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119. Bapu's Ahimsa In Action

Bapu always believed that good evokes good, evil, evil; and that, therefore, if the evil does not receive the corresponding response, it ceases to act, dies for want of nutrition. That was his experience too. In all the South African jails through which he passed, the officials who were at first unfriendly to him became uniformly friendly because he did not retaliate. Their bitterness was always replied with sweetness.

A European warder suspected Gandhiji. He thought it was his business to suspect every prisoner. As Gandhiji did riot want to do any the slightest thing without the knowledge of the Superintendent, he had told him that if a prisoner passing by salaamed, he would return the salaam and that he was giving to the convict warder in charge all the food that he could not eat. The European warder knew nothing of the conversation with the Superintendent. He once saw a prisoner salaaming Gandhiji and the latter returning the salaam. Though he saw both in the act, he took the ticket from the prisoner alone, which meant that he was going to report him. Gandhiji at once told the warder to report him too as he was equally guilty. But the warder would do nothing of the sort.

Gandhiji wanted to protect the prisoner, but was loth to take the warder to task for his officiousness. He, therefore, mentioned to the Superintendent the salaaming incident without mentioning the conversation that took place between himself and the warder. The warder was surprised indeed, but more than that he was convinced that Gandhiji bore no ill-will against him. From that moment he ceased to suspect Gandhiji.