Why ‘Harijan’

Harijan means ‘a man of God’. All the religions of the world described God pre-eminently as the Friend of friendless, Help of the helpless and Protector of the weak. The rest of the world apart, in India who can be more friendless, helpless or weaker than the forty million or more Hindus of India who are classified as ‘untouchables’? If, therefore, anybody of people can be fitly described as men of God, they are surely these helpless, friendless and despised people. Hence, in the pages of Navajivcm, I have always adopted Harijan as the name signifying ‘untouchables’. Not that the change of name brings about any change of status, but one may at least be spared the use of a term which is itself one of reproach. When Caste Hindus have of their own winner conviction and, therefore, voluntarily, got rid of the present-day untouchability we shall all be called Harijans, for, according to my humble opinion, Caste Hindus will then have found favour with God and may, therefore, be fitly described as His men.
Harijan, February 11, 1933

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