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From the 1972 archives of Swarajya, where Rajaji calls for politics to be replaced with Religion

Nation-wide deterioration in morality is deplored by everyone and plunges all good people in pessimism. Leaders, political workers and important party-men have almost all been affected by the corruption which power breeds. The fear of sin has disappeared and God has become an empty formula, instead of being realised as a sacred reality.

What shall we then do? Shall we sink in despair and somehow live from day to day awaiting calamity? If we do not wish to do this, how shall we proceed to improve the position?

There is no hope of restoring the respect for moral values and the fear of doing wrong unless we revive Religion. Religion is the rock on which progress and prosperity can be built, on nothing else. All plans and projects fail by reason of want of character among the participants. Religion has two aspects, one is the unchallengeable reality of God and dharma. The other is expediency, the realisation that without it no politics can succeed in working out national welfare, or progress or prosperity. Politics without religion, we have seen, only corrupts people at all levels, fast contaminating even the innocent folk in villages.

We cannot reform politics. We must replace it. Religion must be our politics for some time in order to change the tragic situation into one of hope. Just as arbitrary rule was substituted by democracy, we must substitute Religion for politics. We must work for Religion as we worked 50 years ago for Swaraj.

When I say Religion, I mean not this or that religion, but the basic bhaya bhakti preached in all the religions that prevail in India, fear of sin, bhaya and faith in the grace of God, bhakti. It it these two elements that make every religion spiritualise the lives of its followers. What I mean is the positive oneness of all creeds and not the negative “secularism” which has become a common jargon in our politics.

I have no hesitation, therefore, in saying that the various good men and institutions that devote themselves exclusively to the re-instillation in the minds of men and women of the fear of sin and faith in the Supreme Ruler are doing politics of the highest value at the present juncture, redoing the damaged foundations of politics.

Ma Anandamayee was in Madras the other day with her devotees and it was wonderful to note how deeply she impressed men and women who went to have her darshan. There are other institutions and pious men and women who do similar sacred work. They suffer from no want of funds. The native instinct of the people of India goes to their assistance almost unasked.

Let us then realise this— that Religion, the fear of sin and faith in God, is our politics now. Let the corruptions of politics be left alone. They will burn themselves out if we do not add fuel to them.

My proposal may appear strange in the eyes of those steeped in today’s politics and benefit by its corruptions. They may surprised that a seasoned politician that I am makes such a proposal. When non-cooperation was mooted 50 years ago it was thought to be a strange and silly plan by those who greatly benefitted under foreign rule and had got thoroughly used to it. But it proved to be the only way out. My proposal is the only non-violent way out of the incurable corruptions of our present so-called self-rule, self-rule characterised by absence of moral self-rule. We leave a town when it is infected by plague. So must we vacate politics now and go back to it when it becomes safe.