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139. The root cause of Partition
Many people come to Gandhiji and express their dis­satisfaction over the partition of India. They know that Gandhiji has always been opposed to it. Why does he not give tangible form to his opposition? they ask. It is wrong for him to say that he is a spent bullet or that the country is not behind him. "Give us the lead and you will see for yourself whether the country is behind you or not." Gandhiji is sometimes amused by such talk. Against whom is he to give the lead? It was not the British who had partitioned the country. It had been done with the consent of the Congress howsoever reluctantly. There was only one way to avoid the calamity and that was by the non-violence of the brave. But how could the people develop it overnight? Talking to some friends on this subject he said that the leaders had agreed to the partition as the last resort. They did not feel that they had made a mistake. Rather than let the whole country go to the dogs, they agreed to the partition, hoping to give the country a much needed rest. He felt differently. He had said that he would rather let the whole country be reduced to ashes than yield an inch to violence. But non-violence was his creed. It was not so with the Congress. The Congress had accepted non-violence as a policy. Badshah Khan was the only leader who believed in non-violence as a creed. Even he had not imbibed the doctrine through and through.
"I have admitted my mistake," he continued. "I thought our struggle was based on non-violence. Whereas in reality it was no more than passive resistance which essentially is a weapon of the weak. It leads naturally to armed resistance whenever possible." In South Africa the English Chairman of his meeting, the late Mr. Hosken, had said that he (Gandhiji) was fighting for the cause of the weak. Therefore he was resorting to passive resistance. Gandhiji had contradicted the statement. He had said that they were not weak in the sense the Chairman meant. The struggle in the Transvaal was not passive resistance. It was based on non-violence. The source of their strength was soul force, not physical force.
Intoxicated with his success in South Africa, he came to India. Here too the struggle bore fruit. But he now realized that it was not based on non-violence. If he had known so then, he would not have launched the struggle. But God wanted to take that work from him. So He blurred his vision. It was because their struggle was not non-violent that they today witnessed loot, arson and murder.
A friend interposed that Gandhiji had always main­tained that our struggle was based on non-violence, though of the weak.
Gandhiji said that his was a mistaken statement. There was no such thing as non-violence of the weak. Non­violence and weakness was a contradiction in terms. He had never experienced the dark despair that was today within him. He was a born fighter who did not know fai­lure. But he was groping today.
"But why should you feel despondent?" persisted the friend. "I see clearly," replied Gandhiji, "that if the country cannot be turned to non-violence it will be bad for it and the world. It will mean goodbye to freedom. It might even mean a military dictatorship. I am day and night thinking how non-violence of the brave can be cultivated.
"I said at the Asiatic Conference that I hoped the fragrance of the non-violence of India would permeate the whole world. I often wonder if that hope will materialize."
New Delhi, 18-7-'47
Harijan, 27-7-1947