You want to know my ideas about Satyagraha. Here they are in brief
The English phrase "passive resistance" does not suggest
the power I wish to write about; "Satyagraha" is the right
word. Satyagraha is soul-force, as opposed to armed strength. Since
it is essentially an ethical weapon, only men inclined to the ethical
way of life can use it wisely. Prahlad, Mirabai, and others were Satyagrahis.
At the time of the Morocco fighting, the Arabs were under fire from
French guns. The Arabs were fighting, as they believed, solely for
their religion. Reckless of their lives, they advanced running towards
the French guns with cries of "Ya Allah".2 Here, there was
no scope at all for fighting back to kill. The French gunners refused
to fire on these Arabs and, throwing up their caps, ran to embrace
these brave Arabs with shouts of joy. This is an example of Satyagraha
and the success it can achieve. The Arabs were not Satyagrahis by
deliberate choice. They got ready to face death under pressure of
a strong impulse, and had no love in their hearts. A Satyagrahi bears
no ill-will, does not lay down his life in anger, but refuses rather
to submit to his "enemy" or oppressor because he has the
strength himself to suffer. He should, therefore, have a courageous
spirit and a forgiving and compassionate nature. Imam Hassan and Hussain3
were merely two boys. They felt that an injustice had been done to
them. When called upon to surrender, they refused. They knew at the
time that this would mean death for them. If, however, they were to
submit to injustice, they would disgrace their manhood and betray
their religion. In these circumstances, they yielded to the embrace
of death. The heads of these fine young men rolled on the battlefield.
In my view, Islam did not attain its greatness by the power of the
sword but entirely through the self- immolation of its fakirs. It
is soldier-like to allow oneself to be cut down by a sword, not to
use the sword on another. When he comes to realize that he is guilty
of murder, the killer, if he has been in the wrong, will feel sorry
forever afterwards. The victim, however, will have gained nothing
but victory even if he had acted wrongly in courting death. Satyagraha
is the way of non-violence. It is, therefore, justified, indeed it
is the right course, at all times and all places. The power of arms
is violence and condemned as such in all religions. Even those who
advocate the use of arms put various limits on it. There are no limits
on Satyagraha, or rather, none except those placed by the Satyagrahi's
capacity for tapascharya,4 for voluntary suffering.
Obviously, it is irrelevant to raise issues about the legality of
such Satyagraha. It is for the Satyagrahi to decide. Observers may
judge Satyagraha after the event. The world's displeasure will not
deter a Satyagrahi. Whether or not Satyagraha should be started is
not decided by any mathematical rule. A man who believes that Satyagraha
may be started only after weighing the chances of defeat and victory
and assuring oneself of the certainty of victory, may be a shrewd
enough politician or an intelligent man, but he is no Satyagrahi.
A Satyagrahi acts spontaneously.
Satyagraha and arms have both been in use from time immemorial. We
find them praised in the extant scriptures. They are the expressions,
one of the daivi sampad5 and the other of the asuri sampad,6 We believe
that in former times in India the daivi sampad was much the stronger
of the two. Even today that is the ideal we cherish. Europe provides
the most striking example of the predominance of the asuri sampad.
Both these forms of strength are preferable to weakness, to what we
know by the rather plain but much after word 'cowardice'. Without
either, Swaraj or genuine popular awakening is impossible. Swaraj
achieved otherwise than through resort to one or the other will not
be true Swaraj. Such Swaraj can have no effect on the people. Popular
awakening cannot be brought about without strength, without manliness.
Let the leaders say what they like and the Government strive its utmost,
unless they and we, all of us, strengthen the forces of Satyagraha,
the methods of violence are bound automatically to gain ascendancy.
They are like weeds which grow wild in any soil. The crop of Satyagraha
requires willingness to exert oneself or a venturesome spirit by way
of manure. Just as, moreover, the seedlings are likely to be lost
among the weeds if the latter are not plucked out, so also will weeds
of violence keep growing unless we keep the land free of them by tapascharya
and, with compassion, pluck out those which have already grown. We
can, with the help of Satyagraha win over those young men who have
been driven to desperation and anger by what they think to be the
tyranny of the Government and utilize their courage and their mettlesome
spirit, their capacity for suffering, to strengthen the daivi sampad
of Satyagraha. It is therefore very much to be desired that Satyagraha
is propagated as quickly as it can be. This is in the interest both
of the rulers and the ruled. The Satyagrahi desires to harass neither
the Government nor anyone else. He takes no step without the fullest
deliberation He is never arrogant. Consequently, he will keep away
from 'boycott' but be always firm in the vow of Swadeshi as a matter
of duty. He fears God alone, so that no other power can intimidate
him. He will never, out of fear of punishment, leave a duty undone.
I need hardly say now that it is our duty to resort to Satyagraha
to secure the release of the learned Annie Besant and her co-workers.
Whether we approve of every or any action of hers is another question.
I, for one, certainly do not approve of some of them; all the same,
her incarceration by the Government is a great mistake and an act
of injustice. I know, of course, that the Government does not think
it a mistake. Maybe the people are wrong in desiring her release.
The Government has acted according to its lights. What can the people
do to express their outraged feelings? Petitions, etc., are good enough
when one's suffering is bearable. When it is unbearable, there is
no remedy but Satyagraha. Only when people find it unbearable will
they, and only those who find it unbearable will, devote their all,
body, mind and possessions, to securing the release of Annie Besant.
This will be a powerful expression of popular feeling. It is my unshakable
faith that before so great a self-sacrifice even the power of an emperor
will give way. People may certainly restrain their feelings in view
of the forthcoming visit of Mr Montague. That will be an expression
of faith in his sense of justice. If she is not released, however,
before his arrival, it will be our duty to resort to Satyagraha We
do not want to provoke the Government or put difficulties in its way.
By resorting to Satyagraha, we reveal the intensity of our injured
feelings and thereby serve the Government.