2 JUNE 1933, Page 16

MAHATMA GANDHI [To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] Sin,—" Mr.

Gandhi becomes progressively more inscrutable. No comprehensible reason for his latest decision is forth- coming."—The Spectator, May 5th.

The decision of the Mahatma to fast for 21 days and thereby- endanger his life has _sent. a thrill of horror all over India. . The Situation is certainly unique in' the, modern world, but is not without parallel in this' ancient land. The words of Shri Krishna that "it is to destroy the evil-minded and to establish religion , that I take birth periodically" are the essence of the Hinclii religion, and it is this belief that has induced Hindus for centuries to worship such human beings as were taken as" Avatars." People of other religious faiths often scoff at the Hindus as idolators. It is often said that the basic interiority of the Hindu religion is proved by the fact that they have given Pittees to 333 Millions of gods instead of one Supreme Power. The Hindus. are all worshippers of "Avatars." It is from the religious point of view that millions in the Hindu world have considered Mr. Gandhi as an "Avatar." Call it "sheer superstition-" if you will, but the faith is there, and it is this faith that has induced many thousands of men and women to suffer imprisonment and other hardships in recent years in obedience to the Mahatma. Political agitation is not a new thing in India and the gospel of freedom that has been- preached by the Mahatma Was preached from different' platforms on mantle:Ss. occasions during the last 66 years, bitt it never caught on. In many respects the Mahatma is a superman. Other supermen of Inclia who may or may not have been "Avatars" have disappeared; often under a flimsy pretext, when their mission was finished. Ramchandra, Gouranga and Buddha may be mentioned. • - Mr. Gandhi seems to have deliberately formed the opinion that his work has now been finished. The whole of the Congress, Press, English and the Vernacular, is coming into line with the Hindu of Madras and is clamouring for "a change in the Congress Policy, civil disobedience being dead."

The campaign on behalf of the Untouchables has also proved a gigantic failure. " Thus .Mr. Gandhi, at the present moment is a very disappointed man. A " purifying:fast " was necessary. Nevertheless,- Mr. Gandhi's achievement is superlatively great, and in the pages of Indian history one may search in vain to find another human being since Krishna who has revolutionized the Hindu idea of politics as the Mahatma has done. He and he alone knows what his mission actually is, and all that others can do is to hope that he will not pass away from the eirth before that work has been completed.. Like 'all 'Inman beings he has his frailties, but at this hour let us recall Dr. . Johnson's words, ." Let not his frailties be remembered, he is a very great man."

Dr. Edward Thompson in his book, The ReconstruCtion of India, has a fine passage on the " Significance of Gandhi." " He has set in action emotions- and hopes that are -far wider than any-political -grouping. "- He has definitely shifted

the course of- a people's Way—the way of many • peoples."-L- .