WORK FOR PEACE
Speech at a rally of students on Martyr’s Day, Bhopal dated 30-1-1986
Today the nation is observing Martyrs’ Day and remembering the greatest among our martyrs who died so that we may live in freedom and peace. Mahatma Gandhi is remembered by us as the ‘Father of the Nation’. You also know how he sacrificed his life for the unity of our country. On 30 January 1948, when Gandhiji was preaching peace to the people of Delhi, one person from the audience pretending to be a devotee of Bapu came forward to offer. – him a ‘namaskar’ and shot straight into his heart. At that prayer meeting, Gandhiji offered his life for peace.
Gandhiji wanted people belonging to different religions, races and ethnic groups to live together as brothers and sisters. He found only God’s children among Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs or Parsis. All are God’s children and all children are equal before God. For bringing about affection and love among the people of India he sacrificed his life. It is this sacrifice we remember today and we think of the great ideals for which he stood.
What are the ideals with which we identify Gandhiji. We call him a man of non-violence, truth and peace. These are all inter-related virtues. Truth, non-violence and peace go together. If you want peace, there must be truth. There cannot be any peace without truth. There cannot be any peace with violence. We have to understand these hard facts. When we are true to ourselves, true to our neighbours, we cannot be violent towards them. When we love our neighbors, there shall be peace. This is the essence of Gandhiji’s life and the essence of Gandhism.
It is good that you have made a ‘peace march’ today. Gandhiji was the greatest man of peace in modern times. We have produced many messengers of peace earlier also. 2500 years ago there was another Messiah of peace born in India, Lord Buddha. His message influenced the course of our history. His message brought peace to us for a long time.
Today the world is yearning for peace. The leaders of the super powers also speak of peace. They stockpile arms and yet talk of peace. Peace cannot be brought about by arms and ammunition. In this century, two great wars were fought to bring peace. But we know that one war only paved the way for another and each war, in fact, paves the way for another. So wars cannot bring peace.
Peace can only be brought about by the union of human hearts. We have to give up hatred. Only when we eschew hatred can we bring peace. This is the lesson Gandhiji taught us.
Two points of view are today contending for the control of the world. One is of those people who believe that they could bring peace through wars-that is violence. The other is of those who have faith in peace through truth and non-violence. In this struggle between war and peace, we are on the side of peace.
Since its birth, our nation has been on the side of peace which is why we are called a non-aligned nation. The great leader of our nation, Jawaharlal Nehru established a group of non-aligned nations only to promote peace in the world.
He was the foremost disciple of Gandhiji. Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi was able to take this non-aligned group further forward. Now Rajiv Gandhi is leading the non-aligned nations.
The moral force of the non-aligned nations has kept war away from most nations for a long time. We have to strengthen these forces of peace so that the world may be freed from the fear of war.
Remembering the greatest man of our time and his martyrdom today, let us pledge ourselves to strengthen the forces of peace. Let us pay our homage to Gandhiji’s memory by becoming instruments of peace in our life and conduct, so that peace endures on earth.