The way of the Cross
Fasting cannot be undertaken
mechanically. It is a powerful thing but a dangerous thing if
handled amateurishly. It requires complete self-purification much
more than what is required in facing death with retaliation even in
mind. One such act of perfect sacrifice would suffice for the whole
world. Such is held to be Jesus example.
The idea is that you yourself and
assimilate the essence of his sacrifice, symbolically represented by
the bread and wine of the Eucharist. A man who was completely
innocent offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others,
including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a
perfect act. ‘It is finished’ were the last words of Jesus, and we
have the testimony of his four disciples as to its authenticity.
But whether the Jesus tradition is
historically true or not I do not care. To me it is truer than
history because I hold it to be possible and it enshrines and
eternal law the law of vicarious and innocent suffering taken in its
Genesis of Fasting
The thought of a 24 hour’s fast had
come to me one night in a dream. I had consulted Rajaji whose guest
I then was in Madras. The idea had appealed to the latter, notices
had been issued at once and there had been a widespread and hearty
response to the call. I had never dreamt that the country had been
so awakened, and by the country I mean not the country had been so
awakened, and by the country I mean not the few cities of India but
the seven lakhs of villages where the vast mass of Indian humanity
lives. I appeal to you to respond to the call once again, but only
if you understand its implications. The fast who undertaken in those
days for the sake of vindicating Swaraj through Hindu Muslim unity,
and the charkha, etc.
Fasting in Hinduism, Islam
Certainly. (‘Fasting is prescribed by
our religion.’) What did the Rishis of old do? It is unthinkable
that they ate anything during their penances, in some cases gone
through in caves, and for hundreds of years. Parvati who did penance
to win Shiva would not touch even the leaves of trees, much less
fruit or food. Hinduism is full of penance and prayer.
But I know of this sort of penance
even in Islam. In the life of the Prophet, I have read that the
Prophet often fasted and prayed, and forbade others to copy him.
Some one asked him why he did not allow others to do the thing he
himself was doing. ‘Because I live on food divine,’ He said. He
achieved most of his great things by fasting and prayer. I learnt
from him that only he can fast who has inexhaustible faith in god.
The Prophet had relationships not in moments of ease and luxurious
living. He fasted and prayed, kept awake for night s together and
would be on his feet at all hours of the night as he received the
revelations. Even at this moment I see before me the picture of the
Prophet thus fasting and praying.
Purpose of Fast
My religion teaches me to love all
equally. May god help me to do so. My fast, is, among other things,
meant to qualify me for achieving that equal and self less love.
The object of the previous fasts was
limited. The object of this is unlimited, and there is boundless
love at the back of it. I am today bathing in that ocean of love.
The penance of the Hindus and
Musalmans is not fasting but retracing their steps. It is true
penance for a Musalmans to harbor no ill for his Hindu brother, and
an equally true penance for a Hindu to harbor none for his Musalman
I ask of no Hindu or Musalman to
surrender an iota of his religious principle. Only let him be sure
that it is religion. But I do ask of every Hindu and Musalman not to
fight for an earthy gain. I should be deeply hurt if my last made
wither community surrender on a matter of principle.
But is it right for me to go through
the fast under a Musalman roll? Yes, it is. The fast is not born out
of ill-will against a single soul. My being under a Musalman roof
ensures it against any such interpretation. It is in the fitness of
things that this fast should be taken up and completed in a Musalman
All I have done, all I am doing, is
done in a fully God fearing spirit, and in the house of a God
fearing Musalman at that.
Bidding of Inner Voice
Though the Voice within has been
beckoning for a long time, I have been shutting my ears to it, lest
it may be the voice of Satan, otherwise called my weakness. I never
like to feel resource less; a Satyagrahi never should. Fasting is
his resort in the place of sword his or other’s.
With God as my supreme and sole
counselor, I felt that I must take the decision without any other
adviser It I have made a mistake and discover it, I shall have no
hesitation in proclaiming it from the housetops and retracing my
faulty step. There is little chance of my making such a discovery.
If there is clear indication as I claim there is, of the Inner
Voice, it will not be gain said.
Potency of the Fast
I do not regard this fast as an
ordinary fast. I have undertaken it after deep thought and yet it
has sprung not from reasoning but God’s will that rules men’s
reason. It is addressed to no particular section or individual and
yet it is addressed equally to all. There is no trace of anger of
any kind behind it nor the slightest tinge of impatience. But behind
it is the realization that there is a time for everything and an
opportunity, once missed never returns. The fast is bid for nothing
Yearning for Heart Friendship
I yearn for heart friendship between
the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Muslims. It is subsisted between them
the other day. Today it is non-existent. It is a state that no
Indian patriot worthy of the name can contemplate with equanimity.
I have no answer to return to the
Muslim friends who see me from day to day as to what they should do.
My impotence has been gnawing at me of late. It will go immediately
the last is undertaken. I have been brooding over it for the last
three days. The final conclusion has flashed upon me and it makes me
happy. No man if he is pure has anything more precious to give than
his life. I hope and pray that I have that purity in me to justify
A pure fast, like duty, is its own
reward I do not embark upon it for the sake of the result it may
bring. I do so because I must. Hence, I urge everybody
dispassionately to examine the purpose and let me die, If I must, in
peace which I hope is ensured. Death for me would be a glorious
deliverance rather than that I should be a helpless witness of the
destruction of India, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. That destruction
is certain if Pakistan ensures no equality of status and security of
the life and property for all professing the various faiths of the
world and if India copies her. Only, then Islam dies in the two
India’s, not in the world. But Hinduism and Sikhism have no world