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GANDHI AND THE TAMILS
Extracts from collected works of Mahatma Gandhi
Writing in Indian Opinion on February 6,1909. On the progress of the Satyagraha, Gandhiji said:
“The Tamils have surpassed all expectations. All their leaders are now in goal. Now –a- days, imprisonment is not merely for a week, but for three months, and it is not simple, but rigorous. Unbounded is the courage of those Indians who have gone to Goal, undeterred by such sentences”.
On February 25, 1909, before going to jail for the third time, Gandhiji addressed the following message to the Tamils in South Africa:
TO MY TAMIL BRETHREN
BEFORE GOING TO GOAL FOR THE THIRD TIME IN OUR STRUGGLE.
“I have addressed a letter in Gujarathi to our countrymen, but as I do not know the beautiful Tamil language sufficiently, I write to you in English, hoping that I may reach some of you. The struggle has now reached the most critical stage. Whilst the majority of the other sections of the community have fallen, being too weak, the majority of the Tamils and the Parsis have stood firm. The brunt of the battle must therefore, fall upon their shoulders. I pray to god that He may give you sufficient strength to bear it. You have discharged yourselves brilliantly hitherto. Remember that we are descendants of Prahlad and Sudhanva, both passive resisters of the purest. They disregarded the dictates even of their parents, when they were asked to deny god. They suffered extreme torture rather than inflict on their persecutors. We in the Transvaal are being called upon to deny God, in that we are required to deny our manhood, go upon our oath and accept an insult to our nation. Shall we in the present crisis do less than our forefathers?”
Indian Opinion, March 6, 1909 Collected works, Volume 9, pp199
After release from jail, in an article in Indian Opinion (June 5,1909), on “My Third experience in Goal”, Gandhiji wrote:
“No other Indians can equal the performance of the Tamils in this fight. It therefore occurred to me that I should read Tamil with close attention, if for no other reason than to render sincere thanks to them at least mentally. Accordingly, the last one-month was devoted mostly to the study of Tamil. The more I learn it the better I appreciate the beauties of this language. It is a very fine language, and from its structure and from what I have read in it, I find that the Tamils have produced and still produce, a large number of intelligent, thoughtful and wise men. Moreover, since India is going to be one country, some Indians outside Madras should also learn Tamil”.Collected Works, Volume 9, pp 242
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