Mohandas Gandhi Rare handwritten notes

03 Jul

Rare handwritten notes in English, one page, 5 x 8, on the reverse of a partial letter to him, circa 1946. Gandhi pens 13 lines of notes, possibly in preparation for a reply to the letter. In full: “Previous Occasion. Might have been mercenary but our hearts are no longer mercenary. Yes, I used the expression ‘mercenary’ for our Indian soldiers which brought round my ears a hornets’ nest. But my use of that expression implied no reflection. It was only descriptive. Anyone who serves the fort for a King comes under that category. You cannot.” The initial letter to Gandhi read, in part: “It will be too late for me to wait for destruction by famine on such a large scale as is being experienced by the poor people of this country…I hope that you will not miss this view of mine. I can assist you to set things right before 1st April 1946, with absolute NON-VIOLENCE or even will power.” Intersecting folds, light scattered creases, and staple holes to the upper left, otherwise fine condition. Gandhi’s notes appear to address the reversal of his thoughts on Indian soldiers—in the early 1920s, he condemned Indian ‘mercenaries’ volunteering for the army of the British Raj: ‘I refuse to call the profession of the sepoy honourable when he has no choice as to the time when and the persons or people against whom he is called upon to use his sword. The sepoy’s services have more often been utilized for enslaving us than for protecting us.’ However in 1945, shortly before penning these notes, Gandhi reexamined his view, writing: ‘Though I can have nothing in common with any defence by force of arms, I am never blind to the valour and patriotism often displayed by persons in arms.’ These remarkable notes, referencing his positions on the violence and nonviolence that marked much of his life and legacy, come from a time when Gandhi’s decades of hard work began to come to fruition, as his vision of a unified, independent India would soon be realized. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.



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