From the Archives: ‘No room for communalism in Congress’, says Mahatma Gandhi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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From the Archives: ‘No room for communalism in Congress’, says Mahatma Gandhi

Sep 30, 2023 04:10 PM IST

Gandhiji said that while they were engaged in trying to quench the fire of communal strife in their own country, they must not forget their countrymen abroad.

The “bhajan” of the evening said that a man’s highest endeavour lay in trying to find God, said Mahatma Gandhi addressing the post-prayer gathering yesterday. He could not be found in temples or idols or places of worship built by man’s hands, nor could He be found by abstinence, added Gandhiji. God could be found only through love, not earthly, but divine. That love was lived by Mira-bai who saw God in everything. He was all in all to her.

Mahatma Gandhi with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. (HT file photo) PREMIUM
Mahatma Gandhi with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. (HT file photo)

The “bhajan” of the evening said that a man’s highest endeavour lay in trying to find God, said Mahatma Gandhi addressing the post-prayer gathering yesterday. He could not be found in temples or idols or places of worship built by man’s hands, nor could He be found by abstinence, added Gandhiji. God could be found only through love, not earthly, but divine. That love was lived by Mira-bai who saw God in everything. He was all in all to her.

Applying the refrain of the bhajan in daily life. Gandhiji went on to talk of Rampur State. Its ruler was a Muslim but that did not mean that it was necessarily a Muslim State.

Many years ago, Gandhiji had been taken there by the late Ali brothers and had stayed there in their house. He had the pleasure of meeting the then Nawab Saheb also for he was a friend of the well-known Nationalist Muslims of the day, the late Hakim Ajmal Khan and the late Dr Ansari. Hindus and Muslims used to live in comparative peace and amity then.

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But the Hindu friends from there who came to see Gandhiji today told him a different story. They said that though the State had acceded to the Indian Union, the insidious influence of the Muslim League, was there. If that were the only obstacle, they might have overcome it easily. But there was the Hindu Mahasabha assisted by the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh men whose ambition was to rid the Union of all Muslims.

Congress creed broad based

The question was how the Congressmen who were true to their Congress objective, were to make their position good. Could they offer satyagraha with a hope of success!

It gladdened their heart that the AICC was staunch to the Congress objective and refused to envisage an India in which only Hindus could live as masters. The Congress creed was broad based enough to include all communities. There was no room in it for narrow communalism. It was the oldest of all political organizations. Its motto was service of the people.

All that was happening in the AICC nerved them for the struggle. Nevertheless, they wanted a word from him. Gandhiji said he could not lay down the law for them as he had no knowledge of the local circumstances. Nor had he the time for any such study. But he could say with confidence that satyagraha was the mightiest force in the world before which the hostile combination his visitors had mentioned could not stand for any length of time.

ALSO READ: ‘Driving out Muslims will ruin Hinduism’, says Gandhiji

Misuse of Satyagraha

It was the fashion nowadays to use the word satyagraha for any kind of resistance, armed or otherwise. This looseness harmed the community and degraded satyagraha. If therefore, they understood all the implications of satyagraha and knew that the living God of Truth and Love was with satyagrahi, they would have no hesitation in believing that it was invincible.

Gandhiji said he was sorry to say what he did about the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh. He would be glad to find that he was wrong. He had seen the chief of the Sangh. He had also attended a meeting of the members of the RSS. Since then, he had been upbraided for having gone to the meeting and had many letters of complaints about the organisation.

Indians abroad

Gandhiji then said that while they were all engaged in trying to quench the fire of communal strife in their own country, they must not forget their countrymen abroad. He referred to the Indian case which was being fought with such unity and gallantry by the Indian delegation before UNO.

They all knew Shrimati Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. She was not there because she was Pandit Jawaharlal’s sister but because she was able and did her work efficiently. She had a good team with her and they were all speaking with one voice. What had pleased him immensely, Gandhi said, was Ispakani Saheb and Zafarulla Saheb’s speeches reported in the Press. They told their audience in plain language how Indians were being discriminated against in South Africa and treated as outcasts.

These Indians in South Africa were not penniless, they were not hungry but man could not live by bread alone and money was nothing as compared with human rights which were denied them by the South African Government.

No Difference of Opinion

Hindus and Muslims in India had no different opinions on the question of Indians overseas which went to prove that the two-nation theory was incorrect. The lesson Gandhiji had learnt from this and what he wanted the audience also to learn from what he had said was that love was the highest thing. If Hindus and Muslims could speak with one voice abroad, they could certainly do so here if they had love in their hearts.

To err was human. It was also human to mend one’s ways to forgive and forget was always possible. If they could do that today and speak with one voice here as they did abroad, they would surely win through. So far as South Africa was concerned, he hoped that the Government and the Whites of South Africa would profit by what was being said in this matter by distinguished Hindus and Muslims and that with one voice.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

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