The deputation which now returned from England did not bring good news. But I did not mind what conclusions the community world draw from our conversations with Lord Ampthill. I knew who would stand by us till the end. My ideas about Satyagraha had now matured and I had realized its universality as well as its excellence. I was therefore perfectly at ease. Hind Swaraj was written in order to demonstrate the sublimity of Satyagraha and that book is a true measure of my faith in its efficacy. I was perfectly indifferent to the numerical strength of the fighters on our side.
But I was not free from anxiety on the score of finance. It was indeed
hard to prosecute a long protracted struggle without funds. I did not
realize them as clearly as I do now that a struggle can be carried on
without funds, that money very often spoils a righteous fight and that
God never gives a Satyagrahi or mumukshu1 anything beyond his strict needs.
But I had faith in God who did not even then desert me but raised me from
me from the slough of despondency. If on the one hand I had to tell the
Indians on our landing in South Africa that our mission had failed, on
the other hand God relieved me from the financial difficulty. As I set
my foot in Cape Town I received a cable from England that Mr. (afterwards
Sir) Ratanji Jamshedji Tata had given Rs. 25,000 to the Satyagraha funds.
This sum amply sufficed for our immediate needs and we forged ahead.
But this or even the largest possible gift of money could not by itself
help forward Satyagraha struggle, a fight on behalf of Truth consisting
chiefly in self-purification and self-reliance. A Satyagraha struggle
is impossible without capital in the shape of character. As a splendid
palace deserted by its inmates looks like a ruin, so does a man without
character, all his material belongings notwithstanding. The Satyagrahis
now saw that no one could tell how long the struggle would last. On the
one hand there were the Boer generals determined not to yield even an
inch of ground and on the other there was a handful of Satyagrahis pledged
to fight unto death or victory. It was like a war between ants and the
elephant who could crush thousands of them under each of his feet. The
Satyagrahis could not impose a time limit upon their Satyagraha. Whether
it lasted one year or many, it was all the same to them. For them the
struggle itself was victory. Fighting meant imprisonment or deportation
for them. But what about their families in the meanwhile? No one would
engage as an employee a man who was constantly going to jail and when
he was released, how was he to maintain himself as well as those dependent
on him? Where was he to lodge and where was his house rent to come from?
Even a Satyagrahi may be excused if he feels troubled at heart from want
of his daily bread. There cannot be many in the world who would fight
the good fight in spite of being compelled to condemn their nearest and
dearest to the same starvation which they suffered in their own person.
Till now the families of jail-going Satyagrahis were maintained by a system
of monthly allowances in cash according to their need. It would not have
done to grant an equal sum to all. A Satyagrahi who had a family of five
persons dependent upon him could not be placed on a par with another who
was a brahmachari without any family responsibilities. Nor was it possible
to recruit only brahamachari is for our ‘army’. The principle
generally observed was, that only each family was asked to name the minimum
amount adequate to their needs and was paid accordingly on trust. There
was considerable room here for fraud, of which some rogues might not fail
to take advantage. Others who were honest but who were accustomed to live
in a particular style naturally expected such help as would enable them
to keep it up. I saw that at this rate the movement could not be conducted
for any length of time. There was always the risk of injustice being done
to the unscrupulous. There was only one solution for this difficulty,
namely, that all the families should be kept at one place and should become
members of a sort of co-operative commonwealth. Thus there would be no
scope for fraud, nor would there be injustice to any. Public funds would
be largely saved and the families of Satyagrahis would be trained to live
a new and simple life in harmony with one another. Indians belonging to
various provinces and professing diverse faiths would have an opportunity
of living together.
But where was the place suitable for a settlement of this nature? To live
in a city would have been like straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.
The house rent alone would perhaps amount to the same sum as the food
bill, and it would not be easy to live simple life amidst the varied distractions
of a city. Again in a city it would be impossible to find a place where
many families could prosecute useful industry in their own homes. It was
therefore clear that the place selected should be neither too far from
nor too near a city. There was of course Phoenix, where Indian Opinion
was being printed and where there was some cultivation being carried on.
Phoenix was convenient in many other way, but it was three hundred miles
away from Johannesburg and to be reached by a journey of thirty hours.
It was therefore difficult and expensive to take the families such a distance
and bring them back again. Besides, the families would not be ready to
leave their homes for such a far off place, and even if they were ready
it seemed impossible to send them as well as the Satyagrahi prisoners
on their release.
The place required then must be in the Transvaal and near Johannesburg.
Mr. Kallenbach, whose acquaintance the reader has already made, bought
a farm of about 1,100 acres and gave the use of it to Satyagrahis free
of any rent or charge(May 30, 1910). Upon the farm there were nearly one
thousand fruit bearing trees and a small house at the foot of a hill with
accommodation for half-a-dozen persons. Water was supplied from two wells
as wells as from a spring. The nearest railway station, Lawley, was about
a mile from the farm and Johannesburg was twenty-one miles distant. We
decided to build houses upon this Farm and to invite the families of Satyagrahis
to settle there.