My Experiments with Truth - MK Gandhi

BIRTH AND PARENTAGE
The Gandhi is belong to the Bania caste and seem to have been originally grocers. But
for three generations, from my grandfather, they have been Prime Ministers in several
Kathiawad States. Uttamchand Gandhi, alias ta Gandhi, my grandfather, must have
been a man of !rinci!le. State intrigues com!elled him to leave Porbandar, where he
was "iwan, and to see# refuge in $unagadh. There he saluted the %awab with the left
hand. Someone, noticing the a!!arent discourtesy, as#ed for an e&!lanation, which
was given thus' (The right hand is already !ledged to Porbandar.(
ta Gandhi married a second time, having lost his first wife. )e had four sons by his
first wife and two by his second wife. * do not thin# that in my childhood * ever felt or
#new that these sons of ta Gandhi were not all of the same mother. The fifth of
these si& brothers was Karamchand Gandhi, alias Kaba Gandhi, and the si&th was
Tulsidas Gandhi. Both these brothers were Prime Ministers in Porbandar, one after the
other. Kaba Gandhi was my father. )e was a member of the +a,asthani# -ourt. *t is
now e&tinct, but in those days it was a very influential body for settling dis!utes
between the chiefs and their fellow clansmen. )e was for some time Prime Minister in
+a,#ot and then in .an#aner. )e was a !ensioner of the +a,#ot State when he died.
Kaba Gandhi married four times in succession, having lost his wife each time by
death. )e had two daughters by his first and second marriages. )is last wife, Putlibai,
bore him a daughter and three sons, * being the youngest.
My father was a lover of his clan, truthful, brave and generous, but short/tem!ered.
To a certain e&tent he might have been given to carnal !leasures. 0or he married for
the fourth time when he was over forty. But he was incorru!tible and had earned a
name for strict im!artiality in his family as well as outside. )is loyalty to the state
was well #nown. 1n 1ssistant Political 1gent s!o#e insultingly of the +a,#ot Tha#ore
Saheb, his chief, and he stood u! to the insult. The 1gent was angry and as#ed Kaba
Gandhi to a!ologi2e. This he refused to do and was therefore #e!t under detention for
a few hours. But when the 1gent saw that Kaba Gandhi was adamant, he ordered him
to be released.
My father never had any ambition to accumulate riches and left us very little
!ro!erty.
)e had no education, save that of e&!erience. 1t best, he might be said to have read
u! to the fifth Gu,arati standard. f history and geogra!hy he was innocent. But his
rich e&!erience of !ractical affairs stood him in good stead in the solution of the most
intricate 3uestions and in managing hundreds of men. f religious training he had very
little, but he had that #ind of religious culture which fre3uent visits to tem!les and
listening to religious discourses ma#e available to many )indus. *n his last days he
began reading the Gita at the instance of a learned Brahman friend of the family, and
he used to re!eat aloud some verses every day at the time of worshi!.
The outstanding im!ression my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness.
She was dee!ly religious. She would not thin# of ta#ing her meals without her daily
!rayers. Going to Haveli /the .aishnava tem!le/was one of her daily duties. 1s far as
my memory can go bac#, * do not remember her having ever missed the Chaturmas .
She would ta#e the hardest vows and #ee! them without flinching. *llness was no
e&cuse for rela&ing them. * can recall her once falling ill when she was observing the
Chandrayana vow, but the illness was not allowed to interru!t the observance. To
#ee! two or three consecutive fasts was nothing to her. 4iving on one meal a day
during Chaturmas was a habit with her. %ot content with that she fasted every
alternate day during one Chaturmas . "uring another Chaturmas she vowed not to
have food without seeing the sun. 5e children on those days would stand, staring at
the s#y, waiting to announce the a!!earance of the sun to our mother. 6veryone
#nows that at the height of the rainy season the sun often does not condescend to
show his face. 1nd * remember days when, at his sudden a!!earance, we would rush
and announce it to her, She would run out to se with her own eyes, but by that time
the fugitive sun would be gone, thus de!riving her of her meal. 7That does not
matter,7 she would say cheerfully, 7God did not want me to eat today.7 1nd then she
would return to her round of duties.
My mother had strong commonsense. She was well informed about all matters of
state, and ladies of the court thought highly of her intelligence. ften * would
accom!any her, e&ercising the !rivilege of childhood, and * still remember many lively
discussions she had with the widowed mother of the Tha#ore Saheb.
f these !arents * was born at Porbandar, otherwise #nown as Sudama!uri, on the 8nd
ctober, 9:;<, * !assed my childhood in Porbandar. * recollect having been !ut to
school. *t was with some difficulty that * got through the multi!lication tables. The
fact that * recollect nothing more of those days than having learnt, in com!any with
other boys, to call our teacher all #inds of names, would strongly suggest that my
intellect must have been sluggish, and my memory raw.
CHIDH!!D
* must have been about seven when my father left Porbandar for +a,#ot to become a
member of the +a,asthani# -ourt. There * was !ut into a !rimary school, and * can
well recollect those days, including the names and other !articulars of the teachers
who taught me. 1s at Porbandar, so here, there is hardly anything to note about my
studies. * could only have been a mediocre student. 0rom this school * went to the
suburban school and thence to the high school, having already reached my twelfth
year. * do not remember having ever told a lie, during this short !eriod, either to my
teachers or to my school/mates, * used to be very shy and avoided all com!any. My
boo#s and my lessons were my sole com!anions. To be at school at the stro#e of the
hour and to run bac# home as soon as the school closed/that was my daily habit. *
literally ran bac#, because * could not bear to tal# to anybody. * was even afraid lest
anyone should !o#e fun at me.
There is an incident which occurred at the e&amination during my first year at the
high school and which is worth recording. Mr Giles, the educational *ns!ector, had
come on a visit of ins!ection. )e had set us five words to write as a s!elling e&ercise.
ne of the words was (Kettle(. * had mis/s!elt it. The teacher tried to !rom!t me with
the !oint of his boot, but * would not be !rom!ted. *t was beyond me to see that he
wanted me to co!y the s!elling from my neighbour(s slate, for * had thought that the
teacher was there to su!ervise us against co!ying. The result was that all the boys,
e&ce!t myself, were found to have s!elt every word correctly. nly * had been stu!id.
The teacher tried later to bring this stu!idity home to me. but without effect. * never
could learn the art of (co!ying(.
=et the incident did not in the least diminish my res!ect for my teacher. * was by
nature, blind to the faults of elders. 4ater * came to #now of many other failings of
this teacher, but my regard for him remained the same. 0or * had learnt to carry out
the orders of elders, not to scan their actions.
Two other incidents belonging to the same !eriod have always clung to my memory. 1s
a rule * had a distaste for any reading beyond my school boo#s. The daily lessons had
to be done, because * disli#ed being ta#en to tas# by my teacher as much as * disli#ed
deceiving him. Therefore * would do the lessons, but often without my mind in them.
Thus when even the lessons could not be done !ro!erly, there was of course no
3uestion of any e&tra reading. But somehow my eyes fell on a boo# !urchased by my
father. *t was Shravana Pitribhakti Nataka >a !lay about Sharavana(s devotion to his
!arents?. * read it with intense interest. There came to our !lace about the same time
itinerant showmen. ne of the !ictures * was shown was of Shravana carrying, by
means of slings fitted for his shoulders, his blind !arents on a !ilgrimage. The boo#
and the !icture left an indelible im!ression on my mind. ()ere is an e&am!le for you
to co!y,( * said to myself. The agoni2ed lament of the !arents over Shravana(s death is
still fresh in my memory. The melting tune moved me dee!ly, and * !layed it on a
concertina which my father had !urchased for me.
There was a similar incident connected with another !lay. $ust about this time, * had
secured my father(s !ermission to see a !lay !erformed by a certain dramatic
com!any. This !lay/Harishchandra/ ca!tured my heart. * could never be tired of
seeing it. But how often should * be !ermitted to go@ *t haunted me and * must have
acted Harishchandra to myself times without number. (5hy should not all be truthful
li#e )arishchandra@( was the 3uestion * as#ed myself day and night. To follow truth
and to go through all the ordeals )arishchandra went through was the one ideal it
ins!ired in me. * literally believed in the story of )arishchandra. The thought of it all
often made me wee!. My commonsense tells me today that )arishchandra could not
have been a historical character. Still both )arishchandra and Shravana are living
realities for me, and * am sure * should be moved as before if * were to read those
!lays again today.
CHID MARRIAGE
Much as * wish that * had not to write this cha!ter, * #now that * shall have to swallow
many such bitter draughts in the course of this narrative. 1nd * cannot do otherwise,
if * claim to be a worshi!!er of Truth. *t is my !ainful duty to have to record here my
marriage at the age of thirteen. 1s * see the youngsters of the same age about me
who are under my care, and thin# of my own marriage, * am inclined to !ity myself
and to congratulate them on having esca!ed my lot. * can see no moral argument in
su!!ort of such a !re!osterously early marriage.
4et the reader ma#e no mista#e. * was married, not betrothed. 0or in Kathiawad there
are two distinct rites, betrothal and marriage. Betrothal is a !reliminary !romise on
the !art of the !arents of the boy and the girl to ,oin them in marriage, and it is not
inviolable. The death of the boy entails no widowhood on the girl. *t is an agreement
!urely between the !arents, and the children have no concern with it. ften they are
not even informed of it. *t a!!ears that * was betrothed thrice, though without my
#nowledge. * was told that two girls chosen for me had died in turn, and therefore *
infer that * was betrothed three times. * have a faint recollection, however, that the
third betrothal too# !lace in my seventh year. But * do not recollect having been
informed about it. *n the !resent cha!ter * am tal#ing about my marriage, of which *
have the clearest recollection.
*t will be remembered that we were three brothers. The first was already married.
The elders decided to marry my second brother, who was two or three years my
senior,a cousin, !ossibly a year older, and me, all at the same time. *n doing so there
was no thought of our welfare, much less our wishes. *t was !urely a 3uestion of their
own convenience and economy.
Marriage among )indus is no sim!le matter. The !arents of the bride and the
bridegroom often bring themselves to ruin over it. They waste their substance, they
waste their time. Months are ta#en u! over the !re!arations in ma#ing clothes and
ornaments and in !re!aring budgets for dinners. 6ach tries to outdo the other in the
number and variety of courses to be !re!ared. 5omen, whether they have a voice or
no, sing themselves hoarse, even get ill, and disturb the !eace of their neighbours.
these in their turn 3uietly !ut u! with all the turmoil and bustle all the dirt and filth,
re!resenting the remains of the feasts, because they #now that a time will come
when they also will be behaving in the same manner.
*t would be better, thought my elders, to have all this bother over at one and the
same time. 4ess e&!ense and greater eclat. 0or money could be freely s!ent if it had
only to be s!ent once instead of thrice. My father and my uncle were both old, and
we were the last children they had to marry. it is li#ely that they wanted to have the
last best time of their lives. *n view of all these considerations, a tri!le wedding was
decided u!on, and as * have said before, months were ta#en u! in !re!aration for it.
*t was only through these !re!arations that we got warning of the coming event. * do
not thin# it meant to me anything more than the !ros!ect of good clothes to wear,
drum beating, marriage !rocessions, rich dinners and a strange girl to !lay with. The
carnal desire came later. * !ro!ose to draw the curtain over my shame, e&ce!t for a
few details worth recording. To these * shall come later. But even they have little to
do with the central idea * have #e!t before me in writing this story.
So my brother and * were both ta#en to Porbandar from +a,#ot. There are some
amusing details of the !reliminaries to the final drama e.g. smearing our bodies all
over with turmeric !aste but * must omit them.
My father was a "iwan, but nevertheless a servant, and all the more so because he
was in favour with the Tha#ore Saheb. The latter would not let him go until the last
moment. 1nd when he did so, he ordered for my father s!ecial stage coaches,
reducing the ,ourney by two days. But the fates had willed otherwise. Porbandar is
98A miles from +a,#ot, a cart ,ourney of five days. My father did the distance in
three, but the coach to!!led over in the third stage, and he sustained severe in,uries.
)e arrived bandaged all over. Both his and our interest in the coming event was half
destroyed, but the ceremony had to be gone through. 0or how could the marriage
dates be changed@ )owever, * forgot my grief over my father(s in,uries in the childish
amusement of the wedding.
* was devoted to my !arents. but no less was * devoted to the !assions that flesh is
heir to. * had yet to learn that all ha!!iness and !leasure should be sacrificed in
devoted service to my !arents. 1nd yet, as though by way of !unishment for my
desire for !leasures, an incident ha!!ened, which has ever since ran#led in my mind
and which * will relate later. %ish#ulanand sings' (+enunciation of ob,ects, without the
renunciation of desires, is short/lived, however hard you may try.( 5henever * sing this
song or hear it sung, this bitter untoward incident, rushes to my memory and fills me
with shame.
My father !ut on a brave face in s!ite of his in,uries, and too# full !art in the
wedding. 1s * thin# of it, * can even today call before my mind(s eye the !laces where
he sat as he went through the different details of the ceremony. 4ittle did * dream
then that one day * should severely critici2e my father for having married me as a
child. 6verything on that day seemed to me own right and !ro!er and !leasing. There
was also my own eagerness to get married. 1nd as everything that my father did then
struc# me as beyond re!roach, the recollection of those things is fresh in my memory.
* can !icture to myself, even today, how we sat on our wedding dais, how we
!erformed the Saptapadi how we, the newly wedded husband and wife, !ut the sweet
Kansar into each other(s mouth, and how we began to live together. 1nd ohB that first
night.Two innocent children all unwittingly hurled themselves into the ocean of life.
My brother(s wife had thoroughly coached me about my behaviour on the first night. *
do not #now who had coached my wife. * have never as#ed her about it, nor am *
inclined to do so now. The reader may be sure that we were too nervous to face each
other. 5e were certainly too shy. )ow was * to tal# to her, and what was * to say@ The
coaching could not carry me far. But no coaching is really necessary in such matters.
The im!ressions of the former birth are !otent enough to ma#e all coaching
su!erfluous. 5e gradually began to #now each other, and to s!ea# freely together. 5e
were the same age. but * too# no time in assuming the authority of a husband.
PA"ING THE H#$BAND
1bout the time of my marriage, little !am!hlets costing a !ice, or a !ie >* now forget
how much?, used to be issued, in which con,ugal love, thrift, child marriages, and
other such sub,ects were discussed. 5henever * came across any of these, * used to go
through them cover to cover, and it was a habit with me to forget what * did not li#e,
and to carry out in !ractice whatever * li#ed. 4ifelong faithfulness to the wife,
inculcated in these boo#lets as the duty of the husband, remained !ermanently
im!rinted on my heart. 0urthermore, the !assion for truth was innate in me, and to
be false to her was therefore out of the 3uestion. 1nd then there was very little
chance of my being faithless at that tender age.
But the lesson of faithfulness had also untoward effect. (*f * should be !ledged to be
faithful to my wife, she also should be !ledged to be faithful to me,( * said to myself.
The thought made me a ,ealous husband. )er duty was easily converted into my right
to e&act faithfulness from her, and if it had to be e&acted, * should be watchfully
tenacious of the right. * had absolutely no reason to sus!ect my wife(s fidelity, but
,ealousy does not wait for reasons. * must needs be for ever on the loo#/out regarding
her movements, and therefore she could not go anywhere without my !ermission. This
sowed the seeds of a bitter 3uarrel between us. The restraint was virtually a sort of
im!risonment. 1nd Kasturbai was not the girl to broo# any such thing. She made it a
!oint to go out whenever and wherever she li#ed. More restraint on my !art resulted
in more liberty being ta#en by her, and in my getting more and more cross. +efusal to
s!ea# to one another thus became the order of the day with us, married children. *
thin# it was 3uite innocent of Kasturbai to have ta#en those liberties with my
restrictions. )ow could a guileless girl broo# any restraint on going to the tem!le or
on going on visits to friends@ *f * had the right to im!ose restrictions on her, had not
she also a similar right@ 1ll this is clear to me today. But at that time * had to ma#e
good my authority as a husbandB
4et not the reader thin#, however, that ours was a life of unrelieved bitterness. 0or
my severities were all based on love. * wanted to make my wife an ideal wife. My
ambition was to make her live a !ure life, learn what * learnt,and identify her life and
thought with mine.
* do not #now whether Kasturbai had any such ambition. She was illiterate. By nature
she was sim!le, inde!endent, !ersevering and, with me at least, reticent. She was
not im!atient of her ignorance and * do not recollect my studies having ever s!urred
her to go in for a similar adventure. * fancy, therefore, that my ambition was all one/
sided. My !assion was entirely centred on one woman, and * wanted it to be
reci!rocated. But even if there were no reci!rocity, it could not be all unrelieved
misery because there was active love on one side at least.
* must say * was !assionately fond of her. 6ven at school * used to thin# of her, and the
thought of nightfall and our subse3uent meeting was ever haunting me. Se!aration
was unbearable. * used to #ee! her awa#e till late in the night with my idle tal#. *f
with this devouring !assion there had not been in me a burning attachment to duty, *
should either have fallen a !rey to disease and !remature death, or have sun# into a
burdensome e&istence. But the a!!ointed tas#s had to be gone through every
morning, and lying to anyone was out of the 3uestion. *t was this last thing that saved
me from many a !itfall.
* have already said that Kasturbai was illiterate. * was very an&ious to teach her, but
lustful love left me no time. 0or one thing the teaching had to be done against her
will, and that too at night. * dared not meet her in the !resence of the elders, much
less tal# to her. Kathiawad had then, and to a certain e&tent has even today, its own
!eculiar, useless and barbarous Purdah. -ircumstances were thus unfavourable. * must
therefore confess that most of my efforts to instruct Kasturbai in our youth were
unsuccessful. 1nd when * awo#e from the slee! of lust, * had already launched forth
into !ublic life, which did not leave me much s!are time. * failed li#ewise to instruct
her through !rivate tutors. 1s a result Kasturbai can now with difficulty write sim!le
letters and understand sim!le Gu,arati. * am sure that, had my love for her been
absolutely untainted with lust, she would be a learned lady todayC for * could than
have con3uered her disli#e for studies. * #now that nothing is im!ossible for !ure love.
* have mentioned one circumstance that more or less saved me from the disasters of
lustful love. There is another worth noting. %umerous e&am!les have convinced me
that God ultimately saves him whose motive is !ure. 1long with the cruel custom of
child marriages, )indu society has another custom which to a certain e&tent
diminishes the evils of the former. Parents do not allow young cou!les to stay long.
The child/wife s!ends more than half her time at her father(s !lace. Such was the
case with us. That is to say, during the first five years of our married life >from the
age of 9D to 9:?, we could not have lived together longer than an aggregate !eriod of
three years. 5e would hardly have s!ent si& months together, when there would be a
call to my wife from her !arents. Such calls were very unwelcome in those days, But
they saved us both. 1t the age of eighteen * went to 6ngland, and this meant a long
and healthy s!ell of se!aration. 6ven after my return from 6ngland we hardly stayed
together longer than si& months. 0or * had to run u! and down between +a,#ot and
Bombay. Then came the call from South 1frica, and that found me already fairly free
from the carnal a!!etite.
AT THE HIGH $CH!!
* have already said that * was learning at the high school when * was married. 5e
three brothers were learning at the same school. The eldest brother was in a much
higher class, and the brother who was married at the same time as * was, only one
class ahead of me. Marriage resulted in both of us wasting a year. *ndeed the result
was oven worse for my brother, for he gave u! studies altogether. )eaven #nows how
many youths are in the same !light as he. nly in our !resent )indu society do studies
and marriage go thus hand in hand.
My studies were continued. * was not regarded as a dunce at the high school. * always
en,oyed the affection of my teachers. -ertificates of !rogress and character used to
be sent to the !arents every year. * never had a bad certificate. *n fact * even won
!ri2es after * !assed out of the second standard. *n the fifth and si&th * obtained
scholarshi!s and ru!ees four and ten res!ectively, an achievement for which * have to
than# good luc# more than my merit. 0or the scholarshi!s were not o!en to all, but
reserved for the best boys amongst those coming from the Sorath "ivision of
Kathiawad. 1nd in those days there could not have been many boys from Sorath in a
class of forty to fifty.
My own recollection is that * had not any high regard for my ability. * used to be
astonished whenever * won !ri2es and scholarshi!s. But * very ,ealously guarded my
character. The least little blemish drew tears from my eyes. 5hen * merited, or
seemed to the teacher to merit, a rebu#e, it was unbearable for me. * remember
having once received cor!oral !unishment. * did not so much mind the !unishment, as
the fact that it was considered my desert. * we!t !iteously. That was when * was in
the first or second standard. There was another such incident during the time when *
was in the seventh standard. "orab,i 6dul,i Gimi was the headmaster then. )e was
!o!ular among boys, as he was a disci!linarian, a man of method and a good teacher.
)e had made gymnastics and cric#et com!ulsory for boys of the u!!er standards. *
disli#ed both. * never too# !art in any e&ercise, cric#et or football, before they were
made com!ulsory. My shyness was one of the reasons for this aloofness, which * now
see was wrong. * then had the false notion that gymnastics had nothing to do with
education. Today * #now that !hysical training should have as much !lace in the
curriculum as mental training.
* may mention, however, that * was none the worse for abstaining from e&ercise. That
was because * had read in boo#s about the benefits of long wal#s in the o!en air, and
having li#ed the advice, * had formed a habit of ta#ing wal#s, which has still remained
with me. These wal#s gave me a fairly hardy constitution.
The reason of my disli#e for gymnastics was my #een desire to serve as nurse to my
father. 1s soon as the school closed, * would hurry home and begin serving him.
-om!ulsory e&ercise came directly in the way of this service. * re3uested Mr. Gimi to
e&em!t me from gymnastics so that * might be free to serve my father. But he would
not listen to me. %ow it so ha!!ened that one Saturday, when we had school in the
morning, * had to go from home to the school for gymnastics at E o(cloc# in the
afternoon. * had no watch, and the clouds deceived me. Before * reached the school
the boys had all left. The ne&t day Mr. Gimi, e&amining the roll, found me mar#ed
absent. Being as#ed the reason for absence, * told him what had ha!!ened. )e
refused to believe me and ordered me to !ay a fine of one or two annas >* cannot now
recall how much?.
* was convicted of lying B That dee!ly !ained me. )ow was * to !rove my innocence@
There was no way. * cried in dee! anguish. * saw that a man of truth must also be a
man of care. This was the first and last instance of my carelessness in school. * have a
faint recollection that * finally succeeded in getting the fine remitted. The e&em!tion
from e&ercise was of course obtained, as my father wrote himself to the headmaster
saying that he wanted me at home after school.
But though * was none the worse for having neglected e&ercise, * am still !aying the
!enalty of another neglect, * do not #now whence * got the notion that good
handwriting was not a necessary !art of education, but * retained it until * went to
6ngland. 5hen later, es!ecially in South 1frica, * saw the beautiful handwriting of
lawyers and young men born and educated in South 1frica, * was ashamed of myself
and re!ented of my neglect. * saw that bad handwriting should be regarded as a sign
of an im!erfect education. * tried later to im!rove mine, but it was too late. * could
never re!air the neglect of my youth. 4et every young man and woman be warned by
my e&am!le, and understand that good handwriting is a necessary !art of education. *
am now of o!inion that children should first be taught the art of drawing before
learning how to write. 4et the child learn his letters by observation as he does
different ob,ects, such as flowers, birds, etc., and let him learn handwriting only
after he has learnt to draw ob,ects. )e will then write a beautifully formed hand.
Two more reminiscences of my school days are worth recording. * had lost one year
because of my marriage, and the teacher wanted me to ma#e good the loss by
s#i!!ing a class a !rivilege usually allowed to industrious boys. * therefore had only si&
months in the third standard and was !rom!ted to he forth after the e&aminations
which are followed by the summer vacation. 6nglish became the medium of
instruction in most sub,ects from the fourth standard. * found myself com!letely at
sea. Geometry was a new sub,ect in which * was not !articularly strong, and the
6nglish medium made it still more difficult for me. The teacher taught the sub,ect
very well, but * could not follow him. ften * would lose heart and thin# of going bac#
to the third standard, feeling that the !ac#ing of two years( studies into a single year
was too ambitious. But this would discredit not only me, but also the teacherC
because, counting on my industry, he had recommended my !romotion. So the fear of
the double discredit #e!t me at my !ost. 5hen however, with much effort * reached
the thirteenth !ro!osition of 6uclid, the utter sim!licity of the sub,ect was suddenly
revealed to me. 1 sub,ect which only re3uired a !ure and sim!le use of one(s
reasoning !owers could not be difficult. 6ver since that time geometry has been both
easy and interesting for me.
Sams#rit, however, !roved a harder tas#. *n geometry there was nothing to memori2e,
whereas in Sams#rit, * thought, everything had to be learnt by heart. This sub,ect also
was commenced from the fourth standard. 1s soon as * entered the si&th * became
disheartened. The teacher was a hard tas#master, an&ious, as * thought, to force the
boys. There was a sort of rivalry going on between the Sams#rit and the Persian
teachers. The Persian teacher was lenient. The boys used to tal# among themselves
that Persian was very easy and the Persian teacher very good and considerate to the
students. The (easiness( tem!ted me and one day * sat in the Persian class. The
Sams#rit teacher was grieved. )e called me to his side and said' ()ow can you forget
that you are the son of a .aishnava father@ 5on(t you learn the language of your own
religion@ *f you have any difficulty, why not come to me@ * want to teach you students
Sams#rit to the best of my ability. 1s you !roceed further, you will find in it things of
absorbing interest. =ou should not lose heart. -ome and sit again in the Sams#rit
class.(
This #indness !ut me to shame. * could not disregard my teacher(s affection. Today *
cannot but thin# with gratitude of Krishnashan#ar Pandya. 0or if * had not ac3uired
the little Sams#rit that * had learnt then, * should have found it difficult to ta#e any
interest in our sacred boo#s. *n fact * dee!ly regret that * was not able to ac3uire a
more thorough #nowledge of the language, because * have since reali2ed that every
)indu boy and girl should !ossess sound Sams#rit learning.
*t is now my o!inion that in all *ndian curricula of higher education there should be a
!lace for )indi, Sams#rit, Persian, 1rabic and 6nglish, besides of course the
vernacular. This big list need not frighten anyone. *f our education were more
systematic, and the boys free from the burden of having to learn their sub,ects
through a foreign medium, * am sure learning all these languages would not be an
ir#some tas#. but a !erfect !leasure. 1 scientific #nowledge of one language ma#es a
#nowledge of other languages com!aratively easy.
*n reality, )indi, Gu,arati and Sams#rit may be regarded as one language, and Persian
and 1rabic also as one. Though Persian belongs to the 1ryan, and 1rabic to the Semitic
family of languages, there is a close relationshi! between Persian and 1rabic, because
both claim their full growth through the rise of *slam. Urdu * have not regarded as a
distinct language, because it has ado!ted the )indi grammar and its vocabulary is
mainly Persian and 1rabic, and he who would learn good Urdu must learn Persian and
1rabic, as one who would learn good Gu,arati, )indi, Bengali, or Marathi must learn
Sams#rit.
A TRAGED"
1mongst my few friends at the high school * had, at different times, two who might
be called intimate. ne of these friendshi!s did not last long, though * never forsoo#
my friend. )e forsoo# me, because * made friends with the other. This latter
friendshi! * regard as a tragedy in my life. *t lasted long. * formed it in s!irit of a
reformer.
This com!anion was originally my elder brother(s friend. They were classmates. * #new
his wea#nesses, but * regarded him as a faithful friend. My mother, my eldest brother,
and my wife warned me that * was in bad com!any. * was too !roud to heed my wife(s
warning. But * dared not go against the o!inion of my mother and my eldest brother.
%evertheless * !leaded with them saying, (* #now he has the wea#nesses you attribute
to him, but you do not #now his virtues. )e cannot lead me astray, as my association
with him is meant to reform him. 0or * am sure that if he reforms his ways, he will be
a s!lendid man. * beg you not to be an&ious on my account.(
* do not thin# this satisfied them, but they acce!ted my e&!lanation and let me go my
way.
* have seen since that * had calculated wrongly. 1 reformer cannot afford to have
close intimacy with him whom he see#s to reform. True friendshi! is an identity of
souls rarely to be found in this world. nly between li#e natures can friendshi! be
altogether worthy and enduring. 0riends react on one another. )ence in friendshi!
there is very little sco!e for reform. * am of o!inion that all e&clusive intimacies are
to be avoidedC for man ta#es in vice far more readily than virtue. 1nd he who would
be friends with God must remain alone, or ma#e the whole world his friend. * may be
wrong, but my effort to cultivate an intimate friendshi! !roved a failure.
1 wave of (reform( was swee!ing over +a,#ot at the time when * first came across this
friend. )e informed me that many of our teachers were secretly ta#ing meat and
wine. )e also named many well/#nown !eo!le of +a,#ot as belonging to the same
com!any. There were also, * was told, some high/school boys among them.
* was sur!rised and !ained. * as#ed my friend the reason and he e&!lained it thus' (5e
are a wea# !eo!le because we do not eat meat. The 6nglish are able to rule over us,
because they are meat/eaters. =ou #now how hardy * am, and how great a runner too.
*t is because * am a meat/eater. Meat/eaters do not have boils or tumours, and even if
they sometimes ha!!en to have any, these heal 3uic#ly. ur teachers and other
distinguished !eo!le who eat meat are no fools. They #now its virtues. =ou should do
li#ewise. There is nothing li#e trying. Try, and see what strength it gives.(
1ll these !leas on behalf of meat/eating were not advanced at a single sitting. They
re!resent the substance of a long and elaborate argument which my friend was trying
to im!ress u!on me from time to time. My elder brother had already fallen. )e
therefore su!!orted my friend(s argument. * certainly loo#ed feeble/bodied by the
side of my brother and this friend. They were both hardier, !hysically stronger, and
more daring. This friend(s e&!loits cast a s!ell over me. )e could run long distances
and e&traordinarily fast. )e was an ade!t in high and long ,um!ing. )e could !ut u!
with any amount of cor!oral !unishment. )e would often dis!lay his e&!loits to me
and, as one is always da22led when he sees in others the 3ualities that he lac#s
himself, * was da22led by this friend(s e&!loits. This was followed by a strong desire to
be li#e him. * could hardly ,um! or run. 5hy should not * also be as strong as he@
Moreover, * was a coward. * used to be haunted by the fear of thieves, ghosts, and
ser!ents. * did not dare to stir out of doors at night. "ar#ness was a terror to me. *t
was almost im!ossible for me to slee! in the dar#, as * would imagine ghosts coming
from one direction, thieves from another and ser!ents from a third. * could not
therefore bear to slee! without a light in the room. )ow could * disclose my fears to
my wife, no child, but already at the threshold of youth, slee!ing by my side@ * #new
that she had more courage than *, and * felt ashamed of myself. She #new no fear of
ser!ents and ghosts. She could go out anywhere in the dar#. My friend #new all these
wea#nesses of mine. )e would tell me that he could hold in his hand live ser!ents,
could defy thieves and did not believe in ghosts. 1nd all this was, of course, the result
of eating meat.
1 doggerel of the Gu,arati !oet %armad was in vogue amongst us schoolboys, as
follows' Behold the mighty 6nglishman )e rules the *ndian small, Because being a
meat/eater )e is five cubits tall.
1ll this had its due effect on me. * was beaten. *t began to grow on me that meat/
eating was good, that it would ma#e me strong and daring, and that, if the whole
county too# to meat/eating, the 6nglish could be overcome.
1 day was thereu!on fi&ed for beginning the e&!eriment. *t had to be conducted in
secret. The Gandhis were .aishnavas. My !arents were !articularly staunch
.aishnavas. They would regularly visit the Haveli. The family had even its own
tem!les. $ainism was strong in Gu,arat, and its influence was felt everywhere and on
all occasions. The o!!osition to and abhorrence of meat/eating that e&isted in Gu,arat
among the $ains and .aishnavas were to be seen nowhere else in *ndia or outside in
such strength. These were the traditions in which * was born and bred. 1nd * was
e&tremely devoted to my !arents. * #new that the moment they came to #now of my
having eaten meat, they would be shoc#ed to death. Moreover, my love of truth made
me e&tra cautious. * cannot say that * did not #now then that * should have to deceive
my !arents if * began eating meat. But my mind was bent on the (reform(. *t was not a
3uestion of !leasing the !alate. * did not #now that it had a !articularly good relish. *
wished to be strong and daring and wanted my countrymen also to be such, so that we
might defeat the 6nglish and ma#e *ndia free. The word (Swara,( * had not yet heard.
But * #new what freedom meant. The fren2y of the (reform( blinded me. 1nd having
ensured secrecy, * !ersuaded myself that mere hiding the deed from !arents was no
de!arture from truth.
So the day came. *t is difficult fully to describe my condition. There were, on the one
hand, the 2eal for (reform(, and the novelty of ma#ing a momentous de!arture in life.
There was, on the other, the shame of hiding li#e a thief to do this very thing. *
cannot say which of the two swayed me more. 5e went in search of a lonely s!ot by
the river, and there * saw, for the first time in my life / meat. There was ba#er(s bread
also. * relished neither. The goat(s meat was as tough as leather. * sim!ly could not eat
it. * was sic# and had to leave off eating.
* had a very bad night afterwards. 1 horrible night/mare haunted me. 6very time *
dro!!ed off to slee! it would seem as though a live goat were bleating inside me, and
* would ,um! u! full of remorse. But then * would remind myself that meat/eating was
a duty and so become more cheerful.
My friend was not a man to give in easily. )e now began to coo# various delicacies
with meat, and dress them neatly. 1nd for dining, no longer was the secluded s!ot on
the river chosen, but a State house, with its dining hall, and tables and chairs, about
which my friend had made arrangements in collusion with the chief coo# there.
This bait had its effect. * got over my disli#e for bread, forswore my com!assion for
the goats, and became a relisher of meat/dishes, if not of meat itself. This went on
for about a year. But not more than half a do2en meat/feasts were en,oyed in allC
because the State house was not available every day, and there was the obvious
difficulty about fre3uently !re!aring e&!ensive savoury meat/dishes. * had no money
to !ay for this (reform(. My friend had therefore always to find the wherewithal. * had
no #nowledge where he found it. But find it he did, because he was bent on turning
me into a meat/eater. But even his means must have been limited, and hence these
feasts had necessarily to be few and far between.
5henever * had occasion to indulge in these surre!titious feasts, dinner at home was
out of the 3uestion. My mother would naturally as# me to come and ta#e my food and
want to #now the reason why * did not wish to eat. * would say to her, (* have no
a!!etite todayC there is something wrong with my digestion.( *t was not without
com!unction that * devised these !rete&ts. * #new * was lying, and lying to my mother.
* also #new that, if my mother and father came to #now of my having become a meat/
eater, they would be dee!ly shoc#ed. This #nowledge was gnawing at my heart.
Therefore * said to myself' (Though it is essential to eat meat, and also essential to
ta#e u! food (reform( in the country, yet deceiving and lying to one(s father and
mother is worse than not eating meat. *n their lifetime, therefore, meat/eating must
be out of the 3uestion. 5hen they are no more and * have found my freedom, * will
eat meat o!enly, but until that moment arrives * will abstain from it.(
This decision * communicated to my friend, and * have never since gone bac# to meat.
My !arents never #new that two of their sons had become meat/eaters.
* ab,ured meat out of the !urity of my desire not to lie to my !arents, but * did not
ab,ure the com!any of my friend. My 2eal for reforming him had !roved disastrous for
me, and all the time * was com!letely unconscious of the fact.
The same com!any would have led me into faithlessness to my wife. But * was saved
by the s#in of my teeth. My friend once too# me to a brothel. )e sent me in with the
necessary instructions. *t was all !rearranged. The bill had already been !aid. * went
into the ,aws of sin, but God in )is infinite mercy !rotected me against myself. * was
almost struc# blind and dumb in this den of vice. * sat near the woman on her bed,
but * was tongue/tied. She naturally lost !atience with me, and showed me the door,
with abuses and insults. * then felt as though my manhood had been in,ured, and
wished to sin# into the ground for shame. But * have ever since given than#s to God
for having saved me. * can recall four more similar incidents in my life, and in most of
them my good fortune, rather than any effort on my !art, saved me. 0rom a strictly
ethical !oint of view, all these occasions must be regarded as moral la!sesC for the
carnal desire was there, and it was as good as the act. But from the ordinary !oint of
view, a man who is saved from !hysically committing sin is regarded as saved. 1nd *
was saved only in that sense. There are some actions from which an esca!e is a
godsend both for the man who esca!es and for those about him. Man, as soon as he
gets bac# his consciousness of right, is than#ful to the "ivine mercy for the esca!e. 1s
we #now that a man often succumbs to tem!tation, however much he say resist it, we
also #now that Providence often intercedes and saves him in s!ite of himself. )ow all
this ha!!ens,/ how far a man is free and how far a creature of carcumstances,/ how
far free/will comes into !lay and where fate enters on the scene, all this is a mystery
and will remain a mystery.
But to go on with the story. 6ven this was far from o!ening my eyes to the viciousness
of my friend(s com!any. * therefore had many more bitter draughts in store for me,
until my eyes were actually o!ened by an ocular demonstration of some of his la!ses
3uite une&!ected by me. But of them later, as we are !roceeding chronologically.
ne thing, however, * must mention now, as it !ertains to the same !eriod. ne of the
reasons of my differences with my wife was undoubtedly the com!any of this friend. *
was both a devoted and a ,ealous husband, and this friend fanned the flame of my
sus!icions about my wife. * never could doubt his veracity. 1nd * have never forgiven
myself the violence of which * have been guilty in often having !ained my wife by
acting on his information. Perha!s only a )indu wife would tolerate these hardshi!s,
and that is why * have regarded woman as an incarnation of tolerance. 1 servant
wrongly sus!ected may throw u! his ,ob, a son in the same case may leave his father(s
roof, and a friend may !ut an end to the friendshi!. The wife, if she sus!ects her
husband, will #ee! 3uiet, but if the husband sus!ects her, she is ruined. 5here is she
to go@ 1 )indu wife may not see# divorce in a law/court. 4aw has no remedy for her.
1nd * can never forget or forgive myself for a having driven my wife to that
des!eration.
The can#er of sus!icion was rooted out only when * understood Ahimsa in all its
bearings. * saw then the glory of Brahmacharya and reali2ed that the wife is not the
husband(s bondslave, but his com!anion and his hel!/mate, and an e3ual !artner in all
his ,oy and sorrows / as free as the husband to choose her own !ath. 5henever * thin#
of those dar# days of doubts and sus!icions. * am filled with loathing of my folly and
my lustful cruelty, and * de!lore my blind devotion to my friend.
$TEAING AND AT!NEMENT
* have still to relate some of my failings during this meat/eating !eriod and also
!revious to it, which date from before my marriage or soon after.
1 relative and * became fond of smo#ing. %ot that we saw any good in smo#ing, or
were enamoured of the smell of a cigarette. 5e sim!ly imagined a sort of !leasure in
emitting clouds of smo#e from our mouths. My uncle had the habit, and when we saw
him smo#ing, we thought we should co!y his e&am!le. But we had no money. So we
began !ilfering stum!s of cigarettes thrown away by my uncle.
The stum!s, however, were not always available, and could not emit much smo#e
either. So we began to steal co!!ers from the servant(s !oc#et money in order to
!urchase *ndian cigarettes. But the 3uestion was where to #ee! them. 5e could not
of course smo#e in the !resence of elders. 5e managed somehow for a few wee#s on
these stolen co!!ers. *n the meantime we heard that the stal#s of a certain !lant
were !orous and could be smo#ed li#e cigarettes. 5e got them and began this #ind of
smo#ing.
But we were far from being satisfied with such things as these. ur want of
inde!endence began to smart, *t was unbearable that we should be unable to do
anything without the elders( !ermission. 1t last, in sheer disgust, we decided to
commit suicideB
But how were we to do it@ 0rom where were we to get the !oison@ 5e heard that
Dhatura seeds were an effective !oison. ff we went to the ,ungle in search of these
seeds, and got them. 6vening was thought to be the aus!icious hour. 5e went to
Kedarji Mandir , !ut ghee in the tem!le/lam!, had the Darshan and then loo#ed for a
lonely corner. But our courage failed us. Su!!osing we were not instantly #illed@ 1nd
what was the good of #illing ourselves@ 5hy not rather !ut u! with the lac# of
inde!endence@ But we swallowed two or three seeds nevertheless. 5e dared not ta#e
more. Both of us fought shy of death, and decided to go to Ramji Mandir to com!ose
ourselves, and to dismiss the thought of suicide.
* reali2ed that it was not as easy to commit suicide as to contem!late it. 1nd since
then, whenever * have heard of someone threatening to commit suicide, it has had
little or on effect on me.
The thought of suicide ultimately resulted in both of us bidding good/ bye to the habit
of smo#ing stum!s of cigarettes and of stealing the servant(s co!!ers for the !ur!ose
of smo#ing.
6ver since * have been grown u!, * have never desired to smo#e and have always
regarded the habit of smo#ing as barbarous, dirty and harmful. * have never
understood why there is such a rage for smo#ing throughout the world. * cannot bear
to travel in a com!artment full of !eo!le smo#ing. * become cho#ed.
But much more serious than this theft was the one * was guilty of a little later. *
!ilfered the co!!ers when * was twelve or thirteen, !ossibly less. The other theft was
committed when * was fifteen. *n this case * stole a bit of gold out of my meat/eating
brother(s armlet. This brother had run into a debt of about twenty/five ru!ees. )e had
on his arm an armlet of solid gold. *t was not difficult to cli! a bit out of it.
5ell, it was done, and the debt cleared. But this became more than * could bear. *
resolved never to steal again. * also made u! my mind to confess it to my father. But *
did not dare to s!ea#. %ot that * was afraid of my father beating me. %o * do not
recall his ever having beaten any of us. * was afraid of the !ain that * should cause
him. But * felt that the ris# should be ta#enC that there could not be a cleaning
without a clean confession.
* decided at last to write out the confession, to submit it to my father, and as# his
forgiveness. * wrote it on a sli! of !a!er and handed it to him myself. *n this note not
only did * confess my guilt, but * as#ed ade3uate !unishment for it, and closed with a
re3uest to him not to !unish himself for my offence. * also !ledged myself never to
steal in future.
* was trembling as * handed the confession to my father. )e was then suffering from a
fistula and was confined to bed. )is bed was a !lain wooden !lan#. * handed him the
note and sat o!!osite the !lan#.
)e read it through, and !earl/dro!s tric#led down his chee#s, wetting the !a!er. 0or a
moment he closed his eyes in thought and then tore u! the note. )e had sat u! to
read it. )e again lay down. * also cried. * could see my father(s agony. *f * were a
!ainter * could draw a !icture of the whole scene today. *t is still so vivid in my mind.
Those !earl/dro!s of love cleansed my heart, and washed my sin away. nly he who
has e&!erienced such love can #now what it is. 1s the hymn says' (nly he 5ho is
smitten with the arrows of love. Knows its !ower.(
This was, for me, an ob,ect/lesson in Ahimsa. Then * could read in it nothing more
than a father(s love, but today * #now that it was !ure Ahimsa. 5hen such Ahimsa
becomes all/embracing it transforms everything it touches. There is no limit to its
!ower.
This sort of sublime forgiveness was not natural to my father. * had thought that he
would be angry, say hard things, and stri#e his forehead. But he was so wonderfully
!eaceful, and * believe this was due to my clean confession. 1 clean confession,
combined with a !romise never to commit the sin again, when offered before one
who has the right to receive it, is the !urest ty!e of re!entance. * #now that my
confession made my father feel absolutely safe about me, and increased his affection
for me beyond measure.
M" %ATHER&$ DEATH AND M" D!#BE $HAME
The time of which * am now s!ea#ing is my si&teenth year. My father, as we have
seen, was bed/ridden, suffering from a fistula. My mother, an old servant of the
house, and * were his !rinci!al attendants. * had the duties of a nurse, which mainly
consisted in dressing the wound. giving my father his medicine, and com!ounding
drugs whenever they had to be made u! at home, 6very night * massaged his legs and
retired only when he as#ed me to do so or after he had fallen aslee!. * loved to do
this service. * do not remember ever having neglected it. 1ll the time at my dis!osal,
after the !erformance of the daily duties, was divided between school and attending
on my father. * would only go out for an evening wal# either when he !ermitted me or
when he was feeling well.
This was also the time when my wife was e&!ecting a baby,/ a circumstance which, as
* can see today, meant a double shame for me. 0or one thing * did not restrain myself,
as * should have done, whilst * was yet a student. 1nd secondly, this carnal lust got the
better of what * regarded as my duty to my !arents, Shravana having been my ideal
since childhood. 6very night whilst my hands were busy massaging my father(s legs,
my mind was hovering about the bed/room,/ and that too at a time when religion,
medical science and commonsense ali#e forbade se&ual intercourse. * was always glad
to be relieved from my duty, and went straight to the bed/room after doing obeisance
to my father.
1t the same time my father was getting worse every day. 1yurvedic !hysicians had
tied all their ointments, )a#ims their !lasters, and local 3uac#s their nostrums. 1n
6nglish surgeon had also used his s#ill. 1s the last and only resort he had
recommended a surgical o!eration. But the family !hysician came in the way. )e
disa!!roved of an o!eration being !erformed at such an advanced age. The !hysician
was com!etent and well/#nown, and his advice !revailed. The o!eration was
abandoned, and various medicines !urchased for the !ur!ose were of no account. *
have an im!ression that, if the !hysician had allowed the o!eration, the wound would
have been easily healed. The o!eration also was to have been !erformed by a surgeon
who was then well #nown in Bombay. But God had willed otherwise. 5hen death is
imminent, who can thin# of the right remedy@ My father returned from Bombay with
all the !ara!hernalia of the o!eration, which were now useless. )e des!aired of living
any longer, )e was getting wea#er and wea#er, until at last he had to be as#ed to
!erform the necessary functions in bed. But u! to the last he refused to do anything
of the #ind, always insisting on going through the strain of leaving his bed. The
.aishnavite rules about e&ternal cleanliness are so ine&orable.
Such cleanliness is 3uite essential no doubt, but 5estern medical science had taught
us that all the functions, including a bath, can be done in bed with the strictest
regard to cleanliness, and without the slightest discomfort to the !atient, the bed
always remaining s!otlessly clean. * should regard such cleanliness as 3uite consistent
with .aishnavism. But my father(s insistence on leaving the bed only struc# me with
wonder then, and * had nothing but admiration for it.
The dreadful night came. My uncle was then in +a,#ot. * have a faint recollection that
he came to +a,#ot having had news that my father was getting worse. The brothers
were dee!ly attached to each other. My uncle would sit near my father(s bed the
whole day, and would insist on slee!ing by his bed/side after sending us all to slee!.
%o one had dreamt that this was to be the fateful night. The danger of course was
there.
*t was 9A/DA or 99 !.m. * was giving the massage. My uncle offered to relieve me. *
was glad and went straight to the bed/room. My wife, !oor thing, was fast aslee!. But
how could she slee! when * was there@ * wo#e her u!. *n five or si& minutes. however,
the servant #noc#ed at the door. * started with alarm. (Get u!,( he said, (0ather is very
ill.( * #new of course that he was very ill, and so * guessed what (very ill( meant at that
moment. * s!rang out of bed. (5hat is the matter@ "o tell meB( (0ather is no more.( So
all was overB * had but to wring my hands. * felt dee!ly ashamed and miserable. * ran
to my father(s room. * saw that, if animal !assion had not blinded me. * should have
been s!ared the torture of se!aration from my father during his last moments. *
should have been massaging him, and he would have died in my arms. But now it was
my uncle who had this !rivilege. )e was so dee!ly devoted to his elder brother that
he had earned the honour of doing him the last servicesB My father had forebodings of
the coming event. )e had made a sign for !en and !a!er, and written' (Pre!are for
the last rites.( )e had then sna!!ed the amulet off his arm and also his gold nec#lace
of tulasi beads and flung them aside. 1 moment after this he was no more.
The shame, to which * have refered in a foregoing cha!ter, was this of my carnal
desire even at the critical hour of my father(s death, which demanded wa#eful
service. *t is a blot * have never been able to efface or forget, and * have always
thought that, although my devotion to my !arents #new no bounds and * would have
given u! anything for it, yet * was weighed and found un!ardonably wanting because
my mind was at the same moment in the gri! of lust. * have therefore always
regarded myself as a lustful. though a faithful, husband. *t too# me long to get free
from the shac#les of lust, and * had to !ass through many ordeals before * could
overcome it.
Before * close this cha!ter of my double shame. * may mention that the !oor mite
that was born to my wife scarcely breathed for more than three or four days. %othing
else could be e&!ected. 4et all those who are married be warned by my e&am!le.
GIMP$E$ !% REIGI!N
0rom my si&th or seventh year u! to my si&teenth * was at school, being taught all
sorts of things e&ce!t religion. * may say that * failed to get from the teachers what
they could have given me without any effort on their !art. 1nd yet * #e!t on !ic#ing
u! things here and there from my surroundings. The term (religion( * am using in its
broadest sense, meaning thereby self/reali2ation or #nowledge of self.
Being born in the .aishnava faith, * has often to go to the Haveli. But it never
a!!ealed to me. * did not li#e its glitter and !om!. 1lso * heard rumours of immorality
being !ractised there, and lost all interest in it. )ence * could gain nothing from the
Haveli.
But what * failed to get there * obtained from my nurse, an old servant of the family,
whose affection for me * still recall. * have said before that there was in me a fear of
ghosts and s!irits. +ambha, for that was her name, suggested, as a remedy for this
fear, the re!etition of Ramanama. * had more faith in her than in her remedy, and so
at a tender age * began re!eating Ramanama to cure my fear of ghosts and s!irits.
This was of course short/lived, but the good seed sown in childhood was not sown in
vain. * thin# it is due to the seed by that good woman +ambha that today Ramanama
is an infallible remedy for me.
$ust about this time, a cousin of mine who was a devotee of the Ramayana arranged
for my second brother and me to learn Ram Raksha. 5e got it by heart, and made it a
rule to recite it every morning after the bath. The !ractice was #e!t u! as long as we
were in Porbandar. 1s soon as we reached +a,#ot, it was forgotten. 0or * had not much
belief in it. * recited it !artly because of my !ride in being able to recite Ram Raksha
with correct !ronunciation.
5hat, however, left a dee! im!ression on me was the reading of the Ramayana before
my father. "uring !art of his illness my father was in Porbandar. There every evening
he used to listen to the Ramayana. The reader was a great devotee of +ama,/ 4adha
Mahara, of Bileshvar. *t was said of him that he cured himself of his le!rosy not by any
medicine, but by a!!lying to the affected !arts bilva leaves which had been cast
away after being offered to the image of Mahadeva in Bileshvar tem!le, and by the
regular re!etition of Ramanama. )is faith it, it was said, had made him whole. This
may or may not be true. 5e at any rate believed the story. 1nd it is a fact that when
4adha Mahara, began his reading of the Ramayana his body was entirely free from
le!rosy. )e had a melodious voice. )e would sing the Dhas >cou!lets? and Chpais
>3uatrains?, and e&!lain them, losing himself in the discourse and carrying his
listeners along with him. * must have been thirteen at that time, but * 3uite
remember being enra!tured by his reading. That laid the foundation of my dee!
devotion to the Ramayana. Today * regard the Ramayana of Tulasidas as the greatest
boo# in all devotional literature.
1 few months after this we came to +a,#ot. There was no Ramayana reading there.
The Bha!avat, however, used to be read on every "kadashi day. Sometimes * attended
the reading, but the reciter was unins!iring. Today * see that the Bha!avat is a boo#
which can evo#e religious fervour. * have read it in Gu,arati with intense interest. But
when * heard !ortions of the original read by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya during my
twentyone day(s fast, * wished * had heard it in my childhood from such a devote as he
is, so that * could have formed a li#ing for it at an early age. *m!ressions formed at
that age stri#e roots dee! down into one(s nature and it is my !er!etual regret that *
was not fortunate enough to hear more good boo#s of this #ind read during that
!eriod.
*n +a,#ot, however, * got an early grounding in toleration for all branches of )induism
and sister religions. 0or my father and mother would visit the Haveli as also Shiva(s
and +ama(s tem!les, and would ta#e or send us youngsters there. $ain mon#s also
would !ay fre3uent visits to my father, and would even go out of their way to acce!t
food from us non/$ains. They would have tal#s with my father on sub,ects religious
and mundane.
)e had, besides, Musalman and Parsi friends, who would tal# to him about their own
faiths, and he would listen to them always with res!ect, and often with interest.
Being his nurse, * often had a chance to be !resent at these tal#s. These many things
combined to inculcate in me a toleration for all faiths.
nly -hristianity was at the time an e&ce!tion. * develo!ed a sort of disli#e for it. 1nd
for a reason. *n those days -hristian missionaries used to stand in a corner near the
high school and hold forth, !ouring abuse on )indus and their gods. * could not endure
this. * must have stood there to hear them once only, but that was enough to dissuade
me from re!eating the e&!eriment. 1bout the same time, * heard of a well #nown
)indu having been converted to -hristianity. *t was the tal# of the town that, when he
was ba!ti2ed, he had to eat beef and drin# li3uor, that he also had to change his
clothes, and that thenceforth he began to go about in 6uro!ean costume including a
hat. These things got on my nerves. Surely, thought *, a religion that com!elled one to
eat beef, drin# li3uor, and change one(s own clothes did not deserve the name. * also
heard that the new convert had already begun abusing the religion of his ancestors,
their customs and their country. 1ll these things created in me a disli#e for
-hristianity.
But the fact that * had learnt to be tolerant to other religions did not mean that * had
any living faith in God. * ha!!ened, about this time, to come across Manusmriti which
was amongst my father(s collection. The story of the creation and similar things in it
did not im!ress me very much, but on the contrary made me incline somewhat
towards atheism.
There was a cousin of mine, still alive, for whose intellect * had great regard. To him *
turned with my doubts. But he could not resolve them. )e sent me away with this
answer' (5hen you grow u!, you will be able to solve these doubts yourself. These
3uestions ought not to be raised at your age.( * was silenced, but was not comforted.
-ha!ters about diet and the li#e in Manusmriti seemed to me to run contrary to daily
!ractice. To my doubts as to this also, * got the same answer.(5ith intellect more
develo!ed and with more reading * shall understand it better,( * said to myself.
Manusmriti at any rate did not then teach me ahimsa. * have told the story of my
meat/eating. Manusmriti seemed to su!!ort it. * also felt that it was 3uite moral to
#ill ser!ents, bugs and the li#e. * remember to have #illed at that age bugs and such
other insects, regarding it as a duty.
But one thing too# dee! root in me the conviction that morality is the basis of things,
and that truth is the substance of all morality. Truth became my sole ob,ective. *t
began to grow in magnitude every day, and my definition of it also has been ever
widening. 1 Gu,arati didactic stan2a li#ewise gri!!ed my mind and heart. *ts Prece!t/
return good for evil/became my guiding !rinci!le. *t became such a !assion with me
that * began numerous e&!eriments in it. )ere are those >for me? wonderful lines' 0or
a bowl of water give a goodly meal' 0or a #indly greeting bow thou down with 2eal'
0or a sim!le !enny !ay thou bac# with gold' *f thy life be rescued, life do not
withhold. Thus the words and actions of the wise regardC 6very little service tenfold
they reward. But the truly noble #now all men as one, 1nd return with gladness good
for evil done.
PREPARATI!N %!R ENGAND
* !assed the matriculation e&amination in 9::F. *t then used to be held at two
centres, 1hmedabad and Bombay. The general !overty of the country naturally led
Kathiawad students to !refer the nearer and the chea!er centre. The !overty of my
family li#ewise dictated to me the same choice. This was my first ,ourney from +a,#ot
to 1hmedabad and that too without a com!anion.
My elders wanted me to !ursue my studies at college after the matriculation. There
was a college in Bhavnagar as well as in Bombay, and as the former was chea!er, *
decided to go there and ,oin the Samaldas -ollege. * went, but found myself entirely
at sea. 6verything was difficult. * could not follow, let alone ta#ing interest in, the
!rofessors( lectures. *t was no fault of theirs. The !rofessors in that -ollege were
regarded as first/rate. But * was so raw. 1t the end of the first term, * returned home.
5e had in Mav,i "ave, who was a shrewd and learned Brahman an old friend and
adviser of the family. )e had #e!t u! his connection with the family even after my
father(s death. )e ha!!ened to visit us during my vacation. *n conversation with my
mother and elder brother, he in3uired about my studies. 4earning that * was at
Samaldas -ollege, he said' (The times are changed. 1nd none of you can e&!ect to
succeed to your father(s !adi without having a !ro!er education. %ow as this boy is
still !ursuing his studies, you should all loo# to him to #ee! the !adi. *t will ta#e him
four or five years to get his B.1. degree, which will at best 3ualify him for a si&ty
ru!ees( !ost, not for a "iwanshi!. *f li#e my son he went in for law, it would ta#e him
still longer, by which time there would be a host of lawyers as!iring for a "iwan(s
!ost. * would far rather that you sent him to 6ngland. My son Kevalram says it is very
easy to become a barrister. *n three years( time he will return. 1lso e&!enses will not
e&ceed four to five thousand ru!ees. Thin# of that barrister who has ,ust come bac#
from 6ngland. )ow stylishly he livesB )e could get the "iwanshi! for the as#ing. *
would strongly advise you to send Mohandas to 6ngland this very year. Kevalram has
numerous friends in 6ngland. )e will give notes of introduction to them, and
Mohandas will have an easy time of it there.(
$oshi,i that is how we used to call old Mav,i "ave turned to me with com!lete
assurance, and as#ed' (5ould you not rather go to 6ngland than study here@( %othing
could have been more welcome to me. * was fighting shy of my difficult studies. So *
,um!ed at the !ro!osal and said that the sooner * was sent the better. *t was no easy
business to !ass e&aminations 3uic#ly. -ould * not be sent to 3ualify for the medical
!rofession@
My brother interru!ted me' (0ather never li#ed it. )e had you in mind when he said
that we .aishnavas should have nothing to do with dissection of dead bodies. 0ather
intended you for the bar.(
$oshi,i chimed in ' (* am not o!!osed to the medical !rofession as was Gandhi,i. ur
Shastras are not against it. But a medical degree will not ma#e a "iwan of you, and *
want you to be "iwan, or if !ossible something better. nly in that way could you
ta#e under your !rotecting care your large family. The times are fast changing and
getting harder every day. *t is the wisest thing therefore to become a barrister.(
Turning to my mother he said ' (%ow, * must leave. Pray !onder over what * have said.
5hen * come here ne&t * shall e&!ect to hear of !re!arations for 6ngland. Be sure to
let me #now if * can assist in any way.(
$oshi,i went away, and * began building castles in the air.
My elder brother was greatly e&ercised in his mind. )ow was he to find the
wherewithal to send me@ 1nd was it !ro!er to trust a young man li#e me to go abroad
alone@
My mother was sorely !er!le&ed. She did not li#e the idea of !arting with me. This is
how she tried to !ut me off' (Uncle,( she said, (is now the eldest member of the family.
)e should first be consulted. *f he consents we will consider the matter.(
My brother had another idea. )e said to me' (5e have a certain claim on the
Porbandar State. Mr. 4ely is the 1dministrator. )e thin#s highly of our family and uncle
is in his good boo#s. *t is ,ust !ossible that he might recommend you for some State
hel! for your education in 6ngland.(
* li#ed all this and got ready to start off for Porbandar. There was no railway in those
days. *t was a five days( bulloc#/cart ,ourney. * have already said that * was a coward.
But at that moment my cowardice vanished before the desire to go to 6ngland, which
com!letely !ossessed me. * hired a bulloc#/cart as far as "hora,i, and from "hora,i *
too# a camel in order to get to Porbandar a day 3uic#er. This was my first camel/ride.
* arrived at last, did obeisance to my uncle, and told him everything. )e thought it
over and said ' (* am not sure whether it is !ossible for one to stay in 6ngland without
!re,udice to one(s own religion. 0rom all * have heard, * have my doubts. 5hen * meet
these big barristers, * see no difference between their life and that of 6uro!eans.
They #now no scru!les regarding food. -igars are never out of their mouths. They
dress as shamelessly as 6nglishmen. 1ll that would not be in #ee!ing with our family
tradition. * am shortly going on a !ilgrimage and have not many years to live. 1t the
threshold of death, how dare * give you !ermission to go to 6ngland, to cross the seas@
But * will not stand in your way. *t is your mother(s !ermission which really matters. *f
she !ermits you, then gods!eedB Tell her * will not interfere. =ou will go with my
blessings.(
(* could e&!ect nothing more from you,( said *. (* shall now try to win mother over. But
would you not recommend me to Mr. 4ely@(
()ow can * do that@( said he. (But he is a good man. =ou as# for an a!!ointment telling
him how you are connected. )e will certainly give you one and may even hel! you.(
* cannot say why my uncle did not give me a note of recommendation. * have a faint
idea that he hesitated to co/o!erate directly in my going to 6ngland, which was in his
o!inion an irreligious act.
* wrote to Mr 4ely, who as#ed me to see him at his residence. )e saw me as he was
ascending the staircaseCand saying curtly, (Pass your B.1. fist and then see me. %o
hel! can be given you now(, he hurried u!stairs. * had made elaborate !re!arations to
meet him. * had carefully learnt u! a few sentences and had bowed low and saluted
him with both hands. But all to no !ur!oseB
* thought of my wife(s ornaments. * thought of my elder brother, in whom * had the
utmost faith. )e was generous to a fault, and he loved me as his son.
* returned to +a,#ot from Porbandar and re!orted all that had ha!!ened. * consulted
$oshi,i, who of course advised even incurring a debt if necessary. * suggested the
dis!osal of my wife(s ornaments, which could fetch about two or three thousand
ru!ees. My brother !romised to find the money somehow.
My mother, however, was still unwilling. She had begun ma#ing minute in3uiries.
Someone had told her that young men got lost in 6ngland. Someone else had said that
they too# to meatC and yet another that they could not live there without li3uor. ()ow
about all this@( she as#ed me. * said' (5ill you not trust me@ * shall not lie to you. *
swear that * shall not touch any of those things. *f there were any such danger, would
$oshi,i let me go@(
(* can trust you,( she said.(But how can * trust you in a distant land@ * am da2ed and
#now not what to do. * will as# Bechar,i Swami.(
Bechar,i Swami was originally a Modh Bania, but had now become a $ain mon#. )e too
was a family adviser li#e $oshi,i. )e came to my hel!, and said' (* shall get the boy
solemnly to ta#e the three vows, and then he can be allowed to go.( )e administered
the oath and * vowed not to touch wine, woman and meat. This done, my mother gave
her !ermission.
The high school had a send/off in my honour. *t was an uncommon thing for a young
man of +a,#ot to go to 6ngland. * had written out a few words of than#s. But * could
scarcely stammer them out. * remember how my head reeled and how my whole
frame shoo# as * stood u! to read them.
5ith the blessing of my elders, * started for Bombay. This was my first ,ourney from
+a,#ot to Bombay. This was my first ,ourney from +a,#ot to Bombay. My brother
accom!anied me. But there is many a sli!, (twi&t the cu! and the li!. There were
difficulties to be faced in Bombay.
PART '
CHAPTER I
74.67S 41BU+7S 4ST7 @
Mr. -hamberlain had come to get a gift of DG million !ounds from South 1frica, and to
win the hearts of 6nglishmen and Boers .
So he gave a cold shoulder to the *ndian de!utation.
7=ou #now,7 he said, 7that the *m!erial Government has little control over self/
governing -olonies. =our grievances seem to be genuine. * shall do what * can, but you
must try your best to !lacate the 6uro!eans, if you wish to live in their midst.7 The
re!ly cast a chill over the members of the de!utation. * was also disa!!ointed. *t was
an eye/o!ener for us all, and * saw that we should start with our wor# de novo. *
e&!lained the situation to my colleagues.
1s a matter of fact there was nothing wrong about Mr. -ham berlain7s re!ly. *t was
well that he did not mince matters. )e had brought home to us in a rather gentle way
the rule of might being right or the law of the sword.
9 .ide 7Petition to -hamberlain7, "ecember 8F, 9<A8.
But sword we had none. 5e scarcely had the nerve and the muscle even to receive
sword/cuts.
Mr. -hamberlin had given only a short time to the subcontinnent. *f Srinagar to -a!e
-omorin is 9,<AA miles, "urban to -a!e Town is not less than 9,9AA miles, and Mr.
-hamberlain had to cover the long distance at hurricane s!eed.
0rom %atal he hastened to the Transvaal. * had to !re!are the case for the *ndians
there as well and submit it to him. But how was * to get Pretoria @ ur !eo!le there
were not in a !osition to !rocure the necessary legal facilities for my getting to them
in time. The war had reduced the Transvaal to a howling wildernes. There were
neither !rovisions nor clothing available. 6m!ty or closed sho!s were there, waiting
to be re!lenished or o!ened, but that was a matter of time.
6ven refugees could not be allowed to return until the sho!s were ready with
!rovisions. 6very Transvaaler had therefore to obtain a !ermit. The 6uro!ean had no
difficulty in getting one, but the *ndian found it very hard.
"uring the war many officers and soldiers had come to South 1frica from *ndia and
-eylon, and it was considered to be the duty of the British authorities to !rovide for
such of them as decided to settle there. They had in any event to a!!oint new
officers, and these e&!erienced men came in 3uite handy. The 3uic# ingenuity of
some of them created a new de!artment. *t showed their resourcefulness.
There was a s!ecial de!artment for the %egroes. 5hy then should there not be one
for the 1siatics@ The argument seemed to be 3uite !lausible. 5hen * reached the
Transvaal, this new de!artment had already been o!ened and was gradually s!reading
its tentacles. The officers who issued !ermits to the returning refugees might issue
them to all, but how could they do so in res!ect of the 1siatics without the
intervention of the de!artment @ 1nd if !ermits were to be issued on the
recommendation of the new de!artment, some of the res!onsibi lity and burden of
the !ermit officers could thus be lessened. This was how they had argued. The fact,
however, was that the new de!artment wanted some a!ology for wor#, and the men
wanted money. *f there had been no wor#, the de!artment would have been found
unneces sary and would have been discontinued. So they found this wor# for
themselves.
The *ndians had to a!!ly to this de!artment. 1 re!ly would be vouchsafed many days
after. 1nd as there were large numbers wishing to return to the Transvaal, there grew
u! an army of intermediaries or touts who, with the officers, looted the !oor *ndians
to the tune of thousands. * was told that no !ermit could be had without influence
and that in some cases one had to !ay u! to hundred !ounds in s!ite of the influence
which one might bring to bear. Thus there seemed to be no way o!en to me. * went to
my old friend, the Police Su!erinten dent of "urban, and said to him ' 7Please
introduce me to the Permit fficer and hel! me to obtain a !ermit. =ou #now that *
have been a resident of the Transvaal.7 )e immediately !ut on his hat, came out and
secured me a !ermit. There was hardly an hour left before my train was to start. *
had #e!t my luggage ready. * than#ed Su!erinten dent 1le&ander and started for
Pretoria.
* now had a fair idea of the difficulties ahead. n reaching Pretoria * drafted the
memorial.9*n "urban * do not recollect the *ndians having been as#ed to submit in
advance the names of their re!resentatives, but here there was the new de!artment
and it as#ed to do so. The Pretoria *ndians had already come to #now that the officers
wanted to e&clude me.8 But another cha!ter is necessary for this !ainful though
amusing incident.
CHAPTER II
1UT-+1TS 0+M 1S*1
The officers at the head of the new de!artment were at a loss to #now how * had
entered the Transvaal. They in3uired of the *ndians who used to go to them, but these
could say nothing definite. The officers only ventured a guess that * might have
succeeded in entering without a !ermit on the strength of my old connections. *f that
was the case, * was liable to be arrested B *t is a general !ractice, on the termination
of a big war, to invest the Government of the day with s!ecial !owers. This was the
case in South 1frica. The Government had !assed a Peace Preservation rdinance,
which !rovided that anyone entering the Transvaal without a !ermit should be liable
to arrest and im!risonment. The 3uestion of arresting me under this !rovision was
mooted, but no one could summon u! courage enough to as# me to !roduce my
!ermit.
The officers had of course sent telegrams to "urban, and when they found that * had
entered with a !ermit, they were disa!!ointed.
But they were not the men to be defeated by such disa!!ointment.
Though * had succeeded in entering the Transvaal, they could still successfully !revent
me from waiting on Mr. -hamberlain.
So the community was as#ed to submit the names of the re!resentatives who were to
form the "e!utation. -olour !re,udice 9 .ide 71ddress to -hamberlain7, $anuary F,
9<AD.
8 .ide 74etter to the Transvaal Governor7, $anuary ;, 9<AD.
was of course in evidence everywhere in South 1frica, but * was not !re!ared to find
here the dirty and underhand dealing among officials that * was familiar with in *ndia.
*n South 1frica the !ublic de!artments were maintained for the good of the !eo!le
and were res!onsible to !ublic o!inion. )ence officials in charge had a certain
courtesy of manner and humility about them, and coloured !eo!le also got the
benefit of it more or less. 5ith the coming of the officers from 1sia, came also its
autocracy, and the habits that the autocrats had imbibed there. *n South 1frica there
was a #ind of res!onsible government or democracy, whereas the commodity im!orted
from 1sia was autocracy !ure and sim!leC for the 1siatics had no res!onsible
government, there being a foreign !ower governing them.
*n South 1frica the 6uro!eans were settled emigrants. They had become South 1frican
citi2ens and had control over the de!artmental officers. But the autocrats from 1sia
now a!!ered on the scene, and the *ndians in conse3uence found themselves between
the devil and the dee! sea.
* had a fair taste of this autocracy. * was first summoned to see the chief of the
de!artment, an officer from -eylon. 4est * should a!!ear to e&aggerate when * say
that * was 7summoned7 to see the chief, * shall ma#e myself clear. %o written order
was sent to me.
*ndian leaders often had to visit the 1siatic officers. 1mong these was the late Sheth
Tyeb )a,i Khan Muhammad. The chief of the office as#ed him who * was and why * had
come there.
7)e is our adviser,7 said Tyeb Sheth, 7and he has come here at our re3uest.7 7Then
what are we here for@ )ave we not been a!!ointed to !rotect you@ 5hat can Gandhi
#now of the conditions here@7 as#ed the autocrat.
Tyeb Sheth answered the charged as best he could ' 7f course you are there. But
Gandhi is our man. )e #nows our language and understands us. =ou are after all
officials.7 The Sahib ordered Tyeb Sheth to fetch me before him. * went to the Sahib
in com!any with Tyeb Sheth and others. %o seats were offered, we were all #e!t
standing.
75hat brings you here@7 said the Sahib addressing me.
7* have come here at the re3uest of my fellow/countrymen to hel! them with my
advice,7 * re!lied.
7But don7t you #now that you have no right to come here@ The !ermit you hold was
given you by mista#e. =ou cannot be regarded as a domiciled *ndian. =ou must go
bac#. =ou shall not wait on Mr.
-hamberlain. *t is for the !rotection of the *ndians here that the 1siatic "e!artment
has heen es!ecially created. 5ell, you my go.7 5ith this he bade me good/bye, giving
me no o!!ortunity for a re!ly.But he detained my com!anions. )e gave them a sound
scolding and advised them to send me away.
They returned chagrined. 5e were now confronted with an une&!ected situation.
P-K6T6" T)6 *%SU4T
* smarted under the insult, but as * had !oc#eted many such in the !ast, * had become
inured to them. * therefore decided to forget this latest one and ta#e what course a
dis!assionate view of the case might suggest.
5e had a letter from the -hief of the 1siatic "e!artment to the effect that, as * had
seen Mr. -hamberlain in "urban, it had been found ncessary to omit my name from
the "e!utation which was to wait on him.
The letter was more than my co/wor#ers could bear. They !ro!osed to dro! the idea
of the "e!utation altogether. * !ointed out to them the aw#ward situation of the
community.
7*f you do not re!resent your case before Mr. -hamberlain,7 said *, 7it will be
!resumed that you have no case at all. 1fter all, the re!resen/tation has to be made
in writing, and we have got it ready. *t does not matter in the least whether * read it
or someone else reads it.
Mr. -hamberlain is not going to argue the matter with us. * am afraid, we must
swallow the insult.7 * had scarcely finished s!ea#ing when Tyeb Sheth cried out, 7"oes
not an insult to you amount to an insult to the community@ )ow can we forget that
you are our re!resentative@7 7Too true,7 said *. 7But even the community will have to
!oc#et insults li#e these. )ave we any alternative@7 7-ome what may, why should we
swallow a fresh insult@ %othing worse can !ossibly ha!!en to us. )ave we many rights
to lose@7 as#ed Tyeb Sheth.
*t was a s!irited re!ly, but of what avail was it@ * was fully cons cious of the
limitations of the community. * !acified my friends and advi/sed them to have, in my
!lace, Mr. George Godfrey, an *ndian barrister.
So Mr. Godfrey led the "ed!utation. Mr. -hamberlain referred in his re!ly to my
e&clusion. 7+ather than hear the same re!resentative over and over again, is it not
better to have someone new@7 he said, and tried to heal the wound.
But all this, far from ending the matter, only added to the wor# of the community and
also to mine. 5e had to start afresh.
7*t is at your instance that the community hel!ed in the war, and you see the result
now,7 were the words with which some !eo!le taun ted me. But the taunt had no
effect. 7* do not regret my advice,7 said *. 7* maintain that we did well in ta#ing !art
in the war. *n doing so we sim!ly did our duty. 5e may not loo# forward to any reward
for our labours, but it is my firm conviction that all good action is bound to bear fruit
in the end. 4et us forget the !at and thin# of the tas# before us.7 5ith which the rest
agreed.
* added ' 7To tell you the truth, the wor# for which you had called me is !ractically
finished. But * believe * ought not to leave the Transvaal, so far as it is !ossible, even
if you !ermit me to return home. *nstead of carrying on my wor# from %atal, as
before, * must now do so from here. * must no longer thin# of returning to *ndia within
a year, but must get enrolled in the Transvaal Su!reme -ourt. * have confidence
enough to deal with this new de!artment. *f we do not do this, the community will be
hounded out of the country, bes ides being thoroughly robbed. 6very day it will have
fresh insults hea!ed u!on it. The facts that Mr. -hamberlain refused to see me and
that the official insulted me, are nothing before the humiliation of the whole
community. *t will become im!ossible to !ut u! with the veritable dog7s life that we
shall be e&!ected to lead.7 So * set the ball rolling, discussed things with *ndians in
Pretoria and $ohannesburg, and ultimately decided to set u! office in $ohannesburg.
*t was indeed doubtful whether * would be enrolled in the Tra nsvaal Su!reme -ourt.
But the 4aw Society did not o!!ose my a!!lication, and the -ourt allowed it. *t was
difficult for an *ndian to secure rooms for office in a suitable locality. But * had come
in fairly close contact with Mr. +itch, who was then one of the merchants there.
Through the good offices of a house agent #nown to him, * succeeded securing
suitable rooms for my office in the legal 3uarters of the city, and * started on my
!rofessional wor#.
CHAPTER I(
HU*-K6%6" SP*+*T 0 S1-+*0*-6
Before * narrate the struggle for the *ndian settlers7 rights in the Transvaal and their
dealings with the 1siatic "e!artment, * must turn to some other as!ects of my life.
U! to now there had been in me a mi&ed desire. The s!irit of self/sacrifice was
tem!ered by the desire to lay by something for the future.
1bout the time * too# u! chambers in Bombay, an 1merican insurance agent had come
there/a man with a !leasing countenance and a sweet tongue. 1s though we were old
friends he discussed my future welfare. 71ll men of your status in 1merica have their
lives insured. Should you not also insure yourself against the future@ 4ife is uncertain.
5e in 1merica regard it as a religious obligation to get insured. -an * not tem!t you to
ta#e out a small !olicy@7 U! to this time * had given the cold shoulder to all the agents
* had met in South 1frica and *ndia, for * had thought that life assurance im!lied fear
and want of faith in God. But now * suc cumbed to the tem!tation of the 1merican
agent. 1s he !roceeded with his argument, * had before my mind7s eye a !icture of my
wife and children. 7Man, you have sold almost all the ornaments of your wife,7 * said
to myself. 7*f something were to ha!!en to you, the burden of su!!orting her and the
children would fall on your !oor brother, who has so nobly filled the !lace of father.
)ow would that become you@7 5ith these and similar argument * !ersuaded myself to
ta#e out a !olicy for +s. 9A,AAA.
But when my mode of life changed in South 1frica, my outloo# changed too. 1ll the
ste!s * too# at this time of trial were ta#en in the name of God and for )is service. *
did not #now how long * should have to stay in South 1frica. * had a fear that * might
never be able to get bac# to *ndiaC so * decided to #ee! my wife and children with me
and earn enough to su!!ort them. This !lan made me de!lore the life !olicy and feel
ashamed of having been caught in the net of insurance agent. *f, * said to myself, my
brother is really in the !osition of my father, surely he would not consider it too much
of a burden to su!!ort my widow, if it came to that. 1nd what reason had * to assume
that death would claim me earlier than the others@ 1fter all the real !rotector was
neither * nor my brother, but the 1lmighty. *n getting my life insured * had robbed my
wife and children of their self reliance. 5hy should they not be e&!ected to ta#e care
of themselves@ 5hat ha!!ened to the families of the numberless !oor in the world@
5hy should * not count myself as one of them@ 1 multitude of such thoughts !asses
through my mind, but * did not immediately act u!on them. * recollect having !aid at
least one insurance !remium in South 1frica.
utward circumstances too su!!orted this train of thought.
"uring my first so,ourn in South 1frica it was -hristian influence that had #e!t alive in
me the religious sense. %ow it was theoso!hical influence that added strength to it.
Mr. +itch was a theoso!hist and !ut me in touch with the Society at $ohannesburg. *
never became a member, as * had my differences, but * came in close contact with
almost every theoso!hist. * had religious discussions with them every day. There used
to be readings from theoso!hical boo#s and sometimes * had occasion to address their
meetings. The chief thing about theoso!hy is to cultivate and !romote the idea of
brotherood.
5e had considerable discussion over this, and * critici2ed the members where their
conduct did not a!!ear to me to s3uare with their ideal.
The criticism was not without its wholesome effect on me. *t led to intros!ection.
CHAPTER (
+6SU4T 0 *%T+SP6-T*%
5hen, in 9:<D, * came in close contact with -hristian friends, * was a mere novice.
They tried hard to bring home to me, and ma#e me acce!t, the message of $esus, and
* was a humble and res!ectful listener with an o!en mind. 1t that time * naturally
studied )induism to the best of my ability and endeavoured to understand other
religions.
*n 9<AD the !osition was somewhat changed. Theoso!hist friends certainly intended to
draw me into their society, but that was with a view to getting something from me as
a )indu. Theoso!hical literature is re!lete with )indu influence, and so these friends
e&!ected that * should be hel!ful to them. * e&!lained that my Sam s#rit study was
not much to s!ea# of, that * had not read the )indu scri!tures in the original, and
that even my ac3uaintance with the translations was of the slightest. But being
believers in sams#ara >tendencies caused by !revious births? and !unar,anma
>rebirth?, they assumed that * should be able to render at least some hel!. 1nd so *
felt li#e a Triton among the minnows. * started reading Swami .ive #ananda7s
+a,ayoga with some of these friends and M. %. "vivedi7s +a,ayoga with others. * had
to read Patan,ali7s =oga Sutras with one friend and the Bhagavad Gita with 3uite a
number. 5e formed a sort of See#ers7 -lub where we had regular readings. * already
had faith in the Gita, which had a fascination for me. %ow * reali2ed the necessity of
diving dee!er into it. * had one or two translations, by means of which * tried to
understand the original Sams#rit. * decided also to get by heart one or two verses
every day. 0or this !ur!ose * em!loyed the time of my morning ablutions. The
o!eration too# me thirty/five minutes, fifteen minutes for the tooth brush and twenty
for the bath.
The first * used to do standing in western fashion. So on the wall o!! osite * stuc#
sli!e of !a!er on which were written the Gita verses and referred to them now and
then to hel! my memory. This time was found sufficient for memori2ing the daily
!ortion and recalling the verses already learnt. * remember having thus committed to
memory thirteen cha!ters. But the memori2ing of the Gita had to give way to other
wor# and the creation and nurture of satyagraha, which absorbed all my thin#ing
time, as the latter may be said to be doing even now.
5hat effect this reading of the Gita had on my friends only they can say, but to me
the Gita became an infallible guide of conduct. *t became my dictionary of daily
reference. $ust as * turned to the 6nglish dictionary for the meanings of 6nglish words
that * did not understand, * turned to this dictionary of conduct for a ready solution of
all my troubles and trials. 5ords li#e a!arigraha >non/!ossession? and samabhava
>e3uability? gri!!ed me. )ow to cultivate and !reserve that e3ability was the
3uestion. )ow was one to treat ali#e insulting, insolent and corru!t officials, co/
wor#ers of yesterday raising meaningless o!!osition, and men who had always been
good to one@ )ow was one to divest oneself of all !ossessions@ 5as not the body itself
!ossession enough@ 5ere not wife and children !ossessions@ 5as * to destroy all the
cu!boards of boo#s * had@ 5as * to give u! all * had and follow )im@ Straight came the
answer ' * could not follow )im unless * gave u! all * had. My study of 6nglish law
came to my hel!. Snell7s discussion of the ma&ims of 63uity came to my memory. *
understood more clearly in the light of the Gita teaching the im!lication of the word
7trustee7. My regard for ,uris!rudence increased, * discovered in it religion. *
understood the Gita teaching of non/!ossession to mean that those who desired
salvation should act li#e the trustee who, though having control over great
!ossessions, regards not an iota of them as his own. *t became clear to me as daylight
that non/!ossession and e3uability !resu!osed a change of heart, a change of
attitude. * then wrote to +evashan#erbhai to allow the insurance !olicy to la!se and
get whatever could be recovered or else to regard the !remiums already !aid as lost,
for * had become convinced that God, who created my wife and children as well as
myself, would ta#e care of them. To my brother, who had been as father to me, *
wrote e&!laining that * had given him all that * had saved u! to that moment, but that
henceforth he should e&!ect nothing from me, for future savings, if any, would be
utili2ed for the benefit of the community.9 * could not easily ma#e my brother
understand this. *n stern language he e&!lained to me my duty towards him. * should
not, he said, as!ire to be wiser than our father. * must su!!ort the family as he did. *
!ointed out to him that * was doing e&actly what our father had 9 .ide 74etter to
4a#shmidas Gandhi7, about 1!ril 8A, 9<AF.
done. The meaning of 7family7 had but to be slightly widened and the wisdom of my
ste! would become clear.
My brother gave me u! and !ractically sto!ed all commu nication. * was dee!ly
distressed, but it would have been a greater distress to give u! what * considered to
be my duty, and * !referred the lesser. But that did not affect my devotion to him,
which remained as !ure and great as ever. )is great love for me was at the root of his
misery. )e did not so much want my money as that * should be well behaved towards
the family. %ear the end of his life, however, he a!!reciated my view/!oint. 5hen
almost on his death/bed, he reali2ed that my ste! had been right and wrote me a
most !athetic letter. )e a!ologi2ed to me, if indeed a father may a!ologi2e to his
son. )e commended his sons to my care, to be brought u! as * thought fit, and
e&!ressed his im!atience to meet me. )e cabled that he would li#e to come to South
1frica and * cabled in re!ly that he could. But that was not to be. %or could his desire
as regards his sons be fulfilled. )e died before he could start for South 1frica. )is sons
had been brought u! in the old atmos!here and could not change their course of life.
* could not draw them to me. *t was not their fault. 75ho can say thus far, no further,
to the tide of his own nature@7 5ho can erase the im!ressions with which he is born@ *t
is idle to e&!ect one7s children and wards necessarily to follow the same course of
evolution as oneself.
This instance to some e&tent serves to show what a terrible res!onsibility it is to be a
!arent.
CHAPTER (I
1 S1-+*0*-6 T .6G6T1+*1%*SM
1s the ideals of sacrifice and sim!licity were becoming more and more reali2ed, and
the religious consciousness was becoming more and more 3uic#ened in my daily life,
the !assion for vegetarianism as a mission went on increasing. * have #nown only one
way of carrying on missionary wor#, vi2., by !ersonal e&am!le and discussion with
searchers for #nowledge.
There was in $ohannesburg a vegetarian restaurant conducted by a German who
believed in Kuhne7s hydro!athic treatment. * visited the restaurant myself and hel!ed
it by ta#ing 6nglish friends there.
But * saw that it could not last as it was always in financial difficulties.
* assisted it as much as * thought it deserved, and s!ent some money on it, but it had
ultimately to be closed down.
Most theoso!hists are vegetarians more or less, and an enter !rising lady9 belonging
to that society now came u!on the scene with 9 Miss Bissic#sC vide 74etter to Miss
Bissic#s7, 1ugust G, 9<AG. a vegetarian restaurant on a grand scale. She was fond of
art, e&travagant and ignorant of accounts. )er circle of friends was fairly large. She
had started in a small way, but later decided to e&tend the venture by ta#ing large
rooms, and as#ed me for hel!. * #new nothing of her finances when she thus
a!!roached me, but * too# it that her estimate must be fairly accurate. 1nd * was in a
!osition to accommodate her. My clients used to #ee! large sums as de!osits with me.
)aving received the consent of one of these clients, * lent about a thousand !ounds
from the amount to his credit. This client was most large/hearted and trusting. )e
had originally come to South 1frica as an indentured labourer. )e said ' 7Give away
the money, if you li#e. * #now nothing in these matters. * only #now you.7 )is name
was Badri. )e afterwards too# a !rominent !art in satyagraha, and suffered
im!risonmentas well. So * advanced the loan assuming that this consent was enough.
*n two or three months7 time * came to #now that the amount would not be
recovered. * could ill afford to sustain such a loss. There were many other !ur!oses to
which * could have a!!lied this amount.
The loan was never re!aid. But how could trusting Badri be allowed to suffer@ )e had
#nown me only. * made good the loss.
1 client friend to whom * s!o#e about this transaction sweetly chid me for my folly.
7Bhai,7/* had fortunately not yet become 7Mahatma7, nor even 7Ba!u7 >father?, friends
used to call me by the loving name of 7Bhai7 >brother?/said he, 7this was not for you to
do. 5e de!end u!on you in so many things. =ou are not going to get bac# this amount.
* #now you will never allow Badri to come to grief, for you will !ay him out of your
!oc#et, but if you go on hel!ing your reform schemes by o!erating on your clients7
money, the !oor fellows will be ruined, and you will soon become a beggar. But you
are our trustee and must #now that, if you become a beggar, all our !ublic wor# will
come to a sto!.7 The friend, * am than#ful to say, is still alive. * have not yet come
across a !urer man than he, in South 1frica or anywhere else. * have #nown him to
a!ologi2e to !eo!le and to cleanse himself, when, having ha!!ened to sus!ect them,
he had found his sus!icion to be unfounded.
* saw that he had rightly warned me. 0or though * made good Badri7s loss, * should not
have been able to meet any similar loss and should have been driven to incur debt/a
thing * have never done in my life and always abhorred. * reali2ed that even a man7s
reforming 2eal ought not to ma#e him e&ceed his limits. * also saw that in thus lending
trust/money * had disobeyed the cardinal teaching of the Gita, vi2., the duty of a man
of e3ui!oise to act without desire for the fruit.
The error became for me a beaconlight of warning.
The sacrifice offered on the altar of vegetarianism was neither intentional nor
e&!ected. *t was a virtue of necessity.
CHAPTER (II
6IP6+*M6%TS *% 61+T) 1%" 51T6+ T+61TM6%T
5ith the growing sim!licity of my life, my disli#e for medicines steadily increased.
5hile !ractising in "urban, * suffered for some time from debility and rheumatic
inflammation. "r. P. $. Mehta, who had come to see me, gave me treatment, and * got
well. 1fter that, u! to the time when * returned to *ndia, * do not remember having
suffered from an ailment to s!ea# of.
But * used to be troubled with consti!ation and fre3uent headaches, while at
$ohannesburg. * #e!t myself fit with occasional la&atives and a well/regulated diet.
But * could hardly call myself healthy, and always wondered when * should get free
from the incubus of these la&ative medicines.
1bout this time * read of the formation of a 7%o Brea#fast 1s sociation7 in Manchester.
The argument of the !romoters was that 6nglishmen ate too often and too much, that
their doctors7 bills were heavy because they ate until midnight, and that they should
at least give u! brea#fast, if they wanted to im!rove this state of affairs.
Though all these things could not be said of me, * felt that the argument did !artly
a!!ly in my case. * used to have three s3uare meals daily in addition to afternoon tea.
* was never a s!are eater and en,oyed as many delicacies as could be had with a
vegetarian and s!iceless diet. * scarcely ever got u! before si& or seven. * therefore
argued that, if * also dro!!ed the morning brea#fast, * might become free from
headaches. So * tried the e&!eriment. 0or a few days it was rather hard, but the
headache entirely disa!!eared. This led me to conclude that * was eating more than *
needed.
But the change was far from relieving me of consti!ation. * tried Kuhne7s hi!/baths,
which gave some relief but did not com!letly cure me. *n the meantime the German
who had a vege tarian restaurant, or some other friend, * forget who, !laced in my
hands $ust7s +eturn to %ature. *n this boo# * read about earth treatment.
The author also advocated fresh fruit and nuts as the natural diet of man. * did not at
once ta#e to the e&clusive fruit diet, but immediately began e&!eriments in earth
treatment, and with wonderful results. The treatment consisted in a!!lying to the
abdomen a bandage of clean earth moistened with cold water and s!read li#e a
!oultice on fine linen. This * a!!lied at bed/time, removing it during the night or in
the morning, whenever * ha!!ened to wa#e u!. *t !roved a radical cure. Since then *
have tried the treatment on myself and my friends and never had reason to regret it.
*n *ndia * have not been able to try this treatment with e3ual confidence. 0or one
thing, * have never had time to settle down in one !lace to conduct the e&!eriments.
But my faith in the earth and water treatment remains !ractically the same as
before. 6ven today * give myself the earth treatment to a certain e&tent and
recommend it to my co/wor#ers, whenever occasion arises.
Though * have had two serious illnesses in my life, * believe that man has little need
to drug himself. <<< cases out of a thousand can be brought round by means of a well/
regulated diet, water and earth treatment and similar household remedies. )e who
runs to the doctor, vaidya or ha#im for every little ailment, and swallows all #inds of
vegetable and mineral drugs, not only curtails his life, but, by becoming the slave of
his body instead of remaining its master, loses self/control, and ceases to be a man.
4et no one discount these observations because they are being written in a sic#/bed9.
* #now the reasons for my illnesses. * am fully conscious that * alone am res!onsible
for them, and it is because of that consciousness that * have not lost !atience. *n fact
* have than#ed God for them as lessons and successfully resisted the tem!tation of
ta#ing numerous drugs. * #now my obstinacy often tries my doctors, but they #indly
bear with me and do not give me u!.
)owever, * must not digrees. Before !roceeding futrther, * should give the reader a
word of warning. Those who !urchase $ust7s boo# on the strength of this cha!ter
should not ta#e everything in it to be gos!el truth. 1 writer almost always !resents
one as!ect of a case, whereas every case can be seen from no less than seven !oints
of view, all of which are !robably correct by themselves, but not correct at the same
time and in the same circumstances. 1nd then many boo#s are written with a view to
gaining customers and earning name and fame.
4et those, therefore, who read such boo#s as these do so with discernment, and ta#e
advice of some e&!erienced man before trying any of the e&!eriments set forth, or let
them read the boo#s with !atience and digest them thoroughly before acting u!on
them.
CHAPTER (III
1 51+%*%G
* am afraid * must continue the digression until the ne&t cha!er.
1long with my e&!eriments in earth treatment, those in dietetics were also being
carried on, and it may not be out of !lace here to ma#e a 9 This cha!ter a!!eared in
%ava,ivan, 8;/;/9<8F, when Gandhi,i was suffering from high blood/!ressure.
few observations as regards the latter, though * shall have occasion to refer to them
again later.
* may not, now or hereafter, enter into a detailed account of the e&!eriments in
dietetics, for * did so in a series of Gu,arati articles which a!!eared years ago in
*ndian !inion, and which were afterwards !ublished in the form of a boo# !o!ularly
#nown in 6nglish as 1 Guide to )ealth9. 1mong my little boo#s this has been the most
widely read ali#e in the 6ast and in the 5est, a thing that * have not yet been able to
understand. * was written for the benefit of the readers of *ndian !inion. But * #now
that the boo#let has !rofoundly influenced the lives of many, both in the 6ast and in
the 5est, who have never seen *ndian !inion. 0or they have been corres!onding with
me on the sub,ect. *t has therefore a!!eared necessary to say something here about
the boo#let, for though * see no reason to alter the views set forth in it, yet * have
made certain radical changes in my actual !ractice, of which all readers of the boo#
do not #now, and of which, * thin#, they should be informed.
The boo#let was written, li#e all my other writings, with a s!iritual end, which has
always ins!ired every one of my actions, and therefore it is a matter for dee! distress
to me that * am unable today to !ractise some of the theories !ro!ounded in the
boo#.
*t is my firm conviction that man need ta#e no mil# at all, beyond the mother7s mil#
that he ta#es as a baby. )is diet should consist of nothing but sunba#ed fruits and
nuts. )e can secure enough nourishment both for the tissues and the nerves from
fruits li#e gra!es and nuts li#e almonds. +estraint of the se&ual and other !assions
becomes easy for a man who lives on such food. My co wor#ers and * have seen by
e&!erience that there is much truth in the *ndian !roverb that as a man eats, so shall
he become. These views have been set out elaborately in the boo#.
But unfortunately in *ndia * have found myself obliged to deny some of my theories in
!ractice. 5hilst * was engaged on the recruiting cam!aign in Kheda, an error in diet
laid me low, and * was at death7s door.8 * tried in vain to rebuild a shattered
constitution without mil#. * sought the hel! of the doctors, vaidyas and scientists
whom * #new, to recommend a substitute for mil#. Some suggested mung water, some
mowhra oil, some almond/mil#. * wore out my 9 .ide 7 General Knowledge about
)ealth7, a series of thirty/four articles between $anuary E, 9<9D and 1ugust 9;, 9<9D.
0or information about different editions of the boo#, vide 7General Knowlwdge about
)ealth J/I*.K7, 1!ril G, 9<9D.
8 This was in 1ugust 9<9:C vide 74etter to 0ulchand Shah7, 1ugust 98, 9<9:. body in
e&!erimenting on these, but nothing could hel! me to leave the sic#/bed. The vaidyas
read verses to me from -hara#a to show that religious scru!les about diet have no
!lace in thera!eutics. So they could not be e&!ected to hel! me to continue to life
without mil#.
1nd how could those who recommended beef/tea and brandy without hesitation hel!
me to !ersvere with a mil#less diet@ * might not ta#e cow7s or buffalo7s mil#, as * was
bound by a vow. The vow of course meant the giving u! of all mil#s, but as * had
mother cow7s and mother buffalo7s only in mind when * too# the vow, and was *
wanted to live, * somehow beguiled myself into em!hasi2ing the letter of the vow and
decided to ta#e goat7s mil#. * was fully conscious, when * started ta#ing mother goat7s
mil#, that the s!irit of my vow was destroyed. 9 But the idea of leading a cam!aign
against the +owlatt 1ct had !ossessed me. 1nd with it grew the desire to live.
-onse3uently one of the greatest e&!eriments in my life came to a sto!.
* #now it is argued that the soul has nothing to do with what one eats or drin#s, as the
soul neither eats nor drin#sC that it is not what you !ut inside from without, but what
you e&!ress outwardly from within, that matters. There is, no doubt, some force in
this. But rather than e&amine this reasoning. * shall content myself with merely
declaring my firm conviction that, for the see#er who would live in fear of God and
who would see )im face to face, restraint in diet both as to 3uantity and 3uality is as
essential as restraint in thought and s!eech.
*n a matter, however, where my theory has failed me, * should not only give the
information, but issue a grave warning against ado!ting it. * would therefore urge
those who, on the strength of the theory !ro!ounded by me, may have given u! mil#,
not to !ersist in the e&!eriment, unless they find it beneficial in every way, or unless
they are advised by e&!erienced !hysicians. U! to now my e&!erience here has shown
me that for those with a wea# digestion and for those who are confined to bed there
is no light and nourishing diet e3ual to that of mil#.
* should be greatly obliged if anyone with e&!erience in this line, who ha!!ens to read
this cha!ter, would tell me, if he has #nown from e&!erience, and not from reading,
of a vegetable substitute for mil#, which is e3ually nourishing and digestible.
9 0or Kasturba7s !art in bringing about this com!romise, vide 74etter to Maganlal
Gandhi7, $anuary 9A, 9<9<.
CHAPTER I)
1 TUSS46 5*T) P56+
To turn now to the 1siatic "e!artment.
$ohannesburg was the stronghold of the 1siatic officers. * had been observing that, far
from !roteching the *ndians, -hinese and others, these officers were grinding them
down. 6very day * had com!laints li#e this ' 7The rightful ones are not admitted,
whilst those who have no right are smuggled in on !ayment of L9AA. *f you will not
remedy this state of things, who will@7 * shared the feeling. *f * did not succeed in
stam!ing out this evil, * should be living in the Transvaal in vain.
So * began to collect evidence, and as soon as * had gathered a fair amount, *
a!!roached the Police -ommissioner. )e a!!eared to be a ,ust man. 0ar from giving
me the cold shoulder, he listened to me !atiently and as#ed me to show him all the
evidence in my !ossession. )e e&amined the witnesses himself and was satisfied, but
he #new as well as * that it was difficult in South 1frica to get a white ,ury to convict
a white offender against coloured men. 7But,7 said he, 7let us try at any rate. *t is not
!ro!er either, to let such criminals go scot/free for fear of the ,ury ac3uiting them. *
must get them arrested.
* assure you * shall leave no stone unturned.7 * did not need the assurance. * sus!ected
3uite a number of officers, but as * had no unchallengeable evidence against them all,
warrants of arrest were issued against the two about whose guilt * had not the
slightest doubt.
My movements could never be #e!t secret. Many #new that * was going to the Police
-ommissioner !ractically daily. The two officers against whom warrants had been
issued had s!ies more or less efficient. They used to !atrol my office and re!ort my
movements to the officers. * must admit, however, that these officers were so bad
that they could not have had many s!ies. )ad the *ndians and the -hinese not hel!ed
me, they would never have been arrested.
ne of these absconded. The Police -ommissioner obtained an e&tradition warrant
against him and got him arrested and brought to the Transvaal. They were tried, and
although there was strong evidence against them, and in s!ite of the fact that the
,ury had evidence of one of them having absconded, both were declared to be not
guilty and ac3uitted.
* was sorely disa!!ointed. The Police -ommissioner also was very sorry. * got disgusted
with the legal !rofession. The very intellect became an abomination to me inasmuch
as it could be !rostituted for screening crime.
)owever, the guilt of both these officers was so !atent that in s!ite of their ac3uittal
the Government could not harbour them. Both were cashiered, and the 1siatic
"e!artment became com!aratively clean, and the *ndian community was somewhat
reassured.
The event enhanced my !restige and brought me more business.
The bul#, though not all, of the hundreds of !ounds that the community was monthly
s3uandering in !eculation, was saved. 1ll could not be saved, for the deshonest still
!lied their trade. But it was now !ossible for the honest man to !reserve his honesty.
* must say that, though these officers were so bad, * had nothing against them
!ersonally. They were of this themselves, and when in their straits they a!!roached
me, * hel!ed them too. They had a chance of getting em!loyed by the $ohannesburg
Munici!ality in case * did not o!!ose the !ro!osal. 1 friend of theirs saw me in this
connection and * agreed not to thwart them, and they succeeded.
This attitude of mine !ut the officials with whom * came in contact !erfectly at ease,
and though * had often to fight with their de!artment and use strong language, they
remained 3uite friendly with me. * was not then 3uite conscious that such behaviour
was !art of my nature. * learnt later that it was an essential !art of satyagraha, and
an attribute of ahimsa.
Man and his deed are two distinct things. 5hereas a good deed should call forth
a!!robation and a wic#ed deed disa!!robation, the doer of the deed, whether good
or wic#ed, always deserves res!ect of !ity as the case may be. 7)ate the sin and not
the sinner7 is a !rece!t which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely !ractised,
and that is why the !oison of hatred s!reads in the world.
This ahimsa is the basis of the search for truth. * am reali2ing every day that the
search is vain unless it is founded on ahimsa as the basis. *t is 3uite !ro!er to resist
and attac# a system, but to resist and attac# its author is tantamount to resisting and
attac#ing oneself. 0or we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one
and the same -reater, and as such the divine !owers within us are infinite. To slight a
single human being is to slight those divine !owers, and thus to harm not only that
being but with him the whole world.
CHAPTER )
1 S1-+6" +6-446-T*% 1%" P6%1%-6
1 variety of incidents in my life have cons!ired to bring me in close contact with
!eo!le of many creeds and many cummunities, and my e&!erience with all of them
warrants the statement that * have #nown no distinction between relatives and
strangers, countrymen and foreigners, white and coloured, )indus and *ndians of
other faiths, whether Mussalmans, Parsis, -hristians or $ews. * may say that my heart
has been inca!able of ma#ing any such distinctions. * cannot claim this as a s!ecial
virtue, as it is in my very nature, rather than a result of any effort on my !art,
whereas in the case of ahimsa >non violence?, brahmacharya >celibacy?, a!arigraha
>non/!ossession? and other cardinal virtues, * am fully conscious of a continuous
striving for their cultivation.
5hen * was !ractising in "urban, my office cler#s often stayed with me, and there
were among them )indus and -hristians, or to describe them by their !rovinces,
Gu,aratis and Tamilians. * do not recollect having ever regarded them as anything but
my #ith and #in.
* treated them as members of my family, and had un!leasantness with my wife if ever
she stood in the way of my treating them as such. ne of the cler#s was a -hristian,
born of Panchama !arents.
The house was built after the 5estern model and the rooms rightly had no outlets for
dirty water. 6ach room had therefore chamber/!ots. +ather than have these cleaned
by a servant or a swee!er, my wife or * attended to them. The cler#s who made
themselves com!letely at home would naturally clean their own !ots, but the
-hristian cler# was a newcomer, and it was our duty to attend to his bedroom. My
wife managed the !ots of the others, but to clean those used by one who had been a
Panchama seemed to her to be the limit, and we fell out. She could not bear the !ots
being cleaned by me, neither did she li#e doing it herself. 6ven today * can recall the
!icture of her chiding me, her eyes red with anger, and !earl dro!s streaming down
her chee#s, as she descended the ladder, !ot in hand.
But * was a cruelly #ind husband. * regarded myself as her teacher, and so harassed
her out of my blind love for her.
* was far from being satisfied by her merely carrying the !ot. * would have her do it
cheerfully. So * said, raising my voice ' 7* will not stand this nonsense in my house.7
The words !ierced her li#e an arrow.
She shouted bac# ' 7Kee! your house to yourself and let me go.7 * forgot myself, and
the s!ring of com!assion dried u! in me. * caught her by the hand, dragged the
hel!less woman to the gate, which was ,ust o!!osite the ladder, and !roceeded to
o!en it with the intention of !ushing her out. The tears were running down her chee#s
in torrents, and she cried ' 7)ave you no sense of shame@ must you so far forget
yourself@ 5here am * to go@ * have no !arents or relatives here to harbour me. Being
your wife, you thin# * must !ut u! with your cuffs and #ic#s@ 0or heaven7s sa#e behave
yourself, and shut the gate. 4et us not be found ma#ing scenes li#e this B7 * !ut on a
brave face, but was really ashamed and shut the gate.
*f my wife could not leave me, neither could * leave her. 5e have had numerous
bic#erings, but the end has always been !eace between us.
The wife, with her matchless !owers of endurance, has always been the victor.Today *
am in a !osition to narrate the incident with some deta chment, as it belongs to a
!eriod out of which * have fortunately emerged. * am no longer a blind, infatuated
husband, * am no more my wife7s teacher. Kasturba can, if she will, be as un!leasant
to me today, as * used to be to her before.A 5e are tried friends, the one no longer
regarding the other as the ob,ect of lust. She has been a faithful nurse throughout my
illnesses, serving without any thought of reward.
The incident in 3uestion occurred in 9:<:, when * had no conce!tion of
brahmacharya.9 *t was a time when * thought that the wife was the ob,ect of her
husband7s lust, born to do her husband7s behest, rather than a hel!mate, a comrade
and a !artner in the husband7s ,oys and sorrows.
*t was in the year 9<AA that these ideas8 underwent a radical transformation, and in
9<A; they too# concrete sha!e. But of this * !ro!ose to s!ea# in its !ro!er !lace.
Suffice it to say that with the gradual disa!!earnace in me of the carnal a!!etite, my
domestic life became and is becoming more and more !eaceful, sweet and ha!!y.
4et no one conclude from this narrative of a sacred recollection that we are by any
means an ideal cou!le,D or that there is a com!lete identity of ideals between us.
Kasturba herself does not !erha!s #now whether she has any ideals inde!endently of
me. *t is li#ely that many of my doings have not her a!!roval even today. 5e never
discuss them, * see no good in discussing them. 0or she was educated neither by her
!arents nor by me at the time when * ought to have done it.
But she is blessed with one great 3uality to a very considerable degree, a 3uality
which most )indu wives !ossess in some measure. 1nd it is this ' 5illingly or
unwillingly, consciously or unconsciouly, she has considered herself blessed in
following in my footste!s, and has never stood in the way of my endeavour to lead a
life of restraint. Though, therefore, there is a wide difference between us
intellectually, * have always had the feeling that ours is a life of contentment,
ha!!iness and !rogress.E
CHAPTER )I
*%T*M1T6 6U+P61% -%T1-TS
This cha!ter has brought me to a stage where it becomes necessary for me to e&!lain
to the reader how this story is written from wee# to wee#.
5hen * began writing it, * had no definite !lan before me. * have no diary or
documents on which to base the story of my e&!eriments.
* write ,ust as the S!irit moves me at the time of writing. * do not claim to #now
definitely that all conscious thought and action on my !art is directed by the S!irit.
But on an e&amination of the greatest ste!s that * have ta#en in my life, as also of
those that may be regarded as the least, * thin# it will not be im!ro!er to say that all
of them were directed by the S!irit.
* have not seen )im, neither have * #nown )im. * have made the world7s faith in God
my own, and as my faith is ineffaceable, * regard that faith as amounting to
e&!erience. )owever, as it may be said that to describe faith as e&!erience is to
tam!er with truth, it may !erha!s be more correct to say that * have no word for
characteri2ing my belief in God.
*t is !erha!s now somewhat easy to understand why * believe that * am writing this
story as the S!irit !rom!ts me. 5hen * began the last cha!ter * gave it the heading *
have given to this, but as * was writing it, * reali2ed that before * narrated my
e&!eriences with 6uro!eans, * must write something by way of a !reface. This * did
and altered the heading.
%ow again, as * start on this cha!ter, * find myself confronted with a fresh !roblem.
5hat things to mention and what to omit regarding the 6nglish friends of whom * am
about to write is a serious !roblem. *f things that are relevant are omitted, truth will
be dimmed.
1nd it is difficult to decide straightaway what is relevant, when * am not even sure
about the relevancy of writing this story.
* understand more clearly today what * read long ago about the inade3uacy of all
autobiogra!hy as history. * #now that * do not set down in this story all that *
remember. 5ho can say how much * must give and how much omit in the interest of
truth@ 1nd what would be the value in a court of law of the inade3uate e& !arte
evidence being tendered by me of certain events in my life@ *f some busybody were to
cross/e&amine me on the cha!ters already written, he could !robably shed much
more light on them, and if it were a hostile critics7s cross/e&amination, he might even
flatter himself for having shown u! 7the hollowness of many of my !retensions7.
*, therefore, wonder for a moment whether it might not be !ro!er to sto! writing
these cha!ters. But so long as there is no !rohibition from the voice within, * must
continue the writing. * must follow the sage ma&im that nothing once begun should be
abandoned unless it is !roved to be morally wrong.
* am not writing the autobiogra!hy to !lease critics. 5riting it is itself one of the
e&!eriments with truth. ne of its ob,ects is certianly to !rovide some comfort and
food for reflection for my co/wor#ers.
*ndeed * started writing it in com!liance with their wishes. *t might not have been
written, if $airamdas and Swami 1nand had not !ersisted in their suggestion. *f,
therefore, * am wrong in writing the auto biogra!hy, they must share the blame.
But to ta#e u! the sub,ect indicated in the heading. $ust as * had *ndians living with
me as members of my family, so had * 6nglish friends living with me in "urban. %ot
that all who lived with me li#ed it. But * !ersisted in having them. %or was * wise in
every case. * had some bitter e&!eriences, but these included both *ndians and
6uro!eans. 1nd * do not regret the e&!eriences. *n s!ite of them, and in s!ite of the
inconvenience and worry that * have often caused to friends, * have not altered my
conduct and friends have #indly borne with me. 5henever my contacts with strangers
have been !ainful to friends, * have not hesitated to blame them. * hold that believers
who have to see the same God in others that they see in themselves, must be able to
live amongst all with sufficient detachment. 1nd the ability to live thus can be
cultivated, not by fighting shy of unsought o!!ortunities for such contacts, but by
hailing them in a s!irit of service and withal #ee!ing oneself unaffected by them.
Though, therefore, my house was full when the Boer 5ar bro#e out, * received two
6nglishmen who had come from $ohannesh/burg.
Both were theoso!hists, one of them being Mr. Kitchin, of whom we shall have
occasion to #now more later. These friends often cost my wife bitter tears.
Unfortunately she has had many such trials on my account. This was the first time
that * had 6nglish friends to live with me as intimately as members of my family. * had
stayed in 6nglish houses during my days in 6ngland, but there * conformed to their
ways of living, and it was more or less li#e living in a boarding house.
)ere it was 3uite the contrary. The 6nglish friends became members of the family.
They ado!ted the *ndian style in many matters. Though the a!!ointments in the house
were in the 5estern fashion, the internal life was mostly *ndian. * do remember
having had some difficulty in #ee!ing them as members of the family, but * can
certainly say that they had no difficulty in ma#ing themselves !erfectly at home
under my roof. *n $ohannesburg these contacts develo!ed further than in "urban.
CHAPTER )II
6U+P61% -%T1-TS >-%T".?
*n $ohannesburg * had at one time as many as four *ndian cler#s, who were !erha!s
more li#e my sons than cler#s. But even these were not enough for my wor#. *t was
im!ossible to do without ty!ewriting, which, among us, if at all, only * #new. * taught
it to two of the cler#s, but they never came u! to the mar# because of their !oor
6nglish. 1nd then one of these * wanted to train as an accountant. * could not get out
anyone from %atal, for nobody could enter the Transvaal without a !ermit, and for my
own !ersonal convenience * was not !re!ared to as# a favour of the Permit fficer.
* was at my wit7s end. 1rrears were fast mounting u!, so much so that it seemed
im!ossible for me, however much * might try, to co!e with !rofessional and !ublic
wor#. * was 3uite willing to engage a 6uro!ean cler#, but * was not sure to get a white
man or woman to serve a coloured man li#e myself. )owever * decided to try. *
a!!roached a ty!ewriter7s agent whom * #new, and as#ed him to get me a
stenogra!her. There were girls available, and he !romised to try to secure the sevices
of one. )e came across a Scotch girl called Miss "ic#, who had ,ust come fresh from
Scotland. She had no ob,ection to earning an honest livelihood, wherever available,
and she was in need. So the agent sent her on to me. She immediately !re!ossessed
me.
7"on7t you mind serving under an *ndian@7 * as#ed her.
7%ot at all,7 was her firm re!ly..
75hat salary do you e&!ect 7 75ould L9FM9A be too much@7 7%ot too much if you will
give me the wor# * want from you.
5hen can you ,oin@7 7This moment, if you wish.7 * was very !leased and straightaway
started dictating letters to her. Before very long she became more a daughter or a
sister to me than a mere stenoty!ist. * had scarcely any reason to find fault with her
wor#. She was often entrusted with the management of funds amounting to thousands
of !ounds, and she was in charge of account boo#s. She won my com!lete confidence,
but what was !erha!s more, she confided to me her innermost thoughts and feelings.
She sought my advice in the final choice of her husband, and * had the !rivilege to
give her away in marriage. 1s soon as Miss "ic# became Mrs.
Macdonald, she had to leave me, but even after her marriage she did not fail to
res!ond, whenever under !ressure * made a call u!on her.
But a !ermanent stenoty!ist was now needed in her !lace, and * was fortunate in
getting another girl. She was Miss Schlesin, introduced to me by Mr. Kallenbach, whom
the reader will #now in due course. She is at !resent a teacher in one of the )igh
Schools in the Transvaal.9 She was about seventeen when she came to me. Some of
her idiosyncrasies were at times too much for Mr. Kallenbach and me. She had come
less to wor# as a stenoty!ist than to gain e&!erience. -olour !re,udice was foreign to
her tem!erament. She seemed to mind neither age nor e&!erience. She would not
hesitate even to the !oint of insulting a man and telling him to his face what she
thought of him.8 )er im!etuosity often landed me in difficulties, but her o!en and
guileless tem!erament removed them as soon as they were created. * have often
signed without revision letters ty!ed by her, as * considered her 6nglish to be better
than mine, and had the fullest confidence in her loyalty.
)er sacrifice was great. 0or a cosniderable !eriod she did not draw more than L;, and
refused ever to receive more than L9A a month. 5hen * urged her to ta#e more, she
would give me a scolding and say, 7* am not here to draw a salary from you. * am here
becasue * li#e to wor# with you and * li#e your ideals.7 She had once an occasion to
ta#e LEA from me, but she insisted on having it as a loan, and re!aid the full amount
last year.D )er courage was e3ual to her sacrifice. She is one of the few women * have
been !rivileged to come across, with a character as clear as crystal and courage that
would shame a warrior. She is a grown/u! woman now. * do not #now her mind 3uite
as well as when she was with me, but my contact with this young lady will ever be for
me a sacred recollection.
* would therefore be false to truth if * #e!t bac# what * #now about her.
9 *n =oung *ndia, 99/:/9<8F, this sentence read ' 7She is at !resent at the head of a
girls7 school in the Transvaal7, The correction was made at the instance of Miss
Schlesin, >S.%. 9GAD<, 9GAEA and 9GAE9?C vide 71 -orrection7, $une 8:, 9<8:.
8 *n her letters, Miss Schlesin s!o#e of Gandhi,i7s 7wretched autobiogra!hy7, his
7breaches of confidence7, 7unholy misre!resentations7, 7caddishness7, etc. *n his letter
of $uly 9G, 9<8:, to Manilal and Sushila Gandhi, Gandhi,i remar#ed ' 7* follow what
you say about Miss Schlesin. But then, isn7t she half cra2y @ She has written a sort of
wild letter even to me.7 .ide 74etter to Manilal and Sushila Gandhi7, $uly 9G, 9<8:.
D Miss Schlesin, in her letters, stated that she had demanded, as a matter of right,
and obtained a loan of L9GAC and that she had re!aid L99A to Gandhi,i and the
balance of LEA to +ustom,ee, a!!arently after an interval of over ten years.
She #new neither night nor day in toiling for the cause. She ventured out on errands
in the dar#ness of the night all by herself, and angrily scouted any suggestion of an
escort. Thousands of stalwart *ndians loo#ed u! to her for guidance. 5hen during the
satyagraha days almost every one of the leaders was in ,ail, she led the movement
single/handed. She had the management of thousands, a tremendous amount of
corres!ondence and *ndian !inion in her hands, but she never wearied.
* could go on without end writing thus about Miss Schlesin, but * shall conclude this
cha!ter with citing Go#hale7s estimate of her.
Go#hale #new every one of my co/wor#ers. )e was !leased with many of them, and
would often give his o!inion of them. )e gave the first !lace to Miss Schlesin amongst
all the *ndian and 6uro!ean co wor#ers. 7* have rarely met with the sacrifice, the
!urity and the fearlessness * have seen in Miss Schlesin,7 said he. 71mongst you co
wor#ers, she ta#es the first !lace in my estimation.,
CHAPTER )III *INDIAN !PINI!N*
Before * !roceed with the other intimate 6uro!ean contacts, * must note two or three
items of im!ortance. ne of the contracts, however, should be mentioned at once.
The a!!ointment of Miss "ic# was not enough for my !ur!ose. * needed more
assistance. * have in the earlier cha!ters referred to Mr. +itch. * #new him well. )e
was manager in a commercial firm. )e a!!roved my suggestion of leaving the firm
and getting articled under me, and he considerably lightened my burden.
1bout this time9 S,t. Madan,it a!!roached me with a !ro!osal to start *ndian !inion
and sought my advice. )e had already been conducting a !ress, and * a!!roved of his
!ro!osal. The ,ournal was launched in 9<AE and S,t. Mansu#hlal %aa2ar became the
first editor.
But * had to bear the brunt of the wor#, having for most of the time to be !ractically
in charge of the ,ournal. %ot that S,t. Mansu#hlal could not carry it on. )e had been
doing a fair amount of ,ournalism whilst in *ndia, but he would never venture to write
on intricate South 1frican !roblems so long as * was there. )e had the greatest
confidence in my discernment, and therefore threw on me the 9 The first issue of
*ndian !inion was !ublished on $une E, 9<AD by Madan,it .yavahari#, a co/wor#er of
Gandhi,iC Gandhi,i too# over the management of the wee#ly in ctober 9<AE, vide
7Tribute to Madan,it7, ctober 9G, 9<AEC the !ress was shifted to Phoeni& in "ecember
9<AEC for Gandhi,i7s statement of the financial !osition of *ndian !inion, vide 7
7*ndian !inion7 7, 1!ril 8D, 9<A;. res!onsibility of attending to the editorial columns.
The ,ournal has been until this day a wee#ly. *n the beginning, it used to be issued in
Gu,arati, )indi, Tamil and 6nglish. * saw, however, that the Tamil and )indi sections
were a ma#e/believe. They did not serve the !ur!ose for which they were intended,
so * discontinued them as * even felt that there would be a certain amount of
dece!tion involved in their continuance.
* had no notion that * should have to invest any money in this ,ournal, but * soon
discovered that it could not go on without my financial hel!. The *ndians and the
6uro!eans both #new that, though * was not avowedly the editor of *ndian !inion, *
was virtually res!onsible for its conduct. *t would not have mattered if the ,ournal
had never been started, but to sto! it after it had once been launched would have
been both a loss and a disgrace. So * #e!t on !ouring out my money, until ultimately *
was !ractically sin#ing all my savings in it. * remember a time when * had to remit LFG
each month.
But after all these years * feel that the ,ournal has served the community well. *t was
never intended to be a commercial concern.
So long as it was under my control, the changes in the ,ournal were indicative of
changes in my life. *ndian !inion in those days, li#e =oung *ndia and %ava,ivan today,
was a mirror of !art of my life.
5ee# after wee# * !oured out my soul in its columns, and e&!ounded the !rinci!les
and !ractice of satyagraha as * understood it. "uring ten years, that is, unitl 9<9E,
e&ce!ting the intervals of my enforced rest in !rison, there was hardly an issue of
*ndian !inion without an article from me. * cannot recall a word in those articles set
down without thought or deliberation or a word of conscious e&aggeration, or
anything merely to !lease. *ndeed the ,ournal became for me a training in self/
restraint, and for friends a medium through which to #ee! in touch with my thoughts.
The critic found very little to which he could ob,ect. *n fact the tone of *ndian
!inion com!elled the critic to !ut a curb on his own !en. Satyagraha would !robably
have been im!ossible without *ndian !inion. The readers loo#ed forward to it for a
trustworthy account of the satyagraha cam!aign as also of the real condition of
*ndians in South 1frica. 0or me it became a means for the study of human nature in all
its casts and shades, as * always aimed at establishing an intimate and clean bond
between the editor and the readers, * was inundated with letters containing the
out!ourings of my corres!ondents7 hearts. They were friendly, critical or bitter,
according to the tem!er of the writer. *t was a fine education for me to study, digest
and answer all this corres!ondence.
*t was as though the community thought audibly through this corr es!ondence with
me. *t made me thoroughly understand the res! onsibility of a ,ournalist, and the hold
* secured in this way over the community made the future cam!aign wor#able,
dignified and irresistible.
*n the very first month of *ndian !inion, * reali2ed that the sole aim of ,ournalism
should be service. The news!a!er Press is a great !ower, but ,ust as an unchained
torrent of water submerges whole countrysides and devastates cro!s, even so an
uncontrolled !en serves but to destory. *f the control is from without, it !roves more
!oisonous than want of control. *t can be !rofitable only when e&ercised from within.
*f this line of reasoning is correct, how many of the ,ournals in the world would stand
the test@ But who would sto! those that are useless@ 1nd who should be the ,udge@
The useful and the useless must, li#e good and evil generally, go on together, and man
must ma#e his choice.
CHAPTER )I(
-4*6 4-1T*%S + G)6TT6S @
Some of the classes which render us the greatest social service, but which we )indus
have chosen to regard as 7untouchables7, are relegated to remote 3uarters of a town
or a village, called in Gu,arati dhedvado, and the name has ac3uired a bad odour.
6ven so in -hristian 6uro!e the $ews were once 7untouchables7, and the 3uarters that
were assigned to them had the offensive name of 7ghettoes7. *n a similar way today
we have become the untouchables of South 1frica.
*t remains to be seen how far the sacrifice of 1ndrews and the magic wand of Shastri
succeed in rehabilitating us.9 The ancient $ews regarded themselves as the chosen
!eo!le of God to the e&clusion of all others, with the result that their desc endants
were visited with a strange and even un,ust retribu tion.
1lmost in a similar way the )indus have considered them selves 1ryas or civili2ed, and
a section of their own #ith and #in as 1naryas or untouchables, with the result that a
strange, if un,ust, nemesis is being visited not only u!on the )indus in South 1frica,
but the Mussalmans and Parsis as well, inasmuch as they belong to the same country
and have the same colour as their )indu brethren.
The reader will have now reali2ed to some e&tent the meaning of the word 7locations7
with which * have headed this cha!ter. *n South 1frica we have ac3uired the odious
name of 7coolies7. The word 7coolie7 in *ndia means only a !orter or hired wor#man,
but in South 1frica it has contem!tuous connotation. *t means what a !ariah or an
untouchable means to us, and the 3uarters assigned to the 7coolie7 are 9 .. S.
Srinivasa Sastri was a!!ointed 1gent/General of the Government of *ndia in South
1frica in May 9<8F. #nown as 7coolie locations7. $ohannesburg had one such location,
but unli#e other !laces with locations where the *ndians had tenancy rights, in the
$ohannesburg location the *ndians had ac3uired their !lots on a lease of << years.
Peo!le were densely !ac#ed in the location, the area of which never increased with
the increase in !o!ulation. Beyond arranging to clean the latrines in the location in a
ha!ha2ard way, the Munici!ality did nothing to !rovide any sanitary facilities, much
less good roads or lights. *t was hardly li#ely that it would safeguard its sanitation,
when it was indifferent to the welfare of the residents. These were too ignorant of
the rules of munici!al sanitation and hygiene to do without the hel! or su!ervision of
the Munici!ality. *f those who went there had all been +obinson -rusoes, theirs would
have been a different story. But we do not #now of a single emigrant colony of
+obinson -rusoes in the world. Usually !eo!le migrate abroad in search of wealth and
trade, but the bul# of the *ndians who went to South 1frica were ignorant, !au!er
agriculturists, who needed all the care and !rotection that could be given them. The
traders and educated *ndians who followed them were very few.
The criminal negligence of the Munici!ality and the ignorance of the *ndian settlers
thus cons!ired to render the location thorou ghly insanitary. The Munici!ality, far
from doing anything to im!rove the condition of the location, used the insanitation
caused by their own neglect as a !rete&t for destroying the location, and for that
!ur!ose obtained from the local legislature authority to dis!ossess the settlers. This
was the condition of things when * settled in $ohannessburg.
The settlers, having !ro!rietary rights in their land, were naturally entitled to
com!ensation. 1 s!ecial tribunal was a!!ointed to try the land ac3uisition cases. *f
the tenant was not !re!ared to acce!t the offer of the Munici!ality, he had a right to
a!!eal to the tribunal, and if the latter7s award e&ceeded the Munici!ality7s offer, the
Munici!ality had to bear the costs.
Most of the tenants engaged me as their legal adviser. * had no desire to ma#e money
out of these cases, so * told the tenants that * should be satisfied with whatever costs
the tribunal awarded, in case they won, and a fee of L9A on every lease, irres!ective
of the result of the case. * also told them that * !ro!osed to set a!art half of the
money !aid by them for the builing of a hos!ital or similar institution for the !oor.
This naturally !leased them all.
ut of about FA cases only one was lost. So the fees amounted to a fairly big figure.
But *ndian !inion was there with its !ersistent claim and devoured, so far as * can
recollect, a sum of L9,;AA. * had wor#ed hard for these cases. The clients always
surrounded me. Most of them were originally indentured labourers from Bihar and its
neighbourhood and from South *ndia. 0or the redress of their !eculiar grievances they
had formed an association of their own, se!arate from that of the free *ndian
merchants and traders. Some of them were o!en/hearted, liberal men and had high
character. Their leaders were S,t. $airamsing, the !resident, and S,t. Badri, who was
as good as the !resident. Both of them are now no more. They were e&ceedingly
hel!ful to me. S,t. Badri came in very close contact with me and too# a !rominent
!art in satyagraha. Through these and other friends * came in intimate contact with
numerous *ndian settlers from %orth and South *ndia. * became more their brother
than a mere legal adviser, and shared in all their !rivate and !ublic sorrows and
hardshi!s.
*t may be of some interest to #now how the *ndians used to name me. 1bdulla Sheth
refused to address me as Gandhi. %one, fortunately, ever insulted me by calling or
regarding me as 7saheb7.
1bdulla Sheth hit u!on a fine a!!ellation/7bhai7, i.e., brother.
thers followed him and continued to address me as 7bhai7 until the moment * left
South 1frica. There was a sweet flavour about the name when it was used by the e&/
indentured *ndians.
CHAPTER )(
T)6 B41-K P41GU6/*
The *ndians were not removed from the location as soon as the Munici!ality secured
its ownershi!. *t was necessary to find the resi dents suitable new 3uarters before
dislodging them, but as the Munici!ality could not easily do this, the *ndians were
suffered to stay in the same 7dirty7 location, with this difference that their condition
became worse than before. )aving ceased to be !ro!rietors they became tenants of
the Munici!ality, with the result that their surr oundings became more insanitary than
ever. 5hen they were !ro !rietors, they had to maintain some sort of cleanliness, if
only for fear of the law. The Munici!ality had no such fearB The number of ten ants
increased, and with them the s3ualor and the disorder.
5hile the *ndians were fretting over this state of things, there was a sudden outbrea#
of the blac# !lague, also called !neumonic !lague, more terrible and fatal than the
bubonic.
0ortunately it was not the location but one of the gold mines in the vicinity of
$ohannesburg that was res!onsible for the outbrea#.
The wor#ers in this mine were for the most !art %egroes, for whose cleanliness their
white em!loyers were solely res!onsible. There were a few *ndians also wor#ing in
connection with the mine, twenty/three of whom suddenly caught the infection, and
returned one evening to their 3uarters in the location with an acute attac# of the
!lague. S,t.
Madan,it, who was then canvassing subscribers for *ndian !inion and reali2ing
subscri!tions, ha!!ened to be in the location at this moment. )e was a remar#ably
fearless man. )is heart we!t to see these victims of the scourge, and he sent a
!encil/note to me to the following effect ' 7There has been a sudden outbrea# of the
blac# !lague. =ou must come immediately and ta#e !rom!t measures, otherwise we
must be !re!ared for dire conse3uences. Please come immediately.7 S,t. Madan,it
bravely bro#e o!en the loc# of a vacant house, and !ut all the !atients there. * cycled
to the location, and wrote to the Town -ler# to inform him of the circumstances in
which we had ta#en !ossession of the house.
"r. 5illiam Godfrey, who was !ractising in $ohannesburg, ran to the rescue as soon as
he got the news, and became both nurse and doctor to the !atients. But twenty/three
!atients were more than three of us could co!e with.
*t is my faith, based on e&!erience, that if one7s heart is !ure, calamity brings in its
train men and measures to fight it. * had at that time four *ndians in my office/S,ts.
Kalyandas, Mane#lal, Gun vantrai "esai and another whose name * cannot recollect.
Kalyandas had been entrusted to me by his father. *n South 1frica * have rarely come
across anyone more obliging and willing to render im!licit obedience than Kalyandas.
0ortunately he was unmarried then, and * did not hestitate to im!ose on him duties
involving ris#s, however great. Mane#lal * had secured in $ohannesburg. )e too, so far
as * can remember, was unmarried. So * decided to sacrifice all four/call them cler#s,
co/wor#ers or sons. There was no need at all to consult Kalyandas. The others
e&!ressed their readiness as soon as they were as#ed. 75here you are, we will also
be,7 was their short and sweet re!ly.Mr. +itch had a large family. )e was ready to ta#e
the !lunge, but * !revented him. * had not the heart to e&!ose him to the ris#. So he
attended to the wor# outside the danger 2one.9 *t was a terrible night/that night of
vigil and nursing. * had nursed a number of !atients before, but never any attac#ed by
the blac# !lague. "r. Godfrey7s !luc# !roved infectious. There was not much nursing
re3uired. To give them their doses of medicine, to attend to their wants, to #ee!
them and their beds clean and tidy, and to cheer them u! was all that we had to do.
9 .ide 7S!eech at 0arewell to 4. 5. +itch7, March <, 9<AG.
The indefatigable 2eal fearlessness with which the youths wor#ed re,oiced me beyond
measure. ne could understand the bravery of "r. Godfrey and of an e&!erienced man
li#e S,t. Madan,it.
But the s!irit of these callow youths B So far as * can recollect, we !ulled all the
!atients through that night.But the whole incident, a!art from its !athos, is of such
absorbing interest, and for me, of such religious value, that * must devote to it at
least two more cha!ters.
CHAPTER )(I
T)6 B41-K P41GU6/**
The Town -ler# e&!ressed his gratitude to me for having ta#en charge of the vacant
house and the !atients. )e fran#ly confessed that the Town -ouncil had no immediate
means to co!e with such an emergency, but !romised that they would render all the
hel! in their !ower. nce awa#ened to a sense of their duty, the Munici!ality made no
delay in ta#ing !rom!t measures.
The ne&t day they !laced a vacant godown at my dis!osal, and suggested that the
!atients be removed there, but the Munici!ality did not underta#e to clean the
!remises. The building was un#em!t and unclean. 5e cleaned it u! ourselves, raised a
few beds and other necessaries through the offices of charitable *ndians, and
im!rovised a tem!orary hos!ital. The Minici!ality lent the services of a nurse, who
came with brandy and other hos!ital e3ui!ment. "r. Godfrey still remained in charge.
The nurse was a #indly lady and would fain have attended to the !atients, but we
rarely allowed her to touch them, lest she should catch the contagion.
5e had instructions to give the !atients fre3uent doses of brandy. The nurse even
as#ed us to ta#e it for !recaution, ,ust as she was doing herself. But none of us would
touch it. * had no faith in its beneficial effect even for the !atients. 5ith the
!ermission of "r.
Godfrey, * !ut three !atients, who were !re!ared to do without brandy, under the
earth treatment, a!!lying wet earth bandages to their heads and chests. Two of these
were saved. The other twenty died in the godown.
Meanwhile the Munici!ality was busy ta#ing other measures.
There was a la2aretto for contagious diseases about seven miles from $ohannesburg.
The two surviving !atients were removed to tents near the la2aretto, and
arrangements were made for sending any fresh cases there. 5e were thus relieved of
our wor#.
*n the course of a few days we learnt that the good nurse had had an attac# and
immediately succumbed. *t is im!ossible to say how the two !atients were saved and
how we remained immune, but the e&!erience enhanced my faith in earth treatment,
as also my sce!ticism of the efficacy of brandy, even as a medicine. * #now that
neither this faith nor this sce!ticism is based u!on any solid grounds, but * still retain
the im!ression which then received, and have therefore thought it necessary to
mention it here.
n the outbrea# of the !lague, * had addressed a strong letter9 to the Press, holding
the Munici!ality guilty of negligence after the location came into its !ossession and
res!onsible for the outbrea# of the !lague itself. This letter secured me Mr. )enry
Pola#, and was !artly res!onsible for the freindshi! of the late +ev. $ose!h "o#e.
* have said in an earlier cha!ter that * used to have my meals at a vegetarian
restaurant. )ere * met Mr. 1lbert 5est. 5e used to meet in this restaurant every
evening and go out wal#ing after dinner. Mr.
5est was a !artner in a small !rinting concern. )e read my letter in the Press about
the outbrea# of the !lague and, not finding me in the restaurant, felt uneasy.
My co/wor#ers and * had reduced our diet since the outbrea#, as * had long made it a
rule to go on a light diet during e!idemics. *n these days * had therefore given u! my
evening dinner. 4unch also * would finish before the other guests arrived. * #new the
!ro!rietor of the restaurant very well, and * had informed him that, as * was engaged
in nursing the !lague !atients, * wanted to avoid the contact of friends as much as
!ossible.
%ot finding me in the restaurant for a day or two, Mr. 5est #noc#ed at my door early
one morning ,ust as * was getting ready to go out for a wal#. 1s * o!ened the door Mr.
5est said ' 7* did not find you in the restaurant and was really afraid lest something
should have ha!!ened to you. So * decided to come and see you in the morning in
order to ma#e sure of finding you at home. 5ell, here * am at your dis!osal. * am
ready to hel! in nursing the !atients. =ou #now that * have no one de!ending on me.7 *
e&!ressed my gratitude, and without ta#ing even a second to thin#, re!lied ' 7* will
not have you as a nurse. *f there are no more cases we shall be free in a day or two.
There is one thing however.7 7=es, what is it@7 7-ould you ta#e charge of the *ndian
!inion !ress at "urban@ Mr. Madan,it is li#ely to be engaged here and someone is
needed at "urban. *f you could go, * should feel 3uite relieved on that score.7 9 .ide
74etter to the $ohannesburg Press7, 1!ril G, 9<AE.
7=ou #now that * have a !ress. Most !robably * shall be able to go, but may * give my
final re!ly in the evening@ 5e shall tal# it over during our evening wal#.7 * was
delighted. 5e had the tal#. )e agreed to go. Salary was no consideration to him, as
money was not his motive. But a salary of L9A !er month and a !art of the !rofits, if
any, was fi&ed u!. The very ne&t day Mr. 5est left for "urban by the evening mail,
entrusting me with the recovery of his dues. 0rom that day until the time * left the
shores of South 1frica, he remained a !artner of my ,oys and sorrows.
Mr. 5est belonged to a !easant family in 4outh >4incolnshire?.
)e had had an ordinary school education, but had learnt a good deal in the school of
e&!erience and by dint of self/hel!. * have always #nown him to be a !ure, sober,
godfearing, humane 6nglishman.
5e shall #now more of him and his family in the cha!ters to follow.
CHAPTER )(II
4-1T*% *% 041M6S
Though my co/wor#ers and * were relieved of the charge of the !atients, there
remained many things arising out of the blac# !lague still to be dealt with.
* have referred to the negligence of Munici!ality regarding the location. But it was
wide awa#e so far as the health of its white citi2ens was concerned. *t had s!ent large
amounts for the !reservation of their health and now it !oured forth money li#e
water in order to stam! out the !lague. *n s!ite of the many sins of omission and
commission against the *ndians that * had laid at the door of the Munici!ality, * could
not hel! commending its solicitude for the white citi2ens, and * rendered it as much
hel! as * could in its laudable efforts. * have an im!ression that, if * had withheld my
co/o!eration, the tas# would have been more difficult for the Munici!ality, and that it
would not have hesitated to use armed force and do its worst.
But all that was averted. The Munici!al authorities were !leased at the *ndian7s
behaviour, and much of the future wor# regarding !lague measures was sim!lified. *
used all the influence * could command with the *ndians to ma#e them submit to the
re3uirements of the Munici!ality. *t was far from easy for the *ndians to go all that
length, but * do not remember anyone having resisted my advice.
The location was !ut under a strong guard, !assage in and out being made im!ossible
without !ermission. My co/wor#ers and * had free !ermits of entry and e&it. The
decision was to ma#e the whole location !o!ulation vacate, and live under canvas for
three wee#s in an o!en !lain about thirteen miles from $ohan/nesburg, and then to
set fire to the location. To settle down under canvas with !rovisions and other
necessaries was bound to ta#e some time, and a guard became necessary during the
interval.
The !eo!le were in a terrible fright, but my constant !resence was a consolation to
them. Many of the !oor !eo!le used to hoard their scanty savings underground. This
had to be unearthed. They had no ban#, they #new none. * became their ban#er.
Streams of money !oured into my office. * could not !ossibly charge my fees for my
labours in such a crisis. * co!ed with the wor# somehow. * #new my ban# manager very
well. * told him that * should have to de!osit these moneys with him. The ban#s were
by no means an&ious to acce!t large amounts of co!!er and silver. There was also the
fear of ban# cler#s refusing to touch money coming from a !lague/affected area.
But the manager accommodated me in every way. *t was decided to disinfect all the
money before sending it to the ban#. So far as * can remember, nearly si&ty thousand
!ounds were thus de!osited. * advised such of the !eo!le as had enough money to
!lace it as fi&ed de!osit, and they acce!ted the advice. The result was some of them
became accustomed to invest their money in ban#s.
The location residents were removed by s!ecial train to Kli!s!ruit 0arm near
$ohannesburg, where they were su!!lied with !rovisions by the Munici!ality at !ublic
e&!ense. This city under canvas loo#ed li#e a military cam!. The !oe!le who were
unac customed to this cam! life were distressed and astonished over the
arrangements, but they did not have to !ut u! with any !articular inconvenience. *
used to cycle out to them daily. 5ithin twenty/four hours of their stay they forgot all
their misery and began to live merrily. 5henever * went there * found them en,oying
themselves with song and mirth. Three wee#s7 stay in the o!en air evidently im!roved
their health.
So far as * recollect, the location was !ut to the flames on the very ne&t day after its
evacuation. The Munici!ality showed not the slightest inclination to save anything
from the conflagration. 1bout this very time, and for the same reason, the
Munici!ality burnt down all its timber in the mar#et, and sustained a loss of some ten
thousand !ounds. The reason for this drastic ste! was the discovery of some dead rats
in the mar#et.
The Munici!ality had to incur heavy e&!enditure, but it successfully arrested the
further !rogress of the !lague, and the city once more breathed freely.
CHAPTER )(III
T)6 M1G*- SP644 0 1 BK
The blac# !lague enhanced my influence with the !oor *ndians, and increased my
business and my res!onsibility. Some of the new contacts with 6uro!eans became so
close that they added considerably to my moral obligations.
* made the ac3uaintance of Mr. Pola# in the vegetarian restaurant, ,ust as * had made
that of Mr. 5est. ne evening a young man dining at a table a little way off sent me
his card e&!ressing a desire to see me. * invited him to come to my table, which he
did.
7* am sub/editor of The -ritic7, he said. 75hen * read your letter to the Press about the
!lague, * felt a strong desire to see you. * am glad to have this o!!ortunity.7 Mr.
Pola#7s candour drew me to him. The same evening we got to #now each other. 5e
seemed to hold closely similar views on the essential things of life. )e li#ed sim!le
life. )e had a wonderful faculty of translating into !ractice anything that a!!ealed to
his intellect. Some of the changes that he had made in his life were as !rom!t as they
were radical.
*ndian !inion was getting more and more e&!ensive every day. The very first re!ort
from Mr. 5est was alarming. )e wrote ' 7* do not e&!ect the concern to yield the
!rofit that you had thought !robable. * am afraid there my be even a loss. The boo#s
are not in order. There are heavy arrears to be recovered, but one cannot ma#e head
or tail of them. -onsiderable overhauling will have to be done.
But all this need not alarm you. * shall try to !ut things right as best * can. * remain
on, whether there is !rofit or not.7 Mr. 5est might have left when he discovered that
there was no !rofit, and * could not have blamed him. *n fact, he had a right to
arraign me for having described the concern as !rofitable without !ro!er !roof. But
he never so much as uttered one word of com!laint.
* have, however, an im!ression that this discovery led Mr. 5est to regard me as
credulous. * had sim!ly acce!ted S,t. Madan,it7s estimate without caring to e&amine
it, and told Mr. 5est to e&!ect a !rofit.* now reali2e that a !ublic wor#er should not
ma#e statements of which he has not made sure. 1bove all, a votary of truth must
e&ercise the greatest caution. To allow a man to believe a thing which one has not
fully verified is to com!romise truth. * am !ained to have to confess that, in s!ite of
this #now ledge, * have not 3uite con3uered my credulous habit, for which my
ambition to do more wor# than * can manage is res!onsible. This ambition has often
been a source of worry more to my co/wor#ers than to myself.
n recei!t of Mr. 5est7s letter * left for %atal. * had ta#en Mr.
Pola# into my fullest confidence. )e came to see me off at the station, and left with
me a boo# to read during the ,ourney, which he said * was sure to li#e. *t was +us#in7s
Unto This 4ast.
The boo# was im!ossible to lay aside, once * had begun it. *t gri!!ed me.
$ohannesburg to "urban was a twenty/four hours7 ,ourney. The train reached there in
the evening. * could not get any slee! that night. * determined to change my life in
accordance with the ideals of the boo#.
This was the first boo# of +us#in * had ever read. "uring days of my education * had
read !ractically nothing outside te&t/boo#s, and after * launched into active life * had
very little time for reading. * cannot therefore claim much boo# #nowledge. )owever,
* believe * have not lost much because of this enforced restraint. n the contrary, the
limited reading may be said to have enabled me thoroughly to digest what * did read.
f these boo#s, the one that brought about an instantaneous and !ractical
transformation in my life was Unto This 4ast. * translated it later into Gu,arati,
entitling it Sarvodaya9 >the welfare of all?.
* believe that * discovered some of my dee!est convictions reflected in this great boo#
of +us#in, and that is why it so ca!tured me and made me transform my life. 1 !oet is
one who can call forth the good latent in the human breast. Poets do not influence all
ali#e, for everyone is not evolved in an e3ual measure.
The teachings of Unto This 4ast * understood to be ' 9. That the good of the individual
is contained the good of all.
8. That a lawyer7s wor# has the same value as the barber7s inasmuch as all have the
same right of earning their livelihood from their wor#.
D. That a life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is
the life worth living.
The first of these * #new. The second * had dimly reali2ed. The third had never
occurred to me. Unto This 4ast made it as clear as daylight for me that the second
and the third were contained in the first. * arose with the dawn, ready to reduce
these !rinci!les to !ractice.
CHAPTER )I)
T)6 P)6%*I S6TT46M6%T
* tal#ed over the whole thing with Mr. 5est, described to him 9 *t was !ublished in
*ndian !inion in instalments during May/$uly, 9<A: the effect Unto This 4ast had
!roduced on my mind, and !ro!osed that *ndian !inion should be removed to a farm,
on which everyone should labour, drawing the same living wage, and attending to the
!ress wor# in s!are time. Mr. 5est a!!roved of the !ro!osal, and LD was laid down as
the monthly allowance !er head, irres!ective of colour or nationality.
But it was a 3uestion whether all the ten or more wor#ers in the !ress would agree to
go and settle on an out/of/the/way farm, and be satisfied with bare maintenance. 5e
therefore !ro!osed that those who could not fit in with the scheme should continue
to draw their salaries and gradually try to reach the ideal of becoming members of
the Settlement.
* tal#ed to the wor#ers in the terms of this !ro!osal. *t did not a!!eal to S,t.
Madan,it, who considered my !ro!osal to be foolish and held that it would ruin a
venture on which he had sta#ed his allC that the wor#ers would bolt, *ndian !inion
would come to a sto!, and the !ress would have to be closed down.
1mong the men wor#ing in the !ress was -hhaganlal Gandhi9, one of my cousins. *
had !ut the !ro!osal to him at the same time as to 5est. )e had a wife and children,
but he had from childhood chosen to be trained and to wor# under me. )e had full
faith in me.
So without any argument he agreed to the scheme and has been with me ever since.
The machinist Govindaswami also fell in with the !ro!osal. The rest did not ,oin the
scheme, but agreed to go wherever * removed the !ress.
* do not thin# * too# more than two day to fi& u! these matters with the men.
Thereafter * at once advertised for a !iece of land situated near a railway station in
vicinity of "urban. 1n offer came in res!ect of Phoeni&. Mr. 5est and * went to in!ect
the estate. 5ithin a wee# we !urchased twenty acres of land. *t had a nice little
s!ring and a few orange and mango trees. 1d,oining it was a !iece of :A acres which
had many more fruit trees and a dila!idated cottage. 5e !urchased this too, the total
cost being a thousand !ounds.
The late Mr. +ustom,i always su!!orted me in such enter!rises.
)e li#ed the !ro,ect. )e !laced at my dis!osal secondhand corr ugated iorn sheets of
a big godown and other building material, with which we started wor#. Some *ndian
car!enters and masons, who had wor#ed with me in the Boer 5ar, hel!ed me in ere/
cting a shed for the !ress. This structure, which was FG feet long and GA feet broad,
was ready in less than a month. Mr. 5est and others, at great !ersonal ris#, 9
-hhaganlal is the son of Gandhi,i7s cousin. stayed with the car!enters and masons.
The !lace, un/inhabited and thic#ly overgrown with grass, was infested with sna#es
and obviously dangerous to live in. 1t first all lived under canvas. 5e carted most of
our things to Phoeni& in about a wee#. *t was fourteen miles from "urban, and two
and a half miles from Phoeni& station.9 nly one issue of *ndian !inion had to be
!rinted outside, in the Mercury Press.
* now endeavoured to draw to Phoeni& those relations and frien ds who had come with
me from *ndia to try their fortune, and who were engaged in business of various #inds.
They had come in search of wealth, and it was therefore difficult to !ersuade themC
but some agreed. f these * can single out here only Maganlal Gandhi7s name.
The others went bac# to business. Maganlal Gandhi left his business for good to cast in
his lot with me, and by ability, sacrifice and devotion stands foremost among my
original co/wor#ers in my ethical e&!eriments. 1s a self/taught handicraftsman his
!lace among them is uni3ue.
Thus the Phoeni& Settlement was started in 9<AE,8 and there,in s!ite of numerous
odds, *ndian !inion continues to be !ublished.D But the initial difficulties, the
changes made, the ho!es and the disa!!ointments demand a se!arate cha!ter.
CHAPTER ))
T)6 0*+ST %*G)T
*t was no easy thing to issue the first number of *ndian !inion from Phoeni&. )ad *
not ta#en two !recautions, the first issue would have had to be dro!!ed or delayed.
The idea of having an engine to wor# the !ress had not a!!ealed to me. * had thought
that hand/!ower would be more in #ee!ing with an atmos!here where agricultural
wor# was also to be done by hand. But as the idea had not a!!eared feasible, we had
installed an oil/engine. * had, however, suggested to 5est to have something handy to
fall bac# u!on in case the engine failed. )e had therefore arranged a wheel which
could be wor#ed by hand. The si2e of the !a!er, that of a daily, was considered
unsuitable for an out/of/the/way !lace li#e Phoeni&. *t was reduced to foolsca! si2e,
so that, in case of emergency, co!ies might be struc# off with the hel! of treadle. *n
the initial stages, we all had to #ee! late hours before the day of !ublication.
6veryone, young and old, had to hel! 9 0or the announcement of the scheme, vide
7urselves7, "ecember 8E, 9<AE.
8 0or the aims of the Phoeni& Settlement, vide 7The Phoeni& Trust "eed7, Se!tember
9E, 9<98.
D *t sto!!ed !ublication in 9<;9.
in folding the sheets. 5e usually finished our wor# between ten o7cloc# and mid/
night. But the first night was unforgettable. The !ages were loc#ed, but the engine
refused to wor#. 5e had got out an engineer from "urban to !ut u! the engine and
set it going. )e and 5est tried their hardest, but in vain. 6veryone was an&ious. 5est,
in des!air, at last came to me, with tears in his eyes, and said, 7The engine will not
wor#, * am afraid we cannot issue the !a!er in time.7 7*f that is the case, we cannot
hel! it. %o use shedding tears. 4et us do whatever else is humanly !ossible. 5hat
about the handwheel@7 * said, comforting him.
75here have we the men to wor#@7he re!lied. 75e are not enough to co!e with the
,ob. *t re3uires relays of four men each, and our own men are all tired.7 Building wor#
had not yet been finished, so the car!enters were still with us. They were slee!ing on
the !ress floor. * said !ointing to them, 7But can7t we ma#e use of these car!enters@
1nd we may have a whole night of wor#. * thin# this device is still o!en to us.7 7* dare
not wa#e u! the car!enters. 1nd our men are really too tired,7 said 5est.
75ell, that7s for me to negotiate,7 said *.
7Then it is !ossible that we may get through the wor#,7 5est re!lied.
* wo#e u! the car!enters and re3uested their co/o!eration. They needed no !ressure.
They said, 7*f we cannot be called u!on in an emergency, what use are we@ =ou rest
yourselves and we will wor# the wheel. 0or us it is easy wor#.7 ur own men were of
course ready.
5est was greatly delighted and started singing a hymn as we get to wor#. * !artnered
the car!enters, all the rest ,oined turn by turn, and thus we went on until F a.m.
There was still a good deal to do. * therefore suggested to 5est that the engineer
might now be as#ed to get u! and try again to start the engine, so that if we
succeeded we might finish in time.
5est wo#e him u! and he immediately went into the engine room. 1nd lo and beholdB
The engine wor#ed almost as soon as he touched it. The whole !ress rang with !eals
of ,oy.7)ow can this be@ )ow is it that all our labours last night were of no avail, and
this morning it has been set going as though there were nothing wrong with it@7 *
en3uired.
7*t is difficult to say,7 said 5est or the engineer, * forget which.
Machines also sometimes seem to behave as though they re3uired rest li#e us.7 0or me
the failure of the engine had come as a test for us all, and its wor#ing in the nic# of
time as the fruit of our honest and earnest labours.
The co!ies were des!atched in time, and everyone was ha!!y. This initial insistence
ensured the regularity of the !a!er, and created an atmos!here of self/reliance in
Phoeni&. There came a time when we deliberately gave u! the use of the engine and
wor#ed with hand/!ower only. Those were, to my mind, the days of the highest moral
u!lift for Phoeni&.
CHAPTER ))I
P41K T1K6S T)6 P4U%G6
*t has always been my regret that, although * started the Settlement at Phoeni&, *
could stay there only for brief !eriods. My original idea had been gradually to retire
from !ractice, go and live at the Settlement, earn my livelihood by manual wor#
there, and find the ,oy of service in the fulfilment of Phoeni&. But it was not to be. *
have found by e&!erience that man ma#es his !lans to be often u!set by God, but at
the same time where the ultimate goal is the search of truth, no matter how a man7s
!lans are frustrated, the issue is never in,urious and often better than antici!ated.
The une&!ected turn that Phoeni& too# and the une&!ected ha!!enings were certainly
not in,urious, though it is difficult to say that they were better than our original
e&!ectations.
*n order to enable every one of us to ma#e a living by manual labour, we !arcelled out
the land round the !ress in !ieces of three acres each. ne of these fell to my lot. n
all these !lots we, much against our wish, built houses with corrugated iron. ur
desire had been to have mud huts thatched with straw or small bric# houses such as
would become ordinary !easants but it could not be. They would have been more
e&!ensive and would have meant more time, and everyone was eager to settle down
as soon as !ossible.
The editor was still Mansu#hlal %aa2ar. )e had not acce!ted the new scheme and was
directing the !a!er from "urban where there was a branch office for *ndian !inion.
Though we had !aid com!ositors, the idea was for every member of the Settlement to
learn ty!e/setting, the easiest, if the most tedious, of the !rocesses in a !rinting/
!ress.
Those, therefore, who did not already #now the wor# learnt it. * remained a dunce to
the last. Maganlal Gandhi sur!assed us all.
Though he had never before wor#ed in a !ress, he became an e&!ert com!ositor and
not only achieved great s!eed but, to my agreeable sur!rise, 3uic#ly mastered all the
other branches of !ress wor#. * have always thought that he was not conscious of his
own ca!acity.
5e had hardly settled down, the buildings were hardly ready, when * had to leave the
newly constructed nest and go to $ohannesburg. * was not in a !osition to allow the
wor# there to remain without attention for any length of time.
n return to $ohannesburg, * informed Pola# of the im!ortant changes * had made. )is
,oy #new no bounds when he learnt that the loan of his boo# had been so fruitful. 7*s
it not !ossible,7 he as#ed, 7for me to ta#e !art in the new venture@7 7-ertainly,7 said *,
7=ou may if you li#e ,oin the Settlement.7 7* am 3uite ready,7 he re!lied 7if you will
admit me.7 )is determination ca!tured me. )e gave a month7s notice to his chief to
be relieved from The -ritic, and reached Phoeni& in due course. By his sociability he
won the hearts of all and soon became a member of the family. Sim!licity was so
much a !art of his nature that, far from feeling the life at Phoeni& in any way strange
or hard, he too# to it li#e a duc# ta#es to water. But * could not #ee! him there long.
Mr. +itch had decided to finish his legal studies in 6ngland, and it was im!ossible for
me to bear the burden of the office single handed, so * suggested to Pola# that he
should ,oin the office and 3ualify as an attorney. * had thought that ultimately both of
us would retire and settle at Phoeni&, but that never came to !ass. Pola#7s was such a
trustful nature that, when he re!osed his confidence in a friend, he would try to
agree with him instead of arguing with him. )e wrote to me from Phoeni& that though
he loved the life there, was !erfectly ha!!y, and had ho!es of develo!ing the
Settlement, still he was ready to leave and ,oin the office to 3ualify as an attorney, if
* thought that thereby we should more 3uic#ly reali2e our ideals. * heartily welcomed
the letter. Pola# left Phoeni&, came to $ohannesburg and signed his articles with me.
1bout the same time a Scotch theoso!hist, whom * had been coaching for a local legal
e&amination, also ,oined as an articled cler#, on my inviting him to follow Pola#7s
e&am!le. )is name was Mr.
Mac*ntyre. Thus, with the laudable ob,ect of 3uic#ly reali2ing the ideals at Phoeni&, *
seemed to be going dee!er and dee!er into a contrary current, and had God not
willed otherwise, * should have found myself entra!!ed in this net s!read in the name
of sim!le life.
*t will be after a few more cha!ters that * shall describe how * and my ideals were
saved in a way no one had imagined or e&!ected.
CHAPTER ))II
5)M G" P+T6-TS
* had now given u! all ho!e of returning to *ndia in the near future. * had !romised my
wife that * would return home within a year. The year was gone without any !ros!ect
of my return, so * decided to send for her and the children.
n the boat bringing them to South 1frica, +amdas, my third son, bro#e his arm while
!laying with the shi!7s ca!tain. The ca!tain loo#ed after him well and had him
attended to by the shi!7s doctor.
+amdas landed with his hand in a sling. The doctor had advised that, as soon as we
reached home, the wound should be dressed by a 3ualified doctor. But this was the
time when * was full of faith in my e&!eriments in earth treatment. * had even
succeeded in !ersuading some of my clients who had faith in my 3uac#ery to try the
earth and water treatment.
5hat then was * to do for +amdas @ )e was ,ust eight years old.
* as#ed him if he would mind my dressing his wound. 5ith a smile he said he did not
mind at all. *t was not !ossible for him at that age to decide what was the best thing
for him, but he #new very well the distinction between 3uac#ery and !ro!er medical
treatment. 1nd he #new my habit of home treatment and had faith enough to trust
himself to me. *n fear and trembling * undid the bandage, washed the wound, a!!lied
a clean earth !oultice and tied the arm u! again. This sort of dressing went on daily
for about a month until the wound was com!letely healed. There was no hitch, and
the wound too# no more time to heal than the shi!7s doctor had said it would under
the usual treatment.
This and other e&!eriments enhanced my faith in such household remedies, and * now
!roceeded with them with more self confidence. * widened the s!here of their
a!!lication, trying the earth and water and fasting treatment in cases of wounds,
fevers, dys!e!sia, ,aundice and other com!laints, with success on most occasions. But
nowadays * have not the confidence * had in South 1frica and e&!erience has even
shown that these e&!eriments involve obvious ris#s. The reference here, therefore, to
these e&!eriments is not meant to demonstrate their success. * cannot claim
com!lete success for any e&!eriment. 6ven medical men can ma#e no such claim for
their e&! eriments. My ob,ect is only to show that he who would go in for novel
e&!eriments must begin with himself. That leads to a 3uic#er discovery of truth, and
God always !rotects the honest e&!erimenter.
The ris#s involved in e&!eriments in cultivating intimate contacts with 6uro!eans
were as grave as those in the nature/cure e&! eriments. nly those ris#s were of a
different #ind. But in cultivating those contacts * never so much as thought of the
ris#s.
* invited Pola# to come and stay with me, and we began to live li#e blood/brothers.
The lady who was soon to be Mrs. Pola# and he had been engaged for some years, but
the marriage had been !os t!oned for a !ro!itious time. * have an im!ression that
Pola# wanted to !ut some money by before he settled down to a married life. )e
#new +us#in much better than *, but his 5estern surroundings were a bar against his
translating +us#in7s teacher immediately into !ractice.
But * !leaded with him ' 75hen there is a heart union, as in your case, it is hardly
right to !ost!one marriage merely for financial cons iderations. *f !roverty is a bar,
!oor men can never marry. 1nd then you are now staying with me. There is no
3uestion of household e&!enses. * thin# you should get married as soon as !ossible.7 1s
* have said in a !revious cha!ter, * had never to argue a thing twice with Pola#. )e
a!!reciated the force of my argument, and immediately o!ened corres!ondence on
the sub,ect with Mrs. Pola#, who was then in 6ngland. She gladly acce!ted the
!ro!osal and in a few months reached $ohannesburg. 1ny e&!ense over the wedding
was out of the 3uestion, not even a s!ecial dress was thought necessary. They needed
no religious rites to seal the bond. Mrs. Pola# was a -hristian by birth and Pola# a $ew.
Their common relligion was the religion of ethics.
* may mention in !assing an amusing incident in connection with this wedding. The
+egistrar of 6uro!ean marriages in the Transvaal could not register marriages between
blac# or coloured !eo!le. *n the wedding in 3uestion, * acted as the best man. %ot
that we could not have got a 6uro!ean friend for the !ur!ose, but Pola# would not
broo# the suggestion. So we three went to the +egistrar of marriages. )ow could he
be sure that the !arties to a marriage in which * acted as the best man would be
whites @ )e !ro!osed to !ost!one registration !ending in3uiries. The ne&t day was a
Sunday.
The day following was %ew =ear7s "ay, a !ublic holiday. To !ost!one to date of a
solemnly arranged wedding on such a flimsy !rete&t was more than one could !ut u!
with. * #new the -hief Magistrate, who was head of the +egistration "e!artment. So *
a!!eared before him with the cou!le. )e laughed and gave me a note to the +egistrar
and the marriage was duly registered.
U! to now the 6uro!eans living with us had been more or less #nown to me before.
But now an 6nglish lady who was an utter stranger to us entered the family. * do not
remember our ever having had a difference with the newly/married cou!le, but even
if Mrs. Pola# and my wife had some un!leasant e&!eriences, they would have been no
more than what ha!!en in the best/regulated homogeneous families. 1nd let it be
remembered that mine would be considered an essentially heterogeneous family,
where !eo!le of all #inds and tem!eraments were freely admitted. 5hen we come to
thin# of it, the distinction between heterogeneous and homogeneous is discovered to
be merely imaginary. 5e are all one family.
* had better celebrate 5est7s wedding also in this cha!ter. 1t this stage of my life, my
ideas about brahmacharya had not fully matured, and so * was interesting myself in
getting all my bachelor friends married. 5hen, in due course, 5est made a !ilgrimage
to 4outh to see his !arents * advised him to return married if !ossible. Phoeni& was
the common home, and as we were all su!!osed to have become farmers, we were
not afraid of marriage and its usual conse/3uences.
5est returned with Mrs. 5est, a beautiful young lady from 4eicester.
She came of a family of shoema#ers wor#ing in a 4eicester factory.
Mrs. 5est had herself some e&!erience of wor# in this factory. * have called her
beautiful, because it was her moral beauty that at once attracted me. True beauty
after all consists in !urity of heart. 5ith Mr.
5est had come his mother/in/law too. The old lady is still alive. She !ut us all to
shame by her industry and her buoyant, cheerful nature.
*n the same way as * !ersuaded these 6uro!ean friends to marry, * encouraged the
*ndian friends to send for their families from home.
Phoeni& thus develo!ed into a little village, half a do2en families having come and
settled and begun to increase there.
CHAPTER ))III
1 P66P *%T T)6 )US6)4"
*t has already been seen that, though household e&!enses were heavy, the tendency
towards sim!licity began in "urban. But the $ohannesburg house came in for much
severer overhauling in the light of +us#in7s teaching.
* introduced as much sim!licity as was !ossible in a barrister7s house. *t was
im!ossible to do without a certain amount of furniture.
The change was more internal than e&ternal. The li#ing for doing !ersonally all the
!hysical labour increased. * therefore began to bring my children also under that
disci!line.
*nstead of buying ba#er7s bread, we began to !re!are unleavened wholemeal bread at
home according to Kuhne7s reci!e.
-ommon mill flour was no good for this, and the use of handground flour, it was
thought, would ensure more sim!licity, health and economy. So * !urchased a hand/
mill for LF. The iron wheel was too heavy to be tac#led by one man, but easy for two.
Pola# and * and the children usually wor#ed it. My wife also occasionally lent a hand,
though the grinding hour was her usual time for commencing #itchen wor#. Mrs. Pola#
now ,oined us on her arrival. The grinding !roved a very beneficial e&ercise for the
children. %either this nor any other wor# was ever im!osed on them, but it was a
!astime to them to come lend a hand, and they were at liberty to brea# off whenever
tired. But the children, including those whom * shall have occasion to introduce later,
as a rule never failed me. %ot that * had no laggards at all, but most did their wor#
cheerfully enough. * can recall few youngsters in those days fighting shy of wor# or
!leading fatigue.
5e had engaged a servant to loo# after the house. )e lived with us as a member of
the family, and the children used to hel! him in his wor#. The munici!al swee!er
removed the night/soil, but we !ersonally atten/ded to the cleaning of the closet
instead of as#ing or e&!ecting the servant to do it. This !roved a good training for the
children. The result was that none of my sons develo!ed any aversion for scavenger7s
wor#, and they naturally got a good grounding in general sanitation. There was hardly
any illness in the home at $ohannesburg, but whenever there was any, the nursing was
willingly done by the children. * will not say that * was in/different to their literary
education, but * certainly did not hesitate to sacri/fice it. My sons have therefore
some reason for a grievance against me. *ndeed they have occasionally given
e&!ression to it, and * must !lead guilty to a certain e&tent. The desire to give them a
literary education was there. * even endeavoured to give it to them myself, but every
now and then there was some hitch or other. 1s * had made no other arrange ment for
their !rivate tuition, * used to get them to wal# with me daily to the office and bac#
home/a distance of about G miles in all. This gave them and me a fair amount of
e&ercise. * tried to instruct them by conversation during these wal#s, if there was no
one else claiming my attention. 1ll my children, e&ce!ting the eldest, )arilal, who
had stayed away in *ndia, were brought u! in $ohannesburg in this manner. )ad * been
able to devote at least an hour to their literary education with strict regularity, *
should have given them, in my o!inion, an ideal education. But it has been their, as
also my, regret that * failed to ensure them enough literary training. The eldest son
has often given vent to his distress !rivately before me and !ublicly in the PressC the
other sons have generously forgiven the failure as unavoidable. * am not heart/bro#en
over it and the regret, if any, is that * did not !rove an ideal father. But * hold that *
sacrificed their literary training to what * genuinely, though maybe wrongly, believed
to be service to the community. * am 3uite clear that * have not been negligent in
doing whatever was needful for building u! their character. * believe it is the bounden
duty of every !arent to !rovide for this !ro!erly. 5henever, in s!ite of my endeavour,
my sons have been found wanting, it is my certain conviction that they have
reflected, not want of care on my !art, but the defects of both their !arents.
-hildren inherit the 3ualities of the !arents, no less than their !hysical features.
6nvironment does !lay an im!ortant !art, but the original ca!ital on which a child
starts in life is inherited from its ancestors. * have also seen children successfully
surmounting the effects of an evil inheritance. That is due to !urity being an inherent
attribute of the soul.
Pola# and * had often very heated discussions about the desi rability or otherwise of
giving the children an 6nglish education. *t has always been my conviction that *ndian
!arents who train their children to thin# and tal# in 6nglish from their infancy betray
their children and their country. They de!rive them of the s!iritual and social
heritage of the nation, and render them to that e&tent unfit or the service of the
country. )aving these convictions, * made a !oint of always tal#ing to my children in
Gu,arati. Pola# never li#ed this.
)e thought * was s!oiling their future. )e contended, with all the vigour and love at
his command, that, if children were to learn a universal language li#e 6nglish from
their infancy, they would easily gain considerable advantage over others in the race of
life. )e failed to convince me. * do not now remember whether * convinced him of the
correctness of my attitude, or whether he gave me u! as too obstinate. This
ha!!ened about twenty years ago, and my convictions have only dee!ened with
e&!erience. Though my sons have suffered for want of full literary education, the
#nowledge of the mother tongue that they naturally ac3uired has been all to their and
the country7s good, inasmuch as they do not a!!ear the foreigners they would
otherwise have a!!eared. They naturally became bilingual, s!ea#ing and writing
6nglish with fair ease, because of daily contact with a large circle of 6nglish friends,
and because of thier stay in a country where 6nglish was the chief language s!o#en.
CHAPTER ))I(
T)6 NU4U 7+6B644*%7
6ven after * thought * had settled down in $ohannesburg, there was to be no settled
life for me. $ust when * felt that * should be breathing in !eace, an une&!ected event
ha!!ened. The !a!ers brought the news of the outbrea# of the Nulu 7rebellion7 in
%atal. * bore no grudge against the Nulus, they had harmed no *ndian. * had doubts
about the 7rebellion7 itself. But * then believed that the British 6m!ire e&isted for the
welfare of the world. 1 genuine sense of loyalty !revented me from even wishing ill to
the 6m!ire.9 The rightness or otherwise of the 7rebellion7 was therefore not li#ely to
affect my decision. %atal had a volunteer "efence 0orce, and it was o!en to it to
recruit more men. * read that this force had already been mobili2ed to 3uell the
7rebellion7.
* considered myself a citi2en of %atal, being intimately connected with it. So * wrote
to the Governor, e&!ressing my readiness, if necessary, to form an *ndian 1mbulance
-or!s. )e re!lied immediately acce!ting the offer.8 * had not e&!ected such !rom!t
acce!tance. 0ortunately * had made all the necessary arrangements even before
writing the letter. *f my offer was acce!ted, * had decided to brea# u! the
$ohannesburg home. Pola# was to have a smaller house, and my wife was to go and
settle at Phoeni&. * had her full consent to this decision. * do not remember her having
ever stood in my way in matters li#e this. 1s soon, therefore, as * got the re!ly from
the Governor, * gave the landlord the usual month7s notice of vacating the house, sent
some of the things to Phoeni& and left some with Pola#.
* went to "urban and a!!ealed for men. 1 big contingent was not necessary. 5e were
a !arty of twenty/four, of whom, besides me, four were Gu,aratis. The rest were e&/
indentured men from South *ndia, e&ce!ting one who was a free Pathan.
*n order to give me a status and to facilitate wor#, as also in accordance with the
e&isting convention, the -hief Medical fficer a!!ointed me to the tem!orary ran# of
Sergeant Ma,or and three men selected by me to the ran# of sergeants and one to
that of cor!oral.
5e also received our uniforms from the Government. ur -or!s was on active service
for nearly si& wee#s. n reaching the scene of the 7rebellion7, * saw that there was
nothing there to ,ustify the name of 7rebellion7. There was no resistance that one
could see. The reason why the disturbance had been magnified into a rebellion was
that a Nulu chief had advised non/!ayment of a new ta& im!osed on his !eo!le, and
had assagaiedD a sergeant who had gone to collect the ta&.
1t any rate my heart was with the Nulus, and * was delighted, on reaching
head3uarters, to hear that our main wor# was to be the nursing of the wounded
Nulus. The Medical fficer in charge welcomed us. )e said the white !eo!le were not
willing nurses for the wounded Nulus, that their wounds were festering, and he was at
his wit7s end. )e hailed our arrival as a godsend for those innocent 9 .ide 7S!eech at
-ongress Meeting7, 1!ril 8E, 9<A;.
8 .ide 74etter to -olonial Secretary7, 1!ril 8G O $une 8, 9<A;.
D 1ttac#ed with assagai, a missile used by tribesmen !eo!le, and he e3ui!!ed us with
bandages, disinfectants, etc., and too# us to the im!rovised hos!ital. The Nulus were
delighted to see us. The white soldiers used to !ee! through the railings that
se!arated us from them and tried to dissuade us from attending to the wounds. 1nd as
we would not heed them, they became enraged and !oured uns!ea#able abuse on the
Nulus.
Gradually * came into closer touch with these soldiers, and they ceased to interfere.
1mong the commanding officers were -ol. S!ar#s and -ol. 5ylie, who had bitterly
o!!osed me in 9:<;. They were sur!rised at my attitude and s!ecially called and
than#ed me. They introduced me to General Mac#en2ie. 4et not the reader thin# that
these were !rofessional soldiers. -ol. 5ylie was a well/#nown "urban lawyer. -ol.
S!ar#s was well #nown as the owner of a butcher7s sho! in "urban. General Mac#en2ie
was a noted %atal farmer. 1ll these gentlemen were volunteers, and as such had
received military training and e&!erience.
The wounded in our charge were not wounded in battle. 1 section of them had been
ta#en !risoners as sus!ects. The General had sentenced them to be flogged. The
flogging had caused severe sores.
These, being unattended to, were festering. The others were Nulu friendlies. 1lthough
these had badges given them to distinguish them from the 7enemy7, they had been
shot at by the soldiers by mista#e.
Besides this wor#, * had to com!ound and dis!ense !rescri!tions for the white
soldiers. This was easy enough for me as * had received a year7s training in "r. Booth7s
little hos!ital. This wor# brought me in close contact with many 6uro!eans.
5e were attached to swift/moving column. *t had orders to march wherever danger
was re!orted. *t was for the most !art mounted infantry. 1s soon as our cam! was
moved, we had to follow on foot with our stretchers on our shoulders. Twice or thrice
we had to march forty miles a day. But wherever we went, * am than#ful that we had
God7s good wor# to do, having to carry to the cam! on our stretchers those Nulu
friendlies who had been inadvertently wounded, and to attend u!on them as nurses.9
CHAPTER ))(
)61+T S61+-)*%GS
The Nulu 7rebellion7 was full of new e&!eriences and gave me much food for thought.
The Boer 5ar had not brought home to me the horrors of war with anything li#e the
vividness that the 7rebellion7 did. This was no war but a man/hunt, not only in my
o!inion, but also 9 0or the re!orts in *ndian !inion from Gandhi,i as a s!ecial
corres!ondent on the front, vide 7*ndian Stretcher/Bearer -or!s7, before $uly 9<,
9<A;.
in that of many 6nglishmen with whom * had occasion to tal#. To hear every morning
re!orts of the soldiers7 rifles e&!loding li#e crac#ers in innocent hamlets, and to live
in the midst of them was a trial. But * swallowed the bitter draught, es!ecially as the
wor# of my -or!s consisted only in nursing the wounded Nulus. * could see that but for
us the Nulus would have been uncared for. This wor#, therefore, eased my conscience.
But there was much else to set one thin#ing. *t was a s!arsely !o!ulated !art of the
country. 0ew and far between in hills and dales were the scattered Kraals of the
sim!le and so/called 7uncivili2ed7 Nulus. Marching, with or without the wounded,
through these solemn solitudes, * often fell into dee! thought.
* !ondered over brahmacharya and its im!lications, and my convictions too# dee!
root. * discussed it with my co/wor#ers. * had not reali2ed then how indis!ensable it
was for self/reali2ation, but clearly saw that one as!iring to serve humanity with his
whole soul could not do without it. *t was borne in u!on me that * should have more
and more occasions for service of the #ind * was rendering, and that * should find
myself une3ual to my tas# if * were engaged in the !leasures of family life and in the
!ro!agation and rearing of children. *n a word, * could not live both after the flesh
and the s!irit.
n the !resent occasion, for instance, * should not have been able to throw myself
into the fray, had my wife been e&!ecting a baby.
5ithout the observance of brahmacharya service of the family would be inconsistent
with service of the community. 5ith brahmacharya they would be !erfectly
consistent.
So thin#ing, * became somewhat im!atient to ta#e a final vow.
The !ros!ect of the vow brought a certain #ind of e&ultation. *magi nation also found
free !lay and o!ened out limitless vistas of service.
5hilst * was thus in the midst of strenuous !hysical and mental wor#, a re!ort came
to the effect that the wor# of su!!ressing the 7rebellion7 was nearly over, and that we
should soon be discharged. 1 day or two after this our discharge came and in a few
days we got bac# to our homes.
1fter a short while * got a letter from the Governor s!ecially than#ing the 1mbulance
-or!s for its services.
n my arrival at Phoeni& * eagerly broached the sub,ect of brahmacharya with
-hhaganlal, Maganlal, 5est and others. They li#ed the idea and acce!ted the
necessity of ta#ing the vow, but they also re!resented the difficulties of the tas#.
Some of them set themselves bravely to observe it, and some, * #now, succeeded also.
* too too# the !lunge/the vow to observe brahamcharya for life. * must confess that *
had not then fully reali2ed the magnitude and immensity of the tas# * undertoo#. The
difficulties are even today staring me in the face. The im!ortance of the vow is being
more and more borne in u!on me. 4ife without brahmacharya a!!ears to me to be
insi!id and animal/li#e. The brute by nature #nows no self restraint. Man is man
because he is ca!able of, and only in so far as he e&ercises, self/restraint. 5hat
formerly a!!eared to me to be e&travagant !raise of brahmacharya in our religious
boo#s seems now, with increasing clearness every day, to be absolutely !ro!er and
founded on e&!erience.
* saw that brahmacharya, which is so full of wonderful !otency, is by no means an
easy affair, and certainly not a mere matter of the body. *t begins with bodily
restraint, but does not end there. The !erfection of it !recludes even an im!ure
thought. 1 true brahmachari will not even dream of satisfying the fleshly a!!etite,
and until he is in that condition, he has a great deal of ground to cover.0or me the
observance of even bodily brahmacharya has been full of difficulties. Today * may say
that * feel myself fairly safe, but * have yet to achieve com!lete mastery over
thought, which is so essential. %ot that the will or effort is lac#ing, but it is yet a
!roblem to me wherefrom undesirable thoughts s!ring their insidious invasions. * have
no doubt that there is a #ey to loc# out undesirable thoughts, but everyone has to find
it out for himself. Saints and seers have left their e&!eriences for us, but they have
given us no infallible and universal !rescri!tion. 0or !erfection or freedom from error
comes only from grace, and so see#ers after God have left us mantras, such as
+amanama, hallowed by their own austerities and charged with their !urity. 5ithout
an unreserved surrender to )is grace, com!lete mastery over thought is im!ossible.
This is the teaching of evey great boo# of religion, and * am reali2ing the truth of it
every moment of my striving after that !erfect brahmacharya.
But !art of the history of that striving and struggle will be told in cha!ters to follow. *
shall conclude this cha!ter with an indication of how * set about the tas#. *n the first
flush of enthusiasm, * found the observance 3uite easy. The very first change * made
in my mode of life was to sto! sharing the same bed with my wife or see#ing !rivacy
with her.
Thus brahmacharya, which * had been observing willy/nilly since 9<AA, was sealed
with a vow in the middle of 9<A;.
CHAPTER ))(I
T)6 B*+T) 0 S1T=1G+1)1
6vents were so sha!ing themselves in $ohannesburg as to ma#e this self/!urification
on my !art a !reliminary as it were to satyagraha.
* can now see that all the !rinci!al events of my life, culminating in the vow of
brahmacharya, were secretly !re!aring me for it. The !rinci!le called satyagraha
came into being before that name was invented. *ndeed when it was born, * myself
could not say what it was. *n Gu,arati also we used the 6nglish !hrase 7!assive
resistance7 to describe it. 5hen in a meeting of 6uro!eans * found that the term
7!assive resistance7 was too narrowly construed, that it was su!!osed to be a wea!on
of the wea#, that it could be characteri2ed by hatred, and that it could finally
manifest itself as violence, * had to demur to all these statements9 and e&!lain the
real nature of *ndian movement.
*t was clear that a new word must be coined by the *ndians to designate their
struggle.
But * could not for the life of me find out a new name, and therefore offered a
nominal !ri2e through *ndian !inion to the reader who made the best suggestion on
the sub,ect. 1s a result Maganlal Gandhi coined the word 7Sadagraha7 >sat/truth,
agraha firmness? and won the !ri2e.8 But in order to ma#e it clearer * changed the
word to 7Satyagraha7 which has since become current in Gu,arati as a designation for
the struggle.
The history of this struggle is for all !ractical !ur!oses a history of the remainder of
my life in South 1frica and es!ecially of my e&!eriments with truth in that sub/
continent. * wrote the ma,or !ortion of this history in =eravda ,ail and finished it after
* was released. *t was !ublished in %ava,ivan and subse3uently issued in boo# form.
S,t.
.al,i Govind,i "esai has been translating it into 6nglish for -urrent Thought, but * am
now arranging to have the 6nglish translationD !ublished in boo# form at an early
date, so that those who will may be able to familiari2e themselves with my most
im!ortant e&!eriments in South 1frica. * would recommend a !erusal of my history of
satyagraha in South 1frica to such readers as have not seen it already. * will not
re!eat what * have !ut down there, but in the ne&t few cha!ters will deal only with a
few !ersonal incidents of my life in South 1frica which have not been covered by that
history. 1nd when 9 1t a meeting of the 6uro!ean sym!athi2ers in GermistonC vide
7S!eech at Germiston7, $une F, 9<A<.
8 0or the offer of !ri2e, vide 7Some 6nglish Terms7, "ecember 8:, 9<AF and for the
announcement of the result, vide 7$ohannesburg 4etter7, before $anuary 9A,:. D
Satyagraha in South 1frica. * have done with these, * well at once !roceed to give the
reader some idea of my e&!eriments in *ndia. Therefore, anyone who wishes to
consider these e&!eriments in their strict chronological order will now do well to #ee!
the history of satyagraha in South 1frica before him.
CHAPTER ))(II
M+6 6IP6+*M6%TS *% "*6T6T*-S
* was an&ious to observe brahmacharya in thought, word and deed, and e3ually
an&ious to devote the ma&imum of time to the satyagraha struggle and fit myself for
it by cultivating !urity. * was therefore led to ma#e further changes and to im!ose
greater restraints u!on myself in the matter of food. The motive for the !revious
changes had been largely hygienic, but the new e&!eriments were made from a
religious stand!oint.
0asting and restriction in diet now !layed a more im!ortant !art in my life. Passion in
man is generally co/e&istent with a han#ering after the !leasures of the !alate. 1nd so
it was with me. * have encountered many difficulties in trying to control !assion as
well as taste, and * cannot claim even now to have brought them under com!lete
sub,ection. * have considered myself to be a heavy eater.
5hat friends have thought to be my restraint has never a!!eared to me in that light.
*f * had failed to develo! restraint to the e&tent that * have, * should have descended
lower than the beasts and met my doom long ago. )owever, as * had ade3uately
reali2ed my shortcomings, * made great efforts to get rid of them, and than#s to this
endeavour * have all these years !ulled on with my body and !ut in with it my share of
wor#.
Being conscious of my wea#ness and une&!ectedly coming in contact with congenial
com!any, * began to ta#e an e&clusive fruit diet or to fast on the 6#adashi day, and
also to observe $anmashtami and similar holidays.
* began with a fruit diet, but from the stand!oint of restraint * did not find much to
choose between a fruit diet and a diet of food grains. * observed that the same
indulgence of taste was !ossible with the former as with the latter, and even more,
when one got accustomed to it. * therefore came to attach greater im!ortance to
fasting or having only one meal a day on holidays. 1nd if there was some occasion for
!enance or the li#e, * gladly utili2ed it too for the !ur!ose of fasting.
But * also saw that, the body now being drained more effectively, the food yielded
greater relish and the a!!etite grew #eener. *t dawned u!on me that fasting could be
made as !owerful a wea!on of indulgence as of restraint. Many similar later
e&!eriences of mine as well as of others can be adduced as evidence of this startling
fact. * wanted to im!rove and train my body, but as my chief ob,ect now was to
achieve restraint and a con3uest of the !alate, * selected first one food and then
another, and at the same time restricted the amount. But the relish was after me, as
it were. 1s * gave u! one thing and too# u! another, this latter afforded me a fresher
and greater relish than its !redecessor.
*n ma#ing these e&!eriments * had several com!anions, the chief of whom was
)ermann Kallenbach.9 * have already written about this friend in the history of
satyagraha in South 1rfica, and will not go over the same ground here. Mr. Kallenbach
was always with me whether in fasting or in dietetic changes. * lived with him at his
own !lace when the satyagraha struggle was at its height. 5e discussed our changes
in food and derived more !leasure from the new diet than from the old. Tal# of this
nature sounded 3uite !leasant in those days, and did not stri#e me as at all im!ro!er.
6&!erience has taught me, however, that it was wrong to have dwelt u!on the relish
of food. ne should eat not in order to !lease the !alate, but ,ust to #ee! the body
going. 5hen each organ of sense subserves the body and through the body the soul,
its s!ecial relish disa!!ears, and then alone does it begin to function in the way
nature intended it to do.
1ny number of e&!eriments is too small and no sacrifice is too great for attaining this
sym!hony with nature. But unfortunately the current is nowadays flowing strongly in
the o!!osite direction. 5e are not ashamed to sacrifice a multitude of other lives in
decorating the !erishable body and trying to !rolong its e&istence for a few fleeting
moments with the result that we #ill ourselves, both body and soul. *n trying to cure
one old disease, we give rise to a hundred new onesC in trying to en,oy the !leasures
of sense, we lose in the end even our ca!acity for en,oyment. 1ll this is !assing
before our very eyes, but there are none so blind as those who will not see.
)aving thus set forth their ob,ect and the train of ideas which led u! to them, * now
!ro!ose to describe the dietetic e&!eriments at some length.
CHAPTER ))(III
K1STU+B1*7S -U+1G6
Thrice in her life my wife narrowly esca!ed death through serious illness.8 The cures
were due to household remedies. 1t the time of her first attac# satyagraha was going
on or was about to 9 .ide 7Satyagraha in South 1frica -ha!ter II*** ' 6uro!eon
Su!!ort7.
8 "uring one such illness Gandhi,i was in !rison. 0or his touching letter to her then,
vide 74etter to Kasturba Gandhi7, %ovember <, 9<A:. commence. She had fre3uent
haemorrhage. 1 medical friend advised a surgical o!eration, to which she agreed after
some hesitation. She was e&tremely emaciated, and the doctor had to !erform the
o!eration without chloroform. *t was successful, but she had to suffer much !ain.
She, however, went through it with wonderful bravery. The doctor and his wife who
nursed her were all attention.
This was in "urban. The doctor gave me leave to go to $ohannesburg, and told me not
to have any an&iety about the !atient.
*n a few days, however, * received a letter to the effect that Kasturbai was worse, too
wea# to sit u! in bed, and had once become unconscious. The doctor #new that he
might not, without my consent, give her wines or meat. So he tele!honed to me at
$ohannesburg for !ermission to give her beef tea. * re!lied saying * could not grant
the !ermission, but that, if she was in a condition to e&!ress her wish in the matter
she might be consulted, and she was free to do as she li#ed.
7But,7 said the doctor, 7* refuse to consult the !atient7s wishes in the matter. =ou must
come yourself. *f you do not leave me free to !rescribe whatever diet * li#e, * will not
hold myself res!onsible for your wife7s life.7 * too# the train for "urban the same day,
and met the doctor who 3uietly bro#e this news to me ' 7* had already given Mrs.
Gandhi beef tea when * tele!honed to you.7 7%ow, doctor, * call this a fraud,7 said *.
7%o 3uestion of fraud in !rescribing medicine or diet for a !atient. *n fact we doctors
consider it a virtue to deceive !atients or their relatives, if thereby we can save our
!atients,7 said the doctor with determination.
* was dee!ly !ained, but #e!t cool. The doctor was a good man and a !ersonal friend.
)e and his wife had laid me under a debt of gratitude, but * was not !re!ared to !ut
u! with his medical morals.
7"octor, tell me what you !ro!ose to do now. * would never allow my wife to be given
meat or beef, even if the denial meant her death, unless of course she desired to ta#e
it.7 7=ou are welcome to your !hiloso!hy. * tell you that, so long as you #ee! your wife
under my treatment, * must have the o!tion to give her anything * wish. *f you don7t
li#e this, * must regretfully as# you to remove her. * can7t see her die under my roof.7
7"o you mean to say that * must remove her at once @7 75henever did * as# you to
remove her @ * only want to be left entirely free. *f you do so, my wife and * will do all
that is !ossible for her, and you may go bac# without the least an&iety on her score.
But if you will not understand this sim!le thing, you will com!el me to as# you to
remove your wife from my !lace.7 * thin# one of my sons was with me.9 )e entirely
agreed with me, and said his mother should not be given beef tea. * ne&t s!o#e to
Kasturbai herself. She was really too wea# to be consulted in this matter. But *
thought it my !ainful duty to do so. * told her what had !assed between the doctor
and myself. She gave a resolute re!ly ' 7* will not ta#e beef tea. *t is a rare thing in
this world to be born as a human being, and * would far rather die in your arms than
!ollute my body with such abominations.7 * !leaded with her. * told her that she was
not bound to follow me. * cited to her the instances of )indu friends and
ac3uanitances who had no scru!les about ta#ing meat or wine as medicine. But she
was adamant. 7%o,7 said she, 7!ray remove me at once.7 * was delighted. %ot without
some agitation * decided to ta#e her away. * informed the doctor of her resolve. )e
e&claimed in a rage ' 75hat a callous man you areB =ou should have been ashamed to
broach the matter to her in her !resent condition. * tell you your wife is not in a fit
state to be removed. She cannot stand the least little hustling. * shouldn7t be
sur!rised if she were to die on the way. But if you must !ersist, you are free to do so.
*f you will not give her beef tea, * will not ta#e the ris# of #ee!ing her under my roof
even for a single day.7 So we decided to leave the !lace at once.A *t was dri22ling and
the station was some distance. 5e had to ta#e the train from "urban for Phoeni&,
whence our Settlement was reached by a road of two miles and a half. * was
undoubtedly ta#ing a very great ris#, but * trusted in God, and !roceeded with my
tas#. * sent a messenger to Phoeni& in advance, with a message to 5est to receive us
at the station with a hammoc#, a bottle of hot mil# and one of hot water, and si& men
to carry Kasturbai in the hammoc#. * got a ric#shaw to enable me to ta#e her by the
ne&t available train, !ut her into it in that dangerous condition, and marched away.
Kasturbai needed no cheering u!. n the contrary she comforted me, saying '
7%othing will ha!!en to me. "on7t worry.7 She was mere s#in and bone, having had no
nourishment for days. The station !latform was very large, and as the ric#shaw could
not be ta#en inside, one had to wal# some distance before one could reach the train.
So * carried her in my arms and !ut her into the 9 .ide 74etter to Manilal Gandhi7,
Se!tember 9F, 9<A<. com!artment. 0rom Phoeni& we carried her in the hammoc#,
and there she slowly !ic#ed u! strength under hydro!athic treatment.
*n two or three days of our arrival at Phoeni& a Swami came to our !lace. )e had
heard of the resolute way in which we had re,ected the doctor7s advice,9 and he had,
out of sym!athy, come to !lead with us. My second and third sons Manilal and +amdas
were, so far as * can recollect, !resent when the Swami came. )e held forth on the
religious harmlessness of ta#ing meat, citing authorities from Manu. * did not li#e his
carrying on this dis!utation in the !resence of my wife, but * suffered him to do so
out of courtesy. * #new the verses from the Manusmriti, * did not need them for my
conviction. * #new also that there was a school which regarded these verses as
inter!olations ' but even if they were not, * held my views on vegetarianism
inde!endently of religious te&ts, and Kasturbai7s faith was unsha#able. To her the
scri!tural te&ts were a sealed boo#, but the traditional religion of her forefathers was
enough for her. The children swore by their father7s creed and so they made light of
the Swami7s discourse. But Kasturbai !ut an end to the dialogue at once.8 7Swami,i7,
she said, 7whatever you may say, * do not want to recover by means of beef tea. Pray
don7t worry me any more. =ou may discuss the thing with my husband and childrenD if
you li#e. But my mind is made u!.
CHAPTER ))I)
"M6ST*- S1T=1G+1)1
My first e&!erience of ,ail life was in 9<A:. * saw that some of the regulations that the
!risoners had to observe were such as should be voluntarily observed by a
brahmachari, that is, one desiring to !ractise self/restraint. Such, for instance, was
the regulation re3uiring the last meal to be finished before sunset. %either the *ndian
nor the 1frican !risoners were allowed tea or coffee. They could add salt to the
coo#ed food if they wished, but they might not have anything for the mere
satisfaction of the !alate. 5hen * as#ed the ,ail medical officer to give us curry
!owder, and to let us add salt to the food whilst it was coo#ing, he said ' 7=ou are not
here for satisfying your !alate. 0rom the !oint of view of health, curry !owder is not
necessary, and it ma#es no difference whether you add salt during or after coo#ing.7
Ultimately these restrictions were modified, though not without much difficulty, but
both were wholesome rules of self/restraint.
*nhibitions im!osed from without rarely succeed, but when they are self/im!osed,
they have a decidedly salutary effect. So, immediately after release from ,ail, *
im!osed on myself the two rules. 1s far as was then !ossible, * sto!!ed ta#ing tea,
and finished my last meal before sunset. Both these now re3uire no effort in the
observance.
There came, however, an occasion which com!elled me to give u! salt altogether, and
this restriction * continued for an unbro#en !eriod of ten years. * had read in some
boo#s on vegetarianism that salt was not a necessary article of diet for man, that on
the contrary saltless diet was better for the health. * had deduced that a brahmachari
benefited by a saltless diet. * had read and reali2ed that the wea#/bodied should
avoid !ulses. * was very fond of them.
%ow it ha!!ened that Kasturbai, who had a brief res!ite after her o!eration, had
again begun getting haemorrhage, and the malady seemed to be obstinate.
)ydro!athic treatment by itself did not answer. She had not much faith in my
remedies, though she did not resist them. She certainly did not as# for outside hel!.
So when all my remedies had failed, * entreated her to give u! salt and !ulses.
She would not agree, however much * !leaded with her, su!!orting myself with
authorities. 1t last she challenged me, saying that even * could not give u! these
articles if * was advised to do so. * was !ained and e3ually delighted/delighted in that
* got an o!!ortunity to shower my love on her. * said to her ' 7=ou are mista#en. *f *
was ailing and the doctor advised me to give u! these or any other articles, * should
unhestitatingly do so. But thereB 5ithout any medical advice, * give u! salt and !ulses
for one year, whether you do so or not.7 She was rudely shoc#ed and e&claimed in
dee! sorrow' 7Pray forgive me. Knowing you, * should not have !rovo#ed you. *
!romise to abstain from these things, but for heaven7s sa#e ta#e bac# your vow. This
is too hard on me.7 7*t is very good for you to forgo these articles. * have not the
slightest doubt that you will be all the better without them. 1s for me, * cannot
retract a vow seriously ta#en. 1nd it is sure to benefit me, for all restraint, whatever
!rom!ts it, is wholesome for men. =ou will therefore leave me alone. *t will be a test
for me, and a moral su!!ort to you in carrying out your resolve.7 So she gave me u!.
7=ou are too obstinate. =ou will listen to none,7 she said, and sought relief in tears.
* would li#e to count this incident as an instance of satyagraha and it is one of the
sweetest recollections of my life.
1fter that Kasturbai began to !ic# u! 3uic#ly/whether as a result of the saltless and
!ulseless diet or of the other conse3uent changes in her food, whether as a result of
my strict vigilance in e&acting observance of the other rules of life, or as an effect of
the mental e&hilaration !roduced by the incident, and if so to what e&tent, * cannot
say. But she rallied 3uic#ly, haemorrhage com!letely sto!!ed, and * added somewhat
to my re!utation as a 3uac#.9 1s for me, * was all the better for the new denials. *
never craved for the things * had left, the year s!ed away, and * found the senses to
be more subdued than ever. The e&!eriment stimulated the inclination for self/
restraint, and * continued the abstention from the articles until long after * returned
to *ndia. nly once * ha!!ened to ta#e both the articles whilst * was in 4ondon in
9<9E. But of that occasion, and as to how * resumed bothA, * shall s!ea# in a later
cha!ter.
* have tried the e&!eriment of a saltless and !ulseless diet on many of my co/wor#ers,
and with good results in South 1frica.
Medically there may be two o!inions as to the value of this diet, but morally * have no
doubt that all self/denial is good for the soul.9 The diet of a man of self/restraint
must be different from that of a man of !leasure, ,ust as their ways of life must be
different. 1s!irants after brahmacharya often defeat their own end by ado!ting
courses suited to a life of !leasure.
CHAPTER )))
T51+"S S640/+6ST+1*%T
* have described in the last cha!ter how Kasturbai7s illness was instrumental in
bringing about some changes in my diet. 1t a later stage more changes were
introduced for the sa#e of su!!orting brahmacharya.
The first of these was the giving u! of mil#. *t was from +aychandbhai that * first
learnt that mil# stimulated animal !assion.
/Boo#s on vegetarianism strengthened the idea, but so long as * had not ta#en the
brahmacharya vow * could not ma#e u! my mind to forgo mil#. * had long reali2ed that
mil# was not necessary for su!!orting the body, but it was not easy to give it u!.
5hile the necessity for avoiding mil# in the interest of self/restraint was growing u!on
me, * ha!!ended to come across some literature from -alcutta, describing the
tortures to which cows and buffaloes were sub,ected by their #ee!ers. This had a
wonderful effect on me. * discussed it with Mr. Kallenbach.
Though * have introduced Mr. Kallenbach to the readers of the history of satyagraha in
South 1frica, and referred to him in a !revious cha!ter, * thin# it necessary to say
something more about him here. 5e met 3uite by accident. )e was a friend of Mr.
Khan7s, and as the latter had discovered dee! down in him a vein of otherworldliness
he introduced him to me.
9 0or Gandhi,i7s views on saltless diet, vide 74etter to )arilal Gandhi7, $uly 8G, 9<99 O
7General Knowledge about )ealth J/I***K7, March 8<, 9<9D.
5hen * came to #now him * was startled at his love of lu&ury and e&travagance. But in
our very first meeting, he as#ed searching 3uestions concerning matters of religion.
5e incidentally tal#ed of Gautama Buddha7s renunciation. ur ac3uaintance soon
ri!ened into very close friendshi!, so much so that we thought ali#e, and he was
convinced that he must carry out in his life the changes * was ma#ing in mine.
1t that time he was single, and was e&!ending +s. 9,8AA monthly on himself, over and
above house rent. %ow he reduced himself to such sim!licity that his e&!enses came
to +s. 98A !er month. 1fter the brea#ing u! of my household and my first release from
,ail, we began to live together. *t was a fairly hard life that we led. *t was during this
time that we had the discussion about mil#.
Mr. Kallenbach said, 75e constantly tal# about the harmful effects of mil#. 5hy then
do not we give it u!@ *t is certainly not necessary.7 * was agreeably sur!rised at the
suggestion, which * warmly welcomed, and both of us !ledged ourselves to ab,ure
mil# there and then. This was at Tolstoy 0arm9 in the year 9<98.
But this denial was not enought to satisfy me. Soon after this * decided to live on a
!ure fruit diet, and that too com!osed of the chea!est fruit !ossible. ur ambition
was to live the life of the !oorest !eo!le.The fruit diet turned out to be very
convenient also. -oo#ing was !ractically done away with. +aw groundnuts, bananas,
dates, lemons, and olive oil com!osed our usual diet.
* must here utter a warning for the as!irants of brahmacharya.
Though * have made out an intimate connection between diet and brahmacharya, it is
certain that mind is the !rinci!al thing. 1 mind consciouly unclean cannot be cleansed
by fasting. Modification in diet have no effect on it. The concu!iscence of the mind
cannot be rooted out e&ce!t by intense self/e&amination, surrender to God and,
lastly, grace. But there is an intimate connection between the mind and the body, and
the carnal mind always lusts for delicacies and lu&uries. To obviate this tendency
dietetic restrictions and fasting would a!!ear to be necessary. The carnal mind,
instead of controlling the senses, becomes their slave, and therefore the body always
needs clean non/stimulating foods and !eriodical fasting.
9 1bout 9,9AA acres near $ohannesburg bought by Mr. Kallenbach and given for the
settlement of satyagrahis on DA/G/9<9A Those who ma#e light of dietetic restrictions
and fasting are as much in error as those who sta#e their all on them. My e&!erience
teaches me that, for those whose minds are wor#ing towards self restraint, dietetic
restrictions and fasting are very hel!ful. *n fact without their hel! concu!iscence
cannot be com!letely rooted out of the mind.
CHAPTER )))I
01ST*%G
$ust about the time when * gave u! mil# and cereals, and started on the e&!eriment
of a fruit diet, * commenced fasting as a means of self/restraint. *n this Mr. Kallenbach
also ,oined me. * had been used to fasting now and again, but for !urely health
reasons. That fasting was necessary for self/restraint * learnt from a friend.
)aving been born in a .aishnava family and of a mother who was given to #ee!ing all
sorts of hard vows, * had observed, while in *ndia, the 6#adashi and other fasts, but in
doing so * had merely co!ied my mother and sought to !lease my !arents.
1t that time * did not understand, nor did * believe in, the efficacy of fasting. But
seeing that the friend * have mentioned was observing it with benefit, and with the
ho!e of su!!orting the brahmacharya vow, * followed his e&am!le and began #ee!ing
the 6#adashi fast. 1s a rule )indus allow themselves mil# and fruit on a fasting day,
but such fast * had been #ee!ing daily. So now * began com!lete fasting, allowing
myself only water.
5hen * started on this e&!eriment, the )indu month of shravan and the *slamic month
of +am2an ha!!ened to coincide. The Gandhis used to observe not only the .aishnava
but also the Shaivite vows, and visited the Shaivite as also the .aishnava tem!les.
Some of the members of the family used to observe !radosha9 in the whole of the
month of Shravan. * decided to do li#ewise.
These im!ortant e&!eriments were underta#en while we were at Tolstoy 0arm, where
Mr. Kallenbach and * were staying with a few satyagrahi families, including young
!eo!le and children. 0or these last we had a school. 1mong them were four or five
Mussalmans. * always hel!ed and encouraged them in #ee!ing all their religious
observances. * too# care to see that they offered their daily nama2.
There were -hristian and Parsi youngsters too, whom * considered it my duty to
encourage to follow their res!ective religious observances.
"uring this month, therefore, * !ersuaded the Mussalman youngsters to observe the
+am2an fast. * had of course decided to observe !radosha myself, but * now as#ed the
)indu, Parsi and 9 0asting until evening -hristian youngsters to ,oin me. * e&!lained to
them that it was always a good thing to ,oin with others in any matter of self/denial.
Many of the 0arm inmates welcomed my !ro!osal. The )indu and the Parsi youngsters
did not co!y the Mussalman ones in every detailC it was not necessary. The Mussalman
youngsters had to wait for their brea#fast until sunset, whereas the others did not do
so, and were thus able to !re!are delicacies for the Mussalman friends and serve
them.
%or had the )indu and other youngsters to #ee! the Mussalmans com!any when they
had their last meal before sunrise ne&t morning, and of course all e&ce!t the
Mussalmans allowed themselves water.
The result of these e&!eriments was that all were convinced of the value of fasting,
and a s!lendid es!rit cor!s grew u! among them.
5e were all vegetarians on Tolstoy 0arm, than#s, * must gratefully confess, to the
readiness of all to res!ect my feelings. The Mussalman youngsters must have missed
their meat during +am2an, but none of them ever let me #now that they did so. They
delighted in and relished the vegetarian diet, and the )indu youngsters often
!re!ared vegetarian delicacies for them, in #ee!ing with the sim!licity of the 0arm.
* have !ur!osely digressed in the midst of this cha!ter on fasting, as * could not have
given these !leasant reminiscences anywhere else, and * have indirectly described a
characteristic of mine, namely that * have always loved to have my co/wor#ers with
me in anything that has a!!ealed to me as being good. They were 3uite new to
fasting, but than#s to the !radosha and +am2an fasts, it was easy for me to interest
them in fasting as a means of self/restraint.
Thus an atmos!here of self/restriant naturally s!rang u! on the 0arm. 1ll the 0arm
inmates now began to ,oin us in #ee!ing !artial and com!lete fasts, which, * am sure,
was entirely to the good. * cannot definitely say how far this self/denial touched their
hearts and hel!ed them in their striving to con3uer the flesh. 0or my !art, however, *
am convinced that * greatly benefited by it both !hysically and morally. But * #now
that it does not necessarily follow that fasting and similar disci!lines would have the
same effect for all.
0asting can hel! to curb animal !assion, only if it is underta#en with a view to self/
restraint. Some of my friends have actually found their animal !assion and !alate
stimulated as an after/effect of fasts.
That is to say, fasting is futile unless it is accom!anied by an incessant longing for
self/restraint. The famous verse from the second cha!ter of the Bhagavad Gita is
worth noting in this connection ' 0or a man who is fasting his senses utwardly, the
sense/ob,ects disa!!ear, 4eaving the yearning behindC but when )e has seen the
)ighest, 6ven the yearning disa!!ears.9 0asting and similar disci!line is, therefore,
one of the means to the end of self/restraint but it is not all, and if !hysical fasting is
not accom!anied by mental fasting, it is bound to end in hy!ocrisy and disaster.
CHAPTER )))II
1S S-)4M1ST6+
The reader will, * ho!e, bear in mind the fact that * am, in these cha!ters, describing
things not mentioned, or only cursorily mentioned in the history of satyagraha in
South 1frica. *f he does so, he will easily see the connection between the recent
cha!ters.
1s the 0arm grew, it was found necessary to ma#e some !rovision for the education of
its boys and girls. There were, among these, )indu, Mussalman, Parsi and -hristian
boys and some )indu girls. * was not !ossible, and * did not thin# it necessary, to
engage s!ecial teachers for them. *t was not !ossible, for 3ualified *ndian teachers
were scarce, and even when available, none would be ready to go to a !lace 89 miles
distant from $ohannesburg on a small salary.
1lso we were certainly not overflowing with money. 1nd * did not thin# it necessary to
im!ort teachers from outside the 0arm. * did not believe in the e&isting system of
education, and * had a mind to find out by e&!erience and e&!eriment the true
system. nly this much * #new/that, under ideal conditions, true education could be
im!arted only by the !arents, and that then there should be the minimum of outside
hel!, that Tolstoy 0arm was a family, in which * occu!ied the !lace of the father, and
that * should so far as !ossible shoulder the res!onsibility for the training of the
young.
The conce!tion no doubt was not without its flaws. 1ll the young !eo!le had not been
with me since their childhood, they had been brought u! in different conditions and
environments, and they did not not belong to the same religion. )ow could * do full
,ustice to the young !eo!le, thus circumstanced, even if * assumed the !lace of
!aterfamilias @ But * had always given the first !lace to the culture of the heart or the
building of character, and as * felt confident that moral training could be given to all
ali#e, no matter how different their ages and their u!bringing, * decided to live
amongst them all the twnety/four hours of the day as their father. * regarded
character buildings as the !ro!er fundation for their education and, if the foundation
was firmly laid, * was sure that the children could learn all the other things
themselves or with the assistance of friends.
9 **. G< But as * fully a!!reciated the necessity of a literary training in addition, *
started some classes with the hel! of Mr. Kallenbach and S,t. Prag,i "esai. %or did *
under/rate the building u! of the body.
This they got in the course of their daily routine. 0or there were no servants on the
0arm, and all the wor#, from coo#ing down to scavenging, was done by the inmates.
There were many fruit trees to be loo#ed after, and enough gardening to be done as
well. Mr.
Kallencbach was fond of gardening and had gained some e&!erince of this wor# in one
of the governmental model gardens.
*t was obligatory on all, young and old, who were not engaged in the #itchen, to give
some time to gardening. The children had the lion7s share of this wor#, which
included digging !its, felling timber and lifting loads. This gave them am!le e&ercise.
They too# delight in the wor#, and so they did not generally need any other e&ercise
or games. f course some of them, and sometimes all of them, malingered and
shir#ed. Sometimes * connived at their !ran#s, but often * was strict with them. * dare
say they did not li#e the strictness, but * do not recollect their having resisted it.
5henever * was strict, * would, by argument, convince them that it was not right to
!lay with one7s wor#. The conviction would, however, be short/lived, the ne&t
moment they would again leave their wor# and go to !lay. 1ll the same we got along,
and at any rate they built u! fine !hysi3ues. There was scarcely any illness on the
0arm, though it must be said that good air and water and regular hours of food were
not a little res!onsible for this.
1 word about vocational training. *t was my intention to teach every one of the
youngsters some useful manual vocation. 0or this !ur!ose Mr. Kallenbach went to a
Tra!!ist monastery and returned having learnt shoe/ma#ing. * learnt it from him and
taught the art to such as were ready to ta#e it u!. Mr. Kallenbach had some
e&!erience of car!entry, and there was another inmate who #new itC so we had a
small class in car!entry. -oo#ing almost all the youngsters #new.
1ll this was new to them. They had never even dreamt that they would have to learn
these things some day. 0or generally the only training that *ndian children received in
South 1frica was in the three +7s. n Tolstoy 0arm we made it a rule that the
youngsters should not be as#ed to do what the teachers did not do, and therefore,
when they were as#ed to do any wor#, there was always a teacher co o!erating and
actually wor#ing with them. )ence whatever the youngsters learnt, they learnt
cheerfully. 4iterary training and character building must be dealt with in the following
cha!ters.
CHAPTER )))III
4*T6+1+= T+1%*%*%G
*t was seen in the last cha!ter how we !rovided for the !hysical training on Tolstoy
0arm, and incidentally for the vocational. Though this was hardly done in a way to
satisfy me, it may be claimed to have been more or less successful.
4iterary training, however, was a more difficult matter. * had neither the resources
nor the literary e3ui!ment necessaryC and * had not the time * would have wished to
devote to the sub,ect. The !hysical wor# that * was doing used to leave me thoroughly
e&hausted at the end of the day, and * used to have the classes ,ust when * was most
in need of some rest. *nstead, therefore, of my being fresh for the class, * could with
the greatest difficulty #ee! myself awa#e. The mornings had to be devoted to wor# on
the farm and domestic duties, so the school hours had to be #e!t after the midday
meal. There was no other time suitable for the school.
5e gave three !eriods at the most to literary training. )indi, Tamil, Gu,arati and Urdu
were all taught, and tuition was given through the vernaculars of the boys. 6nglish
was taught as well. *t was also necessary to ac3uaint the Gu,arati )indu children with
a little Sams#rit, and to teach all the children elementary history, geogra!hy and
arithmetic.
* had underta#en to teach Tamil and Urdu. The little Tamil * #new was ac3uired during
voyages and in ,ail. * had not got beyond Po!e7s9 e&cellent Tamil handboo#. My
#nowledge of the Urdu scri!t was all that * had a3cuired on a single voyage, and my
#nowledge of the language was confined to the familiar Persian and 1rabic words that
* had learnt from contact with Mussalman friends. f Sams#rit * new no more than *
had learnt at the high school, even my Gu,arati was no better than that which one
ac3uires at the school.
Such was the ca!ital with which * had to carry on. *n !overty of literary e3ui!ment my
colleagues went one better than *. But my love for the languages of my country, my
confidence in my ca!acity as a teacher as also the ignorance of my !u!ils, and more
than that, their generosity, stood me in good stead.
The Tamil boys were all born in South 1frica, and therefore #new very little Tamil, and
did not #now the scri!t at all. So * had to teach them the scri!t and the rudiments of
grammar. That was easy 9 G.U. Po!eC vide 7The 4ate "r. Po!e7, March 9E, 9<A:.
enough. My !u!ils #new that they could any day beat me in Tamil conversation, and
when Tamilians, not #nowing 6nglish, came to see me, they became my inter!reters. *
got along merrily, because * never attem!ted to disguise my ignorance from my
!u!ils. *n all res!ect * showed myself to them e&actly as * really was. Therefore in
s!ite of my colossal ignorance of the language * never lost their love and res!ect. *t
was com!aratively easier to teach the Mussalman boys Urdu. They #new the scri!t. *
had sim!ly to stimulate in them an interest in reading and to im!rove their
handwriting.
These youngsters were for the most !art unlettered and unsc hooled. But * found in
the course of the wor# that * had very little to teach them, beyond weaning them
from their la2iness, and su!e rvising their studies. 1s * was content with this, * could
!ull on with boys of different ages and learning different sub,ect in one and the same
class/room.
f te&t boo#s, about which we hear so much, * never felt the want. * do not even
remember having made much use of the boo#s that were available. * did not find it at
all necessary to load the boys with 3uantities of boo#s. * have always felt that the
true te&tboo# for the !u!il is his teacher. * remember very little that my teachers
taught me from boo#s, but * have even now a clear recollection of the things they
taught me inde!endently of boo#s.
-hildren ta#e in much more and with less labour through their ears than through their
eyes. * do not remember having read any boo# from cover to cover with my boys. But *
gave them, in my own language, all that * had digested from my reading of various
boo#s, and * dare say they are still carrying a recollection of it in their minds.
*t was laborious for them to remember what they learnt from boo#s, but * im!arted to
them by word of mouth, they could re!eat with the greatest ease. +eading was a tas#
for them, but listening to me was a !leasure, when * did not bore them by failure to
ma#e my sub,ect interesting. 1nd from the 3uestions that my tal#s !rom!ted them to
!ut, * had measure of their !ower of understanding.
CHAPTER )))I(
T+1*%*%G 0 T)6 SP*+*T
The s!iritual training of the boys was a much more difficult matter than their !hysical
and mental training. * relied little on religious boo#s for the training of the s!irit. f
course * believed that every student should be ac3uainted with the elements of his
own religion and have a general #nowledge of his own scri!tures, and therefore *
!rovided for such #nowledge as best * could. But that, to my mind, was !art of the
intellectual training. 4ong before * undertoo# the education of the youngters of the
Tolstoy 0arm * had reali2ed that the training of the s!irit was a thing by itself. To
develo! the s!irit is to build character and to enable one to wor# towards a
#nowledge of God and self/reali2ation. 1nd * held that this was an essential !art of
the training of the young, and that all training without culture of the s!irit was of no
use, and might be even harmful.
* am familiar with the su!erstition that self/reali2ation is !ossible only in the fourth
stage of life, i.e., sanyasa >renunciation?. But it is a matter of common #nowledge
that those who defer !re!aration for this invaluable e&!erience until the last stage of
life attain not self reali2ation but old age amounting to a second and !itiable
childhood, living as a burden on this earth. * have a full recollection that * held these
views even whilst * was teaching, i.e., in 9<99/98, though * might not then have
e&!ressed them in identical language.
)ow then was this s!iritual training to be given@ * made the children memori2e and
recite hymns, and read to them from boo#s on moral training. But that was far from
satisfying me. 1s * came into closer contact with them * saw that it was not through
boo#s that one could im!art training of the s!irit. $ust as !hysical training was to be
im!arted through !hysical e&ercise, and intellectual through intellectual e&ercise,
even so the training of the s!irit was !ossible only through the e&ercise of the s!irit.
1nd the e&ercise of the s!irit entriely de!ended on the life and character of the
teacher. The teacher had always to be mindful of his !7s and 37s, whether he was in
the midst of his boys or not.
*t is !ossible for a teacher situated miles away to affect the s!irit of the !u!ils by his
way of living. *t would be idle for me, if * were a liar, to teach boys to tell the truth. 1
cowardly teacher would never succeed in ma#ing his boys valiant, and a stranger to
self/restraint could never teach his !u!ils the value of self/restraint. * saw, therefore,
that * must be an eternal ob,ect/lesson to the boys and girls living with me. They thus
became my teachers, and * learnt * must be good and live straight, if only for their
sa#es. * may say that the increasing disci!line and restraint * im!osed on myself at
Tolstoy 0arm was mostly due to those wards of mine.
ne of them was wild, unruly, given to lying, and 3uarrelsome.
n one occasion he bro#e out most violently. * was e&as!erated. * never !unished my
boys, but this time * was very angry. * tried to reason with him. But he was adamant
and even tried to over/reach me.
1t last * !ic#ed u! a ruler lying at hand and delivered a blow on his arm. * trembled as
* struc# him. * dare say he noticed it. This was an entirely novel e&!erience for them
all. The boy cried out and begged to be forgiven. )e cried not because the beating
was !ainful to himC he could, if he had been so minded, have !aid me bac# in the
same coin, being a stoutly/built youth of seventeenC but he reali2ed my !ain in being
driven to this violent resource. %ever again after this incident did he disobey me. But
* still re!ent that violence. * am afriad * e&hibited before him that day not the s!irit,
but the brute, in me.
* have always been o!!osed to cor!oral !unishment. * remember only one occasion on
which * !hysically !unished one of my sons. * have therefore never until this day been
able to decide whether * was right or wrong in using the ruler. Probably it was
im!ro!er, for it was !rom!ted by anger and a desire to !unish. )ad it been an
e&!ression only of my distress, * should have considered it ,ustified. But the motive in
this case was mi&ed.
This incident set me thin#ing and taught me a better method of correcting students. *
do not #now whether that method would have availed on the occasion in 3uestion.
The youngster soon forgot the incident, and * do not thin# he ever showed great
im!rovement. But the incident made me understand better the duty of a teacher
towards his !u!ils.
-ases of misconduct on the !art of the boys often occurred after this, but * never
resorted to cor!oral !unishment. Thus in my endeavour to im!art s!iritual training to
the boys and girls under me, * came to understand better and better the !ower of the
s!irit.
CHAPTER )))(
T1+6S 1M%G T)6 5)61T
*t was at Tolstoy 0arm that Mr. Kallenbach drew my attention to a !roblem that had
never before struc# me. 1s * have already said, some of the boys at the 0arm were
bad and unruly. There were loafers, too amongst them. 5ith these my three boys
came in daily contact, as also did other children of the same ty!e as my own sons.
This troubled Mr. Kallenbach, but his attention was centred on the im!ro!riety of
#ee!ing my boys with these unruly youngsters.
ne day he s!o#e out' 7=our way of mi&ing your own boys with the bad ones does not
a!!eal to me. *t can have only one result.
They will become demorali2ed through this bad com!any.7 * do not remember whether
the 3uestion !u22led me at the moment, but * recollect what * said to him ' 7)ow can
* distinguish between my boys and the loafers@ * am e3ually res!onsible for both. The
youngsters have come because * invited them. *f * were to dismiss them with some
money, they would immediately run off to $ohannesburg and fall bac# into their old
ways. To tell you the truth, it is 3uite li#ely that they and their guardians believe
that, by having come here, they have laid me under an obligation. That they have to
!ut u! with a good deal of inconvenience here, you and * #now very well. But my duty
is clear. * must have them here, and therefore my boys also must live with them.
1nd surely, you do not want me to teach my boys to feel from today that they are
su!erior to other boys. To !ut that sense of su!eriority into their heads would be to
lead them stray. This association with other boys will be a good disci!line for them.
They will, of their own accord, learn to discriminate between good and evil. 5hy
should we not believe that, if there is really anything good in them, it is bound to
react on their com!anions@ )owever that may be, * cannot hel! #ee!ing them here,
and if that means some ris#, we must run it.7 Mr. Kallenbach shoo# his head.
The result, * thin#, cannot be said to have been bad. * do not consider my sons were
any the worse for the e&!eriment. n the contrary * can see that they gained
something. *f there was the slightest trace of su!eriority in them, it was destroyed
and they learnt to mi& with all #inds of children. They were tested and disci!lined.
This and similar e&!eriments have shown me that, if good children are taught
together with bad ones and thrown into their com!any, they will lose nothing,
!rovided the e&!eriment is conducted under the watchful case of their !arents and
guardians.
-hildren wra!!ed u! in cottonwool are not always !roof against all tem!tation or
contamination. *t is true, however, that when boys and girls of all #inds of u!bringing
are #e!t and taught together, the !arents and the teachers are !ut to the severest
test. They have constantly to be on the alert.
CHAPTER )))(I
01ST*%G 1S P6%1%-6
"ay by day it became increasingly clear to me how very difficult it was to bring u!
and educate boys and girls in the right way.
*f * was to be their real teacher and guardian, * must touch their hearts.
* must share their ,oys and sorrows, * must hel! them to solve the !roblems that faced
them, and * must ta#e along the right channel the surging as!irations of their youth.
n the release of some of the satyagrahis from ,ail, Tolstoy 0arm was almost denuded
of its inmates. The few that remained mostly belonged to Phoeni&. So * removed them
there. )ere * had to !ass through a fiery ordeal.
*n those days * had to move between $ohannesburg and Phoeni&. nce when * was in
$ohannesburg * received tidings of the moral fall of two of the inmates of the 1shram.
%ews of an a!!arent failure or reverse in the satyagraha struggle would not have
shoc#ed me, but this news came u!on me li#e a thunderbolt. The same day * too# the
train for Phoeni&. Mr. Kallenbach insisted on accom!anying me. )e had noticed the
state * was in. )e would not broo# the thought of my going alone, for he ha!!ened to
be the bearer of the tidings which had so u!set me.9 "uring the ,ourney my duty
seemed clear to me. * felt that the guardian or teacher was res!onsible, to some
e&tent at least, for the la!se of his ward or !u!il. So my res!onsibility regarding the
incident in 3uestion became clear to me as daylight. My wife had already warned me
in the matter, but being of a trusting nature,* had ignored her caution. * felt that the
only way the guilty!arties could be made to reali2e my distress and the de!th of their
own fall would be for me to do some !enance. So * im!osed u!on myself a fast for
seven days and a vow to have only one meal a day for a !eriod of four months and a
half. Mr. Kallenbach tried to dissuade me, but in vain. )e fully conceded the !ro!riety
of the !enance, and insisted on ,oining me. * could not resist his trans!arent
affection.
* felt greatly relieved, for the decision meant a heavy load off my mind. The anger
against the guilty !arties subsided and gave !lace to the !urest !ity for them. Thus
considerably eased, * reached Phoeni&. * made further investigation and ac3uainted
myself with some more details * needed to #now.
My !enance !ained everybody, but it cleared the atmos!here.
6veryone came to reali2e what a terrible thing it was to be sinful, and the bond that
bound me to the boys and girls became stronger and truer. 1 circumstance arising out
of this incident com!elled me, a little while after, to go into a fast for fourteen days,
the results of which e&ceeded even my e&!ectations.
*t is not my !ur!ose to ma#e out from these incidents that it is the duty of a teacher
to resort to fasting whenever there is a delin3uency on the !art of his !u!ils. * hold,
however, that some occa sions do call for this drastic remedy. But it !resu!!oses
clearness of vision and s!iritual fitness. 5here there is no true love between the
teacher and the !u!il, where the !u!il7s delin3uency has not touched the very being
of the teacher and where the !u!il has no res!ect for the teacher, fasting is out of
!lace and may even be harmful. Though there is thus room for doubting the !ro!riety
of fasts in such cases, 9 .ide 70ragment of 4etter7, 1!ril 88, 9<9E. there is no 3uestion
about the teacher7s res!onsibility for the errors of his !u!il.
The first !enance did not !rove difficult for any of us. * had to sus!end or sto! none
of my normal activities. *t may be recalled that during the whole of this !eriod of
!enance * was a strict fruitarian.
The latter !art of the second fast went fairly hard with me. * had not then com!letely
understood the wonderful efficacy of +amanama, and my ca!acity for suffering was to
that e&tent less. Besides, * did not #now the techni3ue of fasting, es!ecially the
necessity of drin#ing !lenty of water, however nauseating or distasteful it might be.
Then the fact that the first had been an easy affair had made me rather careless as to
the second. Thus during the first * too# Kuhne baths every day, but during the second *
gave them u! after two or three days, and dran# very little water, as it was
distasteful and !roduced nausea. The throat became !arched and wea# and during
the last days * could s!ea# only in a very low voice. *n s!ite of this, however, my wor#
was carried on through dictation where writing was necessary. * regularly listened to
readings from the +amayana and other sacred boo#s. * had also sufficient strength to
discuss and advise in all urgent matters.
CHAPTER )))(II
T M66T GK)146
* must s#i! many of the recollections of South 1frica.
1t the conclusion of the satyagraha struggle in 9<9E, * received Go#hale7s instructions
to return home via 4ondon. So in $uly Kasturbai, Kallenbach and * sailed for 6ngland.
"uring satyagraha * had begun travelling third class. * therefore too# third class
!assages for this voyage. But there was a good deal of difference between third/class
accommodation on the boat on this route and that !rovided on *ndian coastal boats or
railway trains.
There is hardly sufficient sitting, much less slee!ing, accommodation in the *ndian
service, and little cleanliness. "uring the voyage to 4ondon, on the other hand, there
was enough room and cleanliness, and the steamshi! com!any had !rovided s!ecial
facilities for us. The com!any had !rovided reserved closet accommodation for us,
and as we were fruitarians, the steward had orders to su!!ly us with fruits and nuts.
1s a rule third/class !assengers get little fruit or nuts. These facilities made our
eighteen days on the boat 3uite comfortable.
Some of the incidents during the voyage are well worth recording. Mr. Kallenbach was
very fond of binoculars, and had one or two costly !airs. 5e had daily discussions over
one of these. * tried to im!ress on him that this !ossession was not in #ee!ing with
the ideal of sim!licity that we as!ired to reach. ur discussions came to a head one
day, as we were standing near the !orthole of our cabin.
7+ather than allow these to be a bone of contention between us, why not throw them
into the sea and be done with them @7 said *.
7-ertainly throw the wretched things away,7 said Mr.
Kallenbach.
7* mean it,7 said *.
7So do *,7 3uic#ly came the re!ly.
1nd forthwith * flung them into the sea. They were worth some LF, but their value lay
less in their !rice than in Mr. Kallenbach7s infatuation for them. )owever, having got
rid of them, he never regretted it.
This is but one out of the many incidents that ha!!ened between Mr. Kallenbach and
me.
6very day we had to learn something new in this way, for both of us were trying to
tread the !ath of truth. *n the march towards truth, anger, selfishness, hatred, etc.,
naturally give way, for otherwise truth would be im!ossible to attain. 1 man who is
swayed by !assions may have good enough intentions, may be truthful in word, but he
will never find the truth. 1 successful search for truth means com!lete deliverance
from the dual throng such as of love and hate, ha!!iness and misery.
%ot much time had ela!sed since my fast when we started on our voyage. * had not
regained my normal strength. * used to stroll on dec# to get a little e&ercise, so as to
revive my a!!etite and digest what * ate. But even this e&ercise was beyond me,
causing !ain in the calves, so much so that on reaching 4ondon * found that * was
worse rather than better. There * came to #now "r. $ivra, Mehta. * gave him the
history of my fast and subse3uent !ain, and he said, 7*f you do not ta#e com!lete rest
for a few days, there is a fear of your legs going out of use.7 *t was then that * learned
that a man emerging from a long fast should not be in a hurry to regain lost strength,
and should also !ut a curb on his a!!etite. More caution and !erha!s more restraint
are necessary in brea#ing a fast than in #ee!ing it.
*n Madeira we heard that the great 5ar might brea# out at any moment. 1s we
entered the 6nglish -hannel, we received the news of its actual outbrea#. 5e were
sto!!ed for some time. *t was difficult business to tow the boat through the
submarine mines which had been laid throughout the -hannel, and it too# about two
days to reach Southam!ton.
5ar was declared on the Eth of 1ugust. 5e reached 4ondon on the ;th.
CHAPTER )))(III
M= P1+T *% T)6 51+
n arrival in 6ngland * learned that Go#hale had been stranded in Paris where he had
gone for reason of health, and as communication between Paris and 4ondon had been
cut off, there was no #nowing when he would return. * did not want to go home
without having seen him, but no one could say definitely when he would arrive.5hat
then was * to do in the meanwhile @ 5hat was my duty as regards the 5ar @ Sorab,i
1da,ania, my comrade in ,ail and a satyagrahi, was then reading for the bar in
4ondon. 1s one of the best satyagrahis he had been sent to 6ngland to 3ualify himself
as a barrister, so that he might ta#e my !lace on return to South 1frica.
"r. Pran,ivandas Mehta was !aying his e&!enses. 5ith him, and through him, * had
conferences with "r. $ivra, Mehta and others who were !rosecuting their studies in
6ngland. *n consultation with them, a meeting of the *ndian residents in Great Britian
and *reland was called. * !laced my views before them.
* felt that *ndians residing in 6ngland ought to do their bit in the 5ar. 6nglish students
had volunteered to serve in the army, and *ndians might do no less. 1 number of
ob,ections were ta#en to this line of argument. There was, it was contended, a world
of difference between the *ndians and the 6nglish. 5e were slaves and they were
masters. )ow could a slave co/o!erate with the master in the hour of the latter7s
need @ 5as it not the duty of the slave, see#ing to be free, to ma#e the master7s need
his o!!rtunity@ This argument failed to a!!eal to me then. * #new the difference of
status between an *ndian and an 6nglishman, but * did not believe that we had been
3uite reduced to slavery. * felt then that it was more the fault of individual British
officials than of the British system, and that we could convert them by love. *f we
would im!rove our status through the hel! and co/o!eration of the British, it was our
duty to win their hel! by standing by them in their hour of need. Though the system
was faulty, it did not seem to me to be intolerable, as it does today. But if, having lost
my faith in the system, * refuse to co/o!erate with the British Government today, how
could those friends then do so, having lost their faith not only in the system but in the
officials as well @ The o!!osing friends felt that that was the hour for ma#ing a bold
declaration of *ndian demands and for im!roving the status of *ndians.
* thought that 6ngland7s need should not be turned into our o!!ortunity, and that it
was more becoming and far/sighted not to !ress our demands while the 5ar lasted. *
therefore adhered to my advice and invited those who would to enlist as volunteers.9
There was a good res!onse, !ractically all the !rovinces and all the religions being
re!resented among the volunteers.
* wrote a letter to 4ord -rewe, ac3uainting him with these facts, and e&!ressing our
readiness to be trained for ambulance wor#, if that should be considered a condition
!recedent to the acce!tance of our offer.8 4ord -rewe acce!ted the offer after some
hesitation, and than#ed us for having tendered our services to the 6m!ire at that
critical hour.
The volunteers began their !reliminary training in first aid to the wounded under the
well/#nown "r. -antlieD. *t was a short course of si& wee#s, but it covered the whole
course of first/aid.
5e were a class of about :A. *n si& wee#s we were e&amined, and all e&ce!t one
!assed. 0or these the Government now !rovided military drill and other training.
-olonel Ba#er was !laced in charge of this wor#.
4ondon in these days was a sight worth seeing. There was no !anic, but all were busy
hel!ing to the best of their ability. 1ble bodied adults began training as combatants,
but what were the old, the infirm and the women to do@ There was enough wor# for
them, if they wanted. So they em!loyed themselves in cutting and ma#ing clothes and
dressings for the wounded.
The 4yceum, a ladies7 club, undertoo# to ma#e as many clothes for the soldiers as
they could. Shrimati Saro,ini %aidu was a member of this club, and threw herself
whole/heartedly into the wor#. This was my first ac3uaintance with her. She !laced
before me a hea! of clothes which had been cut to !attern, and as#ed me to get
them all sewn u! and return them to her. * welcomed her demand and with the
assistance of friends got as many clothes made as * could manage druing my training
for first/aid.
CHAPTER )))I)
1 SP*+*TU14 "*46MM1
1s soon as the news reached South 1frica that * along with other *ndians had offered
my services in the 5ar, * received two cables. ne of these was from Mr. Pola# who
3uestioned the consistency of my 9 .ide 71 -onfidential 4etter7, 1ugust 9D, 9<9E.
8 .ide 74etter to Under Secretary for *ndia7, 1ugust 9E, 9<9E.
D 1n authority on +ed -ross wor# action with my !rofession of ahimsa9 * had to a
certain e&tent antici!ated this ob,ection, for * had discussed the 3uestion in my )indu
Swara, or *ndian )ome +ule8, and used to discuss it day in and day out with friends in
South 1frica.
1ll of us recogni2ed the immorality of war. *f * was not !re!ared to !rosecute my
assailant, much less should * be willing to !artici!ate in a war, es!ecially when * #new
nothing of the ,ustice or otherwise of the cause of the combatants. 0riends of course
#new that * had !reviously served in the Boer 5ar, but they assumed that my views
had since undergone a change.
1s a matter of fact the very same line of argument that !ersuaded me to ta#e !art in
the Boer 5ar had weighed with me on this occasion. *t was 3uite clear to me that
!artici!ation in war could never be consistent with ahimsa. But it is not always given
to one to be e3ually clear about one7s duty. 1 votary of truth is often obliged to gro!e
in the dar#.
1himsa is a com!rehensive !rinci!le. 5e are hel!less mortals caught in the
conflagration of himsa. The saying that life lives on life has a dee! meaning in it. Man
cannot for a moment live without consciously or unconsciously committing outward
himsa. The very fact of his living/eating, drin#ing and moving aboutnecessarily
involves some himsa, destruction of life, be it ever so minute. 1 votary of ahimsa
therefore remains true to his faith if the s!ring of all his actions is com!assion, if he
shuns to the best of his ability the destruction of the tiniest creature, tries to save it,
and thus incessantly strives to be free from the deadly coil of himsa. )e will be
constantly growing in self/restraint and com!assion, but he can never become entirely
free from outward himsa.
Then again, because underlying ahimsa is the unity of all life, the error of one cannot
but affect all, and hence man cannot be wholly free from himsa. So long as he
continues to be a social being, he cannot but !artici!ate in the himsa that the very
e&istence of society involves. 5hen two nations are fighting, the duty of a votary of
ahimsa is to sto! the war. )e who is not e3ual to that duty, he who has no !ower of
resisting war, he who is not 3ualified to resist war, may ta#e !art in war, and yet
whole/heartedly try to free himself, his nation and the world from war.
* had ho!e to im!rove my status and that of my !eo!le through the the British
6m!ire. 5hilst in 6ngland * was en,oying the 9 *n his letters from 4ondon to Maganlal
Gandhi and Prag,i "esai, Gandhi,i e&!lained his attitude to the warC vide 74etter to
Maganlal Gandhi7, Se!tember 9:,E O 74etter to Prag,i "esai7, %ovember 9G, 9<9E.
8 .ide 7)ind Swara,7.
!rotection of the British 0leet, and ta#ing shelter as * did under its armed might, * was
directly !artici!ating in its !otential violence.
Therefore, if * desired to retain my connection with the 6m!ire and to live under its
banner, one of three courses was o!en to me ' * could declare o!en resistance to the
5ar and, in accordance with the law of satyagraha, boycott the 6m!ire until it
changed its military !olicyC or * could see# im!risonment by civil disobedience of such
of its laws as were fit to be disobeyedC or * could !artici!ate in the 5ar on the side of
the 6m!ire and thereby ac3uire the ca!acity and fitness for resisting the violence of
war. * lac#ed this ca!acity and fitness, so * thought there was nothing for it but to
serve in the 5ar.
* ma#e no distinction, from the !oint of view of ahimsa, between combatants and
non/combatants. )e who volunteers to serve a band of dacoits, by wor#ing as their
carrier, or their watchman while they are about their business, or their nurse when
they are wounded, is as much guilty of dacoity as the dacoits themselves. *n the same
way those who confine themselves to attending to the wounded in battle cannot be
absolved from the guilt of war.
* had argued the whole thing out to myself in this manner, before * received Pola#7s
cable, and soon after its recei!t, * discussed these views with several friends and
concluded that it was my duty to offer to serve in the 5ar. 6ven today * see no flaw in
that line of argument, nor am * sorry for my action, holding, as * then did, views
favourable to the British connection.
* #now that even then * could not carry conviction with all my friends about the
correctness of my !osition. The 3uestion is subtle. *t admits of differences of o!inion,
and therefore * have submitted my argument as clearly as !ossible to those who
believe in ahimsa and who are ma#ing serious efforts to !ractise it in every wal# of
life. 1 devotee of Truth may not do anything in deference to convention. )e must
always hold himself o!en to correction, and whenever he discovers himself to be
wrong he must confess it at all costs and atone for it.
CHAPTER )
M*%*1TU+6 S1T=1G+1)1
Though * thus too# !art in the 5ar as a matter of duty, it chanced that * was not only
unable directly to !artici!ate in it, but actually com!elled to offer what may be
called miniature satyagraha even at that critical ,uncture.
* have already said that an officer9 was a!!ointed in charge of our training, as soon as
our names were a!!roved and enlisted. 5e 9 -ol. +. $. Ba#er were all under the
im!ression that this -ommanding fficer was to be our chief only so far as technical
matters were concerned, and that in all other matters * was the head of our -or!s,
which was directly res!onsible to me in matters of internal disci!lineC that is to say,
the -ommanding fficer had to deal with the -or!s through me. But from the first the
fficer left us under no such delusion.
Mr. Sorab,i 1da,ania was a shrewd man. )e warned me.
7Beware of this man,7 he said, 7)e seems inclined to lord it over us.
5e will have one of his orders. 5e are !re!ared to loo# u!on him as our instructor.
But the youngsters he has a!!ointed to instruct us also feel as though they had come
as our masters.7 These youngsters were &ford students who had come to instruct us
and whom the -ommanding fficer had a!!ointed to be our section leaders.
* also had not failed to notice the high/handedness of the -ommanding fficer, but *
as#ed Sorab,i not to be an&ious and tried to !acify him. But he was not the man to be
easily convinced.
7=ou are too trusting. These !eo!le will deceive you with wretched words, and when
at last you see through them, you will as# us to resort to satyagraha, and so come to
grief, and bring us all to grief along with you,7 said he with a smile.
75hat else but grief can you ho!e to come to after having cast in your lot with me@7
said *. 71 satyagrahi is born to be deceived. 4et the -ommanding fficer deceive us.
)ave * not told you times without number that ultimately a deceiver only deceives
himself @7 Sorab,i gave a loud laugh. 75ell, then,7 said he, 7continue to be deceived.
=ou wil some day meet your death in satyagraha and drag !oor mortals li#e me behind
you.7 These words !ut me in mind of what the late Miss 6mily )obhouse wrote to me
with regard to non/co/o!eration ' 7* should not be sur!rised if one of these days you
have to go to the gallows for the sa#e of truth. May God show you the right !ath and
!rotect you.7 The tal# with Sorab,i too# !lace ,ust after the a!!ointment of the
-ommanding fficer. *n a very few days our relations with him reached the brea#ing
!oint. * had hardly regained my strength after the fourteen days7 fast, when * began
to ta#e !art in the drill, often wal#ing to the a!!ointed !lace about two miles from
home. This gave me !leurisy and laid me low. *n this condition * had to go wee#/end
cam!ing. 5hilst the others stayed there, * returned home. *t was here that an
occasion arose for satyagraha.
The -ommanding fficer began to e&ercise his authority som ewhat freely. )e gave us
clearly to understand that he was our head in all matters, military and non/military,
giving us at the same time a taste of his authority. Sorab,i hurried to me. )e was not
at all !re!ared to !ut u! with this high/handedness. )e said C 75e must have all order
through you. 5e are still in the training cam! and all sorts of absurd orders are being
issued. *nvidious distinctions are made between ourselves and those youths who have
been a!!ointed to instruct us.
5e must have it out with the -ommanding fficer, otherwise we shall not be able to
go on any longer. The *ndian students and others who have ,oined our -or!s are not
going to abide by any absurd orders. *n a cause which has been ta#en u! for the sa#e
of self/res!ect, it is unthin#able to !ut u! with loss of it.7 * a!!roached the
-ommanding fficer and drew his attention to the com!laints * had received. )e
wrote as#ing me to set out the com!laints in writing, at the same time as#ing me 7to
im!ress u!on those who com!lain that the !ro!er direction in which to ma#e
com!laints is to me through their section commanders, now a!!ointed, who will
inform me through the instructors.7 To this * re!lied saying that * claimed no authority,
that in the military sense * was no more than any other !rivate, but that * had
believed that as -hairman of the .olunteer -or!s, * should be allowed unofficially to
act as their re!resentative. * also set out the grievances and re3uests that had been
brought to my notice, namely, that grievous dissatisfaction had been caused by the
a!!ointment of section leaders without reference to the feeling of the members of
the cor!sC that they be recalled, and the -or!s be invited to elect section leaders,
sub,ect to the -ommander7s a!!roval.
This did not a!!eal to the -ommanding fficer, who said it was re!ugnant to all
military disci!line that the section leaders should be elected by the -or!s, and that
the recall of a!!ointments already made would be subversive of all disci!line.
So we held a meeting and decided u!on withdrawal. * brought home to the members
the serious conse3uences of satyagraha. But a very large ma,ority voted for the
resolution, which was to the effect that, unless the a!!ointments of -or!orals already
made were recalled and the members of the -or!s given an o!!ortunity of electing
their own -or!orals, the members would be obliged to abstain from further drilling
and wee#/end cam!ing.
* then addressed a letter to the -ommanding fficer telling him what a severe
disa!!ointment his letter re,ecting my suggestion had been. * assured him that * was
not fond of any e&ercise of authority and that * was most an&ious to serve. * also drew
his attention to a !recedent. * !ointed out that, although * occu!ied no offical ran# in
the South 1frican *ndian 1mbulance -or!s at the time of the Boer 5ar, there was
never a hitch between -olonel Gallwey and the -or!s, and the -olonel never too# a
ste! without reference to me with a view to ascertain the wishes of the -or!s. * also
enclosed a co!y of the resolution we had !assed the !revious evening.
This had no good effect on the officer, who felt that the meeting and the resolution
were a grave breach of disci!line.
)ereu!on * addressed a letter to the Secretary of State for *ndia, ac3uainting him
with all the facts and enclosing a co!y of the resolution. )e re!lied e&!laining that
conditions in South 1frica were different, and drawing my attention to the fact that
under the rules the section commanders were a!!ointed by the -ommanding fficer,
but assuring me that in future, when a!!ointing section commanders, the
-ommanding fficer would consider my recommendations.
1 good deal of corres!ondence9 !assed between us after this, but * do not want to
!rolong the bitter tale. Suffice it to say that my e&!erience was of a !iece with the
e&!eriences we daily have in *ndia.
5hat with threats and what with adroitness the -ommanding fficer succeeded in
creating a division in our -or!s. Some of those who had voted for the resolution
yielded to the -ommander7s threats or !ersuasions and went bac# on their !romise.
1bout this time an une&!ectedly large contingent of wounded soldiers arrived at the
%etley )os!ital, and the services of our -or!s were re3uisitioned. Those whom the
-ommanding fficer could !ersuade went to %etley. The others refused to go. * was
on my bac#, but was in communication with the members of the -or!s.
Mr. +oberts, the Under/Secretary of State, honoured me with many calls during those
days. )e insisted on my !ersuading the others to serve. )e suggested that they should
form a se!arate -or!s and that at the %etley )os!ital they could be res!onsible only
to the -ommanding fficer there, so that there would be no 3uestion of loss of self/
res!ect, Government would be be !lacated, and at the same time hel!ful service
would be rendered to the large number of wounded received at the hos!ital. This
suggestion a!!ealed both to my com!anions and to me, with the result that those
who had stayed away also went to %etley.
nly * remained away, lying on my bac# and ma#ing the best of a bad ,ob.
9 .ide 74etter to -ol. +. $. Ba#er7, ctober 9D O 9E, 9<9E.
CHAPTER )I
GK)1467S -)1+*T=
* have already referred to the attac# of !leurisy * had in 6ngland. Go#hale returned to
4ondon soon after. Kallenbach and * used regularly to go to him. ur tal#s were mostly
about the 5ar, and as Kallenbach had the geogra!hy of Germany at his fingerti!s, and
had travelled much in 6uro!e, he used to show him on the ma! the various !laces in
connection with the 5ar.
5hen * got !leurisy this also became a to!ic of daily discussion.
My dietetic e&!eriments were going on even then. My diet consisted, among other
things, of groundnuts, ri!e and unri!e bananas, lemon, olive oil, tomatoes and
gra!es. * com!letely eschewed mil#, cereals, !ulses and other things.
"r. $ivra, Mehta treated me. )e !ressed me hard to resume mil# and cereals, but *
was obdurate. The matter reached Go#hale7s ears.
)e had not much regard for my reasoning in favour of a fruitarian diet, and he wanted
me to ta#e whatever the doctor !rescribed for my health.*t was no easy thing for me
not to yield to Go#hale7s !ressure.
5hen he would not ta#e a refusal, * begged him to give me twenty four hours for
thin#ing over the 3uestion. 1s Kallenbach and * returned home that evening, we
discussed where my duty lay. )e had been with me in my e&!eriment. )e li#ed it, but
* saw that he was agreeable to my giving it u! if my health demanded it. So * had to
decide for myself according to the dictates of the inner voice.
* s!ent the whole night thin#ing over the matter. To give u! the e&!eriment would
mean renouncing all my ideas in that direction, and yet * found no flaw in them. The
3uestion was how far * should yield to Go#hale7s loving !ressure, and how far * might
modify my e&!eriment in the so/called interests of health. * finally decided to adhere
to the e&!eriment in so far as the motive behind was chiefly religious, and to yield to
the doctor7s advice where the motive was mi&ed. +eligious considerations had been
!redominant in the giving u! of mil#. * had before me a !icture of the wic#ed
!rocesses the govals in -alcutta ado!ted to e&tract the last dro! of mil# from their
cows and buffaloes. * also had the feeling that, ,ust as meat was not man7s food, even
so animal7s mil# could not be man7s food. So * got u! in the morning with the
determination to adhere to my resolve to abstain from mil#. This greatly relieved me.
* dreaded to a!!roach Go#hale, but * trusted him to res!ect my decision.
*n the evening Kallenbach and * called on Go#hale at the %ational 4iberal -lub. The
first 3uestion he as#ed me was ' 75ell, have you decided to acce!t the doctor7s
advice @7 * gently but firmly re!lied ' 7* am willing to yield on all !oints e&ce!t one
about which * beg you not to !ress me. * will not ta#e mil#, mil#/!roducts or meat. *f
not to ta#e these things should mean my death, * feel * had better face it.7 7*t this
your final decision @7 as#ed Go#hale.
7* am afraid * cannot decide otherwise,7 said *. 7* #now that my decision will !ain you,
but * beg your forgiveness.7 5ith a certain amount of !ain but with dee! affection,
Go#hale said ' 7* do not a!!rove of your decision, * do not see any religion in it. But *
won7t !ress you any more.7 5ith these words he turned to "r.
$ivra, Mehta and said ' 7Please don7t worry him any more. Prescribe anything you li#e
within the limit he has set for himself.7 The doctor e&!ressed dissent, but was
hel!less. )e advised me to ta#e mung sou!, with a dash of asafoetida in it. To this *
agreed. * too# it for a day or two, but it increased my !ain. 1s * did not find it
suitable, * went bac# to fruits and nuts. The doctor of course went on with his
e&ternal treatment. The latter somewhat relieved my !ain, but my restrictions were
to him a sore handica!.
Meanwhile Go#hale left for home, as he could not stand the ctober fogs of 4ondon.
CHAPTER )II
T+61TM6%T 0 P46U+*S=
The !ersistence of the !leurisy caused some an&iety, but * #new that the cure lay not
in ta#ing medicine internally but in dietetic changes assisted by e&ternal remedies.
* called in "r. 1llinson of vegetarian fame, who treated diseases by dietetic
modifications and whom * had met in 9:<A. )e thoroughly overhauled me. * e&!lained
to him how * had !ledged myself not to ta#e mil#. )e cheered me u! and said ' 7=ou
need not ta#e mil#. *n fact * want you to do without any fat for some days.7 )e then
advised me to live on !lain brown bread, raw vegetables such as beet, radish, onion
and other tubers and greens, and also fresh fruit, mainly oranges. The vegetables
were not to be coo#ed but merely grated fine, if * could not masticate them.
* ado!ted this for about three days, but raw vegetables did not 3uite suit me. My body
was not in a condition to enable me to do full ,ustice to the e&!eriment. * was
nervous about ta#ing raw vegetables.
"r. 1llinson also advised me to #ee! all the windows of my room o!en for the whole
twenty/four hours, bathe in te!id water, have an oil massage on the affected !arts
and a wal# in the o!en for fifteen to thirty minutes. * li#ed all these suggestions.
My room had 0rench windows which, if #e!t wide o!en, would let in the rain. The
fanlight could not be o!ened. * therefore got the glass bro#en, so as to let in fresh air,
and * !artially o!ened the windows in a manner not to let in rain.
1ll these measures somewhat im!roved my health, but did not com!letely cure me.
4ady -ecilia +oberts occasionally called on me. 5e became friends. She wanted very
much to !ersuade me to ta#e mil#. But as * was unyielding, she hunted about for a
substitute for mil#. Some friend suggested to her malted mil#, assuring her 3uite
un#nowingly that it was absolutely free from mil#, and that it was a chemical
!re!aration with all the !ro!erties of mil#. 4ady -ecilia, * #new, had a great regard
for my religious scru!les, and so * im!licity trusted her. * dissolved the !owder in
water and too# it only to find that it tasted ,ust li#e mil#. * read the label on the
bottle, to find, only too late, that it was a !re!aration of mil#. So * gave it u!.
* informed 4ady -ecilia about the discovery, as#ing her not to worry over it. She came
!ost/haste to me to say how sorry she was.
)er friend had not read the label at all. * begged her not to be an&ious and e&!ressed
my regret that * could not avail myself of the thing she had !rocured with so much
trouble. * also assured her that * did not at all feel u!set or guilty over having ta#en
mil# under a misa!!re hension.
* must s#i! over many other sweet reminiscences of my contact with 4ady -ecilia. *
could thin# of many friends who have been a source of great comfort to me in the
midst of trials and disa!! ointments. ne who has faith reads in them the merciful
!rovidence of God, who thus sweetens sorrow itself.
"r. 1llinson, when he ne&t called, rela&ed his restrictions and !ermitted me to have
groundnut butter or olive oil for the sa#e of fat, and to ta#e the vegetables coo#ed, if
* chose, with rice. These changes were 3uite welcome, but they were far from giving
me a com!lete cure. .ery careful nursing was still necessary, and * was obliged to
#ee! mostly in bed.
"r. Mehta occasionally loo#ed in to e&amine me and held out a standing offer to cure
me if only * would listen to his advice.
5hilst things were going on in this way, Mr. +oberts one day came to see me and
urged me very strongly to go home. 7=ou cannot !ossibly go to %etley in this
condition. There is still severer cold ahead of us. * would strongly advise you to get
bac# to *ndia, for it is only there that you can be com!letely cured. *f, after your
recovery, you should find the 5ar still going on, you will have many o!!ortunities
there of rendering hel!. 1s it is, * do not regard what you have already done as by any
means a mean contribution.7 * acce!ted his advice ad began to ma#e !re!arations for
returning to *ndia.
CHAPTER )III
)M651+"
Mr. Kallenbach had accom!anied me to 6ngland with a view to going to *ndia. 5e
were staying together and of course wanted to sail by the same boat. Germans,
however, were under such strict surveillance that we had our doubts about Mr.
Kallenbach getting a !ass!ort. * did my best to get it, and Mr. +oberts, who was in
favour of his getting his !ass!ort, sent a cable to the .iceroy in this behalf. But
straight came 4ord )ardinge7s re!ly ' 7+egret Government of *ndia not !re!ared to
ta#e any such ris#.7 1ll of us understood the force of the re!ly.
*t was a great wrench for me to !art from Mr. Kallenbach, but * could see that his
!ang was greater. -ould he have come to *ndia, he would have been leading today the
sim!le ha!!y life of a farmer and weaver. %ow he is in South 1frica, leading his old
life and doing bris# business as an architect.
5e wanted a third/class !assage, but as there was none available on P. and . boats,
we had to go second.
5e too# with us the dried fruit we had carried from South 1frica, as most of it would
not be !rocurable on the boat, where fresh fruit was easily available.
"r. $ivra, Mehta had bandaged my ribs with 7Mede7s Plaster7 and had as#ed me not to
remove it till we reached the +ed Sea. 0or two days * !ut u! with the discomfort, but
finally it became too much for me. *t was with considerable difficulty that * managed
to undo the !laster and regain the liberty of having a !ro!er wash and bath.
My diet consisted mostly of nuts and fruits. * found that * was im!roving every day and
felt very much better by the time we entered the Sue2 -anal. * was wea#, but felt
entirely out of danger, and * gradually went on increasing my e&ercise. The
im!rovement * attributed largely to the !ure air of the tem!erate 2one.
5hether it was due to !ast e&!erience or to any other reason, * do not #now, but the
#ind of distance * notice between the 6nglish and *ndian !assengers on the boat was
something * had not observed even on my voyage from South 1frica. * did tal# to a few
6nglishmen, but the tal# was mostly formal. There were hardly any cordial
conversations such as had certainly ta#en !lace on the South 1frican boats. The
reason for this was, * thin#, to be found in the conscious or unconscious feeling at the
bac# of the 6nglishman7s mind that he belonged to the ruling race, and the feeling at
the bac# of the *ndian7s mind that he belonged to the sub,ect race.
* was eager to reach home and get free from this atmos!here.
n arriving at 1den we already began to feel somewhat at home. 5e #new the
1denwallas very well, having met Mr. Ke#obad Kavas,i "inshaw in "urban and come in
close contact with him and his wife.
1 few days more and we reached Bombay. *t was such a ,oy to get bac# to the
homeland after an e&ile of ten years.
Go#hale had ins!ired a rece!tion for me in Bombay,9 where he had come in s!ite of
his delicate health. * had a!!roached *ndia in the ardent ho!e of merging myself in
him, and thereby feeling free. But fate had willed it otherwise.
CHAPTER )I(
SM6 +6M*%*S-6%-6S 0 T)6 B1+
Before coming to a narrative of the course my life too# in *ndia, it seems necessary to
recall a few of the South 1frican e&!eriences which * have deliberately left out.
Some lawyer friends have as#ed me to give my reminiscences of the bar. The number
of these is so large that, if * were to describe them all, they would occu!y a volume
by themselves and ta#e me out of my sco!e. But it may not !erha!s be im!ro!er to
recall some of those which bear u!on the !ractice of truth.
So far as * can recollect, * have already said that * never resorted to untruth in my
!rofession, and that a large !art of my legal !ractice was in the interest of !ublic
wor#, for which * charged nothing beyond out/of/!oc#et e&!enses, and these too *
sometimes met myself. * had thought that in saying this * had said all that was
necessary as regards my legal !ractice. But friends want me to do more. They seem to
thin# that, if * described how ever slightly some of the occasions when * refused to
swerve from the truth, the legal !rofession might !rofit by it.
1s a student * had heard that the lawyer7s !rofession was a liar7s !rofession. But this
did not influence me, as * had no intention of earning either !osition or money by
lying.
My !rinci!le was !ut to the test many a time in South 1frica.
ften * #new that my o!!onents had tutored their witnesses, and if * only encouraged
my client or his witnesses to lie, we could win the case. But * always resisted the
tem!tation. * remember only one 9 .ide 7S!eech at Public +ece!tion, Bombay7,
$anuary 99, 9<9G occasion when, after having won a case, * sus!ected that my client
had deceived me. *n my heart of hearts * always wished that * should win only if my
client7s case was right. *n fi&ing my fees * do not recall ever having made them
conditional on my winning the case. 5hether my client won or lost, * e&!ected
nothing more nor less than my fees. * warned every new client at the outset that he
should not e&!ect me to ta#e u! a false case or to coach the witnesses, with the
result that * built u! such a re!utation that no false cases used to come to me. *ndeed
some of my clients would #ee! their clean cases for me, and ta#e the doubtful ones
elsewhere.
There was one case which !roved a severe trial. *t was brought to me by one of my
best clients. *t was a case of highly com!licated accounts and had been a !rolonged
one. *t had been heard in !arts before several courts. Ultimately the boo#/#ee!ing
!ortion of it was entrusted by the court to the arbitration of some 3ualified
accountants. The award was entirely in favour of my client, but the arbitrators had
inadvertently committed an error in calculation which, however small, was serious,
inasmuch as an entry which ought to have been on the debit side was made on the
credit side. The o!!onents had o!!osed the award on other grounds. * was ,unior
counsel for my client. 5hen the senior counsel became aware of the error, he was of
o!inion that our client was not bound to admit it. )e was clearly of o!inion that no
counsel was bound to admit anything that went against his client7s interest. * said we
ought to admit the error.
But the senior counsel contended ' 7*n that case there is every li#elihood of the court
cancelling the whole award, and no sane counsel would im!eril his client7s case to
that e&tent. 1t any rate * would be the last man to ta#e any such ris#. *f the case
were to be sent u! for a fresh hearing, one could never tell what e&!enses our client
might have to incur, and what the ultimate result might be B7 The client was !resent
when this conversation too# !lace.
* said ' 7* feel that both our client and we ought to run the ris#.
5here is the certainty of the court u!holding a wrong award sim!ly because we do
not admit the error @ 1nd su!!osing the admission were to bring the client to grief,
what harm is there @7 7But why should we ma#e the admission at all @7 said the senior
counsel.
75here is the surety of the court not detecting the error or our o!!onent not
discovering it @7 said *.
75ell then, will you argue the case @ * am not !re!ared to argue it on your terms,7
re!lied the senior counsel with decision.
* humbly answered ' 7*f you will not argue, then * am !re!ared to do so, if our client
so desires. * shall have nothing to do with the case if the error is not admitted.7 5ith
this * loo#ed at my client. )e was a little embarrassed. * had been in the case from
the very first. The client fully trusted me, and #new me through and through. )e
said ' 75ell, then, you will argue the case and admit the error. 4et us lose, if that is to
be our lot.
God defends the right.7 * was delighted. * had e&!ected nothing less from him. The
senior counsel again warned me, !itied me for my obduracy, but congratulated me all
the same.
5hat ha!!ened in the court we shall see in the ne&t cha!ter.
CHAPTER )(
S)1+P P+1-T*-6 @
* had no doubt about the soundness of my advice, but * doubted very much my fitness
for doing full ,ustice to the case. * felt it would be a most ha2ardous underta#ing to
argue such a difficult case before the Su!reme -ourt, and * a!!eared before the
Bench in fear and trembling.
1s soon as * referred to the error in the accounts, one of the ,udges said ' 7*s not this
shar! !ractice, Mr. Gandhi @7 * boiled within to hear this charge. *t was intolerable to
be accused of shar! !ractice when there was not the slightest warrant for it.
75ith a ,udge !re,udiced from the start li#e this, there is little chance of success in
this difficult case,7 * said to myself. But * com!osed my thoughts and answered ' 7* am
sur!rised that =our 4ordshi! should sus!ect shar! !ractice without hearing me out.7
7%o 3uestion of a charge,7 said the ,udge. 7*t is a mere suggestion.7 7The suggestion
here seems to me to amount to a charge. * would as# =our 4ordshi! to hear me out
and then arraign me if there is any occasion for it.7 7* am sorry to have interru!ted
you,7 re!lied the ,udge. 7Prey do go on with your e&!lanation of the discre!ancy.7 *
had enough material in su!!ort of my e&!lanation. Than#s to the ,udge having raised
this 3uestion, * was able to rivet the -ourt7s attention on my argument from the very
start. * felt much encouraged and too# the o!!ortunity of entering into a detailed
e&!lanation. The -ourt gave me a !atient hearing, and * was able to convince the
,udges that the discre!ancy was due entirely to inadvertence. They therefore did not
feel dis!osed to cancel the whole award, which had involved considerable labour.
The o!!osing counsel seemed to feel secure in the belief that not much argument
would be needed after the error had been admitted. But the ,udges continued to
interru!t him, as they were convinced that the error was a sli! which could be easily
rectified.
The counsel laboured hard to attac# the award, but the ,udge who had originally
started with the sus!icion had now come round definitely to my side.
7Su!!osing Mr. Gandhi had not admitted the error, what would you have done @7 he
as#ed.
7*t was im!ossible for us to secure the services of a more com!etent and honest
e&!ert accountant than the one a!!ointed by us.7 7The -ourt must !resume that you
#now your case best. *f you cannot !oint out anything beyond the sli! which any
e&!ert accountant is liable to commit, the -ourt will be loath to com!el the !arties
to go in for fresh litigation and fresh e&!enses because of a !atent mista#e. 5e may
not order a fresh hearing when such an error can be easily corrected,7 continued the
,udge.
1nd so the counsel7s ob,ection was overruled. The -ourt either confirmed the award,
with the error rectified, or ordered the arbitrator to rectify the error, * forget which.
* was delighted. So were client and senior counselC and * was confirmed in my
conviction that it was not im!ossible to !ractise law without com!romising truth.
4et the reader, however, remember that even truthfulness in the !ractice of the
!rofession cannot cure it of the fundamental defect that vitiates it.
CHAPTER )(I
-4*6%TS TU+%6" -/5+K6+S
The distinction between the legal !ractice in %atal and that in the Transvaal was that
in %atal there was a ,oint barC a barrister, whilst he was admitted to the ran# of
advocate, could also !ractise as an attorneyC whereas in the Transvaal, as in Bombay,
the s!heres of attorneys and advocates were distinct. 1 barrister had the right of
election whether he would !ractise as an advocate or as an attorney.
So whilst in %atal * was admitted as an advocate, in the Transvaal * sought admission
as an attorney. 0or as an advocate * could not have come in direct contact with the
*ndians and the white attorneys in South 1frica would not have briefed me.
But even in the Transvaal it was o!en to attorneys to a!!ear before magistrates. n
one occasion, whilst * was conducting a case before a magistrate in $ohannesburg, *
discovered that my client had deceived me. * saw him com!letely brea# down in the
witness bo&.
So without any argument * as#ed the magistrate to dismiss the case.
The o!!osing counsel was astonished, and the magistrate was !leased.
* rebu#ed my client for bringing a false case to me. )e #new that * never acce!ted
false cases, and when * brought the thing home to him, he admitted his mista#e, and *
have an im!ression that he was not angry with me for having as#ed the magistrate to
decide against him.
1t any rate my conduct in this case did not affect my !ractice for the worse, indeed it
made my wor# easier. * also saw that my devotion to truth enhanced my re!utation
amongst the members of the !rofession, and in s!ite of the handica! of colour * was
able in some cases to win even their affection.
"uring my !rofessional wor# it was also my habit never to conceal my ignorance from
my clients or my colleagues. 5herever * felt myself at sea, * would advise my client to
consult some other counsel, or if he !referred to stic# to me, * would as# him to let
me see# the assistance of senior counsel. This fran#ness earned me the unbounded
affection and trust of my clients. They were always willing to !ay the fee whenever
consultation with senior counsel was necessary. This affection and trust served me in
good stead in my !ublic wor#.
* have indicated in the foregoing cha!ters that my ob,ect in !ractising in South 1frica
was service of the community. 6ven for this !ur!ose, winning the confidence of the
!eo!le was an indis/!ensable condition. The large/hearted *ndians magnified into
service !rofessional wor# done for money, and when * advised them to suffer the
hardshi!s of im!risonment for the sa#e of their rights, many of them cheerfully
acce!ted the advice, not so much because they had reasoned out the correctness of
the course, as because of their confidence in, and affection for, me.
1s * write this, many a sweet reminiscence comes to my mind.
)undreds of clients became friends and real co/wor#ers in !ublic service, and their
association sweetened a life that was otherwise full of difficulties and dangers.
CHAPTER )(II
)5 1 -4*6%T 51S S1.6"
The reader, by now, will be 3uite familiar with Parsi +ustom,i7s name.9 )e was one
who became at once my client and cowor#er, or !erha!s it would be truer to say that
he first became co/wor#er and then client. * won his confidence to such an e&tent
that he sought and followed my advice also in !rivate domestic matters. 6ven when
he was ill, he would see# my aid, and though there was much difference between our
ways of living, he did not hesitate to acce!t my 3uac# treatment.
This friend once got into a very bad scra!e. Though he #e!t me informed of most of
his affairs, he had studiously #e!t bac# one thing. )e was a large im!orter of goods
from Bombay and -alcutta, and not infre3uently he resorted to smuggling. But as he
was on the best terms with customs officials, no one was inclined to sus!ect him.
*n charging duty, they used to ta#e his invoices on trust. Some might even have
connived at the smuggling.
But to use the telling simile of the Gu,arati !oet 1#ho, theft li#e 3uic#silver won7t be
su!!ressed, and Parsi +ustom,i7s !roved no e&ce!tion. The good friend ran !ost/haste
to me, the tears rolling down his chee#s as he said ' 7Bhai, * have deceived you. My
guilt has been discovered today. * have smuggled and * am doomed. * must go to ,ail
and be ruined. =ou alone may be able to save me from this !redicament. * have #e!t
bac# nothing else from you, but * thought * ought not to bother you with such tric#s of
the trade, and so * never told you about this smuggling. But now, how much * re!ent it
B7 * calmed him and said ' 7To save or not to save you is in )is hands. 1s to me you
#now my way. * can but try to save you by means of confession.7 The good Parsi felt
dee!ly mortified.
7But is not my confession before you enough @7 he as#ed.
7=ou have wronged not me but Government. )ow will the confession made before me
avail you @7 * re!lied gently.
7f course * will do ,ust as you advise, but will you not consult with my old counsel
Mr.@ )e is a friend too,7 said Parsi +ustom,i.
*n3uiry revealed that the smuggling had been going on for a long time, but the actual
offence detected involved a trifling sum. 5e 9 Gandhi,i mentions +ustom,i7s name so
that it 7should be remembered as long as the autobiogra!hy is recogni2ed as an
im!ortant wor#7. .ide 74etter to Manilal and Sushila Gandhi7, $uly 9G, 9<8:.
went to his counsel. )e !erused the !a!ers, and said ' 7The case will be tried by a
,ury, and a %atal ,ury will be the last to ac3uit an *ndian.
But * will not give u! ho!e.7 * did not #now this counsel intimately. Parsi +ustom,i
interce!ted ' 7* than# you, but * should li#e to be guided by Mr.
Gandhi7s advice in this case. )e #nows me intimately. f course you will advise him
whenever necessary.7 )aving thus shelved the counsel7s 3uestion, we went to Parsi
+ustom,i7s sho!.
1nd now e&!laining my view * said to him ' 7* don7t thin# this case should be ta#en to
court at all. *t rests with the -ustoms fficer to !rosecute you or to let you go, and
he in turn will have to be guided by the 1ttorney General. * am !re!ared to meet
both. * !ro!ose that you should offer to !ay the !enalty they fi&, and the odds are
that they will be agreeable. But if they are not, you must be !re!ared to go to ,ail. *
am of o!inion that the shame lies not so much in going to ,ail as in committing the
offence. The deed of shame has already been done. *m!risionment you should regard
as a !enance. The real !enance lies in resolving never to smuggle again.7 * cannot say
that Parsi +ustom,i too# all this 3uite well. )e was a brave man, but his courage
failed him for the moment. )is name and fame were at sta#e, and where would he be
if the edifice he had reared with such care and labour should go to !ieces @ 75ell, *
have told you,7 he said, 7that * am entirely in your hands. =ou may do ,ust as you li#e.7
* brought to bear on this case all my !owers of !ersuasion. * met the -ustoms fficer
and fearlessly a!!rised him of the whole affair. * also !romised to !lace all the boo#s
at his dis!osal and told him how !enitent Parsi +ustom,i was feeling.
The -ustoms fficer said ' 7* li#e the old Parsi. * am sorry he has made a fool of
himself. =ou #now where my duty lies. * must be guided by the 1ttorney General and
so * would advise you to use all your !ersuasion with him.7 7* shall be than#ful,7 said *,
7if you do not insist on dragging him into court.7 )aving got him to !romise this, *
entered into corres!ondence with the 1ttorney General and also met him. * am glad
to say that he a!!reciated my com!lete fran#ness and was convinced that * had #e!t
bac# nothing.
* now forget whether it was in connection with this or with some other case that my
!ersistence and fran#ness e&torted from him the remar#' 7* see you will never ta#e a
no for an answer.7 The case against Parsi +ustom,i was com!romised. )e was to !ay a
!enalty e3ual to twice the amount he had confessed to having smuggled. +ustom,i
reduced to writing the facts of the whole case, got the !a!er framed and hung it u!
in his office to serve as a !er!etual reminder to his heirs and fellow/merchants.
These friends of +ustom,i warned me not to be ta#en in by this transitory contrition.
5hen * told +ustom,i about this warning he said' 75hat would be my fate if * deceived
you@7
!#TCA$TE
5ith my mother(s !ermission and blessings, * set off e&ultantly for Bombay, leaving my
wife with a baby of a few months. But on arrival there friends told my brother that
the *ndian cean was rough in $une and $uly, and as this was my first voyage, * should
not be allowed to sail until %ovember. Someone also re!orted that a steamer had ,ust
been sun# in a gale. This made my brother uneasy, and he refused to ta#e the ris# of
allowing me to sail immediately. 4eaving me with a friend in Bombay, he returned to
+a,#ot to resume his duty. )e !ut the money for my travelling e&!enses in the #ee!ing
of a brother/in/law, and left word with some friends to give me whatever hel! * might
need.
Time hung heavily on my hands in Bombay. * dreamt continually of going to 6ngland.
Meanwhile my caste/!eo!le were agitated over my going abroad. %o Modh Bania had
been to 6ngland u! to now, and if * dared to do so, * ought to be brought to boo#B 1
general meeting of the caste was called and * was summoned to a!!ear before it. *
went. %ow * suddenly managed to muster u! courage * do not #now. %othing daunted,
and without the slightest hesitation, * came before the meeting. The Sheth/ the
headman of the community who was distantly related to me and had been on very
good terms with my father, thus accosted me'
(*n the o!inion of the caste, your !ro!osal to go to 6ngland is not !ro!er. ur religion
forbids voyages abroad. 5e have also heard that it is not !ossible to live there
without com!romising out religion. ne is obliged to eat and drin# with 6uro!eansB(
To which * re!lied' (* do not thin# it is at all against our religion to go to 6ngland. *
intend going there for further studies. 1nd * have already solemnly !romised to my
mother to abstain from three things you fear most. * am sure the vow will #ee! me
safe.(
(But we tell you,( re,oined the Sheth, (that it is nt !ossible to #ee! our religion there.
=ou #now my relations with your father and you ought to listen to my advice.(
(* #now those relations.( said *. (1nd you are as an elder to me. But * am hel!less in this
matter. * cannot alter my resolve to go to 6ngland. My father(s friend and adviser, who
is a learned Brahman, sees no ob,ection to my gong to 6ngland, and my mother and
brother have also given me their !ermission.(
(But will you disregard the orders of the caste@(
(* am really hel!less. * thin# the caste should not interfere in the matter.(
This incensed the Sheth. )e swore at me. * sat unmoved. So the Sheth !ronounced his
order' (This boy shall be treated as an outcaste from today. 5hoever hel!s him or goes
to see him off at the doc# shall be !unishable with a fine of one ru!ee four annas.(
The order had no effect on me, and * too# my leave of the Sheth. But * wondered how
my brother would ta#e it. 0ortunately he remained firm and wrote to assure me that *
had his !ermission to go, the Sheth(s order notwithstanding.
The incident, however, made me more an&ious than ever to sail. 5hat would ha!!en
if they succeeded in bringing !ressure to bear on my brother@ Su!!osing something
unforeseen ha!!ened@ 1s * was thus worrying over my !redicament, * heard that a
$unagadh va#il was going to 6ngland, for being called to the bar, by a boat sailing on
the Eth of Se!tember. * met the friends to whose care my brother had commended
me. They also agreed that * should not let go the o!!ortunity of going in such
com!any. There was no time to be lost. * wired to my brother for !ermission, which
he granted. * as#ed my brother/in/law to give me the money. But he referred to the
order of the Sheth and said that he could not afford to lose caste. * then sought a
friend of the family and re3uested him to accommodate me to the e&tent of my
!assage and sundries, and to recover the loan from my brother. The friend was not
only good enough to accede to my re3uest, but he cheered me u! as well. * was so
than#ful. 5ith !art of the money * at once !urchased the !assage. Then * had to e3ui!
myself for the voyage. There was another friend who had e&!erience in the matter.
)e got clothes and other things ready. Some of the clothes * li#ed and some * did not
li#e at all. The nec#tie, which * delighted in wearing later, * then abhorred. The short
,ac#et * loo#ed u!on as immodest. But this disli#e was nothing before the desire to go
to 6ngland, which was u!!ermost in me. f !rovisions also * had enough and to s!are
for the voyage. 1 berth was reserved for me by my friends in the same cabin as that of
S,t. Tryamba#rai Ma2mudar, the $unagadh va#il. They also commended me to him. )e
was an e&!erienced man of mature age and #new the world. * was yet a stri!ling of
eighteen without any e&!erience of the world. S,t. Ma2mudar told my friends not to
worry about me.
* sailed at last from Bombay on the Eth of Se!tember.
IN !ND!N AT A$T
* did not feel at all sea/sic#. But as the days !assed, * became fidgety. * felt shy even
in s!ea#ing to the steward. * was 3uite unaccustomed to tal#ing 6nglish, and e&ce!t
for S,t. Ma2mudar all the other !assengers in the second saloon were 6nglish. * could
not s!ea# to them. 0or * could rarely follow their remar#s when they came u! to
s!ea# to me, and even when * understood * could not re!ly. * had to frame every
sentence in my mind, before * could bring it out. * was innocent of the use of #nives
and for#s and had not the boldness to in3uire what dishes on the menu were free of
meat, * therefore never too# meals at table but always had them in my cabin, and
they consisted !rinci!ally of sweets and fruits which * had brought with me. S,t.
Ma2mudar had no difficulty, and he mi&ed with everybody. )e would move about
freely on dec#, while * hid myself in the cabin the whole day, only venturing u! on
dec# when there were but few !eo!le. S,t. Ma2mudar #e!t !leading with me to
associate with the !assengers and to tal# with them freely. )e told me that lawyers
should have a long tongue, and related to me his legal e&!eriences. )e advised me to
ta#e every !ossible o!!ortunity of tal#ing 6nglish, and not to mind ma#ing mista#es
which were obviously unavoidable with a foreign tongue. But nothing could ma#e me
con3uer my shyness.
1n 6nglish !assenger, ta#ing #indly to me, drew me into conversation. )e was older
than *. )e as#ed me what * ate, what * was, where * was going, why * was shy, and so
on. )e also advised me to come to table. )e laughed at my insistence on ab,uring
meat, and said in a friendly way when we were in the +ed Sea' (*t is all very well so
far but you will have to revise your decision in the Bay of Biscay. 1nd it is so cold in
6ngland that one cannot !ossibly live there without meat.(
(But * have heard that !eo!le can live there without eating meat,( * said.
(+est assured it is a fib,( said he. (%o one, to my #nowledge, lives there without being
a meat/eater. "on(t you see that * am not as#ing you to ta#e li3uor, though * do so@ But
* do thin# you should eat meat, for you cannot live without it.(
(* than# you for your #ind advice, but * have solemnly !romised to my mother not to
touch meat, and therefore * cannot thin# of ta#ing it. *f it be found im!ossible to get
on without it, * will far rather go bac# to *ndia than eat meat in order to remain
there.(
5e entered the Bay of Biscay, but * did not begin to feel the need either of meat or
li3uor. * had been advised to collect certificates of my having abstained from met,
and * as#ed the 6nglish friend to give me one. )e gladly gave it and * treasured it for
some time. But when * saw later that one could get such a certificate in s!ite of being
a meat/eater, it lost all its charm for me. *f my word was not to be trusted, where
was the use of !ossessing a certificate in the matter@
)owever, we reached Southam!ton, as far as * remember, on a Saturday. n the boat *
had worn a blac# suit, the white flannel one, which my friends had got me, having
been #e!t es!ecially for wearing when * landed. * had thought that white clothes
would suit me better when * ste!!ed ashore, and therefore * did so in white flannels.
Those were the last days of Se!tember, and * found * was the only !erson wearing
such clothes. * left in charge of an agent of Grindlay and -o. all my #it, including the
#eys, seeing that many others had done the same and * must follow suit.
* had four notes of introduction ' to "r. P. $. Mehta, to S,t. "al!atram Shu#la, to
Prince +an,itsinh,i and to "adabhai %aoro,i. Someone on board had advised us to !ut
u! at the .ictoria )otel in 4ondon. S,t Ma2mudar and * accordingly went there. The
shame of being the only !erson in white clothes was already too much for me. 1nd
when at the )otel * was told that * should not get my things from Grindlay(s the ne&t
day, it being a Sunday, * was e&as!erated.
"r. Mehta, to whom * had wired from Southam!ton, called at about eight o(cloc# the
same evening. )e gave me a hearty greeting. )e smiled at my being in flannels. 1s we
were tal#ing. * casually !ic#ed u! his to!/ hat, and trying to see how smooth it was,
!assed my hand over it the wrong way and disturbed the fur. "r. Mehta loo#ed
somewhat angrily at what * was doing and sto!!ed me. But the mischief had been
done. The incident was a warning for the future. This was my first lesson in 6uro!ean
eti3uette, into the details of which "r. Mehta humorously initiated me. ("o not touch
other !eo!le(s things,( he said. ("o not as# 3uestions as we usually do in *ndia on first
ac3uaintanceC do not tal# loudlyC never address !eo!le as (sir( whilst s!ea#ing to them
as we do in *ndiaC only servants and subordinates address their masters that wayC 1nd
so on and so forth. )e also told me that it was very e&!ensive to live in a hotel and
recommended that * should live with a !rivate family. 5e deferred consideration of
the matter until Monday.
S,t.Ma2mudar and * found the hotel to be a trying affair. *t was also very e&!ensive.
There was, however, a Sindhi fellow/!assenger from Malta who had become friends
with S,t Ma2mudar, and as he was not a stranger to 4ondon, he offered to find rooms
for us. 5e agreed,and on Monday, as soon as we got our baggage, we !aid u! our bills
and went to the rooms rented for us by the Sindhi friend. * remember my hotel bill
came to L D an amount which shoc#ed me. 1nd * had !ractically starved in s!ite of
this heavy billB 0or * could relish nothing. 5hen * did not li#e one thing, * as#ed for
another, but had to !ay for both ,ust the same. The fact is that all this while * had
de!ended on the !rovisions which * had brought with me from Bombay.
* was very uneasy even in the new rooms. * would continually thin# of my home and
country. My mother(s love always hunted me. 1t night the tears would stream down
my chee#s, and home memories of all sorts made slee! out of the 3uestion. *t was
im!ossible to share my misery with anyone. 1nd even if * could have done so, where
was the use@ * #new of nothing that would soothe me. 6verything was strange/the
!eo!le, their ways, and even their dwellings. * was a com!lete novice in the matter of
6nglish eti3uette and continually had to be on my guard. There was the additional
inconvenience of the vegetarian vow. 6ven the dishes that * could eat were tasteless
and insi!id. * thus found myself between Scylla and -harybdis. 6ngland * could not
bear, but to return to *ndia was not to be thought of. %ow that * had come, * must
finish the three years, said the inner voice.
M" CH!ICE
"r. Mehta went on Monday to the .ictoria )otel e&!ecting to find me there. )e
discovered that we had left, got our new address, and met me at our rooms. Through
sheer folly * had managed to get ringworm on the boat. 0or washing and bathing we
used to have sea/water, in which soa! is not soluble. *, however, used soa!, ta#ing its
use to be a sign of civili2ation, with the result that instead of cleaning the s#in it
made it greasy. This gave me ringworm. * showed it to "r. Mehta, who told me to
a!!ly acetic acid. * remember how the burning acid made me cry. "r. Mehta ins!ected
my room and its a!!ointments and shoo# his head in disa!!roval. (This !lace won(t do,(
he said. (5e come to 6ngland not so much for the !ur!ose of studies as for gaining
e&!erience of 6nglish life and customs. 1nd for this you need to live with a family. But
before you do so, * thin# you had better serve a !eriod of a!!renticeshi! with /. * will
ta#e you there.(
* gratefully acce!ted the suggestion and removed to the friend(s rooms. )e was all
#indness and attention. )e treated me as his own brother, initiated me into 6nglish
ways and manners, and accustomed me to tal#ing the language. My food, however,
became a serious 3uestion. * could not relish boiled vegetables coo#ed without salt or
condiments. The landlady was at a loss to #now what to !re!are for me. 5e had
oatmeal !orridge for brea#fast, which was fairly filling, but * always starved at lunch
and dinner. The friend continually reasoned with me to eat meat, but * always
!leaded my vow and then remained silent. Both for luncheon and dinner we had
s!inach and bread and ,am too. * was a good eater and had a ca!acious stomachC but *
was ashamed to as# for more than two or three slices of bread, as it did not seem
correct to do so. 1dded to this, there was no mil# either for lunch or dinner. The
friend once got disgusted with this state of things, and said' ()ad you been my own
brother, * would have sent you !ac#ing. 5hat is the value of a vow made before an
illiterate mother, and in ignorance of conditions here@ *t is no vow at all. *t would not
be regarded as a vow in law. *t is !ure su!erstition to stic# to such a !romise. 1nd *
tell you this !ersistence will not hel! you to gain anything here. =ou confess to having
eaten and relished met. =ou too# it where it was absolutely unnecessary, and will not
where it is 3uite essential. 5hat a !ityB(
But * was adamant.
"ay in and day out the friend would argue, but * had an eternal negative to face him
with. The more he argued, the more uncom!romising * became. "aily * would !ray for
God(s !rotection and get it. %ot that i had any idea of God. *t was faith that was at
wor#/faith of which the seed had been sown by the good nurse +ambha.
ne day the friend began to read to me Bentham(s #hery $ %tility. * was at my wits(
end. The language was too difficult for me to understand. )e began to e&!ound it. *
said' (Pray e&cuse me. These abstruse things are beyond me. * admit it is necessary to
eat meat. But * cannot brea# my vow. * cannot argue about it. * am sure * cannot meet
you in argument. But !lease give me u! as foolish or obstinate. * a!!reciate your love
for me and * #now you to be my well/wisher. * also #now that you are telling me again
and again about this because you feel for me. But * am hel!less. 1 vow is a vow. *t
cannot be bro#en.(
The friend loo#ed at me in sur!irse. )e closed the boo# and said' (1ll right. * will not
argue any more.( * was glad. )e never discussed the sub,ect again. But he did not
cease to worry about me. )e smo#ed and dran#, but he never as#ed me to do so. *n
fact he as#ed me to remain away from both. )is one an&iety was lest * should become
very wea# without meat, and thus be unable to feel at home in 6ngland.
That is how * served my a!!renticeshi! for a month. The friend(s house was in
+ichmond, and it was not !ossible to go to 4ondon more than once or twice a wee#.
"r. Mehta and S,t. "al!aram Shu#la therefore decided that * should be !ut with some
family. S,t. Shu#la hit u!on an 1nglo/*ndian(s house in 5est Kensington and !laced me
there. The landlady was a widow. * told her about my vow. The old lady !romised to
loo# after me !ro!erly, and * too# u! my residence in her house. )ere too * !ractically
had to starve. * had sent for sweets and other eatables from home, but nothing had
yet come. 6verything was insi!id. 6very day the old lady as#ed me whether * li#ed the
food, but what could she do@ * was still as shy as ever and dared not as# for more than
was !ut before me. She had two daughters. They insisted on serving me with an e&tra
slice or two of bread. But little did they #now that nothing less than a loaf would have
filled me.
But * had found my feet now. * had not yet started u!on my regular studies. * had ,ust
begun reading news!a!ers, than#s to S,t. Shu#la. *n *ndia * had never read a
news!a!er. But here * succeeded in cultivating a li#ing for them by regular reading. *
always glanced over #he Daily Ne&s' #he Daily #ele!raph' and #he Pall Mall (a)ette .
This too# me hardly an hour. * therefore began to wander about. * launched out in
search of a vegetarian restaurant. The landlady had told me that there were such
!laces in the city. * would trot ten or twelve miles each day, go into a chea!
restaurant and eat my fill of bread, but would never be satisifed. "uring these
wanderings * once hit on a vegetarian restaurant in 0arringdon Street. The sight of it
filled me with the same ,oy that a child feels on getting a thing after its own heart.
Before * entered * noticed boo#s for sale e&hibited under a glass window near the
door. * saw among them Salt(s Plea $r *e!etarianism. This * !urchased for a shilling
and went straight to the dining room. This was my first hearty meal since my arrival in
6ngland. God had come to my aid.
* read Salt(s boo# from cover to cover and was very much im!ressed by it. 0rom the
date of reading this boo#, * may claim to have become a vegetarian by choice. *
blessed the day on which * had ta#en the vow before my mother. * had all along
abstained from meat in the interests of truth and of the vow * had ta#en, but had
wished at the same time that every *ndian should be a meat/eater, and had loo#ed
forward to being one myself freely and o!enly some day, and to enlisting others in the
cause. The choice was now made in favour of vegetarianism, the s!read of which
henceforward became my mission.
PA"ING THE ENGI$H GENTEMAN
My faith in vegetarianism grew on me from day to day. Salt(s boo# whetted my
a!!etite for dietetic studies. * went in for all boo#s available on on vegetaranism and
read them. ne of these, )oward 5illiams( #he "thics $ Diet, was (biogra!hical
history of the literature of humane dietetics from the earliest !eriod to the !resent
day.(*t tried to ma#e out, that all !hiloso!hers and !ro!hets from Pythagoras and
$esus down to those of the !resent age were vegetarians. "r. 1nna Kingsford(s #he
Per$ect +ay in Diet was also an attractive boo#. "r. 1llinson(s writings on health and
hygiene were li#ewise very hel!ful. )e advocated a curative system based on
regulation of the dietary of !atients. )imself a vegetarian, he !rescribed for his
!atients also a strictly vegetarian diet. The result of reading all this literature was
that dietetic e&!eriments came to ta#e an im!ortant !lace in my life. )ealth was the
!rinci!al consideration of these e&!eriments to begin with. But later on religion
became the su!reme motive.
Meanwhile my friend had not ceased to worry about me. )is love for me led him to
thin# that, if * !ersisted in my ob,ections to meat/eating, * should not only develo! a
wea# constitution, but should remain a duffer, because * should never feel at home in
6nglish society. 5hen he came to #now that * had begun to interest myself in boo#s on
vegetarianism, he was afraid lest these studies should muddle my headC that * should
fritter my life away in e&!eriments, forgetting my own wor#, and become a cran#. )e
therefore made one last effort to reform me. )e one day invited me to go to the
theatre. Before the !lay we were to dine together at the )olborn +estaurant, to me a
!alatial !lace and the first big restaurant * had been to since leaving the .ictoria
)otel. The stay at that hotel had scarcely been a hel!ful e&!erience, for * had not
lived there with my wits about me. The friend had !lanned to ta#e me to this
restaurant evidently imagining that modesty would forbid any 3uestions. 1nd it was a
very big com!any of diners in the midst of which my friend and * sat sharing a table
between us. The first course was sou!. * wondered what it might be made of, but
durst not as# the friend about it. * therefore summoned the waiter. My friend saw the
movement and sternly as#ed across the table what was the matter. 5ith considerable
hesitation * told him that * wanted to in3uire if the sou! was a vegetable sou!. (=ou
are too clumsy for decent society,( he !assionately e&claimed (*f you cannot behave
yourself, you had better go. 0eed in some other restaurant and await me outside.(
This delighted me. ut * went. There was a vegetarian restaurant close by, but it was
closed. So * went without food that night. * accom!anied my friend to the theatre,
but he never said a word about the scene * had created. n my !art of course there
was nothing to say.
That was the last friendly tussle we had. *t did not affect our relations in the least. *
could see and a!!reciate the love by which all my friend(s efforts were actuated, and
my res!ect for him was all the greater on account of our differences in thought and
action.
But * decided that * should !ut him at ease, that * should assure him that * would be
clumsy no more, but try to become !olished and ma#e u! for my vegetarianism by
cultivating other accom!lishments which fitted one for !olite soceity. 1nd for this
!ur!ose * undertoo# the all too im!ossible tas# of becoming an 6nglish gentleman.
The clothes after the Bombay cut that * was wearing were, * thought unsuitable for
6nglish society, and * got new ones at the 1rmy and %avy stores. * also went in for a
chimney/!ot hat costing nineteen shillings an e&cessive !rice in those days. %ot
content with this, * wasted ten !ounds on an evening suit made in Bond Street, the
centre of fashionable life in 4ondonC and got my good and noble/hearted brother to
send me a double watch/chain of gold. *t was not correct to wear a ready/made tie
and * learnt the art of tying one for myself. 5hile in *ndia, the mirror had been a
lu&ury !ermitted on the days when the family barber gave me a shave. )ere * wasted
ten minutes every day before a huge mirror, watching myself arranging my tie and
!arting my hair in the correct fashion. My hair was by no means soft, and every day it
meant a regular struggle with the brush to #ee! it in !osition. 6ach time the hat was
!ut on and off, the hand would automatically move towards the head to ad,ust the
hair, not to mention the other civili2ed habit of the hand every now and then
o!erating for the same !ur!ose when sitting in !olished society.
1s if all this were not enough to ma#e me loo# the thing, * directed my attention to
other details that were su!!osed to go towards the ma#ing of an 6nglish gentleman. *
was told it was necessary for me to ta#e lessons in dancing, 0rench and elocution.
0rench was not only the language of neighbouring 0rance, but it was the lin!ua $ranca
of the -ontinent over which * had a desire to travel. * decided to ta#e dancing lessons
at a class and !aid down L D as fees for a term. * must have ta#en about si& lessons in
three wee#s. But it was beyond me To achieve anything li#e rhythmic motion. * could
not follow the !iano and hence found it im!ossible to #ee! time. 5hat then was * to
do@ The recluse in the fable #e!t a cat to #ee! off the rats, and then a cow to feed
the cat with mil#, and a man to #ee! the cow and so on. My ambitions also grew li#e
the family of the recluse. * thought * should learn to !lay the violin in order to
cultivate an ear for 5estern music. So * invested LD in a violin and something more in
fees. * sought a third teacher to give me lessons in elocution and !aid him a
!reliminary fee of a guinea. )e recommended Bell(s Standard "lcutinist as the te&t/
boo#, which * !urchased. 1nd * began with a s!eech of Pitt(s.
But Mr. Bell rang the bell of alarm in my ear and * awo#e.
* had not to s!end a lifetime in 6ngland, * said to myself. 5hat then was the use of
learning elocution@ 1nd how could dancing ma#e a gentleman of me@ The violin * could
learn even in *ndia. * was a student and ought to go on with my studies. * should
3ualify myself to ,oin the *nns of -ourt. *f my character made a gentleman of me, so
much the better. therwise * should forego the ambition.
These and similar thoughts !ossessed me, and * e&!ressed them in a letter which *
addressed to the elocution teacher, re3uesting him to e&cuse me from further lessons.
* had ta#en only two or three. * wrote a similar letter to the dancing teacher, and
went !ersonally to the violin teacher with a re3uest to dis!ose of the violin for any
!rice it might fetch. She was rather friendly to me, so * told her how * had discovered
that * was !ursuing a false idea. She encouraged me in the determination to ma#e a
com!lete change.
This infatuation must have lasted about three months. The !unctiliousness in dress
!ersisted for years. But henceforward * became a student.
CHANGE$
4et no one imagine that my e&!eriments in dancing and the li#e mar#ed a stage of
indulgence in my life. The reader will have noticed that even then * had my wits
about me. That !eriod of infatuation was not unrelieved by a certain amount of self/
intros!ection on my !art. * #e!t account of every farthing * s!ent, and my e&!enses
were carefully calculated. 6very little item such as omnibus fares or !ostage or a
cou!le of co!!ers s!ent on news!a!ers, would be entered, and the balance struc#
every evening before going to bed. That habit has stayed with me ever since, and *
#now that as a result, though * have had to handle !ublic funds amounting to la#hs, *
have succeeded in e&ercising strict economy in their disbursement, and instead of
outstanding debts have had invariably a sur!lus balance in res!ect of all the
movements * have led. 4et every youth ta#e a leaf out of my boo# and ma#e it a !oint
to account for everything that comes into and goes out of his !oc#et, and li#e me he
is sure to be a gainer in the end.
1s * #e!t strict watch over my way of living, * could see that it was necessary to
economi2e. * therefore decided to reduce my e&!enses by half. My accounts showed
numerous items s!ent on fares. 1gain my living with a family meant the !ayment of a
regular wee#ly bill. *t also included the courtesy of occasionally ta#ing members of
the family out to dinner, and li#ewise attending !arties with them. 1ll this involved
heavy items for conveyances, es!ecially as, if the friend was a lady, custom re3uired
that the man should !ay all the e&!enses. 1lso dining out meant e&tra cost, as no
deduction could be made from the regular wee#ly bill for meals not ta#en. *t seemed
to me that all these items could be saved, as li#ewise the drain on my !urse through a
false sense of !ro!riety.
So * decided to ta#e rooms on my own account, instead of living any longer in a
family, and also to remove from !lace to !lace according to the wor# * had to do, thus
gaining e&!erience at the same time. The rooms were so selected as to enable me to
reach the !lace of business on foot in half an hour, and so save fares. Before this * had
always ta#en some #ind of conveyance whenever * went anywhere, and had to find
e&tra time for wal#s. The new arrangement combined wal#s and economy, as it meant
a saving of fares and gave me wal#s of eight or ten miles a day. *t was mainly this
habit of long wal#s that #e!t me !ractically free from illness throughout my stay in
6ngland and gave me a fairly strong body.
Thus * rented a suite of roomsC one for a sitting room and another for a bedroom. This
was the second stage. The third was yet to come.
These changes saved me half the e&!ense. But how was * to utili2e the time@ * #new
that Bar e&aminations did not re3uire much study, and * therefore did not feel !ressed
for time. My wea# 6nglish was a !er!etual worry to me. Mr >afterwards Sir 0rederic?
4ely(s words, (Graduate first and then come to me,( still rang in my ears. * should, *
thought, not only be called to the Bar, but have some literary degree as well. *
in3uired about the &ford and -ambridge University courses, consulted a few friends,
and found that, if * elected to go to either of these !laces, that would mean greater
e&!ense and a much longer stay in 6ngland than * was !re!ared for. 1 friend suggested
that, if * really wanted to have the satisfaction of ta#ing a difficult e&amination, *
should !ass the 4ondon Matriculation. *t meant a good deal of labour and much
addition to my stoc# of general #nowledge, without any e&tra e&!ense worth the
name. * welcomed the suggestion. But the syllabus frightened me. 4atin and a modern
language were com!ulsoryB )ow was * to manage 4atin@ But the friend entered a
strong !lea for it' (4atin is very valuable to lawyers. Knowledge of 4atin is very useful
in understanding law/boo#s. 1nd one !a!er in +oman 4aw is entirely in 4atin. Besides
a #nowledge of 4atin means greater command over the 6nglish language.( *t went
home and * decided to learn 4atin, no matter how difficult it might be. 0rench * had
already begun, so * thought that should be the modern language. * ,oined a !rivate
Matriculation class. 6&aminations were held every si& months and * had only five
months at my dis!osal. *t was an almost im!ossible tas# for me. But the as!irant after
being an 6nglish gentleman chose to convert himself into a serious student. * framed
my own time/table to the minuteC but neither my intelligence nor memory !romised
to enable me to tac#le 4atin and 0rench besides other sub,ects within the given
!eriod. The result was that * was !loughed in 4atin. * was sorry but did not lose heart.
* had ac3uired a taste for 4atin, also * thought my 0rench would be all the better for
another trial and * would select a new sub,ect in the science grou!. -hemistry which
was my sub,ect in science had no attraction for want of e&!eriments, 5hereas it
ought to have been a dee!ly interesting study. *t was one of the com!ulsory sub,ects
in *ndia and so * had selected it for the 4ondon Matriculation. This time, however, *
chose )eat and 4ight instead of -hemistry. *t was said to be easy and * found it to be
so.
5ith my !re!aration for another trial, * made an effort to sim!lify my life still further.
* felt that my way of living did not yet befit the modest means of my family. The
thought of my struggling brother, who nobly res!onded to my regular calls for
monetary hel!, dee!ly !ained me. * saw that most of those who were s!ending from
eight to fifteen !ounds monthly had the advantage of scholarshi!s. * had before me
e&am!les of much sim!ler living. * came across a fair number of !oor students living
more humbly than *. ne of them was staying in the slums in a room at two shillings a
wee# and living on two !ence worth of cocoa and bread !er meal from 4oc#hart(s
chea! -ocoa +ooms. *t was far from me to thin# of emulating him, but * felt * could
surely have one room instead of two and coo# some of my meals at home. That would
be a saving of four to five !ounds each month. * also came across boo#s on sim!le
living. * gave u! the suite of rooms and rented one instead, invested in a stove, and
began coo#ing my brea#fast at home. The !rocess scarcely too# me more than twenty
minutes for there was only oatmeal !orridge to coo# and water to boil for cocoa. *
had lunch out and for dinner bread and cocoa at home. Thus * managed to live on a
shilling and three !ence a day. This was also a !eriod of intensive study. Plain living
saved me !lenty of time and * !assed my e&amination.
4et not the reader thin# that this living made my life by any means a dreary affair. n
the contrary the change harmoni2ed my inward and outward life. *t was also more in
#ee!ing with the means of my family. My life was certainly more truthful and my soul
#new no bounds of ,oy.
E)PERIMENT$ IN DIETETIC$
1s * searched myself dee!er, the necessity for changes both internal and e&ternal
began to grow on me. 1s soon as, or even before, * made alterations in my e&!enses
and my way of living, * began to ma#e changes in my diet. * saw that the writers on
vegetarianism had e&amined the 3uestion very minutely, attac#ing it in its religious,
scientific, !ractical and medical as!ects. 6thically they had arrived at the conclusion
that man(s su!remacy over the lower animals meant not that the former should !rey
u!on the latter, but that the higher should !rotect the lower, and that there should be
mutual aid between the two as between man and man. They had also brought out the
truth that man eats not for en,oyment but to live. 1nd some of them accordingly
suggested and effected in their lives abstention not only from flesh/meat but from
eggs and mil#. Scientifically some had concluded that man(s !hysical structure showed
that he was not meant to be a coo#ing but a frugivorous animal, that he could ta#e
only his mother(s mil# and, as soon as he teeth, should begin to ta#e solid foods.
Medically they had suggested the re,ection of all s!ices and condiments. 1ccording to
the !ractical and economic argument they had demonstrated that a vegetarian diet
was the least e&!ensive. 1ll these considerations had their effect on me, and * came
across vegetarians of all these ty!es in vegetarian restaurants. There was a vegetarian
Society in 6ngland with a wee#ly ,ournal of its own. * subscribed to the wee#ly, ,oined
the society and very shortly found myself on the 6&ecutive -ommittee. )ere * came in
contact with those who were regarded as !illars of vegetarianism, and began my own
e&!eriments in dietetics.
* sto!!ed ta#ing the sweets and condiments * had got from home. The mind having
ta#en a different turn, the fondness for condiments wore away, and * now relished the
boiled s!inach which in +ichmond tasted insi!id, coo#ed without condiments. Many
such e&!eriments taught me that the real seat of taste was not the tongue but the
mind.
The economic consideration was of course constantly before me. There was in those
days a body of o!inion which regarded tea and coffee as harmful and favoured cocoa.
1nd as * was convinced that one should eat only articles that sustained the body, *
gave u! tea and coffee as a rule, and substituted cocoa.
There were two divisions in the restaurants * used to visit. ne division, which was
!atroni2ed by fairly well/to/do !eo!le, !rovided any number of courses from which
one chose and !aid for a la carte , each dinner thus costing from one to two shillings.
The other division !rovided si&/!enny dinners of three courses with a slice of bread. *n
my days of strict frugality * usually dined in the second division.
There were many minor e&!eriments going on along with the main oneC as for
e&am!le, giving u! starchy foods at one time, living on bread and fruit alone at
another, and once living on cheese, mil# and eggs. This last e&!eriments is worth
noting. *t lasted not even a fortnight. The reformer who advocated starchless food
had s!o#en highly of eggs and held that eggs were not meat. *t was a!!arent that
there was no in,ury done to living creatures in ta#ing eggs. * was ta#en in by this !lea
and too# eggs in s!ite of my vow. But the la!se was momentary. * had no business to
!ut a new inter!retation on the vow. The inter!retation of my mother who
administered the vow was there for me. * #new that her definition of meat included
eggs. 1nd as soon as * saw the true im!ort of the vow * gave u! eggs and the
e&!eriment ali#e.
There is a nice !oint underlying the argument, and worth noting. * came across three
definitions of meat in 6ngland. 1ccording to the first, meat denoted only the flesh of
birds and beasts. .egetarians who acce!ted that definition ab,ured the flesh of birds
and beasts, but ate fish, not to mention eggs. 1ccording to the second definition,
meat meant flesh of all living creatures. So fish was here out of the 3uestion, but eggs
were allowed. The third definition as all their !roducts, thus covering eggs and mil#
ali#e. *f * acce!ted the first definition, * could ta#e not only eggs, but fish also. But *
was convinced that my mother(s definition was the definition binding on me. *f,
therefore, * would observe the vow * had ta#en, * must ab,ure eggs. * therefore did so.
This was a hardshi! inasmuch as in3uiry showed that even in vegetarian restaurants
many courses used to contain eggs. This meant that unless * #new what was what, *
had to go through the aw#ward !rocess of ascertaining whether a !articular course
contained eggs or no, for many !uddings and ca#es were not free from them. But
though the revelation of my duty caused this difficulty, it sim!lified my food. The
sim!lification in its turn brought me annoyance in that * had to give u! several dishes
* had come to relish. These difficulties were only !assing, for the strict observance of
the vow !roduced an inward relish distinctly more healthy, delicate and !ermanent.
The real ordeal, however, was still to come, and that was in res!ect of the other vow.
But who dare harm whom God !rotects@
1 few observations about the inter!retation of vows or !ledges may not be out of
!lace here. *nter!retation of !ledges has been a fruitful source of strife all the world
over. %o matter how e&!licit the !ledge, !eo!le will turn and twist the te&t to suit
their own !ur!oses. They are to be met with among all classes of society, from the
rich down to the !oor, from the !rince down to the !easant. Selfishness turns them
blind, and by a use of the ambiguous middle they deceive themselves and see# to
deceive the world and God. ne golden rule is to acce!t the inter!retation honestly
!ut on the !ledge by the !arty administering it. 1nother is to acce!t the
inter!retation of the wea#er !arty, where there are two inter!retations !ossible.
+e,ection of these two rules gives rise to strife and ini3uity, which are rooted in
untruthfulness. )e who see#s truth alone easily follows the golden rule. )e need not
see# learned advice for inter!retation. My mother(s inter!retation of meat was,
according to the golden rule, the only true one for me, and not the one my wider
e&!erience or my !ride of better #nowledge might have taught me.
My e&!eriments in 6ngland were conducted from the !oint of view of economy and
hygiene. The religious as!ect of the 3uestion was not considered until * went to South
1frica where * undertoo# strenuous e&!eriments which will be narrated later. The
seed, however, for all of them was sown in 6ngland.
1 convert(s enthusiasm for his new religion is greater than that of a !erson who is born
in it. .egetarianism was then a new cult in 6ngland, and li#ewise for me, because, as
we have seen, * had gone there a convinced meat/eater, and was intellectually
converted to vegetarianism later. 0ull of the neo!hyte(s 2eal for vegetarianism, *
decided to start a vegetarian club in my locality, Bayswater. * invited Sir 6dwin 1rnold,
who lived there , to be .ice/President. "r. ldfield who was 6ditor of the #he
*e!etarian became President. * myself became the Secretary. The club went well for a
while, but came to an end in the course of a few months. 0or * left the locality,
according to my custom of moving from !lace to !lace !eriodically. But this brief and
modest e&!erience gave me some little training in organi2ing and conducting
institutions.
$H"NE$$ M" $HIED
* was elected to the 6&ecutive -ommittee of the .egetarian Society, and made it a
!oint to attend every one of its meetings, but * always felt tongue/tied. "r. ldfield
once said to me, (=ou tal# to me 3uite all right, but why is it that you never o!en your
li!s at a committee meeting@ =ou are a drone.( * a!!reciated the banter. The bees are
ever busy, the drone is a thorough idler. 1nd it was not a little curious that whilst
others e&!ressed their o!inions at these meetings, * sat 3uite silent. %ot that * never
felt tem!ted to s!ea#. But * was at a loss to #now how to e&!ress myself. 1ll the rest
of the members a!!eared to me to be better informed than *. Then * often ha!!ened
that ,ust when * had mustered u! courage to s!ea#, a fresh sub,ect would be started.
This went on for a long time.
Meantime a serious 3uestion came u! for discussion. * thought it wrong to be absent,
and felt it cowardice to register a silent vote. The discussion arose somewhat in this
wise. The President of the Society was Mr. )ills, !ro!rietor of the Thames *ron 5or#s.
)e was a !uritan. *t may be said that the e&istence of the Society de!ended
!ractically on his financial assistance. Many members of the -ommittee were more or
less his !roteges. "r. 1llinson of vegetarian fame was also a member of the
-ommittee. )e was an advocate of the then new birth control movement, and
!reached its methods among the wor#ing classes. Mr. )ills regarded these methods as
cutting at the root of morals. )e thought that the .egetarian Society had for its
ob,ect not only dietetic but also moral reform, and that a man of "r. 1llinson(s anti/
!uritanic views should not be allowed to remain in the Society. 1 motion was
therefore brought for his removal. The 3uestion dee!ly interested me. * considered
"r. 1llinson(s views regarding artificial methods of birth control as dangerous, and *
believed that Mr. )ills was entitled, as a !uritan, to o!!ose him. * had also a high
regard for Mr. )ills and his generosity. But * thought it was 3uite im!ro!er to e&clude
a man from a vegetarian society sim!ly because he refused to regard !uritan morals
as one of the ob,ects of the society. Mr. )ills( view regarding the e&clusion of anti/
!uritans from the society was !ersonal to himself, and it had nothing to do with the
declared ob,ect of the society, which was sim!ly the !romotion of vegetarianism and
not of any system of morality. * therefore held that any vegetarian could be a member
of the society irres!ective of his views on other morals.
There were in the -ommittee others also who shared my view, but * felt myself
!ersonally called u!on to e&!ress my own. )ow to do it was the 3uestion. * had not
the courage to s!ea# and * therefore decided to set down my thoughts in writing. *
went to the meeting with the document in my !oc#et. So far as * recollect, * did not
find myself e3ual even to reading it, and the President had it read by someone else.
"r. 1llinson lost the day. Thus in the very first battle of the #ind * found myself siding
with the losing !arty. But * had comfort in the thought that the cause was right. * have
a faint recollection that, after this incident, * resigned from the -ommittee.
This shyness * retained throughout my stay in 6ngland. 6ven when * !aid a social call
the !resence of half a do2en or more !eo!le would stri#e me dumb.
* once went to .entnor with S,t. Ma2mudar. 5e stayed there with a vegetarian family.
Mr. )oward, the author of #he "thics $ Diet, was also staying at the same
watering!lace. 5e met him, and he invited us to s!ea# at a meeting for the
!romotion of vegetarianism. * had ascertained that it was not considered incorrect to
read one(s s!eech. * #new that many did so to e&!ress themselves coherently and
briefly. To s!ea# e, tempre would have been out of the 3uestion for me. * had
therefore written down my s!eech. * stood u! to read it, but could not. My vision
became blurred and * trembled, though the s!eech hardly covered a sheet of
foolsca!. S,t. Ma2mudar had to read it for me. )is own s!eech was of course
e&cellent and was received with a!!lause. * was ashamed of myself and sad at heart
for my inca!acity.
My last effort to ma#e a !ublic s!eech in 6ngland was on the eve of my de!arture for
home. But this time too * only succeeded in ma#ing myself ridiculous. * invited my
vegetarian friends to dinner in the )olborn +estaurant referred to in these cha!ters.
(1 vegetarian dinner could be had,( * said to myself, (in vegetarian restaurants as a
matter of course. But why should it not be !ossible in a non/ vegetarian restaurant
too@( 1nd * arranged with the manager of the )olborn +estaurant to !rovide a strictly
vegetarian meal. The vegetarians hailed the new e&!eriment with delight. 1ll dinners
are meant for en,oyment, but the 5est has develo!ed the thing into an art. They are
celebrated with great eclat, music and s!eeches. 1nd the little dinner !arty that *
gave was also not unaccom!anied by some such dis!lay. S!eeches, therefore, there
had to be. 5hen my turn for s!ea#ing came, * stood u! to ma#e a s!eech. * had with
great care thought out one which would consist of a very few sentences. But * could
not !roceed beyond the first sentence. * had read of 1ddison that he began his maiden
s!eech in the )ouse of -ommons, re!eating (* conceive( three times, and when he
could !roceed no further, a wag stood u! and said, (The gentleman conceived thrice
but brought forth nothing.( * had thought of ma#ing a humorous s!eech ta#ing this
anecdote as the te&t. * therefore began with it and stuc# there. My memory entirely
failed me and in attem!ting a humorous for having #indly res!onded to my invitation,(
* said abru!tly, and sat down.
*t was only in South 1frica that * got over this shyness, though * never com!letely
overcame it. *t was im!ossible for me to s!ea# imprmptu. * hesitated whenever * had
to face strange audiences and avoided ma#ing a s!eech whenever * could. 6ven today
* do not thin# * could or would even be inclined to #ee! a meeting of friends engaged
in idle tal#.
* must say that, beyond occasionally e&!osing me to laughter, my constitutional
shyness has been no disadvantage whatever. *n fact * can see that, on the contrary, it
has been all to my advantage. My hesitancy in s!eech, which was once an annoyance,
is now a !leasure. *ts greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of
words. * have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. 1nd * can now
give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever esca!es my tongue or
!en. * do not recollect ever having had to regret anything in my s!eech or writing. *
have thus been s!ared many a misha! and waste of time. 6&!erience has taught me
that silence is !art of the s!iritual disci!line of a votary of truth. Proneness to
e&aggerate, to su!!ress or modify the truth, wittingly or unwittingly, is a natural
wea#ness of man and silence is necessary in order to surmount it. 1 man of few words
will rarely be thoughtless in his s!eechC he will measure every word. 5e find so many
!eo!le im!atient to tal#. There is no chairman of a meeting who is not !estered with
notes for !ermission to s!ea#. 1nd whenever the !ermission is given the s!ea#er
generally e&ceeds the time/limit, as#s for more time, and #ee!s on tal#ing without
!ermission. 1ll this tal#ing can hardly be said to be of my benefit to the world. *t is so
much waste of time. My shyness has been in reality my shield and buc#ler. *t has
allowed me to grow. *t has hel!ed me in my discernment of truth.
THE CANKER !% #NTR#TH
There were com!aratively few *ndian students in 6ngland forty years ago. *t was a
!ractice with them to affect the bachelor even though they might be married. School
or college students in 6ngland are all bachelors, studies being regarded as
incom!atible with married life. 5e had that tradition in the good old days, a student
then being invariably #nown as a brahmachari. But in these days we have child/
marriages, a thing !ractically un#nown in 6ngland. *ndian youths in 6ngland,
therefore, felt ashamed to confess that they were married. There was also another
reason for dissembling, namely that in the event of the fact being #nown it would be
im!ossible for the young men to go about or flirt with the young girls of the family in
which they lived. The flirting was more or less innocent. Parents even encouraged itC
and that sort of association between young men and young women may even be a
necessity there, in view of the fact that every young man has to choose his mate. *f,
however, *ndian youths on arrival in 6ngland indulge in these relations, 3uite natural
to 6nglish youths, the result is li#ely to be disastrous, as has often been found. * saw
that our youths had succumbed to the tem!tation and chosen a life of untruth for the
sa#e of com!anionshi!s which, however innocent in the case of 6nglish youths, were
for them undesirable. * too caught the contagion. * did not hesitate to !ass myself off
as a bachelor though * was married and the father of a son. But * was none the
ha!!ier for being a dissembler. nly my reserve and my reticence saved me from
going into dee!er waters. *f * did not tal#, no girl would thin# it worth her while to
enter into conversation with me or to go out with me.
My cowardice was on a !ar with my reserve. *t was customary in families li#e the one
in which * was staying at .entnor for the daughter of the landlady to ta#e out guests
for a wal#. My landlady(s daughter too# me one day to the lovely hills round .entnor. *
was no slow wal#er, but my com!anion wal#ed even faster, dragging me after her and
chattering away all the while. * res!onded to her chatter sometimes with a whis!ered
(yes( or (no(, or at the most (yes, how beautifulB( She was flying li#e a bird whilst * was
wondering when * should get bac# home. 5e thus reached the to! of a hill. )ow to
get down again was the 3uestion. *n s!ite of her high/heeled boots this s!rightly
young lady of twenty/five darted down the hill li#e an arrow. * was shamefacedly
struggling to get down. She stood at the foot smiling and cheering me and offering to
come and drag me. )ow could * be so chic#en hearted@ 5ith the greatest difficulty,
and crawling at intervals, * somehow managed to scramble to the bottom. She loudly
laughed (bravo( and shamed me all the more, as well she might.
But * could not esca!e scatheless everywhere. 0or God wanted to rid me of the can#er
of untruth. * once went to Brighton, another watering/ !lace li#e .entnor. This was
before the ventnor visit. * met there at a hotel an old widow of moderate means. This
was my first year in 6ngland. The courses on the menu were all described in 0rench,
which * did not understand. * sat at the same table as the old lady. She saw that * was
a stranger and !u22led, and immediately came to my aid. (=ou seem to be a stranger,(
she said, (and loo# !er!le&ed. 5hy have you not ordered anything@( * was s!elling
through the menu and !re!aring to ascertain the ingredients of the courses from the
waiter, when the good lady thus intervened. * than#ed her, and e&!laining my
difficulty told her that * was at a loss to #now which of the courses were vegetarian as
* did not understand 0rench.
(4et me hel! you,( she said. (* shall e&!lain the card to you and show you what you may
eat.( * gratefully availed myself of her hel!. This was the beginning of an ac3uaintance
that ri!ened into friendshi! and was #e!t u! all through my stay in 6ngland and long
after. She gave me her 4ondon address and invited me to dine at her house every
Sunday. n s!ecial occasions also she would invite me, hel! me to con3uer my
bashfulness and introduce me to young ladies and draw me into conversation with
them. Particularly mar#ed out for these conversations was a young lady who stayed
with her, and often we would be left entirely alone together.
* found all this very trying at first. * could not start a conversation nor could * indulge
in any ,o#es. But she !ut me in the way. * began to learnC and in course of time loo#ed
forward to every Sunday and came to li#e the conversations with the young friend.
The old lady went on s!reading her net wider every day. She felt interested in our
meetings. Possibly she had her own !lans about us.
* was in a 3uandary. ()ow * wished * had told the good lady that * was marriedB( * said
to myself. (She would then have not thought of an engagement between us. *t is,
however, never too late to mend. *f * declare the truth, * might yet be saved more
misery.( 5ith these thoughts in my mind, * wrote a letter to her somewhat to this
effect'
(6ver since we met at Brighton you have been #ind to me. =ou have ta#en care of me
even as a mother of her son. =ou also thin# that * should get married and with that
view you have been introducing me to young ladies. +ather than allow matters to go
further, * must confess to you that * have been unworthy of your affection. * should
have told you when * began my visits to you that * was married. * #new that *ndian
students in 6ngland dissembled the fact of their marriage and * followed suit. * now
see that * should not have done so. * must also add that * was married while yet a boy,
and am the father of a son. * am !ained that * should have #e!t this #nowledge from
you so long. But * am glad God has now given me the courage to s!ea# out the truth.
5ill you forgive me@ * assure you * have ta#en no im!ro!er liberties with the young
lady you were good enough to introduce to me. * #new my limits. =ou, not #nowing
that * was married, naturally desired that we should be engaged. *n order that things
should not go beyond the !resent stage, * must tell you the truth.
(*f on recei!t of this, you feel that * have been unworthy of your hos!itality, * assure
you * shall not ta#e it amiss. =ou have laid me under an everlasting debt of gratitude
by your #indness and solicitude. *f, after this, you do not re,ect me but continue to
regard me as worthy of your hos!itality , which * will s!are no !ains to deserve, * shall
naturally be ha!!y and count it a further to#en of your #indness.(
4et the reader #now that * could not have written such a letter in a moment. * must
have drafted and redrafted it many times over. But it lifted a burden that was
weighing me down. 1lmost by return !ost came her re!ly somewhat as follows'
(* have your fran# letter. 5e were both very glad and had a hearty laugh over it. The
untruth you say you have been guilty of is !ardonable. But it is well that you have
ac3uainted us with the real state of things. My invitation still stands and we shall
certainly e&!ect you ne&t Sunday and loo# forward to hearing all about your child/
marriage and to the !leasure of laughing at your e&!ense. %eed * assure you that our
friendshi! is not in the least affected by this incident@(
* thus !urged myself of the can#er of untruth, and * never thenceforward hesitated to
tal# of my married state wherever necessary.
AC+#AINTANCE ,ITH REIGI!N$
Towards the end of my second year in 6ngland * came across two Theoso!hists,
brothers, and both unmarried. They tal#ed to me about the (ita. They were reading
Sir 6dwin 1rnold(s translation #he Sn! Celestial and they invited me to read the
original with them. * felt ashamed, as * had read the divine !oem neither in Sams#rit
nor in Gu,arati. * was constrained to tell them that * had not read the (ita, but that *
would gladly read it with them, and that though my #nowledge of Sams#rit was
meagre, still * ho!ed to be able to understand the original to the meaning. * began
reading the (ita with them. The verses in the second cha!ter *f one Ponders on
ob,ects of the sense, there s!rings 1ttractionC from attraction grows desire, "esire
flames to fierce !assion, !assion breeds +ec#lessnessC then the memory all betrayed
4ets noble !ur!ose go, and sa!s the mind, Till !ur!ose, mind, and man are all
undone. made a dee! im!ression on my mind, and they still ring in my ears. The boo#
struc# me as one of !riceless worth. The im!ression has ever since been growing on
me with the result that * regard it today as the boo# par e,cellence for the #nowledge
of Truth. *t has afforded me invaluable hel! in my moments of gloom. * have read
almost all the 6nglish translations of it, and * regard Sir 6dwin 1rnold(s as the best. )e
has been faithful to the te&t, and yet it does not read li#e a translation. Though * read
the (ita with these friends, * cannot !retend to have studied it then. *t was only after
some years that it became a boo# of daily reading.
The brothers also recommended #he -i!ht $ Asia by Sir 6dwin 1rnold, whom * #new
till then as the author only of #he Sn! Celestial, and * read it with even greater
interest than * did the Bha!avad!ita. nce * had begun it * could not leave off. They
also too# me on one occasion to the Blavats#y 4odge and introduced me to Madame
Blavats#y and Mrs. Besant. The latter had ,ust then ,oined the Theoso!hical Society,
and * was following with great interest the controversy about her conversion. The
friends advised me to ,oin the Society, but * !olitely declined saying, (5ith my meagre
#nowledge of my own religion * do not want to belong to any religious body.( * recall
having read, at the brothers( instance, Madame Blavats#y(s Key t #hesphy. This
boo# stimulated in me the desire to read boo#s on )induism, and disabused me of the
notion fostered by the missionaries that )induism was rife with su!erstition.
1bout the same time * met a good -hristian from Manchester in a vegetarian boarding
house. )e tal#ed to me about -hristianity. * narrated to him my +a,#ot recollections.
)e was !ained to hear them. )e said, (* am a vegetarian. * do not drin#. Many
-hristians are meat/ eaters and drin#, no doubtC but neither meat/eating not drin#ing
is en,oined by scri!ture. "o !lease read the Bible.( * acce!ted his advice, and he got
me a co!y. * have a faint recollection that he himself used to sell co!ies of the Bible,
and * !urchased from him an edition containing ma!s, concordance, and other aids. *
began reading it, but * could not !ossibly read through the ld Testament. * read the
boo# of Genesis, and the cha!ters that followed invariably sent me to slee!. But ,ust
for the sa#e of being able to say that * had read it, * !lodded through the other boo#s
with much difficulty and without the least interest or understanding. * disli#ed
reading the boo# of %umbers.
But the %ew Testament !roduced a different im!ression, es!ecially the Sermon on the
Mount which went straight to my heart. * com!ared it with the (ita. The verses, (But *
say unto you, that ye resist not evil' but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right
chee#, turn to him the other also. 1nd if any man ta#e away thy coat let him have thy
clo#e too,( delighted me beyond measure and !ut me in mind of Shamal Bhatt(s (0or a
bowl of water, give a goodly meal( etc. My young mind tried to unify the teaching of
the (ita' #he -i!ht $ Asia and the Sermon on the Mount. That renunciation was the
highest form of religion a!!ealed to me greatly.
This reading whetted my a!!etite for studying the lives of other religious teachers. 1
friend recommended -arlyle(s Heres and Her. +rship. * read the cha!ter on the
)ero as a !ro!het and learnt of the Pro!het(s greatness and bravery and austere
living.
Beyond this ac3uaintance with religion * could not go at the moment, as reading for
the e&amination left me scarcely any time for outside sub,ects. But * too# mental
note of the fact that * should read more religious boo#s and ac3uaint myself with all
the !rinci!al religions.
1nd how could * hel! #nowing something of atheism too@ 6very *ndian #new
Bradlaugh(s name and his so/called atheism. * read some boo# about it, the name of
which * forget. *t had no effect on me, for * had already crossed the Sahara of
atheism. Mrs. Besant who was then very much in the limelight, had turned to theism
from atheism. * had read her boo# H& / became a #hesphist.
*t was about this time that Bradlaugh died. )e was buried in the 5or#ing -emetery. *
attended the funeral, as * believe every *ndian residing in 4ondon did. 1 few
clergymen also were !resent to do him the last honours. n our way bac# from the
funeral we had to wait at the station for our train. 1 cham!ion atheist from the crowd
hec#led one of these clergymen. (5ell sir, you believe in the e&istence of God@(
(* do,( said the good man in a low tone.
(=ou also agree that the circumference of the 6arth is 8:,AAA miles, don(t you@( said
the atheist with a smile of self/assurance. (*ndeed.( (Pray tell me then the si2e of your
God and where he may be@(
(5ell, if we but #new, )e resides in the hearts of us both.(
(%ow, now, don(t ta#e me to be a child,( said the cham!ion with a trium!hant loo# at
us.
The clergyman assumed a humble silence. This tal# still further increased my
!re,udice against atheism.
NIRBA KE BA RAM
Though * had ac3uired a nodding ac3uaintance with )induism and other religions of
the world, * should have #nown that it would not be enough to save me in my trails.
f the thing that sustains him through trials man has no in#ling, much less #nowledge,
at the time. *f an unbeliever, he will attribute his safety to chance. *f a believer, he
will say God saved him. )e will conclude, as well he may, that his religious study or
s!iritual disci!line was at the bac# of the state of grace within him. But in the hour of
his deliverance he does not #now whether his s!iritual disci!line or something else
saves him. 5ho that has !rided himself on his s!iritual strength has not seen it
humbled to the dust@ 1 #nowledge of religion, as distinguished from e&!erience,
seems but chaff in such moments of trial.
*t was in 6ngland that * first discovered the futility of mere religious #nowledge. )ow *
was saved on !revious occasions is more than * can say, for * was very young thenC but
now * was twenty and had gained some e&!erience as husband and father.
"uring the last year, as far as * can remember, of my stay in 6ngland, that is in 9:<A,
there was a .egetarian -onference at Portsmouth to which an *ndian friend and * were
invited. Portsmouth is a sea/!ort with a large naval !o!ulation. *t has many houses
with women of ill fame, women not actually !rostitutes, but at the same time, not
very scru!ulous about their morals. 5e were !ut u! in one of these houses. %eedles
to say, the +ece!tion -ommittee did not #now anything about it. *t would have been
difficult in a town li#e Portsmouth to find out which were good lodgings and which
were bad for occasional travellers li#e us.
5e returned from the -onference in the evening. 1fter dinner we sat down to !lay a
rubber of bridge, in which our landlady ,oined, as is customary in 6ngland even in
res!ectable households. 6very !layer indulges in innocent ,o#es as a matter of course,
but here my com!anion and our hostess began to ma#e indecent ones as well. * did
not #now that my friend was an ade!t in the art. *t ca!tured me and * also ,oined in.
$ust when * was about to go beyond the limit, leaving the cards and the game to
themselves. God through the good com!anion uttered the blessed warning' (5hence
this devil in you, my boy@ Be off, 3uic#B(
* was ashamed. * too# the warning and e&!ressed within myself gratefulness to my
friend. +emembering the vow * had ta#en before my mother, * fled from the scene. To
my room * went 3ua#ing, trembling, and with beating heart, li#e a 3uarry esca!ed
from its !ursuer.
* recall this as the first occasion on which a woman, other than my wife, moved me to
lust. * !assed that night slee!lessly, all #inds of thoughts assailing me. Should * leave
this house@ Should * run away from the !lace@ 5here was *@ 5hat would ha!!en to me
if * had not my wits about me@ * decided to act thenceforth with great cautionC not to
leave the house, but somehow leave Portsmouth. The -onference was not to go on for
more than two days, and * remember * left Portsmouth the ne&t evening, my
com!anion staying there some time longer.
* did not then #now the essence of religion or of God, and how )e wor#s in us. nly
vaguely * understood that God had saved me on that occasion. n all occasions of trial
)e has saved me. * #now that the !hrase (God saved me( has a dee!er meaning for me
today, and still * feel that * have not yet gras!ed its entire meaning. nly richer
e&!erience can hel! me to a fuller understanding. But in all my trials of a s!iritual
nature, as a lawyer, in conducting institutions, and in !olitics * can say that God saved
me. 5hen every ho!e is gone. (5hen hel!ers fall and comforts flee,( * find that hel!
arrives somehow, from * #now not where. Su!!lication, worshi!, !rayer are no
su!erstitionC they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drin#ing, sitting or
wal#ing. *t is no e&aggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal.
Such worshi! or !rayer is no flight of elo3uenceC it is no li!/homage. *t s!rings from
the heart. *f, therefore, we achieve that !urity of the heart when it is (em!tied of all
but love(, if we #ee! all the chords in !ro!er tune, they (trembling !ass in music out
of sight(. Prayer needs no s!eech. *t is itself inde!endent of any sensuous effort. *
have not the slightest doubt that !rayer is an unfailing means of cleaning the heart of
!assions. But it must be combined with the utmost humility.
NARA"AN HEMCHANDRA
$ust about this time %arayan )emchandra came to 6ngland. * had heard of him as a
writer. 5e met at the house of Miss Manning of the %ational *ndian 1ssociation. Miss
Manning #new that * could not ma#e myself sociable. 5hen * went to her !lace * used
to sit tongue/tied, never s!ea#ing e&ce!t when s!o#en to. She introduced me to
%arayan )emchandra. )e did not #now 6nglish. )is dress was 3ueer a clumsy !air of
trousers, a wrin#led, dirty, brown coat after the Parsi fashion, no nec#tie or collar,
and a tasselled woolen ca!. )e grew a long beard.
)e was lightly built and short of stature. )is round face was scarred with small/!o&,
and had a nose which was neither !ointed nor blunt. 5ith his hand he was constantly
turning over his beard.
Such a 3ueer/loo#ing and 3ueerly dressed !erson was bound to be singled out in
fashionable society.
(* have heard a good deal about you,( * said to him. (* have also read some of your
writings. * should be very !leased if you were #ind enough to come to my !lace.(
%arayan )emchandra had a rather hoarse voice. 5ith a smile on his face he re!lied@(
(=es, where do you stay@( (*n Store Street.( (Then we are neighbours. * want to learn
6nglish. 5ill you teach me@( (* shall be ha!!y to teach you anything * can, and will try
my best. *f you li#e, * will go to your !lace.(
(h, no. * shall come to you. * shall also bring with me a Translation 6&ercise Boo#.( So
we made an a!!ointment. Soon we were close friends.
%arayan )emchandra was innocent of grammar. ()orse( was a verb with him and (run( a
noun * remember many such funny instances. But he was not to be baffled by his
ignorance. My little #nowledge of grammar could ma#e no im!ression on him.
-ertainly he never regarded his ignorance of grammar as a matter for shame.
5ith !erfect nonchalance he said' (* have never felt the need of grammar in
e&!ressing my thoughts. 5ell, do you #now Bengali@ * #now it. * have travelled in
Bengal. *t is * who have given Maharshi "evendranath Tagore(s wor#s to the Gu,arati
s!ea#ing world. 1nd * wish to translate into Gu,arati the treasures of many other
translations. * always content myself with bringing out the s!irit. thers, with their
better #nowledge, may be able to do more in future. But * am 3uite satisfied with
what * have achieved without the hel! of grammar. * #now Marathi, )indi, Bengali,
and now * have begun to #now 6nglish. 5hat * want is a co!ious vocabulary. 1nd do
you thin# my ambition ends here@ %o fear. * want to go to 0rance and learn 0rench. *
am told that language has an e&tensive literature. * shall go to Germany also, if
!ossible, and there learn German.( 1nd thus he would tal# on unceasingly. )e had a
boundless ambition for learning languages and for foreign travel.
(Then you will go to 1merica also@(
(-ertainly. )ow can * return to *ndia without having seen the %ew 5orld@(
(But where will you find the money@(
(5hat do * need money for@ * am not a fashionable fellow li#e you. The minimum
amount of food and the minimum amount of clothing suffice for me. 1nd for this what
little * get out of my boo#s and from my friends is enough. * always travel third class.
5hile going to 1merica also * shall travel on dec#.(
%arayan )emchandra(s sim!licity was all his own, and his fran#ness was on a !ar with
it. f !ride he had not the slightest trace, e&ce!ting, of course, a rather undue
regard for his own ca!acity as a writer.
5e met daily. There was a considerable amount of similarity between our thoughts
and actions. Both of us were vegetarians. 5e would often have our lunch together.
This was the time when * lived on 9Fs. a wee# and coo#ed for myself. Sometimes
when * would go to his room, and sometimes he would come to mine. * coo#ed in the
6nglish style. %othing but *ndian style would satisfy him. )e would not do without dal.
* would ma#e sou! of carrots etc., and he would !ity me for my taste. nce he
somehow hunted out mun! coo#ed it and brought it to my !lace. * ate it with delight.
This led on to a regular system of e&change between us. * would ta#e my delicacies to
him and he would bring his to me.
-ardinal Manning(s name was then on every li!. The doc# labourers( stri#e had come to
an early termination owing to the efforts of $ohn Burns and -ardinal Manning. * told
%arayan )emchandra of "israeli(s tribute to the -ardinal(s sim!licity. (Then * must see
the sage,( said he.
()e is a big man. )ow do you e&!ect to meet him@(
(5hy@ * #now how. * must get you to write to him in my name. Tell him * am an author
and that * want to congratulate him !ersonally on his humanitarian wor#, and also say
that * shall have to ta#e you as inter!reter as * do not #now 6nglish.(
* wrote a letter to that effect. *n two or three days came -ardinal Manning(s card in
re!ly giving us an a!!ointment. So we both called on the -ardinal. * !ut on the usual
visiting suit. %arayan )emchandra was the same as ever, in the same coat and the
same trousers. * tried to ma#e fun of this, but he laughed me out and said'
(=ou civili2ed fellows are all cowards. Great men never loo# at a !erson(s e&terior.
They thin# of his heart.(
5e entered the -ardinal(s mansion. 1s soon as we were seated, a thin, tall, old
gentleman made his a!!earance, and shoo# hands with us. %arayan )emchandra thus
gave his greetings'
(* do not want to ta#e u! your time. * had heard a lot about you and * felt * should
come and than# you for the good wor# you done for the stri#ers. *t has been my
custom to visit the sages of the world and that is why * have !ut you to this trouble.(
This was of course my translation of that he s!o#e in Gu,arati.
(* am glad you have come. * ho!e your stay in 4ondon will agree with you and that you
will get in touch with !eo!le here. God bless you.(
5ith these words the -ardinal stood u! and said good/bye.
nce %arayan )emchandra came to my !lace in a shirt and dhti. The good landlady
o!ened the door, came running to me in a fright this was a new landlady who did not
#now %arayan )emchandra and said' (1 sort of a madca! wants to see you.( * went to
the door and to my sur!rise found %arayan )emchandra. * was shoc#ed. )is face,
however, showed nothing but his usual smile.
(But did not the children in the street rag you@(
(5ell, they ran after me, but * did not mind them and they were 3uiet.(
%arayan )emchandra went to Paris after a few months( stay in 4ondon. )e began
studying 0rench and also translating 0rench boo#s. * #new enough 0rench to revise his
translation, so he gave it to me to read. *t was not a translation, it was the substance.
0inally he carried out his determination to visit 1merica. *t was with great difficulty
that he succeeded in securing a duc# tic#et. 5hile in the United States he was
!rosecuted for (being indecently dressed(, as he once went out in a shirt and dhti. *
have a recollection that he was discharged.
THE GREAT E)HIBITI!N
There was a great 6&hibition at Paris in 9:<A. * had read about its elaborate
!re!arations, and * also had a #een desire to see Paris. So * thought * had better
combine two things in one and go there at this ,uncture. 1 !articular attraction of the
6&hibition was the 6iffel Tower, constructed entirely of iron, and nearly 9,AAA feet
high. There were of course many other things of interest, but the Tower was the chief
one, inasmuch as it had been su!!osed till then that a structure of that height could
not safely stand.
* had heard of a vegetarian restaurant in Paris. * engaged a room there and stayed
seven days. * managed everything very economically, both the ,ourney to Paris and
the sight/seeing there. This * did mostly on foot and with the hel! of a ma! of Paris,
as also a ma! of the guide to the 6&hibition. These were enough to direct one to the
main streets and chief !laces of interest.
* remember nothing of the 6&hibition e&ce!ting its magnitude and variety. * have fair
recollection of the 6iffel Tower as * ascended it twice or thrice. There was a
restaurant on the first !latform, and ,ust for the satisfaction of being able to say that
* had had my lunch at a great height, * threw away seven shillings on it.
The ancient churches of Paris are still in my memory. Their grandeur and their
!eacefulness are unforgettable. The wonderful construction of %otre "ame and the
elaborate decoration of the interior with its beautiful scul!tures cannot be forgotten.
* felt then that those who e&!ended millions on such divine cathedrals could not but
have the love of God in their hearts.
* had read a lot about the fashions and frivolity of Paris. These were in evidence in
every street, but the churches stood noticeably a!art from these scenes. 1 man would
forget the outside noise and bustle as soon as he entered one of these churches. )is
manner would change, he would behave with dignity and reverence as he !assed
someone #neeling before the image of the .irgin. The feeling * had then has since
been growing on me, that all this #neeling and !rayer could not be mere su!erstitionC
the devout souls #neeling before the .irgin could not be worshi!!ing mere marble.
They were fired with genuine devotion and they worshi!!ed not stone, but the
divinity of which it was symbolic. * have an im!ression that * felt then that by this
worshi! they were not detracting from, but increasing, the glory of God.
* must say a word about the 6iffel Tower. * do not #now what !ur!ose it serves today.
But * then heard it greatly dis!araged as well as !raised. * remember that Tolstoy was
the chief among those who dis!araged it. )e said that the 6iffel Tower was a
monument of man(s folly, not of his wisdom. Tobacco, he argued, was the worst of all
into&icants, inasmuch as a man addicted to it was tem!ted to commit crimes which a
drun#ard never dared to doC li3uor made a man mad, but tobacco clouded his
intellect and made him build castles in the air. The 6iffel Tower was one of the
creations of a man under such influence. There is no art about the 6iffel Tower. *n no
way can it be said to have contributed to the real beauty of the 6&hibition. Men
floc#ed to see it and ascended it as it was a novelty and of uni3ue dimensions. *t was
the toy of the 6&hibition. So long as we are children we are attracted by toys, and the
Tower was a good demonstration of the fact that we are all children attracted by
trin#ets. That may be claimed to be the !ur!ose served by the 6iffel Tower.
&CAED&-B#T THEN -
* have deferred saying anything u! to now about the !ur!ose for which * went to
6ngland, vi2. being called to the bar. *t is time to advert to it briefly.
There were two conditions which had to be fulfilled before a student was formally
called to the bar' (#ee!ing terms,( twelve terms e3uivalent to about three yearsC and
!assing e&aminations. (Kee!ing terms( meant eating one(s terms, i.e. attending at least
si& out of about twenty four dinners in a term. 6ating did not mean actually !arta#ing
of the dinner, it meant re!orting oneself at the fi&ed hours and remaining !resent
throughout the dinner. Usually of course every one ate and dran# the good commons
and choice wines !rovided. 1 dinner cost from two and si& to three and si&, that is
from two to three ru!ees. This was considered moderate, inasmuch as one had to !ay
that same amount for wines alone if one dined at a hotel. To us in *ndia it is a matter
for sur!rise, if we are not (civili2ed(, that the cost of drin# should e&ceed the cost of
food. The first revelation gave me a great shoc#, and * wondered how !eo!le had the
heart to throw away so much money on drin#. 4ater * came to understand. * often ate
nothing at these dinners, for the things that * might eat were only bread, boiled
!otato and cabbage. *n the beginning * did not eat these, as * did not li#e themC and
later, when * began to relish them, * also gained the courage to as# for other dishes.
The dinner !rovided for the benchers used to be better than that for the students. 1
Parsi student, who was also a vegetarian, and * a!!lied, in the interests of
vegetarianism, for the vegetarian courses which were served to the benchers. The
a!!lication was granted, and we began to get fruits and other vegetables from the
benchers( table.
Two bottles of wine allowed to each grou! of four, and as * did not touch them, * was
ever in demand to form a 3uarter, so that three might em!ty two bottles. 1nd there
was a (grand night( in each term when e&tra wines. * was therefore s!ecially re3uested
to attend and was in great demand on that (grand night(.
* could see then, nor have * seen since, how these dinners 3ualified the students
better for the bar. There was once a time when only a few students used to attend
these dinners and thus there were o!!ortunities for tal#s between them and the
benchers, and s!eeches were also made. These occasions hel!ed to give them
#nowledge of the world with a sort of !olish and refinement, and also im!roved their
!ower of s!ea#ing. %o such thing was !ossible in my time, as the benchers had a table
all to themselves. The institution had gradually lost all its meaning but conservative
6ngland retained it nevertheless.
The curriculum of study was easy, barristers being humorously #nown as (dinner
barristers(. 6veryone #new that the e&aminations had !ractically no value. *n my time
there were two, one in +oman 4aw and the other in -ommon 4aw. There were regular
te&t/boo#s !rescribed for these e&aminations which could be ta#en in com!artments,
but scarcely any one read them. * have #nown many to !ass the +oman 4aw
e&amination by scrambling through notes on +oman 4aw in a cou!le of wee#s, and the
-ommon 4aw e&amination by reading notes on the sub,ect in two or three months.
Huestion !a!ers were easy and e&aminers were generous. The !ercentage of !asses in
the +oman 4aw e&amination used to be <G to << and of those in the final e&amination
FG or even more. There was thus little fear of being !luc#ed, and e&aminations were
held not once but four times in the year. They could not be felt as a difficulty.
But * succeeded in turning them into one. * felt that * should read all the te&t/boo#s.
*t was a fraud, * thought, not to read these boo#s. * invested much money in them. *
decided to read +oman 4aw in 4atin. The 4atin which * had ac3uired in the 4ondon
Matriculation stood me in good stead. 1nd all this reading was not without its value
later on in South 1frica, where +oman "utch is the common law. The reading of
$ustinian, therefore, hel!ed me a great deal in understanding the South 1frican law.
*t too# me nine months of fairly hard labour to read through the -ommon 4aw of
6ngland. 0or Broom(s Cmmn -a&, a big but interesting volume, too# u! a good deal
of time. Snell(s "0uity was full of interest, but a bit hard to understand. 5hite and
Tudor(s -eadin!Cases, from which certain cases were !rescribed, was full of interest
and instruction. * read also with interest 5illiams( and 6dwards( Real Prperty, and
Goodeve(s Persnal Prperty. 5illiams( boo# read li#e a novel. The one boo# *
remember to have read on my return to *ndia, with the same unflagging interest, was
Mayne(s Hindu -a&. But it is out of !lace to tal# here of *ndian law/boo#s.
* !assed my e&aminations, was called to the bar on the 9Ath of $une 9:<9, and
enrolled in the )igh -ourt on the 99th. n the 98th sailed for home.
But notwithstanding my study there was no end to my hel!lessness and fear. * did not
feel myself 3ualified to !ractise law.
But a se!arate cha!ter is needed to describe this hel!lessness of mine.
M" HEPE$$NE$$
*t was easy to be called, but it was difficult to !ractise at the bar. * had read the
laws, but not learnt how to !ractise law. * had read with interest (4egal Ma&ims(, but
did not #now how to a!!ly them in my !rofession. (Sic utere tu ut alienum nn
laedas( >Use your !ro!erty in such a way as not to damage that of others? was one of
them, but * was at a loss to #now how one could em!loy this ma&im for the benefit of
one(s client. * had read all the leading cases on this ma&im, but they gave me no
confidence in the a!!lication of it in the !ractice of law.
Besides, * had learnt nothing at all of *ndian law. * had not the slightest idea of )indu
and Mahomedan 4aw. * had not even learnt how to draft a !laint, and felt com!letely
at sea. * had heard of Sir Phero2eshah Mehta as one who roared li#e a lion in law
courts. )ow, * wondered, could he have learnt the art in 6ngland@ *t was out of the
3uestion for me ever to ac3uire his legal acumen, but * had serious misgivings as to
whether * should be able even to earn a living by he !rofession.
* was torn with these doubts and an&ieties to some of my friends. ne of them
suggested that * should see# "adabhai %aoro,i(s advice. * have already said that, when
* went to 6ngland, * !ossessed a note of introduction to "adabhai. * availed myself of
it very late. * thought * had no right to trouble such a great man for an interview.
5henever an address by him was announced, * would attend it, listen to him from a
corner of the hall, and go away after having feasting my eyes and ears. *n order to
come in close touch with the students he had founded an association, * used to attend
its meeting, and re,oiced at "adabhai(s solicitude for the students, and the latter(s
res!ect for him in course of time * mustered u! courage to !resent to him the note of
introduction. )e said' (=ou can come and have my advice whenever you li#e.( But *
never availed myself of his offer. * thought it wrong to trouble him without the most
!ressing necessity. Therefore * dared not venture to acce!t my friend(s advice to
submit my difficulties to "adabhai at that time. * forget now whether it was the same
friend or someone else who recommended me to meet Mr. 0rederic# Pincutt. )e was a
-onservative, but his affection for *ndian students was !ure and unselfish. Many
students sought his advice and * also a!!lied to him for an a!!ointment, which he
granted. * can never forget that interview. )e greeted me as a friend. )e laughed
away my !essimism. ("o you thin#,( he said, (that everyone must be a Phero2eshah
Mehta@ Phero2eshahs s#ill to be an ordinary lawyer. -ommon honesty and industry are
enough to enable him to ma#e a living. 1ll cases are not com!licated. 5ell, let me
#now the e&tent of your general reading.(
5hen * ac3uainted him with my little stoc# of reading, he was, as * could see, rather
disa!!ointed. But it was only for a moment. Soon his face beamed with a !leasing
smile and he said, (* understand your trouble. =our general reading is meagre. =ou
have no #nowledge of the world, a sine 0ua nn for a va#il. =ou have not even read
the history of *ndia. 1 va#il should #now human nature. )e should be able to read a
man(s character from his face. 1nd every *ndian ought to #now *ndian history. This has
no connection with the !ractice of law, but you ought to have that #nowledge. * see
that you have not even read #aye and Malleson(s history of the Mutiny of 9:GF. Get
hold of that at once and also read two more boo#s to understand human nature.(
These were lavator(s and Shemmel!ennic#(s boo#s on !hysiognomy.
* was e&tremely grateful to this venerable friend. *n his !resence * found all my fear
gone, but as soon as * left him * began to worry again. (To #now a man from his face(
was the 3uestion that haunted me, as * thought of the two boo#s on my way home.
The ne&t day * !urchased 4avator(s boo#. Shemmel!ennic#(s was not available at the
sho!. * read 4avator(s boo# and found it more difficult than Snell(s "0uity, and
scarcely interesting. * studied Sha#es!eare(s !hysiognomy, but did not ac3uire the
#nac# of finding out the Sha#es!eares wal#ing u! and down the streets of 4ondon.
4avator(s boo# did not add to my #nowledge. Mr. Pincutt(s advice did me very little
direct service, but his #indliness stood me in good stead. )is smiling o!en face stayed
in my memory, and * trusted his advice that Phero2eshah Mehta(s acumen, memory
and ability were not essential to the ma#ing of a successful lawyerC honesty and
industry were enough. 1nd as * had a fair share of these last * felt somewhat
reassured.
* could not read Kaye and Malleson(s volumes in 6ngland, but * did so in South 1frica as
* had made a !oint of reading them at the first o!!ortunity.
Thus with ,ust a little leaven of ho!e mi&ed with my des!air, * landed at Bombay from
S.S. Assam. The sea was rough in the harbour, and * had to reach the 3uay in a launch.
RA"CHANDBHAI
* said in the last cha!ter that the sea was rough in Bombay harbour, not an unusual
thing in the 1rabian Sea in $une and $uly. *t had been cho!!y all the way from 1den.
1lmost every !assenger was sic#C * alone was in !erfect form, staying on dec# to see
the stormy surge, and en,oying the s!lash of the waves. 1t brea#fast there would be
,ust one or two !eo!le besides myself, eating their oatmeal !orridge from !lates
carefully held in their la!s, lest the !orridge itself find its !lace there.
The outer storm was to me a symbol of the inner. But even as the former left me
un!erturbed, * thin# * can say the same thing about the latter. There was the trouble
with the caste that was to confront me. * have already adverted to my hel!lessness in
starting on my !rofession. 1nd then, as * was a reformer. * was ta&ing myself as to how
best to begin certain reforms. But there was even more in store for me than * #new.
My elder brother had come to meet me at the doc#. )e had already made the
ac3uaintance of "r. Mehta and his elder brother and as "r. Mehta insisted on !utting
me u! at his house, we went there. Thus the ac3uaintance begun in 6ngland
continued in *ndia and ri!ened into a !ermanent friendshi! between the two families.
* was !ining to see my mother. * did not #now that she was no more in the flesh to
receive me bac# into her bosom. The sad news was now given me, and * underwent
the usual ablution. My brother had #e!t me ignorant of her death, which too# !lace
whilst * was still in 6ngland. )e wanted to s!are me the blow in a foreign land. The
news, however, was none the less a severe shoc# to me. But * must not dwell u!on it.
My grief was even greater than over my father(s death. Most of my cherished ho!es
were shattered. But * remember that * did not give myself u! to any wild e&!ression
of grief. * could even chec# the tears, and too# to life ,ust as though nothing had
ha!!ened.
"r. Mehta introduced me to several friends, one of them being his brother Shri
+evashan#ar $ag,ivan, with whom there grew u! a lifelong friendshi!. But the
introduction that * need !articularly ta#e note of was the one to the !oet +aychand or
+a,chandra, the son/in/law of an elder brother of "r. Mehta, and !artner of the firm
of ,ewellers conducted in the name of +evashan#ar $ag,ivan. )e was not above
twenty/five then, but my first meeting with him convinced me that he was a man of
great character and learning. )e was also #nown as Shatavadhani >one having the
faculty of remembering or attending to a hundred things simultaneously?, and "r.
Mehta recommended me to see some of his memory feats. * e&hausted my vocabulary
of all the 6uro!ean tongues * #new, and as#ed the !oet to re!eat the words, )e did so
in the !recise order in which * had given them. * envied his gift without, however,
coming under its s!ell. The thing that did cast its s!ell over me * came to #now
afterwards. This was his wide #nowledge of the scri!tures, his s!otless character, and
his burning !assion for self/reali2ation. * saw later that this last was the only thing for
which he lived. The following lines of Mu#tanand were always on his li!s and engraved
on the tablets of his heart'
(* shall thin# myself blessed only when * see )im in every one of my daily actsC .erily
)e is the thread, 5hich su!!orts Mu#tanand(s life.(
+aychandbhai(s commercial transactions covered hundreds of thousands. )e was a
connoisseur of !earls and diamonds. %o #notty business !roblem was too difficult for
him. But all these things were not the centre round which his life revolved. That
centre was the !assion to see God face to face. 1mongst the things on his business
table there were invariably to be found some religious boo# and his diary. The
moment he finished his business he o!ened the religious boo# or the diary. Much of his
!ublished writings is a re!roduction from this diary. The man who, immediately on
finishing his tal# about weighty business transaction, began to write about the hidden
things of the s!irit could evidently not be a businessman at all, but a real see#er after
Truth. 1nd * saw him thus absorbed in godly !ursuits in the midst of business, not once
or twice, but very often. * never saw him lose his state of e3ui!oise. There was no
business or other selfish tie that bound him to me, and yet * en,oyed the closest
association with him. * was but a briefless barrister then, and yet whenever * saw him
he would engage me in conversation of a seriously religious nature. Though * was then
gro!ing and could not be said to have any serious interest in religious discussion, Still *
found his tal# of absorbing interest. * have since met many a religious leader or
teacher. * have tried to meet the heads of various faiths, and * must say that no one
else has ever made on me the im!ression that +aychandbhai did. )is words went
straight home to me. )is intellect com!elled as great a regard from me as his moral
earnestness, and dee! down in me was the conviction that he would never willingly
lead me astray and would always confide to me his innermost thoughts. *n my
moments of s!iritual crisis, therefore, he was my refuge.
1nd yet in s!ite of this regard for him * could not enthrone him in my heart as my
Guru. The throne has remained vacant and my search still continues.
* believe in the )indu theory of Guru and his im!ortance in s!iritual reali2ation. *
thin# there is a great deal of truth in the doctrine that true #nowledge is im!ossible
without a Guru. 1n im!erfect teacher may be tolerable in mundane matters, but not
in s!iritual matters. nly a !erfect !nani deserves to be enthroned as Guru. There
must, therefore, be ceaseless striving after !erfection. 0or one gets the Guru that one
deserves. *nfinite striving after !erfection is one(s right. *t is its own reward. The rest
is in the hands of God.
Thus, though * could not !lace +aychandbhai on the throne of my heart as Guru, we
shall see how he was, on many occasions, my guide and hel!er. Three moderns have
left a dee! im!ress on my life, and ca!tivated me' +aychandbhai by his living
contactC Tolstoy by his boo#, The Kingdom of God is 5ithin =ouC and +us#in by his
%nt this -ast. But of these more in their !ro!er !lace.
H!, I BEGAN I%E
My elder brother had built high ho!es on me. The desire for wealth and name and
fame was great in him. )e had a big heart, generous to a fault. This, combined with
his sim!le nature, had attracted to him many friends, and through them he e&!ected
to get me briefs. )e had also assumed that * should have a swinging !ractice and had,
in that e&!ectation, allowed the household e&!enses to become to!/heavy. )e had
also left no stone unturned in !re!aring the field for my !ractice.
The storm in my caste over my foreign voyage was still brewing. *t had divided the
caste into two cam!s, one of which immediately readmitted me, while the other was
bent on #ee!ing me out. To !lease the former my brother too# me to %asi# before
going to +a,#ot, gave me a bath in the sacred river and, on reaching +a,#ot. gave a
caste dinner. * did not li#e all this. But my brother(s love for me was boundless, and
my devotion to him was in !ro!ortion to it, and so * mechanically acted as he wished,
ta#ing his will to be law. The trouble about readmission to the caste was thus
!ractically over.
* never tried to see# admission to the section that had refused it. %or did * feel even
mental resentment against any of the headmen of that section. Some of these
regarded me with disli#e, but * scru!ulously avoided hurting their feelings. * fully
res!ected the caste regulations about e&communication. 1ccording to these, none of
my relations, including my father/in/law and mother/in/law, and even my sister and
brother/in/law, could entertain meC and * would not so much as drin# water at their
houses. They were !re!ared secretly to evade the !rohibition, but it went against the
grain with me to do a thing in secret that * would not do in !ublic.
The result of my scru!ulous conduct was that * never had occasion to be troubled by
the casteC nay, * have e&!erienced nothing but affection and generosity from the
general body of the section that still regards me as e&communicated. They have even
hel!ed me in my wor#, without ever e&!ecting me to do anything for the caste. *t is
my conviction that all these good things are due to my non/resistance. )ad * agitated
for being admitted to the caste, had * attem!ted to divide it into more cam!s, had *
!rovo#ed the castemen, they would surely have retaliated, and instead of steering
clear of the storm, * should on arrival from 6ngland, have found myself in a whirl!ool
of agitation, and !erha!s a !arty to dissimulation.
My relations with my wife were still not as * desired. 6ven my stay in 6ngland had not
cured me of ,ealousy. * continued my s3ueamishness and sus!iciousness in res!ect of
every little thing, and hence all my cherished desires remained unfulfilled. * had
decided that my wife should learn reading and writing and that * should hel! her in
her studies, but my lust came in the way and she had to suffer for my own
shortcoming. nce * went the length of sending her away to her father(s house, and
consented to receive her bac# only after * had made her thoroughly miserable. * saw
later that all this was !ure folly on my !art.
* had !lanned reform in the education of children, My brother had children, and my
own child which * had left at home when * went to 6ngland was now a boy of nearly
four. *t was my desire to teach these little ones !hysical e&ercise and ma#e them
hardy, and also to give them the benefit of my !ersonal guidance. *n this * had my
brother(s su!!ort and * succeeded in my efforts more or less. * very much li#ed the
com!any of children, and the habit of !laying and ,o#ing with them has stayed with
me till today. * have ever since thought that * should ma#e a good teacher of children.
The necessity for food (reform( was obvious. Tea and coffee had already found their
!lace in the house. My brother had thought it fit to #ee! some sort of 6nglish
atmos!here ready for me on my return, and to that end, croc#ery and such other
things, which used to be #e!t in the house only for s!ecial occasions, were now in
general use. My (reforms( !ut the finishing touch. * introduced oatmeal !orridge, and
cocoa was to re!lace tea and coffee. But in truth it became an addition to tea and
coffee. Boots and shoes were already there. * com!leted the 6uro!eani2ation by
adding the 6uro!ean dress.
6&!enses thus went u!. %ew things were added every day. 5e had succeeded in tying
a white ele!hant at our door. But how was the wherewithal to be found@ To start
!ractice in +a,#ot would have meant sure ridicule. * had hardly the #nowledge of a
3ualified va#il and yet * e&!ected to be !aid ten times his feeB %o client would be fool
enough to engage me. 1nd even if such a one was to be found, should * add arrogance
and fraud to my ignorance, and increase the burden of debt * owed to the world@
0riends advised me to go to Bombay for some time in order to gain e&!erience of the
)igh -ourt, to study *ndian law and to try get what briefs * could. * too# u! the
suggestion and went.
*n Bombay * started a household with a coo# as incom!etent as myself. )e was a
Brahman. * did not treat him as a servant but as a member of the household. )e
would !our water over himself but never wash. )is dhti was dirty, as also his sacred
thread, and he was com!letely innocent of the scri!tures. But how was * to get a
better coo#@
(5ell, +avishan#ar,( >for that was his name?, * would as# him, (you may not #now
coo#ing, but surely you must #now your sandhya >daily worshi!?, etc.
(PSandhyaP, sirB the !lough is our sandhya and the s!ade our daily ritual. That is the
ty!e of Brahman * am. * must live on your mercy. therwise agriculture is of course
there for me.(
So * had to be +avishan#ar(s teacher. Time * had enough. * began to do half the coo#ing
myself and introduced the 6nglish e&!eriments in vegetarian coo#ery. * invested in a
stove, and with +avishan#ar began to run the #itchen. * had no scru!les about
interdining, +avishan#ar too came to have none, and so we went on merrily together.
There was only one obstacle. +avishan#ar had sworn to remain dirty and to #ee! the
food uncleanB
But it was im!ossible for me to get along in Bombay for more than four or five
months, there being no income to s3uare with the ever/ increasing e&!enditure.
This was how * began life. * found the barrister(s !rofession a bad ,ob / much show and
little #nowledge. * felt a crushing sense of my res!onsibility.
THE %IR$T CA$E
5hile in Bombay, * began, on the one hand, my study of *ndian law and, on the other,
my e&!eriments in dietetics in which .irchand Gandhi, a friend, ,oined me. My
brother, for his !art, was trying his best to get me briefs.
The study of *ndian law was a tedious business. The -ivil Procedure -ode * could in no
way get on with. %ot so however, with the 6vidence 1ct. .irchand Gandhi was reading
for the Solicitor(s 6&amination and would tell me all sorts of stories about barristers
and va#ils. (Sir Phero2eshah(s ability,( he would say, (lies in his !rofound #nowledge of
law. )e has the 6vidence 1ct by heart and #nows all the cases on the thirty/second
section. Badruddin Tyab,i(s wonderful !ower of argument ins!ires the ,udges with
awe.(
The stories of stalwarts such as these would unnerve me.
(*t is not unusual,( he would add, (for a barrister to vegetate for five or seven years.
That(s why * have signed the articles for solicitorshi!. =ou should count yourself luc#ly
if you can !addle your own canoe in three years( time.(
6&!enses were mounting u! every month. To have a barister(s board outside the
house, whilst still !re!aring for the barrister(s !rofession inside, was a thing to which *
could not reconcile myself. )ence * could not give undivided attention to my studies. *
develo!ed some li#ing for the 6vidence 1ct and read Mayne(s Hindu -a& with dee!
interest, but * had not the courage to conduct a case. * was hel!less beyond words,
even as the bride come fresh to her father/in/ law(s houseB
1bout this time, * too# u! the case of one Mamibai. *t was a (small cause.( (=ou will
have to !ay some commission to the tout,( * was told. * em!hatically declined.
(But even that great criminal lawyer Mr. So/and/So, who ma#es three to four thousand
a month, !ays commissionB(
(* do not need to emulate him,( * re,oined. (* should be content with +s. DAA a month.
0ather did not get more.(
(But those days are gone. 6&!enses in Bombay have gone u! frightfully. =ou must be
businessli#e.(
* was adamant. * gave no commission, but got Mamibai(s case all the same. *t was an
easy case. * charged +s. DA for my fees. The case was no li#ely to last longer than a
day.
This was my debut in the Small -auses -ourt. * a!!eared for the defendant and had
thus to cross/e&amine the !laintiff(s witnesses. * stood u!, but my heart san# into my
boots. My head was reeling and * felt as though the whole court was doing li#ewise. *
could thin# of no 3uestion to as#. The ,udge must have laughed, and the va#ils no
doubt en,oyed the s!ectacle. But * was !ast seeing anything. * sat down and told the
agent that * could not conduct the case, that he had better engage Patel and have the
fee bac# from me. Mr. Patel was duly engaged for +s. G9. To him, of course, the case
was child(s !lay.
* hastened from the -ourt, not #nowing whether my client won or lost her case, but *
was ashamed of myself, and decided not to ta#e u! any more cases until * had
courage enough to conduct them. *ndeed * did not go to -ourt again until * went to
South 1frica. There was no virtue in my decision. * had sim!ly made a virtue of
necessity. There would be no one so foolish as to entrust his case to me, only to lose
itB
But there was another case in store for me at Bombay. *t was a memorial to be
drafted. 1 !oor Mussalman(s land was confiscated in Porbandar. )e a!!roched me as
the worthy son of a worthy father. )is case a!!eared to be wea#, but * consented to
draft a memorial for him, the cost of !rinting to be borne by him. * drafted it and
read it out to friends. They a!!roved of it, and that to some e&tent made me feel
confident that * was 3ualified enough to draft a memorial, as indeed * really was.
My business could flourish if * drafted memorials without any fees. But that would
being no grist to the mill. So * thought * might ta#e u! a teacher(s ,ob. My #nowledge
of 6nglish was good enough, and * should have loved to teach 6nglish to Matriculation
boys in some school. *n this way * could have met !art at least of the e&!enses. * came
across an advertisement in the !a!ers' (5anted, an 6nglish teacher to teach one hour
daily. Salary +s FG.( The advertisment was from a famous high school. * a!!lied for the
!ost and was called for an interview. * went there in high s!irits, but when the
!rinci!al found that * was not a graduate, he regretfully refused me.
(But * have !assed the 4ondon Matriculation with 4atin as my second language.(
(True but we want a graduate.(
There was no hel! for it. * wrung my hands in des!air. My brother also felt much
worried. 5e both came to the conclusion that it was no use s!ending more time in
Bombay. * should settle in +a,#ot where my brother, himself a !etty !leader, could
give me some wor# in the sha!e of drafting a!!lications and memorials. 1nd then as
there was already a household at +a,#ot, the brea#ing u! of the one at Bombay meant
a considerable saving. * li#ed the suggestion. My little establishment was thus closed
after a stay of si& months in Bombay.
* used to attend )igh -ourt daily whilst in Bombay, but * cannot say that * learnt
anything there. * had not sufficient #nowledge to learn much. ften * could not follow
the case and do2ed off. There were others also who #e!t me com!any in this, and
thus lightened my load of shame. 1fter a time, * even lost the sense of shame, as *
learnt to thin# that it was fashionable to do2e in the )igh -ourt.
*f the !resent generation has also its briefless barristers li#e me in Bombay, * would
commend them a little !ractical !rece!t about living. 1lthough * lived in Girgaum *
hardly ever toa carriage or a tramcar. * had made it a rule to wal# to the )igh -ourt.
*t too# me 3uite forty/ five minutes, and of course * invariably returned home on foot.
* had inured myself to the heat of the sun. This wal# to and from the -ourt saved a
fair amount of money, and when many of my friends in Bombay used to fall ill, * do
not remember having once had an illness. 6ven when * began to earn money, * #e!t u!
the !ractice of wal#ing to and from the office, and * am still rea!ing the benefits of
that !ractice.
THE %IR$T $H!CK
"isa!!ointed, * left Bombay and went to +a,#ot where * set u! my own office. )ere *
got along moderately well. "rafting a!!lications and memorials brought me in, on an
average, +s DAA a month. 0or this wor# * had to than# influence rather than my own
ability, for my brother(s !artner had a settled !ractice. 1ll a!!lications etc. which
were, really or to his mind of an im!ortant character, he sent to big barristers. To my
lot fell the a!!lications to be drafted on behalf of his !oor clients.
* must confess that here * had to com!romise the !rinci!le of giving no commission,
which in Bombay * had so scru!ulously observed. * was told that conditions in the two
cases were differentC that whilst in Bombay commissions had to be !aid to touts, here
they had to be !aid to va#ils who briefed youC and that here as in Bombay all
barristers, without e&ce!tion, !aid a !ercentage of their fees as commission. The
argument of my brother was, for me, unanswerable. (=ou see,( said he, (that * am in
!artnershi! with another va#il. * shall always be inclined to ma#e over to you all our
cases with which you can !ossibly deal, and if you refuse to !ay a commission to my
!artner, you are sure to embarrass me. 1s you and * have a ,oint establishment, your
fee comes to our common !urse, and * automatically get a share. But what about my
!artner@ Su!!osing he gave the same case to some other barrister he would certainly
get his commission from him.( * was ta#en in by this !lea, and felt that, if * was to
!ractise as a barrister, * could not !ress my !rinci!le regarding commissions in such
cases. That is how * argued with myself, or to !ut it bluntly, how * deceived myself.
4et me add, however, that * do not remember ever to have given a commission in
res!ect of any other case.
Though * thus began to ma#e both ends meet, * got the first shoc# of my life about
this time. * had heard what a British officer was li#e, but u! to now had never been
face to face with one.
My brother had been secretary and adviser to the late +anasaheb of Porbandar before
he was installed on his !adi and hanging over his head at this time was the charge of
having given wrong advice when in that office. The matter had gone to the Political
1gent who was !re,udiced against my brother. %ow * had #nown this officer when in
6ngland, and he may be said to have been fairly friendly to me. My brother thought
that * should avail myself of the friendshi! and, !utting in a good word on his behalf,
try to disabuse the Political 1gent of his !re,udice. * did not at all li#e this idea. *
should not, * thought, try to ta#e advantage of a trifling ac3uaintance in 6ngland. *f
my brother was really at fault, what use was my recommendation@ *f he was innocent,
he should submit a !etition in the !ro!er course and, confident of his innocence, face
the result. My brother did not relish this advice. (=ou do not #now Kathiawad, he said,
and you have yet to #now the world. nly influence counts here. *t is not !ro!er for
you, a brother, to shir# your duty, when you can clearly !ut in a good word about me
to an officer you #now.(
* could not refuse him, so * went to the officer much against my will. * #new * had no
right to a!!roach him and was fully conscious that * was com!romising my self/
res!ect. But * sought an a!!ointment and got it. * reminded him of the old
ac3uaintance, but * immediately saw that Kathiawad was different from 6nglandC that
an officer on leave was not the same as an officer on duty. The !olitical 1gent owned
the ac3uaintance, but the reminder seemed to stiffen him. (Surely you have not come
here to abuse that ac3uaintance, have you@( a!!eared to be the meaning of that
stiffness, and seemed to be written on his brow. %evertheless * o!ened my case. The
sahib was im!atient. (=our brother is an intriguer. * want to hear nothing more from
you. * have no time. *f your brother has anything to say, let him a!!ly through the
!ro!er channel. The answer was enough, was !erha!s deserved. But selfishness is
blind. * went on with my story. The sahib got u! and said' (=ou must go now.(
(But !lease hear me out,( said *. That made him more angry. )e called his !eon and
ordered him to show me the door. * was still hesitating when the !eon came in, !laced
his hands on my shoulders and !ut me out of the room.
The sahib went away as also the !eon, and * de!arted, fretting and fuming. * at once
wrote out and sent over a note to this effect' (=ou have insulted me. =ou have
assaulted me through your !eon. *f you ma#e no amends, * shall have to !roceed
against you.(
Huic# came the answer through his sowar'
(=ou were rude to me. * as#ed you to go and you would not. * had no o!tion but to
order my !eon to show you the door. 6ven after he as#ed you to leave the office, you
did not do so. )e therefore had to use ,ust enough force to send you out. =ou are at
liberty to !roceed as you wish.(
5ith this answer in my !oc#et, * came home crest fallen, and told my brother all that
had ha!!ened. )e was grieved, but was at a loss as to how to console me. )e s!o#e
to his va#il friends. 0or * did not #now how to !roceed against the sahib. Sir
Phero2eshah Mehta ha!!ened to be in +a,#ot at this time, having come down from
Bombay for some case. But how could a ,unior barrister li#e me dare to see him@ So *
sent him the !a!ers of my case, through the va#il who had engaged him, and begged
for his advice. (Tell Gandhi,( he said, (such things are the common e&!erience of many
va#ils and barristers. )e is still fresh from 6ngland, and hot/blooded. )e does not
#now British officers. *f he would earn something and have an easy time here, let him
tear u! the note and !oc#et the insult. )e will gain nothing by !roceeding against the
sahib, and on the contrary will very li#ely ruin himself. Tell him he has yet to #now
life.(
The advice was as bitter as !oison to me, but * had to swallow it. * !oc#eted the
insult, but also !rofited by it, (%ever again shall * !lace myself in such a false !osition,
never again shall * try to e&!loit friendshi! in this way,( said * to myself, and since
then * have been guilty of a breach of that determination. This shoc# changed the
course of my life.
PREPARING %!R $!#TH A%RICA
* was no doubt at fault in having gone to that officer. But his im!atience and
overbearing anger were out of all !ro!ortion to my mista#e. *t did not warrant
e&!ulsion. * can scarcely have ta#en u! more than five minutes of his time. But he
sim!ly could not endure my tal#ing. )e could have !olitely as#ed me to go, but !ower
had into&icated him to an inordinate e&tent. 4ater * came to #now that !atience was
not one of the virtues of this officer. *t was usual for him to insult his visitors. The
slightest un!leasantness was sure to !ut the sahib out.
%ow most of my wor# would naturally be in his court. *t was beyond me to conciliate
him. * had no desire to curry favour with him, *ndeed, having once threatened to
!roceed against him, * did not li#e to remain silent.
Meanwhile * began to learn something of the !etty !olitics of the country. Kathiawad,
being a conglomeration of small states, naturally had its rich cro! of !oliticals. Petty
intrigues between states, and intrigues of officers for !ower were the order of the
day. Princes were always at the mercy of others and ready to lend their ears to
syco!hants. 6ven the sahib1s !eon had to be ca,oled, and the sahib1s shirastedar was
more than his master, as he was his eyes, his ears and his inter!reter. The
shirastedar1s will was law, and his income was always re!uted to be more than the
sahib1s. This may have been an e&aggeration, but he certainly lived beyond his salary.
This atmos!here a!!eared to me to be !oisonous, and how to remain unscathed was a
!er!etual !roblem for me.
* was thoroughly de!ressed and my brother clearly saw it. 5e both felt that, if * could
secure some ,ob, * should be free from this atmos!here of intrigue. But without
intrigue a ministershi! or ,udgeshi! was out of the 3uestion. 1nd the 3uarrel with the
sahib stood in the way of my !ractice.
Probandar was then under administration, and * had some wor# there in the sha!e of
securing more !owers for the !rince. 1lso * had to see the 1dministrator in res!ect of
the heavy vi!hti >land rent? e&acted from the Mers. This officer, though an *ndian,
was, * found, one better than the sahib in arrogance. )e was able, but the ryots
a!!eared to me to be none the better off for his ability. * succeeded in securing a few
more !owers for the +ana, but hardly any relief for the Mers. *t struc# me that their
cause was not even carefully gone into.
So even in this mission * was com!aratively disa!!ointed. * thought ,ustice was not
done to my clients, but * had not the means to secure it. 1t the most * could have
a!!ealed to the Political 1gent or to the Governor who would have dismissed the
a!!eal saying, (5e decline to interfere.( *f there had been any rule or regulation
governing such decisions, it would have been something, but here the sahib1s will was
law.
* was e&as!erated.
*n the meantime a Meman firm from Porbandar wrote to my brother ma#ing the
following offer' (5e have business in South 1frica. urs is a big firm, and we have a
big case there in the -ourt, our claim being L EA,AAA. *t has been going on for a long
time. 5e have engaged the services of the best va#ils and barristers. *f you sent your
brother there, he would be useful to us and also to himself. )e would be able to
instruct our counsel better than ourselves. 1nd he would have the advantage of seeing
a new !art of the world, and of ma#ing new ac3uaintances.(
My brother discussed the !ro!osition with me. * could not clearly ma#e out whether *
had sim!ly to instruct the counsel or to a!!ear in court. But * was tem!ted.
My brother introduced me to the late Sheth 1bdul Karim $haveri a !artner of "ada
1bdulla O -oC the firm in 3uestion. (*t won(t be a difficult ,ob( the Sheth assured me.
(5e have big 6uro!eans as our friends, whose ac3uaintance you will ma#e. =ou can be
useful to us our sho!. Much of our corres!ondence is in 6nglish and you can hel! us
with that too. =ou will, of course, be our guest and hence will have no e&!ense
whatever.(
()ow long do you re3uire my services@( * as#ed. (1nd what will be the !ayment@(
(%ot more than a year. 5e will !ay you a first class return fare and a sum of L 9AG, all
found.(
This was hardly going there as a barrister. *t was going as a servant of the firm. But *
wanted somehow to leave *ndia. There was also the tem!ting o!!ortunity of seeing a
new country, and of having new e&!erience. 1lso * could send L9AG to my brother and
hel! in the e&!enses of the household. * closed with the offer without any higgling,
and got ready to go to South 1frica.
ARRI(A IN NATA
5hen starting for South 1frica * did not feel the wrench of se!aration which * had
e&!erienced when leaving for 6ngland. My mother was now no more. * had gained
some #nowledge of the world and of travel abroad, and going from +a,#ot to Bombay
was no unusual affair.
This time * only felt the !ang of !arting with my wife. 1nother baby had been born to
us since my return from 6ngland. ur love could not yet be called free from lust, but
it was getting gradually !urer. Since my return from 6ur!oe, we had lived very little
togetherC and as * had now become her teacher, however indifferent, and hel!ed her
to ma#e certain reforms, we both felt the necessity of being more together, if only to
continue the reforms. But the attraction of South 1frica rendered the se!aration
bearable. (5e are bound to meet again in a year ,( * said to her, by way of consolation,
and left +a,#ot for Bombay.
)ere * was to get my !assage through the agent of "ada 1bdulla and -om!any. But no
berth was available on the boat, and if * did not sail then, * should be stranded in
Bombay. (5e have tried our best,( said the agent, (to secure a first class !assage, but
in vain unless you are !re!ared to go on dec#. =our meals can be arranged for in the
saloon.( Those were the days of my first class traveling, and how could a barrister
travel as a dec# !assenger@ So * refused the offer. * sus!ected the agent(s veracity, for
* could not believe that a first class !assage was not available. 5ith the agent(s
consent * set about securing it myself. * went on board the boat and met the chief
officer. )e said to me 3uite fran#ly, (5e do not usually have such a rush. But as the
Governor/General of Mo2ambi3ue is going by this boat, all the berths are engaged.(
(-ould you not !ossibly s3uee2e me in@( * as#ed. )e surveyed me from to! to toe and
smiled. There is ,ust one way,( he said. (There is an e&tra berth in my cabin, which is
usually not available for !assengers. But * am !re!ared to give it to you.( * than#ed
him and got the agent to !urchase the !assage. *n 1!ril 9:<D * set forth full of 2est to
try my luc# in South 1frica.
The first !ort of call was 4amu which we reached in about thirteen days. The -a!tain
and * had become great friends by this time. )e was fond of !laying chess, but as he
was 3uite a novice, he wanted one still more of a beginner for his !artner, and so he
invited me. * had heard a lot about the game but had never tried my hand at it.
Players used to say that this was a game in which there was !lenty of sco!e for the
e&ercise of one(s intelligence. The -a!tain offered to give me lessons, and he found
me a good !u!il as * had unlimited !atience. 6very time * was the loser, and that
made him all the more eager to teach me. * li#ed the game, but never carried my
li#ing beyond the boat or my #nowledge beyond the moves of the !ieces.
1t 4amu the shi! remained at anchor for some three to four hours, and * landed to see
the !ort. The -a!tain had also gone ashore, but he had warned me that the harbour
was treacherous and that * should return in good time.
*t was a very small !lace. * went to the Post ffice and was delighted to see the
*ndian cler#s there, and had a tal# with them. * also saw the 1fricans and tried to
ac3uaint myself with their ways of life which interested me very much. This too# u!
some time.
There were some dec# !assengers with whom * had made ac3uaintance, and who had
landed with a view to coo#ing their food on shore and having a 3uiet meal. * now
found them !re!aring to return to the steamer, so we all got into the same boat. The
tide was high in the harbour and our boat had more than its !ro!er load. The current
was so strong that it was im!ossible to hold the boat to the ladder of the steamer. *t
would ,ust touch the ladder and be drawn away again by the current. The first whistle
to start had already gone. * was worried. The -a!tain was witnessing our !light from
the bridge. )e ordered the steamer to wait an e&tra five minutes. There was another
boat near the shi! which a friend hired for me for ten ru!ees. This boat !ic#ed me u!
from the overloaded one. The ladder had already been raised. * had therefore to be
drawn u! by means of a ro!e and the steamer started immediately. The other
!assengers were left behind. * now a!!reciated the -a!tain(s warning.
1fter 4amu the ne&t !ort was Mombasa and then Nan2ibar. The halt here was a long
one eight or ten days and we then changed to another boat.
The -a!tain li#ed me much but the li#ing too# an undesirable turn. )e invited an
6nglish friend and me to accom!any him on an outing, and we all what the outing
meant. 1nd little did the -a!tain #now what an ignoramus * was in such matters. 5e
were ta#en to some %egro women(s 3uarters by a tout. 5e were each shown into a
room. * sim!ly stood there dumb with shame. )eaven only #nows what the !oor
woman must have thought of me. )e saw my innocence. 1t first * felt very much
ashamed, but as * could not thin# of the thing e&ce!t with horror, the sense of shame
wore away, and * than#ed God that the sight of the woman had no moved me in the
least. * was disgusted at my wea#ness and !itied myself for not having had the
courage to refuse to go into the room.
This in my life was the third trial of its #ind. Many a youth, innocent at first, must
have been drawn into sin by a false sense of shame. * could have credit if * had
refused to enter that room. * must entirely than# the 1ll/merciful for having saved
me. The incident increased my faith in God and taught me, to a certain e&tent, to
cast off false shame.
1s we had to remain in this !ort for a wee#. * too# rooms in the town and saw good
deal by wandering about the neighbourhood. nly Malabar can give any idea of the
lu&uriant vegetation of Nan2ibar. * was ama2ed at the gigantic trees and the si2e of
the fruits.
The ne&t call was at Mo2ambi3ue and thence we reached %atal towards the close of
May.
$!ME E)PERIENCE$
The !ort of %atal is "urban also #nown as Port %atal. 1bdulla Sheth was there to
receive me. 1s the shi! arrived at the 3uay and * watched the !eo!le coming on board
to meet their friends, * observed that the *ndians were not held in much res!ect. *
could not fail to notice a sort of snobbishness about the manner in which those who
#new 1bdulla Sheth behaved towards him, and it stung me. 1bdulla Sheth had not got
used to it. Those who loo#ed at me did so with a certain amount of curiosity. My dress
mar#ed me out from other *ndians. * had a froc#/ coat and a turban, an imitation of
the Bengal pu!ree.
* was ta#en to the firm(s 3uarters and shown into the room set a!art for me, ne&t to
1bdulla Sheth(s. )e did not understand me. * could not understand him. )e read the
!a!ers his brother had sent through me, and felt more !u22led. )e thought his
brother had sent him a white ele!hant. My style of dress and living struc# him as
being e&!ensive li#e that of the 6uro!eans. There was no !articular wor# then which
could be given me. Their case was going on in the Transvaal. There was no meaning in
sending me there immediately. 1nd how far could he trust my ability and honesty@ )e
would not be in Pretoria to watch me. The defendants were in Pretoria, and for aught
he #new they might bring undue influence to bear on me. 1nd if wor# in connection
with the case in 3uestion was not to be entrusted to me, what wor# could * be given
to do, as all other wor# could be done much better by his cler#s@ The cler#s could be
brought to boo#, if they did wrong. -ould * be, if * also ha!!ened to err@ So if no wor#
in connection with the case could be given me, * should have to be #e!t for nothing.
1bdulla Sheth was !ractically unlettered, but he had a rich fund of e&!erience. )e
had an acute intellect and was conscious of it. By !ractice he had !ic#ed u! ,ust
sufficient 6nglish for conversational !ur!oses, but that served him for carrying on all
his business, whether it was dealing with Ban# Managers and 6uro!ean merchants or
e&!laining his case to his counsel. The *ndians held him in very high esteem. )is firm
was then the biggest, or at any rate one of the biggest, of the *ndian firms. 5ith all
these advantages he had one disadvantage he was by nature sus!icious.
)e was !roud of *slam and loved to discourse on *slamic !hiloso!hy. Though he did not
#now 1rabic, his ac3uaintance with the )oly Koran and *slamic literature in general
was fairly good. *llustrations he had in !lenty, always ready at hand. -ontact with him
gave me a fair amount of !ractical #nowledge of *slam. 5hen we came closer to each
other, we had long discussions on religious to!ics.
n the second or third day of my arrival, he too# me to see the "urban court. There
he introduced me to several !eo!le and seated me ne&t to his attorney. The
Magistrate #e!t staring at me and finally as#ed me to ta#e off my turban. This *
refused to do and left the court.
So here too there was fighting in store for me.
1bdulla Sheth e&!lained to me why some *ndians were re3uired to ta#e off their
turbans. Those wearing the Musalman costume might, he said, #ee! their turbans on,
but the other *ndians on entering a court had to ta#e theirs off as a rule.
* must enter into some details to ma#e this nice distinction intelligible. *n the course
of these two or three days * could see that the *ndians were divided into different
grou!s. ne was that of Musalman merchants, who would call themselves (1rabs.(
1nother was that of )indu, and yet another of Parsi, cler#s. The )indu cler#s were
neither here nor there, unless they cast in their lot with the (1rab.( The Parsi cler#s
would call themselves Persians. These three classes had some social relations with
one another. But by far the largest class was that com!osed of Tamil, Telugu and
%orth *ndian indentured and freed labourers. The indentured labourers were those
who went to natal on an agreement to serve for five years, and came to be #nown
there as !irmitiyas from girmit, which was the corru!t form of the 6nglish word
(agreement(. The other three classes had none but business relations with this class.
6nglishmen called them( coolies( and as the ma,ority of *ndians belonged to the
labouring class, all *ndians were called (coolies,( or 1samis1. 1sami( is a Tamil suffi&
occurring after many Tamil names, and it is nothing else than the Sams#rit S&ami,
meaning a master. 5henever, therefore, an *ndian resented being addressed as a
1sami( and had enough wit in him, he would try to return the com!liment in this wise'
(=ou may call me sami, but you forget that sami means a master. * am not your
masterB( Some 6nglishmen would wince at this, while others would get angry, swear at
the *ndian and, if there was a chance, would even belabour himC for sami to him was
nothing better than a term of contem!t. To inter!ret it to mean a master amounted
to an insultB
* was hence #nown as a (coolie barrister.( The merchants were #nown as (coolie
merchants.( The original meaning of the word (coolie( was thus forgotten, and it
became a common a!!ellation for all *ndians. The Musalman merchant would resent
this and say' (* am not a coolie, * am an 1rab,( or (* am a merchant,( and the
6nglishman, if courteous, would a!ologi2e to him.
The 3uestion of wearing the turban had a great im!ortance in this state of things,
Being obliged to ta#e off one(s *ndian turban would be !oc#eting an insult. So *
thought * had better bid good/bye to the *ndian turban and begin wearing an 6nglish
hat, which would save me from the insult and the un!leasant controversy.
But 1bdulla Sheth disa!!roved of the idea. )e said, (*f you do anything of the #ind, it
will have a very bad effect. =ou will com!romise those insisting on wearing *ndian
turbans. 1nd an *ndian turban sits well on your head. *f you wear an 6nglish hat, you
will !ass for a waiter.(
There was !ractical wisdom, !atriotism and a little bit of narrowness in this advice.
The wisdom was a!!arent, and he would not have insisted on the *ndian turban
e&ce!t out of !atriotismC the slighting reference to the waiter betrayed a #ind of
narrowness. 1mongst the indentured *ndians there were three classes )indus,
Musalmans and -hristians. The last were the children of indentured *ndians who
became converts to -hristanity. 6ven in 9:<D their number was large. They wore the
6nglish costume., and the ma,ority of them earned their living by service as waiters in
hotels. 1bdulla Sheth(s criticism of the 6nglish hat was with reference to this class. *t
was considered degrading to serve as a waiter in a hotel. The belief !ersists even
today among many.
n the whole * li#ed 1bdulla Sheth(s advice. * wrote to the !ress about the incident
and defended the wearing of my turban in the court. The 3uestion was very much
discussed in the !a!ers, which described me as an (unwelcome visitor.( Thus the
incident gave me an une&!ected advertisement in South 1frica within a few days of
my arrival there. Some su!!orted me while others severely critici2ed my temerity.
My turban stayed with me !ractically until the end of my stay in South 1frica. 5hen
and why * left off wearing any head/dress at all in South 1frica, we shall see later.
!N THE ,A" T! PRET!RIA
* soon came in contact with the -hristian *ndians living in "urban. The -ourt
*nter!reter, Mr. Paul, was a +oman -atholic. * made his ac3uaintance, as also that of
the late Mr. Subhan Godfrey, then a teacher under the Protestant Mission, and father
of $ames Godfery who as a member of the South 1frican "e!utation, visited *ndia in
9<8E. * li#ewise met the late Parsi +ustom,i and the late 1dam,i Miya#han about the
same time. 1ll these friends, who u! to then had never met one another e&ce!t on
business, came ultimately into close contact, as we shall see later.
5hilst * was thus widening the circle of my ac3uaintance, the firm received a letter
from their lawyer saying that !re!arations should be made for the case, and that
1bdulla Sheth should go to Pretoria himself or send re!resentative.
1bdulla Sheth gave me this letter to read, and as#ed me if * would go to Pretoria. (*
can only say after * have understood the case from you,( said *. (1t !resent * am at a
loss to #now what * have to do there.( )e thereu!on as#ed his cler#s to e&!lain the
case to me.
1s * began to study the case, * felt as though * ought to begin from the 1 B - of the
sub,ect. "uring the few days * had had at Nan2ibar, * had been to the court to see the
wor# there. 1 Parsi lawyer was e&amining a witness and as#ing him 3uestion regarding
credit and debit entries in account boo#s. *t was all Gree# to me. Boo#/#ee!ing * had
learnt neither at school nor during my stay in 6ngland. 1nd the case for which * had
come to South 1frica was mainly about accounts. nly one who #new accounts could
understand and e&!lain it. The cler# went on tal#ing about this debited and that
credited, and * felt more and more confused. * did not #now what a P. %ote meant. *
failed to find the word in the dictionary. * revealed my ignorance to the cler#, and *
learnt from him that a P. %ote meant a !romisory note. * !urchased a boo# on boo#/
#ee!ing and studied it. That gave me some confidence. * understood the case. * saw
that 1bdulla Sheth, who did not #now how to #ee! accounts, had so much !ractical
#nowledge that he could 3uic#ly solve intricacies of boo#/#ee!ing. * told him that *
was !re!ared to go to Pretoria.
(5here will you !ut u!@( as#ed the Sheth. (5herever you want me to,( said *. (Then *
shall write to our lawyer. )e will arrange for your lodgings. * shall also write to my
Meman friends there, but * would not advise you to stay with them. The other !arty
has great influence in Pretoria. Should any one of them manage to read our !rivate
corres!ondence, it might do us much harm. The more you avoid familiarity with
them, the better for us.(
(* shall stay where your lawyer !uts me u!, or * shall find out inde!endent lodgings.
Pray don(t worry. %ot a soul shall #now anything that is confidential between us. But *
do intend cultivating the ac3uaintance of the other !arty. * should li#e to be friends
with them. * would try, if !ossible, to settle the case out of court. 1fter all Tyeb Sheth
is a relative of yours.(
Sheth Tyeb )a,i Khan Muhammad was a near relative of 1bdulla Sheth.
The mention of a !robable settlement somewhat startled the Sheth, * could see. But *
had already been si& or seven days in "urban, and we now #new and understood each
other. * was no longer a (white ele!hant.( So he said'
(=...es, * see. There would be nothing better than a settlement out of court. But we
are all relatives and #now one another very well indeed. Tyeb Sheth is not a man to
consent to a settlement easily. 5ith the slightest unwariness on our !art, he would
screw all sorts of things out of us, and do us down in the end. So !lease thin# twice
before you do nothing.(
("on(t be an&ious about that,( said *. (* need not tal# to Tyeb Sheth, or for that matter
to anyone else, about the case. * would only suggest to him to come to an
understanding, and so save a lot of unnecessary litigation.(
n the seventh or eighth day after my arrival, * left "urban. 1 first class seat was
boo#ed for me. *t was usual there to !ay five shillings e&tra, if one needed a bedding.
1bdulla Sheth insisted that * should boo# one bedding but, out of obstinacy and !ride
and with a view to saving five shillings, * declined. 1bdulla Sheth warned me. (4oo#,
now,( said he, (this is a different country from *ndia. Than# God, we have enough and
to s!are. Please do not stint yourself in anything that you may need.(
* than#ed him and as#ed him not to be an&ious.
The train reached Marit2burg, the ca!ital of %atal, at about < !.m. Beddings used to
be !rovided at this station. 1 railway servant came and as#ed me if * wanted one. (%o,(
said *, (* have one with me.( )e went away. But a !assenger came ne&t, and loo#ed me
u! and down. )e saw that * was a (coloured( man. This disturbed him. ut he went and
came in again with one or two officials. They all #e!t 3uiet, when another official
came to me and said, (-ome along, you must go to the van com!artment.(
(But * have a first class tic#et,( said *.
(That doesn(t matter,( re,oined the other. (* tell you, you must go to the van
com!artment.(
(* tell you, * was !ermitted to travel in this com!artment at "urban, and * insist on
going on in it.(
(%o, you won(t,( said the official. (=ou must leave this com!artment, or else * shall have
to call a !olice constable to !ush you out.(
(=es, you may. * refuse to get out voluntarily.(
The constable came. )e too# me by the hand and !ushed me out. My luggage was also
ta#en out. * refused to go to the other com!artment and the train steamed away. *
went and sat in the waiting room, #ee!ing my hand/bag with me, and leaving the
other luggage where it was. The railway authorities had ta#en charge of it.
*t was winter, and winter in the higher regions of South 1frica is severely cold.
Marit2burg being at a high altitude, the cold was e&tremely bitter. My over/coat was
in my luggage, but * did not dare to as# for it lest * should be insulted again, so * sat
and shivered. There was no light in the room. 1 !assenger came in at about midnight
and !ossibly wanted to tal# to me. But * was in no mood to tal#.
* began to thin# of my duty. Should * fight for my rights or go bac# to *ndia, or should *
go on to Pretoria without minding the insults, and return to *ndia after finishing the
case@ *t would be cowardice to run bac# to *ndia without fulfilling my obligation. The
hardshi! to which * was sub,ected was su!erficial only a sym!tom of the dee! disease
of colour !re,udice. * should try, if !ossible, to root out the disease and suffer
hardshi!s in the !rocess. +edress for wrongs * should see# only to the e&tent that
would be necessary for the removal of the colour !re,udice.
So * decided to ta#e the ne&t available train to Pretoria.
The following morning * sent a long telegram to the General manager of the +ailway
and also informed 1bdulla Sheth, who immediately met the General Manager. The
Manager ,ustified the conduct of the railway authorities, but informed him that he
had already instructed the Station Master to see that * reached my destination safely.
1bdulla Sheth wired to the *ndian merchants in Marit2burg and to friends in other
!laces to meet me and loo# after me. The merchants came to see me at the station
and tried to comfort me by narrating their own hardshi!s and e&!laining that what
had ha!!ened to me was nothing unusual. They also said that *ndians travelling first
or second class had to e&!ect trouble from railway officials and white !assengers. The
day was thus s!ent in listening to these tales of woe. The evening train arrived. There
was a reserved berth for me. * now !urchased at Marit2burg the bedding tic#et * had
refused to boo# at "urban.
The train too# me to -harlestown.
M!RE HARD$HIP$
The train reached -harlestown in the morning. There was no railway, in those days,
between -harlestown and $ohannesburg, but only a stage/ coach, which halted at
Standerton for the night en rute. * !ossessed a tic#et for the coach, which was not
cancelled by the brea# of the ,ourney at Marit2burg for a dayC besides, 1bdulla Sheth
had sent a wire to the coach agent at -harlestown.
But the agent only needed a !rete&t for !utting me off, and so, when he discovered
me to be a stranger, he said, (=our tic#et is cancelled.( * gave him the !ro!er re!ly.
The reason at the bac# of his mind was not want of accommodation, but 3uite
another. Passengers had to be accommodated inside the coach, but as * was regarded
as a (coolie( and loo#ed a stranger, it would be !ro!er, thought the (leader(, as the
white man in charge of the coach was called, not to seat me with the white
!assengers. There were seats on either side of the coachbo&. The leader sat on one of
these as a rule. Today he sat inside and gave me his seat. * #new it was sheer in,ustice
and an insult, but * thought it better to !oc#et it, * could not have forced myself
inside, and if * had raised a !rotest, the coach would have gone off without me. This
would have meant the loss of another day, and )eaven only #nows what would have
ha!!ened the ne&t day. So, much as * fretted within myself, * !rudently sat ne&t the
coachman.
1t about three o(cloc# the coach reached Parde#o!h. %ow the leader desired to sit
where * was seated, as he wanted to smo#e and !ossibly to have some fresh air. So he
too# a !iece of dirty sac#/cloth from the driver, s!read it on the footboard and,
addressing me said, (Sami, you sit on this, * want to sit near the driver,.( The insult was
more than * could bear. *n fear and trembling * said to him, (*t was you who seated me
here, though * should have been accommodated inside. * !ut u! with the insult. %ow
that you want to sit outside and smo#e, you would have me sit at your feet. * will not
do so, but * am !re!ared to sit inside.(
1s * was struggling through these sentences, the man came down u!on me and began
heavily to bo& my ears. )e sei2ed me by the arm and tried to drag me down. * clung
to the brass rails of the coachbo& and was determined to #ee! my hold even at the
ris# of brea#ing my wristbones. The !assengers were witnessing the scene / the man
swearing at me, dragging and belabouring me, and * remaining still. )e was strong and
* was wea#. Some of the !assengers were moved to !ity and e&claimed' (Man, let him
alone. "on(t beat him. )e is not to blame. )e is right. *f he can(t stay there, let him
come and sit with us.( (%o fear,( cried the man, but he seemed somewhat crestfallen
and sto!!ed beating me. )e let go my arm, swore at me a little more, and as#ing the
)ottentot servant who was sitting on the other side of the coachbo& to sit on the
footboard, too# the seat so vacated.
The !assengers too# their seats and, the whistle given, the coach rattled away. My
heart was beatingfast within my breast, and * was wondering whether * should ever
reach my destination alive. The man cast an angry loo# at me now and then and,
!ointing his finger at me, growled' (Ta#e care, let me once get to Standerton and *
shall show you what * do.( * sat s!eechless and !rayed to God to hel! me.
1fter dar# we reached Standerton and * heaved a sigh of relief on seeing some *ndian
faces. 1s soon as * got down, these friends said' (5e are hereto receive you and ta#e
you to *sa Sheth(s sho!. 5e have had a telegram from "ada 1bdulla.( * was very glad,
and we went to Sheth *sa )a,i Sumar(s sho!. The Sheth and his cler#s gathered round
me. * told them all that * had gone through. They were very sorry to hear it and
comforted me by relating to me their own bitter e&!eriences.
* wanted to inform the agent of the -oach -om!any of the whole affair. So * wrote
him a letter, narrating everything that had ha!!ened, and drawing his attention to the
threat his man had held out. * also as#ed for an assurance that he would
accommodate me with the other !assengers inside the coach when we started the
ne&t morning. To which the agent re!lied to this effect' (0rom Standerton we have a
bigger coach with different men in charge. The man com!lained of will not be there
tomorrow, and you will have a seat with the other !assengers.( This somewhat
relieved me. * had, of course, no intention of !roceeding against the man who had
assaulted me, and so the cha!ter of the assault closed there.
*n the morning *sa Sheth(s man too# me to the coach, * got a good seat and reached
$ohannesburg 3uite safely that night.
Standerton is a small village and $ohannesburg a big city. 1bdulla Sheth had wired to
$ohannesburg also, and given me the name and address of Muhammad Kasam
Kamruddin(s firm there. Their man had come to receive me at the stage, but neither
did * see him nor did he recogni2e me. So * decided to go to a hotel. * #new the names
of several. Ta#ing a cab * as#ed to be driven to the Grand %ational )otel. * saw the
Manager and as#ed for a room. )e eyed me for a moment, and !olitely saying, (* am
very sorry, we are full u!(, bade me good/bye. So * as#ed the cabman to drive to
Muhammad Kasam Kamruddin(s sho!. )ere * found 1bdul Gani Sheth e&!ecting me,
and he gave me a cordial greeting. )e had a hearty laugh over the story of my
e&!erience at the hotel. ()ow ever did you e&!ect to be admitted to a hotel@( he said.
(5hy not@( * as#ed.
(=ou will come to #now after you have stayed here a few days,( said he. (nly we can
live in a land li#e this, because, for ma#ing money, we do not mind !oc#eting insults,
and here we are.( 5ith this he narrated to me the story of the hardshi!s of *ndians in
South 1frica.
f Sheth 1bdul Gani we shall #now more as we !roceed.
)e said' (This country is not for men li#e you. 4oo# now, you have to go to Pretoria
tomorrow. =ou will have to travel third class. -onditions in the Transvaal are worse
than in %atal. 0irst and second class tic#ets are never issued to *ndians.(
(=ou cannot have made !ersistent efforts in this direction.(
(5e have sent re!resentations, but * confess our own men too do not want as a rule to
travel first or second.
* sent for the railway regulations and read them. There was a loo!hole. The language
of the old Transvaal enactments was not very e&act or !reciseC that of the railway
regulations was even less so.
* said to the Sheth' (* wish to go first class, and if * cannot, * shall !refer to ta#e a cab
to Pretoria, a matter of only thirty/seven miles.(
Sheth 1bdul Gani drew my attention to the e&tra time and money this would mean,
but agreed to my !ro!osal to travel first, and accordingly we sent a note to the
Station Master. * mentioned in my note that * was a barrister and that * always
travelled first. * also stated in the letter that * needed to reach Pretoria as early as
!ossible, that as there was no time to await his re!ly * would receive it in !erson at
the station, and that * should e&!ect to get a first class tic#et. There was of course a
!ur!ose behind as#ing for the re!ly in !erson. * thought that if the Station master
gave a written re!ly, he would certainly say (%o(, es!ecially because he would have his
own notion of a (collie( barrister. * would therefore a!!ear before him in faultless
6nglish dress, tal# to him and !ossibly !ersuade him to issue a first class tic#et. So *
went to the station in a froc#/coat and nec#tie, !laced a sovereign for my fare on the
counter and as#ed for a first class tic#et.
(=ou sent me that note@( he as#ed.
(That is so. * shall be much obliged if you will give me a tic#et. * must reach Pretoria
today.(
)e smiled and, moved to !ity, said' (* am not a Transvaaler. * am a )ollander. *
a!!reciate your feelings, and you have my sym!athy. * do want to give you a tic#et on
one condition, however, that, if the guard should as# you to shift to the third class,
you will not involve me in the affair, by which * mean that you should not !roceed
against the +ailway -om!any. * wish you a safe ,ourney. * can see you are a
gentleman.(
5ith these words he boo#ed the tic#et. * than#ed him and gave him the necessary
assurance.
Sheth 1bdul Gani had come to see me off at the station. The incident gave him an
agreeable sur!rise, but he warned me saying' (* shall be than#ful if you reach Pretoria
all right. * am afraid the guard will not leave you in !eace in the first class and even if
he does, the !assengers will not.(
* too# my seat in a first class com!artment and the train started. 1t Germiston the
guard came to e&amine the tic#ets. )e was angry to find me there, and signalled to
me with his finger to go to the third class. * showed him my first class tic#et. (That
doesn(t matter,( said he, (remove to the third class.(
There was only one 6nglish !assenger in the com!artment. )e too# the guard to as#.
("on(t you see he has a first class tic#et@ * do not mind in the least his travelling with
me.( 1ddressing me, he said, (=ou should ma#e yourself comfortable where you are.(
The guard mutteredC *f you want to travel with a coolie, what do * care@( and went
away.
1t about eight o(cloc# in the evening the train reached Pretoria.
%IR$T DA" IN PRET!RIA
* had e&!ected someone on behalf of "ada 1bdulla(s attorney to meet me at Pretoria
station. * #new that no *ndian would be there to receive me, since * had !articularly
!romised not to !ut u! at an *ndian house. But the attorney had sent no one. *
understood later that, as * had arrived on a Sunday, he could not have sent anyone
without inconvenience. * was !er!le&ed, and wondered where to go, as * feared that
no hotel would acce!t me.
Pretoria station in 9:<D was 3uite different from what it was in 9<9E. The lights were
burning dimly. The travellers were few. * let all the other !assengers go and thought
that, as soon as the tic#et collector was fairly free, * would hand him my tic#et and
as# him if he could direct me to some small hotel or any other such !lace where *
might goC otherwise * would s!end the night at the station. * must confess * shran#
from as#ing him even this, for * was afraid of being insulted.
The station became clear of all !assengers. * gave my tic#et to the tic#et collector
and began my in3uiries. )e re!lied to me courteously, but * saw that he could not be
of any considerable hel!. But an 1merican %egro who was standing near by bro#e into
the conversation.
(* see,( said he, (that you are an utter stranger here, without any friends. *f you will
come with me, * will ta#e you to a small hotel, of which the !ro!rietor is an 1merican
who is very well #nown to me. * thin# he will acce!t you.(
* had my own doubts about the offer, but * than#ed him and acce!ted his suggestion.
)e too# me to $ohnson(s 0amily )otel. )e drew Mr. $ohnson aside to s!ea# to him, and
the latter agreed to accommodate me for the night, on condition that * should have
my dinner served in my room.
(* assure you,( said he, (that * have no colour !re,udice. But * have only 6uro!ean
custom, and, if * allowed you to eat in the dining/room, my guests might be offended
and even go away.(
(Than# you,( said *, (even for accommodating me for the night. * am now more or less
ac3uainted with the conditions here, and * understand your difficulty. * do not mind
your serving the dinner in my room. * ho!e to be able to ma#e some other
arrangement tomorrow.(
* was shown into a room, where * now sat waiting for the dinner and musing, as * was
3uite alone. There were not many guests in the hotel, and * had e&!ected the waiter
to come very shortly with the dinner. *nstead Mr. $ohnston a!!eared. )e said' * was
ashamed of having as#ed you to have your dinner here. So * s!o#e to the other guests
about you, and as#ed them if they would mind your having your dinner in the dining/
room. They said they had no ob,ection, and that they did not mind your staying here
as long as you li#ed. Please, therefore, come to the dining/room, if you will, and stay
here as long as you wish.(
* than#ed him again, went to the dining/room and had a hearty dinner.
%e&t morning * called on the attorney, Mr. 1. 5. Ba#er. 1bdulla Sheth had given me
some descri!tion of him, so his cordial rece!tion did not sur!rise me. )e received me
very warmly and made #ind in3uiries. * e&!lained all about myself. Thereu!on he said'
(5e have no wor# for you here as barrister, for we have engaged the best counsel. The
case is a !rolonged and com!licated one, so * shall ta#e your assistance only to the
e&tent of getting necessary information. 1nd of course you will ma#e communication
with my client easy for me, as * shall now as# for all the information * want from him
through you. That is certainly an advantage, * have not yet found rooms for you. *
thought * had better do so after having seen you. There is a fearful amount of colour
!re,udice here, and therefore it is not easy to find lodgings for such as you. But *
#now a !oor woman. She is the wife of a ba#er. * thin# she will ta#e you and thus add
to her income at the same time. -ome, let us go to her !lace.(
So he too# me to her house. )e s!o#e with her !rivately about me, and she agreed to
acce!t me as a boarder at DG shilling a wee#.
Mr. Ba#er, besides being an attorney, was a staunch lay !reacher, )e is still alive and
now engaged !urely in missionary wor#, having given u! the legal !rofession. )e is
3uite well/to/do. )e still corres!onds with me. *n his letters he always dwells on the
same theme. )e u!holds the e&cellence of -hristianity from various !oints of view,
and contends that it is im!ossible to find eternal !eace, unless one acce!ts $esus as
the only son of God and the Saviour of man#ind.
"uring the very first interview Mr. Ba#er ascertained my religious views. * said to him'
(* am a )indu by birth. 1nd yet * do not #now much of )induism, and * #now less of
other religions. *n fact * do not #now where * am, and what is and what should be my
belief. * intend to ma#e a careful study of my own religion and, as far as * can, of
other religions as well.(
Mr. Ba#er was glad to hear all this, and said' (* am one of the "irectors of the South
1frica General Mission. * have built a church at my own e&!ense, and deliver sermons
in it regularly. * am free from colour !re,udice. * have some co/wor#ers, and we meet
at one o(cloc# every day for a few minutes and !ray for !eace and light. * shall be glad
if you will ,oin us there. * shall introduce you to my co/wor#ers who will be ha!!y to
meet you, and * dare say you will also li#e their com!any. * shall give you, besides
some religious boo#s to read, though of course the boo# of boo#s is the )oly Bible,
which * would s!ecially recommend to you.(
* than#ed Mr. Ba#er and agreed to attend the one o(cloc# !rayers as regularly as
!ossible.
(So * shall e&!ect you here tomorrow at one o(cloc#, and we shall go together to !ray,(
added Mr. Ba#er, and we said good/bye.
* had little time for reflection ,ust yet.
* went to Mr. $ohnston, !aid the bill and removed to the new lodgings, where * had my
lunch. The landlady was good woman. She had coo#ed a vegetarian meal for me. *t
was not long before * made myself 3uite at home with the family.
* ne&t went to see the friend to whom "ada 1bdulla had given me a note. 0rom him *
learnt more about the hardshi!s of *ndians in South 1frica. )e insisted that * should
stay with him. * than#ed him, and told him that * had already made arrangements. )e
urged me not to hesitate to as# for anything * needed.
*t was now dar#. * returned home, had my dinner, went to my room and lay there
absorbed in dee! thought. There was not any immediate wor# for me. * informed
1bdulla Sheth of it. 5hat, * thought, can be meaning of Mr. Ba#er(s interest in me@
5hat shall * gain from his religious co/wor#ers@ )ow far should * underta#e the study
of -hristianity@ )ow was * to obtain literature about )induism@ 1nd how was * to
understand -hristianity in its !ro!er !ers!ective without thoroughly #nowing my own
religion@ * could come to only one conclusion' * should ma#e a dis!assionate study of
all that came to me, and deal with Mr. Ba#er(s grou! as God might guide meC * should
not thin# of embracing another religion before * had fully understood my own.
Thus musing * fell aslee!.
CHRI$TIAN C!NTACT$
The ne&t day at one o(cloc# * went to Mr. Ba#er(s !rayer/meeting. There * was
introduced to Miss )arris, Miss Gabb, Mr. -oates and others. 6veryone #neeled down
to !ray, and * followed suit. The !rayers were su!!lications to God for various things,
according to each !erson(s desire. Thus the usual forms were for the day to be !assed
!eacefully, or for God to o!en the doors of the heart.
1 !rayer was now added for my welfare' (4ord, show the !ath to the new brother who
has come amongst us, Give him, 4ord, the !eace that Thou hast given us. May the
4ord $esus who has saved us save him too. 5e as# all this in the name of $esus.( There
was no singing of hymns or other music at these meetings. 1fter the su!!lication for
something s!ecial every day, we dis!ersed, each going to his lunch, that being the
hour for it. The !rayers did not ta#e more than five minutes.
The Misses )arris and Gabb were both elderly maiden ladies. Mr. -oates was a Hua#er.
The two ladies lived together, and they gave me a standing invitation to four o(cloc#
tea at their house every Sunday.
5hen we met on Sundays, * used to give Mr. -oates my religious diary for the wee#,
and discuss with him the boo#s * had read and the im!ression they had left on me.
The ladies used to narrate their sweet e&!eriences and tal# about the !eace they had
found.
Mr. -oates was a fran#/hearted staunch young man. 5e went out for wal#s together,
and he also too# me to other -hristian friends.
1s we came closer to each other, he began to give me boo#s of his own choice, until
my shelf was filled with them. )e loaded me with boo#s, as it were. *n !ure faith *
consented to read all those boo#s, and as * went on reading them we discussed them.
* read a number of such boo#s in 9:<D. * do not remember the names of them all, but
they included the Cmmentary of "r. Par#er of the -ity Tem!le, Pearson(s Many
/n$allible Pr$s and Butler(s Anal!y. Parts of these were unintelligible to me. * li#ed
some things in them, while * did not li#e others. Many /n$allible Pr$s were !roofs in
su!!ort of the religion of the Bible, as the author understood it. The boo# had no
effect on me. Par#er(s Cmmentary was morally stimulating, but it could not be of
any hel! to one who had no faith in the !revalent -hristian beliefs. Butler(s Anal!y
struc# me to be a very !rofound and difficult boo#, which should be read four or five
times to be understood !ro!erly. *t seemed to me to be written with a view to
converting atheists to theism. The arguments advanced in it regarding the e&istence
of God were unnecessary for me, as * had then !assed the stage of unbeliefC but the
arguments in !roof of $esus being the only incarnation of God and the mediator
between God and man left me unmoved.
But Mr. -oates was not the man easily to acce!t defeat. )e had great affection for
me. )e saw, round my nec#, the *aishnava nec#lace of Tulasi/beads. )e thought it to
be su!erstition and was !ained by it. (This su!erstition does not become you. -ome,
let me brea# the nec#lace.(
(%o, you will not. *t is a sacred gift from my mother.(
(But do you believe in it@(
(* do not #now its mysterious significance. * do not thin# * should come to harm if * did
not wear it. But * cannot, without sufficient reason, give u! a nec#lace that she !ut
round my nec# out of love and in the conviction that it would be conducive to my
welfare. 5hen, with the !assage of time, it wears away and brea#s of its own accord.
* shall have no desire to get a new one. But this nec#lace cannot be bro#en.(
Mr. -oates could not a!!reciate my argument, as he had no regard for my religion. )e
was loo#ing forward to delivering me from the abyss of ignorance. )e wanted to
convince me that, no matter whether there was some truth in other religions,
salvation was im!ossible for me unless * acce!ted -hristianity which re!resented the
truth, and that my sins would not be washed away e&ce!t by the intercession of
$esus, and that all good wor#s were useless.
$ust as he introduced me to several boo#s, he introduced me to several friends whom
he regarded as staunch -hristians. ne of these introductions was to a family which
belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, a -hristian sect.
Many of the contacts for which Mr. -oates was res!onsible were good. Most struc# me
as being God fearing. But during my contact with this family, one of the Plymouth
Brethren confronted me with an argument for which * was not !re!ared'
(=ou cannot understand the beauty of our religion. 0rom what you say it a!!ears that
you must be brooding over your transgressions every moment of your life, always
mending them and atoning for them. )ow can this ceaseless cycle of action bring you
redem!tion@ =ou can never have !eace. =ou admit that we are all sinners. %ow loo# at
the !erfection of our belief. ur attem!ts at im!rovement and atonement are futile.
1nd yet redem!tion we must have. )ow can we bear the burden of sin@ 5e can out
throw it on $esus. )e is the only sinless Son of God. *t is )is word that those who
believe in )im shall have everlasting life. Therein lies God(s infinite mercy. 1nd as we
believe in the atonement of $esus, our own sins do not bind us. Sin we must, *t is
im!ossible to live in this world sinless. 1nd therefore $esus suffered and atoned for all
the sins of man#ind. nly he who acce!ts )is great redem!tion can have eternal
!eace. Thin# what a life of restlessness is yours, and what a !romise of !eace we
have.(
The argument utterly failed to convince me. * humbly re!lied'
(*f this be the -hristianity ac#nowledged by all -hristians, * cannot acce!t it. * do not
see# redem!tion from the conse3uences of my sin. * see# to be redeemed from sin
itself, or rather from the very thought of sin. Until * have attained that end, * shall be
content to be restless.(
To which the Plymouth Brother re,oined' * assure you, your attem!t is fruitless. Thin#
again over what * have said.(
1nd the brother !roved as good as his word. he #nowingly committed transgressions,
and showed me that he was undisturbed by the thought of them.
But * already #new before meeting with these friends that all -hristians did not
believe in such a theory of atonement. Mr. -oates himself wal#ed in the fear of God,
)is heart was !ure, and he believed in the !ossibility of self/!urification. The two
ladies also shared this belief. Some of the boo#s that came into my hands were full of
devotion, So, although Mr. -oates was very much disturbed by this latest e&!erience
of mine. * was able to reassure him and tell him that the distorted belief of a
Plymouth Brother could not !re,udice me against -hristianity.
My difficulties lay elsewhere. They were with regard to the Bible and its acce!ted
inter!retation.
$EEKING T!#CH ,ITH INDIAN$
Before writing further about -hristian contacts, * must record other e&!eriences of
the same !eriod.
Sheth Tyeb )a,i Khan Muhammad had in Pretoria the same !osition as was en,oyed by
"ada 1bdulla in %atal. There was no !ublic movement that could be conducted
without him. * made his ac3uaintance the very first wee# and told him of my intention
to get in touch with every *ndian in Pretoria. * e&!ressed a desire to study the
conditions of *ndians there, and as#ed for his hel! in my wor#, which he gladly agreed
to give.
My first ste! was to call a meeting of all the *ndians in Pretoria and to !resent to
them a !icture of their condition in the Transvaal. The meeting was held at the house
of Sheth )a,i Muhammad )a,i $oosab, to whom * had a letter of introduction. *t was
!rinci!ally attended by Meman merchants, though there was a s!rin#ling of )indus as
well. The )indu !o!ulation in Pretoria was as a metter of fact, very small.
My s!eech at this meeting may be said to have been the first !ublic s!eech in my life.
* went fairly !re!ared with my sub,ect, which was about observing truthfulness in
business. * had always heard the merchants say that truth was not !ossible in
business. * did not thin# so then, nor do * now. 6ven today there are merchant friends
who contend that truth is inconsistent with business. Business,they say, is a very
!ractical affair, and truth a matter of religionC and they argue that !ractical affairs
are one thing, while religion is 3uite another. Pure truth, they hold, is out of the
3uestion in business, one can s!ea# it only so far as is suitable. * strongly contested
the !osition in my s!eech and awa#ened the merchants to a sense of their duty, which
was two/fold. Their res!onsibility to be truthful was all the greater in a foreign land,
because of the millions of their fellow/countrymen.
* had found our !eo!le(s habits to be insanitary, as com!ared with those of the
6nglishmen around them, and drew their attention to it. * laid stress on the necessity
of forgetting all distinctions such as )indus, Musalmans, Parsis, -hristians, Gu,aratis,
Madrasis, Pun,abis, Sindhis, Kachchhis, Surtis and so on.
* suggested, in conclusion, the formation of an association to ma#e re!resentations to
the authorities concerned in res!ect of the hardshi!s of the *ndian settlers, and
offered to !lace at its dis!osal as much of my time and service as was !ossible.
* saw that * made a considerable im!ression on the meeting.
My s!eech was followed by discussion. Some offered to su!!ly me with facts. * felt
encouraged. * saw that very few amongst my audience #new 6nglish. 1s * felt that
#nowledge of 6nglish would be useful in that country, advised those who had leisure
to learn 6nglish. * told them that it was !ossible to learn a language even at an
advanced age, and cited cases of !eo!le who had done so. * undertoo#, besides, to
teach a class, if one was started or !ersonally to instruct individuals desiring to learn
the language.
The class was not started, but three young men e&!ressed their readiness to learn at
their convenience, and on condition that * went to their !laces to teach them. f
these, two were Musalmans one of them a barbar and the other a cler# and the third
was a )indu, a !etty sho!#ee!er. * agreed to suit them all. * had no misgivings
regarding my ca!acity to teach. My !u!ils might become tried, but not *. Sometimes it
ha!!ened that * would go to their !laces only to find them engaged in their business.
But * did not lose !atience. %one of the three desired a dee! study of 6nglish, but two
may be said to have made fairly good !rogress in about eight months. Two learnt
enough to #ee! accounts and write ordinary business letters. The barber(s ambition
was confined to ac3uiring ,ust enough 6nglish for dealing with his customers. 1s a
result of their studies, two of the !u!ils were e3ui!!ed for ma#ing a fair income.
* was satisfied with the result of the meeting. *t was decided to hold such meetings,
as far as * remember, once a wee# or, may be, once a month. These were held more
or less regularly, and on these occasions there was a free e&change of ideas. The
result was that there was now in Pretoria no *ndian * did not #now, or whose condition
* was not ac3uainted with. This !rom!ted me in turn to ma#e the ac3uaintance of the
British 1gent in Pretoria, Mr. $acobus de 5et. )e had sym!athy for the *ndians, but he
had very little influence. )owever, he agreed to hel! us as best he could, and invited
me to meet him whenever * wished.
* now communicated with the railway authorities and told them that, even under
their own regulations, the disabilities about travelling under which the *ndians
laboured could not be ,ustified. * got a letter in re!ly to the effect that first and
second class tic#ets would be issued to *ndians who were !ro!erly dressed. This was
far from giving ade3uate relief, as it rested with the Station Master to decide who
was (!ro!erly dressed.(
The British 1gent showed me some !a!ers dealing with *ndian affairs. Tyeb Sheth had
also given me similar !a!ers. * learnt from them how cruelly the *ndians were
hounded out from the range 0ree State.
*n short, my stay in Pretoria enabled me to ma#e a dee! study of the social, economic
and !olitical condition of the *ndians in the Transvaal and the range 0ree State. * had
no idea that this study was to be of invaluable service to me in the future. 0or * had
thought of returning home by the end of the year, or even earlier, if the case was
finished before the year was out.
But God dis!osed otherwise.
,HAT IT I$ T! BE A &C!!IE&
*t would be out of !lace here to describe fully the condition of *ndians in the
Transvaal and the range 0ree State. * would suggest that those who wish to have a
full idea of it may turn to my Histry $ Satya!raha in Suth A$rica. *t is, however,
necessary to give here a brief outline.
*n the range 0ree State the *ndians were de!rived of all their rights by a s!ecial law
enacted in 9::: or even earlier. *f they chose to stay there, they could do so only to
serve as waiters in hotels or to !ursue some other such menial calling. The traders
were driven away with a nominal com!ensation. They made re!resentations and
!etitions, but in vain.
1 very stringent enactment was !assed in the Transvaal in 9::G. *t was slightly
amended in 9::;, and it was !rovided under the amended law that all *ndians should
!ay a !oll ta& of L D as fee for entry into the Transvaal. They might not own land
e&ce!t in locations set a!art for them, and in !ractice even that was not to be
ownershi!. They had no franchise. 1ll this was under the s!ecial law for 1siatics, to
whom the laws for the coloured !eo!le were also a!!lied. Under these latter, *ndians
might not wal# on !ublic foot!aths, and might not move out of doors after < P. M.
without a !ermit. The enforcement of this last regulation was elastic so far as the
*ndians were concerned. Those who !assed as (1rabs( were, as a matter of favour,
e&em!ted from it. The e&em!tion thus naturally de!ended on the sweet will of the
!olice.
* had to e&!erience the effect of both these regulations. * often went out at night for
a wal# with Mr. -oates, and we rarely got bac# home much before ten o(cloc#. 5hat if
the !olice arrested me@ Mr. -oates was more concerned about this than *. )e had to
issue !asses to his %egro servants. But how could he give one to me@ nly a master
might issue a !ermit to a servant. *f * had wanted one, and even if Mr. -oates had
been ready to give it, he could not have done so, for it would have been fraud.
So Mr. -oates or some friend of his too# me to the State 1ttorney, "r. Krause. 5e
turned out to be barristers of the same *nn. The fact that * needed a !ass to enable
me to be out of doors after < P.M. was too much for him. )e e&!ressed sym!athy for
me. *nstead of ordering for me a !ass, he gave me a letter authori2ing me to be out of
doors at all hours without !olice interference. * always #e!t this letter on me
whenever * went out. The fact that * never had to ma#e use of it was a mere
accident.
"r. Krause invited me to his !lace, and we may be said to have become friends. *
occasionally called on him, and it was through him that * was introduced to his more
famous brother, who was !ublic Prosecutor in $ohannesburg. "uring the Boer 5ar he
was court/martialled for cons!iring to murder an 6nglish officer, and was sentenced to
im!risonment for seven years. )e was also disbarred by the Benchers. n the
termination of hostilities he was released and being honourably readmitted to the
Transvaal bar, resumed !ractice.
These connections were useful to me later on in my !ublic life, and sim!lified much
of my wor#.
The conse3uences of the regulation regarding the use of foot!aths were rather serious
for me. * always went out for a wal# through President Street to an o!en !lain.
President Kruger(s house was in this street a very modest, unostentatious building,
without a garden, and not distinguishable from other houses in its neighbourhood. The
houses of many of the millionaires in Pretoria were far more !retentious, and were
surrounded by gardens. *ndeed President Kruger(s sim!licity was !roverbial. nly the
!resence of a !olice !atrol before the house indicated that it belonged to some
official. * nearly always went along the foot!ath !ast this !atrol without the slightest
hitch or hindrance.
%ow the man on duty used to be changed from time to time. nce one of these men,
without giving me the slightest warning, without even as#ing me to leave the
foot!ath, !ushed and #ic#ed me into the street. * was dismayed. Before * could
3uestion him as to his behaviour, Mr. -oates, who ha!!ened to be !assing the s!ot on
horsebac#, hailed me and said'
(Gandhi, * have seen everything. * shall gladly be your witness in court if you !roceed
against the man. * am very sorry you have been so rudely assaulted.(
(=ou need not be sorry,( * said. (5hat does the !oor man #now@ 1ll coloured !eo!le are
the same to him. )e no doubt treats %egroes ,ust as he has treated me. * have made
it a rule not go to court in res!ect of any !ersonal grievance. So * do not intend to
!roceed against him.(
(That is ,ust li#e you,( said Mr. -oates, but do thin# it over again. 5e must teach such
men a lesson.( )e then s!o#e to the !oliceman and re!rimanded him. * could not
follow their tal#, as it was in "utch, the !oliceman being a Boer. But he a!ologi2ed to
me, for which there was no need. * had already forgiven him.
But * never again went through this street. There would be other men coming in this
man(s !lace and, ignorant of the incident, they would behave li#ewise. 5hy should *
unnecessarily court another #ic#@ * therefore selected a different wal#.
The incident dee!ened my feeling for the *ndian settlers. * discussed with them the
advisability of ma#ing a test case, if it were found necessary to do so, after having
seen the British 1gent in the matter of these regulations.
* thus made an intimate study of the hard condition of the *ndian settlers, not only by
reading and hearing about it, but by !ersonal e&!erience. * saw that South 1frica was
no country for a self/ res!ecting *ndian, and my mind became more and more
occu!ied with the 3uestion as to how this state of things might be im!roved.
But my !rinci!al duty for the moment was to attend to the case of "ada 1bdulla.
PREPARATI!N %!R THE CA$E
The year(s stay in Pretoria was a most valuable e&!erience in my life. )ere it was that
* had o!!ortunities of learning !ublic wor# and ac3uired some measure of my ca!acity
for it. )ere it was that the religious s!irit within me became a living force, and here
too * ac3uired a true #nowledge of legal !ractice. )ere * learnt the things that a
,unior barrister learns in a senior barrister(s chamber, and here * also gained
confidence that * should not after all fail as a lawyer. *t was li#ewise here that * learnt
the secret of success as a lawyer.
"ada 1bdulla(s was no small case. The suit was for L EA,AAA. 1rising out of business
transactions, it was full of intricacies of accounts. Part of the claim was based on
!romissory notes, and !art on the s!ecific !erformance of !romise to delivery
!romissory notes. The defence was that the !romissory notes were fraudulently ta#en
and lac#ed sufficient consideration. There were numerous !oints of fact and law in
this intricate case.
Both !arties had engaged the best arrorneys and counsel. * thus had a fine
o!!ortunity of studying their wor#. The !re!aration of the !laintiff(s case for the
attorney and the sifting of facts in su!!ort of his case had been entrusted to me. *t
was an education to see how much the attorney acce!ted, and how much he re,ected
from my !re!aration, as also to see how much use the counsel made of the brief
!re!ared by the attorney. * saw that this !re!aration for the case would give me a fair
measure of my !owers of com!rehension and my ca!acity for marshalling evidence.
* too# the #eenest interest in the case. *ndeed * threw myself into it. * read all the
!a!ers !ertaining to the transactions. My client was a man of great ability and
re!osed absolute confidence in me, and this rendered my wor# easy. * made a fair
study of boo#/#ee!ing. My ca!acity for translation was im!roved by having to
translate the corres!ondence, which was for the most !art in Gu,arati.
1lthough, as * have said before, * too# a #een interest in religious communion and in
!ublic wor# and always gave some of my time to them, they were not then my
!rimary interest. The !re!aration of the case was my !rimary interest. +eading of law
and loo#ing u! law cases, when necessary, had always a !rior claim on my time. 1s a
result, * ac3uired such a gras! of the facts of the case as !erha!s was not !ossessed
even by the !arties themselves, inasmuch as * had with me the !a!ers of both the
!arties.
* recalled the late Mr. Pincutt(s advice / facts are three/fourths of the law. 1t a later
date it was am!ly borne out by that famous barrister of South 1frica, the late Mr.
4eonard. *n a certain case in my charge * saw that, though ,ustice was on the side of
my client, the law seemed to be against him. *n des!air * a!!roached Mr. 4eonard for
hel!. )e also felt that the facts of the case were very strong. )e e&claimed, (Gandhi, *
have learnt one thing, and it is this, that if we ta#e care of the facts of a case, the
law will ta#e care of itself. 4et us dive dee!er into the facts of this case.( 5ith these
words he as#ed me to study the case further and then see him again. n a re/
e&amination of the facts * saw them in an entirely new light, and * also hit u!on an old
South 1frican case bearing on the !oint. * was delighted and went to Mr. 4eonard and
told him everything. (+ight,( he said, (we shall win the case. nly we must bear in
mind which of the ,udges ta#es it.(
5hen * was ma#ing !re!aration for "ada 1bdulla(s case, * had not fully reali2ed this
!aramount im!ortance of facts. 0acts mean truth, and once we adhere to truth, the
law comes to our aid naturally. * saw that the facts of "ada 1bdulla(s case made it
very strong indeed, and that the law was bound to be !ersisted in, would ruin the
!laintiff and the defendant, who were relatives and both belonged to the same city.
%o one #new how long the case might go on. Should it be allowed to continue to be
fought out in court, it might go on indefinitely and to no advantage of either !arty.
Both, therefore, desired an immediate termination of the case, if !ossible.
* a!!roached Tyeb Sheth and re3uested and advised him to go to arbitration. *
recommended him to see his counsel. * suggested to him that if an arbitrator
commanding the confidence of both !arties could a!!ointed, the case would be
3uic#ly finished. The lawyers( fees were so ra!idly mounting u! that they were enough
to devour all the resources of the clients, big merchants as they were. The case
occu!ied so much of their attention that they had no time left for any other wor#. *n
the meantime mutual ill/will was steadily increasing. * became disgusted with the
!rofession. 1s lawyers the counsel on both sides were bound to ra#e u! !oints of law
in su!!ort of their own clients. * also saw for the first time that the winning !arty
never recovers all the costs incurred. Under the -ourt 0ees +egulation there was a
fi&ed scale of costs to be allowed as between !arty and !arty, the actual costs as
between attorney and client being very much higher. This was more than * could bear.
* felt that my duty was to befriend both !arties and bring them together. * strained
every nerve to bring about a com!romise. 1t last Tyeb Sheth agreed. 1n arbitrator was
a!!ointed, the case was argued before him, and "ada 1bdulla won.
But that did not satisfy me. *f my client were to see# immediate e&ecution of the
award, it would be im!ossible for Tyeb Sheth to meet the whole of the awarded
amount, and there was an unwritten law among the Porbandar Memans living in South
1frica that death should be !referred to ban#ru!tcy. *t was im!ossible for Tyeb Sheth
to !ay down the whole sum of about L DF,AAA and costs. )e meant to !ay not a !ie
less than the amount, and he did not want to be declared ban#ru!t. There was only
one way. "ada 1bdulla should him to !ay in moderate instalments. )e was e3ual to
the occasion, and granted Tyeb Sheth instalments s!read over a very long !eriod. *t
was more difficult for me to secure this concession of !ayment by instalments than to
get the !arties to agree to arbitration. But both were ha!!y over the result, and both
rose in the !ublic estimation. My ,oy was boundless. * had learnt the true !ractice of
law. * had learnt to find out the better side of human nature and to enter men(s
hearts. * reali2ed that the true function of a lawyer was to unite !arties riven
asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large !art of my time during
the twenty years of my !ractice as a lawyer was occu!ied in bringing about !rivate
com!romises of hundreds of cases. * lost nothing thereby / not even money, certainly
not my soul.
REIGI!#$ %ERMENT
*t is now time to turn again to my e&!eriences with -hristian friends.
Mr. Ba#er was getting an&ious about my future. )e too# me to the 5ellington
-onvention. The Protestant -hristians organi2e such gatherings every few years for
religious enlightenment or, in other words, self/!urification. ne may call this
religious restoration or revival. The 5ellington -onvention was of this ty!e. The
chairman was the famous divine of the !lace, the +ev. 1ndrew Murray. Mr. Ba#er had
ho!ed that the atmos!here of religious e&altation at the -onvention, and the
enthusiasm and earnestness of the !eo!le attending it, would inevitably lead me to
embrace -hristianity.
But his final ho!e was the efficacy of !rayer. )e had an abiding faith in !rayer. *t was
his firm conviction that God could not but listen to !rayer fervently offered. )e would
cite the instances of men li#e George Muller of Bristol, who de!ended entirely on
!rayer even for his tem!oral needs. * listened to his discourse on the efficacy of
!rayer with unbiased attention, and assured him that nothing could !revent me from
embracing -hristianity, should * feel the call. * had no hesitation in giving him this
assurance, as * had long since taught myself to follow the inner voice. * delighted in
submitting to it. To act against it would be difficult and !ainful to me.
So we went to 5ellington. Mr. Ba#er was hard !ut to it in having (a coloured man( li#e
me for his com!anion. )e had to suffer inconveniences on many occasions entirely on
account of me. 5e had to brea# the ,ourney on the way, as one of the days ha!!ened
to be a Sunday, and Mr. Ba#er and his !arty would not travel on the sabbath. Though
the manager of the station hotel agreed to ta#e me in after much altercation, he
absolutely refused to admit me to the dining/ room. Mr. Ba#er was not the man to
give way easily. )e stood by the rights of the guests of a hotel. But * could see his
difficulty. 1t 5ellington also * stayed with Mr. Ba#er. *n s!ite of his best efforts to
conceal the little inconveniences that he was !ut to, * could see them all.
This -onvention was an assemblage of devout -hristians. * was delighted at their
faith. * met the +ev. Murray. * saw that many were !raying for me. * li#ed some of
their hymns, they were very sweet.
The -onvention lasted for three days. * could understand and a!!reciate the
devoutness of those who attended it. But * saw no reason for changing my belief my
religion. *t was im!ossible for me to believe that * could go to heaven or attain
salvation only by becoming a -hristian. 5hen * fran#ly said so to some of the good
-hristian friends, they were shoc#ed. But there was no hel! for it.
My difficulties lay dee!er. *t was more than * could believe that $esus was the only
incarnate son of God, and that only he who believed in him would have everlasting
life. *f God could have sons, all of us were )is sons. *f $esus was li#e God, or God
)imself, then all men were li#e God and could be God )imself. My reason was not
ready to believe literally that $esus by his death and by his blood redeemed the sins
of the world. Meta!horically there might be some truth in it. 1gain, according to
-hristianity only human beings had souls, and not other living beings, for whom death
meant com!lete e&tinctionC while * held a contrary belief. * could acce!t $esus as a
martyr, an embodiment of sacrifice, and a divine teacher, but not as the most !erfect
man ever born. )is death on the -ross was a great e&am!le to the world, but that
there was anything li#e a mysterious or miraculous virtue in it my heart could not
acce!t. The !ious lives of -hristians did not give me anything that the lives of men of
other faiths had failed to give. * had seen in other lives ,ust the same reformation
that * had heard of among -hristian !rinci!les. 0rom the !oint of view of sacrifice, it
seemed to me that the )indus greatly sur!assed the -hristians. *t was im!ossible for
me to regard -hristianity as a !erfect religion or the greatest of all religions.
* shared this mental churning with my -hristian friends whenever there was an
o!!ortunity, but their answers could not satisfy me.
Thus if * could not acce!t -hristianity either as a !erfect, or the greatest religion,
neither was * then convinced of )induism being such. )indu defects were !ressingly
visible to me. *f untouchability could be a !art of )induism, it could but be a rotten
!art or an e&crescence. * could not understand the raisn d1etre of a multitude of
sects and castes. 5hat was the meaning of saying that the .edas were the ins!ired
5ord of God@ *f they were ins!ired, why not also the Bible and the Koran@
1s -hristian friends were endeavouring to convert me, even so were Musalman
friends. 1bdulla Sheth had #e!t on inducing me to study *slam, and of course he had
always something to say regarding its beauty.
* e&!ressed my difficulties in a letter to +aychandbhai. * also corres!onded with other
religious authorities in *ndia and received answers from them. +aychandbhai(s letter
somewhat !acified me. )e as#ed me to be !atient and to study )induism more
dee!ly. ne of his sentences was to this effect' (n a dis!assionate view of the
3uestion * am convinced that no other religion has the subtle and !rofound thought of
)induism, its vision of the soul, or its charity.(
* !urchased Sale(s translation of the Koran and began reading it. * also obtained other
boo#s on *slam. * communicated with -hristian friends in 6ngland. ne of them
introduced me to 6dward Maitland, with whom * o!ened corres!ondence. )e sent me
#he Per$ect +ay, a boo# he had written in collaboration with 1nna Kingsford. The
boo# was a re!udiation of the current -hristian belief. )e also sent me another boo#,
#he Ne& /nterpretatin $ the Bible. * li#ed both. They seemed to su!!ort )induism.
Tolstoy(s #he Kin!dm $ (d is +ithin 2u overwhelmed me. *t left an abiding
im!ression on me. Before the inde!endent thin#ing, !rofound morality, and the
truthfulness of this boo#, all the boo#s given me by Mr. -oates seemed to !ale into
insignificance.
My studies thus carried me in a direction unthought of by the -hristian friends. My
corres!ondence with 6dward Maitland was fairly !rolonged, and that with
+aychandbhai continued until his death. * read some of the boo#s he sent me. These
included Panchikaran' Maniratnamala' Mumukshu Prakaran $ 2!avasishtha'
Haribhadra Suri1s Shaddarshana Samuchchaya and others.
Though * too# a !ath my -hristian friends had not intended for me, * have remained
for indebted to them for the religious 3uest that they awa#ened in me. * shall always
cherish the memory of their contact. The years that followed had more, not less, of
such sweet and sacred contacts in store for me.
MAN PR!P!$E$. G!D DI$P!$E$
The case having been concluded, * had no reason for staying in Pretoria. So * went
bac# to "urban and began to ma#e !re!arations for my return home. But 1bdulla
Sheth was not the man to let me sail without a send/off. )e gave a farewell !arty in
my honour at Sydenham.
*t was !ro!osed to s!end the whole day there. 5hilst * was turning over the sheets of
some of the news!a!ers * found there, * chanced to see a !aragra!h in a corner of one
of them under the ca!tion (*ndian franchise(. *t was with reference to the Bill then
before the )ouse of 4egislature, which sought to de!rive the *ndians of their right to
elect members of the %atal 4egislative 1ssembly. * was ignorant of the Bill, and so
were the rest of the guests who had assembled there.
* in3uired of 1bdulla Sheth about it. )e said' (5hat can we understand in these
matters@ 5e can only understand things that affect our trade. 1s you #now all our
trade in the range 0ree State has been swe!t away. 5e agitated about it, but in
vain. 5e are after all lame men, being unlettered. 5e generally ta#e in news!a!ers
sim!ly to ascertain the daily mar#et rates, etc. 5hat can we #now of legislation@ ur
eyes and ears are the 6uro!ean attorneys here.(
(But,(said *, (there are so many young *ndians born and educated here, "o not they
hel! you@(
(TheyB( e&claimed 1bdulla Sheth in des!air. (They never care to come to us, and to tell
you the truth, we care less to recogni2e them. Being -hristians, they are under the
thumb of the white clergymen, who in their turn are sub,ect to the Government.(
This o!ened my eyes. * felt that this class should be claimed as our own. 5as this the
meaning of -hristianity@ "id they cease to be *ndians because they had become
-hristians@
But * was on the !oint of returning home and hesitated to e&!ress what was !assing
through my mind in this matter. * sim!ly said to 1bdulla Sheth' (This Bill, if it !asses
into law, will ma#e our lot e&tremely difficult. *t is the first nail into our coffin. *t
stri#es at the root of our self/res!ect.(
(*t may,( echoed Sheth 1bdulla. (* will tell you the genesis of the franchise 3uestion. 5e
#new nothing about it. But Mr. 6scombe, one of our best attorneys, whom you #now,
!ut the idea into our heads. *t ha!!ened thus. )e is a great fighter, and there being
no love lost between, him and the 5harf 6ngineer, he feared that the 6ngineer might
de!rive him of his votes and defeat him at the election. So he ac3uainted us with our
!osition, and at his instance we all registered ourselves as voters, and voted for him.
=ou will now see how the franchise has not for us the value that you attach to it. But
we understand what you say. 5ell, then, what is your advice@(
The other guests were listening to this conversation with attention. ne of them said'
(Shall * tell you what should be done@ =ou cancel your !assage by this boat, stay here a
month longer, and we will fight as you direct us.(
1ll the others chimed in ' (*ndeed, indeed. 1bdulla Sheth, you must detain
Gandhibhai.(
The Sheth was a shrewd man. )e said' (* may not detain him now. r rather, you have
as much right as * to do so. But you are 3uite right. 4et us all !ersuade him to stay on.
But you should remember that he is a barrister. 5hat about his fees@(
The mention of fees !ained me, and * bro#e in ' (1bdulla Sheth, fees are out of the
3uestion. There can be no fees for !ublic wor#. * can stay, if at all, as a servant. 1nd
as you #now, * am not ac3uainted with all these friends. But if you believe that they
will co/o!erate, * am !re!ared to stay a month longer. There is one thing, however.
Though you need not !ay me anything, wor# of the nature we contem!late cannot be
done without some funds to start with. Thus we may have to send telegrams, we may
have to !rint some literature, some touring may have to be done, the local attorneys
may have to be consulted, and as * am ignorant of your laws, * may need some law/
boo#s for reference. 1ll this cannot be done without money. 1nd it is clear that one
man is not enough for this wor#. Many must come forward to hel! him.(
1nd a chorus of voices was heard' (1llah is great and merciful. Money will come in.
Men there are, as many as you may need. =ou !lease consent to stay, and all will be
well.(
The farewell !arty was thus turned into a wor#ing committee. * suggested finishing
dinner etc. 3uic#ly and getting bac# home. * wor#ed out in my own mind an outline of
the cam!aign. * ascertained the names of those who were on the list of voters, and
made u! my mind to stay on for a month.
Thus God laid the foundations of my life in South 1frica and sowed the seed of the
fight for national self/res!ect.
$ETTED IN NATA
Sheth )a,i Muhammad )a,i "ada was regarded as the foremost leader of the *ndian
community in %atal in 9:<D. 0inancially Sheth 1bdulla )a,i 1dam was the chief among
them, but he and others always gave the first !lace to Sheth )a,i Muhammad in !ublic
affairs. 1 meeting was therefore, held under his !residentshi! at the house of 1bdulla
Sheth, at which it was resolved to offer o!!osition to the 0ranchise Bill.
.olunteers were enrolled. %atal/born *ndians, that is, mostly -hristian *ndian youths,
had been invited to attend this meeting Mr. Paul, the "urban -ourt *nter!reter, and
Mr. Subhan Godfrey, )eadmaster of a mission school, were !resent, and it was they
who were res!onsible for bringing together at the meeting a good number of -hristian
youths. 1ll these enrolled themselves as volunteers.
Many of the local merchants were of course enrolled, noteworthy among them Sheths
"awud Muhammad, Muhammad Kasam Kamruddin, 1dam,i Miya#han, 1. Kolandavellu
Pillai, -. 4achhiram, +angasami Padiachi, and 1mad $iva. Parsi +ustom,i was of course
there. 0rom among the cler#s were Messrs Mane#,i, $oshi, %arsinhram and others,
em!loyees of "ada 1bdulla and -o. and other big firms. They were all agreeably
sur!rised to find themselves ta#ing a share in !ublic wor#. To be invited thus to ta#e
!art was a new e&!erience the community, all distinctions such as high and low, small
and great, master and servant, )indus, Musalmans, Parsis, -hristians, Gu,aratis,
Madrasis, Sindhis, etc., were forgotten. 1ll were ali#e the children and servants of the
motherland.
The Bill had already !assed, or was about to !ass, its second reading. *n the s!eeches
on the occasion the fact that *ndians had e&!ressed no o!!osition the stringent Bill
was urged as !roof of their unfitness for the franchise.
* e&!lained the situation to the meeting. The first thing we did was to des!atch a
telegram to the S!ea#er of the 1ssembly re3uesting him to !ost!one further
discussion of the Bill. 1 similar telegram was sent to the Premier, Sir $ohn +obinson,
and another to Mr. 6scombe, as a friend of "ada 1bdulla(s. The S!ea#er !rom!tly
re!lied that discussion of the Bill would be !ost!oned for two days. This gladdened
our hearts.
The !etition to be !resented to the 4egislative 1ssembly was drawn u!. Three co!ies
had to be !re!ared and one e&tra was needed for the !ress. *t was also !ro!osed to
obtain as many signatures to it as !ossible, and all this wor# had to be done in the
course of a night. The volunteers with a #nowledge of 6nglish and several others sat
u! the whole night. Mr. 1rthur, an old man, who was #nown for his calligra!hy, wrote
!rinci!al co!y. The rest were written by others to someone(s dictation. 0ive co!ies
were thus got ready simultaneously. Merchant volunteers went out in their own
carriages, or carriages whose hire they had !aid, to obtain signatures to the !etition
was des!atched. The news!a!ers !ublished it with favourable comments. *t li#ewise
created an im!ression on the 1ssembly. *t was discussed in the )ouse. Partisans of the
Bill offered a defence, an admittedly lame one, in re!ly to the arguments advanced in
the !etition. The Bill, however, was !assed.
5e all #new that this was a foregone conclusion, but the agitation had infused new
life into the community and had brought home to them the conviction that the
community was one and indivisible, and that it was as much their duty to fight for its
!olitical rights as for its trading rights.
4ord +i!on was at this time Secretary of State for the -olonies. *t was decided to
submit to him a monster !etition. This was no small tas# and could not be done in a
day. .olunteers were enlisted, and all did their due share of the wor#.
* too# considerable !ains over drawing u! this !etition. * read all the literature
available on the sub,ect. My argument centred round a !rinci!le and an e&!edience. *
argued that we had a right to the franchise in %atal, as we had a #ind of franchise in
*ndia. * urged that it was e&!edient to retain it, as the *ndian !o!ulation ca!able of
using the franchise was very small.
Ten thousand signatures were obtained in the course of a fortnight. To secure this
number of signatures from the whole of the !rovince was no light tas#, es!ecially
when we consider that the men were !erfect strangers to the wor#. S!ecially
com!etent volunteers had to be selected for the wor#, as it had been decided not to
ta#e a single signature without the signatory fully understanding the !etition. The
villages were scattered at long distances. The wor# could be done !rom!tly only if a
number of wor#ers !ut their whole heart into it. 1nd this they did. 1ll carried out
their allotted tas# figures of Sheth "awud Muhammad, +ustom,i, 1dam,i Miya#han,
and 1mad $iva rise clearly before my mind. They brought in the largest number of
signatures. "awud Sheth #e!t going about in his carriage the whole day. 1nd it was all
a labour of love, not one of them as#ing for even his out/of/!oc#et e&!enses. "ada
1bdulla(s house became at once a caravanserai and a !ublic office. 1 number of
educated fiends who hel!ed me and many others had their food there. Thus every
hel!er was !ut to considerable e&!ense.
The !etition was at last submitted. 1 thousand co!ies had been !rinted for circulation
and distribution. *t ac3uainted the *ndian !ublic for the first time with conditions in
%atal. * sent co!ies to all the news!a!ers and !ublicists * #new.
#he #imes $ /nida, in a leading article on the !etition, strongly su!!orted the *ndian
demands. -o!ies were sent to ,ournals and !ublicists in 6ngland re!resenting
different !arties. The 4ondon #imes su!!orted our claims, and we began to entertain
ho!es of the Bill being vetoed.
*t was now im!ossible for me to leave %atal. The *ndian friends surrounded me on all
sides and im!ortuned me to remain there !ermanently. * e&!ressed my difficulties. *
had made u! my mind not to stay at !ublic e&!ense. * felt it necessary to set u! an
inde!endent household. * thought that the house should be good and situated in a
good locality of the community, unless * lived in a style usual for barristers. 1nd it
seemed to me to be im!ossible to run such a household with anything less than DAA a
year. * therefore decided that * could stay only if the members of the community
guaranteed legal wor# to the e&tent of that minimum, and * communicated my
decision to them.
(But,( said they, (we should li#e you to draw that amount for !ublic wor#, and we can
easily collect it. f course this is a!art from the fees you must charge for !rivate
legal wor#.(
(%o, * could not thus charge you for !ublic wor#,( said *. (The wor# would not involve
the e&ercise on my !art of much s#ill as barrister. My wor# would be mainly to ma#e
you all wor#. 1nd how could * charge you for that@ 1nd then * should have to a!!eal to
you fre3uently for funds for the wor#, and if * were to draw my maintenance from
you, * should find myself at a disadvantage in ma#ing an a!!eal for large amounts,
and we should ultimately find ourselves at a standstill. Besides * want the community
to find more than DAA annually for !ublic wor#.(
(But we have now #nown you for some time, and are sure you would not draw anything
you do not need. 1nd if we wanted you to stay here, should we not find your
e&!enses@(
(*t is your love and !resent enthusiasm that ma#e you tal# li#e this. )ow can we be
sure that this love and enthusiasm will endure for ever@ 1nd as your friend and
servant, * should occasionally have to say hard things to you. )eaven only #nows
whether * should then retain your affection. But the fact is that * must not acce!t any
salary for !ublic wor#. *t is enough for me that you should all agree to entrust me
with your legal wor#. 6ven that may be hard for you. 0or one thing * am not a white
barrister. )ow can * be sure that the court will res!ond to me@ %or can * be sure how *
shall fare as a lawyer. So even in giving me retainers you may be running some ris#. *
should regard even the fact of your giving them to me as the reward of my !ublic
wor#.(
The u!shot of this discussion was that about twenty merchants gave me retainers for
one year for their legal wor#. Besides this, "ada 1bdulla !urchased me the necessary
furniture in lieu of a !urse he had intended to give me on my de!arture,
Thus * settled in %atal.
C!!#R BAR
The symbol of a -ourt of ,ustice is !air of scales held evenly by an im!artial and blind
but sagacious woman. 0ate has !ur!osely made her blind, in order that she may not
,udge a !erson from his e&terior but from his intrinsic worth. But the 4aw Society of
natal set out to !ersuade the Su!reme -ourt to act in contravention of this !rinci!le
and to belie its symbol.
* a!!lied for admission as an advocate of the Su!reme -ourt. * held a certificate of
admission from the Bombay )igh -ourt. The 6nglish certificate * had to de!osit with
the Bombay )igh -ourt when * was enrolled there. *t was necessary to attach two
certificates of character to the a!!lication for admission, and thin#ing that these
would carry more weight if given by 6uro!eans, * secured them from two well/#nown
6uro!ean merchants whom * #new through Sheth 1bdulla. The a!!lication had to be
!resented through a member of the bar, and as a rule the 1ttorney General !resented
such a!!lications without fees. Mr. 6scombe, who, as we have seen, was legal adviser
to Messrs. "ada 1bdulla O -o, was the 1ttorney General. * called on him, and he
willingly consented to !resent my a!!lication.
The 4aw Society now s!rang a sur!rise on me by serving me with a notice o!!osing my
a!!lication for admission. ne of their ob,ections was that the original 6nglish
certificate was not attached to my a!!lication. But the main ob,ection was that,
when the regulations regarding admission of advocates were made, the !ossibility of a
coloured man a!!lying could not have been contem!lated. %atal owed its growth to
6uro!ean enter!rise, and therefore it was necessary that the 6uro!ean element
should !redominate in the bar. *f coloured !eo!le were admitted, they might
gradually outnumber the 6uro!eans, and the bulwar# of their !rotection would brea#
down.
The 4aw Society had engaged a distinguished lawyer to su!!ort their o!!osition. 1s he
too was connected with "ada 1bdulla O -o, he sent me word through Sheth 1bdulla to
go and see him. )e tal#ed with me 3uite fran#ly, and in3uired about my antecedents,
which * gave. Then he said'
(* have nothing to say against you. * was only afraid lest you should be some -olonial/
born adventurer. 1nd the fact that your a!!lication was unaccom!anied by the
original certificate su!!orted my sus!icion. There have been men who have made use
of di!lomas which did not belong to them. The certificates of character from
6uro!ean traders you have submitted have no value for me. 5hat do they #now about
you@ 5hat can be the e&tent of their ac3uaintance with you@
(But,( said *, (everyone here is a stranger to me. 6ven Sheth 1bdulla first came to #now
me here.(
(But then you say he belongs to the same !lace as you@ *t your father was Prime
Minister there, Sheth 1bdulla is bound to #now your family. if you were to !roduce his
affidavit, * should have absolutely no ob,ection. * would then gladly communicate to
the 4aw Society my inability to o!!ose your a!!lication.(
This tal# enraged me, but * restrained my feelings. (*f * had attached "ada 1bdulla(s
certificate.( said * to myself, (it would have been re,ected, and they would have as#ed
for 6uro!eans( certificates. 1nd what has my admission as advocate to do with my
birth and my antecedents@ )ow could my birth, whether humble or ob,ectionable, be
used against me@( But * contained myself and 3uietly re!lied' continue from here
(Though * do not admit that the 4aw Society has any authority to re3uire all these
details, * am 3uite !re!ared to !resent the affidavit you desire.(
Sheth 1bdulla(s affidavit was !re!ared and duly submitted to the counsel for the 4aw
Society. )e said he was satisfied. But not so the 4aw Society. it o!!osed my
a!!lication before the Su!reme -ourt, which ruled out the o!!osition without even
calling u!on Mr. 6scombe to re!ly. The -hief ,ustice said in effiect '
(The ob,ection that the a!!licant has not attached the original certificate has no
substance. *f he has made a false affifavit, he can be !rosecuted, and his name can
then be struc# off the roll, if he is !roved guilty. The law ma#es no distinction
between white and coloured !eo!le. The -ourt has therefore no authority to !revent
Mr. Gandhi from being enrolled as an advocate. 5e admit his a!!lication. Mr. Gandhi,
you can now ta#e the oath.(
* stood u! and too# the oath before the +egistar. 1s soon as * was sworn in, the -hief
$ustice, addressing me, said'
(=ou must now ta#e off your turban, Mr. Gandhi. you must submit to the rules of the
-ourt with regard to the dress to be worn by !ractising barristers.(
* saw my limitations. The turban that * had insisted on wearing in the "istrict
Magistrate(s -ourt * too# off in obedience to the order of the Su!reme -ourt. %ot that,
if * had resisted the order, the resistance could not have been ,ustified. But * wanted
to reserve my strength for fighting bigger battles. * should not e&haust my s#ill as a
fighter in insisting on retaining my turban. *t was worthy of a better cause.
Sheth 1bdulla and other friends did not li#e my submission >or was it wea#ness@?. They
felt that * should have stood by my right to wear the turban while !ractising in the
-ourt. * tried to reason with them. * tried to !ress home to them the truth of the
ma&im, (5hen at +ome do as the +omans do.( (*t would be right,( * said, (to refuse to
obey, if in *ndia an 6nglish officer or ,udge ordered you to ta#e off your turbanC but as
an officer of the -ourt, it would have ill become me to disregard a custom of the
-ourt in the !rovince of %atal.(
* !acified the friends somewhat with these and similar arguments, but * do not thin# *
convinced them com!letely, in this instance, of the a!!licability of the !rinci!le of
loo#ing at a thing from a different stand!oint in different circumstances. But all my
life though, the very insistence on truth has taught me to a!!reciate the beauty of
com!romise. * saw in later life that this s!irit was an essential !art of Satyagraha. *t
has often meant endangering my life and incurring the dis!leasure of friends. But
truth is hard as adamant and tender as a blossom.
The o!!osition of the 4aw Society gave me another advertisement in South 1frica.
Most of the news!a!ers condemned the o!!osition and accused the 4aw Society of
,ealousy. The advertisement, to some e&tent, sim!lified my wor#.
NATA INDIAN C!NGRE$$
Practice as a lawyer was and remained for me a subordinate occu!ation. *t was
necessary that * should concentrate on !ublic wor# to ,ustify my stay in %atal. The
des!atch of the !etition regarding the disfranchising bill was not sufficient in itself.
Sustained agitation was essential for ma#ing an im!ression on the Secretary of State
for the -olonies. 0or this !ur!ose it was thought necessary to bring into being a
!ermanent organi2ation. So * consulted Sheth 1bdulla and other friends, and we all
decided to have a !ublic organi2ation of a !ermanent character.
To find out a name to be given to the new organi2ation !er!le&ed me sorely. *t was
not to identify itself with any !articular !arty. The name (-ongress(, * #new, was in bad
odour with the -onservatives in 6ngland, and yet the -ongress was the very life of
*ndia. * wanted to !o!ulari2e it in %atal. *t savoured of cowardice to hesitate to ado!t
the name. Therefore, with full e&!lanation of my reasons, * recommended that the
organi2ation should be called the %atal *ndian -ongress, and on the 88nd May the
%atal *ndian -ongress came into being.
"ada 1bdulla(s s!acious room was !ac#ed to the full on that day. The -ongress
received the enthusiastic a!!roval of all !resent. *ts constitution was sim!le, the
subscri!tion was heavy. nly he who !aid five shillings monthly could be a member.
The well/to/do classes were !ersuaded to subscribe as much as they could. 1bdulla
Sheth also !ut the list with L 8 !er month. Two other friends also !ut down the same.
* thought * should not stint my subscri!tion, and !ut down a !ound !er month. This
was for me beyond my means, if at all * was to !ay my way. 1nd God hel!ed me. 5e
thus got a considerable number of members who subscribed L 9 !er month. The
number of those who !ut down 9As. was even larger. Besides this, there were
donations which were gratefully acce!ted.
6&!erience showed that no one !aid his subscri!tion for the mere as#ing. *t was
im!ossible to call fre3uently on members outside "urban. The enthusiasm of one
moment seemed to wear away the ne&t. 6ven the members in "urban had to be
considerably dunned before they would !ay in their subscri!tions.
The tas# of collecting subscri!tions lay with me. * being the secretary. 1nd we came
to a stage when * had to #ee! my cler# engaged all day long in the wor# of collection.
The man got tired of the ,ob, and * felt that, if the situation was to be im!roved, the
subscri!tions should be made !ayable annually and not monthly, and that too strictly
in advance. So * called a meeting of the -ongress. 6veryone welcomed the !ro!osal
for ma#ing the subscri!tion annual instead of monthly and for fi&ing the minimum at L
D. Thus the wor# of collection was considerably facilitated.
* had learnt at the outset not to carry on !ublic wor# with borrowed money. ne could
rely on !eo!le(s !romises in most matters e&ce!t in res!ect of money. * had never
found !eo!le 3uic# to !ay the amounts they had underta#en to subscribe, and the
%atal *ndians were no e&ce!tion to the rule. 1s, therefore, no wor# was done unless
there were funds on hand, the %atal *ndian -ongress has never been in debt.
My co/wor#ers evinced e&traordinary enthusiasm in canvassing members. *t was wor#
which interested them and was at the same time an invaluable e&!erience. 4arge
numbers of !eo!le gladly came forward with cash subscri!tions. 5or# in the distant
villages of the interior was rather difficult. Peo!le did not #now the nature of !ublic
wor#. 1nd yet we had invitations to visit far away !laces, leading merchants of every
!lace e&tending their hos!itality.
n one occasion during this tour the situation was rather difficult. 5e e&!ected our
host to contribute L ;, but he refused to give anything more than L D. *f we had
acce!ted that amount from him, others would have followed suit, and our collections
would have been s!oiled. *t was a late hour of the night, and we were all hungry. But
how could we dine without having first obtained the amount we were bent on getting@
1ll !ersuasion was useless. The host seemed to be adamant. ther merchants in the
town reasoned with him, and we all sat u! throughout the night, he as well as we
determined not to budge one inch. Most of my co/wor#ers were burning with rage, but
they contained themselves. 1t last, when day was already brea#ing, the host yielded,
!aid down L ; and feasted us. This ha!!ened at Tongaat, but the re!ercussion of the
incident was felt as far as Stanger on the %orth -oast and -harelstown in the interior.
*t also hastened our wor# of collection.
But collecting funds was not the only thing to do. *n fact * had long learnt the
!rinci!le of never having more money at one(s dis!osal than necessary.
Meetings used to be held once a month or even once a wee# if re3uired. Minutes of
the !roceedings of the !receding meeting would be read, and all sorts of 3uestions
would be discussed. Peo!le had no e&!erience of ta#ing !art in !ublic discussion or of
s!ea#ing briefly and to the !oint. 6veryone hesitated to stand u! to s!ea#. * e&!lained
to them. They reali2ed that it was an education for them, and many who had never
been accustomed to s!ea#ing before an audience soon ac3uired the habit of thin#ing
and s!ea#ing !ublicly about matters of !ublic interest.
Knowing that in !ublic wor# minor e&!enses at times absorbed large amounts, * had
decided not to have even the recei!t boo#s !rinted in the beginning. * had a
cyclostyle machine in my office, on which * too# co!ies of recei!t and re!orts. Such
things * began to get !rinted only when the -ongress coffers were full, and when the
number of members and wor# had increased. Such economy is essential for every
organi2ation, and yet * #now that it is not always e&ercised. That is why * have
thought it !ro!er to enter into these little details of the beginnings of a small but
growing organi2ation.
Peo!le never cared to have recei!ts for the amounts they !aid, but we always insisted
on the recei!ts being given. 6very !ie was thus clearly accounted for, and * dare say
the account boo#s for the year 9:<E can be found intact even today in the records of
%atal *ndian -ongress. -arefully #e!t accounts are a sine 0ua nn for any
organi2ation. 5ithout them it falls into disre!ute. 5ithout !ro!erly #e!t accounts it is
im!ossible to maintain truth in its !ristine !urity.
1nother feature of the -ongress was service of -olonial/born educated *ndians. The
-olonial/born *ndian 6ducational 1ssociation was founded under the aus!ices of the
-ongress. The members consisted mostly of these educated youths. They had to !ay a
nominal subscri!tion. The 1ssociation served to ventilate their needs and grievances,
to stimulate thought amongst them, to bring them into touch with *ndian merchants
and also to afford them sco!e for service of the community. *t was a sort of debating
society. The members met regularly and s!o#e or read !a!ers on different sub,ects. 1
small library was also o!ened in connection with the 1ssociation.
The third feature of the -ongress was !ro!aganda. This consisted in ac3uainting the
6nglish in South 1frica and 6ngland and !eo!le in *ndia with the real state of things in
%atal. 5ith that end in view * wrote two !am!hlets. The first was An Appeal t "very
Britn in Suth A$rica. *t contained a statement, su!!orted by evidence, of the
general condition of %atal *ndians. The other was entitled #he /ndian 3ranchise An
Appeal. *t contained a brief history of the *ndian franchise in %atal with facts and
figures. * had devoted considerable labour and study to the !re!aration of these
!am!hlets, and the result was widely circulated.
1ll this activity resulted in winning the *ndians numerous friends in South 1frica and in
obtaining the active sym!athy of all !arties in *ndia. *t also o!ened out and !laced
before the South 1frican *ndians a definite line of action.
BAA$#NDARAM
The heart(s earnest and !ure desire is always fulfilled. *n my own e&!erience * have
often seen this rule verified. Service of the !oor has been my heart(s desire, and it has
always thrown me amongst the !oor and enabled me to identify myself with them.
1lthough the members of the %atal *ndian -ongress included the -olonial/born *ndians
and the -lerical class, the uns#illed wage/ earners, the indentured labourers were
still outside its !ale. The -ongress was not yet theirs. They could not afford to belong
to it by !aying the subscri!tion and becoming its members. The -ongress could win
their attachment only by serving them. 1n o!!ortunity offered itself when neither the
-ongress nor * was really ready for it. * had !ut in scarcely three or four months(
!ractice, and the -ongress also was still in its infancy, when a Tamil man in tattered
clothes, head/gear in hand, two front teeth bro#en and his mouth bleeding, stood
before me trembling and wee!ing. )e had been heavily belaboured by his master. *
learnt all about him from my cler#, who was a Tamilian. Balasundaram / as that was
the visitor(s name / was serving his indenture under a well/#nown 6uro!ean resident of
"urban. The master, getting angry with him, had lost self/control, and had beaten
Balasundaram severely, brea#ing two of his teeth.
* sent him to a doctor. *n those days only white doctors were available. * wanted a
certificate from the doctor about the nature of the in,ury Balasundaram had
sustained. * secured the certificate, and straightway too# the in,ured man to the
magistrate, to whom * submitted his affidavit. The magistrate was indignant when he
read it, and issued a summons against the em!loyer.
*t was far from my desire to get the em!loyer !unished. * sim!ly wanted
Balasundaram to be released from him. * read the law about indentured labour. *f an
ordinary servant left service without giving notice, he was liable to be sued by his
master in a civil court. 5ith the indentured labourer the case was entirely different.
)e was liable, in similar circumstances, to be !roceeded against in a criminal court
and to be im!risoned on conviction. That is why Sir 5illiam )unter called the
indenture system almost as bad as slavery. 4i#e the slave the indentured labourer was
the !ro!erty of his master.
There were only two ways of releasing Balasundaram' either by getting the Protector
of *ndentured 4abourers to cancel his indenture or transfer him to someone else, or
by getting Balasundaram(s em!loyer to release him. * called on the latter and said to
him' (* do not want to !roceed against you and get you !unished. * thin# you reali2e
that you have severely beaten the man. * shall be satisfied if you will transfer the
indenture to someone else.( To this he readily agreed. * ne&t saw the Protector. )e
also agreed, on condition that * found a new em!loyer.
So * went off in search of an em!loyer. )e had to be a 6uro!ean, as no *ndians could
em!loy indentured labour. 1t that time * #new very few 6uro!eans. * met one of
them. )e very #indly agreed to ta#e on Balasundaram. * gratefully ac#nowledged his
#indness. The magistrate convicted Balasundaram(s em!loyer, and recorded that he
had underta#en to transfer the indenture to someone else.
Balasundaram(s case reached the ears of every indentured labourer, and * came to be
regarded as their friend. * hailed this connection with delight. 1 regular stream of
indentured labourers began to !our into my office, and * got the best o!!ortunity of
learning their ,oys and sorrows.
The echoes of Balasundaram(s case were heard in far off Madras. 4abourers from
different !arts of the !rovince, who went to %atal on indenture, came to #now of this
case through their indentured brethren.
There was nothing e&traordinary in the case itself, but the fact that there was
someone in %atal to es!ouse their cause and !ublicly wor# for them gave the
indentured labourers a ,oyful sur!rise and ins!ired them with ho!e.
* have said that Balasundaram entered my office, head/gear in hand. There was a
!eculiar !athos about the circumstance which also showed our humiliation. * have
already narrated the incident when * was as#ed to ta#e off my turban. 1 !ractice had
been forced u!on every indentured labourer and every *ndian stranger to ta#e off his
head/ gear when visiting a 6uro!ean, whether the head/gear were a ca!, a turban or
a scarf wra!!ed round the head. 1 salute even with both hands was not sufficient.
Balasundaram thought that he should follow the !ractice even with me. This was the
first case in my e&!erience. * felt humiliated and as#ed him to tie u! his scarf. )e did
so, not without a certain hesitation, but * could !erceive the !leasure on his face.
*t has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the
humiliation of their fellow beings.
THE / 0 TA)
Balasundaram(s case brought me into touch with the indentured *ndians. 5hat
im!elled me, however, to ma#e a dee! study of their condition was the cam!aign for
bringing them under s!ecial heavy ta&ation.
*n the same year, 9:<E, the %atal Government sought to im!ose an annual ta& of L 8G
on the indentured *ndians. The !ro!osal astonished me. * !ut the matter before the
-ongress for discussion, and it was immediately resolved to organi2e the necessary
o!!osition.
1t the outset * must e&!lain briefly the genesis of the ta&.
1bout the year 9:;A the 6uro!eans in %atal, finding that there was considerable
sco!e for sugarcane cultivation, felt themselves in need of labour. 5ithout outside
labour the cultivation of cane and the manufacture of sugar were im!ossible, as the
%atal Nulus were not suited to this form of wor#. The %atal Government therefore
corres!onded with the *ndian Government, and secured their !ermission to recruit
*ndian labour. These recruits were to sign an indenture to wor# in %atal for five years,
and at the end of the term they were to be at liberty to settle there and to have full
rights of ownershi! of land. Those were the inducements held out to them, for the
whites then had loo#ed forward to im!roving their agriculture by the industry of the
*ndian labourers after the term of their indentures had e&!ired.
But the *ndians gave more than had been e&!ected of them. They grew large
3uantities of vegetables. They introduced a number of *ndian varieties and made it
!ossible to grow the local varieties chea!er. They also introduced the mango. %or did
their enter!rise sto! at agriculture. They entered trade. They !urchased land for
building, and many raised themselves from the status of labourers to that of owners
of land and houses. Merchants from *ndia followed them and settled there for trade.
The late Sheth 1buba#ar 1mod was first among them. )e soon built u! an e&tensive
business.
The white traders were alarmed. 5hen they first welcomed the *ndian labourers, they
had not rec#oned with their business s#ill. They might be tolerated as inde!endent
agriculturists, but their com!etition in trade could not be broo#ed.
This sowed the seed of the antagonism to *ndians. Many other factors contributed to
its growth. ur different ways of living, our sim!licity, our contentment with small
gains, our indifference to the laws of hygiene and sanitation, our slowness in #ee!ing
our surroundings clean and tidy, and our stinginess in #ee!ing our houses in good
re!air all these, combined with the difference in religion, contributed to fan the
flame of antagonism. Through legislation this antagonism found its e&!ression in the
disfranchising bill and the bill to im!ose a ta& on the indentured *ndians. *nde!endent
of legislation a number of !in!ric#s had already been started.
The first suggestion was that the *ndian labourers should be forcibly re!atriated, so
that the term of their indentures might e&!ire in *ndia. The Government of *ndia was
not li#ely to acce!t the suggestion. 1nother !ro!osal was therefore made to the
effect that
9. The indentured labourer should return to *ndia on the e&!iry of his indentureC or
that
8. he should sign a fresh indenture every two years, an increment being given at each
renewalC and that
D. in the case of his refusal to return to *ndia or renew the indenture he should !ay an
annual ta& of L 8G.
1 de!utation com!osed of Sir )enry Binns and Mr. Mason was sent to *ndia to get the
!ro!osal a!!roved by the Government there. The .iceroy at that time was 4ord 6lgin.
)e disa!!roved of the L 8G ta&, but agreed to a !oll ta& of L D. * thought then, as * do
even now, that this was a serious blunder on the !art of the .iceroy. *n giving his
a!!roval he had in no way thought of the interests of *ndia. *t was no !art of his duty
thus to accommodate the %atal 6uro!eans. *n the course of three or four years an
indentured labourer with his wife and each male child over 9; and female child over
9D came under the im!ost. To levy a yearly ta& of L 98 from a family of four husband,
wife and two children when the average income of the husband was never more than
9Es. a month, was atrocious and un#nown anywhere else in the world.
5e organi2ed a fierce cam!aign against this ta&. *f the %atal *ndian -ongress had
remained silent on the sub,ect, the .iceroy might have a!!roved of even the L 8G ta&.
The reduction from L 8G to L D was !robably due solely to the -ongress agitation. But
* may be mista#en in thin#ing so. *t may be !ossible that the *ndian Government had
disa!!roved of the L 8G ta& from the beginning and reduced it to LD, irres!ective of
the o!!osition from the -ongress. *n any case it was a breach of trust on the !art of
the *ndian Government. 1s trustee of the welfare of *ndia, the .iceroy ought never to
have a!!roved of this inhuman ta&.
The -ongress could not regard it as any great achievement to have succeeded in
getting the ta& reduced from L 8G to LD. The regret was still there that it had not
com!letely safeguarded the interests of the indentured *ndians. *t ever remained its
determination to get the ta& remitted, but it was twenty years determination to get
the ta& remitted, but it was twenty years before the determination was reali2ed. 1nd
when it was reali2ed, it came as a result of the labours of not only the %atal *ndians
but of all the *ndians in South 1frica. The breach of faith with the late Mr. Go#hale
became the occasion of the final cam!aign, in which the indentured *ndians too# their
full share, some of them losing their lives as a result of the firing that was resorted
to, and over ten thousand suffering im!risonment.
But truth trium!hed in the end. The sufferings of the *ndians were the e&!ression of
that truth. =et it would not have trium!hed e&ce!t for unflinching faith, great
!atience and incessant effort. )ad the community given u! the struggle, had the
-ongress abandoned the cam!aign and submitted to the ta& as inevitable, the hated
im!ost would have continued to be levied from the indentured *ndians until this day,
to the eternal shame of the *ndians in South 1frica and of the whole of *ndia.
C!MPARATI(E $T#D" !% REIGI!N$
*f * found myself entirely absorbed in the service of the community, the reason behind
it was my desire for self/reali2ation. * had made the religion of service my own, as *
felt that God could be reali2ed only through service. 1nd service for me was the
service of *ndia, because it came to me without my see#ing, because * had an
a!titude for it. * had gone to South 1frica for travel, for finding an esca!e from
Kathiawas intrigues and for gaining my own livelihood. But as * have said, * found
myself in search of God and striving for self/ reali2ation.
-hristian friends had whetted my a!!etite for #nowledge, which had become almost
insatiable, and they would not leave me in !eace, even if * desired to be indifferent.
*n "urban Mr. S!encer 5alton, the head of the South 1frica General Mission, found me
out. * became almost a member of his family. 1t the bac# of this ac3uaintance was of
course my contact with -hristians in Pretoria. Mr. 5alton had a manner all his own. *
do not recollect his ever having invited me to embrace -hristianity. But he !laced his
life as an o!en boo# before me, and let me watch all his movements. Mrs. 5alton was
a very gentle and talented woman. * li#ed the attitude of this cou!le. 5e #new the
fundamental differences between us. 1ny amount of discussion could not efface
them. =et even differences !rove hel!ful, where there are tolerance, charity and
truth. * li#ed Mr. and Mrs. 5alton(s humility, !erseverance and devotion to wor#, and
we met very fre3uently.
This friendshi! #e!t alive my interest in religion. *t was im!ossible now to get the
leisure that * used to have in Pretoria for my religious studies. But what little time *
could s!are * turned to good account. My religious corres!ondence continued.
+aychandbhai was guiding me. Some friend sent me %armadashan#er(s boo# Dharma
*ichar. *ts !reface !roved very hel!ful. * had heard about the Bohemian way in which
the !oet had lived, and a descri!tion in the !reface of the revolution effected in his
life by his religious studies ca!tivated me. * came to li#e the boo#, and read it from
cover to cover with attention. * read with interest Ma& Muller(s boo#, /ndia +hat Can
/t #each %s4 and the translation of the %panishads !ublished by the Theoso!hical
Society. 1ll this enhanced my regard for )induism, and its beauties began other
religions. * read 5ashington *rving(s -i$e $ Mahmet and His Successrs and -arlyle(s
!anegyric on the !ro!het. These boo#s raised Muhammad in my estimation. * also read
a boo# called #he Sayin!s $ 5arathustra.
Thus * gained more #nowledge of the different religions. The study stimulated my
self/intros!ection and fostered in me the habit of !utting into !ractice whatever
a!!ealed to me in my studies. Thus * began some of the =ogic !ractices, as well as *
could understand them from a reading of the )indu boo#s. But * could not get on very
far, and decided to follow them with the hel! of some e&!ert when * returned to
*ndia. The desire has never been fulfilled.
* made too an intensive study of Tolstoy(s boo#s. #he (spels in Brie$' +hat t D4
and other boo#s made a dee! im!ression on me. * began to reali2e more and more the
infinite !ossibilities of universal love.
1bout the same time * came in contact with another -hristian family. 1t their
suggestion * attended the 5esleyan church every Sunday. 0or these days * also had
their standing invitation to dinner. The church did not ma#e a favourable im!ression
on me. The sermons seemed to be unins!iring. The congregation did not stri#e me as
being !articularly religious. They were not an assembly of devout soulsC they
a!!eared rather to be worldly/minded !eo!le, going to church for recreation and in
conformity to custom. )ere, at times, * would involuntarily do2e. * was ashamed, but
some of my neighbours, who were in no better case, lightened the shame. * could not
go on long li#e this, and soon gave u! attending the service.
My connection with the family * used to visit every Sunday was abru!tly bro#en. *n
fact it may be said that * was warned to visit it no more. *t ha!!ened thus. My hostess
was a good and sim!le woman, but somewhat narrow/minded. 5e always discussed
religious sub,ects. * was then re/reading 1rnold(s -i!ht $ Asia. nce we began to
com!are the life of $esus with that of Buddha. (4oo# at Gautama(s com!assionB( said *.
(*t was not confined to man#ind, it was e&tended to all living beings. "oes not one(s
heart overflow with love to thin# of the lamb ,oyously !erched on his shoulders@ ne
fails to notice this love for all living beings in the life of $esus.( The com!arison
!ained the good lady. * could understand her feelings. * cut the matter short, and we
went to the dining room. )er son, a cherub aged scarcely five, was also with us. * am
ha!!iest when in the midst of children, and this youngster and * had long been
friends. * s!o#e derisively of the !iece of meat on his !late and in high !raise of the
a!!le on mine. The innocent boy was carried away and ,oined in my !raise of the
fruit.
But the mother@ she was dismayed.
* was warned. * chec#ed myself and changed the sub,ect. The following wee# * visited
the family as usual, but not without tre!idation. * did not see that * should sto! going
there, * did not thin# it !ro!er either. But the good lady made my way easy.
(Mr. Gandhi,( she said, (!lease don(t ta#e it ill if * feel obliged to tell you that my boy is
none the better for your com!any. 6very day he hesitates to eat meat and as#s for
fruit, reminding me of your argument. This is too much. *f he gives u! meat, he is
bound to get wea#, if not ill. )ow could * bear it@ =our discussion should henceforth be
only with us elders. They are sure to react badly on children.(
(Mrs///,( * re!lied, (* am sorry. * can understand your feelings as a !arent, for * too have
children. 5e can very easily end this un!leasant state of things. 5hat * eat and omit
to eat is bound to have a greater effect on the child than what * say. The best way,
therefore, is for me to sto! these visits. That certainly need not affect our friendshi!.(
(* than# you,( she said with evident relief.
A$ A H!#$EH!DER
To set u! a household was no new e&!erience for me. But the establishment in %atal
was different from the ones that * had had in Bombay and 4ondon. This time !art of
the e&!ense was solely for the sa#e of !restige. * thought it necessary to have a
household in #ee!ing with my !osition as an *ndian barrister in %atal and as a
re!resentative. So * had a nice little house in a !rominent locality. *t was also suitably
furnished. 0ood was sim!le, but as * used to invite 6nglish friends and *ndian co/
wor#ers, the house#ee!ing bills were always fairly high.
1 good servant is essential in every household. But * have a never #nown how to #ee!
anyone as a servant.
* had a friend as com!anion and hel!, and a coo# who had become a member of the
family. * also had office cler#s boarding and lodging with me.
* thin# * had a fair amount of success in this e&!eriment, but it was not without its
modicum of the bitter e&!eriences of life.
The com!anion was very clever and, * thought, faithful to me. But in this * was
deceived. )e became ,ealous of an office cler# who was staying with me, and wove
such a tangled web that * sus!ected the cler#. This clerical friend had a tem!er of his
own. *mmediately he saw that he had been the ob,ect of my sus!icion, he left both
the house and the office. * was !ained. * felt that !erha!s * had been un,ust to him,
and my conscience always stung me.
*n the meanwhile, the coo# needed a few days leave, or for some other cause was
away. *t was necessary to !rocure another during his absence. f this new man *
learnt later that he was a !erfect scam!. But for me he !roved a godsend. 5ithin two
or three days of his arrival, he discovered certain irregularities that were going on
under my roof without my #nowledge, and he made u! his mind to warn me. * had the
re!utation of being a credulous but straight man. The discovery was to him,
therefore, all the more shoc#ing. 6very day at one o(cloc# * used to go home from
office for lunch. 1t about twelve o(cloc# one day the coo# came !anting to the office,
and said, (Please come home at once. There is a sur!rise for you.(
(%ow, what is this@( * as#ed. (=ou must tell me what it is. )ow can * leave the office at
this hour to go and see it@(
(=ou will regret it, if you don(t come. That is all * can say.(
* felt an a!!eal in his !ersistence. * went home accom!anied by a cler# and the coo#
who wal#ed ahead of us. )e too# me straight to the u!!er floor, !ointed at my
com!anion(s room, and said, (!en this door and see for yourself.(
* saw it all. * #noc#ed at the door. %o re!lyB * #noc#ed heavily so as to ma#e the very
walls sha#e. The door was o!ened. * saw a !rostitute inside. * as#ed her to leave the
house, never to return.
To the com!anion * said, (0rom this moment * cease to have anything to do with you. *
have been thoroughly deceived and have made a fool of myself. That is how you have
re3uited my trust in you@(
*nstead of coming to his senses, he threatened to e&!ose me.
(* have nothing to conceal,( said *, (6&!ose whatever * may have done. But you must
leave me this moment.(
This made him worse. There was no hel! for it. So * said to the cler# standing
downstairs' (Please go and inform the Police Su!erintendent, with my com!liments,
that a !erson living with me has misbehaved himself. * do not want to #ee! him in my
house, but he refuses to leave. * shall be much obliged if !olice hel! can be sent me.(
This showed him that * was in earnest. )is guilt unnerved him. )e a!ologi2ed to me,
entreated me not to inform the !olice, and agreed to leave the house immediately,
which he did.
The incident came as a timely warning in my life. nly now could * see clearly how
thoroughly * had been beguiled by this evil genius. *n harbouring him * had chosen a
bad means for a good end. * had e&!ected to (gather figs of thistles( * had #nown that
the com!anion was a bad character, and yet * believed in his faithfulness to me. *n the
attem!t to reform him * was near ruining myself. * had disregarded the warning of
#ind friends. *nfatuation had com!letely blinded me.
But for the new coo# * should never have discovered the truth and being under the
influence of the com!anion, * should !robably have been unable to lead the life of
detachment that * then began. * should always have been wasting time on him. )e had
the !ower to #ee! me in the dar# and to mislead me.
But God came to the rescue as before. My intentions were !ure, and so * was saved in
s!ite of my mista#es, and this early e&!erience thoroughly forewarned me for the
future.
The coo# had been almost a messenger sent from )eaven. )e did not #now coo#ing,
and as a coo# he could not have remained at my !lace. But no one else could have
o!ened my eyes. This was not the first time, as * subse3uently learnt, that the woman
had been brought into my house. She had come often before, but no one had the
courage of this coo#. 0or everyone #new how blindly * trusted the com!anion. The
coo# had, as it were, been sent to me ,ust to do this service, for he begged leave of
me that very moment.
(* cannot stay in your house,( he said. (=ou are so easily misled. This is no !lace for me.(
* let him go.
* now discovered that the man who had !oisoned my ears against the cler# was no
other than this com!anion, * tried very hard to ma#e amends to the cler# for the
in,ustice * had done him. *t has, however, been my eternal regret that * could never
satisfy him fully. )owsoever you may re!air it, a rift is a rift.
H!ME,ARD
By now * had been three years in South 1frica. * had got to #now the !eo!le and they
had got to #now me. *n 9:<; * as#ed !ermission to go home for si& months, for * saw
that * was in for a long stay there. * had established a fairly good !ractice, and could
see that !eo!le felt the need of my !resence. So * made u! my mind to go home,
fetch my wife and children, and then return and settle out there. * also saw that, if *
went home, * might be able to do there some !ublic wor# by educating !ublic o!inion
and creating more interest in the *ndians of South 1frica. The L D ta& was an o!en
sore. There could be no !eace until it was abolished.
But who was to ta#e charge of the -ongress wor# and 6ducation Society in my
absence@ * could thin# of two men 1dam,i Miya#han and Parsi +ustom,i. There were
many wor#ers now available from the commercial class. But the foremost among
those who could fulfil the duties of the secretary by regular wor#, and who also
commanded the regard of the *ndian community, were these two. The secretary
certainly needed a wor#ing #nowledge of 6nglish. * recommended the late 1dam,i
Miya#han(s name to the -ongress, and it a!!roved of his a!!ointment as secretary.
6&!erience showed that the choice was a very ha!!y one. 1dam,i Miya#han satisfied
all with his !erseverance, liberality, amiability and courtesy, and !roved to every one
that the secretary(s wor# did not re3uire a man with a barrister(s degree or high
6nglish education.
1bout the middle of 9:<; * sailed for home in the s6 s6 Pn!la which was bound for
-alcutta.
There were very few !assengers on board. 1mong them were two 6nglish oficers, with
whom * came in close contact. 5ith one of them * used to !lay chess for an hour daily.
The shi!(s doctor gave me a #amil Sel$. #eacher which * began to study. My e&!erience
in %atal had shown me that * should ac3uire a #nowledge of Urdu to get into closer
contact with the Musalmans, and of Tamil to get into closer touch with the Madras
*ndians.
1t the re3uest of the 6nglish friend, who read Urdu with me, * found out a good Urdu
Munshi from amongst he dec# !assengers, and we made e&cellent !rogress in our
studies. The officer had a better memory than *. )e would never forget a word after
once he had seen itC * often found it difficult to deci!her Urdu letters. * brought more
!erseverance to bea, but could never overta#e the officer.
5ith Tamil * made fair !rogress. There was no hel! available, but the #amil Sel$.
#eacher was well/written boo#, and * did not feel in need of much outside hel!.
* had ho!ed to continue these studies even after reaching *ndia, but it was im!ossible.
Most of my reading since 9:<D has been done in ,ail. * did ma#e some !rogress in Tamil
and Urdu, in ,ails / Tamil in South 1frican ,ails, and Urdu in =eravda ,ail. But * never
learnt to s!ea# Tamil, and the little * could do by way of reading is now rusting away
for want of !ractice.
* still feel what a handica! this ignorance of Tamil or Telugu has been. The affection
that the "ravidians in South 1frica showered on me has remained a cherished memory.
5henever * see a Tamil or Telugu friend, * cannot but recall the faith, !erseverance
and selfless sacrifice of many of his com!atriots in South 1frica. 1nd they were mostly
illiterate, the men no less than the women. The fight in South 1frica was for such,
and it was fought by illiterate soldiersC it was for the !oor, and the !oor too# their full
share in it. *gnorance of their language, however, was never a handica! to me in
stealing the hearts of these sim!le and good countrymen. They s!o#e bro#en
)industani or bro#en 6nglish, and we found no difficulty in getting on with our wor#.
But * wanted to re3uite their affection by learning Tamil and Telugu. *n Tamil as * have
said, * made some little !rogress, but in Telugu, which * tried to learn in *ndia, * did
not get beyond the al!habet. * fear now * can never learn these languages, and am
therefore ho!ing that the "ravidians will learn )industani. The non/english/s!ea#ing
among them in South 1frica do s!ea# )indi or )industani, however indifferently. *t is
only the 6nglish/s!ea#ing ones who will not learn it, as though a #nowledge of 6nglish
were an obstacle to learning our own languages.
But * have digressed. 4et me finish the narrative of my voyage. * have to introduce to
my readers the -a!tain of the s6s6 Pn!la. 5e had become friends. The good
-a!tain was a Plymouth Brother. ur tal#s were more about s!iritual sub,ects than
nautical. )e drew a line between morality and faith. The teaching of the Bible was to
him child(s !lay. *ts beauty lay in its sim!licity. 4et all, men, women and children, he
would say, have faith in $esus and his sacrifice, and their sins were sure to be
redeemed. This friend revived my memory of the Plymouth Brother of Pretoria. The
religion that im!osed any moral restrictions was of the whole of this discussion. 5hy
should * not eat meat, or for that matter beef@ )ad not god created all the lower
animals for the en,oyment of man#ind as, for instance, he had created the vegetable
#ingdom@ These 3uestions inevitably drew us into religious discussion.
5e could not convince each other. * was confirmed in my o!inion that religion and
morality were synonymous. The -a!tain had no doubt about the correctness of his
o!!osite conviction.
1t the end of twenty/four days the !leasant voyage came to a close, and admiring the
beauty of the )ooghly, * landed at -alcutta. The same day * too# the train for Bombay.
IN INDIA
n my way to Bombay the train sto!!ed at 1llahabad for forty/five minutes. * decided
to utili2e the interval for a drive through the town. * also had to !urchase some
medicine at a chemist(s sho!. The chemist was half aslee!, and too# an
unconscionable time in dis!ensing the medicine, with the result that when * reached
the station, the train had ,ust started. The Station Master had #indly detained the
train one minute for my sa#e, but not seeing me coming, had carefully ordered my
luggage to be ta#en out of the train.
* too# a room at Kellner(s, and decided to start wor# there and then. * had heard a
good deal about #he Pineer !ublished from 1llahabad, and * had understood it to be
an o!!onent of *ndian as!irations. * have an im!ression that Mr. -hesney $r. was the
editor at that time. * wanted to secure the hel! of every !arty, so * wrote a note to
Mr. -hesney, telling him how * had missed the train, and as#ing for an a!!ointment so
as to enable me to leave the ne&t day. )e immediately gave me one, at which * was
very ha!!y es!ecially when * found that he gave me a !atient hearing. )e !romised to
notice in his !a!er anything that * might write, but added that he could not !romise
to endorse all the *ndian demands, inasmuch as he was bound to understand and give
due weight to the view!oint of the -olonials as well.
(*t is enough,( * said, (that you should study the 3uestion and discuss it in your !a!er. *
as# and desire nothing but the barest ,ustice that is due to us.(
The rest of the day was s!ent in having a loo# round admiring the magnificent
confluence of the three rivers, the #riveni, and !lanning the wor# before me.
This une&!ected interview with the editor of #he Pineer laid the foundation of the
series of incidents which ultimately led to my being lynched in %atal.
* went straight to +a,#ot without halting at Bombay and began to ma#e !re!arations
for writing a !am!hlet on the situation in South 1frica. The writing and !ublication of
the !am!hlet too# about a month. *t had a green cover and came to be #nown
afterwards as the Green Pam!hlet. *n it * drew a !ur!osely subdued !icture of the
condition of *ndians in South 1frica. The language * used was more moderate than that
of the two !am!hlets which * have referred to before, as * #new that things heard of
from a distance a!!ear bigger than they are.
Ten thousand co!ies were !rinted and sent to all the !a!ers and leaders of every
!arty in *ndia. #he Pineer was the first to notice it editorially. 1 summary of the
article was cabled by +euter to 6ngland, and a summary of that summary was cabled
to %atal by +euter(s 4ondon office. This cable was not longer than three lines in !rint.
*t was a miniature, but e&aggerated, edition of the !icture * had drawn of the
treatment accorded to the *ndians in %atal, and it was not in my words. 5e shall see
later on the effect this had in %atal. *n the meanwhile every !a!er of note
commented at length on the 3uestion.
To get these !am!hlets ready for !osting was no small matter. *t would have been
e&!ensive too, if * had em!loyed !aid hel! for !re!aring wra!!ers etc. But * hit u!on
a much sim!ler !lan. * gathered together all the children in my locality and as#ed
them to volunteer two or three hours( labour of a morning, when they had no school.
This they willingly agreed to do. * !romised to bless them and give them, as a reward,
used !ostage stam!s which * had collected. They got through the wor# in no time.
That was my first e&!eriment of having little children as volunteers. Two of those
little friends are my co/wor#ers today.
Plague bro#e out in Bombay about this time, and there was !anic all around. There
was fear of an outbrea# in +a,#ot. 1s * felt that * could be of some hel! in the
sanitation de!artment, * offered my services to the State. They were acce!ted, and *
was !ut on the committee which was a!!ointed to loo# into the 3uestion. * laid
es!ecial em!hasis on the cleanliness of latrines, and the committee decided to
ins!ect these in every street. The !oor !eo!le had no ob,ection to their latrines being
ins!ected, and what is more, they carried out the im!rovements suggested to them.
But when we went to ins!ect the houses of the u!!er ten, some of them even refused
us admission, not to tal# of listening to our suggestions. *t was our common
e&!erience that the latrines of the rich were more unclean. They were dar# and
stin#ing and ree#ing with filth and worms. The im!rovements we suggested were
3uite sim!le, e.g., to have buc#ets for e&crement instead of allowing it to dro! on the
groundC to see that urine also was collected in buc#ets, instead of allowing it to soa#
into the ground, and to demolish the !artitions between the outer walls and the
enable the scavenger to clean them !ro!erly. The u!!er classes raised numerous
ob,ections to this last im!rovement, and in most cases it was not carried out.
The committee had to ins!ect untouchables( 3uarters also. nly one member of the
committee was ready to accom!any me there. To the rest it was something
!re!osterous to visit those 3uarters, still more so to ins!ect their latrines. But for me
those 3uarters were an agreeable sur!rise. That was the first visit in my life to such a
locality. The men and women there were sur!rised to see us. * as#ed them to let us
ins!ect their latrines.
(4atrines for usB( they e&claimed in astonishment. (5e go and !erform our functions
out in the o!en. 4atrines are for you big !eo!le.(
(5ell, then, you won(t mind if we ins!ect your houses@( * as#ed.
(=ou are !erfectly welcome, sir. =ou may see every noo# and corner of our houses.
urs are no houses, they are holes.(
* went in and was delighted to see that the insides were as clean as the outsides. The
entrances were well swe!t, the floors were beautifully smeared with cow/dung, and
the few !ots and !ans were clean and shining. There was no fear of an outbrea# in
those 3uarters.
*n the u!!er class 3uarters we came across a latrine which * cannot hel! describing in
some detail. 6very room had its gutter, which was used both for water and urine,
which meant that the whole house would stin#. But one of the houses had a storeyed
bedroom with a gutter which was being used both as a urinal and a latrine. The gutter
had a !i!e discending to the ground floor. *t was not !ossible to stand the foul smell
in this room. )ow the occu!ants could slee! there * leave the readers to imagine.
The committee also visited the .aishnava Haveli. The !riest in charge of the Haveli
was very friendly with my family. So he agreed to let us ins!ect everything and
suggest whatever im!rovements we li#ed. There was a !art of the Haveli !remises
that he himself had never seen. *t was the !lace where refuse and leaves used as
dinner/ !lates used to be thrown over the wall. *t was the haunt of crows and #ites.
The latrines were of course dirty. * was not long enough in +a,#ot to see how many of
our suggestions the !riest carried out.
*t !ained me to see so much uncleanliness about a !lace of worshi!. ne would
e&!ect a careful observance of the rules of sanitation and hygiene in a !lace which is
regarded as holy. The authors of the Smritis, as * #new even then, have laid the
greatest em!hasis on cleanliness both inward and outward
T,! PA$$I!N$
)ardly ever have * #nown anybody to cherish such loyalty as * did to the British
-onstitution. * can see now that my love of truth was at the root of this loyalty. *t has
never been !ossible for me to simulate loyalty or, for that matter, any other virtue.
The national 1nthem used to be sung at every meeting that * attended in %atal. * was
unaware of the defects in British rule, but * thought that it was on the whole
acce!table. *n those days * believed that British rule was on the whole beneficial to
the ruled.
The colour !re,udice that * saw in South 1frica was, * thought, 3uite contrary to
British traditions, and * believed that it was only tem!orary and local. * therefore vied
with 6nglishmen in loyalty to the throne. 5ith careful !erseverance * learnt the tune
of the (national anthem( and ,oined in the singing whenever it was sung. 5henever
there was an occasion for the e&!ression of loyalty without fuss or ostentation, *
readily too# !art in it.
%ever in my life did * e&!loit this loyalty, never did * see# to gain a selfish end by its
means. *t was for me more in the nature of an obligation, and * rendered it without
e&!ecting a reward.
Pre!arations were going on for the celebration of Hueen .ictoria(s "iamond $ubilee
when * reached *ndia. * was invited to ,oin the committee a!!ointed for the !ur!ose
in +a,#ot. * acce!ted the offer, but had a sus!icion that the celebrations would be
largely a matter of show. * discovered much humbug about them and was considerably
!ained. * began to as# myself whether * should remain on the committee or not, but
ultimately decided to rest content with doing my !art of the business.
ne of the !ro!osals was to !lant trees. * saw that many did it merely for show and
for !leasing the officials. * tried to !lead with them that tree/!lanting was not
com!ulsory, but merely a suggestion. *t should be done seriously or not at all. * have
an im!ression that they laughed at my ideas. * remember that * was in earnest when *
!lanted the tree allotted to me and that * carefully watered and tended it.
* li#ewise taught the %ational 1nthem to the children of my family. * recollect having
taught it to students of the local Training -ollege, but * forget whether it was on the
occasion of the ,ubilee or of King 6dward .**(s coronation as 6m!eror of *ndia. 4ater
on the te&t began to ,ar on me. 1s my conce!tion of ahimsa went on maturing, *
became more vigilant about my thought and s!eech. The lines in the 1nthem' (Scatter
her enemies, 1nd ma#e them fallC -onfound their !olitics, 0rustrate their #navish
tric#s.( !articularly ,arred u!on my sentiment of ahimsa. * shared my feelings with "r.
Booth who agreed that it ill became a believer in ahimsa to sing those lines. )ow
could we assume that the so/called (enemies( were (#navish(@ 1nd because they were
enemies, were they bound to be in the wrong@ 0rom God we could only as# for
,ustice. "r. Booth entirely endorsed my sentiments, and com!osed a new anthem for
his congregation. But of "r. Booth more later.
4i#e loyalty an a!titude for nursing was also dee!ly rooted in my nature. * was fond of
nursing !eo!le, whether friends or strangers.
5hilst busy in +a,#ot with the !am!hlet on South 1frica, * had an occasion to !ay a
flying visit to Bombay. *t was my intention to educate !ublic o!inion in cities on this
3uestion by organi2ing meetings, and Bombay was the first city * chose. 0irst of all *
met ,ustice +anade, who listened to me with attention, and advised me to meet Sir
Phero2eshah Mehta. $ustice Badruddin Tyab,i, whom * met ne&t, also gave the same
advice. ($ustice +anade and * can guide you but little,( he said. (=ou #now our !osition.
5e cannot ta#e an active !art in !ublic affairs, but our sym!athies are with you. The
man who can effectively guide you is Sir Phero2eshah Mehta.(
* certainly wanted to see Sir Phero2eshah Mehta, but the fact that these senior men
advised me to act according to his advice gave me a better idea of the immense
influence that Sir Phero2eshah had on the !ublic. *n due course * met him. * was
!re!ared to be awed by his !resence. * had heard of the !o!ular titles that he had
earned, and #new that * was to see the (4ion of Bombay(, the (Uncrowned King of the
Presidency.( But the #ing did not over!ower me. )e met me, as a loving father would
meet his grown u! son. ur meeting too# !lace at his chamber. )e was surrounded by
a circle of friends and followers. 1mongst them were Mr. ". 6. 5acha and Mr. -ama,
to whom * was introduced. * had already heard of Mr. 5acha. )e was regarded as the
right/hand man of Sir Phero2eshah, and S,t. .irchand Gandhi had described him to me
as a great statistician. Mr. 5acha said, (Gandhi, we must meet again.(
These introductions could scarcely have ta#en two minutes. Sir Phero2eshah carefully
listened to me. * told him that * had seen $ustices +anade and Tyab,i. (Gandhi,( said
he, (* see that * must hel! you. * must call a !ublic meeting here.( 5ith this he turned
to Mr. Munshi, the secretary, and told him to fi& u! the date of the meeting. The date
was settled, and he bade me good/bye, as#ing me to see him again on the way
!revious to the meeting. The interview removed my fears, and * went home
delighted.
"uring this stay in Bombay * called on my brother/in/law, who was staying there and
lying ill. )e was not a man of means, and my sister>his wife? was not e3ual to nursing
him. The illness was serious, and * offered to ta#e him to +a,#ot. )e agreed, and so *
returned home with my sister and her husband. The illness was much more !rolonged
than * had e&!ected. * !ut my brother/in/law in my room and remained with him night
and day. * was obliged to #ee! awa#e !art of the night and had to get through some of
my South 1frican wor# whilst * was nursing him. Ultimately, however, the !atient died,
but it was a great consolation to me that * had had an o!!ortunity to nurse him during
his last days.
My a!titude for nursing gradually develo!ed into a !assion, so much so that it often
led me to neglect my wor#, and on occasions * engaged not only my wife but the
whole household in such service.
Such service can have no meaning unless one ta#es !leasure in it. 5hen it is done for
show or for fear of !ublic o!inion, it stunts the man and crushes his s!irit. Service
which is rendered without ,oy hel!s neither the servant nor the served. But all other
!leasures and !ossessions !ale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a
s!irit of ,oy.
THE B!MBA" MEETING
n the very day after my brother/in/law(s death * had to go to Bombay for the !ublic
meeting. There had hardly been time for me to thin# out my s!eech. * was feeling
e&hausted after days and nights of an&ious vigil, and my voice had become hus#y.
)owever, * went to Bombay trusting entirely to God. * had never dreamt of writing out
my s!eech.
*n accordance with Sir Phero2eshah(s instructions * re!orted myself at his office at G P.
M. on the eve of the meeting.
(*s your s!eech ready, Gandhi@( he as#ed.
(%o sir,( said *, trembling with fear, (* thin# of s!ea#ing e, tempre.(
(That will not do in Bombay. +e!orting here is bad, and if we would benefit by this
meeting, you should write out your s!eech, and it should be !rinted before daybrea#
tomorrow. * ho!e you can manage this@(
* felt rather nervous, but * said * would try.
(Then, tell me, what time Mr. Munshi should come to you for the manuscri!t@(
(6leven o(cloc# tonight,( said *.
n going to the meeting the ne&t day, * saw the wisdom of Sir Phero2eshah(s advice.
The meeting was held in the hall of the Sir -owas,i $ehangir *nstitute. * had heard
that when Sir Phero2eshah Mehta addressed meetings the hall was always !ac#ed.
-hiefly by the students intent on hearing him, leaving not an inch of room. This was
the first meeting of the #ind in my e&!erience. * saw that my voice could reach only a
few. * was trembling as * began to read my s!eech. Sir Phero2eshah cheered me u!
continually by as#ing me to s!ea# louder and still louder. * have a feeling that, far
from encouraging me, it made my voice sin# lower and lower.
My old friend S,t. Keshavrao "esh!ande came to my rescue. * handed my s!eech to
him. )is was ,ust the !ro!er voice. But the audience refused to listen. The hall rang
with the cries of (5acha,( (5acha.( So Mr. 5acha stood u! and read the s!eech, with
wonderful results. The audience became !erfectly 3uiet, and listened to the s!eech
to the end, !unctuating it with a!!lause and cries of (shame( where necessary. This
gladdened my heart.
Sir Phero2eshah li#ed the s!eech. * was su!remely ha!!y.
The meeting won me the active sym!athy of S,t. "esh!ande and a Parsi friend, whose
name * hesitate to mention, as he is a high/!laced Government official today. Both
e&!ressed their resolve to accom!any me to South 1frica. Mr. -. M. -urset,i, who was
then Small -auses -ourt $udge, however, moved the Parsi friend from his resolve as
he had !lotted his marriage. )e had to choose between marriage and going to South
1frica, and he chose the former. But Parsi +ustom,i made amends for the bro#en
resolve, and a number of Parsi sisters are now ma#ing amends for the lady who hel!ed
in the breach by dedicating themselves to Khadi wor#. * have therefore gladly forgiven
that cou!le, S,t. "esh!ande had no tem!tations of marriage, but he too could not
come. Today he is himself doing enough re!aration for the bro#en !ledge. n my way
bac# to South 1frica * met one of the Tyab,is at Nan2ibar. )e also !romised to come
and hel! me, but never came. Mr. 1bbas Tyab,i is atoning for that offence. Thus none
of my three attem!ts to induce barristers to go to South 1frica bore any fruit.
*n this connection * remember Mr. Peston,i Padshah. * had been on friendly terms with
him ever since my stay in 6ngland. * first met him in a vegetarian restaurant in
4ondon. * #new of his brother Mr. Bar,or,i !adshah by his re!utation as a (cran#(. * had
never met him, but friends said that he was eccentric. ut of !ity for the horses he
would not ride in tram/cars, he refused to ta#e degrees in s!ite of a !rodigious
memory, he had develo!ed an inde!endent s!irit, and he was a vegetarian, though a
Parsi. Peston,i had not 3uite this re!utation, but he was famous for his erudition even
in 4ondon. The common factor between us, however, was vegetarianism, and not
scholarshi! in which it was beyond my !ower to a!!roach him.
* found him out again in Bombay. )e was Prothonotary in the )igh -ourt. 5hen * met
him he was engaged on his contribution to a )igher Gu,arati "ictonary. There was not
a friend * had not a!!roached for hel! in my South 1frican wor#. Peston,i Padshah,
however, not only refused to aid me, but even advised me not to return to South
1frica.
(*t is im!ossible to hel! you,( he said. (But * tell you * do not li#e even yur going to
South 1frica. *s there lac# of wor# in our country@ 4oo#, now, there is not a little to do
for our language. * have to find out scientific words. But this is only one branch of the
wor#. Thin# of the !overty of the land. ur !eo!le in South 1frica are no doubt in
difficulty, but * do not want a man li#e you to be sacrificed for that wor#. 4et us win
self/government here, and we shall automatically hel! our countrymen there. * #now *
cannot !revail u!on you, but * will not encourage anyone of your ty!e to throw in his
lot with you.(
* did not li#e this advice, but it increased my regard for Mr. Peston,i Padshah. * was
struc# with his love for the country and for the mother tongue. The incident brought
us closer to each other. * could understand his !oint of view. But far from giving u! my
wor# in South 1frica, * became firmer in my resolve. 1 !atriot cannot afford to ignore
any branch of service to the motherland. 1nd for me the te&t of the Gita was clear
and em!hatic' (0inally, this is better, that one do )is own tas# as he may, even though
he fail, Than ta#e tas#s not his own, though they seem good. To die !erforming duty is
no illC But who see#s other roads shall wander still.(
P!!NA AND MADRA$
Sir Phero2eshah had made my way easy. So from Bombay * went to Poona. )ere there
were two !arties. * wanted the hel! of !eo!le of every shade of o!inion. 0irst * met
4o#amanya Tila#. )e said'
(=ou are 3uite right in see#ing the hel! of all !arties. There can be no difference of
o!inion on the South 1frican 3uestion. But you must have a non/!arty man for your
!resident. Meet Professor Bhandar#ar. )e has been ta#ing no !art of late in any !ublic
movement. But this 3uestion might !ossibly drew him out. See him and let me #now
what he says. * want to hel! you to the fullest e&tent. f course you will meet me
whenever you li#e. * am at your dis!osal.(
This was my first meeting with the 4o#amanya. *t revealed to me the secret of his
uni3ue !o!ularity.
%e&t * met Go#hale. * found him on the 0ergusson -ollege grounds. )e gave me an
affectionate welcome, and his manner immediately won my heart. 5ith him too this
was my first meeting, and yet it seemed as though we were renewing an old
friendshi!. Sir Phero2eshah had seemed to me li#e the )imalaya, the 4o#amanya li#e
the ocean. But Go#hale was as the Ganges. ne could have a refreshing bath in the
holy river. The )imalaya was unscaleable, and one could not easily launch forth on
the sea, but the Ganges invited one to its bosom. *t was a ,oy to be on it with a boat
and an oar. Go#hale closely e&amined me, as a schoolmaster would e&amine a
candidate see#ing admission to a school. )e told me whom to a!!roach and how to
a!!roach them. )e as#ed to have a loo# at me s!eech. )e showed me over the
college, assured me that he was always at my dis!osal, as#ed me to let him #now the
result of the interview with "r. Bhandar#ar, and sent me away e&ultantly ha!!y. *n the
s!here of !olitics the !lace that Go#hale occu!ied in my heart during his lifetime and
occu!ies even now was and is absolutely uni3ue.
"r. Bhandar#ar received me with the warmth of a father. *t was noon when * called on
him. The very fact that * was busy seeing !eo!le at that hour a!!ealed greatly to this
indefatigable savant, and my insistence on a non/!arty man for the !resident of the
meeting had his ready a!!roval, which was e&!ressed in the s!ontaneous
e&clamation, (That(s it,( (That(s it.(
1fter he had heard me out he said' (1nyone will tell you that * do not ta#e !art in
!olitics. But * cannot refuse you. =our case is so strong and your industry is so
admirable that * cannot decline to ta#e !art in your meeting. =ou did well in
consulting Tila# and Go#hale. Please tell them that * shall be glad to !reside over the
meeting to be held under the ,oint aus!ices of the two Sabhas. =ou need not have the
time of the meeting from me, 1ny time that suits them will suit me.( 5ith this he
bade me good/bye with congratulations and blessings.
5ithout any ado this erudite and selfless band of wor#ers in Poona held a meeting in
an unostentatious little !lace, and sent me away re,oicing and more confident of my
mission.
* ne&t !roceeded to Madras. *t was wild with enthusiasm. The Balasundaram incident
made a !rofound im!ression on the meeting. My s!eech was !rinted and was, for me,
fairly long. But the audience listened to every word with attention. 1t the close of the
meeting there was a regular run on the (Green Pam!hlet.( * brought out a second and
revised edition of 9A,AAA co!ies. They sold li#e hot ca#es, but * saw that it was not
necessary to !rint such a large number. *n my enthusiasm * had overcalculated the
demand. *t was the 6nglish/ s!ea#ing !ublic to which my s!eech had been addressed,
and in Madras that class alone could not ta#e the whole ten thousand.
The greatest hel! here came to me from the late S,t. G. Parameshvaran Pillay, the
editor of #he Madras Standard. )e had made a careful study of the 3uestion, and he
often invited me to his office and gave me guidance. S,t. G. Subrahmaniam of #he
Hindu and "r. Subrahmaniam also were very sym!athetic. But S,t. G. Parameshvaran
Pillay !laced the columns of #he Madras Standard entirely at my dis!osal, and * freely
availed myself of the offer. The meeting in Pachaia!!a(s )all, so far as * can recollect,
was with "r. Subrahmaniam in the chair.
The affection showered on me by most of the friends * met and their enthusiasm for
the cause were so great that, in s!ite of my having to communicate with them in
6nglish, * felt myself entirely at home. 5hat barrier is there that love cannot brea#@
&RET#RN $!!N&
0rom Madras * !roceeded to -alcutta where * found myself hemmed by difficulties. *
#new no one there, so * too# a room in the Great 6astern )otel. )ere * became
ac3uainted with Mr. 6llerthor!e, a re!resentative of #he Daily #ele!raph. )e invited
me to the Bengal -lub, where he was staying. )e did not then reali2e that an *ndian
could not be ta#en to the drawing/room of the club. )aving discovered the
restriction, he too# me to his room. )e e&!ressed his sorrow regarding this !re,udice
of the local 6nglishmen and a!ologi2ed to me for not having been able to ta#e me to
the drawing/room.
* had of course to see Surendranath Baner,i, the (*dol of Bengal(. 5hen * met him, he
was surrounded by a number of friends. )e said' (* am afraid !eo!le will not ta#e
interest in your wor#. 1s you #now, our difficulties here are by no means few. But you
must try as best you can. =ou will have to enlist the sym!athy of Mahara,as. Mind, you
meet the re!resentatives of the British *ndian 1ssociation. =ou should meet +a,a Sir
Pyarimohan Mu#ar,i and Mahara,a Tagore. Both are liberal/ minded and ta#e a fair
share in !ublic wor#.(
* met these gentlemen, but without success. Both gave me a cold rece!tion in
-alcutta, and if anything could be done, it would !ractically all de!end on
Surendranath Baner,i.
* saw that my tas# was becoming more and more difficult. * called at the office of the
Amrita Ba)ar Patrika. The gentleman whom * met there too# me to be a wandering
,ew. #he Ban!abasi went even one better. The editor #e!t me waiting for an hour. )e
had evidently many interviewers, but he would not so much as loo# at me, even when
he had dis!osed of the rest. n my venturing to broach my sub,ect after the long
wait, he said' ("on(t you see our hands are full@ There is no end to the number of
visitors li#e you. =ou had better go. * am not dis!osed to listen to you.( 0or a moment *
felt offended, but * 3uic#ly understood the editor(s !osition. * had heard of the fame
of #he Ban!abasi. * could see that there was a regular stream of visitors there. 1nd
they were all !eo!le ac3uainted with him. )is !a!er had no lac# of co!ies to discuss,
and South 1frica was hardly #nown at that time.
)owever serious a grievance may be in the eyes of the man who suffers from it, he
will be but one of the numerous !eo!le invading the editor(s office, each with a
grievance of his own. )ow is the editor to meet them all@ Moreover, the aggrieved
!arty imagines that the editor is a !ower in the land. nly he #nows that his !ower
can hardly travel beyond the threshold of his office. But * was not discouraged. * #e!t
on seeing editors of other !a!ers. 1s usual * met the 1nglo/*ndian editors also. #he
Stateman and #he "n!lishman reali2ed the im!ortance of the 3uestion. * gave them
long interviews, and they !ublished them in full.
Mr. Saunders, editor of #he "n!lishman, claimed me as his own. )e !laced his office
and !a!er at my dis!osal. )e even allowed me the liberty of ma#ing whatever
changes * li#ed in the leading article he had written on the situation, the !roof of
which he sent me in advance. *t is no e&aggeration to say that a friendshi! grew u!
between us. )e !romised to render me all the hel! he could, carried out the !romise
to the letter, and #e!t on his corres!ondence with me until the time when he was
seriously ill.
Throughout my life * have had the !rivilege of many such friendshi!s, which have
s!rung u! 3uite une&!ectedly. 5hat Mr. Saunders li#ed in me was my freedom from
e&aggeration and my devotion to truth. )e sub,ected me to a searching cross/
e&amination before he began to sym!athi2e with my cause, and he saw that * had
s!ared neither will nor !ains to !lace before him an im!artial statement of the case
even of the white man in South 1frica and also to a!!reciate it.
My e&!erience has shown me that we win ,ustice 3uic#est by rendering ,ustice to the
other !arty.
The une&!ected hel! of Mr. Saunders had begun to encourage me to thin# that * might
succeed after all in holding a !ublic meeting in -alcutta, when * received the
following cable from "urban' (Parliament o!ens $anuary. +eturn soon.(
So * addressed a letter to the !ress, in which * e&!lained why * had to leave -alcutta
so abru!tly, and set off for Bombay. Before starting * wired to the Bombay agent of
"ada 1bdulla O -o, to arrange for my !assage by the first !ossible boat to South
1frica. "ada 1bdulla had ,ust then !urchased the steamshi! Curland and insisted on
my travelling on that boat, offering to ta#e me and my family free of charge. *
gratefully acce!ted the offer, and in the beginning of "ecember set sail a second time
for South 1frica, now with my wife and two sons and the only son of my widowed
sister. 1nother steamshi! Naderi also sailed for "urban at the same time. The agents
of the -om!any were "ada 1bdulla O -o. The total number of !assengers these boats
carried must have been about eight hundred, half of whom were bound for the
Transvaal.
R#MBING$ !% THE $T!RM
This was my first voyage with my wife and children. * have often observed in the
course of this narrative that, on account of child marriages amongst middle class
)indus, the husband will be literate whilst the wife remains !ractically unlettered. 1
wide gulf thus se!arates them, and the husband has to become his wife(s teacher. So *
had to thin# out the details of the dress to be ado!ted by my wife and children, the
food they were to eat, and the manners which would be suited to their new
surroundings. Some of the recollections of those days are amusing to loo# bac# u!on.
1 )indu wife regards im!licit obedience to her husband as the highest religion. 1
)indu husband regards himself as lord and master of his wife who must ever dance
attendance u!on him.
* believed, at the time of which * am writing, that in order to loo# civili2ed, our dress
and manners had as far as !ossible to a!!ro&imate to the 6uro!ean standard. Because
* thought only thus could we have some influence, and without influence it would not
be !ossible to serve the community.
* therefore determined the style of dress for my wife and children. )ow could * li#e
them to be #nown as Kathiawad Banias@ The Parsis used then to be regarded as the
most civili2ed !eo!le amongst *ndians, and so, when the com!lete 6uro!ean style
seemed to be unsuited, we ado!ted the Parsi style. 1ccordingly my wife wore the
Parsi sari, and the boys the Parsi coat and trousers. f course no one could be without
shoes and stoc#ings. *t was long before my wife and children could get used to them.
The shoes cram!ed their feet and the stoc#ings stan# with !ers!iration. The toes
often got sore, * always had my answers ready to all these ob,ections. But * have an
im!ression that it was not so much the answers as the force of authority that carried
conviction. They agreed to the changes in dress as there was no alternative. *n the
same s!irit and with even more reluctance they ado!ted the use of #nives and for#s.
5hen my infatuation for these signs of civili2ation wore away, they gave u! the #nives
and for#s. 1fter having become long accustomed to the new style, it was !erha!s no
less ir#some for them to return to the original mode. But * can see today that we feel
all the freer and lighter for having cast off the tinsel of (civili2ation.(
n board the same steamer with us were some relatives and ac3uaintances. These
and other dec# !assengers * fre3uently met, because, the boat belonging to my client
friends, * was free to move about anywhere and every where * li#ed.
Since the steamer was ma#ing straight for %atal, without calling at intermediate
!orts, our voyage was of only eighteen days. But as though to warn us of the coming
real storm on land, a terrible gale overtoo# us, whilst we were only four days from
%atal. "ecember is a summer month of monsoon in the Southern hemis!here, and
gales, great and small, are, therefore, 3uite common in the Southern sea at that
season. The gale in which we were caught was so violent and !rolonged that the
!assengers became alarmed. *t was a solemn scene. 1ll became one in face of the
common danger. They forgot their differences and began to thin# of the one and only
God/ Musalmans, )indus, -hristians and all. Some too# various vows. The ca!tain also
,oined the !assengers in their !rayers. )e assured them that, though the storm was
not without danger, he had had e&!erience of many worse ones, and e&!lained to
them that a well/built shi! could stand almost any weather. But they were
inconsolable. 6very minute were heard sounds and crashes which foreboded breaches
and lea#s. The shi! roc#ed and rolled to such an e&tent that it seemed as though she
would ca!si2e at any moment. *t was out of the 3uestion for anyone to remain on
dec#. ()is will be done( was the only cry on every li!. So far as * can recollect, we
must have been in this !light for about twenty/four hours. 1t last the s#y cleared, the
sun made his a!!earance, and the ca!tain said that the storm had blown over.
Peo!le(s faces beamed with gladness, and with the disa!!earance of danger
disa!!eared also the name of God from their li!s, 6ating and drin#ing, singing and
merry/ ma#ing again became the order of the day. The fear of death was gone, and
the momentary mood of earnest !rayer gave !lace to maya. There were of course the
usual nama) and he !rayers, yet they had none of the solemnity of that dread hour.
But the storm had made me one with the !assengers. * had little fear of the storm, for
* had had e&!erience of similar ones. * am a good sailor and do not get sea/sic#. So *
could fearlessly move amongst the !assengers, bringing them comfort and good cheer,
and conveying to them hourly re!orts of the ca!tain. The friendshi! * thus formed
stood me, as we shall see, in very good stead.
The shi! cast anchor in the !ort of "urban on the 9:th or 9<th of "ecember. #he
Naderi also reached the same day. But the real storm was still to come.
THE $T!RM
5e have seen that the two shi!s cast anchor in the !ort of "urban on or about the
9:th of "ecember. %o !assengers are allowed to land at any of the South 1frican !orts
before being sub,ected to a thorough medical e&amination. *f the shi! has any
!assenger suffering from a contagious disease, she has to undergo a !eriod of
3uarantine. 1s there had been !lague in Bombay when we met sail, we feared that we
might have to go through a brief 3uarantine. Before the e&amination every shi! has to
fly a yellow flag, which is lowered only when the doctor has certified her to be
healthy. +elatives and friends of !assengers are allowed to come on board only after
the yellow flag has been lowered.
1ccordingly our shi! was flying the yellow flag,when the doctor came and e&amined
us. )e ordered a five days 3uarantine because, in his o!inion, !lague germs too#
twenty/three days at the most to develo!. ur shi! was therefore ordered to be !ut
in 3uarantine until the twenty/third day of our sailing from Bombay. But this
3uarantine order had more than health reasons behind it.
The white residents of "urban had been agitating for our re!atriation, and the
agitation was one of the reasons for the order. "ada 1bdulla and -o. #e!t us regularly
informed about the daily ha!!enings in the town. The whites were holding monster
meetings every day. They were addressing all #inds of threats and at times offering
even inducements to "ada 1bdulla and -o. They were ready to indemnify the
-om!any if both the shi!s should be sent bac#. But "ada 1bdulla and -o. were not the
!eo!le to be afraid of threats. Sheth 1bdul Karim )a,i 1dam was then the managing
!artner of the firm. )e was determined to moor the shi!s at the wharf and disembar#
the !assengers at any cost. )e was daily sending me detailed letters. 0ortunately the
S,t. Mansu#hlal %aa2ar was then in "urban having gone there to meet me. )e was
ca!able and fearless and guided the *ndian community. Their advocate Mr. 4aughton
was an e3ually fearless man. )e condemned the conduct of the white residents and
advised the community, not merely as their !aid advocate, but also as their true
friend.
Thus "urban had become the scene of an une3ual duel. n one side there was a
handful of !oor *ndians and a few of their 6nglish friends, and on the other were
ranged the white men, strong in arms, in numbers, in education and in wealth. They
had also the bac#ing of the State, for the %atal Government o!enly hel!ed them.
Mr.)arry 6scombe, who was the most influential of the members of the -abinet,
o!enly too# !art in their meetings.
The real ob,ect of the 3uarantine was thus to coerce the !assengers into returning to
*ndia by somehow intimidating them or the 1gent -om!any. 0or now threats began to
be addressed to us also' (*f you do not go bac#, you will surely be !ushed into the sea.
But if you consent to return, you may even get your !assage money bac#.( * constantly
moved amongst my fellow/!assengers cheering them u!. * also sent messages of
comfort to the !assengers of the s.s.Naderi. 1ll of them #e!t calm and courageous.
5e arranged all sorts of games on the shi! for the entertainment of the !assengers.
n -hristmas "ay the ca!tain invited the saloon !assengers to dinner. The !rinci!al
among these were my family and *. *n the s!eeches after dinner * s!o#e on 5estern
civili2ation. * #new that this was not an occasion for a serious s!eech. But mine could
not be otherwise. * too# !art in the merriment, but my heart was in the combat that
was going on in "urban. 0or * was the real target. There were two charges against me'
9. that whilst in *ndia * had indulged in unmerited condemnation of the %atal whitesC
8. that with a view to swam!ing %atal with *ndians * had s!ecially brought the two
shi!loads of !assengers to settle there.
* was conscious of my res!onsibility. * #new that "ada 1bdulla and -o. had incurred
grave ris#s on my account, the lives of the !assengers were in danger, and by bringing
my family with me * had !ut them li#ewise in ,eo!ardy.
But * was absolutely innocent. * had induced no one to go to %atal. * did not #now the
!assengers when they embar#ed. 1nd with the e&ce!tion of a cou!le of relatives, * did
not #now the name and address of even one of the hundreds of !assengers on board.
%either had * said, whils in *ndia, a word about the whites in %atal that * had not
already said in %atal itself. 1nd * had am!le evidence in su!!ort of all tha * had said.
* therefore de!lored the civili2ation of which the %atal whites were the fruit, and
which they re!resented and cham!ioned. This civili2ation had all along been on my
mind, and * therefore offered my views concerning it in my s!eech before that little
meeting. The ca!tain and other friends gave me a !atient hearing, and received my
s!eech in the s!irit in which it was made. * do not #now that it in any way affected
the course of their lives, but afterwards * had long tal#s with the ca!tain and other
officers regarding the civili2ation of the 5est. * had in my s!eech described 5estern
civili2ation as being, unli#e the 6astern, !redominantly based on force. The
3uestioners !inned me to my faith, and one of them the ca!tain, so far as * can
recollect said to me'
(Su!!osing the whites carry out their threats, how will you stand by your !rinci!le of
non/violence@( To which * re!lied' (* ho!e God will give me the courage and the sense
to forgive them and to refrain from bringing them to law. * have no anger against
them. * am only sorry for their ignorance and their narrowness. * #now that they
sincerely believe that what they are doing today is right and !ro!er. * have no reason
therefore to be angry with them.(
The 3uestioner smiled, !ossibly distrustfully.
Thus the days dragged on their weary length. 5hen the 3uarantine would terminate
was still uncertain. The Huarantine fficer said that the matter had !assed out of his
hands and that, as soon as he had orders from the Government, he would !ermit us to
land.
1t last ultimatums were served on the !assengers and me. 5e were as#ed to submit,
if we would esca!e with our lives. *n our re!ly the !assengers and * both maintained
our right to land at Port %atal, and intimated our determination to enter %atal at any
ris#.
1t the end of twenty/three days the shi!s were !ermitted to enter the harbour, and
orders !ermitting the !assengers to land were !assed.
THE TE$T
So the shi!s were brought into the doc# and the !assengers began to go ashore. But
Mr. 6scombe had sent word to the ca!tain that, as the whites were highly enraged
against me and my life was in danger, my family and * should be advised to land at
dus#, when the Port Su!erintendent Mr. Tatum would escort us home. The ca!tain
communicated the message to me. and * agreed to act accordingly. But scarcely half
an hour after this, Mr. 4aughton came to the ca!tain. )e said' (* would li#e to ta#e Mr.
Gandhi with me, should he have no ob,ection. 1s the legal adviser of the 1gent
-om!any * tell you that you are not bound to carry out the message you have received
from Mr. 6scombe.( 1fter this he came to me and said somewhat to this effect' (*f you
are not afraid, * suggest that Mrs. Gandhi and the children should drive to Mr.
+ustom,i(s house, whilst you and * follow them on foot. * do not at all li#e the idea of
your entering the city li#e a thief in the night. * do not thin# there is any fear of
anyone hurting you. 6verything is 3uiet now. The whites have all dis!ersed. But in any
case * am convinced that you ought not to enter the city stealthily.( * readily agreed.
My wife and children drove safely to Mr. +ustom,i(s !lace. 5ith the ca!tain(s
!ermission * went ashore with Mr. 4aughton. Mr +ustom,i(s house was about two miles
from the doc#.
1s soon as we landed, some youngsters recogni2ed me and shouted (Gandhi, Gandhi.(
1bout half a do2en men rushed to the s!ot and ,oined in the shouting. Mr. 4aughton
feared that the crowd might swell and hailed a ric#shaw. * had never li#ed the idea of
being in a ric#shaw. This was to be my first e&!erience. But the youngsters would not
let me get into it. They frightened the ric#shaw boy out of his life, and he too# to his
heels. 1s we went ahead, the crowd continued to swell, until it became im!ossible to
!roceed further. They first caught hold of Mr. 4aughton and se!arated us. Then they
!elted me with stones, bric#bats and rotten eggs. Someone snatched away my turban,
whilst others began to batter and #ic# me. * fainted and caught hold of the front
railings of a house and stood there to get my breath. But it was im!ossible. They
came u!on me bo&ing and battering. The wife of the Police Su!erintendent, who
#new me, ha!!ened to be !assing by. The brave lady came u!, o!ened her !arasol
though there was no sun then, and stood between the crowd and me. This chec#ed
the fury of the mob, as it was difficult for them to deliver blows on me without
harming Mrs. 1le&ander.
Meanwhile an *ndian youth who witnessed the incident had run to the !olice station.
The Police Su!erintendent Mr. 1le&ander sent a !osse of men to ring me round and
escort me safely to my destination. They arrived in time. The !olice station lay on our
way. 1s we reached there, the Su!erintendent as#ed me to ta#e refuge in the station,
but * gratefully declined the offer, (They are sure to 3uiet down when they reali2e
their mista#e,( * said. (* have trust in their sense of fairness.( 6scorted by the !olice, *
arrived without further harm at Mr. +ustom,i(s !lace. * had bruises all over, but no
abrasions e&ce!t in one !lace. "r. "adibar,or, the shi!(s doctor, who was on the s!ot,
rendered the best !ossible hel!.
There was 3uiet inside, but outside the whites surrounded the house. %ight was
coming on, and the yelling crowd was shouting, (5e must have Gandhi.( The 3uic#/
sighted Police Su!erintendent was already there trying to #ee! the crowds under
control, not by threats, but by humouring them. But he was not entirely free from
an&iety. )e sent me a message to this effect' (*f you would save your friend(s house
and !ro!erty and also your family, you should esca!e from the house in disguise, as *
suggest.(
Thus on one and the same day * was faced with two contradictory !ositions. 5hen
danger to life had been no more than imaginary, Mr. 4aughton advised me to launch
forth o!enly. * acce!ted the advice. 5hen the danger was 3uite real, another friend
gave me the contrary advice, and * acce!ted that too. 5ho can say whether * did so
because * saw that my life was in ,eo!ardy, or because * did not want to !ut my
friend(s life and !ro!erty or the lives of my wife and children in danger@ 5ho can say
for certain that * was right both when * faced the crowd in the first instance bravely,
as it was said, and when * esca!ed from it in disguise@
*t is idle to ad,udicate u!on the right and wrong of incidents that have already
ha!!ened. *t is useful to understand them and, if !ossible, to learn a lesson from
them for the future. *t is difficult to say for certain how a !articular man would act in
a !articular set of circumstances. 5e can also see that ,udging a man from his
outward act is no more than a doubtful inference, inasmuch as it is not based on
sufficient data.
Be that as it may, the !re!arations for esca!e made me forget my in,uries. 1s
suggested by the Su!erintendent, * !ut on an *ndian constable(s uniform and wore on
my head a Madrasi scarf, wra!!ed round a !late to serve as a helmet. Two detectives
accom!anied me, one of them disguised as an *ndian merchant and with his face
!ainted to resemble that of an *ndian. * forget the disguise of the other. 5e reached a
neighbouring sho! by a by/lane and, ma#ing our way through the gunny bags !iled in
the godown, esca!ed by the gate of the sho! and threaded our way through the crowd
to a carriage that had been #e!t for me at the end of the street. *n this we drove off
to the same !olice station where Mr. 1le&ander had offered me refuge a short time
before, and * than#ed him and the detective officers.
5hilst * had been thus effecting my esca!e Mr. 1le&ander had #e!t the crowd amused
by singing the tune' ()ang old Gandhi n the sour a!!le tree.( 5hen he was informed
of my safe arrival at the !olice station, he thus bro#e the news to the crowd' (5ell,
your victim had made good his esca!e through a neighbouring sho!. =ou had better go
home now.( Some of them were angry, others laughed, some refused to believe the
story.
(5ell then,( said the Su!erintendent, (*f you do not believe me, you may a!!oint one
or two re!resentatives, whom * am ready to ta#e inside the house, *f they succeed in
finding out Gandhi, * will gladly deliver him to you. But if they fail, you must dis!erse.
* am sure that you have no intention of destroying Mr. +ustom,i(s house or of harming
Mr. Gandhi(s wife and children.(
The crowed sent their re!resentatives to search the house. They soon returned with
disa!!ointing news, and the crowd bro#e u! at last, most of them admiring the
Su!erintendent(s tactful handling of the situation, and a few fretting and fuming.
The late Mr. -hamberlain, who was then Secretary of State for the -olonies, cabled
as#ing the %atal Government to !rosecute my assailants. Mr. 6scombe sent for me,
e&!ressed his regret for the in,uries * had sustained, and said' (Believe me, * cannot
feel ha!!y over the least little in,ury done to your !erson. =ou had a right to acce!t
Mr. 4aughton(s advice and to face the worst, but * am sure that, if you had considered
my suggestion favourably, these sad occurrences would not have ha!!ened. *f you can
identify the assailants, * am !re!ared to arrest and !rosecute them. Mr. -hamberlain
also desires me to do so.(
To which * gave the following re!ly'
(* do not want to !rosecute anyone. *t is !ossible that * may be able to identify one or
two of them, but what is the use of getting them !unished@ Besides, * do not hold the
assailants to blame. They were given to understand that * had made e&aggerated
statements in *ndia about the whites in %atal and calumniated them. *f they believed
these re!orts, it is no wonder that they were enraged. The leaders and, if you will
!ermit me to say so, you are to blame. =ou could have guided the !eo!le !ro!erly,
but you also believed +euter and assumed that * must have indulged in e&aggeration. *
do not want to bring anyone to boo#. * am sure that, when the truth becomes #nown,
they will be sorry for their conduct.(
(5ould you mind giving me this in writing@( said Mr. 6scombe. (Because * shall have to
cable to Mr. -hamberlain to that effect. * do not want you to ma#e any statement in
haste. =ou may, if you li#e, consult Mr. 4aughton and your other friends, before you
come to a final decision. * may confess, however, that, if you waive the right of
bringing your assailants to boo#, you will considerable hel! me in restoring 3uiet,
besides enhancing your own re!utation.(
(Than# you,( said *. (* need not consult anyone. * had made my decision in the matter
before * came to you. *t is my conviction that * should not !rosecute the assailants,
and * am !re!ared this moment to reduce my decision to writing.(
5ith this * gave him the necessary statement.
THE CAM A%TER THE $T!RM
* had not yet left the !olice station, when, after two days, * was ta#en to see
Mr.6scombe. Two constables were sent to !rotect me, though no such !recaution was
then needed.
n the day of landing, as soon as the yellow flag was lowered, a re!resentative of
#he Natal Advertiser had come to interview me. )e had as#ed me a number of
3uestions, and in re!ly * had been able to refute everyone of the charges that had
been levelled against me. Than#s to Sir Phero2eshah Mehta, * had delivered only
written s!eeches in *ndia, and * had co!ies of them all, as well as of my other
writings. * had given the interviewer all this literature and showed him that in *ndia *
had said nothing which * had not already said in South 1frica in stronger language. *
had also shown him that * had had no hand in bringing the !assengers of the Curland
and Naderi to South 1frica. Many of them were old residents, and most of them, far
from wanting to stay in %atal, meant to go to the Transvaal. *n those days the
Transvaal offered better !ros!ects than %atal to those coming in search of wealth,
and most *ndians, therefore, !referred to go there. This interview and my refusal to
!rosecute the assailants !roduced such a !rofound im!ression that the 6uro!eans of
"urban were ashamed of their conduct. The !ress declared me to be innocent and
condemned the mob. Thus the lynching ultimately !roved to be a blessing for me,
that is, for the cause. *t enhanced the !restige of the *ndian community in South
1frica and made my wor# easier. *n three or four days * went to my house, and it was
not long before * settled down again. The incident added also to my !rofessional
!ractice. But if it enhanced the !restige of the community, it also fanned the flame of
!re,udice against it. 1s soon as it was !roved that the *ndian could !ut u! a manly
fight, he came to be regarded as a danger. Two bills were introduced in the %atal
4egislative 1ssembly, one of them calculated to affect the *ndian trader adversely,
and the other to im!ose a stringent restriction on *ndian immigration. 0ortunately the
fight for the franchise had resulted in a decision to the effect that no enactment
might be !assed against the *ndians as such, that is say, that the law should ma#e no
distinctions of colour or race. The language of the bills above mentioned made them
a!!licable to all, but their ob,ect undoubtedly was to im!ose further restrictions on
the *ndian residents of %atal. The bills considerably increased my !ublic wor# and
made the community more alive then ever to their sense of duty. They were
translated into *ndian languages and fully e&!lained, so as to bring home to the
community their subtle im!lications. 5e a!!ealed to the -olonial Secretary, but he
refused to interfere and the bills became law. Public wor# now began to absorb most
of my time. S,t. Mansu#hlal %aa2ar, who, as * have said, was already in "urban, came
to stay with me, and as he gave his time to !ublic wor#, he lightened my burden to
some e&tent. Sheth 1dam,i Miya#han had, in my absence, discharged his duty with
great credit. )e had increased the membershi! and added about L9,AAA to the coffers
of the %atal *ndian -ongress. The awa#ening caused by the bills and the
demonstration against the !assengers * turned to good account by ma#ing an a!!eal
for membershi! and funds, which now amounted to LG,AAA. My desire was to secure
for the -ongress a !ermanent fund, so that it might !rocure !ro!erty of its own and
then carry on its wor# out of the rent of the !ro!erty. This was my first e&!erience of
managing a !ublic institution. * !laced my !ro!osal before my co/ wor#ers, and they
welcomed it. The !ro!erty that was !urchased was leased out and the rent was
enough to meet the current e&!enses of the -ongress. The !ro!erty was vested in a
strong body of trustees and is still there today, but it has become the source of much
internecine 3uarrelling with the result that the rent of the !ro!erty now accumulates
in the court. This sad situation develo!ed after my de!arture from South 1frica, but
my idea of having !ermanent funds for !ublic institutions underwent a change long
before this difference arose. 1nd now after considerable e&!erience with the many
!ublic institutions which * have managed, it has become my firm conviction that it is
not good to run !ublic institutions on !ermanent funds. 1 !ermanent fund carries in
itself the seed of the moral fall of the institution. 1 !ublic institution means an
institution conducted with the a!!roval, and from the funds, of the !ublic. 5hen such
an institution ceases to have !ublic su!!ort, it forfeits its right to e&ist. *nstitutions
maintained on !ermanent funds are often found to ignore !ublic o!inion, and are
fre3uently res!onsible for acts contrary to it. *n our country we e&!erience this at
every ste!. Some of the so/called religious trusts have ceased to render any accounts.
The trustees have become the owners and are res!onsible to none. * have no doubt
that the ideal is for !ublic institutions to live, li#e nature, from day to day. The
institution that fails to win !ublic su!!ort has no right to e&ist as such. The
subscri!tions that an institution annually receives are a test of its !o!ularity and the
honesty of its managementC and * am of o!inion that every institution should submit
to that test. But let no one misunderstand me. My remar#s do not a!!ly to the bodies
which cannot, by their very nature, be conducted without !ermanent buildings. 5hat
* mean to say is that the current e&!enditure should be found from subscri!tions
voluntarily received from year to year. These views were confirmed during the days of
the Satyagraha in South 1frica. That magnificent cam!aign e&tending over si& years
was carried on without !ermanent funds, though la#hs of ru!ees were necessary for
it. * can recollect times when * did not #now what would ha!!en the ne&t day if no
subscri!tions came in. But * shall not antici!ate future events. The reader will find
the o!inion e&!ressed above am!ly borne out in the coming narrative.
ED#CATI!N !% CHIDREN
5hen * landed at "urban in $anuary 9:<F, * had three children with me, my sister(s
son ten years old, and my own sons nine and five years of age. 5here was * to
educate them @
* could have sent them to the schools for 6uro!ean children, but only as a matter of
favour and e&ce!tion. %o other *ndian children were allowed to attend them. 0or
these there were schools established by -hristian missions, but * was not !re!ared to
send my children there, as * did not li#e the education im!arted in those schools. 0or
one thing, the medium of instruction would be only 6nglish, or !erha!s incorrect
Tamil or )indiC this too could only have been arranged with difficulty. * could not
!ossibly !ut u! with this and other disadvantages. *n the meantime * was ma#ing my
own attem!t to teach them. But that was at best irregular, and * could not get hold of
a suitable Gu,arati teacher.
* was at my wits( end. * advertised for an 6nglish teacher who should teach the
children under my direction. Some regular instruction was to be given them by this
teacher, and for the rest they should be satisfied with what little * could give them
irregularly. So * engaged an 6nglish governess on F !ounds a month. This went on for
some time, but not to my satisfaction. The boys ac3uired some #nowledge of Gu,arati
through my conversation and intercourse with them, which was strictly in the mother/
tounge. * was loath to send them bac# to *ndia, for * believed even then that young
children should not be se!arated from their !arents. The education that children
naturally imbibe in a well/ordered household is im!ossible to obtain in hostels. *
therefore #e!t my children with me. * did send my ne!hew and elder son to be
educated at residential schools in *ndia for a few months, but * soon had to recall
them. 4ater, the eldest son, long after he had come of age, bro#e away from me, and
went to *ndia to ,oin a )igh School in 1hmedabad. * have an im!ression that the
ne!hew was satisfied with what * could give him. Unfortunately he died in the !rime
of youth after a brief illness. The other three of my sons have never been at a !ublic
school, though they did get some regular schooling in an im!rovised school which *
started for the children of Satyagrahi !arents in South 1frica.
These e&!eriments were all inade3uate. * could not devote to the children all the
time * had wanted to give them. My inability to give them enough attention and other
unavoidable causes !revented me from !roviding them with the literary education *
had desired, and all my sons have had com!laints to ma#e against me in this matter.
5henever they come across an M.1. or a B.1., or even a matriculate, they seem to
feel the handica! of a want of school education.
%evertheless * am of o!inion that, if * had insisted on their being educated somehow
at !ublic schools, they would have been de!rived of the training that can be had only
at the school of e&!erience, or from constant contact with the !arents. * should never
have been free, as * am today, from an&iety on their score, and the artificial
education that they could have had in 6ngland or South 1frica, torn from me, would
never have taught them the sim!licity and the s!irit of service that they show in their
lives today, while their artificial ways of living might have been a serious handica! in
my !ublic wor#. Therefore, though * have not been able to give them a literary
education either to their or to my satisfaction, * am not 3uite sure, as * loo# bac# on
my !ast years, that * have not done my duty by them to the best of my ca!acity. %or
do * regret not having sent them to !ublic schools. * have always felt that the
undesirable traits * see today in my eldest son are an echo of my own undisci!lined
and unformulated early life. * regard that time as a !eriod of half/ba#ed #nowledge
and indulgence. *t coincided with the most im!ressionable years of my eldest son, and
naturally he has refused to regard it as my time of indulgence and ine&!erience. )e
has on the contrary believed that that was the brightest !eriod of my life, and the
changes, effected later, have been due to delusion miscalled enlightenment. 1nd well
he might. 5hy should he not thin# that my earlier years re!resented a !eriod of
awa#ening, and the later years of radical change, years of delusion and egotism @
ften have * been confronted with various !osers from friends ' 5hat harm had there
been, if * had given my boys an academical education @ 5hat right had * thus to cli!
their wings @ 5hy should * have come in the way of their ta#ing degrees and choosing
their own careers @
* do not thin# that there is much !oint in these 3uestions. * have come in contact with
numerous students. * have tried myself or through others to im!ose my educational
(fads( on other children too and have seen the results thereof. There are within my
#nowledge a number of young men today contem!oraneous with my sons. * do not
thin# that man to man they are any better that my sons, or that my sons have much
to learn from them.
But the ultimate result of my e&!eriments is in the womb of the future. My ob,ect in
discussing this sub,ect here is that a student of the history of civili2ation may have
some measure of the difference between disci!lined home education and school
education, and also the effect !roduced on children through changes introduced by
!arents in their lives. The !ur!ose of this cha!ter is also to show the lengths to which
a votary of truth is driven by his e&!eriments with truth, as also to show the votary of
liberty how many are the sacrifices demanded by that stern goddess. )ad * been
without a sense of self/res!ect and satisfied of myself with having for my children the
education that other children could not get, * should have de!rived them of the
ob,ect/lesson in liberty and self/res!ect that * gave them at the cost of the literary
training. 1nd where a choice has to be made between liberty and learning, who will
not say that the former has to be !referred a thousand times to the latter @
The youths whom * called out in 9<8A from those citadels of slavery // their schools
and colleges // and whom * advised that it was far better to remain unlettered and
brea# stones for the sa#e of liberty than to go in for a literary education in the chains
of slaves will !robably be able now to trace my advice to its source.
$PIRIT !% $ER(ICE
My !rofession !rogressed satisfactorily, but that was far from satisfying me. The
Huestion of further sim!lifying my life and of doing some concrete act of service to
my fellowmen had been constantly agitating me, when a le!er came to my door. * had
not the heart to dismiss him with a meal. So * offered him shelter, dressed his wounds,
and began to loo# after him. But * could not go on li#e that indefinately. * could not
afford, * lac#ed the will to #ee! him always with me. So * sent him to the Government
)os!ital for indentured labourers.
But * was still ill at ease. * longed for some humanitarian wor# of a !ermanent nature.
"r. Booth was the head of the St. 1idan(s Mission. )e was a #ind/hearted man and
treated his !atients free. Than#s to a Parsi +ustom,i(s charities, it was !ossible to
o!en a small charitable hos!ital under "r. Booth(s charge. * felt strongly inclined to
serve as a nurse in this hos!ital. The wor# of dis!ensing medicines too# from one to
two hours daily, and * made u! my mind to find time from my office/wor#, so as to be
able to fill the !lace of a com!ounder in the dis!ensary attached to the hos!ital. Most
of my !rofessional wor# was chamber wor#, conveyancing and arbitration. * of course
used to have a few cases in the magistrate(s court, but most of them were of a non/
controversial character, and Mr. Khan, who had followed me to South 1frica and was
then living with me, undertoo# to ta#e them if * was absent. So * found time to serve
in the small hos!ital. This wor# brought me some !eace. *t consisted in ascertaining
the !atient(s com!laints, laying the facts before the doctor and dis!ensing the
!rescri!tions. *t brought me in close touch with suffering *ndians, most of them
indentured Tamil, Telegu or %orth *ndian men.
The e&!erience stood me in good stead, when during the Boer 5ar * offered my
services for nursing the sic# and wounded soldiers.
The 3uestion of the rearing of children had been ever before me. * had two sons born
in South 1frica, and my service in the hos!ital was useful in solving the 3uestion of
their u!bringing. My inde!endent s!irit was a constant source of trial. My wife and *
had decided to have the best medical aid at the time of her delivery, but if the doctor
and the nurse were to leave us in the lurch at the right moment, what was * to do@
Then the nurse had to be an *ndian. 1nd the difficulty of getting a trained *ndian
nurse in South 1frica can be easily imagined from the similar difficulty in *ndia. So *
studied the things necessary for safe labour. * read "r. Tribhuvandas( boo#, PMa/ne
Shi#hamanP / 1dvice to a mother / and * nursed both my children according to the
instructions given in the boo#, tem!ered here and there by e&!erience as * had gained
elsewhere. The services of a nurse were utili2ed/not for more than two months each
time/chiefly for hel!ing my wife and not for ta#ing care of the babies, which * did
myself.
The birth of the last child !ut me to the severest test. The travail came on suddenly.
The doctor was not immediately available, and some time was lost in fetching the
midwife. 6ven if she had been on the s!ot, she could not have hel!ed delivery. * had
to see through the safe delivery of the baby. My careful study of the sub,ect in "r.
Tribhuvandas( wor# was of inestimable hel!. * was not nervous.
* am convinced that for the !ro!er u!bringing of children the !arents ought to have a
general #nowledge of the care and nursing of babies. 1t every ste! * have seen the
advantages of my careful study of the sub,ect. My children would not have en,oyed
the general health that they do today, had * not studied the sub,ect and turned my
#nowledge to account. 5e labour under a sort of su!erstition that a child has nothing
to learn during the first five years of its life. n the contrary the fact is that the child
never learns in after life what it does in its first five years. The education of the child
begins with conce!tion. The !hysical and mental states of the !arents at the moment
of conce!tion are re!roduced in the baby. Then during the !eriod of !regnancy it
continues to be affected by the mother(s moods, desires and tem!erament, as also by
her ways of life. 1fter birth the child imitates the !arents, and for a considerable
number of years entirely de!ends on them for its growth.
The cou!le who reali2e these things will never have se&ual union for the fulfilment of
their lust, but only when they desire issue. * thin# it is the height of ignorance to
believe that the se&ual act is an inde!endent function necessary li#e slee!ing or
eating. The world de!ends for its e&istence on the act of generation, and as the world
is the !lay/ground of God and a reflection of )is glory, the act of generation should be
controlled for the ordered growth of the world. )e who reali2es this will control his
lust at any cost, e3ui! himself with the #nowledge necessary for the !hysical, mental
and s!iritual well/being of his !rogeny, and give the benefit of that #nowledge to
!osterity.
BRAHMACHAR"A -- I
5e now reach the stage in this story when * began seriously to thin# of ta#ing the
brahmacharya vow. * had been wedded to a monogamous ideal ever since my
marriage, faithfulness to my wife being !art of the love of truth. But it was in South
1frica that * came to reali2e the im!ortance of observing brahmacharya even with
res!ect to my wife. * cannot definitely say what circumstance or what boo# it was,
that set my thoughts in that direction, but * have a recollection that the !redominant
factor was the influence of +aychandbhai, of whom * have already written, * can still
recall a conversation that * had with him. n one occasion * s!o#e to him in high
!raise of Mrs. Gladstone(s devotion to her husband. * had read some where that Mrs.
Gladstone insisted on !re!aring tea for Mr. Gladstone even in the )ouse of -ommons,
and that this had become a rule in the life of this illustrious cou!le, whose actions
were governed by regularity. * s!o#e of this to the !oet, and incidentally eulogi2ed
con,ugal love.(5hich of the two do you !ri2e more,( as#ed +aychandbhai,(the love of
Mrs. Gladstone for her husband as his wife, or her devoted service irres!ective of her
relation to Mr. Gladstone@ Su!!osing she had been his sister, or his devoted servant,
and ministered to him with the same attention, what would you have said@ "o we not
have instances of such devoted sisters or servants@ Su!!osing you had found the same
loving devotion in a male servant, would you have been !leased in the same way as in
Mrs. Gladstone(s case @ $ust e&amine the view/!oint suggested by me.(
+aychandbhai was himself married. * have an im!ression that at the moment his
words sounded harsh, but they gri!!ed me irresistibly. The devotion of a servant was,
* felt, a thousand times more !raiseworthy than that of a wife to her husband. There
was nothing sur!rising in the wife(s devotion to her husband, as there was an
indissoluble bond between them. The devotion was !erfectly natural. But it re3uired.
a s!ecial effort to cultivate e3ual devotion between master and servant. The !oet(s
!oint of view began gradually to grow u!on me. 5hat then, * as#ed myself, should be
my relation with my wife @ "id my faithfulness consist in ma#ing my wife the
instrument of my lust @ So long as * was the slave of lust, my faithfulness was worth
nothing. To be fair to my wife, * must say that she was never the tem!tress. *t was
therefore the easiest thing for me to ta#e the vow of brahmacharya , if only * willed
it. *t was my wea# will or lustful attachment that was the obstacle. 6ven after my
conscience had been roused in the matter, * failed twice. * failed because the motive
that actuated the effort was none the highest. My main ob,ect was to esca!e having
more children. 5hilst in 6ngland * had read something about contrace!tives. * have
already referred to "r. 1llinson(s birth control !ro!aganda in the cha!ter on
.egetarianism. *f it had some tem!orary effect on me,Mr. )ill(s o!!osition to those
methods and his advocacy of internal efforts as o!!osed to outward means, in a word,
of self/control, had a far greater effect, which in due time came to be abiding.
Seeing, therefore, that * did not desire more children * began to strive after self/
control. There was endless difficulty in the tas#. 5e began to slee! in se!arate beds. *
decided to retire to bed only after the day(s wor# had left me com!letely e&hausted.
1ll these efforts did not seem to bear much fruit, but when * loo# bac# u!on the !ast,
* feel that the final resolution was the cumulative effect of those unsuccessful
strivings.
The final resolution could only be made as late as 9<A;. Satyagraha had not then been
started. * had not the least notion of its coming. * was !ractising in $ohannesburg at
the time of the Nulu (+ebellion( in %atal, which came soon after the Boer 5ar. * felt
that * must offer my services to the %atal Government on that occasion. The offer was
acce!ted, as we shall see in another cha!ter. But the wor# set me furiously thin#ing in
the direction of self/control, and according to my wont *discussed my thoughts with
my co/wor#ers, *t became my conviction that !rocreation and the conse3uent care of
children were inconsistent with !ublic serviice. * had to brea# u! my household at
$ohannesburg to be able to serve during the (+ebellion(. 5ithin one month of offering
my services, * had to give u! the house * had so carefully furnished. * too# my wife
and children to Phoeni& and led the *ndian ambulance cor!s attached to the %atal
forces. "uring the difficult marches that had then to be !erformed, the idea flashed
u!on me that if * wanted to devote myself to the service of the community in this
manner, * must relin3uish the desire for children and wealth and live the life of a
vanaprastha / of one retired from household cares. The(+ebellion( did not occu!y me
for more than si& wee#s, but this brief !eriod !roved to be a very im!ortant e!och in
my life. The im!ortance of vows grew u!on me more clearly than ever before. *
reali2ed that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, o!ened it. U! to this
time * had not met with success because the will had been lac#ing, because * had had
no faith in myself, no faith in the grace of God, and therefore, my mind had been
tossed on the boisterous sea of doubt. * reali2ed that in refusing to ta#e a vow man
was drawn into tem!tation, and that to be bound by a vow was li#e a !assage from
libertinism to a real monogamous marriage. (* believe in effort, * do not want to bind
myself with vows,( is the mentality of wea#ness and betrays a subtle desire for the
thing to be avoided. r where can be the difficulty in ma#ing a final decision @ * vow
to flee from the ser!ent which * #now will bite me, * do not sim!ly ma#e an effort to
flee from him. * #now that mere effort may mean certain death. Mere effort means
ignorance of the certain fact that the ser!ent is bound to #ill me. The fact, therefore,
that * could rest content with an effort only, means that * have not yet clearly
reali2ed the necessity of definite action.(But su!!osing my views are changed in the
future, how can * bind myself by a vow @ ( Such a doubt often deters us. But that
doubt also betrays a lac# of clear !erce!tion that a !articular thing must be
renounced. That is why %ish#ulanand has sung '
(+enunciatfon without aversion is not lasting.(
5here therefore the desire is gone, a vow of renunciation is the natural and
inevitable fruit.
BRAHM ACHAR"A - II
1fter full discussion and mature deliberation * too# the vow in 9<A;. * had not shared
my thoughts with my wife until then, but only consulted her at the time of ta#ing the
vow. She had no ob,ection. But * had great difficulty in ma#ing the final resolve. * had
not the necessary strength. )ow was * to control my !assions @ The elimination of
carnal relationshi! with one(s wife seemed then a strange thing. But * launched forth
with faith in the sustaining !ower of God. 1s * loo# bac# u!on the twenty years of the
vow, * am filled with !leasure and wonderment. The more or less successful !ractice
of self/control had been going on since 9<A9. But the freedom and ,oy that came to
me after ta#ing the vow had never been e&!erienced before 9<A;. Before the vow *
had been o!en to being overcome by tem!tation at any moment. %ow the vow was a
sure shield against tem!tation. The great !otentiality of brahmacharya daily became
more an more !atent to me. The vow was ta#en when * was in Phoeni&. 1s soon as *
was free from ambulance wor#, * went to Phoeni&, whence * had to return to
$ohannesburg. *n about a month of my returning there, the foundation of Satyagraha
was laid. 1s though un#nown to me, the brahmacharya vow had been !re!aring me
for it. Satyagraha had not been a !reconceived !lan. *t came on s!ontaneously,
without my having willed it. But * could see that all my !revious ste!s had led u! to
that goal. * had cut down my heavy household e&!enses at $ohannesburg and gone to
Phoeni& to ta#e, as it were, the brahmacharya vow.
The #nowledge that a !erfect observance of brahmacharya means reali2ation of
brahman, * did not owe to a study of the Shastras. *t slowly grew u!on me with
e&!erience. The shastric te&ts on the sub,ect * read only later in life. 6very day of the
vow has ta#en me nearer the #nowledge that in brahmacharya lies the !rotection of
the body, the mind and the soul. 0or PbrahmacharyaP was now no !rocess of hard
!enance, it was a matter of consolation and ,oy. 6very day revealed a fresh beauty in
it.
But if it was a matter of ever/increasing ,oy, let no one believe that it was an easy
thing for me. 6ven when * am !ast fifty/si& years, * reali2e how hard a thing it is.
6very day * reali2e more and more that it is li#e wal#ing on the sword(s edge, and * see
every moment the necessity for eternal vigilance.
-ontrol of the !alate is the first essential in the observance of the vow. * found that
com!lete control of the !alate made the observance very easy, and so * now !ersued
my dietetic e&!eriments not merely from the vegetarian(s but also from the
Pbrahmachari(sP !oint of view. 1s the result of these e&!eriments * saw that the
Pbrahmachari(sP food should be limited, sim!le, s!iceless, and, if !ossible, uncoo#ed.
Si& years of e&!eriment have showed me that the brahmachari1s ideal food is fresh
fruit and nuts. The immunity from !assion that * en,oyed when * lived on this food was
un#nown to me after * changed that diet. Brahmacharya needed no effort on my !art
in South 1frica when * lived on fruits and nuts alone. *t has been a matter of very
great effort ever since * began to ta#e mil#. )ow * had to go bac# to mil# from a fruit
diet will be considered in its !ro!er !lace. *t is enough to observe here that * have not
the least doubt that mil# diet ma#es the brahmacharya vow difficult to observe. 4et
no one deduce from this that all brahmacharis must give u! mil#. The effect on
brahmacharya of different #inds of food can be determined only after numerous
e&!eriments. * have yet to find a fruit substitute for mil# which is an e3ually good
muscle/builder and easily digestible. The doctors, vaidyas and hakims have ali#e
failed to enlighten me. Therefore, though * #now mil# to be !artly a stimulant, *
cannot, for the time being, advise anyone to give it u!.
1s an e&ternal aid to brahmacharya, fasting is as necessary as selection and
restriction in diet. So over!owering are the senses that they can be #e!t under
control only when they are com!letely hedged in on all sides, from above and from
beneath. *t is common #nowledge that they are !owerless without food, and so
fasting underta#en with a view to control of the senses is, * have no doubt, very
hel!ful. 5ith some, fasting is of no avail, because assuming that mechanical fasting
alone will ma#e them immune, they #ee! their bodies without food, but feast their
minds u!on all sorts of delicacies, thin#ing all the while what they will eat and what
they will drin# after the fast terminates. Such fasting hel!s them in controlling
neither !alate nor lust. 0asting is useful, when mind co/o!erates with starving body,
that is to say, when it cultivates a distaste for the ob,ects that are denied to the
body. Mind is at the root of all sensuality. 0asting therefore, has a limited use, for a
fasting man may continue to be swayed by !assion. But it may be said that e&tinction
of the se&ual !assion is as a rule im!ossible without fasting, which may be said to be
indis!ensable for the observance of PbrahmacharyaP. Many as!irants after
PbrahmacharyaP fail, because in the use of their other senses they want to carry on
li#e those who are not PbrahmacharisP. Their effort is, therefore, identical with the
effort to e&!erience the bracing cold of winter in the scorching summer months.
There should be a clear line between the life of a PbrahmachariP and of one who is
not. The resemblance that there is between the two is only a!!arent. The distinction
ought to be clear as daylight. Both use their eyesight, but whereas the PbrahmachariP
uses it to see the glories of God, the other uses it to see the frivolity around him.
Both use their ears, but whereas the one hears nothing but !raises of God, the other
feasts his ears u!on ribaldry. Both often #ee! late hours, but whereas the one devotes
them to !rayer, the other fritters them away in wild and wasteful mirth. Both feed
the inner man, but the one only to #ee! the tem!le of God in good re!air, while the
other gorges himself and ma#es the sacred vessel a stin#ing gutter. Thus both live as
the !oles a!art, and the distance between them will grow and not diminish with the
!assage of time.
Brahmacharya means control of the senses in thought, word and deed. 6very day *
have been reali2ing more and more the necessity for restraints of the #ind * have
detailed above. There is no limit to the !ossibilities of renunciation even as there is
none to those of PbrahmacharyaP. Such PbrahmacharyaP is im!ossible of attainment
by limited effort. 0(or many it must remain only as an ideal. 1n as!irant after
PbrahmacharyaP will always be conscious of his shortcomings, will see# out the
!assions lingering in the innermost recesses of his heart and will incessantly strive to
get rid of them. So long as thought is not under com!lete control of the will,
PbrahmacharyaP in its fulness is absent. *nvoluntary thought is an affection of the
mind, and curbing of thought, therefore, means curbing of the mind which is even
more difficult to curb than the wind. %evertheless the e&istence of God within ma#es
even control of the mind !ossible. 4et no one thin# that it is im!ossible because it is
difficult. *t is the highest goal, and it is no wonder that the highest effort should be
necessary to attain it.
But it was after coming to *ndia that * reali2ed that such PbrahmacharyaP was
im!ossible to attain by mere human effort. Until then * had been labouring under the
delusion that fruit diet alone would enable me to eradicate all !assions, and * had
flattered myself with the belief that * had nothing more to do.
But * must not antici!ate the cha!ter of my struggle. Meanwhile let me ma#e it clear
that those who desire to observe brahmacharya with a view to reali2ing God need not
des!air, !rovided their faith in God is e3ual to their confidence in their own effort.
(The sense/ob,ects turn away from an abstemious soul, leaving the relish behind. The
relish also disa!!ears with the reali2ation of the )ighest.( Therefore )is name and )is
grace are the last resources of the as!irant after mksha. This truth came to me only
after my return to *ndia.
$IMPE I%E
* had started on a life of ease and comfort, but the e&!eriment was short/lived.
1lthough * had furnished the house with care, yet it failed to have any hold on me. So
no sooner had * launched forth on that life, than * began to cut down e&!enses. The
washerman(s bill was heavy, and as he was besides by no means noted for his
!unctuality, even two or three do2en shirts and collars !roved insufficient for me.
-ollars had to be changed daily and shirts, if not daily, at least every alternate day.
This meant a double e&!ense, which a!!eared to me unnecessary. So * e3ui!!ed
myself with a washing outfit to save it. * bought a boo# on washing, studied the art
and taught it also to my wife. This no doubt added to my wor#, but its novelty made
it a !leasure.
* shall never forget the first collar that * washed myself. * had used more starch than
necessary, the iron had not been made hot enough, and for fear of burning the collar *
had not !ressed it sufficiently. The result was that, though the collar was fairly stiff,
the su!erfluous starch continually dro!!ed off it. * went to court with the collar on,
thus inviting the ridicule of brother barristers, but even in those days * could be
im!ervious to ridicule.
(5ell,( said *, (this is my first e&!eriment at washing my own collars and hence the
loose starch. But it does not trouble me, and then there is the advantage of !roviding
you with so much fun.(
(But surely there is no lac# of laundries here@( as#ed a friend.
(The laundry bill is very heavy,( said *. (The charge for washing a collar is almost as
much as its !rice, and even then there is the eternal de!endence on the washerman. *
!refer by far to wash my things myself.(
But * could not ma#e my friends a!!reciate the beauty of self/hel!. *n course of time *
became an e&!ert
washerman so far as my own wor# went, and my washing was by no means inferior to
laundry washing. My collars were no less stiff or shiny than others.
5hen Go#hale came to South 1frica, he had with him a scarf which was a gift from
Mahadeo Govind +anade. )e treasured the memento with the utmost care and used it
only on s!ecial occasions. ne such occasion was the ban3uet given in his honour by
the $ohannesburg *ndians. The scarf was creased and needed ironing. *t was not
!ossible to send it to the laundry and get it bac# in time. * offered to try my art.
(* can trust to your ca!acity as a lawyer, but not as a washerman,( said Go#haleC (5hat
if you should soil it@ "o you #now what it means to me @ (
5ith this he narrated, with much ,oy, the story of the gift. * still insisted, guaranteed
good wor#, got his !ermission to iron it, and won his certificate. 1fter that * did not
mind if the rest of the world refused me its certificate.
*n the same way, as * freed myself from slavery to the washerman, * threw off
de!endence on the barber. 1ll !eo!le who go to 6ngland learn there at least the art
of shaving, but none, to my #nowledge, learn to cut their own hair. * had to learn that
too. * once went to an 6nglish hair/cutter in Pretoria. )e contem!tuously refused to
cut my hair. * certainly felt hurt, but immediately !urchased a !air of cli!!ers and cut
my hair before the mirror. * succeeded more or less in cutting the front hair, but *
s!oiled the bac#. The friends in the court shoo# with laughter.
(5hat(s wrong with your hair, Gandhi@ +ats have been at it @ ( (%o. The white barber
would not condescend to touch my blac# hair,( said *, (so * !referred to cut it myself,
no matter how badly.(
The re!ly did not sur!rise the friends.
The barber was not at fault in having refused to cut my hair. There was every chance
of his losing his custom, if he should serve blac# men. 5e do not allow our barbers to
serve our untouchable brethren. * got the reward of this in South 1frica, not once, but
many times, and the conviction that it was the !unishment for our own sins saved me
from becoming angry.
The e&treme forms in which my !assion for self/hel! and sim!licity ultimately
e&!ressed itself will be described in their !ro!er !lace. The seed had been long sown.
*t only needed watering to ta#e root, to flower and to fructify, and the watering came
in due course.
THE B!ER ,AR
* must s#i! many other e&!eriences of the !eriod between 9:<F and 9:<< and come
straight to the Boer 5ar.
5hen the war was declared, my !ersonal sym!athies were all with the Boers, but *
believed then that * had yet no right, in such cases, to enforce my individual
convictions. * have minutely dealt with the inner struggle regarding this in my history
of the Satyagraha in South 1frica, and * must not re!eat the argument here. * invite
the curious to turn to those !ages. Suffice it to say that my loyalty to the British rule
drove me to !artici!ation with the British in that war. * felt that, if * demanded rights
as a British citi2en, it was also my duty, as such, to !artici!ate in the defence of the
British 6m!ire. * held then that *ndia could achieve her com!lete emanci!ation only
within and through the British 6m!ire. So * collected to gather as many comrades as
!ossible, and with very great difficulty got their services acce!ted as an ambulance
cor!s.
The average 6nglishman believed that the *ndian was a coward, inca!able of ta#ing
ris#s or loo#ing beyond his immediate self/interest. Many 6nglish friends, therefore,
threw cold water on my !lan. But "r. Booth su!!orted it whole/heartedly. )e trained
us in ambulance wor#. 5e secured medical certificates of fitness for service. Mr.
4aughton and the late Mr. 6scombe enthusiastically su!!orted the !lan, and we
a!!lied at last for service at the front. The Government than#fully ac#nowledged our
a!!lication, but said that our services were not then needed.
* would not rest satisfied, however with this refusal. Through the introduction of "r.
Booth, * called on the Bisho! of %atal. There were many -hristian *ndians in our cor!s.
The Bisho! was delighted with my !ro!osal and !romised to hel! us in getting our
services acce!ted. Time too was wor#ing with us. The Beer had shown more !luc#,
determination and bravery than had been e&!ected C and our services were ultimately
needed. ur cor!s was 9,9AA strong, with nearly EA leaders, 1bout three hundred
were free *ndians, and the rest indentured. "r. Booth was also with us, The cor!s
ac3uitted itself well. Though our wor# was to be outside the firing line, and though
we had the !rotection of the +ed -ross, we were as#ed at a critical moment to serve
within the firing line. The reservation had not been of our see#ing. The authorities did
not want us to be within the range of fire. The situation, however, was changed after
the re!ulse at S!ion Ko!, and General Buller sent the message that, though we were
not bound to ta#e the ris#, Government would be than#ful if we would do so and
fetch the wounded from the field. 5e had no hesitation, and so the action at S!ion
Ko! found us wor#ing within the firing line. "uring these days we had to march from
twenty to twenty/five miles a day, bearing the wounded on stretchers. 1mongst the
wounded we had the honour of carrying soldiers li#e General 5oodgate.
The cor!s was disbanded after si& wee#s( service. 1fter the reverses at S!ion Ko! and
.aal#ran2, the British -ommander/in/-hief abandoned the attem!t to relieve
4adysmith and other !laces by summary !rocedure, and decided to !roceed slowly,
awaiting reinforcements from 6ngland and *ndia.
ur humble wor# was at the moment much a!!lauded, and the *ndians( !restige was
enhanced. The news!a!ers !ublished laudatory rhymes with the refrain, (5e are sons
of 6m!ire after all.(
General Buller mentioned with a!!reciation the wor# of the cor!s in his des!atch,
and the leaders were awarded the 5ar Medal.
The *ndian community became better organi2ed. * got into closer touch with the
indentured *ndians. There came a greater awa#ening amongst them, and the feeling
that )indus, Musalmans, -hristians, Tamilians, Gu,aratis and Sindhis were all *ndians
and children of the same motherland too# dee! root amongst them. 6veryone
believed that the *ndians( grievances were now sure to be redressed. 1t the moment
the white man(s attitude seemed to be distinctly changed. The relations formed with
the whites during the war were of the sweetest. 5e had come in contact with
thousands of tommies. They were friendly with us and than#ful for being there to
serve them. * cannot forbear from recording a sweet reminiscence of how human
nature shows itself at its best in moments of trial. 5e were marching towards
-hievely -am! where 4ieutenant +oberts, the son of 4ord +oberts, had received a
mortal wound. ur cor!s had the honour of carrying the body from the field. *t was a
sultry day // the day of our march. 6veryone was thirsting for water. There was a tiny
broo# on the way where we could sla#e our thirst. But who was to drin# first @ 5e had
!ro!osed to come in after the tommies had finished. But they would not begin first
and urged us to do so, and for a while a !leasant com!etition went on for giving
!recedence to one another.
$ANITAR" RE%!RM AND %AMINE REIE%
*t has always been im!ossible for me to reconcile myself to any one member of the
bady !olitic remaining out of use. * have always been loath to hide or connive at the.
wea# !oints of the community or to !ress for its rights without having !urged it of its
blemishes. Therefore, ever since my settlement in %atal, * had been endeavouring to
clear the community of a charge that had been levelled against it, not without a
certain amount of truth. The charge had often been made that the *ndian was
slovenly in his habits and did not #ee! his house and surroundings clean. The !rinci!al
men of the community had, therefore, already begun to !ut their houses in order, but
house/to/house ins!ection was underta#en only when !lague was re!orted to be
imminent in "urban. This was done after consulting, and gaining the a!!roval of, the
city fathers, who had desired our co/o!eration. ur co/o!eration made wor# easier
for them and at the same time lessened our hardshi!s. 0or whenever there is an
outbrea# of e!idemics, the e&ecutive, as a general rule, get im!atient, ta#e e&cessive
measures and behave to such as may have incurred their dis!leasure with a heavy
hand. The community saved itself from this o!!ression by voluntarily ta#ing sanitary
measures.
But * had some bitter e&!eriences. * saw that * could not so easily count on the hel! of
the community in getting it to do its own duty, as * could in claiming for it rights. 1t
some !laces * met with insults, at others with !olite indifference. *t was too much for
!eo!le to bestir themselves to #ee! their surroundings clean. To e&!ect them to find
money for the wor# was out of the 3uestion. These e&!eriences taught me, better
than ever before, that without infinite !atience it was im!ossible to get the !eo!le to
do any wor#. *t is the reformer who is an&ious for the reform, and not society, from
which he should e&!ect nothing better than o!!osition, abhorrence and even mortal
!ersecution. 5hy may not society regard as retrogression what the reformer holds
dear as life itself @
%evertheless the result of this agitation was that the *ndian community learnt to
recogni2e more or less the necessity for #ee!ing their houses and environments clean.
* gained the esteem of the authorities. They saw that, though * had made it my
business to ventilate grievances and !ress for rights, * was no less #een and insistent
u!on self/!urification.
There was one thing, however, which still remained to be done, namely, the
awa#ening in the *ndian settler of a sense of duty to the motherland. *ndia was !oor,
the *ndian settler went to South 1frica in search of wealth, and he was bound to
contribute !art of his earnings for the benefit of his countrymen in the hour of their
adversity. This the settler did during the terrible famines of 9:<F and 9:<<. They
contributed handsomely for famine relief, and more so in 9:<< than in 9:<F. 5e had
a!!ealed to 6nglishmen also for funds, and they had res!onded well. 6ven the
indentured *ndians gave their share to the contribution, and the system inaugurated
at the time of these famines has been continued ever since, and we #now that *ndians
in South 1frica never fail to send handsome contributions to *ndia in times of national
calamity.
Thus service of the *ndians in South 1frica ever revealed to me new im!lications of
truth at every stage. Truth is li#e a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the
more you nurture it. The dee!er the search in the mine of truth the richer the
discovery of the gems buried there, in the sha!e of o!enings for an ever greater
variety of service.
RET#RN T! INDIA
n my relief from war/duty * felt that my wor# was no longer in South 1frica but in
*ndia. %ot that there was nothing to be done in South 1frica, but * was afraid that my
main business might become merely money/ma#ing. 0riends at home were also
!ressing me to return, and * felt that * should be be of more service in *ndia. 1nd for
the wor# in South 1frica, there were, of course, Messrs Khan and Mansu#hlal %aa2ar.
So * re3uested my cowor#ers to relieve me. 1fter very great difficulty my re3uest was
conditionally acce!ted, the condition being that * should be ready to go bac# to South
1frica if, within a year, the community should need me. * thought it was a difficult
condition but the love that bound me to the community made me acce!t it. (The 4ord
has bound me 5ith the cotton/thread of love, * am )is bondslave,( sang Mirabai. 1nd
for me, too, the cotton/thread of love that bound me to the community was too
strong to brea#. The voice of the !eo!le is the voice of God, and here the voice of
friends was too real to be re,ected. * acce!ted the condition and got their !ermission
to go.
1t this time * was intimately connected only with %atal. The %atal *ndians bathed me
with the nectar of love. 0arewell meetings were arranged at every !lace, and costly
gifts were !resented to me.
Gifts had been bestowed on me before when * returned to *ndia in 9:<<, but this time
the farewell was overwhelming. The gifts of course included things in gold and silver,
but there were articles of costly diamond as well.
5hat right had * to acce!t all these gifts @ 1cce!ting them, how could * !ersuade
myself that * was serving the community without remuneration @ 199 the gifts,
e&ce!ting a few from my clients, were !urely for my service to the community, and *
could ma#e no difference between my clients and co/wor#ersC for the clients also
hel!ed me in my !ublic wor#.
ne of the gifts was a gold nec#laceMworth fifty guineas, meant for my wife. But even
that gift was given because of my !ublic wor#, and so it could not be se!arated from
the rest.
The evening * was !resented with the bul# of these things * had a slee!less night. *
wal#ed u! and down my room dee!ly agitated, but could find no solution. *t was
difficult for me to forego gifts worth hundreds, it was more difficult to #ee! them.
1nd even if * could #ee! them , what about my children @ 5hat about my wife@ They
were being trained to a life of service and to an understanding that service was its
own reward.
* had no costly ornaments in the house. 5e had been fast sim!lifying our life )ow
then could we afford to have gold watches@ )ow could we afford to wear gold chains
and diamond rings@ 6ven then * was e&horting !eo!le to con3uer the infatuation for
,ewellery. 5hat was * now to do with the ,ewellery that had come u!on me @
* decided that * could not #ee! these things. * drafted a letter, creating a trust of
them in favour of the community and a!!ointing Parsi +ustom,i and others trustees. *n
the morning * held a consultation with my wife and children and finally go rid of the
heavy incubus.
* #new that * should have some difficulty in !ersuading my wife, and * was sure that *
should have none so far as the children were concerned. So * decided to constitute
them my attorneys.
The children readily agreed to my !ro!osal. (5e do not need these costly !resents, we
must return them to the community, and should we ever need them, we could easily
!urchase them,( they said.
* was delighted.( Then you will !lead with mother won(t you @ ( * as#ed them.
(-ertainly,( said they. (That is our business. She did not need to wear the ornaments.
She would want to #ee! them for us, and if we don(t want them, why should she not
agree to !art with them @(
But it was easier said than done.
(=ou may not need them,( said my wife. ( =our children may not need them. -a,oled
they will dance to your tune. * can understand your not !ermitting me to wear them.
But what about my daughters/in/law@ They will be sure to need them. 1nd who #nows
what will ha!!en tomorrow @ * would be the last !erson to !art with gifts so lovingly
given.(
1nd thus the torrent of argument went on, reinforced, in the end, by tears. But the
children were adamant. 1nd * was unmoved.
* mildly !ut in' (The children have yet to get married. 5e do not want to see them
married young. 5hen they are grown u!, they can ta#e care of themselves. 1nd surely
we shall not have, for our sons, brides who are fond of ornaments. 1nd if after all, we
need to !rovide them with ornaments, * am there. =ou will as# me then.( (1s# you @ *
#now you by this time. =ou de!rived me of my ornaments, you would not leave me in
!eace with them. 0ancy you offering to get ornaments for the daughters/in/law B =ou
who are trying to ma#e sadhus of my boys from today B %o, the ornaments will not be
returned. 1nd !ray what right have you to my nec#lace @ (
(But,( * re,oined,( is the nec#lace given you for your service or for my service @(
(* agree. But service rendered by you is as good as rendered by me. * have toiled and
moiled for you day and night. *s that no service @ =ou forced all and sundry on me,
ma#ing me wee! bitter tears, and * slaved for them B(
These were !ointed thrusts, and some of them went home. But * was determined to
return the ornaments. * somehow succeeded in e&torting a consent from her. The gifts
received in 9:<; and 9<A9 were all returned. 1 trust/deed was !re!ared, and they
were de!osited with a ban#, to be used for the service of the community, according
to my wishes or to those of the trustees.
ften, when * was in need of funds for !ublic !ur!oses, and felt that * must draw
u!on the trust, * have been able to raise the re3uisite amount, leaving the trust
money intact. The fund is still there, being o!erated u!on in times of need, and it has
regularly accumulated.
* have never since regretted the ste!, and as the years have gone by, my wife has also
seen its wisdom. *t has saved us from many tem!tations.
* am definitely of o!inion that a !ublic wor#er should acce!t no costly gifts.
IN INDIA AGAIN
So * sailed for home. Mauritius was one of the !orts of call, and as the boat made a
long halt there, * went ashore and ac3uainted myself fairly well with the local
conditions. 0or one night * was the guest of Sir -harles Bruce, the Governor of the
-olony.
1fter reaching *ndia * s!ent some time in going about the country. *t was the year
9<A9 when the -ongress met at -alcutta under the !residentshi! of Mr. >later Sir?
"inshaw 5acha. 1nd * of course attended it. *t was my first e&!erience of the
-ongress. 0rom Bombay * travelled in the same train as Sir Phero2eshah Mehta, as *
had to s!ea# to him about conditions in South 1frica. * #new the #ingly style in which
he lived. )e had engaged a s!ecial saloon for himself, and * had orders to ta#e my
o!!ortunity of s!ea#ing to him by travelling in his saloon for one stage. *, therefore,
went to the saloon and re!orted myself at the a!!ointed station. 5ith him were Mr.
5acha, and Mr. >now Sir? -himanlal Setalvad. They were discussing !olitics. 1s soon as
Sir Phero2eshah saw me, he said, (Gandhi, it seems nothing can be done for you. f
course we will !ass the resolution you want. But what rights have we in our own
country@ * believe that, so long as we have no !ower in our own land, you cannot fare
better in the -olonies.( * was ta#en abac#. Mr. Setalvad seemed to concur in the viewC
MrQ 5acha cast a !athetic loo# at me. * tried to !lead with Sir Phero2eshah, but it was
out of the 3uestion for one li#e me to !revail u!on the uncrowned #ing of Bombay. *
contented myself with the fact that * should be allowed to move my resolution. =ou
will of course show me the resolution,( said Mr. 5acha, to cheer me u!. * than#ed him
and left them at the ne&t sto!. So we reached -alcutta. The President was ta#en to
his cam! with great eclat by the +ece!tion -ommittee. * as#ed a volunteer where *
was to go. )e too# me to the +i!en -ollege, where a number of delegates were being
!ut u!. 0ortune favoured meQ 4o#amanya was !ut u! in the same bloc# as *. * have a
recollection that he came a day later. 1nd as was natural, 4o#amanya would never be
without his darbar. 5ere * a !ainter, * could !aint him as * saw him seated on his bed
// so vivid is the whole scene in my memory. f the numberless !eo!le that called on
him, * can recollect today only one, namely the late Babu Motilal Ghose, editor of the
Amrita Ba)ar Patrika. Their loud laughter and their tal#s about the wrong/doings of
the ruling race cannot be forgottenQ But * !ro!ose to e&amine in some detail the
a!!ointments in this cam!. The volunteers were clashing against one another. =ou
as#ed one of them to do somethingQ )e delegated it to another, and he in his turn to a
third, and so onC and as for the delegates, they were neither here nor there. * made
friends with a few volunteers. * told them some things about South 1frica, and they
felt somewhat ashamed. * tried to bring home to them the secret of service. They
seemed to understand, but service is no mushroom growth. *t !resu!!oses the will
first, and then e&!erienceQ There was no lac# of will on the !art of those good sim!le/
hearted young men, but their e&!erience was nil. The -ongress would meet three
days every year and then go to slee!. 5hat training could one have out of a three
days( show once a year @ 1nd the delegates were of a !iece with the volunteers. They
had no better or longer training. They would do nothing themselves. (.olunteer, do
this,( (.olunteer, do that,( were their constant orders. 6ven here * was face to face
with untouchability in a fair, measure. The Tamilian #itchen was far away from the
rest. To the Tamil delegates even the sight of others, whilst they were dining, meant
!ollution. So a s!ecial #itchen had to be made for them in the -ollege com!ound,
walled in by wic#er/wor#. *t was full of smo#e which cho#ed you. *t was a #itchen,
dining room, washroom, all in one // a close safe with no outlet. To me this loo#ed
li#e a travesty of *arnadharma.( *f, * said to myself, there was such untouchability
between the delegates of the -ongress, one could well imagine the e&tent to which it
e&isted amongst their constituents. * heaved a sigh at the thought. There was no limit
to insanitation. Pools of water were everywhere. There were only a few latrines, and
the recollection of their stin# still o!!resses me. * !ointed it out to the volunteers.
They said !ointblan#' (That is not our wor#, it is the scavenger(s wor#.( * as#ed for a
broom. The man stared at me in wonder. * !rocured one and cleaned the latrine. But
that was for myself. The rush was so great, and the latrines were so few, that they
needed fre3uent cleaningC but that was more than * could do. So * had to content
myself with sim!ly ministering to myself. 1nd the others did not seem to mind the
stench and the dirt. But that was not all. Some of the delegates did not scru!le to use
the verandahs outside their rooms for calls of nature at night. *n the morning *
!ointed out the s!ots to the volunteers. %o one was ready to underta#e the cleaning,
and * found no one to share the honour with me of doing it. -onditions have since
considerably im!roved, but even today thoughtless delegates are not wanting who
disfigure the -ongress cam! by committing nuisance wherever they choose, and all
the volunteers are not always ready to clean u! after them. * saw that, if the
-ongress session were to be !rolonged, conditions would be 3uite favourable for the
outbrea# of an e!idemic.
CERK AND BEARER
There were yet two days for the -ongress session to begin. * had made u! my mind to
offer my services to the -ongress office in order to gain some e&!erience. So as soon
as * had finished the daily ablutions on arrival at -alcutta, * !roceeded to the
-ongress office.
Babu Bhu!endranath Basu and S,t. Ghosal were the secretaries. * went to Bhu!enbabu
and offered my services. )e loo#ed at me, and said' (* have no wor#, but !ossibly
Ghosalbabu might have something to give you. Please go to him.(
So * went to him. )e scanned me and said with a smile' (* can give you only clerical
wor#. 5ill you do it@(
(-ertainly,( said *. ( * am here to do anything that is not beyond my ca!acity.(
(That is the right s!irit, young man,( he said. 1ddressing the volunteers who
surrounded him, he added, ("o you hear what this young man says@(
Then turning to me he !roceeded' (5ell then, here is a hea! of letters for dis!osal.
Ta#e that chair and begin. 1s you see, hundreds of !eo!le come to see me. 5hat am *
to do@ 1m * to meet them, or am * to answer these busybodies inundating me with
letters@ * have no cler#s to whom * can entrust this wor#. Most of these letters have
nothing in them, but you will !lease loo# them through. 1c#nowledge those that are
worth it, and refer to me those that need a considered re!ly.(
* was delighted at the confidence re!osed in me.
S,t. Ghosal did not #now me when he gave me the wor#. nly later did he en3uire
about my credentials.
* found my wor# very easy / the dis!osal of that hea! of corres!ondence. * had done
with it in no time, and S,t. Ghosal was very glad. )e was tal#ative. )e would tal#
away for hours together. 5hen he learnt something from me about my history, he felt
rather sorry to have given me clerical wor#. But * reassured him' (Please don(t worry.
5hat am * before you@ =ou have grown gray in the service of the -ongress, and are as
an elder to me. * am but an ine&!erienced youth. =ou have !ut me under a debt of
obligation by entrusting me with this wor#. 0or * want to do -ongress wor#, and you
have given me the rare o!!ortunity of understanding the details.(
(To tell you the truth,( said S,t. Ghosal, (that is the !ro!er s!irit. But young men of
today do not reali2e it. f course * have #nown the -ongress since its birth. *n fact *
may claim a certain share with Mr. )ume in bringing the -ongress into being.(
1nd thus we became good friends. )e insisted on my having lunch with him.
S,t. Ghosal used to get his shirt buttoned by his bearer. * volunteered to do the
bearer(s duty, and * loved to do it, as my regard for elders was always great. 5hen he
came to #now this, he did not mind my doing little acts of !ersonal service for him. *n
fact he was delighted. 1s#ing me to button his shirt, he would say, (=ou see, now, the
-ongress secretary has no time even to button his shirt. )e has always some wor# to
do.( S,t. Ghosal(s naivete amused me, but did not create any disli#e in me for service
of that nature. The benefit * received from this service in incalculable.
*n a few days * came to #now the wor#ing of the -ongress. * met most of the leaders. *
observed the movements of stalwarts li#e Go#hale and Surendranath. * also noticed
the huge waste of time there. * observed too, with sorrow even then, the !rominent
!lace that the 6nglish language occu!ied in our affairs. There was little regard for
economy of energy. More than one did the wor# of one, and many an im!ortant thing
was no one(s business at all.
-ritical as my mind was in observing these things, there was enough charity in me,
and so * always thought that it might, after all, be im!ossible to do better in the
circumstances, and that saved me from undervaluing any wor#.
IN THE C!NGRE$$
*n the -ongress at last. The immense !avilion and the volunteers in stately array, as
also the elders seated on the dais, overwhelmed me. * wondered where * should be in
that vast assemblage.
The !residential address was a boo# by itself. To read it from cover to cover was out
of the 3uestion. nly a few !assages were therefore read.
1fter this came the election of the Sub,ects -ommittee. Go#hale too# me to the
-ommittee meetings.
Sir Phero2eshah had of course agreed to admit my resolution, but * was wondering
who would !ut it before the Sub,ects -ommittee, and when. 0or there were lengthy
s!eeches to every resolution, all in 6nglish to boot, and every resolution had some
well/#nown leader to bac# it. Mine was but a feeble !i!e amongst those veteran
drums, and as the night was closing in, my heart beat fast. The resolutions coming at
the fag/ end were, so far as * can recollect, rushed through at lighting s!eed.
6veryone was hurrying to go. *t was 99 o(cloc#. * had not the courage to s!ea#. * had
already met Go#hale, who had loo#ed at my resolution. So * drew near his chair and
whis!ered to him' (Please do something for me.( )e said' (=our resolution is not out of
my mind. =ou see the way they are rushing through the resolutions. But * will not
allow yours to be !assed over.(
(So we have done@( said Sir Phero2eshah Mehta.
(%o, no, there is still the resolution on South 1frica. Mr. Gandhi has been waiting long,(
cried out Go#hale.
()ave you seen the resolution@( as#ed Sir Phero2eshah.
(f course.(
("o you li#e it@(
(*t is 3uite good.(
(5ell then, let us have it, Gandhi.(
* read it trembling.
Go#hale su!!orted it.
(Unanimously !assed,( cried out everyone.
(=ou will have five minutes to s!ea# to it Gandhi,( said Mr. 5acha.
The !rocedure was far from !leasing to me. %o one had troubled to understand the
resolution, everyone was in a hurry to go and, because Go#hale had seen the
resolution, it was not thought necessary for the rest to see it or understand itB
The morning found me worrying about my s!eech. 5hat was * to say in five minutes@ *
had !re!ared myself fairly well but the words would not come to me. * had decided
not to read my s!eech but to s!ea# e, tempre. But the facility for s!ea#ing that *
had ac3uired in South 1frica seemed to have left me for the moment.
1s soon as it was time for my resolution, Mr. 5acha called out my name. * stood u!.
My head was reeling. * read the resolution somehow. Someone had !rinted and
distributed amongst the delegates co!ies of a !oem he had written in !raise of
foreign emigration. * read the !oem and referred to the grievances of the settlers in
South 1frica. $ust at this moment Mr. 5acha rang the bell. * was sure * had not yet
s!o#en for five minutes. * did not #now that the bell was rung in order to warn me to
finish in two minutes more. * had heard others s!ea# for half an hour or three
3uarters of an hour, and yet no bell was rung for them. * felt hurt and sat down as
soon as the bell was rung. But my childli#e intellect thought then that the !oem
contained an answer to Sir Phero2eshah. There was no 3uestion about the !assing of
the resolution. *n those days there was hardly any difference between visitors and
delegates. 6veryone raised his hand and all resolutions !assed unanimously. My
resolution also fared in this wise and so lost all its im!ortance for me. 1nd yet the
very fact that it was !assed by the -ongress was enough to delight my heart, The
#nowledge that the imprimatur of the -ongress meant that of the whole country was
enough to delight anyone.
!RD C#R1!N&$ DARBAR
The -ongress was over, but as * had to meet the -hamber of -ommerce and various
!eo!le in connection with wor# in South 1frica, * stayed in -alcutta for a month.
+ather than stay this time in a hotel, * arranged to get the re3uired introduction for a
room in the *ndia -lub. 1mong its members were some !rominent *ndians, and *
loo#ed forward to getting into touch with them and interesting them in the wor# in
South 1frica. Go#hale fre3uently went to this -lub to !lay billiards, and when he
#new that * was to stay in -alcutta for some time, he invited me to stay with him, *
than#fully acce!ted the invitation, but did not thin# it !ro!er to go there by myself.
)e waited for a day or two and then too# me !ersonally. )e discovered my reserve
and said' (Gandhi, you have to stay in the country, and this sort of reserve will not do.
=ou must get into touch with as many !eo!le as !ossible. * want you to do -ongress
wor#.(
* shall record here an incident in the *ndia -lub, before * !roceed to tal# of my stay
with Go#hale.
4ord -ur2on held his darbar about this time. Some +a,as and Mahara,as who had been
invited to the darbar were members of the -lub. *n the -lub * always found them
wearing fine Bengalee dhtis and shirts and scarves. n the darbar day they !ut on
trousers befitting khansamas and shining boots. * was !ained and in3uired of one of
them the reason for the change.
(5e alone #now our unfortunate condition. 5e alone #now the insults we have to !ut
u! with, in order that we may !ossess our wealth and titles,( he re!lied.
(But what about these khansama turbans and these shining boots@( * as#ed.
("o you see any difference between khansamas and us@( he re!lied, and added, (they
are our khansamas, we are 4ord -ru2on(s khansamas. *f * were to absent myself from
the levee, * should have to suffer the conse3uences. *f * were to attend it in my usual
dress, it would be an offence. 1nd do you thin# * am going to get any o!!ortunity
there of tal#ing to 4ord -ur2on@ %ot a bit of itB(
* was moved to !ity for this !lains!o#en friend.
This reminds me of another darbar.
1t the time when 4ord )ardinge laid the foundation stone of the )indu University,
there was a darbar. There were +a,as and Mahara,as of course, but Pandit Malaviya,i
s!ecially invited me also to attend it, and * did so.
* was distressed to see the Mahara,as bedec#ed li#e women / sil# pyjamas and sil#
achkans, !earl nec#laces round their nec#s, bracelets on their wrists, !earl and
diamond tassels on their turbans and besides all this swords with golden hilts hanging
from their waist/bands.
* discovered that these were insignia not of their royalty, but of their slavery. * had
thought that they must be wearing these badges of im!otence of their own free will,
but * was told that it was obligatory for these +a,as to wear all their costly ,ewels at
such functions. * also gathered that some of them had a !ositive disli#e for wearing
these ,ewels, and that they never wore them e&ce!t on occasions li#e the darbar.
* do not #now how far my information was correct. But whether they wear them on
other occasions or not, it is distressing enough to have to attend viceregal darbars in
,ewels that only some women wear.
)ow heavy is the toll of sins and wrongs that wealth, !ower and !restige e&act from
manB
A M!NTH ,ITH G!KHAE -- I
0rom the very first day of my stay with him Go#hale made me feel com!letely at
home. )e treated me as though * were his younger brother, he ac3uainted himself
with all my re3uirements and arranged to see that * got all * needed. 0ortunately my
wants were few, and * had cultivated the habit of self/hel!, * needed very little
!ersonal attendance. )e was dee!ly im!ressed with my habit of fending for myself,
my !ersonal cleanliness, !erseverance and regularity, and would often overwhelm me
with !raise.
)e seemed to #ee! nothing !rivate from me. )e would introduce me to all the
im!ortant !eo!le that called on him. f these the one who stands foremost in my
memory is "r. >now Sir? P. -. +ay. )e lived !ractically ne&t door and was a very
fre3uent visitor.
This is how he introduced "r. +ay' (This is Prof. +ay who having a monthly salary of +s.
:AA, #ee!s ,ust +s. EA for himself and devotes the balance to !ublic !ur!oses. )e is
not, and does not want to get, married.
* see little difference between "r. +ay as he is today and as he used to be then. )is
dress used to be nearly as sim!le as it is, with this difference of course that whereas
it is Khadi now, it used to be *ndian mill/cloth in those days. * felt * could never hear
too much of the tal#s between Go#hale and "r. +ay, as they all !ertained to !ublic
good or were of educative value. 1t times they were !ainful too, containing as they
did, strictures on !ublic men. 1s a result, some of those whom * had regarded as
stalwart fighters began to loo# 3uite !uny.
To see Go#hale at wor# was as much a ,oy as an education. )e never wasted a
minute. )is !rivate relations and friendshi!s were all for !ublic good. 1ll his tal#s had
reference only to the good of the country and were absolutely free from any trace of
untruth or insincerity. *ndia(s !overty and sub,ection were matters of constant and
intense concern to him. .arious !eo!le sought to interest him in different things. But
he gave every one of them the same re!ly' (=ou do the thing yourself. 4et me do my
own wor#. 5hat * want is freedom for my country. 1fter that is won, we can thin# of
other things. Today that one thing is enough to engage all my time and energy.(
)is reverence for +anade could be seen every moment. +anade(s authority was final in
every matter, and he would cite it at every ste!. The anniversary of +anade(s death
>or birth, * forget which? occurred during my stay with Go#hale, who observed it
regularly. There were with him then, besides myself, his friends Prof. Kathavate and a
Sub/$udge. )e invited us to ta#e !art in the celebration, and in his s!eech he gave us
his reminiscences of +anade. )e com!ared incidentally +anade, Telang and Mandli#.
)e eulogi2ed Telang(s charming style and Mandli#(s greatness as a reformer. -iting an
instance of Mandli#(s solicitude for his clients, he told us an anecdote as to how once,
having missed his usual train, he engaged a s!ecial train so as to be able to attend the
court in the interest of his client. But +anade, he said, towered above them all, as a
versatile genius. )e was not only a great ,udge, he was an e3ually great historian, an
economist and reformer. 1lthough he was a ,udge, he fearlessly attended the
-ongress, and everyone had such confidence in his sagacity that they un3uestioningly
acce!ted his decisions. Go#hale(s ,oy #new no bounds, as he described these 3ualities
of head and heart which were all combined in his master.
Go#hale used to have a horse/carriage in those days. * did not #now the circumstances
that had made a horse/carriage a necessity for him, and so * remonstrated with him'
(-an(t you ma#e use of the tramcar in going about from !lace to !lace@ is it derogatory
to a leader(s dignity@(
Slightly !ained he said, (So you also have failed to understand meB * do not use my
-ouncil allowances for my own !ersonal comforts. * envy your liberty to go about in
tramcars, but * am sorry * cannot do li#ewise. 5hen you are the victim of as wide a
!ublicity as * am, it will be difficult, if not im!ossible, for you to go about in a
tramcar. There is no reason to su!!ose that everything that the leaders do is with a
view to !ersonal comfort. * love your sim!le habits. * live as sim!ly as * can, but some
e&!ense is almost inevitable for a man li#e myself.(
)e thus satisfactorily dis!osed of one of my com!laints, but there was another which
he could not dis!ose of to my satisfaction.
(But you do not even go out for wal#s,( said *. (*s it sur!rising that you should be always
ailing@ Should !ublic wor# leave no time for !hysical e&ercise@(
(5hen do you ever find me free to go out for a wal#@( he re!lied.
* had such a great regard for Go#hale that * never strove with him. Though this re!ly
was far from satisfying me, * remained silent. * believed then and * believe even now,
that, no matter what amount of wor# one has, one should always find some time
e&ercise, ,ust as one does for one(s meals. *t is my humble o!inion that, far from
ta#ing away from one(s ca!acity for wor#, it adds to it.
A M!NTH ,ITH G!KHAE -- II
5hilst living under Go#hlae(s roof * was far from being a stay/at/ home.
* had told my -hristian friends in South 1frica that in *ndia * would meet the -hristian
*ndians and ac3uint myself with their condition. * had heard of Babu Kalicharan
Baner,i and held him in high regard. )e too# a !rominent !art in the -ongress, and *
had none of the misgivings about him that * had about the average -hristian *ndian,
who stood aloof from the -ongress and isolated himself from )indus and Musalmans. *
told Go#hale that * was thin#ing of meeting him. )e said' (5hat is good of your seeing
him@ )e is a very good man, but * am afraid he will not satisfy you. * #now him very
well. )owever, you can certainly meet him if you li#e@.(
* sought an a!!ointment, which he readly gave me. 5hen * went, * found that his wife
was on her death/bed. )is house was sim!le. *n the -ongress * had seen him in a coat
and trusers, but * was glad to find him now wearing a Bengal PdhotiP and shirt. * li#ed
his sim!le mode of dress, though * myself then wore a Parsi coat and trousers.
5ithout much ado * !resented my difficulties to him. )e as#ed' (" you believe in the
doctrine of original sin@(
(* do,( said *.
(5ell then, )induism offers no absolution therefrom, -hristianity does, and added'
The wages of sin is death, and the Bible says that the only way of deliverance is
surrender unto $esus.(
* !ut forward PBha#ti/margaP >the !ath of devotion? of the PBhagavadgitaP, but to no
avail. * than#ed him for his goodness. )e failed to satisfy me, but * benefited by the
interview.
"uring these days * wal#ed u! and down the streets of -alcutta. * went to most !laces
on foot. * met $ustice Mitter and Sir Gurdas Baner,i, whose hel! * wanted in my wor#
in South 1frica. 1nd about this time * met +a,a Sir Pyarimohan Mu#ar,i.
Kalicharan Baner,i had s!o#en to me about the Kali tem!le, which * was eager to see,
es!ecially as * had read about it in boo#s. So * went there one day, $ustice Mitter(s
house was in the same locality, and * therefore went to the tem!le on the same day
that * visited him. n the way * saw a stream of shee! going to be sacrificed to #ali.
+ows of beggars lined the lane leading to the tem!le. There were religious
mendicants too, and even in those days * was sternly o!!osed to giving alms to sturdy
beggars. 1 crowd of them !ursued me. ne of such men was found seated on a
verandah. )e sto!!ed me, and accosted me' (5hither are you going, my boy@( * re!lied
to him.
)e as#ed my com!anion and me to sit down, which we did.
* as#ed him' ("o you regard this sacrifice as religion@(
(5ho would regard #illing of animals as religion@(
(Then, why don(t you !reach against it@(
(That(s not my business. ur business is to worshi! God.(
(But could you not find any other !lace in which to worshi! God@(
(1ll !laces are e3ually good for us. The !eo!le are li#e a floc# of shee!, following
where leaders lead them. *t is no business of us PsadhusP.(
5e did not !rolong the discussion but !assed on to the tem!le. 5e were greeted by
rivers of blood. * could not bear to stand there. * was e&as!erated and restless. i have
never forgotten that sight.
That very evening * had an invitation to dinner at a !arty of Bengali friends. There *
s!o#e to a friend about this cruel form of worshi!. )e said' (The shee! don(t feel
anything. The noise and the drum/ beating there deaden all sensation of !ain.(
* could not swallow this. * told him that, if the shee! had s!eech, they would tell a
different tale. * felt that the cruel custom ought to be sto!!ed. * thought of the story
of Buddha, but * also saw that the tas# was beyond my ca!acity.
* hold today the o!inion as * held then. To my mind the life of a lamb is no less
!recious than that of a human being. * should be unwilling to ta#e the life of a lamb
for the sa#e of the human body. * hold that, the more hel!less a creature, the more
entitled it s to !rotection by man from the cruelty of man. But he who has not
3ualified himself for such service is unable to afford to it any !rotection. * must go
through more self/!urification and sacrifice. before * can ho!e to save these lambs
from this unholy sacrifice. Today * thin# * must die !ining for this self/!urifiacation
and sacrifice. *t is my constant !rayer that there may be born on earth some great
that there may be born on earth some great s!irit, man or woman, fired with divine
!ity, who will deliver us from this heinous sin, save the lives of the innocent
creatures, and !urify the tem!le. )ow is it that Bengal with all its #nowledge,
intelligence, sacrifice, and emotion tolerates this slaughter@
A M!NTH ,ITH G!KHAE -- III
The terrible sacrifice offered to Kali in the name of religion enhanced my desire to
#now Bengali life. * had read and heard a good deal about the Brahmo Sama,. * #new
something about the life of Prata! -handra Ma2umdar. * had attended some of the
meetings addressed by him. * secured his life of Keshav -handra Sen, read it with
great interest, and understood the distinction between Sadharan Brahmo Sama,, and
1di Brahmo Sama,. * met Pandit Shivanath Shastri and in com!any with Prof.
Kathavate went to see Maharshi "evendranath Tagore, but as no interviews with him
were allowed then, we could not see him. 5e were, however, invited to a celebration
of the Brahmo Sama, held at his !lace, and there we had the !rivilege of listening to
fine Bengali music. 6ver since * have been a lover of Bengali music.
)aving seen enough of the Brahmo Sama,, it was im!ossible to be satisfied without
seeing Swami .ive#anand. So with great enthusiasm * went to Belur Math, mostly, or
maybe all the way, on foot. * loved the se3uestered site of the Math. * was
disa!!ointed and sorry to be told that the Swami was at his -alcutta house, lying ill,
and could not be seen.
* then ascertained the !lace of residence of Sister %ivedita, and met her in a
-howringhee mansion. * was ta#en abac# by the s!lendour that surrounded her, and
even in our conversation there was not much meeting ground. * s!o#e to Go#hale
about this, and he said he did not wonder that there could be no !oint of contact
between me and a volatile !erson li#e her.
* met her again at Mr. Peston,i Padshah(s !lace. * ha!!ened to come in ,ust as she was
tal#ing to his old mother, and so * became an inter!reter between the two. *n s!ite of
my failure to find any agreement with her, * could not but notice and admire her
overflowing love for )induism. * came to #now of her boo#s later.
* used to divide my day between seeing the leading !eo!le in -alcutta regarding the
wor# in South 1frica, and visiting and studying the religious and !ublic institutions of
the city. * once addressed a meeting, !resided over by "r. Mullic#, on the wor# of the
*ndian 1mbulance -or!s in the Boer 5ar. My ac3uaintance with PThe 6nglishmanP
stood me in good stead on this occasion too. Mr. Saunders was ill then, but rendered
me as much hel! as in 9:<;. Go#hale li#ed this s!eech of mine, and he was very glad
to hear "r. +ay !raising it.
Thus my stay under the roof of Go#hale made my wor# in -alcutta very easy, brought
me into touch with the foremost Bengali families, and was the beginning of my
intimate contact with Bengal.
* must needs s#i! over many a reminiscence of this memorable month. 4et me sim!ly
mention my flying visit to Burma, and the PfoongisP there. * was !ained by their
lethargy. * saw the golden !agoda. * did not li#e the innumerable little candles burning
in the tem!le, and the rats running about the sanctum brought to my mind thoughts
of Swami "ayanand(s e&!erience at Morvi. The freedom and energy of the Burmese
women charmed ,ust as the indolence of the men !ained me. * also saw, during my
brief so,ourn, that ,ust as Bombay was not *ndia, +angoon was not Burma, and that
,ust as we in *ndia have become commission agents of 6nglish merchants, even so in
Burma have we combined with the 6nglish merchants, in ma#ing the Burmese !eo!le
our commission agents.
n my return from Burma * too# leave of Go#hale. The se!aration was a wrench, but
my wor# in Bengal, or rather -alcutta, was finished, and * had no occasion to stay any
longer.
Before settling down * had thought of ma#ing a tour through *ndia travelling third
class, and of ac3uainting myself with the hardshi!s of third class !assengers. * s!o#e
to Go#hale about this. To begin with he ridiculed the idea, but when * e&!lained to
him what * ho!ed to see, he cheerfully a!!roved. * !lanned to go first to Benares to
!ay my res!ects to Mrs. Besant, who was then ill.
*t was necessary to e3ui! myself anew for the third class tour. Go#hale himself gave
me a metal tiffin/bo& and got it filled with sweetballs and P!urisP. * !urchased a
canvas bag worth twelve annas and a long coat made of -hhaya wool. The bag was to
contain this coat, a PdhotiP, a towel and a shirt. * had a blan#et as well to cover
myself with and a water ,ug. Thus e3ui!!ed * set forth on my travels, Go#hlae and "r.
+ay came to the station to see me off. * had as#ed them both not to trouble to come,
but they insisted. 7* should not have come if you had gone first class, but now * had
to,( said Go#hale.
%o one sto!!ed Go#hale from going on to the !latform. )e was in his sil# turban,
,ac#et and PdhotiP. "r. +ay was in his Bengali dress. )e was sto!!ed by the tic#et
collector, but on Go#hale telling him that he was his friend, he was admitted.
Thus with their good wishes * started on my ,ourney.
IN BENARE$
The ,ourney was from -alcutta to +a,#ot, and * !lanned to halt at Benares, 1gra,
$ai!ur and Palan!ur en rute. * had not the time to see any more !laces than these.
*n each city * stayed one day and !ut u! in dharmashalas or with pandas li#e the
ordinary !ilgrims, e&ce!ting at Palan!ur. So far as * can remember, * did not s!end
more than +s. D9 >including the train fare? on this ,ourney.
*n travelling third class * mostly !referred the ordinary to the mail trains, as * #new
that the latter were more crowded and the fares in them higher.
The third class com!artments are !ractically as dirty, and the closet arrangements as
bad, today as they were then, There may be a little im!rovement now, but the
difference between the facilities !rovided for the first and the third classes is out of
all !ro!ortion to the difference between the fares for the two classes. Third class
!assengers are treated li#e shee! and their comforts are shee!(s comforts. *n 6uro!e *
travelled third and only once first, ,ust to see what it was li#e but there * noticed no
such difference between the first and the third classes. *n South 1frica class comforts
are better there than here. *n !arts of South 1frica third class com!artments are
!rovided with slee!ing accommodation and cushioned seats. The accommodation is
also regulated, so as to !revent overcrowding, whereas here * have found the
regulation limit usually e&ceeded.
The indifference of the railway authorities to the comforts of the third class
!assengers, combined with the dirty and inconsiderate habits of the !assengers
themselves, ma#es third class travelling a trial for a !assenger of cleanly ways. These
un!leasant habits commonly include throwing of rubbish on the floor of the
com!artment, smo#ing at all hours and in all !laces, betel and tobacco chewing,
converting of the whole carriage into a s!ittoon, shouting and yelling, and using foul
language, regardless of the convenience or comfort of fellow !assengers. * have
noticed little difference between my e&!erience of the third class travelling in 9<A8
and that of my unbro#en third class tours from 9<9G to 9<9<.
* can thin# of only one remedy for this awful state of things that educated men should
ma#e a !oint of travelling third class and reforming the habits of the !eo!le, as also
of never letting the railway authorities rest in !eace, sending in com!laints wherever
necessary, never resorting to bribes or any unlawful means for obtaining their own
comforts, and never !utting u! with infringements of rules on the !art of anyone
concerned. This, * am sure, would bring about considerable im!rovement.
My serious illness in 9<9:/9< has unfortunately com!elled me !ractically to give u!
third class travelling, and it has been a matter of constant !ain and shame to me,
es!ecially because the disability came at a time when the agitation for the removal of
the hardshi!s of third class !assengers was ma#ing fair headway. The hardshi! of !oor
railway and steamshi! !assengers, accentuated by their bad habits, the undue
facilities allowed by Government to foreign trade, and such other things, ma#e an
im!ortant grou! of sub,ects, worthy to be ta#en u! by one or two enter!rising and
!ersevering wor#ers who could devote their full time to it.
But * shall leave the third class !assengers at that, and come to my e&!erience in
Benares. * arrived there in the morning. * had decided to !ut u! with a panda.
%umerous Brahmans surrounded me, as soon as * got out of the train, and * selected
one who struc# me to be com!aratively cleaner and better than the rest. *t !roved to
be a good choice. There was a cow in the courtyard of his house and an u!!er storey
where * was given a lodging. * did not want to have any food without ablution in the
Ganges in the !ro!er orthodo& manner. The panda made !re!arations for it. * had told
him beforehand that on no account could * give him more than a ru!ee and four annas
as dakshina, and that he should therefore #ee! this in mind while ma#ing the
!re!arations.
The panda readily assented. (Be the !ilgrim rich or !oor,( said he, (the service is the
same in every case. But the amount of dakshina we receive de!ends u!on the will and
the ability of the !ilgrim.( * did not find that the panda at all abridged the usual
formalities in my case. The puja was over at twelve o(cloc#, and * went to the Kashi
.ishvanath tem!le for darshan. * was dee!ly !ained by what * saw there. 5hen
!ractising as a barrister in Bombay in 9:<9. * had occasion to attend a lecture in
(!ilgrimage to Kashi( in the Prarthana Sama, hall. * was therefore !re!ared for some
measure of disa!!ointment. But the actual disa!!ointment was greater than * had
bargained for.
The a!!roach was through a narrow and sli!!ery lane. Huiet there was none. The
swarming flies and the noise made by the sho!#ee!ers and !ilgrims were !erfectly in/
sufferable.
5here one e&!ected an atmos!here of meditation and communion it was cons!icuous
by its absence. ne had to see# that atmos!here in oneself. * did observe devout
sisters, who were absorbed in meditation, entirely unconscious of the environment.
But for this the authorities of the tem!le could scarcely claim any credit. The
authorities should be res!onsible for creating and maintaining about the tem!le a
!ure sweet and serene atmos!here, !hysical as well as moral. *nstead of this * found a
ba)ar where cunning sho!#ee!ers were selling sweets and toys of the latest fashion.
5hen * reached the tem!le. * was greeted at the entrance by a stin#ing mass of rotten
flowers. The floor was !aved with fine marble, which was however bro#en by some
devotee innocent of aesthetic taste who had set it with ru!ees serving as an e&cellent
rece!tacle for dirt.
* went near the 7anana.vapi >well of #nowledge?. * searched here for God but failed to
find )im. * was not therefore in a !articularly good mood. The surroundings of the
7nana.vapi too * found to be dirty. * had no mind to give any dakshina. So * offered a
!ie. The panda in charge got angry and threw away the !ie. )e swore at me and said,
(This insult will ta#e you straight to hell.(
This did not !erturb me. (Mahara,,( said *, (whatever fate has in store for me, it does
not behove one of your class to indulge in such language. =ou may ta#e this !ie if you
li#e, or you will lose that too.(
(Go away,( he re!lied, (* don(t care for your !ie.( 1nd then followed a further volley of
abuse.
* too# u! the !ie and went my way, flattering myself that the Brahman had lost a !ie
and * had saved one. But the Mahara, was hardly the man to let the !ie go. )e called
me bac# and said, (1ll right, leave the !ie here, * would rather not be as you are. *f *
refuse your !ie, it will be bad for you.(
* silently gave him the !ie and, with a sigh, went away.
Since then * have twice been to Kashi .ishvanath, but that has been after * had
already been afflicted with the title of Mahatma and e&!eriences such as * have
detailed above had become im!ossible. Peo!le eager to have my darshan would not
!ermit me to have a darshan of the tem!le. The woes of Mahatmas are #nown to
Mahatmas alone. therwise the dirt and the noise were the same as before.
*f anyone doubts the infinite mercy of God, let him have a loo# at these sacred
!laces. )ow much hy!ocrisy and irreligion does the Prince of =ogis suffer to be
!er!etrated in )is holy name@ )e !roclaimed long ago'
(5hatever a man sows, that shall he rea!.( The law of Karma is ine&orable and
im!ossible of evasion. There is thus hardly any need for God to interfere. )e laid
down the law and, as it were, retired.
1fter this visit to the tem!le, * waited u!on Mrs. Besant. * #new that she had ,ust
recovered from an illness. * sent in my name. She came at once. 1s * wished only to
!ay my res!ects to her, * said, (* am aware that you are in delicate health. * only
wanted to !ay my res!ects. * am than#ful that you have been good enough to receive
me in s!ite of your indifferent health. * will not detain you any longer.(
So saying, * too# leave of her.
$ETTED IN B!MBA"
Go#hale was very an&ious that * should settle down in Bombay, !ractise at the bar and
hel! him in !ublic wor#. Public wor# in those days meant -ongress wor#, and the
chief wor# of the institution which he had assisted to found was carrying on the
-ongress administration.
* li#ed Go#hale(s advice, but * was not overconfident of success as a barrister. The
un!leasant memories of !ast failure were yet with me, and * still hated as !oison the
use of flattery for getting briefs.
* therefore decided to start wor# first at +a,#ot. Kevalram Mav,i "ave, my old well/
wisher, who had induced me to go to 6ngland, was there, and he started me
straightaway with three briefs. Two of them were a!!eals before the $udicial
1ssistant to the Political 1gent in Kathiawad and one was an original case in $amnagar.
This last was rather im!ortant. n my saying that * could not trust myself to do it
,ustice, Kevalram "ave e&claimed' (5inning or losing is no concern of yours. =ou will
sim!ly try your best, and * am of course there to assist you.(
The counsel on the other side was the late S,t. Samarth. * was fairly well !re!ared.
%ot that * #new much of *ndian law, but Kevalram "ave had instructed me very
thoroughly. * had heard friends say, before * went out to South 1frica, that Sir
Phero2eshah Mehta had the law of evidence at his finger/ti!s and that was the secret
of his success. * had borne this in mind, and during the voyage had carefully studied
the *ndian 6vidence 1ct with commentaries thereon. There was of course also the
advantage of my legal e&!erience in South 1frica.
* won the case and gained some confidence. * had no fear about the a!!eals, which
were successful. 1ll this ins!ired a ho!e in me that after all * might not fail even in
Bombay.
But before * set forth the circumstances in which * decided to go to Bombay, * shall
narrate my e&!erience of the inconsiderateness and ignorance of 6nglish officials. The
$udicial 1ssistant(s court was !eri!atetic. )e was constantly touring, and va#ils and
their clients had to follow him wherever he moved his cam!. The va#ils would charge
more whenever they had to go out of head3uarters, and so the clients had naturally
to incur double the e&!enses. The inconvenience was no concern of the ,udge.
The a!!eal of which * am tal#ing was to be heard at .eraval where !lague was raging.
* have a recollection that there were as many as fifty cases daily in the !lace with a
!o!ulation of G,GAA. *t was !ractically deserted, and * !ut u! in a deserted
PdharmashalaP at some distance from the town. But where the clients to stay@ *f they
were !oor, they had sim!ly to trust themselves to God(s mercy.
1 friend who also had cases before the court had wired that * should !ut in an
a!!lication for the cam! to be moved to some other station because of the !lague at
.eraval. n my submitting the a!!lication, the sahib as#ed me. (1re you afraid@(
* answered' *t is not a 3uestion of my being afraid. * thin# * can shift for myself, but
what about the clients@(
(The !lague has come to stay in *ndia,( re!lied the sahib. (5hy dear it@ The climate of
.eraval is lovely. JThe sahib lived far away from the town in a !alatial tent !itched on
the seashore.K Surely !eo!le must learn to live thus in the o!en.(
*t was no use arguing against this !hiloso!hy. The sahib told his shirastedar' (Ma#e a
note of what Mr. Gandhi says, and let me #now if it is very inconvenient for the va#ils
or the clients.(
The sahib of course had honestly done what he thought was the right thing. But how
could the man have an idea of the hardshi!s of !oor *ndia@ )ow was he to understand
the needs, habits, idiosyncrasies and customs of the !eo!le@ )ow was one,
accustomed to measure things in gold sovereigns, all at once to ma#e calculations in
tiny bits of co!!er@ 1s the ele!hant is !owerless to thin# in the terms of the ant, in
s!ite of the best intentions in the world, even so is the 6nglishman !owerless to thin#
in the terms of, or legislate for, the *ndian.
But to resume the thread of story. *n s!ite of my successes, * had been thin#ing of
staying on in +a,#ot for some time longer, when one day Kevalram "ave came to me
and said' (Gandhi, we will not suffer you to vegetate here. =ou must settle in Bombay.(
(But who will find wor# for me there@( * as#ed. (5ill you find the e&!enses@(
(=es, yes, * will,( said he. (5e shall bring you down here sometimes as a big barrister
from Bombay and drafting wor# we shall send you there. *t lies with us va#ils to ma#e
or mar a barrister. =ou have !roved your worth in $amnagar and .eraval, and * have
therefore not the least an&iety about you. =ou are destined to do !ublic wor#, and we
will not allow you to be buried in Kathiawad. So tell me, then, when you will go to
Bombay.(
(* am e&!ecting a remittance from %atal. 1s soon as * get it * will go,( * re!lied.
The money came in about two wee#s, and * went to Bombay. * too# chambers in
Payne, Gilbert and Sayani(s offices, and it loo#ed as though * had settled down.
%AITH !N IT$ TRIA
Though * had hired chambers in the fort and a house in Girgaum, God would not let
me settle down. Scarcely had * moved into my new house when my second son
Manilal, who had already been through an acute attac# of small!o& some years bac#,
had a severe attac# of ty!hoid, combined with !neumonia and signs of delirium at
night.
The doctor was called in. )e said medicine would have little effect, but eggs and
chic#en broth might be given with !rofit.
Manilal was only ten years old. To consult his wishes was out of the 3uestion. Being his
guardian * had to decide. The doctor was a very good Parsi. * told him that we were
all vegetarians and that * could not !ossibly give either of the two things to my son.
5ould he therefore recommend something else@
(=our son(s life is in danger,( said the good doctor. (5e could give him mil# diluted with
water, but that will not give him enough nourishment. 1s you #now, * am called in by
many )indu families, and they do not ob,ect to anything * !rescribe. * thin# you will
be well advised not to be so hard on your son.(
(5hat you say is 3uite right,( said *. (1s a doctor you could not do otherwise. But my
res!onsibility is very great. *f the boy had been grown u!, * should certainly have tried
to ascertain his wishes and res!ected them. But here * have to thin# and decide for
him. To my mind it is only on such occasions, that a man(s faith is truly tested +ightly
or wrongly it is !art of my religious conviction that man may not eat meat, eggs, and
the li#e. There should be a limit even means of #ee!ing ourselves alive. 6ven for itself
we may not so certain things. +eligion, as * understand it, does not !ermit me to use
meat or eggs for me or mine even on occasions li#e this, and * must therefore ta#e the
ris# that you say is li#ely. But * beg of you one thing. 1s * cannot avail myself of your
treatment, * !ro!ose to try some hydro!athic remedies which * ha!!en to #now. But *
shall not #now how to e&amine the boy(s !ulse, chest, lungs, etc. *f you will #indly
loo# in from time to time to e&amine him and #ee! me informed of his condition, *
shall be grateful to you.(
The good doctor a!!reciated my difficulty and agreed to my re3uest. Though Manilal
could not have made his choice, * told him what had !assed between the doctor and
myself and as#ed him his o!inion.
("o try your hydro!athic treatment,( he said. (* will not have eggs or chic#en broth.(
This made me glad, though * reali2ed that, if * had given him either of these, he
would have ta#en it.
* #new Kuhne(s treatment and had tried it too. * #new as well that fasting also could
be tried with !rofit. So * began to give Manilal hi! baths according to Kuhne, never
#ee!ing him in the tub for more than three minutes, and #e!t him on orange ,uice
mi&ed with water for three days.
But the tem!erature !ersisted, going u! to 9AE. 1t night he would be delirious. *
began to get an&ious. 5hat would !eo!le say of me@ 5hat would my elder brother
thin# of me@ -ould we not call in another doctor@ 5hy not have an 1yurvedic
!hysician@ 5hat right had the !arents to inflict their fads on their children@
* was haunted by thoughts li#e these. Then a contrary current would start. God would
surely be !leased to see that * was giving the same treatment to my son as * would
give myself. * had faith in hydro!athy, and little faith in allo!athy. The doctors could
not guarantee recovery. 1t best they could e&!eriment. The tread of life was in the
hands of God. 5hy not trust it to )im and in )is name go on with what * thought was
the right treatment@
My mind was torn between these conflicting thoughts. *t was night. * was in Manilal(s
bed lying by his side. * decided to give him a wet sheet !ac#. * got u!, wetted a sheet,
wrung the water out of it and wra!!ed it about Manilal, #ee!ing only his head out and
then covered him with two blan#ets. To the head * a!!lied a wet towel. The whole
body was burning li#e hot iron, and 3uite !arched. There was absolutely no
!ers!iration.
* was sorely tired. * left Manilal in the charge of his mother, and went out for a wal#
on -hau!ati to refresh myself. *t was about ten o(cloc#. .ery few !edestrians were
out. Plunged in dee! thought, * scarcely loo#ed at them, (My honour is in Thy #ee!ing
oh 4ord, in this hour of trial,( * re!eated to myself. P+amanamaP was on my li!s. 1fter
a short time * returned, my heart beating within my breast.
%o sooner had * entered the room than Manilal said, (=ou have returned, Ba!u@(
(=es, darling.(
("o !lease !ull me out. * am burning.(
(1re you !ers!iring, my boy@(
(* am sim!ly soa#ed. "o !lease ta#e me out.(
* felt his forehead. *t was covered with beads of !ers!iration. The tem!erature was
going down. * than#ed God.
(Manilal, your fever is sure to go now. 1 little more !ers!iration and then * will ta#e
you out.(
(Pray, no. "o deliver me from this furnace. 5ra! me some other time if you li#e.(
* ,ust managed to #ee! him under the !ac# for a few minutes more by diverting him.
The !ers!iration streamed down his forehead. * undid the !ac# and dried his body.
0ather and son fell aslee! in the same bed.
1nd each sle!t li#e a log. %e&t morning Manilal had much less fever. )e went on thus
for forty days on diluted mil# and fruit ,uices. * had no fear now. *t was an obstinate
ty!e of fever, but it had been got under control.
Today Manilal is the healthiest of my boys. 5ho can say whether his recovery was due
to God(s grace, or to hydro!athy, or to careful dietary and nursing@ 4et everyone
decide according to his own faith. 0or my !art * was sure that God had saved my
honour, and that belief remains unaltered to this day.
T! $!#TH A%RICA AGAIN
Manilal was restored to health, but * saw that the Girgaum house was not habitable. *t
was dam! and ill/lighted. So in consultation with Shri +evashan#ar $ag,ivan * decided
to hire some well/ventilated bungalow in a suburb of Bombay. * wandered about in
Bandra and Santa -ru2. The slaughter house in Bandra !revented our choice falling
there. Ghat#o!ar and !laces near it were too far from the sea. 1t last we hit u!on a
fine bungalow in Santa -ru2. which we hired as being the best from the !oint of view
of sanitation.
* too# a first class season tic#et from Santa -ru2 to -hurchgate, and remember having
fre3uently felt a certain !ride in being the only first class !assenger in my
com!artment. ften * wal#ed to Bandra in order to ta#e the fast train from there
direct to -hurchgate.
* !ros!ered in my !rofession better than * had e&!ected. My South 1frican clients
often entrusted me with some wor#, and it was enough to enable me to !ay my way.
* had not yet succeeded in securing any wor# in the )igh -ourt, but * attended the
(moot( that used to be held in those days, though * never ventured to ta#e !art in it. *
recall $amiatram %anabhai ta#ing a !rominent !art. 4i#e other fresh barristers * made
a !oint of attending the hearing of cases in the )igh -ourt, more, * am afraid, for
en,oying the so!orific bree2e coming straight from the sea than for adding to my
#nowledge. * observed that * was not the only one to en,oy this !leasure. *t seemed to
be the fashion and therefore nothing to be ashamed of.
)owever * began to ma#e use of the )igh -ourt library and ma#e fresh ac3uaintances
and felt that before long * should secure wor# in the )igh -ourt.
Thus whilst on the one hand * began to feel somewhat at ease about my !rofession, on
the other hand Go#hale, whose eyes were always on me, had been busy ma#ing his
own !lans on my behalf. )e !ee!ed in at my chambers twice or thrice every wee#,
often in com!any with friends whom he wanted me to #now, and he #e!t me
ac3uainted with his mode of wor#.
But it may be said that God has never allowed any of my own !lans to stand. )e has
dis!osed them in )is own way.
$ust when * seemed to be settling down as * had intended * received an une&!ected
cable from South 1frica' (-hamberlain e&!ected here. Please return immediately.( *
remembered my !romise and cabled to say that * should be ready to start the moment
they !ut me in funds. They !rom!tly res!onded, * gave u! the chambers and started
for South 1frica.
* had an idea that the wor# there would #ee! me engaged for at least a year, so * #e!t
the bungalow and left my wife and children there.
* believed then that enter!rising youths who could not find an o!ening in the country
should emigrate to other lands. * therefore too# with me four or five such youths, one
of whom was Maganlal Gandhi.
The Gandhis were and are a big family. * wanted to find out all those who wished to
leave the trodden !ath and venture abroad. My father used to accommodate a
number of them in some state service. * wanted them to be free from this s!ell. *
neither could nor would secure other service for themC * wanted them to be self/
reliant.
But as my ideals advanced, * tried to !ersuade these youths also to conform their
ideals to mine, and * had the greatest success in guiding Maganlal Gandhi. But about
this later.
The se!aration from wife and children, the brea#ing u! of a settled establishment,
and the going from the certain to the uncertain/ all this was for a moment !ainful,
but * had inured myself to an uncertain life. * thin# it is wrong to e&!ect certainties in
this world, where all else but God that is Truth is an uncertainty. 1ll that a!!ears and
ha!!ens about and around us is uncertain transient. But there is a Su!reme Being
hidden therein as a -ertainty, and one would be blessed if one could catch a glim!se
of that -ertainty and hitch one(s waggon to it. The 3uest for that Truth is the
summum bnum of life.
* reached "urban not a day too soon. There was wor# waiting for me. The date for the
de!utation to wait on Mr. -hamberlain had been fi&ed. * had to draft the memorial to
be submitted to him and accom!any the de!utation.
&!(E&$ AB!#R&$ !$T&-
Mr. -hamberlain had come to get a gift of DG million !ounds from South 1frica, and to
win the hearts of 6nglishmen and Boers. So he gave a cold shoulder to the *ndian
de!utation.
(=ou #now,( he said (that the *m!erial Government has little control over self/governing
-olonies. =our grievances seem to be genuine. * shall do what * can, if you wish to live
in their midst.(
The re!ly cast a chill over the members of the de!utation. * was also disa!!ointed. *t
was an eye/o!ener for us all, and * saw that we should start with our wor# de nv. *
e&!lained the situation to my colleagues.
1s a matter of fact there was nothing wrong about Mr. -hamberlain(s re!ly. *t was well
that he did not mince matters. )e had brought home to us in a rather gentle way the
rule of might being right or the law of the sword.
But sword we had none. 5e scarcely had the nerve and the muscle even to receive
sword/cuts.
Mr. -hamberlain had given only a short time to the sub/continent. *f Shrinagar to -a!e
-omorin is 9,<AA miles, "urban to -a!etown is not less than 9,9AA miles, and Mr.
-hamberlain had to cover the long distance at hurricane s!eed.
0rom %atal he hastened to the Transvaal. * had to !re!are the case for the *ndians
there as well and submit it to him. But how was * get to Pretoria@ ur !eo!le there
were not in a !osition to !rocure the necessary legal facilities for my getting to them
in time. The 5ar had reduced the Transvaal to a howling wilderness. There were
neither !rovisions nor clothing available. 6m!ty or closed sho!s were there, waiting
to be re!lenished or o!ened, but that was a matter of time. 6ven refugees could not
be allowed to return until the sho!s were ready with !rovisions. 6very Transvaller had
therefore to obtain a !ermit. The 6uro!ean had no difficulty in getting one, but the
*ndian found it very hard.
"uring the 5ar many officers and soldiers had come to South 1frica from *ndia and
-eylon, and it was considered to be the duty of the British authorities to !rovide for
such of them as decided to settle there. They had in any event to a!!oint new
officers, and these e&!erienced men came in 3uite handy. The 3uic# ingenuity of
some of them created a new de!artment. *t showed their resourcefulness. There was
a s!ecial de!artment for the %egroes. 5hy then should there not be one for the
1siatics@ The argument seemed to be 3uite !lausible. 5hen * reached the Transvaal,
this new de!artment had already been o!ened and was gradually s!reading its
tentacles. The officers who issued !ermits to the returning refugees might issue them
to all, but how could they do so in res!ect of the 1siatics without the intervention of
the new de!artment@ 1nd if the !ermits were to be issued on the recommendation of
the new de!artment, some of the res!onsibility and burden of the !ermit officers
could thus be lessened. This was how they had argued. The fact, however, was that
the new de!artment wanted some a!ology for wor#, and the men wanted money. *f
there had been no wor# , the de!artment would have been unnecessary and would
have been discontinued. So they found this wor# for themselves.
The *ndians had to a!!ly to this de!artment. 1 re!ly would be vouchsafed many days
after. 1nd as there were large numbers wishing to return to the Transvaal, there grew
u! an army of intermediaries or touts, who with the officers, looted the !oor *ndians
to the tune of thousands. * was told that no !ermit could be had without influence,
!ounds in s!ite of the influence which one might bring to bear. Thus seemed to be no
way o!en to me. * went to my old friend, the Police Su!erintendent of "urban, and
said to him' (Please introduce me to the Permit fficer and hel! me to obtain a
!ermit. =ou #now that * have been a resident of the Transvaal.( )e immediately !ut on
his hat, came out and secured me a !ermit. There was hardly an hour left before my
train was to start. * had #e!t my luggage ready. * than#ed Su!erintendent 1le&ander
and started for Pretoria.
* now had a fair idea of the difficulties ahead. n reaching Pretoria * drafted the
memorial. *n "urban * do not recollect the *ndians having been as#ed to submit in
advance the names of their re!resentatives, but here there was the new de!artment
and it as#ed to do so. The Pretoria *ndians had already come to #now that the officers
wanted to e&clude me.
But another cha!ter is necessary for this !ainful though amusing incident.
A#T!CRAT$ %R!M A$IA
The officers at the head of the new de!artment were at a loss to #now how * had
entered the Transvaal. They in3uired of the *ndians who used to go to them, but these
could say nothing definite. The officers only ventured a guess that * might have
succeeded in entering without a !ermit on the strength of my old connections. *f that
was the case, * was liable to be arrestedB
*t is a general !ractice, on the termination of a big war, to invest the Government of
the day with s!ecial !owers. This was the case in South 1frica. The Government had
!assed a Peace Preservation rdinance, which !rovided that anyone entering the
Transvaal without a !ermit should be liable to arrest and im!risonment. The 3uestion
of arresting me under this !rovision was mooted, but no one could summon u!
courage enough to as# me to !roduce my !ermit.
The officers had of course sent telegrams to "urban, and when they found that * had
entered with a !ermit, they were disa!!ointed. But they were not the men to be
defeated by such disa!!ointment. Though * had succeeded in entering the Transvaal,
they could still successfully !revent me from waiting on Mr. -hamberlain.
So the community was as#ed to submit the names of the re!resentives who were to
form the "e!utation. -olour !re,udice was of course in evidence everywhere in South
1frica, but * was not !re!ared to find here the dirty and underhand dealing among
officials that * was familiar with in *ndia. *n South 1frica the !ublic de!artments were
maintained for the good of the !eo!le and were res!onsible to !ublic o!inion. )ence
officials in charge had a certain courtesy of manner and humility about them, and
coloured !eo!le also got the benefit of it more or less. 5ith the coming of the
officers from 1sia, came also its autocracy, and the habits that the autocrats had
imbibed there. *n South 1frica there was a #ind of res!onsible government or
democracy, whereas the commodity im!orted from 1sia was autocracy !ure and
sim!leC for the 1siatics had no res!onsible government, there being a foreign !ower
governing them. *n South 1frica the 6uro!eans were settled emigrants. They had
become South 1frican citi2ens and had control over the de!artmental officers. But the
autocrats from 1sia now a!!eared on the scene, and the *ndians in conse3uence found
themselves between the devil and the dee! sea.
* had a fair taste of this autocracy. * was first summoned to see the chief of the
de!artment, an officer from -eylon. 4est * should a!!ear to e&aggerate when * say
that * was (summoned( to see the chief, * shall ma#e myself clear. %o written order
was sent to me. *ndian leaders often had to visit the 1siatic officers. 1mong these was
the late Sheth Tyeb )a,i Khanmahomed. The chief of the office as#ed him who * was
and why * had come there.
()e is our adviser,( said Tyeb Sheth, (and he has come here at our re3uest.(
(Then what are we here for@ )ave we not been a!!ointed to !rotect you@ 5hat can
Gandhi #now of the conditions here@( as#ed the autocrat.
Tyeb Sheth answered the charge as best he could' (f course you are there. But
Gandhi is our man. )e #nows our language and understands us. =ou are after all
officials.(
The Sahib ordered Tyeb Sheth to fetch me before him. * went to the Sahib in com!any
with Tyeb Sheth and others. %o seats were offered, we were all #e!t standing.
(5hat brings you here@( said the Sahib addressing me.
(* have come here at the re3uest of my fellow countrymen to hel! them with my
advice,( * re!lied.
(But don(t you #now that you have no right to come here@ The !ermit you hold was
given you by mista#e. =ou must go bac#. =ou shall not wait on Mr. -hamberlain. *t is
for the !rotection of the *ndians here that the 1siatic "e!artment had been es!ecially
created. 5ell, you may go.( 5ith this he bade me good/bye, giving me no o!!ortunity
for a re!ly.
But he detained my com!anions. )e gave them a sound scolding and advised them to
send me away.
They returned chagrined. 5e were now confronted with an une&!ected situation.
P!CKETED THE IN$#T
* smarted under the insult, but as * had !oc#eted many such in the !ast * had become
inured to them. * therefore decided to forget this latest one and ta#e what course a
dis!assionate view of the case might suggest.
5e had a letter from the -hief of the 1siatic "e!artment to the effect that, as * had
been found necessary to omit my name from the de!utation which was to wait on
him.
The letter was more than my co/wor#ers could bear. They !ro!osed to dro! the idea
of the de!utation altogether. * !ointed out to them the aw#ward situation of the
community.
*f you do not re!resent your case before Mr. -hamberlain,( said *, (it will be !resumed
that you have no case at all. 1fter all, the re!resentation has to be made in writing,
and we have got it ready. *t does not matter in the least whether * read it or someone
else reads it. Mr. -hamberlain is not going to argue the matter with us. * am afraid we
must swallow the insult.(
* had scarcely finished s!ea#ing when Tyeb Sheth cried out, ("oes not an insult to you
amount to an insult to the community@ )ow can we forget that you are our
re!resentative@(
(Too true.( said *. (But even the community will have to !oc#et insults li#e these. )ave
we any alternative@(
(-ome what may, why should we swallow a fresh insult@ %othing worse can !ossibly
ha!!en to us. )ave we many rights to lose@( as#ed Tyeb Sheth.
*t was a s!irited re!ly, but of what avail was it@ * was fully conscious of the limitations
of the community. * !acified my friends and advised them to have, in my !lace, Mr.
George Godfrey, an *ndian barrister.
So Mr. Godfrey led the de!utation. Mr. -hamberlain referred in his re!ly to my
e&clusion. (+ather than hear the same re!resentative over and over again, is it not
better to have someone new@( he said, and tried to heal the wound.
But all this, far from ending the matter, only added to the wor# of the community and
also to mine. 5e had to start afresh.
(*t is at your instance that the community hel!ed in the war, and you see the result
now,( were the words with which some !eo!le taunted me. But the taunt had no
effect. (* do not regret my advice,( said *. (* maintain that we did well in ta#ing !art in
the war. *n doing so we sim!ly did our duty. 5e may not loo# forward to any reward
for our labours, but it is my firm conviction that all good action is bound to bear fruit
in the end. 4et us forget the !ast and thin# of the tas# before us.( 5ith which the rest
agreed.
* added' (To tell you the truth the wor# for which you had called me is !ractically
finished. But * believe * ought not to leave the Transvaal, so far as it is !ossible, even
if you !ermit me to return home. *nstead of carrying on my wor# from %atal, as
before, * must now do so from here. * must no longer thin# of returning to *ndia within
a year, but must get enrolled in the Transvaal Su!reme -ourt. * have confidence
enough to deal with this new de!artment. *f we do not do this, the community will be
hounded out of the country, besides being thoroughly robbed out of the country,
besides being thoroughly robbed. 6very day it will have fresh insults hea!ed u!on it.
The facts that Mr. -hamberlain refused to see me and that the official insulted me,
are nothing before the humiliation of the whole community. *t will become im!ossible
to !ut u! with the veritable dog(s life that we shall be e&!ected to lead.(
So * set the ball rolling, discussed things with *ndians in Pretoria and $ohannesburg
and ultimately decided to set u! office in $ohannesburg.
*t was indeed doubtful whether * would be enrolled in the Transvaal Su!reme -ourt.
But the 4aw Society did not o!!ose my a!!lication, and the -ourt allowed it. *t was
difficult for an *ndian to secure rooms for office in a suitable locality. But * had come
in fairly close contact with Mr. +itch, who was then one of the merchants there.
Through the good offices of a house agent #nown to him, * succeeded in securing
suitable rooms for my office in the legal 3uarters of the city, and * started on my
!rofessional wor#.
+#ICKENED $PIRIT !% $ACRI%ICE
Before * narrate the struggle for the *ndian settlers rights in the Transvaal and their
dealing with the 1siatic "e!artment, * must turn to some other as!ects of my life.
U! to now there had been in me a mi&ed desire. The s!irit of self/ sacrifice was
tem!ered by the desire to lay by something for the future.
1bout the time * too# u! chambers in Bombay, an 1merican insurance agent had come
there a man with a !leasing countenance and a sweet tongue. 1s though we were old
friends he discussed my future welfare. (1ll men of your status in 1merica have their
lives insured. Should you not also insure yourself against the future@ 4ife is uncertain.
5e in 1merica regard it as a religious obligation to get insured. -an * not tem!t you to
ta#e out a small !olicy@(
U! to this time * had given the cold shoulder to all the agents * had met in South
1frica and *ndia, for * had though that life assurance im!lied fear and want of faith in
God. But now * succumbed to the tem!tation of the 1merican agent. 1s he !roceeded
with his argument, * had before my mind(s eye a !icture of my wife and children.
(Man, you have sold almost all the ornaments of your wife,( * said to myself. (*f
something were to ha!!en to you, the burden of su!!orting her and the children
would fall on your !oor brother, who has so nobly filled the !lace of father. )ow
would that become you@( 5ith these and similar arguments * !ersuaded myself to ta#e
out a !olicy for +s. 9A,AAA.
But when my mode of life changed in South 1frica, my outloo# changed too. 1ll the
ste!s * too# at this time of trial were ta#en in the name of God and for )is service. *
did not #now how long * should have to stay in South 1frica. * had a fear that * might
never be able to get bac# to *ndia' so * decided to #ee! my wife and children with me
and earn enough to su!!ort them. This !lan made me de!lore the life !olicy and feel
ashamed of having been caught in the net of the insurance agent. *f, * said to myself,
my brother is really in the !osition of my father, surely he would not consider it too
much of a burden to su!!ort my widow, if it came to that, 1nd what reason had * to
assume that death would claim me earlier than the others@ 1fter all the real !rotector
was neither * nor my brother, but the 1lmighty. *n getting my life insured * had robbed
my wife and children of their self/ reliance. 5hy should they not be e&!ected to ta#e
care of themselves@ 5hat ha!!ened to the families of the numberless !oor in the
world@ 5hy should * not count myself as one of them@
1 multitude of such thoughts !assed though my mind, but * did not immediately act
u!on them. * recollect having !aid at least one insurance !remium in South 1frica.
utward circumstances too su!!orted this train of thought. "uring my first so,ourn in
South 1frica it was -hristian influence that had #e!t alive in me the religious sense.
%ow it was theoso!hical influence that added strength to it. Mr. +itch was a
theoso!hist and !ut me in touch with the society at $ohannesburg. * never became a
member, as * had my differences, but * came in close contact with almost every
theoso!hist. * had religious discussions with them every day. There used to be
readings from theoso!hical boo#s and sometimes * had occasion to address their
meetings. The chief thing about theoso!hy is to cultivate and !romote the idea of
brotherhood. 5e had considerable discussion over this, and * critici2ed the members
where their conduct did not a!!ear to me to s3uare with their ideal. The criticism
was not without its whole some effect on me. *t led to intros!ection.
RE$#T !% INTR!$PECTI!N
5hen, in 9:<D, * came in close contact with -hristian friends. * was a mere novice.
They tried hard to bring home to me, and ma#e me acce!t, the message of $esus, and
* was a humble and res!ectful listener with an o!en mind. 1t that time * naturally
studied )induism to the best of my ability and endeavoured to understand other
religions.
*n 9<AD the !osition was somewhat changed. Theoso!hist friends certainly intended to
draw me into their society, but that was with a view to getting something from me as
a )indu. Theoso!hical literature is re!lete with )indu influence, and so these friends
e&!ected that * should be hel!ful to them. * e&!lained that my Sams#rit study was not
much to s!ea# of, that * had not read the )indu scri!tures in the original, and that
even my ac3uaintance with the translations was of the slightest. But being believers
in Psams#araP >tendencies caused by !revious births? and P!unar,anmaP >rebirth?,
they assumed that * should be able to render at least some hel!. 1nd so * felt li#e a
Triton among the minnows. * started reading Swami .ive#ananda(s P+a,ayogaP with
some of these friends and M. %. "vivedi(s P+a,ayogaP with others. * had to read
Patan,ali(s P=oga SutrasP with one friend and the PBhagavadgitaP with 3uite a number.
5e formed a sort of See#ers( -lub where we had regular readings. * already had faith
in the Gita, which had a fascination for me. %ow * reali2ed the necessity of diving
dee!er into it. * had one or two translations, by means of which * tried to understand
the original Sams#rit. * decided also to get by heart one or two verses every day. 0or
this !ur!ose * em!loyed the time of my morning ablutions. The o!eration too# me
thirty/five minutes, fifteen minutes for the tooth brush and twenty for the bath. The
first * used to do standing in western fashion. So on the wall o!!osite * struc# sli!s of
!a!er on which were written the Gita verses and referred to them now and then to
hel! my memory. This time was found sufficient for memorising the daily !ortion and
recalling the verses already learnt. * remember having thus committed to memory
thirteen cha!ters. But the memorising of the Gita had to give way to other wor# and
the creation and nurture of Satyagraha, which absorbed all my thin#ing time, as the
latter may be said to be doing even now.
5hat effect this reading of the Gita had on my friends only they can say, but to me
the Gita became an infallible guide of conduct. *t became my dictionary of daily
reference. $ust as * turned to the 6nglish dictionary for the meanings of 6nglish words
that * did not understand, * turned to this dictionary of conduct for a ready solution of
all my troubles and trials. 5ords li#e Pa!arigrahaP >non/ !ossession? and PsamabhavaP
>e3uability? gri!!ed me. )ow to cultivate and !reserve that e3uability was the
3uestion. )ow was one to treat ali#e insulting, insolent and corru!t officials, co/
wor#ers of yesterday raising meaningless o!!osition, and men who had always been
good to one@ )ow was one to divest oneself of all !ossessions@ 5as not the body itself
!ossession enough@ 5ere not wife and children !ossessions@ 5as * to destroy all the
cu!boards of boo#s * had@ 5as * to give u! all * had and follow )im@ Straight came the
answer' * could not follow )im unless * gave u! all * had. My study of 6nglish law came
to my hel!. Snell(s discussion of the ma&ims of 63uity came to my memory. *
understood more clearly in the light of the Gita teaching the im!lication of the word
(trustee(. My regard for ,uris!rudence increased, * discovered in it religion. *
understood the Gita teaching of non/!ossession to mean that those who desired
salvation should act li#e the trustee who, though having control over great
!ossessions, regards not an iota of them as his own. *t became clear to me as daylight
that non/!ossession and e3uability !resu!!osed a change of heart, a change of
attitude. * then wrote to +evashan#arbhai to allow the insurance !olicy to la!se and
get whatever could be recovered, or else to regard the !remiums already !aid as lost,
for * had become convinced that God, who created my wife and children as well as
myself, would ta#e care of them. To my brother, who had been as father to me, *
wrote e&!laining that * had given him all that * had saved u! to that moment, but that
henceforth he should e&!ect nothing from me, for future savings, if any, would be
utili2ed for the benefit of the community.
* could not easily ma#e my brother understand this. *n stern language he e&!lained to
me my duty towards him. * should not, he said, as!ire to be wiser than our father. *
must su!!ort the family as he did. * !ointed out to him that * was doing e&actly what
our father had done. The meaning of (family( had but to be slightly widened and the
wisdom of my ste! would become clear.
My brother gave me u! and !ractically sto!!ed all communication. * was dee!ly
distressed, but it would have been a greater distress to give u! what * considered to
be my duty, and * !referred the lesser. But that did not affect my devotion to him,
which remained as !ure and great as ever. )is great love for me was at the root of his
misery. )e did not so much want my money as that * should be well/ behaved towards
the family. %ear the end of his life, however, he a!!reciated my view/!oint. 5hen
almost on his death/bed, he reali2ed that my ste! had been right and wrote me a
most !athetic letter. )e a!ologi2ed to me, if indeed a father may a!ologi2e to his
son. )e commended his sons to my care, to be brought u! as * thought fit, and
e&!ressed his im!atience to meet me. )e cabled that he would li#e to come to South
1frica and * cabled in re!ly that he could. But that was not to be. %or could his desire
as regards his sons be fulfilled. )e died before he could start for South 1frica. )is sons
had been brought u! in the old atmos!here and could not change their course of life.
* could not draw them to me. *t was not their fault. (5ho can say thus far, no further,
to the tide of his own nature@( 5ho can erase the im!ressions with which he is born@ *t
is idle to e&!ect one(s children and wards necessarily to follow the same course of
evolution as oneself.
This instance to some e&tent serves to show what a terrible res!onsibility it is to be a
!arent.
A $ACRI%ICE T! (EGETARIANI$M
1s the ideals of sacrifice and sim!licity were becoming more and more reali2ed,
consciousness was becoming more and more 3uic#ened in my daily life, the !assion
for vegetarianism as a mission went on increasing. * have #nown only one way of
carrying on missionary wor#, Pvi2P., by !ersonal e&am!le and discussion with
searchers for #nowledge.
There was in $ohannesburg a vegetarian restaurant conducted by a German who
believed in Kuhan(s hydro!athic treatment. * visited the restaurant myself and hel!ed
it by ta#ing 6nglish friends there. But * saw that it could not last as it was always in
financial difficulties. * assisted it as much as * thought it deserved, and s!ent some
money on it, but it had ultimately to be closed down.
Most theoso!hists are vegetarians more or less, and an enter!rising lady belonging to
that society now came u!on the scene with a vegetarian restaurant on a grand scale.
She was fond of art, e&travagant and ignorant of accounts. )er circle of friends was
fairly large. She had started in a small way, but later decided to e&tend the venture
by ta#ing large rooms, and as#ed me for hel!. * #new nothing of her finances when
she thus a!!roached me, but * too# it that her estimate must be fairly accurate. 1nd *
was in a !osition to accommodate her. My clients used to #ee! large sums as de!osits
with me. )aving received the consent of one of these clients, * lent about a thousand
!ounds from the amount to his credit. This client was most large/hearted and
trusting. )e had originally come to South 1frica as an indentured labourer. )e said'
(Give away the money, if you li#e. * #now nothing in these matters. * only #now you.(
)is name was Badri. )e afterwards too# a !rominent !art in Satyagraha, and suffered
im!risonment as well. So * advanced the loan assuming that this consent was enough.
*n two or three months( time * came to #now that the amount would not be recovered.
* could ill afford to sustain such a loss. There were many other !ur!oses to which *
could have a!!lied this amount. The loan was never re!aid. But how could trusting
Badri be allowed to suffer@ )e had #nown me only. * made good the loss.
1 client friend to whom * s!o#e about this transaction sweetly chid me for my folly.
(Bhai,( / * had fortunately not yet become (Mahatma(, nor even (Ba!u( >father? friends
used to call me by the loving name of (Bhai( >brother?/ said he, (this was not for you to
do. 5e de!end u!on you in so many things. =ou are not going to get bac# this amount.
* #now you will never allow Badri to come to grief, for you will !ay him out of your
!oc#et, but if you go on hel!ing your reform schemes by o!erating on your clients(
money, the !oor fellows will be ruined, and you will soon become a beggar. But you
are our trustee and must #now that, if you become a beggar, all our !ublic wor# will
come to a sto!.(
The friend * am than#ful to say, is still alive. * have not yet come across a !urer man
than he, in South 1frica or anywhere else. * have #nown him to a!ologi2e to !eo!le
and to cleanse himself, when, having ha!!ened to sus!ect them, he had found his
sus!icion to be unfounded.
* saw that he had rightly warned me. 0or though * made good Badri(s loss, * should not
have been able to meet any similar loss and should have been driven to incur debt/ a
thing * have never done in my life and always abhorred. * reali2ed that even a man(s
reforming 2eal ought not to ma#e him e&ceed his limits. * also saw that in thus lending
trust/money * had disobeyed the cardinal teaching of the Gita, Pvi2P, the duty of a
man of e3ui!oise to act without desire for the fruit. The error became for me a
beaconlight of warning.
The sacrifice offered on the altar of vegetarianism was neither intentional nor
e&!ected. *t was a virtue of necessity.
E)PERIMENT$ IN EARTH AND ,ATER TREATMENT
5ith the growing sim!licity of my life, my disli#e for medicines steadily increased.
5hile !ractising in "urban, * suffered for some time from debility and rheumatic
inflammation. "r. P. $. Mehta, who had come to see me, gave me treatment, and * got
well. 1fter that, u! to the time when * returned to *ndia, * do not remember having
suffered from any ailment to s!ea# of.
But * used to be troubled with consti!ation and fre3uent headaches, while at
$ohannesburg. * #e!t myself fit with occasional la&atives and a well/regulated diet.
But * could hardly call myself healthy, and always wondered when * should get free
from incubus of these la&ative medicines.
1bout this time * read of the formation of a (%o Brea#fast 1ssociation( in Manchester.
The argument of the !romoters was that 6nglishmen ate too often and too much, that
their doctors( bills were heavy because they ate until midnight, and that they should
at least give u! brea#fast, if they wanted to im!rove this state of affairs. Though all
these things could not be said of me, * felt that the argument did !artly a!!ly in my
case. * used to have three s3uare meals daily in addition to afternoon tea. * was never
a s!are eater and en,oyed as many delicacies as could be had with a vegetarian and
s!iceless diet. * scarcely ever got u! before si& or seven. * therefore argued that, if *
also dro!!ed the morning brea#fast, * might become free from headaches. So * tried
the e&!eriment. 0or a few days it was rather hard, but the headaches entirely
disa!!eared. This led me to conclude that * was eating more than * needed.
But the change was far from relieving me of consti!ation. * tried Kuhne(s hi!baths,
which gave some relief but did not com!letely cure me. *n the meantime the German
who had a vegetarian restaurant, or some other friend, * forget who, !laced in my
hands $ust(s Return $ Nature. *n this boo# * read about earth treatment. The author
also advocated fresh fruit and nuts as the natural diet of man. * did not at once ta#e
to the e&clusive fruit diet, but immediately began e&!eriments in earth treatment,
and with wonderful results. The treatment consisted in a!!lying to the abdomen a
bandage of clean earth moistened with cold water and s!read li#e a !oultice on fine
linen. This * a!!lied at bed time, removing it during the night or in the morning,
whenever, * ha!!ened to wa#e u!. *t !roved a radical cure. Since then * have tried the
treatment on myself and my friends and never had reason to regret it. *n *ndia * have
not been able to try this treatment with e3ual confidence. 0or one thing. * have never
had time to settle down in one !lace to conduct the e&!eriments. But my faith in the
earth and water treatment remains !ractically the same as before. 6ven today * give
myself the earth treatment to a certain e&tent and recommend it to my co/wor#ers,
whenever occasion arises.
Though * have had two serious illnesses in my life, * believe that man has little need
to drug himself. <<< cases out of a thousand can be brought round by means of a well/
regulated diet, water and earth treatment and similar household remedies. )e who
runs to the doctor, vaidya or hakim for every little aliment, and swallows all #inds of
vegetable and mineral drugs, not only curtails his life, but, by becoming the slave of
his body instead of remaining its master, loses self/control, and ceases to be a man.
4et no one discount these observations because they are being written in a sic#bed. *
#now the reasons for my illnesses. * am fully conscious that * alone am res!onsible for
them, and it is because of that consciousnes that * have not lost !atience. *n fact *
have than#ed God for them as lessons and successfully resisted the tem!tation of
ta#ing numerous drugs. * #now my obstinacy often tries my doctors, but they #indly
bear with me and do not give me u!.
)owever, * must not digress. Before !roceeding further, * should give the reader a
word of warning. Those who !urchase $ust(s boo# on the strength of this cha!ter
should not ta#e everything in it to be gos!el truth. 1 writer almost always !resents
one as!ect of a case, whereas every case can be seen from no less than seven !oints
of view, all of which are !robably correct by themselves, but not correct at the same
time and in the same circumstances. 1nd then many boo#s are written with a view to
gaining customers and earning name and fame. 4et those, therefore, who read such
boo#s as these do so with discernment, and ta#e e&!eriments set forth, or let them
read the boo#s with !atience and digest them thoroughly before acting u!on them.
A ,ARNING
* am afraid * must continue the digression until the ne&t cha!ter. 1long with my
e&!eriments in earth treatment, those in dietetics were also being carried on, and it
may not be out of !lace here to ma#e a few observations as regards the latter, though
* shall have occasion to refer to them again later.
* may not, now or hereafter, enter into a detailed account of the e&!eriments in
dietetics, for * did so in a series of Gu,arati articles which a!!eared years ago in
/ndian 8pinin, and which were afterwards !ublished in the form of a boo# !o!ularly
#nown in 6nglish as A (uide t Health. 1mong my little boo#s this has been the most
widely read ali#e in the 6ast and in the 5est, a thing that * have not yet been able to
understand. *t was written for the benefit of the readers of /ndian 8pinin. But * #now
that the boo#let has !rofoundly influenced the lives of many, both in the 6ast and in
the 5est, who have never seen /ndian 8pinin. 0or they have been corres!onding
with me on the sub,ect. *t has therefore a!!eared necessary to say something here
about the boo#let, for though * see no reason to alter the views set forth in it, yet *
have made certain radical changes in my actual !ractice, of which all readers of the
boo# do not #now, and of which, * thin#, they should be informed.
The boo#let was written, li#e all my other writings, with a s!iritual end, which has
always ins!ired every one of my actions, and therefore it is a matter for dee! distress
to me that * am unable today to !ractise some of the theories !ro!ounded in the
boo#.
*t is my firm conviction that man need ta#e no mil# at all, beyond the mother(s mil#
that he ta#es as a baby. )is diet should consist of nothing but sunba#ed fruits and
nuts. )e can secure enough nourishment both for the tissues and the nerves from
fruits li#e gra!es and nuts li#e almonds. +estraint of the se&ual and other !assions
becomes easy for a man who lives on such food. My co/wor#ers and * have seen by
e&!erience that there is much truth in the *ndian !roverb that as a man eats, so shall
he become. These views have been set out elaborately in the boo#.
But unfortunately in *ndia * have found myself obliged to deny some of my theories in
!ractice. 5hilst * was engaged on the recruiting cam!aign in Kheda, an error in diet
laid me low, and * was at death(s door. * tried in vain to rebuild a shattered
constitution without mil#. * sought the hel! of the doctors, vaidyas and scientists
whom * #new, to recommend a substitute for mil#. Some suggested mun! water, some
m&hra oil, some almond/mil#. * wore out my body in e&!erimenting on these, but
nothing could hel! me to leave the sic#bed. The vaidyas read verses to me from
-hara#a to show that religious scru!les about diet have no !lace in thera!eutics. So
they could not be e&!ected to hel! me to continue to live without mil#. 1nd how
could those who recommended beef/tea and brandy without hesitation hel! me to
!ersevere with a mil#less diet@
* might not ta#e cow(s or buffalo(s mil#, as * was bound by a vow. The vow of course
meant the giving u! of all mil#s, but as * had mother cow(s and mother buffalo(s only
in mind when * too# the vow, and as * wanted to live, * somehow beguiled myself into
em!hasi2ing the letter of the vow and decided to ta#e goat(s mil#. * was fully
conscious, when * started ta#ing mother goat(s mil#, that the s!irit of my vow was
destroyed.
But the idea of leading a cam!aign against the +owlatt 1ct had !ossessed me. 1nd
with it grew the desire to live. -onse3uently one of the greatest e&!eriments in my
life came to a sto!.
* #now it is argued that the soul has nothing to do with what one eats or drin#s, as the
soul neither eats nor drin#sC that it is not what you !ut inside from without, but what
you e&!ress outwardly from within, that matters. There is no doubt some force in
this. But rather than e&amine this reasoning. * shall content myself with merely
declaring my firm conviction that, for the see#er who would live in fear of God and
who would see )im face to face, restraint in diet both as to 3uantity and 3uality is as
essential as restraint in thought and s!eech.
*n a matter, however, where my theory has failed me, * should not only give the
information, but issue a grave warning against ado!ting it. * would therefore urge
those who, on the strength of the theory !ro!ounded by me, may have given u! mil#,
not to !ersist in the e&!eriment, unless they find it beneficial in every way, or unless
they are advised by e&!erienced !hysicians. U! to now my e&!erience here has shown
me that for those with a wea# digestion and for those who are confined to bed there
is no light and nourishing diet e3ual to that of mil#.
* should be greatly obliged if anyone with e&!erience in this line, who ha!!ens to read
this cha!ter, would tell me, if he has #nown from e&!erience, and not from reading,
of a vegetable substitute for mil#, which is e3ually nourishing and digestible.
A T#$$E ,ITH P!,ER
To turn now to the 1siatic "e!artment.
$ohannesburg was the stronghold of the 1siatic officers. * had been observing that, far
from !rotecting the *ndians, -hinese and others, these officers were grinding them
down. 6very day * had com!laints li#e this' (The rightful ones are not admitted, whilst
those who have no right are smuggled in on !ayment of 9AA. *f you will not remedy
this state of things, who will@( * shared the feeling. *f * did not succeed in stam!ing out
this evil, * should be living in the Transvaal in vain.
So * began to collect evidence, and as soon as * had gathered a fair 1mount, *
a!!roached the Police -ommissioner. )e a!!eared to be a ,ust man. 0ar from giving
me the cold shoulder, he listened to me !atiently and as#ed me to show him all the
evidence in my !ossession. )e e&amined the witnesses himself and was satisfied, but
he #new as well as * that it was difficult in South 1frica to get a white ,ury to convict
a white offender against coloured men. (But,( said he, (let us try at any rate. *t is not
!ro!er either, to let such criminals go scot/free for fear of the ,ury ac3uitting them, *
must get them arrested. * assure you * shall leave no stone unturned.(
* did not need the assurance. * sus!ected 3uite a number of officers, but as * had no
unchallengeable evidence against them all, warrants of arrest were issued against the
two about whose guilt * had not the slightest doubt.
My movements could never be #e!t secret. Many #new that * was going to the Police
-ommissioner !ractically daily. The two officers against whom warrants had been
issued had s!ies more or less efficient. They used to !atrol my office and re!ort my
movements to the officers. * must admit, however, that these officers were so bad
that they could not have had many s!ies. )ad the *ndians and the -hinese not hel!ed
me, they would never have been arrested.
ne of these absconded. The Police -ommissioner obtained an e&tradition warrant
against him and got him arrested and brought to the Transvaal. They were tried, and
although there was strong evidence against them, and in s!ite of the fact that the
,ury had evidence of one of them having absconded, both were declared to be not
guilty and ac3uitted.
* was sorely disa!!ointed. The Police -ommissioner also was very sorry. * got disgusted
with the legal !rofession. The very intellect became an abomination to me inasmuch
as it could be !rostituted for screening crime.
)owever, the guilt of both these officers was so !atent that in s!ite of their ac3uittal
the Government could not harbour them. Both were cashiered, and the 1siatic
de!artment became com!aratively clean, and the *ndian community was somewhat
reassured.
The event enhanced my !restige and brought me more business. The bul#, though not
all, of the hundreds of !ounds that the community was monthly s3uandering in
!eculation, was saved. 1ll could not be saved, for the dishonest still !lied their trade.
But it was now !ossible for the honest man to !reserve his honesty.
* must say that, though these officers were so bad, * had nothing against them
!ersonally. They were aware of this themselves, and when in their straits they
a!!roached me, * hel!ed them too. They had a chance of getting em!loyed by the
$ohannesburg Munici!ality in case * did not o!!ose the !ro!osal. 1 friend of theirs saw
me in this connection and * agreed not to thwart them, and they succeeded.
This attitude of mine !ut the officials with whom * came in contact !erfectly at ease,
and though * had often to fight with their de!artment and use strong language, they
remained 3uite friendly with me. * was not then 3uite conscious that such behaviour
was !art of my nature. * learnt later that it was an essential !art of Satyagraha, and
an attribute of ahimsa.
Man and his deed are two distinct things. 5hereas a good deed should call forth
a!!robation and a wic#ed deed disa!!robation, the doer of the deed, whether good
or wic#ed always deserves res!ect or !ity as the case may be. ()ate the sin and not
the sinner( is a !rece!t which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely !ractised,
and that is why the !oison of hatred s!reads in the world.
This ahimsa is the basis of the search for truth. * am reali2ing every day that the
search is vain unless it is founded on ahimsa as the basis. *t is 3uite !ro!er to resist
and attac# a system, but to resist and attac# its author is tantamount to resisting and
attac#ing oneself. 0or we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one
and the same -reator, and as such the divine !owers within us are infinite. To slight a
single human being is to slight those divine !owers, and thus to harm not only that
being but with him the whole world.
A $ACRED REC!ECTI!N AND PENANCE
1 variety of incidents in my life have cons!ired to bring me in close contact with
!eo!le of many creeds and many communities, and my e&!erience with all of them
warrants the statement that * have #nown no distinction between relatives and
strangers, countrymen and foreigners, white and coloured, )indus and *ndians of
other faiths, whether Musalmans, Parsis, -hristians or $ews. * may say that my heart
has been inca!able of ma#ing any such distinctions. * cannot claim this as a s!ecial
virtue, as it is in my very nature. rather than a result of any effort on my !art,
whereas in the case of ahimsa >non/ violence?, brahmacharya >celibacy?, apari!raha
>non/!ossession? and other cardinal virtues, * am fully conscious of a continuous
striving for their cultivation.
5hen * was !ractising in "urban, my office cler#s often stayed with me, and there
were among them )indus and -hristians, or to describe them by their !rovinces,
Gu,aratis and Tamilians. * do not recollect having ever regarded them as anything but
my #ith and #in. * treated them as members of my family, and had un!leasantness
with my wife if ever she stood in the way of my treating them as such. ne of the
cler#s was a -hristian, born of Panchama !arents.
The house was built after the 5estern model and the rooms rightly had no outlets for
dirty water. 6ach room had therefore chamber/!ots. +ather than have these cleaned
by a servant or a swee!er, my wife or * attended to them. The cler#s who made
themselves com!letely at home would naturally clean their own !ots, but the
-hristian cler# was a newcomer, and it was our duty to attend to his bedroom. My
wife managed the !ots of the others, but to clean those used by one who had been a
Panchama seemed to her to be the limit, and we fell out. She could not bear the !ots
being cleaned by me, neither did she li#e doing it herself. 6ven today * can recall the
!icture of her chiding me, her eyes red with anger, and !earl dro!s streaming down
her chee#s, as she descended the ladder, !ot in hand. But * was a cruelly #ind
husband. * regarded myself as her teacher, and so harassed her out of my blind love
for her.
* was far from being satisfied by her merely carrying the !ot. * would have her do it
cheerfully. So * said, raising my voice' (* will not stand this nonsense in my house.(
The words !ierced her li#e an arrow.
She shouted bac#' (Kee! your house to yourself and let me go.( * forgot myself, and
the s!ring of com!assion dried u! in me. * caught her by the hand, dragged the
hel!less woman to the gate, which was ,ust o!!osite the ladder, and !roceeded to
o!en it with the intention of !ushing her out. The tears were running down her chee#s
in torrents, and she cried' ()ave you no sense of shame@ Must you so far forget
yourself@ 5here am * to go@ * have no !arents or relatives here to harbour me. Being
your wife, you thin# * must !ut u! with your cuffs and #ic#s@ 0or )eaven(s sa#e behave
yourself, and shut the gate. 4et us not be found ma#ing scenes li#e thisB(
* !ut on a brave face, but was really ashamed and shut the gate. *f my wife could not
leave me, neither could * leave her. 5e have had numerous bic#erings, but the end
has always been !eace between us. The wife, with her matchless !owers of
endurance, has always been the victor.
Today * am in a !osition to narrate the incident with some detachment, as it belongs
to a !eriod out of which * have fortunately emerged. * am no longer a blind,
infatuated husband, * am no more my wife(s teacher. Kasturba can, if she will, be as
un!leasant to me today, as * used to be to her before. 5e are tried friends, the one
no longer regarding the other as the ob,ect of ,ust. She has been a faithful nurse
throughout my illnesses, serving without any thought of reward.
The incident in 3uestion occurred in 9:<:, when * had no conce!tion of
brahmacharya. *t was a time when * thought that the wife was the ob,ect of her
husband(s lust, born to do her husband(s behest, rather than a hel!mate, a comrade
and a !artner in the husband(s ,oys and sorrows.
*t was in the year 9<AA that these ideas underwent a radical transformation, and in
9<A; they too# concrete sha!e. But of this * !ro!ose to s!ea# in its !ro!er !lace.
Suffice it to say that with the gradual disa!!earance in me of the carnal a!!etite, my
domestic life became and is becoming more and more !eaceful, sweet and ha!!y.
4et no one conclude from this narrative of a sacred recollection that we are by any
means an ideal cou!le, or that there is a com!lete identity of ideals between us.
Kasturba herself does not !erha!s #now whether she has any ideals inde!endently of
me. *t is li#ely that many of my doings have not her a!!roval even today. 5e never
discuss them, * see no good in discussing them. 0or she was educated neither by her
!arents nor by me at the time when * ought to have done it. But she is blessed with
one great 3uality to a very considerable degree, a 3uality which most )indu wives
!ossess in some measure. 1nd it is thisC willingly or unwillingly, consciously or
unconsciously, she has considered herself blessed in following in my footste!s, and has
never stood in the way of my endeavour to lead a life of restraint. Though, therefore,
there is a wide difference between us intellectually, * have always had the feeling
that ours is a life of contentment, ha!!iness and !rogress.
INTIMATE E#R!PEAN C!NTACT$
This cha!ter has brought me to a stage where it becomes necessary for me to e&!lain
to the reader how this story is written from wee# to wee#.
5hen * began writing it, * had no definite !lan before me. * have no diary or
documents on which to base the story of my e&!eriments. * write ,ust as the S!irit
moves me at the time of writing. * do not claim to #now definitely that all conscious
thought and action on my !art is directted by the S!irit. But on an e&amination of the
greatest ste!s that * have ta#en in my life, as also of those that may be regarded as
the least, * thin# it will not be im!ro!er to say that all of them were directed by the
S!irit.
* have not seen )im, neither have * #nown )im. * have made the world(s faith in God
my own, and as my faith is ineffaceable , * regard that faith as amounting to
e&!erience. )owever, as it may be said that to describe faith as e&!erience is to
tam!er with truth, it may !erha!s be more correct to say that * have no word for
characteri2ing my belief in God.
*t is !erha!s now somewhat easy to understand why * believe that * am writing story
as the S!irit !rom!ts me. 5hen * began the last cha!ter * gave it the heading * have
given to this, but as * was writing it, * reali2ed that before * narrated my e&!eriences
with 6uro!eans, * must write something by way of a !reface. This * did not and
altered the heading.
%ow again, as * start on this cha!ter, * find myself confronted with a fresh !roblem.
5hat things to mention and what to omit regarding the 6nglish friends of whom * am
about to write is a serious !roblem. *f things that are relevant are omitted, truth will
be dimmed. 1nd it is difficult to decide straightway what is relevant, when * am not
even sure about the relevancy of writing this story.
* understand more clearly today what * read long ago about the inade3uacy of all
autobiogra!hy as history. * #now that * do not set down in this story all that *
remember. 5ho can say how much * must give and how much omit in the interests of
truth@ 1nd what would be the value in a court of law of the inade3uate e, parte
evidence being tendered by me of certain events in my life@ *f some busybody were to
cross/e&amine me on the cha!ters already written, he could !robably shed much
more light on them, and if it were a hostile critic(s cross/e&amination, he might even
flatter himself for having shown u! (the hollowness of many of my !retensions.(
*, therefore, wonder for a moment whether it might not be !ro!er to sto! writing
these cha!ters. But so long as there is no !rohibition from the voice within, * must
continue the writing. * must follow the sage ma&im that nothing once begun should be
abandoned unless it is !roved to be morally wrong.
* am not writing the autobiogra!hy to !lease critics. 5riting it is itself one of the
e&!eriments with truth. ne of its ob,ects is certainly to !rovide some comfort and
food for reflection for my co/ wor#ers. *ndeed * started writing it in com!liance with
their wishes. *t might not have been written, if $eramdas and Swami 1nand had not
!ersisted in their suggestion. *f, therefore, * am wrong in writing the autobiogra!hy,
they must share the blame.
But to ta#e u! the sub,ect indicated in the heading. $ust as * had *ndians living with
me as members of my family, so had * 6nglish friends living with me in "urban. %ot
that all who lived with me li#ed it. But * !ersisted in having them. %or was * wise in
every case. * had some bitter e&!eriences, but these included both *ndians and
6uro!eans. 1nd * do not regret the e&!eriences. *n s!ite of them, and in s!ite of the
inconvenience and worry that * have often caused to friends, * have not altered my
conduct and friends have #indly borne with me. 5henever my contacts with strangers
have been !ainful to friends,* have not hesitated to blame them. * hold that believers
who have to see the same God in others that they see in themselves, must be able to
live amongst all with sufficient detachment. 1nd the ability to live thus can be
cultivated, not by fighting shy of unsought o!!ortunities for such contacts, but by
hailing them in a s!irit of service and withal #ee!ing oneself unaffected by them.
Though, therefore, my house was full when the Boer 5ar bro#e out, * received two
6nglishmen who had come from $ohannesburg. Both were theoso!hists, one of them
being Mr. Kitchin, of whom we shall have occasion to #now more later. These friends
often cost my wife bitter tears. Unfortunately she has had many such trials on my
account. This was the first time that * had 6nglish friends to live with me as
intimately as members of my family. * had stayed in 6nglish houses during my days in
6ngland, but there * conformed to their ways of living, and it was more or less li#e
living in a boarding house. )ere it was 3uite the contrary. The 6nglish friends became
members of the family. They ado!ted the *ndian style in many matters. Though the
a!!ointments in the house were in the 5estern fashion, the internal life was mostly
*ndian. * do remember having had some difficulty in #ee!ing them as members of the
family, but * can certainly say that they had no difficulty in ma#ing themselves
!erfectly at home under my roof. *n $ohannesburg these contacts develo!ed further
than in "urban.
E#R!PEAN C!NTACT$ 2C3ntd45
*n $ohannesburg * had at one time as many as four *ndian cler#s, who were !erha!s
more li#e my sons than cler#s. But even these were not enough for my wor#. *t was
im!ossible to do without ty!ewriting, which, among us, if at all, only * #new. * taught
it to two of the cler#s, but they never came u! to the mar# because of their !oor
6nglish. 1nd then one of these * wanted to train as an accountant. * could not get out
anyone from %atal, for nobody could enter the Transvaal without a !ermit, and for my
own !ersonal convenience * was not !re!ared to as# a favour of the Permit fficer.
* was at my wits( end. 1rrears were fast mounting u!, so much so that it seemed
im!ossible for me, however much * might try, to co!e with !rofessional and !ublic
wor#. * was 3uite willing to engage a 6uro!ean cler#, but * was not sure to get a white
man or woman to serve a coloured man li#e myself. )owever * decided to try. *
a!!roached a ty!ewriter(s agent whom * #new, and as#ed him to get me a
stenogra!her. There were girls available, and he !romised to try to secure the
services of one. )e came across a Scotch girl called Miss "ic#, who had ,ust come
fresh from Scotland. She had no ob,ection to earning an honest livelihood, wherever
available, and she was in need. So the agent sent her on to me. She immediately
!re!ossessed me.
("on(t you mind serving under an *ndian@( * as#ed her.
(%ot at all,( was her firm re!ly.
(5hat salary do you e&!ect@(
(5ould L 9FM9A be too much@(
(%ot too much if you will give me the wor# * want from you. 5hen can you ,oin@(
(This moment if you wish.(
* was very !leased and straightaway started dictating letters to her.
Before very long she became more a daughter or a sister to me than a mere
stenoty!ist. * had scarcely any reason to find fault with her wor#. She was often
entrusted with the management of funds amounting to thousands of !ounds, and she
was in charge of account boo#s. She won my com!lete confidence, but what was
!erha!s more, she confided to me her innermost thoughts and feelings. She sought my
advice in the final choice of her husband, and * had the !rivilege to give her away in
marriage. 1s soon as Miss "ic# became Mrs. Macdonald, she had to leave me, but even
after her marriage she did not fail to res!ond, whenever under !ressure * made a call
u!on her.
But a !ermanent stenoty!ist was now needed in her !lace, and * was fortunate in
getting another girl. She was Miss Schlesin, introduced to me by Mr. Kallenbach, whom
the reader will #now in due course. She is at !resent a teacher in one of the )igh
School in the Transvaal. She was about seventeen when she came to me. Some of her
idiosyncrasies were at times too much for Mr. Kallenbach and me. She had come less
to wor# as a stenoty!ist than to gain e&!erience. -olour !re,udice was foreign to her
tem!erament. She seemed to mind neither age nor e&!erience. She would not
hesitate even to the !oint of insulting a man and telling him to his face what she
thought of him. )er im!etuosity often landed me in difficulties, but her o!en and
guileless tem!erament removed them as soon as they were created. * have often
signed without revision letters ty!ed by her, as * considered her 6nglish to be better
than mine, and had the fullest confidence in her loyalty.
)er sacrifice was great. 0or a considerable !eriod she did not draw more than L ;,
and refused ever to receive more than L 9A a month. 5hen * urged her to ta#e more,
she would give me a scolding and say, (* am not here to draw a salary you. * am here
because * li#e to wor# with you and * li#e your ideals.(
She had once an occasion to ta#e L EA from me, but she insisted on having it as a
loan, and re!aid the full amount last year. )er courage was e3ual to her sacrifice. She
is one of the few women * have been !rivileged to come across, with a character as
clear as crystal and courage that would shame a warrior. She is a grown u! woman
now. * do not #now her mind 3uite as well as when she was with me, but my contact
with this young lady will ever be for me a sacred recollection. * would therefore be
false to truth if * #e!t bac# what * #now about her.
She #new neither night nor day in toiling for the cause. She ventured out on errands
in the dar#nes of the night all by herself, and angrily scouted any suggestion of an
escort. Thousands of stalwart *ndians loo#ed u! to her for guidance. 5hen during the
Satyagraha days almost every one of the leaders was in ,ail, she led the movement
single/ handed. She had the management of thousands, a tremendous amount of
corres!ondence, and /ndian 8pinin in her hands, but she never wearied.
* could go on without end writing thus about Miss Schlesin, but * shall conclude this
cha!ter with citing Go#hale(s estimate of her. Go#hale #new every one of my co/
wor#ers. )e was !leased with many of them, and would often give his o!inion of
them. )e gave the first !lace to Miss Schlesin amongst all the *ndian and 6uro!ean co/
wor#ers. (* have rarely met with the sacrifice, the !urity and the fearlessness * have
seen in Miss Schlesin,( said he. (1mongst your co/wor#ers, she ta#es the first !lace in
my estimation.(
&INDIAN !PINI!N&
Before * !roceed with the other intimate 6uro!ean contacts, * must note two or three
items of im!ortance. ne of the contacts, however, should be mentioned at once. The
a!!ointment of Miss "ic# was not enough for my !ur!ose. * needed more assistance. *
have in the earlier cha!ters referred to Mr. +itch. * #new him well. )e was manager in
a commercial firm. )e a!!roved my suggestion of leaving the firm and getting
articled under me, and he considerably lightened my burden.
1bout this time S,t. Madan,it a!!roached me with a !ro!osal to start /ndian 8pinin
and sought my advice. )e had already been conducting a !ress, and * a!!roved of his
!ro!osal. The ,ournal was launched in 9<AE, and S,t. Mansu#hlal %aa2ar became the
first editor. But * had to bear the brunt of the wor#, having for most of the time to be
!ractically in charge of the ,ournal. %ot that S,t. Mansu#hlal could not carry it on. )e
had been doing a fair amount of ,ournalism whilst in *ndia, but he would never
venture to write on intricate South 1frican !roblems so long as * was there. )e had
the greatest confidence in my discernment, and therefore threw on me the
res!onsibility of attending to the editorial columns. The ,ournal has been until this
day a wee#ly, *n the beginning it used to be issued in Gu,arati, )indi, Tamil and
6nglish. * saw, however, that the Tamil and )indi sections were a ma#e/believe. They
did not serve the !ur!ose for which they were intended, so * discontinued them as *
even felt that there would be a certain amount of dece!tion involved in their
continuance.
* had no notion that * should have to invest any money in this ,ournal, but * soon
discovered that it could not go on without my financial hel!. The *ndians and the
6uro!eans both #new that, though * was not avowedly the editor of /ndian 8pinin, *
was virtually res!onsible for its conduct. *t would not have mattered if the ,ournal
had never been started, but to sto! it after it had once been launched would have
been both a loss and a disgrace. So * #e!t on !ouring out my money, until ultimately *
was !ractically sin#ing all my savings in it. * remember a time when * had to remit L
FG each month.
But after all these years * feel that the ,ournal has served the community well. *t was
never intended to be a commercial concern. So long as it was under my control, the
changes in the ,ournal were indicative of changes in my life. /ndian 8pinin in those
days, li#e 2un! /ndia and Navajivan today, was a mirror of !art of my life. 5ee# after
wee# * !oured out my soul in its columns, and e&!ounded the !rinci!les and !ractice
of Satyagraha as * understood it. "uring ten years, that is, until 9<9E, e&ce!ting the
intervals of my enforced rest in !rison, there was hardly an issue of /ndian 8pinin
without an article from me. * cannot recall a word in those articles set down without
thought or deliberation, or a word of conscious e&aggeration, or anything merely to
!lease. *ndeed the ,ournal became for me a training in self/restraint, and for friends a
medium through which to #ee! in touch with my thoughts. The critic found very little
to which he could ob,ect. *n fact the tone of /ndian 8pinin com!elled the critic to
!ut a curb on his own !en. Satyagraha would !robably have been im!ossible without
/ndian 8pinin. The readers loo#ed forward to it for a trustworthy account of the
Satyagraha cam!aign as also of the real condition of *ndians in South 1frica. 0or me it
became a means for the study of human nature in all its casts and shades, as * always
aimed at establishing an intimate and clean bond between the editor and the readers.
* was inundated with letters containing the out!ourings of my corres!ondents( hearts.
They were friendly, critical or bitter, according to the tem!er of the writer. *t was a
fine eduction for me to study, digest and answer all this corres!ondence. *t was as
though the community thought audibly through this corres!ondence with me. *t made
me throughly understand the res!onsibility of a ,ournalist, and the hold * secured in
this way over the community made the furure cam!aign wor#able, dignified and
irresistible.
*n the very first month of /ndian 8pinin, * reali2ed that the sole aim of ,ournalism
should be service. The news!a!er !ress is a great !ower, but ,ust as an unchained
torrent of water submerges whole countrysides and devastates cro!s, even so an
uncontrolled !en serves but to destroy. *f the control is from without, it !roves more
!oisonous than want of control. *t can be !rofitable only when e&ercised from within.
*f this line of reasoning is correct, how many of the ,ournals in the world would stand
the test@ But who would sto! those that are useless@ 1nd who should be the ,udge@
The useful and the useless must, li#e good and evil generally, go on together, and man
must ma#e his choice.
C!!IE !CATI!N$ !R GHETT!E$-
Some of the classes which render us the greatest social service, but which we )indus
have chosen to regard as (untouchables,( are relegated to remote 3uarters of a town
or a village, called in Gu,arati dhedvad, and the name has ac3uired a bad odour.
6ven so in -hristian 6uro!e the $ews were once (untouchables( and the 3uarters that
were assigned to them had the offensive name of (ghettoes.( *n a similar way today we
have become the untouchables of South 1frica. *t remains to be seen how far the
sacrifice of 1ndrews and the magic wand of Sastri succeed in rehabilitating us.
The ancient $ews regarded themselves as the chosen !eo!le of God, to the e&clusion
of all others, with the result that their descendants were visited with a strange and
even un,ust retribution. 1lmost in a similar way the )indus have considered
themselves Aryas or civili2ed, and a section of their own #ith and #in as Anaryas or
untouchables, with the result that a strange, if un,ust, nemesis is being visited not
only u!on the )indus in South 1frica, but the Musalmans and Parsis as well, inasmuch
as they belong to the same country and have the same colour as their )indu brethren.
The reader will have now reali2ed to some e&tent the meaning of the word (locations(
with which * have headed this cha!ter. *n South 1frica we have ac3uired the odious
name of (coolies(. The word (coolie( in *ndia means only a !orter or hired wor#man, but
in South 1frica it has a contem!tuous connotation. *t means what a !ariah or an
untouchable means to us, and the 3uarters assigned to the (coolies( are #nown as
(coolie locations(. $ohannesburg had one such location, but unli#e other !laces with
locations where the *ndians had tenancy rights, in the $ohannesburg location the
*ndians had ac3uired their !lots on a lease of << years. Peo!le were densely !ac#ed in
the location, the area of which never increased with the increase in !o!ulation.
Beyond arranging to clean the latrines in the location in a ha!ha2ard way, the
Munici!ality did nothing to !rovide any sanitary facilities, much less good roads or
lights. *t was hardly li#ely that it would safeguard its sanitation, when it was
indifferent to the welfare of the residents. These were too ignorant of the rules of
munici!al sanitation and hygiene to do without the hel! or su!ervision of the
Munici!ality. *f those who went there had all been +obinson -rusoes, theirs would
have been a different story. But we do not #now of a single emigrant colony of
+obinson -rusoes in the world. Usually !eo!le migrate abroad in search of wealth and
trade, but the bul# of the *ndians who went to South 1frica were ignorant, !au!er
agriculturists, who needed all the care and !rotection that could be given them. The
traders and educated *ndians who followed them were very few.
The criminal negligence of the Munici!ality and the ignorance of the *ndian settlers
thus cons!ired to render the location thoroughly insanitary. The Munici!ality, far from
doing anything to im!rove the condition of the location, used the insanitation, caused
by their own neglect, as a !rete&t for destroying the location, and for that !ur!ose
obtained from the local legislature authority to dis!ossess the settlers. This was the
condition of things when * settled in $ohannesburg.
The settlers, having !ro!rietory rights in their land, were naturally entitled to
com!ensation. 1 s!ecial tribunal was a!!ointed to try the land ac3uisition cases. *f
the tenant was not !re!ared to acce!t the offer of the Munici!ality, he had a right to
a!!eal to the tribunal, and if the latter(s award e&ceeded the Munici!ality(s offer, the
Munici!ality had to bear the costs.
Most of the tenants engaged me as their legal adviser. * had no desire to ma#e money
out of these cases, so * told the tenants that * should be satisfied with whatever costs
the tribunal awarded, in case they won, and a fee of L 9A on every lease, irres!ective
of the result of the case. * also told them that * !ro!osed to set a!art half of the
money !aid by them for the building of a hos!ital or similar institution for the !oor.
This naturally !leased them all.
ut of about FA cases only was lost. So the fees amounted to a fairly big figure. But
/ndian 8pinin was there with its !ersistent claim and devoured, so far as * can
recollect, a sum of L 9,;AA. * had wor#ed hard for these cases. The clients always
surrounded me. Most of them were originally indentured labourers from Bihar and its
neighbourhood and from South *ndia. 0or the redress of their !eculiar grievances they
had formed an association of their own, se!arate from that of the free *ndian
merchants and traders. Some of them were o!en/ hearted, liberal men and had high
character. Their leaders were S,t. $airamsing, the !resident, and S,t. Badri, who was
as good as the !resident. Both of them are now no more. They were e&ceedingly
hel!ful to me. S,t. Badri came in very close contact with me and too# a !rominent
!art in Satyagraha. Through these and other friends * came in intimate contact with
numerous *ndian settlers from %orth and South *ndia. * became more their brother
than a mere legal adviser, and shared in all their !rivate and !ublic sorrows and
hardshi!s.
*t may be of some interest to #now how the *ndians used to name me. 1bdulla Sheth
refused to address me as Gandhi. %one, fortunately, ever insulted me by calling or
regarding me as (saheb(. 1bdulla Sheth hit u!on a fine a!!ellation/(bhai(, i.e., brother.
thers followed him and continued to address me as (bhai( until the moment * left
when it was used by the e&/indentured *ndians.
THE BACK PAG#E - I
The *ndians were not removed from the location as soon as the Munici!ality secured
its ownershi!. *t was necessary to find the residents suitable new 3uarters before
dislodging them, but as the Munici!ality could not easily do this, the *ndians were
suffered to stay in the same (dirty( location, with this difference that their condition
became worse than before. )aving ceased to be !ro!rietors they became tenants of
the Munici!ality, with the result that their surroundings became more insanitary than
ever. 5hen they were !ro!rietors, they had to maintain some sort of cleanliness, if
only for fear of the law. The Munici!ality had no such fearB The number of tenants
increased, and with them the s3ualor and the disorder.
5hile the *ndians were fretting over this state of things, there was a sudden outbrea#
of the blac# !lague, also called the !neumonic !lague, more terrible and fatal than
the bubonic.
0ortunately it was not the location but one of the gold mines in the vicinity of
$ohannesburg that was res!onsible for the outbrea#. The wor#ers in this mine were
for the most !art negroes, for whose cleanliness their white em!loyers were solely
res!onsible. There were a few *ndians also wor#ing in connection with the mine,
twenty/three of whom suddenly caught the infection, and returned one evening to
their 3uarters in the location with an acute attac# of the !lague. S,t. Madan,it, who
was then canvassing subscribers for /ndian 8pinin and reali2ing subscri!tions,
ha!!ened to be in the location at this moment. )e was a remar#ably fearless man.
)is heart we!t to see these victims of the scourage, and he sent a !encil/note to me
to the following effect' (There has been a sudden outbrea# of the blac# !lague. =ou
must come immediately and ta#e !rom!t measures, otherwise we must be !re!ared
for dire conse3uences. Please come immediately.(
S,t. Madan,it bravely bro#e o!en the loc# of a vacant house, and !ut all the !atients
there. * cycled to the location, and wrote to the Town -ler# to inform him of the
circumstances in which we had ta#en !ossession of the house.
"r. 5illiam Godfrey, who was !ractising in $ohannesburg, ran to the rescue as soon as
he got the news, and became both nurse and doctor to the !atients. But twenty/three
!atients were more than three of us could co!e with.
*t is my faith, based on e&!erience, that if one(s heart is !ure, calamity brings in its
train men and measures to fight it. * had at that time four *ndians in my office S,ts.
Kalyandas, Mane#lal, Gunvantrai "esai and another whose name * cannot recollect.
Kalyandas had been entrusted to me by his father. *n South 1frica * have rarely come
across anyone more obliging and willing to render im!licit obedience than Kalyandas.
0ortunately he was unmarried then, and * did not hesitate to im!ose on him duties
involving ris#s, however great Mane#lal * had secured in $ohannesburg. )e too, so far
as * can remember, was unmarried. So * decided to sacrifice all four / call them cler#s,
co/wor#ers or sons. There was no need at all to consult Kalyandas. The others
e&!ressed their readiness as soon as they were as#ed. (5here you are, we will also
be(, was their short and sweet re!ly.
Mr. +itch had a large family. )e was ready to ta#e the !lunge, but * !revented him. *
had not the heart to e&!ose him to the ris#. So he attended to the wor# outside the
danger 2one.
*t was a terrible night / that night of vigil and nursing. * had nursed a number of
!atients before, but never any attac#ed by the blac# !lague. "r. Godfrey(s !luc#
!roved infectious. There was not much nursing re3uired. To give them their doses of
medicine, to attend to their wants, to #ee! them and their beds clean and tidy, and
to cheer them u! was all that we had to do.
The indefatigable 2eal and fearlessness with which the youths wor#ed re,oiced me
beyond measure. ne could understand the bravery of "r. Godfrey and of an
e&!erienced man li#e S,t. Madan,it. But the s!irit of these callow youthsB
So far as * can recollect, we !ulled all the !atients through that night.
But the whole incident, a!art from its !athos, is of such absorbing interest and, for
me, of such religious value, that * must devote to it at least two more cha!ters.
THE BACK PAG#E - II
The Town -ler# e&!ressed his gratitude to me for having ta#en charge of the vacant
house and the !atients. )e fran#ly confessed that the Town -ouncil had no immediate
means to co!e with such an emergency, but !romised that they would render all the
hel! in their !ower. nce awa#ened to a sense of their duty, the Munici!ality made no
delay in ta#ing !rom!t measures.
The ne&t day they !laced a vacant godown at my dis!osal, and suggested that the
!atients be removed there, but the Munici!ality did not underta#e to clean the
!remises. The building was un#em!t and unclean. 5e cleaned it u! ourselves, raised a
few beds and other necessaries through the offices of charitable *ndians, and
im!rovised a tem!orary hos!ital. The Munici!ality lent the services of a nurse, who
came with brandy and other hos!ital e3ui!ment. "r. Godfrey still remained in charge.
The nurse was a #indly lady and would fain have attended to the !atients, but we
rarely allowed her to touch them, lest she should catch the contagion.
5e had instructions to give the !atients fre3uent doses of brandy. The nurse even
as#ed us to ta#e it for !recaution, ,ust as she was doing herself. But none of us would
touch it. * had no faith in its beneficial effect even for the !atients. 5ith the
!ermission of "r. Godfrey, * !ut three !atients, who were !re!ared to do without
brandy, under the earth treatment, a!!lying wet earth bandages to their heads and
chests. Two of these were saved. The other twenty died in the godown.
Meanwhile the Munici!ality was busy ta#ing other measures. There was a la2aretto for
contagious diseases about seven miles from $ohannesburg. The two surviving !atients
were removed to tents near the la2aretto, and arrangements were made for sending
any fresh cases there. 5e were thus relieved of our wor#.
*n the course of a few days we learnt that the good nurse had an attac# and
immediately succumbed. *t is im!ossible to say how the two !atients were saved and
how we remained immune, but the e&!erience enhanced my faith in earth treatment,
as also my sce!ticism of the efficacy of brandy, even as a medicine. * #now that
neither this faith nor this sce!ticism is based u!on any solid grounds, but * still retain
the im!ression which * then received, and have therefore thought it necessary to
mention it here.
n the outbrea# of the !lague, * had addressed a strong letter to the !ress, holding
the Munici!ality guilty of negligence after the location came into its !ossession and
res!onsible for the outbrea# of the !lague itself. This letter secured me Mr. )enry
Pola#, and was !artly res!onsible for the friendshi! of the late +ev. $ose!h "o#e.
* have said in an earlier cha!ter that * used to have my meals at a vegetarian
restaurant. )ere * met Mr. 1lbert 5est. 5e used to meet in this restaurant every
evening and go out wal#ing after dinner. Mr. 5est was a !artner in a small !rinting
concern. )e read my letter in the !ress about the outbrea# of the !lague and, not
finding me in the restaurant, felt uneasy.
My co/wor#ers and * had reduced our diet since the outbrea#, as * had long made it a
rule to go on a light diet during e!idemics. *n these days * had therefore given u! my
evening dinner. 4unch also * would finish before the other guests arrived. * #new the
!ro!rietor of the restaurant very well, and * had informed him that, as * was engaged
in nursing the !lague !atients, * wanted to avoid the contact of friends as much as
!ossible.
%ot finding me in the restaurant for a day or two, Mr. 5est #noc#ed at my door early
one morning ,ust as * was getting ready to go out for a wal#. 1s * o!ened the door Mr.
5est said' (* did not find you in the restaurant and was really afraid lest something
should have ha!!ened to you. So * decided to come and see you in the morning in
order to ma#e sure of finding you at home. 5ell, here * am at your dis!osal. * am
ready to hel! in nursing the !atients. =ou #now that * have no one de!ending on me.(
* e&!ressed my gratitude, and without ta#ing even a second to thin#, re!lied' (* will
not have you as a nurse. *f there are no more cases, we shall be free in a day or two.
There is one thing however.(
(=es, what is it@(
(-ould you ta#e charge of the /ndian 8pinin !ress at "urban@ Mr. Madan,it is li#ely to
be engaged here, and someone is needed at "urban. *f you could go, * should feel
3uite relieved on that score.(
(=ou #now that * have a !ress. Most !robably * shall be able to go, but may * give my
final re!ly in the evening@ 5e shall tal# it over during our evening wal#.
* was delighted. 5e had the tal#. )e agreed to go. Salary was no consideration to
him, as money was not his motive, But a salary L9A !er month and a !art of the
!rofits, if any, was fi&ed u!. The very ne&t day Mr. 5est left for "urban by the evening
mail, entrusting me with the recovery of his dues. 0rom that day until the time * left
the shores of South 1frica, he remained a !artner of my ,oys and sorrows.
Mr. 5est belonged to a !easant family in 4outh >4incolnshire?. )e had an ordinary
school education, but had learnt a good deal in the school of e&!erience and by dint
of self/hel!. * have always #nown him to be a !ure, sober, god/fearing, humane
6nglishman.
5e shall #now more of him and his family in the cha!ters to follow.
!CATI!N IN %AME$
Though my co/wor#ers and * were relieved of the charge of the !atients, there
remained many things arising out of the blac# !lague still to be dealt with.
* have referred to the negligence of the Munici!ality regarding the location. But it was
wide awa#e so far as the health of its white citi2ens was concerned. *t had s!ent large
amounts for the !reservation of their health and now it !oured forth money li#e
water in order to stam! out the !lague. *n s!ite of the many sins of omission and
commission against the *ndians that * had laid at the door of the Munici!ality, * could
not hel! commending its solicitude for the white citi2ens, and * rendered it as much
hel! as * could in its laudable efforts. * have an im!ression that, if * had withheld my
co/o!eration, the tas# would have been more difficult for the Munici!ality, and that it
would not have hesitated to use armed force and do its worst.
But all that was averted. The Munici!al authorities were !leased at the *ndians(
behaviour, and much of the future wor# regarding !lague measures was sim!lified. *
used all the influence * could command with the *ndians to ma#e them submit to the
re3uirements of the Munici!ality. *t was far from easy for the *ndians to go all that
length, but * do not remember anyone having resisted my advice.
The location was !ut under a strong guard, !assage in and out being made im!ossible
without !ermission. My co/wor#ers and * had free !ermits of entry and e&it. The
decision was to ma#e the whole location !o!ulation vacate, and live under canvas for
three wee#s in an o!en !lain about thirteen miles from $ohannesburg, and then to set
fire to the location. To settle down under canvas with !rovisions and other necessaries
was bound to ta#e some time, and a guard became necessary during the interval.
The !eo!le were in a terrible fright, but my constant !resence was a consolation to
them. Many of the !oor !eo!le used to hoard their scanty savings underground. This
had to be unearthed. They had no ban#, they #new none. * became their ban#er.
Streams of money !oured into my office. * could not !ossibly charge any fees for my
labours in such a crisis. * co!ed with the wor# somehow. * #new my ban# manager very
well. * told him that * should have to de!osit these moneys with him. The ban#s were
by no means an&ious to acce!t large amounts of co!!er and silver. There was also the
fear of ban# cler#s refusing to touch money coming from a !lague/affected area. But
the manager accommodated me in every way. *t was decided to disinfect all the
money before sending it to the ban#. So far as * can remember, nearly si&ty thousand
!ounds were thus de!osited. * advised such of the !eo!le as had enough money to
!lace it as fi&ed de!osit, and they acce!ted the advice. The result was some of them
became accustomed to invest their money in ban#s.
The location residents were removed by s!ecial train to Kli!s!ruit 0arm near
$ohannesburg, where they were su!!lied with !rovisions by the Munici!ality at !ublic
e&!ense. This city under canvas loo#ed li#e a military cam!. The !eo!le who were
unaccustomed to this cam! life were distressed and astonished over the
arrangementsC but they did not have to !ut u! with any !articular inconvenience. *
used to cycle out to them daily. 5ithin twenty/four hours of their stay they forgot all
their misery and began to live merrily. 5henever * went there * found them en,oying
themselves with song and mirth. Three wee#s( stay in the o!en air evidently im!roved
their health.
So far as * recollect, the location was !ut to the flames on the very ne&t day after its
evacuation. The Munici!ality showed not the slightest inclination to save anything
from the conflagration. 1bout this very time, and for the same reason, the
Munici!ality burnt down all its timber in the mar#et, and sustained a loss of some ten
thousand !ounds. The reason for this drastic ste! was the discovery of some dead rats
in the mar#et.
The Munici!ality had to incur heavy e&!enditure, but it successfully arrested the
further !rogress of the !lague, and the city once more breathed freely.
THE MAGIC $PE !% A B!!K
The blac# !lague enhanced my influence with the !oor *ndians, and increased my
business and my res!onsibility. Some of the new contacts with 6uro!eans became so
close that they added considerably to my moral obligations.
* made the ac3uaintance of Mr.Pola# in the vegetarian resturant, ,ust as * had made
that of Mr.5est. ne evening a young man dining at a table a little way off sent me
his card e&!ressing a desire to see me. i invited him to come to my table, which he
did.
(* am sub/editor of the #he Critic,( he said (5hen * read your letter to the !ress about
the !lague. * felt a strong desire to see you. * am glad to have this o!!ortunity.(
Mr. Pola#(s candour drew me to him. The same evening we got to #now each other. 5e
seemed to hold closely similar views on the essential things of life. )e li#ed sim!le
life. )e had a wonderful faculty of translating into !ractice anything that a!!ealed to
his intellect. Some of the changes that he had made in his life were as !rom!t as they
were radical.
/ndian 8pinin was getting more and more e&!ensive every day. The very first re!ort
from Mr. 5est was alarming. )e wrote' (* do not e&!ect the concern to yield the !rofit
that you had thought !robable. * am afraid there may be even a loss. The boo#s are
not in order. There are heavy arrears to be recovered, but one cannot ma#e head or
tail of them. -onsiderable overhauling will have to be done. But all this need not
alarm you. * shall try to !ut things right as best * can. * remain on, whether there is
!rofit or not.(
Mr. 5est might have left when he discovered that there was no !rofit, and * could not
have blamed him. *n fact, he had a right to arraign me for having described the
concern as !rofitable without !ro!er !roof. But he never so much as uttered one word
of com!laint. * have, however, an im!ression that this discovery led Mr. 5est to
regard me as credulous. * had sim!ly acce!ted S,t. Madan,it(s estimate without caring
to e&amine it, and told Mr. 5est to e&!ect a !rofit.
* now reali2e that a !ublic wor#er should not ma#e statements of which he has not
made sure. 1bove all, a votary of truth must e&ercise the greatest caution. To allow a
man to believe a thing which one has fully verified is to com!romise truth. * am
!ained to have to confess that, in s!ite of this #nowledge, * have not 3uite con3uered
my credulous habit, for which my ambition to do more wor# than * can manage is
res!onsible. This ambition has often been a source of worry more to my co/wor#ers
than to myself.
n recei!t of Mr. 5est(s letter * left for %atal. * had ta#en Mr. Pola# into my fullest
confidence. )e came to see me off at the Station, and left with me a boo# to read
during the ,ourney, which he said * was sure to li#e. *t was +us#in(s %nt #his -ast.
The boo# was im!ossible to lay aside, once * had begun it. *t gri!!ed me.
$ohannesburg to "urban was a twenty/four hours( ,ourney. The train reached there in
the evening. * could not get any slee! that night. * determined to change my life in
accordance with the ideals of the boo#.
This was the first boo# of +us#in * had ever read. "uring the days of my education *
had read !ractically nothing outside te&t/boo#s, and after * launched into active life *
had very little time for reading. * cannot therefore claim much boo# #nowledge.
)owever, * believe * have not lost much because of this enforced restraint. n the
contrary, the limited reading may be said to have enabled me thoroughly to digest
what * did read. f these boo#s, the one that brought about an instantaneous and
!ractical transformation in my life was %nt #his -ast. * translated it later into
Gu,arati, entitling it Sarvdaya >the welfare of all?.
* believe that * discovered some of my dee!est convictions reflected in this great boo#
of +us#in, and that is why it so ca!tured me and made me transform my life. 1 !oet is
one who can call forth the good latent in the human breast. Poets do not influence all
ali#e, for everyone is not evolved in a e3ual measure.
The teaching of %nt #his -ast * understood to be'
9. That the good of the individual is contained in the good of all.
8. That a lawyer(s wor# has the same value as the barber(s inasmuch as all have the
same right of earning their livehood from their wor#.
D. That a life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is
the life worth living.
The first of these * #new. The second * had dimly reali2ed. The third had never
occured to me. %nt #his -ast made it as clear as daylight for me that the second and
the third were contained in the first. * arose with the dawn, ready to reduce these
!rinci!les to !ractice.
THE PH!ENI) $ETTEMENT
* tal#ed over the whole thing with Mr. 5est, described to him the effect %nt #his
-ast had !roduced on my mind, and !ro!osed that /ndian 8pinin should be removed
to a farm, on which everyone should labour, drawing the same living wage, and
attending to the !ress wor# in s!are time. Mr. 5est a!!roved of the !ro!osal, and LD
was laid down as the monthly allowance !er head, irres!ective of colour or
nationality.
But it was a 3uestion whether all the ten or more wor#ers in the !ress would agree to
go and settle on an out/of/the/way farm, and be satisfied with bare maintenance. 5e
therefore !ro!osed that those who could not fit in with the scheme should continue
to draw their salaries and gradually try to reach the ideal of becoming members of
the settlement.
* tal#ed to the wor#ers in the terms of this !ro!osal. *t did not a!!eal to S,t.
Madan,it, who considered my !ro!osal to be foolish and held that it would ruin a
venture on which he had sta#ed his allC that the wor#ers would bolt, /ndian 8pinin
would come to a sto!, and the !ress would have to be closed down.
1mong the men wor#ing in the !ress was -hhaganlal Gandhi, one of my cousins. * had
!ut the !ro!osal to him at the same time as to 5est. )e had a wife and children, but
he had from childhood chosen to be trained and to wor# under me. )e had full faith
in me. So without any argument he agreed to the scheme and has been with me ever
since. The machinist Govindaswami also fell in with the !ro!osal. The rest did not ,oin
the scheme, but agreed to go wherever * removed the !ress.
* do not thin# * too# more than two days to fi& u! these matters with the men.
Thereafter * at once advertised for a !iece of land situated near a railway station in
the vicinity of "urban. 1n offer came in res!ect of Phoeni&. Mr. 5est and * went to
ins!ect the estate. 5ithin a wee# we !urchased twenty acres of land. *t had a nice
little s!ring and a few orange and mango trees. 1d,oining it was a !iece of :A acres
which had many more fruit trees and a dila!idated cottage. 5e !urchased this too,
the total cost being a thousand !ounds.
The late Mr. +ustom,i always su!!orted me in such enter!rises. )e li#ed the !ro,ect.
)e !laced at my dis!osal second/hand corrugated iron sheets of a big godown and
other building material, with which we started wor#. Some *ndian car!enters and
masons, who had wor#ed with me in the Boer 5ar, hel!ed me in erecting a shed for
the !ress. This structure, which was FG feet long and GA feet broad, was ready in less
than a month. Mr. 5est and others, at great !ersonal ris#, stayed with the car!enters
and masons. The !lace, uninhabited and thic#ly overgrown with grass, was infested
with sna#es and obviously dangerous to live in. 1t first all lived under canvas. 5e
carted most of our things to Phoeni& in about a wee#. *t was fourteen miles from
"urban, and two and a half miles from Phoeni& station.
nly one issue of /ndian 8pinin had to be !rinted outside, in the Mercury !ress.
* now endeavoured to draw to Phoeni& those relations and friends who had come with
me from *ndia to try their fortune, and who were engaged in business of various #inds.
They had come in search of wealth, and it was therefore difficult to !ersuade themC
but some agreed. f these * can single out here only Manganlal Gandhi(s name. The
others went bac# to business. Manganlal Gandhi left his business for good to cast in
his lot with me, and by ability, sacrifice and devotion stands foremost among my
original co/wor#ers in my ethical e&!eriments. 1s a self/taught handicraftsman his
!lace among them is uni3ue.
Thus the Phoeni& Settlement was started in 9<AE, and there in s!ite of numerous odds
/ndian 8pinin continues to be !ublished.
But the initial difficulties, the changes made, the ho!es and the disa!!ointments
demand a se!arate cha!ter.
THE %IR$T NIGHT
*t was no easy thing to issue the first number of /ndian 8pinin from Phoeni&. )ad *
not ta#en two !recautions, the first issue would have had to be dro!!ed or delayed.
The idea of having an engine to wor# the !ress had not a!!ealed to me. * had thought
that hand/!ower would be more in #ee!ing with an atmos!here where agricultural
wor# was also to be done by hand. But as the idea had not a!!eared feasible, we had
installed an oil/engine. * had, however, suggested to 5est to have something handy to
fall bac# u!on in case the engine failed. )e had therefore arranged a wheel which
could be wor#ed by hand. The si2e of the !a!er, that of a daily, was considered
reduced to foolsca! si2e, so that, in case of emergency, co!ies might be struc# off
with the hel! of a treadle.
*n the initial stages, we all had to #ee! late hours before the day of !ublication.
6veryone, young and old, had to hel! in folding the sheets. 5e usually finished our
wor# between ten o(cloc# and midnight. But the first night was unforgettable. 5e had
got out an engineer from "urban to !ut u! the engine and set it going. )e and 5est
tried their hardest, but in vain. 6veryone was an&ious. 5est, in des!air, at last came
to me, with tears in his eyes, and said, (The engine will not wor#, * am afraid we
cannot issue the !a!er in time.(
(*f that is the case, we cannot hel! it. %o use shedding tears. 4et us do whatever else
is humanly !ossible. 5hat about the handwheel@( * said, comforting him.
(5here have we the men to wor#@( he re!lied. (5e are not enough to co!e with the
,ob. *t re3uires relays of four men each, and our own men are all tired.(
Building wor# had not yet been finished so the car!enters were still with us. They
were slee!ing on the !ress floor. * said !ointed to them, (But can(t we ma#e use of
these car!enters@ 1nd we may have a whole night of wor#. * thin# this device is still
o!en to us.(
(* dare not wa#e u! the car!enters. 1nd our men are really too tired,( said 5est.
(5ell, that(s for me to negotiate,( said *.
(Then it is !ossible that we may get through the wor#,( 5est re!lied.
* wo#e u! the car!enters and re3uested their co/o!eration. They needed no !ressure.
They said, (*f we cannot be called u!on in an emergency, what use are we@ =ou rest
yourselves and we will wor# the wheel. 0or us it is easy wor#.( ur own men were of
course ready.
5est was greatly delighted and started singing a hymn as we set to wor#. * !artnered
the car!enters, all the rest ,oined turn by turn, and thus we went on until F a.m.
There was still a good deal to do. * therefore suggested to 5est that the engineer
might now be as#ed to get u! and try again to start the engine, so that if we
succeeded we might finish in time.
5est wo#e him u!, and he immediately went into the engine room. 1nd lo and
beholdB the engine wor#ed almost as soon as he touched it. The whole !ress rang with
!eals of ,oy. ()ow can this be@ )ow is it that all our labours last night were of no avail,
and this morning it has been set going as though there were nothing wrong with it@( *
en3uired.
(*t is difficult to say,( said 5est or the engineer, * forget which. (Machines also
sometimes seem to behave as though they re3uired rest li#e us.(
0or me the failure of the engine had come as a test for us all, and its wor#ing in the
nic# of time as the fruit of our honest and earnest labours.
The co!ies were des!atched in time, and everyone was ha!!y.
This initial insistence ensured the regularity of the !a!er, and created an atmos!here
of self/reliance in Phoeni&. There came a time we deliberately gave u! the use of the
engine and wor#ed with hand/!ower only. Those were, to my mind, the days of the
highest moral u!lift for Phoeni&
P!AK TAKE$ THE P#NGE
*t has always been my regret that, although * started the Settlement at Phoeni&, *
could stay there only for brief !eriods. My original idea had been gradually to retire
from !ractice, go and live at the Settlement, earn my livelihood by manual wor#
there, and find the ,oy of service in the fulfilment of Phoeni&. But it was not to be. *
have found by e&!erience that man ma#es his !lans to be often u!set by God, but, at
the same time where the ultimate goal is the search of truth, no matter how a man(s
!lans are frustrated, the issue is never in,urious and often better than antici!ated.
The une&!ected turn that Phoeni& too# and the une&!ected ha!!enings were certainly
not in,urious, though it is difficult to say that they were better than our original
e&!ectations.
*n order to enable every one of us to ma#e a living by manual labour, we !arcelled out
the land round the !ress in !ieces of three acres each. ne of these fell to my lot. n
all these !lots we, much against our wish, built houses with corrugated iron. ur
desire had been to have mud huts thatched with straw or small bric# houses such as
would become ordinary !easants, but it could not be. They would have been more
e&!ensive and would have meant more time, and everyone was eager to settle down
as soon as !ossible.
The editor was still Mansu#hlal %aa2ar. )e had not acce!ted the new scheme and was
directing the !a!er from "urban where there was a branch office for P*ndian !inionP
though we had !aid com!ositors, the idea was for every members of the Settlement
to learn ty!e/setting, the easiest, if the most tedious, of the !rocesses in a !rinting
!ress. Those, therefore, who did not already #now the wor# learnt it. * remained a
dunce to the last. Maganlal Gandhi sur!assed us all. Though he had never before
wor#ed in a !ress, he became an e&!ert com!ositor and not only achieved great
s!eed but, to my agreeable sur!rise, 3uic#ly mastered all the other branches of !ress
wor#. * have always thought that he was not conscious of his own ca!acity.
5e had hardly settled down, the buildings were hardly ready, when * had to leave the
newly constructed nest and go to $ohannesburg. * was not in a !osition to allow the
wor# there to remain without attention for any length of time.
n return to $ohannesburg, * informed Pola# of the im!ortant changes * had made. )is
,oy #new no bounds when he learnt that the loan of his boo# had been so fruitful. (*s it
not !ossible,( he as#ed, (for me to ta#e !art in the new venture@( .(-ertainly,( said *.
(=ou may if you li#e ,oin the Settlement.( (* am 3uite ready,( he re!lied, (*f you will
admit me.(
)is determination ca!tured me. )e gave a month(s notice to his chief to be relieved
from PThe -riticP, and reached Phoeni& in due course. By his sociability he won the
hearts of all and soon became a member of the family. Sim!licity was so much a !art
of his nature that, far from feeling the life at Phoeni& in any way strange or hard, he
too# to it li#e a duc# ta#es to water. But * could not #ee! him there long. Mr. +itch
had decided to finish his legal studies in 6ngland, and it was im!ossible for me to bear
the burden of the office single/handed, so * suggested to Pola# that he should ,oin the
office and 3ualify as an attorney. * had thought that ultimately both of us would retire
and settle at Phoeni&, but that never came to !ass. Pola#(s was such a trustful nature
that, when he re!osed his confidence in a friend, he would try to agree with him
instead of arguing with him. )e wrote to me from Phoeni& that though he loved the
life there, was !erfectly ha!!y,and had ho!es of develo!ing the Settlement, still he
was ready to leave and ,oin the office to 3ualify as an attorney, if * thought that
thereby we should more 3uic#ly reali2e our ideals. * heartily welcomed the letter.
Pola# left Phoeni&, came to $ohannesburg and signed his articles with me.
1bout the same time a Scotch theoso!hist, whom * had been coaching for a local legal
e&amination, also ,oined as an articled cler#, on my inviting him to follow Pola#(s
e&am!le. )is name was Mr. Mac*ntyre.
Thus, with the laudable ob,ect of 3uic#ly reali2ing the ideals at Phoeni&, * seemed to
be going dee!er and dee!er into a contrary current, and had God not willed
otherwise, * should have found myself entra!!ed in this net s!read in the name of
sim!le life.
*t will be after a few more cha!ters that * shall describe how * and my ideals were
saved in a way no one had imagined or e&!ected
,H!M G!D PR!TECT$
* had now given u! all ho!e of returning to *ndia in the near future. * had !romised my
wife that * would return home within a year. The year was gone without any !ros!ect
of my return, so * decided to send for her and the children.
n the boat bringing them to South 1frica, +amdas, my third son, bro#e his arm while
!laying with the shi!(s ca!tain. The ca!tain loo#ed after him well and had him
attended to by the shi!(s dector. +amdas landed with his hand in a sling. The doctor
had advised that, as soon as we reached home, the wound should be dressed by a
3ualified doctor. But this was the time when * was full of faith in my e&!eriments in
earth treatment. * had even succeeded in !ersuading some of my clients who had
faith in my 3uac#ery to try the earth and water treatment.
5hat then was * to do for +amdas@ )e was ,ust eight years old. * as#ed him if he
would mind my dressing his wound. 5ith a smile he said he did not mind at all. *t was
not !ossible for him at that age to decide what was the best thing for him, but he
#new very well the distinction between 3uac#ery and !ro!er medical treatment. 1nd
he #new my habit of home treatment and had faith enough to trust himself to me. *n
fear and trembling * undid the bandage, washed the wound, a!!lied a clean earth
!oultice and tied the arm u! again. This sort of dressing went on daily for about a
month until the wound was com!letely healed. There was no hitch, and the wound
too# no more time to heal than the shi!(s doctor had said it would under the usual
treatment.
This and other e&!eriments enhanced my faith in such household remedies, and * now
!roceeded with them with more self/confidence. * widened the s!here of their
a!!lication, trying the earth and water and fasting treatment in cases of wounds,
fevers, dys!e!sia, ,aundice and other com!laints, with success on most occasions. But
nowadays * have not the confidence * had in South 1frica and e&!erience has even
shown that these e&!eriments involve obvious ris#s.
The reference here, therefore, to these e&!eriments is not meant to demonstrate
their success. * cannot claim com!lete success for any e&!eriment. 6ven medical men
can ma#e no such claim for their e&!eriments. My ob,ect is only to show that he who
would go in for novel e&!eriments must begin with himself. That leads to a 3uic#er
discovery of truth, and God always !rotects the honest e&!erimenter.
The ris#s involved in e&!eriments in cultivating intimate contacts with 6uro!eans
were as grave as those in the nature cure e&!eriments. nly those ris#s were of a
different #ind. But in cultivating those contacts * never so much as thought of the
ris#s.
* invited Pola# to come and stay with me, and we began to live li#e blood brothers.
The lady who was soon to be Mrs. Pola# and he had been engaged for some years, but
the marriage had been !ost!oned for a !ro!itious time. * have an im!ression that
Pola# wanted to !ut some money by before he settled down to a married life. )e
#new +us#in much better than *, but his 5estern surroundings were a bar against his
translating +us#in(s teaching immediately into !ractice. But * !leaded with him' (5hen
there is a heart union, as in your case, it is hardly right to !ost!one marriage merely
for financial consideratons. *f !overty is a bar, !oor men can never marry. 1nd then
you are now staying with me. There is no 3uestion of household e&!enses. * thin# you
should get married as soon as !ossible. 1s * have said in a !revious cha!ter, * had
never to argue a thing twice with Pola#. )e a!!reciated the force of my argument,
and immediately o!ened corres!ondence on the sub,ect with Mrs. Pola#, who was
then in 6ngland. She gladly acce!ted the !ro!osal and in a few months reached
$ohannesburg. 1ny e&!ense over the wedding was out of the 3uestion, not even a
s!ecial dress was thought necessary. They needed no religious rites to seal the bond.
Mrs. Pola# was a -hristian by birth and Pola# a $ew. Their common religion was the
religion of ethics.
* may mention in !assing an amusing incident in connection with this wedding. The
+egistrar of 6uro!ean marriages in the Transvaal could not register between blac# or
coloured !eo!le. *n the wedding in 3uestion, * acted as the best man. %ot that we
could not have got a 6uro!ean friend for the !ur!ose, but Pola# would not broo# the
suggestion. So we three went to the +egistrar of marriages. )ow could he be sure that
the !arties to a marriage in which * acted as the best man would be whites@ )e
!ro!osed to !ost!one registration !ending in3uiries. The ne&t day was a sunday. The
day following was %ew =ear(s "ay, a !ublic holiday. To !ost!one the date of a solemnly
arranged wedding on such a flimsy !rete&t was more than one could !ut u! with. *
#new the -hief Magistrate, who was head of the +egistration "e!artment. So *
a!!eared before him with the cou!le. )e laughed and gave me a note to the +egistrar
and the marriage was duly registered.
U! to now the 6uro!eans living with us had been more or less #nown to me before.
But now an 6nglish lady who was an utter stranger to us entered the family. * do not
remember our ever having had a difference with the newly married cou!le, but even
if Mrs. Pola# and my wife had some un!leasant e&!erience, they would have been no
more than what ha!!en in the best/regulated homogeneous familes. 1nd let it be
remembered that mine would be considered an essentially heterogeneous family,
where !eo!le of all #inds and tem!eraments were freely admitted. 5hen we come to
thin# of it, the distinction between heterogeneous and homogeneous is discovered to
be merely imaginary. 5e are all one family.
* had better celebrate 5est(s wedding also in this cha!ter. 1t this stage of my life, my
ideas about PbrahmacharyaP had not fully matured, and so * was interesting myself in
getting all my bachelor friends married. 5hen, in due course, 5est made a !ilgrimage
to 4outh to see his !arents, * advised him to return married if !ossible. Phoeni& was
the common home, and as we were all su!!osed to have become farmers, we were
not afraid of marriage and its usual conse3uences. 5est returned with Mrs. 5est, a
beautiful young lady from 4eicester. She came of a family of shoema#ers wor#ing in a
4eicester factory. * have called her beautiful, because it was her moral beauty that at
once attracted me. True beauty after all consists in !urity of heart. 5ith Mr. 5est had
come his mother/in/law too. The old lady is still alive. She !ut us all to shame by her
industry and her buoyant, cheerful nature.
*n the same way as * !ersuaded these 6uro!ean friends to marry, * encouraged the
*ndian friends to send for their families from home. Phoeni& thus develo!ed into a
little village, half a do2en familes having come and settled and begun to increase
there.
%e&t -ha!ter 9A9
A PEEP INT! THE H!#$EH!D
*t has already been seen that, though household e&!enses were heavy, the tendency
towards sim!licity began in "urban. But the $ohannesburg house came in for much
severer overhauling in the light of +us#in(s teaching.
* introduced as much sim!licity as was !ossible in a barrister(s house. *t was
im!ossible to do without a certain amount of furniture. The change was more internal
than e&ternal. The li#ing for doing !ersonally all the !hysical labour increased. *
therefore began to bring my children also under that disci!line.
*nstead of buying ba#er(s bread, we began to !re!are unleavened wholemeal bread at
home according to Kuhne(s reci!e. -ommon mill flour was no good for this, and the
use of handground flour, it was thought, would ensure more sim!licity, health and
economy. So * !urchased a hand/mill for L F. The iron wheel was too heavy to be
tac#ed by one man, but easy for two. Pola# and * and the children usually wor#ed it.
My wife also occasionally lent a hand, though the grinding hour was her usual time for
commencing #itchen wor#. Mrs. Pola# now ,oined us on her arrival. The grinding
!roved a very beneficial e&ercise for the children. %either this nor any other wor# was
ever im!osed on them, but it was a !astime to them to come and lend a hand, and
they were at liberty to brea# off whenever tired. But the children, including those
whom * shall have occasion to introduce later, as a rule never failed me. %ot that *
had no laggarded at all, but most did their wor# cheerfully enough. * can recall few
youngsters in those days fighting shy of wor# or !leading fatigue.
5e had engaged a servant to loo# after the house. )e lived with us as a member of
the family, and the children used to hel! him in his wor#. The munici!al swee!er
removed the night/soil, but we !ersonally attended to the cleaning of the closet
instead of as#ing or e&!ecting the servant to do it. This !roved a good training for the
children. The result was that none of my sons develo!ed any aversion for scavenger(s
wor#, and they naturally got a good grounding in general sanitation. There was hardly
any illness in the home at $ohannesburg, but whenever there was any, the nursing was
willingly done by the children. * will not say that * was indifferent to their literary
education, but * certainly did not hesitate to sacrifice it. My sons have therefore some
reason for a grievance against me. *ndeed they have occasionally given e&!ression to
it, and * must !lead guilty to a certain e&tent. The desire to give them a literary
education was there. * even endeavoured to give it to them myself, but every now
and then there was some hitch or other. 1s * had made no other arrangement for their
!rivate tuition, * used to get them to wal# with me daily to the office and bac# home
a distance of about G miles in all. This gave them and me a fair amount of e&ercise. *
tried to instruct them by conversation during these wal#s, if there was no one else
claiming my attention. 1ll my children, e&ce!ting the eldest, )arilal, who had stayed
away in *ndia, were brought u! in $ohannesburg in this manner. )ad * been able to
devote at least an hour to their literary education with strict regularity, * should have
given them, in my o!inion, an ideal deucation. But it was been their, as also my,
regret that * failed to ensure them enough literary training. The eldest son has often
given vent to his distress !rivately before me and !ublicly in the !ressC the other sons
have generously forgiven the failure as unavoidable. * am not heart bro#en over it and
the regret, if any, is that * did not !rove an ideal father. But * hold that * sacrificed
their literary training to what * genuinely, though may be wrongly, believed to be
service to the community. * am 3uite clear that * have not been negligent in doing
whatever was needful for building u! their character. * believe it is the bounden duty
of every !arent to !rovide for this !ro!erly. 5henever, in s!ite of my endeavour, my
sons have been found wanting, it is my certain conviction that they have reflected,
not want of care on my !art, but the defects of both their !arents.
-hildren inherit the 3ualities of the !arents, no less than their !hysical features.
6nvironment does !lay an im!ortant !art, but the original ca!ital on which a child
starts in life is inherited from its ancestors. * have also seen children successfully
surmounting the effects of an evil inheritance. That is due to !urity being an inherent
attribute of the soul.
Pola# and * had often very heated discussions about the desirability or otherwise of
giving the children an 6nglish education. *t has always been my conviction that *ndian
!arents who train their children to thin# and tal# in 6nglish from their infancy betray
their children and their country. They de!rive them of the s!iritual and social
heritage of the nation, and render them to that e&tent unfit for the service of the
country. )aving these convictions, * made a !oint of always tal#ing to my children in
Gu,arati. Pola# never li#ed this. )e thought * was s!oiling their future. )e contended,
with all the vigour and love at his conmand, that, if children were to learn a universal
language li#e 6nglish from thier infancy, they would easily gain considerable
advantage over others in the race of life. )e failed to convince me. * do not now
remember whether * convinced him of the correctness of my attitude, or whether he
gave me u! as too obstinate. This ha!!ened about twenty years ago, and my
convictions have only dee!ened with e&!erience. Though my sons have suffered for
want of full literary education, the #nowledge of the mother/tounge that they
naturally ac3uired has been all to their and the country(s good, inasmuch as they do
not a!!ear the foreigners they would otherwise have a!!eared. They naturally
become bilingual, s!ea#ing and writing 6nglish with fair ease, because of daily
contact with a large cicle of 6nglish friends, and because of their stay in a country
where 6nglish was the chief language s!o#en.
THE 1## &REBEI!N&
6ven after * thought * had settled down in $ohannesburg, there was to be no settled
life for me. $ust when * felt that * should be breathing in !eace, an une&!ected event
ha!!ened. The !a!ers brought the news of the out brea# of the Nulu (rebellion( in
%atal. * bore no grudge against the Nulus, they had harmed no *ndian. * had doubts
about the (rebellion( itself. But * then believed that the British 6m!ire e&isted for the
welfare of the world. 1 genuine sense of loyalty !revented me from even wishing ill to
the 6m!ire. The rightness or otherwise of the (rebellion( was therefore not li#ely to
affect my decision. %atal had a .olunteer "efence 0orce, and it was o!en to it to
recruit more men. * read that this force had already been mobili2ed to 3uell the
(rebellion(.
* considered myself a citi2en of %atal, being intimately connected with it. So * wrote
to the Governor, e&!ressing my readiness, if necessary, to form an *ndian 1mbulance
-or!s. )e re!lied immediately acce!ting the offer.
* had not e&!ected such !rom!t acce!tance. 0ortunately * had made all the necessary
arrangements even before writing the letter. *f my offer was acce!ted, * had decided
to brea# u! the $ohannesburg home. Pola# was to have a smaller house, and my wife
was to go and settle at Phoeni&. * had her full consent to this decision. * do not
remember her having ever stood in my way in matters li#e this. 1s soon, therefore, as
* got the re!ly from the Governor, * gave the landlord the usual month(s notice of
vacating the house, sent some of the things to Phoeni& and left some with Pola#.
* went to "urban and a!!ealed for men. 1 big contingent was not necessary. 5e were
a !arty of twenty/four, of whom, besides me, four were Gu,aratis. The rest were e&/
indentured men from South *ndia, e&ce!ting one who was a free Pathan.
*n order to give me a status and to facilitate wor#, as also in accordance with the
e&isting convention, the -hief Medical fficer a!!ointed me to the tem!orary ran# of
Sergeant Ma,or and three men selected by me to the ran# of sergeants and one to
that of cor!oral. 5e also received our uniforms from the Government. ur -or!s was
on active service for nearly si& wee#s. n reaching the scene of the (rebellion(, * saw
that there was nothing there to ,ustify the name of (rebellion(. There was no
resistance that one could see. The reason why the disturbance had been magnified
into a rebellion was that a Nulu chief had advised non/!ayment of a new ta& im!osed
on his !eo!le, and had assagaied a sergeant who had gone to collect the ta&. 1t any
rate my heart was with the Nulus, and * was delighted, on reaching head3uarters, to
hear that our main wor# was to be the nursing of the wounded Nulus. The Medical
fficer in charge welcomed us. )e said the white !eo!le were not willing nurses for
the wounded Nulus, that their wounds were festering, and that he was at his wits(
end. )e hailed our arrival as a godsend for those innocent !eo!le, and he e3ui!!ed us
with bandages, disinfectants, etc., and too# us to the im!rovised hos!ital. The Nulus
were delighted to see us. The white soldiers used to !ee! through the railing that
se!arated us from them and tried to dissuade us from attending to the wounds. 1nd as
we would not heed them, they became enraged and !oured uns!ea#able abuse on the
Nulus.
Gradually * came into closer touch with these soldiers, and they ceased to interfere.
1mong the commanding officers were -ol. S!ar#s and -ol. 5ylie, who had bitterly
o!!osed me in 9:<;. They were sur!rised at my attitude and s!ecially called and
than#ed me. They introduced me to General Mac#en2ie. 4et not the reader thin# that
these were !rofessional soldiers. -ol. 5ylie was a well/#nown "urban lawyer. -ol.
S!ar#s was well #nown as the owner of a butcher(s sho! in "urban. Gereral Mac#en2ie
was a noted %atal farmer. 1ll these gentlemen were volunteers, and as such had
received military training and e&!erience.
The wounded in our charge were not wounded in battle. 1 section of them had been
ta#en !risoners as sus!ects. The General had sentenced them to be flogged. The
flogging had caused severe sores. These, being unattended to, were festering. The
others were Nulu friendlies. 1lthough these had badges given them to distinguish them
from the (enemy(, they had been shot at by the soldiers by mista#e.
Besides this wor# * had to com!ound and dis!ense !rescri!tions for the white soldiers.
This was easy enough for me as * had received a year(s training in "r. Booth(s little
hos!ital. This wor# brought me in close contact with many 6uro!eans.
5e were attached to a swift/moving column. *t had orders to march wherever danger
was re!orted. *t was for the most !art mounted infantry. 1s soon as our cam! was
moved, we had to follow on foot with our stretchers on our shoulders. Twice or thrice
we had to march forty miles a day. But wherever we went, * am than#ful that we had
God(s good wor# to do, having to carry to the cam! on our stretchers those Nulu
friendlies who had been inadvertently wounded, and to attend u!on them as nurses.
HEART $EARCHING$
The Nulu (rebellion( was full of new e&!eriences and gave me much food for thought.
The Boer 5ar had not brought home to me the horrors of war with anything li#e the
vividness that the (rebellion( did. This was no war but a man/hunt, not only in my
o!inion, but also in that of many 6nglishmen with whom * had occasion to tal#. To
hear every morning re!orts of the soldiers( rifles e&!loding li#e crac#ers in innocent
hamlets, and to live in the midst of them was a trial. But * swallowed the bitter
draught, es!ecially as the wor# of my -or!s consisted only in nursing the wounded
Nulus. * could see that but for us the Nulus would have been uncared for. This wor#,
therefore, eased my conscience.
But there was much else to set one thin#ing. *t was a s!arsely !o!ulated !art of the
country. 0ew and far between in hills and dales were the scattered Kraals of the
sim!le and so/called (uncivili2ed( Nulus. Marching, with or without the wounded,
through these solemn solitudes, * often fell into dee! thought.
* !ondered over brahmacharya and its im!lications, and my convictions too# dee!
root. * discussed it with my co/wor#ers. * had not reali2ed then how indis!ensable it
was for self/reali2ation. But * clearly saw that one as!iring to serve humanity with his
whole soul could not do without it. *t was borne in u!on me that * should have more
and more occasions for service of the #ind * was rendering, and that * should find
myself une3ual to my tas# if * were engaged in the !leasures of family life and in the
!ro!agation and rearing of children.
*n a word, * could not live both after the flesh and the s!irit. n the !resent occasion,
for instance, * should not have been able to throw myself into the fray, had my wife
been e&!ecting a baby. 5ithout the observance of brahmacharya service of the family
would be inconsistent with service of the community. 5ith brahmacharya they would
be !erfectly consistent.
So thin#ing, * became somewhat im!atient to ta#e a final vow. The !ros!ect of the
vow brought a certain #ind of e&ultation. *magination also found free !lay and o!ened
out limitless vistas of service.
5hilst * was thus in the midst of strenuous !hysical and mental wor#, a re!ort came
to the effect that the wor# of su!!ressing the (rebellion( was nearly over, and that we
should soon be discharged. 1 day or two after this our discharge came and in a few
days we got bac# to our homes.
1fter a short while * got a letter from the Governor s!ecially than#ing the 1mbulance
-or!s for its services.
n my arrival at Phoeni& * eagerly broached the sub,ect of Brahmacharya with
-hhaganlal, Maganlal, 5est and others. They li#ed the idea and acce!ted the
necessity of ta#ing the vow, but they also re!resented the difficulties of the tas#.
Some of them set themselves bravely to observe it, and some, * #now, succeeded also.
* too too# the !lunge the vow to observe brahmacharya for life. * must confess that *
had not then fully reali2ed the magnitude and immensity of the tas# * undertoo#. The
difficulties are even today staring me in the face. The im!ortance of the vow is being
more and more borne in u!on me. 4ife without brahmacharya a!!ears to me to be
insi!id and animal/li#e. The brute by nature #nows no self/restraint. Man is man
because he is ca!able of, and only in so far as he e&ercises, self/restraint. 5hat
formerly a!!eared to me to be e&travagant !raise of brahmacharya in our religious
boo#s seems now, with increasing clearness every day, to be absolutely !ro!er and
founded on e&!erience.
* saw that brahmacharya, which is so full of wounderful !otency, is by no means an
easy affair, and certainly not a mere matter of the body. *t begins with bodily
restraint, but does not end there. The !erfection of it !recludes even an im!ure
thought. 1 true brahmachari will not even dream of satisfying the fleshly a!!etite,
and until he is in that condition, he has a great deal of ground to cover.
0or me the observance of even bodily brahmacharya has been full of difficulties.
Today * may say that * feel myself fairly safe, but * had yet to achieve com!lete
mastery over thought, which is so essential. %ot that the will or effort is lac#ing, but
it is yet a !roblem to me wherefrom undersirable thoughts s!ring their insidious
invasions. * have no doubt that there is a #ey to loc# out undersirable thoughts, but
every one has to find it out for himself. Saints and seers have left their e&!eriences
for us, but they have given us no infallible and universal !rescri!tion. 0or !erfection
or freedom from error comes only from grace, and so see#ers after God have left us
mantras, such as Ramanama, hallowed by their own austerities and charged with their
!urity. 5ithout an unreserved surrender to )is grace, com!lete mastery over thought
is im!ossible. This is the teaching of every great boo# of religion, and * am reali2ing
the truth of it every moment of my striving after that !erfect brahmacharya .
But !art of the history of that striving and struggle will be told in cha!ters to follow. *
shall conclude this cha!ter with an indication of how * set about the tas#. *n the first
flush of inthusiasm, * found the observance 3uite easy. The very first change * made in
my mode of life was to sto! s!aring the same bed with my wife or see#ing !rivacy
with her.
Thus brahmacharya which * had been observing willynilly since 9<AA, was sealed with
a vow in the middle of 9<A;.
THE BIRTH !% $AT"AGRAHA
6vents were so sha!ing themselves in $ohannesburg as to ma#e this self/!urfication on
my !art a !reliminary as it were to Satyagraha. * can now see that all the !rinci!al
events of my life, culminating in the vow of brahmacharya, were secretly !re!aring
me for it. The !rinci!le called Satyagraha came into being before that name was
invented. *ndeed when it was born, * myself could not say what it was. *n Gu,arati
also we used the 6nglish !harse (!assive resistance( to describe it. 5hen in a meeting
of 6uro!eans * found that the term (!assive resistance( was too narrowly construed,
that it was su!!osed to be a wea!on of the wea#, that it could be characteri2ed by
hatred, and that it could finally manifest itself as violence, * had to damur to all these
statements and e&!lain the real nature of the *ndian movement. *t was clear that a
new word must be coined by the *ndians to designate their struggle.
But * could not for the life of me find out a new name, and therefore offered a
nominal !ri2e through /ndian 8pinin to the reader who made the best suggestion on
the sub,ect. 1s a result Maganlal Gandhi coined the word (Sadagraha( >SatRtruth,
1grahaRfirmness? and won the !ri2e. But in order to ma#e it clearer * changed the
word to (Satyagraha( which has since become current in Gu,arati as a designation for
the struggle.
The history of this strugle is for all !ractical !ur!oses a histroy of the remainder of my
life in South 1frica and es!ecially of my e&!riments with truth in that sub/continent. *
wrote the ma,or !ortion of this history in =eravda ,ail and finished it after * was
released. *t was !ublished in Navajivan and subse3uently issued in boo# form. S,t.
.al,i Govind,i "esai has been translating it into 6nglish for Current #hu!ht, but * am
now arranging to have the 6nglish translation !ublished in boo# form at an early date,
so that those who will may be able to familiari2e themselves with my most im!ortant
e&!eriments in South 1frica. * would recommend a !erusal of my history of Satyagraha
in South 1frica to such readers as have not seen it already. * will not re!eat what *
have !ut down there, but in the ne&t few cha!ters will deal only with a few !ersonal
incidents of my life in South 1frica which have not been covered by that history. 1nd
when * have done with these, * will at once !roceed to give the reader some idea of
my e&!eriments in *ndia. Therefore, anyone who wishes to consider these
e&!eriments in their strict chronological order will now do well to #ee! the history of
Satyagraha in South 1frica bfore him.
M!RE E)PERIMENT$ IN DIETETIC$
* was an&ious to observe brahmacharya in thought, word and deed, and e3ually
an&ious to devote the ma&imum of time to the Satyagraha struggle and fit myself for
it by cultivating !urity. * was therefore led to ma#e further changes and to im!ose
greater restraints u!on myself in the matter of food. The motive for the !revious
changes had been largely hygienic, but the new e&!eriments were made from a
religious stand!oint.
0asting and restriction in diet now !layed a more im!ortant !art in my life. Passion in
man is generally co/e&istent with a han#ering after the !leasures of the !alate. 1nd so
it was with me. * have encountered many difficulties in trying to control !assion as
well as taste, and * cannot claim even now to have brought them under com!lete
sub,ection. * have considered myself to be a heavy eater. 5hat friends have thought
to be my restraint has never a!!eared to me in that light. *f * had failed to develo!
restraint to the e&tent that * have, * should have descended lower than the beasts and
met my doom long ago. )owever, as * had ade3uately reali2ed my shortcomings, *
made great efforts to get rid of them, and than#s to this endeavour * have all these
years !ulled on with my body and !ut in with it my share of wor#.
Being conscious of my wea#ness and une&!ectedly coming in contact with congenial
com!any, * began to ta#e an e&clusive fruit diet or to fast on the "kadashi day, and
also to observe 7anmashtami and similar holidays.
* began with a fruit diet, but from the stand!oint of restraint * did not find much to
choose between a fruit diet and a diet of food grains. * observed that the same
indulgence of taste was !ossible with the former as with the latter, and even more,
when one got accustomed to it. * therefore came to attach greater im!ortance to
fasting or having only one meal a day on holidays. 1nd if there was some occasion for
!enance or the li#e, * gladly utili2ed it too for the !ur!ose of fasting.
But * also saw that, the body now being drained more effectively, the food yielded
greater relish and the a!!etite grew #eener. *t dawned u!on me that fasting could be
made as !owerful a wea!on of indulgence as of restraint. Many similar later
e&!eriences of mine as well as of others can be adduced as evidence of this starting
fact. * wanted to im!rove and train my body, but as my chief ob,ect now was to
achieve restraint and a con3uest of the !alate, * selected first one food and then
another, and at the same time restricted the amount. But the relish was after me, as
it were. 1s * gave u! one thing and too# u! another, this latter afforded me a fresher
and greater relish than its !redecessor.
*n ma#ing these e&!eriments * had several com!anions, the chief of whom was
)ermann Kallenbach. * have already written about this friend in the history of
Satyagraha in South 1frica, and will not go over the same ground here. Mr. Kallenbach
was always with me whether in fasting or in dietetic changes. * lived with him at his
own !lace when the Satyagraha struggle was at its height. 5e discussed our changes
in food and derived more !leasure from the new diet than from the old. Tal# of this
nature sounded 3uite !leasant in those days, and did not stri#e me as at all im!ro!er.
6&!erience has taught me, however, that it was wrong to have dwelt u!on the relish
of food. ne should eat not in order to !lease the !alate, but ,ust to #ee! the body
going. 5hen each organ of sense subserves the body and through the body the soul.
*ts s!ecial relish disa!!ears, and then alone does it begin to function in the way
nature intended it to do.
1ny number of e&!eriments is too small and no sacrifice is too great for attaining this
sym!hony with nature. But unfortunately the current is now/a/days flowing strongly in
the o!!osite direction. 5e are not ashamed to sacrifice a multitude of other lives in
decorating the !erishable body and trying to !rolong it e&istence for a few fleeting
moments, with the result that we #ill ourselves, both body and soul. *n trying to cure
one old disease. 5e give rise to a hundred new ones' in trying to en,oy the !leasures
of sense, we lose in the end even our ca!acity for en,oyment. 1ll this is !assing
before our very eyes, but there are none so blind as those who will not see.
)aving thus set forth their ob,ect and the train of ideas which led u! to them, * now
!ro!ose to describe the dietetic e&!eriments at some length.
KA$T#RBAI&$ C!#RAGE
Thrice in her life my wife narrowly esca!ed death through serious illness. The cures
were due to household remedies. 1t the time of her first attac# Satyagraha was going
on or was about to commence. She had fre3uent haemorrhage. 1 medical friend
advised a surgical o!eration, to which she agreed after some hesitation. She was
e&tremely emaciated, and the doctor had to !erform the o!eration without
chloroform. *t was successful, but she had to suffer much !ain, she, however, went
through it with wonderful bravery. The doctor and his wife who nursed her were all
attention. This was in "urban. The doctor gave me leave to go to $ohannesburg, and
told me not to have any an&iety about the !atient.
*n a few days, however, * received a letter to the effect that Kasturbai was worse, too
wea# to sit u! in bed, and had once become unconscious. The doctor #new that he
might not, without my consent, give her wines or meat. So he tele!honed to me at
$ohannesburg for !ermission to give her beef tea. * re!lied saying * could not grant
the !ermission, but that, if she was in a condition to e&!ress her wish in the matter
she might be consulted and she was free to do as she li#ed. (But,( said the doctor, (*
refuse to consult the !atient(s wishes in the matter. =ou must come yourself. *f you do
not leave me free to !rescribe whatever diet * li#e, * will not hold myself res!onsible
for your wife(s life.(
* too# the train for "urban the same day, and met the doctor who 3uietly bro#e this
news to me' (* had already given Mrs. Gandhi beef tea when * tele!honed to you.(
(%ow, doctor, * call this a fraud,( said *.
(%o 3uestion of fraud in !rescribing medicine or diet for a !atient. *n fact we doctors
consider it a virtue to deceive !atients or their relatives, if thereby we can save our
!atients, said the doctor with determination.
* was dee!ly !ained, but #e!t cool. The doctor was a good man and a !ersonal friend.
)e and his wife had laid me under a debt of gratitude, but * was not !re!ared to !ut
u! with his medical morals.
("octor, tell me what you !ro!ose to do now. * would never allow my wife to be given
meat or beef, even if the denial meant her death, unless of course she desired to ta#e
it.(
(=ou are welcome to your !hiloso!hy. * tell you that, so long as you #ee! your wife
under my treatment, * must have the o!tion to give her anything * wish. *f you don(t
li#e this, * must regretfully as# you to remove her. * can(t see her die under my roof.(
("o you mean to say that * must remove her at once@(
(5henever did * as# you to remove her@ * only want to be left entirely free. *f you do
so, my wife and * will do all that is !ossible for her, and you may go bac# without the
least an&iety on her score. But if you will not understand this sim!le thing, you will
com!el me to as# you to remove your wife from my !lace.(
* thin# one of my sons was with me. )e entirely agreed with me, and said his mother
should not be given beef tea. * ne&t s!o#e to Kasturbai herself. She was really too
wea# to be consulted in this matter. But * thought it my !ainful duty to do so. * told
her what had !assed between the doctor and myself. She gave a resolute re!ly' (* will
not ta#e beef tea. *t is a rare thing in this world to be born as a human being, and *
would far rather die in your arms than !ollute my body with such abominations.(
* !leaded with her. * told her that she was not bound to follow me. * cited to her the
instances of )indu friends and ac3uaintances who had no scru!les about ta#ing meat
or wine as medicine. But she was adamant. (%o,( said she, (!ray remove me at once.(
* was delighted. %ot without some agitation * decided to ta#e her away. * informed the
doctor of her resolve. )e e&claimed in a rage' (5hat a callous man you areB =ou should
have been ashamed to broach the matter to her in her !resent condition. * tell you
your wife is not least little hustling. * shouldn(t sur!rised if she were to die on the
way. But if you must !ersist, you are free to do so. *f you will not give her beef tea, *
will not ta#e the ris# of #ee!ing her under my roof even for a single day.(
So we decided to leave the !lace at once. *t was dri22ling and the station was some
distance. 5e had to ta#e the train from "urban for Phoeni&, whence our Settlement
was reached by a road of two miles and a half, * was undoubtedly ta#ing a very great
ris#, but * trusted in God, and !roceeded with my tas#. * sent a messenger to Phoeni&
in advance, with a message to 5est to receive us at the station with a hammoc#, a
bottle of hot mil# and one of hot water, and si& men to carry #asturbai in the
hammoc#. * got a ric#shaw to enable me to ta#e her by the ne&t available train, !ut
her into it in that dangerous condition, and marched away.
Kasturbai needed no cheering u!. n the contrary, she comforted me, saying' (%othing
will ha!!en to me. "on(t worry.(
She was mere s#in and bone, having had no nourishment for days. The station
!latform was very large, and as the ric#shaw could not be ta#en inside, one had to
wal# some distance before one could reach the train. So * carried her in my arms and
!ut her into the com!artment. 0rom Phoeni& we carried her in the hammoc#, and
there she slowly !ic#ed u! strength under hydro!athic treatment.
*n two or three days of our arrival at Phoeni& a Swami came to our !lace. )e had
heard of the resolute way in which we had re,ected the doctor(s advice, and he had,
out of sym!athy, come to !lead with us. My second and third sons Manilal and +amdas
were, so far as * can recollect, !resent when the Swami came. )e held forth on the
religious harmlessness of ta#ing meat, citing authorities from Manu. * did not li#e his
carrying on this dis!utation in the !resence of my wife, but * suffered him to do so
out of courtesy. * #new the verses from the Manusmriti, * did not need them for my
conviction. * #new also that there was a school which regarded these verses as
inter!olations' but even if they were not, * held my views on vegetarianism
inde!endently of religious te&ts, and Kasturbai(s faith was unsha#able. To her the
scri!tural te&ts were a sealed boo#, but the traditional religion of her forefathers was
enough for her. The children swore by their father(s creed and so they made light of
the Swami(s discourse. But Kasturbai !ut an end to the dialogue at once. (Swami,i,( she
said,(5hatever you may say, * do not want to recover by means of beef tea. Pray don(t
worry me any more. =ou may discuss the thing with my husband and children if you
li#e. But my mind is made u!.
D!ME$TIC $AT"AGRAHA
My first e&!erience of ,ail life was in 9<A:. * saw that some of the regulations that the
!risoners had to observe were such as should be voluntarily observed by a
brahmachari, that is, one desiring to !ractise self/restraint. Such, for instance, was
the regulation re3uiring the last meal to be finished before sunset. %either the *ndian
nor the 1frican !risoners were allowed tea or coffee. They could add salt to the
coo#ed food if they wished, but they might not have anything for the mere
satisfaction of the !alate. 5hen * as#ed the ,ail medical officer to give us curry
!owder, and to let us add salt to the food whilst it was coo#ing, he said' (=ou are not
here for satisfying your !alate. 0rom the !oint of view of health, curry !owder is not
necessary, and it ma#es no difference whether you add salt during or after coo#ing.(
Ultimeately these restrictions were modified, though not without much difficulty, but
both were wholesome rules of self/restraint. *nhabitions im!osed from without rarely
suceed, but when they are self/im!osed, they have a decidedly salutary effect. So,
immediately after release from ,ail, * im!osed on myself the two rules. 1s far as was
then !ossible, * sto!!ed ta#ing tea, and finished my last meal before sunset. Both
these now re3uire no effort in the observance.
There came, however, an occasion which com!elled me to give u! salt altogether, and
this restriction * continued for an unbro#en !eriod of ten years. * had read in some
boo#s on vegetarianism that salt was not a necessary article of diet for man, that on
the contrary saltless diet was better for the health. * had deduced that a brahmachari
benefited by a saltless diet, * had read and reali2ed that the wea#/ bodied should
avoid !ulses. * was very fond of them.
%ow it ha!!ened that Kasturbai, who had a brief res!ite after her o!eration, had
again begun getting haemorrhage, and the malady seemed to be obstinate.
)ydro!athic treatment by itself did not answer. She had not much faith in my
remedies, though she did not resist them. She certainly did not as# for outside hel!.
So when all my remedies had failed. * entreated her to give u! salt and !ulses. She
would not agree, however much * !leaded with her, su!!orting myself with
authorities. 1t last she challenged me, saying that even * could not give u! these
articles if * was advised to do so, * was !ained and e3ually delighted, delighted in that
* got an o!!ortunity to shower my love on her. * said to her' (=ou are mista#en. *f * was
ailing and the doctor advised me to give u! these or any other articles, * should
unhesitatingly do so. But thereB 5ithout any medical advice, * give u! salt and !ulses
for one year, whether you do so or not.(
She was rudely shoc#ed and e&claimed in dee! sorrow' (Pray forgive me. Knowing you,
* should not have !rovo#ed you. * !romise to abstain from these things, but for
heaven(s sa#e ta#e bac# your vow. This is too hard on me.(
(*t is very good for you to forego these articles. * have not the slightst doubt that you
will be all the better without them. 1s for me, * cannot retract a vow seriously ta#en.
1nd it is sure to benefit me, for all restraint, whatever !rom!ts it, is wholesome for
men. =ou will therefore leave me alone. *t will be a test for me, and a moral su!!ort
to you in carrying out your resolve.(
So she gave me u!. (=ou are too obstinate. =ou will listen to none,( she said, and
sought relief in tears.
* would li#e to count this incident as an instance of Satyagraha, and it is one of the
sweetest recollections of my life.
1fter this Kasturbai began to !ic# u! 3uic#ly whether as a result of the saltless and
!ulseless diet or of the other conse3uent changes in her food, whether as a result of
my strict vigilance in e&acting observance of the other rules of life, or as an effect of
the mental e&hilaration !roduced by the incident, and if so to what e&tent, * cannot
say. But she rallied 3uic#ly, haemorrhage com!letely sto!!ed, and * added somewhat
to my re!utation as a 3uac#.
1s for me, * was all the better for the new denials. * never craved for the things * had
left, the year s!ed away, and * found the senses to be more subdued than ever. The
e&!eriment stimulated the inclination for self/restraint, and * returned to *ndia. nly
once * ha!!ened to ta#e both the articles whilst * was in 4ondon in 9<9E. But of that
occasion, and as to how * resumed both, * shall s!ea# in a later cha!ter.
* have tried the e&!eriment of a saltles and !ulseless diet on many of my co/wor#ers,
and with good results in South 1frica. Medically there may be two o!inions as to the
value of this diet, but morally * have no doubt that all self/denial is good for the soul.
The diet of a man of self/restraint must be different from that of a man of !leasure,
,ust as their ways of life must be different. 1s!irants after brahmacharya often defeat
their own end by ado!ting courses suited to a life of !leasure.
T!,ARD$ $E%-RE$TRAINT
* have described in the last cha!ter how Kasturbai(s illness was instrumental in
bringing about some changes in my diet. 1t a later stage more changes were
introduced for the sa#e of su!!orting brahmacharya.
The first of these was the giving u! of mil#. *t was from +aychandbhai that * first
learnt that mil# stimulated animal !assion. Boo#s on vegetarianism strengthened the
idea, but so long as * had not ta#en the brahmacharya vow * could not ma#e u! my
mind to forego mil#. * had long reali2ed that mil# was not necessary for su!!orting
the body, but it was not easy to give it u!. 5hile the necessity for avoiding mil# in the
interests of self/restraint was growing u!on me, * ha!!ened to come across some
literature from -alcutta, describing the tortures to which cows and buffaloes were
sub,ected by their #ee!ers. This had a wonderful effect on me. * discussed it with Mr.
Kallenbach.
Though * have introduced Mr. Kallenbach to the readers of the history of Satyagraha in
South 1frica, and referred to him in a !revious cha!ter, * thin# it necessary to say
something more about him here. 5e met 3uite by accident. )e was a friend of Mr.
Khan(s, and as the latter had discovered dee! down in him a vein of other/worldliness
he introduced him to me.
5hen * came to #now him * was startled at his love of lu&ury and e&travagance. But at
our very first meeting, he as#ed searching 3uestions concerning matters of religion.
5e incidentally tal#ed of Gautam Buddha(s renunciation. ur ac3uaintance soon
ri!ened into very close friendshi!, so much so that we thought ali#e, and he was
convinced that he must carry out in his life the changes * was ma#ing in mine.
1t that time he was single, and was e&!ending +s. 9,8AA monthly on himself, over and
above house rent. %ow he reduced himself to such sim!licity that his e&!enses came
to +s. 98A !er month. 1fter the brea#ing u! of my household and my first release from
,ail, we began to live together. *t was a fairly hard life that we led.
*t was during this time that we had the discussion about mil#. Mr. Kallenbach said, (5e
constantly tal# about the harmful effects of mil#. 5hy then do not we give it u!@ *t is
certainly not necessary.( * was agreeably sur!rised at the suggestion, which * warmly
welcomed, and both of us !ledged ourselves to ab,ure mil# there and then. This was
at Tolstoy 0arm in the year 9<98.
But this denial was not enough to satisfy me. Soon after this * decided to live on a
!ure fruit diet, and that too com!osed of the chea!est fruit !ossible, ur ambition
was to live the life of the !oorest !eo!le.
The fruit diet turned out to be very convenient also. -oo#ing was !ractically done
away with. +aw groundnuts, bananas, dates, lemons, and olive oil com!osed our usual
diet.
* must here utter a warning for the as!irants of brahmacharya. Though * have made
out an intimate connection between diet and brahmacharya, it is certain that mind is
the !rinci!al thing. 1 mind consciously unclean cannot be cleansed by fasting.
Modifications in diet have no effect on it. The concu!iscence of the mind cannot be
rooted out e&ce!t by intense self/e&amination, surrender to God and lastly, grace. But
there is an intimate connection between the mind and the body, and carnal mind
always lusts for delicacies and lu&uries. To obviate this tendency dietetic restrictions
and fasting would a!!ear to be necessary. The carnal mind, instead of controlling the
senses, becomes their slave, and therefore the body always needs clean non/
stimulating foods and !eriodical fasting.
Those who ma#e light of dietetic restrictions and fasting are as much in error as those
who sta#e their all on them. My e&!erience teaches me that, for those whose minds
are wor#ing towards self/restraint, dietetic restrictions and fasting are very hel!ful.
*n fact without their hel! concu!iscence cannot be com!letely rooted out the mind.
%A$TING
$ust about the time when * gave u! mil# and cereals, and started on the e&!eriment
of a fruit diet, * commenced fasting as a means of self/restraint. *n this Mr. Kallenbach
also ,oined me. * had been used to fasting now and again, but for !urely health
reasons. That fasting was necessary for self/restraint * learnt from a friend.
)aving been born in a .aishnava family and of a mother who was given to #ee!ing all
sorts of hard vows, * had observed, while in *ndia, the "kadashi and other fasts, but in
doing so * had merely co!ied my mother and sought to !lease my !arents.
1t that time * did not understand, nor did * believe in, the efficacy of fasting. But
seeing that the friend * have mentioned was observing it with benefit, and with the
ho!e of su!!orting the brahmacharya vow, * followed his e&am!le and began #ee!ing
the "kadashi fast. 1s a rule )indus allow themselves mil# and fruit on a fasting day,
but such fast * had been #ee!ing daily. So now * began com!lete fasting, allowing
myself only water.
5hen * started on this e&!eriment, the )indu month of Shravan and the *slamic month
of +am2an ha!!ened to coincide. The Gandhis used to observe not only the .aishnava
but also the Shaivite vows, and visited the Shaivite as also the .aishnava tem!les.
Some of the members of the family used to observe pradsha in the whole of the
month of Shravan. * decided to do li#ewise.
These im!ortant e&!eriments were underta#en while we were at Tolstoy 0arm, where
Mr. Kallenbach and * were staying with a few Satyagrahi families, including young
!eo!le and children. 0or these last we had a school. 1mong them were four or five
Musalmans. * always hel!ed and encouraged them in #ee!ing all their religious
observances. * too# care to see that they offered their daily nama). There were
-hristians and Parsi youngsters too, whom * considered it my duty to encourage to
follow their res!ective religious observances.
"uring this month, therefore, * !ersuaded the Musalman youngsters to observe the
ram)an fast. * had of course decided to observe pradsha myself, but * now as#ed the
)indu, Parsi and -hristian youngsters to ,oin me. * e&!lained to them that it was
always a good thing to ,oin with others in any matter of self/denial. Many of the 0arm
inmates welcomed my !ro!osal. The )indu and the Parsi youngsters did not co!y the
Musalman ones in every detailsC it was not necessary. The Musalman youngsters had to
wait for their brea#fast until sunset, whereas the others did not do so, and were thus
able to !re!are delicacies for the Musalman friends and serve them. %or had the
)indu and other youngsters to #ee! the Musalmans com!any when they had their last
meal before sunrise ne&t morning, and of course all e&ce!t the Musalmans allowed
themselves water.
The result of these e&!eriments was that all were convinced of the value of fasting,
and a s!lendid esprit de crps grew u! among them.
5e were all vegetarians on Tolstoy 0arm, than#s, * must gratefully confess, to the
readiness of all to res!ect my feelings. The Musalman youngsters must have missed
their meat during ram)an, but none of them ever let me #now that they did so. They
delighted in and relished the vegetarian diet, and the )indu youngsters often
!re!ared vegetarian delicacies for them, in #ee!ing with the sim!licity of the 0arm.
* have !ur!osely digressed in the midst of this cha!ter on fasting, as * could not have
given these !leasant reminiscences anywhere else, and * have indirectly described a
characteristic of mine, namely that * have always loved to have my co/wor#ers with
me in anything that has a!!ealed to me as being good. They were 3uite new to
fasting, but than#s to the pradsha and ram)an fasts, it was easy for me to interest
them in fasting as a means of self/restraint.
Thus an atmos!here of self/restraint naturally s!rang u! on the 0arm. 1ll the 0arm
inmates now began to ,oin us in #ee!ing !artial and com!lete fasts, which, * am sure,
was entirely to the good. * cannot definitely say how far this self/denial touched their
hearts and hel!ed them in their striving to con3uer the flesh. 0or my !art, however, *
am convinced that * greatly benefited by it both !hysically and morally. But * #now
that it does not necessarily follow that fasting and similar disci!lines would have the
same effect for all.
0asting can hel! to curb animal !assion, only if it is underta#en with a view to self/
restraint. Some of my friends have actually found their animal !assion and !alate
stimulated as an after/effect of fasts. That is to say, fasting is futile unless it is
accom!anied by an incessant longing for self/restraint. The famous verse from the
second cha!ter of the Bha!avad!ita is worth noting in this connection'
(0or a man who is fasting his senses utwardly, the sense/ob,ects disa!!ear, 4eaving
the yearning behindC but when )e has seen the )ighest, 6ven the yearning
disa!!ears.(
0asting and similar disci!line is, therefore, one of the means to the end of self/
restraint, but it is not all, and if !hysical fasting is not accom!anied by mental
fasting, it is bound to end in hy!ocrisy and disaster.
A$ $CH!!MA$TER
The reader will, * ho!e, bear in mind the fact that * am, in these cha!ters, describing
things not mentioned, or only cursorily mentioned, in the history of Satyagraha in
South 1frica. *f he does so, he will easily see the connection between the recent
cha!ters.
1s the 0arm grew, it was found necessary to ma#e some !rovision for the education of
its boys and girls. There were, among these, )indu, Musalman, Parsi and -hristian
boys and some )indu girls. *t was not !ossible, and * did not thin# it necessary, to
engage s!ecial teachers for them. *t was not !ossible, for 3ualified *ndian teachers
were scarce, and even when available, none would be ready to go to a !lace 89 miles
distant from $ohannesburg on a small salary. 1lso we were certainly not overflowing
with money. 1nd * did not thin# it necessary to im!ort teachers from outside the
0arm. * did not believe in the e&isting system of education, and * had a mind to find
out by e&!erience and e&!eriment the true system. nly this much * #new/that, under
ideal conditions, true education could be im!arted only by the !arents, and that then
there should be the minimum of outside hel!, that Tolstoy 0arm was a family, in which
* occu!ied the !lace of the father, and that * should so far as !ossible shoulder the
res!onsibility for the training of the young.
The conce!tion no doubt was not without its flaws. 1ll the young !eo!le had not been
with me since their childhood, they had been brought u! in different conditions and
environments, and they did not belong to the same religion. )ow could * do full
,ustice to the young !eo!le, thus circumstanced, even if * assumed the !lace of
!aterfamilias@
But * had always given the first !lace to the culture of the heart or the building of
character, and as * felt confident that moral training could be given to all ali#e, no
matter how different their ages and their u!bringing, * decided to live amongst them
all the twenty/four hours of the day as their father. * regarded character building as
the !ro!er foundation for their education and, if the foundation was firmly laid, * was
sure that the children could learn all the other things themselves or with the
assistance of friends.
But as * fully a!!reciated the necessity of a literary training in addition, * started
some classes with the hel! of Mr. Kallenbach and S,t. Prag,i "esai. %or did * underrate
the building u! of the body. This they got in the course of their daily routine. 0or
there were no servants on the 0arm, and all the wor#, from coo#ing down to
scavenging, was done by the immates. There were many fruit trees to be loo#ed after,
and enough gardening to be done as well. Mr. Kallenbach was fond of gardening and
had gained some e&!erience of this wor# in one of the Governmental model gardens.
*t was obligatory on all, young and old, who were not engaged in the #itchen, to give
some time to gardening. The children had the lion(s share of this wor#, which included
digging !its, felling timber and lifting loads. This gave them am!le e&ercise. They
too# delight in the wor#, and so they did not generally need any other e&ercise or
games. f course some of them, and sometimes all them, malingered and shir#ed.
Sometimes * connived at their !ran#s, but often * was strict with them, * dare say they
did not li#e the strictness, but * do not recollect their having resisted it. 5henever *
was strict, * would, by argument, convince them that it was not right to !lay with
one(s wor#. The conviction would, however, be short/lived, the ne&t moment they
would again leave their wor# and go to !lay. 1ll the same we got along, and at any
rate they built u! fine !hysi3ues. There was scarcely any illness on the 0arm, though
it must be said that good air and water and regular hours of food were not a little
res!onsible for this.
1 word about vocational training. *t was my intention to teach every one of the
youngsters some useful manual vocation. 0or this !ur!ose Mr. Kallenbach went to a
Tra!!ist monastery and returned having learnt shoema#ing. * learnt it from him and
taught the art to such as were ready to ta#e it u!. Mr. Kallenbach had some
e&!erience of car!entry, and there was another inmate who #new itC so we had a
small class in car!entry. -oo#ing almost all the youngsters #new.
1ll this was new to them. They had never even dreamt that they would have to learn
these things some day. 0or generally the only training that *ndian children received in
South 1frica was in the three +(s.
n Tolstoy 0arm we made it a rule that the youngsters should not be as#ed to do what
the teachers did not do, and therefore, when they were as#ed to do any wor#, there
was always a teacher co/o!erating and actually wor#ing with them. )ence whatever
the youngsters learnt, they learnt cheerfully.
4iterary training and character building must be dealt with in the following cha!ters.
ITERAR" TRAINING
*t was seen in the last cha!ter how we !rovided for the !hysical training on Tolstoy
0arm, and incidentally for the vocational. Though this was hardly done in a way to
satisfy me, it may be claimed to have been more or less successful.
4iterary training, however, was a more difficult matter. * had neither the resources
nor the literary e3ui!ment necessaryC and * had not the time * would have wished to
devote to the sub,ect. The !hysical wor# that * was doing used to leave me thoroughly
e&hausted at the end of the day, and * used to have the classes ,ust when * was most
in need of some rest. *nstead, therefore, of my being fresh for the class, * could with
the greatest difficulty #ee! myself awa#e. The mornings had to be devoted to wor# on
the farm and domestic duties, so the school hours had to be #e!t after the midday
meal. There was no other time suitable for the school.
5e gave three !eriods at the most to literary training. )indi, Tamil, Gu,arati and Urdu
were all taught, and tuition was given through the vernaculars of the boys. 6nglish
was taught as well, it was also necessary to ac3uaint the Gu,arati )indu children with
a little Sams#rit, and to teach all the children elementary history, geogra!hy and
arithmetic.
* had underta#en to teach Tamil and Urdu. The little Tamil * #new was ac3uired during
voyages and in ,ail. * had not got beyond Po!e(s e&cellent Tamil handboo#. My
#nowledge of the Urdu scri!t was all that * had ac3uired on a single voyage, and my
#nowledge of the language was confined to the familiar Persian and 1rabic words that
* had learnt from contact with Musalman friends. f Sams#rit * #new no more than *
had learnt at the high school, even my Gu,arati was no better than that which one
ac3uires at the school.
Such was the ca!ital with which * had to carry on. *n !overty of literary e3ui!ment my
colleagues went one better than *. But my love for the languages of my country, my
confidence in my !u!ils, and more than that, their generosity, stood me in good
stead.
The Tamil boys were all born in South 1frica, and therefore #new very little Tamil, and
did not #now the scri!t at all. So * had to teach them the scri!t and the rudiments of
grammar. That was easy enough. My !u!ils #new that they could any day beat me in
Tamil conversation, and when Tamilians, not #nowing 6nglish, came to see me, they
became my inter!reters. * got along merrily, because * never attem!ted to disguise
my ignorance from my !u!ils. *n all res!ects * showed myself to them e&actly as *
really was. Therefore in s!ite of my colossal ignorance of the language * never lost
their love and res!ect. *t was com!aratively easier to teach the Musalman boys Urdu.
They #new the scri!t. * had sim!ly to stimulate in them an interest in reading and to
im!rove their handwriting.
These youngsters were for the most !art unlettered and unschooled. But * found in
the course of my wor# that * had very little to teach them, beyond weaning them
from their la2iness, and su!ervising their studies. 1s * was content with this, * could
!ull on with boys of different ages and learning different sub,ects in one and the
same class room.
f te&t/boo#s, about which we hear so much, * never felt the want. * do not even
remember having made much use of the boo#s that were available. * did not find it at
all necessary to load the boys with 3uantities of boo#s. * have always felt that the
true te&t/boo# for the !u!il is his teacher. * remember very little that my teachers
taught me from boo#s, but * have even now a clear recollection of the things they
taught me inde!endently of boo#s.
-hildren ta#e in much more and with less labour through their ears than through their
eyes. * do not remember having read any boo# from cover to cover with my boys. But *
gave them, in my own language, all that * had digested from my reading of various
boo#s, and * dare say they are still carrying a recollection of it in their minds. *t was
laborious for them to remember what they learnt from boo#s, but what * im!arted to
them by word of mouth, they could re!eat with the greatest ease. +eading was a tas#
for them, but listening to me was a !leasure, when * did not bore them by failure to
ma#e my sub,ect interesting. 1nd from the 3uestions that my tal#s !rom!ted them to
!ut, * had a measure of their !ower of understanding.
TRAINING !% THE $PIRIT
The s!iritual training of the boys was a much more difficult matter than their !hysical
and mental training. * relied little on religious boo#s for the training of the s!irit. f
course, * believed that every student should be ac3uainted with the elements of his
own religion and have a general #nowledge of his own scri!tures, and therefore *
!rovided for such #nowledge as best * could. But that, to my mind, was !art of the
intellectual training. 4ong before * undertoo# the education of the youngsters of the
Tolstoy 0arm * had reali2ed that the training of the s!irit was a thing by itself. To
develo! the s!irit is to build character and to enable one to wor# towards a
#nowledge of God and self/reali2ation. 1nd * held that this was an essential !art of
the training of the young, and that all training without culture of the s!irit was of no
use, and might be even harmful.
* am familiar with the su!erstition that self/reali2ation is !ossible only in the fourth
stage of life, i.e., sannyasa >renunciation?. But it is a matter of common #nowledge
that those who defer !re!aration for this invaluable e&!erience until the last stage of
life attain not self/reali2ation but old age amounting to a second and !itiable
childhood, living as a burden on this earth. * have a full recollection that * held these
views even whilst * was teaching i. e., in 9<99/98, though * might not then have
e&!ressed them in identical language.
)ow then was this s!iritual training to be given@ * made the children memori2e and
recite hymns, and read to them from boo#s on moral training. But that was far from
satisfying me. 1s * came into closer contact with them * saw that it was not through
boo#s that one could im!art training of the s!irit. $ust as !hysical training was to be
im!arted through !hysical e&ercise even so the training of the s!irit was !ossible only
through the e&ercise of the s!irit. 1nd the e&ercise of the s!irit entirely de!ended on
the life and character of the teacher. The teacher had always to be mindful of his !(s
and 3(s, whether he was in the midst of his boys or not.
*t is !ossible for a teacher situated miles away to affect the s!irit of the !u!ils by his
way of living. *t would be idle for me, if * were a liar, to teach boys to tell the truth. 1
cowardly teacher would never succeed in ma#ing his boys valiant, and a stranger to
self/ restraint could never teach his !u!ils the value os self/restraint. * saw therefore
that * must be an eternal ob,ect/lesson to the boys and girls living with me. They thus
became my teachers, and * learnt * must be good and live straight, if only for their
sa#es. * may say that the increasing disci!line and restraint * im!osed on myself at
Tolstoy 0arm was mostly due to those wards of mine.
ne of them was wild, unruly, given to lying, and 3uarrelsome. n one occasion he
bro#e out most violently. * was e&as!erated. * never !unished my boys, but this time *
was very angry. * tried to reason with him. But he was adamant and even tried to
overreach me. 1t last * !ic#ed u! a ruler lying at hand and delivered a blow on his
arm. * trembled as * struc# him. * dare say he noticed it. This was an entirely novel
e&!erience for them all. The boy cried out and begged to be forgiven. )e cried not
because the beating was !ainful to himC he could, if he had been so minded, have
!aid me bac# in the same coin, being a stoutly built youth of seventeenC but he
reali2ed my !ain in being driven to this violent resource. %ever again after this
incident did he disobey me. But * still re!ent that violence. * am afraid * e&hibited
before him that day not the s!irit, but the brute, in me.
* have always been o!!osed to cor!oral !unishment. * remember only one occasion on
which * !hysically !unished one of my sons. * have therefore never until this day been
able to decide whether * was right or wrong in using the ruler. Probably it was
im!ro!er, for it was !rom!ted by anger and a desire to !unish. )ad it been an
e&!ression only of my distress, * should have considered it ,ustified. But the motive in
this case was mi&ed.
This incident set me thin#ing and taught me a better method of correcting students. *
do not #now whether that method would have availed on the occasion in 3uestion.
The youngster soon forgot the incident, and * do not thin# he ever showed great
im!rovement,. But the incident made me understand better the duty of a teacher
towards his !u!ils.
-ases of misconduct on the !art of the boys often occurred after this, but * never
resorted to cor!oral !unishment. Thus in my endeavour to im!art s!iritual training to
the boys and girls under me, * came to understand better and better the !ower of the
s!irit.
TARE$ AM!NG THE ,HEAT
*t was at Tolstoy 0arm that Mr. Kallenbach drew my attention to a !roblem that had
never before struc# me. 1s * have already said, some of the boys at the 0arm were
bad and unruly. There were loafers, too, amongst them. 5ith these my three boys
came in daily contact, as also did other children of the same ty!e as my own sons.
This troubled Mr. Kallenbach, but his attention was centred on the im!ro!riety of
#ee!ing myP boys with these unruly youngsters.
ne day he s!o#e out' (=our way of mi&ing your own boys with the bad ones does not
a!!eal to me. *t can have only one result. They will become demorali2ed through this
bad com!any.(
* do not remember whether the 3uestion !u22led me at the moment, but * recollect
what * said to him'
()ow can * distinguish between my boys and the loafers@ * am e3ually res!onsible for
both. The youngsters have come because * invited them. *f * were to dismiss them
with some money, they would immediately run off to $ohannesburg and fall bac# into
their old ways. To tell you the truth, it is 3uite li#ely that they and their guardians
believe that, by having come here, they have laid me under an obligation. That they
have to !ut u! with a good deal of inconvenience here, you and * #now very well. But
my duty is clear. * must have them here, and therefore my boys also must needs live
with them. 1nd surely you do not want me to teach my boys to feel from today that
they are su!erior to other boys. To !ut that sense of su!eriority into their heads
would be to lead them astray. This association with other boys will be a good
disci!line for them. They will, of their own accord, learn to discriminate between
good and evil. 5hy should we not believe that, if there is really anything good in
them, it is bound to react on their com!anions@ )owever that may be, * cannot hel!
#ee!ing them here, and if that means some ris#, we must run it.(
Mr. Kallenbach shoo# his head.
The result, * thin#, cannot be said to have been bad. * do not consider my sons were
any the worse for the e&!eriment. n the contrary * can see that they gained
something. *f there was the slightest trace of su!eriority in them, it was destroyed
and they learnt to mi& with all #inds of children. They were tested and disci!lined.
This and similar e&!eriments have shown me that, if good children are taught
together with bad ones and thrown into their com!any, they will lose nothing,
!rovided the e&!eriment is conducted under the watchful care of their !arents and
guardians.
-hildren wra!!ed u! in cottonwool are not always !roof against all tem!tation or
contamination. *t is true, however, that when boys and girls of all #inds of u!bringing
are #e!t and taught together, the !arents and the teachers are !ut to the severest
test. They have constantly to be on the alert.
%A$TING A$ PENANCE
"ay by day it became increasingly clear to me how very difficult it was to bring u!
and educate boys and girls in the right way. *f * was to be their real teacher and
guardian, * must touch their hearts. * must share their ,oys and sorrows, * must hel!
them to solve the !roblems that faced them, and * must ta#e along the right channel
the surging as!irations of their youth.
n the release of some of the Satyagrahis from ,ail, Tolstoy 0arm was almost denuded
of its inmates. The few that remained mostly belonged to Phoeni&. So * removed them
there. )ere * had to !ass through a fiery ordeal.
*n those days * had to move between $ohannesburg and Phoeni&. nce when * was in
$ohannesburg * received tidings of the moral fall of two of the inmates of the 1shram.
%ews of an a!!arent failure or reverse in the Satyagraha struggle would not have
shoc#ed me, but this news came u!on me li#e a thunderbolt. The same day * too# the
train for Phoeni&. Mr. Kallenbach insisted on accom!anying me. )e had noticed the
state * was in. )e would not broo# the thought of my going alone, for he ha!!ened to
be the bearer of the tidings which had so u!set me.
"uring the ,ourney my duty seemed clear to me. * felt that the guardian or teacher
was res!onsible, to some e&tent at least, for the la!se of his ward or !u!il. So my
res!onsibility regarding the incident in 3uestion became clear to me as daylight. My
wife had already warned me in the matter, but being of a trusting nature, * had
ignored her caution. * felt that the only way the guilty !arties could be made to
reali2e my distress and the de!th of their own fall would be for me to do some
!enance. So * im!osed u!on myself a fast for seven days and a vow to have only one
meal a day for a !eriod of four months and a half. Mr. Kallenbach tried to dissuade
me, but in vain. )e finally conceded the !ro!riety of the !enance, and insisted on
,oining me. * could not resist his trans!arent affection.
* felt greatly relieved, for the decision meant a heavy load off my mind. The anger
against the guilty !arties subsided and gave !lace to the !urest !ity for them. Thus
considerably eased, * reached Phoeni&. * made further investigation and ac3uainted
myself with some more details * needed to #now.
My !enance !ained everybody, but it cleared the atmos!here. 6veryone came to
reali2e what a terrible thing it was to be sinful, and the bond that bound me to the
boys and girls became stronger and truer.
1 circumstance arising out of this incident com!elled me, a little while after, to go
into a fast for fourteen days, the results of which e&ceeded even my e&!ectations.
*t is not my !ur!ose to ma#e out from these incidents that it is the duty of a teacher
to resort to fasting whenever there is a delin3uency on the !art of his !u!ils. * hold,
however, that some occasions do call for this drastic remedy. But it !resu!!oses
clearness of vision and s!iritual fitness. 5here there is no true love between the
teacher and the !u!il, where the !u!il(s delin3uency has not touched the very being
of the teacher and where the !u!il has no res!ect for the teacher, fasting is out of
!lace and may even be harmful. Though there is thus room for doubting the !ro!riety
of fasts in such cases, there is no 3uestion about the teacher(s res!onsibility for the
errors of his !u!il.
The first !enance did not !rove difficult for any of us. * had to sus!end or sto! none
of my normal activities. *t may be recalled that during the whole of this !eriod of
!enance * was a strict fruitarian. The latter !art of the second fast went fairly hard
with me. * had not then com!letely understood the wonderful efficacy of +amanama ,
and my ca!acity for suffering was to that e&tent less. Besides, * did not #now the
techni3ue of fasting, es!ecially the necessity of drin#ing !lenty of water, however
nauseating or distasteful it might be. Then the fact that the first fast had been an
easy affair had made me rather careless as to the second. Thus during the first * too#
Kuhne baths every day, but during the second * gave them u! after two or three days,
and dran# very little water, as it was distasteful and !roduced nausea. The throat
became !arched and wea# and during the last days * could s!ea# only in a very low
voice. *n s!ite of this, however, my wor# was carried on through dictation where
writing was necessary. * regularly listened to readings from the +amayana and other
sacred boo#s. * had also sufficient strength to discuss and advise in all urgent matters.
T! MEET G!KHAE
* must s#i! many of the recollections of South 1frica. 1t the conclusion of the
Satyagraha struggle in 9<9E, * received Go#hale(s instruction to return home via
4ondon. So in $uly Kasturbai, Kallenbach and * sailed for 6ngland.
"uring Satyagraha * had begun travelling third class. * therefore too# third class
!assages for this voyage. But there was a good deal of difference between third class
accommodation on the boat on this route and that !rovided on *ndian coastal boats or
railway trains. There is hardly sufficient sitting, much less slee!ing, accommodation
in the *ndian service, and little cleanliness. "uring the voyage to 4ondon, on the other
hand, there was enough room and cleanliness, and the steamshi! com!any had
!rovided s!ecial facilities for us. The com!any had !rovided reserved closet
accommodation for us, and as we were fruitarians, the steward had orders to su!!ly
us with fruits and nuts. 1s a rule third class !assengers get little fruit or nuts. These
facilities made our eighteen days on the boat 3uite comfortable.
Some of the incidents during the voyage are well worth recording. Mr. Kallenbach was
very fond of binoculars, and had one or two costly !airs. 5e had daily discussion over
one of these. * tried to im!ress on him that this !ossession was not in #ee!ing with
the ideal of sim!licity that we as!ired to reach. ur discussions came to a head one
day, as we were standing near the !orthole of our cabin.
(+ather than allow these to be a bone of contention between us, why not throw them
into the sea and be done with them@( said *.
(-ertainly throw the wretched things away.( said Mr. Kallenbach.
(* mean it,( said *.
(So do *,( 3uic#ly came the re!ly.
1nd forthwith * flung them into the sea. They were worth some LF, but their value lay
less in their !rice than in Mr. Kallenbach(s infatuation for them. )owever, having got
rid of them, he never regretted it.
This is out one out of the many incidents that ha!!ened between Mr. Kallenbach and
me.
6very day we had to learn something new in this way, for both of us were trying to
tread the !ath of Truth. *n the march towards Truth, anger, selfishness, hatred, etc.,
naturally give way, for otherwise Truth would be im!ossible to attain. 1 man who is
swayed by !assions may have good enough intentions, may be truthful in word, but he
will never find the Truth. 1 successful search for Truth means com!lete deliverance
from the dual throng such as of love and hate, ha!!iness and misery.
%ot much time had ela!sed since my fast when we started on our voyage. * had not
regained my normal strength. * used to stroll on duc# to get a little e&ercise, so as to
revive my a!!etite and digest what * ate. But even this e&ercise was beyond me,
causing !ain in the calves, so much so that on reaching 4ondon * found that * was
worse rather than better. There * came to #now "r. $ivra, Mehta. * gave him the
history of my fast and subse3uent !ain, and he said, (*f you do not ta#e com!lete rest
for a few days, there is a fear of your legs going out of use.(
*t was then that * learned that a man emerging from a long fast should not be in a
hurry to regain lost strength, and should also !ut a curb on his a!!etite. More caution
and !erha!s more restraint are necessary in brea#ing a fast than in #ee!ing it.
*n Madeira we heard that the great 5ar might brea# out at any moment. 1s we
entered the 6nglish -hannel, we received the news of its actual outbrea#. 5e were
sto!!ed for some time. *t was a difficult business to tow the boat through the
submarine mines which had been laid throughout the -hannel, and it too# about two
days to reach Southam!ton.
5ar was declared on the Eth of 1ugust. 5e reached 4ondon on the ;th.
M" PART IN THE ,AR
n arrival in 6ngland * learned that Go#hale had been stranded in Paris where he had
gone for reasons of health, and as communication between Paris and 4ondon had been
cut off, there was no #nowing when he would return. * did not want to go home
without having seen him, but no one could say definitely when he would arrive.
5hat then was * to do in the meanwhile@ 5hat was my duty as regards the war@
Sorab,i 1da,ania, my comrade in ,ail and a Satyagrahi, was then reading for the bar in
4ondon. 1s one of the best Satyagrahis he had been sent to 6ngland to 3ualify himself
as a barrister, so that he might ta#e my !lace on return to South 1frica. "r.
Pran,ivandas Mehta was !aying his e&!enses. 5ith him, and through him, * had
conferences with "r. $ivra, Mehta and others who were !rosecuting their studies in
6ngland. *n consultation with them, a meeting of the *ndian residents in Great Britain
and *reland was called. * !laced my views before them.
* felt that *ndians residing in 6ngland ought to do their bit in the war. 6nglish students
had volunteered to serve in the army, and *ndians might do no less. 1 number of
ob,ections were ta#en to this line of argument. There was, it was contended, a world
of difference between the *ndians and the 6nglish. 5e were salves and they were
masters. )ow could a slave co/o!erate with the master in the hour of the latter(s
need@ 5as it not the duty of the slave, see#ing to be free, to ma#e the master(s need
his o!!ortunity@ This argument failed to a!!eal to me then. * #new the difference of
status between an *ndian and an 6nglishman, but * did not believe that we had been
3uite reduced to slavery. * felt then that it was more the fault of individual British
officials than of the British system, and that we could convert them by love. *f we
would im!rove our status through the hel! and co/o!eration of the British, it was our
duty to win their hel! by standing by them in their hour of need. Though the system
was faulty, it did not seem to me to be intolerable, as it does today. But if, having lost
my faith in the system, * refuse to co/o!erate with the British Government today, how
could those friends then do so, having lost their faith not only in the system but in the
officials as well@
The o!!osing friends felt that was the hour for ma#ing a bold declaration of *ndian
demands and for im!roving the status of *ndians.
* thought that 6ngland(s need should not be turned into our o!!ortunity, and that it
was more becoming and far/sighted not to !ress our demands while the war lasted. *
therefore adhered to my advice and invited those who would to enlist as volunteers.
There was a good res!onse, !ractically all the !rovinces and all the religions being
re!resented among the volunteers.
* wrote a letter to 4ord -rewe, ac3uainting him with these facts, and e&!ressing our
readiness to be trained for ambulance wor#, if that should be considered a condition
!recedent to the acce!tance of our offer.
4ord -rewe acce!ted the offer after some hesitation, and than#ed us for having
tendered our services to the 6m!ire at that critical hour.
The volunteers began their !reliminary training in first aid to the wounded under the
well/#nown "r.-antlie. *t was a short course of si& wee#s, but it covered the whole
course of first aid.
5e were a class of about :A. *n si& wee#s we were e&amined, and all e&ce!t one
!assed. 0or these the Government now !rovided military drill and other training.
-olonel Ba#er was !laced in charge of this wor#.
4ondon in these days was a sight worth seeing. There was no !anic, but all were busy
hel!ing to the best of their ability. 1ble/bodied adults began training as combatants,
but what were the old, the infirm and the women to do@ There was enough wor# for
them, if they wanted. So they em!loyed themselves in cutting and ma#ing clothes and
dressings for the wounded.
The 4yceum, a ladies( club, undertoo# to ma#e as many clothes for the soldiers as
they could. Shrimati Saro,ini %aidu was a member of this club, and threw herself
whole/heartedly into the wor#. This was my first ac3uaintance with her. She !laced
before me a hea! of clothes which had been cut to !attern, and as#ed me to get
them all sewn u! and return them to her. * welcomed her demand and with the
assistance of friends got as many clothes made as * could manage during my training
for first aid.
A $PIRIT#A DIEMMA
1s soon as the news reached South 1frica that * along with other *ndians had offered
my services in the war, * received two cables. ne of these was from Mr. Pola# who
3uestioned the consistency of my action with my !rofession of ahimsa .
* had to a certain e&tent antici!ated this ob,ection, for * had discussed the 3uestion in
my )ind Swara, or *ndian )ome +ule , and used to discuss it day in and day out with
friends in South 1frica. 1ll of us recogni2ed the immorality of war.*f * was not
!re!ared to !rosecute my assailant, much less should * be willing to !artici!ate in a
war, es!ecially when * #new nothing of the ,ustice or otherwise of the cause of the
combatants. 0riends of course #new that * had !reviously served in the Boer 5ar, but
they assumed that my views had since undergone a change.
1s a matter of fact the very same line of argument that !ersuaded me to ta#e !art in
the Boer 5ar had weighed with me on this occasion. *t was 3uite clear to me that
!artici!ation in war could never be consistent with ahimsa . But it is not always given
to one to be e3ually clear about one(s duty. 1 votary of truth is often obliged to gro!e
in the dar#.
1himsa is a com!rehensive !rinci!le. 5e are hel!less mortals caught in the
conflagration of himsa . The saying that life lives on life has a dee! meaning in it. Man
cannot for a moment live without consciously or unconsciously committing outward
himsa . The very fact of his living eating, drin#ing and moving about necessarily
involves some himsa , destruction of life, be it ever so minute. 1 votary of ahimsa
therefore remains true to his faith if the s!ring of all his actions is com!assion, if he
shuns to the best of his ability the destruction of the tiniest creature, tries to save it,
and thus incessantly strives to be free from the deadly coil of himsa . )e will be
constantly growing in self/restraint and com!assion, but he can never become entirely
free from outward himsa .
Then again, because underlying ahimsa is the unity of all life, the error of one cannot
but affect all, and hence man cannot be wholly free from himsa . So long as he
continues to be a social being, he cannot but !artici!ate in the himsa that the very
e&istence of society involves. 5hen two nations are fighting, the duty of a votary of
ahimsa is to sto! the war. )e who is not e3ual to that duty, he who has no !ower of
resisting war, he who is not 3ualified to resist war, may ta#e !art in war, and yet
whole/heartedly try to free himself, his nation and the world from war.
* had ho!ed to im!rove status and that of my !eo!le through the British 6m!ire.
5hilst in 6ngland * was en,oying the !rotection of the British 0leet, and ta#ing shelter
as * did under its armed might, * was directly !artici!ating in its !otential violence.
Therefore if * desired to retain my connection with the 6m!ire and to live under its
banner, one of three courses was o!en to me' * could declare o!en resistance to the
war and, in accordance with the law of Satyagraha, boycott the 6m!ire until it
changed its military !olicyC or * could see# im!risonment by civil disobedience of such
of its laws as were fit to be disobeyedC or * could !artici!ate in the war on the side of
the 6m!ire and thereby ac3uire the ca!acity and fitness for resisting the violence of
war. * lac#ed this ca!acity and fitness, as * thought there was nothing for it but to
serve in the war.
* ma#e no distinction, from the !oint of view of ahimsa , between combatants and
non/combatants. )e who volunteers to serve a band of dacoits, by wor#ing as their
carrier, or their watchman while they are about their business, or their nurse when
they are wounded, is as much guilty of dacoity as the dacoits themselves. *n the same
way those who confine themselves to attending to the wounded in battle cannot be
absolved from the guilt of war.
* had argued the whole thing out to myself in this manner, before * received Pola#(s
cable, and soon after its recei!t, * discussed these views with several friends and
concluded that it was my duty to offer to serve in the war. 6ven today * see no flaw in
that line of argument, nor am * sorry for my action, holding, as * then did, views
favourable to the British connection.
* #now that even then * could not carry conviction with all my friends about the
correctness of my !osition. The 3uestion is subtle. *t admits of differences of o!inion,
and therefore * have submitted my argument as clearly as !ossible to those who
believe in ahimsa and who are ma#ing serious efforts to !ractise it in every wal# of
life. 1 devotee of Truth may not do anything in deference to convention. )e must
always hold himself o!en to correction, and whenever he discovers himself to be
wrong he must confess it at all costs and atone for it.
MINIAT#RE $AT"AGRAHA
Though * thus too# !art in the war as a matter of duty, it chanced that * was not only
unable directly to !artici!ate in it, but actually com!elled to offer what may be
called miniature Satyagraha even at that critical ,uncture.
* have already said that an officer was a!!ointed in charge of our training, as soon as
our names were a!!roved and enlisted. 5e were all under the im!ression that this
-ommanding fficer was to be our chief only so far as technical matters were
concerned, and that in all other matters * was the head of our -or!s, which was
directly res!onsible to me in matters of internal disci!lineC that is to say, the
-ommanding fficer had to deal with the -or!s through me. But from the first the
fficer left us under no much delusion.
Mr. Sorab,i 1da,ania was a shrewd man. )e warned me. (Beware of this man,( he said.
()e seems inclined to lord it over us. 5e will have none of his orders. 5e are !re!ared
to loo# u!on him as our instructor. But the youngsters he has a!!ointed to instruct us
also feel as though they had come as our masters.(
These youngsters were &ford students who had come to instruct us and whom the
-ommanding fficer had a!!ointed to be our section leaders.
* also had not failed to notice the high/handedness of the -ommanding fficer, but *
as#ed Sorab,i not to be an&ious and tried to !acify him. But he was not the man to be
easily convinced.
(=ou are too trusting. Those !eo!le will deceive you with wretched words, and when
at last you see through them, you will as# us to resort to Satyagraha, and so come to
grief, and bring us all to grief along with you,( said he with a smile.
(5hat else but grief can you ho!e to come to after having cast in your lot with me@(
said *. (1 Satyagrahi is born to be deceived. 4et the -ommanding fficer deceive us.
)ave * not told you times without number that ultimately a deceiver only deceives
himself@(
Sorab,i gave a loud laugh. (5ell, then,( said he, (continue to be deceived. =ou will
some day meet your death in Satyagraha and drag !oor mortals li#e me behind you.(
These words !ut me in mind of what the late Miss 6mily )obhouse wrote to me with
regard to non/co/o!eration' (* should not be sur!rised if one of these days you have to
go to the gallows for the sa#e of truth. May God show you the right !ath and !rotect
you.(
The tal# with Sorab,i too# !lace ,ust after the a!!ointment of the -ommanding
fficer. *n a very few days our relations with him reached the brea#ing !oint. * had
hardly regained my strength after the fourteen days( fast, when * began to ta#e !art
in the drill, often wal#ing to the a!!ointed !lace about two miles from home. This
gave me !leurisy and laid me low. *n this condition * had to go wee#/end cam!ing.
5hilst the others stayed there, * returned home. *t was here that an occasion arose
for Satyagraha.
The -ommanding fficer began to e&ercise his authority somewhat freely. )e gave us
clearly to understand that he was our head in all matters, military and non/military,
giving us at the same time a taste of his authority. Sorab,i hurried to me. )e was not
at all !re!ared to !ut u! with this high/handedness. )e said' (5e must have all orders
through you. 5e are still in the training cam! and all sorts of absurd orders are being
issued. *nvidious distinctions are made between ourselves and those youths who have
been a!!ointed to instruct us. 5e must have it out with the -ommanding fficer,
otherwise we shall not be able to go on any longer. The *ndian students and others
who have ,oined our -or!s are not going to abide by any absurd orders. *n a cause
which has been ta#en u! for the sa#e of self/res!ect, it is unthin#able to !ut u! with
loss of it.(
* a!!roached the -ommanding fficer and drew his attention to the com!laints * had
received. )e wrote as#ing me to set out the com!laints in writing, at the same time
as#ing me (to im!ress u!on those who com!lain that the !ro!er direction in which to
ma#e com!laints is to me through their section commanders, now a!!ointed, who will
inform me through the instructors.(
To this * re!lied saying that * claimed no authority, that in the military sense * was no
more than any other !rivate, but that * had believed that as -hairman of the
.olunteer -or!s, * should be allowed unofficially to act as their re!resentative. * also
set out the grievances and re3uests that had been brought to my notice, namely, that
grievous dissatisfaction had been caused by the a!!ointment of section leaders
without reference to the feeling of the members of the -or!sC that they be recalled,
and the -or!s be invited to elect section leaders, sub,ect to the -ommander(s
a!!roval.
This did not a!!eal to the -ommanding fficer, who said it was re!ugnant to all
military disci!line that the section leaders should be elected by the -or!s, and that
the recall of a!!ointments already made would be subversive of all disci!line.
So we held a meeting and decided u!on withdrawal. * brought home to the members
the serious conse3uences of Satyagraha. But a very large ma,ority voted for the
resolution, which was to the effect that, unless the a!!ointments of -or!orals already
made were recalled and the members of the -or!s given an o!!ortunity of electing
their own -or!orals, the members would be obliged to abstain from further drilling
and wee#/end cam!ing.
* then addressed a letter to the -ommanding fficer telling him what a severe
disa!!ointment his letter re,ecting my suggestion had been. * assured him that * was
most an&ious to serve. * also drew his attention to a !recedent. * !ointed out that,
although * occu!ied no official ran# in the South 1frican *ndian 1mbulance -or!s at
the time of the Boer 5ar, there was never a hitch between -olonel Gallwey and the
-or!s, and the -olonel never too# a ste! without reference to me with a view to
ascertain the wishes of the -or!s. * also enclosed a co!y of the resolution we had
!assed the !revious evening.
This had no good effect on the fficer, who felt that the meeting and the resolution
were a grave breach of disci!line.
)ereu!on * addressed a letter to the Secretary of State for *ndia, ac3uainting him
with all the facts and enclosing a co!y of the resolution. )e re!lied e&!laining that
conditions in South 1frica were different, and drawing my attentions to the fact that
under the rules the section commanders were a!!ointed by the -ommanding fficer,
but assuring me that in future, when a!!ointing section commanders, the
-ommanding fficer would consider my recommendations.
1 good deal of corres!ondence !assed between us after this, but * do not want to
!rolong the bitter tale. Suffice it to say that my e&!erience was of a !iece with the
e&!eriences we daily have in *ndia. 5hat with threats and what with adroitness the
-ommanding fficer succeeded in creating a division in our -or!s. Some of those who
had voted for the resolution yielded to the -ommander(s threats or !ersuasions and
wen bac# on their !romise.
1bout this time an une&!ectedly large contingent of wounded soldiers arrived at the
%etley )os!ital, and the services of our -or!s were re3uisitioned. Those whom the
-ommanding fficer could !ersuade went to %etley. The others refused to go. * was
on my bac#, but was in communication with the members of the -or!s. Mr. +oberts,
the Under/ Secretary of State, honoured me with many calls during those days. )e
insisted on my !ersuading the others to serve. )e suggested that they should form a
se!arate -or!s and that at the %etley )os!ital they could be res!onsible only to the
-ommanding fficer there, so that there would be no 3uestion of loss of self/res!ect,
Government would be !lacated, and at same time hel!ful service would be rendered
to the large number of wounded received at the hos!ital. This suggestion a!!ealed
both to my com!anions and to me, with the result that those who had stayed away
also went to %etley.
nly * remained away, lying on my bac# and ma#ing the best of a bad ,ob.
G!KHAE&$ CHARIT"
* have already referred to the attac# of !leurisy * had in 6ngland. Go#hale returned to
4ondon soon after. Kallenbach and * used regularly to go to him. ur tal#s were mostly
about the war, and as Kallenbach had the geogra!hy of Germany at his finger ti!s, and
had travelled much in 6uro!e, he used to show him on the ma! the various !laces in
connection with the war.
5hen * got !leurisy this also became a to!ic of daily discussion. My dietetic
e&!eriments were going on even then. My diet consisted, among other things, of
groundnuts, ri!e and unri!e bananas, lemon, olive oil, tomatoes and gra!es. *
com!letely eschewed mil#, cereals, !ulses and other things.
"r. $ivra, Mehta treated me. )e !ressed me hard to resume mil# and cereals, but *
was obdurate. The matter reached Go#hale(s ears. )e had not much regard for my
reasoning in favour of a fruitarian diet, and he wanted me to ta#e whatever the
doctor !rescribed for my health.
*t was no easy thing for me not a yield to Go#hale(s !ressure. 5hen he would not ta#e
a refusal, * begged him to give me twenty/four hours for thin#ing over the 3uestion.
1s Kallenbach and * returned home that evening, we discussed where my duty lay. )e
had been with me in my e&!eriment. )e li#ed it, but * saw that he was agreeable to
my giving it u! if my health demanded it. So * had to decide for myself according to
the dictates of the inner voice.
* s!ent the whole night thin#ing over the matter. To give u! the e&!eriment would
mean renouncing all my ideas in that direction, and yet * found no flaw in them. The
3uestion was how far * should yield to Go#hale(s loving !ressure, and how far * might
modify my e&!eriment in the so/called interests of health. * finally decided to adhere
to the e&!eriment in so far as the motive behind was chiefly religious, and to yield to
the doctor(s advice where the motive was mi&ed. +eligious considerations had been
!redominant in the giving u! of mil#. * had before me a !icture of the wic#ed
!rocesses the govals in -alcutta ado!ted to e&tract the last dro! of mil# from their
cows and buffaloes. * also had the feeling that, ,ust as meat was not man(s food, even
so animal(s mil# could not be man(s food. So * got u! in the morning with the
determination to adhere to my resolve to abstain from mil#. This greatly relieved me.
* dreaded to a!!roach Go#hale, but * trusted him to res!ect my decision.
*n the evening Kallenbach and * called on Go#hale at the %ational 4iberal -lub. The
first 3uestion he as#ed me was' (5ell, have you decided to acce!t the doctor(s advice@(
* gently but firmly re!lied' (* am willing to yield on all !oints e&ce!t one about which *
beg you not to !ress me. * will not ta#e mil#, mil#/!roducts or meat. *f not to ta#e
these things should mean my death, * feel * had better face it.(
(*s this your final decision@( as#ed Go#hlae.
(* am afraid * cannot decide otherwise,( said *. (* #now that my decision will !ain you,
but * beg your forgiveness.(
5ith a certain amount of !ain but with dee! affection, Go#hale said' (* do not a!!rove
of your decision. * do not see any religion in it. But * won(t !ress you any more.( 5ith
these words he turned to "r. $ivra, Mehta and said' (Please don(t worry him any more.
Prescribe anything you li#e within the limit he has set for himself.(
The doctor e&!ressed dissent, but was hel!less. )e advised me to ta#e mung sou!.,
with a dash of asafoetida in it. To this * agreed. * too# it for a day or two, but it
increased my !ain. 1s * did not find it suitable, * went bac# to fruits and nuts. The
doctor of course went on with his e&ternal treatment. The latter somewhat relieved
my !ain, but my restrictions were to him a sore handica!.
Meanwhile Go#hale left for home, as he could not stand the ctober fogs of 4ondon.
TREATMENT !% PE#RI$"
The !ersistence of the !leurisy caused some an&iety, but * #new that the cure lay not
in ta#ing medicine internally but in dietetic changes assisted by e&ternal remedies.
* called in "r. 1llinson of vegetarian fame, who treated diseases by dietetic
modifications and whom * had met in 9:<A. )e thoroughly overhauled me. * e&!lained
to him how * had !ledged myself not to ta#e mil#. )e cheered me u! and said' (=ou
need not ta#e mil#. *n fact * want you to do without any fat for some days.( )e then
advised me to live on !lain brown bread, raw vegetables such as beet, radish, onion
and other tubers and greens, and also fresh fruit, mainly oranges. The vegetables
were not to be coo#ed but merely grated fine, if * could not masticate them.
* ado!ted this for about three days, but raw vegetables did not 3uite suit me. My body
was not in a condition to enable me to do full ,ustice to the e&!eriment. * was
nervous about ta#ing raw vegetables.
"r. 1llinson also advised me to #ee! all the windows of my room o!en for the whole
twenty/four hours, bathe in te!id water, have an oil massage on the affected !arts
and a wal# in the o!en for fifteen to thirty minutes. * li#ed all these suggestions.
My room had 0rench windows which, if #e!t wide o!en, would let in the rain. The
fanlight could not be o!ened. * therefore got the glass bro#en, so as to let in fresh air,
and * !artially o!ened the windows in a manner not to let in rain.
1ll these measures somewhat im!roved my health, but did not com!letely cure me.
4ady -ecilia +oberts occasionally called on me. 5e became friends. She wanted very
much to !ersuade me to ta#e mil#. But as * was unyielding, she hunted about for a
substitute for mil#. Some friend suggested to her malted mil#, assuring her 3uite
un#nowingly that it was absolutely free from mil#, and that it was a chemical
!re!aration with all the !ro!erties of mil#. 4ady -ecilia, * #new, had a great regard
for my religious scru!les, and so * im!licitly trusted her. * dissolved the !owder in
water and too# it only to find that it tasted ,ust li#e mil#. * read the label on the
bottle, to find, only too late, that it was a !re!aration of mil#. So * gave it u!.
* informed 4ady -ecilia about the discovery, as#ing her not to worry over it. She came
!ost haste to me to say how sorry she was. )er friend had not read the label at all. *
begged her not to be an&ious and e&!ressed my regret that * could not avail myself of
the thing she had !rocured with so much trouble. * also assured her that * did not at
all feel u!set or guilty over having ta#en mil# under a misa!!rehension.
* must s#i! over many other sweet reminiscences of my contact with 4ady -ecilia. *
could thin# of many friends who have been a source of great comfort to me in the
midst of trials and disa!!ointments. ne who has faith reads in them the merciful
!rovidence of God, who thus sweetens sorrow itself.
"r. 1llinson, when he ne&t called, rela&ed his restrictions and !ermitted me to have
groundnut butter or olive oil for the sa#e of fat, and to ta#e the vegetables coo#ed, if
* chose, with rice. These changes were 3uite welcome, but they were far from giving
me a com!lete cure. .ery careful nursing was still necessary, and * was obliged to
#ee! mostly in bed.
"r. Mehta occasionally loo#ed in to e&amine me and held out a standing offer to cure
me if only * would listen to his advice.
5hilst things were going on in this way, Mr, +oberts one day came to see me and
urged me very strongly to go home. (=ou cannot !ossibly go to %etley in this condition.
There is still severer cold ahead of us. * would strongly advise you to get bac# to
*ndia, for it is only there that you can be com!letely cured. *f, after your recovery,
you should find the war still going on, you will have many o!!ortunities there of
rendering hel!. 1s it is, * do not regard what you have already done as by any means a
mean contribution.(
* acce!ted his advice and began to ma#e !re!arations for returning to *ndia.
H!ME,ARD
Mr. Kallenbach had accom!ained me to 6ngland with a view to going to *ndia. 5e
were staying together and of course wanted to sail by the same boat. Germans,
however, were under such strict surveillance that we had our doubts about Mr.
Kallenbach getting a !ass!ort. * did my best to get it, and Mr. +oberts, who was in
favour of his getting his !ass!ort, sent a cable to the .iceroy in this behalf. But
straight came 4ord )ardinge(s re!ly' (+egret Government of *ndia not !re!ared to ta#e
any such ris#.( 1ll of us understood the force of the re!ly.
*t was a great wrench for me to !art from Mr. Kallenbach, but * could see that his
!ang was greater. -ould he have come to *ndia, he would have been leading today the
sim!le ha!!y life of a farmer and weaver. %ow he is in South 1frica, leading his old
life and doing bris# business as an architect.
5e wanted a third class !assage, but as there was none available on P. and . boats,
we had to go second.
5e too# with us the dried fruit we had carried from South 1frica, as most of it would
not be !rocurable on the boat, where fresh fruit was easily available.
"r. $ivra, Mehta had bandaged my ribs with (Mede(s Plaster( and had as#ed me not to
remove it till we reached the +ed Sea. 0or two days * !ut u! with the discomfort, but
finally it became too much for me. *t was with considerable difficulty that * managed
to undo the !laster and regain the liberty of having a !ro!er wash and bath.
My diet consisted mostly of nuts and fruits. * found that * was im!roving every day and
felt very much better by the time we entered the Sue2 -anal. * was wea#, but felt
entirely out of danger, and * gradually went on increasing my e&ercise. The
im!rovement * attributed largely to the !ure air of the tem!erate 2one.
5hether it was due to !ast e&!erience or to any other reason, * do not #now, but the
#ind of distance * noticed between the 6nglish and *ndian !assengers on the boat was
something * had not observed even on my voyage from South 1frica. * did tal# to a few
6nglishmen, but the tal# was mostly formal. There were hardly any cordial
conversations such as had certainly ta#en !lace on the South 1frican boats. The
reason for this was, * thin#, to be found in the conscious or unconscious feeling at the
bac# of the 6nglishman(s mind that he belonged to the ruling race, and the feeling at
the bac# of the *ndian(s mind that he belonged to the sub,ect race.
* was eager to reach home and get free from this atmos!here.
n arriving at 1den we already began to feel somewhat at home. 5e #new the
1denwallas very well, having met Mr. Ke#obad Kavas,i "inshaw in "urban and come in
close contact with him and his wife.
1 few days more and we reached Bombay. *t was such a ,oy to get bac# to the
homeland after an e&ile of ten years.
Go#hale had ins!ired a rece!tion for me in Bombay, where he had come in s!ite of his
delicate health. * had a!!roached *ndia in the ardent ho!e of merging myself in him,
and thereby feeling free. But fate had willed it otherwise.
$!ME REMINI$CENCE$ !% THE BAR
Before coming to a narrative of the course my life too# in *ndia, it seems necessary to
recall a few of the South 1frican e&!eriences which * have deliberately left out.
Some lawyer friends have as#ed me to give my reminiscences of the bar. The number
of these is so large that, if * were to describe them all, they would occu!y a volume
by themselves and ta#e me out of my sco!e. But it may not !erha!s be im!ro!er to
recall some of those which bear u!on the !ractice of truth.
So far as * can recollect, * have already said that * never resorted to untruth in my
!rofession, and that a large !art of my legal !ractice was in the interest of !ublic
wor#, for which * charged nothing beyond out/of/!oc#et e&!enses, and these too *
sometimes met myself. * had thought that in saying this * had said all that was
necessary as regards my legal !ractice. But friends want me to do more. They seem to
thin# that, if * described however slightly, some of the occasions when * refused to
swerve from the truth, the legal !rofession might !rofit by it.
1s a student * had heard that the lawyer(s !rofession was a liar(s !rofession. But this
did not influence me, as * had no intention of earning either !osition or money by
lying.
My !rinci!le was !ut to the test many a time in South 1frica. ften * #new that my
o!!onents had tutored their witnesses, and if * only encouraged my client or his
witnesses to lie, we could win the case. But * always resisted the tem!tation. *
remember only one occasion when, after having won a case, * sus!ected that my
client had deceived me. *n my heart of hearts * always wished that * should win only if
my client(s case was right. *n fi&ing my fees * do not recall ever having made them
conditional on my winning the case. 5hether my client won or lost, * e&!ected
nothing more nor less than my fees.
* warned every new client at the outset that he should not e&!ect me to ta#e u! a
false case or to coach the witnesses, with the result that * built u! such a re!utation
that no false cases used to come to me. *ndeed some of my clients would #ee! their
clean cases for me, and ta#e the doubtful ones elsewhere.
There was one case which !roved a severe trial. *t was brought to me by one of my
best clients. *t was a case of highly com!licated accounts and had been a !rolonged
one. *t had been heard in !arts before several courts. Ultimately the boo#/#ee!ing
!ortion of it was entrusted by the court to the arbitration of some 3ualified
accountants. The award was entirely in favour of my client, but the arbitrators had
inadvertently committed an error in calculation which, however small, was serious,
inasmuch as an entry which ought to have been on the debit side was made on the
credit side. The o!!onents had o!!osed the award on other grounds. * was ,unior
counsel for my client. 5hen the senior counsel became aware of the error, he was of
o!inion that our client was not bound to admit it. )e was clearly of o!inion that no
counsel was bound to admit anything that went against his client(s interest. * said we
ought to admit the error.
But the senior counsel contended' (*n that case there is every li#elihood of the court
cancelling the whole award, and no sane counsel would im!eril his client(s case to
that e&tent. 1t any rate * would be the last man to ta#e any such ris#. *f the case
were to be sent u! for a fresh hearing, one could never tell what e&!enses our client
might have to incur, and what the ultimate result might beB(
The client was !resent when this conversation too# !lace.
* said ' (* feel that both our client and we ought to run the ris#. 5here is the certainty
of the court u!holding a wrong award sim!ly because we do not admit the error@ 1nd
su!!osing the admission were to bring the client to grief, what harm is there@(
(But why should we ma#e the admission at all@( said the senior counsel.
(5here is the surety of the court not detecting the error or our o!!onent not
discovering it@( said *.
(5ell then, will you argue the case@ * am not !re!ared to argue it on your terms,(
re!lied the senior counsel with decision.
* humbly answered' (*f you will not argue, then * am !re!ared to do so, if our client so
desires. * shall have nothing to do with the case if the error is not admitted.(
5ith this * loo#ed at my client. )e was a little embarrassed. * had been in the case
from the very first. The client fully trusted me, and #new me through and through. )e
said' (5ell, then, you will argue the case and admit the error. 4et us lose, if that is to
be our lot. God defend the right.(
* was delighted. * had e&!ected nothing less from him. The senior counsel again
warned me, !itied me for my obduracy, but congratulated me all the same. 5hat
ha!!ened in the court we shall see in the ne&t cha!ter.
$HARP PRACTICE-
* had no doubt about the soundness of my advice, but * doubted very much my fitness
for doing full ,ustice to the case. * felt it would be a most ha2ardous underta#ing to
argue such a difficult case before the Su!reme -ourt, and * a!!eared before the
Bench in fear and trembling.
1s soon as * referred to the error in the accounts, one of the ,udges said'
(*s not this shar! !ractice, Mr. Gandhi@(
* boiled within to hear this charge. *t was intolerable to be accused of shar! !ractice
when there was not the slightest warrant for it.
(5ith a ,udge !re,udiced from the start li#e this, there is little chance of success in
this difficult case,( * said to myself. But * com!osed my thoughts and answered'
(* am sur!rised that your 4ordshi! should sus!ect shar! !ractice without hearing me
out.(
(%o 3uestion of a charge,( said the ,udge. (*t is a mere suggestion.(
(The suggestion here seems to me to amount to a charge. * would as# your 4ordshi! to
hear me out and then arraign me if there is any occasion for it.(
(* am sorry to have interru!ted you,( re!lied the ,udge. (Pray do go on with your
e&!lanation of the discre!ancy.(
* had enough material in su!!ort of my e&!lanation. Than#s to the ,udge having raised
this 3uestion, * was able to rivet the -ourt(s attention on my argument from the very
start. * felt much encouraged and too# the o!!ortunity of entering into a detailed
e&!lanation. The -ourt gave me a !atient hearing, and * was able to convince the
,udges that the discre!ancy was due entirely to inadvertence. They therefore did not
feel dis!osed to cancel the whole award, which had involved considerable labour.
The o!!osing counsel seemed to feel secure in the belief that not much argument
would be needed after the error had been admitted. But the ,udges continued to
interru!t him, as they were convinced that the error was a sli! which could be easily
rectified. The counsel laboured hard to attac# the award, but the ,udge who had
originally started with the sus!icion had now come round definitely to my side.
(Su!!osing Mr. Gandhi had not admitted the error, what would you have done@( he
as#ed.
(*t was im!ossible for us to secure the services of a more com!etent and honest
e&!ert accountant than the one a!!ointed by us.(
(The -ourt must !resume that you #now your case best. *f you cannot !oint out
anything beyond the sli! which any e&!ert accountant is liable to commit, the -ourt
will be loath to com!el the !arties to go in for fresh litigation and fresh e&!enses
because of a !atent mista#e. 5e may not order a fresh hearing when such an error
can be easily corrected continued the ,udge.
1nd so the counsel(s ob,ection was overruled. The -ourt either confirmed the award,
with the error rectified, or ordered the arbitrator to rectify the error, * forget which.
* was delighted. So were my client and senior counselC and * was confirmed in my
conviction that it was not im!ossible to !ractise law without com!romising truth.
4et the reader, however, remember that even truthfulness in the !ractice of the
!rofession cannot cure it of the fundamental defect that vitiates it.
CIENT$ T#RNED C!-,!RKER$
The distinction between the legal !ractice in %atal and that in the Transvaal was that
in %atal there was a ,oint barC a barrister, whilst he was admitted to the ran# of
advocate, could also !ractise as an attorneyC whereas in the Transvaal, as in Bombay,
the s!heres of attorneys and advocates were distinct. 1 barrister had the right of
election whether he would !ractise as an advocate or as an attorney. So whilst in
%atal * was admitted as an advocate, in the Transvaal * sought admission as an
attorney. 0or as an advocate * could not have come in direct contact with the *ndians
and the white attorneys in South 1frica would not have briefed me.
But even in the Transvaal it was o!en to attorneys to a!!ear before magistrates. n
one occasion, whilst * was conducting a case before a magistrate in $ohannesburg, *
discovered that my client had deceived me. * saw him com!letely brea# down in the
witness bo&. So without any argument * as#ed the magistrate to dismiss the case. The
o!!osing counsel was astonished, and the magistrate was !leased. * rebu#ed my client
for bringing a false case to me. )e #new that * never acce!ted false cases, and when *
brought the thing home to him, he admitted his mista#e, and * have an im!ression
that he was not angry with me for having as#ed the magistrate to decide against him.
1t any rate my conduct in this case did not affect my !ractice for the worse, indeed it
made my wor# easier. * also saw that my devotion to truth enhanced my re!utation
amongst the members of the !rofession, and in s!ite of the handica! of colour * was
able in some cases to win even their affection.
"uring my !rofessional wor# it was also my habit never to conceal my ignorance from
my clients or my colleagues. 5herever * felt myself at sea, * would advise my client to
consult some other counsel, or if he !referred to stic# to me, * would as# him to let
me see# the assistance of senior counsel. This fran#ness earned me the unbounded
affection and trust of my clients. They were always willing to !ay the fee whenever
consultation with senior counsel was necessary. This affection and trust served me in
good stead in my !ublic wor#.
* have indicated in the foregoing cha!ters that my ob,ect in !ractising in South 1frica
was service of the community. 6ven for this !ur!ose, winning the confidence of the
!eo!le was an indis!ensable condition. The large hearted *ndian magnified into
service !rofessional wor# done for money, and when * advised them to suffer the
hardshi!s of im!risonment for the sa#e of their rights, many of them cheerfully
acce!ted the advice, not so much because they had reasoned out the correctness of
the course, as because of their confidence in, and affection for, me.
1s * write this, many a sweet reminiscence comes to my mind. )undreds of clients
became friends and real co/wor#ers in !ublic service, and their association sweetened
a life that was otherwise full of difficulties and dangers.
H!, A CIENT ,A$ $A(ED
The reader, by now, will be 3uite familiar with Parsi +ustom,i(s name. )e was one who
became at once my client and co/wor#er, or !erha!s it would be truer to say that he
first became co/wor#er and then client. * won his confidence to such an e&tent that
he sought and followed my advice also in !rivate domestic matters. 6ven when he was
ill, he would see# my aid, and though there was much difference between our ways of
living, he did not hesitate to acce!t my 3uac# treatment.
This friend once got into a very bad scra!e. Though he #e!t me informed of most of
his affairs, he had studiously #e!t bac# one thing. )e was a large im!orter of goods
from Bombay and -alcutta, and not infre3uently he resorted to smuggling. But as he
was on the best terms with customs officials, no one was inclined to sus!ect him. *n
charging duty, they used to ta#e his invoices on trust. Some might even have connived
at the smuggling.
But to use the telling simile of the Gu,arati !oet 1#ho, theft li#e 3uic#silver won(t be
su!!ressed, and Parsi +ustom,i(s !roved no e&ce!tion. The good friend ran !ost haste
to me, the tears rolling down his chee#s as he said' (Bhai, * have deceived you. My
guilt has been discovered today. * have smuggled and * am doomed. * must go to ,ail
and be ruined. =ou alone may be able to save me from this !redicament. * have #e!t
bac# nothing else from you, but * thought * ought not to bother you with such tric#s of
the trade, and so * never told you about this smuggling. But now, how much * re!ent
itB(
* calmed him and said' (To save or not to save you is in )is hands. 1s to me you #now
my way. * can but try to save you by means of confession.(
The good Parsi felt dee!ly mortified.
(But is not my confession before you enough@( he as#ed.
(=ou have wronged not me but Government. )ow will the confession made before me
avail you@( * re!lied gently.
(f course * will do ,ust as you advise, but will you not consult with my old counsel
Mr.///@ )e is a friend too,( said Parsi +ustom,i.
*n3uiry revealed that the smuggling had been going on for a long time, but the actual
offence detected involved a trifling sum. 5e went to his counsel. )e !erused the
!a!ers, and said' (The case will be tried by a ,ury, and a %atal ,ury will be the last to
ac3uit an *ndian. But * will not give u! ho!e.(
* did not #now this counsel intimately. Parsi +ustom,i interce!ted' (* than# you, but *
should li#e to be guided by Mr. Gandhi(s advice in this case. )e #nows me intimately.
f course you will advise him whenever necessary.(
)aving thus shelved the counsel(s 3uestion, we went to Parsi +ustom,i(s sho!.
1nd now e&!laining my view * said to him' (* don(t thin# this case should be ta#en to
court at all. *t rests with the -ustoms fficer to !rosecute you or to let you go, and
he in turn will have to be guided by the 1ttorney General. * am !re!ared to meet
both. * !ro!ose that you should offer to !ay the !enalty that fi&, and the odds are
that they will be agreeable. But if they are not, you must be !re!ared to go to ,ail. *
am of o!inion that the shame lies not so much in going to ,ail as in committing the
offence. The deed of shame has already been done. *m!risonment you should regard
as a !enance. The real !enance lies in resolving never to smuggle again.(
* cannot say that Parsi +ustom,i too# all this 3uite well. )e was a brave man, but his
courage failed him for the moment. )is name and fame were at sta#e, and where
would he be if the edifice he had reared with such care and labour should go to
!ieces@
(5ell, * have told you,( he said, (that * am entirely in your hands. =ou may do ,ust as
you li#e.(
* brought to bear on this case all my !owers of !ersuasion. * met the -ustoms fficer
and fearlessly a!!rised him of the whole affair. * also !romised to !lace all the boo#s
at his dis!osal and told him how !enitent Parsi +ustom,i was feeling
The -ustoms fficer said' (* li#e the old Parsi. * am sorry he has made a fool of
himself. =ou #now where my duty lies. * must be guided by the 1ttorney General and
so * would advise you to use all your !ersuasion with him.(
(* shall be than#ful,( said *, (if you do not insist on dragging him into court.(
)aving got him to !romise this, * entered into corres!ondence with the 1ttorney
General and also met him. * am glad to say that he a!!reciated my com!lete
fran#ness and was convinced that * had #e!t bac# nothing.
* now forget whether it was in connection with this or with some other case that my
!ersistence and fran#ness e&torted from him the remar#' (* see you will never ta#e a
no for an answer.(
The case against Parsi +ustom,i was com!romised.)e was to !ay a !enalty e3ual to
twice the amount he had confessed to having smuggled. +ustom,i reduced to writing
the facts of the whole case, got the !a!er framed and hung it u! in his office to serve
as a !er!etual reminder to his heirs and fellow merchants.
These friends +ustom,i warned me not to be ta#en in by this transitory contrition.
5hen * told +ustom,i about this warning he said' (5hat would be my fate if * deceived
you@(
THE %IR$T E)PERIENCE
Before * reached home, the !arty which had started from Phoeni& had already arrived.
1ccording to our original !lan * was to have !receded them, but my !reoccu!ation in
6ngland with the war had u!set all our calculations, and when * saw that * had to be
detained in 6ngland indefinitely, * was faced with the 3uestion of finding them all to
stay together the Phoeni& !arty. * wanted them all to stay together in *ndia, if
!ossible, and to live the life they had led at Phoeni&. * did not #now of any 1shram to
which * could recommend them to go, and therefore cabled to them to meet Mr.
1ndrews and do as he advised.
So they were first !ut in the Guru#ul, Kangri, where the late Swami Shraddhanand,i
treated them as his own children. 1fter this they were !ut in the Shantini#etan
1shram, where the Poet and his !eo!le showered similar love u!on them. The
e&!eriences they gathered at both these !laces too stood them and me in good stead.
The Poet, Shraddhanand,i and Princi!al Sushil +udra, as * used to say to 1ndrews,
com!osed his trinity. 5hen in South 1frica he was never tired of s!ea#ing of them,
and of my many sweet memories of South 1frica, Mr. 1ndrews( tal#s, day in and day
out, of this great trinity, are amongst the sweetest and most vivid. Mr. 1ndrews
naturally !ut the Phoeni& !arty in touch also with Sushil +udra. Princi!al +udra had no
1shram, but he had a home which he !laced com!letely at the dis!osal of the Phoeni&
family. 5ithin a day of their arrival, his !eo!le made them deal so thoroughly at home
that they did not seem to miss Phoeni& at all.
*t was only when * landed in Bombay that * learnt that the Phoeni& !arty was at
Shantini#etan. * was therefore im!atient to meet them as soon as * could after my
meeting with Go#hale.
The rece!tions in Bombay gave me an occasion for offering what might be called a
little Satyagraha.
1t the !arty given in my honour at Mr. $ehangir Petit(s !lace, * did not dare to s!ea# in
Gu,arati. *n those !alatial surroundings of da22ling s!lendour *, who had lived my best
life among indentured labourers, felt myself a com!lete rustic. 5ith my Kathiawadi
cloa#, turban and dhoti, * loo#ed somewhat more civili2ed than * do today, but the
!om! and s!lendour of Mr. Petit(s mansion made me feel absolutely out of my
element. )owever, * ac3uitted myself tolerably well, having ta#en shelter under Sir
Phero2eshah(s !rotecting wing.
Then there was the Gu,arati function. The Gu,aratis would not let me go without a
rece!tion, which was organi2ed by the late Uttamlal Trivedi. * had ac3uainted myself
with the !rogramme beforehand. Mr. $innah was !resent, being a Gu,arati, * forget
whether as !resident or as the !rinci!al s!ea#er. )e made a short and sweet little
s!eech in 6nglish. 1s far as * remember most of the other s!eeches were also in
6nglish. 5hen my turn came, * e&!ressed my than#s in Gu,arati e&!laining my
!artiality for Gu,arati and )industani, and entering my humble !rotest against the use
of 6nglish in a Gu,arati gathering. This * did, not without some hesitation, for * was
afraid lest it should be considered discourteous for an ine&!erienced man, returned
home after a long e&ile, to enter his !rotest against established !ractices. But no one
seemed to misunderstand my insistence on re!lying in Gu,arati. *n fact * was glad to
note that everyone seemed reconciled to my !rotest.
The meeting thus emboldened me to thin# that * should not find it difficult to !lace
my new/fangled notions before my countrymen.
1fter a brief stay in Bombay, full of these !reliminary e&!eriences, * went to Poona
whither Go#hale had summoned me
,ITH G!KHAE IN P!!NA
The moment * reached Bombay Go#hale sent me word that the Governor was desirous
of seeing me, and that it might be !ro!er for me to res!ond before * left for Poona.
1ccordingly * called on )is 6&cellency. 1fter the usual in3uiries, he said'
(* as# one thing of you. * would li#e you to come and see me whenever you !ro!ose to
ta#e any ste!s concerning Government.(
* re!lied'
(* can very easily give the !romise, inasmuch as it is my rule, as a Satyagrahi, to
understand the view!oint of the !arty * !ro!ose to deal with, and to try to agree with
him as far as may be !ossible. * strictly observed the rule in South 1frica and * mean
to do the same here.(
4ord 5illingdon than#ed me and said'
(=ou may come to me whenever you li#e, and you will see that my Government do not
wilfully do anything wrong.(
To which * re!lied' (*t is that faith which sustains me.(
1fter this * went to Poona. *t is im!ossible for me to set down all the reminiscences of
this !recious time. Go#hale and the members of the Servants of *ndia Society
overwhelmed me with affection. So far as * recollect, Go#hale had summoned all of
them to meet me. * had a fran# tal# with them all on every sort of sub,ect.
Go#hale was very #een that * should ,oin the Society and so was *. But the members
felt that, as there was a great difference between my ideals and methods of wor# and
theirs, it might not be !ro!er for me to ,oin the Society. Go#hale believed that, in
s!ite of my insistence on my own !rinci!les, * was e3ually ready and able to tolerate
theirs.
(But,( he said, (the members of the Society have not yet undersrtood your readiness for
com!romise. They are tenacious of their !rinci!les, and 3uite inde!endent. * am
ho!ing that they will acce!t you, but if they don(t you will not for a moment thin#
that they are lac#ing in res!ect or love for you. They are hesitating to ta#e any ris#
lest their high regard for you should be ,eo!ardi2ed. But whether you are formally
admitted as a member or not, * am going to loo# u!on you as one.(
* informed Go#hale of my intentions. 5hether * was admitted as a member or not, *
wanted to have an 1shram where * could settle down with my Phoeni& family,
!referably somewhere in Gu,arat, as, being a Gu,arati, * thought * was best fitted to
serve the country through serving Gu,arat. Go#hale li#ed the idea. )e said' (=ou
should certainly do so. 5hatever may be the result of your tal#s with the members,
you must loo# to me for the e&!enses of the 1shram, which * will regard as my own.(
My heart overflowed with ,oy. *t was a !leasure to feel free from the res!onsibility of
raising funds, and to reali2e that * should not be obliged to set about the wor# all on
my own, but that * should be able to count on a sure guide whenever * was in
difficulty. This too# a great load off my mind.
So the late "r. "ev was summoned and told to o!en an account for me in the Society(s
boo#s and to give me whatever * might re3uire for the 1shram and for !ublic
e&!enses.
* now !re!ared to go to Shantini#etan. n the eve of my de!arture Go#hale arranged
a !arty of selected friends, ta#ing good care to order refreshments of my li#ing, i.e.,
fruits and nuts. The !arty was held ,ust a few !aces from his room, and yet he was
hardly in a condition to wal# across and attend it. But his affection for me got the
better of him and he insisted on coming. )e came, but fainted and had to be carried
away. Such fainting was not a new thing with him and so when he came to, he sent
word that we must go on with the !arty.
This !arty was of course no more than a conversa2ione in the o!en s!ace o!!osite the
Society(s guesthouse, during which friends had heart/to/heart chats over light
refreshments of groundnuts, dates and fresh fruits of the season.
But the fainting fit was to be no common event in my life.
,A$ IT A THREAT -
0rom Poona * went to +a,#ot and Porbandar, where * had to meet my brother(s widow
and other relatives.
"uring the Satyagraha in South 1frica * had altered my style of dress so as to ma#e it
more in #ee!ing with that of the indentured labourers, and in 6ngland also * had
adhered to the same style for indoor use. 0or landing in Bombay * had a Kathiawadi
suit of clothes consisting of a shirt, a dhoti, a cloa# and a white scarf, all made of
*ndian mill cloth. But as * was to travel third from Bombay, * regarded the scarf and
the cloa# as too much of an incumbrance, so * shed them, and invested in an eight/to/
ten/annas Kashmiri ca!. ne dressed in that fashion was sure to !ass muster as a !oor
man.
n account of the !lague !revailing at that time third class !assengers were being
medically ins!ected at .iramgam or 5adhwan * forget which. * had slight fever. The
ins!ector on finding that * had a tem!erature as#ed me to re!ort myself to the
Medical fficer at +a,#ot and noted down my name.
Someone had !erha!s sent the information that * was !assing through 5adhwan, for
the tailor Motilal, a noted !ublic wor#er of the !lace, met me at the station. )e told
me about the .iramgam customs, and the hardshi!s railway !assengers had to suffer
on account of it. * had little inclination to tal# bacause of my fever, and tried to finish
with a brief re!ly which too# the form of a 3uestion'
(1re you !re!ared to go to ,ail@(
* had ta#en Motilal to be one of those im!etuous youths who do not thin# before
s!ea#ing. But not so Motilal. )e re!lied with firm deliberation'
(5e will certainly go to ,ail, !rovided you lead us. 1s #athiawadis, we have the first
right on you. f course we do not mean to detain you now, but you must !romise to
halt here on your return. =ou will be delighted to see the wor# and the s!irit of our
youths, and you may trust us to res!ond as soon as you summon us.(
Motilal ca!tivated me. )is comrade eulogi2ing him, said'
(ur friend is but a tailor. But he is such a master of his !rofession that he easily earns
+s. 9G a month which is ,ust what he needs wor#ing an hour a day, and gives the rest
of his time to !ublic wor#. )e leads us all, !utting our education to shame.
4ater * came in close contact with Motilal, and * saw that there was no e&aggeration
in the eulogy. )e made a !oint of s!ending some days in the then newly started
1shram every month to teach the children tailoring and to do some of the tailoring of
the 1shram himself. )e would tal# to me every day of .iramgam, and the hardshi!s of
the !assengers, which had become absolutely unbearable for him. )e was cut off in
the !rime of youth by a sudden illness, and !ublic life at 5adhwan suffered without
him.
n reaching +a,#ot, * re!orted myself to the Medical officer the ne&t morning. * was
not un#nown there. The "octor felt ashamed and was angry with the ins!ector. This
was unnecessary, for the ins!ector had only done his duty. )e did not #now me, and
even if he had #nown me, he should done have otherwise. The Medical fficer would
not let me go to him again insisted on sending an ins!ector to me instead.
*ns!ection of third class !assangers for sanitary reasons is essential on such occasions.
*f big men choose to travel third, whatever their !osition in life, they must voluntarily
submit themselves to all the regulations that the !oor are sub,ect to, and the officials
ought to be im!artial. My e&!erience is that the officials, instead of loo#ing u!on
third class !assengers as fellowmen, regard them as so many shee!. They tal# to them
contem!tuously, and broo# no re!ly or argument. The third class !assenger has to
obey the official as though he were his servant, and the letter may with im!unity
belabour and blac#mail him, and boo# him his tic#et only !utting him to the greatest
!ossible inconvenience, including often missing the train. 1ll this * have seen with my
own eyes. %o reform is !ossible unless some of the educated and the rich voluntarily
acce!t the status of the !oor, travel third, refuse to en,oy the amenities denied to
the !oor and, instead of ta#ing avoidable hardshi!s, discourtesies and in,ustice as a
matter of course, fight for their removal.
5herever * went in Kathiawad * heard com!laints about the .iramgam customs
hardshi!s. * therefore decided immediately to ma#e use of 4ord 5illingdon(s offer. *
collected and read all the literature available on the sub,ect, convinced myself that
the com!laints were well founded, and o!ened corres!ondence with the Bombay
Government. * called on the Private Secretary to 4ord 5illingdon and waited on )is
6&cellency also. The latter e&!ressed his sym!athy but shifted the blame on "elhi. (*f
it had been in our hands, we should have removed the cordon long ago. =ou should
a!!roach the Government of *ndia,( said the secretary.
* communicated with the Government of *ndia, but got no re!ly beyond an
ac#nowledgment. *t was only when * had an occasion to meet 4ord -helmsford later
that redress could be had. 5hen * !laced the facts before him, he e&!ressed his
astonishment. )e had #nown nothing of the matter. )e gave me a !atient hearing,
tele!honed that very moment for !a!ers about .iramgam, and !romised to remove
the cordon if the authorities had no e&!lanation or defence to offer. 5ithin a few
days of this interview * read in the !a!ers that the .iramgam customs cordon had
been removed.
* regarded this event as the advent of Satyagraha in *ndia. 0or during my interview
with the Bombay Government the Secretary had e&!ressed his disa!!roval of a
reference to Satyagraha in a s!eech which * had delivered in Bagasra >in Kathiawad?.
(*s not this a threat@( he had as#ed. (1nd do you thin# a !owerful Government will yield
to threats@(
(This was no threat(, * had re!lied. (*t was educating the !eo!le. *t is my duty to !lace
before the !eo!le all the legitimate remedies for grievances. 1 nation that wants to
come into its own ought to #now all the ways and means to freedom. Usually they
include violence as the last remedy. Satyagraha, on the other hand, is an absolutely
non/ violent wea!on. * regard it as my duty to e&!lain its !ractice and its limitations. *
have no doubt that the British Government is a !owerful Government, but * have no
doubt also that Satyagraha is a sovereign remedy.(
The clever Secretary sce!tically nodded his head and said' (5e shall see.(
$HANTINIKETAN
0rom +a,#ot * !roceeded to Shantini#etan. The teachers and students overwhelmed
me with affection. The rece!tion was a beautiful combination of sim!licity, art and
love. *t was here * met Ka#asaheb Kalel#ar for the first time.
* did not #now then why Kalel#ar was called (Ka#asaheb(. But * learnt later on that S,t.
Keshavrao "esh!ande, who was a contem!orary and a close friend of mine in 6ngland,
and who had conducted a school in the Baroda State called (Ganganath .idyalaya(, had
given the teachers family names with a view to investing the .idyalaya with a family
atmos!here. S,t. Kalel#ar who was a teacher there came to be called, (Ka#a( >lit.
!aternal uncle?. Phad#e was called (Mama( >lit. maternal uncle?, and )arihar Sharma
received the name (1nna( >lit. brother?. thers also got similar names. 1nandanand
>Swami? as Ka#a(s friend and Patwardhan >1!!a? as Mama(s friend later ,oined the
family, and all in course of time became my co/wor#ers one after another. S,t.
"esh!ande himself used to be called (Saheb(. 5hen the .idyalaya had to be dissolved,
the family also bro#e u!, but they never gave u! their s!iritual relationshi! or their
assumed names.
Ka#asaheb went out to gain e&!erience of different institutions, and at the time *
went to Shantini#etan, he ha!!ened to be there. -hintaman Shastri, belonging to the
same fraternity, was there also. Both hel!ed in teaching Sams#rit.
The Phoeni& family had been assigned se!arate 3uarters at Shantini#etan. Maganlal
Gandhi was at their head, and he had made it his business to see that all the rules of
the Phoeni& 1shram should be scru!ulously observed. * saw that, by dint his fragrance
felt in the whole of Shantini#etan.
1ndrews was there, and also Pearson. 1mongst the Bengali teachers with whom we
came in fairly close contact were $agadanandbabu, %e!albabu, Santoshbabu,
Kshitimohanbabu, %agenbabu, Sharadbabu and Kalibabu.
1s is my wont, * 3uic#ly mi&ed with the teachers and students, and engaged them in a
discussion on self/hel!. * !ut it to the teachers that, if they and the boys dis!ensed
with the services of !aid coo#s and coo#ed their food themselves, it would enable the
teachers to control the #itchen from the !oint of view of the boy(s !hysical and moral
health, and it would afford to the students an ob,ect/lesson in self/hel!. ne or two
of them were inclined to sha#e their heads. Some of them strongly a!!roved of the
!ro!osal. The boys welcomed it, if only because of their instinctive taste for novelty.
So we launched the e&!eriment. 5hen * invited the Poet to e&!ress his o!inion, he
said that he did not mind it !rovided the teachers were favourable. To the boys he
said, (The e&!eriment contains the #ey to Swara,.(
Pearson began to wear away his body in ma#ing the e&!eriment a success. )e threw
himself into it with 2est. 1 batch was formed to cut vegetables, another to clean the
grain, and so on. %agenbabu and others undertoo# to see to the sanitary cleaning of
the #itchen and its surroundings. *t was a delight to me to see them wor#ing s!ade in
hand.
But it was too much to e&!ect the hundred and twenty/five boys with their teachers
to ta#e to this wor# of !hysical labour li#e duc#s to water. There used to be daily
discussion. Some began early to show fatigue. But Pearson was not the man to be
tired. ne would always find him with his smiling face doing something or other in or
about the #itchen. )e had ta#en u!on himself the cleaning of the bigger utensils. 1
!arty of students !layed on their sitar before this cleaning !arty in order to beguile
the tedium of the o!eration. 1ll ali#e too# the thing u! with 2est and Shantini#etan
became a busy hive.
-hanges li#e these when once begun always develo!. %ot only was the Phoeni& !arty(s
#itchen self/conducted, but the food coo#ed in it was of the sim!lest. -ondiments
were eschewed. +ice, dal, vegetables and even wheat flour were all coo#ed at one
and the same time in a #itchen with a view to introducing reform in the Bengali
#itchen. ne or two teachers and some students ran this #itchen.
The e&!eriment was, however, dro!!ed after some time. * am o!inion that the famous
institution lost nothing by having conducted the e&!eriment for a brief interval, and
some of the e&!eriences gained could not but be of hel! to the teachers.
* had intended to stay at Shantini#etan for some time but fate willed otherwise. * had
hardly been there a wee# when * received from Poona a telegram announcing
Go#hale(s death. Shantini#etan was immersed in grief. 1ll the members came over to
me to e&!ress their condolences. 1 s!ecial meeting was called in the 1shram tem!le
to mourn the national loss. *t was a solemn function. The same day * left for Poona
with my wife and Maganlal. 1ll the rest stayed at Shantini#etan.
1ndrews accom!anied me u! to Burdwan. ("o you thin#,( he as#ed me, (that a time
will come for Satyagraha in *ndia@ 1nd if so, have you any idea when it will come@(
(*t is difficult to say,( said *. (0or one year * am to do nothing. 0or Go#hale too# from
me a !romise that * should travel in *ndia for gaining e&!erience, and e&!ress no
o!inion on !ublic 3uestion until * have finished the !eriod of !robation. 6ven after the
year is over, * will be in no hurry to s!ea# and !ronounce o!inions. 1nd so * do not
su!!ose there will be any occasion for Satyagraha for five years or so.(
* m