Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

Many of us however were too much under his influence

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Many of us, however, were too much under his influence in political and other matters to remain wholly immune even in the sphere of religion. Where a direct attack might not have succeeded, many an indirect approach went a long way to undermine the defenses. The outward ways of religion did not appeal to me, and above all I disliked the exploitation of the people by the so-called men of religion, but still I toned down toward it. I came nearer to a religious frame of mind in 1921 than at any other time since my early boyhood. Even so I did not come very near. What I admired was the moral and ethical side of our movement and of Satyagraha. I did not give an absolute allegiance to the doctrine of nonviolence or accept it forever, but it attracted me more and more, and the belief grew upon me that, situated as we were in India and with our background and traditions, it was the right policy for us. The spiritualization of politics, using the word not in its narrow reli gious sense, seemed to me a fine idea. A worthy end should have worthy means leading up to it. That seemed not only a good ethical doctrine but sound, practical politics, for the means that are not good often defeat the end in view and raise new problems and difficulties.
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And then it seemed so unbecoming, so degrading to the self-respect of an individual or a nation to submit to such means, to go through the mire. How can one escape being sullied by it? How can we march ahead swiftly and with dignity if we stoop or crawl? Such were my thoughts then. And the nonco-operation movement offered me what I wanted the goal of national freedom and (as I thought) the ending of the exploitation of the underdog, and the means which satisfied my moral sense and gave me a sense of personal free dom. So great was this personal satisfaction that even a possibility of failure did not count for much, for such failure could only be tem porary. I did not understand or feel drawn to the metaphysical part of the Bhagavad Gita, but I liked to read the verses recited every eve ning in Gandhij i's ashrama prayers which say what a man should be like: Calm of purpose, serene and unmoved, doing his job and not caring overmuch for the result of his action. Not being very calm or detached myself, I suppose, this ideal appealed to me all the more. XIII FIRST IMPRISONMENT NINETEEN TWENTY-ONE was an extraordinary year for us. There was a strange mixture of nationalism and politics and religion and mysti cism and fanaticism. Behind all this was agrarian trouble and, in the big cities, a rising working-class movement. Nationalism and a vague but intense countrywide idealism sought to bring together all these various, and sometimes mutually contradictory, discontents, and suc ceeded to a remarkable degree.
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