GANDHI IN ACTION network

the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09415777229, 094055338

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

Mail Address-   C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur-208020, U.P.

 

 

U. Gopala Menon and Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

U. Gopala Menon was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He was freedom fighter. He fought this movement in guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi wrote many letters for guiding to him. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I know all about the case of M. P. Narayana Menon. I had a letter addressed to Lord Irwin by some missionary friend given to me to be delivered to Lord Irwin which I gladly did and asked him to endeavour to secure Narayana Menon’s release. I have no doubt about the justice of the case. Unfortunately the talk with Lord Irwin took place only two days before he left Delhi. It is highly likely therefore that he was able to do nothing. Now as you say Sir. C. P. Ramaswami Iyer knows the case well you have to knock at his door continually. I cannot give you any definite opinion upon the proposed Temple Entry Satyagraha unless I know what the other side has to say. The objection you have raised is certainly worthy of consideration. Beyond this I do not feel able to go.” 1

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I was not able before now to acknowledge your letter. As soon as I was in a position, the first thing I did was to send you a telegram which I hope you received in due time. I am glad you have written at length. It has enabled me to get an idea of the difficulties that face us. But this movement is taken up in God’s name. He is our guide and I am positive that if we do not lose faith in Him, He will remove all difficulties in our path and if we would conduct ourselves in the spirit of service we would not be uncharitable towards those who may oppose the reforms nor should we be uncharitable to the Zamorin. After all we do not know his difficulties. We must therefore step into his shoes and look at the position even from his point of view. I have. Always found that this is the quickest method of reaching a goal. We may not take our gaze off the goal for one single minute but in pursuing it we may not judge those who do not see eye to eye with us. After all, as you very properly say, we have but ourselves to die in the attempt to deliver our suppressed brethren from the yoke. Whatever happens, therefore, the people who are for the reform must remain strictly non-violent in every sense of the term. You are anxious to have Pandit Malaviyaji in your midst. Of course he would be a tower of strength if he could come, but his life has been a life of dedication. There are therefore many calls on him. He has aged; he is weak in body though his mind is as vigorous as ever. I know that he will come if he can at all spare himself. But it will be the glory of the workers of Kerala if he can be saved the long journey to the South. However, if you think that his presence is indispensable you will press your suit and I will certainly write to him. I like your idea of a sister being sent from the North to work there during these precious few weeks that are available to us before the fateful 2nd of January. I have already moved in the matter and hope to let you know whether it is possible for anyone to come. Do please tell me how Kelappan is doing. Why have I not heard from him?” 2

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I do not want you to be writing to me when you are so fagged out that you want immediately to go off to sleep. Your sleep is more precious in these days of strain and stress than mere writing to me. When writing is an absolute necessity of course you have to sacrifice sleep, but in that case you must use your words like a miser, and if you can manage with one sentence, do not give me two, and send only a postcard, and in emergent cases you may also use the wire. In other words, please conserve your energy for the work before you. One person alone giving me the necessary report of work from day to day will be quite satisfactory.” 3 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I think that you are keeping the opinion of a varnas also. I quite recognize that the opinion based upon knowledge of the local situation should prevail. I am glad that things are shaping themselves quite well there.” 4

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Shree K. Ramunni Menon has forwarded the enclosed document to me. He tells me that the original is in his possession which can be produced whenever required. You will please tell me all about it. The covering letter also I am enclosing herewith together with copy of my reply.” 5 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I did not understand what you said about the conditions as to cleanliness. I had noticed it in the forms that were sent to me, but I had put the interpretation that you have, that it was a condition of universal application. Naturally, the Harijans come under the general conditions. I am glad that villagers are proving a tough job. It is good education for them and for us. The workers should neither lose faith in themselves nor patience with the villagers. I am glad that both Urmila Devi and Ba are keeping their health. I came upon Madhavan Nair’s letter after having dictated this letter to you. Please therefore share this letter with him and let it be regarded as a joint letter. Though I cannot compete with you in the strenuous labour you are going through, I have my work cut out for me and I have to economize time in order to be able to overtake the growing correspondence and the increasing number of interviews.” 6  

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The workers undoubtedly deserve warm thanks for the zeal with which they have been working. Please give them all my love. If you will not become jealous of your wife, let me tell you that everyone who had returned from Calicut tells me that whilst you have been good, your wife has been ever so much better. She has been working tirelessly and with utter self-effacement and if all the women of Malabar are as good, Malabar must be an extra- ordinary good place to live in. I discount all this testimony, and Mrs. Gopala Menon must be an exceptional woman, for, if all the Malabar women were as good as she is, Malabar could not be the worst place in India for untouchability. All this is meant more for her than for you so please share this letter with her and give her my warm congratulations.” 7

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have read a notice or manifesto by Sjt. M. K. Acharya of which he has sent me a copy. I send you both the leaflet and Sjt. Acharya’s notice. If the notice correctly sets forth the purport of the leaflet, it is disturbing, and the comments made by Sjt. Acharya are quite justified. The people of Ponnani Taluka are being asked not whether they would save my life or let me die, but whether they, being themselves believers in temples as an integral part of Hinduism, are prepared to have the temple doors opened for the admission of Harijans. According to the English notice, you have befogged the issue, and that is just the charge brought by sanatanists against us and especially me, as you know they say that the contemplated fast, instead of making the people decide on the rights and wrongs of temple-entry, will take their minds away from temple-entry and lead them against their wishes to give their votes any way so as to save me. If such were the result of my fast, it would be a tragedy. I should expect co-workers, therefore, to tell the people not to be affected by the fast, but to vote for or against temple-entry according to their hearts. You will now please write to me fully, first, as to the notice, and secondly, as to what has been generally done, and if you discover that people have been misled, do not hesitate to tell me so. I will have no compunction in owning the mistake, retracing my steps and postponing the fast. It would be farcical to take a referendum again if the people have been already misled by an altogether false issue having been presented to them. Whereas if Sjt. Acharya’s charge cannot be sustained, you will please give me chapter and verse in support of your statement and it will give me new strength and new hope. You will confer with Madhavan and Kelappan. I do not know whether Rajaji would be there, or Sadashivrao, at the time you receive this letter. You will please telegraph to me the substance of the reply you would make.” 8

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have read a copy of the manifesto or notice issued by Sjt. M. K. Acharya. He has attached to it a copy of the leaflet said to have been issued by you. Will you please send me your comments on it?” 9 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Will you please read the enclosed letter about the lady mentioned therein, and tell me all about her, and whether the statements made in the letter are true?” 10 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Now that the fast is off 2 for the time being, I shall watch what work Kerala is going to put in. The taking of signatures to the memorial is, I hope, proceeding apace. You should report the number taken from day to day. You must have fixed a time-limit. The work of educating public opinion should continue side by side with constructive work amongst the Harijans.” 11

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Satyagraha regarding Guruvayur in the old style is not to be thought of just now. We must for the moment concentrate upon the passing of legislation and educating public opinion in favour of complete removal of untouchability and in getting those temples opened which are private properties or about which both the trustees and the public are agreed. Therefore our programme should be threefold: Firstly, meetings all over the country urging the Government of India to provide all facilities in their power for the introduction and consideration of the two Bills and appealing to the members of the House generally not to obstruct the passage of the Bills, regarding them as measures demanded by the dictates of humanity and noninterference with anybody’s private faith, and appealing to the Hindu members to vote solidly for the measures so as to leave Hindu conscience complete freedom of action regarding untouchability. Secondly, you have to carry on house-to-house propaganda amongst caste Hindus and induce them to show in a concrete manner that they have ceased to believe in untouchability as it is practiced today. Thirdly, propaganda should be carried on amongst Harijans with reference to the observance of the laws of cleanliness and abstention from food and drink forbidden by Hinduism. And all this work should be carried on by men of character who have a living faith in Hinduism.” 12

 

Reference:

 

  1. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, May 26, 1931
  2. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, November 3, 1932
  3. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 6, 1932
  4.   LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 9, 1932
  5. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 10, 1932
  6. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 14, 1932
  7. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 20, 1932
  8. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 21, 1932
  9. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 22, 1932
  10. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 24, 1932
  11. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, December 31, 1932
  12. LETTER TO U. GOPALA MENON, February 2, 1933

 

 

 

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