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Sunday 4th January, 1948

Dark force of destiny at work

The Mahatma''s life''s mission, his never-say-die cheerful personality, and his singular habit of pursuing humanitarian ends were sincerely admired by many leading workers for religion and peace throughout the world. One of them, the American pacifist, Dr. John Haynes Holmes, wrote and told Bapu, Of course you have been sad well nigh overborne, by the recent tragedies, but you must never feel that this involves breakdown of your life''s work. Your teaching has remained as true, and your leadership as sound as ever. Single-handedly, you have saved the situation. I count these last few months to be the crown and climax of your unparalleled career. You were never as great as in these dark hours. Wryly, Bapu commented on the praise that he had so received, I wonder if the claim regarding my achievement can be proved. Have I indeed attained the qualifications for exhibiting the virtues of Ahimsa as Dr. Holmes has said?

The Mahatma had a never-failing felicitous gift of using simple analogies to reinforce his vital teachings. Writing to a man more angry than sad at the way things were sliding from bad to worse in those early days of independent India, Gandhiji said, I have your angry letter. How can I tolerate your being so angry? When iron is heated, sparks fly from it. But, however, much one may strike it with a hammer, the hammer does not become so hot. If you can only make yourself like that hammer, everything will come about as you desire.

Another letter, refusing an invitation to him to move out of the capital, was written in a saturnine mood. It showed that he was not unaware of some dark force of destiny that was keeping him where he was. Gandhiji said, It does not appear likely that I shall be able to get out of Delhi. Here I have to stay, and do or die. You may think that there is peace in Delhi. But it is not the peace that comes from hearts, but one imposed by arms. I await the call from within. I have many people to attend on me, and of the girls, Manu has a significant part in this yagna. I live in palatial Birla House. But I find no rest. To another friend in Calcutta, he wrote, I am striving to realise Rama. The situation is perilous here. This conflagration must not spread. If there is the slightest disturbance in Bengal and Bihar, you shall not find me alive. Let everyone have this message of mine.

Holding to his promise, Mahatmaji held his dusk prayer meeting on the 3rd in the premises of the Wavell Canteen. He asked his audience, which had a larger share of whom than usual, to join him in sincerely praying for peace and love to be established in India and in all the world, and for all men to become trusting brothers. Gandhiji said, Only when peace issues from within the heart, and is expressed through the eyes, words, and actions of men, can we say that it has been truly established. A man of peace can live happily in a mud hut and have no worry about the morrow, for he knows that only God can know what will happen the next day. Shri Ramachandra, the son of King Dasaratha, was a man like us. He had no idea when he was about to be installed on the throne in Ayodhya, that he would have to go into forest exile. But he realised only too well that securing peace of mind was not the same thing as securing a throne, and that peace was not dependent on external conditions. Therefore, when he knew he had to go on exile, his peace was not ruffled. If our Hindus and Sikhs could have that realisation, the madness that seized them would have been cured and, whatever the actions of Muslims, they themselves would have remained calm. If Hindus and Sikhs realise this even now, I am sure that it will have the most desirable effect on Muslims. On Sunday the 4th of January, Bapu met the Congress President, Babu Rajendra Prasad, the Prime Minister, and also prominent Muslim leaders including Dr. Zakir Hussain, for important discussions.

In a letter written today, again Bapu''s sense of uncertainty of what the morrow might bring, and his salutary sense of being reconciled in advance most calmly to whatever did happen both showed: Who knows what will happen tomorrow? he asked, and added, Everything about me is uncertain. Resolute faith in the efficacy of Rama Nama alone, he relentlessly counselled.