After much travail, deep thought and considerable argument, Gandhiji fixed the date of his departure for Bengal for the 28th of October. "I do not know what I shall be able to do there," he remarked in the course of an argument with a very esteemed friend, who made an eleventh hour effort to dissuade him from setting out on such a long journey just then. "All I know is that I won't be at peace with myself unless I go there." He then went on to describe the "power of thought". "There are two kinds of thought—idle and active. There may be myriads of the former swarming in one's brain. They do not count." He likened them to unfertilized ova in a spawn. "But one pure, active thought, proceeding from the depth and endowed with all the undivided intensity of one's being, becomes dynamic and works like a fertilized ovum." He was averse to put a curb on the spontaneous urge which he felt within him to go to the people of Noakhali. Speaking before the evening prayer gathering on Sunday last at New Delhi, Gandhiji said that he was leaving for Calcutta the next morning. He did not know when God would bring him again to Delhi. He wanted to go to Noakhali from Calcutta. It was a difficult journey and he was in poor health. But one had to do one's duty and trust in God to make the way smooth. It was not that God necessarily and always removed hardships from one's path, but He did always enable one to bear them.
He did not want anyone to come to the station, he continued. India
had given him enough affection. It needed no further demonstration.
He was not going to Bengal to pass judgment on anybody. He was going
there as a servant of the people and he would meet Hindus and
Muslims alike. Some Muslims looked upon him as an enemy today. They
had not done so always. But he did not mind their anger. Were not
his own religionists angry with him at times? From the age of
seventeen he had learnt the lesson that all mankind, be they of any
nationality, colour or country were his own kith and kin. If they
were God's servants, they had to become servants of all His
It was in that capacity that he was going to Bengal. He would tell
them that Hindus and Muslims could never be enemies, one of the
other. They were born and brought up in India and they had to live
and die in India. Change of religion could not alter that
fundamental fact. If some people liked to believe that change of
religion changed one's nationality also, even they need not become
Sufferings of women had always melted his heart. He wanted to go to
Bengal and wipe their tears and put heart into them, if he could. In
Calcutta he would try to see the Governor and the Prime Minister Mr.
Suhrawardy and then proceed to Noakhali.
To make peace between quarrelling parties, the speaker said, had
been his vocation from his early youth. Even while he practised as a
lawyer, he tried to bring the contending parties together. Why could
not the two communities be brought together? He was an optimist, he
From them he wanted only this help; that they should pray with him
that this mutual slaughter might stop and the two communities might
really become one at heart. Whether India was to become divided or
remain one whole could not be decided by force. It had to be done
through mutual understanding. Whether they decided to part or stay
together, they must do so with goodwill and understanding.
He could never be party to anything which might mean humiliation or
loss of self-respect for anyone. Therefore any peace to be
substantial must be honourable, never at the cost of honour. In this
he was only echoing the sentiment expressed to him by a prominent
Muslim who had seen him. This friend had said: "We must reach our
goal, whatever it might be Pakistan or undivided India— without
bloodshed or fighting. I go so far as to say that if it cannot be
reached except through bloodshed and fighting amongst ourselves, it
is not worth reaching."