Veer Savarkar

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Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 2 of 35


Oh Mar t yr s

The bat t le of freedom once begun
And handed down from sire t o son
Though oft en lost is ever won! !
To-day is t he t ent h of May! I t was on t his day, t hat in t he ever memorable year of
1857, t he first campaign of t he War of I ndependence was opened by you, Oh Mart yrs,
on t he bat t le-field of I ndia. The Mot herland, awakened t o t he sense of her degrading
Unsheat hed her sword, burst fort h from t he shackles and st ruck t he first blow for her
libert y and for her honour. I t was on t his day t hat t he war-cry ‘Maro Feringhee Ko’ was
raised by t he t hroat s of t housands. I t was on t his day t hat t he sepoys of Meerut , having
risen in a t errible uprising, marched down t o Delhi, saw t he wat ers of t he Jamuna,
glit t ering in t he sunshine, caught one of t hose hist orical moment s which close past
epoch t o int roduce a new one, and ‘had found, in a moment , a leader, a flag and a
clause, and convert ed t he mut iny int o a nat ional and a religious war.’
All honour be t o you, oh Mart yrs. For it was for t he preservat ion of t he honour of t he
race t hat you performed t he fiery ordeal of a revolut ion when t he religions of t he land
were t hreat ened wit h a forcible and sinist er conversion, when t he hypocret e t hrew off
his friendly garb and st ood up int o t he naked heinousness of a perfidious foe breaking
t reat ies, smashing crowns, forging chains and mocking all t he while our merciful mot her
for t he very honest y wit h which she believed t he pret ensions of t he whit e liar, t hen you,
oh Mart yrs of 1857, awoke t he mot her, inspired t he mot her, and for t he honour of t he
mot her, rushed t o t he bat t lefield t errible and t remendous wit h t he war-cry ‘Maro
Feringhee Ko’ on your lips, and wit h t he sacred mant ra God and Hindust han on your
banner ! Well did you do in rising. For ot herwise, alt hough your blood might have been
spared, yet t he st igma of servilit y would have been t he deeper, one more link would
have been added t o t he cursed chain of demoralizing pat ience, and t he world would
have again cont empt uously point ed t o our nat ion saying, ‘She deserves slavery, she is
happy in slavery.’ For even in 1857, she did not raise even a finger t o prot ect her
int erest and her honour! ’
This day, t herefore, we dedicat e, oh Mart yrs, t o your inspiring memory! I t was on
t his day t hat you raised a new flag t o be upheld, you ut t ered a mission t o be fulfilled,
you saw a vision t o be realized, you proclaimed a nat ion t o be born!
We t ake up your cry, we revere your flag, we are det ermined t o cont inue t hat fiery
mission of ‘away wit h t he foreigner’, which you ut t ered, amidst t he prophet ic
t hunderings of t he Revolut ionary war. Revolut ionary, yes, it was a Revolut ionary war.
For t he War of 1857 shall not cease t ill t he revolut ion arrives, st riking slavery int o dust ,
elevat ing libert y t o t he t hrone. Whenever a people arises for it s freedom, whenever t hat
seed of libert y get s germinat ed in t he blood of it s fat hers, whenever t hat seed of libert y
get s germinat ed in t he blood of it s Mart yrs, and whenever t here remains at least one
t rue son t o avenge t hat blood of his fat hers, t here never can be an end t o such a war as
t his. No, a revolut ionary war knows no t ruce, save libert y or deat h. We, inspired by your
memory, det ermine t o cont inue t he st ruggle you began in 1857, we refuse t o
acknowledge t he armist ice as a t ruce; we look upon t he bat t les you fought as t he
bat t les of t he first campaign—t he defeat of which cannot be t he defeat of t he war.
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 3 of 35

What ? Shall t he world say t hat I ndia has accept ed t he defeat as t he final one? That t he
blood of 1857 was shed in vain? That t he sons of I nd bet ray t heir fat hers’ vows? No, by
Hindust han, no! The hist orical cont inuit y of t he I ndian nat ion is not cut off. The war
began on t he 10
t h
of May 1857 is not over on t he 10
t h
of May 1908, nor shall it ever
cease t ill a 10
t h
of May t o come sees t he dest iny accomplished, sees t he beaut iful I nd
crowned, eit her wit h t he lust re of vict ory or wit h t he halo of mart yrdom.
But , O glorious Mart yrs, in t his pious st ruggle of your sons help. O help us by your
inspiring presence! Torn in innumerable pet t y selves, we cannot realise t he grand unit y
of t he Mot her. Whisper, t hen, unt o us by what magic you caught t he secret of Union.
How t he feringhee rule was shat t ered t o pieces and t he Swadeshi t hrones were set up
by t he common consent of Hindus and Mahomedans. How in t he higher love of t he
mot her, unit ed t he difference of cast es and creeds, how t he venerat ed and venerable
Bahadur Shah prohibit ed t he killing of cows t hroughout I ndia, Hew Shreemant
Nanasahib aft er t he first salut e of t he t hundering cannon t o t he emperor of Delhi,
reserved for himself t he second one! How you st aggered t he whole world by unit ing
under t he banner of mot her and forced your enemies t o say ‘Among t he many lessons
t he I ndian Mut iny conveys t o t he hist orian and administ rat or, none is of great er
import ance t han t he warning t hat it is possible t o have a revolut ion in which Brahmins
and Shudras, Mahomedans and Hindus were unit ed against us and t hat it is not safe t o
suppose t hat t he peace and st abilit y of our dominion in any great measure depends on
t he cont inent being inhabit ed by different races wit h different religious syst ems, for t hey
mut ually underst and each ot her and respect and t ake part in each ot her’s modes and
ways and doings. The mut iny reminds us t hat our dominions rest on a t hin crust ever
likely t o be rent by t it anic fires of social changes and revolut ions.’ Whisper unt o us t he
nobilit y of such an alliance of Religion and Pat riot ism, t he t rue religion whichever is on
t he side of pat riot ism, t he t rue pat riot ism which secures t he freedom of religion.
And give us t he marvellous energy daring and secrecy wit h which you organized t he
might y volcano; show us t he volcanic magma t hat underlie t he green t hin crust on
which t he foe is t o be kept lulled int o a false securit y; t ell us how t he chapat t i, t hat fiery
Cross of I ndia flew from village t o village and from valley t o valley, set t ing t he whole
int ellect of t he nat ion on fire by t he very vagueness of it s message and t hen let us hear
t he roaring t hunder wit h which t he volcano at last burst fort h wit h an all shut t ering
force, rushing, smashing, burning and consuming int o one cont inuous fiery flow of red-
hot lava-flood! Wit h in a mont h, regiment aft er regiment , prince aft er prince, cit y aft er
cit y, sepoys, police, zemindars, Pundit s, Moulvis, t he mult iple-headed Revolut ion
sounded it s t ocsin and t emples and mosques resounded wit h t he cry ‘Maro feringhee Ko’
Away wit h t he foreigners! MEERUT ROSE, Delhi rose, rose Benares, Agra, Pat na,
Lucknow, Allahabad, Jadagalpoor, Jhansi, Banda, I ndore- from Peshwar t o Calcut t a and
from t he Narmada t o t he Himalayas, t he volcano burst fort h int o a sudden, simult aneous
and all consuming conflagrat ion! !
And t hen, oh Mart yrs, t ell us t he lit t le as well as t he great defect s which you found
out in our people in t hat great experiment of yours. But above all, point out t hat most
ruinous, nay, t he only mat erial draw-back in t he body of t he nat ion which rendered all
your effort s fut ile- t he mean selfish blindness which refuses t o see it s way t o j oin t he
nat ion’s cause. Say t hat t he only cause of t he defeat of Hindust han was Hindust han
herself, t hat shaking away t he slumber of cent uries, t he mot her rose t o hit t he foe, but
while her right hand was st riking t he Feringhee dead, her left hand st ruck, alas, not t he
enemy, but her forehead! So she st aggered and fell back int o t he inevit able swoon of 50
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 4 of 35

Fift y years are past , but , oh rest less spirit s of 1857, we promise you wit h our heart s’
blood t hat your Diamond Jubilee shall not pass wit hout seeing your wishes fulfilled! ! We
have heard your voice and we gat her courage from it . Wit h limit ed means you sust ained
a war, not against t yranny alone, but against t yranny and t reachery t oget her. The Daub
and Ayodhya making a unit ed st and, waged a war, not only against t he whole of t he
Brit ish power but against t he rest of t he I ndia t oo; and yet you fought for t hree years
and yet you had well-nigh snat ched away t he crown of Hindust han and smashed t he
hollow exist ence of t he alien rule. What an encouragement t his! What t he Duab and
Ayodhya could do in a mont h, t he simult aneous, sudden and det ermined rising of t he
whole of Hindust han can do in a day. This hope illumines our heart s and assures us of
success. And so we allow t hat your Diamond Jubilee year 1917 shall not pass wit hout
seeing t he resurging I nd making a t riumphant ent ry int o t he world.
For, t he bones of Bahadur Shah are crying vengeance from t heir grave! For, t he
blood of daunt less Laxmi is boiling wit h indignat ion! For, t he shahid Peer Ali of Pat na,
when he was going t o t he gallows for having refused t o divulge t he secret s of t he
conspiracy whispered defiance t o t he Feringhee said in prophet ic words ‘You may hang
me t oday, you may hang such as me everyday, but t housands will st ill rise in my place-
your obj ect will never be gained.’
I ndians, t hese words must be fulfilled! Your blood, oh Mart yrs, shall be avenged.

Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 5 of 35


Dearest brot her

Thus it is aft er 18 mont hs I have a chance t o t ouch pen and ink again: At t his rat e
one can quickly unlearn t he art of writ ing alt oget her! You must have been very anxious
about t his delay but as you had received a let t er from our dearest Baba in July, I
t hought it would be more assuring t o you t o hear from us a few mont hs lat er t han at
about t he same t ime. How glad was I t o learn t hat you have j oined t he medical course
and are doing well. How do you like t hat course? To me it is a noble course. I should
like you t o t ake not only Medicine but t he Science of Physiology it self as your special
province. Please t o follow it up not only as a profession but as a pursuit . I t opens out
inexhaust ible field for charit y benevolence. I t is respect ed all over t he world, in t he
Hot ent t ot s as well as in t he Aryans. The st udy of body-a t emple wherein t he soul lives-is
next t o t he st udy of t he soul it self.
Your choice of books last year was simply capit al. Moropant , Bharat , Vivekanand-all
st andard book. Out of t he books asked for by me only ‘7े यमीमां सा’ and ‘अ7े यमीमां सा’ did
not come. Why? I have sent a list for t his year, but do not spend more t han 10 rupees
on my books. I f t he list comes t o more t han t hat please go on omit t ing from t he bot t om.
You need not buy all books new. You can send some second hand ones if you like.
And how do you like Bengal? By t his t ime aft er t he Puj a holidays you are back t o
Calcut t a and must have grown quit e int o a Bengali Babu-is not it ? Forgot t en Marat hi
language? Please t ake care you do not lose somet hing else. For I am afraid I might hear
at any t ime t hat some one of t hose clever Bengalis has st olen your heart away! Though
I for one should like so much t o have found a dear lit t le Bengali sist er in-law. I am as
st rongly in favour of t hese int er-provincial marriages among t he Hindus as I am deadly
opposed t o t he pract ice of marrying t he European girls at t his st age of our nat ional life.
And now my dear Bal, somet hing about me here. My healt h is all right . Ever since I
came t o t his j ail I never had a serious illness and have managed t o keep my weight j ust
what it was when I came here. I am bot h physically and ment ally doing well –believe
me, dearest , in some respect s so well t hat I had hardly ever done so before; for life in
j ail, for good, for evil, is a unique chance. Man can never go out of it exact ly as he came
in. He goes out far bet t er or far worse. Eit her more Angelic or more Feindish.
Fort unat ely for me my mind has so quickly adapt ed it self t o t he changes in
circumst ances. I t seems so st range t hat a nat ure so rest less and act ive, roaming over
cont inent s, should so quickly feel quit e at home in a cell hardly a dozen feet in lengt h.
And yet one of t he kindest gift s of t he Providence t o Humanit y is t his plast icit y, t his
adapt abilit y of human mind t o t he everchanging environment s of life.
When early in t he morning and lat e in t he evening I t ry a bit of Pranayam and t hen
pass insensibly int o a sweet sound- sleep. Oh how calm and quiet is t hat rest ; so calm
t hat when I get up in t he morning it is long before I can realize again t hat I am in a
prison cell lying on a wooden plank. All t he common aims and allurement s of Mankind
having receded far, t he conscience is perfect ly pleased wit h it self wit h t he convict ion of
having served under His banner and served t o some purpose. A calm, a sweet
equanimit y is left wit h my soul and it lulls my mind in an int ense peace. There are
except ions but t his is t he general rule. I n fact if I be suddenly dropped in t he midst of
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 6 of 35

Bombay or London I t hink I will have t o shout wit h t he hermit in शाकुं तलः – ‘जनाक|ण
म=ये हतवहपर|तं गृ हिमव।।

And even if hearing t he market gossip your mind somet imes sighs ‘Oh st ill t his life
would have been more useful and dazzling out side’ even t hen remember t hat t hose who
work out side, work much; but t hose who work in t he prison work more; and aft er all,
my dearest Bal, don’t you t hink t hat suffering is in it self work int ense because subt le!
I get up in t he morning when t he bell goes on at 5 A.M. At it s sound I feel as if I
have ent ered a higher college for a higher st udy. Then we are doing our work of rigour
t ill 10 A.M. while my hands and feet are aut omat ically doing t he given t ask, my spirit
avoiding all det ect ion is out for a morning t rip, and across seas and oceans, over hills
and dales, it roams sipping only pleasant t hings, and t hings noble, like a bee amongst
t he flowers. Then I compose some new lines. Then we dine at 12 noon, work again.
From 4 P.M. comes rest ; reading &c. This is t he usual round of life here.
I n your answer please inform me how our dear Mot herland is get t ing on? I s t he
Congress unit ed? Does it pass t he resolut ion for t he release of t he Polit ical prisoners
from year t o year as it did at Allahabad in 1910? Any remarkable Swadeshi ent erprise
like t he iron works of Tat a or St eam Navigat ion Company or new Mills? How is t he
Republic of China? Does it not sound like Ut opia realized? : : : A Romance of Hist ory!
Don’t suppose t hat China’s work is a day’s. No! from 1850 t hey have been st renuously at
it , t hough t he world knows not where t he Sun is making it s way –t ill it is risen: and
Persia, Port ugal and Egypt ? And are t he I ndians in Sout h Africa successful in get t ing
t heir demands? Please ment ion if any import ant law has been passed by t he new
Councils, e.g. t he Educat ion Bill of t he Hon. Mr. Gokhale. When t he great Tilak is due t o
be released?
Did you show my let t er t o my beloved Yamuna? Please t ranslat e all t o her. I t is only
a few years more –not more t han 5- when a bet t er day will dawn. So my beloved wife,
hold on as nobly as you have done. My most respect ful pranams t o my dearest Vahini-
she who had been and is st ill t hrough her blessings –a mot her, a sist er and a friend at
t he same t ime. I cannot name, for obvious reasons, ot her whose memory my heart is
now overwhelmingly full: Tell t hem all t hat I remember each and all of t hem. How can I
forget t hem? No, a man in a prison can not forget . The mind, shut up from t he new
impressions can only feed on t he old ones, and so in a prison so far from forget t ing old
acquaint ances one vividly remembers and begins t o love even t hose who were before
forgot t en. My sweet friends, in a prison one weeps and weeps and vainly wait s for some
one t o come t o wipe t he t ears-t o speak a word of affect ion and love. Oh in a prison how
can I forget ? To all t hose please give my affect ion and love who you know were my
sweet friends and comrades and dearer t han life t o me, and t o t hose who even when
some were not ashamed t o disown t he t ies of blood, are st ill st anding by you and
remember me, my deepest obligat ions are due. : : They know t hat a let t er from a j ail
must be more or less st ereot yped, and hence no names. Please give my ashirwadas t o
dear Mai, my only sist er and Vasant , my only hope. Also remember me t o dear Mami
and lit t le Champi.

Wit h all love
I remain, your own brot her
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 7 of 35


Cellular Jail
15- 2- 14
Port Blair.
My beloved Bal,

And now coming along. A year has rolled by and t he happy day has come back
again! Only t hose who had been in a j ail can fully appreciat e what a Soul-ent rancing
blessing it is t o hear from home, t o writ e t o Home! ! Sweet - sweet somet hing like t he
sweet ness of conversat ion in t he moonlight , by t he sea-beach, wit h one whom one loves
and adores! But wait ; t he bell is gone and I must go t o t ake my food—it is 10 A.M.
…yes, now I have come back again, aft er having t aken my food in t he general file of t he
denizens of t he j ail. Yes I said it was sweet ; in fact t he day of a let t er t o Home is t o me
always t he real पाडवा my new year’s day; I count my year from t hat day; for I get a
st ock of energy and ent husiasm from t he communion wit h my chosen few, which
enables me t o breat he and live and laugh a year furt her on. I was sorry not t o writ e
earlier and t o compel you t o undergo t he t roubles of sending a t elegram. The aut horit ies
had kindly informed me of it . But you see, brot her, t hough a year was past and I was
ent it led t o send a let t er yet t he ant ediluvian spirit of our post al syst em here does not
carry a let t er t o Calcut t a from t his place unless some five or six weeks aft er it is writ t en
so I am t old. That is why a let t er cannot be sent unless some fourt een mont hs go by.
But t hen any let t er t hat you send reaches here almost as soon as in t his t went iet h
cent ury it ought t o. From your let t er I am so glad t o learn t hat you are in sound healt h
and passed t he examinat ion wit h credit . Examinat ion or no examinat ion, you must not
neglect your healt h. No. I long t o see you robust , bubbling wit h healt h and freshness
and vigour. The dawn of yout h, t hat is j ust breaking upon you, is t he very fount ain of
life and energy. So do not wast e it by overwork of any one member in excess of t he
rest . But grow in harmony, brain and body. You are a Doct or yourselves and it is a bit of
presumpt ion on a layman’s part t o insist on good healt h. But t hen yout h is blind and
forget s t o lay by, a fund of energy and life, while t he vit al forces are st ill welling up from
wit hin, and t he organism is growing so t hat when t he wint er of age comes, t hey may
have abundant fund of vit alit y t o draw on. Ot herwise if your eyesight is weakened, if
you look like t he willow of a man – I will shout out ‘Physician, heel t hyself’! (Don’t laugh
in t he sleeves- for I am not a physician and so I can afford t o have a bad eyesight ! For
all lawyers have it – at least ought t o have! ) And how proud am I t o know t hat some of
my pet lambs, have come out first class B.A.s and M.A.s. That is noble! But t hen nobler
when t he field of dut y t hat faces t hem now, is also well fought and well own, and are
hailed t herein t oo, as deserving of it s gold medals of t hat great corporat ion of man, t he
gold medals of t hese so-called ‘Universit ies’ are as of t insel! I should be so glad t o hear
from t hem personally- for some of t hem are never absent from my memory even down
t o t his day: About t hose who inform you volunt arily t o do so, writ e t o me by naming and
part icularizing.
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 8 of 35

The books which you sent are simply capit al. The महाcमा पÍरचय - what a fine
t ranslat ion.- and t he int roduct ion of t wo lines how modest and appropriat e –‘फोÍडले
भां डार, ध=याचा हा माल। मी तव हमाल भार वाह|’ ! I liked it awefully. And t he ‘जाईचा मंडप
’! No sooner did I go t hrough a dozen of pages, t hen each t ime, each word began t o
pulsat e harmoniously wit h my heart , and I knew who could have writ t en it ! The
language is wort hy of t he sent iment s so poet ic and sublime, wort hy of t he t heme, and
t heme wort hy of bot h. I wish t hat such popular series as t he भारत गौरव माला realize
t heir responsibilit y of guiding and not only t ickling t he popular fancy and so publish
every now and t hen polit ical hist ory, science and economy, e.g. Mill’s Represent at ive
Government et c. About t he books on Vedant philosophy, well, I fear it is not opport une
t hat such men should be busy wit h such t hings. The Americans need Vedant philosophy,
and so does England; for t hey have developed t heir life t o t hat fullness, richness and
manliness- t o Kshat riyahood and so st and on t he t hreshold of t hat Brahminhood,
wherein alone t he capacit y t o read and realize such philosophy can co-exist . But I ndia
has not . We are at present all शू िा ऽ and cannot claim access t o t he Veda and Vedant a.
That is t he underlying idea why shudras were not allowed t o Vedas; not cert ainly
not , for cruelt y, nor for narrow or vest ed int erest - ot herwise पुराणा ऽ would not have
been writ t en by t he very Brahmins expounding t he same philosophy more lucidly. We,
as a Nat ion, are unfit for t hese sublime t hought s, for it is well known t hat Baj irao I I was
a great Vedant ist and t hat is why, perhaps, he could not see t he difference a kingdom
and a pension. Let us st udy hist ory, polit ical science, science, economy, live wort hily in
t his world, fulfil t he गृ हःथाौम - t he householders’s dut ies – and t hen t he वानूःथाौम
and it s philosophic dawn might come. And what ever t hese works are meant t o do, t hey
might be left t o be writ t en by widows, old men and pensioners out of offices. They
should live in past – old works and old puzzles of God and soul and man. The young, t he
yout h – why not live in t he fut ure? Talk of Vedant a! – Benares has not produced a single
mart yr and t hey cannot give up a fart hing for t heir fat herland! ! !
And now, somet hing about myself here. Well, during t he last year, I had no illness,
what ever. My healt h is excellent and my weight , as yet , unreduced and t hat is a feat , is
it not ? I n t his t iny cellular sanit arium, I get up early, t ake regular amount of food
regularly, and go t o bed early- in fact have t o do all t hese t hings and so ‘early t o bed
and early t o rise’ is making me healt hy – (t hough not ‘wealt hy and wise’! I n fact you, Oh
would be Doct or Saheb! Could not have devised a bet t er t ime t able for your pat ient s.
And, good as is t he healt h of my body, t he healt h of my mind is bet t er st ill. Any work
hard or mean, I ply myself t o humming every now and t hen, ‘ःवे ःवे कम Þयिभरतः
संिसͺदं लभते नरः’
or ‘यतः ूवृ Ídभू तानां ये न सव िमदं ततम । ःवकम णा तम¹य¯य िसͺदं ÍवंदÍ=त मानवाः ् ’
or ‘सवा रं भा Íह दोषे ण धूमे ना͹नÍरवावृ ताः’! And every evening – for now a days I am in a cell
from which a bit of t he sky is visible – I wat ch t he glorious sunset and t he pomp of light
and shade and loose myself in t he rose and t he lilly, and t he lilac of t he west ; t hinking
now t his and now t hat ; from t he poet s ‘एकतःतटत मालमािलनीम । पँय ्
धातुरसिन¹नगािमव ’ Or ‘ते न मािनिन ममाऽ गौरवम् ’ t o t he profoundest fancies of idealist
philosophers, t hat all t hat seems is but subj ect ive affect ion and t here is not hing
obj ect ive t o correspond t o it – at least we do not know of it . And my mind is perfect ly
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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happy – happy even as it was in his company t here – wit h her company t here ! ! And if
at t imes, t he mind like a child get s silly and simply will weep – t hen t he Grand Reason
st eps in t he smiles ‘well sweet heart , what ails t hee? – what unknown you suffer? How
silly! Did you want t o ride on t he crest of ambit ion, drive in t he chariot of self –
glorificat ion yourself ? I f you did, well, t hen you deserved t o be baffled and defeat ed in
such a selfish and demoralizing ambit ion! –But God and I know you did not covet any
reward personally – no, neit her fame nor name nor land nor lucre, nay, not even
happiness. The only t hing you want ed was t o be privileged t o suffer most ! At least t hat
is what you used t o say in my presence ! –t o sacrifice most , for ot hers, for humanit y: -
Then lo ! where is t he disappoint ment ? you have done ‘य7ं सव ःवदÍHणम् ’ are suffering
wit hout end, wit hout limit at ion of t ime ! Not a minut e, not an act ion of yours t hat is not
dedicat ed t o t he purificat ion of t he race t hrough suffering. Then rej oice! What could
could you have done bet t er t han t his ? And t he mind plumes it s feat hers again, and
soars, and rises and sings once more ! But if ever t he mind st ill goes on st ill puffing up
it s lit t le Ego, t hen t he Grandam t akes it out and showing t he world says ‘There are t he
Himalayas 1 There was a t ime t hat t hey were not t here and a t ime t here will come when
t hey shall not be t here ! ! ! And t his moon and t his solar syst em and t he Sidereal ! ! I t is
t oo much t hen for t hat lit t le mind; it forget s it self, is absorbed in t he Universe- ashamed
of it s self-import ance and self-care! ! !
So my beloved Bal, bot h of us here are in perfect healt h of body and mind. Do not
care at all about us. The only t hing t hat we feel individually at t aches us t o t his world is
t hy healt h and safet y. So if you guarant ee t hese t wo – of course, t ry your best and t hen
we do not care for t he result -we shall be happiest . As yet j ail has left no mark, no
shadow on us for anyt hing worse –and all t his healt h is in spit e of circumst ances and not
in virt ue of t hem. You have writ t en about t he pet it ion you sent t o t he aut horit ies here
enquiring about t he t ime of visit &c. Well in fact I ought t o have been, according t o t he
pract ice here, released from t his cellular j ail and allowed t o live on t he island. My
‘behaviour’ is admit t edly good. But t hen neit her of us is released. I am t rying t o request
t o Government t o reconsider t his and you t oo whenever you want t o know anyt hing be
writ t en t o t he aut horit ies here. Very soon our dearest Baba will have done his 5 years
and you can t hen claim a visit . But our release and permission t o bring our relat ions
here t o live wit h us, t he aut horit ies here can do very lit t le, t hough t hey can do every
t hing in t he case of ot her convict s. Nor t hey are very much t o be blamed, for orders we
suppose come direct ly from t he I ndian Government . So you bet t er send a pet it ion t o t he
I ndian Government whenever you fail t o know anyt hing direct ly from t he aut horit ies
here. But even as it is do not worry yourself about any arrangement s concerning us. The
Government will do in all likelihood all t hat j ust ice demands t hemselves. And we shall be
reminding t hem every now and t hen. What else have we do ? You only care for your
healt h and safet y. I am glad you remember what I t old you in t he High Court .
Assure our beloved Yamuna t hat t hese four years will not pass wit hout ushering t he
dawn of a happier day. So let t hat noble heart and t hat heart –our dearest Vahini hold
on ! Hold on even as t hey have been doing up t o t his t ime ! ! Let t hem read all ‘मराठ|’
lit erat ure and not only t he old myt hological works but new and current and living
st reams of life’s expression in West and East . I t was a sad Pride t hat I felt when I heard
t he noble deat h of our noble comrade and brot her Sakharam.* You know it was in t he
High School days t hat we first saw each ot her ! He lived bravely –died bravely. What
more can one wish for oneself ! His wife, dear Janki Vahini- well I have not seen her and
yet have seen her t hrough your pen-pict ures. All t hat I feel for her t hat she is not poor,
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 10 of 35

not ill st arred- but called upon t o play t he holiest part in life even because it is t he
loneliest ! Remember me t o her, And how is t iny Vasant ? Will t he great lit t le man writ e
me a word ? He is now some 7 years old, is he not ? And his mot her ? Oh ! I saw her for
t he last t ime in t he Dongri j ail! A sist er is one of t he richest gift s t hat a man can have! !
Give my love t o her and a sweet kiss t o t hat great lit t le gent leman- my Vasant ! Also
remember me t o all our relat ions- one and all –and above all t o her who t hough not a
relat ion and even because she is not a relat ion, whom I used t o call j okingly t he mot her
of t he part y and whom now in all seriousness and grat efulness I call as my own mot her
and who is st anding by you and remember me-give her my most grat eful regards and
loving remembrances –names not t o ut t er which seems a sacrilege and yet which cannot
be ut t ered, for t heir own sake, from a prison wherein not only legs but t ongues t oo are
fet t ered! Well you know t hem all. I t old you who were nearest t o my heart as my most
int imat e friends-t o all of t hem give my love, my fresher love! I f some of t hem volunt arily
ask you t o be part icularized in let t ers t o me from you I will t hen imburden my heart and
name t hem. The books t hat are t o be sent t o me I writ e down here. The t ime is up and
so my sweet est Bal, I am wit h most reluct ant st eps receding and t earing myself away
from you.

Your own brot her
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 11 of 35


Cellular j ail
Port Blair
Best beloved Bal,
And once again, my pen aft er a Ripvanwincle’s sleep is wakened and hast ens t o
acknowledge t he receipt of your let t er received some 7-8 mont hs ago. To have a let t er
from you is like t o see you: for part ly owing t o t he cinemat ographic flashes wit h which
your let t er abounds and part ly owing t o t he wonderful facult y, wit h which t he solit ude of
a Prison, endows t he power of hearing in man- facult y, which enables one t o visualize
t he t hing heard, as in t he case of t hose born blind. Whenever I hear from you , I
succeed in almost seeing you and all t hose dear faces and dear scenes t hat const it ut e
our happy lit t le home on t he banks of t he musical Godavari. Our dearest brot her Baba
and myself are happy in seeing you doing well and as long as you t ake care of your
healt h and t ry your best t o lead a life, at once noble and happy and healt hy, you need
not be anxious about our healt h, ment al and physical. The books which you sent last
year were 16 and t his year’s 13 (4 English 2 Oct . 2 Nov. The rest Sanskrit and
Vernacular)Please do writ e whet her t his is correct . Next t ime you send a parcel, please
t o send a list wit h it in your own handwrit ing, so t hat we may be able t o check t he
post al delivery. I was glad t o read
‘समाजरहःय’ (why you sent t wo copies of it ?) I t is a very good Novel. One t hing more –
among t he social inst it ut ions – t he great est curse of I ndia is t he syst em of cast es. The
might y current of Hindu life is being t hreat ened t o parish in bogs and sands. I t is no
good saying ‘we will reduce it t o four cast e syst em first . That would and should not be.
I t must be swept away, root and branch. The best means t o t hat effect is crusade
against it , in all forms of lit erat ure, especially drama and novel. Every t rue pat riot should
cease t o have double dealing and speak out his mind clearly and act up t o it . The only
care t o be t aken being not t o pay so much at t ent ion and not t o creat e so much fuss in
t his side-issue and our int ernal relat ion as t o forget and hamper and t hwart t he I ssue –
our Relat ion wit h t he world –but for t he right adj ust ment of which, no int ernal quest ions
can be sat isfact orily solved, or solved t o any subst ant ial purpose. So, I shall like t o have
a number of goodly writ t en novels, like t he ‘समाजरहःय’, which would at t ack t his effect
and unj ust social curse. I t had done much good in t he past , but it is dead now: So let us
bury it , -wit h t ears if you like. I am glad t o here t hat t he Government is going t o allow
you t o see me t his year. Please t o t hank t he aut horit ies for it . But I am firmly of opinion
, t hat dear Vahini should not be put t o t roubles of t he voyage t his year. You should
come alone and when you see all t he facilit ies or ot herwise here and know t he best way
t o bring her, t hen t he next t ime you come t o see me, you may bring her, and dear Mai
t oo. I feel it a dut y t o forgo t he inest imable pleasure of seeing t hose dearest once t his
year, for t he sake of t heir convenience. So, please come alone t his year.
I t sent a t hrill of delight in my heart t o hear t hat t he I ndian t roops were allowed t o
go t o Europe, in t heir t housands t o fight against t he best milit ary power in t he world and
t hat t hey had acquaint ed t hemselves wit h such splendour and were covered wit h
milit ary glory. Thank God ! Manliness aft er all is not dead yet in t he land! And a funny
t hing! We have been t rying our best t o encourage foreign t ravel and used t o
congrat ulat e ourselves if a dozen could be sent a year! And now Providence has done
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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what we could not – t housands of Hindus, ort hodox like t he Gurkhas and Raj put s and
reformed like t he Shikhs have crossed t he sea and under t he Government pat ronage !
Now let our Pandit s sit hat ching over t he eggs of ‘शाUाथ ’ t o see if foreign t ravel is
permissible t o t he Hindus or not ? Permissible or not , t he Hindus have crossed t he sea,
and in crossing it t hey have crossed an epoch! What t he crusades have done for Europe
by bringing it in cont act wit h t he superior civilizat ion of Asia, t his conflict wit h t he
Europeans of our Hindu t roops across t he seas, will do for I ndia – for Asia.
As for t he pet it ion, t hat is made for t he release of Polit ical prisoners in t he Punj ab we
can hardly t hank t hem sufficient ly for t his t heir charit able deed. You may be knowing by
t his t ime t hat some of us have already volunt eered, t o go t o t he front of t he War and I
am glad t o inform you t hat Government have made a special not e of it , t hough no
answer could come as yet .
By t he by , please t o writ e of t he rumour t hat some M.P. had asked a quest ion in t he
Parliament about me, or some of us before t he war broke out , be t rue and if so t he
part iculars of it . Did you get t he poems on Guru and Ravi?
I t pained me very much t o hear, t hat Hon. Gokhale was dead. He was aft er all a
great pat riot . True, at t imes, especially in panics, he used t o say and do t hings, which he
himself must have been ashamed of a few mont hs aft er, t o own. But t hen his life was
dedicat ed t o t he service of mot herland and t here was very lit t le personal and selfish
about him. All along his life, he served Her and for t he good of Her, as he saw it . How
anxious I was t o see him, before deat h part ed us; and t o compare not es as he had said
t o me in London when we saw each ot her for t he last t ime. We could not agree on
cert ain point s and he said ‘well Mr. Savarkar, come! We will see each ot her aft er some
six years and t hen would compare not es’! Maharasht ra must send some one –wort hier
t han he – t o his place in councils. I f every I ndian could do at least as much as he did!
Next t ime you send books please sand t he novels ‘ज=मभूिम’ and ‘गौतम’ which
brot her is very eager t o read. I was very much afraid t hat owing t o t he invasion of
France you would be unable t o hear from Madam Cama- who had been ever since my
coming here a second mot her t o you and who had so nobly and so fait hfully st ood by us
in t he darkest hour of our life . But I was very glad t o be assured t hat she, even in t he
midst of t his world – hubbub, remembered you and had regularly been sending let t ers
t o you. At t he t ouch of one such fait hful, noble, unshaken loving hand, one’s heart
recovers it s belief in Humanit y-belief rudely shaken by t he disappearance of t he closest
and by t he t reachery of t he t ruest and by t he indifference of t he dearest . I t is a pit y I
can not writ e t o t he dear lady and t ell her How I est eem her noble life and her solicit ude
for t he needy and t he dist ressed- and love and long t o see her once more : but as it is
please t o give her all my est eem and respect s before you give t hem t o any of our
relat ives: for what wonder t hey do somet hing for us? Wonder is how she does and does
so much.
While I am reading t he books you sent I see t hat in t he Telagu provinces t he new
life t hat is st ruggling t o find expression all over I ndia, has been sweeping over our
bret heren t here. The Andhra Sabha ‘आंीसभा’ is a great and grand movement but t he
quest ion of get t ing t hat province separat ed from t he Tamil one is not enobling. But what
pained me most and what was but a nat ural corollary from t he desire of pet t y
provincialisms was t hat t he nat ional shout s were ‘आंी माताक| जय’! in t his lit t le t hing
and st raw we see t he direct ion of an ominus wind t o come. This is one of t he unhealt hy
react ions of t he grand Swadeshi movement and must be correct ed before it is t oo lat e.
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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The Swadeshi connect ed in Bengal wit h t he lit t le part it ion quest ion brought in t his
react ion. Every province want s t o be separat ed, and shout s and invokes long life t o
it self! But how can t he province live unless t he Nat ion lives? They all-Maharasht ra,
Bengal, Madras- are great and will live long but t hrough Her-I ndia! So let us not say
‘आंी माताक|’ but ‘भारतमाताक| जय’ of whom ‘आंी’ is only a limb, and let us sing not ‘वंग
आभार’but ‘Íहं द आभार’! All provinces and pet t y languages inst ead of asking t o be
separat ed, should t ry t o get amalgamat ed and remove t he barriers t hat yet remain and
dest roy t he confusion of t ongues and not t o hug it . Smaller nat ionalit ies! I s not Belgium
a sufficient warning? The great est good t hat t he Brit ish Government has done wit hout
meaning it , is t o melt and mould t he disint egrat ing fact ions of our Mot herland and
hammer us int o a one people. Now inst ead of t rying t o remove what ever st ands in t he
way of it s consummat ion, we are on t he one hand hugging t o t he fet t ers t hat were t he
necessary price of t his boon and t rying t o t urn t he very boon int o a curse, on t he ot her.
Now I t hink I had writ t en all t hat I felt and want ed t o ask about your let t er and t he
books you sent . Next t ime you please t o send me t he books t he list of which I subj oin.
I nst ead of sending a parcel you may bring t hem wit h you if you come before Sept ember
I f not send a parcel. Please t o answer t his let t er as soon as you have carried t he
necessary communicat ion wit h our friends. I am ext remely glad t hat you could see t he
gent leman you refered t o in your let t er. I knew you would like each ot her very soon for
birds of t he same feat hers gat her t oget her. Please t o give my affect ion and best
remembrance t o him. I remember him every now and t hen. How is our dear Professor
get t ing on ? My heart gladdens at t he t hought t hat by t his t ime one more bird must
have come back t o t hat dear lit t le nest aft er sust aining a fight t hrough dreary desert s of
burning st ands, where no drop cools t he t hirst y heart and no dew vivifies t he parched
flower of hope. I n his release and release of so many of t hem I feel as if my own part ial
release had come. I f poor dear Sakharam t oo would have been t here t o day! Though
foolish and almost dishonourable t o feel he should have been living who has done bet t er
t o die in such a cause – st ill t he heart feels.
As for as we are concerned I again assure you not t o be anxious about us at all. All
t he t erm –prisoners of our case had been sent back t o I ndia, and we lifers(life-
t ransport ees)only remain. As long as war is going on, I , on principle, have made up my
mind not t o ask for anyt hing so as t o embarrass t he aut horit ies here; and at present
bot h of us are keeping good healt h and Capt ain-now Maj or Murray is superint ending
t he j ail affairs. As long as he is here, you may rest assured t hat not hing t hat evinces a
personal rancour will be done or said ; no under hand pin-pricks, beyond what t he
regulat ions require. Every let t er you send and every book will be duly delivered. As for
as our daily life is concerned, well, it is going on in t he same even way as it did last
year. I n a prison what happens on t he first day happens always-if not hing worse
happens. I n fact it seems t o be t he essence of prison discipline t o avoid all novelt y, all
change. Like specimen and curios in a museum –here we are each exact ly in t he same
place and same posit ion, bot t led and labelled wit h t he same numbers wit h more or less
dust about us; and t he guide book t hat I wrot e t o you in my last years’ let t er may serve
t he purpose of descript ion as long as I am here. We get up early work hardly, eat
punct ually – at t he same t ime, at t he same place and t he same amount and kind of food
prepared wit h same mat chless prison-skill and medical care; - I read much in t he t ime
t hat can be spared from work and somet imes in t he evening at t ack many flowers-now
remembered only in names –and flower like t hemes wit h blank verse and t hen sleep.
Here one t hing must be said. Alt hough it is t rue t hat prisoners are not free t o do or say
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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what t hey will, yet t o t he credit of t he j ail aut horit ies it must be admit t ed t hat every one
is absolut ely free t o dream what he likes. And I assure you I t ake t he fullest advant age
of t his concession. Almost every night I t ell you I break j ail and out by dale and down
and by t ower and t own go on romping t ill I find some one of you –some one who
somewhere had been held close t o my bosom! Every night I Do it but my beneficient
j ailors t ake no not ice of it . You have only t o wake in t he j ail, t hat is all t hey say.
I hope j ust at t he end of t he war you send a public pet it ion for t he release of us. The
t hing is t his. Not only in I ndia but even in any free and self-governing count ry t he
Government can not release polit ical prisoners unless t he Government are backed up
and support ed by t he wish of t he people t o t hat effect . An exercise of t he right of
amnest y can not be made by t he king or t he president unless t he people are willing t o
have t he prisoners back. I f I ndians are willing and pet it ions t o t hat effect go at t he end
of t he war we may be released and if I ndians are not willing t o have us back neit her t he
Government can release us nor it is wort h while t o have t hat release. Port Blair is willing
t o have me. And I am here. I have no wish t o t hrust myself on any people unwilling t o
have me back. At any rat e you may ask for our being sent out of t his j ail j ust as all ot her
prisoners-even t hose who had been sent enced here addit ionally –are allowed t o go and
set t le on t he island and bring t heir family here; in short , all t he concessions t hat t he
prisoners get under t he regulat ions here in force. I n t his we ask not hing special and t his
by repeat ed pet it ions from you and us bot h we in all probabilit y will succeed in get t ing.
Last year in t he let t er of our dearest Vahini she had not writ t en how t he lit t le Dhondi
was? I s she married? Please t o give my best love t o our beloved Yamuna- how is her
healt h? Does she read? I n what class or college is my dear Balvant rao? And t he ot her
children? Give my best love and respect s t o my dearest elder sist er in –law – whose life
is a record of self –sacrifice and noble enduring and calm and silent suffering for no fault
of her and for t he good of ot hers, and also t o my younger Vahini whose kind
remembrances of me I got last year t hrough our Mai’s let t er. I remember t hem and all
ot her beloved friends every day. At every corner t hat my mind t akes in it s aimless
rambles t heir dear image is sure t o be met and t hen my mind is sure t o st op and build a
new t emple of a sweet and a sad Tear and hold t hem t here a while and worship t hem
who made my life as it is and pray t hey do not forget me. Whoever allowed, may be for
a minut e –t he right of loving and being loved by me –I worship t hem all in t he same
t emple and on t he same pant heon my pet t s and boomfriends, my comrades and
chums! !
Well my dearest brot her , I am glad your st udy of medicine is promising t o be
fruit ful. Do not inj ure healt h for t he sake of st udy. Let me know your weight . Now my
dearest Bal wit h all my love and wit h my choicest आिशवा दऽ t o you and our dear lit t le
Vasant and our sist er Mai, will you allow me t o t ear myself from your sweet ment al

Your own brot her

Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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Cellular j ail
Port Blair

My beloved Bal and sweet Shant a,
Please accept my and my brot her’s heart iest congrat ulat ions upon your ent ering t he
second st age of life –t he life of wedded love. Nobly hast t hou, dear Bal! fulfilled t he first
st age of your life –t he st age of self-cult ure and self-sacrifice. Thou possessest t he
golden keys t o t he t reasured wealt h of knowledge bot h ancient and modern, in t he
acquaint ance wit h Sanskrit and English languages. The final examinat ion t hat you have
passed in Medicine is bound t o st and you in good st ead, in any part of t he world and in
spit e of any laws passed by a narrow misguided legislat ure; while your pen has already
made it s influence felt in Maharasht ra in bot h t he fields of prose and poet ry. On t he
ot her hand t he responsibilit ies and dut ies of t hat st age could not have been bet t er
discharged and fulfilled. When t he st orm began t o gat her over our Mot her it found you
unmoved and firm at your post – it burst and left you undaunt ed and t rue, and among
t he many fait hless yet fait hful! The ent husiasm, t o awaken which amongst t heir yout h
Europe has been holding before t heir eyes t he glories of iron crosses and Vict oria
crosses and unrolling rolls of honour –t hat ent husiasm and Fait h had been displayed by
you who discarded even t he reward of public acclamat ion nobly t herefore hast t hou
complet ed t he first st age of your life now ent er ye-, dear Bal and beloved Shant a ! –on
t he happiest and most exalt ed st age of life, t he life of wedded love. May t he pat h, dear
Bal, be st rewn wit h roses and may t hy yout h, dear Shant a, blossom fort h in
Amarant huses and gold ! Domest ic happiness- ‘t he only bliss of Paradise t hat has
survived it s fall’ may bless your nupt ial shed! मधुनñमुतोषिस मधुमत पािथवं रजः ् (The
dawn, t he evening sweet and grat eful be t he Eart h)! !
You perhaps remember t hat in one of my let t er I had j ust dropped a suggest ion t o
t he effect t hat it would not have surprised me if some one amongst t he clever Bengalis
had st olen your heart ! Aft er all t he expect ed had very nearly happened. For t hough I
long t o see t he day, when int er –provincial marriages amongst t he Hindus would t hrow
down t he art ificial and harmful barriers of cast es and creeds and t he Great River of life –
our Hindu Life would, having freed it self of all bogs and sands, flow in an ever fresh and
might y current - unint errupt ed and unint errupt ible –st ill t he first and foremost t hing t o be
effect ed. I n t hat direct ion is t o rest ore t o love her sole privilege and right of presiding
over t he wedding right s. I ndeed, we can no longer be blind t o t he fact t hat we care
more for t he good breeding of cat t le and fowls t han for t he Eugenics of man. Cent uries
of child marriages and marriages by proxies! Cent uries of love banished from it s
legit imat e sphere of influence t o at t ract and develop element s t hat t end t o t he
bet t erment of body and mind and soul; and t he inevit able result is a race puny,
debilit at ed, all vigour and manhood sapped out of it . Thousand t hings have wrought
t his-and t he marriage cust oms t hat prevail in us are one of t he few import ant fact ors
cont ribut ing t o it . Aut horit ies should come in t o sanct ify but not t o silence love
alt oget her. And glad was I t herefore t hat , t he age, t he educat ion, t he part t hat mut ual
at t ract ion and est eem played in welding your heart s t oget her and above all t he sanct ion
of all t hose who feel drawn t owards us should have enabled you t o have realized t hat in
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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which I t hought our family should not lag behind. Or in short when dear Bhau has
sanct ified it wit h his blessings it goes wit hout saying t hat it must have been j ust aft er
my heart .
And now Doct or Saheb, where are you going t o set t le? Only yest erday I was t old t o
writ e t his second let t er as t he first had been lost in t he Post office by accident . Alt hough
it must have cost you a lot of anxiet y yet t o me it enabled t o know your present
address. From t hat I see you are in Bombay, at present . Would you set t le in t hat
unhealt hy and cramped in cit y! Would not t he rising free Baroda suit bet t er where t he
enlight ened prince Sayaj i rules? But all t hat as you choose and not I –for you are on t he
spot and know how t o j udge best . One t hing only I would insist upon and t hat is you
must not in any case risk your Healt h and freedom- personal freedom. This is depend
upon me- perfect ly not only permissible but posit ively commendable in your case and
t he case of t hose who st and as you do. I n ot her cases t oo much at t ent ion t o personal
considerat ions is undoubt edly demoralizing; but you cannot pay t oo much at t ent ion t o it .
Be anywhere in t he world – in t he forest s of Africa- in t he Republic of America-t he
medical knowledge t hat you possess is sure t o serve a passport and a safe guard t o
you. For indeed wherever deat h is Doct ors also can be- (Ugh! Seen very angry? Of
course I ment ion t his wit h all due respect t o t he Maj est y of Medicines- in fact in order t o
exalt it .) Therefore do not hing t hat would do inj ury t o your Healt h and also, nay more
so, healt h of Shant a. She should of course be encouraged t o read more and t o writ e
even if she chooses; but t he first and foremost considerat ion of a young lady should be
her healt h. I t is a t rust she holds for ot hers, a debt she owes t o generat ions not yet
born. Every at om of healt h t hat a young lady dissipat es is so much t hat is t aken away
from t he St rengt h of souls t hat are yet t o rise. She is a golden link t hat j oins t he
Yest erday t o t he Morrow; a Promise t hat holds in it t he possibilit ies of her race.
Therefore t he first care of a wife should be her healt h t hat would harmonise t he
beaut ies of her body and mind and soul. So neit her st udy nor pleasure should ent ice her
away so as t o t ax her energy t oo much, but bot h should be indulged in only so far as t o
render t hat Healt h perfect and t hat Beaut y t ransperant ly pure.
Now somet hing about me; and yet I wonder what t hat somet hing is! For t here am I
as you left me aft er you finished t he last let t er you got from me. Change is a word t hat
is not found in prisoner’s dict ionary-especially in it s Port Blair Edit ion. The great war t hat
you say has shaken your hemisphere has left t ot ally unt ouched me and my Port Blair.
This our lit t le kingdom here is about t he only st at e t hat can wit h a j ust ifiable t ouch of
egoism claim in it s yearly speech from t he Throne of having maint ained it s int erest s in
t act in t his World –Eart h Quake. Our import s and export s are unchanged. We keep our
light s all night up. While our int ernat ional communicat ions are as peaceful as t hey had
been ever since t his lit t le kingdom rose out of it s Oceanic Night ! Mr. Asquit h has every
reason t o be j ealous of us. Our cit izens have not been forced t o subsist only on a
reduced scale of meal and Pot at oes as t he Germans are said t o die for t he simple reason
t hat we never at e any! What ever we eat we grow- grass and such ot her edibles while
t hese solid and aspiring walls of my j ail have reduced t he very walls of China t o a mere
heap of debris. Those walls could, and t hat t oo not very effect ively st op t he out siders
from rushing in but t hese walls while doing t hat can also effect ively prevent any one
inside from going out . No! on pain of deat h’ no! Thus we, like a lit t le world organized t o
serve as a prot ot ype and a foret ast e of t he hope of t he Humanit arians, when t he war
shall have been banished from t he realms of man, live-I beg your pardon – exist - as
peacefully and quiet ly as t o put t o shame t he very realm of Deat h.
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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As t o t he int erview –I t hink it is best t o wait t ill t his war be over. For t o a cert ain
ext ent we can underst and t he hesit at ion of t he Government in grant ing it now. And
even aft er t he war t he let t ers t hat you may writ e t o t hem for t he int erview should be
only on t he ground t hat every ot her prisoner is allowed a visit , so should I aft er 5 years
and not on t he ground of any anxiet y of our heart s t o meet . For in t hat case even if t hey
do not grant it we shall at least have t he manly sat isfact ion of not having displayed t he
most sacred and t he most human of all wounds-t he wounds of separat ion-t o an alien
and unsympat het ic eye. Again what ever you wish t o writ e in ameliorat ion here should
be writ t en direct ly t o Delhi. For almost not hing lies in t he hands of aut horit ies here as
for as change, especially for t he bet t er, is concerned in my case and what ever t hey can
do t hey are doing and I would request t hem t o do if possible, when it be left undone. I
know t hat some of you t hough sure and cert ain t hat I Shall not break down under t his
imprisonment are st ill grieved t o t hink t hat I should have been suffering all t his and
should have been forced t o desist from all work social or polit ical or even lit erary. But
brot her j ust t hink- is suffering no work? Who worked more for Christ ianit y –t hey who
suffered in silence and unknown or t hey who worked? Surely bot h; but I suspect t hat
t hose who work for a good cause out side, work much-but t hey who suffer for it in
prisons and fields work more. At bot t om work, if t rue, is suffering and suffering, if t rue is
work. Suffering is t he mot or, t he power t hat moves, and goads and propels a people.
Unless t he best amongst t hem suffer t he rest can not work. Bot h are grand, bot h are
indispensable, and if bot h be indispensable, t hen what grief if we be chosen and
ordered t o guard t his post rat her t han t hat ? I bless myself t hat t his fell t o my lot ! Do not
grieve, brot her, t hat I sit in darkness and simply wait ing while every one else is light ing
his or her lamp t o shed light on t he pat h of man.
Do you not remember t hat ‘Her St at e is queenly: t housands at her bidding post ; -
t hey also serve who only st and and wait ! ’
And how much more t hen do t hey who not only wait but suffer and yet st and! ! The
worker is great for he put s st one upon st one and chisels and moulds; but t hen t he
cement of t he Church? – is t he sufferer! The mart yr t hat bleeds! !
And indeed, Bal! you can hardly believe how happy I feel from moment t o moment –
st range breezes of bliss pass and repass kissing all t he inevit able physical worry and
weakness int o ever fresh ever blossoming j oy of t he soul at rest . I feel j ust as I used t o
feel in t he college days aft er some final examinat ion had been sat isfact orily gone
t hrough and went t o st ay home quiet ly but confident by expect ing t he welcome news of
passing. This Great Trial, This Test , t o achieve t he deliverance of t he Mot her! -and so
sat isfact orily gone t hrough as far as I was concerned! And now I have come Home here
and am confident ly expect ing t he Great News t hat must come! Oh! How I sleep soundly
–how sweet t he t hings; for I worked so st renuously in t he Day and while I was required
at Her head- quart ers t hat as soon as t his night came sleep fell as gent ly on my eyelids
as dew. There are moment s when ugly dreams t rouble-desire t o shine and see light -but
at t he first t ouch of analysis t he self st ands revealed and t he dreams melt away, are
swept away- and calm once more set in. Oh, when some t imes aft er such a sleep I wake
in my cell and hear t he waves idly breaking on t he beach j ust out side my lit t le, high
placed and barred window I remember t he lines of Kalidas ूासादवातायन7ँयवीिचः।
ूबोधयcयण व एव सुBम।् and fancying myself like t hat king I laugh and play and j oke –
all wit h myself! Such t hought s are suggest ed by t hat consciousness of a rest t hat is at
t he same t ime t he int ensit y of work – and t hey in t heir t urn guiling away t he mind from
t he t oo real heidousness of a prison st rengt hen t hat consciousness of t hat rest . And t hus
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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it is a fact t hat On t he whole I am and so is our brot her happy, sat isfied and willing t o
live as long as t hat must be in t he at mosphere of frowns and fret t ings and harshness, of
const ant clash and const ant discipline every st ep in which reminds you t hat you belong
t o a race of slaves.
The account of your marriage ceremony was very graphically writ t en. As t o t he
writ er- he is indeed a very gift ed man but wit h him self –diffidence is a great drawback.
I t hink he should first t ry t o writ e small popular st ories and short novels and get t hem
published in some of t he magazines for t hat would give him confidence in himself. Take
for example t he quest ion of cast e syst em. Let him by suggest ive st ories paint t he harm
it is now doing, how it is ret arding us from t he Great Goal t o which all mankind is
moving. Then let him writ e bigger works and so on. To him and t o t he Sahodar Yamaraj
and t o all of t hem give my most affect ionat e remembrances – my companion of
Childhood and chums of t he College days and comrades in t he field, all t hey whomever I
called mine and t o whom I pledge my word I remember t hem all wit h fresh affect ion
and est eem. I was glad t o know t he whereabout s of my dear Rishi! I s he st ill in t he
‘Service’; holds t he same office? And my new friends! I remember him so much ; for he
had been so considerat e and kind under- even under t hese circumst ances, even when
he himself had been undergoing t he same t rial! And t hen he is so int elligent and act ive.
I have missed t he name of our Professor in t he account of your marriage ceremony? All
my best wishes for him, and my dear and very est eemed Madam Cama! She must have
suffered a lot of worry owing t o t he war! Give her my best and freshest love and t ell her
t hat t hose whom I saw in Paris while I was wit h her t hen are ever foremost in my
memory- especially t he Sannyasin! The phot os t hat you sent have been a const ant
source of happiness t o us. My dear Yesu Vahini looks so calm and ever bearing and ever
t rue ‘like a Devat a’,as one of t he officers had said t o me when she came t o see me in
t he Bombay j ail! My deepest love t o her and my Tai and my Shant a. I am proud of t hem
all! Next t ime do not forget t o forward t he t ranslat ion of my beloved Yamane’s let t er –
Noble girl! – poor girl! A t housand pit ies! And yet a t housand glories for her silent and
yet int ense fixit y of purpose. Do not press her t o come t o Bombay if her parent s obj ect .
Their j udgment and love must be respect ed. How are all her brot hers ? My most humble
ूणाम t o my mot her and aunt मावशी.
Wit h all love
I am yours –TATYA
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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Cellular j ail
5 Aug 1917
Port Blair
My beloved Bal,
I was ext remely glad t o get your answer t o my last let t er which I sent t o you in July
1916. How grat eful we felt t o here in your lat est t hat you wit h all our friends are get t ing
on well, and are healt hy and happy. Thus it has pleased Providence t o spare for you
anot her year of bliss and especially of t hat t ender and pure bliss which is only t o be
found in t he bosom of a devot ed and dear family life. You see, my Bal, t he t imes and
t he climes in which t he lot of our generat ion has fallen, make it so imperat ive for all
noble and honest heart s t o choose t he pat h t hat leads t hrough sorrows and sighs and
separat ions which is t he pat h of dut y, t hat t he heart so hardened and accust omed t o t he
hard and merciless blows of fat e comes t o look upon disast ers and disappoint ment s as
t he very order of nat ure at any rat e of our part in t he nat ure’s scheme, and when a
delight ing event t akes place, it s at t ent ion is more fixed on how t emporary such a good
luck must be t han how good t hat luck is. To me a j oy is ever a solut ion of t ears. Well,
any how t he days are changed and wit h changing fort une friends t oo are ret urning.
When I left you in t he Dock in Bombay High Court , and had a last look of you not being
allowed even t o shake hands, waved my hat and part ed, my child, at t hat t ime t he st ing
of t he whole scene was in t he t hought t hat we- Dear Baba and I – could not do anyt hing
for you, our nearest and dearest charge. So young, so humble and having already
suffered more t han a man in his whole life does, you, my brot her, were cast adrift ,
befriended by none, hat ed by many, suspended by a powerful Empire! The family heart h
seemed ext inguished for ever, t he family gods broken t o pieces. And alt hough even all
t hat could not det er us from t he right nor make me ally myself wit h t he wrong, yet it
was wit h a bleeding heart t hat I wrot e
जो वंशबाग उºवःत झाला। संततपुंप तोिच एक। (t he garden t hat has shed all it s flowers for
t he garland of t he Gods is in blossom for ever.) Even t he ever greens of hope st ood
wit hered and blast ed. Only dear Vasant a, t hat was t he bud, a melancholy memory of
t he past . But now a few kindly t ouches of t he spring have revived t he sap and t he
creepers are put t ing fort h new buds. We had dear Vasant a, and we have our Raman
and God willing we may be blessed wit h one more messenger of new life. The lamp of
love is burning cheerfully under t hy roof, and it s warm and kind reflect ions have
light ened t he ut t er darkness of my cell here. And t he new name of lit t le Ranj an brings t o
mind t he all suffering, t he all loving , mot her, his grand-mot her, my dear Mavashi. What
a j oy it must have been t o her! Please t o give my love t o t hat dear lit t le child whom
perhaps I may never see! And t ell me whet her it underst ands it or not ! And why did you
not writ e t o me about Shant a herself? You left it t o Vahini t o do it for you. I t is t ypically
I ndian but in your next you must writ e t o me direct ly about your child and everyt hing
else. I t is t his ext reme modest y t hat makes t he generalit y of I ndian babes grow rat her in
t he shade t han in t he full light of t heir parent s’ eyes. No, No! you must look upon it as a
special and sacred charge. I t was a pit y t hat our dear Vahini should have been suffering
from Plague. I t hought t hat t his dire epidemic had at last by t his t ime left our shores but
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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it seems t hat it rages t here st ill. Please be very careful of it . I s it a lit t le less rigorous
t han it used t o be? Has not medical science as yet been able t o find some reliable cure
for it ? You should bet t er leave Bombay as soon as it appears t here. Not hing can be t oo
cost ly t o avoid it s dire claws, if indeed we can not blunt t hem.
The last parcel t hat I got was in January 1916 so neit her of us has received any
parcel for t he last eight een mont hs or so when we ought t o have received t wo. Now t his
was t he reason what made us very anxious about your safet y and I had t o ask t he
permission of t he Superint endent , who so kindly gave it , t o wire t o you. But I t hink we
should t ake as much care as it is possible t o avoid any such necessit y. The best way
would be t hat let t ers and parcels should be post ed by you in fixed mont hs, if not
dat es,…….
This much, so far as we are considered. But t hen t here is t he ot her part y in t he Post
of t he Government , and we cannot help suit ing t hings t o t heir pleasure. I n your last
let t er you have writ t en of a parcel lost in t he post and last year my let t er also was lost .
Now what is t he meaning of t his? Thousands of parcels and let t ers come all right t o t his
place; Only our let t ers and parcels should be so myst eriously spirit ed away! I s it t he
post ? I f so please t o leave no st one unt urned t ill t hey give some definit e explanat ion for
t he loss of t his parcel. You must have regist ered it ; t hen it would be clear whet her and
t hrough whose indulgence or malice, my let t ers and parcels are t ampered wit h. This
much for t he post office. But if not t he post – I t is t he Government ! Well; if so, t hen,
Mum ! ! ! Mum is t he word! ! As I have learnt t o do wit hout so many t hings which make
life wort h having, so also I shall and can learn t o do wit hout a yearly parcel t oo! But one
should have t hought t hat when a dozen censors have followed a book from t he print er’s
office t o t he clearance house and when powerful microscopes have searched t he very
anat omy of t he pages, t he books, at least , t hose which are found unobj ect ionable
should have been ret urned t o t heir owner!
The Nasik conference was really a success. The resolut ion about t he release of t he
polit ical prisoners has delight ed even us, t he forlorn and forgot t en, and our deep
grat it ude t o t hose who dare t o remember us st ill. One wonders why t he Congress should
fight shy of any such t hing even aft er it s union. Perhaps t he leaders of t hat body are t oo
much weighed down by t he sense of self-import ance. Perhaps t hey t hink t hemselves t oo
immaculat e – far more responsible a band of st at esmen and pat riot s t han General Bot ha
whose Government has released t he leaders Rank and file of t he Boer rebellion or
Redmond whose nat ionalist s have never ceased t o t ry for t he release of t he I rish
prisoners t ill t hey succeeded in having it . Nor can it be said t hat ‘t hat was a general
part icipat ion in a rebellion’ as Mr. Bonarlaw has at t empt ed t o st at e; for first ly in t he
I ndian Polit ical prisoners also t he overwhelming maj orit y are convict s of general
part icipat ion and secondly t he suffragist s t hough admit t edly and case for case had been
convict ed of ‘I ndividual’ charges were released by Mr. Asquit h long ago. But leave t he
Congress alone ! At any rat e as soon as t he war ends please t o see if a public Pet it ion
for our release could be sent . Such a pet it ion and resolut ion do not in t hemselves bring
such a release, but t hey at any rat e make it more accept able if it ever comes. For I for
one would indeed feel it a Shame t o go back t o a people which dares not , as for all I
know wills not t o remember t hose who loved and love and will never cease t o love t he
land of t heir birt h and right ly or wrongly but fell fight ing for Her! See, see if t he pet it ion
could be sent . That would be far more significant t han any resolut ions or meet ings.
While t oget her for a minut e or so, I said one day t o our dear Baba, t hat t here is said
t o be a Íपतृ ऋण Pit rarina and दे वऋण Devarina and ऋÍषऋण Rishirina &c. So also t here is
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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Put rarina पुऽऋण (Debt due t o a son). Aft er t he receipt of your let t er I felt myself fully
acquit t ed of it ! For aft er all you are now fully educat ed and fully fledged. Now come
what may at least t wo years of j oy have been best owed on you by t he kind Providence
and t hrough you on us. No day can shine forever . The life on t his eart h is like a t hree
pat alled flower; one is coloured wit h pleasure, t he second wit h t he colour of pain, t he
t hird mixed or colourless. Now t he pet al of pleasure and t hen t hat of pain get s wormed
and t hus t his vain round of recurrence goes on. Take any let t er or any life or even
Hist ory it self it is more or less a book of mere st at ist ics of so many birt hs and so many
deat hs, so many weddings and so many mournings, so much colours and so much
shade. So while t here is a brief respit e, a passing ray of j oy, a single t ouch of t he spring,
let us not forget t he hardship of t he wint er or foolishly depend upon and get addict ion t o
t hese wines of spring, while t hey are dancing in t he cup. No, No, our,…of t hose who are
born in I ndia in t his age… our const ant companion is wint er and not spring! Let us not
forget - t hat our life is a vast Sahara unbearable and st ill t o be borne, sandy, burning.
And while we are keeping t o t he pat h of dut y t hat passes t hrough t his parched desert , if
t he grace of God places in our pat h such on ‘Oasis’ as t his wit h which we have been
recent ly blent , t hen let us not forget t hat it is an accident , an art of grace; and wit hout
hast e and rest must cont inue our way on t his holy pilgrimage of life. Let us pray in all
humilit y as t he old saint s prayed ‘Give unt o us what t hou wilt and when t hou wilt and
how much t hou wilt ! And also t ake away from us what t hou wilt and how much t hou
wilt ’. Aft er all t he fine ideal for a young man is not t o acquire but t o sacrifice, not t o
rear but ‘t he garden t hat sheds all it s flowers for t he garland of t he Gods and t hus is in
blossom for ever.
How is my dear Mai get t ing on. What a silly idea I could forget my only Sist er! I may
as well get angry and cease t o speak wit h myself. While t he day last s t ry t o save
somet hing and invest in some safe form in t he name of dear Shant a or dear Ranj an for
we can never t ell when wint er may come again.! ! Not hing could mat ch t he ideal
const ancy of affect ion of our dear Madam Cama. Even t he war has not made her forget
you! Thus it is t hat many a t ime t he blood is not t hicker t han choice and t here are
affect ions which noble heart s alone can know of which neit her t he lack of blood nor of
int erest can cool and which growing up in an ideal land flourish and are nursed on
forces so subt le t hat t he every day and mat t er of fact would fails t o see or comprehend.
How are also my beloved Mai ( Yamuna) and Vahinis get t ing on. My love t o t hem all.
How is dear Balu? When I saw him in t he Bombay j ail he seemed t o upright and so
loving a boy! Now he must be quit e a respect able gent leman? And so also Anna. I
expect ed him t o be a clever and able yout h and shall be very glad t o know how far my
guess has been correct . I wish I could know everyt hing about all my brot hers including
dear Dat t u and Nana and what t hey do. But it is not and can not be owing t o my
forget t ing t hem as my dear Yamuna seems t o t hink but for ot her reasons which she can
well underst and by her past experiences t hat refrained me from ment ioning in my
previous let t ers. I f t here be any man or any family next t o dear Baba t o whom I owe all
t hat is best in me, and owing t o whose noble pat ronage and winning solicit ude I had
unusual chances and facilit ies of assimilat ing t he noblest t hings of t his world and even of
doing somet hing for our common Mot her-land, t hen t hat man and t hat family is t heirs:
(Chiploonkers). But t he sense of having been t he cause of so much worry and loss and
pain t o t hem wit h whom t he dearest t ies of blood and love and mut ual respect have
bound me, has already been so keen a source of sadness and ment al unhappiness t o
me t hat I do not dare t o add an inch more t o it all. And so have denied myself t he
grat ificat ion of expressing my t hankfulness or love. Ot herwise who cannot be proud of
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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t hose fine yout hs such as my own brot hers in law are-at any rat e promised t o be? And
of him who brought me up as dearly as t hem?.....and of t hat saint ly dut iful mot her! ! The
same t hing is t rue of all my friends! I remember t hem all! But for t heir own sake and not
for my own sake, dare not acknowledge t hem all. I could not underst and who t he
pleader was, who came t o you as my cont emporary but if really so, please t o t hank him
on my behalf for remembering me st ill. By t he by, be very careful of men who may
come t o you as acquaint ed wit h me or even claiming t o have seen me here or having
had t alk wit h me here. You are t oo experienced t o be caut ioned but nevert heless I
assure you I send no word or message t hrough any one t o you. Hear all but believe
none, except what st ands t o your reason wit hout my recommendat ion and on it s own
merit . Now t he t ime is over and I must finish. I am all right , t he det ails you asked would
be sent in dear Baba’s let t ers. Love t o all from bot h of us. Do not worry for our healt h.
As far as possible t ake care of your own healt h. I f in spit e of all human effort t he worst
comes t o t he worst well t hen we are quit e ready t o face it all! Do not worry.

Yours-affect ionat ely-TATYA
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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Port Blair
My dear brot her,
I was very glad t o read your let t er. This year owing t o t he regularit y wit h which
your parcels and let t ers had been dispat ched we could get t hem all at t he expect ed t ime
and were t hus able t o get rid of a lot of anxiet y and t rouble and pet it ioning . The answer
t o my let t er, t hen t he parcel t o brot her and t hen his let t er-all t hese enabled us t o get
your news almost every t hree mont hs. Please t o follow up t his plan as regularly as
possible. The news t hat t he Maharasht ra provincial conference had passed a st rong
resolut ion and t hat wit h great er unanimit y in favour of t he release of all polit ical
prisoners was very welcome! I n fact t he Bombay provincial conference has been doing
it s dut y wit h great er vigour, consist ency and persist ence t han any ot her P.C. in I ndia.
Last year so far as I could know t he provincial conference of U.P. and especially t he
Andhra Conference had also passed resolut ions in favour of t his release. The resolut ion
of t he Andhra conference was very definit ely and comprehensively worded and showed
t hat t he heart of t he Andhras beat in t horough and honest sympat hy wit h t hose who,
wit h t he means t hey t hought best t o effect t he Great Deliverance had, may be right ly,
may be wrongly but in ut t er sincerit y and indisput able selflessness offered t hemselves t o
pine away in prisons. You writ e t hat many of t he papers writ e const ant ly for t he release
and magazines t oo press on t o t he point t hat t he release of all polit ical prisoners is one
of t he condit ions under which t he removal of I ndian discont ent is possible. I f all t his be
t rue t hen I really fail t o underst and why t he Congress so far as I know, should st ill be
fight ing shy, should st ill be t rembling t o ut t er a syllable t hat might smell of sympat hy,
nay even of ordinary humanit y for t he polit ical prisoners, of t he people in whose name it
poses t o speak! Last year t hey passed a resolut ion for t he release of t he int erned
forget t ing t ot ally and very convenient ly t hat t he sufferings which brought t ears t o t he
eyes of t he pat riot s sit t ing comfort ably in t he well aired and well decorat ed Pandal had
been indefinit ely mult iplied and incessant ly faced by ot her men-not one not t wo but
t housands of ot her men whose services or sacrifices cannot at least be less t han our
int erned brot hers and who because t heir misery cannot aut omat ically end wit h t he war
as in t he case of t he int erned and t herefore demand a great er and more persist ent
agit at ion on t he part of t hose who are passing as responsible leaders of t he people!
‘Responsible’ t hat is t he t hing! They t alk of t he ‘int erned’ only, because t hey know t hat it
is Safer t o do so and t hey dare not t alk of t he rest because t hey might be losing t heir
responsible posit ions in t he eyes of t heir boss! Ot herwise when t he different provincial
conferences have so clearly and so oft en made it obvious t hat t he maj orit y of t he
provinces heart ily wish t o effect t he release of t he polit ical prisoners, one fails t o
underst and why t he Congress should fail t o do so. T he business of t he Congress is not
t o voice t he sent iment s of t he few t hat dominat e it s proceedings but of t he many who
give it it s. Weight and support and in whose name ought t o derive it s right t o be a
‘Congress’ at all. When so many provincial conferences have passed t his resolut ion and
so oft en, when t he leading papers and magazines have incessant ly pressed t his point ,
when many of t he leaders of t he Congress it self when it was t heir t urn t o be rot t ing
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behind t he prison walls had expect ed and had t hought t hey had a right t o expect t he
sympat het ic ment ion of t hem by t he people for whom t hey fought , above all or rat her
least of all when t he very Aust rian people, not t o ment ion t he I rish, t he Boers &c. had
been bold and honest and grat eful enough t o agit at e for t he release of all t heir polit ical
prisoners and succeeded in get t ing it done, when all t hese t hings are known and
admit t ed t hen I t hink t hat t he Congress could be and should be immediat ely forced t o
pass as bold and as comprehensive a resolut ion as t hat of t he Andhra or Maharasht ra
Conferences t his year. I f some old hags t remble let t hem absent t hemselves from t he
sit t ings t hat adopt s t his resolut ion. Why should you all share in t his guilt y silence
because a handful of ‘Responsible’ are shaky about it ?
Secondly one or t wo precaut ions should be t aken in case of any such resolut ion or
movement s if t o be effect ive. Many papers writ e about ‘Polit ical prisoners’ but t he
language is so convenient ly dubious t hat t he Government and even t he people are quit e
likely t o fail t o underst and what is meant by t hat omnibus t erm ‘Polit ical prisoner’. Some
t imes it means int erned, at ot hers t he det enue, t hen deport ed or t he st at e prisoners, but
hardly it ever means t hose who are convict ed for offences of polit ical nat ure. I point ed
out t o you last year t hat Mr. Bonarlaw himself made a dist inct ion in I rish cases t hat t he
rebels were not guilt y of ‘individual act s’ including arson ! Yet t hey were released as
soon as t he war broke out by t he very Government in which Mr. Bonarlaw works. Then I
don’t see why t he word ‘convict ed’ should be a bogey t o t he I ndian ‘Responsibles ’ and
t he ‘individual act s’ a screen t o hide t he Government anomalies in t he hands of Mr.
Bonarlaw. Bot ha is a prime minist er and Redmond t he const it ut ed Leader of a
Parliament ary Part y and yet t hey released t heir own opponent s and act ual rebels,
against t heir Government . But t he congressmen t hink t hey are ‘responsible men’ ! The
pariah t hat st ands begging at t he cit y gat e is more responsible cit izen and belongs t o a
higher cast e t han t he Sheriff and t he Chairman of t he cit y it self! So in t he fut ure
resolut ion and art icles t his point should be clearly and definit ely pressed t hat ‘polit ical
prisoners means all t hose undergoing imprisonment whet her convict ed or not , whet her
for individual act s or act s in general’ (I indeed fail t o underst and it alt oget her! ! ! )- for
act ions which proceeded from purely and admit t edly polit ical mot ives.’ The t erm polit ical
can be dist inguished from privat e only by t he crit erion of t he mot ive of t he act and not
by t he act it self. No act is or can be by it self polit ical. For even a rebellion if t hat
proceeds ent irely for my own bread and but t er is not polit ical and ought not t o creat e
any sympat hy in ot hers, unless indeed my cause was only a case in hand and was
fought out for est ablishing a general privilege or in vindicat ing of a general right . The
Thugs fought bat t les and were not polit ical in t he sense of sacrificing for t he General
Good. But even t he arson cases or flogging t he prime minist ers by a suffragist in
England had been recognized by t he Brit ish Government it self as polit ical because t he
mot ive was neit her personal aggrandizement nor revenge but t he advancement of some
social good. The means may be wrong, even criminal or not , t he Mot ive count s so far as
t he moral value, and here nat ional aspect of t he act is concerned. I writ e t his wit h
special st ress for t he reason t hat in case of an amnest y being grant ed –which I expect
not –t his point will be a st umbling block in our pat h, for t he Government might adopt
some anomalous dist inct ion and int erpret e t he t erm in any sense convenient t o t hem
but not j ust in it self. Try your best t o make t his clear t o all you can approach and let our
j ournalist s and leaders keep t his const ant ly before t hem.
(a)Please t o writ e t o me in your let t er whenever any of t he provincial conferences
have passed any resolut ion t o t his effect , whet her last year’s Congress had deliberat ed
on it in t he subj ect s commit t ee; how many papers writ e wholeheart edly about it , and if
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somet hing could be done in t his year’s Congress. When you writ e about it only ment ion
t hose cases in which t he general amnest y is asked and not only t hat of a few int erned
(b)Then again what had come of t he movement of sending a general and mob
pet it ion –of which you did not speak in your last . That idea should not be dropped at all.
I believe you have only post poned it in order t o put it forward more effect ively at t he
end of t he war. I f it is so all right . I n t he meanwhile I saw in one of t he let t ers here t hat
a pet it ion for t he release of P.P.s had been forwarded t o Mont ague while he was in
I ndia. How far is t his correct ? (c) The campaign of t he meet ings of which once you
spoke should be kept in view and not only once but almost every year it should be
carried on. (d) The Congress, t he P. conferences t he pet it ioning of t he individual
members, families, special series of meet ings arranged for t his purpose, t he const ant
at t ent ion of t he press, quest ions in t he Viceregal and Provincial Councils and in t he
Parliament : all t his and each of t his must be syst emat ically and persist ent ly carried year
in and year out t ill t he amnest y quest ion becomes a necessit y of t he polit ics t here. I n
each of your let t er please t o give me a summary of what could be done in each of t hese
direct ions, and forget not t o make clear t he meaning of t he ‘Polit ical prisoners’ whenever
resolut ions and art icles t alk about it t o t he people and t he Government as well.
Throughout t he discussion, I must frankly admit , I have aimed not so much at t he
act ual result of t he agit at ion as t o t he moral effect of it . I know and have clearly writ t en
t o t he Government in one of my pet it ions last year t hat t he quest ion of a general
amnest y of t he polit ical prisoners is closely and inevit ably bound up wit h t he quest ion of
t he est ablishment of a progressive and really const it ut ional Government in I ndia. So t he
chances of such an amnest y being act ually grant ed are not and cannot be immediat ely
and primarily expect ed. But t hough t hus we should fully realize t he impossibilit y of any
act ual result s being at t ained yet we should not lose sight of t he moral ones, which
would reward our effort s immediat ely by an elevat ion of t he nat ional t one and charact er
and which by reminding t he nat ion of t he sufferings of t heir Mart yrs and soldiers and
vict ims t hat fought for t he success of t he common cause, and more ent huse t he people
t o see t he fight cont inued and fought out t o it s ult imat e vict ory. Grat efully remembering
t he soldiers who fell is t he most effect ive way of recruit ing more soldiers t o cont inue t he
fight .
I n t he pet it ion t o which I referred t o above I had put before Mr. Mont ague and t he
Viceroy a frank st at ement of t he case of such an amnest y as t his. The main point s being
t hat while t hey were considering t he quest ion of t he Reforms in I ndia t hey should not
fail t o recognize t hat if t hey aimed at t he est ablishment of any responsible Government
in I ndia t hey should t hereby render it ut t erly fut ile t o cont inue t o lock us in j ail. For if a
real responsible Government be given and st ill t he amnest y not grant ed t hen t he lat t er
fact would act as a millst one round t he neck of such a syst em as t hat . For our presence
behind t he st one walls and cells cannot fail t o keep t he memory of t he old suspicion and
embit t erment bet ween t he people and t he Government living and would t ake away
much from what ever claims and confessions t he Government might make as t o change
of angles & effort s for co-operat ion and mut ual t rust . For even if Home Rule be grant ed
t o t he people unaccompanied by a general amnest y of t he P.P.s how is it likely t o t ouch
t he real root s of discont ent in t he Land? How can t here be peace and cont ent ment and
t rust in a land where a brot her is t orn away from a brot her, where t housands upon
t housands are rot t ing in cage cells and st and exiled and in j ails and where every ot her
family has a brot her or a son, or a fat her, or a friend, or a lover snat ched away from it s
bosom and kept pining away his life in t he parched and t hirst y Saharas of Separat ion! !
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While on t he ot her hand it would be as fut ile; I st at ed t his for t he sake of ent ire honest y
and t rut h t hough it was against my personal int erest –t o release t he polit ical prisoners
unaccompanied wit h a sincere and subst ant ial effort t o a responsible Government in
I ndia. For it would be int olerable for us t o live in a land where all pat hs t o progress are
barred by a ‘Trespassers would be prosecut ed’ or t o move t here wit hout t reading on
suspicious pat hs, where every st ep forward is an affront t o t he Sult ans ahead and every
st ep backward an affront t o one’s self-respect and conscience which is no less Sult anic
in it s exact ion. Therefore Home Rule and Amnest y go hand in hand and in order t hat t he
one may be effect ive, it should and must be accompanied by t he lat t er. I also st at ed in
it t hat my mot ive and aim in sending t he pet it ion being t he Grant of a General Amnest y,
I should be t he last t o be dissat isfied if t hat could be done by omit t ing my own name, if
t hat alone be a t horn in t he way of it s fulfilment . I f such view be ever t aken by t he
Government and I see t hat t he recent ly published Draft of Mr. Mont ague’s Scheme has
in a st riking paragraph expressed t he hope almost in it –a way of answer t o a
corresponding quest ion-t hat t he revolut ionist s would now find somet hing t o be
const it ut ionally done t o t he realizing of t heir hopes and aspirat ions and would change
t heir minds and ret urn t o useful pat hs of act ivit y; -and a really Responsible Government
meaning t hereby at least a subst ant ial maj orit y in t he Viceregal Council-wit hout of
course t he fet ish of a Council of St at e kept presiding over it and mixing a curse wit h
every blessing t he first may confer on t he land –if I say a subst ant ial maj orit y of t he
elect ed be grant ed in t he Viceregal Council, and such a great be accompanied wit h a
graceful and general amnest y of t he P.P.s, including t he Exiles in ot her lands such as
America and Europe –t hen I for one and many whom I know would consciously accept
such a const it ut ion as t hat and would, if t hought fit by our people and given a chance t o
do so by t he Government work under it and t ry t o fulfil t he Mission of our life t hrough
t he council chambers which have up t o t his t ime been bearing not hing but ill will
t owards us and have spared not hing t o embit t er our heart s against t hem and t heir
policy. Where is t he man who would run t he ordeals of fire or would t read t he pat hs of
furies wit h bleeding feet -for sheer amusement ! That is rare and rarer it is t o find t rue
pat riot and humanit arian who would indulge in reckless and bloody and necessarily
out rageous Revolut ions –if but and even when, a safer, nobler, more cert ainly moral
because ent irely effect ive and employing least resist ence, if but such a pat h, t he pat h of
const it ut ional Progress be open and accessible t o him? I t is mockery t o t alk of
const it ut ional agit at ion when t here is no const it ut ion at all; but it is worse t han a
Mockery-a crime t o t alk of Revolut ions as if it was a work of Rose –wat er even when
t here is as elast ic and progressive a const it ut ion as say t here is in England or in
This word for word I wrot e in Oct ober last t o t he Government and t he recent
changes give me a hope t hat if properly and organisedly pressed t he bill when it comes
before t he Parliament would grant us accept able scheme. And I would like t o bring t his
t o t he not ice of t he Vict ory once more and ask whet her t he I ndian Government have
come t o any definit e decision as t o my pet it ion. I received an answer on 1-2-18 from t he
Viceregal Government t hat t he ‘pet it ion for t he Amnest y of polit ical prisoners’ is being
considered by t he Government . Aft er t hat I have reason t o t hink t hat t he Government
ment ioned t o submit t he quest ion of such a release immediat ely aft er t he war. Please t o
enquire direct ly yourselves as it t akes a lot of caj oling t he Red Tape Syst em for me t o
enquire oft en.
You asked in your last let t er about t he advant ages we reap in being promot ed t o t he
second class; Well going out of t he j ail? No! Being allowed t o keep writ ing mat erial? No!
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Being allowed t o live wit h or even t o speak wit h my brot her? No! Being exempt ed from
t he compulsory and hard labour? No! Being promot ed t o be a warder or cease t o be
locked up in t he cell? No! Bet t er and hospit able t reat ment ? No! More let t ers? No! Any
visit from home? –ot hers get it aft er five years and I am in t he 8
t h
- No! Then if you st ill
ask what advant ages in being promot ed t o 2
class-well t he great one-t hat of being
promot ed t o t he second class! ! Do you underst and, Doct or?
So far as t o t he advant ages in t he j ail : but all t his was bearable t o me when my
healt h was comparat ively sound. But t his year I must t ell you t hat great and count ing
disadvant age has been added t o my lot for my healt h is ut t erly broken. You know I
could not have used such language but I feel it my bounden dut y t o do so. Confident am
I t hat a st udent of Git a and my own brot her would not be shaken under any calamit ies
t hat t he Blind Dame may bring t o us in her usual rounds and would st and squarely firm
facing all winds as t hey list . Brot her ! each year one day which was j oy unalloyed –t hat
was t he day of writ ing t he let t er Home. This year even t hat is a part ial j oy for t hough I
am writ ing t o you t o t he immence delight of memory –all t he pleasant scenes and dear
faces and grat eful remembrances being made alive –yet am feeling t he st rain of penning
even such a let t er as t his! The flesh complains and I could not go on wit hout a rest ! Last
year March, I weighed 119- t his year I weigh 98! They t ake t he weight wit h which we
come here as t he normal one; t hat is a wrong t est for we come here aft er rot t ing for
years in t he j ails and cust odies t here; But even when I came here I was 111Lbs. Chronic
Dysent ry due t o disregard of t he medical t reat ment in t he beginning has reduced me t o
a skelet on. Eight years I bore t he burden well. I nnumerable and unknown hardships
t axed my met al and an at mosphere of frowns and t hreat s and sighs, of demoralizing
and disheart ening st ench t ried t o st ifle t he noble breat h of life-but God gave me
st rengt h t o st and and st and firm and face it all for t hese eight years or so. But now I
feel t he flesh has received wounds t hat are hard t o heal and is day by day pining away.
Recent ly t he Medical Superint endent has been paying a lit t le special at t ent ion t o my
weakness and t hough I am st ill on ‘Dut y’ i.e. work and not in t he Hospit al yet I get
Hospit al diet t hat is bet t er cooked, and eat only rice and am allowed milk and bread at
present . I t is bet t er a bit and hope it may improve. But what is likely is t hat t his const ant
debilit y may end in some fat al malady or t hat inevit able friend so well known in j ails,
specially in Andamans-t he Pt hysis. Only one t hing and one t hing alone could assure me
of my recovering and t hat is a change –not in t he sense of j ail t echnicalit ies where a
change means always for t he worse- but a change for t he bet t er t o a bet t er climat e in
some I ndian j ail. The monot ony is get t ing appalling ! And yet be not over-anxious, t rying
it is but it cannot be decisive. For j ails as such have a great sust aining power. They
corrode but t hey do not kill. They pet rify but t hey preserve.
And cases are not want ing of prisoners living wit h slender chances of life for 80 years
and more. So however weak t he body be st ill t here is no fear, at any rat e unless some
furt her complicat ions arise of any fat al event .
And all t his again so far as t he flesh is concerned. For alt hough one cannot afford t o
be flamboyant ly defying fire while one is bound t o a pile of leaping flames-yet I may
ment ion t hat t he sprit is st ill willing and able t o dominat e t he quivering flesh, willing t o
suffer even furt her and even all not only ungrudgingly, but even unflinchingly. Brot her’s
healt h is relat ively bet t er t hough t he headache has reduced him t o 106 lbs.

Please t o give my reverence and love t o my dear Madam Cama, Hope she t akes care
of her healt h. How aweful for her t o pass her days in exile when one should have
t hought of passing t hem at t uned t o t he Music of sweet smiling children? Then what of
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Mai? Our sist er! Never mind what ever t roubles she has t o face –let her remember first
t hat her brot hers are facing great er t roubles for Dut y and secondly come what may her
Vasant is wit h her and t he sight of his face should make her forget and forgive all t he
miseries of her life. Nevert heless t he love of a brot her goes out t o her and his sympat hy
and hope t hat may be a lit t le cheering news for her. My love t o my dear Yamunabai and
my dear sist er-in-law. Glad t o hear Shant a improves. And about t he friend –t he Dear
and kind heart ed Doct or whom you ment ioned in your let t er please ask him t o forgive
me. I f ever I see him he could know how I prize him and friend-few indeed-but so
const ant as he-Sorry I would do not hing for him or for my brot hers –in-law Balu, Anna,
and ot hers or for my chosen chums of College days or for my dear and fait hful
comrades-except t o send fort h my heart y grat eful memory of t hem all. How is my lit t le
Ranj an? Does he know me? I hear t hat plague is likely t o break out once more. Sc be
wat chful and t ake care of your healt h which is life t o us! !

Yours affect ionat ely

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Cellular Jail
Port Blair
My dear brot her,
I expect ed t o hear from you as soon as you reached Bombay and so I wait ed longer
t han usual. But as I have not heard from you upt il now I have decided not t o wait
furt her in writ ing t o you. Ever since my last let t er t o you my healt h has been j ust as it
was when you saw me. Aft er your going back for a week or so it cont inued t o be well
and t hen again eit her a malarious fever or an at t ack of Dysent ry upset s it and t akes a
t oll of lb. or so causing my weight t o fall yet more : and again it cont inues well for a
week or a fort night furt her. Thus have I been going on and on and consequent ly my
weight which last year when I wrot e t o you was on t he average at 99 lbs. has for t he
last couple of mont hs been at 96 lbs. and 95 lbs. I n fact my healt h would have been
worse but for t he lit t le bet t er food and lit t le bet t er cell t hat have been allowed t o me
t hough t oo lat e, and alt hough my weight is rapidly going down yet on t he whole my
appet it e is improved and my st omach causes less complaint s owing t o t he Hospit al diet
t hat I have been get t ing for t he last 10 mont hs or so. Moreover in considerat ion of my
weakness and chronic malarious inroads I have been t reat ed as a hospit al pat ient and
have been exempt ed from rigorous work. So far as t his j ail life is concerned I gladly
st at e t hat t he Superint endent has been t rying t o put t hings as st raight as he can aft er I
wrot e t o you about t he rapid breaking down of my healt h. But it is t herefore all t he
more necessary and is all t he more forcibly demonst rat ed how necessary it is t o remove
me from t his unhealt hy and malarious climat e where in spit e of much at t ent ion of t he
j ail superint endent , my healt h and my weight are ever on t he decline, and not a
fort night passes wit hout a fever or some at t ack of st omach complaint s. I can assure you
t hat t he climat e of t his place is acknowledged as a very unhealt hy one and t he life in a
cellular j ail in such a climat e as doubly dangerous t o t he healt h of even a st rongly built
man used t o hard labour t hroughout his life –by t he medical aut horit ies t hemselves.
I do not know whet her you in I ndia know anyt hing about t he order t hat was read
out here on t he day of t he peace celebrat ion in England, concerning t he Amnest y of
prisoners. On t hat day or owing t o t he remission grant ed on t hat day –some convict s
have up t o t his t ime been released from t his convict colony. But so far as t he polit ical
prisoners are concerned not hing beyond t he vaguest promises was done, not a single
day’s remission has been as yet posit ively grant ed t o any of t hem barring a couple of
Bengali P.P.s An order was read out in t he name of t he Secret ary of st at e and t he
Government t hat so far as t he polit ical prisoners were concerned t he Government was
considering t he quest ion of grant ing some remission t o t hem. The above considerat ion
being guided by t he opinion of t he respect ive provincial Government s in t he first
inst ance and secondly by t he local recommendat ions of t he j ail aut horit ies based on t he
j ail conduct of t he prisoners. Moreover t he personal opinions of t he individual prisoner
would be carefully weighed before any decision is arrived! Now t his language may mean
much or what is more likely may mean not hing . No t ime is ment ioned as t o when t he
decision would be arrived at . And when in addit ion t o t hat one remembers t hat four
years ago t he I ndian Government had been pleased t o assure me t hat t hey were even
t hen having t he quest ion of Amnest y ‘under considerat ion’ one hardly can help
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suspect ing t hat t his reit erat ion of t he same words may be asking for anot her four years
hence. Again t he clause referring t o t he personal opinions is very likely t o be t he curse
of almost any one who falls under t he head of P.P.s for if personal opinions means t he
opinions of t he individual about t he polit ical sit uat ion in I ndia-t hen of course t hat is quit e
sensible and nat ural-but how t he Government is going t o know t hem? I f by t he
st at ement s of t he individual concerned t hen t here could be no obj ect ion t o t hat at all.
But if –as is more likely t o happen –by hearsay or secret report s t hen it would be bet t er
if t he Government and t he public would be frankly t elling t hat t hey do neit her wish nor
want t o consider t his quest ion at all. For being forced t o live amongst such dist inguished
company such as t hieves, robbers and habit ual convict s and in such a company alone –
what chance is t here t hat t hese would be report ing only t rut h about our opinions on
polit ics when t hese neit her underst and a bit of what opinions on polit ics mean nor are
ever want ing in t he gift of inst inct ively hat ing any one who is spot t ed out t o t hem by
t he aut horit ies as one whose opinions t hey are required t o report . No sooner does an
officer ask t hese ‘gent lemen’ in t he j ail t o know and inform about A or B t han do t hese
people come t o t he conclusion t hat a report against t hat individual would be more likely
t o increase t heir import ance in t he eyes of t he aut horit ies. And even t he highest officers
in an inst it ut ion like j ail cannot but depend on t he report s of t hese men who have
t hemselves been convict s and criminals and raised t o higher post s in t he j ail t hrough
sheer double dealing and in general t his is t he case. So I t hink t hat unless t he public
makes all t hese mat t ers clear t o t he I ndian Government in t ime and even now, even
wit h t he best of int ent ions on t he part of t he Secret ary of St at e lit t le or not hing will
come out of t he promise t hat t he Government has made.
Do you know anyt hing about t his promise ? I s it made public? I f so are t he provincial
Government s already approached and have t hey submit t ed t heir opinion? Has any one
at t empt ed t o get t he t ime fixed or at any rat e approximat ely but definit ely indicat ed by
t he Government ? I again submit t hat unless t he public makes it quit e clear and t hat not
spasmodically but syst emat ically t hat t here is an unanimous, heart y and det ermined
desire in t he heart s of our count rymen t o effect an Amnest y of t he polit ical prisoners
before t his opport unit y of t he Peace celebrat ion passes by, t he I ndian Government can
neit her be in a mood and even if in a mood yet not in a posit ion t o do much in t his
direct ion. The promise, vague as it is, is made t o feel t he public pulse, and if t he people
do not before hand express t heir will and sympat hy wit h t his proj ect ed Amnest y, I for
one could not find much cause t o blame t he Government for not having grant ed it .
I f t he charge of 109, 302 is t rue against me it is t ruer against all. And if for t hat I am
not going t o be released as a polit ical prisoner t hen t here is no polit ical prisoner in I ndia
at all! I simply indicat e t he line of argument knowing pret t y well t hat you would fill it in
much bet t er way t han I can do it here. Secondly ‘j ail conduct .’ Well for t he last 5 years
t here had been no occasion of being cased even once. I am sure t he aut horit ies here
would not have anyt hing part icular against me on t hat score t o say.
Thirdly so far as my personal opinions are concerned-well I had definit ely and clearly
st at ing t hem t o all concerned-t he Government it self not expect ed. So early as 1915 and
again in1918 I had sent and sent volunt arily a clear st at ement of my t hought knowing
full well t hat misunderst ood, t hey were quit e likely t o deprive me of any chance of
release. The st at ement sent t o t he Government is exact ly like what I wrot e t o you in my
let t er last year and which had already been before t he public eye. So neit her t he public
nor t he Government can be in any way unacquaint ed wit h my opinions. I believe t hat as
soon as t he reforms are effect ed and if t hey be soon effect ed and at least t he Viceregal
Councils are made t o represent t he voice of t he people t hen t here would be no
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hesit at ion on my part -infinit est ibly humble t hough it be –t o make t he beginning of such
a const it ut ional development a success, t o st and by Law and Order which is t he very
foundat ion and basis of Societ y in general and Hindu polit y in part icular. Do not t he
Scot ch or ever t he Maj orit ies of t he Boers choose t o maint ain a part nership in t he
Empire when t hat Empire –opens bet t er facilit ies for t heir respect ive development s t han
ot herwise? I ndia t oo and for t he mat t er of t hat any ot her people ought t o and nat urally
will j oin in forming a Common Wealt h and an Empire. Why should t hey be against it ?
When such a common life promises t o be more fruit ful t han divided pet t y and lonely
individualit y? As man is Social animal so is also st at e. And Empires had been and would
be as nat ural a development of t he inherent t endencies of t he social nat ure of man as
nat ions and families had been.
Well my dear Bal, I have been get t ing fever for t he last t wo days as I have caught a
cold and so find it necessary t o leave much t hat I meant t o writ e t o you. Please t o t ake
care of your healt h, and do not worry on our account or any ot her account . Take t hings
easy. Please not t o forget what I t old you about our family affairs when you met me. Try
t o save a lit t le and spend less. Dear Yamuna promised me t o send a very very big parcel
of almonds and candy and sweet s and what not at an early dat e. But being very very
big it is quit e nat ural t hat it is t aking mont hs t o pack it up. I t was indeed a pleasure t o
see her and know how she is as courageous and as sweet as ever. But poor Vahini! Half
t he j oy of any release fades int o apt hy at t he t hought of my going back t o a home
where she is not likely t o come t o welcome me! My earliest friend, my sist er, my mot her
and my comrade-in one, all at once, she really died as dies a sut t ee! Did she not
immolat e her silent soul and even at t he alt er of our Mot her-land? Ah! As t ruly as mart yr
dies for his Land or Religion do t hese I ndian girls of t o-day die pant ing, wit hering,
wat ching for t he ret urn of t heir lovers who are not dest ined t o meet t hem; suffering in
silence, serving t hough unknown, paying t hough unacknowledged, -do t hese Hindu girls
pine away and die for t heir Mot herland, for t heir religion. Woman in general is sweet
beyond measure ! But a Hindu girl-good, good good. She inflames not but soot hes,
remembers t hough forgot t en each and an ever newly published edit ion of t he I mmort al
St ory of Sit a! Dear Baba asks me t o t ell you t o console Mat hut ai especially on his
behalf; he feels more for her t han our dear Vahini herself . Not hing pleased me so much
as t o find you quit e healt hy and bubling over wit h life when I saw you here. Always t ry
t o be as healt hy and more. I am t ot ally unable bot h owing t o t he int ensit y of my feeling
and t he circumst ances under which I have t o pen t his let t er t o express fait hfully my and
our t hanks and sense of grat efulness t o all t hose who t hrough a personal or public
concern had felt such deep Sympat hy for me and for us and t ried t o bring some relief or
ot her t o us. To t ell you t he t rut h I honest ly believe t hat t his consciousness alone had
been t he only medicine t hat has enabled me t o pull on wit hout being worse and in fact
made me live t hroughout t his year in spit e of dysent ery, malaria and j ail-t his
consciousness t hat t here are so many men in my Bharat varsha who are ready t o share
my sadness and light en my burden –friends t hat enquire and papers t hat wrot e –t hose
who are moved t hrough personal friendship or acquaint ance and much more t han t hat
t hose who felt out of a genuine and simple humanit y. How is my dear Shant a? Don’t you
t rouble her much for any reading or writ ing. But do t rouble as much as you can my
friend Yamuna on t hat score –she has promised me t o act as a t ypewrit er and a clerk –
of course wit hout any pay and out of sheer pat riot ic favour! -when and if I ever come
back and my love t o dear Babu, Anna, and all my brot hers-in-law.
Yours affect ionat ely
Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
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Cellular Jail
Port Blair
My dearest Bal,
Your let t er t o dear Baba dat ed 2-6-20 reached us and made us glad by removing t he
sense of anxiet y caused by your const ant post poning your coming over here. My healt h
is j ust as it was when you left me. I t is not worse eit her. But aft er your going t he healt h
of our brot her has been going from bad t o worse. I t is his t urn now. The complaint is
t he same. Digest ion t roubles and consequent liver disorder. His weight is 106 lbs.
Because I writ e t his much do not imagine t hat our healt h must be worse st ill. Not so. I
writ e exact ly as it st ands. I f somet hing worse happens I shall inform you of it .
Aft er all t he general amnest y has come ! Hundreds are being released. Thanks
chiefly t o t he great exert ions of t he Bombay Nat ional Union and of our leaders and of
our pat riot ic count rymen who organized, support ed and signed t he mass pet it ion for t he
release of I ndian polit ical prisoners. That huge pet it ion signed by no less t han 75,000
people at such a short not ice as t hat must have cert ainly put an immense t hough
unacknowledged pressure on t he Government . At any rat e it elevat ed t he moral st at us
of t he P.P.s and t herefore of t he cause for which t hey fought and fell. Now indeed our
release if at all it comes in wort h having, as t he people have expressed t heir desire t o
have us back. We cannot sufficient ly t hank our count rymen for sympat hy and solicit ude
for us all. They had really shown great er regard for us t han we honest ly believe t o have
deserved. Nor have t heir effort s been ent irely fruit less. For alt hough we t wo have been
declared t o fall out side t he scope of t he Amnest y and are st ill rot t ing in t he cells yet t he
sight of hundreds of our polit ical comrades and co-sufferers’ release makes us feel
relieved and repaid for all t he agit at ion t hat we have been carrying on for t he last eight
years or so t hrough st rikes, let t ers, pet it ions, t he press, and t he plat form, here and else
On t he 2-4-20 I put in a fresh pet it ion t o t he Government of I ndia on subj ect of
Royal clemency recent ly grant ed. Therein aft er t hanking t he Government for t he release
of hundreds of polit ical prisoners and for t hus part ially grant ing my pet it ion of 1918, I
have pleaded for t he furt her ext ent ion of t he Royal clemency t o t hose who are yet in j ail
as well as t o t he Polit ical exiles abroad. I had once more defined my personal posit ion as
regards t he polit ical sit uat ion in I ndia, especially wit h reference t o t hose quest ions which
from t ime t o t ime are st ill being discussed and debat ed upon in t he official circles and
have been personally pressed before me by some of t hem only very very recent ly .
We believe in an universal st at e embracing all mankind and wherein all men and
women would be cit izens working for and enj oying equally t he fruit s of t his eart h and
t his sun, t his land and t his light , which const it ut e t he real Mot herland and t he Fat herland
of man. All ot her divisions and dist inct ions are art ificial t hough indispensable. Believing
t hus t hat t he ideal of all polit ical science and art is or ought t o be Human st at e in which
all nat ions merge –t heir polit ical selves for t heir own fulfilment even as t he cells in an
organism, organisms in families and t ribes, and t ribes in nat ion-st at es have done; and
believing t herefore t hat humanit y is higher pat riot ism and t herefore any Empire or
Commonwealt h t hat succeeds in welding numbers of conflict ing races and nat ions in one
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harmonious, if not homogenious, whole in such wise as t o render each of t hem bet t er
fit t ed t o realize, enrich and enj oy life in all it s noble aspect s is a dist inct st ep t o t he
realizat ion of t hat ideal I can conscient iously co-operat e wit h any at t empt t o found a
common-wealt h which would be neit her Brit ish nor I ndian but which may, t ill a bet t er
name be devised, be st yled as an Aryan Common-wealt h. Wit h t his end in view I am
willing t o work now. And t herefore I rej oiced t o hear t hat t he Government have changed
t heir angle of vision and meant t o make it possible for I ndia t o advance const it ut ionally
on t he pat h t o Freedom and st rengt h and fullness of life. I am sure t hat many a
revolut ionist would like me cry halt under such circumst ances and t ry t o meet England
under an honourable t ruce, even in a halfway house as t he reformed Council Halls
promised t o be, and work t here before a furt her march on t o progress be sounded.
For it was t his very principle t hat humanit y was a higher pat riot ism t hat made us so
rest less when we saw t hat a part of it should aggrandize and swell like a virulent cancer
in such wise as t o t hreat en t he life of t he human whole; and forced us for t he want of
any ot her effect ive remedy; t o t ake t o t he Surgeon’s Knife and feel t hat severit y for t he
moment would cert ainly be mercy in t he long run. But even while combat ing force wit h
force we heart ily abhorred and do yet abhor all violence. For violence is force
aggressively used-force t hat is life killing. I never cherished not even in my dreams any
aggressive ambit ion for personal or nat ional aggrandizement , and so far was I from
being a part y t o violence t hat I act ually kept opposing it t oot h and nail whenever I saw
it used by powerful combinat ions against t heir weaker but right eous rivals. I heart ily
abhorred violence resort ed t o in days gone by-by ambit ious men and nat ions not only
out side I ndia but even in I ndia herself. I felt as rebellious against t he cast e syst ems and
t he unt ouchabilit y inside I ndia as her dominat ed by foreigners from out side.
Thus we were revolut ionist s under necessit y and not by choice. We felt t hat t he
best int erest s of I ndia as well as of England demanded t hat her ideals be progressively
and peacefully realized by mut ual help and co-operat ion. And if t hat be possible even
now I shall t ake t he first opport unit y t o resort t o peaceful means and rush in t he first
const it ut ional breach effect ed by revolut ion or ot herwise, however narrow it be and t ry
t o widen it so as t o enable t he forces of evolut ion t o flow in an unint errupt ed
I f t he reforms whole heart edly effect ed and worked out by t he Government would
serve t he purpose of such a const it ut ional breach as t hat t hen revolut ion ceases and
evolut ion becomes a wat chword and a rallying cry of us all. And I as one humble soldier
in Her rank would honest ly t ry my best t o make t he reform successful, t hat is, work
t hem out so as t o render t hem a st epping st one t o t he realizat ion of t he great mission of
our generat ion of making I ndia free and great and glorious, leading or marching hand in
hand wit h ot hers t o t he appoint ed dest iny of man.
Such were my view when I was working in t he revolut ionary camp. And such are my
views aft er 12 long years of being pent up wit hin t he four walls of a solit ary cell. True it
is t hat we found it impossible t o bear love and loyalt y t o laws t hat were dict at ed by t he
Sword, and const it ut ions t hat serve as masks t o conceal t he heidousness of Tyranny yet
it is equally t rue t hat we honest ly felt and st ill feel ourselves in dut y bound t o st and by
t he side of Law –t hat is t he expression of t he right eous resolve of a free people and
const it ut ion t hat holds t oget her harmonizes and fuses t he effort s of free men and
women t owards t he good of man and t he glory of God.
As t o t he quest ion so oft en put t o me and ot hers by officers no less exalt ed t han t he
members of t he I ndian Cabinet ‘what if you had rebelled against t he ancient kings of
I ndia? They used t o t rample rebels under t he feet of Elephant s’. I answer t hat not only
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in I ndia but even in England and all ot her part s of t he world such would have at t imes
been t he fat e of rebels. But t hen why did t he Brit ish people fill t he whole world wit h a
howl t hat t he Germans had ill t reat ed t heir capt ives and did not allow t hem fresh bread
and but t er ! There was a t ime when capt ives were flayed alive and offered as vict ims t o
Moloch and Thor and such ot her Gods of war ! ’ The t hing is t his t hat t his advanced
st age in civilizat ion at t ained by man is t he result ant of t he effort s of all men and
t herefore t heir common inherit ance and benefit s all. Speaking relat ively t o Barbarian
t imes it is t rue t hat I had a fair t rial and a j ust sent ence and t he Government is at libert y
t o derive what ever sat isfact ion t hey can from t he compliment t hat t hey give a fairer t rial
and a j ust er sent ence t o t heir capt ives t han t he cannibals used t o do. But it should not
be forgot t en t hat if in olden days t he rulers flayed t heir rebels alive t hen t he rebels t oo
when t hey got t he upper hand flayed alive t he rulers as well. And if t he Brit ish people
t reat ed me or ot her rebels more j ust ly i.e. less barbarously t hen t hey may rest assured
t hat t hey t oo would be as lenient ly t reat ed by t he I ndian rebels if ever t he t ables are
t urned?
Please do not hope much from t his pet it ion so far as our release is concerned. We
never pit ched our hopes t oo high and if not released we shall not be very much
disappoint ed. We are quit e prepared t o face it eit her way. You have t ried your best and
it is mainly due t o your unceasing effort s t hat t he release of P.P.s because such a
burning quest ion as t hat and t hough not we t wo, yet hundreds of ot hers have won back
t heir libert y.
Hoping t o find you in good healt h and wit h best and loving regards t o all our friends
and relat ions.
I remain dear brot her
Yours affect ionat ely

Le t t e r s f r o m An d a ma n
Page 35 of 35

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