GANDHI IN ACTION network

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

E-mail- dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net;

dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com

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

 

 

Dr. Dinshaw Mehta and Mahatma Gandhi

 

Dr. Dinshaw Mehta was a famous associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He met Mahatma Gandhi first time in 1930. He helped to Mahatma Gandhi to established National Institute of Naturopathy in Pune. Mahatma Gandhi spent 156 days here in 1944. Mahatma Gandhi appeal, “I have had the kindest service from Shri Dinshaw Mehta and his staff during my 21 days’ fast and after. It was all voluntary labour. I believe him to be a sincere lover of his profession. He has passion for naturopathy. Being myself a believer in natural and simple remedies I am deeply interested in his experiments. He is at present in financial difficulty. The friend who has hitherto supported him liberally is unable to do so much longer. His minimum expenses are in round figure Rs. 3,000 per month. His loss is half that amount. He therefore wishes to make public appeal for funds. If the help forthcoming is large enough he would use the fund as an endowment. He keeps accounts which are open to inspection.” 1

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Let us not be in a hurry about the land. Things are being delayed, but there is God’s hand in it. I understand what you say regarding my fast. Nothing about it is yet certain, or even whether it will be for forty days or less. I continue to pray. I should like to be with you when I undertake the fast but nothing about this fast is going to be left to my choice. After all am I to seek my convenience? Is the fast to be undertaken for the sake of my health? It will be for God’s work and He will take me where He wants. Please make no preparations for me. Be engrossed in your own work which will be your greatest contribution. Neither of you should worry. Let Ardeshir make progress; he has still farther to go. Teach him non-violence.” 2

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I observe silence during the day to conserve my energy. I have not yet come to have faith in milk therapy. But if I had an opportunity to stay with you I would certainly take it, watched by you. At the moment I have no wish to leave this place. I am also attending to the work here. I shall come to you when God takes me there. There are some differences between us. But that does not worry me. That I can take work from you is enough for me. Your letter to Devdas is sharp but you did right in writing it. You could only have written what you did. In fact I had written to him before you did. The trust will be formed But whether it is formed or not, we propose to start the work if we can have just enough land for it. Even otherwise you are not sitting idle. Ardeshir will be making good progress. I understand what you say about Jinnah Saheb.” 3

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have your letter, the cheque, the photograph, etc. I shall return the photograph with my next letter. No one prevents me. I just cannot bring myself to believe in the efficacy of milk therapy. For the rest I would certainly like to stay with you. Our differences, such as they are, will disappear of their own accord. The contribution from Ghanshyamdas at any rate ought to remain anonymous. We may not even identify it by some name. He will continue to pay us till the figure is reached. The amount will not come to us in a lump sum. The records will of course show a small amount. I should like to include the names of Bhiwandiwala and Fikriyar Jung. I shall write to you about it. I can’t think of anything more to write at the moment. I think I am working a bit too much.” 4

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Of course I could see your unhappiness. But Sushilabehn made me realize that you were even unhappy than I had thought. There is no cause for it. Nothing has been spoilt. The matter has been talked out, which is only to the good. We have got to look for the land. All that has happened is that the matter has been somewhat delayed. We are meeting in Bombay. If our talks there are doomed to break down let it be so. We don’t want to keep anyone by force. And would a forced association bring credit? It is a stupendous task. I am not at all scared even though it is mainly my work. What you have created will of course go on. I am not so much interested in it. But I am certainly interested in what is being done in Andhra, because it is like village work. Now I learn that even that has defects. But if the finding is correct it is a great discovery. I don’t like your drawing conclusions so hastily. If you persist in it you will not be able to achieve anything great. Certainly you will not be able to serve the villages. Please bear in mind that as from today you are in possession of the Sevagram land. It is not to be thrown away. That experiment is to be conducted directly under my supervision. You should understand the work being done and bring credit to it. Only then can you be said to have made an advance. However, for this you will have to take to simplicity. I think the Bangalore venture is no good. We must not break up our establishment in Poona. It is impossible to build up in Bangalore without breaking up in Poona. Gulbai must write to me.” 5 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Can Vanamala, Manu and Abha be accommodated with you? It is not yet clear which of them will be willing to go. Why were you burdened with Rs. 1,000? Is the position there still delicate? Is your mind at peace? You consider experiments on living animals and taking of glands, liver and so on as part of nature cure. That seems to me going too far. This needs to be considered. It will not matter if you do not reply to this. Only you must think over it. I am all right. Mangaldas Pakvasa is doing everything. He may come here. I went and saw the land yesterday. I have not been to see the land recommended by Pandit, and I don’t intend to go. Gulbehn gives me a bath daily.” 6

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Strictly speaking it should not be necessary to send you the enclosed. But since there is time I am sending it so that later on you or I do not have to think about it. I have written that the third clause, which I have marked with a cross, may be retained as it is because the clause about the Managing Trustee is not to be left vague. The rest is according to the instructions. Return Pakvasa’s letter and the Trust-deed along with your letter. I have also written that Hindustani may be ignored as far as the Trust-deed is concerned if the Hindustani translation takes time. Ardeshir accompanies me on my walk every evening. Gulbehn has stopped holding him in her arms while going for a walk. This is as it should be.” 7

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Today is the 28th. I am dictating this from a village in Midnapore. I have sent a full reply to Munnalal’s letter. He had informed me that it was written on behalf of all of you. I don’t know when this will reach you. I only hope that everything will change from January 1st. My heart is there. When I shall be there is in God’s hands. He will take me there whenever He wills. A sign-board in Hindustani, Urdu and Marathi was to be put up there. Have you done it? Or have you put it off till I come? Do you still have the ‘big’ monied patients or have they left? If they have stayed on, will they agree to be in the same line with the poor? What did you do about the hospital furniture? Did you get the pieces you wanted for your Bombay unit? Or shall I have to see to the matter myself? I know I shall have to put up with the monthly expenditure there. A number of questions have been raised in this connection; I shall remit the appropriate amount after I get a reply. I do not expect a large number of indoor patients moving in soon. I take it that those who have already applied to you will be the rich ones. There is no question of our admitting them at the moment. It will be a different matter if we admit them after the new norms are established and the rich agree to stay with the poor. Of course, I strongly feel that you should adapt yourself to the new pattern in full knowledge and faith. I hope Gulbai is fine. I expect it is now nearing time for her confinement.” 8

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It will not be becoming for you to admit some patients privately in your Poona clinic. It does not at all look right that the same person should run a charitable department and a profit-making one. You may if you wish retain the Bombay clinic; I have agreed to put up with it. The expenditure at Poona is my responsibility from January and I have made an arrangement for that. In the end the monthly expenditure at Poona ought not to be as much as Rs. 3,500 but if it is, so be it. If we render service worth that amount it will not irk me. At the moment the main question is whether you may open a separate profit-making clinic in Poona. I have expressed my opinion in this regard. What you write about Gulbai is somewhat strange. She is at present with child, so we must patiently put up with her whims. I shall certainly write to her not to meddle with the affairs of the hospital.” 9

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I shall reach there on the 19th. I shall write later by what train. We shall be about 11 or 12 people. This time I am not coming as your guest, but for the sake of the work that we want to do there. This time my party as well as I will meet our food expenses only from the funds reserved for the poor. You need not, therefore, incur any expenditure on that account. I will reimburse then and there whatever you spend [on our account]. That too would not be from my own account but from the money that is earmarked for the poor out of the hospital fund. The other that lies with me has not been earmarked for any particular purpose. And this amount belongs to my rich friends. Whatever amount now remains with you is what you have earned yourself and for your personal expenses. And I have no right to take a single piece out of it, for after having become a trustee I should not regard it as my right to draw anything from that amount. As regards accommodating me, I shall put up wherever you ask me to, i. e., in the room you have reserved for me or in any part of the hospital or in a tent. I don’t at all regard it as inconvenient for me to put up in a tent in this season. And I shall not find it inconvenient to stay throughout the year in a place with a tiled floor. You had such a place made for the Working Committee. You are not to incur any expenditure on my account. If I don’t proceed with a hardened heart as I do, I will not be worthy of the trust, nor will I be able to serve the poor through the trust. I hope you, Gulbai and Ardeshir are fine, and I expect Maji is enjoying peace and happiness. From there I shall return on the 1st of March. I expect to go to Poona again on the 19th or 20th of March.” 10 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I continue to think about you. I also had a talk with Jehangirji. The poor will never be treated properly unless a sanitary Sense awakens in you. The servants’ chaw is a shame. Filth reigns. I think you should remove them from there. This is your task and nobody else’s. It cannot be done by others. Something can possibly be done only if you hand over vacant possession of the premises. You may transfer absolute custody on a date which you would yourself appoint. You can relieve Munnalal with immediate effect if not also a few others.” 11 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have known Dr. Dinshaw Mehta for a long time. He has dedicated his life solely to nature cure of his conception. His one ambition is to see a full-fledged nature cure university established in India. A university worth the name must be predominantly for the prevention and cure of the diseases of the poor villagers of India. No such university exists in the world. The institutes in the West are designed more for the rich than for the poor.” 12

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Dr. Dinshaw Mehta has a lot of experience of nature cure, he has gained this experience in towns. When he was conducting his nature cure home in Poona, though he took in poor patients, he gave them the same treatment as he gave his rich patients. As I conceived nature cure for the villagers, it should confine itself to such remedies as are available in the villages and should do without the aid of electricity and ice. This would be the limit of this treatment.” 13 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have been planning to write to you but could neither write nor dictate a letter till the pressure of the Working Committee [meeting] was over. Today all the [members] of the Working Committee have left as also the Congress President, hence I am dictating this letter early in the morning. I have been thinking all these days about what you mentioned to me last time. I don’t feel like making for you such arrangements as you desire in connection with the work I expected from you. Since you want to serve the villages you should appreciate the position and learn to live among and become one with all the others in the institution. And if you cannot learn this in my company it is going to be very difficult for you to learn it in any other place. If I were to create for you the facilities that you desire it would only mean that after all you can practice nature cure only under certain conditions, which means only in the towns or where urban conditions can be created. I don’t suggest it is a failing on your part. I have many friends whose habits are similar to yours. I content myself with whatever I can get out of them but you have yourself said that you want to give me much more and accordingly I hope to take from you a great deal. I shall persuade myself to be content even if I don’t get as much as I hope. In that case both of us, or rather all three of us, will have to understand this. And I for my part do believe that under the present circumstances it does not seem as though you would be able to work here comfortably. But then only after I stay with you for some time and you get more used to me will you be in full flood. In case the Gujarati language of this letter is incomprehensible and if you often come in contact with Valjibhai you may consult him or the boys at his house and they will be able to correctly interpret the letter to you. I would recommend that you should be in frequent contact with him. He is very cultured and is also a man of erudition. It is worth paying a visit to his house. It will not be surprising if I happen to go to Delhi from here. But I don’t know. Read out this letter to Gulbai. It will be good if Jehangirji is also made familiar with the ideas expressed herein.” 14

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I will not address you in the honorific plural. I cannot help writing to you today. Jehangir’s letter has only a line about you. My heart cries out for you. Why should you, an adherent of nature cure, feel distressed? How can your sorrowing alleviate others’ sorrow? Hasn’t a nature cure practitioner himself said: “Physician, heal you. If you can get away from there and if you are still depressed, come to me and have the cure for your depression. Never mind if I am in Delhi or Sevagram or anywhere else. I hope Gulbehn and the children are well. Mother must have now recovered.” 15 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “It is all right if you stay for the sake of Mother and your hotel. You have my permission to come over whenever you want to. Your mind must become calm. I hope Ardeshir and the little girl are all right and Gulbai is also well. My stay here has been prolonged.” 16 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Today is the seventh day of my restricted diet. I am fine. The main reason for my going on this diet was the cough and eruptions. Now it will continue and I may even go on a fast. The reason is the current massacre in Bihar Whatever will be, will be. God is the doer as well as the under. There is no need to rush to me. Serve your mother who is there. Place your sanatorium on a sound footing. Write to me and ask me anything you want to. Gulbai, I hope, is well and so also are the children.” 17  

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Nature-cure treatment is not only for the body but also for the mind. Your duty at present is to stay near your mother. You can think of coming here only after she is all right. Whatever you are doing there, you are doing as a matter of duty. Moreover, there is also the work of the sanatorium, which also you must attend to. I am carrying on as usual. God is there to take care of me. I have not given any address because we don’t stay at one place. It will do if you address the letters to Khadi Pratishthan, Sodepur. For the time being, I may not have to go on a total fast.” 18 Mahatma Gandhi talk with Dr. Mehta, “On the 3rd September, the second day of the fast, when Dr. Dinshaw Mehta saw him in the morning, Gandhiji reported that he had had a very peaceful night both physically and mentally.

 GANDHIJI: I am not at all anxious to terminate my fast. At this rate though the body might become weaker and weaker I feel I could go on even for one month.

 DR. MEHTA (misunderstanding Gandhiji’s meaning): Yes, if you can take that much amount of water there will be no difficulty. What I meant to say was that I have a feeling of the presence of God within me this time as never before. . . . If Ramanama has fully penetrated my heart, I am sure; I shall not need to drink even water to survive.” 19

 

References:

 

  1. APPEAL FOR FUNDS FOR DR. DINSHAW MEHTA, June 26, 1934
  2. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA November 15, 1944
  3. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, January 21, 1945
  4. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, February 3, 1945
  5. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, February 20, 1945
  6. LETTER TO DR. DINSHAW K. MEHTA, June 11, 1945
  7. LETTER TO DR. DINSHAW K. MEHTA, June 12, 1945
  8. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, December 28, 1945
  9. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, January 1, 1946
  10. LETTER TO DR. DINSHAW K. MEHTA, February 14, 1946
  11. LETTER TO DR. DINSHAW K. MEHTA, February 24, 1946
  12.   Harijan, 17-3-1946
  13. Harijan Sevak, 11-8-1946 
  14. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, August 15, 1946
  15. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, October 10, 1946
  16.   LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, October 21, 1946
  17.   LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA November 5, 1946
  18. LETTER TO DINSHAW K. MEHTA, November 18, 1946
  19. Mahatma Gandhi-The Last Phase, Vol. II, p. 416

 

 

 

 

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