Jawaharlal Nehru

'Tryst with Destiny' Address to the Constituent Assembly of India in New Delhi

delivered 14-15 August 1947

 

[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny; and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new -- when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India, and her people, and to the still larger cause of humanity.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries which are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her successes and her failures. Through good and ill fortunes alike, she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again.

The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?

Freedom and power bring responsibility. That responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labor, and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over, and it is the future that beckons to us now.

That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we might fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.

The ambition of the greatest man1 of our generation has been to wipe "every tear from every eye."2 That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.

And so we have to labor and to work, and work hard, to -- to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart.

Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom; so is prosperity now; and so also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.

To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.


Link to external source with additional speech content but whose delivery on this particular occasion is unconfirmed.


1 Possibly "men" instead of "man." The singular is grammatically consistent with the suggestive phrase "every tear from every eye" which has long been associated with Mahatma Gandhi (man), although the source of that quotation is disputed.

2 Phrase widely claimed to be the raison d'Ítre of Mahatma Gandhi, though, as a quotation, its precise source remains in question. A similar phrase is found in the Book of Revelation 21:4:  "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Audio Source: Linked directly to Archive.org

Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Page Updated: 8/17/17

U.S. Copyright Status: Text = Uncertain. Audio = CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0). Image = Public domain per terms here.

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