Chapter 15: We Are the Only Alternative
This is simple strategy, and Gandhi succeeded in his strategy; he really confused the British government. What to do with this man? He would not do any violence, nor would he allow his followers to do any violence, and if people are not doing anything, how can you start shooting them? On what grounds?
Finally Britain decided to leave India - not because of Gandhi’s movement; his movement happened in 1942, and the British government left India in 1947. Revolution brings immediate effect. Cause and effect are joined, not five years apart. The revolution that happened in 1942 in India was crushed within nine days. Never in history has there been such an impotent revolution, ever. Nine days, and the whole revolution had disappeared.
There was no reason for the British government to be afraid of such a revolution and let India be free. India was almost half the empire of Britain. The reason why they left was totally different. The reason was that they had exploited India enough; now there was no more possibility to exploit it. On the contrary, it was becoming an economic burden on Britain. They were the rulers, obviously they were responsible for the people, and the responsibility was growing every day as India’s population was growing.
It is simple arithmetic that if an empire becomes an economic burden on you, then the best way out is to make it free. Let them have their own responsibility. And moreover, it was beautiful to give India freedom while there was no revolution, so you could keep a friendship with the country. You have not been thrown out, but by your own will you have made the country free. You have obliged the country.
So as far as Gandhi’s nonviolence goes, the moment Britain left India, nonviolence also disappeared. And a strange coincidence is, that Gandhi had been for forty years continuously forcing people not to be violent. He had no discipline, no method of meditation that could recreate a man’s energy, could transform his being and make him nonviolent. He had only this ideology: don’t be violent.
And violence is within you. It is man’s inheritance of millions of years, it needs tremendous work to change it. Gandhi had not given any idea how it had to be changed. But “Don’t be violent” meant repress it, go on repressing. For forty years he managed to force Indians to repress their violence. And his logic was appealing: “If you are violent, Britain is never going to leave India. If you are nonviolent, then sooner or later they will be ashamed of keeping an innocent, nonviolent country in slavery.”
So people remained nonviolent for forty years, and as Britain left India, a tremendous violence exploded in India. And the coincidence is, just one million people were killed in that violence; riots between Hindus and Mohammedans killed one million people - exactly the same number as Adolf Hitler killed in Germany!
Of course, they arrived from different directions, but both came to the same conclusion.