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76. The Message of the I. N. A.
India has accorded to the released I.N.A. men a right royal welcome. They have been acclaimed as national heroes. Everybody seems to have been swept off his feet before the rising tide of popular sentiment. I must, however, frankly confess to you that I do not share this indiscriminate hero-worship. I admire the ability, sacrifice and patriotism of the I.N.A. and Netaji Bose. But I cannot subscribe to the method which they adopted and which is incompatible with the one followed by the Congress for the last twenty-five years for the attainment of independence. Yesterday I spoke to you of a sthitaprajna, i.e. "the man of steady wisdom", i.e., a Satyagrahi. If we accept that ideal we would not regard anybody as our enemy; we must shed all enmity and ill-will. That ideal is not meant for the select few — the saint or the seer only; it is meant for all. I have described myself as a scavenger having become one, not only in nam' but in fact, while I was in Phoenix. It was there that I took up the bucket and the broom, impelled by the inner urge to identify myself with the lowest of the low. As a humble fellow toiler, then, let me bear witness that anyone, even a simple-minded villager who wants to and tries, can attain the state of mental equipoise described in the Gita verses which are recited at the prayer. We all lose our sanity at times, though we may not care to admit it or be even aware of it. A man with a steady mind will never lose patience, even with a child, or indulge in anger or abuse. Religion as taught in the Gita is a thing to be practised in this life. It is not a means for attaining merit in the next irrespective of what you may do here. That would be a negation of religion.
"For me the visit to the I.N.A. men in detention was a matter of pure duty. It gave me supreme satisfaction to be able to meet them, and they on their part received me with a warmth of affection which I shall always treasure.
I have interpreted their welcome as a token of their re­cognition in me of a devoted servant of the country.
"Netaji was like a son to me. I came to know him as a lieutenant full of promise under the late Deshabandnu Das. His last message to the I.N.A. was that, whilst on foreign soil they had fought with arms, on their return to India they would have to serve the country as soldiers of non­violence under the guidance and leadership of the Congress. The message which the I.N.A. has for India is not adoption of the method of appeal to arms for settling disputes (it has been tried and found wanting), but of cultivating non­violence, unity, cohesion and organization.
"Though the I.N.A. failed in their immediate objective they have a lot to their credit of which they might well be proud. Greatest among these was to gather together under one banner men from all religions and races of India and to infuse into them the spirit of solidarity and oneness to the utter exclusion of all communal or parochial sentiment. It is an example which we should all emulate. If they did this under the glamour and romance of fighting, it was not much. It must persist in peace. It is a higher and more difficult work. We have to die performing our duty and without killing. For that we shall need to cultivate the attributes of a sthitaprajna as set forth in the Gita.
"Far more potent than the strength of the sword is the strength of Satyagraha. I said so to the I.N.A. men and they were happy to tell me, as I was to hear, that they had realized this and would hereafter strive to serve India as true soldiers of non-violence under the Congress flag."
New Delhi, 8-4-'46
Harijan, 14-4-1946