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Thursday, 8th January, 1948

A voice in the wilderness

As January took its cold strides forward, harrowing news coming in from various quarters, and the consequent pressure of more and more work to be done by him, made Bapuji curtail further his even normally brief hours of sleep. Apologising for falling behind on his correspondence which he took with utmost seriousness and promptness, he noted, ``I can cope with the post, only if I attend to it early in the morning, immediately after prayer.''''

But he felt all earnestly that the rest of his work which was, as it were, `killing'' him, was of much greater importance. And of that work: to bring back peace, to promote harmony, to make India and Pakistan two sisters who could live together in cooperation and friendship, and to inculcate discipline in the people, he declared. ``I must achieve something or die in my attempt. I cannot say what will happen. I seek the light. I can glimpse some rays of it in the darkness around. Only when I attain full enlightenment shall unity in Delhi endure.''''

In his prayer meeting address on 7th, Gandhiji told the audience, ``I am told that students are about to go on a strike. This will be a wrong step. To resort to strikes to gain one''s end thus is not non- violence. Students should confine themselves to their studies, and keep away from strikes. I hope they will listen to me. Today I have become weak. Time was, when what I said really went home. That is not the case today. Then, I was the General of non-violence. That time is past. Mine has become now a voice in the wilderness. I can only plead with people, and argue with them. If they see my point, well and good. If not, I am helpless. If the Ministers who are my friends, their secretaries and the police - for I am noone''s enemy - were all to go by what I say, all would be well. But, whatever the reasons, I cannot make the Government today do all that I want it to do. I am as helpless as any of you. I am not God. But let us learn to accept, as a blessing from God, anything that we get. Let us learn contentment.''''

Not only the art of contentment was Bapu anxious to impart. He wanted also the people to become self-reliant, and develop and believe in their own skills and abilities. Just as the leaving of the British had thrown a challenge to the people of the subcontinent, and asked them to prove their mettle in governing themselves, Babu had cast his gaze forward to the time when his co-workers, followers, and the very large circle of his friends and admirers of his philosophy, would all have to reconcile themselves to doing without him. In a letter he wrote on January 8, very early in the morning, Gandhiji told Shanta Nerulkar, Member of the Talimi Sangh, of his approval to the budget proposals which she had sent him.

He said, ``I have signed the budget. I would like the Talimi Sangh to take over everything (i.e., unify and coordinate all the four Sanghs). It will be a test for you all. If you do not master the art of taking work from other institutions, it will be the end of all work. If you are complacent, and depend on my help all the time, you are likely to repent it. How long can I live? If you have the grace of God, you have everything.''''

A very large number of visitors flocked to the Mahatma, for consultation and advice, and unstintingly he gave of his time and attention. Today Bapuji met D. B. Kalelkar, Acharya J. B. Kripalani and Sucheta Kripalani, Rukmini Erulkar, Anantrai Pattani, A. V. Thakkar, and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew.

With affairs in Kashmir and Hyderabad continuing to cause much anxiety, Bapu discussed those and related issues with Prime Minister Nehru, the Deputy Premier, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and also Sheikh Abdullah.