World War II,

by: Roger Weir

World War II
The Final Course of Prison Schooling, Gandhi's Mature Thoughts

Gandhi
Presentation 8 of 13

Word War II: The Final Course of Prison Schooling; Gandhi's Mature Thoughts
Presented by Roger Weir
Thursday, August 25, 1983

Transcript:

The date is August 25th, 1983. This is the eighth lecture in a series of lectures but Roger Weir on Gandhi. Tonight's lecture is entitled: World War II: The Final Course of Prison Schooling; Gandhi's Mature Thoughts.

We've been following a difficult course of events. I think those that have been coming continuously have realize now that we have quite a startling picture of what actually occurred in the world about 45 years ago. And I expect by now if you've been following - as I know a great many of you have quite closely - that the events that are usually portrayed in a sophomoric sentimental fashion do not come anywhere near characterizing the actuality. And that the actual events pose for us a historical mystery in a sense that only in later times, in periods of great reflection by masterful figures was it able to understand what had happened. And so, it's difficult without the six- or seven-weeks preparation that I've given you to form some just appraisal of this momentous change in human history. We, of course, in our popular mythology, seize upon quite rightly, the Second World War as one of the great watersheds in history. It is apparent, increasingly as decades go on and generations are now too since the event that the Second World War was qualitatively different as opposed to the other wars that we have seen in history. That it qualifies along with the great Peloponnesian War, Trojan War as a cultural watershed for many, many peoples. In fact, there is hardly an area of the planet that was not affected at the time. Part of the popular understanding of this momentous event is an intuitive sensitivity towards events whose characterization is so difficult, so precarious, to characterize with great effectiveness, and yet the general populous has sensed somehow. But the focus has always been upon the violent actions in the Second World War. Upon the soldiers, the battles, the combatants, but actually, as we'll see, that the whole sweep of human history was brought to bear upon one person in October of 1940. And at that time Gandhi was able to bring forth the perfect satyagrahi and his participation in world events, although seemingly small at the time, as we will see for increasingly the rest of the course would prove to be a watershed indeed. Visually just to characterize for you, Gandhi had worked with a triangular shape of understanding based upon truth and non-violence, or as he would have it: satyagraha, truth-grasping, and ahimsa, non-violence, joined together with a vow of chastity, called brahmacharya. And these three elements that form a stable triadic base of all of his operations. He transformed this triangle into a new presentation in the summer and the autumn of 1940. And we'll see those events leading up to it. So that the shape of Gandhian activity after October 17th, 1940 was no longer a triangle, but instead was focused upon the line between ahimsa and satyagraha. And the fact that sarvodaya, the just society is a wholeness structure which allows for this line of continuity to be manifested, taught, and developed. So that the shape of Gandhian activity moves from the triangle to the circle of wholeness of the perfect society to come. And the line moving through it, the line of integrity, moving from the inner part of man outer part of its expression.

I think in order to understand this we need to have, for five minutes, a background of just what constitutes an ethical action, because this is so often misunderstood that its best to clear the air tonight at this time in order to put ourselves somewhat in a perspective of what Gandhi was looking towards in the autumn of 1940. If you ask someone about morality or ethics, quite often today - in fact, I heard just last night - many intelligent people say that this comes from the cultural mores that we have; it is what we are taught to do; it is the feeling of doing right; it has many kinds of definitions, many of them variable. In fact, we are to take it that the more learned we are in human society the more variable morals are in terms of their codification. This is a misstatement. This is in fact extraneous to what morality is all about. Morality is actually a law. It is a universal law. It is a law like gravitation. It is a law like the forces that bind the phenomenal universe together. That is to say, there are actions which bring a retribution. There are actions which engender a sympathy. There are certain ways of adjusting ourselves to the moral law, to the perception of it, where we attune ourselves to this integrity. The choice to attune ourselves to the integrity of the moral law of the universe is what an ethic is. The way in which you do it varies from culture to culture and time to time, but the primordial thrust of an ethic never changes. It always involves the personal ascent of a human being to agree to move their life and their intelligence in accord with what they can understand of the moral law. So, the ethical aspect always involves a decision, a personal decision, an individual decision and its genesis comes from a perception, finally, at long last that the universe has in fact a moral law operating in it.

One of the classic presentations of this realization occurs in Tolstoy's War and Peace where Prince Bezukhov in the march of the prisoners under Napoleon; the Russians being marched out of Russia; and while the French soldiers are dying in the snow from hunger and starvation; and the Russian prisoners are dying of starvation. Prince Bezukhov, in looking up night after night seeing the pattern of the stars remaining the same and all of this travail, everything that has happened to him, he suddenly - in the tears welling up in the frozen night - realizes that there is an order that is there every day and that man participates exactly and precisely in that order. And that if he transgresses it, he suffers. If he does not transgress it, he moves forward in consonance with the universe increasingly. So that ethic is not just something off the cuff, but is an exact individual choice to go out from oneself, an ascent to cooperate, to participate in a moral structure. The fact that the moral structure of the universe is difficult to sense in a materialistic society, or in a chaotic period of history, or in an environment where improper education has habituated us to skewed images and tangential ideas, has nothing whatever to do with the primary fact that the integrity of the moral law is perceptible by all peoples at all times. And in this sense, it is immutable. It is a law.

Now for someone like Gandhi, as we have seen, who was a masterful yogi - very, very high-quality yogi. But whose field of meditation was the social arena, not his mind, not his own chakra system, but the integrity of the whole of India and eventually the whole of mankind - this was his arena. For him the perception of the moral law was one of the primordial tasks of his life. That is to say not only to try and sense and feel by the still small inner voice within him, where it was in terms of his action. But then to take that perception, that grabbing on to the moment of insight on the moral law, and to open it up and make it public so that hundreds of millions of people could also see through him, through the transparency of his honesty, where in fact at least at this stage and in this person we had gotten to as a species. And as he said, several times, when people brought up to him the fact that man apparently had been descended from brutish creatures. He said it's all the more proof that we have a different destiny before us since we have evolved from them. Man has a royal glorious destiny to manifest truth. And the truth is the total structure of the moral law in respect to his capacities whatever they might be. So that man should develop his capacities to the fullest, but that that was always to be in consonance with a perception of the fullness of the moral law.

In the early part of his life, in the middle part of his life, he was stuck on the fact that the vow of chastity, brahmacharya, was the finger place to hold where the moral law could be found. In 1940 he lifted that finger and no longer pointed at the brahmacharya as being the center. But opened the whole hand and with it described the entire constructive program of societies. In other words, the individual purification of the person was transformed into the understanding that the true basis of truth and non-violence now needs to be in the perfection of society as a whole. Not so much in its progress towards mechanical or technological complication, but in its integration in terms of the wholeness of all of man's energies in consonance with the unbroken keeping of the moral law. So that quite frequently in 39, in 1940, Gandhi was alluding in his speeches to turns dealing with continuity because for him the primordial movement was from the inside of one person to the outer realm of all persons. And that this was the line of integrity that ahimsa and satyagraha represented in their flow. And that they would be visible in the wholeness of that movement and the integrity of that duration only when there was a spotlight society-wide for man to focus upon that continuity. In order to give a clue to that momentous happening, he searched among those individuals that he had trained for twenty years or more, to try to find those individuals, however few they might be, who could individually qualify to become prototypes for that spotlight. In other words, he was looking in those two years for a at least one representative among his people to be an example of the perfect moral man and he found him.

If you recall, Gandhi increasingly in the 30s found himself at odds not only with the British Empire, which was forever asserting its authority in various ways, but found himself at odds increasingly with his own people. A little bit of power goes a long way to disrupt the integrity of a group and as soon as the ugly head of authority and power raises itself there are all the complications that we would expect in a complicated sociological structure and with the Indian Congress as the British government began to feed them a little bit of responsibility - it may well be that the responsibility was portioned out to several factions, and in fact, we'll see that the Muslim League under Muhammad Ali Jinnah was in fact one of the power groups that was spawned in the mid 1930s to late 1930s group time period - but in fact, it was the universal phenomena of good men who had focused their goodness upon the exterior world, upon a set of conditions that they fought against, rather than focusing it upon the equilibrium of their own selves. In other words, they had viewed good action as a policy rather than as a yoga and that this was a fatal flaw because when you good actions only as a policy it becomes expedient upon change conditions to modify your policy. In fact, it becomes downright reasonable to do so. And we'll see increasingly that almost everyone under Gandhi modified themselves in 1939, 1940.

Two individuals stand out in this time period, other than Gandhi. One of them we saw last week which was Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the great leader in North-West Frontier Province - here's a photo of him in 1965. He lived on into the 1970s and was ignored, of course, most of his life. The other individual, Vinoba Bhave lived until September 1982 and was largely ignored also. Both of them figure prominently in our story.

Gandhi had gone several times to Ghaffar Khan's North-West Frontier Province. He had gone there because the people there, very tall warlike Pathans - P-A-T-H-A-N. The Pathans very large individuals on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. And in that hill country, which classically had been Gandhara, was the location of the great synthesis between Greek and Indian culture. But the Pathan people had over the millennia degenerated into a condition that many mountain people get into. We may think immediately in our own country of the Appalachian region. That is to say the vendetta of the family feud had become an endemic way of life. So that the Pathans very frequently were engaged in computing generations of revenge lists. Every time they went out to sip a cup of coffee or plow a field until it finally got a hold of them and they would plot to kill somebody because they had killed somebody who'd killed somebody who had killed somebody. And this was such a deadly circle of plotting that the whole region was frankly written off, even by most of the British regiments at the time. The only area there are well patrolled was the Khyber Pass. And in fact, the British troops who were in that area were largely assigned to a regiment called Skinner's Horse [1st Horse cavalry regiment]. Skinner's Horse wore bright canary yellow dress uniforms and I knew several old individuals who had been in Skinner's Horse and when they went back to India in 1972 for the anniversary of 25 years of not having been there, they were greeted with open arms and tears rolled down the faces of everyone in charge because there hadn't been any peace in the area since 1947. And they wanted the British to come back and organize it again. Nothing was working. Today in 1983 the region has a million refugees from Afghanistan. It has several millions of refugees from Pakistan's organ... state organization. And the region again is in somewhat chaotic terms. But in the late 1930s Ghaffar Khan, who was known as the frontier Gandhi as we saw last week, had organized the non-violent corps in that area called Khidmatgars - Khudai Khidmatgars, "the red shirts of peace." And these were Gandhian workers of the highest quality. And Gandhi several times in 1938 had gone there to this most warlike province of India, which was also advancing in the vanguard of non-violent social organizations. He went there to interview and be with Ghaffar Khan because he was searching at this time for individuals who had developed the sense of yogic integrity as opposed to those who were just taking a political ride on the bandwagon.

Now from 1920 to 1940 the Indian National Congress was actually a reflection of Gandhi's personality. He was like a political kingmaker in some regards. What he wanted or would insist upon would actually be done. But he was not a policy maker. He was a yogi. And the basis of his activity was always this religious perception of wholeness. And what he would look for were individuals or activities where it was actually taking root. He was like a wise parent who, looking over the realm of the children, is looking for those events and those characteristics which can grow. And he had found in Ghaffar Khan one of the prime prospects for what he had in mind coming up for the Second World War because it was quite apparent by late 1938, early 1939 that the world was in fact in a very precarious condition.

If you don't recall the exact facts, September 1st, 1939, Poland was invaded by Germany and the veil was off. But through the summer of 1939 it was apparent what was coming to happen. In fact, in July of 1939 Gandhi wrote personal letter to Adolf Hitler. And he said you are the only man who can stop the inevitable landslide that is looming about man. If you have any sense of sanity you will cease from this. No one has a right more than I, he wrote, to make this request for you. I have been working with non-violence through a long lifetime. You are about to plunge the world into savagery. Think twice, he said, whether whatever you would gain would be worth that price.

And what Gandhi meant was that the looming clouds of the Second World War we're an organization of man for terror. It was the utilization of all of man's capacities to structure, in a planned methodical way, the brutalization of others, the terror of others, for the self-aggrandizement of the few. So that the Second World War was not just the feeling of taking over more land, or the wish for a larger Empire, but was the application of the techniques of technology and science to the brutalization of others so that warfare could proceed on a more efficient course. And it was this aspect that Gandhi singled out in his July 23rd, 1939 letter to Hitler. It was of course totally ignored.

Gandhi had gone to the North-West Frontier Province then to begin, like a masterful hunter would begin. Sensing the enormity of the prey - the enormity of the situation - he went to an area which had affinity with the problem, but was an out-of-the-way place, so that he could begin to get a feel for what was happening in the world. And you have to understand here that he is seeing the world in terms of its wholeness. That there are no events that are happening by chance. That the entirety of the world at any one time is a whole pattern which could be seen and intuited in terms of the tone of its wholeness. And Gandhi was increasingly in the 30s, as we have seen, looking for this tone of wholeness. So, he was there and when he was there, he said,
Ever since my arrival in this province I have been trying to expound the doctrine of non-violence and all of its uncompromising completeness. Abating nothing, holding back nothing, I do not claim to have understood the meaning of non-violence in its entirety. What I have realized is only an insignificant fraction of the great whole. It is not given to imperfect man to grasp the whole meaning of non-violence or to practice it in full. That is an attribute of God alone. The supreme ruler who offers no second. But I have constantly and ceaselessly striven for over a half century to understand non-violence and to translate it into my own life.
And in fact, the record of his trip there, A Pilgrimage for Peace [by Pyarelal Nayar], contains as an appendix in the back the best ten or twenty page "Quintessence of Satyagraha" that Gandhi ever wrote. If you're looking for the last ultimate word that Gandhi had on satyagraha it is here in the appendix. It's called "Quintessence of Satyagraha" and these are excerpts from the speeches that he made at the time. And from this the supreme duty is by ahimsa, non-violence. Non-violence. Not in the sense of pacifism - that's thinking in terms of policymaking. He's saying it as a yogi, that ahimsa is a quality of a spirit vibration that is able to flow with integrity from the wholeness of one to the wholeness of all. And that that flow is what is called truth. And that if it flows freely and wholly from one to all then truth is manifest. Thus, the development of a society based upon truth means that it has to exfoliate and manifest from this spinal column of truth unfolding rather than from any imaginative ideational basis. In other words, the whole notion of planning by mind, of theorizing by structure, is a fatal flaw in history. That it is in fact the process which brings about the chaos. And that in fact the chaos is the dismemberment of the wholeness of life into categorical polarizations and separations and then the imaginative band-aids that we paste over these separations to try to bring them back together in some semblance of order. It is the allowing of this false order to be the background of intelligent planning for life that makes a mockery of man's capacities and in fact, dupes him constantly to fall for the illusion rather than the reality. It does not happen in the mind alone, but happens of course in the society at large because many persons operating under this delusion create in fact a false history. A false society. In fact, the very chaos we would seek to clarify.

Gandhi then talks often at this time of this golden bridging between the truthful person and he says again and again in his speeches, "If we could but find even one truthful person who would manifest in a clear way for us how to do anything right we would have the beginnings of the perception of truth and it would unfold almost inevitably, geometrically from that happening." He says,
Our problem is, we have nothing to go on. We are in fact searching in a great darkness. We are looking all the time at whether so-and-so's policy is going to agree with our policy. Whether such and such an authority is going to be able to hold the structure together. When in fact we're looking at the wrong issue all the time.
And in fact, the very looking towards the false objects for the clues of what to do, baits us into this false position. Where we can never discover that most primordial of beginnings, the integrity of the wholeness of ourselves. This, of course, very difficult to grasp when you believe in the value of things at stake. When there's money at stake, or position, or fame - items which seem so precious that they're worth almost any gamble. It sounds like childish garbage for someone to talk about integrities. In fact, it sounds like someone is just speaking of sentimentalities, speaking off the cuff. Out of touch with reality. And of course, Gandhi says in his speeches many times over that he is aware that many of those who are closest to him are making exactly these kinds of statements. And that he is understanding because he hears them quite clearly. Not only what they are saying, but he understands that quality of delusion from which they come.

With Ghaffar Khan, he invited him to participate in the Congress Working Committee of late 1939 and the Congress Working Committee was made up of all the powerful heads of the Indian political scene at the time. Nehru was there, Patel was there, Rajendra Prasad the first President of India was there - there were a dozen or so. Most of the big industrialists were there. They went to the very center of India - a little village named Wardha. If you recall, Gandhi had given his ashram on the Sabarmati River to the untouchables, to the harijans, "the children of God." And he had moved his own personal ashram to Wardha, and there at Wardha was all the experimentation that was going on about the constructive programs. The first constructive program had been khadi. The promoting of the spinning by hand of home-grown cotton so that clothing could be made and that this process of introducing a cottage industry into the ecology of daily life would seemed to be a primordial metaphor for the constructive program for the right way to go about setting up sarvodaya. And khadi eventually became, in 1940, the beginning vision of sarvodaya.

Now I have to tell you this because we're looking ahead a little bit. It took about eleven years - until 1951 - for the poignancy of these actions to finally occur to those who survived the assassination of Gandhi. For them to understand what had happened and what it was meant to be. It was such a mysterious unfolding at the time. You have to recall the world was trembling not only from the so-called "German menace," but in Asia a much more real menace of the Japanese. The Japanese had sent war ministers to confer with the Congress leaders by 1939, asking them to cooperate with a pan-Asiatic movement. Throw the Europeans out - Asia for Asians. And if the Congress would bring India into a tandem with Japan, Japan would supply the power. In other words, India could win their freedom in a matter of months by inviting the Japanese war machine in they would equip them and train them and in no time at all the British would be at a disadvantage. So, there was an enormous move both East and West to bring the sphere of war into India. And increasingly Gandhi began to understand that in an odd way, instead of being on the outskirts of the World War, India was increasingly the focus. Without the base of India for manpower, for an economic base, England was in a very precarious position. And in June of 1940 when France fell - surrendered themselves to the Nazi war machine - the reverberations through India were horrendous. Almost every other political leader said now is our chance. Without us England can't survive. India can take its freedom.

Gandhi alone seemed to understand that this would have been a betrayal. It would have won independence for India by taking it, but it would have been a betrayal of the delicate interaction that he had been working with for a lifetime of bringing into manifestation a way by which the common, average individual could come into a perception of universal religious truth and put it to work in his own life. That is to say, the basic problem had always been - there have been yogis since time immemorial - rishis, wise-men, sages of the highest caliber - sometimes they would teach man how to do things better: plant, tame, till, organize. But that there had not for a long time been the influx of universal energy into the life of every man. And that progressively through the centuries, and especially in India, the impoverished condition of the human spirit had finally become at the bottom of the heap. I think we would say. The dregs. And it was Gandhi working with this.

So that when they gathered together at Wardha and were having individuals speak, Abdul Ghaffar Khan made this observation publicly. It was in writing and the biographer found the manuscript and he gives us. Ghaffar Khan said,
If civil disobedience is confined to jail going many are prepared for this in the Frontier. But civil disobedience is not jail going only. Those who go to jail do not understand its significance. I doubt if we are worthy of the cause for which we want to fight. The little power that came to us revealed in true colors those whom we considered angels. It is astounding the amount of corruption I saw about me when we came to possess a little power. Civil disobedience is a dangerous thing unless we first create a set of men who will prove worthy of freedom when achieved. We must purify ourselves then purify the others.

So, the whole objection in Ghaffar Khan's estimation - very close to Gandhi's view at this time - was that men will never have a chance at wholeness until he is ready to receive it. Until there are human beings who are ready to practice it. Not as an almost unattainable ideal at the highest point of their capacity, maybe once in their lives, but as the bottom line what they're capable of doing day in and day out every day in their ordinary lives. This is to say, we must either all become super yogis or we must find some way to bring that wholeness, translate it down into the level where we live every day. In how we make our food, how we clothe ourselves, how we house ourselves, teach our children, take care of each other. There must be a way to gear down from the universal levels, the jet-streams of yogic perception and aspiration, of bringing that down to serve man where he is in his daily millions. And that this was a problem. And it was being faced seriously at this time in India by less individuals than we could count on our fingers.

When Ghaffar Khan made this observation, Gandhi talked to the Working Committee and he made an interesting observation. He said,
I have been oppressed all the time by the fact that I now represent totally different mentality from that of the Working Committee. When I asked for absolution it was not a formal thing. My article in the Harijan publication is the true picture of my mind. I put the same thing to the Viceroy. I told him that this was the last interview. He should send for the president of Congress if he has an offer on behalf of the Congress. I think in the course of days he will invite the president. It is the most difficult job for me to give a decisive opinion on these matters. I would much rather that you left me alone.

In other words, he was tearing up [tearing sounds; tears up a piece of paper] the situation that had obtained for 20 years between himself and Congress. He was saying to them, you have come to a position where you're beginning to taste power. And those of us who in the integrity of our perception have seen it you are falling by the wayside as fast as any of the others ever did. Any of the British Viceroys. Any of the persons from the East India Company. You're becoming like them. And in fact, without saying it, he said,
Granting the implications that I have drawn from the last resolution you cannot possibly escape its logical conclusion. You want to seize power. You will have to surrender certain things in order to get it. You will have to be like other parties. You will be driven into their ways. Maybe you will be an advanced party. This picture repels me. I don't believe in the expression seizure of power. There is no such thing as seizure of power.

In other words, this whole power politics, authoritarian, policy-making level of human life is a fiction. And to believe in it as a basis of individual choice forestalls ever having a sense of ethic whatsoever, or forestalls permanently seals you off from the possibilities of participating in the moral energies of the universe. One has to go from lie to lie to lie indefinitely in this kind of condition. So, he says, "I don't believe in the expression seizure of power. There is no such thing as seizure of power." ...

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END OF SIDE 1

...in other words, this whole power politics, authoritarian, policymaking level of human life is a fiction. And to believe in it as a basis of individual choice forestalls ever having a sense of ethic whatsoever. Or forestalls permanently, seals you off from the possibilities of participating in the moral energies of the universe. One has to go from lie to lie to lie indefinitely in this kind of condition. So, he says, "I don't believe in the expression seizure of power. There is no such thing as seizure of power. I have no power, save that which resides in the people, I am a mere representative of the power in the people." And as he went on to explain he said, "The problem is even so poignant as that facing Britain now. They are facing an invasion from Nazi Germany." And he says, "I am saying to them to lay down their arms. Not to give up the integrity and the dignity of their souls." And he says, "I am being constantly criticized as being an old man out of touch with reality for even making such a suggestion. But he says, "the only real alternative is for Britain to progressively adopt the ways of those who oppose them now in order to oppose them. And that eventually in the course of time they will become just like them." And he says, "The problem before the whole world today is seemingly the choice, the bait laid before them. Take up power, seize power. Take up arms to protect yourself." And he says, this is an endless way because you will progressively seal yourself off from any touch of the qualities like ahimsa, satyagraha and the truth and nonviolent core of life. So that one of the powerful individuals, a man named Rajagopalachari from Madras. Sort of balding head, royal toga like bearing, wealthy man called Rajaji he said, "You have missed the point Gandhi. The problem we are facing is how to run the state not how to mount power. While you what you have said comes to this, we remain Brahmins and let the Kshatriyas rule." Gandhi placed then before the committee a draft embodying his views. Nehru says, "It sounds ridiculous for the Working Committee to associate itself with the appeal made by Gandhiji. I can understand Gandhiji issuing such an appeal. I have however no doubt that the appeal will fall flat on Englishmen. They simply will not be able to understand it. To their mind the appeal will be a source of strength to Hitler. I agree with the Paris clarifying our position about independence and the resumption of ministerial offices."

And again, and again all the powerful voices. The individuals who had been raised for 20 years by Gandhi showed that they did not understand the yogic position as opposed to the policy position. They were all opting for authoritarianism rather than the integrity of the spiritual wholeness. All except for the Frontier Gandhi and one other individual who is not even present at the meetings but was in the village.

Pavnar is a little community about five miles outside of Wardha. And it in fact is in the geographical center of India. And if you recall about four lectures ago, five lectures ago, there was a young Brahmin, about 20 years of age had come to see Gandhi. And Gandhi had had a long conversation with him. His name was Vinoba Bhave. And Gandhi had said you are a giant, but you have no experience in the world. I want you to go out and spend a year like I spent a year and then come back. And exactly on the day to the hour Vinoba had come back and wandered in. And then Gandhi calling him Bhima. Bhima is a great warrior character from the Mahabharata. He said I want you to go to the center of India and I want you to set up an ashram and stay there. And when I am ready for you, I will call. And so Vinoba had gone in 1921 to the very center of India. There were just mud huts. Population of maybe 50 people. More animals than people. And he had nothing to do except to try and follow and make some way. So, he began to study and he began to live like a villager and after some years, he had actually a couple of mud huts in the area and he became a teacher. And then in order to develop himself he had begun to learn, e begun to learn the primordial quality of languages. And then he got curious about whether other parts of India actually thought in different ways. So, he learned Hindustani and Marathi and Madrasan, of course, Sanskrit and Pali. Then he got curious about the Muslims so he learned Arabic. He had learned English and he got curious about the French and learned that. And learned German and Spanish. And then he got curious about the Chinese and the Japanese.

And in 1940 when Gandhi was looking for the perfect satyagrahi. When he'd seen all of history funneling into the spectacle of trying to isolate one good man in the world to do it right. He looked at the center of India in his mind and he saw Vinoba who had been there for twenty years waiting. He said you're my man. You're my main man. You are going to step out on the stage of history, because you have absolutely no stake in policy. You've never had a voice in any of the operations of Congress. There is no one who knows anything about you, except me, but you represent for me the honest man with the greatest capacity of anyone that I am able to choose. Therefore, he said,
I want you on October 17th, 1940 to walk out of your village on foot. And I want you to go to the next villages and I want you to be the first and only satyagrahi against the Second World War. I want you to speak out for men's integrity, for the insanity of all wars and see how far you get.
And on the 17th of October he walked out of Pavnar and walked into Wardha and delivered an anti-war speech. He walked on, and I think he covered three or four villages that day and the next day and on the third day he was arrested. Everyone had been told not to cover or publicize Vinoba. The British had laid down the rule that if any publication covered what Vinoba was doing they would be suspended and fined and in prison. And in fact, Gandhi wrote an editorial in Harijan for that issue and he said, "I am told that I may no longer speak to the exact issue of truth therefore I shall not speak again until the conditions are lifted." And Harijan ceased. The only real publication that covered it was Ghaffar Khan's newspaper called Pax?t?n [Pashtun]. And the next day they were shut down. But instead of arresting Ghaffar Khan - because there was some eerie sense that some massive transfer of energy was going on - Ghaffar Khan was simply driven home rather than put in prison. Vinoba was in prison for three months. And as soon as they let him out, he started in again they put him back in. The second satyagrahi was to be Nehru but the British arrested him about a week before he was to start - that would have been November 7th. He was arrested on Halloween night, October 31st. Eventually more than 25,000 individuals were arrested, but the peculiar quality of this was that Gandhi was picking individual by individual. And that the satyagraha launched against the Second World War was his masterful way, as a great composer of social yogic action on an epic scale, of showing that only if we move individual by individual does it count. That there is no such thing really as a mass movement where the individual does not participate. That's already an illusion. A march for peace even with the best intentions without there being individuals in each case is foolishness. It just obscures the issue. It exhausts the ammunition of the war for peace. As William James had written in his little booklet of 1917 [The Moral Equivalent of War, 1910], man must find a moral equivalent for war. And only by working as hard for peace as he does for war will we have peace. That is no way to fool ourselves. We have manifest for our lives exactly what we have worked for. And therefore, we have to take the psychological integrity of the cook. We have to figure out what recipe we want. And we have to follow that recipe, because if you're adding carrots and peas, you're not going to get an omelet. There's no way to do it. And there's no amount of complaining that's going to change it. But if you take eggs and then you add something else you may have a chance to get an omelet. So, you have to follow the recipe. And the recipe that Gandhi was talking about was the yogic integrity of the individual to manifest from the wholeness of himself out to the all a sense of the truth of a situation. Whatever that situation might be. Gandhi therefore said in a speech. He said,
The internal dissensions are a small thing. I have not concentrated sufficiently on them. If you cannot come to a decision about external aggression you cannot come to a decision about internal dissensions. The external and the internal are part of a continuum. And aggression and dissension are linked indissolubly.
"My mind," he says, "does not make a vital distinction between the two. I have deliberately put in the resolution the expression, open mind." Open mind.
You have said that we can mount to power by non-violent means but you doubt the ability to retain and consolidate it except through an army. The little police force that I have in mind, will not be sufficient to cope with big disorders. And unless we have as a nation sufficient non-violence in us, or in other words, we apply non-violence to politics. The technique of non-violence is different from that of violence. We shut our eyes to the fact that our control on the masses over even our registered congressmen is ineffective. The negative response is there. In positive...in positive response both fail. It is not our fault exactly. Millions are concerned. Even a military program could not have been completed in twenty years. We must therefore be patient. If the masses have won independence by non-violence, then they can also retain it by non-violence.

And he was beginning to see then, in 1940, an observation which it would come to the Vinoba's mind some eleven years later, that what they were dealing with here was a time-scale that was beginning to transcend the individual human life, because they had all set themselves a timetable underneath subconsciously that their time would come. And so, there was a bait of authority, there was a bait of power, always implicit in most of the minds of the individuals in the 20s and 30s. So that, Gandhi would have to go back to the Gita and reiterate again that the only way to have this open mind is for man to reject forever the fruits of action. To set aside any consideration that would ever happen in his lifetime, that he would ever be able to participate in it, and just do the action with as much equanimity as possible. Only then without the bait of the carrot and the stick could he have a chance for equanimity and have a chance then to have the vibrant current of truth flashed through the pattern of wholeness of human life. And this of course, in 1940, was almost invisible.

Well we'll take a little break. I'll be down on the street corner selling my tapes.

[Break]

Because we've been developing the moving developmental core, which is almost never given - almost never been alluded to in this country; we get watered-down versions and partial versions - we've had to stress the real hard-working core of the Gandhian vision. But I think you need also to have the feeling that of the man. Louis Fischer, who was a very famous journalist in 30s and 40s - whose great book, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi came out in 1950. Fischer's written biographies of Lenin and various other individuals. Journalists, especially worldwide correspondents, are noted for their, their jaded capacity to just wade through almost anything, and in 1942 he visited Gandhi for a week. He spent a week in the center of India and he was overcome by the kindness that was radiated out from Gandhi. And he said he had understood the greatness of the man in many ways but he had never appreciated the magnetic qualities of his personality, the way in which just being around him mellowed the world, that persons were so relaxed. There were children and animals everywhere. There were people doing the most menial tasks next to people taking notes on the most momentous of occasions. And Gandhi was just moving in and among all these people in all these levels with perfect equanimity. If you've seen the film, Gandhi, they sometimes show him interrupting himself talking with the Congress leaders to go and help a child milk a goat - that sort of quality. And Fischer said that the only other figure in history he could think of that had this kind of spiritual gaiety was Saint Francis of Assisi. The quality of being able to project, in the daily rush of life, this most gentle presence of care and the quality of kindliness. So that he said, whenever you would see Gandhi in action you were almost drawn to the fact that he was like everybody's favorite grandfather or great uncle. He was somebody that you knew, and you could trust him. You knew all about him. You've seen this kind of guy before. He's good as gold and his word is pure. And he has a description- he in fact wrote a book - I have it, I don't have it here - called A Week with Gandhi. But he has a description in his A Week with Gandhi, of a little evening dinner and a conversation. And it's interesting just to review a little bit of that ambience for our edification.

"Gandhi sat down on a cushion by the entrance. At his left was Kasturba [Gandhi] and as on his right was [Acharya] Narendra Dev, an Indian socialist leader whom the Mahatma had undertaken to cure of asthma." He was always experimenting. He was a tinkerer with health, not just with herbs, teas, and so forth but he was always trying to work on somebody. Let me work you. That sort of a character. And one of his favorite techniques was the cold earth cure. He'd get you out there with the animals in the mud and he pat mud all over you and put you out there to dry. And see that mud is drying on you and that contact with mother earth is bringing out all kinds of impurities. Then you go on a fast and you can put just a few things in yourself and then you come out there and Dr. Gandhi would work on you again. More mud, talking nice with you, laying on of hands with just mud and then drying you off, and so forth. So, here he took this socialist leader who was really a rabble rouser, but who had asthma and he was a human being. And so, Gandhi was working on it. So, there he is sitting at dinner. "There were about 30 diners. Several bright-eyed brown faced youngsters between the ages of 3 and 8 were opposite me," says Fischer. "Everyone had a thin straw mat under him and a brass tray in front of him on the ground. Male and female waiters, members of the ashram moved noiselessly on bare feet depositing food on the trays." That kind of low crouched wonderful choreography of many trays of food - you know all the side dishes and so forth - moving in and out. "A number of pots and pans were placed near Gandhi's legs. He handed me a bronze bowl filled with a vegetable mush in which I thought I'd discerned chopped spinach leaves and pieces of squash. A woman poured some salt on my tray and another gave me a metal tumbler with warm water and another with warm milk. Then she came back with two little boiled potatoes in their jackets and some soft flat wheat cakes baked brown. Gandhi handed me one hard paper-thin wheat cake from the metal container in front of him."

Now while all this is happening it's tremendously hot. It was a hundred and twenty degrees in the day. Fischer would take a shower and he would come out from the shower. And he said he would dry himself off and he would start to walk away and he'd realize he was soaked, sopping wet again. So, he'd think about it then he'd go back and take another shower. And he said he would do this and then he'd realized he'd done it about a half dozen times. He'd look out and way across the ashram they're walking along with the towel on his head was Gandhi talking with a whole rush of journalists and little children and everything. And he had been doing this all the time. And Fischer said one of the keys was that Gandhi was apparently able to work all the time. He just, whenever he was up, he was working. And of course, he got up at 2:30 in the morning. And he did all of his work until about 5:00 and then he would go into prayers. And then when everybody else would be ready they'd probably have something to eat around 6:30. So he had a full day before the sun came up.

So, then they're sitting there, in the evening. "A gong sounded. A robust man in white shorts stopped waiting on the trays to direct, closed his eyes leaving only a white slit open. And made him look blind. And started a high-pitched chant in which all others including Gandhi joined. The prayer ended with shanti, shanti, shanti." Peace, peace, peace.

So, what it was, was an old Upanishadic series of slokas that were chanted and what the man did of course is he went into a light Samadhi. So that he could chant it in the way in which the old time-honored rishis would give it. That is, it wasn't from them but they were making their body and their voice available to transmit the wisdom exact as it had been, through exact memory. If you've ever seen this or heard this, you - you know what I mean. It isn't that someone is chanting this for you. It is that the chant is coming through someone, but that the chant is ancient beyond compare. And so that's what was happening here.

So, then everyone started eating with their fingers. They say if you go above the first knuckle that you're clumsy. And if you get food above the second knuckle (laughter), it's kind of inexcusable. I once, at a dinner, made an improper pass at a bowl. And I had food above my wrist. I was a topic of conversation for a long time. And the hostess, a very distinguished Punjabi woman kept eyeing me, you know, ruining my dinner - Gross.

So, they're fishing out vegetable mush with the wheat cake folded in four. You know, you take the wheat cake and you fold it. And there are very dexterous motion, you know. Just like that and it's always going like that. And if you don't know how to do it, I mean everything goes wrong. So, here's Fischer, "Gandhi munched busily stopping only to serve his wife, Dev, and me." As he couldn't do very well so Gandhi's feeding him. "'You have lived in Russia for 14 years,' was his first political remark to me. 'What is your opinion of Stalin?'"

So, in the middle of all this, he asked him this. And he says,
I was very hot and my hands were sticky, and I'd commenced to discover my ankles and legs from sitting on them. So, I replied briefly. 'Very able and very ruthless.' 'As ruthless as Hitler', he asked. 'At least.' After a pause he turned to me and said, 'Have you seen the Viceroy?' I told them I had but dropped the subject. 'You can have all the water you want,' he told me.
Probably looking at his hands, right?

'We take care of that. It is boiled. And now [you must] eat your mango.' I began to peel it and several people, Gandhi too, laughed and he explained that they usually turned it in their hands and squeezed it to make it soft and then sucked on one end.

That is, you open it up on one end. Just sucking. You keep the skin together. So, you feed it into your mouth, you know. Like a tube or something like that. And here Fischer is peeling it and you know, the slipperiness of the mango. So, by this time everybody's watching it right. Look at him!

So, lunch was at 11:00 and dinner just before sundown.

Kurshed Naoroji, a member of the ashram and granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji, brought my breakfast, tea, biscuits, bread with honey and butter and mango to the mud-walled bamboo roofed guest hut where I lived.

This is in Wardha. This is in the center of India.

At lunch on the second day Gandhi handed me a tablespoon for the vegetable dish. He said the tablespoon was more commensurate with my size."

How dramatic.

He offered me a boiled onion from his pot. I asked for a raw one instead. It was a relief from the flat food of the menu. At lunch on the third day, Gandhi said, 'Fischer.'

He's on name basis now.

'Fischer give me your bowl and I will give you some of the vegetables.' I said I had eaten the mess of spinach and squash four times in two days and had no desire for more. 'You don't like vegetables,' he commented. 'I don't like the taste of these vegetables three days running,' said Fischer. 'Ah he explained. But you must add plenty of salt and lemon.' 'You want me to kill the taste,' I interpreted. 'No, he laughed. Enrich the taste.' 'You are so nonviolent you would not even kill a taste,' I said. 'If that were the only thing men killed, I wouldn't mind,' he remarked. I wiped the perspiration from my face and neck. 'Next time I'm in India...' Gandhi was chewing and seemed not to have heard me so I stopped. 'Yes,' he said, 'the next time you are in India you want to have air conditioning in Sevagram or live in the viceroy's palace. All right,' Gandhi acquiesced. He encouraged banter. One afternoon when I came to his hut for the daily interview he was not there. When he arrived he lay down in his bed. 'I will take your blows laying down,' he said. Inviting questions, a Muslim woman gave him a mud pack for his abdomen. 'This puts me in touch with my future,' he said. I did not comment. 'I see you missed that one,' he noted. I said I had not missed it but thought he was too young to think about returning to the dust. 'Why?' he declared, 'you and I and all of us, some in a hundred years but all sooner or later will do it.' On another occasion he quoted a statement he had made to Lord Sankey in London. 'Do you think,' he said, 'I would have reached this green old age if I hadn't taken care of myself. This is one of my faults.' I thought you were perfect, I ventured. He laughed. And the eight or ten members of the ashram who usually sat in the interview laughed. He asked me whether I objected to their presence. No, I declared. I'm very imperfect. Before you are gone you will have discovered a hundred of my faults. And if you don't, well I'll help you to see them. Usually the hours interview began with his finding the coolest place in the hut for me to sit down.

It was only about 110 you see.

Then with the smile he would say, 'now, blows.' As the hour was about to end, he would with unerring time sense look at his big dollar watch and proclaim, 'your hour is up.' He was minutely punctual. One day when I was leaving his hut after a talk he said 'go and sit in a tub.' I wondered whether this was the Indian equivalent of 'go sit on the tack,' but crossing the sunbaked hundred yards between Gandhi's hut and the guest hut the heat made the inside of my head feel dry, and then decided that sitting in the tub would perhaps be a very good idea. In fact, I thought I could improve upon it. Adjoining the one living room bedroom of the guest hut was a small water room with cement flooring which stood a variety of pots, pitchers, tubs, bowls. An old woman kept them filled with water. Six or seven times a day I would step into this bathtub, slip off the two pieces of clothing and sandals I wore, and take a standing splash bath with the aid of a cup. The worst ordeal of the day was typing the complete record of my conversations with Gandhi and others in the ashram and with Nehru who came two of the days that week. After five minutes I was tired and wet all over with perspiration.

After five minutes.

Stimulated by Gandhi's suggestion to sit in a tub, I placed a wooden packing case in one of the ten wash tubs filled it with water, put a folded Turkish towel on the packing case. Then set a somewhat larger wooden packing case just inside the tub, placed my portable typewriter on it. These arrangements made I sat down in the box on the tub and typed my notes. At intervals of a few minutes when I began to perspire I dipped a bronze bowl into the tub poured water over my neck back and legs and by that method I was able to type an entire hour with feeling exhausted. The innovation stirred the ashram to mirth.

Everybody's coming to see, right?

Queuing up Gandhi saw to that. He made eyes that little children and provoked adults to laughter and joked with all and sundry visitors. So, then I asked Gandhi if he would be photographed with me. 'If a photographer is around by accident,' he replied, 'I have no objection to being seen with you.' That I said is the biggest compliment you have paid me. 'Do you want compliments?' He asked. Don't we all? 'Oh yes,' Gandhi agreed, 'but sometimes we have to pay too dearly for them.'

Then he goes on to give this wonderful picture of just the kind of camaraderie which Gandhi was able to encourage just in the daily basis. And really that whole aspect of Gandhi needs to be seen because all of this, this description comes in 1942. Let's see. He was 73 years old and he had gone through all of these vicissitudes. He had been pounded and chopped up and diced in every way possible and he was still fluid like this. So that the picture that we need to see is that, in a large-scale strategic way, Gandhi was a masterful yogi centering on the very essence of the problem of gearing down universal aspiration, not power so much, but universal aspiration to wholeness. So that it could come down to where anybody could get it in their daily life and make use of it in their own way, right then and there. And the other side was this elfish, impish, sense of everybody's best friend. Of creating that sense of camaraderie that would float it for 80 years through the whole situation.

Well, we'll take one more look at Gandhi next week. We'll see the situation, the last year of Gandhi's life, and then the last four weeks of the course, we'll take a look at Vinoba Bhave because all this time the Vinoba was being prepared. Prepared and prepared. And Gandhi increasingly, seeing him as the person for whom he could invest the future, but in typical Gandhi teaching tactics, as a yogi master often would do, he would not tell his best student that he was passing the baton on to him. He would leave him to discover that. It's very much like the way in which Milarepa passed the Kagyu Vajrayana technique onto Gampopa, who three or four years after the death of Milarepa was wondering why he hadn't asked his teacher certain things and all the lost chances and suddenly he came to and he looked around him and there was a university with about two, three thousand students that he was the head of and he realized that he had been passed the baton all that time and had the responsibility and was just doing it. But that it was passed in a way that didn't register as an object in the mind. And the same thing we'll see with Vinoba. That it wasn't until three years after Gandhi died that he realized the mystery of the last year of Gandhi's life had been a teaching tool - a drama, a high drama - to indicate the future the way to go about it. So, we'll see the drama next week. And then the week after we'll see how Vinoba finally understood it and what he did with it. And of course, we don't read about it in the papers but there are about a hundred million people in India living under Gandhian type democracy all because of Vinoba and we'll get a real good look at that.

Thanks very much.

END OF RECORDING


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