Mahatma Gandhi’s Second Visit (1927) : “Khadi Prachar Tour”
Gandhiji visited Mangalore for the second time by train as a part of his Kadhi Prachar Tour. He addressed a public gathering in Mangalore on October 26, 1927. During his visit in 1927, Gandhi unveiled a portrait of Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak in the Bhuvanendra hall of Canara School, Mangalore. In his public speech he stressed upon the importance of charaka and khadi. He also appreciated the introduction of spinning in the schools maintained under the municipal boards. He urged the students to learn Hindi language. He also received the donations and contributions from the people for cause of the poor. His speech was translated into Kannada by Sri Gangadharrao Deshpande. Thus his speech was conveyed easily to the masses. Here is the English translation of Mahatma’s public speech (as reported by The Hindu, dated 28-10-1927)
“ I am grateful to you for all the money which you have given me on behalf of Daridranarayana as also for the addresses. Since coming here I was very glad to find that some people spoke to me in my own language. I find that an address from the Arya Samaj in Hindi also was presented to me. If all the addresses had been in Hindi or at least in your own language, Kanarese, I would have been gladder. On this earth, God, Parameswhara, gives us sorrow and happiness. That Parameshwara has given me sorrow when I heard these addresses read in a foreign language. In this town I orginally wanted to stay with you for four days. I wish I had been able to do so. This day in the ordinary course of events I would have been in Nileshwar. When we reached Nileshwar Railway Station this afternoon I found thousands of people collected and in despair and my mind was very much aggrieved to disappoint them, and come here passing that station. I find some consolation in the fact that while serving the country I may have to disappoint so many by unavoidable change of programmes.
“While I was in Tiruppur I received a telegram from the Viceroy. In that telegram His Excellency requested me to come up to Delhi in order to discuss with me some important matters. I think that by complying with that request also I may be able to do some service to the country. So it is that I had not the heart in me to refuse the invitation. I told you I have to go to Delhi and hence I am not able to stay in your midst long. So please excuse me. For what precise business I am going to Delhi to the Viceroy, why he has called me, and what important matter he wants to discuss with me, you might all be anxious to know. I am sorry to say that I myself do not know anything more about it. He has simply requested me to come even at a little inconvenience to myself. I have complete confidence that I will be able to finish my work in Delhi in two days. After that I want to go to Ceylon. If I get time and convenience when I come back, I will finish my full programme in your district.
“I want to go to Ceylon and finish all the programmes that have been arranged there. I was to serve the Daridranarayana of Ceylon also as I have been serving here. So on account of all these reasons please excuse my abrupt departure tomorrow from Mangalore by sea.
“Six or seven years ago I came here with my brother Maulana Shaukat Ali. That visit I will never forget. At that time Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and all other in this country had been at peace. They trusted each other. There was perfect confidence between them. In Northern India, you have at the present time Hindus and Mussalmans fighting with each other and breaking each other’s heads. This state of things should not continue. I am confident that good relations will be restored between them at no distant date.
“ In all your addresses you have mentioned about charkha and khadi and expressed your perfect confidence in the success of the movement. All the money you have given me is for that purpose. It is not enough if you say that you have faith in this movement. That will not make the movement successful. This khadi movement will succeed only if all of you we wear khaddar. I see many of you around me dressed in foreign cloth. Our country produces enough cotton and food products. If all our countrymen had only been consuming imported food materials then what would have been our condition today? It is the same if we wear foreign cloth. One of my sisters told me that so long as she could not get very fine khadi she would not wear that dress. Now I will tell you of one instance. Suppose your mother or your daughter prepares food, even though it is not so nice you relish it will. In the same way the cloth prepared by your own brothers and sisters should be readily acceptable to you even if it be a little rough. As regards find khadi I can supply you khadi of whatever fineness you want. You can see how fine is the cloth on which the addresses were printed and the khaddar saris worn by my wife. You can also produce such fine khadi if only you take a little trouble and interest. What I would request you is this: this day onwards you should promise me that you will wear khadi only.
“In your municipal address I am gald to find that spinning has been introduced in the schools maintained under their jurisdiction. In these schools small children can make beautiful thread by means of takli. That is the best instrument to use in schools. You must teach them to spin in a scientific manner. I have noticed that those who are engaged in spinning khadi are very happy and contented. But all the members of the Municipal Council do not wear khaddar. They do not work on the charkha also, I know. So if they introduce the charkha in schools and ask the students to spin they would consider it as a punishment. So in order to satisfy their students at least they should wear khadi.
“ There are certain evils in Hinduism like untouchability which I would bring to your notice. It is the duty of every Hindu to see that these vicious evils are immediately up rooted from the country if our Mother India is to attain salvation at all. To the students who have gathered here I wish to say one word only. That is, the future of this country depends upon you alone. Because you are learning, it cannot be said that you are serving the country and the extent of your knowledge only has no relation to such service. I wanted to tell you two or three things more but I do not want to detain you.
“Many of you may know that there is Hindi prachar work done by a disciple of the late revered Swami Shraddhanandji. He will teach Hindi to those who want to learn it. I would appeal to all of you, especially students, to learn that language. About the study of this language I have mentioned in several of my speeches in other places, and have also written a number of articles. Still if you want to hear more I will tell you a few words. If you desire to serve all India, if you want a bond of union between the northern and southern portions of this vast country, it is necessary that you should learn Hindi.
“Finally, those who have not contributed enough money may do so even now. If there are my ladies who want to present any jewels to Daridranarayana they may do so. As regards my sisters I will tell you this—your ideal is Sita Devi. Just as she was beautiful in her natural form so also you should not desire the help of ornaments to aid your beauty. Moreover it is not good for you to wear ornaments while there are many of your sisters starving for food and work. Those who give a jewel worth Rs. 100 will provide food for sixteen hundred of their poor sisters for one day. These sisters do not beg. I do not give money to a beggar. I take full work from them. In Tamil Nadu, Travancore and other places many sisters and small children have given me various jewels and ornaments. I thank you all and may God bless you to understand what all I have said!”
Though Mahatma Gandhi wanted to stay in Mangalore for four days, he had to abruptly depart from Mangalore to meet the Viceroy in Delhi on his invitation. So Gandhi left Mangalore on the morning of October 27, by sea, to see the Viceroy on November 2. While departing from Mangalore to Bombay, Gandhiji gave a special message to South India:
“I am leaving the South not without much regret. Wherever I have gone I have experienced richest affection from all kinds of people, not excluding those who consider themselves to belong to a different political school. Wherever I went I found a genuine faith in the message of the spinning-wheel. I am therefore leaving the South full of hope. I wish that I had more time at my disposal so as to enable me to overtake the many places whose invitations I was not able to respond to. I ask the people now to translate their faith into practice more than they have hitherto done, and they will discover a potency in khadi which they had not expected.” ]
From these words we understand the significance of Gandhiji’s 1927 visit throughout Madras Presidency including Mangalore.
(Map showing the places of the erstwhile South Kanara mentioned during Gandhiji’s first and the second visits to Mangalore, 1920 and 1927 respectively)
(Source: Gandhian Study Centre, MGM College, Udupi.)