mahatma gandhi ji biography
mahatma gandhi ji biography The Gandhis belong to the Bania caste. But for three generations, from my grandfather, they have been Prime Ministers in the several Kathiawad States.
Uttamchand Gandhi, alias Ota Gandhi, my grandfather, must have been a man of principle. State intrigues compelled him to leave Porbandar, where he was Diwan, and to seek refuge in Junagadh.
There he saluted the Nawab with the left hand. Someone, noticing the apparent discourtesy, asked for an explanation, which was given thus: ‘The right hand is already pledged to Porbandar.’
Ota Gandhi married a second time, having lost his first wife. He had four sons by his first wife and two by his second wife. I do not think that in my childhood I ever felt or knew that these sons of Ota Gandhi were not all of the same mothers.
The fifth of these six brothers was Karamchand Gandhi, alias Kaba Gandhi, and the sixth was Tulsidas Gandhi. Both these brothers were Prime Ministers in Porbandar, one after the other. Kaba Gandhi was my father.
He was a member of the Rajasthanik Court. It is now extinct, but in those days it was a very influential body for settling disputes between the chiefs and their fellow clansmen.
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He was for some time Prime Minister in Rajkot and then in Vankaner. He was a pensioner of the Rajkot State when he died.
Kaba Gandhi married four times in succession, having lost his wife each time by death. He had two daughters by his first and second marriages. His last wife, Putlibai, bore him a daughter and three sons, I being the youngest.
My father was a lover of his clan, truthful, brave and generous, but short-tempered. To a certain extent, he might have been given to carnal pleasures. For the married for the fourth time when he was over forty.
But he was incorruptible and had earned a name for strict impartiality in his family as well as outside. His loyalty to the state was well known. An Assistant Political Agent spoke insultingly of the Rajkot Thakore Saheb, his chief, and he stood up to the insult.
The Agent was angry and asked Kaba Gandhi to apologize. This he refused to do and was therefore kept under detention for a few hours. But when the Agent saw that Kaba Gandhi was adamant, he ordered him to be released.
My father never had any ambition to accumulate riches and left us very little property.
He had no education, save that of experience. At best, he might be said to have read up to the fifth Gujarati standard. Of history and geography, he was innocent.
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But his rich experience of practical affairs stood him in good stead in the solution of the most intricate questions and in managing hundreds of men. Of religious training, he had very little, but he had that kind of religious culture which frequent visits to temples and listening to religious discourses make available to many Hindus.
In his last days, he began reading the Gita at the instance of a learned Brahman friend of the family, and he used to repeat aloud some verses every day at the time of worship.
The outstanding impression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness. She was deeply religious. She would not think of taking her meals without her daily prayers. Going to Haveli -the Vaishnava temple-was one of her daily duties. As far as my memory can go back, I do not remember her having ever missed the Chaturmas.
She would take the hardest vows and keep them without flinching. The illness was no excuse for relaxing them. I can recall her once falling ill when she was observing the Chandrayana vow, but the illness was not allowed to interrupt the observance.
To keep two or three consecutive fasts was nothing to her. Living on one meal a day during Chaturmas was a habit with her. Not content with that she fasted every alternate day during one Chaturmas. During another Chaturmas she vowed not to have food without seeing the sun.
We children on those days would stand, staring at the sky, waiting to announce the appearance of the sun to our mother. Everyone knows that at the height of the rainy season the sun often does not condescend to show his face. And I remember days when, at his sudden appearance, we would rush and announce it to her, She would run out to with her own eyes, but by that time the fugitive sun would be gone, thus depriving her of her meal. “That does not matter,” she would say cheerfully, “God did not want me to eat today.” And then she would return to her round of duties.
My mother had a strong commonsense. She was well informed about all matters of state, and ladies of the court thought highly of her intelligence. Often I would accompany her, exercising the privilege of childhood, and I still remember many lively discussions she had with the widowed mother of the Thakore Saheb.
Of these parents I was born at Porbandar, otherwise known as Sudamapuri, on the 2nd of October, 1869, I passed my childhood in Porbandar.
I recollect having been put to school. It was with some difficulty that I got through the multiplication tables. The fact that I recollect nothing more of those days than having learned, in company with other boys, to call our teacher all kinds of names, would strongly suggest that my intellect must have been sluggish, and my memory raw.
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I must have been about seven when my father left Porbandar for Rajkot to become a member of the Rajasthanik Court. There I was put into a primary school, and I can well recollect those days, including the names and other particulars of the teachers who taught me.
As at Porbandar, so here, there is hardly anything to note about my studies. I could only have been a mediocre student. From this school I went to the suburban school and thence to the high school, having already reached my twelfth year. I do not remember having ever told a lie, during this short period, either to my teachers or to my school-mates, I used to be very shy and avoided all company.
My books and my lessons were my sole companions. To be at school at the stroke of the hour and to run back home as soon as the school closed-that was my daily habit. I literally ran back, because I could not bear to talk to anybody. I was even afraid lest anyone should poke fun at me.
There is an incident that occurred at the examination during my first year at the high school and which is worth recording. Mr. Giles, the Educational Inspector, had come on a visit of inspection. He had set us five words to write as a spelling exercise.
One of the words was ‘kettle’. I had misspelled it. The teacher tried to prompt me with the point of his boot, but I would not be prompted. It was beyond me to see that he wanted me to copy the spelling from my neighbor’s slate, for I had thought that the teacher was there to supervise us against copying.
The result was that all the boys, except myself, were found to have spelled every word correctly. Only I had been stupid. The teacher tried later to bring this stupidity home to me. but without effect. I never could learn the art of ‘copying’.
Yet the incident did not in the least diminish my respect for my teacher. I was by nature, blind to the faults of elders. Later I came to know of many other failings of this teacher, but my regard for him remained the same. I had learned to carry out the orders of elders, not to scan their actions.
Two other incidents belonging to the same period have always clung to my memory. As a rule, I had a distaste for any reading beyond my school books. The daily lessons had to be done because I disliked being taken to task by my teacher as much as I disliked deceiving him.
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Therefore I would do the lessons, but often without my mind in them. Thus when even the lessons could not be done properly, there was, of course, no question of any extra reading. But somehow my eyes fell on a book purchased by my father.
It was Shravana Pitribhakti Nataka (a play about Sharavana’s devotion to his parents). I read it with intense interest. There came to our place about the same time itinerant showmen. One of the pictures I was shown was of Shravana carrying, by means of slings fitted for his shoulders, his blind parents on a pilgrimage.
The book and the picture left an indelible impression on my mind. ‘Here is an example for you to copy,’ I said to myself. The agonized lament of the parents over Shravana’s death is still fresh in my memory. The melting tune moved me deeply, and I played it on a concertina which my father had purchased for me.
There was a similar incident connected with another play. Just about this time, I had secured my father’s permission to see a play performed by a certain dramatic company. This play-Harishchandra- captured my heart. I could never be tired of seeing it. But how often should I be permitted to go?
It haunted me and I must have acted Harishchandra to myself times without number. ‘Why should not all be truthful like Harishchandra?’ was the question I asked myself day and night. To follow truth and to go through all the ordeals Harishchandra went through was the one ideal it inspired in me.
I literally believed in the story of Harishchandra. The thought of it all often made me weep. My commonsense tells me today that Harishchandra could not have been a historical character. Still, both Harishchandra and Shravana are living realities for me, and I am sure I should be moved as before if I were to read those plays again today.
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Much as I wish that I had not to write this chapter, I know that I shall have to swallow many such bitter draughts in the course of this narrative. And I cannot do otherwise if I claim to be a worshipper of Truth. It is my painful duty to have to record here my marriage at the age of thirteen.
As I see the youngsters of the same age about me who are under my care and think of my own marriage, I am inclined to pity myself and to congratulate them on having escaped my lot. I can see no moral argument in support of such a preposterously early marriage.
Let the reader make no mistake. I was married, not betrothed. For in Kathiawad there are two distinct rites, betrothal, and marriage. Betrothal is a preliminary promise on the part of the parents of the boy and the girl to join them in marriage, and it is not inviolable.
The death of the boy entails no widowhood on the girl. It is an agreement purely between the parents, and the children have no concern with it. Often they are not even informed of it. It appears that I was betrothed thrice, though without my knowledge.
I was told that two girls chosen for me had died in turn, and therefore I infer that I was betrothed three times. I have a faint recollection, however, that the third betrothal took place in my seventh year. But I do not recollect having been informed about it. In the present chapter, I am talking about my marriage, of which I have the clearest recollection.
It will be remembered that we were three brothers. The first was already married. The elders decided to marry my second brother, who was two or three years my senior, a cousin, possibly a year older, and me, all at the same time. In doing so there was no thought of our welfare, much less our wishes. It was purely a question of their own convenience and economy.
Marriage among Hindus is no simple matter. The parents of the bride and the bridegroom often bring themselves to ruin over it. They waste their substance, they waste their time. Months are taken up over the preparations in making clothes and ornaments and in preparing budgets for dinners.
Each tries to outdo the other in the number and variety of courses to be prepared. Women, whether they have a voice or no, sing themselves hoarse, even get ill, and disturb the peace of their neighbors. these in their turn quietly put up with all the turmoil and bustle all the dirt and filth, representing the remains of the feasts, because they know that a time will come when they also will be behaving in the same manner.
It would be better, though my elders, to have all this bother over at one and the same time. Less expense and greater eclat. For money could be freely spent if it had only to be spent once instead of thrice.
My father and my uncle were both old, and we were the last children they had to marry. it is likely that they wanted to have the last best time of their lives. In view of all these considerations, a triple wedding was decided upon, and as I have said before, months were taken up in preparation for it.
It was only through these preparations that we got a warning of the coming event. I do not think it meant to be anything more than the prospect of good clothes to wear, drum beating, marriage processions, rich dinners, and a strange girl to play with.
The carnal desire came later. I propose to draw the curtain over my shame, except for a few details worth recording. To these, I shall come later. But even they have little to do with the central idea I have kept before me in writing this story.
So my brother and I were both taken to Porbandar from Rajkot. There are some amusing details of the preliminaries to the final drama e.g. smearing our bodies all over with turmeric paste but I must omit them.
My father was a Diwan, but nevertheless a servant, and all the more so because he was in favor of the Thakore Saheb. The latter would not let him go until the last moment. And when he did so, he ordered my father special stagecoaches, reducing the journey by two days.
But the fates had willed otherwise. Porbandar is 120 miles from Rajkot, a cart journey of five days. My father did the distance in three, but the coach toppled over in the third stage, and he sustained severe injuries. He arrived bandaged all over. Both his and our interest in the coming event was half destroyed, but the ceremony had to be gone through. For how could the marriage dates be changed? However, I forgot my grief over my father’s injuries in the childish amusement of the wedding.
I was devoted to my parents. but no less was I devoted to the passions that flesh is heir to. I had yet to learn that all happiness and pleasure should be sacrificed in devoted service to my parents. And yet, as though by way of punishment for my desire for pleasures, an incident happened, which has ever since rankled in my mind and which I will relate later. Nishkulanand sings: ‘Renunciation of objects, without the renunciation of desires, is short-lived, however hard you may try.’ Whenever I sing this song or hear it sung, this bitter untoward incident rushes to my memory and fills me with shame.
My father put on a brave face in spite of his injuries and took a full part in the wedding. As I think of it, I can even today call before my mind’s eye the places where he sat as he went through the different details of the ceremony.
Little did I dream then that one day I should severely criticize my father for having married me as a child. Everything on that day seemed to me own right and proper and pleasing.
There was also my own eagerness to get married. And like everything that my father did then struck me as beyond reproach, the recollection of those things is fresh in my memory. I can picture to myself, even today, how we sat on our wedding dais, how we performed the Saptapadi how we, the newly wedded husband and wife, but the sweet Kansar into each other’s mouth, and how we began to live together.
And oh! that first night. Two innocent children all unwittingly hurled themselves into the ocean of life. My brother’s wife had thoroughly coached me about my behavior on the first night. I do not know who had coached my wife. I have never asked her about it, nor am I inclined to do so now.
The reader may be sure that we were too nervous to face each other. We were certainly too shy. How was I to talk to her, and what was I to say? The coaching could not carry me far. But no coaching is really necessary for such matters. The impressions of the former birth are potent enough to make all coaching superfluous. We gradually began to know each other and to speak freely together. We were the same age. but I took no time in assuming the authority of a husband.
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About the time of my marriage, little pamphlets costing a pice, or a pie (I now forget how much), used to be issued, in which conjugal love, thrift, child marriages, and other such subjects were discussed. Whenever I came across any of these, I used to go through them cover to cover, and it was a habit with me to forget what I did not like and to carry out in practice whatever I liked. Lifelong faithfulness to the wife, inculcated in these booklets as the duty of the husband, remained permanently imprinted on my heart. Furthermore, the passion for truth was innate in me, and to be false to her was therefore out of the question. And then there was very little chance of my being faithless at that tender age.
But the lesson of faithfulness had also untoward effect. ‘If I should be pledged to be faithful to my wife, she also should be pledged to be faithful to me,’ I said to myself. The thought made me a jealous husband. Her duty was easily converted into my right to exact faithfulness from her, and if it had to be exacted, I should be watchfully tenacious of the right.
I had absolutely no reason to suspect my wife’s fidelity, but jealousy does not wait for reasons. I just need to be forever on the look-out regarding her movements, and therefore she could not go anywhere without my permission. This sowed the seeds of a bitter quarrel between us.
The restraint was virtually a sort of imprisonment. And Kasturbai was not the girl to brook any such thing. She made it a point to go out whenever and wherever she liked. More restraint on my part resulted in more liberty being taken by her, and in my getting more and more cross.
Refusal to speak to one another thus became the order of the day with us, married children. I think it was quite innocent of Kasturbai to have taken those liberties with my restrictions. How could a guileless girl brook any restraint on going to the temple or ongoing on visits to friends? If I had the right to impose restrictions on her, had not she also a similar right? All this is clear to me today. But at that time I had to make good my authority as a husband!
Let not the reader think, however, that ours was a life of unrelieved bitterness. For my severities were all based on love. I wanted to make my wife an ideal wife. My ambition was to make her live a pure life, learn what I learned, and identify her life and thought with mine.
I do not know whether Kasturbai had any such ambition. She was illiterate. By nature, she was simple, independent, persevering and, with me at least, reticent. She was not impatient of her ignorance and I do not recollect my studies having ever spurred her to go in for a similar adventure.
I fancy, therefore, that my ambition was all one-sided. My passion was entirely centered on one woman, and I wanted it to be reciprocated. But even if there were no reciprocity, it could not be all unrelieved misery because there was active love on one side at least.
I must say I was passionately fond of her. Even at school, I used to think of her, and the thought of nightfall and our subsequent meeting was ever haunting me.
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The separation was unbearable. I used to keep her awake till late in the night with my idle talk. If with this devouring passion there had not been in me a burning attachment to duty, I should either have fallen prey to disease and premature death or have sunk into a burdensome existence. But the appointed tasks had to be gone through every morning, and lying to anyone was out of the question. It was this last thing that saved me from many a pitfall.
I have already said that Kasturbai was illiterate. I was very anxious to teach her, but lustful love left me no time. For one thing, the teaching had to be done against her will, and that too at night. I dared not meet her in the presence of the elders, much less talk to her.
Kathiawad had then, and to a certain extent has even today, its own peculiar, useless and barbarous Purdah. Circumstances were thus unfavorable. I must, therefore, confess that most of my efforts to instruct Kasturbai in our youth were unsuccessful.
And when I awoke from the sleep of lust, I had already launched forth into public life, which did not leave me much spare time. I failed likewise to instruct her through private tutors. As a result, Kasturbai can now with difficulty write simple letters and understand simple Gujarati.
I am sure that, had my love for her been absolutely untainted with lust, she would be a learned lady today; for I could then have conquered her dislike for studies. I know that nothing is impossible for pure love.
I have mentioned one circumstance that more or less saved me from the disasters of lustful love. There is another worth noting. Numerous examples have convinced me that God ultimately saves him whose motive is pure. Along with the cruel custom of child marriages, Hindu society has another custom which to a certain extent diminishes the evils of the former. Parents do not allow young couples to stay long.
The child-wife spends more than half her time at her father’s place. Such was the case with us. That is to say, during the first five years of our married life (from the age of 13 to 18), we could not have lived together longer than an aggregate period of three years.
We would hardly have spent six months together when there would be a call to my wife from her parents. Such calls were very unwelcome in those days, but they saved us both. At the age of eighteen, I went to England, and this meant a long and healthy spell of separation.
Even after my return from England we hardly stayed together for longer than six months. I had to run up and down between Rajkot and Bombay. Then came the call from South Africa, and that found me already fairly free from the carnal appetite.
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I have already said that I was learning in high school when I was married. We, three brothers, were learning at the same school. The eldest brother was in a much higher class and the brother who was married at the same time as I was, only one class ahead of me.
The marriage resulted in both of us wasting a year. Indeed the result was even worse for my brother, for he gave up studies altogether. Heaven knows how many youths are in the same plight as he. Only in our present Hindu society do studies and marriage go thus hand in hand.
My studies were continued. I was not regarded as a dunce at the high school. I always enjoyed the affection of my teachers. Certificates of progress and character used to be sent to the parents every year.
I never had a bad certificate. In fact, I even won prizes after I passed out of the second standard. In the fifth and sixth I obtained scholarships and rupees four and ten respectively, an achievement for which I have to thank good luck more than my merit.
For the scholarships were not open to all but reserved for the best boys amongst those coming from the Sorath Division of Kathiawad. And in those days there could not have been many boys from Sorath in a class of forty to fifty.
My own recollection is that I had not any high regard for my ability. I used to be astonished whenever I won prizes and scholarships. But I very jealously guarded my character. The least little blemish drew tears from my eyes. When I merited or seemed to the teacher to merit, a rebuke, it was unbearable for me.
I remember having once received corporal punishment. I did not so much mind the punishment, like the fact that it was considered my desert. I wept piteously. That was when I was in the first or second standard. There was another such incident during the time when I was in the seventh standard.
Dorabji Edulji Gimi was the headmaster then. He was popular among boys, as he was a disciplinarian, a man of method and a good teacher. He had made gymnastics and cricket compulsory for boys of the upper standards. I disliked both. I never took part in any exercise, cricket or football, before they were made compulsory.
My shyness was one of the reasons for this aloofness, which I now see was wrong. I then had the false notion that gymnastics had nothing to do with education. Today I know that physical training should have as much place in the curriculum as mental training.
I may mention, however, that I was none the worse for abstaining from exercise. That was because I had read in books about the benefits of long walks in the open air, and having liked the advice, I had formed a habit of taking walks, which has still remained with me. These walks gave me a fairly hardy constitution.
The reason for my dislike for gymnastics was my keen desire to serve as a nurse to my father. As soon as the school closed, I would hurry home and begin serving him. Compulsory exercise came directly in the way of this service. I requested Mr. Gimi to exempt me from gymnastics so that I might be free to serve my father.
But he would not listen to me. Now it so happened that one Saturday, when we had school in the morning, I had to go from home to the school for gymnastics at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
I had no watch, and the clouds deceived me. Before I reached the school the boys had all left. The next day Mr. Gimi, examining the role, found me marked absent. Being asked the reason for absence, I told him what had happened. He refused to believe me and ordered me to pay a fine of one or two annas (I cannot now recall how much).
I was convicted of lying! That deeply pained me. How was I to prove my innocence? There was no way. I cried in deep anguish. I saw that a man of truth must also be a man of care. This was the first and last instance of my carelessness in school. I have a faint recollection that I finally succeeded in getting the fine remitted. The exemption from exercise was, of course, obtained, as my father wrote himself to the headmaster saying that he wanted me at home after school.
But though I was none the worse for having neglected exercise, I am still paying the penalty of another neglect, I do not know whence I got the notion that good handwriting was not a necessary part of education, but I retained it until I went to England.
When later, especially in South Africa, I saw the beautiful handwriting of lawyers and young men born and educated in South Africa, I was ashamed of myself and repented of my neglect. I saw that bad handwriting should be regarded as a sign of an imperfect education.
I tried later to improve mine, but it was too late. I could never repair the neglect of my youth. Let every young man and woman be warned by my example, and understand that good handwriting is a necessary part of education. I am now of the opinion that children should first be taught the art of drawing before learning how to write. Let the child learn his letters by observation as he does different objects, such as flowers, birds, etc., and let him learn to handwrite only after he has learned to draw objects. He will then write a beautifully formed hand.
Two more reminiscences of my school days are worth recording. I had lost one year because of my marriage, and the teacher wanted me to make good the loss by skipping a class a privilege usually allowed to industrious boys. I, therefore, had only six months in the third standard and was prompted to him forth after the examinations which are followed by the summer vacation. English became the medium of instruction in most subjects from the fourth standard.
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I found myself completely at sea. Geometry was a new subject in which I was not particularly strong, and the English medium made it still more difficult for me. The teacher taught the subject very well, but I could not follow him. Often I would lose heart and think of going back to the third standard, feeling that the packing of two years’ studies into a single year was too ambitious. But this would discredit not only me but also the teacher; because, counting on my industry, he had recommended my promotion. So the fear of the double discredit kept me at my post.
When, however, with much effort, I reached the thirteenth proposition of Euclid, the utter simplicity of the subject was suddenly revealed to me. A subject that only required a pure and simple use of one’s reasoning powers could not be difficult. Ever since that time geometry has been both easy and interesting for me.
Samskrit, however, proved a harder task. In geometry, there was nothing to memorize, whereas, in Samskrit, I thought, everything had to be learned by heart. This subject also was commenced from the fourth standard. As soon as I entered the sixth I became disheartened.
The teacher was a hard taskmaster, anxious, as I thought, to force the boys. There was a sort of rivalry going on between the Samskrit and the Persian teachers. The Persian teacher was lenient. The boys used to talk among themselves that Persian was very easy and the Persian teacher very good and considerate to the students. The ‘easiness’ tempted me and one day I sat in the Persian class.
The Sanskrit teacher was grieved. He called me to his side and said: ‘How can you forget that you are the son of a Vaishnava father? Won’t you learn the language of your own religion? If you have any difficulty, why not come to me? I want to teach you students Samskrit to the best of my ability. As you proceed further, you will find in it things of absorbing interest. You should not lose heart. Come and sit again in the Samskrit class.’
This kindness put me to shame. I could not disregard my teacher’s affection. Today I cannot but think with gratitude of Krishnashankar Pandya. For if I had not acquired the little Samskrit that I had learned then, I should have found it difficult to take any interest in our sacred books. In fact, I deeply regret that I was not able to acquire a more thorough knowledge of the language, because I have since realized that every Hindu boy and girl should possess sound Samskrit learning.
It is now my opinion that in all Indian curricula of higher education there should be a place for Hindi, Samskrit, Persian, Arabic, and English, besides of course the vernacular.
This big list need not frighten anyone. If our education were more systematic, and the boys free from the burden of having to learn their subjects through a foreign medium, I am sure learning all these languages would not be an irksome task. but a perfect pleasure. Scientific knowledge of one language makes knowledge of other languages comparatively easy.
In reality, Hindi, Gujarati, and Samskrit may be regarded as one language, and Persian and Arabic also as one. Though Persian belongs to the Aryan, and Arabic to the Semitic family of languages, there is a close relationship between Persian and Arabic, because both claim their full growth through the rise of Islam.
Urdu I have not regarded as a distinct language because it has adopted the Hindi grammar and its vocabulary is mainly Persian and Arabic, and he who would learn good Urdu must learn Persian and Arabic, as one who would learn good Gujarati, Hindi, Bengali, or Marathi must learn Sanskrit.
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I passed the matriculation examination in 1887. It then used to be held at two centers, Ahmedabad and Bombay. The general poverty of the country naturally led Kathiawad students to prefer the nearer and the cheaper center. The poverty of my family likewise dictated to me the same choice. This was my first journey from Rajkot to Ahmedabad and that too without a companion.
My elders wanted me to pursue my studies at college after the matriculation. There was a college in Bhavnagar as well as in Bombay, and as the former was cheaper, I decided to go there and join the Samaldas College. I went but found myself entirely at sea. Everything was difficult. I could not follow, let alone taking interest in, the professors’ lectures. It was no fault of theirs. The professors in that College were regarded as first-rate. But I was so raw. At the end of the first term, I returned home.
We had in Mavji Dave, who was a shrewd and learned Brahman an old friend and adviser of the family. He had kept up his connection with the family even after my father’s death. He happened to visit us during my vacation. In conversation with my mother and elder brother, he inquired about my studies.
Learning that I was at Samaldas College, he said: ‘The times are changed. And none of you can expect to succeed in your father’s Gadi without having a proper education. Now as this boy is still pursuing his studies, you should all look to him to keep the Gadi.
It will take him four or five years to get his B.A. degree, which will at best qualify him for a sixty rupees’ post, not for a Diwanship. I like my son he went in for law, it would take him still longer, by which time there would be a host of lawyers aspiring for a Diwan’s post.
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I would far rather that you sent him to England. My son Kevalram says it is very easy to become a barrister. In three years’ time, he will return. Also, the expenses will not exceed four to five thousand rupees. Think of that barrister who has just come back from England. How stylishly he lives! He could get the Diwanship for the asking. I would strongly advise you to send Mohandas to England this very year. Kovalam has numerous friends in England. He will give notes of introduction to them, and Mohandas will have an easy time of it there.’
Joshiji that is how we used to call old Mavji Dave turned to me with complete assurance, and asked: ‘Would you not rather go to England than study here?’ Nothing could have been more welcome to me. I was fighting shy of my difficult studies. So I jumped at the proposal and said that the sooner I was sent the better. It was no easy business to pass examinations quickly. Could I not be sent to qualify for the medical profession?
My brother interrupted me: ‘Father never liked it. He had you in mind when he said that we Vaishnavas should have nothing to do with dissection of dead bodies. Father intended you for the bar.’
Joshiji chimed in: ‘I am not opposed to the medical profession as was Gandhiji. Our Shastras are not against it. But a medical degree will not make a Diwan of you, and I want you to be Diwan, or if possible something better.
Only in that way could you take under your protecting care your large family. The times are fast-changing and getting harder every day. It is the wisest thing therefore to become a barrister.’ Turning to my mother he said: ‘Now, I must leave. Pray to ponder over what I have said. When I come here next I shall expect to hear of preparations for England. Be sure to let me know if I can assist in any way.’
Joshiji went away, and I began building castles in the air.
My elder brother was greatly exercised in his mind. How was he to find the wherewithal to send me? And was it proper to trust a young man like me to go abroad alone?
My mother was sorely perplexed. She did not like the idea of parting with me. This is how she tried to put me off: ‘Uncle,’ she said, ‘is now the eldest member of the family. He should first be consulted. If he consents we will consider the matter.’
My brother had another idea. He said to me: ‘We have a certain claim on the Porbandar State. Mr. Lely is the Administrator. He thinks highly of our family and uncle is in his good books. It is just possible that he might recommend you for some State help for your education in England.’
I liked all this and got ready to start off for Porbandar. There was no railway in those days. It was a five days’ bullock-cart journey. I have already said that I was a coward. But at that moment my cowardice vanished before the desire to go to England, which completely possessed me. I hired a bullock-cart as far as Dhoraji, and from Dhoraji I took a camel in order to get to Porbandar a day quicker. This was my first camel-ride.
I arrived at last, did obeisance to my uncle, and told him everything. He thought it over and said: ‘I am not sure whether it is possible for one to stay in England without prejudice to one’s own religion. From all I have heard, I have my doubts. When I meet these big barristers, I see no difference between their lives and those of Europeans. They know no scruples regarding food. Cigars are never out of their mouths. They dress as shamelessly as Englishmen.
All that would not be in keeping with our family tradition. I am shortly going on a pilgrimage and have not many years to live. At the threshold of death, how dare I give you permission to go to England, to cross the seas? But I will not stand in your way. It is your mother’s permission which really matters. If she permits you, then godspeed! Tell her I will not interfere. You will go with my blessings.’
‘I could expect nothing more from you,’ said I. ‘I shall now try to win mother over. But would you not recommend me to Mr. Lely?’
‘How can I do that?’ said he. ‘But he is a good man. You ask for an appointment telling him how you are connected. He will certainly give you one and may even help you.’
I cannot say why my uncle did not give me a note of recommendation. I have a faint idea that he hesitated to co-operate directly in my going to England, which was in his opinion an irreligious act.
I wrote to Mr. Lely, who asked me to see him at his residence. He saw me as he was ascending the staircase; and said curtly, ‘Pass your B.A. fist and then see me. No help can be given you now’, he hurried upstairs. I had made elaborate preparations to meet him. I had carefully learned up a few sentences and had bowed low and saluted him with both hands. But all to no purpose!
I thought of my wife’s ornaments. I thought of my elder brother, in whom I had the utmost faith. He was generous to a fault, and he loved me as his son.
I returned to Rajkot from Porbandar and reported all that had happened. I consulted Joshiji, who of course advised even incurring a debt if necessary. I suggested the disposal of my wife’s ornaments, which could fetch about two or three thousand rupees. My brother promised to find the money somehow.
My mother, however, was still unwilling. She had begun making minute inquiries. Someone had told her that young men got lost in England. Someone else had said that they took to meat; and yet another that they could not live there without liquor. ‘How about all this?’ she asked me.
I said: ‘Will you do not trust me? I shall not lie to you. I swear that I shall not touch any of those things. If there were any such danger, would Joshiji let me go?’
‘I can trust you,’ she said.’ But how can I trust you in a distant land? I am dazed and know not what to do. I will ask Becharji Swami.’
Becharji Swami was originally a Modh Bania but had now become a Jain monk. He too was a family adviser like Joshiji. He came to my help, and said: ‘I shall get the boy solemnly to take the three vows, and then he can be allowed to go.’ He administered the oath and I vowed not to touch wine, woman, and meat. This done, my mother gave her permission.
The high school had a send-off in my honor. It was an uncommon thing for a young man of Rajkot to go to England. I had written out a few words of thanks. But I could scarcely stammer them out. I remember how my head reeled and how my whole frame shook as I stood up to read them.
With the blessing of my elders, I started for Bombay. This was my first journey from Rajkot to Bombay. This was my first journey from Rajkot to Bombay. My brother accompanied me. But there is many a slip, ‘twixt the cup and the lip. There were difficulties to be faced in Bombay.
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I was no doubt at fault in having gone to that officer. But his impatience and overbearing anger were out of all proportion to my mistake. It did not warrant expulsion. I can scarcely have taken up more than five minutes of his time. But he simply could not endure my talking. He could have politely asked me to go, but power had intoxicated him to an inordinate extent. Later I came to know that patience was not one of the virtues of this officer. It was usual for him to insult his visitors. The slightest unpleasantness was sure to put the sahib out.
Now, most of my work would naturally be in his court. It was beyond me to conciliate him. I had no desire to curry favor with him, Indeed, having once threatened to proceed against him, I did not like to remain silent.
Meanwhile, I began to learn something about the petty politics of the country. Kathiawad, being a conglomeration of small states, naturally had its rich crop of politicals. Petty intrigues between states and intrigues of officers for power were the order of the day.
Princes were always at the mercy of others and ready to lend their ears to sycophants. Even the sahib’s peon had to be cajoled, and the sahib’s shirastedar was more than his master, as he was his eyes, his ears, and his interpreter. The shirastedar’s will was law, and his income was always reputed to be more than the sahib’s. This may have been an exaggeration, but he certainly lived beyond his salary.
This atmosphere appeared to me to be poisonous, and how to remain unscathed was a perpetual problem for me.
I was thoroughly depressed and my brother clearly saw it. We both felt that, if I could secure some job, I should be free from this atmosphere of intrigue. But without intrigue, a ministership or judgeship was out of the question. And the quarrel with the sahib stood in the way of my practice.
Porbandar was then under administration, and I had some work there in the shape of securing more powers for the prince. Also, I had to see the Administrator in respect of the heavy vighoti (land rent) exacted from the Mers. This officer, though an Indian, was, I found, one better than the sahib in arrogance. He was able, but the ryots appeared to me to be none the better off for his ability. I succeeded in securing a few more powers for the Rana, but hardly any relief for the Mers. It struck me that their cause was not even carefully gone into.
So even in this mission, I was comparatively disappointed. I thought justice was not done to my clients, but I had not the means to secure it. At the most, I could have appealed to the Political Agent or to the Governor who would have dismissed the appeal saying, ‘We decline to interfere.’
If there had been any rule or regulation governing such decisions, it would have been something, but here the sahib’s will was law.
I was exasperated.
In the meantime, a Meman firm from Porbandar wrote to my brother making the following offer: ‘We have a business in South Africa. Ours is a big firm, and we have a big case there in the Court, our claim being £ 40,000. It has been going on for a long time. We have engaged the services of the best vakils and barristers. If you sent your brother there, he would be useful to us and also to himself. He would be able to instruct our counsel better than ourselves. And he would have the advantage of seeing a new part of the world, and of making new acquaintances.’
My brother discussed the proposition with me. I could not clearly make out whether I had simply to instruct the counselor to appear in court. But I was tempted.
My brother introduced me to the late Sheth Abdul Karim Jhaveri a partner of Dada Abdulla & Co; the firm in question. ‘It won’t be a difficult job’ the Sheth assured me. ‘We have big Europeans as our friends, whose acquaintance you will make. You can be useful to us in our shop. Much of our correspondence is in English and you can help us with that too. You will, of course, be our guest and hence will have no expense whatever.’
‘How long do you require my services?’ I asked. ‘And what will be the payment?’
‘Not more than a year. We will pay you a first-class return fare and a sum of £ 105, all found.’
This was hardly going there as a barrister. It was going as a servant of the firm. But I wanted somehow to leave India. There was also the tempting opportunity of seeing a new country, and of having new experiences. Also, I could send £105 to my brother and help with the expenses of the household. I closed with the offer without any higgling and got ready to go to South Africa.
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When starting for South Africa I did not feel the wrench of separation which I had experienced when leaving for England. My mother was now no more. I had gained some knowledge of the world and of travel abroad, and going from Rajkot to Bombay was no unusual affair.
This time I only felt the pang of parting with my wife. Another baby had been born to us since my return from England. Our love could not yet be called free from lust, but it was getting gradually purer. Since my return from Europe, we had lived very little together; and as I had now become her teacher, however indifferent, and helped her to make certain reforms, we both felt the necessity of being more together, if only to continue the reforms. But the attraction of South Africa rendered the separation bearable. ‘We are bound to meet again in a year,’ I said to her, by way of consolation, and left Rajkot for Bombay.
Here I was to get my passage through the agent of Dada Abdulla and Company. But no berth was available on the boat, and if I did not sail then, I should be stranded in Bombay. ‘We have tried our best,’ said the agent, ‘to secure a first-class passage, but in vain unless you are prepared to go on deck.
Your meals can be arranged for in the saloon.’ Those were the days of my first class traveling, and how could a barrister travel as a deck passenger? So I refused the offer. I suspected the agent’s veracity, for I could not believe that a first-class passage was not available. With the agent’s consent, I set about securing it myself. I went on board the boat and met the chief officer. He said to me quite frankly, ‘We do not usually have such a rush. But as the Governor-General of Mozambique is going by this boat, all the berths are engaged.’
‘Could you not possibly squeeze me in?’ I asked. He surveyed me from top to toe and smiled. There is just one way,’ he said. ‘There is an extra berth in my cabin, which is usually not available for passengers. But I am prepared to give it to you.’ I thanked him and got the agent to purchase the passage. In April 1893 I set forth full of zest to try my luck in South Africa.
The first port of call was Lamu which we reached in about thirteen days. The Captain and I had become great friends by this time. He was fond of playing chess, but as he was quite a novice, he wanted one still more of a beginner for his partner, and so he invited me.
I had heard a lot about the game but had never tried my hand at it. Players used to say that this was a game in which there was plenty of scope for the exercise of one’s intelligence. The Captain offered to give me lessons, and he found me a good pupil as I had unlimited patience. Every time I was the loser, and that made him all the more eager to teach me. I liked the game but never carried my liking beyond the boat or my knowledge beyond the moves of the pieces.
At Lamu, the ship remained at anchor for some three to four hours, and I landed to see the port. The Captain had also gone ashore, but he had warned me that the harbor was treacherous and that I should return in good time.
It was a very small place. I went to the Post Office and was delighted to see the Indian clerks there, and had a talk with them. I also saw the Africans and tried to acquaint myself with their ways of life which interested me very much. This took up some time.
There were some deck passengers with whom I had made acquaintance, and who had landed with a view to cooking their food onshore and having a quiet meal. I now found them preparing to return to the steamer, so we all got into the same boat.
The tide was high in the harbor and our boat had more than its proper load. The current was so strong that it was impossible to hold the boat to the ladder of the steamer. It would just touch the ladder and be drawn away again by the current. The first whistle to start had already gone. I was worried.
The Captain was witnessing our plight from the bridge. He ordered the steamer to wait an extra five minutes. There was another boat near the ship which a friend hired for me for ten rupees. This boat picked me up from the overloaded one. The ladder had already been raised. I had, therefore, to be drawn up by means of a rope and the steamer started immediately. The other passengers were left behind. I now appreciated the Captain’s warning.
After Lamu, the next port was Mombasa and then Zanzibar. The halt here was a long one eight or ten days and we then changed to another boat.
The Captain liked me much but the liking took an undesirable turn. He invited an English friend and me to accompany him on an outing, and we all what the outing meant.
And little did the Captain know what an ignoramus I was in such matters. We were taken to some Negro women’s quarters by a tout. We were each shown in a room. I simply stood there dumb with shame. Heaven only knows what the poor woman must have thought of me. He saw my innocence.
At first, I felt very much ashamed, but as I could not think of the thing except with horror, the sense of shame wore away, and I thanked God that the sight of the woman had no moved me in the least. I was disgusted at my weakness and pitied myself for not having had the courage to refuse to go into the room.
This is my life was the third trial of its kind. Many a youth, innocent at first, must have been drawn into sin by a false sense of shame. I could have credit if I had refused to enter that room. I must entirely thank the All-merciful for having saved me. The incident increased my faith in God and taught me, to a certain extent, to cast off false shame.
As we had to remain in this port for a week. I took rooms in the town and saw a good deal by wandering about the neighborhood. Only Malabar can give an idea of the luxuriant vegetation of Zanzibar. I was amazed at the gigantic trees and the size of the fruits.
The next call was at Mozambique and thence we reached Natal towards the close of May.
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On my way to Bombay, the train stopped at Allahabad for forty-five minutes. I decided to utilize the interval for a drive through the town.
I also had to purchase some medicine at a chemist’s shop. The chemist was half asleep and took an unconscionable time in dispensing the medicine, with the result that when I reached the station, the train had just started. The Station Master had kindly detained the train one minute for my sake, but not seeing me coming, had carefully ordered my luggage to be taken out of the train.
I took a room at Kellner’s and decided to start work there and then. I had heard a good deal about The Pioneer published from Allahabad, and I had understood it to be an opponent of Indian aspirations.
I have the impression that Mr. Chesney Jr. was the editor at that time. I wanted to secure the help of every party, so I wrote a note to Mr. Chesney, telling him how I had missed the train, and asking for an appointment so as to enable me to leave the next day. He immediately gave me one, at which I was very happy especially when I found that he gave me a patient hearing. He promised to notice in his paper anything that I might write but added that he could not promise to endorse all the Indian demands, inasmuch as he was bound to understand and give due weight to the viewpoint of the Colonials as well.
‘It is enough,’ I said, ‘that you should study the question and discuss it in your paper. I ask and desire nothing but the barest justice that is due to us.’
The rest of the day was spent in having a look round admiring the magnificent confluence of the three rivers, the Triveni, and planning the work before me.
This unexpected interview with the editor of The Pioneer laid the foundation of the series of incidents which ultimately led to my being lynched in Natal.
I went straight to Rajkot without halting at Bombay and began to make preparations for writing a pamphlet on the situation in South Africa.
The writing and publication of the pamphlet took about a month. It had a green cover and came to be known afterward as the Green Pamphlet. In it, I drew a purposely subdued picture of the condition of Indians in South Africa. The language I used was more moderate than that of the two pamphlets which I have referred to before, as I knew that things heard of from a distance appear bigger than they are.
Ten thousand copies were printed and sent to all the papers and leaders of every party in India. The Pioneer was the first to notice it editorially. A summary of the article was cabled by Reuter to England, and a summary of that summary was cabled to Natal by Reuter’s London office. This cable was not longer than three lines in print.
It was a miniature, but exaggerated, edition of the picture I had drawn of the treatment accorded to the Indians in Natal, and it was not in my words. We shall see later on the effect this had in Natal. In the meanwhile, every paper of note commented at length on the question.
To get these pamphlets ready for posting was no small matter. It would have been expensive too if I had employed paid help for preparing wrappers etc. But I hit upon a much simpler plan. I gathered together all the children in my locality and asked them to volunteer two or three hours’ labor of a morning when they had no school.
This they willingly agreed to do. I promised to bless them and give them, as a reward, used postage stamps which I had collected. They got through the work in no time. That was my first experiment of having little children as volunteers. Two of those little friends are my co-workers today.
Plague broke out in Bombay about this time, and there was panic all around. There was fear of an outbreak in Rajkot. As I felt that I could be of some help in the sanitation department, I offered my services to the State. They were accepted, and I was put on the committee which was appointed to look into the question.
I laid special emphasis on the cleanliness of latrines, and the committee decided to inspect these in every street. The poor people had no objection to their latrines being inspected, and what is more, they carried out the improvements suggested to them. But when we went to inspect the houses of the upper ten, some of them even refused us admission, not to talk of listening to our suggestions.
It was our common experience that the latrines of the rich were more unclean. They were dark and stinking and reeking with filth and worms. The improvements we suggested were quite simple, e.g., to have buckets for excrement instead of allowing it to drop on the ground; to see that urine also was collected in buckets, instead of allowing it to soak into the ground, and to demolish the partitions between the outer walls and the enable the scavenger to clean them properly. The upper classes raised numerous objections to this last improvement, and in most cases, it was not carried out.
The committee had to inspect untouchables’ quarters also. Only one member of the committee was ready to accompany me there. To the rest it was something preposterous to visit those quarters, still more so to inspect their latrines. But for me, those quarters were an agreeable surprise. That was the first visit in my life to such a locality. The men and women there were surprised to see us. I asked them to let us inspect their latrines.
‘Latrines for us!’ they exclaimed in astonishment. ‘We go and perform our functions out in the open. Latrines are for you big people.’
‘Well, then, you won’t mind if we inspect your houses?’ I asked.
‘You are perfectly welcome, sir. You may see every nook and corner of our houses. Ours are no houses, they are holes.’
I went in and was delighted to see that the insides were as clean as the outsides. The entrances were well swept, the floors were beautifully smeared with cow-dung, and the few pots and pans were clean and shining. There was no fear of an outbreak in those quarters.
In the upper-class quarters, we came across a latrine which I cannot help describing in some detail. Every room had its gutter, which was used both for water and urine, which meant that the whole house would stink.
But one of the houses had a storeyed bedroom with a gutter that was being used both as a urinal and a latrine. The gutter had a pipe descending to the ground floor. It was not possible to stand the foul smell in this room. How the occupants could sleep there I leave the readers to imagine.
The committee also visited the Vaishnava Haveli. The priest in charge of the Haveli was very friendly with my family. So he agreed to let us inspect everything and suggest whatever improvements we liked. There was a part of the Haveli premises that he himself had never seen.
It was the place where refuse and leaves used as dinner- plates used to be thrown over the wall. It was the haunt of crows and kites. The latrines were of course dirty. I was not long enough in Rajkot to see how many of our suggestions the priest carried out.
It pained me to see so much uncleanliness about a place of worship. One would expect a careful observance of the rules of sanitation and hygiene in a place that is regarded as holy. The authors of the Smritis, as I knew even then, have laid the greatest emphasis on cleanliness both inward and outward.
Mahatma Gandhi Ji biography
We now reach the stage in this story when I began seriously to think of taking the brahmacharya vow. I had been wedded to a monogamous ideal ever since my marriage, faithfulness to my wife being part of the love of truth. But it was in South Africa that I came to realize the importance of observing brahmacharya even with respect to my wife.
I cannot definitely say what circumstance or what book it was, that set my thoughts in that direction, but I have a recollection that the predominant factor was the influence of Raychandbhai, of whom I have already written, I can still recall a conversation that I had with him.
On one occasion I spoke to him in high praise of Mrs. Gladstone’s devotion to her husband. I had read somewhere that Mrs. Gladstone insisted on preparing tea for Mr. Gladstone even in the House of Commons, and that this had become a rule in the life of this illustrious couple, whose actions were governed by regularity.
I spoke of this to the poet, and incidentally eulogized conjugal love.’ Which of the two do you prize more,’ asked Raychandbhai,’the love of Mrs. Gladstone for her husband as his wife, or her devoted service irrespective of her relation to Mr. Gladstone? Supposing she had been his sister or his devoted servant, and ministered to him with the same attention, what would you have said?
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Do we not have instances of such devoted sisters or servants? Supposing you had found the same loving devotion in a male servant, would you have been pleased in the same way as in Mrs. Gladstone’s case ? Just examine the view-point suggested by me.’
Raychandbhai was himself married. I have the impression that at the moment his words sounded harsh, but they gripped me irresistibly. The devotion of a servant was, I felt, thousand times more praiseworthy than that of a wife to her husband. There was nothing surprising in the wife’s devotion to her husband, as there was an indissoluble bond between them. The devotion was perfectly natural. But it required.
a special effort to cultivate equal devotion between master and servant. The poet’s point of view began gradually to grow upon me. What then, I asked myself, should be my relation with my wife? Did my faithfulness consist in making my wife the instrument of my lust?
So long as I was the slave of lust, my faithfulness was worth nothing. To be fair to my wife, I must say that she was never the temptress. It was, therefore, the easiest thing for me to take the vow of brahmacharya if only I willed it. It was my weak will or lustful attachment that was the obstacle. Even after my conscience had been roused in the matter, I failed twice. I failed because the motive that actuated the effort was none the highest.
My main object was to escape having more children. Whilst in England I had read something about contraceptives. I have already referred to Dr. Allinson’s birth control propaganda in the chapter on Vegetarianism. If it had some temporary effect on me, Mr. Hill’s opposition to those methods and his advocacy of internal efforts as opposed to outward means, in a word, of self-control, had a far greater effect, which in due time came to be abiding.
Seeing, therefore, that I did not desire more children I began to strive after self-control. There was endless difficulty in the task. We began to sleep in separate beds. I decided to retire to bed only after the day’s work had left me completely exhausted. All these efforts did not seem to bear much fruit, but when I look back upon the past, I feel that the final resolution was the cumulative effect of those unsuccessful strivings.
The final resolution could only be made as late as 1906. Satyagraha had not then been started. I had not the least notion of its coming. I was practicing in Johannesburg at the time of the Zulu ‘Rebellion’ in Natal, which came soon after the Boer War. I felt that I must offer my services to the Natal Government on that occasion. The offer was accepted, as we shall see in another chapter. But the work set me furiously thinking in the direction of self-control, and according to my won’t I discussed my thoughts with my co-workers, It became my conviction that procreation and the consequent care of children were inconsistent with public service.
I had to break up my household at Johannesburg to be able to serve during the ‘Rebellion’. Within one month of offering my services, I had to give up the house I had so carefully furnished. I took my wife and children to Phoenix and led the Indian ambulance corps attached to the Natal forces. During the difficult marches that had then to be performed, the idea flashed upon me that if I wanted to devote myself to the service of the community in this manner, I must relinquish the desire for children and wealth and live the life of a vanaprastha – of one retired from household cares.
The’Rebellion’ did not occupy me for more than six weeks, but this brief period proved to be a very important epoch in my life. The importance of vows grew upon me more clearly than ever before. I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it. Up to this time I had not met with success because the will had been lacking, because I had had no faith in myself, no faith in the grace of God, and therefore, my mind had been tossed on the boisterous sea of doubt. I realized that in refusing to take a vow man was drawn into temptation, and that to be bound by a vow was like a passage from libertinism to a real monogamous marriage. ‘I believe in effort, I do not want to bind myself with vows,’ is the mentality of weakness and betrays a subtle desire for the thing to be avoided. Or where can be the difficulty in making a final decision?
I vow to flee from the serpent which I know will bite me, I do not simply make an effort to flee from him. I know that mere effort may mean certain death. Mere effort means ignorance of the certain fact that the serpent is bound to kill me.
The fact, therefore, that I could rest content with an effort only, means that I have not yet clearly realized the necessity of definite action.’ But supposing my views are changed in the future, how can I bind myself by a vow? ‘ Such a doubt often deters us. But that doubt also betrays a lack of clear perception that a particular thing must be renounced. That is why Nishkulanand has sung: ‘Renunciation without aversion is not lasting.’
Where therefore the desire is gone, a vow of renunciation is the natural and inevitable fruit.
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After full discussion and mature deliberation, I took the vow in 1906. I had not shared my thoughts with my wife until then but only consulted her at the time of taking the vow.
She had no objection. But I had great difficulty in making the final resolve. I had not the necessary strength. How was I to control my passions? The elimination of a carnal relationship with one’s wife seemed then a strange thing. But I launched forth with faith in the sustaining power of God.
As I look back upon the twenty years of the vow, I am filled with pleasure and wonderment. The more or less successful practice of self-control had been going on since 1901. But the freedom and joy that came to me after taking the vow had never been experienced before 1906.
Before the vow, I had been open to being overcome by temptation at any moment. Now the vow was a sure shield against temptation. The great potentiality of brahmacharya daily became more an more patent to me. The vow was taken when I was in Phoenix. As soon as I was free from ambulance work, I went to Phoenix, whence I had to return to Johannesburg. In about a month of my returning there, the foundation of Satyagraha was laid.
As though unknown to me, the brahmacharya vow had been preparing me for it. Satyagraha had not been a preconceived plan. It came on spontaneously, without my having willed it. But I could see that all my previous steps had led up to that goal. I had cut down my heavy household expenses at Johannesburg and gone to Phoenix to take, as it were, the brahmacharya vow.
The knowledge that a perfect observance of brahmacharya means the realization of brahman, I did not owe to a study of the Shastras. It slowly grew upon me with experience. The Shastri texts on the subject I read only later in life. Every day of the vow has taken me nearer the knowledge that in brahmacharya lies the protection of the body, the mind, and the soul. For #brahmacharya# was now no process of hard penance, it was a matter of consolation and joy. Every day revealed a fresh beauty in it.
But if it was a matter of ever-increasing joy, let no one believe that it was an easy thing for me. Even when I am past fifty-six years, I realize how hard a thing it is. Every day I realize more and more that it is like walking on the sword’s edge, and I see every moment the necessity for eternal vigilance.
Control of the palate is the first essential in the observance of the vow. I found that complete control of the palate made the observance very easy, and so I now pursued my dietetic experiments not merely from the vegetarian’s but also from the #brahmachari’s# point of view. As a result of these experiments I saw that the #brahmachari’s# food should be limited, simple, spiceless, and, if possible, uncooked.
Six years of the experiment have shown me that the Brahmachari’s ideal food is fresh fruit and nuts. The immunity from the passion that I enjoyed when I lived on this food was unknown to me after I changed that diet. Brahmacharya needed no effort on my part in South Africa when I lived on fruits and nuts alone.
It has been a matter of very great effort ever since I began to take milk. How I had to go back to milk from a fruit diet will be considered in its proper place. It is enough to observe here that I have not the least doubt that the milk diet makes the brahmacharya vow difficult to observe.
Let no one deduce from this that all brahmacharis must give up milk. The effect on brahmacharya of different kinds of food can be determined only after numerous experiments. I have yet to find a fruit substitute for milk which is an equally good muscle-builder and easily digestible. The doctors, vaidyas, and hakims have alike failed to enlighten me. Therefore, though I know milk to be partly a stimulant, I cannot, for the time being, advise anyone to give it up.
As an external aid to brahmacharya, fasting is as necessary as selection and restriction in diet. So overpowering are the senses that they can be kept under control only when they are completely hedged in on all sides, from above and from beneath.
It is common knowledge that they are powerless without food, and so fasting undertaken with a view to controlling of the senses is, I have no doubt, very helpful. With some, fasting is of no avail, because assuming that mechanical fasting alone will make them immune, they keep their bodies without food, but feast their minds upon all sorts of delicacies, thinking all the while what they will eat and what they will drink after the fast terminates.
Such fasting helps them in controlling neither palate nor lust. Fasting is useful when mind co-operates with the starving body, that is to say when it cultivates a distaste for the objects that are denied to the body. Mind is at the root of all sensuality.
Fasting, therefore, has limited use, for a fasting man may continue to be swayed by passion. But it may be said that extinction of the sexual passion is, as a rule, impossible without fasting, which may be said to be indispensable for the observance of #brahmacharya#.
Many aspirants after #brahmacharya# fail, because in the use of their other senses they want to carry on like those who are not #brahmacharis#. Their effort is, therefore, identical with the effort to experience the bracing cold of winter in the scorching summer months.
There should be a clear line between the life of a #brahmachari# and of one who is not. The resemblance that there is between the two is only apparent. The distinction ought to be clear as daylight. Both use their eyesight, but whereas the #brahmachari# uses it to see the glories of God, the other uses it to see the frivolity around him. Both use their ears, but whereas the one hears nothing but praises of God, the other feasts his ears upon ribaldry.
Both often keep late hours, but whereas the one devotes them to prayer, the other fritters them away in wild and wasteful mirth. Both feed the inner man, but the one only to keep the temple of God in good repair, while the other gorges himself and makes the sacred vessel a stinking gutter. Thus both live as the poles apart, and the distance between them will grow and not diminish with the passage of time.
Brahmacharya means control of the senses in thought, word, and deed. Every day I have been realizing more and more the necessity for restraints of the kind I have detailed above. There is no limit to the possibilities of renunciation even as there is none to those of #brahmacharya#. Such #brahmacharya# is impossible of attainment by limited effort.
For many, it must remain only as an ideal. An aspirant after #brahmacharya# will always be conscious of his shortcomings, will seek out the passions lingering in the innermost recesses of his heart and will incessantly strive to get rid of them. So long as thought is not under complete control of the will, #brahmacharya# in its fulness is absent. Involuntary thought is an affection of the mind, and the curbing of thought, therefore, means curbing of the mind which is even more difficult to curb than the wind.
Nevertheless, the existence of God within makes even control of the mind possible. Let no one think that it is impossible because it is difficult. It is the highest goal, and it is no wonder that the highest effort should be necessary to attain it.
But it was after coming to India that I realized that such #brahmacharya# was impossible to attain by mere human effort. Until then I had been laboring under the delusion that fruit diet alone would enable me to eradicate all passions, and I had flattered myself with the belief that I had nothing more to do.
But I must not anticipate the chapter of my struggle. Meanwhile let me make it clear that those who desire to observe brahmacharya with a view to realizing God need not despair, provided their faith in God is equal to their confidence in their own effort.
‘The sense-objects turn away from an abstemious soul, leaving the relish behind. The relish also disappears with the realization of the Highest.’ Therefore His name and His grace are the vast resources of the aspirant after moksha. This truth came to me only after my return to India.
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It has always been impossible for me to reconcile myself to any one member of the body politic remaining out of use. I have always been loath to hide or connive at the. weak points of the community or to press for its rights without having purged it of its blemishes.
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Therefore, ever since my settlement in Natal, I had been endeavoring to clear the community of a charge that had been leveled against it, not without a certain amount of truth. The charge had often been made that the Indian was slovenly in his habits and did not keep his house and surroundings clean.
The principal men of the community had, therefore, already begun to put their houses in order, but house-to-house inspection was undertaken only when the plague was reported to be imminent in Durban. This was done after consulting and gaining the approval of, the city fathers, who had desired our co-operation.
Our co-operation made work easier for them and at the same time lessened our hardships. For whenever there is an outbreak of epidemics, the executive, as a general rule, get impatient, take excessive measures and behave to such as may have incurred their displeasure with a heavy hand. The community saved itself from this oppression by voluntarily taking sanitary measures.
But I had some bitter experiences. I saw that I could not so easily count on the help of the community in getting it to do its own duty, as I could in claiming for its rights. At some places, I met with insults, at others with polite indifference. It was too much for people to bestir themselves to keep their surroundings clean.
To expect them to find the money for the work was out of the question. These experiences taught me, better than ever before, that without infinite patience it was impossible to get the people to do any work. It is the reformer who is anxious for the reform, and not society, from which he should expect nothing better than opposition, abhorrence and even mortal persecution. Why may not society regard as retrogression what the reformer holds dear as life itself?
Nevertheless, the result of this agitation was that the Indian community learned to recognize more or less the necessity for keeping their houses and environments clean. I gained the esteem of the authorities. They saw that, though I had made it my business to ventilate grievances and press for rights, I was no less keen and insistent upon self-purification.
There was one thing, however, which still remained to be done, namely, the awakening in the Indian settler of a sense of duty to the motherland. India was poor, the Indian settler went to South Africa in search of wealth, and he was bound to contribute part of his earnings for the benefit of his countrymen in the hour of their adversity. This the settler did during the terrible famines of 1897 and 1899.
They contributed handsomely for famine relief, and more so in 1899 than in 1897. We had appealed to Englishmen also for funds, and they had responded well. Even the indentured Indians gave their share to the contribution, and the system inaugurated at the time of these famines has been continued ever since, and we know that Indians in South Africa never fail to send handsome contributions to India in times of national calamity.
Thus service of the Indians in South Africa ever revealed to me new implications of truth at every stage. Truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it. The deeper the search in the mine of truth the richer the discovery of the gems buried there, in the shape of openings for an ever greater variety of service.
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On my relief from war-duty, I felt that my work was no longer in South Africa but in India. Not that there was nothing to be done in South Africa, but I was afraid that my main business might become merely money-making. Friends at home were also pressing me to return, and I felt that I should be of more service in India. And for the work in South Africa, there were, of course, Messrs Khan and Mansukhlal Nazar.
So I requested my coworkers to relieve me. After very great difficulty my request was conditionally accepted, the condition being that I should be ready to go back to South Africa if, within a year, the community should need me. I thought it was a difficult condition but the love that bound me to the community made me accept it. ‘The Lord has bound me With the cotton-thread of love, I am His bondslave,’ sang Mirabai. And for me, too, the cotton-thread of love that bound me to the community was too strong to break. The voice of the people is the voice of God, and hear the voice of friends was too real to be rejected. I accepted the condition and got their permission to go.
At this time I was intimately connected only with Natal. The Natal Indians bathed me with the nectar of love. Farewell meetings were arranged at every place, and costly gifts were presented to me.
Gifts had been bestowed on me before when I returned to India in 1899, but this time the farewell was overwhelming. The gifts, of course, included things in gold and silver, but there were articles of a costly diamond as well.
What right had I to accept all these gifts? Accepting them, how could I persuade myself that I was serving the community without remuneration? A11 the gifts, excepting a few from my clients, were purely for my service to the community, and I could make no difference between my clients and co-workers; for the clients also helped me in my public work.
One of the gifts was a gold necklace/worth fifty guineas, meant for my wife. But even that gift was given because of my public work, and so it could not be separated from the rest.
The evening I was presented with the bulk of these things I had a sleepless night. I walked up and down my room deeply agitated but could find no solution. It was difficult for me to forego gifts worth hundreds, it was more difficult to keep them.
And even if I could keep them, what about my children? What about my wife? They were being trained to a life of service and to an understanding that service was its own reward.
I had no costly ornaments in the house. We had been fast simplifying our life How then could we afford to have gold watches? How could we afford to wear gold chains and diamond rings? Even then I was exhorting people to conquer the infatuation for jewelry. What was I now to do with the jewelry that had come upon me?
I decided that I could not keep these things. I drafted a letter, creating a trust of them in favor of the community and appointing Parsi Rustomji and other trustees. In the morning I held a consultation with my wife and children and finally got rid of the heavy incubus.
I knew that I should have some difficulty in persuading my wife, and I was sure that I should have none so far as the children were concerned. So I decided to constitute them, my attorneys.
The children readily agreed to my proposal. ‘We do not need these costly presents, we must return them to the community, and should we ever need them, we could easily purchase them,’ they said.
I was delighted.’ Then you will plead with mother, won’t you? ‘ I asked them.
‘Certainly,’ said they. ‘That is our business. She did not need to wear ornaments. She would want to keep them for us, and if we don’t want them, why should she not agree to part with them ?’
But it was easier said than done.
‘You may not need them,’ said my wife. ‘ Your children may not need them. Cajoled they will dance to your tune. I can understand you are not permitting me to wear them. But what about my daughters-in-law? They will be sure to need them. And who knows what will happen tomorrow? I would be the last person to part with gifts so lovingly given.’
And thus the torrent of argument went on, reinforced, in the end, by tears. But the children were adamant. And I was unmoved.
I mildly put in: ‘The children have yet to get married. We do not want to see them married young. When they are grown up, they can take care of themselves. And surely we shall not have, for our sons, brides who are fond of ornaments. And if after all, we need to provide them with ornaments, I am there. You will ask me then.’ ‘Ask you?
I know you at this time. You deprived me of my ornaments, you would not leave me in peace with them. Fancy you offering to get ornaments for the daughters-in-law! You who are trying to make sadhus of my boys from today! No, the ornaments will not be returned. And pray what right have you to my necklace? ‘
‘But,’ I rejoined,’ is the necklace given you for your service or for my service ?’
‘I agree. But the service rendered by you is as good as rendered by me. I have toiled and moiled for you day and night. Is that no service? You forced all and sundry on me, making me weep bitter tears, and I slaved for them !’
These were pointed thrusts, and some of them went home. But I was determined to return the ornaments. I somehow succeeded in extorting a consent from her. The gifts received in 1896 and 1901 were all returned. A trust-deed was prepared, and they were deposited with a bank, to be used for the service of the community, according to my wishes or to those of the trustees.
Often, when I was in need of funds for public purposes and felt that I must draw upon the trust, I have been able to raise the requisite amount, leaving the trust money intact. The fund is still there, being operated upon in times of need, and it has regularly accumulated.
I have never since regretted the step, and as the years have gone by, my wife has also seen its wisdom. It has saved us from many temptations.
I am definitely of the opinion that a public worker should accept no costly gifts.
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There were yet two days for the Congress session to begin. I had made up my mind to offer my services to the Congress office in order to gain some experience. So as soon as I had finished the daily ablutions on arrival at Calcutta, I proceeded to the Congress office.
Babu Bhupendranath Basu and Sjt. Ghosal were the secretaries. I went to Bhupenbabu and offered my services. He looked at me and said: ‘I have no work, but possibly Ghosalbabu might have something to give you. Please go to him.’
So I went to him. He scanned me and said with a smile: ‘I can give you only clerical work. Will you do it?’
‘Certainly,’ said I. ‘ I am here to do anything that is not beyond my capacity.’
‘That is the right spirit, young man,’ he said. Addressing the volunteers who surrounded him, he added, ‘Do you hear what this young man says?’
Then turning to me he proceeded: ‘Well then, here is a heap of letters for disposal. Take that chair and begin. As you see, hundreds of people come to see me. What am I to do? Am I to meet them, or am I to answer these busybodies inundating me with letters? I have no clerks to whom I can entrust this work. Most of these letters have nothing in them, but you will please look them through. Acknowledge those that are worth it, and refer to me those that need a considered reply.’
I was delighted at the confidence reposed in me.
Sjt. Ghosal did not know me when he gave me the work. Only later did he enquire about my credentials.
I found my work very easy – the disposal of that heap of correspondence. I had done with it in no time and Sjt. Ghosal was very glad. He was talkative.
He would talk away for hours together. When he learned something from me about my history, he felt rather sorry to have given me clerical work. But I reassured him: ‘Please don’t worry. What am I before you? You have grown gray in the service of the Congress, and are as an elder to me. I am but an inexperienced youth. You have put me under a debt of obligation by entrusting me with this work. I want to do Congress work, and you have given me the rare opportunity of understanding the details.’
‘To tell you the truth,’ said St. Ghosal, ‘that is the proper spirit. But young men of today do not realize it. Of course, I have known the Congress since its birth. In fact, I may claim a certain share with Mr. Hume in bringing the Congress into being.’
And thus we became good friends. He insisted on my having lunch with him.
Sjt. Ghosal used to get his shirt buttoned by his bearer. I volunteered to do the bearer’s duty, and I loved to do it, as my regard for elders was always great. When he came to know this, he did not mind my doing little acts of personal service for him. In fact, he was delighted. Asking me to button his shirt, he would say, ‘You see, now, the Congress secretary has no time even to button his shirt. He has always some work to do.’ Sgt. Ghosal’s naivete amused me but did not create any dislike in me for service of that nature. The benefit I received from this service is incalculable.
In a few days, I came to know the working of Congress. I met most of the leaders. I observed the movements of stalwarts like Gokhale and Surendranath. I also noticed a huge waste of time there. I observed too, with sorrow even then, the prominent place that the English language occupied in our affairs. There was little regard for the economy of energy. More than once did the work of one, and many an important thing was no one’s business at all.
Critical as my mind was in observing these things, there was enough charity in me, and so I always thought that it might, after all, be impossible to do better in the circumstances, and that saved me from undervaluing any work.
mahatma gandhi ji biography Kheda satyagrah mahatma gandhi ji biography
No breathing time was, however, in store for me. Hardly was the Ahmedabad mill-hands’ strike over, when I had to plunge into the Kheda Satyagraha struggle.
A condition approaching famine had arisen in the Kheda district owing to a widespread failure of crops, and the Patidars of Kheda were considering the question of getting the revenue assessment for the year suspended.
Sjt. Amritlal Thakkar had already inquired into and reported on the situation and personally discussed the question with the Commissioner before I gave definite advice to the cultivators. Sjts. Mohanlal Pandya and Shankarlal Parikh had also thrown themselves into the fight and had set up an agitation in the Bombay Legislative Council through Sjt. Vithalbhai Patel and the late Sir Gokuldas Kahandas Parekh. More than one deputation had waited upon the Governor in that connection.
I was at this President of the Gujarat Sabha. The Sabha sent petitions and telegrams to the Government and even patiently swallowed the insults and threats of the Commissioner. The conduct of the officials on this occasion was so ridiculous and undignified as to be almost incredible now.
The cultivators’ demand was as clear as daylight and so moderate as to make out a strong case for its acceptance. Under the Land Revenue Rules, if the crop was four annas or under, the cultivators could claim full suspension of the revenue assessment for the year.
According to the official figures the crop was said to be over four annas. The contention of the cultivators, on the other hand, was that it was less than four annas. But the Government was in on mood to listen and regarded the popular demand for arbitration as #lese majeste#. At last, all petitioning and prayer having failed, after taking counsel with co-workers, I advised the Patidars to resort to Satyagraha.
Besides the volunteers of Kheda, my principal comrades in this struggle were Sjts. Vallabhbhai Patel, Shankarlal Banker, Shrimati Anasuyabehn, Sjts. Indulal Yajnik, Mahadev Desai and others. Sjt. Vallabhbhai, in joining the struggle, had to suspend a splendid and growing practice at the bar, which for all practical purposes he was never able to resume.
The following pledge was signed by the Satyagrahis: ‘Knowing that the crops of our villages are less than four annas, we requested the Government to suspend the collection of revenue assessment till the ensuing year, but the Government had not acceded to our prayer.
Therefore, we, the undersigned, hereby solemnly declare that we shall not, of our own accord, pay to the Government the full or the remaining revenue for the year. We shall let the Government take whatever legal steps it may think fit and gladly suffer the consequences of our non-payment.
We shall rather let our lands be forfeited than that by voluntary payment we should allow our case to be considered false or should compromise our self-respect. Should the Government, however, agree to suspend collection of the second installment of the assessment throughout the district, such amongst us as are in a position to pay will pay up the whole or the balance of the revenue that may be due.
The reason why those who are able to pay still withhold payment is that, if they pay up, the poorer ryots may in a panic sell their chattels or incur debts to pay their dues, and thereby bring suffering upon themselves. In these circumstances, we feel that, for the sake of the poor, it is the duty even of those who can afford to pay to withhold payment of their assessment.’
I cannot devote many chapters to this struggle. So a number of sweet recollections in this connection will have to be crowded out. Those who want to make a fuller and deeper study of this important fight would do well to read the full and authentic history of the Kheda Satyagraha by Sjt. Shankarlal Parikh of Kathlal, Kheda.
The campaign came to an unexpected end. It was clear that the people were exhausted, and I hesitated to let the unbending be driven to utter ruin.
I was casting about for some graceful way of terminating the struggle which would be acceptable to a Satyagrahi. Such a one appeared quite unexpectedly. The Mamlatdar of the Nadiad Taluka sent me word that, if well-to-do Patidars paid up, the poorer ones would be granted suspension. I asked for a written undertaking to that effect, which was given. But as a Mamlatdar could be responsible only for his Taluka, I inquired of the Collector, who alone could give an undertaking in respect of the whole district, whether the Mamlatdar’s undertaking was true for the whole district.
He replied that orders declaring suspension in terms of the Mamlatdar’s letter had been already issued. I was not aware of it, but if it was a fact, the people’s pledge had been fulfilled. The pledge, it will be remembered, had the same things for its object, and so we expressed ourselves satisfied with the orders.
However, the end was far from making me feel happy, inasmuch as it lacked the grace with which the termination of every Satyagraha campaign ought to be accompanied. The Collector carried on as though he had done nothing by way of a settlement. The poor were to be granted suspension, but hardly any got the benefit of it. It was the people’s right to determine who was poor, but they could not exercise it.
I was sad that they had not the strength to exercise the right. Although therefore, the termination was celebrated as a triumph of Satyagraha, I could not enthuse over it, as it lacked the essentials of a complete triumph.
The end of a Satyagraha campaign can be described as worthy, only when, it leaves the Satyagrahis stronger and more spirited than they are in the beginning.
The campaign was not, however, without its indirect results which we can see today and the benefit of which we are reaping. The Kheda Satyagraha marks the beginning of an awakening among the peasants of Gujarat, the beginning of their true political education.
Dr. Besant’s brilliant Home Rule agitation had certainly touched the peasants, but it was the Kheda campaign that compelled the educated public workers to establish contact with the actual life of the peasants. They learned to identify themselves with the latter.
They found their proper sphere of work, their capacity for sacrifice increased. That Vallabhbhai found himself during this campaign was by itself no small achievement. We could realize its measure during the flood relief operations last year and the Bardoli Satyagraha this year. Public life in Gujarat became instinct with new energy and new vigor. The Patidar peasant came to an unforgettable conciousness of his strength.
The lesson was indelibly imprinted on the public mind that the salvation of the people depends upon themselves, upon their capacity for suffering and sacrifice. Through the Kheda campaign, Satyagraha took firm roots in the soil of Gujarat.
Although therefore, I found nothing to enthuse over in the termination of the Satyagraha, the Kheda peasants were jubilant, because they knew that what they had found the true and infallible method for a redress of their grievances. This knowledge was enough justification for their jubilation.
Nevertheless, the Kheda peasants had not fully understood the inner meaning of Satyagraha, and they saw it to their cost, as we shall see in the chapters to follow.
mahatma gandhi ji biography Rowlett Act & Opposition Dandi
This was the ‘Rowlett Act’, due to which Gandhiji stepped into Indian politics. From 1919 to 1948, Mahatma Gandhi remained in the center of Indian politics. Be the hero of the Indian freedom struggle. As soon as politics became active, Gandhiji changed the appearance of Indian politics. Because of their struggle, people accepted them as gods.
However, the Rowlett bill was not normal. There was a stir in this whole country. Gandhiji was also in the process of deciding what kind of protest against this bill? The topic of their concern was violence. They did not want the masses gathered in the opposition to be immensely enthusiastic would be subjected to violence. Finally, in the mind of Gandhiji came the idea that why peaceful protests should be held in all areas to protest against it.
The nationwide strike began on Gandhiji’s appeal The enthusiasm of the Hindus and Muslims surprised everyone. Gandhiji did not even realize that people would get such tremendous support. The ears of the British Government also stood It felt as if an earthquake was shaking the British Empire. Gandhiji’s magic came from Delhi to Amritsar. Gandhiji wanted to go to Punjab, but he was arrested on the way and brought back to Bombay.
News of Gandhiji’s arrest spread like a fire in the forest. The crowd of people started gathering in different cities, some sporadic violent incidents. When Gandhiji returned to Ahmedabad, he was informed that the angry mob killed a police officer. Gandhiji said, “Even if the dagger was thrown in my chest, I did not suffer so much as this incident of violence has happened.” They got restless from this incident. Gandhiji withdrew the satyagraha and kept fast for three days to atone for this sin.
On 13th April 1919, Gandhiji announced the fast for three days, that same day a gruesome incident took place in Jalianwala Bagh of Amritsar district of Punjab. British General Dyer rushed to Jalianvala Bagh with his army. Many cycles of bullets were ruthlessly on the calm, innocent people. Later the government told in its report that in this incident, 400 people were killed and 1,000 to 2,000 people were killed and 3,600 seriously injured.
The whole country is gathered against it. Given the severity of the situation, ‘martial law’ was introduced in Punjab. This action was so inhuman that Sir Valentin himself said, “This day was a ‘black day’, which the British government would not even want to forget. Now it was impossible for Gandhiji to keep quiet.
Gandhiji now searches for a new route that shakes the British government. By bringing Hindu-Muslim to a stage, they gave a mantra to start the non-cooperation movement against the British rule. Like a magician, he started his movement. His movement was bringing color to the corner of the country. First of all, this movement started by Gandhiji himself. He returned to Viceroy, the Medal he had received for his service during World War I.
Many Indian scholars have returned their titles. Some have returned the respect given by the government. Lawyers advocate students leave school and college Thousands of people went to village-village and lit up the torch of this movement. Everything was happening while following Ahimsa. Holi of foreign clothes started burning in the corner of the country.
People started spinning wheel Simultaneously, Indian women also came out on the way to the hearth. Gandhiji’s speech, articles were also stirring people. Take a look at the ‘Young India’ and ‘Navjivan’ Weekly, they took lots of juice. Thousands of people were picked up and locked in jail Many civilians were prosecuted in court.
In February 1922, there was a stagnation in the movement when the agitated mob attacked the Chauri-Chaura. News of this violence Gandhiji was very disappointed. They suspended the agitation. Also, taking this violent action of the people as a crime, they started fasting for five days.
In the meantime, he also prayed for God to apologize to the people of this work. Seeing the movement suspended, the government took a golden chance, he arrested Gandhiji. The judge sentenced him to 6 years in court. At the same time, Saha also added that if the movement ceases, then Gandhiji’s sentence will be reduced and reduced. The judge said, “If this happens then I will be very happy.”
This sentence for Gandhiji proved to be a blessing without being punished. They spent all their time praying, studying and spinning yarn. But in January 1924, he became seriously ill by becoming a victim of ‘acute appendicitis’. He was taken to a hospital in Poona. Where a British surgeon conducted a successful operation. After this the government released him.
After this, the situation further disturbed Gandhiji. Seeing the country scorching in communal riots, his heart began to moan. Given the situation, Gandhiji decided to fast for 21 days. I am praying and praying so that the hearts of the people of my country can meet with each other. They can understand each other’s religion and their feelings.
For the next five years, Gandhiji did not make any special contribution to Indian politics. Now his goal was to remove the oddities in the Indian society. He gave attention to the primary needs of the people, the Hindu-Muslim unity, the untouchability (touching) women’s equality, the population problems, etc.
They dreamed about the reconstruction of Indian villages and they started seeing. I wish that the citizens of the country, along with English slavery, get rid of social and economic slavery.
It is also a fact that after being released from jail, Gandhiji has seen that Congress has been divided. By the year 1929, many leaders began to fight for independence by making different platforms at their own level. This scandal did not reflect Gandhiji’s mind. Once again Gandhiji stood up.
He took over the command of the nation’s leadership. On 26 January 1930, the oath of independence of the country was taken in the corner of the country. It was a strong warning to the British Government. The slogan of Gandhiji’s ‘Full Swaraj’ was echoing across the countryside. Now the eyes of the whole country were towards Sabarmati.
On March 12, 1930, Gandhi informed Viceroy that he was going to visit Dandi with his 78 followers. Many members of the ashram, men and women sailed on a historic 24-day trip. The poor farmers were not able to cultivate their salt due to British law. It was a common issue in the way, but by an “old man” this walk of 241 miles to the British government slept. On April 6, 1930, Gandhiji first prayed.
After this, they went to the salt field and broke the salt law by raising salt. After this, people have broken this law while imitating Gandhiji in every corner of the country at the national level. Thousands of men and women, farmers of villages, procured thousands of crores. People gave arrests
The police charged the sticks, police also opened pills at several places. Gandhiji was also arrested on the night of May 4. Thousands of people were jailed in a few weeks.
The first round table council was held on November 1930. The government reviewed this movement spread all over the country. In the concluding session of the conference on 19 January 1931, Ramsay MacDonald expressed the hope that Congress would also be included in the second Round Table council.
Gandhiji and other Congress leaders were released on 26th January without any condition. Just after one year when the promise of independence was promised. It soon started on 14th February between Gandhiji and Irwin. The conversation continued even after several disagreements. The first three-and-a-half-hour talks were held on February 17 and followed for several days.
The Gandhi-Irwin Agreement was concluded on March 5, 1931. Gandhiji said – ‘This agreement is conditional.’ This agreement was to maintain peace in India. The civil disobedience movement was withdrawn. All political prisoners were released. Along with this, salt sales were opened around the beaches. Politically, the biggest historical benefit was that the Indian National Congress agreed to participate in the second round of the Round Table Conference in London.
mahatma gandhi ji biography Second Round Table Conference and ‘Christmas Gift’
The Gandhi-Irwin Agreement was finished. Gandhiji left for London on August 29, 1931, to participate in the Second Golmachal Council. He was the only representative of Congress to participate in the Council. Gandhiji himself said, “There is every possible chance of returning empty-handed from this council.” They were right too.
After reaching there on September 12, 1931, his hand was dry. Despite this, his travels became the subject of discussion among the people there. The stories about Gandhiji began to be called. It was a great thing for British citizens that a simple, honest, sincere person came in between them. Gandhiji’s personality influenced everyone.
After reaching London, Gandhiji stayed in Kingsley Hall of the West Bank of East End. Through his public service and simple nature, Gandhiji won the hearts of the youth and the elderly class there. They became the favorite of everyone. Their innocence, kindness broke the boundaries of nation and nation. When people used to tell him about their children, their answer would be, “You can wear four tones, I can not wear four babies.”
There was a pleasant event in Gandhiji’s visit to England. It was his meeting with mill workers of Lancashire. In India, the direct hit of excommunication of foreign women was lying on these people and many lakhs of workers were lost. All workers meet them with great humility and love. A useless laborer even said so, “I am a worthless laborer, but if I were in India, then what Gandhiji did.”
While returning, Gandhiji went to meet Roman Roland in Switzerland. In a meeting of the Fascist there he explained that the belief of ‘God is the truth’ is more powerful than the belief that ‘Truth is God.’
On the day Gandhiji reached Bombay, on that day he said, “My trip to England and Europe for three months has not been completely useless.” I felt that the eastern country is the eastern country and the western countries are western. There is a lot of similarities, it does not matter who is in an environment, within all, the flower of faith and love is spreading its fragrance. ”
Gandhiji soon realized that the ‘Gandhi-Irwin’ agreement was dissolved by the British government. She has been put in the trash bin. The new viceroy Lord Willingdon had created many uneven conditions with his new black law. It was common for the people to shoot them and shoot them.
Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru, who went to receive Gandhiji in Bombay, was arrested on the way. When Gandhiji reached Bombay on December 28, 1931, he had said, “I think that this ordinance is a gift from us on behalf of our Christian viceroy Lord Willingdon.” One week later, arresting Gandhiji and locking him in Yerawada prison. The punishment was not taken until the court was adjourned.
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Gandhiji had retired from ‘politics’. But in reality, he was deeply involved with the problems of Indian life. World War II brought them back to the political arena. Without asking the Indians, the British government also shook India in the war. The English were familiar with Gandhiji’s role in the Boer War.
Viceroy Lord Linlithgow called Gandhiji to Shimla the next day after the announcement of the war. Gandhiji sympathized with England while discussing with the sad heart of the war. They were prepared to give unconditional England support They did not want to take advantage of England’s compulsion, it was against their theory. Congress, on the other hand, wanted to give support to England only in special conditions.
Congress leaders released a declaration on September 14, 1939, in which Hitler’s assault was condemned and it was said that ‘an independent India’ would support other independent nations. Gandhiji’s view was not included in this manifesto. The Congress was replied in ‘No’, and it was said that Britain can not give power to such an Indian government, on which a large section of the Indian public has an objection. The signal was towards non-Congress and anti-Congress Muslims, whose command was in the hands of Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
It was more than twenty years for Gandhiji to say that India could not get independence without Hindu-Muslim unity. But the color of communalism has been rising again and again. In the end, Gandhiji raised the slogan of ‘Quit India’. The ‘Quit India’ movement was the solution of two dangers at once – the first Japanese invasion to protect the country and eradicate mutual distinction and establish unity. Once again Gandhiji started ‘Satyagraha’. Gandhiji started to prepare the people
This movement warmed the atmosphere of the country. There was a historic meeting in Bombay on August 7, 1942. It was decided in the meeting that if the British State was not removed from India, then the civil disobedience movement would be started under Gandhiji’s leadership.
Gandhiji wanted to meet Viceroy once before working on any plan. He did not think it was proper to talk to Gandhiji. He decided to take a hard handjob. All senior Congress leaders were arrested on the morning of 9th August. The news of these arrests began to burn the whole country. In places like Bengal, Bihar, and Bombay, the public burnt the police stations, post offices, courts, railway stations, etc.
There was a lot of fuss In relation to the responsibility of these nuisances, the Aga Khana has been quite a long correspondence in Poona. When Lord Linlithgow expressed doubt in Gandhiji’s faith and sincerity in non-violence then Mahatmaji’s heart was torn apart. To get peace from this spiritual suffering, he started fasting twenty-one days from 10 February 1943. These times proved improbable for Gandhiji.
After six days of his arrest, he had been an aide for 24 years and Mahadev Desai, who plays the secretariat, walked away from heart failure. During this time his wife Kasturba was seriously ill. He also said goodbye to this world. As if the mountain of sorrows broke down on Gandhiji.
Gandhi’s mental state was not naturally superior. After six weeks of Kasturba’s death, Malaria took Gandhiji into her grip. The high fever remained. Their release for the government was less likely to cause less trouble in their jail. He was released from prison on May 6. They were quite weak. For some time, their condition was very bad, but gradually they got the power to focus on the country’s work.
They saw the condition of the country. Gandhiji wished that they meet the Viceroy Lord Wavell but Wavell refused to talk. Gandhiji knew that British Muslims are encouraging the demands so that opportunities for differences with the Hindus remain. They were fully aware of their ‘Divide and govern’ policy.
Gandhiji was in favor of Hindu-Muslim unity. He also kept fasting to feed the two communities in the cause of unity. They did a lot of effort but the leaders of the Muslims were not ready to compromise after getting Jinnah’s ‘separate state for the Muslims’. Jinnah kept a separate state demand for Muslims.
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The British government was not able to control India’s position. The Indians had played front against him all around. Churchill was defeated in the elections held in Britain in 1945, the Labor Government came to power. The new Prime Minister did not want to let India out of its own hands.
Lord Wavell was sent back to India. On his return, he announced a new plan. According to which the elections of provincial and central legislative assemblies were to be held in the form of the introduction of the new constitution. A cabinet mission came from England.
The purpose of this mission was to negotiate with the Indian leaders to form a constitution for United India. But they failed to carry Congress and Muslims together. The opinion of the Muslims was to separate from India.
On August 12, 1946 Viceroy invited Jawaharlal Nehru for the talks. Meanwhile, Jinnah announced a ‘direct action day’. There was a lot of bleeding in Bengal. Communal riots broke out in every corner of the country. Gandhiji did not understand why the demand for a separate Muslim nation is being asked? He said, while making a request to Muhammad Ali Jinnah if you want me, cut my pieces, but do not divide India into two parts. “Gandhiji went to live in Delhi’s cannabis, where his voice against his day-to-day violence Got caught
Then there was news that kept the heart awake. Several innocent civilians were killed in communal riots in the Noakhali district of East Bengal. It was impossible for Gandhiji to stay calm for now. They resolved that they would surely get the food going deeper between the two religions even if they had to sacrifice their lives for them.
They said that if India got independence and there was violence in it, it would be worse than freedom. “In Noakhali, the Muslim government was in power, Gandhiji decided to take the pandit there, when he was in Calcutta It was reported that in Bihar, for the revenge of Noakhali, the abusive acts of violence were done, and Gandhiji’s heart started crying, this was the place from where this Mahatma has started his first mission in India Satyagraha started.
Gandhiji warned the Biharis, “If violent action is not stopped soon, then he will keep fast until he dies.” Violence in Bihar was stopped after listening to Gandhiji’s comments. Gandhiji left for Noakhali.
The situation there distracted them. The area in which they took the mantra of love and brotherhood. There, one community was thirsty for the blood of another community. Many people were murdered Women were raped and many were forcibly converted to religion Gandhiji’s hair stood up By denying police protection, along with a Bengali Stenographer, this 77-year-old Mahatma was doing a walk from home to the village, from home to house. Gandhiji wanted to make a bridge of love among the two religions.
They used to do fruits and were doing the same day and night to unite the hearts of Hindus and Muslims. “There is only one purpose of my life that the hearts of Gods Hindus and Muslims should be mixed, and there should be no fear or hostility towards each other.”
Gandhiji remained in Noakhali from November 7, 1946, to March 2, 1947. After this, he went to Bihar. He did the same here too, which did in Noakhali. The hiking of the village-to-village. Introducing people to realize their mistakes and also responsibilities. They started collecting money for the treatment of the injured. It was Gandhiji’s influence that women of one religion were throwing down their jewels for the treatment of other people. Gandhiji told the people of Bihar, “If they once again adopted the path of violence, then they will lose Gandhiji forever.”
New viceroy Lord Mountbatten called Gandhiji in Delhi in May 1947 Jinnah was present along with the Congress leaders. Jinnah was adamant about the demands of a different nation for the Muslims. Gandhiji made lakhs of effort to convince Jinnah but he did not become tired.
After all, the day came when India was free. The country became independent on August 15, 1947. Gandhiji considered it appropriate to visit Calcutta without taking part in the ceremony organized on this day. Where the fire of communal riots was destroying everything. The situation gradually became calm when Gandhiji went there. For a few days, Gandhiji passed there in prayer and fasting. Unfortunately, on August 31, the Calcutta riots started burning in the fire.
Under the guise of communal riots, the horrific scandal of robbery, murder, and rape began. Now Gandhiji’s only option was to ‘fast for the last moments of his life.’ This announcement of Gandhiji changed the whole situation. His magic went on to the people. On September 4, leaders of various religions apologized for this religious madness. It also pledged that there will be no riots in Calcutta now. After this oath of leaders, Gandhiji broke the fast. Calcutta was quiet but the riots took hold in other cities due to the Indo-Pak partition.
When Gandhiji returned to Delhi on September 1947, there was a communal riot in that city too. The inherent atrocities committed against Hindus and Sikhs in western Pakistan did the work of ghee in the fire. The Sikhs of Delhi and Hindus took the law into their own hands with a feeling of revenge. The homes of the Muslims were plundered, religious places were damaged, the killings began.
The government wanted to take tough action, but without the support of the public, she was unable to do anything. In this fearful and chaotic environment, Gandhiji was fearless and standing on the way. Dare to come in this way among the people was not the matter of the same Mahatma.
Gandhiji’s birthday has come. On October 2, he was supposed to celebrate his birthday in the whole world, not only in the whole country. Those who gave congratulations to Gandhiji were immediately tired. Gandhiji said, “Where did the congratulations come from? The country is burning here and there is an empire of violence around me. There is no happiness in my heart… I do not have any desire to live and fight people like this. Was. ”
Mahatma Gandhi’s pain was growing Despite being in Delhi, violence was not taking the name of the loot. Still, the Muslims of the city could not walk fearlessly on the streets of Delhi. Gandhiji wanted to go to Pakistan so that he could do something for the victims too. But the situation in Delhi was quite delicate. It was not possible for him to leave Delhi in such a bad phase. Gandhiji started feeling helpless to himself
‘I never felt helpless.’ They sat fast on January 13, 1948. They also said, ‘God has sent me to keep fasting.’ They said that people do not worry about them, but rather gather in search of ‘new light’.
The circumstances were going to change. It is difficult to say that the light came in the heart. After a sad week on January 18, Gandhiji came to Birla House of Delhi to meet Gandhiji, people of different religions, institutions and Hindu Sangh “RSS“. There Gandhiji was lying there They greeted the people by smiling.
All people gave a letter to Gandhiji, which said, ‘We will protect the lives of all people.’ Will win the faith of Muslims Now there will be no such incidents in Delhi. ‘ Gandhiji broke his fast. This incident was discussed in different corners of the world.
By now, Gandhiji’s fast touched the hearts of millions of people of the world. But it had a different effect on the hardcore Hindus. He felt that Gandhiji had ‘blackmail’ the Hindus by doing this kind of fast. His viewpoint on Gandhiji’s approach to Pakistan was not much better.
As usual on the second day of fasting, when Gandhiji was in the evening prayers, a bomb was thrown at him. Fortunately, the target missed Gandhiji survived But Gandhiji did not get distracted, he sat down and continued his prayer. Gandhiji had been praying to the people for many years. Every evening, wherever they were, they kept their prayer meetings open in the field. Where he talks to people Everyone was welcome in this prayer meeting.
There was no place for ritualism, there was no place for any particular religion. Everyone sings the prayer song. In the end, Gandhiji spoke two words in the Hindi language. It was not necessary that they should speak on any religious theme, they would speak on any event throughout the day. This was Gandhiji’s rule. They spoke on any subject but their motive was to give people the right direction.
Many times hundreds of thousands of crowds turn up on hundreds of occasions to listen to Gandhiji. Wherever their prayer meeting was held, their followers would have been trained. While sitting on a small platform, Gandhiji spoke on his own. The order of violence was in progress. Gandhiji continued to urge the people to come out of this situation. A large section of society was angry with Pakistan’s division and sentiment of revenge. Gandhiji was warned that his life was in danger.
Police officers were worried because Gandhiji refused to take security. ‘In my own country, I do not have to take security with my own people.’ Gandhiji had said in South Africa 40 years ago, “Everyone’s death in life is certain, even if someone dies in the hands of his brother, even if he is a victim of a disease or someone else’s excuses, it is no sad to die. Do not be afraid. ”
Gandhiji was not afraid of death On January 30, 1948, ten days after the incident of the bombing, Gandhiji was going to a prayer meeting on the grounds of Birla Park. They arrive a few minutes late. Due to delaying five to ten minutes of time, they started murmuring in their minds. ‘I had to reach here at five o’clock.’ Gandhiji shook his hand when he reached there, the crowd shook his hands and greeted him. Many people touch their feet and proceed to take blessings.
He was stopped from doing this because Gandhiji had already delayed. But a Hindu youth from Poona rode the crowd and made room for himself. As soon as he reached near Gandhiji, he shot Gandhi’s heart with his atomic pistol and blasted three bullets. Gandhiji fell, the name of God came out of his lips – ‘Hey Ram’. Before he was taken to a hospital, his life had expired. This priest of love was called goodbye to the world.
The killing of the Mahatma by his own people was a matter of shame for those people who did not understand Gandhiji’s love, truth, non-violence principles. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said in a sad and compassionate voice on the radio,
“The light went away, which gave light to the dark life of the people, has become dark around, I can not stay silent, but I do not understand what I should say to the people and how to say we all. The leader, whom we called ‘Bapu’, the country’s Father of the Nation is no longer … His shadow went away from our head.
The light that Bapu gave to the country was not normal. He was the light of the mantra of living life. That light spread the light in the corner of the country. The whole world saw it The lamp of their truth, love, non-violence will always give their light to the people of this country …… ”
Such people die even when they die. Gandhiji has shown the world on his own that the path of love, truth and non-violence is the best path. Using this, he gave independence to the country. Their work done for the salvation of the poor, helpless and untouchables of society can not be forgotten. Their principles regarding Swaraj, Satyagraha, Prayer, Truth, Love, Non-violence, Freedom are the most precious stones. Gandhiji’s life was for the people. They sacrificed their lives for humanity.
It is also true that the person who understood everyone as equal, there was no equal in our age in this age. As much as we know about them, only that they were to remain loyal in ‘Kathani-Karni’. The most intelligent, sensitive, honest, conscientious, theorists were. Such great men are not born again and again. Following Gandhiji’s ideas, the current and future generations of the country can write a golden history of golden India. ‘BAPU APAKO NAMAN HAI !’
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