5420Appendix B: Discourses given to political leaders in India in 1942:
The Spiritual Significance of The Present War
Two kinds of forces are operative in the present war — first, the forces which make for love, justice, harmony and the well-being of mankind taken as a whole, and second, the forces which, in alliance with narrow racial or national loyalties, work toward the selfish exploitation of others. This war is bringing vast amounts of suffering and destruction to millions of people. But all this will not be in vain. Out of this chaos there will emerge a new world of freedom and happiness and understanding.
War can at best be only a means to an end; it can never be an end, in itself. It is, therefore, imperatively necessary for the warlords to search their own hearts and to make sure that the ends for which they are fighting are a reflection of the divine plan, which is to lead humanity to a spiritual brotherhood, cemented by an inviolable sense of the unity of all human beings, irrespective of the distinctions based on class, color, nationality, race, religion or creed. War-effort will be justified or stand condemned not by the results which it produces, but by the ends by which it is inspired. The world has to face this war and go through its ordeal of fire, even at the cost of irreparable damage and unredeemable suffering; it is a necessary evil.
Even in itself, war is not an unmixed evil, since it calls forth and releases under the stress of imminent danger much action which is regardless of the limited self and which is inspired by the impersonal spirit of welcoming sacrifice and suffering for the safety and prosperity of fellow-beings. It is better that such unselfish action be released under the stimulus of danger than that it should not be released at all. It is better that men should forget their petty selves under the pressure of a collective calamity than that they should be permanently encased in the ignoble pursuit of personal safety and in the ruthless attempt to perpetuate separative existence and interests. War-effort generates and fosters many qualities of spiritual importance; it is, therefore, not altogether without spiritual significance, even when it is considered in itself. And when war-effort is forced upon a nation or a people for the sake of higher values and impersonal considerations of general well-being, it becomes not only spiritually defensible but inevitable.