Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav
Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India
Contact No. - 09404955338, 09415777229
Bajaj Family and Mahatma Gandhi, Part-I
Jamnalal Bajaj (1889-1942); merchant, banker, social worker and philanthropist; devoted follower of Gandhiji; served as treasurer of the Congress for many years. He was chairman of the reception committee for the Nagpur session of the Congress. Jamnalal Bajaj was born into a poor family in Sikar, Rajasthan. Seth Bachhraj was friend of his father. Upon coming of age, under the guidance of Seth Bachhraj, Jamnalal got involved in the family business of his grandfather. During this period he acquired the know-how of being a tradesman keeping strict accounts and buying and selling commodities excelling in his work by the time Seth Bachhraj died. In 1926 he founded what would become the Bajaj group of industries. During the First World War, the British government appeased and honored native tradesmen, soliciting funds. They appointed Jamnalal an honorary magistrate.
When Mahatma Gandhi returns from South Africa, Jamnalal Bajaj took in interest in Gandhian way of life, his principles, such as non-violence and his dedication to the poor. He could understand Gandhi’s vision that home-made goods were the answer to India’s poverty. He figured that the British companies were importing cheap raw cotton from India and sending back finished cloth at higher prices. He was humbled by the simple life that Gandhi was leading at the Sabarmati Ashram. He was impressed by the Ashram’s routine of prayer and physical work. Activities included cleaning, cooking, washing and looking after the domesticated animals. He brought his wife Janakidevi and his children to live in the Ashram. However, this close relationship and his deep involvement in the independence movement did not leave Jamnalal Bajaj with much time to spend on his newly launched business venture.
In 1920, Jamnalal Bajaj was elected chairman of the reception committee for the Nagpur session of the India National Congress. Later, in 1923, he participated in the flag Satyagraha, defying a ban on flying the national flag in Nagpur, and was arrested. This earned him national admiration. He wanted Gandhi to move to Wardha and make it the center of his activities. After the Dandi March in April 1930, Gandhi moved to Sevagram, a small village in Wardha district, since he wanted to live close to the rural populace.
Jamnalal Bajaj was named president of Gandhi Seva Sangh, a group of workers who dedicated their time to constructive work. He was later elected a member of the Congress Working Committee and as the treasurer of Congress in 1933. Jamnalal Bajaj was interested in initiatives such as the removal of untouchability, promotion of Hindi, and Khadi and village Industries. He had toured across the country promoting Khadi. In 1925, he was chosen as the treasurer of the All India Spinners Association. He was also the president of the All India Hindi Sahitya Sammelan that promoted Hindi as the single language to unite all Indians. Janakidevi Bajaj was born on 7th January 1893 in a Vaishnava Marwari family of Jaora in Madhya Pradesh.
Wardha in those days had the glitter of Seth Bachhraj's glory. All he lacked was a child. For generations the family lineage had been maintained by resorting to adoption. The adopted son Ramdhan Das too departed and Seth Bachhraj went to Kashi ka Vas (Rajasthan) and adopted Jamnalal, the four-year-old son of Shri Kaniram. Janakidevi was chosen when she was a four-year-old child, as a match for Shri Jamnalal Bajaj. After their marriage, she came to Wardha in 1902. Even Shri Jamnalal Bajaj probably had no idea that the innocent girl he had brought home as his bride, would go on to become a shining inspiration to the Bajaj family, the society and the country.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have your draft for Rs l, 500/-. I am grateful. Your donation will be earmarked for the spread of Hindi. If some other people send [money] for this specific purpose and some amount is saved, your donation will also be spent on other activities. I shall let you know if I have to go to Wardha again.”1 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have come here for a few days. There is no need for you to go to Champaran. The Committee’s work is almost over now.”2
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had asked my nephew to go to you in that connection. Now I have Ramnarayanji’s letter. He appears worthy of being taken up. I have asked for some more information from him. Two teachers from manner have offered to come. I have already engaged one of them. I am having talks about the other. They will be able to join after two months. Ramnarayanji will be the third. We should be able to carry on with these.”3 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There has been delay in answering your letter. I have been tied up here in two big tasks. Please excuse me. If you think it proper to name the library after me, you may do so.”4
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “My visit to Nagpur has been postponed. At present the work here is taking every moment of my time. The workers’ strike is going on and so is Government’s tyranny over the peasants in Kheda. Both are mighty tasks.”5 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I insisted on paying your man the money for the ticket. If I didn’t pay, I wouldn’t be able to entrust work again without hesitation. I looked into the building account after coming here. I have received Rs. 28,000. The expenditure already incurred amounts to Rs. 40,000; the balance has been met from the funds earmarked for the other activities of the Ashram. What I need most at present is money for the construction work. The expenditure will be Rs. one lakh. If you feel like contributing anything, kindly do so.”6
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “If you can allow me to use the money set apart for railway expenses for building work, my trouble will be over. I have written to other friends also. Shankarlal Banker has sent Rs. 4,000. Ambalalji is sending Rs. 5,000. This helps towards expenses already incurred. I hope for some help from two other friends also. If you will give the Rs. 25,000 for building work, I can be free from anxiety to a great extent. There is no need to provide for railway expenses. These expenses are met from the normal receipts. Please do not think that you must give the money because I write. Give it only if you can do so for building work without any reservation.”7 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I returned from Bombay last night. Being on tour I could not write to you earlier. Your letter has taken a burden off my mind. Bhai Ambalalji has sent Rs. 5,000 and Bhai Shankarlal Banker has given Rs. 4,000. I feel some hesitation in speaking of my wants to friends who do not turn down my requests and yet I cannot help making them. I therefore strongly feel that, when there is any difficulty in conceding my request, it will be a kindness to me not to grant it. I hope your pain has now completely disappeared.”8
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Your love makes me feel ashamed. I wish I ask of God that I may deserve all that love. I hope that your devotion will ever lead you forward on the path of virtue. For success in the task of spreading education in Marwar a good organizer is needed. The work of recruitment is going on very slowly. So far the number may be about 150. No one has yet been sent. I am trying to raise a battalion of Gujaratis.”9 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have your draft for Rs. 5,000. No harm has been caused by the delay. Have no anxiety about my health. It is improving day by day. I shall have to be in bed a few days more. I have become very weak.”10 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Contributions should be remitted to the Treasurer, All-India Congress Committee, or to Sheth Jamnalal Bajaj, Treasurer of the Congress or to Mian Chhotani1. If any persons wish to send their contributions to the Navajivan office instead of to one of these, the amounts will be acknowledged in the paper and sent on to the Treasurer of the Gujarat Provincial Committee.”11
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I wish to tell my Agrawal brethren that only a community which offers pure sacrifice can serve India and its own religious faith. I hope in the great struggle for freedom the Agrawal community will make its fullest contribution. I know the Marwaris are rich, pious and philanthropic. The need today is for self-purification and for protection of dharma. I pray to God that He may grant our Agrawal brethren the strength for self-sacrifice.”12 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In Messrs Jamnalal Bajaj and Umar Sobani the All-India Congress Committee has treasurers who command universal respect, and in Messrs Nehru and Ansari and Rajagopalachari it has secretaries whom it will be difficult to surpassin ability, industry or integrity. I have therefore no hesitation in assuring the busy reader who is solicitous about the Congress finance that all that is humanly possible has been done by the Congress authorities to ensure, Proper collection and administration of all new Congress funds.”13
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “As I proceed in my quest for Truth, it grows upon me that Truth comprehends everything. I often feel that ahimsa is in Truth, not vice versa. What is perceived by a pure heart at a particular moment is Truth to it for that moment. By clinging to it, one can attain pure Truth. And I do not imagine that this will lead us into any moral dilemma. But often enough, it is difficult to decide what ahimsa is. Even the use of disinfectants is himsa. Still we have to live a life of ahimsa in the midst of a world full of himsa, and we can do so only if we cling to Truth. That is why I can derive ahimsa from truth. Out of Truth emerge love and tenderness. A votary of Truth, one who would scrupulously cling to Truth, must be utterly humble. His humility should increase with his observance of Truth. I see the truth of this every moment of my life. I have now a more vivid sense of Truth and of my own littleness than I had a year ago. The wonderful implication of the great truth Brahma satyam jaganmithya grows on me from day to day. We should therefore be always patient. This will purge us of harshness and make us more tolerant. Our lapses will then appear as mountains and those of others as small as mole-hills. The body exists because of our ego. The utter extinction of the body is moksha. He who has achieved such extinction of the ego becomes the very image of Truth; he may well be called the Brahman. Hence it is that a loving name of God is Dasanudasa. Wife, children, friends, possessions all should be held subject to that Truth. We can be satyagrahis only if we are ready to sacrifice each one of these in our search for Truth. It is with a view to making the observance of this Truth comparatively easy that I have thrown myself into this movement and so not hesitate to sacrifice men like you in it. Its outward form is Indian swaraj. Its real inner form is the swaraj of particular individuals. This swaraj is being delayed because we have not found even one satyagrahi of that pure type. This, however, need not dismay us. It should spur us on to greater effort. You have indeed, made yourself my fifth son. But I am striving to be a worthy father to you. it is no ordinary responsibility which a man who adopts a son undertakes. May God help me, and may I be worthy of the responsibility in this very life.”14
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “From the purely economic point of view, I can say that unless merchants dealing in foreign yarn and foreign cloth give up their trade and unless the public give up their fondness for foreign cloth, starvation—the chief malady of our country will not be ended. I hope all businessmen will participate fully in the propagation of khaddar and the spinning-wheel.”15 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have obtained Superintendent’s permission to send this to you. In expressing my opinion about Ramdas’s intended marriage, I was hasty and yielded to blind affection repented after we parted and saw how one who considered himself to be a careful man could become thoughtless and blinded by affection. I failed yesterday in my duty as father. I feel that Ramdas would sin if he married before he knew his ideal and had not found an occupation to his liking. He wishes, and we all respect his wish, that he should marry not on the strength of my position but on that of his own merits. Hence he must now choose his own calling. That would help the parents of the intended bride to come to a decision and girl would know where she has to go. Therefore, our first business and now the first business of all of you who are outside is to help Ramdas to come to a decision about his future. If Ramdas wishes to continue his studies, he may do so. If his father who is now old can study like a boy, Ramdas who is only just entering upon his youth easily can. Or he may take up the commercial life or find himself a place in the Ashram or the Ashram Seminary or he may wish to join his brother Harilal. My strong advice is that he should not think of marrying until he has tried himself for one year in the calling of his choice. For Ramdas to marry a girl belonging to rich parents, even though she may have an excellent character, is to court unhappiness for himself and his wife and her parents. The safest course appears to me to find a virtuous girl in one of the poorest families. He should not mind the time that may have to be devoted to the search. I was blindly affectionate to Mrs. Gandhi too. I feel that I should do my duty by her if I continue to be ‘butcher’ to her. Parents ought not for their own selves impede the progress or thwart the wishes of their children. For the moment yesterday I encouraged Mrs. Gandhi in her contrary intention. My advice to her now is that she should swallow the bitter pill of separation from Ramdas and that she should do with contentment. She should bless Ramdas if he places himself under the care of so good a soul as Rajagopalachari. I know that she will consult her own good too by adopting my advice. She must feel happy in the thought of having children who have a character to lose. It is not proper to crave for their company for ever. You have taken upon yourself the role of Devdas. You will now realize what it means. You have to take the place of all the children. May God help you? For me, I am trying to deserve your wonderful affection. He who is altogether free from impure thoughts has attained salvation. Their total destruction can be achieved only after severe austerity. There is only one remedy for attaining the end: To match pure against impure thoughts. This is possible only through God’s grace. That is attainable only by contemplating God the whole of our time and by realizing that He is in us. I should not be baffled even if the mind wanders and God’s name is only on our lips. By unwearied insistence what is on the lips will soon be enthroned in the heart. Again, we must not allow any of our organs to be acted upon by a vicious thought. He who allows them to be so acted upon perishes. We must force our organs out of the control of a wicked thought. I know that even at my age, if I were to allow all my thoughts to rule my actions, I should be undone. At the same time, we must not fret about these evil thoughts. Ours is but to persevere. The result is in the hands of God and He will worry about it. Moreover, when an impure thought haunts you, you will know that it is disloyalty to your wife. You are an ideal husband. The thought of her must help you. Ordinary remedies you know. When the eye is inclined to go astray, you must be angry to the point of plucking it out. Good books are the best company.”16
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It was good that you gave up the idea of going to Kanpur. Is there any complaint still, besides weakness? You know about the institution2 at Chinchwad. It is facing a good deal of opposition and is always short of funds. I think it is necessary to help the workers. I am considering how this can be done. In all, they need Rs. 15, 000. If they get this help, they will want no more and they are prepared to take a vow that they will not ask for more. If you feel with me that they deserve this help and if you are in a position to give it, then I should like you to do so. Rajagopalachari is again suffering from asthma. I think the climate of Nasik would suit him. If you can accommodate him, write to him at his Salem address and ask him to stay with you for some time. He is already under the treatment of the Poona vaidya, and the latter will be able to examine him. I have indeed written to him suggesting that it would be better if he went to stay at Nasik while you are there. You must have learnt that the Poona vaidya has started treatment of Vallabhbhai’s Manibehn, Maganlal’s Radha and Prof. Kripalani’s sister Kikibehn. This was done at the suggestion of Devdas. Let me know what your experience of this vaidya is. Malaviyaji left for Kashi yesterday. We had some discussion about the Hindu-Muslim problem. Hakimji had also been here. With him also I discussed the same subject. Motilalji who has been here will stay on. He has been discussing the issue of Council-entry. I have been thinking about all these things.”17
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Jamnalal Bajaj. I cannot be satisfied so long as the paper carries only translations from Gujarati and English. I shall now try, when I have time, to write something for Hindi Navajivan.”18 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Mahatma Bhagwandinji and Pandit Sunderlalji have come here. They wish to talk about the Asahayoga Ashram and other matters. But I told them that I could do nothing without meeting you. I advised them to meet you and they have decided to do so. If, after hearing them, you want to tell or ask me anything, please do so.”19 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Your being unhappy has made me also unhappy. I avoided the use of Chi. in the letter to you, because I sent it unsealed, and because I could not decide just then as to the propriety or otherwise of the prefix Chi. as applied to you being read by all those who happened to see the letter. I therefore used Bhai. How are we to decide whether you are fit to be a Chi. or whether I deserve to take the place of father to you? As you have doubts about yourself, so do I have about myself? If you are imperfect, so am I. I had to take thought about my own fitness before agreeing to be a father to you. In agreeing to be that, I yielded to your love. May God make me worthy of that position? If any deficiencies remain in you, they will be evidence of the failure of my touch. I am confident that, if we try, both of us will succeed. Even if we fail, God who is hungry only for our devotion and can look into the innermost recesses of our heart will deal with us according to our deserts. I will, therefore, continue to look upon you as Chi. as long as I do not consciously harbour impurity in myself. I shall observe silence today till one o’clock. I have asked Pandit Sunderlal to come at six in the evening. I shall wire to you if, after seeing him, it seems necessary to call you here. The climate there, I hope, is agreeable. Manibehn has gone to Hajira. Radha, it can be said, is much better. Kikibehn too is all right.”20
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Please see the letter I have written to Motilalji. I have asked Krishnadas to send a copy of it to you. Govind Babu is working in Orissa. You may inspect his work and, if you approve of it, give him monetary assistance from the Gandhi Seva Sangh funds. His ability is very limited, though his demand is great, viz., Rs. 200/- a month. Of course, this much is not to be given. If he passes your test, you may give him Rs. 50/- a month. Examine his case carefully.”21 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am just now in the train. I am going back from Delhi to the Ashram. Talks of compromise are going on in Delhi. I have not received Motilalji’s letter. Let things be done in your province so far as they do not violate principles of morality. It is enough if we go on doing our duty with a detached mind. Ghanshyamdas was not in Delhi. I had already received the money from him. I had asked Chhaganlal2 to write to you and finds out how the money could be sent to you without incurring any expense. Mahadev, Devdas and Pyarelal are with me.”22
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have both your telegram and your letter. During my journey to Bombay, Poona and Surat I did not have a moment in which to write. I reached the Ashram this morning. That you have been hurt does not make me unhappy in the least. I think many of us will have to sacrifice ourselves. The venom of hatred is rife and dishonesty has spread so much that many clean people will have to be offered up as sacrifice in order to escape from this calamity. Try to find the root of this quarrel. Are there no sensible Muslims or sensible Hindus who can understand and remove the causes of these conflicts? You must have known my resolves. I have decided not to settle any important thing in Belgaum through a vote. Vindictiveness has 1 Gandhiji reached the Ashram on September 6 and awaited a call from Mahomed Ali to go to Delhi, Grown so strong that we must stop at once large scale, active Satyagraha. If we don’t, I fear, it may be the end of us. No single thing is taken in the right spirit. Everything is misunderstood. There is suspicion all around. At such a time we should remain steadfast and watch in silence what others do. I have done a lot of explaining in Young India. I do not know how much of it has been translated in Navajivan.”23
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I hope your hand is now completely all right. You must have got my previous letter. A great many changes are taking place in my thinking. A full picture of these will appear in the coming issue of Young India. My feeling at present at any rate is that we should not win a majority through votes. If at Belgaum we do not get, without any special effort, the scope to work from within the Congress, we should leave the Congress and do whatever work we can. I see no other way to remove the poison which is at present pervading the atmosphere. I am sure we will somehow overcome it. I am awaiting a telegraphic call from Delhi. of I have to go there, it is likely that some solution for the Hindu-Muslim problem will be found. I have not yet come to know the cause of the riots there. I have just gone through the speeches of Ghatwai. If he has spoken as reported, my congratulations to him were misplaced. They were far from non-violence. It is good that Balkrishna3 has arrived there. He is welcome to stay there if he wishes to. Please pass on the enclosed letter to him.”24
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I was distressed to find the boy scouts clad in foreign khaki. I did expect that these at least would be clad in khaddar. If you have khaddar uniforms for your boy scouts and your Police you can relieve the misery of the poor, the untouchables and the indigent widow. I entreat you, therefore, Thakore Saheb and members of the Representative Assembly, to resolve to wear khaddar and to have khaddar uniforms for all the State employees. You have given me a rich casket. I have neither strong-room nor safe to keep it in. Nor have I men to keep charge of the strong-room or the safe, if I had them. I have thus to hand over all such costly presents to friends like Jamnalal Bajaj to take care of them for public use. But I have room enough to store khaddar and I therefore beg khaddar of everyone I meet; I would not hesitate to ask even Lord Reading to dress himself and his orderly in khaddar.”25
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had put off writing to you as I thought you would be coming for the Committee meeting and we would then talk about everything personally. I was not at all worried that you did not come. I had inferred from Girdhari’s letter that you would definitely come. I am constantly on the look-out for someone or other for the College; but none has appealed to me. If Jugalkishore comes, it would in a way solve the problem. He is without doubt a man of character. From his letters to Gidwani, I am not fully satisfied. If Gidwani thinks of coming and can come, it would be all right. For the present there is none else I can think of. I always think that it would be better if we found someone from the South. Is it necessary to have the inaugural function of the College performed in June itself? I will be in Assam in the later part of June. Then immediately I must go to Bihar; but if it is necessary to go to Wardha directly from Assam, I shall first go there and then proceed thence to Bihar. I shall spend one month in Bihar. Ever since people have come to know about my visit to Wardha they have been asking me to visit other places also. There are letters from Nagpur, Amravati and Akola. I think it advisable to visit those places from which there are invitations. I consider it my duty to tour all the places where I am wanted during this year. If I do so, please draw up the programme for my C.P. tour and, if it is possible and convenient to you, it will be better if you accompany me.
Please let me know when I should go to Wardha; whether or not I should tour C.P. and if I tour C.P., whether you would draw up my itinerary and accompany me.
I do not think I shall be able to go to the Ashram for several days to come. After Bengal, I have to go immediately to Bihar, C.P. and other places. I can return only after these tours are over. This means it would probably be in September. The Working Committee did not meet as there were only three members present Jawaharlal, Dr. Naidu and myself. Though any was to come, he did not. Hence we could not decide anything about Ajmer. However, if you think it advisable to come and see me in that connection, do so. We need not be perturbed about it. I am myself going to write to Arjunlalji saying that whatever he has to say, he should tell me. I hope all of you there are in good health. I am keeping well. Today, Saturday, I am in Bolpur. I shall stay here till Monday. On Tuesday I shall go to Calcutta and from there I shall go to Darjeeling for three days. I shall send you my further programme which will be fixed today or tomorrow.”26
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I was glad to know that the letter which was dictated to Chi. Manhar is with you. It is quite right that you should come for the Working Committee meeting if you feel like doing so. If I particularly want your presence I shall send for you. I am on the look-out for a principal. I shall give one month to C.P. after the 16th of July. I have letters from the Municipal Committees of Amravati and Akola. I do not know their names. We should go wherever necessary. In the first place I would like to spend a quiet week in Wardha. This should be considered a more peaceful time than even the time I spent at Darjeeling. The tour should start after this. I am definitely here up to the 16th of July. I shall leave Calcutta for Assam on the 18th. From there I shall return to Calcutta on the 2nd of July. You have spun quite a lot of yarn.”27
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have written something quite differently about Alwar this time. I am afraid it will take a little time to decide about my going there. I think it will be possible to go only in the beginning of August. I intend to pass the last week of July in the Ashram and then start the tour. I am sure you will come on the 16th. I hope you received the wires I sent there to you and to Sabarmati.”28 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “We, therefore, cannot conceive a more fitting Memorial than the universal propagation of the spinning-wheel and khaddar and, therefore, invite funds for that purpose. We refrain from naming the sum required for this Memorial as it can absorb all it can receive. The subscription given by the public will be the measure of their regard for the memory of the deceased patriot, of their belief in the usefulness of the form the Memorial is to take and of their trust in those who are to handle and operate on the funds. They will be Sjt. M. K. Gandhi, Pandit Motilal Nehru, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Dr. Prafulla Chandra Ray, Shrimati Sarojini Devi, Sjt. Jamnalal Bajaj and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, with power to add to their number. Pandit Jawaharlal has consented to act as Hon. Secretary for the Trustees and Sjt. Jamnalal Bajaj as Treasurer. Remittances should be sent to Sjt. Jamnalal Bajaj, 395, Kalbadevi Road, Bombay, or to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, 107, Hewett Road, Allahabad. A full list of donations will be sent to the Press for publication from week to week.”29
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Jamnalal Bajaj for the appointment of a committee of inquiry. Now it has been long a tradition of the Congress not to interfere in the internal affairs of Indian States. The members of the Committee felt that it was a healthy tradition which it would be unwise to break. Sjt. Jamnalalji then did not press his motion. I told him, however, that I should discuss the question in these pages and give my reasons for my personal opinion that the Congress should not interfere in the internal administration of the Indian States. This may, if one chooses to put it so, be regarded as a virtue of necessity or a matter of policy, It is both and perhaps a little more. It must be frankly admitted that the Congress possesses no authority for enforcing its will in Indian States even to the extent it does in British India proper. Prudence, therefore, dictates inaction where action would be waste of effort, if not folly. But if inaction is prudential, it is also benevolent. The Congress seeks not to embarrass the States, it desires to help them. It does not wish to destroy them, it wishes to reform them. And this the Congress for the moment does by abstention as an earnest of its goodwill.”30
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Vinoba said you were afraid that the fasts around here would cause me anxiety. Far from being anxious, I was glad about them. Bhai Bhansali’s fast was self-chosen; he is at present practicing severe austerities. Bhai Kishorelal’s was for purely personal reasons, to clear his heart of evil. Maganlal’s was in the form of atonement and it was quite corrects daughter had cheated him. For this he had no remedy but to suffer the pain himself. This brought about a good effect on that family. All three of them, Kishorelal, Bhansali and Maganlal are doing well. And I had no anxiety at all. I am keeping quite well, and take four seers of milk, and also eight biscuits out of what I have received from Jamnabehn. I take regular walks. Hence you need not at all be concerned about me. Herewith Chi. Mani’s letter for you to go through; it need not be returned to me. Have you not yet heard anything about Kamala’s marriage?”31
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I read your letter only on Tuesday; so I could not send for Rameshwarprasad, but yesterday he called on me along with Keshavdasji. I took them for a walk. I invited Rameshwar Prasad to join the students in their prayer, and this he has started doing from today. I give them readings from Bhaktarajani Yatra.”32 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “We shall decide about Manibehn when you come here. Surely, my weight has gone up a little. I hope it will go up more this week. There is no cause for anxiety. I have been receiving the oranges sent by you.”33
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Another wedding, of the same kind as the one described above if not exactly like it, was celebrated under the auspices of the Ashram on Sunday last. The parties were members of the Marwari community. Shri Jamnalal Bajaj gave in marriage his eldest daughter, Chi. Kamla, to Chi. Rameshwar Prasad, son of the late Shri Kanaiyalalji. Shri Rameshwar Prasad is studying in the Gujarat Vidyapith. The families of both the parties being rich, it was extremely difficult for them to have only the religious rites for the wedding and nothing else. I have not heard of any wedding among rich Marwari families celebrated with such simplicity. Ordinarily, the wedding would have been arranged at Wardha or in Bombay. Shri Jamnalalji wanted it to be solemnized without ostentation and with the minimum of expenditure, and wished at the same time that the ceremony should bring home to the bride and the bridegroom the significance of marriage, its essentially religious character, and also clearly explain to them their mutual obligations. Shri Jamnalalji and I felt that such a wedding could be celebrated only in the precincts of the Ashram. This religious reform, however, could not be carried out without the consent of the bridegroom and his family. But Shri Ramavallabhji and Shri Keshavdevji won over Shri Rameshwar Prasad’s mother and other elders, and thus secured the consent of all.”34
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “About Mussoorie I feel very bad today. I do not feel like going there or anywhere for that matter. I need no change of climate. I get all the rest I require and if I can attend to some work here, it will serve as therapy. I have several reasons for not leaving the Ashram. Leaving the Ashram might upset me. I want to be free, if you can release me with full understanding of the situation. I shall certainly go to Mussoorie if you think I must. But I write this because it is only proper, I think, to let you know the agony of my mind today. I shall also consult Shankerlal about this. Satisbabu arrived yesterday. Dr. Suresh comes on Saturday. Manibehn does not want to stay with you. She wants to improve her Gujarati. Even then Madalasa should stay with Janakibehn. If she stays long at the Ashram, she will automatically pick up a lot. Take a close look at the Kanya Gurukul and write to me. Also let me know the number of girls in the institution.”35
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had the telegram from Ghanshyamdas and you, and I have sent a reply to Ghanshyamdas. Shankarlal is the cause of it all. He is not very discreet. But let us say no more of it. You will find me ready when you are; but after the 31st. Bhai Pyar Ali and Noorbano desire to spend the summer wherever I do. It will do if they can have a separate cottage or even a couple of rooms. They propose to live on their own. So you may now do whatever you think proper. I am in quite good health. Here it is not exactly summer as yet; only today it may be said to be somewhat warm.”36 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have your letter. I have also got a letter from Hakimsaheb. The following telegram has been sent to him today: “Thanks letter. Any arrangement you friends may make will suit.” Now whatever you decide will be final. You may, if you so desire, put me at any other place before I proceed to Mussoorie. As for me, I am prepared to go to Mussorie direct. It does not matter if it is too cold there; I can stand it.”37
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It is not convenient to leave earlier, and it is now cool rather than warm here. I am having plenty of rest. I have gone through your draft letter to Hakim Saheb; it is all right. Herewith I return it. Most probably I shall be accompanied by Pyarelal, Mahadev, Subbaiya, Pyar Ali, Noorbanobehn and their attendant. Pyar Ali intends to rent separate quarters and have his meals cooked for him. If it is not necessary for you at present to stay in Bombay, I would certainly like to have you with me in Mussoorie. If you are there we can certainly attend to some jobs. I do not wish to detain you, however, if your work requires you to go to Bombay or Calcutta. So it is for you to make the final decision after considering your convenience. It seems you have been quite successful with the Gurukul. Rajagopalachari has enough worries regarding his own ashram, so he will have to return soon. Abbas Tyabji can be persuaded to undertake touring. Manilal has since returned from Rangoon but it seems he will not be ready to run around so soon. He will now have to give some time for railway workers which mean he cannot tour for the present. He will leave this place on Tuesday.”38
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Anna has come here, and is leaving again today. The dispute with the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan is going on. I have now decided that we should have a trust for this purpose too. I have addressed a letter about this, a copy of which will be handed over to you by Anna. You can make any suggestions about trustees which you may like to. I have proposed that the trustees will include, besides others, three workers actively engaged in propagating Hindi; I think that will be necessary. They will be persons who have dedicated their lives to the cause, and it will be proper, therefore, to include them among the trustees. Please decide in consultation with Anna in what installments you will pay the sum which you assured him that you would pay. That will make things easy for him, and you, too, will have the matter off your mind. He will get the amounts regularly on the dates fixed. You may ask him about the accounts if you wish to. I will not myself be looking into them. Anna will place before you his scheme for getting the accounts audited. I am still thinking about the bigger trust. I also think it absolutely necessary that we should regularly publish the accounts of all funds being managed by us, Till now I did not insist on this being done out of my anxiety to economize expenses. I know that, in spite of the practice of publishing accounts, there can be malpractices and, therefore, we place our trust entirely on the integrity of our workers. All the same, we should avail ourselves of the advantage of safety which the practice of publishing accounts offers. There are a number of small trusts, the names of all of which I, too, do not remember. I always feel that it would have been very much better if all these things had been published at the right time.”39
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The Governor has replied that it is not necessary for me to go there at present. It will do if I see him in June after he comes down; so we are free from the bother of having to go to Mahabaleshwar. I did make some mention to Lalaji about his grievance but he refused to admit to me that he had any. Since we know the trouble, we will certainly apply the remedy when he is here. I will speak to Motilalji when there is an opportunity to do so. I am sure there will be no difficulty in regard to that matter. I do not feel like sending away Devdas from here just now. It would be better if he leaves only after he has completely recovered his health. Moreover, if I am required to go to Europe I shall have to think what I should do and whom I should take with me. My present intention is that Mahadev and Devdas should accompany me. For this reason, too, it is better that Devdas should stay here for the present. If at all we decide to go, we shall be leaving at the beginning of July. I have received no reply as yet.”40
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am sure your rule about eating salt-free food is not for all time. Its significance lies in that it reduces the keenness of the palate. This is the main point to bear in mind, and, therefore, as a guest at someone’s places you may accept whatever simple food is offered. You may leave aside any item on the menu, with or without salt, which is not acceptable to you. But the three items milk, boiled rice and chapattis can be had anywhere. You may leave aside curry or vegetables which contain chillies and spices. Where hand- ground flour is not available, you may use mill-ground flour without any hesitation. When the road surface is very hot and in a place strewn with thorns, you should certainly use shoes, which in fact are called kantarakhan or pagarakhan. You should not hesitate to write to me whenever you are faced with such conflicts of duties. Take very good care of your health.”41
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It seems at last that I shall have to go to Mahabaleshwar. There is a letter today from Sir Chunilal Mehta. He has written it at the instance of the Governor himself, and suggests that I should meet the Governor in Mahabaleshwar itself. He has also invited me to stay with him while there, and pressed me to accept the invitation. I intend, therefore, to start from here on Thursday. Devdas’s operation will have been over by then. I expect a telegram today. Now we shall not have to arrange for a bungalow for our stay in Mahabaleshwar. Think over and decide what arrangements we should make for a car and whether you will accompany me.”42 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I expect a telegram from you this evening. I am not at all worried. Tell Ba that Rami’s daughter is quite all right. I had got Ba’s message. Manibehn and the younger Kashi do the cooking. Kumibehn, Rami’s aunt, arrived here today. Kanti and Manu had been to the station to receive her. Ba should not worry on our account. Rameshwarprasad, his mother and others arrived yesterday, and are leaving for that side today. You must have got my letter in which I told you about my going to Mahabaleshwar. I take it that Mahadev will remain there for the time being. He should write to me if he wants me to fetch anything for him from here. I think we shall have to take with us some extra covering for nights. It seems that we shall have to stay in Mahabaleshwar for three days, viz., Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I have also been thinking that, leaving there on Tuesday morning; we should look up Kaka in Sinhgarh and, if possible, make a trip to Deolali as well. This may take up two more days. If we start on Tuesday morning we can reach Sinhgarh at about 10 or 11, and I am thinking that we may then go to Deolali if we can come down the same evening. But I may even drop the visit to Deolali if Mahadev thinks that it is not very necessary to go, because I also feel there is no point in going to Deolali unless we can stay there for a couple of days. Just now I shall write nothing about this to Mathuradas. I have decided to be guided by Mahadev’s advice. Will you yourself arrange for a car from Poona? A train for Poona leaves Bombay at 10-30 a.m. If that is so, I think it will be best to catch that train, after seeing Devdas, and reach Mahabaleshwar the same night. I think it would be better to arrange for two cars from Poona. I had just now a trunk-call from Vallabhbhai about the operation. God be praised for His mercy!”43
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am not at all worried, nor was I before. There is always some risk in chloroform, but then such risk is present in every operation. Tell Devdas not to be nervous if the pain continues; some patients feel it, but only for a couple of days. By the time you get this letter, the pain must have disappeared completely. I got the translation sent by Mahadev. With this and with the translation from Valji, I have by now (half past two) matter for seventeen columns ready. So I have sat down to write this letter. I do not think you need postpone your Indore visit. Nothing will be accomplished at Mahabaleshwar, whereas there is much to do at Indore. I have not decided whom I should ask here to accompany me. There will be one person, and most probably it will be Subbiah. I shall arrive there in the first train. Take me to Revashankarbhai’s. If Devdas is better, I shall go to see him after I have had my bath and lunch; otherwise I will go directly from the station. We must leave for Poona the same day. That will be no trouble to me. I intend to reach Mahabaleshwar the same evening, i.e., at nine on Friday. Please inform Revashankarbhai. It is all right that you know Mehta, but it would have been better if you had not written to him for a car. It will not look well if he makes any arrangements on behalf of the Government. But please do not alter the arrangements. You will see that, if we reach Mahabaleshwar on Friday, we shall have only two days to meet the Governor. We must leave the place on Tuesday morning.”44
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Abbas Tyabji writes to me to remind you lest you forget about his accommodation when you go to Mussoorie. If you are still in Bombay, please call on him to offer your condolences.”45 “Lakshmidas must have settled down there. His health would not rally here. He cannot do without work. I have therefore decided to send him to you so that he may rest along with Devdas. I have come to the conclusion that there is no point in keeping Lakshmidas here no matter how long Devdas stays there. There must be plenty of doctors in Mussoorie. If you feel that Lakshmidas must consult one, let him do so. You must have learnt that Girdhari has been operated on for fistula. I believe he will get much relief. It is good that he was operated on in time. The visit to Finland has almost been called off. It is a different matter if I have to reconsider this because of the embarrassment it may cause to Mr. Paul. But the chances of such reconsideration are one in a hundred. I believe you will arrive by the 22nd at the latest. If no one there is put to any inconvenience it is good that Lakshmidas stays there for quite some time. It is absolutely necessary that he recovers completely.”46
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I wish you could make a long stay there and build up your body getting away from it all. There must be no more fits of giddiness. The real remedy for it is, mainly, open air and exercise. You must take a ten-mile walk daily. I should not think that is at all too much. The Charkha Sangh committee meets on the 26th; you do not therefore have to come here till then. It would be better if you resisted the temptation to stay in Delhi and at the Rampura Ashram for the present. I want you to spend as much time in Mussoorie as possible. Ask Lakshmidas to write to me from time to time. He should improve his health a lot. Velabehn will arrive here this evening along with Mani.”47 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I certainly hoped for one from Devdas. There is no harm if you cannot come on the 26th. But that should be only on health grounds. Bhai Amritlal Sheth has sent me a list today. You may take it that when you come here you will have to spend three or four days in Kathiawar.”48
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The land in the possession of Joshi Girijashanker which we had been thinking of acquiring must have been purchased today. The total area is 19 vighas, from which he will retain one vigha at the extreme end. Land measuring 18 vighas and the buildings will be bought for a total of Rs. 21,000. The owner or his tenant, whoever lives there, will be entitled to draw water from our well. This right will cease if he sells that one vigha. When he sells it, we shall have the right of pre-emption at a price to be fixed by a panch. We have to pay Rs. 5,000 just now as guarantee money and shall have to pay the remaining 16,000 within one month. The name of the person in whose name the land will be registered is not being entered in the sale-deed. I can think of three possibilities: 1) in the name of the Ashram; 2) for cow-protection activities; 3) in your name. If you wish to buy it in your name, you may. Personally, I am inclined to buy it in the name of the Ashram and use it, if necessary, for setting up a dairy or a tannery. Alternatively, we may set up the dairy and the tannery on some other plot of the Ashram land and use this land for agriculture and residential buildings. We are very much short of buildings just now. Whatever the purpose for which we buy the land, you will have to arrange for the money there. If necessary, you may also see Jugalkishorji and Ghanshyamdasji in this connection. I think we shall have to start constructing a few more buildings as soon as the rains are over. Please wire to me what is to be done about the money and in whose name the document should be registered. We have had fine rains here. The river is in flood almost every day. The Hindu-Muslim quarrel is growing there from day to day. Try if you can discover the cause. Write to me in detail.”49
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “We have purchased Girjashanker Joshi’s land for Rs. 21,000. We shall have to spend another Rs. 1,000 on miscellaneous items. The total area of the land is 19 vighas, out of which the owner will keep one vigha for himself. We have paid Rs. 5,000 as earnest money. We have to pay the balance of Rs. 16,000 within a month. The question now is, in whose name should we get the land registered? I think we should buy it in the name of the Ashram and then use it for any purpose we choose. I should, however, like to respect your wishes in this matter. The land may be purchased in any name, but the money will have to be found by you. You may, if you wish to, discuss the matter with the Birla brothers. Wire to me what we should do. I have promised to pay the money as soon as possible. Kindly, therefore, arrange for that too as early as you can. Janakibehn feels a little nervous on hearing about the riots in Calcutta. I have reassured her.”50
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Please remember that the 15th is the last date for paying the money to Girjashankar Joshi. I should get the sum before that date. Yesterday, Lala Shyamlal of Hissar arrived with his wife. At the moment, ‘there is no room in the Ashram in which the husband and the wife could be put up. The latter, therefore, has been accommodated in the room occupied by Janakidevi. The Lala seems to be well acquainted with you. Om took ill, and so she came down here. She is quite well now.”51 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I did not expect the cloud which is now threatening you, but 1 welcome it all the same. This is the only way in which one’s love for dharma is tested. Send me the charge-sheet against you when you get it. I will draft a reply. You may make any changes you like in it, our only aim being that we should maintain the utmost civility. A community has the right to expel from its fold any member who acts against its rules. There is nothing in all your actions for which you need feel ashamed or sorry. Certainly, your influence in the community will diminish, and so will your capacity for getting wealth. I don’t see anything to worry about in this. You should not mind even if you have to take to begging. If we can preserve our dharma, we should welcome being reduced to such a plight. When ultimately the members of your community recognize your love for dharma and your respect for the community, they themselves will become humble. We must bring about reforms in the affairs of communities, and by acting in this manner you will easily succeed in doing that in your community. You should send immediately Rs. 8,000 more to enable Anna to buy a press. He was here. I think we should provide him with the necessary means. If Ghanshyamdas has not returned the sum of Rs. 5,000, please remind him. If you get it, you may send that and another Rs. 3,000, which should be deducted from the money payable in the next month.”52
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I can give only one reply in regard to the Hindu-Muslim problem. Hindus should bear patiently every form of suffering. This does not, of course, mean that they should forsake their dharma. Employ all your spare time in spinning.”53 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It was good that you went to Sikar. Please see that now you do not change your mind about coming here direct from there. Ghanshyamdas tells me that your health, too, is none too good. I was alarmed by the news. More when we meet.”54 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Giridhari tells me that your health has still not improved. This is not good. It must improve, even if that means you’re going away somewhere. You should go to a place where you can live in solitude. The air should be wholesome, and you should have the right kind of companion with you. Your illness is both physical and mental. You ought not to carry an excessive burden of work. You need not worry about Kamala. Her fever is like that of the others. She is in fact ready to go to Wardha or Bombay or any other place. But I don’t feel like letting her go till she is quite all right, nor is it necessary that she should go. I see her from time to time. It is her mother-in-law about whom I feel worried, because she gets nervous, though, of course, she will certainly recover. I hope you take regular walks. You must go out both in the morning and in the evening.”55
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Kamala was thoroughly examined by Dr. Rajabali. There is no cause for anxiety. It has been decided to put her under his treatment.”56 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Soniramji is here; he is not in good health. Kamala changed her mind at the last minute and has decided to go with me to Wardha and I am happy about it. My health is now good. I had been to Bombay for a day. I had talks with Sir Ganga Ram, Kamath, Ganguli and Sir Chunilal. Let’s see the result.”57 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had completely forgotten the election affair. I see no difficulty in your doing what you think proper. I have written to everyone concerned that I can never participate in it. I would not approve of it if you have to visit many places. It would harm your health. Ba is completely well, so there is no need to worry. Let us see what happens when I come. There must be many candidates. I intend to bring Lakshmidas with me so that he may have a change.”58
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Kamala is well and happy now. There is no need to come specially to attend the meeting of the Charkha Sangh. I hope you are having rest there. If you are not, you should run away to some other place. Read the wires. I found all the replies satisfactory. Bhansali’s fast of forty days will end today. He will break his fast tomorrow morning. His strength has been very well maintained. He has not taken any service from anyone. I hope to start from here on the 2nd December. Who will accompany me has not yet been decided. Devdas has gone to Panchgani because of Mathuradas. Pyarelal had to go to the Punjab because of his sister. It was necessary for Soniramji to undergo an operation and his mother and others were not willing to have the operation done anywhere except in Rangoon. Champabehn is here. She has not been entrusted with any responsibilities.”59
Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “May you live long and may your purity grows. No one in this world is free from imperfection. We can only strive to get rid of it. You are making an effort in that direction. A person who makes an honest effort knows no fall. This is the divine pledge. We shall now meet on the 4th. I intend to go via Tapti Valley Railway. Shastriar arrives tomorrow.”60 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have sent you a telegram regarding the stores at Gondia and Amravati. If I have to visit Gondia, I may be able to go there too. I have to leave Patna on the 31st evening. I can catch the Bombay Mail at Mogulsarai on the 1st. I shall be reaching Jabalpur on the same day. That means that I shall be arriving in Gondia on the 2nd. I shall get a seat in the Bhusaval Mail at any rate on the 3rd. I have written to Kishorelal in that connection and have asked him to show the letter to you. My suggestion just now is that either Gomatibehn or Vijayalakshmi should ask Sushila, without mentioning the name, whether she intends to get married. I gather from Kishorelal’s letter that none of the girls is yet thinking of getting married. If this is true, why should we persuade her to marry? Kishorelal believes that, if at all, Sushila may be thinking of getting married. That is why it seems to me that we can proceed further in the matter after ascertaining whether she wishes to get married. Meanwhile I will definitely come there. Perhaps we shall then know more clearly what to do. My tour in these parts is going on at great speed is arranged well. Better arrangements can be made though today we are in Rajendra Babu’s village. Although Janakibehn’s complaint of piles has become less acute, it is better to consult a doctor and do as he suggests. I should not like you to postpone consulting a doctor. I hope Vinoba is keeping good health. I wish to hear about Shivaji’s health too.”61
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