Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Homage and Heritage: Swami Anand

Two thousand years ago the Prince of Peace atoned for the sins of his fellow-men on earth by mounting the Cross with words of forgiveness and love for his persecutors. And though man felt ashamed and humiliated he did not mend his ways.

The primitive man hunted for food; in the middle ages he killed for glory. The supermen of our age stalked the globe with a technique of slaughter and enslavement in the wake of greed and exploitation. The earth was rent with weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Humanity lay prostrate under the agony of unnamable outrages.

In the midst of all this clash and conflict came, once more, a Wise Man from the East. Like the Good Shepherd he shouldered the ailing sheep, the insulted indentured Indian, toiling far away from home, and comforted him and his tribe. With words soothing and life-giving, he sayeth unto them: "Come ye that grieve and are heavily laden. I bring to you good tidings, --the Gospel of Resistence."

And he shepherded his flock and ministered unto them in their afflictions with tenderness and affection. He taught the worm to turn. He taught little mothers to stand upright and resist racial arrogance and insult, marching with babes in their arms and courting prisons.

He sat among overbearing foreigners and pleaded his people's cause, disarming them with his courtesy and his integrity. He evoked their sympathy with his gentle sufferings and earned a great renown.

And behold, he returns homeward to his own people and concludes with them, once more, a new Covenant: "It has been said by those of old: 'Ye resist not evil', or 'resist evil with evil'. But I say unto you, resist evil within and without you, with the whole might of your soul; resist it with Non-violence, resist it with Truth, resist it without malice. Repent ye, and do penance for your sins, collective as well as individual. Eschew all violence, eschew all hatred, shed all fear and forge yourselves into finest weapnos of resistence. You are the salt of the earth. Ye are to establish once more, by testifying to it in and with your lives in this holy land of synthesis, the supremacy of soul over matter; of God over Mammon; of service over self-interest. And ye are to carry the Gospel of this non-violent resistance to the farthest ends of the earth. In this redeeming task, he who shall lose his life shall find it, and he who shall seek to save his life shall lose it."

And he sayeth unto them again:

"Despise no man; but believe in his innate goodness. Harbour no ill-will against him; only resist the evil that has seized him. Resist and suffer cheerfully with no thought of returning evil for evil. Shun all fear. Be brave and wield the weapon of Truth and non-violence, which is Love abounding. They are but the obverse and reverse of the same coin. To me there is no God other than this. It is my sole weapon and my refuge. And know ye, that it is not the weapon of the weak. It is for the bravest. Learn ye, therefore, to wield it against all your ills. It shall sustain you against the mightiest. For it is forged on the anvil of Love that exalteth and that abideth in God."

And behold! Great multitudes followed him.

And he covered the entire land with his journeys, plying his wheel, and with its thread linked men with men, - whole masses of them.

The toilers came from their fields and spinners from their hovels; fishermen left their nets, tradesmen their counters. Rich men, encumbered with large possessions, came too, in search of solace, and he lightened their burdens. Women came resurrected and awakened to the true dignity of their state. The untouchables came with their limbs withered and their souls crushed under the weight of age-old inequities. And he ministered unto them with all the passion of his soul and made them whole. He made them God's Chosen. Came also the publicans, the hated ones -- servants of Government -- who served the alien rulers and worked against their own country for a mess of pottage. And he called upon them to repent and turned many into humble servants of the dumb millions. Lepers came and he built them shelters and himself washed their wounds. Came also the pharisees, the learned ones, negotiators and peace-mongers. And he suffered them all and treated them with unfailing patience and tenderness.

(This is the first part of an unpublished manuscript of the writings of Swami Anand, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi)

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