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86. Satyagraha - The Art of Living and Dying
"The root of Satyagraha is in prayer. A Satyagrahi relies upon God for protection against the tyranny of brute force. Why should you then be always afraid of the British or anybody playing you false? If someone deceives you, he will be the loser. The fight of Satyagraha is for the strong in spirit, not the doubter or the timid. Satyagraha teaches us the art of living as well as dying. Birth and death are inevitable among mortals. What distinguishes the man from the brute is his conscious striving to realize the spirit within. The last eighteen verses of the second chapter of the Gita which are recited at the prayer give in a nutshell the secret of the art of living. It is given there in the form of a description of a sthitaprajna or the man of steady wisdom, i.e. a Satyagrahi, in reply to Arjun's query to Lord Krishna.
"The art of dying follows as a corollary from the art of living. Death must come to all. A man may die of a lightning stroke or as a result of heart failure or failure of respiration. But that is not the death that a Satyagrahi can wish for or pray for himself. The art of dying for a Satyagrahi consists in facing death cheerfully in the performance of one's duty. That is an art which the people of Bombay apparently have not yet learnt. It is not enough not to want to hurt or take the life of your enemy. You are no Satyagrahi if you remain silent or passive spectators while your enemy is being done to death. You must protect him even at the cost of your life. If thousands in India learnt that art, the face of India would be changed and no one would be able to point his finger of scorn at her non-violence as being a cloak for weakness. We would not then try to shift blame for ugly happenings on the hooligan elements. We would convert and control the hooligan elements too."
Uruli, 24-3-'46
Harijan, 7-4-1946