Mr. G.K. Gokhale was a political Guru of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He took help in his every problem. Ha gave solutions and show the path. Here are some examples of it. I am writing a series under this heading. It is first part of it.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to G. K. Gokhale on dated 18 October 1896 that I promised to leave with Mr. Sohoni some further papers in connection with the Indian question in South Africa. I am sorry I forgot all about it. I beg now to send them per book post and hope they will be of some use. We very badly need a committee of active, prominent workers in India for our cause. The question affects not only South African Indians but Indians in all parts of the world outside India. I have no doubt you have read the telegram about the Australian Colonies legislating to restrict the influx of Indian immigrants to that part of the world. It is quite possible that legislation might receive the Royal sanction. I submit that our great men should without delay take up this question. Otherwise within a very short time there will be an end to Indian enterprise outside India.
Gandhi mentioned in his letter dated on 30 January 1902 that we expect to reach Rangoon tomorrow. The weather has been very fine. How I wish you had been on board! Your cough would have left you in two days. I hope, however, that you are feeling better and that you have taken proper advice. How shall I thank you for all your kindness during the time I was under your roof? I cannot easily forget how anxious you were to wipe out the distance that should exist between you and me. I should be quite content to have the privilege of your confidence and guidance. More I do not deserve. It is my honest opinion and I yield to no one in my honesty that you have appraised my services to the country altogether too generously.
Gandhi wrote a letter to G. K. Gokhale on dated 4 March 1902 that having passed five nights in the train. It was with very great difficulty that I found a seat in one of the intermediate carriages and that after I offered to stand the whole night if necessary. As it was, it was merely a trick on the part of the friends of some of the passengers. The former had occupied all the spare room with a view to prevent any more passengers from getting in. They got out as soon as the guard blew the whistle for the train to go. There was absolutely no room in the 3rd class carriages. You cannot adopt gentlemen’s time and travel 3rd. From Benares, however, I travelled 3rd only. In your words, it was only the first plunge that was difficult, the after-effect was all pleasure. The other passengers and I talked freely and at times became even chummy. Benares is probably the worst station for the poor passengers. Corruption is rampant. Unless you are prepared to bribe the police, it is very difficult to get your ticket. They approached me as they approached others several times and offered to buy our tickets if we would pay them a gratuity (or bribe?). Many availed themselves of the offer. Those of us who would not, had to wait nearly one hour after the window was opened, before we could get our tickets and we would be fortunate at that if we did so without being presented with a kick or two from the guardians of law. At Moghalsarai, on the other hand, the ticket master was a very nice man. He said he knew no distinction between a prince and a peasant.
In the carriages we were packed anyhow. There was no restriction as to numbers, though there were notices in the compartments. Night travelling under such circumstances does become rather inconvenient even for the poor 3rd class passengers. There was plague inspection at three different places, but I cannot say it was carried on with any harshness. My experience is yet very little, but the picture that the imagination had drawn of the terrible lot of these passengers has become somewhat toned down. Five days can hardly afford sufficient data for drawing a fair conclusion. I feel all the richer and stronger in spirit for the experience which I would resume at the very first opportunity. I alighted at Benares, Agra, Jeypore1 and Palanpur. The Central Hindu College is not a bad institution though it is difficult to speak with confidence on a hurried visit. “The dream in marble” is certainly worth a visit. Jaipur is a wonderful place. The Albert Museum is a far better building than the Calcutta one and the art section is by itself a study. The Jaipur School of arts appeared to be flourishing under its Bengali Superintendent.
I now come to the most important part of my letter. To Palanpur I went to see merely the State Karbhary2 who is a personal friend of mine. I casually mentioned to him that I might join you in collecting subscriptions for the Ranade memorial fund in April next. The State Karbhari, Mr. Patwari, who is a sincere man, says that it will be a great mistake to start it in April next, especially if we want to do Gujarat. He thinks that we would lose at least Rs. 10,000 thereby. All the States are more or less groaning under the effects of famine and he is strongly of opinion that the collection should be undertaken in December or January next. I place his views before you for what they may be worth. Plague is raging in several parts of Kattywar. Please remember me to Professor Ray. Please excuse the dirty typing. The typewriter is quite different from the excellent one I had there. My things have not yet arrived from Calcutta.
Gandhi wrote a letter to G.K. Gokhale on dated 27 March 1902 that I was exceedingly sorry to hear that you had got fever. I need hardly say that among your many duties one of the most important is to preserve your health for the sake of your country, and, therefore, hope that it was not over-anxiety or over-work that brought on the illness. If I may be permitted to make a remark, strictest regularity in your household would benefit not only you but, what is more, those who may have the privilege of coming in contact with you. I may be wrong, but I feel sure that its observance is not a matter of great difficulty.
I see in the papers that a Bill is to be introduced in the Viceregal Council regulating the emigration of artisans, mountebanks, etc. What may this be? Is it a concession to Colonists or meant really to be in the interests of ourselves? I hear that Mr. Vadia1 passed through Rajkot and collected a few hundred rupees for the Ranade Memorial. I expect to hear from you about your movements during the next few days.
Gandhi wrote a letter to G. K. Gokhale on dated 1 August 1902 that I think I have told you that if I receive the funds expected from Natal, I would settle in Bombay. Having received over Rs. 3000, I have opened an office here and propose giving a year’s trial to this place.
Gandhi wrote a letter to G.K. Gokhale on dated 14 November 1902 that when I was just feeling that I had settled down in Bombay, I received a message from Natal asking me immediately to go there. From the cablegrams exchanged between our people in Natal and myself, I think it is in connection with Mr. Chamberlain’s approaching visit to South Africa that I am required there. I propose to leave by the first steamer available. That would be probably the 20th instant.
I wish I could meet you before my departure. But that seems impossible. I hope you will keep an eye on the Indian question in South Africa. So long as I am there, I would deem it my duty to keep you informed of the position. I consider Lord George Hamilton’s reply to be rather hopeful. And if the movement in India were well directed, I feel sure that much good will be done to the cause. I hope you are keeping good health.
Gandhi wrote a letter to G.K. Gokhale on dated 23 February 1903 that Events have been progressing very fast in this country & naturally I have been in the thick of the fight. The struggle is far more intense than I expected. Herewith statement presented to Mr. Chamberlain at Pretoria and a copy of statement up to date sent to London. There is a great deal of underhand work going on. The old laws are being severely en- forced. And it probably means my having to stop here longer than March. I was just in time to join the Durban deputation that waited on Mr. C. I hope you received copies of the statement. I hope you will do what you can there.
Gandhi wrote a letter to G. K. Gokhale on dated 10 May 1903 that I have settled here under very great difficulties. The question has assumed a very serious aspect & requires very close attention. How long I will have to stop, it is difficult to say. I have hardly time to write about myself. The enclosed cuttings are most important. I notice that the Bombay Chamber of Commerce has sent a strong protest. But it is, I fear, uninformed. The Cape Act is certainly bad. It required amending. But it is well-nigh impossible to have an absolutely open door. Under it many white aliens have been turned away. It seems to be the settled policy of the Colonists that they would regulate immigration into their country. The real & effective stand we have therefore to take up is to fight legislation based on colour. The Cape & Natal Acts are general in terms. They hit us hard because the education test does not include knowledge of the Indian languages. The Cape Act was drafted so as to include Indian languages but it was amended in Committee. The legislation here is against Indians (described as the “aboriginal races of Asia”) as such & deprives them of the right of owning property, etc. You will find the full text of these laws in the papers sent before.
If your health is good & if time permits it, please study the question & direct the movement in India against it. The more I observe the effect of emigration of our people on their character, the more convinced I become that, if an open door is kept for us to migrate to the colonies even the under restrictions of a general character applicable to all, there are great possibilities for us.