Friday, May 16, 2008

To Women

Mahatma Gandhi was raising funds for non co-operation movement and it was his practice to give seperate speeches for women, students and the general public. In the article below he gives tribute to women, after he saw the amount of funds donated in the form of jewellary. It shows the trust the people had in him for the purpose of Swarajya.


I started begging for money at Dakor and, fortunately, I made a beginning with women.1 Among them, the sister who first gave me a piece of jewellery made a living by grinding flour for others. When she took off her earring and handed it over to me, that same moment I was convinced that India’s women had understood the holy nature of peaceful non-co-operation. The experiences which followed were marvellous indeed. Girls in Ahmedabad parted with their bangles, rings and chains. In Poona, they literally showered jewellery on me. There were similar scenes in Belgaum, Dharwar and Hubli. Muslim women in Delhi, from behind their purdah, gave jewellery, currency notes and cash.

When the women in the country have woken up, who can hinder swaraj? Dharma has always been preserved through women. Nations have won their independence because women had brave men for sons. By preserving purity of character, they have kept dharma alive. There have been women who sacrificed their all and saved the people. When women, who have done all this, have become alive to the suffering of the country, how long can that suffering last?

The women among whom I see this awakening cannot be described as educated, but they have understanding. They fully understand the obligations of dharma. What the educated classes take a long time to see, the women, with their gift of intuition, have understood at a mere hint. They have not taken long to realize that swaraj means Ramarajya.

Everything has been put clearly before them. The nature of the [country’s] suffering has been explained. They have also been toldthat the remedy for this suffering is non-co-operation, and also what non-co-operation means. They have realized their duty in helping to preserve Hindu-Muslim unity, while everyone understands and remains faithful to her own religion. If women keep up what they have so wisely begun, I am sure we can provide education for the whole country with the help of the jewellery which they can spare. The women who have offered their
ornaments have done so on the understanding that they will not ask them to be replaced before we have got swaraj, but will do without them. Thus, with a little sacrifice of jewellery on women’s part, we can arrange for the country’s education and promote swadeshi. I hope, therefore, that they will continue the great yajna1 which commenced at Dakor and that the husbands or other relatives will not restrain any of them in this sacred effort.
[From Gujarati]
Navajivan, 28-11-1920

1 A centre of pilgrimage in Gujarat. The reference is to Gandhiji’s visit to it; vide “Speech at women’s meeting, Dakor”, 27-10-1920

CWMG Vol 22.

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