The Pen is Mightier than the Sword:
The world, on the whole, is ruled by the brain, not brawn. Might is right- may be true of the animal kingdom or of savage society but in the area of civilization, the pen is mightier than the sword.
A sword may kill a man, but cannot convert his heart. The pen creates a revolution in the mind of men. The writings of Rousseau and Voltaire were responsible for the French Revolution. King Louis XIV had a strong army and the power of the sword, but these could not stop the onrush of the flood-waters of revolution. Even the armies joined the people’s side, under the intoxicating influence of the slogans: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
What was responsible for the October 1917 Revolution in Russia? The Czar and his tyranny were uprooted. The Communists, under Lenin, came into power. It was a revolution of ideas. Karl Marx’s theory of Communism as given in his book Das Capital conquered Russia. Communism conquered China and the countries of Eastern Europe by the power of its ideas. Not Communist soldiers but Communist ideas of Karl Marx made these nations red. Karl Marx’s pen changed the destiny of Russia and of other Communist countries. Today some hundred crores of people live under Communist rule. This is the victory of Karl Marx’s pen. Where armies have failed, books have worked wonders.
Holy books of religion have changed the life of millions and billions of human beings in all lands and in all ages. Take the case of the Vedas, the Shastras and the Bible. Take the example of the holy books of the Buddhists, the Muslims, the Jews and the others. These scriptures shape the life of the men born and unborn. They will continue to exercise colossal influence on the hearts of humanity, so long as humanity lives. The Quran has had more influence on the Muslim world than all the soldiers and armaments since the world began.
Books and ideas are the most expensive things. They rule the mind and the mind rules the world.
The victories of the sword are short-lived. Hitler overran Europe and conquered so many countries in a mighty sweep. But before the war was over, his military victories lay crumbled like a house of cards. But Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf is read even today. The exploits of his pen have proved mightier than the exploits of his sword.
There have been hundreds of wars in the world, but the historian disposes of each war in a sentence or two, or in the case of World Wars, in a page or two. Does anyone now remember the names of the commanders and the generals, whose names were household words in their day? They are dust; their memories too are dust. But in this run of time, the dramas of Shakespeare and the poetry of Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth still lives, proclaiming to the unborn generations the superiority of the pen to the sword.
“Pens are most dangerous tools, more sharp by odds Than swords, and cut more keen than whips or rods”.
The daily paper shows the power of the pen. The Press is the Fourth Estate. It can make or unmake governments. It moulds public opinion, which is all in all in a democracy. Gandhiji employed no sword in fighting India’s battle for freedom, but the Press supported the cause of freedom and did a yeoman’s service. Even so, Pakistan was created by the power of the poisonous pen of the Muslim League Press.
A soldier is ready to kill or die, for the sake of his ideals or for his salary. But great men of letters make millions by the power of their pen. It has been calculated that George Bernard Shaw has earned on an average one guinea for each word that he has written. And he has written so many books and numberless words. For some people, their pen is a gold mine. Some people win thousands of pounds by solving crossword puzzles.
Even the victories of the sword are celebrated by the power of the pen. The battle of Ramayana would have been forgotten, but for Valmiki’s pen, that wrote the Ramayana. Who would have remembered the Mahabharta, if there had been no epic of Mahabharata? The Trojan War is remembered today because the great Homer made it the subject of his world-famous poem, Odyssey. Even ordinary wars are remembered by posterity because the historian’s pen mentions them in the books. The sword depends on the pen for its fame. The pen carries the sword on its shoulders.
In the war, the most dangerous bombardment is the leaflet raid. The enemy aeroplanes throw printed papers in a propaganda campaign. In Hitler’s Germany death was the punishment for picking up and reading a paper dropped by a British aeroplane. Surely they were more afraid of this writing than of the atom bombs!
Great men of the world have been famous writers. Gandhiji, Nehru, Churchill, Hitler- to name only a few- are great men of letters.