Letter to Mahatma Gandhi

by Vladimir Tchertkoff

Editor’s Preface: The prominent religious figure Vladimir Tchertkoff was Tolstoy’s editor in the latter part of Tolstoy’s life. This letter, dated 9 March 1931 is taken from The War Resister: Quarterly News Sheet of the War Resisters’ International, issue XXIX, Summer 1931, and is another in our WRI project. We have also previously posted several articles by Tchertkoff, including unpublished correspondence with Gandhi and a previously unpublished Tolstoy translation. Please consult the Editor’s Note at the end for further biographical information and links. Tchertkoff’s other articles may be accessed via our WRI Project category. JG

Dear Mahatma Gandhi,

Allow me, on behalf of myself and our Moscow friends, to express our deep and heartfelt joy at your liberation from prison. We earnestly desire for you the necessary strength to continue your righteous and great work. May God help India to attain as quickly as possible that emancipation from foreign dominance that she so fervently desires. We yet more desire for you and ourselves the emancipation of everyone, not only from foreign oppression, but particularly from all servitude of man to man, even though it be within the limit of one and the same race; and especially from the last remnants of that superstition that one can [anymore] protect any righteous cause by force of arms or military preparations.

You have done much to help the consciousness of mankind to free itself from this superstition. May God empower your voice to resound ever more distinctly in that direction, so that no one could make use, even indirectly, of any word of yours to justify military action or preparation for it.

We send you our brotherly greetings and hope that while we live, we shall advance unwaveringly together with you in the service of God’s cause vigilantly avoiding all snares that we may meet on our way, especially those which, unperceived by us, creep in on our way and [prevent us from attaining] even the most righteous cause.

With sincere regard and loving friendship,

V. Tchertkoff

Reference: IISG/WRI Archive Box 116p: Folder 1, Subfolder 1.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Vladimir Tchertkoff  (also spelled Chertkov or Tchertkof) was the general editor of the Russian Collected Works of Leo Tolstoy, and one of Tolstoy’s most prominent followers. After the 1917 Revolution Tchertkoff founded the United Council of Religious Communities and Groups, which administered the Russian conscientious objection program. His Wikipedia page provides further biographical detail, and valuable links for further research. See also his correspondence with Gandhi, which we posted here, and can be accessed at this link. With kind permission of WRI/London, and especially Christine Schweitzer, director.

“When planted in the garden, the mustard seed, smallest of all the seeds, became a large tree, and birds came and made their home there.” Luke 13:19

“For me whatever is in the atoms and molecules is in the universe. I believe in the saying that what is in the microcosm of one’s self is reflected in the macrocosm.” M. Gandhi