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Saturday, 3rd January, 1948.

''Action without knowledge is of no use''

As lawyer, as leader, as clear-spoken activist and a persuader of well-honed skill, Gandhiji loved the cut and thrust of debate. In his later years, grown into great and well-earned status, his word was as law both within the Indian National Congress and in many circles outside. In those circumstances, the ''born fighter,'' as he often referred to himself, was more and more in the company of people who looked upon him as an oracle not to be questioned! This situation frequently irked the Mahatma. He looked forward to being with persons who did not hesitate to question him. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, and little Manu Gandhi, were among such few persons, and they brought him joy by not hesitating to take him on! He enjoyed nothing more than a doughty opponent - however so a commoner - unsheathing a logical sword to engage in intricate argument! And, patiently and skilfully, Bapu would defend his own position. A piece he wrote for the Harijan, ran thus:

A correspondent from Malabar writes, The confidence with which Dev Prakash Nayyar has written on the The Intellectual Content of the Takli in the Harijan of 21st December takes one''s breath away. He has made out that all knowledge is contained in the Takli, or can be derived from it. No doubt, Takli, Charkha, and spinning, have a place in a proper scheme of education, especially Nayee Talim, but to say that the Takli naturally takes you to Mathematics, Physics, Economics, etc. is sentimental nonsense. Takli enthusiasts need not carry their arguments in favour of spinning to such a ridiculous extent. The cause of spinning cannot be advanced that way.

The correspondent evidently has not read carefully Nayyar''s contribution. As I read the article, I find in it no such claim as the correspondent imagines. The author has not said that ''all knowledge is contained in,'' or that ''it is derived from'' the Takli, nor has he said that it is ''the quintessence of knowledge. His thesis simply is that much of the knowledge that we derive from books can be better imparted by competent teachers by the method of training in crafts. The fact that the correspondent, who is a spinner of long standing, is ''shocked'' at Shri Nayyar''s claim proves that education does not lie in the Takli, but it does in an educationist who, like Shri Dev Prakash, having tested the possibilities of the Takli, is entitled to make his claim. Not even I have attributed to the innocent-looking Takli more than ''economic and moral'' virtues. Even that modest claim has not found universal acceptance. But practical teachers along the line have found many more possibilities in handicrafts than even I have. All honour to them for it. The fall of an apple from its branch is said to have enabled Isaac Newton''s rich mind to discover the law of gravitation.

In another letter which a Gujarati book, Dilhiman Gandhiji, was to reproduce later, Bapu said, The Gita rightly says that action without knowledge is of no worth. If action is informed by knowledge, devotion comes on its own. To do this, one must always take one''s stand on Truth. If one has come to realise Truth, nothing else remains to be done. As we look into a mirror and discover the lightest spots on our face, so must we look into our hearts. Only afterwards may we criticise others.

On the topic of communal peace, Bapu said, I have a long letter apparently written by a Hindu, who says that I have learnt nothing, and so am still friendly with Muslims. He wants to know if I imagine that if war breaks out between India and Pakistan, the Muslims of India will stay loyal and fight against Pakistan. All that I can say is: Wherever we may choose to live, if we want to live as men we must not assume anyone to be bad. Everyone will not be disloyal. Nowhere in the world can everyone be disloyal. What this correspondent writes is out of ignorance and anger. It is this attitude (of distrust) that was responsible for the partition of our country. Today that poison around us is increasing. Kashmir has added more poison. If there is a war, both countries are going to bleed. I do not wish to be alive and be a witness to the carnage. I can only pray to God, and ask you all to join in the prayer, that He may take me away. I pray to God that He may cure us of folly and madness so that our country may continue to progress.