Speeches and Writings of M. K. Gandhi/M. K. Gandhi: A Sketch

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Speeches and Writings of M. K. Gandhi by Mohandas K. Gandhi
~ M. K. Gandhi: A Sketch
1922, by G. A. Natesan.

M. K. GANDHI

A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE AND WORK.

A Scene in Johannesburg

THE scene is laid in Johannesburg. Summer is coming and the days are lengthening out. At Park Station, at 6 o’clock on a Sunday evening, in September 1908, whilst it was still broad daylight, a small animated group of dark-skinned people might have been observed eagerly looking in the direction from which the mail train from Natal, that stops at Volksrust, was expected. The watchers were Madrassi hawkers, who were apparently awaiting the arrival of one affectionately regarded by them. Punctually to time, the train steamed in and there was observed, descending from a second-class compartment, attended by a prison-warder in uniform, a small, slim, dark, active man with calm eyes and a serene countenance. He was clad in the garb of a South African native convict—small military cap, that did not protect him from the sun, loose, coarse jacket, bearing a numbered ticket and marked with the broad arrow, short trousers, one leg dark, the other light, similarly marked, thick grey woollen socks and leather sandals. But it was plain that he was not a South African native, and upon closer scrutiny, one became aware that he, too, was an Indian, like those who respectfully saluted him, as he turned quietly to the warder for instructions. He was carrying a white canvas bag, which held his clothing and other effects found upon him when he was received by the gaol authorities, and also a small basket containing books. He had been sent by the Government to travel nearly two hundred miles, for many hours, without food or the means of procuring it, as the warder had no funds for that purpose and but for the charity of a European friend—a Government official—he would have had to starve for twenty-four hours. A brief consultation ensued between the prisoner and the warder. The latter appeared to realise the incongruity of the situation, for he bore himself towards the prisoner with every reasonable mark of respect. The latter was evidently a person of some importance, to whom a considerable amount of deference should be shown. The subject of conversation was whether the prisoner preferred to go by cab or to walk to the gaol. If the former, he (the prisoner) would have to pay for it. He, however, declined the easier method of locomotion, choosing to walk three-quarters of a mile in broad day-light, in his convict suit, to the gaol and resolutely shouldering his bag, he briskly stepped out, the Madrassi hawkers shamefacedly following at some distance. Later, he disappeared within the grim portals of the Johannesburg gaol, above which is carved, in Dutch, the motto, "Union makes strength."

Five years have passed. On the dusty, undulating road from Standerton to Greylingstad, for a distance of three miles, is seen a long, trailing "army" of men who, on closer inspection, are recognisable as Indians of the labouring classes, to the number of some two thousand. Upon questioning them, it would be found that they had been gathered from the coal mines of Northern Natal, where they had been working under indenture, or as "free" men, liable to the £3 annual tax upon the freedom of themselves, their wives, their sons of 16 years and their daughters of thirteen. They had marched from Newcastle to Charlestown, whence they had crossed the border into the Transvaal, at Volksrust. They were now marching stolidly and patiently on, until they reached Tolstoy Farm, near Johannesburg, or they were arrested, as prohibited immigrants, by the Government. Thus they had marched for several days on a handful of rice, bread and sugar a day, carrying with them all their few worldly belongings, hopeful that, at the end, the burden of the hated £3 tax would be removed from their shoulders. They appeared to place implicit trust in a small, limping, bent, but dogged man, coarsely dressed, and using a staff, painfully marching at the head of the straggling column, but with a serene and peaceful countenance, and a look of sureness and content. A nearer inspection of this strange figure discloses the same individual that we have already seen entering the forbidding portals of the "Fort," at Johannesburg. But how much older looking and care-worn! He has taken a vow to eat only one poor meal a day, until the iniquitous tax upon the honour and chastity of his brothers and sisters shall have been repealed. Upon him, as the foremost protagonist of the movement, has fallen the main burden and responsibility of organising one of the greatest and noblest protests against tyranny that the world has ever seen during the preceding seven years. Time has left its mark upon him.

Nine more years have passed. Bent down by the weight of years, but resolute of heart, that same figure is yet the cynosure of all eyes. The scene is laid now in Ahmedabad where thousands of Khadder-clad pilgrims march in solemn array to the court-house and await "the man of destiny." It was twelve noon on the 18th of March. That same frail figure in a loin cloth, with the dear old familiar smile of deep content, enters the court-house. The whole court suddenly rises to greet the illustrious prisoner. "This looks like a family gathering," says he with the benignant smile of his. The heart of the gathering throbs with alternate hopes and fears but the august prisoner, pure of heart and meek of spirit, is calm like the deep sea. In a moment the great trial had begun; and as the prisoner made his historic statement, tears were seen trickling down the cheeks of the stoutest of hearts "I wish to endorse all the blame that the Advocate~General has thrown on my shoulders," says he with perfect candour. "To preach disaffection to the existing system of Government has become almost a passion with me. * * * I do not ask for mercy. I do not plead any extenuating act. I am here therefore to invite and submit to the highest penalty that can be indicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen." And then follows the terrible inditement of the Government. The judge himself is deeply moved. He feels the greatness of the occasion and in slow and deliberate accents he says: "It will be impossible to ignore the fact that you are in a different category from any person I have ever tried or am likely to try. It would be impossible to ignore the fact that in the eyes of millions of your countrymen you are a great patriot and a great leader. Even those who differ from you in politics look upon you as a man of high ideals and of noble and even saintly life." But, Oh, the irony of it! "I have to deal with you in one character only * * to judge you as a man subject to the law who has by his own admission broken the law and committed, what to an ordinary man must appear to be, grave offences against the state.” A sentence of six years’ simple imprisonment is passed; but the judge adds: "that if the course of events in India should make it possible for the Government to reduce the period and release you, no one will be better pleased than I." And the prisoner thanks the judge and there is perfect good humour. Was there ever such a trial in the history of British Courts or any other court for the matter of that? And finally he bids farewell to the tearful throng pressing forward to touch the bare feet of him whose presence was a benediction!

The man is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Dewan’s son, Barrister-at-Law, scholar, student, cultured Indian gentleman, "farmer, weaver," and leader of his people. Because he preferred to obey the dictates of conscience, because he placed honour before comfort or even life itself, because he chose not to accept an insult to his Motherland, because he strove so that right should prevail and that his people might have life, a civilised, Christian Government in a Colony over which waves the British flag, deemed that the best way to overcome such dangerous contumacy was to cast his body into gaol, where at one time he was compelled to herd with and starve upon the diet of the most degraded aboriginal native felons, men barely emerging from the condition of brute beasts, or rather, with all their human aspirations and instincts crushed out of them by the treatment accorded to them under the "civilising” process of the Transvaal’s colour legislation. And, again obeying the behests of conscience, believing that he best serves India so, he has again chosen the refuge of prison, convinced like Thoreau that he is freer than his gaolers or those who mourn for him, but do not liberate themselves from bondage.


EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION

Mobandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on the 2nd October, 1869. Though he has a Brahmin’s spirituality and desire to serve and teach, he is not a Brahmin. Though he has a Kshattriya’s courage and devotion, he is not a Kshattriya. He belongs to an old Bania family resident in Kathiawar, politics being a heritage of the family. His forefathers were Dewans of the State of Porbandar in that Province, his father having been Dewan of that State for 25 years, as also of Rajkote and other States in Kathiawar. He was likewise, at one time, a member of the Rajasthanik Sabha, having been nominated thereto by the Government of Bombay. Mr. Gandhi’s father was known to and loved by all with whom he came in contact and he did not hesitate, if need came, to oppose the will of the Rana of Porbandar and of the Political Agent, when he thought that they were adopting a wrong or unworthy line of conduct. This particular trait has evidently descended to his youngest son. Mr. Gandhi’s mother was an orthodox Hindu lady, rigid in her observance of religious obligations, strict in the performance of her duties as wife and mother, and stern in determination that her children should grow up good and honest men and women. Between her youngest son and herself existed a strong affection and her religious example and influence left a lasting impression upon his character. Mohandas Gandhi received his education partly in Kathiawar and partly in London. It was only with the greatest difficulty that his mother could be prevailed upon to consent to his crossing the waters, and before doing so, she exacted from him a threefold vow, administered by a Jain priest that he would abstain from flesh, alcohol and women. And this vow was faithfully and whole-heartedly kept amidst all the temptations of student life in London. Young Gandhi became an under-graduate of the London University and afterwards joined the Inner Temple, whence he emerged in due course a barrister at law. He returned to India immediately after his call, and was at once admitted as an Advocate of the Bombay High Court, in which capacity he began practice with some success.


VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA

In 1893, Mr. Gandhi was induced to go to South Africa, proceeding to Natal and then to the Transvaal, in connection with an Indian legal case of some difficulty. Almost immediately upon landing at Durban, disillusionment awaited him. Brought up in British traditions of the equality of all British subjects, an honoured guest in the capital of the Empire, he found that in the British Colony of Natal, he was regarded as a pariah, scarcely higher than a savage aboriginal native of the soil. He appealed for admission as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Natal, but his application was opposed by the Law Society on the ground that the law did not contemplate that a coloured person should be admitted to practise. Fortunately, the Supreme Court viewed the matter in a different light and granted the application. But Mr. Gandhi received sudden warning of what awaited him in the years to come."

In 1894, on the urgent invitation of the Natal Indian community, he decided to remain in the Colony, in order that he might be of service in the political troubles that he foresaw in the near future. In that year, together with a number of prominent members of the community he founded the Natal Indian Congress, being for some years its honorary secretary, in which capacity he drafted a number of petitions and memorials admirable in construction, lucid and simple in phraseology, clear and concise in the manner of setting forth the subject matter. He took a leading part in the successful attempt to defeat the Asiatics’ Exclusion Act passed by the Natal Parliament and in the unsuccessful one to prevent the disfranchisement of the Indian community, though the effort made obliged the Imperial authorities to insist that this disfranchisement should be effected along non-racial lines. At the end of 1895, he returned to India, being authorised by the Natal and Transvaal Indians to represent their grievances to the Indian public. This he did by means of addresses and a pamphlet, the mutilated contents of which were summarised by Router and cabled to Natal, where they evoked a furious protest on the part of the European colonists. The telegram ran thus: "A pamphlet published in India declares that the Indians in Natal are robbed, aud assaulted, and treated like beasts, and are unable to obtain redress. The Times of India advocates an enquiry into these allegations."

This message was certainly not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, though it had elements of truth in it About the same time, Mr. Gandhi returned to Durban with his family, and with him, though independently of him, travelled several compatriots. The rumour arose that he was bringing with him a number of skilled Indian workers with the express object of ousting the European artisans from the field of employment, and the two circumstances combined to stimulate in the colonists, high and low alike, all the worst passions, and feeling ran so high that the Attorney-General, Mr. Escombe, felt himself obliged to side with the popular party, and accordingly gave instructions that the vessels bringing Mr. Gandhi and his companions should be detained in quarantine. The quarantine was only raised when the ship-owners announced their intention of taking legal action against the Government. The vessels now came alongside the wharf, but the crowd that assembled became so hostile that a police inspector, who came on board, warned Mr. Gandhi of his own personel danger if he landed then, and urged him to delay the landing until night. A little later, however, a well-known member of the Natal Bar came on board specially to greet Mr. Gandhi and offer his services, and Mr. Gandhi at once determined to land without waiting for darkness to come, trusting, as he himself expressed it, to the British sense of justice and fair-play. He was soon recognised, however, set upon, and half-killed, when the wife of the superintendent of police, who recognised him, ran to his rescue, and, raising her umbrella over him, defied the crowd and accompanied him to the store of an Indian friend, Mr. Gandhi was, however, in order to save his friend’s property, obliged to escape disguised as a police constable.

The affair was at an end, popular passions calmed down, and the newspapers apologised to him, though the incident demonstrated the temper of the mob towards the resident Indian community. Years afterwards, meeting Mr. Gandhi one day, Mr. Escombe expressed profound regret at his connection with this unsavoury business, declaring that, at the time, he was unacquainted with Mr. Gandhi’s personal merits and those of the community to which he belonged. Half-an-hour later he was found dead in the streets, stricken down by eart-disease.


BOER WAR AND THE INDIAN AMBULANCE CORPS

In 1899, at the outbreak af the Anglo-Boer War, Mr. Gandhi, after considerable opposition, induced the Government to accept the offer of an Indian Ambulance Corps. The Corps was one thousand strong and saw active service, being on one occasion, at least, under heavy tire, and on another, removing the dead body of Lord Robert’s only son from the field. The Corps was favourably reported on, and Mr, Gandhi was mentioned in despatches and afterwards awarded the war medal. His object in offering the services of a body of Indian to do ever. the most menial work was to show that the Indian community desired to take their full share of public responsibilities, and that just as they knew how to demand rights, so thev also knew to assume obligations. And that has been the keynote of Mr. Gandhi’s public work from the beginning.

Writing in the Illustrated Star of Johannesburg in July 1911, a European, who had taken part in that campaign, says:—

My first meeting with Mr. M. K. Gandhi was under strange circumstances. It was on the road from Spion Kop, after the fateful retirement of the British troops in January, 1900. The previous afternoon I saw the Indian mule-train moved up the slopes of the Kop carrying water to the distressed soldiers who had lain powerless on the plateau. The mules carried the water in immense bags, one on each side, led by Indians at their heads. The galling rifle-fire, which heralded their arrival on the top, did not deter the strangely-looking cavalcade, which moved slowly forward, and as an Indian fell, another quietly stepped forward to fill the vacant place. Afterwards the grim duty of the bearer corps, which Mr. Gandhi organised in Natal, began. It was on such occasions the Indians provedtheir fortitude, and the one with the greatest fortitude of all was the subject of this sketch. After a night’s work which had shattered men with much bigger frames. I came across Gandhi in the early morning sitting by the roadside—eating a regulation Army biscuit. Every man in Buller’s force was dull and depressed, and damnation was heartly invoked on everything. But Gandhi was stoical in his bearing, cheerful, and confident in his conversation, and had a kindly eye. He did one good. It was an informal introduction, and it led to a friendship. I saw the man and his small undisciplined corps on many a field of battle during the Natal campaign. When succour was to be rendered they were there. Their unassuming dauntlessness cost them many lives, and eventually an order was published forbidding them to go into the firing·line. Gandhi simply did his duty then, and his comment the other evening in the moment of his triumph, at the dinner to the Europeans who had supported the Indian movement, when some hundreds of his countrymen and a large number of Europeans paid him a noble tribute, was thathe had simply done his duty.


RETURN TO INDIA

In 1901, owing to a breakdown in health, Mr. Gandhi came to India, taking his family with him. Before he went, however, the Natal Indian community presented him, Mrs. Gandhi, and his children with valuable gold plate and jewellery. He refused, however, to accept a single item of this muniiicent gift, putting it on one side to be used for public purposes, should the need arise. The incident but endeared him the more to the people, who realised once again how seliiess was the work that he had so modestly and unassumingly undertaken. Before the Ambulance Corps left for the front, its members had been publicly entertained by the late Sir John Robinson, then Prime Minister of Natal, and on the occasion of the presentation to Mr. Gandhi by the Indian community, he addressed a letter to the organisers of the ceremony, in which, after excusing his unavoidable absence, he said:—

It would have given me great pleasure to have been present on the occasion of so well-earned a mark of respect to our able and distinguished fellow-citizen, Mr. Gandhi... Not the less heartily do I wish all success to this public recognition of the good work done and the many services rendered to the community by Mr. Gandhi.

On his arrival in Bombay Mr. Gandhi once more resumed practice, as he then had no intention of returning to South Africa, believing that with the end of the war, a new era had arrived.


BACK TO SOUTH AFRICA

Scarcely, however, had he returned from the Calcutta Congress, where, under Mr. Wacha, he did some very useful organising work unobtrusively, when he received an urgent telegram from Natal, peremptorily calling him back to South Africa to draft the memorials to Mr, Chamberlain, whose visit was imminent, to take charge of the work required to secure the removal of existing grievances and to place Indian affairs finally on a higher level. Without a moment's hesitation he obeyed the call of duty, and a new chapter opened in his life. In Natal, he had been able to overcome official prejudice and was high in the esteem of all those heads of departments and ministers with whom his public duties brought him into contact. But when, after heading a deputation to Mr. Chamberlain in Natal, he was called to the Transvaal for a similar purpose, he found all officialdom hostile, and he was refused the right to attend upon Mr. Chamberlain as a member of a deputation of Transvaal Indians; and it was only after the utmost endeavours that he prevailed upon the Indian community to send a deputation that did not include him. Finding that the situation was becoming rapidly worse and being without a trained guide, the Transvaal Indians pressed him to remain with them, and this he at last consented to do, being admitted to practise as an Attorney of the Supreme Court of the Transvaal. In 1903 together with other communal leaders, he founded the Transvaal British Indian Association, of which until his final departure from South Africa, he was the Honorary Secretary and principal legal adviser.


FOUNDING OF "THE INDIAN OPINION"

About the middle of 1903, it had occurred to him that, if the South African Indians were to be brought into closer association with each other and with their European fellow-colonists, and to be politically and socially educated, it was absolutely necessary to have a newspaper, and, after consultation, he provided the greater part of the capital for its inauguration, with the late Mr. M. H. Nazar as editor, and thus the Indian Opinion was born. It was first published in English, Gujarati, Hindi and Tamil, For various reasons it afterwards became necessary to dispense with the Tamil and Hindi columns. But although Mr. Gandhi, had, in theory, delegated much of the work of conducting the paper to others, he was unremitting in his own efforts to make it a success. His purse was ever open to make good the deficits that continually occurred owing to the circumstances of its production, and to its English and Gujarati columns he contributed month after month and year after year out of the fund of his own political and spiritual wisdom and his unique knowledge of South African Indian affairs.

Towards the end of 1904, however, finding that the paper was absorbing most of the money that could be spared without making any appreciable financial headway, he went to Durban to investigate the situation. During the journey he became absorbed in the perusal of Ruskin’s "Unto this Last," and he received certain impressions that were confirmed whilst on a visit to some relatives, who had started a trading enterprise in an up-country village. His conclusions were that the town conditions in which the paper was produced were such as almost to compel unlimited waste; to act as a check upon the originality and individuality of the workers, and to prevent the realisation of his dearest desire to so infuse the columns of the paper with a spirit of tolerance and persuasiveness as to bring together all that was best in the European and Indian communities, whose fate it was to dwell side by side, either mutally hostile to or suspicious of each other, or amicably co-operating in the securing of the welfare of the State and the building-up, of a wise-administration of its assets.


THE PHŒNIX SETTLEMENT

Accordingly, he determined that the very first thing to be done was to put an end to the divorce of the workers from the land, and from this determination arose what has since become known as the Phoenix Settlement. Phoenix is situated about 12 miles from Durban, in the midst of a sugar-growing country, and Mr. Gandhi invested his savings, in the purchase of an estate of about 100 acres of land about two miles distant from the station, on which were erected the press buildings and machinery. A number of selected Indians and Europeans were invited to become settlers, and the original conditions were these—that they should have entire management of all the assets of the press, including the land itself; that each should practically vow himself to a life of poverty, accepting no more £3 (Rs. 45) a month, expenses being high in South Africa, and an equal share in the profits, if any; that a house should be built for him, for which he should pay when able, and in whatever instalments might seem suitable to him, without interest; that he should have two acres of land as his own for cultivation, payment being on similar conditions, and that he should devote himself to working for the public good, Indian Opinion being meanwhile the mainspring of the work. Whilst the fundamental principles remained, it became necessary later, in the light of further experience, to modify these conditions. Subsequently the Phoenix settlers extended the scope of their labours, to the task of educating some at least of the children of the lakh-and-a-half of Indians in South Africa. It is true that, in comparison with the magnitude of the task, only a small beginning was made, but this was principally due to the lack of qualified workers and also to the state of the exchequer.


SERVICE IN PLAGUE AREAS

In 1904, an outbreak of plague occurred in the Indian Location, Johannesburg, largely owing to gross negligence on the part of the Municipal authorities, in spite of repeated warnings of the insanitary conditions prevailing, A week before the official announcement of the outbreak, Mr. Gandhi sent a final warning that plague had already broken out, but his statement was officialy denied. When, however, a public admission of the existence of plague could no longer be withheld, but before the Municipal authorities had taken any steps to cope with the disease, he at once organised a private hospital and nursing home, and, together with a few devoted friends, personally tended the plague patients; and this work was formally appreciated by the Municipal authorities. In the same year, owing to arbitration proceedings between expropriated Indian stand-holders in the Location and the Johannesburg Municipality, in which he was busily engaged, he earned large professional fees which he afterwards devoted in their entirety to public purposes.


LEADING A STRETCHER BEARER CORPS

In 1906, a native rebellion broke out in Natal due to many causes, but realising that bloodshed was imminent and that hospital work would necessarily ensue therefrom, Mr. Gandhi offered, on behalf of the Natal Indians, a Stretcher Bearer Corps, which, after some delay, was accepted. Meanwhile, he had sent his family to Phoenix, where he thought it was most proper that they should live, rather than in the dirt, noise, and restlessness of the town. He himself volunteered to lead the Corps, which was on active service for a month, being mentioned in despatches and publicly congratulated and thanked by the Governor for the valuable services rendered. Each member of the Corps has had awarded to him the medal especially struck for the occasion, and as an indication of the manner in which the Transvaal Government appreciated the work so selflessly performed by Mr. Gandhi and his Corps, it may be noted that, together with at least three other members of the Corps, as well as some who belonged to or helped to fit out the old Ambulance Corps, he was flung into gaol, to associate with criminals of the lowest type. The work of the Corps was, besides that of carrying stretchers and marching on foot behind mounted infantry, through dense bush, sometimes thirty miles a day, in the midst of a savage enemy’s country unarmed and unprotected to perform the task of hospital assistants and to nurse the wounded natives, who had been callously shot down by the colonial troopers, or had been cruelly lashed by military command. Mr. Gandhi does not like to speak his mind about what he saw or learnt on this occasion. But many times he must have had searchings of conscience as to the propriety of his allying himself, even in that merciful capacity, with those capable of such acts of revolting and inexcusable brutality. However, it is well to know that nearly all his solicitude was exercised on behalf of aboriginal native patients, and one saw the Dewan’s son ministering to the needs and allaying the sufferings of some of the most undeveloped types of humanity, whose odour, habits and surroundings must have been extremely repugnant to a man of refined tastes—though Mr. Gandhi himself will not admit this.


ANTI-ASIATIC LAW AND PASSIVE RESISTANCE

Scarcely had he returned to Johannesburg to resume practice (he had left his office to look after itself during his absence), than a thunderbolt was launched by the Transvaal Government by the promulgation of the Draft Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance, whose terms are now familiar throughout the length and breadth of India. After years of plotting and scheming, the anti-Asiatics of the Transvaal, having first secured the willing services of an administrative department anxious to find an excuse for the continuance of its own existence, compelled the capitulation of the executive itself with the afore-mentioned result. Mr. Gandhi at once realised what was afoot, and understood, immediately that, unless the Indian community adopted a decided attitude of protest, which would be backed up, if necessary, by resolute action, the whole Indian population of South Africa was doomed, and he accordingly took counsel with the leading members of the community, who agreed that the measure must be fought to the bitter end. Mr. Gandhi is chiefly responsible for the initiation of the policy of passive resistance that was so successfully carried out by the Indians of South Africa during the next eight years. Since that day, Mr. Gandhi’s history has been mainly that of the Passive Resistance struggle. All know how he took the oath not to submit to the Law on the 11th September, 1906; how he went to England with a compatriot in the same year, and how their vigorous pleading induced Lord Elgin to suspend the operation of the objectionable piece of legislation: how, when the law finally received the Royal assent, he threw himself into the forefront of the fight, and, by speech, pen, and example, inspired the whole community to maintain an adamantine front to the attack that was being made upon the very foundations of its religion, its national honour, its racial self-respect, its manhood. No one was, therefore, surprised when, at the end ot 1907, Mr. Gandhi was arrested, together with a number of other leaders, and consigned to gaol! or how, when he heard that some of his friends in Pretoria had been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour, the maximum penalty, he pleaded with the Magistrate to impose the penalty upon him too, as he had been the acknowledged leader and inspirer of the opposition against this Law. To him it was a terrible shock that his followers were being more harshly treated than he himself, and it was with bowed head and deep humiliation that he left the court, sentenced to two months’ simple imprisonment only. Happily, the Government realised the seriousness of the situation, and after three weeks' imprisonment of the leading passive resistors, General Smuts opened negotiations with them, and a compromise was effected between him and the Indian community, partly written, partly verbal, whereby voluntary registration, which had been repeatedly offered, was accepted conditionally upon the Law being subsequently repealed. This promise of repeal was made personally to Mr. Gandhi by General Smuts in the presence of official witnesses. When, shortly afterwards, Mr. Gandhi was nearly killed by a few of his more fanatical countrymen (who thought he had, betrayed them to the Government) as he was on his way to the Registration Office of carry out his pledge to the Government, he issued a letter to the Indian community in which he definitely declared that promise of repeal had been made. General Smuts did not attempt to deny the fact and, indeed, did not do so until several months later. No one was, however, astonished to find Mr. Gandhi charging General Smuts with breach of faith, and absolutely refusing to compromise himself or the community that he represented by accepting further legislation that would, in the end, have still further degraded the Indians of South Africa. Having convinced his colleagues that such acceptance on their part was impossible, the struggle recommenced.

Twice more, during this period of passive resistance, was he sent to gaol, and then the Government sought to seduce his followers from their allegiance, by imprisoning them in hundreds and leaving him free. In 1909, whilst his friend and fellow-worker, Mr. Polals, was in India, on behalf of the South African Indian community, he and a colleague had gone to England to endeavour to arouse the public conscience there to the enormities that were being perpetrated in South Africa in the name of the British people. Whilst he failed in his main purpose to secure from General Smuts, through the mediation of the Imperial Government, the removal of the racial bar in the Immigration Law, he nevertheless sowed the seeds of the subsequent settlement, for his suggestions were embodied, and their adoption was recommended by the Imperial Government in their despatch to Lord Gladstone, shortly after the creation of the Union of South Africa in the following year.


MR. GOKHALE’S HISTORIC VISIT

In 1911, the second "provisional settlement" was effected after the Union Government had, notwithstanding, prolonged and sympathetic negotiations with Mr. Gandhi found themselves unable to discover a formula acceptable alike to the Indian community, the Government themselves and Parliament. Nor did the year 1912 show any better promise in the direction of a final settlement. Meanwhile, there occurred the historic visit to South Africa of India’s great statesman-patriot, the Hon, Mr. Gokhale, who, even then, was suffering from ill-health. Mr. Gandhi, who, for years had regarded him as his own political leader, had invited him to South Africa, not primarily for political reasons, but so that he might nurse his guru back to health. Circumstances combined, however, to impose upon Mr. Gokhale a greater physical strain than had been anticipated, in spite of Mr. Gandhi’s own devoted personal service. It was pathetic and beautiful to observe the way these two old friends refused to see anything but the best in each other, in spite of their fundamental diiferences of temperament and often of outlook. To Gandhi, Gokhale was the gallant and selfless paladin, whom the whole of India looked up to as her noblest son. To Gokhale, Gandhi was the very embodiment of saintly self-abnegation, a man whose personal sufferings, splendid and chivalrous leadership and moral fervour, marked him out as one of the most outstanding figures of the day, the coming leader of his people, who had made the name of his adored Motherland, revered and honoured throughout the Empire and beyond, and who had proved beyond dispute the capacity of even his most insignificant countrymen to live and die for her.


FURTHER STAGES OF THE STRUGGLE

During his visit, Mr. Gokhale extracted a promise (afterwards denied) from the principal Union Ministers, that they would introduce legislation repealing the £3 tax. When therefore in 1913, Mr. Gandhi discovered that the Government were not going to fulfil their pledges of 1911, and that they refused to repeal the £3 tax, he denounced the "provisional settlement," and, in September, announced the revival of Passive Resistance and its bodily extension to Natal, where he promptly organised and carried through the now historic strike. The events of this last phase of the struggle are still fresh in the public memory and therefore need no more than the barest recapitulation—the campaign of the Indian women whose marriages had been dishonoured by a fresh decision of the Supreme Court at the instigation of the Government, the awakening of the free and indentured labourers all over Natal, the tremendous strikes, the wonderful and historic strikers’ march of protest into the Transvaal, the horrible scenes enacted later in the effort to crush the strikers and compel them to resume work, the arrest and imprisonment of the principal leaders and of hundreds—many thousands—of the rank and file, the enormous Indian mass meetings, held in Durban, Johannesburg, and other parts of the Union, the fierce and passionate indignation aroused in India, the large sums of money poured into South Africa from all parts of the Motherland, Lord Hardingds famous speech at Madras, in which he placed himself at the head of Indian public opinion and his demand for a Commission of Inquiry, the energetic efforts of Lord Ampthill’s Committee, the hurried intervention of the Imperial authorities, the appointment over the heads of the Indian community of a Commission whose personnel could not satisfy the Indians, the discharge from prison of the leaders whose advice to ignore the Commission was almost universally accepted, the arrival of Messrs. Andrews and Pearson and their wonderful work of reconciliation, the deaths of Harbat Singh and Valliamma, the strained position relieved only by the interruption of the second European strike, when Mr. Gandhi, as on an earlier occasion, undertook not to hamper the Government whilst they had their hands full with the fresh difficulty and when it had been dealt with, the entirely new spirit of friendliness, trust, and co-operation that was found to have been created by the moderation of the great Indian leader and the loving influence spread around him by Mr. Andrews as he proceeded with his great Imperial mission.

All these things are of recent history, as are the favourable recommendations of the Commission on practically every point referred to it and out of which Passive Resistance had arisen, the adoption of the Commission’s Report in its entirety by the Government, the introduction and passing into law of the Indians’ Relief Act, after lengthy and remarkable debates in both Houses of the Legislature, the correspondence between Mr. Gandhi and General Smuts, in which the latter undertook, on behalf of the Government, to carry through the administrative reforms that were not covered by the new Act, and the final letter of the Indian protagonist of Passive Resistance—formally announcing the conclusion of the struggle and setting forth the points upon which Indians would sooner or later have to be satisiied before they could acquire complete equalisy of civil status—and the scenes of his departure for his beloved Motherland, enacted throughout the country, wherein the deaths and sufferings of the Indian martyrs, Nagappan, Narayanasamy, Harbat Singh and Valliamma, were and sanctified to the world.


MR. AND MRS. GANDHI IN LONDON

Faithful to his instinct for service, Mr. Gandhi hurried to England, where he heard that Gokhale was critically ill, and arrived, on the outbreak of the Great War, to find that his friend was slowly recovering from the almost fatal attack that had overwhelmed him. Here, too, his sense of responsibility revealed itself. He recognised that it was India’s duty, in the hour of the Empire’s trial, to do all in her power to help, and he at once set about the formation of the Indian Volunteer Ambulance Corps in London, enrolling himself and his devoted wife, who had herself been barely snatched from the jaws of death but a few weeks earlier, amongst the members. But the years of strain, his neglect of his own physical well-being, and his addiction to long fasts as a means to spiritual purification, had undermined a never very robust constitution, and his condition became so serious that private and official friends insisted upon his proceeding immediately, with Mrs. Gandhi, to India.


RETURN T0 THE MOTHERLAND

Since his arrival in his Motherland, at the beginning of 1915, his movements have been much in the popular eye. His progress through India, from the day of the public landing and welcome at the Apollo Bunder, was in the nature of a veritable triumph, marred only by the sudden death of his beloved teacher, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who had sacrificed health and life itself upon the altar of his country’s welfare.

The Government of India marked their appreciation of Mr. Gandhi’s unique services by recommending him for the Kaiser-i·Hind gold medal, which was conferred upon him by the King Emperor amongst the 1915 New Year Honours. To Gokhale he had given a promise to make no public utterance on Indian affairs until at least a year had passed, and he had visited the principal centres of public life in India. This promise, which was faithfully kept, was exacted, because Gokhale, hoping to see in him his own successor, had been somewhat disturbed by the very advanced views expressed by Mr. Gandhi in the proscribed pamphlet, Hind Swaraj, whose pages, we now know, were written to show the basic similarity of civilisation the world over, the superiority of India for the particular Indian phase of that civilisation, and the stupidity of the barriers of luxury erected by the modern industrial civilisation of the West, that constantly separate man from man and make him a senseless machine drudge, and that threaten to invade that holy Motherland that stands in his eyes for the victory of spirit over matter. He had condemned some things of which he had disapproved, in Gokhale’s opinion, somewhat hastily, and the older man had thought that, after an absence from India of so many years, during which he had perhaps idealised certain phases of Indian life, a year’s travel and observation would be a useful corrective. Which of the two, if either, has correctly diagnosed the situation, time alone can show.


SATYAGRAHASHRAM

Mr. Gandhi, however, made his headquarters at Ahmedabad, the capital of his own Province of Gujarat and here he founded his Satyagrahashram,[1] where he is endeavouring to train up from childhood public servants upon a basis of austerity of life and personal subordination to the common good, the members supporting themselves by work at the hand-loom or other manual labour.


TRAVELS IN INDIA

True to his promise to Gokhale, Mr. Gandhi, on his return to India, started on an extensive tour through the country. Though his idea was merely to visit every place of importance and acquaint himself thoroughly with the conditions of the country and thus acquire first-hand knowledge of men and things, he had of course to speak wherever he went. He was given a warm and enthusiastic welcome at every station and the magnificent demonstrations in his honour bore eloquent testimony to the great regard in which his countrymen have always held him. Mr. Gandhi accepted these marks of affection and respect with his accustomed grace, but spoke out his mind on every subject, as the occasion demanded. One characteristic feature of these speeches is that Mr. Gandhi seldom repeats second-hand opinions and his views on every subject are, therefore, refreshingly original. Undeterred by fear or any exaggerated sense of conventional respectability he retains his independence, indifferent to the applause or contumely of his listeners. Speaking at the Students’ Hall, College Square, Calcutta, in March 1915, when the Hon. Mr. Lyon presided, he said with reference to


ANARCHICAL CRIMES

Whatever his personal views were,he must say that misguided zeal that resorts to dacoities and assassinations cannot b eproductive of any good. These dacoities and assassinations are absolutely a foreign growth in India. They cannot take root here and cannot be a permanent institution here. History proves that assassinations have done no good. The religion of this country, the Hindu religion, is abstention from "himsa," that is taking animal life. That is, he believes the guiding principle of all religions. The Hindu religion says that even the evil-doer should not be hated. It says that nobody has any right to kill even the evil-doer. These assassinations are a western institution and the speaker warned his bearers against these western methods and western evils.


LOYALTY T0 THE BRITISH RAJ

At the Madras Law Dinner in April of the same year he observed in proposing (at the request of the President the Hon. Mr. Corbett, the Advocate-General) the toast of the British Empire:—

As a passive resistor I discovered that a passive resister has to make good his claim to passive resistance, no matter under what circumstances he finds himself, and I discovered that the British Empire had certain ideals with which I have fallen in love, and one of those ideals is that every subject of the British Empire has the freest scope possible for his energies and honour and whatever he thinks is due to his conscience. I think that this is true of the British Empire, as it is not true of any other Government. (Applause) I feel, as you here perhaps know, that I am no lover of any Government and I have more than once said that that Government is best which governs least. And I have found that it is possible for me to be governed least under the British Empire. Hence my loyalty to the British Empire. (Loud applause).


ADDRESS T0 THE STUDENTS

Addressing the students of Madras at the Y. M. C. A. when the Hon. Mr. (now the Rt. Hon.) V. S. Srinivasa Sastri presided, he pointed out:—

I am and I have been a determined opponent of modern civilisation. I want you to turn your eyes to-day upon what is going on in Europe and if you have come to the conclusion that Europe is to-day groaning under the heels of the modern civilisation then you and your elders will have to think twice before you can emulate that civilisation in our Motherland. But I have been told, "How can we help it, seeing that our rulers bring that culture to our Motherland." Do not make any mistake about it at all. I do not for one moment believe that it is for any rulers to bring that culture to you, unless you are prepared to accept it, and if it be that the rulers bring that culture before us, I think that we have forces within ourselves to enable us to reject that culture without having to reject the rulers themselves.

He concluded:—

I ally myself to the British Government, because I believe that it is possible for me to claim equal partnership with every subject of the British Empire. I to-day claim that equal partnership. I do not belong to a subject race. I do not call myself a subject race. (Applause). But there is this thing: it is not for the British Governors to give you, it is for you to take the thing. I want and I can take the thing. That I want only by discharging my obligations. Max Muller has told us,—we need not go to Max Muller to interpret our own religion—but he says, our religion consists in four letters "D-u-t-y " and not in the five letters "R-i-g·h-t." And if you believe that all that we want can flow from a better discharge of our duty, then think always of your duty and fighting along those lines you will have no fear of any man, you will fear only God.


UNVEILING MR. GOKHALE’S PORTRAIT

In May Mr. Gandhi went to visit some cities in the south where he discoursed on social reform and the vexed question of untouchability which is somewhat rampant on the banks of the Kaveri and its environs. He spoke with characteristic candour somewhat to the chagrin of the orthodox.

Later he was invited to Bangalore to unveil the portrait of Mr. Gokhale, when be made a brief and highly suggestive speech:—

I saw in the recitation,—the beautiful recitation that was given to me,—that God is with them whose garment was dusty and tattered. My thoughts immediately went to the end of my garment; I examined and found that it is not dusty and it is not tattered; it is fairly spotless and clean. God is not in me. There are other conditions attached; but in these conditions too I may fail; and you, my dear countrymen, may also fail; and if we do tend this well, we should not dishonour the memory of one whose portrait you have asked me to unveil this morning. I have declared myself his disciple in the political field and I have him as my Raja Guru: and this I claim on behalf of the Indian people. It was in 1896 that I made this declaration, and I do not regret having made the choice.

Later in the year he presided over the anniversary function at the Gurukul and spoke in Hindi on the meaning of true Swadeshism, the doctrine of Ahimsa and other kindred topics.


HINDU UNIVERSITY SPEECH

On Feb. 4, 1916, he attended the Hindu University celebrations and delivered an address which unfortunately was intercepted. But the regrettable incident of which far too much was made, revealed the hold that he possesses upon the esteem and affection of his countrymen, for his version of what transpired was generally accepted. Since then Mr. Gandhi has been taking a prominent part in the building-up of the Indian nation along his own peculiar lines. For, he teaches both by precept and by example But he goes his own way, untrammelled by precedent, carefully analysing the criticism to which he is naturally subjected, holding himself answerable, however, to his own conscience alone. For he is of the prophets, and not merely of the secondary interpreters of life.

The same month he came to Madras and on the 10th spoke on Social Service to a large audience presided over by Mrs. Whitehead. On the 14th he spoke on Swadeshi before the Missionary Conferenceand a couple of days later gave a lucid account of his Satyagrahashram to a large gathering of students in the precincts of the Young Men’s Christian Association, Madras, the Hon. Rev. G. Pittendrigh of the Christian College presiding. He then went back to Ahmedabad to look after his Ashram. Late in the year on December 22, he made a remarkable speech on "Economic versus Moral Progress" at the Muir Central College, Allahabad, Mr. Stanley Jevons presiding. The address contains some of his most mature and thoughtful reflections on life, and both in style and sentiment is one of the most characteristic of Mr. Gandhi’s utterances.


MR. GANDHI IN CHAMPARAN

Then came the Champaran incident which has since become historic, In the Lucknow Congress of December 1916, Mr. Gandhi, though pressed by some of the citizens of Behar, declined to talk about the grievances of the labourers in the Behar plantations without first-hand knowledge of the real state of affairs. This he resolved to acquire soon after the Congress session: and in response to an insistent public demand, to irquire into the conditions under which Indians work in the indigo plantations, Mr Gandhi was in Muzaffarpur on the 15th April 1917, whence he took the mid-day train for Motihari. Next day he was served with a notice from the Champaran District Magistrate to quit the district "by the next available train" as his presence "will endanger the public peace and may lead to serious disturbance which may be accompanied by loss of life." But the local authorities in issuing this mandate counted without the host. For Mr. Gandhi, who had initiated the Passive Resistance Movement in South Africa, replied in a way that did not surprise those who had known him:—

Out of a sense of public responsibility, I feel it to be my duty to say that I am unable to leave this district, but if it so pleases the authorities, I shall submit to the order by suffering the penalty of disobedience.

I most emphatically repudiate the Commissioner’s suggestion that "my object is likely to be agitation." My desire is purely and simply for "a genuine search for knowledge" and this I shall continue to satisfy so long as I am left free.

Mr. Gandhi appeared before the District Magistrate on the 18th, when he presented a statement. Finding that the case was likely to be unnecessarily prolonged he pleaded guilty and the judgment was deferred pending instructions from higher authorities. The rest of the story is pretty familiar. The higher authorities subsequently issued instructions not to proceed with the prosecution, while a commission of enquiry was at once instituted to enquire into the conditions of the Behar labourers with Mr. Gandhi as a member of that body. As usual, Mr. Gandhi worked in perfect harmony with the other members and though with the findings of his own private enquiry he could have raised a. storm of indignant agitation against the scandals of the plantations, he refrained from using his influence and knowledge for a merely vindictive and vainglorious cry. He worked quietly, with no thought of himself, but absorbed in the need for remedial measures; and when in December 1917 the Champaran Agrarian Bill was moved in the Behar Legislative Council, the Hon. Mr. Maude made a frank statement of the scandals which necessitated an enquiry by a Commission and acknowledged Mr. Gandhi’s services in these handsome terms:—

It is constantly asserted, and I have myself often heard it said, that there is in reality nothing wrong or rotten in the state of affairs; that all concerned are perfectly happy so long as they are left alone, and that it is only when outside influences and agitators come in that any trouble is experienced. I submit that this contention is altogether untenable in the light of the history of the last fifty years. What is it we find on each individual occasion when fresh attention has been, at remarkably short intervals, drawn once more to the conditions of the production of the indigo plant? We do not End on each occasion that some fresh little matter ha gone wrong which can be easily adjusted, but we End on every occasion alike that It is the system itself, which is condemned as being inherently wrong and impossible, and we see also repeated time after time the utter futility of bringing the matter to any lasting or satisfactory settlement by the only solutions that have so far been attempted, namely, an enhancement of the price paid for indigo and a reduction of the tenant’s burden by reducing the limit of the proportion of hisland which he would be required to earmark for indigo cultivation. Repeatedly those expedients have been tried—repeatedly they have failed to eifect a lasting solution, partly because they could not be universally enforced, but chiefly because no thinking can set right a system which is in itself inherently rotten and open to abuse.

The planters of course could not endure this. They took occasion to indulge in the most rapid and unbecoming attacks on Mr. Gandhi. One Mr. Irwin earned an unenviable notoriety by writing all sorts of scurrilous attacks touching personalities which have nothing to do with the subject of enquiry. Columns of such stuff appeared in the pages of the Pioneer: but Mr. Gandhi with a quiet humour replied in words which should have made the soul of Irwin penitent. The controversy on Mr. Gandhi’s dress and Mrs. Gandhi’s stall-keeping reveals the character of the two men, Mr. Irwin, fussy, vindictive, violent, ill-tempered, writhing like a wounded snake in anger and agony, and Mr. Gandhi secure in his righteousness, modest, quiet, strong and friendly with no malice and untainted by evil passions.


THE CONGRESS-LEAGUE SCHEME

By this time Mr. Gandhi had made the Guzerat Sabha a well-equipped organisation for effective social service. When in August 1917 it was announced that Mr. Montagu would be in India in connection with the scheme of Post-War Reforms, the Guzerat Sabha under the direction of Mr. Gandhi devised in November the admirable scheme of a monster petition in connection with the Congress League Scheme. The idea and the movement alike were opportune. Mr. Gandhi himself undertook the work in his province of Guzerat and carried it out with characteristic thoroughness. The suggestion was taken up by the Congress and the Home Rule League and the piles of books containing the monster signatures were duly presented to Mr. Montagu at Delhi.

Meanwhile Mr. Gandhi was not idle. On the 17th September he presided over the Bombay Co-operative Conference. On Nov. 3, he delivered a remarkable address as president of the Guzerat Political Conference and later, of the Guzerat Educational Conference. Then came the Congress week in Calcutta in December and he presided over the First Session of the Social Service League when he made a striking speech.

Mr. Gandhi has always travelled in the third class in all his journeyings and the grievances of the third-class passengers are driven home in this address to the Social Service League. But even before this he had already sent a letter to the press on the subject on the 25th September, 1917, in which he gave a vivid and true account of the woes of the third-class passengers.[2]


FAMINE IN THE KAIRA DISTRICT

After his return from the Calcutta Congress of Dec. 1917, Mr. Gandhi was occupied in connection with the famine in the Kaira district. The facts of the story can be easily told in Mr. Gandhi’s own words uttered at a meeting in Bombay on Feb 5, 1918.

The responsibility for the notice issued by the Guzerat Sabha of Ahmedabad was his; and nobody expected that the Government would misinterpret the objects of the notice. The Guzerat Sabha had sufficient proof of the plight of the people in the Kaira District and that the people were even obliged to sell their cattle to pay taxes, and the notice was issued to console those suffering from hardships. The Sabha’s request was to suspend the collection of dues till negotiations were over. If the Commissioner of the Division had not been angry with the deputation and had talked to them politely; such crises would not have happened. He fully expected that the deputation which would wait on the Governor would be able to explain the situation to His Excellency and the people’s cause would succeed in the end. Public men had every right to advise the people of their rights. He trusted that those who had given the people the right advice would stand by them and would not hesitate to undergo hardships in order to secure justice.

The first and last principle of passive resistance is that we should not inflict hardship on others but put up with them ourselves in order to get justice, and the Government need not fear anything if we make up our mind as we are bent on getting sheer justice from it and nothing else. We can have two weapons on occasions like this:— Revolt or passive resistance, and my request is for the second remedy always. In order to remove distress through which the Guzerat people are passing, it is my firm conviction that if we tell the truth to the Government, it will ultimately be convinced and if we are firm in our resolve, the Kaira District people shall suffer wrongs no more.


INTEREST IN SOUTH AFRICA

In spite of all these activities in India, Mr. Gandhi has not forgotten the scene of his early labours. His South African friends and fellow-workers are always dear to him. In a communication to the Indian Opinion he wrote under date 15th December, 1917:—

When I left South Africa, I had fully intended to write to my Indian and English friends there from time to time, but I found my lot in India to be quite different from what I had expected it to be. I had hoped to be able to have comparative peace and leisure but I have been irresistibly drawn into many activities. I hardly cope with them and local daily correspondence. Half of my time is passed in the Indian train . My South African friends will, I hope, forgive me for my apparent neglect of them. Let me assure them that not a day has passed but I have thought of them and their kindness. South African associations can never be effaced from my memory.

I note, too, that our people in South Africa are not yet free from difficulties about trade licences and leaving certincates. My Indian experience has confirmed the opinion that there is no remedy like passive resistance against such evils. The community has to exhaust milder remedies but I hope that it will not allow the sword of passive resistance to get rusty. It is our duty whilst the terrible war lasts to be satisfied with petitions, etc., for the desired relief but I think the Government should know that the community will not rest until the questions above mentioned are satisfactorily solved. It is but right that I should also warn the community against dangers from within. I hear from those who return from South Africa that ave are by no means free of those who are engaged in illicit traffic. We, who seek justice must be above suspicion, and I hope that our leaders will not rest till they have urged the community of internal defects.

AHMEDABAD MILL STRIKE

Passive Resistance in some form or other has always been Mr. Gandhi’s final panacea for all ailments in the body politic. He has applied it with resolute courage, and has at least as often succeeded as he has undoubtedly failed. But success or failure in the pursuit of a righteous cause is seldom the determining factor, with men of Mr. Gandbi’s moral stamina. When in March 1918 the mill hands at Ahmedabad went on strike, Mr. Gandhi was requisitioned to settle the dispute between the millowners and the workmen. He was guiding the latter to a successful settlement of their wages when some of them betrayed a sense of weakness and despair; and demoralisation was apprehended, At a critical stage in the crisis Mr. Gandhi and Miss Anusuyabhai took the vow of fast. This extreme action on the part of Mr. Gandhi was disquieting to friends and provoked some bitter comments from the unfriendly. He, of course, would be the last person to resort to such a method of forcing the millowners by appealing to their sense of pity, knowing that they were his friends and admirers. He explained the circumstances in a statement issued subsequently:—

{{quotes|I am not sorry for the vow, but with the belief that I have, I would have been unworthy of the truth undertaken by me if I had done anything less. Before I took the vow I knew that there were serious defects about it. For me to take such a vow in order to affect in any shape or form the decision of the millowners would be a cowardly injustice done to them, and that I would so prove myself unfit for the friendship which I had the privilege of enjoying with some of them. I knew that I ran the risk of being misunderstood. I could not prevent my fast from affecting my decision. That knowledge moreover put a responsibility on me which I was ill-able to bear. From now I disabled myself from gaining concessions for the men which ordinarily in a struggle such as this I would be entirely justified in securing. I knew, too, that I would have to be satisfied with the minimum I could get from the millowners and with a fulfilment of the letter of the men’s vow rather than its spirit and so hath it happened. I put the defects of my vow in one scale and the merits of it in the other. There are hardly any acts of human beings which are free from all taint. Mine, I know, was exceptionally tainted, but better the ignominy of having unworthily compromised by my vow the position and independence of the mill-owners than that it should be said by posterity that 10,000 men had suddenly broken the vow which they had for over twenty days solemnly taken and repeated in the name of God. I am fully convinced that no body of men can make themselves into a nation or perform great tasks unless they become as true as steel and unless their promises come to be regarded by the world like the law of the Medes and Persians, inflexible, and unbreakable, and whatever may be the verdict of friends, so far as I can think at present, on given occasions, I should not hesitate in future to repeat the humble performance which I have taken the liberty of describingin the communication.


DELHI WAR CONFERENCE

Mr. Gandhi was one of those invited to attend the Delhi War Conference in April 1918. At first he refused to participate in the discussions on the ground that Mr. Tilak, Mrs. Besant and the Ali Brothers were not invited to the Conference. He however waived the objection at the pressing invitation personally conveyed by H. E. the Viceroy in an interview. At the Conference he spoke briefly, supporting the loyalty resolution. He explained his position more clearly in a communique issued by him soon after the Conference. He pointed out:—

I recognise that in the hour of its danger we must give, as we have decided to give, ungrudging and unequivocal support to the Empire of which we aspire in the near future to be partners in the same sense as the Dominions Overseas. But it is the simple truth that our response is due to the expectation that our goal will be reached all the more speedily. On that account even as performance of duty automatically confers a corresponding right, people are entitled to believe that the imminent reforms alluded to in your speech will embody the main general principles of the Congress-League scheme, and I am sure that it is this faith which has enabled many members of the Conference to tender to the Government their full-hearted co-operation. If I could make my countrymen retrace their steps, I would make them withdraw all the Congress resolutions and not whisper "Home Rule" or "Responsible Government" during the pendency of the War. I would make India offer all her able-bodied sons as a sacrifice to the Empire at its critical moment and I know that India, by this very act, would become the most favoured partner in the Empire and racial distinctions would become a thing of the past But practically the whole of educated India has decided to take a less effective course, and it is no longer possible to say that educated India does not exercise any influence on the masses. 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 to preside over the protest meeting in Bombay held on the 16th June. He spoke as follows:—

Lord Willingdon has presented them with the expression Home Rule Leaguers distinguished from Home Rulers. I cannot conceive the existence of an Indian who is not a Home Ruler; but there are millions like myself who are not Home Rule Leaguers. Although I am not a member of any Home Rule League I wish to pay on this auspicious day my humble tribute to numerous Home Rule Leaguers whose association I have ever sought in my work and which has been extended to me ungrudgingly. I have found many of them to be capable of any sacrifice for the sake of the Motherland.


RECRUITING FOR THE WAR

Mr. Gandhi did a great deal to stimulate recruiting for the war. Though he did not hesitate to criticise the bureaucracy for individual acts of wrong, he went about in the Districts of Kaira calling for recruits. Time and again he wrote to the press urging the need for volunteers and he constantly spoke to the educated and the illiterate alike on the necessity for joining the Defence Force. On one occasion he said in Kaira where he had conducted Satyagraha on an extensive scale:—

You have successfully demonstrated how you can resist Government with civility, and how you can retain your own respect without hurting theirs. I now place before you an opportunity of proving that you bear no hostility to Government in spite of your strenuous fight with them.

You are all Home Rulers, some of you are members of Home Rule Leagues. One meaning of Home rule is that we should become partners of the Empire. To-day we are a subject people. We do not enjoy all the rights of Englishmen. We are not to-day partners of the Empire as are Canada, South Africa and Australia. We are a Dependency. We want the rights of Englishmen, and we aspire to be as much partners of the Empire as the Dominions Overseas. We wish for the time when we may aspire to the Viceregal office. To bring such a state of things we should have the ability to defend ourselves, that is the ability to bear arms and to use them. As long as we have to look to Englishmen for our defence, as long as we are not free from the fear of the military, so long we cannot be regarded as equal partners with Englishmen. It, therefore, behoves us to learn the use of arms and to acquire the ability to defend ourselves. If we want to learn the use of arms With the greatest possible despatch, it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the Army.

The easiest and the straightest way to win Swarajya, said Mr. Gandhi, is to participate in the defence of the Empire. This argument, doubtless, went home, and he appealed in the following words:—

There are 600 villages in the Kaira District. Every village has on an average a population of over 1,000. If every village gave at least twenty men the Kaira District would be able to raise an army of 12,000 men. The population of the whole district is seven lakhs and this number will then work out at 17 per cent——a rate which is lower than the death-rate. If we are not prepared to make even this sacrifice for the Empire and Swarajya, it is no wonder if we are regarded as unworthy of it. If every village gives at least twenty men they will return from the war and be the living bulwarks of their village. If they fall on the battle-field, they will immortalise themselves, their villages and their country and twenty fresh men will follow suit and offer themselves for national defence.


THE MONTAGU REFORMS

We have noticed how Mr. Gandhi took a leading part in the agitation for post-war reforms and how his idea of a monster petition was taken up by every political body of importance in the country. It must, however, be noted with regret that his enthusiasm for the reforms was not kept up as he was absolutely engrossed in other affairs. On the publication of the Joint Report in July 1918, Mr. Gandhi wrote to the Servant of India at the request of the Hon. Mr. (now the Rt. Hon.) V. S. S. Sastri for an expression of opinion:—

No scheme of reform can possibly benefit India that does not recognise that the present administration is top-heavy and ruinously expensive and for me even law, order and good government would be too dearly purchased if the price to be paid for it is to be the grinding poverty of the masses. The watchword of our Reform Councils will have to be not the increase of taxation for the growing needs of a growing country, but a decrease of financial burdens that are sapping the foundation itself of organic growth. If this fundamental fact is recognised there need be no suspicion of our motives and I think I am perfectly safe in asserting that in every other respect British interests will be as secure in Indian hands as they are in their own.

It follows from what I have said above that we must respectfully press for the Congress-League claim for the immediate granting to Indians of 50 per cent of the higher posts in the Civil Service.

THE ROWLATT BILLS AND SATYAGRAHA

But soon there began a movement which was to tax the utmost energies of Mr. Gandhi, a movement fraught with grave consequences. The Government of India persisted in passing a piece of legislation known as the Rowlatt Laws whivh were designed to curb still further what little liberty is yet possessed by Indians in their own country. The legislation was presumed to be based on the Report of the Rowlatt Committee which announced the discovery of plots for the subversion of Government. Friends of Government, solicitous of the peaceful and well-ordered condition of society, warned it of the danger of passing such acts which betrayed a tactless want of confidence and trust in the people at a time when Responsible Government was contemplated. The bill was stoutly opposed by the public and the press. It was denounced by every political organisation worth the name. It was severely and even vehemently attacked in the Imperial Council. Irrespective of parties, the whole country stood solid against a measure of such iniquity. The Hon. Mr. Sastri and Pundit Medan Mohan Malaviya, and in fact every one of the non-official members condemned the bill as outrageous and forebode grave consequences if it should be passed. But Government was obstinate and the bill was passed in the teeth of all opposition.

Mr. Gandhi who travelled all over the country and wrote and spoke with amazing energy was not to be easily silenced. Every other form of constitutional agitation having failed he resorted as usual to his patent—Satyagraha. On February 28, 1919, he published a momentous pledge which he asked his countrymen to sign and observe as a covenant binding on them. The pledge ran as follows:—

Being conscientiously of opinion that the Bills known as the Indian Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill No. 1 of 1919, and the Criminal Law (Emergency Powers) Bill No. 11 of 1919, are unjust, subversive of the principle of liberty and iustice, and destructive of the elementary rights of individuals on which the safety of the community as a whole and the State itself is based, we solemnly affirm that in the event of these Bills becoming law and until they are withdrawn, we shall refuse civilly to obey these laws and such other laws as a committee to be hereafter appointed may think fit and further affirm that in this struggle we will faithfully follow truth and refrain from violence to life, person or property.

He then started on an extensive tour through the country educating the learned and the unlearned, in the principles and practice of Satyagraha. At Bombay, Allahabad, Madras, Tanjore, Trichy, Tuticorin and Negapatam he addressed large gatherings in March. Sunday the 6th April was appointed the Satyagraha Day when complete hartal was to be observed, prayers offered and the vow to be taken amidst great demonstrations Delhi observed the Satyagraha day on the 30th, and there ensued a scuflle between the people and the police. It was alleged against the Delhi people at the Railway Station

(1) that some of them were trying to coerce sweetmeat sellers into closing their stalls; (2) that some were forcibly preventing people from plying tramcars and other vehicles; (3) that some of them threw brickbats; (4) that the whole crowd that marched to the Station demanded the release of men who were said to be coercers and who were for that reason arrested at the instance of the Railway authorities; (5) that the crowd declined to disperse when the Magistrate gave orders to disperse.

Swami Shraddhananda (the well-known Mahatma Munshi Ram of the Gurukula, who had taken the orders of the Sannyasi) denied the first three allegations. Granting they were all true there was no need, argued Mr. Gandhi, for the interference of the military who were called on to fire on the unarmed mob. But the crowd was completely self-possessed and though there was some loss of life, it spoke volumes in praise of the Delhi people that they conducted a meeting of 40,000 in perfect peace and order. But the Delhi tragedy had burnt itself into the soul of Mr. Gandhi and his friends. The incident he said, "imposed an added responsibility upon Satyagrahis of steeling their hearts and going on with their struggle until the Rowlatt Legislation was withdrawn." The whole country answered Mr. Gandhi’s call in a way that was at once significant and impressive. Tens and hundreds of thousands gathered in different cities, and never within living memory have such demonstrations been witnessed.

In the meanwhile the Satyagraha Committees in different centres of India were actively carrying on their propaganda. The Central Committee of which Mr. Gandhi was the president, advised that for the time being laws regarding prohibited literature and registration of newspapers might be civilly disobeyed. Accordingly on the 7th April Mr. Gandhi issued a notice to organise, regulate and control the sale of these publications. A leaflet called Satyagrahi was at once brought out as also some early writing of Mr. Gandhi’s which was pronounced to be seditious. The first print stated among other things:

The editor is liable at any moment to be arrested, and it is impossible to ensure the continuity of publication until India is in a happy position of supplying editors enough to take the place of those who are arrested. It is not our intention to break for all time the laws governing the publication of newspapers. This paper will, therefore, exist so long only as the Rowlatt Legislation is not withdrawn.

Meanwhile as contemplated by Mr. Gandhi he was arrested at Kosi on his way to Delhi on the morning of the 10th April and served with an order not to enter the Punjab and the District of Delhi. The officer serving the order treated him most politely, assuring him that it would be his most painful duty to arrest him, if he elected to disobey, but that there would be no ill-will between them. Mr. Gandhi smilingly said that he must elect to disobey as it was his duty, and that the officer ought also to do what was his duty. Mr. Gandhi then dictated a message to Mr. Desai, his secretary, laying special emphasis in his oral message that none should resent his arrest or do anything tainted with untruth or violence which was sure to harm the sacred cause.

Mr. Gandhi arrived in Bombay on the afternoon of the 11th April, having been prevented from entering the Provinces of the Punjab and Delhi. An order was soon after served on him requiring him to confine his activities within the limits of the Bombav Presidency. Having heard of the riots and the consequent bloodshed in different places he caused the following message to be read at all the meetings that evenings:—

I have not been able to understand the cause of so much excitement and disturbance that followed my detention. It is not Satyagraha. It is worse than Duragraha. Those who join Satyagraha demonstrations are bound one and all to refrain at all hazard from violence, not to throw stones or in any way whatever to injure anybody.

I therefore suggest that if we cannot conduct this movement without the slightest violence from our side, the movement might have to be abandoned or it may be necessary to give it a different and still more restricted shape. It may be necessary to go even further. The time may come for me to offer Satyagraha against ourselves. I would not deem it a disgrace that we die. I shall be pained to hear ofthe death of a Satyagrahi, but I shall consider it to be the proper sacrifice given for the sake of the struggle.

I do not see what penance I can offer excepting that it is for me to fast and if need be by so doing togive up this body and thus prove the truth of Satyagraha. I appeal to you to peacefully disperse and to refrain from acts that may in any way bring disgrace upon the people of Bombay.

But the Duragraka of the few upset the calculations of Mr. Gandhi, as he had so constantly been warned by many of his friends and admirers who could not however subscribe to his faith in civil disobedience. The story of the tragedy needs no repeating. It is written on the tablet of time with bitter memories, and the embers of that controversy have not yet subsided. But Mr. Gandhi, with a delicacy of conscience and a fine appreciation of truth, which we have learnt to associate with his name as with that of Newman, felt for the wrongs done to Englishmen with the same passionate intensity with which he felt for those indicted on his own countrymen. Few words of remorse in recorded literature are more touching than those uttered by Mr. Gandhi in his speech at Ahmedabad on the 14th April 1919, They are in the supreme manner of Cardinal Newman’s Apologia:

Brothers, the events that have happened in the course of the last few days have been most disgraceful to Ahmedabad, and as all these things have happened in my name, I am ashamed of them, and those who have been responsible for them have thereby not honoured me but disgraced me. A rapier run through my body could hardly have pained me more. I have said times without number that Satyagraha admits of no violence, no pillage, no incendiarism; and still in the name of Satyagraha we burnt down buildings, forcibly captured weapons, extorted money, stopped trains, cut off telegraph wires, killed innocent people and plundered shops and private houses. If deeds such as these could save me from the prison house or the scaffold I should not like to be so saved.

It is open to anybody to say that but for the Satyagrahacampaign there would not have been this violence. For this I have already done a penance, to my mind an unendurable one, namely, that I have had to postpone my visit to Delhi to seek re-arrest and I have also been obliged to suggest a temporary restriction of Satyagraha to a limited field. This has been more painful to me than a wound, but this penance is not enough, and I have therefore decided to fast for three days, i.e., 72 hours. I hope my fast will pain no one. I believe a seventy-two hours' fast is easier for me than a twenty-four hours' fast for you. And I have imposed on me a discipline which I can bear.

In consequence of the violence, he ordered a general suspension of the movement on the 18th April only to be resumed on another occasion which was soon to follow in the heels of the Punjab tragedy.


THE PUNJAB DISORDERS

Before passing to a consideration of the Khilafat question and Mr. Gandh1’s lead which made it such a potent and All-India agitation we must say a word on the aftermath of the Punjab tragedy. It is unnecessary to recount the extraordinary happenings in the Punjab as time and vigilant enquiries have laid bare the unscrupulous methods of that Government For over a year, the tale of the Punjab atrocities, the shooting down of a defenseless and unarmed gathering of some 2,000 men, women and children in cold blood at the Jallianwallah Bagh, the monstrous methods of martial law administered by Col. Johnson and Bosworth Smith, the outrageous indignities to which the poor people of the place were subjected, the callous disregard of life and respect with which Sir Michael O’Dwyer and Brigadier Dyer were inflicting some of the worst features of Prussianism on a helpless people—the crawling order and the public flogging—these have been the theme of countless articles and speeches. The Punjab revelations have shocked the conscience of the civilized world which could scarcely believe that such frightful acts of brutality could be possible in the British Government till the Hunter Commission confirmed their worst apprehensions.

But it was long before the Government could be forced to appoint a Commission of Inquiry. And at last only a Committee was appointed while all India was anxious for a Royal Commission. It was therefore decided to proceed with an independent enquiry. Mr. Gandhi headed the Congress Sub Committee and carried out a most searching and thorough investigation. It was a pity he could not lead the Congress evidence before the Hunter Committee, owing to certain diiierences between the two Committees in regard to the freedom of certain witnesses then under confinement. Suffice it to say that the Congress Committee decided not to give evidence, or in any way participate with the Hunter Committee.

But under the able and indefatigable guidance of Mr. Gandhi the Congress Committee collected a great mass of material for judging the Punjab disorders. They examined over 1,700 witnesses and recorded the evidence of no less than 650. Mr. Gandhi’s participation io the Committee was itself a guarantee to its merit as an authoritative and responsible body. In fact no name could carry more weight than Mr. Gandhi’s in the matter of veracity in such an undertaking—an undertaking likely to prejudice and warp the judgment of many. When in April 1920 the Report was published it was hailed everywhere as an unanswerable document—the result of patient industry and dispassionate judgment on a most brutal and savage episode in contemporary history.

Soon after, the Hunter Report which was for many months in the hands of the Cabinet, was also issued, accompanied by a despatch by the Secretary of State. The Report recorded indeed many of the facts published already in the Congress Report, laid stress on the evils of Satyagraha, condoned the bloody exploits of Gen. Dyer as "an error of judgment" (a diplomatic euphemism for the slaughter of the innocents) and vindicated the statesmanship of Sir Michael O’Dwyer! The force of perversior could no further go! Mr. Montagu, however, passionately denounced Gen. Dyer’s savagery as inconsistent with the principles of British Government but curiously enough paid a tribute to Sir Micheel’s sagacity and firmness and the Viceroy’s policy of masterly inactivity! This was bad enough from the Indian point of view. But there sprang up a wild scream from the Anglo-Indian Press, and Mem Sahebs in search of sensation and notoriety discovered in Gen. Dyer the saviour of British India. The Pioneer and other prints followed the lead of the London Morning Post and appealed for funds towards a memorial to this gallant soldier who shot men like rabbits, while a section of the Indian Press urged that "Chelmsford must go." Then followed the debate in the House of Commons which was looked forward to with some excitement. The House ultimately retained its honour in the debate and though Mr. Montagu, Mr. Asquith and Mr. Churchill spoke with a profound sense of justice and carried the day, there was no doubt of the mentality of the average Englishmen. But it was left to the House of Peers to betray the utter demoralisation that had set in. Lord Finlay’s motion condoning Gen. Dyer was passed in spite of the masterly speeches of Lord Curzon and Lord Sinha. Though the noble Lords’ action could have no constitutional value it was yet an index to the depth of English ignorance and prejudice. Above all, some officers who had misbehaved in the late tragedy still continued to exercise authority in the Punjab, and Mr. Lajpat Bai started a propaganda to boycott the New Councils so long as they were not dispensed with. Mr, Gandhi who had already made up his mind to offer Satyagraha in varying forms in connection with the Khilafat question readily joined the Lala and issued the following note in July 1920:—

Needless to say I am in entire accord with Lala Lajpat Rai on the question of a boycott of the Reformed Councils. For me it is but one step in the campaign of Non-Co-operation, as I feel equally keenly on the Punjab question as on the Khilafat. Lala Lajpat Rai’s suggestion is doubly welcome. I have seen a suggestion made in more quarters than one that Non-Co-operation with the Reforms should commence after the process of election has been gone through. I cannot help saying that it is a mistake to go through the election farce and the expense of it, when we clearly do not intend to take part in the proceedings of these Legislative Councils. Moreover, a great deal of educative work has to be done among the people, and if I could I would not have the best attention of the country frittered away in electioneering. The populace will not understand the beauty of Non-Co-operation, if we seek election and then resign; but it would be a fine education for them if electors are taught not to elect anybody and unanimously to tell whosoever may be seeking their suffrage that he would not represent them if he sought election so long as the Punjab and Khilafat questions were not satisfactorily settled. I hope, however, that Lala Lajpat Rai does not mean to end with the boycott of the Reformed Councils. We must take, if necessary, every one of the four stages of Non-Co-operation if we are to be regarded as a self-respecting nation. The issue is clear. Both the Khilafat terms and the Punjab affairs show that Indian opinion counts for little in the Councils of the Empire. It is a humiliating position. We shall make nothing of the Reforms if we quietly swallow the humiliation. In my humble opinion, therefore, the first condition of real progress is the removal of these two difficulties in our path, and unless some better course of action is devised, Non-Co-operation must hold the field.


THE KHILAFAT QUESTION

We have referred more than once to Mr. Gandhi's connection with the Khilafat question. The country was in the throes of a tremendous agitation—an agitation which gained enormously in its intensity and popular appeal by the mere fact of Mr. Gandhi’s participation in it. It would take us far afield to discuss the whole question of the history of the Khilafat movement. Briefly put, it resolves itself into two primary factors. The first was the Premier’s pledge and promise, that after the war nothing would be done to disturb the integrity of the Ottoman Empire both as a concession to Muslim loyalty and in accordance with the principles of self-determination. The second was that the violation of imperial obligation was thoroughly immoral and should at all costs be resisted by all self-respecting Mahomedans. In this gigantic enterprise Hindus must help Mahomedans and join hands with them as a token of neighbourly regard. This at any rate was the interpretation put upon the Khilafat question by Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Gandhi would not stoop to consider 42 M. K. eaxnm that the Government of India could possibly have no voice in the determination of an international negotiation. He knew that the Government of India had represented the Indian feeling with some warmth and that Mr. Montegu and Lord Sinha had done their best to voice the claims of India at the Peace Table. But he held that the Government of lndia had not done all in their powrr and wl en the terms of Treaty with Turkey were published with a lengthy note from the Government of India to soothe the injured sentiment of the Muslim peoplr , Mr Gandhi wrote a re- markably frank letter to H. E Lor·d Chelmsford, the Viceroy, on June 14, 1920, in which he pointed out:-- The Peace terms and Your Excellenoy’s defence of them have given the Mussulmans of India a shock from which it will be diflicult for them to recover. The terms violate Ministerial pledges and utterly disregard the Mussulman sentiment. I consider that as a staunch Hindu, wishing to live on terms of the closest friendship with my Mussulman countrymen I should be an unworthy son of India if I did not st and by them in their hour of trial. In my humble opinion their cause is just. They claim that Turkey must not be punished if their sentiment is to be respected. Muslim soldiers did not iight to inflict punish- ment on their own Khalifa or to deprive him of his territories. The Mussulman attitude has been consistent throughout these five years. My duty to the Empire to which I owe my loyalty, requires me to resist the cruel violence that had been done to Mussulman sentiment. So far as I am aware the Mussulmans and Hindus have as a whole lost faith in British justice and honour. The report of the majority ofthe Hunter Committee, Your Excellency’s despatch thereon, and Mr. Montagu’s reply have only aggravated the distrust. In these circumstances the only course open to one like me is either in despair to sever all con- nection with British Ru e or if I still retained the faith in the inherent superiority ofthe British Constitution to all others at present in vogue, to adopt such means as will rectify the wrong done and thus restore that confidence. Non-Co-operation was the only dignified and constitutional form of such direct action. For it is a right `recognised from times immemorial of the subjects to refuse to assist the ruler who misrules. At the same time I admit Non—Co·operation practised by_ the mass ot people is attended with grave risks. But in a crisis such as has overtaken the Mussulmans of India, no step that is unattended with large risks can possibly bring about the desired change. Not to run some risks will be to count much greater risks if not the virtual destruction_of law M. K. GANDHI 43 and order;but there is yet an escape from N on-Co-operation. The Mussulman representation has requested Your Excellency to lead the agitation yourself as did your distinguished prede- cessor at the time of the South African trouble, but if you cannot see your way to do so and Non-Co-operation becomes the dire necessity, I hope Your Excellency will give those who have accepted my advice and myself credit for being actuated by nothing less than a stern sense of duty. Tum Nor: Oo-orsanron PaconAMMm And what was the Non-Co-operation programme that Mr. Gandhi had worked out for the adoption of the country for rectifying the wrongs done to Muslim sentiment? He enunciated the four stages in the programme of Non-Co- operation in clear and unambiguous terms. The first was the giving up of titles and honorary offices ; the second was the refusal to serve Government in paid appointments or to participate in any manner in the working of the existing machinery of civil and judicial administration. The third was to decline to pay taxes and the last was to ask the police and the military to withdraw co—operation from the Government. From the first Mr. Gandhi realised the full scope of the movement and he had no doubt of its far-reaching effects. It cannot therefore be said that he started the movement in a fit of indigna· tion. Far from it he had worked out his programme to the farthest limits of its logic and had a clear grasp of all its implications. From time to time he set right many a misconception in the mind of the non co—operationists, such for instance, in regard to the position of the non co- operationist Vakil. There is no ambiguity in what Mr. Gandhi said. The Vakil should quietly wash his hands ofl the court, cases and all, Mr. Gandhi took care to explain that no stage would be taken until he had made sure that he was on firm ground. That is, he would not embark on the last two stages till he had created an indigenous panchayat to dispense justice and an organization of volunteers to maintain peace and order. In any case, violence should be completely avoided. Now it nlust be admitted that many people had only a vague and hazy notion of Mr. Gandhi’s programm6_ There were of course those who plainly told Mr. Gandhi gf 44 M. K. GANDHI the impracticability of his scheme and the dangers involved in it. Many Liberal League organisations implored Mr. Gandhi not to lead the country to a repetition of the Punjab tragedy. Moderate leaders like Sir Narayan Chan- davarkar argued the futility of methods leading to anarchy and chaos. But the most amusing, even at such serious times, was the attitude of some Congressmen. These were variously divided. All hailed Non-Co-operation in theory. But when the time came for practising it, they Hooded the country with a mass of literature of the most tortuous kind ; casuistry was dealt in abundance. Aspirants after Council honours refused to commit what they called "political suicide" by "boycotting the New Councils". Others affected to believe in the possibilities of further efforts of constitutional agita- tion. Still others detected illegalities in some stages of Non-Cooperation. And yet some would not commit them¤elves but await the verdict of the Special Congress. A minority would contest at the elections only to resign again and yet some others would join the New Councils _ just to wreck the Reforms l What a cloud of words and mystification of meaning! To all this warfare of words Mr. Gandhi’s own direct and simple statements are in refreshing contrast. He spoke and wrote strongly on the subject. There could be no doubt of his intentions or his plans. There was no ambiguity in his language. His words went straight asa bullet and he hadawholesome scorn of diplomatic reserves in opinion. \Vhatever one may think of his views Mr. Gandhi’s leadership was faultless and he held his ground with the fervour of faith. In no case would he play to the gallery nor make light of his cherished convictions even if he found the whole mass of the people ranged against him. be would not be led away by the passing gusts of popular frenzy fand he hasa wholesome contempt for sycophancy of any kind, even to the people. He has a noble way of bearing the brunt of all toil and trouble. He would not like many other "leaders" throw the followers into the fray while they continue to remain in comparative security. He M. K. GANDHI 45 has an inconvenient way of urging the leaders really to lead. Accordingly on the lst of August, as he had already announced he led the movement by returning his Kaiser-i hind gold medal to the Viceroy. In returning it he wrote a letter to His Excellency from which we must quote the following sentences :———- " Events that have happened during the past month have confirmed me in the opinion that the Imperial Government have acted in the Khilafat matter in an unscrupulous, immoral, and unjust manner and have been moving from wrong to wrong in order to defend their immorality. I can retain neither resp ect nor affection for such a Government. • lll- ·Pl<· ·JI· Your Exce\lency’s light-hearted treatment of official crime, your exoneration of Sir Michael O’Dwye1·, Mr. Montagu’s des- patch, and above all the shameful ignorance of the Punjab events and callous disregard of the feelings of Indians betrayed by the House of Lords have filled me with the gravest misgiv- ings regarding the future of the Empire, have estranged me com- pletely from the present Government and have disabled me from rendering as I have hitherto-·whole~heartedly tendered, my loyal co-operation. " In my humble opinion the ordinary method of agitating by way of petitions, deputations, and the like is no remedy for moving to repentance a Government so hopelessly indifferent to the welfare of its charge as the Government of India has proved to be. In European countries condonation of such grievous wrongs as the Khilafat and the Punjab would have resulted in a bloody revolution by the people. They would have resisted, at all costs, national emasculation. Half of India ls too weak to offer violent resistance, and the other half is un- willing to do so. I have therefore, ventured to suggest the remedy of N on-Co—operation, which enables those who wish to dissociate themselves from Government, and which, if it is unattended by violence and undertaken in ordered manner, must compel it to retrace its steps and undo the wrongs com- mitted ; but whilst I pursue the policy of N on·Co-operation, in so far as I can carry the people with me, I shall not lose hope that you will yet see your way to do justice, I therefore re- spectfully ask Your Excellency to summon a conference of recognised leaders of the people, and, in consultation with them, to find a way that will gladden Mussulmans and do re- paration to the unhappy Punjab." Soon after, Mr. Gandhi started on an extensive cam- paign preaching N on-Co·opnration to large audiences. In August he came to Madras where he delivered a power- 46 M. K. GANDHI ful speech advocating his scheme. Mr. Gandhi went to Tanjore, Trichy, Bangalore and other places and discoursed on the same subject with his accustomed energy, while his weekly Y owng India was replete with regular contributions from his indefatigable pen. Week after week Young India. came out with a series of articles from Mr. Gandhi’s pen answering objections and formulating methods of N on-Co- operation. Couoanss AND NoN—Co-omcnarron Mr. Gandhi’s immediate objective was to convert the Special Congress to his creed. For as we have said though many had jubilantly proclaimed their faith in his pro- gramme, it was found that as time drew near for putting his plans into practice they were busy finding loopholes to escape the rigours of Mr. Gandhi’s discipline. Everybody would throw everybody else into the struggle. A body of men who had sworn by Mr. Gandhi and denounced those who had the courage to differ from him were suddenly faced with an awkward dilemma. They felt the inconveni- ence of suffering and sacrifice and would fain be relieved of their unwitting words of bravado. But Mr. Gandhi would stand four square to all the winds that blow. Nor could they with any grace secede from the Congress, having so violently denounced as treason the Moderates’ disregard of the Delhi and Amritsar Resolutions, There was to their mind only one course left open, i. e., to thwart Mr. Gandhi’s resolution in the open Congress. But Mr. Gandhi had prepared the ground with characteristic thoroughness. Kbilafat specials from Bombay and Madras had Hooded the Congress with delegates sworn to vote for him. There was a tough tight in the Subjects Committee which sat for eight long hours without coming to any apparent decision. Over forty amendments were brought in by different mem- bers, twelve of them were ruled out as mere verbal repeti- tions and there remained no less than 28 amendments to consider. The speeches in the Subjects Committee were remarkably frank. Messrs. Malaviya, Das, Pal, Jinnab, Baptiste, all attacked the original resolution with warmth · while Mrs. Besant vigorously assailed the very principle of M. K. GANDI-II 47 Non·Co·operation. The debate was most exciting.` The President, Mr. Lajpat Rai himself, spoke strongly against certain important provisions of the Resolution. He would? not agree to the withdrawal of boys from schools nor could he think it at all possible to call upon lawyers to leave their practice. He was personally in favour of the ·princip1e of Non—Co·operation but he doubted the wisdom of committing the Congress to those extravagant and far- reaching items in Mr. Gandhi’s programme. Borcorr or CoUN01Ls But by far the most contentious item in the Rssolu— tion was that relating to the boycott of councils. The bulk of the nationalists were strangely enough opposed to it and by a curious stretch of logic they considered obstruction in the council as preferable to wholesale boycott. Mr. C. R. Das, who was in charge of the main resolu- tion on behalf of the Reception Committee, agreed to Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal’s amendment of his resolution, but if it was defeated, he would stand by his own. Mr. Pal’s amendment was put to the vote and was lost, 155 voting for and 161 against. Then another vote was taken on Mr. Das’s resolution and Mr Gandhi’s resolution as amended by Pundit Motial Nehru and as accepted by Mr. Gandhi him- self. It is said that in the final voting a poll was taken 133 voting for Mr. Dxs’s resolution and 148 for Mr. Gandhi’s, thus giving a majority to Mr Gandhi of 15 votes and thus showing that the voting was very close. It is clear that the Subjects Committee consisted of 296 members present and that 15 of whom remained neutral. The greatest excitement prevailed both inside the Com- mittee room and outside when it was known that Mr. Gandhi won the day. Nearly two thousand people collected outside and shouted " Gandhi Mahatma Kee Jai " and " Bande Mataram." EXCITEMENT IN THE CONGRESS That gives the clue to the mentality of the Congress. If Mr. Gandhi could win in the Subjects Committee itself there was no doubt of his triumph in the open Congress. Still Mr. Das proposed to bring his amendments to the 48 M. K. GANDHI open Congress and take the verdict. That verdict was a foregone conclusion. The N ationalists complained (what an irony of things I) that the Khilafats had packed the house and manccuvred a majority. There is no doubt that each party strove for victory, Wlien the Congress met the next day, Sir Asutosh Choudhuri moved for adjournment of the question in the right legal way. Mr. V, P. Madhava Bao seconded it but the motion was lost by an overwhelm- ing majority. Mr. Gandhi then rose to move his resolution amidst thunderous applause. The Resolution ran as follows :—— This Congress is of opinion that there can be no content- ment in India without redress of the two aforementioned wrongs and that the only effectual means to vindicate national honour and to prevent a repetition of similar wrongs in future is the establishment of Swarajya. This Congress is further of opinion that there is no course left open for the people of India but to approve of and adopt the policy of progressive non-violent Non- Co·operation until the said wrongs are righted and Swarajya is established. And inasmuch as a beginning should be made by the classes who have hitherto moulded and represented public opinion and inasmuch as Government consolidates its power through titles and honours bestowed on the people, through schools controlled by it, its law courts and its legislative councils, and inasmuch· as it is desirable in the prosecution of the movement to take the minimum risk and to call for the least sacrifice compatible with the attainment of the desired object, this Congress earnestly advises: (a) surrender of titles and honorary ofiices and resignation from nominated seats in local bodies ; (b) refusal to attend Government levees, durbars, and other official and semi·oHicial functions held by Government ofhcials or in their houour; (c) gradual withdrawal of children from schools and colleges owned, aided or controlled by Government and in place of such schools and colleges establishment of national schools and colleges in the various provinces ; (d) gradual boycott of British courts by lawyers and liti- ganis and establishment of private arbitration courts by their aid for the settlement of private disputes; (e) refusal on the part of the military, clerical and labouring classes to offer themselves as recruits for service in. Mesopotamia ; (f) withdrawal by candidates of their candidature for elec- tion to the Reformed Councils and refusal on the part of the M. K. GANDHI 49 voters to vote for any candidate who may despite the Congress advice offer himself for election. (g) And inasmuch as N on·Co-operation has been conceived. as a measure of discipline and self-sacrifice without which no nation can make real progress, and inasmuch, as an opportunity should be given in the very nrst stage of Non-Co-operation to every man, woman, and child, for such discipline and self·sacri- flee, this Congress advises adoption of Swadeshi in piecegoods on a vast scale, and inasmuch as the existing mills of India with indigenous capital and control do not manufacture sufficient yarn and sufficient cloth for the requirements of the nation, and are not likely to do so for a long time to come, this Congress advises immediate stimulation of further manufacture on a large scale by means of reviving hand-spinning in every home and hand-weaving on the part of the millions of weavers who have abandoned their ancient and honourable calling for want of encouragement. In moving the resolution, Mr. Gandhi spoke with compelling fervour, " I stand before you, in fear of God," he said, " and with a sense of duty towards my country to commend this resolution to your hearty acceptance." Mr. Gandhi said that the only weapon in their hands was Non- Co-operation, and non—violence should be their creed. Dr. Kitchlew seconded the resolution in Urdu. Mr. Pal then placed his amendment which proposed a mission to England to present our demands and meanwhile to establish national schools, formulate arbitration courts and not to boycott the councils. Mr, Das in supporting the amendment made an appeal to Mr, Gandhi to consider the practical effect of his victory. Mrs. Besant opposed both the resolution and the amendment, while Pandit Malaviya and Mr. Jinnah preferred the latter. Messrs. Yakub Hasan, J itendra Lal Banerjea, Nehru and Rambhuji Dutt supported Mr. Gandhi whose resolution was finally carried. The Congress reassembled on the 9th and the whole— morning was devoted to the taking of votes, province by province, for and against Mr. Gandhi’s motion. Out of twelve provinces only the Central Provinces and Berar showed a majority against Mr. Gandhi’s motion, while in the remaining ten provinces the majority of votes were int Sq M. K. GANDHI his favour. The president announced that out of 5,814 delegates, the registered number of delegates who took part in voting was 2,728 while 63 did not vote. Actual voting showed that l,855 voted for and 873 against Mr. ¤C¤andhi’s motion. After this fateful decision it is no wonder that Con- gressmen who were avowedly against Non-Co·operation found themselves in a difficult predicament. They hastily called for a meeting of the All·India Congress Committee and it was resolved to find a way out of the mess the Con- gress had made. The mandatory nature of the Congress Resolution was relaxed at the instance of Pandit Malaviya and a few others who thought it suicidal to let slip the benefits of the new reforms. It was, however, thought inexpedient to impair the authority of the Congress and Congressmen like Mr. Patel in Bombay, Mr. Das in Bengal, Pandit Motilal Nehru in U. P., Messrs. Madhava Rao and Vijayaraghavachariar in Madras-·——though they had oppos- ed the Resolution in the Congress-- decided to abide by it, and withdrew their candidature from the forthcoming elections. Many leading Congressmen resigned their honorary oiiiees and relinquished their titles While Mr. Gokaran Nath Misra, one of the Secretaries ofthe All- India Congress Committee, and several otlice—bearers in the Provincial Congreis Committees who were opposed to the Resolution resigned their oilices so as to leave the Congress organisations free to work out Mr. Gindhi’s programme. If Mr. Gandhi’s Qinliuence was so decisive at the Special Congress as to set at naught the opinons of Con- gressmen like C. R. Das and Bepin Chandra Pal, his autho- rity was supreme at the Nagpur Session in December. Nagpur in fact, witnessed the turning point in the history of the Congress, as in that year Mr. Gandhi, with an over- whelming majority completely captured this institution and converted its leading spirits to his creed. Here it was that the old creed of the Congress was discarded for the new one of indifference to British overlordship. · M. K. GANDHI 5I \Vith the change of creed and the wholesale adoption ~of the programme of Non·Co-operation the old Congress was virtually dead. The New Congress was inspired by a new hope and sustained by new methods altogether alien to the faith of men like Dadabhai and Gokhale who had guided it in its years of infancy and adolescence. Mr, Gandhi was not slow to use his great authority over the Congress to further the movement of which he was the directing head. At his command were all the Congress and Klnlafat organisations, and he set out on an extensive tour of the country preaching the new cult with the fervour of a prophet. Everywhere he was received with ovation. His Nagpur triumph was the beginning of an agitation before which even his Satyagraha demonstra- tions were as nothing. Mr. Gandhi, as might be expected of one of his ardent and generous impulse, staked his life on the agitation, and day after day he was unwearied in his services and unsparing of himself in his devotion to what might be called the most supreme and desperate adventure of his life. As he went from place to place accompanied by the Ali Brothers the movement became popular among the ignorant and the literate. His fourfold programme of boy- cotting schools, cloths, councils and Government Service was the theme of his multitudinous discourses. But the most painful result (at any rate to those who are not of his pursuasien) was the calling away of youths from their schools and colleges. Many a lad, led away by the glamour of the great ideal and the irresistable appeal of a saintly leader, gave up their school education, the only education available at present. THE STUDENT MOVEMENT At Aligarh and Benares great efforts were made to call away the students from the Muslim and Hindu Uni- versities, if they could not nationalise them. They were not quite successful though a few joined the Congress, but in Bengal, at the instance of Messrs. C. R. Das and Jitend- ralal Banerjea, a large number of students flocked t0 their standard and deserted the schools. It was such appeals 52 M. K. GANDHI that enthused the youth of Bengal who created a pro-» found sensation by throwing themselves in their thousands at the steps of the Calcutta University Hall, that the few who did attend the examination had to do so by walking over their bodies. One peculiarity of the programme was that emphasis was laid on each item as the occasion demanded. At one time it was the boycott of schools, again it was the collee- tion of a crore of rupees for the Swarajya Fund, a third time it was the burning of mill cloths and yet again it was the boycott of the Duke or the good Prince. Each was in turn to bring Swarajya within the year. Thus in February the agitation centred on the boycott of the Dulce of Connaught to whom Mr, Gandhi addressed a dignified if uncompromising letter. Mr. Gandhi wrote:-- Our non-participation in a hearty welcome to Your Royal Highness is thus in no sense a demonstration against your high personage, but it is against the system you come to uphold. I know individual Englishmen cannot even if they will, alter the English nature all of a sudden. If we would be the equals of Englishmen we must east off fear. We must learn to be self- reliant and independent of schools, courts, protection and patronage of a Government we seek to end if it will not mend. By May the spirit of lawlessness had spread far and wide and strikes and hartals became the order of the day. Mr. Gandhi, however, resolutely discountenanced all violence and he was seldom sparing in his admonition of those who took part in the incident at Malegaon and other places. Again and again, he spoke strongly against the spirit of non-violence which for a time broke out as often as he decried it in all earnestness. INTERVIEW wrru THE NEW VICEROY It was about this time too that Lord Chelmsford retired and his place was taken by Lord Reading, who came to India with a great reputation, An Ex-Lord Chief Justice oi England and sometime British Ambassador at Washington during the fateful years of war--·the new Viceroy inspired great hopes. His reputation for justice, strengthened by his repeated assurances, and his reputation for tactful dealing of delicate questions were just the things of M. K. GANDHI 53 momentous need for India. No wonder, an air of hope and expectancy hung over the whole country. Soon after Lord Reading arrived in India, an inter- view was arranged by Pandit Malaviya between the new Viceroy and Mr. Gandhi. This interview, which lasted many hours, took place at Simla in May 1921. Much speculation was rife as to its result and Mr. Gandhi explained the circumstances and the results of his talk in in article in Y mmg India under the title " The Simla Visit." What was the upshot of the visit? The leader of the Non-Co-operation movement and the head of the Government of India got to know each other. It was a great thing. But the immediate result of this was the statement issued by the Ali Brothers--a statement in which they regretted their occasional lapse into excessive language and promised to refrain from writing or speaking in any man- ner likely to provoke violence. This " definite result of the interview " was claimed as a victory for the Govern- ment. Others claimed that it was a victory for Mr. Gandhi who explained that it was no apology or undertaking to the Government but a reassertion of the principle of non- violence to which the Ali Brothers had subscribed. It was a statement to the public irrespective of what the Govern- ment might or might not do with them. In answer to criticisms against his advice to the Brothers, Mr. Gandhi stoutly defended his action, and praised the Brothers;' attitude. Indeed Mr. Gandhi’s loyalty to his colleagues and particularly his affectionate and fraternal regard for the brothers is beautiful and touching to a degree. And when in September 1921 the Brothers were prosecuted by the Bombay Government, Mr. Gandhi with fifty others issued a public manifesto that " it is the inherent right of every one to express his opinion without restraint about the propriety of citizens offering their services to, or remaining in the employ of the Government whether in the civil or the military department." 54 M, K. GANDHI THE ntrmcs OF Dmsraucrron Another feature of Mr. Gandhi’s activity which for a a time threw a baleful light over the movement was the cult of destruction, as typefied in the burning of foreign cloth. Rabirdranath Tagore and C. F. Andrews and several others, horrified at the wanton waste, pointed out from time to time the evil effects of this burning business. Mr. Gandhi, mercilessly logical as ever, would heed no such counsel but continued literally to feed the flames, With that cultivated sense of distinction between the doer and the thing done, which is ever present in men such as he, there might be some efficacy in this form of purification and selfdenial, But many weie the critics who held that his bon/ire mania was the surest way to rouse all the evil passions of the multitude and as surely lead to hatred and civil strife. Tm: Bomnar Rxors Whatever the root cause of the breaking out of violence and hooliganism, the landing of the Prince of \`Vales in Bombay on the 17th November was made the occasion of a ghastly tragedy. Mr. Gandhi had since the announce- ment of the Royal visit appealed to his countrymen to refrain from participating in the functions got up in honour of the Prince. Non—Oo operators all over the country had organised what are known as ‘hartals,’ closing of shops and suspending all work, and boycot- ting the Prince. In Bombay such activities resulted in a great riot in which all parties suffered owing to the hooliganism of the mischievous elements in the mob who violated Mr. Gandhfsinjunctions to be non-violent and brought about a terrible riot, Mr. Gandhi was then in Bombay and after witnessing the scene of the tragedy, wrote some of the most stirring letters which, coupled with the exertions of men of all parties, restored peace in the city. As a penance for this ghastly tragedy he pledged himself to fast till complete peace was restored. Strangely enough, the situation was well in hand in a couple of days and on the fourth day in breaking the fast in the M. K. GANDHI 55 midst of a gathering of Co-operators, N on-Co-operators, Hindus, Musa-ulmans, Parsis and _Christians, Mr, Gandhi made a thrilling statement, I am breaking my fast upon the strength of your assurances. I have not been unmindful ofthe affection with which innumer- able friends have surrounded me during these four days. I shall ever remain grateful to them. Being drawn by them I am plunging into this stormy ocean out of the heaven of peace in which I have been during these few days. I assure you that, in spite of the tales of misery that have been poured into my ears, [have enjoyed peace because of a hungry stomach. I know that I cannot enjoy it after breaking the fast I am too human not to be touched by the sorrows of others. and when I find no remedy for alleviating them, my human nature so agitates me that I pine to embrace death like a long-lost dear friend. There- fore I warn all the friends here that if real peace is not estab- lished in Bombay and if disturbances break out again and if as a result they find me driven to a still severer ordeal, they must not be surprised or troubled. If they have any doubt about peace having been established, if each community has still bitterness of feeling and suspicion and if we are all not prepared to forget and forgive past wrongs, I would much rather that they did not press me to break the fast. Such a restraint I would regard as a test of true friendship. And then Mr, Gandhi drove the moral home to the gathering as also to the eager and anxious public all over India, Warned by the disasters at Bombay and the Moplah rebellion which was still going on in Malabar, it was ex- pected that Mr. Gandhi would reconsider his position and stop short of the extreme steps in Non-Co operation. But that was not to be, The Congress had by this time become an organ for registering his decrees. And the Committee met frequently to devise methods in pursuance of Non—Co- operation. Thundering resolutions, alternating with hopes and warnings, came in quick succession. Province after Province vied with one another for the exciting novelty of civil disobedience. Though the author of the Civil Disobedience move- ment in India, Mr, Gandhi was always alive to its dangers, He therefore insisted that his conditions should be fulfilled in toto before any '1`aluka could embark on a campaign of 56 M. K. GANDHI Civil Disobedience. And those conditions were very rigorous indeed. Tun Csnourm Hama:. Meanwhile the hartal organised by N on-Co operators in connection with the Prince’s visit was more or less successful in many places. lt was alleged that by intimi- dation and otherwise, the hartal in Calcutta on the day of the Prince's landing in Bombay was phenomenally com- plete. The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and the Anglo- Indian press took an alarmist view of the situation and expressed grave indignation against the passivity of the Government. With a view to suppress the activity of the Congress in this direction Government resuscitated part II of the Criminal Law Amendment Act which was then literally under a sentence of death, When volunteering was declared unlawful Congress leaders took up the challenge and called on the people to disobey the order and seek imprisonment in their thousands. Men like Messrs. C. R Das in Calcutta and Motilal Nehru in Alla- habad openly defied the order and canvassed volunteers in total disregard of legal consequences. They sought impri- sonment and called on their countrymen to follow them to prison. The situation was grave. It was then that Pundit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Sir P. C. Ray and others thought that the time had come when they should step into the breach and try to bring about a reconciliation between Government and Non Co·operators. With this view Pandit Madan Mohan and others interviewed leading Non·Co operators and those in authority Lord Ronald- shay, in his speech at the Legislative Council referred to the gravity of the situation and dehned the Erm attitude of Government. The Viceroy who had invited the Prince was natu- rally very indignant at the strange form of " reception " that awaited the innocent scion of the Royal House, Could anything be done at all towards a rapproachment3 THE Ds1>U1*A1*1oN T0 Tum VICEROY A Deputation headed by Pundit Madan Mohan Mala- viya waited on His Excellency the Viceroy at Calcutta M. K. GANDHI 57 ~on Dcember 21 and requested him to call a Round Table Conference of representatives of people of all shades of opinion with a view to bring about a final settle- ment, Lord Reading replied at some length and defined the attitude of the Government. He regretted that " it is impossible even to consider the convening of a conference if agitation in open and avowed defiance of law is mean- while to be continued." Mr. Gandhi’s refusal to call off the hartal in connection with H R.,H. the Prince of Wales' visit to Cilcutta. on December 24, apparently stiffened the attitude of the Government. Interviewed by the Associat- ed Press, Mr. Gandhi made the following statement re—_ garding the Vicerofs reply to the Deputation :-—— I repeat for the theusandth time that it is not hostile to any nation or any body of men but it is deliberately aimed at the system under which Government of India is being to·day con- ducted, and I promise that no threats and no enforcement of threats hy the Viceroy or any body of men will strangle that agitation or send to rest that awakening. Tm; AHMEDABAD CONGRESS Meanwhile the Annual Session of the Congress met at Ahmedabad, the headquarters of Mr. Gandhi. It was virtually a Gandhi Session. The President—elect, Mr. C, R. D is, was in prison and so were many other lead- ers besides. Hakim Ajrnal Khan was elected to take the chair and the proceedings were all in Hindi and Gujarati. Mr. Gandhi was invested with full dictatorial powers by the Congress and the central resolution of the session, which he moved, ran as follows: " This Congress, whilst requiring the ordinary machinery to remain intact and to be utilised in the ordinary manner when- ever feasible, hereby appoints, until further instructions, Mahatma Gandhi as the sole executive authority of the Con- gress and invests him with the full power to convene a special session of the Congress or of the All-India Congress Committee or the Working Committee and also with the power to appoint a successor in emergency. " This Congress hereby confers upon the said successor and all subsequent successors appointed in turn by their predeces- sors, all his aforesaid powers, provided that nothing in this resolution shall be deemed to authorise Mahatma Gandhi or any of the aforesaid successors to conclude any terms of peace 58 M. K. GANDHI with the Government of India or the British Government with- out the previous sanction of the All-India Congress Committee, to be finally ratified by the Congress specially convened for the purpose, and provided also that the present creed of the Cong- ress shall in no case be altered by Mahatma Gandhi or his successor except with the leave of the Congress first obtained." There were vet some in the Congress who went a step further than Mr. Gandhi himself. Moulana Hazrat Mohani stood out for complete independence and it is interesting to note how valiantly Mr. Gandhi fought against the motion of absolute severance from Britain. Mr. Gandhi opposed all his amendments and pinned the Congress down to his own dubious resolution. Soon after the session, some of the Provincial organisations were busy preparing for a no·tax campaign. In U. P, Guzerat, the Andhra and in the Punjab the movement threatened to assume a serious turn. Mr. Gandhi, him- self, while insisting that his conditions should be fulnlled before any taluka should embark on an offensive com- paign, threw the onus of responsibility on the Province itself———Provincia1 autonomy with a vengeance! But then there were hopes of peace in the air. Tun Bomnar Couruanucu A conference of representatives of various shades of political opinion convened by Pundit Malaviya, Mr. Jinnah and others, assembled at Bombay on the 14th January, 1922, with Sir C. Sankaran Nair, in the Chair. On the second day Sir Sankaran withdrew and Sir Nl. Visveswaraya took up his place, Over two—hundred leading men from different provinces attended. Mr, Gandhi was present throughout and though he refused to be officially connected-an attitude resented by many—— with the reso- lutions, he took part in the debates and helped the con- ference in framing the resolutions which were also ratified by the Congress Working Committee. Tan ULTIMATUM While negotiations were going on between the representatives of the Malaviya Conference and H. E. the Viceroy, Mr. Gandhi addressed an open letter to Lord M. K. GANDHI 59 Reading. The letter was in effect an ultimatum threaten- ing with the inauguration of offensive civil disobedience in Bardoli. The efforts of the Conference thus came to nothing as neither Mr. Gandhi nor the Viceroy would give up any one of their points. Compromise was im- possible. And the Government of India in a commzmique published on the (Sth February in reply to Mr. Gandhi’s letter, repudiated his assertions and urged that the issue before the country was no longer between this or that pro- gramme of political advance, but between lawlessness with all its consequences on the one hand and the maintenance of those principles which he at the root of all civilised governments. Mr. Gandhi in a further rejoinder issued on the very next day pointed out that the only choice before the people was mass civil disobedience with all its undoubted dangers and lawless repression of the lawful activities of the people. THE CHAUM ULIAURA Tnaoemt While Mr. Gandhi was about to inaugurate mass civil disobedience in Bardoli, there occurred a terrible tragedy at Chauri Chaura on the 14th February when an infuriated mob, including some volunteers also, attacked the thann, burnt down the building and beat to death not less than twenty-two policemen. Some constables and chaukedars were literally burnt to death and the whole place was under mobocracy. Mr. Gandhi took this occurrence as a third warning from God to suspend civil disobedience, and the Bardoli programme was accordingly given up, On the llth the Worilcing Committee met at Bardoli and resolved to suspend allotlensive action including even picketing and processions. The country was to confine itself to the constructive programme of Khaddar manu- facture. The Working Committee advised the stoppage of all activities designed to court imprisonment. T he suspension of mass civil disobedience in Bardoli, which was recommended by the VVorking Com- mittee at tho instance of Mr. Gandhi, was resented by some of his colleagues and followers. In reply to corre· 60 M. K. oaum-11 spondents who attacked him, he wrote as follows in Young India of February, 23 : I feel still more confident of the correctness of the decision of the Working Committee, but if it is found that the country repudiates my action I shall not mind it. I can but do my duty. A leader is useless when he acts against the promptings of his own conscience, surrounded as he must be by people holding all kinds of views. He will drift like an anchorless ship if he has not the inner voice to hold him firm and guide him. Above all, I can easily put up with the denial of the world, but any denial by me of my God is unthinkable, and if I did not give at this critical period of the struggle the advice that I have, I would be denying both God and Truth. The All-India Congress Committee met on the 25th at Delhi to consider the Bardoli decisions and though the latter were endorsed it was not done without some impor- tant modifications, to feed the growing demand for aggressive action on the part of the extreme N on·Co-opera- tors. From subsequent events it is fairly certain that the Delhi resolutions conhrmed the G0vernment’s resolve to prosecute Mr. Gandhi, a resolve which was held in abeyance after the Bardoli programme was made known. MR. GANDHFS ARREST For months past the 1·umour of Mr, Gandhi’s impend- ing arrest was in the air. Expecting the inevitable Mr. ·Gandbi had more than once written his iinal message. But in the first week of March the rumour became more wide- spread and intense. The stiffening of public opinion in England and Mr. Montagu’s threatening speech in defence of his Indian policy in the Commons, revealed the fact that the Secretary of State had already sanctioned Mr. Gandhi's prosecution. Chauri Chaura and the Delhi decisions were presumably the immediate cause of Government/s action on Mr. Gandhi. Bealising that his arrest would not long be deferred, Mr. Gandhi wrote a farewell message in Young India calling on his countrymen to continue the work of the Congress undeterred by fear, to prosecute the Khadder programme, to promote Hindu-Muslim Unity and to desist from violence at any cost. - Meanwhile he was arrested at the Satyagraha Ashram, Ahmedabad, on Friday the 10th March. On the 11th noon M. K. GANDHI 61 Messrs. Gandhi and Sankarlal Banker the publisher were placed before Mr, Brown, Assistant Magistrate, the Court being held in the Divisional Commissioner’s Olhce at Sahibab. The Superintendent of Police, Ahmedabad, the first witness, produced the Bombay Government’s authority to lodge a complaint for four articles published in Young India, dated the 15th June, 1921, entitled " Disaffection a Virtue", dated the 20th September, "Tampering with Loyalty" dated the 15th December, " The Puzzle and Its Solution" and " Shaking the Manes," dated the 23rd Febru- ary 1922. Two formal police witnesses were then produced. The accused declined to crossexamine the witnesses. Mr M. K. Gandhi, who described himself as farmer and weaver by profession, residing at Satyagraha Ashram, Sabarmati, said : I simply wish to state that when the proper time comes I shall plead guilty so far as disaffection towards the Government is concerned. It is quite true that I am the Editor of Young India and that the articles read in my presence were written by me and the proprietors and publishers had permitted me to control the whole policy of the paper. The case then having been committed to the Sessions, Mr. Gandhi was taken to the Sabarmati Jail where he was detained till the hearing which was to come 0H` on March 18. From his prison Mr. Gandhi wrotea number of inspiring letters to his friends and colleagues urging the continuance of the Congress work. Tum Gunn Tami. At last the trial came off on Saturday the 18th March before Mr. O. N . Broomfield, I. C. S., District and Sessions Judge, Ahmedabad. Of the trial itself it is needless to write at length. For it will be long before the present generation could forget the spell of it. It was historic in many ways. Men’s minds involuntarily turned to another great trial nineteen hundred years ago when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate. Mr. Gandhi’s statement (both the oral and the written statements) was in his best form, terse and lucid, courageous and uncompromising, with just that touch of greatness which elevates it to the level of a 62 M. K. GANDHI masterpiece. Never before was such a prisoner arraigned before a British Court of Justice. Never before were the laws of an all-powerful Government so deiiantly , yet with such humility, challenged. Men of all shades of political opinion, indeed all who had stood aloof from the movement and had condemned it in no uncertain terms, marvelled at the wisdom and compassion and heroism of the thin spare figure in a loin cloth thundering his anathemas sgairst the Satanic system, And yet none could be gentler nor more sweetly tempered than the prisoner at the bar with a smile and a nod of thanks and recognition for ev·~ry one, including his prosecutors. An eyewitness has given an account of the scene and we can not do better than quote his words :—- Mahatmaji stood up and spoke a few words complimenting the Advocate—General on his fairness and endorsing every state- ment he made regarding the charges. "I wish to endorse all the blame that the Advocate-General has thrown on my shoulders", said Mahatmaji in pathetic earnestness, “and I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for me to dissociate myself from the diabolical crimes of ChauriChaura or the mad outrages of Bombay." These words of confession seemed to penetrate every heart throbbing in that hall and make those present there feel miserable over the mad deeds of their thoughtless countrymen. The speech finished and Mahat- maji sat down to read his immortal statement. It is impossible to describe the atmosphere of the Court-house at the time he was, and a few minutes after he finished reading his state- ment. Every word of it was eagerly followed by the whole audience. The Judge and the Advocate·General, the military oflicers and the political leaders all alike strained their ears and were all attention to hear the memorable statement of the Great Man. Mahatmaji took nearly 15 minutes to read his statement. As he proceeded with his reading, one could see the atmo phere of the Hall changing every minute, This historic production was the master’s own. The ennobling confessions, the convincing logic, the masterly diction, the elevated thoughts and the in- spiring tone-—all produced instantaneous effect on the audience including the Judge and the prosecutor. For a minute every- body wondered who was on trial—whether Mahatma Gandhi before a British Judge or whether the British Government before God and Humanity. Mahatmaji finished his statement and for a_ few seconds there was complete silence in the Hall. Not a whisper was heard. One could hear a pin falling on the M. K. GANDHI 63 The most unhappy man present there was perhap the Judge himself. He restrained his emotion, cleared his voice, gathered his strength and delivered his oral judgment in care- ful and dignified words. No one could have performed this duty better. To combine the dignity of his position with the courtesy due to the mighty prisoner before him was no easy task. But he succeeded in doing it in a manner worthy, of the highest praise. Of course, the prisoner before Qhim belonged of a different cate- gory from "any person he ever tried " or is rlikely try in future. And this fact influenced his whole speech and demean- our. His words alniost fell when he came to the end and pronounced the sentence of simple imprisonment for six years. And who is this Mr. Gandhi, who at the age of 53, has been sentenced to six years' imprisonment Z He is the man whom the convicting judge himself described " as a great pmtriot and a great leader, as a man of high ideals and leading a noble and even saintly life," a man in whom, as Gokhale aptly described, ‘ Indian humanity has really reached its high water-mark’ and in whom a Christian Bishop witnesseth ‘the patient sufferer for the cause of righteousness and mercy} Such a man has been condemn- ed despite his public avowal of his huge mistake, his penitance for the same, his decision to suspend his aggres- sive programme, and his grave warnings that it would be " criminal " to start civil disobedience in the existing state of the country. Even some of the Anglo-Indian papers have condemned the action of the Government as a blunder ; and one of these has gone so far as to characte- rise it as ‘ a masterpiece of official ineptitude] And such a criticism cannot be described as altogether undeserved or unjust. Mr. Gandhi’s agitation originated with the Rowlatt Act. It received strength on account of the calculated brutalities and humiliations of the Martial Law regime, And the climax was reached when the solemn pledges of the British Prime Minister in regard to Turkey were conveniently forgotten at Severs. The Rowlatt Act has since been repealed, the Punjab wrongs have been admitted and an appeal has been made to "forget and forgive," , Mr. Gandhi’s bitter complaint that the British Ministers have not sincerely fought for the redemption of the solemn pledges to the Mussulmans has been proved to be well founded. And so the three great grievances for which Mr. Gandhi has been fighting—are grievances admitted by all to be just. In the opinion of Mr. Gandhi and most of his countrymen there would never have arisen these festering sores if we were in our country what others are in their own, if in short, we too had been given “the Self-determination," for which elsewhere so much blood and treasure have been sacrificed. The whole question therefore reduces itself to one dominant problem—the Problem of Swaraj. And the problem of Mr. Gandhi is no less than that. But for the lost faith of the people in the sincerity of the British, even this question would not have assumed such an acute form as we find it to-day.

You cannot solve this problem by clapping its best, brightest and noblest exponent even though his methods may be novel and his activities inconvenient and sometimes dangerous. Sir John Rees was not far wrong when he observed that "Gandhi in Jail might prove to be more dangerous than Gandhi out of it." There is a world of significance in the warning of Professor Gilbert Murray:—

"Persons in power should be very careful when they deal with a man who cares nothing for sensual pleasures, nothing for riches, nothing for comfort or praise or promises but simply determines to do what he believes to be right. He is a dangerous and uncomfortable enemy because his body, which yom can always conquer, gives you so little purchase upon his soul."

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).
  1. For a full account of the Ashram, see appendix.
  2. Third Class in Indian Railways