Non-violence and Politics
Non-violence and Politics
I am telling you (Students of Eton) God’s truth when I say that the communal question does not matter and should not worry you at all. But, If you will study history, study the much bigger question - How did millions of people make up their minds to adopt nonviolence and how did they adhere to it? Study, not man in his animal nature, man following the law of the jungle. But study man in all his glory. Those engaged in communal squabbles are like specimens in a lunatic asylum. But study men laying down their lives, without hurting any one, in the cause of their country’s freedom. Study man in the glory, man following the law of his higher nature, the law of the love so that when you grow to manhood you will have improved your heritage. It can be no pride to you that your nation is ruling over ours. No one chained a slave without chaining himself. And no nation kept another in subjection without itself turning into a subject nation. It is a most sinful connection, a most unnatural connection that is exiting at present between England and India and I want you to bless our mission because we are naturally entitled to our freedom which is our birth right and we are doubly entitled to it by virtue of the penance and suffering we have undergone. I want you, when you grow up, to make a unique contribution to the glory of your nation, by emancipating it from its sin of exploitation, and thus contribute to the progress of mankind.
Young India, 12-11-‘31
One who desires to practice ahimsa must for the time being forget all about snakes etc. Let him not worry if he cannot avoid killing them, but try for all he is worth to overcome the anger and ill-will of men by his patient endeavor as a first step toward cultivating universal love.
Abjure brinjals and potatoes by all means, if you will, but do not for heaven’s sake begin to feel self-righteous or flatter yourself that you are practicing ahimsa on that account. The very idea is enough to make one blush. Ahimsa is not a mere matter of dietetics, it is transcends it. What a man eats or drinks matters little : it is the self–denial, the self restraint behind it that matters. By all means practice as much restraint in the choice of the articles of your diet as you like. The restraint is commendable, even necessary, but it touches only the fringe of ahimsa. A man may allow himself a wide latitude in the matter of diet and yet may be a personification of ahimsa and compel our homage, if his heart overflows with love and melts at another’s woe, and has been purged of all passions. On the other hand a man always over scrupulous in diet is an utter stranger to ahimsa and a pitiful wretch, if he is a slave to selfishness and passions and is hard of heart.
Young India, 6-9-’28
Ahimsais a weapon of matchless potency. It is thesummum bonum of life. It is an attribute of the brave, in fact it is their all. It does not come within reach of the coward. It is not wooden or lifeless dogma, but a living and a life-giving force. It is the special attribute of the soul. That is why it has been described as the highest dharma (law). The sun of ahimsa carries all the hosts of darkness such as hatred, anger and malice before itself. Ahimsa in education shines clear and far and can no more be hidden, even as the sun cannot be hidden by any means.
Young India, 6-9-‘28
I am not against their learning modern politics. It will be a good thing if the teachers would collect and bring to their notice newspaper utterance for and against any pending question of the day and teach the students to draw their own conclusions. I have tried the scheme with success. In fact no subject is taboo to the students, as Bertrand Russel and others advocate students should be taught even sex questions. What I am dead against is the students being used as tools for purposes which serve not themselves or those who so use them".
They may not become partisans taking sides with warring parties. But they have a right to be left free to hold and actively to advocate what political opinion they choose. The function of educational institutions is to impart education to the boys and girls who choose to join them and there through to help to mould their character, never to interfere with their political or other non-moral activities outside the school room.
Young India, 24-1-‘29
It is a gross superstition to suppose that knowledge can be obtained only by going to schools and colleges. The world produced brilliant students before schools and colleges came into being. There is nothing so ennobling or lasting as self-study. Schools and Colleges make most of us mere receptacles for holding the superfluities of knowledge. Wheat is left out and mere husk is taken in. I do not wish to decry schools and colleges as such. They have their use. But we are making altogether too much of them. They are but one of the many means of gaining knowledge.
Young India, 25-6-‘31