Q. "May a non-violent man possess wealth, and if he may, how can he keep it non-violently?"
A. “He may not own any wealth, though he may possess millions. Let him hold
it in trust. If he lives among dacoits and thieves, he may possess
very little, indeed little beyond a loin-cloth. And if he does this,
he will convert them.
"But you must not generalize. In a non-violent State
there will be very few dacoits. For the individual the golden rule
is that he will own nothing. If I decided to settle and work
among the so-called criminal tribes, I should go to them without any
belongings and depend on them for my food and shelter. The moment
they feel that I am in their midst in order to serve them, they will
be my friends. In that attitude is true Ahimsa."
Q. "How is one to protect the honour of women?"
A. "I am afraid you do not read Harijan regularly. I discussed
this question years ago, and have discussed it often since. The
question may be discussed under two heads: (1) how is a woman to
protect her own honour? and (2) how are her male relatives to
"As regards the first question, where there is a
nonviolent atmosphere, where there is the constant teaching of
Ahimsa, woman will not regard herself as dependent, weak or
helpless. She is not really helpless when she is really pure. Her
purity makes her conscious of her strength. I have always held that
it is physically impossible to violate a woman against her will. The
outrage takes place only when she gives way to fear or does not
realize her moral strength. If she cannot meet the assailant's
physical might, her purity will give her the strength to die before
he succeeds in violating her. Take the case of Sita. Physically she
was a weakling before Ravana, but her purity was more than a match
even for his giant might. He tried to win her with all kinds of
allurements but could not carnally touch her without her consent. On
the other hand, if a woman depends on her own physical strength or
upon a weapon she possesses, she is sure to be discomfited whenever
her strength is exhausted.
“The second question is easily answered. The brother
or father or friend will stand between his protegee and her
assailant. He will then either dissuade the assailant from his
wicked purpose or allow himself to be killed by him in preventing
him. In so laying down his life he will not only have done his duty,
but given a new accession of strength to his protegee who will now
know how to protect her honour."
"But," said one of the sisters from Poona, "there
lies the rub. How is a woman to lay down her life? Is it possible
for her to do so?"
“Oh!” said Gandhiji, "any day more possible for her
than for man. I know that women are capable of throwing away their
lives for a much lesser purpose. Only a few days ago a young girl of
twenty burnt herself to death as she felt she was being persecuted
for refusing to go in for ordinary studies. And she perished with
such cool courage and determination! She ignited her sadi with an
ordinary oil-light and did not so much as raise a cry, so that the
people in the neighbouring room were unaware of the happening
until all was over. I do not give these details to commend her
example, hut to show how easily woman can throw away her life. I, at
any rate, am incapable of this courage. But I agree that it is not
the external light but the inner light that is needed. "
The same sister wondered how one was to avoid anger
and violence altogether in dealing with children. "You know our old
adage," said Gandhiji laughing heartily, "Play with him till he is
five, hammer him for ten years, treat him as your friend when he is
sixteen." "But," he added, “don’t you worry. If you have to be angry
with your child on occasions, I shall call that anger non-violent
anger. I am speaking of wise mothers, not the ignorant ones who do
not deserve to be mothers."