Monday, December 9, 2019

India’s Independence was Secondary to Mohandas Gandhi: R.C. Majumdar Unmasks Gandhi

In the previous part discussing R.C. Majumdar’s frank and objective critique of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, we had seen how Majumdar showed, using Gandhi’s own words, that Satyagraha had no fair role in India’s struggle for freedom. In the present episode, we present a continuation of the selfsame critique where R.C. Majumdar throws searching light on the exact nature of Gandhi’s freedom struggle and the state and fate of the Congress party under his leadership.

Note: While the text has been retained exactly as in the original, I have taken the editorial liberty of adding subheadings for the sake of proper context, sequence, and categorization. Emphases added.

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Non-violence was a Cult for Mohandas Gandhi

There were other deep-seated differences between Gandhi and his followers. He placed the cult of non-violence above everything else—even above the independence of India. During the Second [world] War he grew uneasy at the possibility that the British might grant independence to India, for that would mean India’s participation in violent warfare (p. 602). To him the Congress was a humanitarian association…for the moral and spiritual regeneration of the world…But his followers looked upon the Congress as a purely political body whose sole object—and raison d’etre—was the achievement of the freedom of India. To Gandhi, not only was independence of India a minor issue as compared with the principle of non-violence, but, it is painful and strange to relate, he was even prepared to postpone Swaraj…if…he could advance the interest of the Khilafat…Gandhi’s conception of nationalism was also very peculiar…

Gandhi the Dictator and his Blind Followers

Gandhi realized, late in life, that a wide gulf had always separated him from his followers though they all submitted to his authority. This has been clearly explained by Pyarelal [a close confident of Gandhi]…This fact would have been apparent to Gandhi long before if the Congress were guided by him on democratic principles. But Gandhi was a dictator who could not tolerate opposition. In 1930, he deliberately excluded the Working Committee…those who differed from his views…when one of his momentous decisions was opposed by Azad and Nehru he demanded that both should leave the Working Committee…The scene that he created after the meeting of the A.I.C.C at Ahmadabad on 27 June, 1924…hardly befits a democratic leader….

The following words of Pyarelal…[describes] the resulting state of things: “Gandhiji came to the conclusion that his personality was acting as an incubus and smothering free self-expression in the Congress…arresting its nature growth…it stood in danger of degenerating into an organization ‘dominated by one personality’ in which ‘there was no play of reason.’ One of his admiring devotees referred to him as “beloved slave-driver.” Gandhi realized…that slave-driving may be…a great…strength to a leader, but it does not pay in the long run. For, like ordinary slaves, the slave-followers of Gandhi gradually turned against his leadership and revolted against his authority…

Waning Influence of Gandhi

Since the failure of the ‘Quit India’ movement Gandhi’s political influence waned more and more as…freedom approached nearer and nearer. He had very little share in the Congress negotiations with Cripps and practically none in those…momentous decisions which finally led to the freedom of India…

It would be a travesty of truth to give him the sole credit for the freedom of India and sheer nonsense to look upon Satyagraha (or Charka…) as the unique weapon by which it was achieved…Gandhi’s followers could not wield this weapon forged by him and therefore it never came into play. A successful Satyagraha, as conceived by Gandhi, would necessarily mean that the British had given up their hold on India in a mood of repentance…for their past sinful acts in India. But of this, we have no evidence whatsoever.

The two great ends of Gandhi’s life, to which even the freedom of India was a subordinate one, were to inculcate in the masses the spirit of non-violence and to bring about unity between the Hindus and Muslims by a change of heart. He failed miserably in both and realized it…at the fag end of his life. The cult of non-violence never took root in…the people. Even during the lifetime of Gandhi it was definitely abandoned by new leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan…it has not played any role in Indian politics ever since even under the stewardship of the devoted followers of Gandhi. As regards communal relations Gandhi began his political career by forging the closest bond of amity…between the Hindus and the Muslims such as had never been witnessed before. But it suffered a complete metamorphosis within a few years, and before Gandhi passed away he had the mortification to witness bitter hatred…between the two communities…unprecedented in the annals of Indian history after the end of Muslim rule. The failure of his life’s task was emphasized by a series of…the most horrible deeds of cruelty…

Gandhi Fails in Everything

The failure of Gandhi to achieve his two great ideals was almost inevitable. In the first case he did not make due allowance for human nature…As regards the second, he accepted, as fact, a purely imaginary fraternity, and completely ignored the fundamental differences between the Hindus and Muslims based on history, culture and tradition

The failure to achieve the two great ideals of non-violence and Hindu-Muslim unity led to the failure of Gandhi’s third ideal, namely, to maintain the political unity of India. For the cult of violence and communal strife were mainly responsible for the creation of Pakistan. As usual, Gandhi held fast to his ideal almost till the last, when his dream of a united India was rudely shattered by the action of his own followers. The tragedy of Gandhi’s life was that these members of his inner council, who followed him for more than twenty years, with unquestioned obedience, took the fatal steps leading to the partition of India without his knowledge, not speak of his consent…Whether Gandhi was right and his followers wrong, does not concern us here. But it certainly shows that reason ultimately took the place of blind faith and devotion to Gandhi.

To be continued

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