Nehru - Toward Freedom (1936).pdf

We got on well together during his year of office

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We got on well together during his year of office, though we had many little points of difference. I introduced in the office of the All- India Congress Committee a practice of addressing all our members by their names only, without any prefixes or suffixes, honorific titles and the like. There are so many of these in India Mahatma, Maulana, Pandit, Shaikh, Syed, Munshi, Moulvi, and latterly Sriyt and Shri, and, of course, Mr. and Esquire and they are so abundantly and often un necessarily used that I wanted to set a good example. But I was not to have my way. Mohamad Ali sent me a frantic telegram directing me "as president" to revert to our old practice and, in particular, always to address Gandhiji as Mahatma. Another frequent subject for argument between us was the Al mighty. Mohamad Ali had an extraordinary way of bringing in some 104
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reference to God even in Congress resolutions, either by way of ex pressing gratitude or some kind of prayer. I used to protest, and then he would shout at me for my irreligion. And yet, curiously enough, he would tell me later that he was quite sure that I was fundamentally religious, in spite of my superficial behavior or my declarations to the contrary. I have often wondered how much truth there was in his state ment. Perhaps it depends on what is meant by religion and religious. I avoided discussing this subject of religion with him, because I knew we would only irritate each other, and I might hurt him. It is always a difficult subject to discuss with convinced believers of any creed. With most Moslems it is probably an even harder matter for discussion, since no latitude of thought is officially permitted to them. Ideologically, theirs is a straight and narrow path, and the believer must not swerve to the right or the left. Hindus are somewhat different, though not al ways so. In practice they may be very orthodox; they may, and do, in dulge in the most out-of-date, reactionary, and even pernicious customs, and yet they will usually be prepared to discuss the most radical ideas about religion. I imagine the modern Arya Samajists have not, as a rule, this wide intellectual approach. Like the Moslems, they follow their own straight and narrow path. There is a certain philosophical tradition among the intelligent Hindus, which, though it does not affect practice, does make a difference to the ideological approach to a religious question. Partly, I suppose, this is due to the wide and often conflicting variety of opinions and customs that are included in the Hindu fold. It has, indeed, often been remarked that Hinduism is hardly a religion in the usual sense of the word. And yet, what amaz ing tenacity it has got, what tremendous power of survival! One may even be a professing atheist as the old Hindu philosopher, Charvaka, wasand yet no one dares say that he has ceased to be a Hindu.
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