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50. How to cultivate Ahimsa ?

Let us confine ourselves to Ahimsa. We have all along regarded the spinning wheel, village crafts, etc. as the pillars of Ahimsa, and so indeed they are. They must stand. But we have now to go a step further. A votary of Ahimsa will of course base upon non-violence, if he has not already done so, all his relations with his parents, his children, his wife, his servants, his dependants, etc. But the real test will come at the time of political or communal disturbances or under the menace of thieves and dacoits. Mere resolve to lay down one's life under the circumstances is not enough. There must be the necessary qualification for making the sacrifice. If I am a Hindu, I must fraternize with the Musalmans and the rest. In my dealing with them I may not make any distinction between my co­religionists and those who might belong to a different faith. I would seek opportunities to serve them without any feel­ing of fear or unnaturalness. The word ' fear' can have no place in the dictionary of Ahimsa. Having thus qualified himself by his selfless service, a votary of pure Ahimsa will be in a position to make a fit offering of himself in a communal conflagration. Similarly, to meet the menace of thieves and dacoits, he will need to go among, and cultivate friendly relations with the communities from which thieves and dacoits generally come.

A brilliant example of this kind of work is provided by Ravishankar Maharaj. His work among the criminal tribes in Gujarat has evoked praise even of the Baroda State authorities. There is an almost unlimited field for this kind of work, and it does not call for any other talent in one besides pure love. Ravishankar Maharaj is an utter stranger to English. Even his knowledge of Gujarati is barely sufficient for everyday use. But God has blessed him with unlimited neighbourly love. His simplicity easily wins all hearts, and is the envy of everybody. Let his example provide a cue and inspiration to all those who may be similarly engaged in other fields of Satyagraha.

Sevagram, 16-7-'40

Harijan, 21-7-1940