ACROSS THE HIMALAYAN GAP
White Cross is an international anti-narcotic society whose headquarters
are in Washington, It appears to have branches all over the world. Its
letterhead contains distinguished names as trustees or standing council.
Its executive secretary, Mr. Mckibben, writes long letter urging me to
secure India’s cooperation in the White Cross crusade against opium. I
cull the following passages from the letter;
people of China resisted its invasion in two wars and in 1906 took the
first opportunity in a century and a half to gain deliverance by pulling
up or ploughing under the poppy on millions of acres. So long and so
binding had been their enslavement that it was predicted that at any
attempt to take opium away the Chinese people would rise in insurrection.
Spence, an English writer, said in 1882 that “revolution would result if
the Chinese Government would undertake suppression of the growth of the
poppy, the quiet seaports would be turned into hell, streets would run
with blood: So far were these dire forecasts from coming true that no
action of the Chinese Government was ever so popular as its determined and
successful campaign for poppy destruction. It became a fervent, sweeping,
religious movement. In a thousand cities and villages old smokers stacked
up their pipes in piles as high as the houses as a burnt offering to
Heaven. Jubilant processions, music and banners, voiced the general
thanksgiving, while women wept tears of joy that the century-old curse was
rejoinings were short-lived. The British Government kept its promise to
cease importing opium but, as has happened before and since, as you too
well know, the Western world kept the word of promise to the ear but broke
it to the heart. In place of opium there was poured upon devoted China a
flood of morphine, heroin and cocaine, ten times worse. In this atrocity,
I blush to say, the United States was a participant until a recent day. In
consequence of chaotic conditions, military chieftains have now forced
upon unwilling Chinese farmers, a renewal of poppy planting, excusing
themselves because native opium is better than foreign morphine. Those who
know China best believe that her fundamentally sound conscience will again
respond when the nations give them support and will again rid their land
Is universally recognized that no one nation can save itself. Opium
products are so compact, so easily concealed and the wages of the traffic
so enormous that, as long as the drugs are produced, they will find Their
consumers. The American Congress has accordingly appealed to all nations
to unite in suppressing the opium poppy and the cocaine shrub, reserving
only such amounts as are considered necessary in medicine and science. A
Conference has been agreed on to meet in Geneva in November 1924, to put
into effect this proposal. This Conference will be vested with authority
whereby it may, if it will, inaugurate measures that will deliver the
world from the menace.
question is now before the world, how may this Narcotic Conference be
brought to act in the spirit as well in the letter of this mandate? Shall
they meet the world’s hopes or blast them? To you, Sir, I need not name
one all-powerful agency that may be invoked, namely, the power of public
opinion, the focussing of the world's conscience and conviction upon the
meetings of that Conference.
organization of which I have the honour to be a representative, the White
Cross International Anti-narcotic Society, is seeking a voicing of public
opinion and conscience, focussing it upon the November Conference in a way
to move them irresistibly to use the opportunity providentially in their
hands and rid the world of its greatest physical menace.
experience of China should convince India that fears which have sometimes
been expressed of “Oriental revolt” against “deprivation of opium”
will prove groundless in India as they did in China. It is perhaps not
strange that some representatives of the British Government in India fear
that India is so wedded to opium that “serious consequences would follow
any attempt to take it away”. There is far less danger of this in India
than in China. India has never become enslaved to the extent of China,
even though its victims have largely been those on whom the whole future
depends, namely the babies doped by their mothers day after day while the
mothers are at work in the factories. Indian ladies, who are devoted
Social workers, say this practice is well-nigh universal. If “revolt”
is apprehended, it would seem to a friendly observer most likely to be a
revolt of the people against a Governmental policy which poisons to death
the babies in their mothers’ arms, or leaves them alive as if born old,
pallid, emaciated, stunted, blasted in body and hopeless of future, the
motive being that the Government might get the revenues ‘which it
world can never be delivered until India saves herself by ceasing to
poison her own oncoming generations and by ceasing to pour her opium into
the veins of other nations. For the sake of India and of the world, we lay
before Mr. Gandhi and the people of India this our request for expressions
of their mind such as will convince the coming Opium Conference that India
both seeks deliverance from her own opium enslavement and joins hands for
the redemption of the world. ...
may we ask what is the wish of the people of India as to who shall be
their representatives and spokesmen at the Opium Conference? In previous
meetings, have the convictions of India been accurately voiced? Whether
sent unofficially or, as would be more fitting, clothed with full powers
of representation, we would suggest that India send some of her best sons
to speak for her that the world may know her mind. If in any way our
organization can assist in bringing before the Conference the expressions
of Indian conviction, we shall be at your service.”
White Cross may rely upon India’s cooperation in its noble work. The All
India Congress Committee (A.1.C has only recently unanimously passed a
resolution which places on record its emphatic condemnation of the opium
policy of the Government of India. If every poppy plant were rooted out,
there would be no protest in the land against the act. The people will
certainly rejoice when the whole of the revenue from intoxicating drinks
and drugs is stopped, their sale absolutely Prohibited except strictly as
medicines to be sold by certificated chemists or druggists.
unfortunately for us and the world, India’s opinion is today represented
by a Government that does not represent its people. At the forthcoming
convention, therefore, it will not be the people of India that will be
represented, but it would be the foreign rule over India that will be
represented, in the interests not so much of humanity as chiefly of its
revenue. Whether it would serve any useful purpose to send an unofficial
representative, such as Mr. Andrews,, truly representing the people, is to
be considered by the A.I.C.C.
us. however, see what the goal of the humanitarian crusade is. Miss La
Motte has shown by unchallengeable figures that the world’s production
of opium is far in excess of ,its medical requirements and that so long as
it continues, so long will the immoral and soul-destroying traffic in it
continue in spite of efforts to the contrary. She has shown, too, that the
Government of India is the greatest culprit in the matter. The goal cannot
be reached till the Government of India honestly carries out the wish of
the best mind of the world, immediately to reduce the cultivation of opium
in its jurisdiction to the lowest term possible and without counting the
cost. The Government of India alone has blocked the way and it is feared
that it will do so again, And it will do so not because India wishes, but
because she is helpless,
("War Against Opium”, published in Young India, July 24, 1924, Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Val. 24, pp. 428-30.)
was persistent agitation against the dispatch of Indian troops from almost
all the Indian public bodies. But I am sorry to have to confess that
Indian public opinion is not powerful enough to carry in such matters
weight with the Government. It has to be recognized that we are after all
a fallen nation struggling to rise, and therefore beyond wishing nations
like you all success in their endeavour to attain full freedom, we can do
very little indeed to help.
to Chinese Students Association, May 13, 1927, ibid, Vol. 33, p. 316.)
sadness of the reminder is heightened by the fact that our mercantile
fleet may at any moment be turned into a fleet warring against our own
liberty or against that of nations with which India has no quarrel and
with whose aspirations India may even have every sympathy, as for
instance, China. There is nothing to prevent the Government from
commandeering any one of the ships belonging to the swadeshi companies for
carrying soldiers to punish China for daring to fight for liberty.
Shipping”, in Hindu, Aug. 5, 1927, ibid,
Vol. 34, p. 279),
WITH HENGCHIH TAO*
I am exceedingly sorry to receive you when I am in distress. I may not
break my silence even to speak to you. But of course you will say whatever
you want to. You may speak, I may not.
Tao explained that he was &member of the People’s Council of Action
of all China. This was a body of 140 or 150 drawn from all parties in
China, under which the whole of China was united to meet Japanese
aggression..., under one supreme military command of Chiang Kai-shek ...
Tao was happy that a Medical Mission from India was sailing to China as a
token of India’s sympathy, and he asked Gandhiji if he had any
suggestions to offer in order to fight the war to a successful conclusion.
I do not know that I can throw any light on the problem at the present
moment. My method is so radical that it is wholly inapplicable to your
struggle. You cannot all of a sudden change the course of the struggle. A
nation in arms cannot all at once give up arms and accept non-violence as
Tao saw The difficulty and explained that the Chinese had not even lime to
think, the aggression was so sudden and so unprovoked. But he would like
to discuss problems of national reconstructions. He had given up
university work in order to take up peasants’ education and he was
deeply interested in the Wardha Education Scheme. “What exactly is the
core of the Scheme?” he asked.
The central fact is some village craft through which the whole of the man
or the woman in the child can be drawn out.
there was the difficulty of teachers,” said Prof. Tao, and Gandhiji
laughed. “We had the same difficulty. Would you have trained teachers to
learn a craft or craftsmen to learn the art of teaching?” asked Prof.
The average educated man can be expected easily to master a craft. Our
craftsmen will require much longer time to acquire the necessary general
instruction than an educated man, say like you, can require to learn, say,
said Prof. Tao, “our educated man is after fat jobs and money. How can
he be interested in this?”
If the scheme is sound and appeals to the educated mind, it must prove
attractive in itself and thus wean the educated youth from the lure of
gold. It must fail, if it does not evoke sufficient patriotism from the
educated youth. There is one advantage with us. Those who have received
instruction through the Indian languages cannot enter colleges. It is just
possible that they will find the scheme attractive.
Tao was deeply interested in our present political struggle. How were we
going to acquire power at the centre?
If we are true to our salt in the seven provinces, the accession of
strength that will come to us will put us on the way to power at the
But the power is being felt everywhere, and the Congress prestige has
risen. Has it not?
The Congress prestige has risen. The people have become conscious of their
power and strength. The Government also recognize this. My fear is that
this power may throw us off our balance.
Tao reverted to the question of mass education. He made an attempt to
describe the Chinese system of "relay" teachers whereby each man
or woman who had learnt something had to pass it on to the next one he or
she came across. Even the child, the “little” teacher, had to share
his or her learning with his illiterate parents, and the Chinese through
this system were liquidating illiteracy and ignorance on a mass scale.
I have no doubt that it can. I would like you to write for me a short note
on how the ‘relay” teachers and the "tittle" teachers are
taught, how they teach and with what result.
Tao said he would gladly comply.
Tao would not go without a message from Gandhiji for the people of China.
He explained that even a non-violent message would be welcome.... They
were engaged in a war of self-defence, but in other respects they were
observing nonviolence... On May 20 Chinese planes had flown over Japanese
towns, and they might easily have spread death and destruction among the
people of Japan in retaliation for the bombing of so many Chinese ports by
Japan. But instead of raining bombs they rained handbills and leaflets
showing the wrong of the war....
But the self-inflicted restraint won’t last when the real stress comes.
The temptation will be irresistible. I shall not be surprised. It is
inevitable. There is no love in war. We have got to come to the conclusion
that either there is to be complete non-violence or undiluted violence. Is
not this enough message?
Tao wondered if someday the Chinese might expect to have Gandhiji in their
I almost came to your country when those who had invited me had to stop me
from going owing to the disturbances that had taken place. I do want to
see peace reigning in your land during my lifetime. Nothing will please me
better than to visit your great country someday.
Harijan, Aug. 27, 1938, ibid,
Vol. 67, pp. 250-52.)
as you are engaged in a terrific life-and-death struggle, so are we. Yours
is an ancient country and so is our and although yours is a much bigger
country than ours, ours is not by any means a small country and there is
much in common between you and us. Speaking personally, I may inform you
that I was in touch with the Chinese colony in Johannesburg and gave them
legal advice. They were a colony of 1,200 and I came in closest touch with
everyone of them, and so the Chinese are not strangers to me by any means.
Although you are engaged in a life-and-death struggle and so are we, the
means we employ for regaining our freedom are different from the means you
employ for retaining your freedom. This does not mean that want to
criticize the means you have adopted. The remedy you employ in self-defence
is an age-old one. I am employing a remedy which is unknown to the world
on the political field. But since you have come all the way from China
merely to reciprocate le good wishes that Pandit Jawaharlal carried there,
the only service I can render in my humble way is to put forward before
you and, through you, the Generalissimo, the new remedy I am applying. I
found it in South Africa in 1906, when all my resources were exhausted, in
order to combat difficulties which might have meant the death of the
Indian community in the Transvaal if we lad not found this remedy. And
since 1920, we have applied this remedy more or less successfully, perhaps
with more success than otherwise, till at last the Congress has become a
powerful body, and in a nutshell, it is this, viz., to be prepared to die
as bravely as the bravest Chinese soldier, but without trying to kill your
opponent or do the slightest harm to him, whether in offence or self-defence.
If we succeed here in instilling into the mass mind bravery to die without
killing, I think that not, only shall we have regained our liberty without
violence but we shall have presented to the world a remedy to do away with
all wars. If I have succeeded in giving you the kernel of the movement, I
would ask you to watch this movement with interest and bless it on behalf
of China. More I cannot say until we have regained our liberty with these
absolutely peaceful means.
will see that it is not without a purpose that I have taken up the wheel
at the present moment when, ordinarily speaking, it would be discourtesy
to a guest to keep spinning when he comes. But I have taken it up both to
demonstrate the process and to show you how, externally speaking, I derive
all the power of peace from the spinning-wheel. You will have noticed that
the spinning-wheel finds a central place in our national flag, and it is
the one thing which establishes a living relation and Identification with
the masses of India.
carry my good wishes to the Generalissimo, to the Madame, his staff and
all who are putting up a brave fight in self-defence and I wish you early
to Tai Chi Tao, President of the Examination Yuan of the Chinese
Government, Nov. 22-23, 1940, ibid, Vol. 73, pp. 190-91.)
we cannot take the weavers in our fold nothing will get done. But we
cannot go by mere faith. Today they are using mill yarn, We have to change
this situation. We have to give them handspun yarn. My feeling is that the
War is not going to end soon. No import of cloth will be possible. Prices
of textiles will also rise. Only Indian mills will be manufacturing cloth
for use in India. A time may come when they will not be able to supply all
our requirement. Cloth in India will then become scarce. In China too such
a situation had arisen. But the Chinese are a hard-working people. They
started the charkha in every home and in their own way quickly solved the
problem. Our method will be a little different but the effort required
will be as much or more. A day may come when people will ask us for cloth.
It would be a disgrace to tell them that we could not supply it.
at AISA Meeting, in Khadi Jagat
(Hindi Journal), October, 1941, ibid,
Vol. 74, p. 390.)
you know I am living in a village out of touch with the outside world. I
came to know of your arrival in my country side by side with the precious
message from Pandit Nehru that you were coming to Wardha and to grace my
cottage with your presence. And so I refrained from sending you a word of
welcome. But to my great sorrow I have just learnt that you would not be
able to come to Wardha and you would not think of letting me come to you.
I must leave you to imagine my sorrow that although you are in my country
I shall miss seeing you and your noble partner. We know each other through
correspondence but much more through Jawaharlal Nehru. I have many ties
with your country I know that your’s is a vaster country than mine. and
I do not know that your’s is not a more ancient culture than ours. I
know what it is to lose one’s liberty, having lost it for so many
centuries. My whole heart goes out to you in your fight to preserve your
own. May God crown your effort with success. The knowledge, that
circumstances over which you and I have no control make it impossible for
us to meet brings us closer in sprit.
to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Feb. 11, 1942, ibid, Vof. 75, pp.
Chiang Kai-shek, Delhi
has caused me greatest grief to learn you and your partner cannot visit
Sevagram where my wife and the little settlement were looking forward to
receiving you. Failing this I would have gone anywhere to see you whilst
you were on Indian soil. But I understand from Pandit Nehru that it could
not be. I must be, satisfied with being in spirit with you. All good
wishes for yourselves and your country follow you.
to Chiang Kai-shek, Feb. 13, 1942, ibid,
say that the British power in India should go today for the world peace,
for China, for Russia and for the Allied cause....
INDIA MOVEMENT may not interfere with the movement of British troops, but
it is sure to engage British attention. it would be wrong of them to
reject my proposal and say India should remain a slave in order that
Britain may win or be able to defend China. I cannot accept that degrading
position. India free and independent will play a prominent part in
defending China. Today I do not think she is rendering any real help to
China. We have followed the non-embarrassment policy so far. We will
follow it even now. But we cannot allow the British Government to exploit
it in order to strengthen the stranglehold on India. And today It amounts
to that. The way, for instance, in which thousands are being asked to
vacate their homes with nowhere to go to, no lard to cultivate, no
resources to fall back upon, is the reward of our non-embarrassment. This
should be impossible in any free country. I cannot tolerate India
submitting to this kind of treatment, It means greater degradation and
servility, and when a whole nation accepts servility it means good-bye for
ever to freedom....
have waited long, and I can wait no longer. It is a terrible tragedy that
40 crores of people should have no say in this war. If we have the freedom
to play our part we can arrest the march of Japan and save China.
is fear of the Japanese that makes him [Rajaji] tolerate the British rule.
He would postpone the question of freedom until after the war. On the
contrary I say that if the war is to be decisively won, India must be
freed to play her part today. I find no flaw in my position. I have
arrived at it after considerable debating within myself; I am doing
nothing in hurry or anger. There is not the slightest room in me for
accommodating the Japanese. No, I am sure that India's independence is not
only essential for India, But for China and the Allied cause.
lying at the feet of Great Britain may mean China lying at the feet of
Japan. I cannot help using this language. I feel it. You may think it
starting and big. But why should it be starting? Think of 400 million
people hungering for freedom. They want to be left alone. They are not
savages. They have an ancient culture, ancient civilization, such variety
and richness of languages. Britain should be ashamed of holding these
people as slaves. You may say: "You deserve it" If you do, I
will simply say it is not right for any nation to hold another in bondage.
to Preston Grover, Wardha, June 10, 1942, ibid,
Vol. 76, pp. 207-12.)
can never forget the five hours' close contact i had with you and your
noble wife in Calcutta. I had always felt drawn towards you in your fight
for freedom, and that contact and our conversation brought China and her
problems still nearer to me. Long ago, between 1905 and 1913, when I in
South Africa, I was in constant touch with the small Chinese colony in
Johannesburg. I knew them first as clients and then as comrades in the
Indian passive resistance struggle in South Africa. I came in touch with
them in Mauritius also I learnt then to admire their thrift, industry,
resourcefulness and internal unity. Later in India I had a very fine
Chinese friend living with me for a few years and we all learnt to like
have thus felt greatly attracted towards your great country and, in common
with my countrymen, our sympathy has gone out to you in your terrible
struggle. Our mutual friend, jawaharlal Nehru, whose love of China is only
excelled, if at all, by his love of his own country, has kept us in
intimate touch with the developments of the like him.
have thus felt greatly attracted towards your great country and, in common
with my countrymen, our sympathy has gone out to you in your terrible
struggle. Our mutual friend, Jawaharlal Nehru, whose love of China is only
excelled, if at all, by this love of his own country, has kept us in
intimate touch with the developments of the Chinese struggle.
of this feeling I have towards China and my earnest desire that our two
great countries should come closer to one another and co-operate to their
mutual advantage, I am anxious to explain to you that my appeal to the
British power withdraw from India is not meant in any shape or form to
weaken India's defence against the Japanese or embarrass you in your
struggle. India must not submit to any aggressor or invader and must
resist him. I would not be guilty of purchasing the freedom of my country
at the cost of your country's freedom. That problem does not arise before
me as I am clear that India cannot gain her freedom in this way, and a
Japanese domination of either India or China would be equally injurious to
the other country and to world peace. That domination must therefore be
prevented and I should like India to play her natural and rightful part in
feel India cannot do so while she is in bondage. India has been a helpless
witness of the withdrawals from Malaya, Singapore and Burma. We must learn
the lesson from these tragic events and prevent by all means at our
disposal a repetition of what befell these unfortunate countries. But
unless we are free we can do nothing to prevent it, and the same process
might well occur again, crippling India and China disastrously. I do not
want a repetition of this tragic tale of woe.
proferred help has repeatedly been rejected by the British Government and
the recent failure of the Cripps Mission has left a deep wound which is
still running. Out of that anguish has come the cry for immediate
withdrawal of British power so that India can look after herself and help
China to the best of her ability.
have told you of my faith in non-violence and of my belief in the
effectiveness of this method if the whole nation could turn to it. That
faith in it is as firm as ever. But I realize that India today as a whole
has not that faith and belief, and the Government in free India would be
formed from the various elements composing the nation.
the whole of India is impotent and feels frustrated. The India army
consists largely of people who have joined up because of economic
pressure. They have no feeling of a cause to fight for, and in no sense
are they a national army. Those of us who would fight for a cause, for
India and China, with armed forces or with non-violence, cannot under the
foreign heel, function as they want to. And yet our people know for
certain that India free can play even a decisive part not only on her own
behalf, but also on behalf, but also on behalf of China and world peace.
Many like me feel that it is not proper or manly to remain in this
helpless state and allow events to overwhelm us when a way to effective
action can be opened to us. They feel, therefore, that every possible
effort should be made to ensure independence and that freedom of action
which is so urgently needed. This is the origin of my appeal to the
British power to end immediately the unnatural connection between Britain
we make the effort there is a grave danger of public feeling in India
going into wrong and harmful channels. There is every likelihood of
subterranean sympathy for Japan growing simply in order to weaken and oust
British authority in India. This feeling may take the place of robust
confidence in our ability never to look to outsiders for help in winning
our freedom. We have to learn self-reliance and develop the strength to
work out our own salvation. This is only possible if we make a determined
effort to free ourselves from bondage. That freedom has become a present
necessity to enable us to take our due place among the free nations of the
make it perfectly clear that we want to prevent in every way Japanese
aggression, I would personally agree that the Allied Powers might, under
treaty with us, keep their armed forces in India and use the country as a
base for operations against the threatened Japanese attack.
need hardly give you my assurance that, as the author of the new move in
India, I shall take no hasty actions. And whatever action I may recommend
will be governed by the consideration that it should not injure China, or
encourage Japanese aggression in India or China. I am trying to enlist
world opinion in favour of a proposition which to me appears self-proved
and which must lead to the strengthening of India's and China's defence. I
am also educating public opinion in India and conferring with my
colleagues. Needless to say, any movement against the British Government
with which I may be connected will be essentially non-violent. I am
straining every nerve to avoid a conflict with British authority. But if
in the vindication of the freedom which has become an immediate
desideratum, this becomes inevitable, I shall not hesitate to run any risk
soon you will have completed five years of war against Japanese aggression
and invasion and all the sorrow and misery that these have brought to
China. My heart goes out to the people of China in deep sympathy and in
admiration for their heroic struggle and endless sacrifices in the cause
of their country's freedom and integrity against tremendous odds. I am
convinced that this heroism and sacrifice cannot be in vain; they must
bear fruit. To you, to Madame Chiang and to the great people of China, I
send my earnest and sincere wishes for your success. I look forward to the
day when a free India and a free China will co-operate together in
friendship and brotherhood for their own good and for the good of Asia and
anticipation of your permission, I am taking liberty of publishing this
letter in Harijan.
Vol. 76, pp. 223-26.)
Congress resolution itself hints at the possibility of a large number of
Indians going over of the Japanese side if they effected a landing on the
Indian shores-as we now know happened in Burma, Malaya and for aught I
know Singapore too. i am of the opinion that this might have been
prevented at least so far as Burma is concerned, if she had been made
independent. But it was not done. We know the result. We are determined so
far as it is humanly possible to secure our independence, so that no
Indian worth the name would then think of going over to the Japanese side.
It would then become as much India's interest as the Allies' interest to
resist Japanese aggression with all her might.
never tried any experiment in non-violence. That the Chinese remained
passive for some time is no proof that it was a non-violent attitude. For
the first time in history non-violence instead of being confined to
individuals, religious enthusiasts and mystics, has been brought down to
the political field and been experimented on by vast masses of mankind.
Just imagine, that instead of a few Indians, or even a millions, or even a
million or so, all 400,000,000 Indians were non-violent, would Japan make
any headway in India, unless they were intent upon exterminating all the
four hundred million?
India were to listen to me, she would give non-violent help to \china. But
I know that will not be. Free India would want to be militarist. She will
then get all the material and men she needs-although it appears that China
with her vast populations will not need men. Today unfree India cannot
send a single person to China. I
go further-free India can even plead with Japan and Japan will have to
we have said in our resolution all hopes have been dashed to pieces. The
burden is shifted. But it is open to America, to Britain, to China and
even to Russia to plead for India which is pining for freedom.
with foreign correspondents, July 15,1942, in Harijan,
July 26, 1942, ibid, pp.
must confess at the outset that though I have no ill-will against you, I
intensely dislike your attack upon China. From your lofty height you have
descended to imperial ambition. You will fail to realize that ambition and
may become the authors of the dismemberment of Asia, thus unwittingly
preventing World Federation and brotherhood without which there can be no
hope for humanity.
since I was a lad of eighteen studying in London, over fifty years ago, I
learnt, through the writing of the late Sir Edwin Arnold, to prize the
many excellent qualities of your nation. I was thrilled when in South
Africa I learnt of your brilliant victory over Russian arms. After my
return to India from South Africa in 1915, I came in close touch with
Japanese monks who lived as members of our Ashram from time to time. One
of them became a valuable member of the Ashram in Sevagram, and his
application to duty, his dignified bearing, his unfailing devotion to
daily worship, affability, unrufflednsss under varying circumstances and
his natural smile, which was positive evidence of his inner peace, had
endeared him to all of us. And now that owing to your declaration of war
against Great Britain he has been taken away from us, we miss him as a
dear cc-worker. He has left behind him as a memory his daily prayer and
his little drum, to the accompaniment of which we open our morning and
the background of these pleasant recollections I grieve deeply as I
contemplate what appears to me to be your unprovoked attack against China
and, if reports are to be believed, your merciless devastation of that
great and ancient land.
was a worthy ambition of yours to take equal rank with the great powers of
the world. Your aggression against China and your alliance with the Axis
powers was surely an unwarranted excess of the ambition.
should have thought that you would be proud of the fact that great and
ancient people, whose old classical literature you have adopted as your
own, are your neighbours. Your understanding of one another’s history,
tradition, literature should bind. you as friends rather than make you the
enemies you are today.
I was a free man, and if you allowed me to come to your country, frail
though I am, I would not mind risking my health, maybe my life, to come to
your country to plead with you to desist from the wrong you are doing to
China and the world and therefore to yourself.
I enjoy no such freedom. And we are in the unique position of having to
resist an imperialism that we detest no less than yours and Nazism. Our
resistance to it does not mean harm to the British people. We seek to
convert them. Ours is an unarmed revolt against British rule. An important
party in the country is engaged in a deadly but friendly quarrel with the
in this they need no aid from foreign powers. You have been gravely
misinformed, as I know you are, that we have chosen this particular moment
to embarrass the Allies when your attack against India is imminent. If we
wanted to turn Britain's difficulty into our opportunity we should have
done it as soon as the war broke out nearly three years ago.
movement demanding the withdrawal of the British power from India should
in no way be misunderstood. In fact if we are to believe your reported
anxiety for the independence of India, a recognition that it-dependence by
Britain should leave you no excuse for any attack on India. Moreover the
reported profession sorts ill with your ruthless aggression again China.
would ask you to make no mistake about the fact that you will be sadly
disillusioned if you believe that you will receive a willing welcome from
India. The end and aim of the movement for British withdrawal is to
prepare India, by making her free for resisting all militarist and
imperialist ambition, whether it is called British Imperialism, German
Nazism, or your pattern. If we do not, we shall have been ignoble
spectators of the militarization of the world in spite of our belief that
in non-violence we have the only solvent of the militarist spirit and
ambition. Personally I fear that without declaring the independence of
India the Allied powers will not be able to beat the Axis combination
which has raised violence to the dignity of a religion. The Allies cannot
Britain and the Allies we have appealed in the name of justice, in proof
of their professions, and in their own self-interest. To you I appeal in
the name of humanity. It is a marvel to me that you do not see that
ruthless warfare is nobody's monopoly. If not the Allies some other power
will certainly improve upon your method and beat you with your own weapon.
Even if you wilt leave no legacy to your people of which they would feel
proud. They cannot take pride in a recital of cruel deeds however
if you win it will not prove that you were in the right; it will only
prove that your power of destruction was greater. This applies obviously
to the Allies too, unless they perform now the just and righteous act of
freeing India as an earnest and promise of similarly freeing all other
subject peoples in Asia and Africa.
appeal to Britain is coupled with the offer of free India’s willingness
to let the Allies retain their troops in India. The offer is made in order
to prove that we do not in any way mean to harm the Allied cause, and in
order to prevent you from being misled into feeling that you have but to
step into the country that Britain has vacated. Needless to repeat that if
you cherish any such idea and will carry it out, we will not fail in
resisting you with all the might that our country can muster. I address
this appeal to you in the hope that our movement may even influence you
and your partners in the right direction and deflect you and them from the
course which is bound to end in your moral ruin and the reduction of human
beings to robots.
hope of your response to my appeal is much fainter than that of response
from Britain. I know that the British are not devoid of a sense of justice
and they know me. I do not know you enough to be able to judge. All I have
read tells me that you listen to no appeal but to the sword. How I wish
that you are cruelly misrepresented and that I shall touch the right chord
in your heart! Anyway I have an undying faith in the responsiveness of
human nature. On the strength of that is that faith which has prompted
this appeal to you.
to Japanese, being published by Japanese newspapers, Nichi Nichi, Yomiuri, Miyako in Harijan,
July 26, 1942, ibid, pp. 309-12.)
use of tea is said to have originated in China. It has a special use in
that country. As a rule, one cannot rely on the purity of drinking-water
in China and therefore it must be boiled before use to ensure safety. Some
clever Chinaman discovered a grass called tea which when added to boiling
water in a very small quantity gave it a golden colour.
thought, same like coffee and cocoa, tea was not required by human body.)
to Health” Arogyani Chavi, in
Gujarati original rendered into Hindi, then, English, Sept. 10, 1942, ibid, Vol. 77, p. 14.)
century] ago, what is known as the Opium War took place between China and
Great Britain. China did not wish to buy opium from India. But the English
wanted to impose it on China. India was also to blame, in that several
Indians had taken opium contracts in India. The trade paid well and the
treasury received crores of rupees as opium revenue. This was obviously an
immoral trade and yet it went on flourishing. Finally, as a result of a
mighty agitation in England, it was stopped. A thing of this type, which
simply ruins people, should not be tolerated for a single minute.
11, 1942, ibid, p. 17.)
long for the real friendship between China and India based not on
economics or politics but on irresistibfe attraction. Then will follow
real brotherhood of man.
to Prof. Tan Yun-shan dated Mahabaleshwar April 29, 1945, ibid, Vol. 94, p. 199.)
consider myself a Chinese.
added, he was no stranger to the Chinese. He had lived among them in South
Africa and many of them were in jail with him during the passive
resistance movement there,)
is a great friend of China. In
Pandit Nehru, China has a guarantee of that friendship.
to Chinese delegation of ibid, Vol. 89, p, 476.)
*"Hengchih Tao was famous Chinese educationist Tao Xingzhi (or Spelled as HsingChih).- Editor
©1998 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi
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