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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

Volume 8 [1947-1948]

By: D. G. Tendulkar
First Edition : January 1954

Printed & Published by:
The Publications Division
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Government of India, Patiala House
New Delhi 110 001

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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

01. India Divided ( 1947 )
IN THE midst of heavy work, on June 2, 1947, Gandhi wrote the first of the series
of editorials in Harijan on "things of eternal value”:
"Readers must have noticed that last week I started writing for the Harijan.
How long I shall be able to continue it I do not know. God's will be done in this,
as in other things.
"What I think of it, the circumstances under which I stopped writing for the
Harijan have not altered. Pyarelalji is far away from me and in my opinion is
doing very important work in Noakhali. He is taking part in what I have called
mahayagna. Most of the other helpers are also unable to help under the stress
of circumstances or other causes. To resume writing for the Harijan under
these adverse conditions would be ordinarily considered madness. But what
appears unpractical from the ordinary standpoint is feasible under divine
guidance. I believe I dance to the divine tune. If this is delusion, I treasure it.
"Who is this Divinity? I would love to discuss the question; only not today.
"The question that is foremost with us all, I discuss every evening after the
prayer. This writing will come before the readers after seven days. This interval
would be considered too long in connection with the pressing problem.
Therefore, in these columns for the moment I must confine myself to things of
eternal value. One such is brahmacharya. The world seems to be running after
things of transitory value. It has no time for the other. And yet, when one
thinks a little deeper, it becomes clear that it is the things eternal that count
in the end.
"What is brahmacharya? It is the way of life which leads us to Brahma (God). It
includes full control over the process of reproduction. The control must be in
thought, word and deed. If the thought is not under control, the other two have
no value. There is a saying in Hindustani: 'He whose heart is pure has all the
purifying waters of the Ganges in his house.' For one whose thought is under
control, the other is mere child's play. The brahmachari of my conception will
be healthy and will easily live long. He will not even suffer from so much as a

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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

headache. Mental and physical work will not cause fatigue. He is ever bright,
never slothful. The outward neatness will be an exact reflection of the inner.
He will exhibit all the attributes of the steadfast one described in the Gita. It
need cause no worry if not one person is met with answering the description.
"Is it strange that one who is able completely to conserve and sublimate the
vital fluid which has the potentiality of creating the human beings, should
exhibit all the attributes described above? Who can measure the creative
strength of such sublimation, oYie drop of which has the potentiality of bringing
into being a human life? Patanjali has described five disciplines. It is not
possible to isolate any one of these and practise it. It may be posited in the
case of Truth, because it really includes the other four. And for this age the
five have been expanded into eleven. Vinoba Bhave has put them in the form of
a Marathi verse : they are non-violence, truth, non-stealing, brahmacharya,
non-possession, bread labour, control of the palate, fearlessness, equal regard
for all religions, swadeshi and removal of untouchability.
"All these can be derived from Truth. But life is complex. It is not possible to
enunciate one grand principle and leave the rest to follow of itself. Even when
we know a proposition, its corollaries have to be worked out.
"It is well to bear in mind that all the disciplines are of equal importance. If one
is broken, all are. There seems to be a popular belief amongst us that breach of
truth or non-violence is pardonable. Non-stealing and non-possession are rarely
mentioned. We hardly recognize the necessity of observing them. But a fancied
breach of brahmacharya excites wrath and worse. There must be something
seriously wrong with a society in which the values are exaggerated and
underestimated. Moreover, to use the word brahmacharya in a narrow sense is
to detract from its value. Such .detraction increases the difficulty of proper
observance. When brahmacharya is isolated, even the elementary observance
becomes difficult, if not impossible. Therefore, it is essential that all the
disciplines should be taken as one. This enables one to realize the full meaning
and significance of brahmacharya."

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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

With the return of the Viceroy to Delhi on June i, the atmosphere became tense
with expectation. The vivisection proposals embodied in the H. M. G.'s
announcement were discussed with the Congress and League leaders. But it was
decided that nothing should go out until the announcement was made on June
3. Gandhi requested the prayer audience to check their curiosity. To them he
could not tell what had happened or what was happening. He and the audience
were men in the street. They should not concern themselves with, what the
Viceroy had brought; they should concern themselves with what they were to
do under given circumstances.
Gandhi called upon the doctors to turn their attention to the villages of India
and study indigenous drugs and treatments. Above all, he wanted them to
teach the people the right way of living.
"What shall I say of the scientists?" he continued. "Are they giving their
attention to growing more food, not again through the aid of artificial manures,
but through the real scientific treatment of the soil and through a wise use of
organic manure? In Noakhali I saw the people even making wise use of the
terribly destructive water hyacinth, which grows wild and blocks the very
necessary water-ways. This they will remove, when they live for the country
rather than for themselves."
He asked the people to turn the searchlight inwards. They were perfectly
entitled to'praise or to blame the Congress or Muslim League according to the
dictates of their intelligence and conscience. That was the right of the people.
They must from then onwards think in terms of panchayat raj. He had called
Jawaharlal the uncrowned king of India, but the real rulers were the toiling
"Jawaharlal cannot be replaced today whilst the charge is being taken from the
Englishmen. Jawaharlal, a Harrow boy, a Cambridge graduate and a barrister, is
wanted to carry on the negotiations with Englishmen. But a time is fast coming,
when India will have to elect its first President of the Republic that is coming. I
would gladly have presented the late Chakrayya as such, had he lived. I would
rejoice to think that we had a mehtar girl of stout heart, incorruptible and of

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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

crystal-like purity to be our first president. It is no vain dream. And there are
such Harijan girls, if we would but set our hearts on having rustic presidents.
Did I not choose, he exclaimed, little Gulnar, the daughter of the late Maulana
Mahomed Ali, as my successor? The stupid girl married Shwaib Qureshi, once a
fakir, and introduced to me as the first satyagrahi when the Ali brothers were
prisoners. Stupid Gulnar is now a proud mother of bright children, but she has
forfeited the right to be my successor. Our presidents of the future would not
be required to know English. They would have as their counsellors wise
patriots, knowing the necessary foreign languages and the art of true
statesmanship. Such dreams can only be realized if we cease sanguinary
fratricide and we turn our attention towards our villages."
Referring to the| black market, he stated that a business man had said to him
that it was perhaps only a few traders who indulged in it, whereas the real
black market was to be seen in the corruption that existed in the Government
offices. Gandhi observed that the Government itself was a trading concern.
Nevertheless, it made him indeed sad to think that the members of the services
were implicated. It made no difference whether they were Europeans or
Indians, Hindus or Muslims. It would be a sad outlook for the future of the
country if the services and the people encouraged bribery and corruption. What
could Rajaji or Rajendra Babu do, if they were not honestly helped ? No elected
representative of the people could rule by the sword. That was not possible in
any democratic state. He, therefore, pleaded earnestly with the members of
the services, whether British or Indian, to be true to the salt of India and
eschew all dishonesty, wherever it existed. He appealed also to the public to
realize the great responsibility that freedom was now throwing on them and to
rise to their full stature by clinging to truth and non-violence. Such action
would redound not only to their own credit, but would be for the good of all
and also help the British to withdraw from India, leaving India enjoying an
orderly government. In conclusion he asked the public not to believe that the
British were dishonest unless they proved themselves unworthy of their trust.
He himself belirved that the Viceroy was honest. And only by being strictly

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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

honest themselves, however, would they be able to steer their ship of state
safely to harbour.
On the evening of June 3rd, Lord Mountbatten followed by Nehru, Jinnah and
Baldev Singh spoke to the people on the radio. The reactions to H. M. G.'s
announcement were mixed. Most of the Hindus were sad. Nehru's broadcast was
most touching. They all disliked the vivisection of India, he said, but they could
not let India bleed continuously. A surgical operation was to be preferred under
the circumstances.
The H.M.G.'s proposals envisaged the creation of Pakistan, if demanded by the
Muslim representatives in the Muslim majority provinces and it provided for the
partition of provinces, notably Bengal and the Punjab, if demanded by a
majority of either party in the Legislative Assemblies of these provinces. It
proposed that a referendum should be held in the district of Sylhet to decide
whether it should remain part of Assam or join up with East Bengal. It proposed
that the transference of power should be antedated, and that pending the
completion of the new constitution or constitutions the basis should be
dominion status, without prejudice to the future free choice of the Indian
people. "Nor is there anything in this plan," the text mentioned, "to preclude
negotiations between communities for a united India."
Speaking on the plan embodied in H. M. G.'s announcement Gandhi said on June
4 that he had already told them over and over again that to yield even an inch
to force was wholly wrong. The Working Committee held that they had nojt
yielded to the force of arms but they had to yield to the force of
circumstances. The vast majority of Congressmen did not want unwilling
partners. Their motto was non-violence and, therefore, no coercion. Hence,
after careful weighing of the pros and cons of the vital issues at stake, they had
reluctantly agreed to the secession from the Indian Union that was being
framed of those parts which had boycotted the Constituent Assembly. He then
expressed sorrow at what he considered was a mistaken policy of the Muslim
League. They feared Hindu domination, they said, and desired to rule in what
they were mistaken in calling their own homelands. As a matter of fact,
however, India was the homeland of all who were born and bred in India. Would

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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

Muslims live in isolation? Was not the Punjab as much the homeland of the
Hindus, the Sikhs, the Christians, the Jews and the Parsis, who were of the
He could not blame Lord Mountbatten for what had happened. It was the act of
the Congress and the Muslim League. The Viceroy had openly declared that he
wanted a united India but he was powerless in face of the Congress acceptance,
however reluctantly, of the Muslim position.
There were the brave Sikhs whose leaders had been to see him. He had
explained to them what he meant by one Sikh being equal to one lakh and onefourth of persons. It was the courage of one Sikh to stand firm, in spite of the
opposition«of one lakh and one-fourth of men. And this could only mean
bravery of the highest and of the purest kind. If they had that faith and courage
born of non-violence, they would be worthy of the proud name Khalsa. That
was the lesson that he had learnt from the Granth Saheb and the Khalsa
He had done his best to get the people to stand by the Cabinet Mission
statement of the May 16th, but he had failed. But what was his duty and theirs
in the face of the accepted fact? He was a servant of the Congress because he
was a servant of the country, and he could never be disloyal to them.
Jawaharlal and the Viceroy had said that nothing had been imposed on anyone.
The agreement that was embodied in the announcement being a voluntary act
of the parties could be varied by thfem at any stage by mutual consent. He
pleaded with the Muslim League, now that they had their wish fulfilled, to
relieve the Viceroy of the heavy task of being middleman between the parties.
He hoped that it was a final agreement between the parties. Therefore, all
violence should now stop. And Qaid-e- Azam Jinnah should invite the Congress
leaders for a discussion as to the best way of dealing with the further stages.
Thus, for instance, there was no reason why they should not by mutual
agreement define the boundaries of partitioned Punjab and Bengal.
Gandhi's prayer speeches had revived the hopes that the evil might be averted.
Some people asked him whether he would undertake a fast unto death in view

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MAHATMA – Volume Eight [1947-1948]

of the decision of the Congress Working Committee accepting division of India.
Had not he called Pakistan a sin in which he could never participate? Replying
to this Gandhi said on June 5 that he could not fast at the dictation of anyone.
Such fasts could not be lightly undertaken. They could conceivably be wholly
undesirable. The fasts could not be undertaken out of anger. Anger was a short
madness. He must, therefore, undertake the fast only when the still small voice
within him called for it. He was a servant of the country and, therefore, of the
Congress. Was he to fast because the Congress differed from his views? He had
to be patient. There were occasions enough for being impatient. The Congress
seemed to stand for the projects of industrialism in which he saw no deliverance for the masses from their grinding poverty. He did not believe in millmade civilization as he did not in mill-made cloth. He did not believe in an
army for the removal of the menace to the real freedom of the country. If he
was to impatiently fast, in the symptoms he had described and others he could
add, then there were reasons enough to justify a fast unto death. He felt that
he must be steadfast in the midst of the fire raging round him and prove his
faith in the ultimate triumph of truth. He even referred to the document he
had signed together with Jinnah and to which the Viceroy was really a party. He
must now watch what his two partners did before he acted. He could only say
that he would gladly walk or drive with them to the affected parts. The people
might well ask what they were doing while Gurgaon was burning ? He requested
the prayer audience and the authors of the rebuking messages to bear with the
Congress and Muslim League and with him, and watch, even critically, and see
how things were moving. He hoped that they would not fail the people. The
Government belonged to the latter as he did. There was ample time for the
people to judge them and leave them, if any of them were found wanting.
There was a large section of the Hindus who heaved a sigh of relief that at last
they were rid of the Muslims and would be able to work out and to develop the
country without any bickerings. But then there were others who saw clearly
that the partition was no solution to the problem. Nearly four crores of the
Muslims would still remain in the Union of India and about two crores of the
Hindus will remain in the so-called Pakistan areas. They felt helpless and angry

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