MAHATMA GANDHI MEDIA AND RESEARCH SERVICE

MAHATMA - Life of Gandhi, 1869-1948

Chapter 12, Pilgrim Of Peace, 1946-1947, 19min 01sec, Reel 28, 29

The film depicts Gandhi's pilgrimage of love and hope meant to bring solace to the bleeding hearts in riot-wrecked Bengal and Bihar. Along with Gandhi's message of tolerance to his own people, the film also deals with the message of love and truth he gave to the Inter Asian Relations Conference held in Delhi and his dream of 'One World'.

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Commentary

Reel 28

 

Sequence 01 The pilgrim of peace arrived in Noakhali to venture in faith ... In the midst of thick palm-groves, Gandhi pitched his camp and buried himself in the devastated areas to purge the hearts of the people of hatred ...

The stink of death still hung over the place.. . Gandhi set out on his peace plan and talked to the downhearted ...

 

2 His technique of non-violence was on trial.. .

Emphasising the need for complete religious toleration he maintained, "In every province, everyone is an Indian, be he a Hindu, a Muslim or of any other faith". He expected the majority to constitute itself into the guardian of the minority.. .

 

3 In Gandhi's presence fear fled and the hold of fanatical terror loosened ... People flocked to him for advice and comfort. He was happy to see the dead souls return to life... and this was reward enough for his mission.

Noakhali became to him the nodal point governing the future course of events for the whole of India ...

 

4 On December 27, Jawaharlal Nehru came to Shrirampur, to seek Gandhi's advice on important political matters ...

During Nehru's sojourn, Gandhi explained to him the technique of non-violence he was pursuing in Noakhali ...

Getting fresh inspiration from Gandhi, Nehru remarked, "I feel a little younger and stronger after meeting this young man of seventy-seven".

 

5 Gandhi stood at the door of his hut and probed his future path ... On the morning of January 7, 1947, the barefoot pilgrim commenced his historic one-night, one village march from Chandipur.. .

The way was dark and he had naught but the twin stars of truth and non-violence to light his perilous trail ...

He strolled on the narrow village-roads mingling freely with the Hindus and the Muslims and expounding his gospel of communal unity and peace ...

Trekking from village to village and knocking from door to door, he sought close contacts with the people in his attempt to reinforce the human bond between the two communities and bring the shattered villages to sanity and composure ...

This was an experiment in the non-violence of the strong ...

Touring through miles of difficult terrain, Gandhi finished the first stage of his tour after 28 days of walking crowded by experiences both sweet and bitter.. .

 

6 On the morning of February 5, the second part of his tour commenced. 7 Tireless in his pursuit of communal harmony, the pilgrim progressed making his way through the inaccessible delta of the Ganga ...

(Bhajan: "Ekla Chalo")

If they answer not thy call, walk alone

If they do not hold up the light

when the night is troubled with storm,

with the thunder-flame of pain, ignite thine own heart

and let it burn alone ...

 

8 During the seven weeks' pilgrimage, Gandhi walked about 116 miles through forty-seven villages.

 

9 The epic of Noakhali closed after four months when he boarded the steamer at Chandipur on March 2, on the way to Bihar to still the raging fury.. .

 

Reel 29

 

Sequence 1    Gandhi came to Patna in sadness to comfort the bleeding hearts of the sufferers in Bihar.. .

Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan was his constant companion ...

 

2 Without respite, Gandhi set out for the interior again soothing and encouraging the distressed and admonishing those who had wrought the havoc.. .

In city and village, he chastised the majority and preached repentance and restitution ... The deeper he probed the tragedy, the more it tormented him.

As he moved into the afflicted areas, a new force moved the people and they were rejuvenated.

 

3 Gandhi was led through the ruins where humanity had been uprooted...

He was deeply moved and stood like one transfixed ...

 

4 He roamed and roamed and gave a message of courage to the victims. "Shed all fear except that of God."

The leaven of goodwill was slowly but silently at work repairing the breach in the people's unity.. .

He brought love where hatred and cunning had ruled. His plan of rehabilitation was based on an unshakable faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity ... He was sure that if the poison could be effectively neutralised, India might yet be saved from the desperate course of self-amputation.. .

 

5 At the gathering for the evening prayers, the villagers swarmed to hear Gandhi ...

He asked them to atone for their sins. "Retaliation is a vicious circle. Rebuild what you have destroyed and live together as members of one family for it is necessary to revive the eternal law of answering anger by love if humanity is to live.

"Bihar over which Buddha roamed and preached can radiate its effulgence over the rest of India. .. "

He very much feared that unless they work up, "India might lose the golden apple of independence..."

 

6 While Gandhi's mind was full of the dark implications of the madness which had wrought desolation and destruction in Bihar, he received an invitation from Lord Mountbatten, the new Viceroy of India, to meet him. . .

 

7 Gandhi soon arrived in New Delhi and lived amidst the sweepers' slums.. .

 

8 In the Viceregal gardens, he met Lord and Lady Mountbatten ... The Viceroy declared that his mission was to transfer power to Indian hands.. .

Gandhi made it clear that he was opposed to any division of India ...

 

9 The Purana Qila in Delhi was stirred into new life when the Inter-Asian Relations Conference held its first session here in the last week of March 1947.. .

It was an impressive gathering symbolising the political renaissance of Asia bringing together nearly 250 delegates from twenty-two Asian countries ... Jawaharlal Nehru took the initiative in translating the aspirations of the Asian nations into reality.. .

The urge for equality and his ideal of 'one world' provided the main theme for his inaugural address.. .

(Nehru's voice) "Friends and Fellow Asians, We have arrived at a stage in human affairs when the ideal of One World and some kind of a World Federation seem to be essential. . . We should work for that ideal and not for any grouping which comes in the way of this larger world group ... But in order to have One World, we must also, in Asia, think of the countries of Asia co-operating together for that larger ideal ...

We think today of the great architects of Asian freedom whose labours have borne fruit... We think also of that great figure whose labours and whose inspiration have brought India to the threshold of her independence-Mahatma Gandhi ...

Sarojini Naidu welcomed Gandhi to the conference (her voice) ". .. And now I am going to request the Father of our Nation, the apostle of love, truth and non-violence to give us benediction. .. "

(Gandhi's voice). .. "Madam President and Friends, West is today pining for wisdom ... West today is despairing of multiplication of atom bombs, because a multiplication of atom bombs means utter destruction, not merely of the West, but it will be destruction of the world ... If you want to give a message again to the West, it must be a message of love, it must be a message of truth. .. "

 

10 A terrible pendulum of communal violence was swinging wider and wider...

 

11 To stop the holocaust, Gandhi and Jinnah issued a joint statement deploring the "recent acts of lawlessness and violence that brought utmost disgrace on the fair name of India", and denouncing "for all times the use of force to achieve political ends."

Gandhi signed the appeal in three scripts... Devnagari, Persian and Roman.

 

12 At a prayer meeting, stressing the equality of all religions, Gandhi observed: "I believe in the message of truth delivered by all the religious teachers of the world ...

 

"It is my constant prayer that I may never have a feeling of anger against my traducers, that even if I fall a victim to an assassin's bullet, I may deliver up my soul with the remembrance of God on my lips..."