MY DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER,
I send you as President of the Congress a few words which I know our
countrymen expect from me on my sudden release. I am sorry that the
Government have prematurely released me on account of my illness.
Such a release can bring me no joy, for I hold that the illness of
the prisoner affords no grounds for his release.
I would be guilty of ungratefulness if I did not tell you, and through
you the whole public, that both the jail and the hospital authorities
have been all attention during my illness. Col. Murray, the Superintendent
of the Yeravda Prison, as soon as he suspected that my illness was
at all serious, invited Col. Maddock to assist him and I am sure that
the promptest measures were taken by him to secure for me the best
treatment possible. I could not have been removed to the David and
Sassoon Hospitals a moment earlier. Col. Maddock and his staff have
treated me with the utmost attention and kindness. I may not omit
the nurses who have surrounded me with sisterly care. Though it is
now open to me to leave this hospital, knowing that I can get no better
treatment anywhere else, with Col. Maddock's kind permission I have
decided to remain under his care till the wound is healed and no further
medical treatment is necessary.
The public will easily understand that for some time to come I shall
be quite unfit for active work, and those who are interested in my
speedy return to active life will hasten it by postponing their natural
desire to see me. I am unfit and shall be so for some weeks perhaps
to see a number of visitors. I shall better appreciate the affection
of friends if they will devote greater time and attention to such
national work as they may be engaged in and especially to hand-spinning.
My release has brought me no relief. Whereas before release I was
free from responsibility save that of conforming, to jail discipline
and trying to qualify myself for more efficient service, I am now
overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility I am ill-fitted to discharge.
Telegrams of congratulations have been pouring in upon me. They have
but added to the many proofs I have received of the affection of our
countrymen for me. It naturally pleases and comforts me. Many telegrams,
however, betray hopes of results from my service which stagger me.
The thought of my utter incapacity to cope with the work before me
humbles my pride.
Though I know very little of the present situation in the country,
I know sufficient to enable me to see that, perplexing as the national
problems were at the time of the Bardoli resolutions, they are far
more perplexing today. It is clear that, without unity between Hindus,
Mahomedans, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians and other Indians, all talk
of Swaraj is idle. This unity which I fondly believed, in 1922, had
been nearly achieved has, so far as Hindus and Mussalmans are concerned,
I observe, suffered a severe check. Mutual trust has given place to
distrust. An indissoluble bond between the various communities must
be established if we are to win freedom. Will the thanksgiving of
the nation over my release be turned into a solid unity between the
communities? That will restore me to health far quicker than any medical
treatment or rest-cure. When I heard in the jail of the tension between
Hindus and Mussalmans in certain places, my heart sank within me.
The rest I am advised to have will be no rest with the burden of disunion
preying upon me. I ask all those who cherish love towards me to utilize
it in furtherance of the union we all desire. I know that the task
is difficult. But nothing is difficult if we have a living faith in
God. Let us realize our own weakness and approach Him and He will
surely help. It is weakness which breeds fear and fear breeds distrust.
Let us both shed our fear, but I know that even if one of us will
cease to fear, we shall cease to quarrel. Nay, I say that your tenure
of office will be judjed solely by what you can do in the cause of
union. I know that we love each other as brothers. I ask you, therefore,
to share my anxiety and help me to go through the period of illness
with a lighter heart.
If we could but visualize the growing pauperism of the land and realize
that the spinning-wheel is the only remedy for the disease, the wheel
will leave us little leisure for fighting. I had during the last two
years ample time and solitude for hard thinking. It made me a firmer
believer than ever in. the efficacy of the Bardoli programme and,
therefore, in the unity between the races, the Charkha, the removal
of untouchability and the application of non-violence in thought,
word and deed to our methods as indispensable for Swaraj. If we faithfully
and fully carry out this programme, we need never resort to civil
disobedience and I should hope that it will never be necessary. But
I must state that my thinking prayerfully and in solitude has not
weakened my belief in the efficiency and righteousness of civil disobedience.
I hold it, as never before, to be a man's or a nation's right and
duty when its vital being is in jeopardy. I am convinced that it is
attended with less danger than war and, whilst the former, when successful,
benefits both the resister and the wrong-doer, the latter harms both
the victor and the vanquished.
You will not expect me to express any opinion on the vexed question
of return by Congressmen to the Legislative Councils and Assembly
Though I have not in any way altered my opinion about the boycott
of Councils, Law Courts and Government Schools, I have no data for
coming to a judgment upon the alterations made at Delhi, and I do
not propose to express any opinion until I have had the opportunity
of discussing the question with our illustrious countrymen who have
felt called upon, in the interest of the country, to advise removal
of the boycott of legislative bodies.
In conclusion, may I, through you thank all the very numerous senders
of congratulatory messages. It is not possible for me personally to
acknowledge each message. It has gladdened my heart to see among the
messages many from our Moderate friends. I have, and non-co- operators
can have, no quarrel with them. They too are well-wishers of their
country and serve to tjie best of their lights. If we consider them
to be in the wrong we can hope to win them over only by friendliness
and patient reasoning, never by abusing. Indeed, we want to regard
Englishmen too as our friends and not misunderstand them by treating
them as our enemies. And if we are today engaged in a struggle against
the British Government, it is against the system for which it stands
and not against Englishmen who are administering the system. I know
that many of us have failed to understand and always bear in mind
the distinction and, in so far as we have failed, we have harmed our