Post Prayer Speech 1947-06-14


Mahatma Gandhi


I am very fond of this prayer of the Elephant King. The story of Gajendramoksha is part of our best literature. When the elephant, even with his immense strength, is helpless and sees that his own might cannot save him from being dragged down by the crocodile, then he surrenders himself to God.

We are in a similar plight. It appears to us at the moment that we are vanquished but we are not really vanquished. He who sees God by his side can never be vanquished.

God has so made man that when man is about to be drowned, when he sees that he has lost all, only then does he think of God. When he is happy he does not think of God.

Yesterday I spoke¹ of what Sir C. P. Ramaswamy, the Diwan of Travancore has said. This is the age of telegraph and radio. What I said reached him and he has sent me a very long wire.² He has explained many things but he has not lifted the ban on meetings and processions by the Travancore Congress Committee. He has not said a word about it. This is not good. It bodes ill.

He says further that Travancore has always been a free country. This is right in a way. In ancient days our country was divided into innumerable kingdoms but India was always considered one country. Our saints and seers established places of pilgrimage in all parts of the country and did many things that promoted its social, economic and religious unity. But politically the country was never united. During the reigns of Chandragupta and Ashoka, India had to a large extent become unified but even so a small bit in the South remained outside the empire. It was only when the English came that for the first time the country became one from Dibrugarh to Karachi and Kanya Kumari to Kashmir. The English did it not for our good but for their own. It is wrong to say that Travancore was free under the British regime. The Princes were never free. They were vassals of the British, they were subservient to them. Now when the British rule is on the way out and power is coming into the hands of the people, for any Prince to say that he was always independent and shall remain independent is wholly wrong and not in the least becoming. True Sir C. P. has been a friend of mine. But what of it? Even if it be my son why should I hesitate to say what is true? If when India is free Sir C. P. declares that Travancore is independent, it means that he intends to enter into a conflict with free India.

I can only tell him that he should descend from the pedestal of power and live as a servant of the people of Travancore. If after once dispossessing you of the kingdom the British for a consideration returned you to power and gave you the right to oppress your subjects, what is there to be so proud about it? It would be a matter of pride if you considered your subjects as your masters. Of course India is not down. But if it is faced with problems it is not a gentlemanly thing to kick someone who is down. If India has become divided into two, you are not concerned with it. You must be decent and understand, you must not promote useless strife.

Some friends have come from Rawalpindi with news of happenings there. Sucheta Kripalani also gave me the distressing report of the situation there. One thing made me very sad. When the Pakistan issue was still undecided the conditions there were tolerable but now the Muslims are on the rampage. They say that now that they have Pakistan, they will make slaves of everyone else. I mention this at the prayer meeting here so that what I say may reach the ears of the Muslims. It will certainly reach the ears of Mr. Jinnah. If what I say is wrong, let my Muslim brethren take me to task and say that it is not right. Let them invite me to Peshawar to see how happy Hindus, Sikhs, women and children are. But I have got the names. If some ordinary men had said such things, one need not have worried because there are always a few irresponsible people everywhere. But if all the Muslims think and express themselves in these terms then it is very bad.

Mr. Jinnah says that under the Muslim majority the minorities will live in peace. But what is in fact happening? If after Pakistan has come into being the conflict is further sharpened then it will only mean that we have been made fools of. It will mean that they will be masters and anyone following a different religion will have to stay there as a slave or a servant and admit that he is inferior to them.

I am eager to hear from them that all are well treated in Pakistan and that temples also are well looked after. When I see that I shall bow my head to them. But if that does not happen then I shall know that Mr. Jinnah was uttering a falsehood and I shall begin to suspect Lord Mountbatten who although a commander of such a high rank was in such a hurry. He could have allowed the carnage to go on, if it had to go on, and said that he would not bow before the sword.

[From Hindi]
Prarthana Pravachan—I, pp. 160-3



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