MY DEAR JAWAHARLAL,
I see that all of you are terribly cut up over the resolutions of
the Working Committee. I sympathize with you, and my heart goes out
to Father. I can picture to myself the agony through which he must
have passed, but I also feel that this letter is unnecessary because
I know that the first shock must have been followed by a true understanding
of the situation. Let us not be obsessed by Devidas's youthful indiscretions.
It is quite possible that the poor boy has been swept off his feet
and that he has lost his balance, but the brutal murder of the constables
by an infuriated crowd which was in sympathy with Non-co-operation
cannot be denied. Nor can it be denied that it was politically minded
crowd. It would have been criminal not to have heeded such a clear
I must tell you that this was the last straw. My letter to the Viceroy
was not sent without misgivings as its language must make it clear
to anyone. I was much disturbed by the Madras doings, but I drowned
the warning voice. I received letters both from Hindus and Mohammedans
from Calcutta, Allahabad and the Punjab, all these before the Gorakhpur
incident, telling me that the wrong was not all on the Government
side, that our people were becoming aggressive, defiant and threatening,
that they were getting out of hand and were not non-violent in demeanour.
Whilst the Ferozepur Jirka incident2 is discreditable to the Government,
we are not altogether without blame. Hakimji complained about Bareilly.
I have bitter complaints about Jajjar. In Shahajanpur too there has
been a forcible attempt to take possession of the Town Hall. From
Kanouj to the Congress Secretary himself telegraphed saying that the
volunteer boys had become unruly and were picketing a High School
and preventing youngsters under 16 from going to the school. 36,000
volunteers were enlisted in Gorakhpur, not 100 of whom conformed to
the Congress pledge. In Calcutta Jamnalalji tells me there is utter
disorganization, the volunteers wearing foreign cloth and certainly
not pledged to non-violence. With all this news in my possession and
much more from the South, the Chauri Chaura news came like a powerful
match to ignite the gunpowder, and there was a blaze. I assure you
that if the thing had not been suspended we would have been leading
not a non-violent struggle but essentially a violent struggle. It
is undoubtedly true that non-violence is spreading like the scent
of the otto of roses throughout the length and breadth of the land,
but the foetid smell of violence is still powerful, and it would be
unwise to ignore or underrate it. The cause will prosper by this retreat.
The movement had unconsciously drifted from the right path. We have
come back to our moorings, and we can again go straight ahead. You
are in as disadvantageous a position as I am advantageously placed
for judging events in this due proportion.
May I give you my own experience of South Africa? We had all kinds
of news brought to us in South Africa in our jails. For two or three
days during my first experience I was glad enough to receive tit-bits,
but I immediately realized the utter futility of interesting myself
in this illegal gratification. I could do nothing, I could send no
message profitably, and I simply vexed my soul uselessly. I felt that
it was impossible for me to guide the movement from the Jail. I therefore
simply waited till I could meet those who were outside and talk to
them freely, and then too I want you to believe me when I tell you
that I took only an academic interest because I felt it was not my
province to judge anything, and I saw how unerringly right I was.
I well remember how the thoughts I had up to the time of my discharge
from the jail on every occasion were modified immediately after discharge
and after getting first-hand information myself. Somehow or other
the jail atmosphere does not allow you to have all the bearings in
your mind. I would therefore like you to dismiss the outer world from
your view altogether and ignore its existence. I know this is a most
difficult task, but if you take up some serious study and some serious
manual work you can do it. Above all, whatever you do, don't you be
disgusted with the spinning wheel. You and I might have reason to
get disgusted with ourselves for having done many things and having
believed many things, but we shall never have the slightest cause
for regret that we have pinned our faith to the spinning wheel or
that we have spun so much good yarn per day in the name of the motherland.
You have the Song Celestial with you. I cannot give you the inimitable
translation of Edwin Arnold, but this is the rendering of the Sanskrit
text. "There is no waste of energy; there is no destruction in
this. Even a little of this Dharma saves one from many a pitfall."
"This Dharma" in the original refers to Karma Yoga, and
the Karma Yoga of our age is the spinning wheel. I want a cheering
letter from you after the freezing dose you have sent me through Pyarelal.