(Following is the English translation of Hindi speech addressed to a prayer meeting by Mahatma Gandhi on 12 November, 1947. It was the first Diwali of Independent India.)
BROTHERS AND SISTERS,
Today is Diwali and I congratulate all of you on the occasion. It is a great day in the Hindu calendar. According to the Vikram Samvat, New Year begins tomorrow on Thursday. You must understand why Diwali is celebrated every year with illuminations. In the great battle between Rama and Ravana, Rama symbolized the forces of good and Ravana the forces of evil. Rama conquered Ravana and this victory established Ramarajya in India.
But alas ! Today there is no Ramarajya in India. So how can we celebrate Diwali ? Only those who have Rama within can celebrate this victory. For, God alone can illumine our souls and only that light is real light. The bhajan that was sung today emphasizes the poet’s desire to see God. Crowds of people go to see artificial illumination but what we need today is the light of love in our hearts. We must kindle the light of love within. Then only would we deserve congratulations. Today thousands are in acute distress. Can you, everyone of you, lay your hand on your heart and say that every sufferer, whether Hindu, Sikh or Muslim, is your own brother or sister? This is the test for you. Rama and Ravana are symbols of the unending struggle between the forces of good and evil. True light comes from within.
With what a sad heart has Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru returned after seeing wounded Kashmir! He was unable to attend the Working Committee meeting yesterday and also this afternoon. He has brought some flowers from Baramula for me. I always cherish such gifts of nature. But today loot, arson and bloodshed have spoiled the beauty of that lovely land. Jawaharlal had been to Jammu also. There too all is not well.
Sardar Patel had to go to Junagadh at the request of Shri Shamaldas Gandhi and Dhebarbhai who had sought his advice. Both Jinnah and Bhutto are angry because they feel that the Indian Government has deceived them and is pressing Junagadh to accede to the Union.
It is the duty of everyone to banish hatred and suspicion from his heart in order to establish peace and goodwill in the country. If you do not feel the presence of God within you and do not forget your petty internal quarrels, success in Kashmir or Junagadh would prove futile. Diwali cannot be celebrated till you bring back all the Muslims who have fled in fear. Pakistan also would not survive if it does not do likewise with the Hindus and Sikhs who have run away from there.
Tomorrow I shall tell you what I can about the Congress Working Committee. May you and all India be happy in the new year which begins on Thursday. May God illumine your hearts so that you can serve not only each other or India but the whole world.