4th January, 1948
force of destiny at work
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.
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