55. To Romain Rolland
The Ashram,
February 15, 1928
Mira has translated your latest letter for me. My whole soul goes out to you in your grief especially because it comes over a letter which makes you suspect me of hardness of heart. I appreciate your desire to find me correct in all I do and think. I do indeed want to stand well with you, but I must be true to myself if I am to continue to deserve your warm friendship.
Let me first tell you that Mira's letter reflected her own views though they were found to coincide with mine. Neither Mira, so far as I know her, nor I had the remotest idea of judging those two good peasants.1 Their action was undoubtedly one of heroism. What we had in our minds was the heroism of a war resister, and from the record sent by you and as it was interpreted to me by Mira, I missed that particular type of heroism which a war resister demonstrates in his own life. Joan of Arc was a heroine. So were Leonidas and Horatius. But the heroism in each case was of a different type, each noble and admirable in its sphere.
In the answers given by the peasants, I do not notice any definite repugnance to war as war and a determination to suffer to the uttermost in their resistance to war. These peasant friends, if my recollection serves me right, are heroes representing and defending the simple rustic life. These heroes are no less precious than those of a militant war resister type. We want to treasure all this heroism, but what I feel is that we will serve the heroes and the cause of truth better if we treated each type separately.
You have curiously raised the question of my participation in the late War.2 It is a legitimate question. I had answered it in the last autobiographical chapter as if in anticipation of your question. Please read it carefully and tell me at your leisure what you think of the argument.3 I shall treasure your opinion.
Lastly, I do want to reach perfection, but I recognize my limitations, and the recognition is becoming clearer day after day. Who knows in how many places I must be guilty of hardness of heart, and I should not be surprised if you have noticed want of charity in my writings in more places than one. I can only tell you that the lapses are there in spite of my prayerful effort to the contrary. I suppose it was not without reason that the early Christians considered Satan to be not merely an evil principle but evil incarnate. He seems to dominate us in every walk of life and man's mission is to overthrow him from power.
This letter of yours to Mira makes me more and more anxious to see you in the flesh, and there is just a distant hope of my being able to do so this year if I keep good health and if otherwise the inner voice guides me towards Europe. I am seriously considering two invitations, and the desire to meet you may precipitate my decision in favour of accepting those invitations.
Yours sincerely,
From a photostat: S.N. 14942

1 Romain Rolland in his reply dated March 7 wrote: "... I understand what you say regarding those two devout peasants of Savoi. I bow before your reasons, though at the same time I believe that there are very few men and women— (at least in Europe)—with whom 'War-resistance' is not always mixed with other elements of thought, because almost every thought, be it ever so intense, is not in man, completely pure...."
2 Vide An Autobiography, Pt. IV, Ch. XXXVIII.
3 To this Romain Rolland replied: "Pardon me if I say to you that, in spite of all my desire to enter into your thoughts and to approve of them, I simply cannot do so...."