We have been assured that the law will be annulled, and [the principle of] voluntary registration has been accepted. That this is a victory, everyone will grant. But in this article we want to approach the question from a rather different point of view. On
reflection we find that in this world what people take to be success is in most cases not real success. Sometimes that may signify failure rather than success.
We do not exaggerate when we say this. If someone sets out from home with the intention of committing a robbery, and after much effort gains his end, it may be a success from his point of view. On second thoughts we realize that his success was in fact a defeat for him. If he had failed, that would have been true success. This is an obvious example, for it is easy to understand in this context. There are hundreds of occasions in a man's life when he is unable to distinguish easily between right and wrong. It is therefore difficult to determine whether the achievement of one's aim is truly failure or triumph. It follows from this that success and failure do not essentially depend on the result. Besides, the result is not in one's hands. Whenever success makes a man vain, he behaves like the fly on the wheel which imagines that it is making the wheel go round. Man's duty is to do the best he can in a given situation. What he achieves then will, in fact, be true success. The physician's duty is not to save the patient, for that does not lie in his hands, but to use all his skill in a sincere effort to save him. If he does that, he will have succeeded well enough. What happens to the patient-whether he lives or dies-will not detract from, or add to, the physician's success.
We are certain that, if we could have had the law repealed without much effort, that would have satisfied us. But then there would have been no question of victory or defeat. There would have been no occasion for us to take out a procession [in celebration], neither would the Indians' victory be hailed as it is today the world over. This would suggest that the Indians' victory does not lie so much in the expectations that the law will be annulled as in their exertions to bring about that result. Even if the repeal of the law had not come about, the Indians courage would have been admired in every home. We can call many similar instances to mind. A well-known example occurs to me just now. A handful of Spartans once stood guarding the pass at Thermopylae and defended it against the enemy to the last man. In the end the pass was taken by the enemy. But the world knows today that it was the brave Spartans who won. Even today, if anyone in Europe shows great courage, it is referred to as Spartan courage. As for the Indians,though we cannot claim that they did all they ought to have done, they nevertheless did much. They did exert themselves and to that extent we look upon the result, such as it has been, as a triumph. The Indian community, it must be noted, will have to go on fighting indefinitely in this spirit. For we here want a great many things. We want [to own] land; we want to be free to ride in carriages.
To achieve all this, we shall have to exert ourselves as strenuously as we did on this occasion. If we do, it is easy to see that every step forward is in itself a victory. For we will be doing our duty at every turn. No one will be inflated with success if he looks at it in this light.
He will never make a mistake and will not even be concerned about the outcome of his labours, for he will not assume the responsibility [for the result]. The Creator alone must bear that responsibility. It is there fore sheer ignorance for one to be impatient to do things like the dog [under a moving cart] who fancied he was drawing the cart.
From Gujarati Indian Opinion, 7-3-1908