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75. How to canalize hatred
Hatred is in the air and impatient lovers of the country will gladly take advantage of it, if they can, through violence, to further the cause of independence. I suggest that it is wrong at any time and everywhere. But it is more wrong and unbecoming in a country where fighters for freedom have declared to the world that their policy is truth and non-violence. Hatred, they argue, cannot be turned into love. Those who believed in violence will naturally use it by saying, 'kill your enemy, injure him and his property wherever you can, whether openly or secretly as necessity requires'. The result will be deeper hatred and counter hatred, and vengeance let loose on both sides. The recent war, whose members have yet hardly died, loudly proclaims the bankruptcy of this use of hatred. And it remains to be seen whether the so-called victors have really won or whether they have not depressed themselves in seeking and trying to depress their enemies. It is a bad game at its best. Some philosophers of action in this country improve upon the model and say, 'We shall never kill our enemy but we shall destroy his property.' Perhaps I do them an injustice when I call it 'his property', for the remarkable thing is that the so-called enemy has brought no property of his own and what little he has brought he makes us pay for. Therefore, what we destroy is really our own. The bulk of it, whether in men or things, he produces here. So what he really has is the custody of it. For the destruction too we have to pay through the nose and it is the innocent who are made to pay. That is the implication of punitive tax and all it carries with it. Non­violence in the sense of mere non-killing does not appear to me, therefore, to be any improvement on the technique of violence. It means slow torture and when slowness becomes ineffective we shall immediately revert to killing and to the atom bomb, which is the last word in violence today. Therefore, I suggested in 1920 the use of non­violence and its inevitable twin companion truth, for canalizing hatred into the proper channel. The hater hates not for the sake of hatred but because he wants to drive away from his country the hated being or beings. He will, therefore, as readily achieve his end by non-violent as by violent means. For the past 25 years, willingly or unwillingly, the Congress has spoken to the masses in favour of non-violence as against violence for regaining our lost liberty. We have also discovered through our progress that in the application of non-violence we have been able to reach the mass mind far more quickly and far more extensively than ever before. And yet, if truth is told as it must be, our non-violent action has been half-hearted. Many have preached non-violence through the lips while harbouring violence in the breast. But the unsophisticated mass mind has read the secret meaning hidden in our breast and the unconscious reaction has not been altogether as it might have been. Hypocrisy has acted as an ode to virtue, but it could never take its place. And so I plead for non-violence and yet more non-violence. I do so not without knowledge but with sixty years' experience behind me. This is the critical moment, for the dumb masses are today starving. There are many ways that will suggest themselves to the wise reader as to how to apply the canons of non-violence to the present needs of the country. The hypnotism of the I.N.A.* has cast its spell upon us. Netaji's name is one to conjure with. His patriotism is second to none. (I use the present tense intentionally). His bravery shines through all his actions. He aimed high but failed. Who has not failed? Ours is to aim high and to aim well. It is not given to everyone to command success. My praise and admiration can go no further. For I knew that his action was doomed to failure, and that I would have said so even if he had brought his I.N.A. victorious to India, because the masses would not have come into their own in this manner. The lesson that Netaji and his army bring to us is one of self-sacrifice, unity irrespective of class and community, and discipline. If our adoration will be wise and discriminating, we will rigidly copy this trinity of virtues, but we will as rigidly abjure violence. I would not have the I.N.A. man think or say that he and his can ever deliver the masses of India from bondage by force of arms. But if he is true to Netaji and still more so to the country, he will spend himself in teaching the masses, men, women and children, to be brave, self-sacrificing and united. Then we will be able to stand erect before the world. But if he will merely act the armed soldiers, he will only lord it over the masses and the fact that he will be a volunteer will not count for much. I, therefore, welcome the decla­ration made by Capt. Shah Nawaz that to be worthy of Netaji, on having come to Indian soil, he will act as a humble soldier of non-violence in Congress ranks.
Sevagram, 15-2-'46
Harijan, 24-2-1946

* The Indian National Army (I.N.A.) was formed in Singapore in 1941-42. It hoped under the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to free India from British rule. When the British regained Singapore and Burma, -the I.N.A. men were taken prisoners by the British and tried in India. —Ed.