On 1 February 1948, two days after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination by Hindutva fanatics, Sarojini Naidu gave an impassioned speech on All India Radio, calling on the nation to remember the Mahatma’s death as a pledge to right action. Here is an edited version of her address.
WHILE WE ALL MOURN—those who loved him, knew him personally, those to whom his name was but a miracle and a legend—though we are all full of tears and though we are full of sorrow, I feel that sorrow is out of place and tears are a blasphemy. How can he die, who through his life and conduct and sacrifice taught the world that the spirit matters, not the flesh, that the spirit has the power greater than the powers of the combined armies of the earth, combined armies of the ages? He was small, frail, without money, without even the full complement of garment to cover his body … how was he so much stronger than the forces of violence, the might of empires and the grandeur of embattled forces in the world?
It was because he did not care for applause. He only cared for the path of righteousness. He cared only for the ideals that he preached and practised. And in the midst of the most terrible disasters caused by violence and greed of men, his faith never swerved in his ideal of non-violence. He believed that though the whole world slaughter itself and the whole world’s blood be shed, still his non-violence would be the authentic foundation of the new civilization of the world and he believed that he who seeks his life shall lose it and he who loses his life shall find it.
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