Post Prayer Speech 1947-09-24


Mahatma Gandhi


The bhajan¹ which you heard today applies well to the present situation. We can all describe ourselves today as ’wrecked boats’. And then we pray to God that He may bring us to the shore, that is, without His grace our boat cannot reach the shore. This is the condition of our country today and I see it everyday. Somehow, a feeling of animosity has taken possession of us. There is so much anger in the hearts of both the Hindus and the Muslims, that we would not let the Muslims live in Delhi. The Hindus and the Sikhs have been driven out of Pakistan. I hear that even the minds of small children have been poisoned. It is true that all that is the propaganda of the Muslim League. I am a witness to the propaganda of the Muslim League that the Muslims would take Pakistan by force, not by negotiating for it, not by pleading their case with the Hindus and other non-Muslims. It was our misfortune that for years they went on clamouring that they would take Pakistan by force. But that will never do. What is the point in having it by force? In a way we can say that they have not taken Pakistan by force. Rather we have granted it, the Congress has granted it. There would have been no Pakistan without the British agreeing to the demand. However much the Congress might have agreed to it, the ultimate power was in the hands of the British. They had to give up that power. Why? Because they could not have ruled here any longer. We did not fight against them with the sword. Ours was a war without weapons. We say that ours was a non-violent struggle. That is how India has won freedom. India was partitioned. The Congress agreed to the division. The Congress felt that there was no point in brothers going on fighting. The better thing would be to grant them what they wanted. But some of them feel that they have not got Pakistan in full. But they have accepted what was granted, leaving the rest of it for the future. So, we did get our freedom but we could not digest it with all the poison everywhere. And the dispute between us did not end. The supporters of the Muslim League delivered poisonous speeches. Are all the people living in Pakistan Muslims? There are also the Hindus, the Parsis, the Sikhs and the Christians living there. Let them make all in their country happy. Let them prove to them that all of them will have equal rights. The Government will be no doubt theirs because they are in the majority. That is all right, but the Government has to function with a sense of justice. They did say so, but it could not be carried out. Why should I go into the reasons as to why it could not be done? I know everything that has happened there. The Muslims went berserk. They thought that since they were now free they could kill and slaughter. It all started from there. And once it started, there were the Sikhs who are also warriors. How could they take it lying down? They also started killing and slaughtering. That is the story which is not yet over.

Thousands of people come to me and say that they cannot live there any longer. They say that they are being forced to embrace Islam and if they fail to do so they are threatened that they will be kept as slaves. How could they agree to such a condition? They have come here under compulsion. We can embrace Islam of our own free choice. But getting converted to Islam out of fear is another matter. One cannot abandon one’s religion for the sake of earning one’s livelihood. Abandoning religion under compulsion is not religion but irreligion. What is the value of mere survival of a man or woman who has lost his or her self-respect-and religion constitutes self-respect. Let me tell you that those who give up their religion for the sake of money, jewellery or employment, cannot be following any religion. They do not deserve to be called Hindus, nor can they be good Muslims. Do we become Muslims just by reciting the Kalma under compulsion? I do not recite here the Kalma but fateha. Both are remarkable. It is ordained in the Kalma that there is only one God and Hazrat Mohammed is His Prophet. The earlier prophets do not count before him. But it is clearly stated in the fateha that God is our Lord and Master. He can protect everyone; let Him protect us too. But even though fateha is wonderful, how can one be forced to recite it? If we recite it, it can be only of our own free will. But if somebody forces me to recite it under threat of gun, I would certainly not like to do it. I have just a handful of bones in my body. But my heart belongs to me. So do your hearts belong to you and the hearts of these girls belong to them. These girls can declare that they would never give up their dharma. But today we are all facing a challenge. In such a situation, what should India do? How should we act? That is a big problem before you. The trains coming from Pakistan these days do not bring the Muslims. The Hindus and the Sikhs are brought in those trains. Some get killed in the train. And the people who go from here are Muslims who are killed on the way. I am told that I should count the figures. What figures should I count? I have no figures with me. And what will I do knowing the figures? I would only say that one may consume one bottle of liquor and get intoxicated. Someone else may drink two bottles and also get completely intoxicated. Both get intoxicated. But another man drinks something by which he cannot get intoxicated, such as clean water from a river. You may call it liquor but it cannot intoxicate anyone. Who would call that water alcohol? For alcohol is the thing that robs one of all one’s senses and turns one crazy. The thing is we are all intoxicated at the moment. Now suppose the Muslim League does something crazy because something got into its head. And then we think that if they can behave like that let us also behave in the same manner. You may want to rule the whole of India and destroy Pakistan. But I tell you that we have agreed to the formation of Pakistan. Where then is the question of destroying it? We cannot destroy it. We cannot destroy it with our physical strength or with the help of the sword. If we try to destroy Pakistan, both the countries are going to sink. Ours is a wrecked ship. We are sinking today. If you imagine today that we should fight and win, I would say that even before you win some other world power is going to swallow you. It would swallow both the countries. If all my friends, who are sensible people and who have spent many years in such work, understand this much, we would be safe. But how could that happen when both are busy emptying whisky bottles and enjoy doing so? I would entreat them to discard the whisky bottle and throw it into the sea because it contains poison. We shall not harm the Muslims any more. If they wish to go on their own, we would let them go. But we shall not force them to leave. They are in their own houses. They are not in a majority. Why should we become cowards and harass them? We are free. The whole country is free. Why should they be under the impression that we are going to devour them? Are the Muslims such creatures that the Hindus can devour them if they are available? The Congress has made so much sacrifice. Year after year it has been making the highest sacrifices which involved a large number of Hindus and Muslims. Have they all been possessed by some madness now after freedom? Shall we throwaway in our intoxication that freedom which has come after so many sacrifices? How shameful it is! I would not tell you these things if you get excited after reading the news in the Press and think that they can never belong to you. I told you yesterday that the whole trouble can be stopped. How casn it be done? We must purify ourselves. Purifying ourselves means being courageous. A person who can be courageous would not indulge in such activities. You have the support of your Government. The Government looks after the administration of the country. Gone are the days of the British Government when we could not refer our problems to it. Today you have your own Government. We can tell the Government how it should go about settling these things. After all, there are only 4½ crore Muslims in the country. Why should we be scared of them? Suppose you kill 4½ crore Muslims, what would you do after that? And there are so many Muslims in Pakistan. Whom would you kill there? The Pakistanis would like to settle accounts with you for those 4½ crore Muslims here. You would not be able to accept that challenge, because they would have the support of the whole world. That is why I say that we should remain pure. Let us keep our accounts clear. Let us not be in the position of debtors. If we are in the position of creditors, I tell you that your Government will have to give ultimatum to Pakistan. All the Hindus and Sikhs who have come from there have to go back and Pakistan would have to look after them. Pakistan has gone to the extent of saying that all the minority communities in Pakistan will enjoy the same rights as the Muslims. They will enjoy freedom of expression and worship, of visiting temples and gurdwaras. They will of course not enjoy any political power. I can very well understand that our mutual trust is shaken. But does the remedy lie in driving out the Muslims who are here with their properties, homes and children? That should not happen. It would be great cowardice. I want to tell you only this thing that we must abandon the idea of taking revenge on the Muslims. And we must so strengthen our hearts that the whole of Hindustan is convinced that nothing is going to happen in Delhi. But some things have happened in Delhi. The Muslims have been driven out. I do not say that those who have gone away should be brought back. But those who have stayed behind should be allowed to live in peace. Later on we can bring back the people who have gone away. If any Muslim misbehaves, report the matter to the Government. Those Muslims must accept the authority of the Government. If the Government permits you to kill them saying that it has no army, that Government has got to end. That means allowing goondaism to carry the day, which is not the function of a government. I want to tell you that you can influence the Government as much as you can. But do not take the law into your hands, do not use your guns and do not kill anyone. If you do this much, victory will be ours, and our ship which is beginning to sink will be saved. God is always on the side of truth. God can never abandon us but if we give up God, if we forget Him and abandon the right path, what can God do?

[From Hindi]
Prarthana Pravachan -I, pp. 340-5



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