ONE HUNDRED WAYS
Once Gandhi visited a school. Seeing him without a shirt, a young student asked him, ’Sir, why don’t you wear a shirt? My mother can stitch a shirt for you. She will do it beautifully. Shall I get one for you?
Smilingly Gandhi replied, ’Certainly! I shall have it but on one condition; I have forty crores of brothers. Will your mother be able to get one shirt for each one of them? Only then I will also wear a shirt!’
In the year 1932, there was a clash among people who were living in a place called Panchmahal. Some of them ran to Gandhi and narrated to him about the events. Gandhi asked,’ What did you do to stop the clash?
‘We followed your advice on non-violence. We just endured the affliction and came away’-they replied.
Gandhi said ,’This is not my advice. Non-violence does not mean that you should bear injustice. Instead I would prefer violence. Act of cowardice is worse than violence.’
A friend referred to the autobiography of Gandhi thus – ‘man is torn between two kinds of ideals in his days. He is at a loss to choose one of the other! I wish to read your autobiography and find an answer to this.’
Gandhi replied, ‘I never had such an experience. When a particular circumstances arises, I will think, which my duty is; accordingly I shall act. This is my way of doing a thing.
It happened in 1921 when the Indian Congress Committee had decided to collect one crore rupees to commemorate the memory of Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a great patriot of India.
A friend of Gandhi remarked. This will be easy if some professional dramatists can arrange to donate by staging their dramas for a few nights.
Gandhi said, ‘ I cannot accept money from such people who have taken up stagecraft as means of their livelihood it is wrong to do so.’
There were many who were working as volunteers with Gandhi. It so happened that one such volunteer or Swayamsevak got wild with the one who was cooking and he gave him a slap also.
This news reached Gandhi. He said, ‘if he were a rich man, you would not have beaten him. Just because he was a poor worker, you behaved with him heartlessly. Go and apologize to him. The Swayamsevak stood hesitantly. Gandhi said in a strong tone, ‘unless you are excused by him, you cannot stay with me.’ No need to say that the Swayamsevak obeyed Gandhi instantaneously.
Bhulabhai Desai was also a great patriot. Once he was walking with Gandhi on a hot summer day. Gandhi was walking barefooted. Bhulabhai Desai said,’ Sir, you will not be able to bear the heat. Why don’t you wear my shoes?’
Gandhi saw an old man coming barefooted and also carrying a heavy load on his head. Gandhi did not answer Desai but was looking at the old man for some moments with compassion. Bhulabhai understand what Gandhi thought and felt.
One day Gandhi’s friend brought sweet dates. Gandhi took one by one and enjoyed its sweetness. The friend asked, ‘Sir, you are very slow in eating’.
Gandhi replied. ‘Those who eat slowly live longer. I wish to live for hundred years. That is why I am eating slowly’.
He had the guts to ask the same thing to Gandhi too. Gandhi replied. ‘To think that we are serving our country is nothing but ego. To live or die nothing is in our hands. It is God who ordains things.’
A friend Gandhi asked him, ‘Of all your acts, which is liked by you most? Gandhi replied, ‘ Khadi and eradication of untouchability’ these two I love most. ‘What about non-violence? The friend questioned. ‘In all my acts non-violence prevails. It is just like a thread that links all the beards. There is not a single action of mine without non-violence.’ This was Gandhi’s reply.
Gandhi was going to London by ship. An European wrote a poem on Gandhi criticizing him bitterly and gave the sheets to him. Gandhi coolly saw the poem, took out the pin from the papers and put if in his desk drawer.
The European asked, ‘Don’t you see that there is essence in it? Gandhi replied. ‘Yes, I look the essence and put it inside the drawer.’
Rev. Molt met Gandhi in 1927 when he remarked, ‘Mr. Gandhi, you might have come across many ups and downs in your life. Even then you are calm and unperturbed. How is it?
Gandhi replied, ‘My great solace is in all tests of time, the Indians never lose faith in non-violence. They fellow it unswervingly. This gives me great peace of mind’. What makes you feel painful?’ asked Rev. Molt.
Gandhi answered. ‘The heartless behavior of the so called educated people makes me feel miserable.
It happened in 1933 when Gandhi observed fast for 21 days. A friend was attending on him. One day Gandhi asked him, ‘Who cleaned the place today?
The friend replied, ‘Everyday I used to clean Sir, but as I was busy otherwise today, servant cleaned this place.’
Gandhi said, ‘Let us not engage servants for our own work. We should be able to do our work by ourselves.’
In 1933, when Gandhi was in Poona, everyday his bed cover used to be removed, cleaned and dried up in the sun and the other one used to be spread. One of his friends took his khadi bed cover and put a mill woven bed cover in its place. Gandhi saw this and asked him, ‘how dare you do this knowling fully well that I use only hand woven khadi cloth?’
Once Gandhi was badly criticized by some people. One of his ardent devotees could not bear this. She informed him about this.
Gandhi remarked, ‘some people praise me and some others despise me. I will not become great by praises, nor be lowered by despises. I am what I am. A faithful servant of God need not be afraid of anything.’
In 1`936, there was an Indian Literary Conference in Indore. Seth Hukumchand had organized a grand dinner. Gandhi along with his wife Kasturba attended the dinner. Silver chairs and gold plates and cups were kept ready for Gandhi and Ba. Gandhi had brought with him his aluminum plate and earthen cup which he was using while in prison.
Seth requested Gandhi, ‘Why don’t you use my plates and cups just for today?’
‘Only on condition that you allow me to take along with me your plates and cups’ jokingly Gandhi remarked and started taking food in his own aluminum plate.
Once a friend confessed to Gandhi, ‘Bapu I wish to act as I think not to have a dual personality. But it is very difficult to get rid of anger and enmity.’
Gandhi said, ‘It is very bad to think something and act something else. It is better to openly aggressive than being a cheat. Such cheats are spoiling themselves and the society too.
Curfew was imposed during those days in South Africa. None was allowed to walk on the road. But Gandhi unknowingly came out and was walking on the street. A guard pushed Gandhi and scolded him. An European friend advised Gandhi to take action against the fellow who pushed him.
Gandhi replied, ‘He is not at fault. He does not find the difference between Indians and others. Moreover, I have made a vow not to go to court for my personal reason.
Gandhi was appearing for London matriculation examination, when he was young. There was a question which read thus ‘what is more valuable than gold?’
It was 1946. Gandhi’s birthday was celebrated as Charkha Day (Day of Spinning wheel). When Gandhi was returning after his morning walk, his Ashram (hermitage) friends were enjoying, by distributing sweets.
Gandhi remarked, ‘When our people are in distress, we have no business to enjoy like this. We have to remove their distress. Let us not cheat them by distributing sweets. This is neither non-violence, nor service to the nation.’
In Sabarmati Ashram, friends were engrossed in cleaning the grains. Some attorney’s came to see Gandhi and asked him,’Sir, why don’t you give us some work? We cannot sit idle.’
Gandhi said, ‘Well take out the small pebbles from the grains.’ They said. ‘This is the job of servants.’ Gandhi replied. ‘What to do? Right now only this work is needed to be done.’
In 1947 Gandhi was walking in Naokhali. He had to reach from one tent to the other by 7 a.m. everyday. One day after the Morning Prayer was over. Gandhi had a slight nap. All the friends were waiting for 5 minutes for Gandhi to wake up. Sister Manu Gandhi was given the work of waking Gandhi. When Gandhi woke up, he said to Manu Gandhi. ‘Why didn’t you wake me up? You have wasted 5 minutes of our 500 friends. This is bad!’
Those were the days when Gandhi was staying in Naokhali. From there he desired to go to Bihar. In those days, there were some troubles in Bihar. It was ordered that anybody who wanted to go to Bihar, should get the permission of the Chief Minister of Bihar. Gandhi took his permission and then went to Bihar. The Chief Minister asked, ‘Mr. Gandhi, why do you need any permission? Gandhi replied, ‘I am one among several ordinary people of India. Any order passed for the common man should be obeyed by me too. I shall allow myself to transgress such orders!’
It was ordered that Gandhi should apologize for publishing one of the confidential letters of the British Government in his journal.
‘If I feel, I have done wrong, only then I can apologize’ this was Gandhi’s reply. After a few days, Gandhi was ordered to appear before the Court. He was ordered by the judge to apologize. Gandhi said, ‘You are forcing me to apologize for the act which I do not consider as a mistake.’ The judge could not know what to do. He excused Gandhi and let him go.
Just a few days before Gandhi’s death, it happened. His follower Mrs. Meera requested him to visit Rishikesh where lots of good cattle were found.
Gandhi was very much pained to note the disturbed state of his country at that time. He said, ‘Forget it. What are you doing to plan with a dead body?’ After some moments, he continued, ‘What if? Even if I am not there physically, my soul will be liberated from the body and I will be with you for ever!” He thus foresaw his death.
Once Swami Yoganand came to see Gandhi. He asked Gandhi ,”Sir do you think, it is easier to be a bad man than to be a good man? To progress in a good path is difficult and to go deep down in a bad is easier. Don’t you think so?
Gandhi replied, ‘No, not at all. It may seem to be easier. But it is really difficult to become good. It is easier to go to hell but to be fit enough to go to heaven is far more difficult. We should not think that bad people are more in the world than good. If it were true, then God , the Creator also should have been bad. But God is the embodiment of Love.’
‘With devotion even if we worship plant or tree, there is nothing wrong in it. God’s powers can be felt even in plant kingdom. Without selfish motive, worshipping anything will elevate us. With selfish and narrow outlook, if we offer oblations to God that is not at all considered as true devotion’ Gandhi wrote thus in reply to his friend.
In Maganbadi, there was an Ashram. Gandhi asked him wife Ba and other leaders to remove small stones from grains like sesame. It was a tough job and was given to a servant maid. Gandhi came to know of this. He took a small plate and started cleaning the grains by himself. Gandhi’s wife realized her mistake and she herself offered to do the job and did it without hesitation.
In the Ashram, people celebrated Gandhi’s birth day on a grand scale. Gandhi had turned out hid fifty years of age.
Gandhi said, ‘As you rejoice at my birth day, so also, you should celebrate my death day too. You should not feel sad on the day of my demise. If you feel sad, there is no use of attending daily prqyers and chanting Bhagwad Gita.’
A friend asked Gandhi, ‘what is the inner meaning of Bhagawad Gita?’ Gandhi showed him a heap of bricks and said, ‘Count those bricks daily.
The friend got tired of counting the bricks daily. He told another friend, ‘This is the job of a laborer, not mine. I came here to know the inner meaning of Gita and not to count the bricks.’
Gandhi heard this and he answered him, ‘Haven’t you understood the secret of Gita! The inner meaning of Gita is selfless service and nothing else.
Gandhi went to meet Viceroy with a great intention. Yet nothing tangible had come out. Viceroy asked Gandhi. ‘When do you intend returning to Sevagram?
Gandhi replied, ‘If it is not inconveniencing to you. I would like to return this evening itself. There will be a lot of patients awaiting my arrival with eagerness. I should serve them.
Kamalnayan Bajaj , the son of Jamnalal Bajaj had been to foreign country for his higher studies. Gandhi sent his blessings to him and gave the following advice:
1. Speak sparingly.
2. Whatever people say, hear then, but do only that which you think correct.
3. Consider every moment as precious and do each work at its allotted time.
4. Live like a poor man; do not feel proud of your wealth.
5. Write account for what you spend everyday.
6. Concentrate on your studies.
7. Do exercise daily.
8. Be moderate in eating.
Those were the days when Satyagraha Ashram was started in Ahmedabad. Gandhi took a pot to fetch water from a well nearby. On the way he met a wealthy man who said, ‘I want to meet Mahatma Gandhi.’
Gandhi said, ‘Just one moment; come with me.’ The wealthy man lost his patience and spoke out, ‘I want to meet Gandhi urgently.’
Gandhi smiled, and said, ‘I am Gandhi. What have you got to say? Tell me!’ The wealthy man became dumb with wonder.
It was severe summer in Patna. Gandhi and sister Manu were staying in Dr. Syed Mohammed’s house. Gandhi used to dip his towel in the cold water of the mud pot and keep it on his forehead for a cool feeling. Dr. Syed, seeing this, told sister Manu, ‘why don’t you use everyday ice worth one rupee?’ Gandhi said, ‘You are rich people. But Manu and myself do not earn. Where shall we get one rupee daily? We live a simple life. Moreover ice harms our health, but the wet towel will do no harm.’
It was during the month of May, Delhi was abundant in mangoes. A devotee of Gandhi had offered a basket full of mangoes. Sister Manu prepared a glass full of mango juice and requested Gandhi to drink it. But Gandhi refused. He said, ‘I was asking you its price. You did not answer me. You might have used at least four mangoes for preparing juice. That would be not less than two and a half rupees. When many of my brothers and sisters are starving for want of food, can we spend so much for fruit juice? This cannot suit my body, nor my soul!’ Saying so, Gandhi distributed the juice among the children who were there with him.
Gandhi was staying in the palace of Agha Khan along with his wife Kasturba, Manu and other friends. The daily calendar page was to be torn by Meera and kept on Gandhi’s desk. Gandhi use the blank space of that calendar page for writing something. It so happened that one day Manu tore the page and threw it out. Gandhi asked, ‘Where is today’s paper?’ Manu replied that she tore it and threw somewhere. Gandhi would not accept it. He said, it should reach me. I do not know, how bring it back to me. Poor Manu searched the whole garden and at last she found the paper in the shape of a small ball near the cemetery of Mahadev Desai (Gandhi’s Personal Secretary). Manu brought it back some lost wealth.
Gandhi had a woolen blanket. He used to cover his head with that blanket. It had small holes here and there. Manu said that he could use a new one.
Gandhi replied, ‘You have your father to spend for you. Who is there for me? Moreover, I am not an earning member. So I shall not use a new blanket.’ Gandhi stitched the blanket himself and used it.
All were cutting tomatoes for cooking in the Ashram. One of Gandhi’s friends said. ‘I think you are engrossed in some deep thinking. It is this way to cut the tomatoes?’ Gandhi smiled and said, ‘You should learn from me the way of cutting the tomatoes. There will be some bacteria near the stem of the tomato. So you should remove that part and then cut it. It does not matter if some of the bits are not even. Beauty is not so important as the health is. Here more than the art, hygiene is to be given preference.
In Wardha, there is a place called Maganbadi, Gandhi was staying there for a few days. One day Gandhi saw a piece of soap in the water tub. He immediately called his friends and said, ‘We have no right to waste nation’s wealth like this. Ours is simple nation. To lead a simple life, we should learn to live economically.’
Gandhi was in South Africa where he had a Muslim friend. He told Gandhi, ‘Now I earn very little. Had I known English, I would have earned more.’ Gandhi offered to teach him English. But the friend said that he did not find time to go to his house and learn English. Gandhi would not yield. Everyday he walked four miles and went to his friend’s house to teach him English in order to make him financially sound.
There were some volunteers who underwent training from Gandhi to serve the villagers. Everyday they reached Sevagram at 9 in the morning walking five miles. They used to have one hour training from Gandhi. One day the head of the volunteers asked Gandhi, ‘After 10 o’clock it becomes very hot. Will you be able to change your timings?’
Gandhi coolly replied, ‘They are the people who are going to serve the villagers. Let them come at 1 o’clock midday. While coming, let them bring a piece of stone from the hill nearby, so that the path also will automatically be set right!’ Gandhi was very strict with the easy goers.
A friend asked Gandhi, ‘Do you believe in next birth? Gandhi replied, ‘Yes of course! But I cannot prove it. I have unswerving faith in the next birth.’
The friend said, ‘I wish, I get an opportunity to serve with you at least in my next birth.’
Gandhi answered, ‘Why not try to grab that opportunity in this birth itself, from right now? Why wait up to the next birth?
Sister Manu was removing Gandhi’s table from one corner to another. While doing so, Gandhi’s cup and plate fell down and broke to pieces. Manu brought a new plate and cup and kept them quietly on the table. Gandhi came to know about this. He strictly said, ‘You should have removed the plate and the cup before removing the table. This shows your carelessness. Breaking even little things makes me feel unpleasant. This should not happen again.
The then foreign Government filed a case against Gandhi for publishing an article, in a journal ‘Harijan Bandhu’. A friend told Gandhi, ‘As you stressed on truth, there is no way for escaping from your being punished. This is the opinion of the attorneys.’
Gandhi’s ready reply was ‘If because of sticking to truth. I have to accept death sentence, I am ready to do so, I am not going to strive for escaping from it.
A dear friend of Gandhi wrote a letter to him saying ‘Yesterday I had a dream. Lord Krishna appeared before me and said, Gandhi is going to reach his end. Let him worship me!’
Gandhi wrote in reply to him thus ‘Dear friend as for me, there is not a single moment left when I do not think of God. To me serving my people is worshipping the Lord God. Death is certain for anyone who is born in the world. Instead of thinking of God at the fag end of life, it is better to think of Him at every moment of our life and in every act we do.’
Gandhi sent Mr. Suhrawardi to Karachi to hand over a message to Mr. Jinnah personally. When he returned, Gandhi enquired, ‘Was it a lion?’ ‘That I do not know. This much is certain that I am a mouse but that one is a dangerous animal; that is sure’ Suhrawardi answered jokingly.
Gandhi in turn observed, ‘You are ticklish! The mouse got trapped in the net of a lion but it came out by biting the net; we cannot trust the mouse. Anytime it will bite us.’
Once Gandhi lost his pen. From that day he decided not to have any valuable thing with him. He had pen and ink to dip and write. The nib also broke one day it will be a waste of time if he waits for another nib. He sharpened the wooden holder of the pen and started writing dipping it in the ink. He said, ‘because of this time and money are saved; our work is also done. ‘With such a ready made pen, the first letter he wrote was to Lord Mountbatten.
In Sabarmati Ashram, Gandhi wanted to serve a sick a youth. Gandhi’s wife Ba was just having a nap. He did not want to disturb her. Gandhi knew that the young man was fond of coffee. Gandhi himself prepared a cup of coffee and served the young man. He asked him to taste the coffee prepared by him.
It was very difficult to have coffee in the Ashram. Therefore the young man was astonished at Gandhi’s great concern for him and his human feelings.
A worker in the Congress committee did not maintain the accounts property. Here4 there was a deficit of one thousand rupees in the account. Gandhi said, ‘It is due to your carelessness. This cannot be excused. You have to repay the amount.’
The worker had come all the way from South India to Sabarmati Ashram with are commendation letter for a sympathetic consideration. But Gandhi would not pardon him. He said, ‘Let him go by walk. He will not be paid train fare. Public money should be spent for the public. We cannot excuse him who does not maintain proper account for public money.’
After the death of Gandhi’s wife Ba, one day it so happened that Gandhi removed a small particle from the milk and then drank it. Noticing this, a friend asked, ‘One day when Ba brought a glass of milk, you refused to drink just because there was a small particle in it. How is it that you drank it now without protest?’ Gandhi felt a little sad. He said ‘What to tell about Ba! There is no comparison to her.’
It was October 2, 1933 Gandhi’s birthday. An organization ‘World Fellowship of Faith’ wished to have A birthday message ‘I do not know, how to give you any message through my pen when you could not grasp any message from my life?’
An American religious preacher asked Gandhi ‘What is your religion? Which religion will be embraced by India in future?’
Gandhi showed the patients resting in the room and said ‘Service to humanity is my religion. I never bother myself about the future!’
Gandhi showed the patients resting in the room and said Service to humanity is my religion. I never bother myself about the future!’
Gandhi was in Yeravada prison. Prison’s chief came to see Gandhi. After he went, Gandhi took a bucket of water and washed the floor. Another friend of Gandhi seeing his act, asked him why he was doing so. Gandhi answered. The officer entered with boots and the room became full of mud.
Gandhi said, ‘He should have known this. Anyway, I should be thankful to him. He gave me an opportunity to clean the room, which was dirty since days.’
A friend of Gandhi went to see him saying ‘We do not accept Gandhi completely. Anyhow we consider him as our leader, but not as a divine man.’ He was with Gandhi for one hour, discussing with him on various subjects. When he returned, he found a miraculous change in himself. He exclaimed, ‘In a small hut, in front of a small lamp he is sitting and doing such a lot of work for the welfare of the whole world. He is our foremost revolutionary leader. We are empty vessels making a lot of noise without any solid work!’
It was the year 1931, when Gandhi was in London, the then British Prime Minister had come to see Gandhi. At the same time, a mailman had come to see Gandhi with eagerness from a long distance.
Gandhi first met the mailman and after sending him, he met the British Prime Minister. For this he gave the reason thus ‘A political man can wait until the circumstances force him. He is used to it. But it is not the case with a mailman. He can not wait!’
It was the 80th birthday of the poet Rabindranath Tagore, (the Nobel prize winner). Gandhi sent his greetings thus ‘Eighty years not enough, one hundred years should be turned out.’
Tagore sent a reply to Gandhi saying ‘Thanks. To live for eighty years is impertinence. To live for one hundred years is an unbearable mistake.’
It was in the year 1947, October 2nd, when people wanted to donate a bag full of money to Gandhi for public service. Seeing the bag, the poetess Mrs. Sarojini Naidu asked Gandhi. ‘What will you do if I run away with this bag of money?’
Gandhi answered jokingly ‘I know that you are capable of doing so!’
It was in the year 1930, Gandhi and Mr. Kaka Kalekar, another patriot stayed together in Yeravada Prison. Everybody he used to break a branch of the neem tree for want of four leaves. Gandhi said ‘This is typical violence. You should hesitate before plucking the leaves, you are breaking a branch of it. It is an utter mistake on your part.’
In 1947, the Bombay Chief Minister, Mr. B. G. Kher inaugurated the Gandhi Gram where constructive work was to begin for the uplift of all the workers. This Gandhi Gram is near Madura in South India. For this function Gandhi sent his blessings.
Where true sovereignty prevails, there reigns success.
‘Is the world going in a correct path or not?’ A friend enquired Gandhi.
Gandhi answered ‘God is all merciful. As long as we have faith in Him, even if there are proofs that the world is going in the wrong path, yet I would believe that it is going in the right direction.’
In 1931 a British student asked Gandhi, ‘Why are you strict with people who use intoxication drinks?’
Gandhi answered ‘The reason is the boundless love I have for the affected people due to such drinks!’
Kastur Ba was ill. She said if sweet pancake is prepared she would take Bapuji also should take. But that was harmful for Ba. Hence Gandhi said ‘I will take sweet pancake only when Ba will not take.’ Ba wanted that Gandhi should take and hence she did not take. All the other Ashramites also took it.
Thus Gandhi used to care for the patients.
Dr. Syed Ahmed, a friend of Gandhi celebrated his son’s marriage. As Manu was just like a sister to the bridegroom, Dr. Syed presented her with 50 tolas of gold ornaments. Manu was hesitant because she knew of Gandhi’s attitude.
After ten minutes Manu came to Gandhi and asked, ‘Let us auction these ornaments and use that money for the welfare of our Muslim friends!’
Gandhi said, ‘It was a real test for you have decided to part with the jewels. You have passed in the test!’
A friend of Gandhi asked him, ‘Is humour necessary for life?
Gandhi replied, ‘If there were no humour, I would have committed suicide long ago!’
A representative of a journal in Simla asked Gandhi ‘Why don’t you see your face in the mirror?’
Gandhi jokingly replied, ‘Everyone who meets me looks at my face. That’s why I do not see my face in the mirror.’
Another question ‘Why don’t you use good bed, why do you sleep on the floor?’
‘I want to join myself with millions of my poor brothers who cannot afford good bed.’
‘Why do you travel always in a third class compartment?’
‘The same reason as above replied Gandhi.
‘Why don’t you see food with spices?’
‘That is not needed for the body. Why should we take anything that is not necessary for our body?’
The Times of India correspondent in Nagpur asked Gandhi ‘If freedom is attained what will be your relationship with the British?’
Gandhi replied ‘The lion and the lamb will live together harmoniously!’
It happened in 1945, Gandhi was travelling by train to Bengal!. Two more compartments were reserved for him. In other compartments people were in terrible crowd hanging in the train without seats. Gandhi saw this. He observed ‘We are going to Bengal just to serve the people. Why should we need so much of comfort, when people are not able to breathe in the compartments. Only one compartments is enough for us; let other one be given to people who are suffering for space.’
A big industrialist asked Gandhi ‘Do you need or me or my money?’
Gandhi replied ‘I need only you!.
‘Leaving my business, if I come empty handed, what will you do with me?’ he inquired.
Gandhi replied spinning the wheel (charkha) ‘Never mind, the spinning wheel is there. Why worry?’
Gandhi like to drink tea during the day. A friend of Gandhi once remarked ‘Mr. Gandhi you can not be without this stimulant, tea!.
Gandhi thought for a while. From that day onwards, he gave up drinking tea.
In 1913, Gandhi was in Johannesburg. There one day he was cleaning the kitchen of the Phoenix Ashram. At that time, a friend of Gandhi remarked you have changed your life according to your wish. But poor Ba, she has never had any happiness in her life!
Gandhi said ‘Who prevented her?’
Ba was standing nearby and said ‘From the day I stepped into your house, I have never lived decorating myself with ornaments and costumes!’
Gandhi asked, ‘Did I prevent you from wearing anything? Didn’t I get you gold bangles?’
Ba replied ‘When you have opted for a simple life, how can I have all extravagances? I wished to follow your path.’
In Agra a friend of Gandhi enquired ‘Have you taken your insurance policy?’ Gandhi replied ‘I insured in 1901. Gradually I thought, what insurance meant. It means, we lose faith in God, and more faith in money we are leaving behind for our family members. When I started thinking in these terms, I stopped my insurance policy.’
Malaria was fast spreading in Sabarmati Ashram. Gandhi wanted to know how to prevent this disease.
Doctor advised that everyone should use mosquito net.
‘Cover the body well with a blanket. Have a little kerosene oil and smear it on your face. Mosquitoes will not come.’
Gandhi did as the doctor advised him, without using mosquito net.’
A French cartoonist presented a caricature of Gandhi to him. Gandhi saw the picture and asked ‘Why are the ears so big? A professor standing nearby answered. The reason is, you have big pair of ears!’
Gandhi smiled and said ‘I have never seen me in a mirror. That is why I did not know whether my ears are big or small.’
In Birla Bhavan, Gandhi went one day to have his bath. In the bathroom he found Mr. Birla’s wet dhoti. Gandhi along with his cloth washed Mr. Birla’s dhoti too and brought seeing this Mr. Birla felt vey sorry.
Gandhi said ‘What if? I did not want the dhoti to get spoilt by other’s feet.
‘You have lots of work, why should you do this too, Sir?’ Mr. Birla asked.
Gandhi answered ‘There is nothing more important than making everybody clean and fresh.’
In Transval, Gandhi had a friend who killed his neighbor. In order to escape from the crime he wanted to have Gandhi as his attorney. Gandhi knowing the truth refused to be his attorney even if he was prepared to pay Rs. 1000/ as his fee. The friend with the help of somebody won the case and remarked ‘Mr. Gandhi, do you think, I will not win the case without your help?’
Gandhi replied calmly Of course, I know you have won the case by killing truth and honesty.’
Seva Sangh Anniversary was to be celebrated at Hubli. The place was presided over by the nature’s charm and beauty. Suddenly the clouds darkened, there was a heavy downpour of rain. A friend rushed with an umbrella to take Gandhi to a safe place. Gandhi refused to take shelter in an umbrella when friends like Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan were drenching.
Gandhi said ‘Let all people be taken to a safe place and at last I will come! Not before that!’
It was a moonlight night. Gandhi was writing something in the nature’s light at 2 a.m. Suddenly a friend woke up and asked ‘We would have lit of lamp for you. Why didn’t you wake us up?
Gandhi replied ‘In moonlight we can write. Only reading is a little difficult. The whole day all of you have worked hard and taken rest at night. I did not like to disturb you.’
The famous Dandi march was going on in 1930. When Gandhi was marching on, a man used to carry a stool and a heavy lamp on his head and walk along with Gandhi. While walking somebody bothered the man with the lamp to walk fast. Gandhi observed this and said ‘This is a cruel act. He is carrying a big load and to bother him is inhuman. Why not one of our volunteers carry this? If we are going to behave heartlessly like this, then there is no meaning of freedom we are talking about.
It was the time when Gandhi was called the Mahatma (the exalted one). At a public meeting Mr. Jinnah addressed Gandhi as Mr. Gandhi and not as Mahatma Gandhi. Some of the distinguished friends requested Mr. Jinnah to address Gandhi as Mahatma. But he did not do so.
Gandhi stood up and spoke thus ‘I am not a Mahatma. I am an ordinary person. We should not thrust our ideas on others. Mr. Jinnah should not be forced to do anything which he does not want to do. This kind of forcing will be a hindrance to our attaining freedom.’
In Gwalior Mr. Ram Narain Chaudhary was crossing a jungle along with his farmer friends. An armed crowd confronted them. They were dacoits. But knowing that Mr. Chaudhary was Gandhi’s follower, they shouted in ecstasy ‘Hail!! Mahatma Gandhi!’
Mr. Chaudhary was delighted to know that even the dacoits respected Gandhi as a great soul.
When Gandhi was in prison, a man working there got an autograph from Gandhi in a small book. Gandhi wrote in the book ‘It does not cost to be kind.’
The worker said that his attitude had thoroughly changed from the day Gandhi wrote that sentence in his book.
Gandhi was in prison in 1942. He wrote a letter to viceroy saying that he would be forced to go on fast if the people are treated violently. Gandhi’s wife Ba requested him not to mention about his fast in the letter. Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, the famous poetess of India consoled Ba saying, ‘Unless God ordains, Gandhi will not undertake fasting.’
Ba said ‘every time when he goes on fasting, he used to say God has ordained me to do so.’ Saying thus, she prayed in front of the Tulsi plant to give Gandhi a long life.
In Bihar there was a place called Champaaran, Villagers were flocked around a function when a small lamb was to be sacrificed in front of the deity. Gandhi went there and asked them
‘Why are you sacrificing the lamb?’
‘To please the Goddess.’
Is not man superior to a lamb?’
‘Then why don’t you sacrifice a man? All the people were standing speechless.
‘If you agree I am ready. You can sacrifice me,’ so saying Gandhi became ready to give away his life. People stood hesitantly. Gandhi said, ‘Go back of all of you. We should love animals too. Goddess expects such goodness from all of us’ saying so he let the lamb free.
A friend was indisposed in the Ashram. He needed some raisins. Gandhi sent him to his wife Kastur Ba to fetch some raisins. When the man went and asked for raisins, she got angry at first and said, ‘I have kept very little for Bapu and rest I have already given to the Ashram people. Who is that wants raisins now?
The friends mildly said, ‘I am not well, Bapu sent me to you to get some raisins for me.’
Ba became emotional. She immediately gave all the raisins she had and said ‘more than Bapu, you need it now. Take it.’
Gandhi said ‘This is Ba she cannot see any body suffering.’
Shivaji (the great hero and a warrior) Day was celebrated in the Ashram. Narain Rao Khare Sang devotional songs. Vinoba Bhave and Kaka Kalekar spoke about Shivaji mentioning how great saints like Tukaram, ramdas and Moropant respected Shivaji for his nobility.
Gandhi said ‘I don’t care about the historical facts. It is enough if I know that great saints had considered Shivaji as the embodiment of righteousness. That is enough for me to respect and revere Shivaji.’
Gandhi answered ‘It is certainly not nature’s phenomenon that the head must receive all the blood from the feet and feet be deprived of it.
It was in August, 1942; Gandhi went to Bombay to attend the All India Congress Committee. People of Sevagram requested him to return soon. Gandhi recalled his dear secretary Mr. Mahadev Desai who died in Agha Khan Palace (prison). He said ‘I wish to rest near my friend. ‘Friends said, ‘Please do not say so Bapuji! You should not die in prison! But Kasturba said ‘All will be set free, but this is my last place!
Gandhi felt very much when this happened true.
Gandhi was in Yeravada prison in 1922. There was something wrong in his stomach, so he was sent to Poona hospital for an operation. The operation was successful and within a few days he became alright. The doctor said ‘You are fine now. You need a little rest for some more days.’
Gandhi said, ‘Thanks. But let me remove the hospital dress and wear my dear khadi. Any dress other than khadi is like thorns to me.’
In Maganbadi Ashram one day Gandhi, along with his friend Mr. Kumarappa was busy cleaning the vessels. At that time suddenly Gandhi’s wife Kasturba entered. She got angry and said ‘Don’t you have any other work to do? Leave this place. I shall take care.’
Gandhi smilingly said ‘Kumarappa, I have to obey my wife. Otherwise I cannot have peace of mind. Let me go away You help he come afterwards.’
Mr. Andrews was with Gandhi in 1921 in the house of Mr. Chittaranjan Das. Mr. Andrews was inquiring Gandhi about a patriot, Vijay Singh Pathak.
Gandhi praised Vijay Singh whole heartedly ‘He is not a man of mere words, he is a man of action, very emotional, a man with guts. He is very much loved by his people. When Mahadev Desai went to see him, he proved himself a trustworthy friend.’
When Gandhi was in Lahore, a famous doctor came to examine him. Gandhi said, ‘I am alright.’
Doctor said, ‘Just for our satisfaction we have to examine you, Sir!’
Gandhi remarked jokingly ‘You are examining me without offering fees for me, and moreover you are taking my time too!.
Hearing this the doctor took out Rs. 16/ from his pocket which he got as fees from another patient and gave to Gandhi. Gandhi gladly accepted the amount and deposited it in the Harijan welfare Fund.
Viceroy wanted to meet with Gandhi urgently. He asked him to come either to Delhi or to Simla. All friends were urging Gandhi to go by plane or by special train. Jamnalal Bajaj was ready to take him by car. But Gandhi said ‘I do not want to waste the money of my poor fellowmen. It is delayed by one day, the heaven is not going to fall.’
Mr. Andrews used to call Gandhi as Mohan, Gandhi used to call Mr. Andrews as ‘Charlie’. One day Mr. Andrews wearing dhoti like a Bengal visited Gandhi.
Gandhi asked him, ‘Charlie, what is this wonderful dress? Just like ladies you are wearing dhoti?’
Mr. Andrews replied This is specially worn to meet with my dear Mohan!
People used to Bathe in the Sabarmati river. But due to winter, none dared to do so. Gandhi remarked God has given us a beautiful river nearby. He has given you legs to walk. Why don’t you take a dip in the river?
An Ashramite said, ‘Bapuji, god has given winter too. That is why we dare not go to take a dip!’
All people laughed at this, and Gandhi also enjoyed the joke.
It was the time when Ba was not well. She was kept in a small hut near Sevagram. Gandhi used to visit her morning and evening to enquire about her health. Sometimes if he was very busy, he used to go only in the mornings.
One day Gandhi went to Ba and asked ‘How are you feeling now?’ Ba replied ‘You are a great person Mahatma . You are worried about the whole world, why should you worry about me? Gandhi touched he forehead with love and asked ‘Am I Mahatma for you too?’
Ba became peaceful and her agony fled in a moment.
Gandhi’s wife Kasturba passed away. The final rites were to be performed. Before the funeral pyre to be lit, a friend wanted to add costly sandalwood to it. Gandhi did not like this. He said, ‘Ba is the wife of a poor man. How can a poor man buy sandal wood?’ The officer of the Yeravada prison gave sandal woods,
Gandhi said, ‘O.K. if the Government offers sandal wood. But for me Ba is a poor man’s wife’.
Those were the days when Gandhi was touring in South India. A newly wedded couple came to have his blessings. Gandhi saw them beautifully decorated. He said, ‘I cannot bless you free of cost. You have to give something for the Harijan Welfare Fund; only then you can receive my blessings.’ The couple were dumbfounded.
Gandhi came to know that the Bridegroom in the son of the Harijan leader Mr. M. C. Raja. Then he jokingly remarked ‘Oh, if that is the case, you are freed from this tax. You will get my blessings free.’
In Naokhali, one day Manu brought hot water for Gandhi to wash his feet. Gandhi said It is alright that we need hot water for bathing. It is not that cold to use hot water for washing our feet. Moreover, there are so many of our fellowmen who do not have enough of fire woods to cook their food. Then how can we be so extravagant?’
It happened in 1915 when Gandhi returned to India from London after having his graduation as a Barrister. Reporters of several newspapers were ready with so many questions. One man started to ask some question in English. Gandhi stopped him and said ‘Brother, both of us are Indians. Gujarati is the mother tongue of both of us. Do you think that I have forgotten my language as I have returned from a foreign country? Or do you think it is a proud feeling to talk to a Barrister in English?’
One day Gandhi was talking to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel a patriot. Suddenly he saw that his pencil was missing. He got a little angry and asked his private secretary Mr. Pyarelal where the pencil was. Mr. Pyarelal was searching for it frantically.
Mr. Patel remarked, ‘Bapu, I think he is a poet.’ According to Mr. Patel, an undisciplined man is a poet. Gandhi smiled. Then Mr. Patel asked ‘why did you get angry for this small matter?’
Gandhi answered ‘I am engrossed in so many things. Can I waste my time in searching for each and everything like this? Everything should be in its own place. That is known as cleanliness. Anything out of place is dirt.’
A foreign lady who served the Indians in India for several years met Gandhi and remarked ‘The nation’s poverty will be removed not by the charkha (spinning wheel). People should devote more time in farms and food production.
Gandhi answered ‘I think, you have not yet understood India. Spinning wheel can be handled by the young and the old alike. But food production or farming is not like that. People who are unemployed in villages should get a job then and there. For this, there is no parallel to the spinning wheel charkha. If you can suggest any better means for our livelihood, I assure you, I shall abandon this spinning wheel without any hesitation!’