SPEECH AT PRAYER MEETING
January 10, 1946
Gandhiji congratulated the gathering on the beautiful way in which they had followed Ramdhun. Particularly he was pleased that women had whole- heartedly joined in it without any feeling of false shame. In taking the name of God, hesitation and fear as well as false shame were equally out of place. The man who had the realization of God Who dwelt in the hearts of all beings should know no fear.
“Jai Hind”should not replace “Vandemataram”.The words which Subhas Bose uttered were very pleasant to hear. But by this poeple should not forget Vandemataram which was being uttered since the inception of the Congress. First, they should say “Vandemataram”and then “Jai Hind”. He would whole-heartedly return that greeting but it should not be to the exclusion of “Vandemataram”. If they could discard “Vandemataram”which had such a tradition of sacrifice behind it, he was afraid they would one day discard “Jai Hind”also.
The source had reported that Gandhiji was greeted by some girl volunteers with ‘Jai Hind’ as he arrived at the prayer ground Gandhiji reiterated his belief that Subhas Babu was not dead, but was hiding somewhere and said that if he could communicate with Subhas Babu, he was sure the latter would endorse him in his view about “Vandemataram”.
The Hindu, 12-1-1946
INTERVIEW TO UNITED PRESS OF INDIA[January 13, 1946] My relations with Bose were always of the purest and best. I always knew his capacity for sacrifice. But a full knowledge of his resourcefulness, soldiership and organizing ability came to me only after his escape from India. The difference of outlook between him and me as to the means is too well known for comment.
Amrita Bazar Patrika, 15-1-1946
IS NETAJI ALIVE?
Some years ago it was announced (March 1942) in the newspapers that Subhas Chandra Bose had died. I believed the report. Later the news was proved to have been incorrect. Since then I have had a feeling that Netaji could not leave us until his dream of swaraj had been fulfilled. To lend strength to this feeling was the knowledge of Netaji’s great ability to hoodwink his enemies and even the world for the sake of his cherished goal. These were the only reasons for my belief that he was alive.
I have not the ability for foretelling the future. I have no strength except what comes from insistence on truth. Non-violence too springs from the same insistence. God alone knows absolute truth. Therefore I have often said, Truth is God. It follows that man, a finite being, cannot know absolute truth. Therefore I had nothing but my instinct to tell me that Netaji was alive. No reliance can be placed on such unsupported feeling.
On the other hand, there is strong evidence to counteract the feeling. The British Government is party to that evidence. Capt. Habibur Rahman has said, he was present at the time of Netaji’s death and has brought back his charred wrist watch. Another of his companions, Shri Iyer, met and told me that my instinct was wrong and I should abandon the feeling that Subhas Chandra was alive. In the face of these proofs I appeal to everyone to forget what I have said (“Talk with shah Nawaz Khan and P. K. Sehgal”, 12/13-3-1946) and, believing in the evidence before them, reconcile themselves to the fact that Nataji has left us. All man’s ingenuity is as nothing before the might of the One God. He alone is Truth and nothing else stands.
URULI [KANCHAN], March 30, 1946
ADDRESS TO I. N. A. OFFICERS
May 22, 1946
Before he begun his speech, Mahatma Gandhiji asked them for an assurance that they would listen to his advice and the gathering gave a unfit reply in the affirmative. Col. Habibur Rehman, who was in the same plane as Subhas Bose when it crashed, described to Mahatma Gandhi with tears in his eyes the last moment of Subhas Chandra Bose. Mahatma Gandhiji remarked:
You are a true soldier and you should not shed tears like this. Gandhiji congratulated the I. N. A. officers on their valour and said that he had been greatly impressed by the courage shown by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the I. N. A. For a long time he had been hoping that Netaji was alive and would be amdist them some day but after what Col. Habibur Rehman had said he felt that he was no more.
But he is living among us in his message and the ideal he placed before the world.Other friends have placed before me the dilemma which, I am told, faces many of you too. The Congress creed is, of course, that of winning swaraj through non-violent and peaceful means but there are many men outside, and even within the Congress, who have begun to doubt whether that policy of the Congress has not exhausted its puro-pose and now become effete for that tasks that lie ahead, especially in view of the changed and changing times. You who have served under Subhas Babu, as veteran fighters have proved your mettle on the battlefield. Success and failure are, however, not in our hands, but in God’s hands alone. Netaji told you when bidding good-bye to you that, on your return to India, you must put yourselves under the Congress discipline and act according to its policy. Your object, as I have been told, was only to free India, never to help the Japanese. You failed in your direct objective, i. e., to defeat the British. But you have the satisfaction that the whole country has been rousded and even the regular forces have been stirred into a new political consciousness and have begun to think in terms of independence. You have achieved a complete unity among the Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Christians, Anglo-Indians and Sikhs in your ranks. That is no mean achievement. What, howevr, you realized under conditions of freedom outside India, you have now to sustain and keep alive under Indian conditions. That will be your real test. If you have imbitbed the spirit of non-violence, you will remain free men at heart even here. For instance, no government on earth can make men, who have realized freedom in their heart, salute against their will. If they threaten to kill them they will offer their necs tothem, but refuse to submit. The odds are that a soldier’s spirit will revolt against such coldblooded murder. Thus, whether they live or die it will be as free men. They will never be slaves. If you will become free men at heart, the whole of India will be free. They might imprison you. You will welcome it or you can tell them that you will be a corpse before they can put you in prison. Both alternatives are open to a non-violent soldier and both call for bravery of the highest order. Our task is no less than to reinfuse life into the 400 millions of India. We have to dispel fear from their hearts. On the day they shed all fear, India’s fetters shall fall and she will be free.Years ago I said at Nankan Sahib “Sikhs have given proof of their martial valour. But the consummation of Guru Govind Singh’s idea will be reached only when they will substitute for their kirpans the sword of the spirit or non-violence.” So long as one wants to retain one’s sword, one has not attained complete fearlessness. No power on earth can subjugate you when you are armed with the sword of ahimsa. It ennobles both the victor and the vanquished. Netaji has fired you with a new spirit. That spirit can now be kept alive only hrough non-violence.
Above all, you must never beg or throw yourselves on any-body’s charity. Because you have risked your lives for India’s sake and fought for her on the Imphal plain, you must not expect to be pampered in return. If you do that, you will lose all worth like salt that has lost its savour. You should prefer to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow, but refuse to beg or accept charity. In short, you have to show the same degree of bravery and courage of the non-violent types as you have done in the use of arms hitherto. India is a very poor country and we should all work for our living. There is plenty of land available for all. If you want land you will have it. You will clear it and turn it into model farms. You have to overcome the inertia of ages which weighs down our masses. That you will be able to do only by setting an example of industry and hand work. You must be able to weild the bucket and the broom with skill and diligence and not consider the cleaning of latrines as dirty or beneath your dignity. Graduation in this work is more heroic than winning the Victoria Cross.
Then followed questions and answers.
Q. How can one who has spent his whole life in fighting take to ahimsa with success? Are not the two incompatible/
A. I do not agree. Badshah Khan is a Pathan. But today he has become a soldier of non-violence. In his land the sword and the gun are considered essential even for settling private disputes. But he has fully imbibed the principle of non-violence. The whole thing depends upon your attitude of mind. Tolstoy too served in the army. Yet he became the high priest of non-violence in Europe. We have not yet realized fully the power that is non-violence. If the Government had not arrested me in 1942, I would have shown how to fight Japan by non-violence. Even at the time of the threatned Japanes invasion, I preached resistance to the enemy through non-violence. The British did not believe me. They thought how could we fight the Japanses non-vio-lently? But I am telling you I have got faith in my ability to fight non-violently.
Q. Surely, it is no breach of ahimsa to use the sword in self-defence?
A. No, it is not necessary to use force. You should be prepared even to lay down your lives. Even Wavell, Auchinleck (Commander-in-Chief in India) or Hitler does not use the sword with-out necessity. But that does not make it ahimsa. It is himsa, whatever its justification.
Q. You cannot take the world along with you if you adopt ahimsa. You have to choose the one or the other.
A. There again I disagree. A reformer has to sail not with the current, very often he has to go against it, even though it may cost him his life. You must not be carried off your feet by unthinking, popular applause. The essential part of your message to the country is not how to weild the sword but how to cease to be afraid of it.
Q. What would you have done if Subhas Babu had returned to you victorious?
A. I would have asked him to make you put away your weapons and stack them before me.
The Bombay Chronicle, 23-5-1946, The Hindustan Times, 23-5-1946, and Harijan, 9-6-1946