Post Prayer Speech 1947-09-13

By Mahatma Gandhi BROTHERS AND SISTERS, Long ago, perhaps in 1915, when I came to Delhi I had met Hakim Saheb¹ and Dr. Ansari. I was told that Delhi was ruled not by the British but by Hakim Saheb. Dr. Ansari was an elderly man and a great surgeon and physician. He also knew Hakim […]

By

Mahatma Gandhi

BROTHERS AND SISTERS,

Long ago, perhaps in 1915, when I came to Delhi I had met Hakim Saheb¹ and Dr. Ansari. I was told that Delhi was ruled not by the British but by Hakim Saheb. Dr. Ansari was an elderly man and a great surgeon and physician. He also knew Hakim Saheb and greatly respected him. Hakim Saheb was also a Muslim and a very great scholar and Hakim. He was a Unani Hakim but had made considerable study of the Ayurvedic system. Thousands of Muslims and thousands of poor Hindus used to come to him for treatment. Well-to-do Muslims and Hindus also came to him. They used to give a thousand rupees per day. As far as I knew Hakim Saheb, he did not care for the money. His interest was the service of everybody who was in need of it. And he was like a king. His forefathers lived in China. They were Muslims of China and were thorough gentlemen. I enquired of all the Hindus who came to visit me as to who was their leader in the city. [Was it] Shraddhanandji²? Shraddhanandji used to work a lot among them. But no, their leader was Hakim Saheb. Why? Because he had served both the Hindus and the Muslims. Well, I have referred to the situation as it was in 1915. But later on my relations with him grew closer and I came to know him more intimately. I also came to know Dr. Ansari better. I stayed with Dr. Ansari for a long time. I know his daughter Zohra and his son-in-law Shaukat Khan³. They are all nice people and are still here in Delhi. But what pains me is that they are now scared that some Hindu might kill them as well. They are not staying in their own house. They have gone to live in a hotel. It was sheer coincidence that they were spared. Their watchman was a Hindu. He drove away the rioters. Why should the Hindus and the Sikhs get into such frenzy that the Muslims are scared? You can turn round and tell me, many Hindus tell me in anger fixing their blood-shot eyes on me: ’You were away in Bengal and Bihar. Just come to the Punjab and see the plight of the Hindus and the Sikhs and see the state of the girls there.’ It is not as if I do not understand these things. But I want to keep both these things on the same level. Atrocities are committed there in any case. But if one of my brothers gets into a mad fury and starts killing people, should I also go mad with rage like him? How is it possible? I claim to be a true Hindu and a Sanatani Hindu at that. That is exactly why I am also a Muslim, a Parsi, a Christian and a Jew. For me all these are the branches of the same tree. Which of these branches should I keep and which should I discard? From which branch should I pick the leaves and which should I ignore? For me all are the same. That is how I am made. How can I help it? There would be absolute peace if everybody starts thinking like me.

I went to the Purana Quila today. I saw thousands of Muslims there. Other trucks loaded with Muslims were proceeding towards the Quila. All of them were Muslim refugees. Why did they have to live in the fort? Of whom were they frightened? Were they afraid of you, of me? I know that I do not frighten anyone, but my brothers, who consider themselves Hindus and Sikhs, are frightening them. But if they have frightened them it means that I have frightened them, you have frightened them. Thus I cannot bear to see them escaping to Pakistan out of panic. It is not as if there is heaven in Pakistan and hell here. Why do we find ourselves in such hell? I know that neither Pakistan nor India is hell. If we wish we can turn either into heaven or by our own deeds into hell. And if both the countries become hell, an independent man has no place there. After that we are only doomed to slavery. This thought is gnawing at my heart. My heart trembles and I wonder how I will make any Hindu, Sikh or Muslim understand all this. Quite a few Muslims in the fort were enraged, but others stopped them. There was love in their hearts. They persuaded their enraged brethren saying: ’This old man has come to serve us, to wipe our tears. We are hungry and he has come to see if he can find bread for us somewhere. We are without any water, he has come to see if he can get us water from somewhere.’ I do not know whether they get food and water there. Some of them told me there was no food, no water for them. I had gone there to find out. Some of them talked to me with great affection. I felt happy. No one would ever want to leave behind his house and property. The Hindu refugees are in the same situation. They have left behind their homes and properties. Some of them died; this is not a happy situation. It is a matter of shame for everybody. I was trying to convince them also. Through you I want to speak to everyone who cares to listen to me. It is said that in the Mahabharata period the Pandavas used to stay in this Purana Quila. Whether you call it Indraprastha or Delhi, the Hindus and the Muslims have grown here together. It was the capital of the Mughals. Now it is the capital of India. There is no survivor of the Mughal dynasty. The Mughals came from outside. They identified themselves with the manners and customs of Delhi. From among them some happened to be Ansari Sahebs, Hakim Sahebs and some became Hindus too. The Hindus also joined their services. In such a Delhi of yours the Hindus and the Muslims used to live together peacefully. They did fight occasionally. But they would fight for a short while and then be united again. On one occasion, some fanatic made a murderous attack on Shraddhanandji. But earlier the Muslims with great affection, had taken Shraddhanandji to Jama Masjid where he addressed them. This is your Delhi.

But what is happening today? The Sardar always used to walk with his head high, but I tell you today he walks with his head bent. And Jawaharlal, that brave and courageous Jawaharlal who used to fly in the air, is today sitting helpless. Why has he become helpless? We have made him helpless. If there is one individual acting mad, he can be cured. But who would treat whom when all start behaving that way? Jawaharlal is no God after all. Nor is the Sardar any God. And their other Ministers have no divine powers either. Nor do they have any outside help.

I am telling the same thing to everybody. Many Hindus and Muslims came to me. I have had many discussions with them. But ultimately my voice turns to God. I pray to Him that He should take me away from the world, or bring sanity to the people of Delhi. Let there be no angry thought for the Muslims in the heart of any Hindu or Sikh. People tell me that the Muslims are supposed to be Fifth Columnists, that is, they are traitors, disloyal to the present Government. There are 4½ crore Muslims in India. If 4½ crore people are traitors, who would be the loser? They themselves will be the losers. They would be burying Islam that way. But they cannot do harm to the Hindus and the Sikhs. But you should not harass those 4½ crore Muslims. It is not proper to tell them that they should be either ready to die or go to Pakistan. Why should they go? And under whose protection? I tell you that they are under your protection, and under my protection. At least I am not prepared to see that sight. I would rather pray to God that He should take me away before that. He has kept me alive long enough. A life of 78-79 years is not a short one. I am fully satisfied. I have served to the best of my capacity. If God wishes to keep me alive, let Him take from me the work that will satisfy my heart. Let both the communities tell me that I am their friend, that is why they listen to me and would continue to do so. I meet quite a few Muslims. How can I say they are traitors and are betraying me? I tell you that even if they are betraying, it is not going to help them in any way. I admit that the Muslims have lots of arms with them. I have taken some of their arms and some are still with them. But what would they do with the arms they have? Would they kill me? Would they kill you? If they do that the Government is there to look into it. I tell you that if we become good and behave well the Government will see that justice is done to us. Let the Governments fight each other; but we would not quarrel among ourselves. We would remain friends. Let us not be afraid that they would kill us. However powerful the person who wants to kill us is, he cannot kill us so long as God protects us. That is why I am telling both the Hindus and the Muslims that they should abandon fear. I did not like the statement made by the Qaid-e-Azam. He says that the Muslims are being taken to Pakistan because they have been harassed in the Indian Union. He says there should be food for them and land to settle them. Pakistan, he says, is a poor country, and so, those who have money should send it there.⁴ I have nothing to complain about it. But along with that, why does he not mention what happened to the Hindus in West Punjab? If Bihar indulged in evil acts they repented it. In Calcutta the Hindus came to me and repented before me. It would be a noble thing if the Muslims do the same and admit that they have done wrong things. I have seen the things and how can I close my eyes to them? Nor can I cover up the crimes committed by the Hindus. I want to be faithful to all religions. I can betray neither God nor men. I wish to be loyal to all.

I said yesterday⁵ that it is the duty of the Muslims that leading men among them should proclaim that not all are so worthless. They should say that they are and will remain loyal to India, and will fight the whole world for the sake of India. Then only are they true Muslims. If they do not do this they become bad Muslims. It is my hope that in India we do not have such bad Muslims. And if there are, in order to make them good we have to be good ourselves, not bad.

[From Hindi]
Prarthana Pravachan-I, pp. 305-10

Notes

  • 1. Ajmal Khan
  • 2. Mahatma Munshiram, who was known by this name
  • 3. Dr. Shaukatullah Khan
  • 4. For an official account of the interview with Lord Mountbatten covering this and other points, vide Appendix I.
  • 5. Vide p. 176.

Notes

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