During Mahatma Gandhi’s fast in Delhi in 1924, one of C F Andrews’ students, Ramachandran from Shantiniketan, came to clarify some doubts. When he asked Gandhi if he was against the use of machinery, he replied that he was against the craze of machinery and not against machinery as such. Gandhi further added that machines were stealing jobs from the poor, leading to an unequal distribution of wealth: “The craze is for what they call labor-saving machinery. Men go on ‘saving labor’ till thousands are without work and thrown on the open streets to die of starvation. I want to save time and labor, not for a fraction of mankind, but for all. I want the concentration of wealth, not in the hands of a few, but in the hands of all. Today machinery merely helps a few ride on the backs of millions.”
In the same conversation, Gandhi extolled the virtues of both Jesus and Prophet Muhammad because they strove after Truth, of whose necessary corollary were Beauty and Goodness. The truth that Gandhi was hinting at about the Prophet Muhammad must have been his life-long quest for equality and dignity of human beings, elaborated in Gandhi’s own abhorrence for the accumulation of wealth in a few hands. This was something that the Meccan merchants in Muhammad’s own time have been doing at the expense of the poorer clans.
In Young India in the same year, Gandhi wrote: “I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.”