Harilal was first son of Mahatma Gandhi. He loved him very much. But Harilal oppose some decisions of Mahatma Gandhi. Some differences created in between them.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Parsee Rustomji about Harilal Gandhi on dated 1 March 1902 that the children are here with me. They are for the present attending the local school. Gokaldas and Harilal are studying in standard IV of the secondary school. Manilal studies privately; he has not been admitted into any specific standard at school. I hope you have recovered completely by now. It is necessary to take proper care of your health there. It is essential that one should observe moderation and regularity in the matter of food. Please give my compliments to those who may enquire after me.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Laxmidas Gandhi about Harilal on dated 27 May 1906 that It is well if Harilal is married; it is also well if he is not. For the present at any rate I have ceased to think of him as a son.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Chhaganlal Gandhi about Harilal on dated 29 January 1907 that I came to know from Harilal yesterday that the money had not been paid for the tea we bought from Sanghavi nor was the bill credited to him in our books. Please tell me what you know about this, and pay up the bill for the tea if it has not been already paid.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Chhaganlal Gandhi about Harilal on dated 7 February 1907 that Harilal should look after the Gujarati work and Maganlal should look after the accounts, that is, the original entries should be made by him. Though Harilal has agreed to stay, I find some uncertainty in what he writes. Therefore, I wrote to you to treat him in such a manner as to have a steadying influence on his mind.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Chhaganlal Gandhi about Harilal on dated 20 April 1907 that With reference to the £10 withdrawn by Harilal from your father at Rajkot, I am crediting the Press with £10 and debiting my private account, and, I take it, you will withdraw the £10 from the Press, unless you have done so already.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Laxmidas Gandhi about Harilal on dated 20 April1907 that If Gokuldas and Harilal have gone astray, I am not responsible. Gokuldas left me and was spoiled by the pernicious atmosphere there; the same thing happened with Harilal to some extent. Nevertheless, neither of them has become as corrupt as you think. They have better character than other boys. It is only when I judge them by a standard of my own that I find them lacking. Harilal has greatly profited by coming here and, if I mistake not, his character has improved. Since Harilal is already betrothed, I have nothing to say against it. At the same time I cannot say that I am pleased about it.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Chhaganlal Gandhi about Harilal on dated before 11 May 1907 that Ask Harilal to write most of the letters, but you must sign them. Harilal should do all the work under your supervision. You will be considered the Chief Editor of the Gujarati section, though for the present mere supervision should suffice. If Harilal cannot cope with both proofs, you will yourself have to take up the Gujarati proofs.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote on the trial of Harilal on dated 28 July 1907 that six more Indian hawkers1 appeared in D Court before Mr. P. C. Dalmahoy yesterday July 28, charged with hawking without licences. These included Thambi Naidoo, who went to prison in January last with Mr. Gandhi, and who was sentenced to four days’ imprisonment on Tuesday of last week for hawking without a licence, and Harilal Gandhi, eldest son of Mr. M. K. Gandhi, who was arrested some days ago at Volksrust [for failing to register] and warned to appear at Pretoria to apply for a registration certificate.2 Young Gandhi came to Johannesburg, and immediately commenced hawking fruit, when he was arrested. Mr. Cramer prosecuted, Mr. Gandhi appearing for the defence.
The first to be charged was an Indian named Hera Mariji. Formal evidence as to accused’s having been hawking within the municipality without a licence was given, and the accused, who pleaded guilty, was fined £1, with the alternative of seven days’ imprisonment with hard labour. The next to be placed in the dock were Harilal Mohandas Gandhi (son of Mr. M. K. Gandhi), Thambi Naidoo and Govindasamy Kistnasamy, who were all described as Indian hawkers. They pleaded guilty.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Maganlal Gandhi about Harilal on dated 28 July 1907 that I get no time these days to write to you or to anyone else. I know that you want to join the struggle. But you need not think as if you were doing nothing by remaining there. It was necessary for Harilal alone to come over. I think he did a very good thing by coming here and going to jail. Since I could not go, I could be happy only if Harilal went.3 I think it has been a very good experience for Harilal himself.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote in Indian Opinion about Harilal on dated 8 August 1908 that 1 have often advised that no one should give his thumb-impression on arriving at Volksrust. People have not followed this advice. I have not insisted on the point, but the time has now come for me to insist on it. Thumb-impressions are now asked for at Volksrust under the obnoxious law, and they should not, therefore, be given. This object also, I thought, I could easily achieve through Harilal.
I want every Indian to do what Harilal has done. Harilal is only a child. He may have merely deferred to his father’s wishes in acting in this manner. It is essential that every Indian should act on his own as Harilal did [at my instance] and I wish everyone would do so
Mahatma Gandhi wrote in Indian Opinion about Harilal on dated 10 August 1908 that An unusually large crowd of Indians assembled in B Court yesterday afternoon [August 10] to hear the case of Harilal Mohandas Gandhi, a son of Mr. M. K. Gandhi, aged 20, and described as a student, who was brought before Mr. H. H. Jordan on a charge of contravening the Asiatic Amendment Act by failing to be in possession of a registration certificate.
The accused pleaded guilty, and was defended by his father. Mr. A. Cramer prosecuted. Superintendent Vernon, of B Division, gave evidence of arrest, and further stated that he called upon the accused to produce his certificate of registration, who, however, failed to do so, saying that he did not possess one.
Mr. Gandhi, on behalf of the accused, said that the latter had no desire to leave the Colony, but nevertheless he was desirous that the Court should make an order for the accused to leave the Colony within 24 hours. He made the request because two other Indians whose time under the Act would expire on Wednesday would be ready to go to jail. He (Mr. Gandhi) hoped His Worship would adopt this course, as the accused’s affairs were in his hands. Mr. Jordan ordered the accused to leave the Colony within seven days.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote in Indian Opinion at Harilal Gandhi’s case on dated 15 August 1908 that they swooped down on Harilal Gandhi today. He was arrested on the charge of being in the Transvaal without a register. The case was heard at 2 o’clock.2 Mr. Gandhi asked for twenty-four hours’ notice since he [Harilal] had no preparations to make and had made up his mind to go to jail. But the Magistrate gave him seven days’ notice. I hope that after seven days we shall find him engaged in hard physical labour in jail. Jail life is good education for anyone who accepts it in full knowledge of what it means. It is an important part of children’s training that they should be taught to bear hardships from their earliest years.
Mr. George Godfrey, who has only recently started practice, has announced that he will not charge any fees for appearing in any case which serves the community as a whole. This offer deserves commendation and Mr. Godfrey must be given credit for putting his education to the best use.
Mr. Harilal Gandhi has arrived here after his release from Volksrust. He spent three nights in jail with the Natal businessmen. He reports that the prisoners are keeping good health. They cheerfully carry out their allotted tasks. Now they are not brought out [to break stones on the roads] but are made to sweep the garden and do similar chores inside the jail. Mr. Dawad Mahomed is happy as a bird with the song constantly on his lips; “Rustom, the only one who became a benefactor equal to Vikram
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Chanchalbehn Gandhi about Harilal on dated 16 January 1909 that I was arrested, deported, again arrested and am now released on bail. I shall now proceed to Johannesburg. You will know more from Manilal. I feel unhappy that I was not able to have much talk, rather any talk, with you. But such is my plight. I purposely dictated to you that day. I want to make you adept in such work. I would even keep you with me when Rami is grown Gandhiji was arrested on this day at Volkrust on his way to Johannesburg after seeing Mrs. Gandhi, who was seriously ill at Phoenix.
Be sure that if you give up the idea of staying with Harilal for the present, it will do well to both of you. Harilal will grow by staying apart and will perform his other duties. Love for you does not consist only in staying with you. At times one has to live apart just for the sake of love. This is true in your case. From every side, I see that your separation is for your benefit. But it can be a source of happiness only if you do not become restless owing to separation. I think Harilal will have to stay at Johannesburg till the struggle is over.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 27 January 1909 that your letter to hand. I can see that you are unhappy. I have got to accept your opinion as to whether you would be happy or not on account of separation.4 However, I see that you will have to undergo imprisonment for a long period. I would like to know what you think about it. Please write to me in detail. The struggle is likely to be a prolonged one. There are some indications of its being a short one also. There is a likelihood of Lord Curzon interceding. Let me know what arrangement should be made in regard to Chanchal during your absence. More when I have time.
Lord Curzon, in his reply of February 2, 1909, wrote that, in his discussions with Generals Botha and Smuts, he had been assured of their anxiety to treat the British Indians with liberality and justice. lord Curzon felt that the matter would be taken up as a broader issue later between the Union and Home Governments
The date is inferred from the reference to the probable intercession by Lord Curzon; I have not been able to follow what you say about taking a stone in exchange for a pie. In what context have you written that? You may not have to come here before the 5th.
Gandhi spoke at Johannesburg Meeting on dated 24 May 1909 that after so many months I have this opportunity to see you and to be with you. I am glad of it. But I am not happy at my release, for our leaders, and aged ones at that, are still in jail. They have still more than two months to put in to complete their term of imprisonment. Among them, as you know, are Dawad Sheth, Mr. Parsee Rustomjee, Mr. Sorabji and others? Speaking of what touches me personally, I may say that my son Harilal is also in jail. Harilal Gandhi, who was released on August 9 after serving six months’ imprisonment, did go to Durban to see Manilal who was ill, but returned to the Transvaal soon after in connection with the struggle.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Maganlal Gandhi about Harilal on dated 21 August 1910 that Harilal cannot go to India to escort Chanchi. We are poor and cannot spend money like that. Moreover, a man who has joined the struggle cannot thus go away for three months. There would be nothing wrong if Chanchi goes to India in some good company. Many poor women do so. We do not want our womenfolk to remain delicate. I for one am a farmer and I wish you all to become farmers, or to continue as such if you have already become farmers. My way of life has completely changed here. The whole day is spent in digging the land and other manual labour instead of in writing and explaining things to people. I prefer this work and consider this alone to be my duty. Ramdas dug a pit, 3 feet broad and 3 feet deep, and half of another, working till one o’clock today. If he continues to work like this he will be a very good boy. Now I do not see him engrossed in thought as he used to be in Phoenix. This is the result of manual labour. In pampering this corpulent body that has been given to us and pretending that we earn [our living] by our intellect, we become sinners and are tempted to fall into a thousand and one evil ways. I regard the Kaffirs, with whom I constantly work these days, as superior to us. What they do in their ignorance we have to do knowingly. In outward appearance we should look just like the Kaffirs. From this you may deduce other reasons also for Harilal not going to India to escort Chanchi.
For your short temper too I think this is the cure. The body is like an ox or donkey and should therefore be made to carry a load. Then the short temper, etc., will be cured. I am constantly trying to keep away the shortcomings of Phoenix from this Farm. That is why a different standard of living has been laid down. If instead of each cultivating his own plot separately all cultivate the entire land together, we can produce a larger crop more quickly. I do not think this is possible there for the present. But I did make the suggestion that it would be good if those who could co-operate cultivated their plots together. That suggestion was made with special reference to Purshottamdas and you. It has many other implications. However, I have written this to let you know the current trend of my mind. The proceeds from the sale of stock in the Press cannot by any means be considered as profit. They can be credited to the capital account and nowhere else. We need not consider whether we have gained or lost by giving up the job work; we are rid of a headache thereby.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 5 March 1911 that I had your letter when it was least expected. We are all surprised whenever a letter comes from you. The general expectation is to have no letter from you. What you write about Ba is not true. Had she intended to go she would hardly have been scared by my stipulation. And my condition also was meaningless. If she had wanted to return she could have borrowed money from anybody and done so. The fact is that Ba does not know her own mind. However I have nothing to say against your pleading for her.
There is nothing to be ashamed of in your being weak in mathematics and general literary education. You could have learnt them had I given you the necessary opportunity. The practical knowledge boys in India possess is not due to the education they receive in schools, but is due to the unique Indian way of life. It is due to the meritorious deeds of our ancestors that we find healthy standards of behavior, thrift, etc., around us, in spite of the repeated inroads of modern education, the immorality that we see among the people and their growing selfishness. This I am writing to you to give you courage and ask you to go deeper into the matter and observe things for yourself. It is not right to attribute the relation of cause and effect between things after just a superficial glance.
I will not stand in the way of your studies or other ambitions that you may have, provided there is nothing positively immoral about them. You may therefore cast off all fear and pursue your studies as long as you like. I may not like some of your views, but having no suspicion about your character I do not have any anxiety on your account.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Maganlal Gandhi about Harilal on dated 8 May 1911 that Harilal has taken a most extraordinary step. The fault lies with me. Perhaps one may blame the circumstances. In any case, Harilal is not to blame.
It was in 1911 that Harilal left his father’s home, returned after a trip to Delagoa Bay, and left again after discussing the matter with his father this time for India. Harilal returned this morning. I have always believed that he will never take a step which he knows to be wrong. Now I believe that all the more. I am waiting to see what he does next.
Mrs. Vogl’s Indian Bazaar mentioned in the postscript was held once in 1910 and again in 1911, but from the reference to Harilal Gandhi, who finally left his father’s home for India between May 15 and May 18, 1911, letters to Maganlal Gandhi, 15-5-1911; 18-5-1911 it is clear that the letter was written in 1911.
The Thakar incident and Maganlal’s projected visit to England are both discussed in this letter as well as in the preceding item. The sequence of events would suggest that this letter was written later. In the May 18 letter Maganlal Gandhi’s knowledge of the English language is discused in the context of some remark which Chhaganlal Gandhi appears to have made, and Maganlal Gandhi had evidently brought up the subject. In this letter, Gandhiji has heard more of this from Dr. Pranjivan Mehta to whom Chhaganal Gandhi evidently addressed this remark.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 27 May 1911 that I have the letter you wrote before leaving Delagoa Bay. It is desirable that Rami1 grows up under the influence of strictly Indian ideas. Accordingly, I think you have done right in deciding not to send her chocolates. However, I should caution you against taking the line that ‘this must be done because Bapu wants it so, From among the ideas I suggest, you should put only those into practice that appeal to you. I should like you to grow up in freedom. I know your motives are good. Whenever your ideas are mistaken, they will therefore get corrected automatically.
The prisoners have not been released so far but they will soon be. It appears that the cable I sent you about the need for your applying for registration has not reached you. I sent it care of Nanji Dulabhdas. Keep reading Indian Opinion carefully while you are there.
Gandhi wrote in Indian Opinion on dated 24 June 1911 in the honour to a satyagrahi that When Mr. Harilal Gandhi arrived at Zanzibar on his way to India; he was recognized and given a welcome by the Zanzibar Indians. He demurred but to no avail. He was taken to Mr. Wali Mohammed Nazar Ali’s house where he was entertained lavishly. Replying to a reception given in his honour, Mr. Harilal Gandhi pointed out that the Transvaal campaign had shown what an unfailing remedy satyagraha was. Should there be foul play yet again, satyagrahis; whichever part of the world they might happen to be in, would return to join the struggle, and so on.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 3 July 1911 that I got your letter from Zanzibar at Phoenix. There could not have been any subsequent to that; I am expecting one again in a few days. As regards the reception you were given at Zanzibar, I was happy that most of those who took part were Khojas3 and Secondly, that they were not put off by the mention of Satyagraha. Your reply was good demonstrations on that day should, therefore, go to the local fighters.
Here, registration has not yet begun. I expect to send the first list to Mr. Chamney tomorrow. I had a talk about a good many things with Manilal. He is thinking of going to England next year if the campaign is not resumed. His work in the press is good. I have probably written to you about the vow Medh has taken. I have now taken up school work on the Farm. I wonder how long I can keep it up. Pillay’s children have all left and he himself is not here either.
Thambi Naidoo now lives in Johannesburg all the time. P.K. Naidoo is here. Be gone to Phoenix with me. It was found necessary to take her. I have had no letter from Chanchi for a long time now. Your brothers are all happy.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 25 July 1911 that there should have been a letter from you from India. You met Chi. Chhaganlal there, and he is now already here. I do hope there will be one by next mail. Chhaganlal has brought news that Revashankerbhai advised you to join some commercial class in Bombay, deprecating [the idea of your going to] Ahmedabad. Chhaganlal also told me that you, on the other hand, continued to prefer Ahmedabad, up to the time he left. I still consider Ahmedabad to be better. It serves our purpose better. Though English may be less easy to learn in Ahmedabad, Gujarati, Sanskrit, etc., can certainly be done well there. I personally do not like Bombay at all. You may, however, do what you think well.
I see from Chanchi’s letter that Manilal is suffering from a serious illness. Please try if you can to persuade him to come here. Let him and Bali both come. Open air and nutritious but simple food is the only remedy for a tuberculosis patient. Please write to Chanchi not to expect regular letter from me. The burden on me at present is especially heavy; I go to Johannesburg only on Mondays. This is how things go on: physical labour on the farm up to 10 a.m.; teaching work at the school from 1.00 to 4.30 p.m.; meal at 5.30 p.m. and office and other correspondence at night. As I do everything singlehanded, I have no time left and I do writing work till late at night. It is 9.45 p.m. now as I write this and I have more letters to write yet.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated about 7 October 1911 that Manilal Adalaja has expired.This is a cruel blow. You should take a lesson from it. I wish that in your infatuation for modern education you would not sacrifice your health. I shall write no more, since I have already told you of my views on the subject. I have received what looks like an invitation to be President of the Congress. I have accepted it on condition that I have the utmost freedom to express my views. I do not covet the position but, in case I do have to come, we shall have occasion to meet.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 18 February 1912 that I have had a letter from you after many months, You say you try to be regular, but you seem to have failed in your effort, and the fresh hope you held out to me has not been fulfilled. Since you wrote last, there have been two posts without a letter from you. Chanchi has expressed a desire to stay on with you and asked for my opinion. I have replied to her, and given her other news as well. She will send the letter on to you. If she does not, ask for it. I do not therefore repeat its contents. I have no objection to your living together. Do what you like and live as you deem proper. You’re staying with Sheth Miankhan is all right. Press him once again to accept some rent. I shall speak to Chandabhai when I meet him.
Why Chanchi [should have] the same disease as Ba.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 29 August 1912 that It would seem you have made up your mind not to write. I enclose a letter from uncle Karsandas6. I just do not understand this debt. I do not know how the expenditure on Gokuldas’s marriage came to be incurred, and by whom. If you remember anything, however, let me know what expenditure I had agreed to. It is unlikely that I agreed to so large an amount. All the same, tell me what you know.
At present, preparations for Professor Gokhale’s visit are going on. Mr. Kotwal has been working hard on the Farm. Jekibehn has also. This as well as the preceding speech was made at the same meeting.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated that 5 September 1912 that I have your letter. I am surprised. I cannot recall a single month during which I did not write to you. I am certain that my letters to you have miscarried. You complain that there has been no letter from me
and say you are sad on that account. We, in the absence of letters from you....3 let us see what happens at the address. Ba, Devdas and I have come over to Phoenix. I brought Ba over because she was very ill. Devdas too was very keen to come here. The understanding with him is that he should continue at Phoenix till my next visit; learn composing while still attending to studies and live on a salt-free diet for 28 days in the month. For the present at least, he does all this. I have made further changes in my way of life, which I hope to describe when I have the time.
Since the Immigration Officer here is strict nowadays, Mr. Pragji has not landed as yet. He will probably do so tomorrow. Mr. Sorabji continues to write. Manilal is busy with his studies. Ramdas, Mr. Kotwal, Jekibehn, Ani etc., are on the Farm. Mr. Kotwal and I also live on one meal a day. After hearing from Chanchi about your one-meal practice, I, too, felt strongly inclined to adopt it. Mr. Kotwal offering to join me, the idea was immediately put into practice. Follow any course that you like, so long as you are mindful of your health. I shall not forgive you if you ruin your health. I cannot help feeling that the time and money spent on French are being wasted. I can give you no idea of how much better it would have been if you had spent this valuable time on Sanskrit. The atmosphere, however, in which you move nowadays being corrupt, you thought of French. What a good thing it would have been if you had taken up Sanskrit! Though that might have delayed your passing the examination by a year. Knowledge of Sanskrit opens the doors to all the Indian languages. These doors, you went out of your way to shut. I make these observations, since you opened the subject of French again. I should be happier if you would reconsider the matter even now and start on Sanskrit, sacrificing a year and spending Rs.8 instead of Rs.7 on private coaching. Do as you will, however; I do not wish to stand in the way of your joining any standard you choose. Treat my advice as no more than that of a close friend.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 16 October 1912 that I have your letter after so many months. My letters to you seem to have gone astray. You have not understood the step I have taken regarding Sorabji. The chief thing is that he is a Parsi, and it befits a Hindu to encourage him. If Sorabji succeeds in becoming a barrister, his responsibilities will increase. Sorabji’s services cannot be used beyond a certain point, but this is not true of Medh. That is why I would not encourage Medh to be a barrister. How then could I ever encourage you [to become one]? If I did, all my ideas would go by the board; though, at present, you will not appreciate them. We shall discuss them if and when we meet. Just now you should only attend to the strengthening of your character in your own way—that is all I want. I am sure you will change your ideas in future.
You have again succumbed to passion in regard to Chanchal. I can well understand it. The fault does not lie with the Ahmedabad atmosphere. The thing3 itself is so difficult that you cannot attain it without great effort and careful and sustained thought. If you, however, continue in your endeavor you may someday overcome the weakening passion. You will be a different man altogether when you have succeeded in overcoming it. You will have a new strength. From your letter I gather that Chanchi will not now be able to come here for a couple of years.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 26 January 1913 that
Medh has had a letter is which his father gives news of your failure. You should have written to me. I have not felt disappointed over your failure. Since you have resolved to pass that examination, go on working for it again. Send me your question-papers. You must have preserved them. Let me know in which subject you failed.
I read in Mumbai Samachar that you were present at the Gokhale meeting. Give me your impressions of it. I am arranging to go there in six months. I should certainly be able to go if a law satisfying to our demands is passed; so it appears. I have therefore settled in Phoenix. I don’t wish to stir out from here for five months.
There are in all 30 children to be taught, including those in Phoenix. Jekibehn, Miss West, one Patel named Maganbhai, Kashi and I do the teaching. I get up at 4.45 in the morning and wake up the children at five. The press hands, the schoolchildren and I do farming from 6 to 8. Between 8 and 8.30, the students and the press hands have breakfast. At 8.30, all the press hands return to the land and work there until 11. I take the children to the school, where they are taught to read and write from 8.30 to 10.30. From 10.30 to 11, again, they learn farm-work.
Between 11 and 12.30, people bathe and eat. From 12.30 to 4.30, work in the press where the older boys train for two hours; the last two hours [are spent on] reading and writing in the school. I cannot at all look after the school in the afternoons. I may be able to do so, I think, when things settle down a bit.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 14 March 1913 that after many months I have has a letter from you. Every time you express regret and say you are sorry for not writing regularly.Your repentace has no meaning either for you or for me. Repentance will bear fruit only when it relates to one’s failure to do a thing despite one’s best effort and when it is followed by greater vigilance in guarding against further failure. Your regret amounts to mere formality. Do children naveto be formal with parents? As soon as I knew of your examination result from another source, I wrote you a letter1. But it could not be posted until now,. Because the diary containing your address had been misplaced. You will therefore get that letter as well as this one about the same time. I am not the only one to wait anxiously for a letter from you. Ba keeps on inquiring and so do Miss Schlesin and the others. Your mind has not become calm even there. I do not understand what it is that you want. All that I can make out is that you want to live in Ahmedabad and with Chanchi. Perhaps you wrote to the Doctor too, about this, you may live as suits you best.
In reply to the second portion of your letter, I shall say only this: “Live in any way that suits you, but strive to realize God anyhow.” I shall not argue. Our paths may well be different. If our destination is the same, we shall meet there. What would it matter even if we should follow contrary paths? I am not so arrogant as to believe that I am wholly right and others, in the wrong. Of course, I hold on to the idea that I must do what seems to be my duty. Though I know that we do not become equal even if I give you this freedom, because, in following a course opposed to my ideas, you have to depend on me for money. I wish I could release you even from this situation of dependence and then argue with you as an equal. But how is this possible? If, impelled by my sense of duty, I have erred in giving up the source of my income; I shall of course have to repent for that. Have I not, however, done an injustice because in doing this I failed to take my sons’ interests into account?
Manilal is deep in his studies. He is interested in them. I give him an hour and a half every day. Let me know what books you Read for your examination, I mean. Send me some samples of your English composition.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 18 September 1913 that You have not kept your promise about writing to me. You gave such a promise more than once and you have broken it every time. I am very unhappy that your health has gone down. I always thought it would. I even warned you. You know that, though you went with my consent, I did not want you to go. Even now, your way of life and your ideas do not appeal to me. Personally, I feel that the education you are having is of the wrong kind. You have harmed Chanchi’s interests and now you are harming those of the children.
Still, I regard you as friend, with due affection, so that I do not wish to order you. I want to bring you round only by appealing to you. I do not wish to exploit your filial piety to make you do anything. There is no anger in this. I do this as a matter of duty. Still I must advise you to shake off this craze for examinations. If you pass, it won’t impress me much. If you fail, you will feel very unhappy. However, take the course you think is best. If you give up the thought of examinations and if, when you get this letter, the struggle here is continuing, come over here along with Chanchi, both of you prepared for imprisonment. Chanchi has otherwise no right to come now. If the struggle ends soon, I shall go there immediately and we shall have a good hug and a talk.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 17 October 1913 that it hurts me to have no letters from you. Your lethargy in this matter makes you doubly guilty. The first guilt is that you neglect the duty which you owe to your father, and the second that you break your promise to me that you would write regularly. There have been three mails from India and no letter from you. Mr. Sorabji and Ratanshi3 left after you did, but I have had more letters from them than from you. Chanchi writes more often than you do. Ba, too, is unhappy because there are no letters from you.
Both of you may come over here and get arrested. Chanchi may come while the fight is on only if she has the courage to go to jail. I have already written to you to say that you should not wait for the examination. If you yourself wish otherwise, I do not want to come in your way. Ask for money from Doctor Saheb4. It is likely that I shall be in jail when you arrive. I think I shall succeed in getting myself arrested somehow or other.5 I have been making efforts to this end. If, before this letter reaches you, you hear that there has been a settlement, there will be no need for you to come over. I want you to be fit and at peace with yourself.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 2 March 1914 that I have your letter. You apologize in every letter of yours and put up a defence as well. It all seems to me sheer hypocrisy now. For years, you have been slack in writing letters, and then coming forward with apologies. Will this go on till death, I forgiving every time? And what is the point of my forgiving? Forgiving has a meaning only to the extent that the person who has apologized does not err again. My forgiving you all the time means that I should go on doing my duty as father though you may not do yours as son. My duty, of course, I shall continue to do according to my judgment. I don’t believe that you are impatient to see us both; equally, this idea that you were to come here sounds insincere to me. Does one who really means to come trumpet it aloud? Now, of course, your coming is pointless, as you say. I see that your ideas and mine differ very much. Your conception of your duty as son differs from mine, but I have no right to enquire what your duty is. If you go on doing your duty as you in all sincerity conceive it to be, I shall be perfectly satisfied. Whether your idea of duty is sincere or not, I and others will be able to judge from your actions. It seems you have also applied your mind to what my duty is, and in this respect, too, our ideas differ.
It should be for me to consider what my duty is. You may, nevertheless, continue to tell me what you think. I did not reply to your letter. I got it after my release from jail. Your suggestions, however, were carried out; that is, I wrote to Revashankerbhai that he should have a talk with you and give you more money as may seem necessary. You want my advice regarding Chanchi, and also about your studies. You violate all the conditions I had made and you promised to fulfil. You were asked never to go in for studies at the cost of your health. You have failed to take care of it. No wonder that Ramdas and Manilal have outdone you. And Ramdas has put in a fine effort, indeed, and grown in size as well. Manilal, too, has plenty of strength and would have been stronger yet if he had not taken to the evil ways of pleasure. Even their studies I take to be sounder than yours. Your mind is now running after Bombay. You say you have Revashankerbhai’s consent for that. What weight can that consent carry with me? I would submit in all humility to Revashankerbhai’s judgment of a diamond. How could I listen to him in the matter of studies? You are, so it seems to me, in a state of stupefaction. What, then, am I to say?
You can only think of Davar’s classes. That simply stuns me. Do you think it will be much of an achievement to pass the matriculation examination? I do not even understand what it is that you want to do. I would only advise you to do nothing. Wait till my return. Meanwhile, read as you like. Do not, however, start a new venture. Later, you may talk things over with me, but only if you want to. If, indeed, you wish to go ahead with your plan for studies, you should have Chanchi stay with me and should yourself stay away from me. I shall supply your needs. Think of Chanchi when you turn your mind to earning. If you wish to live as I want you to, stay with me and be my right hand. Use your own judgment in all these matters, taking no thought of my personal inclinations. Weighing my advice against that of others, do what you think best. I am a father who is prejudiced against you. I do not approve of your ways at all. I doubt whether you have any love for us. This statement sounds very harsh, but I see extreme insincerity in your letters. If I am mistaken in this, consider that I am in Kurukshetra1 and so forgive me, showing me the great battlefield of the Mahabharata, figuratively used for turmoil or conflict.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 14 November 1917 that today is Diwali day. May the New Year bring you prosperity? I wish that all your aspirations are fulfilled and that all of you increase in your wealth of character, and pray that you realize more and more that this is the only real Lakshmi and our highest good lies in the worship of this alone.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 1 May 1918 that I got your letter in Delhi. What shall I write to you? Everyone acts according to his nature. The true end of all effort in life is to gain control over the impulses of one’s nature; that is dharma. Your faults will be forgotten if you make this effort. Since you are emphatic that you did not commit the theft, I may believe you but the world will not. Bear the world’s censure and be more careful in future. You should give up your notion of what the world means. Your world is your employer. Have no fear if you are tried in a court of law. If you take my advice, do not engage a lawyer. Explain everything to the advocate on the other side.
You had in your hand a diamond which you have thrown away, thanks to your rash and impatient nature. You are no child. Not a little have you tasted of the good things of life. If you have had enough of that, turn back. Don’t lose heart. If you are speaking the truth, don’t lose your faith in it. There is no God but Truth. One’s virtues are no dead matter but are all life. It is a thoughtless and self-willed life you have lived so far. I should like you to bring wisdom and discipline into it.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal on dated 9 July 1918 that I have your letter. If it was cruel to say what I felt was true, then certainly my letter was cruel. I repeat that the world will most emphatically not consider you innocent. Whatever you may have said in your sincerity, Narottam Sheth could have had no idea about your speculation. You have followed one wrong thing with another. It was not enough for you that you had lost ten thousand rupees. But there is no use arguing with you. May God give you wisdom. If I have made a mistake, I will set it right. If you think you can point out any, do so even now. I understand what you say about your enlisting. I made the suggestion at a time when I did not doubt your truthfulness. I do not think I have any interest in it now. I can give you no idea of what my condition has been since I began to doubt your truthfulness.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 29 August 1918 that I have your letter. My health is improving. There is no cause for anxiety. I shall have to be in bed for some days more. The nursing leaves nothing to be desired. I cannot imagine even an emperor being better looked after. I was very pleased to learn that you cook your own food and that you enjoy doing so. Maybe you will find this an instructive experience; understand through it the secret of life and, repairing past mistakes, bring light into your life. I wish you do so. I shall be happy if you keep writing regularly.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 9 September 1918 that It is true that cooking takes some time but I believe that this time is not wasted. It is also generally not true that some more important work could be done during that time. Ninety-five per cent of the people waste more time every day than is taken up in cooking. I am being rather liberal in my estimate in saying ninety-five per cent. You will be surprised in how short a time a person doing his own cooking finishes it when he is very busy. If I give my own example, when I was very busy with studies in England I did not take more than half an hour in the morning and in the evening for cooking. In the morning,
I used to prepare porridge, and this took exactly twenty minutes; if I cooked in the evening, I prepared soup. As it did not require stirring, the only time spent was in getting the materials ready. After putting the thing on the fire, I would sit by and read. Occasionally, students come to me from Benares. I ask all of them what they do. Most Brahrnins cook their own food. One of them told me that he only prepared khichdi and ate it with milk and pickles. While he was eating the meal, the bhakhri would be getting baked. This bhakhri he would eat with milk in the evening. In this, he spent three-quarters of an hour in all. This is an extreme case I have cited. I do not want you to be all that particular. This is only to illustrate that it is possible to do one’s cooking in a very short time. That student was quite healthy and strong, because khichdi, milk or curds and pickles gave him all the nourishment he needed. Anyone who can get good milk or curds will care little for other things. Do not imagine that I write this to suggest that you should always cook yourself. I have said all this only in order that, on occasion, you should not hesitate in the least to do your own cooking and when you have to do it]be so unhappy, all without reason, that you were wasting your time. Otherwise, when you have mended your ways, I can have no objection to your calling Chanchi, having good things to eat and enjoying life, within limits. Only see that you do not repeat your mistakes. I want you not to be too eager to get rich quickly.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 2 October 1918 that I have a feeling that I am now going. I have very little time left. The body is becoming weaker and weaker. I am not able to eat anything. But my heart is at peace and so I do not find the going at all difficult. I think whatever inheritance I am leaving to you brothers is appropriate. What would you have gained if I had left money? But the inheritance of character which I am leaving to you is invaluable in my view. I wish you to cherish it. Follow the path of religion.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 31 October 1918 that I got your postcard. There is nothing particular to write about today. I am always thinking how you may come to be at peace with yourself, and remain so. If I could help you by any word of mine and if I knew that word, I would write it at once. I do not know whether you have understood what this world means, but I have the clearest vision of it every moment and I see it exactly as it has been described by the sages, and that so vividly that I feel no interest in it. Activity is inescapable so long as there is this body and, therefore, the only thing that pleases me is to be ever occupied with activity of the utmost purity. It is no exaggeration to say that I experience wave after wave of joy from the practice of self-restraint which such work requires.
One will find true happiness in the measure that one understands this and lives accordingly. If this calamity1 puts you in a frame of mind in which such happiness will be yours, we may even regard it as welcome. If your mind can ever disengage itself from its concerns, ponder over all this. We are all well. Those who were ill are all on the way to recovery—I too am doing well. I take it that you show all the letters to Ba and hence I do not write separately to her.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 23 November 1918 that I have your letter and the translation. I am still confined to bed. But I have gone through your corrections. Once again I have to hurt you. If I had been satisfied with your corrections, I would not have been so impudent as to reject the translation after it was printed. But I withheld the publication of your translation only when I was convinced that your translation needed drastic changes. It still retains what appear to me to be mistakes. My complaint is that the translation cannot pass as good Gujarati. This defect remains even after your corrections. Lest I be unfair to you even unwittingly, I placed the translation before the teachers. They went through it carefully and expressed the view that the Gujarati of the translation did not do justice to the original that it did not convey the strict sense of the original, and the language appeared clumsy. While they were going through the translation, an inmate of the Ashram having only passable familiarity with Gujarati was sitting by. He was not aware of what the teachers were doing. But when he heard the translation, he commented that he was not able to follow the Gujarati language.
Under these circumstances it seems only proper not to take the risk of publishing the translation as it is. I had hoped that you would discard your translation and do it afresh. Instead of going over the same translation thrice, if you had labored as much over a fresh translation, both of us would have been satisfied. But how could you do a fresh translation so long as you do not see the faults that we see in your translation? I am returning you translation. After I recover, if you can spend a few days at the Ashram, we shall go over the translation together and I shall give my comments. I naturally wish that you should be able to see the faults in it.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 26 November 1918 that I gave you some news about myself yesterday. I give you more today. My health is both good and bad. I feel that the improvement which should have taken place in some respects has not come about. I cannot complain about food now. Everyone says that it would be better for me to go out for some time, and I also think I should. I have been, therefore, thinking of doing so, and am making arrangements. It will be good if you come over before I leave. Whatever you wish to say, you may pour out before me without any hesitation. If you cannot give vent to your feelings before me, before whom else can you do so? I shall be a true friend to you. What would it matter if there should be any difference of opinion between us about any scheme of yours? We shall have a quiet talk. The final decision will rest with you. I fully realize that your state at present is like that of a man dreaming. Your responsibilities have increased, your trials have increased and your temptations will increase likewise. To a man with a family, the fact of being such, that is, having a wife is a great check.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 20 January 1919 that the tragedy that has befallen you distresses me. We are so eager to live that the moment of death particularly that of a dear one, always frightens us. I have often felt that it is at such a moment that we are truly tested. Anyone even the least little bit aware of the atman is able to understand the nature of death. It is futile to mourn. These thoughts are not new but if someone voices them in times of trouble, they console us. It is with that purpose in mind that I write this.
I wish you not to be distressed at all over the translation. Your translation does not give the impression that you have rushed through it anyhow; but only a few display the love that one should feel for one’s mother tongue. I notice in your translation the mistakes that everybody commits. I am sure you will notice them now that I have pointed them out . . .4 Unfortunately, I noticed the translation after the whole of it had already been printed. I urge you to do the translation afresh instead of revising what you have done. It will not take much time and the translation will be readable.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 23 February 1919 that Just as I was about to start this letter, I had to hold a court. The accused was Rasik, and the complainant an innocent dog. The latter declared by his wailing that he had been assaulted by someone. I discovered that the guilty party was Rasik. The accused admitted his guilt and confessed previous offences as well. I thought of Lord Krishna and Shishupal. Shri Krishnachandra had forgiven a hundred offences, of the latter. And so the court had compassion and forgave the accused, Rasik, five offences, warning him at the same time that, if he repeated the offence again, it would not be forgiven and that he would be made to realize, in his own person, the dog’s suffering when stoned.
As I write this, Kantilal is holding the inkstand. He and Ramibehn read the letter as I proceed and correct me. The accused, too, is here, meekly standing by the bed. Manubai interrupts now and then to give us the benefit of her laughter. And now she has started crying, wanting to climb up the bed. The scene reminds me of your childhood, of that of Jadibehn and others. Though I am confined to bed, you will see from the foregoing that my health can pass as good.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 5 May 1919 that my health has begun to feel the strain now. There is much too heavy a pressure on the brain. God will keep this body going as long as He wants work from it. I have not read The Englishman and I do not read it generally. Yes, I think it will be good if you keep sending me cuttings from there. Mrs. Beast is in a pitiable condition. She is completely at a loss what course to adopt.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Maganlal Gandhi about Harilal and his children on dated 20 January 1919 that what do I do about Harilal’s children? I will keep them as long as he permits me to. When he wants to take them away, who can stand in his way? Have not their interests suffered? Should we hold ourselves responsible for this? I leave everything to God. The responsibility and the right, both are His. He uses us only as His instruments. The moment we have rid ourselves of the “I” in us, we shall have done our duty. Dudabhai handed over the girl to me. That was a moment of trial for me; how could I possibly be found wanting in that? Our duty is now to do the best we can for her. If Dudabhai keeps interfering, we need not mind that; this means that he may either leave the girl to us or take her away. I have applied the same rule to Harilal. My own wish is that the girl should grow up to be a Mirabai; what would it matter, though, if she should become a prostitute instead? Only, we may not help her to become one. If this does not explain everything, you may ask me further. As Rukhi and Manu, so Lakshmi; this is the long and the short of it.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Harilal Gandhi on dated 18 August 1919 that I wish you to stay on there. There are a good many things you have to learn from experience there—Young India and Hindi and Gujarati Navajivan. You can do much in the Hindi section. Moreover, you will be able to give mental peace to Ba. There are carding and spinning also if you would only take interest in them. You can act as the physician and heal the wounds caused by small bickerings which may occasionally occur. I, therefore, think that you will spend at least this month there with profit. It is time now for us to cross the Brahmaputra. I shall not write further, as the post has to be got ready for despatch before that. I had long talks with Harilal. He told me that he, too, had started wearing the khadi cap since the beginning of this month.
Gandhi wrote a letter to Ramdas Gandhi about Harilal Gandhi on September 1921 that Harilal is doing his own cloth trade. He makes enough income in that. It seems to me that his greed is greater. It should be considered that his health is all right. He does not have his old strength. But he is able to look after his own work. Devdas is good. I should say that I am well.