Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

"Mahatma Gandhiji's first visit to Mangaluru on this day 95 years ago: (19-08-1920)"

As a part of his tour through the Madras Presidency for the cause of Khilafat and Non-Co-operation Movements, Gandhi visited Mangalore by train on 19th August, 1920. He was accompanied by Maulana Shaukath Ali.This was his first visit to South Canara: Kasargod and Mangalore (then South Canara was a part of Madras Presidency. And this was also his fourth visit to Kannada Province (Kannada speaking areas or linguistically organised as Karnataka). It was during this tour of 1920 Gandhi was seen wearing a white Khadi Cap (that came to be known as Gandhi Cap), white kurta and dhoti. He was known for his simplicity.

     Gandhi was welcomed to South Kanara District and Kannada Province at Kasargod(then a Taluk of South Canara). En route to Mangalore, Gandhi’s train halted for few minutes in Kasargod station between Calicut and Mangalore.The people of Kasargod Taluk presented a fine address to Gandhi and Shaukat Ali. This was followed by a small speech(message) by Gandhi and the people made their contributions to the Swaraj and Khilafat Funds.

     In Mangalore,as the train reached the station, the crowd started shouting victory slogans: “Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai, Moulana Shaukath Ali ki Jai". Gandhi and Shaukat Ali were welcomed at the railway station by 'Deshabhakta' Karnad Sadashiva Rao, Abdulla Saheb (President of the Reception Committee), M.Madhava Rao, Puttur Hussain Sahib, D. M. Janab Jamaluddin Saheb and other leading personalities of the region along with Congress and Khilafat volunteers. Mahatma Gandhi and Shaukath Ali were taken in a procession from the Station through Hampankatta, CarStreet, Golikatta Bazar and Bunder. Large number of people from Mangalore and adjoining areas/ villages along with enthusiasts from Puttur, Bantwal, Mulki, Udupi, Karkal, Kundapur and Bhatkal had assembled to have a glimpse of Gandhi and Ali. Both leaders were garlanded at many places. As the procession reached Bunder there was a small meeting of the leaders and workers. In the evening there was a Public Meeting at the 'Central Maidan' (ground) where Gandhiji spoke on Non-Co-operation. He explained the principles of the non-co-operation movement and called on the people to give their fervent support. The people at the gathering generously contributed to the Swaraj Fund and Khilafat Fund.

     Later, Gandhi also answered the questions put by the local leaders and workers in another meeting to clear their doubts. Gandhi spoke on the possibility and feasibility of the concept of Non-Cooperation. One could feel the stress given by Gandhi for the National unity. The Gujarati Community of Mangalore also actively cooperated to make Gandhi's programme in Mangalore a successful one. They were hosts to Gandhi and Ali. Gandhiji and his party left for Salem by train on 20th morning.
     The guidance given by Gandhiji proved very inspiring and motivating to the people who would later work to reach out to every corner of South Kanara and the adjoining districts to convey the message of Gandhi. In 1920 Karnad Sadashiva Rao participated in the special session of the Calcutta Congress. Karnad Sadashiva Rao toured all over Karnataka for the cause of non-co-operation movement. Kasargod, Puttur, Bantwal, Mangalore, Mulki, Udupi, Kundapur and Karkal emerged as active centres of Freedom Movement.

Speech made by Mahatma Gandhi on 'Non-co-operation' during his first visit to Mangalore (19-08-1920)

“Mr. Chairman and friends,
“To my brother Shaukat Ali and me it was a pleasure to go to this beautiful garden of India. The great reception that you gave us this afternoon, and this great assembly are most welcome to us, if they area demonstration of your sympathy with the cause which you have the honour to represent. I assure you that we have not undertaken this incessant travelling in order to have receptions and addresses,no matter how cordial they may be. But we have undertaken this travelling throughout the length and breadth of this dear motherland to place before you the position that faces us today. It is our privilege, as it is our duty, to place that position before the country and let her make the choice.

     “Throughout our tour we have received many addresses, but in my humble opinion no address was more truly worded than the address that was presented to us at Kasargod. It addressed both of us as“dear revered brothers”. I am unable to accept the second adjective 'revered'. The word “dear” is dear to me I must confess. But dearer than that is the expression“brothers”. The signatories to that address recognized the true significance of this travel. No blood-brothers can possibly be more intimately related, can possibly be more united in one purpose, one aim than my brother Shaukat Ali and I. And I considered it a proud privilege and honour to be addressed as blood-brother to Shaukat Ali. The contents of that address were as equally significant. It stated that in our united work was represented the essence of the unity between the Mussulmans and Hindus in India. If we two cannot represent that very desirable unity, if we two cannot cement the relation between the two communities, I do not know who can. Then without any rhetoric and without any flowery language the address went on to describe the inwardness of the Punjab and the khilafat struggle; and then in simple and beautiful language it described the spiritual significance of satyagraha and non co-operation. This was followed by a frank and simple promise. Although the signatories to the address realized the momentous nature of the struggle on which we have embarked, and although they sympathize with the struggle with their whole heart, they wound up by saying that even if they could not follow non-co-operation in all its details, they would do as much as they could to help the struggle. And lastly,in eloquent, and true language, they said, “if we cannot rise equal to the occasion it will not be due to want of effort but to want of ability”. I can desire no better address, no better promise, and if you, the citizens of Mangalore, can come up to the level of the signatories, and give us just the assurance that you consider the struggle to be right and that it commands your entire approval, I am certain you will make all sacrifice that lies in your power. For we are face to face with a peril greater than plagues, greater than influenza,greater than earthquakes and mighty floods, which sometimes overwhelm this land. These physical calamities can rob us of so many Indian bodies. But the calamity that has at the present moment overtaken India touches the religious honour of a fourth of her children and the self-respect of the whole nation. The khilafat wrong affects the Mussulmans of India, and the Punjab calamity very nearly overwhelms the manhood of India. Shall we in the face of this danger be weak or rise to our full height? The remedy for both the wrongs is the spiritual solvent of non-co-operation. I call it a spiritual weapon, because it demands discipline and sacrifice from us. It demands sacrifice from every individual irrespective of the rest. And the promise that is behind this performance of duty, the promise given by every religion that I have studied, is sure and certain. It is that there is no spotless sacrifice that has been yet offered on earth, which has not carried with it its absolute adequate reward. It is a spiritual weapon, because it waits for no mandate from anybody except one’s own conscience. It is a spiritual weapon because it brings out the best in the nation and it absolutely satisfies national honour if the whole nation takes it up. And therefore it is that I have called noncooperation—in opposition to the opinion of many of my distinguished countrymen and leaders—a weapon that is infallible and absolutely practicable. It is infallible and practicable, because it satisfies the demands of individual conscience. God above cannot, will not expect Maulana Shaukat Ali to do more than he has been doing, for he has surrendered and placed at the disposal of God whom he believes to be the Almighty ruler of everyone, he has delivered all in the service of God. And we stand before the citizens of Mangalore and ask them to make their choice either to accept this precious gift that we lay at their feet or to reject it. And after having listened to my message if you come to the conclusion that you have no other remedy than non-cooperation for the conservation of Islam and the honour of India, you will accept that remedy. I ask you not to be confused by so many bewildering issues that are placed before you, not to be shaken from your purpose because you see divided counsels amongst your leaders. This is one of the necessary limitations of any spiritual or any other struggle that has ever been fought on this earth. It is because it comes so suddenly that it confuses the mind if the heart is not tuned properly. And we would be perfect human beings on this earth if in all of us was found absolutely perfect correspondence between the mind and the heart. But those of you who have been following the newspaper controversy, will find that no matter what division of opinion exists amongst our journals and leaders there is unanimity that the remedy is efficacious if it can be kept free from violence, and if it is adopted on a large scale. I admit the difficulty; the virtue however lies in surmounting it. We cannot possibly combine violence with a spiritual weapon like non-co-operation. We do not offer spotless sacrifice it we take the lives of others in offering our own. Absolute freedom from violence is therefore a condition precedent to non-co-operation. But I have faith in my country to know that when it has assimilated the principle of the doctrine to the fullest extent, it will respond to it. And in no case will India make any headway whatsoever until she has learnt the lesson of self-sacrifice.Even if this country were to take up the doctrine of the sword, which God-forbid, it will have to learn the lesson of self-sacrifice. The second difficulty suggested is the want of solidarity of the nation. I accept it too. But that difficulty I have already answered by saying that it is a remedy that can be taken up by individuals for individual and by the nation for national satisfaction; and therefore even if the whole nation does not take up non-co-operation, the individual successes,which may be obtained by individuals taking up non-cooperation, will stand to their own credit as of the nation to which they belong.

     “The first stage in my humble opinion is incredibly easy inasmuch as it does not involve any very great sacrifice. If your Khan Bahadurs and other title-holders were to renounce their titles I venture to submit that whilst the renunciation will stand to the credit and honour of the nation it will involve a little or no sacrifice. On the contrary, they will not only have surrendered no earthly riches, but they will have gained the applause of the nation. Let us see what it means, this first step. The able editor of The Hindu, Mr. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar, and almost every journalist in the country are agreed that the renunciation of titles is a necessary and a desirable step. And if these chosen people of the Government were without exception to surrender their titles to Government giving notice that the heart of India is doubly wounded in that the honour of India and of Muslim religion is at stake and that therefore they can no longer retain their titles I venture to suggest that this their step which costs not a single penny either to them or to the nation will be an effective demonstration of the national will.

     “ Take the second step or the second item of non-co-operation. I know there is strong opposition to the boycott of councils. The opposition when you begin to analyse it means not that the step is faulty or that it is not likely to succeed, but it is due to the belief that the whole country will not respond to it and that the Moderates will steal into the councils. I ask the citizens of Mangalore to dispel that fear from your hearts. United, the voters of Mangalore can make it impossible for either a Moderate or an Extremist or any other form of leader to enter the councils as your representative. This step involves no sacrifice of money, no sacrifice of honour but the gaining of prestige for the whole nation. And I venture to suggest to you that this one step alone if it is taken with any degree of unanimity even by the Extremists can bring about the desired relief, but if all do not respond the individual need not be afraid. He at least will have laid the foundation for true set progress, let him have the comfort that he at least has washed his hands clean of the guilt of the Government.

     “Then I come to the members of the profession which one time I used to carry on. I have ventured to ask the lawyers of India to suspend their practice and withdraw their support from a Government which no longer stands for justice, pure and unadulterated, for the nation. And the step is good for the individual lawyer who takes it and is good for the nation if all the lawyers take it.

      “ And so for the Government and the Government-aided schools, I must confess that I cannot reconcile my conscience to my children going to Government schools and to the programme of non-cooperation which is intended to withdraw all support from the Government and to decline all help from it.

     “ I will not tax your patience by taking you through the other items of non-co-operation important as they are. But I have ventured to place before you four very important and forcible steps any one of which if fully taken up contains in it possibilities of success. Swadeshi is preached as an item of non-co-operation, as a demonstration of the spirit of sacrifice and it is an item which every man, woman and child can take up.”

[This Speech was delivered by Mahatma Gandhiji on the evening of 19-08-1920]

Today on 19-08-2015... after 95 years... we recollect this memorable event and the Gandhian Study Centre, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College, Udupi pays tribute to the Mahatma. 

A similar writeup was posted on the facebook page of the Gandhian Study Centre - MGM College, Udupi to commemorate the event. Here is the link:

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