29th January, 1948
constructive workers take over''
was paying his best attention to the future of the Congress. On a
new constitution for the organisation he was working with the closest
attention. It was almost as if he was drawing up a testament with
very great care.
He had talks with
R. R. Diwakar, Acharya Jugal Kishore and members of the Congress''s
Constitution sub-committee. Then there followed talks with Babu Rajendra
Prasad, Prime Minister Pandit Nehru, and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur.
Now that freedom
had been won for India, Bapu wanted the people to turn their attention
to constructive activities. In them he saw a rationale and the means
for Government to be run well: by having as its compass the welfare
of the people; and by putting the control wheel in the hands of constructive
With this at the
back of his mind, in his interview with the American author, Mr. Vincent
Sheean, Gandhiji said that the functions of Government could not be
carried on without using force; he reiterated his conviction,A
man who wants to be good, and to do good in all circumstances, must
not hold power.
Is all Government
to stand still then?'''' Sheean wanted to know. And the apostle, ever
practical in thought and deed, replied, ``No. He, the man of non-violence,
can send persons to Government who represent his purpose and will.
If he goes there himself, he exposes himself to the corrupting influence
of power. But my representative there holds, as it were, a power of
attorney only during my pleasure. If he falls a prey to temptation,
he can be recalled. But I cannot recall myself!
All this requires
a high degree of intelligence on the part of the electorate. There
are organisations of constructive work. I do not want to send their
workers to Parliament. These workers I want to stay outside and keep
Parliament under check. The constructive workers will do so by educating
and guiding the voters.
Bapu told Sheean
that his approach to moral behaviour was of the highest practical
value to all mankind. I have given my time not to abstract studies,
but to the practice of things that matter, he declared.
Sheean had read
the Bhagavad Gita. He asked,The whole of it is in defence of a
righteous war. The Second World War was fought as a righteous war.
Yet violence is more rampant after it. What did the Mahatma think?
Gandhiji replied,See what is happening in India, in Kashmir. Yet,
I have faith. If I live long enough, my followers will see the futility
of it (employing force), and come round to my way.
that though the Gita was presented in the physical setting of a battle-field,
the righteous war in its text referred rather to the eternal duel
between right and wrong that was going on all the time within the
human heart. The thesis of the Gita was neither violence, nor non-violence;
it advocated right, detached action pursued with right means, leaving
the fruits of every action to the care of Almighty God.
The call of stern
duty kept him going, but he seemed to be troubled by pre-sentiments
as well. In a letter to a Gujarati friend, Bapu said, I am still
knocking about in a dark world. I do not intend to stay here for long.
Whatever has to be decided will be decided within the next four days.
At his prayer
meeting on the 28th, there was a return again to the topic of South
Africa, where his social and political career had begun long decades
ago, and where Indians were still fighting for their rights.
The Mahatma said,
In South Africa, our people are fighting. In India, we have no laws
depriving the people of the right of owning land or living wherever
they please. That is so in South Africa. Indians there are having
to struggle to safeguard their rights and defend the honour of India.
Their struggle has taken the form of Satyagraha. The Indians are few
in number, but if they are true Satyagrahis, their victory is certain.
I shall ask the Government of South Africa not to be too severe with
the Satyagrahis who carry on their legitimate struggle with such decency.
The Government should understand their grievances, and come to a settlement
Up soon after
3 a.m. on Thursday, and ablutions and prayer over in the cold, dark
hours when the wind outside howled bitterly, Bapu set himself to spinning
on the Charkha and dictating his letters.
To a friend Sankaran,
who had lost his daughter, Bapu said: What comfort can I give? Death
is a true friend. It is only our ignorance which causes us grief.
Sulochana''s spirit was yesterday, is today, and will remain tomorrow.
The body, of course, must die. Sulochana''s body has gone taking her
failings with her, leaving only the good behind. Let us not forget
that or her. Be even more true now, in the discharge of your duty.