Post Prayer Speech 1947-10-07


Mahatma Gandhi


In my speech yesterday there was no mention at all of what is going on between Hindus and Muslims these days. But today something has happened and I should not keep quiet about it. It has happened not here but at Dehra Dun. A Muslim gentleman was murdered. As far as I know, he had committed no crime. Nor had he taken the law into his own hands. But he was killed because he happened to be a Muslim. I was pained about it and wondered where we would stop if we went on at this rate. Today I find that I have a large number of Muslim friends. I feel hesitant to tell them to leave this place. How would they go away? I find that today the Muslims are not safe in the trains. Anyone who so pleases throws them out of the compartments or slaughters them. I understand that a similar thing is happening in Pakistan. But what are we going to gain by continuing to behave in this manner? Let us at least know ourselves. Let us at least recognize our religion. Everyone follows his own religion. What does our religion teach us? Or are we acting without any regard for our religion? Has the Congress lost its senses? After all, what did the Congress do for 60 years? If the Congress has been making a mistake so far, it is the enemy of the country, and I would say that it should be removed from the scene. Let even those who profess to be Congressmen say it in clear terms that they are leaving the Congress and forming another party. There is no room for any complaint about it. Do whatever you like but this much I can say before the whole world and our people that we should not take the law into our own hands. If we do it, we shall be driving ourselves to ruin and lose our independence and then, if some other power comes and subjugates India, we shall realize with shock what a terrible blunder we had made. This is not a good thing. There was a mongoose which killed a snake to save a child. Its mouth was smeared red with blood. The child’s mother had gone to the well to fetch water. When she returned, the mongoose rushed to her jumping as though saying that it had saved her child. But she thought it had killed the child and threw the pitcher on the mongoose. The water was gone, the pitcher was broken and the mongoose died. When the woman entered the house she saw the child playing in the cradle and the dead snake lying nearby. Then she realized that the mongoose had been her friend. She felt sad and remorseful. So let us not do anything which we may regret later like that mother, and feel sorry for not having co-operated with our Government. We have set up our own Government. Are we going to ruin it?

Today we have got power in our hands. We have got our own ministers. Our Prime Minister is Jawaharlal. He is a true jewel and he has served his people well. Then there is the Sardar and there are others too. Is it that we do not like them? Today it is said Jawaharlal is no good. It is said he is not a good Hindu. People want a person who will follow their dictates, who will not support the Muslims and will drive them out. I must admit that Jawaharlal cannot do so. Nor can I do so. I consider myself a sanatani Hindu. But I am not that sanatani who would not let anyone except the Hindus live in India. Whatever the religion one may follow, one belongs to India if one is loyal to the country, and is as much entitled to live in India as I am. It makes no difference if one belongs to the minority community. That is what religion teaches me. Right from my childhood I have been taught that in Ramarajya or the Kingdom of God no person can be unworthy just because he follows a different religion. You must realize that I am such a Hindu. I have no power in my hands and I am not a minister. Jawaharlal is a minister and you can remove him if you want. Then there is the Sardar. Do you know who he is? He is the Sardar from Bardoli. Do you listen to him? He also has many Muslim friends. His friend Imam Saheb was the Congress leader in Gujarat and he is dead. Imam Saheb’s son-in-law¹ is at Ahmedabad and I think he is the chief of the District Congress. He is a very goodhearted man. I know him very well. He married Imam Saheb’s daughter². It is the same Imam Saheb who came away with his wife from South Africa, leaving his business there, and stayed with me. He is dead and his grown-up daughter is left behind. Should I discard her and tell her that I have nothing to do with her because she is a Muslim? She is a Muslim no doubt, but I can say that she is a good-hearted girl. She does not know that she might have to leave. If the Sardar lets her go, where is she going to stay? Let us not take the law into our own hands. Law may be made by the Sardar or Jawaharlal, but they cannot first issue ordinances and then leave the matter to the public. Today we cannot have such ministers. Granted that that was done during the days of the British. But does it mean that we should do so even now? Shall we invite the same criticism about us which we used to fling at the British? We will not tolerate it. That is all I want to say.

[From Hindi]
Prarthana Pravachan-I, pp. 389-91


  • 1. Ghulam Rasool Qureshi
  • 2. Amina


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