Events were so shaping themselves in Johannesburg as to make this self-purfication on my part a preliminary as it were to Satyagraha. I can now see that all the principal events of my life, culminating in the vow of brahmacharya, were secretly preparing me for it. The principle called Satyagraha came into being before that name was invented. Indeed when it was born, I myself could not say what it was. In Gujarati also we used the English phrase ‘passive resistance’ to describe it. When in a meeting of Europeans I found that the term ‘passive resistance’ was too narrowly construed, that it was supposed to be a weapon of the weak, that it could be characterized by hatred, and that it could finally manifest itself as violence, I had to demur to all these statements and explain the real nature of the Indian movement. It was clear that a new word must be coined by the Indians to designate their struggle.
But I could not for the life of me find out a new name, and therefore offered a nominal prize through Indian Opinion to the reader who made the best suggestion on the subject. As a result Maganlal Gandhi coined the word Sadagraha (Sat: truth, Agraha: firmness) and won the prize. But in order to make it clearer I changed the word to Satyagraha which has since become current in Gujarati as a designation for the struggle.
The history of this struggle is for all practical purposes a history of the remainder of my life in South Africa and especially of my experiments with truth in that sub-continent. I wrote the major portion of this history in Yeravda jail and finished it after I was released. It was published in Navajivan and subsequently issued in book form. Sjt. Valji Govindji Desai has been translating it into English for Current Thought, but I am now arranging to have the English translation1 published in book form at an early date, so that those who will may be able to familiarize themselves with my most important experiments in South Africa. I would recommend a perusal of my history of Satyagraha in South Africa to such readers as have not seen it already. I will not repeat what I have put down there, but in the next few chapters will deal only with a few personal incidents of my life in South Africa which have not been covered by that history. And when I have done with these, I will at once proceed to give the reader some idea of my experiments in India. Therefore, anyone who wishes to consider these experiments in their strict chronological order will now do well to keep the history of Satyagraha in South Africa before him.
My first experience of jail life was in 1908. I saw that some of the regulations that the prisoners had to observe were such as should voluntarily be observed by a brahmachari, that is, one desiring to practise self-restraint. Such, for instance, was the regulation requiring the last meal to be finished before sunset. Neither the Indian nor the African prisoners were allowed tea or coffee. They could add salt to the cooked food if they wished, but they might not have anything for the mere satisfaction of the palate. When I asked the jail medical officer to give us curry powder, and to let us add salt to the food whilst it was cooking, he said: ‘You are not here for satisfying your palate. From the point of view of health, curry powder is not necessary, and it makes no difference whether you add salt during or after cooking.’
Ultimately these restrictions were modified, though not without much difficulty, but both were wholesome rules of self-restraint. Inhibitions imposed from without rarely succeed, but when they are self-imposed, they have a decidedly salutary effect. So, immediately after release from jail, I imposed on myself the two rules. As far as was then possible, I stopped taking tea, and finished my last meal before sunset. Both these now require no effort in the observance.
There came, however an occasion which compelled me to give up salt altogether, and this restriction I continued for an unbroken period of ten years. I had read in some books on vegetarianism that salt was not a necessary article of diet for man, that on the contrary saltless diet was better for the health. I had deduced that a brahmacharibenefited by a saltless diet. I had read and realized that the weak-bodied should avoid pulses. I was very fond of them.
Now it happened that Kasturbai, who had a brief respite after her operation, had again begun getting haemorrhage, and the malady seemed to be obstinate. Hydropathic treatment by itself did not answer. She had not much faith in my remedies, though she did not resist them. She certainly did not ask for outside help. So when all my remedies had failed, I entreated her to give up salt and pulses. She would not agree, however much I pleaded with her, supporting myself with authorities. At last she challenged me, saying that even I could not give up these articles if I was advised to do so. I was pained and equally delighted – delighted in that I got an opportunity to shower my love on her. I said to her: ‘You are mistaken. If I was ailing and the doctor advised me to give up these or any other articles, I should unhesitatingly do so. But there! Without any medical advice, I give up salt and pulses for one year, whether you do so or not.’
She was rudely shocked and exclaimed in deep sorrow: ‘Pray forgive me. Knowing you, I should not have provoked you. I promise to abstain from these things, but for heaven’s sake take back your vow. This is too hard on me.’
‘It is very good for you to forego these articles. I have not the slightest doubt that you will be all the better without them. As for me, I cannot retract a vow seriously taken. And it is sure to benefit me, for all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome for men. You will therefore leave me alone. It will be a test for me, and a moral support to you in carrying out your resolve.’
So she gave me up. ‘You are too obstinate. You will listen to none,’ she said, and sought relief in tears.
I would like to count this incident as an instance of Satyagraha, and it is one of the sweetest recollections of my life.
After this Kasturbai began to pick up quickly – whether as a result of the saltless and pulseless diet or of the other consequent changes in her food; whether as a result of my strict vigilance in exacting observance of the other rules of life, or as an effect of the mental exhilaration produced by the incident, and if so to what extent, I cannot say. But she rallied quickly, haemorrhage completely stopped, and I added somewhat to my reputation as a quack.
As for me, I was all the better for the new denials. I never craved for the things I had left, the year sped away, and I found the senses to be more subdued than ever. The experiment stimulated the inclination for self-restraint, and I continues the abstention from the articles until long after I returned to India. Only once I happened to take both the articles whilst I was in London in 1914. But of that occasion, and as to how I resumed both, I shall speak in a later chapter.
I have tried the experiment of a saltles and pulseless diet on many of my co-workers, and with good results in South Africa. Medically there may be two opinions as to the value of this diet, but morally I have no doubt that all self-denial is good for the soul. The diet of a man of self-restraint must be different from that of a man of pleasure, just as their ways of life must be different. Aspirants after brahmacharya often defeat their own end by adopting courses suited to a life of pleasure.
548. I am essentially a non-violent man, and I believe in war bereft of every trace of violence.- H, 14-5-38, 115.
549. I have no set theory to go by. I have not worked out the science of satyagraha in its entirety. I am still groping. You can join me in my quest if it appeals to you and you feel the call.- H, 27-5-39, 136.
A Call for Adventure
550. If we are to make progress, we must not repeat history but make new history. We must add to the inheritance left by our ancestors. If we may make new discoveries and inventions in the phenomenal world, must we declare our bankruptcy in the spiritual domain? Is it impossible to multiply the exception so as to make them the rule? Must man always be brute first and man after, if at all?- YI, 6-5-26, I64.
Satyagraha: Its Theory and Practice
551. The term Passive Resistance does not fit the activity of the Indian community during the past eight years. Its equivalent in the vernacular rendered into English means Truth-Force. I think Tolstoy called it also soul-Force or Love-Force, and so it is. Carried out to its utmost limit, this force is independent of pecuniary or other material assistance: certainly, even in its elementary form, of physical force or violence. Indeed, violence is the negation of this great spiritual force which can only be cultivated or wielded by those who will entirely eschew violence. It is a force that may be used by individuals as well as by communities. It may be used as well in political as in domestic affairs. Its universal applicability is a demonstration of its permanence and invincibility. It can be used alike by men, women and children. It is totally untrue to say that it is a force to be used only by the weak so long as they are not capable of meeting violence by violence. This superstition arises from the incompleteness of the English expression. It is impossible for those who consider themselves to be weal to apply this force. Only those who realize that is something in man which is superior to the brute nature in him, and that the latter always yields to it, can effectively be passive. This force is to violence and, therefore, to all tyranny, all injustice, what light is to darkness. In politics, its use is based upon the immutable maxim that government of the people is possible only so long as they consent either consciously or unconsciously to be governed. We did not want to be governed by Asiatic Act of 1907 of the Transvaal and it had to go before this mighty force. Two courses were open to us-to use violence when we were called upon to submit to the Act, or to suffer the penalties prescribed under the Act, and thus to draw out and exhibit the force of the soul within us for a period long enough to appeal to the sympathetic chord in the governors or the law-makers. We have taken long to achieve what we set about striving for. That was because out passive resistance was not of the most complete type. All passive resisters do not understand the full value of the force, nor have we men who always from conviction refrain from violence. The use of this force requires the adoption of poverty, in the sense that we must be indifferent whether we have the wherewithal to feed or clothe ourselves. During the past struggle, all passive resisters, if any at all, were not prepared to go that length. Some again were only passive resisters so-called. They came without any conviction, often with mixed motives, less often with impure motives. Some even, whilst engaged in the struggle, would gladly have resorted to violence but for most vigilant supervision. Thus it was that the struggle became prolonged; for the exercise of the purest soul-force, in its perfect form, brings about instantaneous relief. For this exercise, prolonged training of the individual soul is an absolute necessity so that a perfect passive resister has to be almost if not entirely, a perfect man. We cannot all suddenly become such men, but if my proposition is correct-as I know it to be correct-the greater the spirit of passive resistance in us, the better men we will become. Its use, therefore, is, I think, indisputable, and it is a force which, if it became universal, would revolutionize social ideals and do away with despotism’s and the ever-growing militarism under which the nations of the West are groaning and are being almost crushed to death-that militarism which promises to overwhelm even the nations of the East. If the past struggle has produced even a few Indians who would dedicate themselves to the task of becoming passive resisters as nearly perfect as possible, they would not only have served them-selves in the truest sense of the term, they would also have served humanity at large. Thus viewed, passive resistance is the noblest and the best education. It should come, not after the ordinary education in letters of children, but it should precede it. It will not be denied that a child, before it begins to write it’s alphabet and to gain worldly knowledge, should know what the soul is, what truth is, what love is, what powers are latent in the soul. It should be an essential of real education that a child should learn that, in the struggle of life, it can easily conquer hate by love, untruth by truth, violence by self-suffering. It was because I felt the force of this truth that, during the latter part of the struggle, I endeavored as much as I could to train the children at Tolstoy Farm and then at Phoenix along these lines, and one of the reasons for my departure to India is still further to realize as I already do in part, my own imperfection as a passive resister and then to try to perfect myself; for I believe that it is in India that the nearest approach to perfection is most possible. – Nat,189.
552. Let no one understand that a nonviolent army is open only to those who strictly enforce in their lives al the implications of nonviolence. It is open to all those who accept the implications and make an ever-increasing endeavor to observe them. There never will be an army of perfectly nonviolent people. It will be formed of those who will honestly endeavor to observe nonviolence. –H, 21-7-40, 214.
Satyagraha, Distinguished from passive Resistance
(A) ITS ACTIVE CHARACTER
553. Non-co-operation is not a passive state, it is an intensely active state, more active than physical resistance or violence. Passive resistance is a misnomer. –YI, 25-8-20, Tagore, 322.
(B) SATYAGRAHIS, SUBJECT TO A HIGHER LAW
554. A satyagrahi sometimes appears momentarily to disobey laws and the constituted authority only to prove in the end his regard for both. –Nat, 302.
555. Disobedience to the law of the State becomes a peremptory duty when it comes in conflict with the law of God. – ER, 45.
(C)NO ROOM FOR VIOLENCE
556. While in passive resistance there is scope for the use of arms when a suitable occasion arrives, in satyagraha physical force is forbidden even in the most favourable circumstances.
In passive resistance there is always present idea of harassing the other party and there is a simultaneous readiness to undergo any hardships entailed upon us by such activity; while is satyagraha there is not the remotest idea of injuring the opponent. Satyagraha postulates the conquest of the adversary by suffering in one’s own person. –SA, 179.
557. Non-violence is never a method of coercion, it is one of conversion. We have failed to convert the Princes, we have failed to convert the English administrators. It is no use saying that it is impossible to persuade persons willingly to part with their power. I have claimed that satyagraha is a new experiment. It will be time to pronounce it a failure when Congressmen have given it a genuine trial. Even a policy, if it is honestly pursued, has to be pursued with all one’s heart. We have not done so. Hence Congressmen have to convert themselves before the Paramount Power and the Princes can be expected to act justly. – H, 8-7-39, 193.
(D) LOVE, NOT HATRED, THE MOTIVE
558. While there is no scope for love in passive resistance, hatred has no place in satyagraha but is a positive breach of its ruling principle. –SA, 178.
559. Passive resistance is a negative thing, and has nothing to do with the active principle of love. Satyagraha proceeds on the active principle of love which says, ‘Love those that despitefully use you. It is easy for you to love your friends. But I say unto you, love your enemies. ‘- H, 14-5-38, 111.
560. Passive resistance, unlike nonviolence, had no power to change men’s hearts. – H, 20-7-47, 243.
561. It is never the intention of a satyagrahi to embarrass the wrongdoer. The appeal is never to his fear; it is, must be, always to his heart. The satyagrahis object is to convert, not to coerce, the wrongdoer, He should avoid artificiality in all his doings. He acts naturally and from inward conviction. – H, 25-3-39, 64.
(E) RESPECTING THE ADVERSARY
562. Whilst we may attack measures and systems. We may not, must not, attack men. Imperfect ourselves, we must be tender towards others and be slow to impute motives. –YI, 25-5-21, 164.
563. Immediately we begin to think of things as our opponents think of them we shall be able to do them full justice. I know that this requires a detached state of mind, and it is a state very difficult to reach. Nevertheless for a satyagrahi it is absolutely essential. Three-fourths of the miseries and misunderstandings of the would will disappear, if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint. We will then agree with our adversaries quickly or think of them charitably. In our case there is no question of our agreeing with them quickly as our ideals are radically different. But we may be charitable to them and believe that they actually mean what they say. They do not want to open the roads to the unapproachable.* Now whether it is their self-interest or ignorance that tells them to say so, we really believe that it is wrong of them to say so. Our business therefore is toshow them that they are in the wrong and we should do so by our suffering. I have found that mere appeal to reason does not answer where prejudices are age long and based on supposed religious authority. Reason has to be strengthened by suffering and suffering opens the eyes of understanding. There fore there must be no trace of compulsion in our acts. We must not be impatient, and we must have an undying faith in the means we are adopting. —YI, 19-3-25, 95.
564. Our motto must ever be conversion by gently persuasion and a constant appeal to the head and the heart. We must therefore be ever courteous and patient with those who do not see eye to eye with us. We must resolutely refuse to consider our opponents as enemies of the country. – YI ,29-9-21, 306.
565. The end of non-violent ‘war’ is always an agreement, never dictation, much less humiliation of the opponent. – H, 23-3-40, 53.
566. A satyagrahi bids goodbye to fear. He is therefore never afraid to trusting the opponent. Even if the opponent plays him false twenty times, the satyagrahi is ready to trust him t6he twenty-first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of his creed. –SA, 246.
(F) NON-CO-OPERATING, NOT WITH A PART, BUT WITH THE WHOLE SYSTEM
567. I was faced with the very question as the author of the Non-co-operation Movement. I said to myself, there is no State run by Nero or Mussolini which has not good points about it, but we have to reject the whole, once we decide to non-co-operate with the system. ‘There are in our country grand public roads, and palatial educational institutions,’ said I to myself, ‘but they are part of a system which crushes the nation. I should not have anything to do with them. They are like the fabled snake with a brilliant jewel on its head, but which has fangs full of poison.’ So I came to the conclusion that the British rule in India had crushed the spirit of the nation and stunted its growth, and so I decided to deny myself all the privileges, services, courts, titles. The policy would vary with different countries but sacrifice and self-denial are the essential points. What Einstein has said would occur only once a year and only with a very few people.* But I suggest as your first duty to non-co-operate with the State.
Non-co-operation in military services and service in non-military matters are not compatible. ‘Definitely’ military service is an ill-chosen word. You are all the while giving military service by deputy because you are supporting a State which is based on military service. You will have to extend the scope of non-co-operation (from mere refusal to serve in war) to (the non-payment of) your taxes. –YI, 312-12-31, 426, 427.
568. Why should not British pacifists stand aside and remodel their life in its entirety? They might be unable to bring about peace outright, but they would lay a solid foundation for it and give the surest test of their faith. When, in the face of an upheaval such as we are witnessing, there are only a few individuals of immovable faith, they have to live up to their faith even though they may produce no visible effect on the course of events. They should believe that their action will produce tangible results in due course. Their staunchness is bound to attract scepties. I would also suggest that individuals like Dr. Maude Royden are not mere camp followers. They are leaders. Therefore, they have to live their lives in strict accord with the Sermon on the Mount and they will find immediately that there is much to give up and much remodel. The greatest thing that they have to deny them-selves is the fruit of imperialism. –H, 15-3-42, 73.
Non-co-operation, Progressive in Character
569. The power of suggestion is such, that a man aft last becomes what he believes himself to be. If we are satyagraha his and offer satyagraha believing ourselves to be strong, two clear consequences result from it. Fostering the idea of strength, we grow stronger and stronger every day. With the increase in our strength our satyagraha to becomes more effective and we would never be casting about for an opportunity to give it up. –SA, 178.
570. The clearest possible definition of the goal and its Appreciation would fail to take us there, if we do not know and utilize the means of achieving it. I have, therefore, concerned myself principally with the conservation of the means and their progressive use. – ABP, 17-9-33.
571. My experience has taught me that a law of progression applies to every righteous struggle. But in he case of satyagraha the law amounts to an axiom. As a satyagraha struggle progresses onward, many another element helps to swell its current and there is a constant growth in the results to which it leads. This is really inevitable, and is bound up with the first principles of satyagraha. For in satyagraha the minimum is also the maximum, and as it is the irreducible minimum, there is no question of retreat, and the only movement possible is an advance. In other struggles, even when they are righteous, the demand is first pitched a little higher so as to admit of future reduction, and hence the law of progression does not apply to all of them without exception. – SA, 319.
Basic Assumptions for Successful Satyagraha
572. 1. There must be common honesty among satyagrahis.
2. They must render heart discipline to their commander. There should be no mental reservation.
3. They must be prepared to lose all, not merely their personal liberty, not merely their possessions, land, cash, etc. but also the liberty and possessions of their families, and they must be ready cheerfully to face bullets, bayonets, or even slow death by torture.
4. They must not be violent in thought, word or deed towards the ‘enemy’ or among themselves. – H, 22-10-38, 298.
573. Those only can take up civil disobedience, who believe in willing obedience even to irksome laws imposed by the State so long as they do not hurt their conscience or religion, and are prepared equally willingly to suffer the penalty of civil disobedience. Disobedience to be civil has to be absolutely non-violent, the underlying principle being the winning over of the opponent by suffering, i.e. love. –YI, 3-11-21, 346.
Cultivation of the Democratic spirit
Essential for the Satyagrahi
574. A born democrat is a born disciplinarian. Democracy comes naturally to him who is habituated normally to yield willing obedience to all laws, human or divine. I claim to be a democrat both by instinct and training. Let those who are ambitious to serve democracy qualify themselves by satisfying first this acid test of democracy. Moreover, a democrat must be utterly selfless. He must think and dream not in terms of self or party but only of democracy. Only then does he acquire the right of civil disobedience. I do not want anybody to give up his convictions or to suppress himself. I do not believe that a healthy and honest difference of opinion will injure our cause. But opportunism, camouflage or patched up compromises certainly will. If you must dissent, you should take care that your opinions voice your innermost convictions and are not intended merely as a convenient party cry.
I value individual freedom but you must not forget that man is essentially a social being. He has risen to his present status by learning to adjust his individualism to the requirements of social progress. Unrestricted individualism is the law of the beast of the jungle. We have learnt to strike the mean between individual freedom and social restraint. Willing submission to social restraint for the sake of the wellbeing of the whole society, enriches both the individual and the society of which one is a member. – H, 27-5-39, 136, 144.
The Right of Civil Disobedience
575. Most people do not understand the complicated machinery of the government. They do not realize that every citizen silently but none the less certainly sustains the government of the day in ways of which he has no knowledge. Every citizen therefore renders himself responsible for every act of his government. And it is quite proper to support it so long as the actions of the government are bearable. But when they hurt him and his nation, it becomes his duty to withdraw his support. –YI, 28-7-20, Tagore, 242.
576. It is no part of a citizen’s duty to pay blind obedience to the laws imposed on him. And if my countrymen believe in God and the existence of the soul, then, while they may admit that their bodies belong to the State to be imprisoned and deported, their minds, their wills, and their souls must ever remain free like the birds of the air, and are beyond the reach of the swiftest arrow. –Nat, 306.
577. It is true that in the vast majority of cases, it is the duty of a subject to submit to wrongs on failure of the usual procedure, so long as they do not affect his vital being. But every nation and every individual have the right, and it is their duty, to rise against an intolerable wrong. I do not believe in armed rising. They are a remedy worse than the disease sought to be cured. They are a token of the spirit of revenge and impatience and anger. The method of violence cannot do good in the long run. Witness the effect of the armed rising of the Allied powers against Germany. Have they not become even like the Germans, as the latter have been depicted to us by them?
We have a better method. Unlike that of violence it certainly involves the exercise of restraint and patience; but it requires also resoluteness of will. This method is to refuse to be party to the wrong. No tyrant has ever yet succeeded in his purpose without carrying the victim with him, it may be, as it often is, by force. Most people choose rather to yield to the will of the tyrant than to suffer for the consequence of resistance. Hence does terrorism form part of the stock-in-trade of the tyrant. But we have instances in history where terrorism has failed to impose the terrorist’s will upon his victim. India has choice before her now. If then the acts of the Punjab Government be an insufferable wrong, if the report of Lord Hunter’s Committee and the two dispatches be a greater wrong reason of their grievous condonation of these acts, it is clear that we must refuse to submit to this official violence. Appeal to the Parliament by all means, if necessary, but if the Parliament fails us and if we are worthy to call ourselves a nation, we must refuse to uphold the Government by withdrawing co-operation from it. –YI,9-6-20, Tagore, 80.
578. Complete civil disobedience is rebellion without the element of violence in it. An out-and-out civil resister simply ignores the authority of the State. He becomes an outlaw claiming to disregard every unmoral State law. Thus, for instance, he may refuse to pay taxes, he may refuse to recognize the authority of the State in his daily intercourse. He may refuse to obey the law of trespass and claim to enter military barracks in order to speak to the soldiers, he may refuse to submit to limitations upon the manner of picketing and may picket within the proscribed area. In doing al this he never uses force and never resists force when it is used against him. In fact, he invites imprisonment and other uses of force against himself. This he does because and when he finds the bodily freedom he seemingly enjoys to be an intolerable burden. He argues to himself, that a State allows persona freedom only in so far as the citizen submits to its regulations. Submission to the state law is the price a citizen pays for his personal liberty. Submission, therefore, to a State law wholly or largely unjust is an immoral barter for liberty. A citizen who thus realizes the evil nature of a State is not satisfied to live on its sufferance, and therefore appears to the others who do not share his belief to be a nuisance to society whilst he is endeavouring to compel the State, without committing a moral breach, to arrest him. Thus considered, civil resistance is a most powerful expression of a soul’s anguish and an eloquent protest against the continuance of an evil State. Is not this the story of all reform? Have not reformers, much to the disgust of their fellows, discarded even innocent symbols associated with an evil practice?
When a body of men disown the State under which they have hitherto lived, they nearly establish their own government. I say nearly, for they do not go to the point of using force when they are resisted by the State. Their ‘business’, as of the individual, is to be locked up or shot by the State, unless it recognizes their separate existence, in other words bows to their will. Thus three thousand Indians in South Africa after due notice to the Government of the Transvaal crossed the Transvaal border in 1914 in defiance of the Transvaal Immigration Law and compelled Government to arrest them. When it failed to provoke them to violence or to coerce them into submission, it yielded to their demand. A body of civil resisters is, therefore, like an army subject to all the discipline of a soldier, only harder because of want of excitement of an ordinary soldier’s life. And as a civil resistance army is or ought to be free from passion because free from the spirit of retaliation, it requires the fewest number of soldiers. Indeed one PERFECT civil resister is enough to win the battle of Right against Wrong. – YI,10-11-21, 362.
Respecting Differences of Opinion among Co-workers
579. It is a bad habit to say that another man’s thoughts are bad and ours only are good and that those holding different views from ours are the enemies of the country. – IHR, 4
580. Let us honour our opponents for the same honesty of purpose and patriotic motives that we claim for ourselves. – YI, 4-6-25, 193.
581. It is true that I have often been let down. Many have deceived me and many have been found wanting. But I do not repent of my association with them. For I know how to non-co-operate, as I know how to co-operate. The most practical, the most dignified way of going on in the world is to take people at their word, when you have no positive reason to the contrary – YI, 26-12-24, 430.
No Compulsion in Satyagraha
582. Our tyranny, if we impose our will on others, will be infinitely worse than that of the handful of Englishmen who form the bureaucracy. Theirs is a terrorism imposed by a minority struggling to exist in the midst of opposition. Ours will be a terrorism imposed by a majority and therefore worse and really more godless than the first. We must therefore eliminate compulsion in any shape from our struggle. If we are only a handful holding freely the doctrine of non-co-operation, we may have to die in the attempt to convert others to our view, but we shall have truly defended and represented our cause. If however we enlist under our banner men by force, we shall be denying our cause and God, and if we seem to succeed for the moment, we shall have succeeded in establishing a worse terror.
We shall also retard our cause if we suppress opinion by intolerance. For then we shall never know who is with us and who is against us. The indispensable condition therefore of success is that we encourage the greatest freedom of opinion. It is the least we can learn from the present ‘masters’. Their Penal Code contains drastic punishments for holding opinions they do not like. And they have arrested some of the noblest of our countrymen for expression of their opinion. Our non-co-operation is a defiantly open protest against that system. We may not in the very act of fighting the restraint on opinion be guilty ourselves of imposing it on others. –YI, 27-10-21, 342.
Satyagraha and the Masses
583. I do not rely merely upon the lawyer class or highly educated men to enable the Non-co-operation Committee to carry out all the stages of non-co-operation. My hope lies with the masses son far as the later stages of non-co-operation are concerned. –YI, 18-8-20, Tagore, 370.
584. His Excellency has been misled by his advisers in believing that non-co-operationists have only now turned their attention to the masses. Indeed, they are our sheet anchor. But we are not going to tamper with them. We shall continue patiently to educate them politically till they are ready for safe action. There need be no mistake about our goal. As soon as we feel reasonably confident of nonviolence continuing among them in spite of provoking executions, we shall certainly call upon the sepoy to lay down his arms and the peasantry to suspend payment of taxes. We are hoping that that time may never be reached. We shall leave no stone unturned to avoid such a serious step. But we will not flinch when the moment has come and the need has arisen. – YI, 9-3-21, 76.
Can the Masses Remain Non-violent?
585. Q. How do you think that the masses can practice non-violence, when we know that they are all prone to anger, hate, ill-will? They are known to fight for the most trivial things.
A. They are, and yet I think they can practice non-violence for the common good. Do you think that the thousands of women that collected contraband salt had ill-will against anyone? They knew that the Congress or Gandhi had asked them to do certain things, and they did those things in faith and hope. To my mind the most perfect demonstration of nonviolence was in Champaran. Did the thousands of ryots who rose up in revolt against the agrarian evils harbour the least ill-will against the Government or the planters? Their belief in nonviolence was unintelligent, even as the belief in the earth being round with many is unintelligent. But their belief in their leaders was genuine, and that was enough. With those who lead it is another matter. Their belief has got to be intelligent, and they have to live up to all the implications of the belief.
Q. But then are not the masses the world over like that?
A. They are not, for others have not that background of non-violence.
Q. But if there was non-violence ingrained in our masses, how should they have come to this state of slavery?
A. There indeed is what I flatter myself is going to be my contribution. I want that non-violence of the weak to become non-violence of the brave. It may be a dream, but I have to strive for its realization. – H, 4-11-39, 332.
586.Q. Believing that mass revolution is the only means to achieve freedom, do you believe it a practical proposition that the mass will and can remain absolutely non-violent in thought and action in spite of all possible provocations in the course of such revolution? It may be possible for an individual to attain that standard butt do you think that it is possible for the masses to attain that standard of non-violence in action?
A. This is a strange question coming from you at this time of the day, for the entire course of our non-violent fight bears testimony to the fact that wherever violence has broken out it has broken out not on the part of the masses but, if I may put it by the intellectuals. Even in violence fighting though the individual sometimes lets himself go and forgets everything, the mass of the fighting force dares not and does not. It resorts to arms only under orders and has to suspend fire in response to orders, no matter how great the individual impulse to revenge or retaliation might be. There is no prima facie reason why under nonviolence the mass, if disciplined, should be incapable of showing the discipline which in organized warfare a fighting force normally does. Besides, a nonviolent general has this special advantage: he does not require thousands of leaders to successfully carry on his fight. The non-violent message does not require so many for transmission. The example of a few true men or women if they have fully imbibed the spirit of non-violence is bound to infect the whole mass in the end. This was just what I experienced in the beginning of the movement. I found that people actually believed that in my heart of hearts I favoured violence even when I preached non-violence. That was the way they had been trained to read and interpret the utterances of the leaders. But when they realized that I meant what I said, they did observe non-violence indeed under the most trying circumstances. There has been no repetition of Chauri Chaura. As for non-violence in thought God alone is judge. But this much is certain that non-violence in action cannot be sustained unless it goes hand in hand with non-violence in thought. –ABP, 3-8-34.
Caution in Mass-movements
587. The greatest care is necessary at the present moment when violence, not non-violence, seems to pervade the air. Indeed it may be reasonably argued that in an atmosphere surcharged with violence there is no scope for non-violence. This argument may be carried too far, so far that nonviolence may be made wholly ineffective; whereas it is claimed to be the only effective force for counteracting violence no matter how terrible. But when violence pervades the air the expression of non-violence may not be through civil disobedience. And if it is to be civil disobedience, it must be hedged in by adequate restrictions. In satyagraha, it is never the numbers that count; it is always the quality, more so when the forces of violence are uppermost. – H, 25-3-39, 64.
588. Since satyagraha is one of the most powerful methods of direct action, a satyagrahi exhausts all other means before he resorts to satyagraha. He will therefore constantly and continually approach the constituted authority, he will appeal to public opinion, educate public opinion, state his case calmly and coolly before everybody, who wants to listen to him, and only after he has exhausted all these avenues will he resort to satyagraha. But when he has found the impelling call of the inner voice within him and launches out upon satyagraha he has burnt his boats and there is no receding. –YI, 20-10-27, 353.
589. I am not going to take a single step in non-co-operation unless I am satisfied that the country is ready for that step.
– YI, 18-8-20, Tagore, 369.
590. A full grasp of the conditions of successful civil resistance is necessary at least on the part of the representatives of the people before we can launch out upon an enterprise of such magnitude. The quickest remedies are always fraught with the greatest danger and require the utmost skill in handling them. – YI, 4-8-21, 244.
591. So far as response is concerned, I agree with the editor that the quickest and the largest response is to be expected in the matter of suspension of payment of taxes, but as I have said, so long as the masses are not educated to appreciate the value of non-violence even whilst their holdings are being sold, so long must it be difficult to take up the last stage in any appreciable extent. – YI, 18-8-20, Tagore, 328.
592. We must not resort to non-payment because of the possibility f a ready response. The readiness is a fatal temptation, Such non-payment will not be civil or non-violent, but it will be criminal and fraught with the greatest possibility of violence. Not until peasantry is trained to understand the reason and the reason and the virtue of civil non-payment and is prepared to look with calm resignation upon the confiscation of their holdings and the forced sale of their cattle and other belongings, may they be advised to withhold payment of taxes. – YI, 26-1-22, 57.
593. In the midst of an enervating atmosphere such as ours, the duty before non-co-operators is clear. They must keep exemplary patience. They must not be goaded into precipitate action. They must refuse battle where they are not ready. –YI, 26-1-22, 56.
594. Suffering has its well-defined limits. Suffering can be both wise and unwise, and when the limit is reached, to prolong it would be not unwise but the height of folly. – YI, 12-3-31, 30.
595. (But) There is no time limit for a satyagrahi, nor is there a limit to his capacity for suffering. Hence there is no such thing as defeat in satyagraha. YI, 19-2-25, 61.
596. Repression does good only to those who are prepared for it. – YI, 9-4-25, 124
597. A satyagrahi goes to prison, not to embarrass the authorities but to convert them by demonstrating to them his innocence, You should realize that unless you have developed the moral fitness to go to prison, which the law of satyagraha demands, your jail-going will be useless and will bring you nothing but disappointment in the end. – H, 5-11-38, 315.
Instruction to Satyagrahis
598. It is the essence of satyagraha that those who are suffering should alone offer it. Cases can be conceived when what may be termed sympathetic satyagraha may be legitimately applied. The idea underlying satyagraha is to convert the wrongdoer, to awaken the sense of justice in him, to show him also that without the co-operation, direct or indirect, of the wronged the wrongdoer cannot do the wrong intended by him. If the people in either case are not ready to suffer for their causes, no outside help in the shape of satyagraha can possibly bring true deliverance. – H, 10-12-38, 369.
599. No organization can be run with success if its members, especially its officers, refuse to carry out its policy and hold on to it in spite of opposition to it. For winning Swaraj one requires iron discipline. Let this friend and those who think with him realize that we are engaged in the very difficult and delicate task of wresting authority from an organization whose members are able, industrious, intelligent, brave and above all trained in the habits of exact discipline. – YI, 28-8-24, 285.
600. I regard you as soldiers in this campaign. It is not possible to reason out things for ourselves. You have come to the Ashram because you have faith in the management. That does not mean faith in me. For I am not the manager. I am directing the movement so far as the ideals and general direction are concerned. Your faith therefore must be in those who are managers for the time being. The choice before coming to the Ashram was yours. But having made your choice and come to the Ashram it is not for you to reason why. If we are to become a powerful nation you must obey all directions that may be given from time to time. This is the only way in which either political or religious life can be built up. You must have determined for yourselves certain principles and you must have joined the struggle in obedience to these principles. Those who remain in the Ashram are taking as much part in the struggle as those who go and offer satyagraha at the barricades. Every piece of work in connection with the struggle is just as important any other piece, and therefore the work of sanitation in the Ashram is just as important as spinning away at the barricades. And if in this place the work of cleaning the closets and compound is more distasteful than spinning, it should be considered far more important and profitable. Not a single minute should be wasted in idle conversation, but we must be absorbed in the work before us and if every one of us work in that spirit you will see that there is pleasure I work itself. Every bit of property, anything in the Ashram should be regarded by you as your own property and not property that can be wasted and similarly a minute of your time. It is not ours. It belongs to the nation and we are trustees for the use of it.* – YI, I9-3-25, 95.
601. I admit that there is ‘a doubtful proportion of full believers’ in my ‘theory of non-violence’. But it should not be forgotten that I have also said that for my movement I do not at all need believers in the theory of non-violence, full or imperfect. It is enough if people carry out the rules of non-violent action. – GC, 169.
602. Freedom of four hundred million people through purely non-violent effort is not to be gained without learning the virtue of iron discipline-not imposed from without, but sprung naturally from within. Without the requisite discipline non-violence can only be a veneer. – HS, 6-8-44.
Publicity in Satyagraha
603. I believe that a struggle which chiefly relies upon internal strength cannot be wholly carried on without a newspaper, and it is also my experience that we could not perhaps have educated the local Indian community, nor kept Indians all over the world in touch with the course of events in south Africa in any other way, with the same ease and success as through Indian Opinion, which therefore was certainly a most useful and potent weapon in our struggle.
As the community was transformed in course of and as a result of the struggle, so was Indian Opinion. – SA, 221.
604. Any day the Government may prohibit the use of the telegraph, the post, the rail, and the press by non-co-operationists. Will it stop the struggle for a single minute? I hope not. It has been conceived so as to be independent of Government sufferance. For it depends for success upon its universality. Non-co-operation by stray individuals is, no doubt, possible and conceivable. It has then to take a somewhat different shape. But when the spirit of it pervades the whole of India, we need not feel dependent upon the telegraph, the post, the rail or the press. Our work can be done quit effectively without the aid of these agencies. We can send messages from mouth to with electric speed. The railway train quickly transfers leaders from place to place, but it quickly transfers thousands of curiosity-mongers who serve no purpose and cause national waste. I can contemplate with perfect calmness the prohibition of the use of the rail by all except those who sign the creed of co-operation with the Govern long as we should have an automatic census of co-operators. So long as we have pen and paper, or even slate and pencil, we need not despair of transmitting our thoughts in writhing, if we have enough volunteers. I have often been told that the independence of our printing press is a great desideratum. I admit that it is a convenience but I was able to show during the satyagraha week in the April of 1919 that it was possible to issue a written news-paper. Given a sufficient number of volunteer writers, we can multiply copies indefinitely. I can foresee many advantages in non-co-operationists being confined to their pens only.- YI, 9-3-2I, 73.
The Task of Leadership
605. A satyagraha struggle is impossible without capital in the shape of character. – SA, 2I8.
606. The leaders of every clean movement are bound to see that they admit only clean fighters to it. – SA, 218.
607. Those who claim to lead the masses must resolutely refuse to be led by them, if we want to avoid mob law and desire ordered progress for the country. I believe that mere protestation of one’s opinion and surrender to the mass opinion is not only not enough, but in matters of vital importance, leaders must act contrary to the mass of opinion if it does not commend itself to their reason.—YI, 14-7-20.
608. A leader is useless when he acts against the prompting 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.- YI, 23-2-22
609. An able general always gives battle in his own time on the ground of his choice. He always retains the initiative in these respects and never allows it to pass into the hands of the enemy.
In a satyagraha campaign the mode of fight and the choice of tactics, e.g. whether to advance or retreat, offer civil resistance or organize nonviolent strength through constructive work and purely selfless humanitarian service are determined according to the exigencies of the situation. A satyagrahi must carry out what-ever plan is laid out for him with a cool determination giving way to neither excitement nor depression. –H, 27-5-9, I43
610. A wise general does not wait till he is actually routed; he withdraws in time in an orderly manner from a position which he knows he would not be able to hold.—H, 22-I0-38, 304.
Fighting without a Captain
611. The questioners betray their unbelief in, if not their unfitness for, Swaraj by putting the question. What will happen when all the leaders die? Our fitness for Swaraj can only be demonstrated by our capacity to continue our work in spite of the withdrawal of leaders by death or imprisonment. Surely the memory of imprisonment should act as a spur to greater and more disciplined action. We must be able to stand on our own legs without support even as we breathe naturally and without artificial aid. – YI, 20-I0-2I, 330.
612. There should be no demoralization when the leaders are gone, and there should be no surrender in the face of fire. – YI, 3-II-2I,349.
613. Strength of number is the delight of the timid. The valiant of spirit glory in fighting alone. And you are all here to cultivate that valour of the spirit. Be you one or many, this valour is the only valour, all else is false. And the valour of the spirit cannot be achieved without sacrifice, determination, faith and humility. – YI, 17-6-26, 217.
614. Discipline has a place in non-violent strategy, but much more is required. In a satyagraha army everybody is a soldier and a servant. But at a pinch every satyagrahi soldier has also to be his own general and leader. Mere discipline cannot make for leadership. The latter calls for faith and vision. -H, 28-7-40, 227.
615. Where self-reliance is the order of the day, where no one has to look expectantly at another, where all are leaders and all are followers, the death of a fighter, however eminent, makes not for slackness but on the other hand intensifies the struggle.- SA, 288.
616. My confidences unshaken. If a single satyagrahi holds out to the end, victory is absolutely certain. – SA, 5.
The Campaign of Satyagraha
617. Having fixed one’s minimum from which one may not recede, one may stoop to conquer the whole world.- YI, 2-4-25, 115
618. In a pure fight, the fighters would never go beyond the objective when the fight began even if they received an accession to their strength in course of the fighting and, on the other hand, they could not give up their objective if they found their strength dwindling away.- SA, 412.
619. It is my conviction that we are in sight of the promised land, but the danger is the greatest when victory seems the nearest. No victory worth the name has ever been won without a final effort, more serious than all the preceding ones. God’s last test is ever the most difficult. Satan’s last temptation is ever the most seductive. We must stand God’s last test and resist Satan’s last temptation, if we would be free.
Non-violence is the most vital and integral part of non-co-operation. We may fail in everything else and still continue our battle if were main non-violent. But we capitulate miserably if we fail in adhering to non-violence. But we capitulate miserably if we fail in adhering to non-violence. Let it be remembered that violence is the keystone of the Government edifice. Since violence is its sheet-anchor and its final refuge, it has rendered itself almost immune from violence on our side by having prepared itself to frustrate all violent effort by the people. We therefore cooperate with the Government in the most active manner when we resort to violence. Any violence on our part must be a token of our stupidity, ignorance and impotent rage. To exercise restraint under the gravest provocation is the truest mark of soldier ship. The veriest tyro in the art of war knows, that he must avoid the ambushes of his adversary. And every provocation is a dangerous ambush into which we must resolutely refuse to walk. – YI, 28-7-21,237.
Five Stages of a Movement
620.Every good movement passes through five stages, indifference, ridicule, abuse, repression, and respect. We had in difference for a few months. Then the Viceroy graciously laughed at it. Abuse, including misrepresentation, has been the order of the day. The Provincial Governors and the anti-non-co-operation Press have heaped as much abuse upon the Movement as they have been able to. Now comes repression, at present yet in its fairly mild form. Every movement that survives repression, mild or severe, invariably commands respect which is another name for success. This repression, if we are true, may be treated as a sure sign of the approaching victory. But, if we are true, we shall neither be cowed down nor angrily retaliate and be violent. Violence is suicide. Let us recognize that power dies hard, and that it is but natural for the Government to make a final effort for life even though it be through repression. Complete self-restraint at the present critical moment is the speediest way to success. – YI, 9-3-21, 74.
A Warning to Satyagrahi
621.Indiscriminate resistance to authority must lead to lawlessness, unbridled license and consequent self-destruction.- YI, 2-4-31, 58.
622. Non-co-operation, when its limitations are not recognized becomes a license instead of being a duty and therefore becomes a crime. – YI, 29-12-21, 434.
623. Some students have revived the ancient form of barbarity in the form of ‘sitting dharma’. I call it ‘barbarity for it is a crude way of using coercion. It is also cowardly because one who’ sits dhurna’ knows that he is not going to be trampled over. It is difficult to call the practice violence, but it is certainly worse. If we fight our opponent, we at least him to return the blow. But when we challenge him to walk over us, we, knowing that he will not, place him in a most awkward and humiliating position. I know that the overzealous students who ‘sat dhurna’ never thought of the barbarity of the deed. But one, who expected to follow the voice of conscience and stand even single-handed in the face of odds, cannot afford to be thoughtless. Non-co-operation, if it fails, will fail only through internal weakness. There is no such thing as defeat in non-co-operation. It never fails. Its so-called representatives may so badly represent their cause that it may appear to the spectators to have failed. Let non-co-operationists therefore beware of everything they do. There must be no impatience, no barbarity, no insolence, no undue pressure. If we want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy, we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.- YI, 2-2-21, 33.
In the midst of violence
624. A call may come which one dare not neglect, cost what it may. I can clearly see the time coming to me when I must refuse obedience to every single State-made law, even though there may be a certainty of bloodshed. When neglect of the call means a denial of God, civil disobedience becomes a peremptory duty.- YI, 4-8-2I, 244. Cf. 555.
625. Is it not intelligible why, notwithstanding its undoubted risks, I am planning some sort of civil disobedience so as to get together all the nonviolent forces and see if it stems the tide of onrushing violence? Hatred and ill-will there undoubtedly are in the air. They are bound sooner or later to burst into acts of fury if they are not anticipate in time. The conviction had deepened in me that civil disobedience alone can stop the bursting of that fury. The nation wants to feel its power more even than to have independence. Possession of such is independence.
That civil disobedience may resolve itself into violent disobedience is, I am sorry to have to confess, not an unlikely event. But know that it will not be the cause of it. Violence is there already corroding the whole body politic. Civil disobedience will be but a purifying process and may bring to the surface what is burrowing under and into the whole body. And British officials, if they choose, may regulate civil disobedience so as to sterilize the forces of violence. But whether they do so, or whether, as many of us fear, they will, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, provoke violence, my course is clear. With the evidence I have of the condition of the country and with the unquenchable faith I have in the method of civil resistance, I must not be deterred from the course the Inward Voice seems to be leading me to.- YI, 23-1-30, 29.
626. We must cease to dread violence, if we have the country free. Can we not see that we are tightly pressed in the coil of violence? The peace we seem to prize is a mere makeshift, and it is bought with the blood of the starving millions. If the critics could only realize the torture of their slow and lingering death brought about by forced starvation, they would risk anarchy and worse in order to end that agony. The agony will not end till the existing rule of spoliation has ended.- YI, 23-1-30, 28.
627. There is certainly danger of the Movement becoming violent. But we may no more drop nonviolent non-co-operation because of its dangers than we may stop freedom because of the dangers of its abuse. – YI, 15-12-20, Tagore, 334.
628. But nonviolence has to be patient. The Government will spread out its red paws in what it will call self-defense; the party of violence may commit the mistake of seeing its chance of coming out in the open. The non-violent party must then prove its creed by being ground to powder between the two millstones.- YI, 6-2-30, 44.
629. If I can have nothing to do with the organized violence of the government, I can have less to do with the unorganized violence of the people. I would prefer to be crushed between the two. – YI, 24-11-21, 382.
Why there Was Suspension after Chauri Chaura
630. So long as the organizers strictly keep within the limits which they have prescribed for themselves there is no cause for calling off satyagraha. The friend cites Chauri Chaura as an illustration. In doing so, he has betrayed confusion of thought or ignorance of facts. The Bardoli Satyagraha was suspended because congress and Khilafat men were implicated in the Chauri Chaura outrage.- YI, 19-6-24, 201.
631. Whenever I have suspended civil disobedience, I have done so, not by reason of any outbreak of violence, but upon the discovery of such violence as had been initiated or encouraged by Congressmen who should have known better. Any outbreak of violence would not have brought about suspension, for instance, the Moplah outbreak. But Chauri Chaura did, for the simple reason that persons connected with the Congress were involved in it.- YI, 29-10-25, 368.
The Spirit of Self-surrender in Satyagraha
632. That is the beauty of satyagraha. It comes up to oneself, one has not to go out in search for it. That is a virtue inherent in the principle itself. A dharma-yuddha, in which there are no secrets to be guarded, no scope for cunning and no place for untruth, comes unsought; and a man of religion is every ready for it. A struggle which has to be previously planned is not a righteous struggle. In a righteous struggle God Himself plans campaigns and conducts battles. A dharma-yuddha can be waged only in the name of God, and it is only in the name of God, and it is only when the satyagrahi feels quite helpless, is apparently on his last legs and finds utter darkness all around him, that god comes to the rescue. God helps when one feels oneself humbler than the very dust under one’s feet, Only to the weak and helpless is divine succour vouchsafed.- SA, 5.