Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

Xlvii paradoxes people who do not know gandhiji

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XLVII PARADOXES PEOPLE WHO DO not know Gandhiji personally and have only read his writings are apt to think that he is a priestly type, extremely puritani cal, long-faced, Calvinistic, and a kill-joy, something like the "priests in black gowns walking their rounds." But his writings do him an injustice; he is far greater than what he writes, and it is not quite fair to quote what he has written and criticize it. He is the very opposite of the Calvinistic priestly type. His smile is delightful, his laughter infectious, and he radiates light-heartedness. There is something child like about him which is full of charm. When he enters a room, he brings a breath of fresh air with him which lightens the atmosphere. He is an extraordinary paradox. I suppose all outstanding men are so to some extent. For years I have puzzled over this problem: why with all his love and solicitude for the underdog he yet supports a sys tem which inevitably produces it and crushes it; why with all his pas sion for nonviolence he is in favor of a political and social structure which is wholly based on violence and coercion ? Perhaps it is not cor rect to say that he is in favor of such a system; he is more or less of a philosophical anarchist. But, as the ideal anarchist state is too far off still and cannot easily be conceived, he accepts the present order. It is not, I think, a question of means, that he objects, as he does, to the use of violence in bringing about a change. Quite apart from the methods to be adopted for changing the existing order, an ideal objective can be envisaged, something that is possible of achievement in the not-dis tant future. Sometimes he calls himself a socialist, but he uses the word in a sense peculiar to himself which has little or nothing to do with the economic framework of society which usually goes by the name of socialism. Following his lead, a number of prominent Congressmen have taken to the use of that word, meaning thereby a kind of mud dled humanitarianism. I know that Gandhiji is not ignorant of the 318
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subject, for he has read many books on economics and socialism and even Marxism, and has discussed it with others. But I am becoming more and more convinced that in vital matters the mind by itself does not carry us far. Gandhi ji underwent a tremendous conversion during his early days in South Africa, and this shook him up greatly and altered his whole outlook on life. Since then he has had a fixed basis for all his ideas, and his mind is hardly an open mind. He listens with the greatest patience and attention to people who make new suggestions to him, but behind all his courteous interest one has the impression that one is addressing a closed door. He is so firmly anchored to some ideas that everything else seems unimportant.
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  • Fall '16
  • Alan Kolata

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