a warm invitation about a year ago to visit that continent. The same invitation has now been repeated with redoubled strength and with the offer to pay all expenses. I was unable then, as I am now, to respond to the kind invitation. To accept it is an easy enough task, but I must resist the temptation, for I feel that I can make no effective appeal to the people of that great continent unless I make my position good with the intellectuals of India.
not a shadow of doubt about the truth of my fundamental position. But I know
that I am unable to carry with me the bulk of educated India. I can, therefore,
gain no effective help for my country from the Americans and Europeans so long
as I remain isolated from educated India. I do want to think in terms of the
whole world. My patriotism includes the good of mankind in general. Therefore my
service of India includes the service of humanity. But I feel that I should be
going out of my orbit, if I left it for help from the West. I must be satisfied
for the time being with such help as I can get from the West, speaking to it
from my smaller Indian platform. If I go to America or to Europe, I must go in
my strength, not in my weakness, which I feel today — the weakness, I mean, of
my country. For, the whole scheme for the liberation of India is based upon the
development of internal strength. It is a plan of self-purification. The peoples
of the West, therefore, can best help the Indian movement by setting apart
specialists to study the inwardness of it. Let the specialists come to India
with an open mind and in a spirit of humility as befits a searcher after Truth.
Then perhaps they will see the reality instead of a glorified edition that, in
spite of all my desire to be absolutely truthful, I am likely to present if I go
to America. I believe in thought-power more than in the power of the word,
whether written or spoken. And if the movement that I seek to represent has
vitality in it and has divine blessing upon it, it will permeate the whole world
without my physical presence in its different parts. Anyway at the present
moment I see no light before me. I must patiently plod in India until I see my
way clear for going outside the Indian border.
pressing the invitation, the American friend puts a number of questions for my
the present-day interests of all mankind, everywhere, so inextricably interwoven
that no single country like India can be moved far oat of its present
relationships to the others"?
believe with, the writer that no single country can remain in isolation for any
length of time. The present plan for securing Swaraj is to attain not a
position of isolation but one of full self-realization and self-expression for
the benefit of all. The present position of bondage and helplessness hurts not
only India, not only England, but the whole world.
your message and method essentially a world gospel — which will find its power
in responsive souls, here and there, in many countries, who will thereby,
gradually, remake the world?" If I can say so without arrogance and with due
humility, my message and methods are indeed, in their essentials, for the whole
world, and it gives me keen satisfaction to know that it has already received a
wonderful response in the hearts of a large and daily growing number of men and
women of the West.
demonstrate your message in the language only of the East and in terms only of
Indian emergencies, is there not grave danger that inessentials will be confused
with fundamentals, that some features which correspond only to extreme
situations in India will be wrongly understood to be vital in the universal
sense?" I am alive to the danger pointed out by the - writer, but it seems to be
inevitable. I am in the position of a scientist who is in the midst of a very
incomplete experiment and who, therefore, is unable to forecast large results
and larger corollaries in a language capable of being understood. In the
experimental stage, therefore, I must run the risk of the experiment being
misunderstood, as it has been and probably still is in many places.
you not to come to America (which, in spite of all her faults, is perhaps,
potentially, the most spiritual of all living peoples) and tell the world what
your message means in terms of Western, as well as Eastern, civilization?"
general will understand my message through its results. The shortest way,
therefore, perhaps, of making it effectively heard is to let it speak for
itself, at any rate for the time being.
example, should the Western followers of your inspiration preach and practise
the spinning wheel?"
certainly not necessary for the Western people to preach and practise the
spinning wheel unless they will do so out of sympathy, or for discipline, or
with a view to applying their matchless inventive faculty to making the spinning
wheel a better instrument, while retaining its essential characteristic as a
cottage industry. But the message of the spinning wheel is much wider than its
circumference. Its message is one of simplicity, service of mankind, living so
as not to hurt others, creating an indissoluble bond between the rich and the
poor, capital and labour, the prince and the peasant. That larger message is
naturally for all.
condemnation of railroads, doctors, hospitals, and other features of modern
civilization essential and unalterable? Should we not, first, try to develop a
spirit great enough to spiritualize the machinery and the organized, scientific
and productive powers of modern life?"
condemnation of railroads etc. whilst true where it stands, has little or no
bearing on the present movement which disregards none of the institutions
mentioned by the writer. In the present movement I am attacking neither
railroads nor hospitals; but in an ideal State they seem to me to have little or
no place. The present movement is just the attempt the writer desires. Yet it is
not an attempt to spiritualize the machinery — because that seems to me an
impossible task — but to introduce, if it is at all possible, a human or the
human spirit among the men behind the machinery. Organization of machinery for
the purpose of concentrating wealth and power in the hands of a few and for the
exploitation of many, I hold to be altogether wrong. Much of the organization of
machinery of the present age is of that type. The movement of the spinning
wheel is an organized attempt to displace machinery from that state of
exclusiveness and exploitation and to place it in its proper state. Under my
scheme, therefore, men in charge of machinery will think not of themselves or
even of the nation to which they belong but of the whole human race. Thus
Lancashire men will cease to use their machinery for exploiting India and other
countries, but on the contrary, they will devise means of enabling India to
convert in her own villages her cotton into cloth. Nor will Americans, under my
scheme, seek to enrich themselves by exploiting the other races of the earth
through their inventive skill.
not possible, in conditions so favourable as America's, to clarify and advance
the evolution of the best human consciousness into such purpose and power,
courage and beneficence, as shall liberate the souls of India's millions, and of
all men everywhere?"
undoubtedly possible. Indeed it is my hope that America will seek the evolution
of the best human consciousness; but that time is perhaps not yet. Probably it
will not be before India has found her own soul. Nothing will please me more
than to find America and Europe making the difficult path of India as easy as it
is possible for them to do. They can do so by withdrawing the temptations in
India's way and by encouraging her in her attempt to revive her ancient
industries in her own villages.
it that people like myself, in every country, are grateful to you and eager to
follow you? Is it not for two reasons, chiefly:
Because the next and basic need throughout the world is for a new spiritual
consciousness — a realization, in the thought and feeling of average people, of
the equal divinity of all human beings, and the unity, brotherhood, of all?
Because you, more than any other widely known roan, have this consciousness,
together with the power to arouse it in others?"
only hope that the writer's estimate is true.
"It is a
world need — is it not ? — to which you have the best answer that God has
vouchsafed to man. How can your mission be fulfilled in India alone? If my arm
or leg could be vitalized to an extent far beyond the balance of my body, would
that make for my general health, or even for the permanent best good of the one
fully aware that my mission cannot be fulfilled in India alone, but I hope I am
humble enough to recognize my limitations and to see that I must keep for the
time being to my restricted Indian platform till I know the result of the
experiment in India itself. As I have already replied, I should like to see
India free and strong so that she may offer herself as a willing and pure
sacrifice for the betterment of the world. The individual, being pure,
sacrifices himself for the family the latter for the village, the village for
the district, the district for the province, the province for the nation, the
nation for all.
even submit — with deep reverence for your message — that possibly your own
vision and inspiration would benefit by adjustment to the world instead of only,
or chiefly, to India?" I recognize the considerable force of the foregoing
statement. It is not at all impossible that a visit to the West may give me not
a wider outlook — for I have endeavoured to show that it is the widest possible
— but it may enable me to discover new methods of realizing the outlook. If
such is my need, God will open the way for me.
political form of government, in India or anywhere, so important as the average
individual's soul force — his courageous expression of the best inspiration he
can derive from the divine spirit within and all about him?" The average
individual's soul force is any day the most important thing. The political form
is but a concrete expression of that soul force. I do not conceive the average
individual's soul force as distinguished and existing apart from the political
form of government. Hence I believe that after all a people has the government
which it deserves. In other words, self-government can only come through
the basic need, everywhere, for the clarification and development of this soul
force in individuals — beginning, -possibly, with a few people and spreading
like a divine contagion to the many?" It is indeed.
teach, rightly, that the faithful development of such soul force in India will
assure India's freedom. Will it not everywhere shape all political, economic
and international institutions including the issues of peace or war? Can those
forms of human civilization be made radically superior in India to the rest of
the world — now, when all mankind are neighbours ? "I have already answered this
question in the preceding paragraphs. I have claimed in these pages before now
that India's freedom must revolutionize the world's outlook upon peace and war.
Her impotence affects the whole of mankind.
know, better than I or anyone, how all these questions should be answered. I
chiefly seek to express my eager faith in your gospel, my hungry desire for your
leadership in solving the urgent problems of America and of all mankind.
Therefore, will you graciously remember that, if (or when) the time may come
that India's progress in the directions you have so inspiringly outlined appears
to pause — waiting for the Western world to come up along-side — then we of the
West stand urging you to give us a few months of your time and your personal
presence. My own feeling is that, if you will call us and instruct us, we (your
uncounted followers scattered obscurely over the wide earth) will join our lives
to yours in the discovery and realization of a new and noble, world-wide
Commonwealth of the Spirit, in which man's age-old dreams of Brotherhood.
Democracy, Peace, and Soul Progress shall characterize the daily life of
average people — In India, England, America, and everywhere."
I wish I
had confidence in my leadership on the world platform. I have no false modesty
about me. If I felt the call within, I would not wait a single second but
straightway respond to an invitation so cordial as this. But with my limitations
of which I am painfully conscious, I feel somehow that my experiment must be
restricted to a fragment. What may be true of the fragment is likely to be true
of the whole. It is true indeed that India's progress in the direction I desire
seems to have come to a pause; but I think that it only seems so. The little
seed that was sown in 1920 has not perished. It is, I think, taking deep root.
Presently it will come out as a stately tree. But if I am labouring under a
delusion, I fear that no artificial stimulus that my visit to America may
temporarily bring, can revive it. I am pining for the assistance of the whole
world. I see it coming. The urgent invitation is one of the many signs. But I
know that we shall have to deserve it before it comes upon us like a mighty
flood, a flood that cleanses and invigorates.