Definitions of ‘SWARAJ’

I take the reader’s leave to put before him the various definitions of swaraj which I keep formulating in my mind.

(1) Swaraj means rule over one’s self. One who has achieved this had fulfilled his individual pledge.

(2) We have, however, thought of swaraj in terms of some symbol or image. Swaraj, therefore, means the complete control by the people of the country’s imports and exports, of its army and its law courts. This is the meaning of the pledge taken in December. Such swaraj may or may not have room for the British connection. If there is no solution of the Punjab and the Khilafat issues, there will be no room for such connection.

(3) But then it is possible that sadhus as individuals enjoy swaraj even at present, and that, even when we have a parliament of our own, people may not feel that they are free. Swaraj, therefore, means easy availability of food and cloth, so much so that no one would go hungry or naked for want of them.

(4) Even under such circumstances, it may happen that one community or section seeks to suppress another. Swaraj, therefore, means conditions in which a young girl could, without danger, move about alone even at dead of night.


(5) These four definitions will be found to include many others. Nevertheless, if swaraj has infused—and it ought to infuse—a new spirit in every one of the classes which make up the nation, it will mean total disappearance of the practice of treating Antyajas as untouchables.

(6) End of the Brahmin-non-Brahmin quarrel.

(7) Complete disappearance of the evil passions in the hearts of Hindus and Muslims. This means that a Hindu should respect a Muslim’s feelings and should be ready to lay down his life for him, and vice versa . Muslims should not slaughter cows for the purpose of hurting Hindus; on the contrary, they should on their own refrain from cow-slaughter so as to spare the latter’s feelings. Likewise,without asking for anything in return, Hindus should stop playing music before mosques with the purpose of hurting Muslims, should actually feel proud in not playing music while passing by a mosque.

(8) Swaraj means that Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis,Christians and Jews should all be able to follow their own faith and should respect those of others.

(9) Swaraj means that every town or village should be strong enough to protect itself against thieves and robbers and should produce the food and cloth that it requires.

(10) Swaraj means mutual regard between the princes or zemindars on the one hand and their subjects on the other, that the former should not harass the latter and the latter, in their turn, should give no trouble to the former.

(11) Swaraj means mutual regard between the rich and the working class. It means the latter working gladly for the former for adequate wages.

(12) Swaraj means looking upon every woman as a mother or sister and respecting her to the utmost. It means doing away with the distinctions of high and low, and acting towards all with the same regard as for one’s brother or sister.

It follows from these definitions that in swaraj
(1) the Government will not trade in liquor, opium and things of that kind;
(2) no speculation can be permitted in food grains and cotton;
(3) no person will break a law;
(4) there can be no room at all for wilfulness,which means that a person cannot act as a judge when he is himself charged with something, but should let the charge be examined in a duly established court in the country.

[From Gujarati]
Navajivan, 14-8-1921


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