You are here:
132. The message of Asia
Addressing the concluding session of the Inter-Asian Relations Conference on Wednesday the 2nd of April, 1947, in the Purana Quila at Delhi, Gandhiji said: "You, friends, have not seen the real India and you are not meet­ing in conference in the midst of real India. Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Lahore are big cities and are, therefore, influenced by the West. If you really want to see India at its best, you have to find it in the humble Bhangi homes of our villages. There are 7,00,000 of such villages and 38 crores of people inhabit them.
"If some of you see the villages, you will not be fas­cinated by the sight. You will have to scratch below the dung heap. I do not pretend to say that they were ever places of paradise. Today they are really dung heaps. They were not like that before. What I speak is not from his­tory but from what I have seen myself. I have travelled from one end of India to the other and have seen the miserable specimens of humanity with lustreless eyes. They are India. In these humble cottages, in the midst of these dung heaps, are to be found the humble Bhangis in whom you find the concentrated essence of wisdom."
Stating that wisdom had come to the West from the East, Gandhiji said: "The first of these wise men was Zoroaster. He belonged to the East. He was followed by Buddha who belonged to East—India. Who followed Buddha? Jesus, who came from the East. Before Jesus was Moses who belonged to Palestine though he was born in Egypt. After Jesus came Mohammed. I omit any reference to Krishna and Rama, and other lights. I do not call them lesser lights but they are less known to the literary world. All the same I do not know a single person in the world to match these men of Asia. And then what happen­ed? Christianity became disfigured when it went to the West. I am sorry to have to say that.
"I have told you the story in order to make you understand that what you see in the big cities is not the real India. Certainly, the carnage that is going on before our very eyes is a shameful thing. As I said yesterday, do not carry the memory of that carnage beyond the confines of India.
"What I want you to understand is the message of Asia. It is not to be learnt through the Western spectacles or by imitating the atom bomb. If you want to give a message to the West,, it must be the message of love and the message of truth. I do not want merely to appeal to your head. I want to capture your heart.
"In this age of democracy, in this age of awakening of the poorest of the poor, you can redeliver this message with the greatest emphasis. You will complete the conquest of the West not through vengeance because you have been exploited, but with real understanding. I am sanguine if all of you put your hearts together— not merely heads— to understand the secret of the message these wise men of the East have left to us, and if we really become worthy of that great message, the conquest of the West will be completed. This conquest will be loved by the West itself.
"The West is today pining for wisdom. It is despair­ing of a multiplication of the atom bombs, because atom bombs mean utter destruction not merely of the West but of the whole world, as if the prophecy of the Bible is go­ing to be fulfilled and there is to be a perfect deluge. It is up to you to tell the world of its wickedness and sin— that is the heritage your teachers and my teachers have taught Asia.
Harijan, 20-4-1947