Saturday, 11 October 2014

Gandhi - Harijan and Durjan

"The other day a friend suggested to me that the word ‘ Harijana’ (man of God) be substituted for the word ‘ Antyaja’ (the ‘last born’) that is being used for ‘untouchables’. It was a word used by the great saint Narasinha Mehta, who by the by belonged to the Nagar Brahmin community and who defied the whole community by claiming the ‘untouchables’ as his own. I am delighted to adopt that word which is sanctified by having been used by such a great saint, but it has for me a deeper meaning than you may imagine. The ‘untouchable’, to me, is, compared to us, really a ‘Harijana’ —a man of God, and we are ‘ Durjana’ (men of evil). For whilst the ‘untouchable’ has toiled and moiled and dirtied his hands so that we may live in comfort and cleanliness; we have delighted in suppressing him. We are solely responsible for all the shortcomings and faults that we lay at the door of these untouchables. It is still open to us to be Harijana ourselves, but we can only do so by heartily repenting of our sin against them."
 Young India,6-8-1931

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