Post Prayer Speech 1947-09-23

By Mahatma Gandhi BROTHERS AND SISTERS, It has been said that prayer is no ordinary thing. It is something noble. In the course of our lives we talk all kinds of things, we talk quite a bit in 24 hours, we commit crimes and run madly after money; so let us at least offer some […]

By

Mahatma Gandhi

BROTHERS AND SISTERS,

It has been said that prayer is no ordinary thing. It is something noble. In the course of our lives we talk all kinds of things, we talk quite a bit in 24 hours, we commit crimes and run madly after money; so let us at least offer some prayer. It would be a great thing if we pray together. If 40 crores pray in their own languages in the belief that God is one, it would be a great thing. And then we should not mind if there are some stanzas from the Koran in the prayer. Those who protest against recitation from the Koran, do so in anger.¹ But, because the Muslims are harassing the Hindus and Sikhs and killing them, should we get angry over the Koran? What the Muslims have done is not good, but what harm has the Koran done? If one devotee of God commits a sin, shall we stop repeating His name? God is only one. If the devotees of God say that what the Hindus have done is bad, does it also mean that the Gita is bad? If the Sikhs have done bad things, should we stop reading the Granth Saheb? What harm has the Granth Saheb done? What if the Sikhs go crazy, if the Hindus, Muslims, Parsis go crazy? Their religions and all the sacrifices made in the name of those religions will remain for ever.

Some people who came to me from Rawalpindi were strong, sturdy, and brave, and were big business magnates. Rawalpindi was built by the Hindus and the Sikhs. So also was Lahore. And, was the whole of Pakistan built solely by the Muslims? What is Pakistan today was built by the common efforts of all, not only of one community. It would not be proper to say that India was built by the Hindus since their number is much larger. It has been built by the Hindus, Muslims and the Sikhs, by the Parsis and the Christians. All have contributed to making India what it is today. I told these friends that they should keep calm, and that after all, there was God to take care of everything. There is no place where there is no God. Pray to God and repeat His name, and then all will be well. They asked me what we should do about those who are in Pakistan. But I in turn asked them why they came here instead of laying down their lives there. I am firm in my belief that in spite of atrocities being committed we should remain where we are and die. If people come to kill us, let us die. But let us die with courage, repeating the name of God. I have taught the same thing to the girls. I have told them to learn the art of dying with the name of God on their lips. There may be a wicked man who refuses to see the reality-he may be a Hindu, a Sikh, a Parsi or anyone else-but they can at least refuse to be cowed down by him. If he offers money, he should be told that he may kill right at that moment instead of five minutes later, but it should be made clear to him that they will not submit to him. They should not be taken in just because of the money. I will give the same advice to the girls as long as I am alive. I cannot give them any other advice. I do not wish to forget God. That is why I am telling all that the greatest courage and understanding lie in learning the art of dying. Then alone can they live. If they do not learn the art of dying, they will die before their time. I do not wish that anybody should die before his time. I also told the Muslims that they should not leave their homes. Rather, they should die where they were. I told the same thing to the people from Rawalpindi. I will plead with the Government to do whatever they can. I told them that since they had come here, they should visit the camps and work there. I said they were strong people and should not lose heart. I told them they should not plead helplessness and be worried about lack of accommodation. I told them there was accommodation all right-Mother Earth is our house and we have the sky overhead. The Muslims who have gone away in panic have left behind their houses and their lands. Should I tell them that they should occupy the houses of those Muslims? I cannot say anything of the kind. Those houses still belong to their Muslim owners as they did in the past. They have run away in fear. If they have gone away of their own accord and if they feel that they will be happy in Pakistan, let them be happy there. Do not harm them. Let them go in peace. They should take their property and jewellery with them. The houses they leave will be in the possession of the Government and it can do whatever it chooses about them. It would not be proper if our refugees go and occupy them on their own. One thing I know for certain is that you should be strong and do as I tell you so that you can let me go from here. I want to go to the Punjab. I want to go to Lahore. I do not want to go with any police or military escort. I want to go alone, depending only on God. I want to go with faith and trust in the Muslims there. Let them kill me if they want. I would die smiling, and silently pray that God should be kind to them. And how can God be kind to them? By making them good. With God, the only way of making them good is by purifying their hearts. God will listen to me if I do not have a feeling of animosity even for one who regards me as his enemy. Then that man would ask himself what he would have gained by killing me. He would wonder what harm I had done him. If they kill me they have a right to do so. That is why I want to go to Lahore. I want to go to Rawalpindi. Let the Government stop me if they will. But how can the Government stop me? They will have to kill me if they want to stop me. If they kill me, my death will leave a lesson for you. It will make me very happy. What will be that lesson? It will be that you may have to die but you will not wish evil to anybody.

Dhruva was a mere child. He prayed to God. What about Prahlad? He was a boy of twelve. He also did the same. And we are all their descendants. Those who are familiar with the Granth Saheb must be knowing that Guru Nanak Saheb taught that we should not have evil thoughts for anyone, nor use the sword against anyone. The greatest bravery lies in having the courage to die. If our people have to die in this manner, let us not be angry with anybody. You must admire those people for dying and pray to God that He grant a similar opportunity to all of us. Let this be our sincere prayer. I would tell you what I told those people from Rawalpindi. I told them that they should go there and meet the Hindu and Sikh refugees. They should request them to return on their own, not under police or military protection. If you avoid fighting in Delhi I will take it that God has granted my prayer. Then with the grace of God, I will go to the Punjab. Let me tell you that once peace descends on Delhi, I shall not stay here even a day longer. I have not stayed here for pleasure. I have stayed on for rendering service. I have remained here to do all that a man can do to extinguish the fire raging here. So I wish to tell you and those friends who have come from Rawalpindi how you should live and what you should do so that the fragrance of your lives spreads over the whole of India and the world.

[From Hindi]
Prarthana Pravachan -I, pp. 337-40

Notes

  • 1. According to The Hindustan Times, 24-9-1947, before beginning the prayer Gandhiji asked the audience whether anybody had any objection to the recitation from Koran; there was none.

Notes

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