Leo Tolstoy, Letter To A Hindu

Letter To A Hindu

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Written by Leo Tolstoy
With an Introduction by M. K. GANDHI


The letter printed below is a translation of Tolstoy’s letter
written in Russian in reply to one from the Editor of Free
Hindustan. After having passed from hand to hand, this letter at
last came into my possession through a friend who asked me, as
one much interested in Tolstoy’s writings, whether I thought it
worth publishing. I at once replied in the affirmative, and told
him I should translate it myself into Gujarati and induce others’
to translate and publish it in various Indian vernaculars.
The letter as received by me was a type-written copy. It was
therefore referred to the author, who confirmed it as his and
kindly granted me permission to print it.

To me, as a humble follower of that great teacher whom I have
long looked upon as one of my guides, it is a matter of honor to
be connected with the publication of his letter, such especially
as the one which is now being given to the world.

It is a mere statement of fact to say that every Indian, whether
he owns up to it or not, has national aspirations. But there are
as many opinions as there are Indian nationalists as to the exact
meaning of that aspiration, and more especially as to the methods
to be used to attain the end.

One of the accepted and ‘time-honored’ methods to attain the end
is that of violence. The assassination of Sir Curzon Wylie was
an illustration of that method in its worst and most detestable
form. Tolstoy’s life has been devoted to replacing the method of
violence for removing tyranny or securing reform by the method of
non-resistance to evil. He would meet hatred expressed in
violence by love expressed in self-suffering. He admits of no
exception to whittle down this great and divine law of love. He
applies it to all the problems that trouble mankind.

When a man like Tolstoy, one of the clearest thinkers in the
western world, one of the greatest writers, one who as a soldier
has known what violence is and what it can do, condemns Japan for
having blindly followed the law of modern science, falsely socalled,
and fears for that country ‘the greatest calamities’, it
is for us to pause and consider whether, in our impatience of
English rule, we do not want to replace one evil by another and a
worse. India, which is the nursery of the great faiths of the
world, will cease to be nationalist India, whatever else she may
become, when she goes through the process of civilization in the
shape of reproduction on that sacred soil of gun factories and
the hateful industrialism which has reduced the people of Europe
to a state of slavery, and all but stifled among them the best
instincts which are the heritage of the human family.

If we do not want the English in India we must pay the price.
Tolstoy indicates it. ‘Do not resist evil, but also do not
yourselves participate in evil–in the violent deeds of the
administration of the law courts, the collection of taxes and,
what is more important, of the soldiers, and no one in the world
will enslave you’, passionately declares the sage of Yasnaya
Polyana. Who can question the truth of what he says in the
following: ‘A commercial company enslaved a nation comprising two
hundred millions. Tell this to a man free from superstition and
he will fail to grasp what these words mean.

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Neville Goddard, Summa Theologica, Manly P Hall, A Course In Miracles