There has to be a concomitant moral response to why people are driven to destroy one another. To do this here are some salient instructions to follow. Moral rights are a necessity and the way to begin this dialogue is with those whose dignities were violated beyond human recognition. It is a belief that moral human beings have to accept the values of those who survived the horrors of war as the standards of moral righteousness and therefore rights. Blasphemy against God are crimes and no one human being is blameless in this regard. The task lies now in identifying and removing that blasphemy as a means of resurrecting moral law. It is probably hubris to claim that victims of world war II, especially those who perished in labor camps both in Europe and in South Asia, the Jews and those under the rule of a deceitful dictatorship. Non-violent movements during that time is as good place as any to begin such a conversation. But these two events come up over and over again as crimes that are not acceptable. They are not forgivable and never will be because the incidents also were connected to the affairs of God in our lives. The Shoah is not something God accepted, and brutality as a means of living is also not what a loving God accepted. Therefore, the number one lesson that we must draw as moral is that one does not make victimhood a right to their personhood but rather a place of moral contestations. EVERYONE should be a part of this important appeal as it pertains to self-government demonstrated by MK Gandhi and by ambitious democracies in the world such as Israel. Proponents of terror such as ISIS and AlQeida are ruled by the same laws that govern Blasphemy in religion. Their blasphemous activities injure and remove the one on one relationship that human beings are ENTITLED to have with God. No one has the right to take this humanity away. Laws from important religious authorities such as the ones in Jerusalem will take being to take into account events and judge them accordingly. Thus, if one is a terrorist or is training to become one, they should know that the hand of justice is going to reach out to them and mete out concomitant punishment. The only relationship to law a human being has in our world is with free individuals. God is widely acknowledged as the chief advocate of liberty and thus of a different dimension of human freedom, moral liberty. We need God’s help to repair lives and the only way to accomplish is to obey his works. Licentious, predatory, incriminating and other murderous acts that plague our world today have to be accounted for. Both free and enslaved human beings if they espouse the validity of truth dejure establishes all laws, criminal, civil, moral, commercial and so and so forth. Such is the power of truth in action. It is then easy to remove corrupt and disgraced people, whether they are governments, politicians, terrorists, gangsters, law enforcement and every other kind of human being. Without God life is unlivable and this is a moral reality we all accept whether we are religious adherents or adherents of a greater power than ourselves. This is the ONLY way to curb human egotism, the culprit of all actions in this world and beyond.
Gandhi saw himself a disciple of Tolstoy, for they agreed regarding opposition to state authority and colonialism; both hated violence and preached non-resistance. However, they differed sharply on political strategy. Gandhi called for political involvement; he was a nationalist and was prepared to use nonviolent force. He was also willing to compromise.
The letter printed below is a translation of Tolstoy’s letter written in Russian in reply to one from the Editor of Free Hindustan. After having passed from hand to hand, this letter at last came into my possession through a friend who asked me, as one much interested in Tolstoy’s writings, whether I thought it worth publishing. I at once replied in the affirmative, and told him I should translate it myself into Gujarati and induce others’ to translate and publish it in various Indian vernaculars. The letter as received by me was a type-written copy. It was therefore referred to the author, who confirmed it as his and kindly granted me permission to print it. To me, as a humble follower of that great teacher whom I have long looked upon as one of my guides, it is a matter of honor to be connected with the publication of his letter, such especially as the one which is now being given to the world. It is a mere statement of fact to say that every Indian, whether he owns up to it or not, has national aspirations. But there are as many opinions as there are Indian nationalists as to the exact meaning of that aspiration, and more especially as to the methods to be used to attain the end. One of the accepted and ‘time-honoured’ methods to attain the end is that of violence. The assassination of Sir Curzon Wylie was an illustration of that method in its worst and most detestable form. Tolstoy’s life has been devoted to replacing the method of violence for removing tyranny or securing reform by the method of non-resistance to evil. He would meet hatred expressed in violence by love expressed in self-suffering. He admits of no exception to whittle down this great and divine law of love. He applies it to all the problems that trouble mankind. When a man like Tolstoy, one of the clearest thinkers in the western world, one of the greatest writers, one who as a soldier has known what violence is and what it can do, condemns Japan for having blindly followed the law of modern science, falsely so-called, and fears for that country ‘the greatest calamities’, it is for us to pause and consider whether, in our impatience of English rule, we do not want to replace one evil by another and a worse. India, which is the nursery of the great faiths of the world, will cease to be nationalist India, whatever else she may become, when she goes through the process of civilization in the shape of reproduction on that sacred soil of gun factories and the hateful industrialism which has reduced the people of Europe to a state of slavery, and all but stifled among them the best instincts which are the heritage of the human family. If we do not want the English in India we must pay the price. Tolstoy indicates it. ‘Do not resist evil, but also do not yourselves participate in evil–in the violent deeds of the administration of the law courts, the collection of taxes and, what is more important, of the soldiers, and no one in the world will enslave you’, passionately declares the sage of Yasnaya Polyana. Who can question the truth of what he says in the following: ‘A commercial company enslaved a nation comprising two hundred millions. Tell this to a man free from superstition and he will fail to grasp what these words mean. What does it mean that thirty thousand people, not athletes, but rather weak and ordinary people, have enslaved two hundred millions of vigorous, clever, capable, freedom-loving people? Do not the figures make it clear that not the English, but the Indians, have enslaved themselves?’ One need not accept all that Tolstoy says–some of his facts are not accurately stated–to realize the central truth of his indictment of the present system, which is to understand and act upon the irresistible power of the soul over the body, of love, which is an attribute of the soul, over the brute or body force generated by the stirring in us of evil passions. There is no doubt that there is nothing new in what Tolstoy preaches. But his presentation of the old truth is refreshingly forceful. His logic is unassailable. And above all he endeavours to practise what he preaches. He preaches to convince. He is sincere and in earnest. He commands attention. [19th November, 1909.] M. K. GANDHI
A Letter To A Hindu
All that exists is One. People only call this One by different names.~THE VEDAS. God is love, and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.~I JOHN iv. 16. God is one whole; we are the parts.~EXPOSITION OF THE TEACHING OF THE VEDAS BY VIVEKANANDA. Do not seek quiet and rest in those earthly realms where delusions and desires are engendered, for if thou dost, thou wilt be dragged through the rough wilderness of life, which is far from Me. Whenever thou feelest that thy feet are becoming entangled in the interlaced roots of life, know that thou has strayed from the path to which I beckon thee: for I have placed thee in broad, smooth paths, which are strewn with flowers. I have put a light before thee, which thou canst follow and thus run without stumbling. ~KRISHNA.
I have received your letter and two numbers of your periodical, both of which interest me extremely. The oppression of a majority by a minority, and the demoralization inevitably resulting from it, is a phenomenon that has always occupied me and has done so most particularly of late. I will try to explain to you what I think about that subject in general, and particularly about the cause from which the dreadful evils of which you write in your letter, and in the Hindu periodical you have sent me, have arisen and continue to arise. The reason for the astonishing fact that a majority of working people submit to a handful of idlers who control their labour and their very lives is always and everywhere the same–whether the oppressors and oppressed are of one race or whether, as in India and elsewhere, the oppressors are of a different nation. This phenomenon seems particularly strange in India, for there more than two hundred million people, highly gifted both physically and mentally, find themselves in the power of a small group of people quite alien to them in thought, and immeasurably inferior to them in religious morality. From your letter and the articles in Free Hindustan as well as from the very interesting writings of the Hindu Swami Vivekananda and others, it appears that, as is the case in our time with the ills of all nations, the reason lies in the lack of a reasonable religious teaching which by explaining the meaning of life would supply a supreme law for the guidance of conduct and would replace the more than dubious precepts of pseudo- religion and pseudo-science with the immoral conclusions deduced from them and commonly called ‘civilization’. Your letter, as well as the articles in Free Hindustan and Indian political literature generally, shows that most of the leaders of public opinion among your people no longer attach any significance to the religious teachings that were and are professed by the peoples of India, and recognize no possibility of freeing the people from the oppression they endure except by adopting the irreligious and profoundly immoral social arrangements under which the English and other pseudo-Christian nations live to-day. And yet the chief if not the sole cause of the enslavement of the Indian peoples by the English lies in this very absence of a religious consciousness and of the guidance for conduct which should flow from it–a lack common in our day to all nations East and West, from Japan to England and America alike.
O ye, who see perplexities over your heads, beneath your feet, and to the right and left of you; you will be an eternal enigma unto yourselves until ye become humble and joyful as children. Then will ye find Me, and having found Me in yourselves, you will rule over worlds, and looking out from the great world within to the little world without, you will bless everything that is, and find all is well with time and with you. ~KRISHNA.
To make my thoughts clear to you I must go farther back. We do not, cannot, and I venture to say need not, know how men lived millions of years ago or even ten thousand years ago, but we do know positively that, as far back as we have any knowledge of mankind, it has always lived in special groups of families, tribes, and nations in which the majority, in the conviction that it must be so, submissively and willingly bowed to the rule of one or more persons–that is to a very small minority. Despite all varieties of circumstances and personalities these relations manifested themselves among the various peoples of whose origin we have any knowledge; and the farther back we go the more absolutely necessary did this arrangement appear, both to the rulers and the ruled, to make it possible for people to live peacefully together. So it was everywhere. But though this external form of life existed for centuries and still exists, very early–thousands of years before our time–amid this life based on coercion, one and the same thought constantly emerged among different nations, namely, that in every individual a spiritual element is manifested that gives life to all that exists, and that this spiritual element strives to unite with everything of a like nature to itself, and attains this aim through love. This thought appeared in most various forms at different times and places, with varying completeness and clarity. It found expression in Brahmanism, Judaism, Mazdaism (the teachings of Zoroaster), in Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and in the writings of the Greek and Roman sages, as well as in Christianity and Mohammedanism. The mere fact that this thought has sprung up among different nations and at different times indicates that it is inherent in human nature and contains the truth. But this truth was made known to people who considered that a community could only be kept together if some of them restrained others, and so it appeared quite irreconcilable with the existing order of society. Moreover, it was at first expressed only fragmentarily, and so obscurely that though people admitted its theoretic truth they could not entirely accept it as guidance for their conduct. Then, too, the dissemination of the truth in a society based on coercion was always hindered in one and the same manner, namely, those in power, feeling that the recognition of this truth would undermine their position, consciously or sometimes unconsciously perverted it by explanations and additions quite foreign to it, and also opposed it by open violence. Thus the truth–that his life should be directed by the spiritual element which is its basis, which manifests itself as love, and which is so natural to man–this truth, in order to force a way to man’s consciousness, had to struggle not merely against the obscurity with which it was expressed and the intentional and unintentional distortions surrounding it, but also against deliberate violence, which by means of persecutions and punishments sought to compel men to accept religious laws authorized by the rulers and conflicting with the truth. Such a hindrance and misrepresentation of the truth–which had not yet achieved complete clarity–occurred everywhere: in Confucianism and Taoism, in Buddhism and in Christianity, in Mohammedanism and in your Brahmanism.
My hand has sown love everywhere, giving unto all that will receive. Blessings are offered unto all My children, but many times in their blindness they fail to see them. How few there are who gather the gifts which lie in profusion at their feet: how many there are, who, in wilful waywardness, turn their eyes away from them and complain with a wail that they have not that which I have given them; many of them defiantly repudiate not only My gifts, but Me also, Me, the Source of all blessings and the Author of their being. I tarry awhile from the turmoil and strife of the world. I will beautify and quicken thy life with love and with joy, for the light of the soul is Love. Where Love is, there is contentment and peace, and where there is contentment and peace, there am I, also, in their midst. ~KRISHNA.
The aim of the sinless One consists in acting without causing sorrow to others, although he could attain to great power by ignoring their feelings. The aim of the sinless One lies in not doing evil unto those who have done evil unto him. If a man causes suffering even to those who hate him without any reason, he will ultimately have grief not to be overcome. The punishment of evil doers consists in making them feel ashamed of themselves by doing them a great kindness. Of what use is superior knowledge in the one, if he does not endeavor to relieve his neighbor’s want as much as his own? If, in the morning, a man wishes to do evil unto another, in the evening the evil will return to him.
Thus it went on everywhere. The recognition that love represents the highest morality was nowhere denied or contradicted, but this truth was so interwoven everywhere with all kinds of falsehoods which distorted it, that finally nothing of it remained but words. It was taught that this highest morality was only applicable to private life–for home use, as it were–but that in public life all forms of violence–such as imprisonment, executions, and wars–might be used for the protection of the majority against a minority of evildoers, though such means were diametrically opposed to any vestige of love. And though common sense indicated that if some men claim to decide who is to be subjected to violence of all kinds for the benefit of others, these men to whom violence is applied may, in turn, arrive at a similar conclusion with regard to those who have employed violence to them, and though the great religious teachers of Brahmanism, Buddhism, and above all of Christianity, foreseeing such a perversion of the law of love, have constantly drawn attention to the one invariable condition of love (namely, the enduring of injuries, insults, and violence of all kinds without resisting evil by evil) people continued–regardless of all that leads man forward–to try to unite the incompatibles: the virtue of love, and what is opposed to love, namely, the restraining of evil by violence. And such a teaching, despite its inner contradiction, was so firmly established that the very people who recognize love as a virtue accept as lawful at the same time an order of life based on violence and allowing men not merely to torture but even to kill one another. For a long time people lived in this obvious contradiction without noticing it. But a time arrived when this contradiction became more and more evident to thinkers of various nations. And the old and simple truth that it is natural for men to help and to love one another, but not to torture and to kill one another, became ever clearer, so that fewer and fewer people were able to believe the sophistries by which the distortion of the truth had been made so plausible. In former times the chief method of justifying the use of violence and thereby infringing the law of love was by claiming a divine right for the rulers: the Tsars, Sultans, Rajahs, Shahs, and other heads of states. But the longer humanity lived the weaker grew the belief in this peculiar, God–given right of the ruler. That belief withered in the same way and almost simultaneously in the Christian and the Brahman world, as well as in Buddhist and Confucian spheres, and in recent times it has so faded away as to prevail no longer against man’s reasonable understanding and the true religious feeling. People saw more and more clearly, and now the majority see quite clearly, the senselessness and immorality of subordinating their wills to those of other people just like themselves, when they are bidden to do what is contrary not only to their interests but also to their moral sense. And so one might suppose that having lost confidence in any religious authority for a belief in the divinity of potentates of various kinds, people would try to free themselves from subjection to it. But unfortunately not only were the rulers, who were considered supernatural beings, benefited by having the peoples in subjection, but as a result of the belief in, and during the rule of, these pseudo-divine beings, ever larger and larger circles of people grouped and established themselves around them, and under an appearance of governing took advantage of the people. And when the old deception of a supernatural and God-appointed authority had dwindled away these men were only concerned to devise a new one which like its predecessor should make it possible to hold the people in bondage to a limited number of rulers.
Children, do you want to know by what your hearts should be guided? Throw aside your longings and strivings after that which is null and void; get rid of your erroneous thoughts about happiness and wisdom, and your empty and insincere desires. Dispense with these and you will know Love. Be not the destroyers of yourselves. Arise to your true Being, and then you will have nothing to fear. ~KRISHNA.
New justifications have now appeared in place of the antiquated, obsolete, religious ones. These new justifications are just as inadequate as the old ones, but as they are new their futility cannot immediately be recognized by the majority of men. Besides this, those who enjoy power propagate these new sophistries and support them so skilfully that they seem irrefutable even to many of those who suffer from the oppression these theories seek to justify. These new justifications are termed ‘scientific’. But by the term ‘scientific’ is understood just what was formerly understood by the term ‘religious’: just as formerly everything called ‘religious’ was held to be unquestionable simply because it was called religious, so now all that is called ‘scientific’ is held to be unquestionable. In the present case the obsolete religious justification of violence which consisted in the recognition of the supernatural personality of the God-ordained ruler (‘there is no power but of God’) has been superseded by the ‘scientific’ justification which puts forward, first, the assertion that because the coercion of man by man has existed in all ages, it follows that such coercion must continue to exist. This assertion that people should continue to live as they have done throughout past ages rather than as their reason and conscience indicate, is what ‘science’ calls ‘the historic law’. A further ‘scientific’ justification lies in the statement that as among plants and wild beasts there is a constant struggle for existence which always results in the survival of the fittest, a similar struggle should be carried on among human beings–beings, that is, who are gifted with intelligence and love; faculties lacking in the creatures subject to the struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. Such is the second ‘scientific’ justification. The third, most important, and unfortunately most widespread justification is, at bottom, the age-old religious one just a little altered: that in public life the suppression of some for the protection of the majority cannot be avoided–so that coercion is unavoidable however desirable reliance on love alone might be in human intercourse. The only difference in this justification by pseudo-science consists in the fact that, to the question why such and such people and not others have the right to decide against whom violence may and must be used, pseudo-science now gives a different reply to that given by religion–which declared that the right to decide was valid because it was pronounced by persons possessed of divine power. ‘Science’ says that these decisions represent the will of the people, which under a constitutional form of government is supposed to find expression in all the decisions and actions of those who are at the helm at the moment. Such are the scientific justifications of the principle of coercion. They are not merely weak but absolutely invalid, yet they are so much needed by those who occupy privileged positions that they believe in them as blindly as they formerly believed in the immaculate conception, and propagate them just as confidently. And the unfortunate majority of men bound to toil is so dazzled by the pomp with which these ‘scientific truths’ are presented, that under this new influence it accepts these scientific stupidities for holy truth, just as it formerly accepted the pseudo-religious justifications; and it continues to submit to the present holders of power who are just as hard-hearted but rather more numerous than before.
Who am I? I am that which thou hast searched for since thy baby eyes gazed wonderingly upon the world, whose horizon hides this real life from thee. I am that which in thy heart thou hast prayed for, demanded as thy birthright, although thou hast not known what it was. I am that which has lain in thy soul for hundreds and thousands of years. Sometimes I lay in thee grieving because thou didst not recognize me; sometimes I raised my head, opened my eyes, and extended my arms calling thee either tenderly and quietly, or strenuously, demanding that thou shouldst rebel against the iron chains which bound thee to the earth. ~KRISHNA.
So matters went on, and still go on, in the Christian world. But we might have hope that in the immense Brahman, Buddhist, and Confucian worlds this new scientific superstition would not establish itself, and that the Chinese, Japanese, and Hindus, once their eyes were opened to the religious fraud justifying violence, would advance directly to a recognition of the law of love inherent in humanity, and which had been so forcibly enunciated by the great Eastern teachers. But what has happened is that the scientific superstition replacing the religious one has been accepted and secured a stronger and stronger hold in the East. In your periodical you set out as the basic principle which should guide the actions of your people the maxim that: ‘Resistance to aggression is not simply justifiable but imperative, nonresistance hurts both Altruism and Egotism.’ Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills, and in it you too have the only method of saving your people from enslavement. In very ancient times love was proclaimed with special strength and clearness among your people to be the religious basis of human life. Love, and forcible resistance to evil-doers, involve such a mutual contradiction as to destroy utterly the whole sense and meaning of the conception of love. And what follows? With a light heart and in the twentieth century you, an adherent of a religious people, deny their law, feeling convinced of your scientific enlightenment and your right to do so, and you repeat (do not take this amiss) the amazing stupidity indoctrinated in you by the advocates of the use of violence–the enemies of truth, the servants first of theology and then of science–your European teachers. You say that the English have enslaved your people and hold them in subjection because the latter have not resisted resolutely enough and have not met force by force. But the case is just the opposite. If the English have enslaved the people of India it is just because the latter recognized, and still recognize, force as the fundamental principle of the social order. In accord with that principle they submitted to their little rajahs, and on their behalf struggled against one another, fought the Europeans, the English, and are now trying to fight with them again. A commercial company enslaved a nation comprising two hundred million. Tell this to a man free from superstition and he will fail to grasp what these words mean. What does it mean that thirty thousand men, not athletes but rather weak and ordinary people, have subdued two hundred million vigorous, clever, capable, and freedom-loving people? Do not the figures make it clear that it is not the English who have enslaved the Indians, but the Indians who have enslaved themselves? When the Indians complain that the English have enslaved them it is as if drunkards complained that the spirit-dealers who have settled among them have enslaved them. You tell them that they might give up drinking, but they reply that they are so accustomed to it that they cannot abstain, and that they must have alcohol to keep up their energy. Is it not the same thing with the millions of people who submit to thousands’ or even to hundreds, of others–of their own or other nations? If the people of India are enslaved by violence it is only because they themselves live and have lived by violence, and do not recognize the eternal law of love inherent in humanity. Pitiful and foolish is the man who seeks what he already has, and does not know that he has it. Yes, Pitiful and foolish is he who does not know the bliss of love which surrounds him and which I have given him.~KRISHNA.
As soon as men live entirely in accord with the law of love natural to their hearts and now revealed to them, which excludes all resistance by violence, and therefore hold aloof from all participation in violence–as soon as this happens, not only will hundreds be unable to enslave millions, but not even millions will be able to enslave a single individual. Do not resist the evil-doer and take no part in doing so, either in the violent deeds of the administration, in the law courts, the collection of taxes, or above all in soldiering, and no one in the world will be able to enslave you.
O ye who sit in bondage and continually seek and pant for freedom, seek only for love. Love is peace in itself and peace which gives complete satisfaction. I am the key that opens the portal to the rarely discovered land where contentment alone is found. ~KRISHNA.
What is now happening to the people of the East as of the West is like what happens to every individual when he passes from childhood to adolescence and from youth to manhood. He loses what had hitherto guided his life and lives without direction, not having found a new standard suitable to his age, and so he invents all sorts of occupations, cares, distractions, and stupefactions to divert his attention from the misery and senselessness of his life. Such a condition may last a long time. When an individual passes from one period of life to another a time comes when he cannot go on in senseless activity and excitement as before, but has to understand that although he has outgrown what before used to direct him, this does not mean that he must live without any reasonable guidance, but rather that he must formulate for himself an understanding of life corresponding to his age, and having elucidated it must be guided by it. And in the same way a similar time must come in the growth and development of humanity. I believe that such a time has now arrived–not in the sense that it has come in the year 1908, but that the inherent contradiction of human life has now reached an extreme degree of tension: on the one side there is the consciousness of the beneficence of the law of love, and on the other the existing order of life which has for centuries occasioned an empty, anxious, restless, and troubled mode of life, conflicting as it does with the law of love and built on the use of violence. This contradiction must be faced, and the solution will evidently not be favourable to the outlived law of violence, but to the truth which has dwelt in the hearts of men from remote antiquity: the truth that the law of love is in accord with the nature of man. But men can only recognize this truth to its full extent when they have completely freed themselves from all religious and scientific superstitions and from all the consequent misrepresentations and sophistical distortions by which its recognition has been hindered for centuries. To save a sinking ship it is necessary to throw overboard the ballast, which though it may once have been needed would now cause the ship to sink. And so it is with the scientific superstition which hides the truth of their welfare from mankind. In order that men should embrace the truth–not in the vague way they did in childhood, nor in the one-sided and perverted way presented to them by their religious and scientific teachers, but embrace it as their highest law–the complete liberation of this truth from all and every superstition (both pseudo-religious and pseudo-scientific) by which it is still obscured is essential: not a partial, timid attempt, reckoning with traditions sanctified by age and with the habits of the people–not such as was effected in the religious sphere by Guru-Nanak, the founder of the sect of the Sikhs, and in the Christian world by Luther, and by similar reformers in other religions–but a fundamental cleansing of religious consciousness from all ancient religious and modern scientific superstitions. If only people freed themselves from their beliefs in all kinds of Ormuzds, Brahmas, Sabbaoths, and their incarnation as Krishnas and Christs, from beliefs in Paradises and Hells, in reincarnations and resurrections, from belief in the interference of the Gods in the external affairs of the universe, and above all, if they freed themselves from belief in the infallibility of all the various Vedas, Bibles, Gospels, Tripitakas, Korans, and the like, and also freed themselves from blind belief in a variety of scientific teachings about infinitely small atoms and molecules and in all the infinitely great and infinitely remote worlds, their movements and origin, as well as from faith in the infallibility of the scientific law to which humanity is at present subjected: the historic law, the economic laws, the law of struggle and survival, and so on–if people only freed themselves from this terrible accumulation of futile exercises of our lower capacities of mind and memory called the ‘Sciences’, and from the innumerable divisions of all sorts of histories, anthropologies, homiletics, bacteriologics, jurisprudences, cosmographies, strategies–their name is legion–and freed themselves from all this harmful, stupifying ballast–the simple law of love, natural to man, accessible to all and solving all questions and perplexities, would of itself become clear and obligatory.
Children, look at the flowers at your feet; do not trample upon them. Look at the love in your midst and do not repudiate it. ~KRISHNA. There is a higher reason which transcends all human minds. It is far and near. It permeates all the worlds and at the same time is infinitely higher than they. A man who sees that all things are contained in the higher spirit cannot treat any being with contempt. For him to whom all spiritual beings are equal to the highest there can be no room for deception or grief. Those who are ignorant and are devoted to the religious rites only, are in a deep gloom, but those who are given up to fruitless meditations are in a still greater darkness. ~UPANISHADS, FROM VEDAS.
Yes, in our time all these things must be cleared away in order that mankind may escape from self-inflicted calamities that have reached an extreme intensity. Whether an Indian seeks liberation from subjection to the English, or anyone else struggles with an oppressor either of his own nationality or of another–whether it be a Negro defending himself against the North Americans; or Persians, Russians, or Turks against the Persian, Russian, or Turkish governments, or any man seeking the greatest welfare for himself and for everybody else–they do not need explanations and justifications of old religious superstitions such as have been formulated by your Vivekanandas, Baba Bharatis, and others, or in the Christian world by a number of similar interpreters and exponents of things that nobody needs; nor the innumerable scientific theories about matters not only unnecessary but for the most part harmful. (In the spiritual realm nothing is indifferent: what is not useful is harmful.) What are wanted for the Indian as for the Englishman, the Frenchman, the German, and the Russian, are not Constitutions and Revolutions, nor all sorts of Conferences and Congresses, nor the many ingenious devices for submarine navigation and aerial navigation, nor powerful explosives, nor all sorts of conveniences to add to the enjoyment of the rich, ruling classes; nor new schools and universities with innumerable faculties of science, nor an augmentation of papers and books, nor gramophones and cinematographs, nor those childish and for the most part corrupt stupidities termed art–but one thing only is needful: the knowledge of the simple and clear truth which finds place in every soul that is not stupefied by religious and scientific superstitions–the truth that for our life one law is valid–the law of love, which brings the highest happiness to every individual as well as to all mankind. Free your minds from those overgrown, mountainous imbecilities which hinder your recognition of it, and at once the truth will emerge from amid the pseudo-religious nonsense that has been smothering it: the indubitable, eternal truth inherent in man, which is one and the same in all the great religions of the world. It will in due time emerge and make its way to general recognition, and the nonsense that has obscured it will disappear of itself, and with it will go the evil from which humanity now suffers.
Children, look upwards with your beclouded eyes, and a world full of joy and love will disclose itself to you, a rational world made by My wisdom, the only real world. Then you will know what love has done with you, what love has bestowed upon you, what love demands from you. ~KRISHNA. YASNAYA POLYANA. December 14th, 1908.
Literature Network »» A Letter to A Hindu
GANDHI: If I had been still alive at the time of your death, Sir Winston, I should have found it difficult to say very much that was favourable in your behalf. I hope you will at least appreciate the frankness of this confession.
CHURCHILL: Not only its frankness, Mr. Gandhi, but its justice. -After all, I had no kind words to offer in your behalf upon your death.
GANDHI: Nor indeed during my life. I fear I never struck you as being much better than, as you put it, “a half-naked fakir.”
CHURCHILL: That, sir, is a misquotation. What I really said was rather more severe. I called you a “seditious fakir.”
GANDHI: Well, I do not take it unkindly that you should have called me either “half-naked” or “seditious.” For, indeed, both were true of me: I was a revolutionary in a loincloth and am not insulted to have you say so. But that you should call me a “fakir”-a monk. I know what insult you intended by this. You intended to deny me the honour of sharing your own calling-that of a statesman.
CHURCHILL: Exactly so. Though why you should feel insulted by this I’m sure I don’t understand. It was just as much a statement of fact as that you were “seditious.” A monk, a mystic, a visionary-you might have been any of these. But a statesman-never!
GANDHI: I hope you will explain this to me, Sir Winston. A statesman is one who leads people, is he not? You must admit that many people followed where I led-in fact, many more, I think, than ever followed’ you.
CHURCHILL: A great many children followed Stephen of Vendome on the Children’s Crusade. This did not make Stephen a statesman. For similar reasons of religious delusion, many millions followed you into a collective act of rebellion and folly for which your country is still paying the price of disunity and poverty. No sir, a statesman is not simply any Pied Piper who can beguile a crowd into following at his heels. That is far too simple. He is essentially a man who pursues realistic goals with a realistic appreciation of
GANDHI: I shall leave to one side the question of who bears the responsibility for both India’s disunity and her poverty. I doubt this is a matter that any British politician could pursue very far without embarrassment. But surely, Sir Winston, you must give me credit for understanding how to wield power. Else how should I have managed to arouse so many millions to the struggle for independence?
CHURCHILL: You did that, of course, by playing freely upon their religious sensibilities, by indiscriminately stirring their moral passion.
GANDHI: But if this is a transgression, you clearly stand condemned of it yourself. After all, it was your gift of eloquence that inspired the British to their heroic war effort. My fasting and preaching was but the Indian counterpart of your magnificent BBC broadcasts. It seems to me we both stirred our people’s moral passion, for we both knew that a people’s moral passion is the greatest source of political power.
CHURCHILL: Ah, but I spoke of a “realistic appreciation of power.” The difference between us is that I knew where moral fervour must be bounded by political necessity: I knew where the compromise must be struck between principle and practice, between the ideal and the
possible. But you-you were an ethical inebriate: you spoke of “love” and “truth” and you went flat out for them-as a drunken man might leap off a housetop trying to embrace the moon, never caring what sacrifice of life or limb or simple self-respect it may cost. Why,
in the name of “love,” you would have denied your people proper defence against the Japanese! There are always cowards and simpletons around to cheer on such folly. But in my eyes, you were simply another sorcerer’s apprentice of the human conscience. If I may quote myself: “The human race cannot make progress without idealism. . . .”
GANDHI: I know there will be a “but” in this somewhere.
CHURCHILL: Indeed there will: “but idealism at other people’s expense, and without regard to the ruin and slaughter which fall upon millions of humble homes, cannot be regarded as its highest or noblest form.” Painful as it may seem to a man of your “saintly” sensitivities, politics is the art of choosing among lesser evils.for the sake of greater goods.
GANDHI: And what was the obliteration bombing of “millions of humble homes” in Dresden and Hamburg deed for which you bear the primary responsibility? Was this a lesser evil or a greater good?
CHURCHILL: A great, a regrettably great, but still a lesser evil; a strategy that helped crush the enemy and end the war all the sooner. And so to save many innocent lives.
GANDHI: I wonder that you do not see how deeply warped must be any concept of “statesmanship” that forces so good a man as yourself to order the mass killing of innocent hundreds of thousands in Dresden and Hamburg-and this in defence of innocence! What you are saying, Sir Winston, boils down to the oldest of political clichés: the end justifies the means. But how can we talk any longer of ends and means as if they were separable rather than an indivisible spectrum of causes and effects? MINT politics, which I called satvayraha [nonviolent resistance-literally, “soul force”], insisted that to
divide ends from means, even when this is done by a good man, is the beginning of evil and ultimately of political disaster.
CHURCHILL: Well and good But should I then have stinted in waging war against Hitler and by so doing have risked defeat? You know what Nazism meant. You know the risks we ran.
GANDHI: I know that Britain went to war to preserve the freedom of Poland and I know that Poland along with all the rest of Eastern Europe-is not free today. Similarly, I know the Americans went to war to overthrow the genocidal terror of Nazism and I know they
finished by annihilating Japanese cities with atomic bombs.
CHURCHILL: Eastern Europe need not have suffered its fate, had my wartime counsels not been ignored.
GANDHI: You mean Eastern Europe might have been saved from total Russian domination by restoring a few selected bits of it to British and American domination. Just as you were quite willing to save India from Japanese domination-provided we agreed to accept
indefinite British domination.
CHURCHILL: Do you deny these would have been lesser evils?
GANDHI: But when shall we have done with seeking to calibrate and balance goods and evils with such impossible precision! Moral rights and wrongs are not ,simply so many onions and potatoes to be weighed up in a scale. To what last, least perceptible discrimination between the vile and yet more vile does this weighing of evils extend? You yourself called communism “a ghoul descending from a pile of skulls.” Yet you allied with “Russian barbarism” to fight Hitler. You even said, “if Hitler invaded bell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” Apparently your “statesmanship” excludes not even an alliance with hell.
CHURCHILL: All this only proves that you were never a politician. You wanted perfection. You wanted moral purity. But the world is a mixed bag. There is evil in it, all too much evil. We must have the courage to be practical; which means, we must be prepared at times
to weigh blood against blood, crime against crime.
GANDHI: I must protest, Sir Winston! How can you call me a political purist? Who would know better than I the perverseness and weakness of men? How many times did I fast to atone for my Himalayan miscalculations of human goodness? Of course there must be suffering and perhaps death wherever there is human conflict. But we shall never have the foresight or judgement to make careful predictions and discriminations your sort of statesman deals in. We think we have chosen a means which is a “lesser evil”- but it perversely generates an end we did not foresee and which is ten times worse than the evil we sought to elude. So I insist: what we really know of good and evil lies here before us in our immediate action. We must be good and do good now, not later. “The only guide to a man is his conscience.” These are your own words.
CHURCHILL: Then what would you have had me do when the enemy was at our gates? Advise my people not to defy him?
GANDHI: The enemy at your gates in 1940 was the product of a long catalogue of vengeful and selfish actions in the 20 years before 1940-and further back than that. A catalogue to which your own people contributed heavily. Hitler was a monster of your own making.
CHURCHILL: An observation I made myself many times. I shall not dispute that. But you avoid my question: when he was at the gates, what should I have done then? Surrender? Should I have let him crush our liberty, destroy our dignity, our very souls?
GANDHI: I presume you speak symbolically, Sir Winston. It was, after all, not you who resisted the Nazis. It was the British people as a whole-as you yourself said: they were the lionheart, you were but the roar. Suppose Hitler had occupied your country. Occupation does not imply surrender. Could Hitler have destroyed the souls or dignity of the British people, with their proud Dunkirk spirit? The British who occupied India could not destroy our souls or dignity. Were not your gallant people prepared to fight on the beaches, in the streets?
CHURCHILL: If it came to that, yes. But we would not have fought nonviolently as you desire. That would have been useless.
GANDHI: You say that, despite the victory we achieved over Britain by nonviolence?
CHURCHILL: You did not achieve that victory from my government, remember!
GANDHI: But we would have, you know. Even you we should have “weaned from error by patience and sympathy”– or forced into compliance by sheer dogged resistance. And out of our nonviolent struggle you see what has come: we have freed ourselves and we have made you a better, prouder people, because we avoided as far as possible bloodshed and hatred and so forced you to recognise the criminality of your position in India.
CHURCHILL: Our criminality indeed! Of course, you can never admit what Britain brought to India. But my father was right when be said, “Our rule in India is, as it were, a sheet of oil spread out and keeping free from storms a vast and profound ocean of humanity.” And
but for your revolutionary precipitousness, the Raj should have matured toward greater justice and enlightenment.
GANDHI: How typical of you, Sir Winston! Such patrician generosity. So long as the downtrodden whether they were your own British working classes or our Indian masses-were willing to ask politely,wait patiently and accept with thanks, then of course you could be magnanimous with them, like a good father rewarding his children for their obedience. You could give social insurance and generous measures of self-rule. Never all the underprivileged wanted, but something more-than they had. But let them once demand their rights and reach to take what was rightfully theirs-as your workers did in the General Strike-and there was no open hand, only a clenched fist.
CHURCHILL: You are deucedly clever at steering a conversation into irrelevant detours. I seem to remember your suggesting that your satyagraha could have been used successfully against Hitler. And your proof, amazingly enough, is that it worked against us in India.
This is a very crooked argument, Mr. Gandhi. There is simply no comparison between the British Raj in India and the Nazi Reich in Europe. There is all the difference between them that lies between a not quite cloudless day and a starless midnight.
GANDHI: Of course you British prefer to flatter yourself on that score. You conveniently forget Amritsan and the Rowlatt Act, don’t you? I think it almost fills the British with pride now to say that nonviolence worked against them; it surely would never have worked
against other, less humane, less sportsmanlike people I like the Germans. But of course it did! You recall the success of the Norwegian teachers against Hitler.
CHURCHILL: An exceptional situation.
GANDHI: Every situation is an exception. For every situation is unique. How many such “exceptional situations” have men failed to recognise because of their blind commitment to armed force?
CHURCHILL: All that you say again proves you are no politician. For you cannot see the most obvious realities. I saw the horror and brutality of Nazism and knew that our flawed society and those of France and America-yes, even that of Russia-were better. We fought through to victory and we survived. Imperfect, yes. But amid our imperfections the ideals that Hitler would have ruthlessly blotted out survive. Satyagraha would have saved nothing from Hitler. War saved something. And intelligent diplomacy-in the Twenties and Thirties-would have saved everything, just as it can save everything now, if the Western nations can keep their heads and their nerve. What you fail to see is the way in which power can serve principle. But principle divested of power is doomed.
GANDHI: What you fail to see is that there are sources of power as yet untapped in men-the power of their love and their ideals. And this power is not incompatible with intelligent diplomacy. Remember, Sir Winston, your country never dealt with a diplomat so courteous
and yet so cunning, and ultimately so successful against you, as this “seditious fakir.” Indeed, my argument is that the power of love and idealism alone can generate intelligent diplomacy, by which I mean open communication and fair bargaining. What would a little love and honesty have-done in 1919 to prevent 1939?
CHURCHILL: And what would a little air parity have done in 1937 to prevent 1939?
GANDHI: But must you always see power as a weapon? Is it not sufficiently clear that this kind of power- military power-can really no longer “serve principle”? This policy of deterrence your Western societies now cling to involves you in a commitment to
genocide, the very crime for which you punished the Nazis at Nuremberg. And if you should ever unleash that power, there will be neither principles nor people left in your societies. The technicians have, I fear, rendered your Realpolitik obsolete.
CHURCHILL: Not at all, sir. The weapons change, but not the ancient principle: si vis pacem, para bellum. In 1953 1 said, “when the advance to destructive weapons enables everyone to kill everyone else, nobody will want to kill anyone at all.” This is what deterrence amounts to, and what it requires is that we arm and remain armed as never before in history.
GANDHI: You can still believe that politics proceeds on the basis of such rational calculation-you who have seen madmen like Hitler rise up on the stage of history, you who saw relatively sane men blunder into catastrophe in 1914! When I hear you speak like this, I wonder that you can call me a mystic and a dreamer. I seem to hear the eloquent voice of a hopeless romantic: “the Byronic Napoleon,” as my biographer Louis Fischer called you. You are someone whose politics belongs to the distant past, to the day of your great ancestor,
Marlborough, when wars could be surgically neat and world affairs could be pursued like a sport among generals and gentlemen. But that is all over, you know. Ours is the age of the masses and of massive violence, a revolutionary age that requires a revolution in our
conception of power. And this, for all my failures and miscalculations, is what I offered as a pioneer of nonviolence: a revolution in the meaning of power which called for “the vindication of truth by the infliction of suffering not on the opponent but on one’s self.”
CHURCHILL: And when I hear you speak, I hear an even more distant voice-the voice of untold numbers of prophets and visionaries, none of whose inspiration would have been preserved but for the grim resolution, the hard sense and the steadfast responsibility of the
statesmanship that has always stood between civilised life and the barbarian at the gates.
GANDHI: I see, then, we can finally agree on very little. But you know, Sir Winston, though we never spoke to one another in all our lives, I believe there was between us, through our life and work, the greatest dialogue of our time.
CHURCHILL: On that we can agree.
Truth, peace, righteousness and nonviolence, Satya, Shanti, Dharma and Ahimsa, do not exist separately. They are all essentially dependent on love. When love enters the thoughts it becomes truth. When it manifests itself in the form of action it becomes truth. When Love manifests itself in the form of action it becomes Dharma or righteousness. When your feelings become saturated with love you become peace itself. When you fill your understanding with love it is Ahimsa. Practicing love is Dharma, thinking of love is Satya, feeling love is Shanti,and understanding love is Ahimsa. For all these values it is love which flows as the undercurrent. The world rests upon the bedrock of satya or truth; asatya meaning untruth also means “nonexistent” and satya or truth, means that which is of untruth does not so much exist. Its victory is out of the question. And truth being “that which is” can never be destroyed. This is the doctrine of Satyagraha in a nutshell. Ahimsa: In Gandhi’s Satyagraha, truth is inseparable from Ahimsa. Ahimsa expresses as ancient Hindu, Jain and Buddhist ethical precept. The negative prefix ‘a’ plus himsa meaning injury make up the world normally translated ‘nonviolence’. The term Ahimsa appears in Hindu teachings as early as the Upanishads. The Jain Religion constitutes Ahimsa as the first vow. It is a cardinal virtue in Buddhism. Despite its being rooted in these religions, the special contribution of Gandhi was to make the concept of Ahimsa meaningful in the social and political spheres by moulding tools for nonviolent action to use as a positive force in the search for social and political truths. Gandhi formed Ahimsa into the active social technique, which was to challenge political authorities and religious orthodoxy.
Mandatory authority rely on sources to have jurisdiction over laws. Lower courts are required to follow decisions from higher courts all the time. Authority resides in persons; they possess it – if indeed they do at all – by virtue of who they are and not by virtue of what they command. The anarchist’s position:- right to rule corresponds with an obligation to obey. However, is a right to rule always paired with an obligation to obey, or might the authority to rule really just be, e.g., a permission to use force, not something that generates an obligation? Thomas Jefferson:- Liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.
He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pre-tended Offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.