I feel sure that nothing less than a definite vision of Home Rule to be realised in the shortest possible time will satisfy the Indian people. I know that there are many in India who consider no sacrifice is too great in order to achieve the end, and they are wakeful enough to realise that they must be equally prepared to sacrifice themselves for the Empire in which they hope and desire to reach their final status. It follows then that we can but accelerate our journey to the goal by silently and simply devoting ourselves heart and soul to the work of delivering the Empire from the threatening danger. It will be a national suicide not to recognise this elementary truth. We must perceive that, if we serve to save the Empire, we have in that very act secured Home Rule.
Whilst, therefore, it is clear to me that we should give to the Empire every available man for its defence, I fear that I cannot say the same thing about the financial assistance. My intimate intercourse with the raiyats convinces me that India has already donated to the Imperial Exchequer beyond her capacity. I know that, in making this statement, I am voicing the opinion of the majority of my countrymen.
It is interesting to note that even so early as this Mr. Gandhi foreshadowed his views on the Khilafat question of which we shall hear so much indeed in the subsequent pages. Mr. Gandhi wrote these words in a letter to the Viceroy:—
Lastly, I would like you to ask His Majesty’s Ministers to give definite assurance about the Muhammadan States. I am sure you know that every Muhammadan is deeply interested in them. As a Hindu I cannot be indifferent to their cause. Their sorrows must be our sorrows. In the most scrupulous regard for the rights of these States and for the Muslim sentiment as to the places of worship and in your just and timely treatment of the Indian claim to Home Rule lie the safety of the Empire. I write this, because I love the English nation and I wish to evoke injevery Indian the loyalty to Englishman.
LORD WILLINGDON AND HOME RULERS
On June 10, 1918, Lord Willingdon, then Governor of Bombay, presiding over the Bombay War Conference, happened to make an unfortunate reference to Home Rulers. Mr. Tilak who was on the war-path resented what he deemed an unwarranted insult to Home Rulers and instantly launched on a downright political oration. His Excellency ruled him out of order and one by one the Home Rulers left the Conference. Mr. Gandhi was asked