the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Mahatma Gandhi and his Manilal & his wife-III

Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 16 February 1936 that I have been getting your letters, but I was helpless. Of course I did have energy enough to write, but chose to follow the doctors’ orders. Now I have got the permission to write a few letters such as this. What about the Agent’s betrothal? You write nothing about it. Perhaps your next letter will bring the information. If you have not written to me of this already and if there is something I should know, do write. Write to me whatever you wish as regards Indian Opinion. Now my health may be said to be good enough. There never was anything to worry about. All I needed was just rest and no more, and I am still under orders to rest myself though I have started writing a little. You must have heard from someone about Lakshmi’s illness. Ba is with her. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 30 March 1936 that I got your letters. As for Medh, Ba tried very hard. If no help is available there, it does not matter even if all the savings get exhausted. In no time can one earn the money again if one’s health is restored. Failing that, one should cheerfully remain in God’s keeping as He wills. I follow the idea of leaving Sita in the care of A. You should do what you both think fit. In my view it would be a great thing if all preserve their health. We are in Lucknow for the present and shall be here till the Congress session. To Wardha thereafter. I may be said to be well enough now, though it cannot be said that I have regained my strength. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 13 April 1936 that I got your letter. I have gone through the article on the Agent’s marriage. It puts forth a good argument but it cannot be said that it is written in good English. Some mistakes have gone undetected. However, it does not matter. I say this only to draw your attention to it. What is essential is clarity of thought although it would be good to write a language faultlessly. Of course a mistake in a foreign language may be excusable. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 21 May 1936 that I got your letters here at Nandi Durg. The photos are excellent. I have sent them to Ramdas and Devdas. What is Ali doing? Are Ali and Ismail partners in business? What is the trade they carry on? I hope they are not baffled by the great rise in population. I should be glad if someone would look after your work and you could make a trip here. But avoid the temptation to visit me if you cannot save the necessary money. Do not incur the heavy expense merely for the sake of a trip if you all keep well and enjoy other amenities too. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 8 June 1936 that I have the letters from you both. You must have read of Harilal’s exploit. I am not sending you a separate copy of my article as it has appeared in several newspapers. Nor have I anything to add as I have said enough in my article. Ba has been unhappy but bears it very patiently. Kanti is calm. I should have no worry or objection if he reforms himself now. We shall reach Wardha on the 14th. Tari is still not cured of her ailment, but she is bound to get well if she follows my treatment with patience. All the youngsters here, both boys and girls, are at present busy sight-seeing in this State. Lakshmi has been keeping indifferent health. She fell ill at Bombay just when Devdas was about to leave for this place. Ramdas is doing his agency business satisfactorily. I have not the least grudge against Sushila’s going to live in the city. One has to practice self-denial for the children’s sake. Without this the latter cannot advance in life. It is just proper that both the children are with you. I shall be satisfied if you do not Anglicize them, but bring them up under the influence of dharma. Do not let them forget their mother tongue and also teach them Hindi. I should like them to learn Tamil since you are living there. None of your acts should encourage in them an infatuation for English. They will acquire a working knowledge of the language. However, if one acquires knowledge through one’s mother tongue, one can better understand, digest and utilize it in one’s life. But then this is what I think is wise. It is for you to adopt the course that you both find agreeable. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 18 July 1936 that I got your letter. For some time past I have not been able to attend to your letters regularly. There is nothing special concerning Harilal for the present. He goes about talking at random. Sushila seems to think that I am insisting on your coming over here, but I don’t remember having suggested such a thing in any of my letters. I do not think that you need come over if you are comfortably settled there. I would of course wish you not to feel helpless. Do what you both think right. Ba, Manu and Kano came over to stay with me yesterday. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 16 August 1936 that I have your letters. There is no need at all for you to come here if you are happy where you are. No matter where we are we should render whatever services we can, and regard the people wherever we are as members of our own family. The true meeting is that of hearts, and they are quite close though we are millions of miles apart. If the hearts of two prisoners in the same cell are not one their physical proximity is meaningless. Hence, I do not long to have you come here to see me. You may live there permanently if you find your peace there. Now a surprise for you both. Kanti’s mind is now set on getting formal education and obtaining a degree. However one may try, he cannot possibly be deterred. I tried hard, but without success. Now, the question of the expenses for his education remains. Kanti, too, agrees that it cannot be paid from the public funds and that it would be a crime to take anything from his mother’s sisters who have already spent a good deal on him. Hence, either you three brothers should pay his expenses or he must earn and learn. In my opinion, you three should share the burden, which is likely to be Rs. 75 to Rs. 100 a month, though I do not know about it. It is enough if you give your share of Rs. 33. Start sending the sum if you agree with the proposal. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 24 August 1936 that I have your letters to me and have also read the one to Kishorelal. The idea of having share-holders does not seem right. Where there is a field ready for share-holders, one for customers and expert workers can well be assumed. Having share-holders does not mean having subscribers or expert workers. In my opinion, there may be difficulty in getting men in spite of a flow of funds. Plainly speaking, the subscribers to Indian Opinion are not exactly its readers but rather patrons. This is a pitiable situation. You should stop running around and find another honest trade which can support both of you. You may pay the loss in running Indian Opinion or those who desire its continuance should give a guarantee to bear the loss. You should close down Indian Opinion if this cannot be done. The insistence on continuing it could be right only up to a point. You ought to have the ability to support yourself by means of some other trade in case Indian Opinion cannot run. You should also be equipped to support yourself solely on agriculture. You ought to think over all this patiently. Very little help can be had through exchange of ideas across this distance. You alone know the present condition there. It may, however, be right to inform me before taking a final decision. If there is no time for it there is no harm in deciding independently. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 4 October 1936 that I liked the letters from you both. Manilal, it was your dharma to have pointed out my shortcoming which you did, nor was it indecorous. Filial piety consists in respect for parents in spite of one’s knowledge of their shortcomings. In that test none of you fail, barring Harilal. But the fault is not entirely Harilal’s. For how could we hold him responsible for what he does or says under the influence of drink? I shall not write a long reply as I am surrounded by patients. Mirabehn as well as Nanavati are better today. I do not repent for the kind of education I gave you brothers. I should have been glad if I could have done more along the same lines. I offered you at the altar of my sacrifice, not unmindful of your well-being but knowing it fully well. Nor do I believe the result has been unhappy. There was a special purpose in sending Sorabji1. He achieved it too; we could have seen it had he lived. As for Chhaganlal2, he was sent to prepare himself for a specific task. It miscarried because he was threatened with tuberculosis and left England abruptly. How do you forget about Ritch and Polak4? There was a purpose in sending them and there was one also in not sending you brothers. By the time you had reached the age of discretion my infatuation with Western education had worn away. It was not that I did not provide you such education for want of money. The Doctor’s purse was always at my disposal. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 18 January 1937 that I am writing this letter at 9.30 p.m. while crossing one of the numerous creeks in Travancore. Half an hour’s trip has proved to be one of three hours. Let us see when we reach our destination. As we are not carrying hand-made paper with us, I am using this. If I don’t write now, I don’t know when again I shall be able to. My companions are Rajkumari, Prabhavati, Mahadev, Pyarelal and Kanaiyo. This is a real pilgrimage. I never visited as many temples as I am doing now. Besides, the devotion with which I visit them was not there before. The throwing open of hundreds of temples to Harijans after the launching of the temple-entry agitation for Harijans is no ordinary event. You will read about all this in both Harijan and Harijanbandhu. I am hoping to reach Wardha on 24th. I hope your affairs are going on well. Sushila, you must have recovered completely and must have found out the cause of the miscarriage. I hope Sita also is well. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 4 February 1937 that How is it that you suffer miscarriages so often? Both of you should think over this. This is a matter in which no one else’s wisdom can help you. Those who lead a thoughtful life and are filled with devotion to God, always succeed in finding the right path for themselves. I only wish that you should not become an invalid. You did not have much hope for Shanti from the very beginning. You got his services so long as he owed you a debt from his previous life. You will have to wind up everything there if you do not succeed in finding anyone to take up your work. Isn’t that so? I hope Sita is better now. Accustom her to hip-baths and friction-baths. Haven’t I already written to you about her food? Milk, whole-wheat flour in very small quantities, green vegetables like gourd, bitter gourd, amaranth lettuce, etc. I see that it is better to eat onions and garlic uncooked. Starchy foods like potatoes, etc., should be eaten sparingly or excluded altogether. Among fruits, pineapple, oranges, mosambis, grapes and similar juicy fruits. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 15 February 1937 that I feel ashamed that I am not able to write to you. I do remember that I have to write but can’t because of the pressure of work. I will be more careful hereafter, even if it is only two lines that I can write, as is the case today. But please be content since there are long letters from Ba and Manu. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 3 June 1937 that I have liked your letter. It is indeed true that my statements contain several implications. Therefore, the meaning that you have read is possible. But the statement also implies the other meaning that you have suggested. Truth need not be made bitter. Nor need it be embellished. If one person wounds another with a sword and a witness describes the incident, such description by itself is not bitter, though the consequences of the testimony may be bitter for the assailant. But that doesn’t make truth itself bitter. If, however, the description of the assault was full of exaggerations, we might say that truth had been made bitter. After saying this, I may add that if I had to make a choice, I would certainly prefer bitter truth to untruth agreeably. If, in trying to change bitter into agreeable language, you are likely to kill truth, you had better stick to bitter language. You have always been unlucky in the matter of helpers. You have never had a really good man. But you have got a good helper in Sushila. I wonder how you could have managed to pull on if you didn’t have her. Even from the point of view of self-interest, therefore, Sushila must improve her health with good food, exercise and water treatment. Mr. Kallenbach has at last arrived. He is fine. For the present he is here. Tithal may be described as a small village about six or seven furlongs from the sea-coast. We are staying in that village. We are leaving on the 10th and shall reach Segaon on the 11th. I have just got a letter from Harilal. I am enclosing it as a sample. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 21 June 1937 that I got Manilal’s letter. Kallenbach will leave this place on July 7. I hope that he will come back in December. Here he lives just like one of us. He wears only a dhoti, but sometimes a shirt also. He has purchased a lot of khadi and got some dresses made. This time he is not at all inclined to go anywhere for sight-seeing. Next time when he comes I will send him to visit the Taj, etc. In Segaon, where there was only one hut, several houses have come up now. There seems to be no end to the construction work. The number of residents also is increasing. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 20 July 1937 that I sent one letter for you with Mr. Kallenbach. I didn’t have your letters before me when I wrote it. If what you write about Omar Sheth is true, it is a sad chapter of his life. If you think it would be proper for me to write about the matter. I might do so. Do you wish that I should write? Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 11 October 1937 that Your letters are regular and quite informative. I have no grounds for complaint; you have some. My hands are so full that I missed the last mail. Only today I am snatching the time. I am writing to Ramdas separately at Johannesburg. It is certainly unfortunate that he could not stay with you. But Kallenbach2 thought of Ramdas only. His has been military [discipline] always. We should not grieve over it. I understand what you say about the Agent. We have to suffer many such things. If we can remain unaffected by these experiences, we have learnt our dharma and the art of living in this world. The sweet and bitter experiences that you are having there are also common here. They make up the variety of this world. If one gets a bed of roses every day, would one attach any value to it? Hence the great need for religious meditation, reading, and conduct. You may come if you can both or either of you. It does not matter if you cannot come. Don’t come at the cost of the work there. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 20 December 1937 that Don’t worry about me at all. Don’t believe the newspapers. If there is anything serious, you will no doubt get a cable from here. What Sushila says is correct. You needn’t thank her for any help she may give. It would be strange if she did not help. We used to sing a bhajan in Phoenix, one line in which ran: “A true lover’s love is that which expects no thanks or return for courtesy shown”. “Vinayni purni” means “thanks or return”. Either of you will be starting soon now. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 3 February 1938 that Welcome to you all. When are you coming here? Akola is just on the way. Nanabhai1 is not keeping well. Go to him first; it is like a pilgrimage. We leave for Haripura about the 7th or 8th instant. I take it you will accompany us. I am keeping well enough. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 29 May 1938 that It is perfectly true that you do not get justice. I cannot myself manage to write. I have asked Kanu. I have tried numerous arrangements, but when I myself am lax how can I blame anybody else? I will see if I can be regular now. I have been trying to do what I can about the problem there. It will be good if I get regular reports from there. Do you think the movement will go on well? What does the fact that you didn’t get permission for even one assistant indicate? I had thought that it would be child’s play for Manilal to secure such permission. I am all right. We leave this place on June 1 and go to Bombay. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 19 June 1939 that Now that I write to you quite regularly, you can’t complain. What was all the fight there about? Who were the persons involved? I suppose you have written and given me this information. You would certainly get help from here if the [Indian] community there had strength of its own. My health is good. Ba’s indifferent. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 6 August 1939 that I have your long letter full of news. It will be of help to me. Here the work is going on at full speed. There has been some delay as your Prime Minister is away. I will keep you informed if there are any special developments. But what counts and will count is your strength. I had a cable from Nana saying that I did a good thing in advising postponement. I have not replied to the cable. Can’t the differences there be patched up? Who are the persons behind the threat of murder? How did the matter reach that stage? What makes you think it would be to your advantage if there was no Agent-General at all? It would be easy to withdraw him. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 21 August 1939 that Now you will have no occasion to complain about the absence of letters from me. But that will be because of the struggle. Remember that both of you have to sacrifice your all there. Once the struggle starts it won’t end soon. What will you do about the children? You must have thought about every contingency. If you cannot keep them there, then Sushila will perhaps have to keep out of the struggle and bring over the children here. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 6 October 1939 that I have Sushila’s letter. No matter what happens and how it happens, we must patiently and cheerfully bear it and do our duty. The letter for Medh is enclosed. Knowing that my Diwali greetings may not reach you with this, I intend to send a few words by cable. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 12 January 1940 that I got your letters. I do make every possible effort to write, but there is so much work every day that something is always left over. I have already written to you about your fighting there. I will write more when I get time. Medh’s1 letter is lying with me. I have nothing special to write. The final responsibility rests on you. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 12 January 1940 that I have your letters. Manilal’s reproach is justified. I knew about the struggle there. But I did what I could. From here I could not give you any other advice. What could Jawahar have done? I cannot put such a burden on him. I do not regret what I did or the advice I gave. Does not the final decision rest with you there? Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 2 January 1941 that I got your two quite lengthy letters together. It is of course commendable that you two are holding out by yourselves. He who is on the side of truth, though alone, is in company, and those who oppose truth, though millions in number, count for little. Tari is with me for the last three days. She is pretty ill. She will leave for Delhi on the 5th, the fourth day from now. She will go with Dr. Sushila, who is here. Most probably Tara’s friend will also go with her. Manudi is still here. Her daughter1 is a very active and playful child. With Sharda’s son and Nirmala’s daughter, thus there are three children. Ba is fairly well. She keeps on working. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 25 February 1941 that I got Sushila’s beautiful letter. The description of the tour was good. I hope the collection also was good. Here, at present, I am busy with the affairs of the struggle. By God’s grace, I keep good health. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 2 October 1941 that I am afraid you will not get the letter sent with Marybehn. It is with the censor. Perhaps you may get it belatedly. At present everything has become irregular. Things will be more irregular still. The surprising thing is that even this much order has been kept. Our little troubles don’t count at all when thousands are being massacred every day. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 14 October 1941 that Enclosed is a letter from Chimanlal. I have treated it as a pretext for writing this letter. You must have received my previous letter. I did not get Manilal’s letter after all. I have now given up hope of receiving it. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 28 February 1942 that I learnt only today that a cable was sent to you regarding Nanabhai. Kishorelalbhai has come here. Both have become a little thin. But otherwise both are sensible and have stood the loss well. The other members of the family also have behaved in a manner worthy of it. Vijayabehn has displayed great courage. She will come here. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 15 October 1945 that I had your letter. Somebody told me only yesterday that you could not get the tickets immediately. Arun is happy. He wears nothing but underwear and is always in high spirits. He studies a little and plays a lot. He does spin, of course. He does not show, at any rate, that he misses you. Valjibhai teaches him. Kanaiyo went with my permission. I was in a position to let him go. Pyarelal has come, but with high fever. The fever has not been diagnosed. Do not worry about me. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 30 May 1946 that I got the letters of both of you. I have written to Mathuradas. I am glad that Sita has passed. I understand what you say regarding Sorabjee. Between your experience and my inference, experience is always the better guide. you may, therefore, do what you have decided. You also say that it would be better if some Muslim gentlemen from South Africa could be included. But think over it for yourself. Your plan that all of you go away leaving Sita at Banaras is also good. I feel somewhat concerned at your departure being repeatedly delayed. But in this matter, too, you should do what you two desire. Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal and his wife on dated 10 January 1947 that I need not write at length as I am enclosing herewith my letter to Manilal. You have to prepare yourself for going. You are not to worry on my account. I will consider it a great achievement if I can do without having to get up at 3 o’clock. You should be perfectly calm till you reach South Africa. And now that Vasant1 had come over you don’t have to worry about Akola. It is certainly regrettable that Vasant and Kanti do not wear khadi but can we make all, or even a few, into replicas of ourselves? Besides, but for our capacity for self-deception the world would come to a standstill. We should therefore be more than satisfied if all live according to their own fancies but within certain limits. We should be satisfied if both of them preserve their health and participate in voluntary work as much as they can. Blessings

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