Page:A Brief Study of Mahatma Gandhi.djvu/6

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hatma Gandhi pleaded guilty and suggested to the British judge that there was no course open to him than either to pronounce the highest punishment for what was considered a crime under law or to vacate his chair, if his conscience disturbed him, and join Gandhi in his work. The following statement which Gandhi made during his trial tells in brief his main contentions:

“From a staunch loyalist and cooperator, I have become an uncompromising disaffectionist and non-cooperator … To preach disaffection towards the existing system of government has become almost a passion with me … If I were set free, I would still do the same. I would be failing in my duty if I did not do so … I had either to submit to a system which has done irreparable harm to my country, or to incur the mad fury of my people, bursting forth when they heard the truth from my lips … I do not ask for mercy. I am here to invite and to submit to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a crime, but which is the first duty of every citizen … Affection can not be manufactured or regulated by law. I hold it to be a virtue to be disaffected towards a government which, in its totality, has done more harm to India than any previous system … It is physical and brutal ill-treatment of humanity which has made many of my co-workers and myself impatient of life itself.”

In any struggle between nationalism and imperialism more than one policy of activity is responsible for the achievement of the goal. Also the causes for such diversity of policy are many. It is not, therefore, only the desire of the British imperialists and die-hards to perpetuate the vested interests of their country in the soil of India which has kept India’s aspirations for freedom down but there are other important causes as well. The chief among these is the lack of unity among the various communities which constitute the Indian nation. Although modern Indian culture and literature have been the joint product of Hindu-Moslem creative endeavor, dividing historical memories have persisted. Unfortunately, however, divide et impera policy pursued by the bureaucracy in India has augmented the disunity, and the Hindus and Moslems are ever being played off one against the other with disastrous success. Mahatma Gandhi, therefore, postulated the freedom of India upon the communal unity of the peoples of India. He holds that the various communities inhabiting India must learn to replace their communal self consciousness by the larger national consciousness. According to Mahatma Gandhi, although the union of India with Britain may have been productive of some very great boons on either side, it is an unnatural union. It rests fundamentally on the basis of inequality. There is little real partnership in the actual running of the great Indo-British affairs. Gandhi therefore advocates a Swarajya (self rule) for India, if possible without national indignity to his country, within the Empire; if not, complete independence.

Religion.—Mahatma Gandhi calls himself a Hindu, although many religions have claimed him. Staley Jones, an American evangelist in India, once asked Mahatma Gandhi whether it would not be a desirable thing to see Christianity naturalized in India, and as a part of national life contribute its power to the uplift of India. Replying to this query,

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