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127. "I am still a student"

“Mahatma Gandhi, you are here to address a unique gathering representing a variety of races and nationalities — people representing 57 countries...; a gathering of 200 individuals with 200 opinions full of reactions and incalculable absurdity,” said the chairman of the meet­ing at the International Students' Movement House while introducing Gandhiji to a thoroughly international gathering of men and women students of London on 16th October, 1931.

Mahatmaji was cheered in respectful adoration as he addressed the gathering in an affectionate manner as "Fellow Students". He requested them to forgive him for his desire to pass time that evening in answering questions instead of inflicting upon them a set speech. He said :

"I have addressed you as 'Fellow Students'. It is not a formula. I regard myself essentially as a student and if you are wise, as I am, (laughter) in afterlife you regard yourselves as students."

"Throughout my varied experiences of life," con­tinued Gandhiji, "I have come to the conclusion that our student life commences after we leave our Colleges and Universities and Law Chambers where we are sup­posed to be studying tied down to our studies with the key to our knowledge and when we leave these premises we practically forget all that we have learnt.

"It is really in afterlife that we have to unlearn many things. The so-called student life is merely a preparation for the real life of a student. When you are in College or anywhere else you have got set subjects. Even in the optional subjects you have to learn them in particular fashion because you are definitely hidebound. But after that stage is over you are free like a bird with wings to soar high and the higher you soar the stronger you become. So I am still a student who has not graduated in the world, (cheers).

"When you are buffetted about and thrown on your resources it becomes a tough job. If you give yourselves to study, if you dedicate yourselves to study, to eternal research, there is no limit to joy, there is no limit to pleasure that you derive from that study. My study consis­tently has been the search after Truth. During the early days of my study and search I could not consistently find Truth unless I invited injury against myself and not against others. I could find Truth only when I eschewed all feeling of causing injury to others, but when necessary, inflicting it on myself. Because, as you must be knowing, Truth and Violence are opposed to each other. Violence hides Truth and if you try to find Truth by Violence you will betray the horrible ignorance in the search of Truth and, therefore, Non-violence without any exception what­soever, I have come to realize, is the essence of life, that is, Ahimsa'."