Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338
Mahatma Gandhi Discussion with the Times of India Representative
Mahatma Gandhi Discussed with the Times of India Representative on November 21, 1932.
REPRESENTATIVE: Have you decided to devote the rest of your life to eradication of untouchability?
GANDHIJI: I cannot say that that is my present intention or that there is a possibility of it. It is wholly true to say that my life is devoted to this most important reform of Hindu dharma. But then my life is devoted to so many other things. I cannot divide my life into water-tight compartments. My life is indivisible. The root of all my activities is the same. In every sphere of life, be it small or big, my aim is to promote truth and ahimsa. This morning I read an article appearing in The Times of India. I would like to say something about it. I wish to correct an error in your editorial. It is not correct to say that all the questions regarding giving social rights to Harijans are covered by temple-entry. Temple-entry is just one of the many questions. If today it has come to the fore it is not because of me. At my request Shri Kelappan has given up his fast. So I am under an obligation to help him. Therefore, naturally, I have to do all I can to attract public attention to Guruvayur and see that before the second of January, the famous temple is thrown open to Harijans. The fast will be only to get that temple opened and no other. The fast will not be of my choosing. Only if Shri Kelappan is obliged to fast, it becomes my duty to undertake a fast too. In the effort to have the temple opened to Harijans, there is no thought of coercing any section of society. According to the information I have and I have no cause to doubt the truth of it many caste Hindus are in favour of throwing open the temples to Harijans. If this is so, it cannot be said that there was coercion. It may be kept in mind that though this question was put before the public only recently, Shri Kelappan and his associates have been working for it for a long time. And if he has won the public over to his view, it has not happened in a few days. It is the result of many years of sustained work.
R. Is your duty towards Shri Kelappan so great that if he undertakes a fast you must stake your life?
G. If I lose self-respect, I would at once become useless for any kind of service. I do not consider it a great thing to risk my life to keep a pledge made in all awareness in a just cause.
R. Do you consider this of more importance than the work you are doing for the Harijan cause?
G. Once I have violated a pledge, my life would be of no use to Harijans. But if in keeping a vow I have to die, it will be in my view a precious thing not only for the Harijans, not only for Hinduism, but I humbly submit, for the whole of India and the entire world.
R. Since you do not believe in image-worship, why are you taking so much trouble to have the right of image-worship given to Harijans?
G. I don’t think I have ever said that I have no faith in image-worship. I don’t remember that there is anything of this sort in my articles either. What I have repeatedly said is that I am both an iconoclast and an idolater. Is it not a very different thing from saying that I have no faith in image-worship? But if someone says that I hardly ever go to a temple, it will be quite true. I would not like to go into the reasons why I don’t visit the temples. But I will say this: that my religion is so all-embracing that I go with the same devotion to a Hindu temple, a Muslim mosque, a
Christian church or a Jewish synagogue. I have never gone to any of these places as an atheist or a critic, but always with full devotion.