by John Haynes Holmes
Community Pulpit, Series 1929-1930, No. 17, April 27, 1930
In recent weeks there has been one event in the world which has rivetted the attention of all serious-minded people. I refer to the march in India of Mahatma Gandhi and his band of seventy disciples from Ahmedabad to the sea. In itself there was little that was impressive about this event. It seemed as insignificant and undramatic as another march of another man from Galilee to Jerusalem some two thousand years ago. It was just the spectacle of a little group of pilgrims trudging along the dusty roads of a remote region of a distant country, in the killing heat of the tropic sun, to arrive at a lonely spot upon the shore of the sea. Sickness and exhaustion decimated the ranks of the wayfarers as they moved—the leader, with his emaciated body and bandy legs, all naked except for the familiar loin-cloth, seemed so frail that he must collapse at every step. It was all so miserable and pitiful, and just a little ridiculous. But the march was momentous as the opening chapter of a revolution which is destined to bring liberation to three hundred and fifty millions of human beings, and was glorified by the presence of a man who is destined to be remembered by posterity as one of the greatest personalities of history. John Richard Green, the English historian, in speaking of George Washington, the leader of the American Revolution, gives it as his opinion that “no nobler figure ever stood in the forefront of a nation’s life.” This was true yesterday, but it is no longer true today. India has outdone America. For Mahatma Gandhi ranks not only with Washington and Cromwell and Mazzini, the great nationalists of their time, but with Buddha and Jesus and St. Francis, the great religionists of all time. This immortal Indian, as mighty in spirit as he is feeble in body, is not only incomparably the greatest man in the world today, but one of the ten or a dozen greatest men who have ever lived. When, on the early morning of April 6th, his journey done, he waded into the sea at Dandi, to manufacture salt in defiance of the monopoly of the British crown he made forever memorable a village so small that its name does not appear upon the map as the scene of the greatest event of modern times.
Gandhi’s conversion: From loyal subject of the empire to revolutionary
In order to understand the situation in India today, it is necessary to know the story of Gandhi. More than any other man who has ever lived, the Mahatma is the personal embodiment of his people. He is “the most extraordinary popular leader ever known,” says the Englishman, S. K. Ratcliffe. “His followers are counted by tens of millions. For many years past he has moved up and down India amid continual excitement, accompanied by a murmur of multitudes stirred to the depths.” Of these nameless millions of men and women, Gandhi is the living conscience—the leader whom they follow, the saint whom they revere. His life, therefore, in the critical period of this last decade, is literally the history of his country.
It is interesting to notice, at the outset, that as recently as the year 1918, Gandhi was a loyal subject of the Empire. In a famous letter, “To An Englishman,” the Mahatma says, “No Indian has cooperated with the English government more than I have for an unbroken period of twenty-nine years of public life, and in the face of circumstances that might well have turned any other man into a rebel.” This cooperation, he goes on to say, was “not based upon the fear of punishments provided by your laws, or any other selfish motives,” but represented a “belief that the sum-total of the British government was for the benefit of India.” During the war Gandhi did the amazing thing, for a non-resident pacifist, of recruiting for the British army as a pledge of his fidelity to the Empire and his willingness to help its cause. This was policy as well as personal devotion, for the word had come from England that the reward of loyalty was certain to be the grant of a larger measure of self-government for India. In August, 1917, the Secretary for India, Mr. Montagu, promised India a government responsible to the people. In July, 1918, Mr. Montagu and the Indian Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, signed an official report recommending constitutional reform for India. The preceding April, when the Allied armies were crumbling up before the last great drive of the Germans, Mr. Lloyd George, Prime Minister, sent an appeal to the people of India which hinted that the hour of India’s independence was at hand. It was a glorious dream, and India rose to it in an ecstacy of anticipation. Gandhi promised the Empire his loyal backing, and took the lead in a campaign which contributed no less than 985,000 men to the armies on the western front.
But if the dream was glorious, “the awakening,” as Romain Rolland puts it, “was terrible.” With the danger over, the promises of England were forgotten. After the signing of the Armistice, the government dropped its mask of fine pretense and, instead of granting the promised liberties, actually withdrew such measure of freedom and dignity as already existed. Three things happened in the period immediately after the war which changed the face of India and the soul of Gandhi.
The first thing was the passage of the Rowlatt Acts which aimed to establish as a part of the statute law of the Raj the provisions of the Defense Act which had been imposed upon India during the stress and strain of the struggle against Germany. This made secret police, official censorship, social repression and “all the tyrannical annoyances of a real state of siege” into a permanent reality. Behind this legislation, of course, was a fundamental distrust of the Indian people which outraged even the humblest in the land.
The second thing that happened, in the wake of the revolt against the Rowlatt Acts, was the massacre at Amritsar. A peaceable crowd, assembled in an open space in the city of Jallianwalla Bagh, was surrounded and fired upon from machine-guns at the command of an English general. From five to six hundred Hindus were killed, and four or five times this number seriously wounded. It was a slaughter as of rabbits in a warren.
This horror was followed by the reign of terror in the Punjab. As though maddened by their own ferocity, the English authorities visited upon the helpless people of the province every indignity and cruelty imaginable. Aeroplanes threw bombs on unarmed crowds. Honorable and unoffending citizens were arrested and imprisoned. They were lashed together in droves and flogged like bond slaves through the streets. They were even forced to get down on their hands and knees and crawl like animals over the dirty paving-stones. Never was any people anywhere in so short a space of time subjected to such base humiliation.
It was these events which changed the currents of Gandhi’s life. His experience had the suddenness of a religious conversion. He who had been the friend of the Empire now became the enemy not of Englishmen, for there can be no hatred in Gandhi’s heart for any human being, but of “the satanic government,” as he called it, which Englishmen had imposed upon his country. Instantly this most important and influential man in India put himself at the head of the revolt which was sweeping the masses of his fellow-countrymen. He did this for two reasons. First, of course, he was an Indian, and thus himself had been outraged by the indignity and suffering which had been visited upon his people. In the second place he dreaded violence, as he knew its futility and was convinced of its wickedness, and hoped by the power of his leadership to lead the inevitable revolution into paths of security and honor. For twenty years, in South Africa, he had led a campaign against the governmental authorities on behalf of the rights and privileges of Hindus on strictly non-violent lines. He had taught his people to fight not by violence but by suffering, and to conquer not by hatred but by love. “Non-cooperation” was his magic word—the refusal to work, or live, or associate with other men save under conditions of equal rights and mutual respect. What had been done on a small scale in South Africa could be done on a large scale in India. It must be done, if India and England alike were to be saved from a whirlwind of violence and bloodshed. So Gandhi leaped into the storm not to fan but only to temper and control its fury.
Gandhi’s revolution begins
It was in August, 1920, that there began in India, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, that vast campaign of non-violent non-cooperation against the British Raj—of deliberate organized refusal to sustain the alien government imposed upon the nation—which stands as one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of the world. Around one man there gathered the millions of the land—high and low, rich and poor, literates and illiterates, city workers and country farmers, Hindus and Moslems, Brahmans and untouchables. For the first time the people were united. Under the influence of a man whose frail body weighed scarcely ninety pounds, whose personal appearance was insignificant, who had no gift of eloquence nor power of personality, but who had caught the imagination of his fellow countrymen by the sanctity of his life and the singleness of his devotion, the Indians of all classes were mobilized into one great body of revolt. They surrendered all titles of honor and all honorary offices. Sir Rabindranath Tagore, for example, returned his knighthood to the English crown! They refused all participation in government loans. They abandoned the English law courts, bringing their differences before voluntary judges of their own choosing. They took their children out of government schools, and their young men out of the English colleges and universities. They boycotted the legislative councils. They refused all participation in government parties and other official functions. They refused to accept any civil or military posts at the hands of government. They refused to purchase English goods, and started busily the spinning of native cloth (Khaddar). They prepared to pay no taxes. And always they refrained from violence. “There must be no violence,” said Gandhi. “Violence means retrogression in our case, and useless waste of innocent lives. Above everything else, there must be complete order.”
The effect of this non-violent non-cooperative campaign was amazing. The multitudes of India were stirred as by a storm, and the rule of England shaken as by an earthquake. Said Sir George Lloyd, the English Governor of Bombay, “Gandhi’s was the most colossal experiment in world history, and it came within an inch of succeeding.” It is the common opinion that failure came in the end because Gandhi was arrested and imprisoned, and his power thereby broken. But nothing could be farther from the truth! If failure came to the great adventure, it was because the Mahatma himself chose that it should come. Three times, when he was just on the threshold of triumph when he had already set the date for the last step of revolt which was non-payment of taxes, Gandhi halted his movement on the outbreak of violence, and declared that the Indians were not ready to take over the control of their country until they were able to exercise control over themselves. The collapse which followed so suddenly upon the arrest of Gandhi was the collapse which he had prepared by his own high resolve to sacrifice victory rather than to win it by force and violence.
It was while Gandhi was in prison at Yeravda (1922-1924) that he came to realize that he had put suddenly on the masses of India a greater spiritual burden than they were prepared even under his leadership to bear. He had achieved a miracle with the people. He had done what had never been done before—stirred the multitude and united them in a common movement of devotion and sacrifice. But the strain was too great, and under it the people had broken. This meant that the Indians needed training and discipline. They must be prepared for their great task of independence. He, their Mahatma, must make them inwardly worthy of what they desired, and thus spiritually capable of winning and holding it. His task was to cleanse India of its abominations; to end forever the political, racial and religious hatreds which divided the nation and made it impotent, and to subdue the masses everywhere to self-dependence, outwardly in their political and economic, inwardly in their intellectual and spiritual life. He must teach them, in other words, the law of love, and, by making them obedient to this law, fit them to be at last the masters of their own destiny.
Gandhi as transformer
It was when Gandhi, after his release from prison—pardoned, as I always like to remember, by J. Ramsay MacDonald—undertook this gigantic labor of the spiritual regeneration of a whole people, that he entered upon what stands in many ways as the greatest period of his career. He abandoned now the political field to other and lesser men. His was no longer the task of organizing political parties, presiding at political congresses, leading nationalistic political campaigns. This work might well go on—indeed, it must go on! But always there was the deeper and higher task of reaching the souls of the people, and this henceforward was his task. Promptly he defined certain tests, or standards, of spiritual discipline which must be met as a condition of the attainment of Swaraj. His program had five points, like the five fingers of the hand:
First, Khaddar—the spinning of native cloth, and its use in place of the imported cotton cloth from England.
Secondly, Hindu-Moslem unity—the ending of the baleful and disastrous strife which had so long divided these two great religious groups of India.
Thirdly, removal of untouchability—the return into the family of the Indian people of the millions of men and women outlawed from the society of their fellows by the curse of caste.
Fourthly, equality of women—the enjoyment by women on equal terms with men, of all political, economic and social rights.
Fifthly, prohibition of the liquor traffic—the banning by law of the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages.
These were the five points of Gandhi’s program of reform. And as the five fingers are bound together and animated by the hand, so these five points were bound together and animated by the all-embracing principle of nonviolence. All Indians must eschew violence, banish hate and fear from out their hearts, and seek deliverance from the national enemy (Britain) by overcoming this enemy by the power not of the sword but of the spirit. Long since had Gandhi begun this work in his own individual life. He had organized it on a modest scale at his school (Ashram) and fraternal community at Ahmedabad. Now he sent forth the challenge throughout the length and breadth of all the land, and set himself patiently and resolutely to the task of its fulfilment.
England’s failed response
As I recall this great epoch in Gandhi’s life (1924-1929), 1 have but a single thought. What a chance was this for England! The Mahatma had never been so powerful. He was removed by his own deliberate choice from the field of agitation and rebellion to the field of constructive social and religious reform. He was suddenly become a spiritual leader, concerned with the souls of his people and their dedication to great causes of brotherhood and peace. Was there no statesman in England who could see and seize this opportunity to join hands with Gandhi for the working out of the problem of India’s relations with the Empire? Was there no man wise enough to say to the great Indian, “You are seeking to save your people in ways that will help us, as they will help the world. We sympathize with you, we would help you, we would cooperate with you. You can speak for your people, who we know will follow you. Tell us, now, what we must do to establish India in dignity and freedom, and avoid the conflict so long impending with its dire threats upon us.”
I like to think that had J. Ramsay MacDonald been in office in Westminster at this time, he would have taken this wise and heroic step of reconciliation with India. For Mr. MacDonald knows India, and, whatever his defects of statesmanship, is a man sincerely devoted to the cause of peace. But the Labor Leader, in office but not in power, was overthrown in what 1 regard as the greatest political disaster since the close of the Great War, and was succeeded by a Tory ministry utterly incompetent to understand and handle the Indian situation. Once again were the lives of millions of innocent men and women to be doomed to misery and death by the stupidity of statesmen! For the English Tories could see nothing in India but the retirement of Gandhi from active political leadership, and could find no interpretation of this retirement but his loss of influence and power. Gandhi, they said, was a broken rod, a shattered idol. He had had his little day as the master of India, and now this day was done. No one need pay any attention to him any longer. With the passing of this amazing man, the danger of revolt was over, and the Empire could proceed to work out in its own way and to its own advantage the destinies of the Indian people. So England went ahead—stupidly, blindly, selfishly—and repeated that record of arrogance and oppression which had wrought such disaster at the close of the Great War. Four things happened in these years which drove the people of India into an even more furious frenzy of despair and wrath than that which had followed upon the massacre of Amritsar.
First, to quote the Englishman, S. K. Ratcliffe, “a Conservative prime minister, knowing nothing of the East, entrusted Indian affairs to hands that should never have been allowed to touch them, and India was provided with the distressing spectacle of a Gandhi being confronted by a Birkenhead. In that contrast, perhaps the destiny of British power in Asia may be symbolized. Such collocations may seem trivial in themselves. They are not seldom the turning-point of national and imperial destiny.”
Secondly, in anticipation of a necessary revision of the Indian constitution, the Simon Commission was appointed with no representation of India in its membership. In all the more than three hundred millions of Indians, there was found not one man—Gandhi, or anybody else—who was deemed worthy to sit with Englishmen in the determination of Indian affairs! Instantly India exploded in one vast eruption of indignation and revolt. Political and religious differences disappeared, as men of all parties and all creeds united in one high resolve to boycott the Commission and repudiate its work. Wherever Sir John Simon and his associates went in India, they were met by vast uprisings of the people, armed with insulting banners, which paralyzed all efforts of the Commission to achieve results.
Thirdly, and in some ways worst of all, the Simon Commission was supported not only by Tories and Liberals in England, but also by Laborites. With a degree of stupidity which at this date seems fairly incredible, Mr. MacDonald not only voted for the Commission in the House of Commons, but actually allowed representatives of the Labor Party to serve as members of the Commission. When this happened the last remnants of confidence in England disappeared from the hearts of Indians. From Gandhi down, all now believed there was henceforth no Englishmen in church or state, in private or public life, who could be trusted. The Labor Party was the last hope, and in this crisis of Indian affairs, the Party had gone over to the enemy. From this moment on, all contacts with England were definitely and forever at an end.
Lastly, as a crowning irony of the situation, came the publication of Katherine Mayo’s Mother India. This curious and wicked book may seem to be a trivial phenomenon in the perspective of the tremendous events of this present hour. But in relation to the circumstances which pertained when it was published, the book was a disaster of the first magnitude. Into a problem of utmost difficulty and delicacy, needing for its solution every influence of moderation and goodwill, there was suddenly precipitated this work which held up India to ridicule and contempt. Nobody in India will ever believe that this vicious slander, which spared not even such men as Gandhi and Tagore from libellous attack, was not inspired by British influences. Whether or not this be true, Mother India was one of the central influences of the time which made cooperation between Englishmen and Indians impossible. Says Mr. Ratcliffe, “It poisoned the entire atmosphere.”
Gandhi’s final demands for “Young India”
Thus was disillusionment renewed and severance completed. Again, as in 1919, Britain had lost its opportunity and driven all India to revolt. Gandhi in his retirement, preaching the regeneration of his people and their inner spiritual preparation for the fulfillment of their nationalistic dreams, watched the drift of the times, and noted its steady progress towards disaster. On the one hand was an England which was obdurate, stubborn, stupid, steadfastly resolved to rely in the last resort upon that sheer brute force of arms and men which had sustained the empire hitherto. On the other hand was an India aflame with wrath, and, worst of all, beginning to turn away, in sheer loss of patience and self-control, from that ideal of nonresistance which had been the moving passion of the Mahatma’s life. The new generation of Indians seemed no longer to be with him in his program of non-violent non-cooperation, but, like young blood everywhere, was dallying with the quick and easy way of striking at the foe and delivering themselves by force from the bondage in which they suffered. Was it possible for him, in such a situation of seething unrest and disturbance, to continue or in any way achieve that basic work of social and spiritual change to which he had deliberately set his hand? Could he retain any influence, or serve any useful or effective end, if he stayed aloof from his people in such an hour of national humiliation and distress? Was he not an Indian, and did he not feel at this time, as in 1920, the duty to act in concert with all Indians in defence of their dignity and rights as men? Above all, must he not strive again as in 1920, to turn the tide of violence which seemed sweeping upon the land, and guide it into safe channels of protest and revolt? He was old and feeble, but his power was still as great as ever. Did there not remain for him one last effort to save the situation from the final cataclysm of ruin, and by some supreme demonstration of non-resistant love, achieve an emancipation of India which would not be inconsistent with a reconciliation with England?
It was some such line of thought as this which persuaded Gandhi to emerge from his retirement, and assume again the active leadership of India in her revolt against the British crown. At the All-India Congress of 1928, the great Mahatma entered upon the third, and in all probability the last period of his heroic service of the cause of India. Exercising his old mastery of his people, even of the younger men and women, who still reverenced him as their country’s saint and savior, Gandhi served upon Britain an ultimatum that Swaraj must be granted to India within the period of the next year—i.e., before January 1, 1930. On the other hand, the Mahatma gave solemn pledge to his people that if Britain did not act within the period named he would again organize and personally lead a nationwide non-resistant movement for independence. It is this pledge which Gandhi is fulfilling at this hour. What may well be the last days of his life he is dedicating to the herculean task of winning his goal for India, and at the same time saving India and England alike from the horrors of violence, bloodshed and destruction. It is this which justifies Gandhi’s claim that he is acting on England’s behalf quite as much as on behalf of his native land, and that his non-violent non-cooperative campaign is prompted quite as much by concern for Englishmen as for Indians. The Mahatma, in other words, is the same sublime figure of self-forgetting sacrifice to the cause of peace and brotherhood that he has been from the beginning of his career. Yet is there another Gandhi before the world today! In three respects at least, his present campaign, so dramatically initiated by his march to the Gulf of Cambay and his ritualistic evaporation of a handful of salt on the sands of Dandi, differs from the great campaign of 1920-1921:
In the first place, this campaign is directed, straight and sure as an arrow, to the end of national independence for India. Gandhi is now for the first time in his life committed to this farthest goal of political liberation. Whether he has been driven to this position by the rising tide of sentiment for independence in young India, or has himself attained to this conviction by a process of slow inner development through a decade of disillusionment, is a question of no importance. The momentous fact is that the revered leader of a great people, who was for years ready to interpret Swaraj in terms of dominion status or even less, has now become an uncompromising advocate of separation from the Empire.
In the second place, Gandhi is conducting a campaign which at its very beginning is farther advanced in rigor and determination than his last campaign even at its close. Thus, in 1920-1921, Gandhi never came to the time when he was willing to ask his followers to refuse to pay taxes to the British Raj. This was one of the items on his program, to be sure, but the last item, and it was not to be acted upon until all the other items had been successfully carried out. In this campaign, however, operations have been opened by an attack upon the salt monopoly, and this has been almost immediately followed by an appeal to the landowners of the villages not to pay their land taxes. The significance of this strategy is obvious. It registers, like a gauge in the sea, the rising of the tide of nationalistic revolt.
Lastly, and most momentous, the Mahatma is not allowing his movement to be deterred or even delayed today by the outbreak of violence. Gandhi of course, is as much opposed to violence as ever, and his followers are as solemnly and irrevocably pledged against it. But whereas, in 1920-1921, an outbreak of force led to a suspension of operations and a period of penance, today such outbreak leads only to a new determination to press ahead and reach the decisive moment as soon as possible. It would seem as though this were a repudiation of Gandhi’s conviction that the Indian people must learn to master themselves before they undertake the mastery of their government—that preparation must precede attainment. But the Indian leader seems now to have penetrated to the deeper truth that the struggle for independence, with such suffering and death as may attend it, is itself the preparation needed for independence. The present campaign, said Gandhi, in a recent issue of his paper, Young India, is designed “not to establish independence, but to arm the people with the power to do so.” We must deliberately seek wounds, and even death itself, that by the discipline of suffering we may make ourselves fit for the freedom we would enjoy! This is the new Gandhi—a Gandhi more relentless, even ruthless, than he has been before. He has at last become, like Jesus, one of “the terrible meek”—the meek who “inherit the earth!”
Closing thoughts on Gandhi’s legacy
Will Gandhi succeed in this last and most tremendous effort after liberty? I do not believe that he will today, though I regard it as certain that he will tomorrow. For the immediate future the worst is to be feared—the imprisonment and perhaps the death of Gandhi, the scattering of his forces, the torture of his people, long years of struggle such as made the history of Ireland a tragedy for a hundred years! But in the end, at whatever time soon or late, the victory is certain. For when a people sets its face toward the goal of liberty, it moves, through whatever loss and misery and woe, till it arrives. The freedom of India is as certain as was the freedom of America, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Hungary, or any other of the scores of countries which have sought and found their national deliverance. Meanwhile, in the confusion of the hour, it is important to understand the purpose of Mahatma Gandhi and his immortal significance for posterity.
What we have in this great Indian, first of all, is the leader of his country’s cause of independence. Here he ranks with George Washington as the determining personal influence in his nation’s destiny.
But the Mahatma is more than a mere nationalistic figure. He is the leader of a civilization’ of a world—of the revolt of the East against the pride, the power and the vainglory of the West. Here Gandhi ranks with Sun-Yat Sen as the savior of the culture and very life of an awakened Asia.
But the Mahatma belongs not merely to India and Asia but to the world. He comes that men may learn again the way of life. For what do we see in this revolt which Gandhi leads? On the one side the greatest empire that history has known since the decline and fall of Rome, equipped with vast resources of men and money, armed with rifles, bayonets, machine-guns, tanks and bombing-planes, all the immeasurable power that wreaks devastation and death in this modem age. On the other side, one feeble man, with emaciated body and halting step, naked save for the cloth that binds his loins, accompanied by no army or even band of followers, but only by a little group of disciples as unarmed and therefore as defenceless as himself. When has the world ever seen such a duel as this between sword and spirit? Not since Jesus the Nazarene confronted Pilate, and declared to this viceroy of imperial Rome, “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight . . . but now is my kingdom not from hence.” Again, after two thousand years, the throne of Pilate is set up among the nations, and before it stands the savior of mankind. Must there be another crucifixion? And if so, will not Gandhi rise as Jesus rose, to vex the peoples of the earth forever?
In that far-away time in Palestine there appeared the Christians—bands of humble men and women who took the name of Christ and bore witness to his work. Wherever these Christians went, they bore aloft, as the emblem and standard of their cause, the cross—a symbol of the triumph of Jesus over death and shame, a pledge of these disciples to follow on where he had led, and a prophecy of the future which in some not distant day the master would possess. Everywhere throughout the great Empire of Rome these Christians went, bearing always this mystic symbol of their faith. “They had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were torn asunder . . . were slain with the sword . . . they wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” But they did not falter, and they did not fight—and in three hundred years they had conquered the Empire for Christ.
So in India today, already while Gandhi is alive and free, there appear the men and women who take his name and do his work. These followers of the Mahatma also have an emblem and standard of their cause—this Khaddar cap, made of the native cloth spun upon the hand-looms of the Indian villages. This cap today, like the cross yesterday, is a spiritual symbol—the symbol of Gandhi’s triumph over the power of the sword, of his disciples’ promise of fidelity to him, and of the victory of freedom which waits upon their cause. Every morning, in India, millions of men, as they step out of their homes into the streets of the cities, or into the open fields of the country, place this cap upon their heads in celebration of their devotion to Gandhi and of their determination to walk in his simple and heroic way of life. Nor can this cap be confined to India! For are there not tens and hundreds of millions of men, the world around, who see, or will see, in Gandhi the latest savior of the world, the true spirit of the living God again become flesh among us? And, so seeing, will they not proudly and reverently don this cap, as I don it now, in sign of their dedication to his word? For why should we turn back into the past for the Christ who can redeem our lives and save our world? Or why should we look forward into the future in dim expectancy of some second coming of the Lord? “Gandhi is here,” cries out our American poet, Angela Morgan, with true prophetic insight:
“Many there be who do pray for a star. Many in this darkest night of the world
Grovel at the feet of the Most High God,
Begging for a Savior or a Sign …
Yet here is Gandhi
Take him to your hearts, O people,
For lo a messenger whose word shall make you whole.
Take him for your nourishing, O nations,
For here is the bread that shall cure your famines.
Take him into your courts, O lawgivers,
For here is the Law that fulfilleth all law.
Take him into your council chambers,
O diplomats and statesmen,
Who with cold words engraven upon parchment
Have fashioned future hells for the weak and the dependent!
Receive him into your congresses and parliaments,
Ye who are spokesmen for those who may not speak;
Link him unto your governments, O rulers in high places,
Premiers, presidents, mayors, kings!
Take him into your churches,
O hymn-singing, enraptured congregations,
Bending the knee to a Janus God breathing Love and War.
Take him into your pulpits, ministers of the gospel,
Who make many prayers and are forever mouthing
The Sacred word of God,
Yet know not that word when it doth come! …
How many prophets would we have, O people?
How many Christs from Pilate for the rabble?
Still do ye plead for a Sign and a Token?
Do ye kneel still?
Yet here is Gandhi!”
At this point, Mr. Holmes displayed to the congregation a Gandhi cap in illustration of his theme.