Ramarajya: The India of Gandhiji’s Dreams

The Kingdom of Rama has been the dream of the Indian mind. The tiger will, according to the tradition, drink water at the same stream as the deer, and the elephant will never dream of the lion (for that would announce his death). The widow will never lament in that kingdom, the husband will never die before the woman for that would be inauspicious – Sri Rama protects dharma. And of course no child would ever cry, for its mother’s breast would ever be full. The low will never know poverty, and the humble will be protected. All sorrow Sri Rama owns as his own. Mankind shall not suffer for Sri Rama rules from Ayodhya.

The Kingdom of Rama is based on love. Take this road, dear wanderer, and turn right by the well, and go straight up the rising mounds and hills, and as morning breaks you stand by the Sarayu River and on the other side is the Thrice Holy city of Sri Rama, Ayodhya, the beautiful. Will you not come with me, traveller? This was, in many ways, the tone and argument of Hind Swaraj or Indian Self-rule. For he who rules himself alone can be free – he who seeks the truth alone the true Indian. We want no other India. You young men, Gandhiji says to his interlocutor, a revolutionary, you want Indian independence. So do I. But you want, if I may so tell you, not your India or my India, but an India of British manufacture, as it were. You are so corrupted by the English education that you cannot (nor for that matter can I, authentically) speak of the Indian whose India it is. We want another England in India – we want every shape and purpose of an alien culture and civilization, for in fact we are envious of them…. but there’s another road, a sweeter road, may be a longer road (I do not believe this to be true, but I will say it for argument’s sake), and at the end of it you come to the perfumed city of Sri Rama.

What are the characteristics of this city?

The road to that City is all green with cultivation. The peasants till the earth and grow their crop and the seasons are regular, and when they are not, the government has granaries filled with rice for the poor and the famine-affected.
In Sri Rama’s Kingdom or in an Independent India there will be no factories. Of course I know even this body is a factory. I know all nature is a factory. But nature goes towards the Truth, towards liberation. But factories belittle man, make him mean by trifling wants and no satisfactions. I do not mean by that, that people will be lazy. I simply mean that only such work will each man perform that his dharma demands.

We want an Indian India—Hind Swaraj. I want the music of the spinning wheel instead of the machine exuding its smoke and eating up the soul of man. I want men to walk and to ride horses or camels, for this way they know the country, they know and love the Indians. The way we travel today is a travesty of travel. We rush through hundreds of miles in a day and we do not know the India we are traversing. Softened by these western means of comfort we have become emasculated. We have lost our manhood. We have become cowardly. Railways, lawyers and doctors have impoverished the country so much that if we do not wake up we will be ruined. Doctors assure us that a consumptive clings to life even when he is about to die. Consumption does not produce apparent hurt—it even produces a seductive colour about a patient’s face so as to induce belief that all is well. Civilization is such a disease and we have to be wary. The holy places of India have become unholy. Formerly, people went to these places with very great difficulty. Generally therefore only the devotees visited such places. Nowadays rogues visit them in order to practise their roguery.

As for Muslims and Christians, to me all are Indians. A man’s religion is his relation to his God. The Hindus have no quarrel with any other religion. To me all men are children of God.

Even the Englishman?

Yes, of course, the Englishman as well. If Englishmen gave up avarice and violence—it’s on this that imperialism is based—and if they be full of non-violence, and seek the Truth they are better in my mind than the Indians who would be small Englishmen. I would rather be ruled by the truth-seeking Englishman than by the power-seeking Indian. My Indian is not an Indian because he’s born in India. My Indian is an Indian because he loves the Truth.

If you agree that we want an Indian India, that is based on love and truth, then the only way to get there is through non-violence. Passive resistance is a method of securing rights by personal suffering; it is the reverse of resistance by arms. When I refuse to do a thing that is repugnant to my conscience, I use soul-force. For instance, the government of the day has passed a law which is applicable to me. I do not like it. If by using violence I force the government to repeal the law I am employing what may be termed body-force. If I do not obey the law and accept the penalty for its breach, I use soul-force. It involves sacrifice of self.

It is contrary to our manhood if we obey laws repugnant to our conscience …. A man who has realized his manhood, who fears only God will fear no one else …. If man will only realize that it is unmanly to obey laws that are unjust, no man’s tyranny will enslave him. This is the key to self-rule or home rule. That nation is great which rests its head upon death as a pillow. Real Home Rule is possible only where passive resistance is the guiding force of the people. Any other rule is foreign rule.

—From the book The Great Indian Way by Raja Rao
Gandhiji

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