541 DEARBORN AVENUE,
DEAR DIWANJI (Shri Haridas Viharidas Desai),
Your letter pleased me extremely. I, of course, understand the joke, but I am not the baby to be put off with a joke; now take more.
The secret of success of the Westerners is the power of organisation and combination. That is only possible with mutual trust and co-operation and help. Now here is Virchand Gandhi, the Jain, whom you well knew in Bombay. This man never takes anything but pure vegetables even in this terribly cold climate, and tooth and nail tries to defend his countrymen and religion. The people of this country like him very well, but what are they doing who sent him over? They are trying to outcast him. Jealousy is a vice necessarily generated in slaves. Again it is jealousy that holds them down.
Here were . . .; they were all trying to lecture and get money thereby. They did something, but I succeeded better than they — why, I did not put myself as a bar to their success. It was the will of the Lord. But all these . . . except . . . have fabricated and circulated the most horrible lies about me in this country, and behind my back. Americans will never stoop to such meanness.
. . . If any man tries to move forward here, everybody is ready to help him. In India you may try tomorrow by writing a single line of praise for me in any of our papers (Hindu), and the next day they would be all against me. Why? It is the nature of slaves. They cannot suffer to see any one of their brethren putting his head the least above their rank. . . . Do you mean to compare such stuff with these children of liberty, self-help, and brotherly love? The nearest approach to our people are the freed slaves of the U.S.A., the Negroes. Why, in the South they are about twenty millions and are now free. The whites are a handful, still the whites hold them down all the same. Why, even when they have every right by law, a bloody war between the brothers has been fought to free these slaves? The same defect — jealousy. Not one of these Negroes would bear to see his brother-Negro praised or pushing on. Immediately they would join the whites to crush him down. You can have no idea about it until you come out of India. It is all right for those who have plenty of money and position to let the world roll on such, but I call him a traitor who, having been educated, nursed in luxury by the heart’s blood of the downtrodden millions of toiling poor, never even takes a thought for them. Where, in what period of history your rich men, noblemen, your priests and potentates took any thought for the poor — the grinding of whose faces is the very life-blood of their power?
But the Lord is great, the vengeance came sooner or later, and they who sucked the life-blood of the poor, whose very education was at their expense, whose very power was built on their poverty, were in their turn sold as slaves by hundreds and thousands, their wives and daughters dishonoured, their property robbed for the last 1,000 years, and do you think it was for no cause?
Why amongst the poor of India so many are Mohammedans? It is nonsense to say, they were converted by the sword. It was to gain their liberty from the . . . zemindars and from the . . . priest, and as a consequence you find in Bengal there are more Mohammedans than Hindus amongst the cultivators, because there were so many zemindars there. Who thinks of raising these sunken downtrodden millions? A few thousand graduates do not make a nation, a few rich men do not make a nation. True, our opportunities are less, but still there is enough to feed and clothe and made 300 millions more comfortable, nay, luxurious. Ninety per cent of our people are without education — who thinks of that? — these Babus, the so-called patriots?
Now, let me tell you — still there is a God, no joke. He is ordering our lives, and although I know a nation of slaves cannot but try to bite at the hand that wants to give them medicine, yet, pray with me, you — one of the few that have real sympathy for everything good, for everything great, one at least whom I know to be a man of true ring, nobility of nature, and a thorough sincerity of head and heart — pray with me:
“Lead, kindly Light,
amid th’ encircling gloom.”
I do not care what they say. I love my God, my religion, my country, and above all, myself, a poor beggar. I love the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden, I feel for them — the Lord knows how much. He will show me the way. I do not care a fig for human approbation or criticism. I think of most of them as ignorant, noisy children — they have not penetrated into the inner nature of sympathy, into the spirit which is all love.
I have that insight through the blessing of Ramakrishna. I am trying to work with my little band, all of these poor beggars like me, you have seen them. But the Lord’s works have been always done by the lowly, by the poor. You bless me that I may have faith in my Guru, in my God, and in myself.
The only way is love and sympathy. The only worship is love.
May He help you and yours ever and ever!
With prayers and blessings,