'BUCHMAN KI JAI!'
Through the years Buchman kept in touch with Mahatma Gandhi. When he was in London for the 1931 Round Table Conference he came to tea with Buchman at Brown's with his son Devadas. 'Frank realised that my father never carried any money with him, indeed he could not because he was dressed in his dhoti which had no receptacle for it,' Devadas told Michael Barrett years later. 'When we arrived at Brown's Hotel, Frank was waiting on the pavement with the money for the taxi, plus a tip for the driver. After tea he put my father in another taxi and paid the driver the fare to the East End of London plus tip. That is why I always send my car to the airport for him when he passes through India.'
Buchman and Gandhi also conducted a correspondence at various times.* In the main, however, Buchman maintained his touch through mutual friends like Charles F. Andrews and Metropolitan Foss Westcott, and colleagues like Roger Hicks, Bishop West, and the Burmese school-mistress, Ma Nyein Tha, who visited Gandhi in his ashram. On occasion Gandhi made criticisms of Buchman's work. However, Hicks - who spent many years in India and stayed at the ashram for weeks at a time - told Gandhi of the character changes in certain British officials, notably Lionel Jardine, then Revenue Commissioner in the North-West Frontier Province, and the effect of this change in bringing peace between Hindus and Muslims. Hicks writes that when they next met in May 1940, 'Gandhi reminded me of the stories I had told him about Jardine and said that he had had Khan Sahib, the Chief Minister of the Province, investigate them and "they were all true". He considered that this was the most important thing coming out of the West today. ... If men's motives and conduct could be changed, then the chess board was upset and anything could happen. He bade me go and see the Viceroy and tell him that if this spirit prevailed India and Britain would be able to come to terms at once.'1
(* This correspondence is referred to in other papers, but is lost.)
Buchman had a natural sympathy with the newly independent countries of Asia, and in 1952 he accepted invitations to take an international team to India, Ceylon and Pakistan. The Indian invitation had come in September 1950 from eighteen distinguished personalities headed by G. L. Nanda, by then Minister of Planning in Delhi.* The Prime Minister of Ceylon, Dudley Senanayake, and members of his government and the opposition had sent a similar invitation, and Pakistani ministers had repeated one given to Buchman personally by Mohammad Ali Jinnah - and accepted by him - during the Independence talks in London.
(* Others on the invitation committee included R. K. Patil and G. L. Mehta, members of the National Planning Commission; Khandubhai Desai, President of the Indian National Trade Union Congress; Sir Lakhshmanaswami Mudaliar, Vice-Chancellor of Madras University; Dr B. C. Roy, Chief Minister of West Bengal; K. M. Patnaik, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Orissa; Dr Sampuranand, Minister of Education in the United Provinces; A. N. Sinha, Minister of Labour in Bihar; J. R. D. Tata, Chairman of Tata Industries.)
Just when Buchman's acceptance of these invitations became known to his colleagues is not easy to ascertain. At any rate, news leaked out at Caux during August 1952 that Buchman intended to leave on 10 October. Meanwhile, discussions had been going on with various Indian 'experts' about the scale of the venture. Some suggested to Buchman that a couple of dozen people were the most who could be accommodated. Hicks, returning from two years on the sub-continent, advocated fifty, and received the reply, 'We're taking two hundred people and five plays.' In the event, only three MRA plays were taken, but these involved eight tons of equipment.
Things now began to happen fast. KLM offered a DC6, and the Dutch who were at Caux pledged the charter fare. The first planeload became largely a matter of 'spokesmen' and advance stage crew, and people who could answer in the affirmative the question, 'Have you been inoculated and can you leave on Saturday?' Thirty-five nations were represented.
The night before leaving Buchman gave a dinner party for the workers employed at Caux and their wives - masons, plasterers and cleaners - together with the postman, the station-master and an Egyptian cabinet minister who was still there. 'Buchman's speech characteristic,' Morris Martin noted. 'Humour, appreciation of the workers, more humour, the world outreach from Caux, plus a measure of personal challenge and leg-pulling.' Then he announced that he was giving presents to 'the good children', who turned out to be four recently married couples among his full-time workers. After that he called for 'the soon marrieds'. This provoked even more enthusiasm, as two couples had become engaged that day. Then Buchman said another couple were in the offing but that 'the young man is still upstairs proposing'. When the beaming pair arrived the applause was terrific.2
It had been a long day, full of decisions and ending after midnight, but Buchman left his room for the airport at 6.30 next morning. On the way to the front door, he suddenly exclaimed, 'Clutterbuck. He's coming this week. Don't forget Clutterbuck!' Speedy detective work revealed that he meant a Mr Puttkammer from Mackinac Island, and the car moved off.
The first stop was Cairo. At the airport Buchman was met by an official who said that the Prime Minister, General Neguib, would like to receive him at 8.30 that evening. Meanwhile Dr Abdel Khalek Hassouna, former Foreign Minister and later Secretary General of the Arab League, called on Buchman in the hour between returning from Gaza and flying on to the United Nations in New York.
Neguib was anxious to hear the recent news of Moral Re-Armament. After half an hour he asked, 'Will you do me the honour of dining with me? If it is more convenient for you, I will arrange it at your hotel.' So began a long evening during which the General met many of Buchman's colleagues. After dinner he asked, 'What would you do, Dr Buchman, about a small boy who is not a problem child but has lots of vitality and doesn't like books - and I want him to like books?'
'Let him read the books he wants, not the ones you think he ought to read,' replied Buchman. 'You must get his interest. Then get him to change others. The average boy doesn't have enough to do. Don't do things for him. Shoot him out into the lives of others. I've got a Foreign Minister's* son with me. His father runs NATO, but he had difficulty in running his son.' At this Neguib threw his head back and gave a loud guffaw. Next morning he was at the airport at 8.00 to see Buchman off.
(* Ole Bjørn Kraft, Foreign Minister of Denmark, Chairman of NATO 1952-3.)
Once more it had been a long day for one whose health was as precariously balanced as Buchman's. Some days that summer he had been recorded by Campbell as 'full of energy'. On others he could only lie in bed, and Campbell had diagnosed 'a danger of heart failure whenever he is not lying down'. Two days before he left Caux a woman cleaning his sitting-room had heard him saying aloud next door, 'Lord, I can't do it. I can't do it.' Jim Baynard-Smith, a former army officer and ADC to the Governor of Sudan, who began his five-year stint of caring for Buchman's personal needs on this trip, was astonished at his resilience. 'Sometimes he seemed completely done for,' he says, 'but two hours later he suddenly revived. I think it had something to do with his liking people.' 'Unlike some of us', Baynard-Smith added, 'he never just retired into himself when he was tired. He had the sense to go to bed. He would say, "Oh, you fellows must do it. You've got the energy. I hate like sin to go to bed, but I'm going."'
After a quiet night in Karachi the party landed in Colombo to an airport welcome. Buchman and Baynard-Smith found that they were being cared for at their hotel by the bearer who had always looked after Baynard- Smith's father when he visited Colombo from his tea plantation. From the talk which ensued Buchman conceived the idea of going into the hills to visit the holy city of Kandy and to meet the Baynard-Smiths' planter friends. Their way of life interested and amused him. 'If they had real morning risers, they'd have fewer sundowners,' he commented. He also saw their quality and potential. 'Nothing would have greater power here than a humble Englishman who admitted his mistakes,' he added. After four days he returned, relaxed if a little dilapidated-looking, announcing that he had begun to get the feel of the country.
His team, meanwhile, were entering into Colombo life at many levels, from the Stalinist and Trotskyite factions in the dockers' unions to the dignitaries of the invitation committee. They told Buchman on his return, however, that the plays were to be given in the Young Men's Buddhist Association Hall although the best place would have been the Regal Theatre, now a cinema and booked solid. '"Dear Lord and shall we ever live at this poor dying rate!"' exploded Buchman. 'Things must be best, absolute best, BEST!' A party was despatched to find the heavyweights of the invitation committee, who were all discovered at Sir John Kotelawala's birthday party. A letter from them secured the release of the cinema - at a price. They were left haggling about it with the manager, while Buchman rejoiced that they were now getting into action. Surya Sena, the well- known singer of Sinhalese folk music, who was secretary of the invitation committee, had earlier told Buchman of the committee's plan to charge from 3 to 20 rupees for seats at the plays. 'No, no,' Buchman had replied. 'There will be no charge anywhere in the theatre... I've not come to Asia to get but to give.'
'How on earth can we meet the expenses of two hundred people for ten days?' protested Surya.
'The Lord will provide,' said Buchman, and, in his autobiography, Surya Sena notes, 'Every cent of expense was met.'3
The plays themselves - The Forgotten Factor, Jotham Valley and Annie the Valiant* — were put on in repertory, and were an enormous success. The Prime Minister and six of the cabinet, with forty-three MPs and diplomats to match, came on the first night. The populace besieged the theatre, one man walking twenty-six miles and queueing six hours in hot sun to get in. Every seat was taken, and the police estimated that 500 stood in the aisles and at the back for each performance. No one was turned away.
(* A play about the life of Annie Jaeger.)
The talk of the hour was the barter agreement just negotiated by the Minister of Trade, R. G. Senanayake - known as 'China Dick' - whereby Ceylon was to exchange her rubber for Chinese rice. Ceylon had always been an exporter, not an importer, of rice. But rice lands had been put down to more profitable crops like tea and rubber, and besides, to save labour, rice seed was being broadcast instead of planted in the old way, thus sometimes reducing the crop to around a quarter of the old yield.
One day the Minister of Food invited Buchman to see a demonstration of the old method by a thousand women in the lush green paddy fields sixty miles out of town. Buchman took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his trousers and planted the first shoot - for him a painful exercise. Paul Kurowski, the German miner, and many of the other visitors followed suit. When asked to address the workers Buchman said, 'What you are doing today is most significant. There is enough rice in the world for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed.* And there is another great truth I want to utter. If everyone cares enough and everyone shares enough, won't everyone have enough?'
(* This phrase has been widely attributed to Gandhi. In fact, it appeared first in Buchman's East Ham Town Hall speech on 4 June 1938.)
The Prime Minister gave a reception in the garden of his residence, Temple Trees, and Kotelawala, who was soon to succeed him, did likewise. The sessions of the conference with which the visit ended were attended by cabinet ministers, opposition leaders, diplomats from East and West, Buddhist priests, Christian missionaries, tea-planters and workers, dockers and the dock superintendent, school children - a lively and unpredictable mixture. In Bombay Buchman received a cable from the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, expressing 'deep gratitude'. 'We feel the hour calls for the continuance of this work in Asia in the interests of unity, security and peace,' it said.4 But the message which pleased him most was from 'China Dick', who said, 'You have definitely brought an easing of the tension, even in the Cabinet.'5
The voyage to Bombay was a blissful rest, especially for the stage crew who had been working for forty-eight hours virtually without sleep. But it was not all holiday. The first evening Buchman said to one of the chorus, 'On our last night at sea we will give a concert for everyone,' and seemed surprised when it was pointed out that tomorrow would be the last night. However, the concert took place, preceded by a reiteration of the health rules for the trip. No fruit must be eaten unless protected by a skin, and no salads at all. Other precautions clearly stemmed back to Buchman's Indian experience thirty years before: everyone had to wear a topee - and a belly-band. 'That goes for you too, Emily,' interjected Buchman, pointing to the venerable Mrs John Henry Hammond, née Vanderbilt. Buchman's science may have been somewhat outdated, but at the end of the eight-month tour the group of two hundred had travelled the length and breadth of the sub-continent with hardly any serious illness.
As the SS Strathmara steamed into Bombay harbour a large notice, 'Welcome! MRA Reception', became visible, and standing below it could be seen the Mayor of Bombay and most of the Bombay inviting committee. On the day after arrival a two-hour press conference resolved itself into a violent debate on Moral Re-Armament between the journalists present, with Buchman, according to his secretary, 'in one of his smiling, silent frames of mind, sitting happily in the cross-fire'.6
The opinions being expressed mirrored India's condition, five years after Independence and four since Gandhi's assassination. The unity achieved in the freedom struggle and around the personality of Gandhi had disappeared, and the spirit of Gandhism was waning. Nehru was his political heir; but no one had inherited his moral mantle. A Congress Party leader told Buchman, 'We have not ten men in Parliament with the old idealism. Independence hasn't solved our problems. No one wants to go back, but we don't know how to go forward.' Communism had attracted many intellectuals, if only because it was what those they considered their age-old exploiters disliked most: some wrote off Buchman and his colleagues as 'anti-Communists', others simply felt opposed to all 'Western ideas', good or bad.
Buchman gave his views in private: 'In a materialist ideology the ultimate authority is a man or a party line, a human will, and the ultimate basis for change is force. In a moral ideology the ultimate authority is God's will and the basis for change is consent.' But at this press conference he said little, because he felt that, at that moment, only the plays he had brought could convey what he wanted to say to Indian hearts and minds. The first night of Jotham Valley started the ball rolling. Morarji Desai, then Chief Minister of Bombay State, surprised everyone by admitting from the stage after it that he had seen a likeness between himself and the self-righteous elder brother in the play. Next day a journalist, who had been violently critical of him, thanked him and asked if they could meet.
Socialists like J. P. Narayan, who had separated from Gandhi to follow a Marxist path but were now looking for new ideas, talked at length with the visitors. In co-operation with Socialist trades union leaders like Purshottam Tricumdas, the founder of the Socialist Party, and Congress-inclined unions like H. N. Trivedi's cement workers, they called huge meetings to hear Buchman and other speakers.
After four weeks of plays and meetings, S. A. Sabavala reflected in the Bombay Chronicle, 'So far no one has tried to analyse the reasons for the very obvious resentment to its (MRA's) simple philosophy. We pride ourselves as the sons of Mahatma Gandhi, the man who lived the teachings of Christ and the Buddha. Since Independence we have developed a superiority complex about our spiritualism and an exalted sense and understanding of non-materialistic values. Now along comes a band of men and women, non-Indians, who are practising what we preach. They are encroaching on what we thought was our exclusive preserve and many of us do not like this at all. I think much of the hostility and exhibition of bad manners at Dr Buchman's press conference springs from this particular resentment . .. The truth is that we, the heirs of Gandhi, are a little ashamed that others are doing what he told us to do and which we say we are doing ... I think MRA will catch on in post-freedom India. It represents a challenge just as Gandhiji did many years ago.'7
Not everyone agreed with Sabavala. In particular, the widely circulated far-left weekly, Blitz, carried adverse reports of the whole tour. Nevertheless, the departure from Bombay came near to an ovation. Crowds blocked the railway platform and groups from three trade unions - dockers, cement workers and textile workers - arrived with banners and loud cries of 'Buchman ki jai!' Garlands multiplied. Many called for the international chorus to sing the national anthem, as they had done in the theatre each night. Buchman was moved to tears: 'They are a great people. Some of them said, "God be with you." I thought, "If that can be a reality, then India could lead the nations."'
Many superlatives were to come Buchman's way during this tour. The Ceylon Minister to the United Nations classed his visit as of equal importance to the coming of Independence, while the Thai Ambassador referred to him as a 'second Buddha'. 'When the history of the century is written, we will think of FDR, of Stalin, of Churchill, Hitler, Mussolini, Gandhi,' declared the President of the Bombay Rotary Club. 'But if the creed of "what is right and not who is right" should succeed in permanency, then we shall see Frank Buchman's name there.'8
Buchman was not unduly impressed. At one point he dictated these thoughts to Baynard-Smith: 'Be calm, prudent, not caring what men say nor held in their wiles by their ill-considered praise. Be a simple man of God, and then God will love you. A loyal band about you. Ties of deep affection. Willing to give their all, or will be as you work together.'
One of his main personal sources of poise throughout the tour was old hymns, which Baynard-Smith would hear him repeating to himself again and again. 'Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling'; 'Jesus, I my cross have taken'; 'Jesus, lover of my soul'; 'At the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the light...'; 'Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed, and yet in love He sought me...'; '0 for a passionate passion for souls'; and many more. At bedtime, he often repeated, 'Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee; Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shalt be.'
The cavalcade proceeded to Delhi via Ahmedabad and Agra. In Ahmedabad they visited Gandhi's ashram and were entertained by officials of the textile union he had founded; at Agra they saw the Taj Mahal by moonlight. While an Indian train journey was a new experience for most, Buchman enjoyed this renewed view of an ageless land after twenty-six years' absence. On arrival in Delhi he gave 100 rupees to his sleeping car attendant. When an old India hand in the party protested that this was far too much, he replied testily, 'He looked after me. I'm looking after him.'
In recent weeks his thoughts had turned more and more to Pandit Nehru. Nehru relates in his autobiography that Buchman gave him a book - it was Begbie's Life Changers - when they first met at Belgaum in 1924 and that he read it 'with amazement' as the 'sudden conversions and confessions...seemed to me to go ill with intellectuality'.9 They met again eighteen months later in Switzerland, where Nehru had brought his wife for her health and where he was taking the chance to view Indian politics in a wider setting, a process which led to his adoption of his own particular brand of Marxism. 'I had long been drawn to socialism and communism,' he writes.'...While the rest of the world was in the grip of the depression and going backward in some ways, in the Soviet country a great new world was being built up before our eyes...Russia apart, the theory and philosophy of Marxism lightened up many a dark corner of my mind.'10
In the middle of this process Buchman invited him to a house-party in Holland, and Nehru wrote regretting that he could not leave his wife to attend. He said that he had been 'very interested' in Life Changers: 'I well remember the description in the book of the weekend in Cambridge. At the time I did not quite appreciate the significance of the sudden changes brought about in the lives of individuals ... I can understand the value of absolute frankness...But somehow the idea of faith cures does not appeal to me much...And this is so in spite of the fact that Mr Gandhi, for whom I have great respect, lays the greatest stress on faith. Perhaps my early scientific training as well as the general irreverence of the modern age are partly responsible for this.'
'I am still obsessed by the Indian problem,' Nehru went on, 'both in its narrower nationalistic aspect and in its relation to the rest of the world, but doubts arise and no obvious solution seems to one (sic). I welcomed therefore the chance of withdrawing for a while from an active participation in public movements and looking at them if possible from the view point of an outsider. And now, far from India, many questions occur to me - of the general drift of western culture and civilisation, of industrialism and the like - and there are few answers. But the question which affects and troubles me more than any other,' he added, 'is: what is my duty to India and how can I serve her best and reconcile that duty with my other responsibilities.'
Of the weekend in Holland he wrote, 'I feel very much tempted to come. I am not at all sure that I shall be helpful in the friendly discussions and talks that will take place there, but the company of earnest and thoughtful people is always attractive and so I should like to come. I am tied up here for some time and cannot leave my wife. But later I may be able to do so.'11
In September 1926 the two men met for lunch in Geneva at Nehru's request, with the Swedish Archbishop Söderblom as an unlikely third, clearly included by Buchman. Nehru and Buchman lunched once more together, this time after his wife's death in 1936. 'He has had a sad life,' Buchman often said of him.
Nehru had been consulted about the present visit. He had gone through the original invitation committee with Hicks, eliminating six whom he thought too close to the administration but leaving his Minister of Planning, G. L. Nanda. He had sent a message that he looked forward to seeing Buchman again, and had assigned Jaipur House, the former home of the Maharajahs of Jaipur, as a base for Buchman's force while in Delhi. His attitude was polite, even generous, rather than enthusiastic.
Buchman, according to Baynard-Smith, seems to have felt that he had in some way failed Nehru during their earlier meetings. Now he had another chance, and he would not have been Buchman if his expectations had been anything but high. 'Nehru will realise that this philosophy is his best bet', 'Nehru will turn to you more and more' and 'Nehru sees the importance of this work' are the kind of phrases which recur in the notes he dictated. At the same time, he felt he should make no approach to the Prime Minister. 'Make haste slowly...He will come your way.'
On their first day in Delhi Buchman and his full team laid a wreath at Raj Ghat, the place where Gandhi was cremated, and later Buchman addressed a large number of Members of both Houses of Parliament presided over by the Deputy Speaker. He was also officially welcomed by the city. Then he was content to rest until the plays had done their work. As in Bombay the crowds were large and enthusiastic. A Cabinet Minister arrived to find his seat taken. An usher spoke strong words to the occupant, who replied, 'Who do you think I am? I'm a Minister too!' Both were fitted in somehow.
Soon invitations were reaching Buchman thick and fast. President Rajendra Prasad, an old colleague of Gandhi, received him and his team at the former Viceregal Palace where this simple man, by virtue of his office, had to live. His face lit up when he heard of the times spent with workers in Bombay, Ahmedabad and elsewhere. 'Ah, you are taking it to the people,' he said.
Another day the Vice-President (later President) Dr S. Radhakrishnan had Buchman to tea. He had known something of Buchman's work from his time as Professor of Oriental Religion and Philosophy at Oxford. Later he had been Ambassador in Moscow, and now he asked Buchman how Communists could be changed. On his farewell visit to Stalin, he related, he had told the dictator about the Indian Emperor Asoka who, after wading through blood to his throne, had renounced war and promoted religion and was now much revered throughout Asia, It was an example, he had suggested, which other dictators might follow. 'Well, I spent five years at a theological seminary,' replied Stalin. 'It might happen, but I don't think so.'*
(* In 1951, a Los Angeles Evening Herald Express reporter asked Buchman if he could change Stalin. 'I couldn't,' replied Buchman. 'But God could.') (13 March 1951.)
At a function presided over by India's President, to celebrate the nineteenth centenary of the arrival of St Thomas in India, Buchman was offered a seat at the front with the diplomats and other dignitaries. He chose instead a seat in the fifth row. Nehru spotted Buchman and went to spend several minutes talking with him before joining the platform party. At the end of the occasion the person Buchman singled out to talk to was John R. Mott, his old friend and mentor.
Nehru suggested that he might come to tea with Buchman at Jaipur House on 3 January. Buchman took great care in planning the occasion so that Nehru should meet those who would be of most interest to him, and also so that he should feel treated not as a public figure but as a human being. He talked for half an hour with Buchman, and was then much moved when the chorus sang the national anthem and other songs. After their 'Song of India' there was a long silence and those near the Prime Minister noticed that there were tears in his eyes. Buchman was delighted with the occasion. 'We did the unusual and no one asked him to speak,' he said. Nehru told his sister, Mrs Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, how much he had enjoyed the afternoon. He had, too, been represented earlier at a ceremony in New Delhi when the German Minister had presented Buchman with the Grand Cross of his country's Order of Merit. But there was scant sign that the Prime Minister was turning to Buchman in the way he had hoped.
Christmas was a busy time. Each night, including Christmas Day, a play was given and, beforehand, the most varied dinner parties took place at Jaipur House. The chorus - many of whom had to combine singing to the guests with changing in time to take part in the play - sang carols, closing with an exquisite tableau of the Mother and Child. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists sat spell-bound. 'I used to think of Christmas as a drunken orgy,' one distinguished Indian told the Austins. 'I begin to understand what it is all about.'12
On 6 January Radio Tashkent, beamed to India and Pakistan, fired the first in a series of Soviet broadsides against Buchman's tour of India. It was followed on 8 January by a prominently displayed article in Pravda, under a Delhi dateline, and a talk on Moscow Radio's home service entitled 'Buchmanism is the Ideological Weapon of the Warmongers'. Next day the same commentator, Georgi Arbatov, repeated his allegations on Moscow Radio's overseas service. The four reports covered similar ground - the 'Hitlerite' Buchman and his colleagues aimed to 'penetrate into the sphere of India's political life' on behalf of 'American imperialism'. Moral Re-Armament's financial backers, according to the 9 January broadcast, were 'kept a secret' but were known to include Firestone, Rockefeller, the Los Angeles Times, the 'US West Coast Shipping Company and other representatives of the US monopolistic capital'.
Arbatov's home service broadcast was a revised repeat of a talk he had given on the same station on 21 November 1952, stimulated by the publication of Peter Howard's book The World Rebuilt the year before. Arbatov described Moral Re-Armament as 'a universal ideology' and quoted a statement that 'it has the power to attract radical revolutionary minds'. 'Moral Re-Armament', he said, 'supplants the inevitable class war by the "permanent struggle between good and evil"...Moral Re- Armament, in addition to building bridgeheads on each continent and training cadres who would be capable of spreading the Buchmanite ideology among the masses, has now started on its decisive task, the total expansion of Buchmanism throughout the world.' In this revised version he added a description of the current Indian visit. 'The American press in India has raised a great to-do, glamourising Buchman and propagating his ideas,' Arbatov remarked, while the 'Indian democratic press', in which connection he quoted Blitz, 'reacted differently'.
This attack had, at first, little impact. The musical Jotham Valley was given for 20,000 party workers at the All-India Congress Party Conference at Hyderabad, as they prepared for their public meetings of 200,000. The Nizam of Hyderabad sponsored a special showing solely for his family, household and government. His Chief Minister, who was host to the visitors, invited some to stay on to cope with the interest among his people.
In Madras students picketed the theatre with placards and leaflets, using slogans taken direct from the Tashkent and Moscow talks and linking Moral Re-Armament with 'monopoly capitalists like Rockefeller, Henry Ford and Paul Hoffman' and 'enemies of the European working-class like Léon Blum, Kurt Schumacher and Giuseppe Saragat', then the Democratic Socialist leaders in France, Germany and Italy respectively. But the general enthusiasm about the plays soon lured the protesters inside the theatre and the agitation faded away.
Here in the South, Communism had many adherents in the universities and elsewhere. Neither Christianity - which was stronger here than elsewhere in India - nor Gandhism, as they had been lived out, seemed to be providing an adequate alternative.
One afternoon Buchman asked a prominent Gandhian, 'What would Gandhi say to the South being gripped by an ideology foreign to India?'
The Gandhian replied, 'Gandhi's sentiments are slowly dying. It has become an individualistic thing, not a social factor any more. Gandhi fought for the oppressed, the poor, the frustrated. But after he went, things have changed. There are new problems and we haven't found new answers.'
'Maybe you'll have to get down to the real trouble,' said Buchman. 'You will have to create a lot of men who will live what Gandhi lived, and you may have to be one of them.'
The Gandhian's reply was honest. 'I lived and worked with Gandhi for thirty years, but I never wanted to be left alone with him,' he said. 'I ran away from him. I clasped my weakness to myself because I did not want it to be taken away from me.'
The public interest in Madras was so overwhelming that no theatre was large enough, and the city's film industry took over. First one and then another company provided space to put on the plays. Finally, the Vahini studio constructed the largest stage in India for them. On the final day three performances had to be given to accommodate the crowds. By now Buchman had decided that his force must stay longer on the sub-continent, and wires went off to Burma, Thailand and Japan cancelling any immediate visit.
Phyllis Austin had one particularly vivid memory from the time in Madras. She was walking down a hotel corridor with Buchman, the corridor so long and the heat so intense that it was almost too much for him. 'Out of one of the rooms came a bedraggled, bent old sweeper, an "untouchable". Frank bowed low, took off his hat and said, with great warmth of feeling, "So nice, so nice to meet you." The old man was startled, then looked at Frank, who obviously meant what he said. The man hesitated, then drew himself up till he stood quite straight, and a big smile spread over his face. Suddenly he seemed for one moment to regain his dignity.'
Buchman summed up his hopes for India in a New Year message, widely published: 'Men are hungry for bread, for peace, and for the hope of a new world order. Before a God-led unity every last problem will be solved. Hands will be filled with work, stomachs with food and empty hearts with an ideology that really satisfies.'13
In Calcutta, perhaps more than in any other city, the contrast of rich and poor and the clash of class war were strongly apparent. The labour men and the group of employers travelling with Buchman found their way into the homes of labour leaders, some not long back from Moscow or Peking. Rajani Mukherjee, Vice-President of the West Bengal Socialist Trade Unions Congress (Hind Mazdoor Sabha), commented, 'Asian workers have been suspicious of the West. Moral Re-Armament does not come from the West to the East, nor from the East to the West. It comes from man to man. When I saw your plays, I thought, "You are not against Communism or any other 'isms'. You are way beyond Communism. You are reassessing Marxism in relation to modern problems and moral values."'14
One day in Calcutta Buchman was sitting listening to God with a largish group, when an unknown man came in and sat down at the back. After some minutes Buchman said, 'The only thought I had was, "Stop stealing." I don't know what that means. It may mean my watch that someone stole the other day. It may refer to myself, though it is some years since I stole anything. I just don't know what it means.' At this point the unknown man slipped out. 'Who was that?' asked Buchman. No one knew. Next day, however, he returned. He was a rich Marwari business man. 'I am amazed how Buchman knew my problem,' he said. 'I have been cheating on my taxes for years.' He had sent a cheque to the tax department for many thousands of rupees that morning. Later he had Buchman and two hundred of his colleagues to meet a group of business men whom he told that he had decided to be honest in future.15
Buchman went from Calcutta to Darjeeling to see Metropolitan Foss Westcott's grave at St Paul's School, 800 feet above the town. He told the boys there, 'I am thinking about the Metro. He used to sit in the Bishop's chair, but he had one of these little black books. He listened every morning ... He had a big house, but he lived up in that little hut on the roof. It was in his house I met Gandhi. One met everybody there.'
'At seventeen I was a rascal,' he continued. 'I had all sorts of problems ... I used to go to a chapel like this. A good old fellow, the salt of the earth, used to preach, but he never touched my problems. And school is the time when you meet your problems . . . Did you cheat at school? I did. I got caught once. I used to take money, too, and buy candy for the girls. I was always thoughtful for other people!' His audience were enthralled.
The following weekend he was asked to return to unveil a bust of Westcott and again spent time talking to the boys. This time he told them about his own experience of change – the resentment which had driven him to Europe, the discovery in the small chapel in Keswick: ‘I had never experienced the Cross. It just didn't mean anything to me. I had seven people I didn't like. But in this chapel I actually saw Christ on the Cross. It was a vision. I left that place a different man.' He then asked one of the boys to read the inscription on the memorial tablet to Westcott. On it are the words, 'A great saint, yet the friend of sinners and loved by so many of them.' 'That's the important thing to me,' said Buchman. 'And if you want to put something on my tombstone I hope it will be something like this: "Here's one who understood." '16
Back in Calcutta Foss Westcott's successor, Metropolitan Mukerjee, summed up the visit there: 'If even a hundred British in India had lived out their Christianity as these people do, India would have been a very different country.'17
A journey to Kashmir to rest the team in the cool after six months' intensely hard work was greatly appreciated. However, after ten days the local demand for the plays became irresistible, and Buchman decided to give way. Kashmir was one of the main bones of contention between India and Pakistan, an important and an intensely sensitive area. The Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah - a Muslim who had sided with Gandhi on national issues and who was partly responsible for Kashmir adhering to India instead of Pakistan at Independence - came to the plays and meetings, one after the other, at first on the insistence of his two sons. One of them made a deep impression upon him by admitting that it had been he who had led a student strike when his father was Minister of Education. Sheikh Abdullah told Buchman, 'You have here the answer for India and Pakistan. It takes patience. I saw the answer in the plays, and it is God.' His wife added, 'When I saw the plays, I knew the Spirit of God was there. It is something you don't run into much in the world today, and we are grateful.'
The time came to move on to Pakistan, a journey only possible then by going back via Amritsar and that with difficulty, as no large group of foreigners had made it since Partition. Most of the party of 150 took off by a round-about surface route for Karachi, while Buchman flew with an advance party of five, stopping in Delhi en route. 'It was heartening,' records a contemporary diary, 'to be met by many new faces, mostly students who had changed in recent weeks, and including a member of the staff of Nehru who, ever curious, had questioned him about his change for so long that he was half-an-hour late for Parliament.'18
One of these students remembered, years later, the impression Buchman made on him: 'The first time I saw him it was winter in Delhi. He was wearing a tweed suit and a red and black striped tie. He was walking with a stick and had a flabby, round face, and I thought he was a total dud and wondered how the hell he got these people to do all these things for him. The second time I saw him was after a meeting. I didn't know he was there - he was sitting at the back. "Oh, I remember you," he said - and there was something in his eyes which was challenging and penetrating and straight. Then I went to see him off from the airport. He took hold of my hand and said, "India is a great country. Keep at it. You will be greatly used. God bless you." And I knew that man was trying to convey something to me, and almost praying that it would penetrate into my heart. He was not a man of words - that left a deep impression on me - but a man who wanted to go beyond words to something far deeper in my soul and spirit.'
The visit to Pakistan was in fulfilment of the promise which Buchman had made to Mohammed Ali Jinnah in December 1946. The London talks over Independence had deadlocked. Jinnah and all his delegation went to see The Forgotten Factor. The portrayal of the tough employer as a man who 'would not budge' tickled him and he laughed loudly - the first time, his companions commented, that they had even seen him smile since arriving in London. At supper afterwards he urged Buchman to bring the play to Pakistan as soon as the nation was created. 'It shows the answer to the hates of the world,' he said. 'Honest apology - that is the golden key.' 'But who will put that key into the lock of history and open the gates of the future?' commented Buchman later. Neither Jinnah, Nehru, nor the British did so on this occasion. The Scotland Yard man attached to Jinnah told Buchman, 'The Viceroy, Nehru and Jinnah should have seen this play the first night they were in London!'19
Standing now in front of Jinnah's tomb, Buchman repeated Jinnah's words to him in London seven years before and recalled their first meeting in 1924 at Belgaum. 'May Pakistan rise and live as an answer,' was his prayer. Later, dining with the Cabinet, he found himself seated next to a son-in-law of another of his Belgaum acquaintances, one of the Ali brothers, and told him of his conversation with Lord Reading about them.
Buchman went on to Teheran, leaving the plays to be shown in Karachi. He had been invited there by another earlier guest at Caux, Dr Matine-Daftary, the son-in-law of Prime Minister Mossadegh. More than half of Buchman's party were British, and tension over Mossadegh's nationalization of the Persian oilfields was high between the two countries; but an assurance was given that, if they came with Buchman, the British would be welcomed as government guests. Mossadegh and Buchman met, both in high spirits, each surprised and relieved to find the other unlike the press reports. Buchman told a series of stories of difficult people who had become different and, with Mossadegh's son standing by, included among them tales of difficult fathers and sons.
'How do you get these results?' said Mossadegh. 'I hope you won't have the same difficulty with me.'
Buchman told him one more story - and ended up, 'That's all I do. You see, I do simple things, but that is what the world needs.'20
It may be worthwhile, in attempting to understand Buchman, to transcribe more fully here some of the thoughts that he called Baynard-Smith to write down during the nights in India, and try to see what they consisted of.
During one of the first nights in Bombay, Buchman dictated, 'You will be guided beyond your wildest dreams. God has a unique part for you and your work in India. The tops of a thousand hills are yours. India politically will have a large place in the future.'
Shortly before going to Delhi, he dictated, 'I will lead you forth in Delhi as I led you years ago, and I will work through you mightily. My will and way, not yours. Men will know it is the will of God and not any work. I am going to speak to you. Make no moves with Nehru. He will come to you. Alone in the mountains, away from others, I will give you the mighty secret that will win India back to her rightful place. Be alert, sympathetic, constant. Greater days are yours.'
On another occasion, later on: 'You are needed in India. You can create an organism here which will decide the future of the world. Keep close to Delhi and Nehru...He will commit his strong right arm. He will come your way...He will select his own plan. The days in Hyderabad will be monumental. Stay in the background but you will be in the foreground, too. Stay in this country for the present. Strifes and rumours of wars. Your team has the skill to meet the situation…Build up constructive personalities who can handle the situation everywhere…Lucknow will help. The Munshis will be great assets…You will not go to Burma now. No Japan this year. It will resound to Japan from Delhi.’
On the morning of his interview with President Prasad he dictated, 'The President is as worried as anybody that Gandhiji's philosophy will not be carried out and will grasp eagerly at what we can give.'
What are we to think of such thoughts, written down in the night some decades ago?
I asked Michael Barrett once about the seemingly fantastic ideas which he wrote down for Buchman on such occasions. What were their purpose? 'Assurance,' he replied, and, indeed, many of those large visions could have come to him - or have welled up from within him - to give him courage to tackle the immense tasks he had taken on with such meagre resources. Also, perhaps, they were thoughts emerging through the spirit of an American bred in the era of expansion, a man who, in Loudon Hamilton's words, 'had not a negative bone in his body'. They were an indication of attitude rather than action; and when it came to action, the tests of common sense and spiritual integrity were there to be applied. Baynard-Smith's summary of Buchman's attitude in India is 'a persistent search for the will of God'.
Clearly, in the passages quoted above, there are many unfulfilled promises, or hopes. On the one hand the President of India was concerned in exactly the way Buchman foresaw and, after their interview, was a friend of Moral Re-Armament to the day of his death. The Munshis were a great help and kept in touch through the years. And Moral Re-Armament has, ever since, had a permanent place in India, represented more particularly by the outreach of the conference centre built at Panchgani, near Pune. On the other hand, 'an organism which will decide the future of the world' did not become visible in India. Nor did Nehru 'turn more and more' to Buchman.
On the last point, however, it is arguable that something did happen to Nehru in the last years of his life which brought his thinking nearer to Buchman's, greatly to his colleagues' surprise. Many of them - T. T. Krishnamachari, one of his cabinet, and Sanjiva Reddi, a future President of India, for example - remarked how much more frequently from late 1955 he spoke of the importance to the individual and the nation of moral and spiritual standards. Nehru himself said to his biographer, Michael Brecher, in June 1956, 'If they (moral and spiritual standards) fade away, I think that all the material advancement you may have will lead to nothing worthwhile.'21
After Nehru's death Reddi described in a public speech in London the excitement when he had first spoken of such values at a rally in the state of Andhra. 'Congress Party leaders who had so often heard the Prime Minister say that the steel mills and factories were the real temples of India crowded round him and said, "What has happened to you, Panditji?"' Reddi reported. '"Yes," Nehru had replied, "I have changed. I believe the human mind is hungry for something deeper in terms of moral and spiritual development, without which the material advance is not worthwhile." '22 It is even possible that someone influenced by Buchman may have been a contributory factor to his change of thinking. Appadorai Aaron, a YMCA Secretary in Glasgow, returned to India in 1955, after being at Caux, and started to spend time in quiet each morning. When he told Vice-President Radhakrishnan, an old school friend, about it, Radhakrishnan remarked, 'You must meet Nehru. I will arrange it.' They met and Panditji said, 'People flatter me. They don't tell me the truth and I feel out of touch with the country.' Aaron told him that a daily time of quiet meditation would help him to 'read men's characters'. 'That sounds like Moral Re-Armament,' said Nehru. 'It doesn't matter what you call it. The thing is to try it,' Aaron replied. Some days later they met at a Delhi reception. 'I've been trying what you suggested,' Nehru said. 'I find it a real help.'23
How did Buchman finance the expedition to Ceylon, India and Pakistan - and the other even larger ventures of the years ahead?
During the Asian expedition invitation committees in the different countries and regions took on certain responsibilities - the Ceylonese and Bombay committees, for example, paying all expenses while the group was with them. As usual, no one travelling with Buchman took a salary. But there were heavy transport and other costs and, with India, as with many post-war operations, money came from the most varied quarters. Buchman never issued public appeals of the kind usual with most charities or made by many American TV evangelists today. Sometimes a Sunday morning collection at an assembly at Caux or Mackinac was devoted to a particular purpose, but usually it became known informally that a certain venture had been decided upon and people then came forward with gifts according to their means, desires and inner direction. Sometimes these were large amounts, as when the group of Dutch people financed the first of the three planes to India. Also, just at this time an Englishwoman received a large family inheritance and gave £50,000 of it for the Asian journey.
To other ventures and for the general conduct of Buchman's work there were, as well as small givers, other large donors, rather in the fashion of Mrs Tjader long before. Like her they were usually motivated by some specific help which Buchman had given them or members of their families. Bernard Hallward of Montreal, who had restored a large sum to the Canadian Customs in 1932, and his wife Alice, were consistently generous.
Another couple who gave frequently were Mr and Mrs Albert H. Ely of Washington, DC. 'Dear Frank,' they wrote on his birthday in 1951, 'You have given us a sound home, many happy years and a chance to fight with you in the greatest revolution of all time. Our birthday gift this year is ten thousand blessings, with symbols thereof, and the prayer God may give you ten thousand more happy, joyous days.'24 In June 1949 the Elys had written that a number of couples had taken responsibility for raising the monthly payments for the purchase of the Los Angeles centre, and enclosed $25,000 to cover the June payment.25
In October 1951 Gilbert Harris, who had given up his job after seventeen years with the Chase National Bank to be the Treasurer of Buchman's work in America, wrote, 'At last the "miracle" cheque arrived. It was for $124,843.75 and came from T. Henry Williams. It was the more welcome as we were in a pretty tough spot financially.'26
Whether it was a 'miracle' cheque because money had been so much needed and prayed for or because the donor, T. Henry Williams, the inventor of the tyre mould machinery from Akron, had been having difficulty in realising money which he had long wanted to give, is not known. It is known that Williams had previously written of his efforts to free money from a business in which he had partners and various commitments.
Mrs John Henry Hammond, who took part in the Asian journey, was another frequent and generous donor. On 5 January 1957 she wrote, 'This is the guidance that came to me early this morning: "Whoever does the will of God, that is my brother and sister and mother . . . Your money belongs to God . .. Give a million of your capital. Have $100,000 of it go to the work in Africa...This gift will help my family to see why I feel MRA is the only hope for the world . . .
"This is a critical time. God has work for me to do. I want to be available. Why count on the Fords and Rockefellers when I am committed to remaking the world?...Freely as you have received, so must you give....Your grateful friend, Emily.'27
There was certainly no point in waiting for Ford or Rockefeller. The former had been generous with hospitality and had made one small gift. The latter had never given anything. Neither had ever been asked for a cent, and Buchman was determined to keep it that way. He did, however, feel badly when large companies or unions to which Moral Re-Armament, as a by-product of its spiritual work, had been of service gave little practical help in return. His secretary wrote in his diary for 18 January 1951, 'Frank full of energy began to feel the wrongness of our friends who had benefited so by MRA not giving more generously. Patterson was sending $10,000 personally, but F had expected something big from the company.'
W. A. Patterson was president of United Airlines, based in Chicago. Fifteen days previously, as reported in the New York Herald-Tribune, he had spoken at an MRA assembly in Washington along with officials of the Airlines Pilots Association: 'Mr Patterson said that when a pilot strike seemed inevitable four months ago because negotiations were deadlocked over 119 union demands, he was informed that Lawrence Shapiro, chairman of the pilots' grievance committee, wanted to see him about MRA.
' "I knew nothing about MRA, but plenty about Larry Shapiro - and it wasn't good," said Mr Patterson. "He was rated our toughest negotiator - a man who wouldn't give an inch. Imagine my surprise when he began his conference by suggesting that we use 'absolute honesty, purity, love and unselfishness' as a basis for reopening labor management discussions. He . . . convinced me of his sincerity. So we called a meeting in Denver, Oct 26."
'At the end of five days around a conference table, Mr Patterson said, management and labour had "openly and frankly and entirely without rancour, reduced the original 119 demands to thirteen". Eight of the thirteen demands have been entirely settled and the rest will be concluded within the next weeks, Mr Patterson said.
' "If anyone had told me sixty days ago that we weren't headed into a knock-down and drag-out strike, I would have said they were dreaming," Mr Patterson said. "We had been trying for sixteen months to avoid a strike, which I knew was going to cost our company at least $12,000,000 and also be a possible threat to national security. But there isn't going to be a strike - and what is much more important, a new spirit of trust and confidence has been born." '28
In fact, neither in America or Britain did industrial concerns give large sums to Buchman's work. In the financial year which included Buchman's death the contribution of industrial firms in Britain was a fraction more than 1% of the total received, as it was also in the following year. In America industry's contribution in 1962 and 1963 was approximately 0.5% of the total received.
Indeed, an analysis of any year shows that large gifts were exceptional. In the year of Buchman's death, 84.9% of contributors in Britain gave less than £10 and 0.4% £1000 or more, while in America 85.2% gave less than $100 and 14.8% more than $100.29
1 Roger Hicks, unpublished autobiographical MS, chapter 6, 'Living with Mahatma Gandhi'.
2 Martin, account of Asian trip.
3 Surya Sena: Of Sri Lanka I Sing (Ranco, Colombo, 1978), pp. 225-7.
4 Dudley Senanayake and S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike to Buchman, 21 November 1952.
5 R. G. Senanayake to Buchman, date unknown; Martin, Asian account.
6 Martin, Asian account.
7 Bombay Chronicle, 20 November 1952. This was in the first of thirteen special supplements devoted to the tour by leading Indian newspapers, published at their own initiative and expense.
8 25 November 1952.
9 Jawaharlal Nehru: An Autobiography (John Lane and Bodley Head, 1936), pp 153-4.
10 Jawaharlal Nehru: An Autobiography (Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Foundation, New Delhi, 1980),
11 Jawaharlal Nehru to Buchman, 1 May 1926.
12 Austin and Konstam, p. 191.
13 Hindustan Times, etc., 2 January 1953; Buchman, p. 205.
14 Duncan Corcoran to Buchman, 24 March 1953.
15 Peter Howard: Frank Buchman's Secret (Heinemann, 1961), p. 31.
16 Martin, Asian account.
19 A reference is made to this visit in Stanley Wolpert: Jinnah of Pakistan (OUP, 1984), p.303.
20 Martin, Asian account.
21 Michael Brecher: Nehru, A Political Biography (OUP, 1959), pp. 607-8.
22 From speech by Sanjiva Reddi in Westminster Theatre, London, 1972.
23 Told to Hicks by Appadorai Aaron.
24 Mr and Mrs Albert H. Ely to Buchman, 4 June 1951.
25 ibid., 2 June 1949.
26 Gilbert Harris to Buchman, 23 October 1951.
27 Mrs John Henry Hammond to Buchman, 5 January 1957.
28 New York Herald-Tribune, 4 January 1951.
29 For further analysis see Thornton-Duesbery, pp. 94-95. The accounts of the Oxford Group in Britain are filed at the Companies Registry Department of the Board of Trade, where they can be inspected.