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STUDENTS' PROJECTS > OUR GANDHI > Civil Disobedience

 

Civil Disobedience

Disobedience was spreading to all parts of India. Thousands of Indians were arrested, and thousands were beaten or killed. Yet the Indians continued bravely and without violence.

One night, after the British had arrested large numbers of Indians, a crowd gathered for the evening prayer meeting at Gandhi's work camp. His camp was made up of a few huts of palm and date leaves, halfway between Dandi and the sea. That night Gandhi gave an unusually serious talk. Then there were prayers and songs. Finally, by the light of a lantern, someone read aloud the long list of those who had just been arrested. Now it was time to lie down for a few hours of sleep. Yet no one wanted to leave the camp. Everyone was worried about Gandhi, fearing another arrest.

At midnight the police officers arrived at camp, along with thirty men carrying guns. It was confusing in the darkness, and they couldn't find Gandhi.

"Where is he?" they demanded.

Gandhi had taught his followers to treat everyone with respect. One of them raised his hand and pointed to a small white bundle in an open shed. "That is Gandhi," he said. In the middle of the crowd, right beside the policemen who  were walking up and down with guns, Gandhi was sleeping like a baby. He knew that God would take care of him.

the British police awakened Gandhi, shinning a light in his face. "We have come to arrest Mr. M. K. Gandhi," they said.

"I am Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi," he said politely. "I am at your service."

"Please get your things ready. We will give you the time you need."

"I am ready now," Gandhi said, pointing to a small bundle on the floor. "That is all I need."

While the police watched, Gandhi brushed his few teeth and said a short prayer. Then he walked briskly to the police car, talking cheerfully to his followers. He knew it might be years before he returned, but he was happy and at peace. He was at his strongest when things seemed most difficult. He always felt free, whether inside prison or out.

Sixty thousands satyagrahis non-violent freedom fighters - were already in prison. Gandhi joined them and became an example to all. For him, jail was not a hardship but an important mission.

"Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself," he wrote. He knew that their brave suffering would help free every man, woman, and child in India. He was so full of joy and good humor that people all over India began joking about their own fears. It became a badge of courage to get arrested. In the jails there were hundreds of happy meetings as prisoners were joined by families and friends who had just been arrested themselves. Gandhi sent the new prisoners noted of Congratulations.

For the rest of his life, Gandhi was being arrested, released, and arrested again. Living in jail did not upset his work at all. He began each morning with meditation and prayer. This gave him strength for his day. Then he wrote answers to hundreds of letters. The rest of the time he worked. He helped fellow prisoners and also the British guards, especially if they were sick. Many of his enemies became friends.