The Danish Peace Academy


Collected by E. S. Reddy - and Holger Terp

Letter, June 9, 1917

[Miss Faering asked if Europeans did more harm than good to India.]


June 9, 1917

My dear Esther,

As you will have seen from the papers sent to you, I have been to Ranchi, from which place I returned only yesterday to find your letters.

Yours is a difficult question to answer. The total effect of European activity has not been for the good of India. The general body of Europeans who have come to India have succumbed to the vices of the East instead of imposing their own virtues on the East. It could not well be otherwise. Religion has not made a lasting impression on them, as we see demonstrated even by the present war. My theory is that modern civilisation is decidedly anti-Christian. And what Europeans have brought to India is that civilisation, not the life of Jesus. You and a handful of others are striving to represent that life. It is bound to leave its mark upon the soil. But it must take time. “The mills of God grind slowly.” You and people like you are not affected by the evil that stares you in the face. You get behind it, discover the good lying underneath and add it to your own stock, thus producing a perfect blend. What I want is a reciprocity of that method. And so I welcomed your visit to the ashram, as I welcome that of many European friends who are true to their best traditions and are broadminded enough to take in the best that this land has to give. Have I made myself clear? Please discuss this further and freely with me.

I am likely to serve on the Committee the Government are about to appoint. I am presently framing a general note which will give you the details of the visit to Ranchi.26 It was a good thing I went.

Mrs. Gandhi and Devdas27 are here now and so is Polak. Had I been arrested, Mrs. Gandhi and Devdas would have worked among the poor raiyats and heartened them for the struggle. I am most anxious for you to meet Mrs. Gandhi at the earliest moment.

Please don’t think that I am killing myself with work.

With love from us all,



Source:My Dear Child, pages 11-13; Collected Works, Volume 13, pages 439-40

26 He visited Ranchi for discussions with the Lieutenant-Governor of Bihar which led to the setting up of a committee to investigate the grievances of the peasants.

27 Devdas (or Devadas) Gandhi, youngest son of Gandhi.


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