History Optional Paper- 2 Solution – 2013: Q.1 (e)

Q.1 (e) “Gandhi’s body is in jail but his soul is with you, India’s prestige is in your hands, you must not use any violence under any circumstances. You will be beaten but you must not exit; you must not raise a hand to ward off blows.” Critically examine.


Gandhiji has launched Civil Disobedience Movement on 12 March 1930 with Dandi march and Salt Satyagraha. Gandhi looked at the Dandi March as a non-violent weapon of struggle against injustice by breaking salt laws and a medium of dialogue and communication with the people along the route of the march. The Dandi march and its consequences demonstarted the effectiveness of non-violent mass struggle

Just before Gandhi’s arrest on May 5, 1930, at Kaladi, near Dandi, he announced his intention of raiding Dharasana Salt Works as a part of Salt Satyagraha, about 150 miles north of Bombay. With Gandhi in jail, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, a close associate of Gandhi and a poetess, assumed the leadership and went to the site of salt pans near Dharasana with about 25,00 volunteers.

Before the march, Mrs. Naidu exhorted the volunteers: “Gandhiji’s body is in jail but his soul is with you. India’s prestige is now in your hands. You must not use any violence under any circumstances. You will be beaten but you must not resist, you must not even raise a hand to ward off blows.”

Through these words, Naidu wanted to make it clear that the absence of Gandhji should not mean the absence of his principles like non-violence and satyagraha, which were the best ways to defeat mighty British Raj. Any attempt to become violent could have given legitimacy and excuse to the British to supress the movement.  She wanted every men and women to act like a Gandhi.

As expected, on unarmed and peaceful volunteers, there was brutal lathicharge by the Police but volunteers followed the Gandhian principle and remained non-violent.

Mr. Miller, the American Journalist who covered Dharsana Satyagraha and gave descriptive account of the event including the given statement of Naidu, observed that not a single arm was raised to fend off the blows of lathicharge. The volunteers marched slowly towards the police. Although everyone knew that within a few minutes he would be beaten down, perhaps killed, there was no signs of wavering or fear. There was no fight, no struggle; the marchers simply walked forward until struck down.  Leaders kept exhorting the Gandhiji’s intentions to the volunteers whenever the crowd became intensively excited against policemen.

Mr. Miller’s report of Dharsana Salt Satyagraha and the brutal beating of non-violent volunteers caused a sensation when it appeared in the thousands of newspapers served by the United Press throughout the world. It showed the brutality of the British regime and the power of Gandhian principles.

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