GANDHI IN ACTION network

the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338

E-mail- dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com;dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net

 

 

Ramprasad and Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

Ramprasad was a worker of Sevagram Ashram. He was paid by Mahatma Gandhi. He was intelligent and hard worker. Mahatma Gandhi knew him and his skill very well. Mahatma Gandhi sent him Kisan Ashram on the demand of Mirabehn. Mahatma Gandhi was always in touch of him. He wrote him many letters. In Letter he guided for development of Ashram and Community. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I think it will not be possible for me to accommodate Ramprasad. R. P. is an absolutely independent-minded person. Besides, I must have Sushila’s consent too. We should act under the assumption that it is her responsibility.” 1 “On the train I am only thinking of the Ashram. Stay on if you can bear the heat without discomfort. Be friendly with all and do whatever Ashram work you can do. Finish all the pending work. Write to me.” 2 “You have now an opportunity to set everything right. Use it. Take some work from Mohan Singh and Ramprasad if you can. See how he makes biscuits and bread with tomato juice in them.” 3 “I am making a desperate effort to send you someone either her Ramprasad or Munnalal. Do not be quite certain about me. I have expressed my wish. But ‘there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.’ Who knows but Him? Your love of animals, among them of the cow, is boundless. I agree mostly that there should be personal attention if we are to get the real response. I am here till 20th, then to Mahabaleshwar.” 4 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I was surprised as well as grieved to read your letter to Mamasaheb. I was even more surprised to read your letter to Pyarelalji. There is no mention in it of my suggestion. It could not be that you have not received it, because Chi. Chimanlal writes that you would not like to go to Mirabehn. How is that? It is work you like and the place is also cool. Can you get what you desire if you are not willing to go? All this wants thinking over. Please correct me if I am wrong.” 5 “Ramprasad is to be sent to Mirabehn. You already have work in hand. One person at a time should look after the kitchen by turns. Do not go on discussing things. The President after listening to everything should decide either through consensus or a majority vote or at his own discretion. Everything is imperfect as long as the arrangement does not function smoothly.” 6 “Let Mama also write. Please go to Mirabehn. All the information is given in the enclosed letter. Say to Mirabehn: “Give my wages to Bapu. He will pay me. I have come to assist you for two months.” You can easily do this. Write to me when you arrive there.” 7

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Ramprasad must have gone to Mirabehn. Someone must go there immediately. Her need is urgent.” 8 “I hope Ramprasad has arrived there or will be arriving soon. He is very intelligent. Do not detain him for more than two months. Give him as much rest as you can. If he needs more I will see to it. I have arrived here today. Can you read my Hindi? I am a guest of Premlilabehn and Shantikumar. I have with me Pyarelal, Sushila, Dinshaw and Pyarelal’s two assistants. Manu is ill, so I have Kanu. He will go to Rajkot for a few days.” 9 “I am returning it to you. Remind me about it when I return there. I cannot do anything by writing. You are weak, but if you have gained sufficient strength, write to Shri Ramprasad. See what reply he gives. Improve your health.” 10

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I am sorry you are or were ill again when you wrote. The weather here is superb. If Ramprasad can look after your work for some time I would like you to come here and be with me till the end of June. Do not worry about Ramprasad’s returning quickly. He can be easily spared till I return to Wardha. Indeed if the weather there agrees with him and he likes the work, he can stay even beyond June. He is a very capable man:. He has done hard work. But he had illness and has been pulled down. Teach him to take care of cattle if he will learn it. He is quite able to learn new things. The question is whether he is strong enough.” 11 “It will be very nice if your health remains good. Mirabehn has fallen ill. If you can look after the cattle and manage the other activities and if Mirabehn agrees to take rest, then send her here. There was a letter from Chi. Kanta. She did not look after her health and so she suffers. For a woman carrying a child it is doubly sinful to be careless about her health. Does she not know that there is neither virtue nor greatness in such carelessness but only foolishness? How can one make her understand this?” 12

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This is just to ask you not to worry about help. Bapa says he won’t find the man to suit you. Balvantsinha can come only after I reach Sevagram. Ramprasad won’t leave you till B. can join you.” 13 “I hope you are well. Do not move from there until I send Balvantsinha or someone else. It is all right even if you have to stay there for two months. It would be a different thing if you wished to do no more than what I had asked.” 14“Tell me if it is the same thing whether I put the address in English or Hindustani, that is, for receiving the post. I note that Ramprasad was to leave you on 11th. He must have gone.” 15

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The meaning of “It would be a different thing if you wished to do no more than what I had asked” is this: I had asked you to go there for two months. That was what I wanted. If you stick to that I cannot very well ask you to prolong the period, can I? Who will trust me if I go on increasing my demands in this manner? I, therefore, wrote to you that you must leave after the expiry of two months if you stick to my demand. Mirabehn on her own will not detain you, so the question won’t arise. Did I suggest to you that you yourself should draw her attention about the expenses there? If you want I will do that. Your decision about the child’s tumor is correct. Show him to a doctor in Bombay. Send me the report. Ultimately an operation is the only remedy. According to Kuhne it can be cured by water treatment. In the case of a child, maybe, he will get well without any treatment.” 16

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Ramprasad is not an Ashram inmate. He is a paid worker and runs a separate kitchen of his own. Even so, I am not reconciled to their gratification of physical desire. But having engaged him I am helpless. His case, like Niyamat’s, should not be cited as a precedent. Think calmly over all this and write to me. I understand about Hiramani.” 17  “I have not given thought to what you should do in my absence. You are not to come to Poona. I wish the child to get well. I understand about Pushpa.” 18  “Sushila must have arrived there. If Jajuji engages Ramprasad in place of Motilal Rathi and Ramprasad take up the work, I will welcome it. I do not understand Ramprasad asking for still higher pay, but if Jajuji decides to increase it I will not object. I myself will not be able to decide in the matter. If Ramprasad undertakes to look after the construction of the building, will the couple stay there or continue to stay in the Ashram? This also will have to be decided by you. I don’t need further particulars about the sum of Rs. 5,000 received through Rasiklal. Permit it to be used for the Harijan work planned by Bapa. I have an impression that he suggested its being used in Kathiawar. Now about Sharma. I have gone through the correspondence sent by you. Continue the correspondence and let me know the result. Chi. Kanaiyo has arrived. He broke his journey at Surat to see Sharda. He says that again she is having low temperature. I think I have answered all the Points.” 19

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I don’t understand why you feel hesitant about writing to me. But now I am about to come there. Speak to me then. I have suggested Jivanram as the boy’s name. Jivanram was a great scholar. At present I am reading his translation of Bhartriharishatakam. Meanwhile, Chi. Kanta asked a name for the child and this occurred to me. Moreover, he has just come out of the jaws of death. That is another reason for suggesting this name.” 20 “I have already written to Rameshwardas about the bicycle. I shall get the reply in a day or two. You did well in sending the newspaper cutting. Why is digging being done around where you are building the house? The Government’s method of digging for gravel on both sides while making roads is wrong. I have no doubt about it. In my travels in South Africa and England and other parts of Europe I have seen roads but no-where have I seen pits where rain water can collect and breed mosquitoes.” 21 “It was good you discharged your responsibility in regard to the buildings. But I am constantly approached for help in building houses. Why should you find a job tedious if you know it? I don’t want to assign the job to you if it hurts you. What other work would have you like to have? I see that both of you have a great responsibility in the case of Jivram. It is quite all right that you make him sit in cold water. Do you keep his feet out [of water]? Do you give him friction-bath? If you can do it the benefit may be miraculous. It is described in Kuhne’s book which we have there. It might perhaps be better to put a mud-pack on his head instead of applying a wet bandage. I shall reach Delhi on the 9th or earlier.” 22

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “You have to go and see Jehangirji Patel on the 3rd. I think you will benefit by going to him. At present he has called you only for an interview. I should like you to see him and have a frank talk with him and try to join him if you find the work good.” 23 “I have your letter giving me full and detailed information. I shall be able to reach there only after the 24th, when we shall have a long talk. I hope Kanta was able to manage during your absence. I expect you could observe things in Bombay too. Perfect you’re Urdu.” 24 “So far as I am aware you are a bankrupt concern if what Ramprasad has told me is true. And it is altogether wrong to get a good worker and to expect him to be a collector of funds. I should like to talk to Balasahib about this. I take it that Bapa also is in this concern. Ramprasad tells me that your Association is under debt. He cannot be of any use in wiping it off. He can be of inestimable use so far as management of the Association is concerned and that too among the Adivasis. All other difficulties that he has mentioned can be easily waived. He has said so to me but I know that he must not be used for collecting funds. And please know that neither you nor members of your Association are in any way obliged to entertain Ramprasad’s services.” 25 “I shall be very glad if Jivram gets well. I understand how the expenditure on food is met at Pilani. The information is given clearly.” 26

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I had a talk with Ghanshyamdas. He can accommodate both of you at Pilani, not at any other place. The administration at Nasik is in the hands of Gopalrao with whom he would not interfere. Does a voluntary worker go about choosing places? He should render service as and where he has an opportunity. But Ramprasad wants to have a choice. It was the same in the Ashram too. Under the circumstances I became helpless. Ramprasad is efficient. He should find his own way. I am not so rich a man as to produce as much money as I want. Why, I even have to think of my own expenses. It is as it should be and I get as much as I need. I have no preferences. I insist on cleanliness which I must ensure myself. The burden of children is bound to be with parents. This is the limit to which I can go. May you all be happy and live in peace? The sooner you can leave the Ashram the higher you will rise.” 27

 

References:

 

  1. LETTER TO CHIMANLAL N. SHAH, On or before March 30, 1945
  2.   LETTER TO RAMPRASAD, March 31, 1945
  3. LETTER TO MUNNALAL G. SHAH, March 31, 1945
  4. LETTER TO MIRABEHN, April 7, 1945
  5. LETTER TO RAMPRASAD, April 12, 1945
  6.   LETTER TO MUNNALAL G. SHAH, April 17, 1945
  7. LETTER TO RAMPRASAD, April 17, 1945
  8.   LETTER TO CHIMANLAL N. SHAH, April 21, 1945
  9.   LETTER TO MIRABEHN, April 21, 1945
  10. LETTER TO CHIMANLAL N. SHAH, April 25, 1945
  11.    LETTER TO MIRABEHN, May 7, 1945
  12. LETTER TO RAMPRASAD, May 7, 1945
  13. LETTER TO MIRABEHN, May 30, 1945
  14.   LETTER TO RAMPRASAD VYAS, May 30, 1945
  15.   LETTER TO MIRABEHN, June 12, 1945
  16.   LETTER TO RAMPRASAD B. VYAS, June 14, 1945
  17.    LETTER TO MUNNALAL G. SHAH, August 11, 1945
  18. LETTER TO RAMPRASAD, August 13, 1945
  19.   LETTER TO CHIMANLAL N. SHAH, September 11, 1945
  20.   LETTERS TO RAMPRASAD, October 11, 1945
  21.   LETTER TO RAMPRASAD, November 8, 1945
  22.   LETTER TO RAMPRASAD VYAS, June 4, 1946
  23. LETTER TO RAMPRASAD VYAS, August 30, 1946
  24. LETTER TO RAMPRASAD VYAS, September 9, 1946
  25.   LETTER TO JEHANGIR PATEL, September 13, 1946
  26. LETTER TORAMPRASAD VYAS, August 29, 1947
  27. LETTER TO KANTA R. VYAS, September 29, 1947

 

 

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