Probably the most influential figure of the pro-independence drive in the post-colonial period is M.K. Gandhi, more famously referred to as the Mahatma. In the 1890’s, the young Gandhi set off to London to study law. His “London Diary” recorded the events of this time in his life, but despite the painstaking efforts of scholars to preserve his writings for posterity, all but 20 pages of The London Diary went missing. The surviving pages describe Gandhi’s initiation to the Third Degree of Freemasonry. It is apparently his Freemason diary. It in all probability describes his initiation through the several degrees of the organization. Why has the volume been suppressed? Is it to conceal Gandhi’s Freemason affiliations?
Gandhi is a far more complex figure than anyone seems to have imagined. The recent book Gandhi Under Cross-examination exposes the fact that Gandhi lied about the racial train and coach incident, where he was purportedly thrown off a train at Pietermaritzburg Station. The Editor-in-Chief of Gandhi’s own Indian Opinion newspaper, Rev. J.J. Doke, wrote the biography, opportunistically turning Gandhi into a martyred saint for political motivations. By comparing the four biographical and autobiographical accounts of the incident, the authors of Gandhi Under Cross-examination discover the fraud Gandhi committed on the world’s citizens. Under cross-examination, Gandhi is exposed as a fraudster, who has lied about his past in order to exploit the politics of victimization to gain political advantage. This is an effective counterpoint to the later real-life trail of Gandhi’s assassin, Natharam Godse.
In the 1890’s in South Africa, Gandhi addressed a body of fellow Indians in a town hall in Johannesburg. He raises a motion for a permanent Indian militia in South Africa. He proposes forming a volunteer ambulance corps of Indian stretcher-bearers to convince the British that they are loyal followers of the British Empire, in order to gain the permission of His Majesty’s government to found a permanent India militia.
Gandhi becomes a sergeant major in the British Army. His ambulance team joins the British in their effort to suppress a “Kaffir” uprising in South Africa. Gandhi acts as a recruitment officer for the British Army in the Boar War, WWI and WWII and as an apologist for the British Empire in his Indian Opinion newspaper. We also know that Gandhi had secret meetings with arms dealers and a Muslim terrorist organization known as the Muslim League.
Two attempts on the life of Gandhi are made in close succession. Assassins are dispatched from Lincoln’s Inn in London, one of the Inns of Court and law schools for the elite. The first murder attempt fails, but the second succeeds. Gandhi is assassinated and Natharam Godse is arrested in the square before hordes of onlookers. He surrenders, compliantly raising his hands over his head in surrender and hands his weapon over to the authorities.
Gopal Godse, brother of Gandhi assassin, Natharam Godse, wrote a book called May It Please Your Honour based on the courtroom testimony of his brother, which the world never got to hear. Natharam Godse conducted his own defence in the hope that he might present his true motivations to the world. He conducted his own defence, but the Congress Party of India ensured that not a word of Godse’s testimony was published in any of the Indian newspapers. The police steal the notebooks out of the reporters’ hands and destroy them on the spot, issuing a stern warning not to print a single word of Godse’s testimony in any of the national newspapers.
Godse’s courtroom testimony brought tears to the eyes of the packed gallery. Sobs conveying the deep emotion of those present could be heard throughout the court according to the testimony offered by Natharam Godse’s brother. Godse testified that Gandhi was in regular correspondence with known terrorists, including the head of the Muslim League, a terrorist organization responsible for slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians, especially in Calcutta. He also alleges that Gandhi conspired with the Amir of Afghanistan to front an invasion of India in order to found a Muslim caliphate, but the plot was somehow thwarted before it could be realized. Gandhi welcomed the Ali Brothers as he would his own brothers. He welcomed them and their planned invasion.
He welcomed the Amir of Afghanistan and his army. He welcomed the establishment of a permanent Caliphate in India. He believed it would make India a more orderly society, disciplined while enforcing high standards of morality, along with stability and peace. This is the same reason Gandhi promoted Hindustani as the lingua franca of India. This is the tongue that would bind both Hindus and Muslims together. Hindustani is Urdu under a different name. Godse understood that this was subterfuge.
It was communalism of the worst kind. It amounted to the Islamizing of India. He accused Gandhi of lacking the courage to call for the adoption of Urdu as the national language, hence the subterfuge of smuggling Urdu in under another name. To bolster up a language in the school curriculum and grant a bastard tongue a pedigree is insanity of the highest order. Forcing a foreign tongue upon a great nation like India was seen as treasonous to Godse and one of the prime motivations for the assassination.
Mr. Shastri, Mr. C.Y. Chintamani, the editor of Allahabad and even the Mahatma’s lifelong friend, the late C.F. Andrews, confirmed that Gandhi’s speeches and writings added up to an open invitation to the Amir of Afghanistan to invade India. It was de facto high treason. Is there another word for a leader plotting to have his country invaded by an alien power? The only explanation is that he had formed a secret pact with Shiekh Abdullah. Under his orders, the administrative power of Kashmir would be placed in the hands of Muslims. For this reason and this reason alone, Gandhi consented to armed resistance by the Indian forces to the Pakistani raiders of Kashmir. It was a coup d’etat and in the process he had signed Kashmir away.
The motherland was destined to lose half its territory. It was the most monstrous act of treason in the history of the world, yet the perpetrator continues to be celebrated around the world as a martyr and saint. Instead of fasting to stem the tide of the Pakistani invasion or practicing Satyagraya in the face of an armed Muslim invasion, Gandhi instead fasted because a handful of Muslims did not feel safe in Delhi. All of his fasts were orchestrated to coerce Hindus, but never once did he show the courage to stand up to the more aggressive Muslim population. He persistently embraced a policy of appeasement. His collusion with Muslim forces knew no bounds. How else could he have allied himself to the Ali brothers and their treasonous plot to bring ruin to India through the invasion of the Amir of Afghanistan?
In 1919, the Government of India Act was overshadowed by the Jallianwalla Bagh Tragedy.
Though the incident happened long ago, it is fresh in the minds of the people who lost loved ones and have hearts enough to know what it must feel like to lose a loved one. Hundreds of men, women and children were shot dead that day at the orders of General Dyer for the mere crime of holding a peaceful demonstration against the Rowlatt Act. Sir Michael O’Dwyer became notorious for his callous and unscrupulous reprisals against anyone who denounced or opposed the Rowlatt Act. The apologists have lost the argument in excusing these acts as those of misguided fanatics in breach of the proper chain of command. This man was a ‘Sir’, a knight and a peer of the realm. This means that he and his policies had the endorsement of the British establishment and the blessing of the King. Twenty years later he would pay for his crimes, when he was shot dead in London by Udham Singh.
While terrorism can never be condoned or endorsed, it is necessary to recognize that the actions of the Chafekar brothers of Maharashtra, Shamji Krishna Verma, Lala Hardayal, Virendranath Chatapadhyaya, Rash Behari Bose, Babu Arvind Ghosh, Khudiram Bose, Ulhaskar Datta, Madalal Dhingra, Kanhere, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdeo, and Chadrashekhar Azad were all done in response to government-sponsored terrorism under the yoke of foreign occupation. There is a subtle distinction to be made between pro-independence freedom-fighters and “terrorists”. Bhagat Singh successfully disrupted the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly in the 1929 bombing incident. Does this make him a “terrorist” or a pro-independence freedom fighter?
The Hindu-Muslim unity Gandhi claimed to covet so strongly was now a fleeting mirage. If Godse’s defence were on public record, everyone would know the truth. If the press had not been muzzled, the word would be out. Instead, the treasonous Congress Party suppressed the truth and prevented the face behind the mask of divinity from being revealed.
Perhaps most notably, he accuses Gandhi of leaving his own Hindu population to be helplessly slaughtered in the streets by the Muslim League, the infamous terrorist organization without recourse to a militia or the dispatch of a civil defence unit. Any sane and competent leader would call for the impeachment of a government that allowed such outrages as the slaughter of innocent women and children to go on under its own nose. But what did Gandhi do according to Godse? He went to Calcutta not to oppose the violence and speak out against it, but to enter into a strange contractual friendship with the author of these massacres.
He even went so far as to defend Premier Suhrawardy’s government and the Muslim League, a notoriously brutal terrorist organization. During the three-day massacre, when both person and property were being violated in the most brutal fashion, Gandhi did and said nothing. Is it non-violence to let innocent civilians be put to the sword, sliced up under the blade and thrown to the dogs for meat? Passivism is not the answer clearly. Maintaining a balance of power and assuring the peace through a system of checks and balances and an armed militia in the hands of all defensible populations is the best was to secure the peace. Leaving people defenceless through an enforced policy of non-violence leaves them vulnerable paradoxically to the very violence one seeks to avoid. Innocent men, women and children were cut down in the streets of Calcutta because there was not even the presence of an armed guard to offer a defence against armed terrorists, let alone a proper response to their violent outrages.
Godse also cited speeches in which Gandhi absurdly encouraged Hindu refugees to return to Pakistan during the pro-Muslim independence drive and face their fates, even if it meant being cut down by their Muslim brothers. He even made absurd references to Hindu scripture to justify this logical fallacy. Godse also implicated Gandhi in the partitioning of India and Pakistan, another act of high treason according to Godse.
Amazingly, Godse further argued that Gandhi’s Satragraya campaign of non-violent resistance to British rule only succeeded in forestalling independence by forty years by taking all the steam out of the militant movement to create home rule. The Rowlatt Report went on at great length about the strength of the independence movement. The revolutionaries had gained the upper hand and the British knew it. From 1906 to 1918, one Brit after another, along with several Indian collaborators, met their untimely ends at the hands of revolutionary nationalists. The British were shaking in their boots.
It was practically murder by numbers. They were being picked off one by one by the pro-independence revolutionaries the British called “terrorists”. Ever the consummate hypocrite, from 1920 onwards, Gandhi put his foot down on the use of force, crushing any armed resistance with his non-violence stance, even though he had carried on an active campaign of recruiting soldiers for Britain in the First World War and before that during the Boar War in South Africa.
Gandhi’s non-violence movement died a death only a few weeks after the start of the ‘Quit India’ campaign. Gandhi’s position was rejected outrightly by members of the Congress Party.
Nowhere was non-violence preached or practiced. Virtually everyone was committed to “do or die”. No one wanted to follow Gandhi’s methods and sit in jail. On the contrary, they wished to avoid jail at all costs. Rather than stewing in jail, they were committed to action, inflicting the maximum harm to British rule by cutting communications, committing arson, looting and other acts of violence, assassinations not excluded. Government administration was brought to a standstill.
They set fire to police stations and postal offices, while communications were disrupted with firebombs and other forms of sabotage. In north Bihar and other locales, nearly 900 railway stations were burnt to the ground or destroyed. At the very moment the smell of freedom could be detected in the air, Gandhi was calling for non-violence, when only a few short years before he had advocated violence as a recruitment officer for the British Army. This begs the question: Whose side was he really on?
Godse noted how Hindu women and children were offered no defence in the face of their Muslin terrorist foes. It was the heroic fight put up by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that checked and destroyed Muslim tyranny in India. It was absolutely correct and just, according to Godse, for Shivaji to kill Afzul Khan, since the latter had already broken the Vedic sanction against attacking the innocent and unarmed. Conversion by the sword is irreligious and unHindu. Condemning Shivaji, Rana Pretap and Guru Govind as deluded and misguided patriots was extremely presumptuous of Gandhi.
Each of these heroes was unrelenting in his defence of the country, protecting the people against the atrocities and outrages of alien invaders, and prizing the motherland free from the foreign yoke. Under thirty years of dictatorship by the Mahatma, what does he have to show us, asked Godse, but the desecration of temples and our women’s bodies, forced conversions at the hand of a sword, and even the rape of the own motherland, one third of the nation stripped away to become a permanent neighbour, black sheep and exiled family member, ever on our doorstep as a watchful enemy? For Godse, Gandhi was a dwarf before the likes of Shivaji, Rana Pretap, and Guru Govind. His condemnation of these illustrious heroes was presumptuous at best. These were the martyrs whose blood formed the mortar that built the temple of independence.
In truth, Gandhi’s policy of ahimsa was an abject failure from the word go. The more the Mahatma condemned the use of violence in the nation’s battle for independence, the more popular it became. This fact became abundantly clear in the Karachi Session of Congress in March 1931.
From 1921-22, Gandhi became the ideologue of the Congress and it was under his leadership that the first Non-Cooperation movement was launched. When Gandhi abruptly ended the movement, the revolutionaries became disillusioned with the creed of non-violence espoused by him. During 1924-25 Gandhi became involved in an extended polemical argument on the use of violence. The brunt of Gandhi’s arguments lay in what he called the ineffectiveness of violence, the added expenditure it cost the government to curb it and the insane pressure of anger and ill-will that started it in the first place. In fact so opposed was he to the revolutionaries that when the Viceroy Lord Irwin missed a narrow escape on his life, Gandhi wrote an article called the “Cult of the Bomb” where he thanked god for the Viceroy’s escape and condemned his bete noire, the revolutionaries. In 1925 Sachindanand Sanyal sent an open letter to Gandhi in which he said,
…(the) Non-Violent non-cooperation movement failed not because there was (a) sporadic outburst of suppressed feelings here and there but because the movement was lacking in a worthy ideal. The ideal that you preached was not in keeping with Indian culture and traditions. It savoured of imitation. Your philosophy of non-violence… was a philosophy arising out of despair.
By 1929 the revolutionary movement in India had developed and in December of that year, Bhagwati Charan and Chandra Shekhar Azad wrote an article defending the Delhi Bomb Case revolutionaries from Gandhi’s scathing criticism, in which they argued,
The revolutionaries believe that the deliverance of their country will come through revolution… (This) revolution will not only express itself in the form of an armed conflict between the foreign government and its supporters and the people, it will also usher in a new social order. The revolution will ring the death knell of Capitalism and class distinctions and privileges. It will bring joy and prosperity to the starving millions who are seething under the terrible yoke of both foreign and Indian exploitation.
In 1931 in a note to the party, the great pro-independence revolutionary, Bhagat Singh, wrote about Gandhism as the dominant ideology in the Congress, which is unable to take a stand against the British and instead wants to become a partner in power… (the Congress) is working as a centrist party and has always been so. It is embarrassed to face reality. The leaders who run it are those people whose interests are associated with the party… If revolutionary blood does not succeed in giving it a new lease of life… it will be necessary to save it (the party) from its allies.
Interestingly although Gandhi insisted on the acceptance of non-violence dogmatically, younger members were not so averse or critical of the revolutionaries. Subhas Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru were the two prominent Congressmen who supported the revolutionaries. Chandra Shekhar Azad used to receive money regularly from Motilal Nehru.
Money to the revolutionaries was also supplied by Puroshattamdas Tandon and Shiv Prasad Gupta. Even leaders like Maulana Shaukat Ali and Krishna Kant Malviya supplied revolvers to Sanyal. “The non-violence of the Mahatma was by-passed by the Congressmen and they were not found wanting in their moral, financial and other support to the revolutionaries,” say Irfan Habib and S.K. Mittal. That there was public sympathy for the revolutionaries and support from within the Congress must have been known to Gandhi. It may well have been a fact that Gandhi, sensing a threat to his leadership, became increasingly bitter towards the revolutionaries and when he could have negotiated a release for some of them he chose not to. And what is it to keep perceived “dissidents” who pose a threat to one’s leadership, but the very definition of dictatorship? And still today at a time when we consider ourselves so enlightened, we continue to fall for the propa-gandhi that the Mahatma was the ultimate democrat.
We should make a distinction here between a “pro-independence freedom fighter” and a “terrorist”. If one is trying to liberate one’s country and its people from the yoke of a brutal foreign occupation, and is targeting the military and top political brass of the foreign occupier, how does that make one a “terrorist” in any reasonable sense of the word?