India has accorded to the released I.N.A. men a right royal welcome. They have been acclaimed as national heroes. Everybody seems to have been swept off his feet before the rising tide of popular sentiment. I must, however, frankly confess to you that I do not share this indiscriminate hero-worship. I admire the ability, sacrifice and patriotism of the I.N.A. and Netaji Bose. But I cannot subscribe to the method which they adopted and which is incompatible with the one followed by the Congress for the last twenty-five years for the attainment of independence. Yesterday I spoke to you of a sthitaprajna, i.e. "the man of steady wisdom", i.e., a Satyagrahi. If we accept that ideal we would not regard anybody as our enemy; we must shed all enmity and ill-will. That ideal is not meant for the select few — the saint or the seer only; it is meant for all. I have described myself as a scavenger having become one, not only in nam' but in fact, while I was in Phoenix. It was there that I took up the bucket and the broom, impelled by the inner urge to identify myself with the lowest of the low. As a humble fellow toiler, then, let me bear witness that anyone, even a simple-minded villager who wants to and tries, can attain the state of mental equipoise described in the Gita verses which are recited at the prayer. We all lose our sanity at times, though we may not care to admit it or be even aware of it. A man with a steady mind will never lose patience, even with a child, or indulge in anger or abuse. Religion as taught in the Gita is a thing to be practised in this life. It is not a means for attaining merit in the next irrespective of what you may do here. That would be a negation of religion.
"For me the visit to the I.N.A. men in detention was a matter of
pure duty. It gave me supreme satisfaction to be able to meet them,
and they on their part received me with a warmth of affection which
I shall always treasure.
I have interpreted their welcome as a token of their recognition in
me of a devoted servant of the country.
"Netaji was like a son to me. I came to know him as a lieutenant
full of promise under the late Deshabandnu Das. His last message to
the I.N.A. was that, whilst on foreign soil they had fought with
arms, on their return to India they would have to serve the country
as soldiers of nonviolence under the guidance and leadership of the
Congress. The message which the I.N.A. has for India is not adoption
of the method of appeal to arms for settling disputes (it has been
tried and found wanting), but of cultivating nonviolence, unity,
cohesion and organization.
"Though the I.N.A. failed in their immediate objective they have a
lot to their credit of which they might well be proud. Greatest
among these was to gather together under one banner men from all
religions and races of India and to infuse into them the spirit of
solidarity and oneness to the utter exclusion of all communal or
parochial sentiment. It is an example which we should all emulate.
If they did this under the glamour and romance of fighting, it was
not much. It must persist in peace. It is a higher and more
difficult work. We have to die performing our duty and without
killing. For that we shall need to cultivate the attributes of a
sthitaprajna as set forth in the Gita.
"Far more potent than the strength of the sword is the strength of
Satyagraha. I said so to the I.N.A. men and they were happy to tell
me, as I was to hear, that they had realized this and would
hereafter strive to serve India as true soldiers of non-violence
under the Congress flag."
New Delhi, 8-4-'46