IF INDIA takes up the doctrine of the sword, she may gain momentary victory. Then India will cease to be the pride of my heart. I am wedded to India because I owe my all to her. I believe absolutely that she has a mission for the world. She is not to copy Europe blindly. India’s acceptance of the doctrine of the sword will be the hour of my trial. I hope I shall not be found wanting. My religion has no geographical limits. If I have a living faith in it, it will transcend my love for India herself. My life is dedicated to service of India through the religion of nonviolence….
If India makes violence her creed, and I have survived, I would not care to live in India. She will cease to evoke any pride in me. My patriotism is subservient to my religion. I cling to India like a child to its mother’s breast because I feel that she gives me the spiritual nourishment I need. She has the environment that responds to my highest aspirations. When that faith is gone, I shall feel like an orphan without hope of ever finding a guardian.
This I know that, if India comes to her own demonstrably through nonviolent means, India will never want to carry a vast army, an equally grand navy and a grander air force. If her self-consciousness rises to the height necessary to give her a non-violent victory in her fight for freedom, the world values will have changed and most of the paraphernalia of war would be found to be useless. Such an India may be a mere day-dream, a childish folly. But such, in my opinion, is undoubtedly the implication of an India becoming free through nonviolence….Hers will be the voice of a powerful nation seeking to keep under restraint all the violent forces of the world.
What policy the National Government will adopt I cannot say. I may not even survive it much as I would love to. If I do, I would advise the adoption of nonviolence to the utmost extent possible and that will be India’s great contribution to the peace of the world and the establishment of a new world order. I expect that, with the existence of so many martial races in India, all of whom will have a voice in the government of the day, the national policy will incline towards militarism of a modified character. I shall certainly hope that all the effort…to show the efficacy of nonviolence as a political force will not have gone in vain and a strong party representing true non-violence will exist in the country.
Path of Militarization
What place will India have in the comity of nations? Will she be satisfied with being a fifth-rate power…? India will have long to wait before she can become a first-class military power. And for that she will have to go under the tutelage of some Western power.
….India will have to decide whether, attempting to become a military power, she would be content to become, at least for some years, a fifth-rate power in the world without a message…or whether she will, by further refining and continuing her nonviolent policy, prove herself worthy of being the first nation in the world using her hard-won freedom for the delivery of the earth from the burden [of violence] which is crushing her in spite of the so-called victory [of the Allies].
A free India wedded to truth and nonviolence will teach the lesson of peace to the inhabitants of South Africa. But it will be for us and the Congress to decide whether a free India will follow the way of peace or the sword. It is bad enough that she small nations of the earth should denude humanity of its precious heritage; it will be awful if a sub-continent of some four hundred millions were to take to gun-powder and live dangerously.
Will the war-weary Asiatic countries follow in the footsteps of Japan and turn to militarization? The answer lies in what direction India will throw its weight….Will a free India present the world a lesson of peace of of hatred and violence of which the world is already sick unto death?
I am only hoping and praying [that….there] will rise a new and robust India-not warlike, basely imitating the West in all its hideousness, but a new India learning the best that the West has to give and becoming the hope not only of Asia and Africa, but the whole of aching world…. In spite, however, of the madness and the vain imitation of the tinsel of the West, the hope lingers in me and many others that India shall survive this death dance and occupy the moral height that should belong to her after the training, however imperfect, in nonviolence for an unbroken period of thirty-two years since 1915.
An India reduced in size but purged in spirit may still be the nursery of the nonviolence of the brave and take up the moral leadership of the world, bringing a message of hope and deliverance to the oppressed and exploited races. But an unwieldy, soul-less India will merely be an imitation, and a third-rate imitation at that, of the Western military States, utterly powerless to stand up against their onslaught. I have no desire to outlive the India of my dreams.