the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action
Manilal Gandhi was second son of Mahatma Gandhi. He was born on 28 October 1892 in Rajkot. He went to South Africa in 1897 with his parents. He worked in Phoenix Ashram with his father and his others friends. He assists in publication of Indian Opinion. He remained editor until his death. He died in aged 63 on 4 April 1956 in Durban, South Africa. He was married in 1927 with Sushila Mashruwala. He had two daughters, Sita, Ela and one son Arun.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 15 July 1915 that I have your letter. I won’t let you be thrown on the streets; do not lose heart. I don’t like that you should feel helpless, even when dealing with me. You had better put up with your present difficulties. There are mosquitoes everywhere in Madras. You should sleep covered with a thin sheet. If you rub some kerosene on the face, mosquitoes will keep away. I hope you sleep in the open. If not, do so. Take a room in the neighborhood, provided it is airy like a maidan.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated Before 7 March 1917 that It was more painful for me to let you go than it was, perhaps, for you to go. But I have often to make my heart harder than steel, for I 1 Report on indentured labour in Fiji; think that to be in your interest. It will be all to the good if you should get into proper shape there. I want you to learn to think for yourself and, when you find it necessary to resist me, to do so with courage. Make yourself altogether a labourer. That is, I believe, the way to our welfare.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 7 March 1917 that you must have by now grown an old hand there. Medh2 and Pragji will be with you in a few days so that you will feel the atmosphere of India for some time longer yet. Do not worry yourself but at the same time take proper treatment for your cough. By way of treatment, deep breathing and a teaspoonful of olive oil will suffice. You will be able to increase the quantity by and by. It can be taken as it is, mixed with a tomato. If you can give up tea, coffee and cocoa, that will help all the more in getting rid of the cough completely. Think carefully about these
things and carry them out. Do not neglect deep breathing for any reason. Keep up your studies in the way 1 have shown you. Do not give up doing sums on any account. A few must be done every day. I would advise you not to pass over any, believing that you know the method. As you do more and more sums, both of the simple and the difficult kind, you will grow more proficient. Do not be slack about them. The same about Sanskrit, and finally, English. In regard to this last, for the present ponder over what I have taught you from Ruskin.
Go on reading Lycidas and write to me about anything in it which you may not understand. If you make it a practice to write to Miss Schlesin in English, she will reply to you in English and will also correct your English and return to you the letter with the corrections. It will be hard indeed if you cannot find at least two hours every day for study. It is also
necessary to form the habit of reading Gujarati books and reflecting over them. All this will be easy if you become regular and get over the habit of day-dreaming.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 31 January 1918 that I hear from Devibehn that you showed yourself unhappy before Sam at being unmarried. Please do not allow anything to stand in the way of your telling me what you think. You are not my prisoner, but my friend. I shall give you my advice honestly; you may think over what I say and then act as it seems best to you. I should not like you to do anything sinful out of fear of me. I want you not to stand in awe of me or anyone else.
In my view, you certainly ought not to marry. Your welfare lies in not marrying. If you find it impossible to continue in your present state, you may come away to India when you are free to leave and think what you should do. Evidently, nothing can be done while you are there. If you have decided that you should marry, I believe you will get a suitable match. I take it that you will not give up your work just in order to get married. You may consider marriage only when you can leave Indian Opinion in good order. See that you don’t lose your cheerfulness; and don’t indulge in day dreams. We have a thousand desires; all of them cannot be satisfied. Remember this and be serene. Be clear in your mind that whatever you do will be above board and done openly. Everything then will be for the best.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 3 March 1918 that It bores me to see people blindly worshipping me. If they know me as I am and even then honour me, I can turn their honour to account in public work. I desire no honour if I have to conceal my religious beliefs in order to have it. I would even welcome being utterly despised for following the right path. There are a thousand things we desire. Knowing that one cannot have them all, one must be at peace.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 31 July 1918 that I have had no letter from you recently. Herewith a letter from Sam for you to read and ponder over. Whatever their fault, I am afraid you have been guilty of far too much anger and shown extreme malice. You were free to stand on your rights but should not have forgotten your manners. While insisting on order, you could have spared yourself the anger. None of them has put by any great sum of money, or appropriated any. What is Devibehn’s fault? It is too much that Mr. West and Mr. Sam have had to sacrifice their children’s education. It seems to me that you have vented on them your anger with me. You do not even visit them. Surely, you should not behave thus. I think you should apologize to them. Do this, however, only if you think that that is the right course, and not because it will please me. Anything you do without giving up your freedom will seem best to me.
I think I have given you many reasons to be angry with me. Please forgive me for this. I have pushed you about a good deal and that has interrupted your regular education. You can, however, forgive me only if you realize that this was inevitable. I have passed my whole life in pursuit of self-knowledge, in discovering where my duty lay. My work has been appreciated because I have acted as I believe. This has saved me from many a pitfall. But, looking at the matter superficially, your interests have suffered from a worldly point of view. Just as I have had to pay for my experiments, so have you and Ba. Ba has understood this and has therefore gained what no other woman has done. You have not understood this fully yet and therefore, harbour anger. I would still say that the service I have rendered to you brothers, no other man in my place would have done.
I got you to share in my experiences on the path of dharma. What more can anyone do? Like other parents, I could have allowed you to go the way of the world and shaped my life in my own way. If I had done so, there would have been no bond left between you and me by now and we would have been to each other what Gokibehn is to me, a sister only in name. I could not have acted otherwise than I have because, in my pursuit of truth, I would have been where I am and you would have wandered off the path. This would not have been for your good. If you think over this patiently, you will be able to get over your anger with me. Consider, there has been a rift between Harilal and me. His life follows a course all its own. A father and son are truly so when both follow a common mode of life, each supporting the other. I can take no interest in Harilal’s life and he in mine. The fault is not his. The way he thinks is governed by his past actions. I am not angry with Harilal. But the chain which bound him and me together is broken and the sweetness which should inform the relations of father and son is no more. Such things happen often enough in the world. What is uncommon about me is that I could not draw Harilal after me in my search for dharma and so he kept away.
He has, in sheer folly, lost his employer Rs. 30,000, has passed a disgraceful letter to him and is now without employment. As they know that he is my son he is not in jail. You have stayed on in my life, but are discontented. You can’t bring yourself to go out of it, and yet do not altogether like being in it. This is why you are not at peace with yourself. If you can somehow manage to be contented, you will also have peace. I have not harmed you intentionally. All I have done I did in the belief that it was for your good. Is not this enough to bring down your anger against me? What I have said will surely not make you angrier. I was only too happy that you told me what you think. All the management must be in your hands now.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 17 March 1922 that tomorrow I shall be sentenced. I shall hardly wish to write letters thereafter. I shall be content if you take care of your health, and occupy yourself in some good work anywhere. While I am in jail, it is not necessary that you must come here. Now that you have made I.O.5 your own, I think you can come here only after you have placed it on a sound footing. I see no one whom I can send to you from here. Every good worker is needed here. It seems you have not yet sent the account from there. If you have not, please do so.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 3 April 1926 that I read your letter to Ramdas; also Fatima’s. And of course I had anticipated this; Jalbhai did give a hint. You are a free man; so I cannot force you to do anything. But I write to you as a friend. What you desire is contrary to dharma. If you stick to Hinduism and Fatima follows Islam it will be like putting two swords in one sheath; or you both may lose your faith. And then what should be your children’s faith? Whose influence are they to grow under? It is not dharma, but, only adharma if Fatima agrees to conversion just for marrying you. Faith is not a thing like a garment which can be changed to suit our convenience. For the sake of dharma a person shall forgo matrimony, forsake his home, why, even lay down his life; but for nothing may faith be given up. May not
Fatima has meat at her father’s? If she does not, she has as good as
changed her religion.
Nor is it in the interests of our society to form this relationship. Your marriage will have a powerful impact on the Hindu-Muslim question. Inter communal marriages are no solution to this problem. You cannot forget nor will society forget that you are my son. If you enter into this relationship, you may not be able to render any service. I fear you may know more be the right person to run Indian Opinion.
It will be impossible for you, I think, after this to come and settle in India. I cannot ask for Ba’s permission. She will not give it. Her life will be embittered forever. In proposing this marriage you have thought only of momentary pleasure. You have not at all considered your ultimate happiness. Pure love is as between brother and sister. Whereas here the main urge is carnal pleasure. I want you to get out of your infatuation. As far as I understand, Ramdas and Devdas also have arrived independently at the same conclusion, as mine. I could not embolden myself to discuss this with Ba. May God show you the right path?
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 7 April 1926 that I got the two letters sent direct by you. I got your contribution towards the Deshbandhu Memorial after I had written to you. I am surprised that you did not get a receipt. I hope to collect the receipt and post it along with this. I would then know the amount received. Mr. Andrews should have come here by now. However, I have no telegram about his departure. There is no limit to the strain he is putting himself to. I have sent you another letter through Ramdas also. I expect a reply to it. Send a telegram if possible. Ask Shanti to write to me. I have written him a letter to which he has not replied. Is there no means of curing his asthma? What happened to the employees’ demand for higher pay? Ramdas went recently to Amreli after a few days’ stay here. Devdas is at Deolali looking after Mathuradas. But he is himself not quite well. There is no cause for anxiety.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 5 July 1926 that your letters to hand. I expect there would be no hitch in arranging your marriage when you come here. Certainly nothing can be finalized before your arrival. If you must marry, you must restrain your extravagance. Everyone coming from there complains of this. I find your explanation inadequate. But you will always be what you are. I do not want to control you.
The books you ordered have been dispatched. Please remit their cost immediately. The Ashram can grant no credit, because it has no private sources of income. I hope this is quite clear. I learn now for the first time that Shanti does not satisfy you. I am glad however to learn that Dayhop does. Please send me the old book of newspaper cuttings maintained by me. There are also a number of books which are of no use there; you had better send them here or bring them with you. Devdas is quite well. He is enjoying the climate of Mussoorie. Ramdas is in Amreli. What is one to write about Harilal? Rami is in the Ashram. You do not seem to have made use of the many articles which Mahadevbhai sent you. Of course, that does not matter. An editor ought to have the right to decide what he will accept and what he will not. But should he not write even a letter of thanks or an acknowledgment? When you come, be armed with a notice to me: ‘Marry me off in fifteen days’ time; I must take the next steamer.’
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 10 January 1927 that I have your letter. There is no harm if Ba reads it. I have not given it to her so far, but I intend to. You would have done a good turn to Harilal if you had not given him even the ten rupees which you gave. But don’t mind, since you have given it. I don’t think you have made any big mistake. Often strictness results in real kindness and kindness turns out to be cruelty. If all people become strict with Harilal with a loving heart, his eyes would soon open. But all of us are full of weaknesses and, therefore, cannot cultivate such loving strictness. Being ourselves in need of false kindness, we show such kindness to others. I am not reproaching you for giving him ten rupees but am only trying to teach you wisdom. You will still have many ordeals to pass through. I have been trying to do something for you. Have no worry on that account. But make yourself worthy. Do not waste a single moment. If you have time, write an article about E. A. either for Young India or Navajivan and send it to me immediately.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 8 February 1927 that Now I can let you have the news. I have almost settled the betrothal. But although you have given me the authority to finalize the matter I do not propose to exercise it. Herewith a letter from Sushila; she is Tarabehn’s elder sister. At 19 she is in good health though slightly hard of hearing. She knows Gujarati and Marathi. She also understands Hindi and a little English. She had her schooling up to the fourth form. I send with this Sushila’s photograph. She is Kishorelalbhai’s niece. Her parents are alive. Sushila is good at painting and also tries a little music. She plays on the harmonium. She is good at house work. She has herself written the letter without any help. She has also been told that you were almost engaged in South Africa. I would not have been able to find out a better match. Initially the suggestion came from Jamnalalji.
Sushila’s brother is to be operated upon. The marriage can be fixed for the 11th of March if he recovers [by then], and you can set sail immediately. If the operation is not successful marriage would be postponed on account of the mourning.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 14 February 1927 that I have your letter. The marriage will be at Akola. The day has been fixed for Sunday, 6th March. I have to go to Akola direct from Bombay. I am likely to reach Bombay not earlier than the 4th. Being a Monday, the 7th will be spent in Akola. We can leave on the 7th evening and reach the Ashram on the 8th evening or the 9th morning. I have written to Nanabhai asking him not to put up any show. He should give the bride not even the most insignificant jewels. I am giving her nothing. In South Africa, you use foreign dress with my permission but Sushila need do nothing of the sort; in her khaddar sari she will look as resplendent as Sita. Let me know if you want any change in these arrangements. After you are married you are both free to live as you like. But I certainly wish that you should give no jewels to Sushila and that there too she should wear no cloth other than khadi.
The more I think the more I feel that you are going to have a jewel. My only fear is whether you would be able to take care of her. Please keep your passion under control; let her study. The girl would be helpful in many of your activities. She can even learn composing. If she tries she can improve her Gujarati but it all depends upon you whether you would make a doll or a companion out of her. After all, she is just a child. She does not know the ways of the world. If, henceforth, you will observe more restraint than hitherto I see a blissful future for both of you. May God grant strength and wisdom to both of you? Now you can easily go to South Africa in March. You can make the necessary preparations.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 21 February 1927 that I have your letter. I do not want Sushila to make a resolve; I do not know her that well. But you should acquaint yourself with her people. They are a cultured family. All of them wear khadi. I agree it is difficult for you to wear khadi. It will not be difficult for Sushila as long as she keeps up her Indian style with sari and other things. A presentable khaddar dress can be had at a reasonable price. People dressed in khadi are to be found now even in distant Edinburgh. From the reference to Manilal’s wedding and the message to Panditji in this and the succeeding two letters, it appears that all the three were written on the same date.
It is not my attempt to make recluses of you or Sushila, but I certainly intend to make you disciplined householders. If I wanted to make you monks I would not have bothered about getting you married. I would not disapprove if you sought your pleasure within limits. In spite of all this you are free and should act as you please; I do not want to exercise the least pressure. Jamnalalji has not turned a recluse, only he has given up a number of pleasures. You are quite grown-up and I do not look upon you as a child.
I have been taking steps after consulting you about everything. Do let me know if you wish for any change in the marriage ceremony or for some merriment. I have suggested and acted as I thought fit but I want to be as agreeable to you as I can while following my own code of conduct1. I know marriage is a turning point in the life of a young man and woman. I am also aware that parents should not interfere in it. Do not think yourself to be under any kind of pressure. Do I need to be more frank? Do I have to give any more reassurance? Nanabhai has invited Panditji, so he should come with you. Both of you can meet me by taking the Tapti Valley route; thereby you can also save some time. But do what both of you find convenient.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 28 February 1927 that this should reach you on Wednesday. Maganlal writes to me that you would board the train in Bombay. You have to leave there on Friday. On Saturday morning I shall be in Poona. Leaving there at 10, I shall join you at Kalyan. I have a meeting at Poona in the morning. Herewith letters from Nanabhai and Sushila, for your information. I think you should honour their wish to have you at Akola for some days. Vijayalakshmi would naturally want to know you; she is your mother-in-law. You should not be angry nor should you worry over what Sushila writes about jewels and dresses; I have tried to encourage all the good traits she has cultivated. But I have not bound her to anything. You will influence her the way you would like to, and take such liberties as you please with her consent.
The vow to be taken at the time of the marriage ceremony is available with Panditji. I wish you would get it in advance, think over it and understand it. May you be always ready to observe the vow and from the reference to Panditji; vide the preceding letter? May God grant you the strength for it? I know marriage begins a new life. Therefore though I do not get the time to write to you more often or at greater length, I am always thinking about you. Even if you stay over at Akola I must leave on Monday. I have plenty of work waiting for me at Ashram.
Make a note of whatever you want to ask me or tell me, because after this meeting we may perhaps not meet again, may be never in our lives. In the month of March, when you will proceed to South Africa, I do not know where I may be wandering. I see therefore that whatever you have to ask should be done mainly on the train. On Sunday we shall be busy with the wedding ceremony. Of course there may not be much fuss. There would be a solemn atmosphere on the day and also peace all round. But I am a busy man and it is quite likely that we shall get little time to ourselves.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a note to Manilal Gandhi on dated 7 March 1927 that Now that I have got you married and introduced you to your wife it is for you to take the initiative and run your own house. Go and sit near Sushila. See what clothes she has got, find out her wishes and then make a note of what she needs. This will break the ice and things will get moving. Or you may try some other approach. Or shall I ask her to come near you and . . .2 tell the others to move away?
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 18 June 1932 that I got your letter sent with Medh1. I don’t think I shall be able to see him. In the first place, as Mirabehn is not permitted to see me I have stopped seeing any visitors. And, secondly, the name of every intending visitor has to be sent to the Government and Medh’s name is not likely to be approved. Even if he is permitted to see me, I don’t think we would be allowed to discuss the affairs of South Africa. In the letter asking for the permission, he should state as the reason his intention to discuss them. If I see him then, there would be no need to send a cable to you. But I did not have even a letter from Medh. He can at any rate write to me.
So you were all attacked by the virulent fever. In the absence of any news by cable, I assume that all of you are well. I approved of Sushila’s and Sita’s staying on there because I thought they were certain to keep better health there. And so it seems God sent me this message through your illness: ‘You are a fool. Who are you to think who would keep better health where? I keep people healthy or make them ill as I choose. Why don’t you understand this simple thing?’ Though I have now learnt this wisdom, I still think that it might be better for them to remain in South Africa. But now it seems that you, too, will have to remain there. I also think that, if Pragji is not ready to shoulder the responsibility or if the responsibility is beyond his capacity and if you cannot make any other arrangement, you cannot come. It would not be proper to close the paper at this time. The problems here will take care of themselves. Stay there without worrying about things here, and don’t feel unhappy that you cannot come. After all, you live there for public service and not for your own happiness. Write to me regularly.
All three of us are very well. We do plenty of spinning, of course. I now rotate the wheel with my foot and draw the thread with the right hand. Even otherwise, I wished to experiment on this spinning-wheel for the sake of Prabhudas. But now I have an additional reason for spinning on it, namely, that my left elbow needs rest. Mahadev spins yarn of 40 counts. Sardar makes envelopes from useless paper. It is in one such envelope that I intend to seal this letter. Ramdas is in this jail. He sees me sometimes. His health is all right. He is reading and studying at present. Nimu and the children are in the Ashram.
Devdas is far away in Gorakhpur. He has been having fever for some days. But there is no cause for anxiety. The fever is now receding. Ba is in Sabarmati jail and Kanti in Visapur jail. There are many others, too, in jail, but I need not mention them here. Did I tell you that Devdas is engaged to Rajaji’s daughter? The engagement was the result of the strong desire of them both. Because of the struggle, they have put off the marriage. A good many reforms are being introduced in the Ashram. By
reforms I mean further measures of self-control. Personally, I never think as to when the struggle would end. Let it end when it will. For him who fights for Truth and with truthful means, victory and defeat are the same. That is, he always wins, though the victory may come now or in future. Sardar and Mahadev send their blessings.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 3 August 1932 that I got your letter. You have asked for a reply by cable but a prisoner cannot easily send cables like that. The authorities may perhaps forward it, but I must observe proper limit. Moreover nearly a month has passed since you wrote your letter and there would be no harm if another month passes. I, therefore, did not ask for permission to send a cable. It was not quite proper that a promise to hand over the lease was made directly, but now that it is made I have written to Kallenbach to endorse it if possible. The letter is enclosed. I hope that you yourself will have been able to persuade him before you get this letter and it will not be necessary for you to use my letter.
Please send me a copy in the Phoenix Trust-deed. It is possible that there is a copy in the Ashram. But in case we do not find it there, I should have a copy to consult it if necessary. I think you will now stay there. It will not be wrong at all if you have decided to do that. There, too, you will be doing service. But do not be lazy in writing to me. Devdas had a good spell of illness in jail. So he has been released one month before the expiry of his term. Mirabehn also was very ill. Dr. Mehta is seriously ill. All three of us are well.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 22 August 1932 that I have your letter. I am more than happy that both of you are free from fever. I hope that you have fully regained your normal health. I was pained to read what you say about Pragji. I had a letter from Mr. Ritch, in which he expresses his view that Phoenix ought not to be disbanded. He writes nothing about Pragji, but he has some complaint against you, He says that you have got involved with Sorabji and have lost some money. I hope that this is not true. What you have belongs to the Trust. Surely you know that you cannot take anything from it except what you need to meet your normal expenses.
You can neither advance a loan or make a gift from it, nor can borrow money against it. I think that the plot of twenty-five bighas also was leased out to meet the needs of Indian Opinion. Even that was a mistake, however. Since you yourself realized it, I need not say anything about it.
If you are sure that Pragji has been concerned only with his own interest, then I think that you ought not to use his services for Indian Opinion. I will write to him if you wish that I should do so. All three of us are well. Devdas has recovered. He will take rest for some time. Pyarelal has been released. Manibehn is again in jail for one year and three months. Ramdas is all right. Ba is about to be released. She has lost some weight.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 18 October 1932 that I got your letter. You may come whenever you wish. It would be good if Sushila can accompany you, but she need not come if she is
weak. Bring Sita if she comes. You should take care and see that your bowels move regularly. Take only light food. It will help you if you can take more milk. Take care and safeguard your health. Tell Ba that I have asked for a prescription from Major Advani. She should consult a doctor there too. I hope that Pyarelal has received my letter. Convey my blessings to Manibhai1 and Gulab. I had expected Deva today.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 21 October 1932 that I got your letter. Any of you brothers who wishes to come may
do so now. I hope Devdas is now completely all right. Ask him and Pyarelal to write to me. You are acting wisely in not being in a hurry to bring away Sushila from the hospital. You should let her recover completely before doing so. Since I am writing to you, I am not 1 The addressee, not identified in the source, had said that her husband had been unhappy at the fast but that she had been confident that the result was bound to be good.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 25 October 1932 that I have your letter. When you come, come at twelve. Sushila and Tara can also come. Surendra too. Has he not lived in the Ashram?
Moreover, being related to your father-in-law, he is a relation of ours as well. There should not be more than five at a time. Your tour of Madras, etc., should start soon. The account of the interview with you which has appeared in newspapers does not seem to be correct. If you have not seen it, do so. It has appeared in The Hindu. I hope you have fully recovered now. Write to me regularly.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 10 November 1932 that you returned from Madras very soon. It was very good that you stayed with Sir Kurma. Sastri is a man of few words. Don’t believe what people may say against him.
You will find with this a letter from Pragji. Read it and think over it. Do not get angry with him. Try to understand his point of view and then write to me. I will write to him only after I hear from you. You may observe that what he writes is quite the opposite of what you complain.
If you have promised to return there in December, you must start making preparations. Reply to me by return of post.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 21 November 1932 that I got the postcard which you wrote on the train. I had also got your letter about Pragji. You have not mentioned that Pragji had kept £ 450 for himself from the money which he himself had collected. Read his letter again. In another letter to me he says that you must return to Phoenix by the end of December. Whatever may happen to me on 2nd January, you ought to keep your promise. You should not
break your promise on my account. It should not be a matter of sorrow if my body perishes in the cause of dharma. And you cannot delay my death even by a minute by remaining here. Your remaining may make both you and me personally happy, but don’t we have often to forgo such happiness? My blessings to all there.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 4 December 1932 that you will find with this a letter from Pragji. I hope you were not upset by my short fast. A fast by me has become a common occurrence and so nobody should get upset by it. I hope you have adhered to your decision to leave.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 15 April 1933 that I have to answer two letters of yours. I had intended to reply to your previous letter, but somehow failed to do so. I have heard that Pragji has landed in Bombay. But there is no news from him yet.
You have written to Narandas asking him to pay the bills for the press equipment, but how can it be done? It is altogether improper to use Trust funds in such a manner. It would be another thing if Narandas could make some private arrangement. You should have such dealings with the traders directly, or order the goods through traders there or remit the money in advance. I understand your difficulty, but you ought not to adopt an improper course to solve it. Otherwise you will come to grief someday. One should stretch one’s legs according to the covering. It is better to draw in our knees, rather than borrow a covering from somebody else. I hope all of you have emerged safe from the epidemic of fever there.
Do Pathar and others who come there for change of air meet their own expenses or does the burden fall on you? If it falls on you and if you can shoulder it, of course nothing likes it. But if you cannot shoulder it, you should humbly tell them that everybody will have to meet his own expenses. Please know that it is against dharma to do anything beyond one’s means out of a false sense of prestige. We should let ourselves be seen as we are. I don’t like at all your request to be allowed to shift the press to a city. That will mean that all my ideals are wrong, or that you
do not believe in them or cannot live up to them. If any of these alternatives is correct, you should not remain a trustee and should leave Phoenix. You seem even to have forgotten how quickly and with what difficulties I turned my back on city life and established Phoenix. You grew up in Phoenix. It was there you atoned for your errors, lived an independent life. Sita was born there too. That you should forget all this in a moment and think of leaving Phoenix for ever imagine the weakness and the pitiable condition of mind it reveals.
I supported you in one wrong step that you took and invited West’s criticism. That criticism was deserved to some extent. This error was about the insertion of advertisements. I did not like your action, but I did not have the courage to tell you that you could close down Indian Opinion if you wished. I don’t want you to fall further and drag me down with you. I will not let myself be dragged down. If you cannot settle in Phoenix with single-minded devotion and cannot live up to its ideals you should wind up the work. Or you and Sushila should dedicate yourselves exclusively to Phoenix. Instead of being forced to close down the settlement, I should like you to give your resignation to the Trustees and hand over the place to them and then do what you like. I will welcome your leaving Phoenix with your reputation unsullied. I shall not be pained if you do so. But I shall feel deeply pained if you are forced to leave the place in disgrace. Please remember that only recently you borrowed Rs. 10,000 from a public body here and took the money with you. Forget the past completely.
Wake up from your slumber. Don’t think that I say all this merely in reply to one suggestion by you and feel hurt. That suggestion reveals your attitude of mind. It is a dangerous one and that is why I caution you against it. There is Miss Schlesin entertaining beautiful dreams about you, and you are thinking of filthy Durban. You must have sufficient pride in you to be determined that, if you cannot bring glory to your father’s legacy, you will at any rate not disgrace it. Do you know the objects of Phoenix, or have you forgotten them as well? Read them again. Miss Schlesin’s suggestion is certainly admirable. But I don’t think you will be able to act upon it. Kallenbach will not agree to meet
the expenses of a visit to America, and you will not be able to get the money from any other source. And I also think it difficult, if not impossible, that I. O. can be kept up meanwhile. Even if you go to America and return after getting trained, I don’t think patients from all communities will come to Phoenix for nature-cure treatment. All the same, if you have self-confidence and if everything can be arranged, I would certainly like you to act upon the suggestion, for the aim behind it is noble. I hope Sita has completely recovered now. Take the utmost care of your health.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 27 April 1932 that Read the accompanying letter from Miss Schlesin. I have replied to her that I could not guide you from here, and that she and Kallenbach should do that. I do hold that, if you have been making racial attacks, you should desist. But I don’t feel inclined to criticize you from this distance. Two letters from Ba are enclosed.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 28 February 1935 that I have received your letter. There is a verse1 in Sanskrit. It means: “Speak the truth, speak the pleasant and do not speak unpleasant truth.” It means that the truth should always be nonviolent. One should learn non-violent language for criticism. You or anyone else writing it could have expressed the same thing in a sweet language. One cannot acquire sweet language without getting rid of anger. In your article and letter I see marks of anger. I write this not as a reproach but only to caution you. Otherwise there is no point in criticizing you from this distance. I feel, however, that it is proper to tell you what impression your language creates.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 14 March 1936 that after I had written the letters today, I remembered your inquiry regarding the diet for diabetes. There should be no starch and no
sugar in the diet; so one ought not to take bananas, potatoes, rice, wheat, jiggery, sugar, etc. One may take a little of porridge made of broken wheat—such as remains after the flour is sifted out. Salt may be added to the porridge. Or, one may grind the sifted wheat pieces into flour and make chapattis out of it. One may take milk, curds, leafy vegetables, green peas, gourd, and sour fruits but no sweet fruits. The main food should be milk and vegetables, and this should restore one’s health fully.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote a letter to Manilal Gandhi on dated 5 June 1938 that you will be leaving on Wednesday. You came but I feel as if you had not come at all. We had long enough conversations but I can’t say that we talked at leisure. But, then where do I have such a thing as leisure? Whatever decision you take, do it calmly. If you can keep [Indian] Opinion going, do so. But remember the meaning of keeping it going, which I explained to you. I would not consider it being kept going if it is done through advertisements. This does not mean that you should now stop accepting advertisements. But it would be pitiable for the journal to be kept going on advertisements. Advertisements should be used for increasing the profits or for reducing the subscription rate. In the case of pie newspapers a pie would not help to meet even the cost of the newsprint. But because they get advertisements they are able to reach lakhs of readers by charging a nominal price. If we accept the policy of taking in advertisements we can justify it only in this way. The royal road for you, therefore, is that you should divide the total expenditure by the number of prospective subscribers and fix that figure as the subscription rate from the very beginning. If you don’t get subscribers at that rate, then you should conclude that I. O. should be
closed down. The rest you know. If you want to earn, settle down there. I won’t consider that objectionable. If you wish to return to India, you should be content with whatever you get and decide to devote yourself to public service. Please treat all this as no more than my advice and do what you yourself wish. Have an amicable talk with Kallenbach.
Don’t carry with you any worries about Sushila and the children. Vijayalakshmi and Nanabhai are there to look after them. They will stay in Akola as long as they wish and then come here. You should also know that what the children will acquire in India in the ordinary course from the surrounding atmosphere they cannot acquire in a foreign country, despite all our efforts. You need not, therefore, worry about the children’s education either. Sushila should come to Segaon early, because most probably I shall be in the Frontier Province in October. And I can’t say how long I shall be there. My health is all right. Pyarelal and Sushila are still in Delhi. Maybe they will come after a few days. Don’t be lazy in writing letters.