Gandhi Versus the Empire

By Haridas T. Muzumdar | Go to book overview

PART III

CHAPTER X
GANDHI'S ULTIMATUM TO THE BRITISH RAJ

Prior to the inauguration of Civil Disobedience on March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi sent a letter to Lord Irwin, Viceroy and Governor-General of India. The momentous letter, which some choose to call an ultimatum, was delivered to the Viceroy's Secretary in person by the young English Quaker lad, Reginald A. Reynolds. The text of the letter is reproduced from Young India, March 12, 1930:

Satyagraha Ashram, Sabarmati, March 2, 1930.

DEAR FRIEND:

Before embarking on Civil Disobedience and taking the risk I have dreaded to take all these years, I would fain approach you and find a way out.

My personal faith is absolutely clear. I cannot intentionally hurt anything that lives, much less fellow human beings, even though they may do the greatest wrong to me and mine. Whilst, therefore, I hold the British rule to be a curse, I do not intend harm to a single Englishman or to any legitimate interest he may have in India.

I must not be misunderstood. Though I hold the British rule in India to be a curse, I do not therefore consider Englishmen in general to be worse than any other people on earth. I have the privilege of claiming many Englishmen among my dearest friends. Indeed, much that I have learnt of the evil of British rule is due to the

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