the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229


Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India



Babu Janakdhari Prasad and Mahatma Gandhi


Babu Janakdhari Prasad was a freedom fighter of Bihar. He was an associate of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi guided him in freedom struggle. Mahatma Gandhi wrote many letters to him and delivered his name in his speeches. Babu Janakdhari Prasad was a staunch co-worker with me in Champaran. He has written a long letter setting forth his reasons for his belief that India has a great mission before her, and that she can achieve her purpose only by non-violent non-co-operation. But he has doubts which he would have me answer publicly. The letter being long, I am withholding it. But the doubts are entitled to respect and I must endeavour to answer them. Here they are as framed by Babu Janakdhari Prasad.  Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had no intention of being inattentive to anybody at Belgaum. But what was I to do? I had not a moment for personal chats. I therefore hardened my heart. You are morose. There is no occasion for it. Let us do the day’s work to the best of our ability and smile. All work faithfully done has the same value in the book of life. Why then should we worry? You have not asked any definite questions. But if you have any, pray do not hesitate to ask them. Be assured that you are the same to me that you were before. I treasure the memory of the faithful coworkers of Champaran. I shall never have and never had a more faithful band to work with. If I had such a band throughout India, swaraj will not be long in coming to India.” 1

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I was delighted to receive your letter after such a prolonged interval. I note the difficulties the school is going through. Faith has no limitation of time. That which is limited by time is not faith at all. If therefore you have bondless faith in your mission, I have not a shadow of doubt that it will succeed, the cause being right. With reference to the two difficulties my prescription is the same. At the present moment, the atmosphere has become so impure that I cannot advise the formation of any new party or group. Those of us who do not believe in aggressiveness with regard to Hindu- Muslim unity, and do not believe in Council-entry in any shape or form must each one remain true to our ideal. We do not need any organization to keep up our spirits. Those who need that outward help are wanting in deep conviction and I am anxious that only those who have deep and abiding conviction should remain out. For, it may be that there are still greater trials in store for us. Those, therefore, who have weak faith, will then succumb. It will be the indomitable remnant that will carry the day in the end, because, I see no freedom expect through non-co-operation. My faith in it is growing with time. I hope you are keeping excellent health.” 2

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “How should I forget you? Your letter though saddening is welcome. I shall deal with it in I.E. Meanwhile consult Rajendra Babu and, if you find that you cannot usefully carry out the constructive programme, you may resign in a body. But this means that you will work away at the Congress organization whether you are one or many but only non-violently and truthfully. If you do not understand this and if time presses elect your office-bearers. There is always time for resigning, if you cannot work satisfactorily. Let nothing be done in a hurry.” 3 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have somewhat studied the question now being expounded by Dr. Besant. I have not been able to enthuse about it. Everyone has to earn his own salvation. I did come in touch in a place like yours where you are living as one family, it is impossible to separate the Mussalman teacher from the Hindus and ask him to dine apart from us.” 4

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I was grieved to hear of your fever and happy to learn at the same time that you have pulled through. I do not feel inclined to make time for reading the literature about the ‘Coming of the World Teacher’, because it would not carry conviction to me. If a great teacher comes down to the earth, he would leave his mark whether we recognize him or not. So long as we believe in and worship God with all our heart, we are on the safe ground. He will make our way clear to whatever we should do.” 5 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “There should be nothing between God and us, if we are to be nearest to Him. Love between husband and wife is a hindrance, for that love as we understand it, is necessarily exclusive and necessarily personal.

Faith in God cannot be reasoned out. It does not come from the head but from the heart, and, things of the heart are spontaneous and instinctive. Our very weakness and limitations should inspire faith in the Perfect and the Limitless. And if we have that faith, we would necessarily be without troubles, miseries and the like.

Why do you say that you are not serving the public cause because you are drawing Rs. 50 per month? Everyone who serves the Charkha Sangh undoubtedly serves the nation. It would be foolish to expect in this poor country to work without even being fed. That other people have no regard or love for you because you are not a flourishing lawyer is no cause for sorrow. But it is a good cause for congratulation, if you can be happy without wealth and public esteem. Why should Babu Vindeshwari Prasad seek your protection? If he has the conviction that it would be right in giving up his practice, he should delight in earning his starvation wage as millions of our countrymen are doing. If he is repentant that he gave up his practice, he should resume it. As for your children the true education that you can give them is to bring them up as honest labourers. And that education can profit them and the country; and instead of your children being a burden on you, will be blessing to both. I hope your wife has completely recovered. Let me say that the Ashram constitution is undergoing a drastic revision and at the present moment, the desire is not to take any more for at least one year. Therefore, if your wife should desire to come here during the next one or two months, please write to me before you think of sending her.” 6

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The word ‘labour’ covers the work of service such as you are doing but it cannot cover artistic, literary or other pursuits for pleasure. I see that your reference was to the eldest son of Vindeshwari Babu. I am sorry for the mistake. Of course I do not anticipate any difficulty about your wife.” 7 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It is better to leave a body one has outgrown. To see the dearest ones as long as possible in the flesh is a selfish desire and it comes out of weakness or want of faith in the survival of the soul after the dissolution of the body. The form ever changes, even perishes. The informing spirit neither changes nor perishes. True love consists in transferring the self from the body to the dweller within and then necessarily realizing the oneness of life inhabiting numberless bodies. After all we are very human. The ability to suppress is the preliminary to eradication. Let this death of one whom you loved be a means of enriching your faith in the future and in the oneness of all life. If this oneness was not a fact, we would not have been blessed with the capacity to forget the death of dearest ones. Let this death also spur you on to greater dedication to service.” 8 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have purposely refrained from using your name. You will have to lead the way by defying the priesthood yourself, and you will find, as I have found elsewhere, that the boycotting priests will immediately quiet down and want to perform the ceremonies, for they would not want to lose the income that they get from the performance of these ceremonies. They proclaim the boycott today, because they think that thereby they will be able to get more money from frightened people, and you will find too that you will presently get reformers who will gladly officiate at these functions. That was what Dr. Rajan was able to do. Do please continue to write to me whenever you feel you have something to say to me. As for your personal struggle, no prayashchitta is necessary except that you should resolutely live apart from your wife, and you will soon find you will be quite all right. You must develop the will to enforce this resolution. The other thing you ask is much more difficult. You attain to ‘param’ i.e., truth, by constantly practicing it. The saying that a man becomes what he thinks is a scientific truth. Here thinking does not mean the mental vapours. It means perfect accord between thought, speech and deed, and when there is that completely, you are within sight of Truth. I wonder if it is clear to you.” 9

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “On going through the arrears of my correspondence, I came upon your letter of 28th August last. But, before I came upon your letter I was often thinking of you, and only the other day I discussed about you with Jamnalalji. Your children are so young that it is very difficult for any institution to take them without you and your wife. That means you must find something there. The first thing is that you must humble yourself and put yourself on a level with the common labourer and bring up your children to become labourers. But even labourers should have education. That education should be given by you. Your wife should also labour. If you will accommodate yourself to this life, a great load will be off your mind, which itself would soothe your nerves and much of the dyspepsia would also go under the stimulating effect of the new life, that is, if you take it joyously. Unless we who have received a fairly liberal education affect a revolution in our life, we would simply remain parasites that we are living on the sweat of the famishing peasant. You should discuss this matter with Brijkishore Babu and others. I would like you to be the pioneer of the new thought and the new movement, and yet it is really not new, for, I gave it currency when I returned to India in 1915, and have been trying to live in accordance with it, however imperfectly I might have done it. You have, therefore, to perfect it.” 10

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “You must not give way to grief as you have done. I hope you received my letter written to you on 15th inst. There need be no apology for writing to me. Do please write as often as you wish. You have every right to have my opinion and advice. If you can accept the advice I have given in my previous letter, it will solve all your difficulties.” 11 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I wish that I could have a heart-to-heart chat with you. I shall try to write to you at length in spite of the pressure under which I am working. But I know that the letter will never yield the result that a brief conversation can. From your letter, I had gathered that you were not fit to seek imprisonment, and knowing your domestic difficulties as I now do, I feel that until those difficulties are satisfactorily solved you ought not to think of imprisonment. By labour I mean any kind of physical labour that you may be able to perform. Such labour for you is tailoring, shoemaking and any other healthy labour that you can think of. Whilst you will not immediately earn much, it will mean a mighty revolution in your life. Your children will then be brought up as labourers. As such they will not have to struggle so much to live, as you do just now. And when your attitude is changed, you will set for yourself and the whole family the labourer’s standard of life. Your wife, if she accepts the revolutionary change, will also be doing her share of labour. You will be interested to know that my sister, because she will not live in the Ashram, owing to non-observance of untouchability, earns about Rs. 15 per month by grinding. Giri, who with her three daughters and two sons was in the Ashram for seven years and whom I declined to support on the breaking up to the Ashram, but whom I advised to take to some labour is now earning from the labour of her two daughters nearly Rs. 30 per month by preparing sweetmeats and fritters for a hotel-keeper and her son is earning about the same as a carpenter. Dal Bahadur Giri was not a labourer. He was living an almost aristocratic life. I believe that the widow and her daughters are happy. They have not cut off all connections with me. Two daughters are grown-up girls, marriageable, but have no present intention of marrying. They can read and write but they have learned the dignity of labour, and therefore are not a burden on society. Now I hope you understand what I mean by physical labour now for the education of your children. If you accept the revolution that I have suggested, naturally the children will be brought up by you. You will give them not merely a literary training but you will give them also training for labour with their hands. Immediately you begin this life you will find it to be a pleasure and all your difficulties will automatically be solved, and you will be rendering a distinct service to society by setting a wise example. I do want you to get out of the mood of despondency and helplessness. Do write again if this does not explain all I mean.” 12




  5.   LETTER TO JANAKDHARI PRASAD, November 24, 1926
  10. LETTER TO JANAKDHARI PRASAD, October 15, 1933
  11.   LETTER TO JANAKDHARI PRASAD, October 25, 1933
  12.   LETTER TO JANAKDHARI PRASAD, November 26, 1933



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