Post Prayer Speech 1947-10-15

By Mahatma Gandhi BROTHERS AND SISTERS, Many persons come to see me every day. Some of them leave with me blankets and money for the refugees. A lady has given me today a cheque for Rs. 2,000. Two persons also came to see me on behalf of the Muslims. They have collected blankets and some […]

By

Mahatma Gandhi

BROTHERS AND SISTERS,

Many persons come to see me every day. Some of them leave with me blankets and money for the refugees. A lady has given me today a cheque for Rs. 2,000. Two persons also came to see me on behalf of the Muslims. They have collected blankets and some money which they have passed on to me. They are craftsmen. They have not even given their names. I asked them to distribute those things themselves among their own fellowmen who have suffered. But they said they wanted to hand over the things in Gandhi’s hands, because such things should be distributed among the Hindus and the Sikhs who have suffered in West Punjab. I was touched by their sentiment. In the present conditions even if a few Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs do things like these, they must be written down in letters of gold. They said that at one time they considered me an enemy of the Muslims; but now they were convinced that I was a friend to everyone. So am I, and I claim to be one. I do not need a certificate from anyone for that. I have lived in that spirit not for five or seven years but for the last 60 years.

It is generally said that every Sikh regards the Muslim as his enemy and vice versa. But this is absolutely incorrect. It is true that a considerable number of Sikhs went wild, as did a large number of Hindus and Muslims. But for that reason to say that the whole community of Sikhs is like that or that all Muslims are the same is quite unjust. I have with me innumerable instances showing how the Sikhs and the Hindus saved Muslims and the Muslims saved the Sikhs and the Hindus by keeping them in their own houses. Not only from the Punjab and the Frontier Province but from every place such instances have been reported. The newspapers should give proper publicity to these things. Let them give up publishing the news about the Hindus and the Muslims killing each other. That does nothing but harm. The Press has become very powerful in the present world. It can render great service if it so chooses.

One-fourth of the entire Muslim population is concentrated in the U. P. They speak Urdu. If we want them to stay there the Devanagari script should not be forced on them. Malaviyaji too had worked much in the interest of Hindi. But I never heard him say that the Urdu language should be wiped out. Those who are in power in the U. P. today are big people and they are good workers. They keep the Muslims with them. But if on the one hand we say that the Muslims should not go from here, and on the other hand go on insulting them and try to keep them as slaves, then on their own they will be compelled to go away from here. Should our being in majority make us so arrogant that we would not tolerate the presence of others? We should never be like that. Everybody should learn both the Hindi and the Urdu scripts. If the Muslims want to go away to Pakistan of their own free will, they should be allowed to do so. But we must do our duty. After all, Muslims have left their stamp all over the U. P., and there are grand Muslim monuments in Agra, Lucknow, Deoband, Azamgarh and other cities. There are many nationalist Muslims in those places. Besides, there are many Hindus who know only Urdu. Tej Bahadur Sapru is a great Urdu scholar. Should he be compelled to write in the Devanagari script? Should he be asked to forget Urdu? Are we going to cut off our own hands? If we were to do any such thing, our excesses would reach the limit. I have no doubt that we will not be able to protect Hinduism in this way. We should not follow the example of Pakistan. Hence I call upon the U. P. Government in a spirit of love, even though I have no control over it, to withdraw its circular¹.

[From Hindi]
Prarthana Pravachan-I, pp. 422-4

Notes

  • 1. A report had appeared in the Press that the official language of the U. P. would be Hindi in the Devanagari script.

Notes

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