Page:A Brief Study of Mahatma Gandhi.djvu/5

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leaders in various walks of life began to take note of him, and he came to be regarded as one of the patriots of the first rank.

During the Great War Gandhi supported the British cause and rendered loyal services to Britain in recognition for which he was awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind gold medal. Up to this period, although Gandhi’s activities were consistently carried on, on principles of sacrifice, helpfulness and love of humanity, his name was little known outside of his immediate sphere of work. But in 1919 circumstances so conspired that this unpretentious, non-violent, humble man was, as it were, forced to the front in the Indian political crisis.

The bureaucracy which was in power during this crisis, instead of rewarding India for her loyal and munificent support which was unflinchingly given to England during the perilous years of the great war, actually went back on its promises and entered upon the rough-shod policy of force and suppression. Revolts broke out everywhere and under the black regime of martial law the Amritsar massacre took place to crown the reign of terror. Mahatma Gandhi took the front and for the first time in history imposed upon the Indian masses the sublime law of “non-violent non-cooperation” as a measure to win political rights for a great people from the hands of a great imperial power.

It will be of interest here to state in brief the views and principles which Mahatma Gandhi holds on the various important problems of India.

Political. — Mahatma Gandhi, although by training a lawyer, is not, in the opinion of many who have known him intimately and have worked shoulder to shoulder with him, a politician of the first rank. In fact, in view of the nature of his popularity, both in India and abroad and especially in view of the methods he has used in facing the political situations which taxed what political capacities he possessed, one may safely say that he is predominantly a saint (this is what the term Mahatma, by the way, means) and accidentally a political leader.

After the passing of the Rowlatt Act and the later developments of disaffection between the British bureaucracy and the Indian people, as a first gesture of conscientious disapproval Mr. Gandhi returned with thanks the various honors and gold medals which were bestowed on him by the British government for his loyal and humanitarian services. The following abstract from the letter which accompanied the medals is expressive of the sentiment of all Indian patriots:

“Your Excellency’s light-hearted treatment of the official crime, your exoneration of Sir Michael O’Dwyer, Mr. Montague’s dispatch 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 misgivings regarding the future of the Empire, have estranged me completely from the present government and have disabled me from tendering, as I have hitherto whole-heartedly tendered, my loyal cooperation.”

Gandhi was arrested on March 10, 1922, and was tried on March 18. He was convicted and given a sentence of six years. The trial scene was most impressive, although it did not last very long, for Ma-