Post Prayer Speech 1947-10-01


Mahatma Gandhi


A lady writes to me in a letter that she is desirous of doing service and her husband also wishes to do the same, but no one shows them the way. There are many people who pose such questions. I have given only one reply to all of them and it is that the scope for Government jobs is very limited whereas the scope for service is immense. Hence there is no need to ask anyone what should be done. Anyone who wishes to serve can do so. But we have become so helpless that we have to consult others. Shall I then tell you what they should do? After all, how much reputation does Delhi enjoy for being a clean city? There are so many camps here, and I know how clean they are. People fall ill while they are there. It is equally filthy where there has been bloodshed and destruction of property. The Delhi Municipality has never been known for cleanliness. Had Delhi been a clean city the hearts of the people would have been clean too. Wherever we may be, if we keep our places clean, it will have its impact on the whole city. Let every man keep his own house, his own heart clean. I will tell that lady that if she is really keen to do service, not in name but in the true spirit of devotion, then there is ample scope for service in Delhi. She need not inform me anything about her work either. If she can work to clean the hearts of the people of Delhi, clean the hearts of all refugees here, then she will have done a great thing, and then, she and her husband will become an ideal couple. Others will start following their example.

I have just received two telegrams. One of the telegrams which is from a Muslim friend states that Indians used to be considered very sensible and that Hindus and Muslims were supposed to be living in amity. But now what has gone wrong that they cannot sit together and are fighting with each other, indulging in mutual killing and behaving as savages? Let us take the example of Delhi. The Hindus and Sikhs of Delhi are willing to accept the Muslims in their fold provided they declare their loyalty to the Indian Union. Those who wish to remain in the Indian Union, whether it is I or you or anybody else, have got to abide by this. This condition is applicable not only to the Muslims but to everybody. Then, the Muslims possess plenty of arms. Quite a large stock of these arms has been recovered. But not all arms have yet been surrendered. Searches are going on with the help of the police. But everything cannot come out with the help of the police. So, if they are honest at heart and do not wish to fight against India, they should be loyal to the Union. They should even fight any Muslim power attacking India. And if they do not wish to fight against India, why do they need the arms? There are very few Christians here, but they too would have to fight on behalf of the Union in the event of a war with another country like Germany or any other Christian country and will have to remain loyal to the country. If the Muslims are loyal and they have no intention of fighting against India, why do they need the arms? They must voluntarily surrender their arms. This is all very well. But the way this was said contained poison. Today there are nearly 50,000 Muslims in the camps. We have driven them out of Delhi. Some have been killed. However brave a person may be, he does not welcome death. Somebody may want to do business or something else. He takes comfort in the fact that he will at least be alive. Where could they go after running away? So they have taken shelter in the Purana Quila, and on the grounds near Humayun’s tomb. They get wet in the rain and have to face a lot of hardship. They are not able to have proper medical aid also. Dr. Sushila Nayyar gives me the report of their condition. She gives them four hours every day. There are many pregnant women among the refugees. Those women have to be delivered, for which some nurses are required. Also some medicines and many other things are needed. All these things take time to arrange. Why are those people living in such a condition? The Hindus say they have driven them out and they have done nothing wrong in doing that. They say that they can be brought back provided they become loyal to the country. I say that they can be brought back only when their hearts become clean. Granting that the Muslims are not loyal to the country and they refuse to surrender arms, does it mean that they should be slaughtered? There are 400 to 450 million Muslims in India. Out of these, suppose one lakh or even one crore have hidden arms in their houses. Is your army, your police, not powerful enough to unearth those arms from their houses? The police does not belong to the British nowadays. You must realize what would be the outcome of slaughtering the Muslims, killing their children and their women. I have already told you that we have fallen. We became an independent nation on August 15 when we celebrated our Independence Day. For a few days after that we all lived like brothers. Everything seemed well at that moment. But today we have forgotten that we are brothers. If they are killing us, the blame lies with the Muslim League. There was anger at heart. But in the glow of independence we forgot that they were our enemies at one time. I witnessed this in Calcutta. That was the condition all over the country. But that spirit disappeared later and they were ready to slaughter the Hindus and the Sikhs and drive them away.

I have already said that along with those two conditions if we add one more condition, we can carry on our work in peace. That condition is that we shall not take the law into our hands. It is not up to us to punish them. We admit that we had lost our senses. I agree that the Muslim League was the first to be unreasonable. As I have already said, let us show goodness in a greater measure than they do. But if we try to compete with them in wickedness, it would bring about our downfall as well as theirs. If they are doing wrong things our Government will set it right. If any of our people are in Pakistan, whether Hindus, Sikhs or Christians, who are in a minority over there and are not well protected, if they are slaughtered and their daughters are kidnapped, if they are being deprived of their property or forcibly converted to Islam, our Government will take up the matter with Pakistan. Who are we to retaliate? I begin to think that there are some amongst us who are really murderers. I do not quite know who they are, but they are definitely there, and are working to carry out pre-planned murders, arson and forcible occupation of buildings. I do not know where they are but if they do these things, that is sure to bring about our downfall. That is why we have got to admit that it is foolishness [to retaliate in this manner]. Let us rid ourselves of that unreasonableness and bring back the people who are there. The Government has to see that Pakistan requests all those to come back who have suffered in Pakistan and who have been ruined. And all those who have their properties in Lahore should get them back. They have to be returned the houses which have been confiscated. What wonderful buildings I have seen there? And what about all those educational institutions for girls? Nowhere in India are there greater educational facilities than in Lahore. Lahore used to lead in the field of education. Where is that Lahore today? The Government at Lahore has played no part nor given any financial aid in building all those institutions. The people of the Punjab come of a sturdy stock. They are business-minded and produce wealth. There are great bankers there who know how to spend money as well as earn it. I have seen all that with my own eyes. They have built all those buildings, all those colleges for men and women, and then all those grand hospitals and they should be returned to them. A whole caravan extending to fifty miles is moving on. Those people are in a bad state. We stop being barbarians if we pass on the responsibility of taking counter-measures to the Government. I have already told you this. I have received a telegram from the Muslims living abroad.¹ They ask why people have lost their reason. They say that we should all live like brothers. They say that even though they are Muslims they do not wish to fight—Islam does not teach that. I have already said that you should wake up. And let me tell you that you mayor may not accept what I say, but I do not wish to be a witness to these things. I do not wish to see such a downfall. My only prayer to God is that He should take me away before that happens. If the situation does not improve, the terrible fire raging in my heart will consume me. My heart tells me that I shall gain nothing by seeing such a thing. I tried to sacrifice my life for India’s freedom. I did not lose my life; but freedom came. But what is the point of remaining alive to see this happening in the wake of freedom? So I pray to God day and night that He should take me away. Or He should give me the power to extinguish this fire.

There is a hospital in Delhi where a large number of wounded Muslims are kept. Not all the inmates of that hospital are Muslims. There are some Hindus too. Somebody assaulted and tried to kill those Muslims. There is some group which has come from a village. The members of the group attacked not from the doors, but from small windows and fled after killing four or five patients. I do not know of a greater act of barbarism than this. Such a thing does not happen even during a war. Often hospitals have been bombarded during wars but such a thing has never happened.

And let me tell you another thing. When a train arrives five persons fling a man out of the window as if he were a piece of luggage. He is bound to die. This is what happened today but what I said about that hospital happened yesterday, or maybe the day before yesterday. Who should hang his head in shame for that? You and I and all Hindus must hang our heads in shame. I understand Muslims also are accused of similar crimes. Let the Government demand an explanation for what is happening in West Punjab.

[From Hindi]
Prarthana Pravachan-I, pp. 365-70


  • 1. From Amman and another place in Middle East


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