JAWAHARLAL   NEHRUThe Discovery of India
JAWAHARLAL   NEHRUThe Discovery of India             DELHI    OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS        OXFORD   NEW YORK
Oxford   University     (Press,      Walton     Street,    Oxford   0X2     61X2                             OXFORD       ...
To my colleagues and co-prisoners in  the A h m a d n a g a r Fort Prison C a m pfrom 9 August 1942 to 28 March 1945
FOREWORDMy fathers three books — Glimpses of World History, AnAutobiograpy and The Discovery of India — have been mycompan...
PREFACEThis book was written by me in A h m a d n a g a r F o r t prison d u r i n gthe five months, April to S e p t e m ...
10                     JAWAHARLAL NEHRU revise, but I have resisted t h e temptation. Indeed I could nothave done otherwis...
CONTENTS  Foreword                                                        7  Preface                                      ...
12                        JAWAHARLAL NEHRU The Advantages and Disadvantages of an Individualistic      93    Philosophy Ma...
CONTENTS                              13 The Theory and Practice of Caste. The Joint Family                 250 Babar and ...
14                      JAWAHARLAL NEHRUCHAPTER NINE: THE LAST PHASE (3): WORLD WAR II The Congress Develops a Foreign Pol...
C H A P T E R   ONE                  AHMADNAGAR                   FORT                           Twenty Months            ...
interviews during these 20 months, no other contacts.    T h e newspapers contained heavily censored news. Yet they gave u...
were issued by those in authority in India and in England. Butcorpses cannot easily be overlooked; they come in the way.  ...
The War for D e m o c r a c y   In Asia a n d Europe and Africa, and over the vast stretches of   the Pacific and Atlantic...
where I liked. Again I declined with thanks. Instead I went toCzechoslovakia, that far-away country about which Englandsth...
T h a t was the attitude of the National Congress, the one greatorganization in India which consistently for all these yea...
is denied and we become slaves to the routine of jail-life.    Yet the past is ever with us and all that we are a n d that...
vhat fill me, and when action is denied, I imagine that I ampreparing for action.    T h e call of action has long been wi...
ing, a p a r t from being itself a kind of action, becomes part of theaction to come. It is not something entirely abstrac...
in her early teens, but behind that writing lay that quest a n dvoyage of discovery. A sense of adventure filled me and I ...
I thought over it, the more reluctant I grew. Ultimately, I didnot write that essay.   W h a t was my philosophy of life? ...
Religion, as I saw it practised, and accepted even by thinkingminds, whether it was Hinduism or Islam or Buddhism or Chris...
vague a n d soft a n d flabby, not a rigorous discipline of the mind b u t a surrender of mental faculties and a living in...
But I do not believe in any of these or other theories and  assumptions as a matter of religious faith. T h e y are just i...
been, this emphasis. T h e idea is by no means new, but thisapplication of an ethical doctrine to large-scale public activ...
action and these basic urges or principles. So there was an odd mixture in my mind which I could not rationally explain or...
scientific knowledge are now changing the world picture with anamazing rapidity, leading to new problems.    And so while ...
Space-time a n d the q u a n t u m theory utterly changed the picture of the physical world. More recent researches into t...
O r , perhaps, we cannot cross that barrier, a n d the mysteriouswill continue to remain the mysterious, a n d life with a...
course of my previous terms of imprisonment. I have lost count of their number.    During all these months I have often th...
how stale a n d uninteresting m u c h of it seems. T h e incidents itdeals with have lost all importance a n d have become...
Now I have put away my spade and taken to the pen instead.Possibly what I write now will meet the same fate as my un-finis...
us, something that is in our flesh a n d blood a n d bones, that has gone to make us what we are and what we are likely to...
savage and destructive nature my own troubles a n d self sink intoinsignificance.   I remember the words that Gandhiji sai...
CHAPTER            TWO           BADENWEILER,                      LAUSANNE                                    KamalaON   ...
better t h a n they had imagined. T h e y were misled by those  bright eyes and that smiling face.     In the long a u t u...
A n d yet I was very far from forgetting her, a n d I came backto h e r again a n d again as to a sure haven. If I was awa...
when news of this reached us, the enormous pride in the women  of I n d i a that filled us. We could hardly talk about all...
together h a d been but a preparation for this new a n d more inti-m a t e relationship.    We came back all too soon a n ...
Sometimes I h a d thought thai she was a little frightened of mebecause of this. I had been, and was, a most unsatisfactor...
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Discovery of-india-by-jawaharlal-nehru-120110202702-phpapp01
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  1. 1. JAWAHARLAL NEHRUThe Discovery of India
  2. 2. JAWAHARLAL NEHRUThe Discovery of India DELHI OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS OXFORD NEW YORK
  3. 3. Oxford University (Press, Walton Street, Oxford 0X2 61X2 OXFORD NEW YORK ATHENS AUCKLAND BANGKOK BOMBAY CALCUTTA CAPE TOWN DAR ES SALAAM DELHI FLORENCE HONG KONG ISTANBUL KARACHI KUALA LUMPUR MADRAS MADRID MELBOURNE MEXICO CITY NAIROBI PARIS SINGAPORE TAIPEI TOKYO TORONTO and associates in BERLIN IBADAN © Rajiv Gandhi 1985 First published 1946 by The Signet Press, Calcutta Centenary Edition 1989 Sixth impression 1994 Printed at Rekha Printers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi 110020 and published by Neil OBrien, Oxford University PressYMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi 110001
  4. 4. To my colleagues and co-prisoners in the A h m a d n a g a r Fort Prison C a m pfrom 9 August 1942 to 28 March 1945
  5. 5. FOREWORDMy fathers three books — Glimpses of World History, AnAutobiograpy and The Discovery of India — have been mycompanions through life. It is difficult to be detached aboutthem. Indeed Glimpses was written for me. It remains t h e bestintroduction to the story of man for young and growing peoplein India and all over the world. The Autobiography has beenacclaimed as not merely the quest of one individual for free-dom, b u t as an insight into the making of the mind of newIndia. I h a d to correct the proofs of Discovery while my fatherwas away, I think in Calcutta, and I was in Allahabad ill withmumps! The Discovery delves deep into the sources- of Indiasnational personality. Together, these books have moulded awhole generation of Indians and inspired persons from m a n yother countries. Books fascinated Jawaharlal Nehru. He sought out ideas.He was extraordinarily sensitive to literary beauty. In hiswritings he aimed at describing his motives a n d appraisals asmeticulously as possible. T h e purpose was not self-justificationor rationalization, b u t to show the Tightness and inevitabilityof the actions and events in which he was a prime participant.He was a luminous man and his writings reflected the radianceof his spirit. T h e decision of the Jawaharlal N e h r u Memorial F u n d tobring out a uniform edition of these three classics will bewidely welcomed. Indira G a n d h i New Delhi4 November 1980
  6. 6. PREFACEThis book was written by me in A h m a d n a g a r F o r t prison d u r i n gthe five months, April to S e p t e m b e r 1944. Some of my colleaguesin prison were good enough to read the manuscript a n d makea n u m b e r of valuable suggestions. On revising t h e book in prisonI took advantage of these suggestions and m a d e some additions.No one, I need hardly add, is responsible for w h a t I havewritten or necessarily agrees with it. But I must express my deepgratitude to my fellow-prisoners in A h m a d n a g a r F o r t for thei n n u m e r a b l e talks a n d discussions we h a d , which h e l p e d megreatly to clear my o w n mind a b o u t various aspects of Indianhistory a n d culture. Prison is not a pleasant place to live in evenfor a short period, m u c h less for long years. But it was a privilegefor me to live in close contact with m e n of o u t s t a n d i n g abilityand culture a n d a w i d e h u m a n outlook which even t h e passionsof the m o m e n t did n o t obscure. My eleven companions in A h m a d n a g a r F o r t w e r e an interestingcross-section of I n d i a a n d represented in their several ways notonly politics b u t Indian scholarship, old a n d new, a n d variousaspects of present-day India. Nearly all t h e principal livingI n d i a n languages, as well as the classical languages which havepowerfully influenced I n d i a in the past a n d present, wererepresented a n d t h e s t a n d a r d was often t h a t of high scholarship.A m o n g t h e classical languages w e r e Sanskrit and Pali, Arabica n d Persian; t h e m o d e r n languages w e r e Hindi, U r d u , Bengali,Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Sindhi a n d Oriya. I h a d all this wealthto d r a w u p o n a n d the only limitation was my own capacity toprofit by it. T h o u g h I am grateful to all my companions, I shouldlike to mention especially M a u l a n a Abul Kalam Azad, whosevast erudition invariably delighted me b u t sometimes also rathero v e r w h e l m e d me, Govind Ballabh Pant, N a r e n d r a D e v a a n dM. Asaf Ali. It is a year a n d a q u a r t e r since I finished writing this booka n d some parts of it are already somewhat out of date, and m u c hhas h a p p e n e d since I wrote it. I h a v e felt t e m p t e d to add and
  7. 7. 10 JAWAHARLAL NEHRU revise, but I have resisted t h e temptation. Indeed I could nothave done otherwise for life outside prison is of a differenttexture and there is no leisure for thought or writing. It has beendifficult enough for me to read again what I have written. Iwrote originally in long-hand; this was typed after my release.I was unable to find time to read the typescript a n d thepublication of the book was being delayed when my daughter,Indira, came to my rescue and took this burden off my shoulders.The book remains as written in prison with no additions orchanges, except for the postscript at the end. I do not know how other authors feel about their writings,but always I have a strange sensation when I read somethingthat I h a d written some time previously. T h a t sensation isheightened when the writing h a d been done in the close andabnormal atmosphere of prison and the subsequent reading hastaken place outside. I recognize it of course, but not wholly;it seems almost that I was reading some familiar piece writtenby another, who was near to me and yet who was different.Perhaps that is the measure of the change that has taken placein me. So I have felt about this book also. It is mine and not whollymine, as I am constituted today; it represents rather some pastself of mine which has already joined that long succession dfother selves that existed for a while and f a d e d away, leavingonly a memory behind. Jawaharlal NehruAnand Bhawan, Allahabad29 December 1945
  8. 8. CONTENTS Foreword 7 Preface 9CHAPTER ONE: AHMADNAGAR FORT Twenty Months 15 Famine 16 The War for Democracy 18 Time in Prison: The Urge to Action 20 The Past in Its Relation to the Present 22 Lifes Philosophy 24 The flurden of the Past 33CHAPTER TWO: BADENWEILER, LAUSANNE Kamala 39 Our Marriage and After 40 The Problem of Human Relationships 43 Christmas 1935 44 Death 45 Mussolini Return 46CHAPTER THREE: THE QUEST The Panorama of Indias Past 49 Nationalism and Internationalism 52 Indias Strength and Weakness 53 The Search for India 57 Bharat Mata 59 The Variety and Unity of India 61 Travelling through India 63 General Elections 64 The Culture of the Masses 67 Two Lives 68CHAPTER FOUR: THE DISCOVERY OF INDIA The Indus Valley Civilization 69 The Coming of the Aryans 72 What is Hinduism? 74 The Earliest Record, Scripture and Mythology 76 The Vedas 79 The Acceptance and the Negation of Life 80 Synthesis and Adjustment. The Beginnings of the Caste System 84 The Continuity of Indian Culture 87 The Upanishads
  9. 9. 12 JAWAHARLAL NEHRU The Advantages and Disadvantages of an Individualistic 93 Philosophy Materialism 96 The Epics. History, Tradition, and Myth 99 The Mahabharata 106 .The Bhagavad Gita 108 Life and Work in Ancient India 110 Mahavira and Buddha: Caste 119 Chandragupta and Chanakya. The Maurya Empire Established 122 The Organization of the State 124 Buddhas Teaching 127 The Buddha Story 130 Ashoka 132CHAPTER FIVE: THROUGH THE AGES Nationalism and Imperialism under the Guptas 136 South India 139 Peaceful Development and Methods of Warfare 140 Indias Urge to Freedom 141 Progress versus Security 143 India and Iran 146 India and Greece 150 The Old Indian Theatre 157 Vitality and Persistence of Sanskrit 164 Buddhist Philosophy 170 Effect of Buddhism on Hinduism 174 How did Hinduism Absorb Buddhism in India? 178 The Indian Philosophical Approach 180 The Six Systems of Philosophy 183 India and China 192 Indian Colonies and Culture in South-East Asia 200 The Influence of Indian Art Abroad 207 Old Indian Art 210 Indias Foreign Trade 214 Mathematics in Ancient India 216 Growth and Decay 221CHAPTER SIX: NEW PROBLEMS The Arabs and the Mongols . 227 The Flowering of Arab Culture and Contacts with India 231 Mahmud of Ghazni and the Afghans 234 The Indo-Afghans. South India. Vijayanagar. Babar. 237 Sea Power Synthesis and Growth of Mixed Culture. Purdah. Kabir. 24 Guru Nanak. Amir Khusrau The Indian Social Structure. Importance of the Group Village Self-Government. The Shukra Nitisara
  10. 10. CONTENTS 13 The Theory and Practice of Caste. The Joint Family 250 Babar and Akbar: The Process of Indianization 257 The Contrast between Asia and Europe in Mechanical 260 Advance and Creative Energy Development of a Common Culture 265 Aurangzeb Puts the Clock Back. Growth of Hindu Nationalism. 270 Shivaji The Marathas and the British Struggle for Supremacy. 273 Triumph of the British The Backwardness of India and the Superiority of the English 276 in Organization and Technique Ranjit Singh and Jai Singh 281 The Economic Background of India: The Two Englands 284CHAPTER SEVEN: THE LAST PHASE (1): CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH RULE AND RISE OF NATIONALIST MOVEMENT The Ideology of Empire. The New Caste 289 The Plunder of Bengal Helps the Industrial Revolution 295 in England The Destruction of Indias Industry and the Decay of 298 her Agriculture India Becomes for the First Time a Political and Economic 302 Appendage of Another Country The Growth of the Indian States System 307 Contradictions of British Rule in India. Ram Mohan Roy. 312 The Press. Sir William Jones. English Education in Bengal The Great Revolt of 1857. Racialism 322 The Techniques of British Rule: Balance and Counterpoise 327 Growth of Industry: Provincial Differences 330 Reform and Other Movements among Hindus and Moslems 335 Kemal Pasha. Nationalism in Asia. Iqbal 350 Heavy Industry Begins. Tilak and Gokhale. Separate 352 ElectoratesCHAPTER EIGHT: THE LAST PHASE ( 2 ) : NATIONALISM VERSUS IMPERIALISM Helplessness of the Middle Classes. Gandhi Comes 356 The Congress Becomes a Dynamic Organization under 360 Gandhis Leadership Congress Governments in the Provinces 365 Indian Dynamism versus British Conservatism in India 371 The Question of Minorities. The Moslem League: Mr M.A. Jinnah 380 The National Planning Committee 395 The Congress and Industry: Big Industry versus Cottage Industry 402 Government Checks Industrial Growth. War Production is 409 Diversion from Normal Production
  11. 11. 14 JAWAHARLAL NEHRUCHAPTER NINE: THE LAST PHASE (3): WORLD WAR II The Congress Develops a Foreign Policy 416 The Congress Approach to War 422 Reaction to War 426 Another Congress Offer and Its Rejection by the British 432 Government. Mr Winston Churchill Individual Civil Disobedience 439 After Pearl Harbour. Gandhi and Non-Violence 442 Tension 449 Sir Stafford Cripps Comes to India 453 Frustration 464 The Challenge: Quit India Resolution 468CHAPTER TEN: AHMADNAGAR FORT AGAIN The Chain of Happening 479 The Two Backgrounds: Indian and British 480 Mass Upheavals and Their Suppression 484 Reactions Abroad 491 Reactions in India 493 Indias Sickness: Famine 495 Indias Dynamic Capacity 499 Indias Growth Arrested 505 Religion, Philosophy, and Science 509 The Importance of the National Idea. Changes Necessary 515 in India India: Partition or Strong National State or Centre of 524 Supra-National State? Realism and Geopolitics. World Conquest or World 536 Association. The U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. Freedom and Empire 548 The Problem of Population. Falling Birth-rates and 551 National Decay The Modern Approach to an Old Problem 557 EpiloguePOSTSCRIPT Allahabad 29th December 1945 567 Index 569
  12. 12. C H A P T E R ONE AHMADNAGAR FORT Twenty Months A h m a d n a g a r Fort, 13th April 1944IT IS MORE THAN TWENTY MONTHS SINCE WE W E R E BROUGHT H E R E ,more than twenty months of my ninth term of imprisonment.T h e new moon, a shimmering crescent in the darkening sky,greeted us on our arrival here. T h e bright fortnight of the waxingmoon h a d begun. Ever since then each coming of the new moonhas been a reminder to me that another m o n t h of my imprison-ment is over. So it was with my last term of imprisonment whichbegan with the new moon, just after the Deepavali, the festival oflight. T h e moon, ever a companion to me in prison, has grownmore friendly with closer acquaintance, a reminder of the loveli-ness of this world, of the waxing and waning of life, of lightfollowing darkness, of death and resurrection following each otherin interminable succession. Ever changing, yet ever the same, Ihave watched it in its different phases and its many moods in theevening, as the shadows lengthen, in the still hours of the night,a n d when the breath a n d whisper of dawn bring promise of thecoming day. H o w helpful is the moon in counting the days a n d themonths, for the size a n d shape of the moon, when it is visible,indicate the day of the m o n t h with a fair measure of exactitude.It is an easy calendar (though it must be adjusted from time totime), and for the peasant in the field the most-convenient one toindicate the passage of the days and the gradual changing of theseasons. Three weeks we spent here cut off completely from all newsof the outside world. T h e r e were no contacts of any kind, nointerviews, no letters, no newspapers, no radio. Even our presencehere was supposed to be a state secret unknown to any except tothe officials in charge of us, a poor secret, for all I n d i a knew wherewe were. T h e n newspapers were allowed and, some weeks later, lettersfrom near relatives dealing with domestic affairs. But no
  13. 13. interviews during these 20 months, no other contacts. T h e newspapers contained heavily censored news. Yet they gave us some idea of the war that was consuming more than half the world, and of how it fared with our people in India. Littlewe knew about these people of ours except that scores of thou- sands lay in prison or internment camp without trial, that thou- sands h a d been shot to death, that tens of thousands h a d beendriven out of schools and colleges, that something indistinguish-able from martial law prevailed over the whole country, that terrora n d frightfulness darkened the land. T h e y were worse off, farworse than us, those scores of thousands in prison, like us, withouttrial, for there were not only no interviews but also no letters ornewspapers for them, and even books were seldom allowed. M a n ysickened for lack of healthy food, some of our dear ones died forlack of proper care a n d treatment. T h e r e were m a n y thousands of prisoners of war kept in India,mostly from Italy. We compared their lot with the lot of our ownpeople. We were told that they were governed by the GenevaConvention. But there was no convention or law or rule to governthe conditions under which I n d i a n prisoners a n d detenus had toexist, except such ordinances which it pleased our British rulers toissue from time to time. Famine Famine came, ghastly, staggering, horrible beyond words. In M a l a b a r , in Bijapur, in Orissa, and, above all, in the rich a n dfertile province of Bengal, men and women and little childrendied in their thousands daily for lack of food. T h e y dropped downdead before the palaces of Calcutta, their corpses lay in the m u d -huts of Bengals innumerable villages and covered the roads and fields of its rural areas. M e n were dying all over the world a n dkilling each other in battle; usually a quick death, often a bravedeath, death for a cause, death with a purpose, death whichseemed in this mad world of ours an inexorable logic of events,a sudden end to the life we could not mould or control. Deathwas common enough everywhere. But here death had no purpose, no logic, no necessity; it was the result of mans incompetence and callousness, m a n - m a d e , aslow creeping thing of horror with nothing to redeem it, lifemerging and fading into death, with death looking out of theshrunken eyes a n d withered frame while life still lingered for awhile. And so it was not considered right or proper to mentionit; it was not good form to talk or write of unsavoury topics. Todo so was to dramatize an unfortunate situation. False reports16
  14. 14. were issued by those in authority in India and in England. Butcorpses cannot easily be overlooked; they come in the way. While the fires of hell were consuming the people of Bengaland elsewhere, we were first told by high authority that owingto wartime prosperity the peasantry in m a n y parts of India hadtoo much to eat. T h e n it was said that the fault lay with pro-vincial autonomy, a n d that the British Government in India, orthe India Office in London, sticklers for constitutional propriety,could not interfere with provincial affairs. T h a t constitution wassuspended, violated, ignored, or changed daily by hundreds ofdecrees and ordinances issued by the Viceroy under his sole a n dunlimited authority. T h a t constitution meant ultimately theunchecked authoritarian rule of a single individual who wasresponsible to no one in India, a n d who had greater power t h a nany dictator anywhere in the world. T h a t constitution was workedby the p e r m a n e n t services, chiefly the I n d i a n Civil Service andthe police, who were mainly responsible to the Governor, whowas the agent of the Viceroy, and who could well ignore theministers when such existed. T h e ministers, good or b a d , lived onsufferance and dared not disobey the orders from above or eveninterfere with the discretion of the services supposed to be sub-ordinate to them. Something was done at last. Some relief was given. But a millionhad died, or two millions, or three; no one knows how m a n ystarved to death or died of disease during those months of horror.No one knows of the m a n y more millions of emaciated boys a n dgirls a n d little children who just escaped death then, but arestunted and broken in body a n d spirit. And still the fear of wide-spread famine a n d disease hovers over the land. President Roosevelts Four Freedoms. T h e Freedom fromW a n t . Yet rich England, a n d richer America, paid little heedto the hunger of the body that was killing millions in India, asthey h a d paid little heed to the fiery thirst of the spirit that isconsuming the people of India. Money was not needed it wassaid, a n d ships to carry food were scarce owing to war-timerequirements. But in spite of governmental obstruction a n d desireto minimize the overwhelming tragedy of Bengal, sensitive andwarm-hearted m e n a n d women in England a n d America andelsewhere came to our help. Above all, the Governments of China a n d Eire, poor in their own resources, full of their owndifficulties, yet having h a d bitter experience themselves of faminea n d misery a n d sensing what ailed the body and spirit of India,gave generous help. I n d i a has a long memory, b u t whatever elseshe remembers or forgets, she will not forget these gracious andfriendly acts. 17
  15. 15. The War for D e m o c r a c y In Asia a n d Europe and Africa, and over the vast stretches of the Pacific and Atlantic and Indian Oceans, war has raged in all its dreadful aspects. Nearly seven years of war in China, over four and a half years of war in Europe and Africa, and two years a n d four months of World W a r . W a r against fascism and nazism and attempts to gain world dominion. Of these years of war I have so far spent nearly three years in prison, here and elsewhere in India. I remember how I reacted to fascism and nazism in their early days, and not I only, but m a n y in India. H o w Japanese agres- sion in China had moved India deeply and revived the age-old friendship for China; how Italys rape of Abyssinia had sickened us; how the betrayal of Czechoslovakia had hurt and embittered us; how the fall of Republican Spain, after a struggle full of heroic endurance, had been a tragedy and a personal sorrow for me and others. It was not merely the physical acts of aggression in which fascism a n d nazism indulged, not only the vulgarity and bruta- lity that accompanied them, terrible as they were, that affected us, but the principles on which they stood and which they pro- claimed so loudly and blatantly, the theories of life on which they tried to fashion themselves; for these went counter to what we believed in the present, a n d what we had held from ages past. And even if our racial memory had forsaken us and we had lost our moorings, our own experiences, even though they came to us in different garb, and somewhat disguised for the sake of decency, were enough to teach us to what these nazi principles and theo- ries of life a n d the state ultimately led. For our people had been the victims for long of those very principles and methods of govern- ment. So we reacted immediately and intensely against fascism and nazism. I remember how I refused a pressing invitation from Signor Mussolini to see him in the early days of March, 1936. M a n y ofBritains leading statesmen, who spoke harshly of the fascist Ducein later years when Italy became a belligerent, referred to himtenderly and admiringly in those days, and praised his regimeand methods. T w o years later, in the summer before Munich, I was invitedon behalf of the Nazi government, to visit Germany, an invita-tion to which was added the remark that they knew my opposi-tion to nazism a n d yet they wanted me to see G e r m a n y for my-self. I could go as their guest or privately, in my own n a m e orincognito, as I desired, and I would have perfect freedom to go18
  16. 16. where I liked. Again I declined with thanks. Instead I went toCzechoslovakia, that far-away country about which Englandsthen Prime Minister knew so little. Before M u n i c h I met some of the members of the British Cabi-net and other prominent politicians of England, a n d venturedto express my anti-fascist and anti-nazi views before them. Ifound that my views were not welcomed and I was told that therewere m a n y other considerations to be borne in mind. During the Czechoslovak crisis, what I saw of Franco-Britishstatesmanship in Prague and in the Sudetenland, in Londona n d Paris, a n d in Geneva where the League Assembly was thensitting, amazed a n d disgusted me. Appeasement seemed to be afeeble word for it. T h e r e was behind it not only a fear of Hitler,but a sneaking admiration for him. And now, it is a curious turn of fates wheel that I, a n d peoplelike me, should spend our days in prison while w a r againstfascism a n d nazism is raging, and m a n y of those who used tobow to Hitler and Mussolini, and approve of Japanese aggres-sion in China, should hold aloft the b a n n e r of freedom anddemocracy a n d anti-fascism. In India the change is equally remarkable. T h e r e are thosehere, as elsewhere, governmentarians, who hover r o u n d theskirts of government and echo the views which they think willbe approved by those whose favour they continually seek.There was a time, not so long ago, when they praised Hitlerand Mussolini, a n d held them up as models, and when theycursed the Soviet Union with bell, book, a n d candle. Not sonow, for the weather has changed. T h e y are high governmentand state officials, a n d loudly they proclaim their anti-fascismand anti-nazism a n d even talk of democracy, though with batedbreath, as something desirable but distant. I often wonder w h a tthey would have done if events h a d taken a different turn, a n dyet there is little reason for conjecture, for they would welcomewith garlands and addresses of welcome whoever happened towield authority. For long years before the war my mind was full of the war t h a twas coming. I thought of it, a n d spoke of it, and wrote a b o u tit, and prepared myself mentally for it. I wanted I n d i a to takean eager a n d active part in the mighty conflict, for I felt thathigh principles would be at stake, and out of this conflict wouldcome great and revolutionary changes in India and the world. Atthat time I did not envisage an immediate threat to I n d i a : anyprobability of actual invasion. Yet I wanted India to take herfull share. But I was convinced that only as a free country andan equal could she function in this way. 19
  17. 17. T h a t was the attitude of the National Congress, the one greatorganization in India which consistently for all these years h a dbeen anti-fascist and anti-nazi, as it h a d been anti-imperialist.It had stood for Republican Spain, for Czechoslovakia, andthroughout for China. And now for nearly two years the Congress has been declaredillegal—outlawed and prevented from functioning in any way.T h e Congress is in prison. Its elected members of the provin-cial parliaments, its speakers of these parliaments, its ex-minis-ters, its mayors and presidents of municipal corporations, arein prison. Meanwhile the war goes on for democracy and the AtlanticCharter and the Four Freedoms. T i m e in Prison : The Urge to ActionT i m e seems to change its nature in prison. T h e present hardlyexists, for there is an absence of feeling a n d sensation whichmight separate it from the dead past. Even news of the active,living a n d dying world outside has a certain dream-like un-reality, an immobility and an unchangeableness as of the past.T h e outer objective time ceases to be, the inner a n d subjectivesense remains, but at a lower level, except when thought pullsit out of the present and experiences a kind of reality in the pastor in the future. We live, as Auguste Comte said, dead menslives, encased in our pasts, but this is especially so in prisonwhere we try to find some sustenance for our starved a n d locked-up emotions in memory of the past or fancies of the f u t u r e . T h e r e is a stillness a n d everlastingness about the past; itchanges not and has a touch of eternity, like a painted pictureor a statue in bronze or marble. Unaffected by the storms andupheavals of the present, it maintains its dignity and repose a n dtempts the troubled spirit a n d the tortured mind to seek shelterin its vaulted catacombs. There is peace there and security, andone m a y even sense a spiritual quality. But it is not life, unless we can find the vital links between ita n d the present with all its conflicts a n d problems. It is a kindof art for arts sake, without the passion a n d the urge to actionwhich are the very stuff of life. Without that passion and urge,there is a gradual oozing out of hope a n d vitality, a settling downon lower levels of existence, a slow merging into non-existence.We become prisoners of the past and some p a r t of its immobilitysticks to us. This passage of the mind is all the easier in prison where action20
  18. 18. is denied and we become slaves to the routine of jail-life. Yet the past is ever with us and all that we are a n d that wehave comes from the past. We are its products a n d we live im-mersed in it. Not to understand it and feel it as something livingwithin us is not to understand the present. To combine it withthe present a n d extend it to the future, to break from it where itcannot be so united, to make of all this the pulsating a n d vibrat-ing material for thought and action—that is life. Any vital action springs from the depths of the being. All thelong past of the individual and even of the race has preparedthe background for that psychological moment of action. Allthe racial memories, influences of heredity and environmentand training, subconscious urges, thoughts a n d dreams a n dactions from infancy and childhood onwards, in their curiousand tremendous mix-up, inevitably drive to that new action,which again becomes yet another factor influencing the future. Influencing the future, partly determining it, possibly even largelydetermining it, a n d yet, surely, it is not all determinism. Aurobindo Ghose writes somewhere of the present as t h e purea n d virgin m o m e n t , that razors edge of time a n d existence whichdivides the past from the future, a n d is, and yet, instantaneouslyis not. T h e phrase is attractive and yet what does it m e a n ?T h e virgin m o m e n t emerging from the veil of the future in allits naked purity, coming into contact with us, and immediatelybecoming the soiled a n d stale past. Is it we that soil it a n d violate it? Or is the m o m e n t not so virgin after all, for it is bound upwith all the harlotry of the past? W h e t h e r there is any such thing as h u m a n freedom in thephilosophic sense or whether there is only an automatic deter-minism, I do not know. A very great deal appears certainly tobe determined by the past complex of events which bear downa n d often overwhelm the individual. Possibly even the innerurge that he experiences, that apparent exercise of free will, isitself conditioned. As Schopenhauer says, a m a n can do whathe will, but not will as he will. A belief in an absolute deter-minism seems to me to lead inevitably to complete inaction, todeath in life. All my sense of life rebels against it, though ofcourse that very rebellion m a y itself have been conditioned byprevious events. I do not usually b u r d e n my mind with such philosophical ormetaphysical problems, which escape solution. Sometimes theycome to me almost unawares in the long silences of prison, oreven in the midst of an intensity of action, bringing with thema sense of detachment or consolation in the face of some painfulexperience. But usually it is action and the thought of action 21
  19. 19. vhat fill me, and when action is denied, I imagine that I ampreparing for action. T h e call of action has long been witn m e ; not action divorcedfrom thought, but rather flowing from it in one continuoussequence. And when, rarely, there has been full h a r m o n y bet-ween the two, thought leading to action a n d finding its fulfil-ment in it, action leading back to thought a n d a fuller under-standing—then I have sensed a certain fullness of life and a vividintensity in that moment of existence. But such moments are rare,very rare, and usually one outstrips the other a n d there is a lackof h a r m o n y , and vain effort to bring the two in line. T h e r e wasa time, m a n y years ago, when I lived for considerable periodsin a state of emotional exaltation, wrapped up in the actionwhich absorbed me. Those days of my youth seem far away now,not merely because of the passage of years but far more so be-cause of the ocean of experience and painful thought that sepa-rates them from to-day. T h e old exuberance is m u c h less now,the almost uncontrollable impulses have toned down, a n d passiona n d feeling are more in check. T h e burden of thought is oftena hindrance, a n d in the mind where there was once certainty,doubt creeps in. Perhaps it is just age, or the common temper ofour day. And yet, even now, the call of action stirs strange depths withinme, a n d often a brief tussle with thought. I want to experienceagain that lonely impulse of delight which turns to risk anddanger a n d faces and mocks at death. I am not enamoured ofdeath, though I do not think it frightens me. I do not believe inthe negation of or abstention from life. I have loved life a n d itattracts me still and, in my own way, I seek to experience it,though m a n y invisible barriers have grown up which surroundm e ; but that very desire leads me to play with life, to peep overits edges, not to be a slave to it, so that we may value each otherall the more. Perhaps I ought to have been an aviator, so thatwhen the slowness and dullness of life overcame me I could haverushed into the tumult of the clouds and said to myself: / balanced all, brought all to mind, The years to come seemed waste of breath, A waste of breath the years behind, In balance with this life, this death. The Past in its Relation to the PresentThis urge to action, this desire to experience life through action,has influenced all my thought and activity. Even sustained think-22
  20. 20. ing, a p a r t from being itself a kind of action, becomes part of theaction to come. It is not something entirely abstract, in the void,unrelated to action a n d life. T h e past becomes something thatleads up to the present, the moment of action, the future some-thing that flows from it; and all three are inextricably inter-twined and interrelated. Even my seemingly actionless life in prison is tacked on some-how, by some process of thought and feeling, to coming or ima-gined action, a n d so it gains for me a certain content withoutwhich it would be a vacuum in which existence would becomeintolerable. W h e n actual action has been denied me I have soughtsome such approach to the past and to history. Because my ownpersonal experiences have often touched historic events and some-times I have even had something to do with the influencing ofsuch events in my own sphere, it has not been difficult for meto envisage history as a living process with which I could identifymyself to some extent. I came late to history a n d , even then, not through the usualdirect road of learning a mass of facts and dates and drawingconclusions and inferences from them, unrelated to my lifescourse. So long as I did this, history h a d little significance forme. I was still less interested in the supernatural or problems ofa future life. Science and the problems of to-day and of our pre-sent life attracted me far more. Some mixture of thought and emotion and urges, of which Iwas only dimly conscious, led me to action, and action, in its turn,sent me back to thought and a desire to understand the present. T h e roots of that present lay in the past and so I made voyagesof discovery into the past, ever seeking a clue in it, if any suchexisted, to the understanding of the present. T h e domination ofthe present never left me even when I lost myself in musings ofpast, events a n d of persons far away and long ago, forgettingwhere or what I was. If I felt occasionally that I belonged to thepast. I felt also that the whole of the past belonged to me in thepresent. Past history merged into contemporary history: it be-came a living reality tied up with sensations of pain and pleasure. If the past h a d a tendency to become the present, the presentalso sometimes receded into the distant past and assumed itsimmobile, statuesque appearance. In the midst of an intensity ofaction itself, there would suddenly come a feeling as if it wassome past event and one was looking at it, as it were, in retrospect. It was this attempt to -discover the past in its relation to thepresent that led me twelve years ago to write Glimpses of WorldHistory in the form of letters to my daughter. I wrote rathersuperficially and as simply as I could, for I was writing for a girl 23
  21. 21. in her early teens, but behind that writing lay that quest a n dvoyage of discovery. A sense of adventure filled me and I livedsuccessively different ages a n d periods and h a d for companionsmen and women who h a d lived long ago. I h a d leisure in jail,there was no sense of h u r r y or of completing a task within anallotted period of time, so I let my mind wander or take root fora while, keeping in tune with my mood, allowing impression tosink in a n d fill the dry bones of the past with flesh and blood. It was a similar quest, though limited to recent a n d moreintimate times a n d persons, that led me later to write my auto-biography. I suppose I have changed a good deal during these twelveyears. I have grown more contemplative. T h e r e is perhaps alittle more poise and equilibrium, some sense of detachment, agreater calmness of spirit. I am not overcome now to the sameextent as I used to be by tragedy or what I conceived to betragedy. T h e turmoil and disturbance are less and are moretemporary, even though the tragedies have been on a far greaterscale. Is this, I have wondered, the growth of a spirit of resignation,or is it a toughening of the texture ? Is it just age and a lesseningof vitality a n d of the passion of life? Or is it due to long periodsin prison a n d life slowly ebbing away, and the thoughts that fillthe mind passing through, after a brief stay, leaving only ripplesbehind ? T h e tortured mind seeks some mechanism of escape,the senses get dulled from repeated shocks, and a feeling comesover one that so much evil and misfortune shadow the worldthat a little more or less does not make much difference. T h e r eis only one thing that remains to us that cannot be taken a w a / :to act with courage and dignity and to stick to the ideals thathave given meaning to life; but that is not the politicians way. Someone said the other d a y : death is the birthright of everyperson born—a curious way of putting an obvious thing. It is abirthright which nobody has denied or can deny, and which allof us seek to forget and escape so long as we may. And yet therewas something novel and attractive about the phrase. Those whocomplain so bitterly of life have always a way out of it, if theyso choose. T h a t is always in our power to achieve. If we cannotmaster life we can at least master death. A pleasing thoughtlessening the feeling of helplessness. Lifes P h i l o s o p h ySix or seven years ago an American publisher asked me to writean essay on my philosophy of life for a symposium he was prepar-ing. I was attracted to the idea but I hesitated, and the more24
  22. 22. I thought over it, the more reluctant I grew. Ultimately, I didnot write that essay. W h a t was my philosophy of life? I did not know. Some yearsearlier I would not have been so hesitant. T h e r e was a definite-ness about my thinking and objectives then which has fadedaway since. T h e events of the past few years in India, China,Europe, and all over the world have been confusing, upsettingand distressing, and the future has become vague and shadowyand has lost that clearness of outline which it once possessed inmy mind. This doubt a n d difficulty about fundamental matters did notcome in my way in regard to immediate action, except that itblunted somewhat the sharp edge of that activity. No longercould I function, as I did in my younger days, as an arrow flyingautomatically to the target of my choice ignoring all else butthat target. Yet I functioned, for the urge to action was there anda real or imagined co-ordination of that action with the ideals Iheld. But a growing distaste for politics as I saw them seized meand gradually my whole attitude to life seemed to undergo atransformation. T h e ideals a n d objectives of yesterday were still the ideals ofto-day, but they h a d lost some of their lustre and, even as oneseemed to go towards them, they lost the shining beauty whichh a d warmed the heart and vitalized the body. Evil triumphedoften enough, b u t what was far worse was the coarsening anddistortion of w h a t h a d seemed so right. Was h u m a n nature soessentially b a d that it would take ages of training, throughsuffering a n d misfortune, before it could behave reasonably andraise m a n above that creature of lust a n d violence and deceit that he now was? And, meanwhile, was every effort to changeit radically in the present or the near future doomed to failure? Ends and m e a n s : were they tied up inseparably, acting andreacting on each other, the wrong means distorting and some-times even destroying the end in view? But the right meansmight well be beyond the capacity of infirm and selfish h u m a nnature. W h a t then was one to d o ? Not to act was a complete con- fession of failure and a submission to evil; to act meant often enough a compromise with some form of that evil, w i t h all the untoward consequences that such compromises result in. My early approach to lifes problems h a d been more or less scientific, with something of the easy optimism of the science of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. A secure a n d comfortable existence a n d the energy and self-confidence I possessed increased that feeling of optimism. A kind of vague humanism appealed to me. 25
  23. 23. Religion, as I saw it practised, and accepted even by thinkingminds, whether it was Hinduism or Islam or Buddhism or Chris-tianity, did not attract me. It seemed to be closely associatedwith superstitious practices and dogmatic beliefs, and behind it lay a method of approach to lifes problems which was certainlynot that of science. There was an element of magic about it, anuncritical credulousness, a reliance on the supernatural. Yet it was obvious that religion had supplied some deeply feltinner need of h u m a n nature, and that the vast majority ofpeople all over the world could not do without some form ofreligious belief. It had produced many fine types of men andwomen, as well as bigoted, narrow-minded, cruel tyrants. It h a dgiven a set of values to h u m a r life, and though some of thesevalues had no application to-day, or were even harmful, otherswere still the foundation of morality and ethics. In the wider sense of the word, religion dealt with the un-charted regions of h u m a n experience, uncharted, that is, by thescientific positive knowledge of the day. In a sense it might beconsidered an extension of the known and charted region, thoughthe methods of science and religion were utterly unlike eachother, and to a large extent they had to deal with different kindsof media. It was obvious that there was a vast unknown regionall around us, and sciencc, with its magnificent achievements,knew Httlc enough about it, though it was making tentativeapproaches in that direction. Probably also, the normal methodsof sciencc, its dealings with the visible world and the processesof life, were not wholly adapted to the physical, the artistic, thespiritual, and other elements of the invisible world. Life doesnot consist entirely of what we see and hear a n d feel, the visibleworld which is undergoing change in time and space; it is con-tinually touching an invisible world of other, and possibly morestable or equally changeable elements, and no thinking personcan ignore this invisible world. Science does not tell us much, or for the matter of that any-thing about the purpose of life. It is now widening its boun-daries and it may invade the so-called invisible world beforelong and help us to understand this purpose of life in its widestsense, or at least give us some glimpses which illumine the pro-blem of h u m a n existence. T h e old controversy between scienceand religion takes a new form—the application of the scientificmethod to emotional and religious experiences. Religion merges into mysticism and metaphysics and philo-sophy. There have been great mystics, attractive figures, whocannot easily be disposed of as self-deluded fools. Yet mysticism(in the narrow sense of the word) irritates m e ; it appears to be26
  24. 24. vague a n d soft a n d flabby, not a rigorous discipline of the mind b u t a surrender of mental faculties and a living in a sea of emotional experience. • T h e experience m a y lead occasionally to some insight into inner a n d less obvious processes, but it is also likely to lead to self-delusion. Metaphysics and philosophy, or a metaphysical philosophy, have a greater appeal to the mind. T h e y require h a r d thinking and the application of logic and reasoning, though all this isnecessarily based on some premises, which are presumed to beself-evident, a n d yet which may or m a y not be true. All think-ing persons, to a greater or less degree, dabble in metaphysicsa n d philosophy, for not to do so is to ignore m a n y of the aspectsof this universe of ours. Some m a y feel more attracted to themthan others, a n d the emphasis on them may vary in differentages. In the ancient world, both in Asia and Europe, all theemphasis was laid on the supremacy of the inward life overthings external, a n d this inevitably led to metaphysics a n dphilosophy. T h e modern m a n is wrapped up m u c h more inthese things external, a n d yet even be, in moments of crisis a n dmental trouble often turn.0 to philosophy a n d metaphysicalspeculations. Some vague or more precise philosophy of life we all have,though most of us accept unthinkingly the general attitude whichis characteristic of our generation and environment. Most ofus accept also certain metaphysical conceptions as part of thefaith in which we have grown up. I have not been attractedtowards metaphysics; in fact, I have had a certain distaste forvague speculation. And yet I have sometimes found a certainintellectual fascination in trying to follow the rigid lines ofmetaphysical and philosophic thought of the ancients or themoderns. But I have never felt at case there and have escapedfrom their spell with a feeling of relief. Essentially, I am interested in this world, in this life, not insome other world or a future life. Whether there is such a thingas a soul, or whether there is a survival after death or not, I donot know; a n d , important as these questions are, they do nottrouble me in the least. T h e environment in which I havegrown up takes the soul (or rather the alma) and a future life,the Karma theory of cause and effect, and reincarnation forgranted. I have been affected by this a n d so, in a sense, I amfavourably disposed towards these assumptions. There might bea soul which survives the physical death of the body, and a theoryof cause and effect governing lifes actions seems reasonable,though it leads to obvious difficulties when one thinks of theultimate cause. Presuming a soul, there appears to be some logicalso in the theory of reincarnation. 27
  25. 25. But I do not believe in any of these or other theories and assumptions as a matter of religious faith. T h e y are just intel- lectual speculations in an unknown region about which we know next to nothing. T h e y do not affect my life, a n d whether they were proved right or wrong subsequently, they would make little difference to me. Spiritualism with its seances and its so-called manifestations of spirits and the like has always seemed to me a rather absurd and impertinent way of investigating psychic p h e n o m e n a and the mysteries of the after-life. Usually it is something worse, and is an exploitation of the emotions of some over-credulous people who seek relief or escape from mental trouble. I do not deny the possibility of some of these psychic phenomena having a basis of truth, but the approach appears to me to be all wrong and the conclusions drawn from scraps and odd bits of evidence to be unjustified. Often, as I look at this world, I have a sense of mysteries, of unknown depths. T h e urge to understand it, in so far as I can, comes to m e : to be in tune with it and to experience it in its fullness. But the way to that understanding seems to me essen- tially the way of science, the way of objective approach, though I realise that there can be no such thing as true objectiveness. If the subjective element is unavoidable a n d inevitable, it should be conditioned as far as possible by the scientific method. W h a t the mysterious is I do not know. I do not call it God because God has come to mean much that I do not believe in. I find myself incapable of thinking of a deity or of any unknownsupreme power in anthropomorphic terms, and the fact thatmany people think so is continually a source of surprise to me.Any idea of a personal God seems very odd to me. Intellectually, I can appreciate to some extent the conception of monism, andI have been attracted towards the Advaita (non-dualist) philo-sophy of the Vedanta, though I do not presume to understandit in all its depth and intricacy, and I realise that merely anintellectual appreciation of such matters does not carry onefar. At the same time the V e d a n t a , as well as other similarapproaches, rather frighten me with their vague, formless incur-sions into infinity. T h e diversity and fullness of nature stir meand produce a harmony of the spirit, a n d I can imagine myselffeeling at home in the old Indian or Greek pagan and pantheistic atmosphere, but minus the conception of God or Gods thatwas attached to it. Some kind of ethical approach to life has a strong appeal forme, though it would be difficult for me to justify it logically.I have been attracted by Gandhijis stress on right means andI think one of his greatest contributions to our public life has28
  26. 26. been, this emphasis. T h e idea is by no means new, but thisapplication of an ethical doctrine to large-scale public activitywas certainly novel. It is full of difficulty, and perhaps ends a n dm e a n s are not really separable but form together one organicwhole. In a world which thinks almost exclusively of ends andignores means, this emphasis on means seems odd a n d remark-able. H o w far it has succeeded in India I cannot say. But thereis no doubt that it has created a deep and abiding impressionon the minds of large numbers of people. A study of M a r x a n d Lenin produced a powerful effect onmy m i n d a n d helped me to see history and current affairs ina new light. T h e long chain of history a n d of social develop-ment appeared to h a v e some meaning, some sequence, a n d thef u t u r e lost some of its obscurity. T h e practical achievementsof the Soviet U n i o n were also tremendously impressive. O f t e nI disliked or did not understand some development there andit seemed to me to be too closely concerned with the oppor-tunism of the m o m e n t or the power politics of the day. Butdespite all these developments a n d possible distortions of theoriginal passion for h u m a n betterment, I h a d no doubt that theSoviet Revolution h a d advanced h u m a n society by a great leapa n d h a d lit a bright flame which could not be smothered, andthat it h a d laid the foundations for that new civilization towardswhich the world could advance. I am too m u c h of an indivi-dualist a n d believer in personal freedom to like overmuch regi-mentation. Yet it seemed to me obvious that in a complex socialstructure individual freedom h a d to be limited, a n d perhapsthe only way to read personal freedom was through some suchlimitation in the social sphere. T h e lesser liberties m a y oftenneed limitation in the interest of the larger freedom. M u c h in the Marxist philosophical outlook I could acceptwithout difficulty: its monism and non-duality of mind andmatter, the dynamics of matter and the dialectic of continuouschange by evolution as well as leap, through action a n d inter-action, cause a n d effect, thesis, antithesis a n d synthesis. It didnot satisfy me completely, nor did it answer all the questionsin my mind, a n d , almost unawares, a vague idealist approachwould creep into my mind, something rather akin to the V e d a n t aapproach. It was not a difference between mind a n d matter,but rather of something that lay beyond the mind. Also therewas the background of ethics. I realised that the moral approachis a changing one a n d depends upon the growing mind a n d anadvancing civilization; it is conditioned by the mental climateof the age. Yet there was something more to it t h a n that, certainbasic urges which h a d greater permanence. I did not like thefrequent divorce in communist, as in other, practice between 29
  27. 27. action and these basic urges or principles. So there was an odd mixture in my mind which I could not rationally explain or resolve. T h e r e was a general tendency not to think too m u c h of those fundamental questions which appear to be beyond reach, but rather to concentrate on the problems of life—to understand in the narrower and more immediate sense what should be done and how. Whatever ultimate reality m a y be, a n d whether we can ever grasp it in whole or in part, there certainly a p p e a r to be vast possibilities of increasing h u m a n knowledge, even though this m a y be partly or largely subjective, and of applying this to the advancement and betterment of h u m a n living a n d social organization. T h e r e has been in the past, and there is to a lesser extenteven to-day among some people, an absorption in finding ananswer to the riddle of the universe. This leads them away fromthe individual and social problems of the day, a n d when theyare unable to solve that riddle they despair and turn to inactionand triviality, or find comfort in some dogmatic creed. Socialevils, most of which are certainly capable of removal, are attri-buted to original sin, to the unalterableness of h u m a n natu-e,or the social structure, or (in India) to the inevitable legacyof previous births. T h u s one drifts away f r o m even the a t t e m p tto think rationally and scientifically and takes refuge in irra-tionalism, superstition, and unreasonable a n d inequitable socialprejudices a n d practices. It is true that even rational a n d scien-tific thought does not always take us as far as we would like togo. T h e r e is an infinite number of factors and relations all ofwhich influence and determine events in varying degrees. It isimpossible to grasp all of them, but we can try to pick out thedominating forces at work and by observing external materialreality, and by experiment and practice, trial a n d error, gropeour way to ever-widening knowledge and truth. For this purpose, and within these limitations, the general Marxist approach, fitting in as it more or less does with the present state of scientific knowledge, seemed to me to offer con-siderable help. But even accepting that approach, the con-sequences that flow from it a n d the interpretation on past a n dpresent happenings were by no means always clear. M a r x sgeneral analysis of social development seems to h a v e been re-markably correct, and yet many developments took place laterwhich did not fit in with his outlook for the immediate future.Lenin successfully adapted the Marxian thesis to some of thesesubsequent developments, a n d again since then further remark-able changes have taken place—the rise of fascism a n d nazismand all that lay behind them. T h e very rapid growth of techno-logy a n d the practical application of vast developments in30
  28. 28. scientific knowledge are now changing the world picture with anamazing rapidity, leading to new problems. And so while I accepted the fundamentals of the socialisttheory, I did not trouble myself about its numerous inner con-troversies. I h a d little patience with leftist groups in India,spending m u c h of their energy in mutual conflict and recrimi-nation over fine points of doctrine which did not interest meat all. Life is too complicated and, as far as we can understandit in our present state of knowledge, too illogical, for it to beconfined within the four corners of a fixed doctrine. T h e real problems for me remain problems of individual andsocial life, of harmonious living, of a proper balancing of anindividuals inner and outer life, of an adjustment of the rela-tions between individuals and between groups, of a continuousbecoming something better a n d higher of social development,of the ceaseless adventure of m a n . In the solution of these pro-blems the way of observation and precise knowledge and deli-berate reasoning, according to the method of science, must befollowed. This method may not always be applicable in ourquest of truth, for art and poetry a n d certain psychic experi-ences seem to belong to a different order of things and to elude the objective methods of science. Let us, therefore, not rule out intuition a n d other methods of sensing t r u t h and reality. T h e y are necessary even for the purposes of science. But always we must hold to our anchor of precise objective knowledge tested by reason, a n d even more so by experiment and practice, and always we must beware of losing ourselves in a sea of specula- tion unconnected with the day-to-day problems of life and theneeds of m e n a n d women. A living philosophy must answer the problems of to-day. It may be that we of this modern age, who so pride ourselves on the achievements of our times, are prisoners of our age, just as the ancients a n d the men and women of medieval times were prisoners of their respective ages. We may delude ourselves, as others have done before us, that our way of looking at things is the only right way, leading to truth. We cannot escape from that prison or get rid entirely of that illusion, if illusion it is. Yet I am convinced that the methods and approach of science h a v e revolutionized h u m a n life more than anything else in the long course of history, and have opened doors and avenues of further and even more radical change, leading up to the very portals of what has long been considered the unknown. T h e technical achievements of science are obvious enough: its capa- city to transform an economy of scarcity into one of a b u n d a n c e is evident, its invasion of many problems which have so far been the monopoly of philosophy is becoming more pronounced. 31
  29. 29. Space-time a n d the q u a n t u m theory utterly changed the picture of the physical world. More recent researches into the nature of matter, the structure of the atom, the transmutation of the elements, and the transformation of electricity and light, either into the other, have carried h u m a n knowledge much further. M a n no longer sees nature as something a p a r t a n d dis- tinct from himself. H u m a n destiny appears to become a partof natures rhythmic energy. All this upheaval of thought, due to the advance of science,has led scientists into a new region, verging on the metaphysi-cal. T h e y draw different and often contradictory conclusions.Some see in it a new unity, the antithesis of chance. Others, likeBertrand Russell, say, Academic philosophers ever since thetime of Parmenides have believed the world is unity. T h e mostfundamental of my beliefs is that this is rubbish. Or again, M a n is the product of causes which h a d no prevision of theend they were achieving; his origin, his growth, his hopes a n dfears, his loves and beliefs are but the outcome of accidentalcollocations of atoms. And yet the latest developments in phy-sics have gone a long way to demonstrate a f u n d a m e n t a l unityin nature. T h e belief that all things are made of a single sub-stance is as old as thought itself; but ours is the generation which,first of all in history, is able to receive the unity of nature, not asa baseless dogma or a hopeless aspiration, but a principle of sciencebased on proof as sharp and clear as anything which is known.* Old as this belief is in Asia and Europe, it is interesting tocompare some of the latest conclusions of science with the fun-damental ideas underlying the Advaita Vedantic theory. Theseideas were that the universe is made of one substance whoseform is perpetually changing, and further that the sum-total ofenergies remains always the same. Also that the explanations ofthings are to be found within their own nature, a n d that no externalbeings or existences are required to explain what is going on in theuniverse, with its corollary of a self-evolving universe. It does not very much matter to science what these vaguespeculations lead to, for meanwhile it forges ahead in a hundreddirections, in its own precise experimental way of observation,widening the bounds of the charted region of knowledge, a n dchanging h u m a n life in the process. Science m a y be on the vergeof discovering vital mysteries, which yet m a y elude it. Still itwill go on along its appointed path, for there is no end to itsjourneying. Ignoring for the moment the w h y ? of philosophy,science will go on asking h o w ? , and as it finds this oul it givesgreater content a n d meaning to life, a n d perhaps takes us someway to answering the w h y ? . *Karl K. Darrow. The Renaissance of Physics (New York, 1936), p. 301.32
  30. 30. O r , perhaps, we cannot cross that barrier, a n d the mysteriouswill continue to remain the mysterious, a n d life with all itschanges will still remain a bundle of good a n d evil, a succes-sion of conflicts, a curious combination of incompatible a n dmutually hostile urges. Or again, perhaps, the very progress of science, unconnectedwith and isolated from moral discipline a n d ethical considera-tions, will lead to the concentration of power a n d the terribleinstruments of destruction which it has m a d e , in the hands ofevil a n d selfish men, seeking the domination of others—andthus to the destruction of its own great achievements. Somethingof this kind we see happening now, a n d behind this war therelies this internal conflict of the spirit of m a n . H o w amazing is this spirit of m a n ! In spite of i n n u m e r a b l efailings, m a n , throughout the ages, has sacrificed his life a n dall he held dear for an ideal, for truth, for faith, for country a n dhonour. T h a t ideal m a y change, but that capacity for self-sacrifice continues, a n d , because of that, m u c h m a y be forgivento m a n , and it is impossible to lose hope for him. In the midstof disaster, he has not lost his dignity or his faith in the valueshe cherished. Plaything of natures mighty forces, less than aspeck of dust in this vast universe, he has hurled defiance at theelemental powers, a n d with his mind, cradle of revolution, sought to master them. W h a t e v e r gods there be, there is somethinggodlike in man, as there is also something of the devil in him. T h e future is dark, uncertain. But we can see p a r t of theway leading to it and can tread it with firm steps, r e m e m b e r i n gthat nothing that can h a p p e n is likely to overcome the spiritof m a n which has survived so m a n y perils; remembering alsothat life, for all its ills, has joy and beauty, and that we canalways w a n d e r ; if we know how to, in the enchanted woods ofnature. What else is wisdom? What of mans endeavour Or Gods high grace, so lovely and so great? To stand from fear set free, to breathe and wait; To hold a hand uplifted over Hate; And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever?* The Burden of the PastT h e twenty-first m o n t h of my imprisonment is well on its w a y ;the moon waxes a n d wanes a n d soon two years will have beencompleted. Another birthday will come r o u n d to remind met h a t I am getting older; my last four birthdays I have spent inprison, here a n d in D e h r a D u n Jail, a n d m a n y others in the * Chorus from The Bacchae of Euripides. Gilbert Murrays translation. 33
  31. 31. course of my previous terms of imprisonment. I have lost count of their number. During all these months I have often thought of writing, felt the urge to it and at the same time a reluctance. My friends took it for granted that I would write and produce another book, as I h a d done during previous terms of imprisonment. It h a d almost become a habit. Yet I did not write. T h e r e was a certain distaste for just throwing out a book which h a d no particular significance. It was easy enough to write, but to write something that was worthwhile was another matter, something that would not grow stale while I sat in prison with my manuscript a n d the world wenton changing. I would not be writing for to-day or to-morrow but for an unknown and possibly distant future. For - w h o mwould I write? and for w h e n ? Perhaps what I wrote wouldnever be published, for the years 1 would spend in prison werelikely to witness even greater convulsions and conflicts than theyears of war that are already over. India herself might be abattle-ground or there might be civil commotion. And, even if we escaped all these possible developments, itwas a risky adventure to write now for a future date, when theproblems of to-day might be dead and buried a n d new problemsarisen in their place. I could not think of this World W a r asjust another war, only bigger and greater. F r o m the day it brokeout, a n d even earlier, I was full of premonitions of vast a n dcataclysmic changes, of a new world arising for better or forworse. W h a t would my poor writing of a past a n d vanished agebe worth t h e n ? All these thoughts troubled a n d restrained me, a n d behindthem lay deeper questions in the recesses of my mind, to whichI could find no easy answer. Similar thoughts and difficulties came to me during my lastterm of imprisonment, from October, 1940, to December, 1941,mostly spent in my old cell of Dehra D u n Jail, where six yearsearlier I h a d begun writing my autobiography. For ten monthsthere I could not develop the mood for writing, and, I spent"my time in reading or in digging and playing about with soiland flowers. Ultimately I did write: it was m e a n t to be a con-tinuation of my autobiography. For a few weeks I wrote rapidlyand continuously, but before my task was finished I was sud-denly discharged, long before the end of my four-year term ofimprisonment. It was fortunate that I had not finished w h a t I h a d under-taken, for if I had done so I might have been induced to sendit to a publisher. Looking at it now, I realise its little w o r t h ;34
  32. 32. how stale a n d uninteresting m u c h of it seems. T h e incidents itdeals with have lost all importance a n d have become the debrisof a half-forgotten past, covered over by the lava of subsequentvolcanic eruptions. I have lost interest in them. W h a t stand outin my mind are personal experiences which h a d left their impressu p o n m e ; contacts with certain individuals a n d certain events; contacts with the crowd—the mass of the I n d i a n people, in theirinfinite diversity a n d yet their amazing unity; some adventuresof the m i n d ; waves of unhappiness a n d the relief a n d joy thatc a m e from overcoming t h e m ; the exhilaration of the m o m e n tof action. About m u c h of this one m a y not write. T h e r e is anintimacy about ones inner life, ones feelings a n d thoughts,which m a y not a n d cannot be conveyed to others. Yet thosecontacts, personal a n d impersonal, m e a n m u c h ; they affect theindividual a n d m o u l d him a n d change his reactions to life, tohis own country, to other nations. As in other prisons, here also in A h m a d n a g e r Fort, I took togardening and spent m a n y hours daily, even when the sun washot, in digging a n d preparing beds for flowers. T h e soil wasvery bad, stony, full of debris a n d remains of previous buildingoperations, a n d even the ruins of ancient monuments. For thisis a place of history, of m a n y a battle and palace intrigue in thepast. T h a t history is not very old, as I n d i a n history goes, noris it very i m p o r t a n t in the larger scheme of things. But oneincident stands out a n d is still r e m e m b e r e d : the courage of abeautiful w o m a n , C h a n d Bibi, w h o defended this fort a n d ledher forces, sword in h a n d , against the imperial armies of Akbar.She was m u r d e r e d by one of her own men. Digging in this u n f o r t u n a t e soil, we have come across partsof ancient walls a n d the tops of domes a n d buildings buried faru n d e r n e a t h the surface of the ground. We could not go far,as deep digging a n d archaeological explorations were not approv-ed by authority, nor did we have the wherewithal to carry thison. O n c e we came across a lovely lotus carved in stone on theside of a wall, probably over a doorway. I remembered another a n d a less h a p p y discovery in D e h r aD u n Jail. In the course of digging in my little yard, three yearsago, I came across a curious relic of past days. Deep under thesurface of the ground, the remains of two ancient piles wereuncovered a n d we viewed t h e m with some excitement. T h e ywere p a r t of the old gallows that h a d functioned there thirtyor forty years earlier. T h e jail h a d long ceased to be a place ofexecution a n d all visible signs of the old gallows-tree h a d beenremoved. We h a d discovered a n d uprooted its foundations, a n dall my fellow-prisoners, w h o h a d helped in this process, rejoicedt h a t we h a d p u t away at last this thing of ill omen. 35
  33. 33. Now I have put away my spade and taken to the pen instead.Possibly what I write now will meet the same fate as my un-finished manuscript of Dehra D u n Jail. I cannot write about thepresent so long as I am not free to experience it through action.It is the need for action in the present that brings it vividlyto me, and then I can write about it with ease a n d a certainfacility. In prison it is something vague, shadowy, somethingI cannot come to grips with, or experience as the sensation ofthe moment. It ceases to be the present for me in any real senseof the word, and yet it is not the past either, w i t h the pastsimmobility and statuesque calm. Nor can I assume the role of a prophet a n d write about thefuture. My mind often thinks of it and tries to pierce its veiland clothe it in the garments of my choice. But these are vainimaginings and the future remains uncertain, unknown, andthere is no assurance that it will not betray again our hopes a n dprove false to humanitys dreams. T h e past remains; but I cannot write academically of pastevents in the m a n n e r of a historian or scholar. I have not thatknowledge or equipment or training; nor do I possess the moodfor that kind of work. T h e past oppresses me or fills me some-times with its w a r m t h when it touches on the present, a n d be-comes, as it were, an aspect of that living present. If it does notdo so, then it is cold, barren, lifeless, uninteresting. I can onlywrite about it, as I have previously done, by bringing it in somerelation to my present-day thoughts and activities, and then thiswriting of history, as Goethe once said, brings some relief fromthe weight and burden of the past. It is, I suppose, a processsimilar to that of psychoanalysis, but applied to a race or toh u m a n i t y itself instead of to an individual. T h e b u r d e n of the past, the b u r d e n of both good and ill, isover-powering, a n d sometimes suffocating, more especially forthose of us who belong to ve.ry ancient civilizations like thoseof India and China. As Nietzsche says: Not only the wisdom ofcenturies—also their madness breaketh out in us. Dangerousis it to be an heir. W h a t is my inheritance? To what am I an h e i r ? To all thath u m a n i t y has achieved during tens of thousands of years, to allthat it has thought and felt a n d suffered a n d taken pleasure in,to its cries of triumph and its bitter agony of defeat, to thatastonishing adventure of m a n which began so long ago a n d yetcontinues a n d beckons to us. To all this and more, in commonwith all men. But there is a special heritage for those of us ofIndia, not an exclusive one, for none is exclusive a n d all arecommon to the race of m a n , one more especially applicable to36
  34. 34. us, something that is in our flesh a n d blood a n d bones, that has gone to make us what we are and what we are likely to be. It is the thought of this particular heritage a n d its applica- tion to the present that has long filled my mind, and it is about this that I should like to write, though the difficulty a n d com- plexity of the subject appal me and I can only touch the surface of it. I cannot do justice to it, but in attempting it I might be able to do some justice to myself by clearing my own mind and preparing it for the next stages of thought a n d action. Inevitably, my approach will often be a personal one; how the idea grew in my mind, what shapes it took, how it influenced me a n d affected my action. T h e r e will also be some entirely personal experiences which have nothing to do with the subject in its wider aspects, but which coloured my mind and influ- enced my a p p r o a c h to the whole problem. O u r judgments of countries and peoples are based on m a n y factors; among them our personal contacts, if there have been any, have a marked influence. If we do not personally know the people of a country we are apt to misjudge them even more t h a n otherwise, and to consider them entirely alien and different. In the case of our own country our personal contacts areinnumerable, and through such contacts many pictures or some kind of composite picture of our countrymen form in our mind. So I have filled the picture gallery of my mind. T h e r e are someportraits, vivid, life-like, looking down upon me and reminding me of some of lifes high points—and yet it all seems so longago and like some story I have read. T h e r e are m a n y otherpictures round which are wrapped memories of old comradeshipa n d the friendship that sweetens life. And there are innumer-able pictures of the mass— I n d i a n men a n d women a n d children,all crowded together, looking up at me, and I trying to fathomwhat lie behind those thousands of eyes of theirs. I shall begin this story with an entirely personal chapter, forthis gives the clue to my mood in the month immediately fol-lowing the period I have written about towards the end of myautobiography. But this is not going to be another autobiogra-phy, though I am afraid the personal element will often be present. T h e World W a r goes on. Sitting here in A h m a d n a g a r Fort, aprisoner perforce inactive when a fierce activity consumes theworld, I fret a little sometimes a n d I think of the big things andbrave ventures which have filled my mind these many years. Itry to view the war impersonally as one would look at some ele-mental phenomenon, some catastrophe of nature, a great earth-quake or a flood. I do not succeed of course. But there seemsno other way if I am to protect myself from too much h u r t andhatred and excitement. And in this mighty manifestation of 37
  35. 35. savage and destructive nature my own troubles a n d self sink intoinsignificance. I remember the words that Gandhiji said on that fateful eveningof August 8th, 1942: W e must look the world in the face withcalm and clear eyes even though the eyes of the world are blood-shot to-day.38
  36. 36. CHAPTER TWO BADENWEILER, LAUSANNE KamalaON SEPTEMBER 4tH, 1935, I WAS SUDDENLY RELEASED FROM THEm o u n t a i n jail of Almora, for news h a d come that my wife wasin a critical condition. She was far away in a sanatorium atBadenweiler in the Black Forest of Germany. I hurried byautomobile and train to Allahabad, reaching there the next day,a n d the same afternoon I started on the air j o u r n e y to Europe.T h e air liner took me to Karachi and Baghdad a n d Cairo, andfrom Alexandria a seaplane carried me to Brindisi. From BrindisiI went by train to Basle in Switzerland. I reached Badenweileron the evening of September 9th, four days after I h a d left Allaha-bad a n d five days after my release from Almora jail. T h e r e was the same old brave smile on K a m a l a s face when Isaw her, but she was too weak and too m u c h in the grip of painto say much. Perhaps my arrival m a d e a difference, for she wasa little better the next day and for some days after. But the crisiscontinued and slowly drained the life out of her. U n a b l e toaccustom myself to the thought of her death, I imagined thatshe was improving and that if she could only survive that crisisshe might get well. T h e doctors, as is their way, gave me hope.T h e immediate crisis seemed to pass a n d she held her ground.She was never well enough for a long conversation. We talkedbriefly a n d I would stop as soon as I noticed that she was gettingtired. Sometimes I read to her. Q n e of the books I rememberreading out to her in this way was Pearl Bucks T h e Good Earth*.She liked my doing this, but our progress was slow. Morning and afternoon I trudged from my ptnsiort in thelittle town to the sanatorium and spent a few hours with her. I was full of the m a n y things I wanted to tell her a n d yet I h a d to restrain myself. Sometimes we talked a little of old times,old memories, of common friends in I n d i a ; sometimes, a littlewistfully, of the future a n d what we would do then. In spiteof her serious condition she clung to the future. H e r eyes werebright and vital, her face usually cheerful. O d d friends w h ocame to visit her were pleasantly surprised to find her looking 39
  37. 37. better t h a n they had imagined. T h e y were misled by those bright eyes and that smiling face. In the long a u t u m n evenings I sat by myself in my room in the pen fion, where I was staying, or sometimes went out for a walk across the fields or through the forest. A h u n d r e d pictures of K a m a l a succeeded each other in my mind, a h u n d r e d aspects of her rich a n d deep personality. We h a d been married for nearly twenty years, and yet how many times she h a d surprised me by something new in her mental or spiritual make-up. I had known her in so many ways and, in later years, I h a d tried my utmost to understand her. T h a t understanding h a d not been denied to me, but I often wondered if I really knew her or understood her. T h e r e was something elusive about her, something fay-like, real but unsubstantial, difficult to grasp. Sometimes, looking into her eyes, I would find a stranger peeping out at me. Except for a little schooling, she h a d h a d no formal education; her mind h a d not gone through the educational process. She came to us as an unsophisticated girl, apparently with hardlyany of the complexes which are said to be so common now. She never entirely lost that girlish look, but as she grew into a womanher eyes acquired a depth and a fire, giving the impression of stillpools behind which storms raged. She was not the type of moderngirl, with the modern girls habits and lack of poise; yet she tookeasily enough to modern ways. But essentially she was an Indiangirl and, more particularly, a Kashmiri girl, sensitive a n d proud,childlike a n d grown-up, foolish and wise. She was reserved to thoseshe did not know or did not like, but bubbling over with gaietyand frankness before those she knew and liked. She was quick inher j u d g m e n t and not always fair or right, but she stuck to herinstinctive likes and dislikes. There was no guile in her. If shedisliked a person, it was obvious, and she m a d e no attempt to hidethe fact. Even if she h a d tried to do so, she would probably nothave succeeded. I have come across few persons who have pro-duced such an impression of sincerity upon me as she did. Our Marriage and After I thought of the early years of our marriage when, with all mytremendous liking for K a m a l a , I almost forgot her a n d deniedher, in so m a n y ways, that comradeship which was her due.For I was then like a person possessed, giving myself utterly tothe cause I had espoused, living in a dream-world of my own,a n d looking at the real people who surrounded me as unsub-stantial shadows. I worked to the utmost of my capacity a n d mymind was filled to the brim with the subject that engrossed me.I gave all my energy to that cause and h a d little left to spare.40
  38. 38. A n d yet I was very far from forgetting her, a n d I came backto h e r again a n d again as to a sure haven. If I was away for an u m b e r of days the thought of her cooled my mind, a n d I lookedforward eagerly to my return home. W h a t indeed could I hav£done if she h a d not been there to comfort me a n d give mestrength, a n d thus enable me to re-charge the exhausted batteryof my mind a n d b o d y ? I h a d taken from her w h a t she gave me. W h a t had I given toher in exchange during these early years ? I h a d failed evidentlya n d , possibly, she carried the deep impress of those days uponher. W i t h her inordinate pride a n d sensitiveness she did not wantto come to me to ask for help, although I could have given herthat help more t h a n anyone else. She wanted to play her ownp a r t in the national struggle and not be merely a hanger-on a n da shadow of her husband. She wanted to justify herself to her ownself as well as to the world. Nothing in the world could have pleasedme more t h a n this, but I was far too busy to sec beneath thesurface, and I was blind to what she looked for and so ardentlydesired. And then prison claimed me so often and I was awayfrom her, or else she was ill. Like Chitra in Tagores play, sheseemed to say to m e : I am Chitra. No goddess to be worshipped,nor yet the object of common pity to be brushed aside like a mothwith indifference. If you deign to keep me by your side in the p a t hof danger a n d daring, if you allow me to share the great duties ofyour life, then you will know my true self. But she did not say this to me in words and it was only gradu-ally that I read the message of her eyes. In the early months of 1930 I sensed her desire and we workedtogether, a n d I found in this experience a new delight. We livedfor a while on the edge of life, as it were, for the clouds weregathering and a national upheaval was coming. Those werepleasant months for us, but they ended too soon, and, early inApril, the country was in the grip of civil disobedience and govern-mental repression, and I was in prison again. Most of us menfolk were in prison. And then a remarkablething h a p p e n e d . O u r women came to the front and took chargeof the struggle. W o m e n h a d always been there of course, butnow there was an avalanche of them, which took not only theBritish Government but their own menfolk by surprise. Herewere these women, women of the upper or middle classes, lead-ing sheltered lives in their homes—peasant women, working-class women, rich w o m e n — p o u r i n g out in their tens of thou-sands in defiance of government order a n d police lathi. It wasnot only that display of courage a n d daring, but what was evenmore surprising was the organizational power they showed. Never can I forget the thrill that came to us in Naini Prison 41
  39. 39. when news of this reached us, the enormous pride in the women of I n d i a that filled us. We could hardly talk about all this a m o n g ourselves, for our hearts were full a n d our eyes were dim with tears. My father h a d joined us later in Naini Prison, a n d he told us m u c h that we did not know. He had been functioning outside as the leader of the civil disobedience movement, a n d he h a d en- couraged in no way these aggressive activities of the women all over the country. He disliked, in his paternal a n d somewhat old- fashioned way, young women a n d old messing about in the streets under the hot sun of summer a n d coming into conflict with the police. But he realised the temper of the people a n d did not dis- courage any one, not even his wife a n d daughters a n d daughter- in-law. He told us how he had been agreeably surprised to see the energy, courage, a n d ability displayed by women all over the country; of the girls of his own household he spoke with affec- tionate pride. At fathers instance, a Resolution of R e m e m b r a n c e was passedat thousands of public meetings all over I n d i a on J a n u a r y 26th, 1931, the anniversary of Indias Independence Day. These meet-ings were banned by the police a n d m a n y of them were forciblybroken up. Father h a d organized this from his sickbed a n d itwas a t r i u m p h of organization, for we could not use the news-papers, or the mails, or the telegraph, or the telephone, or anyof the established printing presses. A n d yet at a fixed time on anidentical day all over this vast country, even in remote villages,the resolution was read out in the language of the province a n dadopted. T e n days after the resolution was so adopted, father died. T h e resolution was a long one. But a p a r t of it related to thewomen of I n d i a : W e record our homage a n d deep a d m i r a t i o n for the womanhood of India, who, in the hour of peril for the motherland, forsook the shelter of their homes a n d , with unfailing courage a n d endurance, stood shoulder to shoulder with theirmenfolk in the front line of Indias national a r m y to share withthem the sacrifices a n d triumphs of the s t r u g g l e . . . . In this upheaval K a m a l a h a d played a brave a n d notable p a r ta n d on her inexperienced shoulders fell the task of organizingour work in the city of Allahabad when every known workerwas in prison. She m a d e up for that inexperience by her firea n d energy a n d , within a few months, she became the pride ofAllahabad. We met again u n d e r the shadow of my fathers last illness a n dhis death. We m e t on a new footing of comradeship a n d under-standing. A few months later w h e n we went with our d a u g h t e r toCeylon for our first brief holiday, a n d our last, we seemed to h a v ediscovered each other anew. All the past years t h a t we h a d passed42
  40. 40. together h a d been but a preparation for this new a n d more inti-m a t e relationship. We came back all too soon a n d work claimed me a n d , later,prison. T h e r e was to be no more holidaying, no working toge-ther, not even being together, except for a brief while betweentwo long prison terms of two years each which followed eachother. Before the second of these was over, K a m a l a lay dying. W h e n I was arrested in February, 1934, on a C a l c u t t a w a r r a n t ,K a m a l a went up to our rooms to collect some clothes for me. Ifollowed her to say good-bye to her. Suddenly she clung to mea n d , fainting, collapsed. This was unusual for her as we h a dtrained ourselves to take this jail-going lightly a n d cheerfullya n d to make as little fuss about it as possible. W a s it some pre-monition she h a d that this was our last more or less normal meeting? T w o long prison terms of two years each h a d come betweenme a n d her just when our need for each other was greatest, justwhen we h a d come so near to each other. I thought of this duringthe long days in jail, a n d yet I hoped that the time would surelycome when we would be together again. H o w did she fare d u r i n gthese years ? I can guess b u t even I do not know, for d u r i n g jailinterviews, or during a brief interval outside there was littlenormality. We h a d to be always on our best behaviour lest wemight cause pain to the other by showing our own distress. Butit was obvious that she was greatly troubled a n d distressed overm a n y things a n d there was no peace in her m i n d . I might havebeen of some help, but not from jail. The Problem of Human RelationshipsAll these and m a n y other thoughts, came to my mind d u r i n g mylong solitary hours in Badenweiler. I did not shed the atmos-phere of jail easily; I h a d long got used to it a n d the new envi-r o n m e n t did not make any great change. I was living in the nazid o m a i n with all its strange happenings which I disliked so m u c h ,b u t nazism did not interfere with me. T h e r e were few evidencesof it in that quiet village in a corner of the Black Forest. Or perhaps my mind was full of other matters. My past lifeunrolled itself before me a n d there was always K a m a l a standingby. She became a symbol of I n d i a n women, or of w o m a n herself.Sometimes she grew curiously mixed up with my ideas of India,t h a t land of ours so dear to us, with all her faults a n d weak-nesses, so elusive a n d so full of mystery. W h a t was K a m a l a ?D i d I know h e r ? understand her real self? Did she know or under-stand m e ? For I too was an a b n o r m a l person with mystery a n du n p l u m b e d depths within me, which I could not myself fathom. 43
  41. 41. Sometimes I h a d thought thai she was a little frightened of mebecause of this. I had been, and was, a most unsatisfactory personto m a r r y . K a m a l a a n d I were unlike each other in some ways,a n d yet in some other ways very alike; we did not complementeach other. O u r very strength became a weakness in our relationsto each other. T h e r e could either be complete understanding,a perfect union of minds, or difficulties. Neither of us could livea h u m d r u m domestic life, accepting things as they were. Among the m a n y pictures that were displayed in the bazaarsin India, there was one containing two separate pictures of K a m a l aa n d me, side by side, with the inscription at the top, adarsha jori,the model or ideal couple, as so m a n y people imagined us to be.But the ideal is terribly difficult to grasp or to hold. Yet I remem-ber telling K a m a l a , during our holiday in Ceylon, how fortunatewe h a d been in spite of difficulties and differences, in spite of allthe tricks life h a d played upon us, that marriage was an odd affair,and it h a d not ceased to be so even after thousands of years ofexperience. We saw a r o u n d us the wrecks of m a n y a marriage or,what was no better, the conversion of what was bright and goldeninto dross. H o w fortunate we were, I told her, and she agreed, forthough we h a d sometimes quarrelled a n d grown angry with eachother we kept that vital spark alight, and for each one of us life wasalways unfolding new adventure and giving fresh insight intoeach other. T h e problem of h u m a n relationships, how f u n d a m e n t a l it is,a n d how often ignored in our fierce arguments about politicsa n d economics. It was not so ignored in the old and wise civi-lizations of India a n d China, where they developed patterns ofsocial behaviour which, with all their faults, certainly gave poiseto the individual. T h a t poise is not in evidence in India to-day.But where is it in the countries of the West which have progressedso m u c h in other directions ? Or is poise essentially static a n dopposed to progressive change ? Must we sacrifice one for the other ?Surely it should be possible to have a union of poise a n d innera n d outer progress, of the wisdom of the old with the science andthe vigour of the new. Indeed we a p p e a r to have arrived at a stagein the worlds history when the only alternative to such a union islikely to be the destruction and undoing of both. C h r i s t m a s 1935K a m a l a s condition took a turn for the better. It was not verymarked, but after the strain of the past weeks we experiencedgreat relief. She h a d got over that crisis and stabilized her con-dition, and that in itself was a gain. This continued for anotherm o n t h a n d I took advantage of it to pay a brief visit to England44

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