ENTRY 41 — The Opened Scroll
Excerpt of the Rev. H. Nigel Fox Jr. Travel Journal – Circa 1945
ENTRY 41 — The Opened Scroll
The Viceroy’s other Boundary Force, in the Punjab, was not faring well. Nearly 60,000 soldiers, well trained and equipped, were totally unable to keep the peace.
In Amritsar, Sikhs slaughtered Muslims en masse. Muslim women were violated, then herded, disrobed through the streets. After being thoroughly dehumanised, the frightened women and girls had their throats cut.
In Lahore, things were the worst. Train load after train load of corpses arrived at the station. Each compartment contained a mass of human bodies with an assortment of arms, legs, and other body parts strewn along the corridor.
As a train arrived, a member of the Boundary Force would call out: “You are in Lahore. We are Muslims and Christians. You are safe.” The mound of human carnage would show signs of movement as survivors, many of them children, would make their way out of the piles of decaying flesh, made foul from the humid heat.
The porters at the station were kept busy during the early days of Independence, moving bodies and hosing the blood from the train platforms.
The One-Man Boundary Force
Meanwhile, the miracle of Calcutta continued. People could not believe what was happening as night fell on that first day. Calcutta was at peace. The One-Man Boundary Force on Belighata Road was asleep. Beside the familiar bald head lay no weapons of any kind, only the Scriptures, wire-rimmed spectacles, and a set of false teeth.
Day after day, the tragedy of the Punjab continued. Lahore, at its centre, had descended into chaos. The Muslims cut off the water supply to the Old City’s Hindu section, causing people to go mad from thirst. When the Hindus came out of the Old City to beg for water, they were slaughtered. Other parts of the city were in flames. At the Shah Alami Gate, Sikhs were set on fire and roasted alive; parts of their burned flesh were eaten by the crazed crowds.
The Punjab Boundary Force was at a loss: they were not witnessing a normal war, nor anything that could be considered a military action. What was happening was more a kind of insanity – totally out of control. It was a spontaneous, unpredictable madness that had infected millions of people, causing them to kill one another without rhyme or reason. One day people were friends, the next day they would be murdering each other.
The deaths were quite proportional; it was hard to say who was coming out ahead. At the Punjab Club, most expatriates tended to be of the opinion that the Sikhs were the ‘best killers’ when they were organised. One British officer explained to me quite calmly over a glass of scotch and soda how the Punjab Boundary Force had discovered two Muslim babies roasted like piglets on spits in a small town which had been raided by Sikhs.
Night after night I visited The Punjab Club. When I entered, it felt as though I was stepping into another world: almost all the members of the Punjab Club were ‘European,’ the majority, British; the luxurious furnishings, thick rugs, and well-stocked bar made one almost forget that the British Raj had come to an end. Nonetheless, it was the best place to get ‘up to the minute’ information on what was happening: most of what was being said sounded quite unbelievable.
Next to the violence, a second factor was starting to arise from the chaos. The economy was in a shambles: crops were not being harvested. The Pakistani and Indian societies were falling apart.
Finally, the most serious threat to Lahore was that it was engulfed in the most massive migration of people in recorded history. Muslims were fleeing the violence in India: they came to Lahore on foot, by car, by bicycle, by bullock cart; on anything that would move, they fled. The wretched of the earth arrived by the millions. Cholera, tuberculosis, and malaria were spreading throughout the city. Yet, on the other side of the country, the miracle of Calcutta continued to hold.
Sipping a glass of Coke one evening in The Punjab Club, I overheard some officers from the Boundary Force involved in quite earnest conversation: “I hear the madness of India has spread to Calcutta. The miracle of Calcutta would appear to be over. The Mahatma has started a ‘fast unto the death.'” I was shocked and saddened.
Yet the reports proved to be true. At eleven o’clock the previous night, Hindu fanatics had chased three Muslims to the Mahatma’s simple headquarters. Wakened by the fracas, the Mahatma stood in the doorway while the Muslims hid behind him, beaten and bloody. A blackjack was hurled by someone in the crowd, missing Bapu’s head by inches.
The next day, more Hindu fanatics threw a petrol bomb into a truckload of Muslim day-workers. Bapu rushed to the scene. The charred remains of the Muslims sickened him: he looked like a man who was carrying the grief of the entire world on his shoulders.
That evening, he declined supper. He was lost in prayer and meditation. The One-Man Boundary Force was planning a counter-attack. A bruised reed, he would not break, a smouldering wick, he could not be snuffed out. He was preparing to offer his life to save the people from themselves.
By the way of the world, when one wrongs you, you retaliate. Thus, if one strikes you in the face, you have the right to strike him back. If a man murders your son, you have the right to murder his family. If someone steals something from you, you have the right to take something back. As long as you can demonstrate that your enemy has fallen into sin, you are justified in using all manner of evil against him. It is summed up in the proverb: “an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.”
“The problem is,” Bapu explained, “we mortals are all such sinners that if this rule were applied totally, we would all be condemned. If every sinner ‘deserves everything he gets’ who could stand with absolute honesty and say, ‘I am without sin, therefore you must spare me?'”
His thinking was a total reversal of natural justice. “You have heard it said ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ but I say to you, do not resist any evil person. If someone threatens your life, offer it to him gladly, for whoever loses his life for God’s sake will be saved, while he who tries to save his life through violence will be lost,” explained India’s Messiah. “I tell you to love your enemy and pray for those who do evil to you.”
Such statements shocked and angered many. Once, at a prayer meeting, a Hindu fanatic cried out: “We must destroy our enemies!”
“You are quite right,” replied Bapu, “but you have a choice. You can destroy your enemy by putting a bullet in his heart, or by transforming his heart: making him a friend. Either way your ‘enemy’ is no more. I will admit the latter takes a bit longer, but it is truly more pleasing to God.”
This philosophy was the source of the his great power. He would take the evil of the people on his shoulders; he would offer to die a slow, horrible death by starvation as payment for their sins. He called this soul force. And it was effective.
One of the reporters wrote that when the Mahatma started his fast, “it was as if we were all characters in an H.G. Wells novel and the Mahatma was a giant ray-gun.” As he began to fast, invisible rays of light radiated throughout Calcutta and Bengal, touching the hearts of those who had fallen into darkness. The Viceroy had found the ultimate weapon in his One-Man Boundary Force.
Immediately, calm fell over Calcutta. People speculated on how long a frail, elderly man could live without food. Rumours began to spread that Bapu’s feeble, old body would only hold up to the strain of not eating for a day or two.
Some asked the Viceroy (now GG) and Prime Minister to intervene and stop the fast. They refused, for they believed Bapu’s plan was the only assurance of stopping the insanity. India’s Armed Forces were no more. The other Boundary Force was in disarray. The only hope was radiating from a run-down hovel at 151 Belighata Road.
He was fading quickly. There was blood in his urine, his heart was failing and his voice was barely audible. However, the effect he was having was incredible. A wave of love and forgiveness was sweeping the city. There were peace marches and prayer meetings. The second miracle of Calcutta had begun.
Many came to the Beliaghata house in search of forgiveness from God. “Do not die,” pleaded one husband and wife. “It is we who deserve to die.”
“And what have you done deserving of death?” Bapu whispered.
The woman, with tears welling up in her eyes, told a sad tale of Sikhs killing their two children. “They killed all of our children,” said the Muslim woman, sobbing. “So we have killed many Sikh and Hindu children. For this we are damned.”
The Messiah, wincing at the horror he had just heard, quietly told them, “I have a way out of Hell: find two Sikh children who have been orphaned by this madness and raise them as your own children — but you must raise them to be good Sikhs!”
The Muslim couple, visibly moved, fell at his feet.
Next came nine Hindu goons who had been fire-bombing Muslims. “We are willing to submit to any punishment you ask, if you will end your fast,” they pleaded.
“If you truly repent of your sin, then go to the Muslim neighbourhoods you have terrorised and pledge your lives to their protection.”
“We will,” they said solemnly.
“Then you are forgiven,” he replied.
And so it went all day long. Hundreds were drawn to the Light.
On the third day, the city of Calcutta was at peace with itself, and India’s Saviour ended his fast with some fresh fruit juice.
My dear Mahatma,
In the Punjab we have 55 thousand soldiers and large scale rioting on our hands. In Bengal our forces consist of one man, and there is no rioting. As a serving officer as well as an administrator, may I be allowed to pay my tribute to the One Man Boundary Force.
You should have heard the enthusiastic applause, which greeted the mention of your name in the Constituent Assembly on the 15th of August when all of us were thinking so much of you.
Yours very sincerely,
MOUNTBATTEN OF BURMA
After a couple of days to gain back his strength, the One-Man Boundary Force once again was on the move. Even without its presence, Calcutta remained a bastion of peace and brotherhood. As the Boundary Force moved toward the Punjab, it sustained one victory after another, dispelling the darkness that lay across the subcontinent.
At a New Year’s Eve party held in Lahore, everyone was talking about the miracle of Delhi. At two minutes past midnight, several British soldiers entered the Punjab Club. They were looking for one Harold Nigel Fox!
I was escorted to their headquarters without explanation and seated in a room with a telephone. After an hour or so, it rang; I was truly dumbfounded. On the other end was the Vatican, indeed it was a voice that I recognised immediately. The person spoke slowly and clearly. “The discovery has been made at Qumran.”
“Is it all as it should be?” I asked.
“Quite and more! There is a Parousia Scroll!”
I could not believe my ears! The scroll spoken of in the Book of Daniel had been opened. In a conversation that merely lasted ten minutes, I gathered that the authorities would be slow in releasing these scrolls to the public. After all, these Ancient writings could totally transform Judaism, Christianity and Islam!
It was now essential that I move quickly. A meeting was successfully arranged for the end of month, a feat only accomplished because of my new wife’s connections. I felt as though I had a rendezvous with destiny.