Q. What is a woman to do when attacked by miscreants? To run away, or resist with violence? To have boats in readiness to fly or prepare to defend with weapons?
A. My answer to this question is very simple. For me there can be no
preparation for violence. All preparation must be for non-violence
if courage of the highest type is to be developed. Violence can only
be tolerated as being preferable always to cowardice. Therefore I
would have no boats ready for a flight in emergency. For a
nonviolent person there is no emergency, but quiet dignified
preparation for death. Hence whether it is a man or a woman, he or
she will defy death even when he or she is unassisted; for real
assistance is from God. I can preach no other thing and I am here to
practise what I preach. Whether such an opportunity will occur to me
or be given to me I do not know. If there are women who when
assailed by miscreants cannot resist themselves without arms, they
do not need to be advised to carry arms. They will do so. There is
something wrong in this constant enquiry as to whether to bear arms
or not. People have to learn to be naturally independent. If they
will remember the central teaching, namely, that the real effective
resistance lies in non-violence, they will model their conduct
accordingly. And that is what the world has been doing although
unthinkingly. Since it is not the highest courage, namely, courage
born of non-violence, it arms itself even unto the atom bomb. Those
who do not see in it the futility of violence will naturally arm
themselves to the best of their ability.
In India since my return from South Africa, there has been conscious
and constant training in non-violence with the result we have seen.
Q. Can a woman be advised to take her own life rather than
A. This question requires a definite answer. I answered it in Delhi
just before leaving for Noakhali. A woman would most certainly take
her own life rather than surrender. In other words, surrender has no
room in my plan of life. But I was asked in what way to take one's
own life. I promptly said it was not for me to prescribe the means,
and behind the approval of suicide under such circumstances was and
is the belief that one whose mind is prepared for even suicide will
have requisite courage for such mental resistance and such internal
purity that her assailant will be disarmed. I could not carry the
argument any further because it does not admit of further
development. It requires positive proof which, I own, is lacking.
Q. If the choice is between taking one's own life or that of the
assailant, which would you advise?
A. When it is a question of choice between killing oneself or the
assailant, I have no doubt in my mind that the first should be the