To The Reader
I would like to say to the diligent reader of my writings and to others who are interested in them that I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my search after Truth I have discarded many ideas and learnt many new things. Old as I am in age, I have no feeling that I have ceased to grow inwardly or that my growth will stop at the dissolution of the flesh. What I am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of Truth, my God, from moment to moment, and, therefore, when anybody finds any inconsistency between any two writings of mine, if he has still faith in my sanity, he would do well to choose the later of the two on the same subject.
M. K. GANDHI
Harijan, 29-4-'33, p. 2
It is a happy idea to place before the world and the country at the present moment when we are entering upon a new era a picture of the India of Mahatma Gandhi's dreams. The freedom which we have won is throwing upon us the responsibilities of making or marring the future of India. It is in no small measure the achievement of Mahatma Gandhi's leadership. The matchless weapon of truth and non-violence which he has used is needed by the world to cure it of many of its ills. We are aware how imperfect have been the instruments that had to be used by Gandhiji, and yet history will record that our object has been gained with the least possible sacrifice which any other country similarly situated could have been called upon to make. As the weapon has been unique, the opportunities which the achievement of freedom offers are equally unique. In our hour of victory and rejoicing we cannot afford to ignore either the leader who has led us or the undying principles which have inspired him. Freedom is only the means to a greater and nobler end, and the achievement of India of Mahatma Gandhi's dreams will be the fitting consummation of all that he has worked for and stands for. At this juncture we need to be reminded of the basis and fundamentals of his teachings. A book, which places before the reader not only those basic and fundamental principles, but also indicates how we can help to fulfill them through our freedom by establishing a polity and social life, and through the instrumentality of a constitution and the dedication of the human material which this vast country will now throw up to work without any external fetters or internal inhibitions, will be welcomed by all. Shri R. K. Prabhu has proved his skill in making a selection of the most telling and significant passage from Mahatma Gandhi's writings and have no doubt that this volume will be a useful addition to the literature on the subject.
8th August 1947
Since the first edition of this work was published on 15th August, 1947, the day of the country's Declaration of Independence, much water the flown under the Indian bridge. With the attainment of the freedom and the passing away of the father of the Nation, some of the major problems facing the country have suffered a new orientation, while a few, like those of the Princes and the dominant British community, civilian and mercantile, have been entirely eliminated. In these radically altered circumstances it has been found necessary to overhaul almost completely the structure of first edition of the book, to drop out some of the old anachronistic chapters and add as many as forty new ones, so as to make the work as comprehensive as possible. It has been my aim and earnest endeavor in this revised and enlarged edition to present to the reader a concise but authoritative source-book of Gandhiji's essential views on all important Indian problems, so that the same may prove helpful not only to all students of Gandhian through but also to active constructive workers in the country. In spite of all the shortcomings of the work, engendered by limitations of space, etc., let me hope that my labours have not been in vain.
R. K. P.
In this work attempt has been made, by assembling together passages from writings and speeches of Mahatma Gandhi, to give the reader an idea of the part which he expects a completely free and independent India of his conception to play in her own domestic affairs as well as in her relations with the rest of the world. On 15th August, 1947, India will have finally shaken off the yoke of foreign which for the past century and half had held her soil in bondage and well-nigh ruined her materially, morally and spiritually. In the process of achieving her independence, however, her unit has been broken in many places and her soul has been badly bruised, owing to internecine quarrels, and the shape of 'Swaraj' that is emerging is not at all what her patriotic sons and daughters had ardently longed for and struggled for all these decades. It is quite natural, therefore, that Gandhiji, the Father of Indian Independence, should feel little inclined to enthuse over the Independence that is drawing; and cry out, like the vedic seer, 'Lead us from darkness unto Light.'
Gandhiji has refused to subscribe to the fantastic theory that the Muslims of India are 'a separate nation.' My whole soul rebels against the idea that Hinduism and Islam represent two antagonistic cultures and doctrines,' he said. To assent to such a doctrine is for me a denial of God. For I believe with my whole soul that the God of the Quran is also the God of the Gita, and that we are all, no matter by what name designated, children of the same God. I must rebel against the idea that millions of Indians who were Hindus the other day changed their nationality on adopting Islam as their religion.' He refuses to believe that India will remain for ever partitioned, either geographically or spiritually, in the manner that is being sought to be done at present. 'India does not become two nations,' he says, 'because it has been cut up into two sovereign states.' He lives in the hope and will work in the hope that with the removal of the most serious obstacle in the way of her unity-the wedge driven by her alien rulers-and the healing of the wounds recently inflicted on her, the India of his dream will yet emerge into reality in the distant future. The compiler of the present work, cognizant of the onerousness of the task before him and of his own shortcomings, is fully aware of the risks involved in trying to convey to the readers a conception of 'India of Gandhiji's dreams' which may fall short, far short, of the picture which the master artist has drawn in the immortal pages of Young India and Harijan and in the collections of his writings speeches. The compiler expresses the hope that he may not have deviated far from the correctness as well as comprehensiveness of that picture, inasmuch as the attempt to redraw the picture, on a reduced scale, has been made in Gandhiji's own words. For whatever shortcomings there still remain in the present work the compiler tenders his profuse apologies both to Gandhiji and to the reader.
R. K. P.