Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338
THE MORAL ISSUE
As soon as we lose the moral basis, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion overriding morality. Man for instance cannot be untruthful, cruel or incontinent and claim to have God on his side. In Bombay the sympathizers of non-co-operation lost the moral balance. They were enraged against the Parsis and the Christians who took part in the welcome to the prince and sought to “teach them a lesson”. They invited reprisals and got them. It became after the 17th a game of seesaw in which no one really gained and everybody lost. Swaraj does not lie that way. India does not want Bolshevism. The people are too peaceful to stand anarchy. They will bow the knee to anyone who restores so-called order. Let us recognize the Indian psychology. We need not stop to inquire whether such hankering after peace is a virtue or a vice. The average Mussulman of India is quite different from the average Mussulman of the other parts of the world. His Indian associations have made him more docile than his co-religionists outside India. He will not stand tangible insecurity of life and property for any length of time. The Hindu is proverbially, almost contemptibly mild. The Parsi and the Christian love peace more than strife. Indeed we have almost made religion subservient to peace.
This Mentality is at once our weakness and our strength. Let us nurse the better, the religious part of the mentality of ours.”Let there be no compulsion in religion.” Is it not religion with us to observe swadeshi and therefore wear khadi? But if the religion of others does not require them to adopt swadeshi, we may not compel them. We broke the universal law restated in the Koran. And the law does not mean that there may be compulsion in other matters. The verse means that if it is bad to use compulsion in religion about which we have definite convictions, it is worse to resort to it in matters of less moment. We can only therefore argue and reason with our opponents. The extreme to which we may go is non-violent non-co-operation with them even as with the Government. But we may not non-co-operate with them in private life, for we do not non-co-operate with the men composing the Government; we are non-co-operating with the system they administer. We decline to render official service to Sir George Lloyd the Governor, we dare not withhold social service from Sir George Lloyd the Englishman. The mischief, I am sorry to say, began among the Hindus and the Mussulmans themselves. There was social persecution, there was coercion.
I must confess that I did not always condemn it as strongly as I might have. I might have dissociated myself from the movement when it became at all general. We soon mended our ways, we became more tolerant but the subtle coercion was there. I passed it by as I thought it would die a natural death. I saw in Bombay that it had not. It assumed a virulent form on the 17th. We damaged the Khilafat cause and with it that of the Punjab and swaraj. We must retrace our steps and scrupulously insure minorities against the least molestation. If the Christian wishes to wear the European hat and unmentionables he must be free to do so. If a Parsi wishes to stick to his fenta he has every right to do so. If they both see their safety in associating themselves with the Government, we may only wean them from their error by appealing to their reason, not by breaking their heads. The greater the coercion we use, the greater the security we give to the Government, if only because the latter has more effective weapons of coercion than we have. For us to resort to greater coercion than the Government will be to make India more slave than she is now. Swaraj is freedom for everyone, the smallest among us, to do as he likes without any physical interference with his liberty.
Non-violent non-co-operation is the method whereby we cultivate the freest public opinion and get it enforced. When there is complete freedom of opinion that of the majority must prevail. If we are in a minority, we can prove worthy of our religion by remaining true to it in the face of coercion. The Prophet submitted to the coercion of the majority and remained true to his faith. And when he found himself in a majority he declared to his followers that there should be no compulsion in religion. Let us not again either by verbal or physical violence depart from the injunction, or by our own folly further put back the hands of the clock of progress.