10th January, 1948.
resolve to fight His strange grace
As incidents of
lawlessness stemming from communal intolerance had turned Delhi into
a garrison city, the Mahatma''s personal and social sensitivities lay
ripped open and wounded at the sight of what was happening. He was
caught in the vortex of a terrible conflict churning his mind. Repeatedly,
he told himself that not a leaf in the universe would fall from its
attachment to the tree but in obedience to the Almighty''s over-arching
imperial will and power. Whatever was happening, and however much
it harrowed his heart, that happened only by leave of Almighty God''s
abundant grace. But then what strange grace was He up to, by permitting
terrible violence and destruction to spread amongst His ignorant children?
So said the Mahatma question, and restlessly and desperately, wonder.
of God''s power and dominion did not prevent the saint from resteeling
his own resolve to prevent the calamities from growing worse, and
positively to do everything he could to turn back their tide. This
resolve he was bent on carrying out even if it meant having to contend
against the Almighty''s will itself! Wherefore, did he add some significant
words in the letter mentioned above. The Mahatma wrote, ``But, I have
to do or die here. Those who believe that Delhi can be saved by arms
are greatly mistaken. Whether it be Delhi, or the whole world, the
only thing that can save all of us is amity flowing from the heart.
I have no time for all that has to be done. There is a heap of letters
to be answered. So, only this much for today!''''
the young Muslim girl doing peace work in Noakhali, had written to
Gandhiji displaying a welter of angst, woe, and anger at what had
come about to divide the Hindus and Muslims of India. In consequence
of that division, she herself had suffered much: her brothers and
family had to leave their home in native Patiala and India, and flee
to Pakistan. Their whereabouts were not known. To Amtus in agony,
thus Gandhiji replied, ``Your letter is full of anger. Anger seems
to be the food on which you subsist. Let it be. Can one help one''s
own nature? I have never felt that you are a Muslim, and that I am
a Hindu. The only feeling I have is that you are A.S. and that I am
Gandhi. Where our ``atmans'''' are concerned, we are one. In my view,
you are the moving spirit behind whatever peace has been achieved
in Noakhali. It was, and still is, your most significant work. Only
you can sustain it. Wherever you stand, you stand in the capacity
of my daughter, do you not? What can be done if you hold a different
view, despite my opinion that you should forget all about Patiala?
Blessings, from Bapu.''''
A delegation from
Saurashtra, including Mr. Balwantrai Mehta, wanted Bapu''s help to
make the dedicated and well-known educationist, Mr. Nrisimha Prasad
Kalidas Bhatt, Chief Minister of Bhavgar. Bapu disagreed and said,
``He will not shine more by becoming Chief Minister. You should have
Nanabhai as your counsellor, even as Sage Vashishtha was in Rama''s
Rajya. He will not fit well in the seat of power. His place can and
be in the field of education. If everyone becomes the Chief Minister,
who will then make up the subjects? Just as the Ministers should be
educated, so too should the people be educated. Only if the people
are so educated, will they keep the Ministers on their toes, and ensure
Mr. Arthur Henderson,
British Secretary for Air, and Mr. Malcom MacDonald, Governor-General
of Malaya, called on the Mahatma on their way to London via New Delhi,
and proffered their admiration on the way he was striving to restore
peace and harmony in post- Partition India. After prayers on Friday
evening, Bapu explained why he was living in Birla House. He said,
``I came here at a time when Delhi was in the grip of communal rioting.
The town looked like a graveyard. Bhangi Colony had become crowded
with refugees. It was feared that anything might happen anywhere.
Sardar Patel said that he would not allow me to live there. So, they
moved me to Birla House. I did not object, because I cannot make do
without a room. There had to be an office and a kitchen, and moreover
there are people living with me. Hence I am in Birla House. I am also
within easy reach of the Ministers. They do not send for me. Out of
their kindness they themselves come to see me. It takes them only
two minutes to come. Muslim brethren also find it easy to come here
while they are scared of going to Bhangi Colony, with goondaism ruling
the streets. Anyone going on a bicycle is pulled down and his belongings
are snatched away. Even those travelling in cars are stopped and looted.
Such is our present plight. This is a matter of great shame.''''