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Re: Nuclear tests

Dear friends,

A gentleman by the name of Marcelo Centenaro has sent me a superb
collection of quotes from the Mahatma. Let us all read these quotes, think
about their meaning and discuss the implications of these, if any, for our
view on nuclearization. 

Dear Marcelo, I will respond to you - hopefully - in a few weeks, after
thinking more about these issues as well as discussing with a few friends. 
If I fail to reply please remind me. Thanks for your patience, and thanks
for taking the time off to sending me these quotes. I think we both want
the same result - non-violence. The only question, perhaps, is how. 

On Mon, 18 May 1998, Marcelo Centenaro wrote:

>  Mr. Sanjeev Sabhlok,
> I want to present some words about the nuclear tests carried by India:
> Non violence
> "Had Lala Lajpat Rai first ascertained what I had actually said on ahimsa,
> his remarks in the Modern Review for last July would not have seen the
> light of day. Lalaji rightly questioned whether I actually made the
> statements imputed to me. He says that if I did not, I should have
> contradicted them. In the first place, I have not yet seen the papers which
> have reported the remarks in question or those wherein my remarks were
> criticised. Secondly, I must confess that I would not undertake to correct
> all the errors that creep into reports that appear in the public press
> about my speeches. Lalalji's article has been much quoted in the Gujarati
> newspapers and magazines; and it is perhaps as well for me to explain my
> position. With due deference to Lalaji, I must join issue with him when he
> says that the elevation of the doctrine of ahimsa to the highest position
> contributed to the downfall of India. There seems to be no historical
> warrant for the belief that an exaggerated practice of ahimsa synchronised
> with our becoming bereft of many virtues. During the past fifteen hundred
> years, we have as a nation given ample proof of physical courage, but we
> have been torn by internal dissensions and have been dominated by love of
> self instead of love of country. We have, that is to say, been swayed by
> the spirit of irreligion rather than of religion.
> "I do not know how far the charge of unmanliness can be made good against
> the Jains. I hold no brief for them. By birth I am a Vaishnavite, and was
> taught ahimsa in my childhood. I have derived much religious benefit from
> Jain religious works, as I have from scriptures of the other great faiths
> of the world. I owe much to the living company of the deceased philosopher
> Raja Chand Kavi who was a Jain by birth. Thus though my views on ahimsa are
> a result of my study of most of the faiths of the world, they are now no
> longer dependent upon the authority of these works. They are a part of my
> life and if I suddenly discovered that the religious books read by me bore
> a different interpretation from the one I had learnt to give them, I should
> still hold to the view of ahimsa as I am about to set forth here.
> "Our shastras seem to teach that a man who really practises ahimsa in its
> fullness has the world at this feet, he so affects his surroundings that
> even the snakes and other venomous reptiles do him no harm. This is said to
> have been the experience of St. Francis of Assisi.
> "In its negative form, it means not injuring any living being, whether by
> body or mind. I may not therefore hurt the person of any wrong-doer, or
> bear any ill will to him and so cause him mental suffering. This statement
> does not cover suffering caused to the wrong-doer by natural acts of mine
> which do not proceed from ill-will. It, therefore, does not prevent me from
> withdrawing from his presence a child whom he, we shall imagine, is about
> to strike. Indeed the proper practice of ahimsa required me to withdraw the
> intended victim from the wrong-doer, if I am in any way whatsoever the
> guardian of such a chid. It was therefore most proper for the passive
> resisters of South Africa then. They bore no ill will to it. They showed
> this by helping the Government whenever it needed their help. Their
> resistance consisted of disobedience of the orders of the Government, even
> to the extent of suffering death at their hands. Ahimsa requires deliberate
> self-suffering, not a deliberate injuring of the supposed wrong-doer.
> "In is positive form, ahimsa means the largest love, the greatest charity.
> If I am a follower of ahimsa, I must love my enemy. I must apply the same
> rule to the wrong-doer who is my enemy or a stranger to me, as I would to
> my wrong-doing father or son. This active ahimsa necessarily includes truth
> and fearlessness. A man cannot deceive the loved ones; he does not fear or
> frighten him or her. 'Gift of life' is the greatest of all gifts; A man who
> gives it in reality disarms all hostility. He has paved the way for an
> honourable understanding. And none who is himself subject to fear can
> bestow that gift. He must therefore be himself fearless. A man cannot then
> practice ahimsa and be a coward at the same time, The practice of ahimsa
> calls forth the greatest courage. It is the most soldierly of a soldier's
> virtues. General Gordon has been represented in a famous statue as bearing
> only a stick. This takes us far on the road to ahimsa. But a soldier who
> needs the protection of even a stick is to that extent so much the less a
> soldier. He is the true soldier who knows how to die and stand his ground
> in the midst of a hail of bullets. Such a one was Ambarish who stood his
> ground without lifting a finger, though Durvasa did his worst. The Moors,
> who on being powdered by the French gunners rushed into the guns' mouth
> with 'Allah' on their lips, showed much the same type of courage. Only
> theirs was the courage of desperation. Ambarish's was due to love. Yet the
> Moorish valour, readiness to die, conquered the gunners. They frantically
> waved their hats, ceased firing and greeted their erstwhile enemies as
> comrades. And so the South African passive resisters in their thousands
> were ready to die rather than sell their honour for a little personal ease.
> This was ahimsa in its active form. It never barters away honour, A
> helpless girl in the hands of a follower of ahimsa finds better and surer
> protection than in the hands of one who is prepared to defend her only to
> the point to which his weapons would cary him. The tyrant, in the first
> instance, will have to walk to his victim over the dead body of her
> defender, in the second he has but to overpower the defender, for it is
> assumed that the canon of propriety in the second instance will be
> satisfied when the defender has faught to the extent of his physical
> valour. In the first instance, as the defender has matched his very soul
> against the mere body of the tyrant, the odds are that the soul in the
> latter will be awakened, and the girl will stand an infinitely greater
> chance of her honour being protected than in any other conceivable
> circumstance - barring, of course, that of her own personal courage.
> "If we are unmanly today, we are so not because we do not know how to
> strike, but because we fear to die. He is no follower of Mahavira, the
> apostle of Jainism, or of Buddha or of the Vedas, who being afraid to die
> takes flight before any danger, real or imaginary, all the while wishing
> that somebody else would remove the danger by destroying the person causing
> it. He is no follower of ahimsa ( I agree with Lalaji) who does not care a
> straw if he kills a man by inches by deceiving him in trade, or who will
> protect by force of arms a few cows and make away with the butcher, or who
> in order to do a supposed good to his country does not mind killing off a
> few officials. All these are actuated by hatred, cowardice and fear. Here
> love of the cow or the country is a vague thing intended to satisfy one's
> vanity or soothe a stinging conscience.
> "Ahimsa, truly understood, is in my humble opinion a panacea for all evils,
> mundane and extra-mundane. We can never overdo it. Just at present, we are
> not doing it at all. Ahimsa does not displace the practice of other
> virtues, but renders their practice imperatively necessary before it can be
> practised even in its rudiments. Lalaji need not fear the ahimsa of his
> father's faith. Mahavira and Buddha were soldiers, and so was Tolstoy. Only
> they saw deeper and truer in their profession, and found sharers with these
> teachers and this land of ours will once more be the abode of gods."
> (This was Gandhi's reply to Lajpat Rai's critical article on his concept of
> Non-violence in the Modern Review of July, 1916)
> Gandhi's message of Universal Brotherhood 
> "My patriotism is not an exclusive thing. It is all-embracing and I should
> reject that patriotism which sought to mount upon the distress or the
> exploitation of other nationalities. The conception of my patriotism is
> nothing if it is not always in every case, without exception, consistent
> with the broadest good of humanity at large. Not only that but my religion
> and my patriotism derived from my religion embrace all life. 
> "I want to realise brotherhood or identity nor merely with the beings
> called human, but I want to realise identity with all life, even with such
> beings as crawl on earth. I want, if I don't give you a shock, to realise
> identity with even the crawling things upon earth, because we claim common
> descent from the same God, and that being so, all life in whatever form it
> appears must be essentially one."
> (Young India, 4.4.1929)
> "Just as the cult of patriotism teaches us today that the individual has to
> die for the family, the family has to die for the village, the village for
> the district, the district for the province, and the province for the
> country, even so a country has to be free in order that it may die, if
> necessary, for the benefit of the world."
> (Gandhiji in Indian Village; Mahadev Desai, 1927)
> "Nothing can be farther from my thought than that we should become
> exclusive or erect barriers. But I do respectfully contend that an
> appreciation of other cultures can fitly follow, never precede, an
> appreciation and assimilation of our own.
> "My religion forbids me to belittle or disregard other cultures, as it
> insists under pain of civil suicide upon imbibing and living my own."
> (Young India, 1.9.1921)
> "It is impossible for one to be internationalist without being a
> nationalist. Internationalism is possible only when nationalism becomes a
> fact, i.e., when peoples belonging to different countries have organised
> themselves and are able to act as one man. It is not nationalism that is
> evil, it is the narrowness, selfishness, exclusiveness which is the bane of
> modern nations which is evil. Each wants to profit at the expense of, and
> rise on the ruin of, the other. Indian nationalism has struck a different
> path. It wants to organise itself or to find full self-expression for the
> benefit and service of humanity at large. God having cast my lot in the
> midst of the people of India, I should be untrue to my Maker if I failed to
> serve them. If I do not know how to serve them I shall never know how to
> serve humanity. And I cannot possibly go wrong so long as I do not harm
> other nations in the act of serving my country."
> (Young India, 18.6.1925)
> "Mankind is one, seeing that all are equally subject to the moral law. All
> men are equal in God's eyes. There are, of course, differences of race and
> status and the like, but the higher the status of a man, the greater is his
> responsibility."
> (All men are brothers, MKG, UNESCO, 1959)
> "I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be
> stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as
> freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse
> to live in other people's houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave."
> (Young India, 1.6.1921)
> "Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as
> self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without inter-relation with
> society, he cannot realise his oneness with the universe or suppress his
> egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to
> prove himself on the touchstone of reality. If man were so placed or could
> so place himself as to be absolutely above all dependence on his
> fellow-beings, he would become so proud and arrogant as to be a veritable
> burden and nuisance to the world. Dependence on society teaches him the
> lesson of humanity. And if one may take help from one's own family, why not
> from one's neighbours? Or, otherwise, what is the significance of the great
> saying, 'The world is my family'."
> (Young India, 21.3. 1929)
> "The golden rule of conduct is mutual toleration, seeing that we will never
> all think alike and we shall always see Truth in fragment and from
> different angles of vision. Conscience is not the same thing for all.
> Whilst, therefore, it is a good guide for individual conduct, imposition of
> that conduct upon all will be an insufferable interference with everybody's
> freedom of conscience. Even amongst the most conscientious persons, there
> will be room enough for honest differences of opinion. The only possible
> rule of conduct in any civilised society is, therefore, mutual toleration."
> (Harijan, 22.9.1946)
> "What is true of individuals is true of nations. One cannot forgive too
> much. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the
> strong."
> (Young India, 21.7.1920)
> "I reiterate my conviction that there will be no peace for the Allies or
> the world unless they shed their belief in the efficacy of war and its
> accompanying terrible deception and fraud and are determined to hammer out
> real peace based on freedom and equality of all races and nations.
> Exploitation and domination of one nation over another can have no place in
> a world striving to put an end to all wars. In such a world only, the
> militarily weaker nations will be free from the fear of intimidation or
> exploitation.
> "Not to return violence by violence but neutralise it by withholding one's
> hand and, at the same time, refusing to submit to the [aggressor's] demand
> [backed by force] is the only civilised way of going on in the world. Any
> other course can only lead to a race for armaments, interspersed by periods
> of peace which is by necessity and brought about by exhaustion, when
> preparations will be going on for violence of a superior order. Peace
> through superior violence inevitably leads to the atom bomb and all that it
> stands for. It is the completest negation of non-violence and of democracy
> which is not possible without the former."
> (Harijan, 30.3.1947)
> (This capsule on Mahatma Gandhi has been compiled in the National Gandhi
> Museum. Any further enquiry may be referred to Dr. Y. P. Anand, Director,
> National Gandhi Museum, Rajghat, New Delhi - 110002. Ph / Fax: 3311793. E
> Mail: gandhimk@nda.vsnl.net.in) 
> Hindu-Muslim Unity
> "Everybody knows that without unity between Hindus and Mussalmans, no
> certain progress can be made by the nation. There is no doubt that the
> cement binding the two is yet loose and wet. There is still mutual
> distrust. The leaders have come to recognise that India can make no advance
> without both feeling the need of trust and common action. But though there
> is a vast change among the masses , it is still not a permanent quantity.
> The Mussalman masses do not still recognise the same necessity for swaraj
> as the Hindus do. The Musslamans do not flock to public meetings in the
> same numbers as the Hindus. This process cannot be forced. Sufficient time
> has not passed for the national interest to be awakened among the
> Mussalmans. Indeed it is a marvel that whereas but a year ago the
> Mussalmans as a body hardly took any interest in Congress affairs, all over
> India thousands have registered themselves as members. This in itself is an
> immense gain.
> "But much more yet remains to be done. It is essentially the work of the
> Hindus. Wherever the Mussalmans are still found to be apathetic, they
> should be invited to come in. One often hears from Hindu quarters the
> complaint that Mussalmans do not join the Congress organisations or do not
> pay to the Swaraj Fund. The natural question is, have they been invited? In
> every district Hindus must make special efforts to draw out their Mussalman
> neighbours. There wil never be real equality so long as one feels inferior
> or superior to the other. There is no room for patronage among equals.
> Mussalmans must not feel the lack of education or numbers where they are in
> a minority. Deficiency in education must be corrected by taking education.
> To be in minority is often a blessing. Superiority in numbers has
> frequently proved a hindrance. It is character that counts in the end. But
> I have not commenced this article to lay down counsels of perfection or to
> state the course of conduct in the distant future.
> "My main purpose is to think of the immediate task lying before us.
> Bakr-i-Id will be soon upon us. What are we to do to frustrate the attempts
> that will then be made to foment quarrels between us - Hindus and
> Mussalmans? Though the situation has improved considerably in Bihar, it is
> not yet free from anxiety. Over-zealous and impatient Hindus are trying to
> force matters. They lend themselves an easy prey to the machinations of
> mischief-makers not always prompted by the Government side. Protection of
> the cow is the nearest to the Hindu heart. We are therefore apt to lose our
> heads over it, and thus be unconsciously instrumental in doing an injury to
> the very cause we seek to spouse. Let us recognise that our Mussalman
> brethren have made great efforts to save the cow for the sake of their
> Hindu brethren. It would be a grave mistake to undertake them. But
> immediately we become assertive, we make all effort on their part nugatory.
> We have throughout all these many years put up with cow slaughter either
> without a murmur of under ineffective and violent protest. We have never
> tried to deserve self-imposed restraint on the part of our Mussalman
> countrymen by going out of our way to cultivate friendly relations with
> them. We have more or less gratuitously assumed the impossibility of the
> task.
> "But we are now making a deliberate and conscious attempt in standing by
> their side in the hour of their need. Let us not spoil the good effect by
> making our free offering a matter of bargain. Friendship can now be a
> contract. It is a status carrying no consideration with it. Service is a
> duty, and duty is a debt which it is a sin not to discharge. If we would
> prove our friendship, we must help our brethren whether they save the cow
> or not. We throw the responsibility for their conduct towards us on their
> own shoulders. We dare not dictate it to them as consideration for our
> help. Such help will be hired service, which the Mussalmans can not be
> blamed if they summarily reject. I hope, therefore, that the Hindus of
> Bihar and indeed all the parts of India will realise the importance of
> observing the strictest forbearance, no matter what the Musslamans do on
> Bakr-i-Id. We must leave them to take what course they chose. What Hakim
> Ajmal Khan did in one hour at Amritsar, Hindus could not have done by years
> of effort. The cows that Messrs Chhotas and Khatri saved last Bakr-i-Id
> day, the Hindu millionaires of Bombay could not have saved if they had
> given the whole of their fortunes. The greater the pressure put upon the
> Mussalmans the greater must be the slaughter of the cow. We must leave them
> to their own sense of honour and duty. And we shall have done the greatest
> service to the cow.
> "The way to save the cow is not to kill or quarrel with the Mussalmans; the
> way to save the cow is to die in the act of saving the Khilafat without
> mentioning the cow. Cow protection is a process of purification. It is
> tapasya, ie., self-suffering. When we suffer voluntarily, and, therefore,
> without expectation of reward, the cry of suffering (one might say)
> literally ascends to heaven, and God above hears it and responds. There is
> the path of religion, and it has answered even if one man has adopted it in
> its entirety. I make bold to assert without fear of contradiction that it
> is not Hinduism to kill a fellowman even to save the cow. Hinduism requires
> its votaries to immolate themselves for the sake of their religion, ie. for
> the sake of saving the cow. The question is how many Hindus are ready
> without bargaining with the Mussalmans to die for them and for their
> religion? If the Hindus can answer it in the religious spirit, they will
> not only have secured Mussalman friendship for eternity, but they will have
> saved the cow for all time from the Mussalmans. Let us not swear even by
> the greatest among them. They can but help. They cannot undertake to change
> the hearts of millions of men who have hitherto given no thought to the
> feelings of their Hindu neighbours when they slaughter the cow. But God
> Almighty can in a moment change them and move them to pity. Prayer
> accompanied by adequate suffering is a prayer of the heart. That alone
> counts with God. To my Mussalman friends I would but say one word. They
> must not be irritated by the acts of irresponsible or ignorant but
> fanatical Hindus. He who exercises restraint under provocation wins the
> battle. Let them know and feel sure that responsible Hindus are not on
> their side in their trial in any bargaining spirit. They are helping
> because they know that the Khilafat is a just cause and that to help them
> in a good cause is to serve India, for they are even as blood-brothers,
> born of the same mother - Bharat Mata."
> July 28, 1921.
> These texts were taken at the site of India Foreign Affairs Ministery, on
> Internet.
> Marcelo Centenaro