GANDHI IN ACTION network

the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Esther Menon was associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He loved him very much. He wrote a lot of letter to him. He disclosed everything’s to him. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 5 February 1922 that I have your welcome letter. You were certainly right in your attitude. Let the Government do what they choose. Please keep me informed of what goes on. I am in Bardoli preparing for mass civil disobedience. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 5 October 1925 that I am writing this at Deoghar which is a beautiful place in the Bihar tour. I have always thought of you all. I was much relieved to know that you had completely recovered and that the recovery was due to an Indian medicine. I hope that, having regained your health you will keep it. It is good that Miss Petersen is to go to Denmark early next year. She deserves the rest. It is nice too that she will leave the school in a progressive state. I had no doubt about its success. Patience was all that was needed. In these days of many bogus or selfish things, people look askance at anything new or out of the ordinary. Have you read the constitution? I have no desire to leave India until non-violence is more firmly rooted than it is in the soil. I know that it is truth, but I may be a poor representative of it. This I know that I cannot live without truth and non-violence. If you take up the task of writing my biography, you have to pass many months at the Ashram and, may be, even travel to South Africa and visit Champaran and Kheda, probably the Punjab, too. It is a big job if it is done thoroughly. It was in these places I tried to work out non-violence as I understand and know it. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 11 December 1925 that I was looking forward to hearing from you for a long time. I was therefore delighted to hear from you. I am glad you are better. You have heard all about my fast? I am none the worse for it. I have almost regained the lost weight in ten days and am now resting with J. at Wardha. Miss Slade whom we call Mira is with me and is coming to the Congress. She was glad to get your letter. She will write to you, I expect, if she has not done so already. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 10 February 1926 that I have your letter and I have the parcel too from Menon. There are no directions in the parcel beyond saying that there is a powder as an opening medicine and the contents of the bottle are for malaria. So far as I am myself concerned at the present moment, I am free. If I get a renewal of the attack I do not know that I can take the medicine, for as you are aware, I can take only five ingredients during any 24 hours whether for food or for medicine, Most of these Ayurvedic medicines contain dozens of ingredients. Therefore, however useful they may be in themselves, for me they are perfectly useless. But so many people get malaria here and I would gladly try Menon’s remedy if I get the directions. Please, therefore, ask him to send them to me and if he knows the ingredients, lie may give me an idea of them. Now about Friendship. You have used the word ‘friend’ in three different senses. If we have the capacity, we can all become friends as Jesus was. There, the word ‘friend’ means a kind helper. The friendship between ourselves and those who are superior to us is also a one-sided thing. A father is and should be his children’s friend. There it becomes companionship with the good, satsanga as it is called in Sanskrit. What I have written about is intimacy between two or more persons, where there is no secret and where mutual help is the consequence of, not a motive for, friendship. The motive is some indefinable attraction. It is this exclusive relationship which I have considered to be undesirable and antagonistic to communion with God. Such was the friendship between the person I have described in the Autobiography1 and me. Does not spinning naturally interest you? I should expect you, if you spin at all, to spin because you are interested in it. And if you are interested, you should master the mechanism and keep your instrument in perfect order as you will keep your stove in order if you are interested in cooking. Spinning for me is an emblem of fellowship with the poorest of the land and its daily practice is a renewal of the bond between them and us. Thus considered, it is for me a thing of beauty and joy forever. I would rather to go without a meal. Without the wheel and I would like you to understand this great implication of the wheel. If you are to spin at all, I do not expect you to take up the wheel simply because I commend or the Congress recommends or because it is likely to be of economic value. I am daily picking up strength little by little. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 30 April 1926 that I have your letter. I do feel disturbed about your health. You must regain your original freshness and strength. When do you expect your sickness? I am sorry to hear about the disorganization of Miss Peterson’s school. I have not received any yarn yet from the girls referred to by you. You can have as much khaddar rags as you want and soft used khaddar.1 If you tell me what length you require I shall see to it being sent. It is difficult to fix any price for used khaddar. You will therefore either send what you can or not at all. You will not stint yourself in anything for the sake of paying for the khaddar that you may order nor will you on this account hesitate to ask for the exact quantity you want. I am glad that Menon is helping poor patients in the way he is doing. What does it matter so long as you make both ends meet and it need not matter even if one cannot make both ends meet in acts of service. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 23 June 1926 that I have your letter. Now you know everything about the much talked of visit to Finland. I felt that the time had not yet arrived for going. I could see no clear definite light. Undoubtedly, had I gone to Finland, I would have gone to Denmark also. I had made that definite promise to Anne Marie and I would have loved to have seen your own home. But that was not to be. Mirabai is doing quite well and she is standing the heat wonderfully well. I am glad you have a helper. You have not yet told me what sort and what quantity of old khaddar is to be sent to you. But Maganlal has made a parcel. It is being despatched today to the address given by you at ‘Craiglea’ I suppose ‘Craiglea’ is the name of the cottage in Kodaikanal. It is quite like Menon that he should be devoting himself to the care of the sick. You refer to Rs. 10/-. Nothing has been received here as yet. Nothing need be sent. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 16 July 1926 that I have your letter. Why must you enter into all the explanation in respect of Rs. 10/-? I would be grieved if you pinch yourself for sending me Rs. 10/- or anything. As there was a question in the Ashram as to whether the money was received or not and whether, if it was received, it was mislaid, I told you about it. But, it would please me better if you will keep the khaddar and not think of paying for it. After all, what has been sent to you is second-hand khaddar fromold stock belonging to the members of the Ashram. Nor need you hesitate to ask for more if you want more. I am delighted to hear of the progress made by Nani1. It would be an achievement if she speaks three languages equally well when she grows up. I suppose, the strong will she inherits from her mother and gentleness from her father, or, will you say vice versa? It is too early to think of what I shall do next year. But, if I do come to the South, I would love to go to Porto Novo. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 8 August 1926 that I have your letter. At least at the top of it you have my own writing and, for the time being it should be enough. I too detest the typewriter. I have a horror of it, but I survive it as I survive many things which do not do lasting harm. If someone dispossessed me of the typewriter, I should not shed a single tear, but, as it is there, I make use of it and, even believe that some time is being saved for more useful work. But, even in this belief, I may be totally wrong. It is so difficult to raise superior to one’s surroundings always. Evidently Anne Marie is doing great and good work. Prejudices die hard! But, wherever there is earnestness, there is no difficulty about breaking down the hardest prejudices. It will be a nice thing when Menon has his own hospital. Mirabehn wanted to go through 7 days’ fast as a spiritual experience. She completed it this morning and broke it on fruit juice. She took the fast extremely well though she has lost ten pounds in seven days. But that of course is nothing I do not expect much from the Viceroy. He may be well meaning, but mere good intentions count for little. But as you have very properly guessed, I can only say, whether it takes long or short, salvation must come only through us. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on 20 August 1926 that I have your letter. I did not misunderstand your remark about typewriters. On the contrary, I liked it. The literal meaning of an ‘ashram’ is an abode, but the associations about the ashram are these: It should be simple? It should not be merely a teaching institution. It should contain predominantly those who are pledged to perpetual continence. It should have associations of sannyasa, meaning detachment from the world. It should, therefore, be a voluntarily poor organization. There should, therefore, be rigid simplicity about it. Its object must invariably be formation of character with a view to self-realization. The idea of master and servant is wholly repugnant to such an institution. All men and women in an ashram are expected to do bodily labour and all enjoy an equal status. The idea of superiority has no place in it. The head of an ashram is in the place of a parent and he is expected to regard the rest as his own children. I wonder if I have now given you fairly the characteristics of an ashram. It grieves me whenever I find that a medical man is weak or ailing. It is a perpetual reminder to us that medicine is such an incomplete, such an unreliable, and such an empirical science. If we think about it with sufficient detachment, we would at once realize its inherent weakness by understanding that there is no such thing as an absolute cure. The most potent drugs admit of innumerable exceptions. The most successful operation leaves literally and in the context is not ascertainable. spirit a scar behind. It would certainly be a good thing, if you could hasten your departure for Denmark. Change of climate will be the best cure. What you say about fasting is quite true. It has no absolute value and it certainly does not produce the slightest spiritual effect if the motive behind it is not really spiritual. Fasting with a mixed motive ends with purely material results. But fasting for the sake of unfoldment of the spirit is a discipline I hold to be absolutely necessary at some stage or other in the evolution of an individual. I always considered Protestantism to be deficient in this particular. Every other religion of any importance appreciates the spiritual value of fasting. Crucifixion of the flesh is a meaningless term unless one goes voluntarily through pangs of hunger. For one thing, identification with the starving poor is a meaningless term without the experience behind. But I quite agree that even an eighty days’ fast may fail to rid a person of pride, selfishness, ambitions and the like. Fasting is merely a prop. But as a prop to a tottering structure is of inestimable value, so is the prop of fasting of inestimable value for a struggling soul. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 17 September 1926 that The Roman Catholic fast which you refer to in your letter is really no fasting at all, but there is or there was a real fast also amongst them. However, whether they have or they had or not is of no consequence to us. Neither fasting nor anything else that is imposed from without can be of any value. You need not have apologized for raising the question about Christ. In spite of most devout attention to every word ascribed to Jesus in the New Testament and in spite of my having read in a humble spirit all about Jesus, I have really not seen any fundamental distinction between him and the other great teachers. That you see a vast difference between Jesus and the other teachers I can understand, explain and appreciate. That is the teaching you have imbibed from childhood and you would read everything else with that unconscious conviction. Nobody taught me in my childhood to differentiate. I have therefore grown without bias one way or the other. I can pay equal homage to Jesus, Muhammed, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster and others that may be named. But this is not a matter for argument. It is a matter for each one’s deep and sacred conviction. I have no desire whatsoever to dislodge you from the exclusive homage you pay to Jesus. But I would like you to understand and appreciate the other inclusive position. What Menon has told you about the pecuniary difficulty is quite correct. But so is your remark1. You will come here if God makes the way clear for you. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 26 October 1926 that My blessings on the addition to the family. Hope you and the baby are steadily progressing. Any of the names suggested by you is good. The shorter the better. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 26 March 1927 that I have your pathetic letter. I was wondering why there was nothing from you so long. Now I know. It distresses me to find you in such a dilapidated condition. I am writing this in the midst of distractions. I have not a moment to spare. I therefore send you my love and prayerful blessings. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 18 February 1928 that I had your two letters under one cover. It did appear to me that you had forgotten me entirely, and yet I knew that that wasn’t possible. Was looking a picture of health when I saw her at Madras, and she told me all about you. You must have heard about the relapse in my health. I am now under strict orders not to do any serious work involving mental or physical strain. Except for spinning, therefore, I am on my back. I am dictating this whilst spinning. But there is no cause for anxiety. I am getting better and hope soon to be allowed moving about. Yes. The Ashram remains what you have seen it to be. The population is daily increasing and we have too few houses to accommodate all the inmates. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 22 June 1928 that I have your two letters. Maganlal’s death has not only upset all my plans but has prompted me to make what may appear revolutionary changes in the Ashram. I must not therefore give you a long love-letter. If all goes well and the friends in Europe still want me, I hope to find myself in readiness to go next year. I can understand your being ill in India, but why should you be ill there. I expect you to return with your original bloom and vigour. How long do you both expect to be away? Where is Menon studyng? Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 12 October 1928 that I had your letter after a long lapse of time. It was therefore doubly welcome. I hope that this finds you in better health and that if there was an operation that it was quite successful and has left no ill effects. The Ashram is undergoing many changes at the present moment. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 25 January 1929 that I have your letters, including the one you gave to the Danish sisters. They were here for over a week. They left only two days ago and they told me they enjoyed their stay at the Ashram. They had their meals at the common board at which over 175 men, women and children sit. Maria has written me that you are still weak and have not completely recovered after your operation, but that you and Menon are due to return at the end of the year. I shall be glad to see you both and the children face to face. Nothing is yet decided about my European visit this year. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 7 June 1931 that after having kept me waiting for many long months you have at last written to me. What a bad thing that Menon has not yet got his diploma. I had a letter from a mutual friend saying that you were disheartened over this failure. This is unworthy of you as I have known you. No failure, no adversity should dishearten you who have a living faith in God and his goodness. We do not know that every failure is a matter for sorrow nor do we know that every adversity is an infliction. Do we not often find that prosperity and success mean the undoing of people whereas failures and adversity chasten them? I do not know that I am going to London. If I do, I will of course love to go to Denmark and if I went there I should not like to miss you. But it is no use speculating on a highly problematical thing. I do hear from Maria, now and again. After dictating this I came upon another letter which mentions you more intimately. This letter is from Dr. Henning Dalsgaard. In that letter he says you are cheerful but he asks me whether I can do anything for Menon. I do not however find any concrete proposition. Have you any such in view? If you have, you will not hesitate to tell me and of course if I can rely upon my doing thing, you know also you can rely upon my doing it. Gita teach is that all our acts must be natural and spontaneous even when unconscious. When they are so, there is no thought of reward or result. There is, therefore, in pure love no giving and no taking. Put in another way there is no giving on earth without taking. Love gives because it must; it is its nature. It therefore does not calculate whether there is a corresponding gain. It is unconscious of the giving and more so of the taking. Love is its own reward. When there is that ineffable love, there is a joy which is above all the so-called joys we think we experience from outward circumstances. It is that joy I want you to possess. There was a time when you thought, I thought, you had it. But you had not then gone through the fire. The joy that will surely be yours one day will come out of the purifying richness of that fire. It will steal over you when it does come. May it come soon. We are both well. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 13 April 1932 that I am always glad when I hear from you. Your letter is interesting and revealing. You are still fretting somewhat. That you should get over. If we have trust in God, we should not worry even as we would not when we have a trustworthy doorkeeper or guard. And who can be a better doorkeeper or guard than God the never-failing. It is not enough that we sing about such things or have a mere intellectual grasp. It is necessary to feel the thing within. Feeling is exactly like feeling pain or pleasure. It admits of or needs no argument. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 29 May1932 that This is silence time. I have your longish letter—none too long for me. I forgot last time to tell you I had received the book you sent me. I shall read it as soon as I can. Every minute is pre-mortgaged. Any new reading or other work that comes my way has therefore to await its turn unless it is of such paramount importance as to warrant suspension of current work. Feeling is of the heart. It may easily lead us astray unless we would keep the heart pure. It is like keeping house and everything in it clean. The heart is the source from which knowledge of God springs. If the source is contaminated, every other remedy is useless. And if its purity is assured nothing else is needed. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 18 July 1932 that I have your letter. Do not fret, if you don’t hear from me at the expected moment. My correspondence has been upset a bit. I am hoping that the matter will be soon put right. However, a prisoner has got to be satisfied with facilities that may be given to him for the natural satisfaction of his healthy wants. When you see the invalid sister, you must tell her I often think of her. I wonder if you ever visit that little school1 in your neighborhood for defective children. I thought the institution had earnest workers. If you have the time, I would like you to know more of the institution and its managers and tell me how it progresses. You tell me how desolate Bajaj’s house looked for want of the woman’s touch. I have always considered this a result of our false notions of division of work between men and women. Division there must be. But this utter helplessness on the man’s part when it comes to keeping a household in good order and woman’s helplessness when it comes to be a matter of looking after herself are due to erroneous upbringing. Why should man be so lazy as not to keep his house neat, if there is no woman looking after it, or why should a woman feel that she always needs a man protector? This anomaly seems to me to be due to the habit of regarding woman as fit primarily for housekeeping and of thinking that she must live so soft as to feel weak and be always in need of protection. We are trying to create a different atmosphere at the Ashram. It is difficult work. But it seems to be worth doing. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 4 August 1932 that Brotherhood is just now only a distant aspiration. To me it is a test of true spirituality. All our prayers, fasting and observances are empty nothings so long as we do not feel a live kinship with all life. But we have not even arrived at that intellectual belief, let alone a heart realization. We are still selective. A selective brotherhood is a selfish partnership. Brotherhood requires no consideration or response. If it did, we could not love those whom we consider as vile men and women. In the midst of strife and jealousy, it is a most difficult performance. And yet true religion demands nothing less from us. Therefore each one of us has to endeavor to realize this truth for ourselves irrespective of what others do. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 30 September 1932 that even from this distance I could realize your agony. But God never comes to us except through the way of fire. There is a deep unconscious joy felt during such purifying agony. I hope that you were partaker of such joy during the trial. I saw or rather heard your name together with those of Horace Alexander and Andrews among the senders of a loving message from England. I am growing stronger day by day. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 4 October 1932 that I have your long letter on 4th September. That is a bygone age. After the fast is like a new birth to me. I am rapidly gathering strength. The lost weight has almost come back. The lost strength will take a little time. The days of agony were also days of inner joy. It was a little penance for the great sin of untouchability committed by millions against their fellow beings. But you know all about it by now. You must try to get rid of your rheumatism by steam baths and a diet free of much starch and proteids and full of fresh fruit. I wish you could persuade Nan and Tangai to go to a public school and live down the prejudice, i.e., if the teachers welcome the idea of their going there. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 11 November 1932 that I have your latest letter telling me how in ecstasy2 you would have run to the telegraph office to wire to me and how you subsequently realized that that would have been wrong if only because we are poor people and all the money we had, had to be held in trust for God’s service. And I had your long love letter which you had sent to the Ashram address. Well, the fast was well worth it even for enabling Menon to give up smoking. The value lies in having given up a thing which had so possessed him. I know that many young men and young women, old men and old women were moved to such restraint and self-denial during the fast week. It shows that it was from God. I saw and we all admired the group photo with Andrews in it. It was very good. And the bare-bodied Tangai. She looks a perfect picture. I expect in your next letter to see the account of your visit to the diseased sister. I had a long letter from the Sunfield School people giving me an account of the new buildings. You must not trifle with your body by putting into it things that will not suit it. You cannot build your body on pulses. You do not need them at all. Your diet must consist largely of milk, eggs. you do take them and it is well you do) and whole-meal bread and fruit and green vegetables, salads, tomatoes, spinach, marrow and the like. Even as a soldier keeps his arms clean and in order so must we keep our arms (God-given bodies) clean and in perfect order? I have almost regained my strength and am taking normal food. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 5 November 1932 that You are not to worry over the approaching second fast. It may not come at all. But if it does come, let it be a matter of joy to you. Life to be true must be a continuing sacrifice. Enjoyment does not come after. Sacrifice is the enjoyment. All taking must be for greater giving. This is becoming more and clearer to me. Therefore you will watch in utter calmness, joy and prayer what is happening and may happen. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 5 January 1933 that if I am to cope with my correspondence, side by side with untouchability work, I can only dictate letters for the most part, and even then be brief. It is a fortunate thing that I have been allowed the facility. The untouchability work was going beyond my capacity in spite of the assistance I received from Vallabhbhai and Mahadev. I wish I could do justice to your long love letter. I cannot send you anything like it. I see that you have Andrews settling down in Woodbrooke. You will, therefore, have him always by your side, a 1 The letter was presumably addressed to Nellie Ball; vide the following item and strong support to lean on whenever you are in need. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 17 February 1933 that I know quite well what my visit to London meant to you. We do not know God’s hidden ways. If we only submit to Him, He makes us do many things even unconsciously to ourselves. It will be such a joy to me if you never find yourself in the Valley of Despair, for, to be there even for one moment means lack of faith in a living God. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 24 March 1933 that I have your long letter after some waiting. The account of your meeting is very interesting. It was impossible that with all the earnestness and force you could put into your words you could fail to be effective. The Cross undoubtedly makes a universal appeal the moment you give it a universal meaning in place of the narrow one that is often heard at ordinary meetings. But then, as you put it, you have to have the eyes of the soul with which to contemplate it. I am glad you are mothering the Muslim girl from Hyderabad. You must tell me more of her when you have known her more. I never knew that people out there ever carried loads on their heads. Is what you saw the usual practice in your part of England? What could be the weight and what are the receptacles made of in which the load is carried? What is the distance that is covered? Is it the ordinary house-refuse that they contain ? I hope Hans has found an answer to his prayer. Maria wrote to me the other day and I saw how glad she was that you were at last coming. She is weary with fatigue, both in body and mind. She is almost on the verge of breaking, and I am anxious that, whilst she is still fit, she should run away to Kashmir and give her body and mind rest for a few months. She needs it desperately. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 15 December 1933 that I had your touching letter. Well, you have to rejoice in your suffering both mental and physical. You must now do what satisfies your own inner voice. And the end will be all right. Of course Maria will be cut up. But we are all in God’s hands, not a blade moves but by His command. If we had all our own ways, the world will go to pieces. It is perhaps as well that our wishes are often frustrated. It is the test of our loyalty to God that we believe in Him even when He refuses to fulfil our wishes. I want you therefore to enjoy perfect peace even while things seem to you to be all going wrong. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 25 February 1934 that I have your letter. I am glad fruit reached you safe. Another basket was sent. Do not hesitate to ask for more when you have the need. I don’t wonder at Maria’s dragging my name with your alleged breach of promise. My conscience is clear. I would not have tolerated your remaining with me if a breach of promise to the children had been involved. But from Maria’s letter I gather that her complaint against me is deeper and wider. I wish she would discuss the whole thing with you. And if she does not, you need not worry. I have written to her at length and invited her to unburden herself completely. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 1 April 1934 that I had your long letter after keeping me waiting for a long time. There is not in your letter enough search for truth that is, the hidden purpose of God. When we know that God Himself is the mystery of mysteries, why should anything that He does perplex us? If He acted as we would have Him do or if He acted exactly like us, we would not be His creatures and He our Creator. The impenetrable darkness that surrounds us is not a curse but a blessing. He has given us power to see the steps in front of us and it would be enough if Heavenly Light reveals that step to us. We can then sing with Newman, ‘One step enough for me.’ And we may be sure from our past experience that the next step will always be in view. In other words, the impenetrable darkness is nothing so impenetrable as we may imagine. But it seems impenetrable when in our impatience we want to look beyond that one step. And since God is love, we can say definitely that even the physical catastrophes that He sends now and then must be a blessing in disguise and they can be so only to those who regard them as a warning for introspection and self-purification. I understand what you say about the children. I am glad that you are in Kodaikanal with the children. You will let me know when Menon gets something. Agatha Harrison is with me. It is rather a trying time for her, not being used to the Indian life. But she is standing it bravely because she wants to learn everything that she can in the shortest time possible. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on 6 September 1934 that I held up your letter all these days in the hope of being able to send the answer myself. But I must deny myself that pleasure and dictate this letter if I am to overtake the arrears. If proof were needed God is proving for me His greatness and goodness every day. You remember the hymn “Count your many blessings”. I think it is in Moody and Sankey’s Hymn Book. I can’t even count the blessings, they are so many. For even the so-called sorrows and pains He sends descend like blessings. If we knew His love, we should know that He has nothing but blessings and never curses for His creation. I hope Tangai is quite free and both the children are flourishing. You must have now received the spinning-wheel. I hope that Menon is well-settled. I am flourishing. My weight has gone up from 94 to 101 lb. I am going through a fair amount of work and taking regular exercise. Mira is doing good work in London. She expects to be back in October. Andrews was here for over a week and he has now gone to Simla. He will come once more to Wardha before sailing, most probably on the 6th October, for London. He was looking quite well. He has brought a Welsh blacksmith with him from South Africa. Mr. Jones that is his name, has recently joined the Oxford movement and considers himself a changed man. We all liked him very much. When Andrews goes to England, he will go back to South Africa. Pyarelal and Mahadev are here. Ba has gone with Ramdas to Sabarmati where Ramdas is to have rest and cure for his ailment. Devdas was here for a few days. He left yesterday for Bombay. He is likely to come back for the Working Committee meeting on the 8th. This, you will admit, is a fair family budget of news. You must write more regularly than you have hitherto done. I don’t expect to move from Wardha yet for some time. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 23 September 1934 that I have your letter and now letters from children. I am glad that they like the place. Of course you cannot give another name to your bungalow, and the expression “Vision Bungalow” is quite good and significant. Andrews was here a week ago and he would be back on Tuesday from Santiniketan. Mira expects to be in Bombay just in time for the Congress session. Ramdas had fever and general debility. He is now better. I understand that the spinning-wheel was sent to Porto Novo, and I hope that it has now come to you. I would like to know the progress made upon it Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 14 November 1934 that I have your letter. I am glad Nan is restored and no more wants to go to Denmark. Of course, there is no place for any child better than the mother’s lap. But that is an ideal state which we may all strive after though we may ever fail to reach it. I am sorry to hear about Maria. Who can replace her in her school except you? And just now you are out of the question. I wish a way out was found to enable her to go to Denmark and get the change she so badly needs. I do not remember having received your letter on the Temple-entry Bill. Was it sent after my returning to Wardha? If you can reproduce the argument please do so and I shall endeavor to reply. I did hear about the death of Jack Hoyland’s son. Andrews was then here. We sent a joint cable1 of condolence, and I had a full account of the death from Hoyland. It was a sad thing. Mira returns on the 22nd bringing with her Khan Saheb’s daughter who was having her education in London. Mary Barr is here from her village home and has brought a friend just arrived from England. Mary has taken wonderfully to the Ashram life. The weather here just now is superb. Ramdas returned with Ba four or five days ago. He is very weak, but I think he will pick up strength here. Andrews is likely to be here in December, for a fortnight or so. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 17 January 1935 that I have your letter and the children’s. Tangai1 is a wise girl and so she has learnt to resign herself to the sorrows that come to her.2 The spirit of resignation is bad when sorrows come out of our conscious errors; but when they come for reasons we do not know and cannot know, resignation is the proper thing. In other words, constant endeavor and surrender to the will of God have to go hand in hand. Your description of your visit to Porto Novo and Maria’s losing herself in her work is very good. My feet won’t let me walk, because immediately I try, the crack reopens. C. F. Andrews could not write to you as he had no time whatsoever. It was touch-and-go whether he would be able to catch the steamer he did. Both A.I.S.A. and A.I.V.I.A. are absolutely non-political associations. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 25 February 1935 that she is a good, well-meaning woman. She told me she was with you. Yes, the children have to be in Kodai for their health’s sake. It grieves me to think that Menon has still to draw funds from Denmark. But of this we must talk when we meet. So Maria cannot go home! It is no easy work to love India with all one’s heart. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 25 February 1935 that I have just finished reading your precious letter. My heart was weeping as I was reading it. Do you know this Tamil proverb “ Thikkatravanukku theivamay thunai”? It means God is the help of the helpless. He will help you and comfort you. You must not lose faith in His mercy and His healing power. You should have written to me much earlier than you have done. But better late than never. You should tell Menon all that the children feel. What is done is done. God had a purpose behind this marriage. You are neither spent nor bent. You way is clear. You should take the children to Denmark or England if your expenses can be easily found. If you cannot stand that climate, you should return to India leaving the children to the care of those who would take them. If this is not possible, you should live on a hill where you can be all the year round and bring them up as Indians in Indian surroundings. I think they are too good to resist this. To bring them up in India in a European school is fatal for their moral growth. Of course I should love to have you and the children by my side. But they won’t stand the climate and probably the surroundings also. Do not hesitate to write to me as often as you need. I am well enough to attend to your letters. I tried to secure something good for Menon but failed, i.e., I could not secure the salary he would need. But if he is freed of the care of the children and even you, he can take up an ill paid post but one in which he will have ample experience. Whatever the ultimate issue, you must not be anxious about anything. Remember that God takes the burden of all our cares on His broad shoulders if we will but let Him. This is as true as it is true that I am writing to you. Only His way is not our way, His shoulders are not like ours. But there is all the beauty in doing His will. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 30 April 1936 that I have your long letter. I have read it with the deepest interest. You have a tough problem in front of you. If you can, you should come to Nandi Hill to see me. I reach there on 10th May, D.V. God will guide you. You must not worry. Take things as they come to you when you cannot alter them. I am writing this from the village Segaon where I want to settle down. Mirabai is here already. She will go to some other village, if I settle down here. I do not want any of the old co-workers with me, if I can help it. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 14 May 1936 that May God give you full strength to live up to your motto, ‘It is no easy matter to count always loss as gain, in joy as well as pain.’ I know anyway that your life is not in vain. Of course you are right in not coming to me. You will come, when God wills it. I hope Tangai is quite well again. Kisses to the children. See if they would write to me. Here is a little note2 for them. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 19 June 1936 that you are naughty. You will write on all the sides of your letter without giving any direction as to where you began writing in all the margins. Why don’t you add one more sheet? But no more of grumbling. I sent Saraswati and Kanti as I thought you would like to see them. Strange! I have a letter from Maria2 this week. She shows considerable anxiety about you. It must be torture to K. that he cannot do just what he thinks is best for want of funds. We have however to take comfort from the fact, God does not always allow us to do what we think is the best. I suppose we don’t always know what is best. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 26 March 1940 that It seems ages when I heard from you last. Therefore it gave me joy to see your letter to Charlie who has forwarded it to me for disposal. Why have you not been writing to me? I know you are careful about my time. But I do want an occasional line from you. The girls are the biggest problem for you. But there too you have to trust God to lead you. No use fretting about things we cannot mend. How are you keeping yourself? Charlie had a narrow escape. He is still bed-ridden but out of danger. I saw him often enough when I was in Calcutta. Mahadev, who has just returned from Calcutta, brings news of slow but steady progress. For the family here, I am keeping fit, Ba has a persistent cough and is weak, and Mahadev is living here. The place is fairly crowded. Mary is still in the village of her choice sticking to it in spite of difficulties. Gandhi wrote a letter to Esther Menon on dated 26 March 1940 that You must trust God and be cheerful. Everything pales before the tragedy that is taking place in Europe. Can nothing be done for Tangai?

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