This is the third in a series of heaven-based stories, written as fantasy but very relevant to our times. The first story titled Mahatma Gandhi Returns to Earth was published in Countercurrents.org on December 11 2020 while the second story titled Mahatma Gandhi Meets Shahid Bhagat Singh was published in Countercurrents.org on January 16 2021.
It was a nice relaxed morning. In his spacious but simply furnished residence in heaven, Mahatma Gandhi had just finished his breakfast and settled down quietly to reading The Times of Heaven.
Kasturba entered the room and announced—there is a kind looking old gentleman at the door, Albert by name, who wants to meet you.
Albert who? Did he give his full name?
Well he mumbled something like eenteen which I did not catch fully.
Gandhi threw away the newspaper and rushed towards the door.
There with a slightly shy and puzzled look on his face stood the great scientist.
The two great men from earth shook their hands very warmly . Gandhi called Kasturba and introduced Einstein. Then he said—I am so honored by your visit. If I remember correctly it was in 1931 that we exchanged letters about a meeting, but this could never take place on earth. At last I am fortunate to meet you here today.
Einstein replied—Yes. It was in 1931. I first wrote expressing my keen desire to meet you , and you suggested a meeting in your Aamram
Gandhi corrected him gently—Ashram is the right word, where I was living with my companions—a community life.
That’s it. I remember that correspondence, and on other occasions later too I was keen to meet you. Particularly after Hiroshima happened I was most desperate to meet, but somehow we could not meet.
They indulged in small talk for some time. Later, while sipping hot coffee, Einstein confided—Today I have come with a very specific purpose.
Gandhi had been patiently waiting for this. He said—Please tell me.
Einstein said earnestly—I have been hearing very distressing news from earth. It is by now very clear—and I assure you that there is very strong scientific evidence for this—that the basic life-sustaining conditions of earth are very badly threatened. This situation can reach a point of no return within a generation or two when certain tipping points are crossed. And the entire situation can be reached even earlier by some unforeseen factors, or actual large-scale use of nuclear weapons, or the drift towards space warfare and robot weapons.
Mahatma Gandhi remained silent for some time. Then he said—It seems my worst fears are coming true. And when someone like you says this, where is the room for any doubt? It is unimaginably sad, and it is no less distressing that so little is being done about this.
–Yes, this is perhaps the most disturbing part. Scientists and others have been repeating warnings but the present earth leadership has not been able to respond adequately. In fact in recent years in several ways they took actions which brings the world closer to disaster, and takes it further away from any credible solution.
The two great men again sat silently for some time, as though overawed by the enormity of the dangers they were contemplating.
Finally Einstein broke the silence. He said—Just as after Hiroshima I had felt this great need to meet you, similarly once this danger became very clear to me, I have been very keen to meet you.
But why me? I am of course extremely happy that you came to meet me, it is my great fortune, but I would have thought that you would feel more need to consult other senior scientists.
Oh there are scientists and scientists. But apart from my long-pending desire to meet you, one special reason is my finding that unless wars and the arms race stop, problems like climate change cannot also be tackled in the existing international conditions of increasing hostility and suspicions and the race for developing more and more destructive weapons , including new kinds of weapons of mass destruction. We need a very effective and strong world movement for avoiding all wars and violence, and whenever I think of this I also think of you.
Gandhi replied–It is very kind and generous of you, but can I really contribute now to this?
This is the most depressing part really. We are allowed to live in great comfort in heaven but not allowed to contribute to reducing great distress and dangers of earth. In such conditions can persons like us really enjoy the comforts that heaven authorities insist on providing us? I keep thinking of what can be done and then become depressed when I realize I can do nothing.
Perhaps we can still make a small contribution.
The troubled face of Einstein lit up with new hope. He drew himself nearer to Gandhi and almost whispered—How?
Well I have always been a firm believer that even if the chance of success and tangible immediate result is very small, still effort should be made in the hope that maybe some day in future this will have the desired result. So what both of us together can do immediately is to prepare a statement under our joint signature to appeal to earth’s leaders and people to give the highest priority to these most important challenges.
What after this?
My young colleague Satyavan will have it circulated among heaven based scientists and activists who should know about this effort, and then deposit this in the main heaven archives with the provision that as soon as the heaven rules permit this statement should be disseminated to earth.
How soon can be that?
I do not know at all , but we have to work on the basis of optimism.
Einstein then decided not to raise any more questions and they together sat down to prepare a statement along following lines—
This is an appeal to the leaders and people of Earth and also a warning, sent from heaven by Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi.
A serious survival threat has already emerged and the prevention of this threat from advancing further should now get the highest priority without any delay.
Progress can take place only if all weapons of mass destruction are eliminated, if the arms race and all future wars are banned and avoided completely . While this is important in itself this is also important to create those conditions in which the entire humanity can cooperate to check climate change and other serious environmental problems.
All this should take place in conditions of increasing, justice , equality and democracy because this alone can create the conditions for the enthusiastic participation of people without which success is not possible.
This most important statement by two greatest leaders of humanity from heaven has not yet reached earth because of the existing strict rules of heaven which do not allow heavenly figures to intervene in the affairs of the earth.
Bharat Dogra is a veteran journalist and author. His novellas published in Countercurrents.org include A Day in 2071 and We Shall Overcome.