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gandhi_collected works vol 62

gandhi_collected works vol 62

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Published by: Nrusimha ( नृसिंह ) on Jan 23, 2009
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VOL. 62 : 8 OCTOBER, 1933 - 17 JANUARY, 1934
One who describes himself as a Harjian worker writes a long
letter of which I give the following substance:

With the Chairman of the local Harijan Seva Sangh and a sister I went the other day to a village. We were in a bullock-cart. On the way the Chairman and the sister were engaged in conver-sation exch- anging jokes. The sister seemed to be fatigued and lay in the Chair- man\u2019s lap. This familiarity somewhat startled me. On returning we were to take the train to the city from which we had started. We had to wait for a few hours at the station. The Chairman and the sister occu- pied a bench. I sat on the platform ground. It was a moonlight night. I had a mind to test them, for I thought that there was some-thing wrong with them. I, therefore, pretended that I would sleep and told the Chairman: \u2018We have yet to wait for some time. If you don\u2019t mind I would sleep for a while. I am tired. Will you wake me up when the train arrives?\u2019 Hearing this, the Chairman seemed to be delighted over my proposal and he readily permitted me to sleep. I lay down and pretended that I was in deep sleep. In order to make sure that I was asleep he called out. Not having any response from me he felt free to take what liberties he liked with the sister. They quietly went into a cluster of trees near by. After some time they returned and when the time for the train drew near, he woke me up. I did not like this indecency between the Chairman and the sister. I recalled your 21 days\u2019 fast and the rea-sons which you had given for it. I took some of the co-workers into confidence. They tackled the Chairman, but he put on a bold front and not only denied the charge of indecency but charged me with jealousy and designs upon the Chairmanship of the local organi-zation. What am I to do in the circumstance ?

I have omitted unnecessary details from the letter. let not the reader try to guess the names of the actors and the scene of the tra- gedy. Idle curiosity should be avoided. I am drawing public atten-tion to my correspondent\u2019s letter to serve as a warning to all Harijan workers. Let us, therefore, examine it.

In the first instance, the correspondent did wrong in wishing to test his companions and exposing them to temptation. It is always a bad business to become detectives over co-workers; and if, without

1 The Gujarati original appeared inH a r i j a n b a n d h u , 8-10-1933.
2wishing it, we discover any moral or other lapses on their part, our

business should be not to gossip about them, but immediately to draw, in a gentle manner, the companions\u2019 attention to them. Had my correspondent, when he first scented danger, put the Chairman on his guard, he would have saved him from the lapse, assuming, of course, that the correspondent has given a true version of the tragedy. But, instead of taking the straight course, he adopted the crooked course of testing the couple. We are all fallible human beings ever exposed to temptations. Fortunately for us, \u2018there\u2019s many a slip \u2019twixt the cup and the lip\u2019. Very few are saved from succumbing to temptations, if there is no external interruption. There is no certainty that the corres- pondent himself, exposed to the same temptation, might not have fallen as the Chairman is said by him to have fallen. Indeed, had he been a little thoughtful, a little considerate towards his companions, he could have prevented their complete fall, by giving up the pretence of sleeping and gently pulling them up. I know cases in which such warnings have proved the saving of people. Thus, it seems to me that this Harijan worker signally failed in his duty towards his friends and fellow-workers. He has, however, asked the question, what he could do. I do not propose to answer the question from his standpoint. Evi- dently he is anxious to know, not how the parties can be brought to repentance, but how they can be exposed, and the charges against him disproved. It is none of his business to expose his companions, as it was none of his business to tempt them to fall but his business now is undoubtedly to give a private notice to the chairman that he would have to undertake a fast till the Chairman confesses his guilt, or if that is beyond his capacity, to undertake a fairly prolonged fast, so as to bring home the guilt to the parties. Such a fast cannot be taken publicly. It is highly likely that the Chairman and the sister will realize the grievousness of their guilt, but it is not at all unlikely that they might harden their hearts and ignore the fast. That ought not to be a matter of any concern for my correspondent. He will have done his penance for having made himself a detective over his friend and it will be some relief to him from the oppression of the charge brought against him of jealousy and ambition to become the Chairman of the local Seva Sangh. It is hardly necessary to emphasize the obvious truth that the fast, if it is at all taken, should be taken only if the Harijan worker believes in its necessity and efficacy and if he can take it with a clean heart.

It may be that the parties charged by my correspondent have
VOL. 62 : 8 OCTOBER, 1933 - 17 JANUARY, 1934

not erred. Let us hope that they have not. But I know that such errors have occurred before now. Let the incident described here serve as a warning to all workers. It furnishes, in my opinion, a clear case for fasting. Harijan service is no sinecure; it is a movement for bringing about a revolutionary change in the mentality of millions of human beings. It is like walking on the edge of a sword and, therefore, requires the greatest vigilance over self on the part of the workers.

Harijan,2 7 - 1 0 - 1 9 3 3
October 8, 1933

This selection2 ofshlokas for theG i t a p r a v e s h i k a was made last year (1932) in Yeravda Mandir. My third son Ramdas was in the same jail. The authorities permitted me to meet or write to him occasionally. Ramadas used to read theGita but could not understand it fully. Ramdas does not lackb h a k t i b h a v a3; he has thes h r a d d h a4 too. I selected simple and devotional verses from theGita and sent them over to him so as to help him. Ramdas liked the collection. I further encouraged him by calling the selection \u201cRamagita\u201d5.

Baba Raghavdas6 happened to see the collection when it was with Kakasaheb; he went through it and felt it would prove useful to Harijan workers. With that in view he asked for my permission to haveit published. Being no pundit myself I could not decide if the collection was worthy of publication. Sjt. Vinoba, Kakasaheb and Balakrishna7 of the Ashram were all here. All the three are devoted students of theGita. I told the Baba that I had no objection to the collection being published provided the three Ashram inmates

1 The original in Hindi, published with the text by the Calcutta Shuddha Khadi
Bhandar, is not available.
2 In the following order : VI. 5, 6, 14, 29 to 32 and 47; VII. 7 and 10; VIII. 14;
IX. 22, 26, 27, 29 to 31, and 34; X. 8 to 10; XI. 53 to 55; XII. 15; XIII. 27; XVIII.
46, 61, 62, 66, 78; XI. 15, 16, 18 to 20, 38 to 40, 43 and 44
3 Attitude of devotion
4F a i t h
5Vide \u201cLetter to Ramdas Gandhi\u201d, 7-11-1932
6 Akisan leader of U.P.
7 Vinoba Bhave\u2019s younger brother

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