The revolutionaries were shocked.
But the incident shows that freedom from is not necessarily a blessing.
You can see all over the world; countries have become free from the British Empire, from the Spanish Empire, from the Portuguese Empire – but their situation is far worse than it was when they were slaves. At least in their slavery they had become accustomed to it, they had dropped ambitions, they had accepted their situation as their destiny.
Freedom from slavery simply creates chaos.
My whole family was involved in India’s freedom struggle. They had all been to jail. Their education was disturbed. Nobody could pass the university because before they could pass the examination they were caught – somebody was three years in jail, somebody was four years in jail. And then it was too late to start again, and they had become bona fide revolutionaries. In jail they contacted all the leaders of revolution; then their whole lives were devoted to revolution.
I was small but I used to argue with my father, with my uncles: “I can understand that slavery is ugly, it dehumanizes you, humiliates you, it degrades you from the prestige of being a human being; it should be fought against. But my point is, what will you do when you are free? Freedom from is clear, and I am not against it. What I want to know and understand clearly is what you are going to do with your freedom.
“You know how to live in slavery. Do you know how to live in freedom? You know a certain order has to be maintained in slavery; otherwise you will be crushed, killed, shot. Do you know that in freedom it will be your responsibility to maintain the order? Nobody will be killing you and nobody else will be responsible for it – you have to be responsible for it. Have you asked your leaders what this freedom is for?”
And I never received any answer. They said, “Right now we are so involved in getting rid of slavery; we will take care of freedom later on.”
I said, “This is not a scientific attitude. If you are demolishing the old house, if you are intelligent you should at least prepare a map for the new house. The best would be that you prepare the new house before you demolish the old. Otherwise you will be without a house and then you will suffer – because it is better to be in the old house than to be without a house.”
In my family, great leaders of the Indian revolution used to stay with us – and this was my constant argument with them. And I have never found a single leader of the Indian revolution who had the answer to what they were going to do with freedom.