My Non-violence

My Non-violence


Table of Contents

- Editor's Note
  1. The Doctrine of The Sword
  2. 'One Step Enough For Me'
  3. Our Neighbours
  4. The Frontier Friends
  5. Soldiers
  6. Why Did I Assist In The Last War?
  7. My Path
  8. What of The West?
  9. To American Friends
  10. Compulsory Military Training
  11. From Europe
  12. War or Peace?
  13. Has Non-violence Limits?
  14. My Attitude Towards War
  15. Sword v. Spirit
  16. For Conscience' Sake
  17. Our Choice
  18. Military Programme
  19. Superstitions Die Hard
  20. Theory and Practice of Non-violence
  21. The Greatest Force
  22. A Talk on Non-violence
  23. A Discourse of Non-violence
  24. Our Failure
  25. Qualifications of A Peace Brigade
  26. If I Were A Czech
  27. The Jews
  28. Some Questions Answered
  29. Non-violence and World Crisis
  30. Is Non-violence Ineffective?
  31. China and Japan
  32. A Word in Agony - I
  33. A Word in Agony - II
  34. A Polish Sister's Agony
  35. Conundrums
  36. India's Attitude
  37. On Trial
  38. A Poser
  39. The Hour of Trial
  40. My Advice To Noakhali Hindus
  41. When The British Withdraw
  42. Two Questions From America
  43. Democracy and Non-violence
  44. How To Combat Hitlerism
  45. Both Happy And Unhappy
  46. To Every Briton
  47. Before The Gandhi Seva Sangh
  48. Unrepentant
  49. Khansaheb's Ahimsa
  50. How To Cultivate Ahimsa
  51. What of The 'Weak Majority'?
  52. Is Non-violence Impossible?
  53. Moral Support
  54. What Should A Briton Do and Not Do?
  55. An Interesting Discourse- I
  56. An Interesting Discourse- II
  57. How To Quench It?
  58. Not Mechanical
  59. Some Criticism Answered
  60. To Adolf Hitler
  61. A Deplorable Incident
  62. Criminal Assaults
  63. On Its Trial
  64. 'Scorched Earth'
  65. Inhuman If True
  66. Non-violent Resistance
  67. To Every Japanese
  68. Fasting In Non-violent Action
  69. The 'Quit India' Resolution
  70. Sabotage And Secrecy
  71. Non-violence And Molestation of Women
  72. Non-violent Technique And Parallel Government
  73. Africa and India
  74. White Man's Burden!
  75. How To Canalise Hatred
  76. The Message of The I.N.A
  77. A Message For The I. N. A
  78. I. N. A. Men's Dilemma
  79. Not Lonely
  80. Statement On General Avari's Fast
  81. Fasting In The Air
  82. Press Statement- I & II
  83. Fruits of Violence
  84. For Shame!
  85. The Non-violent Sanction
  86. The Art of Living and Dying
  87. Is Eating Fish Violence?
  88. Religion v. No Religion
  89. Differences
  90. With The Socialists
  91. Sweeper's Strike
  92. Peaceful Strikes
  93. Strikes
  94. Non-violent Strikes
  95. Non-violent Volunteer Corps
  96. Independence
  97. Certain Questions
  98. Atom Bomb and Ahimsa
  99. A Fair Hit
  100. Louis Fischer's Interview
  101. Jews and Palestine
  102. Criminals and Non-violence
  103. Thieving
  104. Nature Cure for Criminals
  105. Honest Business
  106. Compensation for Murder
  107. Heal Thyself
  108. Congress Ministers and Non-violence
  109. Do Not Eliminate Truth and Non-violence
  110. Excessive Praise
  111. Why Armies?
  112. Outside His Field
  113. Women's Ordeal
  114. A Woman's Dilemma
  115. The Travail
  116. The Call
  117. Bad News From Bihar
  118. To Bihar
  119. A Challenge To Faith
  120. A Venture In Faith
  121. The Purpose of The Tour
  122. The Modern Buddha?
  123. On Trusteeship
  124. With A Landholder
  125. Reduction of Landlord's Share
  126. Intellectual and Manual Work
  127. Some Important Questions
  128. Important Questions
  129. Question Box
  130. Military Training
  131. Non-resistance
  132. The Aim of Life
  133. The Message of Asia
  134. Advice To Sind Hindus
  135. How To Combat Himsa?
  136. Weapon of The Brave
  137. Non-violence of The Brave
  138. Rights and Duties?
  139. Who Is A Socialist?
  140. The Root Cause of Partition
  141. The Fundamental Difference
  142. Secular
  143. Non-violence and Free India
  144. How To save The Cow?
  145. Non-violent Labour As Magnet
  146. Press Statement
  147. The Fast
  148. Why Fast?
  149. Curb Anger
  150. Passive Resistance versus Non-violence
  151. Working of Ahimsa
  152. Firm on Non-violence
  153. Death - Courageous or Cowardly
  154. No Limitations
  155. My Fast As A Protest
  156. The Breaking of The Fast
  157. From The Last Post-Prayer Speeches
  158. His Last Will and Testament

About This Book

Written by : M. K. Gandhi
Compiled and Edited by : Sailesh Kumar Bandopadhyaya
First Edition : 3,000 copies, November 1960
ISBN : 81-7229-223-6
Printed and Published by : Navajivan Mudranalaya,
© Navajivan Trust, 1960


Chapter 13: Has Non-violence Limits?

The following is an extract from a detailed letter from a correspondent who gives his full name and address:
"You may know what is happening to Congress workers in Madras. During the last two days the Justice Party men have excelled themselves in their abominations. Shri... accompanied by Shri... was canvassing votes for Shri..., the Congress candidate. A group of Justice men who kept following Shri — and others when they came near the Justice candidate's house suddenly surrounded the Congress workers and spat upon ... and ...'s faces. You know, none better, what indignity it is to be spat upon. Has communalism been able to demoralize public life and work to such a depth? The object of addressing you these few words is to ask you to enunciate your theory of non-violence with reference to what a Congressman should do under circumstances of such grave indignity and insult. There have also been assaults upon*... So far as our attitude towards the Government is concerned, we admit it is expedient to be non-violent in conduct. But is that attitude to be continued in relation to our own misguided and cruel countrymen who take to assaulting, spitting, and to throwing night-soil on peaceful Congress workers? May I also bring to your notice that Congress sympathizers are many, while the paid hooligans are counted on one's fingers, so that, if we only want to put a stop to hooliganism, we can do it effectively by resorting to violent methods? But we happen to be members of an organization pledged to non-violence. The provocation is increasing every day, and it may not be possible for Congress workers to restrain the youthful followers from taking the law into their own hands. Therefore, may I ask you to state of private defence is compatible with non-violence and with what qualifications it should be exercised? The hooligan tactics of the Justice Party are testing our faith in non-violence very severely. Therefore we in Madras will greatly benefit by your advice at this critical moment." I have purposely erased names of men and places; for, their discovery is not required for my purpose. Time for expedient non-violence passed away long ago. Those who Cannot be non-violent at heart are under no obligation to be non-violent under the circumstances mentioned by the correspondent. Though non-violence is the creed of the Congress, nobody now refers to the creed for being or remaining non-violent. Every Congressman who is non­violent, is so because he cannot be otherwise. My advice, therefore, emphatically is that no one need refer to me or any other Congressman for advice in the matter of non­violence. Everyone must act on his own responsibility, and interpret the Congress creed to the best of his ability and belief. I have often noticed that weak people have taken shelter under the Congress creed or under my advice, when they have simply, by reason of their cowardice, been unable to defend their own honour or that of those who were entrusted to their care. I recall the incident that happened near Bettiah when non-co-operation was at its height. Some villagers were looted. They had fled, leaving their wives, children and belongings to the mercy of the looters. When I rebuked them for their cowardice in thus neglecting their charge, they shamelessly pleaded non­violence. I publicly denounced their conduct and said that my non-violence fully accommodated violence offered by those who did not feel non-violence and who had in their keeping the honour of their womenfolk and little children. Non-violence is not a cover for cowardice, but it is the supreme virtue of the brave. Exercise of non-violence requires far greater bravery than that of swordsmanship. Cowardice is wholly inconsistent with non-violence. Translation from swordsmanship to non-violence is possible and, at times, even an easy stage. Non-violence, therefore, presupposes ability to strike. It is a conscious, deliberate restraint put upon one's desire for vengeance. But vengeance is any day superior to passive, effeminate and helpless submission. Forgiveness is higher still. Vengeance too is weakness. The desire for vengeance comes out of fear of harm, imaginary or real. A dog barks and bites when he fears. A man who fears no one on earth would consider it too troublesome even to summon up anger against one who is vainly trying to injure him. The sun does not wreak vengeance upon little children who throw dust at him. They only harm themselves in the act.
I do not know whether the statements made by the correspondent about the misdeeds of the Justice Party men are true. Perhaps there is another side to the story. But, assuming the truth of the statements, I can only congratulate those who were spat upon, or assaulted, or had night-soil thrown upon them. No injury has happened to them, if they had the courage to suffer the insult without even mental retaliation. But it was wholly wrong on their part to suffer it, if they felt irritated but refrained out of expedience from retaliating. A sense of self-respect disdains all expediences. But I wonder what kind of punishment could be meted out by distinguished Congressmen who, as the correspondent states, were too numerous for the few hooligans of the Justice Party. Were they to return night-soil with night-soil, spitting with spitting, and abuse with abuse? Or would the self-respect of this numerous party be better consulted by ignoring the few hooligans? When non-co-operation was the fashion, I know what was done to hooligans who tried to disturb meetings. They were held down by volunteers who caused them no hurt, but, if they continued to howl, their howling was ignored. I know that even in those days in several cases the law of non­violence was broken, and any man who dared to disturb the meetings or put in a word of opposition was howled down by the violent majority or sometimes even roughly handled to the discredit of the majority and the movement which they so thoughtlessly betrayed and misrepresented. I suggest also to this Congressman and to those whom he may represent that, if the object is to win over the Justice Party or any other Party to the Congress, then they should be treated gently even though they may act harshly. If it to suppress all opponents, then double retaliation or Dyerism is the chosen remedy. Whether that can bring us any nearer Swaraj is of course another question.
But all my advice is useless where conviction is wanting. Let every Congressman, therefore, weigh all the pros and cons, then make his definite choice and act accordingly, irrespective of consequences. He will then have acted truly even though it may be mistakenly. A thousand mistakes unconsciously made are better than the most scrupulously correct conduct without conviction behind to back it. It is like a whited sepulcher. Above all we must be true to ourselves, if we will be true to the country and lead it to its chosen goal. Let there be no cant about non­violence. It is not like a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being.

Young India, 12-8-1926