The Gandhi-King Community

For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229

E-mail-dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net; dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com

 

 

Birla Family and Mahatma Gandhi, Part-III

 

Mahatma Gandhi was much closed to Birla family. He discussed on every problems related to family. He wrote letters to family members regularly. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Now I am given almost all the letters. Still, you did well in writing in English. It was good that you did not come to Poona. I cannot see anybody. The conditions placed on receiving visitors are not acceptable to me; I have therefore had only one visit so far. There is no possibility of a second. It causes me no pain. In fact a prisoner has no rights at all. Incarceration is a kind of moral death, it can mean only that. I had a good laugh over your account of the dream. That dream is a sign of love. We do not dream of strangers. I am keeping well. The water here is somewhat constipating. But it causes me no trouble. If you are plying the takli now and then, why not ply it regularly? My experience is that the worth of a job done irregularly increases at least fourfold if performed regularly. The whole world is governed by order. Such experiences have given rise to the saying: To disordered minds even blessing comes as a calamity. Your description of the trend for khadi gave me joy. Your son must have fully recovered by now. How is your health? What do you eat? My diet consists of milk, curds, raisins, dates and lemons. I take the lime juice with soda or hot water and salt. Tell Bhai Manmohan Gandhi that I have received his book as also his letter. There is very little time for reading books. Almost all my energy is devoted to spinning and carding.”116

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Mirabehn too had made some reference. No one is perfect in this world. Our duty is to rid ourselves of the imperfections and that is what human effort is for. Despair has no place as long as we put in our own efforts. In spiritual matters we need infinitely greater courage than what we need in worldly matters. One should never give up self-confidence. Faith can make everything possible. I took hold that Pujya Malaviyaji will not fall ill. In fact, I believe that he will have true rest and peace in the jail. He very much needed both for many years. God has thus granted him both. Give an account of your health in the next letter. I hope you will have no apprehension if khadi accumulates. Are you making an experiment in regard to the dairy?”117 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Your spiritual restlessness is in a way to my liking. True peace will emerge out of it. Bhai Mahavir Prasad may continue to do the khadi work and you need not worry about it. But I am confident that you will gain some peace by putting not only money but your heart too in some noble work. I can understand that you have to devote a great deal of your time to your business, but being engrossed in it all the time will neither profit the business nor bring you peace of mind. Read carefully what I have written during this week about yajna. Be that as it may, I believe that your efforts are so determined and your heart so pure that you will surely gain peace and discover your true way.”118

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This letter concerns Bhai Jayaprakash Narayan. He belongs to a respectable family of Bihar and he is also the son-in-law of Brijkishore Babu, the noble worker of Bihar. Till now he was with Jawaharlal in the Congress office. He has studied in America for seven years. Now, after his mother’s death, he feels the necessity of earning some money. He needs Rs. 300 per menses. In my opinion, Bhai Jayaprakash is a worthy young man. If possible, absorb him somewhere and pay him his requirements. Bhai Jayaprakash will himself give you further details about his antecedents. I know Babu Brijkishore’s daughter very well. She has lived in the Ashram for a considerable time. I have rarely seen a girl like her, resolute and utterly devoted to duty.”119 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I heard from Jamnalalji that a friend or a partner of yours had lost heavily in speculation. The message also says that this has caused you sorrow. Speculation itself implies loss. Then why take it to heart? A direct lesson drawn from this loss can even be a source of happiness. Why don’t you and your friends take a vow not to indulge in speculation anymore? Earnings from speculation can never be truly ethical.”120

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Even if I agree to see you I am afraid the permission will not be granted. Therefore for the time being, we must be content with letters alone. By speculation I did not mean that no forward transactions should be entered into. Speculation means gambling. With the expectation that market prices will go up I buy 1,000 bales of cotton. I do not need any cotton; I do not even store it in any warehouse. Only a book transaction is made. Now I await a rise in price. I sell the cotton when it rises; this I consider gambling. The nation or, rather, the world has lost a great deal through such transactions. This was what I meant in my letter. Yes, I expect much more than this, but, at present, you will not be up to that. Without at all depending upon future market prices, to sell the commodities at a little more than the cost price is what I consider unsullied trade. Today it might be difficult to conduct such business, but ultimately, it might bear fruit. You might remember this is what I visualize for khadi. But I know this is a tall order. I shall be very happy and content if you brothers can give up speculation. However, do only what is intelligently acceptable and within your power. I would not at all wish that you should act upon the suggestion simply because it happens to be mine and that, too, send from jail. Faith should not have a place where reasoning is applicable. Jayaprakash informs me that, although you are not recruiting any new people just now, he will be absorbed somewhere because of my recommendation. I certainly hold that Jayaprakash is a worthy young man but I do not wish that a post be created where none exists today. I was a little worried to read of Malaviyaji’s fever in the newspapers. I am relieved now. I hope he will emerge from the jail in good health. I am glad about your health too. I am again experimenting with milk less diet. This time constipation was res- possible for it. Now I am taking chapatis prepared from millet for the prisoners, vegetables, three tolas of almonds and dates. I am trying to give up dates. Constipation has disappeared. I shall revert to milk if I lose strength. It is nearly a month since I gave up milk.”121

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I send you a copy of the letter I have written to Vijayaraghavachariji. What shall I write about the Hindu-Muslim problem? The Nawabs of Bhopal is doing something. Whenever you have an opportunity of rendering service to a Muslim you should do so. It does not mean financial assistance. Financial assistance of course has to be rendered in the case of a deserving but poor Mussalman. And it is also our duty to try and remove the rowdyism among Hindus. The atrocities committed by Hindus in Cawnpore and Kashi do not help the Hindu religion, but undoubtedly harm it. I have as yet no idea whether I am to go to England or not. The situation here is rather serious. Do go to America. It will certainly do some good. Do whatever is possible for the boycott of foreign cloth. I am well.”122 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “You have sent the correct reply to Polak. I had sent an almost similar reply to the cable from those gentlemen. Even now I hold that my going would be pointless until the Hindu-Muslim problem is resolved. But, to go to meet the members of the Cabinet and other people is another thing. Subhasbabu met me again and we had a long talk. But it is difficult to say anything; I saw Sen Gupta’s letter in the newspapers yesterday. Let us see what happens on the 9th. I have asked Subhasbabu too to come over.”123

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Here is a copy of the letter from Sir Darcy Lindsay. Send a reply with facts and figures. I have already sent one, but a more informed reply is called for. I got the wire about the dispute in Bengal. I have wired to Sen Gupta unconditionally to accept arbitration.”124 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have an idea that I have already written to you in this matter. Whatever the case, I think this institution deserves to be helped if something can be given from the Raghumal Trust. I have today telegraphed that if a settlement by arbitration in the Bengal dispute is possible, they should try for it. The matter should not come up before the Working Committee. I shall be in Bombay from 9th to 11th.”125 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I shall go through it. The situation is already delicate and it will grow more delicate still. Some good result can come out of it if we work for the larger good. Sen Gupta has agreed to arbitration. He has given up the idea of postponing the election. Anyway, I am reaching Bombay tomorrow and trust that both of them will come.”126

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I shall go through the reply and suggest if anything yet remains to be said. It is good that khadi is being hawked. Here is my message: “If swaraj means food for the poor, can any aspirant for swaraj, man or woman, use any cloth other than khadi? Khadi, though costly, costs less because we have to make do with less of it than the quantity of other cloth that we would otherwise consume.” You have mentioned “hawking of khadi and propagation of swadeshi”. What do you mean by the latter phrase? It will be fine if the Bose and Sen Gupta affair is settled. That the Working Committee has passed a resolution does not mean that my going has been finally decided. For one thing I have received no invitation and even if I do receive one, many obstacles lie in the way. The Provincial Governments have grown very slack in the implementation of the Delhi Pact. I have no enthusiasm left for going to England. Read carefully my article in Young India and also the one to be published tomorrow in Navajivan. I have come exactly to that view now. That way alone lays the well-being of the people, not otherwise. I have some slight doubt regarding the last two words, but even that is growing fainter now.”127

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had instructed Mahadev and Devdas to write something in acknowledgment. No news from this end. Even if a compromise is reached, it will not make me happy. They no longer trust the Congress. Everywhere Congress workers are being prosecuted. How long can they hold out empty promises to me here? I ought to go to England but I do not feel like going. It is well that I do not worry over this thing. I find the fulfillment of life in simply doing the tasks that arise naturally from moment to moment. Considering the atmosphere here I would not be surprised if no invitation was extended to you. Even if you don’t get one, are you proceeding to America on August 15? Regarding the cable from Walchand, I hope you received the reply I had asked Mahadev to send. How are you keeping these days? I have been unable to read so far the essay sent by you on currency.”128

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Please thank the Italian Consul for the very kind offer made in connection with the probable visit by Malaviyaji and myself to Rome. Nothing is certain with reference to my visit to London and even if I succeed in going there I do not know that I shall be able to visit Italy on my return. On going to London there is no possibility of my visiting Rome. I believe the same thing applies to Malaviyaji.”129

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I know it will be good if I can go to England. But then the atmosphere here too should be conducive. At present it is extremely adverse. I have written a letter in the nature of an ultimatum to the Government and am awaiting the reply. I cannot write much due to lack of time. But if you possibly can, do come to Bombay soon. I shall reach there on August 4. We shall see later whether or not you should stay in England in case I go.”130

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I would gladly be present at the forthcoming discussions between yourself and Mr. Birla. Will Saturday next at 11 o’clock suit you? Upon hearing from you, I will advise Mr. Birla of the appointment.”131 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Yes, my health is good, so is Sardar’s. I take honey and half a lemon in hot water at 4.30 in the morning, followed by one and a half tola of roasted, ground almonds and thirty dates in tomato juice at 7 o’clock. Lemon and honey in hot water is repeated at noon, and some vegetable, tomato, fifteen dates and one tola of almonds at 4 o’clock. I have started on vegetable only these two days, formerly I was taking thirty dates. On some days I was taking papaya at four, but I can take it no longer, as vegetable constitutes the fifth article of food. Neither is there any need for papaya. It has been like this for about fifteen days. Before that I used to take half a pound of milk in the morning and half a pound of curds in the evening, but I found milk a bit hard on digestion. Anyway, I am always pleased to give up milk on any possible pretext; so I am off milk. I do not know how long I can do without it. My weight is steady at 106 lb. Do send dates; though the ones I have are fresh and good. They have been sent by Jerajani. You shall have to apply to Delhi or Bombay in order to visit me. The permission might be granted, if at all, on the ground of a purely friendly visit. Nothing can be done from here. I have collected a few books on currency. But send me whatever you like. I want to study this subject as much as possible and to the best of my ability. If you send your own observations I shall go through them too. Tell me your experiences of America. How your health was and what places did you visit? What did you observe at Battle Creek? Did you meet Holmes?”132

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There is no reason for getting disturbed over the change in my diet. I have little or no faith in calories. Their norm applies only to them. How can we vie with them? Individual professions too must be considered while laying down a standard of calorie requirements. Now I am taking four ounces of toast too. I have received the dates. I think the good quality dates from Arabia are better than these. The ones sent to me are quite good. I will take milk as soon as I feel the need. Have no worry. I am not surprised to read your account of America. But there are many good people too. Did the climate over there agree with you? I am glad to learn that you have discovered the right diet for yourself. How is Malaviyaji Maharaj? Sardar tells me that Rameshwardas was ill. I had no knowledge of this. How is he now?”133

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “You will guess from the handwriting that Mahadev is here. I like your taking interest in everybody’s diet. The food taken by our middle class does not constitute a balanced diet and there is no doubt that they ruin their constitution by eating useless stuff. Moreover, doctors and vaidyas in their preoccupation with making money take no note of this problem. That is why I appreciate the usefulness of your experiments and I hope that Rameshwarji and Lakshminivas have benefited. Keep me informed of whatever fresh discoveries you make. I am fully aware that misconceptions exist about me. Experience has taught me that most of the misunderstandings are cleared up if one has patience. However long the night may be it is bound to come to an end. For me the same diet continues. I feel well on it. Do you see Andrews? How is he keeping?”134 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had sent a prompt reply to your letter written from Gwalior. I addressed it to Gwalior which might be the reason of its non-receipt by you. Some of my letters are certainly missing. Malaviyaji’s enthusiasm as well as his optimism is worthy of emulation. We are all doing well. My diet so far continues to be the same and I am maintaining approximately the same weight. I hope Rameshwardas is well.”135

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I recollect this much but nothing of the contents. We must consider the views of the workers regarding working in three shifts and also the extent of the material and moral benefit to them from it. If they gain materially but lose morally, it will not be acceptable to me. I may be considered neutral as I have at present no means of ascertaining labour’s point of view. I only hope that this change has been made with due regard for the labourers’ attitude towards it. I have received two books. By two books is meant one pamphlet and the proof of your speech. Is it not? These two are with me. I have not been able to read them so far, as I could not take time off from the work on hand. I had to devote a good deal of time to working the charkha with the foot owing to pain in the left hand. And moreover I have taken up the study of Urdu. I shall now possibly save some time and use it for reading the two items. I distinguish between optimism and simplicity of heart. Panditji is endowed with both. That person is an optimist who continues to hope despite the discouraging signs on the horizon and his own knowledge of them. This quality can be found in Panditji in plenty. To accept in good faith someone’s encouraging utterances is simplicity of heart. Panditji possesses that too, which in my opinion is undesirable. Panditji, by virtue of his nobility, has come to no harm on account of this quality. But we should not emulate it. Optimism is dependent upon the inner voice while credulousness is dependent upon external factors. I am not qualified to give any opinion on foreign travel. Ordinarily my views are well known. My diet continues to be the same. The weight too is steady.”136

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “My health seems to be well enough. The weight is satisfactory. I weighed 106 1/2 lb. today. Doctors tell me that I am suffering from tennis elbow as a result of spinning continuously for years; rest is the only cure for it. So I have to give complete rest to my elbow for 3-4 weeks. I started using the Magan spinning-wheel for this reason. Before that I was using my left hand for plying the wheel instead of holding the sliver. The doctors were not satisfied with this but they agreed to my turning the wheel with the foot. But now my elbow has been put in splints in order to prevent the least movement. Let us see now if the doctors’ diagnosis is correct or otherwise. You have no cause for worry, there being no pain except in moving the arm. Do send me the khadi woven out of the yarn spun by your sister. I overlooked writing on this matter as your letter was not in front of me. I have decided to study economics as much as I can while I am still here. I took up the study of other books in the expectation of a long stay here. Anyway I shall start on economics very soon. I follow what you say about running the mill all day and night. So often have I had the idea of making a detailed observation of your mills but it came to nothing. I wish to watch the condition of the labourers with my own eyes. We are all doing well.”137

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Please tell Behenji (sister) that I shall lovingly be using the khaddar. Since I wrote, I have been studying books on economy. I have read your two pamphlets. I can understand (the subject) better than before. But as yet the picture of the whole subject (lit. all things) does not come before me. But I am pursuing it and so I hope to be sufficiently acquainted with the subject. So far I have been reading (Prof.) Shah’s book on Banking and Exchange. In this connection any books which may be considered worth reading may be sent. It would be very well if the Reports of the Herschel Committee, Fowler Committee, Babington Smith, Chamberlain and Hilton Young Committees are printed in book form. If they are not so printed they may be sent as they are available. Dissenting minutes should also be with them. I also wish to have these Reports over and above the literature you have in mind. If you send also the books our experts have written, there will be sufficient acquaintance with the subject.”138

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “In my letter of June 29 I have acknowledged receipt of the khadi. I have also asked for some books that came to my mind on reading your booklets. Numerous questions have occurred to me while reading the literature but I intend to take them up if any remain unsolved after the completion of the present study. These days I constantly manage to read something or other that must add something however little to my knowledge. I am still reading Prof. Shah’s book. After that I shall start on Iyer’s book on foreign exchange which he has sent to me. At present, mills function side by side with the production of khadi and it will continue thus for some time. Ultimately a contest between the two is inevitable as our idea is to produce khadi in all the villages. Thus mills will no longer have a place in India when each village can produce khadi. But for the time being people like you can have both the activities at the same time provided the ideal is kept before the public in order to assert the truth. People so inclined will continue to indulge in criticism, it cannot be helped. I do not possess sufficient knowledge about jiggery but I have an impression that mills will remain indispensable for the production of sugar. Sugar cannot be easily manufactured in villages, nor can every village grow sugar-cane, which means that production of jiggery cannot be a universal occupation. Perhaps I am wrong in thinking so. However, if a person can advocate mills as well as khadi he can assuredly talk of jiggery and sugar factories at the same time. The more I study of economics the firmer I grow in my belief that the methods suggested in these books for eradicating poverty are not at all efficacious. The method lies in working out a scheme wherein the production and consumption happen to be simultaneous and this scheme can work only with the revival of village industries. I have started taking milk on the Superintendent’s insistence, also chapatti and vegetable. Vegetable, I take once a day and chapatti twice a day. But no longer do I notice the cleansing of the bowels that I experienced formerly on a diet of roti, almonds and a vegetable. But I will not give up milk in a hurry now that I have started it. I shall watch the results. These days I am taking the grapes sent from Karachi by Kripalaniji’s brother-in-law.”139

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have gone through all the books on economics available with me. But that does not mean that I have quite understood them. Still my understanding has been enriched to some extent. I had expected to receive some more books from you before I had finished reading the last of these. But you did not receive that letter of mine. Now this one is yet another letter gone astray. I want the reports of the Fowler Committee, Chamberlain Committee, Babington Smith and Hilton Young Committee along with the dissenting reports, Dadachanji’s book on currency or exchange and the one recently written by Findlay Shirras. I am a bit afraid that almonds will not suit you. I can digest almonds, ground-nuts and such oily nuts as I have subsisted on them for years. For you milk and curds are the main food, very little of starch and of the dal proteins none. I have found by experience that wheat, milk, curds, salads and non-starchy fruits like grape, pomegranate, orange, apple, pineapple and papaya, these form the necessary and suitable diet for people like you. Almonds can supplant milk only when a vegetable is found equivalent to milk. Chemical tests prove that almonds and milk have common properties excepting a certain specific property which is found in milk but not in almonds and which is present in animal proteins only. I have full faith that among millions of vegetables there must be one possessing that specific property but our vaidyas have done no research in this matter owing to sheer lethargy. Hence almonds are not as useful to us as milk. The condition of my arm is the same as before but it does not interfere with my work. Therefore there is absolutely no cause for anxiety. All three of us are well. You will be glad to know that Sardar has started learning Sanskrit and he is making very rapid progress.”140

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “As we shall be meeting fairly soon, I will not write at length. There is nothing urgent to be communicated. I have received the League’s scheme. I will give you my opinion when we meet. I have written to Bhai Ambalal requesting him to join the League. We must take up simultaneously both propaganda and constructive work. The League cannot leave out propaganda simply because I am doing it. What I may be doing is a different matter. But this too we shall discuss at length when we meet. I am certain that the League cannot take up the matter of inter-dining. Kerala needs the services of a lady from the north. After consulting Rajaji I have sent a wire to Urmiladevi that she is to go. I feel that her expenses should be borne by the League. For the present I have sent her some money from the funds I had recently received. I had intended to pass these on to the League. If the League approves of Urmiladevi being sent, it will pay her the rest of her expenses. If however it is decided that the League’s programme cannot envisage this kind of expense we shall see what we can do. I am maintaining fairly good health. The weight too is now satisfactory. No doubt I miss some of my former energy. I am sure I shall soon recover it. You must build up your body. I do not agree with what you write about soda bicarb. A doctor friend once assured me that a daily intake of soda can keep off rheumatism. It is beneficial in other ways too. I have never experienced any harm from it and in any case, a little soda is always present in the water. I have gone through the pledge. I have not studied it very carefully but it seems all right.”141

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “About your criticism of the Yeravda Pact we shall talk when we meet. I shall not waste time over it just now. What Thakkar Bapa writes about Patna is true about many other places too. We should write to local people about it. Why should not the municipality take up this work? The League should bring out a bulletin or journal or newspaper every fortnight or every week and make all these horrible things public. However poor we may be, no municipality is so poor as to be unable to rectify such wrongs. I wrote to Mathuradas and to Ambalal too.”142 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Shindeji has a serious complaint against us, that of appropriating the name of his association. The complaint seems to be justified. We are concerned only with work not with the name. Therefore my suggestion is to name our association ‘Akhil Bharat Harijan Seva Sangh’ and to use the same in English and vernacular too. You are coming here but this will possibly reach you before you start.”143

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have sent you one telegram today about the name of the League and another about the Bengal Provincial Organization will go tomorrow. First, about the name. I enclose herewith Rajaji’s letter. I think that his argument is conclusive, and if it is at all possible to adopt his suggestion, you will alter the name accordingly. I was so possessed with the idea of service that I missed the implication to which Rajaji draws pointed attention. Now, as to the Bengal Organization, I fear that I have committed a grievous blunder. I overrated my influence with Dr. Bidhan. I am sorry because I have given him pain; and I am sorry because I have placed you in an awkward position. He will survive the pain; you will surmount all awkward difficulty; I shall not easily forget my folly. I have sent Dr. Roy the following telegram: Your unsigned letter received today. Correspondence not meant for publication. Have told you distinctly if you feel confident you should continue work already begun. Accept my apology for what I now recognize was undue interference and what I had meant to be friendly suggestion. Please therefore treat my letter as absolutely withdrawn. Gandhi and I enclose herewith a copy of the letter I am sending him. I do not need to add anything more. I hope that the incident will close without causing much worry to you. I enclose also a copy of Dr. Bidhan’s reply.

I have received your letter of the 12th December. The definition that Sjt. Thakkar has sent you has been further altered by me. I enclose copy of the altered definition. Pandit Kunzru had sent me the definition that Sjt. Thakkar had sent you. I made alterations and sent him the altered copy. I see that Sjt. Thakkar had not received the altered copy when he wrote to you. I had about seven friends and followers of Dr. Ambedkar today. They complained or stated (because they said they did not want to complain but merely to make a statement) that Dr. Ambedkar’s letter to Sjt. Thakkar written on board the steamer making certain suggestions was not mentioned during the meeting of the Board in Poona. I told them I did not know that it was not mentioned, but I told them also that the letter could not have been passed by and it must have been considered by the Board. You will now please write to them or me as to what was exactly done in connection with that letter. These friends also stated that our organizations were keeping up the split amongst the Harijans and wherever possible favouring Rao Bahadur Rajah’s party. I assured them that such never could be your intention and that the endeavour of the Board would be to steer clear of party divisions, and that the endeavour of the Board and its Branches everywhere would be to cement the relations between the two parties for which now that the political part of the question was settled there was absolutely no need. Although I have got additional assistance in the shape of Sjt. Chhaganlal Joshi having been sent to me, as also efficient shorthand assistance, I can have no leisure. This much-needed assistance enables me to keep abreast with the growing work. Interviews take up a great deal of time, but they are all necessary. I do not therefore grudge them. I hope you are keeping fit. You must do something that would induce sound sleep, not by way of drugs, but through natural means or dietetic changes. Have you tried the prunes in the manner I suggested? Some of the easy asanas and deep breathing, which is what pranayama for health means, might assist digestion and induce sleep.”144

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I hope I have made ample amends for my presumption and that there is no wound left any- where. If you think that there is still anything more left to be done by me, do please tell me. I hope not to repeat the folly.”145 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The dazzle of my presence is really a greater embarrassment to me than to friends like you, and I wish that we can work and speak to one another on a par. I hate to have any special credit given to my word than would be claimed by any other person saying the same thing. With this preface I must say that I wholly dissent from your diagnosis. If I had written a similar letter say, for instance, to you, I do not think that you would have resented it. In other words, I would not have over-rated my influence with you. How could I help Dr. Roy in securing the co-operation of Babus Suresh and Satis when I knew that such a thing was not possible unless I simply coerced them into giving mechanical co-operation, but I would not think of such co-operation even between Suresh babu and Satisbabu? Even in the Ashram, where I may be said to have equal influence with all, there are incompatible temperaments where I cannot look for co-operation, much less can I impose it; and inasmuch as I believed that Suresh and Satis Babus were more effective people as plodders, I naturally desired the work to be in their hands, and I thought that Dr. Roy would appreciate my suggestion. Why should anybody feel hurt if a burden is shifted from his shoulders and put on to another, thought to be more able to carry it? And I, as it now turns out erroneously, thought that Dr. Bidhan would not misconstrue my letter, take it in good light, and contest, if he liked, the underlying assumption, but never resent the letter. And why do you say that I have rebuked Dr. Roy in my second letter? I think I have fairly put the position, but if you have not followed it, you may read it over again. I would like you to understand the motive under laying the first letter. I shall see if I can think of a good secretary for you who will work for the love of work. I would warn you against issuing the English edition, unless it is properly got up and contains readable English and translations are all accurate. It would be much better to be satisfied with the Hindi edition only, than to have an indifferently edited English weekly. Of course, I know that there is no question of partiality, but it is as well to bear in mind how Dr. Ambedkar’s people feel about all we do.”146

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The Secretary of the Friends of India Society, London, writes to me saying that she has sent you a cheque or draft for £42-0-3 being the takings during the Fast Week. You will please tell me whether the amount has been received.”147 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had seen the Bill. It is not permissive in the sense you have evidently imagined. It is permissive in the sense that the Bill does not declare all temples automatically open. But individual temples can be opened by the vote of the majority of the temple-goers, not at the will of the Trustees. I hope that your confidence about the assent will be justified by the event. Rajaji was here for three days, and we had long discussions about the Bill and the situation in Guruvayur in general. I hope the formalities about the publication of the Weekly have been completed.”148

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “You will see if there is anything to do in this connection. I enclose also a letter from Ganeshilal Mistry for your information and guidance. This is a letter which requires investigation. It is impossible for you to cope with all complaints personally, but there should be someone who would take the pains to see such writers when they are local people, and in every case find out what truth there is in their complaints and then give the writers whatever satisfaction is possible. To save you the trouble, if you will put me on to someone to whom I should write directly I would do so, and then he will bring to your notice whatever is necessary.”149 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I hope you got the copy of Dr. Roy’s letter. It was, by mistake, omitted from the letter with which the copy had to go. When we meet I would love to give you satisfaction with reference to the position I took up in my letter to Dr. Roy. I think it will be better not to take up any special agitation about Kashi Vishwanath just yet. The general effort for temple-entry by way of cultivating public opinion should certainly go on, but no special effort for any particular temple just yet.”150

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have revived my suggestion that the English edition at least should be published in Poona, and it can be published, not simultaneously with the Hindi, but on Fridays, if the Hindi is published on Mondays. The English edition may then be issued under my supervision, and would take in as much as may be necessary from the Hindi edition. All the facts and figures, reports and the like will be taken from the Hindi, and there will be original things also in it. In that case, you need not send anybody from there, if there is no one available. I fancy that I shall be able to get a local man, or more, to do the work. I discussed this thing with Sjt. Thakkar yesterday and he approves of the idea. I then suggested that he should discuss it with you, but he said it would cause delay and that, therefore, I should transmit my views to you by the post. If you heartily approve of the idea, you may pursue it further, and may even come down here, if you think it necessary to discuss it. For this purpose you need not delay the Hindi edition. The English may come a week or two later. I enclose herewith a telegram and a letter received from Lala Shamlal. I enclose also a copy of my reply.”151

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am permitted to see Jamnalalji as often as may be necessary and to discuss untouchability matters with him. He was reading the constitution of the Society and these are the pertinent things to which he drew my attention: The resolution is wrong. It is not in accordance with the resolution as it was passed by the Conference. There is nothing in the resolution as it is given in the pamphlet about temple-entry. You will see the correction made in my statement of the 30th December. How the incomplete resolution came to be taken I do not know. The correct text appears in The Times of India of the 26th September.  This point was first noticed by me, but I forgot all about it till the resolution was required for my statement. Then too I forgot to write to you about it. But I noted down the points that Jamnalalji brought forward, and this was the very first.  The second is that whereas the resolution about electorate is described as having been passed by the Conference, the resolution about the social and religious rights of Harijans is described as having been passed by a meeting of Hindus, five days later. Jamnalalji  therefore says that as the text reads, it will appear as if it was a  resolution passed by a meeting of Bombay Hindus only and not by  representatives of all-India Hindus. If so, the Anti-untouchability League could not be established for all India by a Bombay Hindus’ meeting.  The third point he made was that there is nothing in the creative resolution authorizing the All-India Anti-untouchability League, as it was originally called, to alter its name.  The fourth was that the resolution describing the powers of the League or the Society was not exhaustive enough.  The fifth was that there was no Treasurer appointed, and that it was not clear as to who would have the control of the funds raised by provincial organizations.  All these points deserve consideration. I could not throw much light upon them, except that I told him that you retained in your own person the Treasurership purposely in the initial stages.  I take it that you are collecting statistics somehow or other as to the opening of temples, wells, etc., throughout India.”152 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am surprised that Kanhaiyalal should have written to you. I do know him well by correspondence. He has been in the Ashram sent by Soniramji.  He frequently sends me questions for solution. He should not have written to you without reference to me or at least to Narandas. You need not think of him any more.”153

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “You are not going to be disappointed or discouraged. What you describe is the common lot of most organizations. The best in a man, as also the worst, is drawn out when he is in charge of such organizations. The best is drawn out when he works with sufficient detachment.”154 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am meeting Sjts. Deodhar and Vaze tomorrow (Wednesday) about the English edition of Harijan Sevak. I have already had a preliminary conversation with Vaze since the receipt of your letter. It seems there will be no difficulty about publishing the paper here. But I shall do nothing in a hurry. I will send you the fullest information before actually embarking on the enterprise.  What is this opposition in Bengal against the Yeravda Pact? I am writing also to Dr. Bidhan enquiring about it. I note what you say about the effect of prunes. Have you tried them at all?”155

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had a prolonged conversation with Syts. Deodhar and Vaze yesterday regarding the English edition, and as a result. I have telegraphed to Amritlal Thakkar to send Shastri at once if he could be spared. Vaze tells me that Shastri is the fittest man for doing the editorial work. He himself will help but cannot be completely identified with the paper. I can appreciate his reason. But both told me that though Shastri had applied to the Society for admission as a probationer, the Society would have no objection to Shastri taking up the editorial responsibility. Of course, so long as Mahadev and I have the time, the columns will be filled by us, and Shastri will carry out instructions, and in time to come write original articles himself.  I wonder when the Hindi edition will be out.”156

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I do not want you to come out with any public statement on the Bengal question, as you have noticed I am not making any public statement myself, and I have anticipated you by copying you, that is, writing to Dr. Bidhan and Ramanand Baboo. I am not writing to Sjt. J. C. Gupta, nor is it necessary for me to do so. I might have met him, but I cannot say that I am even acquainted with him.  Please do not wait for the revision of the pamphlet till the present copies are exhausted. You can do one or the other thing,  either issue a revised pamphlet suppressing the old copies, or paste the  full resolution onto the imperfect resolution in the existing copies, and  send a public circular to the effect that by an oversight an incomplete  resolution was printed in the pamphlet, giving the corrected full text.  I quite understand that you have to look after your own business also, with more concentration today than before.  What is the hitch in getting Harijan Sevak out?  The news about your health is disturbing. Why not has the necessary operation, if a reliable doctor advises it? I have learnt by experience that even dietetics and fasts have their limitations. They do not always answer. And whatever rest is necessary, you ought to impose on yourself. Dilatoriness in these matters should be regarded as sinful.”157

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Here is the estimate for the proposed English edition of Harijan Sevak. As you can see, it is a very moderate sum. There will still be some overhead charges on clerical assistance, and whatever remuneration that might have to be paid to Shastri who has agreed to edit the paper.  I propose to bring out, to start with, 10,000 copies. Then if there is not that demand, we might slow down. My policy, as you know, is that I shall not handle the paper except to make it self-supporting. If it does not become self-supporting, I should conclude that there is inefficient management or editing, or that there is no public demand for such a paper. In any one of these cases, if the defect cannot be mended, the paper must be ended. I should give the paper a trial for three months, within which time it must become self-supporting.  I would therefore like you, after consultation with Thakkar Bapa and such others as you need to consult, to telegraph your sanction of the expenditure, such as it may be, up to the final limit to be fixed by you. I suggest an addition of Rs. 200 per month at the outside to the figures as per estimate, excluding the postal and telegraphic charges. I should be able to give you more definite figures after I have seen Shastri. If you can pass the budget, should I proceed with the paper whether you have brought out the Hindi edition or not? I understand that there is not likely to be any difficulty at this end about bringing out the paper.  I have your telegram from Gwalior about the Government decision on the untouchability Bills. I hope you received my reply. I hope, too, that you have read my very exhaustive statement to the Press. I do not need, therefore, to add anything to the Press statement, for I have nothing more to add.  I am sending you a copy of my letter to Hariji about the Society receiving or seeking financial assistance from the Government. Here again I do not need to add to it. It speaks for itself.  I hope you are better. I would like you to treat your health as much of a business concern as any other, and thus not a thing to be neglected or wasted.”158

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “If Damodarlalji sends you any money, you will of course accept it as from anybody who sends it, but in my opinion there can be no approaching him. We would be well without his financial help unless it comes unsolicited and of his free will.”159

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I understand the situation. We can but do whatever is possible and await the result. It is beyond the control of man. I have a long letter from Malaviyaji in which he opposes the introduction of the Bills altogether and in any case insists upon their circulation. I am suggesting to him that he should come over here and discuss the whole thing with me before coming to a conclusion. I have suggested to Rajaji that he should go to him or send Devdas. I do not know whether it is worth while you’re going. I leave the thing to you.  About Bengal, I hope you saw my letter to Ramanand Baboo.  And now Dr. Ambedkar appears on the scene.  I have written to Rajaji and also telegraphed him as to what I feel about exploiting the possibility of my fast. I think that it should not be done. The fast must be dismissed out of consideration altogether. This exploiting robs it of any spiritual value it might possess. The knowledge that it is a possibility may colour your action but you may not use it to affect the actions of others. That would amount to illegitimate pressure. I wish you will not henceforth mention it anywhere.”160

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Lest you might have forgotten all about the contribution to the Aaj through Baboo Bhagwandas, on account of his publishing the learned opinions by way of supplement to the Aaj, if you have not already sent anything, please do so now.”161 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I do not understand the intricacies of Assembly procedure. I said and written as I have felt and having done that I should leave things to work themselves out. Circulation as I have understood from M. L. A.s means much more than you seem to think it does, but if it merely means consideration of the Bills at the next session, there may not be much harm; but I do not know. You will now do whatever you all think proper.”162

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have received from Mr. M. I. David Rs. 2, 500. So far as I know, it is the first answer to the appeal on behalf of his scheme. Mr. David wants to remain anonymous. I am sending the money to you by registered and insured packet. For the present you will please retain the money on account of the David Scheme. It would be better to put it so as to bear interest at once. We won’t need to use it all at once and I expect to get his own letter which he has promised.  I think that we ought to be able to announce a few scholarships.  You blessed the scheme, the Bombay board blessed the scheme and if it ends with a solitary subscriber, and that also the creator himself, it would be a miniature disaster. Do, therefore, induce Lala Shreeram and others at least to give these paltry sums and let me announce some names.  I hope Viyogi Hari and Amritlal Thakkar have shown you what I had to say about the Hindi Harijan. It needs very considerable improvement. You were to have given some personal attention to it.  Do please give it.  I hope you are keeping good health. Is the nose causing trouble? Whether it is or not, it should receive early attention.”163 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The English Harijan has become self-supporting already. The subscriptions received to date from street sales and annual subscribers leave a balance without the aid of the Rs. 1044 from the Central Board. This money can, therefore, now be refunded. Will you kindly tell me how you would want this money to be sent to you? I understand that you have to pay something to the Maharashtra Board.  My enquiry as to the method of refunding the money is merely with a view to saving commission on money order, draft or cheque.  Arrangements have been made to issue a Gujarati Harijan also.  It is being issued from Poona. The Bombay Board has guaranteed the cost for three months in the event of any loss being incurred, but I have no such fear.”164

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am able only today to reach your letter of 8th March.  What I meant about a Selection Board was this. You should appoint a small and efficient committee consisting of, say, a man like Thadani and someone from St. Stephen’s College and another person as Secretary with you and Thakkar Bapa as member’s ex-officio. This Committee would invite applicants for the David Scheme Scholarships. It will examine the applications and recommend them to the Board. The Board will, if it accepts the recommendations, grant the scholarships. This Committee will also be invited to frame a scheme giving conditions under which scholarships should be given describing the qualifications of the candidates and it will be under these conditions that applications would be invited. I would suggest the Committee keeping in touch with Mr. David in so far as he may be willing to assist the Committee with his informal guidance and advice.  So much about the Selection Board.  With reference to the donations, I am not satisfied with what you say. I had the fear that there might not be an adequate response to an appeal for such donations. I had said as much to Mr. David when I told him why even though I liked his scheme I was reluctant to back it publicly. I advised him therefore to consult you and to consult the Bombay Board which he did, and both of you warmly took it up. You even advertised it in the draft constitution. I therefore felt encouraged after having waited for a long time to bless the scheme in the Harijan.  I do feel that there must be some earmarked donations apart from the general collections. I do not like the idea of setting apart sums from the general collections already made. We must draw, if we at all can, some sanatanists among the donors. Anyway, that’s my idea, and that’s also Jamnalalji’s, Sardar Vallabhbhai’s and of all of us. I have already approached Janaki Devi to give the scheme Rs. 2,500/-and I am presently going to write to others. I would like to include your name among the donors and publish it.  Before writing anything in the Harijan, I shall await your considered reply to this.”165

 

Reference:

 

  1. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, July 29, 1930
  2. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, October 15, 1930
  3. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, October 28, 1930
  4. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, November 1, 1930
  5. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, December 3, 1930
  6. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, December 16, 1930
  7. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, April 29, 1931
  8. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, May 30, 1931
  9. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, June 4, 1931
  10. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, June 5, 1931
  11. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, June 8, 1931
  12. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, June 20, 1931
  13. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, July 20, 1931
  14. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, July 26, 1931
  15. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, July 26, 1931
  16. LETTER TO SIR HENRY STRAKOSCH, September 30, 1931
  17. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, February 22, 1932
  18. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, March 7, 1932
  19. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, April 5, 1932
  20. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, May 15, 1932
  21. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, May 26, 1932
  22. LETTER TO G.D. BIRLA, June 7, 1932
  23. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, June 28, 1932
  24. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, July 5, 1932
  25. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, July 30, 1932
  26. LETTER TO G.D. BIRLA, November 11, 1932
  27. LETTER TO G.D. BIRLA, November 15, 1932
  28. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, November 24, 1932
  29. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, December 15/ 16, 1932
  30. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, December 20, 1932
  31. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, December 27, 19321
  32. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, December 28, 1932
  33. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 1, 1933
  34. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 3, 1933
  35. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 7, 1933
  36. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 8, 1933
  37. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 11, 1933
  38. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 11, 1933
  39. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 11, 1933
  40. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 17, 1933
  41. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 19, 1933
  42. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 21, 1933
  43. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, January 25, 1933
  44. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, February 4, 1933
  45. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, February 14, 1933
  46. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, February 18, 1933
  47. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, February 22, 1933
  48. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, March 2, 1933
  49. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, March 9, 1933
  50. LETTER TO G. D. BIRLA, March 16, 1933

 

 

 

 

 

 

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