Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338
Mahatma Gandhi talks with Sadashivrao and Shinde
Mahatma Gandhi talks with Sadashivrao and Shinde on January 13, 1933
BAPU: Even after this Bill is passed the majority should not exercise their right to frighten away the minority. The temple should be kept open for a few hours daily for the sake of the minority. They too have a certain sentiment for the image and believe in its importance and power. I would say to them that they should have darshan to their heart’s content before the temple becomes ‘impure’; I would go in after that.
SADASHIVRAO: But would it not hurt their inferiority complex?
BAPU: The question of inferiority arises only in the case of Harijans. If the reformists are in a majority, the Harijans should act like seniors, and should do out of their free will what they are not bound to do by law. I don’t want separate temples erected. But I would say to them the sanatanists: ‘I shall make the necessary arrangement for you. You should not go away. I do not want to pay you in the same coin. You had regarded us as low. You asked up to be content with having darshan of the tower. But we are not going to regard you as low. We shall let you precede us and we shall respect your sentiments regarding the purity of the image.’ Man compromises either through weakness or because he is strong. As a votary of truth I would make a compromise on the basis of my strength. Only yesterday I dealt with the sanatanists in this way. They asked me to sign some document. Normally I would not endorse such a statement. But in order to satisfy them I affixed my signature, but after making a couple of most essential changes. If I disclose what took place between them and me, it is not going to shed luster on Hinduism.
I have learnt a lot from my involvement in this issue. I came to know what the Shastras had to say. Without knowing all this I could not have issued such statements. I would not have at any rate been able to write with such authority. Even the thought of this compromise would not have occurred to me had I not had all these interviews with them.
SHINDE: But they think this is where the hitch comes in.
BAPU: I do not look upon it as any hitch. I do not believe that all those who raise objections are insincere. I don’t want to drive them out of the temples. The lives of those who go to temples with a sincere heart are linked with the temples. I say this on the strength of my mother’s example. She would not put a grain in her mouth without having darshan in a temple, however ill and bed-ridden she might be. She used to derive strength from this practice of hers. I do not want to exercise the right I have acquired as though I were a demon or a bully. I have to give a thought to a true mother. All the women who visit temples are but mothers to me. If they want to preserve the purity of the images, they may do so. The Harijans should be charitable enough to let them do it. In fact they should let them do it of their own free will. Take the instance of spectacles and injections which are in vogue. Our ancestors would regard these as superstitions. Tomorrow there may come up somebody who may regard praying as so much superstition. Even then we ought to respect people’s sentiments. Therefore the compromise I have suggested is absolutely correct. The sanatanists would not admit it but I do see they are coming closer to me. I am myself a Harijan and I have influence over them.
SHINDE: The Harijans will of course listen to you. They are bound to listen to you. When I ask you not to make any compromise, I do not mean that there will never be any compromise.
BAPU: Mate wanted a segregated space for having darshan. That was an unfair compromise.
SHINDE: From the spiritual point of view your compromise is no compromise at all. It will gradually wear out.
BAPU: Yes, it takes for granted mutual respect and sincerity. Only then does a temple become a true temple. In the same way the sanatanists can, if they want to, have tables reserved in restaurants. While I suggest all this I take it for granted that we are in the majority. If the sanatanists are in the majority we may not set foot in the temples. I have found out a new way of looking at compromises. The initiative for compromise should come from the stronger party. Only he who has truth on his side
can arrive at such a compromise.
SHINDE: Yes, the same is true of forgiveness, which only the strong can practice.
BAPU: This compromise in no way detracts from your principles, or mine or anybody else’s. One that would do violence to other’s principles can only be called cruel.