READER: I now understand how foreigners were able to hold
and divide India. I should like to know your views about the
condition of our country.
EDITOR: Condition of India is not much to be exaggerated? You can find both the ends here. As the children do not grow in one day, a person after long illness doesn’t overcome in a day, so is the case with our country.
From the condition of ground down and divided as three nation and further subdivided into thirty-forty states, it takes time to understand the basic disease, weakness and long time to overcome the disease and weakness and still longer time to develop strength, stamina and superiority.
As the diseases are unique, the medicine has to be unique, but still with the entire negativity one can find segregated growth and development. What is positive about India is that its children are gaining confidence and faith in them, their culture and their religion.
On the similar questions of reply of Mr. Gandhi:
ANS: It is a sad condition. In thinking of it my eyes water and my throat gets parched. I have grave doubts whether I shall be able sufficiently to explain what is in my heart. It is my deliberate opinion that India is being ground down, not under the English heel, but under that of modern civilization. It is groaning under the monster’s terrible weight. There is yet time to escape it, but every day makes it more and more difficult. Religion is dear to me and my first complaint is that India is becoming irreligious. Here I am not thinking of the Hindu or the Mohammedan or the Zoroastrian religion but of that religion which underlies all religions. We are turning away from God.
QST: How so?
ANS: There is a charge laid against us that we are a lazy people and that Europeans are industrious and enterprising. We have accepted the charge and we therefore wish to change our condition. Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and all other religions teach that we should remain passive about worldly pursuits and active about godly pursuits, that we should set a limit to our worldly ambition and that our religious ambition should be illimitable. Our activity should be directed into the latter channel.
READER: You appear to be encouraging religion. Many a cheat has, by talking in a religious strain led the people stray? Do you not know that in the name of religion Muslims and Christian, Muslim and Jews, Muslim and Hindus, Christian and Hindus fought against one another? Thousands of innocent men have been murdered, burnt or tortured in its name, and surely this is worst situation.
EDITOR: Read your question, you said in the name of religion, many have taken the name of religion and expanded their empire. Surely many business-mans and kingdoms have taken the name of religion to suppress their enemy and justified their actions among their own class.
Certainly, I am encouraging dharma (religion), I am encouraging the basic faith that is found in the birds, animals and also innate in humans. I am encouraging the ethics which emanates from environment. Cheats are cheats whether in business or in religion and has to be dealt accordingly.
Whenever war or arms are taken up for dharma, it brings goodness to all including opponent. All the god and goddesses of Sanatan dharma have taken such a war to save mankind from the atrocities of few.
On the similar questions reply of Mr. Gandhi :
ANS: I certainly submit that the above hardships are far more bearable than those of civilization. Everybody understands that the cruelties you have named are not part of religion although they have been practiced in its name; therefore there is no aftermath to these cruelties. They will always happen so long as there are to be found ignorant and credulous people. But there is no end to the victims destroyed in the fire of civilization. Its deadly effect is that people come under its scorching flames believing it to be all good. They become utterly irreligious and, in reality, derive little advantage from the world. Civilization is like a mouse gnawing while it is soothing us. When its full effect is realized, we shall see that religious superstition is harmless compared to that of modern civilization? I am not pleading for a continuance of religious superstitions. We shall certainly fight them tooth and nail, but we can never do so by disregarding religion. We can only do so by appreciating and conserving the latter.
QST: You make light of the terror that the Thugs, the Pindaris and the Bhils were to the country.
ANS: If you give the matter some thought, you will see that the terror was by no means such a mighty thing. If it had been a very substantial thing, the other people would have died away before the English advent. Moreover, the present peace is only nominal, for by it we have become emasculated and cowardly. We are not to assume that the English have changed the nature of the Pindaris and the Bhils. It is, therefore, better to suffer the Pindari peril than that someone else should protect us from it and thus render us effeminate. I should prefer to be killed by the arrow of a Bhil than to seek unmanly protection. India without such protection was an India full of valor. Macaulay betrayed gross ignorance when he labeled Indians as being practically cowards. They never merited the charge. Cowards living in a country inhabited by hardy mountaineers and infested by wolves and tigers must surely find an early grave. Have you ever visited our fields? I assure you that our agriculturists sleep fearlessly on their farms even today, but the English and you and I would hesitate to sleep where they sleep. Strength lies in absence of fear, not in the quantity of flesh and muscle we may have on our bodies. Moreover, I must remind you who desire Home Rule that after all, the Bhils, the Pindaris, and the Thugs are our own countrymen. To conquer them is your and my work. So long as we fear our own brethren, we are unfit to reach the goal.
READER: Will you support war in the name of religion?
EDITOR: Can one escape? Either you will be with dharma (as it is innate in us) or against the dharma or against the war. Certainly, we should favour Dharma to save humanity, save the world from nuclear annihilation, save the world from environmental catastrophe. As far as I am concerned I will not run away from the Dharma-Yuddha but only as a last resort-