Gandhi : a false prophet of non-violence

The following quotes are from Perry Anderson’s Why Partition? which was published in London Review of Books.

Gandhi is marketed world over as preacher of non-violence but following excerpts clearly show that his willingness for bloodletting was at least as much as any other leader of extremists.

As early as Hind Swaraj, he had said that if his countrymen started to fight after the British withdrew,

‘there can be no advantage in suppressing an eruption: it must have its vent. If therefore, before we can remain at peace, we must fight among ourselves, it is better that we do so.’

In 1928, he wrote

‘I am more than ever convinced that the communal problem should be solved outside of legislation, and if in order to reach that state, there has to be civil war, so be it.’

In 1930:

‘I would far rather be witness to Hindus and Mussulmans doing one another to death than that I should daily witness our gilded slavery.’

In April 1947, he told Mountbatten that

‘the only alternatives were a continuation of British rule to keep law and order or an Indian bloodbath. The bloodbath must be faced and accepted.’

To an Indian journalist, he said he

‘would rather have a bloodbath in a united India after the British quit than agree to partition on a communal basis’.

It seems that he was in favor of ahimsa only when protesting against British (may be because they were larger and stronger force). When it came to his own unarmed countrymen, satyagarha could be a killing force for all he cared rather it seems he actually wanted it.

To his honour, when the pogroms erupted in 1947, he did what he could to stop them, to good effect in Calcutta.


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