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Monday, 26th January 1948

''Villager is the salt of Indian earth''

Who knows what will happen tomorrow? It is not given to the average mortal man to pierce the veils that block a clear view of the future. But coming events do cast their shadows before. The Mahatma was no crystal gazer, though there were not a few, especially in the West, who confused the spiritual cast he had given to his life to associate it with sooth- saying! Repeatedly he tried to disabuse them of such notions. His spirituality in truth was that of a determined person of the highest ideals, who sought in himself and in others to bring them to realisation by hard application and toil. He endeavoured to move towards the light, not to pierce an opening showing the future, but to make things radiant here upon earth for the glory and greatness of humankind. Gandhiji wanted to be guided in his journey not by the fumbling and faltering steps of someone groping towards a prophesied future, but by the firm hand of God, whom Bapu saw as Living Truth and the Redeeming Grace of Sri Rama.

Again and again, like the vital rhythm of the living heart, Gandhiji''s thoughts throbbed with concern for the people of the myriad of villages which made up the most of India. Bapu was convinced absolutely that unless their lot was improved the nation really could not advance. In a letter he wrote on Sunday to Prabhudayal Vidyarthi, the Mahatma observed that a lot of difficulties had to be expected in carrying out the tasks of rural reconstruction. But the workers committed to them had to be resolute, hardy, and also tactful bringers about of change.

Gandhiji attended the second session of the Congress Working Committee on Sunday afternoon. He supported the proposal for Provinces being created on the basis of India''s major languages, but insisted that thereafter their citizens should all be true children of mother India, living together in fraternal love and cooperation. Bapu came on the dot of the hour to Sunday''s prayer meeting. Speaking to the audience which was swelling from day to day and from hour to hour, he said,I will not ask how many Muslims there are at this meeting. I shall only ask everyone to treat them as their brothers. More and more people have been coming to the prayer. If each one of them makes it a point to bring a Muslim friend, it will be a great thing.

The Urs (Muslim festival) at the shrine of Khwaja Syed Kutub- ud-Din Bakhtiar in Mehrauli will start from tomorrow. Earlier this year, the shrine was demolished. Now it has been repaired, and the Urs will take place as usual. Formerly, a large number of Muslims and an equal number of Hindus used to go there. The Hindus should go there with peace and reverence in their hearts.

Referring to his programme, in February, the sage said, I shall leave for Wardha on February 2, with Rajendra Babu accompanying me. But I shall try to return to Delhi as soon as I can. The report that I shall be staying in Wardha for a month is not correct. I shall go only if you bless me and assure me you will not start fighting as soon as I leave! Later I want to visit Pakistan also, if that Government allows it.

On Monday the 26th, his day of weekly silence, Bapu held ''talks'' with Dr. Gopichand Bhargava, Mr. Prafulla Chandra Ghosh, and others, giving his remarks and replies in written chits. He followed the same procedure when he attended another session of the Congress Working Committee. At the evening prayer meeting, his written speech was read out by Pyarelal to the assemblage.

The Mahatma said, This day, 26th January, is India''s Independence Day. This observance was quite appropriate when we were fighting for independence, and we had not seen or handled it. Now that we have seen and handled it, we seem to be disillusioned. At least, I am disllusioned.What are we celebrating today? Surely not our disillusionment! What we are entitled to celebrate is the hope that the worst is over, and that we are on the road to showing the lowliest of India''s villagers that it means his freedom from being a serf, and that he is no longer a slave born to serve the cities and towns of India, but that he is entitled to use city-dwellers for the finished products of his well thought-out labours. He is the salt of Indian earth.