12th January, 1948
Emulate the good, eschew the evil ''
what you know is right according to your well-trained conscience. Emulate
the good earnestly, and eschew the example of evil. This message Bapu ceaselessly
urged upon the people. In condemning the attitude of some religious fanatics
seeking to justify their own intolerance by pointing a finger towards Pakistan''s
rabid groups, the Mahatma exhorted that returning evil for evil would benefit
no one, and that resort to retribution was not the way of the good. I invite
every inhabitant of India to join me in stern refusal to copy bad manners
from anywhere, he said in his own soft voice and gentle manner, but unmistakably
In an article
for the Harijan on Sunday, Bapuji reproduced a reply he had sent to
a correspondent who said that decontrol was followed by escalation
of prices, and feared further outbreaks of Hindu-Muslim riots if Muslims
in India continued to be treated softly. The Mahatma told this Cassandra-ite,
We have become independent, but you write as if you still had the
slave mind! If decontrol has produced the bad effect you attribute
to it, you should raise your voice - even though you may be alone
so, and your voice may be feeble.
As a matter of
fact, you have many companions, and your voice is by no means feeble,
unless intoxication by power has enfeebled it! The bogey of prices
shooting up due to decontrol does not frighten me. If we have many
sharks in society, and we do not know how to combat them, we deserve
to be eaten up by them! We should know how to carry ourselves in the
teeth of adversity. In a real democracy, people learn not from books,
nor from the government who are in reality their servants. They learn
from hard experience which is the most efficient teacher in democracy.
Your second letter about Hindu-Muslim tension is more to the point
than the first letter. Here too you should raise your voice openly
if you find any soft handling of the situation. I too shall do my
part, but I am painfully conscious of my limitations. Formerly I could
afford to be monarch of all that I surveyed. Today I have many fellow-
monarchs, if I may count myself as a monarch still! But even if I
can do so, I am the least among them.
Speak as he did
bluntly about the weakness into which he had been cast so soon after
he had brought independence to the nation by single-handed determination,
unquenchable fearlessness and persistent zeal, Bapuji could yet distance
himself impersonally from the passing moment and his own personal
pain to state universal truths.
The Congress today
is falling down. Everybody in it wants to become an MLA, and those
who succeed in getting elected do not work for the country, but for
themselves alone. An MLA gets quite a sizable salary which is quite
adequate for more than his necessities. But, the correspondent (Mr.
Konda Vekatappayya) says MLAs are corrupt, they harass civil servants,
and they try to browbeat them into doing their bidding. In this way
both suffer - the civil servants, as well those who call themselves
the people''s representatives.
The rot is spreading
among us. The more the people we return to the Legislative Assemblies,
the greater the amount there is of filth. My correspondent suggests
that we should reduce the number of MLAs because, in any case, they
do not represent the people, and go into the Assemblies only to serve
their own self-interest.
The MLAs also
feel self- important and talk about capturing the whole of India.
But who will control India? Let us not say that India is ours, rather
let us say that we belong to India. If we make India our own, we must
do so, not to further our own self- interest and to enrich our relatives,
but to serve our motherland.
of silence also saw him write a touching tribute in Gujarati to Totaram
Sanadhya who had passed away after a distinguished life of pious work
steadfastly true to Gandhian manner and example. Bapu said, Totaramji
has passed away at a ripe old age without requiring any nursing. He
was a jewel of the Sabarmati Ashram.
Though not a scholar,
he had wisdom. He had a treasure of devotional songs, though he was
not an accomplished singer. He used to delight audiences at the Ashram,
with his Ektara instrument and his devotionals.