Mahatma Gandhi at Sodepur, News Paper Report 3rd December 1945
Mahatma Gandhi addressed a record gathering yesterday at Sodepur Asram immediately after the mass prayer in the evening.
Gandhiji referred to the present-day world crisis and the ineffectual efforts that were being made to find out a solution and bring about harmony and equilibrium. Freedom from all bondages, including the political bondage of India, Gandhiji stressed, was essential for world peace. And for its final establishment man must look for guidance from God and seek enlightenment from Him.
Addressing the congregation after the prayer Gandhiji said he would like to thank them and congratulate them because they had maintained silence and were peaceful during the prayer. The gathering of this evening was very big indeed. On Saturday the prayer meeting was less crowded. On both the days they had shown remarkable discipline. So he would thank them and hope they would continue to behave calmly in future also.
The prayer song which was sung this evening had a special significance. Gandhiji said it was very appropriate in the conditions obtaining at present. The song was also sung in a very melodious tune.
In the song there was an appeal to God to lead humanity from darkness to light. It said the humanity was engulfed in thickening darkness and had lost vision. So they were praying to God to give them strength and lead them to light.
FREEDOM FROM BONDAGES
The import of the song was that they must be freed from all bondages and attain enlightenment. The freedom from the bondages also Included the winning of Swaraj. India wanted release from the bondage. “We are all engulfed,” Gandhiji said. “In darkness to-day. Not only India but the world also Is engulfed in darkness. India wants peace. So also does the entire world. We are all travellers groping in that thickening darkness. We are all blind and cannot feel the absence of darkness.”
“The prayer we have offered,” Gandhiji continued, “Is the most Important thing of this evening. I was in South Africa when I used to pray privately. When I returned to India I saw the necessity of holding mass prayers. I have been holding mass prayers since then. There is of course the necessity of individual praying In his own way.
FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
“Our prayer to-day to God is to lead us from darkness to light, from nntruth to truth, and let us have peace—peace not only for India but for the entire world.”
Gandhiji said he did not like the shouting of slogans. The shouting of slogans disturbed the peaceful atmosphere which was the condition pre-requisite to holding prayer. So he would request them not to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the place by shouting slogans.
In conclusion Gandhiji asked the gathering to remove untouchability from their midst. Untouchabillty was a slur on humanity.
Gandhiji then requested those who had assembled to contribute their mite to his Harijan fund
In response to requests from a large number of people who arrived at the Ashram after the prayer was over, Gandhiji returned to the lawn and spoke to them for a few minutes.
Gandhiji said that if they came for his darshan after the evening prayer was over they would be asking him to do something which would put a considerable strain on him. If he was to give darshan again and again he might die as a result of the strain involved.
He had come to Bengal to serve the people. Heavy work lay before him. He required strength and energy to do that work. If he was to give darshan to people and come out again and again so that they might touch his feet, then in repeating the process he would lose considerably energy and strength. That would render him incapable of doing the work for which he had come to Bengal.
NO DARSHAN BUT WORK
“I know your love for me”, Gandhiji continued. “I also want to love you. 1 also want to win your heart. But that I want to achieve through work. Do not ask for my darshan or want to touch my feet. I am not God; I am a human being. I am an old man and my capacity to stand the strain is limited. If I am to appeal before you again and again my strength will be exhausted. And I will not be able to do my work.
“So my request to you is that you should not ask for my darshan or request me to stand before you so that you may touch my feet. If you come at prayer time you will have my darshan. But I want to impress upon you that I like peace. I do not like shouting of slogans or claps. They irritate me If you love me you will not do so.”
The people who had assembled then left the Ashram peacefully,
Sourse: Amrita Bazar Patrika (3rdDecember 1945)