THE VILLAGE OF MY DREAMS: 2 LETTERS FROM GANDHI TO NEHRU
Gandhi, Nehru and Maulana Azad
The Citizen reproduces correspondence between Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1945, a few years before India gained independence. In the letters, Mahatma Gandhi expresses concern about differences between Nehru and himself in their ideas on India as an independent nation.
MK Gandhi to Jawaharlal Nehru
October 5, 1945
My dear Jawaharlal,
I, have been desirous of writing to you for many days but have not been able to do so before today. The question of whether I should write in English or Hindustani also entered my mind. I have at length preferred to write in Hindustani.
The first thing I want to write about is the difference in outlook between us. If the difference is fundamental then I feel the public should also be made aware of it. It would be detrimental to our work for Swaraj to keep them in the dark. I have said that I still stand by the system of Government envisaged in Hind Swaraj. These are not mere words. All the experience gained by me since 1908 when I wrote the booklet has confirmed truth of my belief. Therefore if I am left alone in it. I shall not mind, for I can only bear witness to the truth as I see it. I have not Hind Swaraj before me as I write. It is really better for me to dream the picture anew in my own words. And whether its the same as I drew in Hind Swaraj or not is immaterial for both you and me. It is not necessary to prove rightness of what I said then, It is essential only to know what I feel today. I am convinced that if India is to attain true freedom and through India the world also, then sooner or later the fact must be recognized that people will have to live in villages, not in towns, in huts not in palaces. Crores of people will never be able to live at peace with one another in towns and palaces. They will then have no recourse but to resort to both violence and untruth. I hold that without truth and non-violence there can be nothing but destruction for humanity. We can realize truth and nonviolence only in the simplicity of village life and this simplicity can best be found in the Charkha and all that the Charkha connotes. I must not fear if the world today is going the wrong way. It may be that India too will go that way and like the proverbial moth burn itself eventually in the flame round which it dances more and more furiously. But it is my burden to protect India and through India the entire world from such a doom. The essence of what I have said is that man should rest content with what are his real needs and become self- sufficient. If he does not have this control he cannot save himself. After all the world is made up of individuals just as it is the drops that constitute the ocean. I have said nothing new. This is a well-known truth.
But I do not think I have stated this in Hind Swaraj. While I admire modern science, I find that it is the old looked at in the true light of modern science which should be reclothed and refashioned aright. You must not imagine that i am envisaging our village life as it is today.
The village of my dreams is still in my mind. After all every man lives in the world of his dreams. My ideal village will contain intelligent human beings. They will not live in dirt and darkness as animals. Men and women will be free and able to hold their own against anyone in the world. There will be neither plague nor cholera nor small pox; no one will be idle, no one will wallow in luxury. Everyone will have to contribute his quota of manual labour. I do not want to draw a large scale picture in detail. It is possible to envisage railways, post and telegraph offices etc. For, me it is material to obtain the real article and the rest will fit into the picture afterwards. If I let go the real thing, all else goes.
On the last day of the working committee it was decided that this matter should be fully discussed and the position clarified after a two or three days' session. I should like this. But whether the working committee sits or not I want our position vis-à-vis each other to be clearly understood by us for two reasons. Firstly, the bond that unites us is not only political work. It is immeasurably deeper and quite unbreakable. Therefore it is that I earnestly desire that in the political field also should we understand each other clearly. Secondly neither of us thinks himself useless. We both live for the cause of India's freedom and we would both gladly die for it. We are not in need of the world's praise. Whether we get praise or blame is immaterial to us. There is no room for praise in this service. I want to live to 125 for the service of India but I must admit that I am now an old man. You are much younger in comparison and I have therefore named you as my heir. I must, however understand my heir and my heir should understand me. Then alone shall I be content.
One other thing. I asked you about joining the Kasturba Trust and the Hindustani Prachar Sabha. You said you would think over the matter and let me know. I find your name in the Hindustani Prachar Sabha. Nanavati reminded me that he had been to both you and Maulana Sahib in regard to this matter and obtained your signature in 1942. That, however is past history. You know the present position of Hindustani. If you are still true to tour signature I want to take work from you in this Sabha. There won't be much work and you will not have to travel for it.
The Kasturba Fund work is another matter. If what I have written above does not and will not go down with you I fear you will not be happy in the Trust and I shall understand.
The last thing I want to say to you is in regard to the controversy that has flared between you and Sarat Babu. It has pained me. I have really not grasped it. Is there anything more behind what you have said? If so you must tell me.
If you feel you should meet me to talk over what I have written we must arrange a meeting.
You are working hard. I hope you are well. I trust Indu too is fit.
MK Gandhi to Jawaharlal Nehru
November 13, 1945
My dear Jawaharlal,
Our talk of yesterday's made me glad. I am sorry it could not be longer. I feel it cannot be finished in a single sitting, but will necessitate frequent meetings between us. I am so constituted that, if only I were physically fit to run about, I would myself overtake you, wherever you might be, and return after a couple of days' heart to heart talk with you. I have done so before. It is necessary that we understand each other well and that others also should clearly understand where we stand. It would not matter if ultimately we might have to differ so long as we remained one at heart as we are today. The impression that I have gathered from our yesterday's talk is that there is not much difference in our outlook. To test this I put down below the gist of what I have understood. Please correct me if there is any discrepancy.
(1) The real question, according to you, is how to bring about man's highest intellectual, economic, political and moral development. I entirely agree.
(2) In this there should be an equal right and opportunity for all.
(3) In other words, there should be equality between town dwellers and the villagers in the standard of food and drink, clothing and other living conditions. In order to achieve this equality today people should be able to produce for themselves the necessaries of life i.e. clothing, food-stuffs, dwelling and lighting and water.
(4) Man is not born to live in isolation but is essentially a social animal independent and inter-dependent. No one can or should ride on another's back. If we try to work out the necessary conditions for such a life, we are forced to the conclusion that the unity of society should be a village, or call it a small and manageable group of people who would, in the ideal, be self-sufficient (in the matter if vital requirements) as a unit bound together in the bonds of mutual co-operation and inter-dependence.
If I find that so far I have understood you correctly, I shall take up consideration of the second part of the question in my next.
I had got Rajkumari to translate into English my first letter to you. It is still lying with me. I am enclosing for you an English translation of this. It will serve a double purpose. An English translation might enable me to explain myself more fully and clearly to you. Further, it will enable me to find out precisely if I have fully and correctly understood you.
Blessings for Indu.