Reader: Is there any historical evidence as to the success
of what you have
called soul-force or truth-force? No instance seems to have happened of any
nation having risen through soul-force. I still think that the evil-doers will
not cease doing evil without physical punishment.
Editor: The poet Tulsidas has
said: "Of religion, pity, or love, is the root, as egotism of the body.
Therefore, we should not abandon pity so long as we are alive." This
appears to me to be a scientific truth. I believe in it as much as I believe in
two and two being four. The force of love is the same as the force of the soul
or truth. We have evidence of its working at every step. The universe would
disappear without the existence of that force. But you ask for historical
evidence. It is, therefore, necessary to know what history means. The Gujarati
equivalent means: "It so happened". If that is the meaning of history,
it is possible to give copious evidence. But, if it means the doings of the
kings and emperors, there can be no evidence of soul-force or passive resistance
in such history. You cannot expect silver ore in a tin mine. History, as we know
it, is a record of the wars of the world, and so there is a proverb among
Englishmen that a nation which has no history, that is, no wars, is a happy
nation. How kings played, how they became enemies of one another, how they
murdered one another, is found accurately recorded in history, and if this were
all that had happened in the world, it would have been ended long ago. If the
story of the universe had commenced with wars, not a man would have been found
alive today. Those people who have been warred against have disappeared as, for
instance, the natives of Australia of whom hardly a man was left alive by the
intruders. Mark please, that these natives did not use soul force in
self-defense, and it does not require much foresight to know that the
Australians will share the same fate as their victims. "Those that take the
sword shall perish by the sword." With us the proverb is that professional
swimmers will find a watery grave.
The fact that there are so many men still alive in the world
shows that it is based on the force of arms but on the force of truth or love.
Therefore, the greatest and most unimpeachable evidence of the success of this
force is to be found in the fact that, in spite of the wars in the world, it
still lives on.
Thousands, indeed tens of thousands, depend for their existence on
a very active working of this force. Little quarrels of millions of families in
their lives disappear before the exercise of this force. Hundreds of nations
live in peace. History does not and cannot take note of this fact. History is
really a record of every interruption of the even working of this force of love
or of the soul. Two brothers quarrel; one of them repents and re-awakens the
love that was lying dormant in him; and the two again began to live in peace;
nobody takes note of this. But if the two brothers, through the intervention of
solicitors or some other reason take up arms or go to law which is another form
of brute force, their doings would be immediately noticed in the press, they
would be the talk of their neighbors and would probably go down to history. And
what is true of families and communities is true of nations. There is no reason
to believe that there is one law for families and another for nations. History,
then, is a record of an interruption of the course of nature. Soul-force, being
natural is not noted in history.
Reader: According to what you say, it is plain
that instances of this kind of passive resistance are not to be found in
history. It is necessary to understand this passive resistance more fully. It
will be better, therefore, if you enlarge upon it.
Editor: Passive resistance is a method of securing rights by personal
suffering, it is the reverse of resistance by arms. When I refuse to do a thing
that is repugnant to my conscience, I use soul-force. For instance, the
Government of the day has passed a law which is applicable to me. I do not like
it. If by using violence I, force the Government to repeal the law, I am
employing what may be termed body force. If I do not obey the law and accept
the penalty for its breach, I use soul-force. It involves sacrifice of self.
Everybody admits that sacrifice of self is, infinitely superior to sacrifice of
others. Moreover, if this kind of force is used in a cause that is unjust only
the person using, it suffers, he does not make others suffer for his mistakes.
Men have before now done many things which were subsequently found to have
been wrong. No man can claim that he is absolutely in the right or that particular thing is wrong because he thinks so, but it is wrong for him so
long as that is his deliberate judgment. It is therefore meet that he should not
do that which he knows to be wrong, and suffer the consequence whatever it may
be. This is the key to the use of soul-force.
Reader: You would then disregard laws this is rank disloyalty. We have always been considered a
nation. You seem to be going even beyond the extremists. They say that we must
obey the laws that have been pressed but that if the laws be had, we must drive
out the law givers even by force.
Editor: Whether I go beyond them or whether I
do not is a matter of no consequence to either of us. We simply want to find
out what is right and to act accordingly. The real meaning of the statement that
we are a law-abiding, nation is that we are passive resisters. When we do not
like certain laws, we do not break the heads of lawgivers but we suffer and do
not submit to the laws. That we should obey laws whether good or bad is a
newfangled notion. There was no such thing in former days. The people
those laws they did not like and suffered the penalties for their breach. It is contrary to our manhood if we obey laws repugnant to our conscience.
Such teaching is opposed to a religion and means slavery. If the Government were
to ask us to go about without any clothing, should we do so? If I were a passive
resister, I would say to them that I would have nothing to do with their law.
But we have so forgotten ourselves and become so compliant that we do not mind
any degrading law.
A man who has realized his manhood, who fears. only God, will
fear no one else. Man made laws are not necessarily binding on him. Even the
Government does not expect any such things from us. They do not say: "You
must do such and such a thing," but they say: "if you do not do it, we
will punish you." We are sunk so low that we fancy that it is our duty and
our religion to do what the law lays down. If man will only realize that it is
unmanly to obey laws that are unjust, no man's tyranny will enslave him. This is
the key to self-rule or home-rule.
It is a superstition and ungodly thing to
believe that an act of a majority binds a minority. Many examples can be given
in which acts of majorities will be found to have been wrong and those of
minorities to have been right. All reforms owe their origin to the initiation of
minorities in opposition to majorities. If among a band of robbers a knowledge
of robbing is obligatory, is a pious man to accept the obligation? So long as
the superstition that men should obey unjust laws exists, so long will their
slavery exist. And a passive resister alone can remove such a superstition.
use brute force, to use gunpowder, is contrary to passive resistance, for it
means that we want our opponent to do by force that which we desire but he does
not. And if such a use of force is justifiable surely he is entitled to do
likewise by us. And so we should never come to an agreement. We may simply
fancy, like the blind horse moving in a circle round a mill, that we are making
progress. Those who believe that they are not bound to obey laws which are
repugnant to their conscience have only the remedy of passive resistance open to
them. Any other must lead to disaster.
Reader: From what you say I deduce that passive resistance is a
splendid weapon of the weak, but that when they are strong they may take up
Editor: This is gross ignorance. Passive resistance, that is, soul-force,
is matchless. It is superior to the force of arms. How, then. can it he
considered only a weapon of the weak? Physical-force men are strangers to the
courage that is requisite in a passive resister. Do you believe that a coward
can ever disobey a law that he dislikes? Extremists are considered to be
advocates of brute force. Why do they, then, talk about obeying laws? I do not
blame them. They can say nothing else. When they succeed in driving out the
English and they themselves become governors, they will want you and me to obey
their laws. And that is a fitting thing for their constitution. But a passive
resister will say he will not obey a law that is against his conscience, even
though he may be blown to pieces at the mouth of a cannon.
What do you think?
Wherein is courage required-in blowing others to pieces from behind a cannon, or
with a smiling face to approach a cannon and be blown to pieces? Who is the true
warrior be, who keeps death always as a bosom-friend, or he who controls the
death of others? Believe me that a man devoid of courage and manhood can never
be a passive resister.
This however, I will admit: that even a man weak in body
is capable of offering this resistance. One man can offer it just as well as
millions. Both men and women can indulge in it. It does not require the training
of an army; it needs no jiujitsu. Control over the mind is alone necessary,
and when that is attained, man is free like the king of the forest and his very
glance withers the enemy.
Passive resistance is an all-sided sword, it can be
used anyhow; it blesses him who uses it and him against whom it is used. Without
drawing a drop of blood it produces far reaching results. It never rusts and
cannot he stolen. Competition between passive resisters does not exhaust. The
of passive resistance does not require a scabbard. It is strange indeed that you
should consider such a weapon to be a weapon merely of the weak.
Reader: You have said that passive resistance is
a specialty of India. Have cannons never been used in India?
Editor: Evidently, in your opinion, India means its few
princes. To me it means its teeming millions on whom depends the existence of
its princes and our own.
Kings will always use their kingly weapons. To use
force is bred in them. They want to command, but those who have to obey commands
do not want guns: and these are in a majority throughout the world. They have to
learn either body-force or soul-force. Where they the former, both the rulers
and the ruled become like so many madmen: but where they learn soul-force, the
commands of the rulers do not go beyond the point of their swords, for true men
disregard unjust commands. Peasants have never been subdued by the sword, and
never will be. They do not know use of sword and they are not frightened by the
use of it by others. That nation is great which rests its head upon death as its
pillow. Those who defy death are free from all fear. For those who are laboring
under delusive charms of brute-force, this picture is not over-drawn. The fact
is that, in India the nation at large has generally used passive resistance in
all departments of life. We cease to co-operate with our rulers when they
displease us. This is passive resistance.
I remember an instance when, in a small
principality, the villagers were offended by some command issued by the prince.
The former immediately began vacating the village. The prince became nervous,
apologized to his subjects and withdrew his command. Many such instances can be
found in India. Real home rule is possible only where passive resistance is the
guiding force of the people. Any other rule is foreign rule.
Reader: Then you will say that it is not at all
necessary for us to train the body?
Editor: I will certainly not say any such
thing. It is difficult to become a passive resister unless the body is trained. As a
mind, residing in a body, that has become weakened by pampering, is also weak,
and where there is no strength of mind there can be no strength of soul. We
shall have to improve our physique by getting rid of infant marriages and
luxurious living. If I were to ask a man with a shattered body to face a
cannon's mouth I should make a laughing-stock of myself.
Reader: From what you
say. then, it would appear that it is not a small thing to become a passive
resister, and, if that is so, I should like you to explain how a man may become
Editor: To become a passive resister is easy enough but it is also equally
difficult. I have known a lad of fourteen years become a passive resister: I
have known also sick people do likewise; and I have also known physically
strong and other- wise happy people unable to take up passive resistance.
After a great deal of experience it seems to me that those who want to become
passive resisters for the service of the country have to observe perfect
chastity, adopt poverty, follow truth, and cultivate fearlessness.
one of the greatest disciplines without which the mind cannot attain requisite
firmness. A man who is unchaste loses stamina. becomes emasculated and cowardly.
He whose mind is given over to animal passions is not capable of any great
effort. This can be proved by innumerable instances. What. then, is a married
person to do is the question that arises naturally; and yet it need not., When a
husband and wife gratify the passions. it is no less an animal indulgence on
that account. Such an indulgence, except for perpetuating the race. is strictly
prohibited. But a passive resister has to avoid even that very limited
indulgence because he can have no desire for progeny. A married man, therefore.
can observe perfect chastity. This subject is not capable of being treated at
greater length. Several question's arise: How is one to carry one's wife with
one, what are her rights. and other similar questions. Yet those who wish to
take part in a great work are bound to solve these puzzles.
Just as there is necessity for chastity, so is there
for poverty. pecuniary ambition and passive resistance cannot well go together.
Those who have money are not expected to throw it away. They must be prepared to
lose every penny rather than give up passive resistance.
Passive resistance has been described in the course of
our discussion as truth-force. Truth, therefore, has necessarily to be followed
and that at any cost. In this connection, academic questions occur only to those
who wish to justify lying. Those who want to follow truth every time are not
placed in such a quandary; and if they are, they are still saved from a small
Passive resistance cannot proceed a step without
fearlessness. Those alone can follow the path of passive resistance who are free
from fear, whether as to their possessions, false honor, their relatives, the
government, bodily injuries or death.
These observances are not to be abandoned in the belief
that they are
difficult. Nature has implanted in the human breast ability to cope with any
difficulty or suffering that may come to man unprovoked. These qualities are
worth having, even for those who do not wish to serve the country. Let there be
no mistake, as those who want to train themselves in the use of arms are also
obliged to have these qualities more or less. Everybody does not become a
warrior for the wish. A would-be warrior will have to observe chastity and to
be satisfied with poverty as his lot. A warrior without fearlessness cannot be
conceived of. It may be thought that he would not need to be exactly
truthful, but that quality follows real fearlessness. When a man abandons truth
he does so owing to fear in some shape or form. The above four attributes.
then, need not frighten anyone. It may be as well here to note that a
physical-force man has to have many other useless qualities which a passive
resister never needs. And You will find that whatever extra effort a swordsman
needs is due to lack of fearlessness. If he is an embodiment of the latter, the
sword will drop from his hand that very moment. He does not need its support.
One who is free from hatred requires no sword. A man with stick suddenly came
face to face with a lion and instinctively raised his weapon in self-defense.
The man saw that he had only prated about fearlessness when there was none in
him. That moment he dropped the stick and found himself free from all fear.