Post Prayer Speech 1947-05-31


Mahatma Gandhi

Post Prayer Meeting Speech by Mahatma Gandhi

As Gandhiji came on the platform he asked the people to be quiet, telling them that during the prayer one’s eyes should be closed and one’s ears open.

That man¹ wearing a hat like an Englishman is demanding that Jinnah should be arrested. Does he really want to arrest Jinnah? You may have the power to do so. I too possess such power. But my way of acting is different. Ever since I came from South Africa I have been training you in my way. I am not such a great teacher at that. But then, even a mad person can speak out his mind. For the past fifty-four years I have been regularly saying that we must hold our enemy. For you Jinnah is an enemy, but I regard none as enemy. I have said it and it is the perfect truth that I have become his representative. How can I then regard him as my enemy? Even the British had become my enemies. But I did not become their enemy. I became their friend, their representative, and I told them things that were in their own interest.

There are two ways of ’holding’ one’s enemies. One way is the way of coercion, the other is the way of love. I have ’held’ you by love. When I ask you to be silent, you remain silent. You must have realized that I have used the term ’holding’ as a joke but you must have taken it in the right sense. What I mean is that at times we shall no doubt succeed in holding Jinnah Saheb. Do you think the police would arrest him? The police cannot do so. The police cannot arrest me, nor Khan Saheb. Of course the British authorities can arrest him at will. But even Jinnah Saheb would not be quite imprisoned. He would be truly held if I could bring him here and make him stand before you.

Once when Malaviyaji went to Bombay, I accompanied him. Both of us went and met some Maharajas there. They made us sit on elevated seats, and themselves sat at our feet. Those were the days when the British power was at its peak. Now when the Imperialist power is withdrawing, they will at once realize that they can retain their position only when they listen to the people. The only way of responding to the people is by coming into the Constituent Assembly. If they take an obstinate stand and refuse to join the Constituent Assembly, they cannot remain rulers.

No Muslim Prince in India can say that he will kill all the Hindus. If anyone says such a thing, I would ask him why he was their protector all this time, why he lived by their food. Similarly, any Prince, just because he is a Muslim, would not be entitled to say that he would join Pakistan. Nor can a Hindu ruler, because he is a Hindu, say that he would be with the Congress. Either would have to follow the wishes of the people.

In the end Gandhiji announced the death of Chakrayya, a young Harijan from Andhra.

He was an inmate of the Sevagram Ashram. He was trained under Nayee Talim. He was a hard-working craftsman. He was not given to weaknesses like falsehood, fraud and anger. By some misfortune he developed some brain trouble. He was a believer in nature cure but his friends insisted that he should be operated upon by surgeons. The disease had affected his eyes. Yet with great effort he wrote me a letter before he was taken to the operation table. He said in this that although he liked nature cure he was willing to undergo the surgery and if he had to die in the process, he would do so reciting the name of Rama. Eventually he passed away on the operation table in a hospital in Bombay.

I feel like crying over his death; but I cannot cry. For whom should I cry and for whom should I refrain from crying? If Mother India should have any children, they should be, as Tulsidas has said, either generous or brave. Chakrayya was generous because he was a selfless worker, always contented. He was also brave because he welcomed death. He was a Harijan but knew no distinctions of Harijan and savarna and of Hindu and Muslim. He regarded all as human beings and was himself a true human being. Today I have talked in one breath about the Nawab of Bhopal and Chakrayya. In India there is room for both. Let the Nawab of Bhopal be a trustee of his people. And let us have millions of young men like Chakrayya. Then alone will India be able to live in peace and happiness.


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