What could be better than writing on Mr Gandhi, or rather reproducing Gandhi’s writings & speeches, on his birthday? I won’t be sharing my opinions, nor my thoughts on Mr Gandhi, but rather I’d like to quote him & several other popular figures from the era of the Indian Independence Movement. A very little to nothing is known about Gandhi’s thoughts on Hindu–Muslim disunity, & his wanton disregard for the lives of those Hindus who were mercilessly butchered, slaughtered, & pulverized by the violent hordes of Islam. Nothing more is said about the great man other than his preaching on nonviolence & sacred truths. From the bushes of South Africa to the railroads of India, Mr Gandhi solely endeavoured for the expansion of British Imperialism & its many tentacles. Most of these recounts are taken from the article titled “Did Mahatma Gandhi oppose violence?” by Saswati Sarkar, Shanmukh and Dikgaj. Sources attributed in the article are solely theirs.
Without rambling on unwanted opinions, I shall start quoting Mr Gandhi, right away.
On Sindhi Hindus’ future during the Partition, Gandhi said, “I said that you should suffer bravely, but non-violently unto death. But if you cannot do that and must take a disgraceful surrender of all including honour, your womenfolk and religion, in that case, the only and safe proper course for you to take is migration, not singly, but of all the Hindus and other non-Muslims.” (Harijan, 25-5-1947, Advice to Sind Hindus)
On August 26, 1921, Gandhi commented on the Moplah riots as: “Though I’m here far away in the north-east at present, I have received some reports of the sudden outbreak of violence in Malabar. I am writing this article on the train, on Friday, the Janmashtami day. The reader will have the article in his hands after nine days. Meanwhile, further reports will have appeared. But we can discuss some principles based on the reports already received, regardless of whether the facts turn out to be more serious or less. The Moplahs are Muslims. They have Arab blood in their veins. It is said that their forefathers came from Arabia many years ago and settled in Malabar. They are of a fiery temperament and are said to be easily excitable. They are enraged and resort to violence in a matter of seconds. They have been responsible for many murders. Many years ago a special Act was also passed to subdue them. There are said to be a million of them. The community, though illiterate, is courageous. They have simply no fear of death. They always set out for fighting with a pledge not to return defeated. That is why it is generally said that the Moplahs think nothing of assaulting or killing anyone. Mr Yakub Hussain was stopped and later imprisoned because it was feared that they would break out into violence. It is not clear as yet what led to their present outburst. They are reported to have taken the lives of six officers, four Indian and two British. It is believed that some others also may have been killed. Five hundred Moplahs are believed to have been killed. It is also reported that they have resorted to arson and looting. Calicut and some areas to its north are under martial law at present. Thus, for the time being, progress has been arrested in Malabar and the Government has had its way. It is well versed in the art of suppressing such revolts. Many innocent men must have been, and more will be, killed. Who will come forward to blame the Government? And even if anyone does, what is the chance of the Government paying attention to him?”
There is not a single word about the dead Hindus as one may observe, in Gandhi’s writings. Gandhi’s second letter is equally unsympathetic & indifferent to the Hindus and their plight, as can be seen from his letters on September 8, 1921, from Sylhet. He says this: “Violence and non-violence are two incompatible forces destructive of each other. Non-violence for its success, therefore, needs an entirely non-violent atmosphere. The Moplah outbreak has disturbed the atmosphere, as nothing else has since the inauguration of non-co-operation. I am writing this at Sylhet on the 29th of August. By the time it is in print, much more information will have reached the public. I have only a hazy notion of what has happened. I have seen only three issues of daily papers containing the Associated Press messages. One cannot help noting the careful editing these messages have undergone. But Moplahs have succeeded in taking half a dozen lives and have given already a few hundred. Malabar is under martial law. The reprisals on the part of the Government are still to follow. The braver the insurgents, the sterner the punishment. Such is the law of governments.”
Gandhi’s disingenuous response to the Hindu newspaper on September 16, 1921, when asked about Moplah lawlessness, referring to the Moplah outbreak Gandhi continued:
“I have not yet been able to understand the genesis of the outbreak except the provocation-very great provocation-which I believe was caused when the mosque was surrounded. I do not understand the looting of so many Hindu houses. Whilst was in Calcutta I had what seemed definite information that there were only three cases of forced conversions. But I now understand that some other cases also have been brought to the notice of the Congresspeople and they are very much regretted. The Moplah lawlessness is a thing which takes one back, but I do not think that it seriously interferes with the Hindu-Muslim unity.”
Every popular figure of the Indian Freedom Movement was horrified by the horrendous slaughter of the Hindus except Mr Gandhi.
B. R. Ambedkar said on the rebellion:
“The blood-curdling atrocities committed by the Moplas in Malabar against the Hindus were indescribable. All over Southern India, a wave of horrified feeling had spread among the Hindus of every shade of opinion, which was intensified when certain Khilafat leaders were so misguided as to pass resolutions of congratulations to the Moplas on the brave fight they were conducting for the sake of religion”. Any person could have said that this was too heavy a price for Hindu-Muslim unity. But Mr Gandhi was so much obsessed by the necessity of establishing Hindu-Muslim unity that he was prepared to make light of the doings of the Moplas and the Khilafats who were congratulating them. He spoke of the Mappilas as the “brave God-fearing Moplahs who were fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious.”
B. R. Ambedkar said on the rebellion:
“The Hindus were visited by a dire fate at the hands of the Moplas. Massacres, forcible conversions, desecration of temples, foul outrages upon women, such as ripping open pregnant women, pillage, arson and destruction— in short, all the accompaniments of brutal and unrestrained barbarism, were perpetrated freely by the Moplas upon the Hindus until troops could be hurried to the task of restoring order through a difficult and extensive tract of the country. This was not a Hindu-Moslem riot. This was just a Bartholomew. The number of Hindus who were killed, wounded or converted, is not known. But the number must have been enormous.”
Annie Besant, another freedom fighter, recounts in her two separate articles in New India on 29 November 1921 and 6 December 1921 as to what happened to the Malabar Hindus at the hands of the Mopla Muslims:
“Mr Gandhi…can he not feel a little sympathy for thousands of women left with only rags, driven from home, for little children born of the flying mothers on roads in refuge camps? The misery is beyond description. Girl wives, pretty and sweet, with eyes, half-blind with weeping, distraught with terror; women who have seen their husbands hacked to pieces before their eye, in the way “Moplas consider as religious”; old women tottering, whose faces become written with anguish and who cry at a gentle touch…men who have lost all, hopeless, crushed, desperate…Can you conceive of a more ghastly and inhuman crime than the murders of babies and pregnant women?… A pregnant woman carrying 7 months was cut through the abdomen by a rebel and she was seen lying dead on the way with the dead child projecting out of the womb…Another: a baby of six months was snatched away from the breast of his mother and cut into two pieces… Are these rebels human beings or monsters?”
“A much respected Nayar Lady at Melatur was stripped naked by the rebels in the presence of her husband and brothers, who were made to stand close by with their hands tied behind. When they shut their eyes in abhorrence they were compelled at the point of the sword to open their eyes and witness the rape committed by the brute in their presence.”
Annie Besant adds, on the rebellion:
“They established the Khilafat Raj, crowned a King, murdered and plundered abundantly, and killed or drove away all Hindus who would not apostatise. Somewhere about a lakh, people were driven from their homes with nothing but the clothes they had on, stripped of everything.”
Here is the text of Resolution No. 3 of the Ahmedabad session of the Indian National Congress, where Gandhi was appointed as its sole executive authority, on 24 December 1921, in connection with the Moplah Riots:
“The Congress expresses its firm conviction that the Moplah disturbance was not due to the Non-Co-operation or the Khilafat movement, especially as the…Khilafat preachers were denied access to the affected parts by the District authorities for six months before the disturbance but are due to causes wholly unconnected with the two movements and that the outbreak would not have occurred had the message of non-violence been allowed to reach them. Nevertheless, this Congress… believes that the…disturbance in Malabar could have been prevented by the Government of Madras accepting the proffered assistance of Maulana Yakub Hassan…”
Here is the rebuttal of D.V. Gundappa to INC’s statement:
“We need not…consider the propriety of the blameless [Congress]. We are concerned chiefly with the spirit in which the Congress viewed…responsibility. Firstly, is six months the maximum term for which the seeds of disaffection sown into the mind of a notoriously fanatical population could remain potential? Is it not possible to argue…that the preaching done before six months must have been remarkably good if it could take so fierce…a form in so short a time? … if the message of non-violence was not allowed to reach the Moplahs, was any other message allowed to reach them? And who delivered it? Thirdly, if it is claimed…that…non-violence can quell any kind of armed rising, does it not follow that it should have been conveyed five years ago to England and France and Germany? On the other hand, if the claim…[is that]…non-violence can succeed only with a people in a religious frenzy, are not those who first put them in such frenzy answerable to those who suffer its consequences?”
Swami Shraddhanand in the Liberator of 26 August 1926, says:
“The original resolution condemned the Moplas wholesale for the killing of Hindus and burning of Hindu homes and the forcible conversion to Islam. The Hindu members themselves proposed amendments till it was reduced to condemning only certain individuals who had been guilty of the above crimes. But some of the Moslem leaders could not bear this even. Maulana Fakir and other Maulanas, of course, opposed the resolution and there was no wonder. But I was surprised, an out-and-out Nationalist like Maulana Hasrat Mohani opposed the resolution on the ground that the Mopla country no longer remained Dar-ul-Aman but became Dar-ul-Harab and they suspected the Hindus of collusion with the British enemies of the Moplas. Therefore, the Moplas were right in presenting the Quran or sword to the Hindus. And if the Hindus became Mussalmans to save themselves from death, it was a voluntary change of faith and not forcible conversion—Well, even the harmless resolution condemning some of the Moplas was not unanimously passed but had to be accepted by a majority of votes only.”
The Viceroy, Lord Reading, said:
“Their wanton and unprovoked attack on the Hindus, the all but wholesale looting of their houses in Ernad, etc, the forcible conversion of Hindus at the beginning of the Moplah rebellion and the wholesale conversion of those who stuck to their homes in later stages, the brutal murder of inoffensive Hindus without the slightest reason except that they are “Kafirs” or belonged to the same religion as the policemen, who their mosques, burning of Hindu temples, the outrage on Hindu women and their forcible conversion and marriage by the Moplahs.”
The Rani of Nilambur in a petition to Lady Reading:
“But it is possible that your Ladyship is not fully apprised of all the horrors and atrocities perpetrated by the fiendish rebels; of the many wells and tanks filled up with the mutilated, but often only half dead bodies of our nearest and dearest ones who refused to abandon the faith of our fathers;of pregnant women cut to pieces and left on the roadsides and in the jungles, with the unborn babe protruding from the mangled corpse; of our innocent and helpless children torn from our arms and done to death before our eyes and of our husbands and fathers tortured, flayed and burnt alive; of our hapless sisters forcibly carried away from the midst of kith and kin and subjected to every shame and outrage which the vile and brutal imagination of these inhuman hell-hounds could conceive of; of thousands of our homesteads reduced to cinder-mounds out of sheer savagery and a wanton spirit of destruction; of our places of worship desecrated and destroyed and of the images of the deity shamefully insulted by putting the entrails of slaughtered cows where flower garlands used to lie or else smashed to pieces; of the wholesale looting of hard-earned wealth of generations reducing many who were formerly rich and prosperous to publicly beg for a piece or two in the streets of Calicut, to buy salt or chilly or betel-leaf – rice being mercifully provided by the various relief agencies.”
Citing narratives available to him regarding the actions of the Mappila Jihad during the rebellion, C. Sankaran Nair wrote a strongly worded criticism of Mr Gandhi and his support for the Khilafat Movement, accusing him of being an anarchist. He was highly critical of the “sheer brutality” of the atrocities, & slaughter of Hindus, committed on the Hindu women during the riots, finding them “horrible and unmentionable”. In particular, he referred to a resolution under the Zamorin Raja of the time and an appeal by the Rani of Nilambur. He further wrote:
“The horrid tragedy continued for months. Thousands of Mahomedans were killed and wounded by troops, thousands of Hindus butchered, women subjected to shameful indignities, thousands forcibly converted, persons flayed alive, entire families burnt alive, women it is said hundreds throwing themselves into wells to avoid dishonour, violence and terrorism threatening death standing in the way of reversion to their religion. This is what Malabar, in particular, owes to the Khilafat agitation, to Gandhi and his Hindu friends.”
A conference held at Calicut presided over by the Zamorin of Calicut, the Ruler of Malabar issued a resolution:
“That the conference views with indignation and sorrow the attempts made at various quarters by interested parties to ignore or minimise the crimes committed by the rebels such as: brutally dishonouring women, flaying people alive, wholesale slaughter of men, women, and children, burning alive entire families, forcibly converting people in thousands and slaying those who refused to get converted, throwing half-dead people into wells and leaving the victims to struggle for escape till finally released from their suffering by death, burning a great many and looting practically all Hindu and Christian houses in the disturbed areas in which even Moplah women and children took part and robbed women of even the garments on their bodies, in short reducing the whole non-Muslim population to abject destitution, cruelly insulting the religious sentiments of the Hindus by desecrating and destroying numerous temples in the disturbed areas, killing cows within the temple precincts putting their entrails on the holy image and hanging skulls on the walls and the roofs.”
K. P. Kesava Menon, who was the grandson of the Maharaja of Palakkad, and had been a part of the Khilafat movement said:
“There is no doubt regarding the genesis of the rebellion in 1921. It was born out of police repression. Its chief cause was the excessive violence used by the authorities to suppress the Khilafat Movement, and not any Jenni-Kudiyan conflict, or dispute regarding the mosque. When police atrocities became unbearable, they gave up the vow of non-violence, and decided to meet the violence (by the British police) with violence itself.”
The letter which was written by Varian Kunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, which was appeared in the newspaper The Hindu on October 18, 1921:
“Honoured Editor, I request you to publish the following facts in your paper. According to the Press Reports from Malabar which you will have got, Hindu-Muslim Unity in Malabar has thoroughly ceased to exist. It appears that the report that Hindus are forcibly converted (by any men) is entirely untrue. Such conversions were done by the Government Party and Reserve Policemen in mufti mingling themselves with the rebels (masquerading as rebels.) Moreover, because some Hindu brethren, aiding the military, handed over to the military innocent (Moplahs) who were hiding from the military, a few Hindus have been put to some trouble. Besides, the Nambudiri, who is the cause of this rising, has also similarly suffered. The Hindus are compulsorily impressed by military service. Therefore, several Hindus seek protection in my Hill. Several Moplahs, too, have sought my protection. Now the chief military commander [of the government] is causing Hindus to evacuate from these Taluks. Innocent women and children of Islam, who have done nothing and possess nothing, are not permitted to leave the place. The Hindus are compulsorily impressed by military service. Therefore, several Hindus seek protection on my hill. Several Moplahs, too, have sought my protection. For the last one month and a half, except for the seizure and punishment of the innocent, no purpose has been achieved. Let all the people in the world know this. Let Mahatma Gandhi and Moulana know it. If this letter is not seen published, I will ask your explanation at one time.”
Gandhi was against violence when it came to overthrowing the brutal British authority through revolutionary tactics, for instance how Bose & Bhagat Singh espoused to do, as Gandhi’s nonviolence was based on the religion and nationality of the perpetrator & the victim, he condemned the violent struggle for independence by Indian revolutionaries meanwhile heavily going as far as to support & nurture acts of revolution & rebellion against the overthrow of Islamic Khilafat & calling for the restoration of the Khilafat or Caliphate.
On June 1, 1921, while supporting the Khilafat agitation, he said: “A believer in non-violence is pledged not to resort to violence or physical force either directly or indirectly in defence of anything, but he is not precluded from helping men or institutions that are themselves not based on non-violence. If the reverse were the case, I would for instance be precluded from helping India to attain Swaraj because the future Parliament of India under Swaraj, I know for certain, will be having some military or police forces, or to take a domestic illustration, I would not help a son to secure justice, because forsooth he is not a believer in non-violence…..My business is to refrain from doing any violence myself and to induce by persuasion and service as many as God’s creatures as I can to join me in the belief and practice. But I would be untrue to my faith if I refuse to assist in a just cause any men or measures that did not entirely coincide with the principle of non-violence. I would be promoting violence, if finding the Mussalmans to be in the right, I did not assist them by means strictly non-violent against those who had treacherously plotted the destruction of the dignity of Islam. Even when both parties believe in violence, there is often such a thing as a justice on one side or the other. A robbed man has justice on his side, even though he may be preparing to regain the lost property by force. And it would be accounted as a triumph of non-violence if the injured party could be persuaded to regain his property by methods of Satyagraha, ie, love or soul force rather than a free fight.”
On the Malabar genocide of Hindus, Gandhi retorted against the news of riots perpetrated by the Muslims of Malabar, on December 8, 1921, Gandhi absolved the perpetrators of the unimaginable atrocities during the riots from any responsibility and equated the plight of the rioters to that of their Hindu victims: “Why is it ‘strange’ that I consider the Government solely responsible for the trouble? They could have avoided the trouble by settling the Khilafat question, they could have avoided it by allowing non-co-operators to take the message of non-violence to the Moplahs. The outbreak would not have taken place if the Collector had consulted the religious sentiment of the Moplahs. I do indeed accuse the Government of punishing the Moplahs after they have done the mischief instead of protecting the Hindus from Moplah outrage. Would the Government have acted in the same leisurely fashion if English families had been in danger instead of Hindus, and would it have inhumanly treated so-called rebels had they been Europeans instead of being Moplahs? I am sorry to be forced to the conclusion that the Government are betraying criminal negligence alike in their duty of protecting Hindus and of treating Moplah rebels as human beings.”
On January 26, 1922, he went on to rationalise & justify the Moplah atrocities by blaming it on Hindus’ neglect of them: “Hindus must find out the causes of Moplah fanaticism. They will find that they are not without blame. They have hitherto not cared for the Moplah. They have either treated him as a serf or dreaded him. They have not treated him as a friend and neighbour, to be reformed and respected. It is no use now becoming angry with the Moplahs or the Mussulmans in general.”
In the same article, he commended Maulana Hasrat Mohani who defended the murderers of Hindus: “Maulana Hasrat Mohani is one of our most courageous men. He is strong and unbending. He is frank to a fault. In his insensate hatred of the English Government and possibly even of Englishmen in general, he has seen nothing wrong in anything that the Moplahs have done. Everything is fair in love and war with the Maulana. He has made up his mind that the Moplahs have fought for their religion. And that fact (in his estimation) practically absolves the Moplahs from all blame…..I advise my Malabar friends not to mind the Maulana. Despite his amazingly crude views about religion, there is no greater nationalist nor a greater lover of Hindu-Muslim unity than the Maulana. His heart is sound and superior to his intellect, which, in my humble opinion, has suffered aberration.”
On October 20, 1921, Gandhi wrote in Young India: “And so I feel the Moplah revolt has come as a blessing to a system that is crumbling to pieces by the weight of its enormity…..What was more detestable, the ignorant fanaticism of the Moplah brother, or the cowardliness of the Hindu brother who helplessly muttered the Islamic formula or allowed his tuft of hairs to be cut or his vest to be changed? Let me not be misunderstood. I want both the Hindus and Mussulmans to cultivate the cool courage to die without killing. But if one has not that courage, I want him to cultivate the art of killing and being killed, rather than in a cowardly manner flee from danger. For the latter despite his flight does commit mental himsa. He flees because he has not the courage to be killed in the act of killing.”
Gandhi’s solution for Hindus’ terrible condition during communal violence was simple; Hindus must willfully throw themselves to their killers, for accepting violence & death is equal to nonviolence.
He wrote on January 26, 1922: “I see nothing impossible in asking the Hindus to develop courage and strength to die before accepting forced conversion. I was delighted to be told that there were Hindus who did prefer the Moplah hatchet to forced conversion. If these have died without anger or malice, they have died as truest Hindus because they were truest among Indians and men….. Even so is it more necessary for a Hindu to love the Moplah and the Mussulman more when the latter is likely to injure him or has already injured him….. Hindu help is at the disposal of the Mussulmans, because it is the duty of the Hindus, as neighbours, to give it.”
Quoting Gandhi’s speeches during the freedom movement: “There is nothing brave about dying while killing. It is an illusion of bravery. The true martyr lays down his life without killing. You may turn around and ask whether all Hindus and Sikhs should die. Yes, I would say. Such martyrdom will not be in vain. You may compliment me or curse me for talking in this manner, but I shall only say what I feel in my heart.”
“Hindus should not harbour anger in their hearts against Muslims even if the latter wanted to destroy them. Even if the Muslims want to kill us all we should face death bravely. If they established their rule after killing Hindus we would be ushering in a new world by sacrificing our lives. None should fear death. Birth and death are inevitable for every human being. Why should we then rejoice or grieve? If we die with a smile we shall enter into a new life, we shall be ushering in a new India.”
“If all the Punjab were to die to the last man without killing, Punjab would become immortal. It is more valiant to get killed than to kill. Of course, my condition is that even if we are facing death we must not take up arms against them. But you take up arms and when you are defeated you come to me. Of what help can I be to you in these circumstances? If you cared to listen to me, I could restore calm in Punjab even from here. One thousand lost their lives of course, but not like brave men. I would have liked the sixteen who escaped by hiding to come into the open and courted death. More is the pity. What a difference it would have made if they had bravely offered themselves as a nonviolent, willing sacrifice! Oppose with ahimsa if you can, but go down fighting by all means if you have not the nonviolence of the brave. Do not turn cowards.”
“Today a Hindu from Rawalpindi narrated the tragic events that had taken place there. The villages around Rawalpindi have been reduced to ashes The Hindus of Punjab are seething with anger. The Sikhs say they are followers of Guru Govind Singh who has taught them how to wield the sword. But I would exhort the Hindus and Sikhs again and again not to retaliate. I make bold to say that if Hindus and Sikhs sacrifice their lives at hands of Muslims without rancour or retaliation they will become saviours not only of their religions but also of Islam and the whole world. But Jinnah Saheb presides over a great organisation. Once he has affixed his signature to the appeal, how can even one Hindu be killed at the hands of the Muslims? I would tell the Hindus to face death cheerfully if the Muslims are out to kill them. I would be a real sinner if after being stabbed I wish in my last moment that my son should seek revenge. I must die without rancour.”
Even though Gandhi opposed nonviolence, he gleefully agreed to recruit Indian soldiers for the British forces who were fighting in the World War. Gandhi cried against violence as a vice, but it was perfectly okay to throw Indians in a war not anywhere near their borders. Gandhi said: “Not only did I offer my services (in organising ambulance corps) at the time of the Zulu revolt but before that at the time of the Boer War, and not only did I raise recruits in India during the late war, but I raised an ambulance corps in 1914 in London.”
Gandhi promised JL Maffey, Secretary to the Viceroy on April 30, 1918, that he would be able to recruit a large number of Indians for serving as soldiers if he was given relief regarding a Kaira trouble: “Further I desire relief regarding the Kaira trouble. Relief will entirely disengage me from that preoccupation which I may not entirely set aside. It will also enable me to fall back for war purposes upon my co-workers in Kaira and it may enable me to get recruits from the district. I suppose I must give you something of my record. I was in charge of the Indian Ambulance Corps consisting of 1,100 men during the Boer Campaign and was present at the battles of Colenso, Spionkop and Vaalkranz. I was specially mentioned in General Buller’s despatches. I was in charge of a similar corps of 90 Indians at the time of the Zulu Campaign in 1906, and I was specially thanked.”
Gandhi, in his second letter to JL Maffey, on April 30, 1918, promised to “rain men on the British if he is made the chief recruiting agent in Kaira district: “I would like to do something which Lord Chelmsford would consider to be real war work. I have an idea that, if I became your recruiting agent-in-chief, I might rain men on you.”
Here is Gandhi’s speech at Nadiad on June 22, 1918, where he eulogized the virtues of fighting and dying for the British and learning the ability to bear and use arms: “Sisters and brothers of Kheda district, You are all lovers of Swaraj; some of you are members of the Home Rule League. One meaning of Home Rule is that we should become partners in the Empire. Today we are a subject people. We do not enjoy all the rights of Englishmen. We are not today partners in the Empire as are Canada, South Africa and Australia. We are a dependency. We want the rights of Englishmen, and we aspire to be as many partners in the Empire as the Dominions overseas. We look forward to a time when we may aspire to the Viceregal office. To bring about such a state of things we should have the ability to defend ourselves, that is, the ability to bear arms and to use them.”
Continuing in the same speech that contained his appeal, Gandhi promised his countrymen Swaraj or self-rule (which he had no authority to grant because he was an Indian?) if they would fight for the British – dwindled truth, one could have asked the Mahatma? Further, Gandhi, the prophet of non-violence, had no problems sending “an inexhaustible number of men to fight for the British”: “Partnership in the Empire is our definite goal. We should suffer to the utmost of our ability and even lay down our lives to defend the Empire. If the Empire perishes, with it perish our cherished aspirations. Hence the easiest and the straightest way to win Swaraj is to participate in the defence of the Empire. It is not within our power to give much money. Moreover, it is not money that will win the war. Only an army inexhaustible in number can do it. That army India can supply. If the Empire wins mainly with the help of our army, it is obvious that we would secure the rights we want.”
Gandhi wanted Indians to die for the British: “It is my firm belief that even if the Government desires to prevent us from enlisting in the army and rendering other help by refusing us commissions or by delay in granting them, we must insist upon joining the army.”
Even though Gandhi knew about the great conflict & its future implications on the soldiers fighting it, the scale of violence which would take place on the battlefield, he agreed to recruit Indians to get slaughtered later in the war: “The Government at present wants half a million men for the army. …… I expect from Kheda and Gujarat not 500 or 700 recruits but thousands. If Gujarat wants to save herself from the reproach of effeminacy, she should be prepared to contribute thousands of sepoys.”
Gandhi also eulogized the virtues of sacrificing sons for the glory of the empire. Violence again, but in service of British Imperialism: “I hope also that those who have grown-up sons will not hesitate to send them as recruits. To sacrifice sons in the war ought to be a cause not of pain but pleasure to brave men. The sacrifice of sons at this hour will be a sacrifice for Swaraj. To the women, I request that they should not be alarmed by this appeal but should welcome it. It contains the key to their protection and their honour. There are 600 villages in the Kheda district. Every village has on average a population of over 1,000. If every village gave at least twenty men, Kheda district would be able to raise an army of 12,000 men.”
Gandhi justified violent death in a British war as a mere trifle: “The population of the whole district is seven lakhs and this number will then work out at 1.7 per cent, a rate which is lower than the death rate. If we are not prepared to make even this sacrifice for the Empire, for the sake of Swaraj, no wonder that we should be regarded unworthy of it. If every village gives at least twenty men, on their return from the war they will be the living bulwarks of their village. If they fall on the battlefield, they will immortalise themselves, their village and their country, and twenty freshmen will follow their example and offer themselves for national defence. If we mean to do this, we have no time to lose. I desire that the fittest and the strongest in every village should be selected and their names forwarded. I ask this of you, brothers and sisters. To explain things to you and to answer the many questions that may be raised, meetings will be held in important villages. Volunteers will also go round.”
Gandhi wrote on an enlistment leaflet on July 22, 1918: “Be that as it may, today our salvation lies in helping the British. To help them is to help ourselves. When the interests of the two lie in the same direction, it would be the very height of recklessness for either side to keep thinking of the other’s faults and refuse to go to its help. If a raid were to descend on an enemy of ours in the village in which we are living, and if it threatened the whole village, we would forget our enmity and run to the succour of that enemy and beat back the raiders. The same holds in this war today. To rise against the common danger is not only expediency but our duty as well.”
Gandhi gave speeches on how, five lakh Indians dying for Britain, would prepare fifty lakhs for fighting for the Swaraj: “In preparing five lakhs of men who would be willing to fight to the death, we shall have made fifty lakhs familiar with ‘war’, ‘swaraj’, etc. We want to train five lakhs of free men.” Gandhi considered it a betrayal of Swaraj if Indians do not take up arms in favour of the British: “I would call it a betrayal of the swaraj to which we are all pledged if we refuse to participate in the war at any rate for the sake of that pledge.”
Gandhi called on the Indians to irresistibly embrace violence for the British: “In laying down conditions for joining the army, there is a danger that the occasion to join may slip past and the scheme for Swaraj may be shelved. The security of our nation, as also the certainty of Swaraj, lies only in our joining up. All the parties would agree that our enlisting in the army will in no way harm the cause of swaraj. So, even on a comparative view, of the three the one counsel which advocates enlistment seems to be the best.” Here Gandhi called on the women to sacrifice, and let the men obey the call of duty for the British: “I hope that the comrades of Kheda district will be true to the call of duty and give their names to the volunteers or send them directly to the Ashram. Women will also, I trust, help in this work. I know that some of them dissuade their husbands and sons from enlisting. If they reflect over the matter carefully enough, they will see that it is in their interests, and certainly in the interests of the nation, that their husbands and sons should be brave men.”
On November 5, 25, Gandhi was asked “Were you not helping the cause of war when you, both while in Africa and here, enlisted men for field service? How does it tally with your principle of ahimsa?” He responded: “By enlisting men for ambulance work in South Africa and England, and recruits for field service in India, I helped not the cause of war, but I helped the institution called the British Empire in whose ultimate beneficial character I then believed. My repugnance to war was as strong then as it is today, and I could not then have and would not have shouldered a rifle. But, one’s life is not a single straight line; it is a bundle of duties very often conflicting. And one is called upon continually to make one’s choice between one duty and another.” He continued to insist, as on January 18, 1942, “My resistance to war does not carry me to the point of thwarting those who wish to take part in it. I reason with them. I put before them the better way and leave them to make the choice.”
Madan Lal Dhingra, who was an Indian revolutionary, and a pro-independence activist, when was studying in England, he assassinated William Hutt Curzon Wyllie, a British official.
Madanlal Dhingra took revenge upon the British by assassinating Curzon Wylie on July 1, 1909. In his trial, he said:
“And I maintain that if it is patriotic in an Englishman to fight against the Germans if they were to occupy this country, it is much more justifiable and patriotic in my case to fight against the English. I hold the English people responsible for the murder of 80 million Indian people in the last fifty years, and they are also responsible for taking away 100,000,000 every year from India to this country. I also hold them responsible for the hanging and deportation of my patriotic countrymen, who did just the same as the English people here are advising their countrymen to do. And the Englishman who goes out to India and gets, say, 100 Pounds a month, that simply means that he passes a sentence of death on a thousand of my poor countrymen because these thousand people could easily live on this 100 Pounds, which the Englishman spends mostly on his frivolities and pleasures. Just as the Germans have no right to occupy this country, so the English people have no right to occupy India, and it is perfectly justifiable on our part to kill the Englishman who is polluting our sacred land. I am surprised at the terrible hypocrisy, the farce, and mockery of the English people. They pose as the champions of oppressed humanity – the peoples of the Congo and the people of Russia – when there is terrible oppression and horrible atrocities committed in India; for example, the killing of two million people every year and the outraging of our women. In case this country is occupied by Germans, and the Englishman, not bearing to see the Germans walking with the insolence of conquerors in the streets of London, goes and kills one or two Germans, and that Englishman is held as a patriot by the people of this country, then certainly I am prepared to work for the emancipation of my Motherland. Whatever else I have to say is in the paper before the Court I make this statement, not because I wish to plead for mercy or anything of that kind. I wish that English people should sentence me to death, for, in that case, the vengeance of my countrymen will be all the keener. I put forward this statement to show the justice of my cause to the outside world, and especially to our sympathisers in America and Germany.” He, also, said: “I believe that a nation held down by foreign bayonets is in a perpetual state of war. Since open battle is rendered impossible to a disarmed race, I was attacked by surprise. Since guns were denied to me I drew forth my pistol and fired. Poor in wealth and intellect, a son like myself has nothing else to offer to the mother but his blood. And so I have sacrificed the same on her altar. The only lesson required in India at present is to learn how to die, and the only way to teach it is by dying ourselves. My only prayer to God is that I may be re-born of the same mother and I may re-die in the same sacred cause till the cause is successful. Vande Mataram!”
In “The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of the Empire” a book by Ashwin Desai and Goolam H. Vahid, the authors said:
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi marshalled a group of mostly South African–born Indian stretcher-bearers and marched into the war zone to support fallen British troops. Gandhi saw the war as an opportunity to demonstrate his loyalty to the Empire. In doing so, he hoped to give impetus to his pleas and petitions for Indian equality within South African society as British subjects. Gandhi was seeking equality of a special sort: limited integration into white South African society. The signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging in 1902 brought to an end the violent conflict between Boer and Brit. It did not, however, provide any safeguards for those who were not white and in the years following the war, racial legislation aimed at Indians gathered force. Still, Gandhi did not give up on his belief that protection could be found under the paternal embrace of the Empire. Even with ample evidence of mounting contempt towards Indians by the new British overlords of South Africa, when the Zulus rose against crippling taxes in Natal in 1906, Gandhi marched once again to war as a stretcher-bearer of Empire. There were almost no British casualties. As artillery met assegai, three thousand five hundred Zulu were killed, seven thousand huts were burnt, and thirty thousand people were left homeless (Guy 2006: 170). Gandhi and his coolie Ambulance Corps carried the injured of the marauding white colonial militia and tended the bodies of the native victims of British retribution. At the height of this war, Empire Day was celebrated on 24 May 1906 to commemorate the reign of Queen Victoria who had died in 1901. Gandhi used the occasion to reflect on Empire:
“As the years roll on, the memory of that noble lady remains as fresh as ever. Her interest in India and its people was intense, and in return, she received the whole-hearted affection of India’s millions. . . . The great British Empire has not risen to its present proud position by methods of oppression, nor is it possible to hold that position by the unfair treatment of its loyal subjects. British Indians have always been most devoted to their Sovereign, and the Empire has lost nothing by including them among its subjects. . . . We venture to suggest that, if there were more of Queen Victoria’s spirit of enlightenment put into the affairs of the Empire, we should be worthier followers of so great an Empire-builder (IO: 26 May 1906; CWMG 5: 228).”
Gandhi’s demonstration of loyalty came to nought. Local British administrators snubbed him and ignored his request for reforms.
As Claude Markovits once said: “The iconic image of Gandhi is of a man of God steeped in austerity, sexually renunciate, meditating in his ashram, who the assassin’s bullet providentially transformed into a martyr. All the evidence available, however, points to the real Gandhi as being very different. The contrast between the icon and the blood-and-flesh individual is the result of selective memory.”
Gandhi was everything but a Mahatma, he was a racist, megalomaniac, a pathologically demented person, & lastly a genocide enabler, who worked for the Crown & gave his life serving the British Empire & robbing native Indians of their heritage and faith.
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