I have followed the events now happening in India with painful
interest. This mutiny in the Navy and what is following is not, in
any sense of the term, non-violent, action. Inasmuch as a single
person is compelled to shout Jai Hind or any popular slogan,
a nail is driven into the coffin of Swaraj in terms of the dumb
millions of India. Destruction of churches and the like is not the
way to Swaraj as defined by the Congress. Burning of tramcars and
other property, insulting and injuring Europeans, is not
non-violence of the Congress type, much less mine, if and in so far
as it may be different from the Congress. Let the known and unknown
leaders of this thoughtless orgy of violence know what they are
doing and then follow their bent. Let it not be said that India of
the Congress spoke to the world of winning Swaraj through
non-violent action and belied her word in action and that too at the
critical period in her life. I have deliberately used the adjective
"thoughtless". For, there is such a thing as thoughtful violent
action. What I see happening now is not thoughtful. If the Indian
member of the Navy know and appreciate non-violence, the way of
non-violent resistance can be dignified, manly and wholly effective,
if it is corporate. For the individual it always is. Why should they
continue to serve if service is humiliating for them or India?
Action like this I have called non-violent non-co-operation. As it
is, they are setting a bad and unbecoming example for India.
A combination between Hindus and Muslims and others for the purpose
of violent action is unholy and will lead to and probably is a
preparation for mutual violence— bad for India and the world.
The rulers have declared their intention to 'quit' in favour of
Indian rule. Let the action be not delayed by a moment because of
the exhibition of distressful unrest which has been lying hidden in
the breast. Their might is unquestioned. Its use beyond the bare
requirement will be unworthy and even wicked if it is made to
suppress the people or a portion of them. The people have been far
too long under the foreign heel.
I congratulate Shrimati Aruna Asaf Ali on her courageous refutation
of my statement on the happenings in Bombay. Except for the fact
that she represents not only herself but also a fairly large body of
underground workers, I would not have noticed her refutation, if
only because she is a daughter of mine — not less so because not
born to me or because she is a rebel. I had the pleasure of meeting
her on several occasions while she was underground. I admired her
bravery, resourcefulness and burning love of the country. But my
admiration stopped there. I did not like her being underground. I do
not appreciate any underground activity. I know that millions cannot
go underground. Millions need not. A select few may fancy that they
will bring Swaraj to the millions by secretly directing their
activity. Will this not be spoon-feeding? Only open challenge and
open activity is for all to follow. Real Swaraj must be felt
by all — man, woman and child. To labour for that consummation is
true revolution. India has become a pattern for all exploited races
of the earth, because India's has been an open, unarmed effort which
demands sacrifice from all without inflicting injury on the usurper.
The millions in India would not have been awakened but for the
open, unarmed struggle. Every deviation from the straight path has
meant a temporary arrest of the evolutionary revolution.
I do not read the 1942 events as does the brave lady. It was good
that the people rose spontaneously. It was bad that some or many
resorted to violence. It makes no difference that Shri Kishorlal
Mashruwala, Kakasaheb and other workers, in their impatient zeal for
the moment, misinterpreted non-violence. That they did so, only
shows how delicate an instrument non-violence is. My analogy is not
meant to cast any reflection on any person. Everyone acted as he or
she thought best. Supineness in the face of overwhelming organized
violence would have meant cowardice. I would be weak and wrong if I
failed to give my estimate of the doings of 1942.
Aruna would "rather unite Hindus and Muslims at the barricade than
on the constitution front." Even in terms of violence, this is a
misleading proposition. If the union at the barricade is honest,
there must be union at the constitutional front. Fighters do not
always live at the barricade. They are too wise to commit suicide.
The barricade life has always to be followed by the constitutional.
That front is not taboo forever.
It is a matter of great relief that the ratings have listened to
Sardar Patel's advice to surrender. They have not surrendered their
honour. So far as I can see, in resorting to mutiny they were badly
advised. If it was for grievance, fancied or real, they should have
waited for the guidance and intervention of political leaders of
their choice. If they mutinied for the freedom of India they were
doubly wrong. They could not do so without a call from a prepared
revolutionary party. They were thoughtless and ignorant if they
believed that by their might, they would deliver India from foreign
Aruna is right when she says that the fighters this time showed grit
as never before. But grit becomes fool- hardiness when it is
untimely and suicidal as this was.
She is entitled to say that the people "are not interested in the
ethics of violence or non-violence", but the people are very much
interested in knowing the way which will bring freedom to the masses
— violence or non-violence. The people have, however imperfectly,
hitherto gone the way of non-violence. Aruna and her comrades have
to ask themselves every time whether the non-violent way has or has
not raised India from her slumber of ages and created in them a
yearning, very vague perhaps, for Swaraj. There is, in my opinion,
only one answer.